15 December 2012

No, your simple fix would not have prevented it from happening

The moment a terrible event happens, the floodgates of idiots who think they know the one thing that could have prevented it is opened. Here are a few of yesterday's instant comments (unattributed, but real,) along with a few responses:

Forget guns. Is there any controversy that mental health care should be cheaply and readily available to all without stigma?

Thanks for not talking about guns, but what does the rest of that even mean? We don't know anything about the shooter - was he already in some kind of treatment? How often have we seen previous shooters who were either in treatment, or had refused it? One of the marks of psychopathy is that the psychopath doesn't know there is anything wrong with him. What you really would need is an easier ability to: a) involuntarily commit people; and b) some way to know which ones are crazy and which ones are dangerous. Call the Department of Precrime.

The schools need armed guards, preferably outside and visible!
Is that a school you'd send your kids to? Really? This school was already on permanent lockdown and legally declared a "gun-free zone." You just want to wrap layers and layers of armor and metal detectors around the schools, and layers and layers of kevlar and bubble-wrap around the children.

The what about their busses? Little League games? Parks and playgrounds? What kind of society will we be if we actually try to prevent all bad things from happening anyplace?

In the end, none of those measures will work, because, like the TSA, we will always be fighting the last battle, making nobody safer but everybody less free. The psychopath will never be foiled by measures that would've blocked the previous lunatic. The psychopath lives in the present, and finds the targets that still exist.

So stop it. Live your lives.

The only law proven to reduce mass shootings is concealed carry.

There is something to this, but the fact is that it's not really the law that stops the mass shootings. Unless you want to mandate concealed carry, you need a person in the area who actually has a gun.

For individual self-defense (and defense of others) to be both possible and effective you really need two things:

  1. A moral and courageous populace, willing to defend the weak and to fight evil, even at personal risk.
  2. Freedom.
The more "safeguards" we try to put in place to "prevent tragedies like this," I fear, the less we will have of both of those things.

07 December 2012

If the fiscal cliff is so terrible, then both parties shouldn't have agreed on it last year. But they did.

The staggering unseriousness of everybody in Washington about the real scale of our nation's debt crisis is difficult to comprehend.

Today, Speaker Boehner tells us that the President is planning to "slow walk our economy to the edge of the "fiscal cliff."

I understand that fingerpointing is part of politics, but let's step back a moment here. If the actual problem, the actual threat to the economy, is the "fiscal cliff," then we already know who is at fault: all of them, Boehner included.

All this posturing and negotiating and scrambling about to find a compromise to avert the fiscal cliff is worse than dishonest. Let me be very clear here:

The "fiscal cliff" is the compromise. It is the deal.

It has been just a little bit more than a year since Congress (both parties) and the White House agreed on the "fiscal cliff" as a short-term solution. If that was intentionally designed to be calamitous, they should all be impeached.

Unfortunately, that's just how it works. Nobody is serious. Is the fiscal cliff calamitous? All things considered, not a bit. It's chock full of things for everybody to hate, but that deal is not what's driving our nation's finances into - or out of - the ditch. It's just a symptom of the immaturity and shortsightedness of our elected leaders.

04 December 2012

Explaining the Fiscal Cliff crisis...

Here is a helpful analogy so that you can better understand this "Fiscal Cliff" crisis that is looming in Washington.

Imagine your house is engulfed in flames. You are in the kitchen, making potato salad. But you are about to run out of mayonnaise.

The mayonnaise shortage is the Fiscal Cliff.

The problem is not that Congress will fail to address the Fiscal Cliff. The problem is that they will.

01 October 2012

Debate prep: Zingers for Mitt (free of charge)

(Obama refers to mess he inherited...)

I am so tired of hearing about the "mess you inherited." I am much more concerned about the mess the next guy is going to inherit.

Look, things may have been bad in 2008, but right now, everything is worse. Borrowing nearly a trillion dollars from our grandchildren didn't make things better. Now, President Obama may have thought it was funny that the jobs weren't "shovel ready" but millions of Americans aren't laughing.

In private business, I picked companies to invest in that made money for my company. But presidents can't fix the economy by picking winners and loser - that's just crony capitalism, like Solyndra. They can fix it by getting government out of the way of the American people.

We know what Obama stands for: bigger, bossier, more expensive government. It doesn't work.

(Obama refers to Republican obstruction...)

You know, the only bipartisan votes in Obama's term have been votes against his ideas.

It's one thing to say you want to work with the other party, but it's a very different thing to actually do it. My running mate Paul Ryan has proposed serious solutions for our nation's fiscal crisis. His ideas have been debated, voted on and passed in the House of Representatives. By contrast, Mr. Obama has submitted three budgets that have been unanimously rejected by members of both parties. Obamacare barely passed, and only the vote against it was bipartisan.

You simply can't be so disconnected from the members of both parties in Congress without being totally out of touch with the American people.

Now, we live in a representative republic, so sometimes elected leaders will have more information than the voters, but in those cases, it's incumbent on us to make the case and to persuade the voters. SInce Obamacare passed, over the objections of a majority of Americans, 107 polls have been taken, and 106 of them show majorities in favor of repeal.

Obama's policies are totally out of step with the American people. They are bankrupting the country and stealing from our grandchildren. Enough with the fingerpointing. As much as democrats try to avoid talking about it, we are 17 trillion dollars in debt with nothing to show for it.

(Something about Mitt's taxes...)

My taxes? Eight percent unemployment, 17 trillion in debt, four dollar gas and the middle east in flames, and that's what he wants to talk about? These are serious times, and we need a serious President. My taxes? That's birther talk.

12 September 2012

A simple and obvious solution to the Chicago teachers strike

As we all know by now, the Chicago Teachers Union has gone on strike. Among the many articles I've seen, this tidbit really jumped out at me:

On Monday, 25,000 Chicago teachers (average salary: $76,000 before benefits) walked out of their classrooms, leaving nearly 350,000 schoolchildren and their parents in the lurch. 
I know what you're thinking - that's a lot of money. What I noticed, though, was that apparently Chicago has one teacher for every 14 kids. Wow - small class sizes, right?

Not so fast.

At least as late as November 2011, Chicago Schools reported class sizes were around 25, on average, with much higher class sizes reported in schools with poor and minority populations.

In case your math is a little rusty, let me help you out: to staff up classes of 25 for a student population of 350,000, you'd need 14,000 teachers.

Yet there are 25,000 out on strike. Which leads to the obvious question: what exactly do the extra 11,000 do when they are not on strike?

Then again, this suggests an easy resolution, as well. Fire 11,000 teachers and raise the pay of the remaining ones to $135,000. There will be no change in the total salary budget, after all, and it would be a great opportunity to cut out the worst teachers. Win-win!

And wouldn't that be best for the children?

09 September 2012

There's no other word for it - as Clint told us, it's "shameful"

This was a pretty good op-ed by Mort Zuckerman today. The passage below, following the statistics about 45 million on Food Stamps and 11 million on SSDI, really jumped out at me:

"These dependent millions are the invisible counterparts of the soup kitchens and bread lines of the 1930s, invisible because they get their checks in the mail. But it doesn't take away from the fact that millions of people who had good private-sector jobs now have to rely on welfare for life support."

He also points out that employment among those 55 and older is up. I have read elsewhere that under Obama, labor force participation is down for every group except those over 65. Presumably this is because people can't afford to retire any more.

As a result, Zuckerman points out (and I had not read this elsewhere) the US birth rate is falling and is at a 25 year low.

Well, I've said it before, but if we take the Richard Nixon view that every President ultimately gets just one line in the history books, Obama's is already etched in stone:

"Obama made everything worse."

06 September 2012

Obama answers some important questions - with some head-scratching answers

Obama answered a lot of questions tonight. By stating that Joe Biden was "the best Vice President (he) could have hoped for" he explained what all that "hope" talk was really about back in 2008.

I do not think that word means what he thinks it means. And it definitely doesn't mean what all those people who voted for him four years ago thought.

But hope was only half his 2008 platform. He also explained that we "are the change." Just in case you thought it was him. It wasn't.

I have to be honest, that reveal was more disappointing than the LOST finale.

Hope is Joe Biden, and change is you.

Well, at least he laid out his plan for reducing the national debt. He is going to cut military spending, and pay down the debt by spending those dollars on roads and bridges.

As for Biden, I honestly thought he was about to have an aneurysm, and it was a little distracting.

I think that between the two of them, they were trying to lay out a vision, but I am still not sure what it was. They are not going to give up on us. Who is? Who is betting against the American people? They are the party who thinks you can't take care of yourself. They think you were tricked into signing a mortgage.

They think the auto bailout was a good thing. Most Americans disagree.

But one thing was consistent from the first speaker this week to the last - they are really for abortion and gay marriage.

Dems boo God and Israel

Clinton failed to connect even with his fans in the hall, but no problem for Obama - America was watching football

I need to give a more detailed review of Bill Clinton.

He gave a terrible speech. It was confused, confusing, wonkish and silly.

I follow this stuff, and I had trouble following him.

The crowd had trouble knowing when to cheer. It was hard to understand how his arguments led to endorsing Obama. He stepped on his own applause.

He wasn't funny. He wasn't engaging. He even lost, for extended stretches, the crowd in the hall that was predisposed to love him. He was rambling, confused and silly.

Fortunately for Obama, America was watching football. But I wish they'd been watching Clinton.

Hidin' Biden! Clinton 2012 at the DNC much like Reagan 1992 at the RNC - the crowd loved him, but he couldn't save the incumbent.

What planet to Democrats live on? Watching Cecile Richards (among others) talk about Republicans trying to "end access to birth control" I can't think of a good response. It is so insanely untethered from reality it is isn't even funny. It's sad.

I am curious to know whether they think they need to stop insurance companies from charging men more than women for the same auto insurance coverage.

Not to dwell too long on the insanity, but I just want to point out that being a woman is, in fact, a pre-existing condition. On the other hand, pregnancy is not a disease, and neither abortion nor birth control are "health care."

On to prime time...

It's hard to understand the crackpot choices Democrats made for prime time. It began with the 30-year-old law student Sandra Fluke. She is, first of all, a terrible orator. But ultimately, a speaker cannot really transcend the message.

But more generally, why do Democrats always see such a dystopian society around them?

The theme continued through both the Costco guy and Elizabeth Warren. America is a dark place where the "game is rigged against you."

So often I hear conservatives warning Republicans against being too negative about their opponents, but never have I heard a Republican so negative in outlook about the world around them as every single speaker at the DNC. They want to re-elect the guy who is president of a country where people are "hanging on by their fingernails?"

I have to give Warren credit for one thing. SHe said "corporations aren't people." True. that's why corporations don't pay taxes. Only people pay taxes. Corporations collect them. Only Elizabeth Warren doesn't understand that.

My bottom line about this convention so far is that it reminds me a lot of the Republican convention of 1992. There was a lot to like for the Republican faithful in that convention, but it was angry and quite out of step with what the country was thinking about at the time.

Which brings us to Bill Clinton. In 1992, Ronald Reagan gave his final major speech. He rocked. The crowd loved him. And he served mostly to remind the attendees of how far they had fallen since his tenure.

Let's be clear: Clinton is a terrible person. But conservatives have never given him enough credit for doing almost nothing during his time in office. It was the best thing he could have done.

Sure, his neglect of foreign policy led rather directly to 9/11. But he pretty much rubber-stamped most of the Republican Congress' agenda.

I found his angle on how nice and good Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan and both Bushes were to be a bit curious. Especially the praise for George W. Bush. For an Obama campaign that seeks to continue to blame Bush for everything, this did not strike me as a helpful message for Obama.

He went on about how important it is to work with Republicans. How does that help Obama? He has hardly been a conciliatory and compromising figure. I have to be honest - this struck me as a fairly backhanded endorsement.

On a personal note, I know that Bill Clinton is 66 years old, but his feeble and weak presentation surprised even me. He is the same age as George W. Bush and only one year older than Mitt Romney, but seems much older than both. I think he is not a healthy man.

It is not surprising that I was unmoved by his message, but could his speech sway some votes? Not among football fans, who all were watching the Dallas Cowboys defeat the New York Giants in the NFL's season opener.

05 September 2012

DNC day two review

Okay, I watched the Cowboys beat the Giants instead fo watching the Democrats. So what did I miss? How was Biden's keynote? I bet he was really on his "A Game" after Ryan's star turn last week. That guy showed why he is holding the #2 spot ont eh Democrat ticket, right?

What? No?

It was Bill Clinton? The rapist who once held the office of President?

Why are they Hidin' Biden?

On to my DVR and a real review of the convention...

04 September 2012

Tonight message: "My parents worked hard to ensure my success, but you clearly can't do that without Barack's help"

What really struck me during the Democrats' first night of primetime speakers is how often they scorned and mocked the very idea of people working towards their own success, and yet, at the very same time, they related personal stories about doing just that.

Julian Castro told us about how hard his mom worked. Michelle Obama told us that her father paying every penny of the "small part" of her college costs was his measure of his own manhood.

Both seem genuinely inspired by their parents - and scornful of the veyr notion that you might want to do the same for your kids, rather than consign them to the beneficence of the sun-god Barack, and the government to which we all belong.

Student loans were a big talking point tonight, although it is not clear to me what exactly they are proposing. As Michelle Obama pointed out, she and her husband made it through Columbia, Princeton, and Harvard Law (both of them) in the dark ages before Obama made college affordable to all.

If the poor, working-class Obamas could go to some of the most expensive schools in the country thirty years ago, exactly who can't go today?

I'm sure the AP fact-checkers will score them down for not commenting on how government subsidies have driven college tuition upwards faster than inflation, faster even than health care over the last thirty years.

I'm sure they'll jump all over Michelle's "so young, so in love, and so in debt" line, as well. They were in their 30s, both Harvard educated lawyers, and living in a multimillion dollar mansion in Hyde Park.

Because AP does that. Right?

01 September 2012

The Democrats' problem responding to Clint: they can't knock him on style or on substance

I should say up front that I thought Clint was great. Here's why his performance is so troublesome for Democrats.

Clint is not George Clooney. He's not some flavor of the week, or the "sexiest man," or a well-known Hollywood political activist.

Clint Eastwood is an legendary cultural figure both in America's heartland and in the Hollywood art community.

Every American can recite any number of Clint Eastwood movie one-liners. Indeed, those lines have been used by Presidential candidates for years. He put his stamp on the Hollywood Western with his iconic roles in Sergio Leone's trilogy, and in his own movies such as The Outlaw Joey Wales and Unforgiven. He also gave us Dirty Harry, a character who appealed to Americans fed up in the 1970s with increasing crime and soft-on-criminals politicians. He has been a familiar face in America's living rooms since starring in TV's Rawhide more than fifty years ago.

But Clint is also a two-time Oscar-winning director, a feat matched by only 17 others in the award's long history. He has been nominated as a director four times, is one of only eight people ever nominated for both acting and directing in the same movie. He won an AFI film award just last year.

Actors clamor to appear in his movies.

So the first problem Democrats will have in attacking Clint is that they can't define him. People know who Clint is already, and that image is not about to change. People like Clint. It is my fervent hope that Dems try to attack him, because attacking Clint Eastwood won't help Obama.

More importantly, there is this simple truth: it was a great performance. Clint is a multi-millionaire, and in this year of attacking the rich, it was awesome to see a guy like that, who is certainly quite insulated from ordinary people, so in tune with what we are all thinking about.

It was like talking to your neighbor - only your neighbor was Clint f***ing Eastwood.

And what did he say that was wrong? The 23 million unemployed should make us sad, and it is a national disgrace. We shouldn't vote for somebody because he seems like a nice guy, and when a person doesn't do the job, you do have to let him go.

And Joe Biden is a ridiculous buffoon.

So the Democrats really only have two problems responding to Clint. They can't knock him on style - because he's Clint Eastwood - and they can't knock him on substance - because he was right.

30 August 2012

Mitt's the one Reagan warned us about, and he loves women just as much as Joe Namath

I hope it's okay to say that Mitt's speech was not a stemwinder, and not all that memorable. I'm not sure it had to be. We heard all night that he's a really great guy, and we heard what a failure Obama is. I think all Romney needed to do was come across as a grown-up, and really, that's what he does best.

But let me tell you just a couple things that bothered me.

First, Mitt said: "My promise is to help you and your family."

Some years ago, Reagan said: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

Mitt, my family doesn't want your help. They want you - as the government - to leave us alone.

Second, this passage:

When my mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way.  I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, "why should women have any less say than men about the great decisions facing our nation?" 

Don't you wish she could have been here at this convention and heard leaders like Governor Mary Fallin, Governor Nikki Haley, Governor Susana Martinez, Senator Kelly Ayotte, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice? 

As governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman lieutenant governor, a woman chief of staff.  Half of my cabinet and senior officials were women.  And in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies.

I get it, okay? Message: Mitt loves women. Love-love-loves them. This is just over the top, and it kind of reminded me of Roger Staubach's 1975 interview with Phyllis George, where he assured her that he loved sex just as much as Joe Namath.

Hey, it was an okay speech, as these things go. I was a little disappointed that Kid Rock didn't show up to perform his song in person as Mitt took the stage. He would've been better than that Night Ranger guy or Taylor Hicks.

Taken as a whole, the convention did pump me up. If I have misgivings, they were not sown by anything that happened this week. They've been sown during the last four years, as America has chosen more wrong turns, and politicians have fallen below even my low expectations of them to an extent that was previously unimaginable.

Every election, if you follow these things, is "the most important of our lifetimes." This one defies hyperbole. It really is existential.

Do I trust Mitt Romney because he inspires me? Because he's a great leader, speaker, ideologue, politician? No.

I trust him because I have to. Because there is no other choice. Because I do believe in America, and if there was ever a time we needed a turnaround specialist, it's now. He'll do the right thing.

All the rest of it is nitpicking.

A picture-in-picture is worth 2000 words, Mitt. Duh.

Politician visits to disaster areas are always, always photo-ops and nothing more. As is so often the case, President Calvin Coolidge had it right when he declined to visit the victims of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, judging such a visit to be pure political grandstanding.

But in an election year, don't you need to do a little grandstanding?

Don't get me wrong, we all appreciate, as Ann Romney explained the other night, that Mitt sees helping others "as a privilege, not a political talking point."

Nevertheless, particularly in the wake of Katrina, and the ongoing hateful characterizations of Republicans as "uncaring," why would there be any debate whatsoever about whether Romney should visit the region ravaged by Hurricane Isaac? If it doesn't hurt rescue and clean-up efforts? If it maybe helps a few folks feel better? Why would he not do this? What's to consider?

I suspect Governors Jindal and Bryant would be glad to host. Might take two days, and it seems to me that sometime between September 4th and September 6th would be an ideal time to visit, so the cable channels have more than just Obama's "party" to report. They might even need to go split-screen.

A picture-in-picture is worth two thousand words.

Fact-Checking Ryan's shaky "playlist" claim

During his Wednesday night acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Congressman Paul Ryan (R, WI) claimed that his "playlist goes from AC/DC to Zeppelin." We find this claim questionable on three counts:

  • First, "Zeppelin" is actually "Led Zeppelin," which would go under "L" not "Z." It is possible Mr. Ryan does not know the band's full name, and fabricated his entire claim. In any case, it is unlikely that his playlist ends at "L."
  • Second, since Mr. Ryan has previously claimed to be a fan of "Rage Against the Machine," it is clear that his playlist does not end at "L." Unless, of course, the mendacious Mr. Ryan also fabricated his earlier claim.
  • Third, even if he manually truncated "Led"from the artist name in his iTunes library, it is clear that no fan of the two groups he named would not also listen to ZZ Top, which would follow "Zeppelin."

We therefore rate this "playlist" claim Three Pinocchios!

29 August 2012

Ryan: We don't have to settle for "a country where everything is free but us."

The slate of speakers on Day Two seemed stronger across the board, and there was little doubt that the attack dog had his day, capped off by a blistering indictment delivered by Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

Ryan seemed comfortable in this traditional role of the VP candidate, tearing Obama's insufferable and empty talk to pieces; shining a light on the failed policies of the past four years.

And he did it with ridicule.

I don't want to bore you with superlatives, because that's too easy. Ryan avoided the Mondale vibe ('hard truths") quite effectively. He talked about tough times, but connected them all to the incumbent.

I'm feeling better tonight, and it seemed like the crowd in Tampa was feeling it, too.

One passage worth repeating:

College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life. Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here and now. And I hope you understand this too, if you’re feeling left out or passed by: You have not failed, your leaders have failed you.
None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers – a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.
Listen to the way we’re spoken to already, as if everyone is stuck in some class or station in life, victims of circumstances beyond our control, with government there to help us cope with our fate.
It’s the exact opposite of everything I learned growing up in Wisconsin, or at college in Ohio. When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself. That’s what we do in this country. That’s the American Dream. That’s freedom, and I’ll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners.

RNC Day One review..am I the only one completely unimpressed with the headliners?

Well, Day One is in the books, so it's time to review. Actually, this was Virtual Day One, as Monday's festivities were cancelled. Presumably, Governor Christie had ordered Republicans to "get the hell off the beach" in advance of the Tampa hurricane that never materialized.

If you wanted to see all of the speeches, your only televised option was C-SPAN, but, at least on my cable, they have no HD feed. (I know, I know - "first world problems.") I saw some criticism that MSNBC did not show any of the minority speakers. I was watching on Fox and didn't see most of them, either. Who cares? Most Americans won't ever see most of any of this. One reason is that even those who try will be subjected to hour after hour of commentary that interests exactly nobody while the candidates and office-holders silently prowl the stage behind them, heard only by the party faithful present in the hall.

The party's standard-bearers have become, these days, merely a silent backdrop for the well-coiffed talking heads of cable TV.

But let's talk about the two headliners: Ann Romney and Chris Christie.

The candidate's wife was poised, attractive and convincing in her speech. Really, her speech had only one drawback: she is the candidate's wife. I'm not sure when this tradition started, to be honest with you, and I don't see what it adds. If his wife's endorsement is a surprise to you, or if you find it insightful to learn that she sees endearing, admirable and human qualities in her husband, then you are not just out of touch with politics, you are a little out of touch with reality. I guess that never stopped anybody from voting, though.

None of this is a criticism of the speech, per se, only of this silly tradition established over the last twenty years or so. We talk about how financial disclosure and gotcha politics scares off good people from seeking office - how many don't run because their wives simply don't want to be forced into a candidacy of their own?

The keynote was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and his speech was a pretty big disappointment to me (no, that's not a fat joke.) We talk about Romney's "well-oiled machine," his great organization - did nobody vet these speeches? There must have been 10,000 people on Twitter who immediately picked up on the contradiction in the opening lines of these two speeches: Ann Romney wanted to "talk about love," while Christie basically said "love is b*** s***."

Christie was quite enthusiastic, and it seemed the crowd enjoyed him, but his speech was not helpful to the cause - and not only because he barely mentioned Romney; not only because of how long he regaled us with stories of the New Jersey Miracle. I think the problem was a much more fundamental messaging problem.

"We'll tell you the hard truths" is dangerously close to "he won't tell you. I just did."

It didn't work for Mondale, and it won't work for Romney. Has it been that long since the "hope and change" theme we mocked won? Your top line has to be "we can do better," not "things are really crappy." People know that already. And when you don't even tie the crappiness to the incumbent (another failing of Christie's speech,) then why on earth would I "stand up" and "fight with you?" Against what? For what? Fight to tell everybody how crappy things are?

I admit I did not know exactly what to expect from Christie. I know him from the many very entertaining YouTube clips where he berates rude and stupid questioners at townhall meetings. As a keynote speaker, though, and as a party leader, he was a disappointment.

09 August 2012

I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message of which I have no knowledge

I hate to keep rehashing that Super PAC ad where a guy named Joe Soptic basically accuses Mitt Romney of murdering his wife.

I mean, when CNN debunks it, and MSNBC says it's despicable, it is kind of hard to defend.

And when you get busted for denying any knowledge, it gets harder to and harder to distance yourself from the accusation.

But now it looks like the Obama campaign itself - not the Super PAC, the Obama Campaign - is spreading the same accusation. In case it gets scrubbed, here is what's on Obama's web site right now:

I'm sure Jay Carney can explain how this is all fair game. I mean, it's just accusing Romney of murder - not even that, just negligent homicide.

For crying out loud - it's not like claiming the administration "gutted welfare reform" by removing work requirements when what they actually did was illegally waive welfare work requirements.

Because that's a low blow, man.

14 June 2012

23 March 2012

Trayvon Martin does not deserve to be dead. But does George Zimmerman deserve jail? Because that's where he's going.

I have to be honest - I don't have a clue who started the confrontation. No serious person could examine the known facts and presume to know what happened.

If you have not already done so, listen to Zimmerman's whole 911 call - it's about four minutes long. I was struck by the part where he is reluctant to say his address out loud because he doesn't know where "this kid" is, and is afraid he might overhear. He seems a little nervous - not like the aggressive pursuer you might expect (from the simple fact that he got out of his car after noting that the person looked like trouble.) He doesn't want to say his address in case the kid is close enough to hear him - he definitely sounds nervous.

A lot has been made of the 911 operator suggesting that Zimmerman should not pursue. What's been overlooked is that Zimmerman responds "okay." We can't see what he is doing, but he did continue the conversation for several minutes. At the end of his 911 call, Zimmerman did not know where Martin was - only what direction he'd gone. I suspect that Zimmerman headed that way, but at a distance, hoping to spot Martin in order to point him out when the police arrived.

The kid was hurrying away, but (according to accounts of his girlfriend who was speaking with him on the phone) with a watchful eye over his shoulder. 

At some point, I am guessing, they may have found themselves suddenly in closer proximity than either expected. Remember, Zimmerman had lost sight of Martin. Martin told his girlfriend he was hurrying to get out of Zimmerman's sight.

But somehow, they ended up face to face, and at that point the whole "why are you here?" "why are you following me?" conversation occurred. Both of them scared. Neither wanting to back away (or turn his back.)

Then what?

I don't think we will ever know. But I do think that it is not as cut and dried as so many seem to think (including me, when I first started reading about it.)

Was Zimmerman "aggressively pursuing" or just trying to stay close enough to keep an eye on Martin? Was Martin trying to get away, or trying to assert himself?

Somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory, I can recall being a teenage boy, and not wanting to appear frightened. It happens. Was it Martin who suddenly stepped out of the shadows to ask "why are you following me?"

And not to spread the second-guessing too far beyond Zimmerman and Martin, but when two guys are fighting, and one is screaming for help, why didn't anybody just come outside and yell "stop it! I'm calling the cops!" Because that may very well have stopped the fight. Numerous neighbors heard the ruckus and called 911. Nobody went outside to intervene - even with no gun apparent.

This was a real, senseless tragedy. There must have been a dozen decisions by Martin and Zimmerman and several witnesses, each of which, taken by itself, could have saved a life if decided differently. The undisputed fact is that both Martin and Zimmerman were not engaged in criminal activity. Neither needed to apologize for where he was and or he was doing, and neither owed the other an explanation for his actions.

I was a young man once, and I can understand how easily things can come to blows. Except Trayvon Martin is dead. And that means somebody is going to do some time. And that somebody is George Zimmerman.

You can decide for yourself if either one of them deserves it. It's hard for me to think of any reason on earth that Trayvon Martin deserves to be dead, but I'm getting a lot closer to concluding that neither one of them deserves his fate.

27 February 2012

White House revises history again - but why?

Today's New York Times contains an interesting account of Obama's budget speech at George Washington University last spring. Here's the opening (emphasis added):

WASHINGTON — President Obama was backstage at an auditorium at George Washington University last April preparing to give a major speech, when William M. Daley, then his chief of staff, spied an unexpected guest in the audience: Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, whose budget plan Mr. Obama was about to shred.

“Try to tell the president!” Mr. Daley directed an aide.

It was too late to deliver a warning. Mr. Obama went on stage and outlined his proposal to reduce deficits — but not before he flayed the Ryan plan, saying its deep tax cuts and deeper spending reductions would harm students, seniors, the disabled and the nation.

Poor Obama! He only meant to attack Ryan behind his back! It was just a mix-up!

Except, according to reports at the time, Ryan was invited to attend by the White House. Today's article, though, is trying to retrospectively pretend that Obama gave a visionary, conciliatory address on his plan to reduce the deficit and national debt.

Baloney. The co-chairman of Obama's commission, former Senator Alan Simpson, was “concerned about the partisan nature of the event and how unnecessary and unproductive and unhelpful it would be.”

Obama made a choice last spring, and it was not leadership, it was partisan attack.  It's what he does.

And when you really think about today's revisionist version, let's assume Daley's account is true. What did he expect the President to do? Ad lib?!

04 February 2012

Liberals value "health care" more than human life

A few days ago, in a dinner conversation that swerved further into politics than I care for at social events, a friend tossed out the stat that some enormous percentage of health care spending or health care consumption occurs during the final month of people's lives.

Most of the table responded with knowing, sad nods - except for me. I asked, "What does that mean? If only people died sooner, we'd all save a lot of money?"

Nobody really had an answer. They'd heard and accepted that statistical trivia for so long as a way to illustrate health care waste and overspending that they'd never stopped to consider that in fact, that stat means exactly nothing. After all, when do people go to the hospital? When they're young? Not so much. When they're healthy? Never.

A few weeks ago, somebody very close to me went to the hospital by way of care flight helicopter. She had massive internal bleeding, and during emergency surgery, her heart stopped for ten minutes. She was revived and spent a few days in the ICU. All indications now, thank God, are that she will be fine. My own experience informs me, though, that her care and stay probably amounted to over a million dollars. And the fact is that many, if not most people in her situation would not have lived.

So when her heart stopped, should the surgical team have shrugged and said "You know, I think we've spent enough time and money on this case already."

Health care is not a finite resource. It isn't a bowl of soup being passed around a table. And aggregate spending is not the same thing as cost inflation.

A few years ago, while advocating his own health care law, President Obama slandered doctors by suggesting that they commonly choose to remove tonsils rather than prescribe antibiotics. In all my years interacting rather extensively with doctors in a variety of specialties, I have never once met one who decided on a course of care based on how much he could charge for it.

On the contrary, it is liberals like the president who reduce moral and human concerns to dollars and cents. Such shallow secularism is one of the drivers for more recent decisions, such as the unconscionable attack on the Catholic Church, mandating that it fund, contrary to all of its own teaching, its employees contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortions. Sterilized people have fewer children, so such procedures are less costly in the long-term. To liberals, this consideration trumps all others.

The simple fact is that liberals like Obama place more value on the commodity of health care than they place on the human life it exists to preserve. That is beyond ironic.

Don't you think?

11 January 2012

Are there any legitimate criticisms to be made about Romney's business background? Of course.

No, Romney's record is not off-limits. No, free market capitalists are not morally bound to defend all practices that occur in those markets.

The biggest problem with the political attacks on Bain Capital, quite honestly, is that the politicians don't really understand what that business does in the first place. That's why Rick Perry makes idiotic statements about "vulture capitalism," and Newt Gingrich suddenly believes what he reads in the New York Times.

The grand truth about free markets is that they encompass all the choices of all the people, which, in sum, provide the greatest benefit to all of us in terms of growth and prosperity. That doesn't make all choices equally good - it simply protects, and benefits from, the right to make those choices. The fact that politicians can't understand particular businesses is not a fault of those politicians, but a description of all politicians; indeed, of all people.

What makes the current attacks on Bain "from the left" is not that they are "attacking free market capitalism." They're not. The problem is that they are based on the premise that the politicians can judge which businesses are most worthy. That's Obamanomics in a nutshell: picking winners and losers.

It would be legitimate, even conservative, to question whether Romney's business management background really is helpful experience for the job of president. That's an idiotic notion that started, I think, with Herbert Hoover. That's not to say somebody with extensive business experience is uniquely unqualified for the job, but the fact is that Romney's Bain existed primarily to pick winners and losers. It was the exact opposite of what the government needs to do. Turning around a failing company is not the same as balancing the Federal budget - not even close.

And the business school consensus building that often passes for leadership in private enterprise, gave the people of Massachusetts Romneycare. You'll be forgiven if you have a hard time distinguishing between that and Obamacare; Obama's folks can't tell the difference, either.

Yet Romney still defends it, and his rivals simply don't talk about it. Repeal of Obamacare is a singularly existential issue in this 2012 Presidential election year, and the current Republican front-runner takes it completely off the table.

10 January 2012

The Republican field rallies around Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney, Godfather of Obamacare, has finally earned the support of his former rivals in the Republican Presidential field.

How else to explain the attacks on his business record at Bain Capital? There's no doubt that the Obama campaign, should Romney win the nomination, will attack his brand of capitalism, too - it's what Obama does, both rhetorically and in policy. So what?

If there is one group of people among whom these types of attacks are likeliest to fall on deaf ears, it is Republican primary voters. So for Perry, Gingrich and Huntsman to offer them now can only be explained as a dry run to help the Romney campaign prepare for autumn, while simultaneously extinguishing all hope for their own struggling candidacies.

Romney has plenty of vulnerability - obviously. He is the one candidate in the race who removes Obamacare from the table as an issue. He may be the least likely to be able to actually beat Obama, having a track record mostly of failure in 20 years of electoral politics. He may be the most likely to destroy his own party electorally.

But the establishment figures (Newt, Perry, Huntsman) are now rallying around, doing everything they can to brush Romney's biggest vulnerabilities under the rug.

There's a reason it's called "The Stupid Party."