Friday, May 27, 2016

Socialism vs. Free Markets: Venezuela Edition

By Kit

An interesting bit of trivia: The week the socialist paradise of Venezuela’s economic crisis finally began to hit the precipice was the 50th anniversary of the generally agreed-upon starting date for Mao’s Cultural Revolution. That the 50th anniversary hits the same year leftist thought police have run amuck on college campuses and socialism is making a huge surge in American politics courtesy of one Bernie Sanders moves that bit of trivia from “interesting” to “depressing.”

And most depressing was a story in New York Times titled “Dying Infants and No Medicine: Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals,” which read like a late-Victorian muckraker account of some decrepit turn-of-the-century hospital. The most shocking moment comes a single morning three newborn infants die at a maternity ward —and that was before a blackout shut off the respirators in the ward and killed four more despite the best efforts of the doctor’s to keep the “ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours.”

There are probably a thousand economic lessons to be gleaned from the sad story of what Chavismo’s has wreaked upon Venezuela with many familiar stories. One of which is the fate of Venezuela's oil industry.

Venezuela has oil, lots of it. Perhaps more than Saudi Arabia. And their oil industry, despite being state-owned, was once a model for the rest of South America. Unlike Mexico’s notoriously dysfunctional Pemex, Venezuela had made sure most of those running the company, PDVSA, were competent and professional. Their industry thrived. Then came Hugo Chavez, who accused the company of hiding profits and, upon coming to power, replaced the leadership of the company with his own cronies whose behavior prompted a general strike from most of the company’s skilled engineers and managers. Hugo Chavez, that friend and champion of the people, responded by calling them saboteurs, firing them, and replacing them with his own cronies who have since mismanaged the company.

Still, with an oil industry as big as Venezuela’s, and as much oil as the country had, this was not too much of problem. However, Venezuela’s oil is of a type that needs to be refined so when the price of oil dropped and, because Venezuela had done his best to bully and fleece private investors, foreign and domestic, to the point that no one is investing in Venezuelan oil, the country could no longer produce the oil needed. The foreign private companies left or were taken over by Chavez’s companies. The results? The country’s oil production is 25% less than what it was when Chavez came to power.

Nor were there other sources of wealth. He bullied private retailers. For example, he nationalized farms and redistributed them, a policy which can work well if well managed (see, the Russian Kulaks before Stalin killed them) but it wasn’t here, and he created socialist collective farms. He put in place price controls on food resulting in people buying more and less people being able to buy it (a lower the price, the more people will buy it) which meant shortages, which he blamed on retailers and private companies whom he accused of hoarding. So they went out of business. He also nationalized the power companies, banks, and anything else he could nationalize.

This created a problem. You see, wealth is typically created in the private sector (and sometimes by a very smart public sector company) by producing or, if you’re a retailer, purchasing a good and then selling it to whomever wants it at a price that allows you to make a profit. You then pay off your expenses, you pay your employees, you might buy more or better equipment or products to sell, and so on. Your employees and the folks you bought new stuff from, then use the money to buy things on the market they want. This is how wealth is grown.

Government companies do things a bit differently. Typically, a company that is nationalized is done so whatever goods or services can be provided at a lower cost than the market value, that is, the cost needed by companies to earn a profit. They can do this because they receive money from the government, most often provided by tax dollars. This can work okay, as long as there is money to be taxed. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez had driven those folks either out of business or out of the country.

This was really unfortunate because since Chavez came to power he had been spending like, to use a phrase common in our vernacular, a drunken sailor on shore leave in Bangkok. And, like the drunken sailor at Bangkok, there were many unpleasant and long-lasting results of the binge. First, there was the heavy spending certainly carried out to fund the newly-nationalized companies and then there were pet projects, such the decision to provide free housing for the poor, not a bad thing by itself, but when you don’t have money coming in, things will get unpleasant quickly.

And so things are.

The heavy nationalization and mismanagement of countries has resulted in shortages of everything including, but not limited to beats, alcohol, bread, milk, birth control pills, razors, soap, batteries, insecticide, and coffins have hit the country everywhere causing long lines and prompting the government to engage in heavy rationing. The whole thing is rather reminiscent of the stories that came out of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Of course, one must wonder who can actually buy those goods considering unemployment is at 21%, not helped by his minimum wage increase (that is, increasing the price of hiring people). The last time America had it that bad was during the Great Depression.

And the heavy spending has sent the country deeply into debt which has prompted it has jacked up inflation, with estimates usually around 500%, which prices for commodities are going up as the value of the Bolivars in the Venezuelan’s wallet are going down. Of course, Maduro recent economic czar has a solution to inflation: he says “Inflation does not exist in real life.” Inflation, he says, is not caused by printing more and more money (increasing the supply of money and therefore decreasing its value) but is instead caused by “parasitic” businesses trying to increase profits. (Which businesses?)

Don’t worry, that guy was sacked. It seems even the Chavistas have standards.


Sources:

"Oil's Dark Secret" The Economist
LINK

"Venezuela is on the Brink of a Complete Collapse" Washington Post
LINK

"Imagine no Possessions, Imagine Venezuela" The Federalist
LINK
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thoughts on Hiroshima and Nagasaki...

As we enter another Memorial Day weekend, I just wanted to share one of my first posts from our original site from 2009 - Commentarama. I had the distinct pleasure of being asked to join this blog in 2009 at the request of Andrew and our dearly departed Larry Hawk. One of my first posts was on Memorial Day on May 24, 2009 about my uncle who served in WWII as POW in a Japanese prison camp...In Memoriam.

In 1996, I had the opportunity to work in Japan which just happen to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of when the U.S. dropped the nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The only time in human history that a nuclear devise was detonated in an aggressive act of war. As I was bold enough at the time, I asked my young translator what the young Japanese thought about this. Her response was astounding. She said that it was a good thing. She openingly stated that if not for the dropping of these bombs, the aggression of the Japanese would not have ended, the war would have continued, and many more millions of lives would have been lost.

As President Obama visits Hiroshima and Nagasagi in his long-standing "apology tour", let us not forget that President Harry Truman made a heart-wretching decision that brought an abrupt end to devasting world war and thereby saved millions of lives. We have nothing to apologize for. It was a decision made to save lives, millions of lives.

Also, let's celebrate another anniversary! Commentarama along with our present site - CommentaramPolitics and CommentaramaFilm - are entering our 7-year mark (and counting) of fun, frustration, and shear madness! Pat yourselves on the back, Commentarama-ians! We couldn't do it without you! And you know who you are! Thank you for the continued support and dedication to civil and reasoned discourse.

And yes, I still miss LawHawkSF...
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Death To That Guy!

Oh boy. Blogging has truly entered a dark age of sorts with diddly squat happening in the news. Well, one thing happened. Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald just ate a bus load of nuns. Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe people are overreacting. Hmm. Let me work through this...

On Monday, DVA Sex-kitten Bob McDonald said some words he now regrets. He was asked about wait times at VA Hospitals and he said:
“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what's important? What's important is, what's your satisfaction with the experience? And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”
Everyone on the right grabbed their pitchforks and immediately went after old Bob. He doesn’t care about wait times for veterans who are dying every day in those lines. Damn you Bob. Damn you to hell!

Honestly, this is ridiculous. It’s not like Bob is actually saying that wait times don’t matter. What he’s saying is that they want to look at more factors than just wait times when it comes to determining whether or not the VA is providing good service. The idea that Bob meant he didn’t care about wait times is manufactured outrage. Ditto on the idea that it’s somehow wrong to compare Veterans to customers at Disney. The man chose Disney because they have an amazing reputation for customer service.

So I’m with Bob, right? Nope. Why? Because he kept talking. Bob went out and doubled-down by saying the following:
“Look, we get it. Wait times are important. There’s no question wait times are important, but they aren’t the only measure of the veteran experience. If I was misunderstood or if I said the wrong thing, I’m glad I have the opportunity to correct it.”
Grr. Now I have to fault Bob. This is pure arrogance. Translate this statement and you get: (1) duh, your argument is stupid because no sh*t everyone knows the point you are trying to make... what are you? Slow? (2) And if you are one of those who is too stupid to get what I was saying then learn to cope. This is not the tone one should strike if you genuinely didn’t mean what the public thinks you meant. He should have just said what he had to say about the issue genuinely. He didn’t though, and today, Bob tried again:
“If my comments Monday led any Veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, don't take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Now this really pisses me off. This is the modern corporate apology and I find it to be truly insulting. It is evasive. It avoids taking responsibility. It is not genuine. It is public relations of the most cynical kind. What’s more, I can guarantee you that the lawyers who wrote this are laughing about the last part. You simpletons are supposed to believe this is an apology, but it’s really just an intentionally injected ambiguity. What exactly couldn’t be further from the truth? The idea that whatever you think he said is really what he said? That he didn’t take his noble mission seriously? Or that he regrets your belief? At no point is there a genuine apology here, it only seems he apologized. Big Business America never apologizes.

So I think, all told, my view is that people were stupid to read this quote to be negative in the first place, but I can’t feel sorry for Bob because he’s not dealing in good faith with the issue. In fact, I simply don’t accept the corporate apology... it is for fundamentally dishonest people who only want to shut you up rather than making a situation right. No one should ever trust anyone who uses the corporate apology. So go ahead and string the bastard up.

This stuff makes my head spin.

Thoughts?
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Sunday, May 22, 2016

News Thoughts

Some random thoughts for a slow news day month year.

● I still chuckle over just how blind the left is when it comes to the public. There are articles all over places like Politico arguing that this election will swing the Democrats’ way because they are finally going to fight the meanie NRApublicans on the issue of guns... or ending nuclear weapons... or fighting racism. I can’t image three issues less likely to appeal to the public. But hey, have at it.

● More and more polls are showing Trump in the lead. More importantly though, they are all showing a steady rise in Trump’s numbers and a crash in Hillary’s numbers. In my experience, poll numbers are not significant, but trends are: this is a trend. What’s more, anything close to even is a disaster for Hillary because her voters are clumped in several states where their votes are wasted. It’s looking like a blow out.

● Speaking of Trump, the left has no idea how to attack him anymore than the GOP did. The media is trying each of the following: (1) he has mob ties! (a positive in America), (2) he called a former Miss America “Miss Piggy” because she ate too much... boo hoo hoo (we’ve been conditioned to hate beauty queens, and this is a ridiculous thing to whine about), (3) he doesn’t have a very big political staff (i.e. he’s an outsider), and (4) yes, while he’s winning the polls, it’s not with the right people (uh, wha??).

● The Redskin thing continues with article after article by these people assuring us that those 504 American Indians weren’t REAL American Indians and, even if they were, they wouldn’t matter because the people who said no are just so racist they don’t even see how racist they truly are and we need to save them from themselves.

● The Bernie Sanders thing has reached the funny stage. He’s lost. He lost long ago, but he just won’t quit. And now the center-left media is finally seeing the danger in not trying to destroy him sooner as they are fretting he will run as an independent. (Maybe he can run with Romney?) This is an instance where their rhetoric completely blinded them to the danger. They sold this idea of a GOP civil war and always ignored the feuding on the left and now they find themselves in the middle of an implosion because the real civil war has always been on the left and they failed to manage it. Ha ha.

● From what I’m seeing Venezuela is doing its best to keep socialism’s record perfect by destroying yet another country.

● So Hillary is pretty sure that the explosion of that plane might even have been terrorism, gosh darn. Now that is one tough position!

That’s all that comes to mind. You?
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

More Proof The Left Is Just Fringe

The other day, I wrote about how the public really doesn’t embrace leftist whining even though the internet and media would make you think they do. No sooner had I written that article than another interesting piece of news appeared.

A couple years ago, leftist sports journalists decided to start a crusade against the name “the Washington Redskins.” They claimed that this name was offensive and needed to be dropped because it made them cry. Many even said they would refuse to use it and they banned it from their webpages.

Unfortunately for them, there was a poll out there which shot them down harshly. It showed that 92% of the public did not consider it offensive. So they ran with the 8%. They called this “a sizeable number of people” and they said that when sooooo many people find something offensive, you just can’t do it. They ignored the fact that finding 8% of the public who are offended by something is easy regardless of what you claim is offensive.

Nothing changed.

So they tried something new. They tried peer pressure. Each one started writing articles about a handful of famous people and former players who thought the name was racist. They ignored or downplayed the much vaster number of players and famous people who embraced the name. Then they wrote articles about all the high school and college teams who changed their Indian mascot names. This time, they ignored the fact that education is dominated (almost 100%) by leftists, so this was not at all surprising... it’s a bit like being surprised to find communists at a communist party meeting.

Still, nothing changed and Washington was resolute.

So they tried pointing out all the other sites who were doing the same thing. They even claimed sportscasters were refusing to use the name, something each one would deny.

In any event, another poll came out showing that "only" 88% supported the name. They took this to mean that support for banning the name was growing! They ignored the fact this was well within the statistical margin of error. Now they tried something new. They found some Indians who claimed the name was offensive and they told us that we were all racists for opposing what these people wanted. The Redskins countered by pointing to Indian support as well. Our arm-chair justice warriors were undeterred, however. They dismissed that Indian support as people with an economic interest or people who were confused. And besides, just because you can find an Indian who favors the name doesn’t mean anything when I can find an Indian who opposes it! So there, I logiced it!

Well, the Washington Post just polled a group of 504 Indians: “The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive, or doesn’t it bother you?” No doubt they hoped that a massive anti-Redskin finding would pressure the team to change the name. But guess what? 90% said the name doesn’t bother them. Only 9% said it did.

Splat.

Once again, if you paid attention to the media, you would have been under the impression that Native Americans were on the warpath and the public was quickly surrendering to their wishes and the name of your favorite sports team was just about to be wiped out by political correctness. Yet, 88% of the public and 90% of Native Americans are rejecting this crap.

See what I’ve been saying? This group of whiny leftists trying to reshape the world into a gray new world of bland is indeed tiny and their supporters are a tiny fringe of the American left. And all that screaming online is just them being loud, it's not evidence of any sort of public acceptance. The world remains sane.

Thoughts?
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Trump's Surprising Supreme Court Short List

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long. Less than 18 hours after publishing the below list, Trump is now doing what he always does in his interview with Hannity. He backtracks or completely reverses himself as if no one will notice.
"I thought what I would do is put this forward and this would be the list that I would either choose from or pick people very close in terms of the spirit and the meaning of what they represent...[w]e're either going to choose from this list or people very close to it...[a]t a minimum, we will keep people from this general realm."

So, do ya' think maybe he and his people floated this list FOR the much publicized Hannity interview, or what? Yeah, I thought as much. Ergo...nevermind. Go about your business as if nothing has happened.

************************************
I was going to regale you with my recent trip to the UK and Ireland, but then this came up and I couldn't resist. Trump released his short list of potential Supreme Court picks which has been described as solid list of outstanding conservative jurists by former Bush Administration attorney John Yoo.

From NYT Donald Trump Releases List of Possible Supreme Court Picks By Alan Rappeport and Charlie Savage and right off the bat they are described this way -"...All are white, and eight of the 11 are men."

Here's the list broken down from the NYT article:

1. Dianne S. Sykes, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit who was appointed by President Bush
2. Steven M. Colloton of the Eighth Circuit, a former clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist
3. Raymond M. Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit, who clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

The state supreme court justices included
4. Joan Larsen of Michigan, a former clerk to Justice Scalia
5. Allison H. Eid of Colorado
6. David Stras of Minnesota
7. Thomas Rex Lee of Utah, all of whom clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas. In addition, Judge Lee’s father, Rex, served as solicitor general in the Reagan administration, and his brother, Mike Lee, is a Republican senator from Utah.

8. Don Willett of Texas Supreme Court, previously worked for the Bush White House’s office of faith-based initiatives and later in Texas government, where he pushed to keep a monument of the Ten Commandments on public property and the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, issues he has promoted on his Facebook page.

On a personal note: Judge Willet is also famously the "Twitter Laureate of Texas" and a darn funny guy. I follow him on Twitter and he has spent many a tweet mocking Trump... One Of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Picks Has Spent A Year Trolling Him On Twitter.



9. Raymond W. Gruender, a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit who led a majority that permitted South Dakota to enforce a law requiring doctors to tell women that abortions “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.”

10. William H. Pryor Jr. of the 11th Circuit, whose appointment Senate Democrats had tried to block in part because, in his previous role as Alabama attorney general, he denounced Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion, as having manufactured “a constitutional right to murder an unborn child.”

11. Thomas M. Hardiman of the Third Circuit,federal appeals court judge appointed by President Bush.

So there they are. If Trump is to believed, this does a appear to be a very solid list of candidates. I remain skeptical.

Anyway, let's discuss.

I will get to how unbelievably beautiful Ireland is next time...and of course, why Charles I, the Reformation, the Restoration, and Charles II are all the rage.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Random Thoughts On Whinerism

Some random thoughts on race and gender politics.

● First, I’ve pointed out over and over how America is moving beyond race and obsession with gender. There is tremendous evidence which suggests that about 2/3 of the public no longer thinks about race as an issue of any sort. And this seems to be true across all races. Similarly, the evidence suggests that only a tiny percentage of people care about feminism or transgender bathrooms or whatever... and they’re all nuts.

● Sure, there are still people who obsess about these things, but they are messed up. This small and ever-shrinking proportion of people see racism or sexism in their own shadows and no one really pays them any attention. Here are some examples of how whacko they are:
● There was an article today whining about Snapchat being racist because its filters lighten faces, enlarge eyes and shrink noses. The whiny black delicates are all atwitter that Snapchat apparently makes your face white!!! OMG! Of course, the fact that it’s actually making faces babyish rather than white escapes them.

● There was another article in which black delicates whined that some fashion show in Australia used a Beyonce song they saw as an anthem for “powerful black women” and had only white women marching thereto. How dare you appropriate our racism honkeys!

● There was a war waged against Iggy Azalea, a white rapper from Australia, because she raps with black word choice and inflection. “How dare you act black, honkey!” screamed the delicates.

● Of course, there is Black Lives Matter who think it’s racist to assert that everyone’s life matters. Death to whitey.

● There are white liberal delicates in sports who find criticism of black quarterbacks to be racist.

● There are girly delicates who whine about liberal Hollywood not hiring chicky directors, but won’t hire them, who whine about chicky actresses being jettisoned when they turn old and who can’t stand that they only had careers because they exploited their own looks.

● There are chicky delicates who worry that girls like girls’ toys and that pronouns are oppressing them and that some woman was called ugly online.
And so on. The thing that binds all of these fools together is just how miserable their lives are that they spend their time obsessing over pretend outrages. What’s more, the retardedness of these allegations is killing whatever credibility the outrage industry once had.

● Is it just me or do there not seem to be any gay people involved in the transgender bathroom debate? It seems to be Religious Right v. Delicate Left without a single gay person to be found. Just more proof that the gays have all gone home.

● It amazes me how many people, typically gay, black or female, make false allegations of racism, sexism, rape, etc. The latest involves a gay black pastor who claimed that Whole Food wrote something anti-gay on a cake. Sadly for him, Whole Foods has videotape which shows that he made the whole thing up. It seems that almost every day one of these people claims some racist or sexist word was written on a receipt or tattooed on their ass or whatever, and it’s always proven to be false. Again, this is doing intense damage to the credibility of the rape/race industry.

● There was a police shooting the other day which was the first time I recall seeing body cameras doing their thing. In this case, a woman came at the cop with a meat clever and he was forced to shoot her. The video shows that she attacked him and he responded reasonably. This shoots down the family’s claims of “ism”... no pun intended. I think body cameras will quickly kill off the victimization by cop industry.

● I think Hillary has all but killed what little credibility the feminists and the rape industry had left. There is no way she can stand up there with Bill and talk about women’s issues, yet she tries... which makes it clear the issue is politicized rather than legit.

● BTW, polls show that Hillary only gets 84% of black support, not 97% as Obama got. That’s really bad for her.

I have a point actually. People read political sites and places like the front page of dying Yahoo and they see the idiotic stuff above. Then they assume that this is how the world is. But it’s not. This is an infinitesimally small sliver of the public who are so out of touch with reality that they think their cell phones are racist. These people only disgrace their own causes. Don’t let anyone tell you that they are representative of anything or that their views are influencing the public. They aren’t.

I think it’s time for all of us to take a deep breath, look at the broader world, and stop worrying about the nutty fringe. Let these people fester in their own private hells and let’s focus instead on what really matters.

Thoughts?
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Sunday, May 15, 2016

All The News That's Fit To Print... Kind Sucks

Ug. There’s nothing going on worth writing about.

The political world is going insane over a hit piece in the NYTimes in which some women tell stories about how horribly Trump treated them or about some story about Trump pretending to act as his own PR man in the 1980’s. No one outside the pundit world is talking about either. That shows they still don’t understand his appeal. No one thinks Trump is a good choice for President of the United States. Trump’s support is from people who want someone who is going to twist the panties of the establishment into a knot and f*ck things up for a bit. He is a guided missile aimed at the heart of conventional wisdom.

One thing that Trump is considering which I think will hurt him is the idea of selecting Sarah Palin as his VP. Not only are her negatives intense, but attitudes about her have already been set and those negative feelings will not change. Hold ma beer and watch this!

The transgender bathroom thing continues to send the Religious Right to their bunkers. Don’t care. Colorado did this several years ago and not a single thing happened after it passed.

Bill Clinton apparently accepted a number of flights on a plane owned by a man convicted of sex trafficking underage girls. They called it the Lolita Express. Whether or not Clinton had sex with underage girls is obviously not known, but he probably did it. Will anyone care? I doubt it. Sex crimes don’t stick to Bill. But it will make it harder for the left to attack Trump for being rude to women.

I’m seeing several “why Clinton lost” articles on the left, which suggest that she will lose. But then, we already know she will.

Paul Ryan and Trump seem to have reached some sort of detente, though no one told Sarah Palin apparently. Frankly, it was kind of obvious they would work something out.

Beyond that, we have run out of news! It’s the end of history.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Still Away Open Thread...


Yep, I am still fishin' and hopefully there is enough to keep you occupied until I return next week. I promise that I will regale you with tales that will enthrall you...
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Who's On The Right

In a recent discussion about the Alt-Right (which sounds like an "Alternative Lifestyle," doesn't it? ... not that there's anything wrong with that wink wink), I got to wondering about who is on the right. Why discuss this? Because conservatism has failed. Let's be honest. And if we're going to revive it, then we need to understand what happened to make the right so toxic so we know how to fix it. So let's start by understanding what the modern right has become. As I see it, the right breaks down as follows:

(1) Actual conservatives - not fringe

These are the good guys. They are the people who used to drive conservatism until recently. They are the people Reagan appealed to and who maintain the American belief in conservatism. They are the people who made up the Tea Party for the first few weeks before the others began pouring in:
●Ideological Conservatives: The heirs of Buckley and Reagan, who understand that conservatism cannot win if it is extreme or tries to grab all it wants at once. They are patriotic, support limited government, support law and order, and generally like traditional values. I suspect this is most of you. PROS: Brainy. CONS: Lack empathy for humanity.

●Rational Libertarians: These are people who like limited government, but also accept the need for government in more than just a couple areas of life. They are not beset by conspiracy theories. They aren't pot heads. I get the sense a lot of these think of themselves as conservatives but don't like the moralizing of the GOP. PROS: Often have brilliant ideas. CONS: Not good at selling their beliefs to non-believers.

●Rational Religious Conservatives/Traditionalists: These are people who think the country was running fine before liberals messed with it and they would like to see a society which includes a greater push for personal responsibility but don't want to see a repressive government impose that upon society. They want the right to practice their religion as they see fit without government interference. Where they differ from the Religious Right, however, is that these people aren't trying to use the government to force their own theology on everyone else. PROS: Decent people. CONS: Often misled by charlatans.

●Non-ideological People with generic American values: These are average people who pay no attention to the political system, but support the GOP because they believe in a series of values that generally align with the GOP -- opposition to freeloading, strong military, law and order, low taxes, less regulation. These are not generally ideologues or extremists and they don't buy into the GOP's platform of pet peeves, but they do identify themselves as conservatives. This is easily the largest group of "conservative" voters. PROS: Massive numbers. CONS: Won't help control the party.

(2) The Near Fringe
●Grumpy Cons/Nostalgia Cons: This groups also could be called "anti-liberals," which describes them perfectly. They don't have much in the way of ideology except that they oppose everything liberals want, and they do so on the basis of nostalgia or a general opposition to change. These guys aren't quite ideological conservatives and they aren't quite fringe either. The biggest problem with these people is that they reinforce the stereotype that conservatives are living in the past and don't understand America. PROS: Better than they seem. CONS: Negative outlook depresses support.

● Neocons: In a way, calling the Neocons "fringe" is a little unfair because no one thinks of them that way because they claim to be moderates who strive to be practical rather than ideologically hidebound. But that's not really accurate. What these people are is a group of military hawks who want to use the US's power to reshape the world in our image. They also make a fetish of expertise, believing that experts can run the world better than those dirty masses of bigots and retards called the American public. They are, basically, the military adventurer wing of the cronies. I would actually put Hillary in this camp, believe it or not. PROS: N/A. CONS: Disloyal, mistake prone, will throw conservatism under bus to cover up mistakes.

(3) Single Issue Obsessives - The Original Fringe (pre-2010)
●The Religious Right: The Religious Right was the original GOP fringe (after the John Birchers were expelled in the 1950's). They are obsessed with forcing the rest of America to accept their religious views. This began as trying to force prayer into public schools, forcing schools to teach Creationism, banning abortion and outlawing gays. They sideline with book banning, trying to ban pornography, stopping Muslims, stopping atheists, and stopping other Christians who don't share their views. These people account for almost all of the caricature of the GOP, until recently. PROS: Control the southern states. CONS: Angry obsessives who give conservatism a hateful image.

(4) The Post-2010 Nutjob Fringe

This group is relatively new to the right. They moved in when the country elected a black man and then the Tea Party movement became their vehicle for attacking conservatism and replacing it... like pod people. They are the people who became Talk Radio conservatives or "genoooine conservatives." They are not conservative.
●Racists/White Socialists: These are people who see the word "American" as meaning white, English speaking "conservative" males. However, their definition of "conservative" basically equates to "someone who agrees with me." They actually favor socialism, but only for whites, and their biggest issues are minorities and foreigners who get benefits and crimes committed by brown people. Hello Ann Coulter! These are the people who invented the word "cuckservative" which tells us more about them than anyone else. Oh and women scare them. PROS: N/A. CONS: Obvious.

●Strongmen/Militia/Survivalist Types: These militia types form their own private armies in the hinterlands of various states. They like to bring automatic weapons to places like Starbucks. They support ranchers who steal public land and racists who get into standoffs with the police. They make their nests at websites that use words like "False Flag" and "sheepdog theory." They argue for the elimination of government on the belief that society will come crawling to them for protection from the ensuing chaos. This is sexual dysfunction as ideology. It's a jerk-off fantasy. PROS: N/A. CONS: Obvious.

●Paranoid Libertarians: "The Fed wired my teeth so the CIA can watch me in the bathroom!!!" These people were largely confined to the world of Ron Paul in the past, but now use the Tea Party as a bullhorn. They are economically ignorant, but believe they know things no one else does because they believe every anti-American conspiracy theory they can find. They are a mess of contradictions, but their over-riding principle seems to be that the government shouldn't have done whatever it did to piss them off, e.g. charge me with animal cruelty, support my ex-wife in the divorce, stop me from masturbating on my lawn, or arrest me for buying meth. These people are insane and use politics to prove they are more sane than evEryOne elSe!!!!! PROS: N/A. CONS: They are excellent liars and they excel at infiltrating organizations by sounding rational at first.
I see that as the list of people currently claiming the right as home. When I look at this list, it strikes me that sometimes less is more. In this case, conservatives need to drive the three freakshow types from the GOP. I would do that by selecting women and minorities for a large number of leadership positions and by shouting down their issues. I would also recommend stripping the Religious Right and the Neocons of their influence. I would do this by inserting a neutral abortion provision in the party platform, endorsing gay marriage, and including a provision against foreign adventuring. The Grumpy Cons aren't a problem, just don't pander to their negativity... get younger and more attuned to the culture.

As for the rest, I think conservatives need to refocus the party by coming up with an agenda that uses conservative ideology to address the issues that concern the non-ideological people with typical American values, while using the rational libertarians and the rational religious conservatives as a check on the lack of empathy conservatives often display.

Thoughts?
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Monday, May 9, 2016

Why You Should Vote For Trump

I’ve given this some thought. Does it make more sense to vote for Hillary or Trump? Let’s walk through this...

Let me start with the normal disclaimer: Trump... human turd... lying sack of sh*t... total fraud... probably into bestiality... hot wife though... etc. Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way. Let us begin:

Should you vote for Trump or Hillary? The case against Trump is many faceted and quite strong. Trump is either an ignorant God-awful socialist with racist tendencies who will forever make the GOP into the party of misogyny and Mexicanogyny, or he’s a God-awful socialist who will redefine the GOP as the party of Big Business, Big Labor and Big Government. Neither choice is all that appealing, and the argument concludes: “He’s basically a Democrat in political views, so I’m going to vote for Hillary so the GOP won’t be tarred as the party that believes in Democratic crappola.” Makes sense.

What is the counter? Well, I could argue as Trump has done that he’s just putting on an act, and if you look at the people he’s hired to build his administration, you will find a pretty solid core of conservatives. You’ve got Arthur Laugher advising him on economics, Bill Bennett advising him on social policy, and one-time conservative darling Chris Christie acting as chief of staff. That must mean something, right? Especially for a man who will delegate almost all of his duties. So I should suggest that we vote for him in the hope that this is who he really turns out to be, right? Well, no. That dog don’t chivy because we just aren’t sure who Trump is.

How about this? Trump is a Democrat who will do conservative things, which is better than Hillary who is a Democrat who will try to win from the far left. Having him pick the next 2-3 Supreme Court justices is much more important than letting Hillary. Yeah, that makes sense, but it still doesn’t get to the whole issue.

What I will argue instead is this...

The reason Trump was chosen by the conservative public (and make no mistake, he won the primary with the support of the public) is because the conservative public lost faith in their leaders.

Why? Because for a long time now, conservatives have been selling the myth to each other that they would be super victorious except for the constant stabs in the back from disloyal secret RINOs and weak insiders. Indeed, this has been such a profitable myth that talk radio started selling it exclusively. The likes of Pat Buchanan and Ann Coulter taught racism and isolationism. Rush, Hannity and Ingram taught discontent. Hot Air filled heads with nonsense outrages, fake facts and false reasoning. Mark Levin taught cynicism and paranoia. And so on.

Even worse, conservatives stopped teaching conservatism to each other and to the public, which let these opportunists redefine conservatism in nebulous and even anti-conservative ways. What’s more, they accepted with open arms some unsavory characters whose goal is to destroy the GOP and conservatism and replace with hateful idiocy.

All of this jacked up the level of paranoia and suspicion and stripped away the party’s ability to talk rationally with the public. As a result, the public got stupid and angry. Indeed, all of this made the conservative public suspicious, paranoid and gullible. They were ready to believe any nasty lie about the GOP. And when the GOP responded by pandering with promises it could not keep, it only made the belief stronger that the GOP was rotten.

Suddenly, the primaries began and the public turned on prior conservative darlings like Rubio, Ryan, Christie and prior heavyweights like Jeb Bush. This was a warning that the public was sick of being ignored by the insiders and being treated like mindless children who aren’t savvy enough to understand Washington.

I think Trump was seen by a rational public as the best way to send a message. Trump is the pubic telling the GOP: “Fine, we’re going to drop a turd in your punch bowl to show you our displeasure.” Unfortunately, rather than realizing this and going to the public to rebuild bridges, the GOP establishment openly did their best to “cheat” Trump and thereby undermine the voice of the public in picking him. Essentially, the GOP has said, “We don’t care what the public thinks. We know better.”

Now, do you vote for Trump? It strikes me that if conservatives vote against Trump (and do things like the #neverTrump stuff), they will be sending the message to the public that they refuse to hear the public’s concerns and will remain adversarial to the public. That means an even bigger loss of faith and perpetual civil war.

What conservatives need to do instead is to support Trump as “the man chosen by the voters,” and then either let him lose naturally or let him win and expose all of his promises as lies. By fighting him, conservatives become the easy target for his excuses. By supporting him, he fails on his own.

But what about this idea that he will tar conservatism with his leftist policies? First, the GOP will hold the House and he won’t get his leftist policies through any more than Obama did. Secondly, Trump loves the path of least resistance and that will be doing what the House wants. Third, Trump has done so much to separate himself from conservatism that it’s impossible to link the two at this point. Trump is Trump. He is not “the leader of the conservatives.” He is the man conservatives hate. That’s not someone who will ever be seen as a spokesman for conservatism.

So as I see it, supporting Trump defuses the public’s anger and gives the GOP a chance to regain their trust, without connecting conservatism or the GOP to his policies. But opposing him just ratchets up the GOP civil war.

Thoughts?
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Third Party Run? Give Me A Break

This is something that really bothered me over the weekend. There is something truly wrong with "conservatism." I put this in quotes because I don't see the people I'm talking about as actual conservatives. What's bothering me is all this talk about refusing to support a nominee and trying to find a third party candidate.

Before I begin, let me start with this disclaimer. I think Trump is a sh*t. He's not a conservative and never will be. He's been talking like a "genoooine conservative," complete with the racism, the white socialism and the sheer idiocy. Talk about an ideology for idiots, bigots and assholes! And now he's showing his true colors which are those of just a crony socialist. His latest lurch left this weekend was to suggest that raising the minimum wage might be the way to go. Sure, if you want to kill jobs and hurt poor people, but hey, it sure calms the guilt of rich liberals. Anyways, back to the point, the man is a turd, so this is not me whining that people won't support "my" guy.

BUT... when I look at the GOP/conservative world all vying to run a third party candidate, I find myself seeing something very wrong. To be clear:
● Trump threatened a third party run if he didn't get his own way. Waaaaah! "I'm a real man and I'll hold breath if I don't get my waaaaaay!"

● Romney's elitists are wining about a third party run because they don't like the uncouth Trump ("But Luvy, he's vuuulgar!"), even though he has won overwhelmingly with GOP voters... something which is ultimately the fault of Romney's elitist friends losing the faith of voters, by the way. They don't care though. Elections are not about the filthy public!

● The Religious Right is whining about a third party run because they aren't getting their way. Waaaah!

● Economic conservatives long ago decided to jump to the Libertarian Party because they didn't like the other Republicans... and they wanted to smoke pot. Waaaah!

● The Neocons have a long history of supporting other parties, i.e. the Democrats, whenever a nominee doesn't fit their views.

● Half our candidates whine about not supporting the nominee when they discover the voters don't support them.

● The "conservative" media fetishizes third party candidacy.
How in the world can an ideology work like this? "If you don't give me everything I want, I'm taking my toys and I'm going home!" Reagan once said that he could work with anyone who agreed with him on 80% of issues. Yet, the new Republican position is "I can't work with anyone who isn't 100% like me!" What a bunch of f**ing children!

Tell me why any rational voter should support people like this?

Conservatism was once a respected, thoughtful ideology. Today, it has devolved into tribes of whiny losers. It had become children in a school yard acting petulantly. What's next? Are we going to start lobbing boogers at each other at party conventions?

I'm not sure how this happened, but it explains why a population that is 60%+ fundamentally conservative in its beliefs can't find enough conservative voters to beat an ideology shared by less than 43% of the public.

Ug.
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Question: Favorite Cities

I get this question a lot, believe it or not. People ask me what are good places to live. I think ultimately, that depends on what you're looking for. For me, Colorado Springs has proven to be ideal, but I am intrigued by other cities as well. Here are some examples:


Downtown Denver: There is so much going on in downtown Denver and it might be pretty cool to have a loft there.

Austin, Texas: This is supposedly beautiful, young, fun and rich with a lot of activities you won't get anywhere else. Apparently, it has a great music scene too.

San Francisco: This is a gorgeous city. If you can put up with weirdness, I've heard amazing things about the place.

Savannah, Georgia: A gorgeous mix of Old America and youngest America.

Burlington, Vermont has amazing trees. London and Paris seem cool too. Vegas has fun, booze and hookers! Detroit has crime and drugs galore!

Notice that I didn't give much detail. Why? Because I'm lazy I want you to sell your own dream locales to the rest of us! Where else would you want to live and why?
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Gone Fishin' Open Thread

Yes, I am going fishin'. Okay, not really fishin', but to a place where they do go fishin'.

I will be back soon with stories to tell and maybe a new perspective of what's going on. But in the meantime, please feel free to keep the homefires burning. I will try to join in as I can.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

And Then There Was One

Trump won tonight. Cruz quit. The race is over and everybody knows it, except John Kasich who will find out when somebody bothers to tell him. So here’s what happens next...

The prediction of many on the right is that Trump will now get wasted by Hillary Clinton because Trump is uniquely unpopular among women and minorities, and Hillary has the whole media behind her!! We are DOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMED!!!!!!

Uh, no.

Where to begin. How about this....

1) Trump does no worse among women than any other Republican. Conservatives have really done their best to unify women and blacks and Hispanics and Muslims as an opposition force and that is now bearing fruit. Trump will do no worse than moderate Romney and will probably do better than the likes of Santorum or Cruz.

Moreover, Trump has been doing some things to help him with those voters. Look for a full-court press by his employees and family to present him as secretly a nice, fair, compassionate man.

2) The media is already behind Hillary. For months now, Trump has been smeared by the media left and right and he’s come through it pretty unscathed. In other words, there is no heat to turn up because the MSM has already been firing everything they have at him.

3) Hillary is not an opponent to fear. She’s a horrible public speaker who cackles. She has the warmth of an evil crone. She presents the very stereotype Hollywood uses to sell us on a minor villain. What’s more, she can’t stop putting her foot in her mouth. Be it the people of Indiana (“Indianoplace” as she “jokingly” called them), coal miners, women, or you name it... she keeps pissing people off. Finally, she has no energy to attracted supporters. She’s winning her primary with the lowest turnout in Democratic history. Moreover, she has few friends. Obama won’t support her. Bernie’s not going to help her. Elisabeth Warren won’t save her, nor will John Kerry or Joe Biden. And her husband is a political menace.

4) The GOP civil war... has ended. At this point, the GOP establishment is falling in behind Trump, as talk radio already has. Trump has won the fringe with his vague promises of a Krystalnacht for Muslims and a 10,000 foot tall wall made of bullship to stop the Mexican menace that no longer exists. Moderates began joining him before Florida. That has continued and will continue as he moderates. He has already moderated on most issues and he’s put out the word that his evil image has been for show. He’s also starting to get celebrity endorsements. When that happens, the public will follow. Moreover, groups like Black Lives Matter are working hard to make Trump seem like the victim, that plays well with the public.

5) The Democratic civil war, however, continues. In fact, it’s getting bloodier. Day by day, Bernie and his supporters are getting nastier and nastier about being cheated. And since they can’t win, there is nowhere for that anger to play itself out except at their convention and during the general election. Look for a massive leftist temper tantrum to hobble Bill’s wife.

6) What about the Republicans who refuse to support Trump? First, I doubt there will be very many as those people are already publicly reconsidering. Secondly, he seems to have found replacements for them under rocks and they are voting in record numbers. But even more importantly, Trump leads Clinton by 2% now and those people are already counted in her support. So if all of them refuse to support him, he still wins by 2%.

Consider this. At this point in the race, every prior Republican candidate for President was behind their Democratic opponent in the polls, often by double digits. Even Reagan and Mondale started the race essentially tied, and Reagan went on to score an amazing blowout victory. What you’re seeing right now in Clinton’s numbers are her supporters plus the Republicans who refuse to back Trump plus those who were strategically choosing her to make Trump seem weak against Cruz and Stimpy. Now that Cruz is out and Stimpy is irrelevant(er), those people will shift their allegiance in the polls to Trump, giving him a boost. At the same time, Clinton's numbers will dip slightly to account for this shift as well. That means that Trump's lead should grow by quite a bit. Then you add the herd mentality once it becomes clear he is in the lead and he should cruise to a win. I envision around 310 electoral votes.

This is how I see it playing out. Thoughts?
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More Fun Times In New York!

So today, Sheldon Silver (D), our former Speaker of the Assembly finds out exactly how long he will have to spend in prison for crimes against the taxpayers of the state of New York. Silver was convicted in February for collecting $5 million from two law firms over a series of years in exchange for using his influence to steer work to the firms, as well as providing state grants to a doctor who had patients suffering from illnesses associated with asbestos. US Attorney of SDNY Preet Bharara has requested that Silver be sentenced to only 14 years in prison which would be the largest prison sentence ever levied against a convicted state lawmaker, and is also asking that Silver return $5 million he pocketed from his corruption schemes.

The 73 year old Silver would be lucky to only get 14 years as his crimes could actually have gotten him up to 150 years. To the great annoyance of many people in New York, what he won't have to give up is his cushy state pension paid for the taxpayers for his 25+ years as an elected official. Hopefully, the state legislature will finally pass a bill that would take away the pension for Silver and all the other public servants who have been convicted of crimes against the taxpayers. It seems like a "no-brainer", but so far the legislators have failed to pass a bill or any other kind of ethics reform.

Not to be outdone by the Democrats in New York, the Republican State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R) was convicted in December for using his influence to get no-show jobs for his son, Adam, who was also found guilty in the scheme. They are set for sentencing May 12.

And in other news, US Attorney Bharara now has his sights set on Mayor de Blasio and just this week has subpoenaed many of the mayor's appointeees for information into his various "charitable foundations" he set up that were "coincidentially" funded by the various generous people who allegedly wanted to garner special favors from the mayor.

And in other, other news, Bharara has also set his sights on Governor Andrew Cuomo and his inner circle. The same federal prosecutors who convicted Silver and Skelos have now subpoenaed by one of Cuomo's closest confidante Joseph Percoco for information concerning alleged outside income during his tenure as Cuomo's top aide. It's part of a broadening probe into Cuomo's economic-development initiatives in upstate New York and may well prove to be the end of the promising political road for Andrew Cuomo.

Yeah, things have just gotten really real for our elected officials...
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Sunday, May 1, 2016

America, Seen Through The Draft

Sometimes, I speak about things unrelated to politics because I think they are interesting or have good lessons about life, humanity or America. This is one of those. The NFL draft is an amazing spectacle. The NFL puts on an incredibly compelling and interesting show, and they are rewarded with more people watching it than watch the NBA all-star game. For our purposes though, the NFL draft offers a tremendous look into the mindset of the American public. Indeed, the draft IS America in microcosm.

It Is... The American Dream: The NFL draft represents the American dream perfectly. You take a kid from the ghetto, or the suburbs, or even a foreign country. They have a dream: to be an NFL star. They work their butts off – there are no shortcuts, no cheating, no way to fake it. Indeed, they work harder than anyone else. Their effort slowly but surely leads them to this moment. Then their name gets called from the podium. In that moment, with their mom and dad sitting next to them, they become an instant star, known to millions with a million dollar paycheck coming. What could be more American?

It Is... A Cautionary Tale: While the draft is the ultimate dream come true, it also provides a cautionary tale. Those with talent they fail to develop... those who don't maintain their level of excellence... those who misbehave, i.e. athletes who alienate their teammates, commit crimes or do drugs, all find themselves crashing through the draft and sometimes out of it. Laremy Tunsil lost around $12 million because he got caught smoking pot in a gas mask this year. Just as America requires continued vigilance to remain a success, the draft requires athletes to keep striving.

That said, the NFL, like America, is forgiving too. All of these players who undermine themselves have a chance to redeem themselves. If they can overcome their flaws and prove themselves to these teams, they can still earn what they lost at the draft in later contracts. Just like America, the NFL believes in fresh starts and second chances.

It Is... Opinionated: Americans love to have opinions. They love to hear opinions. Ditto the draft. The NFL draft has become the biggest festival of armchair experts in the world. Everyone has opinions which they use to fill mock drafts, draft grades and spread in the comment sections of news sites. Every pick is analyzed, as are every non-pick, every trade, every non-trade, and just about everything else. The public just can't get enough. This tells us something really interesting about America. First, it tells us that Americans love to state their opinions. That fits with a people who like to make their own decisions. We also love being informed in our opinions. And we have a strong sense of community as it interests us what everyone else is thinking. This tells us that Americans are independent but not isolationist or loners. It also tells us that we value intellectual pursuits as a hobby. Americans really are thinkers. And it tells us that we are adept at sifting competing opinions to develop our own. Finally, it tells us that we love to second guess "the experts," i.e we judge our self-proclaimed superiors.

It is... All About Heroes: One of the things the NFL excels at is pageantry. Part of that is how they present the picks. Rather than just having an NFL person read them, they have different people do it who the NFL thinks will appeal to us and make the pick something special. This includes having picks read by retired NFL players, NFL players who win awards for charity, make-a-wish foundation kids, police, firemen, and soldiers. America loves its every-day heroes, and this is a microcosm of the people Americans feel most proudly about. Notice a complete lack of politicians and celebrities, the people our media normally views as representing America. Interesting, isn't it?

It is... Compassionate: It’s interesting that the biggest stories are those involving players who fall in the draft because of an unfortunate injury. Even more interestingly, these aren’t train-wreck stories presented for our schadenfreude. To the contrary, the public quickly gets behind these players and roots for them to get picked, and when the player is finally picked, the draft hall erupts in applause. Clearly, Americans sympathize with misfortune. What's more, it’s fascinating that these are billionaires making contracts with soon-to-be millionaires to play a meaningless game, and yet average people genuinely shed tears for their stories. That speaks volumes about America, and it belies the left's classism. Indeed, it suggests that Americans largely ignore a person's wealth or status and instead judge them by their behavior (see "cautionary tale" above) or by their circumstance. Indeed, no one looks at these kids and their mothers crying tears of joy next to them and says, "She must be happy about the money." Everyone is happy for what these kids have earned.

It is... Non-Racial: Everywhere you look at the draft, you see black and white players huddled together, black and white coaches in draft rooms, black executives, white executives, and black and white fans sitting side by side watching the event. Everyone is cheering on everyone else, no matter the race, and there is no mention of race whatsoever. This really is what we're starting to see throughout America. That should give everyone hope.

Interestingly, all of this non-racial interaction is despite the best efforts of the sports media, who cry racism at everything. Indeed, this desire to find racism is so ingrained in leftist journalists that just firing a black coach, hiring a white coach, benching a black quarterback, or even criticizing a black quarterback leads to howls of racism by them. One dipsh*t recent claimed that just comparing a black quarterback prospect to a failed black quarterback was racist, even though he admitted that other white quarterbacks were being given the same comparison. Nevertheless, the efforts of these people to stir up hate go ignored by the football public... just like is happening in our national race debate.

It is... Hope: America's greatest strength is its ability to renew itself constantly. When we make a mistake, we fix it. When something isn't working, we change it. Dying neighborhoods get gentrified. Fading businesses get turned around or become something new. People with dead-end careers go back to school and find something new. America is a land of perpetual hope for a better day tomorrow. The NFL draft mirrors that perfectly. The NFL draft is a chance for teams to turn themselves around or make themselves stronger. Whether you just won the superbowl or haven't had a winning season since Nixon was President, the NFL draft lets teams start fresh.

It is... Hated: Finally, the NFL draft also reveals the ugliness of a certain slice of the American public... usually leftists. There are people in this country who just hate everything about it. They hate its success. They hate its happiness. They hate the fact the public doesn't agree with them. The draft is the same, and these cynical assholes never miss a chance to attack it. The NFL players union misconstrued a quote from the commissioner and used that to claim the NFL wants the players to fall to create drama at the draft. It then issued a statement warning the draftees that the NFL is “not family,” it’s a business and it’s using them. Several "journalists" went on a crusade against the NFL inviting players to attend the draft because they supposedly became “unpaid tools” for the NFL to generate television ratings... as if that was a bad thing (fyi, the NFL shares its income 50%/50% between owners and player’s salaries and ratings drive revenues). Some wrote articles attacking the draft itself by claiming the NFL uses the draft to brainwash kids into giving up their freedom to choose their own team. Others attack the draft for robbing colleges of players (the same idiots hypocritically attack colleges for not paying their players) and for "misleading" the kids who won't be drafted. The NFL draft is worse than Hitler, apparently.

Yet, the public doesn't care. Ratings and revenues just keep going up as the game's popularity (and the popularity of the draft) spreads. Just like big-picture America, this show that (1) no matter how inspiring something is, someone will twist it and hate it and will seek to destroy it, and (2) the public ignores those people.

There are a lot of lessons here for anyone interested in winning over the public. Indeed, this tells us very clearly what the public values and what it does not, what it will tolerate and what it will not, and when it will listen and when it will not. Conservatives could learn a lot by watching the draft.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Backward Judgment

Let’s do a philosophical question tonight. This idea came from one of our own (Kit), but I’m stealing it because I find it interesting. Every age seems to look back upon the prior ages and shake their heads about the horribly “immoral” things the prior generation condoned. For example, we look back on the old South and wonder how they could think slavery was moral. So here’s the question: what will they look back at us for in 200 years and wonder how we could condone it?

I’ll go first.

As strange as it may sound, I think the thing they will be most shocked by is that we allow hunting and that we kill animals to eat them. Yes, I’m serious. As populations become increasingly urban/suburban, they’ve lost touch with animals as anything but pets. We see the results of this already as people are demanding better treatment (human-like treatment actually) for farm animals and the elimination of “inhumane” hunting practices.

It strikes me that the natural progression of this will be a slow but steady push toward vegetarianism, especially once science finds a way to duplicate the taste of meat (not like those awful veggie burgers, but real meat). At that point, I think you will see people conclude that killing animals is wrong, and they will eventually look down on us for all those tasty, tasty, tasty steaks we eat.

I think they will also look down on us for racism (by all races), religious intolerance (mainly Muslims, but also Christian fundamentalism), and for being anti-science (both things like opposing gene therapy and things elevating junk science, e.g. climate change, to a religion). This last one will be seen as superstitious.

Thoughts? How do we look in hindsight to you?
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If Not For Two Men...


All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.


Today April 26, 2016 marks the 452nd anniversary of day of William Shakespeare's baptism. Since there is no actual record of his birth and it was common in the 16th Century to baptize babies three days after their birth, it is commonly accepted that the actual date of Shakespeare's birth is April 23, 1564.

But April 23, 1616, the day that William Shakespeare shuffled off his mortal coil, was the day the best of all western literature almost died. To think that his plays and poetry could have been lost to history if not for two men who saw the value of his writing and saved them from oblivion. These two men were John Heminges and Henry Condell, "two of [his] friends, fellow actors and shareholders in the King’s Men theatrical company." We should all have such friends. What a loss to all of humanity, if not for these two men. To think how close the world came to never knowing the works of William Shakespeare, a playwright and poet of such profound insight to human nature who continues to prove that we humans have not changed, only the technology we use.

The following was published in the New York Post on April 20, 2016 in the run-up to the huge global commemoration of Shakespeare's death. It was written by Andrea Mays, the author of “The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio” and James L. Swanson, author of “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer.” It is worth sharing. To think how close the world came to never knowing the works of William Shakespeare, a playwright of such profound insight to human nature who continues with each reading to prove that human nature has not changed.

Shakespeare Died A Nobody Then Got Famous By Accident

April 23 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. The world will celebrate him as the greatest writer in the history of the English language. But his lasting fame wasn’t inevitable. It almost did not happen.

He was born in 1564 and died in 1616 on his 52nd birthday. A celebrated writer and actor who had performed for Queen Elizabeth and King James, he wrote approximately 39 plays and composed five long poems and 154 sonnets. By the time of his death, he had retired and was considered past his prime.

By the 1620s, his plays were no longer being performed in theaters. On the day he died, no one — not even Shakespeare himself — believed that his works would last, that he was a genius or that future generations would hail his writings.

He hadn’t even published his plays — during his lifetime they were considered ephemeral amusements, not serious literature. Half of them had never been published in any form and the rest had appeared only in unauthorized, pirated versions that corrupted his original language.

Enter John Heminges and Henry Condell, two of Shakespeare’s friends, fellow actors and shareholders in the King’s Men theatrical company. In his will he left them money to buy gold memorial rings to remember him. By about 1620, they conceived a better way to honor him — one that would make them the two most unsung heroes in the history of English literature. They would do what Shakespeare had never done for himself — publish a complete, definitive collection of his plays.

Heminges and Condell had up to six types of sources available to them: Shakespeare’s original, handwritten drafts; manuscript “prompt books” copied from the drafts; fragment “sides” used by the actors and containing only the lines for their individual parts; printed quartos — cheap paperbound booklets — that published unauthorized and often wildly inaccurate versions of half the plays; after-the-fact memorial reconstructions by actors who had performed in the plays and later repeated their lines to a scribe hired by Heminges and Condell; and the editors’ own personal memories.

Today, no first-generation sources for the plays exist. None of Shakespeare’s original, handwritten manuscripts survive — not a play, act, scene, page of dialogue or even a sentence. Without Heminges and Condell, half of the plays would have been lost forever.

They got to work after the bard’s death. At the London print shop Jaggard & Son, workers set the type by hand, printed the sheets one by one and hung them on clotheslines for the ink to dry. The process was methodical and slow, done by hand. It took two years.

When at last the First Folio was finished, it was a physically impressive object. At more than 900 pages, it had size and heft. The tallest copies, right off the press, untrimmed by the printer’s plow, measured 13½ by 8¾ inches.

Published in London in 1623, “Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories & Tragedies” revolutionized the language, psychology and culture of Western civilization. Without the First Folio, published seven years after the bard’s death, 18 iconic works — including “Macbeth,” “Measure for Measure,” “Julius Caesar,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Winter’s Tale” and “The Tempest” — would have been lost.

If the Bible is the book of God, then Shakespeare is the book of man on Earth. We use the words he invented, speak in his cadences, and think in his imagery. Whether writing about gravediggers or kings, he divined the profound commonality of man mourning life’s frailty and brevity. Not an intellectual or cloistered scholar, Shakespeare wrote to entertain the common people but spoke universal truths. We can see ourselves in his characters.

Without the First Folio, his evolution from poet to secular saint would never have happened. The story of that book is an incredible tale of faith, friendship, loyalty and chance. Few people realize how close the world came, in the aftermath of Shakespeare’s death, to losing him.

Today, it is one of the most valuable books in the world. In October 2001, one of them sold for more than $6 million. Of the 750 copies printed, two-thirds of them have perished over the last 393 years. Two hundred thirty-five survive.

The unpredictability of the future is one of Shakespeare’s great, recurring themes. He would relish the drama of his own improbable tale. Time has performed many conjuring tricks, but few so fantastic as the making of the First Folio.

Shakespeare went to his grave a mortal man destined to fade from memory. Today he is eternal.

In their introduction to the First Folio, Heminges and Condell implored us to “Reade him, therefore; and againe, and againe.” As we commemorate the 400th, let us celebrate the forgotten men and the luminous book that saved the name of William Shakespeare, in the words of Macbeth, “to the last syllable of recorded time.”

In Kit's post on Friday, he added this quote from Daniel Hannan on CapX.com: "If you try to claim him for any contemporary cause, you diminish rather than elevating that cause. Shakespeare will always argue both sides of a case better than you can.".

My response: I can argue that we CAN claim Shakespeare's writing/plays for contemporary causes, because he wrote about universal truths. Even his histories have relevence and can be "conceptualized" to fit any time... I have works on productions of MacBeth in feudal Japan, on Taming Of The Shrew in the Old West, and even a productions of Julius Caesar in revolutionary Cuba. The key is actually understanding these universal truths in the text.

And so you do not think that I am some snob, I think if Shakespeare were writing today, he would be writing for television...
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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Trump Wins

Last week, everyone was talking about Trump needing 1237 delegates. Some said he couldn’t get them, others said he could. I decided to look into this. My conclusion is that the race is over... Trump wins.

Here’s the thing. The media loves to create the impression of a horserace because it brings in readers. But it’s often not true. In this case, they’ve been using Cruz’s recent string of victories to claim that he has momentum which will result in a contested convention. But this is not accurate. Cruz’s strength is in the South and in caucus states and those are basically over. So where are we? Consider this.

To win the nomination, a candidate needs 1237 votes. Here is what they have right now.
Trump 846
Cruz 544
Kasich 149
Others 189
Uncommitted 57
Based on this, it seems reasonable that anything could happen, right? Well, here are the races which are coming up and the number of delegates each gives:
Tuesday
Connecticut (28)
Delaware (16) (wta)
Rhode Island (19)
Pennsylvania (71) (wta)
Maryland (38) (wta)

May 3
Indiana (57) (wta)

May 10
Nebraska (36) (wta)
West Virginia (34)

May 17
Oregon (28)

May 24
Washington (44)

June 7
California (172) (wta)
New Jersey (51) (wta)
New Mexico (24)
Montana (27) (wta)
South Dakota (29) (wta)
The “wta” means “winner takes all,” and that’s important. Based on prior results, it’s pretty clear to me that Trump will win the following winner takes all states: Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, California and New Jersey. These offer 348 delegates. Trump will win them all (though there may be an issue in Pennsylvania about the election of delegates). That brings his total to 1,194. That’s only 43 short of the amount he needs to win the nomination.

Trump will also win the following proportional states for sure:
Connecticut (28)
Rhode Island (19)
Oregon (28)
Washington (44)
New Mexico (24)
These offer a total of 143 delegates. To win the nomination, he will only need to win 31% of these. Looking at the New York results, which both fit a trend and which show his strength in more moderate states, Trump is likely to win 60% of these... or 85 votes... 42 more than he needs to win the nomination. Hence, Trump wins.

There’s more.

The following states are places where Trump could win, but I’m just not sure: West Virginia, Nebraska, Indiana and Montana. These offer another 154 delegates he could get some of. I don’t see him winning South Dakota.

And there’s more. There are another 200 delegate free agents. These are people who get to vote their conscience without regard to how any state votes. Most of these will be party insiders and won’t support him unless he’s obviously the winner. But if even 20% do support him, that’s another 40 delegates.

All of this tells me that Trump is guaranteed a win at this point. He should end up, at a minimum, at 43 over the number of delegates he needs with another 200-300 possible.

So how has he does this? Well, here’s an interesting map which shows the support of each candidate by county. Notice that outside of Cruz’s home state and a handful of caucus states, Trump pretty much sweeps the nation:
That kind of tells you what is going on.

In terms of how Trump will do in the general election, there have been some interesting moves by Team Trump lately. First, he’s hired some professional people. These people are working to create “message discipline,” and to make the campaign more polished. Trump’s family has been trying to change his image to be more “good fatherly” than “asshole rogue.” And Trump has dramatically cut his insults. At the same time, he’s taken some positions that will help him with the public, like opposing North Carolina’s anti-gay laws. Essentially, he’s now trying to come across as more moderate, more thoughtful, and more presidential. It will be interesting to see how this works.

Thoughts?
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