Thursday, January 31, 2008

They Aren't Even Using Code Language

Over the last month, I've become increasingly jaded with talk radio and the pundits who practice there. It's not just their unrelenting John McCain bashing. OK, the unrelenting John McCain bashing is a large part of it. The other part of it is the snobbery directed at those--including a lot of Republicans, if Florida is any indication--who disagree with them about McCain and the issues they demonize him over.

But perhaps one pundit has crossed the line.

Discussing last night’s GOP debate on his radio show today, Glenn Beck and fill-in host Pat Gray mocked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) by derisively calling him "Juan McCain." Beck, who considers McCain’s sponsorship of a comprehensive immigration bill and the Mexican background of his national director of Hispanic outreach to be "an audacious slap in the face to the American people," proudly advertised the segment in his daily e-mail to listeners today...

I'm having a hard time finding the words to describe how disgusting I think this is. I've defended Glenn Beck when I thought Media Matters distorted his views. But it's pretty hard not to consider "Juan McCain" to be a racist parody not far from Uncle Tom. It's not only racist, it's desperate and will do more to harm Mitt Romney with Latinos than anything Romney has said or done.

Latinos are the largest minority group in the U.S., having passed African Americans in 2001. And many of those Latinos don't like the anti-Latino sentiment (for that's how it is perceived) of the far right when it comes to illegal immigration. At a time when Republicans need to reach out to Latinos, idiotic "jokes" like "Juan McCain" will do more to reinforce the stereotype of the racist Republican.

Are the anti-McCain people really this stupid? Or is this a vast leftwing conspiracy to make Republicans look this bad?

More importantly, racism is never ok. It's not ok to use it to mock those with whom one disagrees. It's not ok to use in parody of those with whom one disagrees. And it's not ok when you are desperate because no one is listening to your screeching against a candidate's policies.

I am embarrassed that my party is morphing into something I don't recognize, morphing into exactly what the nutroots believe us to be.

Thank God RedState has decided to take the hard stance against this idiocy.
What is not fine, okay, or within the bounds of the rules, is to use Latino names as an insult. We are speaking, specifically, of "Jorge Arbusto" and "Juan McCain," although it's certainly possible that others are floating out there or may yet be invented. Allow me to clue anyone who thinks these names are funny or clever in to something: racism isn't clever or funny. If you think you've really zinged someone by calling them by a Latino name, that's a pretty reliable (nearly infallible, in fact) indicator that you don't like Latino people.

At least some people haven't developed McCain Derangement Syndrome.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Would Ronald Reagan Be a Conservative?

The rightwing pundits and blogs have gone apoplectic over the possibility that John McCain could be the Republican candidate for president in 2008. Their complaint? He's not a conservative (see here, here, here, and here for starters). Yet, as I've pointed out, McCain has earned a respectable lifetime score of 82 from the American Conservative Union.

The problem, of course, isn't that McCain isn't a conservative; he's not the right kind of conservative. It doesn't matter how McCain votes on education, welfare, the military, abortion, or a host of other usually considered conservative topics. What matters to the "purity" crowd is a handful of issues, and those issues only:

1. Illegal immigration--boot everybody back over the border!

2. Campaign finance reform--we're agin it!

3. President Bush's tax cuts--can't ever be against tax cuts!

Essentially, all other issues are unimportant, if you listen to enough talk radio (speaking of which, listening to Hugh Hewitt's coverage of tonight's debate was an absolute embarrassment for him. The only thing he didn't do was break out the tears and beg people on bended knee not to vote for John McCain).

But I have to wonder, would Ronald Reagan qualify as a conservative to these folks? They say he would, but look at his record.
1. Amnesty--real amnesty, not the you-gotta-pay-a-fine, follow these rules, etc. type proposed by President Bush. Ronald Reagan signed an actual amnesty bill during his presidency which allowed 5.6 million illegals to gain citizenship.

2. Smaller government--everybody knows that conservatives tout smaller government, right? That's one of those core conservative values Laura Ingraham talks about, isn't it? Well, somebody needs to break it to Laura that Ronald Reagan, who promised to abolish the Departments of Education and Energy, actually created a new federal department: the Department of Veterans Affairs. Not only that, but the federal payroll grew by 61,000 employees under Reagan. That's not smaller government, even for this math-challenged liberal arts major. Reagan also agreed to a massive bailout of Social Security, after declaring that he would like to allow citizens to opt out of it.

3. Tax cuts and tax increases--Reagan signed into law the biggest restructuring of the tax system since John F. Kennedy in 1981. Yet only a year later, Reagan also signed various tax hikes into law. I guess being for tax cuts but also for tax hikes makes one a "true" conservative? It's a hard argument to make.

As Joshua Green said in his fine opinion piece,
The real Reagan, on the other hand, would bring discord to the current conservative agenda. If you believe, as conservatives now do, that raising taxes is always wrong, then it's hard to admit that Reagan himself did so repeatedly. If you argue that the relative tax burden on low-income workers is too light, as the Bush administration does, then it does not pay to dwell on the fact that Reagan himself helped lighten that burden. If you insist, as many hardliners now do, that America is dangerously soft on communist China, then it is best to ignore Reagan's own softening toward the Soviet Union.

The fact is, even Ronald Reagan, the god of the "purity" conservatives, wouldn't be conservative under their definition of conservatism. Talk radio pundits and others cannot bring themselves to admit the truth about Reagan: he succeeded in bringing together disparate groups into a coalition which worked for various common goals. To do so would mean they would have to stop bashing John McCain as "not a conservative" because he doesn't tow their ideological line on their pet issues.

"Purity" conservatives need to reread the history of Ronald Reagan's presidency. Reagan won landslide victories in 1980 and 1984 not only because he had weak opponents (that didn't hurt) but because his rhetoric and philosophies allowed people without much in common to find common cause in the Republican big tent. Instead of sneering at moderates and condemning immigration reform advocates, "purity" conservatives need to ask themselves if they really want to be the Whig Party of the 21st Century.

McCain Wins Florida...Rush Limbaugh Whines and Pulls What Little Hair He Has Left

Yesterday was another RL crisis day for me. My father is very ill and I spent the afternoon and most of the evening at the hospital. Today, we'll have a CT scan to see if he's had a stroke. I got him to eat and drink some for me and he seemed peppier, but not by much. I'm still praying and holding on to each minute with him I have.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out, as I drove through the night back to my house, that John McCain had won the Florida primary. After listening to Rush Limbaugh sneer at anyone--particularly women--who criticize him (is it any wonder he's not married?), even I was ready to tell certain talk radio people to just shut the hell up...and I'm a free speech kinda gal, even for jerks. Rush Limbaugh even had callers crowing at the idea that "we don't want to win, we want to be right." Sorry to tell her, I'd like to be right and win. But if I can't have my ideal candidate, I'll take one that beats Democrats. As has been oft repeated here and elsewhere, John McCain has a lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union of 83. His biggest critic who has actually served, Rick Santorum, has a lifetime rating of 88. I guess it's those 5 points that make the difference, right? *smacks forehead*

The fact is, McCain is solidly Republican but, unlike so many pundits, doesn't believe that compromising with Democrats to achieve legislation is a bad thing. Oddly enough, the American people have said they want more bipartisanship...which requires working with Democrats. Conservatives need to come to accept that.

But they won't for now. Instead, we'll see a lot of crying and whining about the unfairness of it all.

Assuming there is no shocking revelation or health issue, the GOP nomination is over. Conservatives need to start practicing the phrase "Nominee presumptive John McCa....."

Sorry, I can't say it. Not yet.

But it's true. When the campaign comes here to Massachusetts on February 5th, I'll proudly cast my vote for any option on the GOP ballot other than You-Know-Who. But it will be a futile gesture. Mr. "1/3rd Of The GOP Primary Vote" is going to be the nominee.

He's going to win the big, left-leaning states on Tuesday. Huckabee will stay in and deny Romney a one-on-one contest for GOP voters that Captain Amnesty would almost certainly lose. The result: More wins for He Who Must Not Be Named, and fewer wins for Romney—regardless of delegate count.
Florida has launched the one ship that Romney's money and Rush Limbaugh cannot stop: The U.S.S. Inevitable. It's gonna happen. Even if there were a realistic pathway to stop him, the media have seized control of the process now and are declaring him inevitable. He is, after all, the favorite son of the New York Times.

So it is over. Finished. In November, we'll be sending out our most liberal, least trustworthy candidate vs. to take on Hillary Clinton—perhaps not more liberal than Barack Obama, but certainly far less trustworthy. And the worst part for the Right is that McCain will have won the nomination while ignoring, insulting and, as of this weekend, shamelessly lying about conservatives and conservatism.

You think he supported amnesty six months ago? You think he was squishy on tax cuts and judicial nominees before? Wait until he has the power to anger every conservative in America, and feel good about it.

Emphasis mine.

The truth is, John McCain didn't ignore or lie about conservatives or conservatism. He was attacked mercilessly by talking heads and lied about by Mitt Romney. Romney bought more than 10 times the ads in Florida as McCain.
According to Neilsen, he's run 4,475 ads compared to John McCain's 470 through 1/22.

McCain did not run a single ad until January; Romney ran more ads in September than McCain has run to date.

These people crying about McCain winning need to decide how McCain beat Plasticman with almost no money. The answer is simple: Romney is a flip-flopping fake and everybody saw through it. As one person I heard on the radio described it, "Mitt Romney left people with the impression he had no convictions. At a townhall meeting, if a questioner seemed to be for No Child Left Behind, then Romney gave an answer supporting NCLB. If the questioner seemed to be against it, Romney gave an answer that was anti-NCLB." Those things matter to people a lot more than calling comprehensive immigration reform amnesty or complaining about McCain-Feingold, which none of the Republican candidates supported repealing.

Jules Crittenden explained it this way:
Mitt Romney has hardly shown himself to be a model of consistency and has veered more wildly. In any case, as previously stated, this is a hold-your-nose election that has more to do with electability,* unpleasant alternatives and ultimately, whichever issue(s) you consider the most important. Because you aren’t going to get everything you want.

Unless your big issues are hope ...and change!

Michelle Malkin complains and offers e-mails from sniffy Republicans who evidently put purity above winning by huffily declaring they'll vote for a Democrat before John McCain. Because, yes, being the permanent minority is much more important.

"Worst Person in the World?" Really?

I overuse the word "stupid" sometimes to describe behavior that lacks rationality, but Keith Olbermann really must be a stupid man. Beyond stupid. Moronic. Idiotic. Doltish. And that's on a good day.

Now, via Hot Air, I find out that he called Mary Katherine Ham the "worst person in the world" (gosh, that huuurts, doesn't it? I guess he thinks that's a good insult) for saying that

But, you know, I think he’s sort of a victim of the — or not a victim, but he’s getting used to the 24-hour news cycle. When he was president, he was not subjected to quite as much scrutiny, and I think he got a lot of passes, and now he’s mad he’s not getting them anymore.

Liarmann goes off on Ham, berating her for being young (the last refuge of the petty) and rants that because Clinton lied under oath, lied to the American people, and parsed language like a lawyer and was caught that he didn't get a pass on any number of other things he said and did. Hell, there are whole websites devoted to cataloging Clinton's lies. And yes, he did get a lot of passes on them.

It's tough being as dumb as Keith Olbermann. He can't even claim, like Stephen Colbert, that he's playing a character. Being dumb is Olbermann's character.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Watching the Democrats Implode...Pass the Popcorn, Please

Orrin Judd at Brothers Judd blog has an excellent analysis of the problems in the Democratic party.

For all the gleeful cries from the left of "Pass the popcorn!" at the in-fighting among Republicans, it is the Democrats who are imploding specifically because they are only a party of factions, not ideas.

The brilliance of Bill Clinton--and it is a terrible mistake for Republicans not to recognize said--was that he made the Democrats a party of ideology again. While the disastrous 70s and the Thatcher/Volcker/Reagan recovery put paid to the Second Way and drove a stake through the heart of the old statist/socialist ideology, his Third Way/New Democrat platform unified Democrats around the idea of beating Republicans at their own game by using free market (First Way) means to achieve Second Way ends--a fairly high level of government-mandated and/or guaranteed social security. This was, of course, not original with him but borrowed from Augusto Pinochet, New Zealand, Margaret Thatcher, Anthony Giddens, Newt Gingrich, etc., and it was subsequently co-opted by leaders across party lines throughout the Anglosphere: Tony Blair, John Howard, George W. Bush, Stephen Harper, Kevin Rudd, etc.. Unfortunately for all concerned however, it was promptly dropped by the Democrats as his term ended, to the point where even his own vice president ran against it.

And so the Party reverted to being just a coalition of special interests with entirely parochial political ends pitted in a continuing contest against one another because those ends are so often in conflict. It is always difficult to unify such amalgams of different interests, both because it's unlikely the majority--even when your party has some power--will do much for the discrete minorities and because the resentments against the other party that you whip up to keep each tribe in line inevitably end up getting turned against the other tribes in your own party.

It's easy enough to keep blacks hating on Republicans, who have frequently been at least insensitive on racial matters and Latinos angry about the GOP's racist immigration ravings and seculars, queers, Jews, pro-abortionists, etc. riled up about a party dominated by conservative Christianity, and so on and so forth. But, unless you offer them something else besides, you run the risk that the blacks will recognize that open immigration is handing political power in the cities to Hispanics, that Latinos will realize that they are the Christians and "breeders" who the atheists and Malthusians despise, that the majority religious blacks and Latinos will realize that the social program of the Party is antithetical to their own faith, etc.. The fewer ideas your party is discussing and running on -- the less what? there is to the party -- the more time people have to spend thinking about who the party is. And the truth is, the various cohorts don't have much in common and don't necessarily like each other much.

Which brings us to 2008, wherein the Democrats offer two candidates who are most noticeably tribal and idea-free. The choice of a black man or a feminist woman, occurring as it does in a policy vacuum, essentially reduces the race to a contest to see who gets to be at the top of the totem pole and whose priorities get shoved towards the bottom. Under these circumstances it was always unlikely that the Democrats were going to be the party that elected a person of color or a woman. It's far easier for the GOP, where faith and the Founding present a universal set of ideas that cut across racial, ethnic, and gender lines. But, by abandoning Clintonism, the Democrats have probably made it impossible for themselves, particularly if Republicans nominate someone like John McCain, who is not despised within their own party. He offers a viable alternative for those alienated by their eventual nominee.

One of the important points overlooked by the rabid anybody-but-McCain folks is Romney's unelectability. Simply put, McCain will draw in the centrists and independents needed for victory and Romney will not. I know that comes as a real shock to Hugh Hewitt, who argues that conservatives won't vote for McCain (they will) or Glenn Beck who argues that John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barak Obama are interchangeable (surely he isn't this stupid?).

But the truth is (cover your eyes, Rush), this is a post-Reagan era and Republicans need a post-Reagan plan. That's not to say modern conservatism isn't grounded in Ronald Reagan's ideology. What it means is that when a certain segment of the electorate only remembers Bushes and Clintons, yammering about the greatness of Ronald Reagan doesn't draw them in. You have to accept that times have changed and so has the expectations of the electorate.

As Edward Glaeser says in this article,
Ideally, a new Republican party would keep the best parts of the Reagan revolution — a torch for freedom that limits government at home and presses for freedom abroad — but would also embrace new constituencies left cold by Tom DeLay. The environment has become too important to leave up to the environmentalists. It is time for the Republicans to return to Theodore Roosevelt and lead in this area. The party must once again make the case that its economic policies offer the brightest future for middle income Americans. The most important tasks of the next president lie in foreign affairs. Since that is not my area of expertise, I don't know whether Mr. McCain or Mr. Giuliani or Mr. Romney would be the best president. I think that Mr. McCain would do the most to transform the G.O.P. into a party that would appeal to a broader spectrum of Americans. A recent Wall Street Journal poll suggests that while Mr. McCain would beat Senator Clinton, either Mr. Giuliani or Mr. Romney would lose by more than 15 percentage points. Mr. McCain offers the most radical break with the recent Republican past, which explains both why he is disliked by those who look backwards and why he is most likely to create a more robust G.O.P.

I agree.

The Reason Abortion Rates Have Dropped

Via ifeminists, this Reason magazine article discusses the reasons the abortion rate has dropped to its lowest level in 30 years. The big one? Better information.

When the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, most people had little understanding of fetal development. But the proliferation of ultrasound images from the womb, combined with the dissemination of facts by pro-life groups, has lifted the veil.

Pro-choicers hate informed consent. They hate 4-D sonogram machines and fetal development charts. They hate protesters reminding them that killing a 6-week fetus in the womb is, nonetheless, taking a life. That's why they make ridiculous arguments comparing abortion with menstruation and sneer at "the cute little zygote." They trumpet women's "choice," dismissing the "choices" made before pregnancy.

There are, of course, several reasons that abortion rates have dropped. There is better contraception available. And single motherhood has become more acceptable. There are more options for women dealing with crisis pregnancies. And there are fewer abortion clinics.

But the big reason abortion rates have dropped is that the pro-life movement has done a better job of reminding women of something they really know deep down but try to ignore when contemplating abortion: their pregnancy isn't a "blob of tissue" or a "tumor" or "just like removing an appendix." Babies are human beings before birth as well as after. Few women, when confronted with the truth think abortion is just a 20 minute procedure.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Momento Mori, Part 2

Part 1 is this post by Art at Dana's site.

Death and disability have been weighing heavily on my mind for several months now, but I've never been sure how to discuss them in a post. One situation in particular has been bothering me. It's neither political nor altogether personal because I didn't really know the main person involved.

My son's Cub Scout leader has 4 sons. The oldest is my son's age and the next oldest is the age of my youngest daughter. These children have been friends for several years and I've had quite a bit of contact with the father, less so with the mother. This family is very nice, salt of the earth kinds of people.

A little over a year ago, this family discovered that their third son, who wasn't even 3 at the time, had a brain tumor. The shock and horror of everyone who found out was palpable. This brave family went through a successful surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments over the past year.

My children have had less contact with the children because of the need to keep germs to a minimum. Even so, I followed their story through the mother's blog entries on a local hospital website. Her writing has been, at times, sad, poignant, ecstatic, and thought-provoking. It certainly caused me to spend more time with my kids and less doing other things.

Tragically, the brain tumor came back and one week ago, this sweet 4-year-old boy died. His family is coping as best they can and they have much support through family, friends and community.

How does one cope with such a loss? I cannot imagine. I kissed my children and kept them close to me in the days that followed the news. It has helped me renew efforts to rebind severed ties with my teenage daughter. And it has reminded me that regardless of politics, we are all tied together through the human family.

"You don't need to work, work, work and then have a family,"

So says a new generation of female attorneys.

(Erica) Leatham...started her own firm after nearly eight years in the Bethesda, Md., office of Holland & Knight. She was miserable there, she says, because of the way big law firms are set up. She felt she was being forced to buy into a set of rules about succeeding that had been created by a generation that had no other choice.

The older women's thinking, she says, is that you pay some heavy dues first, and they buy you the leverage to do other things, to have a life. But Leatham -- with some prodding from her husband, who saw how unhappy she was -- realized she didn't want to follow that path. "I thought we need to be shifting the paradigm. You don't need to work, work, work and then have a family."

So Leatham, a zoning and land use attorney, left Holland & Knight and, with some colleagues and friends, formed her own firm, Stark, Meyers, Eisler & Leatham, based in Rockville, Md. Ironically, she says, she puts in more hours now than she did at Holland & Knight. "But I can control it in a way I didn't before. It's just empowering," she says.

And, most importantly, says Leatham, she's infinitely happier now. She has a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old, and if she wants to take the afternoon off to run errands, nobody blinks. "The beauty of it is, I'm in control of my own schedule," she says.

The twentysomethings of today don't look at jobs and career the way baby boomers did and do. The complaint of baby boomers is that their younger counterparts want all the perks without the hard work.

I don't know if that's entirely true. They certainly don't look at work as fulfillment the way earlier generations have, but perhaps that's because they grew up as latch key kids with parents who didn't come home until after dark and then worked through the night. Maybe watching their parents work 16 hours a day did something to them.

Feminists seem to take particular offense that younger women aren't interested in doing things the way previous generations did it, or that, somehow, young women don't "appreciate" the suffering of older feminists.
Perhaps the difference is that the older women felt they still needed to prove themselves not just as lawyers but as women lawyers. To get accommodation for family demands, they had to make it impossible to suggest they weren't pulling their weight. And they take pride in having proved the naysayers wrong.

Many of the younger women don't buy into that struggle. If big firms don't support their needs, they're less likely to plunge into the fray and more likely to leave. They don't believe this is a battle that anybody has to fight.

I was an anomaly when I was in school, and the professors didn't like it. It wasn't that I was the only woman who had children in law school; I know at least one other woman who did. It was the fact that I refused to deny there was life outside school. So, even as I studied for exams, I planned birthday parties for my children, cooked dinner nearly every evening, did housework, helped with homework and school projects, and even took weekend getaways with my husband. The school, naturally, saw this behavior not as a healthy balance of school and home but as a symbol of how I wasn't "serious" about law school.

Perhaps they were right. But it seems like there are far more women who aren't as "serious" about the law and are unwilling to devote 24/7 to the profession. In my opinion, that's the healthy life.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Speaking of Echo Chambers

The AP had a story yesterday on a "nonprofit" (read: George Soros-backed) organization which produced a "study" (read: propaganda and smear attack) supposedly showing that the Bush administration lied hundreds of times about the Iraq war.

As Captain Ed points out, there's nothing new in this "study," and it includes some famously debunked (yes, TT, debunked) allegations such as the "16 words" brouhaha.

Let's boil this down. An organization funded by known political activists puts up a website with shopworn quotes taken mostly out of context and misrepresented -- and this somehow qualifies as news?

Must be a slow news day.

As Jules Crittenden writes,
More to the point, do these august wanktanks have nothing better to do? Somebody tell them it’s over. Saddam Hussein will never have (any more) WMD or (any more) meaningful ties with al-Qaeda.

I suspect the point isn't to bring up anything new (how could they?) but to try to tie President Bush to the Republican presidential candidates by bringing up these tired old allegations which still have a hypnotic effect on the moonbats. Just wait for Hillary and Obama to discuss it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rush Limbaugh Throws a Temper Tantrum

Poor Rush Limbaugh.

You'd think a guy with 20 million listeners--the highest-rated talk show in America--would have a little thicker skin. You'd think a guy who's been excoriated by Democrats for 20 years and lampooned by every major comedy outlet available would let a little criticism roll off his back.

You'd be wrong.

Evidently, pointing out the relentless drumbeat of anti-McCain propaganda coming out of talk radio is telling Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck and others to "shut up."

When Huckabee was coming out of nowhere in Iowa, we had numerous pundits on the left who write their conservatism to be read by liberals, jumping on the Huckabee bandwagon. And then McCain came out of nowhere in New Hampshire, and then they jumped on the McCain bandwagon. Romney wins in Michigan, and they didn't jump on the Romney bandwagon. They stayed on the McCain bandwagon. Then we go to Wyoming, and Romney won all the delegates there, and they didn't jump on the Romney bandwagon. They stayed on the McCain bandwagon and hoped for Huckabee. And then we get to South Carolina and Nevada. In Nevada, Romney cleans up, and nobody talks about it. "Romney is nowhere. He's off the charts. He should quit. Thompson should quit. He should get out of the race!" They remain on the McCain bandwagon. Now the people on the McCain bandwagon are telling those of us who aren't on the McCain bandwagon, to shut up. Just be quiet. We are supposedly damaging the Republican Party.

We are supposedly damaging the conservative movement. We should just shut up. Just sit by and watch all this stuff and let it happen and just be quiet. What is the point? By the way, it's aimed at people in talk radio. Why should we in talk radio "just shut up," and start supporting the front-runner of the moment?

I don't recall seeing anyone tell talk radio people to "just shut up." What has been discussed is the unprecedented, relentless negativity by various talk show hosts toward John McCain. What I'm talking about isn't simply that various hosts all discussed John McCain; it's that they all discussed the exact same complaints. If I were a liberal, I'd say there was a vast rightwing conspiracy going on.

Liberals frequently discuss conservative talk radio as being an "echo chamber." Most of the time, they're wrong about this. It's rare for every major talk show in the country seemingly to be talking off the same page, but the anybody-but-McCain meme looks a lot like it.

Aside from the exact words used (repeated from show to show ad nauseam), the fact that these same hosts gave passes to the flip-flopping non-conservative positions of Mitt Romney has become absolutely galling. It's one thing to point out that Romney switched his position on abortion. But Romney's switched positions on a number of issues including stem cell research, gay rights, and tax cuts. The DNC came up with a "Mitt Romney Flip-Flop Kit" detailing Romney's ever-changing positions and sold it on eBay. Shouldn't these supposedly rock-ribbed conservative talk show hosts be concerned about any of that?

Unfortunately, these guys give Romney a pass because he says what they want to of what he's said in the past. And keep in mind, Rush excoriated Mike Huckabee for his ever-changing (some would call it pandering) position on immigration (rightly so, I believe). Romney tried to run to the left of Ted Kennedy (not an easy thing to do) when he ran for the Senate. Yet we're supposed to accept without question his epiphanies concerning abortion, taxation, gay rights and other issues?

The biggest problem with Rush's rant is its disengenuousness. He knows better than the arguments he makes. Take this one:
The point is, McCain got fewer votes -- 42% in 2000; 33% of the vote Saturday night, 2008 -- and he wasn't running against his two top challengers, once you get out of these states where independents can go in and vote in the Republican primary.

He should have cleaned up. McCain should have gotten over 50% of the vote if this McCain movement is for real, but he got fewer votes and a much smaller percentage in 2008 than he did in 2000.

Rush is smarter than this. In 2000, there were only 3 presidential candidates still in the race by the time voters cast ballots in South Carolina: George Bush, John McCain, and Alan Keyes. The race was essentially a 2-man race with Keyes lagging behind. In 2008, there were five (six if you count Ron Paul) Republican candidates with still substantial support by the time of the South Carolina primary: John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani. The reason John McCain got a smaller percentage of the vote in South Carolina was because there were far more candidates to choose from. This is a ridiculous and petty argument on Rush's part; he knows the history of the 2000 campaign and of this one. Arguing that McCain's support isn't "real" because the vote was more fractured is a logical fallacy worthy of liberals.

Then there's this:
Senator McCain's domestic record is not conservative, and we're being lectured by the media -- some who are hostile to conservatism, some who wear the conservative label -- to be quiet, to not be too hard on him, or whatever. Those of us who have been here since the beginning of the program in 1988, you know we deal here in ideas. Why should I be quiet about my ideas? Why should I be quiet, or anybody else on the radio who happens to espouse what I believe? Why should we be quiet? The primary is precisely the time to speak!

John McCain has an 83 out of 100 conservative rating from the American Conservative Union. Contrary to Rush, Laura, Sean Hannity, Hugh Hewitt and others, this does not make him a liberal. In fact, it doesn't even make him a moderate.

The truth is, John McCain pissed off a lot of very conservative people--people like Rush Limbaugh who talk as though they own the imprimatur of conservatism--by agreeing with President Bush about immigration reform. He also believed in campaign finance reform, a point you can agree with or not. But some of the other arguments about John McCain are simply ridiculous.

As Michael Medved points out, John McCain has never voted for a tax increase. That fact puts him ahead of virtually every other Republican candidate out there including Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, Mitt Romney. Believing that spending cuts should accompany tax cuts makes McCain more conservative than the band wagon hangers-on who scream about McCain's lack of support for the Bush tax cuts.

But this, of course, is beside the point. The point is that no one has told anyone to "shut up" and claiming this is overly sensitive. I dunno, Rush. Maybe you could spend more time examining the failings of other candidates and less time bashing John McCain. If he's the Republican nominee, you might have to get used to a new brand of conservatism. You know, the kind supported by so many Reagan administration officials.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Don't Tell This Guy Video Games Are a Waste of Time

Earlier this week, Michael Medved spent an hour discussing video game addiction. I nearly wrote a post then on the subject, having been a video game (and MMORPG) addict for several years.

Virtually every caller to Medved's show had some horror story of gaming addiction. Some were highly intelligent adults who were approaching mid-life without every having had one. Some were teenagers who had abandoned all typical teenage activities to hang out with virtual friends and win imaginary loot.

The gist of the show, intentionally or not, was that gaming was not merely a horrible waste of time but a corrupting influence equivalent to cocaine addiction. I thought the talk was overblown (dare I show The Scream image again?), but I know that gaming can interfere with or destroy real life relationships.

Now comes a positive argument for gaming. It seems a man used first aid training he learned playing America's Army to rescue two victims in a car crash.

Last November, twenty-eight-year-old (Paxton Galvanek) helped rescue two victims from an overturned SUV on the shoulder of a North Carolina interstate. As the first one on the scene, Galvanek safely removed both individuals from the smoking vehicle and properly assessed and treated their wounds, which included bruises, scrapes, head trauma and the loss of two fingers.

His medical background? None - other than what he's learned playing as a medic in the computer game America's Army.

The first-person shooter is developed and distributed by the U.S. Army. Though part of its mission is to promote its military namesake, America's Army is a fully-featured game that takes players through a virtual representation of real-life soldiering, from basic training to the field of battle. To play as a medic class, players must sit through extensive medical training tutorials based on real-life classes.

Lucky for the two survivors that Paxton Galvanek didn't zone out during the training, as the gamer credits this experience with teaching him how to handle himself in an emergency situation.

"In the case of this accident, I evaluated the situation and placed priority on the driver of the car who had missing fingers," he said. "I then recalled that in section two of the medic training, I learned about controlled bleeding. I noticed that the wounded man had severe bleeding that he could not control. I used a towel as a dressing and asked the man to hold the towel on his wound and to raise his hand above his head to lessen the blood flow which allowed me to evaluate his other injuries which included a cut on his head."

By the time help arrived in the form of -- ironically enough -- an Army soldier, the individuals were in stable condition and awaiting the paramedics.

Galvanek's decisions were lauded by game project director Colonel Casey Wardynski. "Because of the training he received in America's Army's virtual classroom, Mr. Galvanek had mastered the basics of first aid and had the confidence to take appropriate action when others might do nothing. He took the initiative to assess the situation, prioritize actions and apply the correct procedures... Paxton is a true hero."

I've never played America's Army, but I've been told that the medic training mimicks real life first aid training. Curious that something played for fun could have actual benefits.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whose Side Are They On?

Debra Saunders has a great column today on discussing the anybody-but-McCain phenomenon on talk radio. Saunders points out that the vitriol over McCain's votes for things like campaign finance and immigration reform is unreasonable and more likely to land us a Democrat in the White House than it is to nominate a suitable candidate.

I've been saying this for a few days, as well. The constant drumbeat from Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt, Sean Hannity and others isn't just that they prefer other candidates (scratch that: they all want Romney, no questions asked). It's as though they have become exactly what the left constantly accuses conservative talk radio of being: a single meme repeated endlessly.

Hugh Hewitt crowed Tuesday night about the effect of "12 hours a day of anti-McCain rhetoric" on the Michigan election. I have no problem with free speech, but at some point, when all the callers are echoing the same wording, it becomes a bit disturbing.

The exceptions I've found to the anti-McCain bandwagon have been Bill O'Reilly and Michael Medved. Both gentlemen allow for differing opinions on the candidates and don't spend their entire shows bashing John McCain. And they don't spend it extolling the virtues of one candidate to the exclusion of others.

Perhaps this is what is bothering me about the talk show mafia mentality I've seen developing since Mike Huckabee started garnering attention back in October: by constantly running down our candidates, it is far more likely to cause people--Republicans, independents, and Democrats alike--to not want to vote for the eventual Republican winner. To be honest, watching various talk show hosts (Hugh Hewitt is the absolute worst) gloss over Mitt Romney's flaws while using a microscope on John McCain makes me question if I want to vote for any candidate endorsed by this bunch.

Rush Limbaugh read the Debra Saunders column today on his program, then proceeded to rip it apart, claiming that "we don't want to compromise with Democrats; we want to defeat them." Well, I'm sorry, Rush, but there are enough Americans tired of slash-and-burn politics to create a landslide for Democrats in this election cycle if conservatives callously ignore their issues and concerns. Screaming that there is no global warming or that building a fence is the only answer to our immigration problem isn't going to win the votes of those citizens. Saunders is right: if ideological purity it more important than winning elections and making needed changes, then our punditocracy is headed in the right direction.

The Defeat of Authenticity

Of all the reasons to dislike Mitt Romney--and they are starting to stack up--I wouldn't put a lack of authenticity among them. But after reading this story, I'm beginning to think that my "Mitt Romney is a big, fat liar" thought bubble could be more politely phrases as "Mitt Romney lacks authenticity."

The former Massachusetts governor pandered to voters, distorted his opponents' record and continued to show why he's the most malleable — and least credible — major presidential candidate.

And it worked.

The man who spoke hard truths to Michigan lost. Of all the reasons John McCain deserved a better result Tuesday night, his gamble on the economy stands out. The Arizona senator had the temerity to tell voters that a candidate who says traditional auto manufacturing jobs "are coming back is either naive or is not talking straight with the people of Michigan and America."

Instead of pandering, McCain said political leaders must "embrace green technologies," adding: "That's the future. That's what we want."

Romney jumped all over McCain, playing to the fears of voters in a state with the nation's highest unemployment rate. "I've heard people say that the auto jobs are gone and they're never coming back," Romney told his audiences. "Well, baloney, I'm going to fight for every single good job."

Well, geez, who wouldn't fight for "every single good job?" Every candidate, Democrat and Republican can make that pledge. The difference is whether you think the dinosaur auto industry deserves a massive bailout so they can keep producing cars the same way they have for decades. Mitt Romney agrees with that, which sounds far more like a Democrat plan than the "let the free market reign" Republicans.

And Mitt Romney didn't just pander to recession-hit Michiganders with a billion-dollar bailout, he actually talked about softening the CAFE standards proposed in the recent energy bill.

Now, I've argued on other (read: liberal) sites that regardless of whether we reduce our dependence on foreign oil or not, we will "find a way" to make things work. Liberal know-nothings scoffed at that ("have we ever run out of oil before?"), but the great thing about capitalism is that just because we haven't done something before doesn't mean someone won't figure out how to do it now. And make a profit on it.

Now, about those CAFE standards. Unlike Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and most other conservative radio hosts, I don't mind raising fuel efficiency standards since it hasn't been done since I was in about fifth grade. I dunno about other people, but I sort of think it's possible that the auto industry can improve mileage on its cars over the next 12 years, especially if they actually have to. And I don't think they have to do it by creating "deathmobiles," as Glenn Beck called fuel-efficient cars. But that's all beside the point.

Hey, speaking of flip-floppers (you know, the anti-McCain guys have spent a lot of time over the last week talking about John McCain's "flip-flops"), did you know Mitt Romney was for increasing CAFE standards? That is, before he was against it.
Less than three years ago, Romney seemed to champion higher automobile standards. "Almost everything in America has gotten more efficient in the last decade, except the fuel economy of the vehicles we drive," he said in September 2005.

As is often the case with Romney, he has changed his tone, if not his mind.

This is a man who campaigned for governor of Democratic stronghold Massachusetts as a supporter of abortion rights, gay rights and gun control — only to switch sides on those and other issues in time for the GOP presidential race. The first thing he did as a presidential contender in January was sign the same no-tax pledge an aide dismissed as "government by gimmickry" during the 2002 campaign.

He was a political independent who voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Massachusetts presidential primary; now he is a Reagan conservative. He was for embryonic stem cell research; now he favors restrictions on it.

I'm still waiting to hear Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Hugh Hewitt ask Mitt Romney about those, but I'm not holding my breath. They love Plastic Man not because he believes in the "Reagan conservatism" they gush over but because he tells them what they want to hear.

And that makes them different from the Democrats how?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Smearing Soldiers

Yesterday, I read this Iowa Liberal post and asked the question, "How many thousands of veterans are there?" The typical firestorm of name-calling and invectives followed, including Jeromy Brown sneering, "Don’t you wish Sharon would just make her point?"

In fact, Jeromy did get the point without me having to say anything more than ask the one question (I love when liberals go mad because you ask them a common sense question). The post essentially mocked any conservative questioning the methodology involved in a story suggesting our soldiers, like in the movies, come back from war to rape, pillage, and kill here at home. Alas, as my question implied, the truth isn't nearly as grim as liberals would have us believe.

Fortunately, I didn't need to go do the legwork to debunk the New York Times article myself. Col. Ralph Peters did it for me.

The Times did get one basic fact right: Returning vets committed or are charged with 121 murders in the United States since our current wars began.

Had the Times' "journalists" and editors bothered to put those figures in context - which they carefully avoided doing - they would've found that the murder rate that leaves them so aghast means that our vets are five times less likely to commit a murder than their demographic peers...

A very conservative estimate of how many different service members have passed through Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait since 2003 is 350,000 (and no, that's not double-counting those with repeated tours of duty).

Now consider the Justice Department's numbers for murders committed by all Americans aged 18 to 34 - the key group for our men and women in uniform. To match the homicide rate of their peers, our troops would've had to come home and commit about 150 murders a year, for a total of 700 to 750 murders between 2003 and the end of 2007.

In other words, the Times unwittingly makes the case that military service reduces the likelihood of a young man or woman committing a murder by 80 percent.

Now, of course, the snarky post at Iowa Liberal wasn't really about the 121 murders committed by veterans. Rather, it was pitying our servicemen and women for having to go fight in nasty wars. As one commenter said,
Sharon, if just ONE veteran has these issues, isn’t that enough, considering what we’ve asked them to sacrifice? Or is it simply collateral damage, acceptable because of the big picture?

The truth is, these types of commenters (including one who claims to be a health care professional and evidently sees some horrifically large percentage of veterans and their families living with hellish levels of violence) don't display any actual respect for active duty military personnel. Rather than supporting the mission that these volunteer military personnel signed up for, they want to "bring the troops home," which isn't really because the troops want this but because they are liberals who oppose the war. In other words, this is just one more political argument to be debated.

Like the original New York Times article, the post (and its comments) has little substance and certainly none of the "compassion" liberals claim to embrace.

The Ugly Primaries

I usually love the presidential primaries where there is a variety of candidates for the average voter to choose from, but this time I don't. Why is that? Because this season has turned into the ugly primaries for me.

Because the GOP has no standard-bearer this time, the field is wide open. That's usually a good thing, but, instead, what I'm observing is a nastiness in the punditocracy that is just turning me off.

First, there was the obviously preference of various talk show hosts for Mitt Romney, a candidate who never excited me, but whom I was willing to listen to. Listening to Hugh Hewitt for the last year has been one, long ad for Romney, but even that was acceptable. After all, the pundits have the right to choose their candidates, too, don't they?

I started getting an uneasy feeling about our slate of candidates first when there was Fred fever last summer. Here again, there's nothing wrong with being excited about Fred Thompson, although I think it helps if you were a Law & Order fan in the first place.

I think what bothered me was this sense of desperation, the smell of fear, I have detected among those ready, not merely to support their own candidate, but to eviscerate any other candidate who might win instead.

This problem became apparent to me when polls showed Iowans were leaning toward Mike Huckabee and the chattering classes were livid about it. How dare they! From Laura Ingraham, to Rush Limbaugh, the talk radio hosts spent hours drumming it into their listeners' heads that Huckabee was not a conservative.

It's not simply that they disliked Huckabee's policies. It was the endless drumbeat of talking points: Huckabee raised taxes. He pardoned lots of prisoners. Worst, he was for amnesty.

But the Iowa voters, an independent lot, voted for Huckabee anyway because they liked his populist stance and the fact that he wasn't afraid of his Christianity. Huckabee struck many voters as a big change (the operative word in this election) from the establishment candidates of Romney and Rudy Giuliani. In short, they were doing what primary voters do: voting for the guy they like rather than just a suit they think can win.

After Iowa, it was time to turn the slime on John McCain. Why? Because he was the front runner in New Hampshire, the first actual primary. And lots of talking heads dislike John McCain, not just because of campaign finance reform but because he compromised with Democrats (the horror!) in order to preserve the Senate filibuster. He didn't support tax cuts without cuts in spending. Worst of all, he was for comprehensive immigration reform. That is, he supported the idea of border security plus changes in visas to encourage illegal immigrants to get back in line.

The "anybody but McCain" campaign has reached fever pitch since New Hampshire. The pundits are absolutely apoplectic (particularly Hugh, who is absolutely shameless these days) that Republicans would actually vote for McCain and not Romney, their chosen king.

Here's why, in a nutshell, I support John McCain: judges and the war in Iraq. All other issues, even things I am concerned about like immigration, are negotiable. Why? Because those two issues are paramount to the advancement of Republican ideas and causes. Without more conservative judges, we cannot undo much of the court-imposed stupidity of the last 40 years. And without a strong supporter of our war efforts, our victory in Iraq is less certain.

Romney may be a good candidate. But his obfuscations on his own record, coupled with misleading, lying attack ads on his rivals has turned me off. And after listening to Hugh Hewitt excuse the sort of behavior he attacks others for, I'm not certain at this point that I could support Romney even in the general election. Nitpicking at McCain's speeches and arguing that he's not a conservative (even though he has the endorsement of many former Reagan officials) makes me less likely than ever to vote for Romney. Such attacks are dishonest and disgusting.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Five Energy Myths

Robert Bryce discusses five energy myths in an article from the Washington Post, and his points are dead-on (read this RedState post for two other points about energy independence).

The main point is that globalization is so widespread that energy independence is impossible because even if we don't buy fuel directly from certian countries, we buy goods from countries which buy fuel from countries we dislike. I think this is a decent argument as far as it goes, but it still seems like a good idea to me to seek as much energy independence as possible.

In Glenn Beck's An Inconvenient Book, he has a section discussing energy independence and its importance for America. The book is sort of a mishmash of conservative and liberals ideas (he's a skeptic of global warming but supports certain environmentalist goals) and can seem disjointed at times during the reading, but I thought his section on the importance of energy independence to be one of the best (the best concerned laser and bonnet movies, a section which was absolutely laugh-out-loud funny). Specifically, if we want security, we need to find ways to become less dependent on foreign oil. Otherwise, we will fight more wars for oil (it's inevitable) and our economy and lifestyle could disintegrate (Beck argues that we could be headed for another Great Depression).

In the RedState post, Pejman Yousefzadeh argues for more nuclear power plants to help deal with our energy consumption, and I tend to agree with him. After all, if France believes in nuclear energy, it seems quite ludicrous that America's paranoia about Love Canal should trump logic.

We need more energy to keep our economy going. If, as many liberals say, we are running out of oil, then we need to find replacements. Now.

Your Constitutional Law Lesson for the Day

"The constitution of the United States is to receive a reasonable interpretation of its language, and its powers, keeping in view the objects and purposes, for which those powers were conferred. By a reasonable interpretation, we mean, that in case the words are susceptible of two different senses, the one strict, the other more enlarged, that should be adopted, which is most consonant with the apparent objects and intent of the Constitution."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

If only it were so.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Politics Trumps Women's Advancement...Unsurprisingly

You have to wonder about the state of modern feminism when running an ad showing the female leaders of a modern country is just too hot to handle for Ms. Magazine.

Ms. Magazine has long been in the forefront of the fight for equal rights and equal opportunities for women. Apparently that is not the case if the women happen to be Israeli.

The magazine has turned down an AJCongress advertisement that did nothing more controversial than call attention to the fact that women currently occupy three of the most significant positions of power in Israeli public life. The proposed ad (The Ad Ms. Didn't Want You To See: ) included a text that merely said, "This is Israel," under photographs of President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinish, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.

"What other conclusion can we reach," asked Richard Gordon, President of AJCongress, "except that the publishers − and if the publishers are right, a significant number of Ms. Magazine readers − are so hostile to Israel that they do not even want to see an ad that says something positive about Israel?"

When Director of AJCongress' Commission for Women's Empowerment Harriet Kurlander tried to place the ad, she was told that publishing the ad "will set off a firestorm" and that "there are very strong opinions" on the subject − the subject presumably being whether or not one can say anything positive about Israel. Ms. Magazine publisher Eleanor Smeal failed to respond to a signed-for certified letter with a copy of the ad as well as numerous calls by Mr. Gordon over a period of weeks.

A Ms. Magazine representative, Susie Gilligan, whom the Ms. Magazine masthead lists under the publisher's office, told Ms. Kurlander that the magazine "would love to have an ad from you on women's empowerment, or reproductive freedom, but not on this." Ms. Gilligan failed to elaborate what "this" is.

It's funny watching feminists' pet projects collide. After all, Ms. Magazine had no problem running a picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the gushing headline "This is what a Speaker looks like." And the same feminists complain endlessly about the lack of female leaders in this country. Why not celebrate female accomplishments in other countries?

Oh, wait. Ms. has celebrated female accomplishments...just not Jewish women's accomplishments.

I'll be waiting for the feminist blogs to castigate Ms. Magazine for this one. But I won't hold my breath.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Democrats Rig Elections? Say It Ain't So!

Since the 2000 elections, I've watched liberals clutch their pearls about the possibility of voter fraud every time a vote is cast.

To be sure, voter fraud is quite possible, but when liberals worry about voter fraud, they aren't worried about the effects of Motor Voter. They are concerned that Republicans are deliberately undercounting Democrat votes or, worse yet, switching Democrat votes to Republicans.

Because of the closeness of the Florida votes in 2000, every kook on the left is sure Republicans are stealing their votes, even though, historically, Democrats are the ones who have stolen elections (hello, LBJ!).

But now, the tin foil hat crowd thinks the vote-stealing has gone high tech. In 2004, they accused Diebold of rigging election machines. They've accused police of scaring voters. They've accused cities of intentionally providing an insufficient number of voting booths in Democrat areas. But all those accusations were aimed primarily at Republicans because everybody knows only Republicans steal elections *cough* LBJ *cough*.

Now, Democrats are accusing Democrats of stealing elections.

The results weren't even in when the blogosphere started to hum with a theory that sharply divided Democrats online: Barack Obama lost to Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Hampshire because the vote was rigged.

"Something stinks in New Hampshire," a commenter posted on the popular liberal site

Amusingly, Daily KOS founder Markos Moulitsas has called those making these accusation "cranks." Funny, when those same "cranks" are saying President Bush was "selected, not elected," he doesn't mind one bit.

Frankly, I enjoy watching Democrat paranoia create widespread panic even before they select a nominee. It will possibly destroy any remaining credibility they might have.

"It is such a bad idea that if the United States Supreme Court did not require me to allow defendants to represent themselves, I would not do it,"

So says U.S. District Court Judge Dale S. Fischer about allowing a private investigator act as his own lawyer.

A federal judge on Wednesday reluctantly allowed Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano to take over as his own lawyer in his trial on charges of illegally wiretapping celebrities...

It was the second time Pellicano has opted to become his own lawyer. He did the same thing a year ago but then rescinded his decision and used the services of attorneys Steven Gruel and Michael Artan, who handled pretrial motions.

Pellicano, handcuffed and wearing a green prison jacket, told the judge that he knew that his attorneys worked hard but that he no longer needed their help.

Pellicano's lawyers said outside court that his motivation was to save them from having to represent him for free in a long trial after the judge refused to appoint them at court expense.

Pellicano, once a highly paid investigator who was considered the secret weapon of big-time Hollywood lawyers to get dirt on famous litigants, has been in prison for nearly five years. He served a 2 1/2-year term for a weapons possession conviction, then was indicted along with five co-defendants on charges of illegally tapping phones and bribing police for information on celebrities including Sylvester Stallone and Garry Shandling.

There's the old saw about a man who acts as his own attorney has a fool for a client, but, as the judge points out, the Constitution requires that defendants be allowed to do this. Judges work diligently to prevent defendants from doing so, knowing that cases can be overturned on appeal on technicalities. This is, however, the first time I've seen a judge actually discuss this Constitutional provision this way.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Liberal Fear Gone Wild: Another The Scream Moment

Ok, it's time to drag out The Scream again, so here it is.

It's sad watching liberal hysteria, but there's really no other way of describing things like this post by Echidne, stating that meaningless, feel-good declarations like this are leading us straight to Hell, a.k.a. an "American theocracy." How does she jump off the cliff to this conclusion? Well, there's this:

All those "whereases" in the declaration are worth reading, to see what it really says. It's not about "religion at all" but about Christianity, and the urgent need to have the government run on Christian principles.

ZOMG! The horror! Funny, the declaration doesn't say anything like this at all. But I guess when you break out in a rash at the mention of Christians (Echidne discusses "Evangelists" in a different post), then even meaningless, feel-good declarations are worthy of hyperventilation.

Echidne takes particular offense to clause 2, which says:
(2) recognizes that the religious foundations of faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation's most valuable institutions and form the inseparable foundation for America's representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures (emphasis hers)

Yeah, we wouldn't want people thinking our presidents ever considered religion to be important. Wow, if they'd ever, oh, made religious proclamations, someone might think they were putting us on the road to theocracy...or theocrazy, as that clever Echidne said.

The Likability Standard

Like many pundits and bloggers, I've spent a lot of time scrutinizing the treatment Hillary Clinton has gotten in the media versus other candidates. Specifically, I've been thinking about the Likability Factor.

Hillary Clinton's fall from grace in Iowa and resurrection in New Hampshire have spotlighted this problem for me. Clinton's advisers have tried, in recent weeks, to remake the candidate into a more "likable" Hillary, including getting her to laugh more and cry more. But do these things make candidates more likable and are women held to a different standard of likability than men are?

The Likability Factor is extremely important in presidential politics regardless of sex, and I don't think Hillary's drop in the polls is simply sexism at work. Americans in the television era demand a president they feel they can sit down and have a beer with, no matter how much that analogy angers liberals.

And let's be honest: Barak Obama is the most pleasant and charming Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton. Would you really want to have a beer (or a cup of coffee) and a chat with Jimmy Carter? I wouldn't. Carter would probably spend the time lecturing me on American hegemony and the plight of the Palestinians.

What about failed Democrat candidates Michael Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry? I wouldn't want to spend five minutes with any of those guys. They would bore me to death and their pomposity would require that I speak my mind, always a dangerous prospect. And no sane woman would want to spend time with Bill Clinton. Unless, of course, keeping abortion available for all nine months of pregnancy is more important to you than sexual assault.

So, unlike
Gloria Steinem,
who sees sexism as more invidious than racism, I think the problem with Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with her sex and everything to do with the image she has projected over the last 15 years. Who forgets her snide Tammy Wynette reference? Or sneering about baking cookies? Her impatience that the U.S. wasn't ready for Hillarycare? Or the lying--yes, lying--about her involvement in various Clinton scandals?

Any public figure who spent so much time ridiculing the lives of ordinary Americans deserves the scorn and disdain they receive in return. Americans don't buy the whining about Hillary's unpopularity being about her sex. This is a person we've known for decades. The Likability Factor has more to do with her behavior than with her pantsuits.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Is California Going To Control Its Citizens' Thermostats?

Patterico has a post on California regulations that may allow the state government to regulate citizens' thermostats. Here is the original article to which Patterico refers.

Pat isn't sure the regulations can actually do this, but Merovign points out in the comments what the regulations actually say.

1) New construction, 2) Yes, the building control freaks intend exactly that. They talk about statewide communications networks for “space conditioning equipment,” with the ability for the state to override the “owner’s” control.
Sec 112-2-B:
Emergency Events. Upon receiving an emergency signal, the PCT shall respond to commands contained in the emergency signal, including changing the setpoint by any number of degrees or to a specific temperature setpoint. The PCT shall not allow customer changes to thermostat settings during emergency events.

It’s like a communist’s wet dream, and everyone else’s nightmare.

All I can say is that this couldn't happen in Texas...could it?

The 20 Most Annoying Liberals of 2007

RightWing News has released its annual list of the 20 most annoying liberals of 2007. The list contains most of the predictable people and is quite an entertaining read, particularly the quotes that springboarded them to the list.

Most interesting to me were the people who didn't make the list.

Honorable Mentions: ACLU, Barbra Streisand, Bill Clinton, Bill Moyers, Bill Richardson, Brian DePalma, CAIR, Chuck Schumer, Code Pink, Columbia University, David Gregory, Dennis Kucinich, Ellen DeGeneres, George Soros, Glenn Greenwald, Helen Thomas, Howard Dean, Jack Cafferty, James Cameron, Jesse Jackson, Joe Biden, John Cougar Mellencamp, John Kerry, John Murtha, John Soltz, John Kerry, Juan Cole, Kathy Griffin, MoveOn, New York Times, Pete Stark, Randi Rhodes, Ray Nagin, Roseanne Barr, Scott Thomas Beauchamp/New Republic, Sean Penn, Ted Kennedy, William Arkin

After reading that list, you have to wonder who can be more annoying than those people? Check out the post for the answer.

Glenn Beck on Health Care

Glenn Beck went off on the health care system on today's show, discussing the nightmare that was his experience after surgery post-Christmas.

Anyone who has had a recent trip to a hospital or E.R. knows the hell that can accompany that experience. I could sympathize with some of Beck's experience: the lack of empathy and care from staff, the feeling of helplessness as one rails against the system, the inability to make these bastards do their freakin jobs!

I had that experience with my father a few weeks ago. I had to take him into the emergency room because he was too sick to stand. We spent seven hours in an E.R. closet waiting to be admitted. I rarely saw either a doctor or a nurse or staff of any sort during that time, and no one seemed capable of telling me what was happening with my father or what they were going to do. He was finally admitted after 10 p.m.

Dad was in I.C.U. for several days, and the staff there was great. They were very attentive, answered my questions and told me generally anything I might want to know about both Dad's illness and treatment.

When Dad was taken down to a regular medical/surgical floor, the care was markedly different. I went to see my father nearly every evening from about 6 p.m. until 8 or 9 p.m. and wouldn't see a single soul enter his room. No one took vital signs, administered medicines, changed him, or even checked on him. In fact, the only time someone came in the room was when I went out to the nurse's station and told them that they needed to come take care of my father. It was, in a word, outrageous.

My father nearly died. He developed aspiration pneumonia and no one was going to do anything about it. The doctor never called me to discuss care options (I foolishly assumed he would do so). The staff could do nothing for Dad without a doctor's order.

What changed our nightmare? My sister, the nurse, came to town. She sat in my dad's room 24/7 and essentially demanded that the hospital staff do its job. She hounded the doctor. She provided nursing care for our father in a way I was incapable of doing. In short, she forced the hospital to--gasp!--care for our father. My father is now in a rehabilitation hospital where he is getting stronger on a daily basis. But back on Christmas Day, I wasn't sure my father would see the new year.

Most people don't have a nurse in their family who can ensure that hospital staff does its job. Most people, like me, think that doctors, nurses, and other professionals know what they are doing and that we, the family, only need to step back and allow them to do their jobs. We don't always know the questions to ask or the treatments to demand. We cannot take time off from work in order to be available at whatever time a doctor decides to show up, and we can't comprehend why four nurses can sit 20 feet from a patient's room and not look in for three hours.

I know we have a great health care system...sometimes. The hospital my dad is in right now, for instance, has terrific staff. They are involved and optimistic. They interact with the patients constantly. There's always someone coming in to do something. I've seen the doctor more times in the last week than I saw in the other hospital in three weeks. And I'm still coming in in the evenings, which means the doctor is rounding at the time most family members can come.

It's hard not to get angry when the health care system lets you down. I come from a long line of nurses. My mother, sister, several cousins, and a grandmother were all nurses. I've spent most of my life listening to what nurses can and can't do, the indignities, the triumphs, and the pains they deal with daily. I have enormous respect for the profession. But, like Glenn Beck, I have to wonder about how some people end up in the health care profession when they don't seem to like, or care about, people very much.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

UK Living Standard Outstrips U.S.?

I read this story that, for the first time since the 19th Century, the U.K.'s living standard outstrips the U.S.'s, with one cocked eyebrow.

I've been to Great Britain several times to visit relatives (most recently in 1991), and I would question what is meant exactly by "living standard." My relatives lived in cramped houses with tiny appliances (including refrigerators, TVs, and washer/dryers), drove tiny cars, and paid huge prices for gasoline and heating oil. It wasn't living in poverty, but I think Americans still have a higher standard of living. And I will admit that 16 years is a long time since my last visit (I hope to remedy that soon).

So, what is buoying the British accendency? A weak dollar mainly. The study quoted says that the U.K.'s slim lead over the U.S. evaporates if the dollar strengthens. Counted in the living standard are "longer holidays" and "free" healthcare (the kind we've discussed before).

Americans do work more hours than other countries. That's just a fact. But I'll take my American lifestyle, with its large house, electronics, and nice car, over the "free" healthcare in Britain.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Republican Reformation?

David Brooks has an interesting analysis of last night's Iowa caucuses, arguing that the wins of Barak Obama and Mike Huckabee can shake up the old order of things and breathe fresh life into our political process.

On the Republican side, the Iowa caucuses tend not to matter too much. If anything, Iowa tends to illuminate the populist portion of the GOP but not the eventual candidate. Brooks doesn't predict Huckabee's ascention to standard-bearer for the Republican party, but says he spotlights those Reagan Democrats, the forgotten Republicans.

Huckabee won because he tapped into realities that other Republicans have been slow to recognize. First, evangelicals have changed. Huckabee is the first ironic evangelical on the national stage. He’s funny, campy (see his Chuck Norris fixation) and he’s not at war with modern culture.

Second, Huckabee understands much better than Mitt Romney that we have a crisis of authority in this country. People have lost faith in their leaders’ ability to respond to problems. While Romney embodies the leadership class, Huckabee went after it. He criticized Wall Street and K Street. Most importantly, he sensed that conservatives do not believe their own movement is well led. He took on Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth and even President Bush. The old guard threw everything they had at him, and their diminished power is now exposed.

Third, Huckabee understands how middle-class anxiety is really lived. Democrats talk about wages. But real middle-class families have more to fear economically from divorce than from a free trade pact. A person’s lifetime prospects will be threatened more by single parenting than by outsourcing. Huckabee understands that economic well-being is fused with social and moral well-being, and he talks about the inter-relationship in a way no other candidate has.

The best Huckabee quote on Jay Leno's show was that he represented the guy that gets laid off as opposed to the man doing the laying off. That's really where many Americans are these days. Polls show that most Americans think they are doing well but, conversely, that the country is somehow doing worse. The disconnect is palpable, but Republicans need to keep it in mind when discussing capital gains taxes and tax cuts.

Ultimately, Republicans will unite behind one candidate regardless of his flaws. Dick Morris thinks that candidate will be Rudy Giuliani. Hugh Hewitt is hawking Mitt Romney. But regardless of the eventual candidate, Huckabee has brought up those forgotten voters who agree with Republicans on social issues like marriage, divorce, and family but are turned off by the country club Republicans who talk about compassionate conservatism but show little of it.

Hugh Hewitt just went into freefall over the caucus results Thursday night and spent the rest of Friday trying to pump up the Romney campaign, even though there's a giant hole in the tire. Geez, Hugh, I like ya and all, but you're getting a little embarrassing. Especially when you disingenuously cut Charlie Bass's endorsement of McCain to include only "climate change" and "campaign finance reform." Then trying to say the dip in the stock market is because Barak Obama is going to be the next president...puh-lease. You look pathetic.

Friday, January 04, 2008

More of that Terrific Universal Healthcare has an article on Britain's DIY NHS system, the one so admired by American fans (like Michael Moore) of single payer healthcare systems. The article links to this Telegraph article on the NHS "constitution" proposed by Gordon Brown.

What this seems to amount to in practice are the Government's rights to refuse treatment, and the patient's responsibilities to live up to what the state decides are model standards.

There is apparently to be a clear warning that those who adhere to unhealthy habits such as smoking or failing to take regular exercise may be refused NHS care.

This threat is morally outrageous and legally dubious: if lung cancer victims are really to be left to die without medical care because they are smokers, or heart disease sufferers turned away because they have not succeeded in losing weight, this will make a mockery of the principle of universal healthcare free at the point of need.

Such a policy would also fly in the face of the normal expectation of human rights. If a private insurance company to which people had been paying premiums over a lifetime were to declare retrospectively that it would not cover treatment for smokers or the overweight, its customers could rightly sue for breach of contract.

The article goes on to point out that the best form of self-help--insurance--ironically, is still denied to British citizens.

I've spent the last year chronicling the horrors of the British health system where long waits and mismanaged care are normal. I've also complained about our winner-take-all system where, if you're lucky enough to work for a company with good insurance, you can have practically any procedure done without concern. But if you have very limited insurance or no insurance, your choices are far more limited and far scarier. I'm for more regulation of the industry--mainly that insurance companies cannot bar all coverage to someone who has had some particular disease--but single payer healthcare is a nightmare for anyone who has had to live with it.

Michael Moore Trashes Hillary Clinton and Endorses John Edwards...Which Makes Hillary Look More Palatable and Edwards Pathetic

Somewhere, on another planet, an endorsement from Michael Moore would make a difference in a presidential campaign. Fortunately, we don't live on that planet, but watching Moore whine about Hillary Clinton and extoll the virtues of John Edwards makes Hillary look so much more electable, even after her third place finish in Iowa.

And yet, I am sad to say, nothing has disappointed me more than the disastrous, premeditated vote by Senator Hillary Clinton to send us to war in Iraq. I'm not only talking about her first vote that gave Mr. Bush his "authorization" to invade -- I'm talking about every single OTHER vote she then cast for the next four years, backing and funding Bush's illegal war, and doing so with verve. She never met a request from the White House for war authorization that she didn't like. Unlike the Kerrys and the Bidens who initially voted for authorization but later came to realize the folly of their decision, Mrs. Clinton continued to cast numerous votes for the war until last March -- four long years of pro-war votes, even after 70% of the American public had turned against the war. She has steadfastly refused to say that she was wrong about any of this, and she will not apologize for her culpability in America's worst-ever foreign policy disaster. All she can bring herself to say is that she was "misled" by "faulty intelligence."

Actually, supporting the war effort makes Hillary look more responsible, and that's exactly why she did it. Not that she actually supports the mission. But she knows that we can't leave an unstable Iraq and that the mission is worth the effort.
I have not even touched on her other numerous -- and horrendous -- votes in the Senate, especially those that have made the middle class suffer even more (she voted for Bush's first bankruptcy bill, and she is now the leading recipient of payoff money -- I mean campaign contributions -- from the health care industry). I know a lot of you want to see her elected, and there is a very good chance that will happen.

"A good chance?" With half the voting population saying they would never vote for her? Unless there's a 3d party candidate--and there most likely will be one--Hillary is very unlikely to be president. Why? Because her negatives are too high.

If Moore's temper tantrum about Hillary is bad, his praise for John Edwards (or, as Michael Medved calls him, "Con" Edwards) is worse.
It's hard to get past the hair, isn't it? But once you do -- and recently I have chosen to try -- you find a man who is out to take on the wealthy and powerful who have made life so miserable for so many. A candidate who says things like this: "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy." Whoa. We haven't heard anyone talk like that in a while, at least not anyone who is near the top of the polls. I suspect this is why Edwards is doing so well in Iowa, even though he has nowhere near the stash of cash the other two have. He won't take the big checks from the corporate PACs, and he is alone among the top three candidates in agreeing to limit his spending and be publicly funded. He has said, point-blank, that he's going after the drug companies and the oil companies and anyone else who is messing with the American worker. The media clearly find him to be a threat, probably because he will go after their monopolistic power, too. This is Roosevelt/Truman kind of talk.

Maybe Moore hasn't spent enough time around trial lawyers to know that they are skilled actors able to play Everyman at a moment's notice. But Edwards isn't Everyman.He's a shyster and a con artist who would wreck our economy and put us farther down the socialistic path that even Europe is beginning to turn from. If the Europeans are recognizing the folly of nationalizing everything, why should we descend into Hell after this snake oil salesman?

If you want to see why Hillary Clinton looks positively centrist, read the rest of Moore's screed. The fact that, like so many moonbats, his first choice for president is Dennis Kucinich says it all.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

As Campaign Season Begins, Only One Candidate Is Viewed Favorably by the Majority of Voters

And that candidate is John McCain.

I hadn't endorsed any candidate, even though Dana had asked all his contributors if they wished to do so. I just haven't been enthusiastic about any of the potential Republican candidates (and I vowed back in 2000 I would never again vote for a Democrat, so that is out of the question).

I liked Mike Huckabee for a while, but, as Rush Limbaugh says, he's no conservative. I drew that conclusion a couple of months ago, largely based on his views on immigration and taxation. But for me, it's more than that. While I liked Huckabee's populist persona, his inexperience in foreigh affairs has become painfully obvious through the past few weeks. This isn't to say that lack of experience in foreign affairs disqualifies anyone--I voted for George Bush in 2000 regardless of his inexperience. But in the dangerous world we live in, we need someone who has the tenacity to deal with both Iran and Pakistan.

Before Huckabee, I sort of liked Rudy Giuliani, largely because I saw him as a candidate who could beat Hillary Clinton. I liked the fact that, as mayor of New York, he had some executive experience and seemed to appreciate the importance of defense in a post-9/11 world. But his pro-choice stance and other more liberal social values disturb me. This is not to say I wouldn't be comfortable voting for Giuliani in the general election (I would), but I always felt that primaries were the time to vote for the person you really wanted, even if they didn't have the best chance.

I've never understood the Mitt Romney phenomenon, no matter how hard Hugh Hewitt pushes him. Are they paying Hugh now? The main reason I dislike Romney is that his nasty ads say much about how I think he would govern. The attacks on Huckabee and others is unbecoming and deceitful. Perhaps that's what politics is about, but I'm skeptical. And he reminds me too much of a Phil Hartman character.

Fred Thompson? I never watched Law & Order, so that hasn't impressed me. And, to be honest, Fred's never seemed to really want to be president; not badly enough to work at it, anyway. He may have all the right values, but he's less than inspiring as a speaker and a campaigner than I'd like.

Ron Paul? I'm from Texas and have watched Ron Paul run as a leftwing wacko for my entire adult life. He's no Republican, regardless of what he's calling himself now (that's just to get elected in Republican Texas). I think I saw some tattered "Ron Paul, Libertarian" bumperstickers on a light pole on Hulen Street yesterday. Sorry, Ron, being anti-Iraq War disqualifies you in my book.

And while there are other 2d tier candidates who have the right answers (Duncan Hunter, for example), there's no way they can win the election.

So that leaves John McCain.

I dislike McCain's position on immigration reform and campaign finance. And I don't think waterboarding is torture. Those are big issues to me. But, just like the Rasmussen poll referenced at the beginning of this post, I find McCain to be the most honorable candidate we've got. He also seems to be the only candidate (and I mean the ONLY candidate) who seems to understand the precarious relationship we have with the Middle East. He also understands the precarious relationship we have with the Democrats.

It's his ability to work with Democrats which finally made me start looking seriously at McCain. If a Republican wins the White House this year, he will most likely have a Democratic Congress to deal with. I'd like to see a President who can work with Congress to pass respectable legislation and not someone who simply knows how to wield a veto pen (thank God George Bush finally discovered that). That may sound like a flimsy reason to vote for someone--that I think he can get things done--but it's not unimportant. And besides, it is the reason I decided I'll vote McCain in the primaries.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Liberal Blog Readership Drops?

The wonderfully named Bloggasm has an unscientific study showing web traffic at liberal blogs decreased during the second half of 2007 while conservative blog traffic increased.

The study is unscientific because there's no comparison between last year and this year (which would be a better way of monitoring traffic). Now that Bloggasm has this as a starting point, it will be interesting to see what happens next year.

I don't know if traffic slowed at liberal sites or not, or if traffic picked up at conservative ones. If it did, there could be lots of possible explanations for it (as some commenters pointed out).

One idea I had was that the Democrat takeover of Congress was such a disappointment that many people may have simply stopped reading liberal blogs in disgust (I think this could have happened with conservatives during the last part of 2006, as well). But that hypothesis doesn't explain the corresponding increase in conservative blogs. Perhaps conservative blogs are just getting more interesting. In any event, it could be interesting to watch over the next year or two to see if this really is a trend.

John Edwards' Neighbor Sells Property

Via Sweetness & Light comes the news that John Edwards rabid, rabid Republican neighbor has sold his property and moved. The property was located directly across the road from the Edwards 28,000 square-foot compound (complete with a 10,400 square-foot house and a "barn" that contains a basketball court, swimming pool and a 1,700-square-foot room designated "John's Lounge").

I discussed the rude and unladylike behavior of Lizzie Edwards in this post last spring. Pointing out the churlishness of her behavior got Jesurgislac's frilly panties in a knot and it went on to accuse me of being "unsympathetic" about Lizzie Edwards' breast cancer. Apparently, to liberals, having cancer makes a person immune to the usual rules of civility which include not bashing and slandering one's neighbor because you don't like the way he takes care of his property.

What Lizzie was really pissed off about was that the neighbor, Monty Johnson, had a "Go Rudy Giuliani '08" sign that faced the Edwards' driveway. And, luckily for us, the sign stays:

Though he has already vacated the property, Johnson’s pro-Giuliani sign will stay. He extracted an agreement from Griffin that the sign can stay as long as Giuliani stays in the presidential race.

Let's hope Edwards' new neighbor will be as friendly.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Liberal Support of Free Speech: William Kristol and the New York Times

Dana has a nice post on the liberal hysteria on display over the New York Times' hiring of Bill Kristol as a columnist.

Liberals seem to come unglued any time a prominent news organization hires a token conservative to write opinion pieces sporadically. In this case, Kristol's column will appear once a week. So, currently, the NYT has:

Maureen Dowd--not a conservative

Thomas Friedman--definitely not a conservative

Frank Rich--definitely not a conservative

David Brooks--the liberal idea of conservatism

Bob Herbert--definitely, definitely not a conservative.

Roger Cohen--a man best described as "continental" in that he doesn't seem to particularly like American foreign policy but can't come up with anything better, so, he snipes about it.

Gail Collins--definitely not a conservative

Nicholas D. Kristof--not a conservative

William Safire--a libertarian who doesn't mind bashing conservatives when it suits him.

And now they've added Kristol, arguably the most conservative writer there. And, with the exception of Frank Rich, all the other columnists write twice weekly. In other words, the moonbats are upset that one conservative voice is heard weekly. In the immortal words of Echidne:
What's worse, this wingnut favoritism means that readers get many more conservative takes on every topic than they get liberal ones (all the major "liberal" newspapers are full of Republican writers and of course all the major conservative newspapers are chock full of them).

I'm not sure which liberal newspapers are "full of Republican writers." Certainly no newspaper I've ever read regularly. But the mask slips when liberals complain about conservative writers getting space in the supposedly elite New York Times: what they are truly afraid of (and they are afraid, yes, very afraid) is that reading conservative views will actually cause people to agree with those views. I guess if your ideology is bankrupt, you really can't afford for people to read anything other than your own propaganda.