"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

Friday, November 30, 2012

More Old Ladies from the Regular Son's Sketchbook

The Hammer Wants to Walk

When Charles Krauthammer speaks, conservatives listen.   He's joining the "go ahead and walk" chorus regarding negotiating with Obama the Arrogant:

Girl of the Day - Elisha Cuthbert

Not sure what she's been doing since 24... but I can say:  Not enough.

Elisha Cuthbert turns 30 today.  

Last Day of Movember

The Regular Son is growing a moustache.   How I got to the point where I have a son who is growing a moustache is beyond me.   It seems like last week his was pushing Thomas the Tank Engine toys around the floor.

Anyway, kid, for your edification, this is what you're going for:

Guns, Ammo, Canned Goods, Bottled Water, Generators and Gasoline

Our computers were out at work today.   They just came back up.   Basically out for 3-4 hours, and the place practically shut down.  

My comment to one of the secretaries (only half facetious):  

If the computers went out completely, I'd give us two weeks before we're shooting each other in the streets for food.

The fragility of interdependent systems that no one fully understands.   Get used to it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Socialist Party

Hmmmm... not too hard to figure out who the label fits.

Although, rather than castigate the Democrats too much, we might want to ask why 23% of Republicans or Republican leaners have a positive image of socialism.   They don't call us the "Stupid Party" for nothing.

We Have Become a Silly People

Victor Davis Hanson and Michael Barone have terrific articles up on NRO about two areas in which we have become a silly people.  

Hanson writes about the "t-ball" mentality of attitudes in the West toward the war between Israel and Hamas:
In terms of the Middle East, contemporary T-ball war works out like this: A far weaker Gaza sends a shower of missiles into Israel, hiding its launchers among civilians to ensure collateral damage and favorable propaganda during Israeli retaliation.

Israel, with its technological savvy, knocks down most of the incoming rockets, but then responds by killing far more Palestinians in Gaza than it lost inside Israel. That is considered unsportsmanlike play. In a fair T-ball fight, Israel should have stopped the war when the losses were equal and not tried to run up the score.
We didn't think this way when we were raining bombs on Berlin or Dresden or Tokyo or Hiroshima.   War was about winning because our side represented the good and the other side represented evil.

Meanwhile, Barone savages the idiocy of contemporary colleges:
Those who graduated from college before the late 1980s may not realize that speech codes have become, in Lukianoff’s words, “the rule rather than the exception” on American campuses.

They are typically vague and all-encompassing. One school prohibits “actions or attitudes that threaten the welfare” of others. Another bans e-mails that “harass, annoy or otherwise inconvenience others.” Others ban “insensitive” communication, “inappropriate jokes,” and “patronizing remarks.”

“Speech codes can only survive,” Lukianoff writes, “through selective enforcement.” Conservatives and religious students are typically targeted. But so are critics of administrators, like the student expelled for a Facebook posting critical of a proposed $30 million parking garage.

Students get the message: Keep your mouth shut. An Association of American Colleges and Universities survey of 24,000 students found that only 40 percent of freshmen thought it was “safe to hold unpopular views on campus.” An even lower 30 percent of seniors agreed.

So institutions that once prided themselves as arenas for the free exchange of ideas — and still advertise themselves as such — have become the least free part of our society.
The highlighted sentence is scandalous.   Every college President who doesn't immediately take action to make sure that it is "safe to hold unpopular views" on his or her campus needs to be fired.   Alternatively, isn't there an enterprising lawyer out there who might want to bring a class action against universities on behalf of conservative students on the basis that the universities have created a hostile learning environment that threatens their civil rights, including their right to free expression of political beliefs?   There's a lot of money in college education at stake... just the type of fat cows that plaintiffs' lawyers typically target.   And the discovery process would be highly instructive methinks.   

A Month Ago

Here's what I wrote a month ago today:

Here's my prediction for 11/6.   I'm out on a limb, but I think things will break hard this week for Romney and he'll win going away.   People are fed up, no one is talking about how much they want another four years of Obama, Democrats will stay home, independents will either stay home or break hard for Romney, Republicans will be up early and voting, and then volunteering to call others, drive people to the polls, etc.  

I even attached a chart:

This reminds me of one of those fantasy maps inside the front cover of a book like Game of Thrones.   It looks sort of like the world you live in, but then it turns out that we're living in a very different world indeed.

I've been wrong before.   You get over it.

Midway or Stalingrad?

The Regular Son posed the following question, flowing from his American History class:

Midway or Stalingrad... biggest turning point in World War II?
Here are my quick thoughts:

Hard call.   The easy answer is to look at the number of men involved and casualties, and we generally (because we've had a left-wing academia?) have tended to have a knee-jerk response that the war was really won on the backs of Soviets, who suffered so many more casualties.   But consider:  so much of the Soviet military in terms of armaments were produced by American factories and shipped to the Soviet Union.   For instance, we supplied most of their planes via a TransCanada/transAlaska/transSiberia route.   What if we lose at Midway?   Now we are essentially driven from the Pacific… we likely then will lose Hawaii, and we will likely lose Alaska (remember that there were battles on Alaskan islands with the Japanese).   Could we supply the Soviets if we lose the Pacific Rim?   Probably not.   What happens to them then?  

Alternatively, if we lost at Midway, wouldn't our focus shift more sharply back to the Pacific, meaning that we wouldn't have had a "Europe first" strategy, might not have invaded Sicily in '43 and France in '44, and maybe divisions used to fight us in the West could have been used to forestall the Soviet triumph in the East.   If Hitler has one more year or two more years, does he get the A-bomb first?

Both were big.   Stalingrad was huge.   But so was Midway.  

UPDATE:  The Regular Son responds:

At the same time, the diversion of supplies--particularly of oil needed to fuel the planes of the Luftwaffe--after the battle of Stalingrad accelerated so dramatically away from the Western front that Stalingrad could be said to have been more impactful. The Reich was essentially in languor after 1943--for a prime example, see Hitler's vaunted Atlantic Wall. If the Soviets had not won at Stalingrad, we may not have made it ashore on D-Day. However, the Soviets repulsed Hitler at the gates of Moscow in 1941. It could be argued that the tide had already turned against the Nazis in the East. I don't think it likely that we would have lost the Pacific if we were defeated at Midway. The Japanese were dramatically overstretched and it was only a matter of time, as a nation of that size could not support such an outsized domain.

Tough call.

Girl of the Day - Fiscal Cliff Version!

If you're going over a cliff anyway, why not do it in style?

Should We Just Go Off the Fiscal Cliff?

I believe we have to do something drastic quickly to get America's federal budget under control.   Yet I also believe that the current political class is incapable of making a reasonable deal that would recognize that spending is the problem.   The Democrats want to raise taxes on the "rich," and that's about it.   What we actually need -- deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare, welfare programs, discretionary spending, etc. -- are apparently impossible.  

So what about the "fiscal cliff" of mandatory, automatic cuts and tax increases scheduled to take place on 1/1/13?   Here's the ten key components of the cliff.   For my money these can be divided into two main areas, taxes and spending:

  • Bush tax cuts would expire, including the 10% bracket for low earners, and the 35% bracket for high earners.   The highest bracket would go to 39.6%, a nearly five percent increase.    Dividends would also be treated as ordinary income (a huge tax increase for those who derive significant income from dividend producing stocks), and long-term capital gains taxes would go from 15% to 20%, another huge hit to the saving and investing classes.   Meanwhile, the AMT patch for inflation would expire, making that monstrosity hit a lot more middle-class families; the estate tax would kick in above a $1 million exemption (as opposed to the current $5 million; everyone would get a 2% uptick in their Social Security payroll tax; and additional taxes would be imposed due to Obamacare.  
  • Automatic spending cuts to defense and discretionary spending and caps on growth of discretionary spending would kick in totaling approximately $330 billion over two years.   In addition, the "doc fix" for Medicare would cut reimbursement to physicians by approximately $305 billion over the same two years.   Finally, unemployment benefits would be allowed to expire and will roll back to a limit of 27 weeks, saving $30 billion over two years.     
 As I look at these there are obviously things I don't like.   I don't like raising taxes on productive people to essentially confiscatory levels.   I don't like raising taxes on investment (dividends and capital gains) or long-term frugality (the estate tax).   We shouldn't be taxing people two or three times on the same earnings just because they chose to save it.   I don't like the AMT, largely because it unnecessarily complicates the tax code.   I don't like cutting defense at all -- we live in a dangerous world.

On the other hand, we also don't live in a perfect world.   I can't get what I want.   There are things here I like.   I like the fact that we aren't going to pretend that we can underfund Social Security by cutting payroll taxes, and I like the fact that letting that cut expire gets everyone some skin in the game.   If taxes are going to be raised, the pain needs to be shared.   I like the spending cuts other than defense, although they don't go far enough, and it appears that the price of getting them will be to cut defense as well.   So be it.   The only way we are legitimately going to maintain ourselves as a superpower will be to get our fiscal house in order.   It doesn't make much sense to borrow money from China to build a blue-water navy to fight China.

I also like removing the disincentive to work that extended unemployment benefits creates.

Also, time doesn't stop on 1/1/13.   There are probably parts of the fiscal cliff that could get fixed by new legislation fairly quickly, like the higher taxes on investment and the estate tax. 

This is a long-winded way of saying that going off the fiscal cliff wouldn't be the end of the world and might make us get serious about doing something about the deficit.


UPDATE:  Jim Geraghty at NRO seems to feel the same way I do:
Obama’s negotiating stance and tactics suggest he’s extremely convinced that going over the cliff, with the attendant double-dip recession, is a scenario where he wins politically. Maybe it’s worth seeing if that confidence is well-placed.

Look, whether roughly 51 percent of voters realize it or not, in November they effectively voted for another recession. Might as well get it over with.


UPDATE 2:  So does Ace:
Why not... give Obama his tax hike on the rich and the small cuts he's willing to agree to -- and then refuse to raise the debt ceiling any further?   Call him out. "You said you could balance things with these measures. So do so."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Obamacare Fiasco

We are only just now coming to realize what a clusterf**k Obamacare will be.   Regarding the state exchanges which were supposed to be the centerpiece of the Rube Goldberg contraption, Mary Katherine Ham recently exposed the naivete of the assumptions underlying the scheme:

Supporters are also worrying over the realization that running exchanges for dozens of states may be a technical heavy lift that’s just not possible. ObamaCare gave states the option to let the federal government set up an exchange for them, and though many states have worked without regulatory certainty to create those exchanges, noticeably absent is any hint of a federal exchange and what it would look like. There’s a reason for that, as the New York Times reported in August:
The markets, known as exchanges, are a centerpiece of President Obama’s health care law, and running them will be a herculean task that federal officials never expected to perform.  When Congress passed legislation to expand coverage two years ago, Mr. Obama and lawmakers assumed that every state would set up its own exchange, a place where people could shop for insurance and get subsidies to help defray the cost.
Oops. Who could have anticipated that in a diverse country where more than 50 percent still oppose the massive federal overhaul of health care passed against the will of the people through a special legislative process with absolutely no bipartisan support, with its costs and requirements systematically hidden or avoided for 32 months, that some states wouldn’t jump in with both feet?

I'm shocked, shocked to find out that the Obama administration has no idea how this thing will work.

Why Work?

If you have very low skills and very low education and the government will give you essentially free food, medical care, housing, energy, childcare, and a little bit of cash walking around money, why exactly would you go to work?  

This is what they call a tipping point, methinks.

An Occasion for Occam

His razor, that is:
The 68-year-old UNC-Chapel Hill physics professor arrested in Argentina early this year after being caught with more than 4 pounds of cocaine hidden in a suitcase has been convicted by an Argentine court.

Paul Frampton, the Oxford-educated Louis D. Rubin Jr. Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, told investigators he was duped into unknowingly carrying the drugs after being lured first to Bolivia with a promise of meeting a famous bikini model.
Occam's razor suggests the easiest possible explanation.

68 year-old man who has spent a lifetime as a nerd has opportunity to make whoopie with South American bikini model, if only he will agree to transport cocaine.  

68 year-old man thinks with pecker rather than with brain.

68 year-old man goes to prison.



UPDATE:   Ace has a picture of the siren.

That explains a lot.

Girl of the Day - Gloria Grahame

One of the classic Hollywood bad girls, born today in 1923.   She was Violet in It's a Wonderful Life, which is ubiquitous during the holiday season, but her best roles were in noirs like In a Lonely Place (1950) with Humphrey Bogart:

Eat the Rich

Bill Whittle and Iowahawk combine on an analysis that is pure genius:

Via Ace.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Art from the Regular Son

The kid has been working on his portrait skills of late, particularly in charcoal.   He tends to do people from long ago, Civil War generals, Victorian ladies, etc.   I think a simpler time appeals to him.

The Real Fiscal Cliff

From the WSJ, Bill Archer and Chris Cox write about the scandal of unfunded liabilities for Medicare, Social Security and federal employee pensions and benefits.   It's terrifying:

Fiscal policy discussions generally focus on current-year budget deficits, the accumulated national debt, and the relationships between these two items and gross domestic product. We most often hear about the alarming $15.96 trillion national debt (more than 100% of GDP), and the 2012 budget deficit of $1.1 trillion (6.97% of GDP). As dangerous as those numbers are, they do not begin to tell the story of the federal government's true liabilities.
The actual liabilities of the federal government—including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees' future retirement benefits—already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security was $7 trillion. Nothing like that figure is used in calculating the deficit. In reality, the reported budget deficit is less than one-fifth of the more accurate figure...
When the accrued expenses of the government's entitlement programs are counted, it becomes clear that to collect enough tax revenue just to avoid going deeper into debt would require over $8 trillion in tax collections annually. That is the total of the average annual accrued liabilities of just the two largest entitlement programs, plus the annual cash deficit.

Nothing like that $8 trillion amount is available for the IRS to target. According to the most recent tax data, all individuals filing tax returns in America and earning more than $66,193 per year have a total adjusted gross income of $5.1 trillion. In 2006, when corporate taxable income peaked before the recession, all corporations in the U.S. had total income for tax purposes of $1.6 trillion. That comes to $6.7 trillion available to tax from these individuals and corporations under existing tax laws.

In short, if the government confiscated the entire adjusted gross income of these American taxpayers, plus all of the corporate taxable income in the year before the recession, it wouldn't be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities. Some public officials and pundits claim we can dig our way out through tax increases on upper-income earners, or even all taxpayers. In reality, that would amount to bailing out the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon. Only by addressing these unsustainable spending commitments can the nation's debt and deficit problems be solved.

What can't continue, won't.   The saddest thing?   Cox and Archer were on President Clinton's 1994 commission on reforming entitlements.   We've gone almost a whole generation since then, eighteen years.   And we've done nothing.   As Paul Ryan used to say (whatever happened to him?) this is the most obvious and avoidable economic disaster in human history.   And yet we beat on, boats against the current.

A New Platform for the GOP

Republicans have been doing a lot of soul-searching (read: "navel-gazing") about what went wrong in the 2012 electoin and what we should do now.  A lot of the analyses have as their subtexts continuing the gravy train for consultants and insiders and vendors who feed off the multi-billion dollar industry that is politics today. So we talk about data-mining and ORCA and fine-tuning our appeals to different demographic groups and modifying our imagery. It's all about tactics and strategy, the fields where so-called elites and experts and consultants live and breed.

Tactics are important. Strategy is important. Data is important. But more important than these is... what are we fighting for? Why should we care? What kind of world do we want to live in? What does America mean?

The Republicans need a new approach, sure. But the approach they need isn't a matter of more and more sophisticated GOTV efforts or more targeted appeals or more moderate rhetoric. The approach they need is simple:

Tell the Truth.

Do the Right Thing.

On every issue.

From now on.

If the truth and doing what is right don't win, then we're doomed anyway.

Why Buffett is Wrong

In an op-ed yesterday, Warren Buffett offers this ahistorical nonsense about the impact of tax rates on investment:

Between 1951 and 1954, when the capital gains rate was 25 percent and marginal rates on dividends reached 91 percent in extreme cases, I sold securities and did pretty well.... Never did anyone mention taxes as a reason to forgo an investment opportunity that I offered.

Under those burdensome rates, moreover, both employment and the gross domestic product (a measure of the nation’s economic output) increased at a rapid clip. The middle class and the rich alike gained ground.

So let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp — capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities.

Hmmm... what had just happened in the world of the early 1950s?   A cataclysmic world war in Europe and Asia.   France and Germany and Italy were, for all intents and purposes, economically destroyed.   Japan was destroyed.   Korea was in the midst of a civil war.   China was entering a dark night of communism that would last for fifty-plus years.   To be sure, the ultrich will always pursue investment opportunities, and in the 1950s they pursued them in America, the global hyperpower whose industrial base had been rejuvenated in the war, while our competitors had been destroyed.  But today, all of those countries that were destroyed are now huge investment opportunities for the ultrarich, the rich, the semi-rich, and the want-to-be-rich.   If American tax rates become confiscatory or punitive, which appears to be the goal of Obama and willing dupes like Buffett (who has already made his billions), capital will flow to countries where investment and income and wealth aren't treated like evils.   Where in 1951 that might have been difficult, in 2013 international investment in a global economy is a mouse-click away. 

Buffett knows this, of course.   But he's looking at his legacy, and playing to the elites he sees at cocktail parties.   Adulation from the beautiful people is an intoxicating elixir for an elderly man.  

I don't want to hear from Buffett.   I want to hear from the 35 year-old entrepreneur who hasn't made his first million yet.   The Buffetts of today vote Democratic; the Buffetts of tomorrow should be voting Republican.

Girl of the Day - You Know Who

Not much blogging over Thanksgiving.   It's hard to type when you have an entire turkey in your stomach.  

Anyway, we're now officially moving into winter in Wisconsin, which means cold and snow and gray and depressed.   We need a little sunshine.  Hence:

VDH and Lessons Learned

Victor Davis Hanson has a set of cautionary "lessons learned" from the election of 2012.   This one hits hardest:

10. There is a 47%
Last night I went late into the local drug store. The guy ahead of me carefully separated his groceries: in one small pile was baby formula and milk that he paid with a California food card; in the other pile was a huge heap of regular Mountain Dew, three snack packs of Snickers, expensive Beef Jerky packs, and jumbo bags of M&M’s. He held up the line for 10 minutes while he went through the two piles and checked out twice. But he did apologize for the delay. I offered to pay cash for his milk and formula to expedite his cash purchase of 20,000 calories. I don’t think he voted for Mitt Romney.
Nor did the other guy at the Selma Save Mart the day before who got into a new Honda Accord (6-cylinder, no less) after buying 2 cartloads of subsidized food. It may be callous and rude to say that lots more Americans look to government after 2008, but it happens to be true. What Romney said before and after the election may have seemed insensitive and in some details inexact, but his basic drift was correct.

Ouch.   How to talk about this without being labeled an evil rich guy?   That's the problem for the GOP, and for the nation as a whole.   What can't continue, won't continue.   We can't afford the path we're on.   But what civil unrest follows when the 47% begin being weaned from the government teat?   Ah, there's the rub.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Apotheosis of the Left's Double Standard

Here's a story about a Democratic Congressman this week saying that calling Susan Rice, the presumptive future Secretary of State, who happens to be a black woman, "incompetent" is a racist code:

President Obama hasn't said whether he will nominate Susan Rice to be secretary of State, but the debate over her is already intense.

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., told CNN on Tuesday that some Republican claims that Rice is "incompetent" may be racial in nature.

"These are code words," Clyburn said, adding that "these kinds of terms that those of us — especially those of us who were born and raised in the South -- we've been hearing these little words and phrases all of our lives and we get insulted by them.

Here's a liberal journalist, Katrina Vandenheuvel, calling Condoleeza Rice "incompetent" in 2004, when she was the presumptive future Secretary of State:
Last July, the Washington Post devoted much of its front-page to a well-reported story indicting National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for her role in misleading Congress and the public in the run- up to the Iraq war. The bottom line: Rice was either incompetent or a liar.

Even sources described as "generally sympathetic" to the NSC adviser questioned her many shifting and contradictory statements regarding Iraq's alleged uranium purchase and the WMD (non)threat. But Rice's dogged loyalty to Bush served her well, and she stayed put. So here we have the apotheosis of the left's double standards.

Two women about to be nominated to be Secretary of State are called "incompetent" by critics.  

Coincidentally, they are both named "Rice."

Coincidentally, they are both black.

One is liberal, one is conservative.

Calling the liberal "incompetent" is racism.  

But calling the conservative "incompetent" is... what?   Patriotism?  

Hmmm... that shit's pretty obvious, isn't it?  

It's like the old game, which one of these doesn't belong?

The answer?  

The conservative doesn't belong.   That's all you need to know to apply the double standard.

It's Too Soon!

Politico has a story and a photo gallery out today about eighteen Republicans who are already jockeying for position to run in 2016.   To me, I need a break from this sort of horse race coverage.   When will those in government actually govern, as opposed to beginning the next audition?   Anyway, here's the list. 

Kelly Ayotte
Michelle Bachmann
Jeb Bush
Chris Christie
Nikki Haley
Bobby Jindal
Susana Martinez
Bob McDonnell
Rand Paul
Mike Pence
Rick Perry
Rob Portman
Marco Rubio
Paul Ryan
Brian Sandoval
Rick Santorum
John Thune
Scott Walker

For ease of reference, let's consider some salient groupings:

Bush (former governor of Florida)
Christie (NJ)
Haley (SC)
Jindal (LA)
Martinez (NM)
McDonnell (VA)
Pence (IN)
Perry (TX)
Sandoval (NV)
Walker (WI)


Bush* (married to Hispanic, speaks fluent Spanish)

From "Swing State"

Has Participated in National Campaign Before
Michelle Bachmann
Jeb Bush
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Rob Portman
Paul Ryan
Rick Santorum

(Note: I include Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Rob Portman, because the point here is whether the candidate would have access to an established network of donors.   Bush and Paul obviously would through their family connections, and Portman would presumably be able to access Romney's network.)

This is a fairly impressive list.   None are the perfect candidate... probably the best on paper would be Jeb Bush, but his name may disqualify him.   If I had to guess, I don't think Ayotte, Haley, or Martinez will run for the top spot, but could end up as the VP.   I don't think they will have the clout to raise money early enough to compete.   I think Paul could be a formidable candidate but, like his father, will be pigeonholed as a "fringe" Republican.  Bachmann, Perry and Santorum had their chances, and I think the party will look elsewhere, although I think Santorum could become the spokesman for the religious right in Iowa and win there, and I frankly think Perry got a raw deal in the campaign due to bad luck (a significant medical issue during the debate season).  Ryan will unfortunately be stuck with the Romney loser tag, and Christie will justifiably be branded as a turncoat for his performance near the end of the Romney campaign in lauding Obama's performance in Hurricane Sandy.   Rubio appears to be the frontrunner, but the party tends to gravitate toward governors or former governors, and I think they might again, although Rubio's charisma, conservatism and heritage will make him formidable.  

In short, it looks pretty wide open to me.

A dark horse could be Ted Cruz, newly-elected Hispanic Senator from Texas (that sort of thing has happened before, you know).

Another dark horse could be former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

And, well, there's always a telegenic, high name-recognition, former candidate on a national ticket, formidable fundraiser, female former governor lurking out there.   Can you say Mama Grizzly?

Girl of the Day - Yvonne Strahovski Redux

She was the girl of the day a couple of months ago before she had appeared on Dexter, but now that she's on the show as Hannah McKay, Dexter's serial killer (maybe) girlfriend, she deserves a second look.   For my money, Homeland has already jumped the shark, although I hope it can still save itself from its own tendency to impossible and silly melodrama.   And I thought Dexter had too last year.   But this year Dexter seems to be back, and the Hannah McKay character is a main reason (along with Sirko, the Russian mobster).   Yvonne Strahovski is great (and great-looking) in the part.   Interestingly, she has imperfect teeth... in a world where nearly everyone gets braces nowadays, do small imperfections actually make someone sexier? 

Anyway, here she is in her "costume" for the show:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gotcha Questions

A recent interview of Marco Rubio in GQ magazine got some attention for this "gotcha" question:

GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

The interviewer was clearly just trying to get Rubio either to say something weird that could be used against him to tar him as a troglodyte creationist; or else to say something anodyne that would hurt him with religious conservatives in Iowa caucuses.   The interviewer didn't care which, because whatever Rubio answered could be used against him.  

Conservatives correctly noted that liberal politicians are never asked this kind of "gotcha" question, and if they do make misstatements, those misstatements tend to vanish down the media's collective "memory hole."   But what would "gotcha" questions to liberals look like?   I can imagine some that might fit the bill:
  • Is there a point during human gestation after which you would be willing to limit access to abortion?   Six months?   Seven months?   Eight months?   Nine months?
  • Why are we spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year subsidizing the purchase of food in America when we have what the First Lady has called an obesity epidemic?
  • Is there a connection between increasing the minimum wage and black youth unemployment?
  • Is it fair to working Americans that federal government employees have salaries and benefits significantly greater than the average American family?
  • What percentage of federal income taxes is paid by the top 5% of earners?   Is that too low and, if so, what percentage would be appropriate?
The real extremists in America are liberals who want abortion under any circumstances and at any time paid for by taxpayers; who think 47 million on food stamps is not enough; who think we could increase minimum wages indefinitely with no impact on the demand for unskilled labor; that average Americans should fund wealthy Americans simply because those wealthy Americans are employed by the federal government; and that the so-called wealthy in the private sector ought to have the fruits of their labor taxed at confiscatory levels.   But no one ever calls them on it.

Armageddon Alert!

The United States Treasury Secretary this week:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Friday that Congress should stop placing legal limits on the amount of money the government can borrow and effectively lift the debt limit to infinity.
On Bloomberg TV, “Political Capital” host Al Hunt asked Geithner if he believes “we ought to just eliminate the debt ceiling.”
“Oh, absolutely,” Geithner said.
“You do?  Will you propose that?” Hunt asked.

“Well, this is something only Congress can solve,” Geithner said. “Congress put it on itself. We've had 100 years of experience with it, and I think only once--last summer--did people decide to use it to threaten default on the American credit for the first time in history as a tool for political advantage.  And that’s not a tenable strategy.”
Hunt then asked: “Is now the time to eliminate it?”
“It would have been time a long time ago to eliminate it,” Geithner said. “The sooner the better.”
Geithner’s Treasury Department quietly warned at the end of October that the Treasury would reach current legal limit on the federal government's debt by about the end of the year.
In August 2011, President Barack Obama and Congress agreed to lift the legal debt limit by another $2.4 trillion--allowing the government to borrow up to $16.394 trillion. However, as of the close of business on Thursday, the Treasury had only $154.3 billion of that $2.4 trillion in new borrowing authority left.

Women in Hats

Apropos of nothing at all, let me just say this about women in hats... I'm for it!

Clapper Falls on His Sword

Ace is touting this story about the Benghazi coverup:
CBS News has learned that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) cut specific references to "al Qaeda" and "terrorism" from the unclassified talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice on the Benghazi consulate attack - with the agreement of the CIA and FBI. The White House or State Department did not make those changes.

There has been considerable discussion about who made the changes to the talking points that Rice stuck to in her television appearances on Sept. 16 (video), five days after the attack that killed American Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, and three other U.S. nationals.
My thought... meh!   Clapper makes the perfect fall guy for a post-modern media age. Most Americans, as we've learned to our chagrin, are low-information voters. Now that the election is over, they are no-information non-voters. How many people even know who Clapper is? How many people even know we have such a thing as an Office of the Director of National Intelligence? All that matters is the plausible deniability of the White House and Obama.

And, because no one knows who Clapper is, and no one understands the issue very well, and because time passes, and because it's about to be the Thanksgiving weekend, look for this news to be crystallized by, oh, Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 pm (when no one is watching), and then be dismissed as old news by Monday.

Mmmmm.... turkey! What's this I hear about some guy named Crapper? Mmmmm... pie!

Girl of the Day - Gene Tierney

Gene Tierney was born today in 1920.   Her greatest role was undoubtedly the 1944 movie Laura, in which she played the object of a detective's obsession as he investigates a murder.   Tierney later suffered from depression after she contracted rubella while pregnant and her daughter was born with severe mental retardation.   (As an interesting side note, Howard Hughes, Tierney's friend, paid for all of the child's medical expenses and care.)  

P.S.   I love these early color photos... for some reason the color just seems so alive.  

Silence of the Regular Guy, Explained

I've not been blogging much lately after the election, in part because of work, in part because of a boredom with continuing to flog the same dead or dying news stories (Fast and Furious... who cares at this point?   Benghazi... who will care a month from now?), in part out of frustration and sadness that the country appears to be sliding down a slope toward Greece or Spain (except with a lot more weapons and an angrier, more entitled., and more "diverse" -- be careful what you wish for -- population.   Also in part out of a feeling that most of what matters in life doesn't and shouldn't involve politics -- family, church, marriage, home, sports, art, literature, music.   The feeling I have is something like "going Galt" in the cultural sphere... it's not that the most productive economic members of society will quit working, as in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, but that conservatives will simply withdraw into private life.  

Anyway, emerging from my cocoon, the question appears to me to be:  "What parts of contemporary conservatism need to be re-emphasized, and what parts need to be de-emphasized or jettisoned altogether, in order to put conservatives in position to win national elections?"  I don't know that the answer isn't "nothing," because the problem wasn't conservatism, but a weak (in retrospect) candidate and a failure to articulate a principled conservative position.   But I'm going to set myself the task of thinking through the issues with an eye toward offering arguments that will convince people who aren't already on our side, as opposed to preaching to the converted, which is what political parties tend to do.

As an appetizer, let me get past three issues that many pundits have noted as issues that conservatives need to change on.   The first is important, the second and third are mostly symbolic.  

VDH on Benghazi

Victor Davis Hanson comes to a sad conclusion about the Benghazi scandal,which I'm afraid accurately assesses the short attention spans of most Americans:

Where does all this lead?
I think nowhere. Unlike in the cases of Watergate and Iran-Contra, there is no investigative press, given the media’s worry about endangering the second-term agenda of a progressive president. There is no special prosecutor salivating after a government official, as there was with Scooter Libby. “The fog of war” and accusations of “Conspiracy theory!” should be enough to bury the scandal and discredit those who seek the truth. Modifying a CIA analysis for political purposes is probably no crime. Quid pro quos are simply the polite, everyday — and legal — Washington version of blackmail. In the end, the only casualties in this sordid tale were the sterling career of David Petraeus — and four murdered Americans whose deaths were preventable.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Market, Explained

... so simply a child could understand.   Which means Americans might be able to.

Taxing the Rich

I don't want to be mean, but much of the problem in American politics in talking about taxes and tax rates stems from very basic facts about the intelligence of our citizenry.  To wit:

Again, I don't want to be mean, but it is simply a matter of fact that, given a normal distribution of intelligence in a bell curve, half of American have IQs of 100 or below and 16% have IQs of 85 or below.   Many of these people may be decent, law-abiding, wonderful people, but an honest person should agree that they are not very likely to be able to understand in any serious way the implications of tax policy or to be able to do the math necessary to understand the impact of a change in tax policy on, for instance, our national deficits or debt.   Demogogues play to this unavoidable fact by talking about "the rich paying their fair share"... in other words, they address people who have relatively childlike intelligence with relatively childish, emotional appeals.  

With regard to the current argument about whether to increase tax rates on the supposed wealthy, Americans who earn more than $250,000 a year, consider the following:

  • A useful approximation for these people are the top 5% of earners in four-person households, who earned greater than $268,000 in 2009.
  • The top 5% of earners paid 63.9% of federal income taxes in 2009.
  • In 2009, the federal government took in approximately $1.05 trillion in 2009.  
  • That means that the top 5% paid about $670 billion in income taxes in 2009.
  • If the "Bush tax cuts" for the "wealthy" had been in effect, their tax rates would have gone up approimately 4%, using the absolute top marginal rates of 36% (current) and 39.6% (proposed).
  • That means that they would have paid, assuming no impact on economic activity and no changes in behavior to avoid taxes, approximately $27 billion more in income tax under the rates proposed by President Obama.
  • The federal deficit is currently running at something like $1.1 trillion.   So what Obama is proposing would cut the deficit by about 2.5%.   Again, assuming no adverse economic impacts from raising taxes on the most productive people in our economy.
  • Where is the other 97.5% supposed to come from?   No one knows.
Now, that's easy for me and you to understand.   But it's sadly impossible for a significant number of (dare I say it?) Democratic voters to understand. 

Maybe they would understand this... in order to close the deficit using only income tax rate hikes, we would have to more than DOUBLE them, which would surely send the economy into a depression.   But maybe not.

This is supposedly why we have a representative government... to make sure that the dumbest among us aren't driving policy.   But when a goverment is elected by pandering to the innumeracy of functional economic illiterates, what hope do we have that they will act rationally?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Girl of the Day - Veronica Lake

Today is the birthday of one of the great "bad girls" of Hollywood, Veronica Lake.   When you think of a blonde siren who might end up getting you killed, she's the one:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Girl of the Day - More Morena!

I really like the show Homeland on Showtime on Sundays, but I have to confess that there is a casting issue.   As great as Claire Danes is as Carrie Mathison, the schizo CIA agent tracking/cornering/turning/making out with the now double agent/former (?) terrorist Nick Brody played by Damien Lewis -- and she's so awesome she's almost becoming a self-parody of her own awesomness every time she does her pouty face -- as great as she is, there is no universe in which the laws of physics apply where any self-respecting red-blooded horndog spent-eight-years-in-captivity-under-the-yoke-of-al-Qaeda-and-now-let's-get-ready-to-rumble ex-Marine would choose to suck face with Claire Danes when he has Morena Baccarin waiting at home.

I'm just sayin'.

I Love America, But...

I love America.   Or, rather, I, like many conservatives, love an idea of America based on our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration, the history of the country and its heroes (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln), its traditions (self-reliance, love of liberty, pioneering, invention, entrepreneurship, Judeo-Christian morality), and its military strength (dominant at the end of World War II, dominant after the end of the Cold War).   Individuals bound together in a free economy with freedom to pursue happiness, whether through business or art or religion or whatever the individual wants, without the strong hand of government restraining them.

How have we fallen so far that we wake up to see this?

This is right up there in terms of disappointing with the Catholic Church's pederasty scandal.   Institutions we are supposed to count on:  the Army, the Church, the Family... are falling apart in America.

Life Goes On

A week ago I woke up enthused to go vote and hopeful that, at the end of the day, we would have a new President.   A week later I still wake up, but my focus is now on work, my wife, my kids, my personal interests.   I like the idea of not worrying about politics for awhile, although I recall the old saw that, "You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you."   Have we reached a tipping point where the centrality of government in American life means that you simply can't avoid it?   Probably.   But I sometimes feel the urge to try.   If I were a hardier sort, I might retreat with some guns and canned goods into the mountains of Idaho.   But instead I'll likely retreat into books and family and everyday life. 

A wistful post for wistful times.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Regular Son--Election Reflections/Signs of the Apocalypse

Victor Davis Hanson on National Review a few days ago said that conservatives could be separated into,essentially,three camps by their explanations of Romney'stunning defeat Tuesday. The three camps can be distilled down to 1) Mitt Romney was a poor candidate and Barack Obama was uniquely popular; 2) The GOP has to radically alter its message on immigration, foreign policy, taxation, &c; 3) The Democrats have finally established a majority coalition composed of Blacks, Latinos, welfare recipients, the elderly, those who don't pay taxes, union workers,young, unmarried women--i.e. the "takers" in American society.

 I, like VDH, find explanations 1) and 2) unsatisfying. We attended the Romney rally at State Fair Park two Mondays before the election. There was something almost palpable in the air at the tiny overflow amphitheatre that chilly morning. It was as though the country's disillusionment with the Obama presidency, an upswell of love and support for Romney and the Conservative Ideal, and the innate patriotism of the American populace combined to permeate the atmosphere (or so I believed) . So I do not believe Mitt Romney was a poor candidate, or that Barack Obama is particularly popular, as he recieved some 7 million votes fewer than he did in 2008. Knowing what I know from the Scott Walker recall election and the 2010 mid-term elections, both of which saw Republicans sweeping voters into their fold from across a blue state or a previously blue country, conservative ideas, when articulated properly and with something tangible to point to, e.g. the laudable Walker record or the disastrous monster of a bill known as "Obamacare". So I do not believe the Republican Party has to dramatically alter its message; and besides, I take a great deal of pride in knowing that we, the GOP, do things because they are what is best for the country, not to spur us above 51% in exurban Virginia.

Rather, I fear explanation 3) is the truest. Let me elaborate. Barack Obama,and the people around him, is a remarkably artful demagogue. This does not speak to his unique or singular popularity, as it is a tactic that will no doubt be retained by the Democrats for future election cycles. Early on he painted Romney as a plutocratic, bigoted sexist. Mitt Romney is a lovely man, but by the debates, Americans were seeing him through tinted glasses. Obama played on fear, warning of, as we saw in the "Children of the Future Ad", an America in which gays are oppressed, contraceptives are banned, and a machiavellian Cheneyite Romney takes bread from the mouth of poor children to give it to his rich friends.

I believe it must now be accepted by Republican strategists everywhere that we will never gain any significant traction among African-American voters. They have become a political tribe. Whether Obama garnered additional votes through racial pride, I don't know. But they well never vote for the Democrats by a margin less than 9 to 1, especially as more and more of them are trapped in increasingly decaying inner cities and promised more and more golden eggs by the Democrats. Unlike Charles Krauthammer, I don't believe we can tap into the Hispanic vote simply by capitulating on amnesty. They are, indeed, a striving, Catholic immigrant community, but so are the Irish. Now they are just more White middle-class people on welfare. I don't believe Hispanics will assimilate to that degree, but I do believe that if Marco Rubio can't attract them, no one can. Our black-and-brown convention clearly did no good. They vote Democrat for the same reason anyone else votes Democrat.

Finally, I believe our main problems in America are cultural. To quote Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence, we have become "a silly people, a little people". More and more people are unmarried, divorced, having children out of wedlock, openly homosexual, &c. Politicians can wax eloquent about the resilience and lack of "quit" in the American people, but if that were true, then nearly 50 million people wouldn't be on food stamps when, at the same time, we have an "obesity epidemic" in the richest country in the history of the world. If that were true, we wouldn't be so eager to jump the gun to withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. If that were true, we wouldn't have a 50 % divorce rate. If that were true, the employment-to-population ratio would not have dropped so precipitously. We are not the same country we were. In this election, Republicans knew what the country ought to be, but Democrats knew what it was, and they manipulated that, demographically, politically and culturally,to win. I fear that De Tocqueville may, in the end, be proved right when he said that "a democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government." I wonder if our civic virtue has indeed rotted away. I wonder if, we are truly, a decadent nation. And I wonder if, even if the Republicans can still win national elections, things are too far gone. It is quite possible that we have reached "the tipping point".

Friday, November 9, 2012

Steyn on Kicking the Can Down the Road... and Over the Fiscal Cliff

Mark Steyn nails it again.   This would be funny if it weren't so tragic:

According to one CBO analysis, U.S.-government spending is sustainable as long as the rest of the world is prepared to sink 19 percent of its GDP into U.S. Treasury debt. We already know the answer to that: In order to avoid the public humiliation of a failed bond auction, the U.S. Treasury sells 70 percent of the debt it issues to the Federal Reserve — which is to say the left hand of the U.S. government is borrowing money from the right hand of the U.S. government. It’s government as a Nigerian e-mail scam, with Ben Bernanke playing the role of the dictator’s widow with $4 trillion under her bed that she’s willing to wire to Timmy Geithner as soon as he sends her his bank-account details.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Girl of the Day - Katherine Hepburn

I'm not sure you'd ever call her a "girl," as she always seemed to be a classy, grown-up woman.   That's probably why her best role in my view was as the ditz in Bringing Up Baby, one of the greatest comedies ever.  

A Tale of Three Cities

I cannot foretell what this means for the future of the Republic, but this data is interesting to me.

1)  Right now, President Obama has won re-election by a margin of approximately 2.9 million votes nationwide.

2)  In America's three largest cities, Los Angeles (Obama plus 952,000 in LA County), Chicago (Obama plus 960,000 in Cook County), and New York (Obama plus 1.3 million in the five boroughs), Obama is up a total of 3.45 million.

3) Thus, but for LA, Chicago, and New York, Romney is winning the rest of the country.  

Is that good for America when three cities essentially deliver 104 electoral votes to Democrats automatically?  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Top Ten Reasons Romney Lost According to Ace

From Ace at Ace of Spades, an excellent analysis of the reasons Romney lost.    Here's a taste:

It was one thing for One Lone Nut to say he'd pass a law forbidding a raped woman from taking Plan B immediately after an attack (which is a standard current treatment). It was another thing when Richard Mourdock turned this from One Guy Popping Off to a Widely Held Republican Position.

On the radio, 80% of the Obama/Democrat ads I heard were about this. 80%. I'm not lying. Every fifteen minutes while driving I'd hear one of these.   Obama had already prepared a War on Women narrative, and now we've got Senate candidates saying that God planned for women to get raped?   Let me offer this observation: If there's something you believe, but have no chance whatsoever of passing into actual law, then it's really not a political belief. Politics is not philosophy. It's about passing (or repealing) actual laws with actual real-world coercive effect.   Since not even babies which are one hour from birth are currently protected from the abortionist -- the easiest case of all to make with the public -- why the focus on the toughest of all cases? One that horrifies women -- and men, to boot?   The hardest case for pro-choicers to defend is a baby just hours away from natural birth.   The hardest case for pro-lifers to defend is the administration of Plan B to a woman who was just raped hours ago, who, if pregnant at all, is pregnant with a single-celled embryo.   Since we have not prevailed on the easy case yet, why this suicidal determination to talk about the hardest case?   Not only is unlikely abortion will be outlawed at all (especially now, with the President and Senate in Democratic hands, and new liberal justices coming in the next four years to add to the 5-vote Roe majority), but it almost unfathomable that if it gets banned 15 years from now that there will not be an exception for emergency contraception immediately following a rape.   Since there is practically no chance whatsoever of this particular policy prevailing -- probably ever -- what is the point of injecting it into politics?

Food for thought.   I don't think we've made any headway in 40 years on this as a political issue, but I think that the emergence of ultrasound has allowed good headway on abortion as a cultural issue.   It may be that we should focus on the cultural arena, the arena of moral and religious suasion, and get abortion out of our politics.    I don't know.    It's a hard question, particularly when the truth of Life and the horror of procured abortion is so evident.  

Girl of the Day - Kate Upton

My apologies.   It's a gloomy day, both psychologically and meteorologically.   So the Regular Guy needs some sunshine:

A Vote for Blame

More from the Fox News exit poll:

We are three years and ten months into Obama's presidency and he still blames his predecessor.   When will the American public hold him responsible for his own performance as President?   Apparently not anytime soon.

A Vote for Envy

More from the Fox News exit poll:

Envy, which used to be a sin, is now a mainstream virtue.

Bizarrely, however, the same people who want to increase taxes on the wealthy don't think it will do anything to help the federal budget deficit:

So, for many Obama voters, the only reason to tax the wealthy is... dare I say it?... revenge.

A Vote for Photo Ops

More from the Fox News exit poll:

We simply do not know the merits or demerits of the federal government's response to Hurricane Sandy at this date.   The disaster relief story is still playing out, and there is a chance that Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Christie, and President Obama will all, in the fullness of time, be seen as having done a poor job.   All that Obama had done during the last week of the campaign was to participate in what amount to photo ops.   Yet many Americans apparently considered that an important factor in voting for Obama.  

Again, we are becoming a silly people, more interested in celebrity than in reality.


An aside on the notion of celebrity:   again, the Obama campaign appears in retrospect to have been both smart and cynical in concluding that the mass of the voters they want to reach don't care about facts or news or policy, but do care about a politician appearing on The Daily Show, or The View, or Letterman.  

Again, more's the pity.

A Vote for Emotion

More from Fox News' exit poll:

Romney wins big on leadership, vision and values.   Obama wins huge on the amorphous post-modern emotional attribute of "caring."   This despite Romney's lifetime of service and charitable giving, and Obama's demonstrated life history of cold narcissim.  

We are a foolish nation.  

A Vote for Infanticide

More from the Fox News exit poll:

The poll shows Obama winning women 55-44, but, breaking that down, it shows that Romney won married women, 53-46, but overwhelmingly lost unmarried women by 67-31.  

In short, the "Life of Julia" strategy in which government substitutes as the supporting male in the lives of young unmarried women, and the "war on women" strategy in which evil Republicans want to take away young unmarried women's "right" to kill their unborn children... both of them worked, and how.  

The Democrats were obviously very smart and very cynical in targeting unmarried women this way.   More's the pity.

A Vote Against God

More from the Fox News exit poll (and this is perhaps the saddest note of all):

This election was a triumph of the coalition of the hypocritical and the atheistic.

A Vote for Taking, not Making

More from the Fox News exit poll:

Essentially, this was a vote by people who are either poor or unemployed or employed in jobs that aren't very productive, if by productive you mean the value of what you offer in the free market that free people are willing to pay you for.  

A vote for taking, not making.   We have become the nation Tocqueville feared:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

A Vote for Tribe

More from Fox News' exit poll:

This is the election when America became a tribal nation.  

What histories tell us about tribal nations isn't pretty.  

Re America's increasing tribalism, here's a chart from 2008 regarding the demographics of recent elections:

I don't know what this means yet.   Obviously the percentages for minority voters increased over 2008 ,just as they had been increasing for the past 25 years.   But did they increase in absolute terms?   Or did white voters stay home?   Or a combination of the two?

With regard to the Hispanic vote, however, it's safe to say that it's changing the face of American politics rapidly.   For the GOP, what that means is that in 2012 you will hear a lot about Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and Susana Martinez.  

A Vote Against Wisdom

From Fox News' exit poll:

Let's posit that the older you are, the more responsibilty you have, the more experienced you are, and the more people you are likely to have depending on you, including spouses, children, and employees; while the younger you are, the more likely you are to be irresponsible, inexperienced, and to have no one depending on you.

This is the election in which America rejected wisdom, and opted for silliness and shallowness.

What Happened? What Now?

I'll be writing more today and in the weeks to come about what happened last night and what it might mean for the future.   For now, I offer, via the Regular Son, a reading from this morning's Mass:

Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

White House Insider on Romney the Man

Ulsterman's White House Insider source about Romney today:

Earlier in all of this, I really didn’t fully appreciate the kind of man Mitt Romney is.  It’s a rare thing to have a quality human being in politics at this level.  Everything I hear, everything that has come back to me, points to the governor as being that rare thing, a real quality human being who happens to also be running for President of the United States.  If this all comes down to “may the best man win”, Mitt Romney wins this thing in a landslide.

Girl of the Day - Ann Romney

Less cheesecake, more wholesome goodness.

I'm calling it early.   Welcome to our new First Lady.

The Margin of Fraud

Powerline reports:

It is being reported that Democratic Party operatives are evicting court-appointed Republican poll watchers from polling places in Philadelphia. Specifically, this reportedly has happened in Ward 32, Div 13; Ward 43, Div 14; Ward 56, Div 1; Ward 56, Div 22; Ward 32, Div 28; Ward 32, Div 28; Ward 12, Div 17; Ward 39, Div 1; Ward 24, Div 9; Ward 18, Div 25; Ward 43, Div 14; Ward 29, Div 18; Ward 65, Div 19; Ward 20, Div 1; and Ward 6, Div 11. The idea is to kick out the Republicans, then stuff the box with ballots marked for Obama. This is how some of these precincts have achieved 99 to 100% turnout in past elections.