Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Alive

Just a brief update, to let my 2.5 readers know I'm still alive.

I haven't had much inclination to blog lately. It's part election fatigue, part personal issues that I really don't feel a need to get into here, and part overall dissatisfaction with the way I've been doing this--I consider myself a debater, but this blog has become, by and large, a forwarding station for political column excerpts. That needs to change.

So, seeing as I've already been gone almost a month, I figure I might as well take a break for the rest of the year while I revise my approach.

I'll be back come January. Hopefully, at that point I'll be sounding off again, rather than just echoing.

--Shack

Monday, November 10, 2008

The bishops flinch

The Catholic vote this past election was a mess, as usual. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship was twisted and abused to excuse voting for a rabidly pro-choice presidential candidate, to the point that a few bishops actually felt compelled to do their jobs for once and set their parishoners straight.

This (the bishops doing their jobs) being a radical new concept, it engendered confusion among the faithful, and the USCCB decided in September to take action. They would finally address the problem of pro-choice Catholics, come to a firm answer, and speak the answer to their flock with one voice.

Sure, they were going to wait until after the election to actually do something about it--but they were finally going to do something about it!

-Two months later-

...Um, hey. About that "finally addressing the problem" thing?

Yeah.

They chickened out. Big time.

Why am I not surprised?

--Shack

(H/T: Catholic Culture)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A tiny sliver of hope on the Fairness Doctrine

It's not much, but Carl Cannon, in his post-mortem on the election, puts forth the first plausible case I've seen for Barack Obama to not acquiesce to the demands of his base and reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine:

“Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” legendary California Democrat (and Reagan adversary) Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh was fond of saying. Well, nobody in Sacramento politics, including Reagan himself, ever saw anything like the Obama fundraising machine of 2008. This is a campaign that raised more than $600 million—more than it needed, more than it could spend—which allowed it to campaign and to air ads in every part of Ohio, to run high-dollar get-out-the-vote drives in traditionally Republican states, to stage first-class outdoor events catering to hundreds of thousands of people, to emerge flush even in the wake of the most expensive primary campaign in history, to eschew federal matching money (breaking a campaign promise in the process), to outspend McCain in every swing state, and to buy half-hour infomercials on the major networks in prime time less than a week before the election.

Democrats, Obama included, have threatened to restore the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” a dubious governmental regulation that supposedly supplied equal access to the nation’s airwaves. Bringing it back would be an appalling government intrustion into the marketplace of ideas, but now that Obama has won, I suspect the president-elect will recalibrate his stance on that—just as he did on accepting federal campaign finance limitations when it became clear he could shatter all existing fundraising records. Why do I say that? Because if a “Fairness Doctrine” had been in place, the networks would have had to provide McCain equal time on television—even though he didn’t have the money to pay for it. Obama had a huge advantage, which he exploited ruthlessly and effectively.


Not much, as I said--but it's the first time I've seen an argument that it would be in Obama's best interest not to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine.

And that's about the only way it doesn't get reinstituted.

--Shack

Election post-mortem

About the only good news out of last night was that Democrats didn't get the filibuster-proof Senate they were looking for...I think. That should (hopefully) keep nightmare scenarios like the Freedom of Choice Act at bay for at least the next two years.

Other than that, though, the night was pretty much an unmitigated disaster.

In a concession speech filled with high-minded calls for Republicans to unilaterally disarm and bend over, John McCain did manage one moment of blunt honesty:

"The failure is mine."

Was it ever.

In a political environment that should have been insurmountable--but wasn't--McCain shot himself in the head. The moments where it was clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that he just did not get it were there in abundance, but it went far beyond that.

"Incoherence" was the watchword of this campaign. It started with the man at the top, and infected pretty much everyone--yes, everyone--on down the line.

There was never a consistent message. Brand new themes (Celebrity, The One, Experience, Judgment, Maverick, Liberal, Socialist, etc.) were picked up almost every week and discarded nearly as quickly.

Ten thousand attacks were ten thousand mosquito bites; never in the same place, never for very long, and as a result never doing much damage...if any at all.

If there is a defining moment for the futility of McCain's attacks, it was during the third debate, where he simply repeated the phrase "spread the wealth" over and over. He never linked it to Obama's policies. He never linked it to the real-life consequences of the philosophy behind it. He never even seemed to have any real grasp of why it was such a blunder for Obama in the first place.

He simply repeated the phrase, again and again, as if it were a mantra that would somehow magically unleash the voters' inner selves and cause them to transcend to a Republican plane of consciousness. (I readily recall McCain acting in much the same way when he brought up William Ayers and Obama's record on earmarks.)

The same thing happened during the financial crisis, and that pretty much sealed McCain's fate. He pinballed from trumpeting the soundness of the economy to denouncing Wall Street greed to publicly leaving the campaign trail (only to backtrack a few days later) to...well, to "spread the wealth."

Meanwhile, Obama and his allies were consistently hammering home the Big Lie that the Bush Administration and deregulation were to blame for the crisis. They told it loud enough, they told it often enough--and people believed it.

Even the one bright spot in the campaign--the national introduction of Sarah Palin--ended up a disaster. I'm not talking here about the politically manufactured scandals; I'm talking about her inability--one I strongly suspect was inherited/adapted from McCain--to respond to a direct question with anything other than a rambling, pre-emptive stump speech only theoretically related to what she was supposed to be answering.

For all the good her brilliant speeches at her unveiling and the RNC did her, her later performances undid that progress...and then some. Palin's reputation has been destroyed. She is the new Dan Quayle. Her political career on the national stage is effectively over; one of the GOP's brightest rising stars has been extinguished.

Where do we go from here? Nowhere fast.

Looking to the future, it's a near-certainty that we'll see the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, leading to the squelching of talk radio (and the economic ruin of the stations that signed personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to long, pricey contracts--an object lesson for the radio companies, in case some future Republican administration should ever rescind the Doctrine again) and leaving conservatives without any mass media presence whatsoever. Card check will revitalize the unions, key Democratic supporters.

FOCA is not likely (pray to God) to get past a Republican filibuster--but if it does, on top of everything else, that's effectively the end of the pro-life movement as a political force. The GOP's most dependable and committed group of supporters goes up in smoke.

Obama may well be a one-term president. But in that one term, he will very likely set the stage for Democratic domination for at least the next generation...assuming the country lasts that long.

--Shack

A Farewell to Poker

I had a fairly lengthy post-mortem of the election almost ready to go when my computer crashed, forcing me to start over from scratch. I'll hopefully have that up soon.

In the meantime, though, I note that Texas Hold 'Em Blogger, one of the more...unrestrained...members of the right-wing blogosphere, has been deleted.

It is unclear whether the "authors" noted in the deletion message refers to Peter--who on two different post-election entries displayed an upside-down American flag--or to Wordpress admins.

In either case, though, I doubt the blog will return.

The immortal words of Davy Crockett would seem to sum up Peter's reaction best:

"You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas."

--Shack

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Planned Parenthood: Pro-Infanticide

Students for Life of America went undercover, and got the kind of brazen inhumanity we should be used to getting from Planned Parenthood by now:




The money quote:

"It's an actual delivery, but it wouldn't be able to survive on its own--so eventually, the baby does die."

Infanticide by exposure, ladies and gentlemen. Planned Parenthood's routine "safety net," so to speak, in case the abortion results in a live birth--which the PP rep freely admits "does happen."

SFLA is calling on Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood.

Given the track record of the likely President-elect and his followers, smart money is on Congress investigating SFLA, instead.

--Shack

(H/T: Catholic News Agency, via InsideCatholic.com)

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Economist to America: Go to Vegas

And I don't mean that as a euphemism for somewhere a bit hotter. The Economist, in quite possibly the single most idiotic endorsement of this presidential campaign, recommends that the United States "take a chance"--that's a direct quote--and elect Barack Obama.

The paper readily admits Obama's shortcomings. In short:

Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.

Why? Well, at the end of the endorsement, they finally get around to answering that...kind of:

In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent.

In short: We shouldn't worry about his ambiguous beliefs, his microscopic resume, or the hypothetical nature of his backbone in the face of a Democratic Congress because...

...he campaigns pretty.

That's it.

Certainly, it matters how well Obama came through the presidential campaign. It's a trial by fire, the most rigorous of its kind (even without the media doing its job) and that's how it should be--a test of the candidate's mettle, his fitness on a personal level to be President. It's an essential benchmark to be cleared.

But it's just the bare minimum. It's expected. It's a qualifier that should be used only to disqualify a candidate who fails to meet it. It is not a reason, in and of itself, to vote for one candidate over another.

But that's precisely what The Economist advises.

In the most important presidential election in recent memory, their recommendation to the American people is a blind leap of faith.

--Shack

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The judicial president

This, from today's Wall Street Journal, is flat-out scary. There's no other way to put it.

One of the great unappreciated stories of the past eight years is how thoroughly Senate Democrats thwarted efforts by President Bush to appoint judges to the lower federal courts.

Consider the most important lower federal court in the country: the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In his two terms as president, Ronald Reagan appointed eight judges, an average of one a year, to this court. They included Robert Bork, Antonin Scalia, Kenneth Starr, Larry Silberman, Stephen Williams, James Buckley, Douglas Ginsburg and David Sentelle. In his two terms, George W. Bush was able to name only four: John Roberts, Janice Rogers Brown, Thomas Griffith and Brett Kavanaugh.

Although two seats on this court are vacant, Bush nominee Peter Keisler has been denied even a committee vote for two years. If Barack Obama wins the presidency, he will almost certainly fill those two vacant seats, the seats of two older Clinton appointees who will retire, and most likely the seats of four older Reagan and George H.W. Bush appointees who may retire as well.

The net result is that the legal left will once again have a majority on the nation's most important regulatory court of appeals.

The balance will shift as well on almost all of the 12 other federal appeals courts. Nine of the 13 will probably swing to the left if Mr. Obama is elected (not counting the Ninth Circuit, which the left solidly controls today). Circuit majorities are likely at stake in this presidential election for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal. That includes the federal appeals courts for New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and virtually every other major center of finance in the country.

On the Supreme Court, six of the current nine justices will be 70 years old or older on January 20, 2009. There is a widespread expectation that the next president could make four appointments in just his first term, with maybe two more in a second term. Here too we are poised for heavy change.


Combine that with a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate majority, and you get liberal hegemony via judicial fiat for at least the next generation...if not for my lifetime (and I have yet to turn 30).

--Shack

Monday, October 20, 2008

Powell endorses Obama

Was anyone surprised by this? Seriously--was anyone surprised by this?

He says it's not about race, and I find it very easy to believe him. From a policy standpoint, Colin Powell has always been of the Schwarzenegger/Giuliani mold--i.e. liberal on social issues--and that came through loud and clear as he explained himself:

As a key reason, Powell said: "I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that's what we'd be looking at in a McCain administration."

That's the long and short of it right there.

--Shack

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Iron Butterfly?

An interesting article by Bob Greene on the CNN Political Ticker, highlighting a possible case of political chaos theory: One man's decision not to enter politics may have led to another man later being on the doorstep of the White House.

Recall: In 2004, Republican nominee Jack Ryan was forced to pull out of the Illinois race for the US Senate. The GOP replaced Ryan with carpetbagger Alan Keyes, and Barack Obama eventually won the election.

However, Keyes wasn't the party's first choice to take over the nomination.

That distinction belongs to former Chicago Bears coach "Iron" Mike Ditka, a self-described "staunch conservative."

Greene recounts:

A lot of people in Illinois thought Ditka had a pretty good chance to win, had he accepted the invitation to run. Remember: four years ago, Obama was a relative unknown. He was back in the state senate after having been defeated badly in a 2000 primary in which he sought to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ditka, on the other hand, was one of the most famous– and in many, many places, beloved– people in the state of Illinois. He was controversial, yes, but that’s what his admirers liked about him. He was instantly recognizable in every corner of the state– he would have drawn enormous crowds to rallies. Mike Ditka, the icon, against Barack Obama, the novice?

“I am who I am,” Ditka told me. “People know that.”

Had Ditka run and won, there isn’t a way in the world that Obama would have been in the race for the White House now. And history would have been completely rewritten.


In short--sometimes, a butterfly not flapping its wings can cause a hurricane, as well.

--Shack

(H/T: Grandpa John's, via Dr. Sanity)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Breaking news: Bishops do their job, for a change

There have already been more statements regarding abortion from the country's Catholic bishops during this election campaign than at any other time I can recall.

Now, finally, a few of them are doing what they ALL should have been doing for the past thirty years--that is to say, their job.

In Texas, Bishops Kevin Farrell and Kevin Vann issued a joint statement taking aim at the abuse of "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" to excuse voting for Obama. It was mailed to Catholic families in the Fort Worth area and read during Mass at parishes in Dallas.

The response was immediate. The Dallas Morning News reported that a number of people walked out of Mass in response, and Americans United for Insulation Separation of Church and State made threatening noises about federal tax laws.

I hate to think what their response is going to be to the following broadside from St. Louis Bishop Robert Hermann, reproduced here in its entirety (emphases mine):

Save our children! More than anything else, this election is about saving our children or killing our children. This life issue is the overriding issue facing each of us in this coming election. All other issues, including the economy, have to take second place to the issue of life.

Save our children! Many people in Germany supported Hitler for economic reasons even though, as his programs advanced, he put to death millions of Jewish people. He ended up wrecking the economy together with the country of Germany.

How are we different if we vote for proabortion candidates for office? How can we help change our political and legal situation to protect innocent children and support a culture of life?

Save our children! When I speak to some socalled good Catholics, I am shocked that they are quite ready to vote for a pro-abortion candidate under almost any circumstance. I find this hard to understand. We have heard the word "abortion" so often that perhaps we no longer associate procured abortion with the killing of children, yet that is what it is. The term itself can be misleading. The dictionary tells us that it comes from a Latin word that means "to disappear or to miscarry." Sometimes abortions simply happen because of natural causes. That is why this word abortion, for many people, apparently does not really connote the destruction of children. When a human agent induces an abortion, that human agent is taking the life of one of our children.

Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that take the life of innocent children, when there is an alternative? If there were two candidates who supported abortion, but not equally, we would have the obligation to mitigate the evil by voting for the less-permissive candidate.

Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that justify the killing of a child that survived a botched abortion? How can such a so-called good Catholic receive the Holy Eucharist?

In Chapter 10 of St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he states: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? ... You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons."

Save our children! Have some of our so-called good Catholics become so hardened against the Gospel of Life that they believe that other issues outweigh the Gospel of Life? Have some of our so-called good Catholics put politics ahead of the Fifth Commandment, in which God states: "Thou shalt not kill"? Do some of our so-called good Catholics, who may go to Mass every Sunday and receive the Holy Eucharist, really believe that voting for a pro-abortion candidate, when there is a clear alternative and therefore no justifiable reason for so doing, is really not voting to have children killed? This election is all about saving our children!

Save our children! I have no doubt that there may be some so-called good Catholics who are reading this column and who may be really angry about now. I ask the question "Why would such a person be angry?" If we do good deeds, then our conscience is at peace. If we do evil deeds, then our conscience bothers us. It is my hope that this column will lead some of our so-called good Catholics to study the Catholic Catechism.

Save our children! Some of our so-called good Catholics may have hardened their hearts against the real understanding of induced abortions, that they can no longer see that this involves the destruction of our children. "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts!"

Save our children! Supporting induced abortions is not the greatest sin in the world. A greater sin is the refusal to repent of such a serious crime or the denial that this involves the killing of innocent children.

Save our children! I have used this terminology again and again penetrate the defenses of anyone who in the past may have put personal, economic or political interests above the issue of saving our children. The right to life is our most fundamental right, and to defend this right on behalf of the most vulnerable is a great privilege and is worth giving one’s life for. Policemen and firemen always risk their lives to save human life. Why should we not risk our own reputation to save our children?

Save our children!You can see by now that I do not believe that this column by itself will change hearts. The issue of abortion involves serious sin, and to overcome serious patterns of sin requires grace. If you are still with me, may I suggest that you join me and many others in praying the daily Rosary from now until election day for the sake of life. Why not pray the family Rosary every night between now and the general election. The Rosary brought down the Iron Curtain. It can also help us turn around the culture of death to a culture of life.

Save our so-called good Catholics who ignore Catholic moral principles when applied to our political life. Pray the family Rosary daily. Pray the family Rosary for our so-called good Catholics who could use your love and your charity. Pray for our so-called good Catholics who ignore serious Catholic moral teachings and still receive Holy Communion. Love them by praying the family Rosary for them. Don’t debate with them. Intercede for them. Praying for them is more fun than fighting with them.

Save our children and save our so-called good Catholics who have abandoned Church teachings in favor of personal gain. Pray the Rosary. Pray it every day. Get the whole family to pray the Rosary daily. Prayer is more powerful than contentious arguments. Spread the word to other families. In praying the Rosary, children’s votes count as much as adult votes. Sometimes they pray with purer hearts than we do. If you are disgusted with the TV news, then turn it off and turn on the prayer Internet. What we hear in prayer leaves us in peace. When we pray for our country and for our fellow citizens, we are filled with peace. St. Paul tells us that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers and the spirits of darkness.

Prayer is our protection. Let it also be a protection for our country. If you want to make Satan angry, pray the Rosary for the sake of Life. Pray that as a nation we will choose leaders that will say ‘no’ to the culture of death and say ‘yes’ to the culture of life. Save our children! Pray the Rosary!

There's a schism brewing in the Catholic Church in America. And when it erupts, abortion is going to be front and center.

--Shack

(H/T: InsideCatholic.com [and again])

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hope where there is none

I haven't exactly been shy in my predictions. Much as I would like to think otherwise, I am all but certain that John McCain is going to lose this election in a landslide, due not only to a perfect economic storm but also to his own total and utter ineptitude during the debates.

If there's any chance left for McCain at all--and I have serious doubts about that--it lies in the fact that Obama's supporters are tactical morons.

I'm not speaking here of the insane assaults on Sarah Palin that completely and utterly backfired on the media. I'm speaking instead of what Zombie calls The Left's Big Blunder--an overemphasis on opinion polls that are almost certainly substantially inflated:

In the majority of strategy games, the most effective plan is to trick your opponent into underestimating you. The goal is to catch them unawares, to spring an attack when they least expect it. But there are exceptions to this rule: in poker, and sometimes in warfare, the most effective strategy can be the reverse -- to bluff, which means to trick your opponent into overestimating your strength.

There's a catch, however: bluffing only works when the rules of the game allow you to avoid a showdown with your opponent. Imagine, for example, that you were playing a hand of high stakes poker against a skilled opponent. You look at your cards and you see that your hand is not particularly good. Under these circumstances, some professional poker players will bet everything they have, and act confident, in hope of bluffing their opponents into folding. When the opponent folds, there is no final showdown; the player who was bluffing collects the winnings without having to reveal his cards, or, even if he does reveal them, doesn't actually need to have the better hand. The opponents gave up because they couldn't take the pressure. But what if the rules of this particular game of poker were changed so that every hand necessarily ended in a showdown: it was not possible to fold, and no matter how much you bluffed, and how much your opponent feared the strength of your hand, you still have to beat his hand at the end of betting. Under these circumstances, bluffing is not only ineffective, it's absolutely foolish, because you're risking everything on a group of cards that are not likely to win.

Similarly, in ancient warfare, if you could convince your opponent that your army was bigger than it really was, you could possibly trick them into surrendering without a fight -- a fight you might have actually lost if you had gone to battle.

Yet presidential elections are not like poker or siege warfare. There is no way to bluff your way to victory. The McCain campaign can't "fold" or surrender, nor can the actual voting on November 4 be cancelled. No matter how much the Obama supporters inflate their apparent strength, at the end of the day they're going to have prove it's true -- or lose the election. Because of this, bluffing in a presidential election is the worst possible strategy, because all you'll end up achieving is to inspire the opposing camp to fight more desperately, since they'll assume their backs are against the wall. Teddy Roosevelt advised that the best political posture is to "Speak softly and carry a big stick" -- but in 2008 the Democrats are yelling at the top of their lungs and carrying only a medium-sized stick.


It's the longest of long shots--but between the identities of the actual pollsters (i.e. the ones in direct contact with those being surveyed), the Clever Hans Effect, and a viscerally renewed Bradley Effect, Zombie lays out a pretty compelling case for the last hope McCain has left: that enough despairing conservatives go out to vote in protest, while enough complacent Obama supporters decide to just stay home.

Frankly, though, McCain would have a better chance of winning the lottery.

Twice.

In a row.

Playing the exact same numbers.

--Shack

(H/T: Dr. Sanity)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

3rd debate

For some reason (I'm not quite sure why) I went ahead and watched the final presidential debate.

McCain didn't do much to help himself...and then there was this little gem:

Now, 95 percent of the people in America will receive more money under my plan because they will receive not only their present benefits, which may be taxed, which will be taxed, but then you add $5,000 onto it, except for those people who have the gold-plated Cadillac insurance policies that have to do with cosmetic surgery and transplants and all of those kinds of things.

Transplants. Equated with cosmetic surgery.

That sound you hear? It's the last dwindling hopes of the McCain campaign--and of the United States of America, for at least the next four years--going down the drain.

--Shack

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It's over.

I had a lot of trouble finding the second presidential debate online (the C-Span embedded video on RCP had the volume set so low I couldn't hear anyone, and no apparent way to turn it up). Once I did manage to track it down, I wished I hadn't--because I was turning it off in disgust before the candidates had even finished with the first question.

This race is over.

John McCain and Sarah Palin have both had a problem throughout this campaign answering a straight question. In Palin's case, it's not an unreasonable expectation for someone who was thrown in the deep end a little over a month ago--and to compensate, over that month she's demonstrated a very short learning curve, which suggests McCain did indeed make the right pick for his running mate.

McCain's case, however, is another story--and rarely was the disconnect more evident than on the first question. What's the fastest, best way to "bail out" older and retired citizens whose savings have been decimated by the market crash?

McCain's answer: Reduce dependence on foreign oil.

...I'm sorry. WHAT?

Forget not answering the question. This was so far out of touch, Barack Obama should be taking that clip and running it as a TV ad for the rest of the campaign. On the very first question of the debate--when everyone tuned in was still watching--John McCain shot himself in the head.

This is a disaster for the country in so many ways.

An Obama administration will be a disaster for the pro-life movement.

It will be a disaster for the First Amendment.

It will be a disaster for the economy.

It will be a disaster for national security.

It will be a disaster for global security.

I'm hard-pressed to think of a way an Obama administration won't be a disaster.

But make no mistake--come January 2009, there will be an Obama administration.

May the good Lord have mercy on our souls.

--Shack

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bipartisan. Right.

Writing at Human Events, Jay Homnick deconstructs the end of Joe Biden's performance at Thursday's debate:

The penultimate question to the candidates was: is there any position you changed while in office upon achieving new insights into the legislative process? Biden said yes. When he arrived in the Judiciary Committee, he brought with him a belief from law school. It held that if a President nominates a qualified jurist for the Supreme Court, the Senate was bound to confirm the nominee. He soon came to conclude that ideology should also be considered as a factor, so he proudly fought the elevation of Judge Robert Bork to the court.

Then Biden was granted the privilege of offering a closing argument. In it he assured the audience that Senator Obama and he would govern in a bipartisan spirit.

This pair of presentations combine to shine a piercing light into the dark soul of the Democrat worldview. If we decode – or “unpack”, in the jargon – his first point, he is telling us that until he arrived there was a bipartisan custom in place for handling Supreme Court appointments. Distinction was the only criterion for a Supreme Court Justice, with no thought of the Senate playing an adversarial role in their Constitutionally mandated “advice and consent”. When Biden arrived he decided that would no longer do, and henceforth every confirmation hearing would become a partisan wrangle.

So his self-described epiphany involved his bringing “change” to the Senate by making it more partisan. Immediately thereafter, he promises to usher in a new era of post-partisan cooperation.

This, of course, slots in neatly alongside the reality of the post-partisan scenario Obama et al have been proclaiming all along: full and uncontested Democratic control of all three branches of government, running roughshod over any and all Republican opposition (since it is, in their view, fundamentally illegitimate).

--Shack

Friday, October 03, 2008

VP debate thoughts

If you missed the debate, C-Span has the whole thing up on YouTube.

At any rate, just flipping through my scribbled notes:

-Palin openly and deliberately switched topics multiple times during the debate, at one point even flat-out saying she was going to ignore the moderator and speak directly to the American people. That was a gamble, and I'm not sure whether it paid off.

-Palin once again hammered home the point that many small businesses are over the $250K threshold, and will thus have their taxes raised under Obama's plain. Biden countered that 95% of small business owners have incomes of less than $250K/year.

I'm willing to bet all the change in my pocket that both candidates are absolutely, positively, 100% correct. Can you spot the extra word Biden snuck into his above rebuttal?

-Biden picked up Obama's line hammering McCain's plan to pair the $5000 tax credit for health insurance with taxing employer health benefits. Steven Landsburg should be pleased.

-Neither McCain nor Obama gave an answer last week when asked what campaign promises they might not be able to fulfill because of the bailout. Biden did give one answer--namely, increased foreign aid--then went on to say the Obama campaign would also not carry out McCain's proposed tax cuts.

...WHAT?

-Palin, after snarking that she hadn't been on the campaign trail long enough to make any such expensive promises, suggested that McCain hasn't overextended himself to that point either.

-Palin got her head handed to her on climate change. When she said that she didn't want to argue about causes, Biden pounced--if you don't know the causes, you can't find the solutions, as he rightfully pointed out.

-Palin had a quick recovery, though. When the discussion turned to alternative energy sources, she immediately noted natural gas--conspicuously absent from Biden's list--and the Alaska pipeline, then went back on the offensive with three quick strikes: Obama/Biden's unwillingness to consider any domestic solutions, their referring to safe drilling processes as "raping" the land, and Biden's YouTube coal moment.

-The sound bite of the debate: Palin saying, "We'll know when we're finished in Iraq." I'm not quite sure which side it'll end up benefitting, but there it is.

-Biden tried to spin his vote authorizing the Iraq war as not a war vote, but as giving Bush the military option to maintain sanctions. Palin countered by invoking the outsider's view, and said flat-out that a war vote is a war vote.

-I'm not quite sure what to make of the exchange over Afghanistan. I'm not clear on what the "surge principle" Biden and Palin referred to is, and how it relates to increased troop levels and classic counterinsurgency strategy (which were both part of the surge in Iraq).

-To my surprise and delight, a close variant of the NYT's question on the role of the vice presidency was, in fact, asked, with reference to Cheney's creative interpretation. Palin argued for the flexibility of the office; Biden, by contrast, argued that the VP is exclusively an executive position, whose Constitutional powers over the Senate are ONLY to cast the tiebreaker vote.

Biden is flat-out wrong on this one. Article I, Section 3:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The VP has voting power only in case of a tie, but his/her powers in presiding over the Senate are NOT limited to that instance. In fact, it would seem to be the exact opposite--the Constitution seems to imply that the VP's voting only in case of a tie break is a limitation on his/her powers in presiding over the Senate!

-Interesting, and disturbing, how Biden described his change in view on the fitness of judicial nominees, with explicit reference to the rejection of Robert Bork. Biden's former position is the one that Republican senators followed faithfully all the way up through the end of the last Democratic presidency, even after the spectacles of Bork and Clarence Thomas--putting Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer on the bench by votes of 97-3 and 87-9, respectively.

The GOP, apparently, was engaged in a little unilateral disarmament of their own. One hopes that if Obama is elected, they will keep this in mind.

-Snarky remark in Palin's closing statement about speaking to the American people without the filter of the MSM. For those who recall the creative editing of her interviews, this was a well-appreciated remark. For those who don't recall it...well, as I said at earlier, Palin's approach was a gamble.

-All pre-debate controversies aside, Gwen Ifill did an excellent job as moderator. No complaints whatsoever.

Overall, while Palin did a lot of meandering, she made very clear that she was changing the topic, so unlike her recent interviews, it didn't look like she didn't know what she was talking about. Biden didn't have any fatal gaffes.

Call this one a draw.

--Shack

Thursday, October 02, 2008

One VP Q I'd like to see

The New York Times gathered together a panel of commentators and surveyed them for questions they'd like to see at tonight's debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

Most of the questions the NYT solicited were of the "Gotcha!" variety towards one running mate or the other, but there was one question, directed towards both of them, that I would really like to hear Palin and Biden's views on:

The claim by Dick Cheney that he was exempt from certain disclosure requirements because the vice president was a “legislative officer” has been greeted with outrage. But the main power the Constitution grants the vice president is a legislative one — breaking a tie vote in the Senate.

So, Governor Palin, Senator Biden, doesn’t Mr. Cheney have a point?

But, then, if the vice president is a legislative officer, how can he wield the vast executive powers that Mr. Cheney has exercised, including orchestrating and supervising a warrantless wiretapping program?

Can the vice president shift between branches at his convenience? If not, what, in your view, is the constitutional status of the vice presidency?

— GENE HEALY, the author of “The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power”


Given Cheney's unusually prominent role as vice president in the Bush Administration, this is an extremely pertinent question, and one that gets to the heart of what Palin and Biden each see themselves doing should their tickets prevail. It's perfect for the vice presidential debate.

Meaning, of course, that there is roughly a 0.000002% chance it will be asked tonight (and that high only because it takes a swipe at the Bush Administration in passing).

--Shack

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Brief thoughts on the first presidential debate

In short: Obama won--big time.

Foreign policy was, by and large, a draw, with the two trading names and policies without noticeable slipups, and a considerable amount of agreement between the two (I think the McCain campaign's post-debate ad missed the point--the question about Obama isn't his leadership, so much as his judgment; the more he agrees with McCain, the less mileage McCain can get out of his main attacking point).

It was during the first part of the debate, devoted to economics, that Obama scored at the very least a solid points decision, if not an outright TKO.

Leaving aside the details of the debate, one thing came across very clearly. There was one, and only one, avenue of direct response in this debate: Obama to McCain.

Neither candidate gave anything even remotely resembling a direct answer to Jim Lehrer. McCain's responses to Obama were rambling, frequently changing the subject, almost always off the point--stump speech renditions, to be quite frank--and at times vying for a Golden Aikido award.

Obama's responses to McCain, by contrast, were direct, to the point, and covered what McCain had actually said. He had a full grasp of what McCain said, and sufficient command of the material to essentially control that portion of the debate.

McCain recovered later, to a degree--but for those critical opening minutes, Obama was fully and undisputedly in control. I expect him to get a big bump in the polls from this debate.

--Shack

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 million

Actually, scratch that. You can collect $200 million...as long as you're the right player in everyone's favorite new board game:

Obamonopoly!




(H/T: Don Surber)

--Shack

One economist for McCain

Writing in the Atlantic, Armchair Economist author Steven Landsburg describes how his examination of the economic policies of John McCain and Barack Obama turned him from an undecided voter into a McCain supporter.

A couple of passages that jumped out at me:

McCain is not Bush. This came as a surprise to me. I'd been assuming, in my ill-read, uneducated way, that McCain had been complicit in most of the great travesties of the Bush administration and the execrable Republican Senate. I've learned that's largely untrue. He voted (to my great surprise!) against the prescription drug entitlement, against the Farm Security Bill, against milk subsidies, against Amtrak subsidies, and against highway subsidies.

Obama, by contrast, is in many ways a continuation of Bush. Like Bush (only far more so), Obama is fine with tariffs and subsidies. Like Bush, he wants to send jackbooted thugs into every meatpacking plant in America to rid the American workplace of anyone who happens to have been born on the wrong side of an imaginary line. Like Bush, he wants a more progressive tax code. (It is one of the great myths of 21st century that the Bush tax cuts made the tax code less progressive; the opposite is true. If you are in the bottom 38% of taxpayers, you now pay zero income tax—and therefore have an incentive to support any spending bill that comes down the pike.) Like Bush, he wants more regulation, not less.

[...]

McCain gets health care right. The reason poor Americans get too little health care is that rich Americans get too much. The reason rich Americans get too much is that they're overinsured, and therefore run to the doctor for minor problems. The reason they're overinsured is that employer-provided health benefits aren't taxed, so employers overprovide them.

It has been clear for decades that the single most effective way to control health care costs is to eliminate the tax break for employer-provided health care. According to one careful study by my colleague Charles Phelps (admittedly several years old, but I'm not sure anything relevant has changed), this single reform could reduce health care costs by 40% with essentially no effect on health care outcomes.

Essential as this reform may be, I'd always assumed it was a political non-starter. I was therefore astonished to learn that it's the essence of McCain's health care reform. (At the same time, he would give each individual $2500, and each family $5000, to use for health care.)

I am astonished that I hadn't heard about this, and particularly astonished that Barack Obama hasn't thrust it in my face with a negative spin. Possibly he has and I just wasn't paying attention. In any case, this is just what the doctor ordered, and I am delighted that McCain has put it on the table.


Read the whole thing.

--Shack

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Okay, this is just rich.

Newsbusters highlights the case of Marketwatch columnist Jon Friedman--who got so caught up in mocking Sarah Palin's lack of knowledge about the Bush Doctrine during her interview with Charlie Gibson, he cited the wrong Bush Doctrine. (There are at least four, you might recall.)

Gloated Friedman:

Specifically, Palin seemed to have little idea about the Bush Doctrine, in which the U.S must spread democracy around the world to halt terrorist acts.

Lectured Gibson:

The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us.

Whoops.

--Shack

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Palin and Adams-Jefferson

Writing in the Weekly Standard, Steven Hayward looks at an angle of the Sarah Palin nomination I don't recall having seen before. Noting that Palin received a less-than-enthusiastic reception not just from the ideologically opposed left, but also from a number of prominent commentators on the right (David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, and George Will being named), Hayward suggests that the real argument over Palin goes clear back to the Founding Fathers:

If the ghosts of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are watching the storm over Palin, they must surely be revisiting their famous dialogue about America's governing class. Adams's widely misunderstood argument that there should perhaps be an explicit recognition and provision for an aristocratic class finds its reprise in the snobbery that greeted Palin's arrival on the scene. It's not just that she didn't go to Harvard; she's never been on Meet the Press; she hasn't participated in Aspen Institute seminars or attended the World Economic Forum. She hasn't been brought into the slipstream of the establishment by which we unofficially certify our highest leaders.

The issue is not whether the establishment would let such a person as Palin cross the bar into the certified political class, but whether regular citizens of this republic have the skill and ability to control the levers of government without having first joined the certified political class. But this begs an even more troublesome question: If we implicitly think uncertified citizens are unfit for the highest offices, why do we trust those same citizens to select our highest officers through free elections?

In his reply to Adams, Jefferson expressed more confidence that political virtue and capacity for government were not the special province of a recognized aristocratic class, but that aristoi (natural aristocrats) could be found among citizens of all kinds: "It would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society." Jefferson, moreover, trusted ordinary citizens to recognize political virtue in their fellow citizens: "Leave to the citizens the free election and separation of the aristoi from the pseudo-aristoi, of the wheat from the chaff. In general they will elect the really good and wise."


Hayward subscribes to Jefferson's view, and marshalls the examples of Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman in support.

In character, she certainly seems to share certain essentials with those two luminaries. (I'd be much more comfortable, though, if she didn't seem to share John McCain's half-panicky tendency to answer any question, no matter how simple, with rambling/pre-emptive explanations.)

--Shack

Friday, September 12, 2008

A pro-choice Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre was one of the best-known atheists of the 20th century. He was also one of the most rigorously, uncompromisingly consistent of the bunch--unflinchingly following his reasoning wherever it would go, no matter how uncomfortable the conclusions.

Something similar bubbles up in a recent Salon column by Camille Paglia. The column is largely about Paglia, an Obama supporter, coming to the defense of Sarah Palin against the excesses of the left (something remarkable in and of itself); however, near the end, Paglia pauses to delineate her position on abortion--a position striking not only for its stark honesty, but for its unflinching embrace of the inhumanity at the very core of the pro-choice viewpoint:

Let's take the issue of abortion rights, of which I am a firm supporter. As an atheist and libertarian, I believe that government must stay completely out of the sphere of personal choice. Every individual has an absolute right to control his or her body. (Hence I favor the legalization of drugs, though I do not take them.) Nevertheless, I have criticized the way that abortion became the obsessive idée fixe of the post-1960s women's movement -- leading to feminists' McCarthyite tactics in pitting Anita Hill with her flimsy charges against conservative Clarence Thomas (admittedly not the most qualified candidate possible) during his nomination hearings for the Supreme Court. Similarly, Bill Clinton's support for abortion rights gave him a free pass among leading feminists for his serial exploitation of women -- an abusive pattern that would scream misogyny to any neutral observer.

But the pro-life position, whether or not it is based on religious orthodoxy, is more ethically highly evolved than my own tenet of unconstrained access to abortion on demand. My argument (as in my first book, "Sexual Personae,") has always been that nature has a master plan pushing every species toward procreation and that it is our right and even obligation as rational human beings to defy nature's fascism. Nature herself is a mass murderer, making casual, cruel experiments and condemning 10,000 to die so that one more fit will live and thrive.

Hence I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue. The state in my view has no authority whatever to intervene in the biological processes of any woman's body, which nature has implanted there before birth and hence before that woman's entrance into society and citizenship.


Would that Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and their ilk were so honest.

If they were, the Human Life Amendment would be enshrined in the Constitution in a matter of months.

--Shack

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

GOP convention thoughts

I was off today, so I was able to watch the speeches live for a change. A few thoughts:

-Fox News should have been focusing more on the convention and less on itself. The talking heads of the moment went right over Mitt Romney's speech, not even paying attention to what he was saying. I had to switch over to MSNBC to actually hear Romney, and ended up staying there until the break before Giuliani came to the podium.

-While over there, I got to confirm that Olbermann is as big an idiot as ever. At the end of Mike Huckabee's speech, he immediately felt compelled to address two "factual" errors: Abraham Lincoln was not, in fact, the founder of the Republican Party, and Joe Biden did, in fact, manage to get more votes for President than Sarah Palin managed for Mayor.

Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

-Neither channel bothered to cover the governor of Hawaii's speech. Why?

-Rudy Giuliani was solid gold tonight. I especially liked this bit:

When Russia rolled over Georgia, John McCain knew exactly how to respond.

Having been to that part of the world many times and having developed a clear worldview over many years, John knew where he stood. Within hours, he established a very strong, informed position that let the world know exactly how he'll respond as President. At exactly the right time, John McCain said, "We're all Georgians."

Obama's first instinct was to create a moral equivalency - that "both sides" should "show restraint." The same moral equivalency that he has displayed in discussing the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel.

Later, after discussing it with his 300 foreign policy advisors, he changed his position and suggested that the "the UN Security Council," could find a solution. Apparently, none of his 300 advisors told him that Russia has a veto on any UN action. Finally Obama put out a statement that looked ...well, it looked a lot like John McCain's.

Here's some free advice: Sen. Obama, next time just call John McCain.

(In the actual address, Giuliani noted in addition that this evolution took Obama three days.)

-Palin's speech was good, but I really, really wish she hadn't brought up the Bridge to Nowhere. She not only supported the bridge as a gubernatorial candidate, but as governor, while she killed the project, she kept the money.

This is the one major chink in her reformer's armor, and by once again bringing it up herself, she's given the media free license to zero in on it to the exclusion of all else.

It was fun watching McCain indulge in some well-earned gloating over his VP pick, though.

--Shack

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thought of the day

From Paul Farhi of the Washington Post:

Is it really a weather story at all unless the TV people can go outside in the storm and, while risking bodily injury, warn viewers that they shouldn't go outside in the storm and risk bodily injury?

--Shack

Monday, September 01, 2008

What the...?!

It's a coincidence. I know it's a coincidence. Still...

From today's New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Residents here who buy a gun to keep legally at home, now that the Supreme Court has overturned the city’s ban on handguns, will find that a bureaucratic maze leads them to an unmarked door on Good Hope Road Southeast where Charles W. Sykes Jr. does business.

Mr. Sykes does not sell guns, but on Tuesday he is expected to become the only federally licensed dealer in Washington to serve as the transfer agent for the carefully controlled transactions that will put guns in the hands of district residents.


Heh.

--Shack

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama, in his own words

If John McCain is smart, he'll take the last 30 or so seconds of this new web ad and turn it into a TV spot.

Breitbart.tv includes here a transcript of those last 30 seconds--Obama, before entering the Senate, discussing the possibility of running for president:

I am a believer in knowing what you’re doing when you apply for a job. And I think that if I were to seriously consider running on a national ticket, I would essentially have to start now, before having served a day in the Senate. Now there are some people who might be comfortable doing that, but I am not one of those people.

One possible tagline: "Don't take our word for it. Take his."

(...or should that be His?)

--Shack

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"How can we lose to these racists?"

Around this time in 2004, Charles Krauthammer penned a brilliant column comparing the panicking Democratic Party to temperamental chess genius Aaron Nimzowitsch:

Upon losing a game at the 1925 Baden-Baden tournament, Aaron Nimzowitsch, the great chess theoretician and a superb player, knocked the pieces off the board, jumped on the table and screamed, "How can I lose to this idiot?"

Nimzowitsch may have lived decades ago in Denmark, but he had the soul of a modern American Democrat. After all, Democrats have been saying much the same — with similar body language — ever since the erudite Adlai Stevenson lost to the syntactically challenged Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. They said it again when they lost to that supposed simpleton Ronald Reagan. Twice, would you believe? With George W. Bush, they are at it again, and equally apoplectic.

Actually, this time around, even more apoplectic. The Democrats' current disdain for George Bush reminds me of another chess master, Efim Bogoljubov, who once said, "When I am White, I win because I am White" — White moves first and therefore has a distinct advantage — "when I am Black, I win because I am Bogoljubov." John Kerry is a man of similar vanity — intellectual and moral — and that spirit thoroughly permeates the Democratic Party.

Democrats feel a mixture of horror and contempt for the huddled masses — so bovine, so benighted, so besotted with talk radio — who made a king of an empty-headed movie star (Reagan, long before Arnold) and inexplicably want the Republicans' current nitwit leader to have a second term.


(Read the whole column, when you have the time--it's a classic.)

Don't look now, but it's happening again. Slate editor Jacob Weisberg writes:

What with the Bush legacy of reckless war and economic mismanagement, 2008 is a year that favors the generic Democratic candidate over the generic Republican one. Yet Barack Obama, with every natural and structural advantage in the presidential race, is running only neck-and-neck against John McCain, a sub-par Republican nominee with a list of liabilities longer than a Joe Biden monologue. Obama has built a crack political operation, raised record sums, and inspired millions with his eloquence and vision. McCain has struggled with a fractious campaign team, lacks clarity and discipline, and remains a stranger to charisma. Yet at the moment, the two of them appear to be tied. What gives?

What gives, indeed? If you need a hint, here's the title of Weisberg's piece: Racism is the only reason Obama might lose

Yep, they're panicking.

--Shack

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Next Wright?

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the credited source of the title of Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope, proved to be such an embarrassment that Obama was eventually forced to disavow him.

The likely source of Obama's most (in-?)famous campaign line is apparently such an embarrassment that he never even avowed her in the first place.

Over at Human Events, Fred Eckert has the lowdown on Alice Walker, author of the 2006 essay collection We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For. As you might expect, she's an Obama supporter:

Obama is, she proclaims, “not perfect but humanly stunning…We look at him…and are glad to be of our species.”

However, her enthusiasm for left-type leaders doesn't stop at Obama. She's nearly as enthused about a certain individual roughly 90 miles south of Florida:

Others of our species that she goes gaga over include Fidel Castro: "What's not to like about the man?” she asks. “If Fidel could dance, he'd be perfect!"

A little closer to home, we find another of Walker's favorite people:

A segment of our species Walker seems to be especially fond of is convicted cop killers. She has more than once visited in prison one of America’s best-known cop killers, Mumia Abu-Jamal, a cause celeb of the far Left. He’s “a beautiful person” and “compassionate,” she tells us, “he has a lot of light.” Besides, she has a feeling that what he was actually doing at the scene where the police officer was murdered was just “trying to help.”

The bullet extracted from the dead officer’s brain matched the five spent shells that were in the gun registered to her beautiful person/compassionate friend -- the gun he had with him at the scene, the gun he attempted to keep away from police arriving at the scene of the murder, the gun that fit into the holster he was wearing. And there was a return bullet from the police officer’s gun in his chest.

So what if a jury convicted him, so what if five eyewitnesses implicated him, so what if he subsequently screamed, “If you let me go, I’ll kill all of you cops.” So what if even the likes of Michael Moore has pronounced him guilty as charged? To the nuttiest of the Loony Left -- which includes this woman from whom Obama gets his rallying call -- this cop killer is their kind of guy.

And what overview of an Obama supporter would be complete without taking a look at her ideas of how to fix what's wrong in the world's hot spots?

Walker’s advice on how we need to deal with Osama bin Laden: 1) We need to “remind him of all the good, nonviolent things he has done,” and 2) we need to convince him to understand “the preciousness of the lives” of the people he’s killed. Of course, in the matter of preciousness of life, she is pro-abortion and has had one.

She doesn’t like religions, especially the Catholic Church. And she says the real problem in the Middle East is the Jews.

Of course, if Obama could claim that he had no knowledge of Wright's more extreme rantings--in spite of sitting in the pews every Sunday for two decades--and get away with it, it shouldn't be too hard for him to disclaim any knowledge of Walker, as well.

After all--he's already appropriated her title, and to all appearances, he never even admitted he got it from her in the first place.

He doesn't need her anymore.

--Shack

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The "Left Behind" Code

You can't make this stuff up.

Time's Amy Sullivan reports that Democrats are worried that John McCain's ad "The One" invokes the language and imagery of the Left Behind series of novels--and, taking the whole thing a step further, thus invites parallels between Barack Obama and Left Behind's Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia.

To what end? Apparently, stoking Evangelical opposition to Obama's campaign:

Even if a fraction of the Internet-using public engages in outrageous Antichrist speculation, feeding those extreme beliefs wouldn't seem to be an obvious political strategy. But McCain advisers are aware that one of the goals of Democratic outreach to Evangelicals has been to simply neutralize their opposition. "You just have to take the edge off," says Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer, explaining why he spent much of a 2006 meeting with conservative pastors around his state. "Now that they've met me, they can see I don't have two horns and a tail."

A new TIME poll finds that the most conservative Evangelicals are the least enthusiastic about McCain's candidacy. Convincing them that Obama does have two horns and a tail might be the best way of getting them to vote. That's what worries Campolo, who also sits on the Democratic Party's platform committee. "Those books have created a subliminal language, and I think judgments will be made unconsciously about Barack Obama," he says. "It scares the daylights out of me."


Those diabolical Republicans! Those Manipulative Bastards!

Of course, pointing out Obama's pro-infanticide history with the Illinois equivalent of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act will do far more to put two horns and a tail on The One.

One (though not The One) hopes that McCain is merely waiting until after the Olympics to finally start going after Obama on that point.

--Shack

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Zucker is coming

The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes reports that David Zucker, of Airplane! and Naked Gun fame (and, more recently, a certain skewering of the Iraq Study Group) has a new film coming out this fall.

The movie, a satirical look at the War on Terror titled An American Carol, thoroughly skewers the left wing:

The war on terror, of course, does not lend itself to hilarity. But Zucker knows comedy and has spent nearly four decades making people laugh. With his friend Lewis Friedman, a comedy writer, Zucker went looking for the absurd in the political left and found an abundance of material.

Zucker and Friedman poked fun of the know-nothing culture of antiwar protests. During a rally at Columbia University, students chant: "Peace Now, We Don't Care How!" Some of their protest signs are ones you'd find at any antiwar rally. Some are not. "9/11 Was an Inside Job," "Kick Army Recruiters Off Campus!" "End Violence--War Is Not the Answer!" "End Disease--Medicine Is Not the Answer!" "It's Too Dark Outside, The Sun Is Not the Answer!" "Overpopulation--Gay Marriage Is the Answer!"

Other claims were so absurd they didn't require exaggeration. "We really didn't have to do a lot of stretching," says Zucker.

When he heard Rosie O'Donnell claim that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have a separation of church and state," he knew he had several minutes of material.

In the film, a rotund comedian named Rosie O'Connell makes an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor to promote her documentary, The Truth About Radical Christians. O'Reilly shows a clip, which opens with a pair of priests walking through an airport--as seen from pre-hijacking surveillance video--before boarding the airplane. Once onboard, they storm the cockpit using crucifixes as their weapon of choice. Next the documentary looks at the growing phenomenon of nuns as suicide bombers, seeking 72 virgins in heaven. A dramatization shows two nuns, strapped with explosives, board a bus to the cries of the other passengers. "Oh, no! Not the Christians!" O'Connell's work ends with a warning about new threats and the particular menace of the "Episcopal suppository bomber."


The film is scheduled for release on October 3--right at the peak of the presidential campaign.

Here's hoping Zucker has better luck, politically speaking, than Michael Moore (whose pseudo-doppelganger, incidentally, is the protagonist of An American Carol) did with Farenheit 9/11 in 2004.

--Shack

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Once again, the hard truths

These things keep getting pointed out--and pointed out--by people who believe in global warming, no less--and they keep getting ignored in favor of lurid fantasies of Nuremberg trials for "deniers."

The latest to speak the truths that really are inconvenient is Samuel Thernstrom:

Here is a simple truth that everyone who actually cares about climate change should understand: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions costs money. Reducing them a lot will cost a lot of money. Drastically reducing them very quickly will cost vast amounts of money. And, no matter what we do, cutting them enough to stop warming without the cooperation of major developing economies such as China and India will be impossible. These facts do not mean that we should do nothing to cut emissions, by any means--but understanding these inconvenient truths must be the first step towards crafting a realistic climate policy.

...

It is relatively easy to make very modest reductions in emissions; in the short term, it is virtually impossible to cut them deeply enough and quickly enough to actually stop warming. We can save money and cut emissions by picking the low-hanging fruit--taking advantage of opportunities to eliminate waste and conserve energy. That is happening, and it will continue. But when that's done, we will still need to climb the biggest tree imaginable and pick it clean if we want to curtail warming--and that is not going to be an economical proposition in the immediate future, no matter what Gore tells you. No government policy could make it so.

...

Gore promises that switching to renewable energy sources will save us from high energy prices--conveniently ignoring that renewables cost more than the high-carbon content fuels that Gore wants to eliminate. You don't make energy cheaper by eliminating the most abundant and affordable sources of it. It is not possible to cut the cost of energy by shutting down every power plant in the country that runs on the cheapest, most abundant, domestically available fuel--coal (which generates 49 percent of our electric power)--as well as the second largest source of the same, natural gas (20 percent). Prematurely retiring more than $500 billion worth of energy infrastructure is not the key to renewed economic growth, to say the least. It couldn't be done, but if it were attempted, it would cause economic ruin. If America thinks that this is really what climate policy demands--and what it promises--it may well decide it prefers the Bush approach after all. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what happened the last time that Gore controlled climate policy.

...

If we are to have any hope at all of crafting sensible climate policy in the coming years, we must at least learn from our worst mistakes, and have a healthy respect for the risks that poor policy may entail. An important new book from one of the nation's foremost environmental economists, William Nordhaus, makes this abundantly clear. If we do nothing to halt it, global warming is likely to cause $23 trillion in damages by the end of the century. Sound policies to address it would be highly beneficial--generating as much as $3 trillion in net benefits--but poorly designed climate policies could be nearly as damaging as warming itself. Gore's proposal to cut U.S. emissions by 90 percent by 2050, Nordhaus calculates, would have a net social cost of $21 trillion--the equivalent of taking $63,000 from every person in America. The danger that climate change poses is twofold, therefore: the risk of environmental damage, and the risk of economic disaster arising from poorly designed climate policies.

Pay particular attention to those highlighted lines in the last paragraph. Gore's proposal would do nearly as much economic damage as doing nothing, in half the time (and those are damages just in the US--one can assume comparable, albeit lesser, costs elsewhere--whereas the costs of global warming above are presumably spread worldwide).

I am largely agnostic on the global warming issue (though leaning more towards the deniers in recent weeks, based on new evidence). However, I have always been of the position that anything we do about global warming must be informed by whether and how effective it would be, relative to its costs.

Token penances like carbon credits are worse than useless; they're not even being offered to someone who could really do something about the problem--instead, they merely divert attention and resources from actual solutions.

If we're going to do this, it must be done right. Doing it wrong would be just as bad as doing nothing at all...if not worse.

--Shack

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oh, brother.

I'm usually not one for the Dr. Sanity style of blogging, which examines the positions of the left and then diagnoses them as manifestations of various psychological disorders.

However, in looking at Stuart Carlson's editorial cartoon in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the thought is pretty much unavoidable:

Projection much?

--Shack

Saturday, July 19, 2008

There goes the greenhouse effect.

Writing in The Australian, David Evans lays out a particularly devastating piece of evidence against the very core of the theory of man-made global warming:

The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.

Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever.

If there is no hot spot then an increased greenhouse effect is not the cause of global warming. So we know for sure that carbon emissions are not a significant cause of the global warming.

Which, in turn, suggests that recent global warming originated in nature, rather than in our activities...and that any reductions in carbon emissions we make--no matter how drastic--will not have a significant effect on global temperatures.

--Shack

Friday, July 18, 2008

Well, that settles that.

Over at the Politico, Bruce Bartlett, in attempting to argue that there isn't much difference for conservatives between a McCain presidency and an Obama presidency, delivers possibly the single most unwittingly counterproductive statement of this entire election season thus far:

As far as Obama is concerned, he will undoubtedly nominate justices who are more liberal than those McCain would nominate. But he will be constrained by the same filibuster threat in the Senate that stymied Reagan and Bush 43. Although Republicans controlled the Senate during much of those presidencies, Democrats had great success in defeating their nominees to the court when they were viewed as too conservative. Republicans can do the same thing, arguing that Obama’s nominees are too liberal, forcing him to appoint moderates in the mold of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

I think we can all agree that pretty well sums up the case for John McCain on judges.

--Shack

Sunday, July 06, 2008

An opening for McCain

The Emperor has made a critical error, and the time for our attack has come. Our Bothan spies have...

...er, sorry, wrong script. Right sentiment, though.

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann report that Barack Obama's first national ad of the campaign includes a whopper of Burger King proportions:

The Obama ad, which introduces him as someone who worked his way through college, fights for American jobs, and battles for health care also seeks to move him to the center by taking credit for welfare reform in Illinois which, the ad proclaims, reduced the rolls by 80%.

But there's one problem - Obama opposed the 1996 welfare reform act at the time. The Illinois law for which he takes credit, was merely the local implementing law the state was required to pass, and it did, almost unanimously. Obama's implication -- that he backed "moving people from welfare to work" -- is just not true.

With Obama running the ad in all the swing states (Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia), this gross usurpation of credit affords the McCain campaign an incredible opportunity for rebuttal.

...

[I]f McCain calls him on his distortion, he can do grave damage to Obama on three fronts: credibility, centrism, and experience. By catching Obama in a lie, he can undermine the effectiveness of any subsequent ads the Democrat runs. By showing that he opposed welfare reform, McCain can do much to force Obama back to the left and cast doubt on his efforts to move to the middle. And by emphasizing Obama's limited experience, he can strike at a soft spot --- made softer by Hillary's attacks in the primary.


Pay particular attention to the bolded line. Obama's massive fund-raising advantage stands second only to McCain's affiliation with the Republican Party as trump cards for the Democrats this election.

If McCain can blunt that advantage, even a little, so early into the campaign, it can only be of help to him.

--Shack

Sunday, June 22, 2008

McCain to hammer Obama on Born Alive

It's about time.

In coming weeks, John McCain is planning to confront Barack Obama on three issues dear to conservatives’ hearts.

...

Third is Obama’s vote in 2002 as an Illinois state senator against a bill to define as a “person” a fully born baby who survived an abortion. The bill was intended to make it clear that if an abortion were botched, an infant born alive would not be killed and would receive medical care. Twice, Obama voted against various versions of the bill and twice voted “present.” The Illinois bill did not pass.

The legislation was similar to the federal Born-Alive Infants Act, which even Hillary Clinton supported in 2001. Leading abortion rights groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, said they would not oppose the federal legislation.

Only 15 members of the U.S. House opposed the bill, and it passed the Senate unanimously on a voice vote. President Bush signed that bill into law in August 2002.

...

The coming major attacks on Obama over substantive issues will be by McCain himself. He will paint Obama as having extremist positions or as being out of touch with the fact that we live in a dangerous world. The attack on Obama’s born-alive abortion position could come later in the summer, a McCain aide said.


You've heard of "more Catholic than the Pope." Barack Obama is more pro-choice than NARAL--which is, if anything, even harder to fathom, let alone accomplish.

Obama is likely to respond to this attack in the same manner as he has pretty much every other criticism thus far--by dismissing it as an example of the "old" and "divisive" politics we are all called upon to transcend as we follow the Promised One into Nirvana.

It remains to be seen whether he'll get away with that, or whether Born Alive will turn into another Reverend Wright.

--Shack

(H/T: Jill Stanek, via Death Roe)