March 1st, 2015

Carly Fiorina…

asks a good question.

February 28th, 2015

If you care about that what-color-is-the-dress thing…

this is the best explanation of the phenomenon I’ve seen.

Originally, I was among the 70% of the population who see it as white-and-gold. But after reading the article, I was able to flip back and forth between seeing it as white-and-gold and black-and-blue. Which means that, according to the article, my “brain is game to change.”

Well, I already knew that.

February 28th, 2015

The dangerous candidacy of Scott Walker

That’s not my title. It’s the title of a John Cassidy piece that appeared at The New Yorker website. I’ll briefly summarize what Cassidy is saying in his essay: Scott Walker is a bottom-dwelling POS who panders to the worst of the right.

No, that’s not a direct quote. But I’m only exaggerating a tiny bit. For example, here’s the lede:

Let’s stipulate up front that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is an odious politician whose ascension to the Presidency would be a disaster.

And later Cassidy writes:

In a more just world, Walker’s indecent and craven antics would disqualify him from playing any further role in the Presidential race.

So, what has Walker done to earn such disgust? “Indecent”—did he do it in the street and frighten the horses? “Craven”—did he exhibit cowardice on some important principle, or did he bow to Saudi royalty?

No, he refused to play “gotcha” with the press and pundits by answering their demand that he give an opinion on whether Obama loves America, whether Obama is a Christian, or to give his opinion on evolution. In other words, he refused to agree or disagree with some of the principles of the liberal catechism. What’s more, he—gasp!—instituted conservative policies in the state of Wisconsin in the process of “running what used to be one of America’s more progressive states.” What used to be—so sad to say goodbye to all that, and the people of Wisconsin were so very sorrowful about it that in the midst of their mourning they kept giving him votes of confidence.

But I digress. Cassidy’s premise is that, despite the completely obvious vileness of the reprobate Walker, his appeal to conservatives (and his ability to raise money) might just win him the Republican nomination. Then Democrats will have to look at his slimy face and hear his evil voice for quite some time. The last sentence of the piece is, “We’d better get used to it.”

That would be nice. Because Walker Derangement Syndrome has started early. Actually, it started a long time ago, when the left mounted one of the biggest campaigns in history to unseat a governor. In Walker’s case, they failed, although they kept trying. And they won’t stop now.

[NOTE: By the way, that “personhood amendment” reference in Cassidy’s piece links to a Times article that rests on a single anonymous source who says he heard Walker say it at a small meeting. Good old Times. What’s more, Cassidy’s characterization of what such an amendment is about is, of course, incorrect. It would not “outlaw the termination of pregnancies.”]

February 28th, 2015

Michael Totten on Isis’ next target

Lebanon.

Obama, leading from behind. Way behind.

Lebanon is different from previous ISIS targets:

ISIS has announced that Lebanon will be the next state to fall under the sway of its “caliphate.” According to Beirut’s Daily Star newspaper, the only reason ISIS hasn’t attacked yet in force is because they haven’t decided on the mission’s commander…

A majority of Lebanon’s population is either Christian, Shia, or Druze, and all three populations rightly see ISIS as a potentially genocidal threat to their very existence. Even the Sunnis, though, fear and loathe ISIS. Other than the nominal sectarian sameness—ISIS also is Sunni—Lebanon’s culturally liberal Sunnis have little more in common with ISIS than the French or Italians do.

A serious invasion of Lebanon by ISIS could unleash a bloodbath that makes the civil war in Syria look like a bar fight with pool sticks and beer mugs. It would be tantamount to a Nazi invasion.

Totten tries to look on the bright side:

The only good thing that might emerge from an attempted ISIS invasion is that the eternally fractious Lebanese might finally realize they have enough in common with each other to band together for survival and kindle something that resembles a national identity for the first time in their history.

Foreign armies don’t do well in Lebanon over the long term.

And the dark side:

If ISIS makes any headway at all in that country, the rest of us will see just how barbaric they really are when they violently encounter large numbers of people unlike themselves. And the odds that the West will get sucked even deeper into the great war of the Eastern Mediterranean will only loom larger.

Let’s hope ISIS is just trash talking when it says it’s planning a trip to Lebanon.

February 28th, 2015

By the way…

…I’m ignoring all the ever-developing, ever-changing, ever-frustrating shutdown news because they just kicked the can down the road for a week. But if you want to talk about it, here’s a place to do it.

February 28th, 2015

Midnight in Moscow: Nemtsov assassinated

It’s still dangerous to be in the opposition in Russia:

Boris Nemtsov, a towering figure in Russian post-Soviet politics and a biting critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down steps from the Kremlin late Friday, authorities said. The drive-by shooting had the potential to open a violent new chapter in Russian political life.

Nemtsov, a physicist-turned-politician who was seen in the 1990s as a possible heir to President Boris Yeltsin, was one of the loudest voices condemning Russia’s sharp turn toward confrontation with the West in the past year. The killing sent immediate shock waves through Russia, where he became the highest-profile opposition leader to be slain in a nation where such figures are sometimes imprisoned or pushed to emigrate.

There was no immediate information on who killed the 55-year-old politician as he walked across a central Moscow bridge shortly before midnight on an unusually warm winter’s night. Putin said it bore the marks of a contract killing intended to embarrass the Kremlin, a spokesman said. Opposition leaders said they were sure that it was an attempt to intimidate them.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and former prosecutor Alberto Nisman had no comment.

More:

The killing took place as Nemtsov walked in the heart of Moscow across the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge, less than 100 yards from the walls of the Kremlin and within sight of Red Square, one of the most secure areas in all of Russia. Police and secret services­ have a heavy presence in the region…

Nemtsov had been working on a report that he said would prove that Russian soldiers were fighting alongside pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, where a bloody 11-month-conflict has claimed nearly 5,800 lives. The Kremlin has hotly denied any direct involvement, which Russian opinion polls suggest would be deeply unpopular.

[NOTE: This is the reference in the title of this post:

That was 1961. Longer ago than I had thought.]

February 27th, 2015

Another thing Republicans should remind people about

Maybe if these things were talked about again now, Obama’s connections to Communism, Ayers, Wright, and Alinsky would be heard and understood for what they might signify. In 2008 those reports were widely dismissed.

The press of course dismissed them, and will most likely continue to do so. Most people who read about those influences in 2008 dismissed them as either false or inconsequential as well, and not just because of the press helping them along. It’s just that these things sounded so far out: weird, wild, preposterous. McCarthy-esque, too, and you know how people look on the McCarthy era these days.

Obama—such a nice young man, so well-spoken, conservative-dressing, with a pleasant and heartfelt message of coming together with no red or blue America. That made those tales of strange ideological bedfellows sound like tinfoil territory. One had to really study Obama in depth to understand that behind this smoke there might be some real fire. Otherwise, there was no context in which the stories could fit, and without a context they were easy to dismiss. People who wanted to believe in Obama (and some of this was the understandable desire to elect America’s first black president) had no motivation to look deeply into the past and find a thread connecting it all, and little reason to believe it really mattered.

Now if people (Giuliani, for example) bring these topics up again, not only are people familiar with them from before and so they no longer sound so strange, but more importantly Obama has given us the context: his six years of governing. Many people who originally supported him are doubting him, and could be a lot more open to actually listening to facts about his past, and understanding that they are probably meaningful and not just some random youthful associations.

Of course, Obama is not up for re-election, so what does it matter? The damage is done. Well, it matters for the next election, and maybe for elections after that. The lessons learned wouldn’t just be about Obama. They would be about not trusting the press, both in its statements and its omissions. They would be about the fact that Republicans shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand even when they say “mean” things. It’s about the surface appearance versus what’s happening deeper down. It’s about how very deceptive members of the far left can be about things so basic as their identity as members of the far left.

[ADDENDUM: Here’s a bit of clarification. I thought it was obvious that in this post I meant talked about by politicians, not just by pundits, talk show hosts, or right wing bloggers, especially when I wrote “Guiliani, for example,” which was meant to recall the previous discussions of the topic here on the blog about politicians bringing this sort of thing up (such as this, this, and this). I saw the present post as a continuation of the conversation begun in those previous posts.

Of course the MSM won’t talk about it on their own. The idea is for someone like Giuliani (but not just Giuliani either; perhaps one or two candidates too) to say this publicly and prominently, and then the MSM would cover it as though it were a “gaffe,” and that’s the way it would come to people’s attention. But people would be less inclined now than back in 2008 to see it as a gaffe or a lunatic assertion, and more as a relevant and important discussion to have.]

February 27th, 2015

Is this the phone or the pen?

Perhaps it’s both.

The Obama administration has decided to attempt a ban on a popular type of ammunition through some creative statutory re-interpretation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE):

…[T]he Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) is moving to infringe upon the rights of law-abiding gun owners with a drastic reinterpretation of a nearly 30-year-old law regulating so-called “armor piercing” ammunition. So draconian is BATFE’s new “Framework” that it would prohibit the manufacturing, importation, and sale of M855 ball ammunition, one of the most popular cartridges for the most popular rifle in America, the AR-15. Not coincidentally, the AR-15 is among the firearms the Obama Administration has unsuccessfully sought to outlaw.

More here.

February 27th, 2015

Lois Lerner’s emails

The wheels of justice grind slow.

Very, very slow. And that’s part of the plan; after all, the benefits have already been reaped, and by now most of America has Moved On.

Last night Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Timothy Camus updated the House Oversight Committee on the status of Lois Lerner’s “missing” emails surrounding the IRS targeting of conservatives.

In an exchange with Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), Camus revealed there is “potential criminal activity” involved in the disappearance and hiding of emails belonging to IRS officials involved in the targeting of conservatives between 2010 and 2012…

Not surprisingly, in order to stonewall the congressional investigation into the targeting of conservative groups, IRS officials never asked IT professionals to look into gathering back-up tapes or recovering emails requested by Congress.

Despite IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly saying under oath in previous hearings that Lerner’s emails could not be recovered, Camus and investigators have been successful in recovering nearly 33,000 emails relevant to the IRS investigation.

February 26th, 2015

Did I miss…

…where Obama condemned this random act of random hostage-taking by random violent extremists?

February 26th, 2015

Scott Walker addresses the press

In this op-ed, Scott Walker channels Newt Gingrich minus all the nastiness—although Newt wouldn’t really be Newt without the nastiness.

Why do I say Walker is being like Gingrich? I remember, back in the 2012 Republican primaries, one of the things that drew Newt-supportors to Newt was that he was the only one of the Republican field who threw the press’s “gotcha” questions back in their faces, questioning the motives and tactics of the questioners rather than being trapped by them. A lot of people wished the others would adopt the tactic, too, because it can counter one of the ways in which members of the MSM treat Republicans very very differently than they treat Democrats.

Well, Scott Walker has adopted it, and Walker has the decided advantage (at least to my way of thinking) of seeming personally non-threatening and mild-mannered. Unlike Newt, he’s got that Midwestern affability thing going. But watch out—as with that “amiable dunce” Reagan, Walker is both sharp and unafraid of standing up for himself and defying the attempts of the media to define or trap him.

I found the following video of Reagan because I was looking for a clip of his “I am paying for this microphone” quote. But when I watched it I was struck by what Reagan says at the very end about Carter (it starts around 0:50). The statement is very well put, and could be a template for what Walker might say about Obama right now. Yes, Obama’s leadership is much worse than “mediocre,” the word Reagan uses in the clip for Carter’s. But it’s still a very hard-hitting statement overall, and “mediocre” is actually a description that even most moderates could agree with. Take a look:

February 26th, 2015

Scare tactics about the pending SCOTUS Obamacare subsidies case

Soon the Supreme Court will start hearing King v. Burwell, the case that could eliminate federal subsidies for people in states that declined to set up Obamacare exchanges. It would deal a huge blow to Obamacare itself if the plaintiffs were to win.

That—and not the merits of the law—is the reason I have long thought that SCOTUS is likely to blink on this. On purely legal grounds, I believe the plaintiffs have a good case, but the consequences seem so potentially cataclysmic that SCOTUS will be reluctant to trigger them. Whether the justices should take that sort of thing under consideration, the reality is that they sometimes do, and they then figure out a way to justify their decision legally (there’s always a way to do that). That’s what I think Justice Roberts did when he “creatively” declared the Obamacare penalty a tax for one purpose and not for another (see this). It’s my opinion that his motive for turning himself into a mental pretzel was to avoid what he saw as too dramatic a result if the main basis of Obamacare coercion, the penalty, was declared unconstitutional.

Prior to that decision, Democrats had been sounding the drumbeat of alarm because they knew it would spook the Court as well as the public, and they’ve been doing it again (see this and this) for quite some time.

There’s a way that Republicans could take a lot of the sting out of this, which is to formulate a viable alternative and publicize it heavily. That way we wouldn’t get as many articles like this one:

The immediate effect of a ruling against the ACA would be to hurl the political system, and no small part of the economy, into chaos. Yet there’s little sign that Washington is preparing for that scenario. Democrats won’t talk about what they would do because they don’t want the court to believe they could contain the fallout. Republicans don’t want to talk because they’re loath to admit that, even after voting 67 times to repeal or defund the ACA, they have no plan to help the millions who would be affected. (But they’d sure love the court to kill the law anyway.)

Actually, Republicans have several plans, and the author goes on to mention one by Stuart Butler of the Brookings Institution. There are others, as well, described here, here, and here. The problem is not that there aren’t any plans, it’s that there isn’t agreement on a single plan that the Republicans can (or will) publicize as the plan.

That’s not surprising. The issues are complex, the best fixes are not obvious, and after all this is Congress and the GOP we’re talking about. What’s more, why spend so much time and effort on something that they may not even get to vote on if SCOTUS doesn’t rule against the subsidies?

Because they need to unify on this and get their message out to show that they are serious and that they are prepared—that they are practical and have a way to say “yes” rather than just “no.” And it is no small matter, too, that it would help reassure the SCOTUS swing justices such as Roberts that chaos will not inevitably follow a ruling for the plaintiffs.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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