Thursday, September 30, 2010

Election Disaster Update

Let’s do a quick update on the latest election news, because it continues to look pretty darn bleak for the Democrats. . . and it’s getting bleaker. Indeed, the estimates for the number of House seats the Republicans will win keep going up, and the Democrats have begun infighting.

1. First, we have this little tidbit. Republicans are now leading in 54 Democratic House districts. In 19 more districts, the Democratic incumbent remains below 50% and the Republican challenger is within five points. Thus, some commentators are now raising their estimates to 73 seats. The modern record was 74 seats in 1922.

2. These numbers could actually be higher, but there is no polling for 160 Democratic House seats that were considered too blue to bother with. . . until now. So no one knows the full extent yet of what is going on. BUT, a ton of interest group money is pouring into what were considered “marginal” races, i.e. races where the Democrat was assumed to win with no problem. In some cases, millions of dollars in ads are being run against Democrats who last won re-election by as much at 10-15%. Money is a stronger indicator than polling of what is really happening.

3. Right now, Republican leaning independent groups are outspending Democratic leaning independent groups 4-1 in House races and 7-1 in Senate races, and large Democratic donors are holding back support.

4. In the Senate: In deep, deep blue Connecticut, Linda McMahon has pulled within 5% of the Democrat, putting that seat back into play, especially if there is a depressed Democratic turn out. New York Republican Joe DioGuardi is within 1% of Kirsten Gillibrand and has momentum, while NY Democrats seem to be imploding in scandal and infighting. And Harry Reid remains stuck in a dead heat somewhere between 44% and 48% each. This could mean a nine seat swing, which would bring the Senate to 50/50, and put Joe Biden to work.

5. Most Democrats are running away from the administration, and none are running ads defending ObamaCare, card check, the stimulus, the GM takeover, cap-and-trade, Iraq, or financial regulation. Instead, they are almost uniformly running negative ads against their Republican opponents. Most are touting their “independence” (no matter how fake) and some are actively running against their party:
• Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly is running against “Pelosi’s energy tax on Hoosier families.”

• Alabama Democrat Bobby Bright refused to say that he would vote for Pelosi as speaker again, as did Texas Democrat Chet Edwards.

• North Dakota Democrat Earl Pomeroy is actually touting how he voted for the Bush agenda.
I don’t put any faith these assertions as Democrats always play this game. . . lying is part of their cover-up, but Democratic insiders fear this will harm Democratic turnout because it’s turned so negative.

6. As Joe Biden tells Democrats to stop whining (always a great campaign slogan), Obama is whining that the Democrats aren’t motivated to support him. Also, he’s been blasting the Republicans every day for a week or two now, but it doesn’t seem to have helped -- his polls numbers keep hitting new lows all over the place. The latest to declare a new low is CNN, which had him at 42% support.

7. The Democrats just adjourned without voting on the Bush tax cuts, giving the Republicans yet another issue: a vote to adjourn is a vote for a tax increase. The 47 Democrats who “wanted” to vote to extend the tax cuts are now exposed as lying. . . again.

8. Ethics troubles continue to catch up to the Democrats. This time it was former lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti pleading guilty to funneling more than $380,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Democrats Jim Moran (Va), Peter Visclosky (Ind.), and John Murtha (Hell), who directed $137 million in defense contracts to Magliocchetti’s defense contractor clients. Even the MSM is saying that Pelosi’s ethics pledge has failed.

9. Bob Woodward just released a book that makes Team Obama look like a collection of infighting idiots and blows away any idea that they are competent when it comes to Afghanistan. It also continues to show Obama as indecisive and without military support.

10. Word has leaked out that the rats are planning to flee the White House, led by Chief Rat Rahm Emmanuel (leaving Friday). Apparently, even David Axelrod is leaving, ostensibly to start working on Obama's re-election campaign. Pre-election staff changes are a sign of turmoil.

11. Obama has given up on Strategy 517: Demonizing John Boehner, and is now moving on to Strategy No. 518: attacking the Republican Pledge which no one knows anything about. . . or cares about. If the election doesn't come soon, they will run out of strategies.

This is what happens during a route, and it’s only going to pick up speed as the situation gets worse and the Democrats get more desperate.

33 Days to Go!

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Messiah Denied

Have I got a treat for you! What is it? It’s Grade A, prime cut leftist anguish. An anti-Obama rant crawling with conspiracies and hand-wringing. Hmm good. More interestingly though, it shows us the problem Obama and the Pelosicrats will have in this election and it possibly portends an even bigger danger for them: civil war. All of this and more from a post entitled: “Dump Obama”!

Here is the “article” in question:

Dump Obama: more urgent than ever.

After all, a movement can be built around a candidate. That is what happened in 2008. There was a vibrant Obama movement, and when he revealed himself to be a corporate hack -- most egregiously in the healthcare debacle -- the movement was left high and dry. It had no solid principles, no organizational vehicle, no tactic, that was not dependent on Obama's leadership. Evidence of this was around jobs creation. After healthcare, unemployment was to be the "next big thing." When all Obama offered was a few more tax breaks for small business, the left had nothing to offer, nowhere to go.

And now Obama thinks he can spit in our eye with impunity.

Contrast this with 1968. McCarthy lost the nomination fight in Chicago. Kennedy died. The movement did not die. The anti-war movement did run up against its own limitations, not the least of which was lacking a plan that extended beyond Nixon ending the war, and a plan on how to move away from the campuses. So it then died. It was transformed into a strictly candidate movement -- the George McGovern movement in 1972 -- and it went down with him. But it did not die with McCarthy and Kennedy.

I’m not surprised that someone noticed that the whole time the Democrats were bashing Wall Street they were simultaneously doing its bidding with a vengeance, but I am surprised anyone on the left noticed. They usually accept the Democrats’ rhetoric and assurances of “good intentions” as enough. Not anymore?

In any event, this raises some interesting questions:

First, does this confirm the Democrats have lost the left? I think so. Another post at this website (Open Left) answers the question “what is the difference between Democrats and Republicans” thusly: “Democrats don't believe in their own policies, and don't want to talk about them. Republicans do.” That’s not love.

Secondly, what does this tell us about the success of the progressive takeover of the Democratic Party? The progressives spent billions of Soros dollars trying to take over the Democratic Party, doing everything from getting their own people into leadership positions to dominating the communications outlets that support them. If you believe the post above, all of their efforts got them nothing. I think that's mistaken. They did win the party, but they put their trust in the wrong guy, a guy with no experience, no intellectual curiosity, no actual ideology except unfocused anger, and no real interest in doing anything more than enjoying the perks of office.

Third, could this be the beginning of a reformation for the left? The left is in trouble worldwide because it has nothing to offer except spite. Indeed, leftism once boasted an impressive (if wrong) intellectual tradition, but that ideology has given way to factionalism. The modern left consists purely of whiny, hateful, self-described victims whose sole “ideological” concerns are to punish those they despise. To compensate for surrendering in the war of ideas, they now put their faith in leaders who they hope will impose their will, even as they aren’t willing to explain what their will really is. I’ve explained this before HERE and you can see it confirmed above. If the left were to abandon hero worship and replace it with ideas, then it might once again become a thriving ideology. But I don’t see that happening. For while this leftist whines about no longer putting all of their eggs in the basket of a single leader (a wise move), their lack of ideology requires it. How else do you implement something you are afraid to discuss openly and which is little more than a collection of grievances? Moreover, the reflex to put your faith in an expert to solve your problems is a personality defect that requires more than simply getting upset at your latest savior. Thus, they may be finished with Obama, but the next messiah is just around the corner.

All in all, this paints a grim picture for the Democrats. These people won’t be placated before November and probably not by anyone currently in power. Indeed, I’m thinking this may be the opening salvo in a new civil war. And if the history of leftist civil wars has taught us anything, it is to watch for purges, some terrorist actions (political and otherwise), and an attempt to destroy the village to save it.

Get your popcorn ready!

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The New Democratic Agenda!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am a sucker for lost causes. So this weekend I decided to take up the lostest causes of all: the Democratic Party. To help them, I put together an agenda that would regain the initiative for them in 2010 and beyond. Yes, I did that thing. Follow this plan my Democratic friends and you will win this election. . . guaranteed. Without further adieu, I present to you the new Democratic Agenda:

1. The Freedom From Speech Act: People hate hate speech. This act will ban any speech that anyone might consider offensive and any words that could be used to express such thoughts, no matter how such words are spelled on twitter.

2. The Random Choice Act: Discrimination is everywhere and our government has turned a sight-impaired eye for far too long. This act will ban discrimination of any kind, rational or irrational, in any kind of choice. That’s right. To end the specter of discrimination, this law will hereafter require that all decisions be made using a random decision generator, with the results posted on the internet.

3. The American Film Re-Restoration Act: Have you ever been to the movies and just found yourself so offended because of hidden messages in the films? Are you tired of seeing thinly-burqaed two hour promotions for the NRA? Does it bother you that films hide behind stereotypical bad guys when we all know who the real bad guys are but the rich white men who run studios won’t let us tell the truth? Well, we’re going to set aside $850 billion stimulus dollars to correct the film-based injustices of the past. Our first plan will be to repair Saving Private Ryan by digitally removing all the guns, by replacing these so-called “Nazis” with Republicans, and by moving these “Nazi” deathcamps to Crawford, Texas.

4. The George Bush Did It Act: From now on, by law, once a week, all editorialists will voluntarily write how something they have complained about during the week can be attributed to George Bush.

5. The Let My Voters Go Act: Prison discriminates against criminals. You don’t see non-criminals locked up. This seems like an insidious form of discrimination. This act will free all criminals unless the prison can prove that it has not unfairly targeted the convicted.

6. The Carbon Free America Act: There is an element in nature that is dangerous beyond all others. The release of this element causes the planet to warm, it can be radioactive, breathing it can kill you, and it can seriously scorch your droid. Rich Republican businessmen love this element, and they all possess it. . . carbon. It’s time we stood up to this monster to make the world safe for our children. Hence, this legislation will require the country to go 100% carbon free. That’s right, we’re going to do whatever it takes to rid our country of carbon.

That or we could just introduce a new logo.

Anything you would add?

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Republican Agenda: A Stinker

It’s fairly obvious the Republican Pledge hasn’t excited anyone. The candidates have given it lukewarm support at best, typically calling it “a good start,” and then never mentioning it again. The public pretty much ignored it. Conservative bloggers picked out a couple acceptable pieces and shook their heads at the rest and the missed opportunity. I’m feeling less charitable. I see it as sad confirmation that the Republican leadership doesn’t get it, and I see them blowing a greater historic opportunity than was handed Obama in 2008.

Here’s the good as I see it: The existence of this document shows that the Republican leadership finally understands that being the party of “Not-Obama” won’t help them once they get into leadership.

Now let’s talk about the bad:
• It’s 21 pages long. The public won’t read a document this long, you can’t incorporate it into a political message, and this demonstrates a disorganized mind that doesn’t know how to explain what it believes. Moreover, it’s oddly “talky” at times, like a drunk arguing with himself.

• The more you need to tell people that your plan is “new” and “different,” the less likely that is to be true, and saying this as often as the Pledge does sounds paranoid.

• It’s wonkish. It’s long on jargon and insider ideas and short of anything the public can relate to. When a “Pledge” starts providing specific examples of how taxes affect a family of four and it credits Deloitte Tax LLP for the example, you know the author has no idea what the purpose of a pledge should be. This pledge reads like an IRS instruction manual.

• Oh look, meaningless charts.

• It mistakes minutia for significance. For example, they’re going to rein in the “Red Tape Factory” and put an end to “the 191 regulations” that cost employers $100 million a year! Why, that’s almost 0.000007% of the American economy! Perhaps they meant "reign in"?

• They’re going to cancel the stimulus. Great. But then they say they want to cut discretionary spending to 2008. Of course, 2008 is the year the government got into the “spend like a drunken sailor” business. They should have picked 2006 if they’re serious.

Moreover, they’re excluding entitlements and defense spending from these cuts, making this promise entirely meaningless. Indeed, they’re talking about saving all of $100 billion. . . less than 0.3% of the budget. Aim high my friends.

• They continue tinkering with the tax code. For example, they propose giving a 20% tax “deduction on income” for small businesses. That’s nice, but what about reforming the system across the board rather than carving out more confusion?

• Too much of it lacks specifics. They’re going to stop “job-killing taxes,” I guess the rest are safe.

• They want to end government control over Fannie and Freddie. . . which means what exactly? Are they going to end the laws that made lenders give out bad loans too or are we just going to cut these mega-slush funds free from oversight? How about eliminating them instead?

• They’re going to root out waste and duplication in government. . . a standard, meaningless promise that usually costs taxpayers more than it saves.

• They plan to put "hard caps" on discretionary spending, which sounds great except those caps are routinely and bipartisanly raised.

• They’re going to cut the Congressional budget, which sound great but is like promising to drink one less glass of water when your house is flooded.

• They promise to take "the long term view" on entitlements, a promise they immediately break by not mentioning entitlements again except to exclude them from cuts.

• In health care, they promise to repeal ObamaCare, which is good. They will allow insurers to sell across state lines, reform medical malpractice laws and expand HSA accounts, all of which I like if the details match -- there are no details. They promise to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion, which is about time. Then they promise to “use common sense to strengthen the doctor patient relationship.” That’s right, you will now get a free dinner for two with your doctor at the federal restaurant of your choice. Oh, and they’re going to improve your marriage by fiat and make your kids smarter and less ugly. Would someone serious about reform make this kind of nonsense promise?

• The entire plan to reform Congress is inside baseball and won’t change a thing. I’ve addressed it here: LINK.

• Their foreign policy stuff is awful. They’re going “to keep terrorists out of America.” Thank God, I thought they were going to issue invites. Actually, this cryptic statement is about keeping Gitmo open, which hasn’t been an issue since Obama decided to ignore his promise to close it. They’re opposed to foreign terrorists having “Miranda rights,” another issue that went away when the Democrats decided that fighting a war is harder than bashing Bush. They favor tough sanctions on Iran, which of course don’t work, and parroting Obama’s campaign plan is pretty ridiculous. They also plan to secure the border and enforce immigration laws. . . believe it when you see it.
Let’s be honest, this Pledge stinks. It lacks vision. . . actually, that’s not quite right: its vision is “let’s turn the clock back to 2008.” It will do nothing to stimulate the economy, free up our economy, encourage hiring or investing, cut the growth of government, rein in the expansion of government, improve health care, correct our mistaken foreign policy, bring energy independence, improve education, or anything else.

This document reads like someone focus-group tested every idea of the last 10 years and then picked all of those that scored "somewhat positive/indifferent." It’s written by people who don’t understand politics or governing, and its authors delude themselves if they think it will address voters' concerns or change anything except the direction of the public's anger.

Sorry, no sale.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Solving The Riddle of the Tea Party

It’s taken me a long time to wrap my head around the Tea Party. What had me confused was the strangely contradictory messages it seems to keep sending. It wasn’t until I realized that there are two “Tea Parties” (one real, one fake) that all the pieces began to fall into place. And now that I understand what’s going on, I can firmly say that the Republican leadership/establishment is doomed, the Democrats are about to become a permanent minority, and the country is undergoing a seismic shift that will reshape our politics. . . and not everyone is going to like it.

Let’s start with the real Tea Party. When I’ve spoken with actual Tea Party people and I watched their responses to events, a clear pattern began to emerge. These people are largely new to politics and they come from across the political spectrum. They are bound together by a common set of beliefs that they feel is no longer represented in Washington: smaller government, fiscal sanity, an end to interest group politics and corruption, and the replacement of ideology with common sense principles. And most importantly, they are serious about remaking the country to reflect these views, i.e. they have no interest in being a mere protest movement. Indeed, they have set goals and then methodically gone about learning how to achieve those goals.

Moreover, unlike other interest groups, these people are not interested in power, money, fame or political theater. They resent celebrity, which they see as not serious, and anyone who tries to exploit them. Indeed, they disdain leaders entirely. We know this from several facts. First, they are loosely organized with no chain of command, an unheard of structure for a political movement. Secondly, they’ve refused to anoint a leader; indeed they reacted angrily whenever anyone tried to claim the mantle of Tea Party leader. Third, they’ve set about doing the kind of work that doesn’t require a leader. In other words, rather than rushing to the Jones campaign and demanding that Jones be made President so (s)he can impose the Tea Party agenda, they’ve set about infiltrating the Republican Party from the ground up and doing whatever they can individually to fix whatever they can reach. They are in essence a million do-it-yourselfers who have decided to renovate their portion of our political system.

All of this adds up to something fascinating and truly rare in human history: a spontaneous popular movement. Popular movements occur when a critical mass of people suddenly all get the same idea AND choose to act upon it. These are really rare and really powerful. In fact, the only ones I can think of are the Civil Rights Movement, the abolitionist movement, the fall of Eastern European communism, the French Revolution, and the creation of Protestantism.

What separates these from the way societal change normally happens historically is that most change is the result of a determined group of leaders seeking to impose change upon the population from the top down. Examples of this range from the Communist Revolution to the Inquisition to the American Revolution. By comparison, a popular movement is based on a shared set of ideas and tends to be leaderless, meaning that the movement draws its momentum and goals from the collective beliefs of its participants and it spreads person to person until it simply overwhelms the old way of doing things from the bottom up. This makes these movements impossible to combat and much more permanent because the change happens in the very belief system of the population. For example, the Civil Right Movement didn’t just make discrimination illegal, it changed the culture so that people began to view discrimination as wrong and thus turned against the practice whether or not it remained legal. Moreover, you can’t stop a popular movement by discrediting its “leaders” because they aren’t what drives the movement; they are in fact irrelevant to it.

If this is an accurate assessment of the Tea Party, and I think it is, then the future looks like this: the Tea Party represents a permanent major realignment in American thinking, from which a new Republican Party will emerge as thousands of Tea Party people flood the GOP and instill their values in it. I understand this is already quietly happening. This will take some time, but it is inevitable, and its completion will be marked by a purge of the leadership.

When completed, the New Republican Party will advocate (1) smaller government, (2) fiscal sanity, (3) an end to government-sponsored privilege, and (4) an end to the party’s cozy relationship with lobbyists. This means an end to the relationship with K-Street and Big Business. The New Republican Party also will place a lower priority on social issues and likely won’t be as ideologically strident, which probably means a rocky relationship with the Religious Right, though the two groups clearly share some views, i.e. ending government funding of abortion. (As an aside, don’t confuse the Tea Party with the Libertarians on either social or economic issues; the Tea Party is not anti-government so much as it favors a humbler government, and it’s not libertine by any stretch.)

As a result of these changes, I would envision the establishment wing leaving the party. In their place, I would look for conservative Democrats, who are finding themselves unwelcome in the increasingly far left Democratic Party, to join this New Republican Party. This should produce a strong, lasting majority.

So what took me so long to figure this out? It’s this second “Tea Party” I mentioned, which had me confused just as it’s blinded the establishment to the true nature of the real Tea Party. What the establishment sees as the “Tea Party” is a group of opportunists who spend their time trying to get headlines. These people are political and celebrity opportunists, lobbyists, armchair revolutionaries, and establishment conservatives looking to hijack political muscle. These are the people who were for the bridge to nowhere before they found it brought them more celebrity to be against it, who charged fees to speak at Tea Party events, who disclaimed leadership of the Tea Party while trying to become its national spokesman, who formed alleged-Tea Party groups using lobbyist money and put lobbyists on their board of directors, who claimed to support the Tea Party (after attacking it) while trying to redefine it to fit their own ideologies. These people are a rogues gallery of bogus-outsiders who use victimology and conspiracy theories to build a cult of personality, and who skillfully exploit a symbiotic relationship with the media to further their own fame and fortune. These people have nothing to do with the real Tea Party and are merely a distraction to a movement that does not need them.

I know some of you won’t accept this fact, but it’s true. The Tea Party has no leaders because it is not a movement that is amenable to leadership -- it is not a cult of personality sitting at home waiting for the right politician to lead it to the promised land. It is, instead, a million average people all struck by the same idea at the same time who are going quietly about achieving their individual goals. They've learned that they cannot rely on politicians to change the system, so they’ve decided to change it themselves.

Thus, put your faith in a Palin, a Bachmann, a Beck, an Armey at your own risk, for they don’t represent what is really going on. For that, put your faith in a BevfromNYC or a PittsburghEnigma and a million others like them. . . they’re the ones who are changing the world.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Senate Races Update

You may have heard about a little thing called the 2010 election. Let’s see how things are going in the Senate. A total of 36 Senate seats are up for grabs. Of those, 18 are currently held by Republicans, the other 18 are held by Democrats. Those numbers are going to change.

Safe Republican Incumbents
Richard C. Shelby -- Alabama
John McCain -- Arizona
Johnny Isakson -- Georgia
Michael D. Crapo -- Idaho
Charles E. Grassley -- Iowa
David Vitter -- Louisiana
Tom Coburn -- Oklahoma
Richard Burr -- North Carolina
Jim DeMint -- South Carolina
John Thune -- South Dakota

Republican Seats Leaning/Safe Republican
42% Joe Miller (R)
27% Lisa Murkowski (I)
25% Scott McAdams (D)
41% Marco Rubio (R)
30% Charlie Crist (I)
23% Kendrick Meek (D)
61% Jerry Moran (R)
28% Lisa Johnston (D)
54% Rand Paul (R)
39% Jack Conway (D)
53% Roy Blunt (R)
43% Robin Carnahan (D)
New Hampshire
51% Kelly Ayotte (R)
44% Paul Hodes (D)
49% Rob Portman (R)
41% Lee Fisher (D)
58% Mike Lee (R)
28% Sam Granato (D)

Democratic Seats Leaning/Safe Republican
65% John Boozman (R)
27% Blanche Lincoln (D)
50% Dan Coats (R)
34% Brad Ellsworth (D)
North Dakota
69% John Hoeven (R)
25% Tracy Potter (D)
49% Pat Toomey (R)
41% Joe Sestak (D)
51% Ron Johnson (R)
44% Russ Feingold (D)

Democratic Toss Up/Undecided Seats
47% Barbara Boxer (D)
43% Carly Fiorina (R)
49% Ken Buck (R)
45% Michael Bennet (D)
41% Alexi Giannoulias (D)
37% Ron Kirk (R)
48% Sharron Angle (R)
48% Harry Reid (D)
Republican Seats Leaning Democratic

Democratic Seats Leaning/Safe Democratic
53% Richard Blumenthal (D)
44% Linda McMahon (R)
53% Chris Coons (D)
42% Christine O’Donnell (R)
New York
49% Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
39% Joe DioGuardi (R)
51% Patty Murray (D)
46% Dino Rossi (R)
Safe Democratic Incumbents
Daniel Inouye -- Hawaii
Barbara Mikulski -- Maryland
Chuck Schumer -- New York
Ron Wyden -- Oregon
Patrick Leahy -- Vermont
The Senate currently sits at 59 Democrats to 41 Republicans. Interestingly, none of the 18 Republican seats up for grabs appear to be leaning toward the Democrats. Of the 18 Democratic seats, nine are considered safe, four remain up for grabs, and five appear all but lost. Thus, the Republicans should do no worse than 54 Democrats to 46 Republicans. Assuming that the toss ups go as they currently stand only gives the Republicans one more seat: 53 Democrats to 47 Republicans.

This is worse than our prior estimates because the Democrats have improved their changes in Nevada, Delaware and Connecticut. However, I still suspect Reid will lose in Nevada because he has yet to break the 50% mark and undecideds tend to go against the incumbent. Also, I suspect there will be a 2-3% boost for Republicans across the board based on voter enthusiasm. Even with this, however, it still appears that the Republicans will do no better than 52-48.

So let’s hope the enthusiasm stays high for 2012.

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It's Not That Simple...

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss how the Tea Party is bringing much-needed common sense back into politics. But before I do that, I want to dispel this idea that governing should be simple if we only used common sense. What I'm talking about is best illustrated in a recent commercial which asked, “what would the world be like if firemen ran it.” As the firemen sit in the legislature, the chief asks, “who wants clean water?” Everyone raises their hands, and the chief says, “easiest job in the world.” Sadly, many people believe this utopian view is how government should be and they see any suggestion that governing is more complex than that as an attempt to keep "real" people out of government. This is utter nonsense.

To explain why, let’s start with the most basic principle ensconced in law. This is one we can all agree upon and which most people view as so entirely obvious and unambiguous that they think it could be put into law “as is,” and they complain that only a lawyer could see ambiguity in it: thou shalt not kill. Unambiguous, right?

Well, let me ask: what if I kill in self-defense? Suddenly, we've found an exception and the statement is no longer as inviolate as it seemed. But this is only one exception and everyone understands what self-defense is, right? Ok, is it self-defense if I kill someone who wasn’t actually trying to kill me? Does his intent matter or how I perceived it? What if I acted preemptively, before he made the threat? What if I started the fight or if I could flee with no danger? What if I killed an innocent bystander in the process? Does it matter if the danger passed before I finished the killing? Does it matter if I was defending someone else instead of myself? What if they didn’t want my help? What if I was drunk? What if someone else made me drunk or a medication made me lose touch with reality? What if the medication was illegal? Ok, forget self-defense, what if my killing took place on a battlefield where the government instructed me to kill? Can I kill in the government's name? Anyone at any time? What if I’m violating orders? What if I kill an enemy soldier who has surrendered? What if I kill a friendly soldier by mistake? What if I kill purely by accident? What if the accident resulted from my carelessness or recklessness or indifference? What if I built a dangerous product that I knew would kill someone? What if I only suspected it might? What if they misused it, but I knew they probably would? What if the person I killed was about to die anyway? What if they were being eaten by a shark, and they asked me to shoot them to stop the suffering? Does any of this apply to animals? Should it apply to a fetus? What if the woman was on her way to get an abortion when I killed the fetus? I could go on for pages.

Do you see the problem? It sounds easy to say “this is an obvious principle and there’s no reason it should be complicated” until you stop to realize that it is complicated. This is the clearest, most agreed upon principle across the planet, but it lends itself to hundreds of pages of discussion because there are thousands of scenarios to consider. And as you get further and further along, you’ll find that opinions begin to diverge until you find scenarios where there is no clear consensus. Now imagine how much more complex this becomes with less clear issues like “respect another’s property” or with dividing up the use of river water.

You can often see that people don’t grasp that these issues are inherently complex when they start talking about the Constitution. Too many people who adopt the simplistic view will spit out a single phrase they’ve picked from the Constitution and they will assume that settles the issue. For example, gun people often say, “shall not be infringed,” to argue that the Constitution clearly forbids any regulation. But that’s an irrationally simplistic view of the Constitution, as even the “no infringers” will simultaneously agree that police should have the power to disarm you in a confrontation and that wardens can keep prisoners from buying guns. Both of these are infringements. And if you accept that the phrase “shall not be infringed” cannot be taken literally, i.e. it does allow for infringements, then you’ve interjected ambiguity, the same ambiguity the simplistic view finds so offensive.

Moreover, despite popular opinion, the Constitution is not a complete guide for government nor is it a detailed list of dos and don’t. . . it is ambiguous. For example, while the Constitution provides a list of rights and powers, that list is crawling with vague terms, such as allowing the government to impose regulations for the “health, safety and welfare” of the people. Taken literally, that would seem to grant unlimited power. It took the Supreme Court to decide that the Bill of Rights limited state governments as well as the Feds -- the Constitution is silent on that point. So should we undo that? It's the rare literalist who says we should. Even more interestingly, the Constitution doesn’t actually tell us who decides what's constitutional, the Supreme Court grabbed that power in Marbury v. Madison, yet everyone seems to accept that now.

There is also often a utopian flavor in the simplistic line of thinking. You often hear: why don’t the politicians just do what the people want? But which people? And what if the majority want to enslave the minority? We’ve asked before, should the role of representatives be to do the will of the majority in their district or should they use their judgment? None of our readers was willing to say entirely one or the other, in other words you all accepted an ambiguity in the system.

The point to all of this is that the simplistic view that governing is all about just reading the Constitution and doing the common sense thing is flawed. Simplicity is not a sign of purity of thought or wisdom, it is a sign of ignorance of reality. (The same holds true in science as well, where answers usually only seem simple when you’re missing critical details.)

Now, that said, let me state that we need a return to common sense principles in government. Too many politicians live in a world of semantics and false logic where verbal games and procedure trump substance. They see a critical difference between a fee and a tax, even though both are the same. They see a reduction in a projected rate of growth as a cut. They think they can balance a budget by taking spending “off budget” or by adding in fake future cuts that will never happen. This is where common sense is badly needed.

What we need are people who understand the complexities of making laws, but who also grasp the common sense principles about how a government should be run. We need to avoid the snake oil sellers who tell us “it’s simple, I’m just gonna lift the hood and fix it,” but we also need to avoid the snakes who think they can dance on the head of a pin.

This isn't that hard, but it's just not simple.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Media Bias: Finding Real America

Bias is a defect in the thought process that interferes with a person’s ability to see the truth because it causes us to ignore or downplay facts we don’t agree with, to over-rely on facts we like, and to dismiss valid arguments from sources we don’t like. At its most benign, bias causes us to simply award the benefit of the doubt in favor of things we want to believe. But bias can also cause us to intentionally become dishonest in our analysis. Some people are so overcome with their own biases that they don’t even understand how blind they’ve made themselves, and how much it permeates their thinking. That brings us to Joe Klein.

Joe Klein is a liberal Democrat, though not a leftist. He probably considers himself a moderate, but what Democrat doesn’t? He’s also a journalist for Time. And like all liberal journalists, he periodically needs to assure himself that he’s not suffering from bias. Thus, like so many before him, he’s taking a trip out into “real America,” beyond the talking points, to find out what real people are thinking. But is he really or is he simply feeding his own biases? Let’s look.

He begins by assuring himself that he intends to be honest. He “doesn’t trust the things [he’s] been seeing on TV and in the papers,” and he wants to get to the truth. And what doesn't he trust? Well, he doesn't trust the "talking points" being bandied about on Fox News and MSNBC that tell us the public is angry, and he doubts the polls tell the real story. Indeed, he assures us again, he’s “not going to . . . troll for quotes that reflect the polls,” no, he’s going to “report what he sees” and “let the chips fall” where they may. In theory this sounds fair, except that he admits the polls show a "big Republican year," and it’s unsurprising that a liberal would want to find the “real” (read: contradictory) story to such polls. Indeed, it would be a lot easier to believe this was an unbiased impulse if he had the same desire in 2008, when the polls supported his view. It would also help if he hadn't defined "anger" in purely Democratic terms, which of course he does -- anger at the war and anger at the economy... nothing more.

Having set his goal of finding evidence to disprove the polls, he is surprised to immediately discover that he’s meeting “roughly equal numbers of people on both sides,” despite the polls showing only 40% support for the Democrats. He sees this as significant, but he’s wrong, this is the result of his bias. In a country of 300 million people, that 40% figure means that there are 60 million more right-leaners than left-learners this year, and those left-leaners are all concentrated in the coastal cities. So he should find an overwhelming number of conservatives in Middle America, but he doesn't. Why? Because of the route he selects. He tells us he’s going “diagonally across the country” from New York to Los Angles. A diagonal trip from New York to L.A. lets him avoid the entire conservative South. But more importantly, his diagonal claim is false, he’s actually traveling from New York to Philadelphia to Buffalo to Detroit to Wisconsin before dropping down to Kansas City. That’s not diagonal, it's a tour of big liberal cities. Thus, it’s no surprise that he’s found a large number of liberals. Moreover, everywhere he goes, he meets with local Democratic candidates, which makes finding liberals a guaranteed certainty.

How he discusses these Democrats further exposes his bias. In each case, he starts by personalizing them, something he does not do with the Republicans he meets. Further, anything the Democrats say, he immediately confirms with a quote by some "neutral" person, whereas he immediately contradicts any quote given by a Republican. For example, his first stop is with a Democratic House candidate in Philadelphia. This Democrat is a former paratrooper and prosecutor, and we learn that this guy had the genius idea to make his pamphlets black and white because this would save money AND because people are more interested in reading black and white material. How do we know? Because Klein immediately confirms that “all along the train platform, people were reading” this material. He also points out that this candidate did this over the objections of his staff. Thus, we have a brave, maverick genius.

It takes five more paragraphs before he mentions the Republican (Meehan), whom he does not personalize in any way. Instead, he introduces Meehan by telling us that Meehan claims that people are complaining about the stimulus. But in the next sentence, Klein shoots this down by uncritically quoting a steel worker who says, “don’t let anyone tell you the stimulus isn’t working.” He also points out that the Republican is handing out glossy, color pamphlets, something that would be irrelevant if he hadn’t already pointed out the heroic brilliance of using black and white pamphlets.

And that’s just the beginning. Over the next several entries he:
• Meets with a handful of “model Muslim immigrants” in Detroit (all born in the US and all small business owners), who were Republicans until recently until Bush and Gingrich (who they once met) started talking about Muslims like they are “Nazis.” He then uses a quasi-joke to chide Christians for not getting the “don’t judge others thing.”

• He talks to a UAW couple who hate Palin and love Obama and the UAW.

• He assures us that Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold is a great man.

• He tries to tell us that Missouri Democrat Robin Carnahan has real Tea Party credentials.

• In Iowa, he delivers an ugly attack on a Sarah Palin speech. Actually, he hides behind “quotes” from his wife so he can pretend he’s not doing the savaging.
And what about the Republicans he meets?
• In Wisconsin, he meets a “deeply conservative” man who doesn’t like the Republicans because they aren’t conservative enough for him. Oddly, this “conservative” stresses that he’s pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and he thinks Obama’s “doing what he can,” he just suffers from inexperience.

• And in Ohio, he meets with Senate candidate Rob Portman, who he describes as “a conservative, no question, but not one of the lunatics--he's solid, sane and civil.”
I think Klein is being genuine in his belief that he’s looking for an honest assessment of America. But his biases blind him. He seeks out big, rustbelt cities and avoids conservative areas, he seeks out Democratic candidates wherever he goes, he humanizes the Democrats he meets because he likes them, and he defines away any conservative he meets who doesn't share his views as a “lunatic” or cynical. These are classic examples of bias, and they blind him to the truth that he hasn't found real America, he's set out to confirm his prejudices.

And he’s not alone. The Economist has a guy who does the same “road trip” thing. His route is from New York City to upstate New York, and his view into “real America” comes from his talks with a New York City lawyer with whom he travels to the lawyer's villa in Italy twice a year. I’ve seen reporters go to Maryland, suburban Los Angeles or suburban San Francisco/Oakland to find “real America.” When they venture to places like the South, it’s usually inner city Atlanta or the only Democratic districts in Texas. And whenever they meet someone who expresses things they don't like, they simply dismiss them as unrepresentative crazies. It's easy to confirm your own views when you go where people like you hang out and when you dismiss anyone who doesn't fit your views.

But attacking Joe Klein isn't my only point. Conservatives are equally guilty of this type of bias too. Too many have blinded themselves to the "real world" because they hang out with people who think like they do, they only listen to people who tell them what they want to hear, and they pick out the things they want to believe. Ignorance is never a plus, and bias-induced ignorance only sets you up for disaster. We should all ask ourselves at all times, am I really considering the evidence, or am I just reinforcing my own biases?

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Monday, September 20, 2010

GOP Leadership Continues To Flail

The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.” -- Napoleon Bonaparte

I think we’re getting to the point where John Boehner and Eric Cantor should resign from the leadership. The latest incidence of cowardice and stupidity involves earmarks.

Earmarks are a problem. They aren’t the be-all-end-all problem that John McCain envisioned because they are only a minor percentage of the total budget (about 0.8% of the budget -- $20 billion out of $2.4 trillion), but their effect is corrosive. Earmarks are the tool individual Congress members use to bribe the people in their districts with their neighbor’s money. This is how the government gets involved in building bridges to nowhere and studying whether pornography excites hummingbirds, and this is why West Virginia has become a ward of the Federal Government.

The problem with earmarks is that they represent a corrupt system that judges the success or failure of individual members on their ability to score pork, rather than their effect on the government as a whole. If a member doesn't bring home enough projects to the district, then others stand ready to replace them. Thus, the incentive is to keep grabbing. And even if a particular district decides against getting its share of the plunder, other districts stand ready to take up what they've left on the table. Consequently, the system is set up where the rational choice for all concerned is to keep plundering and thereby always expand the size and scope of government.

And as if this were not bad enough, a system like this encourages dirty dealing, as we've seen repeatedly when Congress members and lobbyists have been arrested for trading campaign contributions for earmarks. Interesting, as the Washington Examiner reminded us this weekend, earmarks also are what allowed the Democrats to buy the votes of Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Bill Nelson to secure the passage of ObamaCare.

Thus, I was heartened in March when every single House Republican voted to ban earmarks. Said Mike Pence at the time: “Now House Republicans are going to the American people and saying we want a clean break from the runaway spending in the past. And that's going to be quite a contrast from this Congress and the administration.”

But that was then and this is now, and these are career politicians we are talking about. According to the Politico, both John Boehner and Eric Cantor “are leaving the door open to allowing earmarks after a one-year party-imposed moratorium.” Yep. Nothing says "principled stand" quite like agreeing to stop for only a short period of time, does it?

There is no excuse for this unprincipled cowardice, and this is fast becoming a pattern. All summer long, Boehner and Cantor remained silent as the rank and file of the party and the public rose up and demanded a new way, a way that should be entirely consistent with Republican principle. When they did speak, Boehner talked about procedures and Cantor whimpered about being careful not to be too extreme or too offensive. They have failed to embrace Paul Ryan’s plans, they failed to embrace the spirit of the Tea Party, they failed to embrace the 60% of the public that says Obama's way is the wrong way, they failed to see the need to put forth an agenda, and the agenda they finally put together appears to be nothing more than tinkering, gimmickry, and form over substance. And now we hear that they can’t even make a simple stand on principle like this. . . a stand they already agreed to take.

This is not leadership, and it's no surprise that 57% of GOP voters want a new leadership.

Jim DeMint has warned that the Republicans better deliver serious change. I agree. But I don’t think Boehner and Cantor get that, and even if they do, I don’t see that they have the courage to do it. And what makes this all the worse, we’re not even talking about needing real courage. They’re not being asked to risk their lives or even to do anything that would put them at odds with the public. They’re simply being ask to act according to the principles that they supposedly represent, principles that the vast majority of the public and their party want them to act upon.

If they can’t do that, then they should resign.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

House Republicans To Issue Lousy Agenda. . . Slowly

No film discussion today because I’m suffering from the flu. And because of this near death experience, I don’t have the mental clarity to talk about anything interesting or thoughtful. So instead, I will address the election agenda the Republicans are about to roll out. At this point we don’t have the full agenda (or even most of it), but we have enough to know that we will need to use the word “retard” liberally in any letter we send to the “leadership.”

Now I’ve been saying for some time that the Republicans need an agenda. Without an agenda, they will have no mandate and nothing to guide their actions once they win control of the House. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to produce an agenda.... here. But the leadership has been cowardly and inept on this. So I was somewhat heartened when I heard that they were finally preparing an agenda. But of course, it’s never that easy with the Republicans and there are a great many red flags going up.

Indeed, it was a troubling sign that no one in the leadership was willing to sign on to Paul Ryan’s plan, which is quite impressive. Clearly, cowardice remains the chosen course. And it was a bad sign when Mike Pence, who I normally respect a great deal, refused to sign the Contract From America on the grounds that he didn’t want to do anything that would confuse people into think the Contract and the Republican agenda were the same. Why aren't they Mike?

Then I heard about the “rolling out.” That’s right because nothing says “policies we really believe in” like a gimmicky two week roll out. . . like an unfunny David Letterman Top 10. What’s worse, it’s apparently closer to a Top 20. . . because the public loves long, unwieldy lists. Clearly, the Republicans have learned nothing about marketing. Always keep your lists short, punchy and relevant. And to get the greatest bang for your buck, release it all at once with a grand ceremony, never dribble out the details over a couple of weeks time -- especially when you’re talking about the things you supposedly hold dear.

Then I heard that none of the non-incumbent candidates had a hand in drafting this. At a time when the voters are sending messages to Washington, the idea of excluding the voter’s representatives from preparing the agenda is arrogant and delusional. And this will lead exactly to what it appears to have led to: meaningless insider crap that isn’t even about style, much less substance.

Indeed, the first known proposal will require that each bill include a specific citation to the constitutional authority under which the bill is being passed. Wow! If a member questions whether the House has that authority, the challenge would receive debate and a vote! Double wow! And this will do what about the debt, about the unchecked growth of government, about the intrusion on our rights, about the abuses of federal power? This sounds all constitutionally, but it’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors. At a practical level, all this means is that every bill will now have the words “Commerce Clause” printed on the top, and nothing else will change. Indeed, they already have the power to question their authority and the only people who use it are Ron Paul and his space cadets. This is pointless. We might as well require them to certify that the draft they read on the floor was written on legal size paper or that they washed their hands before they voted.

The second proposal is even worse. This one is a watered-down proposal stolen from Pelosi. From now on, they will “encourage” (but not require) that members read each bill before they vote on it, and they will require that the text be put on line for three days before the House votes on it. Again, so what? How does this change the content of these bills? And what does this do to change the culture in DC, the deficit, the crappy Obamaconomy, or the corruption? Moreover, as the Democrats discovered, this is not a practical rule because of the number of votes and the time constraints on those votes. Thus, once again, the GOP is choosing to steal an idea from the Democrats that has been proven not to work, and then promising to do it half as much. . . old habits apparently are hard to break. Maybe we should change our logo to a circle with a small case “d” in it? Further, talk about handing the Democrats an issue to ridicule us with: “the GOP doesn’t believe that its members need to read each bill they vote on, they only encourage it.”

These two proposals are what is called “inside baseball,” meaning they don’t matter to anyone except a handful of insiders. I’m sure the staffers are home right now touching themselves in inappropriate places as they read these policies and feeling that their life’s work is complete. But the rest of us know better. Those of us who don’t live our lives in a bubble know that this is all a meaningless gesture that will not change one letter of substance in any of the bills that get passed.

The rest of the proposals supposedly deal with tax proposals, health reform proposals and job-related measures. Ok, let me just say. . . no duh. What else were they going to deal with? Pest control? Decorating national parks? Criminalizing Dutch Subways?

But before you get excited that they may have stumbled upon something, let me caution you that they’ve leaked out that they don’t plan to do anything “grandiose.” Said one leadership aid, “we’re not re-creating the wheel.” In other words, don’t expect anything you haven’t already seen, i.e. it’s business as usual.

I will give this “agenda” a chance, but let me be clear. This is their last chance. The American people have tossed a softball across the plate, and if Boehner and his collection of idiots can’t find their way to the plate, then it’s time to be rid of them.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Can A New Logo Save The Democrats?

By now, talking about the Democrats being in trouble is like discussing the weather. But that doesn’t mean the Democrats have given up. . . well, not all of them. Yesterday, in what was billed as "a major announcement for the Democratic Party," party boss Tim Kaine unveiled their latest strategy: they’ve changed the logo of the DNC. That’s it (on the left, of course).

Now call me crazy, but I’m not entirely thrilled with this logo. Indeed, if I were a Democrat, I would be pretty angry. But then, if I were a Democrat, I’d have to yank out large chunks of my brain and I probably wouldn’t know the difference. Look. . . drool.

When I see this new logo, one thing comes to mind: Dunkin Donuts. Or maybe a defective bullseye? Or maybe a Dutch subway (which is probably a euphemism for something. . . "hey sexy, how much for a Dutch Subway? Forty euros? Are you kidding? Pelosi gives them for free behind the Capitol!"). Hey, that's three thoughts, which is two more than Obama's ever had. I guess I'm over-qualified to be a Democratic Messiah now.

I wonder what happened to the “NC” in DNC? Did they lose it? Did the union guys just get lazy and leave it off? Is this some slight at North Carolina? Maybe they just wanted to end all the “Does Not Compute” or the "Dipsticks, Nuts and Crackpots" jokes by dropping the NC? Maybe the “D” is the grade they've given themselves. . . it's certainly higher than I would give them.

And why did they hire a five year old to draw the font for the word "Democrat"? Oh, that was Biden? I see. At least he spell checked.

Interestingly, they apparently stole the logo from a pizza restaurant from St. Louis. Typical Democrats, stealing from small business to support their habits. Still, it is better than the other logo they were considering, which was intended to convey a sense of how modern and tech savvy they are. Here’s that logo:

Oh, and do you see the new slogan too? “Change that matters.” Talk about lousy, but I guess it’s better than their prior slogan: “Bend over America,” or the alternate "It's Bush's Fault." Still, I don’t think the implication is very good. Are they saying they spent the last two years working on change that doesn’t matter?

In any event, we at Commentarama like to help the Democrats whenever we can. . . we have a soft spot for the criminally insane. So I’ve put together a new logo that they are free to use, just pay shipping and handling. But unlike their brain trust, I didn’t drive by any pizza places. No, siree. I brain my used instead. And I decided what better symbol than one that represents the various wings of their party! So here it is, with each of their major tribes represented: gay militants, militant feminists, black militants, militant environmental whackos, blood sucking lawyers, and. . . well, there would be a union sign, but they went on strike and then never finished the job. I've also left off the word "Democrat" because so many Democrats like to do that in their ads already.

What do you think? Kind of brings a tear to your eye doesn't it? So what kind of slogan would you suggest for these new-old Democrats . . . we can run it across the bottom?

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Delaware Disaster

If there is one thing Republicans excel at, it’s losing elections they should win. In fact, they’ve made it into an art form. Last night’s selection of Christine O’Donnell in Delaware’s Republican primary is virtually a case study in this. They did everything wrong in this primary, and there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Let’s start with the obvious. Many of you won’t want to admit this, but O’Donnell has no chance of winning. Every election tracking specialist from Michael Barone to Karl Rove agrees with this, and the polls confirm it. Most polls (including Rasmussen) show her around 11% behind the Democratic nominee and falling as moderate Republicans abandon her.

And in her loss, we are all but guaranteed that we will not retake the Senate. More importantly, we are going to lose an historic opportunity to take a seat that hasn’t swung Republican since 1972 and which could have easily gone Republican this time. This will haunt us in 2012 and beyond.

So who is to blame? Everyone involved.

The Conservatives. Too many conservatives underestimate the importance of winning. Indeed, the importance of having a Republican in a seat cannot be over-stated, and it goes way beyond how they will vote on individual pieces of legislation. The House and Senate are set up to give disproportionate power to the party in the majority. The majority party controls the schedule, controls what can and will be debated, and under what terms these bills will be debated. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have single-handedly decided the fate of this country through this power; nothing they did not like ever made it to the floor.

Yet, many Republican favor pointless stands on purity that achieve nothing except defeat. They don't understand that it is better to get half of what you want (or more in this case because control of the leadership is worth much more than half) than nothing except smug satisfaction. That is how the Democrats have pushed this country to the left and how Ronald Reagan pushed us back to the right. . . a little at a time, taking what they could get from any allies they could get it from. They understood that politics is about convincing people to come around to your way of thinking and is ill-suited for the all or nothing approach. . . the public always selects nothing. They also understood that not every state was going to cooperate and that it was better to take what you could get in some states than spite yourself to hold out for the perfect.

Now, this is not to say that conservatives should always vote for the most electable candidate. I don’t believe that. But there must be a blending of the issues of how electable a candidate is in a particular state with how they are likely to perform in Washington. Thus, tossing out Lisa Murkowski in Alaska makes sense, as does the selection of Paul Rand in Kentucky and Ken Buck in Colorado. But in a state like Delaware, where conservatives are a rare breed, and where one candidate would be a clear winner in the general election (and has a proven track record of being elected repeatedly), while the other is so far behind in the polls as to be a sure loser (and has a record of repeatedly losing elections), it is simply stupid to go with the loser.

But I'm not saying that I think Castle should be the nominee in Delaware. What I'm really saying is that the voters never should have been put in a position where voting for Mike Castle was the smart choice. Indeed, the real problem with conservatives in this instance was not in thinking that someone more conservative than Castle could win in Delaware, it was in accepting O’Donnell as that someone. Consider this. O’Donnell ran in the Republican primary in 2006. When she lost, she tried to run independently as a write-in candidate (disloyalty). She ran again and lost in 2008, this time by 30% (unelectability). In 2008, her mortgage went into foreclosure and her house was scheduled to be sold off at a sheriff’s auction until her campaign counsel stepped in to buy the house (corruption). In 2009, she began paying her rent with campaign contributions. She never paid her staff from the 2008 campaign. In 2010, the IRS put a lien on her property for taxes she owed from 2005. In 2004, she sued the Inter-Collegiate Studies Institute for gender discrimination (seeking $7 million, mostly in pain and suffering and punitive damages). And she made a series of false statements about her college degrees and on her FEC financial disclosures. None of this is consistent with her conservative rhetoric.

Conservatives bear the blame for not fielding a better candidate, i.e. one who was both conservative and electable. To have selected O’Donnell and chosen her over Castle was an act of political suicide that basically ensured the Democrats could keep a seat they would have lost. We are likely to pay for this for years to come as we try to repeal what the Democrats have done.

The Establishment. An even greater share of the blame for this debacle falls on the Republican establishment. Mike Castle is a RINO. He has held elective office since 1966 and is considered one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress. He voted for the TARP, cap and trade, and the DISCLOSE Act which limits freedom of speech. He also favors gun control and earned a 100% score from pro-abortion groups like NARAL. This is not a man who should ever have been fielded as a Republican candidate, and he should never have received any support from the establishment in a primary.

Since it’s naive to argue that the establishment should sit out primaries (and I don’t believe this anyway), I say very firmly that the establishment should have scoured the countryside for someone more electable. By failing to do that, the establishment surrendered the chance of fielding a candidate who was both conservative and capable of winning election, and left the voters with a choice of the lesser of two evil lesser. This is where most of the blame lies, and it’s the same blame they earned in allowing Dede Scozzafava to be the nominee in New York. It’s time that the establishment stopped looking for cozy insiders and careerists and began looking for talented conservatives.

All of Them. Finally, it is time that Republicans and conservatives learned to stop spitting venom at each other in the primaries. Ronald Reagan said the Eleventh Commandment was to never speak ill of another Republican, and he was right. This election cycle in particular has seen Republican after Republican savage each other in some of the sleaziest, nastiest campaigning I’ve ever seen in my life. What good does that do for the party? Primaries should not be bloodbaths, they should be about ideas and goals.

Once again, Delaware provides the perfect example of this. Castle and his allies in the establishment have spent the last week calling O’Donnell everything but a crazed child molester. They have made it virtually impossible to work with her following her win, and (more importantly) have raised the level of hate so much among moderate Republicans that she can expect none of them to vote for her, i.e. they guaranteed that she would lose. This was called scorched earth when Hitler did it, and it was no more successful then than it will be now. But the establishment wasn’t alone in this. O’Donnell accused Castle supporters of breaking into her home (though oddly, she filed no police report). Her supporters also put out an ad suggesting that Castle (who is married) engaged in a homosexual affair.

This sh~t must stop.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Insight Into Why Democrats Have Soured On Obama

Maureen Dowd, a smug lefty New York Times hack, wrote an interesting article this weekend. It was interesting because it shows us two perspectives on why the Democrats have soured on Obama. Those perspectives are from the left wing of her party and the liberal wing (they are different). Commentarama readers will find her reasoning strangely familiar.

The article begins with Dowd’s own views on Obama. Dowd represents the left wing of the Democratic Party, as her views are in lockstep with Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos et al. These are the party shock troops and opinion makers. Without them, the liberal wing would meander around cluelessly looking for something to whine about. Indeed, losing these people will sap the party of its energy, its financial strength, and the people it needs to get the sheep to the polls. And lose them Obama has.

How do we know? Well, Dowd’s tone more than anything. Indeed, the article is snotty if not downright nasty about Obama. For example, Dowd begins by taking digs at his race: “How did the first president of color become so colorless?” and by slipping in a basketball metaphor about him being in “buzzer-beating mode.” To you and me, these comments may not sound like a big deal, but to a leftist like Dowd, these would normally be considered “racists” comments if made by a conservative, and I think her use of them is no accident. I think she’s looking for a way to insult Obama on a personal level, and she’s opting to begin her article with a “you were supposed to be exotic, a noble savage, but you turned out to be just like everyone else,” and the basketball reference is usually considered an attempt to denigrate a black target as stupid.

I think this is Dowd’s intent because of what she writes next. Check out this quote:
“‘You know, are there, you know, things that I might have done during the course of 18 months that would, you know, at the margins have improved some of the tone in Washington?’ Obama asked. ‘Probably.’ Uncharacteristically valley girl, the usually eloquent president must have, you know, had a hard time acknowledging that.”
Note that not only does she not clean up his quote, as she and the rest of the MSM usually do, but she actively points out how poorly he speaks. Indeed, she mocks him by equating him to a valley girl, another object of derision for feminists and a way to attack his manhood -- just like her first comment was a way to attack his “blackhood” (see Spike’s Lees’ comment on Obama needing “to act like a black man.”). She even throws in her own “you know” for good measure, indicating that she thinks she’s a superior speaker.

She then attacks his strategy in a very dismissive and condescending way. First, she frames the problem: “Obama has been bleeding independents.” She then makes him sound stupid by creating a disconnect by saying that Obama’s plan for dealing with the independent problem is to ignore independents so he can focus on the base. In other words, she’s saying “he doesn’t get it” without actually using those words. Then she presents Obama’s reasoning: he thinks he has time to recapture female independents after the election because of his support for abortion rights and health care reform. But she dismisses this by telling us about her sister Peggy, who Dowd identifies as one of those independents, and by giving us a quote from Peggy that contradicts every one of Obama’s assumptions. Finally, she finishes with a blanket statement that Obama better rethink his plans: “While Obama’s out in the country trying to save Congressional Democrats, he should also think about how he’s going to save himself.” In other words, his plan stinks.

But even more interesting is Dowd’s story about her sister, Peggy. Peggy supposedly is one of the “independents” that Dowd thinks Obama needs. In truth, Peggy is your standard liberal Democrat who likes to think of herself as an independent despite her consistent liberal/left views. Indeed, Peggy claims that she was a Republican who fell out of love with Bush. But check out her reasons: she hated Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, and she hated Bush’s “disdain for bipartisanship.” Moreover, she was a fan of Teddy Kennedy, and she has nothing but disdain for the Republicans and for how ObamaCare was “watered down.” Also, “she lights up at the mention of his vice president, Joe Biden.” Those views are entirely consistent with a liberal Democrat who has deluded themselves into thinking that they’re an independent. That’s the sheep portion of the Democratic base. These are the people the wolves like Dowd push around.

And what does Peggy think of Obama now?

Peggy believed that Obama was a "dazzling young newcomer who could change Washington." Now she’s considering voting for Mitt Romney. She thinks Obama has done a good job of “managing W’s messes in Iraq and Afghanistan,” but this hasn’t swayed her to stay with him. And what’s really bothering her? Let’s let Peggy tell you herself:
“He promised us everything, saying he would turn the country around, and he did nothing the first year. He piddled around when he had 60 votes. He could have pushed through the health care bill but spent months haggling on it because he wanted to bring some Republicans on board. He was trying too hard to compromise when he didn’t need the Republicans and they were never going to like him. Any idiot could see that. . . and then the bill was watered down.”
Sounds like little Markos from the Daily Kos doesn’t it. . . “he was too bipartisan!” (And here I thought she hated Bush for disdaining bipartisanship?) And wait a minute, haven't we been told by the MSM that Obama has accomplished more than any other president ever? Doesn't she realize how much he's done? And to compare the smartest man ever to "any idiot"? Hmmm. She continues:
“He hasn’t saved the economy, and now he’s admitting he’s made very little progress. You can’t for four years blame the person who used to be president. Obama tries to compromise too much, and he doesn’t look like a strong leader. I don’t watch him anymore. I’m turned off by him. I think he’s an elitist. He went down to the gulf, telling everyone to take a vacation down there, and then he goes to Martha’s Vineyard. He does what he wants but then he tells us to do other things.”
So what does this tell us about liberals, i.e. the center-left? They have stopped listening to Obama, as I’ve said several times. They no longer see him as “cool,” they see him as elitist, aloof, stupid and weak. The vacation issue struck a chord, even with them. They do blame him for not fixing the economy and they no longer buy the “it’s Bush’s fault” line or the “it would have been so much worse” argument. Moreover, they don’t credit him with health care reform, they see it as a betrayal. There is no mention of financial regulation, any jobs bills, his attempts to give back-door amnesty to illegals, his appointments of women to the Supreme Court, or anything else the Democrats have tried in vain to tout as achievements. . . as we predicted. Nor is there any distinction between “good Democrats” and “bad Democrats,” or any credit for “trying.”

For Dowd to get this snotty and dismissive at Obama and to treat his assertions with such disdain is a clear sign of a relationship that’s entered the final phase of the breakup stage, and is evidence the Democrats have lost the far-left. For Peggy to tell us that she sees him as a failure and that she's now turned off by him, tells us she’s already broken up with him and is looking to move on to her next crush, and is evidence the Democrats have lost the center-left.

What a shame.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Obama/Democrats Go Soft On Crime

The Democrats love criminals. Ever since the 1960s, they’ve cared more about criminals than any other group, and certainly more than they care about you. They proved that again this weekend when Obama quietly signed a law you never heard of, a law that seeks to undo the incredible progress we’ve made in cutting the nation’s crime rates to historically low levels. And wait till you hear the reasoning!

In the 1960s, an army of liberals descended upon the criminal justice system. Armed with degrees in weepy liberalism and lunacy, they saw criminals as victims of racist juries and judges, victims of poverty and cycles of violence, and victims of a society that wasn’t liberal. And what about the people these poor victims raped, murdered, maimed and robbed? Well, they were collateral damage, and liberals weren’t interested in them. Not surprisingly, crime soared. Everything from murder to rape to petty vandalism took off to levels not seen since the barbarians swept through Rome.

Then came the backlash and the age of Reagan. Non-retarded Americans got sick of being victimized by these monsters and decided to take the system out of the hands of the liberal enablers. Thus, they passed truth in sentencing laws that required criminals to actually serve their sentences. No longer would juries sentence someone to life only to discover that meant 10 years (although this is still the law in West Virginia). They passed mandatory minimum sentencing laws to prevent liberal judges from letting everyone with a weepy tale go with a slap on the wrist and a hug. And they passed three strikes and you’re out laws to lock up recidivists.

And guess what happened? Over the howls of liberals. . . howls about the two time rapist/murder who was “unfairly” locked away for life “for stealing a slice of pizza,” howls that the United States locked up more people than anyone else (though this was a statistical lie), howls that locking people up “wouldn’t solve anything”. . . crime plunged. Yep. Year after year, the crime rate kept falling until we reached a point that hadn’t been seen since the 1950s.

Not surprisingly, liberals were furious. They couldn’t accept that the ignorant masses knew something their “enlightened” ilk did not, and that their “enlightened” ideas caused a 40 year crime wave. So they tried to find reasons why locking criminals up wasn’t what caused the drop in crime. Everything from decreases in poverty to an aging population was offered as possible reasons for the drop in crime. But the statistics never supported these assertions. Thus, liberals were left with a head-scratcher, crime rates fell and “no one seems to know why.” Only occasionally would one of them reluctantly acknowledge that locking up career criminals is “probably” what caused this.

Still, liberals don’t give up that easily. So for decades now they’ve been trying to undo mandatory sentences and three strikes laws. They’ve found every case they thought was “unfair” and they tried to make heroes and celebrities of them. They’ve attacked the death penalty, life in prison, prison conditions, and “disparate treatment.” In particular, they were upset that distribution of crack cocaine resulted in longer sentences than distribution of powder cocaine. Why? Because “it’s the same drug” and “blacks are more likely than whites to use crack,” thus this distinction is “racist”. . . like a ham sandwich.

What they ignored, of course, was that crack dealers are much more likely to engage in violence and that crack is significantly more powerful. Indeed, their argument is akin to asserting that two criminals should receive the same sentence for stealing $20, “because it was the same crime,” even though one criminal snuck the money out of his mother’s purse and the other took hostages in a bank. (And let's not forget that contrary to what liberals apparently believe, blacks don't need to do crack.)

In any event, Democrats were afraid to take up this cause because they didn’t want to be seen as “soft on crime,” which is a nice way of saying “on the side of rapists, murderers, drug dealers and child molesters.” But all that changed this weekend.

On Saturday, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces minimum sentences for crack cocaine sentences, and he announced a top-to-bottom review of mandatory minimum sentences with the apparent intention of reducing sentence length for everything from drug dealing to being “convicted of child pornography offenses.” Ah, liberalism.

Listen to Holder:
“Too many people have been treated in a disparate manner and too many of our citizens have come to have doubts about our criminal justice system.”
No, not really, just liberals have doubts, and it’s the same doubts they’ve always had. They just don’t like the idea of punishing perverts and monsters.
“We must . . . have the courage to ask difficult questions of ourselves and our system. We must break out of the old and tired partisan stances that have stood in the way of needed progress and reform.”
Why is it that doing the liberal thing is always the courageous thing and standing in the way of liberals is always the partisan thing? And if Holder wants to ask a difficult question, he should ask why he and his kind are obsessed with doing what’s already been proven not to work, and why they like the idea of turning predators loose on the population?

So why now? Two reasons, both of them ridiculous.

First, the Democrats think the public won’t notice them going all “soft on crime” again because the Republicans have distracted the public by calling them “soft of terror.” Think about this argument for a moment: you’ll be so distracted thinking Democrats are child molesters that you won’t notice them molesting your dog. Sorry, that’s not happening you Democratic-pedophile-ophiles. . . we will notice.

Secondly, these idiots think now is a good time to tinker because crime rates are so low:
“Advocates point to several reasons for the shift toward a less-draconian approach to crime and for its retreat as a hot-button political issue. Crime rates are at some of the lowest levels in a generation.”
In other words, the prior policies worked. . . so now we can use the calm that created to go back to doing what didn’t work because people aren't as worried about the issue anymore. This is why liberalism should be classified as a form of retardation.

Expect crime rates to start "inexplicably" rising again soon.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why The Democrats Are In Trouble

Don’t worry, this isn’t another article presenting more evidence of the coming anti-Democratic tsunami, (things like the historic lead for Republicans in the generic poll, Rahm Emmanuel planning to abandon the White House to become the Mayor of Chicago, and the Democratic triage plan to cut off funding to Democrats who can’t win in November). Nope. This time I want to talk about why the Democrats are in trouble. Let’s begin with the perspective of a real lunatic: Markos Moulitsas.

You might remember Moulitsas as the founder of the Daily Kos, or from his book trying to connect the Taliban with the Religious Right, or as the employer of a pollster who faked his data to support little Markos’ wishful conclusions. Well, little Markos has thrown in the towel. Yep. He now concedes that his Democrats are facing a “cataclysm.” And the reasons are simple:
1. “The Obama administration, from day one, seemed more interested in bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship than in passing the best possible legislation.” Yep, they are the most bipartisan administration in history.

2. Evil Max Baucus let a “cabal” of Republicans delay ObamaCare over a year so the Republicans could halt the Democratic momentum, form the Tea Party and spread lies. Thanks Max, the check’s in the mail!

3. Democrats have a “desperate and pathological need for Republican approval and assent.” You know, I get that feeling from Pelosi all the time!

4. Democrats were “afraid to pick fights.” “From day one, Harry Reid whined he couldn’t get anything done without 60 votes.” Reid gave the Republicans “carte blanche to obstruct.” Yeah, Reid is one serious Republican-groupie.

5. And being “afraid of Republican attacks on the deficit, Democrats have been frozen into inaction on the economy. . . As it turns out, sitting around and hoping for the best wasn’t the best approach.” He then complains that “voters furious at Republicans for getting us into this mess are set to return them to power.” Fickleness, they name is voter.
Not a bad theory if you don’t have a clue. Of course, little Markos forgot to mention that Democratic economic policies are idiotic and made everything many times worse. Handing money to unions until the government goes broke is simply not a viable strategy, no matter how many Democrats want to believe it.

Markos also forgot to mention the following things the Democrats did over the past two years:

Democratic Hate
• Demonizing the Tea Party as racists and Nazis, and lying to manufacture “evidence.”
• Demonizing a cop as racist for arresting a Grade A jackass who happened to be black.
• Demonizing insurance companies to pass ObamaCare.
• Demonizing drug companies to pass ObamaCare.
• Demonizing employers to pass ObamaCare.
• Demonizing doctors to pass ObamaCare.
• Demonizing Arizona on the immigration issue.
• Demonizing banks to pass Financial Reform.
• Demonizing oil companies to pass cap and trade.
• Demonizing Republicans because. . . well, because.
• Demonizing all Christians when a whacko shot an abortion doctor.
• Demonizing Mormons when California voted against gay marriage.
• Demonizing Israel to appease their anti-Semitism wing.
• Demonizing “right wingers” and Christians when a whacko shot up the Holocaust museum.
• Demonizing Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, George Bush, etc. etc.
• Demonizing John Boehner because they ran out of other people to hate.
• Which relies on destroying Medicare for financing.
• Which forces people to buy insurance and will cause everyone to lose their current plan, despite Democratic lies to the contrary.
• Which will bankrupt the country.
• Which is a huge sop to insurers.
• Which does nothing to contain costs.
• Which does nothing to improve the quality of care.
• Which will lead to rationing.
• Excluding union plans and raising the limits on the Cadillac tax in union-friendly states.
• The abortion distortion in ObamaCare, which exposed “pro-life” Democrats as anything but.
Democratic Corruption
• It seems that every member of the Congressional Black Caucus is up on ethics charges, from taking dirty money (Charlie Goodtime Rangel) to sending stimulus money to relative’s banks (Maxine Waters) to awarding scholarships to ineligible family members (Eddie Bernice Johnson).
• Chris Dodd’s sweetheart deal with Countrywide.
• Stimulus money paid in non-existent districts for fake jobs.
• Stimulus money used to pay Hillary Clinton’s campaign debt.
• No one in the Obama administration paying their taxes.
• Pelosi’s private plane.
• Pelosi’s drinks bill.
• Michelle Obama’s high class vacation-a-rama.
• The Louisiana Purchase
• The Cornhusker Compromise
• Medicare money for certain districts in Florida
• A hospital for Chris Dodd’s vote on ObamaCare.
• Special treatment for Kaiser Permanente, the biggest provider in Pelosi’s district.
• Sestak Jobgate and a whiff of Clinton
• Romanoff Jobgate
• Climategate, and Obama’s affirmation of the falsified data.
• Algore Rapegate
Electoral Manipulation
• ACORN voter fraud.
• Manipulating Massachusetts electoral laws to keep Ted Kennedy’s seat Democratic and help pass ObamaCare.
• Running fake Tea Party candidates to hurt Republican chances in November.
• Trying to manipulate the electoral systems in several states to tilt the playing field toward Democrats.
Twisted Nominees
• Marxist and racist Van Jones.
• Maoist White House Communications Director Anita Dunn.
• Pedophile Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings.
• Unqualified Supreme Court nominee the Latina Red Sonia Sotomayor.
• Unqualified Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
Raping the Treasury
• The trillion dollar union/Democratic-interest-group giveaway known as the Stimulus bill and its dozen sequels.
• The trillion dollar Big Bank giveaway know as the TARP, the TALP and so on.
• Approving and then lying about $1.2 billion in bonuses to AIG.
• Authorizing massive salaries to the officers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of which escaped regulation.
• The consumer and small bank screw job known as Financial Reform, a sop to huge banks and other Democratic donors.
• Effectively handing the Treasury to Goldman Sachs.
• “Saved or created” fake jobs.
• The attempt to tax “carbon,” i.e. everything on the planet.
• Not going a week without a taxpayer funded vacation or round of golf.
Weak on Terror
• “Man made disasters.”
• Refusal to recognize the "Islam" in Islamic terrorism.
• Losing the war in Afghanistan and sending troops for a fruitless last push before surrendering.
• Putting Navy SEALS on a show trial.
• Trying to move terrorism trials to New York City. . . so terrorists can be near their new mosque.
• Inexplicably (lol!) dropping slam dunk lawsuits against racist Black Panthers who tried to intimidate voters.
• Constant whining about racism. . . everything is racism.
• Apologizing to Arabs and blaming the United States for their hatred of us.
• Feigning ignorance of what could have motivated a Muslim to attack US soldiers at Fort Hood, and warning Americans not to hold this against Muslims.
• NASA’s new role as center for Muslim outreach.
• Democratic support of the Nazi memorial in the heart of Jerusalem. . . wait, I mean the triumphal mosque at Ground Zero.
Pro-Illegal Immigration
• Suing Arizona to stop it from enforcing a law the Federal Government is obligated to enforce.
• Trying to boycott Arizona.
• Reporting Arizona’s law to the United Nations as a human rights violation.
• Refusing to protect the border and instead putting up signs warning Americans to avoid nearby national parks.
Assaults on Freedom of Speech
• Joining Muslim countries to work toward a UN resolution proclaiming blasphemous speech a human rights crime.
• Remaining silent when South Park creators were threatened by Muslims.
• Attempting to take away free speech of corporations.
• Attempting to regulate talk radio through the Fairness Doctrine, dressed up as local content laws.
• Attempting to regulate the internet through Net Neutrality regulations.
• Pelosi’s McCarthy-esque calls for investigations of Democratic opponents.
Faux ”Environmentalism” Exposed
• Ridiculous Copenhagen non-agreement.
• Wiping out central California’s farmland.
• The total mishandling of the BP disaster.
• Proving that leftist groups care about electing Democrats, not the causes they are using as Trojan horses.
Embarrassing Us
• Regifting in Britain.
• Abandoning our foreign allies.
• Teleprompter in Chief.
• Scaring the hell out of New Yorkers with Air Force One joy ride.
• The arrogance of accepting the Nobel Prize for anticipatory good deeds.
• Joe Biden
Call me crazy, but I suspect these issues (and the dozens more I haven’t mentioned) had more to do with the Democrats’ problems than some alleged desire to be bipartisan. Sounds like Markos should see the Wizard about getting a grip on reality.

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