Date ►►► August 31, 2012
There certainly was some party rockin' in the house last night if you happened to be at the St. Pete Times Forum in the stripper city of Tampa, Florida USA! That the anarchist threat never materialized was an even bigger bonus (anarchy by its very nature doesn't lend itself well to organization), smoothing the way for Mitt Romeny's big moment. All in all, I'd say it was quite the smashing success.
I tuned in just in time to catch Clint Eastwood's remarks, which definitely weren't what I expected. I know some people didn't rate his performance very highly, but then most of them tended to be stuffed-shirt liberals with no sense of humor. Personally, I thought he was charming, coming on with a soft-sell appeal to centerist Democrats while getting in enough Obama zingers to please us right-wing zealots.
Then came Marco Rubio. Have I mentioned that I'm really proud that this guy is a Senator from my home state? He might have violated the Reagan Rule of not having more than a few token "I's" in any given speech, but he did it to spotlight how his own family's journey is yet another example of the miracle that is America. He spoke without apology about American exceptionalism -- a stark contrast to the Obama view that this nation is but one of many that think they're special. Resounding stuff. There's a reason the GOP has Rubio pegged as a rising star.
You would have thought that Mitt Romney would have had a tough time following that -- but you know what? He got the job done, and then some. Romney spend a lot of time with obvious appeals to women and moderates, but they were in no way gratuitous and they needed to be said. With all the phony "war on women" rhetoric spewed by Obama and his minions, Romney couldn't allow himself to be defined that way. Debunking those myths was crucial.
Another myth Romney demolished was the Democrat narrative of his time at Bain Capital. Romney not only talked about Bain, he owned it. He made no excuses for what the company did, reminding everyone of what Obama can't grasp: that in business, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Business is all about risk, and there are no guarantees. But you know what? That's also what freedom is all about. You succeed and you fail, but you never stop striving. That, my friends, is a real message of hope.
My favorite line of the night, though, was when Romney reminded everyone about Barack Obama's promises to quiet the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. Romney, meanwhile, promised to help America's families. The point was so clear, he might as well have made it with a sledgehammer: Who are you gonna believe? The guy pretending to be Superman? Or the guy who "just" wants to be president?
So even with the bar set pretty high, I think that Mitt Romney reached it. The speech was well-written, his delivery was warm and genuine (and pointed when necessary), and he really seemed to rally the troops. In other words, he did what he set out to do: make a lasting impression on the American people that will serve him well through election day.
Now the real fun begins.
Son of Akin Breakin' Heart
A week ago, Democrat Claire McCaskill -- formerly the most vulnerable member of the Senate in either party -- was running way ahead of
Claude Akins Todd Akin; she was up by 9 on Mason-Dixon and by 10 on Rasmussen. But in the last poll, they're neck and neck -- McCaskill up a one skimpy point, well within the 3.9% margin of error... and that's on a very Democratic Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll. Who'd'a thunk it?
It's entirely within the realm of possibility that the fundamentals will reassert themselves; voters might recollect whatever it was that drove McCaskill to the bottom of the barrel in the first place. Akin can certainly fundraise on his own, and Missouri isn't a state like California or New York, where you need tens of millions of dollars just to be competitive.
Looking at the actual questions in the PPP poll, Missouri must be a pretty conservative state (which we should've already known): Barack "You didn't build that" Obama's approval is underwater at 39 approve, 55 disapprove; Mitt Romney is doing well, 51 approve versus 43 disapprove. In the presidential race, Romney is way up, 53 vs. 41... twelve points -- much higher than John McCain's razor-thin Missouri victory of 49.43 to 49.29, and more than twice the margin of 49 to 44, which is how Missourians in this poll claim they voted.
McCaskill's and Akin's job approvals are about equally abysmal: 40 to 55 for the former, 33 to 56 for the latter; so it's no wonder they're tied. Nevertheless, Missourians prefer Akin not withdraw by a whopping great margin of 54 to 37. (The parties split evenly three ways between Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.)
The race bears watching.
If Akin pulls ahead again, I'm pretty sure that repeated references to Akingate will have less pull than the gravity of Pluto-Charon has on the Earth. By now, everybody and his monkey's uncle has figured out that the inartful phrase "legitimate rape" actually meant "forcible rape," to be distinguished from statutory rape... a crime of which I suspect 75% of males and 67% of females are technically guilty. That leaves us with the odd situation of voters rejecting a Senate nominee solely because he has an infantile grasp of reproductive biology. I wouldn't think that would be much on their minds, given the stakes.
But what about the analogy of the "Macaca" gaffe by George Allen in Virginia, 2006? Doesn't that imply that Akin is similarly toast? I don't think it's really relevant for several reasons:
- Repeatedly calling a campaign volunteer of Indian descent "Macaca" smacked of racism; Akin has said nothing remotely racist... or for that matter, overtly sexist.
- Allen's opponent, James Webb, was a serious and respected figure: Annapolis graduate, former Marine Corps infantry officer, decorated Vietnam Vet, and former Secretary of the Navy. Claire McCaskill, by contrast, is no Jim Webb; she is your basic village idiot, and everybody in Missouri knows it, including the Democrats. Until Akin's gaffe, I think the DNC had more or less written her off.
- The 2006 U.S. Senate election in Virginia was a truly messy one, with no fewer than sixteen major scandals on both sides. Given that environment, anybody could have won. (The outcome was very, very close, with Webb nipping Allen by half a point.)
- Finally, 2006 was a very, very bad year for Republicans; but 2012 is likely to be an excellent one. Romney's momentum might very well carry Akin along in his wake.
Akin could easily pull back into a substantial lead within the next month. All bets are off!
It's still quite proper for the national GOP not to give Akin any campaign cash: We as a party don't stand for ignorant gaffes, and we don't stand for scientific ignorance. (Well, other than rejection of modern evolutionary biology; holding firm on evolution would rule most conservatives out of the Republican Party!) But should Akin win on his own dime, I see no reason why we cannot, at that point, shake hands, forgive, and forget.
Perhaps both candidate and party will have learned something.
Date ►►► August 30, 2012
Akin Breakin' Heart
It's not exactly the kind of blowback one would get from dissing the Twilight books, but I get the feeling that I might have poked the hornet's nest just a bit with my Claude Akins -- er, Todd Akin -- post. Truth be told, it's heartening to see the subject stir so much passion. Conservatives get tired of seeing one of their own pilloried by the Republican Party, and you can certainly count me among that bunch. In the case of Akin, though, I maintain that the GOP really didn't have much choice but to offer him up as a ritual sacrifice. Here's why.
First off, we live in a media-saturated culture. Unfortunately, that media largely tilts left -- which means that anything and everything that conservatives do will be analyzed, parsed, distorted and Martinized to the point where even the most innocuous remark (anybody remember Trent Lott saying nice things about Old Man Thurmond on his 100th birthday?) will be portrayed as racist, sexist, mean-spirited and just flat out un-American. In other words, you don't hand them a sword with which to slay you -- which is exactly what Akin did.
Second, this had nothing to do with the party trying to overturn the primary system. The GOP has no power to make Akin drop out of the race, which is plainly in evidence because the man is still running for the Senate. The party is not, however, under any obligation to fund his race if it decides that it no longer wishes to be associated with his campaign. If I'm taking money from someone, it only stands to reason that I need to stay in my benefactor's good graces. Just because you win the nomination, that doesn't mean you're entitled to a spigot of cash no questions asked.
Third -- and this is the most important -- conservatives are better than that. Democrats always circle the wagons no matter how outrageous or illegal the behavior of their pols (how else do you explain the long careers of the likes of Teddy Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Robert Byrd, Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel -- the list goes on and on). Republicans don't. The media don't let us get away with anything, to be sure -- but more than that, we don't let our own slide because we realize the importance of standards in our elected officials. It's a tough standard to live up to, but the country is better off for it.
Ultimately, the voters in Missouri will decide whether or not Akin has the right stuff to represent their state in the Senate. But I do think that his refusal to set aside his own ambitions for a higher cause says a lot about his character.
Date ►►► August 29, 2012
Christie Critics Versus the Popular Front for Liberty
Several people have bashed yesterday's convention speech by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey; I name no names, but you know who you are. (Yes, I'm talking to you, Chris Wallace, and you too, Juan Williams!) The argument is that Christie spent too much time talking about ideas, philosophy, the future, and his ample self, and not much time at all savaging Barack "You didn't build that" Obama or buttering up the actual nominee (official now), Willard Mitt Romney.
I say that's all a bunch of hogwarts. That criticism tells me only that Messrs. Wally and Willy utterly fail to understand the extraordinary and irreversible change wrought, not by tea partiers (they are only one manifestation of the movement), but by the popular front for liberty that coalesced on February 19th, 2009 -- just thirty days after President B.O. was anointed, adored, and installed upon the Hog-Butcher Throne.
On that day, CNBC business editor Rick Santelli denounced the Obamic scheme to refinance defaulted mortgages. George W. Bush had pushed through Congress a plan to re-value the "troubled assets," mostly mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) that banks were holding as reserves, but whose values were a complete mystery, even to the banks themselves. But Obama radically altered that sensible plan in favor of a populist, Progressivist scheme to reward something-for-nothing borrowers for buying far more house than they could afford, and taking out mortgages they couldn't possibly repay.
Santelli exploded on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (how apt!), railing against the loss of liberty, individuality, personal responsibility, truth, justice, and the American way. To whoops and cheers among the CME traders, he even called for them to hurl those debased and valueless MBSs into the Chicago River, à la the Boston Tea Party.
Santelli didn't start the fire; individual flickers, flare-ups, and hot spots had hissed and spit over the previous decade. But on that day of freedom, he pulled together all these slow-burning fuses and bound them into a true popular front for liberty, independence, Capitalism, and Americanism. He sparked a simultaneous explosion of revulsion at crony capitalism (its other name is "Liberal Fascism") and an explosive determination to rebuild America -- not via yet another radical socioeconomic "revolution;" more like a religious revival, restoring what the United States had been missing since some time before the "Progressivist" era of anti-Constitution, anti-Founding Father Woodrow Wilson. Americans began to crave more liberty and less government.
Since then, tea-party movements have erupted in every state of the Union. They seized control of the Republican Party in the 2010 midterm elections (and particularly in the primaries that preceded the general), and now the popular front for liberty looms large to take the country itself by storm on November 6th.
Personally, I love this movement; it's just what has been lacking in all previous attempts (including Reagan's) to roll back socialism and Progressivism and return to individual liberty, self sufficiency, and honest Capitalism that Alexis De Tocqueville extolled in Democracy in America.
I have writ rhapsodies in red about the popular front for liberty stretching back to February 20th, 2010 (almost on the anniversary of Santelli's revivalist rant), encompassing nineteen blogposts since then (see below). But those critics of Christie's speech -- did you think I'd forgotten the subject? -- have fallen into the trap of "same as it ever was." They cannot break free of the red meat, attack dog paradigm of twentieth-century campaigns.
Wally and Willy pooh-pooh the Christie speech because he didn't rake Obama over the barbecue pit personally, by name; Christie didn't run down his policies, peculiarities, and pomposities; his diction, gait and sartorial sense; his patterns of pronunciation, prandial pleasures, haircut hilarities, taste in tobacco; his earballs and earmarks, and every word he has ever uttered, including "and", "of", and most especially his very favorite word: "I". (There's no "we" in "narcissism"!)
The speech crickets want to make this contest, every contest, a clash of titanic personalities. They don't understand that this crucial election is not a choice of chumps; it's a long-overdue Armageddon of axioms and ideas.
Christie very ably (and subtlely!) articulates the ideology of the popular front for liberty: self-reliance, traditional American virtues, American exceptionalism, Capitalism, limited government (limited in size, scope, and especially reach), balanced budgets, low taxes, and even lower spending.
He did not need to throw Obama under the Romney campaign bus. Christie stakes his argument on the moral clarity of tea-party ideas and ideology.
Over the past few months, Barack Obama's character-assassination squads have spent hundreds of millions of dollars (quite literally) portraying Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Republicans in general as bigots, racists, one-percenter plutocrats, and homophobes; bitter-clingers, furiously waging a war against all women; a war driven by rage, impotence, misogyny, and seething hatred.
Many undecided voters must have tuned into the Republican National Convention with trepidation, wondering if they would see howling jackals slavering over their raw meat and bloody petrodollars. After all, that's what the President of the Untied States warned them they would see.
So the last thing in the world we need at this convention is an angry, denunciatory speech attacking Barack Obama. It would play right into his clenched fist.
The time for that raw anger has come, and it has gone. Now is the time for up-tempo, upbeat speeches of hope -- real hope founded on a workable plan to defibrillate the economy and jumpstart the job market -- and change... change back to what has made America unique ever since its founding: We are the only country in the world founded on the basis of a capitalist economy and an ideology of individual liberty, utterly unlike the mass, interest-group, faux "liberté" of the French Revolution, which perverted the very idea of true liberty.
Liberty can only apply to individuals, not marching mobs; that true liberty is what has made us the greatest nation that has ever existed, not only in power but the most moral national as well; whence comes our powerhouse economy (even today), and why we have universally, if sometimes grudgingly, been accepted as the last resort of conscience against tyranny in the world.
But the advance of liberty is occasion for joy, not ugly rage: The speeches at the RNC must be uniformly positive, futurist, and Reaganesque.
If they are, Americans will be stunned by the chasm between what they're watching on the screen, and the vile distortion and caricature they were sold by the Democrats. Voters will finally perceive how they have been lied to and disrespected by Obama and all the president's men. Barack Obama will bear the brunt of that backlash, and the election will become a referendum between Reaganesque and Nixonesque.
That will be the tipping point, where a narrow victory for Romney, without coattails, turns into an utter rout of Progressivism -- with a firm mandate for the popular front for liberty.
Chris Christie's speech may not be the "same as it ever was," "usual suspects," red-meat affair that liberal Democrat Juan Williams hoped to see; instead, it is an extremely effective "new way" argument for the twenty-first century. It carries the virtue that even folks who like the Big Stick as a person can nevertheless reject his ideas in the ballot box. With clear conscience and no lingering taint of racism, voters can punch the chad for a return to the Constitution-based politics of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.
To which I can only say, about bloody time!
A list of posts containing nontrivial discussions of the popular front for liberty:
- What Makes Lefty Run?
- Palin and Reagan: Together Again for the First Time
- Tea Partiers Draw Their Foot in the Sand
- Inglorious Results of an Overspent Youth
- So Comfortable in Corruption, They Needn't Even Dissemble
- Salt of the Earth: One Size Fits None
- The Surreality-Based Community
- The Cleaver Conundrum - and the Brilliance of Breitbart's Bucks
- A Capital Idea
- An Excellent Mystery
- Pyrrhic Evictory - the World Nods to the Lizards
- Miller vs. Murkowski: What If...?
- What's in Your Wallet... That Won't Be There Tomorrow?
- Democrat Campaign Grand Strategy: Money Will Save Our Seats!
- Bottoming Out: the Commonest Manifesto
- The War on Judgment
- Can't Buy Me Love - But How About Reelection?
- The Permanent Floating Unbalanced Budget Act of 2011
- Predictions, Predilictions UPDATED
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► August 28, 2012
The Akin Diet
I guess I'm late to the party with all this Todd Akin mania. I was sort of hoping it would go away like Miley Cyrus, but no such luck -- it appears that the man who strung together the words "legitimate" and "rape" will be with us at least through the end of the Republican Convention, so I suppose I'd better throw in my two cents while I still have the pennies to rub together.
Politicians say dumb things. One could even argue that politicians are uncommonly good at saying dumb things (Joe Biden has turned it into an art form), and Akin sure did his darnedest to live up to that expectation. In fact, I had to go back to the IMDB just to make sure it was Claude Akins and not Todd Akin who played the bumbling titular character in The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo. The two certainly have their share of traits in common, not least of which is the uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. As hard as Claire McCaskill is trying to lose her Senate seat in Missouri, dammit, Akin seems determined not to let her do it.
Which brings us to the one thing that offended my sensibilities more than Akin's boneheaded grasp of biology, and that is his singular refusal to own up to his responsibilities and take one for the team. I'm not talking about the Republicans, by the way -- I'm talking about these here United States of America. With the very future of the nation hanging in the balance, and so much depending on regaining control of the Senate, Akin has decided that his political career is far more important than the rest of us schlubs who are dying out here under Barack Obama's crushing economic policies.
If I may offer Akin a bit of advice, please take a look at what happened to Charlie Crist when he made a similar decision to give his party the finger and go his own way. The big difference is that we were lucky in Florida and had Marco Rubio to take us across the finish line. Not so in Missouri. If Akin loses there, he loses for all of us.
Date ►►► August 26, 2012
Charlie in Charge
One thing you can say about Charlie Crist, the erstwhile Florida-governor-cum-Senate candidate-cum-ambulance-chaser, he certainly is persistent. In that respect, he's rather like the Sunshine State version of Norma Desmond. The only difference is that one of them is an aging diva with a terminally inflated sense of self who can't leave the stage even though the welcome has long worn itself out, and the other was played by Gloria Swanson in the classic 1950 film.
In case you're late to the drama, Crist tried to get the Republican nomination for Senate back in 2010, but was bested by Marco Rubio when it became obvious that voters no longer cared for the mushy, middle of the road, Democrat-lite kind of Republican that Charlie so amply embodied. But instead of taking one for the team after getting beaten fair and square, Charlie turned around and tried to run as an independent -- recasting himself as a moderate voice amid all the bickering partisanship, even though he had spent the majority of his campaign up to that point trying to pass himself off as a Reagan conservative. Voters, naturally, didn't buy it and sent Rubio off to Washington. Charlie, meanwhile, now does late-night TV ads shilling for the personal injury firm of Morgan & Morgan, whose clientele consists mainly of plaintiffs claiming dog bites and whiplash from rear-end collisions. How pride goeth before the fall.
Anyway, Charlie has decided to inject himself back into the news by penning an op-ed for my hometown newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times:
I’ve studied, admired and gotten to know a lot of leaders in my life. Across Florida, in Washington and around the country, I've watched the failure of those who favor extreme rhetoric over sensible compromise, and I've seen how those who never lose sight of solutions sow the greatest successes.
As America prepares to pick our president for the next four years -- and as Florida prepares once again to play a decisive role -- I'm confident that President Barack Obama is the right leader for our state and the nation. I applaud and share his vision of a future built by a strong and confident middle class in an economy that gives us the opportunity to reap prosperity through hard work and personal responsibility. It is a vision of the future proven right by our history.
Of course, Charlie is a little nebulous on exactly what "history" he's talking about. Perhaps it's the alternate history in which he actually won that Senate race, and is now Mitt Romeny's running mate instead of Paul Ryan. Or the one in which the stimulus actually worked and unemployment managed to get below eight percent. I tell you, even Harry Turtledove would have a tough time with that story.
Charlie went on to say:
Many have already forgotten how deep and daunting our shared crisis was in the winter of 2009, as President Obama was inaugurated. It was no ordinary challenge, and the president served as the nation's calm through a historically turbulent storm.
The president's response was swift, smart and farsighted. He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them.
Yes, Obama "relentlessly" focused on creating jobs -- except for the two years he spent ramming through Obamacare, fighting for tax increases on small business, and dumping money into green energy boondoggles like Solyndra. But wait, it gets better:
President Obama invested in our children's schools because he believes a good education is a necessity, not a luxury, if we're going to create an economy built to last. He supported more than 400,000 K-12 teachers' jobs, and he is making college more affordable and making student loans, like the ones he took out, easier to pay back.
He invested in our runways, railways and roads. President Obama knows a reliable infrastructure that helps move people to work and helps businesses move goods to market is a foundation of growth.
Of course, education spending had already expanded 58% faster than inflation under George W. Bush, so it's not like we hadn't been pouring money into that already. As for all that "investment" in America's "infrastructure" under the Obama "stimulus," most of that money went for union payouts and to shore up state budget deficits. Hell, even the president himself admitted there was no such thing as the "shovel ready jobs" that were supposed to put people back to work. You'd figure after nearly $1 trillion that we'd at least have a few bridges and dams to show for it, but alas no.
Face it, Charlie. Everybody knows that the only reason you penned this op-ed was because you're just itching to get back into politics -- only this time as a Democrat. You'd just love to run against Rubio in 2016 for the Senate seat that was supposed to be yours. Problem is, no matter how many times you tell Mr. DeMille that you're ready for your closeup, we've already gotten a pretty good view of what you're all about.
It's long past time you went away.
Date ►►► August 25, 2012
You see this kind of thing pop up on a regular basis, but usually not until toward the end of the year when the Yuletide is nigh and the forces of political correctness wage their annual war on Christmas. In this case, however, it seems the atheists were out to make their mark on the electoral season -- at least until Fox News highlighted their shenanigans and caused the kind of outrage you'd expect:
American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising are removing two Charlotte billboards slamming Christianity and Mormonism after the national atheists' group said it received an outpouring of public anger and threats.
The billboards, targeting the faiths of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, went up about two weeks ago. They were supposed to be present for the duration of the national conventions, though there were only billboards in Charlotte.
Amanda Knief, the managing director of American Atheists, said that a report from Fox News about the billboards this Wednesday incited a national outpouring of "vitriol, threats and hate speech against our staff, volunteers and Adams Outdoor Advertising."
For the record, the Fox News version of the article has a photo of the billboard in question -- and the subtle message it converys: "Sadistic God; Useless Savior. Promotes Hate, Calls it Love." How in the world could anyone resist such an enticing pitch? Why, it's enough to make me want to turn in my right-wing religious conspiracy membership card right this second.
Honestly, I don't understand how people who hold themselves up as paragons of intelligence and reason could be so monumentally stupid in their approach. Here's a hint, guys: when you start off by taking a big ol' leak all over a person's faith, you're going to provoke this kind of response. And what's with this "vitriol" and "hate speech" business? Isn't that precisely what the athetists were dumping on Christianity with that billboard? Playground rules state clearly that if you're going to dish it out, you best be prepared to take it.
No, what we're seeing here is yet another example of Leftist Logic: My position is the correct one, therefore anything I say and do is justifiable. If, on the other hand, you believe the opposite and respond in kind, you're a hatemonger and a threat. Everybody got that?
Good. See you next Christmas!
Date ►►► August 20, 2012
A Market ! Who Knew?
In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.
Many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.
Here's the take-away: "[L]eading climate scientists didn't see the drop coming," because "market forces" drove it, "rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide." Who'd'a thunk it!
(And could one concoct, even in fiction, a better empirical proof that "the world's leading climate scientists" are in fact a bitter, politicized group of Luddite nanny-staters and "watermelons" -- green on the outside, but deep, deep red on the inside? Their goal was never to cool the Earth; it was always to redistribute wealth from the "Haves" to the "Have nots.")
This is not some sensationalist claim from the Weekly World News or the Hufflepuffington Post; it comes ultimately from the Department of Energy under President Barack "You didn't build that" Obama and clearly constitutes an admission against interest:
In a little-noticed technical report, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said this month that total U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. The Associated Press contacted environmental experts, scientists and utility companies and learned that virtually everyone believes the shift could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy.
While conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline, the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said.
How long will it be before Obama rushes to a microphone, trampling two old ladies on walkers and a toddler who doesn't jump aside quickly enough, to grab all the credit for this reduction in "air pollution?" (Where pollution has that special definition that includes a gas vital to plant growth.) But no, the drop was caused by the hated free market; and of all people in the world, Barack Obama is the least able to claim that he built that!
Does this "surprising" drop in CO2 emissions mean the green insurgents will finally end their war on carbon dioxide, now that the United States is leading the way in de-carbonizing the universe? Hah, don't hold your carbon-dioxided breath:
[W]hile natural gas burns cleaner than coal, it still emits some CO2. And drilling has its own environmental consequences, which are not yet fully understood. [But must surely be catastrophic! -- DaH]
"Natural gas is not a long-term solution to the CO2 problem," [Roger Pielke Jr., a climate expert at the University of Colorado] warned.
Of course not; to an enviro-mental case, the only "real solution" is to smash the looms. Or in this case, ban all carbon-based fuel, without exception, hurling Mankind back into the age before we even knew how to light a fire:
"The Sierra Club has serious doubts about the net benefits of natural gas," said Deborah Nardone, director of the group's Beyond Natural Gas campaign.
"Without sufficient oversight and protections, we have no way of knowing how much dangerous pollution is being released into Americans' air and water by the gas industry. For those reason, our ultimate goal is to replace coal with clean energy and energy efficiency and as little natural gas as possible...."
Some worry that cheap gas could hurt renewable energy efforts.
"Installation of new renewable energy facilities has now all but dried up, unable to compete on a grid now flooded with a low-cost, high-energy fuel," two experts from Colorado's Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute said in an essay posted this week on Environment360, a Yale University website.
Some say a neoconservative is a liberal who's been mugged by reality. So what happens when radical enviromentalism itself gets cudgled by a reality that stubbornly refuses to be silenced? If history is any guide -- see When Prophecy Fails -- the most likely response will be for the bulk of the green reds to dig in their heels and redouble their efforts to proselytize, even evangelize the world to convert to the First Church of Fundamentalist Environmentalism. (Barry Commoner, Algore, and Howard Dean are charter members of the congregation.)
It may take a geological epoch for the tide to change its spots; but at least a few green weenies, such as Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann, have found food for thought in the market-driven reduction of CO2 emissions:
Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said the shift away from coal is reason for "cautious optimism" about potential ways to deal with climate change. He said it demonstrates that "ultimately people follow their wallets" on global warming.
Hallelujah, and pass that natural gas!
Date ►►► August 17, 2012
I'll Buy That for a Dollar
So, the Obama campaign is offering to back off Mitt Romney and his taxes, but only if Romney releases five more years worth of returns. What a deal! Mitt would be crazy not to snap that up! And while he's at it, maybe he can score some big campaign cash by giving that Nigerian general's wife his checking account number so she can move her husband's millions out of the country.
Word of advice to the Obama minions: Leave the con games to Bernie Madoff. You're not very good at them.
First off, the offer is phony on its face. Does anybody honestly think that the Obama campaign, after poring over Romney's returns, will ever say, "Wow, I guess Mitt really did pay his fair share! Oh, well." No, they'll hammer every little item demanding an explanation for this and and explanation for that, because that's the entire point of this exercise: keeping Romney on the defensive so that Obama doesn't have to talk about his failed record.
Secondly, it asks something for nothing. Even if the moon ends up in the second house and Jupiter aligns with Mars and the Obama campaign stops harping on Romney over his tax returns, you can bet your sweet derriere that the super PACs will keep the hits coming. Obama, meanwhile, will just shrug and give another speech about how we've got to get the big money out of politics -- all while his surrogates keep right on doing his dirty work.
Bottom line, there is no upside on this. Romney's a smart enough businessman to know that, which is why he won't take the deal. He can, however, make a counter-proposal: more tax returns in exchange for Obama's academic records during his lost years at Occidental College and Columbia University. If we're talking about transparency, why not go all the way?
Ball's in your court, Barack.
Date ►►► August 14, 2012
A specter is haunting the Olympics, the specter of -- PC police?
Ever since I can remember, the Olympics has always included controversy. During the cold war, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was notorious for favoriing the Eastern bloc of Communists and other totalitarians. The basketball game between the United States and the Soviet Union at the 1972 Olympics is a classic example: Wth the U.S. ahead by one point at the end of the game, Olympic officials allowed the Soviets to play the final three seconds over and over, until they finally got a basket and won the game on the third attempt.
The idea that the Olympics have ever transcended politics was always a joke -- think of the East European "female" shot-putters, the figure-skating scoring scandas, and synchronized swimming shenanigans; but in the XXXth Olympiad, some attacks against athletes were not due to national rivalries but from the athlete's own country. These individuals were targeted for their political and religious beliefs, and in one case, guilt by association: the German Olympics Committee didn't like the boyfriend of one of their female rowers.
John Fund lists a few examples of outrageous political discrimination against athletes by their own countries' Olympic commitees this Olympiad:
Greek triple-jump champion Voula Papachristou was expelled from her country’s Olympic team last week after she tweeted a tasteless joke. In a reference to a recent outbreak of West Nile virus in Greece, she said that with so many Africans living in Greece, the mosquitoes carrying the virus would be eating “homemade food.” She was promptly booted for making racist comments “contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympics movement.”
At first, this was reported as an overreaction to a dumb joke; we later learned that Papachristou was a supporter of Golden Dawn, a right-wing, anti-immigrant, Greek political party. It's clear the real reason she was kicked off her team and out of the Olympics was her political opinion; the tweet was just an excuse. Fund points out that whatever what one feels about Golden Dawn, "it is a legal party...[it] has 18 members seated in the Greek parliament."
Then there is the case of Nadja Drygalla, a rower who was pressured to leave the German Olympic team last Friday after a TV station reported that her boyfriend was Michael Fischer, who had been a candidate for the far-right National Democratic party in a regional election last year. Some also claimed Fischer had been involved in disruptive protests against immigrants.
Drygalla insists that she dose not share the political opinion of her boyfriend. Even Fischer himself has left the party. None of that mattered to the German Olympic Committee, and Drygalla was forced off the team.
Lessons learned: If you are on friendly terms with anybody connected to a right-wing European party, you yourself are guilty by association. (You may recall similar tactics used by a previous political party in Germany's past.)
But, even if Drygalla herself was a party member, so what? What is she guilty of? Where does the Olympic rule book state that you cannot represent your country if your politics disagrees with the ruling elite's?
Clearly, neither Greece nor Germany believes in freedom of speech ("Free speech for me but not for thee"); but the United States does -- allegedly. Yet even in Barack Obama's America, a disgustingly similar injustice has occurred.
Track and field US Olympian Lolo Jones has been harrassed via a vicious Twitter hate parade regarding her sex life, or rather the lack thereof: Before the games, Lolo Jones "outed" herself... as a Christian who doesn't believe in sex outside of marriage.
That prompted a barrage, possibly orchestrated, of savage attacks. One of the lesser tweets, from a twit called JayAbe2, reads, "Lolo lost? Good. Go have sex now girl, STFU and then you’ll win". Another reads "Poor lolo, just have sex and done."
But it's not just twits on Twitter. Despite finishing fourth in the 100m hardle race -- a respectable acheivement one would think -- her critics have attacked her relentlessly for not getting a medal. (Really, try running yourself, you bunch of couch potatoes!)
But even before the race, the New York Times printed a hit piece on Jones, accusing her of seeking popularity due to her looks rather than her atheletic ability.
After sneering that Jones has "only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal," the Times tears into her:
Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be -- vixen, virgin, victim -- to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.
Women have struggled for decades to be appreciated as athletes. For the first time at these Games, every competing nation has sent a female participant. But Jones is not assured enough with her hurdling or her compelling story of perseverance. So she has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.
Had Jones not confessed to being a Christian, and worse, a virgin, would the newspaper have tried so hard to rip her to pieces and possibly adversely affect her performance? We can all be the judge of that. But note that the Times completely ignored Jones' undeniable acheivements:
She was the first woman ever to claim back-to-back World Indoor titles in the 60m hurdles while setting an American record in the process. Jones finished her career at LSU as a three-time national champion and 11-time All-American, where she ranks among the top-three all-time at LSU in both the 60m and 100m hurdles. Jones was named Gatorade Midwest Athlete of the year and holds the 100mH record for the state of Iowa.
So Rush Limbaugh gets condemned by the entire liberal establishment for joking that a woman who wants to sleep around and make the "government" (us, that is) pay for her contraceptives is a hooker (and we're her pimps); but "America's newspaper of record" can mock a woman for being a Christian and a virgin, essentially accusing her of being a coquettish sex kitten for looking sexy, but refusing to hook up... and nobody on the Left sees anything wrong with that. So much for radical feminists being "pro choice!"
Notice overall point: In each of these instances, a female athlete paid the price for virture, or for speaking her mind, or for her boyfriend's past political stances. Somehow, the men seem to be given a greater flexibility by liberals and feminists for politically incorrect opinions.
In the bad old days, the IOC allowed Communists, Fascists, and other tyrants to participate on an equal footing with the free countries, though the Left was generally "more equal" than the Right. But now, in the bad new days, Olympics officials, commentators, reporters, and fans don't even want to allow the Right to participate at all, even if that eliminates some of the best competitors. For when it comes to a choice between harassing a "right-wing" team member off the team, and winning Olympic medals, the joy of hate wins hands down.
Date ►►► August 13, 2012
The Ryan Riposte
What I most like about the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 80%) as Mitt Romney's running mate is that it sends a message as clear as finest crystal that this election will be a pitched battle between the forces of Progressivism and those of Americanism. No half-measures, no compromise of minimalist spending cuts, no patronizing head-pats: Mitt Romney and especially Paul Ryan will look Barack "You didn't build that" Obama (and fill in the blank) in the eyes and make the strongest case ever made in a presidential election for the moral necessity of Capitalism, self-determination, American exceptionalism, and fundamental human liberty.
Then our Trillion-Dollar Taxman must perforce either make his strongest case for socialism, subjugation, small-ball Eurozone sychophancy, and a slinking, servile citizenry... or else paint a perjured portrait of himself and his (criminal) record so delusional, so outlandish and confabulated, that every American of at least average intelligence will feel dirty and cheapened by the sheer audacity of Obama's fantasy. (And please, Fate, let "fill in the blank" be Hillary Clinton, America's Fishwife in Chief, architect of the most humiliating and costly State-Department ineptitude since Jimmy Carter felt a malaise coming on!)
As always, I put my faith in the American people, for I love America; so do Romney and Ryan, who stand athwart Barack H. Obama's threnody of disrespect, deprecation, and discouraging words.
I like those odds.
Date ►►► August 11, 2012
Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan
Wow, just when you thought that Saturday mornings were exclusively for cartoons and hangovers, Mitt Romney goes and announces none other than Paul Ryan as his running mate! Nice flair for the dramatic, if I may say so. It might have been cooler to see them do the whole thing dressed up as Batman and Robin, but there's always Halloween coming up in a couple of months. In the meanwhile, I couldn't be happier with the choice.
Not only is Ryan a true conservative, he's also a guy who makes both the Tea Party and the Libertarian types swoon -- no easy feat, mind you. It's kind of like your daughter bringing her new boyfriend home and you realizing that you're almost as crazy about him as she is. Ryan also drives all the right people nuts, which proves his bona-fides about as well as anything can.
More than that, however, this choice proves that Mitt Romney is actually serious about tackling Washington's spending problem once he's elected president. Given Ryan's reputation as a budget wonk, and the serious proposals he has made for keeping entitlement programs from devouring the federal budget like a horde of zombies descending on a Rotary picnic, I very much doubt he would have signed on unless he had assurances that a Romney administration would not just be business as usual.
For those who worry about Romney being a squish, the choice of Paul Ryan can only offer reassurance. It also means this campaign just got a lot more interesting. I can't wait to see the first debate between him and Smokin' Joe Biden.
Date ►►► August 9, 2012
The New True Levellers
The mid-seventeenth century True Levellers (or Diggers) were anti-private property anarchists who believed in strict, enforced, economic equality, where everybody is given equal access to land and "property" (none of which is privately owned in True Leveller theory), regardless of talent, effort, ingenuity, or even luck. But the New True Levellers -- my nickname for contemporary Progressivists and Occupiers -- are much worse: They believe in leveling everything to one uniform level.
The New True Levellers bring to mind Kurt Vonnegut's chilling story "Harrison Bergeron," which begins:
The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
(And which you can read in toto at the link -- and should. Instanter!) In that story, everybody who has any talent or ability beyond the average is given a cruel handicap, to drag him back to the level mean. Thus, the strong are constrained, the swift are hobbled -- and most horrific, the overly intelligent have a device installed in their heads that buzzes loudly at random intervals, completely disrupting the intelligent man's thoughts, dragging his effective IQ down to the norm.
It's a scalpel-precise filleting of the central premise of liberalism: Forced equality of outcomes. Vonnegut is saying, Here is the only way such a totalitarian goal can be achieved; does any sane human being truly want this?
Yet the New True Levellers would indeed enforce "equality" (of results) across an all-encompassing morass of human endeavor: equality of money (the "millionaires'" tax); equality of medical service (ObamaCare); equality of marital relationships (same-sex marriage, polygamy, plural marriage); and equality of private property (by abolishing it all, along with all individual buying and selling). That way, everybody will be exactly the same as everyone else... except that the favored few will be more equal than others.
And now, the New True Levellers even demand equality of voting rights... where all and every must have an equal vote, regardless of age, registration status, criminal record, incarceration, having already voted, or even citizenship. (Except the central-government elite will have a "more equal than others" vote.)
Yes, the anti-American Left now demands that non-citizens, or those who won't even say what nationality they are, have the same right to vote in U.S. elections as Americans:
Some voters were reportedly turned away from the polls on Michigan’s primary election day for refusing to fill out the new “citizenship” box on their ballot application.
Jocelyn Bensen, Director of the Michigan Center for Election Law, said they’ve been taking calls from confused voters across the state regarding this issue. She’s criticizing the Secretary of State’s office for failing to remind clerks that voters who decline to fill out the citizenship box must still be allowed to cast a ballot.
So it's not enough to forbid any requirement of official identification to vote, thus mandating that anyone can vote simply by claiming to be a citizen; the New True Levellers now insist that voters needn't even claim citizenship, nor even check a box saying that they are legal citizens of the United States. One's citizenship is literally irrelevant; vote early, vote often!
The next steps are clear: How can we infringe the voting rights of the dead? Or of animals, plants, computers, Magic 8-balls, or even animated characters? (Toons! How can we deny toon voting rights? If you cut them, do they not bleed -- ink?)
Why not ballots for a vague memory of a lost love? Or for colorless, green ideas that sleep furiously? Can a sigh vote? How about last Thursday; should last Thursday be given a ballot?
Why not just resurrect ACORN and instruct them to concoct a vote total for each district? It would be no less authentic (or more risible) than what Ms. Bensen seemingly demands.
And she appears to be litigation-bound on behalf of the "voter rights" of the class of folks unwilling to declare their citizenship:
Benson said they took calls from citizens in Wayne County, Oakland County and Macomb County as well as in Lansing and on the west side of the state – including some from people who weren’t allowed to vote....
Benson said it may be a constitutional as well as voter rights violation. She’s asking anyone who had problems at the polls to call the center at 1-800-R-VOTE [sic -- either Bensen or CBS doesn't appear to know how many digits are in a telephone number. -- DaH].
She does offer one actual argument, sort of, other than pure Levellerism:
"We know poll workers in the city of Detroit were trained to withhold ballots from people who didn’t complete the check box, and we know clerks in other parts of the state did not even have it on the application at all," said Benson. "So, there’s an absolute inconsistency to how this was approached and it’s something we are looking into for legal recourse."
But does anyone believe that if only the law was made universal across the state, so that every precinct had that same requirement to declare oneself to be an American citizen before voting in an American election, Ms. Bensen would be satisfied?
Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
I drew attention above to "Harrison Bergeron." It's a brilliant story: Its author, Kurt Vonnegut (1922 to 2007), was a deeply committed man of the Left; but he was also a science-fiction and speculative-ficiton author, able to look beyond the cliched sloganeering of his fellow travelers of socialism and speculate about things that never were but might be in the future. For that reason, his books are rarities to be treasured. Well, most of them.
Others who fall into that same skimpy category include "George Orwell" (Eric Blair), Robert A. Heinlein, and the granddaddy of them all, H.G. (Herbert George) Wells; each of these three chose to couch many of his ideas in a speculative-fiction or fantasy mode, whether paeans to, or brickbats hurled at, the dreams from our socialist fathers.
Two eventually renounced socialism altogether: Heinlein during or shortly after World War II, and H.G. Wells in his last book, Mind at the End of Its Tether. (Contrary to some claims, Wells did not denounce his faith in science in that book, just his faith in socialism.) The other two, Vonnegut and Orwell, appear to have remained men of the Left lifelong -- but also frequent critics of that same Left.
Science fiction and speculative fiction (let's adopt a cowardly compromise by using the initials sf) demand clear thinking; if an sf author's thinking is muddled, quotidian, banal, and derivative (as with J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter phenomena), most critical readers of sf would pronounce him (or her) a very bad sf writer; in other genres, especially "literary" fiction, authors can get away with uncreative murder. For a lark, compare Rowling's best with random passages from the great fantasists, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Harlan Ellison, Jack Vance, or Michael Moorcock. You can easily play "one of these books is not like the others."
You can especially compare Rowling unfavorably to Jane Yolen, who published Wizard's Hall in 1991 -- the book that Rowling swears, upon a stack of Daily Prophets and Quibblers, that she never, ever saw. Assuming she is truthful and accurate, as of course I must, it's a remarkable example of pandery recapitulating plagery.
Yet another leftist copycat, a man who appears never in his life to have questioned a single tenet of the First Church of Fudamentalist Progressivism, is Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy (the Golden Compass, the Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spyglass) -- and the even darker (and insipider) material in the "Sally Lockhart" tetralogy of extreme feminism, Communism, and Flavor-Aid atheism, comprising the Ruby In the Smoke, the Shadow In the North, the Tiger In the Well, and the Tin Princess; it should have been titled the Tin Ear, for Pullman's preachy and excessive didacticism, paucity of imagination, and enough message-sending to qualify for a bulk discount from Western Union.
And no, I won't bother linking to any of these wretched rip-offs and bitter attacks on the writings of C.S. Lewis: In the trilogy, Pullman pompously attempts an all-atheist perversion of the Chronicles of Narnia that is about as persuasive as an all-stooges version of the Tempest. Pullman himself is about as believable as Richard Nixon with a watermelon-sized hangover. And this critique from me, a militant agnostic! ("I don't know whether there's a God, and neither do you, confound it!")
Contrary to the New True Levellers, when leftists are cursed with functioning brains and lashings of fairness and justice, you get... well, you get "Harrison Bergeron," among other examples. These socialists, Communists, and assorted reds are the anti-Progressivists -- Regressivists? -- and they carry a very precarious presence within their movements, being constantly in danger of denunciation, show trial, and exile to the Z-list party zone.
But for that very reason, such a free soul is the only kind of lefty worth cultivating.
Date ►►► August 8, 2012
It's been August 1st for a number of days now, at least according to Excite's New York Times news feed.
It's not just the date; the stories themselves remain the same: Nathan Adrian has perpetually just won the 100-meter freestyle, Gore Vidal has just died again, and the Times is eternally frozen in mid-finger wag, warning that a "Plan Like Romney's Would Tax Rich Less." (Hallelujah! The rich are dreadfully overtaxed as it is.)
Good thing both media entities have so many layers of professional editing; otherwise hijinks might ensue. But I wonder how long before anybody notices that we're living in the world of Harlan Ellison's brilliant short story, "Jeffty Is Five"?
To quote Yogi Berra, or at least Boo-Boo, "It's like déjà vu all over again!"
Date ►►► August 6, 2012
Addendum to Vex Popular
Just a quick add-on to our previous post, Vex Popular, in which we speculated that Bill Clinton's entry into the Barack "You Didn't Build That" Obama campaign would not be the smashing success for which the Left pines; the very reason that Clinton has such a high "favorability" is precisely that he has not engaged in overt political campaigning since he tried to push his lovely wife Hillary across the finishing line in 2008's Democratic presidential primary. Thus, leaping into the fray now on behalf of America's Trillion-Dollar Taxman won't boost Obama so much as it will diminish Clinton.
Today we discover an amusing data point that tends to support that thesis, at least inferentially:
Former President Bill Clinton hopes to give a boost to President Barack Obama when he speaks at the Democratic national convention and places Obama’s name in nomination, but voters aren’t sure if the two agree on how to deal with the economy.
In a new Rasmussen Reports national survey, just 32 percent of likely voters said they believe Clinton and Obama hold similar views on how to fix the economy, while 39 percent think they have differing views on what’s needed. Another 29 percent are not sure....
Only 19 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of voters who are not affiliated with either major political party believe Clinton and Obama are in agreement on what economic course the country should follow.
Into that stat I read a dire implication to the Big Stick's retention as Chief Occupier. If a strong plurality of Independent voters believes that:
- Bill Clinton doesn't support or agree with Obama's handling of the economy, the most important issue the looming election; in fact, he agrees more with Mitt Romney's position;
- Nevertheless, Clinton is going to flog the Obama line anyway, and to heck with America's dire fiscal straits;
...Then won't voters conclude that Clinton's support for Obama is nothing but rank, knee-jerk partisanship? "My party, whether right or catastrophically wrong."
Great message to pass along to voters, and a brilliant campaign strategy!
Date ►►► August 4, 2012
So... Mitt and Ann Romney are rich. The way that the mainstream media and leftie opinion outlets are trumpeting the fact, you'd think it was some huge secret -- or worse yet, a source of shame. What I'm wondering is, where were all these people when John Kerry was running for president back in 2004?
Just for the record, when Kerry "reported for duty" to receive the nomination at the Democrat National Convention, he was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $240 million. Granted, this puts him just a teensy bit behind the Romneys at $250 million -- but then again, Mitt did make most of his own fortune with a combination of hard work and business sense, while Kerry married his. Still, though, I don't recall a big deal being made of Kerry's wealth at the time.
Dafydd adds: It's even worse than Korso notes. True, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA, 85%) gained his fortune the "old-fashioned way," by marrying it -- twice, as a matter of fact; he dumped Heiress Number One, Julia Thorne, to marry the much richer Heiress Number Two, Teresa.
But even Teresa Heinz Kerry, who brought Kerry that $200 million fortune, got it in the first place by marrying money... Republican money from former Sen. John Heinz (R-PA), who died in a 1991 plane crash. And Heinz himself got that fortune the other old-fashioned way: He inherited it from the Heinz Ketchup empire. (Nota bene: Romney inherited a huge fortune, but he gave away every dollar of it to charity. The money he has he earned himself in private enterprise.)
Doesn't anybody other than Mitt Romney earn his own pile anymore? That is, by means other than political corruption and "crony capitalism," the method of financial acquisition preferred by so many congressmen, senators, and even presidents.
Then there's the Clintons. Bubba and Hillary have done pretty well for themselves (an estimated $80 million and counting). What about Al Gore? The Green Racket has been pretty kind to his interests, to the tune of around $100 million -- although that probably took a hit when he and Tipper split. And let's not forget the Kennedys, those patron saints of the Democrat Party. Nobody really knows how much the whole family is worth, though estimates put the figure north of a half billion bucks. Next to them, Mitt Romney looks like a charity case.
So is there a double standard at work here? Or have financial mores just become that modest since so many have gone broke in the Age of Obama?
I know, I know. Complaining that the media treat Republicans and Democrats differently is like complaining that a dead fish smells: It's just the way things are, and pointing it out won't change anything. What concerns me more is this notion that success can be used as a weapon against the successful, at least in politics. There was a time when people in this country aspired to wealth, and looked up to those who achieved it. Sadly, these days, it seems there are far too many who see themselves as victims of other people's success -- and it's that kind of resentment that Barack Obama is hoping to ride to re-election.
What's laughable about all this is how Obama is trying to pass himself off as a regular guy. Put aside that the president is worth somewhere around $11 million himself, there's also the inconvenient truth (if you'll pardon the expression) that he's never held what you would call a regular job for any length of time. Neither did his wife Michelle, whose last paid position was a patronage gig at the Univeristy of Chicago Hospital that got her a tidy $300K salary before she left to become First Lady. I'm sure they'll understand if we don't believe that they can relate to middle-class concerns in a way that the Romneys can't.
Date ►►► August 3, 2012
Another law abiding citizen defended her ground (store, actually) against masked gunmen. In the past, it was difficult to learn much about cases like this, since the mainstream media never covered it. The only source of information was your local news; and as far as news coverage was concerned, living in another county was like living on another planet.
But thanks to talk radio, internet news feeds, news sites, blogs, and occasionally Fox News Channel, we are no longer hindered by distance or dismissal. We can read, hear, or see the local news from "far-away places with strange-sounding names." But this time, the gun defense happened in southern California -- local for Big Lizards! -- in my old stomping ground of Garden Grove:
A 65-year-old woman fired two rounds from a handgun at five masked men after they attempted to rob her jewelry store in Garden Grove, Calif. on Sunday. Her shots sent the men fleeing in such a panic that they literally tripped over each other trying to exit the store, KTLA reports.
In fact, the would-be robbers were in such a frenzy from her gunfire that their white getaway SUV actually left three of the suspects behind. They were later picked up [by the SUV] roughly a block and a half away.
Few are aware that it's not uncommon for citizens to defend themselves successfully with guns, as John R. Lott has cataloged; in his 1998 book More Guns, Less Crime, he estimated (p.19) between 760,000 and 3.6 million defensive gun uses per year; that number must surely have grown significantly in the intervening fourteen years. (The book was updated in 2010 and may have more recent estimates than our old copy.)
As a matter of fact, the day after this incident, yet another jewery store owner a few blocks away in Westminster shot a would-be armed robber in his face. (The police think the Westminster thieves might be the same ones the Garden-Grove police failed to apprehend the day before.)
Police determined that both store owners acted in self defense; nevertheless, they have a tut-tutting word of advice:
[The Garden Grove police] caution store owners about defending themselves with guns.
What should we use -- Nerf balls? Wham-O Air Blasters? I guess they mean we should submit meekly and hope that help arrives in time. But as the expression goes, "When seconds count, police are just minutes away!"
Date ►►► August 1, 2012
Here's a fascinating election speculation from our friends at the Gallup Poll:
Former President Bill Clinton's popularity is polling at record highs, a factor that may give a boost to beleaguered President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.
Clinton, who will formally nominate Obama at the Democratic National Convention in September, is viewed favorably by 66 percent of Americans, tying his highest rating recorded in January 1993, Gallup found.
Gallup explains its reasoning thus; first, they show a graphic of Clinton's favorable ratings from inauguration up to today:
Then Gallup makes its wish-list argument:
Clinton's solid popularity with Americans today might help attract new support to Obama from outside the party, particularly from whites, men, seniors, and political independents -- all important voting groups that Obama is struggling with in trial heats against Republican Mitt Romney.
Clinton and Obama, together again. It can't miss!
But let's think again, starting with first principles: Where did Clinton's sky-high favorability come from?
Perhaps we can find some clues by examining its ups and downs throughout Clintonian history. Let's reflect upon Clinton's presidential and post-presidential career with a couple of questions; perhaps the answers will give us a clue to his popularity today:
- Why was Bill Clinton's favorability so low in 1994, and why did he hit his nadir in late 2000?
- Contrariwise, why did he hit a high point in 1996-1998, and why is his favorability so positive today?
By Gallup's account above, his favorability plummeted from 66% in January of 1993, when he assumed office, to 47% in late 1994, precipitating the Republican takeover of Congress in November of that year. What had happened during those two years? Bill Clinton made a campaign promise to be a uniter, not a divider; he swore he would work with the GOP; he ran as the darling of the Democratic Leadership Council of moderate, non-Progressivist Democrats. Then as soon as he was safely elected, Clinton swerved to the Left:
- He raised taxes.
- Pushed hard for universal government health care (remember "HillaryCare?").
- Signed the "Brady Bill" gun control initiative.
- Expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, turning it into a brazen welfare program.
- Pronounced the new "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy for gays serving in the military. (Personally, I wish he had simply gone to the mattresses -- perhaps a bad expression regarding this particular president -- in Congress to repeal the law banning gays from serving in the military, thus allowing them to serve openly; DADT was an engraved invitation to blackmail.)
- And he slashed our national security and especially our intelligence services.
After the spanking Clinton suffered in the 1994 elections, he ping-ponged back rightwards:
- He signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (a.k.a. Gingrich's welfare reform) in 1996, after being seen negotiating with the Republicans for many months.
- He signed the Defense of Marriage Act, protecting traditional-marriage states from having to recognize the same-sex marriages of other states (forgot about that one, didn't you?).
- And he signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, also in 1996, which appeared to most voters as a reasonable compromise between compassion for illegals who had lived here peacefully for many years, including children who had been brought here as infants, and a well-justified concern for border security and the sovereign right of every country to control immigration. (Again personally, I wasn't much impressed. All hat, no steak.)
Each of these was an example of Bill Clinton "triangulating," negotiating with the more moderate members of both the Democratic and Republican parties for a working majority, rather than aligning himself with either fringe. Lo and behold, Clinton's favorability rose steadily from 1995 to 1997, when his second term began. It continued high until 1998, when Clinton's favorability started its long decline to 42% in late 2000.
Since most voters opposed Clinton's 1998 impeachment, the GOP prosecution of the president probably raised his favorability leading up to it. Too, his "bloodless" Bosnian attack seemed successful at first; but by 1998, Clinton's feckless foreign-policy sacred cows finally came home to roost:
- Bosnia and Kosovo turned into horrific stalemates.
- Saddam Hussein went on a tear, slaughtering his own people with tanks, aerial bombardment, and poison gas.
- Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom Clinton had practically shoehorned back into control of Haiti, was seen more and more as a ruthless and bloody dictator.
- And of course, this period also saw a huge increase in al-Qaeda activity, culminating in their bombing of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, each of which killed many Americans.
In other words, when Clinton was behaving in a bipartisan, moderate, and effective manner, voters loved him. But when he was partisan, radical, feckless, and incompetent, they despised him.
The correlation is too strong and exact to ignore; in the end, a strong majority disliked him, because they finally figured out that they'd been suckered. In reality, Clinton was always more liberal than he admitted; and voters finally realized he didn't have a dang clue what he was doing on any front, foreign or domestic.
But what about today? Why is he so retroactively popular? Two reasons spring to mind:
- Lately, Bill Clinton has been keeping his mouth shut.
- And when he does speak, he makes it clear that he is not Barack "Big Stick" Obama!
So let's collate all this data into a little packet of Clintonian Conclusions:
- Bill Clinton's "favorability" is not a fixed quantity, nor has it much to do with the man himself. Rather, it reflects what he has been doing lately.
- Therefore, his favorability can rise or fall precipitously if he changes his behavior.
- Lurching back into partisan campaigning, after years of being a neutral "elder statesman," making sage pronouncements and staying "above the fray," definitely counts as changing his behavior.
- In this case, by hitching the Clintonmobile to an angry, thin-skinned, radical, partisan President Obama, Clinton evokes the Bad Clinton of 1993 through 1994, not the Good Clinton of bipartisan cooperation and moderation in his liberalism.
- Thus Clinton, by joining forces with Barack Obama, the wildly divisive Trillion-Dollar Taxman, makes it far more likely that Obama will drag Clinton's favorability downwards, rather than Clinton dragging Obama's favorability upwards.
The forceable recollecting of Clinton's sly, dishonest, corruption (remember his and Al Gore's campaign-financing and other financial scandals?) will likely highlight Obama's own liberal-fascist, crony-capitalist culture of corruption, funneling trillions in tax dollars to Obama's cronies and financial backers.
The Gallup pollsters make the amateurish mistake of thinking that Clinton's likeability oozes naturally from his DNA and will rub off onto anyone he buddies up to. But the reality is, by embracing Obama, Clinton will come to be seen as a political "parole violator." He will be swallowed whole by Obamunism, eventually to be spat under the bus... like everyone else who becomes an Obamic liability.
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