Date ►►► January 31, 2012
Metaphysical Musings Upon the Cosmic Newtonian Doom
I am completely convinced that, should Newt Gingrich do so well in the remaining primaries that it becomes clear he will be the nominee, then both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney will bow out and clear the decks for Newt's general campaign against Barack H. Obama. In fact, both of them would unhesitatingly campaign on behalf of Gingrich, in the urgent necessity to evict the occupier from la Casa Blanca.
Why? Because both Romney and Santorum are team players who recognize the most important goal is winning -- not picking who gets to be team captain.
But if, perchance -- per very likely chance -- it's Mitt Romney who does so well that after Super Tuesday, it becomes crystal clear that he is going to have sufficient delegates for nomination... I have no confidence whatsoever that Newt Gingrich would concede. On the contrary, I believe Newt would fight on, his attacks on Romney growing more and more vicious as Gingrich becomes more and more desperate.
I believe Newt would fight right up to the convention, and would then make a desperate bid to armtwist delegates into defecting, at least to force a brokered convention. I believe Newt would barnstorm the country, giving impassioned speeches about how evil, dishonest, rich, and corrupt Mitt Romney is (while virutally ignoring Obama), doing his durndest to damage Romney's brand enough that, in Newt's imagination, Romney's delegates realize Mitt can no longer win (now that Newt has so traduced him) -- so they may as well jump ship to the Gingrich campaign. It's Newt or nothing!
Newt's followers will see this as exhilarating, yet more proof that he must be nominated: "Only Newt has the guts to take the fight to Obama, bringing a Newtron bomb to the gunfight at the B.O. Corral, hounding the Occupier in Chief at every stop, willing to say or do anything to win. Why, in the face of Newt's relentless ferocity, surely Obama will drop out of the race in metaphysical terror!"
Of course, those who are not his followers will more likely see the refusal to accept the will of the voters as obsession verging on madness.
In fact, even after the convention, if Romney is nevertheless nominated, I cannot see Gingrich ever campaigning for his rival. Rather, I more easily see Newt, like Teddy Roosevelt, announcing a third-party bid for the presidency -- and with similar results: "I cannot let down all those intrepid, true conservatives who believe in me. We will fight on, and we will win! And even if we don't, at least we will have held true to our sacred principles, which is far more important than mere winning!"
And what if that third-party effort splits the Republican vote, just as it did in 1912, allowing Obama to "Wilson" his way into a second term with a minority of the vote? Well, so mote it be; can't make an omlet without breaking a few legs.
Why do I think this? Because I am convinced that Newt Gingrich sees himself as a rebel with a cause, a holy crusade that transcends all earthly politics: the recreation of the Republican Party and the conservative movement in Newt's own image.
In that sense, he is very like the One he seeks to supplant, seeing himself primarily as a transformative figure in world history, and only secondarily as a Republican. His catachismic incantation of those acts of greatness he will surely perform in his first hundred days is grandiose and more than faintly ludicrous; his skin stretches as thin as Obama's, perhaps thinner; Newt sees himself as the smartest guy in every room, whose ranging brilliance untethers him from party, ideology, principle, and internal consistency. He is large; he contains multitudes. Newt Gingrich stands beyond conservatism and liberalism, beyond Right and Left, beyond good and evil.
Newt is Nietzschean, the mouth of destiny. And if thwarted, he could decide to pull the temple down upon all our heads, to punish Mankind for snubbing its messiah. Now it's personal!
I did not form these musings before he jumped into the race; I've always rather liked him, especially because of his science-fiction connection. I was enthusiastic when first he decared.
But his cosmic campaign comprised little but cataclysmic explosions and excessive CGI. Just as when I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I was driven by the frenzied roller-coaster ride (who wants to ride a roller coaster for weeks without cessation?) to this conclusion: Newt Gingrich is our Barack Obama.
I hope that, unlike their Barack Obama, Newt returns to sanity and realizes that, especially with the trouncing in Florida, he simply cannot win the nomination. Why? Because it is increasingly clear that Newt could only win the general in the unlikely event that Obama so alienates himself from the entire electorate, even from his own wretched, corrupt party, that the Republican nominee essentially runs unopposed.
We may hope for such a turn of events, but hoping for the best of all worlds is not a viable electoral strategy. Better to nominate someone who has demonstrated not only ferocity but also gravitas, who is not a scrappy, fist-fightin' rebel (with or without) but is instead presidential. That generally works much better for Republican nominees.
Date ►►► January 30, 2012
Just a brief update on our last post, Newtmax.com: Today marks the fourth straight day of Newsmax.com nakedly shilling for Newt Gingrich.
There are a few stories on today's Newsmax page that neither bash Romney nor slather praise on Gingrich (like an overly generous schmear on a bagel). Mirabile dictu! Nevertheless, without exception, every single story that relates to the primary either portrays Mitt as a dimwitted orc or worships at the feet of old Saint Newt.
I used to jape that Newsmax was the National Enquirer of conservative websites. I believe I must amend that: Newsmax has become the ThinkProgress of conservative websites.
Date ►►► January 27, 2012
Heh. Here are the headline story and all of the Inside Cover stories on Newsmax.com right now:
Romney Backed by Goldman Sachs, Bailout Banks
More Stories (highlighted stories immediately below headline):
- Rev. Wildmon: Gingrich Can 'Fix' America
- Mark Levin: Gingrich Is Strong Conservative
- Discrepancies Found in Romney's Finances
- Romney Attacked Ted Kennedy Over ‘Blind Trust’
Smiley picture of Mitt Romney with following caption:
Inside Cover (front-page stories immediately below smiley Mitt):
- McFarlane, Shirley: Newt an 'Enthusiastic' Reagan backer
- Mike Reagan, Rush Limbaugh Blast Romney
- Rush: Romney Camp Behind Anti-Gingrich Stories
- Gingrich Ad: Romney Dishonest
- Palin: Newt 'Crucified' By Romney Allies, GOP
- Romney Backed by Goldman Sachs, Bailout Banks
- Romney Attacked Ted Kennedy Over ‘Blind Trust’
- Bill O'Reilly: Gingrich 'Bona Fide' Conservative
- Rev. Wildmon: Gingrich Can 'Fix' America
- Mark Levin: Gingrich Is Strong Conservative
- Conservative Establishment Gunning for Newt
- Short on Cash, Santorum Hanging on
- Discrepancies Found in Romney's Finances
- Obama: GOP Will Struggle to Defend Economy
- Gingrich:Use Reagan Model After Castro Gone
As Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) might have said, "Mr. President, we must not allow -- a media-bias gap!"
My favorite line in the anti-Romney philippic: After the picture caption quotes Romney as noting that all of his investments are in a blind trust, ergo he had no say over the investment in Goldman Sachs, one of the Inside Cover stories (promoted to More Stories) is the cleverly headlined, "Romney Attacked Ted Kennedy Over ‘Blind Trust’."
Obscur, Monsieur Ruddy; très obscur!
Date ►►► January 26, 2012
South Carolina's Newtron Bomb: Part 3 - The Rift in the Newt
Republicans in general and conservatives in particular should demand that Newt Gingrich start demonstrating some discipline -- and that Mitt Romney start showing some flexibility and spine. Newt habitually displays woefully too little discipline, while Mitt habitually has vastly too much! Dang, if we could only average them out...
Romney tends to overregulate himself, never stepping "outside the box." Newt Gingrich, alas, lives eternally outside the box that his fellow citizens inhabit.
Romney, the obverse, that boy needs to get out more and start showing us ideas that haven't already been gummed to death by everybody else first. But Newt, the reverse, needs to find his way back to the actual mainstream of America (whch is much more conservative than the mainstream of journalism). Come back, Newt, and all will be forgiven!
At this point, I'm more afraid of a Gingrich nomination and even a Gingrich presidency than a Romney nomination and presidency. It's akin to my reaction to the two main political parties: I have about as many disagreements with the GOP as I do with the Democrats; but the things I hate about the latter seem much more dangerous to me than the things I hate about the former.
Same with Mitt vs. Newt: The latter's savage, unfair, and leftist attacks on Capitalism itself, and his j'accuse against Romney for being "anti-immigrant" (which is liberal code for "racist") are far more damaging to the American experiment than are Romney's attacks on Gingrich for his (nonexistent) ethical lapses as Speaker or on Newt's lobbying -- as I now believe, having changed my mind since a few weeks ago -- for Freddie Mac.
Romney's transgressions damage only Newt Gingrich, or possibly himself, if there's blowback; but Newt's attacks strike at the very heart of the distinction between Right and Left: If conservatism can be deformed to encompass class warfare, racial favoritism, and hostility towards the normal functioning of Capitalism, then what is left of the ideology?
To me, today's Newt is more dangerous than today's Mitt: dangerous to the success of the presidential and related elections; to the presidency itself; and even to the Great Dichotomy between Right and Left -- Capitalism vs. command; individualism vs. collectivism; republicanism vs. authoritarian parliamentarianism; American exceptionalism vs. national homogenization leading towards one-world government. If today's Newt is nominated and even if he is elected, it will be a disaster for those of us who desperately cling to that which makes America different from all other nations.
But I'm holding out hope for tomorrow's Newt. If tomorrow's Newt can lasso his wild horses and start showing discipline and consistency in his rhetoric, adverts, and especially his attacks on Romney (he can still go over the top attacking Obama); if he can begin thinking not only broadly but deeply; if he can if he can start seeing his candidacy less as reviving Gingrich and more as restoring America; then my balancing act between Romney's timidity and Gingrich's mania might start tipping back towards the latter.
(Alternatively, if Mitt become bolder and more effectively aggressive about pushing a pro-growth, revivalist, and more American vision of America, then I might show even more enthusiasm for his candidacy.)
But honestly, both those candidates deserve a stern "come to Jesus" meeting for serially violating Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment.
What a pair! But given the alternatives, with Rick Santorum fading into the wallpaper and Ron Paul heading further and further off the wall, we're going to have to nominate one of those four-letter words, Mitt or Newt.
Our only hope is the sheer ferocity of Barack H. Obama's hatred of a strong and prosperous America and of mainstream Americans. Once we have a nominee, and assuming the loser will join the winner's campaign, we still have an excellent (much better than even) chance of ensuring that the obamachete is a one-term germ.
Our previous forrays into the eye of Newt and mitt of Romney can be found here:
- South Carolina's Newtron Bomb: Part 1 - the Unbreakable Thread
- South Carolina's Newtron Bomb: Part 2 - Newt In the Box
Date ►►► January 25, 2012
Spring Forward, Fall Back
I see that Newt Gingrich has a new talking point, but it seems a bit -- odd:
Gingrich also talked extensively about immigration policy in Latin America, and, in a nod to Cuban-American voters, he offered to push for "Cuban Spring" if elected president.
What, Newt will push for the Muslim Brotherhood to colonize Cuba? Or is he just completely out of touch with what the putative "Arab Spring" has actually wrought in the Middle East?
Another newtron bombard from Newt "Shoot from the lip" Gingrich!
This illustrates my problem with Gingrich as nominee, an October surprise every day. In the very same article, we find this:
The former House speaker ripped Romney's immigration policy, laughing off the idea of self-deportation that Romney had suggested during a Monday night debate saying it wouldn't work.
During a debate earlier this week, Romney said he favors self-deportation over policies that would require the federal government to round up millions of illegal immigrants and send them back to their home countries. Advocates of Romney's approach argue that illegal immigration can be curbed by denying public benefits to them, forcing them to leave the United States on their own.
"You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatically $20 million income for no work to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said, alluding to details in Romney's income tax returns made public on Tuesday. "For Romney to believe that somebody's grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this is an Obama-level fantasy."
You think Barack H. Obama's oppo research won't be able to latch onto the obvious rejoinder? Heck, the Romney campaign and even Newsmax caught on immediately:
But Gingrich's campaign has spoken of the self-deportation policy he ridiculed Wednesday.
Romney's campaign directed reporters to past comments by Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond, who said that only a small percent of illegal immigrants would likely be allowed to stay in the U.S. under Gingrich's plan. Hammond went on to say that the vast majority of them would likely "self-deport."
(And note, he is still sticking it to Mitt for being richer and more successful than Gingrich has ever been. Evidently, Newt really and truly has a great big grudge against Capitalism.)
Words pop into his head and bubble out his mouth without even a moment's pause for reflection. Can Newt Gingrich ever demonstrate the discipline to think twice before speaking?
Or even after?
I very much worry that conservatives, in their understandable zeal to find a candidate who is energetic in attacking the real enemy of freedom (Obama), will saddle us with the caffeinated squirrel from Under the Hedge -- a candidate who windmills his arms with great vigor, flailing ineffectually, producing "sound and fury that signifies nothing" -- but electoral disaster.
Date ►►► January 24, 2012
President Obama's State of the Onion, Boiled Down Edition for You to Stew Over
I take it as given that none of you bothered watching the president's SOTO (we certainly didn't), not desiring any more brain rot than you already get reading AP or the New York Tombs ("All the news we see fit to print!") But just in case your curiosity gets the better of your cerebral cortex, and so you needn't waste time reading a transcript of the speech or (gad!) listening to it on YouTool, Big Lizards has prepared a précis of our precious president's presentation.
It won't take long:
Friends, cronies, benefactors, and fellow citizens of the world. From this point on, I promise to govern like a Republican.
(Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.)
I'd like to thank each guest in the audience for the $4,000; your rubber chicken will be served momentarily. We now return you to your regularly scheduled pogrom.
Big Lizards: All the news you can eat!
Date ►►► January 23, 2012
South Carolina's Newtron Bomb: Part 2 - Newt In the Box
...In which we give NLG advice, just as if we knew what we were talking about!
Let's suppose for sake of argument that Newt Gingrich ends up being the Republican nominee for President of the United States. What, in that hypothetical, does he need to do in order actually to win, rather than humiliate himself and demolish the party (and country) in the process?
First, here's what he doesn't need to do: He doesn't need to continue fighting with the useless-idiot moderators at these debates. All right, all right, we get it; the lamestream media are biased against the Right. (And not only that... someone is wrong on the internet.)
But as effective as such Newtiments may be among conservative Republicans, that's how badly they play among independents and Reagan Democrats -- who we need in order to win the general election. Even if a question is unfair or vile and would never be asked of a Democratic candidate, ordinary general-election voters still want to hear an answer; to evade the question by attacking the questioner sounds... cagey, evasive, furtive.
It's all right to use a few seconds to bash the inquisitor; but then, for God's sake, answer the blasted question! Don't make it sound like you have something to hide, Mr. G.
Gingrich sort of did that in the Charleston debate when immoderator John King led off with a question about Marianne Gingrich's claim in an ABC interview that Newt had asked for an "open marriage." After lambasting King for asking the question, he did finally answer the question... sort of. But he spent a minute and a half attacking King, then another thirty or forty seconds backing up and running over the corpse once more (not only was King merely dead, he was really most sincerely dead). Sandwiched in between was essentially a one-word answer: No. Meaning, No, he says he didn't aske MG for an open marriage.
It played very well in the context of a primary crowd comprising conservative GOP voters in the deep South. But that approach will fall flatter than a platyhelminthes among those voters who don't consciously consider themselves "political."
Second, we don't need Newt Gingrich's penchant for a ten-RPM (revelations per minute) scream of consciousness, where idea follows idea so quickly that most viewers are left breathless and dizzy -- but not persuaded by any of them. Such machine-gun rapidity of thoughts, ranging from brilliant to downright goofy, leads to idea overload; the audience simply tunes them all out as random noise, turning Gingrich's soliloquy into "wugga wugga wugga economy, wugga wugga wugga space, wugga wugga wugga ObamaCare."
He doesn't need to prove that he thinks a plethora of thoughts; we got that already. Instead, Newt needs to prove that he can think deeply and popularly. He needs to pick two or three central themes -- two domestic policies and a foreign policy, for example -- and pound the living daylights out of those plans! Something with a simple, catchy mnemonic, like Herman Munster's "9 -- 9 -- 9," but with as much detail as Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI, 96%) "A Roadmap for America's Future."
Does Gingrich have the discipline to stick to the script, rather than branching out into an endless eddy of ad libs, regurgitating recursive rodomontade and increasingly repetitious rhetoric? Honest to Godot, I don't really know.
Third, the very last thing we need is Newt the Master Debater... because in the general, that's all it will be.
Anybody who thinks Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama is going to pick up Newt's gauntlet of three three-hour debates, mano a mano, also believes in the Truth Fairy. Obama has nothing whatsoever to gain from debating Gingrich. Heck, I wouldn't even be surprised if President B.O. refused to debate "nominee" Newt Gingich al all, not even a single debate.
The president has a remarkably easy way to pull that off: He dithers about debates until there is only one more time slot on the table. He reluctantly agrees to that debate, citing the press of "the people's business" and that he can't take time to play with Newt Gingrich.
Then, just before that debate, Obama deliberately and secretly precipitates a Crisis. This Crisis becomes all consuming -- and Obama summarily cancels the debate for the duration of the Crisis... which lasts into the final month of campaigning. And mysteriously, Obama just plain runs out of time to debate hapless Newton Leroy.
What would Newt do -- debate a GOP stand in pretending to be Obama? Debate an alternate Democrat to be named later? Debate himself? How many people do you think would watch any of those? More to the point, how many people who are not already Newtists will tune in?
Yeah, that's what I think, too.
If Gingrich's entire campaign is a series of Lincoln-Douglass debates -- what does that mean, Gingrich speaks, then Obama shows up the next day with a rebuttal? -- then what becomes of his strategy if Barack Obama simply refuses to play ball?
What we so desperately need from the Newtonian is a good old-fashioned retail campaign, with Newt's voice ringing "from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city""
- Newt speaking at Elks clubs and national monuments, college campuses and church bean suppers, Wall Street and a Detroit assembly line.
- Newt on the talking-head shows, conservative talk radio, and NPR.
- Newt flooding the airwaves and the internets with adverts, YouTubes, Tweets, and lots of "exciting news" on Farcebook and MyFace.
- A phalanx of Newtists whose full-time job is to anticipate the next attacks on Newt Gingrich and to make ready a forceful, pithy, and easily absorbed pushback to each attack. No attack should be allowed to stand unanswered for longer than fifteen minutes; so the Gingruption Rapid-Response Ring (GRRR!) had better know what slander the Left is going to hurl into the politosphere even before the Left itself knows.
- Newt campaigning among the peons. Newt answering questions quickly and decisively. Newt kissing hands and shaking babies.
In other words, Newt behaving like a regular nominee for the presidency... the same battle plan that would be followed by Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. That is the only way that Newt Gingrich would be able to beat Barack Obama; he can't just cruise above the country at Flight Level 350, delivering pronunciamentos via aerial bombardment. "As God is my witness, I thought those turkey ideas would fly!"
Does he have the attention span to conduct this type of campaign for month after month? Again, I just don't know; he strikes me as a bloke who bores easily.
If "Retail Newt" shows up, then we have a really good chance. But if it's just the old "Tsunami Newt"... well all I can suggest is that you put on your manly gown, gird your loins, and pull up your socks; it's going to be a bumpy ride, heading into a crash landing.
Date ►►► January 22, 2012
South Carolina's Newtron Bomb: Part 1 - the Unbreakable Thread
The best news out of South Carolina -- for all Republicans, independents, and even Democrats who dread a second term for Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama -- is that the rift between those GOP-primary voters who support Mitt Romney and those who support the current flavor of NotRomney both make the same argument: Each side claims its own candidate is the most electable against Obama.
So far, I have not heard the meme from either camp that if the Other is nominated, We shall sit out the election or vote to reelect President B.O. This is important; one of three men will be the Republican nominee: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum. It would be utterly devastating if, say, Romney supporters said they would not support Gingrich in the general, or if Santorum supporters insisted that if Romney is the nominee, they will sit out the election.
I still believe Gingrich is the least, not the most electable of the three (as his supporters imagine), and that he would not make a good president even if elected. Nevertheless, if he is nominated, I would wholeheartedly throw myself into his campaign without qualm or reservation. Similarly so for Romney and Santorum. I would even campaign for Ron Paul, should he get the nod... though I believe the odds of that are somewhere in between nothing and naught.
In 2008, I know a lot of conservatives and libertarians who were so enraged that none of their own was nominated that they did in fact refuse to vote for McCain; most just stayed home, but a few actually voted for Obama in a fit of pique. While I don't believe that was determinative -- Obamunism would have won the day anyway -- it might not have been such a butt-whupping, and the Democrats might not have ended up with such a stranglehold on the Senate. In fact, I believe angry, anti-liberal "protest-voting" handed us ObamaCare and the Trillion Dollar Spree.
Newt Gingrich has a boatload of marital baggage; he has a frightening unlikeability problem; he's no more consistently "conservative" than is Romney; he's unpredictable and gets more wild hairs than a Tazmanian devil on a splintery fence post; and he frightens the horses. As Wolf Howling notes, Newt does have a much greater ability to communicate and defend his ideas than does Mitt or Rick:
John McCain lost the 2008 election because he ceded the major issues to the Obama narrative. Outrageously, over half the nation still thinks that the subprime crisis was caused by Wall St. greed. Bush failed to reform Social Security because the left was able to demagogue the issue. The Bush presidency was crippled because of Bush's failure to directly challenge the left's despicable campaign to loose the Iraq war. The base understands this. The ability to communicate may well be the single most important skill for any conservative nominee for President today. As Erickson says, look back at Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush, and McCain, the only ones who have won have been those that unapologetically and vocally embraced conservativism. Newt needs to emphasize precisely that. [Note that by "won," Wolf Howling means "prevailed on policy;" GWB won reelection but had a miserable second term. -- DaH]
However, Newt has in the past abused that same rhetorical skill to defend decidedly anticonservative and unlibertarian ideas -- including the individual mandate of ObamaCare, stimulus packages, earmarks, and legendarily, Globaloney itself alongside Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury).
But with a conservative Congress keeping Newt's nose to the fire, he would surely be such an enormous improvement over Obama -- and not a single Republican have I heard denying that fact -- that I expect the entire Right and two-thirds of the center ultimately to vote for nominee Gingrich... assuming he doesn't manage to turn the entire election into a referendum on Newtism.
Similarly, even the most flamboyent Newtist would readily admit that President Mitt Romney is vastly preferable to the devil we have.
So keep fingers crossed that the rancor doesn't rise to the point where the shorthand slogans "anybody but Romney" and "anybody but Newt" become literally true, and the losers in the primary become spoilers in the general.
Date ►►► January 19, 2012
Under a 2010 rule from President Barack H. Obama's Interior Department, all "culturally unidentifiable remains" of persons who died in the Americas thousands of years ago now belong, by executive fiat, to -- wait for it -- "tribes whose current or ancestral lands harbored the remains." In short, every museum, university, or research center engaged in the evidently disrespectful crime of the study of Man must now collect all the bones they've been testing and ship them to whichever modern-day tribe lives closest to where the bones were found:
New federal protections could mean that most of the remains of an estimated 160,000 Native Americans held by universities, museums, and federal government agencies may soon be transferred to tribes.
Under the new regulations, museums and agencies are required to notify tribes whose current or ancestral lands harbored the remains that the tribe is entitled to have them back.
Back? When did they ever have them in the first place?
Yeah, well, kiss the field of anthropology goodbye: Regardless of where any particular tribe lives now, tribes collectively claim that tribal "Native American" ancestral lands cover all of North and South America; hence any non-European remains must be "returned" to tribes that didn't even exist five or six thousand years ago, when the bones were inside a living person.
This is exactly the sort of anti-science outrage that belies the claim that Obama or the Democratic Party has anything to do with "progress."
This ruling (that "unidentified" actually means "identified as belonging to some Indian tribe") is of a piece with the absurdity that all museums and universities should "return" Pharaohic artifacts to modern-day Egyptians -- who are not in any way related to the Egyptians who created those artifacts. Modern Egyptians are Arabs who speak, read, and write Arabic; they are much more closely related to Saudi Arabian Bedouins than to Ramses or Tutankhamen. They simply wandered into Egypt millennia after the Pharaohs' civilization collapsed -- squatters in an empty building who demand the return of all the paintings that used to hang in the lobbies.
And notice Obama's Interior Department offers no such solicitude for the remains of people of European descent; museums needn't return the remains of Conquistadors to Spain.
Let's state it bluntly: People who lived millennia ago have no living next of kin and do not belong to any modern country, state, or tribe. It's utter lunacy. Too, allowing scientists to study prehistorical remains does not in any conceivable way disrespect people living in modern-day "tribes"... even if we assume for sake of argument that tribalism itself isn't a barbaric anachronism anyway, generally meaning only a collection of people with the privilege to operate a casino in despite of local laws.
A big wet-fish handshake to President B.O. for this wonderful parting gift to the American scientific community. (I wonder if the latter, as other minorities have, will begin to rethink its abuse-ridden love affair with the Left?)
[Hat tip to Friend Lee.]
Date ►►► January 18, 2012
A Fig Leaf for Newton
Consider this an entry into the suggestion box for Newton Leroy McPherson Gingrich...
You're a brilliant guy. But brilliance is not a job requirement (or even much of a benefit) for the chief executive of... well, anything. But particularly the chief executive of the United States, the POTUS.
What we need in a president is (a) administrative skills, (b) a presidential mien, (c) charisma, (d) gravitas, and above all, (e) leadership. A dollop of imagination and creativity helps to turn a good president into a great historical figure; but without the bedrock requirements of a to e, a president's nothing but sass misspelled.
I think it's long overdue to burst your bubble: You are never going to be President of the United States... and you would be a dreadful disappointment if you ever managed it, a conservative Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama.
But that doesn't alter the fact that you're a brilliant, entertaining, and illuminating guy. So can't we put our heads together and find you a better gig than your current booking? Because, to be honest, man, you're running long.
First, let's identify your forte: What you have going for you more than any other characteristic is a scintillating, opalescent, amethystine tongue; if you were Irish, I'd say you'd kissed the Blarney Stone. So let's run with that for a moment.
Have you ever considered that your enduring legacy, your finest moment, your immortality might come from... just -- speaking? Ponder this: Instead of running for the presidency, a frutile and footless task, wouldn't your time be better spent barnstorming the country, giving pep-talks for conservatism and Capitalism and priming the GOP brand?
I honestly believe that the best way for you to save our country and perhaps Western Civ itself would be to terminate your interminable campaign, and get the Republican National Committee to fund a permanent job for Newt Gingrich, yourself, to spend the next ten years speaking at every gathering of a minyan or more of eager ears; to let the gospel of liberty, individualism, American exceptionalism, innovation, Capitalism, and genius ring from every village and every hamlet.
And, oh yes, to leave administration to the administrators, of greater or lesser brilliance.
At least that's how it looks to me. Mitt for la Casa Blanca, but Newton Leroy for the masses!
And while we're at it, let's talk about that "mining the Moon" idea; I have some colleagues who can give you a goatload of suggestions...
Date ►►► January 17, 2012
Tolerating the Intolerable
On January 10th, a panel of the 10th Circus Court of Appeals refused to lift a district-court injunction against certifying an Oklahoma initiative constitutional amendment that received 70% support from voters. The initiative would ban the use of international law and sharia law in Oklahoma courts, but the 10th Circuit held that it violated the Establishment clause of the United States Constitution:
A proposed constitutional amendment that would ban Oklahoma courts from considering international or Islamic law discriminates against religions, and a Muslim community leader has the right to challenge its constitutionality, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.
The court in Denver upheld U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange's order blocking implementation of the amendment shortly after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters in November 2010.
Muneer Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] in Oklahoma, sued to block the law from taking effect, arguing that the Save Our State Amendment violated his First Amendment rights.
"This is an important reminder that the Constitution is the last line of defense against a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry in our society, and we are pleased that the appeals court recognized that fact," Awad said. "We are also hopeful that this decision serves as a reminder to politicians wishing to score political points through fear-mongering and bigotry. "The amendment read, in part: "The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law."
Sidebar by Dafydd: What the circus court actually ruled on was whether the trial judge, Vicki Miles-LaGrange (nominated by Clinton and confirmed before the 1994 Republican landslide), "abused [her] discretion when [she] granted a preliminary injunction to prevent [the Oklahoma State Election Board] from certifying the result." They did not rule on the merits of the underlying case.
Ne'ertheless, the appellate court's ruling itself was based upon a shocking category error: The court mistook use of a binding judicial system for religious worship.
The Oklahome initiative bans a particular and well-recognized system for trying legal cases, which many Islamic countries have adopted. But the judges on the Tenth-Circuit panel -- Terrence L. O'Brien (appointed by George W. Bush), Monroe G. McKay (Jimmy Carter), and Scott Milne Matheson, Jr. (Barack H. Obama) -- inexplicably imagined that preventing binding use of that judicial system, utterly antithetical to the American judicial systems, was the same as preventing Awad from practicing Islam. From the opinion, page 18, and emphasis added:
In this case, the Oklahoma Legislature did not simply adopt a non-binding resolution opposing the consideration or use of Sharia law in state courts, it proposed and the electorate agreed to enshrine such a prohibition in the state’s constitution. Mr. Awad is facing the consequences of a statewide election approving a constitutional measure that would disfavor his religion relative to others.
The panel's confusion is dumbfounding. Mr. Awad is not complaining that he cannot practice Islam; he is complaining that he won't be able to force a bunch of other people to effectively practice his form of Islam, willy nilly, whether they want to or not. For that is what will happen if some jurisdiction of Oklahoma chooses to sanction a sharia court: Even Moslems who don't want to submit to a council of mullahs (a college co-ed who wants to date, for example) will either be forced by law to kow-tow to Islam, or will at the very least come under tremendous, state-sanctioned pressure to "voluntarily" submit to the religion whose very name means "submission."
By banning such sharia courts, Oklahomans want to prevent such discrimination against Moslems who prefer to live under liberty and rule of law rather than theocracy and rule by religious fanatics.
But let's take it out of the hot-button controversy of radical Islamism. Imagine instead a "spiritualism court" that springs up within a number of Eurozone countries, a court that uses a witches' brew of bibliomancy plus the testimony of dead people, via spirit medium, to adjudicate disputes, find living people guilty or innocent of a crime, and to determine negligence in a civil case.
If that form of jurisprudence were banned in Oklahoma, would that truly violate the Establishment clause? To quote Mr. Bumble, "If the law supposes that, the law is a ass -- a idiot."
No, of course not. Believers in spiritualism could still pretend to communicate with ghosts and could still decide life events by blindly opening the Bible and putting their fingers down at a random verse, which they could still interpret to mean they get to do whatever they wanted to do in the first place. What such a law would prevent, however, is dragging other people, non-believers in spiritualism, into that bizarre alternate world against their will. And that is all that the Oklahoma initiate does.
Mr. Awad has no constitutional right to have his cases heard in a sharia court, anymore than he has a constitutional right to have them heard in a spiritualism court; nor has he the right to live under a different set of laws than everybody else. It's an absurdity to suggest that requiring every citizen of Oklahoma to live under the same jurisprudence somehow violates people's freedom of religion -- unless you're also prepared to argue that modern-day Aztecs should be allowed to murder people because human sacrifice is part of their religion, and to prevent them from doing so violates the Establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution.
This panel is both a ass and a idiot; the injunction should have been lifted because Muneer Awad has no standing; he has no standing because he is not "injured" by this initiative; and he is not injured because he has no right to demand he be tried by a court whose practices are utterly foreign to American jurisprudence, for cripes' sake.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogpost by Sachi.
I don’t see how it can be considered unequal treatment, or even "anti-Muslim bigotry," for all Oklahomans to be governed by the same state and federal constitutions, the same law, and the same court procedures. This amendment does not prohibit practicing the "religion of peace" [actually, the religion of submission -- DaH]. So why would this violate anyone's rights, Moslem or otherwise?
True, the amendment mentions Sharia law in couple of places. I don't necessarily buy the supporters explanation that Sharia was used merely as an example; I am sure whoever proposed the amendment had the real threat of Sharia law in mind. I certainly hope he did!
But as long as the operative parts of the law do not single out Sharia -- for example, banning Sharia law in the Oklahoma courts while allowing, say, Catholic canon law or Jewish Talmudic law; and so long as the law bans all international, religious, tribal, or traditional laws that are not a part of American and Oklahoman jurisprudence (as it looks like it does), I don't see why that should be considered discriminatory or unequal protection.
Maybe it takes a lawyer to believe such a thing.
Awad argued that the ban on Islamic law would likely affect every aspect of his life as well as the execution of his will after his death. The appeals court pointed out that Awad made a "strong showing" of potential harm.
What aspect of Mr. Awad's life does this amendment affect so negatively? I am sure this amendment does not prohibit him from washing his feet before prayer, or pressing his forehead to a prayer rug five times a day. It does not prohibit his female family members from wearing burkas, unless the girls want to join JROTC -- wait, scratch that. So what upsets Awad so?
But perhaps he has other concerns. Is he discriminated against when the law prevents a future Oklahoma sharia court from allowing a Moslem father to kill a daughter who kisses a boy at school? Perhaps it's unequal protection under the law when devout radical Islamists are disallowed, despite sharia, from mutilating their toddler-daughter’s genitals. Or maybe Awad is concerned that his fellow CAIR-mates cannot practice their religion -- if their religion tells them to beat the living daylights out of a son for refusing to kill Mom, should Mom ever dare file for divorce against a violent Islamic husband?
Perhaps Mr.Awad demands only the right to stone to death some woman who was just gang raped, or a gay man who was caught in the act, or a female Christian or Jew who happened to wander into the sharia-ruled neighborhood without being veiled and swaddled and in the tow of a male relative. Awad is a reasonable man; he doesn't demand everyone become a Moslem... they can simply pay the dhimmi tax instead.
Yes, those quaint customs and laws enunciated by sharia courts around the world would certainly conflict with American-style jurisprudence. If banning sharia law would actually affect American Moslems’ lives in these ways -- and I hope it would! -- I am extremely glad that our federal Constitution and the Oklahoma state constitution are "discriminatory" against such savagery, bigotry, and anachronistic brutality.
Much of sharia law, Roman law, the Napoleonic Code, Talmudic law, the Code of Hammurabi, the Code Duello, and indeed contemporary, so-called "international law," is completely at odds with Americanism and the vision of the Founders, which we the people accept as our source of law, common law, and court procedures. And if Mr. Awad would like to live under such alternative codes, then perhaps he could move to any of a number of Islamist countries who will cheerfully accommodate his wishes.
But don’t force the rest of us to live under it.
What really upsets me is the hypocrisy of the appeals court. They say that "Awad made a 'strong Showing' of potential harm". But, Sharia law itself makes a strong showing of actually harming Moslems, especially Moslem women. If the state institutes sharia sectors within its territory, or allows mosques or Islamist madrasah to implement them, it will expand like a cancer until all Moslems in the state will be required or heavily pressured to live under sharia law; and that assuredly is discriminating (horrifically) against Moslems.
What happens to a woman who wants to marry a non-Moslem man, stay single and pursue a career, divorce her husband, or who is assaulted by her brother or father? The judges of the circuit court in Denver, as well as trial Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange (who issued the injunction against certifying the initiative), ruled that Moslem women need not be protected under the same law as other Americans. Again, only a lawyer could consider that to be constitutional.
Mr. Awad’s lawsuit reveals CAIR’s real intention: No matter what they say, their ultimate goal is to implement sharia throughout the United States, throughout the West, and ultimately throughout the entire world. CAIR fights through trickery, through "lawfare," through regulation and friendly legislation, and through our wackiest liberal judges. (This is collectively called Dawa, which is all elements of jihad short of full-scale war.)
The case now returns to federal court in Oklahoma City to determine the constitutionality of the proposed amendment. “My office will continue to defend the state in this matter and proceed with the merits of the case,” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement.
CAIR pretends Oklahomans' decision was an overreaction caused by unfounded "Islamophobia." However, we Americans, including the 70% of Oklahomans who voted for the amendment, know how incredibly dangerous Moslem extremists are. We all saw the devastation of 9/11 and the subsequent 10-Years War in Iraq and Afganistan.
But Moslems in the US are not and never were rounded up, segregated, forced to live under discriminatory "Jamal Crow" laws, or herded into concentration camps. Rather, Americans believe everyone in a jurisdiction should live under the same laws, not that bellicose pressure groups should get to live under their own private laws. That is the real equality of rights under the law and the real America that 70% of Oklahomans voted for, the America that no activist judge will be allowed to take away from us.
Date ►►► January 14, 2012
Awkward Angle over Archangel
I'm all in favor of authors self-publishing -- even though all my own novels have been published by Big Publishing, and I really have no complaints about that paradigm either. There are advantages and disadvantages to each; but the bottom line is that unless you're already a bestselling author, you're very unlikely to make big bucks (quit-the-day-job bucks) self publishing a novel. (And of course if you are already a bestseller, then why do you need to self publish in the first place?)
Still, I'm not averse. I have a pitch for a new SF novel -- my first in a number of years -- under submission right now... to Big Publishing. But hey, if that falls through, I have enough confidence in the novel, via my 26 friggin' years in the novel-writing biz, to spend what it takes to publish it myself.
But not through Amazon Digital Services, however.
Comes to that, I would publish through an independent company (Amazon will still be happy to make it available through the Kindle, of course). And if I go that self-publishing route, I promise, as God is my witness, to contract to make the book available via "print on demand" in a regular dead-tree version, in addition to digital media.
There must be many others like myself who just can't bring ourselves to read novels on screen, or even on e-ink; at least until that technology improves markedly, particularly in the realm of pixel density.
A high-quality print job usually uses a density of 1,250 dpi ([printed] dots per inch, a linear measurement); that gives the human eye the illusion of continuous print, like an old-fashioned inked forme. Display monitors aren't that dot-dense -- or pixel-dense, as electronic displays are measured. High-quality monitors can range from barely over 100 ppi (pixels per inch) in large displays to a maximum of somewhat over 300, but only on very small displays, like some cell phones. 300+ ppi on a large display would be prohibitively expensive, due to the cost of the display technology.
It's tough to compare dpi to ppi, because the wider range of colors available to monitors generally makes up for the lower pixel density. Except in black and white, however, where the only color is (surprise!) black. By a curious coincidence, black and white is the normal "color scheme" of the interior pages of most books. In that respect, the comparison is direct: 1,250 dpi, or even up to 1,800, in actual print, versus less than 350 ppi on the best (and smallest!) screens. The Amazon Kindle, as well as the Barnes & Noble Nook, clocks in at 167 ppi.
A more useful measurement than ppi (dpi) might be ppsi (dpsi), pixels (or dots) per square inch; since letters, punctuation, and other characters are two-dimensional, ppsi/dpsi gives you a better idea how dense each character is: A 167 ppi Kindle screen yields just under 28,000 ppsi; but a 600 dpi printed book translates into 360,000 dpsi. And high-quality printing, 1,250 dpi, yields a whopping 1.56 million dots per square inch.
I don't own a Kindle (or Nook), and I have no plans to buy one -- until, that is, it can display black and white text at a minimum of, say, 600 ppi. At that pixel density, the number of dots/pixels alotted to an individual character would be about 13 times as many as in the same size character on an e-ink reader. (The full 1,250 ppi, mimicking high-quality, slick magazine print, generates character images using 56 times as many dots per square inch as a Kindle or Nook.) That is a big, big difference... enough to spell the difference between what's comfortable for me to read and what gives me a headache trying to resolve the text!
All of which is preamble to my quandry: I am very happy to publicize the first novel by Aaron Worthing, Archangel (click the link to take you to the novel's page on Amazon)... but I cannot honestly say that I have bought or even plan to buy it. Worthing, as many of you already know, is an erstwhile blogger at Patterico's Pantaloons who recently admitted that the name is a pseudonym (Aaron Worthing, not the blogname).
I have nothing bad to say about the novel; the only reason I haven't read it is that I cannot read low-quality displays without cranial pain. Alas, since Archangel is only available in Kindle format, I can't read the darned thing!
Aaron is a great guy; and as Beldar says, the conceit of the novel is certainly interesting: a superhero who appears on 9/11, rescuing victims of the most evil terrorist attack in human history -- and changing history itself in the process. Alack, the low level of e-ink display technology prevents me from being able to enjoy a book that exists only electronically.
Aaron's novel Archangel might be as fantastic as the immortal Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, by Gary Wolf. Lord knows I hope it is... because then Aaron might indeed earn the Big Bux for which we authors ever seek, as Parsifal sought the Holy Grail. And that would illustrate the triumph of Capitalism, in all it's small-business glory.
So if you enjoy reading books on Kindle, I strongly urge you to buy ($9.99) and read Archangel... then please let me know what you think of it!
Date ►►► January 13, 2012
Dark "Gingrinchian" Speculation of This Friday the Thirteenth
All right, somebody has to aay it. Why not the guy who has about as much tact as a hungover Sam Kinison on an acid flashback? That is, why not Señor Lizard himself?
If Mitt Romney wins the nomination, as seems likely, then Newt Gingrich can have only one consistent and non-hypocritical response: Newt will be forced to campaign for the re-election of Barack H. Obama.
Given the level of Gingrich's hysteria, vitriol, and angst against and about Romney, any political action he undertakes other than full-throatedly calling for Romney's defeat and Obama's victory would reveal Gingrich as a two-faced, insincere demagogue driven by political expediency and personal vendetta, j'accusing Romney's Bain Capital of gleefully bankrupting companies just for sheer wickedness and nihilism -- like a modern-day George Soros -- and savaging the entire concept of the vital "creative destruction" of Capitalism itself.
As we like to say, Gingrich has painted himself into a hole, where he's busily sawing off the branch he's sitting on. It's long past time for him to drop out of the race (for sake of his circulatory system, if nothing else), go on Wanderjahr for a few months, then resurface no earlier than September, vigorously supporting Romney... with the implausible but irrefutable explanation that Gingrich had been suffering from Attention Surplus Sydrome, generating a negative-campaigning feedback loop.
His consistency/credibility factor will drop through the floor; but there are times when Ralph Waldo Emerson's infamous exhortation must take precedence over defending every attack one has ever made: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
At this point, there's no statesman littler than Newt Gingrich; so what has he got to lose?
Date ►►► January 9, 2012
To Russia, With Servility
The Washington Times newspaper reports -- take a deep breath -- that Barack H. Obama plans to share our ballistic missile defense (BMD) technology with Russia... including our newest mid-range missile, Standard Missile 3 (SM3).
When I heard this news, my mouth fell open, and I could not believe my ears (a bad face day). Surely even President B.O. wouldn't commit such a monumental stupidity!
In the president’s signing statement issued Saturday in passing into law the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill, Mr. Obama said restrictions aimed at protecting top-secret technical data on U.S. Standard Missile-3 velocity burnout parameters might impinge on his constitutional foreign policy authority.
As first disclosed in this space several weeks ago, U.S. officials are planning to provide Moscow with the SM-3 data, despite reservations from security officials who say that doing so could compromise the effectiveness of the system by allowing Russian weapons technicians to counter the missile. The weapons are considered some of the most effective high-speed interceptors in the U.S. missile defense arsenal.
There are also concerns that Russia could share the secret data with China and rogue states such as Iran and North Korea to help their missile programs defeat U.S. missile defenses.
Really, you think?
Why whould Obama even counterplate such a thing? What's to gain, even for the capo di tutti capi of gangster government?
Their thinking is that if the Russians know the technical data, it will help allay Moscow’s fears that the planned missile defenses in Europe would be used against Russian ICBMs. Officials said current SM-3s are not fast enough to catch long-range Russian missiles, but a future variant may have some anti-ICBM capabilities.
Ah ha. So the president also plans to leak our most vital secrets from tomorrow's missile technology as well. It makes perfect sense; as a Progressivist, he's a forward-thinking guy.
But really, why shouldn't we keep Russia on its toes? Isn't it a good thing if they're too afraid to invade Europe because they're unsure about our BMD capability? What good derives from letting our previous and potentially future enemy know our vulnerabilities?
Frequent readers of Big Lizards know that I test missile systems for the Navy. I just completed a series of mandatory annual "releasability" training; the instructors drilled us on what information we can and cannot release even to our allies -- Aussies, Japanese, and some (but not all) European countries.
The rules regarding foreign disclosure of military technology are very complex; even though we don't anticipate that the U.K., for example, will use our own technology against us, we nevertheless don't give away our state of the art technology.
Except, evidently, to Obama's new BFF, Vladimir Putin.
Ballistic missile defense (BMD) is part of our AEGIS defense system. AEGIS BMD is a countermeasure against ballistic-missile attacks on our seaborne platforms: destroyers and cruisers, as well as any other ship defended by destroyers or cruisers, including carrier strike groups, supertankers in convoys, and so forth. If this technology is revealed to our pals at the Kremlin, it will quickly be shared with hostile countries; it's like giving a gang leader a spare key to your front door.
Not only this is very dangerous, it is also very illegal; if an ordinary person did secretly what Obama plots to do with great fanfare, he would find himself the defendant of a criminal trial for espionage (unless he was a liberal reporter):
Section 1227 of the defense law prohibits spending any funds that would be used to give Russian officials access to sensitive missile-defense technology, as part of a cooperation agreement without first sending Congress a report identifying the specific secrets, how they would be used and steps to protect the data from compromise.
The president also must certify to Congress that Russia will not share the secrets with other states and that it will not help Russia "to develop countermeasures" to U.S. defenses.
The certification also must show whether Russia is providing equal access to its missile defense technologies, which are mainly nuclear-tipped anti-missile interceptors.
But we are talking about the Obamunist, who thinks laws for paupers don't apply to princes:
Mr. Obama said in the signing statement that he would treat the legal restrictions as "non-binding."
"[M]y administration will also interpret and implement section 1244(sic) in a manner that does not interfere with the president’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs and avoids the undue disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications," Mr. Obama said.
If Russia gets hold of our SM3s, then Red China will have them shortly. From Red China to North Korea is a short step... followed by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and of course al-Qaeda. How do you think Chinese Silkworm missiles (derived from a Soviet missile) ended up on both sides in the Iran-Iraq war? Where do we suppose Hezbollah in Lebanon got the more advanced rockets they're now firing into Israel? Who supplied the sophisticated IEDs that flooded into Iraq in the late 2000s?
I can see only one political benefit to President Obama from giving up our most advanced mid-range missile technology to Russia: When SM3s wind up in the possession of radical Islamist terrorist groups, it might precipitate a terrible, worldwide national-security crisis; and if the timing is just right, Obama might be able to frighten people away from voting Republican, from "changing horses in mid-stream." At such a critical moment, we don't dare switch presidents now -- times are just too uncertain!
Better the Obama you know than the Obama you don't. What a wonderful "October surprise" that would be, and... happy Halloween!
Date ►►► January 7, 2012
Does Social Santorum Trump Fiscal Santorum?
It's not an easy question for a non-conservative anti-liberal like myself to answer. First, I enthusiastically support some of Rick Santorum's social positions -- he promotes a more robust civil society; supports restricting legal marriage to traditional, one man-one woman; and he has offered bills to expand funding of adult stem-cell research and application.
But I recoil in horror from others, notably his demand that schools teach the "scientific alternative" to evolutionary biology (by which he means the thoroughly un-scientific and misnamed "intelligent design"); and he is completely opposed to embryonic stem-cell research funding, without consideration that such research can probably be done without destroying the embryos. (I'm using Wikipedia's list of some of his positions, though I did backtrack as much as possible to the primary-source interviews and Santorum's own site.)
But considering the second part of the question -- whether his positions on social issues are so extreme as to drive me away, despite his fairly good fiscal and foreign policies (which are at least somewhat better than Romney's) -- I'm on firmer ground. Santorum supports House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI, 96%) spending-cut plan and pushes for moderate reforms to Medicare and Social Security, but nothing spectacular like privatization (too bad). On the foreign-policy front, he supports the War Against Radical Islamism (WARI) and wants to bomb Iran's nuclear sites (good if he can pull it off, bad if he tries and fails).
So which side wins? Although I am appalled by what a friend of mine refers to as Santorum's "Flat-Earth Catholicism," I just don't think it would ever come up in a Rick Santorum presidency, not substantively. I doubt any state is going to attempt to outlaw "sodomy," adultery, or contraception; and even if it tried, surely the opinion of the POTUS would matter little if any in the ensuing court fight.
Where the social stances might really matter, however, is in the election itself. I'm not worried that President Santorum would install a "Nehemiah Scudder" style prophetic theocracy (though 2012 is the very year the Rev. Scudder takes over, according to Robert Heinlein's "future history" timeline!); but a great many voters might fear just that. Irrational, yes; but elections rarely turn on rational and logical cogitation alone. Would Santorum's goofier social stances so frighten away voters not on the religious right?
Yes, probably some. But how many? Fortunately, most of Santorum's apostasies from the norms of modern thought are fairly technical in nature, such as the distinction between science and so-called "intelligent design," which looms very large indeed within the real scientific community but likely induces nothing from the mass of voters but a puzzled "Eh?" Most of the social positions will just zoom along below the electoral radar.
I believe the biggest danger would be Santorum's suggestion that, contrary to the Supreme Court's decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, Americans have no fundamental right to privacy. Such a stance may make sense in a technical, legal sense, at least as the Court clumsily expressed the thought in the case in question; but the vast majority of Americans passionately believe that there exists a fundamental core of individual liberty, inside of which government may not legislate.
The Court shouldn't have called it "privacy;" and it certainly shouldn't have concluded (in Roe v. Wade) that the right of "privacy" includes the right to abort zygotes, foetuses, and even babies within minutes of being fully born. (Actually, I believe that last position is an abomination even under Roe; my, what progress we have made!) Ne'theless, nearly everybody agrees that there is an irreducible shell of personal liberty surrounding every man and woman that protects him from a totalitarian government run amok.
I can prove my case with a single example: Does anybody believe that it would be constitutional for a state to enact a law proscribing how many times per week a husband and wife are allowed to make love in their own home?
If you answer No, then you necessarily believe that (a) such a law breaches that fundamental core of individual liberty, the irreducible shell; and (b) there are inviolable limits to federal and state government beyond those explicitly written into the Constitiution.
To the extent that voters believe Rick Santorum's dismissal of a "right to privacy" means he rejects the irreducible shell of personal liberty described above, said voters will be very likely to vote for Barack H. Obama over the "theocratic" Rick Santorum.
Santorum's vital task, then, is to reassure Americans that his thinking on what most people envision when they hear the word "privacy" is still aligned within the mainstream of modern thought; that he does not advocate government control over aspects of life that the huge majority believe belong to the conscience of the individual, not the diktats of a Council of Experts.
If Santorum can assure voters -- including the arrogant author of this post -- that he is not a "Flat-Earther" on any social issue that really counts, then we might be persuaded to support him more than Mitt Romney. That is, until and unless Santorum's campaign collapses like all the other not-romneys before him.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► January 4, 2012
Obamic "Gaffe 'n' Graft" Machine Working Overtime - Instant Update!
Big Lizards hereby inaugurates (if I may use that word) a new political-rhetoric award called the Daley, after former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. We shall award it whenever a politician makes a gaffe, in the Kinsleyan mode of inadvertently blurting out the truth, by inexpertly managing his syntax.
Daley was mayor for 21 years; he made his eponymic gaffe (well, now it's an eponym) during the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in the Windy City. His oral manglement has become legendary:
Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all -- the policeman isn't there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.
Obama has made so many similar gaffes -- e.g., his wonderfully bizarre eruption of "Don't call my bluff!" -- that he deserves not only to be today's recipient but simultaneously the second recipient emeritus as well. (The first is of course, and always, Vice President "Slow" Joe Biden, who is awarded his own emeritus status retroactive to sometime during the Spanish-American War, when he first entered the Senate.)
Obama's Daley occurred not so very long ago; in fact, it will occur later today, in prepared remarks that he hasn't even given yet. Here we go:
"I refuse to take 'No' for an answer. I’ve said before that I will continue to look for every opportunity to work with Congress to move this country forward. But when Congress refuses to act in a way that hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them," he will say, according to prepared remarks.
Well! Who can argue with that?
The underlying context is equally disreputable. The Constitution allows the POTUS to temporarily appoint cabinet and sub-cabinet members without senatorial confirmation, but only when the Senate is in recess. Such "recess appointments" serve for one year. But by longstanding tradition, the Senate is only in "recess" when it has shut down for an extended period of time -- a minimum of three days without formally gaveling in a session.
But today, President B.O. appointed Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the newly invented Consumer Financial Protection Bureau only one day after the Senate held a regular, if pro forma, session; and Republicans argue this is an illegal appointment to seize power from Congress.
Even Obama himself agrees... or he did, way back in 2010, when his own Deputy Soliciter General argued in favor of the "three-day" rule to the U.S. Supreme Court, and during George W. Bush's presidency, when Obama was in the Senate and fully supported the rule:
The Constitution gives the president the power to make appointments when the Senate is not in session and able to confirm them. Traditionally that has been understood to mean when the Senate has adjourned for a recess longer than 10 days, and a Clinton administration legal opinion said a recess must be at least three days.
Mr. Obama’s own top constitutional lawyers affirmed that view in 2010 in another case involving recess appointments. Asked what the standard was for making recess appointments, then-Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal told the justices the administration agreed with the three-day rule....
The three-day rule was also the precedent Mr. Obama and his fellow Senate Democrats followed in 2007 and 2008 when they were trying to block then-President George W. Bush from making recess appointments.
“I am keeping the Senate in pro forma to prevent recess appointments until we get this process back on track,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said on Nov. 16, 2007, as he announced his strategy of having the Senate convene twice a week for pro forma sessions.
Now that the shoe is on the other hand, Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 75%) has changed his mind; he fully supports the president being allowed to make a "recess" appointment the very day after a session. All previous opinions of Reid's are inoperative.
I reckon means that future presidents can make them throughout the year, every Saturday and Sunday. No longer need they trouble the Senate to confirm or reject executive appointments. What a relief!
This one is likely headed to court, giving the president ample opportunity to win the Daley award several more times on this selfsame issue.
Instant update: Before even publishing this post, we have an update. It's a scoop!
Just hours after appointing Corday to head the CFPB, and still only one day after the last Senate session, the Obamunist in Chief made three more "recess" appointments, this time to the National Labor Relations Board:
President Barack Obama is bypassing GOP opposition to make three more recess appointments -- this time to the National Labor Relations Board.
The move came hours after Obama used a similar tactic to install former Ohio Atty. Gen. Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
Both moves infuriated GOP leaders, who threatened legal action and warned that Obama was setting a dangerous precedent by ignoring the will of Congress.
What fun! We must be nearing the Rupture, when the One shall rule entirely by decree, to officially inaugurate (if I may use that term yet again) the Obamic Millennium.
Date ►►► January 3, 2012
Beldar Bells De Baiter
A stand-up comedian was being heckled during his act. He fell silent, staring at the miscreant with a Cheshire-cat smile, while the audience held its breath, expecting bombast and brimstone.
Instead, the performer raised a hand, almost in benediction, and spoke very quietly and directly to the creature horning in on the act. "Do you know what a heckler is?" asked the comic; "a heckler tries to trick a performer into losing his temper... therefore, a heckler is a baiter.
"And at that role, sir, you are a master."
Readers of Big Lizards know that I am loathe merely to point at somebody else's words of wit and say "RTWT," Read the Whole Thing; it seems like cheating to me. But once in a while I read a blogpost so succinct and perfect that I simply must shrug off my own envy and, well, point.
So here it is: To Newt Gingrich, on the occasion of his claiming to have been "Romney-boated", by Beldar.
Newt Gingrich has gotten away with murder in this campaign: He flings out "ideas" without analysis, schemes without strategies for achieving them (and avoiding the pitfalls and pratfalls of real policymaking), and poses as a traditional, staunch, and above all consistent conservative, while bobbing and weaving about his real history of backing and filling, wriggling and flip-flopping, and betimes siding with the Left in the "get along by going along" mode of congressional compromise.
I don't begrudge him his lack of rigid ideological fanaticism; such purity of essence can only be maintained in a faerieland of theory and academe. I love Newt for his energy and willingness to consider the unconsiderable. I would happily invite him to a dinner party.
But it drives me mad when he campaigns by delivering homilies about his own saintliness and conservative constancy with his right hand -- while punching the Right in its collective face whenever convenient to the moment. (In this case, the "Right" includes all anti-liberals and anti-Progressivists.)
Worse, Gingrich -- like that heckler -- likes to bait the other candidates; and yes, he is a master at that form of abuse. But he's too quick to cry foul when he gets back even a little of what he dishes out. Having watched his campaign mode for some time now, he has become my second-least favorite of the notromneys.
I urge all BL readers who don't already read Beldar to being doing so immediately... and you can start with the piece linked above. It's pithy and without pity, but it's fair and balanced.
Date ►►► January 1, 2012
Barack the Peacemocker
According to my favorite blogger at my favorite blog (and the Associated Press), President Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama is currently in secret negotiations with the Taliban -- to be "mediated," if Obama has his way, by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: a Koran-thumping, jihad-urging, radical-Islamist cleric in Afghanistan.
The bare bones of the agreement our president is hammering out with the Taliban is this:
- Americans unconditionally withdraw all forces from Afghanistan.
- We give up all objection to the Taliban returning to power (as part of a "coalition" with the Karzai government * ).
- We build a headquarters compound for the Taliban.
- We announce that we are no longer enemies with the Taliban.
- We release all Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and allow them to return to Afghanistan -- and resume the activities that landed them in Gitmo in the first place.
- We issue an apology from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan; after which Obama goes barefoot and bareheaded to Kandahar, where he bows deeply from the waist and begs forgiveness -- for George W. Bush's wickedness.
(That last bullet point isn't official; I'm just logically extrapolating.)
In the Power Line post, John Hinderacker theorizes about what President B.O. has in mind:
[T]he Afghanistan war is deeply unpopular [it is? I thought that was the good war! -- DaH], and Obama wants to run for re-election next November on the boast that he "ended two wars." The baleful consequences of re-installing the Taliban in Afghanistan will not appear until long after the next election campaign, which is all that Obama cares about.
John implies, I believe, that the maneuver will have the desired effect: Obama will be lionized for being the peacemaker, Bush reviled as a warmonger, and this will give Bubble Boy a swift boost into a second term. But bear in mind that traditionally, the closer we approach an election, the more pessimistic become the lads at Power Line.
I have a different take on the political outcome of Obama "workin' the machinations behind the scenes," as Louis Farrakhan might put it. Rather than a political triumph for Obama, I see a soft spot that even the Republican Party will be able to hit while dead drunk and with one eye tied behind its back -- which, to be honest, is the way it usually campaigns.
Here's the plan. We wait until Barack Obama begins strutting and chest thumping about how he has "ended two wars," then we respond thus:
President Obama has discovered a super-easy way to end any war quickly: just surrender. We prematurely withdraw from Afghanistan at the same time we prematurely withdraw from Iraq, leaving the door wide open to an Iranian invasion; what a diplomatic masterstroke! Obama becomes the first president in American history to lose two wars... simultaneously!
It seems the One We Have Been Waiting For actually believes that surrendering to two different gangs of radical Islamists is America's greatest national-security triumph, and he expects us to reward him with another term. Even worse, these are two wars that we had already won -- that is, until Barack Obama took over and found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Heckuva job, Mr. President.
I have no idea who gave him the cockamamie idea to bring the Taliban back in Afghanistan and to prematurely withdraw from Iraq and allow Iran to take over. It's as if in 1945, after the Germans surrendered in World War II, FDR had entered into secret negotiations with the surviving Nazis to withdraw all American troops, then help restore the Nazi Party to power again in Germany... while simultaneously encouraging the Soviets to seize control of Japan, China, and the Philippines.
Even Jimmy Carter stands in awe of such a colossal concatenation of catastrophe.
Barack Obama has pulled off a feat that none of us thought possible: His foreign and national-security policy has failed even worse than his domestic and economic policy... a breathtaking achievement!
I say, bring it on; how I long to have that debate. What is Obama going to argue? "Look, it has been three months already, and the Taliban has not yet reinstated mass torture-executions of Christians, moderate Moslems, and uppity women!"
Well of course not: Part of Obama's secret deal with the Taliban requires them to hold off until Obama is safely reelected... probably the only clause of the contract they will fulfill; and then only because having Barack Hussein Obama continue to occupy the White House is in the Taliban's best interest, and Iran's as well.
All that's left is to declare all American hydrocarbon fuel off-limits at the very moment the Iranians decide to blockade the Strait of Hormuz; then the cosmic Obasmic failure will be complete, thorough -- and irreversible.
* Note that the Taliban and Hamid Karzai's government are deadly, sworn enemies; how's that parlay going to work out?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
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