President Obama bows to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah at the G20 conference in London. Americans, who fought a war to throw off the yoke of a monarch, never, ever bow to one.
...that federal prosecutors couldn't figure out how to put a corrupt politician in jail.
There just isn’t a lot of nuance or middle ground in the blogosphere, on talk radio, or cable TV. You are a shirt or a skin...
It’s simply impossible to have any moderate political discourse. Impossible to put forth an argument and not instantly have your motives questioned. It’s not OK just to be on the wrong side of an issue—you have to be bad, misguided, ill-informed. Blame it on the evolutionary Darwinism of the media. Blame it on redistricting. Blame it on anything, but it’s hard to deny...
I admit that I’m just a longtime political hack without much credibility to talk for the man on the street. But I do know that a healthy percentage of the people I talk to these days increasingly feel like no one represents them anymore. Not in Congress. Not in the media. Not anywhere...
Naturally, McKinnon is getting flayed alive in the comment section of his post.
I happen to think one needn't be a "Connecticut Republican" (as McKinnon calls himself) or wallow in "the Kumbaya crap" (what one cable host told McKinnon to cut) to have a reasonable if spirited discussion.
Question my motives, however, and I'll pluck your eyes out of your skull and feed them to my cats.
• Meghan McCain and the pros and cons of "sickening bipartisanship";
• How Dungeons & Dragons may be an apt metaphor for political polarization in these crazy times;
• Whether President Obama's new Afghanistan policy really advances America's strategic interests;
• Why the Battlestar Galactica series finale still disappoints Joel a week later and why Jason thinks Joel is all wet;
• And what's in everybody's Netflix queues.
Music heard in this podcast:
• "Taxi Driver: A Night Piece for Orchestra-Prelude," by the Los Angeles Philharmonic (from Bernard Herrmann: The Film Scores)
• "H.T.," by Tsuneo Imahori (from the Trigun: The First Donuts OST)
• "Starman," by John C. Reilly (from the Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story OST)
• "Meet The Flintstones," by the Monty Alexander Trio (from Triple Treat, Vol. 1)
Here's Chris Good in the Atlantic:
Fact: Meghan McCain is the most visible political person in the country under 25 years of age right now. With appearances on Rachel Maddow, The View, and now Larry King Live, the 2008 presidential campaign (and her blogging during it) has given her a sizable podium. Some have criticized her for her centrist, socially liberal views--Laura Ingraham compared her to a plus-sized model--and earlier this month she gave a name to the brand of moderate Republicanism to which she ascribes: "progressive Republican."
Her "moderate" Republicanism is little different from that of her old man: haughty, sickeningly bipartisan and predictably liberal on serious questions. Good goes on to write, without offering a shred of evidence, that "McCain could foster a social liberalism among young conservatives--or a conservatism among young social liberals--and become that model 'new young Republican.'"
More likely, McCain could continue to offer a fleeting and superficial take on Republican politics. I'm betting on the latter.
(Obama's) remarks came in a “60 Minutes” interview in which he was pressed by an incredulous Steve Kroft for laughing and chuckling several times while discussing the perilous state of the world’s economy.
“You're sitting here. And you're— you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he's sitting there just making jokes about money—’ How do you deal with— I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asks at one point.
“Are you punch-drunk?” Kroft says.
“No, no. There's gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day,” Obama says, with a laugh.
It's hard out there to be a president trying to fix the worst economy since
1992 1982 1968 1932 1890 forever. But don't worry. The Obamas will be just fine.
In Monday's Wall Street Journal, Suzanne Garment chides President Obama over last week's clumsy populist excursion:
Last week's collective screech about the AIG bonuses should leave the participants shaken, the way you feel when you've done something really stupid in traffic and realize you could have killed yourself. Populism is dangerous. The AIG death threats gave us an inkling of just how dangerous. A political leader can't simply stir up a little bit of populism, then turn it off when it gets inconvenient -- not even a leader as eloquent as President Barack Obama.
Presidential adviser David Axelrod, explaining why Mr. Obama supplanted Mr. Summers's early statement about the bonuses with an angrier one, said that while Mr. Summers had to weigh the effect of the government's actions on its ability to manage the financial system, "the president's job is to speak for the country."
That is deeply wrong. Precisely because the president speaks for the country, it is his job, and not just Mr. Summers's job, to weigh the economic consequences of his words. The president's job is not to express populist anger but to address the anger and talk sense to it.
The problem for Obama is that many Americans aren't interested in hearing sense right now. And those who are interested aren't interested in hearing from Obama.
On the other hand, Rick Perlstein hears "populism" and sees "common sense."
Who needs Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg or Dr. Zaius when we have pundits like these guys? I'm tempted just to sit back and watch the Götterdämmerung play out.
Here's Michael Wolff:
Sheesh, the guy is Jimmy Carter.
That homespun bowling crap on Jay Leno, followed by the turgid, teachy fiscal policy lecture, together with the hurt defensiveness (and bad script for it) that everybody in Washington "is Simon Cowell… Everybody's got an opinion," is pure I’m-in-over-my-head stuff. Even the idea of having to go on Jay Leno to rescue yourself from the AIG mess is lame. Be a man, man.
The guy just doesn’t know what to say. He can’t connect. Emotions are here, he’s over there. He can’t get the words to match the situation.
This began, I’d argue, from the first moment. He punted on the inaugural. Everybody ran around like crazy trying to praise it because if Barack Obama couldn’t give a speech then what?
But now, at week 11, we’re face-to-face with the reality, the man can’t talk worth a damn.
The tableau of Michelle Obama hoisting a pitchfork on Friday with her sinewy arms and warning that the commander in chief would be commandeered into yard work left me wondering if the wrong Obama is in the Oval.
It’s a time in America’s history where we need less smooth jazz and more martial brass.
Barack Obama prides himself on consensus, soothing warring sides into agreement. But the fury directed at the robber barons by the robbed blind in America has been getting hotter, not cooler. And that’s because the president and his Treasury secretary have been coddling the Wall Street elite, fretting that if they curtail executives’ pay and perks too much, if they make the negotiations with those who siphoned our 401(k)’s too tough, the spoiled Sherman McCoys will run away, the rescue plan will fail and the markets will wither. (Now that Mr. Obama has made $8,605,429 on his books — including $500,000 for letting his memoir be condensed into a kids’ book — maybe he’s lost touch with his hole-in-the-shoe, hole-in-the-Datsun, have-not roots.)
And Frank Rich:
A charming visit with Jay Leno won’t fix it. A 90 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses won’t fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner won’t fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editor published by The Times last week: “President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.”
Six weeks ago I wrote in this space that the country’s surge of populist rage could devour the president’s best-laid plans, including the essential Act II of the bank rescue, if he didn’t get in front of it. The occasion then was the Tom Daschle firestorm. The White House seemed utterly blindsided by the public’s revulsion at the moneyed insiders’ culture illuminated by Daschle’s post-Senate career. Yet last week’s events suggest that the administration learned nothing from that brush with disaster.
And finally, Tom Friedman:
Right now we have an absence of inspirational leadership. From business we hear about institutions too big to fail — no matter how reckless. From bankers we hear about contracts too sacred to break — no matter how inappropriate. And from our immature elected officials we hear about how it was all “the other guy’s fault.” I’ve never talked to more people in one week who told me, “You know, I listen to the news, and I get really depressed.”
Well, help may finally be on the way: one reason we’ve been sidetracked talking about bonuses is because the big issue — the real issue — the president’s comprehensive plan to remove the toxic assets from our ailing banks, which is the key to our economic recovery, has taken a long time to hammer out. So all kinds of lesser issues and clowns have ballooned in importance and only confused people in the vacuum. Hopefully, that plan will be out by Monday, and hopefully the president will pull the country together behind it, and hopefully the lawmakers who have to approve it will remember that this is not a time for politics as usual — and that our country, alas, is not too big to fail. Hopefully ...
From "Hope" to "Hopefully" in 11 weeks. Not too shabby.
Update: My friend Aaron Barnhart at TV Barn kindly links to this post and makes an interesting observation about Frank Rich and Obama's "Katrina Moment":
Now, I'm no political scientist buuuuut I would say that to avoid insulting the folks in New Orleans who had the original Katrina moment (and lost 1,000 of their neighbors to drowning), any PR debacle trying to qualify as a political eye-opener a la Katrina should be required to pass the following three-part test:
- Did the storm decimate entire communities of poor people for reasons entirely beyond their control?
- Did non-poor people appear to suffer less in the same storm?
- Does the president have a history of aligning with the rich people and seeming tone-deaf to the poor, allowing everyone to shortcut from tragedy to outrage?
I'm not denying there aren't some passing resemblances between the AIG bonus scandal and the Bush administration's response to the suffering of New Orleans. And Frank Rich makes some good points about Larry Summers, who is starting to look like a toxic asset to the administration. But this mess doesn't come close to passing the Katrina test, and it's a dumb comparison...
I didn't take Rich quite so literally. He cites a letter to the editor that appeared in the Times last week, so it isn't his meme, though it is an arresting metaphor.
I took "Katrina moment" to mean the president's response to an unfolding disaster is clueless, out-of-touch and politically destructive, much as Bush was crippled politically after his dim-witted response to Katrina in 2005. In other words, it isn't the disaster, but the president's response to it that matters. I think Rich overstates his case, obviously. Sometimes I wonder if he would be better off going back to reviewing Broadway openings.
Update 2: Mark Steyn objects to Michael Wolff. Sort of: "That's very unfair. At this stage in 1977, even Jimmy Carter wasn't Jimmy Carter. But, 30 days in, the horror of what they'd wrought began to dawn on Brooks, Buckley and the Obamacons. And, after a mere 60, the A-list libs are starting to figure it out, too." There's more, of course.
The Los Angeles Times on Monday reports that conservative talk radio in California is steadily losing audience and advertising revenue.
Reporter Michael Finnegan offers some disturbing anecdotal evidence about the slow, inexorable slide of conservative talk radio in the Golden State. Some big name hosts that were at the top of their game five or six years ago are out of work, like Larry Elder in L.A., or stuck in lame time-slots, like Eric Hogue in Sacramento. Well, maybe this is a trend or maybe not.
I'll leave others to pick apart what Melanie Morgan's pay cut means. But I do know that Finnegan makes an enormous error describing KFI's John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou as "conservative." The L.A. afternoon drive team are not conservatives, nor are they Republicans. They are rabble-rousing "independent" populists who know a good ratings opportunity when they see it.
It's funny how political independents almost always end up supporting liberal ends. It's even funnier to watch as disillusioned Republicans eagerly join the frenzy. John and Ken undoubtedly struck a nerve with their listeners. Some 15,000 people turned out at KFI's "Heads on a Stick" rally in Fullerton a couple of weeks ago. I listened on the radio as erstwhile Arnold Schwarzenegger fans gleefully smashed "Total Recall" DVDs with sledgehammers. My friend Bill Goodwin at FreedomPolitics captured the festivities on video.
But John and Ken's crusade to oust Republican state legislators who voted to place Proposition 1A on the May special election ballot is an eccentric exercise in political retribution. Prop. 1A is ostensibly a spending cap measure, but it's really a tax increase extension that would only slow the growth of spending, not cap or reduce outlays in any meaningful way. It's a bad measure, and I hope it loses. I hope a few Republicans get walloped at the polls for good measure, too.
But the radio hosts' own rationale for seeking to punish Republicans over Democrats -- who are, after all, the majority party in the state legislature -- is arguable at best. Republicans are especially deserving of voters' wrath, John and Ken say, because they pledged to hold the line on taxes and didn't. Instead, the feckless GOP caucus concocted a way to deliver the votes to pass a $13 billion tax increase while covering the political backsides of the members who voted in favor of the budget and then the ballot measure. They've played to death the audio of Assemblyman Anthony Adams, a High Desert Republican, essentially admitting as much. They've also singled out Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, for his support of Prop. 1A and recently issued a "fatwa" against the freshman Republican.
Adams, Miller and their state Senate colleague, Abel Maldonado, are first-rate hacks and deserve everything they get. But it's worth pointing out that John and Ken are doing nothing at all to undermine the strength and credibility of the Democrats who pushed the $145 billion budget most zealously. They are not rallying their more than 600,000 L.A. listeners (see comments) to tell Democratic leaders "enough is enough" for pushing deeply regressive tax hikes in the middle of a recession.
It could be that John and Ken seek to elect two-thirds majorities in both houses of the legislature, which would eliminate any need for Republican votes to pass the budget or raise taxes. In doing so, the Democrats would no longer be able to blame Republican "obstructionism" for the ill-effects of policies that have led to a mass-exodus of California's middle class.
That could be, but I doubt that John and Ken have thought about it in those terms -- if at all. They happen to be right about the fecklessness of the California GOP, the cravenness of the Democrats, and the utter idiocy of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But that doesn't make them conservative. It just makes them shrewd.
I never took a class from Angelo Codevilla, though I did share a hotel room with him once. Nevertheless, I consider myself a student. His new book, which I just downloaded to my iPhone, is all about the uses and abuses of intelligence and the common sense requirements of statesmanship in the 21st century.
Codevilla is a different breed of cat. He can't be tagged as a neocon, but he isn't a paleocon, either. He doesn't have much good to say about so-called realists, but he is certainly no idealist. I suppose the best description for Codevilla is "American Machiavellian." The second best description for Codevilla and his apostles comes courtesy of neocon guru Norman Podhoretz: "Superhawk." Although Codevilla and my old boss Charles Kesler protested in the pages of Commentary, that's not a bad description, either. Codevilla is definitely pro-war, when war makes sense.
And there's the rub.
"Modern American incompetence about war and peace has deep roots," Codevilla argues in "Advice to War Presidents: A Remedial Course in Statecraft" Despite the title, the book is aimed at a very elite audience.
"The Neoconservative dream," writes Codevilla, "that democracy might make people good was dispelled by the converse reality: Democracy is what any people make it."
Various peoples have freely and fairly chosen murderous governments and, indeed, have taken joy in murdering and degrading. Democracy must mirror the demos, and as the Nazi years showed, perverse regimes can lead even previously civilized people to support slaughter.
The Realist bet on "moderation" -- the apolitical division of mankind into "moderates" and "extremists" -- has obscured substantive questions of what anyone is moderate or extreme about. It has led to moderation in pursuit of America's interests in the hope of thereby coaxing "extremists" into "moderation," to prompting moderation for its own sake, and to making to terrorists the kinds of concessions the Realists once made to the Soviets. America's enemies have found it just as easy to decipher the logic of "Realism" as to exploit the logic of our Establishment's bets on Liberal administration and Neoconservative democracy.
There is much, much more, naturally. Codevilla doesn't think much of the homeland security regime that sprang up in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001. He thoroughly dismantles America's "diplomatic ideologies," and he understands, better than any academic or politician alive, that "wars are for winning." Above all, Codevilla seeks clarity in American foreign policy -- and clarity is a rare commodity nowadays.
Pollsters Scott Rasmussen (Republican) and Doug Schoen (Democrat) argue in Friday's Wall Street Journal that President Obama's personal popularity does not necessarily translate into support for his initiatives. How's that now? Let Schoen and Rasmussen spell it out:
Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president's performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative.
A detailed examination of presidential popularity after 50 days on the job similarly demonstrates a substantial drop in presidential approval relative to other elected presidents in the 20th and 21st centuries. The reason for this decline most likely has to do with doubts about the administration's policies and their impact on peoples' lives.
OK, fine. But polls are a lot like the stock market, right? Ups and downs are routine.
Well, that's as may be. It's also true that the country is as polarized as ever, even if the country is quite a bit more blue than it was eight years ago.
Rasmussen and Schoen seem to have put their fingers on something else, though. It isn't about Obama. It's about the zeitgeist. The people aren't at all confident in government or politics, regardless of who might be occupying the White House:
Only less than a quarter of Americans believe that the federal government truly reflects the will of the people. Almost half disagree with the idea that no one can earn a living or live "an American life" without protection and empowerment by the government, while only one-third agree.
Well, that's good news for Republicans right? Party of small government and all that.
Finally, what probably accounts for a good measure of the confidence and support the Obama administration has enjoyed is the fact that they are not Republicans. Virtually all Americans, more than eight in 10, blame Republicans for the current economic woes, and the only two leaders with lower approval ratings than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.
Schoen and Rasmussen say their polling "shows fundamentally that public confidence in government remains low and is slipping." I have been wondering whether America is entering an era of liberal ascendancy, but it seems more likely that we're entering a new era of populism -- with all the nastiness that entails. Democrats are uniquely poised to exploit the populist spirit of the times, and Republicans hardly know what to do. I've never thought much of third parties, but if ever there was an opportunity for a new party to exploit popular discontent, it's now.
We haven't covered the "Rush wants Obama to fail" pseudo-controversy much around here. (Frankly, I don't want to make Joel's head explode every day.) Besides, Rush hardly needs help defending himself.
I must, however, link to some perspective on this from my former Washington Times White House Correspondent colleague (and mentor) Bill Sammon, who is now the vice president for news and Washington managing editor for Fox News Channel.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, just minutes before learning of the terrorist attacks on America, Democratic strategist James Carville was hoping for President Bush to fail, telling a group of Washington reporters: "I certainly hope he doesn't succeed."
Carville was joined by Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, who seemed encouraged by a survey he had just completed that revealed public misgivings about the newly minted president.
"We rush into these focus groups with these doubts that people have about him, and I'm wanting them to turn against him," Greenberg admitted.
Against him, not just his policies. Just minutes after that statement, every cell phone in the room started ringing — alerting everyone to horrible and frightening news that would change Bush's presidency and the public's perception of him. "Disregard everything we just said! This changes everything!" Carville said. (Though, it only changed things for a while. The Dems were back wishing for Bush's failure, calling the Iraq war "lost," etc. soon enough.)
Good on my friend Bill for pointing this out. If he didn't do it, I doubt anyone would have considering the Limbaugh story is several weeks old now. Sammon reached out to Rush for reaction.
Limbaugh, a staunch conservative, emphasized that he is rooting for the failure of Obama's liberal policies.
"The difference between Carville and his ilk and me is that I care about what happens to my country," Limbaugh told Fox on Wednesday. "I am not saying what I say for political advantage. I oppose actions, such as Obama's socialist agenda, that hurt my country.
"I deal in principles, not polls," Limbaugh added. "Carville and people like him live and breathe political exploitation. This is all a game to them. It's not a game to me. I am concerned about the well-being and survival of our nation. When has Carville ever advocated anything that would benefit the country at the expense of his party?"
Good question. And, in fairness, perhaps Carville's motives were just like Rush's — rooting for Bush's policies to fail because he opposed those policies. But considering the fact that political operatives like Carville usually care less about policy and more about defeating political opponents in elections, I'd say Carville's motives might be as base as Rush suggests. Greenberg's statement certainly suggests as much.
Regardless, Sammon's research and reporting certainly takes some of the steam out of Dems' windy indignation over Rush's comments. I, too, want Obama to be considered a failed president by history because he did not succeed in nationalizing our banking system and health care system, imposing an economy-crippling and expensive cap-and-trade scheme, raising taxes above what are already among the highest in the industrial world, etc. I think America will be better if we can dodge those bullets.
I'm still rooting for Obama on foreign policy and the war on terror, though. I'm not particularly optimistic on those fronts, but I'm hopeful. Then again, I adhere to the "politics end at the water's edge" school of thinking so out of fashion these last 8 years.
Update: See Dr. Zaius's post, which includes video of Obama during the campaign saying he wouldn't use signing statements. "We're not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress. All right?" So he flipped, then flopped, then flipped again.
The president will always protect the prerogatives of office. Always. So it should come as no surprise that President Obama on Tuesday issued a signing statement to accompany his signature on the earmark-laden $410 billion omnibus spending bill. Obama may have promised to change "business as usual" in Washington, but "business as usual" in the White House is another matter entirely.
Obama declared "five provisions in the spending bill to be unconstitutional and nonbinding, including one aimed at preventing punishment of whistleblowers," reports the Wall Street Journal.
Recall that George W. Bush's critics hammered the 43rd president's use of signing statements, which the chief executive employs to reject parts of a bill without vetoing the entire piece of legislation. Bush critics (including Obama) said he abused his power by ignoring Congress's intent by challenging more than 1,000 provisions of federal law.
Without question, signing statements are a weaselly way for a president to avoid exercising his veto power. Bush didn't conjure the signing statement out of thin air, however. As this Congressional Research Service backgrounder notes, the practice dates to the 19th century and has always been controversial. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton all issued signing statements at one time or another during the course of their administrations.
During the campaign, John McCain promised he would never issue signing statements, saying instead he would simply veto legislation he didn't like. That's a reasonably principled view. But when asked, Obama hedged and split the difference as usual, which was perhaps more pragmatic. According to the Washington Post:
Responding to a questionnaire (in 2007) by the Boston Globe, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) made clear their view that Bush has gone too far in issuing signing statements -- but that there are circumstances in which such statements are necessary.
"The problem with this administration is that it has attached signing statements to legislation in an effort to change the meaning of the legislation, to avoid enforcing certain provisions of the legislation that the President does not like, and to raise implausible or dubious constitutional objections to the legislation," Obama answered. But, he added: "No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president's constitutional prerogatives."
I agree with that last part, by the way. The executive has as much right and authority to interpret the Constitution as the legislative and judicial branches have -- they're co-equal, after all. And it's worth noting once again that nobody should be surprised that Obama is doing just what he said he would do. In that respect, Obama is no different from his predecessors.
No different at all.
(Obviously no different, insofar as he told the Boston Globe one thing, the audience in the video that Zaius linked to something else, and the American people something else again this week.)
As we've noted previously, the reaction to the passage of an amendment to California's constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman was more revealing than the election campaign itself. Painter Maureen Mullarkey recounts her experience with the armies of Enlightenment and Tolerance following her support for Prop. 8:
Until now, donating to a cause did not open private citizens to a battery of invective and jackboot tactics. While celebrities sport their moral vanity with white ribbons, thousands of ordinary Americans who donated to Prop 8 are being targeted in a vile campaign of intimidation for having supported a measure that, in essence, ratified the crucial relation between marriage and childbearing. Some in California have lost their jobs over it; others worry about an unhinged stranger showing up at the door.
Who was it who predicted that if fascism ever came to the United States, it would come in the guise of liberal egalitarianism?
Who indeed. Read the whole thing. The e-mail excerpts are especially charming.
The thought occurred to me -- not for the first time I hasten to add -- reading Ben Smith's piece at the Politico:
The vast new left-wing conspiracy sets its tone every morning at 8:45 a.m., when officials from more than 20 labor, environmental and other Democratic-leaning groups dial into a private conference call hosted by two left-leaning Washington organizations.
The “8:45 A.M. call,” as it’s referred to by members, began three weeks ago, and it marks a new level in coordination by the White House’s allies at a time when the conservative opposition is struggling for a toe-hold and major agenda items like health care reform appear closer than ever to passage.
"The new left-wing conspiracy" is the headline on Smith's piece, which is why Politico gets so much linky-love from Drudge and suckers like me. But I digress. My point is, if it's conspiratorial for Richard Mellon Scaife to give money to The American Spectator that's publicly disclosed on an IRS 990, then I guess you could call daily phone conversations among high-level Democratic party activists and policy wonks a conspiracy, too.
Or you could call it shrewd political organization. But that doesn't trip off the tongue, does it?
"You are too human to be Republican," D.L. Hughley tells Ron Paul. Watching this interview, I'm not at all surprised that Hughley is going off the air. God, is he dumb. I also notice a bit of rhetorical sleight of hand on Paul's part, especially in the first segment. But when he talks about taxes and spending, Ron Paul is hard not to like.
Good for him. Sue the bastards.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — "Joe the Plumber" is suing three former state officials in Ohio, saying they violated his privacy when they gathered his personal information in a records search. [snip]
The lawsuit names Helen Jones-Kelley, who resigned in December as director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and two assistants.
In case you've forgotten, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher dared to give Obama an unscripted moment before the cameras. And as we know, Obama doesn't like that. So he had to be punished by Democratic operatives in positions of power in Ohio.
Politico raises the question of whether Ted Kennedy's knighthood is unconstitutional. Answer: Probably. Will anyone challenge it? Probably not.
It's hard to like Jerry Brown. Then again, it's hard not to like Jerry Brown.
Here's number 7 on the California attorney general's "25 Random Things" list on Facebook:
I am not fond of Mediterranean fruit flies, or of Malathion. Both are bad.
Now that is funny! Guess you had to live in California between 1978-81. I was but a lad, but I remember it well. Oh boy, did Brown ever suck.
Jerry Brown. Endlessly fascinating politician. Terrible governor.
I spoke with the once and perhaps future governor of California in 2006, when he was running for attorney general. I admired his savvy and his candor -- insofar as a savvy pol can be candid. The thing about Brown is, he really is a political maverick. His record as mayor of Oakland proves it. John McCain could learn a thing or two from Brown. But Brown is, at bottom, a misguided, do-gooder liberal in thrall to a no-growth, fanatical environmentalist agenda. He shouldn't be attorney general. He must never, ever be governor again.
I mention all of this because Brown evidently plans to tweet the arguments in the state's case to overturn Prop. 8 before the state supreme court on Thursday. Brown is hip to the social media that is all the rage with the kids. But he's still bad. If Californians vote him back into the governor's office, I would totally go for splitting the state and watch with some satisfaction as the coastal rich are put to the torch by their nannies and gardeners. After all, they voted for it.
Oh, wait... Sorry. That was the line when George W. Bush was in office. I almost forgot that President Obama is commander in chief now, and the U.S. missile defense -- limited though it may be -- could easily shoot down a North Korean missile. All the president has to do is give the order.
"Odds are very high that we'll hit what we're aiming at," says U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Timothy Keating.
According to "McKittrick" at the missile defense blog, Closing Velocity, this is a rather remarkable change in tone:
I believe that is the first time I've seen the high success rates of our missile defense system reported so matter-of-factly by the MSM. Why just yesterday it seems, the MSM was still in the knee-jerk missile defense skepticism mode it had adopted long ago during the dark Reagan years.
One day missile defense is a wasteful relic of the Cold War, and the next it's on alert ready to save the world. Funny, that...
Yes, funny. But don't take my word for it. Let's go to the video!
(Hat tip: Ace of Spades)
Thousands of people in cities across the United States on Friday gathered to protest the federal government's shift from mere fiscal irresponsibility to fiscal suicide. Here is how the Christian Science Monitor began a report on one such event in Atlanta:
Several thousand neopatriots -- some shouting “Give me liberty or give me death!” -- took to the streets in over 30 US cities Friday, representing what some of them call the beginning of a new conservative counterculture in America.
"Neopatriots"? The term is unfamiliar to me. The article offers no definition or explanation of the word, and it appears nowhere else in the story. A quick Google search was of little help. The term shows up here and there as an online handle. As near as I can figure, it's a term of derision, akin to "neoconservative."
If that's the case, then the Christian Science Monitor has published a particularly vicious slur. The people dumping tea bags might be engaged in a futile exercise, but they understand what's at stake, and who is to blame. From the story again:
(P)rotesters like Kevin Tanner of South Dakota said deficit spending by both parties has unnerved Americans.
“The Republicans have their own problems because we elected them and they didn’t do what we wanted,” says Mr. Tanner.
Many protesters expressed a sense that basic American freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are threatened by new Washington policies seen by many as more socialistic than capitalistic. The proposed taxpayer bailout of homeowners who may have inflated their earnings in order to secure mortgages is one example, says Jeff Crawford, a protester from Dacula, Ga.
“The first year after the Mayflower arrived, the colonists tried a communal method of storing and sharing food and it failed miserably,” says Mr. Crawford. “Why are things any different now?”
As I've written elsewhere, paying higher taxes only equates to love of country only if you love government. Beyond paying for certain basic obligations, such as national defense, taxes rob all Americans of their liberties, not just the rich. A vast bureaucracy, unaccountable to voters and virtually unlimited in power, is what higher taxes buy. Middle-class people don't benefit, unless they happen to be government employees.
On the other hand, that sort of happy servitude to the state strikes me as an appropriate definition for neopatriotism -- and fully deserving of our contempt.
"Neopatriots"? Ugh. The patriotism isn't "neo." It's always existed, appreciating what has made America great for over two centuries. And I doubt it's going to allow all that to be overturned in one year by one president without a serious fight.
And one of his commenters seems to have had the same thought as I did:
"Neopatriots?" Oh, I get it. In ObamaWorld, attaching the prefix "neo" before the names of groups and individuals automatically makes them eeeeeeeeeeeeevilllllll. Y'know, like "Neocons"...or "Neonazis"...or "Neoconfederates...."
Some of the other comments, alas, are not nearly as perceptive.
Here's the Wall Street Journal's lead editorial on Friday:
In the closing weeks of last year's election campaign, we wrote that Democrats had in mind the most sweeping expansion of government in decades. Liberals clucked, but it turns out even we've been outbid. With yesterday's fiscal 2010 budget proposal, President Obama is attempting not merely to expand the role of the federal government but to put it in such a dominant position that its power can never be rolled back.
More than ever, I'm convinced we're in a liberal moment. But I spoke with a wise old friend today who said, No, that's not quite true. Look at the reaction to Rick Santelli.
I don't know that Santelli is a great example of simmering popular discontent with the liberal realignment -- how many viewers does Santelli have? How many people know who he is, even now? People are generally disgusted with big government, big business, big everything. But Obama is the only one on the political stage at the moment who is acting boldly. And in an era of Hope and Change, the old rule still applies: Who dares, wins.
So, have you heard about the burgeoning "tea party" movement among my right-wing pals? Some people are good and righteously incensed about the obscene government spending spree underway in Washington. Friday is supposed to be "tea party" day in cities around the country. There are big events afoot in Chicago, Tulsa, Sacramento, Portland and Tempe.
I note that the L.A. event is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at the Santa Monica pier.
Let me repeat that:
Friday at 9 a.m. (That's 9 a.m. in the morning!)
In Santa Monica.
That's, like, on the far west side of L.A., next to the Pacific Ocean.
This is Southern California, people. I needed to leave my house an hour ago if I had any hope of getting there in time. And I'm semi-self-employed. Just imagine the trouble that people with actual jobs will have getting there.
Good luck, comrades! I don't know who or what you're planning to throw into the sea, but I hope you have paid for all the proper permits and/or bribes! I eagerly await the YouTube videos.
Wonder of wonders! Evidently, when you Google "Obama" "monkey" "cartoon" and "New York" -- or some variation on those terms -- you end up at this site.
Alas, people looking for insight about a controversial New York Post cartoon depicting a couple of cops standing over a bullet-riddled chimp and making a crack about writing the next stimulus bill, instead find the usual right-wing blather about Obama's irresponsible policies, etc., tempered by some left-wing blather about our right-wing blather.
Perhaps some booze posts will allay your disappointment? No? Alrighty, then...
Naturally, Al Sharpton is peeved about the Post running the aforementioned cartoon. The overt reference is to a horrible story out of Connecticut, where a police officer had to shoot and kill a rampaging chimpanzee on Monday. I'm loathe to even mention Sharpton, a demagogue and a buffoon who hasn't had much media attention since he got Don Imus fired. But as long as we seem to be getting traffic, let's roll with it.
In a clumsily written statement released Wednesday, Sharpton says:
The cartoon in today's New York Post is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual reference to this when in the cartoon they have police saying after shooting a chimpanzee that "Now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill."
Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?
Everyone knows -- or ought to know -- that explaining a punch line ruins the joke, but since Sharpton and his ilk are obviously looking to stoke some controversy, I guess it falls upon me to spell it out.
Everyone also knows -- or ought to know -- that Obama didn't write the abominable stimulus bill; the Democrats in Congress did. So the dead cartoon monkey isn't Obama at all. It's Nancy Pelosi.
Professional racial grievance mongers will always take offense at something, no matter how innocuous, and Al Sharpton will always be a tedious bore.
At the risk of belaboring the obvious, monkeys are comic foils not because they are a code for blacks, but because monkeys pick their noses, fling poo, sneer and smile and scratch themselves in ways that give their human distant cousins joy. The image of a dead crazed monkey writing the stimulus bill is funny, sort of, not because we are supposed to associate Obama with the monkey in the picture, but because the idea of a rampaging primate scratching out 1,000 pages of inscrutable legislation just makes sense somehow. It's amusing in the same way that an infinite number of monkeys replicating the works of Shakespeare is amusing.
You don't have to get the joke. But it is a joke.