Date ►►► April 28, 2011
Will "Director" Petraeus Betray Us, or Hooray Us?
With the news that President Barack H. Obama intends to name Gen. David Petraeus Director of the Central Intelligence Agency -- after current top spook Leon Panetta, who spent a couple of years in the Army, shifts to being Secretary of Defense -- we are left with a series of known (and unknown) unknowns. After all, Petraeus has been in the Army for decades and could not thus enunciate his own political positions and opinions; he could only support the policy of the Commander in Chief under whom he served, whether that was Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, or Obama.
Given that tabula rasa, we must identify at least a few of the conundrums:
- Most urgently, can Petraeus actually master an out-of-control, leak-crazy, internationalist progressivist CIA... or at least render it somewhat less anti-American?
- Does the appointment mean that the CIA will actually become more like it's "predecessor," the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II? That is, will the CIA show more interest in furthering America's military aims and less in trying to pick the next president?
- Does the appointment mean that David Petraeus is interested in heading into electoral politics next?
- Does it show Petraeus is going to "come out" as a Democrat to run against the Republican incumbent in 2016?
- Does it mean Obama has changed his mind about the need for the United States to have a strong and vigorous intelligence community to further American goals... or does it mean Petraeus has grown in office and now supports Obamunism, full and stark?
What will happen to the Afghanistan war effort as Petraeus withdraws, ushering in Marine Lt.Gen. John R. Allen as Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) -- a man who has no Afghanistan experience whatsoever? Though Gen. Allen certainly does have battlefield experience in the War Against Radical Islamism: He was Deputy Commanding General in al-Anbar province, Iraq, during the Iraq war.
But what type of commander is he? Is he like Petraeus, with a deep understanding of contemporary counterinsurgency strategy? Or is he more akin to the Shinseki-ites devoted to the Powell Doctrine of endlessly refighting WWII in all the dorky, little countries found in what Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of the Pentagon's New Map, aptly calls the "Non-Integrating Gap?"
I doubt anyone can answer these questions authoritatively at this juncture in time, as Nixon was wont to say; but they are indeed critical queries.
And here is the last and most pregnant:
- Will the appointment receive vigorous examination during Senate confirmation hearings, in order to answer some of these unknowns, among others? Or will Republicans and Democrats alike give the war hero a pass -- the former because he is a war hero; the latter because he will have been appointed by the Obamacle, whom all Democrats must prop up and buttress in every imaginable way for the 2012 election?
At the moment, President B.O.'s deft and crafty move has handed us a Petraeus in a poke.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► April 27, 2011
So That's Been the Problem All Along!
At long, long last, the key to true and lasting peace in the Middle East has been discovered:
Palestinians have reached initial agreement on reuniting their rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza, officials from both sides said Wednesday, a step that would remove a main obstacle in the way of peace efforts with Israel....
The internal rift has prevented the Palestinians from speaking in one voice. That, in turn, has made it next to impossible to move ahead with peace efforts with Israel. Talks have been stymied for months over a dispute about Israeli construction in West Bank settlements, but the unity issue has lurked prominently in the background.
As we know, a final solution to Palestinian victimization -- i.e., the withdrawal by Israel back to its pre-1948 borders -- is the magic wand that will end all these uprisings and mass murders throughout the Moslem Middle East. Yet Israel still seems a bit sulky, unless it's just Benjamin Netanyahu being a dadburned obstructionist again:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a quick rejection of a Hamas role in a Palestinian unity government. Israel refuses to deal with Hamas, which does not recognize a place for a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East and has sent dozens of suicide bombers and thousands of rockets into Israel.
"The Palestinian Authority must choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas," Netanyahu said in a statement. "Peace with both is impossible because of the Hamas goal of destroying the state of Israel, which it expresses openly," he said, pointing to the ongoing rocket attacks.
"I believe the whole concept of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority," he said, raising the prospect of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank as well as Gaza.
Thankfully, our own Administration is neither so recalcitrant nor dewy-eyed about this monumental breakthrough in the annals of world brotherhood:
In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the U.S. supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms that promote peace, while cautioning that "Hamas ... is a terrorist organization which targets civilians." He said any Palestinian government must recognize Israel and renounce violence.
As Vietor's boss might put it, the Hamas-led new "unity" government must recognize Israel; and if it doesn't, then the president might become downright testy and issue a sterner proclamation: Hamas must go!
That should wrap up any concerns on Israel's part, so the dismantling can proceed.
Date ►►► April 25, 2011
Easter Egg on B.O.'s Face
Given that Barack H. Obama has commemorated every Moslem holiday and holy day on the calendar; and given that he had ample notice what time of year it was, since he participated in the annual "Easter Egg Roll" at la Casa Blanca today, the day after Easter Sunday; and given that he signally and (it is obvious) deliberately refrained from any form of commemoration of the most important holy day in Christendom... I cannot but take as my default position that Barack Obama is, in fact, a Moslem.
It's still a rebuttable default; but if he has been trying to rebut it, it's not evident to me. He can ramble on about being beyond good and evil, or whatever he claims; but I say it's spinach, and I say to heck with it. If he were really above the fray, then either he would commemorate all major religious holy days, or none.
So until he proves otherwise -- and I no longer take his bare word for it -- I shall consider Barack Hussein Obama to be a Moslem, or as near as makes no difference.
(Could that be why he won't release his full, long-form birth certificate? Back in '61, many states still listed the religion of the newborn baby -- I don't know whether Hawaii was one. Admittedly, even if it did, it would be logically meaningless: A baby has no "religion" per se; that's what confirmation is for. Nevertheless, it might still be terribly embarassing and hard to explain if that box was filled in with an "M"!)
Atlas Shrugged: Not Great, But Damned Good
Atlas Shrugged is not a great movie, but I agree with the critic who wrote over the weekend that it is interesting enough that it might generate interest in making a movie of Ayn Rand’s novel that could be great.
After all, how many remakes have we seen of Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, Huckleberry Finn, and, for God’s sake, the Three Musketeers? How many Gulliver’s Travels? Or when you get down to it, how many Hamlets, Romeo and Juliets, and Julius Caesars? Lots! And only some of them are really, really good. Some of them are downright rank! There were even a couple of tries, albeit via animation, before Hollywood got down to making a really good version of Lord of the Rings.
I’m not saying that only movies that have gargantuan budgets are worth seeing, but with a movie about what may be one of the most important books of the 20th century needs something a little more ambitious than a made-for-TV budget. It needs someone of the stature of John Williams or Danny Elfman to compose a truly stirring, memorable score. Rand deserves a rising heroic lyrical score that will remind listeners of Rachmaninoff, the only composer she ever mentioned as having admired.
Recently the wonderful Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books by Stig Larson were brought to the screen in Swedish versions. They generated enough interest that now they are being made in English versions with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the leading roles. That’s not to say that the Swedish versions were no good, but I am anxious to see what Hollywood does with these obsessively interesting and page turning stories.
The fact that Rand’s magnificent novel has finally been brought to the screen does not mean that we have to settle for this being the only time. If fans of the book generate enough buzz about the movie, and movie people in general show enough interest in what is, at its core, a philosophical masterpiece with a ripping good story that could be very exciting on screen -- we will get the movie that this book deserves. According to early reports, the number of theaters showing Part I has increased due to the buzz from people who saw it earlier this week.
Don’t think that I’m ragging on this movie. Not for a moment. It is amazing to see Atlas Shrugged brought to the screen in any form, and to see it in a coherent form that presents the story in a straight-forward manner is, to put it mildly, exhilarating. However it is a movie that, I fear, will only appeal to people who are already in a place philosophically where they can relate to it. Yes Rand Paul is probably going to fall over in a swoon the first time somebody says, portentously, “Who is John Galt?” And I’m afraid that they overdo it a little with the portentious and pretentious way that everyone says that. Reminds me of the early days of CNN when you would hear James Earl Jones intone “This is CNN!”
But for Joe Slobotnik, or even Joe the Plumber, who might be ready to hear a little objectivism, a lot of this will fly straight over their heads. I know because I deliberately saw the movie with someone who is not a liberal, and who leans rightwing for the most part, but who found the movie kind of tedious. I’m not going to be like all the “fans” of the movie who will refuse to hear anything bad about it because, damn it, it’s just so important that it even exists!
The movie I saw suffers from having far too many scenes that take place in boardrooms and, strangely enough, not enough talk about the actual philosophy of the book. The cast is very good, especially Taylor Schilling, playing a leggy, sexy, yet supremely competent Dagny Taggart, and Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden, inventor of the super metal which, being a Randian hero, he names after himself. Some of the bit parts, especially of the villainous and aptly named Wesley Mouch, played by Michael Lerner as a dead ringer for Barney Frank, are very well cast.
Probably the most impressive scene in the movie is when after moving heaven and earth Dagny and Hank take a ride on the Galt line railroad and across a beautifully realized bridge made with Rearden metal. That the scene owes a lot to CGI is one of the reasons I would like to see this movie done with a bigger budget.
However, for the moment this is the only Atlas Shrugged we have, so let’s enjoy it. If director Paul Johansson, who stars as a mysterious John Galt -- who has a habit of accosting creative, productive people in the middle of the night and persuading them to disappear -- raises enough money from this first movie he says he will make the two sequels. I’m hoping he raises the money. And in the current political atmosphere, where the government just ordered Boeing not to build a plant in a state other than Washington in order to escape striking unions, Atlas Shrugged may find its audience.
Date ►►► April 24, 2011
Doublethink in Dearborn - the Meshugas in Michigan
Here is what passes for the new American credo from Michigan, where Rev. Terry Jones is on trial before a hastily convened jury; he is charged, it appears, with what the late Timothy Leary called "injudicious use of the First Amendment."
First, the set-up:
Controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones, a Koran-burning advocate who has sparked Muslim outrage worldwide, including deadly riots in Afghanistan, held court to a media throng as he defended himself in a trial here that pitted his free-speech rights against fears of public violence in the nation’s largest Arab-American community.
The hearing was a legal rarity -- a jury trial after Rev. Jones declined to pay a city-ordered peace bond that the county prosecutor said was needed to cover security costs associated with the minister’s planned protest near the nation’s largest mosque on one of Christianity’s holiest days, Good Friday. The estimated cost of the bond was $46,000. The pastor of the tiny Florida congregation has pledged to return next week if today’s protest is thwarted by the trial.
A three-man, four-woman jury was quickly impaneled at District 19 court in Dearborn late Thursday afternoon after Rev. Jones, who said he would continue with his plan to protest outside the Islamic Center of America, refused to pay the bond request and asked for trial.
And... the response of the judicial branch of the city government. You really have to read it to believe that anyone would actually say such a thing out loud -- and to the press. But there it is, in black and blue:
Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran said the case was not simply about free speech rights but rather safety.
“We’re not here to suppress open speech or prevent someone for saying what they want to say, nor are we here because we don’t like the message that this defendant brings,” he told the jury. “We are here because the conduct of the respondents will likely respond in a breach of the peace. It will be a fracas, a riot. “
The police are not here to suppress your freedom of speech; we're only here to stop you from using it when your opponents have threatened violence in response!
Sometimes, you look at them and wonder. Other times -- you just look.
Date ►►► April 22, 2011
NLRB: Boeing Must Build New Plant in Unionista WA, Not Business-Friendly SC
This piece by GW at Wolf Howling is a real eye-dropper: Evidently, the National Labor Relations Board is trying to force Boeing to build its new plant, not in business-friendly South Carolina, as they plan, but in union-loving Washington state -- for that explicit reason. The acting general counsel of the NLRB argues that it's "unlawful" for Boeing to take into consideration the repeated strikes and other labor activism against Boeing in WA, when deciding where to build its new plant.
Here's a quick quote from the New York Times piece that GW cites in the blogpost:
In its complaint, the labor board said that Boeing’s decision to transfer a second production line for its new 787 Dreamliner passenger plane to South Carolina was motivated by an unlawful desire to retaliate against union workers for their past strikes in Washington and to discourage future strikes. The agency’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said it was illegal for companies to take actions in retaliation against workers for exercising the right to strike.
Of course, Boeing isn't "tak[ing] actions in retaliation against workers;" it's taking actions to build a new plant where it will be more profitable. The only effect upon existing Boeing workers in Washington is that they might have anticipated there would be more jobs there, and now that won't eventuate.
As GW writes in his post:
The Obama radicals on the NLRB now seek to vastly expand the scope of those provisions to a point that corporations would now become captives of unionized, closed shop states.
I don't normally write just to highlight someone else's blogpost; but this expansion of the reach of the NLRB is such a corrupt enormity that I feel compelled to spread knowledge of it as far and widely as I can. Wolf Howling is absolutely correct to sound the alarm on this stunning decision.
More from the Times:
The labor board said that in 2007, Boeing announced plans to create a second production line that would make three 787 Dreamliner planes a month in the Puget Sound area to address a growing backlog of orders. That was to be in addition to a line already making seven Dreamliners a month there. In October 2009, Boeing said it would locate its second line at a new, nonunion plant in South Carolina.
The N.L.R.B. asserted that on numerous occasions Boeing officials had communicated an unlawful motive for transferring the production line, including an interview with The Seattle Times in which a Boeing executive said, “The overriding factor was not the business climate. And it was not the wages we’re paying today. It was that we cannot afford to have a work stoppage, you know, every three years.”
Mr. Solomon brought the complaint after a union representing many of Boeing’s Washington workers, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, complained that Boeing had decided to move production to South Carolina largely in retaliation for a 58-day strike in 2008.
“Boeing’s decision to build a 787 assembly line in South Carolina sent a message that Boeing workers would suffer financial harm for exercising their collective bargaining rights,” said the union’s vice president, Rich Michalski.
In this case, "would suffer financial harm" means "would not get the big reward they expected their strikes to confer." In other words, the National Labor Relations Board now contends that federal labor law requires not only that strikes be allowed, the law also requires that strikes be effective and advance the union's cause.
Thus if Boeing workers go on strike, the law now forbids Boeing from taking steps to mitigate the damage to the company, such as siting new plants in business-friendly states. Rather, Boeing is required to build all new production lines in heavily unionized states, precisely in order to maximize the damage that unions can inflict upon Boeing (a.k.a., the punching bag).
How ironic that the movie version of Atlas Shrugged is in theaters right now, and by all accounts is "unexpectedly" popular and rapidly picking up steam. Will the NLRB next force Boeing to rename itself the Twentieth Century Aeroplane Company?
Date ►►► April 18, 2011
Iraq: Oily "Evidence"
Secret documents prove that the Iraq war really was all about stealing their oil!
Well... not really; a close reading of the Independent (U.K.) article discloses far less than meets the eye. Let's have a look, shall we, and see what the memos say -- and more important, what they don't say.
All the "secret memos" appear to come from a single source: Elizabeth Conway Symons, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, who was Trade Minister in the United Kingdom from 2001-2003, including when the invasion began. Here's the juicy lede:
Plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.
The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain's involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair's cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Secret plans -- exploitation -- clandestine meetings -- claims of WMD. The obvious conclusion to which most readers will leap (or be pushed) is that the evil George W. Bush and his lapdog Tony Blair conspired to loot Iraq of its oil, and that that was the real reason for our invasion. But read a bit deeper, and you find the specifics that debunk the lurid implication.
There were indeed meetings between the government of the United Kingdom and various oil companies, mainly British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell; but what they actually discussed was the feasibility of "lobbying" the United States to open oil sales in Iraq -- not theft, sales -- to companies other than France's TotalFinaElf; under Saddam Hussein, TFE enjoyed a virtual monopoly... primarily because France cheerfully bribed the bloodthirsty dictator, cutting him in for a personal percentage under the table:
The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP's behalf because the oil giant feared it was being "locked out" of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.
Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: "Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis."
The minister then promised to "report back to the companies before Christmas" on her lobbying efforts.
The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq "post regime change". Its minutes state: "Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity."
After the invasion and overthrow of the Hussein regime, the monopoly contracts were indeed nullified, allowing oil companies from many countries other than France to bid on the oil, including Dutch, Chinese, and of course British companies. The Iraqis retained ownership of their own wells, oil, and natural gas; and of course they reaped the benefit of the free-market bidding between the companies:
The 20-year contracts signed in the wake of the invasion were the largest in the history of the oil industry. They covered half of Iraq's reserves -- 60 billion barrels of oil, bought up by companies such as BP and CNPC (China National Petroleum Company), whose joint consortium alone stands to make £403m ($658m) profit per year from the Rumaila field in southern Iraq.
Last week, Iraq raised its oil output to the highest level for almost decade, 2.7 million barrels a day -- seen as especially important at the moment given the regional volatility and loss of Libyan output. Many opponents of the war suspected that one of Washington's main ambitions in invading Iraq was to secure a cheap and plentiful source of oil.
Note the completely unsourced, vague, and gratuitous non-sequitur at the end of the paragraph above; that is literally the only reference in the story to the pro-Hussein and anti-American conspiracy theory to which the first two paragraphs slyly allude.
To boil a long story down, Bush was urging the Coalition of the Willing to help invade Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein; and the foreign governments, while signalling their willingness, were also saying that they did not want to be "locked out" of bidding for Iraq's oil.
During the long, criminal reign of Hussein, only the corrupt were allowed access; why should countries like the Netherlands, who had no direct connection to Iraq, fight to liberate that country if they would still be frozen out of normal trade relations? Great Britain felt the same way: "Yes, we'll help... but it's a bit thick to ask us to spill British blood and treasure just to benefit the French."
To me, it seems a reasonable request.
So that's the poop on the insidious Iraqi document-dump drama. How much you want to bet that the usual suspects will rewrite the story to try to vindicate the most insane charges by the loony Left, International ANSWER, anti-war radicals... and somehow blame it all on George W. Bush.
And probably on the Koch brothers as well -- the current bête noire of Progressive-obsessive magpie media, such as the Hufflepuffington Post, Daily Kos, Think Progress, and the New York Times. Birds of an oily feather.
Date ►►► April 16, 2011
Can't Buy Me Love - But How About Reelection?
President Barack H. Obama plans to raise north of one billion dollars for his reelection:
By inaugurating what could be the first $1 billion campaign in history so early, Obama has gotten the jump on a scattered GOP field reluctant to take the plunge and hits the starting line months earlier than George W. Bush did for his 2004 reelection bid.
Note that this is the amount Obama personally plans to raise; it doesn't include the expenditures by the Democratic National Committee, monetary and in-kind contributions by labor unions and "Progressivist" corporations (that would be most of them), and of course moneys raised and spent by "independent" political groups, such as MoveOn.org, George Soros's Open Society Institute, MALDEF, National Council of La Raza, CAIR, Big Media, the Mafia, and so forth.
The early announcement is not surprising; under Obama's personalized version of the Live-In Constitution, the oath of office at the end of Article II, Section 1 reads:
The current campaign-spending record is $740.6 million, spent in 2008 by some fellow with the amusing, sound-alike name of Barack H. Obama -- which itself eclipsed the previous record of $345 million spent by George W. Bush for his successful 2004 reelection by a whopping 115%.
(John McCain also outspent Bush in the same 2008 election, but by a paltry $23 million.)
The odds are good that Obama can do it -- raise the money, that is. (I wonder how much of it will come, directly or indirectly, by a commodius vicus of recirculation, from his stimulus scheme?) But that begs the more arresting question: Does such staggering spending truly guarantee reelection for the Obamunist?
In general, the political establishment says yes, it does. The nomenklatura believe that there is a direct, one-to-one correspondence between money spent and votes received. Thus, our spendthrift president merely extends his claim that all government spending is stimulative to the equally vacuous premise that all campaign spending is effective: You may not like ObamaCare the first fifty times you see a commercial extolling it; but the 51st time -- or the 74th, or the 293rd time (billion-dollar pockets run deep) -- it will seem suddenly brilliant and indisputable.
Hence the meme that the biggest campaign spending spree wins the election, via argumentum ad infinitum. What I tell you five thousand times starts to sound true.
I cannot seem to find a site that lists the campaign expenditures for each major candidate for every presidential election; but I'm sure that it's usually the case that the biggest spender wins. However, I'm equally sure that there have been occasions, even in electing a president, where the biggest spender was the biggest loser.
Here is what's wrong with the reasoning. Most of the time, the guy with the most money is also the guy with the largest number of contributors. But recently, we've begun seeing a disconnect between those two measurements. In particular, with every election, the Democrats become more and more the party of the rich and agitated. Nowadays, the mean average size of Democratic contributions is considerably larger than for Republicans: The pachydermic pretender receives much smaller checks from many more people, while the Donkey king receives humongously larger checks from a much smaller number of contributors.
When average contribution amount per contributor is similar between the parties, then moneys received is a good proxy for electoral support. But when a large gap yawns between the parties, then a candidate can receive less money overall than his opponent, yet still have a significantly larger base of support in a one man, one vote election.
At that point, the big-money low-support candidate must use some of that moolah, not to put too fine a point on it, to butter-up, browbeat, bribe, and even bamboozle voters to support him:
- Vote for Joe because that's what all the smart people like you are doing.
- -- because you won't get a moment's peace if Joe loses.
- -- because Joe will "bring home the bacon" (and make you pay for it later in taxes; but you'll pay them anyway, and this way you'll get something as well as forking something over).
- -- because Joe supports everything you stand for... and everything your mortal enemy stands for, too!
In the present case, for example, President B.O. will spend hundreds of millions of 2012 dollars trying to make voters believe that his reelection he is a spending-cutter, strong on national defense, a great believer in American exceptionalism, a health-care reformer, and above all, a big-time job creator; that he'll "soak the rich" for trillions of dollars of free money, just for you; that if you vote Republican, your grandmother will be forced to live under a rock and eat dog food; and that Obama's reelection is inevitable anyway, because he's the strong horse!
Imagine an ad buy pushing all of the above... a billion dollars worth. Well, you don't need to imagine; just wait a couple of months, and you can watch it unfold in "reel" time.
So why aren't I putting my head through a noose and pulling the trigger? Because something monumental has changed since the election of Bill Clinton: Americans are no longer hogtied to the Magpie Media. "Intellectual dissent" no longer comprises a chronically constipated George Will sniffing in on This Week with David Brinkley. Today, with a myriad of channels through which the average Dick and Jane can harvest the news, from outré television outlets like Fox News Channel and CBN, to conservative news-sites like Newsmax or the Washington Times, to a yearly raft of conservative books, to YouTube, Farcebook, Twitterdom, and direct e-mail. Patterico put it succinctly:
One of the most important points of Andrew Breitbart’s new book is that conservatives can use New Media to fight Big Media’s narrative -- and to reshape it according to the truth.
Obama focuses obsessively on trying to control the new media; he seems unaware that nobody possibly can: Even if the president spammed every e-mail account in the United States, I doubt he would net more than a handful of "road-to-Washington" conversions. Because the new media is to a large extent a distributed, non-local, unregulated, non-heirarchical communications model -- one that is rapidly being folded into the Popular Front for Liberty -- the very act of trying to dominate it turns consumers off.
If Obama is as ham-fisted with new media as he has been with the old, even his supporters will find themselves unmotivated to motivate to the polls; they will stay home in droves next year.
Presidential candidates need to learn what information and politicking their potential voters truly want from them. And honestly, what most of us really want is a deeper, more adult discussion of policies, as opposed to condescending head-patting and tut-tutting, coupled with extortive threats and sepulchral prophecies of doom. Democrats are real wizards at firing off phosphoric fabulation; but their content, based upon the Think Progress and Hufflepuffington Post model, leaves so much to be desired that often it can't even inspire the choir.
This election, this time, the GOP has the substance, the gravitas, and also the means to slither around the three-headed gate-keeper to get meaningful information into the hands and minds of the voters. And not all the money in the world spent spewing the same old Spam in a can is going to give Lucky Lefty any advantage against any reasonable Republican nominee. (Note I said reasonable; if the GOP nominates Donald Trump, all bets are off.)
Obama may still win; but if so, it will certainly not be because he burned his mountain of cash like a Kwakiutl potlatch.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► April 12, 2011
After the umpteenth time (literally!) I've read or heard the phrase "spending orgy" or "orgy of spending," I must finally rise to a point of language.
I strongly and stentorianly object to calling the economic policy of the Barack H. Obama administration a spending orgy: In normal parlance, an orgy is a consensual sexual gathering among like-minded, willing, even eager participants; and most particularly, everyone who gets blued and tattooed enjoys it.
This hardly describes the Obamic frenzy of wealth redistribution (from everybody else to the federal government). The vast majority of bluees aren't even aware of what's happening to them, but are nevertheless frantic with the inchoate feeling that something in their lives has gone dreadfully awry. Like Winston Smith, they feel powerless to resist collaborating even in their own destruction.
So let's have an end to corrupting the word "orgy" by associating such a pleasant pastime with unwanted financial violence, unendingly perpetrated upon an unwilling population by the bloodthirsty, bureaucratic undead.
I suggest a far more descriptive term: The Obama administration, with its Democratic co-conspirators, freebooters, yeggs, and sordid gallows bait, is engaged in fiscal wilding -- which leads inexorably to mass alienation of the citizenry, widespread solipsism, and the final collapse into inhuman decadence and societal self-immolation.
A more despicable enormity is hard to imagine in a Western liberal democracy. To borrow a phrase from the Demiurge himself... President Obama must leave.
Date ►►► April 8, 2011
The looming shutdown hits us harder than most. As you probably know, Sachi works for the U.S. Navy as a civilian engineer. According to the Department of Defense shutdown plan, for as long as the shutdown continues, Sachi must still go to work and do her normal job -- but she doesn't get paid.
We're supposed to be reimbursed later, when the federal government regains spending authority (via a DoD appropriations bill or continuing resolution); but how late is "later?" We can go a few paychecks without paychecks, but at some point it's going to become dicey.
Neverthelesss, Sachi and I both support the firm stance that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH, 96%) has taken so far: Above all else, we must hugely, dramatically, and permanently cut federal spending. We also support the "policy riders" cutting off federal funding for NPR, Planned Parenthood, and for the EPA's adventures in Globaloney-land; though it might be reasonable to bargain away the riders in the FY 2011 continuing resolution -- but not the FY 2012 budget and appropriations -- in exchange for even larger spending cuts, as Beldar suggested yesterday.
As you might expect, we're avidly following the discussion of what the shutdown will entail; we're particularly concerned that voters assign blame for the shutdown to those who actually caused it: the demagoguing Democrats and puerile president who set out to spend us into oblivion. Many political historians on both right and left (mostly left) blame the last two shutdowns in 1995-6 for Bill Clinton's resurgence and reelection the next year, and the fall of Newt Gingrich and the conservative revolution two years later.
In particular, folks blame one unfortunate remark by the Newtster the day after the first, five-day shutdown began:
At a breakfast session with reporters, Mr. Gingrich said he was insulted and appalled that, on the long trip aboard Air Force One this month to and from the funeral of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the president failed to invite the Republican leaders to the front of the plane to discuss the budget, and then made them exit at the rear of the plane.
In many voters' minds, that solidified the idea that a major motivating factor in the strong continuing resolution authored by Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Blob Dole was... pure pique at Clinton's lèse majesté towards Newt. To put it mildly, that impression did not help the cause.
Thus I was pleased to read this post by Beldar, speak of the Devil, to whose judgment I fake deference:
I'm no pollster, and in fact I'm intensely skeptical of public opinion polling as a proxy for the only polls that count -- electoral polls on election day. But I think there are two fundamental differences between now and 1995 that both reduce the political risk to the GOP now, as compared to then:
Beldar's two differences are:
- America is more polarized today than in 1995. Since there are fewer people truly on the fence, there are fewer who would be swayed left or right by the shutdown.
The proximate cause of the shutdown is not the GOP's attempt to cut federal spending; most voters want them to continue slashing spending anyway.
Nay, the real proximate cause of the shutdown is simple: The Democrats never passed either an FY 2011 budget or any of the major appropriations bills (which can be passed even if no budget was enacted), back in 2010, when they controlled both House and Senate by lopsided majorities (and the presidency, of course). Therefore, spending authority simply expires -- until and unless a new appropriation or a new continuing resolution is passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by President Barack H. Obama. The feds have cash... they simply have no authority to spend it!
So first, not many voters are undecided about whose fault this is; and second, among those who are, Republicans have a much better argument to make that it's the Democrats' fault.
But Beldar got me thinking, and I believe there are a number of other differences as well. I e-mailed a detailed list to him; in response, Beldar expressed faux befuddlement why I hadn't posted it on Big Lizards instead.
So what the heck; I decided to pretend that I hadn't realized it was a humorous remark -- which, considering my usual obtuseness, is an easy act to sell. Besides, I need a post today; and the only character trait more widely known than my humorlessness is my towering, colossal laziness. Since I'd already written the dadblamed thing, all I had to do was slap it into Movable Type, and voilà -- Instapost! (Apologies to GR.)
So here we go; five easy theses for why America, We the People, and Republicans are in much better shape to weather this government shutdown than any of us was in 1995:
- We don't have a bomb-throwing, conservative fire-breather as Speaker of the House, as many thought we did back then; we have the pedestrian but moderate-sounding John Boehner. It's impossible to imagine Boehner making the sort of petulant statement that Newt did in 1995.
- Back in 1995, the lamestream media enjoyed a virtual monopoly over news dissemination. Fox News Channel was still a year in the future; political blogs were barely extant before the year 2000 (even Instapundit didn't spring into existence until late 2001); political talk-radio comprised NPR and Rush Limbaugh.
Today, fewer and fewer get their news from the antique organs of unacknowledged bias; more and more read openly partisan media, both old and new. With many more viewpoints, nobody has a monopoly on spin.
- With the advent of consumer-driven news bias, voters of all ideologies have necessarily become less credulous and more skeptical, even cynical. Over the post-WWII decades, we've matured (or over-ripened) from Uncle Walter to cui bono.
Bill Clinton was a loveable rogue, and I'm sure he thoroughly enjoyed beating up on Newt Gingrich for the telltale snort. But it's an absurd over-simplification to argue that the government shutdown "caused" Clinton's reelection.
The proximate cause of Clinton's reelection was that "the party of orderly succession" chose to nominate lumpy Blob Dole against the colorful Comeback Kid. Imagine how the race might have gone had Don Rumsfeld carried through his intention to run for the presidency, and had he been nominated; he might very well have defeated the 49% president.
We don't yet know who will be the nominee in 2012; but if it's Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, or even House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan Himself (R-WI, 96%), I'm quite sure that he will do a heck of a lot better in debates, campaigning, and the eventual election than Dole's dismal 40.7%.
- Finally, today we have the example of 1995 before us; one presumes that this time, Republicans will make at least some effort to avoid the pitfalls (and pratfalls).
For all these reasons and those Beldar originally enunciated, I think we anti-Progressivists are in a much better position today than we were sixteen years ago.
And that's the way it was; keep the giraffe burning.
Date ►►► April 7, 2011
Stand By Your Clan: Progressivist Priorities Shall Remain in Effect During Shutdown
This just in from the Associated Depress (via the San Jose Mercury News):
Apart from the spending cuts, Republicans are demanding Democrats and the White House accept at least some of the conservative policy provisions included in the earlier legislation.
Democrats have already ruled out agreeing to stop funding the year-old health care overhaul or to deny Planned Parenthood all federal money. And Reid has said he will not agree to any of the curbs Republicans want to place on the Environmental Protection Agency.
To make it crystal clear, Democrats, including the one currently occupying la Casablanca, are perfectly happy to shut down the government, prevent people from receiving their tax refunds, wipe out tens or thousands of family vacations to the nation's capital (and Capitol) already planned and paid for, and oh yes, withhold the pay of our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen, along with the civilian employees of the Department of Defense who are so vital to our nation's defense.
But President Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-NV, 95%), and their Progressivist posse absolutely insist upon full funding for ObamaCare, full federal funding for abortions, and giving the EPA authority to wreck the economy trying to air-condition the entire Earth. Hey, you gotta draw the line somewhere!
Just so you know.
Date ►►► April 6, 2011
The Self-Executing Playground President
In our previous "Playground President" post, I noted Steven Hayward's boosterism of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 96%) and suggested that Ryan might well be the next playground presidential candidate. In response, infamous commenter Milhouse -- straight from his stunning success at persuading Patterico, the Unwary Godmother of conservative legal blogdom, that H.R. 1255 was indeed constitutional after all -- objected to Hayward's suggestion that Ryan should run for the presidency.
Our three related posts comprise:
- The Playground President -- in which we defined it
- Found - a Playground Presidential Candidate? -- in which we did find it
- The Self-Executing Playground President -- you're readin' it!
Milhouse's argument is that Paul Ryan has as yet no significant administrative experience; his comment (Milhouse's, not Ryan's):
Ryan has one huge flaw: he has no executive experience. What he needs to do is spend this term and the next making headlines as "Mr Budget", then either go for Speaker or else take a job in the administration elected in 2012, perhaps Treasury Secretary or OMB director; or else, if Scott Walker decides not to run for a second term in Wisconsin (having perhaps been lured to Washington), Ryan should run for that. Once he's got a term or two as governor or cabinet secretary under his belt, he should start thinking about the presidency.
Now first, please note that I did not endorse Ryan for president. Neither did I knock the idea; I expressed no opinion. I said that Hayward had persuaded me that Ryan would actually shake up the presidential race and had the best chance of being elected of any of the candidates I've seen so far. I likewise agree with Hayward that Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty are the only two others that impress me as potential winners against Barack H. Obama... so far. (This is more a response to commenter Mr. Michael than to Milhouse.)
But let's dive into Milhouse's objection; does Paul Ryan (or any candidate) truly need prior executive experience to (a) be elected, and (b) make a success of his presidency? We can start with the historical record.
From 1900 until just before the 2008 election, there were eighteen elected presidents; four of them (22%) had no significant executive experience -- that is, not the president, nor a governor, general, or cabinet secretary -- the first time they were elected.
(Note that I do not consider having been Vice President to be "significant executive experience": The office is undefined, other than post-mortem and breaking ties in the Senate; and the V.P. does not have a huge staff to manage.)
Non-executive presidents, 1900-2008:
- Warren Harding
- John F. Kennedy
- Richard Nixon
- George H.W. Bush (he was Director of Central Intelligence for less than one year)
Successful non-executive Chief Executives were slightly more common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; of the twenty presidential electees (Millard Filmore, Andrew Johnson, and Chester A. Arthur were never elected president), those without significant prior executive experience numbered five (25%):
- John Adams
- Franklin Pierce
- Abraham Lincoln
- James Garfield
- Benjamin Harrison
Looking over the list, the proportion of good, bad, mixed, and indifferent presidents seems about the same among those with previous executive experience and those without: Arguably, our greatest president, Lincoln, had none, while arguably our worst (until now), Jimmy Carter, was a successful governor of Georgia. Ronald Reagan (executive) was a great president; while Nixon (none) was great in some ways and terrible in others. Woodrow Wilson (executive) was a dreadful tyrant who tried to remake America, much as the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has; Adams (none) turned out to be a mediocre administrator and a weak leader. There seems little correlation between previous executive experience and competence, let alone greatness.
But let's get to cases on our current president, Barack H. Obama (none). Would anybody here argue that the worst thing about Obama is his lack of administrative ability? Good grief!
I believe the worst thing about him is his ideological blindness, his mad desire to create a hellish utopia, his reckless foreign policy, his hatred of Capitalism, his willingness to lie to the American people in order to accomplish his government-aggrandizing schemes, and his seeming belief that all the money belongs to the government, which lets us borrow some of it for a while (if we're good).
But we've seen all those attributes before in presidents with tremendous executive experience... for example, Franklin Roosevelt, who served three years as governor of America's largest state before being elected President of the United States. And he was as bad or worse in 1944, after having served for three terms as POTUS. (Talk about your executive experience!)
In terms of the epigram of the fox and the hedgehog, by the great, ancient Greek poet Archilochus (680-645 BC) -- "the fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing" -- I think we would have to say that Paul Ryan is a hedgehog; the one big thing he knows about is the economy and how to rescue it; while Obama is a fox, but a foolish one: He knows many little things, but most of them ain't so.
Not only can a hedgehog candidate easily defeat a fox incumbent, if his "one big thing" resonates with the voters and has sufficient gravitas to matter; but a hedgehog president can wreak profound wonders, if circumstances give him time and breathing room. Again, think of Reagan, whose two big things (a double-humped, bactrian hedgehog) were shattering the Soviet Union and rebuilding the American economy.
It would be nice if Ryan had had some previous executive experience; but if he was to wait until 2016, his moment might have passed -- either because a previous president already solved it, or because four more years of Obamunism will have utterly vaporized American economic exceptionalism.
I would ten thousands times rather see President Paul Ryan than President B.O.; and I would at least five times rather see President Paul Ryan than Chairman Paul Ryan; the former brings far more "welly" to the grand goal of gestating the Ryan recovery plan.
Date ►►► April 5, 2011
Found - a Playground Presidential Candidate?
In a previous post, the Playground President, we explored the possibility that one way to shake up the 2012 election and likely even beat the incrumbent Barack H. Obama was for the GOP to nominate someone out of the blue. I used the analogy of a basketball phenom who comes, not via the normal route of high school and college, but as a complete unknown from the playground.
I described the possible "playground candidate" thus:
- Type I: People who are already famous in a field outside of politics.
- Type II: the ultra-rich celebrity candidate who can self-fund his own campaign and don't need no steenkin' donors.
- Finally, there is Type III: the successful businessman who isn't a huge celebrity, but who exudes an odor of quiet fiscal competence.
I should have (but didn't) consider one variation on Type III: A successful politician who has, however, never been seriously considered as one of the "usual suspects," the pool where presidential candidates normally spawn.
Steven Hayward of Power Line -- who also occasionally contributes, or so I am told, to some other venue called the National Review, improbably enough -- believes he has found just such a man:
All of this raises the important question: Should [Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 96%)] run for President? Right now everyone is saying the Republican field is "lackluster" or boring. I don't happen to agree. I'm a fan of both [former Minnesota Gov. Tim] Pawlenty and [Indiana Gov. Mitch] Daniels. (I've seen Pawlenty in person lately and thought he was quite good, and getting better by the day.) But to the extent there is any truth to this, Ryan looks like the one person who could electrify the Republican electorate, appeal to independent voters, and sustain an argument against Obama that would make for a decisive election.
Ryan is young, has young children, and has lots of reasons to wait. But one can't choose one's moments in politics. I can imagine a set of circumstances in which his budget proposal gets little traction against White House intransigence, and by the fall the political winds are such that entering the race makes so much sense that he has to do it. And increasingly he looks to me like the single best candidate the Republicans could field next year.
So how does Ryan stack up as a modified Type III playground candidate? Here are some of the criteria I listed:
Note that Type III only plays well in an election that is (nearly) all about the economy -- like 2012.
Yep, sounds about right.
He would have to be seen as fiscally conservative and socially middle of the road; seen as a uniter (whether he turns out to be isn't relevant to the election itself); a non-ideologue; and definitely not a flamboyant, larger than life personality -- that's Type II, not Type III.
I believe Ryan exemplifies all these attributes so perfectly, we might as well paste his mug under the dictionary entry for playground president, if any dictionary would deign to list such an entry. (Oh, you know what I mean.)
He would have to be staggeringly wealthy but not too famous (else he falls into the Type II "Donald Trump" category instead).
This is where "modified" comes into play: Ryan is not, of course, "staggeringly wealthy;" he would have to get people to donate to his campaign. Call that a strike against him being a playground candidate.
He would have to come from the financial sector, not simpy an industrialist or technologist, like T.J. Rodgers (Cypress Semiconductor) or Bill Gates (Microsoft); his entire selling point would be that he can fix the economy.
Here is a bit of Ryan's curriculum vitae from Wikipedia:
Born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin, Ryan graduated from Miami University and worked as a marketing consultant and an economic analyst. In the late 1990s he worked as an aide to United States Senator Bob Kasten, a legislative director for Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, and a speechwriter for former Congressman, and Vice Presidential Nominee Jack Kemp of New York....
Ryan is the chairman of the House Budget Committee, where he has advocated for his Roadmap for America, a long-term spending reduction proposal which has received mixed endorsement from his party.
(The late Jack Kemp, longtime advocate of the economics of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, earned the nickname "Mr. Supply-Side" for his evangelism for that economic philosophy; he is probably the man who persuaded Ronald Reagan to cut taxes, reduce spending (to the extent that was possible), attack inflation, and streamline regulations.)
I'd say that's equivalent to a businessman coming from the financial sector. Back to my own criteria for playground candidates:
He would have to be statesmanlike but not come across as a political insider (else nobody would trust him).
Alas, I'm sorry to say that I suspect the next GOP candidate will have to be a white male with a Western European sounding name. Obama represented a breakthrough milestone -- the first serious black presidential candidate; and typically after such a bold result, voters retreat to the tried and true, especially when the "other" is viewed as a fatally flawed president, wildly partisan and stunningly inexperienced... which Obama is increasingly viewed as on both left and right.
His name is Paul Ryan (not Bunyan) for goodness' sake; and here's his head shot:
I believe Hayward makes a very convincing case that Ryan would shake up the race more than any other proposed Republican candidate; read his post yourselves and let me know what you think.
Date ►►► April 4, 2011
"A License to Cut" Medicare and Medicaid
My favorite blogger, ____ _________, at my favorite blog (_____ ____) has already put up a wizard of a post about Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI, 96%) plan to cut $400 quadrillion (or something like that) from the budget over the next ten years. To cut a long chase short, here's the nuts:
In that plan, Ms. Rivlin and Mr. Ryan proposed that Medicaid financing be converted into a block grant program, with states given a set allotment of money and new discretion to shape health coverage programs for the poor. Their Medicare proposal would allow those nearing eligibility to remain with the current system, and it would create a program that would provide payments to Medicare enrollees to buy private health insurance.
Top Republicans have been divided on how much to tinker with Social Security, given strong Democratic opposition, its less significant contribution to the budget deficit and the political explosiveness of making any changes to the program. Officials say the budget will probably provide guidance on how to shape Social Security based on recommendations from last year’s presidential deficit-reduction committee.
But somehow, ____ missed the Rep. John Yarmuth (R-KY, 100%) quote that really makes our limbs convulse like a high-voltage electroshock seizure -- in unadulterated glee at the profundity of serendipitous brilliance. Picture a hot under the collar, outraged, un-House-broken, union-label Democrat -- "I always voted at my party's call, and I never thought of thinking for myself at all" -- jabbing a meaty forefinger and spitting contempt:
Democrats said they intended to draw sharp distinctions between their approach and that of Republicans.
“The idea of block-granting and flexibility kind of sounds good, but it is actually code for cutting,” said Representative John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat on the Budget Committee. “It is a license to cut.”
By Yngvi, I think he's got it!
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