Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chill Pill

Hmm. Looking down the page, those last two posts were kind of cranky. Even for me. I shouldn't use the word "gook" so callously. Deep breaths.

Now, "gooch" on the other hand . . . .

(Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Benedick?)

Methodists v. Bush

Every outgoing U.S. President gets a presidential library built in his honor. These "libraries" are museums, archives, and history centers all rolled into one. The plan for the GWB library is to build it at Southern Methodist University. This should be an honor for SMU. But the Methodists protest: "They say United Methodist law requires approval from the church's South Central Jurisdiction, whose 290 delegates meet in July. The opponents say at least one-third of the delegates are against the Bush institute because it will promote his administration's policies that they feel conflict with church teachings."

Yeah, we know. Chief on the list of Methodists' grievances against President Bush is his support for the existence of Israel. It's the Methodists, after all who are leading the Divestment movement in America.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the Methodists have a host of other criticisms of George W. Bush. After all, American liberalism and antipathy toward Israel have become synonymous. The proof is in the public statements of "leaders" such as Jimmy Carter, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson; in slanted mainstream media coverage that exalts Palestinian "freedom fighters" while condemning Israeli "occupation"; in the "Death to Israel" signs and chants that have accompanied every liberal protest against the Bush administration since 2001; in the proliferation of nakedly anti-Israel course offerings at universities around the country; and in the widespread celebration of Walt and Mearsheimer's "Israel Lobby" screed.

McCain Hurts Gooks' Feelings

Drudge today has dredged up a San Francisco Chronicle "article" that excoriates Sen. McCain for referring to the North Vietnamese barbarians who captured and tortured him (and killed many of his friends in animalistic ways) as "Gooks."

Me, I think the man's earned the right to call those beasts anything he damn well pleases. He's made it clear he's not referring to anyone other than the VC. Everyone else should shut up and find more important things to do than fanning (and feigning) outrage and hurt feelings.

Children.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Also Surging in Iraq:

Internet Humor.

This is the sort of phenomenon that occurs in free societies.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Senator Kennedy Endorses Obama; NOW-New York Apoplectic

Seems the senior Senator from, err, ahhh, Massachusetts has endorsed Barack Obama's presidential bid. The endorsement - which the Clintons have laughed off as inconsequential, despite the fact that the former President reached out to Kennedy with a "personal entreaty" that he not back Barack -- has generated quite a bit of buzz. You'd have to be living under a rock not to know about it, and I won't bother you at length with the self-congratulatory excesses of the Kennedy heirs and their hangers-on.

But what you might not have heard is the response issued by the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women. Now, I normally would not trouble you (or myself) with such piffle. But if you want an example of why so few people take the so-called "feminists" seriously anymore, look no further than NOW-NY's tantrum-cum-press release on the Kennedy endorsement:
Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard.
Indeed. Everywhere I went today, "women" were mourning en masse. It was like the whole world had a raging case of PMS.
Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, and the Family and Medical Leave Act to name a few.
He was a little late in calling the police about running his car off that bridge too, but I digress.
Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills.
Yeah, well, the Kopechne family buried their daughter. Perspective, ladies. Live it, love it.
We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.
Insert your favorite President Kennedy/Marilyn Monroe joke [here.]
And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one).
And now we've come to my favorite part. Senator Kennedy can't possibly be pro-woman, they argue, because he has picked A MAN over a woman: namely, Senator Clinton.

Remember when feminism was supposed to be about equality of basic rights? Like, say, the right to vote, or serve on a jury, or obtain a license to practice law? And later, when it became about equality of opportunity -- the right to be judged as fit or not -- for a job, for a degree, et cetera -- by the same standards applied to a man?

That was then. Now, it's all about getting what's yours. These ladies have spent their time and money picking the lint out of the belly button that is Ted Kennedy's political career, and Goddammit, they think, it's time for him to pay the piper. Who cares whether Team Hillary has been making not-so-subtle references to Senator Obama's admitted past drug use? What does it matter that the Clinton machine has engaged in despicable acts of race baiting (the likes of which, had it come from Republican corners, would be decried universally by Democrats)? Totally irrelevant -- notwithstanding NOW's own purported dedication to ending racial discrimination. Seems racial discrimination is just fine with them -- so long as it gets them what they want: a woman (any woman!) in the Oval Office.

You see, for them, it's all about group identity. As the writer herself says, to be against a particular woman running for President (in this case, Hillary Clinton) is to be against the very notion that a woman could or should be President. Apparently it is no longer possible to judge an individual woman on her merits, or lack thereof.

Which, to me, was what feminism was supposed to be about.

Silly me.

How about some more?
This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation- to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who “know what’s best for us.
This, my friends, is what ultimately happens when you have a coalition of groups all angling for the biggest piece of the victimhood pie. Nothing can possibly be about just one person. It can't possibly be that Ted Kennedy thinks that Hillary Clinton is unpleasant, or a poor leader, or that she is a fine Senator but that Barack Obama would be a better President than she. It can't even be that Ted Kennedy thinks the Clintons are brash Arkansas hicks, unworthy to inherit the lofty Kennedy mantle. No, it has to be that he secretly hates all women.

Oh, and by the way, in case you were beginning to think, "Well, this is just one overzealous female. NOW-NY leadership can't possibly think this way!"

Well, you're right. The president of NOW-NY has equated Senator Kennedy's endorsement to "gang rape."

Thanks, ladies.

BENEDICK ADDS: Contemporary "feminists" have distinguished themselves by (1) ignoring the plight of millions of oppressed Muslim women (because to call attention to the horrors endured by them is to give political points to BushHitler); (2) nakedly trying to immasculate males via the public educational system and media; and (3) whipping up overdone outrage regarding tremendously contrived so-called crimes of the patriarchy. And they've pretty much marginalized themselves as a result.

One thing they might try, if they want to get back into the national conversation, would be to stop printing editorials that read like "Seventeen Magazine" tantrums about how the cute boy in school spread mean rumors about what Little Suzie did at Rick's party last Saturday night.

State of the Union

It's President Bush's final State of the Union address. I'm watching, and I'll be blogging. I fully expect a disappointment. The country -- all of it -- is so poised to move on to the next chapter, and Bush has taken to rolling over in his final stretch (particularly on domestic issues) that I fear this will be a whimper with heaps of ill-advised lip-service to government largesse. But we shall see.

By the way, the President's daughters are hot. H-O-T. Okay, irrelevant.

Refresh for updates.

9:07 -- He's walking in. I do love the theater of the President walking through the chamber and exchanging pleasantries with both sides of the aisle -- from Democratic representatives to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Good stuff.

9:09 -- Pelosi's all smiles and civility at the outset. Her grin makes me feel dirty.

9:15 -- He's feeling good tonight. He looks less old than he has much of the time lately. He starts on the theme of trusting people with their own money. Economy's in a time of uncertainty. Our long-term growth is assured, but the short term may be less certain. Announces the "growth" package (Dem politics) which assures the left side of the chamber is applauding early. Then he moves to tax cuts -- make them permanent. Less unified enthusiasm ensues. Zinger about limo liberals who profess to want to pay higher taxes: "I'm pleased to report the IRS accepts both checks and money orders." Heh.

9:18 -- On to earmarks. Good stuff. Earmarks are the public scandal. I note Democrats are sitting on their hands while Republicans cheer the call for reduced special interest spending. He has now threatened vetoes twice in ten minutes. I ain't retired yet, seems to be the message.

9:22 -- On to housing, then quickly to choice in healthcare. Hillary closeup, looking smug. Obama pouts at the notion that healthcare improvement means more choice, rather than government control. The Dems are collectively now turning cold as he moves on to tort reform and social security privatization. And school choice. And teacher accountability.

9:24 -- This is now becoming simply a terse, drive-by laundry list of policy jabs without much in the way of new, big vision. Like he's checking boxes on a list of issues. I'm hoping this gets deeper when he gets to foreign policy.

9:25 -- Free trade agreements now. Columbia becoming a trade partner means strengthening a bulwark against third-world, populist socialism. Hmm. The Dems don't want to applaud that.

9:28 -- Energy. New technology and innovation is key, and tied to the environment and national security. Meanwhile, John Dingell appears to have slipped into a coma. Oh, and a push for "nucular" power. I'm going to miss "nucular." Just sayin'. Push for an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases.

Wait -- WHAT?

Only useful if it includes China and other powers.

Now he's on board for controlling climate change. Meh. When's that election?

9:31 -- Stem cell update. Embryonic cell debate is over. We won by finding a way other than harvesting fetuses. Democrats are visibly annoyed that they didn't win that one. They'd rather win on principle than celebrate the fact that our goals can be achieved without slicing and dicing dead babies. It's a win for everyone, you dolts.

9:32 -- Federal funding for faith-based charitable groups. Yeah, I part ways with the President on that one. Federalism does not mean Federaleverything.

9:36 -- Entitlements and immigration wind up the domestic half of the speech: Bland platitudes and little else.

Incidentally, how stressful must it be for those in attendance to determine when to applaud, stand, pout, strut, etc. after each line of the speech?

So getting back to immigration, the Dems are applauding the President's vague slogans, which is not good.

9:39 -- The President recites successes and victories in Afghanistan and Iraq. Dems are disappointed. Of course. I think if he simply said, "our troops are still dying," the Dems would jump up and throw confetti.

El Pres says we'll deliver justice to our enemies. Again, Dems uninterested.

Free people reject terror. Cites Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestinians. GOP stands and applauds. Dems sit sullen. What is wrong with you people?

9:45 -- Iraq. Surge. Progress. Pelosi stares at the floor. At least the Dems finally stand and pretend to applaud the troops when cued to do so. Banghdad is increasing its forces; American and Iraqi forces are making huge strides. GOP applauds. Dems are so sad.

All deaths are down dramatically -- except for terrorists'. Al Qaeda is "searching for safe passage." We've captured or killed thousands of them. "Some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt al qaeda is on the run, and this enemy in Iraq will be defeated." GOP goes wild. Dems sniff into their hankies.

9:47 -- Speaking directly to troops now. Proud of you and your accomplishments. We pledge to give you all you need to protect our nation. Dems now join the applause. Until the Pres mentions fully funding the troops. Dems fall silent. Knaves.

9:50 -- Now says 20,000 troops are coming home because the surge is working. Great news. All applaud. Further troop drawdowns will be based on conditions in the field. Can't risk losing our hard-won gains. Dems sulk. Again.

Do I need to keep blogging every piece of good news that depresses the Democrats in Congress?

9:55 -- On to Israel. Two-state peace. Universal applause. *yawn* Next: Iran. Iran is training and funding terrorists and developing missiles and nukes. ("Nucular" weapons, that is.) Our message to Iran is, stop oppressing your people, stop building nukes, and we'll defend ourselves and our allies against you. Dems reluctantly join GOP on their feet for brief applause.

Terrorism at home. Describes various plots that have been disrupted and prevented. Thanks to our law enforcement folks. Universal applause. I'm betting on Patriot Act and FISA coming up next . . .

. . . Yep. FISA's first. Call to renew it. Dems go @#$%ing ballistic at the suggestion that it be renewed. Booing and catcalls. Followed by stony silence. Children.

Skips Patriot Act. On to genocide in Sudan. Easy crowd winner. Bah. The UN has ensured that genocide will endure. But, Bolton's efforts notwithstanding, that front has been abandoned.

Another $30 Billion to fight AIDS in Africa. The federalist in me is punching the humanitarian in me in the face.

9:59-- Pres shocks Dems by proposing to increase funding for veterans. Kerry stands up, bewildered, and is forced to applaud.

10:02 -- Troops should be able to transfer unused education benefits to spouses and children. Good idea. Judging from the reaction in the room, it'll be law shortly.

10:06 -- History lesson about the Articles of Confederation. Importance of human liberty as the core of our nation. The importance of The People. "Let us set forth to do their business. God bless America."

Scene

More on this tomorrow I hope, but this was a pretty pedestrian speech.

More Liberal Brilliance

The town of Brattleboro, Vermont votes on whether to arrest President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

That's right.

Me, I'd pay money to watch Brattleboro's deputies take on the Secret Service. Would that more sniveling hippies opted to pick fights with fully armed federal agents.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kerry vs. Clinton

Gosh, this is fun.

John F'ing Kerry: Bill Clinton does "not have a license to abuse the truth."

Something tells me Clinton sees things differently. He was issued his license when the Democrats decided long ago to worship him in spite of his (losing) struggles with the truth.

Liberal Fascism in Real Life

Here we go again. A New Mexico legislator (guess which party) proposes to tax TVs and video games in order to combat obesity and improve education.

To Hell with individual responsibility and liberty. The State will take money from all of us while simultaneously controlling our behavior. For our own good.

Where does it end?

Your Union Dues At Work

I've carped before about the absurd anachronisms that unions have become. In addition to making businesses dramatically less efficient, they have become tools of the Democratic Party and they waste their members' money on political advocacy having nothing to do with the workers' needs or concerns.

Case in point: The union-funded liberal advocacy group Americans United For Change is mounting an $8.5 million advertising blitz for the sole purpose of trying to keep President Bush's job-approval poll numbers down for the balance of his term in office. Not to pass a particular piece of legislation. Not to support a political candidate in the biggest election year in recent memory. Not to "bring the troops home" or any other specific, if dimly conceived policy position.

Nope, it's nothing more than an $8.5 million temper tantrum that Michelle Malkin appropriately calls a "therapeutic spending spree."

I am (mercifully) not a member of a union. In fact, in my work, I'm fortunate to be able to oppose unions on a regular basis. Something you may not know about unions is that, in a given workplace, if the majority of employees decide to unionize, individuals cannot then opt out. If your co-workers are duped into signing on with one of these rackets, then your paycheck immediately dwindles as the union arranges to deduct your "dues" -- like a tax withholding -- before you can get your hands on it.

And then the union funds Americans United For Change so that those dues can be used to "frame Bush's legacy" and to fight yesterday's battles. If I were a union member, I suspect I'd be able to find a better use for that money.

As an aside, Michelle Malkin lists the individuals behind AUFC, and one of them is a familiar name to me. Tom Matzzie is, among other things, the Washington director of moveon.org. He has distinguished himself over the last five years or so as one of the most visible public jackasses on the left. He was also in my high school graduating class. He was every bit the flailing buffoon then that he is now, but we had no idea how much he would excel in the making-a-pathetic-spectacle-of-yourself arts.

We're very proud of you, Tom. Now do us a favor and unbutton that top button. And shave. And try a salad once in awhile. I've got a feeling your "carbon footprint" is a few inches deeper than the rest of ours, if you follow.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Global Warming Update

Temperatures in the midwest reported to be 31 degrees below 0.

I know, I know. Wingnut lies. It's all about the consensus.

Iowahawk on Levant

In my efforts to stay abreast of developments in the Ezra Levant case (see here and here for background), I stumbled across this ditty by blogger Iowahawk. Iowahawk is consistently one of the most clever parodists on the interwebs. His take on the Levant case is a set of notes by the Albert Human Rights Commission inquisitor, Shirlene McGovern (Note to slow readers: It's not real).

I laughed out loud. I think it's about time I added IH to our links.

Uh . . . Wow (Revisited)

Shylock linked to a bizarre Scientology promotional video starring Tom Cruise here.

Parody was inevitable. But this surprised me. As the friend who brought this to my attention noted, it looks like Jerry O'Connell won't be doing Jerry McGuire II. Cruise is not without power in Hollywood. This took some cojones:

"Nemesis"

Victor Davis Hanson takes a classicist's view of Bill Clinton's recent vitriol against Obama. An excerpt:
He has fabricated almost everything from his own history about unyielding opposition to the war to why he magnanimously did not run in 1988. In temper tantrum after temper tantrum, he has told off interviewers, blown up at reporters, and hectored audiences. In the most embarrassing moments on stage, he has held on to the microphone with an iron-clad grip, and one cannot listen to him without hearing the same mantra of how he suffered at the hands of all our enemies and all for us.

The result is more than embarrassing to watch. Our first black President has unleashed a vicious campaign against our first serious black Presidential candidate — and all for the crime of standing in the way of his return for more. In a manner beyond the powers of the most right-wing polemicist, Bill has exposed liberal pieties and condescensions, or the idea that a supposedly black inspirational upstart has no business freelancing without sanction from senior liberals who have paid their dues and alone have the political savvy and experience to help black folks.
Hanson sees a sort of Oedipal downfall in the making. Boy, that would be fun.

I Don't Believe A Word of This

The only question it raises in my mind is what dirt the Clintons are using to blackmail this guy into making these accusations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh, Happy Day

At long last, my copy of Jonah Goldberg's new book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning has arrived. It took awhile, since I ordered a signed copy.

If you haven't heard about the book, you probably haven't caught the firestorm it's created. Since it came out last week, it has hovered in Amazon's Top Ten and is poised to debut at number ten on the New York Times Best-Seller list. It's making an impact.

If the title seems contradictory, that's because, as Jonah argues, "liberals" have succeeded in burying their ideological connection to failed collectivist regimes of the past and, simultaneously, have succeeded in redefining the word "fascist" to mean anyone or anything they deem evil or objectionable (typically conservatives).

Jonah (I call him Jonah, not "Goldberg," because he once responded to an e-mail I sent him) painstakingly chronicles the history of fascism in Italy and Germany and shows (rather than tells) how similar ideologies shaped the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mussolini was a hero to the American left, and so was Hitler (to a lesser degree) . . . at least up until he started gassing Jews.

"Fascism," Jonah argues, is a sort of political religion that assumes the state has the power (and the duty) to impose collective policies to solve all problems. It is a mindset according to which nothing -- not entertainment, nutrition, or even private thoughts and motivations -- are beyond the reach of politics. Fascism can result from benign and even lofty intentions, and Jonah posits that the American brand follows that model.

He points out about 100 times in his book that his aim is not to equate American liberals with Nazis. The book is not polemical. It is an academic (though engaging and witty) examination of ideas, how those ideas have shaped policies, and how resulting political movements have evolved. It bears noting that conservatives are not immune from criticism in the book either.

Not surprisingly, however, the American Left has devolved into utter hysterics. For example, a campaign has been mounted to ensure that a google search for "Liberal Fascism" yields the urbandictionary.com definition for "Fuckwad." Guess who "Fuckwad" is.

Yes, "liberal" criticism at its best.

Jonah takes it all in stride, noting that the hateful personal attacks show not only that liberals' intellectual cupboards are bare of contrary facts and arguments, but that the book strikes a nerve. If the first week's sales are any indication, the book strikes a chord as well, with a vast audience of Americans who are tired of the nanny state's ever-expanding reach and tired of a "liberal" political cadre that childishly brands any person or idea with which it disagrees as "fascist" without having a clue what the word means or how ironic it is that the intellectual heirs of Mussolini and his American admirers should wield it.

Most liberals who've reviewed the book have in fact been incapable of getting past the title and the cover. (Rich, isn't it, that liberals should insist on judging a book -- literally -- by its cover?) In addition to rightfully scolding such detractors for refusing to engage his ideas, Jonah points out that the expression "liberal fascism" was actually coined by H.G. Wells, one of the most influential leftist intellectuals of the early twentieth century. Wells was labeling what he saw as a necessary and desirable political order for the west -- something he alternatively dubbed "enlightened Nazism." Additionally, Jonah defends the smiley face with the Hitler mustache. It's a reference to a George Carlin remark that when fascism arrives in America it will be in Nike sneakers and smiley shirts, not in jackboots. This is a sentiment with with Jonah agrees.

If you want to learn a bit more about the book before plunking down your hard-earned coin, Jonah's got a piece of NRO devoted to discussing it here. If you've read Jonah and like his columns, or if you haven't but you are distrustful of big government, or if you have ever been called a fascist by a "liberal" who nevertheless insists on putting the goverment in charge of your life, buy the book and read it. It will arm you to put "fascism" back in its proper rhetorical place -- on the left -- and to put self-righteous liberals in theirs as well.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sarah Connor, Call Your Office

I'm all for Israel having cool military toys, but this one makes me just a bit uncomfortable:
Israel has been hit in recent years by thousands and thousands of rockets, mortar shells, and missiles. And that could be just a preview of the onslaught Iran may one day unleash. So Israeli military leaders have begun early planning for a new, robotic defense system, armed with enough artificial intelligence that it "could take over completely" from flesh-and-blood operators. "It will be designed for... autonomous operations,' Brig. Gen. Daniel Milo, commander of Israel's air defense forces, tells Defense News' Barbara Opall-Rome. And in the event of a "doomsday" strike, Opall-Rome notes, the system could handle "attacks that exceed physiological limits of human command."
See, I remember when this sort of thing was called Skynet and it ended up becoming self-aware and sending killer robots designed to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger back in time to kill young boys before they could fulfill their destiny of growing up and leading the human resistance against the machines. Which notion I very much don't like.

Now, I'm not saying "don't do it, Israel." I'm just saying "be careful." Indeed, there's something perversely grin-inducing about the prospect of an Israeli supercomputer getting ornery about the Iranians and going Wargames on their asses.

Would you like to play a game, Mahmoud?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Update: Canadian Kangaroo Court

Canadian journalist Ezra Levant recently spent 90 minutes being interrogated by a so-called Human Rights Officer in Alberta, Canada. His crime: Publishing the "offensive" Mohammed cartoons that caused such a stir (read: rioting, destruction, and murder by Muslims around the world) a couple of years ago. I highlighted the issue here.

Today Levant summarizes the proceedings in the Toronto Globe and Mail. In addition to pointing out the truly Orwellian nature of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, Levant notes, importantly, that regardless of whether the Commission actually imposes penalties for "offensive speech" (a notion that flies in the face of the western tradition of free expression), the mere act of bringing charges inflicts terrible damage on the civil liberties of Canadian citizens:

Even if I was eventually acquitted, I would still lose — hundreds of hours, and tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills. That's not an accident, that's one of the tools of these commissions. Every journalist in the country has been taught a lesson: Censor yourself now, or be put through a costly wringer. I said all this and then Officer McGovern replied, "You're entitled to your opinions, that's for sure."

But that's not for sure, is it? We're only entitled to our opinions now if they don't offend some very easily offended people.
Levant goes on to describe the backgrounds of the Muslims who filed the Human Rights complaints against him. For starters, they advocate the imposition of Sharia law for all and publicly endorse terrorism against Israeli civilians.

But Levant ends up being interrogated on charges of causing offense.

This is what happens when liberal multiculturalists dominate a country's politics.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Unsolicited Confession No. 5

I am utterly incapable of standing at a location of significant height and peering across the distance to another location of significant height without immediately imagining what it would be like to travel there on a zip wire.

Global Warming Update

Stifling. Somebody get me some SPF 50 sunscreen and an extra-large margarita. No salt.

Ignorance Despite Intelligence

I had a conversation about politics last night with a liberal Democrat friend who supports Hillary Clinton. It's rare that a liberal can remain cordial during such a discussion with a Republican, but this person managed it.

After we talked a bit about the individual candidates and the specific issues that are driving the election (we agreed on very little, but politely so), I steered the conversation to a broader philosophical question. Why is it, I asked, that you are so willing to give away so much of your liberty to the government?

My question was met with shocked silence. Then, What are you talking about?

Take healthcare, I suggested. The Democrats' solution to deficiencies in our health care system is to put the government in charge of deciding how much things cost, what treatments are available for which ailments, and when and where people can obtain those treatments. Put aside the questions of long waits and rationing (which are important but part of a slightly different conversation). If you give the government that power, you have surrendered your liberty. How do you mean? Well, let's say for example you have terminal cancer -- 99% fatal. And let's say that a doctor in a neighboring state is offering a novel treatment that increases your survival chance from 1% to 25%. But it's expensive. Now, according to the Democrat-enacted, Clinton-signed Universal Healthcare Act of 2010 (and related regulations), the government won't let you get the treatment. It's too expensive. And the fact that it only increases your survivability to 25% isn't a good gamble in the eyes of bureaucratic bean-counters. And . . . here's the kicker . . . it's illegal for you to pay the doctor out of your own pocket for the procedure, and it's illegal for him to provide it. Because it's unfair to others who can't afford it. You've given that option -- that liberty -- away.

This Democrat (who is very bright and unusually honest for a die-hard liberal) admitted that it was a troubling notion when I put it that way. (Not enough to warrant a deviation from the party line, of course, but good food for thought.)

Then I pointed to laws banning trans-fats in various cities. My Democrat friend insisted that it was a great idea. Why? Because some people don't know that trans-fats are bad for you, so it's important for the government to protect them. Well, I said, I know that trans-fats are bad for me. Does the government need to protect me? No, but you benefit anyway because you'll be healthy. Okay, I posited, how about ice cream? What? Ice cream. Or steak. Or cheese. Or egg yolk. Eat enough of it and it will clog your arteries and make you fat. Now you're being silly. Silly is in the eyes of the beholder. Ten years ago, you would have called me silly if I predicted that the nanny state would ban french fries.

But putting the food issue aside, because I could name dozens of other examples that prove the absurdity of banning unhealthy foods -- you ski, right? Yes, I love skiing. Skiing's dangerous. Tens of thousands of skiers are injured every year, hundreds of them fatally. Shouldn't the government ban it because it's risky? That's different. People know they're taking risks. Or how about normal household chores? Shouldn't the government pass laws that make it illegal to bend at the waist when picking up heavy objects, or to leave the iron on, or to climb a ladder without someone holding the base steady?

And then my friend said something that crystallized the issue and demonstrated the fundamental difference between how "liberals" and conservatives view our social compact:

The government gives us the freedom to make some bad decisions.

I paused and looked my friend in the eye with a smirk on my face.

That, I said, is exactly the point of view that makes liberals dangerous.

The government gives us the freedom . . .

The government doesn't "give" us any freedom whatsoever. We are free. Freedom is our state of nature. The government only has power over us to the extent we empower it, and we only lose those freedoms that we voluntarily relinquish to the government.

My friend scoffed. Well, I've heard people make that argument before -- that's just semantics.

No, I replied, it's not just semantics. It's the entire basis for our system of government. Read the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Read the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people . . . . The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

The Constitution is an express grant of powers from the people to the government. Those powers are carefully delineated and limited. Remaining powers and rights are expressly retained by the people.

Since the Constitution was ratified, however, and particularly in the 20th century, the government has dramatically overstepped its bounds, aided and abeted by often well-meaning "liberals" (or "progressives" or populists or other species of "agents for change") who exalt ends above means. These people hand powers and rights to the government on behalf of all of us, and they do so without regard for the Constitution's intended bulwarks against state encroachment.

Thus do our "liberal" champions of so-called freedom eviscerate our liberties. They give away our freedom to choose what we eat. They give away our freedom to choose how we will treat our own illnesses. They give away our freedom to decide how to spend the money we earn. They give away our freedom to choose how we will express support for political candidates. They give away our freedom to speak our minds, in order to protect the hypersensitive ears of the intentionally easily offended. They give away our freedom to set the temperature on our thermostats. They give away our freedom to choose how to educate our children. They give away our freedom to protect our families from violence. They give away our freedom to protect our children from sexual predators. They give away our freedom to be secure in our ownership of private property.

They give away our freedom to judge people by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin.

If history has taught us one important lesson about liberty, it is this: Once you give away your freedom to the government, it's awfully hard to get it back.

I concluded the political discussion with my friend by pointing out that when conservatives rail against "liberals," it's typically because we resent having our liberties expropriated by them. Indeed, this justified resentment is reason enough for me to call myself a Republican and to defend the Constitution even when doing so invites ignorant jeers from the Left.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Uh...Wow...

We all knew that Tom Cruise was a bit off kilter, but I had no idea how bad it was. You MUST check this out.

BENEDICK ADDS: I think it's fair to say . . . Holy Yikes. The good stuff really starts at the 5:00 (remaining) mark. And the bonus is the last minute of the video, which combines Mission Impossible theme music with a Super Friends voiceover. Priceless.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Presidential Primaries: Mitt, Hillary Take Michigan

No big surprises here. Mitt Romney got his first win, besting John McCain by a healthy 9% margin at last count. Hillary, who was the lone major Democratic contender on the ballot (sorry Strider, but Dennis Kucinich ain't a contender), has 57% of the vote; in other words, 38% of Democrats voted "Uncommitted."

What does it mean? On the Republican side, not a whole lot. At most, it means the field continues to be wide open. Mike Huckabee will be busting his proverbial hump for every vote in South Carolina, as will John McCain. Fred Thompson needs a big bump from the Palmetto state to remain in the race. Meanwhile, Rudy and Mitt will be focusing their efforts on Florida.

On the Democratic side, it means that Hillary Clinton has won a meaningless victory in a state where 43% of registered Democrats prefer somebody other than her. And that 5% of Democratic Michigonians, inexplicably, find Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel (frigging Mike Gravel!?!) compelling.

Life Imitates "The Princess Bride"


"Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't believe they exist."

Yikes.

Katz Question of the Week

Bill Katz's new blog (I know, I know . . . I seem to have a man crush) poses a question each week and invites readers to submit their thoughts. Katz then publishes the responses.

Last week Katz queried: "Why is it that intellectuals often support the worst causes?"

He posted the responses from his readers here.

Mine's the 8th one down from the top. I wrote:

I've often mused that intellectuals choose their causes poorly as a result of compulsively "questioning assumptions" in pursuit of novel insights. "Deconstruction" becomes habit-forming. It may prove useful in pressing the bounds of physical sciences ( e.g., second-guessing what we really "know" about sub-atomic particles), but its intoxicating effects yield headaches in social "sciences."

Hence we end up seeing otherwise perfectly rational minds question the assumptions that, say, human economic activity is motivated by self-interest or that private property rights are inexorably connected to liberty. Next thing you know, intellectuals end up endorsing collectivism or worse. I believe much of what makes conservatives conservative is our comfort with such assumptions that have served us well over very long periods of human history.


Many of the other responses are thoughtful and insightful. What say you?

PUCK SAYS: I think that's part of it -- or maybe it's the beginning of the story. But also (and perhaps paradoxically), I think there is an element of groupthink at play. Having been, in my foolish youth, one of those who swallowed whole the ideas so dogmatically embraced by the American left, I can attest personally to this. There were times when it seemed to me that the tenets my friends and teachers so rigorously adhered to were -- however enlightened we made them sound -- just plain dumb. But I wasn't going to be the one to raise that repugnant reality; to do so would be to expose myself as a nasty, judgmental, unkind person who favored the rich over the poor, who didn't give a damn about minorities, and who generally thought that she was better than everyone else. It never occurred to me that kind, thoughtful, non-racist people could hold different political opinions than mine. And the liberals I hung out with all thought the same thing.

I should also point out that I wasn't exposed to a sensible, non-inflammatory, well-reasoned (and non-religious) arguments for conservative and libertarian principles until college. Until that time, I honestly believed that such arguments didn't exist. Oh, how times have changed.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Taking on the Thought Police

Ezra Levant is the former editor of Canada's "Western Standard." He's currently a defendant in a Canadian Kangaroo Court. Here's how he summarizes his predicament:

"In February of 2006, the Western Standard magazine, of which I was publisher, reprinted the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. We were immediately hit with two "human rights complaints". These are a strange species of lawsuit, inimicable to Western liberal traditions of rule of law and freedom of speech. A real court would have thrown these complaints out as baseless, but Alberta's human rights commission has proceeded. Friday was the day of my interrogation. I videotaped it."

The clip above is his opening statement. More clips are available at his website -- http://ezralevant.com/.

Levant is fighting an important battle against a government bureacracy that seeks to silence critics of Islam in order to appease the radicals.

American Feminism and Israel

I may, at some point, replace this blog with a big, permanent link to William Katz's new blog, Urgent Agenda, because I find myself increasingly disposed to let him speak for me.

Ms. Magazine recently rejected an ad from the American Jewish Congress. The ad simply contained photos of the three women who serve as Israel's foreign minister, president of the supreme court, and the speaker of the Knesset (Israel's parliament). The title of the ad was "This is Israel."

The magazine's excuses for rejecting the ad are inconsistent and bizarre, such as that the ad was "biased" because two of the three women are from the same political party. The real reason for the ad's rejection is obvious, and Katz spells it out better than I could have:
Feminism isn't a movement. It's a sub-movement of the political left, a branch office, and the branch office doesn't run the corporation. For years what remains of American feminism has drifted further and further to the left, regardless of the impact on women. On the left, there is a pecking order. At the top is anti-Americanism, next is anti-capitalism, third is race, fourth is sexual preference, and way down the list is gender. Gender hasn't been high priority on the left in a very long time. Notice the deep interest of American feminists in the oppression of Muslim women. Emphasizing that crime, after all, might help American foreign policy, a sin on the left.
An ad that emphasizes the full equality of women in Israeli society would be a slap in the face of an American feminism movement that has decided to turn its back on millions of suffering Muslim women for the sake of remaining true to the Leftist agenda.

Think I'm wrong? Then go ahead and try to construct a coherent reason for the magazine's rejection of this ad. Make sure your explanation accounts for the magazine's pathetic excuse.

Race and the Democrats

It's kind of sad to watch the Democrats inject race into the primary. Every single one of the Democrats running -- including Obama -- is using Obama's race as an electoral hook. Of course, liberals inject race (or gender or sexual orientation) into everything. It's called identity politics.

William Katz sees a golden opportunity for Obama:
This is what Obama must do. First, he's got to realize it's in his interest to defuse the issue. A broad coalition is what he needs. Second, he must make a statement absolving Hillary Clinton of any racial sins. Given her record, and the blandness of her statement about Lyndon Johnson, the charge of racism seems, to quote the late director Otto Preminger, "made op." Third, he must make it clear to his supporters that every issue, for him, is on the table. "I'm running for president of the United
States," he should tell them. "I expect to be criticized. I expect to be asked a lot of tough questions. I want to be judged as any other candidate is judged. Ask me about my experience. It's okay. Ask me why I joined a certain church in Chicago. It's okay. Even ask me about my religious views and how they influence my politics. It's okay. I'll answer any question."

By making that kind of statement, Obama places himself above the conflict. He becomes the statesman, not the scrapper, which is what his supporters are turning him into. Then a real racist comment by an opponent will stick out with flashing lights. It will also signal his supporters to cool the race talk. It's a moral and statistical loser.
Katz is right, but it's not going to happen. It will be a very long time before liberals give up their obsession with classifying people by physical characteristics.

When The State Owns You

The UK, like most of continental Europe, has let itself slide precipitously toward socialism. The latest manifestation: The government proposes to harvest human organs -- without consent.

Repugnant.

This is what happens when your society empowers the government to control every aspect of your life. The government starts to behave as if it owns you.

And eventually, it does.

Friday, January 11, 2008

AWKWARD

Twins, separated at birth, marry each other. It's being annulled. But some things can't be undone.

Welcome, Wall Street Journal Readers

My link and post (below) to John Bolton's WSJ Online piece this morning apparently generated a link from that article to Primary Reason, which has driven a substantial amount of traffic our way. Ah, the interweb. We're all connected now.

As long as you're here, take a look around and leave a comment or two.

Seriously Unserious on Iran

Former National Security Council staffer (under Clinton) Mark Brzezinski and Council on Foreign Relations fellow Ray Takeyh proffer a lengthy exposition in today's Boston Globe that serves as a clarion example of the utter foolishness of the contemporary liberal approach to foreign policy.

They argue that U.S. policy toward Iran should be to open a dialogue in order to demonstrate that friendly relations with the U.S. are in Iran's best interest. Not because of the threat of force, but because we can be an even better friend to Iran than Russia is. The authors inexplicably make this claim despite acknowleding how Russia went about becoming such a good friend to Iran:

Russia's recent delivery of uranium shows Iran's ability to interact with outside powers to achieve this objective [of developing nuclear weapons].
So all we have to do is prove even more useful to assisting Iran in becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I guess we could simply hand them fully functional intercontinental ballistic missiles along with targeting coordinates for Israeli military installations.

That's not the only bit of silliness inadvertently exposed by Brzezinski and Takeyh. Because, despite acknowledging Iran's nuclear ambitions (including Russia's deliveries of fissile material), they abruptly contradict themselves, declaring that "Iran ceased work on its nuclear program several years ago" and that therefore "a nuclear threat is not imminent . . . ."

Not surprisingly, this self-contradiction is premised on a credulous, wholesale acceptance of the recent National Intelligence Estimate, which irresponsibly pooh-poohed the status of Iran's nuclear program (concluding that Iran shelved it in 2003). But the authors conspicuously ignore that the NIE's rosy conclusions have been credibly challenged as calculated political maneuvering against President Bush and based on incomplete data and sloppy analysis.

The NIE itself cautions that its conclusions are nothing more than estimated probabilities of varying degrees:

Estimates of Likelihood. Because analytical judgments are not certain, we use probabilistic language to reflect the Community’s estimates of the likelihood of developments or events. Terms such as probably, likely, very likely, or almost certainly indicate a greater than even chance. The terms unlikely and remote indicate a less then even chance that an event will occur; they do not imply that an event will not occur. Terms such as might or may reflect situations in which we are unable to assess the likelihood, generally because relevant information is unavailable, sketchy, or fragmented. Terms such as we cannot dismiss, we cannot rule out, or we cannot discount reflect an unlikely, improbable, or remote event whose consequences are such that it warrants mentioning.
The authors also shut their eyes and stick their fingers in their ears to ignore the substantial possibility that, even if the NIE is correct, there's a dramatic difference between dismantling a nuclear program and simply mothballing it. What do I mean? Let's say Iran was 2 years away from building the bomb. And let's say it really did decide to hit the pause button in 2003. Does it necessarily follow that Mullahs ordered the machinery dismantled and somehow purged everything they'd learned so far? Isn't it at least possible that Iran left itself the opportunity to turn the machines back on and sally forth at some point down the road? And if that's possible, then shouldn't we at least consider that no matter how quiet things are now, Iran's still really only 2 years from building the bomb -- from any point at which it chooses to resume the project?

You see, I expect foreign-policy decision-makers to give some attention to these unpleasant possibilities and to act accordingly. If the threat of force is what keeps Iran's nuclear program at bay, then by all means let that threat remain in place. It doesn't have to mean you're spoiling for a war.

But instead of acknowledging that a threat may still exist (which, in probability terms, means a risk is still present), our liberal friends would have us merely hope for the best and resign ourselves to no strategy other than the species of friendly and fruitless "dialogue" that has proven so useless in other, similar contexts (see post below) and which, indeed, the Bush administration has in fact pursued (dutifully but unsuccessfully) vis a vis Iran, together with the assistance of European allies.

And all of this is to say nothing of recent Iranian aggression against U.S. forces both within Iraq and at sea. These, too, are deemed nothing more than throw-away points, to be ignored, by the authors.

If Obama or Clinton becomes our next president, Brzezinski and Takeyh are precisely the sort of eyes-wide-shut "strategists" who will craft our foreign policy. Sleep well.

Looking Outward

With primary season upon us, it's easy to disregard goings-on outside the delegate map of the U.S. But the world doesn't stop, and neither -- fortunately -- does former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.

In a Wall St. Journal piece this morning, Bolton explains the state of play in negotiations regarding North Korea's nuclear program (at a standstill) and suggests what's to be done (stop the charade). Citing the promise of improved support from regional allies, Bolton -- a committed pessimist -- sounds a note of optimism:

President Bush can now argue without fear of contradiction that he has done more than anyone could expect to give fantasy a chance, and therefore make a policy course correction. North Korea has dragged out its performance for nearly a year, has less and less incentive to make Mr. Bush look good, and has in sight the possibility of a resumed Clinton administration, or something even weaker. By resuming a tough line on North Korea, Mr. Bush can at least make a future administration's retreat from a tougher, more realistic course, more difficult to explain.

Given the recent South Korean presidential election results, Mr. Bush will soon have a willing ally in Lee Myung-bak, who will be inaugurated on Feb. 25. After 10 years, a realist will once again occupy Seoul's Blue House, one who will support a tougher American line rather than oppose it.

Mr. Bush should meet with Mr. Lee as soon as practicable, and urge South Korea to join the Proliferation Security Initiative, a genuinely important Bush administration legacy. This will help squeeze the North, by adding South Korea's considerable knowledge and capabilities in the waters around the Korean Peninsula.

It will also reinforce Japan's continuing tough line under Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda -- given president-elect Lee's apparent willingness to confront North Korea on its horrifying oppression of its own citizens and its international record of kidnappings. If South Korea now joins with Japan in pressing the North hard on the kidnappings, Japan is less likely to bend under State Department pressure. This should certainly provide ample reason for the U.S. not to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism for the remainder of the Bush administration.

Aligning Japan and South Korea with the U.S. will allow President Bush to increase the pressure on North Korea internationally by resuming financial sanctions and other "defensive measures." It would also help put the spotlight back on China, which has the real economic leverage to force a change in North Korea's nuclear policy, if it chose to exert it.

Bolton's a serious man (with a serious mustache), who understands this game far better than I ever will. But I suspect even his reserved encouragement is trumped up to catalyze a shift in administration policy rather than an expression of actual expectation of positive change in the DPRK. Kim Jong Il is a (lilliputian) tiger who isn't likely to change his stripes without an existential need to do so. And no country or group of countries is anywhere near providing such a dire incentive.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Voter ID Update

I wrote back in September about a case being brought before the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge an Indiana state law that requires voters to show photo identification to gain access to the polls. Liberals, inexplicably, oppose such laws on the grounds that they are discriminatory. As I wrote a few months ago:

Reuters highlights the fact that this requirement is more likely to reduce vote counts for Democrats. Opponents of laws such as this one argue that photo ID requirements "intimidate" minority voters and therefore deter them from going to the polls. As though it were 1930 and we all lived in Mississippi.

The fact is, photo ID requirements deter the following people from voting: people who aren't registered to vote; people who have already voted earlier in the day; dead people; illegal immigrants; and wanted felons. All of which, I suppose, shows I actually agree with Reuters' assessment -- the categories of people described above are more likely to vote for Democrats than for Republicans.
Well, oral arguments were held at the High Court this week, and in a surprise development, one of the two people liberals pressing the case have held up as examples of people harmed by the law turns out to be . . . a fraudster! David Freddoso at NRO's The Corner picks it up from a local news station:
Faye Buis-Ewing, 72, who has been telling the media she is a 50-year resident of Indiana, at one point in the past few years also claimed two states as her primary residence and received a homestead exemption on her property taxes in both states.

Monday night from her Florida home, Ewing said she and her husband Kenneth “winter in Florida and summer in Indiana.” She admitted to registering to vote in both states, but stressed that she¹s never voted in Florida. She also has a Florida driver’s license, but when she tried to use it as her photo ID in the Indiana elections in November 2006, poll workers wouldn’t accept it.


The poor, disenfranchised woman! Until the government caught her and took away her Indiana exemption, she was claiming homestead property tax exemptions in two states at the same time (in many jurisdictions that is illegal) and she still has dual voter registration. I'm glad my home state has the ID law to prevent this person from voting in Indiana. She's clearly a resident of Florida, that became clear when she surrendered her Indiana driver's license and got a Florida one (perhaps she wanted to avoid paying state income taxes, too?).

What's so funny is that they looked around desperately for someone to use as an example of why the law is bad, and then this is the person they scrape up — someone attempting to vote in a state where she does not live. The search continues for the mythical person who has actually been harmed by a voter ID law.
This is far more entertaining than it is shocking.

The Colbert Report - Huckabee 1/9/2008

No, I don't like Huckabee for president. But I loved him on The Colbert Report last night. He was quick, funny, and playful. Which is what you're supposed to be when making an appearance on a parody news show. Colbert's whole schtick is portraying a caricature of Bill O'Reilly/Sean Hannity types. To appear as a guest on that show (or a Daily Show report) and -- as others have -- attempt to seriously discuss issues or get lulled into arguments -- is just silly.

That said -- I hope that, other than Iowa, this appearance marks the high point in Huckabee's campaign.

Puck: Congrats on your "Liberation"

So it appears Hillary Clinton's resurgence in New Hampshire represents not only a boon for her campaign, but indeed the wholesale liberation of women in the American political system. No, this isn't my theory; it's hers:

“Obviously we know what people will say, but maybe I have liberated us to actually let women be human beings in public life.”

That's right. Thanks to Hillary Clinton, maybe -- just maybe -- women will be accorded "human being" status in this backward, repressive patriarchy of ours. If we're really lucky, one of these days women will even be permitted to vote, to equal pay, to protection from gender discrimination, to serve on the Supreme Court, to be elected Speaker of the House, to be the governor of a state, to serve as Secretary of State, to join the military . . . heck, and maybe even attain the rank of general.

One can only hope. For now, let's just bask in the glory of Senator Clinton's momentus first step towards bringing women out of the shadows.

Puck, I guess this means you won't be ironing my shirt.

Kerry for Obama

John Kerry has announced his support for Barack Obama. I don't find this surprising, though I had expected Kerry to withold endorsing anyone until much later in the campaign. The AP's analysis suggests this is less a shot across Hillary's bow than a "slap" at John Edwards, who was Kerry's running mate in 2004. I'm not convinced. Kerry knows this race is between Hillary and Obama. He wouldn't waste his endorsement on a guaranteed also-ran, even if they hadn't developed a personal rift in the wake of their defeat.

The significance is probably minimal anyway. Although one typically regards a party's most recent presidential nominee as an important figurehead, I think anything Kerry-related is even less stimulating than it was when he put his base to sleep four years ago.

Now, if he actually got around to telling us where he really was on Christmas Eve, 1968 -- that might be interesting.

Dave Barry making with the funny...

Dave Barry's New Hampshire postmortem:

The voters of New Hampshire have made their decision, and the big winner is: Change. Here's the final vote tally:

Change -- 43 percent
Hope -- 28 percent
Hope For Change -- 17 percent
Hair -- 9 percent
Experience -- 2 percent
Dennis Kucinich -- 1 percent

Now it's time for the politicians and the press to drop New Hampshire like an ant-covered corn dog and sprint for the airport, leaving the residents of The Granite State to spend the rest of the winter plucking 239 billion candidate signs out of their snowbanks, all the while wondering if there ever really was a candidate named ''Mike Gravel,'' or if that was just teenagers playing a sign-planting prank. ...
Meanwhile there are many unanswered questions about the races in both parties. On the Democratic side: Is Barack Obama for real? Or is he, as sources inside the Hillary Clinton campaign have suggested, a hologram formed by laser beams? Is the nation truly ready for a hologram president?
...
Among the unanswered questions on the Republican side are:
Is John McCain, at 117, too old and cranky to be president? Like, during the White House Easter Egg Roll, would he come outside in his bathrobe and yell, "You kids get off my lawn!" Does Mitt Romney contain any human DNA whatsoever? Does he, for example, burp?
Oh yes. He burps rainbows.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

He who already called it gets good night sleep...

First of all, I'm insulted by the insinuation that I'd go to a strip club where the gals wear pasties. What do you take me for? Ok, maybe I wouldn't put it past myself, but at least I didn't spend last night checking in with Fox news whilst savoring role-playing game victories (head nodding to a black couch in East Pittsburgh).

Second, I called this one folks, and is anyone seriously surprised? That's right. See: comment to 'Today in New Hampshire'. I knew that the Iowa loss would light a fire under the Clintonian assemblage. Then, wouldn't you know it, there they went into the wild blue yonder. Her chief engineer installs tear ducts, Bill is out bashing Lou Dobbs, and now...the spin and Bush bashing begin. They're following the same frickin' formula and, by golly, it'll work. I am, however, a bit 'Puckish' when it comes to the actual numbers. I found out this morning that the nice lady from New Hampshire who asked Hillary how she stays so 'wonderful' actually voted for OBAMA...tee hee. Maybe the Clinton Campaign pulled a 'Weekend at Bernie's' ala these guys. In any event I'm kind of glad that she won because I don't like having all of this choice in healthcare. CAN I GET AN 'S'. CAN I GET AN 'OCIALISM'!? GO HILLARY!

Oh, and Before I Go to Sleep

Susan Estrich is creepy as hell. Seriously. Listen closely to the gugulubrations of her voice. If you don't flat-out gag on your oxygen, you're probably evil.

Sleepy time.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ha. Take that, Benedick.

I got my daughter to bed, cleaned up my house, and still managed to blog the NH results before you did. BWAHAHAHA.

Shylock, clearly, has a more interesting life than either of us.

BENEDICK ADDS: Dude. That's so messed up. your post was NOT there when I logged in. Meh.

MEH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(And if by "interesting" you mean Shylock is probably in a suburban strip joint at this moment, inundating a 47-year-old mother of six with compliments about her shiny-yet-almost-tasteful pasties, then . . . yes. Yes, he has a more interesting life than either of us.)

PUCK RESPONDS: Dude. Now that is messed up.

BENEDICK CHIMES IN YET AGAIN: Bah. You have one kid. A Beautiful, Wonderful kid, to be sure. But you also have a husband. I'm not impressed by your cleaning and swaddling. Besides, I had a family dinner. With a . . . (wait for it) . . . Democrat. Yes, there was much to discuss. And no . . . I don't expect the family relations will improve.

PUCK INSISTS UPON GETTING THE LAST WORD: Ah, another one bites the dust. Well, pip pip, my good man. You're still probably having a better night than Shylock.

Holding Horses

Hillary wins New Hampshire? Apparently. Conventional wisdom and all of the daily polling is out the window. It's the wild west. I'll admit I got a bit sanguine about the Clinton downfall. But, heck, now we've got a dead-even grudge match in the Democratic Party. Ain't that some fun? Gloves off.

Incidentally, McCain won on the GOP side by about 5 points, as expected. I continue to get more excited about pitting him against the intellectual lightweights on the left.

Notably, Professor Sowell (whom I respect immensely) disagrees. (Food for thought.) There's so much more to come. Political theater is the stuff, ladies and gentlemen. Gosh, but 2008 is going to be interesting times.

UPDATE: We'll post some final numbers tomorrow, but as the precincts continue to trickle in, McCain's margin of victory is up to 6 points and Hillary's is down to 2. Just sayin'.

McCain, Hillary take the NH Primary

Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a horse race. With roughly 60% of precincts reporting, the number-crunchers have called it for Arizona Senator John McCain at about 37%, with Mitt Romney tailing by about 6 points. Mike Huckabee is a distant third at 11 1/2%.

The big story is Hillary's win. With 65% of the votes tallied, she leads Barack Obama by 3 points, 39 to 36 percent. According to NRO's always fabulous Corner, Hillary did very well in the cities, while Obama cleaned up in the countryside. (Between that and Iowa, can we please put to bed the old saw that country folk are nothing more than gun-toting racist bumpkins?). As expected, Senator Obama also routed the former First Lady when it came to the youth vote and men. Unlike in Iowa, however, Hillary is reaping the benefits of the female vote.

I hate to sound like Rosie O'Donnell waxing philosophic on fire melting steel, but does this story strike anybody else as entirely suspect? What was the story they started to sell immediately after her concession in Iowa? That Hillary could be "The Comeback Kid" -- just like her husband 15 years ago. And then -- gasp! -- things began to look bleak indeed for Ms. Clinton. After Iowa, Obama's numbers in NH jumped. As the week went by, the polls showed his lead increasing. Nearly every major poll had her losing to Obama, and handily. Drudge's top story yesterday had rumors that Hillary's advisors were urging her to quit.

But wait! Just when the guillotine seemed ready to drop, we have a comeback! And Hillary has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

As readers may have guessed, I do not like the Clintons, and I trust them even less than I like them. But to be clear: I am not accusing anybody of rigging anything. I have no reason to believe that these results are invalid. It just makes me wonder whether somebody, somewhere, was massaging the numbers a little bit -- driving down expectations to make a close result here seem more like the commanding victory that was predicted weeks ago for Ms. Inevitable. As the last link shows, I'm not the only one who thinks this is just...odd. And convenient -- remarkably convenient.

The upside: I much prefer Hillary as the Democratic nominee. So I can go back to rooting for her to win so I can watch her get her hiney handed to her by the American people this November.

BENEDICK ADDS: Easy on the Kool-Aid, Puck. It is what it is. And the Clintons are duplicitous. But any suggestion that the poll numbers or vote tallies were manipulated deserves a healthy dose of M-E-H absent evidence.

PUCK SAYS: No, that's not what I'm saying at all, at least as far as the vote tallies; I thought I had made that clear. Apparently not. As for the polls -- well, it's perfectly possible, and probably the case, that these things are just wildly unpredictable. (It's also possible, as my last link theorizes, that the independents assumed that Obama would win and so ran to vote for McCain on the GOP side.)

Anyway, we're going to be living in interesting times. Not too interesting, I hope. Nighty-night.

New Link

It's been awhile since I updated the links over in the right-hand column. Today I've added one for Urgent Agenda, a brand-new blog by a fellow named William Katz, whose writings I first encountered over at Power Line.

During Mr. Katz's long and fascinating career, he has been an intern for a U.S. senator; an officer in the Central Intelligence Agency; an assistant to Herman Kahn, the nuclear-war theorist; an editor at The New York Times Magazine; a comedy writer for Bob Newhart; an interviewer for The Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson; and the author of ten novels published in many languages. His ruminations on writing, on Hollywood, on politics, and on just about any other topic that catches his notice are pithy and worth reading.

I'm happy to add Urgent Agenda to my daily reading list, and I sincerely recommend checking it out.

How Much Does that Snowman in the Window . . .

. . . look like Hilly's hubby? I don't know. I may simply be losing my mind. But that painted snowman at the Dunkin' Donuts in Concord, New Hamphire where Hillary appeared this morning looks an awful lot like one President William Jefferson Clinton after a couple of double scotches and a . . . er, smoked cigar.

New Contributor

The best decision I've made regarding this blog was inviting my good friend Puck to contribute. Given this success, I've invited yet another long-time friend to join us. In keeping with the Shakespearean nom-de-plumage, he's opted for the moniker Shylock.

I'll leave the "pound of flesh" jokes to him, but suffice to say he's a bright guy with a formidable wit and a relatively recent interest (or so it seems) in politics. Welcome aboard, Shylock. Try not to bring any fatwas down on our heads.

AdMitt It...Sexy wins you More(votes)Man

22 people on a button is impressive, don't get me wrong, but that's not enough to get Romney the Big Love that he needs from voters. Don't doubt your incertitude, Benedick . . . Mitt is no, er eh, Kennedy. He can't declare his private religion irrelevant. He's not that much of a bad-boy. He can't appeal to the "values voters" and the "bad-boy-loving, hard-drinking, Kennedy-liking, Clinton-missing voters" all at the same time.

Plus, of a sampling, which candidate's (or former underdog candidate's) family history is the sexiest:

A.) Bootlegging
B.) Ace product liability trial attorney
C.) Being Mormon and named after the poor man's glove
D.) War hero POW
E.) Former Govenor of Arkansas

And jeez, c'mon people . . . the Govenor of Arkansas becomes president???

Let's look at recent history:

Bush2 - He was a partier. People loves to party.
Clinton - Invincible, power of flight, etc
Bush1 - Still skydives...onto a pool of sharks...fights the sharks...home in time for supper
Reagan - Actor, dreamboat
Jimmy Carter- uh...Lynda Carter??

You get the picture.

BENEDICK ADDS: And in his initial post, Shylock manages to exceed his daily allotment of puns . . . in the title, no less.

Iranian Provocation

As President Bush heads out on a whirlwind tour of the Middle East, Iran's Navy has started making threatening gestures to our forces in the Straits of Hormuz. Power Line summarizes and links to some detailed coverage by the Times of London.

I'm sure this wouldn't be a problem if we simply were nicer to Ahmadinejad.

Today: New Hampshire

New Hampshire's primary is today, and it will provide another handful of tea leaves for the pundits to read. At this early hour, conventional wisdom seems to hold that Obama will trounce Hillary and that McCain is surging to challenge in a state that Romney's strategy counted on taking easily. For my money, both developments (if they hold true) would be good news.

The more desperate Hillary's camp gets, the more likely (and indeed necessary) it will be for her to expend anti-Obama ammunition . . . which inures to the GOP's benefit in the event Obama ultimately prevails as the Dem nominee. And contrary to some breathless reporting yesterday (on Drudge, among other places), I don't see Hillary dropping out anytime soon, no matter how poorly she fares in early states. It's her God-given right to be President, dammit!

I love the idea of a McCain surge. With Giuliani all but out of the conversation and Thompson failing to really establish himself as a serious contender, somebody's got to stand as a serious alternative to Romney. I like the guy, but he really seems to be failing to earn the trust of convervatives, and I'm squeamish about the general public's willingness, at the end of the day, to vote for a Mormon.

I've been wishy-washy about who my choice is going to be, I know. Right now I'm giving McCain a much more serious look than I had previously.

Monday, January 07, 2008

We Are All Playwrights Now

Benedick takes his turn at Imaginary General Election debates, and comes up with this gem, in which former U.S. Senator and Perpetual Pretty Boy John Edwards faces Senator John McCain.

McCain v Edwards debates would be very simple from a GOP strategy point of view.

Edwards: Blah blah, they took your jobs, blah blah, war is bad, blah blah, think of the children . . .

McCain: *scowl*

Edwards: *wets himself on national television*

[scene]

A Compelling Case for McCain

American Thinker's Richard Baehr argues in a piece at RealClearPolitics that if -- as is becoming increasingly likely -- Obama wins the nomination, John McCain is the only GOP candidate who can beat him.

I'll Take "Things the Clintons Do and Say That I Don't Believe For A Second" for $200, Alex.

Just in time for the New Hampshire primaries, the Clintons give us a daily double of duplicity.

#1 -- The former President, in the middle of a speech whilst stumping for his ball and chain, takes a phone call from Hillary and ends it with "I love you!"

#2 -- Candidatrix Clinton turns on the tears when asked by a devotee whose loyalty (she claims) was wavering, "How do you do it? ... how do you keep so upbeat and wonderful?"

A couple things here.

As to the first story: GIVE. ME. A. *@&#ING BREAK. As if Hillary didn't know that Bill was in front of a crowd at the time. Do they really, truly think we're going to fall for this stuff? "How sweet! He said he loves her! You know, I was thinking about voting for John Edwards, because I love his hair and he seems so earnest about that whole fighting for the little guy thing, but now that I've heard Bill declare his love for his wife over a cell phone, they've got my vote!" If that marriage were any more convenient, it would be a 7-11 -- and everyone in this country knows it. Everyone.

As to the second item, I've watched the video (link here) and I'm not buying any of it. First of all, someone whose support for a candidate is wavering does not say, "How do you keep so upbeat and wonderful?" Team Hillary has planted people to ask important questions before; I'd wager a sawbuck that this is more of the same. Second, Hillary has proven to be the most calculating political creature that I've seen in my lifetime. I don't think she does anything that she doesn't mean to do. (She may not do it well -- like, that Southern accent thing, or the cackle -- but the intent is there.) Third, if those tears are real, I don't think they have anything to do with love for this country and fear that we're going in the wrong direction. More likely, it's the realization that she's never going to be President of the United States, and dammit, it's her turn. She's getting beat -- schooled, even -- by some fresh-faced upstart who clearly has no respect for the role she's already assigned herself in our nation's history. How dare he.

The Clintons must think that we are all idiots. Or they are simply delusional. At one point in that video, Hillary actually takes a swipe at "some" candidates for being petty. How's that, Senator? Who was it that tried to paint Obama as a liar based on his kindergarten essay? And you're calling people petty?

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we're seeing the Demise of the Clintons. Let us hope they become the thing they fear most: irrelevant.

BENEDICK ADDS: I hadn't seen the ditty about the phone call (*blech*), but you just beat me to posting on the Weepy Hillary Moment. I agree on all counts, and I'll add that this hints at the potential for an imminent, spectacular, catastrophic, Howard-Dean-style implosion. Note the reaction to Hillary's display of emotion. Voters reportedly ate it up. Put aside the question whether the question was planted. Here's what's happening in Hillary's war room right now.

"Hillary Gets Emotional = Voters Likey."

They tried Hillary-as-southern-black-woman. Didn't work.

They tried Hillary-cackles-with-glee. Didn't work.

But maybe they've found something here, and just as things were looking bleak. Maybe, they're thinking, this is what can turn it around. Hillary shows human emotion; Obama supporters defect. I suspect we're in for at least one more public helping of Hillary-gets-emotional-sometimes.

Only she's a robot. So her premeditated displays of emotion are apt to resemble something more like Lt. Cmr. Data playing at being human on the holodeck. An overdone, on-camera, look-at-me-sob moment could absolutely sink her in titanic fashion. Just wait.

What Puck Does When She Isn't Blogging

She types up little ditties to keep me entertained at work, like this imagined debate (pondering a Huckabee vs. Obama general election):

Obama: "I offer hope!"

Huckabee: "Hey, I come from Hope!"

Obama: "I'll bring change to Washington!"

Huckabee: "I changed my weight and my health habits and when I'm President, I'll force you to do the same!"

Obama: "I'll end the war in Iraq and make sure we don't meddle in other countries' affairs. Except for Pakistan, cause those guys are bad news."

Huckabee: "I'm a warrior for Christ, and so is every real American! The rest of you need to seriously rethink your lives."

Obama: "I think we should let all illegal immigrants stick around. Sending them home would be so, like, uncool."

Huckabee: "Well, there's something we agree on."

[scene]

PUCK ADDS: As we fade to black, a large BOOM! reverberates. That would be my head, exploding at the thought of having to vote for one of these lightweights.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mitt Wins in Wyoming

Mitt Romney has won the Wyoming caucuses. Wyoming has only 12 delegates total (out of 2488), so this is a drop in the bucket -- but it's comforting nevertheless on the heels of Huckabee's Iowa coup.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Unsettling

If you've seen or heard Glenn Beck's show, you know him to be an outrageously energetic, upbeat, witty commentator and entertainer. Apparently he had a rough week. Sobering video.

More Iowa Ruminations

I'm glad Puck beat me to the summary of the Iowa caucuses. For what it's worth, my observations are these:

(1) Hillary's third-place finish is not surprising or significant. Obama's stock is skyrocketing, and Iowa is exactly the sort of place where Edwards' neo-populism should be expected to have appeal. Edwards has enough support nationally to hang on until late in the primary season, but this race is all about Clinton vs. Obama. Once states like New York, California, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts start weighing in, Edwards will sink. Good riddance, Chris Dodd.

(2) Huckabee's margin of victory is very surprising . . . but not ultimately significant in my view. Yes, it's a shock to everyone that he drubbed Romney (and the rest of the field). But Huckabee's the man of the moment among social conservatives, and the heartland is where his base lives. Once again, as primaries start to occur in states where the GOP has a larger contingency of fiscal (and not simply social) conservatives, things will swing toward Romney and the others. (There's an interesting conversation to be had about what Huckabee represents with regard to the future of the GOP, by the way. It's something I plan to write about soon in a separate post.)

(3) I was hoping Thompson would sneak up with a bigger share of the votes, but nobody's surprised by the result. I'm not ready to call him my guy, but I'm taking a closer look than I thought I would a few months ago.

(4) Don't lose sight of how insignificant these caucuses are. They consist of school cafeterias filled with bored people who have extra time on their hands screaming slogans at each other until everyone has decided what corner of the room and under whose banner he or she wants to stand in. Then they take a head count and assign delegates. It's a process Jonah Goldberg describes as "a mix of Chinese fire drill, Politburo theatrics, and Roman priestly ceremony." It's pretty silly. I'm much more interested in primary states (where far more voters influence the results) than caucus states. Which is why New Hampshire is a little more intriguing as the first primary state. Of course, I thank New Hampshire is filled with crazy people so I won't put much stock in those results either.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa Hearts Huckabee (and Obama)

Earning a big fat MEH from moi, the Iowans have spoken, and they have declared that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee shall be the front runner in the GOP race... until New Hampshire, anyway.

The good news for me is that my man Fred Thompson may finish third -- way behind at 13% to Huckabee's 34% (with approximately 80% of precincts reporting), but probably enough to keep him in the game. The bad news is that the man considered by many to be the GOP's best realistic conservative hope, Mitt Romney, finished well behind Huck, at 25%. Not good for him -- especially considering that he's spent loads of money and McCain is surging in New Hampshire.

On the Democrat side, Senator Barack Obama opened up a commanding lead, winning 38% of the vote with 96% of precincts reporting. Former Senator John Edwards landed in second, with 30%, and the former First Lady is projected to finish at a very close third (29%). To which I say: BAHAHA!!! It's a cold day in Iowa, but I'd bet good money that the iciest spot in the state is wherever Hillary Rodham Clinton happens to be right now. Brrrrrr!

[My schadenfreude aside, Obama scares me a heck of a lot more as the potential Democrat nominee than does Hillary. Hillary's so polarizing; slightly more than half the people in this country despise her, and many Democrats want little to do with her either. I just don't see any way she can win the general. Obama, on the other hand, just oozes charm, and I think people will respond to that, especially younger people, who typically can't be bothered to vote and don't pay enough attention to what the candidates actually, you know, say. He seems like a genuinely nice guy -- a nice guy who, in my humble opinion, however, has no business being the Leader of the Free World.]

Still, it's kind of fun seeing The Inevitable Candidate take one on the chin -- or glass jaw, as it were.

Oh, and for the six Americans who actually care: Senator Chris Dodd has dropped out of the race. I'm really sorry about that.

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away--

-- er, someplace in England, anyway -- a young boy successfully defended his mother from an attack by drawing his light saber and beating the assailant with it.

Doubtless he will be interviewed by scads of smiling blonde MILF-type morning news anchoresses in the coming weeks. How cool would it be if he insisted on talking to them like Yoda? ("My mother I defended. Her attacker's ass I kicked. Saved the day I did." etc.)

Or, better yet, what if he followed up on his Luke Skywalker impersonation with an attempt at eleven-year old male Jedi mind tricks?

MILF-anchoress: "Tell me about the scene where the attack took place."

Luke Skywalker kid: "Swardeston, near Norwich, England. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainry. Now, take off your bra."

Now that's television I'd pay to see.

BENEDICK ADDS: I just want to make it abundantly clear that Puck -- not Benedick -- posted this. Oh, and for the record, it's "Long, long ago . . . " not "A long time ago . . ." A minor quibble to be sure, but the sort of detail that could induce seizures in the species of ardent Star Wars fans who attend conventions and whatnot.

Make It Stop

Really. This may surprise you, but I'm getting bored with pointing out the perfidy of the New York Times. But, goshdarnit, if my liberal friends are going to continue to insist there's no liberal bias of any kind at the Times, I'm going to continue to point out what maroons they are.

So today, some quick math for all you probability and statistics gurus. Assume the New York Times receives around 1,000 letters per day. And assume it publishes about 15 of them. What are your odds of getting a letter published? Probably about 1.5%. Right?

Let's take it up a notch. Based on the foregoing, assume the Times receives about 1.8 million letters over a five-year period. What are the chances that one person -- a non-public figure -- would get 20 letters published? Not so good, right?

Well, unless that person is a fake Republican writing to excoriate the GOP. In that case, Mr. Lowenstein, step right up.

(Nothing to see here, folks. Move along . . . .)