Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Isn't that special. The video clip I pointed to of Rahm Emmanuel explaining that free markets don't work and that only a socialist centrally planned Marxist economy under the direction of his enlightened associates can serve America has now been pulled by the good folks at YouTube.

I thought that an fine upstanding revolutionary like Mr. Emmanuel would be able to stand behind his words.

My mistake.

Try this:

In His Own Words

Unleash the Local Dogs

I watched Sarah Palin the last couple of days and wondered what the “professionals” of the campaign have done to her. The freshness, the spontaneity and the candor that sold her the first week have been stifled and what is coming across is an automaton programmed to respond with a paean of credit for John McCain rather than a sincere expression of Sarah Palin.

I’m on board with American Thinker here:

All Politics is Local

It is about retail politics. It is about the one-on-one of small-town America, not the nuance of East Coast policy wonks. It is about being real and Sarah has the ability to be real. No one seems to notice that relative absence in her counter-part. He is largely under the radar, except when he commits another serial gaffe and then it is written off with a grin by the media as “Joe being Joe.”

Over at American Spectator the redoubtable Bill Kristol offers some good advice:

Here's the Solution

She has to be allowed to meet people, shake hands and then prove that she has a mind of her own. Unleash her and let her speak rather than simply regurgitating something about how great McCain has been or will be. Let McCain and the campaign operatives handle that function. She has skill, charm, undeniable intellect and a warmth that will surely disarm the viciousness of the left while endearing her to heartland America.

Sarah energized the campaign, now she must be allowed to be herself and contribute to the possibility of victory. Dance with the girl you brought, John.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Where We Are Today and Where They Want Us

I was impressed with Peggy Noonan’s column Saturday in the WSJ. She voiced the frustration of America at the stupidity of government quite clearly. Nothing illustrates the incompetence of government better than the fiasco we encounter every time we go to an airport. She segues half-way through the piece into a dialog of the inanity of American politics today and is equally perspicacious.

The Unfairness of Fairness

Notice the relationship of our position today to the emotional concept of “fairness.” We have abandoned the absolute truth that life isn’t “fair.” We feel, we don’t think, that life should be fair, but it can only be made fair if we ignore realities and the differences between people. Fairness is the underlying concept of Marx. It is the idea that everyone deserves everything that society can provide. It is the principle that all should be leveled if life is to be fair.

Now, watch this piece in which Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) portrays one of the drones of Atlas Shrugged, blithely explaining to us that free markets don’t work and only his interpretation of government can properly allocate the resources produced by individuals so that we insure fairness:

What he is doing there is telling us that he has the yoke to place over us and that we should be glad to accept it for the good of everyone. We won’t let entrepreneurship and hard-work operate freely to determine who gets what. That is unfair. He will, with his cohorts, determine the regulations that will control that. There will be no penalty for the greedy and no reward for the industrious, because that will be unfair.

His language is so much more nuanced than Lenin’s, but the elixir he is selling is not a bit different. Santayana told us about learning the lessons of history and the penalty for failure in that endeavor. Here we see a willful ignoring of the lessons of the 20th Century and the communist experience in nations around the world as he tells us what is economic “truth.”

This is going to get really interesting.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

When Is It Censorship?

I commented a few weeks ago on the Sarah Palin flap as the left attempted to paint her as a literary Carrie Nation roaring into the Wasilla Public Library with an axe to trample on public access to information. There is no doubt in my library-experienced mind that she was exercising due diligence with regard to the policies of an agency under her executive management.

Now we’ve got this in-depth piece over at American Thinker:

Considerations of Censorship

There are some excellent observations there, but some fundamental misconceptions as well. The most important observation is that libraries inevitably have limitations in the size and scope of their collections. There are physical limits to facilities and there are financial limits to their acquisitions. Collections must be flexible and reflect new materials and they must also be purged periodically of out-dated, unused, or deteriorated items. Choices, as the passive voice might say, must be made. Librarians make them.

But, AT is wrong with his assumption that librarians, as a profession, or the American Library Association, as a policy voice for libraries, are some sort of left-leaning, ideology driving censorship body. They might be, but in large measure they aren’t. The important distinction here is that public libraries are institutions of local government. As such they are under local political control. The citizens of the community drive the collection criteria rather than the cabal of librarians.

Libraries can be organized as independent districts, such as the one I served as Trustee for, or they can be branches of local municipal, county or regional government. Either way, it isn’t the librarian that sets policy but the elected or appointed citizens who represent the community.

Let there be no doubt that in an ultra-conservative community, the collection will seldom include avant garde liberal alternative life-style materials. And similarly, you can be quite certain that in an extremely liberal community there will be a shortage of evangelical religious tomes on the shelves. It is a reflection of the community preference, not a lock-step ALA ideology.

Most libraries are responsive to patron requests for unavailable materials either through inter-library loans or outright purchase in response to requests. In Colorado Springs we budgeted more than $120K per year for request fulfillment. There also will be a clear and detailed policy and procedure to deal with challenges to collection materials. If someone thinks a book should be removed there will be a detailed, usually multi-tiered process to provide satisfaction to the requestor. You usually won’t get the material removed, but you will know the rationale for retention.

The bottom line is that dating back to Franklin and Jefferson the availability of information, even controversial works, in public libraries has been a bed-rock of our democracy. Some items in the library you will like and some you will disagree with, but that is the key to freedom.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Me Too, Me Too

So, how long must you wear a bracelet and how much must it mean to you if you have to read the name on it to know who it is?

What Elephant?

You know the cliché, the one about not seeing the elephant in the room? That is the situation we’ve got with the Presidential race. Read this piece by Leonard Pitts:

Judged on the Content of His Character

Mr. Pitts makes several good points, but misses the elephant.

The “Bradley Effect” is what we now call it; the fact that racism still lies beneath the placid surface of America. It was identified when Tom Bradley drew a lot fewer votes in his California governor's race than the polls had predicted. The analyses concluded that it was because people say one thing then do another in the privacy of the voting booth. No one will tell a pollster that they will vote against someone because of their race, but they will.

The conclusion was that racism was operative and while people profess to be egalitarian they really harbor deep-rooted aversion to black candidates which they won't publicly admit. The reality, however, seems less a question of race than a more complex mixture of qualifications, political maneuvering, regional tendencies and changing positions over time. Obama won his party's primary race by a narrow margin and there were a lot of cross-over votes in open primary states coupled with a lot of Clinton aversion within his own party. Yet, the race issue is on the table.

The elephant might be ignored by most Americans, but unlike the routine analogy for the statement, the problem here is that one side of the debate doesn’t care about the elephant and the other side continually points and shouts that they are introducing the elephant to the process.

The elephant of racism is irrelevant to this election except that Sen. Obama repeatedly keeps pointing to it. It is as though he has worn an outrageously funny hat into a serious meeting and then takes umbrage when nobody points out that he has a funny hat atop his head. He accuses his opponent of probably planning to mention that he doesn’t look like all of the men on our currency, in anticipation of the event which had never occurred. He raps about, “oh and did you notice, I’m black…” as though we hadn’t noticed.

The core issue isn’t that we aren’t still, somewhere deep within out national psyche, racist. We are. The point is that if Sen. Obama’s side expects that we should ignore the elephant, not bring it up, recognize that it doesn’t make a difference, then he has to stop bleating about it. For most of us, it doesn’t make a difference. The difference comes when Pitts, Jackson, Wright, Sharpton, Farrakhan, and Obama keep bringing it up as justification for other short-comings.

There surely is an elephant in the room, but he isn’t bothering anybody and he won’t start to interfere unless someone keeps bringing him up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Santa Came Early

There is no downside to the Paulson/Bernanke plan if you are a Congress-critter. It is the whole list of goodies from Santa and you don’t have to wait until Christmas. It doesn’t matter which side of the proposal you are on. You’ve got lots to love.

Consider some of these:

  1. You get a chance to pontificate at length on anything even remotely connected to the economy.
  2. You get to characterize the other party as the cause. It doesn’t matter that the problem took three decades to mature and that both parties occupied the White House and the Capital during the gestation. It was the other guy who did it.
  3. You can posture as part of the corrective action. If you support the plan, you saved the economy. If you oppose the plan you defended the taxpayer.
  4. You get to create a new class struggle terminology. The arguments of “working poor” versus “wealthiest x percent” are so yesterday. Now you’ve got Wall Street versus Main Street—one side an esoteric bunch of self-serving financiers taking profit from the downtrodden proletariat. The other side, the common man struggling to eke out a living for his downtrodden and oppressed family about to be ousted from their McMansion which they haven’t made a payment on since Bertha had the fifth baby.
  5. You find justification for building on the pretense that it is the government's job to establish fairness in compensation. Just as you’ve bleated about minimum wage for years, now you can grab at the other end and cap the compensation of free market corporations on top executives. Tell me, how can that have a single impact of any sort on the mortgage market and credit availability? Tell me also how that will foster anything but lack of ambition among the most talented managers and mediocrity in our industry?
  6. You get to create a huge bureaucracy that will provide you campaign support for decades while simultaneously moving America down the inexorable path toward socialism. It will be the perfect political solution, an entity which contributes absolutely nothing to the economy while simultaneously providing you the Congress-critter with an over-sight finger in the total pie. You gain tremendous impact and increase the ability to replace expertise with emotionalism and pandering in the decision process.
  7. You have access to an incredible unforeseen pool of money which you can dispense to whomever will offer you the most immediate gratification whether it is in votes, kickbacks, power, or comforts. Dispense a quick “stimulus” check or two to only those likely to support you and you will be assured of victory.

Take a look at this comparison list from the two Presidential contenders:

• Create a bipartisan board to monitor the payout to distressed lenders.
• Track who receives money and give the public access to those transactions, including on the Internet.
• Cap executive compensation for rescued companies to no more than what the top government official receives.
• Ban unrelated measures, or earmarks, attached to the legislation.
• Provide a way for taxpayers to recover the money.
• Cap executive compensation of companies that receive money.
• Create a bipartisan board to provide oversight of and accountability on the bailout.
• Return any profits made by the government; institute a new fee on financial services to repay the government.
• Provide assistance to help to families struggling to stay in their homes.

Tell me how some of these proposals are going to do anything at all for the problem. Notice how some of those programs are grabbing at the money to dispense to individuals. Notice how some of the proposals alter the free market forever.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Must Read

This is an absolute must read. Lots of links, lots of insight, lots of information, lots of history:

Lenin, Trotsky, Alinsky, Obama, etc

History Lesson

Two days ago Brigid recalled the Spanish Inquisition:The Spanish Inquisition

Of course, she tempered the terrible experience with a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich, making the event all the more horrible by contrast.

For those unfamiliar, I offer you this:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Should Not Be Unsupervised

I’m a strong believer that stupidity is the dominant gene in our society. Certainly as an observer of the political process it would be difficult to come to any other conclusion. Watching the current campaign provides all the evidence one would need for verification of that thesis.

Occasionally, however, I’m bowled over by dynamic evidence from outside of the political realm. Then the thesis becomes a universal truth. Take a look at this:

An Immodest Proposal

Let us start with some basics. Man is an omnivore. We can subsist on a wide ranging diet, but as we evolved, we were always heavily dependent upon meat. We aren’t carnivores, but we do tend toward that diet which is high in animal protein. We live at the top of the food chain. While some beasties might do us harm, they do it only under provocation and not as a principal dietary source. We prevail because of strength, intelligence, an opposable thumb and the capacity to use tools. Without those attributes we become Dennis Kucinich. Few would want to suffer that fate.

That is why organizations like PETA are so ludicrous. They are more of a Saturday Night Live skit than a believable action group. Read the letter that went to Ben & Jerry. Note with sympathy and tear-filled eye the plight of the denied “baby cows” and read between the lines to consider how they would rank relative to the result of the recommendation on the nutrition of the “baby babies.”

Stupidity is dominant. No doubt about it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Objective Examination

I was born in Chicago. I grew up there, went to school there, commuted from one side of the city to the other for my undergraduate college years and then left for the USAF when I was twenty-one. I lived in the city, not the suburbs. I watched the city as it changed and evolved. That is why I look at Sen. Obama and his “life-work” of community organizing with such deep skepticism.

Here is an excellent summary of Chicago and the modern history of low-income housing projects:

Chicago and Obama Explained

I was born the same year as Obama’s mother. As I grew up, my family occasionally took me to the Southside “Back of the Yards” neighborhood where my father’s older brother owned a small deli and candy store. He lived in the back of the store and always wore a union button on his tweed cap. It was a rough neighborhood that was immersed in the smell of the stockyards. When I got older, I would know that it was the home of Mayor Richard J. Daley, the father of the incumbent mayor of the city. It was union workers, teamsters and butchers, along with all of the enforcement, corruption and violence that the terms connote in the ‘40s.

Occasionally we visited my father’s older sister. She was an old maid, in the terminology of the period. She lived in the Hyde Park Hotel on 55th Street. It was a formerly “Gold Coast” neighborhood that had fallen on hard times during the depression and now was an oasis of bohemians and University of Chicago intellectuals trying to emulate New York, surrounded by a very depressed, crime-ridden African-American ghetto. Sen. Obama’s neighborhood and district in the Illinois senate.

As I became a teen-ager, the Interstate highways ripped through the heart of the city. Literally. Lines were drawn on a map, neighborhoods were condemned under eminent domain laws and people were unceremoniously displaced. Bull-dozers cut through homes, stores, schools and churches with impunity. But, they didn’t cut through the public housing projects. They were sacrosanct. Homes could be sacrificed, but the projects couldn’t.

By the time I was in college, on the Southside, the collapse of the projects was apparent to anyone with eyes. The first constructions, like Cabrini Green and the State Street developments were jungles of drugs, crime and despair. Despite the evidence, new construction was continuous. Ghetto tenements were bull-dozed and modern high-rises thrust skyward, beautiful and clean…but only for a few years. Then the grass and landscaping was dead, windows on the façade were boarded up and even the police feared to enter. Like the infantryman on Omaha Beach, a white guy had a fifteen minute life expectancy at night in the projects.

Why? Examine the American Thinker article at the link. The dynasty of Daley and the network of community organizers whose very stock in trade is human misery were making money by building. There is no risk in building housing projects. They gain the land through eminent domain. They build under government contracts. They are funded by huge federal grants. Oversight is in on the take. And the end-product doesn’t need to be sold or marketed. It simply is. No investment required. No risks taken. Huge profits rendered. Political control insured. Community dependence guaranteed.

You’ve gotta love it! Let’s franchise the operation and take it national. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Burning Books

None take umbrage so quickly at the threat of denying books to the masses than the American left and their legal arm, the ACLU. They do have limits in their pursuit of total access, such as their attachment to the totally oxymoronic “Fairness Doctrine” for broadcasting, but when it comes to libraries and materials that might support the “unusual” in life-styles or the destructive in political theory, they are adamantly in favor of the First Amendment.

That’s why it was predictable when it was acknowledged that Sarah Palin was a practicing Christian serving as mayor in a small town that they would dig into supposed transgressions of that nebulous line between church and state. They announced that they had a most egregious example of abuse of power. She demanded, they alleged, that the town librarian ban books then fired her when she resisted. Sounds like reasonable outrage to me.

But, the facts did not support that allegation at all. First, the accusation crumbled when the list of books to be banned post-dated the request for banning. Damnably hard to ban a book that isn’t yet a book. Then it was confirmed that she didn’t ask to ban anything. She merely exercised her supervisory responsibility over the library and inquired about how such requests are handled. No smoking gun there. Finally, she didn’t relieve the librarian in relation to that incident, but simply in a routine change of administration policy exercised by all government executives requested the resignation of all cabinet level officials in the city government. She rehired the librarian immediately. Not a thing there at all.

Here’s a detailed and related account:

What Library Boards Do

I had the privilege of serving for ten years on the seven member board of trustees of the Pikes Peak Library District which serves Colorado Springs and the surrounding community. For three of those years I was board president. The district was an independent library district with its own taxing authority and not a part of city or county government. We had 14 branches, an annual budget just under $20 million, 150 employees and more than one million items in our collection.

You can be certain that we dealt with requests for removal of books from the collection. We had a clear policy of community responsiveness and a specified review procedure. We also found that we never removed any item from the collection except for issues of durability (shoddy materials, binding or failure to stand up to library handling) or clearly identifiable factual errors in non-fiction works. We were not the library arm of Focus on the Family, but you can be certain that they attended board meetings quite often.

During my tenure we lost our executive director—the library professional who administered the entire system. Pikes Peak has a tradition of being a stepping stone on the career path of exceptional library directors. While I was there we saw directors leave to take over San Francisco, Boston and Columbus OH districts. I served on the national search committee to select a replacement director.

We very clearly asked each and every candidate to annunciate their policy and their ideological position on removal of challenged materials. Every single one! We would have been remiss had we failed to do so. We were adamantly against denial of access to adults of anything published based on religious belief or moral judgments. We were strongly supportive of safeguarding children, but expected parental involvement in that process. We didn’t burn books. But we also did not spell that position out to potential directors and thereby risk biasing their response to interview questions. We asked about book banning and we needed to do that.

It seems very clear to this experienced library trustee that Mayor Palin was doing exactly the right thing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Who Are You?

Last night while watching Texas mercilessly pummel Rice in an almost embarrassing reaffirmation that there are significant differences in NCAA division 1-A teams, I began to pay close attention to a series of commercials which really weren’t selling any product. They were sponsored by an insurance company, but no pitch was being made beyond the discrete display of a corporate logo in the lower left corner of the closing screenshot.

The series of videos were commentaries by a series of Latinos, describing their lives, their struggles and their accomplishments overcoming hardships but always as part of America. They were remarkable stories and they poignantly highlighted the pride of a group in both their ethnic heritage and in their chosen nation. If anyone harbored negative stereotypes of a people, the short spots went a long way toward challenging them.

This morning I went to the web site to see what it was all about. I found that it was a celebration of Hispanic History Month. Previously there had been a Black History series. Take a look and spend a minute or two to check some of the videos here:

Remembering Your Heritage

We get caught up all too easily in emotions when someone raises the question of immigration. We bundle up an entire category of people in a convenient package that reinforces what we’ve heard or anecdotally experienced then solve a complex problem with a simplistic, knee-jerk solution. That does nothing for the problem and debases us as Americans.

SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) asked me after one of the commercials last night if I felt that I had a heritage or cultural link similar to the ones displayed by these people in the videos. I thought about it for a minute or two and considered my background. I’m an only child from parents whose siblings had few children, so I don’t come from a close-knit extended family. I left home when I graduated from college and entered the military never to return to the locale of my aunts, uncles and few cousins except for a half dozen holiday visits during the first few years. They’ve not thought of me for a long time. We’ve got no linkage.

My parents were from two different European regions, neither of them tightly connected to an ethnic culture, language or even cuisine. We were a distinctly American family and in large measure proud of our assimilation. No traditions or heritage there.

But, then I realized I did have a heritage, a culture and an extended family probably more proud, loyal and select than I realized. These were the group that embraced the same values which I did, which believed in the same things, which voluntarily chose the same paths, endured the same hardships and dangers all for something larger than themselves. We had come together and bonded of our own choice rather than as accident of birth. Over the years we gather regularly and even if we haven’t been in contact for a decade or more, we sit and talk, resuming conversations as though no time had intervened.

After consideration, it was easy to respond to my wife that yes, I did have a culture and heritage. I was a fighter pilot, an American fighting man, a member of the warrior class and we were a proud people. I realized that I was damned fortunate.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Omen of Things to Come?

Several blogs are buzzing this morning with Susan Estrich’s apparent rapture over Todd Palin, and rightfully so. Here’s the item she had on top yesterday:

Back From the Dark Side?

The important thing to note in this is not the school-girl rapture over a manly hunk, but the careful undercutting of the Messiah and all that he represents. Estrich is no conservative, neo or otherwise. She has always been hard-core liberal and at the highest level in the Democratic Party apparatus. She was the national campaign manager for Michael Dukakis during his presidential run. Despite that ideological misstep one has to admit that she is undeniably intelligent.

If she so clearly articulates the viewpoint of Obama’s elitist, chardonnay-and-brie, Ivy League-and-Hollywood positioning then it is significant. If she understands the underlying belief of the American people that they seek realism in their candidates, we have a huge acknowledgment of the possibility of a continual deterioration of the once insurmountable lead of the man who would be king. The low tolerance for posturing and pandering is coming into view.

The accelerating unmasking of this pretender to the throne as he increasingly resorts to innuendo, mis-truths, and sound-bite negativism has opened the door for even the most inveterate liberal political minds to come back from the dark side.

Try This On For Size

Think I'm too hard on the slime merchants who have sought to degrade our culture to even lower levels? I'm convinced I'm not nearly disgusted enough to fit this:

Something They are Proud of?

Would any rational, civilized person really think that this raises the dialogue?

Skill and Cunning

Brigid, the Celtic Warrior Princess at Home on the Range triggered a flying flashback this AM with a brief anecdote about stall recoveries and a somewhat unresponsive student.

My questionable reward for a combat tour very early in my military career was a transfer out of glamorous fighters into the very pedestrian world of primary flight instruction in a T-37 “Tweet” at Williams AFB. One of my students had been very apprehensive about the upcoming scheduled first spin instruction flight. I had anticipated and showed him a spin on the flight prior to demonstrate that it wouldn’t hurt a bit.

The day came and after some routine air work we climbed up to spin altitude, did the pre-spin checks and first did some approaches to spins where recovery is initiated prior to full spin development. These went well, so I told him I would demo one and then he would do his first spin and prescribed recovery, a rote procedure we had briefed in detail. He was ready.

His turn and he entered the spin. I then talked him through the recovery. Stick full aft, rudder and ailerons neutral, throttles to idle. Determine direction of spin. Now full opposite rudder. Wait one turn and stick full forward and immediately to a position slightly aft of neutral—bounce it off the forward stop. He hit the forward stop and locked his elbow like an over-center brace.

As advertised, we flipped over into an inverted stabilized spin. We were both hanging from our harness in the top of the canopy. He didn’t let go. I started laughing. He said, “I’m going to be sick.” I suggested he first recover the airplane by easing off the forward pressure. He repeated his intention to revisit breakfast. I told him I had the airplane…and, please open your oxygen mask on the side away from me!

I pulled the stick back, settling us in our seats, then did a normal spin recovery. As we started out of the ensuing dive with airspeed building back up, his breakfast came back up as well. That is when superior skill and cunning was required along with remarkable aeronautical skills.

I watched the bolus of Cheerios erupt from the far side of his helmet. Deftly I applied forward stick to impose zero G on the airplane. The floating bubble of breakfast moved forward and up from the stick area. Then with an application of right aileron and a bit of right rudder to induce a skid, I placed the floating mass over his lap and returned to positive G to deposit it lightly on his left knee where it could do no harm.

It seems doubtful that he ever really appreciated the airmanship I had demonstrated before him that morning.

(He went on to graduate from pilot training and flew a full and successful career. I doubt he ever did any inverted spins again.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

To What End?

We want government to solve problems for us. We ignore the fact that government solutions aren’t that at all but rather laboratory Petri dishes for the culture in which the law of unintended consequences is available for viewing. The solutions are not solutions at all but simplistic band-aids in response to people clamoring for some sort of ill-defined “justice”…and for the incumbent to get re-elected. Ronald Reagan said it so concisely that it is a wonder more people didn’t learn from it. “Government isn’t the solution, it is the problem.”

Yet, if we expect government to fix things for us, you might believe that we would have a system which would encourage the best and brightest to devote a portion of their lives to public service. You would have to believe that giving of your time, your labor and your treasure in the quest to gain the public’s confidence and trust would be a rewarding experience. Much like military service, you would expect the recipients to be grateful and respectful when you seek to govern. You might expect it, but increasingly it is apparent that you would be wrong.

Consider what is going on in the Presidential campaign. The question that immediately comes to mind is why would anyone ever subject themselves to this sort of vicious, petty, malignant sort of discrediting? Why would anyone of intellect, talent and experience want to give up a successful, respected life and enter the public arena to be the subject of lies, distortions and innuendo designed not to illuminate but to drag the candidate as deep into the morass of disgusting behavior as possible.

The justification is supposedly “vetting” of the individual. But that would be an act of verification of credentials, not of building a web of distortions regarding your past and the past of everyone you love. It should reasonably be a check that you really did get that degree, that you haven’t been convicted of a felony, that you are not clinically insane. That would be reasonable and one would tolerate that quite nicely.

But, that isn’t what we’ve got, is it? Frankly I’m disgusted at this carnival. I am sick and tired of the National Enquirer form of journalism that permeates even the major networks and metro newspapers. This is sophomoric to the extreme. It’s gotcha at the level of elections to captain of the cheerleading squad.

It is increasingly irrelevant to the debate on doing anything for our society and nation. More importantly, it is counterproductive to what should be the goal of making service in your government a desirable goal for the best among us.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Economics For Sociologists

Let us say that you are in the investment business. You loan money for mortgages. You charge competitive interest rates, which mean you must insure that people who borrow from you will pay you back. In order to gain that confidence you demand that borrowers have income adequate to continue their lives and meet this additional obligation. You also check that the prospective borrower has built a history of meeting similar obligations. The concept is simple.

But, there are many people who do not meet your requirements. They haven’t had jobs for a long time. They seek to assume more obligations than they can reasonably fulfill. They have defaulted in the past. They don’t qualify. You deny them loans. The concept remains simple.

Enter government. Why are you excluding people from the American dream! You are denying them home ownership because they have unfortunate circumstances in their background like unemployment or failure to pay their debts. We might even begin to see patterns of racist discrimination in your loan policies. You MUST provide loans to these people or we will take you to federal courts. But, have no fear, we will create a huge government agency to indemnify you against risk. You make the loans to these bad risks and we will guarantee them to you so you won’t lose money.

But, you can’t hold these loans can you? You would really like to move them through your hands quickly because you’ve got some apprehension about the government program. First there is marketability. You can’t sell them as bad credit loans, or high risk investments. Let’s call them “sub-prime” mortgages. That should sell. It sounds like they aren’t quite the best cut, but they might still be USDA Choice. Oh, and because they are sub-prime you might charge an extra percent or two of interest. Win-win situation.

The credit risky beat a path to your door. The same patterns that made them default in the past prevail. They want more than they can afford. They beseech you to adjust those down-payments away, defer interest until later, roll underwriting costs into the principal, and loss-lead them down the path of home ownership. In a booming real estate market where prices are rising it is feasible and besides, you are government indemnified and subsidized.

Entire businesses spring up mixing and stirring “instruments” of investment to somehow convince those few who still engage in the arcane practice of “due diligence” that the risk is abated and the profits are going to be high. A bag of bad loans is less risky than a single one. Some can default but most will prevail, at least until you move them out of your portfolio to the next entity in the chain. Then rising energy costs rear their head. Industries cut back. Jobs are out-sourced or simply eliminated. Home sales slow. Housing values stabilize and in many markets decline. Financing is upside down on homes and adjustable rate contracts are due to adjust. Defaults abound.

Here is where it all started:

Mix Finance and Social Engineering, Stir Well

A free market works magnificently. Intelligent people understand that a price is what a willing buyer and a willing seller agree upon. It isn’t about what is socially correct or what makes someone feel good. It isn’t about what you want, but about what you can afford. When the government steps in to the fray and confuses economic reality with sociological visions, disaster is looming.

But, who benefits from this situation? Take a look here and read it slowly. If necessary follow some links, but return to the page to insure you get to the end where you notice who got the big political contributions for making this happen:

Smoking Guns Found Here

What absolutely should amaze you is how the snake oil salesman can stand up and keep a straight face while linking this financial crisis to the Bush administration. I’ll be fair and accept only a peripheral link (but a firm one) to the Clinton policies on mortgages and note that it goes back farther with roots in the New Deal and the Great Society.

The belief that government solves problems and creates some sort of economic justice is the root cause.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Minister Without Portfolio

Hubris is the word. He would be king, but he’s worried that some will feel he has no capability to rule. They point to his brief career in the public eye. They comment that they cannot discover the things that he has done. Being is fine, but doing is better. He counters by selection, prior to coronation, of a regent—an old man who has been in government for many years. He has not built his own business, nor has he created his own wealth, nor has he managed any distinct projects. He has governed. He has participated with a large committee of others to create systems of words which confuse and confound while creating dependency upon the government. Therefore he can govern, whispering in his ear while the young man who would be king learns the ropes.

One of the things to catch up on is what the rest of the world is like. He has many strongly held positions and some question whether they have any relationship to facts. He embraces the will of the people who want to be liked and they therefore like him because he promises to make others like us. He does what the people, who know little about the situation, tell him they want to do. He calls it democracy and therefore he is a Democrat. The people wish it and he will achieve it. But first, he must gain credibility that he knows what he is talking about. He must go to the mountain and see what can be seen.

That’s when he goes too far. He forgets that he is not yet king. He has no mandate, no authority, no power to talk, to ask, to plead, to cajole, to promise. Yet, he goes and he tells the leader of another government what to do. That’s hubris.

Exceeding His Grasp

He wishes to be king, but he freely explains to a developing nation’s leadership that his kingdom is currently weak, its leader is reviled. He describes his land as restless and unhappy with their current condition. He bargains with someone who has no authority and fails to recognize that he himself has none. Rather than exhibiting the demeanor of a potentially powerful monarch, he whines to the other government that unless he becomes king, they will fail as he wills his own country to fail. They must wait for his ascendency before they act.

But in the process he fails to recognize that even should his elevation to the throne occur, he will not have his advisors immediately available to deal with fulfilling his promises. Maybe he should have taken his regent with him to these discussions to caution him against hubris. They didn’t tell him that just as he might not become king; the people of the other nation might not keep their thrones.

Alas this kingship business is complicated. Why didn’t they tell him about these limitations when he was taking it to the streets of the principality of Daley the Munificent, lord of Chicago?

There is so much to learn. Why couldn’t he have been a mayor or a governor first before becoming an heir apparent?

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Hidden McCain

Before discounting this piece in the Wall Street Journal because it was written by Karl Rove (AKA Mephistopheles, AKA Machiavelli, AKA Beelzebub,) note that it simply recounts the stories told by Bud Day.

I know Col. Day. He's an annual attendee at our River Rats Reunion (AKA Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Ass'n). He is one of the most highly decorated military men I have had the privilege to meet as well as one of the most courageous and most patriotic. He is also unassuming, hard-working, and possessed of the highest sense of integrity you will ever encounter. He's the one telling the tales, Rove is merely the messenger.

The Stories Not Told

These tales don't go into policy nuances. They aren't about a vision for the future. They aren't grist for the campaign mill. They simply deal with the character of a man as it was displayed in the service of his country in a war that the left disagreed with and actively sought to undermine.

It is worth taking into consideration.

In Depth Unraveling of the News

Gray Lady Down must not have been about a submarine, increasingly it would be more applicable as the unraveling of credibility of the New York Times.

When a blog does an in-depth, point-by-point critique of a major NYT propaganda blitz, it is worth forwarding for you consideration.

Give yourself ten minutes to peruse this:

Dissecting the NYT

These people are reaching hysterical levels and the public IS noticing!

Be Very Afraid

Redistribution of wealth from the rich to the euphemistically titled “less fortunate” is an accepted part of American life. We’ve got several generations now which have been indoctrinated into the belief that it is the proper role of government to equalize wealth. The relationship of that to the Marxist mantra of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” seems to be overlooked.

But, take a look at this chilling commentary from a few days ago at Investors Business Daily, hardly an hysterical right or left wing political blog:

We Will Teach Your Children

The goals and accomplishments of Public Allies seem pretty apparent. The linkage to Barak Obama and Michelle seems credibly established. The proposal, if elected, to establish this Universal Public Service program has been stated several times in the campaign. I noted one of them a couple of months ago and likened it to the Hitler Jugend.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ready On Day None

It goes on and each day seems to become more depressing. Remember the platform of running under a new politics? He wasn’t going to buy into the disgusting practices of dirty politics. He was going to focus on issues and win because he was fresh, honest, above the fray, and focused on solutions to the nation’s problems. That was then and this is now:

The Reason Disclosed

How can someone assert that they are sticking with issues when they degrade their opponent because of his maturity? You know of course that maturity is a euphemism we experienced folks employ rather than age. Yes, the Messiah exhibits a less than charitable moment in his campaign by noting that John McCain is so old and out of touch, he can’t even send an email. How primitive. How retro. How Luddite.

But, that wasn’t what the fact was about John McCain. He knows very well how to send an email. He does however ask that his wife Cindy or his secretary type it for him. The reason is clear. The daily entertainments of his captors in Hoa Lo Prison for five and a half years of incarceration involved such things as “rope tricks” that dislocate shoulders and blunt instrument blows that break fingers…repeatedly. A few years of that and your digital dexterity begins to degrade.

Sen. Obama, however, doesn’t go that deep in his discussion of the issues. What issue would that be, Senator? Will you establish a government indoctrination program to teach old people to email? Will you rehabilitate the elderly whose fingers are gnarled from hard work and arthritis so that they can once again move with the grace that you do on the basketball court? Will I be able to make a half-court three-pointer after an indoctrination paid for by the wealthiest one percent? Most importantly, how low can you stoop in your campaign?

Might mention along the way to your Veep candidate that the wheels on the side of a chair generally indicate a reluctance to rise to a public occasion.

Let’s take these two and give them a red phone, a box full of release codes and then sit them down to negotiate with Chavez, Putin and Ahmadinejad. Yeah, they’d be ready. Wonder if they could explain the Bush Doctrine without a blizzard of words.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

What ABC Cut Out

More on the first segment of the Palin interview:

Full Transcript

Scroll quickly through and note the bold face indicating original dialogue which was edited out by ABC.

Makes you wonder why. Were they trying to shape your opinion?

Snark Condescends

I confess to not watching network evening news. Why would anyone? I’m not sure exactly when I got turned off. It might have been Walter Cronkite intoning the huge defeats of Tet in 1968…despite the facts that the NVA got their collective clocks cleaned from MR-IV to the DMZ. The defeat he extrapolated was because they demonstrated that they could attack anywhere in South Vietnam. They would be losing, but the fact that they could attack made it a victory.

Or maybe it was the State of the Union address one year where I happened to be watching Tom Brokaw’s network. After each sentence of the President, Brokaw would do a voice-over commentary to explain to me what the President had just stated in plain English. That sort of condescension wasn’t what I felt I needed when seeking news of current events. Particularly if I was watching the event live.

Possibly it was Dan Rather’s demise in trying to justify his band-aided together coverage of President Bush’s Texas ANG service with clearly phony documents. It sort of filled the blanks since “Courage!” and “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” He had left the building.

Perky Katie Couric needs no additional commentary.

So, not having kept up with network “news” for at least a decade, I was somewhat taken aback when I tuned in the Palin interview and saw the aged Charlie Gibson. He had “matured” as we say. Older, more portly, decidedly avuncular, bundled against the Alaskan autumn in a rumpled tweed sport coat, fortified by an drab gray pull-over sweater and with reading glasses perched low on his not-so-chiseled nose. He looked professorial. He oozed expertise and knowledge. He was patrician, but also Solomonic. He was wise and fair, able to judge, educate and illuminate. He was here to uncover for us the charade that is Sarah Palin.

He raised condescension to a level I didn’t think possible. In a flat, monotone he posed his questions. It wasn’t, however, a quest for knowledge. It was a probe for chinks in armor. He sought not to illuminate, but to intimidate and embarrass. Did he succeed? Each of us will come away with his own interpretation of how she did.

I thought she looked a bit cautious, and she clearly got caught off guard with the meaningless “gotcha” of “Do you support the Bush Doctrine…?”

He pedantically explained that it meant we could pre-emptively attack a force which posed a significant threat to us. How nice of the gentleman. But, in the process, he revealed that he had little understanding of the broad policy implications of the Bush Doctrine. He did not even understand the meaning of any alternative. When Gov. Palin replied, he dismissed it as a “blizzard of words”…can’t he focus?

I wonder what Charlie would recommend if we knew that a rogue nation or trans-national fundamentalist terrorist group had a nuclear weapon, a chemical attack, or a biological disaster ready to unleash against New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles and a dozen other cities? Would he chivalrously wait out the first blow before destroying that enemy? Does he believe that the Soviet Union was deterred because they didn’t think we would ever pre-empt them? They squandered a lot of rubles on unneeded defenses if that hadn’t been our policy until George W. Bush.

Charlie wondered if Gov. Palin would support US forces entering Pakistan to ferret out Taliban and al Qaida operatives without Paki approval. Did he miss that Obama proposed a full-blown invasion of the area about six months ago? Or does he know that the US must grovel before rogue nations seeking approval for our policies or else they won’t like us? I wonder if Charlie would interview Teddy Roosevelt.

He was hoist upon his rusted petard, however, when he snarkily asked if she thought she was sending her oldest son, Track, on a “mission from God.” The strong implication was one of reducing her to some sort of evangelical fundamentalist on a par with the Jihadists. She patiently explained that the reference came from Abraham Lincoln, speaking to departing troops during the Civil War.

Charlie cut to commercial.

Maybe the next episode will have him wearing a less tweedy professorial mien and demonstrating a lot more respect for the governor and his audience. But, I don’t think you can scour away the liberal elitist attitudes in a couple of minutes break time to change the video tape in the cameras. I think he is the epitome of snark in the main-stream media.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yeah, Right

The word is snarky. It’s a recent addition to the lexicon, but gaining acceptance rapidly. It refers to what used to be classified as satire, cynicism or ironic comments. It’s usually crude, and in our culturally degraded society always clearly understood and laughed at. Here’s an example:

The gesture looks totally innocuous. Simply an unself-conscious movement of a man speaking before a receptive audience. But the audience “gets” it. They respond instantaneously. And, then the give-away comes, the smirk, the smile, the self-satisfied grin that he executed the plan, got the reaction and retained deniability. That’s snarky.

Now, we’ve got another snark before us. You know what I’m talking about.

If this candidate is so incredibly intelligent and politically aware, how could he not relate that line in his script to the vice-presidential candidate of the other party? How could it not be deemed a sexist slap at the Republican ticket? Sarah Palin co-opted the lipstick franchise during her acceptance speech and even if Obama’s statement was taken at face value without malice, a politically astute individual would be well aware that danger lurked there. Clearly snarky.

Probably more important to the snarkishness is the context itself. Notice that in all of his stump speeches he continually demands that his opponents, whether Democratic nomination seekers or Republican general election opponents, take the high road and debate the issues. Yet, the content of the speeches is snarkiness. He belabors the injustices done to him, while slashing viciously at the enemy. He casts aspersions freely and addresses the issues, as he does in that clip, by simply reciting a litany of problems that the other side won’t talk about. Demonstrating awareness of the electorate’s concerns is fine, but listing them as a Christmas wish list is not positively debating or proposing feasible policies. It is snarky.

I’m increasingly coming to believe that except for a small cadre of converted faithful, the majority of Americans is recognizing the snark-meister. The majority is currently small, but a month ago it wasn’t a majority at all. As the clock winds down to November, I’m praying that the majority will continue to grow. The Presidency is not a snarky job.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Economic Justice This Way Comes

Occasionally a long read is required to get a clear understanding of exactly what the plan is:

Explaining the Terminology

That piece spells it out very clearly and in great detail.

If we don’t quickly figure out what is happening, we will be suffering very severe consequences for the foreseeable future—and foreseeing isn’t all that difficult when it can be anticipated to be quite short.

Anyone who tells you this election doesn’t matter simply fails to understand the gravity of the situation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Something Happening Here

Remember that 1968 anthem:

“There’s something happening here,
What it is, ain’t exactly clear…”?

Since the earth shook with the announcement of Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate, the usual, hysterical suspects of Sen. Obama’s new politics have been troweling slime onto their web sites at such a disgraceful rate that even the mainstream media are starting to gag at the stench.

They stumbled badly last Spring when MoveOn.org got their special discount rate for full page sleaze ads from the New York Times and were surprised when the nation was revulsed at the Gen. Betray Us argument. Why they didn’t mean anything nasty, it was just a joke. But, people didn’t like it.

They didn’t learn much from the experience. The smearing of Sarah continues apace. They seem to consider themselves above reproach as they load innuendo loaded pieces on top of outright falsehoods requiring, as Sen. Clinton so eloquently phrases it, “willful suspension of disbelief.” Yep, we’re expected to gobble it up and shake our heads at the outrage being foisted upon Americans by those nasty Republicans who do all the smearing that the left doesn’t engage in.

But what happened yesterday over at MSNBC? Did raw economic truth prevail over political expedience? Did they look at the ratings from the two conventions where MSNBC was suckling at the rear-most teat ratings-wise? Did they decide that pandering to the left with those two showboating prima donnas that couldn’t get along with each other even for a few minutes of live broadcast wouldn’t enhance advertising revenues? Was it a breakthrough for rational political discourse when Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews got dumped from prime time commentating to middle of over-night drowse time droning? It ain’t exactly clear.

Now, take a look at this full and detailed three page dissection of some major left-wing smears of Gov. Palin:

Detailed Refutation

That’s Newseek! That’s a core component of the MSM, not quite the socialist house-organ that Time is, but a close runner-up usually. What are they doing with rational coverage like that? Something’s happening here.

And how about this dissection of CNN’s mistruth reporting:

More of the Same

People are catching on. They are looking and questioning. Inevitably the perpetrators masking as journalists are being called out. Something’s happening here.

I hope that when it becomes exactly clear that it is a media trend that we can believe in.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

Onion Child

They call them onions—unbonded children with deeply disturbed personalities. The analogy is to an onion where you peel a layer off seeking to find the core. The layer comes off easily, only to reveal another layer. The children seem to be one thing, but when you break through the layer, whether it is attitude or behavior or emotion, you only discover that there is another layer which isn’t the core child at all. Layer after layer peels away, but before you find the core the onion is gone. Nothing of the essential child is there. It is a frightening concept and in large measure uncorrectable.

Today I was scanning the headlines on Drudge and came across a whole series:

My Muslim Faith

I Loved the Uniform

You Mean It Wouldn't Work?

I Was Just Joking

Of Course It Succeeded

It occurred to me that we are seeing the political equivalent of the onion child. Some of us have been suggesting, nay shouting from the roof-tops, that there is no “there” there. The man is all things to all people and in the process nothing to any of us. What will satisfy the crowd in front of him at the moment? Gov. Palin illustrated the point nicely last week with her comment regarding saying one thing in Scranton and another in San Francisco.

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on the Muslim faith comment. Freudian slip or verbal stumble, I really don’t think he’s vested in Islam. He’s had exposure, but I doubt that he embraces the Prophet. Who knows where he stands on Israel. That’s a layer I’ve peeled away.

But, do I think that he ever for one single instance in his life considered enlisting in the Army? Extremely doubtful. Would I buy that the reason he didn’t was that Vietnam was several years over and there simply wasn’t a good war for him to get involved in? How emphatically can I say no way? That is a layer that fell off without peeling. It simply rotted.

Did some rational economist or maybe just a third grade arithmetic teacher explain that rescinding the Bush tax cuts would cost jobs, depress the economy and reduce federal revenues further? Does this mean economic enlightenment or is it a loosened layer that wasn’t even close to the core belief that redistribution of wealth is his goal. What does he really plan to do on taxes? I mean besides taxing anyone who succeeds in America.

Has he finally grasped that a legal or Constitutional definition of life and the protections required from government are not theological issues but exactly what his desired pay grade is responsible for? Joking with throw-away lines in presidential debates is not a core strategy. Just another layer that looks like something but masks something else. Unable to come up with a core belief, he equivocates.

And, please, will anyone explain to me why his ego will not allow him to plainly and simply state that he was wrong and the military surge succeeded in achieving the military goals that were set for it? Can he not see that the success of the surge creates the necessary conditions to allow progress toward the political goals? Without it, no progress in that arena would be possible. All he would have to do is say that he wasn’t perfectly correct one time in his life. That would be some view of a core rather than just another layer.

But maybe the biggest peel job so far comes from the Jerusalem Post where they examine the truth behind the claims of jobs he might have done when he held the title:

Here's What I Could Have Done Had I Done Something

I’m thinking that in the next 56 days the layers will get thinner and the core will get smaller. By the first week of November I doubt that much onion will be left to probe.

Monday, September 08, 2008

One From the Heart

What a Concept

We’ve got more than our quota of incredible climate Cassandras in the US, but if you really want to stretch your solutions globally, go to that concentration of international heavy thinkers on the lower East Side of New Yawk City at the UN. There we’ve got an authentic Nobel Laureate, not Al Gore, who has the solution to global warming that can cure the climate, slim our population and make the undeveloped and starving people of the world like us again because we share their pain. It’s a win-win-win situation for us, the world and the cows.

Check this out:

Kill A Sacred Cow

Got that? Forego your place at the top of the food chain to cool the countryside. Give up your culture of carnivorous cuisine and follow the environmental friendly lead of Dennis Kucinich to the joys of vegan flatulence. Stop eating meat and we will save not only a lot of cows but probably all the polar bears as well.

But, if I stop eating meat will we have more corn for ethanol and tacos? I hope that would be a fringe benefit. If I’m not killing cattle will PETA go away? Wow, it gets better! If I don’t eat meat will I have to kill more fish and destroy the ocean eco-system? That wouldn’t be good.

Now, if I read this gentleman’s proposal correctly, but am hesitant to deprive myself of either Porterhouse or cheeseburgers could we maybe do some practical demonstrations of this concept in a ready-made laboratory? It appears from his name (and I don’t wish to be stereotyping or prejudiced) that he is of Indian descent. Why doesn’t he promote the immediate bovicide of all the revered cattle in his homeland. They aren’t being eaten, but they must be emitting a similar volume of methane as the prime beef in the feedlots of Kansas City.

We would have empirical evidence in short order of the efficacy of his theory and we’d also have cleaner streets throughout his homeland. Meanwhile we wouldn’t be putting Ruth’s Chris out of business.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Stepping On Toes

I’ve watched the blogs and listened to Hannity and Rush jabber incessantly about how John McCain isn’t a “true conservative.” They recite chapter and verse of John’s deviation from the true path of righteousness, meditating endlessly on the shortcomings and never seeing any justification for his apostasy. They’ve been stuck in a difficult situation. They know that one party or the other will win the election. They know that one option is absolutely abhorrent to their beliefs, yet they express reservations about whether the lesser evil is a viable choice. Compromise of their core belief is unthinkable, but abstinence from voting accomplishes nothing.

The key to understanding McCain, and one which it is difficult to comprehend, is that he is principled almost beyond political understanding. What that means is that he will do whatever he believes it takes to get progress on an issue. That inevitably means conflict with his own party. When he sees a problem, he works toward his best estimate of a solution even if it takes dealing with Ted Kennedy to get it done. That scares folks.

The reality of politics is that the “perfect” solution is too extreme for any problem. The only policy options that are available are the incremental, evolutionary, compromises that can gather a majority consensus. The result is the classical horse designed by a committee. Everyone gets something they want and it is always damaging to the resultant whole.

He recognized that "something" had to be done on immigration and no single thing could adequately address the problem. He bundled swipes at all of the things that needed to be done into a comprehensive plan which then was doomed because it supplied something for everyone to hate rather than something for everyone to approve. It would fail, but he pursued it in an attempt to get the dialog moving and develop understanding of how complex the problem is. He was vilified for the attempt and ostracized by the party faithful. It was much easier to scream “amnesty” than to debate the details of complex policy issues in the public forum.

Everyone seems to believe that money is the root of all political evil. If wealthy interests can contribute vast amounts of money to candidates or issues, the perception is that the process is going to be corrupted. That arguably isn’t so for a lot of reasons, but perception always becomes reality. Free speech on political questions is tightly linked to the ability to financial support candidates to whatever degree one wishes.

Regardless, McCain sought to address the problem. The result was a disastrous piece of legislation, McCain-Feingold. It was the wrong thing, but it was John pushing to do something to solve a problem perceived by a huge majority of the electorate. A desired solution to a non-existent problem. He followed his principles, but defied his base.

In the end, we look at John McCain as a “maverick,” a political iconoclast who isn’t ideologically sound and pays little heed to what the party base thinks. Is that good or bad?

Would we be better off with someone who seeks the perfect solution at the expense of the good? Do we want a government torn between competing partisan interests to the point where no action on anything is ever taken and the animosity festers through the body politic daily? Or, could we tolerate an administration that looks at the complexity of political problems, assesses the possibilities of progress toward solutions that can be agreed to across the partisan aisle for the good of the country and then puts the options before the people?

There is a cliché in leadership that you don’t have to like your leader but you do have to respect him. I’m thinking that while many people have expressed the fact that they don’t like McCain because of his maverick nature, they inevitably must respect him even when he appears to be tilting at some Andalusian windmills. And the contrast with his opponent is quite clear in that regard.

The opponent is someone that everyone seems to like, but increasingly few seem to respect. He has too often chosen to see the windmill but sheath his sword and pass quietly by rather than run the risk of offending any of those people whom he wishes to like him. Voting “present” doesn’t make progress, but at least nothing changes.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

What Were They Thinking?

I watched it because I felt a professional obligation. I cringed, shouted at the screen, turned away, prayed for it to stop…and it wouldn’t. I wondered if they had a vaudeville hook somewhere off camera left over from the days of the Ritz Brothers and Sol Minsky. If they did, why wasn’t somebody using it? It was so bad that even the Code Pink disruption squad was transfixed in mind-numbed awe. Who could possibly have let it happen?

I’m talking about the Cindy McCain speech.

It was simply excruciating to watch. It was painful. It was destructive. It was as though you went to a Rolling Stones concert and the opening act was your Uncle Buck singing his favorite folksongs and plucking an untuned banjo. Your star was coming up; the guy you expect to swing the world to our side and you’ve got this synthetically sincere, overly-rumpled big-haired, bleached blonde delivering heart-felt, not-well-rehearsed tear-jerkers forever and ever. She’s putting the crowd to sleep. She’s driving them out the door to look for a rowdy bar and watch the NFL opener. She’s forcing even political junkies to wonder if Eli Manning is going to have another great season.

I know the candidate’s wife has become a traditional speaker at conventions. She shouldn’t be, but that’s the way we do it now. She could be a policy wonk like Eleanor Roosevelt or a graceful, cultural icon like Jackie Kennedy, or a warm educator like Laura Bush, but still she isn’t the candidate, won’t be making the policies, and needs be nothing more than a semi-firm hand-shake in a diplomatic receiving line. We want to “get to know her,” so we demand that she speak at the convention now.

Michelle did it, and we were supposed to be reassured that she didn’t have a machete, an Afro and a torch to burn down the establishment. She was a cultured, educated, articulate, professional woman who is an American and married to the candidate. Maybe she helps the cause, maybe not. But, she did it on Tuesday, not Thursday. That’s the key.

Gustav caused the GOP to prudently pull the plug on Monday which caused Tuesday to get adjusted and then some fool decided that Cindy should get Thursday…right before the big guy. Bad choice!

The speech was terrible. Inane, trite, cliché-ridden and simply boring. It said nothing and said it poorly. Where were the wits and insightful writers who pumped up Fred Thompson, Rudy Guiliani and Sarah Palin? Could the same crew have done Cindy’s speech? No way.

The delivery was even worse. She simply isn’t very good at public speaking. She might be sincere and warm and loving, but she doesn’t look it or show it in public. She did much better on Wednesday night when she spontaneously cradled Trig Palin for a few minutes. That was good theater, the speech was bad acting.

Did John McCain recover? Well a couple of up-beat rock anthems helped, but I wonder if the folks who checked the Giants game came back. It was uphill for quite a while and McCain isn’t a fire-and-brimstone preacher. He’s no Jeremiah Wright when it comes to crowd rousing. He finally got in touch about twenty minutes into it when he started talking about his Hanoi epiphany and he segued into a very nice oratorical crescendo at the end, but the damage was done and he was starting out in the hole.

What were they thinking?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Good Old Days

A day to suspend political palaver, back off the bloviating and reminisce about a remarkable time and place filled with remarkable friends--human and machine.

This is what started me off:

Now The Good Guys are Exaggerating

And this is what it looked like:

And this is how things have changed:

Feeling Good

One of the better reactions to last night's break-away speech by VP candidate Sarah Palin:

Read the various reactions of more serious people behind the links to the right (appropriately) in Regular Stops.

Let the music play.

Listening Without Hearing

If one pays attention then he can get past the rhetorical flourishes. Yes, I can…do what? Change that I can believe in…but in which direction? Hope for the future…that we can survive the experience or recover from the disaster? The embraceable slogans take the foreground in the battle, but what about the details? As we all should recall the devil is rumored to lurk there.

I read two newspapers each day. One, the Dallas Morning News, because it is my local/regional/state source of current events information. I also confess to following a couple of sports and reading the comics and working the New York Times crossword puzzle about five out of six days a week. The bias and superficiality of their coverage gags me, but I read it. The other is the Wall Street Journal. I read it for national and world news along with objective editorial and opinions. I skip the second and third sections because I’m not heavily invested and corporate shake-ups seldom impact me. The back section with food, wine, travel, arts and literature coverage is usually interesting.

Most Americans don’t read a newspaper at all. If they do, it might be McNews, otherwise labeled USA Today. It’s a comic-book of news nuggets with lots of color, short sentences, simple language and no analysis longer than 150 words. The result is a population with few analytical skills and ripe to be plucked by a silver-tongued politician who spins gold from straw and doesn’t need to pronounce Rumpelstiltskin, even with a teleprompter.

Yet, we find this clearly written opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal which convinces me exactly who I should vote for and why. It also illustrates why this increasingly is being manipulated to make it less likely that my team will win in the future.

The Wages of Ignorance

Sen. Obama has been explicit and detailed about what he is going to do to us. Most have ignored it, throwing their support in the bucket of hope and change. Take a look at some of these proposals:

Mr. Obama claims to offer a tax cut to moderate-income families, but a significant portion of Mr. Obama's tax plan is a welfare giveaway costing more than $648 billion over 10 years, according to the Tax Policy Center. How so? He would authorize a hodgepodge of refundable tax credits covering everything from education, mortgage payments, child care and other items for people who do not pay income taxes now. About 38% of U.S. households pay no income tax today. Under a President Obama (whose policies would shave 15.3 million households off the tax rolls) that share would grow to nearly half of all American households.

Did you get that? He will set it up so that half of America gets a free ride! Hard to lose an election in which half the people are already promised everything for nothing. How about this blatant denial of supply/demand:

Mr. Obama's energy policy is to drill less, consume less, tax more, and spend more. With barely a nod to nuclear energy -- the only meaningfully large, carbon-free source of domestic energy -- he is promising a massive increase in domestic, noncarbon-based energy from sources that produce only a fraction of our energy now. He has also proposed massive tax increases on U.S. oil and gas companies while continuing to cut off vast swaths of U.S. territory to drilling.

Gotta like that. No nukes, no domestic oil/gas, massive taxes on the suppliers and we’ll all have energy for a booming economy. This makes the historic loaves and fishes trick a simple parlor sleight-of-hand. Feeling a bit under the weather, the Messiah’s got a proposal:

Mr. Obama's health-care proposal is not quite HillaryCare, but it comes close. A national health insurance, heavily subsidized by taxpayers, would be offered to the currently uninsured. Mr. Obama's instincts on health care are always to move more people onto rolls of government-paid and government-mandated insurance, while depriving the marketplace the oxygen it needs for greater innovation, life-saving cures, and efficiency.

The simple analogy is that we just extend MediCare to all of our citizens. Missed in that rationale is the fact that MediCare works because everyone who works contributes to pay for health care for those who are over 65. If everyone who works also gets the same benefit, the only possible way to pay for it is if the rates soar exponentially. Or, the doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies are all nationalized and the relationship between value of labor and compensation is abandoned. Not a good choice in my mind.

The conclusion of the WSJ piece is that most Americans are too smart to buy this legerdemain. I’d like to believe that, but most Americans don’t read the WSJ so they won’t know how smart they are supposed to be. The Americans I encounter don’t seem to be the same ones that frequent the WSJ writer’s haunts. I hope I’m wrong.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Follow The Money

I’ve been seeing these commercials in primetime recently with all of these touchy-feeling types bleating about energy independence and wind and solar and saving the planet. They’ve got a lot of money invested in advertising and in a moment of uncharacteristic insight I suddenly thought where is the return on this investment? Who is buying all of this media time and what do they get in return? Is it pure altruism?

Like Butch and Sundance, I wondered, “who are these guys?”

The Advisory Council

Now that’s a bunch of bed-fellows. So that collection is steering the ship. Who’s pushing?

The Partners

Holy temperature rise, Batman! What do they want to do?

Tell Me, Tell Me

Got that? Renewables! Efficiency! And, Leadership! Don’t forget about leadership. Maybe that’s the agenda that’s got Al Gore driving this.

Notice that there is no mention of nuclear power generation. Notice that there is no mention of how we are going to replace foreign oil without exploiting our own resources. Notice that there is no consideration of how the actions of 300 million Americans, even if we all committed to the program, can influence the 6 billion or more in the rest of the world who aren’t about to change their energy consumption in any direction but increasing demand. Notice that it doesn’t consider the cost of abandonment of our existing energy infrastructure or the impact on our economy of such a ten year program.

How do I get that little diacritical gizmo to show when I type “NAÏVE”—hey, it’s automatic! Sort of like my revulsion for the tree-hugger environmental whackos.

But, who makes the money from this program? Who is the profiteer? Is it an American enterprise? Who?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Idle Threat

Try as they might with denials about media bias, it is difficult to conclude otherwise when you get a major metropolitan news-rag publishing drivel like this:

Taking It To The Streets

She threatens race war if we don’t elect her Chosen One!

The only redeeming thing at that link is the comments section. Read what the public’s reaction is to her rote recitation of DNC talking points. It will be worth a couple of minutes of your time.

Is That The Best You Can Do?

Sen. Obama’s new politics is increasingly looking slimier rather than cleaner. More interesting is the total irrelevance to capability of the candidates. While they whine like the younger brother being teased by sis whenever the Messiah’s inadequacies are pointed out, they seem overly eager to throw manure at any wall nearby to see if it will stick. The problem might be that it will splash back on them.

Digging For Dirt

The innuendos earlier in the week that VP candidate Sarah Palin had faked her pregnancy to shield her daughter was almost too disgusting to be believed. Then the detailed discussions of amniotic leakage and premature delayed delivery after a long flight home leading to Down Syndrome was so puerile that even some Democrats noticed. Now, we’ve got the factual announcement of Palin’s teen daughter actually being pregnant. And, gloating by the press and the left while somehow demeaning the idea of the young man marrying her and the couple having the child. Wow, this sets a new low even for them.

The basic truth is that it would be difficult to find a family in America that hasn’t experienced a similar situation. The way that the Palin’s are handling it seems more commendable than condemnable. Might be that moderate Americans will respect it.

Now we’ve seen the startling revelation that Sarah’s husband at the age of 22 had a DUI arrest! Is this somehow indicative of a deeply flawed character in the candidate? Why is this news? Please somebody give me a rationale so I will understand why I should care.

And then did you get that cloaked phrase in the Politico piece linked above, “and a nasty child custody battle involving a family member.”

Do you remember what that is about? It is about the Governor of Alaska firing the state’s Director of Public Safety for corruption, part of which was his defense of a state trooper who was threatening and abusive of his wife and children. The trooper was so far off the reservation he Tazed his 10-year-old son. The wife divorced him and sought custody of the child. Seems reasonable to me. The wife happened to be the sister-in-law of the governor, but that hardly seems to rise to the level of Bill Clinton’s employment of Arkansas state troopers as go-fers to bring him women he took a liking to on the trail. Is the implication that there is abuse of gubernatorial power when demanding appropriate behavior of government employees if you are related to a victim?

If this is the level of political discourse that the Democrats bring to the table this election cycle, we seem to be in the final volume of a Gibbon’s style history of “Decline and Fall.” I’m depressed.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Some Reactions to Palin

It’s pretty much what you would have expected. They’ve been adamant that they don’t play dirty and it is that fabled “vast right-wing conspiracy” that is the cause of stains on their little blue frock, yet right now it’s looking like they fib on that issue. Check this evolving piece as sleaze-slinger Alan Colmes who is as superficial a mouthpiece for the left as you’ll find with a national news microphone in front of him tries to hide:

Witless From Washington

More of the same here:

More Here

Or how about this bottom of the rancid barrel piece:

Simply Shameless

It is bothersome for the dark side of the Force that this renaissance woman has done so much without an affirmative action program to get her into Harvard or Princeton.

Palin Scares Them

Fox contributor and wryly humorous political commentator Bill Kristol notes:

Kristol Has Been a Long-Time Fan

This is sure going to be an interesting ten weeks. But if you need a breath of fresh air after running through the muck, take a look at this photo gallery:


Meanwhile, all evidence seems to indicate that Ray Nagin has returned to the city which he euphemistically governs from his estate in Dallas to posture as though he is ahead of the situation. In what seems to be a declaration of suspension of legal procedures he announced a short time ago that those arrested under suspicion of looting will go immediately into general population in Angola state prison. Who will make these arrests is unknown since he also said that he’s stripping the police force from the city except for some meter maids. Also unknown is if Governor Jindal has given him a key to the front door of the state’s property.