Friday, November 30, 2012

Film Friday: Alien Resurrection (1997)

Poor execution will ruin a great concept every time, and no film highlights that better than Alien Resurrection. Alien Resurrection is a film that must have looked fantastic on the drawing board, but it fell apart completely because of the lousy, lousy choices made throughout the production. Observe.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
[+]

Liberalism: Still Not Working

After Obama's re-election, many of us at Commentarama swore not to help the liberals or moderates in any way and to let them burn from their own bad decisions. And happily, it looks like that will be happening sooner rather than later. Observe.

The Liberal Mismanagement of Government Continues. This is even more evident at the state than the federal level. A study of the best- and worst-managed states in America revealed that 4 of the top 5 are Republican strongholds, just as 4 of the bottom 5 are deep, deep blue. California (surprise!) comes in dead last, with the nation's second-highest unemployment rate and its worst credit rating, while according to the Tax Foundation, its business tax climate is the third-worst. Rhode Island, Illinois, and New Jersey provided misery with its company, the Garden State enjoying a crushing debt of 91.6% of its percentage of revenue. North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Utah, meanwhile, enjoy very low unemployment rates and levels of debt, with Moody's credit agency attributing the latter's stability to its "tradition of conservative fiscal management." Words the blue states don't understand, that is, because that would be racist and hurting the poor or something.

In other blue-state news, the city everyone loves to stay the heck out of--Detroit--has now become so chaotic that one Michigan state senator has proposed dissolving the city altogether and putting it under county administration. The good people of suburban Wayne County can't wait for that, I bet. And back in California, the city of San Bernardino is now being sued by the state's public-employee pension agency, which says that even though the city has declared bankruptcy, it is still required to pay those big, big pensions, even at the expense of education, police services, etc. The agency is also reportedly trying to prove that you can, in fact, extract blood from a stone. So I heard.

In the "Further Proof That Tax Hikes Are A Bad Idea" Department: The British government announced earlier this year that it's been forced to surrender on its 50% tax rate for millionaires. Well, it didn't actually say that, but it did announce a slight lowering of the rate to 45%. And not a moment too soon: the Daily Telegraph pointed out recently that the number of Britons declaring income of more than 1 million pounds (that's what they call "dollars," Americans) fell from about 16,000 in 2009-10 to 6,000 two years later, rebounding somewhat to 10,000 after the government's announcement. One Conservative MP argued that this policy cost the state 7 billion pounds in revenue.

The reason why should be obvious to everyone here--overtaxed rich people either move their income out of the country, take advantage of loopholes, or stop producing it altogether--but sadly, it's not so obvious to our fellow Yanks. (My apologies to all Southerners reading the blog.) The latest ABC/WashPo poll shows that 60 percent of Americans, including 39 percent (!) of Republicans, favor raising taxes on those making over $250,000 a year--far outnumbering those who favor entitlement reform, even simply raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. Good job, citizens. The $80 billion a year that tax hike will bring in should keep the federal government running. For, like, a couple weeks.

And Speaking of the Middle Class: Has anyone figured out yet whether the Obama administration really believes it can solve the debt crisis by heavily taxing the rich and not touching anyone else, or if they're just lying to middle-class voters and letting them believe that? Because I honestly don't know. Anyway, clearly a lot of people do believe that--but maybe not for long. In January, the payroll tax rates set by Congress are set to increase by nearly half, a change which will cost the average middle-class household an extra $1,000 per year. Ironically, given that about 160 million people are in the income categories affected, this may well raise more revenue than the tax hikes on the rich--and thus the dirty little secret of American economics: the bulk of national wealth doesn't lie with the rich, it lies with the middle class. Needless to say, the Obama spokesmen aren't exactly publicizing this pending change.

So if you're middle class, you may be about to get screwed out of a bit more money (and I haven't even mentioned the jailhouse shiving that is the Alternative Minimum Tax). Sucks, I know, but hey: You broke it, you bought it. We did try to warn you, didn't we?
[+]

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Agenda 2016+: Freedom Always Wins

I said it’s time to get constructive and that’s my plan. I’m starting a new series today which will outline what I think the new agenda needs to be for the Republicans, both rhetorically and as a matter of policy. This isn’t about winning the 2016 election, it’s about creating an agenda and an image that will permanently win over the public and set America back on course. But before we talk policy, let’s start with a point on rhetoric.

Winning public arguments isn’t nearly as hard as you might think, though the Republicans don’t seem to get it. The Republicans make the mistake of treating politics like an intellectual discussion. It’s not. It’s a “yo mama so fat” contest on steroids. Statistics, detailed plans, subtle points of logic... all meaningless. The zinger, the soundbite and the “that sounds great” moment are the keys to victory.

A lot of people on our side don’t get this. They actually think the public will take the time to think through arguments, to consider each side carefully, to examine the long term effects, to do their own research to verify facts, and then to come to a reasoned conclusion. Good grief. Let’s be honest. The public are morons. They don’t know anything. They don’t process. They don’t stop and think. AND THEY DON’T CARE. They want an easy answer.

So what does this mean? It means that we need to learn to present our arguments in much simpler and punchier ways, ways the public can digest immediately and which will tell them how our plan will directly make their lives better.

It also means we don’t need to be as “truthful” as Republicans like to be. There is no reason to go into details on policies or even to explain what we really want. You just need to find the right promise to sell it. Obama never said how he was going to reform healthcare, he just said, “I’m going to fix it. . . I’m going to make sure you have it. . . I’m going to make sure it can’t be taken away.” That was his sales pitch and it worked. It blew away the Republican response of “we’ll remove barriers between the states to allow insurance carriers to compete.” Where in that laughable sales pitch does it ever tell a normal American how this will help them? Obama’s does: YOU will have healthcare. The Republican response doesn’t: INSURANCE COMPANIES will get more business. See the problem? Obama’s plan is easy to understand and has a direct benefit to anyone listening, the Republican plan requires the listener to work out all the missing steps and even then doesn’t actually promise them any guaranteed change. Obama wins.

In fact, the only thing which stopped Obama from winning this debate, believe it or not, was that Sarah Palin found a better zinger to take Obama’s sales pitch apart: “Death panels.” Notice how the argument is simple, memorable, meaningful, and personalized: Obama’s plan will let you die when you get really sick.

And the key word there are meaningful and personal. In other words, AVERAGE people (not bubble conservatives) could understand this, believe it and think it’s important TO THEM. This is why calling Obama a socialist is stupid. For one thing, no one outside the bubble believes it because he doesn’t talk like it and his policies aren’t obviously socialist. For another, it’s not meaningful because no average voter knows what his being a socialist will mean to them and they can’t see how that would change their lives in the least.

Anyway, this is the first lesson: drop the lectures and learn to speak in soundbites that are simple, easy to understand and which are meaningful to the average voter personally. And the big key is to come up with sales pitches that tell people how our policies will directly affect their lives. . . not some vague assurance that it will all work itself out if we do nothing.

Now, here’s the second lesson for the day. If you want to get voters to like you, you need to present an image that they associate with. Right now, the Republican Party likes to project an image from Norman Rockwell. . . a white, nuclear family from the 1950s with a stay at home mom, two smiling kids and a patriotic dad. That’s not how Americans like to see themselves, folks. Americans idolize the outsider. . . the underdog. . . the rebel. . . the free spirit. . . the risk taker. . . the rule breaker. So if you want voters to like you, you need to learn to frame your policies as supporting the underdog, the outsider, the rebel. Avoid sounding stuffy or rigid or status quo.

Now our final lesson. Americans love freedom. If you want to win, you ALWAYS need to frame your argument in terms of enhancing personal freedom. Now you and I know that in our world, you can’t give one person “freedom” without taking it from another. But that’s not the point. The point is that the public will side with the person who can best frame their argument as a matter of freedom. That’s why gay marriage and marijuana laws are inevitable, because they’ve been presented as a matter of personal freedom with no rebuttal about anyone losing their freedom. Americans will always opt for more freedom. . . that needs to be the focal point of any sales pitch.

To sum this up, the point is simple. Before we even get into policy, we need to change the way conservatives deliver their message. Stop trying to win the public with debating skills and instead learn the art of the soundbite and the quip. Sell policies to people as enhancing freedom and make sure they know how this will change their lives. And remember that to be seen as something people want to join, you need to present an image that makes them want to join.

[+]

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Scott's Links November 2012

Scott roams the internet far and wide to ply his trade as a link dealer. Fortunately, Scott provides links free to us. Check these out. . . share your thoughts! And away we go. . .

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
[+]

Bobby Jindal Reads Commentarama

Bobby Jindal has long been a favorite of this site, though many other “conservative” sites hate him because. . . well, he’s a governor, so he tries to govern rather than burn the state to the ground in the name of some futile attempt to demonstrate his purity. My biggest concern with Jindal has been that he’s struck me as more technocratic than political. But in the past couple weeks, he’s shown that he gets it. . . or he reads Commentarama! :)

In the past two weeks, various contenders for 2016 have been making news. Newt is being his typical a-hole self, attacking Romney and everyone else with bombastic and unconstructive verbal jabs meant make people think Newt be smarts. Chris Christie has been trying to explain why embracing Obama the day before the election wasn’t a problem. Paul Ryan is trying to fight Obama for the good of the country, which I can respect but is not my preferred strategy at the moment. Marco Rubio went to Iowa and assured us he does love rap.

Meanwhile, Bobby Jindal has been giving interviews all over the place and gave a solid speech as the incoming Chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. What has impressed me with Jindal is that he seems to get it.

Jindal called on the party to “stop being the stupid party” and to make an effort to attract a broad swath of voters. As he put it, we need to “campaign for every single vote.” Absolutely. Unfortunately, that is something many conservatives don’t understand as they continue to talk about us losing because we didn’t get out the vote. A party that wants to represent America must actually represent America, not just one shrinking part of it.

And in that regard, Jindal noted that we need to come to terms with liking the people we are seeking to attract. And the first step in that is to stop insulting them: “You don't start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. . . We also don't need to be saying stupid things.” His second comment there was a direct reference to Indiana and Missouri, but it applies much more broadly too. It applies to all the things we talked about the other day which come across as hateful, racist, sexist and religiously exclusive. It applies to what Jindal called “dumbed-down conservatism” and “simplistic” and “bizarre comments” which “insult the intelligence of voters.”

But even more importantly, Jindal beat the same drum I’ve been beating for a long time: “Simply being the anti-Obama party didn’t work. You can’t beat something with nothing.”

Hallelujah! I’ve been making this point for a long time and I am deeply frustrated that the party doesn’t get this. Romney had a platform, though he didn’t sell it well. But beyond him, the party really doesn’t stand for anything people want. Yes, it produced an official “platform” – the one which whines about abortion and censoring the internet to save the children, but beyond that the party has produced no ideas since the age of Jack Kemp and his enterprise zones. Seriously, if you think about it, tell me what you think the Republican Party is offering other than the status quo and opposition to the Democrats. Are you satisfied with the state of the country? Doubt it. So why do you think a platform of “we’ll make sure nothing changes” will resonate with anyone?

We need to put forward a bold, yet simple to understand and easy to personalize, series of policies that promise to improve: (1) the jobs market, (2) the small business environment, (3) individual economic security, (4) the housing market, (5) retirement, (6) health care, (7) education, (8) national security, and (9) the environment. We need to tell people how our policies will make their lives better!

And as we think about this, we need to focus on the people who really do matter to this country: the middle class. Our policies need to tell the poor how they will become middle class, tell the middle class how we will protect what they have earned, and tell the aspirational class how we’ve cleared the way for them to benefit from the risks they take. Indeed, we need to tell the artists, the inventors, and the entrepreneurs that the government will stop punishing them, stop trying to stop them, and stop taking the benefits of their efforts. The one thing we do NOT need to do is to promise to protect the rich and powerful. Again, Bobby Jindal put this well:
“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything. We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”
This is exactly the point. But sadly, right now we have it backwards. Right now, the Republicans have become the party of Wall Street, of the rich, and of Big Oil. Those are the only groups that are guaranteed to get a blank-check defense from Republicans and that needs to stop.

I’m liking Jindal’s new approach a lot. There is much wisdom here and we need to see if he can transform his ideas into policies. Let’s hope he succeeds.

As a final aside, Rick “the socialist” Santorum wrote an editorial this week as well. In it, he blames Romney while saying we shouldn’t blame Romney. Then he endorses the get-out-the-vote argument as the reason we lost. He shoots down the idea of Hispanic outreach as “analyses coming largely from the academic and pundit crowd.” And he suggests that what we really need to do if we’re going to win is to promote policies that “encourage family stability.” Retard.

[+]

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You’re All Poisonous, Sirs

With the election over, there’s been a lot of finger pointing. And it’s interesting to see how much damage control talk radio is doing to convince people that they aren’t to blame for Romney’s failure. . . which, of course, they are in large part. Anyway, this led to a spat between Rush and two consultants, which I think is worth discussing.

The consultants in question are Mike Murphy and Steven Schmidt. Who they are is irrelevant, but know that they are part of this class of professional consultants who advise campaign after campaign and have done very poorly for the party. What brought this discussion on was the following comment from Murphy:
“The biggest problem that Romney had was the Republican primary. That's what's driving the Republican brand right now to a disaster, and we've got to get, kind of, a party view of America that's not right out of Rush Limbaugh's dream journal.”
And this comment by Schmidt:
“You have these talk radio hosts making millions and millions and millions of dollars a year driving a message of complete and total ludicrous nonsense into the electorate, a lot of it poisonous.”
Frankly, both comments are true. The primary pushes Republicans deep into the fringe and hurts them and the party, and Rush and other talkers are making millions by playing to the angry fringe, which again hurts the conservative brand by presenting it’s most angry 1% views as “the party.”

Rush responded by calling both men “establishment” and re-characterized Murphy’s statement thusly:
"'We need to get rid of conservatism,' is what is he's saying. 'We need to get rid of all these people shouting stupid conservative stuff.'"
...and he said this of Schmidt:
“[These moderate consultants] go to every Republican candidate and they say, 'I'm the guy that can get you the independents. I'm the guy who can run your campaign and get you the moderates so that you will win.' And they do not win. They lose. . . and then after they lose and lose and lose, what do they do? Blame a guy on the radio.”
And that’s true too. These guys do the same thing election after election, trafficking in their supposed experience, but their experience is all about losing and they point fingers, typically at conservatives, the moment it’s clear they’ve lost again.

So honestly, they both have a point, but it’s in the feud that the greater point lies.

Rush and talk radio have become absolutely poisonous. They spent the last four years as the headquarters of the “anybody but Romney” movement. They also spent that time ripping apart every Republican who raised their head as insufficiently pure. They destroyed good people. They sabotaged everything the Republicans did. But what made this worse was that they whipped up their followers over things that never happened. People like Rush started every broadcast for the past four years by whining about some Republican “surrender” they claimed was about to happen. Only, there was no surrender, the talkers invented it so they could sound more pure than “the weak establishment.” And when the Republicans didn’t surrender, the talkers didn’t admit their error, they claimed they were responsible for stopping this imagined surrender. In other words, they falsely accused the Republicans of being weak and then they falsely claimed they stopped the weakness. This poisoned the base against the party.

It also destroys the brand. Ask yourself how these talkers represent conservatism to the public? When was the last time anyone on talk radio did anything to sell conservatism to anyone? They don’t discuss policy, except to knee-jerk criticize those who do. They don’t come up with ideas or ways to reach out to people who aren’t already convinced. All they do is try to act more pure, try to act more outraged, and try to get publicity for their latest books. Do you think it helped the party with women that Rush called Fluke “a slut”? Do you think saying he wanted Obama to fail or calling him a socialist helped with anyone outside his audience?

But let’s not ignore the other side. These consultants are poisonous as well. For one thing, they simply don’t understand how to reach people. They have zero creativity and they fear change and innovation. . . they only want to do what others have done before, even though that doesn’t work. Moreover, they don’t grasp that politics is about selling your ideas to people who don’t have brains to understand them. And critically, they never have understood that image and perception are more real than reality and fact. They have let the brand decay into ruin with a bad sales strategy. And when these consultants fail, as they almost always do, they smear everyone involved. They attack conservatives and claim the party is “too extreme.” They attack moderates and claim they were “disloyal.” They attack the candidate as a fool. They tell lies to make it appear that “if only the party had listened to them, it all would have worked out.” Sound familiar? It’s the same game the talk radio guys play.

Reagan mentioned the Eleventh Commandment for a reason: never speak ill of another conservative. This is the reason. What these two groups are doing is highly destructive. They are using the party as a punching bag, all in the name of their own profit. And together, they are creating an image of a hateful party that is at war with itself as disloyal factions stab each other in the back. What moderate would want to join that family?

This needs to end. It’s time to focus on the people who look to the future, not the people who ruined the past. It’s time to support people with ideas and with an agenda that helps make Americans more conservative, not people who only look to enrich themselves with false claims of non-existent purity or fabricated disloyalty. It’s time for conservatism to be constructive again. Let’s see if we can’t find those people. :)
[+]

Monday, November 26, 2012

Caption This!

Now that Thanksgiving dinner is down to the leftover stage and the tryptophan haze is wearing off, let's have a little caption fun.

Here's the photo -

Now, give it your best! I mean, if you can't poke fun of the President of the United States, who can you poke fun at, right?

The grand prize will be your very own Commentarama invisible t-shirt 2012 Holiday edition that is hot off the presses! No matter what size you choose, they are guaranteed to fit! You can enter as many times as you can think up captions and the only rule is "There are no rules!"

Well, mainly there are not rules because this is Commentarama and we wouldn't follow them anyway, so why bother!
[+]

Please Stop Being Stupid

Have you ever watched someone planning to make a huge mistake? Of course you have, you’re a Republican. . . you see that every day from your party. The latest mistake-pending involves Grover Norquist’s tax pledge. I support the fact the party is finally planning to abandon Grover’s idiocy, but I can’t help feel that we’re just substituting another form of idiocy.

Ok, let me get this out of the way... “Grover”? WTF? Who names their kid “Grover”? And if that is your name, for the love of God, change it! Seriously, how ridiculous must Grover Norquist’s middle name be if he prefers Grover?

All right, here’s the deal. Grover came up with a pledge twenty years ago whereby anyone wanting to “prove their conservatism” would pledge never to raise taxes in any way shape or form. Everyone signs this. . . until recently. About two years ago, Grover ran smack dab into thinking conservative Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who realized that Grover’s tax pledge was stupid. Rather than leading to lower taxes and an improved economy, this stupid tax pledge became a tool which Republicans used to justify supporting subsidies for big business because any attempt to cut those subsidies (like slashing ethanol subsidies and tax breaks) resulted in howls of betrayal from Grover, who claimed said Republicans were “raising taxes.” In effect, what sounds like a good anti-tax pledge became a pledge to protect the benefits cronies got for themselves.

We’ve talked about this before and I think this is ludicrous. The tax policy the Republicans should be pushing right now is exactly what Romney was pushing – lower rates across the board and wiping out all the distorting, crony industry and company specific deductions that people like Charlie Rangel have shoved into the code. Rip all that crony crap out of the code. . . breaks for filmmaking, breaks for whiskey makers to open plants in Puerto Rico, breaks for ethanol makers, etc. We also need to cap the home mortgage deduction and end the state income tax deduction because these just work as subsidies for liberal states.

Grover doesn’t like this, but who cares about him. . . the man is named after a dog, folks!

Moreover, right now, I’m all in favor of massive tax hikes on the rich (defined as anyone making $150,000 a year or more) because people need to feel the pain of Obama’s idiocy.

Again, Dogboy won’t like this, but who cares.

So I was quite happy to hear that Republicans were starting to abandon this idiotic pledge. Unfortunately, I’m not sure they’re doing this for the right reasons. I see two reason why this pledge should be abandoned (three if you count my opposition to pledges in general): (1) to end cronyism and move us toward a flat tax that doesn’t favor liberal states and rich, liberal voters, and (2) to make people pay for voting for Obama by giving them what they voted for.

Yet, the reasons given by reliable conservative Rep. Peter King (NY) and by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Georgia) for abandoning the pledge sound like all the wrong reasons. In particular, they both have said that “the world has changed and the economic situation is different.” And they want a genuine deal to solve the debt crisis and the fiscal crisis for the good of the country.

Good grief.

There is a huge difference between letting the other side have the things that will explode in their faces and collaborating. It’s stupid to collaborate with someone who is not acting in good faith. . . like Obama. This is the same stupid impulse that the Republicans always fall for. They will go into the negotiations in good faith. Meanwhile, Obama will savage them for protecting the rich and wanting to kill the poor. They will murmur something about “for the good of the nation.” Then they will agree to all of Obama’s tax hikes on the middle class and small business, and they will demand some minor cuts that aren’t real cuts. Obama will demand tax hikes on the rich, the Republicans will refuse and Obama will agree. Then he’ll march out to the podium and accuse them of raising taxes on the middle class, while protecting the rich from tax hikes. He will dump all the cuts on their lap as well. He will then claim that they stood in his way of getting what he wanted, so they are to blame for the economic consequences to follow. And they will smile like baboons.

Pardon me for a moment. . . motherf*$#% goddam f%$#@^ idiots!!!!

I’m back.

Why is this so hard for Republicans? This is what the Republicans should be saying:
“The President won the election and we’re going to work with him to make sure President Obama’s economic policies are in place because that is what the voters wanted.

He is right that the deficit he created has put the country at risk of bankruptcy and must be fixed. He added more debt in his first four years than all other presidents combined and that needs to stop.

And he is right that the rich have not paid their fair share during his first term because Nancy Pelosi’s Congresses created too many loopholes which the rich and which multinational companies exploited. That’s how companies like GE, run by Mr. President’s job’s czar, could earn record profits and pay no income tax... zero dollars, as they shipped jobs overseas. We are glad that President Obama has finally found the courage to do the right thing and to close those loopholes and we stand with him. We want to remove all $4 trillion of these crony loopholes from the code.

We also agree that we need to raise rates on the rich. We have heard the President’s supporters calling for a 90% tax rate, but we don’t support that. We will, however, support a return to the 50% top tax rate under Reagan, and we would agree to a 25% surcharge on millionaires and billionaires like Warren Buffett and his businesses. It’s time the rich paid their fair share.

We’re also happy to make any cuts the President suggests. Name them and we’ll send you the bill, Mr. President.

Let’s do this Mr. President.”
Do you see what I’m doing here? I’m forcing Obama to either impose devastating tax hikes on his supporters or put him in the position of defending the rich and those very loopholes he ran against. . . and expose himself as a lying hypocrite to his supporters. I’m forcing Obama to take the blame for every cut that happens because they will all be things he proposed, cuts his supporters will hate. And I’m forcing Obama to take the full blame for what will happen economically. And I lay the blame for everything on the Democrats.

That is how politics needs to be played. Unfortunately, as seen above, the Republicans continue to do it backwards. They allow themselves to be blamed for everything while getting nothing they really want because they are playing by the wrong set of rules. Wake up idiots.

[+]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Open Thread! Vox - Meleagris Gallopavo

"In the year 1621, the Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving feast. They invited the great Indian chief Massasoit, who brought ninety of his brave Indians and a great abundance of food. Governor William Bradford and Captain Miles Standish were honored guests. Elder William Brewster, who was a minister, said a prayer that went something like this: 'We thank God for our homes and our food and our safety in a new land. We thank God for the opportunity to create a new world for freedom and justice.'"

-- Linus van Pelt

So, with Thanksgiving upon us, we're taking a break until Monday. Enjoy your football! Enjoy your dinners! Enjoy the holiday spirit! Enjoy your family and friends in the non-eWorld!

But before you go, tell us... what are you thankful for?
[+]

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us!

As we begin the holiday season, i.e. Turkey Day and Santa Day, it's time we ask everyone to share their favorite holiday films with us! Is it Christmas Vacation? Elf? Die Hard? Ghosts of Mars? Well, probably not, but you get the point. Tell us your favorite holiday films and tell us what makes them so special to you!

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms

[+]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

This Means War!

With Black Friday upon us in a couple days, I thought I would discuss something shopping related. Specifically, several countries have decided to go to war with the most powerful organizations on this planet. My money is on Google and friends.

For those who live under a rock (or in West Virginia), it will come as a great surprise that many governments are out of money. They have promised WAY MORE in benefits than they could ever afford and they put those promises on the old credit card. Now the bill is due and they are struggling to find someone to stick with the tab.

This has resulted in things like the French jacking up their upper income tax bracket. Britain is now planning to impose a massive property tax on expensive homes. The EU tried to milk foreign airlines by imposing a carbon tax that applied for the entire flight, not just the portion spent over EU airspace. Obama and the airlines told the EU no, and Europe surrendered. But they haven’t given up. Fees, surcharges, tax rates. . . they’ve all gone up. And yet, revenues keep falling because of the double-dip recovery Europe is going through. So what is a tiny failing country on a tired continent to do? How about taxing multinational companies?

Good luck with that folks. . . you are out of your league.

France fired its first shot by hitting Amazon with a massive $252 million tax bill claiming that Amazon is shipping into France from Luxemburg to avoid French tax. Sacre bleu! Britain is now doing the same thing. The British government also hauled in Starbucks executives to explain how a company that sold around $5 billion in the UK in the past thirteen years could declare that it only made a profit once and paid a grand total of about $10 million in tax. Starbucks blames high rent. Google earned $4 billion in the UK last year alone and has a 33% profit margin, but managed to report a loss in the UK in 2010 and 2011. What a shame. Google apparently routes their profits. . . er, inventories through Bermuda. France hit Google with a one million Euro tax bill. None of these companies intend to pay.

Britain and France are determined to squeeze money out of these companies, but I don’t think they have the brains to do it frankly. Indeed, as outraged as these countries are, what Google and Amazon have done is legal under UK and French law. That’s the funny part. And the only way to change that would be to change their tax laws to prevent it. But the same fools who created the current system will be charged with fixing this loophole so I doubt they have a chance. Not to mention, a change like this would make local businesses unhappy too and that’s bad for votes.

Moreover, if they do make a real change, then this becomes a question of strength and Britain and France need big old Google and powerful Amazon much more than Google and Amazon need tiny Britain or stagnant France.

My guess is there will be some legal changes that amount to nothing. The locals will be placated by the thought they slayed the dragon, and Google and Amazon will pay some token tax. . . which they will promptly get refunded the following year. Alternatively, Google and Amazon will agree to pay more and will impose massive surcharges so they end up making more by imposing the tax than they will lose paying it. Starbucks, which has physical locations, will just jack up their expenses again.

So act as outraged as you like good people of Europe, these companies aren’t paying another cent.

Germany is doing this too, only they decided to toss a little protectionism into the mix. They just passed a bill which will force Google to pay German newspapers every time their search engine links to one of these articles. In other words, if you run a search for “naked Fritz” and you find an article in The Daily Fuhrer about a group of Germans running naked through the streets toward Poland, Germany now wants Google to cough up some payolla to The Daily Fuhrer. Yeah, that’s gonna work.

Let me spin the likely scenario on this one: Germany passes law. Google makes Germany vanish from internet. For all practical purposes, Germany ceases to matter to the rest of the world. Sales of German goods collapse. Germany begs Google for forgiveness. . . but Google doesn’t forgive, nor does it forget. Polish Army caught unaware by invasion of naked Germans.

The moral to the story is that right now, only two countries are truly capable of standing up to multinational companies: the United States and China. Our markets are so large that these companies need us. Everyone else can pretty much go f* themselves, they are little more than an irritant beneath Goliath’s imported sneakers.

Is this a good thing? No. But it is the reality. . . and something seems wrong with that.

[+]

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Doubleplusgood World of Newthink

“If we all truly believe, then Tinkerbell can fly.” That “thought” forms the preamble of most liberal thinking: reality is what we want it to be. And this week brought us a great many attempts to create new realities that, um, aren’t entirely accurate. So let’s cover what your liberal friends believe now.

“Equivalent”: I mentioned this in the comments, but it bears repeating. There were a spate of articles this week that called the European (dis)Union “equivalent” or “on a par” to the United States. So in the liberal and European worlds this is now true: Europe = America.

In our reality, the European Union has 9% more population than we do – 332 million to 308 million – yet its GDP is only $12.1 trillion compared to our $16 trillion. In other words, our economy is 33% more powerful despite our population being almost 10% smaller. That means the average American is about 40% more valuable than the average European. Think about how ridiculous this idea of parity is. Would you say that a boxer who weighs 200 pounds is “on par” with one who weighs 280 pounds? Or that someone whose lifespan is 50 years is on a par with someone who will live 70? Well, you might not, but liberals and Europeans apparently would because euroTinkerliberal doesn’t want to feel bad about herself.

As an aside, wanna bet it’s 50% within a decade?

“Defensive Weapons”: France is contemplating sending weapons to the Syrian rebels. Obama doesn’t want this because, well, those weapons will go straight to terrorists. But never fear, France has assured the world that it would only send “defensive weapons.” Hmm. Presumably these are weapons that can only discharge when pointed at someone who has demonstrated the requisite hostile intent. Or perhaps they only discharge harsh words? No... words can kill. What is going on here is that Tinkerliberals jerk themselves off by claiming moral superiority and they just don’t want to believe that they’re an accomplice to a whole lot of killing, even when they are.

“Shrinking Banks”: The world’s biggest banks have announced layoffs in excess of 160,000. Most of those layoffs will be mid-level positions and those people are not expected to find new jobs in the sector because there aren’t any. A great many more layoffs are coming but the precise number isn’t known yet because smaller banks haven’t reported and because some of the bigger banks are nasty and prefer to fire people in mass waves of “cause” rather than admit layoffs.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking job losses are bad. But you are wrong. See, we KNOW that Obama has put a jackboot up Wall Street’s collective rear (snicker snicker, yeah right), so it’s a good thing that these banks are shrinking. It means we’ve hurt these rotten banksters. Besides, most of the first wave of layoffs will occur in Britain, which is about to get Tinkerpunked by the “great recovery” (read: double dip recession) because it put all of its fairy dust in the banking sector right before it crashed. So that means the pain felt in New York won’t really hurt because someone else will get it worse! Isn’t that great! :)

See how easy that was? We took “massive permanent layoffs” at a time of “record profits for banks” (read: obscene profits for Wall Street) and we’ve turned it onto “shrinking banks to solve ‘too big to fail’” and to make the banks “financially healthy.”

So you see, these “layoffs” are a good thing because it protects us from predatory banks. Oh, as an aside, did I mention that in 2002, the top 10 banks in the country controlled 55% of all US banking assets but by 2011 they controlled 77%? Or that the big six banks now possess assets equivalent to approximately 60% of America’s gross national product. Tinkerliberal sure taught those banks a lesson!

Twinkieside: Good grief! It turns out that Mitt Romney killed Hostess. Yep. Venture capital firms just like Bain Capital poured money into Hostess so it would go bankrupt and somehow (see Underwear Gnome Theory) make Wall Street rich! This “theory” comes directly from Tinkerthug Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO who doesn’t want Tinkerliberals realizing that Hostess was killed and 18,500 jobs lost because the bakers’ union didn’t want to take a pay cut like everybody else. Don’t worry Tinkerliberals, your liberal policies don’t really destroy the things you like. . . Mitt Romney does.

“Ultra-Rich Non-Flight”: Ok, it’s time for real Tinkertortions. Anecdotal (read: worthless) evidence suggests that the ultra-rich, i.e. billionaires, are not fleeing California yet. Oh thank Godzilla! That’s great. It’s great because it means that people don’t really flee from high taxes. Ergo, Tinkerliberal tax policies will really work this time! Hurray!

Now admittedly, there is some irony in this because Tinkerliberals have been claiming that the rich aren’t important because they only hoard wealth and don’t actually create jobs, but I’m sure we’re all big enough to ignore that contradiction. And while it is true that billionaires don’t get W2s because their money is held in complex trusts that hide their assets in tax avoidance schemes, typically in tax havens, meaning this tax won’t actually raise their taxes at all. . . the fact they didn’t flee a tax that won’t touch them certainly means that no one else will change their behavior either, right? Sure it does. Snort a little fairly poop, you’ll see the light. Trust me, this totally means that Tinkerliberals can continue believing that their policies will work just as planned. :)

“Contemptible Worldview”: Finally, we need to put an end to a little bit of inconvenient truth. The evil, evil Mitt Romney and the Satanic Bill O’Reilly dared to claim that minority voters could be bought with gifts from the government. How dare they! This is such a “contemptuous and contemptible worldview” (source: The Washington Post) that it needs to be repudiated before anyone realizes that it’s also true! No one should be allowed to impugn Tinkerliberals’ honor with their own actions.

So that is what your liberal friends believe now. I can’t promise that they’ll still believe these “truths” next week because liberalism doesn’t work that way, but for now it’s convenient and it’s the official line which they’ve all “come to independently” at the exact same time and using the same slogans.

[+]

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 62

Wouldn't it be great if fictional characters were real? Yeah, imagine how great it would be to meet James T. Kirk, Bugs Bunny, Bill Clinton, or Godzilla!

What film character would you most want to meet in real life?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
[+]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Just relax and take a deep breath...

After the last few weeks we've had, maybe we just need a little break from the trauma and the drama. The unlikely re-election of Obama, the unanswered questions about Benghazi, the unanswered questions about Fast & Furious, the tanking economy, and the death of Twinkies. We just need to regroup and gather our thoughts. And what better way to clear our minds than to ponder... puppies and kittens! So take a deep breath, clear your mind for awhile and let the cuteness wrap around you like a warm blanket...

You just can't be mad when there's a kitten in a hat!

Can you use a friend?

Take a deep breath...

Are you all better now?

Aaaahhh, now wasn't that better? Now we can discuss something important like....?
[+]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hispanics and the GOP

Over the past week or so, there's been lots of soul-searching among conservatives, from our homey little blog all the way up to National Review and other outlets, about how to create a working coalition, and in particular, how to get Hispanics to join it. Obviously, the party's stance on illegal immigration is a part of that discussion. But I think our problems with Hispanics go deeper than that.

Now, it's probably obvious by this point that I'm not a fan of offering amnesty or letting the whole immigration issue slide. I never have been, and I don't see that changing. Some would say that's because I'm a misanthropic bitter-ender who hasn't been taking his meds since Election Day.* I do have actual reasons, though.

I'm no expert on this (not that that ever stops me), but I've frequently wondered whether part of the problem in how we approach Hispanics is our tendency to treat them as one homogenous group--which of course doesn't conform to reality. Some Latinos have been here longer than others; they are of varying income levels; maybe most importantly, they have different nationalities. Mexicans are not Cubans are not Puerto Ricans are not Hondurans. These differences may erode a great deal once all these groups arrive here, but certainly those who identify as, say, Cuban-Americans won't necessarily look at immigration issues the same way as those who identify as Mexican-Americans.

I bring this up because of my broader point: I also wonder sometimes if, when we talk about amnesty and related flashpoints, we're going on the assumption that Hispanics are a naturally conservative group, and would be significantly more loyal to the GOP if not for how we approach immigration. It's something to consider, but there's a lot of evidence suggesting that's not exactly the case. (Besides which, if the immigration debate was driving Hispanic voting patterns, why would they have gone so strongly for Obama this time? In 2008 I could have seen that, in the aftermath of the DC amnesty bill, or in 2010 when the Arizona legislation was all up in the air, but it's been eclipsed by other issues--i.e. the economy--for well over a year now, and we know what a short-term memory voters of all races have. But I digress.)

Actually, from the GOP's point of view, a lot of data coming from Hispanics is fairly alarming. Last year, a poll of California Latinos asked what parts of the Republican platform they objected to. The number who said immigration policies were the big thing? Seven percent. A whopping 29 percent said the deal-breaker for them was the economic platform, because "Republicans don't represent the average person," Republicans only care about the rich, blah blah blah--the same mindless drivel you hear from people of all backgrounds. Now granted, this is California; unfortunately, the Golden State tends to set new national trends. For proof of that, we have a recent survey from the pollsters at Pew Research, which found that among the general U.S. population, 48 percent prefer a smaller government with fewer services, with 41 percent wanting the opposite. Not a bad split. Among Hispanics, however, that figure is 75 percent in favor of bigger government with more services, and only 19 percent against. One Latino businessman explained it this way: "What Republicans mean by 'family values' and what Hispanics mean are two completely different things...We are a very compassionate people, we care about other people and understand that government has a role to play in helping other people." Well, that's promising.

And despite being overwhelmingly Catholic and probably more family-oriented, Hispanics don't appear to be that socially conservative, either. Another Pew survey found that this year, the number of Latinos supporting gay marriage rose to 52 percent, with only 34 percent now opposing it. Returning to the Left Coast, Hispanics as a group favored the infamous Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor over the Republican candidate--who himself happened to be Hispanic. Make of all this what you will, but clearly, dropping opposition to illegal immigration and broadcasting our conventions on Telemundo isn't going to help bring over this group.

So is this a signal that we should all slit our wrists now and get it over with? Well, no. Of course, there are things the GOP can do to try and win over Hispanics, many of which have been discussed here before. We probably don't need to throw a fit over bilingualism, and should also make sure to scrap the racial stereotypes. For example, I decided not to put up a picture of Speedy Gonzalez with this post, because Andrew would have yelled at me that would be divisive and wrong. But I see these as Band-Aids. Deeper solutions are needed, solutions similar to what we need to do to gain traction with the black community. For example, there's education. In many areas (southern California, etc.), the high-school graduation rate for Hispanics is about as bad as it is for inner-city majority-black neighborhoods. Promoting vouchers, charter schools, and other paths to self-improvement would show that the GOP is serious about increasing the quality of life for minorities.

Also, there's this glimmer of hope from the Pew survey cited earlier. Although that 75-19 split on the government question is gruesome, it should be noted that first-generation Hispanics are most supportive, with an 81-12 split. That falls to 72-22 in the second generation and only 58-36 for the third generation and afterwards. This suggests Latinos do come to support small government and free enterprise the more time passes since arrival, which is grounds for optimism. But it also means further illegal immigration has to be cracked down on before we can start to crawl our way out of this pit. We need a strategy and a concerted effort to work on all this, preferably before the country blows up in our faces.

*(Which of course is not true. I stopped taking my meds back around Halloween. It's not a good party without some groovy hallucinations.)

[+]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Better World - One Week Later

Well, elections do have consequences, I guess. Let's see, where we are one week-ish later since the improbable re-election of Barack Obama:

- The Dow has dropped about 6% since October 15, most of that since November 7. That is about 800 point as of 12:00pm today.

- More layoffs are being announced every hour.

- More and more service-related companies are announcing cuts in employee hours to under 30 hours a week to stave off pending Obamacare mandates and other taxes/penalties. These same companies* are being harassed by angry liberals who think that it is not fair to penalize employees while owners get richer (or who are trying to keep the doors open - whatevs!).

Hey, but take heart, Conservatives - Men who occupy our highest political, military, and corporate offices are no longer allowed to cheat on their wives and get away with it (but only if you have information that runs contrary or might taint to our present Adminstration). Having affairs with subordinates (or biographers) is out of favor again. That's a least a small step in the right direction, but someone should warn Bill Clinton that he is on the hook for cheating again.

Here is a quote from Cindy Adams, humor/society columnist for the New York Post -
"Pain in the brass Petraeus: A) The FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but B) as a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents also engaged in highly invasive surveillance solely to learn who was harassing her by e-mail.

Nobody knew nothing [sic] about Benghazi and killing our ambassador, but everybody checked everything relating to our four-star general's cheating. All of which our commander-in-cheat [sic] knew zippo about until the day after his election..."

I think that about says it all.

*BTW - One company - Papa John's - have become a big target to the lefties who think that they are mean and are demanding a boycott. This seems a bit counter intuitive if one wants a company to stay in business. However, to counteract the wrong-headed boycotts, November 16 (tomorrow) has been deemed National Papa John's Appreciation Day. Please feel free to buy their pizza to show your appreciation for the hard decisions that have to made, and to support the workers who will be affected.
[+]

Journalists Are Unbiased?

Politico ran an article recently under the headline “Journalists open wallets for Obama and Romney.” If you take this at face value, you would think that journalists must be pretty unbiased as a group since they gave to both Obama and Romney, right?! Forget it, it’s a lie.

Journalism is in disgrace. As late as the 1970s, journalist were still considered trustworthy, but that’s changed. For the past four decades, we’ve seen a never-ending parade of journalists skewing facts to favor the left, selectively reporting stories, adding spin instead of research, politicking, carrying water for leftist causes, and even flat out lying and distorting events and facts. This has destroyed their credibility, which is now down to 40% of the public believing them to be free of bias, and only 26% finding them to be ethical.

This actually fits perfectly with Pew Poll results which found that only 6% of journalists consider themselves conservatives (compared to 40% of the public) and 24% admit to being liberal. . . with the rest claiming to be “moderate,” which is usually a codeword for liberal. In fact, a 1992 poll found that 89% of journalists voted for Clinton.

In fact, if you want evidence suggesting much greater bias than these numbers predict, consider campaign contributions – which most news organization claim to ban, but really done. A study done in 2008 found 235 journalists who donated to Democrats compared to only 20 who donated to Republicans. But don’t worry, the Los Angeles Times assured us, this doesn’t mean they are biased. Backing this up, a similar study by MSNBC of 2004 donations found that 141 of 144 journalists examined gave to campaigns with the breakdown going 125 to Democrats, 16 to Republicans.

This is very bad news for a profession that trades in credibility.

So every once in awhile, along comes an article like the Politico article to convince the weak minded that journalists really aren’t as biased as the rest of us believe. Indeed, if you accept the headline, then you would actually believe that journalists split politically. Further, here is how the article begins: “Reporters for Romney? Editors for Obama?” Interesting. So apparently, reporters prefer Romney and editors prefer Obama, right? Well, not really.

See the article then proceeds to discuss various journalists who gave to each side. Giving to Romney were (1) two editors from the Washington Times, a known right-leaning paper, (2) an editor from an obscure Florida newspaper, and (3) a sport editor at a television station in Philadelphia. That’s hardly the A-Team. By comparison, those giving to Obama included ten specific individuals from organizations like the Wall Street Journal to the New York Daily News to Bloomberg to Reuters. Moreover, each of these journalists did so despite policies in place forbidding the giving, but their editors found reasons to excuse them each time.

What you have here is more evidence that the media is deeply biased (on the order of 8-1 if you follow the money), and yet they insist on lying about it to make you think otherwise. The fact that they can violate their own company policies against giving to political campaigns and yet face no consequences is evidence of just how much those policies about being non-biased are for show.

And don’t forget that

Also, don’t forget how many journalists got their start working for Democratic White Houses, and how many are married to prominent Democrats. How about these examples:
● George Stephanopoulos was Clinton strategist before becoming Chief Washington Correspondent for ABC News.
● Jay Carney left Time to work for Biden and the Obama.
● Shailagh Murray left the Washington Post become Biden’s communications director.
● Jonathan Allen of Politico worked for Debbie Wasserman Schultz
● Andy Barr of Politico worked for the DNC
● Linda Douglass left ABC News to push Obamacare for the White House
● NBC’s Chuck Todd is marred to a DNC staffer and worked for Democrat Tom Harkin.
● Chris Matthews worked for congressional Democrats and Jimmy Carter.
I could give you pages and pages of this, with one exception. . . I can’t give you conservative equivalents.

So when you see a headline like this, don’t buy it. And when you hear journalists claim they are unbiased, don’t buy it. And don’t let your friends believe it either.

[+]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rex Reed: Not Enough Hate In Lincoln

I wonder about liberals sometimes. This time I’m wondering about liberal movie critic Rex Reed. He just wrote a review of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln which pans the movie for being “sanitized and sentimental.” That’s liberal code for “doesn’t fit my worldview of how evil these people really were,” and that’s exactly why Rex doesn’t like this film. Oh, and he’s an idiot.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
[+]

Oh, By The Way...

There are some things you might not have known before the election. We meant to tell you about those, but you know. . . we got busy. Sorry. Anyway, America, here is what you might have missed.

Why Obamacare May Fail: Boy is my face red. See, it turns out there might be a problem with Obamacare actually working, which NO ONE foresaw. See, the nation faces a doctor shortage. And we all know shortages just happen, they have nothing to do with supply and demand signals which redirect people to different professions.

Anyhoo, it turns out that the nation will need another 52,000 family doctors than we are expected to have by 2025. Unfortunately, we won’t have that because doctors are greedy. They are choosing to go into specialties rather than work for long hours for low pay which can’t pay back their massive student loans by becoming family doctors. //sigh What will those evil rich do to us next?

Oh, and part of the problem is that Medicare won’t pay enough for people to want to be doctors. . . rotten, evil Medicare. Someone really should fix that.

Anyway, just some sidenotes from the study: Obamacare won’t make this worse when it brings 38 million new people into the system (hey, wasn’t that 43 million a couple years ago?) because these numbers already include that. . . unless you think the study is lying (hint hint: it is, prior studies pinned this number above 100,000). And this MAY change your ability to actually see your doctor, but don’t sweat that because you will have guaranteed coverage (subject to doctor availability). Also, if there should somehow happen to be an access problem, like in Massachusetts, which has tons of family doctors (second highest ratio of family docs to other docs in the country) and still can’t keep up with demand, then maybe we need to drop this idea that people should be seeing doctors and should instead see nurses. . . or talk to an online doctor? (translation: learn to be happy with less, folks). And/Or maybe we should force doctors to work in “patient-centered homes, where everyone works on a team in effort to increase the number of patients per provider.” (translation: work harder you f*cking doctors. . . arbeit mach frei, my friends). Yep, smooth sailing ahead!

And remember, socialism only failed because no one ever tried it right.

And About Those Human Rights: Hey, did you hear about this? Drone strikes. Kill lists. Renditions to secret CIA prisons. Attacks on countries we have not declared war against. Undeclared wars in Sudan, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, etc. Secret military tribunals for our Arab guests. Bush is evil. . . Obama is evilER. Fortunately, human rights only matter when the wrong people violate them!

Remember When You Worked Full Time? Ok, a history lesson. Europe is a basket case. If you’re old and got your job in the 1960s-1980s or if you work for the government or if you’re a professional, then things are fine. If you’re anybody else, well, you’re f*ed and not in a good way! See France and Spain offer the classic examples. They imposed all these laws to help “workers.” And despite everyone being absolutely sure that business wouldn’t try to get around these. . . somehow, they did. What they did, was they started hiring people only as part-timers so the laws wouldn't apply. Hence, those benefits you normally would have gotten, you no longer got those, and forget the new ones the government “gave” you too.

Well, if there’s one thing the Democrats have learned, it’s to never pay attention to history. So they’ve been busy passing all kinds of laws forcing companies to give benefits to workers, like Obamacare. Yep. And we KNOW that business will happily give such benefits, just as they did(n’t) in Spain and France!

Along comes Olive Garden. . . and Papa Johns. And they have announced they will cut worker’s hours below 30 hours so they all qualify as “part time” and they aren’t required to provide healthcare to any of their employees. Sooo sorry if your wages suck ass now, but hey, NO ONE could have seen this coming. These are just the first, too. Olive Garden is owned by Darden, which owns dozens of other franchises. And other companies are saying the same thing. Expect this to spread throughout the service industry. So basically, the gay waiter, single mother and youth demographic who depend on these jobs (all core Obama supporters) is about to discover that life will be a lot harder under their Messiah. Whoops. Maybe we can raise the minimum wage to help them? That always creates jobs, doesn't it?

We Didn’t Really Mean It? Do you remember how Obama promised to make those evil rich suffer to placate the spite of his followers? And do you remember all those corporate loopholes Obama wanted to close to put a worker’s boot up the ass of our rich cousins? Uh... not so much. The Democrats have signaled that they want to raise the limit on who will be taxed to maybe $500,000 or even a million, and they aren’t really interested in going too high with the rates either. Moreover, they don’t want to close any loopholes, like the Republicans want. I guess the rich found a friend in Comrade Obama.

So basically, gays, youths, single mothers and people who need government-provided healthcare will suffer because of Obama. . . and the rich get off unscathed. I wonder if Obama's moronic followers will see the irony in any of this? Probably not.
[+]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How To Run A Modern Campaign

Dick Morris had an interesting observation this weekend. He noted that despite a billion dollars spent on television advertising, neither side managed to change anybody’s mind. He concludes from this that television ads lack the ability to sway voters. He’s wrong. Anyway, here are some thoughts on how to run a modern campaign.

The Effectiveness of Television: Morris notes that despite 80% of advertising dollars being spent in the swing states, they only registered a 0.3% change from 2008. From this, he concludes that television ads don’t work. What he’s missing, however, is 2010. Had this election occurred in 2010, Romney would have blown Obama away in those same swing states. What changed between 2010 and 2012 was that in 2011, Obama began running negative ads against Romney in those swing states. This was before Romney had even won the primary. The result of this was that Romney’s negatives were 10% higher in targeted states like Ohio, than they were in demographically similar states like Pennsylvania. In other words, Obama’s negative spending was able to wipe out the gains of 2010. That’s effective.

Where Morris IS correct is that neither side was able to move themselves forward with their own ads. . . they were only able to tear the other guy down. But rather than buying into Morris’ sweeping declaration, let me suggest that the problem was the ads, not the idea of the ads. Here’s why they failed:
Negativity. Colorado was awash in ads. I saw them all. And only one ad truly struck me as something that made me hopeful for a candidate, and that was an ad Obama ran in the last 3-4 days. Before that, neither candidate gave me any reason to support them. Compare that to corporate America. They invest millions to come up with great ways to make you want their products. They rarely tear down a competitor, because that doesn’t make you want their product, and if they do, it’s just to compare themselves... “we’re faster.” Neither Romney nor Obama did that. There were almost no positive ads, and none of the negative ads offered you a positive alternative. It was basically Coke running ad after ad claiming that Pepsi is made from yak urine. How does that sell Coke?

Oversaturation. Even the best ads become grating when you see them 500 times and turn people off. If you’re going to spend the money, make a lot more ads.

Untargeted ads. Advertising is very carefully done to reach specific target audiences. New adapters are told a product is edgy and daring. The sheep who think they’re wolves are told they need the product to separate themselves from the herd. And the rest of the sheep are told they better get with it or the herd will leave them behind. Romney and Obama ran ads with zero targeting. They both simply recited “facts” in either happy or menacing ways. This made them useless because they “spoke” to no one.
This is why the television ads didn’t work. The next candidate needs to learn to see himself as a product and sell himself like he would a new electronic device or new car. Target consumers. Use a complete, creative campaign. And sell yourself, don’t waste your time tearing down the other guy... let the PACs do that.

Outreach: A decade ago, the NFL realized it had a problem. Kids weren’t watching the NFL and their market share was slipping. They set out to change that. They created a campaign to encourage kids to exercise, which just happened to use sports stars who pimped the NFL in the process. They paid for equipment for youths. They teamed with celebrities and they advertised. Their rating soared. The Republicans need to learn from this lesson. They need to start offering reasons for people to look to them as a positive force in their lives and not just as a political party. Let me suggest the following:
GOP Health. Every organization I know offers a group health plan. AARP does it. State Bar’s do it. Colleges do it. There is power in pooling. Why doesn’t the GOP do this for its 80 million members? They should have more than enough clout to get great rates, which will (1) give people a reason to join the party, (2) afford the GOP constant/free advertising as people get fliers or whatnot under the program, and (3) give people a reason to see the GOP as a force for good in their lives. This will help immensely when it comes time to vote, especially with small businesses and young workers with lousy jobs.

GOP Education. There are banks that will set up education savings accounts which let you put money in pre-tax accounts to be used for tuition. Again, the GOP should partner with banks to offer such plans to its members. This does the exact same thing as above and it shows the GOP’s concern with reducing the cost of college. This will help parents and young people.
It is time to think about how to attract people year round and to give them a reason to stick with the party long term. The above would do an effective job in terms of outreach, generating good will, and ensuring constant positive advertising.

Get Out The Vote: This election proved that both sides were horrible at getting out the vote. Once again, the Democrats appear better at handling election day, but neither party really scored because they basically relied on millions of annoying cold calls. This needs to be re-thought. I propose this:
Technology. Invest in computers to ensure better targeting. (Proven technology, not secretive ad hoc crap like Romney tried.) There is no reason I should have received 10 calls a night, and certainly not after I voted. Party workers should know who is registered and who isn’t, who has been contacted and who hasn’t, and what their demographics are.

Registration. Here’s the real key. Rather than waste money on phone calls and television advertising, the party needs to send volunteers house to house to every unregistered voter in center-right neighborhoods across the country and ask them in person to register. WHEN THEY DO, sign them up immediately to vote by mail. The ballots will come to them automatically. You can then call these people (who are now in your computer) a few days after the ballots get mailed out and ask them to vote. The return on investment on this will be huge! Why? Because (1) it happens before the “real” campaign starts, so it’s easier to influence them, (2) you have made face to face contact and you can provide them with information they need to be won over, (3) they are much more likely to mail in a ballot than take the time to go vote, and (4) the ballots will keep coming for each election thereafter. This is the real no-brainer which the Republicans need to focus on. Forty percent of the nation doesn’t turn out to vote, this can address that. Stop thinking of elections in 1950s terms... embrace change and exploit it.

Switch to Mail from Phone Contact. You seed to send fliers, not make phone calls if you want to reach people. Fliers don’t annoy people like phone calls. They also let people choose their own time to think about the race. BUT... make sure these fliers are unique, like a puzzle game or mystery or contest, to get people to read them. Be creative! Moreover, target your voters – first time voters, swing voters, reliable voters, old people, married people, single people, minorities.... they should all receive different campaigns. Companies do it because it works. We should too.

Election Day. Finally, this is when you do the things campaigns normally do, like helping old people get to the polls, calling people to remind them to vote and asking people to bring their friends. And if you've done the registration part right, you will have a lot more time to do this right because 50%+ of your voters will already have voted.
This is how modern billion-dollar campaigns need to be run. Join the modern world GOP. Learn from corporate America. They know how to sell. . . you don’t. Learn that a campaign needs to be run year round, every year, not just once every four years. Get professional guidance from corporate marketing specialists, not political hacks. And never forget, there is a science to all of this. . . it’s not an art.

Anything I missed?

[+]

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Veterans Day Salute

“Courage Is Almost A Contradiction In Terms.
It Means A Strong Desire To Live Taking The Form Of Readiness To Die."

Veterans Day is officially the eleventh day of the eleventh month first proclaimed by Pres. Woodrow Wilson in 1919 and later expanded to be a day of remembrance for our living veterans and service personnel currently serving. Part of Wilson’s official proclamation: -
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
So that the official Uniform Monday Holiday Act federal employee holiday from work (with the exception of those in uniform, of course) does not get lost to the "Veterans Day Sale" at the local malls, let us remember why this holiday was proclaimed in the first place. Please join me in the following:

To all who have served, who currently serve, and will serve in the future, thank you for your courage and your willingness to serve. We wish to express our heartfelt thank you.
[+]

Necessary Changes To The Republican Party

Back in 2009, I did a series called Rebuilding the Republican Party in which I explained what the GOP needed to do to survive. They didn’t listen. And exit polling shows the GOP suffering from the exact same problems this time. Romney lost because of singles, youths, and minorities. This needs to change or forget ever winning again. It’s time to return to our ideological roots and promote the individual and individual freedom.

Let’s start by highlighting the problem. There is a belief in conservative circles that the country is much more conservative than liberal and we just need to win over conservative independents. This belief comes from polling which shows the country as 38% Democrats, 32% Republicans and 29% Independents, with independents leaning right. But “independents” turns out to be a meaningless category. Indeed, Romney won independents yet lost the election. What really matters are “moderates.”

In that regard, we find 35% conservatives, 25% liberals and 41% moderates. BUT, 60% of the “moderates” broke for Obama, meaning they are liberals. When you break this down, you find that 50% of Americans are conservatives and 50% are liberals. In other words, we're a 50/50 country. So forget the idea of tapping into a pool of hidden conservatives. If we want to move the needle, we need to look at the groups we lost overwhelmingly and we need to figure out ways to win back their more centrist members. Here's how...

The Gender (read: “Single”) Gap: Women account for 53% of the electorate and Obama carried them by 11%. Romney carried men by 7%. But that doesn’t tell us what’s really going on. The real key is single people.

Romney won married men by 20% and married women by 6%. These two groups made up 29% and 31% of the electorate (60% in total). So how did he lose? He got blown away among singles. Indeed, Romney lost single men by 20% and single women by 40%! These two groups made up only 18% and 23% of the electorate, but the huge gaps made up the difference.

If the Republicans ever want to win again, they need to win more single people, particularly single women. To do that, we need to understand the problem. So realize this. First, Reagan won both groups (he won men by 28% and women by 10%). So there is nothing inherently “wrong” with singles being Republicans. Nor was there something wrong with Romney. McCain didn't face a “war on women” attack or smears about his father being a bigamist, and he did 3% worse with women than Romney. What this means is that the party has a structural problem which developed after Reagan.

When you look at polls or talk to these people, what you will hear is outrage/terror about the Republican Party’s various stances on social issues. This is particularly true with single women who are turned off by the party’s attacks on gays, its obsession with abortion and contraception, and its rhetorical attacks about “family values” which imply that only married people with kids and church-goers are moral.

The Solution: If the GOP wants to win singles, particularly single women, it needs to stop hating gays, it needs to stop conflating going to church or being married with being a good American, and it needs to stop obsessing over abortion. I recommend removing abortion from the platform or stepping it back to “safe, rare, restricted, and no government funding.” Leave the rest for churches to push, not government policy. And shoot the first person to talk about restricting other forms of contraception. . . Rick Santorum. I recommend making gay marriage a question of individual conscience (so as not to interfere with religious freedom) while putting support for civil unions and anti-discrimination laws in the platform. I recommend removing talk of the party believing in God and instead shifting to talking about protecting everyone's right to believe... in any religion or no religion. And I recommend eliminating all talk of constitutional amendments on any social issues -- that's pointless and whacky. Also stop signing those stupid fringy pledges! They're a trap.

The Youth Vote: Romney won old people, but got crushed with the young. 19-29 year olds favored Obama by 26%. Even 30-44 year olds favored Obama by 10%. Together, they made up 46% of the electorate. The next 38% of the electorate were tied. Then Romney won oldsters by 12%. So there is a youth problem which the seniors don’t make up for.

The youth problem can be attributed to several things. On the one hand, the youth vote is the direct result of GOP stodginess and intolerance on issues like gays and abortion, and its lack of visible minorities. But more importantly, another huge turnoff is the GOP’s rhetorical attacks on college education and seeming unwillingness to help young people leave college without crushing levels of debt, i.e. without making them slaves to banks. The GOP’s attacks on internet freedom don’t help either. Nor does the GOP’s image as the party of Big Business. Indeed, many of these young people drifted to Ron Paul and then Gary Johnson and finally back to Obama because the GOP seemed to offer no hope that it cared about people rather than corporations.

The Solution: It’s time to understand that these are issues of economic freedom. I recommend the GOP come up with a genuine plan to (1) help every American go to college while (2) reducing the cost of college so young people aren’t enslaved for the first 20 years of their economic lives. Don't forget, government caused this problem. I recommend supporting total internet freedom and fighting censorship in any form. That means dropping the heinous idea of regulating the internet to promote morality (i.e. “protecting children”) or doing the bidding of corporate America through anti-piracy laws. I also recommend that conservatives stop defending big companies. Talk about people, not companies. Fight cronyism in any form. Talk about the American dream!! Our party should be focused on helping average people strive to make their lives better, to build a business, buy a house, send their kids to college... not protecting the balance sheets of multinational corporations. All of these are conservative values, so why aren't we doing them already?

The Minority Gap: The minority gap is beyond critical. Obama won Hispanics by 44%, Asians by 45%, blacks by 88% and Muslims by 70%. Muslims and Asians only make up 2% and 3% of the public, but blacks make up 13% of the electorate and Hispanics make up 11% of the electorate, and growing. There are several glaring problems here.
● Asians are generally industrious, business-minded and education-minded, which should make them natural GOP allies, especially as liberal affirmative action is hurting Asian students in California. How did we lose them by 45%? Because the party comes across as hostile to non-whites. Moreover, the party has offered nothing in the way of education and its focus on “business” has been on oil companies, not small businesses.

The Solution: Court these voters. Also, we need to rediscover the American dream. We need to protect the little guy and not worry about the big guy. Warren Buffett and Wall Street can take care of themselves, and they don't like us anyway.

● For a party that claims to cherish religious freedom, Muslims should be natural allies. But they aren’t. Why not? Because of open bigotry by conservatives, be it accusing all Muslims of being terrorists, to careless talk about bombing the Middle East, to paranoid freak-outs about the appointment of a single Muslim judge to a meaningless municipal judgeship.

The Solution: It’s time to start mentioning Islam along with other religions when talking about religious freedom, and it’s time to stop pushing symbolic ideas like banning sharia law (which can’t be put in place under our constitution in any event).

● Blacks and Hispanics should be much closer to 50/50, but they aren’t. Again, the problem is the appearance of bigotry. Conservatives treat blacks and Hispanics like unpleasant neighbors who need to be humored every four years. They do not treat them like part of the family. They use hyperbolic speech, they are afraid to speak the truth and they talk down to these people as if they are children. They even make bizarre racial-tinged attacks on things like rap music and “ghetto culture.” When they conduct outreach, it’s a token appointment of the whitest black/Hispanic guy in the room to a meaningless position, or it’s an attempt to go along with some Democratic plan to buy loyalty.

On Hispanics, conservatives have created a serious problem with talk of deportation. Polls show that 60% of Hispanics know someone who is here illegally. That makes deportation a personal danger to them. Making this self-inflicted wound worse, talk of deportation is just gratuitous because it won’t happen. Moreover, conservatives talk in racist terms about Hispanics. They imply that all Hispanics are here illegally. They imply that all Hispanics are criminals. And they imply that all Hispanics are the same.

The Solution: Fixing the Hispanic problem will require a radical change in thinking. We need to realize that deportation isn’t going to happen, so learn to accept the idea that these illegals are here to stay. The GOP needs to go on a “listening tour” in the Hispanic community (so they get credit for acting) and then propose an amnesty – don’t wait for Obama. AND conservatives need to shut the hell up about it. The more they whine, the less credit conservatives will get for having changed. Until we do this, we are just delaying the inevitable and we’re making the wound bigger.

The GOP also needs to conduct real outreach. Every Congressman should hire Spanish-speaking staffers whose job would be to do what they do for everyone else, i.e. meet with Hispanic constituents every day of the year and help them get benefits, get permits, and get through the immigration system. They need to actively court Hispanic business owners and hook them up with their other donors. They need to encourage their friends in the banking industry to make loans to these people. They need to court mothers with children by telling them about the educational reforms they want. Start winning them over, one vote at a time, day after day in a thousand districts across the country.

They need to do the same with blacks. Even a 5-10% shift would be seismic.

Finally, they need to appoint a LOT of Hispanic, black, young and female Republicans to prominent positions. Right now there are basically none. I also think the next Republican presidential ticket must include a dark-skinned Hispanic and a youngish woman. This will help with minorities, with single women and with the young.

The GOP can turn this around, but they need to take decisive action. I'm not saying to become libertarians. Their obsession with drugs, conspiracies and their inability to recognize a proper role for government make them too far gone. But we need to offer people something better than the message of: (1) we fear minorities, (2) we want to control single women, (3) we only like married Christians, (4) we hate college kids, and (5) the American dream is to be a slave of corporate America.

Conservatism needs a reboot. It’s time to talk about personal economic freedom, the freedom to build the American dream on a level playing field. It’s time to fully include minorities in that dream. And it’s time to stop undercutting that message by acting like the morality police. It’s time to give people a reason to support us, not fear us.

[+]

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 61

Americans are big into recycling, at least they are with sitcom stars.

There are actors who are permanent fixtures on sitcoms (like Ted Danson), who is your favorite?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
[+]

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More Dumb Stuff from NY and other BS...

So, last week, a large swathe of NY and NJ was hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy leaving ten of thousands permanently homeless, hundreds of thousands without electricity, and millions without gasoline and other basic necessities. The main oil refinery in Linden, New Jersey was damaged to such an extent that gasoline supplies are fast being depleted with no timetable when it will start producing gasoline again. And worst of all, included destruction is our supply of adult beverages because the main beverage distribution center was wiped out and all the adult beverages were destroyed [see photo above]. But FEMA has been here to help people apply for actual aid - no blankets, precious little food or clothing, but hey, there's a website where you can sign up...if you have electricity.

This week the same area was hit with a classic "Nor'East'er" shutting down the same areas and pounding us with 50+ mile an hour winds and 3+ feet of snow and near freezing tempuratures. This left many of the same people who had just had their electricity restored after eight day, without electricity again, freezing temperatures, and very little gasoline to power generators. But hey, the Red Cross brought cookies and hot chocolate, some even supplied blankets! FEMA shut down because of the bad weather...

As a result, Governor Christie has mandated '70's style odd/even gas rationing plan, Governor Cuomo has all disappeared except to make vague threats to the power companies, but Mayor Bloomberg has been very busy. In light of all the destruction, he sprang into action by banning charitable food donations to homeless shelters because of the unknown salt/fiber/nutritional content of the donated food...seriously.

Next week...the Zombie Apocalypse begins. Please send vodka...

Just a few announcements:

1. Thanks to StanH for the suggestion, Commentarama is compiling a list of companies, organizations, and service providers for our Commentarama-BS Boycott. I am currently going through donor lists by industry on to locate who gave overwhelmingly to the Democrats. This is just a start. Please feel to include more.

Here are few to consider who gave generously to BS:
Walt Disney Co.
Comcast Corp.
Time Warner
DreamWorks SKG
Google, inc.
Intel. Corp
IBM Corp.
Apple Inc.
Ebay Inc.

2. Please send the names of good Red State companies to bolster.
3. Don't forget about our Commentarama-nary! Still have work to do to update with many wonderful new additions from the last few weeks.

[+]