Category ►►► Dancing Democrats
December 1, 2010
We used to say there were two major parties in the United States: The Corrupt Party and the Stupid Party; and most of us reading this blog are members of the latter.
Well, we may have to change the former to the Corrupt and Stupid Party:
A food safety bill that has burned up precious days of the Senate’s lame-duck session appears headed back to the chamber because Democrats violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House.
By pre-empting the House’s tax-writing authority, Senate Democrats appear to have touched off a power struggle with members of their own party in the House. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, but House Democrats are expected to use a procedure known as “blue slipping” to block the bill, according to House and Senate GOP aides.
The debacle could prove to be a major embarrassment for Senate Democrats, who sought Tuesday to make the relatively unknown bill a major political issue by sending out numerous news releases trumpeting its passage.
As they say, "heh."
Note that this guff about tax bills needing to originate in the House, not the Senate, is not just a congressional regulation or even a law; it come straight from the United States Constitution, Article I, section 7:
Although there was a previous version of this bill that did originate in the House in 2009, it seems that Senate Democrats added "a set of fees that are classified as revenue raisers;" that triggers the constitutional concerns (and Democrat embarassment).
The two possible responses are:
- Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) can try to ram it through the Senate again after (if) the House wastes time passing it.
- Or Reid can just drop the issue -- and look even more of an ass, after that PR blitz -- to focus on the DREAM Act, granting amnesty and full voting rights to any illegal immigrant willing to swear allegiance to the Corrupt and Stupid Party.
Of course, Reid must be familiar with this sort of self-humiliation; he is a repeat offender:
This is not the first time that Reid has run afoul of the Constitution’s tax origination provisions. His efforts to pass a tourism promotion bill that was key to his re-election hopes was temporarily stymied earlier this year because the Senate passed a version with revenue raisers similar to those in the food safety bill.
Scott Johnson of Power Line posted today about the Senate GOP's letter to Reid, in which they promised to filibuster all bills until and unless Congress (a) passes a budget, and (b) rejects the built-in tax increase that the Democrats forced into George W. Bush's tax cut bill of 2001. Scott concluded his post thus:
The letter is a good idea, but couldn't they have signed off on it before the Senate passed the stupid and misguided Nanny state food bill on Monday?
Looks like Christmas came early to Mr. Johnson this year!
February 15, 2010
And Another Dem Bites It. Like Flies, I Tells Ya! UPDATED
Now it's Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN, 70%) announcing he won't run for reelection:
In his remarks, Mr. Bayh expressed frustration at what he described as an increasingly polarized atmosphere in Washington that made it impossible to get anything done.
“For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should,” he said. “There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress. Too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem solving.”
This was a Senate seat that the Democrats already marked down as a dead-cert hold; but now it's just one more open seat in a state that went for Barack H. Obama by the narrowest of margins (50-49) in the heavily Democratic year of 2008. But that was thirteen months and a thousand years ago; a poll of Obama's support in Indiana today would find probably find 35%-40% job approval, with even lower marks for Congress.
Conservative former Republican Sen. Dan Coats (Wolf Howling's best friend!) was already edging his way into the race against Bayh; with Bayh out, the edging will likely turn into a sprint, and then a stampede, as several other Republicans join the wild hunt. Indiana is now an excellent opportunity for another Republican pickup.
Reading between the lines, I don't believe Bayh is leaving because he thinks he can't win; rather, he's leaving because he's disenchanted by today's Democratic Party:
He cited two recent examples of the Senate not stepping up – the voting down of a bipartisan commission to deal with the federal deficit and the stymied attempt to craft a jobs bill....
Mr. Bayh had been growing increasingly discontent with the Senate, an associate said, and told some advisers in 2006, when he briefly explored a presidential bid, that he did not know whether he would seek re-election to the Senate. He was seen by some fellow Democrats as someone who was not very active in the chamber on a daily basis. He often popped in for votes and was quickly gone, only occasionally giving floor speeches. He was also known to make time for the school and sports events of his children. [Great Scott, sounds like a conservative! -- DaH]
In the past two years, Mr. Bayh has been focused on budget and fiscal issues and frustrated some of his colleagues by balking at the Democratic budget proposals. According to analysis by The Times of Mr. Bayh’s voting history, he has voted with a majority of the Democratic caucus roughly 71 percent of the time during the 111th Congress — the lowest percentage of his career. (He has also been the Senate Democrat least likely to vote with the party this Congress.)
We may be seeing the beginning of a flood of disenchanted Democrats, the radioactive fallout of the Obamacle's scorched-earth radicalism: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) was driven out of the party for being insufficiently belligerent and bellicose; Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) has moved sharply to the left since the inauguration; Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) is practically running the Senate. Many Democrats who are not in Ted Kennedy-land must be finding the environment much like Yellowstone National Park: scalding hot and stinking like rotten eggs.
They've seen Republicans retake seats that switched to the Democrats in 2008; and in some cases, like Scott Brown grabbing Kennedy's seat, winning seats that have been Democratic since the Cretaceous Period. Like the dinosaurs of that time, Democrats are starting to go politically extinct.
Keep watching the skies, and expect more and more defections, rejections, and insurrections over the next couple of months; 2010 could turn out to be a bigger year for the GOP than 1994.
UPDATE: John Hinderaker at Power Line passes along a rumor that the next Democratic senator out the door will be Barbara Mikulski (D-MD, 95%). The skies, I tells ya; keep watching the skies!
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
February 12, 2010
Dems Keep a-Droppin'
The latest electoral drop-out is (drum roll)... Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI, 100%), scion of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. P. Kennedy has just declared that he will not seek reelection... for a race in which he was a shoe-in for another (ninth) term:
The decision comes less than a month after a stunning upset by Republican Scott Brown in the race for the Massachusetts Senate seat his father held for almost half a century. Last week, as Brown was sworn into the seat, Patrick Kennedy called Brown's candidacy a "joke" and predicted Brown would betray his union supporters.
Kennedy did not give a reason for his decision, but he began the message by saying it had been a difficult few years for many people, then segued into the death of his father.
"Illness took the life of my most cherished mentor and confidante, my ultimate source of spirit and strength," he said, as a black-and-white photo of him as a boy sailing with his father appeared on the screen. "From the countless lives he lifted, to the American promise he helped shape, my father taught me that politics at its very core was about serving others."
This means that yet another Democratic congressional seat is up for grabs. Kennedy was so favored in the race, primary and general, that no other Democrat bothered to file against him for the primary; any Democrat starting now is already behind the power curve.
Republican John Loughlin is, for the moment, the cheese that stands alone in the race for RI-1:
The only Republican in the race, state Rep. John Loughlin, has been working with Brown's campaign team, the Shawmut Group, and was raising money. But Kennedy was heavily favored to win the race: Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 4 to 1 in Rhode Island. Loughlin has little statewide recognition, and Kennedy had four times as much campaign cash on hand coming into the year.
He told The Providence Journal shortly after Brown's win in January that he wasn't worried about Loughlin, saying "bring it on."
More and more, November 2nd is shaping up to be a very good day indeed -- for America.
December 3, 2009
Addendum to "The Party of Mandatory Assent"
In our immediately preceding post, The Party of Mandatory Assent, we concluded that:
What weaves all these threads together is a common theme of "winning" debate -- legislative, administrative, judicial, and academic -- by gagging the opposition, by mandating assent, by locking out dissenters, and by throwing freedom of speech under the bus of the permanent campaign.
Bearing that in mind, here's another datum; this comes from the post "Free speech for me - not for thee," by Mark J. Fitzgibbons; I think you'll see the relevance:
I recently received a direct mail fundraising appeal from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) that contained a premium (direct mail term for ‘freebie'). The letter was signed by Senator John Kerry. The premium was a flexible magnet, the type people put on their refrigerators and such.
The magnet read: STAND FOR CHANGE -- SILENCE GOP LIES
Silence them? Does the fundraising appeal also include a free SEIU t-shirt and standard-issue truncheon?
Submitted for your thoughtful consideration...
The Party of Mandatory Assent
The Democratic Party fantasizes that it's "the party of dissent." It's certainly true that an inordinate number of Democrats were "dissidents" when they were young; but that was when Richard Nixon was president, for the older members -- or when Ronald Reagan was president, for the rest (including the current president, Barack H. Obama). That is, these radicals only dissented to Republican or conservative ideas; by contrast, they accepted the ideological ravings of the Left with uncritical cheerleading... and for the most part, they still do.
Thus they're not really the party of dissent; they're the party of anti-Rightism. But now that the shoe is on the other hand, and wishy-washy leftism has become the establishment, dissent seems to the new power elite, to put it bluntly, unAmerican.
Today, Democrats belong to the party of "'Shut up!' he explained."
Examples are in order.
First, as widely reported, since gaining control of both chambers of the Congress, Democrats have moved to shut Republicans completely out of most policy debates -- at times even changing the locks on House committee rooms to keep the GOP from mucking things up by joining the discussion:
Last Thursday [October 15th, 2009], the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was set to hold a routine business meeting. Before the session, its ranking Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), made clear that he planned to call for the panel to subpoena Bank of America for documents related to Countrywide Financial Corp.'s infamous "Friends of Angelo" VIP mortgage program....
When Thursday's committee meeting began, however, the Democrats were absent, and Republican members said they waited for more than half an hour before being told the session had been canceled because of scheduling conflicts. Democrats, meanwhile, were meeting in a private room behind the hearing room.
A Republican aide saw the Democrats scuttling out of this backroom and videotaped them, posting the video on YouTube and the GOP website.
On Monday, panel Democrats had the lock changed on the door leading from the GOP's office space into the main hearing room. They did so, Towns' office said, because Republicans "don't know how to behave."
Rather than castigate these House Democrats, party members across the nation cheered them on, hooting and mocking the "defeated" Republicans. Defeated? Why yes... they were stopped from participating in their own committee meeting, a glorious victory!
More glorious victories followed; they roll upon one another like waves against the shorline. Yesterday, lefty Joshua Micah Marshall, who runs Talking Points Memo (now called just "TPM," rather like how Kentucky Fried Chicken turned into KFC, and the International House of Pancakes mysteriously morphed into IHOP) reported the Democratic response to amendments Republicans offer to the ObamaCare bill under debate in the Senate:
Currently, Reid and the Democrats are considering their options for moving the debate forward, and actually holding votes. The main possibility being considered is that Reid could move to table irrelevant Republican amendments.
"If we're not allowed to move we're going to have to start tabling amendments," [Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA, 100%)] said.
So whenever the Democrats decide (without consulting the GOP) that a Republican amendment is "irrelevant" -- Marshall's word, but I'm sure he has support on the Hill -- they will simply table it, which means to stuff it in a sack and throw it into the ocean... without debate.
But it's not just Congress, where one expects at least a certain amount of stepping on the minority's toes (though always so many more broken toes when the minority is Republican); the chief executive is supposed to be "President of the United States," not president of the Democratic caucus. But this particular fellow, who ran an entire campaign congratulating himself on his "post-partisanship," has also proven to be allergic to dissent against his meshuge pronunciamentos; John Stossel reports on today's "jobs summit":
At least the Administration talks about the private sector:
"We want to make sure it is not just the public sector doing this in a vacuum," said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama. "It's important we engage the private sector as well." Administration officials, however, have excluded major trade associations from the summit....
Some of those groups privately complain that their job creation ideas, including enactment of stalled free trade deals that they say would boost exports, are opposed by labor unions, which will be heavily represented at the forum.
The White House, which has clashed with some of the business groups over their opposition to health-care reform and other initiatives, says it has met repeatedly with those organizations and wants to hear fresh ideas.
Yes. I am sure those "fresh ideas" will come from the trade unions whom the White House just hasn't heard from much over the past year. At the summit they will also hear from environmental groups “Green for All” and “Coalition for the Green Bank.” I’m sure they’ll have great ideas for job creation.
Will at least some free-market economists get to speak? No. The White House will hear from Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz, and Jeffrey Sachs. "Fresh ideas" won’t be heard from these folks.
Anybody who knows what the term "summit" means, raise your hand. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
Yes, I'm sure all readers of this blog know that a "summit" is generally used to mean a meeting between opposing heads of state to bring a long-term negotiation to a final conclusion. The operative word here is "opposing": If everyone is already singing from the same page, that's not a summit; that's a party.
But this is hardly anomalous in the administration of the Obamacle. When dissenters are so obviously wrong, why bother listening to them? It will only waste time on "irrelevant" proposals. On issue after issue, in task force after task force, he has excluded not only Republicans but even Democrats who are insufficiently subordinate. In fact, his appointment of scores of "Czars" to make decisions in place of secretaries, administrators, and other positions subject to Senate confirmation is a gigantic conspiracy to wall off any congressional dissent to Obamic policy-making.
Democrats in the judiciary evince the very same philosophy of "See no Republicans, hear no Republicans, Allow no Republicans to speak." No better example exists than the liberal judges who have repeatedly overturned the decisions of the people -- often even when those decisions were expressed in democratic elections -- and tried to force same-sex marriage (SSM) on us all, willy-nilly. The astonishing and relentless assault on government of, by, and for the people is particularly brutal in California:
- In response to rumblings for SSM from the Left, Californians voted very strongly (61-39) for traditional marriage, Proposition 22, in May of 2000.
- Not willing to accept the vote of mere peons -- can't let the inmates run the asylum! -- the California Supreme Court overturned Prop 22 eight years later, May 2008, declaring SSM to be a fundamental right under the California state constitution. Thus shocking those of us who had never actually seen it there before.
- This forced the people back to the polls again six months later, where they enacted Proposition 8 by 52 to 48 (in a very Democratic year with Barack Obama on the same ballot). Prop 8 had exactly the same wording as Prop 22, but it was an initiative constitutional amendment, rather than a lowly legislative initiative. Thus, Prop 8 trumped the California Supreme Court's decision by amendmending the constitution.
But the Left refuses to admit defeat. Liberal activists filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn Prop 8 under the federal Constitution, which everybody knows was expressly written in 1787 in order to legalize same-sex marriage.
Notwithstanding all that voting goin' on, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals -- all three judges were appointed by Bill Clinton -- has signalled that it is poised to find Prop 8 unconstitutional and throw it out. The voters can go jump in the Pacific.
This will eventually force the issue to the Supreme Court (perhaps after a detour at an "en banc" hearing of the 9th Circus), where I am utterly convinced the current Court will side with the people, not their self-appointed judicial masters.
Regardless of the likely good ending to this long legal saga, my point is that the Democratic response to dissent from its utopian schemes is "shut up and go away." In this case, we actually held a debate in the most public and democratic way: by a democratic election. Now that debate is over and the Right has won, the Left wants the vote overturned by judicial warrant; their own losing side shall be declared the winner, and the votes of millions of Californios become null and void.
This arrogance even permeates the lowest levels of "government," in this case a state-owned, public university.
In the Fall of 1996, the debate over California's Proposition 209 raged. The initiative constitutional amendment threatened to end "affirmative action," that is, race and gender preferences in California -- and the Left was in a lather. How dare those conservatives take seriously all that nonsense about judging folks by the content of their characters, rather than the color of their skins; didn't those religious extremists and social troglodytes understand that skin color completely determines character, as well as determining ability, temperment, and opportunity?
To top off the insult, the campaign for Prop 209 was run by a black conservative, Ward Connerly. How could such a creature even exist, let alone run a successful campaign to change California's constitution?
The wording of the initiative was truly convoluted, contorted, tortuous, and impossible to understand... at least to liberals. It read, "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."
The Left was terrified that the idiot sheeple, in the privacy of the voting booth, might become so befuddled by the sly and tricksy language that they fail to understand that voting for Prop 209 would stop the state from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to individuals or groups on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
The California State University at Northridge (CSUN) decided to hold a debate on September 25th, 1996. Speaking against the initiative would be famed civil-rights leader Joe Hicks; so obviously, the logical choice to speak in its favor would be Ward Connerly himself.
But the CSUN student council had other ideas... or at least half of them did. It comprised 22 members, as I recall, split evenly between supporters and opponents of Prop 209. When the council called the first question, to invite Hicks to speak in opposition, the vote was unanimous.
But then Student Body President Vladimir Cerna, an outspoken opponent of eliminating "affirmative action" and opponent of Prop 209, pulled a rabbit up his sleeve: Rather than call a vote on the proponent nominated by supporters of the initiative, Ward Connerly, Cerna took it upon himself to introduce a different candidate: He moved that CSUN invite, as its Prop 209 proponent in the debate, David Ernest Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Proponents of Prop 209 were aghast; they all voted against the obvious "poison pill." But the lovers of affirmative action unanimously voted for David Duke to represent their opponents, making the vote an 11-11 tie. This allowed Cerna to exercise his power as president to cast a second vote for Duke, and the motion carried 12 to 11. It was official: The pro-Prop 209 side would be represented in the debate by a white nationalist and demonstrated racist.
The Left succeeded in picking a racist monster to "speak for" the Right... but Prop 209 was enacted anyway by a 10-point margin.
Like a web, the pieces all fall into place...
What weaves all these threads together is a common theme of "winning" debate -- legislative, administrative, judicial, and academic -- by gagging the opposition, by mandating assent, by locking out dissenters, and by throwing freedom of speech under the bus of the permanent campaign.
I can only conclude, as I have on too many occasions (but don't expect me to exercise admirable restraint in the future), by quoting the late great Robert Anton Wilson, when he ate too many magic mushrooms and channeled Lemuel Gulliver *:
My own thought: Democrats do not form a political party; they form an ideological cult.
And that puts a period to this post.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
* Wilson, Robert Anton; "The Persecution and Assassination of the Parapsychologists as Performed by the Inmates of the American Association for the Advancement of Science under the Direction of the Amazing Randi;" p. 85, Right Where You Are Sitting Now, ©1982, And/Or Press, Inc. -- first printing.
December 1, 2009
Days of Diminutive, Diminishing Democrats
Rasmussen reports that the number of Democrats in the United States -- well, let's be specific... the number of folks willing to fess up to being Democrats -- is shrinking; it's now down to 36.0% of the population (rather, of the pool of respondents in the survey).
Back in 2008, Democrats hit a local peak of 41.7% in May; at the election, they were still 41.4%... and we all know how that turned out.
At the same time, Republicans crept up to 33.1%, leaving a shrinking gap of 2.9% (Democrats minus Republicans); that of course is the real statistic to pay attention to. In November 2006, Democrats enjoyed a 6.1% advantage over Republicans; in November 2008, the gap was 7.6%. (These are numbers for "all adults;" Republicans show up and vote at higher percentages than Democrats, so the gap shrinks somewhat during actual elections.)
In November 2004, however, the gap was only 1.6%... yet Republicans only gained 3 net seats in the House and 4 in the Senate. Let's hope that we do better a year from now.
Of course, if the Democrats keep slipping next year as they have this year -- from 40.9% down to 36.0%, while Republicans rose from 32.6% to 33.1%; the gap shrank from 8.3% to 2.9% -- if that trend continues (unlikely, but let's run with it), then by November 2010, Democrats would be down to 30.7%, Republicans would be up to 33.6%, and Republicans would actually enjoy an advantage of 2.9% -- the exact reverse of the gap right now.
Naturally, you cannot make straight-line projections of polling data; but it's fun to ponder!
In November (monthly tracking, not the daily tracking poll -- and we're back to "likely voters" on this one, not "all adults"), the overall approval rating of President Barack H. Obama was 48%; his overall disapproval rating was a majority, 52%; and his "approval index" -- that is, the number strongly approving minus the number strongly disapproving -- dropped again to -12%, 28% minus 40%. Note especially that while 52% disapprove, fully 40% strongly disapprove; that is, 77% of likely voters who disapprove of the Obamacle do so strongly.
There's a whole lotta head-shaking goin' on.
April 28, 2009
A Specter Is Haunting the Democratic Party
So let's take stock of the Defector General, Arlen Specter (D-PA, 45%), and look forward to the 2010 elections, when Specter next confronts the voters. There are of course three possibilities:
- Specter runs in the Democratic primary and wins;
- Specter runs in the Democratic primary and loses;
- Specter chooses not to run for reelection.
I believe that Pat Toomey, Specter's opponent in the 2004 Republican primary, entrepeneur, restauranteur, president of the Club for Growth, and former U.S. Representative -- who came within 1.7% of unseating Specter in the primary last time -- will be the Republican Senate nominee in 2010. To me, this is much more certain than than Specter will win the Democratic primary (though I think that's likely as well).
So I will simply assume that will be the case until some act of God or analysis by Michael Barone persuades me otherwise. So here are the three possibilities:
Specter wins the Democratic nomination in 2010
In this case, the most likely one, Pennsylvania seemingly would have a clear-cut choice between the conservative-right Toomey and the center-left Specter. But look above at Specter's percentile number... that's not his number from the American Conservative Union (as I would have used yesterday); that 45% is his score from Americans for Democratic Action, the main congressional ranking organization on the Left.
Even assuming that he moves more towards the Democratic side post-switch, Arlen Specter is highly unlikely to be a loyal liberal (he's never been a loyal anything; he's always been a problem child). Remember, he was originally a Democrat but switched in 1965 to run for District Attorney of Pennsylvania, basically for the same reason he switched today: because he couldn't have won the Democratic primary.
Specter is not going to vote party-line for the Left; therefore, he will anger much of the Left, who live by an all-or-nothing credo (just ask Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-CT, 85% D... written out of the Democratic Party despite a much, much more liberal voting record than Arlen Specter's).
Democrats may be stupid about many things but not about politics. They are well aware that Specter's switch has nothing to do with an evolving ideology or "growing in office" and everything to do with crass political calculation, just as it did 44 years ago. Many will resent a moderate Republican, who they have trashed for decades, "stealing" the Democratic nomination, thus preventing a clean shot at conservative Toomey.
I'm sure the Democratic Party will try to lean on and force out any such candidate; but I'm equally sure that at least one Democrat will ignore the central committee and run anyway.
Therefore, whether or not Specter has a divisive primary fight, he is certain to draw a true-blue liberal opponent as a third-party candidate. So instead of Toomey vs. Specter, neat and clean, we're quite likely to have Toomey vs. Specter vs. Mr. Leftie. This may well suck much of Specter's Democratic support away from him... boosting Toomey's chances considerably.
In another boost, Toomey will certainly have access to far more Republican money in 2010 than he did in 2004 or than he would have had running against Specter in the Republican primary. Don't forget, Specter won the nomination last time only because a number of establishment-oriented elected Republicans, including Specter's conservative then-fellow Sen. Rick Santorum and even President George W. Bush, lined up behind him as the best shot at holding the seat (almost certainly true)... and Specter correspondingly sucked up nearly all the big GOP campaign cash.
Some of those same folks will continue to support Defector Specter if they think he's still the favorite to win (the donors who follow the power); but with Specter's reelection in much more doubt this time, they will hedge their bets by supporting Toomey as well. And there are plenty of big-money GOP donors who actually believe in the Republican Party -- shocking, I know -- and they will have no choice but (a) support Toomey or (b) sit on the sidelines and do nothing. An awful lot of money is going to flow into Toomey's coffers.
Finally, there is the delicate question of Specter's age and health. He is both a cancer survivor and also quite old; in 2010, Arlen Specter will be 80.
While some senators have been reelected in their 80s, that is generally when they reign in a one-party state with little opposition; think Strom Thurmond who won reelection in South Carolina at 82, 88, and 94, and Robert Byrd, reelected in West Virginia at 83 and 89. Both these Senate institutions had only token opposition, easily brushed aside, in their later elections.
But Specter's reelection is probably more like that of former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. Specter has not been convicted of any felonies, whereas Stevens -- at the time of the election -- stood convicted of seven (all since voided due to prosecutorial misconduct). But Specter has his own comparable problems, including his narrow squeaker against Toomey in 2004. With a strong challenger, Specter's prospects are nowhere near as rosy as Thurmond in 1996 or Byrd in 2006. No matter what, a race between Specter and Toomey will be close -- especially with a liberal third-party candidate.
So under this scenario, I think Toomey has his best chance to be the next Republican senator from the Keystone state.
Specter loses the nomination
Judging from Specter's oversized ego -- colossal even by United States Senate standards! --
if he loses the Democratic nomination, there is a very, very good chance he will run anyway as a third-party candidate. If he does, he will suck far more votes from the Left than the Right... though probably not that many.
NOTE: At the moment, according to the Hill newspaper, Pennsylvania election law would not allow him to run as an independent or under a third party if he competed in the Democratic primary and lost:
“It’s pretty hard to run without a party,” Specter said. “It’s always something that could be a possibility. But then I wouldn’t be in the Republican caucus -- wouldn’t have quite the standing as a Republican.”
The decision would be harder for Specter, too, because Pennsylvania state law does not allow someone who has lost a primary to run as an Independent, as Lieberman did. Specter would need to decide to run without a party in advance of the primaries.
However, Pennsylvania voters might soon recognize the registration status of "Independent," and Independent voters might be able to vote in any primary:
Specter lamented that his home state doesn’t allow for him to run as an Independent if he loses the primary. He also said he supports an upcoming effort to open the primaries to independent voters.
So it appears he will not be running as an independent if he loses the primary. (Hat tip to Mr. Michael)
I don't know how who is favored in this case, but probably whichever Democrat runs against Toomey, just because Pennsylvania is a fairly blue state; it went for Obama by 54.65% to 44.23% -- though there will be a much smaller "Obama effect" this time, as Obama is not personally on the ballot. It's not a lost cause, especially if Specter plays dog in the manger with the Democrats.
Even if he doesn't run third party, Toomey is not fated to lose; much depends upon voter sentiment after another year and a half of Obamunism: If the economy has not significantly recovered, if things aren't looking too good on the national security and foreign-policy fronts, if Barack H. Obama and Joe Biden continue making foolish, rookie mistakes and embarassing themselves, then yes, Pat Toomey has a great argument to make that one-party rule is antithetical to Americanism... the very same argument that Democrats made in 2004, by the bye.
Specter decides to hang it up
I believe this is the least likely of all scenarios by a huge margin -- for the reason of Specter's planet-sized ego, perhaps even eclipsing the overweening ego of William Shatner. (The latter is so supremely confident in his own superiority that he's even willing to satirize himself and his own arrogance -- for example, appearing as the "Big Giant Head" in 3rd Rock From the Sun.)
But if somehow Arlen Specter decided that potential humiliation from losing the race outweighed his desperate desire to cling to power at any cost, if he withdrew from the race and campaigned for the Democrat, then that would give the Democrats their best shot at holding the seat -- the equivalent of what would have happened had Specter remained a Republican, then lost the primary to Toomey. Then we really would have a clean tête-à-tête between the conservative Toomey and the liberal Whoever. In that case, barring a truly serious crisis for the Obama administration, the Democrats hold.
That would be bad, because the new senator would be very liberal, and he would assuredly be the 60th vote to crush Republican fillibusters (or 59th vote, if Sen. Norm Coleman, R-MN, 48%, somehow manages the hat trick of beating Al Franken).
We Republicans should hope, hope, hope that:
- Specter continues running for reelection;
- After a brutal primary fight, he emerges as the Democratic nominee;
- Some liberal decides to take the fight to the general as a third-party candidate;
- A goodly chunk of Democrats are disgusted enough with Specter as their nominee that they support the spoiler (on the theory that they have such a huge majority anyway, and a chance to pick up more in other states, that they can afford to jettison the former Republican);
- That Barack Obama continues to be Barack Obama;
- And most especially that Joe Biden and Obama's cabinet continue to be themselves, too.
That's not a particularly unlikely scenario; and I believe that one gives Pat Toomey a very, very good chance of taking that seat away from the liberal-fascist party of Obama.
March 19, 2009
Obama's State-Ownership Society
Back in the precambrian era -- in fall of 2008, I of course mean -- we warned in several posts that when the federal government takes an "equity interest" (ownership in whole or in significant part) in private companies, it creates a grave threat to the capitalist system:
- Democrats Channel Hugo Chavez in Rescue Demands
- While Washington Wilts, Soros Schemes
- Is It Adios to Capitalism - or Only Au Revoir?
When government buys a significant stake in private companies, it creates a terrible conflict of interest; decisions that should be made entirely on economic grounds -- attempting to maximize the long-term profit for the owners of the company, whether stockholders or private consortia -- are made instead by politicians pushing a particular political ideology, or else trying to benefit big campaign donors.
Corporate management is ultimately accountable to the owners (though owners can be derelict in their fiduciary duties), while politicians are accountable only to voters and donors, neither of which may have any particular concern about the financial viability of particular private companies in the government's stock portfolio.
This is how we explained it in the first post linked above:
The latter especially is a key element of Woodrow Wilson, Benito Mussolini style fascism; it invariably leads to the State, as the $700 billion gorilla on the board of directors, exerting overwhelming control over corporate decisions... which it will exercise on the basis of politics, not profits.
When people read "fascism," they immediately tend to envision concentration camps, jackboots, and Nazis goosestepping at mass rallies; but the real danger of fascism, especially liberal fascism (fascism with a smiley face, as depicted -- against author Jonah Goldberg's wishes -- on the cover of his book Liberal Fascism), is government control of corporations. The more control is handed over to politicians and bureaucrats who have no hand in actually producing the product (loans and securities, in this case), the more critical decisions will be made on irrelevant political considerations, often leading to financial disaster... and another bailout, leading to even more government control. Eventually, the State completely hijacks the corporation for political purposes... and we're well on our way to Hugo Chavez-land.
The threat posed by the government taking an equity interest in private companies can be minimized by making it a matter of law that the holdings are fully divested as soon as buyers can be found at market prices -- either the company buying back its own stock or private third parties taking it off government's hands; in the third Big Lizards post linked up top, "Is It Adios to Capitalism - or Only Au Revoir?", we discussed this possibility:
With the long-expected decision today by President George W. Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke that Treasury will spend $250 billion of the $700 billion buying equity stakes in nine top banks, thus injecting "liquidity" directly into the industry, we stand at a crossroads. The question is whether this is "goodbye" to Capitalism or just "see you soon"... whether this is a permanent break from free markets or just a necessary but temporary bank holiday....
The direct injection of liquidity by Treasury buying equity is also outside the market, because that money is extracted from people by force, in the form of taxes. But at the core, even this direct investment is an attempt to buy time to complete the "transparentizing" (horrible neologism, I know) of the toxic assets -- the recreation of the information that was lost by multiple unregulated securitizations of massive collections of mortgages.
Once the [timely, honest, accurate, and believable information] has been restored to the mortgage-backed securities and other instruments, the market can reboot itself...
With the restoration of the missing THABI information, the market can reboot, and the catastrophe will be averted. So long as partial-nationalization of the banking industry lasts only long enough to retransparentize the toxic assets, thus allowing the market to begin functioning again, it will be an acceptable, even necessary intervention.
Alas, there is nothing in the Obama administration's bailout that implies they will, in fact, consider this a temporary expedient; from everything I've read, they see it as a permanent "reform."
There are two classic anti-capitalist examples of divesting funds for political reasons; together, they point out the very real danger when government becomes a part owner of the private sector through enforced or distressed nationalization (we have seen both in the present crisis):
- When universities, big corporations, and of course government programs in the 1970s dumped all their investments in companies based in South Africa or doing business in South Africa, even if they were based elsewhere, to protest Apartheid; this was in response to purely political pressure from black activist groups here in the United States.
- And when the usual suspects more recently dumped all investment in Israel, Israeli companies, or companies that did not ritually denounce Israel, in response to purely political pressure from antisemitic, anti-Israel, and generally pro-Palestinian and Islamist activist groups.
Both are examples of government trying to use equity ownership to bully the private sector into purely political actions that have nothing whatsoever to do with the companies in question.
When the government is a significant investor in a company, it cannot help running those companies; government funds never come "string free." Worse, the State runs those companies not to make profits, but to score political points.
In fact, that is exactly what is happening in the case of American International Group (AIG): We have such a huge investment in that company now, $80 billion, that how much they pay employees in retention "bonuses" (inducements to continue working for AIG, rather than jumping ship to some less shaky company) has become a political football.
In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives has just voted overwhelmingly, 328 to 93, to enact a confiscatory tax on AIG employees -- almost by name! -- if AIG fulfills its contractual obligations by paying the employees who stayed on for the work they did (reducing AIG's liability from $2.7 trillion to $1.6 trillion):
Spurred on by a tidal wave of public anger over bonuses paid to executives of the foundering American International Group, the House voted 328 to 93 on Thursday to get back most of the money by levying a 90 percent tax on it....
But there was no doubt after the House vote that the lawmakers were keenly aware of their constituents’ anger, which was focused on A.I.G., although the House measure would apply to executives of any company getting more than $5 billion in federal bailout money.
Hours after the vote, the office of Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York attorney general, said A.I.G. had turned over the names of employees who received bonuses, in response to a subpoena.
Before releasing the list, the attorney general’s office plans to review it and assess whether individuals on it might have reason to fear for their safety.
“We are aware of the security concerns of A.I.G. employees, and we will be sensitive to those issues by doing a risk assessment before releasing any individual’s name,” Mr. Cuomo’s office said in a statement.
Well that's mighty decent of them.
So the bill was openly and unabashedly driven by constituent anger -- anger that cannot possibly be based upon a sober and detailed consideration of whether those particular employees deserved those particular bonuses; in fact, the most likely culprit in ginning up such rage and fury is Congress itself, along with the president, who have been demonizing AIG and its employees for months now. It happened again in the debate on this very bill:
“The people have said ‘no,’ ” Representative Earl Pomeroy, Democrat of North Dakota, shouted on the House floor. “In fact, they said ‘hell no, and give us our money back.’ ”
“Have the recipients of these checks no shame at all?” Mr. Pomeroy continued. Summing up his personal view of the so-far anonymous A.I.G. executives, he said: “You are disgraced professional losers. And by the way, give us our money back.”
Great leaping horny toads. I had to wipe spittle-spray off my face after just reading it! "Disgraced professional losers?" Is Earl "Elmer Gantry" Pomeroy (D-ND, 85%) under the impression that these bonuses are going to the actual folks in the credit default swap area, who are the ones who brought AIG down? Or is Pomeroy just blindly striking out against anyone who makes more money than he?
And while we're on the subject, I think there is not a single Democrat in Congress to whom I could not say, “You are disgraced professional losers; and by the way, give us our money back.” And with a damn sight more justification, Earl.
Contrariwise, John Hinderaker -- my favorite blogger on my favorite blogsite, Power Line -- makes a compelling case that the bonuses were in fact perfectly proper:
- They were retention bonuses, not performance bonuses.
- They were paid, not to the employees responsible for the collapse, but to other employees who have worked hard for months after the collapse to rescue AIG... rather than jumping ship with their expert knowledge of AIG's exact portfolio problems, taking jobs with other companies that had better futures.
- As John writes, "[the employees] satisfied the terms of the bonus by wrapping up a portfolio for which they were responsible and/or staying on the job until now. As a result of the efforts of this group, AIG's financial products exposure is down from $2.7 trillion to $1.6 trillion.
- They stayed at AIG precisely because of those bonuses; but now the government, having eaten the fruit of that labor as an equity holder, wants those bonuses to go, not to the people who earned it, but to the government itself!
But note how carefully the Times dances around the question of who exactly is getting the bonuses, and what those people's roles were in the collapse:
The $165 million in bonuses has spawned rage in part because it was paid to executives in the very unit of A.I.G. that arguably turned a stable, prosperous insurance company into a dice-rolling financial firm in search of quick profits.
But there must have been hundreds of employees working in the financial products division! Does the Times think that every employee, from vice president down to secretary, was personally responsible for the foolish decisions that nearly killed AIG? Do liberals fantasize even that every executive in that division was responsible?
If new (post-collapse) AIG CEO Edward Liddy is telling the truth, and so far no current or former employee has come forth to contradict him, then the bonuses are going to people who were not responsible for the collapse, but are responsible for helping AIG deal with the collapse after the fact.
These are the people that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA, 100%) calls corrupt:
Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House Financial Services Committee and has been among A.I.G.’s fiercest critics, spoke contemptuously of the bonus recipients as people “who had to be bribed not to abandon the company” they had nearly ruined.
Wouldn't that same language, "bribed not to abandon the company," apply to every employee who ever demanded a raise?
It's another example of liberals' inability to deal with complexity; for all their protestations of having more subtle minds, they are really quite simplistic: The poor (and the rich who "represent" them) are always good; the productive core are always bad; and every moral question is the same shade of neutral gray.
John makes the same point as we anent this ridiculous 90% "tax," which is actually a deliberate attempt at confiscation, as the president made clear yesterday in Orange County. John writes:
The legislation introduced by the Democrats today to tax these bonuses (and possibly a few others, although it isn't clear that any others have been or will be paid that are covered by the statute) at a 90 percent rate is an outrage. It is, in my legal opinion, obviously unconstitutional. It is evidently intended to calm the current political firestorm and not to achieve any real objective.
John refers to the legislation as "introduced by the Democrats;" while that's technically true, it's only a half-truth: Democrats may have proposed it, but the House GOP split almost 50-50 on what Hinderaker (a lawyer) and I (a "sea-lawyer") see as an obvious bill of attainder.
In fact, the AP version of the Times article demonstrates Republican cowardice in the House: 87 Republicans voted against the "tax"; but 85 Republicans voted with the Democrats, blaming those retained employees for all of our woes... most switching at the last minute:
Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the bill was "a political circus" diverting attention from why the administration hadn't done more to block the bonuses before they were paid.
However, although a number of Republicans cast "no" votes against the measure at first, there was a heavy GOP migration to the "yes" side in the closing moments.
This is out and out pandering by the GOP... and it's vile. If we cannot even count on the House Republicans to stand up to liberal demagoguery, to stand up for Capitalism, then what is the point?
It's time for Minority Leader Boehner (R-OH, 100%) to fish or get off the pot: Does he lead a party that is distinct from the liberal Democratic majority, that is center-right, and that still believes in Capitalism, the rule of law, and conservative principles of governance? Has he learned the lessons of 2006 and 2008? Or does Boehner believe that the GOP's best shot at returning to power is to morph into a quieter, gentler version of the Democratic Party, pushing a slightly more restrained version of Obamunism?
I'd really like to know the answer to that conundrum before the next election.
March 4, 2009
Descent Into Dissent on Operation Rushbo
"Operation Rushbo" (I think the term belongs to Jonathan Martin at Politico) is the concerted campaign, begun by embedded Clintonistas and now run straight out of the White House, to paint Rush Limbaugh as "the head of the Republican Party,” as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs put it. It has two goals:
- To drive a wedge between conservative and moderate Republicans, as they choose up sides on Limbaugh;
- To make Limbaugh the face of the GOP, hoping this will turn off voters (who are supposed to hate the man, according to the Clintonista cabal).
It's the top story everywhere today, it seems. It was the subject of a lengthy article on Politico, articles on AP and other major news feeds, and it has been discussed throughout the blogosphere, including "dextrosphere" phenoms Power Line, Hot Air, Michelle Malkin, and Patterico's Pontifications. (And now on Big Lizards, though we're not as phenomenal as the luminaries above. And we're really not part of the dextrosphere.)
Everybody appears to accept the unexamined conclusion of James Carville, Paul Begala, and Rahm Emanuel that this helps Rush Limbaugh, helps the Democratic Party -- and hurts the GOP. From the Politico piece:
The bigger, the better, agreed [James] Carville. “It’s great for us, great for him, great for the press,” he said of Limbaugh. “The only people he’s not good for are the actual Republicans in Congress.”
But let's take a deep breath and rethink this. Who says Operation Rushbo is good for Democrats and bad for the GOP? I believe it's the other way around: The longer Democrats obsess on radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, the more they will cement their reputation as the unserious party; and the more opportunities will come for Republicans to make up for their shocking, early failure to take advantage of the Democratic miscue. Let me explain via three points.
1 Picking an argument with a guy who argues for a living
The president and all the president's men decided it was a great idea to attack a man with one of the world's biggest megaphones, a man with 20 million weekly listeners -- and who is one of the most articulate political debaters in America today... and who has been winning such political fights since before anybody ever even heard of Barack H. Obama (or Carville, Begala, and Emanuel, for that matter). Is this wise?
The more the Democrats focus on Limbaugh, the more exposure he gets; which means the more intelligent arguments against "Obamism" will be aired, the more people (including, increasingly, journalists) will demand that the president and Congress respond, and the more absurd it will seem as the incredibly shrinking president, Mr. "Spread the Wealth Around," debates a talk-show host -- and loses badly, just as he did against Wurzelbacher.
Any controversy that jerks Obama off the magic teleprompter into a real-time exchange is catastrophic for Obama, thus good for the GOP. This is why Limbaugh relishes this argument... and why he just challenged the president to a nationally televised debate (it'll never happen).
2 Asking "one question too many"
There is a famous but probably apocryphal story about Abraham Lincoln. During a trial where he was defending a man accused of biting off another man's ear in a bar room brawl, Lincoln got his chance to cross-examine the chief witness against his client.
"Did you actually see the defendant bite the ear off?" asked the young Mr. Lincoln.
"No sir, not directly."
"Did you see him bite the other feller at all?"
"Not as such, no."
"Did you even see the fight?"
Lincoln pauses, then dramatically demands, "Then how do you know he did bite off the man's ear?"
"Because I saw him spit it out afterwards," says the witness -- and Lincoln realized immediately that he had asked "one question too many."
Democrats seem most exercised about Limbaugh's statement that he hoped that Barack Obama would "fail" -- which Limbaugh said at a time when the lion's share of the country, even including many who had voted for John S. McCain, wanted Obama to succeed in ending the recession.
The implication was that Limbaugh wanted America to fail, so that Republicans would be elected; but that dog won't fly. That sort of bull in the manger thinking is much more the Democrats' line than ours... remember Rahm Emanuel's comment about "Never allow[ing] a crisis to go to waste?"
If liberals could have let well enough alone, it would certainly have damaged Rush Limbaugh's image, thus the image of Republicans in general. But they cannot help themselves; by blowing this up into a huge national controversy, demanding to know just what Limbaugh meant, they ask one question too many; they let Limbaugh have another crack at making his point.
And of course, it turns out he really does have a good one: All Rush or any elected Republican leader has to say is, "Obama's radical schemes will destroy the America we know and turn us into Sweden or France... and I certainly do hope Obama fails in his radical agenda, so that the great American experiment will win; and our country will return once more to being that shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan evoked so beautifully."
3 A challenge, not a crisis
One of the original intents of Operation Rushbo, according to Hot Air, was to instigate internecine warfare between conservative and moderate Republicans. To the extent that top GOP officials have been running around like chickens with their legs cut off, alternately attacking Limbaugh then groveling to him, it has succeeded. Certainly, RNC Chairman Michael Steele (whom I very much support -- for the moment) did not cover himself with glory by trashing Limbaugh on a cheesy television talk show.
That aspect certainly helps Democrats and hurts Republicans. But the problem is not the operation itself but the stupid Republican reaction to it. The challenge is simply to respond better. Operation Rushbo is a two-edged sword that can be used to slice and dice its creators with a solid response.
The GOP should begin by ignoring it (that is, if nobody brings it up, don't let us do it!) When frustrated journalists directly ask a Republican elected official, he should say, "Rush Limbaugh has a great radio talk show; he practically invented the whole industry. He articulates conservative ideas very well, and we love to hear from Rush and every other host or pundit or sage who has the best interests of the country at heart. But let's get real: The leaders of the Republican Party are the top elected officials plus the Chairman of the Republican National Conference."
And then the GOP responder should look the journalist right in the eye, smile, and ask, "What I think Americans really want to know is, why do Democrats always go after ordinary people, like Rush Limbaugh or Joe 'the Plumber' Wurzelbacher, whenever taxpayers start asking the president and his liberal allies in Congress some tough questions? And why are you guys in the elite media always so anxious to become human shields, throwing yourselves between President Obama and the army of ordinary Joes and Rushes, who don't like the frankly Socialist schemes coming out of the White House? Why are you guys carrying water for James Carville and Rahm Emanuel?"
That would, I think, flip the consequences around to hurt Democrats and help Republicans.
Rush on a nutshell
So if we're stupid and respond stupidly, then Operation Rushbo will be a success, and the Republican brand will be damaged. But if we're even halfway intelligent and respond accordingly (as half-wits, not lack-wits), it will be the Democrats who end up stammering like Robert Gibbs on a bad-tongue day -- and Republicans will gain significantly against the majority party.
A strategy that depends upon the enemy being utter fools is a foolish strategy. Once again, the Clintonista cabal has outsmarted itself; and it has also outsmarted Obama, Squeaker Pelosi, and Majority Leaner Reid in the process. But it's still up to Republican leaders -- I don't mean Rush Limbaugh -- to take advantage of the opening.
December 21, 2008
Found: Source of All Those New Democrats
We've all been wondering -- oh, all right... I've been wondering -- whence came all those gazillions of Democratic voters who propelled the over-the-top Barack H. Obama over the top. Well, it appears that a new survey by the Josephson Institute of Ethics may have found part of the answer:
Teenagers lie. They cheat and steal, too. And they are doing it more often and more easily than ever.
That is the conclusion of the latest “Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth”, released this week by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, a partnership of educational and youth organizations. The institute conducted a random survey of 29,760 high school students earlier this year (as they have every two years since 1992) and found that the next generation of leaders have a somewhat casual relationship with the truth.
Among the findings:
- 30% of teenagers (35% of boys, 26% of girls) claim to have stolen something from a store in the past year.
- 42% (49% M, 36% F) said "they sometimes lie to save money;" I'm envisioning 14 year olds crouching down in front of the Mann theaters ticket office, and in a squeaky voice, insisting they're only 12. But in addition, 83% told their parents a lie about "something significant;" again I'm guessing, but I'd say about smoking, drinking, toking, or, er, going a little too far with their boyfriends or girlfriends.
- 64% -- nearly two-thirds! -- cheated on a test; 36% let their mice do the writing, turning in papers they downloaded off the internet. (Perhaps these are the future Joe Biden voters?)
- And to make things worse (and even more confusing), a quarter of respondents confessed that they lied about "one or two" of the questions on this very survey! Of course, that begs the question: lied which way, to make themselves sound more honest and trustworthy, or more wicked cool?
What this survey, which shows a growing trend of falsity, cheating, and amorality, tells us is that we are not only raising yet another generation of kids without a functioning moral compass, but more threateningly, a generation of kids who haven't the slightest idea that there is a real world out there where lying, cheating, and stealing not only won't get you anywhere, it can destroy your life.
I wonder how this recklessness with the truth -- heck, recklessness even with the things they make up -- affects their romantic relationships, their friendships, their own self respect? How can a person honestly, deep down, respect himself if he knows he's a lying sack of offal?
Of course such truth-challenged, reality-denying kids would be much more likely to grow into Democrat-voting young adults; the Democratic Party is the party of fantasy, denial, and situational ethics. Naturally, not every Democrat is dishonest... but the contemporary Democratic Party rewards brazen dishonesty in a way that I don't believe any previous political party in the United States has done.
Heck, look who just got elected president... and how he did it.
I firmly believe this is the result of leftist government schools (followed, after a while, by secular private and even religious schools) ceasing to teach ethics, civics, or even basic right and wrong, for fear of trampling on some kid's "right" to choose his own "values." (For that matter, even the substitution of "values," a content-neutral term, for "virtues," which implies a fixed moral code, is a terrible symptom of the disease of nihilism.)
My worthy co-conspirator in a number of projects, Brad Linaweaver, has recently coined a neologism to describe another aspect of this; he refers to members of ELF, ALF, PETA, and other such eco-nut radical activist groups as "econihilists;" I believe he defines the term to mean self-identified ecologists who are so anti-human and pro-nature that they actually ache to see the entire human race destroyed, to make room for the more "moral" species -- spotted owls, blue whales, blue-green algae, Ebola viruses, and the like. I don't think they would put it exactly that way, but that's the gist of their practical philosophy, such as it is.
Both the econihilists and the teens in the Josephson Institute's survey seem to share a deep loathing of the human race... which I can only conclude comes from a deep inner loathing of themselves. Paradoxically, I believe this self-loathing stems from the self-inflicted soul-wound of lying, cheating, and stealing; it is both cause and effect.
By being afraid to tell kids that there is a real right and a real wrong -- that some moral codes are absolute, not subject to the whim of the actor -- we may be sowing the seeds of our species' own destruction.
Perhaps it's time to tell the leftists running the nation's schools to go take a long walk on a short shrift. In my political manifesto, I shall declare that it's time for the GOP, marginally better on absolute morality than the Democrats, to seize the schools back from the dark side... "for the sake of the children." It's one of several strategic goals that the Republicans must pursue with vigor, making the case without compromise, now that we're completely cut out of the legislative and executive power.
To paraphrase Janis Joplin, "Political freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."
November 25, 2008
Rangel Dangle: the Democratic Tsunami of Corruption
In an unusually blunt assessment, the New York Times as much as calls longtime, powerful Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel (NY) a crook:
Representative Charles B. Rangel has helped raise $11 million for a City College of New York school of public service to be named in his honor. In recent months, as questions have emerged about his fund-raising, he has insisted that he has kept his efforts to attract donors scrupulously separate from his official duties in Congress.
But Congressional records and interviews show that Mr. Rangel was instrumental in preserving a lucrative tax loophole that benefited an oil-drilling company last year, while at the same time its chief executive was pledging $1 million to the project, the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at C.C.N.Y.
On a nutshell, shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Nabors Industries opened offices in the Caribbean to take advantage of tax shelters to duck paying "tens of millions of dollars annually," projected to be more than a billion over a decade; Rangel bitterly denounced the company in 2002-4 for doing so, even sponsoring (failed) legislation to prevent it.
But then in 2007, the CEO of Nabors, Eugene M. Isenberg, pledged a million dollars to help build the "Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at C.C.N.Y."... and lo and behold, Charles B. Rangel abruptly saw the light; and now, as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Rangel vigorously defends those selfsame tax shelters.
Not to worry, though; both Rangel and Isenberg insist "There was no quid pro quo." In fact, Mr. Rangel goes so far as to say he had no idea about the megabuck donation to the Rangel School until a year after the fact.
Yet the Times also reports:
What is clear is that Mr. Rangel played a pivotal role in preserving the tax shelter for Nabors and the other companies in 2007. And while the issue was before his committee, Mr. Rangel met with Mr. Isenberg and a lobbyist for Nabors and discussed it, on the same morning that the congressman and Mr. Isenberg met to talk about the chief executive’s potential support for the Rangel center.
In other words, Rangel flatly lied when he "maintained that he did not even know about [Isenberg's $1 million pledge] until this summer, more than a year later."
The essence of this story is not that Nabors Industries made use of a tax shelter; in fact, I'm all for tax shelters -- so long as they're open to any company, not limited to particular congressional "favorite sons." So far as I know, Nabors did nothing wrong or illegal; indeed, in 2004, the Republican 108th Congress gave its nihil obstat to those very shelters, including Nabors'. I have no reason to believe there was anything wrong or fishy about that decision.
No, the core of this story is the convoluted set of interactions between liberal idealism, ideology, and demagoguery, where raw political pragmatism always seems to triumph; administrations may go and come, but the Left abides -- whether under Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama.
In 2006, the chattering classes were all agog about "the Republican culture of corruption;" the cry likely played a great role in the terrible loss by the GOP that year, when both the House and Senate tumbled from the right to the left hand.
As the Minority Leader of the House became Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%), she kept up a bombardment of furious denunciation of the "corrupt" GOP, lumping together everything from votes that favored business in general to successful fundraising to Mark Foley's clumsy passes at former congressional aides (who were adults).
Indeed, poll after poll showed that the attacks worked, with a majority of Americans believing the GOP was uniquely corrupt, or at least far more corrupt than their counterparts on the left. After winning the congressional elections of 2006, Pelosi was still on that hobby horse:
"The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C., and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi said.
Yet without the slightest sense of irony, she proved adamant in her refusal to lift a finger to rein in the most obvious, if not biggest, example of rampant corruption and abuse: earmarks. She also made no serious effort to purge the Democratic caucus of even the most egregious examples of "cold cash for legislation" (remember Rep. William "Freezer Bill" Jefferson, still a Member of Congress from Louisiana, despite being indicted last year for corruption?)
And the Democratic response to the continuing soap opera of Charles Rangel's ethics problems? He was just unanimously reelect him as chairman of Ways and Means last Thursday. So much for "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history"... and the elite media's only reaction was a collective yawn.
They have no excuse; this story was published on the New York Times website yesterday and is on the front page of the print edition today; it is now part of "all the news we see fit to print," and it should be part of our national political dialog. So as a famous failed presidential candidate said more than a decade ago, "where's the outrage?"
Is the Washington Post going to pick up the story? They certainly haven't yet. Neither has any other major news outlet (unless one counts UPI as "major"). Nothing on the networks, not a word on CNN, MSNBC is silent; even Fox News seems to have missed the story -- which is not surprising, alas. We'll keep an eye on them to see if their consciences belatedly bait them into acknowledging this latest nigh-Jeffersonian (William, not Thomas) level of corruption by Mr. Rangel, but I doubt they will.
One would think that the elites would be a bit less reticent, given the powerful cover offered by the king of elite liberalism, the Times, which back on September 14th went so far as to call for Rangel to resign his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Evidently, however, "corruption" is defined as something that the Right does to the Left... just as liberals consistently define "racism" as something that whites do to blacks. By definition, it's not bribery if a Democrat -- especially a black Democrat -- accepts money in exchange for reversing his policy... but it's the rankest form of corruption if a Republican pursues policies, like tax cuts or the war in Iraq, that are supported by the folks who support him. (Republicans must continually prove their honesty by only supporting policies antithetical to everything their core constituencies want... which too many of them are all too eager to do.)
And equally evident is that the drive-by media are very comfortable letting the Democrats walk off with the cash register under one arm. No surprise there, either.
November 24, 2008
Go West, Young Man
I don't believe anybody has yet noted that President-Erect Barack H. Obama, by choosing (as it now seems clear) Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as his Secretary of Homeland Security (!) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as his Secretary of Commerce, has opened the door a crack for Republicans in those states.
Both governors are very popular... and both states are up for grabs. It's not like selecting Joe Biden as running mate; there was never any danger that Biden's Senate seat would end up being filled by a Republican. But both Arizona and New Mexico are battleground states, up for grabs in the 2012 presidential election.
Arizona voted for John S. McCain in the election, of course; but that's hardly surprising, with a favorite son running. However, it was a disturbingly close: 52.5% for McCain to 45.1% for Obama, a margin of 7.4%. New Mexico was a bigger win for the Democrats than Arizona was for the Republicans: Obama took it by 56.9% to McCain's 41.8%, a 15.1% Democratic victory. I believe in both states, a popular Democratic governor wooed a significant portion of the voters to the left (and of course, in both states, a very large percentage of the voters are Hispanic, and Hispanics lined up behind Obama this year).
In the previous election, New Mexico went to the GOP by the slim and unconvincing margin of 49.9% for George W. Bush to 49.0% for John Kerry, a difference of less than one percent; while Arizona went to the GOP by double digits, 54.9% Bush to 44.4% Kerry (Bush +10.5) -- considerably more robust than it went for Arizonan John McCain this election. Had McCain been from somewhere else, I suspect Arizona would have teetered on the knife-edge and might well have fallen to the Democrat.
Clearly, Obama thought that selecting the two governors for his cabinet would advantage the Democrats: Both Richardson and Napolitano are term-limited out in 2010; they would have to leave anyway. But their successors will get to run for reelection in 2010 as incumbents, instead of duking it out for an open seat.
In New Mexico, the successor to Bill Richardson is a Democrat, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish; but in Arizona, the successor to Janet Napolitano is Secretary of State Jan Brewer -- a Republican (Arizona has no lieutenant governor, so the secretary of state succeeds the governor upon the latter's resignation). Thus, Napolitano's selection immediately puts a Republican in the Arizona statehouse and sets her up as an incumbent to win in 2010.
But what about Denish in New Mexico? It's clear that she is given a boost by getting to run as the incumbent; but even so, I cannot see her as anywhere near as strong a candidate as Richardson was in his two elections. Though Obama has done what he could to help out in that race, the GOP has more of a chance there than they did in either 2002 or 2006.
It may seem a small thing, having a chance to convert two Democratic governorships to Republican hands. But it's of such "little things" that big results can flow. If Brewer can hold Arizona, and if a Republican can defeat Diane Denish in New Mexico, then it's somewhat more likely that in the presidential election of 2012, the GOP can once again hold Arizona's ten electoral votes (which had seemed dangerously close to flipping) and might even return New Mexico's five back into red territory.
Without the "rage against the red" that characterized 2006 and 2008, its unlikely that former red states such as Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Nevada will remain blue; while even states that have been drifting a bit leftwards (such as Virginia and Colorado) will be more winnable by the Republican nominee... particularly if the nominee is someone exciting, like Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal, running against a Barack Obama who has lost his aura of newness, change, and hope in the crush of day to day governing.
Add in a possible New Mexico, and we have the nucleus of victory in 2012. Every little bit helps.
October 20, 2008
Palin Doped Iditarod Sled Dogs, and Other Possible October Surprises
Commenter Baggi suggests that the Colin Powell endorsement wouldn't be Barack H. Obama's big "October surprise" against John S. McCain, because it comes too early in the month. The true October surprise ideally materializes the last week before the election -- as when George W. Bush's DUI arrest was released a week before the 2000 election, or when Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh announced the indictment of former Bush-41 Secretary of Defense Cap Weinberger four days before the 1992 election.
(And why is it that it's always Democrats who launch such surprises against Republicans, never the other way round? Of course, the essence of an October surprise is to catch the other guy falling short of his principles; so how can Democrats fall short of what they haven't got in the first place?)
Thus, Obama may still put one more shoe on the other hand. Here are some lizardian suggestions of what that bootless shoe might comprise:
- During the several years when Sen. McCain resided abroad in Vietnam, he and his dorm-mates pooled all their resources and shared them equally. Can you say "spread the wealth around" -- Comrade McCain?
- In 1946, in a 6th grade English assignment -- long after World War II had ended -- John McCain used a hurtful racist slur against our then-allies. He wrote, "When I grow up I want to be a solder because I will get to drive a tank and a jap and a airplan and kill Natzes." Apparently, McCain's violent, racist fantasies began a long time before his current campaign.
- In stunning news, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin turns out not to be eligible for that high office because she is not a "natural born citizen;" although her parents were both American citizens, she herself was born in Alaska, way up north past Canada -- not in the continental United States of America at all. Can we trust a foreigner in the highest office of the land?
- Two years ago, John McCain proposed a risky scheme to give illegal aliens a "path to citizenship." But recent research has revealed one element of that plan that McCain never disclosed to the American people: Once those illegal immigrants were U.S. citizens, under the McCain plan, they would be eligible for drivers licenses. Illegal immigrants and drivers licenses -- now which pot is calling the kettle African American?
- An independent congressional watchdog whistleblowing reform taxpayer's association has stumbled upon shocking evidence that "Senator Clean," John McCain, has allowed taxpayer money to be diverted into his own pocket for half a century. This diversion of funds went unchecked even after he was elected to the Senate. Do we need four more long years of the Republican culture of corruption?
- By now, most of us have suffered through the embarassing video of Alaskan hussy Sarah Palin, wearing little more than lipstick, parading around on stage in front of hundreds of people. But a few years before that, she went much, much farther: We have obtained photographs she allowed to have taken where she is completely nude and giggling with glee, lolling on a rug made from the skin of a bear, which her father may well have personally slaughtered. Can America afford such a wanton roundheel just a heartbeat away from the presidency?
- John McCain demands "honesty" in government economic policy. But independent researchers have discovered that he has funneled large sums of money to so-called "charities" and concealed those payments by not reporting them on his tax returns. Thousands to questionable special interests with no disclosure whatsoever. Falsifying tax forms is a federal felony. Would you cast your precious vote for a felon?
- In 1967, the USS Forrestal suffered one of the most devastating fires ever on an American naval vessel. Many know that John McCain was a young officer on that aircraft carrier; but they may not be aware that a Navy investigation subsequently found a direct connection between McCain's actions and that horrific fire, as he voluntarily taxied his A-4 to the exact spot that a supposedly "errant" missile was going to strike. When his plane was hit, rather than stay and fight the fire, McCain ran from his plane, saving himself and allowing 134 brave sailors to die while he lived. America deserves better than a man with such depraved indifference to human life.
- Many of those closest to hunter-killer Sarah Palin have noticed a frightening instability in the would-be vice president's emotional health. This instability manifests nearly every month; its symptoms include the inability to fully control her emotions, sudden anger with little provocation, distracted attention, inexplicable pain, and sudden bleeding from unknown lacerations, possibly self inflicted. Doctors have expressed grave concerns whether Mrs. Palin is medically fit to serve, given her condition. We feel sorry for anyone with such an infirmity -- but America needs a president who is healthy, emotionally stable, and mentally balanced.
Democrats are never more creative than when they're concocting bizarre charges of sex, corruption, or psychiatric disorders to lodge against Republicans... so that they never have to defend their actual policies, which the country by and large despises. I'm sure this post barely scratches the surface of what we'll see in the next fortnight.
August 19, 2008
One Day in the Life of Barack Barackovitch
After the Saddleback fiasco for Barack H. Obama, the first meme floated by Obama surrogates (in particular by Andrea Mitchell) was that the only way John S. McCain could have sounded so prepared, so confident, and so well informed was that -- he must have cheated.
He was outside the "cone of silence;" he heard the questions beforehand; he had an unfair advantage because Obama had to go first. But that has been pretty definitively debunked; guest blogger DRJ, for one, at Patterico's Pontifications has a timeline that pretty much rules out that possibility.
So now the desperate Democrats have floated a new meme: McCain's "cross in the dirt" story is "hauntingly like" a story told by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. McCain stole it! It never happened! Sure, John McCain may have done better answering the questions... but all that is negated because he's a serial plagiarist. After all -- didn't he also steal Jackson Brown's "Running on Empty," and didn't he insert a few words from a Wikipedia entry into some speech?
(Of course, if Barack Obama selects Joe Biden as his running mate, the accusation of plagiarism might be quietly dropped.)
Well. Let's take a look at this charge...
In the first place, when did this Solzhenitsyn story appear? It dates from a 1997 article, but it is not even a direct quotation from Solzhenitsyn; instead, it's a retelling by Fr. Luke Veronis, "an American priest serving in Albania," of a moment when Solzhenitsyn had hit a nadir during his long incarceration and had given up all hope:
Laying his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude work-site bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to many other prisoners.
As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly, he lifted his eyes and saw a skinny, old prisoner squat down next to him. The man said nothing. Instead, he drew a stick through the ground at Solzhenitsyn’s feet, tracing the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.
As Solzhenitsyn stared at the sign of the Cross, his entire perspective changed. He knew that he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet in that moment, he knew that there was something greater than the evil that he saw in the prison, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that the hope of all mankind was represented in that simple Cross. And through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.
Note the most significant difference: In the Solzhenitsyn story, it's not a guard but rather another prisoner who makes the sign of the cross. If McCain stole the story, why would he change the actor from prisoner to guard? After all, if he's trying to show the fortitude they all displayed, it makes more sense if the prisoners themselves keep each other alive and hopeful, as in his other story about his fellow prisoner who sewed a small American flag out of scraps of cloth.
Second, much is made (e.g., by Andrew Sullivan) that in McCain's first full account of his captivity, written in 1973, he doesn't mention this story. But of course, one could equally well note that in Solzhenitsyn's first full accounting of his story, the Gulag Archipelago, also first published in 1973 (in French; the first English version dates from 1974, I believe), he evidently neglects to tell his own "cross in the dirt" story as well. Lot of that going around.
The story does not come from the Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn's seminal work about his many years in the Soviet political prison system. If someone can find this story there, please let me know, and I will correct this post. I don't think the book is available online in a searchable format (it's probably still in copyright), and I have no intention of thumbing through each page of both volumes of the book to find a single short anecdote. But nobody so far has claimed that the account appears in that work... just in the Veronis article.
Various liberal commentators insist that McCain first told his own story in 1999, two years after the Veronis article. But what they mean is that 1999 was when he first used it publicly as part of a campaign stump speech. But we have a very different claim by one of McCain's fellow POWs, Orson Swindle, held in the Hanoi Hilton at the same time, sometimes in the same cell with McCain:
"I recall John telling that story when we first got together in 1971, when were talking about every conceivable thing that had ever happened to us when we were in prison" Swindle told me a few minutes ago. "Most of us had been kept apart or in small groups. Then, in 1970, they moved us into the big cell. And when we all got to see each other and talk to each other directly, instead of tapping through walls, we had 24 hours a day, seven days a week to talk to each other, and we shared stories. I vaguely recall that story being told, among other stories." [1971 would be 26 years before the Fr. Veronis story first appeared, and even three years before the Gulag Archipelago itself was published in English, just in case the new claim is that the story appears there. I find it unlikely that McCain would have obtained a review copy while in the Hanoi Hilton.]
"I remember it from prison," Swindle continued. "There were several stories similar to that in which guards -- a very few, I might add -- showed compassion to the prisoners. It was rare, and I never met one, but some of the guys did."
So now, for the Democrats to maintain this meme -- vital to proving that Obama really won the Saddleback non-debate, no matter what ignorant, uninformed voters may have thought -- they must pursue one of the following options:
- Orson Swindle, who is campaigning for McCain, is a big, fat liar. McCain never told him any such story. Swindle, like his name, is just lying to save McCain from the consequences of the senator's own serial prevarications, lies, slanders, and vicious Swift-Boating of the One, "the leader that God has blessed us with at this time," as Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%) said last Sunday.
- Swindle is simply addled and confused, probably dating to the days of his nightmarish confinement. He's just like Ronald Reagan, whom we now know began suffering the symptoms of his unusually slow-progressing Alzheimer's disease around 1947, when he became president of the Screen Actors Guild and developed an incomprehensible loathing of Communists. Swindle is senile and befuddled and, well, he's just a bundle of nerves. He can't help it... he probably really does hallucinate that McCain told him that story in 1971. But of course, we know that's impossible -- because Solzhenitsyn himself didn't recount the original until 1997. [The wheels on the bus go round and round...]
- All right, so maybe Swindle is right and McCain really did tell it to him and other prisoners in 1971. But all that proves is that McCain was a serial fabricator even back then. Look at all the other lies that he has told through the years: That the surge is a success, that an embryo is a person from the moment of conception, that we should lower taxes... the man is obviously a pathological liar, and you don't become one of those overnight. Therefore, the evidence is overwhelming that McCain was simply lying about that, air quotes, "cross in the dirt" story as long as 37 years ago. How can even Republicans possibly elect such a corrupt, Bible-thumping Nazi to the presidency?
So, Democrats, what's it to be then, eh? Which explanation do you pick to keep the Meme Team alive?
July 8, 2008
None So Benign Apprentices
Paul Mirengoff over at my favorite blog has published a thought-provoking post that I urge you to read. He labors a bit for the punchline, creating occasion to refer to both Bill Clinton and Barack H. Obama as sorcerers' apprentices; but the label is worth the labor, and he defends it well:
This ability to transform things so fundamentally (like into unlike; unlike into like) resembles magic, and to a certain kind of personality, it can be intoxicating. Among these types, one imagines, is the future politician. The risk of such intoxication is heightened by the fact that the post-modernism I described above has seeped into legal education, which means that too many law professors behave less like the restrained “sorcerer” and more like the sorcerer’s apprentice. Clinton and Obama both were law professors when they were young.
The only nit I intend to pick is that the contemporary image of the sorcerer's apprentice is forever tainted by the wonderful Walt Disney film Fantasia, where the S.A. is "played" by Mickey Mouse. Since Mr. Mouse is always sympathetic, a certain benign tolerance bleeds into what should be the portrait of an arrogant apprentice monkeying with spells he is not fit to cast, thus endangering himself, his master, and indeed the entire village. In Fantasia, to the charming tune of Paul Dukas, the criminally negligent apprentice becomes a cuddly scapegrace, a lovable rascal.
I don't see either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama as mere scallywag; each is darker, more cold-bloodedly narcissistic, more beholden to the evil of his master. Here is where I think Paul took his wrong turn:
The second factor is the boundless (and largely justified) self-confidence Clinton and Obama possess. Both are entirely self-made. Both came from the periphery of society and, seemingly without much effort, grabbed its most glittering prizes. For both, glibness was a key to the success itself and to the appearance of its ease. No wonder both believe they can magically talk their way out of contradictions.
In fact, neither is "self-made," in the sense of a person who succeeds by his own initiative and intellect. Each pol, Clinton and Obama, hooked up, early in his career, with a mentor, guru, kingmaker who propelled him to the upper echelon of political society before he was seasoned. Clinton was the protege of Sen. William Fulbright; Obama became the eager acolyte of the vile Jeremiah Wright. Interestingly, both mentors were well-known racists and demagogues even at the time their proteges sought the relationship, seemingly without qualm in both cases.
The evil of these gurus precludes thinking of either follower as good old Mickey. To stick with Paul's metaphor of the sorcerer's apprentice, Bill Clinton -- until he seized his own power -- played Grima Wormtongue to Fulbright's Saruman; while Barack Obama spent twenty years as the Mouth of Sauron.
That may not be entirely fair, but it strikes nearer the mark than Democrats would ever admit.
June 25, 2008
Blackballing Charlie Black
Both wings of the Democratic Party (the political wing and the elite media) have piled onto poor, old Charlie Black, a senior advisor to John S. McCain, for a comment of his. Yet nobody has the faintest idea how the exchange actually ensued, or whether Black was an idiot or was set up (after the fact).
Even so, and not surprisingly, a passel of crowing, self-righteous Republicans has loudly joined the scrum, eager to do as much damage to their own candidate as possible... a sadly typical manifestation of the Republican tendency towards self-immolation that we've seen in every election from 1988 onward. It seems we must always fight on two political fronts: against the Democratic nominee and against all Republicans who supported a different candidate to be the GOP nominee.
For the record, here is the entire "terrorist attack" exchange from Fortune Magazine that has caused all the ruckus. McCain is asked what will be America's biggest economic challenge during the next president's administration, and he answers, "Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we're in against radical Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences."
Not a bad answer; the attack on September 11th, 2001, was apocalyptic not only due to the loss of more than 3,000 innocent lives (counting those who died in the moment and those who died later), but even more via the crushing blow to the American economy it precipitated, which affected everyone, rich and poor alike. McCain answered Fortune's question exactly, despite the rather adolescent response of Editor at Large David Whitford:
Not America's dependence on foreign oil? Not climate change? Not the crushing cost of health care? Eventually McCain gets around to mentioning all three of those. But he starts by deftly turning the economy into a national security issue - and why not? On national security McCain wins. We saw how that might play out early in the campaign, when one good scare, one timely reminder of the chaos lurking in the world, probably saved McCain in New Hampshire, a state he had to win to save his candidacy - this according to McCain's chief strategist, Charlie Black. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.
Following which, the article simply moves on, making no further reference to Black's response; evidently, the supposely staggering nature of this allegedly shocking admission entirely escaped the notice of Mr. Whitford at the time.
As Fortune admits, it was they, not Black, who "raised the issue" of who would benefit from a terrorist attack on the American heartland. Black merely responded to the question.
And to what question, exactly, was Black responding? Fortune doesn't tell us, and there is evidently no transcript or video available. Perhaps it was super explicit: Mr. Black... if there were another 9/11, would that benefit Barack Obama or John McCain most? Yet on the basis of that single, flimsy piece of evidence, Republicans are willing (eager) to ascribe the basest and vilest motives to Black.
One prominent conservative blogger (much prominenter than we) goes so far as to sarcastically ask whether Black thinks that it would be even more advantageous if a terrorist attack slew Obama himself and all other Democratic candidates in some blue state... a smear I consider low enough to have been published by a Markos Moulitsas or a Juan Cole.
But what is so outré about his answer? If Whitford asked Obama's campaign mangler whether a sudden downturn in the economy would be good for his client, and if he answered honestly that it probably would, would anyone -- even Republicans -- be up in arms? Or would they simply agree?
For some reason, when a disaster or catastrophe occurs, Republicans (but not Democrats) grow suddenly reticent about noticing that it might have a political impact among all the other real-world effects it causes. Desite our evident foot-scuffing, red-faced embarassment at noticing such trivia in the midst of crisis, politics is an integral part of our lives... and the shifting sands of electoral fortune usually determine whether we respond to adversity with courage and vigor -- or whether we turn tail and run from the fight.
Take Hurricane Katrina. Even before it made landfall (at a greatly reduced category 3), Democrats were already on the air slamming Bush for his "non-response" (which was actually one of the fastest and most effective disaster responses in history, as we noted more than two years ago). Yet rather than fight back against the Democratic smear machine, Republicans lined up by the score to castigate, ream, and verbally defenstrate the president for his "pathetic," "incompetent" preformance. They cheered Democrats on as the latter singled out FEMA director Michael "Brownie" Brown and called him a clownish dullard who allowed hundreds of helpless old people to drown -- by not waving his hands and magically diverting the storm elsewhere.
Republicans have a terrible penchant for joining any hysterical lynch-mob attack on fellow Republicans: Perhaps to prove they're not really the heartless, unfeeling fiends that liberals portray them to be; more often to advance their sectarian civil war with other GOP blocs. But rather than engender respect from the Left for their principled nuance and unbiased fair-mindedness, they call only even more energetic contumely upon their heads.
We have a bad habit of playing dhimmi to the Democrats... and it's so ingrained that many conservatives cannot help themselves, even when they know the scam being run. They eat their own as inevitably as a dead frog leg twitches when you zap it with a few volts of electricity.
As here. There is nothing indefensible about what Black said; he spoke the truth: Another terrorist attack would focus voters' minds on national security, just as another Senate scandal would focus voters' minds on congressional corruption. Either might turn the election.
So let's cut the dramatics and stop pretending that politics doesn't matter, or that it should be "above the fray" of real-world battles and other incidents. Had the counterinsurgency gone ill, doed anyone think Democrats would have hesitated for a nanosecond to use that failure -- which could have led to the deaths of far more than 3,000 Americans -- to ride their way into la Casablanca?
Instead of trying to suck up to the Left by cannibalizing our own troops, why don't we point out the hypocrisy of a party whose motto is "the personal is political," and which has in very recent memory politicized the war, 9/11, various natural disasters, and the funeral of Sen. Paul Wellstone, whining that Charlie black is trying to "politicize" a presidential election.
Of course a terrorist attack would affect the vote. So would an assassination, the capture of bin Laden, an Iranian demonstration of a nuclear bomb, or an economic collapse (which the Democrats are assiduously trying to bring about, in contrast to Republicans, who are doing their best to prevent another 9/11). How could such earth-shattering events fail to influence the vote?
Instead, let's defend the importance of politics and the election. Let us note that Democrats seem more than eager to return to the halcyon days of Jimmy "Malaise" Carter and Walter "We Must Not Arm the Heavens" Mondale. And let's stick up for Charlie Black telling it as it is... something Democrats couldn't do if their reelection depended upon it.
And for God's sake, stop playing errand boy to Barack Obama. Let him pedal his own smears.
February 22, 2008
Either Way, Somebody's Going to Sulk
Something amusing has just occurred to me. I'm going to inflict it upon you.
First, we all know the normal "Democratic freakout" scenario that everyone has been talking about for thirty or forty years:
Scenario 1: Hillary continues to lag behind Obama throughout the primary season; but because of the proportional awarding of delegates, she ends up only about 200-300 delegates behind him. Then, in a political back-room deal that is almost Clintonian in its deviousness, she manages to force the convention to seat the Michigan and Florida slates of delegates... and she bribes enough stupordelegates to switch that she just squeaks ahead of Barack Obama by five or six votes.
Hillary becomes the nominee -- by the most sculduggerous means since John Quincy Adams stole the presidency from Andrew Jackson in 1824.
Blah, blah, blah. Under this scenario, we can all guess what would happen: Hillary would offer the downticket slot to Obama, who would refuse (not wanting to tie himself to her losing campaign -- and being unwilling to play second violin to her screechy lead for four years in the unlikely event that she won). Thereafter, the huge majority of blacks would be enraged at the Clintons: For the first time ever, a black man would have been within arm's reach of the Democratic nomination... and then that white [rhymes with snow] comes along and snatches it away from him!
A record number of black voters might sit out the election in a snit, leading to the loss not only of the entire South (which is going red anyway), but also such Democratic states as Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania... each of which has a fairly high percentage of black voters.
But there is another scenario, even more likely, which could be just as delicious -- from a GOP point of view...
Scenario 2: Hillary continues to lag behind Obama throughout the primary season; but because of the proportional awarding of delegates, she ends up only about 200-300 delegates behind him. She tries to pull off a political back-room deal that is almost Clintonian in its deviousness: She manages to force the convention to seat the Michigan and Florida slates of delegates... but then she falls just short of enough superdelegates to squeak past Barack Obama.
Barack Obama becomes the Democratic presidential nominee... but Hillary supporters are screaming foul and accusing Obama of outcheating them.
So what happens under this scenario? How about this: Hispanics historically are suspicious of, and often have a great bias against, blacks; it comes from the social and cultural differences (religion, work habits, geographical orientation -- Southwest vs. deep South and New York); from the naked scorn that many blacks have for "Mexicans;" from the way that the much smaller minority of blacks has managed to seize total control of the entire civil-rights establishment and keeps Hispanics away from the levers of power; and indeed, just because of competition for government dollars.
In particular, Hispanics have pretty much backed Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama. So when she fails to steal the nomination (as she has promised them), Democratic Hispanic voters blame Obama -- and they sit out the election in a snit. Worse, because John McCain is best known for his attempt to regularize illegal aliens (the vast majority of whom are Hispanic), many of these disaffected former Democratic voters vote instead for McCain... and McCain ends up getting a greater share of the Hispanic vote than even George W. Bush did in 2000 (35%) or 2004 (44%).
Maybe McCain gets 50% or 55%... and suddenly states like Washington, Rhode Island, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticutt, and even California come into play.
Double-plus go team!
There is only one plausible scenario that would not bring either of these two gifts to the GOP:
While (3) is plausible, I don't think it likely; the very structure of the delegate-awarding process argues against it. Thus, we will either have a wonderful opportunity to increase the Republican share of the Hispanic voting population... or else a great chance of reducing the Democratic share of black votes. Either way, we could win big. And either way, somebody's going to sulk and demand a nationwide recount.
February 15, 2008
She's a Self-Made Fool
Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) said, just a few days ago, that despite the now impossible to deny military success of the "surge" (how I hate that misleading word, whether Democrat or Republican uses it), the entire Iraq war is lost because the Iraqi government hasn't made any political progress.
Then Wednesday, as if on cue, the Iraqi parliament enacted legislation for provincial elections... resolving one of the three central political -- er -- quagmires standing in the way of building a relatively free and relatively democratic Iraqi nation. (The other two are anti-de-Baathification, which was passed some weeks ago; and oil revenue sharing, which is very close to being fully resolved.)
It appears the Iraqi parliament has accomplished more of its own agenda than has Nancy Pelosi since she and her cronies took over Congress thirteen months ago.
The capper came last night, when the Speaker refused even to call a vote on semi-permanizing the FISA reforms that passed by more than two-thirds in the Senate and had a solid majority already declared for passage in the House. It was simply more important to Nan to:
- Slime the Bush administration by passing -- on a narrow, party-line vote -- "contempt of Congress" charges against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Chief Counsel Harriet Miers... for not confessing that political appointees were appointed for partially political reasons;
- Pay off their biggest special-interest donors, the trial lawyers, who want to get rich feeding off the carcass of the telecom industry, which had the misfortune to agree to help the government track down terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, no good deed goes unpunished -- by Democrat-supporting trial lawyers. (By the way... once the lawyers sue Big Telephone out of existence, who will offer the conference-call service litigators live for?)
Looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%) may have to share his booby prize with his sister across the Rotunda.
November 30, 2007
Bored Now; Turn the Page
The gasps of shock and screams of outrage must have been audible from the pot parlors of Berkeley, to the brahmin bashes on Beacon Hill, to the tea and cucumber sandwich fundraisers in Chappaqua: John Murtha has "gone native!"
And indeed, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA, 65%) -- the poster boy for "immediately" ending the war and redeploying all of our troops to next-door Okinawa, whence they could respond to any sudden terror threat in a scant four or five weeks -- went to Iraq, came back, and made some remarks yesterday about the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy that can only be described as a laudatory about-face:
The Pennsylvania Democrat gave qualified but likely his most glowing remarks Thursday about the Iraq war.
"I think the surge is working, but that's only one element," said Murtha, who chairs the defense appropriations subcommittee. "And the surge is working for a couple of different reasons. And one reason is the increase in troops."
Murtha hastened to assure everyone yesterday he was still for yanking the troops out instanter, and he quickly moved today to claim that the drop in violence in Iraq was another black eye for the Bush administration; still, however, he now finds himself in the growing club of anti-war Democrats who have been forced by circumstance -- or would that be "mugged by reality?" -- into admitting the surge of success by the COIN strategy led by Gen. David Petraeus (Commander Multinational Force - Iraq) and presided over by President George W. Bush.
This singular admission by more and more Democrats may well be responsible for the second leg of our political journey: Now that we are clearly winning, Democrats are simply losing interest in Iraq. They've abruptly grown bored with the Iraq war as an election issue. Now they want to talk about socialist economics, the evils of Bush, and -- ominously enough, from the Democratic perspective -- they want to talk a lot more about illegal immigration:
Congressional Democrats are reporting a striking change in districts across the country: Voters are shifting their attention away from the Iraq war.
Rep. Jim Cooper, a moderate Democrat from Tennessee, said not a single constituent has asked about the war during his nearly two-week long Thanksgiving recess. Rep. Michael E. Capuano, an anti-war Democrat from Massachusetts, said only three of 64 callers on a town hall teleconference asked about Iraq, a reflection that the war may be losing power as a hot-button issue in his strongly Democratic district.
First-term Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) -- echoing a view shared by many of her colleagues -- said illegal immigration and economic unease have trumped the Iraq war as the top-ranking concerns of her constituents.
In an interview with Politico, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) attributed the change to a recent reduction of violence and media coverage of the conflict, saying there is scant evidence that more fundamental problems with the Bush administration’s policy are improving. Even so, he agreed voters are certainly talking less about the war. “People are not as engaged daily with the reality of Iraq,” Hoyer said.
The change in mood perceived by Democratic lawmakers comes as one of Congress’ most vocal war critics, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), returned from a trip to Iraq and told reporters Thursday that “the surge is working” to improve security, even though the central government in Baghdad remains “dysfunctional.”
So we're back to Murtha. But he didn't just stop after saying "the surge" was working; he went on to find so many different ways to contradict himself, it beggars the imagination. From the Fox News story:
Murtha, speaking to reporters Thursday in his hometown of Johnstown, Pa., mixed in renewed criticism of the Bush administration's management of the Iraq war, saying it was waged with too few troops, and that it is too costly.
"We can no longer afford to spend $14 billion a month on this war and let our readiness slip," Murtha said.
But, "If you put more forces in, things will work out," he said. [Wouldn't that cost more?]
"But the thing is, the Iraqis have to do this themselves," he added. "We can't win it for them in Afghanistan or Iraq, and provinces they've (Iraqi forces) taken over, we've done better. We can't win."
Has the honorable congressman ever considered medication?
So what is actually causing the sudden deflation of Iraq as an election issue, particularly among Democrats? I think it's pretty clear: Not just Democratic office holders but Americans in general are beginning to accept the reality that we're now winning the Iraq war:
For the first time in a long time, nearly half of Americans express positive opinions about the situation in Iraq. A growing number says the U.S. war effort is going well, while greater percentages also believe the United States is making progress in reducing the number of Iraqi casualties, defeating the insurgents and preventing a civil war in Iraq.
Roughly half of the public (48%) believes the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going very or fairly well. Judgments about the overall situation in Iraq have been improving steadily since the summer. As recently as June, only about a third of Americans (34%) said things were going well in Iraq.
To be specific, currently:
- 74% of Republicans think we're doing well, up from a low of 51% in February.
- Democrats who think we're doing well have more than doubled since then, up from 16% to 33% today.
- Indies have gone from 26% in February to 41% now.
- Finally, back in January, 42% of respondents said that Iraq was the worst problem facing America today, making it number one; it's still number one... but now, only 32% say it's the worst problem.
And there's your genesis for the loss of interest in the war as a political issue in the upcoming election.
Democrats are still frantically trying to spin away the rising tide of belief that we're winning; they note that the same Pew poll that shows a rise in those who think we're winning has not yet shown any drop in the number of Americans who want the troops to come home. But there is no reason to expect different aspects of public opinion to move in lockstep; even within public-opinion polling, itself a lagging indicator, we have less-lagging and more-lagging elements.
Logically, public opinion on how we're doing must change first; then opinion on what we should do next will change in response somewhat later. Finally, I believe the last thing to change, the "most lagging" of the lagging indicators, would be the public decision on whether the war was worth it.
But I cannot think of a single instance in which a public perception of American victory was not followed by increased willingness to stay and fight -- and also by a retroactive decision that yes, the fight was indeed worth it all: Time mutes all pain.
(Vietnam is not a counterexample, because despite our resounding victory there under Gen. Creighton Abrams, the American public was tricked by leftists such as Walter Cronkite into believing we were losing, when in fact we were winning. There never was a public perception of American victory and still is not today -- though that is finally starting to change, with the advent of talk radio, which drives publishers to publish serious conservative tomes; and by the arrival of "new media," which allows Americans to discuss the new information coming out about Vietnam.)
If the election becomes focused on economics, that is a much easier argument for Republicans to win; they can contrast their own budgetary proposals to the wild taxing and spending that Democrats have already promised. If it becomes focused on illegal immigration, then I don't know if anybody has an advantage -- if anything, slight advantage to Democrats; but that's a far cry from the huge advantage on the Iraq war that Democrats enjoyed in the 2006 election. And of course, there will be a lot less focus on the "Republican culture of corruption," with the Democrats' predictable failure to do anything substantive about the very abuses they screamed about last year... notably earmarks. (And no Mark Foley problem!)
So we're moving in the right direction. I fully expect that by the time the election rolls around, the number of Americans demanding we pull out will have fallen drastically (it's about 50% right now)... and those saying the Iraq invasion was worth it will be well over the 50% line.
At that moment, the Democrats may bitterly regret their long and frantic campaign to cram defeat in Iraq down America's throat. Running against America has rarely been a winning electoral strategy; I believe the Democrats are about to re-experience that painful lesson.
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