31 May 2008

A Devil Gets His Pitchfork

We're always sad to see a fellow believer lose the faith. For that reason, we took Obama's resignation from Trinity United pretty hard. But when a supposedly faith-full decision is made for purely political reasons, what can you expect?

All of this raises a larger point that we have pointed out numerous times--mainly that Barack Obama, despite his unified rhetoric, is just like every other politician.

But that doesn't quite do it justice. Beyond choosing his church out of political expedience--Trinity United is a hugely influential church on Chicago's south side--Obama has demonstrated over and over again that the most important consideration in any decision is the political one.

Before anyone gets all in a tizzy over that last point, can anyone cite one example of a bipartisan or post-partisan stand that was politically unpopular? Anyone?

You can't because he hasn't.

Obama isn't post-partisan (whatever that means) post-race or even bipartisan. His voting record in Congress is more liberal than Hillary Clinton's.

John McCain is by far the most moderate candidate in this presidential race. Obama's prop-machine is doing it's darndest to paint him as Bush's 3rd term, a la Bush Senior, but they are so far unable because this country recognizes that McCain's maverick label is a deserved one.

Whatever we true conservatives may think about McCain's campaign finance reform and position on immigration, the independents and moderate Democrats in this country recognize that John McCain is more centrist than either of the two Democratic candidates. This is why he polls so well among those voters. It's why more states are up for grabs this November than might have been in 2004.

One point about McCain and Iraq, before we close. Before "the surge" became The Surge (!), John McCain advocated for a drastic increase in troops on the ground. Heck, he was critical of Rumsfeld's limited footprint policy from day one.

Savvy observers of the Iraq war recognize that McCain was right and that his staunch defense of our presence there and in Afghanistan, while clearly not a politically popular one (contrast again with Obama), has been emphatically affirmed.

The political gains Bush and McCain and others said would come in the wake of the security gains are happening every day. Things are drastically improved. And with that improvement, a lot of the wind has been taken out of the sails of the anti-war left.

The decision between McCain and Obama becomes clearer and clearer with each passing day: want a President willing to make tough decisions that buck partisan politics and, when necessary, popular opinion? The choice is clear: vote for John McCain.

One thing is certain. You cannot say you embrace moderate politics and choose Barack Obama over John McCain.

So, Obama & change you can believe in?

With John McCain you don't have to believe, you can know just by looking at his long record as a reformer.


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30 May 2008

In Other News

According to the New York Post, Susan Sarandon threatened to move to Canada or Italy if John McCain wins this November. You know, because she's so patriotic.

To Sue, we would ask: do you promise?

Before and after the 2004 Presidential election many prominent leftists swore they'd flee to Canada in the event the haughty, French-looking Senator from Massachusetts (who bytheway served in Vietnam) lost. Inexplicably (and much to our dismay) they remain in the good ol' U.S. of A. Any bets on whether or not Ms. Sarandon makes good on her threat?

All of this to say, simply, that when John McCain wins in November, we think Sue will stay in the States.

(And Italians and Canadians will let out a collective sigh of relief)


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29 May 2008

On Memoirs & Memoir Writing (re: Scott McClellan)

When writing your memoirs, be sure to keep in mind your two primary goals:

1. And by far the most important--to sell books. (duh)

[check]

2. Exculpate yourself. (also, duh)

[check & check]

Memoirs are supposed to be self-serving, so make sure yours serves you. The bigger the firestorm and more outrageous the allegations, the higher your sales will be. Cha ching, baby. Also, and this is important: take potshots at unpopular figures. It doesn't matter if what you write is true; the only thing that matters is that it confirm what people already believe.

What are you waiting for? Start writing.

Armed with these tips, you're well on your way to climbing the bestseller list, winning new friends (alienating all your old ones), making piles of cash and losing all credibility. (or was that gaining credibility?).


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28 May 2008

Religious Generosity

This is a bit of a follow-up to our note about social conservative philanthropic attitudes toward lesser developed countries. The Journal Editorial Report brought the Hudson Institute's Index of Global Philanthropy to our attention. Among other things, this report showed that private organizations sent more than $35 billion to other nations with $8.8 billion coming from U.S. religious charity.

This report highlights a key difference between the liberal and conservative approach to charity, philanthropy and aid. Conservatives are often criticized for their skepticism of large government programs which will supposedly help the poor domestically or internationally.

It's not that conservatives don't have the bleeding hearts of their liberal friends, it's that we don't see appropriating someone else's money and creating vast government programs to spend it, while patting ourselves on the back, to be all that grand of an idea.

It's easy spending someone else's money--the "rich," for example--try spending a little of your own.

Government programs like the ones Clinton & Obama champion are simply liberal guilt for not giving, expressed in yet another bloated bureaucracy. These bloated bureaucracies serve only to create more job opportunities for self-righteous young progressives who shun the selfish and greedy business world. You know this world--the one that creates all the wealth and prosperity that allows them to fund their quest for a liberal, multi-cultural, hand-holding utopia.

Next time someone tries to peddle the canard that liberals are the only ones who care about the poor and suffering and that conservatives just want to get "theirs," well, remember that it is conservatives who actually give theirs while liberals want to spend yours.


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26 May 2008

Memorial Day 2008


As citizens of the freest, greatest country in history, we express our gratitude for those who throughout our history, have paid the last full measure so that we, collectively, could enjoy the fruits of liberty.

Thank you also to the many men and women--among them, some of our friends--who even now defend the freedoms we hold so dear. May we never take our liberty, or those who defend it, for granted.

*UPDATE 2:53pm MST: Congressman Sam Johnson, Air Force vet, on what you can do to support the troops this Memorial Day.

**UPDATE 5:27pm MST: In today's New York Times, ignore the main op-ed and read Bill Kristol's piece about remembering Memorial Day.


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23 May 2008

NewsBusted #2

From our friends at NewsBusters.org, today's edition of NewsBusted:


video


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22 May 2008

What More Can We Say About Joe Lieberman?

Longtime readers know we are a big fan of Sen. Lieberman. He has taken strong, principled, and controversial stands on Iraq and other foreign policy issues. It was his position on Iraq that led to a Democratic primary loss to lightweight Ned Lamont (we had to look up his name in wikipedia.org). But that same position led to a general election win.

We have written about Lieberman numerous times:

Saving Lieberman
Lieberman: Making Us Proud
Can't Get Enough Lieberman
Joe Lieberman Is A Terrific American
The Choice On Iraq
Independent Joe Liberman: Still Awesome

In a speech given at a dinner hosted by Commentary magazine, he called his (former) party on the carpet. Democrats, pay attention. One particular excerpt (h/t: WSJ) bears reproducing here, as a summary simply will not do.

***

Democrats and Our Enemies
By Joseph Lieberman

How did the Democratic Party get here? How did the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy drift so far from the foreign policy and national security principles and policies that were at the core of its identity and its purpose?

Beginning in the 1940s, the Democratic Party was forced to confront two of the most dangerous enemies our nation has ever faced: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In response, Democrats under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy forged and conducted a foreign policy that was principled, internationalist, strong and successful.

This was the Democratic Party that I grew up in – a party that was unhesitatingly and proudly pro-American, a party that was unafraid to make moral judgments about the world beyond our borders. It was a party that understood that either the American people stood united with free nations and freedom fighters against the forces of totalitarianism, or that we would fall divided.

This was the Democratic Party of Harry Truman, who pledged that "it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."

And this was the Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy, who promised in his inaugural address that the United States would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of freedom."

This worldview began to come apart in the late 1960s, around the war in Vietnam. In its place, a very different view of the world took root in the Democratic Party. Rather than seeing the Cold War as an ideological contest between the free nations of the West and the repressive regimes of the communist world, this rival political philosophy saw America as the aggressor – a morally bankrupt, imperialist power whose militarism and "inordinate fear of communism" represented the real threat to world peace.

It argued that the Soviets and their allies were our enemies not because they were inspired by a totalitarian ideology fundamentally hostile to our way of life, or because they nursed ambitions of global conquest. Rather, the Soviets were our enemy because we had provoked them, because we threatened them, and because we failed to sit down and accord them the respect they deserved. In other words, the Cold War was mostly America's fault.

Of course that leftward lurch by the Democrats did not go unchallenged. Democratic Cold Warriors like Scoop Jackson fought against the tide. But despite their principled efforts, the Democratic Party through the 1970s and 1980s became prisoner to a foreign policy philosophy that was, in most respects, the antithesis of what Democrats had stood for under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy.

Then, beginning in the 1980s, a new effort began on the part of some of us in the Democratic Party to reverse these developments, and reclaim our party's lost tradition of principle and strength in the world. Our band of so-called New Democrats was successful sooner than we imagined possible when, in 1992, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were elected. In the Balkans, for example, as President Clinton and his advisers slowly but surely came to recognize that American intervention, and only American intervention, could stop Slobodan Milosevic and his campaign of ethnic slaughter, Democratic attitudes about the use of military force in pursuit of our values and our security began to change.

This happy development continued into the 2000 campaign, when the Democratic candidate – Vice President Gore – championed a freedom-focused foreign policy, confident of America's moral responsibilities in the world, and unafraid to use our military power. He pledged to increase the defense budget by $50 billion more than his Republican opponent – and, to the dismay of the Democratic left, made sure that the party's platform endorsed a national missile defense.

By contrast, in 2000, Gov. George W. Bush promised a "humble foreign policy" and criticized our peacekeeping operations in the Balkans.

Today, less than a decade later, the parties have completely switched positions. The reversal began, like so much else in our time, on September 11, 2001. The attack on America by Islamist terrorists shook President Bush from the foreign policy course he was on. He saw September 11 for what it was: a direct ideological and military attack on us and our way of life. If the Democratic Party had stayed where it was in 2000, America could have confronted the terrorists with unity and strength in the years after 9/11.

Instead a debate soon began within the Democratic Party about how to respond to Mr. Bush. I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework the president had advanced for the war on terror as our own, because it was our own. But that was not the choice most Democratic leaders made. When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.

Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.

In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it.

John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America's friends and America's enemies.

There are of course times when it makes sense to engage in tough diplomacy with hostile governments. Yet what Mr. Obama has proposed is not selective engagement, but a blanket policy of meeting personally as president, without preconditions, in his first year in office, with the leaders of the most vicious, anti-American regimes on the planet.

Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot.

If a president ever embraced our worst enemies in this way, he would strengthen them and undermine our most steadfast allies.

A great Democratic secretary of state, Dean Acheson, once warned "no people in history have ever survived, who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies." This is a lesson that today's Democratic Party leaders need to relearn.


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21 May 2008

Links! Links! Links!

Climate Change

- More Bjørn Lomborg. This time, you can read him in his own words in an op-ed he wrote for The Guardian, a British newspaper. Our opinion on Climate Change pretty well matches his--it's reasonable, empirical, and realistic.

- Lomborg Part II - Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online editor, interviewed Lomborg on the intersection of Climate Change and politics. Very interesting read.

Miscellaneous

- Jason L. Riley, member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board and pro-immigrationist, wrote about the problem of multiculturalism. Check out, Keep the Immigrants, Deport the Multiculturalists.

- In probably the best article we've read this year on the conservative outlook, Roger Kimball wrote an article entitled Conservative Gloominess. From that article:
Progressives cannot wrap their minds (or, more to the point, their hearts) around this irony: that “reform” so regularly exacerbates either the evil it was meant to cure or another evil it had hardly glimpsed.
- Looking for responsible energy policy? Larry Kudlow weighed in against cap & trade and tentatively in favor of a carbon tax.

- We wrote about it earlier this week when we quoted Pres. Bush's speech to the Knesset and asked readers to find "Barack Obama" in the speech. No one has succeeded yet. Mark Steyn, as usual, does a better job lampooning Obama and his Democrat apologists for their foreign policy idiocy--an idiocy which is even more indefensible in this instance than usual (no mean feat).

- Re: The appeasers in the Democratic party (and those among the Republicans): This, quote of the day:
Liberals think the way to deal with dangerous tyrants is to send in a sensitive president who will make Ahmadinejad fall in love with him. They imagine Obama becoming Ahmadinejad's psychotherapist, like Barbra Streisand in "The Prince of Tides.
- This next article, written by David Ranson, head of research at H.C. Wainwright & Co. Economics Inc., wrote about tax policy, much-maligned supply-siders, and the state of economic research. (subscription required, email us for a copy)

- Naomi Schaeffer Riley interviewed Roger Hertog about philanthropy and the cause of conservatism in higher education. Very interesting read.

- From the Seattle Times, a newspaper we usually only read for their sports coverage, on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. This is quite the plane requiring a whole new style of production.

- Our fav. economist, Thomas Sowell, gave his recommended summer reading list.

- Finally, Dan Henninger, the other columnist we read without fail each week, on China and Burma and why non-democratic countries suck. It's summed up in the title, Democracies Don't Let People Die, but there's more to it than that. This is push-back against multiculturalists who think all governments, societies, and cultures are equally good, with no one better than the other.

*UPDATE 7:50pm MST: Pendulum Politics

- buruboi on the European demographics. This is a topic that interests us greatly. We'll leave it to buruoi to explain, but European demographics are such that their massive entitlement/welfare state programs are wholly unsustainable. This, combined with unemployment rates that are sometimes double the U.S.'s combine to create a dismal prognosis for Europe's economic future--Western & Northern Europe that is.

Countries in Eastern Europe and Ireland have produced low tax, pro-growth policies similar to the U.S.'s which should help them avoid the future pit and pratfalls of their euro-neighbors.

- RD on Moderation in U.S. politics. We read his post as an economic critique on the policies of the left and right. As in, apply a systematic way to value the priorities of both sides--his examples are the environment & abortion--and then compromise. This seems like wise counsel.

His critique of advocates on the right, so-called pro-lifers, is unfair and unsupported by empirical evidence. He says that the Right cares more about the lives of the unborn than it does people in less-developed countries. The truth is that religious organizations and self-described conservatives donate hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to charities and humanitarian philanthropies organizations around the world every year. Donations in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami are an illustrative example. (see the list of NGO donations).

RD, we agree with your call for moderation, but your critique of the pro-life right's motivations is not accurate.

**UPDATE 22 May 10:31am MST: Ben's assertion regarding a supposed contrast between Reagan, Nixon, (Olmert) responsible diplomacy and Bush's "chest beating" is inaccurately characterized--not least of all because liberals in the '80's used to bash Reagan for being a cowboy (Evil Empire, ramped up military spending, Star Wars, Iran-Contra, etc.).

The meme Ben (and Obama) willfully misread into Bush's comments is that we should never engage in diplomacy. But Bush never said that. This was not the point of Bush's Knesset speech.

It was that Obama's tea-with-Tyrants and Carter's handholding-with-Hamas/Hezbollah is irresponsible and ignorant of reality. Meeting without precondition with tyrants and rogue terrorist states gains American nothing while lending prestige and legitimacy to thugs who kill American soldiers and threaten America and her allies.

When Nixon went to China, it was the result of 134 secret meetings, 18 months "behind-the-scenes" discussions by Henry Kissinger, and another 7 months of diplomatic hard work. (h/t: S. Lybbert)

Similarly, Olmert has not personally met with the Syrians--neither has the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni. We (OL&L) and the U.S. may not like the result or tenor of the talks between the Israelis and the Syrians, but they are low-level meetings (thanks Kurt M.) with preconditions--not direct, POTUS-to-thug meetings w/o preconditions as Obama naively suggested.

Like Ben, we are frustrated with the Bush Administration's failure to stop Iran from killing American soldiers in Iraq and their continued nuclear development. To a lesser extent, we're frustrated with North Korea's continued belligerence.

But these failures do not invalidate Bush's Knesset speech, nor do they mean that the next President should meet with every two-bit terrorist in the world. There are lessons to be learned from Bush's failures, but Obama's is the wrong one.


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20 May 2008

NewsBusted

We have long been a fan of news and political comedy--late night monologues (especially Conan O'Brien), The Colbert Report, Weekend Update, Dennis Miller, etc.--and our internship with OpinionJournal Federation member NewsBusters.org brought their twice-weekly news comedy short to our attention.

Check it out.

video


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19 May 2008

Let's Play: "Where's Obama?"

See if you can find "Barack Obama" in the following quote:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
We didn't think so. The American Senator, besides being alive in 1939 (we believe Obama was born in 1961), was an isolationist Republican from Idaho.

Obama's response is, btw, the definition of narcissism.

But hey, if the shoe fits.


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16 May 2008

We've Got Some News For Senator Obama

Obedwards? Really?

If only Obama and his handlers could be so good to Republicans. Running against an Obama-Edwards ticket would be a dream come true for John McCain.

Is John Edwards supposed to help Senator Obama with blue collar Democrats? Edwards is the guy who spends hundreds of dollars on hair cuts, lives in a multi-million dollar mansion, and made his money as a trial lawyer (admittedly, a strong Democratic constituency).

Obama's ignorance of West Virginia and Kentucky is of a piece with his "bitter" comments in San Francisco. We know how some of our Democratic friends feel about "small-town hicks." They, like their fav. candidate, can barely conceal their contempt for these people and their favorite issues.

As our friend Morgan would say, "we've got a newsflash for you, Walter Cronkite," Obama is going to need these voters to win the election in the fall. Otherwise, he'll be just another Michael Dukakis.

***

Speaking of Republican electoral dreams, liberals seem hell-bent on aligning the stars for Republicans in a year when they need everything to go right to win the White House or even hope to maintain seats (to say nothing of picking up new ones) in Congress. We're talking, of course, about the California Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriage. This, in defiance of 61% of California voters who, in 2000, voted in favor of an initiative defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Word out of California is that gay marriage opponents will have sufficient signatures to put a California State Constitution amendment on the ballot this November defining, once again, marriage as between a man and a woman.

In an uninspiring year for conservative voters, this could be just the thing to get them out to vote. And if they're already there voting on this amendment, it's likely they'll also vote for John McCain (and other conservative Republicans).

(evil genius alert: this ruling is probably one of Karl Rove's sinister plans)


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13 May 2008

Why Karl Rove Is So Awesome

We've been thinking about this one for awhile. If you've been reading for the last couple of months, you no doubt read our posted notes from Rove's visit to our hometown.

Dubbed The Architect, Rove is pretty much either loved or hated--with no middle ground--depending on your political persuasion. But even Democrats grudgingly admit that he is good at what he does, referring to him as an evil genius.

To our mind, there are two things that separate him from other social scientists--specifically political scientists. We have taken lots of classes from lots of different social scientists. We've attended conferences with them and TA'd for them and read articles by them and watched them comment on TV and on and on.

Obviously, there are lots of other smart poly sci guys--lots of other intelligent political consultants. But Karl Rove is arguably the most influential (according to the Telegraph, he's #1) and successful of his breed for two specific reasons: 1. he is an incredibly able communicator/teacher and 2. he is not condescending.

We watch a lot of political coverage on TV and we read countless articles a day--the point is, Rove is by far the best at explaining sometimes complex and nuanced concepts. No one else, really, comes close. And we suspect that he could explain complex things to anyone who took the time to listen to him. This is rare. We have listened to pundits explain things we already understand and thought, "they just made that even more difficult and complex than it already was." We never think that listening to Rove.

The second thing--not being arrogant or condescending--is of equal importance. This seems to be the cardinal sin of academics--especially social scientists and especially political scientists. Their know-it-alledness just bleeds into everything they teach and say and it is incredibly off putting. They may very well have all the answer to the world's problems, but no one is going to listen to them if they present it in an arrogant manner.

This is part of the reason Rove is so persuasive, he comes off as an average guy. And he is anything but average. This is a talent we wish we had: the ability to first understand and then explain for the average or casual observer, complex and nuanced concepts.

*UPDATE 14 May 12:52am MST: Karl Rove on John McCain in the Wall Street Journal. The more we learn about John McCain, the better we like him.

Can anyone say that about Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

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12 May 2008

Would Obama Wear This Lapel Pin?

Image link

The LA Times political blog, Top of the Ticket, has the story.
YouTube video.

Maybe if he were wearing "false patriotism" on his lapel, he could have done a quick count before misspeaking.

Remember when Obama insinuated that McCain was too old because he said that Iran was supporting Sunni insurgents in Iraq? You know, even though intelligence has proven than Iran (ostensibly Shiite) is playing both sides in Iraq.

What are we to conclude about the fact that Obama doesn't know how many states there are?

We aren't going to make any conclusions about Obama's intelligence or judgment or age based on this gaffe. To do so would be ridiculous. But so are Obama's subtle comments referring to McCain's supposed senility.

Give the agism a rest, Obamaniacs. Everyone says stupid things--even your prince of articulateness.


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09 May 2008

Weekend Links

It's not much of a link post--just three articles. But all three are very good.
(edit: 5 articles)
(2nd edit: 6 articles)

- First up, "Why $70 Million Wasn't Enough." This was maybe the most entertaining article we read last year. It's tangible proof of something we've discussed with the guys at Pendulum Politics--specifically, that CEO pay has to compete with the guys in hedge funds and private equity.

- Next, an enlightening article about Bill Cosby and black conservatism. It's good and informative, but reader beware w/regards to the author's interpretation of African American history.

James Q. Wilson has shown that slavery caused by far the greatest damage to the black family. And Thomas Sowell's research has proven that African American families were gaining ground economically on white families prior to Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" and some of the other bad policy to come out of that era.

- Finally, from Commentary magazine, an in depth look at "the anatomy of The Surge."

*UPDATE 11 May 11:58pm MST: (hat tip: S. Lybbert) A friendly reminder for those who still think we should/could exit Iraq and everything would be hunky-dory. Popular historian Arthur Herman wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the lives lost after the US withdrew its support in Cambodia and Vietnam. Democrats can close their eyes and plug their ears but it wasn't pretty.

In other news, we still fail to understand the logic of those who argue for intervention in Darfur, but want the US to immediately withdraw from Iraq. Uh, ok.

**UPDATE 11 May 11:59pm MST: (hat tip: Matt Lybbert) We're not experts, but we are economically literate. Check out this article by David Leonhardt in the New York Times on the future potential of economics to solve social problems. (yes, that New York Times)

***UPDATE 12 May 1:03pm MST (h/t: Matt Lybbert): Which of the three remaining candidates is least populist? We think that award should go to John McCain. You see, McCain remains in favor of Nafta and is one of the few and definitely the most visible politician arguing for the virtues of free trade. Check out this article, another from the NYT.


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08 May 2008

Happy Birthday, Israel

60 years.

That's how long modern Israel has been in existence. Considering its precarious position in the Middle East, their mere existence is quite an accomplishment. But they've achieved more than just survival.

Today, Israel is a modern, successful democracy experiencing strong economic growth. And this, despite Hezbollah Katyushas and Hamas suicide bombers.

Felicitations, Israel.

*UPDATE 12 May 1:22am MST: We agree with Mark Steyn, Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East (may Iraq soon join it). His article, commemorating Israel's 60th anniversary and commenting on the challenges it faces, is a must-read.


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07 May 2008

End of the Road

We're almost as sad to see Hillary Clinton leave the race as we were to see Romney's exit. Any bets on whether or not her exit speech will be as classy as Romney's?

But we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves.

The Former Clinton Advisor (the world is full of 'em, isn't it?) we listened to this morning doesn't think she'll drop out until 3 June at the earliest. That means we've got, what, 3 more weeks of wackiness left? Whatever it takes to keep Barack fighting on two fronts.

Because, and we'll be honest here, we need the help. It's a theme we've touched on before, but Hillary's attack dogs have done a good job of de-canonizing Barack. Rev. Wright and his comments about Obama being just another politician helped too.

And even if it didn't really show up in the Democratic primary, you can bet it will in the general election. There, the moderates/independents/undecideds who aren't sipping the kool-aid will take a hard look at Barack's unity rhetoric and his divisive relationships and decide if reality matches His Airiness.

(it doesn't)

Because the truth is, he's just another San Francisco Democrat who has been able to mask his condescension in platitudes about change and hope. Or should we say Change! and Hope!. Yeah, that's better.

But we're not so wonkish that we think this Presidential election should be a non-stop policy debate. There is more to being President than just advocating another social or economic whatever policy. We are electing a man (or, and this one hangs by a thread, woman) full of world views and attitudes and personality and their life philosophy, how they see America and her place in the world and how they view everything from her history, the Founders, etc., will shape how they will be as President and what types of decisions they will make when the proverbial hits the fan.

We debate all the time with friends (usually libertarian leaning) who do not care about abortion as a political issue. We care about it because it is part of a bigger issue about the question of life. Questions about how someone comes into this life and how they exit it are important.

And even if the President may not author legislation one way or the other about abortion, what he thinks about it is important to us. Because the Presidency of the United States of America is more than just signing Congressional legislation and nominating Supreme Court judges (all important), it's about being the leader of the greatest country in the world and, as such, holding forth on all the important issues.

You may not like President Bush, but the the ability of the President to influence and persuade on a number of issues is incredibly powerful and does affect public opinion. This is why we want a President who matches our worldview as closely as possible.


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02 May 2008

"Climate Change" &c.

- It's important to note that we didn't say no government, we argued for and will continue to argue for less government.

Every generation of government planners thinks they are smarter than the last, that they can solve the problems their predecessors could not through better targeted planning, etc.

Of course there is a role for government involvement through regulation and oversight, we just don't think government is the answer to all problems or even most problems.

Can anyone really point at Europe and say, "success!"? Their demographics can't support their welfare states and for the last 10 years, they've been pointing towards the U.S. and mimicking our regulation reducin', tax lowerin', ways. Eastern Europe is probably the best example of this trend, though the same thing has been happening with extreme success in Ireland and nearby Scotland, with their newfound power under devolution, is moving in the same direction.

The most successful Asian tiger? Hong Kong. And does anywhere have as low of taxes and little regulation as Hong Kong?

Ah, Milton Friedman.

- Have global warmists started calling it "climate change" because they don't really know what's going to happen to the weather? If so, how does that make them any different to the weatherman who can't predict what's going to happen beyond a 4 day forecast and even then, with very little accuracy.

(no, we don't doubt climate change just because weathermen can't predict the weather)

Don't call us climate change "deniers." We're skeptics.

Philosophically and broadly, we agree with Bjørn Lomborg. His prognosis for global warming is that the drastic measures many call for would have little impact and that the resources spent trying to reduce carbon output would be better spent helping the poor in lesser developed countries. And further, that a dynamic economy, unhampered by global warming restrictions, combined with human ingenuity, would best solve any future global warming problem.

Obviously this explanation is very simplistic, so don't dismiss Lomborg based on our explanation. He just seems eminently reasonable. And it's that reasonableness that seems to be lacking among most of the global warming true believers.

- What the latest problem global warming (er, climate change) hath wrought?

In U.S.-America, food prices tied even more than usual to rising fuel costs because of government mandated ethanol production and limits on ethanol importation.

(food responds to increases in fuel prices because.... corn prices respond to demand for ethanol, corn production responds to demands for ethanol, corn replaces other crops in production reducing the supply of wheat, potatoes, etc., food prices rise, the poor suffer)

But for the wine and cheese, Prius driving, San Francisco Democrats who patted themselves on the back for their green efforts, the costs are low. As so often happens with these ill-conceived and ill-implemented government mandates, the poor in lesser developed countries pay the price. The price? Starvation.

What if there is a more invidious force at work here than the simple law of unintended consequences? What if some global warmists wanted population reduction in lesser developed countries?

If you follow the intellectual history of the extreme left of the enviro movement, this won't seem like such a farfetched idea.

We don't normally traffic in conspiracy theories, but whacko environmentalists have been calling for population limits ever since Thomas Malthus. His ideas were retreaded by Paul Ehrlich and Jared Diamond.

Remember that idiot columnist from USA Today we linked to last week? Yeah. He called for population limits as a religious/moral duty.

And did anyone catch the news about the couple in Florida who decided not to have children in order to reduce their carbon footprint? Besides our obvious delight at them self-selecting themselves out of existence, their example highlights the incongruity of the population reductionists (double meaning intended).

If they have no children, for whom, exactly, are they preserving the environment?

We only wish that all idiots would make the same, no children decision.

*UPDATE 3 May 3:47pm MST: RD properly chided Clinton and McCain for their "summer break" tax cut. However, his "kudos" to Obama was misplaced. Though he opposes the summer break tax cut on gas, he wants to impose a windfall tax on oil companies. Yeah, that's a good idea. From today's WSJ op-ed on the three Presidential candidate's populist proposals:
This tiff over gas and oil taxes only highlights the intellectual policy confusion – or perhaps we should say cynicism – of our politicians. They want lower prices but don't want more production to increase supply. They want oil "independence" but they've declared off limits most of the big sources of domestic oil that could replace foreign imports. They want Americans to use less oil to reduce greenhouse gases but they protest higher oil prices that reduce demand. They want more oil company investment but they want to confiscate the profits from that investment. And these folks want to be President?
Domestic drilling? In favor. ANWR drilling? Also, in favor.


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