"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Contemptible

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is upping the stakes in his investigation of the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder in connection with the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal.   His letter today uses the phrase "cover-up" and threatens contempt proceedings against Holder:



All I can say is that it's about time.

Obamacare Waivers

If you type "Obamacare" and "waivers" into Google, you quickly find articles telling you that, as of earlier this month, 1,231 companies had received waivers from Obamcare from the Department of Health and Human Services.   So, to add insult to outrage, essentially Obama is more than willing to grant waivers to companies and entities (read:  unions) that want to opt out of Obamacare, but can't find it in his heart to allow exceptions for believing Catholics who don't want to pay for insurance that includes services to which they have serious moral reservations.

Just so we know what he really thinks of us.   

Obama Versus the Catechism

The story about how Obama's HHS Department has issued a fiat requiring Catholic schools and hospitals to buy insurance policies that include abortion, contraception and sterilization services, is starting to ripple like a wildfire through the Internet.   Here's Ace of Spades on the topic:

I don't know what to say except the arrogance is breath-taking. Obama doesn't understand the point of government.
 
The point of government is to run an orderly house in which a great many people may live together in relative harmony despite sharply disagreeing with each other on many things.
 
A hotelier, if his goal is to just run a successful hotel, should not care very much if some rooms are rented by Jews, and some by Catholics, and some by atheists; and some by families, and some by pairs of cheatin' spouses.
 
Only if the hotelier puts his own moralism over the business would he attempt to force his guests to live by his specific rules of life.
 
Obama is a moralist, and an arrogant one. For all the talk of Christians being rigid moralists, the dirty little secret is that the left is far more rigidly, arrogantly moralistic, and it is cheerleaded by our cultural institutions (media, academia) rather than pushed back against, so its arrogance is encouraged.
 
Obama is pushing, very hard, a rigid moral system, and attempting to "shove it down the throats" of people who do not seek nor need his moral instruction.
 
It just happens to be that his code of morality is an unconventional one, borne not in the first century but in the twentieth, and which, when taken to extremes, has included conceptions of sexuality which are essentially Satanic in their license.
 
Can he make a little space for those who do not rush to embrace his Madonna Moralism?

Meanwhile, when what Catholics believe is being caricatured on a wholesale basis, it's always good to go back to the actual catechism (which is online and available to anyone who really cares... such as newspaper reporters... ha, ha):

Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.  These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. ... The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle ... involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.


The point is, Mr. Obama, that this isn't just some knee-jerk, conservative, weird, fascistic attitude that the Catholic Church adopted just out of meanness. It comes from deep consideration by some very intelligent, thoughtful people over thousands of years about what it means to be married and what the purpose of human sexuality is. You might disagree. But it's the unthinking dismissal of the legitimacy of Catholic beliefs that has the bishops (and, soon, regular Catholics all over America) enraged. This will really cost Obama in states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc., i.e., where there is a heavy concentration of old-school Catholics.

Girl of the Day - Jean Simmons


It's Jean Simmons' birthday -- she would have been 83 today.   One of my favorites, although really only for a handful of movies in the 1950s, including Guys and Dolls, The Big Country and Spartacus.   Here she is in a great scene from Guys and Dolls, with the unlikely musical star, Marlon Brando:


Florida Primary and a Look Forward

Mitt Romney will win today's Florida primary, re-establishing himself as the prohibitive favorite for the GOP nomination.   And why not?  His two wins -- three, if you count his virtual tie in Iowa -- are all in swing states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, that the GOP must compete in and win if they are to win in 2012.   Meanwhile, Gingrich's win in South Carolina means little, since any GOP candidate will defeat Obama there.   A Romney-Rubio ticket will sew up Florida.   But a Romney-Santorum ticket puts Pennsylvania (Santorum's home state) in play, and maybe Michigan, since Santorum's appeal to Reagan Democrats and Romney's name (his dad was Governor of Michigan) both work there.   Romney's Mormon faith also probably brings Nevada back into play (lots of Mormons), another swing state that Republicans must compete in and win.   Santorum has taken the high road, and hasn't burned his bridges with the party to disqualify him from the VP slot.   And Santorum will have been battle-tested in the primaries and certainly won't be shy about debating Joe Biden, with whom he served in the Senate for twelve years.   (Santorum might also understand that he's still relatively young -- 54 this spring -- and would be in line for 2016 if Romney can't beat Obama.)

We could do worse.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Plank #1 in the Republican 2012 Platform

The Congressional Budget Office has just issued an eye-opening report on the compensation of federal employees.   Here's the money quote:

Total Compensation


Differences in total compensation—the sum of wages and benefits—between federal and private-sector employees also varied according to workers' education level.
  • Federal civilian employees with no more than a high school education averaged 36 percent higher total compensation than similar private-sector employees.
  • Federal workers whose education culminated in a bachelor's degree averaged 15 percent higher total compensation than their private-sector counterparts.
  • Federal employees with a professional degree or doctorate received 18 percent lower total compensation than their private-sector counterparts, on average.
Overall, the federal government paid 16 percent more in total compensation than it would have if average compensation had been comparable with that in the private sector, after accounting for certain observable characteristics of workers.



If I were drafting the Republican platform, the first thing I'd draft would be a plank stating that all federal employees should have their compensation cut by 16% immediately.    Otherwise, Congress and the President are essentially sanctioning thievery.  

I Call B.S.

Joe Biden is quoted in this article saying that he advised President Obama not to launch the mission that killed Osama bin Laden:


Vice President Joe Biden confessed this weekend that he advised President Obama not to launch the mission that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden last spring.

During remarks at a Democratic congressional retreat this weekend, Biden explained that when it came time to make the final decision, he had some lingering uncertainties about whether the 9/11 mastermind was in the suspected compound in Pakistan.

When the president asked his top advisers for their final opinion on the mission, all of them were hesitant, except for the former CIA director, now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Biden said.

“Every single person in that room hedged their bet except Leon Panetta. Leon said go. Everyone else said, 49, 51,” Biden said, as he offered the unsolicited details of the decision-making process.

“He got to me. He said, ‘Joe, what do you think?’ And I said, ‘You know, I didn’t know we had so many economists around the table.’ I said, ‘We owe the man a direct answer. Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there,’” Biden recalled.

While the vice president did not explain what those two more things were, the next morning the president gave National Security Adviser Tom Donilon the “go” to launch the SEAL raid of the compound.

“He knew what was at stake, not just the lives of those brave warriors, but literally the presidency,” Biden said.

I call bulllshit on this.   As I've noted before, any President, faced with the same facts, would have authorized the mission to get Osama bin Laden.   In fact, practically any reasonably well-informed citizen would have made the same decision.   It wasn't a hard call; it wasn't heroic; it was simply a decision that happened to fall to Obama.   This is all just a story that the Democrats are trying to hype to convince the public that Obama has been a strong President on foreign policy, when the truth is that he has retreated from Afghanistan, retreated from Iraq, allowed Iran to get closer to nuclear weapons, affronted our best allies (Israel and the UK), and generally made a hash of foreign policy.   Are we stronger today than we were four years ago, or weaker?   It's an easy question.

These Are The People Obama Stands With

These are the people Obama stands with:

Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street movement threw condoms on Catholic schoolgirls, refused to allow a Catholic priest to give a closing prayer, and shouted down a pro-life speaker at a Rhode Island right to life rally on Thursday, according to its organizer. The event marked the third time protesters associated with the movement have disrupted a pro-life meeting in a week.

About two-dozen members of Occupy Providence hiked from Burnside Park to the 39th Annual Pro-Life State House Rally organized by the Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee on Thursday. 

The pro-life organization’s executive director, Barth E. Bracy, told LifeSiteNews.com that, near the end of the rally, the Occupiers “strategically fanned out with military precision.”

That’s when they “started showering condoms down on some of the girls from a Catholic high school.”


I think Ace of Spades has the right idea here:

I don't want to encourage violence, but I would warn Occupy: If I'm on the jury? No way the guy who beats the shit out of you gets convicted. And I imagine I'd have four or five like-minded people on the panel.



Obamacare Abomination

What follows is an excerpt from a letter from the Bishop of Marquette, Michigan, which echoes letters sent out this week from hundreds of Catholic bishops across the country:


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens.


This may be the rock on which Obamacare ultimately founders.   All people of goodwill must see that forcing Catholics to participate in a government program against the most basic tenets of their faith is an abomination, both in terms of basic tolerance for different viewpoints (supposedly the hallmark of liberalism) and in terms of the most basic principles of our Constitution.

Romney v. Gingrich

The Week has a persuasive analysis of six reasons why Mitt Romney appears to be pulling away from Newt Gingrich in Florida.   The Regular Guy interpolates his comments below:


1. Romney renewed his focus on destroying GingrichAfter getting trounced by Gingrich in South Carolina, Team Romney hatched a plan, say Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleney in The New York Times: "Make Newt mad and Mitt meaner." They unleashed a "blistering and unrelenting series of attacks," many delivered by a newly aggressive Romney himself, and used "all the visible and invisible tactics of political warfare" to paint Gingrich as an "erratic, unreliable Washington insider."

RG:   Well, sure.   But this "strategy" is really just common sense and reality.   Gingrich really has been an erratice, unreliable Washington insider for more than 30 years.   If Romney couldn't paint him with that brush, he'd have to be a truly incompetent politician.   And he's not.

2. And Mitt's Freddie Mac attack was deadlyRomney's biggest win was in the "Bain vs. Freddie" fight, says Alexander Burns at Politico. Mitt's lucrative career at Bain Capital was an albatross in South Carolina, but in Florida, about 75 percent view it positively versus 13 percent who view it negatively. And while Gingrich failed to make Bain an issue, Romney hammered him over his past consulting for Freddie Mac, blaming the federal mortgage giant....

RG:   Again, this is less of a strategic triumph than simply a triumph for reality.   There really is nothing wrong with Romney making a pile of money in the private sector.   That's a good thing.   But there really is something sick about a political culture where someone can get millions of dollars in "consulting" fees from a government-sponsored entity like Freddie Mac simply because that someone used to be in Congress.   Romney's millions from Bain are something to celebrate about the American Dream; Gingrich's millions from Freddie Mac are crony capitalism run amok.

3. Gingrich flubbed the debates"Newt also hasn't been helping himself," says Alexis Garcia at Pajamas Media. "After dominating the South Carolina debates," he "committed a series of unforced errors" in the two Florida debates, turning in lackluster performances and talking about moon colonies when voters care about jobs and houses. Romney also sharpened his debate game....

RG:  Well, maybe.   But a hard-right state like South Carolina was always going to be more susceptible to the kind of red meat Gingrich was serving there.   The rest of the country is going to vote on something other than how someone debates.   Republicans would have been making a huge mistake to nominate Gingrich out of some juvenile belief that he could defeat Obama in debates.   We're supposed to be smarter than that; we're supposed to be the party that doesn't vote for demagogues.  

4. Romney's surrogates carved up Newt"It shouldn’t be underestimated how much the Romney operation has managed to get into Gingrich's head," says Reid Epstein at Politico. The Romney team realized that direct attacks throw Newt off his game, so they sent their deep bench of prominent surrogates — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Reps. Connie Mack IV (R-Fla.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño — to crash Gingrich rallies or attack him on the stump. Mitt even got some crucial "non-endorsement endorsements" from GOP heavy-hitters Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose "slapdowns of Gingrich's attacks" on Romney worked to Mitt's advantage.

RG:   Again, is this strategy, or just reality?   Significant players in the Republican Party don't like Gingrich and do like Romney.   Maybe that ought to tell us something.

5. The conservative media also ripped into NewtLast week was pile-on-Gingrich week in the conservative press — with a little help from the influential Drudge Report. In the National Review, The American Spectator, and other influential conservative publications, "Gingrich comes off looking like a dangerous, anti-Reagan, Clintonian fraud," say Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen at Politico. "It's as if the conservative media... decided Gingrich is for real, and they need to come clean about the man they really know before it's too late."

RG:   Again, smart people who've managed to make names for themselves as conservative commentators are attacking Gingrich.   Ought to tell you something.

6. Florida's elderly voters like Romney's family valuesThe "phenomenal shift in the polls" in Florida is actually pretty easy to explain, says Robert Stacy McCain at The Other McCain: "Your grandma loves Mitt Romney," and "there are lots of Republican grandmas in Florida." Romney is much better looking that Gingrich — "the tall, lean multimillionaire entrepreneur with dark hair and chiseled features" versus "the pudgy intellectual" — but his bigger selling point to grandma is his "old-fashioned 'family values' conservatism." When Romney talks about how he's still married to his high-school sweetheart, he doesn't even have to mention that "Newt is on Wife No. 3, with whom he had an affair while still married to Wife No. 2."

RG: As I've been saying for a couple of weeks, Gingrich might have a short shelf-life as the flavor of the week, but responsible adults at some point were always going to take a step back and ask themselves if they really want to nominate a man who's been married three times and who has two very public adulteries on his resume.  

The upshot:  Gingrich appears to be imploding, at least in Florida.   The question is whether, after Romney destroys Gingrich, will Santorum rise as the candidate of the anybody-but-Romney wing of the party?   Or will Romney simply coast to victory?  

Girl of the Day - Michelle Dockery

Downton Abbey is still our favorite show, but I have to say that it's creeping a little too close to pure soap opera this year.   The Sybil-Branson love story borders on a cliché, rich girl falling for poor man with overtones of overcoming unjust class differences, blah, blah, blah.   The Anna-Bates story, meanwhile, has the most unbelievable villain -- Bates' evil ex-wife, Vera -- whose machinations are keeping the sweet maid from marrying the long-suffering butler.   Do men who are so fundamentally wise and decent as Bates really marry harpies like Vera?   Well, maybe, but I generally think men who are decent tend to gravitate toward decent women.   (It's very much like the illogic at the center of Pride and Prejudice, where an entirely witless ditz of a mother somehow manages to have a brilliant, common-sensical daughter like Elizabeth.   Doesn't often happen in real life.)   They could have written the Anna-Bates story so differently, and to much more meaningful effect.  

Somewhat similarly, Thomas and O'Brien are far too evil to be believable, though the writers have tried to humanize them this year.   And sister Edith is one of the more interesting characters and has seemed to grow a bit this year, but they never do much with her.  

The upshot is that, while I still like the show, I like it more  for what I imagine it could have been, rather than for what it has actually turned out to be.

One highlight has been the performance of Michelle Dockery as the somewhat doomed beautiful sister, Mary Crawley, who appears to have lost her true love, Matthew, first to her own pride and indecision, then to the war, then to a different woman, and now to Matthew's war wound, which has turned him into a cripple.   The Mary-Matthew love story is also soap opera, but it works because the two leads are so good.    Here's Dockery in the show:



And here, of course, she is in her civvies:

Michelle Malkin Endorses Santorum

Here's Michelle Malkin in her column endorsing Rick Santorum for President:

Rick Santorum opposed TARP.
He didn’t cave when Chicken Littles in Washington invoked a manufactured crisis in 2008. He didn’t follow the pro-bailout GOP crowd — including Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — and he didn’t have to obfuscate or rationalize his position then or now, like Rick Perry and Herman Cain did. He also opposed the auto bailout, Freddie and Fannie bailout, and porkulus bills.
Santorum opposed individual health care mandates — clearly and forcefully — as far back as his 1994 U.S. Senate run. He has launched the most cogent, forceful fusillade against both Romney and Gingrich for their muddied, pro-individual health care mandate waters.
He voted against cap and trade in 2003, voted yes to drilling in ANWR, and unlike Romney and Gingrich, Santorum has never dabbled with eco-radicals like John Holdren, Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. He hasn’t written any “Contracts with the Earth.”
Santorum is strong on border security, national security, and defense. Mitt the Flip-Flopper and Open Borders-Pandering Newt have been far less trustworthy on immigration enforcement.
Santorum is an eloquent spokesperson for the culture of life. He has been savaged and ridiculed by leftist elites for upholding traditional family values — not just in word, but in deed.
He won Iowa through hard work and competent campaign management. Santorum has improved in every GOP debate and gave his strongest performance last week in Florida, wherein he both dismantled Romneycare and popped the Newt bubble by directly challenging the front-runners’ character and candor without resorting to their petty tactics.
He rose above the fray by sticking to issues.
Most commendably, he refused to join Gingrich and Perry in indulging in the contemptible Occupier rhetoric against Romney. Character and honor matter. Santorum has it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Girl of the Day - Barbi Benton


If you were a young man in the 1970s, you probably had occasion to see Barbi Benton, the girlfriend of Hugh Hefner, on television with some frequency -- she was, for instance, a regular on the country comedy show Hee Haw.   I'm not sure what her talents were, but in retrospect her softcore personae actually seems somewhat innocent compared to what passes for popular culture today.

In any event, Barbi Benton turns 61 today.   As always, tempus fugit.  

The Great Dictator

George Will's piece on the State of the Union makes an important point about the extra-constitutional grasp of Obama.   From unelected "czars" to recess appointments when there's no recess, to comments about how "if Congress won't act, I will," to entering wars (Libya) without Congressional authorization, to claiming the right to borrow money without Congressional approval, to.... well, the list goes on and on.   The man seems to wish he were a third-world dictator, and he's well on the way to turning America into a third-world power, complete with debased currency and an Evita Peron-wannabe for First Lady.   Here's Will:

Obama, an unfettered executive wielding a swollen state, began and ended his address by celebrating the armed forces. They are not “consumed with personal ambition,” they “work together” and “focus on the mission at hand” and do not “obsess over their differences.” Americans should emulate troops “marching into battle,” who “rise or fall as one unit.”

Well. The armed services’ ethos, although noble, is not a template for civilian society, unless the aspiration is to extinguish politics. People marching in serried ranks, fused into a solid mass by the heat of martial ardor, proceeding in lock step, shoulder to shoulder, obedient to orders from a commanding officer — this is a recurring dream of progressives eager to dispense with tiresome persuasion and untidy dissension in a free, tumultuous society.


I commented to someone recently that what scares me is not the prospect of Obama winning a second term.   What worries me is the prospect of Obama running for a third term.   And a fourth.   And a fifth.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Clark Judge on the SOTU

Clark Judge is a very smart guy who occasionally writes for the Hugh Hewitt web-page.   Here is his commentary on the State of the Union address last night, which nicely captures both the arrogance and the absurdity of Obama's economic agenda:

Let me get this straight: 1) banks will be punished (do I understand this right, by a committee headed by Eric Holder?) if their lending is too risky, 2) and they will be required (by the same committee) to give more home loans (meaning, it must be, to people who would otherwise not qualify for the loans, or else the government would not have to be involved) at lower rates (which means rates that do not compensate them as much as the market says they need to be compensated for the risks they are taking, all of which sounds like a new edition of the policies that brought on the financial collapse), 3) which must mean that they will have to pull back on risky lending someplace other than homes, 4) the only place that most banks would be able to pull back on riskier customers would be loans to small and new businesses, 5) but these are the businesses that have created just about all the jobs over the last 20 years and he said early in the speech he wants to encourage them, 6) so maybe their growth capital will come from selling stock to the kinds of people who invest in new and small businesses, 7) but through the Buffet Rule he’s going to double the tax rate on investment income for those people, meaning that, like the banks, they can’t be fully compensated for the risk of backing small and new businesses, 8) so they will not invest more in small and new companies but in big established firms, 9) so more of those small and new firms will have to turn to the government for capital, 10) which luckily he said would up its investing in early stage businesses with “the best” ideas, 11) “the best” ideas meaning, I guess, as with Solyndra, ideas that advance his agenda through companies whose owners support his candidacy), 11) or maybe it would be companies that agree to invite unionization (since the unions have failed to organize the new and dynamic sectors of the economy, which is why they have been shrinking), 12) but then with the big businesses, he wants to punish American companies if they invest overseas, 13) and he wants to increase exports, 14) but being competitive in the global markets often means having part of your production near your markets, which is why many companies have opened production facilities abroad and many foreign companies (BMW and Honda, for example) have opened their facilities here, 15) so he’ll make these companies less competitive, meaning less able to export anything that might be paired with some other product the company makes abroad in order to attract buyers, 16) and it also means he’ll have the U.S. ignoring many of the international trading rules of which we have been the principal sponsor since the end of WWII, rules that have led to an incredible growth in widely shared wealth all over the planet, 17) which means that, if he follows through, he’ll blow up the post-WWII global economic system, 18) which in the very short run may help the uncompetitive American labor unions but in the not-so-long run would devastate every economy on earth, 19) but it would also mean he would be in a position to decide where big companies could invest, and when, just as he’ll be in control of all new and small businesses, too, 20) meanwhile he is going to tell states and localities what their budget priorities should be, 21) and make them adopt his policies for running their schools, leaving me to wonder, when he’s through, what won’t he control?
The Regular Son, who is just about ready to turn 15, commented after listening to it that "Obama hates banks, oil companies, and rich people."   Just so.   To me, what Judge describes is truly just a man who has never actually done anything in his life, who simply doesn't know what he's talking about, and who therefore can't grasp the contradictions and patent impossibilities of what he's saying.   Couple that with the fact that he does have deeply ingrained habits of thought characteristic of the hard left, and you've got a dangerous cocktail.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Where I Am Today

Here's where the Regular Guy is today on the race for the GOP nomination.  In my mind there are four or five key themes I'd like the GOP candidate to stress.

1.  The Economy.   And specifically, the fact that the economy was tanked in 2008 because the federal government intervened so much in the housing market by helping create a system, through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, where mortgage lenders did not care about risk and loaned money to too many people to buy or build too many houses that they couldn't afford.   In a larger sense, because the financial industry, including the "too big to fail" New York investment banks, were also complicit in the creation of an over-leveraged American economy.   We are now de-leveraging, painfully.

In my mind, Gingrich's association with Freddie Mac as a lobbyist/influence peddler/historian hurts him in making this case.   And Romney's career at Bain Capital hurts him in making this case, because he will be associated -- however demogogically -- with the world of abstract finance that unfortunately scares and angers many Americans.

2.  Obamacare.    Here, both Gingrich and Romney have problems, Gingrich because he in the past supported the individual mandate that, rightly or wrongly, is the provision most associated with Obamacare; Romney because of, well, Romneycare.

3.  Strong national defense, opposition to Iran getting nukes, support for Israel.   Here, Ron Paul would be disqualified.

4.  Traditional moral values focused on the family.   Gingrich loses this issue for us.    I really, really don't like his three marriages and serial adultery.   I don't believe that his second and third wives are the only instances of his cheating, and I predict that more will come out the closer he gets to the nomination.    I cared when Bill Clinton cheated and I said more than once that a man who will cheat on his wife will cheat at anything.   I was right then; I'm right now.   

5.  Competence and executive experience.   Romney is obviously the best on this; Gingrich, to me, the worst.   But competence isn't enough.

So where am I today?   I'm leaning cautiously toward Rick Santorum.    And I'm horrified by the notion that Newt Gingrich at age 68, after all we've seen of him for the past 30 years, and with so much at stake in 2012, could actually be the nominee. 

March for Life


A photograph of the tens of thousands of Americans who came to Washington yesterday for the annual March for Life commemorating the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.   

For extra credit, compare and contrast this joy:



With this anger:  

Girl of the Day - Michelle Williams

The Academy Award nominations are out.   For Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, I think there's no doubt in my mind that The Artist will sweep.   There's an outside chance that George Clooney has enough pull as a heavy hitter in Hollywood to get Best Actor for The Descendants, but he won't deserve it -- Jean Dujardin deserves it, period.   (The only performance I haven't seen is Demián Bichir in A Better Life.)

For Best Actress, I frankly haven't seen the movies, so it's hard for me to guess who will win, but I hope it won't be Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady, because I don't like what I've heard about the film's treatment of Margaret Thatcher's Alzheimer's.   If I had to bet, I'd bet on Michelle Williams playing Marilyn Monroe as the type of biographical role that the Academy will like:


Still, not as good as the original:


Romney's Taxes

Mitt Romney ought to have released his tax returns a lot sooner, both to forestall the ridiculous attacks on his wealth from people like Newt Gingrich who ought to know better, and because they both show several good things about him and also allow him to make some important points.   Anyway, he has now released his 2010 return, and according to a WSJ summary, here's what they show:

Mr. Romney reported $21.7 million in income. He paid $3 million in federal taxes, slightly more than the $2.98 million he made in charitable donations. At least $1.5 million of his charitable donations went to the Mormon Church.

Of Mr. Romney's 2010 income, he noted a capital gain of $12.6 million, taxable interest of $3.3 million, ordinary dividends of $4.9 million and smaller sums of gains and losses on business income, refunds and other income.

To my eye, here's what this information tells me.   First, Romney has been extraordinarily successful.   The capital gains income means he liquidated tens of millions of dollars of stock holdings, money that he had put at risk investing after having earned it in the first place and after having already paid income taxes on it once.   Same with the interest income, same with the dividend income -- this is the second go-round on being taxed on this money.   If I were him, I'd make that point over and over again -- I already paid income taxes on this once, I invested it, put it at risk, in the stocks of companies that hire employees, and now I am paying taxes on it again.   Oh, and by the way, when I die, I'll have to pay taxes on it a third time under current law.   So if you don't like my tax "rate" because it's mostly based on the 15% capital gains tax rate because you don't think that's "fair," we have a different idea of "fairness."

Second, Romney gives a hell of a lot of money to his church.   Essentially tithing -- paying 10% or so of his after-tax income to his church.   That's a good thing, in my book.   To put it in perspective, he gives substantially more to his church annually than the 1500 middle-class families in our old parish gave.   Compare and contrast to the charitable giving by Al Gore or Joe Biden, which has been well-documented.   Republicans and conservatives who are churchgoers are generous people.  

Third, Romney also obviously gives a hell of a lot of money to other charities.   Again, a very good thing.   Does it show that Romney is a good man and would make a good President?   Not necessarily.   But it certainly doesn't prove anything bad about him.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

40 Years Since Roe

Rick Santorum has a good article up on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page today talking about the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.   Santorum is the real deal on life -- he walks the walk.    Here he contrasting his record on abortion with President Obama and the other three candidates for the Republican nomination:

I fought in the U.S. Senate against the tragedy of partial-birth abortion. This debate energized momentum for the culture of life in America. I sat in the Supreme Court during the first oral arguments on the constitutionality of the law designed to stop the heinous practice. It wasn't until President George W. Bush nominated conservative justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, whose confirmations I helped lead, that the Supreme Court changed its position and upheld the law.

We don't judge hearts but we do judge records. President Obama's record of support for abortion is radical and extreme. He stood alone not to defend life but to oppose the Born Alive Infant Protection Act in the Illinois State Senate. He opposed ending the horrific procedure of partial-birth abortion. He supported federal funds for abortion through ObamaCare and told Catholic Charities that there was no room in the inn if they wanted to help women abused by sex traffickers and be pro-life at the same time.

My opponents whisper that they are pro-life, but I fight the battle in the trenches and will continue to do so until every innocent human life in this country is protected. I've dedicated my life as a husband, father and leader to this cause.

Ron Paul embraces the 10th Amendment but ignores the 14th Amendment when he refuses to support federal protections for the unborn. The Constitution protects not only property rights but people, too. What is liberty without the right to life? The federal courts and the federal government are the last resort for protecting this foundational right.

Mitt Romney's passion for life was apparently overwhelmed by Democrats when he put Planned Parenthood on the advisory board for RomneyCare and did not fight government-funded abortions while governor of Massachusetts. He was, it seems, too intimidated to support judges who understood the plain meaning of the Constitution on the right to life.

Newt Gingrich has pushed social issues to the back bench. In a pledge to America that the Congress tried to put together in 2010, my phone was ringing off the hook from people who said he went in and told them to keep social issues out of the pledge for the 2010 elections. Do we want a president who talks on both sides or one who is unafraid to put social issues in the forefront where they belong?

Whenever I am confronted with an immoral law that is unjust or harmful to society, I believe I have an obligation to work toward changing it to comport with what is moral. I agree with the Founders that there is a natural law that can be known through the exercise of reason against which the positive or civil law must be measured and, if needed, amended. For decades certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the Constitution.

I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in his country. I am disappointed that the other three Republican candidates in this race for president simply check the box. The unborn need leaders who will stand for life; so does the soul of America.

Stupid Non-Story

Rand Paul, Republican Senator from Kentucky, was turned away from his flight out of Nashville by the TSA because he refused a pat-down after he set off the metal detector.   His father, Ron Paul, is making a big deal out of it, calling the TSA a manifestation our how the U.S. is becoming a "police state."  
Rand Paul the younger actually has a decent Constitutional argument that, as a member of Congress, he's exempt from these kinds of regulations, since the Constitution expressly says that "They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same."   The problem for a Tea Party Republican, however, is that members of Congress claiming exemption from the laws that the rest of us have to follow is probably the thing Tea Partiers hate the most.  

Look, no one likes the TSA hassles at the airport.   It's probably fairly useless in terms of stopping terrorist attacks, and, even if it were, the cost in money and man-hours may not be worth it.*  But it's the law for now, and Rand Paul should have just been very polite to the TSA officers, let them pat him down, made some small joke about it, and gone on with his day.   That's what I do, and I've found that the experience of air travel is much more pleasant.  





*If that sounds cold, think about it.   We could stop all terrorist attacks on planes easily -- just make it illegal to fly.   Does anyone want that?   Of course not.   So we've already decided that air travel is worth some risk.   The question, as with everything else (including health care) is simply how much risk are we willing to take and when do the costs of avoiding risk outweigh the risk itself.   

File This Under "What If a Republican Senate Did This?"


Tomorrow will be President Obama's third State of the Union address.   It will also, ironically, be the 1000th day since the Democrat Senate led by Harry Reid last passed a budget.  

Will the MSM let the Democrats get away with this?   Have we really gone so far down as a country that our leaders aren't expected to do the bare minimum of their job?  

I know the Constitution doesn't say that the Congress must pass a budget detailing how it will spend the dollars it collects in taxes.   It doesn't say a lot of things that have been interpreted over the years to be powers of the federal government.   But it does say that Congress has the power to tax, to pay debts, to provide for the common defense and the general welfare, to borrow money, to regulate commerce, to coin money and regulate the value thereof, and to make all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out its powers.   Hard to see how you could do those things without having a budget.   I think it's implicit in the document both as a "penumbra" (as they say) and as a matter of longstanding practice.   So not passing a budget means that the Senate is not upholding the Constitution, which is its sworn duty.

So when do the impeachments start?

A Very Minor Instance of a Very Important Issue

Here are a series of paragraphs from an otherwise innocuous article about yesterday's Bucks-Heat game:

"We can't make no excuses for ourselves," James said. "But no one had energy from the start of the game to the end."

It was the first time Miami lost this season in seven games without Dwyane Wade, out again with a sprained right ankle.

Miami got within 83-80 with 2:15 left on a pair of free throws by Bosh, before Ilyasova restored Milwaukee's five-point lead with 1:50 left. Miami's next two possessions ended with a turnover and a missed layup by James with three Bucks in pursuit, and Jennings - who was 5 for 20 - came up with the clincher.

His putback of a missed 3-pointer by Jackson with 39.5 seconds left sealed the win for Milwaukee, which won despite missing 25 of its 30 tries from 3-point range, including 16 straight at one point.

"We had a great difficulty making shots, but we made up for it with tremendous effort," Skiles said. "Our defense was very, very good again. When we needed a couple big plays, we were able to make them."
It's the first time Milwaukee has won consecutive road games since December 2010.

The Heat sputtered all night, putting up season-lows in a number of categories, and by some wide margins to boot. Miami's scoring low coming into Sunday was 89, field-goal percentage low was .395, low field-goal total was 32 (now 25) and assists was 16.

"We're not going to make any excuses," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

This is a small deal, no doubt.   NBA player who happens to be black, LeBron James, uses improper English that is presumably accurately quoted.    NBA coach who happens to be white, Erik Spoelstra, uses proper English that is also presumably accurately quoted.   James is a multi-millionaire, a success story, a great player, a hard worker at his craft.   So using improper English hasn't hurt him, and likely won't ever hurt him.  

On the other hand, there are a sum total of 450 NBA players.   There are perhaps 900 black NFL players.   There are maybe another 250 or so black MLB players.   So maybe 1500 total pro athletes who are black, who have careers that probably average around 3-5 years.    Meanwhile, there are something on the order of 13 million black males over the age of 16 in the noninstitutional US population and black male unemployment is pushing up toward 20%.   In an economy that is increasingly oriented toward jobs involving communication skills.  

People don't like to talk about how badly urban culture and the public schools have failed young black males, in particular by creating a culture where speaking proper English is not demanded or rewarded socially.   But they have.  

Downton Abbey Gets Soapy


The Regular Wife and I love Downton Abbey.  But, unlike some of the other great shows on Masterpiece Theater over the years, it is the purest soap opera, generating "drama" from the manipulation of its viewers' natural desires to see lovers finally overcome obstacles, come together, and get married.   Every single plot thread has this same generic structure:  man (Matthew Crawley, Branson the chauffer, Mr. Bates the valet) loves girl (Mary, Sybil, Anna) but cannot consummate the relationship because of obstacles (the war, loyalty to another girl, pride; class distinctions; an evil ex-wife).   It's wonderfully engaging to watch, but I can't help thinking that it's a storyline that absent the British accents and the costumes would fit right in on Dallas or Falcon Crest.

  

Defeat. Jaws. Victory.

Newt Gingrich's victory in the South Carolina primary is a victory for all of the conservatives (like the Regular Guy) who have shouted back at the TV when liberal reporters or commentators make statements we don't like.   We've done it for fifty years (my old man used to yell at Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley), and now we finally have someone who not only will shout back, but will do it in person and to their faces with gusto.   Gingrich is saying all the things we right-wing curmudgeons have wanted to say for decades.   Bravo, we say.   Bravo.  

But.   But.   But.     

While Gingrich's theatrics (and they are theatrics:  two hours after he called John King of CNN despicable he was warmly thanking him for conducting such a good debate) play to the blog-reading, TV news-watching, talk radio-listening wing of the party that knows the issues and is stirred by media-bashing, it won't play to the moderates and independents Republicans will need (and who are there for the taking) to defeat Obama in November.   So while his victory feels good in the moment -- and aren't Americans all about feeling good right now? -- in the long run, if it means he ends up the nominee, Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot.   A Gingrich leading the party likely means not winning the Senate, perhaps losing the House, and certainly not gaining the Presidency.   And that would be a tragedy.   

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fast and Furious Gets Faster and Furiouser

While the media agonizes over when to drop the story of Newt Gingrich's infidelity in the 1990s, the Fast and Furious scandal took a remarkable turn yesterday:


The chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona is refusing to testify before Congress regarding Operation Fast and Furious, the federal gun-running scandal that sent U.S. weapons to Mexico.

Patrick J. Cunningham informed the House Oversight Committee late Thursday through his attorney that he will use the Fifth Amendment protection.

Cunningham was ordered Wednesday to appear before Chairman Darrell Issa and the House Oversight Committee regarding his role in the operation that sent more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. Guns from the failed operation were found at the murder scene of Border Agent Brian Terry.
The letter from Cunningham’s Washington DC attorney stunned congressional staff. 


Well, no kidding.   This ought to be the biggest story right now.   It's a story that, if it were a Republican administration, would have already spawned special prosecutors and impeachment talk.   That it's apparently not a big deal to the current mainstream media shows that they have completely lost perspective and gone in the tank for Obama's reelection.

Think of it:   a federal government program delivers automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels, resulting in the death of a federal agent and the deaths of many more Mexicans, and a U.S. attorney is forced to plead the 5th.   Does that sound like a news story to you?   Does that ring of Pulitizer Prizes for whomever has the temerity to ask hard questions?   When did Eric Holder know about the program?   When did Obama?  Who authorized it at the highest levels?   And why?   What was the purpose?    Apparently not very many White House reporters care.   Certainly we haven't heard many questions asked about Fast and Furious in the Republican debates.

The letter from the U.S. attorney's lawyer to the House Committee that had subpoenaed him is here.   Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee investigating Fast and Furious made this statement:

"The assertion of the fifth amendment by a senior Justice official is a significant indictment of the Department's integrity in Operation Fast and Furious. The former head of the ATF has previously told the committee that the Justice Department is managing its response to Operation Fast and Furious in a manner designed to protect its political appointees. This is the first time anyone has asserted their fifth amendment right in this investigation and heightens concerns that the Justice Department's motivation for refusing to hand over subpoenaed materials is a desire to shield responsible officials from criminal charges and other embarrassment.

"Coming a year after revelations about reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious were first brought to light, the assertion of the fifth amendment also raises questions about whether President Obama and Attorney General Holder have made a serious and adequate response to allegations raised by whistleblowers. Did Attorney General Holder really not know a senior Justice Department official fears criminal prosecution or is this just another example of him hiding important facts? The committee will continue to demand answers."

Free College Education?

A fascinating article up on the Forbes web-page discusses the possibility of providing essentially a free college education for anyone who wants one through greater use of "crowd-sourcing" for instructors -- essentially calling on the vast number of professionals who would be willing to volunteer to teach courses in exchange for the networking and prestige of doing so, much as CLE courses for lawyers are taught gratis by practicing lawyers -- and also through greater use of technology for online courses, automated grading, etc.    I'm not sure that the cost would ultimately be free -- there are still transaction costs (read: friction) in creating, administering an monitoring any such program -- but the ideas are sound.    As Herbert Stein said, what can't continue, won't.   The current arc of college costs can't continue.   Something's got to give.

One note in particular stuck out for me:

A quirky company called Rosetta Stone has largely put college foreign language instruction out of business. For approximately $200/semester one can learn almost any language one wants—not quite free, but much cheaper and (apparently) more effective than the college classroom. Rosetta Stone is a good example of winner-take-all; it has cornered the market not because of some government license, nor because only their employees know languages, but because they are better and cheaper.

Why not do this with calculus, chemistry, psychology and all the rest? This will eventually happen. In each of those disciplines a product (or, hopefully, two or three competing products) will emerge that is manifestly better than anything any individual college can produce in-house.













Girl of the Day - Gina Carano


Steven Soderbergh is one of the Regular Guy's favorite directors.   The first movie of his I can remember seeing was Sex, Lies and Videotape, about a damaged man's sexual perversion -- he gets off by videotaping women talking about their sex lives.   In all of his movies, from blockbusters like Ocean's 11 to an odd sci-fi film like Solaris to the weird satire on corporate corruption The Informant! to the horrifyingly realistic epidemic film Contagion, Soderbergh ha sshown me high intelligence without much concern about being "deep."   When he does genre films, like the crime caper Out of Sight with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, they end up transcending the genre with smart dialogue and stylish visuals..

So when I hear that Soderbergh is doing a spy-on-the-run movie a la The Bourne Identity, only with a female lead drawn from the world of mixed martial arts, I'm all in.   The weekend Haywire opens with Gina Carano, a former MMA champion and complete movie novice, taking the lead as "Mallory," a CIA-trained assassin now targeted by mysterious forces, and I'm pretty sure that the Regular Son and I will be checking it out.  Here's the trailer:



This Just In: Santorum Ekes Out Iowa Victory.... Two Weeks Ago!

Iowa announced yesterday morning that Rick Santorum actually appears to have won the Iowa caucuses two weeks ago, by 34 votes, rather than than losing them by 8 votes, as previously believed.   I don't think it would have mattered in the long run -- Romney was still going to win New Hampshire, and Romney still had the best campaign organization, the most money, etc. -- but now we'll never know.   The presidential campaign is an imprecise science, obviously, but does it really have to be this random?   Mark Steyn doesn't think so:

[H]orse-race headlines matter. Just nine days ago, the bigfoot media line on primary night in the Granite State was that Mitt Romney was the first non-incumbent in the history of the planet to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Wow! Unprecedented! One for the record books! Next question: Will the history-making and increasingly inevitable “Big Mo” Mitt make it three-in-a-row in the Palmetto State?

But this entire narrative rested on nothing more substantial than an incompetent count in a state where votes in eight precincts had gone missing. On the eve of South Carolina, it turns out that Mister Inevitable, Mister Run-The-Board, Mister Sweep-The-Nation has done no more than win one state in which he keeps a vacation home.

If I were Rick Santorum, I’d be feeling mighty irked by the two-week switcheroo. Had he been pronounced the winner of Iowa back when it mattered, who knows the difference it might have made to his fundraising, or to a meaningful surge in New Hampshire, or to the ability to buy airtime in Florida. What First World jurisdiction needs over a fortnight to count a hundred thousand votes? 

Steyn goes on to make a good point.   We give Iowa and New Hampshire extraordinary power over selecting our Presidents.    At the same time, the primary in California, with 37 million residents, has practically no input into the nomination.   Shouldn't Republicans especially be seeking to nominate candidates who can compete in the largest and most important states -- California, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey?   That may mean a more moderate candidate, it may not, but whatever it means, we wouldn't have the charade of letting 120,000 farmers select our candidate.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Keystone

I haven't commented much on the President's decision to postpone the Keystone XL pipeline, which would go through Nebraska's Sand Hills, bringing oil from Canada to Texas.   The President looked at a choice between, on the one hand, more independence from terrorists in oil-exporting nations abroad and tens of thousands of jobs for Americans at home and, on the other hand, more campaign contributions from his elitist environmentalist cronies in the Democratic Party, and the choice for Obama was easy.   Obama will always choose re-election cash and pleasing his elitist left-liberal masters over doing what's best for America, it's just that simple.  

Krauthammer has this nailed too:

The president saying, “this is not in the national interest” was extremely cynical. That statement he made [in 2007] about [America turning to] Canada and Mexico [for oil] is the real key here. It’s not just that it [Keystone] creates tens of thousands of jobs, but that, in a world where our sources of oil are unstable and unfriendly, like from the Middle East… this [oil] would be coming from our nearest neighbor and reliable ally.
And that oil would go to China [if Keystone is not built]. The Canadian prime minister made it clear when he was here a few months ago that if it doesn’t head south, it will head west. And the Chinese will have access to a really important strategic asset.
This idea we heard from [Obama Press Secretary Jay] Carney about the arbitrary deadline — [it is] the president [who] imposed an arbitrary deadline or timeline. He had to make a decision at the end of last year and he decided arbitrarily it [Keystone] needed 12 months of study.
That number gets past the election. It’s all about the election: Not angering his base on the left. It has nothing to do with studies. This is the most studied pipeline in the history of the United States, three years of study that concluded that it would be ecologically safe. This is all about reelection. It’s nothing else.

Girl of the Day - Mary Tyler Moore


Fifty years ago today, the first episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show was filmed.   Van Dyke was a great talent and the show remains one of the best comedy shows in TV history, but to me the key player on the show was always Mary Tyler Moore playing Van Dyke's young suburban wife, Laura Petrie.   She was 24 when the show started, and it was hard to ignore how hot she was, no matter how they drabbed her down on the show.

Occasionally, they would let her dance:




I'll bet she still has great legs.

Strange Times

Rick Perry, who ought to have been a formidable candidate, has now withdrawn from the GOP presidential race.    Newt Gingrich has an ex-wife problem -- his second wife is scheduled to appear tonight in an ABC interview in which she will make the case that Gingrich is unfit to be President because of his immoral conduct in cheating on her.   Ron Paul is still Ron Paul,.    And Mitt Romney increasingly has problems with the perception that he is out of touch with Americans because of his personal wealth, as Charles Krauthammer suggests here:  

***
If somebody running in a state like South Carolina, with 10 percent unemployment, with median per capita income in the mid-30s, to say what he got from speeches — $370,000 — is not a lot, is like the George H.W. Bush at the checkout counter. Here’s a guy who’s not in touch. And that I think is a lot more serious [that] he pays the [15%] rate that is required by law for cap gains…. It’s not a major issue in the campaign, but anything, any anecdote, that supports a narrative, a preexisting stereotype, of a rich guy [who] is out of touch and looks a little stiff — who everybody agrees doesn’t have the common touch — I think hurts him.

That leaves Rick Santorum.   I'm OK with that, if that's how it turns out.   And I'm OK with Romney if he can survive -- there's worse things than having to defend how incredibly successful you were in the private sector against a President who has essentially never left school.   But I can't help thinking that there is a list of Republicans out there who are thinking that they could have pulled this off if they'd just gotten in.  




Mild update:  Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard has a faux "exclusive" about a fictional Mitch Daniels' speech in response to the upcoming State of the Union address by Obama, in which Daniels announces dramatically that he is open to running for President.   No sale.   Not going to happen.   Daniels got cold feet when we needed him, just as Tim Pawlenty chickened out when he lost the Iowa straw poll (to Michellle Bachmann, remember her?).   It's too late.   So, by my reckoning, it's either Romney or Santorum.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Walker Recall


Opponents of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker filed petitions supporting a recall election yesterday that included more than 1 million signatures.   The thrust of the recall is against Walker's successful efforts to balance the state budget, which prior to his term was facing a $3.6 billion deficit; to hold down property taxes (again, successful); and to restrain the growth of government spending by restraining the benefits paid to government employees, including teachers (again, successful, as Walker pushed through provision requiring modest contributions by Wisconsin public employees to their own pensions and health care).   Opponents also decry the Walker administration's support of a new voter-ID law requiring voters to have a suitable form of identification prior to voting as a means of curtailing voter fraud (of which there were many examples in the 2008 and 2010 cycles in Wisconsin).

This may be the first time in American history where a politician has faced recall, not for corruption, and not for failure, but for success in doing exactly what he promised to do.   And what are the Democrats really offering as an alternative:   "A vote for us is a vote for deficits, higher taxes, Cadillac benefits for public employees and teachers, and election fraud."   Is that really a platform that can win in Wisconsin?   If it can, then we are doomed.

Two notes on the 1 million signature figure seem in order.   First, of course that seems like a lot, and the Democrats (and their union bosses) clearly wanted to get to that number for PR value.   But there are roughly 4.3 million voting age residents of Wisconsin.   In the 2008 Presidential election, roughly 2.9 million people voted.   So the 1 million figure represents perhaps 35% of so of the likely voters, and around 23% of the voting age residents.    That won't be enough to defeat Walker, not even close.  

Second, of course the 1 million figure is inflated with fake signatures by "Mickey Mouse," by non-residents signing, by individual signing multiple times.   In California in 2003, when Gray Davis was recalled, eighteen percent of recall petition signatures were set aside as fraudulent.   Here I would suspect that the figure might be even higher.   But say 20% of the signatures are fraudulent.   Think what that says about the people supporiting the recall.   They hate the idea of losing their government benefit gravy train so much that they are willing to commit felonies!   Will any be prosecuted?   Why shouldn't there be an immediate call by Republicans for a federal investigation focused on the large-scale conspiracy to commit election fraud that is staring us in the face?

Finally, you can't defeat Walker, who has only gained support among Republicans and independents in Wisconsin, without running a good candidate against him.   Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett already lost big to Walker in the first go-around.   Other names touted are right out of the Madison left-liberal playbook: Kathleen Falk, the Dane County Executive; State Sen. Tim Cullen; Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca; State Sen. Jon Erpenbach.

 

Good Stuff from Marky Mark

Mark Wahlberg has become one of the Regular Son's favorite movie stars, after seeing The Fighter last year, and then Contraband just last weekend.   I think if he watches this interview, he'll like him even more.   Wahlberg is a devout Catholic who credits his faith for turning him around from a violent and criminal youth to a responsible and successful family man.   Good stuff.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shout Out to the Regular Wife!

The Regular Wife (pictured below) has apparently finished shoveling the driveway and walks.   Way to go, RW!



OK, so maybe that's a "mind's eye" kind of thing.   But she is a wonder!

Speaking of Sell-By Dates and Jumping Sharks

Jim Carrey turns 50 today.   Isn't he a little bit old to be doing.... nearly everything he's doing?


On the other hand, he's made a ton of money, so who's the fool in this scenario?   C'est moi, probably.

Girl of the Day - Zooey Deschanel

It's Zooey Deschanel's birthday today.   She turns 32, which strikes me as about the "sell by" date for her brand of 20-something cuteness.   I haven't seen her new show, The New Girl, and don't intend to... methinks she's jumping the shark. 

The Real Iron Lady

Forget about Meryl Streep.   This is the real Margaret Thatcher, handing it to the socialists in Parliament:





The formulation she articulates here, that the liberal politician would rather the poor be poorer, so long as the rich aren't richer, is a perfect rebuttal to the Occupy Wall Street mob.   Liberals are energized, not by sympathy for the poor, but envy toward the rich; they care less about making the lives of poor people better, and prefer to make demands and cast aspersions at those who have done well.   A perfect example is the minimum wage law -- liberals are happy to enact a law that keeps poor young black men in our inner cities from getting paying jobs, so long as some "rich" man (or even some relatively poor person who owns a shop in the city) doesn't "exploit" them.  

Hat tip:   Polipundit.

Blizzard!


It's snowing and blowing here in Milwaukee, as you can see.   Good day to do desk work; good day to go home and put the feet up by the fire; good day to cuddle with the kids and play Scrabble.   Bad day to be outside.   Naturally, the Regular Son, who is genetically and morally a good deal tougher than Dad (comes from his mother), is planning a run after school today.   Ah, youth!  (I probably shouldn't have let him watch Band of Brothers... he thinks he's in the 101st Airborne at Bastogne and should just tough it out!)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Birthday Today - Ethel Merman

It's Ethel Merman's birthday today.   Whenever I talk to my daughters about what it means to have a Broadway voice, I tell them about Ethel Merman:

Happy MLK Day

The Regular Guy is not big on Martin Luther King day.   It's not that I'm critical of MLK himself, it's just that it makes me a little mad that MLK day has become truly the only national holiday dedicated to an individual, while Lincoln's Birthday or Washington's Birthday are given short shrift as "President's Day," and even then it's mostly uncelebrated.  

Today, however, since our offices were closed, I took the Regular Family to the Milwaukee Public Museum to see an IMAX show on the Mysteries of Egypt (about the tomb of King Tut), and then for a stroll through an old-fashioned natural history museum replete with tableux of stuffed animals indigenous to North America, including a famous (in Milwaukee anyway) diorama of a buffalo hunt: 




Maybe it's me, but that sort of thing really gets me (maybe that's why Night at the Museum was such a big hit too). 

Anyway, the museum was packed with a lot of young families taking their kids out for the day, having fun looking at the stuffed animals, and a lot of those young families happened to be black.   And that brought home, better than any speeches or commemorations or politically-correct feature stories could, what the real message of MLK was -- that, underneath our skins, we're all the same.

In short, we're all members of the great race of Parents Looking for Something to Do With The Kids When School Is Out. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Girl of the Day - Faye Dunaway


Faye Dunaway turns 70 today, which is not necessarily a sign of Armageddon, but close.   Not really my type, Dunaway nevertheless was in a series of movies in the 1960s and 1970s that have only gotten better with time, including Bonnie and Clyde, The Thomas Crown Affair, Chinatown, Three Days of the Condor, and Network.   Great stuff,and she held her own with some great actors in some of their best performances:  Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, William Holden.   Thomas Crown and Condor are movies that I will watch whenever they are on, and Dunaway's entrance in Thomas Crown is one of the great movie/fashion moments of the 1960s:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sling Baby, Sling!

Hat tip to Powerline.   I don't know, maybe it's me, but this is hilarious:

On the Media's Treatment of the Marine Desecration Incident


There is a good deal of press hubbub about a video that came out this week showing American Marines urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters.   My view is captured by this statement by Allen West, retired Army lieutenant colonel (pictured above) and current Republican Congressman from Florida:

“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?
“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.
“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

Perspective.   Context.    Proportionality.   Common Sense.  

Girl of the Day - Penelope Ann Miller



Penelope Anne Miller turns 47 today, which probably won't make the network news.   A minor movie star, she was the right age to be someone I took notice of in my mid-20s as being sexy-cute or cute-sexy, i.e., not flat-out beautiful, but nice-looking and looking like she was nice.   A girl you might take home to meet Mom, in other words.   Actresses are an interesting breed, because, with rare exceptions, they tend to peak in their 20s and 30s and then disappear when ingenue and romantic roles dry up.   I also think the answer to the question "whatever happened to her?" is often that she went off to have a family and lost career momentum.   Much the same thing happens in other careers, though it's probably made more difficult in acting because, unlike law or medicine or business, if you try to get back in at age 40 after you've had your kids, there aren't many roles.   That's not a "glass ceiling," it's just reality.   Ms. Miller, for instance, had two daughters when she was 36 and 45, so that's where she was in the 2000s.

Her best performance was probably in the 1993 Al Pacino movie, Carlito's Way:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

$1.2 Trillion

President Obama has asked Congress for another debt ceiling increase, this time of $1.2 trillion.   If you read the article, it seems like everyone is treating this with a rather blasé attitude:

The request is largely a formality. It’s the third and final request the president is allowed under a deal the White House and lawmakers reached in August to prevent a government default.
 
But Republicans are likely to use the election-year request as an opportunity to criticize the president’s spending policies.

Congress has 15 days to reject the president’s request. The White House says Obama would veto any objections in order to avoid a default.

Obama originally planned to make this request in late December. But with Congress on vacation until mid-January, lawmakers asked Obama to delay his request so they could vote on the matter when they return.

I don't know.   Maybe it's just me, but I am not quite so calm about borrowing $1.2 trillion.   Hmmmm... there are approximately 150 million people in the workforce, working hard to support their families.    Of those, the top 10% pay roughly 70% of the federal income taxes.   So 15 million people are really carrying the load.    Let's say that $750 billion of the new borrowing is attributable to those 15 million people.   So Obama just blithely, in an article that doesn't even make the front page, asks the federal government, acting on behalf of the American people, to borrow roughly $50,000 per member of that top 10%.

I'm one of those guys.   He just spent about one-third of what's left on my mortgage, that I've been slaving to pay off in 15 years so I can maybe afford college for my kids.   And he'll do the same thing next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.  

Sheesh!   When will this crap stop?