Friday, February 29, 2008

The Line Between Naive and Delusional?

From the Obama comment during the debate, it is obvious that he actually believed that Al Quaeda wasn't present in Iraq. The MSM is so amazingly credulous of His Royal Hopefullness that they never question his subsequent churlish claim; "Of course I know that Al Qaeda is in Iraq". Huh? So he claims that he would send in troops IF they were there, but claims he is going to WITHDRAW troops IMMEDIATELY day after day? But he is well aware that they are there? So is he lying or insane and does anyone in the MSM even care of which it is?

It seems pretty obvious that Obama just forgot the sleight of hand behind the left/MSM views on Iraq. Since Al Qeada WAS active in Iraq even before 9-11, the left was forced to fabricate a "re-branding" of "Al Qaeda in Iraq" as a similarly named but completely different group than the Osama Bin Ladin Al Qaeda.

Naturally, we are to pay no attention to the constant statements of brotherhood between the two groups and the fact that known Al Qaeda in Afghanistan terrorists have been killed in Iraq. Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, even the NYT and PBS agreed that Iraq had terrorist training camps. Naturally, when it became important for there to be "no reason for the US to be in Iraq", they managed to forget what their own reporting on the subject had been. When one is on the left, how one "feels" is WAY more important than any factual information.

Once it was pointed out to Osama Obama that he had erred from the fabrication, he panicked and just lied about "OF COURSE I knew that Al Quada is in Iraq". It is hard to sound smooth and hopeful when one is backpedaling on something that they obviously have no real thoughts on. I'm sure in fact there is no circumstance at all that B Hussien Obama ... or "BO" would defend America. I mean, it is a country that isn't even good enough for his wife to be proud of, it certainly isn't worth shedding anyones blood over!

It is fun to watch how the MSM protects their own. NOBODY in the media even THINKS to point out the absurdity of a guy that claims that he is going to withdraw troops immediately claiming that he will send them in IF Al Qaeda was in Iraq when anyone that is "reality based" knows that Al Qaeda is there already. They naturally just report it as some "McCain political sniping" and the sheep graze on in ignorace and Obama worship.

McCain Criticizes Obama on Al Qaeda

Published: February 27, 2008

Senator John McCain, looking ahead to a possible general-election matchup with Senator Barack Obama, attacked Mr. Obama on Wednesday for what he called a weak and naïve approach to the conflict in Iraq and the effort to combat international terrorism.

Seizing on a comment from Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, Mr. McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, said that Mr. Obama’s plan to rapidly withdraw American troops from Iraq would leave the country in the hands of Al Qaeda and possibly other terrorist groups. 
In response to a hypothetical question at the debate, Mr. Obama said that although he intended to withdraw American forces as rapidly as possible, he reserved the right to send troops back in “if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq.” 
Mr. McCain pounced on the remark. “I have some news,” he said at a town hall-style meeting in Tyler, Tex. “Al Qaeda is in Iraq. It’s called ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq.’ My friends, if we left, they wouldn’t be establishing a base. They’d be taking a country and I’m not going to allow that to happen.” 
Mr. Obama, in Columbus, responded soon after. “I have some news for John McCain,” Mr. Obama said at a large rally at Ohio State University. “There was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.” 
Both men essentially ignored Mrs. Clinton, who was campaigning in Ohio on economic and trade issues. Mrs. Clinton, speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, said she was pleased with her debate performance and indicated she intended to pursue the nomination even if she loses the Ohio and Texas primaries next Tuesday. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said last week that she needed to win those contests to remain a viable candidate. 
“I think what’s important is that we have a lot of people yet to vote,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters traveling on her plane. “I’m doing everything I can to win. That’s what I intend to do.” 
She said she remained optimistic about the race because she is raising $1 million a day online. “People have just been really rallying to my candidacy,” she said.
Mr. Obama delivered one of his most aggressive critiques of Mr. McCain. For several minutes, Mr. Obama mocked his potential Republican rival as he answered Mr. McCain’s charge that he lacks sufficient foreign-policy experience for the presidency.
“I’ve been paying attention, John McCain,” Mr. Obama said, speaking to a crowd of 7,000 in the St. John Arena on the Ohio State campus. “So John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell, but so far, all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war in Iraq.”

Katharine Q. Seelye contributed reportiung.

Wishful Patriotism

The following from the WSJ gives a little insight into what "Obamanomics" might be like. Like a lot of Democrat thinking is is pretty much down the lines of "there is great plenty of everything, humans have no need of incentives and disincentives, there is no such thing as competition and the primary problem of government is one of redistribution". In a simple world like that, we can pretty much have success just by adding laws and bureaucracy. If such a world existed, I'm not at all sure if it would be heaven or hell, the only thing I'm pretty sure of after 50 years of life with 30 of them in corporate America while raising a family, is that this world isn't like that.

To attempt to link thinking about those largely economic issues with "Patriotism" seems WAY more disingenuous and divisive than the supposed Bush doctrine of calling the immediate surrender at all cost Democrats "unpatriotic". Just because somebody doesn't buy into the lefts latest concept of a lotus chewing nirvana where all needs are provided for by just pulling them out of the supposedly well larded coffers of American business seems questionable at best on the "can't we just all get along and sing cumbyah" path.

Anyone want to explain to me why it is "divisive" to question the patriotism of someone who claims that a war in which we are adding troops is "lost", but it is somehow "healing" to question the patriotism of businesses successfully operating, creating products, jobs and profits according to existing laws and practices.

Is it possible for everyone to have a whole lot more, do a whole lot less and accept a whole lot less risk? Gee, I hope so, that is why I'm in the technology business after all and during the 30 years I've been in that business we have certainly delivered. Everything to do with computers and electronic technology in general is 100's if not 1000's of times more capable and at prices that are typically 100ths or at least 10ths of what they were 30 years ago. (I paid nearly $5k for my first computer, a computer with 1000s of times more capability today costs well under $500 in dollars that are well inflated from the early 80's). I'd like to see someone claim that government could be innovative enough so that during the next 30 years my taxes will only go down by a mere 10x and my government services will only be a mere twice as good as they are now. I know I'm a softie, but given that government has less effective incentives and disincentives, I don't think they need to be held to anything like the standards that we in business live with every day.

I tend to believe it is very possible for the kind of economic growth that we have seen since 1980 to continue, but I also believe it is even easier to return to the stagflation of the 70's. It looks to me that Obama is headed back to the bad old days.

Obama's 'Patriot' Act

No, we're not talking about Barack Obama's opposition to the post-9/11 antiterror law. We're referring to the Senator's support for something called the Patriot Employer Act, which deserves more attention as an indicator of his economic agenda.

Along with Democratic co-sponsors Sherrod Brown and Dick Durbin, Mr. Obama introduced the bill in the Senate in August 2007. Recently in Janesville, Wis., he repeated his intention to make it a priority as President: "We will end the tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas, and we will give those breaks to companies who create good jobs with decent wages right here in America."

[Barack Obama]

Mr. Obama's proposal would designate certain companies as "patriot employers" and favor them over other, presumably not so patriotic, businesses.

The legislation takes four pages to define "patriotic" companies as those that: "pay at least 60 percent of each employee's health care premiums"; have a position of "neutrality in employee [union] organizing drives"; "maintain or increase the number of full-time workers in the United States relative to the number of full-time workers outside of the United States"; pay a salary to each employee "not less than an amount equal to the federal poverty level"; and provide a pension plan.

In other words, a patriotic employer is one which fulfills the fondest Big Labor agenda, regardless of the competitive implications. The proposal ignores the marketplace reality that businesses hire a work force they can afford to pay and still make money. Coercing companies into raising wages and benefits above market rates may only lead to fewer workers getting hired in the first place.

Under Mr. Obama's plan, "patriot employers" qualify for a 1% tax credit on their profits. To finance this tax break, American companies with subsidiaries abroad would have to pay the U.S. corporate tax on profits earned abroad, rather than the corporate tax of the host country where they are earned. Since the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35%, while most of the world has a lower rate, this amounts to a big tax increase on earnings owned abroad.

Put another way, U.S. companies would suddenly have to pay a higher tax rate than their Chinese, Japanese and European competitors. According to research by Peter Merrill, an international tax expert at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, this change would "raise the cost of capital of U.S. multinationals and cause them to lose market share to foreign rivals." Apparently Mr. Obama believes that by making U.S. companies less profitable and less competitive world-wide, they will somehow be able to create more jobs in America.

He has it backwards: The offshore activities of U.S. companies tend to increase rather than reduce domestic business. A 2005 National Bureau of Economic Research study by economists from Harvard and the University of Michigan found that more foreign investment by U.S. companies leads to greater domestic investment, and that U.S. firms' hiring of more offshore workers is positively, not negatively, associated with the number of American workers they hire. That's in part because often what is produced overseas by subsidiaries are component parts to final, higher-value-added products manufactured here.

Mr. Obama is also proposing to raise tax rates on affluent individuals, as well as on capital gains and dividends. This would also lead to more capital and jobs leaving the U.S. The after-tax return on U.S. investment would fall appreciably if these tax hikes were adopted, and no amount of tax-credit subsidy will keep capital from fleeing to lower tax jurisdictions.

If the U.S. didn't impose the second highest corporate income tax rate in the world, companies would have less incentive to move jobs overseas. Rather than giving politically correct companies a 1% tax credit, it makes more sense to reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate for everyone -- by at least 10 percentage points to the global average.

Economists have long understood that companies don't really pay taxes; they merely collect them. A study by the American Enterprise Institute has shown that U.S. workers bear the cost of the corporate income tax in lower wages and salaries. To borrow Mr. Obama's language, what's really unpatriotic is the 35% U.S. corporate tax rate.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Glenn Beck, Defconomy

Ran into this out on the Web the other day. The Democrats have been in power for a year now in both houses at the Federal level and and at the state level here in MN. Here in MN they are in the process of raising taxes on gas, cars and sales in the face of an economy that has already started to sour. Are they responsible? I don't know, when Bush took over in 2001 he was considered instantly responsible for the economy that was in a slowdown.

The fact that we have both congress and an executive branch at both the federal and state levels makes it more complicated. Both share some of the blame/success when it is split, but I think it is relatively easy to figure out "who is in charge". In the late '70s, it was really easy - Democrats had it all, and we had predictable disastrous results. In the 80's, Democrats had the house all the way, but Reagan had a lot of sway due to big wins in '80 and '84 and the economy boomed as he got his way.

By '86 he was losing on the interim, got into Iran Contra, and the Democrats mostly took over-the economy cooled. Bush Sr took over in a time of Republican control sinking and his economy sank -- which he helped by giving in to tax increases. Clinton took over with all Dems in '92 and an economy that was already growing and into which the federal reserve dropped interest rates to some of the lowest levels ever (for reasons that I still don't completely follow) -- the country sputtered along and the Republicans took over both houses and held the upper hand with a growing economy and dropping government spending until '98 when their attempt to impeach Clinton failed and he received the complete support of the MSM. (one could argue that '94-'98 or '99 were the best combination times of economic growth and reduced RATE OF GROWTH in government spending that we have seen since prior to '29).

Enter Bush, during the first year he had no capability and inherited a recession. After 9-11 he gained power and so did the economy until '06 when he and the Republicans lost big -- by 2008, it appears the economy is losing as well, we can hope that loss isn't big, but it might be. It seems certain that we are going to have some level of recession and the Democrats will continue to raise taxes on those most capable to get us out of it (giving a re-bate to people who pay less taxes is a form of a tax increase).

Beck thinks that we will get to somewhere between "defconomy" 2-3. I'd like to hope that we don't even sink that low, but the country looks like it really thinks that it is time to teach "the rich" a lesson. Actually, "the rich" are usually those that already understand "the lessons" pretty well which is why they are "rich". Economic slowdowns always hurt the folks at the bottom of the ladder the worst, but on the bright side they DO cut income inequality.

The top of the ladder loses the most percentage and real dollars of wealth as the markets drop, but of course all that really means to them is that they reduce DISCRETIONARY spending until some the nation finally decides that "the lesson is over" and we worry more about making progress at all rather than who makes the most progress. After awhile, the "success" of the rich guy keeping the Lear in the hanger a few weeks out of the year while you stand in an unemployment line and turn down the heat seems a bit hollow. Envy can be fun, but paradoxically, reducing it often isn't.

I'd argue that Obama may be enough of a demagogue to even go beyond FDR though and get us to "Defconomy 0", where we follow the road to the gulag and kill as many of the "wealthy" as possible, or at least "re-educate them", while the borders completely break down, speech becomes controlled well beyond "hate speech" and the destruction of family and religion is carried out. I just finished his book. Only a totalitarian state has any prospect of getting close to the "shared values" that he thinks we all "share".

Maybe we have a slowdown, come to our senses in a couple years and throw the bums out in 2012 -- we really need to, I don't see Al Qaeda as going away, there are a lot of social security bills built up, and most of the baby boomers haven't seen fit to save more than $50K for retirement. If we think the cud chewing masses and central bureaucracy in Washington is going to take the place of innovation and hard work, it will be a long and depressing depression.


How you'll know we're here: The housing downturn turns into a free fall, making it the worst collapse in our country's history. That not only triggers massive numbers of foreclosures and lost household wealth, but it also sets off another large wave of bank write-downs.

Odds we get here: Roubini told me that it's "extremely likely, even unavoidable" that we hit this stage because "the excess supply of new homes in the market is like we've never seen before." Prices, he believes, "need to fall another 10 to 20 percent before that clears."


How you'll know we're here: Americans upside-down on their mortgages and unable to pay their home equity loans begin defaulting on other debt, like credit cards, car loans and student loans. In addition, bond insurance companies lose their perfect credit ratings, forcing already troubled banks to write down another $150 billion.

Odds we get here: High. Roubini says that 8 million households are already upside-down on their mortgages and he thinks we could see that number go to between 16 million and 24 million by the end of 2009. A lot of those people, he believes, will simply walk away from their homes and send their keys back to the bank.


How you'll know we're here: Some banks begin to crack under the pressure of continuing write-downs and mounting defaults by consumers. A national or large regional bank finally collapses, triggering hedge fund failures and general chaos on Wall Street, potentially leading to a 1987-style market crash.

Odds we get here: Very good. Roubini says that we'll likely socialize the losses, "effectively nationalizing the mortgages or the banks." It would be, he told me, "like Northern Rock (the large bank in England that was recently taken over by the British government) times three." He thinks the stock market will head south throughout the year as fears about a severe recession are confirmed.


How you'll know we're here: Most forms of credit (both to consumers and businesses) become virtually nonexistent. That results in a "vicious circle" of additional write-downs, stock market losses, and bank collapses, which leads to even less credit being available.

Odds we get here: Good. Roubini says that credit conditions are becoming worse everyday across a variety of markets and won't be getting better anytime soon. Without extra credit available, people might have to actually (gasp!) live within their means.


How you'll know we're here: Welcome back to 1929. A full economic meltdown results in a complete failure of the underlying financial system. What will be known to future generations as "The Greater Depression" has arrived.

Odds we get here: Not likely. Roubini believes that this will be a "very painful and severe recession" that could last for 18 months or more, but it will be more like 1981 than 1929. Families may be eating soup again, but at least it'll be in their own kitchens.

Now, do I think any of what you just read will happen?

I have no idea, and that's exactly the problem. I'm not an economist or a stockbroker; I'm just a guy trying to make the best decisions I can, and picking the brains of real experts helps me do that.

But I do know one thing for sure: Depressions aren't advertised in advance. Last time around we went from the Roaring '20s to bread lines in a matter of just a few years.

Anyone who says that can't happen again either doesn't know history, doesn't understand how interconnected the world's economies have become, or is lying to you. While that doesn't mean you should panic, it does mean you should prepare -- something my grandfather would've done a long time ago.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


William F Buckley passed away today at 82, dying while working at his desk. I suspect that other than maybe dying in church, that is probably as good as it could be for him, and there is nobody that deserves a passing as they would desire more. No doubt the quality of discussion in heaven has already improved immeasurably, and those of us still here have one more reason to keep the faith in order to able to meet a great man in eternity.

I've written about him in the Blog before. It was Jimmy Carter that made me realize in a negative way that I needed to pay more attention to political ideas, Buckley that led the way to the right theories, and Reagan that showed that those right theories worked in the real world. Unfortunately, during those years I also learned that for folks from the left, politics is a faith beyond religion, and no amount of the failure of their ideas or the success of their opposite will ever sway their opinion. If living through the time of Carter, Buckley and Reagan isn't enough to realize the error of modern liberal thought, neither fact nor superior argument will suffice.

I and the entire country owe WFB a gigantic debt for keeping the spark of conservatism burning through some dark days and then fanning that spark to become a prairie fire sweeping Reagan to the White House and returning Americato greatness and freeing millions of people around the globe from the scourge of communism. Those ideas rage on in global economic development far beyond the imagination of the Carters of the world.

Sadly WFB passes at a time when it appears that a return to the darkness is all but inevitable. His passing is a reminder that as long as the flame of truth is preserved the dawn can happen again. The torch needed to be passed to a new generation of folks with capabilities like Buckley and Reagan, but it appears that has not happened.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Accidental Election Results Leak

Somehow I don't think there will be any concern when Obama wins ...

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Iron River

More pictures out here.

Great snowmobile trip to Iron River WI last week Wed PM to Saturday AM. Stayed at the Lumberman's Inn in Iron River for probably the last time. It used to be a great little motel with a nice restaurant next to it, but I suspect the mild winters of the past 10 years didn't do it any good.

Thursday AM was a bit chilly with about zero degrees as we went out to an excellent breakfast at the Rustic Roost. The Apex was a little cold blooded to start and we had to give it 10 min before the "wait" light went out, but it was fine the rest of the day. Drove over to Washburn and stopped for coffee. Rode up to Red Cliffs and made sure there had been a lot of folks on the ice (there had) before heading out. Got about 1/2 mile out and went into panic mode. The wind had cleared big sections of ice completely, 100 yards or more of pure black ice ... gave me a VERY uncomfortable feeling. Would have liked to have turned around, but really didn't want to because it SEEMED that those "might be thin", although one couldn't see just how.

About 2 miles out, off the end of one of the Islands, there were some guys fishing and I just had to stop to see if there were any known problems with the ice. Turned out that it was the In Fisherman trying to do some filming. I ought to have asked which stars were out there, but I was too interested in the ice. We were on 14" in 150' of water, it was one of those black ice areas, you could look right through it and see little bubbles under the ice -- not that comfortable of a feeling. That was least ice they had found, and they said folks had been driving all over for a month at least, if our sleds went through it had to be our time to go! We continued on down to the Bell Street Tavern on Madeline and had their excellent sweet potato fries.

Rode back over to Bayfield next to the ice road and enjoyed the great trails back to Iron River . 150 miles for the day. Some other guys from work were up there staying up near Washburn, but had a sled problem so I hauled their sled back up there in the trailer, about 80mi round trip, but nice to do a good deed for a fellow rider. We went out and ate at Deep Lake Inn, really super steaks, nice place. Slept like a rock.

Little trouble getting the Yamaha started again in the AM and we were all the way to me trying to tow the heavy beast and I burned my belt on the sled a bit. Learned a lesson when I changed it out on Saturday and rode down by Preston, even though it looked just fine, the new belt was MUCH smoother. Rode up to Port Wing and had a nice big blueberry pancake for beakfast. Six guys in their 20's eating in the next room having bloody mary's and talking smart -- having a fun time being young. We took off and rode on super trails across Valhalla over to the Pub and Grub near Washburn and had a nice lunch, then rode back into Iron River.

Sledding buddy was tired, so I stole the Apex and rode to Superior and back. Haven't been on it in awhile. I love my Fusion for seating position, ride, power, and especially lightness on the twisties, but on a flat firm trail the Apex is scary smooth. I like to cruise at 60 on my sled ... it feels great and that is fast enough. The Apex at 80 feels just like my sled at 60 ... it is like moving from a little rattletrap car to a nice SUV, it seems like you are crawling. I tried to still drive 60, but most times I would look down and be between 70-80 and have to slow down again. On the way back there was a .5 mil stretch where I could see there were no deer around and I had drove it going the other way for awhile -- 103MPH on a sled, fastest I've ever gone on one and it didn't even seem scary to look down -- no vibration, no ski chatter, no sense of it being "topped out" at all. With those snow conditions I have no doubt that one could get to 120MPH or more on that sled. Amazing.

Ate over at Ashland next ot the Best Western on the S end of the bay. Tasty, probably stay there next time we go up. Slept pretty good, but sleds were arriving every now and then after 12 with loud pipes and riders including the last set at 3AM. Got up and hit the road at 7, stopped for a good breakfast in the cities, pulled into home at noon. Marla wanted to ride, so I swapped her sled on the trailer, replaced my belt and we went down and put on 60 mi down by Fountain, Preston, Lanesborro with dinner at the Branding Iron in Preston.

Great snowmobile weekend, the 4-stroke Apex 150 HP Yamaha is easy to love when the trails aren't too twisty.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Liberals Switch Their Fantasies

It is interesting to see the NYT, NPR and lots of folks on the left re-assess the Clintons. I don't see anything that I haven't seen for 16 years from them. They have always been completely ruthless and "all about themselves". Is this something that has just dawned on the MSM and many Democrats? I suppose that as long as Bill and Hill were bashing Republicans, it seemed like just good old fashioned hardball politics, but I suppose once the their extreme nastiness the Clinton's started bashing their "Pope of Hope", the MSM / Democrat cabal suddenly thought the world looked different.

Unless Billary digs up solid evidence of Obama being into child porn or something similarly evil, "Obamamania" will continue run wild with the same level of intellectual realism as "Beatlemania", "Hulkamania" or other manias. After it runs it's course, we will have a hangover -- how serious the hangover is will remain to be seen, but unless he is "better than God" (God makes demands on everyone, not just "the rich"), he is guaranteed to be a HUGE disappointment. Much like stock market bubbles, mania is mania -- the results are predictable, it is only the extent that is in doubt. Krauthammer covers it well here.

No actual Republican can ever be prone to this kind of mania -- it is the domain of the Democrats, the "creative class". We like Star Trek, Moby Dick, and Wicked just as much or more as the most creative and hopeful, we just know that those are stories, and in the real world it is the common man that has to write the real scripts and keep the stage lights lit. I think the mania will likely work until something past the first 100 days this time, because a lot of folks really "want it to work". I always like it when Dorthy and Toto get home as well -- I just know it typically has a lot more to do with boring things like risk, reward, determination, commitment, delayed gratification, sacrifice, etc than it does with ruby red slippers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How the MSM Shapes the Political Message

Here is an article that is related to the Michelle Obama Statement, titled "Cindy McCain, Michelle Obama in patriotism flap"

Why does a Democrat even NEED a political staff when they have the MSM? Here are some pointers on how the MSM acts as a massive Democrat assist:
  • First, DON'T take direct MSM notice of what Michelle Obama herself said, NOT prompted in ANY WAY by "evil Republicans". She said it of her own free will, and when you watch the video, it is OBVIOUS that she meant what she said. Why not? She and Barak are obvious complete left wing partisans. They reviled Reagan I'm sure, HW Bush no diff for them, Billy C no doubt was WAY too centrist for them and W Bush was no doubt the worst of the bunch. If you are a partisan ideologue, it is "par for the course" to have "conditional love for your country". You love a country that agrees with you.
  • When the Republican sees that this is going to be completely ignored and makes a fairly indirect comment on it, go after THEM ... insinuate it is THEY that are somehow "fighting dirty".
  • "Consider it covered" ... for the few folks that even see this minor headline at all, they will never go off to the video and given the way it is written it will simply add to the traditional "Republican Dirty Tricks" -- everyone KNOWS that Republicans fight dirty, avoid the issues, etc. The MSM and the Democrats focus on the IMPORTANT stuff like if Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers or an affair with Frank Sinatra, Dan Quayle's failure to spell "potatoe", HW Bush not knowing the price of bread, or how well W did in the Air National Guard 30 years ago. Yes indeed, the Dems and the Media ALWAYS and ONLY focus on the important stuff!
It is very easy to see why the sheep believe what they believe, this is the only kind of "intellectual feed" that they get and it is hard to go searching for other pastures.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Michelle Obama Finally Proud of America

This article comments on her statement, it links to the video of her saying it in Madison WI.

What she said was:
“for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction.”

WOW. She basically said it twice, I think she was very honest. Yet again the reason why the Obama candidacy likes to stick to "change" rather than any specifics. Here we have an Ivy league power couple that has made millions off books alone, and knows that with the combination of race and gender they can punch their tickets whenever they want for 100's of K a year salary, bitching about that country that has already given them

Friday, February 15, 2008

Blueprint for Malaise

I received a link to Obama's "Blueprint for Change" the same day that I ran into this excellent Charles Krauthammer article. I still believe that the Clinton machine will find a way to do him in, but the hype has reached a point that I've started reading "Audacity of Hope". One doesn't have to read very much Obama to realize that one can write a whole lot while avoiding saying much at all. There is a lot of "inclusion", "shared this and that", and horrendously mixed metaphors that culminate for the Obama faithful in "he is exactly what I want". I remain unconvinced that he has REALLY said much beyond "hope and change", although he certainly wants the easily led to believe that he has.

I heard him say after the IL shootings that "he was a strong proponent of the right to bear arms". At least that is what I heard. I wonder if I'll find out that he really meant "the right to BARE arms"? That is a joke of course, but what the joke means is that he MAY mean just about anything, including what some Democrats like to say; it means that the ARMY gets go have guns! Since he points out in his book that he believes the Constitution is a LIVING document ... open to all sorts of "interpretation", EXCEPT in those areas where HE sees it clearly ISN'T open to interpretation. Who says he isn't a classic liberal? Well, he does, but then his voting record shows him to be the most liberal Senator we have -- naturally THAT would be unfair and "unsphisticated" to use to attempt to evaluate him.

Here is a bit of a sample from the 60 pages of "plan". This first quote is right off the bat in the book, so one might assume that it is important:

“I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists – and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.”

So then what might we make of the following from Open Secrets?

Does Goldman Sachs have no interests for their $420K, or are they just not "special"? Maybe they aren't a "corporation" or they have promised not to call anything they do "lobbying"? How about all of the other big investment and lawyer firms that are up on his contribution list? Even if we don't count what he is being given, what about all the folks that he is promising to GIVE things to if he is elected? How about Unions? Are they a "special interests" with lobbyists? How about all the federal workers in AFSCME? Is there no reporter in America that has the time to read his "plan" and check any of it out?

It is very hard to tease any real meaning at all out of his statements even if one suspends disbelief and assumes they are somehow connected to the real world. They would only seem like "a plan" to those that assume that the next big thing, the next diet fad, the next lottery ticket, the next medication, the next relationship or marriage, the next church swap, or in this case, the next politician is going to "solve my problems". To be human is to have sympathy for such thinking, since on one or more topics, all of us have been there. The "sale of hope" is as old as mankind itself, but our founding fathers were wise enough to realize that in leadership it is often quite dangerous.

There are many ways to say nothing. The easiest is to just speak in generalities and actually write nothing. The 2nd is to write a whole bunch of nothing. It is pretty easy to see why he sticks with "just change" in most of his speeches. It is even easier to see why the MSM is in no hurry to give the general platitudes that he would call "a plan" any scrutiny.

A concrete example;
"Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less Than $50,000: Obama will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This will provide an immediate tax cut averaging $1,400 to 7 million seniors and relieve millions from the burden of filing tax returns. "

So if you are a Senior that didn't take care of your retirement and have less than $50k of yearly income, Obama says you deserve the "reward" of ZERO taxes. If you are a Senior that was responsible your whole life and DID take care of your retirement, you deserve to pay for the other guys reward (he doesn't say how much you get to pay extra) The Obama way is to penalize work, study, persistence and virtue, and subsidize sloth, indolence, irresolution and vice. Of course he doesn't SAY that, he just says what the feeble minded want to hear. Dire Straits said it better; "Get your money for nuthin and your chicks for free".

It would be GREAT if we could get what we want with minimal effort, little risk and in a very timely fashion, but sometimes it takes a whole stack of education, hard work, sticking with things when the going is tough, and investing today in time/money/commitments that won't pay off until the future, and even then only with RISK. Doing the right thing doesn't ALWAYS work, but unfortunately, doing the WRONG thing seems to "work" with predictable results.

Watching this play out in the 30th year of may career and knowing that I can walk out the door at about 1/3 of my salary is a new experience to watch an election from. There are A LOT of folks sitting where I'm sitting, and there are MANY billions of dollars hanging in the balance. If we walk out the door, his tax receipts fall by a whole bunch.

Are we all "rich"? Well, although our incomes are FINALLY "high", we worked long careers and invested every step of the way to get where we did. We didn't say "write a couple books and win a Senate seat" and suddenly go to being a multi millionaire. Not many of us went to Harvard either. Do I begrudge Obama success? No, not at all, but it would be nice if he didn't begrudge my success and the success of those that work and produce either.

One way the US system is SUPPOSED to work is that you PERSONALLY invest your time and money in years of education and work in a competitive "filter" that gets tougher and tougher as you rise through the ranks. For each step you make on that ladder you "win" higher wages, but also have a tougher job with a greater chance of being fired - you are more visible and the expectations on you are higher. More of your life ends up being invested in your career. If you are able to make it to a relatively high level relatively fast, you will have enough earning capacity for some period of time to make all those years of investment worth it.

There are a lot other ways; create your own business and sink everything you have into it to try to make it grow. Join a startup company and trade years of your life for stock options that you hope against hope will end up being worth a lot eventually. The list could go on.

The point is, that if there is no "pot of gold", the incentive to do all the innovation, risk taking, hard work and "basic slog" through decades of trial / error / challenge / learning is reduced, and at some point simply goes away and we are no longer America. I saw us get there once at the time of the "great malaise" in the late '70s. From the looks of the electorate and "plans" like Obama's, it looks like we are turning that way again.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I love listening to the Democrats this year. I keep thinking of other scenarios where if someone comes up to you and says "there is going to be a lot of change", if one would be so willing to jump to the conclusion that it was going to be good. Try a few of these on:

  1. Your Doctor says: "Well, you are going to see some big change in your life".
  2. Your spouse tell you "There is going to be a major change in our relationship".
  3. Your Boss says "It is time for some big changes in your relationship to the company".
I could go on, but you likely get the picture. The MSM and the Democrats, especially Obama are simply saying that they are "about change", with little to no idea of the specifics of that change, and why it might be good. Yes, yes, I know that a bunch of folks see "anything but Bush" as being "positive change", but this is STILL way beyond what would normally cause at least SOME media personality or SOMEBODY from asking for "just a bit more detail".

It isn't so hard to be popular when the media lets you get by with "just being about good things". Hillary seems to finally be trying to get a LITTLE definition out of what that Obama "change" might be about. The degree that the sheep are willing to step up and pull the lever for "just change" is a testament to the perennial power of the demagogue.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Garrison Keilor Realizes Results Count

We're failing our kids |

Wow, this is the kind of thing I very rarely see, a VERY surprising and out of character for Garrison view that just because "No Child Left Behind" was a Republican idea doesn't make it evil, RESULTS actually DO count, and SOMEONE ought to be ACCOUNTABLE for those results. WOW!!! an extremely UN-lefty thought!

Naturally the responses from all the other leftys are 100% predictable with nobody supporting Garrison's views, BUT I give him extreme credit for being willing to leave the Education Lobby thought reservation for even just this short excursion.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Suicide Vest Waiting Period

Appropo of nothing, completely inappropriate, but hard not to laugh at.

Hey, if you are going to have a suicide vest, get out to a range and prove you know how to use it! Something that I actually DO wish they would do more, if a whole bunch of them want to own one, ALL I ask is that they demonstrate that they know how to use it ONE time at the range!

In The Know: New Iraqi Law Requires Waiting Period For Suicide Vest Purchases

Monday, February 11, 2008

Krugman: Hate Springs Eternal

I've started reading the Obama "Audacity of Hope" book and this column by admitted lefty Krugman from the times struck me as following the same general technique as Obama follows:

1). First, identify the REAL source of "hate" (or evil, or whatever) ... "Nixon", "the right", "Republicans".

2). "Be reasonable" point out how it is POSSIBLE that parts of that evil COULD sneak into the goodness of "your side" if you aren't vigilant. (in this article, poor defenseless Hillary and Bill are being tarred with "lies") Maybe this time, a few are from the generally good, although "personality cultish" Obama folks.

3). If we all are willing to just realize how bad the Republicans are, we can soon "all be on the same side", and then there won't be any more "partisanship". Won't that be grand?

Reagan had it right; the left is firm in their defense of your right to agree with them. They don't mind a few Republicans, as long as they are agreeable with the general Democrat outline and willing to roll over when the time comes. Olympia Snow is about as far "right" as they are willing to allow to live.

I guess that once the Dems get through, one will have no freedom to espouse conservative thought in public (fairness doctrine, blog registration, "hate speech"), no economic freedom (high taxes, closed shop unions, trade restrictions, regulation) and likely no freedom to worship since everyone else needs to be free FROM religion. I suppose that married Gay sex is "great good" that makes it all worthwhile.

Hate Springs Eternal - New York Times

Published: February 11, 2008

In 1956 Adlai Stevenson, running against Dwight Eisenhower, tried to make the political style of his opponent’s vice president, a man by the name of Richard Nixon, an issue. The nation, he warned, was in danger of becoming “a land of slander and scare; the land of sly innuendo, the poison pen, the anonymous phone call and hustling, pushing, shoving; the land of smash and grab and anything to win. This is Nixonland.”

The quote comes from “Nixonland,” a soon-to-be-published political history of the years from 1964 to 1972 written by Rick Perlstein, the author of “Before the Storm.” As Mr. Perlstein shows, Stevenson warned in vain: during those years America did indeed become the land of slander and scare, of the politics of hatred. And it still is. In fact, these days even the Democratic Party seems to be turning into Nixonland.

The bitterness of the fight for the Democratic nomination is, on the face of it, bizarre. Both candidates still standing are smart and appealing. Both have progressive agendas (although I believe that Hillary Clinton is more serious about achieving universal health care, and that Barack Obama has staked out positions that will undermine his own efforts). Both have broad support among the party’s grass roots and are favorably viewed by Democratic voters.

Supporters of each candidate should have no trouble rallying behind the other if he or she gets the nod. Why, then, is there so much venom out there?

I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. We’ve already had that from the Bush administration — remember Operation Flight Suit? We really don’t want to go there again.

What’s particularly saddening is the way many Obama supporters seem happy with the application of “Clinton rules” — the term a number of observers use for the way pundits and some news organizations treat any action or statement by the Clintons, no matter how innocuous, as proof of evil intent.

The prime example of Clinton rules in the 1990s was the way the press covered Whitewater. A small, failed land deal became the basis of a multiyear, multimillion-dollar investigation, which never found any evidence of wrongdoing on the Clintons’ part, yet the “scandal” became a symbol of the Clinton administration’s alleged corruption.

During the current campaign, Mrs. Clinton’s entirely reasonable remark that it took L.B.J.’s political courage and skills to bring Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to fruition was cast as some kind of outrageous denigration of Dr. King.

And the latest prominent example came when David Shuster of MSNBC, after pointing out that Chelsea Clinton was working for her mother’s campaign — as adult children of presidential aspirants often do — asked, “doesn’t it seem like Chelsea’s sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?” Mr. Shuster has been suspended, but as the Clinton campaign rightly points out, his remark was part of a broader pattern at the network.

I call it Clinton rules, but it’s a pattern that goes well beyond the Clintons. For example, Al Gore was subjected to Clinton rules during the 2000 campaign: anything he said, and some things he didn’t say (no, he never claimed to have invented the Internet), was held up as proof of his alleged character flaws.

For now, Clinton rules are working in Mr. Obama’s favor. But his supporters should not take comfort in that fact. For one thing, Mrs. Clinton may yet be the nominee — and if Obama supporters care about anything beyond hero worship, they should want to see her win in November.

For another, if history is any guide, if Mr. Obama wins the nomination, he will quickly find himself being subjected to Clinton rules. Democrats always do.

But most of all, progressives should realize that Nixonland is not the country we want to be. Racism, misogyny and character assassination are all ways of distracting voters from the issues, and people who care about the issues have a shared interest in making the politics of hatred unacceptable.

One of the most hopeful moments of this presidential campaign came last month, when a number of Jewish leaders signed a letter condemning the smear campaign claiming that Mr. Obama was a secret Muslim. It’s a good guess that some of those leaders would prefer that Mr. Obama not become president; nonetheless, they understood that there are principles that matter more than short-term political advantage.

I’d like to see more moments like that, perhaps starting with strong assurances from both Democratic candidates that they respect their opponents and would support them in the general election.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008


Went with a buddy to pick up his Bushmaster "Patrollman" today, but it turned out that it had not arrived at the gun shop yet. Big disappointment. We managed to spend some time punching holes in paper with our array of handguns (mostly his, but who is counting!;-) ) . I got the opportunity to shoot his .44 Mag, formerly "the most powerful handgun in the world". It has been exceeded now, but it is still PLENTY powerful, with a good deal of kick for me. It would take a lot of rounds before I became comfortable with that gun. It is a VERY cool Ruger revolver model, it is just that I'm not man enough to shoot it well yet.

For some odd reason, I also seemed to have developed a "pull to the right flinch" with my 9mm. Oh well, guess I'll just have to practice more. We were shooting an honest 25 yards today, and whatever I said about our first foray out, it was MUCH shorter than we were shooting today. I suspect that we were only shooting 10 yds before, BIG difference.

I also got a chance to shoot his Taurus 1911 frame .45. BIG hole, plenty of recoil, but nothing like the .44 Mag. Very much a style of gun in the running for "sometime" in my collection.

We took a target out to 75yds and got out my Remington 742 30-06 and each shot a 4 shot group. Hadn't fired that gun in over 20 years, but I'd kept it cleaned and oiled over the years and gave it a little TLC last night in prep for today. It shot very accurate, it seemed to want to jam on the final shot in the clip -- I'd guess that I need some new clips, the gun is 32 years old, that could have something to do with it.

Anyway, I couldn't resist picking up a new Bushmaster "shorty". They move their model numbers around quite a bit, but mine is an XM15-E2S, which looks an awful lot like this current model. In fact, it looks identical.

So why "an assault weapon"? The reasons are:
  • Mostly because I've wanted to shoot one since I was a little kid and they look extremely "military". I can't afford a Hummer, F-16, or a tank, so this will have to cover my little boy immature army fantasies.
  • It shoots .223 and NATO 5.56mm rounds. I picked up Wolf .223 at 20/$7 and some off-brand 5.56mm for 20/$10. I have hopes that in bulk I can be running at 20/$6 or less. In contrast, the cheapest I could get 30-06 for was 20/$22.
  • It has a 30-shot clip. When punching holes in paper, there isn't any advantage in having to switch clips more.
  • It is very light -- something like 6lbs.
  • It is SUPPOSED to be very accurate and have very little recoil.
  • Did I say it "has that look"?
  • It may be the last chance I have to ever get one. I know, I know, Democrats are HUGE supporters of ALL the rights found in the Constitution-like the right to Abortion, the right to a completely private call a terrorist of your choice, and of course the COMPLETE right to not have any kind of government spying WO a warrant, as in they would NEVER support having your company send a W2 form of your pay unless they could obtain "probable cause" that you were cheating on your taxes! They are SO trustworthy that I'm SURE that they would never try to infringe on a right that is directly listed in the constitution!
Now I have another reason to be very anxious for some warmer weather!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Jesus and Yahweh, The Names Divine

I picked up the subject book by Harold Bloom on the bargain rack for $6, a deal just WAY too good to pass up. Our congregation is reading through the whole bible this year again, and I have also been in a class studying "The Purpose Driven Life" (due to be blogged on soon), and the Bloom book really hit me well at this time.

Bloom is a "critic" of literature in the sense that he searches for the meaning of the style, allusions to other literature, creation of characters and even feeling, and tries to gain as much meaning as he can from the text. He is a non-practicing Jew by religious background, and he is awed by the literary power and originality of especially Yahweh in the bible. He is similarly moved and bothered by Mark's Jesus, and by the "impossibility" of the relationship of the trinity. He is unconcerned about "literal truth"--these are religious texts, they are to be MORE than "literally true". They are about a God and an existence beyond the human, beyond the temporal. To try to put God in a book is "the literal heresy". Yahweh states "I am that I am" to Moses, leaving the obvious potential for the inverse of "I'm not that I'm not"-Yahweh answers to nobody. He abandons his chosen people, his prophets, and even his Son to a cross of ultimate despair.

When we first meet Yahweh, he is a God that seems beyond human imagination, and fits nearly none of what humans would see as a "good God"- constantly demanding of praise, capricious, playing favorites with his people, then throwing up his hands and drowning them all. Dealing with the devil to all but destroy his servant Job, in whom he shows a pride that seems "sinful". Bloom c0mes very close to what I suspect to be the major truth of the bible: it isn't about US. God is SOVEREIGN, that means that "his ways are not our ways", but one of our gigantic tasks in this life is to accept that sovereignty, in total, but especially over our pitiful little lives. We don't judge God, he judges us, and without the covering blood of Christ, the result of that judgment is already known.

"J's Yahweh is the most persuasive representation of transcendent otherness that I have ever encountered. And yet Yahweh is not only "anthropomorphic" (a hopeless term!) but absolutely human, and not at all a pleasant fellow, but then why should he be? He is not running for office, questing after fame, or seeking benign treatment in the media. If Christianity insists that Jesus Christ is the good news (an assertion that brutality by Christians throughout history has invalidated), then Yahweh is bad news incarnate, ..."

Being Jewish, Bloom has a hard time dealing with the idea of Yahweh leaving his chosen people to the Holocaust at the hands of "the Christians". Bloom is essentially an agnostic Jew, so for him, "Christian" is a term without power, yet it is tragic to see how close he comes to the flame of the Word without the power there being quite able to reach his soul.

In reading Bloom I come closer to seeing how literature is so much more than "words on paper". Not well enough to convey that to another reader, but well enough to appreciate it deeply myself.

Break to the Right

The last couple of weeks have been one of those serious learning experiences for me. Regular readers know that I fully expect people of all polticial stripes to be "generally human" with the predictable results of misconceptions, inconsistencies and emotional reasoning. Would it be so that I could say enough prayers, read enough books or get lucky enough to not regularly fall to such problems myself, but I know that is not to be so.

Much like I harbored the illusion before 9-11 that if people were capable of doing something relatively sophisticated (like flying a commercial jet), they would not be the kind of 100% evil it would take to fly that plane into a building. I learned about evil that day, and it is one of those lessons that I will not be forgetting as many Americans have chosen to.

My current "false belief" was that to live a life of conservatism meant that one was forced to pay attention to reality and especially the reality of history, since to a great extent, the understanding that since the idea of conservatism is to live a consistent principled life, the only way to do that was to demand that reality be faced and history not be re-written to fit some "comfort of the moment".

I was wrong. As readers of this Blog know, I'm no great fan of John McCain -- opposition to the Bush tax cuts, McCain Feingold and "the gang of 14" would all be low points where I completely disagree with him. He does however stand very tall on the Iraq issue, and even when a whole bunch of what apparently are "fair weather supporters of liberty" got all weak kneed on Iraq, McCain stood strong with no concern that his position would cost him any chance to gain the nomination. That is the kind of courage that I'd argue that anyone that would seek any claim to being called a conservative MUST admire. They don't have to "support him", but agree or disagree, that is the kind of character that real conservatives admire.

Ronald Reagan once spoke of the "11th commandment", "Never speak ill of a fellow Republican". In those days, anyone to the right of a moderate Democrat was in the "radical right". Conservatives had been totally in the wilderness since '64, and although far more moderate than the current crop of far-righters remember him as, Reagan was seen by the media then as WAY over to the radical right.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Peggy Noonan, Ann Coulter and a host of other supposed "conservative" commentators have come out and said all manner of things about how they will never support McCain and will be staying home or voting for a Democrat. While I've listened to all of these folks at times and I'm sure I will again in the future, I have to admit that I'm shocked with their behavior. Were it just an "emotional reaction", it would be more understandable--I'm sure they see as I do that the odds of any Republican beating Hillary or Obama are long indeed, and that is dissappointing, but one wonders on their motives. Some thoughts that cross my mind:

  • Being in the opposition is FUN. You get to throw a lot of stones, ignore anything good, and NEVER have to take any responsibility. You just "blame the other side". With Republicans in both houses of congress and in the white house, I think these folks discovered that being in charge was a lot less fun. Even wars that you support strongly (and these guys did) don't always go smoothly, not ever stock/jobs report is rosy, and there is no doubt that the POLITICIANS that you hired don't live up to all your expectiations. Much has I have found in being on both sides of the leadership fence, it is MUCH more "fun" to throw some grenades at those in charge and just go home with a wonderful sense of self-righteousness. It may be "fun", but it doesn't get the job done, and in even the quite short term it is MUCH less deeply rewarding.
  • It is a long time since '80, and these folks have forgotten how cold it really is out in the wilderness. Having Osama Obama or Massah Hillary pointing fingers at their "scapegoat dejour" while passing vote buying prizes around like it is Christmas will get old after a few years of double digit declines in the market and increases in taxes. I guess these brilliant folks have already signed up to wallow in a few years of "Bush blame" right along with the Michael Moore's, Harry Reid, Teddy Kennedy, Slick and Hilly, etc, etc. I'm sure all those folks are having justifiable pleasure in watching the supposed rational right get in a complete hissy fit over McCain. Michael Reagan with "John McCain hates me" was one of the most wussy pieces I've ever read. "McCain is arrogant" ... oh, sniffle sniffle, PLEEZ ! I haven't seen him telling us "he didn't inhale", or wagging his finger and saying "I did not have sex ...". Wow, maybe there really are more closet cross dressers on the right than I would have ever imagined -- I suppose with the stress of having things not all go the way they had planned all the time they put on a few pounds, things got a bit too tight --- and suddenly the squeals have gotten high pitched.
  • A column by Mark Levin finally brought out a phenomenon that I never really thought I'd see from the right. Blatant re-writing of history in the service of trying to tar McCain, and in one of the oddest ways possible -- by claiming that "Reagan only appointed solid conservative judges"! My goodness, Kennedy voted with the majority on Kelo which outlaws private property if the local community decides they want to transfer your property to someone else!! If you can't stand up for private property, there isn't very much that is conservative to stand up for. O'Connor was of course the darling "moderate swing vote" praised by such "solid conservatives" as Biden, Teddy Kennedy and Schumer! Wow, our standards for being a "conservative" have REALLY gotten low, especially when the only purpose in the whole deal is to try to do damage to a fellow Republican.
I could go on, but the political season is still young, my opportunities will abound. I only hope that after the "Fairness Doctrine" comes back under the upcoming regime that folks like Limbaugh and Hannity are allowed to be heard anywhere but from a box on a street corner. Of course, that may be a major act of courage with folks looking out for "hate speech". Not pro-gay marriage? Don't think that "the rich" ought to have to pay their "fair share"? Well, that might require fines and jail you know-- the kind of "lies" that haters like that spread have caused a whole lot of "divisiveness" in our country.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Ballistic and price comparisons of some common pistol rounds.

Some conclusions to date:
  • 9mm Price/Performance can't be beat for a "real gun".
  • The good old .22 is AMAZING on price, velocity and even energy.
  • A Glock 32 or Sig Sauer 250 shooting the .357 Sig seems like a "must have"! The current ammo price listed is Cabela's bulk (so I bet I find it cheaper), it is easy to see why CIA, SS, Seals, FBI, etc have almost all gone .357 Sig
  • The .38 Special / .357 Mag setup in a revolver is still an excellent option

Friday, February 01, 2008

Billy in South Carolina

The MSM did take a little notice of Slick's desperation in South Carolina, but Krauthammer gets it pretty well here.

Clawing for a legacy

By Charles Krauthammer

Legacy? What legacy?

There was general amazement when (the now-muzzled) Bill Clinton did his red-faced, attack-dog, race-baiting performance in South Carolina. Friends, Democrats and longtime media sycophants were variously perplexed, repulsed, enraged, mystified and shocked that this beloved ex-president would so jeopardize his legacy by stooping so low.

What they don't understand is that for Clinton, there is no legacy. What he was doing on the low road from Iowa to South Carolina was fighting for a legacy — a legacy that he knows history has denied him and that he has but one chance to redeem.

Clinton is a narcissist but also smart and analytic enough to distinguish adulation from achievement. Among Democrats, he is popular for twice giving them the White House, something no Democrat had done since FDR. And the bouquets he receives abroad are simply signs of the respect routinely given ex-presidents, though Clinton earns an extra dollop of fawning, with the accompanying fringe benefits, because he is (a) charming and (b) not George W. Bush.

But Clinton knows this is all written on sand. It is the stuff of celebrity. What gnaws at him is the verdict of history. What clearly enraged him more than anything this primary season was Barack Obama's statement that "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that . . . Bill Clinton did not."

The Clintons tried to use this against Obama by charging him with harboring secret Republican sympathies. It was a stupid charge that elicited only scorn. And not just because Obama is no Reaganite, but because Obama's assessment is so obviously true: Reagan was consequential. Clinton was not.

Reagan changed history. At home, he radically altered both the shape and perception of government. Abroad, he changed the entire structure of the international system by bringing down the Soviet empire, giving birth to a unipolar world of unprecedented American dominance.

By comparison, Clinton was a historical parenthesis. He can console himself — with considerable justification — that he simply drew the short straw in the chronological lottery: His time just happened to be the 1990s, which, through no fault of his own, was the most inconsequential decade of the 20th century. His was the interval between the collapse of the Soviet Union on Dec. 26, 1991, and the return of history with a vengeance on Sept. 11, 2001.

Clinton's decade, that holiday from history, was certainly a time of peace and prosperity — but a soporific Golden Age that made no great demands on leadership. What, after all, was his greatest crisis? A farcical sexual dalliance.

Clinton no doubt wishes he'd been president on Sept. 11. It is nearly impossible for a president to rise to greatness in the absence of a great crisis, preferably war. Theodore Roosevelt is the only clear counterexample, and Bill is no Teddy.

What is the legacy of the Clinton presidency? Consolidator of the Reagan revolution. As Dwight Eisenhower made permanent FDR's New Deal and Tony Blair institutionalized Thatcherism, Clinton consolidated Reaganism. He did so most symbolically with his 1996 State of the Union declaration that "the era of big government is over." And more concretely, with a presidency that only tinkered with such structural Reaganite changes as tax cuts and deregulation, and whose major domestic achievement was the abolition of welfare, Reagan's ultimate social bete noire.

These are serious achievements, but of a second order. Obama did little more than echo that truism. But one can imagine how it made Clinton burn. He is, after all, a relatively young man who has decades to brood over his lost opportunity for greatness and yet is constitutionally barred from doing anything about it.

Except for the spousal loophole. Hence his desperation, especially after Hillary's Iowa debacle, to rescue his only chance for historical vindication — a return to the White House as Hillary's co-president. A chance to serve three, perhaps even four terms, the longest in history, longer even than FDR. The opportunity to have dominated a full quarter-century of American history, relegating the George W. Bush years to a parenthesis within Clinton's legacy.

It was to save this one chance, his last chance, to be historically consequential that Bill Clinton blithely jeopardized principle, friendships, racial harmony in his own party and his own popularity in South Carolina. Why not? Clinton knows that popularity is cheap, easily lost, easily regained. (See Lewinsky scandal.) But historical legacies are forever.

He wants one, desperately. But to get it he must return to the White House. And for that he must elect his wife. At any cost.

Why was he out of control in South Carolina? He wasn't. He was clawing for a second chance.

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