29 February 2008

BYUSA Elections

It's that time of year again. Time for the BYUSA student elections for President and Executive(?) Vice President. We've written about this annual train wreck before here and here. In microcosm, BYUSA's strict campaign rules are an example of what happens when speech is limited by rules no one understands.

Only, they can't blame John McCain.

The first BYUSA election we can remember was significant because one of the guys looked like Robert Downey Jr. When it's a show election for a show office, might as well have a face primed for showtime.

After that, we remember another BYUSA President who was the funny fat guy. Everybody loves that guy.

This year's election theme seems to be brother/sister teams. Check out the candidates and their platforms here:
You'll be surprised not to see "hope" and "change" anywhere (at least that we could detect) on their websites. Even if they're not Democrats, you'd think they'd know a winning superficial campaign message when they see it. And copy it.

As it is, Steele and Amanda misspell "initiaition" [sic] and Paul and Brooke's flash slideshow resulted in this really weird transgender morphing action. Initiation? Come on, guys. And Paul, buddy, you're scaring the kids.

Alright, we're equal opportunity grammar/spelling police: McKell Myers was "Chairmen [sic] of the Teenage Republican Club for Comal County." Brandon Roman is an "extravert" and a political science major. Meanwhile, Adam Ruri was a "male vocalist in a band." (emphasis added) Yup. We sort through the inanities of this campaign so you don't have to.

Click here and here for the Daily Universe's usual hard-hitting journalism.

We have modest goals for this election: an election-decided winner. This would be a departure from the winner-by-default outcome of the last few years.


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27 February 2008

William F. Buckley Jr., RIP

William F. Buckley Jr., father of modern conservatism and another of our heroes, passed away today. We cannot do justice to Mr. Buckley's personal history and accomplishments. Our personal experience with Mr. Buckley through the written word and ideas will have to suffice.

Our first encounter with Mr. Buckley was through one of his spy novels. We can't now remember the name of the book, but it was a gift from our dad. We remember thinking that the simple cloak and dagger of Mr. Buckley's books was more entertaining than the superficiality of 007.

We also remember watching or at least being in the room when our father was watching Mr. Buckley on Firing Line, his PBS political debate show. For a long time, he was the only conservative on TV.

We grew up in a largely conservative community, but most of our politically savvy friends and teachers were Democrats. Whether it was on a debate trip or in our senior government class, we were often the only person arguing the conservative side of the debate. Looking for good material, we remember coming across a series of articles by Mr. Buckley. He and they were smart, understandable, and conservative (not Republican).

As a freshman at BYU, one of the first books we bought at the bookstore fall sale was The Right Word, by William F. Buckley Jr. We didn't actually read the book until after returning home from a 2-year church mission, but this book taught us a love for the English language. From it we learned a love of words and crafting of coherent sentences (yes, we leave something to be desired).

This November, we will have been subscribed to William F. Buckley's magazine, National Review, for four years. Mr. Buckley's sections "Notes & Asides" and "On The Right" have always been our favorite reads. His intellectual and principled approach deeply affected our approach to politics.

Mr. Buckley formed the foundation of modern conservatism. It's a lot healthier now than it was when he got his start with God and Man at Yale over 50 years ago. We and other conservatives may not always agree with Mr. Buckley, but because of the intellectual heavy lifting he has done for the movement, we must all acknowledge and refer to his conservative political doctrine.

Our final memory of Mr. Buckley is of our shared love--Alta. We happened across an account of Mr. Buckley's annual visits to Alta, Utah for a week of skiing at the center of the skiing universe. We've had a season's pass at Alta for 5 years. We worked in Alta's Alf Engen ski school. For years Mr. Buckley would take his family to ski at Alta. He would often meet another of our political intellectual heroes, Milton Friedman at Alta for a few days of skiing and Alta conviviality (link: scroll to the bottom).

We wish we could have ridden a chairlift with those two. Tomorrow, when we head to Alta, we'll be sure to ski a run or two in memory of both those great men. We feel fortunate to have something in common with Mr. Buckley--we're both conservatives who love Alta.

*UPDATE 3:55pm MST: For a collection of all the best on WFB, check out The Corner at National Review Online.

**UPDATE 10:48pm MST: A further collection of NRO reader-responses to WFB's passing.


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26 February 2008

Prison Break Politics

We watched/listened to most of the Democratic debate tonight. In our opinion, Hillary showed better than most pundits seemed to think. We were particularly amused by her reference to the SNL sketch we linked to in our last post. No doubt she read about it first here at OL&L.

After the debate, we watched (re-watched, actually) a few episodes of Prison Break Season 2 with our dad and brother. It may seem funny to some of you, but while watching, it occurred to us why so many on the left are paranoid about FISA, Gitmo, the Patriot Act, etc. Prison Break is one of many shows in which the evil actor is [is: homer nods] some nebulous, nefarious organization called simply, "the company." This "company" tortures, listens in on phone calls, falsifies evidence, starts wars, buys elections, kills people (lots of 'em)--everything the paranoid left has ascribed to the Bush administration for the last 7+ years.

Somewhere along the way, people started to blur the lines between news and tv drama. Of course, Prison Break isn't the only show to blame. Each successive season of 24 comes up with another set of corrupt government/business people who are bent on destroying American civil liberties (at the least), world domination, and killing lots of people.

The more we think about it, the more we realize how common these themes have become. Somehow, this corrupt government/business meme has become incredibly popular. Even Heroes, (ah, Heroes) with its hope for a better day (the good doctors narration in these shows makes us want to bang our head against the wall, repeatedly) has bought into the tired sinister government/business take-over-the-world through the US meme.

We don't think the paranoid left or anyone else is stupid. We're sure that, if asked seriously, they would admit that these types of things happen only in Hollywood. But it's impossible to deny the subtle influence these shows have on our attitudes towards government and corporations.

Sure, it's only in TV and the movies, but what if? What if the government is killing off its opponents and listening in on every critical conversation about President Bush? What if Gitmo and the secret hidden bunker-prisons in Eastern Europe are full of, not terrorists, but liberal Democrats? What if?

This probably sounds all too familiar to all you 9/11 truthers out there.

The point of all this is to ask for a little bit of sanity when it comes to discussing our intelligence gathering and security issues. The government is not listening in on the conversations you have with your friend in Berkeley about how great that Keith Olbermann is or how much you hate Rush Limbaugh. The only conversations this legislation applies to are ones that originate and end in other countries. We personally think it's ridiculous that there should be any legislation about this type of intelligence gathering.

The only reason it has come under the courts purview is because like every phone call made in the world, it's routed through some US based servers. This does not make it domestic spying. Even then, their computers are looking for specific words from a hot list developed from their intel contacts. They're not listening to every overseas conversation where someone mentions the word "terrorist." Remember, terrorists don't refer to themselves as terrorists and when they talk to each other, they usually use a lot of code.

This is why we were so disappointed when House Democrats decided to go on vacation rather than passing the bill that had already been passed with a bipartisan majority in the Senate. Whether they were appeasing their trial lawyer-donors or appeasing the paranoid left or whatever, it was highly irresponsible. They were, in effect, playing politics with national security.

In Congressional elections this fall, Republican candidates can justly say that Democrats went on vacation rather than passing intelligence security legislation designed to let us listen to terrorists' conversations. In England or France or Germany, they would laugh that this is even an issue--that somehow there would be limitations on listening to overseas communications.

And they're right, it is ridiculous.


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25 February 2008

Obama's Somali Dress: Harbinger Of Things To Come?

Mirroring, in physical terms, the political battle being waged between Hillary and Barack, two brother's in law fought, with the Clinton supporter eventually stabbing the Barack supporter in the stomach. At least it wasn't in the back, right?

(hat tip: dmz)

Clinton(ite) Stabs (Obama Supporter)


Yeah, dems, we're SO jealous of your two awesome, awesome candidates.

[schadenfreude alert]

After 16 or so years of seeing the Clinton attack machine bully conservatives (to the shameful delight of their party), we suppose we feel the same way about Hillary's attacks on Barack as we do when we hear of a terrorist accidentally blowing himself up with his own bomb.

Isn't it great to see one of the Clintons complain about media bias? Incidentally, the Clinton team is right, the press is unabashedly backing their candidate, Barack. Just like they would do if it were Hillary vs. McCain in the general election (salute).

If you haven't seen it already, check out the SNL sketch parodying the media love for Obama. Good stuff.


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24 February 2008

[Sunday Night] Roundup

A few things worth checking out (if you haven't already):

- George Will on possible running mates for John McCain.
- Libertas, a conservative film blog. Take a look at their live blog of the Oscars.
- What happens when hope meets reality (hat tip: Branden Berns)
- Captain Pete Hesgeth on the current state of the The Surge.
- Smart/Funny column of the week from our fav. writer, Mark Steyn.

- Sports related: the latest on the Seattle Super Sonics.

Weekly plug for our fellow America's Future Foundation College Blogger competitors: Weekly Fantasy Baseball plug:

With just over 26 days until the start of the official On Life and Lybberty Fantasy Baseball League, there's not much time for you to join. If you love statistics, baseball, or just plain old competition, join up! The rosters are set small and only require once-a-week maintenance.

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22 February 2008

The Difference Between "Appealing To" and "Becoming"

Our recent Obama posts have incited a lot of defensive comments. We've been called alternately unprincipled (new one), hypocritical (not new), full of crap (overused), an idiot (ditto), and intellectually dishonest (uncommon, but not new).

The following are the most common complaints:

1. your religion was once, or is now, considered a cult so you shouldn't call Obama's followers a cult.

OR

2. Bush, Reagan and others used religious rhetoric or appealed to the religiosity of their party, so what Obama is doing is nothing new.

OR

3. Obama is not using, appealing to, or becoming anything remotely religious.

***

3. We'll start with the last one first because it is the easiest. Obamamessiah.blogspot.com has done an incredible job of drawing out the pseudo-religious elements of the Obama campaign from all available press reports. You can't read the too-numerous-to-count articles and not see it.

For dems who already have religion, Obama simply appeals to their religiosity. We don't have a problem with this. As Justin and Ben pointed out, this is no different than what Republicans have done with the religious right for years.

Where things get a little sketchy is when Obama veers into becoming the religion. Democrats tend to be less religious than Republicans. But this does not mean that these people don't seek something to fill that gap. For many Democrats, that gap is filled by politics. This explains, in part, how personally the DailyKos kids and Huffington Post crowd take their politics. It explains why they tend to be more fixated on the candidate than they are on the candidate's policies and politics. For them, Obama doesn't just appeal to religious rhetoric in the way that Reagan or Bush or even Huckabee did and do, he has become the leader of their religion.

Hope and change are their foundational religious principles. Adherence to the gospel of environmentalism, nanny-state entitlements and regulations, civil liberties, anti-Iraq, etc., are the required bylaws. And Obama is the charismatic leader. People faint when he speaks, try to touch him when he passes by, and shout "I love you" when there's silence (this is just a small sampling). Obama is Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, Nelson Mandela, and FDR all rolled into one. If not a messiah, at least a political messiah--a messiah for the rest of us, if you will.

***

2. Can we help it if Democrats are more susceptible to cults of personality? Ben and Justin and MJ derided Republicans for how little love we have for our candidate. We think this is a good thing. We're only interested in a politician to the extent that their politics match ours. We didn't love GW in 2000 and we didn't love Reagan until long after the end of his presidency. Democrats loved FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton, and now, Barack Obama. They love to love their leaders. We don't.

Since the rise of the religious right in conservative politics, Republican candidates have used rhetoric and adopted policies to appeal to these voters for their support and votes. Liberals have accused Republicans for years of trying to set up some sort of theocracy. Whatever. Values voters may have wanted to stop abortion and gay marriage, but they never wanted to run the government.

Enter Obama. Irreligious or anti-religious democrats have replaced religion with secularism. It may not have an omnipotent/omniscient being in charge, but like any other religion, it has its tenets (mentioned above, environmentalism, etc.), language (political correct speech), and now it has its charismatic leader. The left has always worshipped at the fountain of youth, so Barack is the perfect blank canvass. Barack isn't all-knowing, but progressive liberalism certainly knows better.

Barack Obama has become the charismatic leader of his pseudo religion. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush appealed to conservatives' already held religious beliefs. Even Mike Huckabee only set himself up as a religious leader, never The Religious Leader.

***

1. Disparagers of Mormon history and Joseph Smith can rightfully call the early movement part cult of personality--right, not because they are correct, but because they have the right to be wrong.

Whatever anyone thinks of the LDS religion then or now (cult or otherwise), the fact that we or anyone else happen to be members of or affiliated to some organization that others might consider a cult does not take away our right to identify elements of personality cults in other movements.

We aren't voting for the LDS church to take over the leadership of the United States. Mitt Romney didn't set himself up as the leader of a religious-like movement. He was satisfied to run for President.

***

Questions remain about the pseudo religious nature of Obama's movement. What we don't know is the extent to which Obama has invited the following seen everyday and documented by obamamessiah.com. Is he the instigator or simply a willing participant? Some of the rhetoric and the fainting routine seem to indicate the former.

Obviously, this phenomenon that has sprung up around Obama is not the sum of the man. We freely admit that he is intelligent, articulate, and an inspiring speaker. We won't use the hyperbole of Spikers in yesterday's comments, mostly because it is still way early in the game. We believe that once Obama's policies are fleshed out (as, eventually they will be), he will prove to be an old style liberal cloaked in the attractive apparel of a charismatic. There's nothing wrong with that if you like charismatic, old school liberals. Think, Jimmy Carter with personality.


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21 February 2008

"Will NCMO For Utah vs. BYU Ticket"

From the, "you can't make this up" file, there's this:

Will NCMO for Utah-BYU ticket on February 20th


Reply to: serv-573073774@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-02-13, 2:10PM MST


I would be willing to donate a full day of my "services" for anyone that would like to give me a ticket to the Utah/BYU basketball game. I am willing to go as far as giving a little NCMO, holding hands, meeting your roommates and showing off so you look cool. All I ask in return is a ticket to this game.

Female 18-30 with upstanding oral health is required.

Serious inquiries only!
  • Location: Provo/Orem
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 573073774



Copyright © 2008 craigslist, inc. terms of use privacy policy feedback forum


It gets better. The Craigslisting was successful and the Cougarboard contributor posted a narrative of the evening's events under the title, "How I got my Utah-BYU Ticket." With details like this...:
We decided to go back to her place and watch a movie. Her roommates rented "Stardust" earlier in the week, and she had been too busy to watch it, so we decided to put it in. Things seemed fine and relaxed at first, but then she started to scoot closer to me and stroke my arm. I was enjoying it, so I ran my fingers through her hair and playfully tickled her.
...we don't even care if the story is true or not.


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"Name Barack Obama's Legislative Accomplishments"



Normally, we dislike Chris Matthews. But there's nothing wrong with this interview.

(But he edited the Harvard Law Review!)

Are you like us? Do you feel like Obama is the kid in college who is still talking about high school? We're told (hat tip: Morgan) those kids are called "high school heroes."

We like the sound of that: Barack Obama, high school hero.


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20 February 2008

BYU Political Review: More Econ, Less Poly Sci

Just finished reviewing the latest copy of the BYU Political Review. We'll give them this: they're miles ahead of the opinion writing in the Daily Universe. But all articles are not created equal. And for some reason, some political science majors misuse big words, presumably to make themselves sound smart.

Anywho, we general-ly (salute) find ourselves agreeing more with the articles written by econ majors than we do poly sci majors.

(Full disclosure: we were once a poly sci major. Whew. Feels good to get that one off the chest.)

Click the links to see what we mean.

Good (in our opinion):
Bad (as above):
Among the ones we liked, there are many points and even entire articles with which we did not agree. But we liked them. Because they were logical and made sense. And didn't try to use or misuse too many big words to make themselves sound smart (cue someone's critique of us for using schadenfreude). Additionally, one of the ones we didn't like was written by one of our friends. Just because he's our buddy doesn't mean he gets a pass.

Our liberal friends will be happy to note that many of these articles embrace, at the very least, a liberal foreign policy agenda. And though we've mentioned it before, it merits bringing up again in this post: BYU professors politics by-and-large match the politics of their peers at other universities. That is to say, they tend to be Democrats.

Of the 39 or so professors in our major (history), two were registered as Republicans. An informal poll of the poly sci department showed some 80-90% were dems. Economics is probably more conservative/libertarian. Business school is no doubt conservativeish. But if they're in an arts, humanities, social science department(engineering probably leans conservative as well), they're more likely to be left-leaning. We're sure they do their best to be fair. But it's hard not to let your bias infiltrate your teaching. As anyone knows, it's the biases we're not aware of that are often most damaging.

All of this is by the by. Back to BYU PR. The article that annoyed us the most was the protectionist, "open letter to the president of Banana Republic." The condescension of this little article probably matches the condescending tone we use when critiquing other writers' word usage and grammar. Seriously. Take for example, this line:
I am unconvinced by your rationale for not publishing a list of the factories that Gap contracts with. The reasoning, from your online FAQ, was that: “We invest a lot of time, effort and money in identifying factories that meet our product-quality and vendor-compliance standards…We believe it would be unwise to provide a complete list of approved factories for our competitors to use.” Without question, I believe that protection and accountability for labor standards is worth the cost and the competition. I do not accept that obscuring specific and detailed information on particular contracts and factories is necessary for Gap’s financial survival.
How, exactly, does Tristan expect Gap to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals if they disclose all of this information? Tristan's lecturing tone belies a total ignorance of economics and business. When confronted by a so-called sweat shop, the only question he should ask is, "can they quit if they want?" That's it. Because if they can, and they don't, it's because their sweat shop job is better than the alternative. And who is he to tell them otherwise? It's that kind of sanctimonious, condescending, know-it-all-ism, that really chaps our asterisk.

His last graph centers on the "excesses" of executive pay. Again, Tristan, it's basic economics. Low level workers get paid like low level workers because they are easily replaced. Top level execs get paid gazillions of dollars because they are not easily replaced. And they do the things that keep Gap in business and employ all the people at those 2000 factories you mentioned. If they weren't doing their jobs or weren't worth the money, they would get fired.

Congratulations, Tristan. You bought the talking points of the protectionists--especially labor unions. They don't care about the environment in Brazil or Chinese working conditions. They just care about their jobs. The truth is, who are we to tell Brazil what to do with their rain forest? Or to tell the Chinese workers that they shouldn't work 15 hour days for 25 cents? Obviously they chose that job because it was better than the alternative.

We'd like to go on and pound on all the fair traders, but it's late, and mom says it's time for us to get off the soap box.

Justin, Spikers, can we agree on free trade?


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18 February 2008

How Does It Feel To Have A "Kool" Candidate?

Cartoon link

*UPDATE 1:57pm MST: Schadenfreude Watch: Remember our post last week about the coming Clinton-Obama storm? Drudge has a taste of things to come: War Over Words: Clinton Team Accuses Obama of 'Plagiarism''

**UPDATE 2:45pm MST: Like us, Mark Steyn doesn't like Che Guevara. Jeff Jacoby doesn't either. You Say You Want A Revolution by Mark Steyn (worth reading in its entirety):
Do Obama’s volunteers even know who Che is? Apart from being a really cool guy on posters and T-shirts, like James Dean or Bart Simpson, I doubt it. They’re pseudo-revolutionaries. Very few people in America want a real revolution: Life is great, this is a terrific country, with unparalleled economic opportunities. To be sure, it’s a tougher break if you have the misfortune to be the victim of one of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs or a decrepit inner-city grade school with a higher per-student budget than the wealthiest parts of Switzerland. But even so, to be born a U.S. citizen is, as Cecil Rhodes once said of England, to win first prize in the lottery of life. Not even Obama supporters want real revolution: They’re messy, your cities get torched, the economy collapses, much of your talent flees. Ask the many peoples around the world for whom revolution means not a lame-o Sixties poster above your desk but the carnage and horror of the day before yesterday.
Ah, but revolutionaries are so romantic.

***UPDATE 4:14pm MST: Michael Barone on the electoral implications of upcoming Democratic primaries and caucuses. Interesting stuff, this:
The Democrats, in contrast, have been split on demographic lines, between blacks and Latinos, old and young, upscale and downscale. The delegate selection rules, based on their notion of fairness, are heading the party not to a clear outcome but to a conflict in which the losing side is likely to feel profoundly aggrieved.
Where/how will it end? Regarding Michigan and Florida, should the rules change now the vote is done? Voters in those states knew the election rules--they'd been well-publicized. Wouldn't it have changed the outcome if they knew their votes would count (remember, Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan)? It isn't as cut and dry (Spikers) as simple disenfranchisement of the Michigan and Florida voters (count 'em!); there's a lot more to it. Do you want the courts to resolve this?

****UPDATE 5:14pm MST: This blog--obamamessiah.blogspot.com--does a better job of tracking the religious nature of Obama's campaign than we do.


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Lincoln & Washington


We celebrate these President's birthdays today because it's the Monday that falls roughly in the middle of their birthdates. That's why we celebrate it today, but it's not why we celebrate these men.

We celebrate and honor them because they were the leaders of this country when America faced its greatest existential threats: Revolutionary America the the Civil War.

Both of them were great wartime leaders. Washington led when no one else could or would. Against overwhelming odds, he won a war against a far superior force. When it was over, rather than seizing power or leading his men in a coup, he peacefully resigned his post. Later, when America needed his influence to construct the Constitution, he was there. He was our first President and set many important precedents still followed today. He could have made himself President for life, but he declined to run again after his 2nd term.

Abraham Lincoln was President during the Civil War. In fact, it was his election to the Presidency that prompted the southern states to make their break. Before and after pictures of President Lincoln (before and after the Civil War) show the great strain this conflict put on him.

Lincoln was not popular during the Civil War. After the war and even after his death, he was not popular anywhere in the South. But it was his duty to match the ideals of the Declaration of Independence with the reality of mid 19th Century America. He called the Civil War an American transformation, a second birth, an opportunity to realize the promise of 1776.

The Civil War cost America more in terms of blood and treasure and national trauma than all other American conflicts combined. We're still dealing with the aftermath.

Neither of these men were perfect--either in their personal lives or in their leadership of this country. But their missteps and mistakes pale in comparison to their accomplishments. We can thank them, more than any other two individuals, for the liberties, freedoms, and prosperity we enjoy today.

Happy Presidents' Day.

*UPDATE: Fantastic article about Washington's history of service.


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17 February 2008

Barack Obama: He Hasn't Cried (Yet)...

...but boy, does he make the women swoon.

From Breitbart, Best of the Web, and Radio Vice Online.
  • Montecito, Calif., Sept. 8, 2007. "A woman standing in front of the stage appeared to faint as Obama spoke about Iraq," the Associated Press reported. "The candidate paused and asked the crowd to make way for firefighters. One supporter shouted, 'You're a good man,' leaving Obama momentarily at a loss for words. 'Well, I'm not the only one stopping to help her,' he said, sounding almost embarrassed."
  • Madison, Wis., Oct. 22, 2007. "This excitement mirrored the aura in the room that grew throughout his speech," reported WISN-TV. "Before the senator arrived, students were tossing around an inflatable cow above the crowd. Three people fainted in the midst of all the enthusiasm."
  • Hanover, N.H., Jan. 8, 2008. "Barack Obama's first and only rally on election day came to a sudden and lengthy stop when a young woman in the Dartmouth College gym fainted, and was eventually rolled off on a gurney by emergency medical technicians," the Los Angeles Times reported. "At first Obama half-narrated the episode, saying soothing things like, 'She's OK,' 'She's talking.' But the longer she lay on the floor, the quieter Obama got, standing on the podium, arms folded, looking worried as the medical crew worked." Minneapolis's WCCO-TV has video showing Obama handing a bottle of water to the Dartmouth damsel in distress.
  • Hartford, Conn., Feb. 4, 2008. "And when a woman appeared to faint in the standing-only VIP section in front of the podium, Obama paused his speech for over a minute as he directed the crowd to make way for an EMT team and tossed a bottle of water from the stage," reported the Yale Daily News.
  • Seattle, Feb. 8, 2008. "Climate change, the Iraq war and Obama tossing a bottle of water to a woman about to faint all received big cheers," MSNBC.com reported. "As Obama told the crowd to part so that the woman in question could leave and called for help, a young girl in the crowd shouted out, 'What a man!' The audience roared with laughter (although the press that has seen this happen before rolled its eyes)."
There are no policy differences between Hillary and Barack. The only differences, for the party of diversity, are superficial. She is a white woman and he is a black man. Yay, diversity. Of course, he is able to inspire with his message of hope(!) and change(!) and the closest she comes to eliciting an emotional response (besides revulsion) is her fortnightly crying sessions.


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16 February 2008

Weekend Update

With just over 36 days until the start of the official On Life and Lybberty Fantasy Baseball League, there's not much time for you to join. If you love statistics, baseball, or just plain old competition, join up! The rosters are set small and only require once-a-week maintenance.

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***

Your weekend reading assignment:

- The Democrats are playing politics with our national security. Here's the nuts and bolts about what this means for our intelligence: When the Clock Strikes Midnight, We Will Be Significantly Less Safe.

- Know how many terrorists have actually been waterboarded since 9/11? Three. That's it, just three. And each one gave us valuable intelligence. If Democrats were serious about stopping waterboarding, they would have made it illegal. But they didn't. Know why? Because they didn't want to be blamed if we missed getting key intel by using waterboarding--a very effective interrogation technique. Read Jonah Goldberg's Five Minutes Well Spent.

- The Senate passed the Protect America Act, but for some reason (moveon.org) Nancy Pelosi refused to even permit a vote in the House (it would have passed with a large bipartisan majority). But this shouldn't surprise anyone. Read Dems' Dangerous FISA Game.

- We've had our issues with John McCain--McCain/Feingold, McCain/Lieberman, McCain/Kennedy, class warfare rhetoric opposing Bush tax cuts, Gitmo, etc.--and these things haven't gone away. But we are pragmatic about our politics and we recognize that the alternative to McCain is much, much worse. We were already resigned to this mindset. But after reading Larry Kudlow's The Case For McCain we're fired up about a McCain presidency.

*UPDATE 3:01am MST: Our friend, Benjamin Treasure, penned a fantastic piece about the ridiculous protest going on down at Berkeley. The California Patriot has also blogged about it regularly. Like Ben, we support the Semper Fi Act. And you should too.


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15 February 2008

Michigan & Florida - Count 'em!

This is what happens when "trial lawyers" are your most important donor group.
(what also happens is you play politics with basic national security and don't renew FISA, Ms. Pelosi)

With Hillary falling in the polls, a delegate comeback looking increasingly unlikely, and Putin bashing your candidacy (restoring America's reputation, one tyrant at a time!), it appears as though the Clinton machine might have to resort to the nuclear option.

You might remember this option for its use during the 2000 and 2004 Presidential election. Remember those? In 2000 Gore and his team of lawyers demanded a recount in violation of Florida election rules (incidentally, the recount showed Bush won) while arguing against a recount in any of the close states Gore won.

In 2004, Democrats hoped to replay 2000 (with a different outcome, obviously) in Ohio. Kerry ended up losing by over 100,000 votes.

Now, with the New England Patriots of candidates, the inevitable, unbeatable, wife-of-Bill, on the ropes, it looks like she just might sick the dogs on her own party.

And we can't help but enjoy a bit of schadenfreude. Ah, schadenfreude. (and dramatic irony)

Michigan and Florida violated Democratic party rules by moving their primaries up. The DNC de-certified their elections and the candidates agreed not to campaign in either place--Edwards and Obama didn't even have their names on the ballot. Well, now we're hearing the same rhetoric we did in 2000 and 2004--"everyone's vote should count!"

Eventually, the Clinton's are going to want this one to be played out in court and Obama will be put in the uncomfortable position of having to argue in favor of election rules and against allowing "everyone's vote [to] count(!)."

And if you don't think that will tear up the Democratic party, well, you haven't paid any attention to the Clinton's scorched earth tactics. Hillary, whatever else anyone says about her, is a win-at-all-costs type of candidate--even against someone in her own party. You wont see any of the grace we've seen from Republican candidates. Nope, and it's going to be fantastic.

In case anyone wondered what might happen if Clinton did become president, you need look no further than the state of her campaign team. People are quitting. They're attacking each other. They're playing the blame game. Her campaign is in complete disarray. Where is Hillary, the voice of calm and reason?

No doubt our friends in the hope/change camp (aka Obama backers) are happy the way things have turned out. But what will you do if Hillary tries to steal the election in the courts? Meanwhile, our Democratic establishment friends (aka Clinton/'90's nostalgists) can't be pleased.

In any event, both groups better hope this thing gets settled quickly. And with less mess than appears will be the case. Else a Democrat in the White House will be a lot less inevitable than everyone thought.


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14 February 2008

Interview With Brian Jones, Former RNC Director Of Communications - Part 3

Part 3, the conclusion to our interview with Brian Jones.

***

OL&L: There are some among our conservative friends who, as much as they despise the Clintons, and don’t want them back in the White House, if there must be a Democratic President, they actually prefer Hillary to Barack because they know she’ll do what’s popular, what’s safe, and wont veer hard to the left.

Brian Jones: I think there’s a pragmatism to Hillary Clinton that’s hard to get away from. Hillary is someone to took a poll about where she should live in New York when she ran for the Senate. She’s driven by ambition and calculation. There’s a belief among some that that ambition will keep her kind of on the straight and narrow. She won’t go too far off the deep end. Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure. It makes sense to me that that’s how she operates, and that’s how she’ll continue to operate. It’s how her husband operated and why you had him talking about things like seat belts and school uniforms and never really doing anything big in his presidency.

Obama is much more of an unknown. Sometimes it seems like he’s coming at Hillary from the right, but then you look at his voting record and find that he is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal.

I do believe there is something to this notion that she would be more of a centrist candidate. And maybe that helps her in the general election.

OL&L: One of our friends, a self-described Libertarian, said that he will vote for Obama because he views him as a symbol of hope and he believes his rhetoric about change. But the thing that struck us about his support for Obama, and we wonder if this is common among Obama supporters, is that despite what Obama is saying to appeal to the base, he believes Obama is smart enough that once he gets in office, he’ll make the good decision, that he won't be ultra liberal. Do you believe that to be true?

Brian Jones: There’s no doubt he’s a very intelligent person. And it’s the game that every politician plays in the primary—some better than others. They start off appealing to the base and then try to broaden their appeal in the general election. They search for ways to appeal to more people—whether that’s through compassionate conservatism or whatever. Ronald Reagan was able to successfully appeal to a group now referred to as Reagan Democrats,

In the case of Obama, I’m not sure you can say which way he’ll go. For anyone who goes through the process, is ambitious enough to seek the Presidency and reach the level Barack Obama is at right now, there have to be elements that, for lack of a better word, are commonsensical. In an Obama Presidency you’re going to see higher taxes. You’re going to see a larger federal bureaucracy. You’re going to wind up seeing more government spending. Remember, Bill Clinton came into office and within a year passed the largest tax increase in the history of the country. You’re going to see policies that aren’t going to get many centrists and Republicans excited.

OL&L: With Democrat turnout and campaign donations at current levels, you don’t see a Democrat in the White House as an inevitability, do you?

Brian Jones: Now way. I don’t see it at all. Elections are about choices. Right now you see a lot of energy for the Democrats. But at the same time, we haven’t reached the point where you’ve got one candidate vs. another candidate where you can really begin to engage on the issues. In the last months or so, as the campaign has become front and center for people, the generic ballot, which tracks whether someone would vote for a Democrat or Republican for Congress, the Democrats, who had a double digit lead for a number of months, have seen their lead shrink to 4 or 5 points. I think that, as soon as we get to focus on the issues, realize what’s at stake, and have a candidate who’s the manifestation of that, it will wind up changing. This notion that the Democrats have it in the bag is a complete misnomer. You could have talked to many Democrats in February 2004who would have said that there was no way George Bush was going to get reelected. And this year we’re going to have a new face, and I think there’s a very good chance Republicans could wind up keeping the White house.

OL&L: Fantastic. Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Jones.


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13 February 2008

Is He Sure It Wasn't A Warm Sensation Going Down His Leg?

(because he needs Depend Adult Incontinence Products. after all, he was a speech writer for Jimmy Carter and that was like a bajillion years ago)

Chris Matthews:
It's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often. [emphasis added]
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Barack Obama's Cult Of Personality


Image Link

Love this cartoon.


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Interview With Brian Jones, Former RNC Director Of Communications - Part 2

Here's part two of our three part conversation with Brian Jones, former RNC Communications Director and John McCain for President Communications Director.

***

OL&L: Our concern, and maybe the concern of other conservative voters is that when it comes to the general election, and there are more than just ardent Republicans and Democrats voting, do you think that “like-ability” will have a better or broader appeal? How will the Republican candidate combat that superficial appeal?

Brian Jones: Hillary’s appeal may be superficial and image based, but let’s face it, she’s not a like-able candidate. Even Democrats I talk to—and I think most Democrats would agree—say she’s not as like-able as Obama.

The challenge for Obama, if he gets the nomination, is how does he maintain this rockstar-like status? How does he maintain that aura for eight, nine, ten months? It just seems that in today’s media environment, we’ve seen what can happen with other candidates. It doesn’t take long to be this inevitable, floating-above-everything candidate, like Rudy Giuliani. Then, the next thing you know, you’re on the outside looking in.

One thing McCain does have is that like-ability factor, a certain honesty, a genuineness that people appreciate. Sometimes it works against him. Sometimes that genuineness strikes people as a little too much candor or even anger. I think it’s just genuineness, honesty, candor. And I think most people connect with him on that level. They might not always agree with him, but they know he’s always going to give it to them straight.

OL&L: So you see him as being able to rival the like-ability of Barack Obama?

Brian Jones: You see it with members of the press and I think you see it with voters too. He may not be able to match Obama’s like-ability, but that will be offset by other facets of McCain’s personality. In McCain you have someone with impeccable foreign policy credentials. Granted, the economy has taken center stage, but there’s news out of Iraq today that al-Qaeda is training children to shoot weapons and be suicide bombers. This problem is not going to go away. For people who are fed up with government spending, McCain has a long record of fighting government waste.

If it’s Barack versus McCain, Obama may be the more like-able candidate, but that’s not going to take him all the way. And McCain’s straight talking will help offset that.

OL&L: As you mentioned before, McCain has the next 10 months to point out that there’s more to being President than just being well liked—we aren’t voting for the junior class president.

Brian Jones: McCain can sometimes be a little streaky as a politician, but he is a great story teller. I saw it when I traveled with him. He has this ability to really get people wrapped up in what he is saying. I don’t think it has come out in this campaign yet. I remember one instance, when we were riding on the bus all day long and he was telling stories about the ’96 Dole campaign and other campaigns. There were staffers and reporters and a couple of local supporters on the bus for the last stretch. We got to the hotel and no one had realized the bus had stopped because they were so in to the stories he was telling. The bus driver had to come back and say, “hey, we’re at the hotel now.”

He’s got that ability to connect with people in a way that other politicians don’t. That hasn’t received as much attention because of the media infatuation with Obama. Huckabee is also a great communicator. But McCain clearly has strengths there, too.


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David McCullough & ConSource

ConSource is a good and worthy effort to digitize relevant primary source documents related to the Constitution and make them available to everyone.

We received the following information via email and pass it along to you, dear reader.

***

Join us today for:

George Washington: From Commander in Chief to Chief Executive

Taught by:

David McCullough
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author

Webcast at www.ConSource.org
Wednesday, February 13th
2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT

All students are invited to learn and ask questions about George Washington first-hand by participating in this online President's Day celebration.

For more information, please visit www.ConSource.org.


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12 February 2008

American Historical Perspective (formerly, Responding To Your Comments)

We felt left out of the good dialogue erupting in the comments section here at OL&L. Frankly, we can't keep up with everything everyone writes, but we did want to respond to a couple of things.

Side note: glad to see our three "contrarians" ringing in, as usual, in a contrary way (MJM, JW, BT--thanks). Lest anyone think otherwise, we appreciate what they add to the discussion here. They keep us honest and keep us from devolving into an echo chamber--you know, like the DailyKos and Huffington Post folks.

Justin, we didn't give up on Bush. Why, just a couple of weeks ago we wrote this: State of the Union (this is what happens when you don't check OL&L every day). To summarize: on balance, we think he's done more good than bad.

Regarding this loss of purpose and American division about which you speak, we ask you this: did you only become politically aware during the Bush presidency? Do you truly believe this nation was united until GWB was elected President? Do you really think the world loved us until he was elected President (subquestion: do you seriously care what the world thinks of us?)? (maybe we should have said until we went to war in Iraq)

(Segue into addressing the entire readership)

People who think that things are horrible now, that the US sucks right now, that world opinion of the US is at an all-time low, etc., etc., do not have a sufficient knowledge of American history. They forget or never knew how bad things were during WWI, the Great Depression, WWII (it wasn't always as popular as it is now), the 1960's (1968 in particular), Vietnam, the stagflation of the 1970's, Nixon, Carter, the Cold War.... we could go on.

In our opinion, these people are engaging in too much national narcissism and navel gazing.

If you think America has reached rock bottom, wake up and familiarize yourself with American history. Or, we don't know, maybe compare our history to pretty much any other country in the world. The point is, you need a little (just a little) perspective.

On balance, things have never been better than they are right now. We have our warts, But more countries are freer, more countries abide by the rule of law, more people live longer, more people are healthier, more people have more money, more people are educated--than at any time in the history of the world. Sure, bad things still happen. Duh. But don't buy into the doom-and-gloom of, well, anyone.

If you start from that premise, you will vote for a candidate who, we fear, does little more than inspire and persuade--one whose idealism (like yours) will get knocked in the head by reality. Republicans have never "been in love" with our candidates (including Reagan, well, at least not until he was dead) the way liberal progressives are. Maybe it's because we're not as idealistic and more realistic than Democrats. We don't know.

We focus more on their experience, the substance of their principles, and their voting record, because these things are tangible. We can look and see how candidate X voted and examine his record. We can analyze candidate Y's policy proposals and see how they match our priorities. We can review candidate Z's management of a state or other entity and see whether or not he was successful. All of this we do because we care less about their personality, less about their eloquence, less about their charisma than Democrats seem to. This is why insults about Bush's poor communication skills never bothered us. We don't take insults to our favored candidates personally. Democrats poked fun because it bothers them if their candidates can't speak well. Congrats, Democrats. In Barack Obama, you've got your good speakin' man.

And yes, we know a President won't be able to follow through on all his campaign promises and proposals. And we know that many of the things he says are only meant to curry favor with this or that special interest group. We don't care. Seriously, we could not care less. We know this is the game he has to play to get elected. Part of it (in the case of McCain/Feingold) is our candidates own fault. But by looking at what he has done and comparing that to what he says, we make the best guess we possibly can about the candidate's core principles. Hopefully they match ours.

At least, this way we don't get bitter and jaded when they don't live up to our unrealistic expectations.

We repeat: nostalgic notions of how America was supposed to have been are inaccurate. And no candidate, however inspiring, will ever unify and make a utopia out of America.


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11 February 2008

Premature IED

From the, "you can't make this stuff up" file, a Mullah, prepping a bomb (presumably for coalition forces) blew up himself and his sons:
A LANDMINE blew up in the home of a religious cleric in southern Afghanistan, killing the mullah, two of his sons and two other men who had been preparing an attack, police said today.
Ace of Spades notes:
Coalition forces have reported "a significant uptick in dramatic irony" in the Helmand province lately, and called this latest incident "as worrisome as it is hilarious."
Apparently our efforts to infiltrate terrorist training centers in Afghanistan/Pakistan and teach "how (not) to build a bitchin' IED" are finally bearing fruit. Here's to hoping for a few more premature IED's.


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Interview With Brian Jones, Former RNC Director Of Communications - Part 1

Last week we conducted an interview with Brian Jones, Managing Director at Mercury Public Affairs. Thanks to Mr. Jones for taking time out of his busy work day to speak with us.

We'd originally planned on distilling the interview into a single post but with the large amount of good material, we decided to post the transcript in its entirety (divided in 3 because we know at least half of our readers are ADD/ADHD). This is part 1.

Thanks also to Liz Mair, Online Communications Director at the RNC for making all the arrangements.

***

OL&L: First off, would you mind giving a quick bio?

Brian Jones: Sure. I’m currently a managing director at Mercury Public Affairs where I deal with a number of corporate clients, some political clients. I was previously communications director for the John McCain for President Campaign earlier last year till some challenges arose. I was communications director at the Republican National Committee during the 2006 cycle. I was a senior communication advisor to the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. Before that I worked for Mercury Public Affairs as their Vice President of Polling and Advertising. I ran the research operation at the NRCC during the 2002 cycle and worked on host of local, state, and national political campaigns and some public relations work along the way.

OL&L: Where did you receive your academic training?

Brian Jones: I was an undergrad at the University of Massachusetts which isn’t necessarily known for producing for Republicans. I did graduate work and got a Master’s degree at the University of Washington.

OL&L: The first thing we wanted to ask you about is something we’ve discussed amongst my politically minded friends. We’ve been trying to understand the appeal of the Democratic candidates. We contrast this, of course, with those of us who are Republican voters. We get into the nitty gritty of their politics, policies, their background and experience. But when we ask our liberal friends to describe to us why they’re voting for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, they have a real tough time. Could you provide some insight into the appeal of either of them or maybe into how voters are able to distinguish the one from the other?

Brian Jones: Good question. They’ve been attacking each other non-stop for the last month plus. But they’re not that different. Their proposals would result in higher taxes, larger government and weakened national security. One of the things that’s interesting about Hillary is that she is saying there will be no new bureaucracy with her health care plan. That’s a little like saying, I’ve got news for you: the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus really do exist. It’s just not true.

I think the appeal is a couple of things: one is, Democrats are obviously motivated by seven years of a Republican in the White House. They’ve got this baseline of motivation right now that the party out of power often ends up feeling. I do think people underestimate the Republican turnout effort—what you’re going to end up seeing in 2008. Democrats were motivated in 2004. Ultimately Republicans turned out in better numbers than did the Democrats.

There does seem to be this kind of split among Democrats. There are two different camps right now. Obviously Obama is the more transformational/change type candidate. People are flocking to him because of the aura around him. He is still someone who has voted Democrat 95% of the time. He’s got the most liberal ranking in the National Journal which is quite a feat, because the Senate also has Bernie Sanders who is a self-described Socialist from Vermont. I think what you’re seeing now is people project onto Obama this desire for change. He is a strong order, he comes across as very likeable. So I think it’s kind of an image thing with Obama as much as anything else, because the substance and the background isn’t really there.

Then you have the status quo branch of the Democratic Party going with Hillary Clinton. They’re going more with the known quantity, maybe someone who’s not as interesting or inspiring, but someone who you think you know what you’re going to get with her. Being potentially the first woman President has some appeal too.

What I think is interesting is that Clinton has done a good job of courting more blue collar voters. I’m not sure how that will all flesh out or exactly what it means, but it does seem that she may offer a bit more substance than Barack. But with both of them, it does seem that they are more image candidates than substantive candidates.


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Rep. Tom Lantos, RIP

This morning we were saddened to learn from Drudge that Human Rights champion Tom Lantos had passed away.

We didn't know Congressman Lantos well, and we didn't agree with many of his political positions, but we certainly admired his leadership on human rights issues. He was one of the few in his party, indeed, all of Congress, to decry human rights abuses in North Korea, the Middle East, Cuba, China--around the world.

Our interest in history and Holocaust history in particular made us admire his personal story as a Holocaust survivor. He was one of the many saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

He was a staunch defender of Israel--a position we share. He was also one of the few who was consistently critical of Saddam Hussein and did not, once he was out of power and executed, forget Saddam's atrocities.

A friend of ours interned with Congressman Lantos and knew him to be honorable and principled. When we were involved with the Sutdent Campaign for Child Survival, we attended a conference at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Congressman Lantos was the featured speaker to a relatively small, intimate group of student activists. We asked him questions during the Q&A and briefly spoke with him afterward. We found him to be kind and gracious and patient in answering our questions. We found the following excerpt from a report on the first SCCS conference:
Our very first speaker, Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), updated us on child survival and the Millennium Challenge Account. He then gave us tips on how we could be more effective and pledged his own supporting leadership for Child Survival.
He followed through on his pledge. We're sorry to see him go and send our deepest condolences to his family and all who knew him. Representative Tom Lantos, RIP.


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10 February 2008

We Aren't Just Self-Promoters...

...we're friend-promoters, too.

Our friend, Michael J. Mouncer, who blogs for Gooses Ganders (a Friend of Lybberty), recently produced a music video for the Blakes. The song is "Don't Bother Me" and it will be appear on MTV2's Subterranean late tonight.

Congrats to MJ. And to the rest of you: watch it.


*UPDATE 8:20pm MST: For the Marxist in the family, cruise on over to The People's Cube and take their Fun With Quotes: Interactive Collective Quiz.


**UPDATE 11 February 2008 1:01am MST: We just checked and the 27 comments registered under last week's post about Romney dropping out of the Republican primary broke the previous OL&L comment record of 26. Way to go, everybody! Keep up the good work and let's see if we can push that record to 28, or something.

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09 February 2008

It's A Beautiful Saturday Afternoon...

....and we hope you're not indoors like we've been, but outside enjoying some sort of athletic activity.

So, with spring in the air, we're thinking about baseball, and fantasy baseball. Email us if you're interested in joining our official, OL&L Fantasy Baseball League. Who knows, Morgan, maybe you'd find you liked baseball?

***

They linked to us, we'll link to them:

BYU Weekly (see "Faces of BYU")

***

We just finished transcribing our interview with Brian Jones of Mercury Public Affairs, formerly John McCains Director of Communications, RNC Director of Communications, and lots of other really cool stuff. Our Bush-hating readers will be glad to know he helped the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004.

Anyway, we got it typed up and are figuring out how to put it on the web. Stay tuned.

***

Thanks to everyone for their comments and the healthy discussion that has resulted here at OL&L. Don't burn all your good thoughts on one post--we need y'all for the long haul. So, post early, post often--even if it's just to say, "Jake, you're an idiot."

***

Regarding Spikers' point about the President's influence over social issues: agreed that he/she has very little personal influence over those issues. However, he or she will choose at least one Supreme Court Justice. It is highly likely that this new Justice will, along with the rest of the Supreme Court, rule on cases related to abortion, gay marriage, and less likely, stem cell research.

Furthermore, this new Justice will be either be constructionist in their judicial philosophy or activist. For these reasons, we want a Republican President committed to picking a judge like Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito.

The thought of having another David Souter makes us want to throw up.


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08 February 2008

Charles Barkley, Great American

Charles Barkley is the only reason we watch basketball on TNT. He is smart and funny. And now, it appears we have something in common with Sir Charles: neither of us like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton (click here & here for examples).

From the NY Post Page 6, this fantastic quote from Charles Barkley
, future Governor of Alabama regarding Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton:
I don't believe in them. They always play the race card, and you can't always play the race card, sometimes the race card is needed but not in every situation. We have to hold blacks more accountable for their actions.
We have disliked the influence held by "black leaders" Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton. So we appreciate anyone who has the guts to stand up to them and their cronies. Props to Charles Barkley and good luck in his future race for the governorship.

Now, watch for the thought police of the left to demonize Barkley, just like they demonized Bill Cosby, Thomas Sowell, and Clarence Thomas before him.


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OL&L On BYUTV's BYU Weekly

Thanks to our friend EJB (and LC), we will appear in this week's edition of BYU Weekly.

(We suppose this will settle, once and for all, the debate about our multiple personality which manifests itself in the use of the editorial or royal first personal plural.)

In it, we talked about our inclusion in the America's Future Foundation College Blogger Contest 2008 and our experience at grad school in London. BYU Weekly was interested in how BYU is being represented here and around the world.

You can watch BYU Weekly at 4:30pm MST on Dish channel 9403 and DirectTV channel 374. Additional broadcast times can be found here (scroll down, in "additional resources, BYU Television). If you don't have DirectTV or Dish, click here to find out about BYU TV availability in your area.

Thank you for your continued support.


*UPDATE 8:12pm MST: We've got conflicting reports about the airtime of this show. The Dish listing and the internet say 4:30pm MST, but our friend EJB and her producer Ben say 4pm MST. To be safe, set your Tivo to record the entire hour. According to our email from him, it will also run at the following times:

February 09 at 4 PM on BYU-TV
February 10 at 9 AM on BYU-TV
February 10 at 2:30 PM on KBYU-TV
February 11 at 5 PM on BYU -TV
February 12 at 6 PM on BYU -TV
February 12 at 9 PM on BYU -TV
February 13 at 11 AM on BYU -TV


**UPDATE 9 February 2008, 2:49pm MST: It's definitely airing at 4:30pm today.


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07 February 2008

Mitt Romney Bows Out

Just watched Mitt Romney's speech to CPAC where he announced that he will drop out of the race. Click here for the transcript.

They're reporting on Fox News that Romney initially decided to continue the race, but as he worked on his CPAC speech, it occurred to him that to fight on would hurt the conservative and Republican cause and more importantly, it would hurt America.

As our father said, "what else would you expect from Romney. He's the man we thought he was."

And so he is.

You can question whether or not his current positions are genuine--we don't, not anymore--but you can't doubt his love of country.

Mark Halperin at time.com has a list of 10 suggestions of things Romney could have done differently to perhaps win the nomination.

We've laid out very plainly our problems with McCain--primarily here and here. We hope he seizes the opportunity to appeal to conservatives and assure them he will fight for the things that are important to them.

If he continues to appear dismissive or disdainful of the Reagan coalition, in favor of his independent, liberal, and media friends, he will not have a snowballs' chance of beating Hillary or Barack. His contemptuous and condescending attitude towards conservatives won't win him many votes.

We will vote for the Republican candidate for President, because as Mitt Romney said in his speech, "we cannot allow the next President of the United States to retreat in the face of evil extremism."

*UPDATE 12:18pm MST: Romney to try again in 2012.


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06 February 2008

Spencer Hadley Commits to the Cougars - Huzzah For Connell, Washington!

We haven't written about sports in a long time (about a year ago, in fact, when QB Jason Munns, from our Alma Mater, Southridge High School, signed with BYU). But we can't miss the opportunity to write about a fellow Eastern Washingtonian joining the BYU Football Team.

Yup, his name is Spencer Hadley and he played LB, WR, RB, and KR for his high school football team--the Connell Eagles. Apparently he was also their best basketball player.

Our favorite detail from his recruit bio, though, is this
:
"raised on a dairy farm and lists working cattle as a special skill"
How awesome is that? Welcome to BYU, Spencer. We hope you enjoy your stay. And win lots of football games.


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McCain/Huckabee vs. Romney

Whence the animus, John and Mike?

Last night we received a thoughtful email from longtime reader, Matt Perkins. In it, he asked, "why is [there] so much bitterness and rancor aimed at Romney from the McCain & Huckabee camps?" It's a good question. And we're not sure we know the answer.

This morning, we watched Huckabee supporter, big smile sporter, and all around conservative bad-A, Chuck Norris on one of the network talk shows. Asked about his man Mike Huckabee and the results of Super Tuesday, Norris said that if Huckabee had $40M of his own money to spend, he would be the Republican frontrunner.

So is plain old class warfare and jealousy of Romney's personal wealth prompting the rancor between the Huckabee and Romney camps? Maybe.

Huckabee is the one who famously referred to Romney as the "guy who fired them (average joe)." This kind of rhetoric mirrors the talking points of the left. But what do we draw from this? Maybe Huckabee really is the populist and less the conservative that Romney's ads have indicated.

Romney's largesse has permitted him to produce and run ads which criticize both John McCain and Mike Huckabee. We've watched these ads. Sure, they're hard hitting. But they don't seem dishonest. They certainly haven't been personal--certainly not personal in the way that Huckabee's use of Romney's Mormonism was personal.

Unlike Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, Mitt Romney didn't have national name recognition. Unlike Mike Huckabee, Romney didn't have a ready-made group of Evangelical voters. Mormons don't have nearly the numbers. At least, not outside of Utah. What Romney did have was money. And he did what unknown candidates have always done--run ads attacking the other candidates.

We don't mind attack ads. We relish them, in fact, and wrote as much a few weeks ago. But some voters (pansies) and other candidates (wimps) don't like them. We suspect that these ads and Romney's money combined to create the animus that seems to exist between McCain/Huckabee and Romney.

Huckabee's recent combination with McCain can be explained by self interest. He knows he has zero chance of being the Republican nominee, but if he helps McCain knock off Romney, he could very well end up as McCain's running mate.


--->Programming notes:
  • This Saturday at 4:30pm MST on Dish Channel 9403 & DirectTV Channel 374 (click here for additional programming availability in your area) our profile will run on the program "BYU Weekly." Tell your friends.

  • We recently concluded an interview with former RNC Communications Director and current GOP consultant, Brian Jones. Thanks to Mr. Jones for being so gracious. Stay tuned for a post with all the good stuff.

If you have tips, questions, comments, suggestions, or requests for subscription only articles, email us at lybberty@gmail.com.

05 February 2008

Neverending Super Tuesday

Like yesterday's post about John McCain, we've got a number of disjointed thoughts about Super Tuesday and the race in general. We couldn't fit it all into one, coherent post, and we wanted to be able to update it throughout the day, so we're going to semi-regularly update this post for the rest of the night. Check back often.

(scroll down for updates)

- On the way back from Alta, we listened to the Sean Hannity show. Sean, as many of you know, has become an ardent Romney supporter. He couldn't stop talking about the smoke-filled, back room deal between Mike Huckabee and John McCain in West Virginia. Of course what they did was legal and a part of both parties' political history, but that doesn't mean that anyone has to like it.

- John McCain consistently misrepresents Mitt Romney's position. Before Florida he tried to convince voters Romney would set a withdrawal date for troops in Iraq. Either he was being disingenuous or he is too stupid to understand a simple sentence. Since we think Senator McCain is a smart man, we vote for the former.

McCain is at it again.

Supposedly by comparing John McCain's candidacy to Bob Dole's--the fact that Dole was also viewed as next-in-line and eventually lost--Mitt Romney is supposed to have disparaged Dole's military hero status and his service to America. We listened to Romney's comments and our considered response is: yeah, right.

Talk about a wilful suspension of basic listening skills. There was nothing that could have been construed as a criticism of Dole's military service. Zilch.

There is plenty of room for McCain to criticize Romney about his record. He doesn't need to be deceitful. In our eyes, this man of principle loses a bit of his luster.


*Update 6:29pm MST: Looks like Arizona is tighter than McCain would like. Jim Geraghty (see the link) reports that anti-amnesty folks and Mormons are coming out in support of Romney. If Evangelicals, African-Americans, and women can play identity politics, why can't Mormons?


**Update 10:25pm MST: We said our piece at the Provo City Council meeting. Property rights, liberty and the unintended consequences and costs of regulation--we think we may have been a little too theoretical. 3 members of the council responded to our comments. Their responses ranged from mildly interested, to lecturing, to completely dismissive.

Afterwards we commented for a story to appear in tomorrow's edition of the Salt Lake Tribune. We also appeared on camera for BYU's noon o'clock news show. Be sure to tune in.

Yes, we are a media whore.


***Update 11:12pm MST: How 'bout that Mike Huckabee?


****Update 11:29pm MST: Jane Fleming Kleeb of the Young Voter PAC and some gimmicky MTV get-out-the-vote thing is the single most irritating/annoying/shrill liberal commentator on television.

Yes, Jane, the surge is working.


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BYU/Provo Parking Addendum

Last Friday we let loose with a post about the Provo parking debacle. Debacle. Seems to be everyone's fav word to describe the situation. We explained how we thought the parking thing fit into a greater debate about property rights--not only in the city of Provo, but nationwide.

In conversation with a number of different friends, we found that maybe we didn't make it as clear as we thought we did or should.

For a number of years, the Provo City Council has done whatever it could to limit occupancy in new construction--a clear violation of property rights. It--they, whatever--has tried to do the same thing with existing structures bylimiting, for example, the number of students who could live in a given house. Unfortunately for them, these houses were constructed before the enactment of these new rules and by and large they have been able to avoid the Provo City Council's tyrannical, property-right violatin' ways.

But finally, they hit upon a solution. In parking they trust. By limiting the number of "street parking permits" for each house, etc., they could essentially limit the number of occupants. If a given house only had 3 parking spots, how could they reasonably expect to rent to 4, 5, or even 6 students? They couldn't. And the Provo City Council is aware of this.

So who loses? Students, any new owner/renter, and owners of properties that currently rent to students. By limiting the number of parking spots and thus, students per habitation, they in effect limit the sources of income for the owner. Rather than renting 1 house X 6 rooms to 6 students at $200 per = $1200 per month, the property owner has to generate $1200 from 3 student-renters. But this probably wont happen either, because the market wont bear a 2x increase in the cost of rent. The students will go elsewhere. Or the owner will buck the law.

It doesn't help that BYU has limited student housing to a 2 mile radius around campus. This makes it more difficult for students to avoid the ridiculous, property rights violating, rent price escalating, car parking limiting ways of the Provo City Council. It's as though the two groups got together to come up with the best way to raise the cost of living for students.

Mind you, the neighborhoods they are trying to protect/maintain the ambience, etc., are overwhelmingly dominated by the student population. The student to regular-joe-citizen rate exceeds 10-to-1. And it's not as though parking problems just cropped up in the last couple years or so, screaming for the legislative attention of the all powerful Provo City Council. Nor are these issues any different to the problems faced in any other college town across the country. What is different is the complete disregard for the student population shown by the Provo City Council. They absolutely could not care less.


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04 February 2008

John McCain on Super Tuesday

Had a few thoughts about John McCain we wanted to get down before the start of Super Tuesday. In no specific order....

- We disagree with those who say that John McCain is too old to be President. We value the wisdom and experience that comes with age. Also, McCain seems to be in good health, so dying in office does not seem to be a legitimate threat. We're much more worried by the youth and inexperience of Barack Obama than the age, wisdom and experience of John McCain. Don't vote for Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul because John McCain is too old; vote for someone else because you disagree with his politics.

- Speaking of his politics, the thing that bothers us most about John McCain is his reputation for compromise. When Republicans were in power, he "crossed the aisle" to co-author McCain-Feingold--one of the worst, 1st Amendment limiting pieces of legislation in history. He voted against tax cuts. He voted against drilling in ANWR. He did all of these things when its conceivable his leadership could have taken the country in a more conservative direction.

What will he do with his party in the minority? If John McCain, "maverick" (Top Gun?) was willing to "compromise" with his party in the majority, what will he do as President when Democrats are running Congress? We think it will start with comprehensive immigration reform, but where will it end? Universal health care?

If Dems control Congress, we need a President who is poised to use his veto pen and hold the Conservative line. We don't need John McCain crossing the the aisle, again.

- On the war, John McCain is solid and has proven his principled leadership--even when it was very unpopular--and we've given him credit for his stand. We were especially impressed with a speech he gave on 11 April 2007 to the graduating class at VMI. Click here to read the text and here to view a short video clip. We admire John McCain for this. But this is only one of our oft-stated, highest order priorities (War on Terror, Courts, Taxes).

- Until recently, we were confident McCain would nominate a good, conservative Justice to the Supreme Court. But then, there was this column from the Wall Street Journal's John Fund: Winging It. In it, McCain expresses misgivings about Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito whom we have named, along with John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as being a model Supreme Court Justice. Would McCain compromise with Dems on a Supreme Court nominee? For us, this would be completely unacceptable.

- On taxes, John McCain is not solid. Not solid? He's not even mushy. He opposed the Bush tax cuts and opposed eliminating the death tax. Attempting to re-write history, McCain said his opposition was based on fiscal responsibility--he wanted to cut spending, not taxes. Or at least, he wanted to cut spending equal to the cut in taxes. But we're not so new to the game that we don't remember McCain's rhetoric of the day: he employed the same class-warfare rhetoric the Democrats trot out, not only against the Bush tax cuts, but ad nauseam.

Hey, John, if you really wanted to cut government spending, wouldn't it be best to cut government funding? Just a thought.

- Props to McCain for his free-trading ways.

We had to end with something positive, right?


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01 February 2008

Provo City Council vs. BYU Students - The Parking Kerfuffle

Lots of news and events this week for our BYU readership.

Our friends organizing the "resistance" to the Provo City Council's ignorant parking program sent us the following email. Read it and attend the upcoming meeting to register your distaste for their new plan.
Most of the city council is now ready to vote to implement the new parking program south of campus (University Ave to 900 E and Campus to Center St). It is important that as many people come as can to voice their opinions. Please read the information found at http://parking.provo.org so you have an idea what is going on.

There are required to hold a public hearing and to allow the community to speak. Please come and speak. Please come prepared. I will have voter registration books on hand for those ready to register to vote in Provo. YOUR VOTE MATTERS.

If they pass this law, I will get a referendum set up for people to sign to put it on the ballot in November. Only locally registered voters signatures are counted. Provo City is pushing us around and trying to run out the little guys. Help us stop them. My landlord is already selling his house because of all the legislation the council has passed that is asinine. They don't want families to stay they want developers. They want to regulate student life so that we don't interfere with their lives.

Please come and support those that will speak out even if you don't want to say anything.
Provo City Council has consistently acted without regard to the student population. We understand why they do it--students aren't registered as voters in Provo so they have nothing to fear when they cross them.

But this parking proposal--regulating parking in areas dominated by students--goes way beyond anything they have done before. The areas they propose to regulate have more students than permanent residents by more than 10-1. They propose to punish, really, a huge student population--several thousand--for the benefit of a few hundred residents.

This follows their recent theme of limiting the student population in the name of protecting permanent resident property rights. This blog consistently argues in favor of protecting property rights. Provo City Council's proposals are not that--they are not simply protecting property rights. They are abusive and dictatorial and violate the property rights of non-resident owners who want to rent their properties to students.

The result? Housing/rent costs for students and other non-permanent residents far above what they should be. The Provo City Council is doing what Thomas Sowell has criticized Bay Area residents for doing for years--making property decisions that punish new and poor residents by causing property prices to rise. These people wont buy the property themselves, so they pass legislation to limit the property rights of those who do want to buy it.

From "Property Rites" by Thomas Sowell:
Many restrictive land use laws in effect turn a chance that someone paid for into a guarantee that they did not pay for, such as a guarantee that a given community would retain its existing character.

In the normal course of events, things change. Land that is not nearly as valuable as farmland as it would be for housing would be sold to people who would build housing. But restrictive laws prevent this from happening.

Such laws help preserve the existing character of the community, at the expense of farmers and others who would gladly sell their land to builders if they had a chance to do so. Because they can't, their value of their land is reduced drastically.

The biggest losers are those families who are deprived of housing and those families who are deprived of the standard of living they could have if they did not have to pay for sky-high rents or home prices due to an artificial scarcity of housing.

The biggest winners are existing homeowners, who see the value of their property go up by leaps and bounds. Also benefitting are environmentalist groups who are able to buy up farmland at a fraction of its value because there are so few alternatives for the farmers.
When long-time Provo residents purchased their property, they didn't purchase a guarantee that any future building would be limited to certain area or certain types of residents (read: not students). They only purchased the right to their own property. Their continued insistence to limit the rights of anyone who came after them through the legislative authority of the Provo City Council is abusive and ignorant of property rights.

Provo City residents have a pretty sweet deal with students. They receive sales tax and rent tax far above what they would otherwise plus all the tax benefits of BYU itself to say nothing of the jobs provided by the presence of BYU or the students. Unlike many other college towns, they don't have to deal with the usual negative aspects of having a large student population--rowdy drinking and riots. Instead, BYU students provide a cheap, educated workforce and literally hundreds of thousands of hours of community service.

In return, Provo residents through the Provo City Council reward BYU students with greater and greater restrictions on how and where they can live (BYU hasn't helped out much there) and how and where they can park. And their reach extends even to areas overwhelmingly dominated by students. We cannot come up with enough adjectives to describe our outrage and many of the ones we'd like to use are not appropriate for this family-friendly blog.

One last appeal: go to the Provo City Council meeting and register your disgust with the council members. Do not be apathetic or lazy and leave the fight to others. Take the fight to them yourself.


Time and Place

Date: Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Time: 7-9:00pm
Location: City Office Building
Street: 351 W Center St.
City: Provo, UT


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