31 May 2011

The way to avoid a "charade," according to Steny Hoyer, is to vote the opposite of what you think is right.

From TheHill.com:

"My advice to them would be not to play this political charade," Hoyer said at his weekly press briefing.

The way to avoid a "charade," according to Hoyer, is to vote the opposite of what you think is right.

You see, 114 Democrats are already on record saying that they support a "clean" debt limit hike. The party is also on record demanding a vote on this.

Now that the vote is scheduled, they have decided it would be hypocritical to do what they have said they would do, and what they believe is best for the country. Doing the opposite would be the highest sign of political integrity.

If this makes sense to you, congratulations. You're a Democrat.

26 May 2011

Obama is just like Reagan? If only...

Geraghty points to this account of Tony Blair's that Obama's latest initiative on the Middle East was prompted by Obama's fear of a UN resolution in favor of Palestinian statehood. If true, this confirms (again) the opinion many of us have had of Obama since 2008: he is not only a left-wing radical, still steeped in the economics of a 1930s Democrat and the foreign policy outlook of a 1980s campus radical, but he remains (mentally) on his 1980s campus, immune to the realities of the world around him, and still more concerned that his ideology meet with his peers' approval than whether that ideology is, in fact, correct.

This naiveté, combined with his suffocating level of self-regard, goes a long way towards explaining Obama's incompetence. It would be funny if it were not so dangerous.

But here come Obama and Cameron, likening themselves, in a Times of London op-ed, to Reagan and Thatcher, and the "Arab Spring" to the Cold war.

Yeah, you're just like Reagan in the Cold War. That is, if Reagan had told the Pope to back off on his support for Solidarity in Poland, capitulated at Reykjavík, and beseeched Gorbachev to "shore up this wall!"

Republican candidates are good messengers, but do they have the right message?

Jay Cost presents a pretty solid case that the Republican field already is very strong, but I'm not quite convinced, and it has less to do with the character or records of the candidates than with the messages they are running with.

Don't get me wrong. I believe that Democrats who are still telling themselves that Obama is unbeatable are either delusional, or just whistling past the graveyard. Any basically competent Republican will, at a minimum, make this a real race.

What concerns me is the whole "this won't be easy" message. Pawlenty, in particular, seems to want to make "suck it up, kids" his central theme; to make green-eyeshade scolding the mark of true leadership. That sounds to me a lot like Walter Mondale's 1984 message ("He won't tell you that. I just did.") Maybe it's a Minnesota thing. I just don't think that people get enthused by messages like that - even in the current political climate where most people basically agree with the fiscal assessment.

In other words, the message can't be "we can beat this thing if we all sacrifice." It needs to be more along the lines of "we have to unleash the people from an over-reaching government that has grown far too large under Barack Obama."

It might seem like a subtle difference, but it isn't. "Telling hard truths" is a loser message. The people know budgets have to be cut. We need to talk about the great results we will get from that - and the great result is not that the budget will be balanced. No matter how much people agree on the importance of a balanced budget, that's not, and shouldn't be, the highest goal. Nobody votes for a President to balance the budget. That is just a steppingstone - a means to an end.

And the end is that America will be stronger, freer and more prosperous.

This argument has two added benefits. First, it makes the balanced budget simply one of the assumptions; a given. It's not our goal in itself, but it is a necessary step towards what we all agree upon. Therefore (second benefit,) anybody who stands in the way of balancing the budget is against America's strength, freedom and prosperity.

What the hell happens on campus? And why does it cost so much?

What the hell happens on campus? (The Homa Files)

"If increasingly students don’t study, teachers don’t teach, and college employees aren’t primarily concerned with either, it raises the question of what the hell happens on campus."

Homa comments on some eye-opening figures cited in Rich Lowry's column from last Friday over at RCP. One stat that he highlights is this: the mean individual college debt burden on $23,000 is 8% higher than it was just last year. It would seem that the younger set, which strongly supported Obama's election three years ago, shares his fiscal discipline. Unfortunately for them (and all of us,) they will soon find out the hard way that Obama's policies are not likely to create the kind of career opportunities they are going to need to pay off all of that debt.

19 May 2011

Newtmandias: a Gingrich lament in sonnet form

Inspired by Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler's epic statement to the Huffington Post the other day, allow me to submit an even more ambitious version, in sonnet form:

The literati bade their minions to
Respond to weakness seen on Meet the Press
To smite disruptive outsiders like Newt
(Not spilling drinks upon their cocktail best)
Attacking what they did not understand
Establishing new Twitter memes and lore
Anon they slung distortions at the man
'Til smoke and dust of falsehoods swept him o'er
Emerges now Colossus from the dust
With sword unsheathed he is not eas'ly downed
"For love of country!" cries he as he thrusts,
"I'm frankly fundamentally renowned!"
Energized, now cries he from his chair,
"Look on my works, Tea Party, and despair!"

04 May 2011

Bin Laden is dead. Party on, Garth?

There are three parts to my delayed reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden by Seal Team 6 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and here is Part the First:

As I watched the reaction to the killing on television Sunday night, I couldn't help but become very uncomfortable with the impromptu rallies - both for their nominal motivation (cheering the death,) as well as their apparent motivation (Obama re-election rallies.)

As to the second motivation, I don't think I am reading too much into the rallies. I saw Obama signs being waved, and picked up numerous Twitter and Facebook comments along the lines of "whatcha got now, Republicans?!" Whether or not this event boosts Obama's political fortunes all that much is the subject of Part the Third; suffice it here to say, if this is your immediate reaction to the killing of bin Laden, you have a very narrow and unhealthy outlook.

I know it has become almost trite to bemoan our nation's lost moral compass, but what concerns me more than the political angle was just the general party atmosphere around the killing.

Last night, O'Reilly had a guest, a priest who had expressed disapproval of these rallies. As usual, the host mis-stated his guest's argument, and shouted him down. I am with the priest. As he said (if you could hear him beneath O'Reilly's idiotic ranting,) bin Laden may well be "better off dead," but that "necessary evil" is not cause for celebration, but for quiet reflection.

O'Reilly, as have others, compared the celebrations to the outbursts on V-E and V-J Days following victories in the Second World War. But those were not celebrations of any particular death. Rather, they were celebrations of an end to all the killings of that awful war; a nationwide homecoming celebration.

If we want to grant a benefit of the doubt to the partiers, it may be that they are all dumb enough to think that bin Laden's death really is the end of the "War on Terror;" that our decade-long battle was against only one man; that bin Laden was some sort of head of state, and his state will now crumble. Given that most of them appeared young enough to have been pre-teens on 9/11, who knows what forms their worldviews?

If you've been on a plane yet this week, you already know that the TSA still stands vigilant against shampoo, groping the elderly and lame in the name of ... well, in the name of something. Our Armed Forces still patrol Afghanistan and Iraq. Precious little has changed, and this war, when (if?) it ends, will end not with a bang, but a whimper.

Osama bin Laden is better off dead, the world is better off without him, and I do not mourn his loss. I am grateful for the men who carried out the mission, and grateful for their success.

So is it only because I am not of the video-game generation, that when his brains splattered the wall behind him, it just didn't seem like the right time to crack open the champagne and howl at the moon?