"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, July 31, 2012

This Is What We've Come To

The Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Harry Reid, had this to say today:

Saying he had “no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy,” Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office.

“Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid recounted the person as saying.

“He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” said Reid. “But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?"

I repeat:   the Majority Leader of the United States Senate.   Who, by the way, hasn't beaten his wife for ten years.   How do I know?   Some anonymous guy told me.   Do I know that it's true that he hasn't beaten his wife for ten years?   Well, I'm not certain.  

Soon, God willing, to be the Minority Leader.

Milton Friedman

Free to Choose.   Probably the Wealth of Nations of the 20th Century.   Here is Friedman at the height of his powers in the late 1970s, giving the nation a master class in free enterprise and human freedom generally.   This set the stage for Reagan intellectually, and we would do well to revisit Friedman's teachings as we try to dig ourselves out of four years of Obamaism.

More on Chicago Values

Archbishop Francis Cardinal George of Chicago has this to say in an open letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life. The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage. This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages. Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6). Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society? One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free.

Strong stuff.   And commonsensical.   It is one thing to be in favor of gay marriage.   It is one thing to be, while not in favor of it, not strongly opposed or, like the Regular Guy, more focused on other things as political priorities.   It is an entirely different and illogical thing to label people who disagree with the gay marriage agenda as bigots who are beyond the pale for the simple crime of espousing beliefs that nearly all Americans took as given until very very recently.

Double Standards at the Olympics

A Swiss soccer player has just been sent home for tweeting a marginally racist message about the South Korean soccer team.   (By the way, we are reaching the point where the twin pillars of youth communication in the Internet age -- snarkiness and political correctness -- are coming almost daily into conflict in the ethersphere of Twitter and Facebook.   You can't be edgy and transgressive and, at the same time, observe all of the proprieties modern liberalism demands.)

Earlier, a Greek athlete was sent home for a marginally racist tweet too.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese judo team can, with impunity, refuse to practice in the same gym with Israelis.   And the IOC refuses to give a moment of silence in memory of the Israeli athletes slain at the 1972 Olympics.  

I'd say "Shame!" but no one would listen.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

The Regular Women and I saw Moonrise Kingdom over the weekend.   Really fun!   True, it's a naive cinematic version of a children's book.  But, heck, I like children's books!   It's also very, very funny and sweet.   We need more of that, methinks.   (To make perhaps too large a point, I don't see anyone dressing up and going into a theater with guns blazing about a Wes Anderson film.   Yet Hollywood continues to pump out the nihlistic violence.)

On Romney's Trip Abroad

So far on his trip abroad, Romney has:

1. Supposedly committed a "gaffe" in describing accurately logistical concerns about the organization of the London Olympics.   As discussed below, that "gaffe" is daily being revealed as a prescient prediction by a certified expert on running an Olympics.

2. Given a rousing pro-Israel speech that has Palestinians calling him a "racist" (meaning he said the exact right thing).

3. Gotten the endorsement of the most famous Pole, Lech Walesa.

For my money, that sounds like a great trip.

Church at Bernau

The Regular Guy can't help himself.   Here is the Regular Son's latest painting... this is of a Catholic church in Bernau, Germany.   Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

Girl of the Day - Nyree Dawn Porter

An actress of whom I had never heard, Nyree Dawn Porter, played the character of Irene in the 1967 BBC series The Forsyte Saga, which the Regular Family is watching.   It's awesome... just a step below I, Claudius and Brideshead Revisited, but just as good as Upstairs, Downstairs.   Irene is the cold fish wife of the colder, fishier lawyer Soames Forsyte.   This is not a still from the late Victorian Era show, needless to say.


A good GOP ad calling attention to President Obama's obvious priorities:

Can We Revisit the Romney Olympics "Gaffe" Yet?

When will the MSM apologize to Mitt Romney for calling his mild criticism of the organization of the London Olympics a "gaffe"?   Here's an article from the London Daily Mail talking about the ticketing scandal/fiasco at the Games, in which seats are empty and soldiers are being used, a la North Korea, to create the illusion of full houses.

And here's an article from CNN about the growing "storm" about tickets at the Olympics.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Left's Bizarre Position on Chick-fil-A's "Homophobia"

Democratic mayors of Chicago and Boston have recently taken the position that they would, if they could, deny business permits to Chick-fil-A restaurants because the owner, Dan Cathy, is a conservative Christian who believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and who therefore donates money to promote traditional marriage and to argue against legalizing gay marriage.   As readers of the Regular Guy may know, gay marriage does not make it very far up the list of things I get exercised about; it's not an issue that I'm ready to go the mattresses about.   To me, when there are 70% of black children being born out-of-wedlock, and a smaller, but growing percentage of white children, the institution of marriage has greater problems than just two dudes wanting to have a pretend wedding.   And, frankly, my nearly universal experience of gay colleagues and friends and neighbors is that they are decent normal friendly people.   It's hard to demonize them, and I won't.

That being said, these Democratic mayors have taken a bizarre position, essentially saying that it is beyond the bounds of decent society for businessmen who happen to be Christians to espouse beliefs about marriage that, until very recently, were held by nearly everyone, and, until a month or so ago, were the stated position of the Democratic President of the United States, Barack Obama.   Does Rahm Emanuel really want to pursue the logical end of his argument -- that, for instance, the Catholic Church does not represent "Chicago values," and should be run out of town on a rail?   I doubt it.   And, to go further, when will Emanuel speak out against the rampant homophobia of the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan?   Not very soon, I'll wager.   Most bluntly:   was Barack Obama in May 2012 someone who didn't represent "Chicago values" because of his position against gay marriage?   And, did Rahm Emanuel speak out against his former boss then?   If not, why not?

It is one thing to be on one side of a 50-50 argument about an issue, and to say that the other side is wrong.   It is entirely another thing, and bizarre, to be on one side of a 50-50 argument and to say that the other side has no right to even speak.   That's not what America is all about.

But then, the modern Democratic Party under Barack Obama has stood foresquare against so many traditional American values -- free enterprise, for instance -- that nothing surprises me anymore.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"You Didn't Build That" - The Deeper Context

A lot has been written about Obama's rant about Americans who own businesses -- the now infamous "you didn't build that!" speech.   And a lot has been written about the "context" of the statement, with Democrats trying to say he was just talking about the government's role in building roads and bridges so that businesses can get their goods to market, while Republicans point out that the context was even worse, with Obama castigating people who think they've made it because they were smart or worked harder than others.  The Regular Guy sides with the GOP -- the context really does make it worse.   And Obama's argument about how the government spends money on roads and bridges is a straw man -- (a) building tangible infrastructure is not bankrupting America, and no one is arguing against such expenditures; (b) spending money on entitlement programs is.   But the deeper context is not "just words," as Obama once said.   Consider the President's attempt to walk the statement back through a campaign ad:

What is Obama's mood here?  He is calm, friendly, smiling.   He is speaking softly.   Now contrast that with the "you didn't build that" speech:

I see a man who is angry, a man who has hate in his tone when he talks about Romney, or the rich, or businessmen who think they've made it because they are smart or worked hard.   "Let me tell you something... there's a lot of hard-working people out there."   The spite drips off those words.

Put aside how wrong this is as a matter of observing human nature -- there are actually a lot of lazy slobs out there who have failed because of their own failings, and there actually are hard-working people who have succeeded because of their own effort, and there really is a difference between working 0 hours a week while claiming a fake disability and mooching off your "baby mama" and working 100 hours a week to start a convenience store or a laundry in the inner city.   Put that aside.   Just as a matter of tone, this is off-putting to a lot of Americans, and, I suspect, to a lot of independent voters.   They liked the calm and unthreatening Obama, the hope and change Obama.   I don't think they'll like the angry, hateful, spiteful, demonizing Obama.   I know I don't.

And, somewhat more to the point, if you meet someone and know them casually in society and they seem like a friendly, soft-spoken person, but then you see them in a different context and they are screaming at their kids or their wife, or violently arguing with someone in their business... wouldn't it always occur to you that the real person is the angry one, and the fake is the soft-spoken friendly facade?  

That's the deeper context of Obama's "you didn't build that" comment.   It's the moment when the veil fell and we got to see the real Obama.   And it's not pretty.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Krauthammer Gets It Wrong For Once

Charles Krauthammer is one of the Regular Guy's favorite thinkers and commentators on politics, but I think he's got it dead wrong when he describes Mitt Romney's mild criticism of the security planning at the London Olympics as "dumb and gratuitous."   To the contrary: Romney is one of perhaps half-a-dozen individuals in the world who have run an Olympics.   He is a certified expert on the subject.  Therefore, he cannot simply give a bland "everything's fine," rah-rah opinion.   Here's why:  there really are problems with the London Olympics security.   If he says that everything's fine and, God forbid, it turns out to be a fiasco or, worse, there's a terrorist attack, that bland opinion saying "everything's fine" will be hung around his neck.   And, more generally, even if there isn't a big debacle, there will undoubtedly be stories over the next few weeks about logistical snafus, traffic snarls, etc.   Does Romney really want to be associated with having declared the planning to be great?   He has sold himself as the competent manager candidate.   That would make him look like he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Romney said the exact right thing.   He was honest.   There are problems with the London Olympics.   Krauthammer this time got it wrong.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Girls of the Day - All Brits, All the Time! (Helen Mirren, Kate Beckinsale)

Helen Mirren turns 66 today, Kate Beckinsale, 39.   We just last night watched Beckinsale in the movie version of Emma that came out a few years back (better than the Gwneth Paltrow version).   Two classy British gals.   But, for the important question:  who's hotter, a young Mirren, or Beckinsale?   My vote:  Mirren, hands down.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Girl of the Day - Laura Fraser of Breaking Bad

Not sure how big a character she'll be, but the nervous would-be mass murderer/loving mother Lydia, played by Laura Fraser, made a big splash in this week's episode of Breaking Bad.    I have a hard time seeing how the character survives, but we'll see.   "Mike" (Jonathan Banks) almost whacked her, then decided not to.

The Future is Now

Newsweek is apparently going to a digital-only publication.   We are reaching a tipping point where modes of getting information or entertainment of the past -- hard copy books, newspapers, magazines, TV news, broadcast television in general, in-theater movies -- are going to pass away like the dodo bird.   Within twenty years (maybe sooner), no one will even think of buying a hard copy of a book, a newspaper or a magazine, or watch a TV show at a specified time the broadcast network says it's "on," or go to a movie theater where, among other things, you have to be part of a crowd of people you don't know who might, oh, be carrying weapons.   Instead you will read and view everything on a handheld reading device/computer/phone, which in turn will interface with built-in wall screens in every room of your house wirelessly.

Newsweek is a lefty rag that was losing circulation because of its idiotic editorial policies anyway.   But that's not the only reason why it's dying.   Even if it were the best buggy whip magazine in the world, it's still rapidly becoming obsolete.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Recall to Nowhere

Wisconsin was the epicenter of national politics in early June when Democrats tried to recall Governor Scott Walker (and failed), and tried to recall State Senator John Lehman (and succeeded, flipping the Senate to a 17-16 Democratic majority).   Well, Democratic State Senator Tim Cullen has now resigned from the Democratic caucus, meaning that the Senate is back to being a 16-16 tie.

Why did we go through all that recall business?   Remind me.   

File This Under "Why Fewer and Fewer People Watch Network News"

By now you have heard of the epic failure of ABC News correspondent Brian Ross in reporting that a Jim Holmes living in Aurora, CO was a member of the Colorado Tea Party, only to recant hours later upon finding that that Jim Holmes was a fifty-something law-abiding citizen, while the perpetrator was a 24 year-old grad student.   Gabriel Malor provides useful context of the series of failed attempts by the MSM to pin violent acts on the Tea Party or conservative Republicans:

* September 2009: The discovery of hanged census-taker Bill Sparkman in rural Kentucky fueled media speculation that he’d been killed by anti-government Tea Partiers. In fact, he’d killed himself and staged his corpse to look like a homicide so his family could collect on life insurance.
* February 2010: Joe Stack flew his small plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. The media immediately suggested that the anti-tax rhetoric of the Tea Party led to the attack. In fact, Stack’s suicide note quoted the Communist Manifesto.
* That same month, a professor at the University of Alabama, Amy Bishop, shot and killed three colleagues at a faculty meeting. The gun-loving Tea Party came under immediate suspicion. But Bishop was a lifelong Democrat and Obama donor.
* March 2010: John Patrick Bedell shot two Pentagon security officers at close range. The media went wild with speculation that a right-wing extremist had reached the end of his rope. Bedell turned out to be a registered Democrat and 9/11 Truther.
* May 2010: New York authorities disarmed a massive car bomb in Times Square. Mayor Bloomberg immediately speculated that the bomber was someone upset about the president’s new health-care law. The media trumpeted the idea that crazed conservatives had (again, they implied) turned to violence. In fact, the perp was Faisal Shahzad, an Islamic extremist.
* August 2010: Amidst the debate over the Ground Zero Mosque, Michael Enright stabbed a Muslim cab driver in the neck. It was immediately dubbed an “anti-Muslim stabbing,” with “rising Islamophobia” on the political right to blame. In fact, Enright, a left-leaning art student, had worked with a firm that produced a pro-mosque statement.
* September 2010: James Lee, 43, took three hostages at the Discovery Channel’s headquarters in Maryland. The media speculation was unstoppable: Lee was surely a “climate-change denier” who’d resorted to violence. Oops: He was an environmentalist who viewed humans as parasites on the Earth.
* January 2011: Jared Lee Loughner went on a rampage in Tucson, Ariz. Again the media knew just who to blame: the Tea Party and its extremist rhetoric. In fact, Loughner was mostly apolitical — a conspiracy theorist who, to date, has been judged too mentally incompetent to stand trial.

For me, I don't really consider these examples to be conscious propaganda.   Perhaps some of them are the result of the media's suggestiblity -- liberal Democrats might effectively plant a story of right-wing extremism as the possible source of violence, and then the MSM will run with it.   But I think in most cases the real cause of these serial mistakes by the MSM is simply that reporters like Brian Ross aren't very smart.   These are people who have lived their lives within a very small cocoon of the news/entertainment industry, and who for the most part now live within a very small cocoon of liberal elite New York/Los Angeles/Washington.   They have almost no experience being friends with normal Americans who run small businesses, go hunting and fishing, own firearms, go to 4th of July parades, have family members in the military, and who struggle to do things like send their kids to parochial school when the government is taking 30-40% of everything they earn.   They are strangers, not fellow Americans.   And so they are easily demonized.   Thus, when a demonic act occurs, it's easy to blame it on people who are already demons in your world-view.  

On the other hand, why should people like me -- roughly the half of America who are conservative -- watch a news program delivered by people who aren't very smart who hate me?   Doesn't really seem like a feasible business model for a TV network. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Columbine Redux

A young medical school dropout has murdered more than a dozen people at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, and some are already trying to make political hay.   ABC, in the most shameful example, went on the air to report that the murderer had a connection to the Colorado Tea Party, only to have to recant minutes later when they learned that the gentleman they identified, though having the same name as the murderer, is a 52 year-old ex-law enforcement Hispanic, not a 24 year-old, as the suspect had already been reported to be.   Too good to check, as they say, so they ran with it, apparently suffering from the liberal elite belief that Tea Party members are psychopathic mass murderers waiting to happen.  

The reality, I'm fairly certain, is that the young man was suffering from manic depression/schizophrenia, and was simply very sick.   We will shortly find that there was nothing political whatsoever about this tragedy.  

Will that keep the media and the Democrats from exploiting it?   I doubt it.

Girl of the Day - More Elizabeth Bennett

More Jennifer Ehle, that is.   Here, a little bit older, but still just as scrumptious:

Birthday Today - Edgar Degas

Born in 1834.   Not in the upper pantheon of great artists, in my judgment, but, then again, we remember certain images and the style of Degas 150 years later, so he must have been doing something right.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Port of Los Angeles

Outsourcing?   We used to call that commerce, the never-ending process of entering new markets or seeking out new trade partners or, back in the really old days, "exploration."   Importing and exporting.   Buying low abroad and selling high at home.   Normal, routine, everyday business.   That's what Obama has been demonizing when he lambastes Romney for "oursourcing."

In this context, Kevin Williamson has a terrific note on The Corner:

I spent this morning at the Port of Los Angeles, one of the world’s great industrial sites. If you believe as I do that the division of labor is the foundation of civilization — something without which we are basically very, very clever monkeys — it is indeed a place of wonder, a head-clutchingly complex operation through which vast amounts of goods and vast sums of wealth travel, bringing Americans that to which we have become accustomed, i.e., all the best that the world has to offer....

It is also a place at which one can see a great number of young men and women making a very good living loading, unloading, trucking, and tracking cargo containers marked MAERSK and CHINA SHIPPING. Watching them at work, I could not help but think of President Obama’s recent anti-globalization rhetoric and Harry Reid’s ridiculously Sinophobic poppycock, and wonder: Why do the Democrats hate Los Angeles? And California? And truck drivers? And crane operators? And the logistics industry?

Birthday Today - Rick Ankiel

Maybe the most tragic baseball career ever.   He was going to be the next Sandy Koufax.   Then he blew up in the most spectacular fashion in the 2001 playoffs, throwing, if memory serves, five wild pitches in a single inning.   Then he fought his way back to the bigs as an outfielder and power hitter.   In 2008 for the Cards he hit 25 homeruns and looked like he would become a star.   Then, for a time, he couldn't hit the curve ball.   He's managed to hang on, but is a part-timer only, now with the Washington Nationals.   He turns 33 today.   When he was 20, he struck out 194 batters in 175 innings, going 11-7.   It looked like he was going to the Hall of Fame. 

Again, tragic.   Rick Ankiel is also probably my favorite player ever.   Sports are funny that way.

Girl of the Day - Jennifer Ehle

The Regular Wife and I have been watching classic BBC series with the Regular Son.   We've been through Brideshead Revisited and I, Claudius, and now we're on to Pride and Prejudice.   So, inevitably, the wondrous Jennifer Ehle:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sometimes You Miss It When the Something That Is Happening Is That Nothing Is Happening

It has occurred to me that there is an inherent contradiction in the Obama campaign in terms of its attitude toward "defining" Romney.   On the one hand, one of the major motivating psychological/emotional forces behind support for Obama in 2008 was that he was the "cool"/"hip" candidate, which only works if you paint your opponent as a "square."   That worked with John McCain -- no one would dare paint the war hero as a corrupted or corruptible sort, but you could paint him as a square.   And, on a certain level, that is how they've tried to play it with Romney.   He's a square -- you know, white-bread, Mormon, married to the same girl for forty-plus years, five white-bread sons, never a hint of sexual scandal, doesn't even drink.   You know:  square.   To be contrasted with the cool, hip, with-it Obama.

But they also recently have been trying to paint Romney, the square, the Dudley Do-Right, as somehow corrupt.   He won't reveal his tax returns.   What's he hiding?   The breathless innuendo -- is he a felon?  Why did he still sign  Bain SEC filings after he said he left to go run the Olympics?  Whispers, whispers, whispers.

The problem is that those two frames for the narrative don't really go together, do they?   Romney can't be both a square and a scheming wheeler-dealer.  

And, of course, neither narrative works very well anymore, because they both imply contrasts that either no longer obtain, or never did.   Romney the square is only contrasting if we assume that the mass of Americans still thinks Obama is hip or cool or exciting.   But they don't... he's an emperor-has-no-clothes bore.   You can practically see the eye-rolling when he launches into his canned teleprompter speeches.   People were once fainting.   Now they are looking at their watches and wondering if they can make it home in time for "Breaking Bad."

And the contrast of Romney as corrupt or dishonest really doesn't work unless Obama has a reputation for incorruptibility and probity.   But the mass of Americans don't think Obama is as clean as Caesar's wife; they think he's a typical Chicago pol.   They don't think he's honest; they know he's a liar.

So there are reasons beyond simply being false that the Romney as corrupt or dishonest narrative the Obama campaign has tried in the past few weeks won't work.   People may wonder about Bain.   They may wonder about why Romney won't release his tax returns.   But those things won't make them want to vote for Obama, because they won't make anyone conclude, against all evidence, that Obama is honest and selfless and good and true.

Anyway, the something that is happening in the title of this post is that nothing is happening in the polls.   The latest CBS/New York Times poll shows that, after weeks of pounding Romney with negative ads and hounding him about Bain and his tax returns, Romney holds a 47-46 lead in a poll of registered voters with a Democratic sampling of plus-6 (meaning that Romney is really way out ahead among likely voters if the 2010 even partisan split holds).   All that effort, and it hasn't moved anyone an inch.  

Girl of the Day - Elizabeth McGovern

The American-born wife of an English lord in Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern was an ingenue in Robert Redford's first movie, the Academy Award-winning Ordinary People, playing Timothy Hutton's girlfriend.   Next she was in Ragtime, for which she was a Best Supporting Actress nominee, and one of my favorites, Racing With the Moon (although I haven't seen it now going on 30 years).  It seemed as though she disappeared for awhile, but she was mostly appearing on British TV because she had married a British movie director and settled in the UK.   But she was right in the Regular Guy's wheelhouse when I was just out of college and going to a lot of movies.   She turns 51 today.

Romney and Geithner

Just a thought on the Romney tax returns kerfuffle.   Isn't the Secretary of the Treasury and, hence, the supervisor of the IRS, Timothy Geithner, who famously failed to pay self-employment taxes in the early 2000s while he was working at the International Monetary Fund? 

Meanwhile, what could we possibly learn from Romney's tax returns?   Two things that we would undoubtedly learn is that he pays more in taxes each year and gives more to charity each year than most people earn in their lifetimes.  

But he's right not to release them -- Obama would just demogogue that there were years where he paid very small percentages (undoubtedly for tax year 2008 and 2009 because of capital losses, and perhaps other years because of carry-forward treatment of losses from the market crash of 2000-2002).  And the media would spend the next month picking them apart, exhibiting a curiosity they have never had for the details of Obama's past.

Finally, again, it bears repeating that a man like Romney has extraordinarily complex personal finances, administered through a blind trust which undoubtedly has a corporate trustee and a silk-stocking law firm and a Big Four accounting firm.   The notion that a man at that level would have anything untoward in his tax returns after all that vetting is ludicrous.

Propaganda Versus Fact in Campaign '12

 The level of propaganda that Hollywood is contributing to the Obama campaign this time around is astonishing.   Frankly, it walks the line between protected free speech and valuable under-the-table in-kind contributions to the Obama campaign by what amount to unregistered PACs.   Consider the TV shows that have made it to your home screens:

  • Game Change - the unflattering HBO movie about the McCain-Palin campaign.
  • Veep - the unflattering HBO series about a ditzy female Vice-President.
Both would have had to have been "green-lit" at a time when Sarah Palin was a potential Presidential nominee on the Republican side.   Accidental?   I don't think so.

Then consider these:
  • Political Animals - the flattering ABC drama starring Sigourney Weaver as a female democratic Secretary of State who used to be married to a womanizing President (sound familiar?).
  • The Obama Effect - a new (and apparently dreadful) movie about how Obama's 2008 election changed one black man's life for the better.
Again, Hollywood is using fiction to present the Democratic candidates and regimes as noble.

On the other hand, there is Paul Kengor's new book, The Communist, about Obama's mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, a card-carrying communist/Stalinist journalist.   Or David Maraniss' new biography of Obama that pointed out so many falsehoods in his memoirs.   Or Stanley Kurtz' book about Obama, Radical-in-Chief, detailing his many connections to the ultra-left in Chicago.  

Do you think Kengor will even get a review in the New York Times?   Or an interview on Today?  

The mainstream media is serving the same function Goebbels served -- presenting noble falsehoods at the service of the regime, while suppressing embarrassing facts about that same regime.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Birthday Today - Jimmy Cagney

Born in 1899, Cagney, along with a very few others like Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, John Wayne -- a real pantheon -- were the heroes that dominated my youth in the 1960s through re-runs of their black-and-white movies.   For some reason -- OK, the obvious reason -- today's stars like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Tobey McGuire, Leo DiCaprio just don't have the same weight.   Doesn't it seem to say a lot that it's hard to imagine two or three of those 1930s and 1940s stars being able to kick the crap out of a dozen or so of today's nancy boys?   Doesn't Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible character look like a little boy next to Cagney's gangsters?

Anyway, Cagney, of course, was also a wildly talented tap dancer, here in a routine with the great Bob Hope:

Girl of the Day - More Daniela Hantuchova!

Five foot-eleven world-class tennis player blonde and with an accent?   That works!

Or:  it would work, if I weren't 53, short, balding, squatty, and married (very happily) to the Regular Wife.  :)  

Do You Want to Talk "Fairness"?

Harvard professor Greg Mankiw does!   Here's his calculation of the net tax burden by quintile of the population, meaning the percentage of one's income one pays in taxes net of transfer payments one receives.   In other words (his):

Because transfer payments are, in effect, the opposite of taxes, it makes sense to look not just at taxes paid, but at taxes paid minus transfers received.  For 2009, the most recent year available, here are taxes less transfers as a percentage of market income (income that households earned from their work and savings):

Bottom quintile: -301 percent
Second quintile: -42 percent
Middle quintile: -5 percent
Fourth quintile: 10 percent
Highest quintile: 22 percent

Top one percent: 28 percent

The negative 301 percent means that a typical family in the bottom quintile receives about $3 in transfer payments for every dollar earned.

This is where we are in America ca. 2012 -- in an undeclared war of moochers versus makers.




How exactly is a democracy founded on the concept of limited government to survive if more than half the people are net takers from the government trough?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Live by the Liberal Nanny State, Die by the Liberal Nanny State

Liberals Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney are upset that their concert was shut down by government lackeys enforcing a curfew ordinance.   Oh, boo-hoo.   When government regulations affect a small shop owner or a small manufacturing company (or big companies for that matter), do you think liberals in the entertainment industry bemoan the intrusiveness of the regulatory state Leviathan?   Liberals only like liberty when it's at the service of the things they think are "cool" -- sex, drugs, rock and roll.   For the rest of us trying to make a living, they don't care at all if government makes it harder.

Sorry, Bruce.   We still love you even if you're a political fool.

"If You've Got a Business -- You Didn't Build That"

The conservative blogosphere is going nuts -- rightly so -- about these comments from President Obama about success in America:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

See, I don't recall a lot of government "help" when my Dad started his business in the late 1960s.   I remember him quitting a good job as a top salesman for a chemical company, paying himself next to nothing (if I remember it correctly, he paid himself to start something like $600/mo.), putting his life savings at risk, borrowing against our house, getting his friends and parents to "invest" in his fledgling enterprise, getting his best friend to come into the business with him, also making next to nothing at first, convincing Mom to go back to work, first as a Special Ed teacher and then as a 5th grade teacher, to support us during those years, having us kids both do without a lot of things and occasionally help out with assembly jobs on the weekends.  

I remember him spending a lot of days and nights away from home traveling on business, oftentimes driving to plating businesses across the Midwest and South because some bath wasn't working properly because when you only have a few customer you have to go the extra mile to keep them.  

I remember summer months when the money was tight and we had a vegetable garden in the backyard -- more zucchini dishes than you could imagine.  

I remember him scraping and re-glazing and priming and painting every window in our old house almost every weekend in the summer (in St. Louis!) up on a ladder, because (I know this in retrospect) it was cheaper than hiring someone and cheaper than replacement windows.   I remember him teaching himself how to fix nearly everything, from the furnace to the air conditioner to the disposal, because there wasn't enough money to hire people to fix your things for you, and why would you if you could do it yourself.  

I also remember him ultimately hiring about twenty or thirty people to work in his small company, paying them good wages, giving them health benefits and a pension plan, and I remember that very few of them ever left working for my Dad, because the lives they had working for him were better than the lives they would have had otherwise.

I remember his funeral when people he had met in business, hundreds of them, paid their respects, and younger men whom I had never met told me that he had been their wise counselor when they were starting out.

But, try as I might, I just can't remember much by way of government "help."   Friends, sure; family, of course; his wife, my mom, always.   But not much from the government.

Oh, except for paperwork and taxes and hassling from the EPA because he was in a chemical business.

Obama's father was an academic; his mother was an academic; his life up to his political career was spent in academia or else in non-profit activity.   I doubt he's ever had a close family member who started a small business.  

He.   Knows.   Nothing.  

Seriously, I don't think anything this jerk has ever said has made me as mad as this.

It Can't Happen Here

Sinclar Lewis, the author of Babbitt and Main Street and other classics of American literature, wrote a bad but timely novel in the 1930s about the dangers of a fascist dictatorship taking hold in America called It Can't Happen Here.   The novel follows Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a charismatic and power-hungry politician, who is elected President of the United States on a populist platform, promising to restore the country to prosperity and greatness, and promising each citizen $5,000 a year.   Once in power, however, he becomes a dictator: he outlaws dissent, puts his political enemies in concentration camps, and creates a paramilitary force called the Minute Men who terrorize citizens.

Meanwhile, the Regular Son and Regular Wife and I have just finished watching the great old BBC series I, Claudius, about the tyrannical reigns of the series of Roman emperors from Augustus through Nero (including Caligula).   My takeaway:  the notion that deception, scheming, lying and even murder "can't happen here" in America is wishful thinking, human nature being what it is, and power corrupting the way power corrupts.  It has always been thus, going back 2,000 years and more.  

Here's my nightmare scenario then.   Obama is re-elected after running a mercilessly negative campaign in which he demonizes "the rich" and, by implication, much of white America.   He pushes us off the tax cliff on January 1, 2013, and, combined with defaults in the Eurozone, the oncoming debacle of Obamacare, and a recession in China, we fall into Depression Era conditions.   Given fifty years of victimology in America, a 15% unemployment rate is the trigger for riots and racial scapegoating -- there will be black-on-white murders and there will be white-on-black murders, and no one will remember who was retaliating against whom.   Meanwhile the real "rich" will begin moving assets offshore and the middle class will descend into a quiet anarchy, including massive tax avoidance (more massive than now) and gun purchases.   At some point Obama will declare a national emergency and begin ruling through fiat and executive order (even more so than he does now).   Imagine, for instance, an executive order in which Obama, in order to maintain funding for social programs at a time of high unemployment and low revenues (in part because of tax avoidance, in part because of a continuing horrible economy), declares that the federal government will confiscate 50% of all 401k assets, and 100% of all such assets over $1 million dollars, demogoguing this massive theft as "fairness" in taxing only the "rich."   Or imagine an executive order where Obama, rather than outlawing gun purchases (illegal under the Second Amendment), places a 10,000 percent sales tax on gun sales (legal under the now expansive, post-Roberts taxing power), effectively making legal gun purchases impossibly expensive for most people.   Or imagine a scenario where he declares by executive order, not just tha the won't prosecute illegal aliens, but that henceforth all illegal aliens are American citizens with full voting rights, demogoging this naked power grab as "fairness" and "civil rights," and labeling all who disagree as "racists."

It can't happen here?   I hope not.   And I still think this is an unlikely scenario.  But if we don't beat Obama in 2012, it becomes more likely.

Bain and Lawyers

Here is how cynical the Obama campaign is in attacking Romney as a potential "felon" for having signed his name to SEC filings for Bain Capital after he had left active management of the firm in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City Olympics.   Consider:

1. The highest levels of any Presidential campaign in the modern era is populated by a high percentage of talented lawyers.

2. These lawyers are inevitably drawn from the top-tier, silk-stocking law firms of Washington and New York.  

3. Such law firms derive a disproportionate share of their income from servicing corporate clients, and especially publicly-traded corporations that routinely report to the SEC.

4. Ergo, the lawyers in the Obama campaign know as a fact that before any significant corporation -- and Bain Capital would qualify -- makes a filing with the SEC, that filing is vetted down to the comma by highly-trained and capable corporate lawyers whose job it is to make sure that the company, including all of the company's signatories, are complying with federal securities laws.

5. Ergo, the lawyers in the Obama campaign knew that the SEC filings by Bain to which they are calling attention were documents that had been thoroughly vetted by attorneys -- perhaps some in their own firms.

6. Ergo, the lawyers in the Obama campaign know that the Bain attack on Romney is a cynical lie.   They also know that there is no merit whatsoever in the insinuation that Romney could or would ever be charged criminally for signing routine SEC filings more than a decade ago.   But they are going ahead with it anyway, because they don't have anything else to run on.

And we wonder why people hate lawyers.

Birthday Today - Sir Joshua Reynolds

The great British portrait painter of the 1700s, often of military heroes of the Empire.   Here is his Lord Keppel: 

Girls of the Day - Hard to Beat (Barbara Stanwyck and Ginger Rogers)

Hard to beat the actresses who were born today for Girls of the Day:  Barbara Stanwyck (1907) and Ginger Rogers (1911).  

They don't make them that way anymore.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Logic 101: Bain v. Fast and Furious

President Obama recently said in an interview that Romney, as chief executive, has to take responsibility for what occurred at Bain on his watch:

SCOTT THUMAN: What about Bain Capital? It’s a big issue for the past 24 hours right now. Mitt Romney’s campaign says he left in ’99, yours says it’s 2000, there’s a significant difference, is he being dishonest with the American public?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, here’s what I know, we were just talking about responsibility and as president of the United States, it’s pretty clear to me that I’m responsible for folks who are working in the federal government and you know, Harry Truman said the buck stops with you.
Now, my understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital and I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does.
Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions, because if he aspires to being president one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations, but again that’s probably a question that he’s going to have to answer and I think that’s a legitimate part of the campaign.

Putting aside the undisputed fact that Romney was on a leave of absence during the period in question when Bain supposedly was "outsourcing" jobs, and that, during that period, he was doing a good thing -- saving the Salt Lake City Olympics -- consider this logic.

1.  If Romney is responsible as a chief executive for outsourcing by his company, Bain.

2.  Then Obama is responsible as a chief executive for gunrunning by his agencies in the Fast and Furious program in which more than 2,000 weapons were "walked" to Mexican drug cartels for reasons that have never been explained.

3. So Romney is responsible for a private business doing something that is legal.

4. While Obama is responsible for the federal government doing something that is illegal.

How exactly does this analogy help Obama? 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lest We Forget

The Poles hit a home run with this new statue in Gdansk of Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan, commemorating their triumph in ending Soviet domination of Eastern Europe:


Friday, July 13, 2012

Everything's Up!

Unemployment?   Up.
People on food stamps?   Up.  
People on disability?   Up?

Now, apparently, President Obama wants more people on welfare, since he's effectively repealed the 1996 welfare reform enacted under President Clinton.

Hey, didn't Al Gore once complain that everything was up that should be down?

It's Coming!

Get ready for Sunday night!

Bain and Kenya and Cocaine

The Obama campaign has tried to make hay out of the question of whether Mitt Romney still was active at Bain Capital during a period when it may have "outsourced jobs," a period, 1999-2002, when Romney was leading the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.   As I've said before, so what?   A private equity firm is in business to make money.   If they chose to move operations overseas for cheaper labor costs or better tax treatment, good for them.  

On the other hand, if Obama wants to start making comparisons... when Romney was running the Olympics, Obama was a hack Illinois state senator (the most corrupt state in the country), voting "present" and a parti-time lecturer at a law school who never published a single law review article.   And, if we really want to talk about whether documents show that Romney was more involved at Bain than he's said, let's recall that documents during the same time frame -- Obama's publisher's bio for him -- also state that Obama was born in Kenya.  

And, of course, if the Obama campaign wants to insinuate that Romney is a "felon" for falsifying information to the SEC (he's not, this charge is ridiculous)... let's remember that Obama's own memoir admits cocaine usage, which is a felony.   There are literally millions of young black men in federal and state prison today because of America's drug laws... what must they think when a preppie Ivy Leaguer like Obama gets to coopt street cred by admitting being a pothead in high school and a coke user in college?

Condi for VP?

The idea of Condoleeza Rice as Romney's pick for Vice-President is being floated as a trial balloon.  

The sad truth is that this makes some sense in a world where we are all programmed to consider diversity as a main criterion for position.   I do not mean to say that Condi Rice is unqualified.   I just mean to say that the reason she would be considered a "game-changing" selection is that she is (a) black and (b) a woman.   Selecting her might innoculate Romney against what would be the inevitable charges of being out of touch as a rich white guy (weirdly, if you're a successful white businessman in a country that has almost always been led by successful white businessmen you're now "out of touch"; you would think it would be the opposite).   It might also be a preemptive move, with the concern that Obama is going to dump Biden and replace him with Hillary Clinton to have the first "no white men need apply" ticket.

On the other hand, here's Peggy Noonan relating a recent story:

When conversation turned to the vice presidential nominee, I said we all know the names of those being considered, spoke of a few, and then said Condoleezza Rice might be a brilliant choice.

Here spontaneous applause burst forth.

Consider: A public figure of obvious and nameable accomplishment whose attainments can't be taken away from her. Washington experience—she wouldn't be learning on the job. Never run for office but no political novice. An academic, but not ethereal or abstract. A woman in a year when Republicans aren't supposed to choose a woman because of what is now called the 2008 experience—so the choice would have a certain boldness. A black woman in a campaign that always threatens to take on a painful racial overlay. A foreign-policy professional acquainted with everyone who's reigned or been rising the past 20 years.

I should add here the look on the faces of the people who were applauding. They looked surprised by their own passion. Actually they looked relieved, like a campaign was going on and big things might happen and maybe it could get kind of . . . exciting.

On the other other hand, here's  Ramesh Ponnoru at NRO arguing against Rice as a pick:

Her selection would seriously offend many social conservatives — possibly enough to depress their turnout. In general, I think claims that conservatives will stay home in this election are overblown: Opposition to President Obama is running pretty hot. A vice-presidential nominee who is “mildly” in favor of letting a million unborn children be killed every year, though, would be one of the few things that would make this scenario plausible. Keep in mind, she would be the first pro-choicer on a Republican ticket since Roe v. Wade — unless she flipped and made herself look like a political hack just as the country was being introduced to her as a candidate.... Romney would be nuts to pick Rice.

Girl of the Day - Aubrey Plaza

The family triumverate (The Regular Guy, The Regular Wife, The Regular Son) went sans the Regular Daughters last weekend (too little for R-rated movies) to see the indie film Safety Not Guaranteed.   Pretty good, not great, typical indie film with better than usual dialogue and character and goofy plot and somewhat banal themes (we'd all like to find a way to be able to fix our past mistakes).   Anyway the star is Aubrey Plaza of TV's Parks and Recreation (never seen it).   She's a little odd-looking, but very talented and appealing:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Outsourcing Argument

I guess from a political perspective it matters for Mitt Romney to be able to argue that he didn't "outsource" jobs while at Bain.   But it would be helpful for the sake of intellectual clarity for someone to mention that no one "sends jobs overseas" to injure Americans.   A business owner might choose to build a factory overseas and hire overseas labor because doing so is cost-effective, and therefore beneficial to his shareholders, to whom he owes a fiduciary duty.   But he would do so only where the economics of doing so made sense.   If the economics made sense to build a factory in America and hire Americans, he would do so, again because he would owe it to his shareholders to maximize their profits.   But there are, in fact, not only jobs Americans won't do, but jobs Americans shouldn't do -- this is the theory of "comparative advantage" in economics, where higher-skilled workers who can add more value utilizing those skills should do so, while lower-skilled workers should be hired (wherever they may be) to do jobs that require only lower skills.   Oftentimes manufacturing goods overseas using lower cost labor has the effect of lowering the end price for American consumers, which is all to the good.   Democrats sometimes think the world would be great if everything was "made in America" using high-wage, high-benefit union jobs; but, then, average Americans would be paying much more for the goods they want.   (This is somewhat analogous to the liberal environmentalist who wants everyone to eat "organic" vegetables grown without any herbicides or pesticides.   Well, fine, but the result will be that average people will eat fewer vegetables, and poor people around the world would starve.)

Oh, and by the way, when Romney was at Bain he owed a fiduciary duty to his shareholders and investors, period.   He was a private citizen running a private business.   He wasn't obliged to keep any jobs in America if it was bad for his investors.    But Barack Obama is the President.   He owes a fiduciary duty to the American people.   So when stimulus money went to manufacture electric cars in Finland for Fisker, in my view he was breaching that duty.

Take a Step Back and Think About It

Obama beat McCain by 53-46, seven points.   That was a little over 9 million votes.   So Romney needs to either get 4% of Obama's voters to switch; or he needs to get some to switch and get more Republican turnout and less Democratic turnout.    He needs five million more, and he needs Obama to get five million less.   It's that simple, and it's very doable:

1. In 2008 a crashing economy was blamed on the then-current President, a Republican.   In 2012 there's no Bush on the ballot.   Whatever is happening now in the economy, it will be blamed on Obama.  

2. In 2008 the Democratic electorate was energized by the opportunity to vote for the first-ever African-American Presidential candidate.   They won't be as energized in 2012, not even close.

3. In 2008 the Republican candidate was a tired re-tread, McCain.   Romney is better already, and he's getting better too.

4. In 2008 Obama was hailed as a charismatic speaker, an orator of Lincoln/Churchill/MLK stature.   Does anyone think that anymore?   Aren't a lot of people embarrassed by the gushing over this lightweight?   Even if that's too harsh, will his act really play as well the second time around?

5. In 2008 Obama ran as someone who would unite America and pacify the world through the strength of his personal magnetism.   After four years of divisive, mean-spirited, us-against-them rhetoric, will anyone argue that Obama is a bipartisan uniter?   With Russia sending ships to Syria and Israel poised to attack Iran's nuclear labs, does anyone think the world is safer?   That America's reputation abroad is stronger?

6. Obama's race, charisma, oratory skill, and the adulation of the media made him hard to dislike in 2008, or at least hard to dislike openly.    Republicans were understandably disheartened, and didn't turnout to vote in the same numbers they did in 2004 or 2000.   Obama's easy to dislike now.   Republicans despise him and everything he stands for -- elitist academic know-nothing leftism.   They will turn out in droves to throw him out.

So put aside the issues -- Fast and Furious, Solyndra, bowing to foreign leaders, $5 trillion in new debt, Obamacare, tax demogoguery, 100 rounds of golf while there's 8% unemployment -- put all that aside.   Just structurally: 

Obama isn't the Messiah anymore.   We know him.   We've taken his measure.

Romney isn't McCain.  

2012 isn't 2008.

Girl of the Day - Fiftysomething Version (Mel Harris)

Mel Harris was the central character in what in retrospect seems like a harbinger of the whining white elite liberal culture we have today, the late 1980s show, thirtysomething.   She turns 56 today.   Tempus fugit.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Let's Assume for a Minute That Obamacare Is a Great Thing We Should All Want

OK, let's assume that Obamacare is a great thing, a boon to man, something that no thinking person would want if they could afford it.   The problem is...

We.   Can't.   Afford.    It.   

Here's a telling chart.    People forget that one of the sleights-of-hand used to sell Obamacare was that it would only cost $900 billion (only!) over ten years.... I get it, less than a trillion!.   What a bargain.   But to get there, Obamaa had to start counting from FY 2009, when the bill wouldn't go into effect until 2014.   The actual ten year estimated cost is now supposed to be $2.6 trillion.

And, of course, the $2.6 trillion assumes that the government's estimates for what this particular social spending/welfare benefit/new entitlement program will cost are completely, totally, 100% accurate, and not wildly skewed to come up with the lowest possible figure for political consumption by a gullible public.   If Obamacare behave like every other entitlement program, it will end up costing much, much more than promised.   But, even assuming they're right, it still ends up adding roughly $250 billion a year to the federal budget, when we are already over-spending by more than a trillion every year.   Does it really make sense to borrow another quarter of a trillion dollars a year from China to fund a new entitlement?   Would any rational country -- i.e., one that isn't embarked upon a campaign of national suicide to rival anything Gibbon ever could have imagined for Rome -- do such a stupid thing?

I don't think Obamacare is a boon to man.   I think it will ruin the healthcare system in America, lower the quality of care, increase waiting lines, end in rationing and, inevitably, a regime of quasi-state-mandated euthanasia.  It's that bad.   But even if it were good...

We.   Can't.   Afford.    It.

It's that simple.

Alert the Media - Ultra-Liberal Black Democratic Activists Probably Don't Like Romney

Apparently the big story of the day is that the NAACP audience for a speech today by Mitt Romney booed when he stated what he's been stating everywhere else when he speaks -- that he would repeal Obamacare.   Meh.   When ultra-liberal black Democratic Party insider/activists act like, well, ultra-liberal black Democratic Party insider/activists, it's not really news.

Romney gets some kudos for giving a speech he had to give -- he would have been blasted had he declined the invitation -- without making any gaffes, at least as far as I can tell today.   Maybe the media will find one if they look hard enough... they can always manufacture something if they ask enough people whether they were offended by anything Romney said.   But he gets this out of the way relatively early in the campaign, so that's a good thing.

Of course, given the unemployment rate for black Americans of 14.4%, you'd think some of the members of the NAACP might rethink their allegiance to the Democrats.


Another Reason to Watch Mad Men

Mad Men star Jon Hamm was at the All-Star Game Celebrity Softball event and apparently he's a huge St. Louis sports fan, something I did not know.   Pretty cool.

Girl of the Day - Daniela Hantuchova

Ranked #33 in the world in tennis, but #1 in ESPN's "body issue" this week (you know, the issue where they get world class athletes to pose in tasteful semi-nudes in a blatant attempt to juice circulation).   I liked this shot better anyway.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The VP Race

There's a rumor going around that Romney has his short list for VP down to four names:  Pawlenty, Portman, Ryan and Jindal.   If that's the case, it's Portman.   Here's why.

1.  Pawlenty.   Pawlenty would be a good choice.   He's been a governor, he comes from a swingable state (barely), Minnesota.   He's likeable (although his own presidential campaign didn't take off).   But... the thing about Pawlenty is that main thing he was known for in his short campaign was a half-assed attempt to blast Romney for Romneycare, calling it at one point "Obamneycare."    We can't afford having commercials blasting in swing states saying "Romney's own running mate said X."   Add to that the fact that Minnesota would be a good "get," but if we get Minnesota, we've already won, and I don't see what Pawlenty adds.

2. Ryan.   I love Paul Ryan.   I love him as the face of the party for budgetary issues.   I'd love for him to run for President in eight years (after two terms of Romney).   But I don't want him this year as VP.   I think he's been labeled by the MSM as the right's archdruid who wants to cut everything to the bone.   I agree with him on all of that, but politically I think he would be a liability.  He's also young and doesn't have any executive experience... not ideal.   And, again, if we get Wisconsin, we've already won.   (P.S. We are going to win Wisconsin this time around, but we'll do so without Ryan at the top of the ticket because of the energy in the state coming from the Governor's office, and because we'll have a strong Senate candidate for Herb Kohl's open seat, former Governor Tommy Thompson.)

3. Jindal.  I also love Bobby Jindal.   He's my second choice for VP, and he'd destroy (I mean de-f'in-stroy) Slow Joe Biden in debates.   He's that smart.   And he'd add some diversity to the ticket as the son of Indian immigrants, and perhaps insulate Republicans on the immigration issue.   But he's young, and the pick might smack a little bit of desperation a la Sarah Palin... something to heighten the drama, attention-seeking, etc.   And, Republicans are going to win Louisiana easily anyway, so I don't know what he adds from an Electoral College perspective either.)

That leaves Portman.   Mature.   Check.  Experienced.   Check.   Able to be President.   Check.   Executive experience.   Not so much, although he did hold two essentially cabinet-level positions in the Bush administration as director of OMB and U.S. Trade Representative.   And, as the Senator from Ohio, he could help reel in the ultimate swing state, the must-have state, the can't-do-without-it state.   Rubio would do a similar trick in Florida and help with Hispanic voters, but he's short on experience after only two years in the Senate.   So it's Portman.

Or it's a surprise, someone we haven't even thought about yet.   

Food Stamp Nation

A terrific article by Rich Lowry at NRO about how we've become food stamp nation.   The data is bad enough:

The modern welfare state lives by the same credo. About 17 million people received food stamps back in 2000. Some 30 million received them in 2008. Roughly 46 million people receive them today. From 1 in 50 Americans on food stamps at the program’s national inception in the 1970s, 1 in 7 Americans are on them now.

This gibes with the tripling of federal disability rolls I've talked about before.   Are we starving more than we were 12 years ago?   Are we more disabled?   Or are we rapidly becoming a Spain-Italy-Greece nation of welfare benefit scam artists?

But here is the thing from the article that jumps out at me.   Lowry notes sardonically that the Obama Administration has been running radio ads seeking to get more people on food stamps.   That's bad enough.   But the apparent rationale in the ad -- the sales pitch -- is that going on food stamps is a way to lose weight!

Now, maybe it's heartless, but in my view, if you're already fat, you (a) haven't required my assistance to buy food in the past; and (b) don't require it now.  

But I couldn't really believe this, so I got on the Internet to see if I could find a tape of the actual broadcast.   Here it is:

P.S.   The federal food stamps program gives out an average of $133 per month -- $1600 a year -- to 46 million Americans.   That's about $75 billion a year.   And the people in the government's ad are giggling about how they're on food stamps!   Like they know they're getting away with something.

The Obama Paradox

This data was frankly surprising to me:

When Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate for white men who were 25-54 years old, i.e., in their prime earning years (the Regular Guy is 53... better get moving!), was 8.1% at the trough of the recession.   In June 2012 it is back down to 5.9%.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for blacks, which was 12.7% when Obama took office, has actually gone up to 14.4% in June 2012.   The unemployment rate for Hispanics, which was 10.0% when Obama took office, was up to 11.0% in June 2012.   And the unemployment rate for young people, ages 16-24, which was 14.9% in January 2009, is now up to 16.5% as of last month's jobs report.   All of this can easily be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics web page.

Why do these groups -- blacks, Hispanics, young people -- continue to support Obama, when his regime has so obviously been bad for them?

The real Obama record reflects government that is at the service of the professional elites, the business elites, the governmental elites, the union elites, the politically-connected.   In other words, middle-aged white dudes.


Washington Post Poll and Michael Gerson

The Washington Post is out with a poll today that, even with a +9 split of Democrats to Republicans among registered voters, shows Obama and Romney tied at 47-47.   This is very, very bad news for the President.  

First, even in the wave year for Democrats of 2008, with Obama in full "hope and change" mode and running to become the first African-American president against a highly dispirited Republican party which didn't really like their own candidate, John McCain, the electorate was only +7 Democrats.   In 2010, a wave year for Republicans, the split was even.   There is no way Democrats are as enthused this year as they were in 2008, and it is likely that an even greater Republican enthusiasm will emerge in 2012 when voters have a chance to vote against Obama himself and not just his Congressional surrogates.   If there is an even split among Dems and Republicans, it is likely that Romney would be well in the lead.

Second, this is registered voters.   Polls of likely voters are always more Republican, for the simple reason that Republicans tend to be responsible adults who actually go vote.   So Romney probably picks up a couple of points there too.

No wonder Post columnist Michael Gerson is so dour:

Obama is showing signs of ideological exhaustion. He seems incapable of producing an economic agenda equal to his political challenge.

The administration is left with one main self-justification: Financial panics cause longer downturns and slower recoveries. This is historically correct, but not the primary issue. The relevant question: Has Obama accelerated or slowed the recovery?

Obama is not responsible for the euro-zone crisis or the softening of the Chinese economy. But he has done several things to hinder American recovery. “He turned a temporary expansion of government, through TARP and the auto bailouts, into a permanent expansion of government,” argues Keith Hennessey of the Hoover Institution. “Government, measured by federal spending, is this year about 15 percent bigger than the historical average, measured relative to the economy. . . . This drains resources from private firms and individuals and means slower productivity growth.”

Obama’s major regulatory initiatives, particularly Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial reform, have added to economic uncertainty. Businesses are waiting for the implications of these laws to become clear, and federal rules to be written, before making investment choices. At the same time, the Obama administration has failed to make tough calls and secure legislative compromises on a variety of issues — the federal debt, future tax rates, the Keystone XL pipeline — that might remove sources of economic uncertainty. Instead, we get short-term policy extensions on large policy matters.

Given both the state of the economy and his policy performance, the buoyancy of Obama’s polling is a political marvel. But a portion of this depends on doubts about Mitt Romney, which can be eased. A humanizing Romney convention speech, some reassuring debate performances, a few innovative policy proposals appealing to Latinos or suburban women — and Romney becomes a more broadly imaginable president.

In this case, Obama could well suffer a Carter-like collapse, circa 1980. Not because of an ideological shift but a simple, collective judgment: He did not deliver recovery.

Now Gerson is no liberal -- he used to work at the Heritage Foundation, for Pete's sake!   But he does work now at the Washington Post, so he's conservative in the same way David Brooks is conservative at the New York Times -- he's the type of conservative Washington types will invite to their cocktail parties.   The upshot is that I think he's channelling what appears to be some real panic in the liberal establishment in Washington.

The Chicago Way

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is coming under fire because of Chicago's soaring murder rate, which has gone up 38% this year.   On the micro-level, I don't think Emanuel should be blamed.   He didn't create the dysfunctional south side of Chicago, where gangs essentially rule.   But, on a macro-level, it is important to note that Chicago is a city that has long been governmed by liberal Democrats, and which, on the South Side, has served as a laboratory for "community organizers" in experimenting with changing inner-city urban neighborhoods.   On that level, since we are going to spend four more months talking endlessly about Mitt Romney's successes in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in his chosen line of work, is it fair to note that Barack Obama's chosen work as a community organizer in Chicago now appears to have been an abject failure?

Obama '12:  Trying to Do for America What I Did for Chicago!

Girl of the Day - Obscurity Version (Sue Lyon)

This one is a bit obscure.   Sue Lyon was a starlet of the 1960s who famously starred in Lolita with James Mason, and less famously (except to me) was the ingenue opposite George C. Scott in one of my favorite movies as a kid, The Flim-Flam Man.

Ms. Lyon turns 66 today.

Obama's Bundlers

Don't believe anything you hear from the Obama campaign about Bain Capital or private equity or Wall Street.   Here are the biggest bundlers for the Obama campaign, people who have each arranged for contributions in excess of $1 million.   In the top five, four are individuals employed by Ariel Capital Management, Jordan Real Estate Investments, HBJ Investments, and Grosvenor Capital Management.  (The fifth and biggest bundler is Jeffrey Katzenberg of Hollywood fame.)   A casual Internet search reveals that these are a mutual fund company, a real estate company that also does private equity investments (i.e., buys companies like Bain Capital), another investment company, and a hedge fund.  

Hypocrisy alert!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Are You Man Enough?

There's a point in the great scene from Glengarry Glen Ross where the real estate executive is laying into his soon-to-be-fired salesmen with the caustic comment that there is money laying around out there and "are you man enough to pick it up?"   Well, there's wealth out there in America waiting to be picked up -- wealth in natural gas, oil shale, convential oil reserves, and offshore oil.   Here is a summary from Walter Russell Mead, one of my favorite bloggers:
While the chattering classes yammered on about American decline and peak oil, a quite different future is taking shape. A world energy revolution is underway and it will be shaping the realities of the 21st century when the Crash of 2008 and the Great Stagnation that followed only interest historians.  A new age of abundance for fossil fuels is upon us.  And the center of gravity of the global energy picture is shifting from the Middle East to… North America.

The two biggest winners look to be Canada and the United States. Canada, with something like two trillion barrels worth of conventional oil in its tar sands, and the United States with about a trillion barrels of shale oil, are the planet’s new super giant energy powers. Throw in natural gas and coal, and the United States is better supplied with fossil fuels than any other country on earth. Canada and the United States are each richer in oil than Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia combined....

The other important change in the new world energy picture is one I wrote about earlier this week: Israel’s potential emergence as a major oil and gas producer. With trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, and potentially as much as 250 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil, Israel may be on the verge of joining the wealthiest Arab states as a world class energy producer.

These changes won’t take place overnight, but they are coming faster than many understand. US domestic oil production is up almost half a million barrels a day thanks to North Dakota, and the surge in US natural gas production is already changing international trade patterns. More change will come.

As I wrote a few days ago:   "America has enough energy to create an economic Golden Age... no civilization in history has ever turned its back on its own wealth in such an irrational way."  Are we men enough to pick it up?

Shameless Page Count Hype -- More Lolo Jones!

The Regular Guy Believes got a big boost a couple of weeks ago in page counts with a picture of Olympic track athlete Lolo Jones.   Far be it from me to shamelessly hype the blog, but, well, what the hell.   Think of it as being for America!

Girl of the Day - Kelly McGillis

Somewhat alarmingly, Kelly McGillis (Tom Cruise's love interest in Top Gun) turns 55 today.   But forget Top Gun, McGillis' best role was in a very fine movie directed by Peter Weir and co-starring Harrison Ford called Witness:

FYI, McGillis late in life, and after two failed marriages with two children, came out as a lesbian.  Meh.   Who cares? 

All You Need to Know

The reality is that there are "low information" voters out there who are not yet focused on the Presidential campaign.   So don't worry too much about polls showing Obama and Romney still neck-and-neck.  In the next four months people will start to focus on one question:  Did Obama do the job of President well enough to be re-elected?   I don't see how the answer to that question is anything but a resounding No.

Those aren't the results on jobs that the American people had a right to expect, period.   And Obama's recent lament that he "tried really hard" won't satisfy or convince very many adults.