A new study projects that New York and Ohio will each lose two Congressional seats after redistricting in 2012. Election Data Services Inc. projects that Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will each lose a seat. Notice something about those states? All but one of them went for Obama in the 2008 elections. Blue America's loss is Red America's gain. Texas will reportedly pick up four seats, Florida two, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington one each. In other words, ten of the twelve pick ups will go to states that voted for McCain in 2008.
Democrats are taking campaign advice from Michael Dukakis. Was George McGovern unavailable? If the 2010 elections were a novel, we would call this foreshadowing. Linda McMahon is within the margin of error in Connecticut, Ron Johnson (sounds like a nom de porno) leads Russ Feingold by eight in Wisconsin, Republican John Raese outpolls Joe Manchin in West Virginia, and New York's Kirsten Gillibrand bests Republican Joe DioGuardi by only one point in the latest poll. And these were the Democratic Senate seats thought absolutely safe just a few months ago! If you're going into a fight, take advice from this Duke, not this one.
Mass rallies are so 1960s. Can't anybody think of a new form of political protest? I thought Halloween-style egging or mass streaking might have caught on. Even spray-painting "Quato Lives" all over the place would be a preferable demonstration to these stale marches. The union and civil-rights style of protest (sit-ins, pickets, marches) are cliched. Glenn Beck held his rally. Now a coalition of 300 groups want to do the same to "overshadow" his event. Why don't the disputants just hold pissing match to settle things? Even Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have a rally on the National Mall. It's called the Rally to Restore Sanity, a title that ensures a monologue's worth of jokes on both comedian's programs should attendance fall short of expectations. America doesn't need another, yawn, march. America needs a moratorium on marches.
Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell has been called a gaffe-prone liar who fudged her educational background. Such seeming impediments to elected office never stopped Joe Biden, the man whose Senate seat O'Donnell seeks. Read my column @ Human Events to see why journalists who ignored Joe Biden's lies are engaged in a feeding frenzy over Christine O'Donnell.
I have some rules about alcohol that I very rarely break: don't drink on weekdays, don't drink during the daytime, take a month off every year, never turn down a free drink, and avoid gin and people who drink gin. I broke two of those rules Sunday night.
A lazy, showerless, couch-potato-of-a-day immediately became productive. Gilby's gin and Polar Seltzer are that powerful.
Gin is a performance-enhancing drug. It isn't banned by the IOC, but it should be. It prompts wimps to take on street fighters. It makes the shy guy approach the pretty girl. It transforms the ugly girl into the pretty girl. It injects life into the couch-bound lazy bones.
Gin isn't the elixir that PCP is, enabling those under its powerful influence to run a sub four-minute mile after jumping naked through a plate-glass window on the sixth floor and getting repeatedly tazed. But gin is certainly more potent than ginseng. Can I get a witness?
Rules are made to be broken, as this, my second post on Sunday-night drinking, demonstrates. But more importantly, routines are made to be broken. I had my most productive month since my early '06 European vacation because I abstained from alcohol from late July until late August. That's one way to break a routine. Drinking gin on a Sunday night is another way.
My decision was a consequential one, requiring much reflection. After vacilating for fifteen minutes, I commenced my activities at 9:30--a rather late starting time for me. And I did it in style--a Red Bull and vodka--that assured several hours of hyperactivity. A gin and tonic followed. In the background, I would say that my stereo blared a new mixed CD of late '70s/early '80s AOR that I created (Tom Petty, Bob Segar, Billy Squire, Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, etc.). But since my stereo broke down earlier this summer, I can only say that my decade-old $29.99 mini-boombox with its chord jerry-rigged with duct tape belted out some good tunes.
With the ambience and refreshments taken care of, I set to work on finishing a book and starting an article. I did both. I cranked out 400 or so words, including an introductory paragraph, for a feature-length piece that should appear in print in a few months. And, I am pleased to report, I have finished writing my fourth book. This latter boast is a bit of a George Bush "Mission Accomplished" announcement (I am blogging in a flight-suit from an aircraft carrier). Chapters still need to be proofed by outside eyes. A few citations need to be tracked down. I may add a bit here, cut a bit there. But the text, in large part because of the work done Sunday night, now reads as a complete and coherent draft. Mission Accomplished.
Gin can have that effect on a man. Alas, gin can have this effect on a man, too.
A huge frying pan fell on my tiny computer. This was not without casualties. My left "alt" button is completely gone. It is for such occasions, presumably, that computer geniuses provided an "alt" key on the right. Other keys were not so lucky. The injuries to "B" and "N" are not apparent to the naked eye. But when I tap them, they rarely work. The copy and paste functions have been utilized as typing keys. This is not such a burden for "B." I read, and am not surprised, that it is the 20th most common letter in the English language. But "N" is one of those letters that is so common that the Wheel of Fortune automatically awards it to contestants during their grand-prize puzzle. This gadget malfunction reared its ugly head in a post yesterday, when, after ridiculing a man for dismissing spelling as passe, I misspelled "advancement" as "advacemet." A keyboard with 24 healthy letters may be an advacemet for some. A keyboard with 26 healthy letters would be an advancement for me.
Dwight Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex. I am warning you of the education-technology complex. With billions of federal, state, and local dollars at stake, technology companies are seeking to convince parents, teachers, and politicians that classrooms without iPads, Xboxes, and virtual reality are depriving children of a proper education. Sara Corbett has an amazing, and very long, article in The New York Times on a school in Manhattan that relies primarily on video games to teach children. Unsurprisingly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has poured millions into this insidious venture. What's bad for children's brains isn't always bad for the bottom line. One teacher at the school calls handwriting a "20th century skill," dubs spelling "outmoded," believes that memorizing is irrelevant in the age of Google, and that a podcast is "as valid as writing an essay." I can see the future, and it is full of really dumb people that imagine themselves the most advanced people who have ever lived.
Before his election to the United States Senate, Ted Kennedy never even bothered to vote for Democrats--save when his brother's name appeared on the ballot. So Jimmy Carter's accusation on "60 Minutes" that Ted Kennedy sabotaged the 39th president's health-care bill for political gain shouldn't come as a surprise. As I write @ the American Spectator, Ted Kennedy was a party cannibal who regularly devoured fellow Democrats for personal gain. And the worse he treated Democrats, the more Democrats loved him.
If Republicans had listened to liberals in 1980, they would have never nominated Ronald Reagan. Thirty years later, liberals scoffed at the slate of tea-party influenced candidates capturing Republican nominations. Read my article @ Human Events explaining why the candidates you want to face on the ballot in November aren't the ones you want to see in Congress in January.
That's the question establishment Republicans are asking in the wake of Christine O'Donnell's shocking victory in the Senate primary over Congressman Mike Castle. Republicans had a sure-bet winner in Castle. Yet, they chose purity over expediency. What does it profit a man to gaineth the U.S. Senate but loseth his soul, I guess.
O'Donnell's win shows that conservative voters aren't just angry at Washington Democrats. They're angry at Washington. Clearly, it's not enough to send any old Republican to Washington. Conservatives had a Republican majority in the Senate just a few years ago, and where did that get them? This is the big-spending Bush backlash, just a few years too late. Murkowski, Castle, Crist, Bennett, Specter--it's nice to say goodbye! They punished conservatives by going-along-to-get-along with liberals. Why shouldn't principled conservatives have punished them?
Should O'Donnell lose in November, and my guess is that she will (But two months before last night's vote I would have also guessed a defeat, so what do I know?), the liberal post mortem will posit that the candidate's conservative views irritating a moderate electorate damned Republican chances. That won't be it. Hard-core conservatives are ahead in the polls in Alaska, Kentucky, Colorado, Utah, and elsewhere. The reason why O'Donnell faces an uphill battle in Delaware, while similar candidates are ahead elsehwhere, has to do with her ethics rather than her ideology.
Much of the negative press about O'Donnell has been unfair. But allegations of siphoning campaign money to pay for personal expenses, a shady employment history, and launching a get-rich-quick gender-discrimination lawsuit against a venerable conservative non-profit are serious concerns. Should she lose in November, it will be her ethical baggage more than her ideological baggage that will doom her candidacy. Though her memorable "Sex in the '90s" anti-onanism crusade, curiously unveiled only after she had secured the nomination, certainly will be a drawback on the latter front.
From the very limited exposure I have had with Ms. O'Donnell, I can say that today's 11th-hour robo-call charge that she is a "complete fraud" and not a conservative is itself a complete fraud. O'Donnell is a right-winger, albeit one who would have meshed better with the '90s Christian Coalition zeitgeist than with today's Tea Party moment. She is a woman with strong convictions. But a shared outlook is only one criterion influencing voters to cast ballots for a candidate.
I got caught in the rain today. God was trying to tell me something. I got dropped off at the gym, and insisted that I would jog the two miles home instead of getting picked up. While at the gym, I started thinking about people who ride stationary bicycles in air-conditioned rooms on pleasant summer days. And how about those fools who run on treadmills like gerbils in their cages? Do they know that they can also partake in these activities outdoors with the changing visuals more pleasant than the television staring them in the face?
They didn't hear my taunts because they occurred in my head. But God did.
After my workout (chest and triceps), I started jogging. Then it started raining, lightly at first. I didn't get the message. It started raining heavily. No comprende. Then the heavens unleashed a torrent that can only be described as Biblical. You are coming in weak and unreadable; repeat your last. Finally, as hail stones battered my head, face, and glasses, the message came in loud and clear: don't make fun of strangers at the gym.
I couldn't see through my glasses. My right ear ached. My body felt like Johnny Knoxville after rough day at the office or Drew Bledsoe on Monday morning after feeling a bit gun shy on Sunday. Brutal.
Perhaps the treadmill walkers and stationary-bike Lance Armstrongs laughed at me as they drove past. One good samaritan or serial killer offered me a ride in his white truck. I unwisely or shrewdly declined. At one point, I actually inhaled a hail ball. It left a lasting, most disgusting taste in my mouth--erased only through Listerine, which left a lasting, unpleasant taste to mask the earlier lasting, unpleasant taste. Acid rain may be fiction, but acid hail is reality.
The scene became especially comical as the road's sidewalks disappeared (The pedestrian, apparently, is persona non grata in that neighborhood.). Forced onto the side of the road, and then forced into the middle of the road when the side of the road became an impromptu river, I gave the stop signal to a truck and began jogging in the middle of the street. My pace, faster than normal as I irrationally imagined that the storm was chasing me, was nevertheless well below the 30 mile-per-hour posted speed limit. The car travellers didn't like that. I didn't like it when their wheels splashed water on me as they passed.
Ironically, I longed for a conventional shower as some sort of antidote to the natural shower in which I found myself. The rain gave me an appreciation of trees greater even than Joyce Kilmer's. But those green giants couldn't completely shelter me from the storm. The hail pellets seemed an outraged peanut-gallery-of-the-heavens response to the ridicule levelled at the fitness enthusiasts from the confines of my brain. God and his minions hear everything. Occasionally you hear from them, too.
Barack Obama told the world that he is for the planned Ground Zero mosque and against the threatened Florida Koran burning at Friday's press conference. Is there a subject upon which the Talker-in-Chief hasn't offered an opinion? Two years ago, Obama had America hanging on his every word. Now even his supporters wish he would hit his internal mute button occasionally. Read my column @ Human Events explaining that Silent Cal has a lot to teach Wordy Barry.
VH1 has released its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time." A note on semantics: by "artist" they mean someone involved with music (they didn't mean to snub Rembrandt or Picasso), and by "all time" they mean since 1950 or so. With that in mind, on what planet does Sam Cooke not make such a list and Stevie Wonder show up at number 10? No Smiths/Morrissey but Joni Mitchell at 44? What grudge against the American South justifies excluding Roy Orbison, The Allman Brothers, Ryan Adams, and Buddy Holly? The list shows that it's the fate of every underrated band to eventually be overrated. The Clash at 22? Velvet Underground at 24? Does anybody even own an Iggy and the Stooges record? The Kinks, The Who, Chuck Berry, Bruce Springsteen, and Pink Floyd are in my top ten, but not VH1's. Was it Hall or Oates who bribed VH1 to put them on their list? Such lists inevitably provoke spittle-backed, high-decibel criticism. Alas, bravo to VH1 for excluding The Eagles and placing The Beatles at number one.
It's another open-thread Friday. Say anything you want about anything you want in the comments section below. It's been too long without an open thread, so speak now or forever hold your peace--or at least hold it until the next open thread.
My reaction to the Florida minister burning a Koran is identical to my reaction to a New York imam constructing a mosque at Ground Zero: it's provocative, insensitive, and imprudent. It's not illegal. The chronological juxtaposition of the two cases is instructive. The president came out guns-a-blazing in favor of the mosque; his attorney general and secretary of state have condemned the burning of the Muhammedan holy book. Neither case should be a legal matter; both should be occasions for public rebuke.
I once had Delaware Senate candiate Christine O'Donnell in the back seat of my car. Alas, nothing scandalous--I gave her a ride to a presidential straw poll run by the Virginia Republican Party. The purpose of my volunteering to squeeze a group of people in my tiny Mustang was to secure a win for Pat Buchanan (Yes, it's true. I was a teenage Buchananite!) leading in to the following year's primary votes. Mission accomplished.
I wish I could claim credit for the victory, but one of the passengers in my car was a fifth columnist. After I gave her a ride to the event, she took me for a ride by voting for Alan Keyes. She's now running for the U.S. Senate in Delaware.
Christine O'Donnell is attracting a lot of attention. She is probably used to it. If elected to the Senate, the doe-eyed O'Donnell would be the best looking member of Congress--ever. She makes Sarah Palin look like the landlady in Kingpin by comparison. Her detractors think O'Donnell makes Palin seem like Marilyn vos Savant by comparison.
The attention O'Donnell is getting is not all of the welcome kind. OpinionJournal, The Weekly Standard, and National Review--not exactly charter members of the vast left-wing conspiracy--have all published negative pieces about her candidacy.
There are some valid criticisms in the pieces. One oblique put down that makes me queasy is the insinuation that since Miss O'Donnell isn't wealthy she doesn't belong in the Senate. The Standard piece, for instance, notes that O'Donnell only made $5,800 last year and took more than a decade to pay for the diploma that she earned from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Welcome to America 2010, guys. Real people owe money to the IRS. Real people struggle to earn an income to support themselves. Real people take years to pay off debts to private universities. Real people live in townhouses.
Why is it so offensive for a real person to run for the Senate?
Remember, she is vying for the seat occupied for 36 years by a man who boasted of being one of the poorest members of the U.S. Senate. And he won the office as a twenty-nine-year old neophyte, so it is not as though an inexperienced candidate of modest means winning that seat is without precedent.
There are reasons why some Delaware conservatives might choose not to vote for Christine O'Donnell. She can't win the general election. She appeared as a caricature of a conservative by crusading against masturbation on MTV's "Sex in the '90s" series. She has never held elected office before. And, most importantly, she scammed a ride in a car delivering votes for Pat Buchanan only to cast her ballot for Alan Keyes! The fact that she has suffered the same economic difficulties that so many Americans have recently endured shouldn't disqualify her for high office. America isn't an oligarchy.
The future of organized labor looks bleak this Labor Day. Read my column @ Human Events about how labor unions, organizations founded to protect workers, have priced their members out of jobs.
On Wednesday, James Lee took three Discovery Channel employees hostage at corporate headquarters. On Monday, Discovery's Animal Planet airs a marathon of "Whale Wars," a reality television show starring Paul Watson in which environmentalists ram whaling ships and otherwise endanger people in their workplace. In my column @ Human Events, I ask just what is the difference between the gunman in Discovery's lobby ("Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around") and the lunatic starring on its hit reality show ("Don't bring any more humans into being").
Album sales experienced their worst week ever in August. The music industry blames their customers. Their customers blame the music industry. As I write @ the American Spectator, years of pushing horrible music on the public has resulted in terrible consequences for the recording industry.
James Lee took as his religion a novel in which Ismael the Gorilla communicates to humans through telepathy. Too bad the environmentally-conscious gorilla couldn't tell the hostage-taker to duck before police snipers killed him at the Discovery Channel's headquarters. Lee posted an eleven point manifesto aimed at the Discovery Channel that could have been boiled down to one point: "stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants." Indeed, as anyone who has heard The Bloodhound Gang's classic "Bad Touch" can tell you, the Discovery Channel has prompted the reproductive activities of countless humans. Alas, Lee would have had more success bringing his demands to one of the many cable channels launched by Ted Turner, who awarded a $500,000 prize to the author whose book inspired this lunatic.
Four reformers met under a bramble bush. They were all agreed the world must be changed. "We must abolish property," said one.
"We must abolish marriage," said the second.
"We must abolish God," said the third.
"I wish we could abolish work," said the fourth.
"Do not let us get beyond practical politics," said the first. "The first thing is to reduce men to a common level."
"The first thing," said the second, "is to give freedom to the sexes."
"The first thing," said the third, "is to find out how to do it."
"The first step," said the first, "is to abolish the Bible."
"The first thing," said the second, "is to abolish the laws."
"The first thing," said the third, "is to abolish mankind."
--Robert Louis Stevenson, "The Four Reformers," 1896