Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reality competition show update

Well, let's see...

I very much enjoyed this season's The Next Food Network TV Star.
Only one problem--the winner. There's just no way Aaron McCargo, Jr. was either the best cook or best host among the contestants. And it was significant to me that, on the final episode, while we got to see the judges waxing poetic about how well each competitor had done in the final challenge, we DIDN'T see them discussing why they chose Aaron. Interesting. Lisa Garza should have won.

Meanwhile, last night's Shear Genius episode featured the judges ripping just about every contestant once the challenge--a difficult task to make selected models' hair styles look just like the three styles worn by "Charlie's Angels" stars back in the late 1970s AND at the same time to "modernize" those styles--was over. Seemed to me the judges had, in their minds, something they wanted from each contestant--something they neglected to even hint at to the contestants. Ease up, judges.

Meanwhile, this week the public has been voting for which of the two remaining HGTV Design Star contestants had the best design in their final challenge. Both Matt and Jennifer are nice, capable designers; but they have a long way to go to top last year's winner, Kim Myles.

And Project Runway is now well into its latest season, serving up wild, unpredictable clothing designers and witty (though sometimes cruel) one-liners from the judges. Overheard last night, as one judge panned a wild-looking dress: "It looked like a bunch of toilet paper in a windstorm."

Tom Coburn, hero

Now here's a guy doing what conservatives in congress should be doing--blocking wild spending.
Perhaps you've heard, from many mainstream news media sites, about Coburn's "obstructionism" in the Senate? But there's another side to it:

"Frustrated by Tom Coburn's "unprecedented obstructionism," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cobbled together a "Tomnibus" of 35 bills with "broad—virtually unanimous—bipartisan support" that Coburn had blocked. On Monday the Oklahoma Republican blocked them again. Unable to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome Coburn's opposition, Reid castigated the Republicans who had sided with the obstreperous obstetrician. "You go home and explain to...the next person you see in a wheelchair, 'I voted against you because Harry Reid was being a tyrannical guy in the Senate,'" the Nevada Democrat said. He also accused the Republicans of voting against victims of stroke, Lou Gehrig's disease, postpartum depression, and child pornography."I have never been a bully," Reid insisted while caricaturing his opponents as cripple kickers, mother haters, and molester lovers."

Read the whole thing. Note Reid's demagogy. Note that Coburn offered to stop blocking Reid's bill--IF Reid agreed to $45 billion in spending cuts, to avoid spending money we don't have. Reid never responded.

Are we in the same reality dept

Washington Post today, on the economy: "U.S. Economic Growth Improves Over First Quarter"

MSNBC: "Economy has slowed to a crawl, but at least it is crawling forward"

Pre-emptive labels of "racist"

Barack Obama tries to say, in effect: those Republicans are going to be racists, just you wait:

"“Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Obama said. “You know, `he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name,’ you know, `he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”‘

The McCain campaign is rightly calling this what it is--playing the race card.
And look at the pathetic spin the Obama campaign tries to place on this:

“What Barack Obama was talking about was that he didn’t get here after spending decades in Washington,” Gibbs said. “There is nothing more to this than the fact that he was describing that he was new to the political scene. He was referring to the fact that he didn’t come into the race with the history of others. It is not about race.”

Right--Obama refers to his "look" compared to other presidents on dollar bills as a way of referring to his experience! Sure, right, that's real believable...
Obama wants to play the victim, and make it so that people believe that if you DON'T vote for Obama, one is a racist.

UPDATE: Don't forget, too, that Obama's angry response above is probably a response to John McCain's new ad out yesterday--the one featuring quick cameos of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and portraying Obama as a celeb elitist. Many are criticizing McCain for this, claiming he's gone too negative. But in this case I think I'd defend McCain, and go along with Rich Lowry on NRO, who writes:

"McCain's not going to win without defining Obama in a negative way. He's just not. There are other ways to do it, but pumping Obama up as a celebrity—and pointing out how arrogant, gassy, and remote he is—is a pretty good frame that has the added advantage of being true."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

At the sports desk: whither the Patriots in 2008?

How do the New England Patriots get over their crushing, last-second Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants? Tom Curran of NBC Sports thinks they'll be just fine:

"The Patriots haven't gotten appreciably worse in this offseason. And none of the league's other 31 teams has gotten appreciably better. The edge the Patriots had over the rest of the league for 18 games, 58 minutes and 25 seconds hasn't been sufficiently diminished. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, the perceived vulnerability of the Patriots will inevitably turn up as a kind of motivation for the always-looking-for-disrespect Pats. If he hasn't already, Belichick will eventually seize on the notion that people don't think his team is mentally tough enough to recover from one loss. This he will pass onto his team, a team led by players like Bruschi, Brady, Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison who know how to turn small slights in blunt-force attacks. The resolve to shut people up will build."

Hmmm. Well, granted, Belichick is a good motivator, and so the Patriots should have ample desire. But still, one wonders. New England had injuries in 2007, like any NFL team. But not a huge number of them, and none that put much of a crimp on the offensive side of the ball. The Patriots had so many things going right for them in 2007, too--during the regular season, so many close games wound up going their way, officials' calls broke in their favor (remember the close Sunday night game vs the Eagles [only a .500 team, playing their backup quarterback]? the Monday nighter against the Ravens, a game almost everyone agreed they should have lost?), they were healthy for the playoffs, they had home field throughout, in the Super Bowl they played the Giants, a wild-card playoff entrant and a team they'd already beaten in the regular season...

And yet the Pats still didn't win it all.
The ball might just be bouncing a different way this year. Oh, New England will win far more games than they lose and be in the playoffs. But can they be the machine they were last year, and be in the position they were as they entered last season's playoffs? I doubt it. We'll see.

More deconstruction of Obama in Berlin

Senator Obama made a big deal out of being a "citizen of the world."
But as Rich Lowry shows today, there's no such thing--and thinking that there is suggests deeper flaws in the Senator's thought:

"In Berlin, Obama called himself, unironically, a “citizen of the world.” The world, however, issues no passports, nor does it have citizens. The world in the way Citizen Obama imagines it — as a global community to which we all belong — doesn’t exist. Only backpacking hippies, devotees of the Davos World Economic Forum and U.N. bureaucrats speak this way...He railed against “walls” of all kinds, even though walls are useful in dividing hostile communities (see, most recently, Israel and Iraq) and, in the form of borders, are the most basic stuff of nationhood. He addressed “people of the world” and told them “this is our moment, this is our time,” as if the impossibly disparate people of the world can ever have a common will."

And if you think "the world" does have that "will", then explain to us what the common will is of the Israelis and Palestinians.

This is why conservatives believe America's sovereignty is so important, and that it must be safeguarded. And why no leader of ours can ever allow "world opinion" to veto our actions--since no world consensus exists.

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Gosh--sounds like a bunch of swell people worked on that campaign. No hard feelings--right? Just ask Patty Solis Doyle:

", in a small glass office on the 11th floor, at Obama's campaign headquarters on Michigan Avenue, she keeps her head down and tries to unravel the mysteries of 2008: why Clinton lost, why so many of her old friends have turned on her, why she is largely blamed for the campaign's dysfunction, and, most unsettling to her, why Clinton has distanced herself from her onetime closest confidant. In Washington, proximity to power is power, and on the February day Solis Doyle was replaced, she experienced one of the more rapid -- and extraordinary -- free falls in American politics. She was immediately shut out of the inner circle and cut loose. She was accused of squandering millions of campaign dollars, of being holed up in her corner office watching soap operas as the campaign collapsed, of being an imperious leader who perpetuated a tense and joyless atmosphere -- all of which she denies. "It's really sad and discouraging and revolting at times," Solis Doyle, 42, says over lunch one recent day. "I have to tell you, I was surprised by the vitriol towards me. I think I'm a good person." It is generally an unremarkable event when staffers for a defeated presidential candidate join the rival's campaign. At a certain moment, there is a clarion call for all hands on deck. But Clinton loyalists were enraged when Solis Doyle was named chief of staff for Obama's future vice presidential pick."

Today's good news from Iraq

Again, we are winning in Iraq:

"The number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat in Iraq has dropped sharply this month, putting July on track to have the lowest casualties for the military since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003. Five U.S. soldiers have been killed in combat in Iraq so far in July compared to 66 in the same month last year, according to the independent Web site, which keeps records of U.S. military casualties in the conflict. The drop underscores the dramatic fall in violence in Iraq to lows not seen since early 2004."

Why conservatives worry about John McCain dept (continued)

A few days ago Sen. McCain suggested he might be open to raising taxes.
But, well, today is a new day:

"After upsetting some conservatives by signaling an openness to higher payroll taxes for Social Security, Republican John McCain gave the simplest of answers when asked if he would raise taxes as president. "No," McCain said sternly when the question was put to him by a young girl at a meeting Tuesday in Sparks, Nevada."

Sounds nice, but how can we trust this?
I fear the damage is done.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Earning their keep

Inner city kids have to work to pay their own way in order to attend a private Catholic school--and its working:

"These start-ups are all committed to enrolling only low-income kids; network-wide, 72 percent of students qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. The schools are also committed to sending the vast majority of their graduates to college; of the 318 students who graduated from Cristo Rey Network schools in 2007, 316 were accepted to a two- or four-year college. That’s better than 99 percent. (Nationwide, just 67 percent of students who graduate from high school start college shortly thereafter, and in big cities that figure can be much lower."

The article reports that less than 20% of African-American and Hispanic adults in America have a high school degree. That's a horrible state of affairs. But there are ways out of the mess; and the way out doesn't require throwing money at the problem (we've tried that already; it doesn't work).

The disciplined, organized Obama campaign dept

Again, taking on that conventional wisdom...
The Obama campaign is indeed very good at getting good TV pictures of their candidate speaking majestically before large crowds. And they've got many people convinced that this creates the image of a mighty movement, and...and this is key...that this imagery moves poll numbers Obama's way.

Only one problem--it doesn't move poll numbers.
As is explained here.
(Indeed, evidence is slowly growing that the European trip may have hurt Obama--see here for an interesting analysis by Gallup.)

Someone unclear on the concept dept

So the Bush administration announces today that there's been a 30% drop in the number of homeless people in the United States since 2005--but some critics don't like the way the way at which HUD arrives at its numbers:

"Critics of the annual report often complain that it undercounts the homeless because it does not include those in precarious living situations such as families living in campgrounds or individuals doubled up with friends or relatives. Dennis Culhane, a professor of social policy at the University of Pennsylvania and an author of this year’s report, acknowledged that “there are a lot of people in tough housing situations who don’t get counted.”

Hmmm. Well. So we're supposed to count someone living with a friend or a relative as "homeless"? That's ridiculous. Such people have in fact found a place to live (no matter how temporary); they have a roof over their heads. (and if they're living with a relative, there's a good chance they'll be able to stay there for a decent amount of time.)

Wow. Some people want to count persons who do in fact have a place to live as "homeless." Talk about lying with statistics...

Nancy Pelosi, messiah

What can one say about the image of Speaker Nancy that emerges from this Politico interview?
Save someone who now possesses an unbelievably inflated view of herself, one who doesn't understand ordinary consumers and their energy needs, this nation's energy needs as a whole; one who is ignorant of the safety with which offshore drilling can be conducted these days (this is no longer 1969 in Santa Barbera, Madam Speaker)...

Sigh. Read this quote for yourself:

"With fewer than 20 legislative days before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, the entire appropriations process has largely ground to a halt because of the ham-handed fighting that followed Republican attempts to lift the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration. And after promising fairness and open debate, Pelosi has resorted to hard-nosed parliamentary devices that effectively bar any chance for Republicans to offer policy alternatives. “I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet,” she says impatiently when questioned. “I will not have this debate trivialized by their excuse for their failed policy.”

"Failed"? How can we know it's failed when you won't even allow it to come up for a vote?
"Save the planet"? You can't even save Congress, in which your party is a majority, from one of the lowest approval ratings ever recorded for that legislative body. You're going to get mocked, "Ms" Pelosi, and you deserve every bit of it that you're going to get.

Why conservatives worry about John McCain dept

Now he's wobbling on taxes:

"Republican presidential candidate John McCain drew a sharp rebuke Monday from conservatives after he signaled an openness to a higher payroll tax for Social Security, contrary to previous vows not to raise taxes of any kind. Speaking with reporters on his campaign bus on July 9, he cited a need to shore up Social Security, saying: “I cannot tell you what I would do, except to put everything on the table.” He went a step farther Sunday with his reponse on a nationally televised talk show to a question about payroll tax increases. “There is nothing that’s off the table. I have my positions, and I’ll articulate them. But nothing’s off the table,” McCain said. “I don’t want tax increases. But that doesn’t mean that anything is off the table.”

Conservatives are rebuking McCain briskly for this--and they should be.
Read the whole piece--the record is clear. McCain had said that there would be no tax increases in a McCain administration. Now he's contradicting himself.
John McCain can never secure his conservative base with positions like this. And without conservatives, he cannot win this election. The sooner he figures that out, the better. One worries that his ability to figure it out seems broken.

At the sports desk: sorriest excuse of the day dept

A number of players from last year's Indiana University basketball team wound up flunking out, and are now off the team. So why did a number of them quit going to class? Former player Armon Bassett gave this reason, as reported by the Indianapolis Star:

"The Bloomington (Ind.) Herald-Times reported the Hoosiers' second semester team GPA was 2.13. One former player, Armon Bassett, said he and his teammates stopped going to class because they believed reporters were camping out at their classes. 'That's absurd," [new Hoosier coach Tom] Crean said recently. "A complete cop-out."

Good for him. But how did IU ever let things get so bad?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Conservatives and the energy issue

Michael Barone tells conservatives to keep pounding away at it, because:

"Sometimes public opinion doesn’t flow smoothly; it shifts sharply when a tipping point is reached. Case in point: gas prices. Three-dollar-per-gallon gas didn’t change anybody’s mind about energy issues. Four-dollar-per-gallon gas did. Evidently, the experience of paying more than $50 for a tankful gets people thinking we should stop worrying so much about global warming and the environmental dangers of oil wells on the outer continental shelf and in Alaska. Drill now!"

In other words, the people are moving conservatives' way. Keep up the pressure--as I've been saying. (it's always nice to know you're on the same page as Michael Barone, by the way!)

"He touched me!"

So said an African-American "journalist" at a convention for minority members of the news media, after shaking hands with Barack Obama.

Another in the crowd wore an Obama t-shirt.
Are there still those out there who deny media bias? Really??

Where's the Obama bounce?

So liberal acquaintances of mine have been chattering about how Barack Obama "hit a home run" with his European trip, how it was all unbelievably positive, etc etc etc.
Well. So how do they explain this:

" Republican presidential candidate John McCain moved from being behind by 6 points among "likely" voters a month ago to a 4-point lead over Democrat Barack Obama among that group in the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. McCain still trails slightly among the broader universe of "registered" voters. By both measures, the race is tight. The Friday-Sunday poll, mostly conducted as Obama was returning from his much-publicized overseas trip and released just this hour, shows McCain now ahead 49%-45% among voters that Gallup believes are most likely to go to the polls in November. In late June, he was behind among likely voters, 50%-44%."

And it was taken after Obama's big speech in Berlin. There's a long way to go in this campaign.

At the sports desk: on the Brett Favre situation...

My take: many people are suggesting that Favre has horribly "waffled", why doesn't he stay retired, he's ruining his legacy, etc etc etc. They take the Packers' side in this.

But what about this: is the Packers' high command really doing what's best for the team? Look, if I recall correctly, Brett Favre led the Packers to a 13-3 record last season. They hosted the NFC championship game. They're right there. Ask yourself: who, should he start for the Packers this season in all 16 games, would win more games? Aaron Rodgers? Or Brett Favre?

I know the Packers have vowed to move on and be done with it, but isn't the NFL about winning now? Brett Favre can still win now.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King has a great wrapup of the latest buzz on the Favre situation here, by the way.

The disciplined, organized Obama campaign dept

Everyone claims Obama runs an organized campaign--but:

"Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod to the Chicago Sun Times, July 25: The Pentagon "viewed this as a campaign event and therefore they said he should not come."

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, on Morning Joe, this morning: “We never said that the Pentagon prevented us from going.”

Beware of conventional wisdom.

Steady as she goes

Unfortunate news this morning:

"Female bombers struck Kurdish political protesters in Kirkuk and Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad on Monday morning, leaving at least 48 people dead and 249 wounded in one of the bloodiest sequences of attacks in Iraq this year."

Which simply means that the terrorists know they're losing, and are desperate.
It doesn't have to change anything--as long as Americans keep their nerve.

Changing life in these United States dept

Pet-stealing is on the rise, and look what helps facilitate it:

“I’m sure the economy and hard times make people desperate and more brazen in terms of what they think they can get away with," Reznik says. "I think it’s easy to steal dogs and to dispose of them now because there are so many Web sites and outlets for selling a dog. If somebody were selling, say, a Cavalier [King Charles spaniel] for $1,500 rather than $3,000, with no papers, there are a lot of people who would say ‘That’s a gift; I’m not going to ask questions.’ ”

Someone who'd steal another's pet ought to be ashamed of himself.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Congressional Republicans discouraged?

So it seems, as the American Spectator's W. James Antle reports:

"Your humble servant asked [Republican House Minority Leader John] Boehner if there was any strategy to regain the majority or at least mitigate this year's losses. I don't think I am being unfair in saying that his answer was basically, "No." Unless you consider saying the word "drill," hoping that John McCain will win the presidential election (with coattails, no less), and letting individual members do their own thing in their own districts a sufficient winning strategy. An every man for himself approach to congressional campaigns is fine for a majority party pleased with the status quo. Or Bob Michel Republicans who are happy being in the minority."

One would hope this isn't true. But watching the antics of House Republicans lately, one fears it is. Fight, gentlemen; you have nothing to lose. And conservatives out there need to encourage, directly, their Republican representatives to fight.

Yet more good news from Iraq

And reported by the New York Times, no less:

"The militia that was once the biggest defender of poor Shiites in Iraq, the Mahdi Army, has been profoundly weakened in a number of neighborhoods across Baghdad, in an important, if tentative, milestone for stability in Iraq. It is a remarkable change from years past, when the militia, led by the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, controlled a broad swath of Baghdad, including local governments and police forces. But its use of extortion and violence began alienating much of the Shiite population to the point that many quietly supported American military sweeps against the group. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki struck another blow this spring, when he led a military operation against it in Baghdad and in several southern cities. The shift, if it holds, would solidify a transfer of power from Mr. Sadr, who had lorded his once broad political support over the government, to Mr. Maliki, who is increasingly seen as a true national leader."

We are winning in Iraq. Tell the world!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More good news from Iraq

More oil coming out of there:

"An American agency monitoring reconstruction in Iraq said Friday that oil exports through Iraq’s northern pipeline rose more than tenfold over the past year, citing a sharp drop in attacks on the pipeline and new infrastructure built to protect it. The agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, said in a report for release on Saturday that there had been no insurgent attacks on the pipeline, which exports crude oil from northern Iraq to Turkey, since the American infrastructure project began last July. As a result, crude oil exports from Iraq’s north rose from an average of 1 million barrels a month to more than 13 million, the report said. Nearly all of the Iraqi government’s revenue comes from oil exports, so the increased flow has direct implications for people here. The increased exports were worth $8 billion, the report said."

We're winning in Iraq; don't let anyone tell you differently.

Friday, July 25, 2008

More on Obama's Berlin speech

Obama spoke of wishing to "remake the world" in his speech. That struck me as grasping too far, as kind of utopian. The editors of National Review noticed this, too, and found the utopian theme elsewhere in his speech:

" is much too utopian. It takes the conservative positions listed above, especially the more idealistic ones such as the promotion of democracy, and adds to them an entirely different list of wishful liberal positions: a world without nuclear weapons, a world without carbon emissions, a “new dawn” in the Middle East, a helping hand to the Bangladeshi child, the Chad refugee, the dissident in Burma, the voter in Zimbabwe, and so on. Together these various aspirations add up to a hazy and unbounded utopianism illustrated by Obama’s riff about “walls.” Walls, it seems, are to come down everywhere under Obama’s soothing ministrations, thus removing pointless and wicked divisions between the rich and the poor, black and white, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims. Some walls undoubtedly create wicked divisions — the Berlin Wall separated Germans from Germans purely for the benefit of Communist rulers. But most Europeans and Americans accept that walls can also serve good purposes and that their removal would create rather than solve difficulties. The Israeli wall saves lives from terrorism, for instance, and walls between nation-states (a.k.a. borders) mark the division between citizen and foreigner that makes democracy possible."

Precisely. Beware of utopianism. Remember when Lyndon Johnson talked, back in the mid-1960s, of eradicating poverty from the U.S., and the world, and of how the U.S. could do it all? Well, it couldn't, and it's dangerous to think it could.

The European point of view

A French newspaper editorl, responding to the visit of Senator Obama:

“On the positive side, we can expect somebody who reasons the way we do in Europe."

Translation: we love people who think the way we do.
And that's why we didn't like Mr. Bush, who disagreed with us.
And how dare anyone disagree with those in the European salons...

Speaking of health nazis...

...they ride again:

"California is joining the health crusade against artery-clogging trans fats. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Friday that will prohibit restaurants and other "food facilities" from using oil, margarine and shortening containing trans fats."

Next up, sugar?

The saga of John Edwards?

So you probably know that some tabloids are accusing former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards of having a secret mistress, a love child, etc. When I heard it, I was very dubious about the story's truth.

But now look what we see today, from FoxNews:

"A hotel security guard told he intervened this week between a man he identified as former Sen. John Edwards and tabloid reporters who chased down the former presidential hopeful after what they're calling a rendezvous with his mistress and love child. The Beverly Hilton Hotel guard said he encountered a shaken and ashen-faced Edwards — whom he did not immediately recognize — in a hotel men's room early Tuesday morning in a literal tug-of-war with reporters on the other side of the door. "What are they saying about me?" the guard said Edwards asked. "His face just went totally white," the guard said, when Edwards was told the reporters were shouting out questions about Edwards and Rielle Hunter, a woman the National Enquirer says is the mother of his child. The guard said he escorted Edwards, who was not a registered guest at the hotel, out of the building after 2 a.m."

Read the whole thing. Note Edwards' "denials"--they're far from complete, and frankly, far from convincing. There are a lot of specifics to this story now. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rush Limbaugh, continuing...

Did you catch the long New York Times profile on Rush Limbaugh?
You can find it here.
It's surprisingly fair and balanced.
Read the whole piece. I found two things in it especially interesting.
First, see the influence, again, of William F. Buckley Jr. and National Review magazine:

"Not everyone in the big city gave Limbaugh the cold shoulder. William F. Buckley Jr., the publisher of The National Review, saw the young broadcaster’s star power and took Limbaugh into his orbit. Limbaugh was honored by the attention. “I grew up on National Review and Mr. Buckley,” Limbaugh told me. “Aside from my father, he’s the most influential man in my life.” In Buckley’s circle he was an incongruous figure — provincial, self-educated and full of déclassé rock-and-roll enthusiasm. But Buckley took Limbaugh seriously, cultivated him, promoted him and saw to it that he connected with the right people."

Buckley and NR did that for a lot of young conservatives.
He and his magazine had such a huge impact on the growth of conservatism in this country; few people grasp, yet, just how much.

And then there's this, concerning Limbaugh's "Dittohead" listeners.
A bunch of ignorant, mind-numbed robots, some liberals still claim.
But, from the article (and this is from the NEW YORK TIMES, don't forget!):

"Limbaugh’s audience is often underestimated by critics who don’t listen to the show (only 3 percent of his audience identify themselves as “liberal,” according to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press). Recently, Pew reported that, on a series of “news knowledge questions,” Limbaugh’s “Dittoheads” — the defiantly self-mocking term for his faithful, supposedly brainwashed, audience — scored higher than NPR listeners. The study found that “readers of newsmagazines, political magazines and business magazines, listeners of Rush Limbaugh and NPR and viewers of the Daily Show and C-SPAN are also much more likely than the average person to have a college degree.”

The great El Rushbo marches on.

Speaking of Obama and overconfidence...

Apparently he and his aides are already planning for the transition to an Obama administration.

Beware--fame is fleeting.

Speaking of energy policy...

Did you all catch any of this?
For example, did you know, concerning nuclear power:

"France and Japan have produced most of their electricity for decades through the nuclear power technology that America developed, and they are now competing to sell nuclear plant development to China and India."

And, on that same subject:

"New Hampshire's Seabrook [nuclear power] plant was held up for 14 years by similar regulatory delays, before finally opening in 1990 (and operating without harm ever since)."

Then, there's the question of fuel refineries:

"The last new oil and gas refinery was built in the U.S. in 1976. A good example of the reason why is going on right now in Indiana. BP is constructing a $3.8 billion expansion of its already existing Whiting refinery in that state. But the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has now brought suit against BP seeking an injunction against the expansion, and fines of $32,500 for each day construction has been under way. The NRDC is urging the court to adopt a new interpretation of state law that would require BP to get a new state permit first because with the expansion the refinery would supposedly discharge more "pollution" than the current state permit allows."

Republicans should really make hay on this issue, and point out how liberals and Democrats have too often, and are too often, standing in the way of energy production in this country.

BY THE WAY: the U.S. Geological Survey reports that the Arctic may hold 90 billion barrels of oil.

The nanny state remains among us

The city council in South LA passes a one-year ban on the establishment of new fast-food restaurants in the area.

Their definition of fast food? "..."any establishment which dispenses food for consumption on or off the premises, and which has the following characteristics: a limited menu, items prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders and food served in disposable wrapping or containers."

There goes my idea of opening a Salads-to-Go franchise there.
And never mind that McDonalds and other places are offering more and more salads on their menus.
And never mind further what individuals may wish and what choices they may wish to make in the future. The city council knows best when it comes to your health.
The health nazis remain on the prowl. Watch out.

Quite the multi-tasker?

Reps for Jennifer Lopez claim the Hollywood star is exactly that:

"Lopez, who doesn’t have a nanny for infant twins Max and Emme, has been quite busy lately. She's vacationing in Spain, preparing for the launch of a new fashion line, has a reality show in the works, and now comes news that she’s training for a triathlon, too....Lopez is working out two hours a day, running, swimming and cycling, according to OK! magazine, who talked to her longtime trainer, Gunna Peterson. “The workouts change daily, depending on the day, the time and freedom,” Peterson told the magazine. The trainer sheds light on how Lopez pulls it off: “She may be the most efficient multitasker I know. She literally has every aspect of her life in check,” he says. “She doesn’t have a nanny, a chef, or a nutritionist. She makes time for the kids. Family comes first.”

Uh-huh. Sure. I'm sure Lopez believes this, and needs to believe it; same for her friends. But the fact is, studies show that multi-tasking really doesn't work that well. One can't be doing several different things at once, and give one's full attention to all of them. Something has to suffer. I'm someone who spends a lot of time with his young son (his name is Ethan, and he's a little over 5 months old), and I know from experience that one can only do many things at once. A baby needs one's full attention. And deserves it. I hope Ms. Lopez is being fully honest with herself, and giving her children all the love and attention they deserve.

This also, of course, says something about our media and culture. Because, let's face it, the tendency among many is to say: wow, J-Lo multi-tasks like that; how impressive. But what if we look at it another way? Ms. Lopez has everything--fame, tons of money, accomplishments. So why does she need to multi-task and do everything right now? She has two very young children who need love and support. Given all she has and all she's already done, why not devote her full attention to her children? Should we automatically see multi-tasking as something to be proud of, to strive for? Fundamental: your children should come first. Right?

(And here, by the way, is a place where you can see my wonderful son.) Who's perfect, of course; not that I'm biased or anything.

Another good idea on strategy for John McCain

Victor Davis Hanson disagrees with me somewhat on what McCain should say about the surge, but I think VDH is right on concerning what McCain should say on domestic issues:

"...McCain should not get trapped into surge dialectics, but stay on 5-6 domestic themes: he wants to transition us to green energy through drilling, nuclear, clean coal, and all our resources; Obama has bought into Gorism and thinks we can hope and change our way magically to "wind, solar, and millions of new jobs in green energies"; McCain will close the border first and discuss the thorny issues later; Obama won't. McCain will cut federal spending and pay off debt, Obama wants a trillion dollars in new entitlements; McCain won't raise taxes; Obama's could make the top brackets pay, European-style, 65 percent in state and federal taxes, and stifle economic growth with new levies on capital gains, inheritances, payroll, and income; McCain will appoint judges who follow and interpret, not create, laws; Obama will do the opposite; McCain knows the military and what it can do to protect American interests; Obama wants to create a shadow civilian force “that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the $500 billion a year Pentagon."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On the other hand: the problem with any McCain strategy

Which is stated well by this writer for Time:

"But when Democrats are winning blood-red congressional districts in Mississippi and Louisiana, when the Republican President is down to 28% approval ratings, when the economy is shouldn't be heresy to recognize that McCain needs an improbable series of breaks. Analysts get paid to analyze and cable news has airtime to fill, so pundits have an incentive to make politics seem complicated. In the end, though, it's usually pretty simple. Everyone seems to agree that 2008 is a change election. Which of these guys looks like change?"

How will McCain overcome that? I don't know. I'm not sure he does either.

The central front in the war on terror

Tony Blankley makes a very good point today concerning the war on terror--note that in doing so, he's dissing Senator Obama, who (today, anyway) thinks the focal point is Afghanistan:

"...his idea that the central front of the war on terror is in some geographic location is simplistic. The central front is in the minds of Muslims around the world. If we lose Iraq and Islamist radicals are seen to win, we lose a strategic battle in the war -- just as in the Cold War the strategic front was not in Greece in 1947 or Berlin in 1948 or China in 1949 or Korea in 1950 or Cuba in 1962 or Vietnam in 1965 or in Eurocommunist countries in the 1970s. The central front was always the minds of men. When the idea of Soviet-style communism was defeated by Reagan, the war ended. When virtually all Muslims see terror to be a dead end to their aspirations, the war on terror will be over."

Note the parallel to the Cold War--that conflict has much to teach us.
And make no mistake, America's defeat in Vietnam gave momentum to the communist side for a time after 1975. Soon Cuban meddling in Africa grew, as did Soviet influence in world affairs in general; and U.S. alliances in Southeast Asia wobbled. The same kind of shudder would go through U.S. foreign policy should we give up in Iraq.

Did you know...?

That the price of oil has now dropped $21 per barrel over the past two weeks?
Oh, you hadn't read or heard much about that in the mainstream news media?
Neither had I. Fancy that.

Obama's so-called foreign policy "fact-finding" trip

I'm glad there's at least somebody out there willing to puncture the balloon of laudatory press coverage that Senator Obama is receiving on this trip of his:

" The mix of policy and political advisers reflects the split dimension of the senator’s tour through Europe and the Middle East: Even as his closest aides insist that the trip is a fact-finding and relationship building mission, Obama’s every step is being intricately managed to maximize political advantage. From the saturated media coverage to the one-on-one meetings with heads of state, the trip already had a White House feel. The scope of the traveling staff simply adds to an aura of a president-in-waiting. On Tuesday, aides attempted to invoke White House rules and traditions by requiring reporters to withhold the names of senior advisers who brief the press. But they were reminded twice by reporters that they were not in the White House and Obama was not president."

Premature overconfidence can lead to trouble later. Fame is fleeting.
And don't, conservatives, listen to those who claim that the Iraq debate is over because Obama has changed the subject to Afghanistan, because he's acknowledged success for the surge and so there's nothing to debate there, etc. The fact remains, Obama opposed the surge. But it worked. He was wrong. And that raises questions about his judgment--questions which will remain.

Changing life in these United States dept

NY Times profits drop by 82%.

And it's because of the growth of the internet, TV, etc--print newspapers continue to decline.

McCain's VP

Much speculation these days concerning who John McCain will pick as his vice-presidential running mate. Here's an example...

But none of it interests me much. I just don't think, based on who one is hearing is at the top of McCain's list, it's going to make much difference.

Unless, that is, McCain can pick someone who really has a "wow" factor, and whom he can convince to run with him. But I don't see that there's any "wow" out there. (Condi Rice for example is out of the running).

So don't look for his pick to be a game-changer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A strategy for John McCain

Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review Online have one for him.
I especially found this part interesting:

"Several of the most salient issues in this election hold promise for Republicans: Tax increases are still unpopular; support for domestic oil drilling and nuclear power has shot up (for nuclear it is as high as 67 percent); the Iraq War, while remaining a negative, has steadily become less of one; and Republicans lead on fighting terrorism. McCain can, and must, win these debates."

But he has to talk about things like oil drilling and nuclear power, and do so with passion. He has yet to do so. There's still time, perhaps.

But do read the whole article.

Fitting right in with what the Right should be saying on energy...

...and that is--what T. Boone Pickens has been lobbying for lately:

"In T. Boone Pickens' war, the enemy is foreign oil. Pickens, the Republican Texas oil mogul, testified Tuesday before a Senate panel to lay out his new, self-titled "Pickens Plan" to boost renewable energy sources, get the U.S. transportation sector off oil, and cut U.S. use of foreign petroleum. Pickens told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that aside from getting away from foreign oil, he's for just about anything, from electric cars — like those advocated by Al Gore — to offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

Bingo. Seek alternative sources of energy (and don't forget nuclear power).
Promoting conservative is all well and good. But don't let the conversation stop there.

Barack Obama is in Iraq

And he gives a press conference there:

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Tuesday that security in Iraq has improved and that the United States urgently needs to turn its attention to Afghanistan. "There is security progress, but now we need a political solution" in Iraq, Obama said in the first news conference of his highly publicized trip abroad."

Oh, there's "security progress" in Iraq, Senator? Don't forget to mention that the surge which has greatly helped to bring that "progress" is something that you stoutly opposed and said would never work. Oh, you forgot to mention that part...

Then your opponents will have to keep bringing it up.

More evidence of a close pesidential race

A Michigan state poll is out:

"Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are locked in a tight race to win Michigan, according to a Detroit News-WXYZ Action News poll. The results emphasize why both camps consider this one of the battleground states that could determine who's victorious in November. Obama has the support of 43 percent of likely Michigan voters, to 41 percent for McCain, according to the survey conducted for The News and WXYZ by Lansing's EPIC-MRA. That's well within the survey's 4 percentage point error margin."

12 percent remain undecided.
Remember that, if I recall correctly, no Republican presidential candidate has carried Michigan since the 1980s.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Are Republicans and conservatives naive idealists?

Fareed Zakaria, writing the other day in Newsweek, for some reason thinks so:

"...the Republicans now seem to be the foreign-policy idealists, labeling countries as either good or evil, refusing to deal with nasty regimes, fixating on spreading democracy throughout the world and refusing to think in more historical and complex ways."

That's very much a distortion. "Labeling countries as good or evil"? I don't think the irritating, nagging, weak, so-often-wrong French government is evil, but neither do I necessarily see it as "good." And who would see the government of Saudi Arabia, cowed by Islamic extremists who go around demeaning women, including foreigners, as "good"? Yet we must deal with them.
"Refusing to deal with nasty regimes"? Look, it's the Bush administration trying to make deals recently with North Korea and looking to establish a diplomatic presence with Iran. I don't know any conservative who says we should never deal with a "nasty" regime, ever. On the other hand, there are times when moral statements must be made, and times when negotiations just won't work and/or send the right message. At such times, don't talk. It's liberals who think nations must talk with everyone, endlessly, and that that is somehow a good in itself. "Fixating on spreading democracy throughout the world"? Really? Like in China? Every conservative realizes we can be a friend of democracy there, but can do little to "spread" it in that Far Eastern giant. "Refusing to think in more historical and complex ways"? False; rather, it's been Republicans and conservatives trying to get our opponents to learn something about history--opponents who, when the Iraqi terrorist insurgency wasn't immediately defeated, wanted to give up and go home; opponents who, when democracy didn't instantly take root in Iraq, again wanted to give up and go home. It was we who had to remind them of their history--remind them that democracy after World War II didn't instantly take root in Germany or Japan, for example. But given time, it did.

Mr. Zakaria is usually a bit more sensible than this.

Celeb/reality show star Brooke Hogan on your civic duty

She's just not that into it:

You know what? I am actually not that much into voting. I think it’s kinda crazy that a woman is running, because I think that women deal with a lot of emotions and menopause and PMS and stuff. Like, I’m so moody all the time, I know I couldn’t be able to run a country, ‘cause I’d be crying one day and yelling at people the next day, ya know?"--Brooke Hogan, to a potential roommate on her reality show.

Something tells me MTV won't be calling her for their "Rock the Vote" promotion.
And it's too bad she doesn't grasp that you don't have to want to run a country, or know about running one, in order to vote!

John McCain, beware

You can always tell when a formerly conservative lawmaker has moved, at least somewhat, in a liberal direction...

And that is when the New York Times does a major piece on him, and says he's evolved, that he's grown, that he's developed a new "sophistication", etc etc etc.
Check the article to which I've linked, and see how many times it says the above, more or less, concerning Mr. McCain. Quite a few times. Beware, Senator...

Speaking of Chinese totalitarianism...'s the first day of the government's new quick-clean-up-for-the-Olympics policy:

"Half of Beijing's drivers left their cars at home and took public transportation instead on Monday, the first workday under new restrictions meant to clear this city's notoriously polluted skies before next month's Olympics."

Read the whole thing.
Totalitarianism is when the government can tell you when you can and can't drive your car.
It's good to remind ourselves occasionally of just what totalitarianism is.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The environmentalist movement and Chinese totalitarianism

Did some of you catch this? From a recent Michael Gerson column in the Washington Post, discussing the whole global warming/environment issue:

"...a disturbing minority of the environmental movement seems to view an excess of human beings, not an excess of carbon emissions, as the world's main problem. In two recent settings, I have heard China's one-child policy praised as an answer to the environmental crisis -- a kind of totalitarianism involving coerced birth control or abortion. I have no objection to responsible family planning. But no movement will succeed with this argument: Because we in the West have emitted so much carbon, there needs to be fewer people who don't look like us."

Conservatives need to know that this is how some think. Be not silent...

Speaking of defying public opinion...

...just think of how often our liberal, Democrat friends have raged against President Bush and conservatives for their support of the war in Iraq. Outrageous!, they cry. Why, just look at the polls! A majority of Americans oppose this war!! How dare you all defy public opinion this way!!!

Ah, but look now. Polls show that up to 73% of Americans SUPPORT lifting the ban on offshore drilling off the American coast, in order to boost oil supplies. And guess who stands in the way of a vote in Congress on a bill that would remove that ban? Why, Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi.

Suddenly polls and public opinion aren't so important to Pelosi and co.
Which leads one to think that all the blather about listening to the people, etc etc etc isn't real principle--but rather is just demagogy, to be hauled out only when useful.

Antiwar Democrats

Note well what antiwar Democrats are saying in Congress right now concerning Afghanistan:

"If we are going to do something constructive about Afghanistan, we should have done it seven years ago,” said anti-war Democrat Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes and I am going to be watching very carefully before I am at all supportive of sending our troops over there to get killed"....She added that if Afghanistan “was the right war, it would have been the right war five or six years ago. My fear is we go from Afghanistan to Pakistan because that’s where al-Qaida has run. So is that the next ‘right war’? I say no.”

Apparently some antiwar Democrats believe that, when it comes to U.S. military commitments in the war on terror, the most important things are 1] immediately planning our exit; and 2] getting it all over with fast. News flash: military commitments sometimes take time; if they're important enough, we have to be willing to see them through. And we will never deter terrorists by giving the impression that if our enemies just drag a conflict out enough, we will never be able to stick it out and see something through. If Barack Obama wins, the Lynn Woolseys of the world will gain in influence in Washington. Be afraid.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cheetos, mixed nuts, and the Obama campaign

Some not-very-green foodstuffs available at the opening of Obama's Florida campaign headquarters. What will the folks in Denver say?

More importantly, Obama backers in the crowd were questioned on why they supported the Senator:

"I managed to question several people about what it was about Obama that fetched them in. Most of the answers I got were variations on the theme of, "He touched my heart." No one said a single specific thing about a single public policy, but crooned that because of Obama's charisma and manifest goodness, he would be the one to make everything right in the areas of energy, education, war and peace, and the country's economic problems. Clearly the heart rather than the cerebral cortex is the proper organ through which to reach this bunch."

A number of writers have remarked on this in the past, concerning Obama supporters.
Doesn't appear as if anything has changed. The McCain campaign can make hay out of this...but, then, McCain has yet to make it clear to his base that this matters.

Mad about "manipulation"

I'm sure you all saw this story, either yesterday or today, concerning cigarette companies, menthol, and younger smokers:

"Tobacco companies are manipulating menthol levels in cigarettes to appeal to newer, younger smokers, part of a deliberate strategy to get younger people, particularly African-Americans, hooked, a new study contends."

And so of course you're expected to be further outraged at tobacco companies, to demand yet more regulation, yadda yadda yadda. But think it through.

So what companies marketing mass products for consumption don't "manipulate" flavors, levels of salt, sugar, chocolate, etc etc etc in order to get people "hooked" on their product?

Oh, but you say the key is that cigarettes and the nicotine in them are addictive? But so can be sweets, and fatty foods. And what about caffeine???? Talk about manipulating levels--do you see what the makers of Jolt Cola and Vault and Amp and the many other "energy" drinks out there do to levels of caffeine? And how good is that for you? And yet who's raging at those companies?

As conservatives, we ought to worry about the potential threat to liberty and to economic freedom from this endless drumbeat against tobacco companies. Yes, tobacco...a legal product...probably harmful to you, but so are a whole bunch of other things we put in our mouths, eat, and drink. And what makes you think that the health nazis, once they get done with cigarettes, will stop there?

Stop the violence

Did you catch this from a few weeks ago?

"A recent spate of teen stabbing deaths have sparked fears of a knife crime "epidemic" among Britain's young, and spurred the government to announce tougher penalties for teens caught carrying a blade."

What--no calls from the left for a national ban on knives????

Friday, July 18, 2008

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Former Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson, on the imaginary sound track he hears when he reflects back on the Clinton presidential campaign:

"I stopped listening to music during the campaign. What I hear are the sounds of cell phones ringing and BlackBerrys vibrating — discordantly."

No, no, Howard, that's not cell phones and BlackBerrys you hear.
It's Hillary's cackle.

An Iraq withdrawal "time horizon" for the U.S.?

So it's being reported today that the Bush administration has agreed with the Maliki government of Iraq to establish a "time horizon" for further U.S. troop withdrawals from there, and for turning over more authority for security etc to the Iraqi army and police. Details here.

As you can see from the link, the Washington Post trumpets this as a major shift, even a concession, by the Bush administration. Me, I don't see it. At least not yet. The language I saw that's been agreed to is very general, very vague. It contains no definite dates, no rigid timetable.

Furthermore, and this is a very important point: it has ALWAYS been the policy of this administration to do what they're talking about today. To maintain, that is, security in Iraq; to defeat the terrorist insurgency; to support the establishment of a stable, more democratic Iraqi government. And once those goals were achieved, of course our plan was to draw down and eventually leave, once victory was assured. Well, guess what--the surge (which Democrats, don't forget, lambasted, ridiculed, said could never work, said would lead to MORE violence and more failure) is working, the Iraqi government has improved, and we are succeeding in Iraq. So of course we can begin looking to reduce our presence there.

So right now, for conservatives supportive of what's been going on in Iraq, the points to stress are: any time horizon need not be seen as a major shift. It was the plan all along. And pound away at the fact that most Democrats and liberals opposed the troop surge of 2007, and their opposition has been shown to be wrong, wrong, wrong. And that includes the opposition of Senator Obama.

UPDATE: Peter Wehner at the Weekly Standard hits this very point today, and explains further its importance:

"...Obama repeatedly insisted that his superior "judgment" on Iraq is more important than experience in national security affairs. Judgment, according to Obama, is what qualifies him to be commander in chief. So what can we discern about Obama's judgment on the surge, easily the most important national security decision since the Iraq war began in March 2003?"

Wehner's answer? Obama was wrong, "spectacularly" wrong. Exactly.

Does McCain face an excitement deficit?


"For now, the numbers favor Obama: 38 percent of his supporters say the election is exciting compared with 9 percent of McCain’s. Sixty-five percent of Obama’s backers say they are hopeful about the campaign, double McCain’s, and the Democrat’s supporters are three times likelier to express pride."

Psssttt, Senator McCain---a fired-up conservative base can really help with that.
But you've got to convince them you're really WITH them--on campaign finance, on energy issues, on illegal immigration. And conservatives of all stripes need to keep pounding this point home, to the Senator and to all those in his campaign.

But I'm not sure we'll get anywhere.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On moving forward

That's what Victor Davis Hanson urges Americans to be about today:

"[There is] is a growing collective panic here at home, over whether such undeniable progress is sustainable when America is up to its neck in debt, dependent on foreign energy and plagued by self-doubt and inaction. Our 21st-century paralysis is surprising. The United States is not materially exhausted. We sit atop trillions of dollars worth of untapped oil, gas, coal, shale and tar sands. America could mine more uranium, and reprocess fuels to build hundreds of nuclear plants. American agriculture is blessed with the world's best soils, most developed irrigation systems, and most productive and astute farmers. There is as much sun and wind in the western United States as anywhere in the world. We have plenty of natural resources and the know-how to make all the wood, steel and cement products we need. A new, hungrier generation of Americans will have to want to reclaim our pre-eminence and change the national attitude. It must be ready to pay off generations of debt rather than borrow, build rather than sue, and drill rather than whine."

Well-said. And in this, Hanson reminds me a lot of the late, great National Review founding senior editor James Burnham. Some of you could greatly benefit from reading some of Burnham's old NR columns from the 1960s and early 1970s. He too urged America to move forward; the alternative is stasis and decline. As Hanson says in his conclusion:

"Americans, in short, should be tired of hearing that we are a post-industrial, postmodern, post-anything society. Instead, we want to be known again as a can-do producer nation that sweats as much as it thinks. And the confident presidential candidate who can best assure us of that will surely win this election."

McDonald's was their kind of place...

...a place for illegal immigrants, that is.
But today the company's been fined $1 million by the government for knowingly employing them.
That's good, for the obvious reasons--and for this:

"...the fact that it's McDonald's is especially important. McDonald's is believed to be the company with the largest number of no-matches — that is, W-2s filed by the employer that have fake or mismatched Social Security numbers."

I didn't realize McDonald's hired so many illegals, though I guess I'm not surprised at it.
It's good that the Bush administration is cracking down on such employers.
And it's good that the administration obviously has heard conservatives on this issue.

Surprise, surprise--Michelle Obama's negatives go up, and Barack Obama blames...

...his own version of "the vast right-wing conspiracy":

"Senator Barack Obama blamed the right-wing media for attacks on his wife, Michelle, that have driven up her negative ratings. In an interview with Glamour magazine , Mr. Obama pointed to “the conservative press — Fox News and the National Review and columnists of every ilk,” and said they “went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way” and that they “treated her as the candidate in a way that you just rarely see the Democrats try to do against Republicans.” He suggested that spouses be off limits, calling them “civilians” and saying “they didn’t sign up for this.”

Really, now, Senator? Off-limits? Who was it who had her out campaigning for you? Was it the "right wing" that forced her to be out there on the campaign trail? The fact is, that was your decision, and hers; and if someone is going to be out there on the campaign trail, then that person and what he or she says deserves to be open to analysis and criticism, if warranted.

And it wasn't the "right wing" who told her to make rather outrageous statements on the campaign trail, about how this was the first time she'd been proud of the United States in her life, about all the things Obama would "require" his followers and others to do should he be elected, about how terrible life is for both she and her husband and how much everything costs (in a desperate attempt to bond with ordinary folks, one suspects)---never mind that subsequent investigations demonstrated that she alone in her job made over $200,000 a year.

Pathetic, Senator Obama. Quit whining. And quit borrowing from the Clinton playbook; you can't blame some evil, mythical "right wing" for the messes you get yourself into.

At the sports desk: A-Rod threw a post-All-Star-game party, and...

...almost nobody came.
Certainly none of his teammates did.
But hey, maybe it had something to do with the fact that the game didn't end until past 1:30 in the morning.

Which actually brings up an important point: when is major league baseball going to learn how to market its game to young people? Take important, showcase events, for example.
For the NFL, it's the Super Bowl. When does the Super Bowl game begin? A little after 6 p.m. eastern time on a Sunday night. Everyone, young or old, can watch.
For the NBA, one of its showcase events is its all-star game. When does it begin? Early on a Sunday evening. Everyone, young or old, can watch.
Now we come to MLB. One of its showcase events is the all-star game, the "midsummer classic." When did it begin? Not until nearly 9 p.m. eastern time. When do its World Series games at night usually begin in October? Not until nearly 9 p.m. eastern time. How can young kids, even teens, stay up and watch much of that??? No wonder baseball declines in popularity. Young people don't get to see much of its most important games. Wise up, Bud Selig. Take some lessons from your major competitors.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

That NEW YORKER cover and the Obama campaign

By now, you've surely heard of that New Yorker magazine cover on the Obamas--a satirical illustration showing a beturbaned Obama fist-bumping with a radical, revolutionary Michelle Obama in the White House, an American flag burning in the fireplace, a picture of Osama Bin Laden on the wall. It was satire, making fun of the misconceptions some radical anti-Obama partisans have. But many were shocked and outraged at the cover. John McCain criticized it; and Barack Obama and his followers have been loudly critical of it.

But today Roger Simon of The Politico gets it right, saying basically: lighten up, people. It's satire:

"...his was the main line of attack that critics of the magazine took. Sure, the ultra-sophisticated readers of the New Yorker will understand that the cover is a satire, the critics said, but many people will not. Many people, they argue, will take the cover seriously and believe that the Obamas revere Osama bin Laden, hate the American flag, carry assault rifles and are dangerous Islamic radicals. And, the argument goes, the New Yorker should not have run the cover for that reason.
But this is what is called the Idiot’s Veto. If a single person might not get a joke, then you should not tell the joke. All humor (and everything else) should be reduced to the lowest common denominator just to make sure nobody misunderstands anything."

And there's also this: isn't this, too, elitism? The Obama campaign seems to be saying this: that, hey, those dumb, rube hayseeds in Flyover America are too stupid to understand this cover.

Guess what: they aren't. But the Obama campaign at times is too stupid to understand many ordinary Americans.

Close race

Note that three different national polls out today (Wednesday) show the presidential race to be mighty close.

That is, Gallup, Rasmussen, and ABC News/Washington Post all have Obama with only a 3 point lead right now over John McCain. Who knows what will happen...

An old, tired argument... one frequently made by Senator Obama in dismissing conservative points, pointed out today by Peter Wehner on NRO:

"...for Senator Obama to dismiss school choice as “tired rhetoric” is itself an increasingly tiresome tactic of his. He seemingly dismisses every idea that is different than his, or every criticism that is directed at him, as “tired” and “old.”

Or as the "old Washington politics", etc etc.
Don't let he and his supporters get away with it.

The McCain and Obama foreign policy duel

Details here.
It's interesting that both agree that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan should be ramped up.
I guess intensifying the war there is the new conventional wisdom.
But they still vigorously disagree over Iraq.
Senator McCain continues to have many faults. But he does have a good line he's using vs Obama--that we don't have to lose in Iraq in order to win in Afghanistan.

Many men would likely beg to differ

Victoria Beckham, speaking recently to Allure magazine:

“I’m a normal-looking girl, and I just make the best of what I have,” Posh said...“I’m not out-of-the-ordinary looking at all — I’m incredibly ordinary.”

On the other hand, conservatives should be glad McCain is saying this dept

Today, regarding school vouchers:

"...where does [Barack Obama's typical liberal opposition to school choice] leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?" the Arizona senator asked. "No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

At the sports desk: Peyton Manning dinged?

He's got to have a little surgery on his left knee, to fix a bursar sac. Out 4-6 weeks.
Good details here.
Could he miss the first-regular season game for the Colts, on Sept. 7th?
Colts fans like me hope not.
Remember--Manning has never missed a regular-season NFL start.
I predict he won't miss this one, either.

Barack Obama: we should leave Iraq within 16 months, but by the way, victory is possible there

It's true--he basically says that, if you read carefully a speech he gave today.
The quote from Obama's speech, and more, available here.
Again, conservatives should pound away on him for this inconsistency.

A university that don't know much 'bout history

A university employee, during break-time, reads a book about the KKK in which that racist organization is defeated and humiliated--and gets in trouble:

"Sampson's troubles began last year when a co-worker complained after seeing him reading a book titled "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan." Sampson, a 58-year-old white janitor and student majoring in communication studies, said he tried to explain that the book was a historical account written by a Notre Dame graduate. "I have an interest in American history," Sampson said. "I was trying to educate myself." But Sampson says his union official likened the book to bringing pornography to work, and the school's affirmative action officer in November told Sampson his conduct constituted racial harassment. "You used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your black co-workers," Lillian Charleston wrote in a letter to Sampson."

Wow. The liberal mind at work.
Read the whole thing--the school has finally, finally apologized to this man.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Concerning suspected terrorists detained at Gitmo and elsewhere

Everyone critical of Bush administration policies worries that we're trampling on the rights of innocents. Okay. But what about this--did you catch what constitutional scholar John Yoo had to say about this recently:

"Just as there is always the chance of a mistaken detention, there is also the probability that we will release the wrong man. As Justice Antonin Scalia's dissenting opinion notes, at least 30 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay -- with the military, not the courts, making the call -- have returned to Afghanistan and Iraq battlefields."

Fundamental: yes, we as conservatives must be aware of protecting liberty and individual rights. But as American conservatives, we must balance this with protecting our national security, from terrorists, who have not exactly been shy about attacking us. Remember that.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Conservatives educate a progressive

Barack Obama gave a speech not too long ago on the importance of fatherhood and family. We commented on it here. The progressive Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne noticed it too, and speaks positively about it:

"Every social problem is made much, much worse by the abandonment of children by their fathers...But government simply cannot replace absent fathers. Government cannot do all the things that parents ought to structure matters."

Glad you're on board, E.J.!! Hopefully more liberals and progressives are getting on board, too. Remember: this is an issue that conservatives and neoconservatives had to work very hard to raise in this country. It took decades. We should be proud. And let's keep it going.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Compassionate America

We all need to be reminded of this:

"Volunteerism is good. But why does every good thing need to be orchestrated by government? Most people think churchgoing is a good thing. Does that mean government should fund churches? That’s what they do in Europe and — surprise! — most pews sit empty. Americans are vastly more generous with their time and money than Europeans. According to social demographer Arthur C. Brooks, in 1995 (the last year international data on giving was available), Americans gave three-and-a-half times more money to charities and causes than the French, seven times more than Germans, and 14 times more than Italians. In 1998, Americans volunteered 21 percent more than the Swiss and 32 percent more than Germans — two countries with compulsory national service. Yet we’re told we should emulate them so that America, too, can have a “culture of service.”

Remember this the next time you hear politicians saying Americans don't do enough "service" to their country and community. We do plenty. And yes, there are many conservatives addicted to this notion that the government needs to encourage more "national service." They should beware.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Republicans--winning "Sam's Club" voters?

I think this is a good analysis, having to do with a recent book on how the Republican Party can reinvent itself:

"White working-class voters typically aren’t in vogue, with the political chatter tending to revolve around “soccer moms,” the “youth vote,” or other boutique demographic groups of the moment. But the late charge of Hillary Clinton’s doomed presidential campaign made white working-class voters surprisingly fashionable. They’ll stay that way if the important new book Grand New Party, by two young writers for The Atlantic, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, has the impact on the political debate that it should. In an incisive analysis of the past 30 years of our politics, Douthat and Salam puncture self-comforting delusions of both the Right and the Left, and persuasively advocate a reorientation of the GOP to address working-class concerns....these voters have a keen self-interest in arresting social breakdown: “Safe streets, successful marriages, cultural solidarity, and vibrant religious and civic institutions make working-class Americans more likely to be wealthy, healthy, and upwardly mobile.” Marriage in particular is key. The rise in illegitimacy blights the prospects of the working class, even as the college-educated upper-middle class disproportionately benefits from the social and economic rewards of stable family life."

Exactly. Working-class voters don't hold these views out of "frustration" (as Barack Obama and other liberals mistakenly argue). They hold them because they know these underlying pillars of society are key for them, and their children, to make it.

The question, now, is what policies to Republicans espouse to fit within these principles? Just fiddling with the tax code might not be enough.

Getcher head up, GOP

Found here...
A pep talk to Republicans concerning congressional races. from the Maha-Rushy.
Message--don't give up! Republicans can win!!
Here's an excerpt explaining why:

"This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category." Now, amidst all of this, with a 9% approval rating, an all-time low, the media template is still what? That the Democrats are going to pick up all these seats in the House and they're going to pick up all these seats in the Senate. It's a foregone conclusion. Now, if people are this upset with Congress, and the president's numbers are higher — you know, this is a risky thing to try to analyze....But I think one of the keys here in every call I get, and every comment I get from people talking about this, whether it's here on the program or in my highly focused personal and private life, it's the gasoline price. The gasoline price is the root of everything because that affects the cost of food, the cost of leisure time activity, the cost of entertainment, and it's a gold mine. It is simply a golden opportunity for the Republican Party here to really make some big hay."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

America and conservatism

Many of my liberal acquaintances love to say that conservatism is in trouble, that it might be dead, that America is moving away from it. But did you catch this?

"On many core issues, the country still leans right of center. In last week's Washington Post poll, 50% of voters favored a smaller government with fewer services while 45% wanted a bigger government with more services – the same percentage breakdown as in June 2004."

You'd never know that from reading the mainstream news media.
Obviously, this means that Republicans, in this fall's presidential and congressional races, still have an opportunity.
But they have to convince Americans that they really mean it when they speak of limited government here at home. What have they done lately to convince Americans of that? What do they plan to do? That's the principle on which conservatives need to be pushing the GOP--and hard.

Good deconstruction of Obama and Iran

Good details here.
Most importantly--as Geraghty pointed out, so Iran tests missiles, but Obama thinks we need more "intelligence-gathering"? We don't think there were missiles tested; we know there were.
I suspect Senator Obama was just trying to fill time and sound intelligent.
And note this:

"Note that once again, Obama feels that we ultimately control Iranian behavior; it's simply a matter of offering sufficient incentives to change their behavior. In the interview, he also says, "it's in nobody's interest, including Iran's, I believe, to have a nuclear weapon that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region." It seems unthinkable to Obama that the Iranians could have actually determined that having a nuclear weapon is in their self-interest. Much like small town Pennsylvanians, he knows what motivates them better than they know themselves."

Either that, or he can't imagine that Iran's hatred of Israel would prompt it to seek nukes, despite Ahmadinejad's frequent anti-Semitic threats against Israel. One hopes Obama is not uninformed of Ahmadinejad's statements, but one wonders...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Obama and Kerry, compared

And not favorably--both accused critics of "not listening."
Interesting comparison. And also, see this piece from the LA Times...
It suggests that this long campaign has Barack Obama tired.
Perhaps these two things are connected.
If so, it could be trouble for Obama--the best presidents, not to mention the ones most likely to get elected in the first place, loved campaigning, thrived on it. Think Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Reagan.

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Not much moolah coming in for the wake, either:

"A prominent donor to Senator Barack Obama recently sent an e-mail plea to other supporters, asking them — for the sake of Democratic unity — to write checks to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to help retire her $23 million in campaign debt. Some of the replies are unprintable, given the coarse language, the donor said. A sampling of others included: “Why would I help pay off debts that Hillary amassed simply to keep damaging Senator Obama?” “Gas prices are up, the markets are in turmoil, my kid’s fall tuition bill is coming soon. Writing checks to politicians I don’t like is not at the top of my list.” “Not a penny for that woman. Or her husband. Or — god forbid — Mark Penn,” a reference to Mrs. Clinton’s former senior strategist, whose firm is still owed several million dollars for work that included aggressive attacks on Mr. Obama."

The campaign to be buried in Potter's Field, perhaps...?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"My daughter is dead"

So said her Pakistani father--only he was the one who killed her; another "honor" killing.
This one occurred here in the U.S., in Georgia.
There may be, worldwide, up to 5000 of these killings occurring every year.
It's very sad.

The left attacks Obama

In the person of NY Times liberal columnist Bob Herbert.
Read the whole thing--it's certainly a significant thing for the coming election that there's already discontent on the left concerning Obama's obvious tack to the center/right lately.

But it also tells us just how far to the left, and how unreasonable, some of our "progressive" friends are these days. For example, Herbert writes:

"And there he was [Obama[, in the midst of an election campaign in which the makeup of the Supreme Court is as important as it has ever been, agreeing with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas that the death penalty could be imposed for crimes other than murder. What was the man thinking?"

Well, Mr. Herbert, as I believe Justice Alito said in his dissent concerning that case, apparently some of you want to tell us that no matter how many victims a rapist has, no matter how young they were, no matter how much violence was done to them, the death penalty can NEVER be justified.

Really? What are you thinking?

The problem with Obama and timetables

E.J. Dionne the other day was certainly correct in his summation of coming Republican strategy vs Barack Obama:

" The unsteady moment suggested that Obama has not figured out how to slip the trap John McCain's campaign is trying to set for him. As Michael Cooper and Jeff Zeleny shrewdly put it in the New York Times, Republicans want to place Obama "in the political equivalent of a double bind: painting him as impervious to the changing reality on the ground if he sticks to his plan, and as a flip-flopper if he alters it to reflect changing circumstances."

Of course, Dionne was suggesting that GOPers are being unfair; that they will damn Obama no matter what he does concerning Iraq.

But the real fundamental here is that Obama is the one who has gotten himself in trouble. How? Because he proposed a rigid timetable for getting U.S. troops out of Iraq. He says he'll do it in 16 months. But timetables are a bad idea. For one thing, they aid our enemies. Our terrorist opponents know that, in Iraq, should Obama become president, they need merely wait us out; that no matter what happens, we are committed to leave. It will encourage them to keep fighting; not to stop. And a timetable further suggests that no matter what our generals say, no matter what the facts are on the ground on Iraq, we'll leave. Obama of course is now trying to have it both ways, suggesting that of course he'll observe the facts and listen to our military personnel. But in that case, if it's possible we'll leave, then there is no 16-month timetable. Right? Well, but, Obama and his campaign insist that the timetable still lives!

Confused? So are those who insist on specific timetables. And that includes the government of Iraq; the Bush administration is right to try to resist its recent timetable demand, and to try to change the Maliki government's mind. (p.s.--so much for some of our liberal friends' contention that the government of Iraq was a puppet of the Bush administration.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Christie Brinkley on the stand the court proceeding today, concerning her divorce from one Peter Cook:

""The role of family to me is the most important thing," Brinkley told the court, while choking back sobs. "I'm sorry I'm crying right now, but the only thing I've ever wanted was a big happy family."

But not important enough to you to close your divorce proceedings to the public, to protect your children from the ugliness they're sure to hear about, somehow, some way, from the media. Right?

Save your tears.

Crackdown paying dividends?

The government's increasingly-tough policies on illegal immigrants may be paying off:

"According to Mexican consulate officials in Dallas, some 400 immigrant families have told them so far this year that they're going back to Mexico and asked for transfer documents to enroll their children in Mexican schools....In 2005, the consulate issued 162 such documents; in 2006 it was 199; and last year it was 270. At the current rate, more than twice as many people will leave this year as last, he said....And it isn't happening only in Dallas. At the Mexican consulates in Chicago and Phoenix, too, the number of Mexican families applying for transfer documents for their children has increased. So far in 2008, more people (752) have visited the Mexican consulate in Phoenix to apply for transfer documents than the total for 2006 (248) and 2007 (330) combined, according to officials there."

Here's your handy-dandy guide to who's an Obama supporter

Found here:

"The “people” section on his website divides Americans into 17 categories: Latinos, women, First Americans, environmentalists, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, Americans with disabilities, Asian-Americans and Pacific islanders and so on. There is no mention of whites, or men."

Maybe he thinks whites and/or men are still too "frustrated."

Trying to be like Jack

So Barack Obama will accept the Democratic Party nomination, and give his acceptance speech, in a huge sports stadium--Denver's Mile High Stadium, where the Denver Broncos play.

Quick, now, where did John F. Kennedy in 1960 give HIS nomination acceptance speech?
Answer: in a huge sports stadium--the LA Coliseum.
Barack tries to be like Jack.
(Which is not too original--so did Bill Clinton).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

So Barack Obama wants to be president...

...but sometimes he really does say things that put him in a horrible light, and make him sound very inexperienced.
See for example what the said the other day:

"Two days ago, Senator Barack Obama said he had not been clear enough in explaining his Iraq policy. Today, there was a different rationale. The confusion was not his fault, Mr. Obama said, but rather the media’s for seizing on three words he uttered in Fargo, N.D., when he suggested he would be open to “refine my policies” on Iraq. “I was surprised by how finely calibrated every single word was measured,” he said, speaking to reporters as he flew here from Montana."

Wow! He ain't seen nothin' yet. Just wait until he becomes president.
That's the thing about being president--everything you say publicly is examined under a microscope. He doesn't know that yet???
If Republicans can't make hay out of this remarkable statement, what can they make hay out of.

Why conservatives worry about John McCain dept

McCain and the Republican Party run their first national ad, and guess what:

"The ad, titled Balance TV, calls John McCain a crusader for climate change, unlike his rival Barack Obama, which the ad claims is following Democrats in refusing to allow more gas production at home. McCain is “pushing his own party to face climate change,” says the announcer. “Barack Obama: Just the party line."

Yep--he's dissing conservatives again.
I guess McCain's campaign thinks it doesn't need conservatives.

Good news from Iraq

"A U.S. coalition official says electricity production jumped more than 10 percent in roughly the first six months of 2008 compared to the same period a year ago."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's important to remember...

...that, as Victor Davis Hanson reminded us the other day, Americans still have it very good.
See, for example, the supposed housing/foreclosure crisis:

"Slumping house prices are a concern, but we forget that nearly 95 percent of homeowners meet their monthly mortgage payments, that housing prices are merely returning to their 2002 levels — to the relief of first-time potential buyers — that many of the problems were caused by housing speculators who wished to flip properties for instant profits, by overzealous lenders who warped the rules, and by misplaced liberalism that sought to put everyone in his own home, despite the historical fact that between 30 percent and 40 percent of the population either should not, or does not wish to, own their homes."

Read the whole thing.
And remember, on this 4th of July weekend, that most people on the move in the world seek to come to America--and not to Russia, China, etc.