Category ►►► Election Derelictions

June 25, 2013

Just an Airy Thought in the Maelstrom...

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, the Supremes announced their decision in Shelby County v. Holder, largely striking down a significant portion of the 1960s-era Voting Rights Act. I defer to a lawyer to supply specificity:

The Court approved the concept of pre-clearance that is contained in Section 5, but of course there won’t be any pre-clearance until Congress writes new, defensible criteria to replace those the Court struck down–something that I assume will never happen. So the principal provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which should have been allowed to expire long ago–and would have, if that were politically possible–are finally gone.

I actually hope the GOP does enthusiastically join Democrats in a bipartisan voting-rights romp, to come up with a new formula for when preclearance should be invoked; but only on condition that:

  • The new formula does not rely upon an ancient history of racism but upon current conditions;
  • It takes the requirement of "strict scrutiny" seriously;
  • And most urgently, Republicans should utterly reject any deal that does not include a broad, sweeping, and strictly enforced, nationwide voter-ID law to prevent voter fraud -- a far more prevalent violation of Americans' right to "free and fair elections" than the lingering echoes of long-dead (Democratic) racists.

Ensuring that nobody eligible to vote is denied that right because of his race; in exchange for preventing those ineligible to vote from voting, and also preventing anyone from voting more than once in the same election; sounds wonderful! Yet I strongly suspect that Democrats would flee en masse from any such bargain: They would rather see people wrongly denied voting rights than have their own voter-fraud campaign strategy terminated!

The bipartisan bill would fail, not because of Republicans but because of Democrats. So why not let the whole world know who the real voting-right villains are?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 25, 2013, at the time of 3:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 8, 2013

"What Difference Does It Make!" -- On 2016?

Election Derelictions , La Casa Blanca , Liberal Lunacy , Predictions , Preening Progressivists
Hatched by Dafydd

PolitiFact Wisconsin has done us a great service by resurrecting Hillary "Hell to Pay" Clinton's January cri de coeur (rather, hysterical, squeaky, falsetto, voice-cracking, calculated screech) anent the Benghazi terrorism:

Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?

The attack (even the White House now admits it was an al-Qaeda terrorist assault) killed four Americans -- Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and two embassy security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Ten others were wounded in the attack. But a few days after, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice rushed onto nearly a thousand Sunday talk shows to pitch the rewritten, reelection-friendly talking points of the Obamunists: That the attack was unplanned, not premeditated, and was in fact an out-of-control movie review.

The PolitiFact piece is part of an "occasional feature" called In Context, a.k.a. the lazy man's journalism; it consists of taking some controversial statement, quoting several of the paragraphs surrounding it, and calling it a news story. But it is useful, providing a longer length of rope by which those afflicted by foot in mouth disease, such as Madame Erstwhile Secretary, can hang themselves all the quicker.

In context, Clinton's "What difference at this point does it make!" ejaculation is even worse than what we thought from the video snippet in January. We thought she had simply lost her temper after being badgered, bear-baited, and hogtied by some sneery senator. But the In Context piece shows a very different story: The shriek heard round the world was a planned evasion of a simple but devastating question, one that Clinton would surely know was coming -- but for which she had no good answer.

The questioner who extracted the Scream was Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI, 100%). And he really had only one simple, substantive question: Wouldn't a simple phone call to the survivors and evacuees, even a couple of days after the fact, have told us that there was no "demonstration" or "protest" prior to the assault? Therefore, that it was indeed a planned and executed terrorist attack.

Johnson asks his question several times:

Did anybody in the State Department talk to those folks very shortly afterwards?...

The point I’m making is, a very simple phone call to these individuals, I think, would’ve ascertained immediately that there was no protest prior to this.... Why wasn’t that known?...

But, Madame Secretary, do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those evacuees to determine what happened wouldn’t have ascertained immediately that there was no protest? That was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained?

But to each attempt to get Clinton to explain why she couldn't have found out almost immediately what really happened -- terrorism, not a spontaneous protest against a YouTube video -- Clinton evades, sidesteps, and tapdances... because she knows very well that, had she made that phone call, she would lose her plausible deniability; she would have owned the Big Lie of her subordinate, Susan Rice. Here are Clinton's "answers":

[O]nce the assault happened, and once we got our people rescued and out, our most immediate concern was, number one, taking care of their injuries.... We did not think it was appropriate for us to talk to them before the FBI conducted their interviews. And we did not -- I think this is accurate, sir -- I certainly did not know of any reports that contradicted the [Intelligence Community] talking points at the time that Ambassador Rice went on the TV shows.... Was information developing? Was the situation fluid? Would we reach conclusions later that weren’t reached initially?... [W]hen you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on, number one.... Number two, I would recommend highly you read both what the ARB said about it and the classified ARB because, even today, there are questions being raised. Now, we have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on and why they were doing what they were doing is still unknown --

Did I miss an actual answer in that pot of message? I mean, something like, "Yes, I could have called them and found out"... or even, "No, I couldn't call them, any of them, even days later, because my boss put the kibosh on any investigation until after he was safely reelected."

At the end, Johnson draws the only conclusion possible:

No, again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and that something sprang out of that -- an assault sprang out of that -- and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.

And that was when she unleashed her staged and rehearsed banshee wail, the silencing scream of the outraged woman under sexist assault by a Republican Fascist:

With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?

Of course she didn't dare answer! The simple and honest response to Johnson's question is, Yes, I could have found out immediately; but if I did, how could I safely send Siouxsie out to lie to the American voters just before President B.O.'s reelection?

Her hands were tied; rather, they were wired firmly over her ears. There are some things Man, or in this case a reasonable facsimile thereof, was not meant to know.

And don't think that Madame can just walk away from it. To paraphrase Josef Mengele in the Boys From Brazil: She betrayed her ambassador; she betrayed her oath of office; she betrayed her country!

If she chooses to run for president again in 2016, I expect her primary opponents won't forget to remember her lies, her multiple betrayals, her treasons, stratagems, and spoils. I stand by my prediction that Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham will never, ever be the Democrat nominee for president.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 8, 2013, at the time of 11:59 PM | Comments (3)

April 26, 2013

Everything We Know About Elections Is Wrong,
Fourth Movement and Coda

Election Derelictions , Future of the GOP
Hatched by Dafydd

How can the GOP take advantage of the axioms of coolness, without losing its soul?

Remember, the axioms of coolness don't mandate going over the top! Unlike Democrats, Republicans should always ask, "WWRD?" I don't mean with regard to policy; many of Reagan's programs would be anachronisms today (such as building a massive tank corps). What we need to start emulating is Reagan's understanding of how elections are won... and the core of that understanding does not change, even while the technology and specific mechanisms are in constant flux.

For example, Reagan never tried to demonize vast segments of ordinary Americans; he confined his attacks to actual enemies, such as the Soviet Union and corrupt politicians. Nor did he frighten us by saying we're all going to die if we don't slavishly support every policy of his. And he would have laughed in the face of any aide who advised him to compare himself to Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed.

Our current "cool" president embodies all three of these vile, bullying strategies, to the point of narcissism bordering on self-deification. Alas, such tactics work very well for the Left; it's their bread and buttered circuses.

Consider the recent upswing in the number of Americans who now favor redistribution of wealth. When economic times are good, most folks are happy to "allow" rich people to keep the money they earn. But when the economy turns sour, a large swath of the electorate panics -- they believe the only way the rich got their riches was by stealing it all from the rest of us. There's no other possible explanation! (Cf. Sneaking Apples from the Great Wealth Tree)

Democrats play on that paranoia, whipping up class warfare, because they thrive on insecurity, fear, and chaos... as do radical Islamists. But that simply doesn't work for Republican candidates.

But what does work for us is the emotional connection most Americans still have to our country. Democrats used to be able to rely upon loyalty and patriotism, but they have thrown that all away in their pursuit of divide-and-conquer and control-by-crisis. But the GOP still has the ties that bind, tethering us to the America I think the great majorities long for: The America that is truly "e pluribus unum," out of many, one, not the other way 'round.

I believe most people still support the idea of private property. They still want their economic and intellectual liberty. They still believe in a melting pot for immigrants, in assimilation, despite all the hate-mongering and propaganda from the salad-bowl activists. They believe in traditional marriage and normal families, not all the bizarre and incomprehensible hook-ups you find in gay and swinger communities. (Americans also believe in minding their own business, which is why ultraconservative fantasies of reinstating a ban on gays in the military and overturning Lawrence v. Texas, the Court ruling that struck down all anti-sodomy laws, are not only futile but electorally devastating.)

I believe most Americans are outraged by late-term abortions, particularly partial-birth abortions; but they see an enormous distinction between a baby and a single fertilized cell, a zygote. If we conflate the horror show of Kermit Gosnell and his post-birth "abortions" with embryonic stem-cell research, we lend credence to the absurdist charge that Republicans are anti-science theocrats.

We have many, many paths to beating Democrats by playing according to our rules, not theirs. We can turn the tables on them in many different ways; but like Jerry Seinfeld's lock, we actually have to use these techniques in order for them to work.

How about this: "We don't want people to needlessly suffer from lack of medical treatment for devastating illnesses like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. But at the same time, we don't want to force devout people support a procedure that causes them moral anguish. But we can resolve this dilemma by pressing hard for more funding of non-embryonic stem-cell research (placental, amneotic, and adult stem cells), and especially by pursuing non-destructive embryonic stem-cell research, a new approach which has quietly been percoating in the background."

This puts the Democrats into the perilous position of arguing that they would prefer destructive embryonic stem-cell research, because they want to see more embryos die. (This is almost as awkward a position as advocating partial-birth abortion while the Gosnell trial rages.)

We miss great emotional opportunities because we're so fixated on logicking voters into submission. Yet in successful political campaigns, logic never leads; it backfills. That is our first fundamental tactic.

  1. First convert, then persuade; get the right emotional pitch, and voters will retroactively be persuaded by the logic.

The logic is important, vital; it separates us from the Bonesian Left. When Dr. McCoy and Commander Spock agree, that is when we can find the Kirkian Mean... and that is when we win elections, often by a landslide.

Next, everybody in the Republican Party agrees that we need to do a better job of candidate selection; but that's like sticking your head out the window and then opening it, or putting on your shoes and socks -- in that order. Before we select a candidate, we must have a set of criteria for the qualities we're selecting! And "likeability" and "coolness" must be much higher up the great chain of candidate selection than "is a policy wonk" and "has a 5,000-page master plan to solve everything."

We will rarely win elections when our candidate is boring and reactionary (Romney), cranky and verging on iconoclastic (McCain), doddering and constantly referring to himself in the third person (Blob Dole), or a monomaniacal, one-note wonder (practically all the losing GOP candidates in the last several primaries). Unfortunately, it seems as if this is your grandfather's Republican Party!

We shouldn't toss away the eternal verities, but every old and ineffectual policy of the past is fair game for preemptive defenstration. This brings us to our second tactic:

  1. GOP candidate-selection criteria must lean heavily towards hip, likeable, and interesting candidates, technically savvy, forward-looking, with new ideas instead of the tired old garbage that didn't work well even back in the day, and is far less likely to succeed tomorrow and next year.

Finally, we don't need a detailed Theory of Everything; that sounds a bit too millennarian for comfort. But we do need a coherent overarching narrative into which all the bits and pieces can eventually fit.

For example, Reagan's narrative was that domestic government was too big, while security government was not nearly big enough: The government should stop intruding where it's neither needed nor desired, such as hampering innovation by driving up interest rates, trying to control the economy by brute force, launching anti-competitive spending sprees, and raising tax rates in order to "level" wealth... and instead should start spending its money to protect the American people from harm by, e.g., the evil empire.

Once Americans understood Reagan's priorities, virtually every policy, from tax cuts to defense build-ups to his (failed) attempt to curb domestic spending made perfect sense in context. That's because Reagan did, in fact, think logically from first principles, then craft policies that embodied his reasoning. (Though he pitched those policies in "emotion, then logic" order.) Thus, the coherent overarching narrative is our third tactic:

  1. Republican candidates must be able to tell an enthralling story about where we are now, how we got there, and where we go from here. And the candidate's actual, specific policy proposals must arise naturally out of that narrative.

Rules for fighting radicals, or brother can you paradigm?

Nobody can guarantee that Republicans will hold the House and take back the Senate next year, nor that one of us will be elected president in 2016. But if we follow these three fairly obvious rules for candidates and the party itself...

  1. Lead with passion and emotion, backfill with logic
  2. Nominate candidates who are likeable, cool, and futuristic, not pining for the "good ol' days"
  3. Construct a believable and uplifting general narrative; then fit policy to the story, not the other way 'round

...Then we Republicans will improve our chances of electoral victory a thousandfold, because finally we'll have earned it!

Final thought

Those of us who remember the JImmy Carter years will recollect how hopeless everything seemed during his term; here's what we faced (and this is a non-inclusive list):

  • We had a president who hated America and everything for which it stands, and who was feckless, hapless, and clueless.
  • Democrats had controlled the Senate since 1955, and the House since 1933 (FDR's first landslide). In fact, the House remained in Democrat hands throughout Reagan's entire term as well, not switching until the 1994 Newt Gingrich revolution; yet somehow, Reagan got about 70% of everything he sought, a much better record than the current occupier.
  • Entrepeneurs could not start new businesses, and existing businesses could not expand. The economy had sunk into a hellish quarmire of a stagnating economy and rapidly rising inflation simultaneously, dubbed "stagflation" -- which the Keynesians assured us was impossible, therefore wasn't really happening. (Whenever a "theory of everything" runs up against stubborn facts on the ground, the only proper answer is to deny the facts and "correct" the measurements to whatever theory says they should be. Cf. Globaloney.)
  • Taxes were very high, interest rates even higher. Energy prices were through the roof, and we had long lines for federally rationed gasoline. America seemed to have caught a terrible case of the flu.
  • Our military was shrinking while the Soviet and Red-Chinese threats expanded; we were wrong-footed again and again in areas as far-flung as Vietnam, Angola, and Afghanistan, and as close as Cuba, and Nicaragua. Communism was advancing all across the globe, and nearly everybody believed it was unstoppable. America's best days appeared to be far, far behind us. Carter fully embraced the grand vision of detente, which meant trying desperately to "contain" the Red threat while doing nothing to roll it back anywhere, pure defense with no offense.
  • Our nation was humiliated by the hostage crisis -- a bunch of theocrats in Iran, emboldened by Carter's astonishing weakness and triggered when he allowed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to come to the U.S. for cancer treatment, seized 66 embassy personnel including U.S. Marines. The hostage takers, so-called students, later released thirteen women and blacks ("oppressed minorities") and one white man who was seriously ill... thus inflicting further embarassment on us, as their mockery of Western compassion made us look like the real guilty party. 52 hostages were held for the last 443 days of the Carter administration and the first day of Reagan's.
  • Carter was a spoil-sport even in the world of sport, preventing American athletes (and via treaty, the athletes from 64 U.S. allies) from attending the Moscow Olympics; the boycott was a spasmotic gesture of utter futility over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. (Carter opined after the invasion that he hadn't realized that the Soviet Union was expansionist.) Net effect of the boycott: Countries from Western Europe, more or less tied to America (Italy, France, and Great Britain), won 50 medals; countries in the Soviet sphere won 581 medals. Boy, we sure taught them a lesson!

We were weak economically, militarily, and morally; and during the depths of that horrible time, it sure looked like it might be a permanent shift to the left that would never be undone.

Then along came a presidential candidate with a forceful but likeable personality, a set of good ideas, and a history of keeping both his word and his principles; and that was all it took to shatter the old paradigm and initiate a new.

Defeat is always an option; but despair, surrender, cowardice, and quitting need not be. No nation is truly defeated until its citizens simply give up the fight, roll over, and take the slave's collar.

So let's not. Let's get up on our pins and start fighting back. But this time, we'll take the fight to the Progressivist Left, and we'll swim with the current of the great river of traditional American culture, and ride the oceanic swells of shared emotional understandings to which every human is heir. We have a huge advantage: Progressivists despise the former and cruelly exploit the latter... and don't think Americans don't know that! We simply haven't given them a viable alternative recently.

Instead of calls to jettison conservative policies, which are as valid today as they were thirty-three years ago, let's reappraise our emotionless and atomized method of delivering the traditional ideas that still resonate with the American people. Instead of cross-dressing our ideology and getting political-reassignment surgery to look more like Progressivists, we ought to campaign on our traditional principles, but with a lot more romance!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 26, 2013, at the time of 2:16 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2013

Everything We Know About Elections Is Wrong,
Third Movement

Election Derelictions , Future of the GOP
Hatched by Dafydd

Why everything we know is wrong

We drew the wrong lesson from Reagan's stunning success. Because he always provided the logical basis and underpinning for his positions and policies -- after the emotional, road-to-Damascus conversion; and because Republican and conservative/libertarian activists tend to be more Spockian, we developed the bad habit of seizing upon that logic as if that was what did the trick... while neglecting all the Bonesian, emotional arguments that did the actual heavy lifting.

Then we try to win elections by dropping entire encyclopedias of wonk on the voter's head (e.g., Paul Ryan).

There is nothing wrong with converting by emotional reason if there is also a logical argument as well. But we often forget that and find ourselves embarassed, as GOP activists, by emotionalism, by passion, even by such as simple thing as "feeling someone's pain." It's hardly surprising that voters like people who appear to like them, and dislike people who appear to disdain them. That's why, even on the left, successful leaders are more like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama than like Maxine Waters or Hillary Clinton. But for some reason, the Left is perfectly willing to reach out to ordinary people in an emotional way, but the Right obsesses on wonkism. The Right understands principle and policy, but the Left understands people; which side do you think will usually win?

That was Reagan's great breakthrough: He discovered a way to develop policies and positions from logical reasoning from first principles, but explain them in language that ordinary folks can understand and agree with.

It's a powerful combination, strong enough to overcome great electoral obstacles: "Compassionate conservative" George W. Bush pulled off a stunning victory over the anointed successor to Bill Clinton, Vice President Algore, despite the Clinton administration having left office in peace and plenty; and he followed that up by winning an even more solid victory four years later, despite recession and years of warfare. In this instance, Bush sincerely felt the joy and the pain of the American people -- and both his foes were robo-Dem nerds.

Lessons that should have been learnt: Empathy springs from shared emotional understanding, not shared political algorithms.

Emotions evolved in archaic Man as a means of communicating on a deeper level than mere words. Words could be lies; but emotions have always been thought to be harder to fake than language. (Again, whether this is really true is irrelevant; it matter only that most people think it true, thus are more convinced by emotional than logical argument.)

So what makes a candidate cool?

Almost nothing John McCain could have done in the 2008 endgame would have reversed the outcome; his goose was cooked when he ran a national-security campaign, and the bottom fell out of the housing market instead. In 2012, I tried to keep up my spirits, but my heart sank when I realized that Mitt Romney simply could not convey an emotional connection. He might have been the most heartfelt feller in the race (anything's possible!); but he couldn't deliver on the most important issue of every election: "understanding people like me," which is shorthand for "understanding my joys and sorrows, liking the kinds of things that I like, disliking what I dislike, and reveling in the popular culture of the United States."

People disconnected from pop culture are notoriously uncool; they seem remote, aloof, uncaring. (I should know, that describes me to a T!) Many contemporary conservatives and anti-liberals -- and especially libertarians -- hate and despise pop culture, because they only see the parts that are bad -- Paris Hilton Pop.

But there are many facets to pop culture, from family-oriented and often uplifting country-western music, picnics and parties, NASCAR and baseball, TCM and Dancing With the Stars, sports bars and "foreign" restaurants, movies and Broadway plays, concerts and Shakespeare in the park. "Pop culture" includes lonely and disturbed teenaged sexters looking for Mr. Goodbar, but that's only a sad sliver of it, the part that the Left adores.

But rarely anymore does a GOP nominee come across as connected to any aspect of pop culture; instead they condemn virtually all pop culture, painting with an enormously broad brush. But connecting to pop culture means, by definition, connecting to the mass of voters.

Consider our last two standard bearers, John McCain and Mitt Romney. How connected did they seem to the ordinary American and the culture of the people? But there are always aspects of pop culture that any Republican candidate should be able to embrace wholeheartedly and with complete sincerity, without looking awkward and embarassed by it.

Too, survival is always cool: Even Richard Nixon, the paranoid android, was able to beat two candidates ostensibly cooler (or at least less nerdy), Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern. Clearly the Republican was nevertheless able to persuade voters, by the use of entirely justified fear-mongering, that the Democrat Party of the late sixties and early seventies didn't take national security seriously enough.

That is a meme that is always available to the GOP -- but we have to make the case, of course; as George W. Bush could do after the 9/11 attacks. And of course right now many Americans are feeling quite vulnerable, less secure about their own safety... which is a major reason why Barack Obama's approval is sinking, while Bush's is rising.

So there we have a couple of criteria for coolness -- connection to popular culture and committment to protecting Americans from violent attack and economic collapse. But here is a third, one that leaves Republicans with a bad taste because of its most recent abuser: conveying the opportunity of a transcendent transformation of America.

At the risk of offending readers who hate explicit definitions, let me define that term. A "transcendent transformation" is a wholistic and fundamental reconfiguration of the very idea of America and Americanism, comprehensive changes to the status quo in order to achieve overarching goals that pass beyond quotidian experience, beyond the commonplace.

The current occupier of 1600 Pennsylvania clearly ventured into a call for transcendent transformation when he claimed that, due to his own advent (and I mean that in its Messianic sense) --

If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.

Delusions of grandeur, even a God complex? Perhaps; but also extremely effective electorally. Obama filled a gaping hole in the hearts of many Americans, bogged down by a sagging economy, unending warfare with no clear narrative for victory, and purposeless governance that merely responded to crisis after crisis without "getting anywhere." Despite all the good, even great things George W. Bush did, that was the psychic legacy he left in 2008.

So let's review these three criteria for coolness in a presidential candidate:

  • A strong connection to the culture of most Americans -- "I am one of you, not one of them!"
  • A forceful pledge to protect ordinary families and individuals from violent attack and economic upheavel -- "I will stand beside you and protect you from harm as your guardian angel!"
  • A promise of fundamental change that ushers in a new, transcendent era of peace, prosperity, and justice -- "I am the One to lead you to the promised land!"

There are surely other aspects of political coolness, but I believe these are the tree most effective ones. Each of these three axioms of coolness can be played soft and reassuring, as with Reagan (let's fundamentally change back to the roots of Americana), or hard and radical (let us create the New Soviet Man), or anywhere in between, producing either a great hero or a nightmarish dictator. But every transformative leader in history has used some combination of these three axioms: I am of the body, I am your lord protector, and I will lead you to a great and mighty future.

Presidential candidates who deftly campaign within the axioms of coolness tend to be elected; those who do so clumsily (or ignore them altogether) lose a great advantage, and will likely lose the election if they run against a "cool" competitor (e.g., Hoover vs. FDR, Carter vs. Reagan, Romney vs. Obama).

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 25, 2013, at the time of 2:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2013

Everything We Know About Elections Is Wrong,
Second Movement

Election Derelictions , Future of the GOP
Hatched by Dafydd

What's cool anyway?

It cannot be defined so easily, because coolness can be neither measured nor contained: A charismatic candidate will shift the very definition of "cool." Reagan turned big government into a pejorative, and he turned tax cuts and a beefy national defense into cool new ideas; but more recently, Barack "Limitless" Obama turned Americans in exactly the opposite direction, towards the coolness of being welfare kings and queens, being cruel and atomized, and being politically apathetic (except when "protest" morphs into a political rave).

The policies did not make Reagan and Obama cool; these winning candidates made the policies cool, simply by association with themselves. The coolness of a cool candidate rubs off on his programs almost as an afterthought.

Reagan's magic formula

So what makes a candidate cool in the first place? How did Reagan sell America on such a major transformation in 1980? Much as it pains me, a Spockian (and the innovator of the Spockian-Bonesian axis of emotion and logic in the first place, many years ago*), Reagan's primary method of converting voters to Reaganism and Reaganomics was not logical argument.

Most people cannot be persuaded or converted by logic or reason alone. Reagan himself said something to that effect: You can't logically argue a man out of a position he wasn't logically argued into in the first place.

So Reagan perfected a brilliant technique:

  1. First, convert the voter emotionally, passionately.
  2. Then once converted, give him the underlying logic to retroactively justify his conversion.

Converting in this order is vital. All the brilliant logical arguments in the world will not suffice to convert the average voter from A to B. But after first being converted by raw, seething emotion, by passion, by a transcendent vision, then even the easiest logic will keep him in your camp forever: The convert is looking for any excuse to agree with you. ("Reagan Democrats" are best evidence of this proposition.)

To win elections, you first must be able to "win friends and influence people." When folks like you, they'll be hugely more receptive to anything you have to say.


* From a piece I posted on a bulletin board on January 23rd, 2003:

A while back, I came up with a sceme to describe different personality types -- another one of those axes with one extreme at one end, another at the other, and every person falling somewhere along the axis.

At the extreme left edge are the "Bonesians;" at the extreme right are the "Spockians;" and in the center is the "Kirkian Mean."

The vast majority of folks fall on the Bonesian side of the axis: they relate on an emotional level better than on an intellectual level; emotional arguments are more convincing to them that logical arguments; they empathize with others, they are good at comforting, they enjoy socializing -- and in social settings, they don't want to talk about controversial or "argumentative" subjects.

At the opposite end are the Spockians, who are much fewer in number than the Bonesians. Spockians are very uncomfortable with emotional displays, arguments, or situations. They do not empathize with others, they are not quick to offer sympathy. But they are better at intellectual type arguments; they understand logic; they actually enjoy discussing controversial topics and eagerly accept counterarguments, so long as the ripostes are also intellectual, not emotional, in character.

Obviously, both sides have strengths and weaknesses; the Kirkian Mean combines the best of both: Captain Kirk can move either left to empathize and understand the emotional component of a problem, or right to grasp the logical complexities and difficulties.

I like to describe it like this: You want your priest to be a Bonesian and your cardiac surgeon to be a Spockian, and your family doctor had better reside at the Kirkian Mean!

Spockians think Bonesians are intellectual lightweights. Bonesians think Spockians are cold-hearted stonefaces. People are what they are, but it's always a good idea for Spockians to try to understand to the left and Bonesians to understand to the right.

But here's the "big but": Bonesians are so numerous, they rarely encounter a Spockian. They can live their lives while seduously avoiding all Spockians. Whereas the Spockians are surrounded by Bonesians and can't help bumping into them. Thus, usually Spockians have more experience of Bonesians than vice versa. To a Bonesian, a Spockians is more or less an "alien" (Gene Roddenberry wonderfully understood this in Star Trek), and the Bonesian is either frightened, angered, or repelled by him. No matter how Spockians feel, however, and unlike their counterparts, they are compelled by circumstances to deal with a lot of Bonesians.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 24, 2013, at the time of 2:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2013

Everything We Know About Elections Is Wrong,
In Four Movements and a Coda

Election Derelictions , Future of the GOP
Hatched by Dafydd

First movement

Note: This next series of posts has nothing whatsoever to do with current events; it's a ponder-piece, nothing more. And I am not a grizzled, old veteran of electoral combat, like Karl Rove or Rich Galen. I know absolutely nothing about this subject; it's all my own ruminations. So take everything I say with a boxcar of salt. So there!

Some days back, my fave blogger on my fave blog posted a plaintive, desperate cri de coeur: "Why aren't more people repelled by the Left?"

I can't tell whether John's question is serious or rhetorical, but there is an obvious explanation: Defiance is "cool" to younger voters and activists, because they're still in the throes of their own genetically driven urge to leave the nest and create their own family line. Without evolutionarily induced defiance, mammals would never leave their mothers.

This is likely why teens and early-twenties tend to vote more leftish than older voters: genes.

But it brings up a larger point: For decades now, at least since the late sixties, Republicans have been thought to be stodgy, old-fashioned, reminiscent, hidebound, nerdy, and out of touch with the contemporary world. By contrast, the Left has successfully painted itself as bright, new, clever, nimble, snarky (which now seems a good thing), and above all, cool.

I will say this over and over: In elections, reality is meaningless; image is everything.

So given our image, we must ask a very serious (and not at all rhetorical) question: Can GOPers ever be elected again?

The answer, I'm happy to say, is absolutely! But not by the kinds of campaigns Republicans prefer running these days; we're chasing hydrofoils with canoes.

We need to emulate, not the corrupt, totalitarian policies of Progressivists, but their brilliant ability to grab the electorate and make it dance to their tune. In particular, we Republicans must master three techniques that we have (for the most part) disdained until now:

  1. Convert your voter first by passion and emotion, and only later persuade him with logic.
  2. Pick candidates that are likeable, future-looking, and cool -- not nerdy, annoying, and obsessed with a Golden Age that never was.
  3. Develop a consistent narrative of government, what it should be and do; then let policy flow from that story, rather than warp the story to justify predetermined policies of the past.

To make my point clearer, I will focus only on presidential candidates. But the same strategies of coolness, emotion, and finally logic to retoactively justifiy the emotional decision still apply, even when scaled up to the 535 members of Congress -- e.g., Newt Gingrich's victory in 1994.

Wait, isn't this pointless, now that the "Gang of Eight" is going to grant a path to citizenship for all the illegal aliens, and they'll all vote for Democrats, so the GOP will never win another election?


The two phenomena are not connected; it's not like we have to choose either to improve GOP campaign strategies or securing the border, but not both! Each will either happen or not happen independent of the other. So there's no rational reason to reject improvement of electioneering skills just because the 2016 electorate will have more Hispanics than in 2012, or because the 2024 electorate will include some number of erstwhile illegal immigrants. It's like saying, "Radical-Islamist terrorism will probably increase in a few years, so there's no point in refinancing your high-interest home loan."

Now let's get on with the show!

Coolness as political proxy

In any election, the mass of voters will cast votes for the candidate they consider the coolest and most likeable, and who seems to be looking ahead, not behind, with little regard to logical argument or rational policy-making.

Let's define "hyper-informed Republican voters" (HIRVs) as those folks who read blogs like Power Line, Patterico's Pontifications, Hot Air, who read books by Ben Shapiro, Thomas Sowell, Jonah Goldberg, and suchlike, and who tend to vote GOP. We must understand that HIRVs do not win elections.

Most voters vote a straight party ticket, usually whichever party their parents voted; and the balance of the election, especially in more recent times, is held by the Low-Information Voters (LIVs), those who rarely read about politics or policy -- and almost never deliberately. Most of their political ideas, quirks, and outbursts come from ostensibly non-political sources, from celebrities, gossip columns, and meme-squibs squirted into otherwise apolitical articles in culture media (glamor shows, teen idols, fashion mavins, homemaking magazines). Alas, the vast majority of such sources lean very far to the left.

But it's important to understand that LIVs are not necessarily stupid or even ignorant; they simply don't obsess over politics as we do, being too busy at the "real life" thing.

But does that mean we anti-liberals are doomed to suffer defeat after defeat until Doomsday? Not at all. Bear in mind that in 1980, the electorate considered Ronald Reagan more futuristic, coherent, and certainly way cooler than doddering, ineffectual, confused, rabbit-fearing Jimmy Carter. Why was Reagan cooler than Carter? Well for several superficial reasons and one deep insight. True, the Gipper was better looking, more affable, a much better speaker, more optimistic about America's future, more patriotic; but most of all, because Reagan enunciated ideas we hadn't heard a thousand times before, from tax cuts to ballistic missile defense. He shattered the old paradigm of "make do with less, settle for adequacy," and showed us a "shining city on a hill" that we could have, if only we would look forward, not backwards.

Reagan clearly came across to most voters as exciting, adventurous, innovative, and brave; not bad for the oldest president we've ever elected! Reagan didn't back down from anybody; and in 1980, Americans were getting pretty tired of being kicked in the aspirations by every tinhorn, Commie dictator on the planet.

Would he be elected today? Would he fit within the GOP's current ideology? Of course he would -- because the Republican Party would change to fit Reagan, just as it did twenty-three years ago!

But in the list of requirements for a winning candidate, notice the one that isn't there: conservative. Conservatism is no longer an automatic asset to a candidate, if it ever was; we must face reality that, for the large majority of voters, ideology is irrelevant to electibility. Anyone, from a rock-ribbed conservative like Reagan to a card-carrying Progressivist/socialist like Barack H. Obama, can be "cool."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 23, 2013, at the time of 2:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2012

Practical Controversialism 002 -- Take Me To the Fairness

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

It's vital that we recast core Republican principles in a way that makes them attractive and easy to understand for voters, while fitting them with our basic American impulses of fairness, decency, justice, and protecting what's ours.

This does not mean we should be intransigent, demanding "all or nothing." If Reagan is the model, then consider his "half a loaf" thesis (via Ted Cruz):

Reagan used to say, "if they offer you half a loaf, what do you do?" And his answer was, "you take half a loaf and then you come back for more."

But at the same time, Cruz understands that some compromises are more equal than others: "I’m willing to compromise and accept less than 100% if we are moving forward.... The problem is some of the Republicans in Washington compromise, moving backwards." Like a Victorian tart, Republicans seem to have round heels.

It's vital we stand up for our core principles, clearly and cleanly. But if we muddy them up with complicated exceptions and demurs, shackle them to unpopular and divisive side orders, or allow the Democrats to redefine them into absurdities or offensive assaults on the body politic, we'll lose votes rather than gain them.

Cases in point: Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin. With what principles were they identified on election day(s)? I don't mean (or care) what they meant to say; I'm interested in how they actually came across to the voters:

  • Akin: Abortion is wrong and also God has a secret ejection seat for zygotes produced by rape.
  • Mourdock: Abortion is wrong and also God's plan is for rapists to impregnate their victims.

Odds are pretty high that those "and alsos" gave away two Republican Senate seats for nothing, seats we should have won. Now this may seem an extreme position, but maybe they should have left off that second clause!

I agree with my favorite blogger on my favorite blog:

If questioned about abortion, conservative candidates should focus on the areas where liberal positions are extreme. Thus, for example, a candidate could say:

I have always been opposed to abortion on moral grounds. Frankly, however, my opinion isn’t very relevant since the Supreme Court has held that there is a constitutional right to abortion. But there are a few areas that are still open for discussion. One of them is infanticide. It seems to me that no matter how we feel about abortion, we ought to be able to agree that babies that are born alive shouldn’t be killed. And yet the Democrats haven’t been willing to join us in opposing infanticide. President Obama voted against a bill that would have outlawed infanticide when he was a state senator in Illinois, and most Democrats, including my opponent, are in favor of partial-birth abortion, which is nothing but infanticide under a different name. So I suggest you ask my opponent: is he willing to buck his party and come out against infanticide, including partial birth abortion?

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. Rather, let's talk taxes, growth, and Republican economics. President Barack "I didn't tax that -- yet!" Obama sees his narrow reelection as a "mandate" to raise taxes -- but only on "the rich" (anybody making $250,000 per year or more); while not raising them on the less successful. (And allowing a very large number of people who are not on military pensions and not on welfare nevertheless pay no income taxes whatsoever.)

I reckon there's a word for this, and we Republicans oughtn't shy away from it: "Unfairness." Here's how we baldly tie our Republican principles, unadorned and uncluttered, to the inherent human desire for economic fairness:

Democrats say they want successful people to pay their "fair share;" but when they say fair, they really mean separate and unequal.

It's simply unfair to single out our most productive citizens -- or any other group -- for punitive taxation just to divide Americans against each other for political gain. This punishment tax would raise only $20 billion per year, a droplet in this administration's firehose of deficit spending.

Real fairness is treating everybody the same under the law: If we need to raise taxes, it should be raised fairly across the board. But before raising taxes, let's first see how far we can get by cutting spending instead; because there aren't enough rich people to tax our way out of this bottomless hole.

(There's another apropos word we could use, likewise perfectly accurate, though it's somewhat harsher: "unAmerican." It's unAmerican to punish families just because they've managed to find the American dream. "UnAmerican" is a word that makes some uneasy; but when used with care and caution, I think it can also be deployed. After all, Democrats call Republicans "unAmerican" all the time!)

Voters have shown time and again that fairness -- the gut feeling, not the legal word-soup -- is a powerful golden thread in American national philosophy and electoral politics. Why should we cede the entire concept to the Progressivist Left? To requote Winston Churchill -- hey, I just read this in another Power Line post by Steven Hayward:

"All men are created equal," says the American Declaration of Independence. "All men shall be kept equal," say the British Socialist Party.

...And the American Democratic Party as well.

There's a possibility that cunning Democrats might taunt us that fairness, as we're defining it, should really mean having only a single tax rate, which everyone paid (which, come to think, is not a bad idea). Again, the comeback writes itself:

I agree with you a hundred percent, Mr. Democrat; ultimately, that should be our goal, because we're the party of true fairness -- equality of opportunity, but not equality of outcomes. And I'm glad to hear that you agree with us about making the tax system fairer for everyone.

But we're not the party of radical changes; that's your sour brand. So why don't you join us in a wonderful down payment on the tax fairness we all agree on: Let's return to Ronald Reagan's tax reform, which had only two brackets -- 15 and 28%; not the six brackets we have today -- 10, 15, 25, 28, 33, and 35%.

Two brackets is not ideal, but it's darn close; and we mustn't let "best" become the enemy of "better."

As actual legislation, it won't work; the Democrats in the Senate won't let us go back to the Reagan tax plan -- in part because it is the "Reagan" tax plan, and Democrats don't want to admit he even existed. But it's not intended to bowl over the Left; the point of applying generic fairness to our tax code is to draw a line of distinction between us and them; between Capitalism and liberal Fascism; between growing a bigger pie and slicing and dicing a shrinking pie into ever more, ever thinner pieces; between a bright future and a slough of despond.

Sadly, suspicion of Mitt Romney and a residual legacy of hope from four years ago torpedoed our chances this time. As Paul Mirengoff notes elsewhere, voters generally give each party in the White House at least eight years to make things better. Note that we're talking parties, not individuals: George H.W. Bush had only one term, but he was preceded by two Republican terms of Ronald Reagan; similarly, Herbert Hoover's one term was directly preceded by Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, both Republicans. The pattern holds with Carter as the lone post-Civil War exception.

In 1868, voters turned out impeached President Andrew Johnson after only one term in office; since then, it has happened only once more: Jimmy Carter, bracketed by Nixon/Ford before and Reagan after. So it's not surprising that voters gave Obama another four years; it would have been unusual had they not.

But from this point on, I believe Americans will blame Obama, not the fading memory of George W. Bush, for a continued lousy economy and for any future terrorist attacks on the United States. I believe that two years from now, voters will finally admit they were snookered (twice!) by glib words divorced from corresponding actions, and the electorate will shift into trash-removal mode. And there we'll be, with our clear principles and mature governance. That is, if we can speak with clarity, consistency, precision, and persistence, coupling broad premises like "fairness" and "justice" to our national creed of individual (not collective) liberty.

And if we can find a way to muzzle the tongue-twisted gorillas in our midst.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 15, 2012, at the time of 2:34 AM | Comments (2)

November 13, 2012

De Profundis

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Korso

Based on my silence the last week, one might think that I ran into hiding after the election. To be honest, after I woke up at 4am last Wednesday morning and saw who won, running away seemed like a pretty damn good idea. After investing so much emotion and spilling so much digital ink on the subject, the idea that Mitt Romney wouldn't be president simply hadn't occurred to me -- not in any real sense, anyway. The polls were with us, the enthusiasm gap favored us, and the incumbent was determined to prove his presidency a slow-motion disaster in the making.

Then, as it is wont to do, reality asserted itself. The voters spoke. And, loud and clear, they looked at the last four years and said, "Yeah, I'll have some more of that."

I'm not going to delve into the how and the why -- forensic analysis of the election is already a cottage industry, and the Republican Party will be picking over the number for months to come, as they should. The best that I can do is tell you why the result isn't the end of the world, even though it might feel that way, and why I'm generally optimistic about the future:

  1. 2010. Back in 2008, when His Excellency Barack Hussein Obama was first elected, the pundit class -- which consists largely of toadies who did everything they could to get the guy crowned in the first place -- heralded the arrival of a new liberal age, during which conservative ideas about governing and spending would be cast into the wilderness for forty years or more. Then came the stimulus. And Obamacare. And an orgy of spending and regulation so repellent that it gave birth to the Tea Party movement. Millions of people who had never protested anything in their lives took to the streets peacefully to tell their government that enough was enough -- and they swept enough Republicans back into Congress to take over the House and deprive the Democrats of their Senate supermajority.

    If that's what happened the last time Obama overreached, we can reasonably expect a similar result the next time he tries to pull the same thing -- and he will, now that he no longer has to worry about re-election. Assuming the Republicans hold firm in halting Obama's agenda and do a better job of taking their message to the voters, they can position themselves to make significant gains in 2014. Of course, this also means fielding candidates who can articulate the vision without falling into the social issue traps sure to be laid in front of them by the mainstream media. With any luck, we'll have learned the lessons of Richard Mourdock and Todd (Claude) Akin.

  2. The facts of life are conservative. Not to get all Vulcan on everyone, but logic demands that there be a reckoning for Obama's reckless behavior. The only question is whether that comes sooner or later, and how bad it's going to get. We're already starting to see some of that now, with business initiating layoffs and assuming a defensive stance over the looming implementation of Obamacare. And as Obama gets farther into his second term, it's going to get harder and harder to blame George W. Bush for the ailing economy (although he will try). If we slide into a double-dip recession, he'll have to own it free and clear.

    Ditto on the foreign policy situation. Second terms are generally known for being scandal ridden, and Obama's is off to a roaring start right out of the gate. With Fast & Furious and Benghazi already hanging over his head, now Obama has to deal with CIA and Afghanistan operations that are starting to look like a season-long story arc on Dawson's Creek. So far, the administration has taken its cue from Sgt. Schultz and claims to know nothing -- but even partisans like Dianne Feinstein are asking questions, and the whole sexy-sex angle means that even the Obamanated press won't be able to ignore it. In spite of their best efforts, those low-info voters who blithely sent Barack back to Washington might start paying attention.

  3. Ideas. Simply put, conservative ideas are better. They make sense. More than that, they actually work -- and there's gonna come a time, very soon, when things start falling apart rapidly, that the nation is going to be looking to the party of ideas for leadership. That's us, folks. When the nation finally admits it has a problem, we'll be the special forces team that goes in to rescue everyone.

So is that a rosy enough scenario for ya? Yeah, I know -- I've been wrong before (and in a spectacular way). But there is another reality at work here, and it's not one that will go away just because the majority of voters decide they don't want to think about it right now: We'll either get the spending under control in an orderly way, or it'll happen after total economic collapse.

Our job for 2014? Make sure the voters understand what it'll be like if they choose the latter.

Hatched by Korso on this day, November 13, 2012, at the time of 8:09 AM | Comments (0)

November 9, 2012

Practical Controversialism 001 (the new PC!)

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Yesterday, I began writing a monumental treatise titled "How We Start Winning Again;" but I decided it was ridiculous. The piece was already over 5,000 words, and I was just getting started. So I've chosen a different route: Every now and again, I'll toss onto the table a short, strategic thought, a "practical controversialism" (P.C.) for two reasons:

  • To start Republicans winning again
  • And because it's just the right thing for us anti-liberals to do.

So here's the first P.C. I cast before you ~

This year, Hispanics chose Obama by some staggering amount; I think it was 70-30, a frightening number. If this becomes as permanent as the perennial 90% black vote, we may as well disband the party and create a new coalition.

So let's not let it become established law.

I do not believe that Hispanics voted en masse for Obama because he offered them "free stuff." I believe they stampeded leftwards because they have come to believe, rightly or wrongly (a little of both), that Republicans just don't like them. Because of the paucity of frequent contact between Hispanics (and other minority voters) and the GOP, many voters believed the calumnies hurled against us by liberal Democrats; they were afraid what would happen to them if Mitt Romney or any other Republican was elected.

Republicans tend to buddy up to Hispanic voters in the last few weeks of every election. Hispanics notice this sad fact. By contrast, Democrats work with Hispanic leaders, Hispanic organizations, Hispanic news media, Hispanic cultural icons every day of every week, year in and year out. Who are they more likely to believe on election day?

So my controversial suggestion is this: We should do just as much outreach to Hispanics, at every level, as the Democrats do (or maybe even more, to make up for lost time). Not the same content; we shouldn't try to bribe Hispanics for their votes, as Democrats do with identity-politics legislation. But we should have so much contact, so much two-way communication, that Hispanics really and truly understand that we welcome them as people, respect their culture, and have a great commonality not shared with liberals: religiosity, strong and large families, entrepreneurship, and some very conservative social values.

You can peel off a lot of that anti-conservative vote simply by demonstrating -- all the time, not just when an election looms -- that we really want to hear what American Hispanics need in order to feel like full citizens, and by persuading them, one by one, how Capitalism and individual liberty compliments and supplements their own strong sense of community. (I mean Hispanic citizens and lawful residents, not illegal aliens.)

For that matter, why not do the same communications outreach -- not "payoff" outreach -- with black and Asian voters? There must be many black business owners who would be willing at least to talk to officials of the Republican Party, or attend a dinner jointly sponsored by the RP and organizations that promote business ownership among black entrepreneurs. Similarly, quite a few Koreans and Vietnamese are Catholic (the French connection). Anything we can do to dispell the idea that "Republicanism = racism" cannot help but convert some portion of Hispanic, black, and Asian voters from knee-jerk Democrats to thoughtful Republicans.

It's assuredly true that some Republicans are racists; but I'm certain that a great many more liberals are racists -- believing that "people of color" must stay on the "plantation." And an even larger number on the Left are blatant anti-Catholic bigots: I reference those liberals who try to hang homosexual activity between a few priests and mostly adult males, along with a very small number of actual child molesters, around the neck of the entire Catholic faith like a Progressivist albatross.

Yes, socially and economically conservative blacks, along with Catholic Hispanics and Asians, naturally have a great deal more in common with Republican conservatives than with atheist liberals who hate entrepreneurs and believe "minorities" belong, not in the free market, but in the inner-city slums instead. And of course in the ballot booth every couple of years, to "earn" their liberal welfare checks.

In any event, how could it hurt just to keep the lines of communication open year round? Both the GOP and Progressively victimized minority voters really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 9, 2012, at the time of 1:19 AM | Comments (5)

November 7, 2012

America Postmortem

Election Derelictions , Rheumatic Republicans
Hatched by Dafydd

All right, a bit over the top; America isn't dead yet, nor is it likely that Barack Obama can kill us... not in a scant four years, and with the House still firmly in the hands of Republicans. But he still can (and will!) do a lot more damage.

Time to put on our manly gowns, gird our loins, and pull up our socks. Now is the time to fight for what we believe, not retreat into recriminations and despair. (Isn't despair a mortal sin?)

Charles Krauthammer had the most profound explanation of last night's disaster (I'm paraphrasing): He doesn't think (and neither do I) that the message was to blame; exit polling still shows Americans prefer small government, and they associate it with the Republican Party. Rather, it was the messenger they found lacking.

I still believe, even in hindsight, that Mitt Romney was the best possible nominee among all the candidates who actually stepped up to run against Obama; nevertheless, Romney just wasn't strong enough.

  • Marco Rubio might have had a better run, might even have defeated Obama, especially as he would have taken a significantly greater chunk of the Hispanic vote; this year, Obama took 69% (!) of it, actually increasing his advantage among that voting bloc.
  • Jeb Bush might also have been a stronger advocate for the contemporary conservative position: smaller government, emphasis on small business, individual liberty, all without government picking winners and losers, whether in business (no more Solyndras!) or radical transformations of the United States into Something Else (Obamunism).
  • Maybe Paul Ryan running for president could have been a more inspiring advocate.
  • Somebody like Bobby Jindal could have become "the next new thing," capturing the novelty vote.
  • Even Chris Christie might have done better; for one point, he would have gained the same stature during Hurricane Sandy as Obama did, nullifying the latter's advantage.

But none of those gentlemen ran for president in 2012.

Paul Mirengoff on Power Line said early on that ours was a very weak field of candidates; I disagreed then, but in hindsight, I think the Deacon was right. Mitt Romney was the best of a lackluster lot; I doubt that Pawlenty or Bachman or Perry could have done even as well as Romney did. But our best wasn't good enough.

Clearly, the Republican electorate simply did not accept Romney as the personification of small government, small business, and individual liberty. Prior to this election -- actually, the last part of this election -- when did Romney ever campaign on those themes? I don't recall him even mentioning much of this back in 2008; and in the interim, what did he do to champion the core beliefs of tea-partiers and mainline conservatives, whose economic beliefs happen to be shared by a strong majority of Americans?

He simply wasn't believable as the savior sought by traditional Americans. I believed in him, and I still do; I believe he would have been an excellent president, particularly with Paul Ryan nudzhing him along. But most GOP voters do not follow politics the way we in the shattering glass chattering class do. From their point of view, Romney simply parachuted into the campaign for the first debate, performed brilliantly -- then settled back and did nothing else remarkable.

(Hurricane Sandy was perfectly timed for Obama's flagging campaign; somebody down there liked him. For four days just before the election, the Romney campaign was totally shut out of the conversation; and all voters saw were heroic pictures of Obama looking tall and presidential. Had the hurricane come along a couple of weeks earlier, Romney could have recovered; but he simply had no time.)

Too, Barack Obama has the disturbing facility to maintain his "likeability," even while being nakedly mean, vengeful, peevish, arrogant, blame-shifting, and whiny. Particularly likeable to women -- an abusive lover who mesmerizes his victims. Until the very end of the campaign, Romney struggled to appear likeable; and even in the last few days, he must still have seemed wooden enough to inspire little confidence that he could actually do what he said he could.

I suspect that when all the numbers are crunched, we'll find that Republicans simply didn't show up, not the way we expected them to. I doubt Obama made any great inroads into any of the groups he carried in 2008, nor picked up new supporters, nor galvanized more of them to vote than last time. Rather, GOP voters did the same thing they did when John McCain ran against Obama: They stayed home in droves.

It takes an awful lot to defeat an incumbent president: The Left failed to defeat Nixon (1972), Reagan (1984) or Bush-43 (2004); the Right couldn't vote out Clinton (1996) or Obama (2012). From the end of World War II, only two elected presidents tried and failed to be reelected: Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.

(Gerald Ford failed in his reelection bid, but he was never elected as either president or vice president in the first place... he's the exception that tests the rule.) During that same time, eight presidents, four of each, were reelected to a second term (Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Bush-43, and Obama).

Most of us thought we had enough, what with the lousy economy, catastrophic foreign policy, and general cluelessness. Alas, even that was insufficient. Evidently, voters need something in addition, something the media cannot or will not cover up: the Iranian hostage crisis in Carter's case; or for George H.W. Bush, a job approval that plummets from 89% in February 1991 to 34% in October 1992. In addition to general incompetence, voters demand a juicy scandal or a complete collapse of confidence; otherwise, the president will likely be reelected.

That said, Romney did much better than McCain. Obama's vote margin over McCain was more than 9.5 million, 7.4% of the vote (not counting third-party nominees). Obama took 365 electoral votes, compared to 173 for McCain.

This year, Obama's margin over Romney was less than two million, about 1.7%. We still don't know how Florida will fall; but if Obama gets it, the electoral-vote totals will be Obama 332, Romney 206; and if it goes to Romney, it will be Obama 303, Romney 235. (Romney flipped two states from Democrat to Republican, Indiana and North Carolina -- and possibly a third, in the unlikely event that Florida ends up in the GOP column.)

I looked at thirteen swing states, comparing the 2008 and 2012 results. The states were Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Every single one of these states was more Republican this time than last; the average movement was 5.4% towards the GOP side.

As a woulda-coulda-shoulda, Florida was almost dead even; Ohio was only 2 points away; Virginia was 3 points; and Colorado was 3 points distant. Shifting those four (or three, depending which way Florida goes) states would have flipped the election. By contrast, even if McCain had managed to win every state where Obama's margin was 9 points or less, Obama still would have won. McCain would have had to win either Colorado or Iowa, each of which went to Obama by 9.5%.

We almost won; it only seems like a horrible loss because so many of us, myself included, thought we were going to win for sure.

So I agree with Krauthammer that we don't need to "reinvent" the Republican Party or even change our message:

  • In 2016, Obama won't be running, removing the fascination of the first black president.
  • We won't have an incumbent president, with all the electoral advantage that entails.
  • We'll likely have better candidates who will be better known, and better known as small-government, small-business conservatives.
  • We might even have a Hispanic candidate (Rubio) or a candidate who is not Hispanic but nevertheless gets heavy Hispanic support (Jeb Bush).
  • We probably won't have a perfectly timed, handy hurricane to make the incumbent look presidential (and the incumbent isn't running anyway).
  • And almost certainly, the economic situation will have gotten even worse than it is now, making it brutally clear that Obamunism doesn't work.

So let's stick to our principles and focus instead on recruiting better candidates... candidates who can be more believable and inspiring than Mitt Romney (or any of his competitors this election) when making the case against big government and big corporate, and for entrepeneurism, individual liberty, a muscular, pro-America foreign policy, and fiscal sanity.

It's still a winning platform; it just didn't win in this exceptional case.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2012, at the time of 3:09 AM | Comments (5)

November 5, 2012

Guide for the Nervous and Impatient Tomorrow Eve

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

What can we expect to see tomorrow night, that is, Tuesday the 6th of November, and succeeding days?

  1. The moment the polls close on the left coast, expect to see all the networks immediately "call" all of Barack Obama's states than can plausibly be called (New York, New Jersey, most of New England states, California, and so forth). But similarly situated Mitt Romney states will not be called at that time, regardless of how solid and insuperable seems his lead.

This will not be due to a mean-spirited or churlish refusal to announce the obvious, nor to a tendentious desire to trick voters into thinking Obama still has a chance; rather, it will be directly attributable to news organizations being utterly unable to believe that Romney could possibly win the election: "It can't be true, because it would be dreadful if it was true!" Election analysts will be too busy saying, "Really? No, really? Oh come on, not really!" to analyze the data and draw rational conclusions.

  1. As the night wears on, as networks are forced by fear of ridicule finally to begin calling the Romney states, their analysts will concoct byzantine scenarios by which Obama might still eke out a razor-thin win.

These scenarios will become increasingly divorced from reality -- e.g., "While it appears that Mr. Romney has won Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, the president still has a path to victory: He must win all the remaining toss-up states, wrest Montana, Arizona, Indiana, and Nebraska's second district away from the governor, then hope for a pair of faithless electors to return Obama for a second term. This election is volatile, we still have a chance!"

  1. When enough states have been called (however reluctantly) for Romney to ensure victory, many "mainstream" commentators (that is, revisionist radicals) will speak nervously of "uncharted waters" and "marching into the unknown;" they will proclaim that "the people pitched a tantrum yesterday," and suggest that the electoral college is outmoded, outrageous, and outlandish, and we should switch to a nationwide popular vote (not mentioning that Romney will have beaten Obama by six points there, too).

Post-election analysis will prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Mitt Romney's ads were all lies and half-orcs; that money played "a big role" in Romney's win; that Obama was defeated because "he spoke truth to power," and he will forever after be dubbed "the People's President," amid copious (and ominous) rumblings about stolen elections, corrupted voting machines, "civil resistance," YouTube videos, golden tablets and unaussprechlichen Kulten.

  1. Finally, the Obama campaign will announce on Thursday that in every state Mitt Romney won by three points or less, they have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results and declare President Obama the winner instead.

Obama will of course fail in his brazen attempt to sue his way back into la Casa Blanca; but in the process of catering to his narcissism and hubris, the SLAPP-happy lawyers will completely destroy the Democratic Party -- all of whose members will either convert to the GOP or else call for abandoning of the DP and erecting a new leftist party, called something uncontroversial, such as the Arabian Wine Middle Class Free-Stuff Fellowship Party.

Well, that's my scenario; and I'm stickin' with it... at least until Friday!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 5, 2012, at the time of 2:37 AM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2012

Dem Polls, Dem Polls...

Election Derelictions , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

I was skimming yesterday's AP story that confidently prophesies Barack Obama will cruise to a narrow victory in November, and I was arrested by two claims, shifty predictions on which it bases its conclusion:

President Barack Obama is poised to eke out a victory in the race for the 270 electoral votes needed to win re-election, having beaten back Republican Mitt Romney's attempts to convert momentum from the debates into support in all-important Ohio, according to an Associated Press analysis a week before Election Day....

Without Ohio's 18 electoral votes, Romney would need last-minute victories in nearly all the remaining up-for-grabs states and manage to pick off key states now leaning Obama's way, such as Iowa or Wisconsin.

I found both suppositions puzzling; is Obama really so far ahead in those three states that AP can declare victory now, even as momentum surges towards Mitt Romney? Or is the press organization just whistling past the gravy train? Let's take a look.

Start with Ohio. This 18-EV state is a biggie. It's more and more likely that Romney is going to win Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia; that would give him 248 electoral votes (which you can see by playing with RealClearPolitics' interactive electoral-college map).

Now toss in the Buckeye state. If Romney also wins Ohio, he will have 266 electoral votes (evs) of the 270 required, and every other "toss-up" state has at least 4 evs. So if Romney wins Ohio, Obama would have to "run the table" of all remaining toss-ups, else Romney wins. He could not afford to lose a single state.

As it's manifestly unlikely that Obama would lose Ohio but win every other toss-up, the president cannot allow Ohio to go to Romney in the first place. We used to say that, since Republicans have never won the presidency without winning Ohio, that makes Ohio a "must win" for the GOP. But in 2012, it's actually a must-win for Obama; Romney has many paths to victory that don't roll through Ohio, but Obama has only one: total victory everywhere else.

So let's take a look at the polling in Ohio. The RCP average is currently Obama + 2.1, well within the margin of error; but that includes the Democratic poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP). This poll is simply a joke. Its turnout model is D+8, meaning 8% more Democrats than Republicans (D - 43%, R - 35%, I - 21%), and it gives women an 8-point advantage as well. Just toss this one in the fiery furnace; the actual average is thus Obama + 1.9.

Additionally, the Ohio average includes the most recent Rasmussen poll, which shows a dead heat -- as do the most recent Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio News poll and the Suffolk poll (all had polling within the last week). Of the remaining six polls in the RCP average, four have Obama up by less than the margin of error (MoE) of each poll.

That leaves just two of them that show Obama ahead by more than the MoE: The CNN/Opinion Research poll (Obama + 4) and the Time Magazine poll (Obama + 5)... both of which have turnout models showing unreasonably large Democrat advantages.

The CNN poll has a turnout model of 35% Democratic, 33% Independent, and 32% Republican; these are self-reports from the respondents (I think Ohio doesn't have official party registration). CNN sees a D+3 turnout model -- and they come up with Obama + 4... hardly surprising.

But the Time poll just beats the cake. Its turnout model (page 26) predicts a Democrat advantage of plus 9! (D - 37%, I - 29%, R - 28%. The unweighted sample the pollsters obtained was even worse at plus 10.) That's even sillier than the PPP poll.

Bear in mind that in the 2008 election, Barack Obama only won Ohio by 5 points, 52 to 47. Does Time really believe that Obama is going to do just as well this year as four years ago? Yeesh!

In addition, they oversampled women (as did PPP) -- 47% male, 53% female; and they found a staggering gender gap of 10 points: Men favored Romney by 9 points, while women favored Obama by 19!

With a turnout model of D+9, the only surprise is that Obama is ahead only by five points. This poll is also clearly an outlier, in my opinion.

As a reality check, let's compare to the most recent statewide elections in Ohio. In 2010, Republican challenger John Kasich defeated incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland; while in the open-seat Senate race, Republican Rob Portman utterly crushed Democrat Lee Fisher by more than 18 percent... hard to square with a supposed D + 9 (or even D + 3) turnout just two years later.

So it seems a bit unreasonable, on its face, to assume that Democrats will outnumber Republicans by 9 points this year, or even 3, for that matter. If I had to guess, I'd say the turnout will be pretty even.

If we knock out the wonky Time poll and one of the polls where Obama and Romney are tied in Ohio (the "Bulgarian Olympics judge" rule, KOing the best and worst poll numbers), then the polling looks much dicier for the president; he is only ahead in Ohio by 1.5 points, not 1.9. Not only is that inside the MoE, it's easily inside the general Democratic poll-bias. More than likely, if the rest of the polling was more realistic about turnout, the polling average would show a tie or even an edge to Romney.

This hardly comports with AP's airy claim that Obama has "beaten back Republican Mitt Romney's attempts to convert momentum from the debates into support in all-important Ohio."

The debates started on October 3rd; in the week before the first debate, there were three polls, averaging Obama + 7 points. Now it's Obama + 1.9 (counting all the polls except the PPP Democratic poll); and if we toss the risible Time Magazing poll, it's Obama + 1.5. I'd say a five and a half point movement towards Mitt Romney qualifies as "converting momentum from the debates into support." Does anybody seriously dispute that, other than the DisAssociated Press?

It's clear that the momentum in Ohio is moving strongly towards Romney in the closing days, meaning he has an excellent chance of taking the state. So let's turn our attention to Wisconsin -- which AP also pooh-poohed as a potential Romney pickup.

Wisconsin polls -- all but one -- are likewise in a virtual dead heat, which means it will all depend upon turnout (unlike, say, California, where an Obama victory is predestined by God). And I believe that Romney's ground game will beat Obama's this year.

Measuring "enthusiasm" is tricky, because nearly everybody who expresses a preference for a candidate claims he is at least somewhat enthusiastic about said candidate; but that doesn't mean he will actually vote for the guy or gal. It's just the thing to say when someone asks you that stupid question.

There's really no good way to make an objective measurement before the fact; and after the fact, we will have the vote results themselves. But I don't think anyone in his right mind imagines that enthusiasm for reelecting Barack "Leading from behind" Obama will be anywhere near as high as it was the first time in 2008.

Since Romney's enthusiasm is huge and still growing, I see an excellent chance that Romney's "get out the vote" (GOTV) push will swamp Obama's. If that is true, then Romney will outperform his polling, while Obama will underperform his. In the case of Ohio and Wisconsin, that means Romney takes both states and is assured of being the next President of the United States.

But let's look at the Cheesy-Badger state polling in more depth. RCP has four polls up: Rasmussen has it a tie, Marquette University has it Obama + 1, and Mason-Dixon has it Obama + 2, all so close it's a statistical tie. The only bubbles in the swimming pool come from the Marist poll -- which incongruously has Obama up 6 points.

Is Marist an outlier? Let's take a look at the infernals. Marist's turnout model has D+5 (Independent 38%, Democrat 33%, Republican 28%). They don't give us cross-tabs; but we know that Mitt Romney is strongly winning independents and doing just about as well among GOP respondents as Obama is among Democrats, both nationally and in the swing states. That makes me highly skeptical that, with so many indies, Romney could possibly be so far behind.

Looking back to the most recent regular statewide elections, Republican Scott Walker beat Democrat Tom Barrett by five points, and Republican newcomer Ron Johnson beat long-time incumbent Russ Feingold, also by five points. That doesn't sound much like a deep-blue state, does it?

In any event, the Marist poll is clearly an outlier, because it's so out of whack with the other polls taken recently. In fact, out of whack with polls all the way back to the first debates, when the RCP Wisconsin average dropped from Obama + 11.5 just before the debates to Obama + 2.5 just after.

Finally, what about Iowa? Another swinger, the Trapper John state's polling is kind of all over the map: Two polls (Rasmussen and ARG) find a tie; WeAskAmerica finds Obama + 3; Gravis has Obama + 4; and PPP, a Democratic polling firm, actually finds Romney + 1, funnily enough. But the weirdest poll is, once again, Marist; despite having almost equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, they nevertheless find Obama to be up 8 points! It all adds up to an average of Obama + 2.3 -- still eminently possible.

I don't know what to make of the scattershot spread for the Hotlips Houlihan state; but applying the Bulgarian Olympics judge rule, we get an average of Obama + 1.8. Again, even a small enthusiasm advantage for Romney will turn Iowa into a victory. And for the reality check, in 2010, Republican challenger (and former governor) Terry Branstad pounded the incumbent Democratic Gov. Chet Culver by nearly 10 points; while long-time Republican incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley cruised to reelection against Democrat Roxanne Conlin (R + 30 -- yes, thirty points).

So much for "key states now leaning Obama's way, such as Iowa or Wisconsin;" they're only "leaning" in the most facile and technical sense, where one or two points is called a "lean" instead of a "toss-up." Each of these so-called leads can evaporate in the blink of a GOTV campaign.

The reality is that this election is "Romney's to lose" -- and let's hope he doesn't! If he can keep up the momentum he already has, then not only is Mitt Romney going to win, but he's going to win big... a lot bigger than Republicans are willing to suggest, and a lot bigger than Democrats are able to fathom.

Courage, Camille!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 29, 2012, at the time of 2:01 AM | Comments (3)

October 23, 2012

Best -- Headline -- Ever!

Blogomania , Election Derelictions , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

(Or at least, ever in this election cycle: Let's not be too lexiphanic -- just moderately lexiphanic.)

Via Jim Treacher at the Daily Caller, captioning the pettiness and small-ball into which the Obama campaign has sunk:

Big Bird, binders, and bayonets

...The succinctest!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 23, 2012, at the time of 3:42 PM | Comments (0)

Debate and Switch

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Korso

Around halfway through last night's debate, I turned to Mrs. Korso and said:

"ABC pre-empted Castle for this?"

That's not to say that the affaire de blah was a complete waste of time, but I have concluded that having Bob Schieffer moderate a presidential debate is like having your Great Uncle Morty deejay your daughter's sweet sixteen party: Sure he may work cheap, but by the time he spins "The Hokey Pokey" for the fifth time most of the guests will be beating a path to the door.

Well, at least the questions ol' Bobbo asked weren't quite as asinine as the gems Candy Crowley picked from her audience of "undecided" voters last week; but it does seem as if we reached the wheel-spinning stage of the debates, where not much new was said. In other words, as in the second debate, Barack Obama spent his time clawing to make up lost ground while Mitt Romney maintained his position as the credible alternative.

For his part, Obama thought this meant serving up more of the aggressive, condescending twaddle so beloved of the MSNBC crowd in the last debate. News flash, Barack: Only Clint Eastwood knows how to pull off a scowl like that, so stop trying. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, stayed above the fray -- and even if he didn't get in as many zingers as we red-meat right wingers would have liked, he definitely appeared the more presidential throughout. Such is the difference between kids and grown-ups.

So did the last debate make a difference? It's doubtful. The first debate was the only one that counted. In those ninety minutes, Mitt Romney demolished the caricature that the Obamans had spent months -- not to mention millions of dollars -- trying to build, and firmly cemented his image as a leader in the voters' minds. People who were looking for a reason to leave Obama finally got one. Now that they've crossed that line, it's highly unlikely that they'll go back.

Let's just hope that we got enough of them to make a landslide.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 23, 2012, at the time of 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

Debate III: Winners and Wieners

Election Derelictions , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

Everyone (even Democrats) roundly agrees that Mitt Romney trounced President Barack "Small ball" Obama in the debate -- the first debate, I mean. It's a no-brainer, one of several events that upended this presidential campaign. After the first debate, Mitt Romney gained in stature, in fundraising, and very strongly in the polls; he reversed the trend of a rising Obama virtually overnight and moved back to parity.

In the second presidential debate, most of the snap polls showed Obama had won; but the two focus groups whose results I saw, the Luntz group on Fox News and the MSNBC focus group, unambiguously showed Romney as the winner. As I wrote earlier, those whose business is necessarily adversarial -- meaning the Progressivist, activist press, political pundits, and even a smattering of conservative lawyers -- saw the second debate through very different eyes from the rest of the country:

Maybe attorneys tend to view a debate as they would a legal argument in court, scoring on specific points and authorities, on argument and who "wins" it, on who can best use objections to keep his opponent's evidence out of the record, and on who does the best job of submitting juror instructions that the judge accepts.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are looking for something very different: We want to see a candidate who can supply genuineness, sincerity, empathy, reassurance, a hopeful vision of the future, and a leaderly demeanor. We don't want glibness, aggression, or menacing body language; we're unimpressed by well-memorized talking points we've heard a hundred times before. We can taste defeatism and faux enthusiasm in a candidate the way you can taste overcooked barbecue even before you bite into it.

I suspect the laity look, more than anything, for nominees with a plan to get from here to there; one that is specific without drifting into the tall grass; plausible without sinking into logical lemmas and ponderous proofs; and gradual enough that we don't have to suffer radical dislocations and the upending of everything we believe into something foreign and frightening.

Watching the polls since then tells us "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey was wont to say; post-Debate II, Romney continued to rise in the polls, both national and the determinative state polls. So punditry, jounalism, instant polling, and grumpy lawers aside, we must conclude that Romney won the second presidential debate as well; it was then two to nothing, GOP leads.

This time, however, the signs aren't as clear as in the first debate; they're not even as clear as in the second: Snap polls show that Barack Obama won on "points;" in the Luntz focus group on Fox News channel after the debate, a little more than half of the panel thought that Barack Obama won that portion of the debate about foreign policy, the ostensible subject.

But hold on thar, Hoss; regardless of the listed subject matter, this debate was not about foreign policy. It was about the economy. How do we know? Because that's what the whole election is about, who can fix the economy and bring jobs back to America by getting the blasted, rent-seeking gummint out of the dadblamed way.

Foreign policy is vitally important... to about 3% of the electorate. The rest just want to be reassured that the candidates aren't idiots (Poland isn't dominated by the Soviet Union) or crackpates (let's bring home all our troops stationed abroad, line them up along the southern border, and have them link arms to stop all them Messakins sneakin in!) Show the voters that much -- reasonably bright, not obviously gibbering -- and they're satisfied enough to turn back to the real $16 trillion donkey in the dining room: the economy, stupid.

And guess what? The Luntz focus group also found that whenever Romney managed to drag the economy into the conversation, he won those portions of the debate, big time.

Bottom line, Paul Mirengoff was technically right that Romney was not "playing to win" the debate, but right for the wrong reason: Romney was playing to win the election instead.

That has been the core misunderstanding among both conservatives and liberals all along, though the moderate and undecided voters "got it" way back: Mitt Romney gamed these three debates brilliantly, moreso than did any other presidential candidate in the entire history of the "debate" era. He never intended to "win" any particular debate, if by win we mean rank higher on the judges' scorecards; he always intended to win the goldurned election. You know, the real goal.

That was where Obama made his critical mistakes in the second and third debates; he was persuaded that you win an election by winning the debates on points. Well, that and spending a Zeppelin-ful of money to convince voters that Romney was a rich, bloody-handed Koch-sucker.

Obama was misinformed.

So how do you win an election? Ultimately, by capturing the hearts and minds of the electorate -- for which you will surely need a number of resources, including money, campaign adverts, position pages, time spent personally campaigning, surrogates to plead your case, endorsements, and the fierce urgency of a ground game to get out the vote (GOTV).

Did I mention money? Yeah, Zeppelins-ful, on both sides, for a change. But Romney never took his eyes off the real goal: Not zinging your opponent in a nasty commercial, not a premature victory lap, and not winning debates by the crabbed rules of college debate teams... but being elected President of the United States of America.

Romney carefully painted a portrait of presidential bearing and gravitas, knowledge and wisdom, specificity and the political chops to carry it out, and the courage to point out that Emperor Obama has no clothes. Since that last clause was demonstrably true, the end result is -- well, not quite inevitable; it ain't over till the fat lady votes -- but extremely likely: Mitt Romney is going to win this election.

The presidential debates were part of that portrait, but only a part. They had a goal; they fulfilled that goal, and then some.

Romney's campaign by far out-organized the bewildered, flustered, inconstant, panicky, and now desperate Obama campaign. And that is why he's going to prevail on November 6th... and why he deserves it.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery (when they actually get around to approving it!)...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 23, 2012, at the time of 1:33 AM | Comments (1)

October 22, 2012

Republic, Hold the Banana

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Korso

You know things are going badly for Barack Hussein Obama and those Wascally Democwats when they start calling in the Blue Helmets:

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy 44 observers from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places. It's part of a broader observation mission that will send out an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries. Liberal-leaning civil rights groups met with representatives from the OSCE this week to raise their fears about what they say are systematic efforts to suppress minority voters likely to vote for President Obama.

Because everybody knows that when it comes to voter fraud, it's the Republican Party that's been standing in the way of needed reform. Oh, wait...

It should be telling to anyone with sight past his nose and a brain capable of operating on more than one-quarter impulse power that voter fraud tends to work primarily in the Democrats' favor. That's why they take such extraordinary pains to block measures aimed at decreasing the number of fraudulent ballots cast. Voter ID laws? Nah, don't need 'em. Purge the rolls of ineligible voters? That's racist. In places like Chicago where the Dem machine wields power like Al Capone swings a baseball bat, The Walking Dead is more than a TV show -- it's an actual demographic.

So it makes sense that the United Nations, what with its high moral standards and a membership that faithfully upholds the principles of freedom and liberty, should send observers in to make sure that the United States of America is conducting its election fairly. Perhaps Jimmah Carter could lend a hand -- assuming he's not to busy lavishing praise on Hugo Chavez over his recent "re-election" as el jefe of Venezuela.

Boys and girls, what we're really seeing here is a sneak preview of how the Democrats are going to litigate the election should Wacky Baracky lose by a slim margin. All of this U.N. observer stuff is simply them putting their chess pieces into place. The only way we're going to avoid turning this whole thing into a reality show version of Woody Allen in Bananas is if the good guys win by a decisive margin -- dead voters notwithstanding.

So if you're an American citizen, if you have no felony record, and if you have a pulse, please consider voting Mitt Romney. Your nation is depending on you.

I'm Korso, and I approved this message.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 22, 2012, at the time of 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2012

Obama's October (yawn) Surprise?

Election Derelictions , Libyan Ludicrities , Military Machinations , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

The "October surprise" is a favorite tactic of the Left; because they see a presidential campaign as a game to be won by any means necessary -- vice Republicans, who see it as an opportunity to highlight differences in philosophy and policy between the two major parties -- they naturally gravitate to the eleventh-hour punch at the candidate of the Right, whether he is incumbent or challenger, as the linked Wikipedia article demonstrates.

During George W. Bush's reelection, Democrats dropped the "bombshell" that munitions were allegedly looted from al Qa'qaa, supposedly under American control (October 27th, 2004); although it turned out to be false, it likely made Bush's victory smaller. Four years earlier, the October surprise (OS) was the revelation by Algore's campaign that Bush was arrested for drunk driving twenty-four years earlier (last week before the 2000 election).

Bill Clinton sought endlessly for an OS in 1996; he pushed for a peace treaty in Bosnia, an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, and finally, in desperation, a massive sting against the Russian Mafia in the United States. Four years earlier in 1992, when Clinton was running for his first term, leftist Democratic "Independent" Counsel Lawrence Walsh saw fit to announce the indictment against George H.W. Bush's Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, just four days before the 1992 election! (Even more obvious: The grand jury had actually indicted Weinberger four months earlier; Walsh sat on the indictment until the week before the election. Subtle, Larry.)

Michael Dukakis didn't manage to pull off any OSs, and he lost. (To be fair, I think he would have been walloped just as hard even if he had produced one.) Finally, back in 1980, President Jimmy Carter tried desperately to forge a last-minute deal with the Ayatollah Khomeini and his wild-eyed mullahs to release the American hostages from Iran before the election. The deal fell through... then when the Iranians released the hostages the very day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the Left was so enraged it immediately accused Reagan of having concocted a "secret deal" to keep the hostage in custody until after the election -- likely the most bizarre and vile accusation ever leveled after a presidential campaign had already lost. (Much more plausibly, the Iranians were (a) more afraid of Reagan than Carter, and (b) wanted to take revenge for Carter's failed attempt to rescue the hostages by force in April, 1980.)

Barack Obama himself received the best of all "October surprises" in September, 2008, with the economic meltdown -- inadvertently served up to him on a golden platter by a cohort of liberal Democrats, via their legislation and regulation that effectively forced banks and S&Ls to lend money to poor people who could not possibly meet the payments.

So what's Obama's OS going to be this year? I think the odds are darn near 100% that his campaign is cooking up something (or has already set something in motion).

More and more "pundants" have suggested that the president's "October surprise" is going to be some kind of assault on Libya, to retaliate for the assassination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy personnel.

This could easily happen; it's entirely in the hands of the Commander in Chief to order such an attack, at a time of his choosing. However, the most likely vehicle for this attack is -- a drone with a Hellfire missile, or maybe several. Such a remote attack, just one more in a long line of dubious drone attacks on purported high-value targets, would hardly change the dynamic of the race; in fact, it would lay the Obama campaign wide open to ridicule for having "fired a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt." Only a real assault, at least a successful raid with boots on the ground, could possibly be dramatic enough even to get a few minutes of airtime on the network news.

The only way that boots would hit the ground would be one of two possible scenarios:

  1. If the administration could (a) definitely prove who was responsible for the attack, and (b) demonstrate that said person or persons was/were still in Libya, and (c) positively determine exactly where they were, and (d) convince Barack "Third time's the charm" Obama that the targets were in a vulnerable place, so we wouldn't lose any troops at all. Only then would he have the huevos to send in some Special Forces to take out the bad guys. Unless...
  2. Unless, in the alternative scenario, Obama becomes utterly desperate. Even if the administration knows none of the above, they might nevertheless send in the SF to attack something, anything, any target randomly selected by the administration. The assault in this case would be without regard to any military objective; it would be purely as political stunt to show Obama's "resolve."

The actual result would be irrelevant, so long as the assault came just a few days before the election: just long enough for Obama to spin it as a historic victory (even if it meant lying, a prospect that evidently holds no existential terror for the president), but not long enough for Mitt Romney's campaign to unearth the reality and bring it before the American people.

It takes a lot less time to trumpet a victorious Obama "winning the war against terrorism" (I mean against "man-caused disaster") than it takes for voters to discover the truth, readjust their conclusions, and realize how they have been duped by the master debater. If the Obamunists time it just right, they might well get a five-point bump in the polls that drops to a three-point bump on election day... just as it happened in George W. Bush's first presidential campaign. That one resulted in the gut-biting tie in Florida.

In this year's potential October surprise, the attack would be timed to occur sometime in the last week before the vote -- say Thursday, November 1st, at about five o'clock PM New York time, for maximal live-feed ratings impact. (They would do it closer to the election, except they need several days for people to start thinking Obama is a great wartime leader, but they can't rely on coverage over the weekend when people are out doing their own things.)

Commercials touting Obama's historic victory over al-Qaeda ("It's D-Day all over again!") would hit the airwaves just a few hours after the assault.

Would such an absurdity work? My own opinion is: No, it would not. In fact, I expect we'd see a massive backlash against such shameless politicking of war. But we'll see.

It's possible that if Obama can't get actionable intel, the administration and the permanent campaign might be too afraid to pull the trigger, fretting that it'll be like Geraldo Rivera drilling open Al Capone's vault: We go charging in, live on camera, only to find nobody home (except a camel with a convenient butt); and our troops -- and by extension the Commander in Chief -- end up looking foolish, with egg dripping from their faces.

So, having neatly set up my prediction so that I'll be right whether he does or doesn't pull off an October surprise, your ivory-headed correspondent retires to his villa compound to await confirmation, if not coronation.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 15, 2012, at the time of 6:01 PM | Comments (1)

October 11, 2012

The Victory of the Normal

Dancing Democrats , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

John Hinderaker -- my favorite blogger on my favorite blog -- was crushed by what he sees as Paul Ryan's "weak and submissive" debate performance:

I thought Paul Ryan’s performance was highly disappointing. He came across as weak and submissive. There were many opportunities for him to turn to Biden and say, “Joe: shut up! It’s my turn.” But he never did it. I can’t imagine why. Maybe Ryan and his advisers thought Biden would come off poorly because he was such a jerk, but this strikes me as a poor strategy. No one votes for a presidential ticket out of sympathy.

Frankly, I expected much more from Ryan, and he let us down.

Whaddya mean "we" Rocket Man?

Did anybody here really want to see Mad Dog Paul in the Veepbate? I know I'm awfully glad he didn't turn the debate into a steel-cage smugfest. What I saw was a candidate for Vice President debating in the normal way that such candidates always used to debate... until the Left, starting in the 2000 election, developed the delusion that Democrat domination of government was an entitlement program, like Medicare, Social Security, or crony kickbacks from green energy.

For the entirety of the third millennium, Democrats have acted as if the levers of power are theirs by divine right (provided we allow the worship of socialism to count as "divine"). When they lose, they wail, gnash their teeth, and set up a yowling that can be heard all the way to the dog star Sirius, notwithstanding the eight and a half lightyears of hard vacuum in between. The safest prediction a "pundant" could make would be that, when Barack "Video victim" Obama loses the November vote, he will immediately commence re-litigating the election... in federal court.

Paul Ryan represents the "normal style" of candidates running for high office: They have deeply held core beliefs, from which they generate policies, present them to voters, and argue that their ideas, policies, and leadership are better than their opponents'. Under the normal style in American politics, after the election, voters generally accept the outcome and consider the election to have been legitmate. Citizens, even those who opposed the winners and voted for the losers, can nevertheless come together to try to help the new government going forward; because they believe that regardless of political differences, all candidates are acting in good faith and sincerely want America to succeed.

But since the 2000 contest, we have increasingly seen, not the "paranoid style" (as Richard Hofstadter put it in 1964) but the Apocalyptic style in American politics: Democrats, liberals, and the leftover Left cast every election as Armageddon, the final battle betwixt the forces of Ultimate Evil (the "extreme, radical Right") and those of Pure Good (take a wild guess). It is an existential, all-or-nothing struggle that is so vital, so infused with the fierce urgency of Now, that it can never end unless the Left utterly conquers the world.

Small wonder they get on so well with radical Islamists!

The Left must win every vote, every debate, every exchange of "mal mots" on cable TV, no matter how trivial; else it's irrefutable evidence of corruption and skulduggery so monstrous that investigation by a United Nations committee is the very least that should be undertaken.

(Barack Obama is the ne plus ultra of that trend; he has achieved apotheosis, and a new religion of Obamunism has sprung up among his enthused acolytes. Who but a god could promise the cool the Earth and quiet the waters, and a host of other such vows? Who but a little tin god with feet of clay could so cavalierly break all of his pledges without a scintilla of shame?)

Tonight, the Normal Style fought the Apocalyptic Style... to mixed results. On the plus side, despite Joe Biden's 316 years in the U.S. Senate, Paul Ryan easily held his own against the Delaware Dirt-Devil. My gut reaction was that Ryan won by a nose, on points; this was confirmed by the CNN snap-poll that showed Ryan winning 48 to 44.

On the minus side, he merely held his own; Ryan was unable to do to Biden what his principal, Mitt Romney, did to President Obama.

But what if Paul Ryan had taken Hinderaker's advice and gone after Biden hammer and tooth? Might he have won more decisively? Perhaps, but probably not: Being an ambulatory incendiary is Joe Biden's holy calling; it would be tough to outsnide, outsmirk, and outboor a man so perfectly bred to the task. (No matter how learned and clever you are, you'll never outstink a skunk.)

But even if Ryan rose -- all right, plummeted -- to the challenge, the real losers would be the American people... because the Apocalyptic Style would score a default judgment, having coöpted both Left and Right into amoral self-immolation; and the war of all against all would win by technicality. (The Left's favorite way!)

Instead, the American people were reminded that it doesn't have to be this way. They were jolted into remembering that political campaigns and national elections used to be intellectual choices between two futures, often starkly different but nevertheless comprehensible. (As opposed to racking up ten of trillions of dollars in debt, impoverishing the nation, emasculating the military, socializing medical care, and accelerating Obama's determination to lead from behind by pronunciamento, diktat, and decree.)

By not pulling a Howitzer out of his pants and cannonizing Biden, Ryan may have failed to annihilate the enemy tribe; but he did save us from the bestial specter of tribalism. And I count that as a very significant battlefield victory in the ongoing holy war of the Normal against the Apocalypse.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 11, 2012, at the time of 11:50 PM | Comments (1)

September 24, 2012

Slip Of State

Election Derelictions , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

Slip of State

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2012, at the time of 1:44 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2012

Story Wars, Chapter Two

Election Derelictions , Libyan Ludicrities , Nile Nuttery , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

For reasons which remain obvious, the reelection campaign of Barack "I actually believe in redistribution" Obama has turned the tragic, humiliatingly successful attacks against our Cairo embassy and the Benghazi consulate into a week-long "squirrel!" distraction from the parlous state of Obama's economy.

Not that the Permanent Campaign really wants to discuss al-Qaeda overrunning two diplomatic missions, tearing down and burning our American flags, murdering Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats, and raising the black flag of radical Islamism in their place; no, never that discussion, the Prophet Mohammed forbid! The totality the Obamunists want to focus on, and the only story that their media-arm "presstitutes" vigorously flog, is the risible and tendentious meme that the real loser here is Mitt Romney.

Democrats in full scream denounce and repudiate (but fail to refute) Romney's post-attack statements -- variously described by the fourth estate fifth column as "gaffes," "divisive," "unprecedented," "the end of Romney's campaign," and "Romney's worst week ever" -- as insufficiently sensitive to our peace-loving allies in Islamist Egypt and Islamist Libya, and in blatant violation of a longstanding rule of civil discourse the Left just discovered: Presidential challengers shalt not criticize the incumbent's foreign policy in an election year.

All right, I'll bite: Let's take a look at those statements... all of them.

I take for my source that redoubt of right-wing rodomontade, the New York Times, which helpfully collected the colloquy of competing condemnations and complaints, from nine hours before the Cairo embassy was "breeched" until a day or so after. We shall start at the beginning and push on through the batch!

Here is the first infamous statement issued by the Cairo embassy, before the attack on the embassy, but after hysteria had already risen about the "movie that mocked the Prophet Mohammed" (obviously, as the statement refers to both movie and how it "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.") Nota Bene: Assume all emphasis in any of these statements is added by me, unless otherwise instructed:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

And here is a very important restatement issued (via Twitter) by the same Cairo embassy, but this time after the attacks had begun at "midafternoon", and more than twelve hours after the first statement above; as a timeline check, note that the embassy refers to the "unjustified breach of the Embassy" (This is one of a series of similar tweets that the embassy or the State Department quickly deleted.):

This morning's condemnation (issued before protest began) still stands. As does our condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy

(For the record, "this morning's condemnation" could only have referred to this sentence in the original statement: The embassy "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions." Those are the only two things the original message condemned.)

Allow me to analyze the text:

  • The first sentence condemns those who would "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."
  • The next chunk notes that we honor our patriots (how sweet).
  • Then the statement reiterates "respect for religious beliefs" (yatta yatta).
  • Finally, it rejects speech that "hurt[s] the religious beliefs of others," additionally adding the gratuitous conclusion that speech that hurts "feelings" or "beliefs" actually "abuses the universal right of free speech," which, one concludes, only protects speech to which nobody objects.

That is, the initial statement unquestionably sympathized with the "hurt" felt by Moslems and condemned anyone who said, wrote, or produced anything that might hut Moslem feelings. And the follow-up tweet "stand[s] by" that first missive, thus continuing to sympathize with those who had, by then, savagely attacked us. Remember this point, that the embassy stuck to its guns on its original, protester-sympathetic statement; it becomes a vital issue later.

My first observation: Wow, such a forceful reply to burning, sacking, and murder; we condemn it!

My second: Not one word defending freedom of speech in either of these two official statements, none; only a mewling apology for... what? For not censoring those videomakers, as is universal in Islamic countries?

When an American embassy leads off by condemning American citizens and residents for exercising their freedom of speech -- and then stands by that denunciation, even after rampaging jihadis attack that same embassy plus a consulate, murder four Americans including the Ambassador to Libya, and raise their own bloody, black terrorist flag over the conquered territory, the sanity gap is... breathtaking. Obamunists live in an alternative universe.

That the statements contain not one word about our sacred freedom of speech is hardly surprising: While the hard-Left of the 1930s and 40s had no difficulty vigorously defending the fundamental rights, liberties, and freedoms protected by the Constitution, today's "Progressivists" comprise only the Left of hate-speech codes; of political correctness and sensitivity training; of forced recantation of heretical doctrine and reeducation camps; the Left of argument by intimidation, deceit, and thuggish assault; of "SLAPPs" (strategic lawsuits against public participation) and other forms of lawfare; of government censorship, consent decrees that include a code of silence, and every form of suppression of inconvenient speech they can possibly get away with. And all to silence what Tim Leary used to call "injudicious use of the First Amendment."

Does hurting people's feelings or beliefs really "abuse" the freedom of speech? Anyone who believes it does needs a refresher course in early American history! As the Founding Fathers argued, the only kind of speech that needs protection is unpopular speech; popular speech needs none, because popularity itself confers the protection of numbers.

Besides, as even the least observant observer observes, the cheapest emotions in the world are indignation, outrage, hatred, and fury. Many people can go from zero to six million on the Rage-O-Meter just because somebody took a parking place the irate driver had his eye on. Were we to hand over our freedoms to any old fool who takes offense; were we restrained from expressing any creed that might hurt someone's feelings or beliefs; were the government to prevent us from speaking anything that a listener (seen or unseen) considers "hate speech," then however noble the intent of that government (though nobility is rarely the reason for such censorship), we would have no freedom of speech left whatsoever. For "freedom of speech" is precisely the liberty to say that which pisses off other people.

Yes, even including Moslems.

One would expect that elected or confirmed federal officials, of all people, would understand and defend such liberty; first, they take an oath to do so; second, that freedom has been used incessantly to good effect in this country, from the American revolution, to the abolitionist movement, to the marches and speeches against segregation, to Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire," to George W. Bush calling Iran, Iraq, and North Korea the "axis of evil." Despite the fact that everybody on the other side of such speech was (or professed to be) outraged, upset, shocked, shocked, nauseated, and infuriated that free speech could be so abused. Should we have censored Patrick Henry and smothered Martin Luther King, jr., just because lobsterbacks and Klansmen were offended?

Enough, let us move on. Three and a half hours after the tweet (and there were others, deleted by the State Department before the Times could archive them), Hillary Clinton issued her first pronunciamento:

I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.

This evening, I called Libyan President Magariaf to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya. President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government’s full cooperation.

Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide.

All right, but how deep is Hillary Clinton's commitment to tolerance of speech that offends her and her boss? Her declaration tells us little we didn't already know:

  • We now discover that the State Department doesn't believe that an anti-Moslem video justifies attacking embassies and murdering ambassadors. (Thank heaven for small favors!)
  • And once again, we sympathize with Moslems everywhere, who suffered such a crushing blow to their self esteem by learning that not everybody loves the Prophet Mohammed.

  • Finally, and let me be clear, we deplore violence.

Anybody notice what is still missing from this series of official responses, both before and after the bestial and unlawful attacks?

Two minutes later, the Department of Hillary summarily rejects the original embassy response, throwing Ambassador to Egypt Anne W. Patterson under the bus (along with her acting comandante, not sure who that was, since she was in Washington DC at the time of the attacks):

The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government.

Finally, and for the first time (a quarter hour after the Hillary manifesto and about seven hours after the attacks), Gov. Mitt Romney offers his own reaction and thoughts about the official governmental responses to this point:

I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

The Left immediately assailed Romney on three grounds:

  1. That he had no right to jump into this imbroglio because that would "politicize" it.
  2. On the spurious and unproven grounds that Romney had "confused the timeline" by foolishly thinking that the initial embassy response occurred after the attacks.
  3. And because, claims the Left, accusing Obama and minions of sympathizing with those who attack us is a vicious, racist lie! Romney's name should instantly be removed from every ballot on all fifty-seven states, allowing Barack "You didn't build that" Obama to win the way he normally wins his elections... by default!

On the first, here is Ben LaBolt, the Mouth of Barack, trying to pound home the first meme less than two hours later, that a presidential challenger has no right to criticize the president's political statements because doing so would politicize them:

We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America isconfronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya,Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.

I'm shocked, shocked to find that politics is going on in here! So what was LaBolt's own statement, chopped liver? Don't be a dolt: Accusing your opponent of playing politics is itself playing politics.

Never in the modern era have we seen a more politicized presidency than the one we suffer through right now. I marvel at the chutzpah LaBolt required to accuse anyone else of "launch[ing] a political attack!" I reckon he didn't want a crisis to go to waste. We can dispense with the absurdity of the pot calling... oh dear, I don't want to be accused of racism, so I'll just stifle my freedom of speech. (See how well it works?)

All right, but what about the second prong of the attack on Romney? Didn't he confuse the timeline? Isn't he just another fulminating, redfaced, rage-filled, cement-headed, racist rightwinger?

The charge that Romney was just too stupid to know (or too dishonest to admit) that the attacks hadn't occurred yet when the Cairo embassy released its first statement critically depends upon one completely hidden assumption: The Left must assume that Romney had not seen the several follow-up tweets that came after the attacks, where the embassy "stands by" its earlier kowtowing to Moslem sensitivity.

But why wouldn't he have? Many hours had passed between the original embassy statement, the attacks, and Romney's first response. He has a very large and well-funded campaign; and the tweets themselves were known by news agencies -- again obviously, as several of them still exist, even after the State Department deleted them: People knew about the tweets and had saved them.

Let's assume that in the seven hours or so between the attacks and Romney's response, he wasn't just sitting on a treestump, silent as the Sphinx. Let's assume the GOP nominee was actually talking about the most urgent and shocking news story of the day.

Is that so farfetched? How unreasonable is it that Mitt Romney, angered by that first embassy response, asked his staff whether there was any other statement or pronouncement responding to the developing international incident? How unthinkable is it really that some member of his crack staff put the tweets in Romney's hand and said, "take a look at these, governor."

I can easily imagine the conversation -- because I went through pretty much the same conversation with my wife Sachi at about the same time:

ROMNEY: Wait -- when were these tweets sent?

STAFFER: Six-thirty p.m. Eastern time, sir.

ROMNEY: But that's three hours after the attacks! They're still feeling sorry for those poor, put-upon terrorists, even after the attacks? And what's this bit here, that expressing a view that offends Moslems is an abuse of freedom of speech? What lunatic wrote this?

STAFFER: Governor, this statement from the State Department just came in...

ROMNEY: Great leaping horny toads -- what does Hillary Clinton mean when she says we "deplore any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others?" Iran says Jews should be exterminated; Hamas calls Jews and Christians "pigs and monkeys," and demands that the U.N. enact an anti-blasphemy law; and the ACLU, great pals of President Obama, are busy in court trying to prevent the display of the "miracle cross" from the World Trade Centers, because God unconstitutionally fused two pieces of metal together! This is insane. This is nothing like what George W. Bush said when he stood on the rubble at ground zero. This administration is a pack of howling jackals! And I'm going to let them know just what I think of such unAmerican bowing and scraping.

The Romney statement could have followed immediately thereafter -- greaty toned down, of course.

But what about the third attack, that it's a damned lie to claim that the government "sympathized" with the radical Islamists? Here is my neat and sweet, three-point syllogism refudiating the Progressivist position on this exchange:

  1. Count how many times the official administration responses defended our fundamental freedom of speech.
  2. Count how many times, how many lines, how many paragraphs, and the percent of these government responses taken up with blanket, codependent reassurances issued to radical Islamists that we feel their pain, that we're appalled that Americans would "abuse" the freedom of speech in such an unconstitutional way: insulting the Prophet Mohammed, of all things!

  3. Contrast and compare: Between those wicked and despicable free-speechers on the right hand and the blood-gutted, human-sacrificing terrorists on the left -- and using only the textual evidence before us -- which side has all of the administration's sympathy? Which side gets the "poor babies," and which gets the back of Obama's hand?

I rest my case: Romney had the bastards pegged.

(If you're still confused about where our government's sympathies lie, just read this breaking Yahoo News story about our tax dollars hard at work... airing an advert in Pakistan reassuring Moslems that we really, really, really don't believe in freedom of speech, and we're extremely concerned for the feelings of jihadists, so please, please, don't kill us!)

Early the next morning, Barack "Too busy with Letterman to meet with Netanyahu" Obama issued his own statement; it was entirely trivial, uninformative, perfunctory. Here is the only sentence that pertains to the question at hand:

While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.

Senseless? Really? Al-Qaeda, defeated by "the previous administration," has been resuscitated by the current one. They launched a series of astonishingly successful attacks, killed our people, raised their own flag and burned ours, and generally demonstrated their prowess and fitness to rule the ummah. Makes a heck of a lot of sense from their perspective!

We have one last document to document. Just to make it super-duper clear, this is Mitt Romney's second response, the next morning. Note that what was missing from all of the official government statements is present, loud and clear, in the ringing words of the next President of the United States.

I shall put the entire Romney release under the "Slither on;" here I post only those portions of his televised speech that pertain to what the government forgot, on every possible occasion, to do: make the case for a general right to freedom of speech for everyone, even those living in Moslem countries.

Mitt Romeny makes it crystal clear in this statement what he only implied in his first statement: The Cairo embassy, on its twitter feed, stood by its first apology for freedom of speech at 6:30 pm EDT. Therefore, they effectively issued the same statement twice, once before the attacks and once after them. Romney was outraged by that second statement, the "ditto" declaration. And it was that reiteration, that standing by, that prompted the governor to state, four hours later, that it was "disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

When he made his statement, the embassy had already been attacked -- and had already reaffirmed its initial apology. That is the context in which Romney first sent a statement, then later gave a press conference. Romney and the rest of us already knew that our embassies had been attacked, and anybody following the twitter feed already knew that the embassy was still apologizing for American values even after being attacked and overrun, and after the attack on its sister consulate in Libya turned murderous.

Never forget that. The Left wants us to believe that the Cairo embassy had no idea what was going to happen when they idiotically denigrated freedom of speech. But they did it again after the attacks, so they have no excuse whatsoever.

Here is Romney's presser, beginning with a small portion of his prepared remarks:

America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We'll defend, also, our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.

I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington, and that reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.

In the Q&A that followed (unlike Obama, Romney welcomes questions; he even welcomes them from those in the news biz who sincerely want to see Romney lose):

Q: The statement you refer to was very -- (inaudible) -- last night -- (inaudible) -- given what we know now?

MR. ROMNEY: I -- the embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it's a terrible course to -- for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course.

Q: Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded overnight, it was appropriate to be weighing in on this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?

MR. ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate, they were the wrong course to take. When our embassy is -- has been breached by protesters, the first response should not be to say, yes, we stand by our comments that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech....

Q: Governor, some people are saying you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early, before we learned about all the things that were happening?

MR. ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America. Simply put, having an embassy which is -- has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, having violated the sovereignty of the United States -- having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration.

Sure, it's not Tom Paine or Thomas Jefferson; but for a contemporary politician embroiled in a hot race for the presidency -- which both Gallup and Rasmussen polls today show to be neck and neck -- it's a bold, spirited, unapologetic, and forthright celebration of our greatest freedom. Mitt Romney thinks like a real American, while Barack "Citizen of the world" Obama thinks like an anticolonial Progressivist who has never been sure whether he loves his country or despises it to the bone.

(Much like how the president feels about his biological progenitor: Abandoned by the man himself, Obama wraps himself in a self-generated fantasy -- dreams from his father, dreams from his country, an obsessed fan longing for love with a fictional TV character.)

But back to the point. Mitt Romney's heartfelt response to the administration's tepid condemnation of the attacks, and his outrage at the complete absence of any defense of freedom of speech (in fact, a tacit renunciation of such freedoms, now shackled by the "Tender Sensibilities of Moslems" exception), was clearly the best and most appropriate possible thing he could say anent the craven surrender by the Obamunists.

Several more attacks against the United States have been carried out in Yemen, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, and now China; yet even the pro-forma denunciations of violence against America have been dropped, presumably because the administration concludes that denial of the new attacks is more tenable at this point than an explanation of the administration's own foreign-policy and security failures.

What concrete steps have we actually taken to find and punish the Libyan killers, and those Egyptians who so easily overran our actual embassy in Cairo? How are we responding to the new attacks on Americans and on America itself? China and Japan are in a tussle over what the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands and purchased them from its previous owner, the Kurihara family. China calls them the Diaoyu Islands; and since oil was discovered under the islands in 1968, the People's Republic of China demands they be seized from Japan and handed over to China.

Naturally, anti-Japanese protesters in China see this as the perfect opportunity to attack the American ambassador -- because we're allied with Japan, and because one of the islands (Kuba, no relation to Castro's paradise) is used as an American bombing range. For the PRC, snatching away the islands, which have been controlled by Japan or by the United States since 1895 and never by China, would be a "two-fer": Red China would get the oil and would be able to drive the U.S. Navy out of part of what China considers its hemisphere.

Why is Red China so bold as to threaten us and Japan over the sale this month? Because we are weak. America is weaker today than it has been in many, many decades; and the ease and impugnity of these attacks on our embassies (American sovereign territory -- once) and allies proves it. One would probably have to return to the mass American disarmament following World War I to find a moment when we were more ill prepared to defend ourselves, our property, our international rights, and our ideology of liberty.

Barack H. Obama has brought hope and change, all right: He has given our enemies hope and changed America from the final remaining superpower to a global laughingstock which cannot even fight back when attacked, so thoroughly has he gelded us. It's now a serious question whether we can man-up enough to fire the wretched redistributionist; or whether so many Americans have become court eunuchs, depending upon the government for their very sustenance, that a once proud nation now whines under the triple leash of Russia, China, and radical Islamism.

We shall find out how strong those leashes are on November 6th.

Here is the transcript of Mitt Romney's full remarks (truncated at the beginning, as for some reason the feed didn't begin right away):

…. with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corps were brutally murdered across the world.

This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous. It's disgusting. It -- it breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served during their lives the cause of freedom and justice and honor. We mourn their loss and join together in prayer that the spirit of the Almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so brutally slain.

Four diplomats lost their life, including the U.S. ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya. And of course, with these words, I extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones who have left behind as a result of these who have lost their lives in the service of our nation. And I know that the people across America are grateful for their service, and we mourn their sacrifice.

America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We'll defend, also, our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.

I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington, and that reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.

The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, America cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don't spin out of control. We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests.

Over the last several years we stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region but also poses the potential for peril if the voices -- forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events. We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring does not become an Arab winter.

Q: The statement you refer to was very -- (inaudible) -- last night -- (inaudible) -- given what we know now?

MR. ROMNEY: I -- the embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it's a terrible course to -- for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course.

Q: Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded overnight, it was appropriate to be weighing in on this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?

MR. ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate, they were the wrong course to take. When our embassy is -- has been breached by protesters, the first response should not be to say, yes, we stand by our comments that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech.

Q: So what did the White House do wrong then, Governor Romney, if they -- if they put out a statement saying --

MR. ROMNEY: It's their administration -- their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth but also from the words that come from his ambassadors, from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department. They clearly -- they clearly sent mixed messages to the world. And -- and the statement that came from the administration -- and the embassy is the administration -- the statement that came from the administration was a -- was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a -- a -- a severe miscalculation.

Q: Governor, some --

Q: Talk about mixed signals -- (inaudible) -- itself a mixed signal when you criticize the administration at a time -- (inaudible)?

MR. ROMNEY: We're -- we have a campaign for presidency of the United States and are speaking about the different courses we would each take with regards to the challenges that the world faces. The president and I, for instance, have differences of opinion with regards to Israel and our policies there, with regards to Iran, with regards to Afghanistan, with regards to Syria. We have many places of distinction and differences.

We joined together in the condemnation of the attacks on American embassies and the loss of American life and joined in the sympathy for these people. But it's also important for me -- just as it was for the White House last night, by the way -- to say that the statements were inappropriate and, in my view, a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.

Q: Governor, some people are saying you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early, before we learned about all the things that were happening?

MR. ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America. Simply put, having an embassy which is -- has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, having violated the sovereignty of the United States -- having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration.

STAFF: Last question.

Q: If you had known last night that the ambassador had died -- and obviously, I'm gathering you did not know --

MR. ROMNEY: Well, that came -- that came later.

Q: That's right. If you had known that the ambassador had died, would you have issued --

MR. ROMNEY: I'm not going -- I'm not going to take hypotheticals about what would have been known when and so forth.

We responded last night to the events that happened in Egypt.

Q: Governor, what sort of --

Q: Governor Romney, your -- one of your professed reasons for running is your economic know-how and your private sector experience. But now that foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East -- (off mic) -- the presidential campaign, can you talk about why, specifically, you think you're better qualified than President Obama -- (off mic)?

MR. ROMNEY: I think President Obama has demonstrated a lack of clarity as to a foreign policy. My foreign policy has three fundamental branches: first, confidence in our cause, a recognition that the principles America was based upon are not something we shrink from or apologize for, that we stand for those principles; the second is clarity in our purpose, which is that when we have a foreign policy objective, we describe it honestly and clearly to the American people, to Congress and to the people of the world; and number three is resolve in our might, that in those rare circumstances, those rare circumstances where we decide it's essential for us to apply military might, that we do so with overwhelming force, that we do so in the clarity of a mission, understanding the nature of the U.S. interest involved, understanding when the mission would be complete, what will be left when it is -- what will be left behind us when that mission has been -- has been terminated.

These elements, I believe, are essential to our foreign policy, and I haven't seen them from the president. As I watched -- as I've watched over the past three and a half years, the president has had some successes. He's had some failures. It's a hit-or-miss approach, but it has not been based upon sound foreign policy.

Q: Governor Romney, how, specifically -- how, specifically, Governor Romney, would President Romney have handled this situation differently than President Obama did? Before midnight, when all the facts were known? How would you have handled it differently than the president did?

MR. ROMNEY: I spoke out when the key fact that I referred to was known, which was that the Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles. That was a mistake. And I believe that when a mistake is made of that significance, you speak out.

Thank you.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 21, 2012, at the time of 4:11 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2012

Story Wars, Chapter One

Election Derelictions , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Word on the street is that Leon Panetta, the hyperpartisan Democratic representative now inexplicably elevated by Barack "You didn't build that" Obama to Secretary of Defense (i.e., America's penultimate military official), is beside himself with rage at the publication of a book by a former US Navy SEAL, Matt Bissonnette (writing under the pseudonym of "Mark Owen"). Panetta has made it quite clear that he's going to drop the hammer on "Owen":

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is suggesting that a retired Navy SEAL be punished for writing a book giving an insider's account of the U.S. raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Asked in a network interview if he thinks the writer should be prosecuted, Panetta replied, "I think we have to take steps to make clear to him and to the American people that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior."


Yet it's interesting that Panetta is still not willing to state with authority that "Owen" revealed any classified information whatsoever in the book; the Pentagon is still "reviewing" the situation. Either Panetta and his brass band are inordinately slow readers; or they've already read the dang book twice through, yet still can't find anything in it that shouldn't be. But they're certain that increasingly crabbed and narrow scrutiny will reveal something, anything, to justify prosecution!

The secretary stopped short of accusing the author of revealing classified information, but said Pentagon officials "are currently reviewing that book to determine exactly, you know, what is classified and what isn't, and where those lines are."

(Note that the AP news story charmingly -- or tendentiously -- refuses to print the title of the book: No Easy Day, if you're curious and want to read it yourself. I cannot recall similar MSM reticence and respect for the military's, or at least the Pentagon's tender sensibilities since... well, since the last time a whistleblower blew the whistle on a Democratic president.)

But the most Alice In Wonderland feature of this bizarre brouhaha is that we do have a public figure who has revealed reams, bushels, boxcars of undisputed, highly classified intelligence about this very same raid. And that incontinent leaker is of course Leon Panetta's boss: Barack Hussein Obama, Occupier in Chief.

President B.O. doesn't "leak" SEAL and bin Laden intel; he blasts it from a firehose. But there is a more fiercely urgent distinction between the two, from the president's perspective: When Barack Obama opens the floodgates of classified material, it's to plant a heroic, epic version of the raid that puts Himself front and center. And he clearly intends his gusher of erstwhile secrets to buttress his national-security credentials, paradoxically enough; for on the campaign trail, he thumps his chest and bleats how "he" killed bin Laden... absurdly contrasting himself favorably to the disfavored Mitt Romney, who has never killed anybody.

Given that context, it's very had not to conclude that what really torques off Secretary Panetta is that "Mark Owen" and co-author Kevin Maurer stomp all over Obama's self-serving fairy tale with the dadburned truth. This undercuts any electoral advantage the killing of bin Laden might otherwise confer on the Lightbringer and Ocean Subsider.

Obama and minions are hopping mad because No Easy Day rained on Obama's campaign parade.

AP's final paragraph is a wonder of undetected irony:

Panetta said the book, which went on sale this week, raises troubling national security questions.

"Well, I think when somebody talks about the particulars of how those operations are conducted, it tells our enemies, essentially, how we operate and what we do to go after them," he said.

Preach it, Grandmaster P.!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2012, at the time of 1:40 PM | Comments (6)

September 8, 2012

Poker Force

Election Derelictions , Military Machinations , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Sachi

On August 31, the weekend before the Democratic National Convention, President Barack "Withdrawal" Obama visited Fort Bliss, Texas and met with a less than enthusiastic audience... of American soldiers.

President Barack Obama was greeted with fleeting applause and extended periods of silence as he offered profuse praise to soldiers and their families during an Aug. 31 speech in Fort Bliss, Texas.

His praise for the soldiers -- and for his own national-security policies -- won cheers from only a small proportion of the soldiers and families in the cavernous aircraft-hangar.

The troops were not awed by the appearance, nor were they rapt with attention; summoned to the campaign event, they clearly decided to give the Commander in Chief the respect required and nothing more:

The audience remain[ed] quiet even when the commander-in-chief thanked the soldiers' families, and cited the 198 deaths of their comrades in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The audience's reaction was so flat that the president tried twice to elicit a reaction from the crowd....

CNN and MSNBC ended their coverage of the speech before it was half-over. [Emphasis added throughout quotations.]

Hardly a surprise that the cable mainstream media were too mindful of the Lightbringer's dignity to continue the embarassing coverage.

Why the cold shoulder? Several possible explanations:

  • You might say because Obama has not exactly been supportive of the military in the war against radical Islamism.

Despite the tremendous victory George W. Bush and Gen. David Petraeus finally achieved toward the end of their tenure, Obama is determined to quit, to yank the troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq... without the least concern for our Iraqi allies left behind, or for the negative effect such cutting and running will have on future military campaigns, future allies and alliances, our national security, and even the reputation of the American flag around the world:

The silence deepened when the president lauded his strategy of withdrawal from the war. "Make no mistake, ending the wars responsibly makes us safer and our military even stronger, and ending these wars is letting us do something else; restoring American leadership," he said amid complete silence.

(I don't mind when Barack Obama says "make no mistake;" I just wish that one day, he would take his own advice!)

  • Or maybe the silence was due to the report that President B.O. evidently used an auto pen to sign letters to the families of fallen Navy SEALs; was Obama's hand too tired from those one hundred rounds of golf?
  • Or perhaps the soldiers of Fort Bliss know that veterans are having a difficult time finding civilian work after separation, despite the president's election-year conversion to job creation.

Those may very well be part of the reason these soldiers were unhappy at being made into political actors. But their unhappiness might derive from a much simpler reason, as Russ Vaughn at the American Thinker blog explains:

I'm an old non-com who, as a bachelor lived in the barracks, and as such I'm well aware of the excitement that permeates any military barracks in the days leading up to a four-day, holiday weekend like Labor Day. Virtually every soldier has made big plans to escape his military existence for four precious days and spend that time with family or friends.

A day to get there, and a day to return to Fort Bliss; that leaves but two days with family and friends: Two lousy, infinitely precious days with parents you might not have seen for months, childhood friends, the town you grew up in. But wait -- not two days, but only one! Why? Because...

[S]ome hotshot in the Obama campaign, feeling badly stung by the sparse turnouts for the president's visits to other locales, gets a bright idea of how to produce a really big crowd for a photo op: "Hey, let's schedule one for some military facility where the commander can be ordered to produce a big audience in a sufficiently impressive backdrop."

As a result, the holiday reunions for many soldiers and their families were ruined. Gone are their (possibly non-refundable) flights and difficult to get hotel reservations; gone also is half the time they expected. Not to mention all the wasted money they couldn't afford to lose. All gone.

And for what? Because of a military emergency? A hurricane or other natural disaster? For what lofty reason were these soldiers forced to donate their time, the most precious resource for an active-duty soldier? To listen to a classless, clueless politician talk about how concerned he is about military personnel... while using them as a prop in his own reelection campaign, without regard to whether they want to become part of his next campaign commercial, or even whether they support his reelection in the first place.

I'd say the poker-faced silent treatment Obama received was no more than he deserves. The brass can order the troops to assemble and be respectful to the Commander in Chief, but they cannot order them to cheer spontaneously.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, September 8, 2012, at the time of 12:18 AM | Comments (1)

September 4, 2012

Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been Better Off?

Election Derelictions , Fed Spending: to Infinity and Beyond! , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , Tax Attax
Hatched by Dafydd

At last! The reanointment campaign of President Barack "You didn't build that" Obama is finally ready to detail exactly what way Americans are better off now than they were four years ago. In a New York Times piece, they finally get down to the nitty gritty of economic, cultural, and national-security improvement since January 20th, 2009.

Here's the lede:

A day after fumbling a predictable and straightforward question posed by Mitt Romney last week -- are Americans better off than they were four years ago -- the Obama campaign provided a response on Monday that it said would be hammered home during the Democratic convention here this week: "Absolutely."

That answer, "absolutely," comes from Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign mangler, at the Democratic National Convention on Monday:

In fact, on Monday the campaign settled on a definitive answer of, as the deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter put it, "Absolutely."

There it is, in black and white (or whatever colors you've chosen for your font and background): Stephanie Cutter has categorically, unequivocally, hysterically answered that "better-off" question for all time: Ab-so-lootely we're better off now than when Obama assumed the position. Absolutely!

Who could argue with that?

Let's not be unfair; Cutter did go on to give detailed and specific reasons why we're better off:

Followed down a hallway by a local news crew asking the "better off" question in the convention center here, Ms. Cutter described the economic scene four years ago -- the auto companies teetering near bankruptcy, bank failures -- and said, "Does anyone want to go back to 2008? I don’t think so."

I'm not so sure: Perhaps those voters who lost their jobs under the Obama administration long for 2008, which they might see as the golden age of employment.

Today's real unemployment/underemployment rate -- what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the U6 labor underutilitzation rate -- includes those unemployed and actively looking for a job, those unemployed who would like to work but have given up in despair, and those who are working part time but want to work full time.

That U6 unemployment number is significantly higher now than it was when Obama seized the reins of power.

Back then, on January 20th, 2009, the U6 rate was 14.2%. It had been rising in the waning days of the Bush administration; and it continued rising throughout Obama's first year, hitting a peak of 17.1% in December, 2009.

That big run-up of 2.9% represented nearly 4.5 million more people unemployed or underemployed than when Obama was inaugurated.

The U6 rate stayed more or less around that point for another year, then finally began to drift downward a little in December, 2010. It wafted back towards the "inauguration rate" over the next year, hitting 14.5% in March, 2012; but then the U6 unemployment number took off again. Today it hovers at 15.0%... still noticibly higher than it was when Obama was sworn at by the Chief Justice. The 0.8% rise in the U6 rate from 2009 corresponds to 1.24 million more Americans out of work or underemployed than when Obama's term began.

At no point has total unemployment/underemployment dropped back down to Obama's inauguration rate; on employment, the president is still underwater. Those hoping for employment are certainly no better off today than they were four years ago... and I doubt the extra one and a quarter million unemployed/underemployed Americans are mollified by the fact that Barack Obama seized General Motors and gave huge bailouts to his Big Banking cronies.

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland echoed Cutter's claim anent Obama's stellar record on job creation, though he offered a slightly more cautious version:

Mr. O'Malley provided another answer on Monday on CNN: "We are clearly better off as a country because we’re creating jobs rather than losing them. We have not recovered all that we lost in the Bush recession. That’s why we need to continue to move forward."

But they've also "not recovered" all the extra jobs lost in the Obama recession; they're still short, as we noted, by 1.24 million jobs since inauguration.

Forward! Progress! Ab-so-lootley!

Let's press on, guvnor. Surely there must be some objective measurement to back up Stephanie's cutting ejaculation of "Absolutely!"

Oh, here we go; Slow Joe Biden issues an unanswerable proof:

Speaking in Detroit on Monday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said during a union rally, "You want to know whether we’re better off?" He answered: "I’ve got a little bumper sticker for you: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive."

Well, yes; it's true: Osama bin Laden is dead. On the other hand, his organization, al-Qaeda, and its kissing cousins in the Taliban, are significantly more powerful today than they were at the end of Bush's term. So there is that.

Throughout all of 2008, 151 Americans were killed in Afghanistan by enemy action, according to the notoriously right-wing news source, the Hufflepuffington Post. But last year, that number had exploded to 398, down from 492 in 2010. Seems like quite a lot more Taliban/al-Qaeda activity, especially for a war whose expiry date has already been announced.

And of course, radical Islamism in general (Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, et al) has been on the march for the last couple of years. It's true that one extremely bloody mass murderer was finally taken down -- by U.S. Navy SEALs, by the way; not by Barack Obama personally, no matter what he may fantasize. But as George W. Bush warned during his presidency, bin Laden, or even al Qaeda, is not the entirety of radical Islamism; in fact, Iran is the most dangerous radical-Islamist power, and it has been since the 1979 revolution.

President B.O. has done virtually nothing to check the overarching threat of jihadism and its related components, from nuclear weapons; to massacres of Jews, Christians, and Animists; to subversion of democracies or emerging democracies; to cross-border warfare; to "lawfare" and other elements of dawa, supporting sharia law by means short of violent assault. In fact, Obama reserves his strongest condemnations not for radical Islamists, but for Israel, the lone fully democratic nation in the Middle East.

With the uninhibited rise of radical Islamism across the world and even here in the United States on Barack Obama's watch (the Fort Hood massacre, for example), we are not better off on terrorism than we were four years ago... even with the death of an old man hiding in Pakistan.

Joe Biden's second point is technically true: General Motors is, in some sense, still "alive" (though I don't quite see how the attribute of "life" comports with the general Democratic Progressivist rejection of corporations as "persons" under the law). However, all those former stockholders of GM -- millions of Americans (including a great many retireees) in their 401K plans and pension funds -- might not feel better off... as their holdings were looted by Obama to give his Big Labor pals a stock jackpot. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Maybe the Democrats are happy to stand on bailouts for bankers, "Government Motors," and claiming credit for the heroic deeds of America's Special Forces; but it does seem just a little squirrelly to me.

Their next point... oh. Oh dear; I'm afraid we have managed to plod all the way through the triumphalist New York Times article. There is nothing else in the article.

Yet isn't it peculiar that in this entire litany of reasons in the New York Times why we're better off today than we were four years ago, not a single Democrat points to ObamaCare or the trillion-dollar "stimulus?" It's as if the two signal achievements of the Obama administration have faded, like the Cheshire Cat, leaving only their deficits behind.

NB: In the photograph accompanying the Times article, we see two people sporting "I ♥ ObamaCare" bumper stickers; alas, those two "people" are in fact cardboard cutouts -- with no faces. I don't think they're any better off either than they were fours years ago, when they might have been living spruce trees. (I also find it amusing that Obama himself now accepts the derisive term "ObamaCare" for his MIA government medicine program, which used to be called the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." Heh.)

We began this inquiry with the Reagan/Romney Riddle: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" I reckon we'll just have to watch the debacle spectacle unfold to see what evidence they can cite, besides that already (?) introduced, to justify Cutter's Comprehensive Confirmation: "Absolutely!"

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 4, 2012, at the time of 1:26 PM | Comments (1)

August 31, 2012

Son of Akin Breakin' Heart

Confusticated Conservatives , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

A week ago, Democrat Claire McCaskill -- formerly the most vulnerable member of the Senate in either party -- was running way ahead of Claude Akins Todd Akin; she was up by 9 on Mason-Dixon and by 10 on Rasmussen. But in the last poll, they're neck and neck -- McCaskill up a one skimpy point, well within the 3.9% margin of error... and that's on a very Democratic Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll. Who'd'a thunk it?

It's entirely within the realm of possibility that the fundamentals will reassert themselves; voters might recollect whatever it was that drove McCaskill to the bottom of the barrel in the first place. Akin can certainly fundraise on his own, and Missouri isn't a state like California or New York, where you need tens of millions of dollars just to be competitive.

Looking at the actual questions in the PPP poll, Missouri must be a pretty conservative state (which we should've already known): Barack "You didn't build that" Obama's approval is underwater at 39 approve, 55 disapprove; Mitt Romney is doing well, 51 approve versus 43 disapprove. In the presidential race, Romney is way up, 53 vs. 41... twelve points -- much higher than John McCain's razor-thin Missouri victory of 49.43 to 49.29, and more than twice the margin of 49 to 44, which is how Missourians in this poll claim they voted.

McCaskill's and Akin's job approvals are about equally abysmal: 40 to 55 for the former, 33 to 56 for the latter; so it's no wonder they're tied. Nevertheless, Missourians prefer Akin not withdraw by a whopping great margin of 54 to 37. (The parties split evenly three ways between Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.)

The race bears watching.

If Akin pulls ahead again, I'm pretty sure that repeated references to Akingate will have less pull than the gravity of Pluto-Charon has on the Earth. By now, everybody and his monkey's uncle has figured out that the inartful phrase "legitimate rape" actually meant "forcible rape," to be distinguished from statutory rape... a crime of which I suspect 75% of males and 67% of females are technically guilty. That leaves us with the odd situation of voters rejecting a Senate nominee solely because he has an infantile grasp of reproductive biology. I wouldn't think that would be much on their minds, given the stakes.

But what about the analogy of the "Macaca" gaffe by George Allen in Virginia, 2006? Doesn't that imply that Akin is similarly toast? I don't think it's really relevant for several reasons:

  • Repeatedly calling a campaign volunteer of Indian descent "Macaca" smacked of racism; Akin has said nothing remotely racist... or for that matter, overtly sexist.
  • Allen's opponent, James Webb, was a serious and respected figure: Annapolis graduate, former Marine Corps infantry officer, decorated Vietnam Vet, and former Secretary of the Navy. Claire McCaskill, by contrast, is no Jim Webb; she is your basic village idiot, and everybody in Missouri knows it, including the Democrats. Until Akin's gaffe, I think the DNC had more or less written her off.
  • The 2006 U.S. Senate election in Virginia was a truly messy one, with no fewer than sixteen major scandals on both sides. Given that environment, anybody could have won. (The outcome was very, very close, with Webb nipping Allen by half a point.)
  • Finally, 2006 was a very, very bad year for Republicans; but 2012 is likely to be an excellent one. Romney's momentum might very well carry Akin along in his wake.

Akin could easily pull back into a substantial lead within the next month. All bets are off!

It's still quite proper for the national GOP not to give Akin any campaign cash: We as a party don't stand for ignorant gaffes, and we don't stand for scientific ignorance. (Well, other than rejection of modern evolutionary biology; holding firm on evolution would rule most conservatives out of the Republican Party!) But should Akin win on his own dime, I see no reason why we cannot, at that point, shake hands, forgive, and forget.

Perhaps both candidate and party will have learned something.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 31, 2012, at the time of 1:47 AM | Comments (13)

August 29, 2012

Christie Critics Versus the Popular Front for Liberty

Election Derelictions , Speech, Speech!
Hatched by Dafydd

Several people have bashed yesterday's convention speech by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey; I name no names, but you know who you are. (Yes, I'm talking to you, Chris Wallace, and you too, Juan Williams!) The argument is that Christie spent too much time talking about ideas, philosophy, the future, and his ample self, and not much time at all savaging Barack "You didn't build that" Obama or buttering up the actual nominee (official now), Willard Mitt Romney.

I say that's all a bunch of hogwarts. That criticism tells me only that Messrs. Wally and Willy utterly fail to understand the extraordinary and irreversible change wrought, not by tea partiers (they are only one manifestation of the movement), but by the popular front for liberty that coalesced on February 19th, 2009 -- just thirty days after President B.O. was anointed, adored, and installed upon the Hog-Butcher Throne.

On that day, CNBC business editor Rick Santelli denounced the Obamic scheme to refinance defaulted mortgages. George W. Bush had pushed through Congress a plan to re-value the "troubled assets," mostly mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) that banks were holding as reserves, but whose values were a complete mystery, even to the banks themselves. But Obama radically altered that sensible plan in favor of a populist, Progressivist scheme to reward something-for-nothing borrowers for buying far more house than they could afford, and taking out mortgages they couldn't possibly repay.

Santelli exploded on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (how apt!), railing against the loss of liberty, individuality, personal responsibility, truth, justice, and the American way. To whoops and cheers among the CME traders, he even called for them to hurl those debased and valueless MBSs into the Chicago River, à la the Boston Tea Party.

Santelli didn't start the fire; individual flickers, flare-ups, and hot spots had hissed and spit over the previous decade. But on that day of freedom, he pulled together all these slow-burning fuses and bound them into a true popular front for liberty, independence, Capitalism, and Americanism. He sparked a simultaneous explosion of revulsion at crony capitalism (its other name is "Liberal Fascism") and an explosive determination to rebuild America -- not via yet another radical socioeconomic "revolution;" more like a religious revival, restoring what the United States had been missing since some time before the "Progressivist" era of anti-Constitution, anti-Founding Father Woodrow Wilson. Americans began to crave more liberty and less government.

Since then, tea-party movements have erupted in every state of the Union. They seized control of the Republican Party in the 2010 midterm elections (and particularly in the primaries that preceded the general), and now the popular front for liberty looms large to take the country itself by storm on November 6th.

Personally, I love this movement; it's just what has been lacking in all previous attempts (including Reagan's) to roll back socialism and Progressivism and return to individual liberty, self sufficiency, and honest Capitalism that Alexis De Tocqueville extolled in Democracy in America.

I have writ rhapsodies in red about the popular front for liberty stretching back to February 20th, 2010 (almost on the anniversary of Santelli's revivalist rant), encompassing nineteen blogposts since then (see below). But those critics of Christie's speech -- did you think I'd forgotten the subject? -- have fallen into the trap of "same as it ever was." They cannot break free of the red meat, attack dog paradigm of twentieth-century campaigns.

Wally and Willy pooh-pooh the Christie speech because he didn't rake Obama over the barbecue pit personally, by name; Christie didn't run down his policies, peculiarities, and pomposities; his diction, gait and sartorial sense; his patterns of pronunciation, prandial pleasures, haircut hilarities, taste in tobacco; his earballs and earmarks, and every word he has ever uttered, including "and", "of", and most especially his very favorite word: "I". (There's no "we" in "narcissism"!)

The speech crickets want to make this contest, every contest, a clash of titanic personalities. They don't understand that this crucial election is not a choice of chumps; it's a long-overdue Armageddon of axioms and ideas.

Christie very ably (and subtlely!) articulates the ideology of the popular front for liberty: self-reliance, traditional American virtues, American exceptionalism, Capitalism, limited government (limited in size, scope, and especially reach), balanced budgets, low taxes, and even lower spending.

He did not need to throw Obama under the Romney campaign bus. Christie stakes his argument on the moral clarity of tea-party ideas and ideology.

Over the past few months, Barack Obama's character-assassination squads have spent hundreds of millions of dollars (quite literally) portraying Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Republicans in general as bigots, racists, one-percenter plutocrats, and homophobes; bitter-clingers, furiously waging a war against all women; a war driven by rage, impotence, misogyny, and seething hatred.

Many undecided voters must have tuned into the Republican National Convention with trepidation, wondering if they would see howling jackals slavering over their raw meat and bloody petrodollars. After all, that's what the President of the Untied States warned them they would see.

So the last thing in the world we need at this convention is an angry, denunciatory speech attacking Barack Obama. It would play right into his clenched fist.

The time for that raw anger has come, and it has gone. Now is the time for up-tempo, upbeat speeches of hope -- real hope founded on a workable plan to defibrillate the economy and jumpstart the job market -- and change... change back to what has made America unique ever since its founding: We are the only country in the world founded on the basis of a capitalist economy and an ideology of individual liberty, utterly unlike the mass, interest-group, faux "liberté" of the French Revolution, which perverted the very idea of true liberty.

Liberty can only apply to individuals, not marching mobs; that true liberty is what has made us the greatest nation that has ever existed, not only in power but the most moral national as well; whence comes our powerhouse economy (even today), and why we have universally, if sometimes grudgingly, been accepted as the last resort of conscience against tyranny in the world.

But the advance of liberty is occasion for joy, not ugly rage: The speeches at the RNC must be uniformly positive, futurist, and Reaganesque.

If they are, Americans will be stunned by the chasm between what they're watching on the screen, and the vile distortion and caricature they were sold by the Democrats. Voters will finally perceive how they have been lied to and disrespected by Obama and all the president's men. Barack Obama will bear the brunt of that backlash, and the election will become a referendum between Reaganesque and Nixonesque.

That will be the tipping point, where a narrow victory for Romney, without coattails, turns into an utter rout of Progressivism -- with a firm mandate for the popular front for liberty.

Chris Christie's speech may not be the "same as it ever was," "usual suspects," red-meat affair that liberal Democrat Juan Williams hoped to see; instead, it is an extremely effective "new way" argument for the twenty-first century. It carries the virtue that even folks who like the Big Stick as a person can nevertheless reject his ideas in the ballot box. With clear conscience and no lingering taint of racism, voters can punch the chad for a return to the Constitution-based politics of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln.

To which I can only say, about bloody time!

A list of posts containing nontrivial discussions of the popular front for liberty:

  1. What Makes Lefty Run?
  2. Palin and Reagan: Together Again for the First Time
  3. Tea Partiers Draw Their Foot in the Sand
  4. Inglorious Results of an Overspent Youth
  5. So Comfortable in Corruption, They Needn't Even Dissemble
  6. Salt of the Earth: One Size Fits None
  7. The Surreality-Based Community
  8. The Cleaver Conundrum - and the Brilliance of Breitbart's Bucks
  9. A Capital Idea
  10. An Excellent Mystery
  11. Pyrrhic Evictory - the World Nods to the Lizards
  12. Miller vs. Murkowski: What If...?
  13. What's in Your Wallet... That Won't Be There Tomorrow?
  14. Democrat Campaign Grand Strategy: Money Will Save Our Seats!
  15. Bottoming Out: the Commonest Manifesto
  16. The War on Judgment
  17. Can't Buy Me Love - But How About Reelection?
  18. The Permanent Floating Unbalanced Budget Act of 2011
  19. Predictions, Predilictions UPDATED

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 29, 2012, at the time of 1:10 PM | Comments (1)

August 9, 2012

The New True Levellers

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions , Science Fiction
Hatched by Dafydd

The mid-seventeenth century True Levellers (or Diggers) were anti-private property anarchists who believed in strict, enforced, economic equality, where everybody is given equal access to land and "property" (none of which is privately owned in True Leveller theory), regardless of talent, effort, ingenuity, or even luck. But the New True Levellers -- my nickname for contemporary Progressivists and Occupiers -- are much worse: They believe in leveling everything to one uniform level.

The New True Levellers bring to mind Kurt Vonnegut's chilling story "Harrison Bergeron," which begins:

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

(And which you can read in toto at the link -- and should. Instanter!) In that story, everybody who has any talent or ability beyond the average is given a cruel handicap, to drag him back to the level mean. Thus, the strong are constrained, the swift are hobbled -- and most horrific, the overly intelligent have a device installed in their heads that buzzes loudly at random intervals, completely disrupting the intelligent man's thoughts, dragging his effective IQ down to the norm.

It's a scalpel-precise filleting of the central premise of liberalism: Forced equality of outcomes. Vonnegut is saying, Here is the only way such a totalitarian goal can be achieved; does any sane human being truly want this?

Yet the New True Levellers would indeed enforce "equality" (of results) across an all-encompassing morass of human endeavor: equality of money (the "millionaires'" tax); equality of medical service (ObamaCare); equality of marital relationships (same-sex marriage, polygamy, plural marriage); and equality of private property (by abolishing it all, along with all individual buying and selling). That way, everybody will be exactly the same as everyone else... except that the favored few will be more equal than others.

And now, the New True Levellers even demand equality of voting rights... where all and every must have an equal vote, regardless of age, registration status, criminal record, incarceration, having already voted, or even citizenship. (Except the central-government elite will have a "more equal than others" vote.)

Yes, the anti-American Left now demands that non-citizens, or those who won't even say what nationality they are, have the same right to vote in U.S. elections as Americans:

Some voters were reportedly turned away from the polls on Michigan’s primary election day for refusing to fill out the new “citizenship” box on their ballot application.

Jocelyn Bensen, Director of the Michigan Center for Election Law, said they’ve been taking calls from confused voters across the state regarding this issue. She’s criticizing the Secretary of State’s office for failing to remind clerks that voters who decline to fill out the citizenship box must still be allowed to cast a ballot.

So it's not enough to forbid any requirement of official identification to vote, thus mandating that anyone can vote simply by claiming to be a citizen; the New True Levellers now insist that voters needn't even claim citizenship, nor even check a box saying that they are legal citizens of the United States. One's citizenship is literally irrelevant; vote early, vote often!

The next steps are clear: How can we infringe the voting rights of the dead? Or of animals, plants, computers, Magic 8-balls, or even animated characters? (Toons! How can we deny toon voting rights? If you cut them, do they not bleed -- ink?)

Why not ballots for a vague memory of a lost love? Or for colorless, green ideas that sleep furiously? Can a sigh vote? How about last Thursday; should last Thursday be given a ballot?

Why not just resurrect ACORN and instruct them to concoct a vote total for each district? It would be no less authentic (or more risible) than what Ms. Bensen seemingly demands.

And she appears to be litigation-bound on behalf of the "voter rights" of the class of folks unwilling to declare their citizenship:

Benson said they took calls from citizens in Wayne County, Oakland County and Macomb County as well as in Lansing and on the west side of the state – including some from people who weren’t allowed to vote....

Benson said it may be a constitutional as well as voter rights violation. She’s asking anyone who had problems at the polls to call the center at 1-800-R-VOTE [sic -- either Bensen or CBS doesn't appear to know how many digits are in a telephone number. -- DaH].

She does offer one actual argument, sort of, other than pure Levellerism:

"We know poll workers in the city of Detroit were trained to withhold ballots from people who didn’t complete the check box, and we know clerks in other parts of the state did not even have it on the application at all," said Benson. "So, there’s an absolute inconsistency to how this was approached and it’s something we are looking into for legal recourse."

But does anyone believe that if only the law was made universal across the state, so that every precinct had that same requirement to declare oneself to be an American citizen before voting in an American election, Ms. Bensen would be satisfied?

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I drew attention above to "Harrison Bergeron." It's a brilliant story: Its author, Kurt Vonnegut (1922 to 2007), was a deeply committed man of the Left; but he was also a science-fiction and speculative-ficiton author, able to look beyond the cliched sloganeering of his fellow travelers of socialism and speculate about things that never were but might be in the future. For that reason, his books are rarities to be treasured. Well, most of them.

Others who fall into that same skimpy category include "George Orwell" (Eric Blair), Robert A. Heinlein, and the granddaddy of them all, H.G. (Herbert George) Wells; each of these three chose to couch many of his ideas in a speculative-fiction or fantasy mode, whether paeans to, or brickbats hurled at, the dreams from our socialist fathers.

Two eventually renounced socialism altogether: Heinlein during or shortly after World War II, and H.G. Wells in his last book, Mind at the End of Its Tether. (Contrary to some claims, Wells did not denounce his faith in science in that book, just his faith in socialism.) The other two, Vonnegut and Orwell, appear to have remained men of the Left lifelong -- but also frequent critics of that same Left.

Science fiction and speculative fiction (let's adopt a cowardly compromise by using the initials sf) demand clear thinking; if an sf author's thinking is muddled, quotidian, banal, and derivative (as with J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter phenomena), most critical readers of sf would pronounce him (or her) a very bad sf writer; in other genres, especially "literary" fiction, authors can get away with uncreative murder. For a lark, compare Rowling's best with random passages from the great fantasists, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Harlan Ellison, Jack Vance, or Michael Moorcock. You can easily play "one of these books is not like the others."

You can especially compare Rowling unfavorably to Jane Yolen, who published Wizard's Hall in 1991 -- the book that Rowling swears, upon a stack of Daily Prophets and Quibblers, that she never, ever saw. Assuming she is truthful and accurate, as of course I must, it's a remarkable example of pandery recapitulating plagery.

Yet another leftist copycat, a man who appears never in his life to have questioned a single tenet of the First Church of Fudamentalist Progressivism, is Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy (the Golden Compass, the Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spyglass) -- and the even darker (and insipider) material in the "Sally Lockhart" tetralogy of extreme feminism, Communism, and Flavor-Aid atheism, comprising the Ruby In the Smoke, the Shadow In the North, the Tiger In the Well, and the Tin Princess; it should have been titled the Tin Ear, for Pullman's preachy and excessive didacticism, paucity of imagination, and enough message-sending to qualify for a bulk discount from Western Union.

And no, I won't bother linking to any of these wretched rip-offs and bitter attacks on the writings of C.S. Lewis: In the trilogy, Pullman pompously attempts an all-atheist perversion of the Chronicles of Narnia that is about as persuasive as an all-stooges version of the Tempest. Pullman himself is about as believable as Richard Nixon with a watermelon-sized hangover. And this critique from me, a militant agnostic! ("I don't know whether there's a God, and neither do you, confound it!")

Contrary to the New True Levellers, when leftists are cursed with functioning brains and lashings of fairness and justice, you get... well, you get "Harrison Bergeron," among other examples. These socialists, Communists, and assorted reds are the anti-Progressivists -- Regressivists? -- and they carry a very precarious presence within their movements, being constantly in danger of denunciation, show trial, and exile to the Z-list party zone.

But for that very reason, such a free soul is the only kind of lefty worth cultivating.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 9, 2012, at the time of 2:29 AM | Comments (2)

July 13, 2012

He Stoops to Hunker

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

President Barack "Big Stick" Obama, America's Trillion-Dollar Taxman, is out of gas and running on vapors... in this case, the "vapors" induced in the press at the evidently terrifying thought that we might soon have a businessman lording over la Casa Blanca. Heaven forfend! All the president's men can do is hunker down and hope that something happens, or that something "sticks," to reverse the downward dynamic of the election.

In a desperate ave Diabolus, President B.O. attempts to turn Mitt Romney's most attractive qualification, his extraordinarily successful management of Bain Capital, into a disqualifation for public office. At the moment, the president's campaign labors to label the Republican candidate as -- wait for it -- a federal felon.

No, really:

As Paul [Mirengoff] noted twice today, the Obama campaign has reached a new low by resuscitating its Bain-Capital-related smears of Mitt Romney. Picking up on a recycled story in the Boston Globe, the Obama campaign suggested in a call with reporters that Romney may be a felon; either that, or he is misleading the American people. [Emphasis added. -- DaH]

The Democrats’ smear is based largely on ignorance of securities law. In her phone call today, Obama staffer Stephanie Cutter cited SEC filings which listed Romney as a “controlling person” after 1999. If Romney was controlling Bain Capital, Cutter argued, then obviously he was responsible for Bain Capital’s investments after 1999 and has been lying about his relationship with the company. But being a “controlling person” doesn’t mean that you are running the company....

As the owner of Bain Capital from 1999 to 2002, Romney naturally was listed as a controlling person in Bain’s SEC filings. That has nothing to do with whether he played any operational role in the firm’s investments, which, by all accounts, he didn’t.

The "felony" part comes into play because Romney signed various Securities and Exchange Commission documents over the years between February, 1999, when he departed from Bain Capital in haste to rescue the Salt Lake City Olympics, to 2002, when the legal nonsense surrounding Romney's departure finally was resolved; since those statements are signed under oath, if Romney lied on them, that could be considered felonious behavior under some circumstances (and of course, it would be a federal rap, because the SEC is a federal agency).

But there isn't an echo of a ghost of a molecule of evidence that (a) Mitt Romney actually actively managed Bain or made investment decisions after he left in 1999, nor that (b) he lied about anything. In fact, it doesn't even make sense: Since Romney was a private person during those years, still intending to return to Bain (which he never did), he would have had no reason to lie anyway.

The One had no "Magic 8-Ball" to predict that a decade later, it would make a scintilla of difference whether he ceased managing his firm as soon as he headed out to the Great Salt Lake or a triplet of years later. What could he possibly gain in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 from fibbing about this? He wasn't even elected governor of Massachusetts until November, 2002.

But there is a darker, more repugnant possibility here that appalls me, but which I am compelled to consider (which also appalls me). My inability to dismiss it from my musings sprouts from Obama's own pre-presidential electoral history; in particular, the fact that Obama won several contests by concocting ways to force his opponents off the ballot entirely.

And what better way, they may believe, to force Romney off the ballot, or at least cripple him so badly that Obama's reelection becomes a foregone conclusion, to persuade the American voters that they were on the verge of electing a "federal felon" to the presidency?

How far would the Obama campaign go in trying to emasculate the GOP nominee? Would they, for example, open a Justice-Department "investigation" of Romney's Bain-Capital statements? Repeatedly subpoena and interrogate Romney campaign officials -- "What did the governor know, and when did he know it, Mr. Rhoades?" -- to disrupt the campaign, douse it with the malodor of criminality, and incidentally wring details of every last campaign strategy out of them?

Would they dare go so far as to call a grand jury and indict the Republican nominee?

I think I would let out a whoop and do the Snoopy happy-dance if they did. Alas, while I think Obama and his campaign cronies are fools, I cannot bring myself to believe they're utter fools. And they would have to be, to think that arresting or indicting their opponent, like some African or South American banana republic, would have any effect other than to appall the electorate, enrage voters (even many Democrats), and finally cause them to rise up in a true popular front against the Big Stick.

Still, I find the possibility amusing; certainly no other president of my lifetime would have either the chutzpah or hubris to imagine he could get away with it... but I'm not 100% certain that the current occupier of 1600 Penn. Ave. doesn't: He has demonstrated an arrogance and narcissism never before seen at such exalted levels.

Call it the Case of the Injudicious Indictment, where Mitt Romney would play Perry Mason to Obama's bumbling Burger. It's not likely enough for me to call it a prediction, but it's worth keeping your eye to the ground for a heads up.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 13, 2012, at the time of 1:01 AM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2012

Nuclear November

Election Derelictions , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Just to remind everybody -- because I like to live dangerously by making preposterous, outlandish predictions that nevertheless come true about 75% of the time -- I have predicted that the presidential election on Tuesday, November 6th (for Republicans, that is; Democrats must cast their votes on Wednesday, November 7th)... that the presidential election will not be "razor close" or even just close, as nearly every "pundant" and his signifying' monkey is predicting. Rather, I stand here with my teeth in my mouth and boldly prognosticate, prophecy, foretell that -- Mitt Romney will win in a blowout.

Note that I do not predict a "landslide" in the electoral vote à la Nixon in 1972 (49 states), Reagan in 1984 (49 states), or even the 40 states won by Bush-41 in 1988; there are a lot of states anymore that are so enchained to the sinister side that they'd vote for the Democratic nominee even if he were an eldritch, transgendered, felonious penguin. But I do predict that Romney's popular-vote majority will be 53% or greater, thus exceeding Barack "Big Stick" Obama's 2008 majority of 52.9%... and that Romney's electoral-college total will reflect that, exceeding Obama's 365 electoral votes as well.

It's a dreadful mistake for people to look at the polls today, showing a neck and neck race (in June!), and make a straight-line prediction based on those numbers; you know it's a load of codswallop when the luminary prefaces his prediction with "if the election were held today." But of course, as always, it will be held on the Tuesday between November 2 and 8, more than four and a half months from today.

(In regular English, that means the election's on the first Tuesday of November unless that falls on November 1th, in which case the election is on the 8th.)

During those four-plus months, snakebit Obama will slip and slip and slip backwards. He might occasionally spike upwards -- for example, he might get a little boost during the Democratic National Convention; but those spikes will be smaller than the Left (or media "election analysts") expect and less frequent than they seem to believe. In between these feeble and unsatisfying spurts of polling support, Mitt Romney will climb slowly, steadily.

By the time of the Republican National Convention (beginning August 27th), Romney will have been comfortably ahead in nearly every poll for several weeks. He will leap upward after that convention, probably ending about eight points ahead of Obama. Following the Democratic National Convention the next week (starting September 3th), Obama will catch up maybe two or three points, leaving Romney still 5-6 points ahead.

And there it will stick until just before the vote, say the end of October, when Romney will get one more spike in the polling on final approach. He may also outperform the polls in the actual vote.

As always, if I'm wrong, I'll own up and take my lumps. But if I turn out to be right, then I darned well expect every, single reader of this blog to send me a bottle of Sandeman 20-year tawny port. (Yes, I know it's about fifty bucks in a wine store, but it's cheaper at BevMo.)

Hey, it's the least you could do!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 13, 2012, at the time of 5:02 PM | Comments (2)

June 7, 2012

Cheery News from Wisconsin...

Dancing Democrats , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I've been fretting about one of the four recall elections against Republican senators in the Cheesy State. I understand that as of the day before the election, Republicans very narrowly held the state senate, 17 to 16; thus if any one of the four senators undergoing recall proceedings lost his election, the senate would switch to Democratic control by the same margin.

In three of the races, the Republican incumbents won easily; but in the other race, District 21, the Democratic challenger, John Lehman, is ahead of GOP incumbent Van Wanggaard by 779 votes. I fretted that we -- that is, lovers of individual liberty and Capitalism, as opposed to the lovers of thuggish public-employee unions -- would win the big battle to save Gov. Scott Walker but lose the tiny skirmish over one state-senate race, stymying total victory. I pictured brutal gridlock, with the Left refusing to allow any bill or appropriation to move, no matter how urgent or bipartisan, unless Walker and the legislature agreed to undo everything Walker has done up until now.

So I was greatly heartened to read this piece in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:

Easing the loss for Republicans is the fact that the Senate has already adjourned its regular business for the year and that a new set of legislative district maps approved by GOP lawmakers last year will give their party a strong chance of reclaiming the Senate in November's elections.

"It's a nice moral victory for the Democrats -- it gives them something to hang their hat on," said Joe Heim, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. "But I think the November election will very likely undo what happened on Tuesday."

Specifically, Lehman wouldn't have to face a GOP opponent until 2014, unless the GOP calls another recall election after the November general election... which seems extraordinarily unlikely to me, since Wisconsonians are already suffering from "recall fatigue." Either way, the next vote will be held under the newly redistricted map, which favors Republicans.

But control could shift back much sooner than 2014:

If [the District 21 election result] holds up, Tuesday's victory for Democrats could be undone in November.

Republicans have their sights on the seats held by Democratic Sens. Jim Holperin of Conover and Jessica King of Oshkosh. Holperin is retiring and King is new to the Senate, having won a recall race in August against then-Sen. Randy Hopper of Empire.

"It's not a big hit," Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) said. "We're going to have the majority back in November."

...So in a sense, it really was "total victory" after all.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 7, 2012, at the time of 2:54 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2012

South Carolina's Newtron Bomb: Part 3 - The Rift in the Newt

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Republicans in general and conservatives in particular should demand that Newt Gingrich start demonstrating some discipline -- and that Mitt Romney start showing some flexibility and spine. Newt habitually displays woefully too little discipline, while Mitt habitually has vastly too much! Dang, if we could only average them out...

Romney tends to overregulate himself, never stepping "outside the box." Newt Gingrich, alas, lives eternally outside the box that his fellow citizens inhabit.

Romney, the obverse, that boy needs to get out more and start showing us ideas that haven't already been gummed to death by everybody else first. But Newt, the reverse, needs to find his way back to the actual mainstream of America (whch is much more conservative than the mainstream of journalism). Come back, Newt, and all will be forgiven!

At this point, I'm more afraid of a Gingrich nomination and even a Gingrich presidency than a Romney nomination and presidency. It's akin to my reaction to the two main political parties: I have about as many disagreements with the GOP as I do with the Democrats; but the things I hate about the latter seem much more dangerous to me than the things I hate about the former.

Same with Mitt vs. Newt: The latter's savage, unfair, and leftist attacks on Capitalism itself, and his j'accuse against Romney for being "anti-immigrant" (which is liberal code for "racist") are far more damaging to the American experiment than are Romney's attacks on Gingrich for his (nonexistent) ethical lapses as Speaker or on Newt's lobbying -- as I now believe, having changed my mind since a few weeks ago -- for Freddie Mac.

Romney's transgressions damage only Newt Gingrich, or possibly himself, if there's blowback; but Newt's attacks strike at the very heart of the distinction between Right and Left: If conservatism can be deformed to encompass class warfare, racial favoritism, and hostility towards the normal functioning of Capitalism, then what is left of the ideology?

To me, today's Newt is more dangerous than today's Mitt: dangerous to the success of the presidential and related elections; to the presidency itself; and even to the Great Dichotomy between Right and Left -- Capitalism vs. command; individualism vs. collectivism; republicanism vs. authoritarian parliamentarianism; American exceptionalism vs. national homogenization leading towards one-world government. If today's Newt is nominated and even if he is elected, it will be a disaster for those of us who desperately cling to that which makes America different from all other nations.

But I'm holding out hope for tomorrow's Newt. If tomorrow's Newt can lasso his wild horses and start showing discipline and consistency in his rhetoric, adverts, and especially his attacks on Romney (he can still go over the top attacking Obama); if he can begin thinking not only broadly but deeply; if he can if he can start seeing his candidacy less as reviving Gingrich and more as restoring America; then my balancing act between Romney's timidity and Gingrich's mania might start tipping back towards the latter.

(Alternatively, if Mitt become bolder and more effectively aggressive about pushing a pro-growth, revivalist, and more American vision of America, then I might show even more enthusiasm for his candidacy.)

But honestly, both those candidates deserve a stern "come to Jesus" meeting for serially violating Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment.

What a pair! But given the alternatives, with Rick Santorum fading into the wallpaper and Ron Paul heading further and further off the wall, we're going to have to nominate one of those four-letter words, Mitt or Newt.

Our only hope is the sheer ferocity of Barack H. Obama's hatred of a strong and prosperous America and of mainstream Americans. Once we have a nominee, and assuming the loser will join the winner's campaign, we still have an excellent (much better than even) chance of ensuring that the obamachete is a one-term germ.

Our previous forrays into the eye of Newt and mitt of Romney can be found here:

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 26, 2012, at the time of 7:33 PM | Comments (2)

January 23, 2012

South Carolina's Newtron Bomb: Part 2 - Newt In the Box

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

...In which we give NLG advice, just as if we knew what we were talking about!

Let's suppose for sake of argument that Newt Gingrich ends up being the Republican nominee for President of the United States. What, in that hypothetical, does he need to do in order actually to win, rather than humiliate himself and demolish the party (and country) in the process?

First, here's what he doesn't need to do: He doesn't need to continue fighting with the useless-idiot moderators at these debates. All right, all right, we get it; the lamestream media are biased against the Right. (And not only that... someone is wrong on the internet.)

But as effective as such Newtiments may be among conservative Republicans, that's how badly they play among independents and Reagan Democrats -- who we need in order to win the general election. Even if a question is unfair or vile and would never be asked of a Democratic candidate, ordinary general-election voters still want to hear an answer; to evade the question by attacking the questioner sounds... cagey, evasive, furtive.

It's all right to use a few seconds to bash the inquisitor; but then, for God's sake, answer the blasted question! Don't make it sound like you have something to hide, Mr. G.

Gingrich sort of did that in the Charleston debate when immoderator John King led off with a question about Marianne Gingrich's claim in an ABC interview that Newt had asked for an "open marriage." After lambasting King for asking the question, he did finally answer the question... sort of. But he spent a minute and a half attacking King, then another thirty or forty seconds backing up and running over the corpse once more (not only was King merely dead, he was really most sincerely dead). Sandwiched in between was essentially a one-word answer: No. Meaning, No, he says he didn't aske MG for an open marriage.

It played very well in the context of a primary crowd comprising conservative GOP voters in the deep South. But that approach will fall flatter than a platyhelminthes among those voters who don't consciously consider themselves "political."

Second, we don't need Newt Gingrich's penchant for a ten-RPM (revelations per minute) scream of consciousness, where idea follows idea so quickly that most viewers are left breathless and dizzy -- but not persuaded by any of them. Such machine-gun rapidity of thoughts, ranging from brilliant to downright goofy, leads to idea overload; the audience simply tunes them all out as random noise, turning Gingrich's soliloquy into "wugga wugga wugga economy, wugga wugga wugga space, wugga wugga wugga ObamaCare."

He doesn't need to prove that he thinks a plethora of thoughts; we got that already. Instead, Newt needs to prove that he can think deeply and popularly. He needs to pick two or three central themes -- two domestic policies and a foreign policy, for example -- and pound the living daylights out of those plans! Something with a simple, catchy mnemonic, like Herman Munster's "9 -- 9 -- 9," but with as much detail as Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI, 96%) "A Roadmap for America's Future."

Does Gingrich have the discipline to stick to the script, rather than branching out into an endless eddy of ad libs, regurgitating recursive rodomontade and increasingly repetitious rhetoric? Honest to Godot, I don't really know.

Third, the very last thing we need is Newt the Master Debater... because in the general, that's all it will be.

Anybody who thinks Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama is going to pick up Newt's gauntlet of three three-hour debates, mano a mano, also believes in the Truth Fairy. Obama has nothing whatsoever to gain from debating Gingrich. Heck, I wouldn't even be surprised if President B.O. refused to debate "nominee" Newt Gingich al all, not even a single debate.

The president has a remarkably easy way to pull that off: He dithers about debates until there is only one more time slot on the table. He reluctantly agrees to that debate, citing the press of "the people's business" and that he can't take time to play with Newt Gingrich.

Then, just before that debate, Obama deliberately and secretly precipitates a Crisis. This Crisis becomes all consuming -- and Obama summarily cancels the debate for the duration of the Crisis... which lasts into the final month of campaigning. And mysteriously, Obama just plain runs out of time to debate hapless Newton Leroy.

What would Newt do -- debate a GOP stand in pretending to be Obama? Debate an alternate Democrat to be named later? Debate himself? How many people do you think would watch any of those? More to the point, how many people who are not already Newtists will tune in?

Yeah, that's what I think, too.

If Gingrich's entire campaign is a series of Lincoln-Douglass debates -- what does that mean, Gingrich speaks, then Obama shows up the next day with a rebuttal? -- then what becomes of his strategy if Barack Obama simply refuses to play ball?

What we so desperately need from the Newtonian is a good old-fashioned retail campaign, with Newt's voice ringing "from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city""

  • Newt speaking at Elks clubs and national monuments, college campuses and church bean suppers, Wall Street and a Detroit assembly line.
  • Newt on the talking-head shows, conservative talk radio, and NPR.
  • Newt flooding the airwaves and the internets with adverts, YouTubes, Tweets, and lots of "exciting news" on Farcebook and MyFace.
  • A phalanx of Newtists whose full-time job is to anticipate the next attacks on Newt Gingrich and to make ready a forceful, pithy, and easily absorbed pushback to each attack. No attack should be allowed to stand unanswered for longer than fifteen minutes; so the Gingruption Rapid-Response Ring (GRRR!) had better know what slander the Left is going to hurl into the politosphere even before the Left itself knows.
  • Newt campaigning among the peons. Newt answering questions quickly and decisively. Newt kissing hands and shaking babies.

In other words, Newt behaving like a regular nominee for the presidency... the same battle plan that would be followed by Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. That is the only way that Newt Gingrich would be able to beat Barack Obama; he can't just cruise above the country at Flight Level 350, delivering pronunciamentos via aerial bombardment. "As God is my witness, I thought those turkey ideas would fly!"

Does he have the attention span to conduct this type of campaign for month after month? Again, I just don't know; he strikes me as a bloke who bores easily.

If "Retail Newt" shows up, then we have a really good chance. But if it's just the old "Tsunami Newt"... well all I can suggest is that you put on your manly gown, gird your loins, and pull up your socks; it's going to be a bumpy ride, heading into a crash landing.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 23, 2012, at the time of 4:22 AM | Comments (11)

January 22, 2012

South Carolina's Newtron Bomb: Part 1 - the Unbreakable Thread

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

The best news out of South Carolina -- for all Republicans, independents, and even Democrats who dread a second term for Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama -- is that the rift between those GOP-primary voters who support Mitt Romney and those who support the current flavor of NotRomney both make the same argument: Each side claims its own candidate is the most electable against Obama.

So far, I have not heard the meme from either camp that if the Other is nominated, We shall sit out the election or vote to reelect President B.O. This is important; one of three men will be the Republican nominee: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum. It would be utterly devastating if, say, Romney supporters said they would not support Gingrich in the general, or if Santorum supporters insisted that if Romney is the nominee, they will sit out the election.

I still believe Gingrich is the least, not the most electable of the three (as his supporters imagine), and that he would not make a good president even if elected. Nevertheless, if he is nominated, I would wholeheartedly throw myself into his campaign without qualm or reservation. Similarly so for Romney and Santorum. I would even campaign for Ron Paul, should he get the nod... though I believe the odds of that are somewhere in between nothing and naught.

In 2008, I know a lot of conservatives and libertarians who were so enraged that none of their own was nominated that they did in fact refuse to vote for McCain; most just stayed home, but a few actually voted for Obama in a fit of pique. While I don't believe that was determinative -- Obamunism would have won the day anyway -- it might not have been such a butt-whupping, and the Democrats might not have ended up with such a stranglehold on the Senate. In fact, I believe angry, anti-liberal "protest-voting" handed us ObamaCare and the Trillion Dollar Spree.

Newt Gingrich has a boatload of marital baggage; he has a frightening unlikeability problem; he's no more consistently "conservative" than is Romney; he's unpredictable and gets more wild hairs than a Tazmanian devil on a splintery fence post; and he frightens the horses. As Wolf Howling notes, Newt does have a much greater ability to communicate and defend his ideas than does Mitt or Rick:

John McCain lost the 2008 election because he ceded the major issues to the Obama narrative. Outrageously, over half the nation still thinks that the subprime crisis was caused by Wall St. greed. Bush failed to reform Social Security because the left was able to demagogue the issue. The Bush presidency was crippled because of Bush's failure to directly challenge the left's despicable campaign to loose the Iraq war. The base understands this. The ability to communicate may well be the single most important skill for any conservative nominee for President today. As Erickson says, look back at Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush, and McCain, the only ones who have won have been those that unapologetically and vocally embraced conservativism. Newt needs to emphasize precisely that. [Note that by "won," Wolf Howling means "prevailed on policy;" GWB won reelection but had a miserable second term. -- DaH]

However, Newt has in the past abused that same rhetorical skill to defend decidedly anticonservative and unlibertarian ideas -- including the individual mandate of ObamaCare, stimulus packages, earmarks, and legendarily, Globaloney itself alongside Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury).

But with a conservative Congress keeping Newt's nose to the fire, he would surely be such an enormous improvement over Obama -- and not a single Republican have I heard denying that fact -- that I expect the entire Right and two-thirds of the center ultimately to vote for nominee Gingrich... assuming he doesn't manage to turn the entire election into a referendum on Newtism.

Similarly, even the most flamboyent Newtist would readily admit that President Mitt Romney is vastly preferable to the devil we have.

So keep fingers crossed that the rancor doesn't rise to the point where the shorthand slogans "anybody but Romney" and "anybody but Newt" become literally true, and the losers in the primary become spoilers in the general.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 22, 2012, at the time of 2:36 PM | Comments (5)

January 18, 2012

A Fig Leaf for Newton

Confusticated Conservatives , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Consider this an entry into the suggestion box for Newton Leroy McPherson Gingrich...

Mr. G.;

You're a brilliant guy. But brilliance is not a job requirement (or even much of a benefit) for the chief executive of... well, anything. But particularly the chief executive of the United States, the POTUS.

What we need in a president is (a) administrative skills, (b) a presidential mien, (c) charisma, (d) gravitas, and above all, (e) leadership. A dollop of imagination and creativity helps to turn a good president into a great historical figure; but without the bedrock requirements of a to e, a president's nothing but sass misspelled.

I think it's long overdue to burst your bubble: You are never going to be President of the United States... and you would be a dreadful disappointment if you ever managed it, a conservative Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama.

But that doesn't alter the fact that you're a brilliant, entertaining, and illuminating guy. So can't we put our heads together and find you a better gig than your current booking? Because, to be honest, man, you're running long.

First, let's identify your forte: What you have going for you more than any other characteristic is a scintillating, opalescent, amethystine tongue; if you were Irish, I'd say you'd kissed the Blarney Stone. So let's run with that for a moment.

Have you ever considered that your enduring legacy, your finest moment, your immortality might come from... just -- speaking? Ponder this: Instead of running for the presidency, a frutile and footless task, wouldn't your time be better spent barnstorming the country, giving pep-talks for conservatism and Capitalism and priming the GOP brand?

I honestly believe that the best way for you to save our country and perhaps Western Civ itself would be to terminate your interminable campaign, and get the Republican National Committee to fund a permanent job for Newt Gingrich, yourself, to spend the next ten years speaking at every gathering of a minyan or more of eager ears; to let the gospel of liberty, individualism, American exceptionalism, innovation, Capitalism, and genius ring from every village and every hamlet.

And, oh yes, to leave administration to the administrators, of greater or lesser brilliance.

At least that's how it looks to me. Mitt for la Casa Blanca, but Newton Leroy for the masses!

And while we're at it, let's talk about that "mining the Moon" idea; I have some colleagues who can give you a goatload of suggestions...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 18, 2012, at the time of 12:14 AM | Comments (1)

January 3, 2012

Beldar Bells De Baiter

Confusticated Conservatives , Election Derelictions , Rheumatic Republicans
Hatched by Dafydd

A stand-up comedian was being heckled during his act. He fell silent, staring at the miscreant with a Cheshire-cat smile, while the audience held its breath, expecting bombast and brimstone.

Instead, the performer raised a hand, almost in benediction, and spoke very quietly and directly to the creature horning in on the act. "Do you know what a heckler is?" asked the comic; "a heckler tries to trick a performer into losing his temper... therefore, a heckler is a baiter.

"And at that role, sir, you are a master."

Readers of Big Lizards know that I am loathe merely to point at somebody else's words of wit and say "RTWT," Read the Whole Thing; it seems like cheating to me. But once in a while I read a blogpost so succinct and perfect that I simply must shrug off my own envy and, well, point.

So here it is: To Newt Gingrich, on the occasion of his claiming to have been "Romney-boated", by Beldar.


Newt Gingrich has gotten away with murder in this campaign: He flings out "ideas" without analysis, schemes without strategies for achieving them (and avoiding the pitfalls and pratfalls of real policymaking), and poses as a traditional, staunch, and above all consistent conservative, while bobbing and weaving about his real history of backing and filling, wriggling and flip-flopping, and betimes siding with the Left in the "get along by going along" mode of congressional compromise.

I don't begrudge him his lack of rigid ideological fanaticism; such purity of essence can only be maintained in a faerieland of theory and academe. I love Newt for his energy and willingness to consider the unconsiderable. I would happily invite him to a dinner party.

But it drives me mad when he campaigns by delivering homilies about his own saintliness and conservative constancy with his right hand -- while punching the Right in its collective face whenever convenient to the moment. (In this case, the "Right" includes all anti-liberals and anti-Progressivists.)

Worse, Gingrich -- like that heckler -- likes to bait the other candidates; and yes, he is a master at that form of abuse. But he's too quick to cry foul when he gets back even a little of what he dishes out. Having watched his campaign mode for some time now, he has become my second-least favorite of the notromneys.

I urge all BL readers who don't already read Beldar to being doing so immediately... and you can start with the piece linked above. It's pithy and without pity, but it's fair and balanced.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 3, 2012, at the time of 1:24 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2011

"Occupy White House" and the Election Riots of 2012

Crime and Punishment , Election Derelictions , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

I hope I'm just thinking strategically, but I'm starting to worry about the Left's response to the 2012 general election.

We can expect massive vote fraud of course, but we're used to that; it's endemic and inevitable. Any district where the vote is close, expect the physical and electronic versions of ballot stuffing, ballot destroying, deliberate confusion, and repeated acts of "lawfare," as Democrats try to sue their way into office.

But this year, we might actually see widespread voting violence, which has long been virtually institutionalized in many European and Asian countries. We had a recent inkling of how the Left thinks during the 2008 election in Philadelphia, where members of the New Black Panther Parth intimidated both voters and Republican poll watchers; but next year's violence might involve thousands of radical leftists across the entire country. I have a hard time believing that participants in and supporters of the "Occupy" criminal gangs would get a sudden attack of conscience and reject "Occupying" the polling places.

Thus I anticipate the serious possibility of actual violent assaults at, and attempts to seize control of, hundreds of polling places in swing states, with the deadly serious attempt to allow voting only by Progressivists... and with the Occupiers actually standing in the voting booth with the voter to ensure there's no weaseling or backsliding.

I expect that in many normally Democratic districts that seem to be drifting rightwards, if there is vote-violence, the police will be directed by civilian authorities not to intervene or protect Republican voters. Attorney General Eric Holder has already signalled -- heck, has blatantly told us -- that the DoJ will not prosecute any "hate crime" committed by federally protected minorities against anybody who is not in that favored category; the Occupier goons will naturally assume (and not without good cause) that the DoJ will turn an equally glassy eye on any voter intimidation or outright violent assault that furthers the reelection of Barack H. Obama.

And they'll expect to catch the Right slow-witted, late to realize the danger, and flat-footed, as they did in the 2000 election.

We really, really need some young tea partiers and other conservatives to "hippie up" and infiltrate the Occupiers and related organizations, from radical political groups to violent labor unions; our spies must gather intel about what the Left intends to do, how far they're willing to go, to retain the presidency and the Senate. Will this election fall into the late-60s, early 70s category of "by any means necessary?"

If so, and if the police refuse to protect our sacred franchise, are we prepared to defend it ourselves? I don't know; I sure hope it doesn't come to that.

But if it does, one thing is certain: We cannot allow the Left to chavez the 2012 elections. Defending America means not only defending our physical territory but also our God-given rights -- and the integrity of the institutions that protect and preserve them, including the vote, the secret ballot, and a true and proper enumeration of those ballots.

We cannot afford to cede the vote to thuggery, intimidation, and an army of socialist sabateurs, in the craven hope that maybe we can reverse it in court months later. 2000 was a shot across our bow; next November, a dozen years later, the antiAmerican Left will be more determined than ever to hold their ideological territory... and to hell with what the actual electorate wants.

And a postscript. A number of conservative gatherings have recently been inundated by Occupiers who scream, chant, and play out creepy "call and response" catechisms in an effort to drown out the speech of their political rivals (that is, ordinary American citizens). We have yet to formulate a coherent and winnable response.

I have a suggestion: In all future political events staged by the limited-government Right that are disrupted by the Left, when the latter begin chanting their "99%" and "mike check" mantras, the Right should immediately begin loudly chanting "Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!"

A few on the left might pick up the reference to Animal Farm and be annoyed and offended; but the vast majority will simply be befuddled; and like all lower life forms, when befuddled, they will fall into confusion, disunity, anxiety, and useless floccillation. Some really dumb Occupiers might even pick up the chant themselves, not realizing it didn't come from their own playbook. Either way, it's a win for the forces of liberty and the rule of law.

So please remember and tell your friends: When the Left starts to chant, counterchant the iconic cry of unreconstructed sheep: Four legs good, two legs bad! It'll drive them nuts trying to decode its deeper meaning, and trying to work out whether it's a compliment or an insult.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 15, 2011, at the time of 2:31 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2011

ObamaCare: Double-Edged Scalpel

Election Derelictions , Health Care Horrors , Supreme Beings of Sleazure
Hatched by Dafydd

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has opted to rule on at least some of the issues anent the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (a.k.a., ObamaCare), a rather sticky wicket arises. The decision will likely be announced in mid-2012, a few months before the election; most believe that any decision will affect Barack H. Obama's reelection chances... but the question is, which way?

The naïve analysis is that a decision overturning the individual mandate and perhaps other provisions (the expantion of Medicare, for example) would hurt Obama's chances at the voting booth because it makes him look feckless, foolish, and incompetent. But on the other hand, if the Supremes strike down ObamaCare in whole or in part, that might take some electoral pressure off of Obama, since ObamaCare would no longer loom over Americans' heads.

But on the next hand, many conservatives and independents might already believe absolutely that the Court is going to strike the law down. In this scenario, a decision upholding the law might drive more Americans to vote against Democrats, as that would become the only remaining path to undoing ObamaCare.

But on the fourth hand (in case you lost track), a decision more robustly overturning the law (6-3 or 7-2) would probably fuel the perception that the Obama administration is a lawless regime, thus mainstreaming the arguments of conservative activists. Contrariwise, a decision decisively upholding it would do the opposite, making conservatives who argue that it's unconstitutional seem more extremist and hysterical.

On yet another hand -- in politics, there's always one more hand! -- a 5-4 decision overturning could look nakedly political, since it would almost certainly split exactly along the lines of the president who appointed the justices: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito, appointed by George W. Bush, would join Justice Clarence Thomas (George H.W. Bush) and Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy (Ronald Reagan) in the majority vs. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (Barack Obama) and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer (Bill Clinton).

(The fact that Justice Kagan was Obama's Soliciter General before being elevated to the Court, and that she and may or may not have actually helped prepare the defense of ObamaCare in the District Court hearings, would certainly not help to dispel the notion of politicization.)

In that case, Democrats -- already dancing on the knife-edge of sanity merely by dint of being Democrats -- might be so enraged that they riot across the country (à la the Rodney King police-beating verdict in 1992, which sparked the L.A. riots); such "unrest" (violence and vandalism) would probably help the GOP. But such a verdict would also motivate more Democrats to the polls on November 6th, which would hurt the GOP's chances.

On the sixth hand, a 5-4 decision upholding ObamaCare, which would result from Justice Kennedy crossing over to the dark side, would likely enrage Republicans, who would see Kennedy as yet another RINO seizing his best opportunity to stab his supposed allies in the back. In this case, it would be the Republicans who would rise up en masse to throw the bums out, probably more determinedly than they would if the verdict upholding the law was more lopsided, with "real Republicans" joining the Democratic appointees.

Sadly, I really cannot predict which of these scenarios would play out, and I've run out of hands in any event. The case surely has to be heard; we must have clarity about such an urgent question: Can the federales demand Americans buy a government approved but privately offered commercial product, such as health insurance?

If so, then the list of what Congress can regulate under the "commerce clause" of the Constitution is virtually limitless... meaning we no longer have even the veneer of limited government; we will have become a de-facto parliamentary democracy, just like those in Europe.

Ergo, the Court must rule; but how such clarity will play out on the battlefield of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections is the flip of a coin or the turn of a card, thus fraught with peril for both sides.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 14, 2011, at the time of 5:35 PM | Comments (3)

November 8, 2011

Mr. Slick Goes to Washington - Again?

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Bill Clinton believes that "a former two-term president should be able to run again after having taken some time off" -- but he promises he's not talking about himself. In fact, he will happily raise his hand and swear under oath that he did not have that two-term president, Bill Clinton, in mind:

"I've always thought that should be the rule," he told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. "I think as a practical matter, you couldn't apply it to anyone who has already served, but going forward, I personally believe that should be the rule."

"People are living longer, people are developing greater capacities, so I've always thought that should be the rule, not to affect me or anyone that's served, but going forward," he added.

Obscure, Mr. C.

Does anybody really believe he's saying this entirely altruistically, with not an inkling of self indulgence in mind? Nevertheless, I find it hard to imagine that such a constitutional amendment (which is what it would take) would allow for two-termers to serve a third time (after "some time off") -- but would explicitly exclude anyone whose two terms were already in the bag: "-- but not these guys!"

Which brings to mind this Calliopean calamity, which sprang effortlessly to my fingers, like Obama bursting from the brow of Seuss:

Higgledy Piggledy,
Billious Billery,
Bored in retirement,
Starting to squirm;

Finds his salvation as
Thinks it hilarious:
"I shall re-term!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2011, at the time of 1:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2011

The Cosmic Insignificance of Dead Dictators in American Electoral Politics, Tra La

Dancing Democrats , Election Derelictions , Rheumatic Republicans
Hatched by Dafydd

A friend of mine frets that today's capture and execution of Muammar Qaddafi will change the dynamic of the 2012 presidential election, starting a cascade of support for the embattled incumbent that will allow him to eke out a narrow victory. Many readers may likewise worry that this putative "victory" for Barack H. Obama will "turn the tide," undoing everything conservatives, tea partiers, and even Republicans have done to try to restore fiscal and regulatory sanity to the country, along with the blessing of liberty that are now so imperiled.

But I reject the very premise that this happy death will affect Obama's electoral chances whatsoever. Here's why.

President B.O. has long since proven himself a fool as far as actual governance goes; but if he tries to grab credit for the death of Qaddafi, killed by as yet unknown rebels within the anti-Qaddafi alliance very loosely controlled by the so-called National Transitional Council, Obama will prove himself a fool even as a politician.

(As of this moment, AP is trying to push the meme that Qaddafi's death is part of "a string of foreign policy victories this year for the Obama administration" for Obama; but the President himself is disclaiming personal credit. For a man as conceited as he, that can only mean even he thinks it will not be helpful to his campaign. Consider: The killing of Osama bin Laden was clearly of tremendously greater significance to Americans than the killing of Qaddafi; yet the former assassination yielded only a two-week blip in Obama's approval polling, before it resumed its slide towards Obamic irrelevancy.)

So why doesn't this "victory" translate into a big boost to Obama's faltering reelection campaign, even on the foreign-policy front?

  • The death of Qaddafi does not signify the end of hostilities; it signals only the transition from rebellion against tyranny to full civil war. The NTC controls nothing; there are countless armed militias and armies based in many different regions throughout what used to be called Libya (I say that because I expect the country to fracture into several countries -- de facto if not de jure!) These armed groups will never peacefully surrender their arms (hence their power) to any one of the many factions; they will fight their way to a seat at the big table. Does Obama really want to claim "credit" for a massive civil war with tens or hundreds of thousands of dead in a failed nation of only six and a half million?
  • Because Obama tried to do this on the cheap, without sending any serious contingent of the American military, we shall have next to nothing to say about the ultimate configuration (if any) that X-Libya takes. It could easily end up more like Afghanistan than like Turkey or Iraq, and might even be more like Iran. Does Obama really want to claim credit for Libya going from a brutal fascist dictatorship under Qaddafi to a brutal, radical-Islamist dictatorship under a Muslim Brotherhood-based terrorist coalition?

    Oh yeah; that'll boost his reelection chances.

  • Any putative political benefit the administration might hope to gain due from the Libyan situation already happened when Qaddafi was driven from power months ago; the dénouement of Qaddafi's bodily death is actually an anticlimax. It will likely produce nothing but a shrug from voters before they return to worrying about the economy and Obamacare.
  • Finally, the entire country knows that Obama tried to "lead from behind" in the Libya adventure; he refused even to take the lead role in the NATO involvement, let alone the lead role in the fighting.

    We mostly fought with drone planes armed with Hellfire missiles. While this reticence may have been justified, given the uncertainty of outcome, the One cannot then turn around and believably claim to be Dwight David Eisenhower, or even David Petraeus. We did little, and the whole world knows it.

Maybe it was a good we did little; frankly, I wish we had done even less. But passive acquiescence isn't the "right stuff" on which a jubilant reelection is founded. I believe that Obama has maybe a 30% chance of being reelected; weirder things have happened in presidential years. But the chance that the death of Qaddafi will in any way influence the American presidential election is nil, as near as makes no difference.

The 2012 election -- like every presidential election -- will turn on three cosmic issues, none of which lines up in Obama's favor:

  1. The voters' assessment of Obama's character and tenure, which at the moment is hovering just slightly above the similar assessment of George W. Bush in 2008.

    But of course, Bush wasn't running for reelection then; sorry, B.O.

    This assessment alone is the strongest force pushing towards Obama's defeat: As president, he comes across as weak, vain, vacillating, pompous, incompetent, cowardly, bullying, and peevish; and his policies have almost uniformly enraged the electorate ever since the passage of Obamacare (without a single Republican vote).

  2. The continuing and deteriorating economic situation, exacerbated by policies such as the trillion-dollar stimulus; the failed attempt at a second, half-trillion-dollar bride of stimulus; the tax increases; continual threats of more punitive actions against "the rich" and more redistributionist policies; the staggering number of major, new regulations inhibiting business from recovering; the terrible economic uncertainties stemming from Obamacare; Obama's war on fossil fuels and nuclear power, which has crippled our ability to develop sufficient energy to run a rich country of 300 million souls; and the economic "epistemic closure" of the minds of his advisors and cabinet members, the pandemic of ignorance about Capitalism actually works, which has ripped through the organs of government like fast-moving financial neurovirus, leaving every public civic agency and institution in a state of anti-market madness.
  3. The utter folly of Obama's foreign policy, notwithstanding AP's "string of foreign policy victories." This election, foreign policy is of lesser impact than the other two elements of reelection; but it's still significant, both for the disrespect and mockery which other countries now turn upon America (where once was respect and even fear), and also for the forced kow-towing to Red China (we're so desperate for their investment, which keeps us from total collapse), and our inexplicable, fatalist acquiescence to the provocations of Iran.

    Iran's obvious contempt for us as adversary rose to a crescendo with the massive terrorist bombings Iran tried to perpetrate on American soil, attacks thwarted only because the FBI and DEA took time out from their busy schedule of funneling automatic weapons to Mexican drug lords to befool the Iranian agent at the core of the terrorist attacks.

Those three questions -- assessment of the first term, of the economic state of the Union, and of foreign policy -- are the three legs of the reelection stool for any president. They vary in respective importance from election to election, depending on the situation; but taken together, they nearly always determine the outcome. And the voters' assessments of President B.O. are in freefall on all three fronts.

Can Obama turn it all around in the remaining twelvemonth? It would take divine (or diabolical) intervention to reverse the trendline and pull off what would be the greatest electoral comeback in American history.

But even the possibility of such intervention is stifled by Obama himself, who appears, astonishingly, to believe that he's been a spectacularly good president, that he still enjoys the 70% approval he had right after being elected, and that the people simply love his policies; he thus sees no reason to change even jot or tittle of policy or demeanor. The President thinks that all he must do to be swept into a second term by general acclamation -- possibly without even the fuss and feathers of an election -- is just explain himself better, so the rabble understand his transcendent brilliance and how lucky America is that he has deigned to become our philosopher king. He thinks that he needs only give another speech or two, or fifty, and all will be well.

But for most Americans and for some time now, his speeches have had the opposite effect: They solidify dissent and convince voters that Obama is even more clueless today than in 2008. When charged with being all hat and no cattle, the very worst defense the accused can offer is -- another speech!

For these and many other reasons sufficient to my mind, I cannot see Barack H. Obama managing to pull yet another rabbit out of his sleeve. He had a phenomenal run of luck in 2008, both in world events and in picking the perfect opponent; but such "perfect storms" happen only once in a century. To slightly paraphrase George Orwell, the liberal-fascist octopus has sung its swan song.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 20, 2011, at the time of 4:45 PM | Comments (4)

September 27, 2011

Can'tcha Take a Joke?

Dancing Democrats , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Speaking at the Cary Rotary Club, here's North Carolina Gov. Beverly Eaves "Bev" Perdue (a liberal Democrat -- and if you didn't already know, this quotation should make it plain):

You have to have more ability from Congress, I think, to work together and to get over the partisan bickering and focus on fixing things. I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. The one good thing about Raleigh is that for so many years we worked across party lines. It's a little bit more contentious now but it's not impossible to try to do what's right in this state. You want people who don't worry about the next election.

If Gov. Perdue is worrying about the next congressional (and presidential) elections, she's got good reason!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 27, 2011, at the time of 6:02 PM | Comments (2)

August 15, 2011

Anybody Recall Wisconsin? One More Merry Round to Go!

Dancing Democrats , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Tomorrow marks the final round of recall elections in tattered and bedraggled Wisconsin. I suspect Badger-State voters are thoroughly disgusted, worn out, and getting angrier by the minute; but they can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But of course, Wisconsin Democrats are already plotting yet another round of recall elections in 2012, the moment Republicans elected in 2010 are eligible for being recalled. Evidently, waiting all those months for the normal elections in November is just too great a burden for the Left to be asked to bear.

Attention: Due to the present economic emergency and energy crisis, the light at the end of the tunnel has been temporarily turned off. Please check back later.

The two Democratic state senators on the chopping block this round are:

  • Robert Wirch, 22nd district, challenged by attorney Jonathan Steitz
  • Jim Holperin, 12th district, challenged by Kim Simac, founder of a tea party group in Wisconsin

Both state senators are among those who fled the state to prevent democracy from taking place.

Current polling is wildly divergent: What appears to be a conservative web site, Red Racing Horses, commissioned a poll by We Ask America that found the Holperin-Simac race to be within two points; by contrast, the Daily Kos commissioned a poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP, affiliated with the Democratic National Committee) that found Holperin ahead of Ms. Simac by 14 points, 55-41.

Everyone seems to agree that Democrat Wirch in the other race is in a better position than Holperin; at least, Wirch appears to be favored against his challenger by both sides.

Both polls are for public consumption -- that is, for propaganda and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) purposes, so it's hard to take either of them seriously; there are many ways to manipulate the results of a poll, if that is your intent (which it likely is in both cases). Besides, the Washington Post's Rachel Weiner suggests that both polls are "automated," meaning robo-calls where respondents, whoever they are, poke buttons on the phone to indicate their preferences:

Polls are not much help in predicting the contests’ outcome. Republicans are touting an automated survey that showed the race for Holperin’s seat as too-close-to-call. Democrats counter by pointing to an automated poll that shows both Holperin and Wirch with double-digit leads. (The Washington Post does not publish automated poll results.)

Such polls can be well conducted or utterly meaningless, depending on how well they control for getting the specific respondents they're targeting (rather than the fourteen year old babysitter who answers that evening) and how persistent they are (to avoid the self-selection fallacy). But the WaPo sees both races as volatile and close:

"Our polling shows a bump [in the Holperin race] after last Tuesday’s election, that it’s neck and neck," said Adam Temple, spokesperson for the Republican State Leadership Committee. "It’s anybodys race at this point."

Democrats agree that the Holperin race will be tight.

Polling suggesting these races should be easy is wrong,” said Kelly Steele, spokesman for the labor coalition We Are Wisconsin. "Anyone in the know here will tell you Holperin is a toss-up, and the activity on the ground in the district ... along with the huge TV dump on the Republican side suggests they’re definitely pulling out all the stops. Wirch is safer, but by no means a lock."

Those who can remember all the way back to last Tuesday will recall that the Democrats needed to win three of the six recall elections against the Republicans, but they won only two. That leaves Republicans still in control of the state Senate... but by the thinnest possible margin. Democrats are already wooing several Republicans, hoping to get a defection -- always a distinct possibility when only one is needed: When politicians are told they can name their own price, it takes a stronger character than most of them possess to stand on principle.

But if the GOP can capture one or both of the two Democratic seats up for grabs tomorrow, that will make it much less likely that any Republican will defect. Who in the world would want to be the only defecter when two are needed? He would be defecting from the majority to the minority!

I believe the safest bet is to assume the Holperin race will be close, thus will be won by GOTV -- how many voters each side can motivate to the ballot booth. I suspect turnout for both races will be significantly lower than last week's, since the majority in the Wisconsin state Senate is no longer at stake; that means activists will be much more important, both pro and con.

I can't begin to predict the outcome; but then, neither can anybody else, except partisans confidently prophesying a landslide for their guy (or gal, in Simac's case). But keep watching the styes for tomorrow's tumult!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 15, 2011, at the time of 1:22 PM | Comments (0)

August 9, 2011

Eyeballing Wisconsin...

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Today was the day that Wisconsinites (Wisconseenies?) voted on the attempt to recall six Republican state senators:

  • Robert Cowles (District 2)
  • Alberta Darling (District 8)
  • Sheila Harsdorf (District 10)
  • Luther Olsen (District 14)
  • Randy Hopper (District 18)
  • Dan "Hanky" Kapanke (District 32)

Two races have already been called for the Republican incrumbents: Cowles and Harsdorf; in the remaining races, the Democratic challengers are ahead in three (Darling - 39% of precincts reporting, Hopper - 23% reporting, and Kapanke - 52% reporting), and GOP incumbent Olsen is in the lead in the sixth (95% reporting). I expect the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel will call the Olsen race pretty soon now.

Next Tuesday the 16th is the third and final round of recall elections (District 30 Democrat Dave Hansen retained his seat in the first round of state senate recalls on July 19th); two Democrats are up for recall: Jim Holperin (District 12) and Robert Wirch (District 22).

Republicans currently hold the senate by 19 seats to 14; so if the Democrats can win three of these six elections, they will edge out the Republicans by 17-16. Should that occur, then the GOP will have a second bite at the apple on August 16th, when they can try to flip one or both of the remaining two seats to the Republican side.

Big Labor has spent literally tens of millions of dollars trying to buy the election, for the obvious reason: They want to prevent Gov. Scott Walker from implementing his plans to rescue Wisconsin's economy by, among other things, banning some forms of collective bargaining by government unions. But since government unions don't poll well in Wisconsin (or anywhere else, for that matter), very little of Big Labor's campaign cash went to commercials extolling the virtues of allowing public sector workers (cops, firefighters, government hospital workers, health and safety inspectors, energy-utility workers, garbage collectors, etc.) to unionize and go on strike.

The problem with "public-sector" unions is that there is no adversarial relationship between the parties. In an ordinary private union negotiation, you have at least two sides: (a) unionized workers, who want higher wages and benefits packages; and (b) management, which represents the stockholders and wants to keep costs down.

But with government unions, you have (a) unionized workers, who want higher wages and benefits packages; and (b) elected officials who have no personal skin in the game but are eager to vote for higher wages and benefits packages, because unions kick some of that back money to the politicians' reelection campaigns. Nobody argues the other side, because there are no stockholders -- only hapless taxpayers, and nobody bothers representing them!

I'll periodically update these elections until they're all called. Keep the faith, brother!

UPDATE 8:15 PM PDT (10:15 PM Wisconsin time): The Luther Olsen race was called with him winning, and the Dan Kapanke race was called with Democrat Jennifer Shilling winning.

UPDATE 9:24 PM PDT (11:24 PM Wisconsin time): The Randy Hopper race has been called with Democrat Jessica King as the winner. But happily, Republican Alberta Darling, the last remaining uncalled race (District 8), has snuck back into the lead, 53%-47%, with 80% of the precincts reporting! Keep your eyes crossed that this one holds; because if it does, then the Democrats will have captured only two seats -- and they needed three to take the state senate.

The Darling race could still turn back again, but the Democrats are running out of time. Even if it does, and the Democrats bag their three, the GOP would only need to flip one of the two Democratic seats to Republican derrières next Tuesday. (While writing this update, the precincts reporting perked up to 82% with the vote still 53-47 in favor of Darling.)

(Had the Dems taken five of the six seats -- instead of either two or three, depending on the Darling senator -- then they would have been guaranteed control of the senate.)

UPDATE 10:35 PM PDT (12:35 AM Wisconsin time): ¡Rabanos Radiactivos! The Darling race has just been called -- and Republican Alberta Darling has held her seat! In the end, it wasn't even close. (Take that, Hindrocket.)

Assuming this is a good call (99% of precincts reporting, Darling eight points ahead), the Democrats have failed to capture their third seat. The GOP still controls the Wisconsin state senate, no matter what happens next Tuesday.

Adios, muchachos!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 9, 2011, at the time of 8:13 PM | Comments (2)

July 9, 2011


Dancing Democrats , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Thus spake Politico:

President Obama’s senior political adviser David Plouffe said Wednesday that people won’t vote in 2012 based on the [greater than 9%] unemployment rate.

Good Lord... does the Plouffter predict something even worse dominating the election instead?

One shudders to imagine!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 9, 2011, at the time of 5:49 PM | Comments (0)

June 4, 2011

I Like Paul Ryan, But... vol. 1

Election Derelictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In company with Beldar, I am a big fan of the Roadmap for America's Future, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 96%), Chairman of the House Budget Committee; I believe it to be the best and most feasible plan for true economic recovery in the United States... in fact, the only feasible plan; and at that only feasible in the 113th (next) Congress. But unlike Beldar, I am still rather skeptical of electing (or for heaven's sake, "drafting") Ryan to become President of the United States. I just don't know enough about the man, the Commander, or the leader.

I am a bit shaken, for example, by this speech of Ryan's, delivered last Thursday to the Alexander Hamilton Society, outlining his views (Ryan's, not Hamilton's) on foreign and military policy. In particular, I am troubled by the lack of specificity, of any real plan to defeat the axis of radical Islamism, of any real understanding of what such a long war entails, and especially by the "on the one hand, on the other hand" dithering that reminds me rather disturbingly of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA, 85%).

Heck, Ryan doesn't even seem to have much of an opinion on non-economic domestic policy either, at least as far as one can tell from his official website. His interests seem somewhat limited, although if he runs, I'm sure he'll flesh them out some; his only committee assignments are the Budget, Ways and Means, and the Ways and Means subcommittee on Health -- which I presume primarily deals with health care from an economic perspective. Ryan is a green-eyeshade accountant, good on economic issues; but the presidency encompasses so much more than that!

He gives us no discussion of strategy in the long war, neither grand nor regional strategy. His only reference to our greatest cultural and wartime enemy, Iran, and its national (Syria) and extra-national extensions (Hezbollah), is almost farcical in its perfunctoriness:

In Syria and Iran, we are witnessing regimes that have chosen the opposite path. Instead of accommodating the desires of their peoples for liberty and justice, these regimes have engaged in brutal crackdowns, imprisoning opposition leaders, and killing their own citizens to quell dissent....

We have a responsibility to speak boldly for those whose voices are denied by the jackbooted thugs of the tired tyrants of Syria and Iran. [Emphasis added.]

This is straight out of Lewis Carroll:

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

Our Iran strategy is to verbally chastise them? And what else? What are we going to do to counter Iran's determined war against us, against our allies in the Middle East and Europe, and its existential threat to Israel?

Anent Israel, he has little of substance to say:

What we can do is affirm our commitment to democracy in the region by standing in solidarity with our longstanding allies in Israel and our new partners in Iraq.

Meaning what? Does he support or oppose a Palestinian state? With what boundaries? Contiguous, even if that means Israel must be cut in half? I wish he would just spill the beans about what he really would do, were he living in la Casa Blanca.

How about the other prong of the axis: the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al-Qaeda, and other extra-national threats to the United States and the West? He never really addresses this scourge squarely; in fact, he only mentions al-Qaeda once:

Our ability to affect events is strongest in Iraq and Afghanistan, where for the last decade we have been fighting the scourge of global terrorism. In these countries, we can and we must remain committed to the promotion of stable governments that respect the rights of their citizens and deny terrorists access to their territory.

Although the war has been long and the human costs high, failure would be a blow to American prestige and would reinvigorate al Qaeda, which is reeling from the death of its leader. Now is the time to lock in the success that is within reach.

Would anything here sound strange or bizarre coming from George W. Bush -- or Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 73%), John Kerry, or even Barack H. Obama? This is simply hand-waving: He recognizes that since we have troops in those two countries, we have more of a say there; that we like stable governments that respect rights; and that it would be bad if we screwed up now. It tells us exactly nothing about Ryan's strategy for the Middle East and Central Asia.

What's his plan for eliminating, or at least crippling, the wave of violent, anti-American, anti-Jew, anti-democratic, thoroughly radicalized Islamism? Has he one? Has he even thought about it?

Ryan does recognize that there's a series of revolutions going on in Arabia (or perhaps one many-headed, revolutionary hydra). Here is his prescription, such as it is:

In the Arab Spring we are seeing long-repressed populations give voice to the fundamental desire for liberty [on the one hand...]. But we are also seeing the risks that emerge when the advancement of freedom is stunted for want of the right institutions [on the other hand]. In such societies, the most organized factions often lack tolerance and reject pluralism. Decades without a free press have led many to treat conspiracy theories as fact.

It is too soon to tell whether these revolutions will result in governments that respect the rights of their citizens [on the one hand...], or if one form of autocracy will be supplanted by another [on the other hand]. While we work to assure the former [on the one hand...], American policy should be realistic about our ability to avert the latter [on the other hand].

I hate that formulation, which Kerry made famous in 2004; I suppose it's intended to sound above the fray, taking the long view, seeing all sides. But what the heck does it mean as a practical matter?

  • What criteria should we employ to separate new "governments that respect the rights of their citizens" from those where "one form of autocracy will be supplanted by another?"
  • Should we help the revolutionaries that appear to fall in the first category?
  • If so, how? With American forces, with arms, with "advisors," with humanitarian aid, or just with brave words of exhortation?
  • Should we interfere with revolutions that appear more like the latter category, say those that appear headed towards creating a sharia state ruled by Hamas or the Ikwan, the Muslim Brotherhood?
  • If so, how? Merely with strong words of denunciation, with monetary aid to the existing government, with intelligence sharing and advice, or with actual U.S. troops helping put down the latest incarnation of the Moro Rebellion?

It's nice that he hopes the rebellions are led by democratic republican nation-builders; but as the saying goes, hope is not a strategy. What actual policies would Ryan push?

Ryan tells us he opposes promiscuous budget-cutting in the Department of Defense (though I'm sure we already knew that):

A more prosperous economy enables us to afford a modernized military that is properly sized for the breadth of the challenges we face. Such a military must also be an efficient and responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in order to maintain the confidence of the American people. The House-passed budget recognizes this, which is why it includes the $78 billion in defense efficiency savings identified by Secretary Gates.

By contrast, President Obama has announced $400 billion in new defense cuts, saying in effect he’ll figure out what those cuts mean for America’s security later. Indiscriminate cuts that are budget-driven and not strategy-driven are dangerous to America and America’s interests in the world. Secretary Gates put it well: “that’s math, not strategy.”

But what is Ryan's vision of the ideal military for the United States in 2013 and beyond?

  • What mix of traditional combat units and units organized more for counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare does he forsee?
  • What mix of expensive high-tech and cheaper low-tech?
  • How much should we rely on air power versus boots in the mud?
  • How much should we invest in battlefield intelligence -- including exotic (and expensive!) new intel platforms?
  • What is his position on gays being allowed to serve openly in the military and women being allowed to serve in overt combat roles?

On virtually every issue other than the budget and intimately related programs, Paul Ryan's policies seem vague, if not MIA, a fluffy cloud of good wishes and skyhooks. I'm not saying he doesn't have specific visions or ideas about them, nor even that they would be antithetical to my own positions; I simply can't say, because he won't enunciate his non-economic positions with clarity and precision.

In fact, if you read the entire speech, he appears observe everything on America's plate through the crystal goblet of economic policy. For example, he is scornful of President B.O.'s proposal to cut $400 billion from the Pentagon budget (over some number of years), yet proud of his own proposal to cut $78 billion -- solely (it seems to me) because Ryan's plan, unlike the president's, is that of "an efficient and responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in order to maintain the confidence of the American people."

Well that's fine. It's nice to be fine. Who could be opposed to efficiency and responsibility anent taxpayer dollars? But given the military's function, there are other overriding concerns.

Ryan mentions grand strategy as an afterthought, never making any attempt to define it or flesh it out. He is either unaware of (or uninterested in) designing a force structure based upon the missions we expect them to undertake; he focuses instead like a laser pointer on how much we can afford to pay.

And what about non-economic, non-budgetary, domestic policies? Where does Ryan stand on vital issues such as:

  • The right to self defense (on his website, he sees gun rights only in terms of "Sportsman's Issues")
  • Defending DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act
  • Card check (I presume he's agin' it, but has he ever said so in a policy speech?)
  • The misuse of the Endangered Species Act to shut down farms, recreational facilities, factories, power plants, and suchlike
  • A federal law requiring picture ID for federal elections and allowing states to implement the same requirement for state and local elections

Hard to say where he stands, as not a single one of these issues is so much as mentioned on his website.

He does discuss immigration policy; his position is quotidian within the Republican Party, falling somewhere between Hugh Hewitt and John McCain -- e.g., he supports 700 miles of actual fencing plus a "virtual fence," but he opposes an immediate "path to citizenship" for existing illegal immigrants. Nothing here but standard positions that could be enunciated by 90% of the Republican congressional conference.

His energy policies seem adequate, though I'm not a fan of his insistance upon "alternative energy" and "conservation" (the latter means continuing to increase the CAFE (combined average fuel economy) standards by government fiat, rather than allowing the market itself to take care of the problem. Again, there's nothing original or particularly interesting here: He wants to streamline regulation of gasoline refining and nuclear power plants. I can't tell if he supports ethanol subsidies.

None of this gives me confidence that Ryan would be a leader on any issue other than the economy. None of this encourages me to call for him to be drafted into the presidential snoozeapalooza.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 4, 2011, at the time of 3:26 PM | Comments (1)

April 16, 2011

Can't Buy Me Love - But How About Reelection?

Election Derelictions , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities
Hatched by Dafydd

President Barack H. Obama plans to raise north of one billion dollars for his reelection:

By inaugurating what could be the first $1 billion campaign in history so early, Obama has gotten the jump on a scattered GOP field reluctant to take the plunge and hits the starting line months earlier than George W. Bush did for his 2004 reelection bid.


Note that this is the amount Obama personally plans to raise; it doesn't include the expenditures by the Democratic National Committee, monetary and in-kind contributions by labor unions and "Progressivist" corporations (that would be most of them), and of course moneys raised and spent by "independent" political groups, such as, George Soros's Open Society Institute, MALDEF, National Council of La Raza, CAIR, Big Media, the Mafia, and so forth.

The early announcement is not surprising; under Obama's personalized version of the Live-In Constitution, the oath of office at the end of Article II, Section 1 reads:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully campaign for the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend my continued occupation of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, come regulatory hell or confiscatory taxes.

The current campaign-spending record is $740.6 million, spent in 2008 by some fellow with the amusing, sound-alike name of Barack H. Obama -- which itself eclipsed the previous record of $345 million spent by George W. Bush for his successful 2004 reelection by a whopping 115%.


(John McCain also outspent Bush in the same 2008 election, but by a paltry $23 million.)

The odds are good that Obama can do it -- raise the money, that is. (I wonder how much of it will come, directly or indirectly, by a commodius vicus of recirculation, from his stimulus scheme?) But that begs the more arresting question: Does such staggering spending truly guarantee reelection for the Obamunist?

In general, the political establishment says yes, it does. The nomenklatura believe that there is a direct, one-to-one correspondence between money spent and votes received. Thus, our spendthrift president merely extends his claim that all government spending is stimulative to the equally vacuous premise that all campaign spending is effective: You may not like ObamaCare the first fifty times you see a commercial extolling it; but the 51st time -- or the 74th, or the 293rd time (billion-dollar pockets run deep) -- it will seem suddenly brilliant and indisputable.

Hence the meme that the biggest campaign spending spree wins the election, via argumentum ad infinitum. What I tell you five thousand times starts to sound true.

I cannot seem to find a site that lists the campaign expenditures for each major candidate for every presidential election; but I'm sure that it's usually the case that the biggest spender wins. However, I'm equally sure that there have been occasions, even in electing a president, where the biggest spender was the biggest loser.

Here is what's wrong with the reasoning. Most of the time, the guy with the most money is also the guy with the largest number of contributors. But recently, we've begun seeing a disconnect between those two measurements. In particular, with every election, the Democrats become more and more the party of the rich and agitated. Nowadays, the mean average size of Democratic contributions is considerably larger than for Republicans: The pachydermic pretender receives much smaller checks from many more people, while the Donkey king receives humongously larger checks from a much smaller number of contributors.

When average contribution amount per contributor is similar between the parties, then moneys received is a good proxy for electoral support. But when a large gap yawns between the parties, then a candidate can receive less money overall than his opponent, yet still have a significantly larger base of support in a one man, one vote election.

At that point, the big-money low-support candidate must use some of that moolah, not to put too fine a point on it, to butter-up, browbeat, bribe, and even bamboozle voters to support him:

  • Vote for Joe because that's what all the smart people like you are doing.
  • -- because you won't get a moment's peace if Joe loses.
  • -- because Joe will "bring home the bacon" (and make you pay for it later in taxes; but you'll pay them anyway, and this way you'll get something as well as forking something over).
  • -- because Joe supports everything you stand for... and everything your mortal enemy stands for, too!

In the present case, for example, President B.O. will spend hundreds of millions of 2012 dollars trying to make voters believe that his reelection he is a spending-cutter, strong on national defense, a great believer in American exceptionalism, a health-care reformer, and above all, a big-time job creator; that he'll "soak the rich" for trillions of dollars of free money, just for you; that if you vote Republican, your grandmother will be forced to live under a rock and eat dog food; and that Obama's reelection is inevitable anyway, because he's the strong horse!

Imagine an ad buy pushing all of the above... a billion dollars worth. Well, you don't need to imagine; just wait a couple of months, and you can watch it unfold in "reel" time.

So why aren't I putting my head through a noose and pulling the trigger? Because something monumental has changed since the election of Bill Clinton: Americans are no longer hogtied to the Magpie Media. "Intellectual dissent" no longer comprises a chronically constipated George Will sniffing in on This Week with David Brinkley. Today, with a myriad of channels through which the average Dick and Jane can harvest the news, from outré television outlets like Fox News Channel and CBN, to conservative news-sites like Newsmax or the Washington Times, to a yearly raft of conservative books, to YouTube, Farcebook, Twitterdom, and direct e-mail. Patterico put it succinctly:

One of the most important points of Andrew Breitbart’s new book is that conservatives can use New Media to fight Big Media’s narrative -- and to reshape it according to the truth.

Obama focuses obsessively on trying to control the new media; he seems unaware that nobody possibly can: Even if the president spammed every e-mail account in the United States, I doubt he would net more than a handful of "road-to-Washington" conversions. Because the new media is to a large extent a distributed, non-local, unregulated, non-heirarchical communications model -- one that is rapidly being folded into the Popular Front for Liberty -- the very act of trying to dominate it turns consumers off.

If Obama is as ham-fisted with new media as he has been with the old, even his supporters will find themselves unmotivated to motivate to the polls; they will stay home in droves next year.

Presidential candidates need to learn what information and politicking their potential voters truly want from them. And honestly, what most of us really want is a deeper, more adult discussion of policies, as opposed to condescending head-patting and tut-tutting, coupled with extortive threats and sepulchral prophecies of doom. Democrats are real wizards at firing off phosphoric fabulation; but their content, based upon the Think Progress and Hufflepuffington Post model, leaves so much to be desired that often it can't even inspire the choir.

This election, this time, the GOP has the substance, the gravitas, and also the means to slither around the three-headed gate-keeper to get meaningful information into the hands and minds of the voters. And not all the money in the world spent spewing the same old Spam in a can is going to give Lucky Lefty any advantage against any reasonable Republican nominee. (Note I said reasonable; if the GOP nominates Donald Trump, all bets are off.)

Obama may still win; but if so, it will certainly not be because he burned his mountain of cash like a Kwakiutl potlatch.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 16, 2011, at the time of 9:10 PM | Comments (5)

April 6, 2011

The Self-Executing Playground President

Election Derelictions , Rheumatic Republicans
Hatched by Dafydd

In our previous "Playground President" post, I noted Steven Hayward's boosterism of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 96%) and suggested that Ryan might well be the next playground presidential candidate. In response, infamous commenter Milhouse -- straight from his stunning success at persuading Patterico, the Unwary Godmother of conservative legal blogdom, that H.R. 1255 was indeed constitutional after all -- objected to Hayward's suggestion that Ryan should run for the presidency.

Our three related posts comprise:

  1. The Playground President -- in which we defined it
  2. Found - a Playground Presidential Candidate? -- in which we did find it
  3. The Self-Executing Playground President -- you're readin' it!

Milhouse's argument is that Paul Ryan has as yet no significant administrative experience; his comment (Milhouse's, not Ryan's):

Ryan has one huge flaw: he has no executive experience. What he needs to do is spend this term and the next making headlines as "Mr Budget", then either go for Speaker or else take a job in the administration elected in 2012, perhaps Treasury Secretary or OMB director; or else, if Scott Walker decides not to run for a second term in Wisconsin (having perhaps been lured to Washington), Ryan should run for that. Once he's got a term or two as governor or cabinet secretary under his belt, he should start thinking about the presidency.

Now first, please note that I did not endorse Ryan for president. Neither did I knock the idea; I expressed no opinion. I said that Hayward had persuaded me that Ryan would actually shake up the presidential race and had the best chance of being elected of any of the candidates I've seen so far. I likewise agree with Hayward that Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty are the only two others that impress me as potential winners against Barack H. Obama... so far. (This is more a response to commenter Mr. Michael than to Milhouse.)

But let's dive into Milhouse's objection; does Paul Ryan (or any candidate) truly need prior executive experience to (a) be elected, and (b) make a success of his presidency? We can start with the historical record.

From 1900 until just before the 2008 election, there were eighteen elected presidents; four of them (22%) had no significant executive experience -- that is, not the president, nor a governor, general, or cabinet secretary -- the first time they were elected.

(Note that I do not consider having been Vice President to be "significant executive experience": The office is undefined, other than post-mortem and breaking ties in the Senate; and the V.P. does not have a huge staff to manage.)

Non-executive presidents, 1900-2008:

  • Warren Harding
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Richard Nixon
  • George H.W. Bush (he was Director of Central Intelligence for less than one year)

Successful non-executive Chief Executives were slightly more common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; of the twenty presidential electees (Millard Filmore, Andrew Johnson, and Chester A. Arthur were never elected president), those without significant prior executive experience numbered five (25%):

  • John Adams
  • Franklin Pierce
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • James Garfield
  • Benjamin Harrison

Looking over the list, the proportion of good, bad, mixed, and indifferent presidents seems about the same among those with previous executive experience and those without: Arguably, our greatest president, Lincoln, had none, while arguably our worst (until now), Jimmy Carter, was a successful governor of Georgia. Ronald Reagan (executive) was a great president; while Nixon (none) was great in some ways and terrible in others. Woodrow Wilson (executive) was a dreadful tyrant who tried to remake America, much as the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has; Adams (none) turned out to be a mediocre administrator and a weak leader. There seems little correlation between previous executive experience and competence, let alone greatness.

But let's get to cases on our current president, Barack H. Obama (none). Would anybody here argue that the worst thing about Obama is his lack of administrative ability? Good grief!

I believe the worst thing about him is his ideological blindness, his mad desire to create a hellish utopia, his reckless foreign policy, his hatred of Capitalism, his willingness to lie to the American people in order to accomplish his government-aggrandizing schemes, and his seeming belief that all the money belongs to the government, which lets us borrow some of it for a while (if we're good).

But we've seen all those attributes before in presidents with tremendous executive experience... for example, Franklin Roosevelt, who served three years as governor of America's largest state before being elected President of the United States. And he was as bad or worse in 1944, after having served for three terms as POTUS. (Talk about your executive experience!)

In terms of the epigram of the fox and the hedgehog, by the great, ancient Greek poet Archilochus (680-645 BC) -- "the fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing" -- I think we would have to say that Paul Ryan is a hedgehog; the one big thing he knows about is the economy and how to rescue it; while Obama is a fox, but a foolish one: He knows many little things, but most of them ain't so.

Not only can a hedgehog candidate easily defeat a fox incumbent, if his "one big thing" resonates with the voters and has sufficient gravitas to matter; but a hedgehog president can wreak profound wonders, if circumstances give him time and breathing room. Again, think of Reagan, whose two big things (a double-humped, bactrian hedgehog) were shattering the Soviet Union and rebuilding the American economy.

It would be nice if Ryan had had some previous executive experience; but if he was to wait until 2016, his moment might have passed -- either because a previous president already solved it, or because four more years of Obamunism will have utterly vaporized American economic exceptionalism.

I would ten thousands times rather see President Paul Ryan than President B.O.; and I would at least five times rather see President Paul Ryan than Chairman Paul Ryan; the former brings far more "welly" to the grand goal of gestating the Ryan recovery plan.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 6, 2011, at the time of 2:10 AM | Comments (2)

April 5, 2011

Found - a Playground Presidential Candidate?

Election Derelictions , Rheumatic Republicans
Hatched by Dafydd

In a previous post, the Playground President, we explored the possibility that one way to shake up the 2012 election and likely even beat the incrumbent Barack H. Obama was for the GOP to nominate someone out of the blue. I used the analogy of a basketball phenom who comes, not via the normal route of high school and college, but as a complete unknown from the playground.

I described the possible "playground candidate" thus:

  • Type I: People who are already famous in a field outside of politics.
  • Type II: the ultra-rich celebrity candidate who can self-fund his own campaign and don't need no steenkin' donors.
  • Finally, there is Type III: the successful businessman who isn't a huge celebrity, but who exudes an odor of quiet fiscal competence.

I should have (but didn't) consider one variation on Type III: A successful politician who has, however, never been seriously considered as one of the "usual suspects," the pool where presidential candidates normally spawn.

Steven Hayward of Power Line -- who also occasionally contributes, or so I am told, to some other venue called the National Review, improbably enough -- believes he has found just such a man:

All of this raises the important question: Should [Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 96%)] run for President? Right now everyone is saying the Republican field is "lackluster" or boring. I don't happen to agree. I'm a fan of both [former Minnesota Gov. Tim] Pawlenty and [Indiana Gov. Mitch] Daniels. (I've seen Pawlenty in person lately and thought he was quite good, and getting better by the day.) But to the extent there is any truth to this, Ryan looks like the one person who could electrify the Republican electorate, appeal to independent voters, and sustain an argument against Obama that would make for a decisive election.

Ryan is young, has young children, and has lots of reasons to wait. But one can't choose one's moments in politics. I can imagine a set of circumstances in which his budget proposal gets little traction against White House intransigence, and by the fall the political winds are such that entering the race makes so much sense that he has to do it. And increasingly he looks to me like the single best candidate the Republicans could field next year.

So how does Ryan stack up as a modified Type III playground candidate? Here are some of the criteria I listed:

Note that Type III only plays well in an election that is (nearly) all about the economy -- like 2012.

Yep, sounds about right.

He would have to be seen as fiscally conservative and socially middle of the road; seen as a uniter (whether he turns out to be isn't relevant to the election itself); a non-ideologue; and definitely not a flamboyant, larger than life personality -- that's Type II, not Type III.

I believe Ryan exemplifies all these attributes so perfectly, we might as well paste his mug under the dictionary entry for playground president, if any dictionary would deign to list such an entry. (Oh, you know what I mean.)

He would have to be staggeringly wealthy but not too famous (else he falls into the Type II "Donald Trump" category instead).

This is where "modified" comes into play: Ryan is not, of course, "staggeringly wealthy;" he would have to get people to donate to his campaign. Call that a strike against him being a playground candidate.

He would have to come from the financial sector, not simpy an industrialist or technologist, like T.J. Rodgers (Cypress Semiconductor) or Bill Gates (Microsoft); his entire selling point would be that he can fix the economy.

Here is a bit of Ryan's curriculum vitae from Wikipedia:

Born and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin, Ryan graduated from Miami University and worked as a marketing consultant and an economic analyst. In the late 1990s he worked as an aide to United States Senator Bob Kasten, a legislative director for Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, and a speechwriter for former Congressman, and Vice Presidential Nominee Jack Kemp of New York....

Ryan is the chairman of the House Budget Committee, where he has advocated for his Roadmap for America, a long-term spending reduction proposal which has received mixed endorsement from his party.

(The late Jack Kemp, longtime advocate of the economics of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, earned the nickname "Mr. Supply-Side" for his evangelism for that economic philosophy; he is probably the man who persuaded Ronald Reagan to cut taxes, reduce spending (to the extent that was possible), attack inflation, and streamline regulations.)

I'd say that's equivalent to a businessman coming from the financial sector. Back to my own criteria for playground candidates:

He would have to be statesmanlike but not come across as a political insider (else nobody would trust him).


Alas, I'm sorry to say that I suspect the next GOP candidate will have to be a white male with a Western European sounding name. Obama represented a breakthrough milestone -- the first serious black presidential candidate; and typically after such a bold result, voters retreat to the tried and true, especially when the "other" is viewed as a fatally flawed president, wildly partisan and stunningly inexperienced... which Obama is increasingly viewed as on both left and right.

His name is Paul Ryan (not Bunyan) for goodness' sake; and here's his head shot:

Paul Ryan

I believe Hayward makes a very convincing case that Ryan would shake up the race more than any other proposed Republican candidate; read his post yourselves and let me know what you think.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 5, 2011, at the time of 2:59 AM | Comments (2)

March 29, 2011

The Playground President

Election Derelictions , Rheumatic Republicans
Hatched by Dafydd

Friend Lee is a big fan of organized sports; for example, he follows professional, college, and even high-school basketball (though his first love is tennis) in a way that is totally alien to me. Some years ago, F.L. said something that had never occurred to me, but which upon reflection made perfect sense: It would be almost impossible for a phenomenal basketball player, like a Michael Jordan, to come up through the normal school ranks without serious fans of the game being aware of him long before he became a star.

There was one exception, however, and that was if the phenom did not play in high school or college but instead came from "the playground." Such a player might be overlooked even by rabid basketbrawl fanatics until he exploded onto the pro scene.

I was intrigued by the unknown but brilliant playground player and recently began mulling it in the realm of presidential politics. By "brilliant," I specifically mean a genius at getting elected; and by a "playground player," I mean a candidate who flies below the radar until he suddenly bursts, fully formed, onto the scene and captures the nomination and presidency.

The most recent example is, of course, Barack H. Obama himself. While I confidently predicted that Sen. Hillary "Fist Lady" Clinton would never, ever be the Democratic presidential nominee, I admit I had no idea at the beginning of that electoral cycle that Obama would be, in that sense at least, the One. I was sure some better known candidate would move in when Hillary began to falter and take the nomination. There were many possibilities: Former V.P. nominee John Edwards, former Gov. Tom Vilsack, Gov. Bill Richardson; I was shocked that none of them could gain any traction at all, and that in the end, Obama would win the brass ring.

Despite 2008, the phenomenon of the playground president, where a nominee seemingly comes out of nowhere, is vanishingly rare nowadays; usually, both parties nominate well-known politicians:

  • 2004: Incumbent George W. Bush vs. very well known Sen. JFK II.
  • 2000: Former Vice President Algore vs. popular TX Gov. GWB.
  • 1996: Incumbent Clinton vs. Senate Majority Leader Blob Dole.
  • 1992: Little known AK Gov. Bill Clinton vs. Incumbent GHWB.
  • 1988: Former VP GHWB vs. very well known MA Gov. Michael Dukakis.
  • 1984: Incumbent Ronald Reagan vs. former VP Walter Mondale.
  • 1980: Incumbent Jimmy Carter vs. extremely well known former CA Gov. Reagan.
  • 1976: Incumbent Gerald Ford vs. fairly well known GA Gov. Carter.
  • 1972: Incumbent Richard Nixon vs. well known peacenik, Sen. George McGovern.
  • 1968: Former VP Nixon vs. extremely well known Sen. Hubert Humphrey.
  • 1964: Incumbent Lyndon Johnson vs. even more extremely well known Sen. Barry Goldwater.
  • 1960: Two powerhouses: Nixon and the first JFK.

There's actually a good reason why we have so few playground presidents: In order to win the nomination, let alone the office itself, a candidate needs staggering sums of campagin funds; in order to get such vast sums, most people need millions of donors; and in order to gain that many donors, a candidate needs a huge level of political celebrity prior to the campaign itself. Ergo, most candidates are already quantities well-known to the electorate.

There are some exceptions to the political-celebrity rule:

  • Type I: People who are already famous in a field outside of politics.

Such alternative celebrities can sometimes generate the necessary campaign contributions and mass support, but they must have gravitas and leadership -- which is one reason why nobody whose celebrity has come primarily from the entertainment world has ever won the presidency.

Picture a military hero, like Dwight D. Eisenhower, or a humanitarian activist and long-time cabinet member, like Herbert Hoover. But of course, both were extremely well known long before their winning candidacies, both were widely expected to win as soon as they announced; and neither was a bolt from the blue, which is the phenomenon we're exploring.

  • Type II: the ultra-rich celebrity candidate who can self-fund his own campaign and don't need no steenkin' donors.

Donald Trump fills that role for the 2012 election. If Trump were to win the nomination, and especially if he beats Obama, I would definitely call him a playground president and wild long shot... but I don't expect him even to come close in either venue.

  • Finally, there is Type III: the successful businessman who isn't a huge celebrity, but who exudes an odor of quiet fiscal competence.

Note that Type III only plays well in an election that is (nearly) all about the economy -- like 2012.

He would have to be seen as fiscally conservative and socially middle of the road; seen as a uniter (whether he turns out to be isn't relevant to the election itself); a non-ideologue; and definitely not a flamboyant, larger than life personality -- that's Type II, not Type III. Rupert Murdoch would be a distinct possibility this year, were it not for the fact that he was born an Australian; and if Mitt Romney hadn't served as Governor of Massachusetts, with the concomitant and faintly damning track record, he would be another strong possibility.

The first two types of playground candidates would already be very well known today, though not in the capacity of politician. The only plausible example that springs to my mind is Gen. David Petraeus; I believe that if he retired from the Army and declared himself a Republican candidate for office, he would brush the other GOP candidates aside and then prevail against Obama himself. (If Petraeus ran as a Democrat, I doubt he could unseat the sitting POTUS in the Democratic primaries.) I can't think of any other celebrity who would have both the heft and the bottom to mount a serious and effective "outsider" campaign.

But what about a Type III playground presidential candidate?

He would have to be staggeringly wealthy but not too famous (else he falls into the Type II "Donald Trump" category instead).

He would have to come from the financial sector, not simpy an industrialist or technologist, like T.J. Rodgers (Cypress Semiconductor) or Bill Gates (Microsoft); his entire selling point would be that he can fix the economy.

He would have to be statesmanlike but not come across as a political insider (else nobody would trust him).

I cannot think of any financiers who fit that bill -- but of course, by definition, he wouldn't be well known and could easily fly below the radar until he outlasts the other candidates in his party. Still, it's dicey right now, as nearly every famous financier has weighed in either for or against the Obamic stimulus bills, which makes him an ideologue of necessity. Maybe after a few electoral cycles, when we haven't a recent memory of a wildly divisive fiscal policy to use as a mental litmus test.

Alas, I'm sorry to say that I suspect the next GOP candidate will have to be a white male with a Western European sounding name. Obama represented a breakthrough milestone -- the first serious black presidential candidate; and typically after such a bold result, voters retreat to the tried and true, especially when the "other" is viewed as a fatally flawed president, wildly partisan and stunningly inexperienced... which Obama is increasingly viewed as on both left and right. This is another reason that Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal would be wise not to run in 2012; it's a tough sell to elect the first female or the first Indian president right after the first black president.

Given the unlikelihood of Petraeous deciding that now is the time to mount his white horse, I fear we're going to be stuck with one of the usual suspects on the GOP side -- probably a current or former governor -- and of course Barack Obama on the Democratic side. This means that Obama starts a floor of 50% support. This is not an "anybody but the incrumbent" election, as it was in 1976, 1980, and 2008; Obama will only lose to a brilliant and aggressive campaigner. That gives the edge to someone like Haley Barbour or Tim Pawlenty.

But still there is always that lightning-bolt chance of a playground presidential candidate; and if he appears, then all bets will be at sixes and nines.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 29, 2011, at the time of 7:12 PM | Comments (2)

December 23, 2010

Coming to Our Census

Dancing Democrats , Election Derelictions , Rheumatic Republicans
Hatched by Dafydd

I've been toying with the reapportionment numbers triggered by the 2010 Census, and it's rather interesting. (Well, interesting to math folks.)

My first curiosity was how the current reapportionment (and the 2000 one) would have altered the 2000 election. In that contest between George W. Bush and Al "Lawfare" Gore, Bush prevailed by an electoral score of 271 to Gore's 266. (In 2000, one of D.C.'s three electors abstained instead of voting for Gore, who won the District; thus Gore only got 266 votes instead of the 267 he actually earned.)

But following the two reapportionments -- that is, adjusting the states won by each party according to the newest electoral-vote count for each state -- the result in 2012 would be 285 for the Republican and 253 for the Democrat; in other words, Gore could have won up to 15 more electoral votes than he did, one or two (or three or four!) extra states, yet still have lost by a clear majority of electoral votes, 270 to 268... that's how much strength the Republicans have gained since 2000 by population growth and shifting alone.

Side issue: I just read a risible article on titled Census Won't Help GOP in 2012 Presidential Race, the take-home of which is this:

Any gains that flow to Republicans in Congress because of redistricting after the 2010 census are not likely to carry over to the 2012 presidential race, The New York Times FiveThirtyEight political blog reports. President Barack Obama, for example, would have won the White House in 2010 even if the electoral college then had looked like it will in 2012.

In fact, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver writes, “the outcome of every presidential election in the past century would have been the same had the new numbers been used.”

This has to be one of the stupidest articles ever written. What the headline writer actually meant was not that reapportionment "won't help GOP in 2012," but rather than reapportionment has never been determinative... which is trivially true, as it's rare that the electoral college vote is so close that a swing of fifteen electoral votes (EVs) would switch it; and in the 2000 election -- when it was that close and even closer -- the winning party is also the party that saw electoral improvement due to reapportionment.

But consider: If any small states (adding up to 15 or fewer EVs) on Bush's side had fallen to Gore, then Algore would have won the electoral vote by 269 to 268 or better. And if that had happened, then had 2011's electoral numbers been in effect, they would indeed have reversed the outcome. So it's not only possible that reapportionment could make the difference, it could have done so in an election we all vividly remember!

In the 2008 election, Barack H. Obama won a lot more states than did Al Gore -- 28 states (not counting the one Nebraska electoral vote that went to Obama), eight more than Gore; and of course, several of those states were very significant: Virginia (13 EVs), North Carolina (15), Ohio (20), and the whopper, Florida (27). This propelled the Democrat to a resounding victory of 365 to 173.

But with the 2010 shift, those same states would have given Obama an electoral-college count of only 359 to 179, making it a little easier for the Republican to make up the difference in 2012.

The states that flipped between the razor-close 2000 election and the substantial Democrat victory of 2008 were:

  • Colorado - 9
  • Florida - 27
  • Indiana - 11
  • One electoral vote from Nebraska - 1
  • Nevada - 5
  • New Hampshire - 4
  • North Carolina - 15
  • Ohio - 20
  • Virginia - 13

The six (out of nine) states depicted above in bold italics enjoyed major Republican gains in the 2010 election, making them very strong candidates for flipping back to the Republicans in the 2012 presidential election. As you can see, those states would yield an electoral GOP pickup of 84 electoral votes, based upon their EVs in 2010; when we add in the changes from the 2010 reapportionment, that EV switch drops to 83: Florida gains two seats, but Ohio loses two, for a wash; then Nevada -- which I assume doesn't switch and stays with Obama -- gains one. If these six states actually switch back to the Republicans in 2012, that would make the total 275 (Dem) to 263 (Rep).

This still leaves the GOP slightly short; but flipping just seven electoral votes would bring victory to Republicans and defeat to Obamunism. For example, flipping any one of the states of Iowa, North Carolina, or Pennsylvania would do it, three states that Obama won (relatively) narrowly.

So perhaps that's the GOP game plan: Focus on the states that flipped from R to D between 2000 and 2008 and go after those that seemed to be returning to the fold in the 2010 mid-terms; then try to pick off at least one other state whose devotion to Obama looked a little weak in 2008.

That scenario also implies that a victory over Obama in 2012 is likely to be pretty thin... which not only means the reapportionment is likelier to be determinative but also raises the specter of the Hewitt Hypothesis Corollary: If it is close, they can cheat.

Unless of course the electorate has soured even more on Barack H. Obama and Obamunism two years from now than they did in the elections this November, in which case a myriad of viable routes to Republican victory present themselves. But that happy thought requires, I believe, at least one of three extraordinary circumstances:

  • Obama manages to economically infuriate voters even further -- perhaps by vetoing many attempts by the GOP to improve the economy, followed by an anemic rise in employment (or even a further drop), so that Obama takes the blame for it.
  • We suffer a huge terrorist attack that the American people blame on Obama's feckless national-security policy.
  • Or a hitherto unknown Republican presidential candidate rises who truly captures the imagination of the voters; not another Ronald Reagan, who would already be known right now, but perhaps a Republican version of Obama -- though with more and better substance, one hopes!

Naturally, none of these three is predictable or reliable; and if the last is to occur, it must begin within the first couple of quarters of calendar 2011. At this point, I would put my money on a very close presidential election in 2012... with the result unknown right down to the wire, and in which we'll be very glad for those extra few EVs from reapportionment.

And rampant Democratic cheating, of course. Keep watching the skies.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 23, 2010, at the time of 1:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 3, 2010

Califorlornia, the Bluest State

Election Derelictions , Polling Keeps a-Rolling
Hatched by Dafydd

At the moment, with nearly all precincts counted in California, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%) is ahead of challenger Carly Fiorina by a solid 9%, and Jerry Brown leads Meg Whitman by a whopping 13%.

In other words, those polls that presupposed a turnout model that perfectly mirrored the 2008 elections -- were absolutely right.

In even more sweeping words, while the rest of the country veered sharply to the right, California lurched as far left as it did in Barack H. Obama's election, two years ago. Maybe further. Further left than the rest of the country broke right.

In response to pending fiscal doom of the $1.85 trillion California economy, all voters can feel is a frenzy to double down and triple down on the same anti-economic Democratic officials, who have ruled us ruthlessly, utterly, and despotically since All In the Family premiered.

My home state, where I've lived all but two years of my life, is now officially the most liberal-fascist/progressive/socialist state in the United States, bar none... more than Massachusetts, more than Hawaii, as much as the District of Columbia itself.

Oddly, it's not that Californios support progressive policies; the ballot initiatives demonstrate that the electorate is not enamored of socialist schemes. But for some reason, Californios have been so brainwashed by the Left that they can no longer even contemplate electing anybody but a Democrat to any top position in the state.

It makes no difference how badly the Democrat has thwarted the will of those same voters: Two years ago, a clear majority voted for Proposition 8, defining marriage as being between one man and one woman -- as it always had been before the California Supreme Court decided it knew better.

Then-Attorney General Jerry Brown first tried to sabotage the proposition; he changed the title from "Limits on Marriage" -- to "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry, " a tendentious, argumentative statement of liberal opinion.

The law passed anyway by a vote of the people; but when disgruntled liberals sued to overturn it, Brown not only conspired with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to refuse to defend the law in court (hoping it would then be struck down for lack of a defender), he argued that nobody else in the state had standing to defend the law. In other words, voters did not even deserve representation in court when our law was challenged.

Yesterday, voters responded to being spat upon by electing that same man Governor.

It makes no difference how many laws a Democrat has actually broken: Before the California Supreme Court overturned Proposition 22 -- the predecessor to Prop 8 -- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a heterosexual gay activist, illegally ordered the city clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in complete defiance of what was then the law of the state. He made a Delphic pronouncement, declaring that he obeyed only the higher laws of his own warped conscience. He continued until the courts finally reined him in.

Yesterday, voters responded to lawlessness by electing that same man Lieutenant Governor.

Likewise, Californios elected a Democratic Secretary of State, Treasurer, Controller, Insurance Commissioner, Attorney General, and of course U.S. Senator. In the last election, voters at least elected a Republican governor and Republican insurance commissioner; but this year, every single constitutional office went to a Democrat -- each by 10 to 20 points, except for the razor-close Attorney General race. (All constitutional offices except for the traditional two of four members of the State Board of Equalization, that is; they collect the taxes and fees for the state.)

The numbers for the state Senate and Assembly are not in yet, but I'm sure the Democrats not only held their own but picked up Republican seats. Except for one brief interregnum (1995-1996), the Assembly and Senate have been controlled by Democrats for forty years. Before this election, the Senate was 35% GOP and 60% Democrats; and the Assembly was 34% GOP and 64% Democrats (including one Independent who caucuses with the Dems). I'm guessing it's now somewhat more Democratic.

California is now officially the bluest of blue states. Our motto is changed from "Eureka!" to "Four legs good, two legs bad!"

Oh yes, I almost forgot: Democrats will completely control the 2011 redistricting -- so it can only get worse. (I'm assuming the Democrats will find some way to weasel around the 14-person redistricting commission.)

For California voters, it's still 2008; Obama is still revered as a godling, and all the progressive "solutions" of the past two years have succeeded splendidly:

  • That pesky $25 billion deficit? Never heard of it!
  • 12.5% unemployment rate? Great, more slack time!
  • The catastrophic anti-business climate? Greedy capitalists had it coming!
  • The collapsing water services, energy grid, and road and highway system? Who needs 'em anyway!

It's a bizarre and even frightening phenomenon: Democrats in California have mesmerized the voters, preventing them even from considering electing a real Republican. We used to be able at least to elect the odd RINO like Arnold; but I doubt we're even capable of doing that any longer.

California has become France, where a decision to raise the retirement age by two years, to stave off looming fiscal disaster, is met with massive general strikes, arson, looting, and terrorist attacks. But while France is desperately trying to rediscover Capitalism, California won't even admit that Capitalism exists, let alone has any connection whatsoever to the state economy or even state tax revenues. (California liberals believe that if you double the tax rate, you will double tax receipts -- and if you triple the rate, you'll triple the receipts!)

They're so used to the phony-baloney accounting gimmicks of Silicon-Valley startups and Silicone-pumping Hollywood studios, they've cast off the quaint notion that financial reports are actually supposed to mean something. And they've forgotten that you cannot borrow your way out of debt, if they ever knew it or believed it in the first place.

What a tragic ending to the tragic kingdom in which I was born, the state of Walt Disney, George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, and even Richard Nixon, the state that gave us the movie industry, the computer revolution, and biotechnology.

Now doing business as America's home for the loony Left. To be Californio today is just so degrading.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 3, 2010, at the time of 4:01 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd





All right, so California was a one-state Democratic tidal wave. Never have so few done so much to hose so many -- including themselves.





But we did do pretty well on the initiatives; only one or two bad results: Proposition 23, which would have suspended the goofy and self-immolating California globaloney regulations until our sky-high unemployment rate drops, went down to defeat. And Proposition 25, removing the 2/3rds vote requirement to pass the budget in the state legislature -- thus allowing the Democrat spending orgy to surge to Caligulan classes of depraved debauchery -- is currently winning; but that race hasn't yet been called.

The other seven initiatives went the way I voted.

But with the California legislature (so gerrymandered, it's not mathematically possible for the Dems to lose the majority -- ever!) and Governor-Redux Jerry "Tax-ic Waste" Brown, plus Prop 25 (so what few Republicans remain in the lege have no power anyway)... I wonder whether we'll still be living here this time next year, or if we'll have been taxed out of hearth and home by the runaway "progressive" state government.

I guess I will get that chance to spend time in the Third World, after all; and I don't even need to travel... just stay home and watch the country's most populous and bankrupt state collapse upon my head.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 3, 2010, at the time of 1:11 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 27, 2010

On the Other Hand...

Election Derelictions , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

I may have turned unduly pessimistic about the California gubernatorial vote too quickly. Clearly Republican Meg Whitman is running behind her cohort running for U.S. Senate, Carly Fiorina; but that doesn't necessarily mean Whitman should be out of the running, as the polling implies. There are several indicators that, as Elmer Fudd was wont to say, "there's something awfuwy scwewy going on heah!"

In the first place, let's take a step back from the trees to contemplate the forest for a moment. Why would the entire rest of the country be experiencing a Republican wave... but California be strongly surging to the Democrats? It's not completely impossible, but it does seem rather unlikely.

In those cases elsewhere in which the Republican is losing, it's nearly always because he has huge problems with money and with making crazy, radical statements; for example, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. But the GOP candidates for governor (former eBay CEO Meg Whitman) and U.S. senator (former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina) are both (a) extremely well-heeled and self-financing, and (b) more center-right than Tea Party, which in a blue state like California should make them more attractive, not less.

I could see a situation where they were neck and neck instead of surging ahead, as in the rest of the country; but why would the retread Democrats they face -- former Gov. Jerry Brown and current incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%) -- be the ones surging ahead?

Now let's look at those polls more closely.

In an election, everything depends upon turnout; and the accuracy of the polling critically depends upon the turnout model used by the pollster.

Columnist Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics has a few words to say on that subject:

If you follow California Senate polling closely, you have to be feeling a little bit nauseated from the roller coaster ride you've been on. Some polls are showing Senator Barabara Boxer with a comfortable 9-point lead and above 50 percent, while others are showing a much closer race. One Republican pollster even shows Fiorina ahead.

What is going on here? The answer is something I've discussed before: Pollsters are having a devil of a time agreeing on what the electorate is going to look like.

Trende has a chart comparing the turnout models used by various polls from a week ago to the leads enjoyed by the Democrat in the Senate race, incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%). Not surprisingly, he finds a strong correlation between a turnout model that predicts a very high Democratic edge over Republicans in voting -- and a much larger lead by Boxer (duh).

But is more intriguing (and puzzling) to compare the turnout models to the actual results of two previous elections in California, the 2006 mid-term and the 2008 presidential election. 2006 was a big election year for Democrats: The party picked up six Senate seats and 31 House seats nationwide. In California, according to Trende's chart, exit polling showed that Democrats had a +6% edge over Republicans in turnout at the polls.

2008 was equally big for the Democrats: Democrats picked up eight Senate seats and 21 House seats. But in California, the partisan turnout edge for Democrats was double that of the 2006 election (and the 2004 election as well), a full 12%.

Note that this doesn't count early voting by mail-in balloting; but Republicans were pushing mail-in voting far more than Democrats in 2006, so Republican strength was likely underrepresented in that survey, compared to Democrats. However in 2008, Democrats had a huge and very successful mail-in voting drive, meaning they were even more undercounted in exit polls than Republicans had been two years earlier. That means the gain in partisan edge in California, from 6% to 12%, is probably understated: Democrats likely increased their lead in the Golden State by more than the 6% increase derived from the exit polling.

Now let's look at the correlation with the polling this year. Of the six pollsters who report the partisan breakdown of respondents in their polling (Rasmussen does not, for example), two (SurveyUSA and Reuters) show a Democratic edge of 6% - 7%. In other words, these two pollsters believe turnout in California is going to be pretty much like 2004 and 2006; and they show an average lead for Boxer over Fiorina of 1.5%. (Remember, this is according to the polling a week ago, the only polls for which we really have a good partisan cross-tab.)

But the other four -- Suffolk, PPP (a Democratic poll), the L.A. Times, and PPIC -- show a Democratic partisan edge of 12% - 14% in their turnout model. These four pollsters believe the partisan turnout in 2010 will mirror the turnout in 2008, that Democrats will have just as big or even bigger a turnout edge this year than the year Barack H. Obama ran for the presidency. Not surprisingly, they show a much higher average lead for Boxer over Fiorina of 7.8%.

They believe 2010 will just as big a Democratic wave election as 2008; does that make sense to anyone here?

The problem may well be the filtering question used to decide which respondents are "likely voters." Some pollsters use a very simple system: They ask respondents whether they voted in either of the last two elections, and whether they're sure they'll vote this time. Others have a more stringent likely voter test. But the loose test virtually quarantees that when the pollster picks the respondents to report as "likely voters," the turnout model will mirror 2008 -- because everyone who voted in 2008 (or thinks he did) becomes a "likely voter" for 2010.

It is, however, a very unlikely scenario in real life: This is not a huge Democratic wave election, as 2008 was; it's not even a wave election like 2006. In reality, it appears to be a massive Republican wave election, like 1994.

If anything, the Democratic edge over Republicans, even in California, should be lower than in 2006 and 2004. In all probability, even SurveyUSA and Reuters are overestimating the Democratic lead; and the other four pollsters are dramatically overestimating it. And if they're overestimating Democratic voters in the Senate race, they're simultaneously overestimating them on the governer's race, as well.

But what about the current SurveyUSA poll, released today, which shows Boxer jumping from a 2-point lead on the previous survey, October 19th, to a 5-point lead now; and for governor, Democrat Jerry Brown edging up from a 7-point lead on the 19th to an 8-point lead now? It turns out that SurveyUSA has its own special potential problem.

(To see the raw numers instead of percentages on these two SurveyUSA polls, click the drop-down on the left and select "Show Counts (Frequencies)" instead of "Show Percentages".)

First of all, the turnout model for the new survey -- that is, the partisan breakdown of respondents they choose to call likely voters -- jumped up from a 7.2% Democratic edge on the 19th to an 8.4% edge on the 26th, moving significantly closer to the 2008 model than a week earlier.

Then I began looking into the internals (and kudos to SurveyUSA for making them available to ordinary readers), and I noticed a curious phenomenon: In the previous poll, 7% of the "likely voters" (as determined by SurveyUSA) contacted by telephone only have cell phones, no landlines. But in the current poll, just one week later, that number lurches wildly upwards to 25% of the "likely voters," 3.6 times as high. Wow!

I find that very flakey; while a number of young adults only have cell phones, I suspect they are much less likely actually to vote (and SurveyUSA agrees); for one thing, it's very difficult for the parties to find those voters in order to talk to them face to face in a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort. In fact, we can't even know for sure whether they even reside in California and can vote here at all!

When you recalculate the current survey, using only those likely voters who have a landline (regardless of whether they were contacted by cell or landline), the numbers change dramatically.

First the Senate race:

U.S. Senate: Barbara Boxer (D inc) vs. Carly Fiorina (R)
Candidate Total # Total % Land # Land %
Boxer 266 44.8 202 45.6
Fiorina 240 4.04 199 44.9
Total 594 B-F = 4.5 443 B-F = 0.7

In other words, with the cell-only respondents included, Carly Fiorina is down to Barbara Boxer by 4.5%; but looking only at those respondents who actually have a landline (even if they also have a cell phone), she is only down by 0.7%. That's one heck of a difference, moving from leaning towards Boxer to a complete toss-up!

Let's look at the governor's race:

Governor: Jerry Brown (D) vs. Meg Whitman (R)
Candidate Total # Total % Land # Land %
Brown 275 46.3 208 47.0
Whitman 225 37.9 188 42.4
Total 594 B-W = 8.4 443 B-W = 4.6

We see exactly the same phenomenon in this case: With the cell-only respondents, Whitman is behind Brown by a powerful 8.4%; but looking only at respondents with landlines, she is only down by 4.6%, putting her solidly within striking range via a number of factors (GOTV; the wave effect -- voters in California get to see results back east before they vote, which could discourage Democrats from voting; a bad turnout model -- SurveyUSA gives an 8.4% edge to Democrats in their model, when they may only get a 6% or even lower in the actual election; and so forth).

So there still appears to be many severe problems with polling in California, problems that appear to be much worse than polling problems in other states. For that reason, I retract my prediction of doom for Meg Whitman in favor of no prediction at all. The polling is simply too wonky to trust.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 27, 2010, at the time of 4:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 26, 2010


Election Derelictions , Liberal Lunacy , Matrimonial Madness , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Predictions , Tax Attax
Hatched by Dafydd

This is just heartbreaking. The entire rest of the country is swinging to the right; the U.S. Senate race in California is swinging to the right. But in the midst of such positive news, GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman's campaign is collapsing... and it looks pretty clear that California voters are poised to elect Jerry Brown governor -- again.

Dubbed "Governor Moonbeam," Brown is widely derided as the worst governor of California in modern times. He is a radical leftist who, along with the solidly Democratic-Progressive state legislature, has virtually pledged to do to Californios exactly what Barack H. Obama and the solidly Democratic-Progressive Congress did to America... and Californians are on track to hand him a historic victory to speed him along!

Why? I'm completely at a loss to explain why Carly Fiorina, the Republican Senate candidate, is doing so well, but Whitman so badly: The latest Rasmussen poll (just out today) has Brown 9 points up, an increase of 4 points from the corresponding poll ten days ago. The RCP average now has Whitman losing by 7.4%, and that includes a Republican outlier poll that had Whitman up 1 point in mid-month... exactly one week before the election, with momentum moving against her and towards Jerry Brown.

I hate to sound like Sen. Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%), but at this point, I have to say this race is all but lost. Jerry Brown will once again be our governor -- at a time when the state is more than $20 billion in the red.

Another point: Brown, as the current state Attorney General, is one of the two officials who refused to defend Proposition 8 in court. Prop 8 is the voter-passed citizens'-initiative constitutional amendment that re-established the definition of marriage to one man plus one woman... overturning a decision of the California Supreme Court, which -- by the slim and unconvincing margin of 4 to 3 -- redefined marriage to include same-sex marriage. (The other official to refuse to defend Proposition 8 in court was... current RINO Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Brown was also the official (by himself, this time) who reluctantly accepted the initiative, titled "Limits on Marriage" -- and retitled it to be more neutral, unbiased, and non-argumentative.

He made it "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry," and that's how it appeared on the November 2008 ballot. Amazingly, it passed anyway.

So what can we expect with Gov. Brown and the hyper-liberal legislature? A number of lovely prospects present themselves:

  • The California state income tax rate, already the second highest in the nation (after Hawaii), will surely leapfrog into the winner's circle. Most of us pay 8% to 9.3% with the break point about $47,000/year; I suspect over the next two years, this will skyrocket to 10% to 12%.
  • Currently, we have a de facto mortgate interest deduction, because the California tax basis starts from the federal tax basis. But there are several other instances where a federal deduction is added back in for purposes of state tax... and I gloomily predict that the new government will add mortgage interest to that disreputable list. That will push the effective tax rate much higher.
  • Too, Democrats in this state have been desperate for years to overturn the 1978 Proposition 13, the "People's Initiative to Limit Property Taxation." Prop 13 did the following:

    • Rolled property assessments back to 1975 values
    • Set the property tax rate at 1% of the assessed value
    • Limited property-tax increases for continuing ownership to 2% per year
    • Required a 2/3rds vote in each legislative house to raise taxes
    • Required a 2/3rds vote for local governments to create or raise special taxes

    It was enacted, over the vigorous opposition by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, by an overwhelming margin of 64.8% to 35.2%... because the California state and local governments had begun a wild series of property-tax increases that were literally forcing people (mostly retirees) out of the homes they had lived in for decades; and local districts were assessing special tax after special tax to pay for every liberal wish-list item that some lobbyist demanded. This immensely popular California initiative constitutional amendment sparked a tax revolt all across the United States.

    That was then; this is now. In the last debate between Brown and Whitman, moderator Tom Brokaw asked both disputants about Prop 13; Whitman said she would defend it to the hilt, but Brown waffled, saying everything, including Proposition 13, was "on the table." I take that to mean that his intense opposition to protecting homeowners from the rapacious maw of the government has neither wavered nor waned.

    And now that Jerry Brown has learnt that such initiatives can be overturned without a vote by a cunning trick -- get an ally to challenge it in court, then refuse, as governor, to defend it -- I suspect Prop 13 is going to be shredded... and the record number of foreclosures we have already seen in this state will go through the roof.

  • Brown is a skinflint in his personal finances, but a typical left-liberal spendthrift when he's handling other people's money. During that debate, he passionately defended Obamacare, both stimuli, and the government takeovers of the automotive and banking industries. He added that Obama had done a "great job" in his first two years. I strongly suspect that Brown intends to saddle California with state socialism that mirrors the federal version... and will endure even when the Republican Congress and White House wipe it away in D.C.
  • Worse, Proposition 25, on the ballot this election, will give Jerry Brown the whip-hand on spending. Currently, legislators in Sacramento need a 2/3rds vote to pass the annual budget. The Democrat/Republican mix in the state Senate is 24 Democrats and 14 Republicans (plus two vacancies), or 63% to 37%; in the Assembly, it's 50 Democrats, 27 Republicans, and 1 "Independent" who caucuses with the Democrats (again plus two vacancies), or 65% to 35%.

    In other words, under the current constitutional rules, Democrats do not have sufficient votes to pass a budget on their own in either chamber; they need at least two Republican votes in the Senate and one in the Assembly. And so far, the CA-GOP, against all expectation, has held firm, forcing concessions from the Left and preventing the progressive rampage we have seen in Washington D.C.

    So what does Prop 25 do? It lowers the budget-vote requirement down to a simple majority. If it had been in place all this time, we would probably already have government-run health care, cap and trade, a massive increase in welfare and MediCal, public-employee union pensions that are even higher than the already stratospheric pensions we have now, and three or four times the current amount of make-work spending in the state. Instead of being $20 billion in debt, we would have $50-$60 billion in red ink.

    As insane and left-partisan as this initiative is, it will probably pass... because its authors found another cunning trick: Included in the measure is a "punishment" for legislators who don't pass a budget on time... they lose their salary for every day the budget is overdue. "Yeah, let's punish those foot-draggers!" is the battle cry.

    But of course, what's causing the impasse is that the two parties are lightyears apart on how to save the state's economy: Republicans want to restore fiscal sanity; Democrats want to redouble their Keynesian stimulus schemes. But if Prop 25 passes, I guarantee the budget will be on-time... because the majority Democrats won't even bother consulting with the Republican minority. They'll just enact any stupid, self-immolating, progressive idiocy that passes through their pinheads. Great solution, voters! You sure showed those profligate Democrats!

  • The traditional definition of marriage will almost certainly be changed to include same-sex marriage, despite two separate majority votes of the citizenry to keep it as it has always been. Jerry and his pet legislators desperately want it, to pay off their gay-activist lobbyists.

Thank you, thank you, California voters. I've always wanted to live in a Zimbabwean failed state. Think of the wonderful experience I'll get, assuming I want someday to write a post-apocalyptic novel about the catastrophic collapse of a once-great civilization.

There are only three slim hopes for Ms. Whitman:

  1. The polling could be wildly off, if (for example) all the polls are using the same wrongheaded turnout model. If, for instance, fewer women than expected vote while more men do, that would make the actual vote much closer than the polling... possibly even put Whitman on top.
  2. The Republican "wave" effect could raise all boats, including the waterlogged and listing tugboat at the top of the ticket.
  3. If Whitman's ground game is ever so much better than Brown's, she could make up a lot of the deficit right there.

But let's not kid ourselves; none of those is all that likely... unlike in Carly Fiornia's case, where she can easily overcome her 3.7% deficit (not counting the Democratic PPP poll). Thus I must make the sad prediction that on Wednesday, November 3rd, we in the Golden State will most likely wake up to find it has become, overnight, the State of Brown.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2010, at the time of 6:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 18, 2010

Still Waiting for the Fathead to Sing

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Everybody tells me the fat broad already sung her aria, but somehow I missed it.

John Hinderaker and Paul Mirengoff at Power Line state as a fact that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 68%) is going to tell Alaska Republican primary voters to drop dead -- and she will run as a write-in candidate against tea partier "Average" Joe Miller and some other guy nobody cares about. The lads are probably keying off of this New York Times story:

A top Republican official in Washington said Friday that Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has informed the party’s leadership that she intends to run as a write-in candidate for re-election despite losing the Republican nomination in the primary earlier this month.

But three points need making:

  • It's not a "story;" it's a blogpost on the Times' "Politics and Government Blog." And its only source is unsourced, another anonymous rimshot.
  • The Times, as the Democratic Party's newspaper of record, has a double-handful of wishful thinking and a big dollop of special interest in spinning the meme that Murkowski might still win if she were to run as a write-in; it may stir up a little civil war in the bubbling GOP cauldron.
  • Finally, until very, very late in the day, we had yet to hear from Lisa Murkowski herself. Or even from her campaign mangler. Every word we heard was from a third party who may or may not have his finger on Mrs. Murkowski.

On the ultimate bullet point, the Times is casual:

The official said Republican leaders were still hopeful she might change her mind, but now fully expect her to run. Ms. Murkowski is expected to make a formal announcement later on Friday in Anchorage.

She didn't; but then at last she did, after taking off her gloves:

On Friday, Alaskans learned her decision: She's in. And, this time, she said: "The gloves are off."

By which she evidently means the mask is off. She will gleefully follow the Charlie Crist precedent and repudiate all her previous political positions that were in any way conservative. Or Republican. She will announce that from this moment on, she will caucus with the Democrats; and during the lame-donkey session of Congress, She will vote against all Republican filibusters and for card check, cap and tax, full and complete immigration amnesty, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, Stimulus 3, and same-sex and polygamous marriage.

On the penultimate bullet point, the Times is coy:

It is not clear how much the entrance of Ms. Murkowski will help the prospects of the Democratic nominee, Scott McAdams, mayor of Sitka.


Now that She Who Must Be Oboed has risen to the occasion and enunciated herself, we shall comment: Murkowski's monstrous family ego, always an Alaskan embarassment, has now driven her to utter absurdity. Even with a million bucks in the bank, she isn't going to get the hundreds of thousands of people to write her name on the ballot to reelect her, after the Republican voters already voted against her. She won't even get the tens of thousands of votes necessary to derail the election of "Average" Joe.

I suppose she must think there is a vast and silent majority of Fundamentalist Centrists (i.e., Pelosi liberals) in the Last Frontier, pining away for the mother-wisdom of the poster child for nepotism.

She will come in a distant third, even behind Democrat Scott McAdams. She will be humiliated. The political career and legacy (such as it is) of She will be ground into powder.

And in the end, She will find a way to blame her disgrace on Sarah Palin and George W. Bush.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 18, 2010, at the time of 4:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 6, 2010

Democrat Campaign Grand Strategy: Money Will Save Our Seats!

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Desperate Democrats held a war council and finally concocted a grand "triage" strategy for the 2010 elections; the new plan is simply to abandon their colleagues who aren't gaining any traction against their Republican opponents, thus focusing all their attention -- that is, all the campaign cash -- on a few "fire wall" races that will (they believe) allow them to hang onto the House, by a sliver.

What appalls me is the underlying, corrupt assumption at the core of this strategy; Democrats evidently believe that heaving enough money at a race guarantees victory:

To hold the line against Republicans, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued an urgent plea for members in safe districts to help their endangered colleagues by contributing money. She called out to Democrats who were delinquent on paying their party dues and instructed members with no re-election worries to tap into a combined $218 million from their campaign accounts to help save their majority.

"We need to know your commitment," Pelosi wrote to lawmakers last week in a private letter, demanding that they call her within 72 hours to explain how they plan to help.

She added, "The day after the election, we do not want to have any regrets." [No funds unspent, no poll watcher unbribed. --DaH]

A national campaign trumpeting Democratic accomplishments on health care, education and Wall Street regulation has given way to a race-by-race defensive strategy. Democratic incumbents are moving to aggressively define their Republican opponents and individualize races in an effort to inoculate themselves from the national mood.

"Inoculate themselves from the national mood."

Clearly they have no intention of changing their policies to bring them in line with what their own constituents want; Pelosi knows best. They won't moderate any of their radical schemes; they certainly won't cooperate with the Republicans in a bipartisan effort to solve the country's terrible economic and national-security problems.

They approach the election from the opposite side: Focus their entire campaign war-chest on a couple of dozen House races -- and use that wad of moolah on adverts to "inoculate" them from voters.

Well at least we can't say they didn't warn us!

Here's a sample of the electoral vaccine Democrats seek:

In Missouri, Rep. Ike Skelton has rarely run hard-hitting advertisements during 34 years in office, but he sternly accuses his opponent in one of not supporting the troops. In Texas, Rep. Chet Edwards, using the word "lie" three times, accuses his rival in an advertisement of claiming that he voted in a recent election when polling records said he did not. In New Jersey, Rep. John Adler accused his challenger, also in an advertisement, of buying a donkey so he could call his house a farm and get a tax break on it.

What a set of priorities! Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) grand strategy is to sling meaningless canards at Republicans on utterly irrelevant issues, while ignoring the looming catastrophes that actually confront this nation on multiple fronts:

  • No practical plans to stimulate business and commerce, especially small business, the backbone of America. Nothing to promote private-sector jobs (not government handouts) or greater entrepeneurism.
  • Not a word about repealing ObamaCare, giving Americans more control over their own medical decisions, expanding Medical Savings Accounts, shoring up Social Security by partial (or full!) privatization, or finding a way to fully fund the hysterical promises federal and state governments have made to seniors and retirees... without massive tax increases.
  • Not a hint about reducing taxes, government intrusion into the workplace, and the almost unfathomable spending spree of the past 20 months (actually four years and 20 months, counting the huge increases that started after the Democratic majority was seated in January, 2007) -- the very match that lit the fuse of the popular front for Capitalism and against socialism.
  • Dead silence about securing America's borders, fighting the radical Islamists who seek to destroy our way of life, improving intelligence gathering, or diplomatically supporting our allies, not our enemies.
  • And not even a pledge to protect and promote American exceptionalism, restore our honor and trustworthiness, stop trying to radically change American culture and human nature, stop politicizing health care, science, and space exploration -- and worst of all, no pledge to begin listening to the voters for a change, instead of telling us what we must think.

To translate the Pelosi Plan into simple English, Democrats believe voters are pliant sheep, easily driven hither and yon; it takes but a strong whip-hand -- a few fearmongering commercials calling Republicans despoilers, exploiters, racists, homophobes, and "fascists," accusing us of acts of villainy that sound vague but are in fact meaningless: My opponent on the right is well known to be a raging heterosexual; his wife was an admitted thespian in high school; and he himself has frequently been caught masticating in public! Just empty enough loot into a race, and the Democrat will surely win; for liberals believe to their very bones that money trumps voters every time.

And if that doesn't do the trick, there's always the illegal alien vote, the prison vote, the fabricated person vote, and the graveyard vote. That ought to hold the House! (At least until after the election. As for the deluge that must come later, Pelosi, like Scarlett, will think about that tomorrow.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 6, 2010, at the time of 3:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 27, 2010

Miller vs. Murkowski: What If...?

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

"Average" Joe Miller currently leads incumbent and establishment candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 68%) in the Alaska Republican senatorial primary by 1,668 votes. Given the approximately 7,600 absentee ballots still pending -- they will be counted Tuesday -- Murkowski would have to win about 61% of them in order to prevail. (Full disclosure: While we have no money riding on this race, we both support Miller over Murkowski.)

Now she has lawyered up before the absentee count; she wants to make sure that she, not Miller, prevails in the absentee count, no matter what it takes... even if that means a recount and perhaps a lawsuit.

And guess who her attorney happens to be? The National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent Murkowski its chief counsel.

Republican officials confirmed Thursday that Sean Cairncross, the chief counsel for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is traveling to Alaska to help Murkowski prepare for the absentee-ballot count on Aug. 31.

(Not that they're taking sides, or anything.)

This is what worries me: Suppose Murkowski prevails by a whisker after an ugly series of challenges of absentee ballots cast for Miller by military personnel, or following a "recount" (or covert revote), or after suing her way onto the ballot. If that is how this primary ends, then Murkowski will almost certainly lose the general election to Democrat Scott McAdams, Mayor of Sitka... because virtually none of Miller's voters would vote for Murkowski if she were perceived to have stolen the nomination.

So by trying to wrest the nomination away from Miller, who appears likely to have won it honestly, the GOP establishment could turn a near certain Republican hold into a Democratic pickup. But why are they doing this? What is so important about handing a primary victory, honest or dis-, to the Murkowski dynasty?

I can't shake the thought that it's not so much that the Republican establishment dearly loves Murkowski, a lame excuse for a Republican; her 68% rating from the American Conservative Union ties with Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for third worst among Senate Republicans; only the Maine Twins, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, score worse -- 48% for each. Joe Miller is much closer to the GOP mainstream, especially among voters, but even within the Senate itself.

Nor can the NRSC seriously believe that Murkowski will hold the seat but Miller would not. If Miller can surge to beat Murkowski in the primary, where 92,000 votes were cast (47,000 for Miller), then why wouldn't he go on to beat McAdams, who received only 15,000 votes in a Democratic primary in which only 30,000 total votes were cast, a third of the Republican count?

Alas, I think the NRSC intervened for a much uglier reason: They're desperate to stop Sarah Palin scoring a "victory" as kingmaker.

I cannot think of any other motivation powerful enough to prompt a late entry on the part of the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- on behalf of the currently losing Republican candidate. The move is inexplicable to me, other than the mean-spirited, low, underhanded explanation that they're trying to cripple Palin's popularity and respect, perhaps to prevent a future run for the presidency, and even at the cost of losing a Senate seat in Alaska.

What a sad commentary; the Republican establishment is fighting against Palin, against the Tea Partiers, against reform, and in favor of corruption, nepotism, and business as usual. And our next post may show the GOP in an even more pathetic and cowardly light... fighting against the popular front for Capitalism itself.

But one last point. Though the empire strikes back, that is not cause for us to abandon the Republican Party; there is no alternative. The idea that tea parties will take the place of the Republican National Committee is sheer fantasy, and third parties do nothing but divide and allow themselves to be conquered.

Rather, the spineless writhing of the GOP establishment is cause for "we the people" to recapture the party itself, to transform it from what it is now (yecch) into what it ought to be tomorrow. And the best way to begin is to continue to support common sense Capitalism and the resurgence of American liberty against the statist government class.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 27, 2010, at the time of 12:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 23, 2010

An Excellent Mystery

Econ. 101 , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

We have a very curious coincidence this year -- or else a parable that should forever alter our approach to elections. But which could it be? According to political analysts on both left and right, it's a mystery!

We start with a little recent history:

  • In 2006, Democrats took back the Senate and House, riding the unpopularity of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (both going badly) and some economic discontent, to which the GOP responded by not really responding.
  • In 2008, Democrats crushed the GOP, this time primarily due to what turned out to be a very wide and deep recession, which (as is oft the case) voters blamed more on President George W. Bush than on Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) or Squeaker of the House Nancy "San Fran Nan" Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%).

    [Note that Pelosi's 100% liberal record does not count the times she voted against the ADA due to "Speaker's privilege," a parliamentary maneuver to allow her to bring up failed legislation again at a later time.]

Note that in both cases, religious and social issues such as abortion, embryonic stem cells, voluntary school prayer, immigration, and racial preferences would tend to favor Republicans; yet both times, those issues were overwhelmed by the bedrock concerns of national defense and the economy.

Today, we stand on the brink of a revolutionary election that could undo much of the gains the Democrats made in the last two elections. Every pollster, politician, and political prognosticator agrees that the Republicans are going to surge forward, will very likely recapture the House, and could possibly also capture the Senate (which I would have rejected as wish-fulfillment fantasy just three months ago). The Democrats are in disarray, their electoral prospects plummeting so quickly one can hardly keep up with the news.

What is so different this time from 2006 andf 2008? The biggest difference appears to be that this time, the GOP is focused like a Marine Corps sniper on the bedrock concern of national security -- specifically, the inability of the administration of Barack H. Obama and of the Democratic supermajorities in House and Senate to come to grips with the War Against Radical Islamism -- and especially upon the bedrock concern of the failing economy and the Democrats' "response" of tax, tax, tax and spend, spend, spend, spend, spend (more spending than taxing).

Let's try this again: When Republicans focused on religious issues, social issues, and intangibles like "competence," energy, and so forth, they very badly lost two elections in a row; in both cases, Democrats pounded on military and economic failures of Republicans. But now that the GOP has shifted focus to national security -- they forced Obama to accept George W. Bush's great general, David Petraeus, and his counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan -- and to reviving Capitalism in America, for which they actually have specific plans -- e.g., permanizing the Bush tax cuts, slashing government, and the free-market recovery plan of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, 96% -- Republicans are surging ahead of their "Progressive" rivals.

By a remarkable "coincidence," what I call a popular front for Capitalism and against Progressivism has swept the nation, in the form of Tea Party rallies and suchlike.

Could this be no coincidence? Might voters really prefer the free market to five-year plans? That we prefer aggressive defense of American national security over diplomacy, negotiation, and appeasement? I suggest we at least consider this as a possibility.

Could we have mitigated the ill effects of the the 2008 election by refocusing on national security and the economy? Think back to the election of 1982, when, as in 2008, Republicans faced an election during a serious recession; and as in 2008, they were in the minority in the House of Representatives. (Though Republicans had a reasonably solid lead in the Senate, conservatives did not; a great many Republicans were quite liberal, à la Lowell Weicker of Connecticut.) Worse, the Republican standard-bearer, President Ronald Reagan, was not on the ballot, as 1982 was a midterm election; by contrast, Republicans in 2008 had the opportunity to nominate a nationally recognized fiscal conservative as president.

Yet in 1982, Republicans lost only 27 seats in the House, a normal midterm correction. While the GOP lost only 21 House seats in 2008, six fewer than in 1982, that was not a midterm, so there was no "normal correction" expected; it was just a straight-up contest, and the GOP was thumped.

Too, I believe even many of those 1982 losses were due more to redistricting in Democratic states than in voters switching allegiance; were it not for redistricting, the House losses might actually have been lighter than usual -- even during a recession.

And in the Senate, Republicans lost no seats whatsoever in 1982, despite the recession. In 2008, Republicans lost eight Senate seats, as well as the presidency -- completing the shellacking.

Why? What was different between 1982 and 2008? In the former, Ronald Reagan and the minority Republicans not only emphasized jobs and growing the economy, they actually had a Capitalist plan -- courtesy of Reagan -- for doing just that: Cut taxes, shrink the government, lower interest rates, and unshackle American business from senseless and crippling government regulation.

In addition, Republicans had a president who favored taking the Cold-War fight to the enemy, the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union, rather than conceding issue after issue in a futile attempt to appease the Bear and the Dragon. Reagan dared to demand, not mere survival, but actual victory.

I strongly suggest that the GOP did all right in 1982 and looks to be ready to surge forward this year precisely due to boldly advancing both a victory-oriented strategy for national security and a capitalist reformation and revival of the economy -- more the "invisible hand" of the free market and less the "invisible foot" of government.

And I further suggest that in all future elections, just to be on the safe side, we actually make aggressive national defense and growing the economy (while shrinking the government) the cornerstones of our national campaigns... while leaving religious, social, and intangible issues to those local races that have particular interests in them that year.

A few more elections fought on the basis of American strength and freeing the American economy, and we might actually solve this excellent electoral mystery!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 23, 2010, at the time of 3:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 29, 2010

The Other Brown Note

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Can anybody explain to me why the lads at Power Line seem so anxious to re-foist ultra-liberal, former Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown back upon the long-suffering subjects of the People's Democratic Republic of California?

Power Line has been running a nasty, anti-Meg Whitman, pro-Brown advert in its top ad spot for a couple of decades now. It's really starting to bite, like a burr in my britches. (And now I see the Googleads banner is running a pro-Barbara Boxer, anti-Carly Fiorina ad as well!)

And I thought we were friends...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 29, 2010, at the time of 2:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 4, 2010

Charlie Crist's "Maverick" Campaign Now Run By... the Democrats?

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

No, this is not a rib. (Why do I keep feeling the need to reassure readers that this isn't a late April Fool's Day joke?)

According to the New York Post, for what it's worth, the ObaMachine appears to have dumped the actual Democrat in the U.S. Senate race in Florida, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL, 95%), throwing its considerable weight behind "independent," "post-partisan" former RINO Charlie Crist instead, the sitting governor of that same state:

The decision will be widely viewed as a slap at Democratic frontrunner Rep. Kendrick Meek, who is trailing badly in the polls and many Democrats believe is hopeless for winning in November.

Making it all the more ominous for Meek is that SKDKnickerbocker is helmed by Anita Dunn, who most recently served as senior advisor to President Obama and is one of the administration's most valued political operators outside the White House.

Of course, for this to happen, two events must have occured sub-rosa:

  • President Barack H. Obama must at least indirectly have ordered his old cohort Anita "I ♥ Mao" Dunn to assume command, through her lieutenant, Josh Isay.
  • Gov. Crist would have to have willingly handed his campaign over to the Obamunists.

(It would help Crist's chances if Meek would just "go away." Look for a bright future at the Department of Health and Human Services or the Social Security Administration to be dangled before the congressman's eyes.)

The actual "lead media consultant" to Crist will be Josh Isay, former top strategist for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (another party-switcher, this time from Democrat to Republican for the purpose of dodging a tough Democratic primary).

Politico has a bit more on the firm, SKDKnicerbocker::

The release also notes the firm, which includes former NY Post reporter Stefan Friedman, labor and lobbyist powerhouse Jennifer Cunningham and is partnered with Bill Knapp and Anita Dunn in Washington, has worked on the last four Democratic presidential nominees' campaigns.

Isay was also chief-of-staff to Sen. Charles Schumer and managed his successful 1998 campaign. Most recently, he worked on Bloomberg's last two mayoral efforts, and also helped guide Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman to victory running as an independent - an effort that became something of a test case for success.

This story is for all those who actually believed that Gov. Charlie Crist was going to be independent, as opposed to a Democrat shill hoping to derail the freight train of the actual Republican, erstwhile Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, State Rep. Marco Rubio. Now the shill has elbowed out the other Democrat, displacing him in the family pecking order. Heh.

Perhaps it would be instructive to check out Real Clear Politics' poll posting for the race. RCP shows three "current" polls for the threesome between Rubio, Crist, and Meek; but the bottom one from Mason-Dixon is a month old. In fact, it was taken less than a week after Crist made the dramatic announcement that he was going to pull out of the GOP primary and run as an Independent instead. That makes it obsolete and tainted; adios, Mr. Mason and Mr. Dixon!

Tossing that one out, we have a Rasmussen poll from May 16th that shows Rubio ahead by 8 points at 39%, Crist second with 31, and Meek a distant third with 18 (recall that Rasmussen polls likely voters, not all registered voters). The remaining poll is from the St. Petersburg Times, 5/14 to 5/18: Crist leads with 30%, Rubio second with 27, and Meek last with 15. The average of the two polls has Rubio at 33.0%, Crist at 30.5, and Meek with 16.5.

So once again, the Democratic plan of abandoning Meek and jumping ship to Crist seems like the opportunistic path of least principle.

In the end, it won't matter; Rubio is actually much farther ahead than the polls show. As many electoral analysts have pointed out, when the "incumbent" -- or in this case, the better-known candidate, Charlie Crist, the state's sitting governor -- is mired below the 50% mark, then typically, on election day, nearly all the undecideds will vote for the challenger.

Rubio is going to win this race; Meek will limp along with his minor career; and Charlie Crist will be consigned to the Island of the Tiresome, where he and Arlen Specter can play Diplomacy through all eternity, never to be heard from again.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 4, 2010, at the time of 7:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 16, 2010

Expect or Rate Spector

Congressional Calamities , Election Derelictions , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

On Tuesday, Sen. Arlen Specter (D R D-PA, unrated in current incarnation) scuffles to the polls, like an errant schoolboy expecting the master to hand him a right caning. As indeed is pretty likely to happen.

Specter turned his coat back to the Democratic Party a year ago. He was originally a Democrat until 1965, when he flipped to Republican after getting himself elected D.A. as a Democrat, though on the Republican ticket... ya fallah? Then on April 28th, 2009, when it became apparent that he would lose the Republican primary election to Pat Toomey, former House member from Pennsylvania and former president of the Club for Growth, Specter switched back to the Democrats. (He also turned his entire political philosophy on a dime and began voting with Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid on every critical issue.)

But for some odd reason, the Democrats decided the double-traitor was perhaps a skosh untrustworthy; and he drew an opponent in the Democratic primary election, Joe Sestak (actual D-PA, 95%). According to the RealClearPolitics average, (1) Sestak is 2.7% ahead of the incrumbent, (2) Specter cannot even crack 45%, therefore (3) he's going to lose.

Ah, but therein lies the snub: Hell hath no fury like a Specter scorned.

After Tuesday, Specter will know that his career of fakery and unprincipled pandering is ended... but he'll still be sitting in the United States Senate for another seven and a half months. He will be filled to the rim with rhapsodies of revenge -- but revenge against whom?

  • Against the Democratic voters, who will have "betrayed" and consigned him to oblivion?
  • Against the Republicans, who started the death spiral by rejecting him in favor of Toomey?
  • Against President Barack H. Obama? Although the Commisar finally, reluctantly endorsed Specter, he really didn't lift much of a hand to save his sorry glutes.
  • Against the entire Senate? Despite his thirty years of soulless service, they refused to rise up and declare him Senator for Life, so he would never have to undertake the humiliation of bowing and scraping to the "people," just so they would reelect him. The cads!

I cannot possibly say who Specter will consider Public Enema Number One; all I can predict is, he's about to become the most bitter and obstreperous member that the world's most deliberative high-school debate society has ever seen. I suspect he will put random holds on votes, refuse unanimous consent, absent himself to prevent a quorum, hijack committee hearings, ask leering and suggestive questions, mentally abuse the pages, replace the gavel with a rubber chicken, and intentionally tread on Olympia Snowe's toe.

It should be quite a show. Somebody bring the flopcorn.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 16, 2010, at the time of 11:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 5, 2010

A Right Good Trend

Election Derelictions , Risible Racialism
Hatched by Dafydd

The New York Times seems a bit confusticated to report that a record number of black Republicans are running for House seats this year:

The House has not had a black Republican since 2003, when J. C. Watts of Oklahoma left after eight years.

But now black Republicans are running across the country — from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.

Party officials and the candidates themselves acknowledge that they still have uphill fights in both the primaries and the general elections, but they say that black Republicans are running with a confidence they have never had before. They credit the marriage of two factors: dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected.

How can such a thing be, when the GOP is well known as the historic home of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Klan? Squirming a bit, the Times manages to find some voices to pooh-pooh the surge -- Democratic voices, naturally:

But Democrats and other political experts [Democrats are natural political experts, you understand -- DaH] express skepticism about black Republicans’ chances in November. “In 1994 and 2000, there were 24 black G.O.P. nominees,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist who ran Al Gore’s presidential campaign and who is black. “And you didn’t see many of them win their elections.”

Tavis Smiley, a prominent black talk show host who has repeatedly criticized Republicans for not doing more to court black voters, said, “It’s worth remembering that the last time it was declared the ‘Year of the Black Republican,’ it fizzled out.”

Realizing that it's probably not exactly compelling to quote Brazile and Smiley on the irrelevancy of the many black Republican candidates, the Times slides seamlessly into more familiar ground:

Many of the candidates are trying to align themselves with the Tea Partiers, insisting that the racial dynamics of that movement have been overblown. Videos taken at some Tea Party rallies show some participants holding up signs with racially inflammatory language.

A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 25 percent of self-identified Tea Party supporters think that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites, compared with 11 percent of the general public.

One wonders whether Tea Partiers might actually be more knowledgeable about some of Barack H. Obama's appointments, such as Eric Holder as Attorney General -- his decisions, such as the decision to drop the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party after already winning it, and the president's knee-jerk defense of Professor Henry Louis Gates when the activist was arrested last July -- and his past and current associations, from the Irreverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former mentor, to his current political advisor, the Even More Irreverend Al Sharpton. Such greater awareness of just how racialist the current administration truly is might plausibly explain why Tea Partiers are more inclined to believe that the Obama administration is biased towards blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities and against whites. But let's MoveOn...

The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative a news media fiction. “I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos,” said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. “There is no violence or racism there.”

Flummoxed by the refusal of black Republicans to attack the Republican Party as racist, the Times makes one last valiant stand for the natural order of things:

Still, black Republicans face a double hurdle: black Democrats who are disinclined to back them in a general election, and incongruity with white Republicans, who sometimes do not welcome the blacks whom party officials claim to covet as new members.

Black conservatives and Republicans running for office: It's just a cynical ploy to get elected!

I love this trend; I suspect there are also large numbers of Hispanics, Orientals, and Occidentals running as Republicans this year, compared to 2008 and 2006, when GOP chances looked much dimmer. When prospects are happier, more people of all races throw their heads into the ring. Surprise, surprise.

But in particular, the more minority GOP candidates run, the harder it is for the Left to pull their favorite slander-lever, the risible racism regurgitation. Too, whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower there are still many voters who tend to vote along racial lines -- and they are mostly minorities: I believe that Blacks and Hispanics are far likelier to ignore ideological differences and vote for co-ethnics than are whites. As long as the Republican Party is wrongly perceived as being "the party for white people only," we will continue to lose many marginal races that, politically and economically, we really ought to win.

In many ways, Hispanics are natural conservatives: They have very strong family structures and often large families; Hispanic culture supports hard work; they tend to be cultural conservatives, opposing easy abortion, drop-of-a-hat divorce, and same-sex marriage; and a great many Hispanics are small businessmen and other entrepeneurs.

The same is true, to a somewhat lesser degree, with blacks, who have been culturally crippled by decades of "leadership" by the likes of Jesse Jackson and the aforementioned Sharpton, who preach helplessness, dependency, and socially destructive behaviors (Larry Elder is positively Lincolnesque on this subject). For another example, blacks strongly support education vouchers that allow low-income students to attend private secular and religious schools, instead of the hellholes they're shunted into by geography.

There's no legitimate reason why Hispanics and blacks should overwhelmingly vote Democratic; yet the GOP has trouble cracking 35% of the former and even 10% of the latter, election after election. Sadly, I believe a significant portion of this gap is due to their tendency to vote for the co-ethnic candidate... and due to Republicans who shun "racial" recruiting, for ideological reasons.

Republicans believe such recruiting flies in the face of the nondiscrimination that has been at the core of the party since its inception in 1854, founded to oppose the expansion of black slavery; but I've never bought into that argument. Taking race into account when encouraging candidates to run is no more odious than taking into account a potential candidate's good looks, height, physique, or even self-selected characteristics like being a military veteran or having run a successful business.

Any candidate for office is first and foremost a person; and if you want to win elections, you must recruit the most likeable and electable person available, so long as he supports the party on key ideological issues. People are people, and they will react to appearances; it's foolish to ignore that simple fact, regardless of how "unfair" it may seem to short, dumpy, wannabe candidates -- or lily-white candidates in black or Hispanic districts.

I very much hope that many of these candidates prevail in their primaries, and then of course in the general election as well. We need to shed the silly and a-historic reputation of Republican racism. Besides, I'm fascinated to see how the Congressional Black Caucus rationalizes refusing membership to a dozen or more new black House Republicans; that should be both amusing and educational.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 5, 2010, at the time of 12:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2010

Crist at a Crux

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

The kettle comes to a boil for Republican Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, as he decides whether to switch to Independent in order to run a three-way race for the Florida U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by Mel Martinez. If Crist stays within the Republican party, he will lose the primary big time; if he turns his coat, he will be running against Republican Marco Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL, 95%).

I wrote before why I think he would be a fool to switch parties; now there is more evidence that even if he does light that sorry candle, Crist will likely lose the race anyway -- and will have destroyed his future political career as well.

Back in mid-April, a Quinnipiac poll of a three-way donnybrook showed Crist ahead of Rubio by a scant two points, with Democrat Meek trailing far behind. I noted that this was easily within the margin of error, and the poll was taken before voters had really had a chance to think about the idea of Crist departing the party and running as an indy.

But a much more recent Rasmussen poll now shows Rubio seven points ahead of Crist, this time with Meek almost falling off the back of the turnip truck, 15 points behind the front runner. Evidently, if this poll is to be believed -- and there's no reason it shouldn't be -- voters have made their decision about Charlie Crist running as spoiler.

Looking back, only two polls have ever shown Crist winning that threesome: The Quinnipiac poll cited above from April 8th-13th, and a poll back in November by Daily Kos, which showed Crist ahead by 1%, Meek in second, and Rubio third. This earlier poll was conducted before Rubio's meteoric rise; that same Kos poll also showed Crist walloping Rubio in the primary by 10 points, the last in a long series of polls showing Crist beating Rubio comfortably. But since late January, every poll shows Rubio leading Crist in the primary by double-digits.

This is hardly encouraging news for a sitting governor seeking to switch jobs and parties at the same time.

Finally, here is an amusing piece by Chris Cillizza in his Washington Post column the Fix: "Why Charlie Crist is no Joe Lieberman." I particularly like this section:

* Standing on principle: In the wake of his loss to Lamont, most general election voters attributed the defeat to the fact that Lieberman refused to back away from his support for the war in Iraq -- a position he cast as a stand on principle. (Liberal Democrats would almost certainly disagree with that characterization but it was the prevailing perception among many Connecticut voters.) Losing on principle made Lieberman a sympathetic -- and hence electable -- candidate in a general election. Crist will have a harder time making the "principled stand" justification if he switches as it will have come after months of polling showing him with next-to-no path to victory in the Republican primary against Rubio. If he does switch, expect Crist to make some sort of "I didn't leave the party, the party left me" appeal to independent voters but Rubio is doing everything he can to frame a Crist switch in the most crass political terms possible. [Emphasis on last phrase added]

Well... can anyone think of more creditable terms than "crass political" to describe Crist's road-to-Damascus conversion to Independent?

I stand by my pronunciamento: Crist would be a fool to run as an independent. But of course, there are fools in the world.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 23, 2010, at the time of 2:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 18, 2010

Thinking About the Eminently Thinkable

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has been posting a blogseries on the possibility that Scott Brown might beat Martha "Chokely" Coakley in the special election to fill the Senate seat abruptly vacated by Ted Kennedy; Paul's titles series "Thinking About the Unthinkable;" but to me, the possibility is very, very thinkable, hence my own variation. (Paul's most recent entry is here.)

The Democrats certainly find that result "thinkable;" they're thinking very hard about how to circumvent the expressed will of the voters. Brown is running on the firmly expressed intent to be "the 41st senator" to vote against cloture on the Senate version of ObamaCare; both sides agree that the race has turned into a referendum on that bill, so Brown's pledge will become a mandate if he wins: He will not easily be able to back away from it, even if he wanted. (And there's no evidence he wants to back away.)

So what (the Democrats wail) is to be done? From what I've read they're discussing four distinct responses, only one of which is even slightly viable. Remember, we assume for sake of argument that Scott Brown wins the election; if he doesn't, then everything returns to status quo ante.

The options:

  1. Get all the Democrats in both House and Senate -- and they would need nearly every soul who voted for ObamaCare in the former and every Democrat without exception in the latter -- to come to total agreement today or tomorrow and ram the votes through both chambers before the polls close on Tuesday. Considering how bitterly they have all been wrangling, this is unlikely at best.
  2. Delay seating Brown until after the vote, however long that takes. There is, however, one slight flaw to this tactic: It won't work.

    As several folks have pointed out, the Republicans don't need 41 votes to stop ObamaCare; the Democrats need 60 votes to move it.

    It makes no difference how long "Massachusettes" takes to certify the election; that has no bearing on the vote. The only question is whether the current appointed occupant of that Senate seat, Paul Kirk, can continue to vote after the election... and the law seems fairly clear that he cannot, as Fred Barnes explains in the Weekly Standard.

    Kirk's appointment lasts “until election and qualification of the person duly elected to fill the vacancy;” since both Martha Coakley and Scott Brown meet all the qualifications to be a United States Senator, Kirk's appointment would appear to lapse as soon as the election is over Tuesday night. Certification of the election results is not required; as of Tuesday night, when the polls close, the Democrats will have only 59 votes to move ObamaCare... and that's one short.

  3. Forget ObamaCare and all the "negotiation" between liberal Democrats and liberal Democrats; rework the entire bill from the start, but this time involve the Republicans. Pass those elements that both sides more or less agree upon, and enact truly bipartisan health-insurance reform that the American people can support.



    Just kidding!

  4. Only one alternative remains, at least that I can see: Get the House Democrats to vote for the Senate bill -- Louisiana Purchase, Kornhusker Kickback, abortion, no public option, and last dirty jot and tittle of it. If the House votes through the Senate bill -- with every section, paragraph, word, and punctuation mark intact -- then it can go straight to Barack H. Obama for signature with no more votes in the Senate, and Scott Brown would be nullified... at least for this particular issue.

But why should the House Democrats enact the Senate bill? There are very substantive differences, as proven by the labyrinthian negotiations between Democrats in the two chambers.

Thought the threat of an ObamaCare failure might move some, quite a few liberals in the House -- along with pro-life Democrats -- might actually prefer no bill at all to the Senate version of ObamaCare. That way, House Democrats can run against the "obstructionist" GOP.

So what could Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) offer to the liberals and the moderates in the House to induce them to hold their noses and vote for the thoroughly corrupt mulligatawny stew that came out of the Senate negotiations?

The Senate Democrats seem to be promising that if the House Dems go along with the Senate version, then after the bill passes, the Senate will enact whatever revisions the House Democrats demand. In other words, both sides will participate in enacting a fraud, knowing they plan to renegotiate everything (still only among the Democrats!) as soon as the smoke settles. If Reid can scare the House Democrats sufficiently -- half an oaf is better than nothing at all -- the House kvetchers might be willing to put off their feud until after some version of ObamaCare becomes law.

But if that is the path they take, Republicans have a ready-made counterinsurgency strategy: Senate Republicans should announce they will filibuster any "renegotiated" ObamaCare provision, no matter what it is... unless it includes repeal of the insurance mandate and several other poison-pill demands.

What's the point of that? Simply this: Let the House Democrats know that their Senate colleagues may promise corrective bills to ease the sting of passing the Senate version... but they will not be able to deliver. With Sen. Scott Brown denying Democrats the 60th vote for cloture, the Senate GOP can guarantee that the House Democrats won't get any relief from the Senate bill: If the House passes "PinkeyCare," that will be the regime they (and we) must live under.

("Reconciliation" is no option; it only applies to bills or provisions whose primary purpose is to reduce the budget deficit. It cannot be used, for example, to reinstate a public option or to pass the Stupak Amendment. In my opinion, the Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, would not enter into a conspiracy to subvert his office just to save Reid's hide.)

I believe the pre-emptive announcement of a filibuster would thoroughly undercut any promise that Pinky Reid might make. Therefore, the House Democrats will refuse to go along with him... and the entire ObamaCare edifice might fall to pieces, like the statue of Ozymandias, king of kings, in the Shelly poem of that name.

Stand firm, Republicans; we may yet pull off the rescue of the century!

(Of course, the century is young; maybe we'll stage an even greater rescue some years hence.)

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 18, 2010, at the time of 6:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2009

Will B.O. Run for Reelection? - Obamic Options 006

Election Derelictions , Nobel Nitwittery , Obamic Options , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

This is a strange post, I assure you. Even by Big Lizard standards, this draws an extra flask of Weird.

My Obamic Option for today is... Will President Barack H. Obama actually run for reelection in 2012? Or has he something loftier in his future?

Don't become a mob; let me present my case:

  1. The predicate of this question is very specific; we assume a universe where his reelection prospects look at least "iffy." I think we all agree that if it looks like he's going to cruise to victory, he'll stick with the presidency.

So assume point 1 above -- that his chances are dicey (like Bush in 2004, Clinton in 1996, LBJ in 1968 -- and unlike Reagan in 1984 and Nixon in 1972).

  1. One of my operating contentions is that, whether Obama realizes it or not, the presidency is really not the position for which he is ideally suited.

He may have thought being president was like being a gentleman farmer, but he has already learnt better. The job requires decisiveness, leadership, the ability to persuade opponents to your own side, and the willingness to stand up and accept responsibility, to be accountable for failure as well as applauded for success -- all traits that B.O. notably lacks.

The entirety of his past experience has been in positions where all he has to do is schmooze, nod sagely to what others say, make his own lofty pronunciamentos... then sit down to his 633rd testimonial dinner. The presidency does not fit that job description, but there is a powerful and personally lucrative position that demands a man exactly like Barack Obama.

  1. Ergo, I argue, Obama is admirably suited to one job only: Secretary General of the United Nations.

The role of Yenta in Chief (or Yentor, since he's male) fits Obama's personality, talents, and experience like a drum. A Secretary General "Lucky Lefty" Obama would never again have to be "the decider;" the Secretary General never decides anything. Like the Director in C.S. Lewis' immortal novel That Hideous Strength, Obama's world comprises nothing but shades of grey. It's amusing and apropos that he calls himself "post-racial"; what does post-racial mean but beyond black and white?

And what's beyond black and white is an achromatic melange of greys, from steel to slate to iron to charcoal. Nothing is ever completely right, nothing ever utterly wrong; there is no conclusion; nought is finally decided; there is always a third way (or fourth, or tenth).

But is the One actually qualified for the exalted, opalescent apex of world diplomacy? Yea, verily.

  1. Barack H. Obama exceeds every job requirement:


    1. He's a "person of color" -- important in a world where most delegates see whites as nameless, faceless "oppressors" who must be relentlessly resisted.
    2. He professes a very, very, very deep Liberalism... yet in reality, he is an Alinskyite: He doesn't believe in power as the means to some other end but as the end in itself. In fact, everything is topsy-turvy in Obamunism: Left-liberalism is the means to power, not the other way round; the principles of the New Left are infinitely maleable and can easily adapt to the accretion of any available power du jour.
    3. As a specific instance of (b), Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for not being George W. Bush... even as he replicated virtually all of Bush's "warmongering" foreign policy. Why? Because Obama has clearly signalled that he intends to lose all those wars -- and blame the losses on Bush and the conservatives. Thus hawkishness can be presented as the necessary precursor to pacifism... and all the aging hippies pump their fists and shout "Right on!"
    4. He is either an antisemite himself, or else he is at least willing to surround himself with antisemites -- important in a world where, to quote Billy Carter, "They is a hell of a lot more A-rabs than they is Jews."
    5. Obama loves tyrants and dictators and hates messy "democracy" -- important inasmuch as, to paraphrase poor Billy this time, they is a hell of a lot more despots than they is democrats.
    6. He's not pushy or commanding; he makes no demands and doesn't press any particular principles. Just let him speak (endlessly), party like it's 1999 again, and receive award after citation after laurel, even if undeserved, and Barack Obama will be as happy as a doornail.
    7. Final qualification: Although he's American, a real black eye, he's an anti-America American ("the idiot who praises with enthusiastic tone/All centuries but this, and every country but his own"), which is a real feather in his cap. They balance out, subtracting what would otherwise be a deal-killer.

So what does this chain of reasoning portend? This: I predict that, if the Obamacle ponders the race of 2012 and sees a strong Republican contender and only luckwarm support for himself, he will try to cut a deal with the U.N.; current Secretary General Nanki-Poo would retire with all honors... then the General Assembly offers Obama the job.

I suspect he would consider the move a promotion; I can even play TOTUS and write his speech for him:

All of our greatest problems are collective problems, and they are international in scope. I have tried as hard as possible and have achieved goals both remarkable and unprecedented... but I've reached the limit of what can be achieved from the narrow, parochial viewpoint of the head of one particular government, even one as powerful as the United States. With the current crisis, this is no time for a man to play small ball.

To further the great project and bring about the vision that we all hold so dear, every one of us -- that of a single, unified, global government that does not waste time and resources in pointless bickering, but gives us action, action, action to implement the demands of the citizens of the world -- I must step up to the plate and accept the awe-inspiring responsibility the world offers me.

I must, with great humility, embrace my destiny to save not just the United States or even the Western hemisphere, but the entire global world. Therefore, with a light heart and great expectations, I hereby announce that I cannot be a candidate for the presidency of the United States this year, 2012; I leave that mission to those Democrats better suited to its limited and parochial nature.

See? I warned you it was weird. Perhaps next time you'll pay heed and flee while you still have legs to carry you.

I myself would rank the odds of my prediction coming true as no better than one in ten, and possibly a miniscule fraction of that (if I have over-analyzed my man). But if wrong, the only price I will pay will be a few chuckles and a bit of raillery; so what the heck.

If I'm right, however, I'll be hailed as a blogospheric godling. It's almost win-win!


Intense excavations of Jurassic Obamic Options have unearthed these previous fossils:

  1. Obamic Options 001
  2. Obamic Options 002: The Limits of Tolerance of Pinkos
  3. Another Noble Obamic Musing - Obamic Options 003
  4. Could He Ever Bring Himself to Say It? Obamic Options 004
  5. Extradition Indecision - Obamic Options 005

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 27, 2009, at the time of 11:50 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 26, 2009

More On Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava

Election Derelictions , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

In the comments on a previous Big Lizards post, a commenter found my use of the term "GOP congressional establishment" puzzling; I noted that they were "the same folks who cynically picked (in a back-room deal) a out and out liberal, who agrees with Democrat Owens right down the ideological line, to replace the previous RINO [John] McHugh."

The commenter wrote:

I'm getting quite tired of conservative Republicans talking about the Party as if they were somebody from the sinister mother ship....

That said, I can't fault Newt for backing the Republican, apparently for good reason. It isn't enough to stand on principle and lose, nor to forsake principle and win. If Hoffman can stand on principle and win, he's pulled off the perfect storm. If he splits the conservative vote and the Democrat wins, he has harmed the cause, albeit temporarily.

Leave aside the confounding fact that I'm not a "conservative Republican;" I'm a free-market, pro-liberty Republican... but I hold many positions that run contrary to religious and social conservatism.

Let's stick to the matter at hand. If we were talking about a moderate Republican with some doctrinal differences, I might be inclined to agree that party support is more important than picking nits. If we were talking about a fiscal conservative who was squishy on same-sex marriage, I would grit my teeth but still probably vote for him; he would be on our side fighting nearly all the elements of Obamunism.

But the candidate picked by the GOP nomenklatura, Dede Scozzafava, is neither of the above: She is a brazen liberal, on a par with the Maine twins, Olympia Snowe (R, 12%) and Susan Collins (R, 20%). Scozzafava was not chosen by the rank and file; there was no primary, no election, not even a caucus. How did she get the ballot slot?

State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava beat out a field of eight other Republicans on Wednesday to pick up the GOP endorsement for the 23rd Congressional District seat.

Scozzafava, R-Gouverneur, a moderate Republican who supports a woman's right to choose and gay marriage, has been willing to openly split with her party in Albany.

The six-term Assembly member picked up the endorsement Wednesday after a meeting of the 11 Republican county committee chairs, who had interviewed the candidates at a series of regional meetings over the past month.

That, gentle readers, is the GOP congressional establishment, the Republican nomenklatura, in action: Who cares what Republican voters in the district want? I've got eleven party chairs in my pocket; and after interviewing the job applicants, they decided to hire Dede. And why Dede? Because, although she may be a social liberal, at least she's a fiscal liberal as well?

Now party luminaries like Newt Gingrich are miffed that Republican and Conservative voters in New York-23rd, and even the rest of us elsewhere, dare to question why the loony liberal should be the GOP nominee. The nomenklatura demand that Doug Hoffman withdraw so that Scozzafava can have a clean shot; she is the default candidate, after all.

But it's curious that the "default" is always to feverishly support anyone picked by the party establishment, even if the candidate is a flaming liberal; we joke that we're the "party of orderly succession," and that's how we got Gerald Ford in 1976 and Blob Dole twenty years after.

But it never seems the default position for the party establishment -- the party bosses who put Dede Scozzafava on the ballot on the basis of a job interview -- to nominate someone who actually has the support and approval of the rank and file party members. They only care that she will play ball with them, or perhaps take orders, and above all else won't rock the boat.

Doesn't that seem odd to you?

Why didn't they poll their party members? They had plenty of time: McHugh was tapped for Secretary of the Army on June 2nd -- five months before the November 3rd election. That's more than enough time to spend at least a couple of months finding out who the Republican (and Conservative) voters wanted as their candidate (under normal circumstances, the same person runs on both slates).

Instead, they just rushed to put a safely liberal DIABLO onto the ballot, pillow-talked Newt Gingrich into endorsing her; and now they expect the rest of us to cheer their quiet efficiency. We're to link arms and support the liberal against the other liberal, presumably while singing Solidarity Forever. ("The union makes us strong!")

I am really fuming about this: I am convinced that Dierdre Scozzafava is a vote for ObamaCare, a vote for Energy Cripple and Tax, a vote to pull all the troops out of Afghanistan... possibly even a vote for Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) to return as Speaker of the House; look up Paul Horcher, Doris Allen, and Brian Setencich on Wikipedia.

It's entirely possible that if Scozzafava turns out to be too liberal for her party in a year, she may turn her coat and, like Arlen Specter, run as a Democrat in 2010.

Take a look at her website. You have to search high and low to find even a single position statement; a paltry handful may be found here, shuffled in among such "publications" (press releases) as "Scozzafava Offers Praise for Outgoing Fort Drum Commander" and "Legislation Mirroring Scozzafava Bill Passes Assembly; Residents to Be Notified Of Sex Offenders." But I can't find anything on the momentus decisions that face the United States Congress.

I have a hard time believing she has no opinion; the most charitable conclusion is that she does have positions, but she doesn't think revealing them would benefit her election chances.

Not only does Scozzafava seem indistinguishable from Bill Owens, the honest Democrat, she is an absolutely ghastly retail candidate: She's a terrible speaker; she hasn't reached out to hardly anyone in the district outside her liberal base; she seems to think that she has been anointed and will simply inherit the seat from the previous RINO, John McHugh (40% rating from the ACU -- probably more than Scozzafava would earn).

It almost looks to me as if the RINO GOP in that district would rather lose with Scozzafava than win with Hoffman. It's not that uncommon an attitude among an ensconced power elite; they're liberal, she's liberal, McHugh was liberal: If she wins, they're still sitting pretty.

Even if she runs and loses (narrowly) to Owens, they still keep their power; they can argue Scozzafava lost because she wasn't liberal enough!

But if, God forbid, Doug Hoffman wins... all the liberals in the permanent floating nominating and campaign committee in the 23rd District of New York could be ousted in favor of conservatives more to the new congressman's liking; it's not likely -- they probably have more power than a mere freshman congressman; but if he stays and is reelected a few times, he could completely change the character of the Republican Party in that district.

The same dynamic beset the Democratic Party in 1984, when Gary Hart came very close to beating Sir Walter Mondale for the nomination; the only reason Mondale won was the Carter-Mondale axis rigged the game by three power plays:

  • They forced a bunch of states to switch from primaries to caucuses, then the Mondale campaign took over the caucus structures... e.g., splitting the congressional and presidential nomination votes into two locations, then only telling Mondale supporters where the presidential one was to be held.
  • The Mondale camp controlled the party establishment in the various states; so that even when Hart won a primary, Mondale still received the majority of the delegates from that state!
  • And of course, through the very aggressive use of "superdelegates," which had pretty much been invented eight years earlier by Jimmy Carter to steal the 1976 nomination away from Jerry Brown and Scoop Jackson.

That is the power the party establishment can yield, particularly over the nomination process; it's made easier in the Scozzafava case by the circumstances: The nomenklatura simply met in a smoke-filled room and declared her the nominee.

Scozzafava is going to fade in the next week or so. The election will come down to Bill Owens versus Doug Hoffman, and Hoffman, I believe, will win. I wonder... when he does, will Republican leaders demand a recount?

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2009, at the time of 9:33 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 18, 2009

Have You Stopped Beating Your Climate Science Yet?

Election Derelictions , Globaloney Sandwich
Hatched by Dafydd

I always love it when the "sophisticated" side of the aisle demands an immediate "yes or no" answer to a complex, multifaceted question; and when the Right can't give it and won't fake it, the Left brays that we're dodging the question!

I stumbled across this crock of globaloney that occurred in the Virginia governor's race, between Republican candidate Robert F. McDonnell and surrogates for Democratic candidate R. Creigh Deeds:

The issue had simmered since a debate Monday with Democratic rival R. Creigh Deeds, in which Mr. McDonnell never definitively answered a question about whether he thinks man-made climate change is a serious threat [wow, that's specific! -- DaH]. It flared Friday after former vice president and climate change watchdog Al Gore held a fundraiser for Mr. Deeds, and Virginia Republicans said it proved Mr. Deeds supports cap-and-trade legislation that they claim will increase energy costs and worsen unemployment. They dismissed the Nobel laureate as "the Goracle."

Virginia Democrats fired back by calling Mr. McDonnell and the Republican ticket he heads "the most backward, anti-science" ever in Virginia.

"For the better part of a week, Bob McDonnell has had the opportunity to answer the straightforward question, 'Do you believe in the science of global warming,' and he still refuses. It's not a hard question," said Deeds strategist Mo Elleithee.

Oh isn't it? Phrased the way they phrase it here -- does McDonnell "believe in the science of global warming?" -- it's not hard, it's impossible to answer Yes or No. Which science does Elleithee mean?

  • The badly conducted or mendacious "science" that produced, e.g., the infamous "hockey stick" diagram?
  • The pseudoscience of Al Gore's boneheaded movie, which has the oceans rising by twenty or more feet in the next few decades?
  • The science that tells us the Earth warmed for a long period but now may be entering a cooling phase, neither era being particularly affected by human activity?
  • The science that suggests the real danger is not global warming but global cooling, even a new ice age? That would be far more catastrophic than warming... and if we really can affect the temperature, and we try to lower it when it's already poised to plummet, we would be slitting our own throats out of sheer ignorance and hubris.
  • Or -- what about the science that correctly states that we just don't know what the climate will do over the next twenty years, let alone the next century, nor to what extent the change will turn out to be anthropogenic?

On that last, who alive today could possibly prophecy what power humans will possess in a hundred years to fine-tune the Earth's temperature and other elements of climate? Maybe we'll be able to dial in any climate conditions we want... or maybe we'll be as helpless as we are today.

At the very least, I hope we'll have general circulation climate models that actually work -- replacing the current models, on which all global-warming hysteria rests, that fail miserably even to predict past climate changes we already know about.

The question hurled by the Deeds campaign is, quite frankly, one of the stupidest I've ever seen -- scientifically. Politically, it may be very astute, as I don't like McDonnell's answer. Here's a compilation of McDonnell's greatest climate hits:

"I think it's a real concern, and we need to find ways to be able to reduce [carbon dioxide] emissions," Mr. McDonnell said in advocating development of technology to eliminate pollutants from coal-fired energy plants...."

"Well, there's some debate that various scientists are going on in that," he said. "I think the temperature of the earth, from the science I've seen, is going up...."

"Look, it's not going to affect my policy decisions. What the policy decision needs to be is to find ways that are creative to be able to reduce CO2."

"I am going to accept the science that's out there, and the science is that we need to do everything that we can to reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, and that will help," he said.

This projects weakness, vacillation, and evasion.

Here is what I would have advised him to say when the inevitable bubbled up in debate. This isn't a real quote, more's the pity; this is what I wish McDonnell had said, which would have been much more forceful and senatorial than what he actually mumbled:

DEEDS: Do you believe in the science of global warming, Mr. McDonnell?

MCDONNELL: Science is not something you believe in, like I believe in God. Science is a process. If it's done right, we usually get good answers. If it's done wrong, we get nonsense answers -- garbage in, garbage out.

DEEDS: Stop dancing around the bush! Do you accept the consensus of nearly all scientists that the Earth is warming due to human carbon pollution, and we'll have a worldwide catastrophe if we don't immediately cut energy use by 90%?

MCDONNELL: How many things are wrong in that one sentence? First, science isn't decided by voice vote; a scientific "consensus" would require every reputable scientist in the field to agree with what you just said -- and they don't. There are thousands of highly respected, well-credentialed climate scientists who dispute both the warming -- there hasn't been any global warming in eleven years, since 1998 -- and they also dispute that human activity caused the warming in the two centuries before 1998. Some even say we're headed for a period of serious global cooling; maybe we need more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not less!

I don't know which group of scientists is correct. And you know what? Neither do you, and neither does Guru Gore. None of us is qualified to answer that question, because none of us is a climatologist or an atmospheric scientist. And the folks who are qualified to answer are fighting a scientific civil war among themselves.

I passionately believe in the scientific process -- all of it, not just when it fits Al Gore's agenda. And the science is very much in flux right now. Many scientists believe we're somewhat responsible for global warming -- though none believes that as a religion, as your mentor, Al Gore, does. But many scientists believe we're not responsible and there's nothing we can do to stop it.

We can, however, cripple our own economy trying to hold back the tides. And I will flatly tell you right now that I am not willing to crash the entire American economy in a futile and arrogant attempt to play God with our atmosphere. I'm focused on creating new jobs, not taxing energy production out of existence. I'm very happy to vote for greatly increased funding in basic climate research, but only if it's equally available to scientists on all sides of this controversial issue... not if it's restricted only to those who support the politically correct, convenient conclusion of the anti-energy, anti-business Left.

Dang, how I wish a candidate would respond forcefully and unapologetically on this issue! There is a great, great argument for doing exactly nothing... nothing but pure research for another twenty, thirty years until we have a tremendously better understanding of the basic science than we have now. Who knows? Maybe by 2030 or 2040 there will actually be a real scientific "consensus."

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 18, 2009, at the time of 1:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 9, 2009

Finally, the Ultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A. - Lizards' Prediction Pans Out!

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

This is the last (I think) post on this bizarre and surreal chapter of the New York state senate. Our previous posts on this tintinnabulant topic are:

Two A.D.D.D.D.A. posts ago, on June 16th, Big Lizards made the following prediction:

The majority leadership of Dean Skelos now hangs by a Gordian thread of Damocles: All the Democrats need do is offer both amnesty and a promotion to Espada (and possibly the squelching of the various ethics charges against him), and they can reel him back in. If Espada has a pact with Monserrate, the two can easily enforce the caucus's capitulation by threatening to re-bolt and start the nightmare all over again if the caucus doesn't deliver.

I suspect the Democratic caucus sees the "mene mene tekel upharsin" writ on the wall of the Senate's executive washroom, and they will do exactly this; Smith will be cast down, the terms agreed upon, and Espada will return to the fold, probably within a week from today.

We stand by our previous prediction:

  • Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  • And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

Surprise! Today the state Democrats and Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. made good on our predictions:

  • Espada is returning to the the Democratic caucus.
  • Espada gets his promotion; he will now be majority leader of the state senate.
  • Sen. Malcolm Smith, erstwhile leader of the senate, is relegated to a largely ceremonial post during "a transition period of an undetermined length."
  • The Democrats will regain control of the state senate with a bare 32-30 majority.
  • The Republicans are betrayed by a Janus-faced Democratic ally. Again. ("I'll hold the football, Charlie Brown, and you come running and kick it.")
  • And while they haven't yet passed a same-sex marriage (SSM) bill, it's clearly in the offing, along with other Democratic dream bills.

Anent that last point, it's so late in the day that we might get a brief reprieve, at least until next session:

Senate leaders, sounding by turns apologetic, fatigued and self-congratulatory, vowed to quickly take up the scores of bills they had neglected during the leadership struggle....

Senators were uncertain Thursday when or whether several high-profile issues stalled by the leadership battle, including same-sex marriage and changes in rent control laws, would be taken up. The regular legislative session ended on June 22.

All this came a little later than we expected: They fumfahed around longer than I thought any sane group of people could tolerate; but of course, they're not only Democrats, they're New Yorkers. In the end, it was fear of dispossession that finally awakened them:

But it appears that Mr. Espada may have been driven to make a deal to return as majority leader out of fear of being marginalized, because a separate Democratic faction was moving to establish a power-sharing deal with the Republicans.

Indeed, the Democrats have become increasingly polarized, often along racial lines. Mr. Espada and other Hispanic senators have pushed for more influence from Mr. Smith and Mr. Sampson, who are black.

Separately, the faction of seven white Democrats, led by Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, that had sought the power-sharing deal with the Republicans is especially uneasy with Mr. Espada, who faces investigations related to nonprofit health clinics he runs, his campaign finance practices and whether his primary residence is in the Bronx. Any arrangement they reached with Republicans would probably have pushed Mr. Espada aside.

For an amusing coda, the Republicans are gleefully licking their dentures in pre-prandial, salivary anticipation; they don't expect the reconciliation to last much longer than a Hollywood marriage:

Dean G. Skelos, the leader of the Senate Republicans, speculated that the Democratic caucus would break apart again.

“This is my prediction,” Mr. Skelos said at his own news conference, his caucus surrounding him. “Within a few months, maybe six months, there is going to be so much discord within that conference that we’re going to be running the Senate, all right?”

He added: “There are so many factions there that would like to, quite honestly, slit the other factions’ throat. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to lead and govern.”


The year 's at the spring,
And day 's at the morn;
Morning 's at seven;
The hill-side 's dew-pearl'd;
The lark 's on the wing;
The snail 's on the thorn;
God 's in His heaven --
All 's right with the world!

In this case, Browning's got it a bit wrong: God's laughing in His heaven; and all's Left in the world again... especially its epicenter, the zero-point from which all other distances are measured: New York.

Case closed; a Mark VII production.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 9, 2009, at the time of 10:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 4, 2009

In Which the Lizards Dabble in Palin-tology

Election Derelictions , Opinions: Nasty, Brutish, and Shortsighted
Hatched by Dafydd

All right, so Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska made the shocker announcement today: She is not running for reeelction in 2010; in fact, she is resigning as of Sunday, July 26th, 2009. Future career plans left unannounced.

Much speculation centers on the possiblity that she will run for the presidency in 2012; that's certainly what most commenters on Power Line seem to think, according to John Hinderaker. (I'm sure that Paul Mirengoff will shortly weigh in with a discouraging word.)

I concur in part and dissent in part from John's take on this development. John is skeptical that she is going to run for president after just three quarters of a term as governor:

Most observers assume that means she will devote full time to running for President. I guess so. Frankly, it seems bizarre to me, unless Palin calculates that in order to run she will have to spend most of her time in the lower 48, and the logistics of doing that while continuing as Governor are impossible.

I concur; she is not yet seasoned enough. If Obama is reelected, she could be a plausible candidate in 2016; and if a Republican is elected in 2012, she will still be young enough in 2020, at age 56, to be a strong contender. But what is she to do in the meantime to keep her name in circulation and bolster her future presidential viability?

Though he offers no prediction of the future plans for most everybody's favorite soccer mom (everybody except John S. McCain's campaign mangler, Steve Schmidt, I presume), I get the feeling John believes she is not going to run for elective office again; this subtextual dismissal is the part to which I dissent. I believe a much more likely possibility is being ignored...

Palin has a good shot running in the Senate primary against Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK, 58%). Murkowski is a very liberal (and often very embarassing) RINO; she is a legacy-babe, having originally been appointed to the Senate by her father, Frank Murkowski, when he resigned his Senate seat to become governor in 2002.

Sen. Murkowski has a number of positions that don't sit well with conservatives and most Republicans:

  • She opposed the "nuclear option" for ending the endless Democratic fillibusters of Bush appointees, thus undercutting the president's ability to move the bench even further towards judicial restraint;
  • She strongly favors taxpayer-supported embryonic stem-cell research, even without the use of technology that leaves the embryo intact;
  • Murkowski is very, very pro-choice for a Republican; she's not in Ted Kennedy-land, but she's much further left on this issue than Palin.
  • She voted to raise the ridiculous biofuels standard fivefold, requiring production of 36 billion gallons per year of biofuels by 2022 (we currently use about 7 billion gallons).

She is still better than nearly any Democrat, of course; for example, she strongly supports drilling for oil and natural gas in Alaska, even in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). But I can certainly understand a conservative like Palin hoping to replace Murkowski with someone who... well, with someone who thinks more like Sarah Palin.

Too, Frank Murkowski was part of the good old boy network in Alaska that Palin has fought so long and hard to overthrow. The other corrupt, old blackguard in that clubbiest of clubs is of course Ted Stevens -- notwithstanding that his corruption conviction was thrown out due to prosecutorial misconduct (after which, Stevens was thankfully not heard to remark, "Guilty as sin, free as a bird... only in America!")

Mr. Stevens was defeated in his bid for reelection in 2008, in no small measure because of his (tainted) conviction; but his last successful endeavor was to help reelect -- wait for it -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2004, when she ran for her first election after Daddy appointed her. So with Frank Murkowski as her father and Ted Steven as her mentor, Lisa Murkowski in many ways exemplifies all that is wrong with the Republican machine in that state.

And Murkowski herself had a brush with the same sort of corruption that has tainted the GOP in Alaska for many years; she bought property from Bob Penney, a businessman in Anchorage, for what appeared to be very much less than the land was worth, leading to speculation that it was an illegal gift. The day after it was referred to the Senate ethics committee, she sold the property back to Penney for what she had paid. She also failed to report significant income ($100,000 over three years) on her Senate disclosure forms and had to file amended disclosures.

Even with the pull of Stevens and Murkowski, then the most powerful pols in Alaska, she barely squeaked out a minority victory over former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, 48.62 to 45.51. Had 4,800 votes gone the other way, she would have been defeated without ever having been elected to that seat. This does not inspire confidence that she can pull it off again next year, even against the same candidate.

So for many reasons, I can see soon-to-be-ex Gov. Palin wanting to mail L-Murk back to Anchorage, C.O.D.

But of course, even the Right would think it pretty gauche for Palin to campaign against sitting Republican Sen. Murkowski in the primary -- while Palin was still the Republican governor of the state: It would be ill-mannered.

But if she were to return to being a private citizen, then all barriers to challenging Murkowski in the primary would be removed; she could make a full-throated run against Murkowski on all three points -- Murkowski's politics, her ethics, and her electability. I'm not prepared to make this an actual prediction at this juncture, but I think it a very distinct possibility. Don't be surprised if she announces her candidacy for the U.S. Senate later this year.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 4, 2009, at the time of 12:23 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

June 24, 2009

No Time for Sergeants - the First Post-Penultimate Word on the A.D.D.D.D.A.

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness
Hatched by Dafydd

I know I said the last post was the penultimate one on the subject of the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany; but something so Kafkaesque has just happened in the New York State Senate that I cannot silently wait for the ultimate post... which will be the one where everybody's hash is finally settled. I am optimistic about much mirth and hijinks to ensue; I'm calling this the first post-penultimate word.

Our previous posts on this titillating topic are:

The current hilarity writes itself:

In Albany, Separate Senate Sessions for Each Party

Republicans and Democrats attempted to hold separate Senate sessions at the same time on Tuesday, leaving the Capitol in confusion and bickering as members of both parties shouted over each other on the Senate floor, and each party claimed it was in control.

Though Democrats had entered the Senate chamber through a back hallway just before 12:30 p.m. and locked the doors -- much to the surprise of Republicans -- Republicans moved ahead with plans for their own session and began calling for votes on bills as Democrats sat silent in protest.

Exactly who was in control of the Senate -- or whether any of the procedural action the Republicans had taken was legally valid -- was unclear. Democrats were successful in blocking Republicans from taking control of the Senate gavel, which remained firmly in the hands of Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester County, who was guarded by sergeants-at-arms on both sides.

The first point of puzzlement is why the sergeants-at-arms have sided with the Democrats... aren't they supposed to be neutral? How do they know which party legally controls the body? Are they lawyers? Have they even consulted with lawyers -- upon whose authority?

UPDATE, une 24th, 2000: Heh... that was how the story read yesterday; but today, the Times pulled another fast one: They jacked up the URL and ran a whole new story under it -- headline, body, page count, pocket change, blood chemicals, and all. Gone are the paragraphs quoted above, to be replaced by this:

Come to Order! Not a Chance, if It’s Albany

New York did not have one State Senate on Tuesday. It had two.

Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room. Republicans were finally allowed to enter about 2:30 p.m., but when they tried to station one of their own members on the dais they were blocked by the sergeants-at-arms.

So then something extraordinary -- and rather embarrassing -- happened.

The two sides, like feuding junior high schoolers refusing to acknowledge each other, began holding separate legislative sessions at the same time. Side by side, the parties, each asserting that it rightfully controls the Senate, talked and sometimes shouted over one another, gaveling through votes that are certain to be disputed. There were two Senate presidents, two gavels, two sets of bills being voted on.

What is the point of such stealth-rewrites? They didn't make it any better for Democrats or harsher on Republicans... they just didn't like the first version (which can still be seen here), so they substituted a different one, with the same URL. Yeesh.

To serious-up for a moment, what I consider the most significant bill caught up in the maelstrom of madness -- a bill to legalize same-sex marriage throughout New York, the third-largest state in the United States -- might be doomed for this term. From a subsequent article in the Times:

Senators defied Gov. David A. Paterson on Wednesday and refused to take up any of the 10 issues he put on the schedule for a legislative session, indefinitely postponing votes on same-sex marriage and other signature items of the governor’s agenda....

Though gay rights supporters were initially pleased that the governor had placed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage on the agenda, many gay rights advocates were saying on Wednesday morning that they did not believe a vote would accomplish anything. There are myriad legal questions clouding any piece of legislation that the Senate takes up, and supporters of same-sex marriage are wary of seeing their issue turned into a political football.

“Nobody wants it to pass under a cloud, so it will be immediately subject to legal challenge,” said Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, a Democrat from the Upper West Side who sponsored the same-sex marriage bill that passed the Assembly last month. Even if the Senate did pass the bill the governor put on his agenda for Wednesday, and the legal issues were not so complicated, Mr. O’Donnell said same-sex marriage would still not be legal because the governor’s bill would have to be passed again by the Assembly.

The normal session expired in the middle of this month; depending on the outcome of the stalemate (I'm tempted to call it "Fool's Mate" instead), there may be insufficient time to bring up the same-sex marriage (SSM) bill before the expiration of the current "extraordinary session," called by N.Y. Gov. David Paterson. If it expires, and if Paterson does not call another, then I think the Senate is in recess until January... at least so the New York State Senate's own website seems to say.

Will there still be such impetus next year for jamming through such a fundamental change to a foundational insitution as marriage -- without any referendum of New Yorkers? I don't know; but at this point, those of us averse to monkeying with one of the foundations of Western civilization should be grateful for any delay we can get. Perhaps legislators will have an opportunity to think a second time, as Dennis Prager likes to say.

But back to whipping the cat in Albany! Let's run with both versions of the Times story; maybe by tomorrow, yesterday will have never happened at all.

We still have the same problem with the sergeants-at-arms siding with the Democrats -- the default-to-the-liberals favoritism found in Democratic states like New York. First the guards defended the "Democrats' gavel" against the rampaging Republicans, notwithstanding a 32 to 30 vote to oust former Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D). The same majority then elected Sen. Dean Skelos (R) majority leader and Sen. Pedro Espada (D) as president of the Senate; how can the sergeants unilaterally decide to abrogate that vote, "blocking Republicans from taking control of the Senate gavel?"

But then they did something even worse, discussed in detail in the first version of the story but only sketched in the second: When Majority Leader Skelos called Sen. George H. Winner, jr. to the podium... oh, but let the Times tell it in its original words, before editors decided to merely hint around the bush:

Shortly after Republicans walked onto the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon, their leader, Dean G. Skelos, called the chamber to order and asked one of the Senate Republicans’ deputy leaders, George H. Winner Jr., to “take the podium.” Mr. Winner, who was standing at the front of the chamber, attempted to climb the stairs that lead to the podium where the presiding officer stands but was stopped by a Senate guard.

“Senator Skelos,” Mr. Winner responded, “I have been instructed by the sergeant-at-arms not to take the podium.” Mr. Winner then walked to a desk in front of the podium, called the Senate to order from there and began calling votes on a list of bills. Since Democrats sat silent and did not voice any objections, Mr. Winner claimed that each bill passed by a vote of 62 to 0.

So in addition to defending the Democrats' presumably inherent right to hold the gavel at all times, regardless of any organizing votes to the contrary, the sergeants also forcibly prevented a Republican senator from even approaching the podium -- because the Democrats didn't want him to be allowed to speak.

One final example deserves note of the sergeants abandoning their traditional role as neutral defenders of the peace -- in order to concentrate on their other traditional role as New York civil servants, that of being liberal Democratic partisans. In the original version:

Republicans seemed just as caught off guard as the rest of the Capitol when the Democrats came in at 12:30 p.m. As news of the Democrats’ move spread, some Republican staff members rushed to the Senate chamber and peered in through the windows to watch the Democrats congregating inside.

Senator Winner, a Republican from central New York, described the Democrats’ move as unnecessary and possibly against the law.

“It seems to me somewhat petulant and or illegal to lock the doors,” Mr. Winner said.

The outer doors to the chamber were kept locked by the sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, but some reporters were able to gain access through a back door.

The new version of the story makes clear that the Democrats snuck in alone -- and locked the doors against the Republicans. Thus, the sergeants-at-arms must have been holding the door against duly elected Republican state senators entering the state Senate chambers:

Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room....

Early Tuesday, Republicans seemed as surprised as the rest of the Capitol when Democrats took over the chamber. Some Republican staff members rushed to the chamber to peek through small windows to watch the Democrats congregating. Some reporters were able to gain access to the locked chamber through the office of Mr. Espada, hurrying through a side room where Mr. Espada’s grandson was parked in front of a television, watching the Cartoon Network.

Note the curious omission of the fact that it was the sergeants who prevented Republican senators from entering the chamber (replaced by the reference to the Cartoon Network -- product placement, or do the Times editors simply have a "thing" for cartoons?) This fits in with the new version omitting the tidbit about sergeants jealously guarding the "Democrats'" gavel and brushing past the same sergeants preventing Sen. Winner from speaking from the podium. Could that be the reason for the rewrite -- to whitewash the complicity of the supposedly neutral guardians of the Senate in a partisan dispute against the GOP?

If so, what a sad and petty reason to engage in such an Orwellian rewrite of history. Times publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger should busy himself reading his Shelly; it may tell him some inconvenient truths about his own future and that of his family's media legacy:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 24, 2009, at the time of 5:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 16, 2009

Penultimate Word on on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany

Election Derelictions , Illiberal Liberalism , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, as expected, Justice Thomas J. McNamara of the New York State Supreme Court essentially said "you kids better work this out yourselves." He didn't use those exact words (pretty close though!), but that's what his ruling amounts to. (Please note that what New York calls the "Supreme Court" is what most states call Superior Court, the ordinary state-wide trial courts. What the rest of us call the State Supreme Court, New Yorkers call the Court of Appeals.)

A state judge on Tuesday refused to overturn last week’s takeover of the State Senate by the Republicans, essentially leaving it to the Legislature to decide which party is in charge....

The Senate’s operations have been at a standstill since last Monday, when Republicans joined with two renegade Democrats to seize control of the chamber.

The judge’s decision, issued by Justice Thomas J. McNamara of State Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon, effectively puts the Senate at a 31-to-31 deadlock, but it also leaves Senator Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat who crossed party lines last week, as the president of the Senate....

“A judicially imposed resolution would be an improvident intrusion into the internal workings of a co-equal branch of government,” Justice McNamara said, adding, “Go across the street and resolve this for the people of New York.”

But the most interesting part of the story hides behind the second elipsis above:

The judge denied the Democrats’ case and their motion for a stay, and the Democrats indicated that they would appeal. But by late afternoon, Democrats said they would not appeal.


Saying the Democrats have foregone the judicial-tyranny option begs the fascinating question of "why" -- why won't they pursue it to the bitter end? It can't merely be that they are persuaded by Justice McNamara's decision that they were wrong; nor even that they're convinced that right or wrong, such an approach is doomed to failure. The first is unthinkable: Democrats always believe, to paraphrase Shaw, that the customs and traditions of their tribe are laws of nature; and the second is improvident: Even if the chance of court victory is tiny, why foreclose that option? What have they got to lose?

To me, there is only one explanation for dropping the appeal: The Democrats have decided that trying to sue their way back into power is counterproductive to regaining that power. And that means (again in my reading of the political tea leaves) that New York Democrats now believe they are on the brink of regaining that power legitimately; they don't want that "reconquista" tainted by the ugliness of trying to overturn democracy via the most undemocratic branch of state government, the courts.

And there is reason for their optimism:

Republicans wrested power in the State Senate away from Democrats last Monday, but their thin majority collapsed a week later, leaving the chamber at 31 to 31 and its leadership picture more confused than ever.

The move came when Senator Hiram Monserrate, one of two Democrats who had sided with Republicans to give them a 32-to-30 majority, said he was switching his allegiance again and reaffirmed himself as a member of the Democratic caucus.

This redefection leaves but a single Democrat, Pedro Espada, jr., thwarting the caucus's return to primacy. Espada is currently President of the Senate, just one slot below Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican; if Espada returns, and then the Democrats restore the leadership of the former majority leader, Democrat Malcolm Smith, Espada can look forward to nothing but endless penance for his apostasy.

But in the meanwhile, the Democrats (as we predicted) have wisely elected a new "caucus leader," Sen. John L. Sampson of Brooklyn:

Mr. Monserrate said at the news conference that he was returning to the Democratic fold because he was satisfied that a new leader chosen by Democrats, Senator John L. Sampson of Brooklyn, would unify party members and bring about action on important legislation....

Adding to the confusion, Democrats chose Senator Sampson as the leader of their caucus, in a move that was a concession to Mr. Monserrate, who had insisted on the ouster of Malcolm A. Smith as majority leader. But because they no longer had the 32 votes needed to install Mr. Sampson as president of the Senate and majority leader, Democrats named Mr. Sampson “caucus leader” and left Mr. Smith as their titular leader.

Smith continues to try to save his face by insisting that he is the real majority leader -- and Sampson is merely his "CEO." But I think it's inevitable that the moment the Democrats recapture Espada, giving them a majority once more, they will take a quick vote and name Sampson, not Smith, the new majority leader of the state Senate.

(I wonder -- when they do this, will Malcolm Smith continue to argue that you can't change majority leaders in mid stream, that he is still the one and only champeen? Perhaps he can declare himself the People's majority leader!)

The majority leadership of Dean Skelos now hangs by a Gordian thread of Damocles: All the Democrats need do is offer both amnesty and a promotion to Espada (and possibly the squelching of the various ethics charges against him), and they can reel him back in. If Espada has a pact with Monserrate, the two can easily enforce the caucus's capitulation by threatening to re-bolt and start the nightmare all over again if the caucus doesn't deliver.

I suspect the Democratic caucus sees the "mene mene tekel upharsin" writ on the wall of the Senate's executive washroom, and they will do exactly this; Smith will be cast down, the terms agreed upon, and Espada will return to the fold, probably within a week from today.

We stand by our previous prediction:

  • Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  • And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

This is sad, because I believe that even in the ultraliberal state of New York, a referrendum of the voters would find that they oppose SSM by a significant margin. But when has that ever stopped Democrats and liberals? The irreducible core of leftism is the belief that the Dear Leader knows best and must tell the rabble where to get off.

We await but the passage of a few days to write our ultimate post on this ticklish travesty of anti-democratic Democraticism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 16, 2009, at the time of 2:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2009

More on the Anti-Democratic Democrats' Denial of Democracy in Albany

Election Derelictions , Illiberal Liberalism , Predictions
Hatched by Dafydd

The follies and frolics continue in the New York State Senate. Here is the latest...

First, erstwhile Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (he still believes himself to be the once and future Majority Leader) released a statement Wednesday through his spokesman, Austin Shafran; here it is in its entirety:

“The Temporary President and Majority Leader, Senator Malcolm A. Smith, was elected to a two year term pursuant to a resolution passed by a majority of Senators in January 2009."

"The purported coup was an unlawful violation of New York State law and the Senate rules and we do not accept it. The Senate Majority is fully prepared to go back to the people’s work, but will not enter the chamber to be governed by unlawful rules." [Well! That's mighty high-minded of them; I was afraid they were simply squabbling about who had the power.]

"We plan to file an action for a temporary injunction to enjoin the Republicans from illegitimately usurping authority from the people of New York."

This is amusing on several levels, not least of which is the casual conflation of a slim Democratic majority losing its leadership position because of a vote in the State Senate -- the same way it gained that leadership position in the first place -- with "usurping authority from the people of New York" (!)

Then on Thursday, the melodrama deepened, as some wag -- likely Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx, one of the two defecting Democrats -- got hold of the keys to the joint:

A defiant Mr. Espada said he would enter the chamber for a session on Thursday even if the Democrats kept the doors bolted shut. As he was being trailed by a large group of reporters down a corridor in the Capitol, Mr. Espada pulled a gold key out of his pocket, grinned and said: “I’ve got the key. I’ve got the key.”

This rise of no-confidence in Smith continues today, as the New York Daily News makes it clear that Smith will probably be ousted by his Democratic conference:

It seems all-but inevitable at this point that Smith will be asked to step aside, despite the fact that he continues to fight in court to retain his hold on the leadership. The leading candidate to replace him as head of the Democratic conference is Sen. John Sampson.

Keep in mind: Even if the Democrats dump Smith and get Monserrate back, the Senate will still be deadlocked, and the question about the legality of Monday's vote that restored Sen. Dean Skelos to the majority leader's post and made Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. temporary president of the Senate still stands.

But today, the state judge hearing the case, Thomas J. McNamara, not only warned the warring parties that they should settle this politically, not judicially, he also made clear he would sign a GOP motion to dismiss the Democrats' case... though without prejudice. This would require the Democrats to start all over again, dragging the impasse out further -- and likely further eroding Smith's tenure as Majority Leader, perhaps even causing more Democrats to jump ship to Republican Dean Skelos.

I'm not a New Yorker; nevertheless, I have some thoughts on this standoff based entirely on what I have read:

  1. I believe the original vote and the continued turmoil has nothing to do with Democrats rethinking the policies of Malcolm Smith, shifting in a more conservative direction; rather, it has everything to do with an insurrection against Smith himself, personally.
  2. Therefore, I believe the efforts to oust him from his leadership position within the Democratic Party will ultimately be successful. A new party leader will be elected.
  3. Once this happens, the defections of Espada and Monserrate (both of whom appear to be crass and unethical opportunists) will boil down to what deal they can cut for leadership positions and possibly the dropping of various ethics complaints against them.

Both have serious legal issues pending: Espada "has been fined tens of thousands of dollars over several years for flouting state law by not disclosing political contributions," and he is also under investigation by the state attorney general for a healthcare network he used to run; and Monserrate is currently under felony indictment for slashing his female "companion's" face with a broken bottle during an argument.

The companion, Karla Giraldo, initially cooperated with the investigation; but in December, she changed her story to match Monserrate's: that he "tripped while holding a glass of water and Giraldo was injured by the shattered glass." There is, however, other physical evidence, possibly including surveillance video, that supports her original charge that Monserrate, a former police officer, assaulted her in a jealous rage over another man.

  1. Once Smith is gone, the Democrats will bite the bullet and cut a deal -- legitimate or corrupt -- with Espada and Monserrate, and they will rejoin the fold. The insurrection will fizzle, and Democrats will again be in charge.
  2. And the New York State Senate will swiftly pass the same-sex marriage bill already approved by the State Assembly, becoming the fourth state (after Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire) to enact SSM without being extorted by the judicial branch.

So it goes, so it will go; but's titillating to watch the train wreck in the meanwhile.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 12, 2009, at the time of 3:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 28, 2009

Yet Another Pennsylbility

Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

Rich Galen of Mullings fame reminds us of another distinct possibility in the 2010 Senate race in Pennsylvania: Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge -- the first Secretary of Homeland Security -- could return to the public sector and enter the GOP primary against Pat Toomey.

I don't know the odds of Ridge doing that; but if he entertains thoughts of running for president, it would be a good way to get some experience as a U.S. senator to go along with his executive credentials, to flesh out his resume. Ridge was originally elected governor in 1994 with a minority of the vote; but his reelection in 1998 was very strong, beating the Democrat by about 57% to 31%, almost 2:1.

If he did run, he might very well beat Toomey; and Ridge against Specter or some other Democrat in the general would probably have even a better shot than would Toomey.

In any event, something to ponder.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 28, 2009, at the time of 9:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Specter Is Haunting the Democratic Party

Dancing Democrats , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

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).

Bottom line

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.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 28, 2009, at the time of 3:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 18, 2009

From Little ACORNs, a Mighty Hoax Will Grow

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Election Derelictions
Hatched by Dafydd

A few days ago, I posted what I thought was a parody post of future headline stories in the four years to come of the administration of Barack H. Obama.

As Bullwinkle T. Moose might say, "Ooh! Don't know mah own strength!"

In that post, I wrote:

The Department of Elections "Project for Democracy and People," formerly the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), has released final rules for the 2012 congressional and presidential elections, to be held from July 1st through December 31st next year. "The Universal Assisted Voting Act will be fully enforced," said Elections Secretary Maude Hurd, reached at her departmental headquarters in Davos, Switzerland....

But today, I found this curious story on Fox News:

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now signed on as a national partner with the U.S. Census Bureau in February 2009 to assist with the recruitment of the 1.4 million temporary workers needed to go door-to-door to count every person in the United States -- currently believed to be more than 306 million people.

A U.S. Census "sell sheet," an advertisement used to recruit national partners, says partnerships with groups like ACORN "play an important role in making the 2010 Census successful," including by "help[ing] recruit census workers."

The bureau is currently employing help from more than 250 national partners, including TARGET and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), to assist in the hiring effort.

But ACORN's partnership with the 2010 Census is worrisome to lawmakers who say past allegations of fraud should raise concerns about the organization.

You just can't make this stuff up. Or actually, you can; but as my sad experience illustrates, fantasy becomes nightmarish reality before the ink even dries on the monitor screen.

Close observation informs us that Fox News, in a burst of excess conservatism, uses the phrase "allegations of fraud;" this opens the door for ACORN simply to repeat their unofficial motto as a defense against all criticism: "ACORN -- Not Formally Charged (as an organization) Yet!"

ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson told that "ACORN as an organization has not been charged with any crime." He added that fears that the organization will unfairly influence the census are unfounded.

Well, that's reassuring. Of course, plenty of members of ACORN have been formally charged and even convicted of voter fraud; and the organization itself has had its offices raided by police, its records seized, and its voter registrations and absentee ballots rejected by the thousands:

ACORN, which claims to be a non-partisan grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people, came under fire in 2007 when Washington State filed felony charges against several paid ACORN employees and supervisors for more than 1,700 fraudulent voter registrations. In March 2008, an ACORN worker in Pennsylvania was sentenced for making 29 phony voter registration forms. The group's activities were frequently questioned in the 2008 presidential election.

The Las Vegas Sun discloses more ACORN shenanigans (hat tip to our dearest Michelle):

Members of a new task force designed to prevent voter fraud raided the Las Vegas office of an organization that works with low-income people on everything from voting to neighborhood improvements.

State investigators, armed with a search warrant, sought evidence of voter fraud at the office of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, a Nevada Secretary of State's office spokesman said today....

There are allegations that some registration applications were completed with false information, while other applications attempted to register the same person multiple times, Miller said.

"We've been told that some of the allegedly erroneous applications even included the names of players from the Dallas Cowboys football team," Miller said.

ACORN frequently employs former felons -- some convicted of identity theft! -- on its payroll to register voters and "assist" them with absentee ballots; but they also sometimes employ convicted felons who are currently incarcerated:

In a 19-page affidavit by criminal investigator Colin Hayes of the Secretary of State's office, Hayes said 59 inmates worked for ACORN between March 5 and July 31.

One ex-employee of ACORN, Jason Anderson, rose to the rank of a supervisor in the voter registration program although he was a convicted felon and an inmate at Casa Grande at the time, the affidavit said.

Powerhouse blogs like Power Line, Michelle Malkin, Hot Air, and many other sites have documented numerous examples of ACORN's mendacity in voter registrations and absentee-ballot handling, from allegations to indictments to convictions of ACORN employees. In light of this cascade of evidence, from sources ranging from the elite media to local media to law-enforcement investigations to courtroom testimony, the "defense" offered by ACORN officials -- that the organization as a whole has not yet been formally charged, à la the prosecution against the Holy Land Foundation -- looks more and more pathetic.

As we argued here, the decennial census is vital to determining congressional districts, state legislative districts, and disbursing funding from legislation; yet the Democratic Party in general, and ACORN in criminal particulars, have terrible and unenviable records of enabling and promoting voter fraud, registration fraud, political-contribution fraud, and election fraud (see Al Franken's attempt -- which still might succeed -- to steal the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota). Since the Clinton era, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has been the "muscle" of choice in the Democratic culture of elections corruption, the "Luca Brasi" of voter fraud.

The president himself is hardly a disinterested party here; the Boston Globe reports that during the 1990s, Obama served as one of three lawyers on a team formed by his law firm, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, to represent ACORN in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois; thirteen years later, the Obama presidential campaign paid $800,000 to ACORN for "get out the vote" (GOTV) operations in four states during the primary campaign.

An official with the Census Bureau inadvertently revealed the danger of teaming up with ACORN on the census; from the Fox News article linked above:

[Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner] stressed the need for organizations like ACORN to assist in the effort, saying that "any group that has a grassroots organization that can help get the word out that we have jobs" is helpful.

I'm sure ACORN will be assiduous in getting that word out; but getting it out to whom? If past performance indicates future actions, it will be getting the word out to a boatload of felons, inmates, and identity-theft specialists, who will staff the effort to determine how many Americans there are in the 435 congressional districts and hundreds of state legislative districts across the United States -- thus putting themselves in position to gerrymander the entire country at one fell blow.

Buckner adds that we're not to worry, because "we have a lot of quality controls in place to keep any kind of systemic error or fraudulent behavior to affect [sic] the counts." Color me skeptical. And a bit queasy.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 18, 2009, at the time of 2:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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