Sunday, March 30, 2008

Former Secretaries of State Get It Wrong

Cabinet-level departments of the United States government are interesting entities. The heads of these departments, usually known as the Secretary of something-or-other, is usually replaced when a new President takes office, or sometimes one may depart in the middle of a presidential term. So, while the leadership changes every four to eight years the staff—the employees, the bureaucrats—remain in place for many years, and the effect of this is that many or most of these agencies develop their own individual culture and personality, quite often because of what its mission is.

A case in point is the Department of State. The State Department is involved in relations with other nations, and its stock in trade is diplomacy and diplomatic initiatives. Consequently, the culture of the State Department is first and foremost to talk, to negotiate. It may be cynical to say so, but a good case can be made that there is no situation or problem in the world which the State Department believes cannot be solved through negotiation, occasionally twisting itself into knots to rationalize this path as reasonable. The agency not infrequently seems a mass of contradictory policies and methods, as it tries to make its case for endless negotiation. It is not for nothing that the State Department is known as “Foggy Bottom.” This tendency sometimes creeps into the psyche of the Secretary, too, sometimes turning otherwise clear thinking individuals into doctrinaire actors unable or unwilling to see what is plain to everyone else.

Just to be clear, negotiation certainly has its place, particularly at the beginning of disagreements between nations. But everyone must acknowledge as a matter of rational thought that talking does not, and cannot, solve every problem.

All of the preceding is offered to set the stage for comments made at a recent meeting involving five former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Madeline Albright, Warren Christopher and James Baker. These five represent both Democrat and Republican administrations.

According to the Associated Press, and its reports must be viewed carefully, the five former Secretaries had broad agreement on a couple of hot-button issues, closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo, for short), and having a dialogue with Iran. Clearly, how we proceed with Iran is a legitimate area for State Department input, and the former Secretaries encouraged that path. The Guantanamo Bay facility, however, is outside the purview of State, although these individuals are entitled to their opinions. The statements I have chosen to comment on have to do with Gitmo.

Colin Powell noted that shutting down the facility sends a message to the world that “we are now going back to our traditional respective forms of dealing with people who potentially committed crimes.” See, that’s what I meant when I suggested that the mentality of Foggy Bottom sometimes affects the thinking of the Secretary. Gen. Powell ought to understand the difference between crimes like robbery, assault, and murder, and terrorist acts like those of 9-11 and in London and Madrid. Terrorists are not criminals, they are enemy combatants, members of an enemy force at war with the United States; they are not candidates for the American judicial system.

James Baker said, “I have a great deal of difficulty understanding how we can hold someone … —even if they were caught somewhere abroad acting against American interests—and hold them without ever giving them an opportunity to appear before a magistrate.” Foggy Bottom thinking, take two. Mr. Baker, a former Marine, and Gen. Powell, a four-star Army general, should know that enemy combatants/prisoners of war are held in detention centers or jails until the war ends. They are not tried while the conflict rages on. Since the detainees at Gitmo are suspected of fighting against the United States, and not suspected of holding up a convenience store, they must wait like all of those before them in wars across the globe for the war on terror to end.

Gitmo is looked upon both by some US citizens and some citizens of other nations as harmful to the good name of the United States, partly because these people do not understand the distinction between common criminals and terrorists, between street thugs and our nation’s enemies, or because they simply don’t care that there is a difference. Nevertheless, enemy fighters must be handled through a system appropriate to their status as enemies of our nation, and however unpopular the Guantanamo Bay facility is, it is a part of the system that is appropriate for the detention of our enemies.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Obama Still Plagued by Minister's Racist

and Anti-America Rants

Although Barack Obama's poll numbers have mostly recovered after Reverend Jeremiah Wright's incendiary political messages from the pulpit, the controversy continues to boil. In an effort to douse the flames of discontent resulting from those disgusting words, the Illinios Senator gave a speech recently. And some of what Sen. Obama had to say in that speech about the racial divide in the US was very good. He explained the way black Americans think about slavery and the anti-black prejudices that existed in this country during and after slavery, remnants of which still exist in the US today.

His comments helped explain the mindset that is present in the black Christian churches of America, or some of them, or most of them. And curiously enough, it is one of those radical churches to which Barack Obama, who speaks in soaring tones of hope and change and coming together, belongs and has for twenty years.

Sen. Obama says that comments by his pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, highlight what is wrong with America, but fail to address what is right with America. And while it is to his credit for him to make that point, it is still troubling that he has immersed himself in that poisonous atmosphere for all these years, the atmosphere being one of the radical, Afro-centric churches that preach Marxist "black liberation theology" in the name of God, as if “white Christianity” isn’t good enough for black people, just like nothing white seems good enough for blacks.

Indeed, if you have heard the comments of Reverend Wright, there is a whole lot about America that he and his flock don’t like. Blacks are angry over slavery and discrimination. But slavery was ended more than 140 years ago, and discrimination is fading into the pages of history.

Why do black Christian ministers like Reverend Wright feel the need to feed that anger, especially when such dramatic changes have occurred since the days of slavery and the days when black people were seriously discriminated against? Wouldn’t the Christian thing to do be to disarm that anger, for Reverend Wright to try to calm his followers, to encourage them, to show them that things have improved and are improving? Could he not point to a few prominent black Americans who since the days of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. have succeeded at the highest levels of entertainment, athletics, government and politics? People like Mohammad Ali, The Greatest; Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play in the major leagues; Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all times; Bill Cosby, Arthur Ashe, Tiger Woods. People like Colin Powell, a four-star Army general and former Secretary of State; or Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; or Condoleezza Rice; or Douglas Wilder, the former Governor of Virginia; or Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, or Thomas Sowell, the brilliant economic historian and writer; or Alan Keyes, the former Ambassador to the United nations.

Instead of being held up as examples of what black Americans can achieve, these successful people are often called “Uncle Toms,” and looked down upon as being less black than the perpetually aggrieved members of Trinity United Church of Christ where Reverend Wright spews hate in his anti-white, anti-American political speeches that he substituted for proper Christian sermons. Jeremiah Wright chose to replace stories of Jesus with rants that encourage his followers to believe they are all victims of rich white people.

You might expect that a man smart enough to point out all of the failings of America, real and imagined, would be smart enough to understand that you can’t get past race issues by making racial mountains out of molehills. The black churches focus on race, reminding their faithful from the pulpit, as Wright did, of their misfortune with fiery, rabble-rousing comments meant to stoke the fires of racial discord, not to help put them out.

Senator Obama’s political success itself is an example of how far the United States has come from the days of slavery and racial discrimination; it is an example of the equality that blacks say they want, but complain that they don’t have. But equality is a two-way street: It means that a black demagogue is due the same treatment as a white demagogue. Jeremiah Wright is a black demagogue, and we are asked to believe that a man who belonged to his church and who calls Rev. Wright a friend and a mentor completely rejects his hateful views. That, my dear friends, is a tough sell.

Barack Obama’s church affiliation is a stark contradiction to his carefully crafted election-year image. Should we believe his words, or should we believe his history? Can we trust the protestations of a man who says he rejects the anti-white, anti-America messages of his minister, but who did not have the good judgment or courage to find a church and a minister whose views mirror those he claims to hold? Or worse, that he didn’t notice this trend in his pastor?

The detestable views of Reverend Jeremiah Wright are said to be rather common in black churches. If that is so, then isn’t it reasonable to assume that those who attend black churches hold those same beliefs? You can see signs of these beliefs in the comments of Michelle Obama, Barack Obama’s wife. Is there anyone that believes his children are not being indoctrinated with these hateful messages? Is it possible to believe that a black man who attends a black church for nearly 20 years is somehow immune to the hate speech and racist comments of its minister, that he does not share those beliefs at some level?

Obama may be what he appears: a fair minded, non racially-motivated black man who just wants to save the world. One wonders, however, why such a man needed to be associated with the “typical black man’s” political grievances?

And if blacks feel they aren’t accepted by white people, maybe they ought to try to fit into the existing primarily-white society they are a small part of. Blacks comprise just 13 percent of the US population, so instead of highlighting and wallowing in their differences, why not join the majority. The black Americans who believe they are a part of this country and behave that way and the ones that are most successful.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Campaign Silliness

I’m just thinking through all the things I’ve heard or read about over the last week or so trying to find something that is more absurd than the assertion that a child born to US citizens, one of whom is serving in the US military, and both living outside the US at a base in a US territory, is not a “natural born” citizen of the United States of America.

This question arises out of the (presumably) honest question over the wording of the US Constitution governing who can be elected President of the United States, and the (supposedly) honest belief that the Constitution is unclear on this point. The relevant Constitutional language is contained in Article II, Section 1, and says: “No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.”

It severely strains the imigination that any intelligent person actually believes that the framers of the Constitution intended to disqualify someone otherwise qualified to be President because they had the misfortune for their mother be outside the United States when she gave birth. Yet, in American politics during campaign season, virtually anything is possible.

This issue has been mentioned by opponents of Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, but to date there has been no formal challenge to his eligibility. In order to circumvent some mischief from his opponents, the McCain campaign staff asked for a legal review to put the issue to rest. The review concluded that "Based on the original meaning of the Constitution, the Framers' intentions, and subsequent legal and historical precedent, Senator McCain's birth to parents who were U.S. citizens, serving on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, makes him a 'natural born citizen' within the meaning of the Constitution.”

Now we have one less silly distraction to interfere with the proper evaluation of candidates seeking to be our president.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Obama and Clinton Rely on Untruths

and Exaggeration in Campaign

Maybe we ought to expect political candidates to stretch the truth and even break it in an attempt to win their party's nomination. And maybe the closeness of the Democrat race exacerbates this tendency. You have to wonder if it is possible to be an honest, straightforward campaigner and still have a chance at being elected any more. Recent rhetoric by both Democrat presidential candidates does nothing to provide hope that honesty is a policy that will succeed.

Barack Obama said the other day the we are "at a time when we're on the brink of recession, when neighborhoods have 'For Sale' signs outside every home,” in Charleston, W.Va. There may be a recession coming, but that’s not certain. What is certain is that Obama can’t show any neighborhood where every house has a “For Sale” sign in the front yard.

At another appearance in the state, in Beckley, Obama declared that gasoline prices are four times higher than before the Iraq war, a statement by the Illinois Democrat that is easily verifiable, and false: Gasoline prices are approximately twice what they were before the Iraq war, around $3.26 now as opposed to $1.62 right before the war. Crude oil prices are 3.2 times higher than before the war, or about $102/bbl against $31.62 in 2003.

Hillary Clinton is no better, declaring a while back: "But I think we have to recognize that the weakening housing market actually impacts everybody, it's not just those who got in over their head, it's the neighbors and the community who are going to have vacant homes in their midst and it's the communities that won't have the property tax base," Clinton said, calling for a moratorium on foreclosures for 90 days. That’s a curious statement to make, given that throughout the entire housing market 94 percent of people with mortgages are current with their payments.

As to whether we are or are not sliding into recession, Sen. Clinton said, "Some [economists] say, yes, it's going there. Some say, not yet. Some say, oh, no. But the statistics are one thing, the stories are something altogether different," she asserted "It doesn't matter what you're told," Clinton said later. "It's what you feel, what you feel deep down." It isn’t important what’s really happening in the economy, all that matters is how people “feel” about the economy.

Sheesh! Is this the best the Democrat's can produce? I'm afraid so.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Latest Stupidest Proposal

As a sensible conservative who realizes the harm that excessive taxation inflicts on the people of the US, I oppose virtually any tax increase, and always for the same reason: Governments at all levels takes from Americans far more than is needed to provide the proper degree of support to the citizenry.

While I try always to brand behavior rather than call people names, I imagine that sometimes I fail. And, truth be told, I throw away that self-imposed restriction to discuss some total jackass who has done something so far over the line that hardly anyone would argue with me about it.

That said, the nominee for introducing the stupidest legislation lately is Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who wants to help cut consumption with a 50-cent tax on every gallon of gasoline.

This idea is not only stupid, but it’s also unpopular. Polls show that a majority of Americans support policies that would reduce greenhouse gases. But when it comes to paying for it, it's a different story. Just over one in four Americans favor paying 50 cents a gallon to help reduce greenhouse gases. That likely reflects two realities: First, hardly anyone wants to pay more for gasoline, and second, I think the reality that manmade greenhouse gases aren’t contributing significantly to global warming is spreading across the country.

The stupidity factor enters into the equation when you merely stop and think about the effect such a tax will have on every individual in the country, even those who don’t drive a gasoline powered vehicle. Not only would an increase in the gas tax cause pain at the pumps for every driver, but it would affect the prices of every product and service that depends upon gasoline for distribution, which is essentially every product and service known to man, including the cars we drive that require gasoline, and the trucks that deliver gasoline.

John Dingell must be one of those non-thinking people who believes taxes are the solution to most problems, and likely either never took a basic economics class, or failed it.

There’s a fair chance that enough smart people will put this proposal where it belongs: In the toilet.

And here's a message for government "servants" like John Dingell: If you want to spend money on reducing greenhouse gases, shift some of the billions the US spends each year from other programs that aren't as important.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Put Downs

The Saturday Evening Post has a feature called “The Perfect Squelch” wherein some smarty pants is put in her or his place. Is there anyone who doesn’t appreciate a finely tuned put down?

Following are four examples, all aimed at critics of America. The first one, by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, is accurate. The others may or may not be true, but they make a good story.


When in England at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush.

He answered by saying, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”


There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a break one of the French engineers came back into the room saying, “Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended to do, bomb them?”

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: “Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 5,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?”


A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, “whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.” He then asked, “Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?”

Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, “Maybe it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans fixed it so you wouldn't have to speak German.”


A group of Americans, retired teachers, recently went to France on a tour. Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on. “You have been to France before, monsieur?” the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously. “Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.” The American said, “The last time I was here, I didn't have one.”
”Impossible. Americans always have to have a passport to enter France.”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained. “Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, there weren’t any damn Frenchmen asking for one.”

Monday, March 17, 2008

Obama's Dilemma

I’ve been thinking a little about the comments from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the just-retired pastor of Barack Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago whose race-mongering and anti-American comments have created such a stir across the American political landscape.

I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt to both Sen. Obama and Rev. Wright, although little that anyone can say about the Reverend can undo the ugliness of his remarks. But to put this in context, the man ministered at Trinity Church for twenty years, presumably 50 weeks a year, with a message each week. By my count, that’s 1,000 or more messages. We have heard excerpts from a mere handful of them, and we just don’t know what the content of the others may have been.

Jim Brown, the former NFL great, noted today on the radio that much of the progress blacks have made since the days of slavery is due to the actions of white people, such as those who set up the Underground Railroad, and the man who made Jackie Robinson a Major League baseball player, Branch Rickey, to name just two examples. Mr. Brown allowed that Rev. Wright may have in other sermons alluded to these contributions from white people. Perhaps he did.

However, some things come to the fore.

If, as Jim Brown allows, Rev. Wright has credited the white people who have helped advance the cause of blacks in America through the decades, shouldn’t there be video evidence of that, just as there is video evidence of his anti-American and racist anti-white remarks?

And then there is the reaction of the audience to Rev. Wright’s comments, the wild enthusiasm for those remarks was not quite universal, but was obviously broadly agreed with by most of those in attendance. I got the distinct feeling that the ideas in those remarks were familiar ones, and popular among the faithful members of Trinity United. And it is undeniable that this line of thought is a prominent one among black Americans. It is further undeniable that these are not messages of faith, or of God or Jesus, or about living a Christian life, which are the messages one would expect to hear from the pulpit. They are militant messages of continuously aggrieved blacks for whom America can never be good enough, can never be forgiven for its slavery-supporting history of 14 decades ago. They are political messages, not religious messages, designed to appeal to the “we’re-blacks-and-we’re-victims” mentality that has been so carefully cultivated by race-baiters for decades, designed to keep blacks and whites from coming together.

The presidency is a mainstream America institution. Those who aspire to it must be mainstream Americans, or they won’t be elected to the office. A man or woman who hates blacks, or who hates whites, won’t be the President of the United States. The people who listen and celebrate the racism and anti-Americanism of Trinity United’s pastor Jeremiah Wright are decidedly not mainstream Americans. The questions, which are important ones, are: to what degree does Barack Obama share those attitudes? And, if he doesn’t share them and support them, as he now says he doesn’t, why did he continue to attend Trinity United with its obvious anti-white, anti-America philosophy? And why was he a close friend of a man who replaced proper church sermons with political and racial cheerleading all these years?

I believe Barack Obama has a tough sell ahead of him, and a powerful lot of explaining to do.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obama, Wright, and the Future of a Dream

The inflammatory remarks from the pulpit of the church Barack Obama has belonged to for the last 17 or 18 years helps to fill in the blank slate that is Barack Obama. The image of Obama up until this point was of a smooth talking advocate for change who appealed to us to hope for better things and better times, and that he would lead America there as president. The radical, rabble-rousing speeches—and they are speeches, not sermons—of Jeremiah Wright from the pulpit of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, are not designed to help his flock become better people and better Christians, but to appeal to the latent and not so latent resentment within many in the black community over the long-dead institution of slavery, the whacko views of the far left on the 9-11 attacks, the juvenile concept that AIDS is a convention of white people to rid the Earth of black people and other issues from long ago, the dredging up of which preserves and fosters the development of an anti-white attitude in the black community that widens the racial gulf that blacks seek to narrow to gain equality.

If this ultimately is the undoing of Barack Obama’s candidacy, which is the first best chance for a black president, is ruined by this revelation, America’s blacks can feel confident that the militant attitudes that they continue to fertilize and nurture are the reason.

And to what degree does this militant attitude spill over from political rhetoric to action?

Does this deliberate anti-white message influence black thugs like those who are accused in the killings of the two white college girls recently? If the black suspects are the killers, were those victims chosen because they were white, or was that a factor in their selection?

That question produces an answer based on a high level of speculation, of course, but it is not nearly so wild a prospect as are the racist and idiotic rantings of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and those who believe him.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sliding Toward Idiocracy

On the recommendation of some friends we rented “Idiocracy,” the story of “the most average soldier” of very average intelligence in the US Army who is chosen by the Army for a secret year-long cryogenics experiment. He is perfect for the role because his parents have died, he is an only child, and he is not married or seeing anyone, and if he disappears for a year, no one will notice. Something goes wrong, of course, and Corporal Joe Bauers and the other participant are forgotten about, and only come out of their sleep 500 years later, in the year 2505. Obviously, things have changed dramatically over 500 years.

The point of the movie is that while even back in 2005 when Joe entered into this experiment the average intelligence of the human race was sliding downward, and when Joe wakes up, things have deteriorated to a truly ridiculous level. The synopsis from Wikipedia describes it thusly: “The movie begins with an introduction, accompanied by a voiceover, that explains the concept of unintelligent people enthusiastically outbreeding competent people, creating a future society which is irreversibly less functional. Demographic superiority now favors those least likely to advance the interests of society. Consequently, the children of educated elites become overwhelmed in a sea of promiscuous, illiterate, beer-swilling, jet ski-crashing peers.” That, believe it or not, is putting a positive spin on the way the movie portrays things.

In the hands of a master like Mel Brooks such a plot line could be a scream, but unfortunately someone else made this one, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone over the age of 19.

While recommending this film to us our friends made the point that there is a lot more truth to the plot than maybe people would like to admit, that mankind, or perhaps just the US, has already drifted further toward idiocy than the movie’s introduction implies. After watching some of “Idiocracy” (I couldn’t stand much more than 20 minutes), I tend to agree. What often passes for entertainment these days is so dramatically low-brow: Rap “music’s” violent and filthy lyrics; comedians who can’t be funny without using four-letter words and other intellectually vapid language and symbols; rampant pornographic images and inappropriate situations on television, even during “family time;” athletes who take illegal drugs to make themselves “better;” “reality” shows where people confess infidelity in front of their spouse simultaneously with a live studio audience and millions of TV viewers, for money; what seems to be an increase in horribly violent crimes … the list goes on. Such symbols of cultural devolution do indeed reflect a society in decline, not just intellectually, buy morally and ethically, as well.

Researchers tell us the US education system, once one of the best in the world, is now out-performed by eleven other countries, including South Korea, Japan, and Hungary. War and oppression weren’t enough to keep those countries down, but the high standard of living in the US apparently is. And, one study ranked the US 18th out of the 24 nations it looked at.

Frankly, at the rate we are moving right now, I don’t think it will take 500 years for the United States to become a nation of dumb-as-rocks, self-absorbed, pleasure addicts that can’t add two and two, speak intelligible English (or Spanish), or solve problems. And whether we really are less smart, or whether we’re just addicted to our own selfish desires, the result will be the same.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Birds


This winter I’ve noticed a large number of large birds perched in the trees near my house in the afternoon (Each of those black spots is a bird). I don’t know what kind of birds they are, but when in flight they look like hawks, with “fingers” on their wing tips. Their bodies aren’t large, but the wingspan is three to four feet, and they have pretty massive tails, and when they perch in the trees, they look huge, because of the large wings and tails. I tried to get close enough to them to get a good close-up photo, but they are 20 feet or so off the ground, and spook pretty easy.

I did get a little bit of a close-up view while to a highway entrance ramp the other day, and they appear to be about 14 inches tall with black bodies/wings/tails and a gray head. I’ve seen a small splash of red on the beak occasionally, too. [[ I have been able to discern that there are at least two different species, one with the gray head, and one with red on its face, not its beak. ]]

I have actually counted more than 80 of them once, about 100 once, and another time I counted 84 with a large group that I hadn’t gotten to when something spooked them and they started flying all over the place. My estimate is that that group numbered more than 120.

They don’t roost in our trees, they just perch there for an hour or so in the afternoon, and occasionally some of them leave for a while and return. Before they perch, you can see them soaring over the valley. I’ve also seen them in the trees in the morning after it gets light. I’m surprised there’s enough food around in the winter to support them all, but there must be, or they wouldn’t stay around. I’m guessing they are turkey buzzards, which is a hawk.

Anybody have a clue what they are?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Oh No! Now What?

A lot of non-Democrats are taking a pleasure in watching the Dem’s struggle to stand up in the mud puddle their primary election season has become. Originally set up as a coronation of Hillary Clinton after Super Tuesday’s contests gave her an overwhelming margin, the Dems now find themselves up a tree, with two significant states disobeying Howard Dean’s rules and moving their primaries forward on the calendar, and Barack Obama having the audacity to actually run a good campaign against Sen. Clinton.

Such unplanned events do not bode well for the peaceful and triumphant crowning of Sen. Clinton that party bosses had envisioned for the August convention, but they may be good news for the rest of us who long for the more interesting conventions of yesteryear, when the nomination often was decided in smoke-filled back rooms during that event. One difference, however: You can’t smoke in the back rooms anymore.

Instead of Sen. Clinton spending her time between Super Tuesday’s assumed massive victories and November’s General Election convincing the American people to buy her snake oil socialism and beating the Republican nominee over the head with a bat labeled “George Bush,” she first has to convince Democrats that her deep and broad experience attending funerals and dinners overseas is superior to Sen. Obama’s experience doing whatever he did for the last 16 years. Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd had it right when he noted that Sen. Clinton’s eight years in the White House as first lady amounted not to experience, but to “witnessing experience.” The fact is that neither Clinton nor Obama has any special experience that qualifies them for the presidency beyond being American citizens over the age of 35 with a little ho-hum time in one or another legislative body.

While Senators Clinton and Obama grapple in the mud, John McCain has an opportunity to go through his desk drawers and find the Cliff Notes on “Being a Conservative” and read it through a few times. He can try to rationalize his positions on limiting free speech, enabling illegal immigration, encouraging economy-busting solutions for man-not-made global warming, and maybe even study up on economics, and be tanned and rested and ready for the battle starting in September, or when either Obama or Clinton throws in the towel, whichever comes first.

Anything that gets in the way of the Democrats’ effort to further socialize the United States and give more power to the federal government—as either a President Clinton or a President Obama would surely try to do—needs to be watered, fed and nurtured.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Double Dose

Appealing to the Scared Little Boy and Girl in All of Us

The late H.L. Mencken explained the devious strategy now so prominently on display in the political campaigns and in the media by saying, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

In less frantic times global warming or gay marriage are the enemies of everyday Americans. But in the full glory of a heated presidential campaign the focus shifts to things of more immediate concern, like the economy, mortgage failures, health care, and taxes.

In this laughing gas-influenced atmosphere the message the media and the Democrats want to send is that our pretty-good economy is really in the tank, and after a few months of this negativism and demagoguery, magnified by a stunning lack of objectivity in the media, voila: the economy has stalled, though still not in the recession we hear daily that it is in. The media and the Democrats have created a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the gullible American public has fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

More important than the faux crisis that we hear so much about—like the mortgage bump and the cyclical economic slowdown—are the truly important issues of terrorism and keeping government from gaining even more control over us in the November election. From what we are hearing, the Democrats either don’t think these latter issues are important, or they don’t want to talk about them, believing that they can fare better by focusing on the scary topics of recession, a lack of health care, and people losing their homes.

If the election turns on the faux crises that the Democrats are running on, and if one of those Democrats is elected with a Democrat Congress behind him or her, those of us who prefer limited government and also think our government has far exceeded its Constitutional boundaries had better batten down the hatches. Freedom will be under a full-scale attack.

Democrat’s Rules Pose Terrific Problem

The Democratic Party has disenfranchised Florida and Michigan voters/delegates because those states moved their primaries up on the calendar, against Party orders. The result was, in Florida, for example, that only Hillary Clinton actively campaigned in the state and, of course, won handily. And now the Democrats have a huge problem: As things stand now Florida’s votes don’t count and Florida’s delegates won’t be seated at the convention when, it appears, the decision on the nominee will be will be made. The same situation, or a similar one, exists in Michigan.

So the Democrats at the national level have a real problem: Do they stick to their guns and punish Michigan and Florida because they didn’t follow the dictates of the national Party leadership? Or, do they relent and allow Florida and Michigan to seat their delegates based upon the election results? The latter option would seem to present a whole new set of problems, inasmuch as those results are not truly representative of the preferences of the voters of those states, since there was no real campaign in either state. Or, do the Dems allow a do-over vote in Florida and Michigan?

Whatever they decide, it isn’t going to be a positive for the Democrat nominee.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Congressional Tomfoolery

According to an Associated Press story, Attorney General Michael Mukasey has refused to refer the House of Representative's contempt citations against two of President Bush's top aides to a federal grand jury because, Mr. Mukasey said, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers had committed no crime, which is far and away the best reason not to put something before a grand jury.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was beside herself, sniveling that “the American people demand that we uphold the law," as she announced that she has given the Judiciary Committee authority to file a lawsuit against Mr. Bolten and Ms. Miers in federal court. "As public officials, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect our system of checks and balances and our civil lawsuit seeks to do just that," the Congresswoman said. Now if she would just check the law maybe she’d realize .

So what is it that has Speaker Pelosi so beside herself? Well, Mr. Bolton and Ms. Meirs had had the temerity to ignore subpoenas to provide Congress with White House documents or testify about the firings of federal prosecutors and, Lord knows, the wishes of Congressional Democrats had best not be ignored.

The facts are that, a) since Ms. Pelosi took charge of the House, it has done little more than conduct investigations, none of which have turned up anything of real substance, and b) there is no there there; it is perfectly within a president’s prerogative to relieve federal prosecutors of their duties for any reason, or for no particular reason at all. Remember, Bill Clinton fired all 93 of the DAs without so much as a yawn from the Congress, Democrats or Republicans. Yet, when George Bush lets just eight go, it requires a Congressional investigation? Do you think there may be a political motive behind this foolishness?

You may argue that the firing was handled badly or that it didn’t look too good, but the Democrats can’t make it a crime for an administration to do what it clearly is allowed to do just because they don’t personally like what it did, and they can’t waste taxpayer’s money investigating non-crimes for political purposes. And if there is any doubt that politics is behind this move, consider that Democrats want the filing of the lawsuit to occur swiftly so that a judge might rule before the November elections, when all 435 House seats and a third of the Senate are up for grabs.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

More Economic Scare News

MoneyNews tells us that “the number of homes facing foreclosure jumped 57 percent in January compared to a year ago, with lenders increasingly forced to take possession of homes they couldn't unload at auctions, a mortgage research firm said Monday.” The story went on to cite some figures, such as that “233,001 homes received at least one notice from lenders last month related to overdue payments, compared with 148,425 a year earlier,” and then noted that “the worsening situation came despite ongoing efforts by lenders to help borrowers manage their payments by modifying loan terms, working out long-term repayment plans and other actions.”

Oh … my … God! Take cover; the sky is falling!

However, you can be easily misled by looking at percentages in the absence of data describing the whole universe under discussion. For example, if I told you that it has been discovered that cases of instant stupidity in the US rose 75 percent last month, you might be scared to death. But if you knew that whereas in January there were four cases, and in February that rose to seven cases, you might be comforted, knowing that instant stupidity isn’t an epidemic. (Other types of stupidity, on the other hand, may be at true epidemic levels.)

Later, the story gives you some important information, almost as an afterthought: “The U.S. foreclosure rate last month was one filing for every 534 homes.” Let’s see, if we divide that one home by the other side of the ratio, we find that the percentage of home foreclosures is a frightening .00187, less than 2/100ths of one percent. Sorry all you gloom-and-doomers, like Senators Clinton and Obama who would benefit from a true housing crisis or a recession, it just ain’t happening.

What’s missing in all of this is the very data we need on the total number of mortgages so that shows we can see just how small the problem really is. MortgageNewsDaily tells us that there are roughly 41.3 million mortgages, the vast majority of which are in the prime mortgage sector (31.4 million), a relative few (4.3 million) are government loans, and only slightly more (5.6 million) in the troubled sub-prime market. When we take the 233,001 home buyers who received notices in January and divide that by the total of 41.3 million mortgages we find that in January two-tenths of one percent of mortgagees got a letter.

So, the reality is that, yes, there are some problems in the mortgage market, just as there are some problems in the economy, but just as the economy isn’t in a recession, the mortgage market isn’t in a crisis.