Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Will McCain Get the Nomination?

After Florida, it looks like John McCain will be the next President of the USA. I suspect Giuliani will be his Vice President pick because Rudy could bring New York, New Jersey and Connecticut with him. If the Democrat has to expend resources protecting that turf, it will be tough for the Dem to win. Plus, Rudy's quitting and endorsing McCain is a huge help going into Super Tuesday.

I think McCain will beat Romney, whose pragmatism makes him seem like "Mr. Plastic," a phony man who says whatever is needed, depending on who he's talking to. (Didn't we get enough of that from Clinton and Bush 41?) McCain, whatever you think of him, comes across as an honest, plainspoken man. At least by politicians' standards. Of all the candidates in both parties, Romney is the one I'd least want to have a beer with. Still, Romney could win if Conservatives rally around him to stop McCain. Romney will have to spend his money -- lots of it.

McCain, if he is the Republican nominee, will beat either Obama or Clinton. McCain loves to flout conservatives, and that maverick streak appeals to independents. This is a shallow criterion by which to measure a candidate, but a great many people give voting little thought. I know an independent who admires McCain, because, in his words, "He seems like a nice guy." And that, apparently, is enough to win an independent's vote.

McCain is the Democrats' worst nightmare. In the end, Republicans will hold their nose and vote for him simply because he doesn't have a D after his name. The Republicans will be energized sometime in October when the Democrats begin playing dirty tricks and attempting to assassinate McCain's character. The Democrat Party is the best thing the Republican Party has going for it! Add legions of independents voting for a candidate who is more their guy than anyone since Perot in 1992, and you have the making of a rout. (Imagine Perot's 19% added to whatever Bush got in '92.)

I believe Republicans are voting for McCain because of his electability. The purpose of political parties, after all, is winning elections.

Robert Tracinski observes in his latest TIA Daily that Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Obama represents a public rebuke of Clinton's cynicism.

This means that the Democrats are now beginning to see their party's primary as a test of their own moral self-image: jaded pragmatists for the Clintons, youthful idealists for Obama. On those terms, how many Democrats—hoping to recapture their party's youthful glory days—will be able to resist Obama?

So the Democrats, a party of collectivists that would happily enslave us all to the welfare state, are voting from idealism. Meanwhile, Republicans, who until recently were known to mumble from time to time in favor of real ideals such as liberty and small government, are voting from a cynical, unprincipled yearning for power. Cue the Yeats line:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

But that's not exactly apt, as the Republicans are far from the best we have in America.

A McCain nomination might be good for America for two reasons. First, people will better see that the Republican Party is a party of big government and welfare state. Classical liberals and other supporters of free markets and individual liberty will better see that neither party is for them. Second, if an economic crisis hits the next president, be he Democrat or Republican, it will be a little harder to blame it on capitalism.

UPDATE: Slight revision.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Romney's War Plans

Captain Ed asked Mitt Romney how he would fight the global Jihad. Romney's answer:

Well, we face a wide array of nations that are under the threat of global Jihadist, and some like the Philippines or Indonesia the threat is of a very different nature of that, which is being experienced in a place like Iraq and so our involvement and the nature of our involvement is going to be different. So let me describe the kind of options we have. First, I would bring together other nations along with ourselves to make sure collectively that we are fighting global Jihad and that we are fighting it with our military as well as our non-military resources. In terms of our military force, in some cases it will require the kind of actions that you see in a place like Afghanistan, a full military attack. In others, a different kind of military effort would be called for. As an example, in the Philippines, an Army Special Forces team was able to help those people reject an offshoot of Al Qaeda. This was not, you know, men with rifles and tanks but instead a Special Forces unit that helped build bridges, build water projects, move the civilian population to support the Filipino government and democracy and ultimately that has virtually eliminated the threat of global Jihad there. And I have called for what I have described as a special partnership force; meaning the creation of small units of intelligence plus army special forces personnel which are able to drawn into a nation which ask for help, to support that nation in its effort to reject the violent and the extreme. In many cases, the Muslim nation itself will be able to do the best job in eliminating the threat of radical Jihad and we can support that effort through a special partnership force of the type I have described.

This answer is weak. First, he talks about working with other nations. Building coalitions has only sapped our strength for the last 20 years and convinced the enemy we're more worried about world opinion than self-defense. In order to show the enemy we are serious about war, we need to forget building a pretense of international cooperation and set about defeating the enemy alone. The most devastating message the enemy could get at this moment is that America does not give a damn what France thinks, we are going to destroy our enemy.

Second, Romney is talking about more altruistic nation-building instead of waging war. Notice what he envisions Special Forces doing:

This was not, you know, men with rifles and tanks but instead a Special Forces unit that helped build bridges, build water projects, move the civilian population to support the Filipino government and democracy...

Romney has no vision of waging serious war. There is no mention here of eradicating states that sponsor terrorism and no mention of going after Iran. His presidency will be an extension of Bush's neoconservative "Long War." We'll be pouring American tax dollars into every jungle on the globe, but the enemy will live on.

UPDATE: Romney stinks of pragmatism. It's common among Republicans. Toward the end of his life, Richard Nixon, the ultimate pragmatist, was asked how he would advise Bush 41 to defend himself against charges of flip-flopping. Nixon's reply, as I remember it, was, "Easy! Just say 'That was then, this is now.'"

It makes sense to a pragmatist. I mean, yesterday was a whole different day, with different circumstances to deal with. How can anyone keep principles when responding to the crisis of the hour?

Romney, with his long history of flip-flops, his emphasis on managerial expertise (don't they teach pragmatism at Harvard Business School?) and his seeming lack of any principled center other than religion, strikes me as very much a pragmatist. This is another thing to watch as we get to know him better. If he ever gets into the White House, he could make Bush look like Goldwater.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama's Big Day

I just listened to Barack Obama give his victory speech in South Carolina. And lo, it was a mighty blast of wind. What a voice! What inspiring rhetoric! Full of sound and fury signifying nothing!

What does "Change we can believe in" mean? As near as I can guess, it means that we have been promised change in the past, but things have always stayed the same; now, however, you can believe in Obama's promises because he will actually change things in Washington, D.C. Or something like that. If I'm wrong, tell me in the comments. I could easily be wrong, as the motto is one of those vague political slogans that are calculated to offend no one. I mean, who will think, "But I want change I CAN'T believe in"?

In his speech Obama said (putting it all in my words) he wants to socialize medicine, to withdraw our troops from Iraq and to throw more money at public education. The Iraq stand does represent legitimate change. The rest is just more welfare state, and there ain't nothin' new about that.

I take all his talk about rising above race as a coded slap at the Clintons, who have done their best to remind white voters that Obama has melanin in his skin. Anything that humiliates a Clinton is always welcome. This is the most gratifying aspect of Obama's electoral success.

Can Obama win on November 4th? Yes, if he keeps his angry leftist wife hidden until November 5th. Yes, if the Republicans nominate Mitt Romney, a pandering, insincere man who makes Obama look like Martin Luther King, Jr. First, though, Obama has to get past the Clinton machine, which I don't see happening.

As of today both the Republican and Democrat nomination is yet to be decided. Super Tuesday will be the political junky's Superbowl.

UPDATE: On second thought, my interpretation of Obama's slogan, "Change we can believe in," is wrong. My meaning would be better phrased, "Promises we can believe."

Perhaps Obama's slogan is attempting to combine the word change with idealism. So the slogan is saying, "Obama's change will bring about our ideals." If your ideals are altruism-collectivism-statism, that makes sense. (One might reword the slogan as "Change that will enslave us.") Ultimately, the slogan doesn't have to make sense as long as it makes Obama's voters feel good.

Collectivism vs. Pseudo-Individualism

Gina Cobb makes an interesting observation:

But the left is still missing the most important part of what conservatism has to offer. They've missed out on the optimism, the realistic hope, and the belief in the competency of individuals that is at the heart of conservatism.

(In the next paragraph, she destroys her argument by equating individualism with anti-abortion. More on this below.)

Hillary Clinton does try for optimism, but she thinks it comes from state intervention in the economy.

During the debate on climate change, that we finally got onto the floor thanks to Senators McCain and Lieberman, although we were only given three hours to debate climate change, I was struck by the pessimism and the fatalism from the other side. This was a problem that they either didn't believe existed, or if it existed, would somehow fix itself at the appropriate time, somewhere in the future. That has never been America's attitude. And when I was speaking on the floor that day, I said, you know, I can't believe what I'm hearing. There are, I suppose, still a few people left somewhere who believe that climate change is not a problem, but the vast scientific established opinion is that it is, and we should go about dealing with it now. And guess what? We can make money and create jobs if we do. That's the kind of can-do spirit that I was raised with, that I believe in. And it's that loss of spirit, as much as the loss of jobs, that deeply troubles me.

As I wrote about Clinton's equating the can-do spirit with collectivism:

She is equating the positive American sense of life that is a heritage of Enlightenment individualism with big government. She uses America's can-do spirit, which developed when America was a free country and when Americans were expected to be self-reliant, to defend the one thing that is destroying that spirit -- the welfare state! How's that for an example of the parasitic nature of evil?

It seems to be one of the most striking differences between liberalism and conservatism: liberals believe that individuals are metaphysically helpless and need to be controlled by the state for their own good, whereas conservatives believe individuals should be left free to pursue and achieve their own happiness. Liberals are collectivist; conservatives are individualist.

But are conservatives really individualist? Certainly, when Rush Limbaugh is at his best he extols individualism and talks about how everyone can better himself with initiative and hard work. Unlike Senator Clinton, Limbaugh understands that individual freedom, not the wretched welfare state, made America great.

So why is it that the nanny state has grown under every conservative president? Why did government double in size under Reagan? Why didn't Reagan at least dismantle the Departments of Energy and Education, which our country lived just fine without for 200 years until Jimmy Carter saw a need for state meddling in these areas? Why did George H.W. Bush sign the Americans for Disabilities Act, one of the costliest nanny state measures of the last 30 years?

If conservatives believe individuals should be left to run their own lives, why did George W. Bush outlaw the incandescent light bulb? Shouldn't the individual be left to decide for himself what kind of light he wants in his home?

Conservatives talk individualist but govern collectivist. They're all hat and no cattle when it comes to individualism.

Conservatives think their religion supports individualism, because God creates every human with a unique soul. But that same religion undercuts individualism with its morality of altruism. God says the strong must sacrifice for the weak. When religious conservatives such as Bush or Huckabee get into power, they feel a duty to use that power to serve God. Morality trumps everything else; individualism is a hazy, abstract idea next to the moral imperative that people have a duty to help their fellow sinners. Individualism comes from pride; the humble Christian equates pride with the Devil.

To add to the confusion, conservatives betray individualism throughout the mixed economy, then appease their conscience by equating individualism with anti-abortionism (or what they call in an Orwellian twist of language, "pro-life"). They sacrifice an actual woman to a potential human and call that individualism because they believe their supernatural being has injected a soul into the fetus at conception. This metaphysical fantasy keeps them from seeing the contradiction between their morality and individualism.

So what is worse, the Democrat who believes collectivism is good and governs in accordance with his belief? Or the Republican who says individualism is good, but does not fully understand the word and betrays his belief the moment he acquires power?

Well, it's a hell of a choice, isn't it? Welcome to the 21st century.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Life Goes On

Posting has been light of late. I am neglecting my blog, a good sign that the rest of my life is clicking along at full speed. I'm deep into rehearsals for Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers in the Riverside Dickens Festival. I play Mr. Brownlow in the first show and Mr. Wardle in the second show. I've also been cast as the First Gravedigger in Hamlet, a fun role.

I'm working with some other actors toward starting a theatre company that will emphasize classical drama and give me a place I can develop my own plays. I have a list of plays I would like to produce by authors such as Ibsen, Schiller, Hugo, Corneille and others. I'm always reading plays, looking for something great to add to my list.

My Dean guitar came in the mail. It's really nice. You can buy a good guitar cheap these days. It's not a top-notch guitar like a Les Paul or an American Stratocaster, but it gets the job done just fine.

And I'm writing and working full time. I turned 51 last week.

I'm looking forward to the Florida Primary. I support Rudy Giuliani because he is a social liberal, the farthest Republican candidate from the religious right. Also he supports war against militant Islam and seems to be for less government, although such talk means little from either party these days.

You know, when I started this blog I did it for free. With cost of living increases to cover inflation, Blogger should be paying me by now, don't you think? ;)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Clouds on the Horizon

What can we make of the South Carolina primary? As of this writing, McCain came in first with 33%, Huckabee second with 30%, Thompson squeaked into third with 16% and Romney got 15%.

The Republican nomination is still up in the air. It's a strange situation for the GOP, one that we have not seen before. After Florida we'll have a better idea of who will win, especially with regard to Giuliani. Super Tuesday looks to be moment we'll find out the leader -- unless, of course various candidates win states and the delegate counts are close.

Thompson looks dead. Why? Quick, tell me what he stands for. Unlike the other candidates, Thompson has never defined himself clearly so that one or two issues stand out in the voters' mind when they think of him. Maybe it's the old problem of having been a Senator instead of an executive. Maybe he is lost in the crowd of candidates.

Democrats have to be loving the Republican confusion. The CW seems to be that the longer it takes for a party to select a candidate, the weaker that nominee is.

I think the most significant result of the South Carolina vote is that 30% voted for Mike Huckabee, a welfare state theocrat. 30% of South Carolina's voters are already what Leonard Peikoff fears the Republican Party is becoming. Huckabee wants to rewrite the Constitution so that it conforms to "God's standards."

That 30% of South Carolina Republicans -- voters who value religion above economic freedom (or any kind of freedom), or who might even want bigger government with Huckabee -- those voters are a dangerous faction, if not the most dangerous. It is ominous.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Last Night's Dream

I just awoke from an extraordinarily vivid dream. It was a movie in my head.

I was in a science fictional city full of busy sounds and shops, all quite colorful. People were walking around everywhere. There were tall buildings with balconies. It was like the Kodak Theatre complex in Hollywood, but taken farther.

On a huge screen McDonald's played a commercial of coffee being poured into a cup. But this was not regular coffee, it was coffee with swirls, strings and blotches of color. The colors danced and swirled in slow motion to glorious, captivating music.

The people watched in fascination from wherever they were. It was the greatest thing they had seen, a state of the art video.

On a balcony stood Nick Nolte watching the commercial. Long after it stopped, he stood there, sad and defeated. He was a movie director and he realized that nothing he had done, nothing he could do, would ever be as moving, as effective and as good as that video of a poured cup of coffee. All of his work trying to craft stories for the screen, trying to bring meaning and philosophy to movies, was a waste of time: people only wanted a colorful cup of coffee set to music.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 48

1. It was 10 years ago this month that the Lewinsky scandal broke. WTF Blog has a post of where some of the people involved are today. Paula Jones is complaining because she can't make any money off the scandal by selling her book to the liberal publishers.

2. David Frum writes about Hugo's great novel, Notre Dame de Paris -- and about Disney's cartoon of the novel, which sounds typically vapid.

The Disney Hunchback seeks as all modern Disney cartoons do to teach improving lessons about diversity and tolerance. The corporate thought process must have gone something like this:

"Well we have done our bit to create positive images of native Americans with Pocahontas, of East Asians with Mulan, and we are developing, developing, developing (but never quite completing) a movie featuring an African-American girl. Is there anything we could do to create a positive image of disability?"

To which somebody with a hazy memory of college French literature - or old 1930s movies - responded: "Hey, how about a cuddly animated hunchback?"

3. John Gibson shows how Keith Olbermann can get away with racist jokes because he is a leftist.

4. Would you shake hands with a Jew? Just a little reminder of how our friends the Saudis think.

5. Some of the documents from Hillary Clinton's task force to enslave -- excuse me, to "revamp" -- health care are interesting. They discuss smearing opponents to Clinton's plans. Then there is this:

Senator Rockefeller also suggested news organizations “are anxious and willing to receive guidance [from the Clinton Administration] on how to time and shape their [news] coverage.”

6. 248 MPH? In that car you could drive from LA to Las Vegas in little over an hour. If there was no other traffic and if you survived.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ezra Levant

We all know what evil looks like in totalitarian states. The Soviet KGB or the Nazi SS knocking on the door and taking an innocent person away in the night for expressing an opinion the state does not like. But how does evil come in western welfare states?

Take at look at these videos of Ezra Levant defending himself before the Canadian Human Rights Commission for publishing anti-Muslim cartoons. His defense is brilliant and inspiring. These videos are must-viewing.

Look at how normal and nice it all is: the bland bureaucrat and the average conference room. No dungeons, no torture apparatus, no goose-stepping guards. But behind the polite bureaucracy lie the guns of the state, the same force used by the KGB and the SS. This is how we lose our freedom.

I want to shake people awake, to make them see that the way things are -- the welfare state bureaucracy -- is a violation of individual rights. It is incremental tyranny. It is immoral. I hope these videos showing the obscenity of an individual having to justify to the state his ideas will open some eyes.

UPDATE: More at Ezra Levant's blog.

(HT: Forum)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 47

1. Usually it's better to avoid psychology in politics, but Lawrence O'Donnell is so vicious and over the top in his attacks sometimes that it is safe to say there's something wrong with the guy. His latest target is John Edwards. Only O'Donnell could make me feel sympathy for Edwards.

2. This cartoon made in the 1940's is amazing! It is slightly flawed in attacking "isms" instead of having the courage to name socialism, communism and fascism and in being pro-union; but still, it links freedom with prosperity and statism with tyranny. The cartoon is more intellectual than anything that could be made today. Today's Hollywood has no understanding at all of the issues involved.

The depressing thing is that they knew about the superiority of capitalism in the 1940's -- and yet what has happened since then? The state juggernaut has rolled on, relentless and ever-growing.

3. "Crunchy Con" Rod Dreher endorses Mike Huckabee. And a perfect fit they are! Perhaps in the Huckabee Administration Dreher will land a spot as Secretary of Granola and Hip Self-Righteousness.

4. Obama asks South Carolina's black voters to have faith. If the religious right doesn't scare you, the religious left should have you breaking out in cold sweats.

“My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I go out and do the Lord’s work,” he said, linking his support for expanded health care, social justice, immigration and the environment to the foundations of his Christian faith.

The integration of Christian altruism and the welfare state is a perfect fit.

5. After all the insufferable bloviating about change from our politicians, Mark Steyn gets it right: Capitalism, not government, is the real agent of change.

6. This one from the Onion cracked me up. Warning: foul language.

Friday, January 11, 2008

When A Crocodile Really Cries

A lot of conservatives such as Mike Gallagher think that Hillary Clinton's tears were fake. Neal Boortz writes,

Throughout the entire Clinton presidency Hillary's husband waved a succession of his girlfriends in front of her face. Did she ever cry in public? Not that I can remember. But let someone ask her how a campaign is affecting her and here come the tears. Don't you ladies realize how phony she is?

I think the tears were real and unplanned. As an actor, I know that tears do not always come when you want them onstage. I don't think Clinton is that good an actor.

Hillary Clinton was expressing self-pity because she might lose an election. Why is it hard to believe she would shed a tear over that? Power is a high value to her, if not the highest. If she doesn't win the presidency, she'll cry a river. You bet she will.

Boortz is completely wrong, unless by "phony" he means the Clinton marriage. Hillary Clinton would not cry over Bill's philandering. Obviously, they have made some arrangement in their marriage that allows Bill to screw around. At most she would get pissed off because his idiotic recklessness threatens the couple's pursuit of power.

I know it's hard to believe anything happens by coincidence to a Clinton. Hillary has been caught planting questions in this campaign. And then there was that moment on the beach at Normandy during the Clinton Presidency when Bill was walking along and happened to see a pile of stones that he rearranged into a cross (gag me). Of course, it turned out that the stones had been preset on the beach by aides; the whole thing was staged.

Furthermore, Hillary's tears apparently turned the New Hampshire election for her. Some Democrat women that would have voted for Obama came back to Hillary after she cried. The tears were precisely what Clinton needed to gain some sympathy. They worked. How then, could they not have been purposeful?

As with all conspiracy theories, people attribute too much intelligence to the players involved. Democrats do this when they credit every coincidence that helps Bush to Karl Rove's brilliant foresight. If some genius in Hillary's campaign had said to her, "You need to shed a few tears," some other genius would have argued, "Are you nuts? Do you remember Muskie in New Hampshire?" After all the arguments and phone calls with consultants the last thing Hillary Clinton would have been able to do is cry spontaneously at the right moment as she did.

Sometimes people just get lucky.

She cried because she might have been thwarted in her fight for power and that made some women vote for her. It's a lesson Hillary won't forget: the path to power is to show you really care about getting it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Hampshire: Night of the Living Dead

Iowa gave us the shiny, happy people: Obama and Huckabee. New Hampshire gave us the grumpy old creeps: Clinton and McCain. Both Clinton and McCain had been pronounced dead, but the dead have come to life.

Perhaps New Hampshire's Democrats thought twice about Obama and decided they didn't want an empty suit -- or should I write an empty skin? Because in our multiculturalist culture his skin color is about the only concrete thing Obama has going for him. He'll be the first black president! The rest is a rhetoric of floating concepts meant to inspire, empty words such as hope, change and uniting America.

Republicans throughout the land breathe a sigh of relief and praise their supernatural deity. Thank you, Lord, for not taking Hillary from us; in thy name we will burn this witch in November. They had a bad few days as they watched Hillary Clinton's meltdown come 10 months too early. She cried in New Hampshire, but her fate is not to be Muskie's; she's still around and she will be the Democrat nominee.

I don't think John McCain has a chance of winning, but if he does win, it will be a disaster for America. This is a man who believes Americans should sacrifice for something greater than self-interest. If he is elected, I believe we will have mandatory national service -- two years of slavery to the state for every young person -- by 2012. John McCain will assault liberty more than Hillary Clinton could ever dream of doing with her high "negatives" and Republicans in Congress who only oppose the big government Democrats propose.

John McCain has suffered much in service to his country. Now he wants to make the rest of us suffer.

Tonight the ghouls clawed their way out of the grave. Now they trudge toward us moaning, "Brains... brains!"

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Lame Candidacy

Politico has several striking items about the Clinton campaign. First, Ben Smith reports Clinton was on the edge of tears at an appearance.

And with audible frustration and disbelief, she drew the contrast between her experience and Sen. Barack Obama's that suggests that her campaign's current message -- the question of who is ready -- matches her profound sense that she alone is ready for the job.

Second, Roger Simon reports that Obama is mesmerizing his crowds while Clinton is boring them.

Obama delivered a compelling, almost mesmerizing, speech, did not talk about any issue in detail and took no questions. His event lasted just over half an hour.

Clinton talked about issue after issue in almost mind-numbing detail and answered question after question in an event that lasted more than an hour and a half.

Both drew large crowds. But Clinton’s crowd was much smaller at the end of her speech than at the beginning.

I agree with Alexander Marriott's assessment of Clinton's campaign:

What a lame candidacy. Her only claim to fame, that which led directly to her senate seat and all of this vaunted experience she now claims is so vital, is that she was a former President's wife. Big deal. Under that logic, Laura Bush should become President, she has the most relevant reservoir of recent experience to impart to the job. Seven years in the Senate however, actually constitutes legitimate experience that should not be entirely discounted, but her opponents also have Senate experience (Obama nearly three years, Edwards six) not to mention prior local political experience in the case of Obama. This is mostly irrelevant anyway, "experience" in holding prior offices has never been an accurate judge of competency in the presidency.

The more I think about it, the more "experience" looks like a foolish thing to put front and center in a campaign, even by statist standards. What are some of the things people look for in presidential candidate?

What do you believe in? What are your ideals? What are your values?

What is your vision for America?

What are the two or three big things you want to do?

The answers to these questions excite and motivate people. Obama excites his crowds because, though his rhetoric is vague and without meaning, he speaks of ideals. He thrills young people especially. Experience speaks to none of this; it is merely a job qualification.

Clinton seems to be making the same mistake Dukakis made in '88 by focusing on competence and boring people with wonkish policy details.

Clinton's problem is the Democrat Party's main problem since the McGovern debacle of 1972: they cannot honestly campaign for their ideals because American voters, when they understand the left's ideals clearly, do not want them. Americans do not want more government spending, higher taxes and a foreign policy of appeasement. The Democratic Leadership Council was created to help Democrats find ways to moderate their ideals and trick Americans into voting Democrat.

(By coincidence McGovern published an editorial today urging the impeachment of George W. Bush. Is it a secret plot by Karl Rove to keep McGovern in the news, reminding voters of everything that is wrong with the Democrats since the rise of the New Left?)

From what I understand, political campaigns spend a great deal of money having ideas "focus grouped." I would guess some highly paid expert came back from the focus groups and advised Clinton to run on experience. Little did she know she would be up against a rival Democrat who thrills crowds with idealistic, floating rhetoric sans meaning. Apparently, Clinton didn't realize that the trick is to talk about ideals without actually saying what they are. She did not understand that Democrats are now dumb enough, after decades of government education, to hoot and holler over empty platitudes.

There is an ethical-epistemological principle we can draw from this: Dishonesty makes you stupid.

There is no disconnect between reality and what an honest man says. An honest candidate would quickly see what needs to be done -- without spending a dime on consultants -- and just speak "from the heart." An honest candidate would talk about his ideals and how they will make America free and prosperous and strong.

Instead, Hillary Clinton is reduced to repeating in "frustration and disbelief" and on the verge of tears her focus-grouped mantra of "experience."

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 46

Did the Raiders make the playoffs?

(That's how little I follow football these days.)

1. Gold is set to smash its all-time high. Or, looking at it from another point of view, is the dollar about to sink to an all-time low?

2. If these Democrats represent the norm, then Hillary Clinton has big problems. The Democrats I chat with out here in California are much more pro-Hillary; they see Obama as a lightweight with no experience.

3. "The Capitalist Marches to War," a short poem by a 17-year old British blogger, shows that kids (in England, at least) are still learning Marxist ideas, although now they're cloaked in environmentalism.

4. Hard to take: Milblogger Andrew Olmsted was killed in Iraq. He asks that his death not be used to make a political point. This blogger will honor his request. Another hero gone.

(HT: House of Eratosthenes)

5. A fascinating look at the Clinton psychodrama.

6. I get one clear impression when I read Democrats these days: unlike the Republicans, there is no confusion about what their party stands for. It stands for three things -- government, government and more government. That and a deep, almost hysterical fear and loathing of Republicans. One of the interesting subplots to watch in 2008 will be how Democrat unity and the Republican crack-up affect the election.

Not Good

77%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Friday, January 04, 2008


Hillary was booed in New Hampshire -- by Democrats.

With apologies to the late Phil Rizzuto, holy cow!

Meanwhile President Bush is contemplating an economic stimulus package.

Holy shit.

When Clinton tried this sort of Keynesian spending, the Republicans thwarted him. As of now there is one Senator on record against Bush's idea. One.

I'm getting tired of people like Rush saying that big spending Republicans are betraying conservatism. No, they're not. They're being conservative. Conservatism=big government; maybe not as big as what Hillary Clinton wants, but pretty damned big. Conservatives are for less government only when it means stopping Democrats from succeeding with their plans.

If you want to advocate less government on principle, you must come out here on the fringe with us radicals.

Around the World Wide Web 45

1. Overheard in court:

# Lawyer: “Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?”
# Witness: “No.”
# Lawyer: “Did you check for blood pressure?”
# Witness: “No.”
# Lawyer: “Did you check for breathing?”
# Witness: “No.”
# Lawyer: “So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?”
# Witness: “No.”
# Lawyer: “How can you be so sure, Doctor?”
# Witness: “Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.”
# Lawyer: “But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?”
# Witness: “Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.”

2. Tony vs. Paul. It must be excruciating details work to get that stop motion photography right.

3. This one is funny:

Bill Clinton voiced his abiding anger at the media's coverage of him and his wife in Durham, N.H., today, and suggested that media bias will force Clinton to go negative on Barack Obama.

It takes a Clinton to come up with something like that.

4. Joseph Kellard points out this Hardball piece in which Hillary said she does not think she can lose. The Madeleine Albright clip at the end is also interesting, in which she claims Hillary Clinton's time as First Lady gives her the experience she needs to be President. Can you imagine the MSM's reaction if Laura Bush tried to use being First Lady to run for President?

5. Karl Rove says Hillary Clinton needs to find a new message other than inevitability. (Obviously.)

At the end of the day, Rove thinks Americans are still going to go for the nominee they think will keep them safe.

This advice might be a case of a general fighting the last war. Certainly national security determined 2002 and 2004, but not 2006. Barring a huge terrorist attack before the 2008 election, I don't see it as a factor.

6. More confusion on the right. Jeffrey Lord says conservatives must stand on principle and spurn moderation. He provides an excellent quote against moderation by the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison:

I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; -- but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.

He asks what is the next "big thing" a conservative President should accomplish.

Is it winning the war in Iraq -- winning it period, beyond doubt and leaving a stable, vigorous democracy in the middle of the Arab world that is not just Israel? Or the crystal clear vision that ends with America -- and the rest of the world -- victorious over Islamic fascism? What about getting rid of the tax system as now structured? Extending the Bush tax cuts? Cutting the capital gains tax and eliminating the death tax? Adding more conservative justices to the Supreme Court and overturning Roe v. Wade? Passing a constitutional amendment banning abortion? Leaving the decision on abortion to the voters of each state? How about privatizing social security? Building The Fence while encouraging legal immigration? Is it something else?

I think this list is an attempt to preserve Reagan Republicanism: stay strong on defense, oppose abortion, cut taxes without cutting spending and hope supply-side economics will keep the economy growing enough to get by. Is it enough in 2008?

I think we need someone who attempts at least to repeal laws, cut spending and dismantle portions of the state -- if these things are possible yet. The Republican geniuses might know something I don't know about how my ideas poll with Americans at large.

About Last Night

Barack Obama's high flying rhetoric about hope is as meaningless as flatulence. The electric response from his crowd last night came from Democrats filling his rhetoric with one meaning: soon we will have a Democrat President. That's what hope means to them.

Obama is a socialist. There is no hope in socialism. There is no hope in turning America into a vast slave pen in which the state dictates every aspect of the individual's life. If you substitute the word death every time Obama says hope, then his flatulence has meaning.

I might end up voting for the Democrat, whoever it is. If the Republican is Huckabee, Romney or McCain, I'll vote Democrat for the first time in my life. "Choose your poison," as they say. Which one will kill me slower? This is what American politics has come to.

If I understood Laura Ingraham (looking damn fine) on TV last night, she said Republicans are missing the boat because Huckabee feels voters' pain and that's what the other Republicans need to do. People are worried about their financial security and Republicans need to speak to this fear.

I guess Miss Ingraham wants to turn the Republicans into a nursemaid party that coos and shows empathy for voters' boo-boos. A party of right-wing Clintons getting all teary-eyed and sobbing, "I feel your pain!"

If this is what it takes to get elected today, then America -- a nation of immigrants and pioneers, rugged individualists who endured ghastly hardships just to make a little life they could call their own -- this America is dead. Now we are a nation of piglets sucking at the federal teat.

A nation of people that need to be coddled like infants cannot remain free.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


The Hawkeye Caucii are done and the winners are Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. Both results are bad for the Republicans.

Iowa's Democrats showed the world they are sane. Yes, Obama is a far left socialist, but I really think he has a better chance at beating a Republican than Hillary Clinton. Given the choice between Clinton and a head of cabbage, who would not vote for the vegetable?

I suspect that part of Clinton's problem was that in running as the "inevitable" candidate, she looked like she thought she was entitled to everyone's vote, like she expected a coronation. Americans want their politicians to pretend they're not arrogant.

Iowa's Republicans showed the world they have their head up their ass. I would write more, but I might insult Iowa's Republicans.

Confusion On the Right

I've noticed a trend. First, Rush Limbaugh says Huckabee is not a conservative.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Gov. Huckabee, mighty fine man and is a great Christian, is not a conservative, he’s just not," Limbaugh said. "If you look at his record as governor, he’s got some conservative tendencies on things but he’s certainly not the most conservative of the candidates running on the Republican side."

(Question for Rush: Is President Bush, who recently outlawed the incandescent light bulb, a conservative?)

Second, the New York Times hires a conservative columnist, William Kristol, giving the newspaper of record two conservative columnists, the other being David Brooks. Both Kristol and Brooks are "national greatness" or big government conservatives. Both men support the welfare state.

Third, Hugh Hewitt, considered a conservative, places himself on the center-right and decries "extremism" as much as the Rockefeller Republicans used to do in the 1960's.

Fourth, Robert Tracinski in his TIA Daily notes that the Republican race in Iowa is close because of "ideological confusion."

The Republican Party has been famously sustained by an ideological coalition of free-marketers, national-defense "hawks," and the religious right. A Giuliani-Huckabee contest forced Republicans to make a clear choice, putting a priority on the war and the free market (the issues on which Giuliani is campaigning) while downgrading religion (Huckabee's issue).

The message Republicans have been sending in the past week is that they don't want to make such a stark choice—so they've been desperately looking for another candidate who will give them the illusion (and it is an illusion) of putting the old coalition back together again.

Fifth, Lawrence Auster notes that Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire who financed the VRWC against Clinton in the '90s, is now a Clinton ally.

By giving up their previous correct condemnation of Clinton, the conservatives have in effect said that the condemnation was never anything but raw partisanship. Having given up principle, what do they have left?

(Auster is right about the lack of principles on the right, but being a mystic, his principles are not grounded in reality.)

I hope I have not overloaded the reader's mind with examples. Now, what does it all mean?

Conservatism is an ideology in crisis. There is a lot confusion out there about what conservatism stands for, what it means. Various factions are working to redefine conservatism.

One thing all factions agree on if they are honest is that conservatism no longer means smaller government. Every Republican President has presided over an expanding government. Many of the worst offenders of individual rights, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Americans with Disabilities Act, have come about during Republican Presidencies. Fighting for slightly less growth than what the Democrats want is not enough to make a party for small government. The honest conservatives have made their peace with the welfare state.

All the possible ways conservatism and the Republican Party might redefine themselves are bad. The greatest threat is that they will become the party of religion (even more than they are now). Throughout history religion has been a force of spiritual tyranny. Religionists want to put chains on man's mind and force individuals to accept their values. It always comes down to force because their epistemology is based on faith, not reason. You can't rationally persuade someone, "I've had a mystic revelation from a supernatural being that says X is good." In the end, all you can do is use government force to make people accept X or else.

Another threat is the rise of nationalism. Tancredo and Hunter of the Republican candidates are protectionists who advocate "Buy American." Fewer and fewer voices support free trade. The anti-immigration movement is huge on the right. Protectionism leads to strife among nations. As Bastiat put it, "When trade does not cross borders, troops do."

Closely tied with nationalism is the rise of racism. It infuriates the anti-immigrationists to be called racist, but let's be serious. If blue-eyed scandinavians were flooding into America, would anyone be horrified? White racism is the inevitable result of multiculturalism; as race become the defining factor for minorities, so it goes for the majority. When you see minorities become pressure groups with their hands out to the government, the majority begins to ask, "Wait a minute -- where's my cut?"

Finally, the Republicans are becoming the party of permanent warfare. I support the war against militant Islam, but I want it to be fought seriously and fought to win. If we fought that way, the war would have been over years ago. WWII only took four years. Our current war is now in its sixth year. Our policy is not serious war, but "long war."

The paleo-conservatives and libertarians, as much as I disagree with them, make some good points about a state of permanent warfare. Warfare is the foreign equivalent of welfare at home -- it is what big government does. As Randolph Bourne famously put it, "War is the health of the state."

Ayn Rand wrote in her essay, "The Roots of War,"

Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production.


Laissez-faire capitalism is the only social system based on the recognition of individual rights and, therefore, the only system that bans force from social relationships. By the nature of its basic principles and interests, it is the only system fundamentally opposed to war.

As America is a welfare state, not a laissez-faire capitalist state, one must wonder if its permanent warfare is as unjust as its welfare. Our current warfare is a mixture of legitimate self-defense against a totalitarian force and altruistic "nation building." Those who do the sacrificing to both welfare and warfare are not those in power, but the American citizens.

(As Rand notes, the left is not really for peace. Leftists want even more statism, precisely that which causes war.)

All the fissures and confusion come down to the contradiction on the right that only Ayn Rand understood 50 years ago: capitalism and the morality of altruism are incompatible. You cannot integrate and defend a social system based on the self-interest of the individual with a morality that upholds self-sacrifice as an ideal. When conservatives are forced to choose between capitalism and their morality, they go with their morality every time. And so the state continues to get bigger and bigger and freedom becomes a distant memory.

As an Objectivist, and politically a radical for capitalism, I'm delighted to see conservatism give up its pretense of being for the free market and individual rights. The more clarity Americans have about the nature of conservatism, the more they are likely to look for an alternative. I would suggest they start looking here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Wall

It's down to the last few days before Iowans vote in their odd caucuses. In the latest Iowa poll, Obama leads Clinton by seven points, 32-25. Clinton needs to pulls out the stops, put the campaigning into overdrive and move Iowans in her direction with the power of her message. Now is the time for her to take that extra step, to open herself up to every Iowan, to engage with them. This is a time for authenticity. Yes, Clinton is well aware of authenticity; she was there in the '60s when it was a buzzword.

So what does Hillary Clinton do? She stops taking questions from Iowan audiences.


In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote,

...a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Jefferson's respect for reason reflects the Enlightenment's values of individualism and liberty.

Hillary Clinton's refusal to take questions implies the opposite. She is saying, because I have no respect for your opinions and don't believe you should be dealt with by reason, but only by force, I will not explain myself to you. Clinton's disrespect for reason reflects her values of statism and collectivism.

Her use of planted questions and her avoidance of the media are also expressions of her contempt for reason. As a philosopher-queen who thinks it is her duty to run everyone's life for his own good, she has no patience for answering questions. Such questions are only used by her enemies, the dark forces of the right, to cloud men's minds and stop her from controlling America for its own good.

Hillary Clinton, more than any other American politician in my lifetime, despises the media. She is even worse than Nixon's Vice-President Spiro Agnew, who famously called the media "nattering nabobs of negativism" (a line written by William Safire). But Agnew had some cause to distrust the media, as the liberal bias, though as bad then as it is now, was entirely unchecked then. The liberal media had such power then that they could inflate a third-rate political dirty trick such as Watergate into a Constitutional crisis.

Clinton, however, despises a media that is for the most part on her side. What she resents is when the MSM is forced by the internet, talk radio and whatever tattered shreds of integrity they have left to actually do their job and dare to ask hard questions of Clinton.

This is why I call her an American Stalinist.

Readers who are "of an age" will remember those Doonesbury cartoons during the Nixon years in which Trudeau drew the White House behind a vast stone wall. When Nixon resigned, the wall came down. Whether or not that image was deserved, a Clinton White House would certainly have wall upon wall between we the people and the philosopher-queen who controls every aspect our life.

Political Experience

We've been hearing a lot about experience in the last month of campaigning. Certain candidates argue that they have the experience one needs to perform competently in the Oval Office.

Hugh Hewitt argues speciously, as he often does, that only a candidate that has experience as an executive (such as Mitt Romney, Hugh's pick, who was Governor of Massachusetts) is prepared to be President. Senators need not apply. If his candidate were a Senator, Hewitt's lawyerly mind would find other arguments.

Hillary Clinton has been touting her experience against the inexperienced Barack Obama, even though she has only been in the Senate a few years longer than Obama. Hillary Clinton wants to have her cake and eat it too: she wants people to think of her time as "co-President" with her husband as experience, but she doesn't want to make that argument explicitly as it would be howled at by the VRWC and possibly even the MSM. Poor Hillary! How frustrated she must be by America's freedom of speech.

The concept of political experience as a good thing is BS. Who would you rather trust as President, someone who upheld laissez-faire capitalism but had never served in office or a socialist who had spent his life in government?

Candidates should be judged by their principles, not their resume. The confusion comes from judging politicians by the standards of businessmen.

As Ludwig von Mises teaches us in his brilliant little book, Bureaucracy, government workers and businessmen are fundamentally different because their purpose differs. The purpose of businessmen is to make a profit. When judging a job candidate in the free market, experience is important; if a candidate has demonstrated the abilities an employer needs to make a profit, then he is likely to hire that person over the inexperienced candidate.

The purpose of government, however, is not to make a profit, but to hold power. In a deteriorating mixed economy such as our present one, in which the state grows and liberty withers daily, the more experience in government a candidate has, the less that person should be trusted with more power.

The very idea that political experience is good is based on the premise of statism. Statism holds that it is good for the state to control the lives of its citizens. To this end, those who have demonstrated experience with power will likely perpetuate power.

A life spent in government indicates a failure as a human being. It shows a love of wielding power over other people. There's something psychologically sick about someone who would spend his life basking in the fear and obedience he inspires in those who beg him for favors. The professional politician is someone who gets off on being surrounded by bootlicking sycophants. He does not trade value for value in human relationships, but engages in the twisted mutual appeasement of fear that comes with power relationships.

Power relationships lead to corruption. The politician is surrounded by people pleading with him to use his power to dispense favors to them. How is he to judge who should receive the favors? The businessman's decisions are made by the standard of profit and loss; corrupt deals serve the politician as a faux standard of where the state's resources should be allocated. The lobbyist who delivers votes or money receives the favors from the state.

Anyone who has spent any time in power over the last century has presided over the growth of the state. By the standard of liberty, he has experience failing; his failure is political, economic and moral. A businessman with experience shows an ability to make a profit. A politician with experience shows a love of power.

Happy New Year

And a wild year 2008 looks to be. Just think, if Hillary Clinton is elected President, it will be the first time in history that the French President is more pro-American than the American President.

Not that I think she will win, but it could happen. The best hope of the Democrats is a recession that the MSM blames on the Republicans. Some economists think a recession is coming. The recession will be especially bad for Republicans if Mike Huckabee apologizes for it. (Can we all agree the man is an imbecile and just ignore him?)

Leonard Peikoff argues in his December 23, 2007 podcast (if I understand his argument correctly) that it is important to vote for the Democrat, no matter how good the Republican candidate is, because the Republican Party is the home of the religious right, which is the most dangerous force for tyranny on the horizon and the only one that is growing in power. It's a hard position for me to accept. The environmentalists strike me as a more immediate threat, but then with Bush signing the bill outlawing incandescent light bulbs and a bill increasing automobile regulations, neither party is anti-environmentalist. (How could anyone want to go down in history as the man who outlawed the light bulb? Don't politicians think twice about these things?)

I can guarantee one thing. By November 4, 2008 I will be sick of politics. I'm close already. Is it necessary to have debates over a year before the election?

Fortunately, I have an interesting life to live, so I can get away from politics. I got some writing in two plays done over the Holidays. I'm in discussions with a few theatre colleagues about forming a theatre company in our neck of the woods. I suppose eventually it would be a 501(c)(3) deal, with the goal of being a regional theatre. Also I just got cast in the 2008 Dickens Festival in Riverside, California. I'll be playing Mr. Brownlow in Oliver Twist and Mr. Wardle in Pickwick Papers. Need to brush up on the ol' English accent. I have other things going on, too. I'm still waiting for my Dean guitar to arrive in the mail.