29 May 2009

Harry Reid's Nuts 4

A report on the contraction, not the possessive.

Would the voters of Nevada get rid of this guy already? I'm just glad I don't share my alma mater with him. He's an SUU & Utah St. guy. So there's that.

His memoir was just released in paperback form (not that I was waiting for the Amazon price drop or anything) and Mark Hemingway has posted his review at NRO.

I've recently become fascinated with the "blurbs" publishers or authors or whoever choose to put on their books from amongst the many reviews of their books. One that struck me as funny and not at all flattering was on the cover of the Ken Follett novel I'm reading at the moment. The New York Daily News called it "quick-paced." Wow. When that is the type of praise your book is getting, you've got problems. Fortunately, Follett was able to redeem himself with other, better books. Somehow I don't think Reid will get another shot.

Anyway, here's Hemingway on the reception/review of Reids memoir:
Every other major media outlet has been standoffish. Take this blurb from the Washington Post, proudly emblazoned on the back of the paperback edition: “Recounts fights with everyone from classmates to the man who would eventually become his father-in-law, preparing him for a senatorial life of battling the Bush White House and Republican filibusters.” Beware the value-neutral blurb: In fact, the Post never reviewed the book — the quote comes from a gossip column published a month before the book’s release. One of the most powerful men in Washington published a book, and the entire journalistic establishment’s reaction seems to have been, “If you can’t say something nice . . . ”
So he's been a belligerent cuss from day one, eh? Does that really surprise anybody?

A couple of years ago, Reid gave a speech at BYU as a part of one of their forums. Ostensibly, it was to appease all the haters who thought BYU was being partisan by having Vice President Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney give a talk at commencement (President Bush couldn't make it).

VP Cheney didn't say a single thing that could have been construed as partisan. Whereas Senator Reid, given his turn, made a complete fool of himself by giving what amounted to one of his usual senatorial rants against President Bush, Evangelical Christians, etc. He was his usual, classy self.

The best example (or worst) of Reid's classiness from his memoir is pointed out, per usual, by DrewM @ Ace:
While no one expects Reid to praise George W. Bush, the degree to which he is judgmental and catty regarding the former president pretty much speaks for itself. Three pages in, after lamely trying to establish his bipartisan bona fides by talking up George H. W. Bush, Reid shares this charming anecdote about his early days in the Senate: “[Former Texas senator and vice-presidential candidate Lloyd] Bentsen went on and on effusively about what a quality man President-elect [H. W.] Bush was. Then he paused and said, ‘But watch out for his wife; she’s a [witch].’ I have never had anything against Mrs. Bush, but guided by Bentsen’s crude advice, I’ve always said that our forty-third president is more his mother than his dad.”
What’s the purpose of recording for posterity a bit of hearsay defaming a woman Reid admits he has no cause to dislike? Is Reid really so petty as to insult someone’s mother? Why yes, yes he is.
On the one hand, I'm extremely put off by Reid's antics. On the other, I'm incredibly amused by the damage he and his partner in crime, Nancy Pelosi, do to their party. It's a commentary on the party leadership as a whole that these two are the leaders of the Democrat party in Congress.

Bravo, Democrats, bravo.

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Reasons For Optimism

Jonah Goldberg, happy warrior:
The conventional wisdom holds that conservatism is in trouble because the GOP is in trouble. But the two are not one and the same. Indeed, the GOP’s conservative principles aren’t necessarily the main reason for its unpopularity. Arguably, Republicans’ failure to adhere to their principles when in power hurt them more. The most recent Pew Research Center report on “Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes” finds that 37 percent of Americans describe themselves as conservative, while only 19 percent describe themselves as liberal. And conservative principles are still competitive, even after eight years of Bush, a staggering recession, and the most popular Democratic president in nearly a half-century. A majority of respondents say the “federal government controls too much of our daily lives” and that “government regulation of business usually does more harm than good.”

Obviously, the GOP is not in an enviable position. But conservatives have been in worse shape countless times before. What they have done each and every time is argue their way forward. Goldwater, Reagan, and Gingrich each mounted conservative victories by making arguments for their cause.

The cliché is that politics is about “addition,” and the GOP needs to add more Hispanics, or gays, or women to its coalition, as if such descriptors define people more than their individual aspirations. Republicans will never win that fight, nor should they try to out-bean-count the Democrats. Persuasion should trump the pandering of “addition.” Conservatives must argue why they are right, not endlessly apologize for their alleged wrongs.

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28 May 2009

Hyperinflation, The Politics Of Personal Destruction, &c. (UPDATED)

This article was emailed to me by Dan K. I would have preferred that he write it up & just let me link to his blog but oh well.

As Dan pointed out to me, it's by "John Taylor, a respected Stanford economist." So there you go, his bona fides are established.
I believe the risk posed by this debt is systemic and could do more damage to the economy than the recent financial crisis. To understand the size of the risk, take a look at the numbers that Standard and Poor’s considers. The deficit in 2019 is expected by the CBO to be $1,200bn (€859bn, £754bn). Income tax revenues are expected to be about $2,000bn that year, so a permanent 60 per cent across-the-board tax increase would be required to balance the budget. Clearly this will not and should not happen. So how else can debt service payments be brought down as a share of GDP?
The mistake Taylor and other responsible economic types make with regards to Obama and his policy is that they believe that he is a responsible actor. To believe this, they have to ignore the whole of what he has done and said he intends to do.

He effectively runs America's financial sector. He wants a 'systemic risk regulator' or some other such. He runs GM and Chrysler. He wants to run the whole of American health care. He wants to establish a cap & trade system which will create a whole new regulatory apparatus to, again, allow him to run that aspect of the American economy too.

He does not care what all of this might cost or how it puts the most successful economy in world history at risk. And when I say at risk, I mean of ever being what it once was. It is part of his overarching plan to remake America into a liberal utopia that all of these things happen.

Radical levels of inflation and other economic woes simply give the man pretext to control more and more.

For those of us who do not like the direction this country is going, we can at least enjoy one delicious little irony (I read this somewhere but I can't remember where to give credit): One of the chief criticisms of the Bush administration was that he used "fear" as a way to push through a conservative agenda. (Nevermind that many Democrats--including current leadership--collaborated and voted on things like the Patriot Act, authorization and funding for Iraq, Afghanistan, wiretapping, military courts, etc. You'll also have to forget that, of course, Obama has continued all of these Bush Admin. policies.)

Well, now their boy is doing exactly what they accused Bush of doing. Do the hypocrites have a problem with this? Of course not. Because it achieves their policy goals. Winning at any cost is part of the fabric of liberalism. Notice that when Republican presidents (Reagan with Bork; Bush 41 with Thomas; Bush 43 with Roberts & Alito) nominated judges for the Supreme Court, liberal groups full court attacked these men. Nothing was off limits. It was personal and it was nasty.

This is standard operating procedure for liberals. They wouldn't have it any other way. Its why, when they argue with you, and they start to lose (as, inevitably, they will) they begin to attack you personally and question your motives. They are unable to debate an issue on its merits.

Anyway, compare Democrats experience with Republican nominees to Republican treatment of Democrat nominees. Compare Bork, Thomas, et al to what you will soon see with Sotomayor and the Republican Senate. She'll get tough questions, but she won't be subjected to the "politics of personal destruction" or "a high tech lynching."

Back to the earlier point of this post: Every policy put forward by the Obama administration has been about re-shaping this nation and moving it towards a liberal dystopia. Inflation and continued economic turbulence aid him in this process and thus, are actually helpful to his cause.

John Taylor's and others' warnings fall on deaf ears in Washington DC. The only ones with ears to hear are either in the desert politically or forced to fall into line with Obama, Reid, and Pelosi.

UPDATE 29 May 11:21am BST: Ah, division of labor & specialization: Dan didn't write about the original article he sent me, but he did write about some sweet econ stuff--specifically, about his Q&A with the UK head of Islamic finance at PWC:
his explanation of the current financial crisis was the best I've heard yet, and I've heard and read many. No politicizing, no finger-pointing, clear, complete, and understandable. I've heard an interview with a journalist recently and he admitted that he and most journalists/news commentators have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to the matter of economics and finance. But since people are demanding answers, they pretend and make it up as they go. Mohammad Amin knew what he was talking about, and he knew better than most, and I'm not easily impressed.

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27 May 2009

On Sonia Sotomayor (UPDATED)

After Obama announced Sotomayor as his Supreme Court nominee, my dad, brother, and I emailed our initial thoughts back and forth. I suggested that,
[good judges] respect the rule of law & [believe] that its enforcement should be blind, rather than actively promoting a person's personal policy preferences.
Matt made a particularly good point, generally, about the divide between liberals & conservatives regarding the role of the judiciary:
I hate that applying the law impartially, without respect for outcomes, is seen as ultraconservative. Shouldn't that actually be considered a moderate approach?
This is something where I don't believe there will ever be reconciliation between conservatives and libs--judicial interpretation.
To which I responded:
Liberals see the courts as a way to advance their agenda--as a great ex post facto leveler & righter of (perceived) wrongs. They view the court as a way of equalizing everyone rather than as everyone being equal before the court.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor ticks all the liberal judicial philosophy boxes:
The leading piece of evidence against her is a statement made at a conference at Duke University Law School in 2005, in which she said, "The court of appeals is where policy is made."
She is a doctrinaire liberal judicial activist. I'm not going to suggest that Republican Senators or anyone else engage in ad hominem attacks the way liberal Democrats do all the time. But that does not mean she shouldn't answer tough questions about her judicial philosophy.

The American people need to know exactly what kind of judge Obama has nominated and what her activism and wide eyed preferentialism mean for the rule of law on the highest court in the land.

UPDATE 28 May 12:32pm BST: A few of you wrote to say that you thought I was going to easy on Judge Sotomayor. Maybe so. Matt B., specifically, said,
Way too soft on Sotomayor. Regardless of [her] political views or decisions from the bench, she is incredibly incompetent and unqualified.
The criterion used by the Obama administration (indeed, liberals generally) has never had anything whatsoever to do with competence or qualification.
  1. Is the judge a liberal activist?
  2. Does the judge fit our racialist view of America? (how many boxes can we tick by nominating him or (preferably) her?)
It's patently obvious that the answer to both of those questions is a resounding "Yes." All that remains is to ensure that the nominee doesn't have any (or too many) skeletons in the closet (like tax evasion).

Like Matt B., I view the Supreme Court the same way I view application of the law generally: Who is the most competent, qualified, Constitution-respecting judge available? Nominate that person. The person's race/gender/religion/other-ridiculous-immaterial-superficiality matters to me not one iota.

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Bjorn Lomborg's 'Climate-Industrial Complex'

From last week's journal, a great article by this blog's favorite purveyor of global warmism common sense, Bjorn Lomborg. As the article title indicates--The Climate-Industrial Complex--Lomborg warns against the many special interests that stand to gain from adoption of the radical green plans President Obama has proposed.
The cozy corporate-climate relationship was pioneered by Enron, which bought up renewable energy companies and credit-trading outfits while boasting of its relationship with green interest groups. When the Kyoto Protocol was signed, an internal memo was sent within Enron that stated, "If implemented, [the Kyoto Protocol] will do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory business."
[Aside: As James Taranto frequently reminds his readers, Paul Krugman is a "former Enron adviser." That shouldn't surprise anyone.]

I'm always surprised by liberal friends of mine who are sure that the only nefarious business interests at work in the world today are "Big Oil" companies which obviously hate the planet and just want money. They, in turn, are always surprised to learn that Al Gore, in addition to being a Nobel and Academy Award winner, is also, as Lomborg describes him,
a politician, a campaigner and the chair of a green private-equity firm invested in products that a climate-scared world would buy.
Yeah, folks, green technology is a money maker--just not for most Americans.

This is what happens when the government intervenes in the market and picks the winners--you pay more taxes and Al Gore laughs all the way to the bank.

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22 May 2009

'For Steadfast Devotion To Protecting The God-Given Rights Of Free People'

My kind of awards ceremony.
The awards, according to the program, "honor individuals and groups which, since 1945, have fought for freedom, participatory government and against fascism, communism, moral relativity, economic corruption and terrorism in all their forms."

Held annually since 2006, the ceremony was organized by the Honourable Company of Freedom Fighters, a group started by Duane R. "Dewey" Clarridge, an ex-CIA officer who is still in the intelligence and security field.

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21 May 2009

Looks Like Starving The [California] Beast Works After All

Who knew?
On Thursday a small group of Senate and Assembly members will hold the first of what's expected to be a slew of daily public sessions to wrangle over the details of the budget.
Schwarzenegger has called for cuts that would hit every corner of the state. He announced plans to lay off 5,000 of the state's 235,000 workers and has proposed slashing education by up to $5 billion, selling state properties, borrowing $2 billion from local governments and potentially reducing eligibility for healthcare programs.
There is only one way to control spending: Cut taxes.

Sure, California has been able to borrow and whatnot until now. But their attempt to securitize future lotto proceeds failed. Thus far their pleas for a bailout from the Feds have failed too. I'm sure they'll give that at least one more go.

Even in one of the more liberal states in the country, higher taxes couldn't get a majority. Let this be a lesson to Congress: Eventually all your borrowing & spending is going to lead to higher taxes. When you do, you will get tossed. And whoever replaces you will cut your beloved nanny-state programs & the taxes that fund them.

At least, that's my "hope of the day."

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Ceding Liberty To Your Social & Intellectual Superiors

Daniel Henninger puts it best (he always does):
Barack Obama isn't a reformer. He's the president of Earmark Nation. We are about to enact the Obama federal health-insurance entitlement, which on top of all the other entitlements and their limitless liabilities will require pulling trillions of dollars more into the federal budget. Whatever nominal public good this is supposed to achieve, it means that they, these 535 pols, most of them gerrymandered for life, will decide in perpetuity the details of how to dole it out.

When this experiment called the United States began some 200 years ago, neither the "liberals" nor "conservatives" of that time imagined their successors would have such vast sway over the nation's income, or that U.S. politics would be mostly factions begging and fighting to have fragments of it disbursed back to them. The phrase "pay to play" would have disgusted them.
That so many Americans (mostly liberals in favor of the ever-growing nanny state) would willingly cede their liberty in favor of a bigger government to take care of them from cradle-to-grave would also have disgusted the Founders.

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20 May 2009

Your Colon & You: An Harbinger Of Things To Come (UPDATED)

At issue are "virtual colonoscopies," or CT scans of the abdomen. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of U.S. cancer death but one of the most preventable. Found early, the cure rate is 93%, but only 8% at later stages. Virtual colonoscopies are likely to boost screenings because they are quicker, more comfortable and significantly cheaper than the standard "optical" procedure, which involves anesthesia and threading an endoscope through the lower intestine.

Virtual colonoscopies are endorsed by the American Cancer Society and covered by a growing number of private insurers including Cigna and UnitedHealthcare. The problem for Medicare is that if cancerous lesions are found using a scan, then patients must follow up with a traditional colonoscopy anyway. Costs would be lower if everyone simply took the invasive route, where doctors can remove polyps on the spot. As Medicare noted in its ruling, "If there is a relatively high referral rate [for traditional colonoscopy], the utility of an intermediate test such as CT colonography is limited." In other words, duplication would be too pricey.

This is precisely the sort of complexity that the Democrats would prefer to ignore as they try to restructure health care. Led by budget chief Peter Orszag, the White House believes that comparative effectiveness research, which examines clinical evidence to determine what "works best," will let them cut wasteful or ineffective treatments and thus contain health spending.

The problem is that what "works best" isn't the same for everyone. While not painless or risk free, virtual colonoscopy might be better for some patients -- especially among seniors who are infirm or because the presence of other diseases puts them at risk for complications. Ideally doctors would decide with their patients. But Medicare instead made the hard-and-fast choice that it was cheaper to cut it off for all beneficiaries. If some patients are worse off, well, too bad.

[...] Washington's utilitarian judgments about costs would reshape the practice of medicine.
The debate about health care isn't simply one about costs. This is not about providing "health care" to all Americans the cheapest way possible. One could hand out vitamins to all Americans very cheaply and call this "universal coverage." Congratulations.

This is also a debate about liberty--having control over the type & quality of health care one receives.

All of the efficiency gains the social scientists say we'd get from universal health care rely on rationing. Thus, if costs spin out of control, the central planners (all more intelligent and enlightened than you and me) decide which procedures, medicines, and people to cut out. They may not limit your coverage to vitamins, but you better hope you are on the ObamaCare-most-favored list.

[One group guaranteed to be on the official, funded-procedure list (though if they could speak, they'd probably opt out): The unborn.]

But even their decisions won't be pure and untainted by the touch of the lobbyist. Just like the bank and auto bailouts, those who are close to the Obama administration will be favored. In this decision making process, the most important factors will be, "how much can you donate to the campaign? How many people (unions) can you turn out to vote?"

This is what happens when government takes control of your life.

(thanks to Scott L. for the tip)

UPDATE 3:18pm BST: An alternative & the essential decision facing Americans:
Who will control the system? Doctors and patients, or politicians and regulators? That's the crux of this year's health-care debate.

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18 May 2009

Sarah Palin vs. Obama (or Biden) [UPDATED]

Take your pick.

I often suggest this contest to people who critique Governor Palin for her verbal gaffes and miscues--as though they were unique to her. The Contest: I'll match 2 Youtube clips of either President Obama or VP Biden saying something stupid for every 1 clip you find of Sarah Palin.

No one ever takes me up on this challenge.

You know why? Because everyone knows in their heart of hearts that she's no more gaffe-prone than either of these guys (or liberal gals, for that matter) and that they hold her to a different standard because she's both a woman and conservative.

Now lets play another of my fav games--compare & contrast.

In his latest column, Victor Davis Hansen has done something very clever. He has replaced Obama with Palin (as President) and had the media react to the many dumb things Obama has done in his first 100 days as though Sarah Palin had done them.

ABC’s Katie Couric summed up the general disappointment with the president’s communication skills. “I tried to warn the American people in that interview a few years back what they would get if they voted for her. Let’s face it: She’s a walking embarrassment. I mean just count ’em up: The mayor of Wasilla thinks Austrians speak some lingo called ‘Austrian.’ Then she tries her hand at Spanish and comes up with some concoction, ‘Cinco de Cuatro.’ Next thing she’ll walk into the window of the Oval Office and expect it to open — oops, she’s already done that. No wonder that when her Teleprompter stalls, she shuts her mouth until it catches up. I’m surprised she managed to get sworn in. And did she think that tasteless ‘Special Olympics’ slur was funny? Or making fun of octogenarian Nancy Reagan’s séances? No wonder Wanda Sykes feels at home.”
This juxtaposition of Obama/Palin, while having the media respond as though she were the one who had done whatever very clearly highlights the different standard to which the one is held vs. the other. One is beloved of the media--indeed, is the media's Beloved--while the other is the exact opposite of all their ideal for a woman--conservative, pro-life, with a family, etc., etc.

UPDATE 20 May 2.28pm BST: Jansen G. writes:
The reason there are more youtube clips of Obama or Biden gaffes than Palin is b/c Obama and Biden have been in the limelight far longer than Palin.
OK, fair enough. For the purposes of this challenge, I will limit the scope to the following period: The day she was announced--29 August 2008--to the day of the election--4 November 2008.

Based on my preliminary Youtube search (on the remote chance someone actually decided to take me up on the challenge), I suspect I'll still be able to double every Palin-gaffe with two of either Biden or Obama.

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15 May 2009

'Alternative Energy': Oil, Coal, & Natural Gas

I love this topic & I love posting things like this--a bit I found in the Notable & Quotable section of the Wall Street Journal, Jon Basil Utley writing in at Reason.com:
It's only a matter of time before President Barack Obama's vast popularity runs aground on his energy policies. In the name of saving the planet from global warming, he has delayed new oil drilling, an action that will have major political repercussions once the world economy recovers. Instead of using some [of] the stimulus billions to produce more gas and oil, Obama's wild-eyed supporters dream of "renewable" energy derived from corn, wind, sunshine, and even grass.

With the appointment of extremists like climate czar Carol Browner and science adviser John Holdren, Obama has placed his administration's environmental policy in the hands of radicals. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar proposes replacing oil and coal with windmills. Yet Barron's recently reported that America would need to build 500,000 giant offshore windmills and transmission lines to produce Salazar's specified 1,900 gigawatts of electricity. In contrast, oil and gas drilling could provide hundreds of thousands of solid, well-paying blue-collar jobs. . . .

All of these things are happening at a time when natural gas is abundant and cheap. The new technology of horizontal fraccing has made it economically feasible to drill into vast shale deposits in many states, even famously difficult ones like Michigan and New York. Many cars could run on natural gas, much like many buses do already. On a recent trip to Peru, I learned that most taxicabs have been converted to natural gas for a cost of about $1,000 each. New technologies continually revive old oil and gas fields and make new ones economically viable. So it's little more than socialist Malthusianism to argue that the world is running out of cheap energy. Science will always find and harness new sources.
History suggests that markets will always find a cheap source of energy.

As for me and my blog, I'll stick with the historically overwhelming power of the market, over the liberty-taking, economy-destroying, command & control social engineers in the Obama administration.

Cap & trade, in addition to being pointless from an "environmental" perspective and incredibly costly (effectively a huge tax on American families), is at its core an opportunity for your intellectual betters in the Obama administration to take control of a huge section of the American economy and your lives.

You see, they're smarter and more enlightened than you & me are and thus, should be controlling an ever-increasing portion of our lives.

It's about power & control: They own/run/influence a huge section of the financial industry as a result of TARP, etc., and now effectively control Chrysler. Next up? This is no secret. Government healthcare, cap & trade and other stuff I'm forgetting at the moment.

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13 May 2009

What Happens When The PC Warriors Have Their Way

I've never listened to Michael Savage. I don't know what his schtick is. I don't really care. He's a popular radio personality who generally seems to be a conservative fellow traveler, that's enough for me.

Even if he were a liberal trying to get into a Tory-run island (kind of defies logic, doesn't it?), I'd still stick up for him. Anyway, London Mayor Boris Johnson had a great quote about the whole Home-Secretary-denies-entry-clearance-to-Michael-Savage-kerfuffle.
My first objection to the utterly demented decision by Jacqui Smith's Home Office to announce that Michael Savage, America's third most popular radio show host, is banned from entering this country. It just makes us look so infantile, so pathetic. . . . Perhaps Jacqui Smith thinks that it 'sends out a signal' about the kind of Britain we want. On the contrary, it reinforces a culture -- created by this Labour Government, and its addiction to political correctness -- where people are increasingly confused and panic-stricken about what they can say and what is forbidden, a culture where a police officer can seriously think he is right to arrest a protester for calling a police horse 'gay.' Our courts and tribunals are clogged with people claiming to have suffered insults of one kind or another, and a country once famous for free speech is now hysterically and expensively sensitive to anything that could be taken as a slight.
Spew hatred towards women, Jews, & Western Civilization generally, and you will be admitted and protected in this country--MI5 might track you, but your right to say such ridiculous things will not be impeded.

Speak out against this kind of hatred every day on the radio and effectively, call a spade a spade, and you will not be allowed past the Immigration desk at Heathrow Terminal 4.

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12 May 2009

'1-2-3 Curahee!' PresidentGeneral Petraeus Causes The Comatose To Wake

And the lame to walk (with a big assist from modern medicine).

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'A Heroic Climb': Goldberg & Steyn On The GOP

Continuing the theme from last week, here are a couple of good articles on the state of the Republican party & conservatism generally. I probably just should have referred you all to these pieces in the first part rather than rambling on myself. Oh well.

First, Jonah Goldberg:
The mainstream perception that conservatives are close-minded and dogmatic while liberals are open-minded and free-thinking has it almost exactly backward. Liberal dogma is settled: The government should do good, where it can, whenever it can. That is President Obama’s idea of pragmatism and bipartisanship: He’s open to all ideas, from either side of the aisle, about how best to expand government and get the state more involved in our lives. Meanwhile, conservatism’s dogma remains forever in flux. We constantly debate the trade-offs between freedom and virtue, the conflicts between liberty and order.
Yup. Conservatives are the dogmatic ones. But wait, there's more:
Also, partisans like to believe that whenever their guy wins, it’s because their ideas have been ratified by the American people, and whenever the other guy loses, they pronounce that the American people have resoundingly rejected this or that idea. Sometimes this is obviously true, but not nearly as often as we like to think. Obama, after all, promised over and over that his administration would provide a “net spending cut.” How’s that going?
When you repeatedly state during your campaign that you want to "cut taxes for 95% of Americans," is that really a mandate to govern as an extreme liberal?

Mark Steyn writes about everything that interests me and does so in the exact manner I would do it--if only I were as witty:
the GOP’s tent has many poles: It has social conservatives, libertarians, fiscal conservatives, national-security hawks. These groups do not always agree: The so-cons resent the libertarians’ insouciance on gay marriage and abortion. The libertarians don’t get the warhawks’ obsession with thankless nation-building in Islamist hellholes. A lot of the hawks can’t see why the fiscal cons are so hung up on footling matters like bloated government spending at a time of war. It requires a lot of effort to align these various poles sufficiently to hold up the big tent. And by the 2006 electoral cycle, between the money-no-object Congress at home and a war that seemed to have dwindled down to an endless, half-hearted, semi-colonial policing operation, the GOP poles were tilting badly. The Republican coalition is like a permanent loveless marriage: There are bad times and worse times. And, while social conservatism and libertarianism can be principled to a fault, the vagaries of electoral politics mean they often wind up being represented in office by either unprincipled opportunists like Arlen Specter or unprincipled squishes like Lincoln Chafee.
In the Democrat party....
Meanwhile, over in the other tent, they celebrate diversity with ruthless singlemindedness: In the Democrats’ parade, whatever your bugbear, government is the answer. Government is the means, government is the end, government is the whole magilla. That gives them a unity of purpose the GOP can never match.
Once the Democrats are ensconced in government glory, the infinity sided caged deathmatch of lobbying, favor giving, spoils dividing, etc., etc., takes place the & winners--as happens when the Democrat party gets its way--are chosen by the government. We've already seen some of this--ACORN payoffs in the 2010 census, the liberal grab bag that was the spendulous, er, stimulus, the Orwellianly-named "Employee Free Choice Act" (Orwellian because it aims to do exactly the opposite of what the name implies), and will continue with the cap & trade that will no doubt put money in the pockets of "green" people (not martians) who helped get Obama elected. Ditto healthcare.

One last quote from Steyn on Colin Powell:
Consider this cooing profile of Secretary Powell from Todd Purdum in the New York Times back in 2002: “Mr. Powell’s approach to almost all issues — foreign or domestic — is pragmatic and nonideological. He is internationalist, multilateralist and moderate. He has supported abortion rights and affirmative action.”

So supporting “internationalism,” “multilateralism,” abortion, and racial quotas means you’re “moderate” and “nonideological”? And anyone who feels differently is an extreme ideologue? Absolutely. The aim of a large swathe of the Left is not to win the debate but to get it canceled before it starts. You can do that in any number of ways: busting up campus appearances by conservatives, “hate speech” prohibitions, activist judges’ more imaginative court decisions, or merely, as the Times does, by declaring your side of every issue to be the “moderate” and “nonideological” position — even when, in many cases, the “extreme” position is supported by a majority of voters. Likewise, to Colin Powell, it’s Ann Coulter who’s “vicious,” not Michael Moore, who compares the jihadists who blow up Western troops in Iraq to America’s Minutemen and gets rewarded with a seat next to Jimmy Carter in the presidential box at the Democratic convention.
Steyn has got some great recommendations on the way forward..... but you're going to have to click the link & read the article to find out.

I'll give you one hint: He's a Happy Warrior; he's optimistic about our chances.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

08 May 2009

The Marginalization Of The Republican Party & Other Poppycock

The MSM continues to spin the Specter defection & too many supposedly smart people continue to believe them.

Once again, the problem with the Republican party is not that it has become or is becoming too right-wing, too conservative, too rigid, too doctrinaire, and therefore unpalatable to most Americans. The solution to what ails Republicans is not to become more liberal.

According to Specter and a herd of commentators - many in The Inquirer's pages - the senator's switcheroo is proof of far more than Specter's brute survival instinct; it's proof that the Republican Party is narrow and rigid.

Keep spinning. The fact is that, prior to the stimulus vote, conservative former Rep. Pat Toomey was telling supporters that the chances he would challenge Specter in the 2010 Republican primary were 50-50 at best. The Senate's most liberal Republican would have been the heavy favorite to win the nomination again.

So now we're to understand that Specter has left the small-tent GOP for the broad-minded, tolerant Democratic Party? Alas, voting records tell a different story.

According to the American Conservative Union, in 2008, only two of the 51 Senate Democrats had conservative ratings above 25 percent. But 21 of the 49 Republican senators had conservative ratings of 75 percent or less. Furthermore, 12 Democrats had a conservative rating of zero, while an additional 25 scored under 10 percent. By contrast, only one Republican scored a perfect 100, and a scant seven others scored above 90 percent. (Note that Pennsylvania's other "moderate" senator has a conservative rating of 8 percent.)

Which party has greater ideological diversity? Sorry, but the facts just don't fit the media's fantasy.

I spent 12 years in the Senate. It has one doctrinaire, narrow, intolerant caucus, and Specter just joined it.

The Democratic caucus is a reflection of the leftist special interests that control the Democrat Party. From 1994 to 2004, those interests supported liberal candidates who were too far out of the mainstream to win in competitive states and districts. They regained power in Pennsylvania and elsewhere because Democratic candidates ran as moderates or conservatives, and Republicans abandoned the principled positions that had helped them win.

The public can tell when it's being conned, so it chose to throw out the party that had lost its way. The result: the most hard-left Congress in U.S. history (see previously mentioned ratings).
(emphasis added)

Sorry, Republican-nay-sayers, the facts do not fit your narrative. Republicans did not get tossed out on their ears because they were too conservative or too rigidly right-wing. The fact that Republicans aren't the majority party is not because they supposedly became hostile to moderates & centrists.

The Republican party is far more centrist & moderate in its makeup than the Democrat party. This isn't even debatable. The Republican party is home to more diversity of opinion on all of the controversial questions that divide Americans.

For every pro-life Democrat, I'll find you two pro-choice Republicans. For every traditional marriage Democrat, I'll find you two gay marriage Republicans. For every hawkish Democrat, I'll find you two dovish Republicans. I could do this all day.

I don't point this out as a badge of honor. Sure, I like the healthy debate in the Republican party, but I wish the conservative viewpoint on any given issue would win out more consistently. I think Republicans would still be a majority party if they were more consistently conservative.

I only do this to point out that all the things of which pundits accuse Republicans & blame for their downfall--of all these things, the Democrats are guilty.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

07 May 2009

Quote Of The Week I - The Age Of Reagan (UPDATED)

Today Mr. Obama releases the details of his $3.5 trillion budget, his path to the same goal. Rather than drown as usual in this accounting morass, Republicans should contrast the Obama-Pelosi budget with the Reagan-Kemp philosophy of how a striving nation works, saves and invests.

Republicans can start by taking the time to read the first Obama budget document, "A New Era of Responsibility." The word "investment" occurs over 140 times in its 142 pages. But this "investment" isn't private capital invested in private start-ups, what Mr. Kemp constantly called "entrepreneurial capitalism" and what most parents hope their children will join. Mr. Obama's document genuflects to "the market economy," then argues that it won't endure unless we "sacrifice" (through tax increases) to make "overdue investments" (which literally only means public spending) on four explicit goals: green energy, infrastructure, public health care, and education.
It is not conceivable that a Reagan or Kemp would have directed the U.S. economy's legendary energies into building hybrid cars, windmills and bullet trains. It would not have occurred to them that America's next Silicon Valley -- Apple, Intel and Oracle -- could grow out of "investments" listed in the federal budget. This would not have occurred to either man because their politics were rooted in the 300-year-old, singularly American tradition of individuals freely deciding how to spend their productive hours and money inside a public system that mainly provides security and safety.
Don't make too much of the fact that only 31% of poll respondents said they were Republicans. It has always been the case that Republicans were more apt to answer that they were "conservatives" when asked about their political philosophy.

Last election's exit polling confirmed that this is still a conservative nation--a national full of conservatives who will usually vote for Republicans, when, of course, those Republicans espouse a conservative world view. Such has not always--especially recently--been the case.

This party identification thing is just a passing popularity poll. Haters' contention that losing Specter etc., is a sign of a Republican party in decline is also a whole lot of nothing. This is a conservative nation that prefers Republicans--even if they don't want to identify themselves as such. Tuesday's generic Congressional ballot poll conducted by Rasmussen confirms that. The GOP leads the Democrat Party, 40-39.

The Age of Reagan is far from over.

UPDATE 5:01pm BST: Steve Hayward @ The Corner is on the same page as Daniel Henninger & me:
More to the point — we've been here before, and Reagan showed the way out. After the post-Watergate 1974 election disaster, some polls showed the number of voters who identified as Republicans below 20 percent (compared to 31 percent today), and there were calls to abandon the Republican Party and found a new Conservative Party. Bill Buckley wrote at the time that the Republican Party had become “an administrative convenience for a few politicians,” and speculated that “If Reagan ran for President on an independent ticket, he would get a higher percentage of the vote than the Republican Party would get if it were led by any other American.” Reagan rejected this advice (which came also even more strongly from Bill Rusher), and it prompted one of his most famous speeches, before CPAC in 1975: “Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which makes it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people? Americans are hungry to feel once again a sense of mission and greatness.”

But there is another rant that needs registering, namely, that all those folks who claim to be Reaganites would take the time to sit down a study the man's methods — not his ideology — more seriously. As we now know, he worked extremely hard, studying the issues in depth and preparing and practicing his speeches at great length. I'm frankly appalled at the low level of rhetorical skill displayed by most GOP politicians today. It is not just a matter of talent; talent helps, but Reagan showed that hard work is the key ingredient. Too many of our would-be party leaders today are simply lazy, and think they can coast through speeches and media appearances with little forethought. Finally, Reagan lived by an old show-business adage — always leave your audience wanting more. His speeches were often memorable because they were relatively short. You could fit five of Reagan's state of the union speeches inside one of Bill Clinton's or George W. Bush's. (This means you, Governor Palin, whom I heard in Anchorage in March making a rambling hour-long speech that someone at my table rightly described as "Castroesque.") So try this out, GOP leaders: Shorter speeches. People will remember more of what you say, and want to hear you say more later. This really isn't rocket science. Heck, it isn't even political science.
Good things.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

04 May 2009

On Waterboarding & Torture (UPDATED)

One of the most frequent topics of discussion with my liberal friends regards the efficacy & necessity of extraordinary interrogation techniques like waterboarding. They believe that when you torture someone--they insist that waterboarding is torture--that they will "tell you anything" to get you to stop. Because of this, we can't trust the intel we get from them.

This understanding of interrogation belies an almost complete misunderstanding of intelligence gathering.

In the first instance, the intent of interrogation (at least these types) is not to determine guilt--"are you a terrorist or aren't you!?!!"--but to gather actionable intelligence which will help save lives.

Once someone like KSM tells us whatever he tells us under the duress of waterboarding (he is one of only 3 terrorists who have been waterboarded since 9/11, none since 2003), we can then take that intel and check it against the intelligence we already have. If he tells us that there is a weapons cache or a terror cell or whatever, it is a pretty simple thing to discover if what he says is true.

American intelligence services have been dealing with intelligence of questionable origin for a long time. We know how to fact-check.

The "he'll tell you whatever you want to hear just to stop being waterboarded" argument is a bad one. It's not that hard to find out if the terrorist is lying.

All of this is my over-long introduction to an article by Clifford May entitled "Torture TV." May recently appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and discussed torture, waterboarding, etc. His article is the best single explanation of the ins & outs of interrogation I have ever read.

Jon Stewart: But answer my question: Is waterboarding torture? Yes or no?

Cliff May: Defining torture is not easy. A simple legal definition is that it “shocks the conscience.” Cutting off Daniel Pearl’s head on videotape — that shocks my conscience. Sending a child out as a suicide bomber — that shocks my conscience. People jumping off the World Trade Towers because they’d rather die that way than by burning — that shocks my conscience. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 atrocities, gagging for a few minutes and, as a result, providing information that saves lives, then going back to his cell for dinner and a movie — no, my conscience is not shocked by that.
Anytime I see an image of the twin towers or even walk the streets of the city where they once stood, I get a sick and sad feeling. I remember watching video footage of people jumping from the towers. I cannot erase those images from my head.

In my opinion, anything we can do--like waterboarding--to gather intelligence which will save lives, ought to be done. Of course there ought to be limits to the techniques employed by the interrogators, but eliminating things like waterboarding and sleep deprivation and not allowing interrogators to bombard terrorists with hour after hour of Britney Spears (who wouldn't cave?) is ridiculous.

How would we feel if lives are lost--losses which could have been easily prevented by gathering intel using rather tame interrogation techniques such as these?

UPDATE 7 May 2:53am BST: Sebastian D. emailed me a link to another good blog post about waterboarding. (content warning) The whole thing is worth reading; one part in particular stood out to me because it was a meme I hadn't addressed: that waterboarding just recruits more terrorists. This is one of my favorite/funniest meme's of the loony left--essentially everything results in the recruitment of another jihadist.

Uh huh, right.
I heard some author talking about how, sure, these interrogations may have saved lives, but on the other hand, the absolute awfulness of waterboarding only caused more people to be recruited in the fight against us. That is such utter and complete horse[crap] that I’m having a hard time understanding how anybody with two brain cells capable of creating friction could actually believe that.

You mean to tell me that if you’re living in a 3rd world hole, and you’ve been taught every single day of your life that the reason your country sucks by your Mullahs is because of Israel and the Great Satan, and you live in a culture of complete and utter violence, where history has been so rewritten by the powers that be that you actually believe the Holocaust is Israeli propaganda, and you swallow hook line and sinker all of the nonsense about the Great Satan that you’re willing to sacrifice your life in fiery suicidal jihad to get your 72 virgins, but you’ve just been holding back strapping on that bomb vest… until you discovered that some other crazy Muslim you’ve never heard of was threatened with a box of caterpillars. Because that is just the final straw! BOOM!
(edited for content because this is, uh, a family-friendly blog)

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.

03 May 2009

Jack Kemp, RIP

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.