I will be guest hosting for author/reporter/radio host Michelle McPhee on Boston's Talk Evolution 96.9 WTKK tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you are outside of WTKK's powerful FM signal, do not fret--their signal through the world wide web is, well, world wide. Listen live here.
I have been informed by reliable sources that I am the champion of week eight's AYRFSF pool with a 10-3-1 record. All hail! Home teams are in caps. All picks are against the spread. Here are my spooktacular selections: VIKINGS -4.5 over Texans, BENGALS +7.5 over Jaguars, CHIEFS +8.5 over Bucs, BROWNS -1.5 over Ravens, BILLS -5.5 over Jets, Cards -3 over RAMS, Lions +12.5 over BEARS, Packers +5.5 over TITANS, BRONCOS -3 over Dolphins, Falcons -3 over RAIDERS, GIANTS -8.5 over Cowboys, Eagles -6.5 over SEAHAWKS, Patriots +6 over COLTS, and, on Monday Night Football, Steelers +2 over REDSKINS. Make your selections in the comments section and post the week's winner in the comments section after Monday's game. Happy Halloween!
Barack Obama's 30-minute television takeover reminded me of John Galt's 60-page airwave assault in Atlas Shrugged. "This is John Galt speaking," Ayn Rand's hero tells the world. "I am the man who has deprived you of victims and thus has destroyed your world." John Galt is the anti-Obama.
If it weren't for troubles, the Democratic Party would have them. Barack Obama's seven-station infomercial highlighted the struggling, the left behind, the put-me-on-your-back America. A visitor from another planet would get the impression that America isn't America at all, but 1970s Albania. In Barack Obama's America, there are no successes--only hardcases Barack the Redeemer can uplift. Every vignette in Obama's half-hour commerical can be summed up by the words of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," only substitute Obama for That Other Guy.
Viewers met Juliana Sanchez, whom the Democratic nominee informed "is a widow with two kids and a mortgage." Did you know, "Every morning, she's up before the sun"? She has a second job and takes teacher training classes. She explains of her money troubles, "You feel like you can't breathe even though you need to breathe." There's the retiree whose pension has been slashed, the Kentucky couple--Melinda was laid off and Mark's hours have been cut--and the employee at the tire-retreading plant who has a torn meniscus and can't afford an operation. Larry Stewart, a B&O railroad worker, retired ten years ago--or so he thought. "With [wife Juanita's] rheumatoid arthritis, and other ailments, their medical bills are rising," Obama explains. Larry has to work as an associate salesman at Walmart. He grumbles, "Each year it gets worse and worse and worse."
The worse it gets, the better it gets if you are a Democrat office seeker. The Democrats are the party that profits from pain. This isn't the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But Democrats want you to think it is. Times are tough for some, but we are not even in a recession. No matter. "Quiet on the set!" "Cue the tears!" "Action!" If America is not in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Hollywood will gather down-on-their-luck Obama supporters and create a video making everyone believe that we are. Manufacture reality.
Though the omnipresence of Barack Obama's simulcasted speech may remind one of the pirate transmission of Atlas Shrugged's John Galt, the similarities end at the broadcast bombardment. Whereas Obama asks the haves to sacrifice for the have-nots, Galt appeals to the have-nots to stop holding back the haves. Indeed, the simple, yet ingenius, idea behind Rand's Atlas Shrugged is imagining what would happen if the world's hardworking talent--rather than the people employed by that hardworking talent--went on strike. What would happen to the world then? As Obama may find out, when you punish success success always goes on strike. This is the blank out--yet another Randian concept outlined in Galt's speech--that Obama and the Obamaites suffer from: government can't give without taking first. Who does Obama seek to take from? The successful, who will be punished by his wealth-transfer schemes--just as the striving but less successful will be punished too. Let's face it: Joe the Plumber can't employ Juliana Sanchez, Mark and Melinda, and Larry Stewart when Obama the Taxer confiscates his success.
"You fear the man who has a dollar less than you, that dollar is rightfully his, he makes you feel like a moral defrauder," Galt notes, in a passage that seems particularly relevant to the Obama supporters. "You hate the man who has a dollar more than you, that dollar is rightfully yours, he makes you feel that you are morally defrauded. The man below is a source of your guilt, the man above is a source of your frustration." That, in a nutshell, is the economic psychology of socialists.
"[T]he people of each State shall choose a number of persons as electors, equal to the number of senators and representatives of such State in the national government, who shall assemble within the State, and vote for some fit person as President. Their votes, thus given, are to be transmitted to the seat of the national government, and the person who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of votes will be President. But as a majority of the votes might not always happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit less than a majority be conclusive, it is provided that, in such a contingency, the House of Representatives shall select out of the candidates who shall have the highest number of votes, the man who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office."
--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #68, March 12, 1788
Want to know what the media will look like after the so-called Fairness Doctrine is reinstituted? Then tune in tonight to CBSNBCFOXBETMSNBCTVONEUNIVISION at 8 p.m. I know. I know. The entire campaign has been a media infomercial for Obama for President. What's so special about tonight's Orwellian ad buy? The media has shamed itself with its cheerleading this election cycle. How much worse can it get? Much worse. The erosions of the First Amendment started with McCain-Feingold pseudo-campaign finance reform will be accelerated through the Fairness Doctrine, which will put supersensitive politicians in charge of determining what's fair and what's not. Who will guard the guardians?
Slate magazine's writers are voting for Barack Obama over John McCain 55-1. Elections in Fidel Castro's Cuba were more competitive than that, which tells you something about the Iron Curtain liberals maintain in the news media. Put another way, Greenwich Village, Telegraph Ave., and Harvard Square boast more McCain voters than Slate magazine. What an intellectually moribund place a Slate editorial meeting must be. One interesting result of previous Slate surveys is that of the four George W. Bush supporters at the online magazine in 2000, only one survived to participate in Slate's 2004 survey. Of the five Slate employees who voted for Bush in Slate's 2004 survey, only one still works at the magazine to participate in this 2008 survey. Do you notice a trend? A message to Racheal Larimore: find new employment--fast! Something tells me you won't be working at Slate to participate in its 2012 survey.
George W. Bush drives conservatives crazy. So disturbing has Bush the Younger's reign been to the psyches of lifelong, legitimate conservatives that several prominent ones will be casting their ballots for a socialist next Tuesday. It won't be the first time. Conservative Mind author Russell Kirk, for instance, voted for quadrennial Socialist Party candidate Norman Thomas in 1944 instead of tweedle-dum (Thomas Dewey) or tweedle-dee (Franklin Roosevelt). Come to think of it, most conservatives voted for a socialist these last two elections--but that's a post for another day.
Douglas Kmiec, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, was the first out of the gate, the founding father if you will of Conservatives for Obama. A few weeks back, Christopher Buckley, dauphin of the late Conservative King William F. Buckley, cited John McCain's inauthenticiy in endorsing Obama. Now comes word that Jeffrey Hart, longtime National Review editor and Dartmouth professor of English, will be voting for the Illinois senator because he is "conservative in comparison to the Republican Party as it is."
That's about the furthest any of the Obamacons will go in citing anything conservative about Barack Obama. They cite Obama's eloquence and Ivy League pedigree. They refer to Sarah Palin as if she were a travelling Lyndard Skynyrd groupie instead of an elected mayor and governor. They note, quite correctly, the wrong direction of the Republican Party over the last eight years. But they don't cite any specific area where Barack Obama will be more conservative than John McCain, or, more to the point, they don't cite any area where Barack Obama doesn't take a knee-jerk liberal position.
I understand the enthusiasm of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, and professional homosexual Andrew Sullivan for Obama. None of the above has ever been considered conservative by actual conservatives, and each supports the radical stands of Barack Obama on abortion and other controversial social questions. Not knowing the current party affiliation of these gentlemen, I don't know if it would be accurate to label them "Republicans for Obama." I do know that "Obamacons" they are not.
I don't question the conservatism of Kmiec, Buckley, or Hart. I do question their judgment. A principled conservative could hold his nose and vote for John McCain. A conservative might cast a third-party ballot for Libertarian Bob Barr or Constitutionalist Chuck Baldwin, write in a name, or even leave the presidential slate blank. But a conservative voting for Obama? That is cutting off your nose to save your face.
Here in Massachusetts, we have our own Ted Stevens. Her name is Dianne Wilkerson, a state senator from Boston, and the FBI arrested her early this morning on corruption charges stemming from her allegedly taking $23,500 in bribes to secure legislation and favors. The best part of the scandal is that Wilkerson was allegedly, I guess I have to say that word, caught on video stuffing $1,000 in her bra. Like Stevens, Wilkerson is seeking reelection. Unlike Republican primary voters in Alaska who nominated Stevens despite his legal troubles, Democrat voters in Massachusetts dumped Wilkerson in the primary. Should she find herself in a house of correction after winning her write-in campaign for reelection to the upper house, Wilkerson would not be the first Bay State official holding office from a jail cell. James Michael Curley, he of "Vote often and early for James Michael Curley" fame, served part of his fourth and final term as mayor of Boston from a federal penitentiary.
Will the real Barack Obama please stand up? For months, the media has been reinforcing the line that the Illinois junior senator is a uniter, post-partisan, and centrist. Then why did he tell an NPR-affiliate in 2001 that the Supreme Court should have mandated the redistribution of wealth (hear here) in America? That's not post-partisan unity. That's crazy talk, akin to what you'd hear from someone who hangs out with Weathermen, travels halfway across the country to attend Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March, and gets mentored by a Communist pedophile.
I find Ted Stevens guilty of being a corrupt octogenarian statist who is the posterchild for what is wrong with the Republican Party. A jury of his "peers" found Senator Stevens guilty of taking bribes from an oil contractor. Let's hope his real peers in the Senate eject this felon if his fellow Alaskans don't reject him next week.
Why would anyone contemplate a New New Deal? The old New Deal was an atrocious failure in prolonging the Great Depression through such idiotic policies as paying farmers to uproot cops and jailing tailors for charging too little for services rendered. The Depression never really ended until World War II. Elsewhere in the world the economic downturn was not as severe or as prolonged. Why was America different? FDR's harebrained economic policies.
The very fact that the Left touts a 75-year-old set of ideas as a prescription for what ails America today demonstrates how intellectually stale leftists are. Yet, there is this tic of dubbing any leftist idea, even ones decades old, as "new." Even the old New Deal wasn't anything cutting edge. It recycled ideas from American populists and progressives, with a splash of European fascism (National Recovery Administration) and European socialism (confiscatory tax rates that rose to 91 percent by FDR's death) thrown in for good measure. The very name "New Deal" was even an amalgamation of the first President Roosevelt's "Square Deal" and Woodrow Wilson's "New Freedom." On the Left, everything old is eventually new again.
Add to all this the transformative nature of the Bush presidency, which has shown that if the "era of big government" was over in the Clinton years, it has returned in full force during George W. Bush's reign of error. No Child Left Behind, the Prescription Drug Giveaway, nationalization of airport security, banks, and the largest insurance company in the world are a few of the dramatic power plays by the federal government during the last eight years. Who needs a another new New Deal when we have just lived through one?
The talk among the Obamaites of a new New Deal proves the importance of rebutting bad ideas when they strike, not years later when the facts become convoluted in the public's mind. The Democratic Party has gotten away with spinning a historical yarn that posits that Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal ended the Great Depression. It didn't. It made it worse. Whenever critics pointed out the obvious failings of Roosevelt's policies then, the spectre of Herbert Hoover was usually good enough to rebut those critics. The irony is that Hoover championed many of the same big-government policies that his successor embraced. The same is true of George W. Bush, who will prove a convenient scapegoat for Barack Obama, as Hoover did for Roosevelt, whenever the economy doesn't react in the hoped-for manner when government encroaches.
Two political ads on the airwaves in New England tacitly concede the opposition's main argument but are nevertheless effective in undermining it. Sound counfusing? Let me explain.
First, the teacher's unions have bankrolled opposition to Question 1, the ballot measure that would repeal the income tax in Massachusetts. Their advert argument? Voting to abolish income taxes means voting to raise property taxes. It is, of course, a fallacious contention. Massachusetts has Proposition 2 1/2, a law limiting property-tax increases, on the books, and obviously only liberals would envision a tax increase as the only way to offset a tax cut. The television spot (see it here), however, demonstrates the popularity of lower taxes by forwarding an argument against tax cuts by claiming they would result in tax increases. Alas, many voters seem stupid enough to accept this liberal logic. There is something in the water in Massachusetts, and I'm not talking about flouride.
In New Hampshire, John Sununu Jr. is fighting for his political life. The Senate's youngest member is running ads tying his opponent to George W. Bush. This would be unremarkable if not for the fact that Sununu is a Republican and his opponent, Jeanne Shaheen, is a Democrat. The ad shows Shaheen bragging of her support for the Bush tax cuts and the Bush foreign policy. Her words came, of course, during happier days in W-land. Nevertheless, the ads effectively undercut Shaheen's strongest argument against Sununu: that he supported George W. Bush.
Am I the only one skeptical of the claims that an Obama supporter robbed a McCain volunteer and carved a "B" into her face? I am having flashbacks of Morton Downey, Jr. mugged by skinheads in a San Francisco airport. In Downey's case, the swastika drawn on his face was backwards. This was a clue that led the police to question whether the late big mouth had inscribed the hateful symbol upon himself. Aside from the ATM attack ocurring outside the view of the surveillance camera and the victim initially refusing hospital treatment, there is the Downeyesque "B" carved into the women's face. It's backwards. Perhaps it is indecent of me to even broach the possibility of the victim being the perpetrator. I just caution readers not to rush to judgment against her, or, alternatively, not to take an allegation as proof that anonymous, unhinged Obama supporters are ready to carve their candidate's initials into the faces of coeds.
UPDATE: This tale of a large African American Obama supporter carving a "B" upon a McCain supporter's young face, as I suspected upon first encountering it, is a hoax. Everyone knows a backwards "B" stands for "bats--- crazy," not "Barack."
Will someone volunteer to figure out the winner of the AYRFSF pool? I have become too busy to do it every week. DocMcG won week six, but I am still ignorant of who won week seven. On to week eight--home teams are in caps. All picks are against the spread. Here are my selections: RAVENS -7 over Raiders, Chargers -3 over Saints (@ London), Chiefs +13 over JETS, DOLPHINS +1.5 over Bills, COWBOYS -2.5 over Bucs, EAGLES -9 over Falcons, PATRIOTS -7 over Rams, Cards +4.5 over PANTHERS, Redskins -7.5 over LIONS, Browns +7 over JAGUARS, Giants +3 over STEELERS, NINERS -5 over Seahawks, TEXANS -9.5 over Bengals, and, on Monday Night Football, Colts +4 over TITANS. Make your selections in the comments section.
Bay State voters decide this November whether to retire the "Taxachusetts" moniker permanently through Question 1, a ballot initiative that abolishes--not cuts, or tweaks, or trims, but abolishes--the state's income tax. My piece at Forbes.com notes the singular direction of taxes in Massachusetts over the last century, arguing that with the introduction of an income tax, gasoline tax, sales tax, lottery, and cigarette sin-tax to add to the ancient property tax, it's time for Bay Staters to go in the opposite direction and vote goodbye to just one of its many onerous taxes.
Should Barack Obama defeat John McCain, two moments stand out. First, the moment Obama broke his promise to limit campaign spending and participate in public financing was the moment he won the presidency. McCain was, as they say, hoisted by his own petard. By abiding by the campaign rules that he has championed, McCain doomed his campaign, which is getting outspent everywhere. Obama, by breaking his word, demonstrated that he would do and say whatever it took to win. Second, the moment John McCain decided to vote alongside Obama and for George W. Bush's $700 billion bailout he lost the presidency. The ancient Arizona senator had an opportunity to separate himself from the unpopular president, side with the overwhelming majority of the American people, and infuse meaning into his claims of being a maverick and being against big government. It would have been a Palinesque gamechanger, in that the conversation would immediately shift to McCain and away from Obama. Alas, McCain didn't do this and the rest, like his campaign, is history.
Do you know that when I called George W. Bush a socialist for nationalizing the banks and spreading America's wealth to reckless financiers I was really calling him black? Well, that's at least what Lewis Diuguid of the Kansas City Star contends. He believes "socialist" is "an old code word for black." Why didn't anyone crack that code to me? If just for that thought, and I use that term loosely, the piece would rank high, er, low, in the stupid department. But as a bonus, Diuguid finds the use of "socialist," though not, presumably, socialism itself, as a word with "long and very ugly historical roots." As proof, he cites the fact that people called W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson "socialists." Interestingly, two of the people who called Du Bois and Robeson socialists were Du Bois and Robeson. "On this first day of October, 1961, I am applying for membership in the Communist Party of the United States," Du Bois wrote Gus Hall. "Communism--the effort to give all men what they need and to ask of each the best they can contribute--this is the only way of human life.... In the end Communism will triumph. I want to help to bring that day." Does this make Du Bois guilty of using racist "code words" too?
I am ready for some football! A Busch 20-pack sits on ice. A burglar's cap, a long sleeve shirt, a Belichick hoody, and a padded flannel shirt will keep me off ice. The same friend who scored free Springsteen tickets this summer has scored tickets to another Foxboro, Massachusetts event. The New England Patriots take on the Denver Broncos tonight on Monday Night Football, and I will be at Gillette Stadium to catch all the action live. When ESPN does the obligatory gliding-camera wideshot of the crowd, squint hard and you will see me cheering.
What is your ready-made excuse if your favored candidate loses the presidential election? For Democrats, the answer seems to be racism. A few months back, Slate bluntly titled a bluntly argued piece, "Racism Is the Only Reason Obama Might Lose." The ObamaNation sings from this sheet of music. For Republicans, ACORN's voter-registration fraud provides a generic excuse that absolves the GOP of any complicity in its demise. The danger in blaming internal problems on external boogeymen is that it robs the loser of defeat's gift: a lesson. Losing provides the loser a reverse roadmap to victory. For sore losers, who never lose but are always unfairly cheated out of victory, defeat is doubly so; for apart from victory denied, (sore) losing supplies no template for a future win. Should McCain lose, the Republican Party's abandonment of the small-government principles that defined it for the past 44 years would be the natural position to be rethought. Should Obama lose, the Democratic Party's insistence on nominating candidates who thrill the party's left-wing base but alienate the more conservative nation that surrounds would, if rationality prevails, cause the Democracy's chieftans to redirect course. But introspection isn't the strength of stalwarts. Should your candidate lose, don't count on years in the wilderness resulting in a new and improved party.
Would a reader volunteer to determine who won last week's pool? Cross reference the picks with the scores, and post the winner in the comments and then I will post it in the main post. Sorry to all, but I am swamped. Home teams are in caps. All picks are against the spread. Here are my selections: CHIEFS +9 over Titans, BILLS -1 over Chargers, BENGALS +9.5 over Steelers, DOLPHINS -3 over Ravens, Cowboys -7 over RAMS, Vikings +3 over BEARS, Saints +3 over PANTHERS, GIANTS -10.5 over Niners, Lions +9.5 over TEXANS, Jets -3 over RAIDERS, Browns +7.5 over REDSKINS, PACKERS +1 over Colts, BUCS -10.5 over Seahawks, and, on Monday Night Football, PATRIOTS -3 over Broncos. Make your selections in the comments section.
From Nevada to Michigan to Ohio to Missouri to points beyond, Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) workers are running afoul of the law by registering phony voters. This year, Barack Obama's campaign funded the number one force for electoral fraud to the tune of more than $800,000. In the 1990s, Obama ran ACORN's Project Vote outfit in Illinois. In the U.S. Senate, he's been the mighty oak which grew from ACORN, remembering his roots by championing ACORN's agenda. Read my City Journal review of John Fund's timely Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, which details how some activists want to count every vote--again, and again, and again.
Hear ye! Hear ye! I will be guest hosting for Michelle McPhee on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Boston's Talk Evolution 96.9 WTKK. Turn on and tune in, dropouts. Did I say "dropouts"? I meant "drop in," or perhaps "drop by," but I certainly would never, ever call you a "drop out." Spread the word. For those outside of TKK's far-reaching frequency, listen live online here. I have some ideas about what I should talk about. Do you have any?
When is a gaffe not a gaffe? When you refer to your debating partner as "Senator Government." The third time proved to be a charm for John McCain, who put in his best debate performance. He put Obama on the defensive by his folksy reference to Joe the Plummer and Obama's socialist quip that he intended to "spread the wealth." He put Obama on the defensive when he invoked the tasteless comments of supporter John Lewis comparing McCain and Palin to segregationists and racist church bombers. He put Obama on the defensive by noting his horrible judgment in befriending terrorist Bill Ayers who advocated parricide in the '60s. Obama referred to Ayers as "a college professor," which is like referring to Lee Harvey Oswald--another communist terrorist from the 1960s--as "a Marine." He put Obama on the defensive by noting his support for partial-birth abortion and opposition to a law that would require medical treatment for botched abortions, otherwise known as babies. Obama, again, refused to cite a single program he would cut when a debate moderator queried him on the subject. This speaks volumes. To his credit, Obama did a better job looking into the camera and speaking directly to the American people. Obama's eloquence is impressive, particularly when juxtaposed with McCain's choppy syntax. Best of all for Obama, he played out the clock. Even if McCain had him on the ropes, Obama lasted until the final bell--which is all you have to do when you're ahead on the judges' scorecards.
Guest hosting a few weeks back on Boston's WTKK, I offered listeners the five biggest blunders in presidential debate history. I'm rooting for a debate gaffe tonight that will eclipse the following clips:
5. Michael Dukakis, 1988: CNN's Bernie Shaw's question to the wonkish Massachusetts governor begins, "If Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered..." The rest is history.
4. George H.W. Bush, 1992: Looking bothered to be there, the unpopular president repeatedly looks at his watch and sends the vibe to Americans watching that it was time for a change.
3. Richard Nixon, 1960: In the first presidential debate in U.S. history, a sickly Richard Nixon imagines the television age is still the radio age. He sports a five o'clock shadow, wears a light suit that blends into the light backround, and sweats profusely. Make up isn't just for girls when you go under the hot lights of television.
2. Al Gore, 2000: The vice president gets a little too close for comfort as George W. Bush attempts to give an answer. If the office were weirdo-in-chief, the former vice president would have won the election in a landslide rather than lost it by a few hanging chads.
1. Gerald Ford, 1976: Sounding like a Manchurian candidate, the leader of the free world tells a perplexed New York Times scribe that there is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe. Lyndon Johnson didn't say that the former UMichigan guard played too much football without a helmet for nothing.
John McCain and Barack Obama debate one final time tonight. Given that Obama boasts a commanding lead in most national polls, and given that debates usually aren't won but lost, what, possibly, could Barack Obama say tonight that would evaporate that point spread? How off-the-wall a statement would he have to make to transform a blowout into a ballgame? I want answers.
Michael New calls A Conservative History of the American Left "a real tour de force" in his review of it in Human Events. New writes, "[U]p until recently, no one has written a comprehensive history of the left from a conservative perspective. This void has been neatly filled by Dan Flynn's recent A Conservative History of the American Left." Why not go read my book and find out what Professor New is talking about?
Did The Killers just jump the shark? Their new single is called "Human" (listen to it here), and it asks listeners the peculiar question: "Are we human, or are we dancer?" I put myself in the former category, which is why I don't care for the song. The music seems to be a collaboration between Joshua from War Games and a ColecoVision. Lyrically, it sounds like something that Dieter from Sprockets would come up with. More human, and less dancer is King's of Leon's "Sex on Fire" (listen to it here), which is one of 2008's best songs. C3PO isn't on drums, retro-futuristic '80s synthesizers don't overwhelm, the singer doesn't sound like he's on Paxil, and, most importantly, an instrument MIA on The Killers' single loudly announces its presence: the electric guitar.
I don't begrudge any conservative for not voting Republican for president this year. After eight years of creeping socialism under Bush, and a candidate who has spent much of that same time insulting conservatives, right wingers should not feel held hostage by the tired sneer, "What are you for
Gore, Kerry, Obama?" Can't one be against Obama and McCain? Must one be for one or the other?
That said, I found Christopher Buckley's endorsement of Barack Obama ill-reasoned. His dad used to brag of scribbling his newspaper column in twenty minutes as his driver chaufferred him into the city. On this score, the leaf doesn't fall too far fom the tree. The endorsement neither made a convincing case for Obama nor provided an effective critique of McCain. "This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget 'by the end of my first term.' Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless." That's the best you could do, Christopher?
I felt better about Buckley's reasoning from his Hardball appearance Tuesday night. He mentioned Bush's nationalization of the banks, his "ill-premised" war in Iraq, and the addition of a new federal entitlement--the prescription drug care plan--as exhibts A, B, and C of why the Republican Party and conservatives make for strange bedfellows these days.
Buckley's departure from National Review, methinks, makes neither party look good. Regarding Buckley, why complain that National Review "fired" you when you submitted a resignation letter you titled, "A Sincere Offer." Words have meaning; "sincere" does not mean "insincere," and if you offer your resignation then you should be prepared for it to get accepted.
With regard to National Review, why on earth would you accept such a splendid writer's resignation--the only son of your founder, for Baal's sake--for endorsing Barack Obama? Several of NR's writers endorsed the socialist bailout, support abortion and gay marriage, and even touted the vice presidential candidacy of Joe Lieberman. If the tent's big enough for all that, why is Christopher Buckley anathema? Jonah Goldberg's response to Buckley struck me as reasoned, just, and right, but the temperate words on NRO belie a pettiness in parting company because of a disagreement over Bad and Worse on November 4. The separation, as it comes in the year of Bill Buckley's death and with the only remaining member of his family, only reinforces the stereotype that the magazine has become more partisan than conservative in recent years.
Christopher Buckley and National Review, then, are in the wrong--Buckley wrong for supporting a left-winger for president rather than not voting or pulling the lever for an alternative candidate (as his father had ocassionally done); National Review wrong for parting company with King Conservative's dauphin for reasons having nothing to do with his enormous talent or commitment to conservative principles, but having everything to do with its misguided view that the third-rail of a conservatism is voting Democrat. Of course, Buckley has the right to vote for Obama and National Review has the right to tell a Buckley "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." But having the right doesn't necessarily make you right in exercising it.
"While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for," Buckley writes in a far better follow-up to his lame first piece. "Eight years of 'conservative' government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance.... So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven't left the Republican Party. It left me." As they say in Conservative Movementland, meggadittoes.
"Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner." It strikes the ears like "Sid Bream, MVP" or "the Academy Award-winning Porky's." A Nobel Prize is supposed to honor its recipient. Leftist hack newspaper columnist Paul Krugman's Nobel Prize in economics dishonors the award. It is perhaps appropriate that Krugman praised the United Kingdom's bank nationalization in his column on the day he won a prize established by the state-run Bank of Sweden. Hayek, Friedman....Krugman? C'mon. Who do you guys think you're kidding?
Do you think Hall of Famer Marcus Allen was a great NFL running back? Me too. But imagine if, instead of retiring in 1997, he still played today for the Raiders. How would Raider Nation respond if on every dive play, every sweep, every trap, every off-tackle hand off, a slow-footed, 48-year-old Marcus Allen were brutally stuffed an instant after taking the ball for a three-yard loss?
They would probably react the way intelligent Raider fans (an oxymoron?) cringe at Al Davis attempting coach his team from the owner's box. In the 1960s, Al Davis won "coach of the year" in the AFL. Owner Davis's Raiders won three Super Bowls. They were once the winningest franchise in the NFL. Now they are a joke. They've had great players in recent years--Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, Rich Gannon. They've had great coaches--John Gruden, Mike Shanahan. But, aside from a few seasons earlier in the decade, they have been the laughing stock of the league. It's not the players. It's not the coaches. It's certainly not the collective will of the face-painted, post-apocalyptic costumed Raider fans. It's the owner--that Howard Hughes-weird, sweat-suited, cartoonish owner.
When the game passes a player by, it's usually pretty obvious. It's harder to pinpoint when it passes an owner by. Somewhere between Lyle Alzado and Barret Robbins, Al Davis lost his grip on reality--and on football. Since losing the Super Bowl in 2003, the Raiders are 20-65.
Davis has wasted first-round picks on a kicker and media-creation quarterback. Last year, he drafted a college quarterback lacking NFL accuracy with the first pick. He calls in blitz packages from the owner's box. Just like his bush-league firing of Mike Shanahan, a stubborn and stingy Davis refuses to pay recently fired coach Lane Kiffin--whom he calls a "flat-out liar" and a "disgrace"--the remaining money owed to him on his contract. Unlike every other NFL team, the Raiders have a stable of Davis loyalists in permanent roles on the coaching staff. In other words, hired head coaches are limited in who they can bring in as assistants. What talented coach, scout, or even player, would want to work in that environment?
"Some strange play would appear during a game," former tight end Jamie Williams told Sports Illustrated in 1996, "and players would look up to the press box and say, 'That was Al.'" Retired defensive tackle Warren Sapp last week seconded Williams's memory: "I remember the first two weeks I was there, we played a preseason game. Somebody came up one time and said, 'We're going deep right here, dog.' I said, how do you know? He said, 'The phone just rang.'"
The same '96 SI piece relates the Davis's practice of dropping a towel in front of an employee with the expectation that the employee would clean his shoes. "I saw him make someone wipe his shoes in front of 75 people," Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan told SI. I heard Chris Landry, NFL scout and Fox Sports NFL radio guru, tell a weird story of Davis phoning coaches in the middle of the night to pick him up a sandwich. The guy is a case study of what happens to an egomaniac when he surrounds himself by sycophants.
Al Davis's motto is "Just win, baby." The New Orleans Saints blew out the hapless Raiders 34-3 on Sunday. Just another day in Raider Nation.
I have seen the future, and it is the past. The British government nationalized the Bank of Scotland today. It threatens to similarly absorb Barclays and Lloyds of London. Apparently, the folks across the ocean--it's not a pond, but a salty ocean--paid attention to George W. Bush's nationalization of AIG, the world's largest insurance company. Socialism has always and everywhere failed. That is the lesson of the last 100 years. Did these nimrods skip history class when the subject turned to "the twentieth century"?
If you're a trader--Remember those guys, the ones who sat at their computer all day and played ETrade as if it were Missile Command?--the market dropping more than 5,000 points in the last year is a disaster. If you're an investor, it's an opportunity. In other words, if you're in it for the long haul, if you don't plan on cashing out you're investments for a decade or more, then patience, not panic, is in order. Rather than "sell, sell, sell," enlightened investors are thinking "buy, buy, buy"--at least when it comes to bargains. The Dow first closed above 9,000 more than a decade ago. If you could today purchase, say, a car or a suit of close for 1998 prices, would you run toward or away from that store? There'a sale on Wall Street. I can't say whether today's sell will be better than the one a week from now. I can say it's a better sale than any they've held for the last year.
TFM is the week five champion with an impressive 10-2-2 record. Give props. All picks are against the spread. Home teams are in caps. Here are my selections: SAINTS -7 over Raiders, COLTS -4.5 over Ravens, Bengals +6 over JETS, Panthers +1.5 over BUCS, Lions +13 over VIKINGS, Bears -3 over FALCONS, TEXANS -3 OVER Dolphins, Rams +13.5 over REDSKINS, BRONCOS -3.5 over Jaguars, Eagles -5 over NINERS, Cowboys -5 over CARDS, Packers +2 over SEAHWAKS, Patriots +5 over CHARGERS, and, on Monday Night Football, BROWNS +8 over Giants. Make your selections in the comments section.
There is a certain hysterical mindset that sees every looming recession as the next Great Depression; every possible conflict, the next Vietnam War. Technically, we are not even in a recession. Save for that minor one we experienced in 1991, we haven't been in a recession--two straight quarters of economic decline--since the early 1980s, which is why some people can't discuss an economic downturn in a rational manner.
Never has a man talked so much but said so little than Barack Obama in Tuesday night's debate. The Illinois senator is a boor who nearly put me to sleep. Because he didn't say anything substantive, I will focus my substantive criticisms on his counterpart from Arizona. John McCain, particularly on economic policy, treads dangerously close to "me-tooism," of the type accepted by the Willkie-Dewey sacrificial lambs the GOP nominated in the aftermath of the New Deal that accepted the parameters of debate the big-government liberals had set. McCain did this on the mortgage problem, in which he vowed to solve by having the government buy up bad mortgages and refinance the loans to reflect the current (lesser) value of the home. This will help banks and hurt taxpayers. He objected to the characterization of the near-trillion dollar reverse bank robbery as a "bailout," noting, "I believe that it's a rescue." In light of his embrace of the transfer of spending power from Congress to the Secretary of the Treasury, his abhorrence of Obama supporting a $3 million overhead projector for Chicago came off as hollow. He embraces the liberal consensus on global warming. Tom Brokaw reinforced the idea that the liberal consensus is the mainstream consensus by asking the candidates if they were for the government funding one massive Manhattan Project-style program, or the government funding 100,000 garages, for the pupose of creating a more fuel-efficient automobile. The debate's coda proved why neither of these men should be president. A viewer asked, "What don't you know and how will you learn it?" The imaginative question provoked two unimaginative responses. What decided voters don't know is that None of the Above is a better candidate than their favorite, and the plurality of them will learn this in the years following inauguration day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average first closed above 10,000 almost ten years ago on March 29, 1999. Less than 18 months ago, it closed above 14,000. Today, the average is below 9,900. It's interesting that the financial wizards who blamed the market's troubles on the House of Representatives' initial rejection of the bailout bill, don't make any connection between that abominable bill's ultimate passage and the abominable state of the market since then. Some of the Jeremiahs yelling "sell" remind me of the guy who urged me a week after the Pro Bowl to bet the Giants in the Super Bowl. Now you tell me! The time to sell was a year and a half ago. Stock market analysts are like the general always fighting the last war. Their predictions of the future are usually just retellings of the last few years or months. Although this may not be the time to buy--the market could stagnate in this 9,000-10,000 range for quite a while--now, after the market has lost almost a third of its value in such a short period--is not the time to sell. Remember Rockefeller: "Buy low, sell high."
For the second Sunday in a row, I reconnected with an old friend. Like most reconnections, it was done over beer. Seeing good friends after years apart is like jumping on a bike again. The conversations seemed seamless from the ones we had aside a burn barrel in the woods in high school. Last Sunday, I stayed up drinking until four in the morning catching up on old times. I didn't want to go to sleep; the next night, I couldn't go to sleep. Leaving Boston for Washington, DC when I was twenty, there was a lot of catching up to do. I am 34. I missed out on much, not all of it good. There's a twelve year void in there when schoolmates married and divorced, delved into bad chemical habits, and drifted from the course that life had meant for them. I spent a sobering Monday night with these thoughts in mind until Tuesday invaded. With all that in mind, my mind is not on politics (the presidential candidates' unaniminity on last week's socialism-for-bankers bill has a lot to do with this). But it's on life, which, I should add before sounding like a sob sister, is pretty good for me and so many of my old friends. One can always pray for better, though.
Bells. I awoke last Sunday morning to the sound of bells--not an unusual occurance considering the day of the week. But the ringing was inside of my bellfry. The incessant chime, which I like to think of as a sonic hangover, was a reminder of the excessively loud music the night before. I paid for my fun.
I attended a Dinosaur Jr. concert last Saturday night at the Orpheum in Boston. It was my second time seeing the band; the first time seeing them since 1993. I don't remember Dinosaur Jr. being that loud then. I won't forget them being that loud now. I only write about them a week after the fact because the ringing would not let me write about them then.
If you haven't heard of Dinosaur Jr., they're probably best thought of as premature grunge. Along with The Pixies and Buffalo Tom, they worshipped distorted guitars and exuded the drug-dealer-next-store vibe in the Bay State several years before Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden did the same in Seattle. A few thoughts on the concert....
First, if J. Mascis is the craziest looking dude out there it is because he is the craziest dude out there. He isn't just an eardrum-executing sadist inflicting eardrum executions upon his audience. He is a masochist doing it to himself. Rather than rely on the house sound system, Mascis had six Marshall Stacks placed behind him as he thrashed his guitar. Isn't the noise for the audience? He likes it loud, I guess.
Forty-two-year old bassist Lou Barlow, with a bouncing mop of hair, looks like the rock gods shaved twenty years off his age. The specific rock god who obliged, methinks, is none other than Mr. Mascis, who, sporting A-cups, oversized granny glasses, and a witch's haircut, appears to have absorbed several decades uncredited on his birth certificate. Whereas a blankfaced and motionless Mascis stoically thrashed a guitar to decibel levels unheard of, Barlow jumped about the stage almost to highlight his bandmate's status as an oracular rock n' roll mystic. It was a weird scene.
Murph, the band's drummer, played drums like a human rather than a machine. This makes him Keith Moon next to the robots and computers who provide beats and fills to today's music listeners. How perfect imperfection sounds on the skins.
Have you heard Dinosaur Jr.? If you haven't, here are my highlight songs from the concert: my personal favorite, a video seemingly shot on the Matterhorn, is Out There; a video tribute to urban golf that was once in heavy rotation on MTV is Feel the Pain; a new video starring Thurston Moore and his kids is Been There All the Time; and for grunge-does-alternative see, Just Like Heaven. I gave my hearing to experience these songs live. The least you could do is give a few minutes to hear them on your computer.
I have seen The Who, Guns n Roses, Soundgarden, and I have never heard anything as loud as Dinosaur Jr. I hope to never hear anything as loud as them again. The amp that goes to eleven goes to eight as well.
By affixing his signature to the $700 billion banker bailout, George W. Bush will add "worst piece of domestic legislation of your lifetime" next to "worst foreign policy blunder of your lifetime" on his presidential CV. The villainy is too great to focus on one villain. One could write a book, perhaps titled, "Profiles in Cowardice," on the 58 representatives who switched their votes. What does it profit a congressman to saveth the taxpayer but loseth his pork? And it doesn't get any better after Bush leaves office. Barack Obama lobbied the Congressional Black Caucus to vote for the reverse bank robbery. John McCain, too, did his part for socialism by putting the full-nelson on House conservatives, who, as it turn out, aren't particularly conservative. Couldn't they have demanded the abolition of Freddie and Fannie, or at least of the Community Redevelopment Act, as a precondition to go along to get along?
I am the champion of week four's AYRFSF pool with a 9-5 record. Newcomers are welcome. Here are the rules. Home teams are in caps. All picks are against the spread. Here are my selections: Colts -3 over TEXANS, Titans -3 over RAVENS, Chargers -6.5 over DOLPHINS, PANTHERS -9.5 over Chiefs, EAGLES -6 over Skins, LIONS +3.5 over Bears, PACKERS -7 over Falcons, GIANTS -7 over Seahawks, BRONCOS -3 over Bucs, Patriots -3 over NINERS, CARDS -1 over Bills, Bengals +17 over COWBOYS, Steelers +4 over JAGUARS, and, on Monday Night Football, Vikings +3 over SAINTS. Make your picks in the comments section.
Had Sarah Palin called Bosnians "Bosniacs" when would we hear the end of it? When you have a "D" next to your name, you don't have to worry about every verbal gaffe and stumble. Their strengths? Biden spoke with authority. Palin spoke with authenticity. Their weaknesses? Biden spoke wonk. Palin spoke platitude. This latter fault was most pronounced in the Republican nominee's closing statement, which was a bunch of nice-sounding phrases strung together meaning absolutely nothing. Biden's used-car salesmen slickness wore most thin on his brazen lie that he didn't vote for the war. Palin undercuts her small-government rhetoric by standing by her man's vote for the $700 billion corporate welfare bill. The Republican ticket, in other words, has negated the most powerful argument for its election. They ain't called the stupid party for nothin. You can spot a bad umpire by noticing his presence. I noticed Gwen Ifill a lot last night. Biden is a flaming liberal. He wants bankruptcy courts to adjust the principle on loan contracts. He seeks military intervention in the Sudan (If there is a place where we have less of a national interest to be in, I don't know it). His solution to the energy crisis is windmills and solar panels. He believes there should be "no distinction" between same-sex unions and traditional marriage. The debate reminded me of the Obama-McCain meeting, with the roles reversed for the VPs-to-be. Biden may be the superior debator, but Palin is far more likeable ("Can I call you Joe?").
There was something flip in the Bush Administration proferring a mere three-page bill for its $700 billion bailout plan that would give the Secretary of the Treasury unprecedented authority over a budget larger than the one Congress passed for Ronald Reagan's first year of office. It is no corrective to the insulting brevity of that initial bill that the billl passed by the Senate totals 451 pages. The former is a slap in the face in its flimsiness; the latter, a practice of deception in its unweildiness. What both bills have in common is that their size obfuscates any clear understanding among average taxpayers of precisely what the Secretary of the Treasury will do with their money.
Colorado liberals have unleashed an "Educate the Idiots" campaign aimed at generating votes from high-school dropouts, minorities, and others traditionally somewhere other than the polls on election day. It's incredibly offensive, and I don't know which party should be more offended: those termed "idiots," or the political party that sees itself as the natural home for the idiot constituency. Apart from its offensiveness, the campaign is incredibly idiotic in its own right. No salemen in his right mind would waste his time pushing a product on those who habitually show an aversion to it. It's akin to the beef industry attempting to expand its marketplace by focusing its advertising budget on vegans. Yet, every four years, liberals target young people with "Rock the Vote" and "Vote or Die" style campaigns. They embark on 50-state campaigns when almost half of those states would not vote Democrat even if the Republicans served up a Manson-Ono ticket. They target poor people, who not only constitute a declining share of the vote, but disproportionaly refrain from voting. In other words, the Democrats waste time appealing to the imaginary ballots of non-voters when they could be winning the votes of actual voters. Like so much of liberal activism, it's cathartic but ineffectual. I like it that way. Please, don't educate these idiots.
The only positive feeling I'm left with after viewing the absolutely disturbing "Sing for Change" music video for Obama is that these are precisely the type of children that would turn their parents into the state once their elders' statist daydreams become "Dear Leader" nightmares.
It has often seemed as if conservatives were dead the last eight years. Three moments during Bush the Younger's reign of error demonstrate that conservatives weren't dead, only sleeping. Ocassionally, the alarm bell sounded and conservatives on Capitol Hill woke up. The first was the populist uproar that derailed the Bush-McCain-Kennedy amnesty for illegal aliens; the second, the unity that defeated the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court and resulted in Justice Samuel Alito. The third, I hope, is the killing the $700 billion bank bailout by House Republicans. In each instance, a liberal outcome seemed a fait accompli. Yet, in each instance, conservatives roared and Republicans, who had rolled over on No Child Left Behind, the prescription drug giveaway, and so many other big-government Bush boondoggles, heard the message. After eight years of alienation, it's nice to again be reminded that we are not alone.