Wednesday, September 24, 2008

George Will nails McCain's character...

...which is why there are only two reasons that I can stomach voting for McCain this election cycle, having, before stepping into the voting booth, quaffed a bottle of Pepto-Bismol in a forlorn attempt to preempt the inevitable nausea as I pull the lever:

1. Sarah Palin needs four years of Vice-Presidential experience before I can be truly happy voting for her for President.

2. Barack Obama...God help us all.

Here is Will on McCain. Money quotes:

In any case, McCain's smear -- that Cox "betrayed the public's trust" -- is a harbinger of a McCain presidency. For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are "corrupt" or "betray the public's trust," two categories that seem to be exhaustive -- there are no other people.
I would argue that you can explain McCain's entire history in the Senate by postulating a single motive: the motive of assuring himself that he is morally superior to all his fellow Republicans, while always histrionically covering his eyes to the possibility that his disagreements with them arise not from his moral superiority, but from his intellectual inferiority. Being well aware of the fallacy of the affirmation of the consequent, I do not allege that his entire political career has in fact been driven by the desire to assure himself of moral superiority. I merely affirm that such a motive would explain pretty much everything the man has ever done since entering politics -- including (since this is the most Democratic of motivations) his flirtation with switching parties to the party whose entire raison d'ĂȘtre is assuring its members that by voting appropriately they prove their moral superiority to all Republicans. That's our boy John: the least repulsive Democrat running.

But here's my very favorite part, simply because Will has found the perfect wording, wording that absolutely captures what has always seemed to this cynic to be the essence of John McCain the politician (however much I admire and appreciate John McCain the military hero):
It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?
How perfect is the bit about McCain's "bottomless reservoir of certitudes"? As Ambroce Bierce once said, "For every man, there is a tag that will stick to him like a second skin. His enemies have only to find it." "Boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes" probably isn't quite there. But it's getting close.

The only problem with Will's analysis in that last paragraph, is that the alternative before the American people is not one that pits a grotesquely inexperienced and ill-prepared but temperamentally sound candidate against a candidate who is crippled by boiling moralism, a bottomless reservoir of certitudes, and utter contempt for the morals and character of any person who presumes to disagree with him. No, alas, the American people must choose between two candidates whose wellsprings of repulsive self-righteousness are to all appearances bottomless, two candidates overflowing with boiling moralism, two candidates absolutely convinced that there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who agree with them, and those who are evil (and furthermore that every public crisis is, of necessity, a result of evil people acting from malicious intentions, never the result of incompetent persons acting from disastrously ill-advised good intentions). The differences lie in the fact that one boilingly moralistic candidate does at least appear to attempt to live by the ethics he would propose for others, while the second preaches political moralism while practicing political prostitution; that one boilingly moralistic candidate has a sense of morality that is at least grounded in something resembling the natural moral law, while the other works from a sense of morality that resembles true morality about as much as Janet Reno resembles a supermodel; that one boiling moralist has been tested in the crucible of torture and proved to have a core of steel in times of crisis, while the other crumples into an incoherent "My Pet Goat"-style fetal ball of helplessness and confusion whenever he hits a rough spot in his Presidential campaign and it takes days for his teleprompter-armed advisors to prop him back up into a simulacrum of a leader...oh, and also, one boilingly moralistic candidate at least has a reasonable degree of preparation for the job, while the other is patently inexperienced and unprepared for the position's inherent burden of responsibility.

Other than that, there's nothing particularly invidious or irresponsible about Will's final compare-and-contrast paragraph.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Need some help from liberal friends here

Okay, I'm feeling kind of stupid because I'm obviously missing something. I'm thinking I must be laboring under some sort of unnoticed assumption, because Obama's defense in this Taheri/Zebari kerfuffle looks to me like a confession. But Obama's spokesman doesn't seem to think she's confessing anything; she acts like she's denying something.

I don't understand, and I really dislike not understanding. So I would be very grateful if somebody could help me out here.

Here's the accusation:

In the New York Post, conservative Iranian-born columnist Amir Taheri quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying the Democrat made the demand when he visited Baghdad in July, while publicly demanding an early withdrawal.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview, according to Taheri.

"However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open," Zebari reportedly said.
Okay, so the charge seems to be that Obama asked Zebari to wait until after Bush was no longer President to sign an agreement to withdraw troops.

Now the...well, Ms. Morigi certainly seems to think she is issuing a denial:

But Obama's national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri's article bore "as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial."

In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a "Strategic Framework Agreement" governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.

Um...look, I don't get it at all. Didn't she just say that Obama told the Iraqis that they should put off signing the agreement about U.S. forces until after Bush was no longer President?

I mean...


I could use some help here, guys. What is the difference between what Taheri said and what Morigi said? I mean, substantively -- obviously she said "they should not rush through" and he said "delay" but I don't see what difference that makes.

Did I mention that the Intellectual Left reminds me of Wile E. Coyote?

Obviously it's not just me.

A new twist on fisking, and this ETK (English Teacher's Kid) loves the device

Suitably Flip sends the Obamessiah's latest speech off to his sixth-grade English teacher so that she can grade it.

HT: Ace.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oh, she MUST be fisked...

...but I don't have time to do it today.

Still, here we have about as clear an example as we possibly could have that the Left has come completely, utterly unhinged. Sarah Palin [gasp] has lived all her life in the Pacific Northwest. And there are some crazy frickin' people up there. So, you know, how do we know she isn't one of 'em?

I think we need a new phrase. "Guilt by association" seems so...inadequate in this case. Why, Sarah Palin lives in the same state as crazy people. Are you people blind, blind to the danger?????

I love this bit:

But the region also must be defined by its history of intolerance, resentment, antistatism and violence. Appearing in the region in the 1980s and 1990s were some of the most notorious "hate radicals" of our time: militia groups, survivalists, Identity Christians, secessionists, white supremacists and others.

Some simply hated the federal government, like...

THE PERIL: Wait! Wait! [waving hand in the air excitedly] I know the answer! Pick me, Miz McNicol! Pick me!

MS. McNICOL: Yes, young Peril?

THE PERIL: It's Jeremiah Wright, ain't it?

MS. McNICOL: Why, you unspeakable young racist whippersnapper! Just for that, you will stay after class and write one hundred times on the chalkboard, "It is only bad to hate the federal government if you are a white redneck Christo-nut. And George Bush isn't running it."

HT: The Corner.

On the Democratic ticket... resume goes unembellished, it would seem.

HT: Alas, I forget. Mea culpa.

My initial analysis of the Palin pick, from before her convention speech

NOTE: the following was written the day after McCain named Palin his running mate. I intended to go back and check on a bunch of the numbers, which were pulled from memory and probably inaccurate (e.g., the jump in Michelle Obama’s salary within a couple of months of her husband’s acquisition of power in the Chicago machine); and I intended to cut way down on the snark factor, out of respect for the many liberal Democrats in private life who I think far more worthy of said respect than are the parasitical, narcissistic likes of Obama and Biden. But events have moved rapidly, and I didn’t get it rewritten, and the truth is I keep these blogs primarily for as a journal for my own reference so that I can look back and see what I was thinking at various times in the past rather than as entertainment for my friends or persuasion for the masses…so it goes up. I assure my liberal friends that I am aware that the tone is uncharitable, unhelpful and inappropriate. I am, you perceive, something of a jerk; all I can say is that most of the time I try to keep myself on something of a tight leash.

I just want to point out my prescience on the comparison of small-town mayorial experience to experience as an Alinsky-esque community organizer; turns out Palin saw the same comparison and made it one of the most memorable moments of her speech, with the even more delightful result that Obama publicly soiled himself in apoplectic rage over the idea that somebody might denigrate the critical and noble job job of talking people into pestering the government to give them money community organizing – under the apparent impression that in so doing he was proving how much more than Palin he is in touch with ordinary Americans. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Oh, and one other thing: because I genuinely am interested in understanding the people who disagree with me (it’s not just a pose, you know) I’ve been looking around, since writing this, to find out how exactly Democrats expect Obama to bring “reconciliation” -- as you will see from the text, they seem to be using the word "reconciliation" in some sense that at my most charitable I would have to call "idiosyncratic." When people who aren't stupid say something that seems stupid, it's usually worth your time to dig into it and figure out what it is they're really trying to say; so I've been trying to do that. I haven't found much other than sheer blind faith; about the only thing I have to work with is one common, but I think patently unseaworthy, theme: the idea that Obama will “inspire us” in some way, that he will “inspire” us to work together, that he will “inspire us” to make change happen,
etc. Um, not to be unkind, but this presupposes that most of us are lacking bullshitometers, and haven’t noticed the tremendous gap between the Obama rhetoric and the reality of his record (and even the reality of his own campaign’s more-or-less constantly verbally abusive, bad-faith behavior). And maybe, given that Americans don’t study rhetoric in high school any more, that’s a perfectly valid presupposition. I kinda doubt it, though. Furthermore, look at the way Obama's supporters have been savaging Palin and her kids. Where is the New Politics that Obama was supposed to inspire? As far as I can see, the politics of Obama's public supporters is savage to the point of insanity. Either Obama has no influence at all on people like, oh, say, the mainstream news media (in which case why are we electing him?) or else his influence is negative (in which case the sooner he is banished from the national political scene the better the Republic's chances of survival). So, um, I guess I ain't buyin' the inspiration thang.

Certain Democratic commentators are delighted with McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin, on the grounds that it destroys McCain’s argument that Obama is too inexperienced. We can return to that in a moment, but first let’s turn to something that seems blindingly obvious to me but apparently has not occurred to these commentators: Palin does far more damage to Obama’s twin mantras of change and reconciliation, than she does to McCain’s arguments to experience.

I think it’s hilarious that Democrats simultaneously (a) talk about Obama’s ability to “bring America together” and “unify America,” and also (b) compare Obama to Lincoln. Um…on the reconciliation thing there…y’all keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it is. Lincoln may have been one of our two greatest presidents, but nobody in the entire history of the world has so notoriously sucked at “bringing America together” than Lincoln. Um – does the phrase “American Civil War” mean anything to you people? Oh, wait, sorry, I forgot – you went to government-run American public high schools. My bad. Let me fill you in a bit: 620,000 dead Americans. (Which is, to say, about 150 times as many as in Evil Chimpy McHitler’s War.) Brother against brother, father against son. Bitterness that lasted more than a century and was still causing bad blood in state legislatures as recently as fifteen years ago.

Yeah, quite an architect of reconciliation, that Abe Lincoln. That is, if by “reconciliation” one means, “civil war.” And come to think of it, maybe that is what the Democrats mean by the “reconciliation” they expect the Obamessiah to bring to America – since that's pretty much exactly what he’s already brought to the Democratic Party.

In all seriousness, Obama is considered to be a “reconciler” only by liberal Democrats, for the simple reason that Democrats apparently do not think reconciliation involves compromise and good will and seeing the best even in those that disagree with you. Instead, so far as I can see, the Democrats that trust Obama to bring “reconciliation” think that “reconciliation” is brought about by shameless tokenism. Obama has spent his life in the company of domestic terrorists, of lunatic-fringe, paranoid, hate-filled black supremacists, and of the particular American subculture that is composed principally of folly-ridden, self-impressed soi-disant “geniuses” (“geniuses,” that is, in much the same sense as is Wile E. Coyote), a subculture populated by intellectuals who confuse intelligence with wisdom and can no more speak of “rednecks” and “fundamentalists” without sneering than they can fly. His politics are extreme as they can get, and he responds to any suggestion that his ideas might be mistaken or misguided by accusing those who disagree with him of racism, and asking the federal government to silence them by threat of legal action, and encouraging his cult members to drown them out by the raucous invocation of the mystical incantations known as “talking points.” No sane person could possibly think Mr. Keep-Infanticide-Safe-and-Legal a likely candidate for healing the divide between Left and Right; and therefore, if one wishes to think the best of those who disagree with one and therefore do not wish to question their sanity, one is forced to ask, “What in God’s name do the Left mean when they use that word?” And as far as I can tell the answer is simply: in the mind of those on the far Left, if we elect him as President, that will prove that we aren’t racist, and that will make all our racial problems go away.

And if that’s really what they think, then they have the approximate cumulative intelligence of a school of guppies. I presume that’s not really what they think, of course, but if you ask me by what reasoning process they have concluded that Obama will unify this nation in any meaningful sense, all I can say is: beats me like a stepchild, Sugarlips. Maybe some of my liberal friends will generously forgive the chain-yankingly obnoxious tone of this piece and enlighten us.

But Sarah Palin, on the other hand? Well, she’s got an approval rating of 75% -- among the Democrats in her state. After two years of governing them, which means that they’ve seen how she actually performs, and they still think she rocks.

What do you think Mr. Reconciliation’s approval rating is among Republicans in his district? For that matter, what do you think his approval rating is among Democrats nationally? – excluding black Democrats, of course, who would approve of a Labrador retriever as a Presidential candidate as long as it was a black one.

So if it’s reconciliation you want, and an appeal that crosses party lines, Sarah Palin has demonstrated that she has the goods. Obama? I think all you have to do to see how much of a “unifier” Barack is, is to look at the 2008 Democratic primary experience. As far as I can tell, by “unifying the American people,” Democrats presumably mean, “inspire the creation of an entire political movement that denotes itself by the acronym, ‘NUMA.’” Maybe he can get O-Zone to play “Dragostea din tei” at his next political convention. (You know: “NUMA, NUMA, yay! NUMA, NUMA, yay! NUMA, NUMA, NUMA yay!” Granted, I took a few spelling liberties with the original Rumanian there…)

Then there’s “change.” Here again, Obama talks about change. But if we look at deeds rather than words, what do we find? We find a man who has followed the tried and true methods of political advancement: got himself the right sponsors, got a spot in the Daly-family Chicago political machine, served as a loyal partisan soldier and was rewarded by the machine’s arranging for his opponent’s sealed divorce records to be opened once it became obvious that Obama was getting his butt kicked in the fair election, got a good old-fashioned cash infusion in the form of a plum job for the wife and rewarded his wife’s employer in the good old-fashioned way by steering more than a million dollars of taxpayer money into the coffers of said employer.

I can't remember the exact numbers so I made them up because I don't have time, what with the hurricane, to go hunt them up at the moment. You guys got that? The numbers are made up. If the Republicans were really going to go with this line of attack they would obviously have to go get the right numbers. I'm just illustrating the graphic I think they ought to generate. THE NUMBERS ARE MADE UP. We're clear on this, right? Made up. Okay.

If Obama’s such an agent of change, how about you guys show me some? Find me any point at which Obama bucked his party’s powers-that-be, up until the point at which political calculation told him he could leapfrog to the head of the line. Show me any change, even a tiny one, that Obama has brought, and compare it to what happened in Juneau when the Sarahcuda showd up. In the inspired words of I forget which pundit, “Obama loves the future, because that’s where all his accomplishments are.” It’s no wonder that Obama never invokes change without invoking hope as well – he certainly can’t invoke his past record. If you’re gambling on getting change from Obama, you’d bloody well better be good at hope. Let me guess: you also hope your alcoholic brother-in-law is sooner or later gonna pay back that money he owes you, right?

Again, one has to wonder, what can the Democrats possibly mean by the word “change” when they associate it with Barack Obama, whose career is pretty much a textbook, by-the-numbers example of the dirty, crony-machine-playing career politician? And here again, the only thing I can figure is that the “change” that Democrats have in mind is a change in which all the crooked, self-serving, career-parasite Republicans are kicked out and replaced instead with crooked, self-serving, career-parasite Democrats. I can understand that that’s a change Democrats can believe in. It’s also, if you go by Barack Obama’s past deeds rather than his promises, the only kind of change you could possibly think Obama likely to bring about.

But Sarah Palin, on the other hand?

Sarah Palin has brought an earthquake to the Republican Party machine in Alaska – that is, to her own party. When she first took office as mayor, her husband didn’t get a 180% raise – instead, she promptly gave herself a 60% pay cut. (Anyone want to look up the Obamessiah’s voting record on questions of pay and benefits for legislators?) Granted, when her husband’s company did show up to do business with the state, her husband got a nice fat…oh, no, actually, he resigned in order to avoid conflict of interest, just like the scrupulously ethical Michelle Obama resigned from her hospital job…um, oh, sorry, never mind. Um, nice weather we’re having…yes, how about we go back to Palin? Let’s see. Instead of playing ball with the powers-that-be in the local political machine, she took them on – and beat them; beat ‘em in elections, fired ‘em from their cushy boards, indicted ‘em in the courts. Those cushy little sweetheart deals the Big Three oil companies had negotiated with Palin’s predecessor? Cancelled, and new rules implemented to make sure Alaska’s citizens could be comfortable that no kickbacks were taking place, and oddly enough once kickbacks ceased to be feasible the big corporations that had been awarded the contract to begin with decided they didn’t want to play at all, and the pipeline winds up getting built by a company whose business is (gasp) building and maintaining gas pipelines. Odd, that.

See, when Sarah Palin shows up, change happens, baby. Been happenin’ her whole career, since back in the days when she was first Mayor of W-town. (Not impressed with that experience? Understandable. Then again, during that same time period Barack was a “community organizer;” I’m sure you’re impressed with that heavy burden of responsibility. [NOTE: I actually wrote this before Sarah made the same comparison in her convention speech; so I’m pretty proud of myself about that one.]) You understand what I’m saying? You want to hear fine-sounding speeches about change, then you want Barry; but if you actually want real live change that actually happens, then you want the Barracuda. If I may put it in the straightforward, vivid language of my fellow good ol’ boys: like most of the other intellectuals in the academic echo chamber the Democratic candidate has lived in all his life, Barack Obama is good at bullshittin’. Like most of her fellow blue-collar working men and women here in this great country, Sarah Palin is good at gettin’ shit done. If you need somebody to sit on a panel or stand at a podium and pontificate about change, why, sure, Obama can handle that. But if you want actual change to really happen, in real life? Um, not Obama’s department – or at least, never has been up to now. But the state of Alaska, and that state’s Republican Party machine (or the tattered remnants thereof), can testify that when Sarah Palin comes to town then you better grab hold of somethin’ that’s nailed down tight and hang on for dear life.

The strategy for the Republicans ought to be to run Sarah Palin against Barack Obama, not against Joe Biden. You got a black guy? Fine; we have a woman; only we like her because of what her past actions say about her character, not because of her genetic makeup (this, for the Democrats among you, is the difference between an affirmative action token and a candidate of demonstrated merit); plus if you criticize her she comes back and answers your arguments rather then curling up in a wounded little ball and accusing you of sexism. You want change? Palin brings it, hurricane force, everywhere she goes – always has, always will; Obama mellifluously congratulates himself on his ability to sound really good and look really sexy while orating about the kinds of changes he’s going to bring in the future even though he’s never brought anything remotely resembling such changes in the past. You want reconciliation? Obama has brought civil war to the Democratic Party; Palin has the entire state of Alaska together in her corner. The end of –isms, the reconciliation of the divided American public, change to the old ways of doing politics? On all three of those points, Sarah Palin can kick Barack Obama’s ass so hard that her foot can make contact in Alaska and he’ll land in Hawaii.

But Sarah Palin isn’t even the Republican candidate for President, ‘cause there’s somebody even better ahead of her on our ticket. And when your number one guy can’t even win a comparison with our number two guy, how bad does it get when he has to match up to the Big Guy at the top?

That is, at least, the way I think the Republicans should play it.

But in actual fact, I think that ironically the reason Sarah Palin is producing such raptures among Republicans, is the very strong suspicion among the rank and file that we’d be a lot happier after four years of a Palin presidency than we’re likely to be at the end of four years under McCain – in other words, I would imagine that there’s a great big chunk of the Republican base who, like yours truly (though probably for very different reasons, since a Huckabee selection would have made lots of that same base happy while ensuring that my vote was lost to McCain), thinks that it isn’t really true to say that “there’s somebody even better ahead of her on our ticket.” I wish to goodness that Sarah Palin was ready to step in and be President right now, but I don’t think she is. But fortunately I don’t have to vote her into the Presidency; I can vote her into the Vice Presidency. Give her four years in the Vice-Presidency, and I think she’ll be ready to be the first Presidential candidate I’ve ever been able to vote for with a smile on my face. I think the “heartbeat away from the Presidency” think is, at least from the standpoint of risk management, largely bogus, because any such consideration has to be probability-weighted, and the chances that McCain will go down within the first two years are quite slim. And with two years of the Vice-Presidency under her belt, Sarah Palin becomes, from my point of view, a Presidential candidate that I would rejoice to vote for. Even right this moment, today, I strongly suspect that I’d be happier with a Palin presidency than with a McCain one, and I haven’t the slightest doubt that she’d be a vastly better President than either the Obamessiah or the Mouth of the Senate. Four years of seasoning and as far as I’m concerned…ladies and gentleman, the first female President of the United States.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Behold the power of the Sarahcuda

Feel her fury.

Dahlia Lithwick continues to make the case against her Obamessiah without being smart enough to realize she's doing it

I swear, John McCain's best friends are the people who think they're helping Obama out.

Two priceless bits from Dahlia Lithwick: every obvious metric—experience, knowledge base, decades of public service, policy experience, understanding of the world — Palin is an unserious candidate for the vice presidency of the United States.

To which any swing voter -- that is, anybody who is not, like Lithwick, hopelessly smitten with the Obamavirus, instantly responds, "And Obama is a serious candidate for President?" They really are completely and utterly blind, in their infatuation, to the glaring weaknesses of their candidate, and so they continue to scream at the top of their voices that the most important considerations in deciding who should be the Vice President, are precisely the considerations on which McCain obliterates Obama...a fact made even more damaging by the fact that most ordinary Americans would agree that those considerations are more relevant to the person who plans to assume the Presidency on Day 1 than to the person who is signing up to be the President's sidekick and who might, at some point during the scheduled four-year term, find herself unexpectedly promoted.

There's also this wonderful line, and although I know what she's trying to say, it's a bad place to go when you're supporting a candidate whose entire campaign strategy is predicated on convincing swing voters that the person he will be as President is radically different from the person he has been throughout his life up to this point. Here's the subtitle to the article, which Slate puts in all caps:

Joe Biden can beat Sarah Palin by pretending she's a man. And that he's not Joe Biden.

When your hopes for victory depend on your ability to pretend effectively that your opponent is not who she really is and that you yourself are not who you really are, perhaps you are not the right person for the job? Just a thought there...

Here again, showing the casual attitude Lithwick has to dishonesty in the pursuit of political victory:

You will need to match Palin point for point in the blue-collar-off. If she invokes her sister's gas station, bring up your cousin's Laundromat. (Try to locate one in the coming days, if you aren't in possession of one already). further comment required from me on that point, I think.

One last unintentionally funny bit from Lithwick -- whose entire article is shot through with snide, bitterly dismissive and patently unfair snarking at Sarah, each of which snarks Lithwick clearly thinks is a sparkling sally of sophisticated wit:

Caution: Sarah Palin is funny. And it's the kind of jeering Ann Coulter-funny that's assuredly going to irritate the heck out of you.

Actually, Dahlia, I've read some Ann Coulter, and I've seen lots of Sarah Palin's humor (such as the clip below, in which Craig Ferguson certainly seems neither to feel jeered at nor to be irritated), and I've just read what passes for humor in your piece, and between you and the Sarahcuda there's no question whose humor more resembles Ann Coulter's. But don't worry, your stuff didn't irritate me. I always get a kick out of seeing people torpedo their own boats by mistake. You've made my day and it hasn't even really gotten started yet.

(By the way, the "jeering" and "irritating" Sarah Palin has a 75% approval rating, after two years as governor, among the citizens of her home state -- and that's if you only count Democrats. You just keep right on sneering, Dahlia, me girl.)

Here's Sarah Palin "jeering" at and "irritating" Craig Ferguson:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I'm not the only one who sees it

Actually, of course I'm not the only one who sees it -- anybody who has spent fifteen minutes paying attention to any prior Presidential campaign, and who has an IQ at least as high as the summertime setting on your household thermometer, can see the jaw-dropper of a mistake that Obama not only made when Palin's name was announced, but continues to make, as if there's not a single member of that All-Genius Campaign Advisory Team who has any more of a clue than the would-be Next Leader of the Free World and Savior of the Planet.

But Ace lays it out with rather more gusto than I do -- also, of course, being Ace, rather than more profanity. For example:

It's just that... she... is... not... running... for President. But Obama is elevating her to the presidential level. So the race, it seems, consists of two candidates of presidential timber on the Republican side, and one weak, confused jackass on the Democrat side.

And somewhere Joe Biden is talking to an unenthusiastic crowd of three dozen people, half of whom were confused by his constant mentions of "Scranton" and showed up in the erroneous belief that he was Dwight K. Shrute from The Office.


But McCain and Palin are just now outright [very creative but very bad neologism] [Obama]. He probably is smart enough to know he's doing all the wrong things, but he just has no idea of what else he can possibly do.

And neither, it seems, does his brain-trust of 300 super-talented scary-smart advisers, who will similarly respond with open-mouthed stupidity if, God forbid, he calls upon them for advice in dealing with Vladimir Putin.
So, voters of America, if Obama becomes President, and Putin or al-Qaeda do something that is both deadly-effective and completely unforeseen by Obama and his team, how will The One respond in that time of crisis?

I'd say we all know the answer to that question now.

I have a good friend who I think is a more or less liberal Democrat, though he may just be somebody who (like me, before Palin showed up) looks at Republican candidates and thinks, "Like I'm gonna vote for that." (Obviously we don't talk politics much.) At any rate, his reaction to the Palin pick was a head-shaking remark about how "scary" was the thought of Palin's having to manage the United States in a crisis situation. Um, well, the thought doesn't really thrill me, actually; which is why I'm glad I'll be voting to make her Vice-President rather than President.

But now you've seen how the Democrats' candidate for the Presidency responds when the heat is on.

Are you scared yet? Because God help you, you should be.

The best attempt I've seen yet to capture what it is about Sarah Palin

Bill Whittle, at National Review, nails it -- at least, this is precisely why I've been walking on air ever since I found out that Palin was McCain's choice. He even has the italics in the right place:
She is so absolutely, remarkably, spectacularly ordinary. I think the magic of Sarah Palin speaks to a belief that so many of us share: the sense that we personally know five people in our immediate circle who would make a better president than the menagerie of candidates the major parties routinely offer. Sarah Palin has erupted from this collective American Dream — the idea that, given nothing but classic American values like hard work, integrity, and tough-minded optimism you can actually do what happens in the movies: become Leader of the Free World, the President of the United States of America. (Or, well, you know, vice president.)


A candidate who is young, funny, well-spoken, intelligent, charming, drop-dead gorgeous — and one of ours? Is this actually happening?
Exactly, exactly, exactly, he has word-for-word (literally!) exactly the same reaction I had when the news broke that McCain was going to name Palin as his running mate: "Is this actually happening?" (Okay, I exaggerate: I think my exact words -- which I blurted out loud even though I was alone at the time -- were, "Are you kidding me? Is this really happening? Are you kidding me?" So it wasn't literally word-for-word the same reaction. My apologies for the hyperbole.)

One of the many, many signs that the Obama campaign is as clueless as...sorry, simile fails me...clueless beyond what one would have thought to be the limits of human cluelessness, is this: they have come out, even after that speech, complaining with a straight face and apparent sincerity that Sarah Palin is out of touch with ordinary people. Sarah Palin?!? Sarah Palin is out of touch with ordinary people?!?? Sarah Palin, whose speech and (more importantly) personality and character so moved and exhilarated my non-political farmboy father, who so far as I know has never in his life donated a penny to any political party, and who watched the speech because he was curious about Palin after hearing me say I was excited about her...Sarah Palin, who so moved and exhilarated my father, I say, that he literally couldn't sleep for the rest of that night?!?? (Why bother to sleep if you already feel like you're dreaming?) The Sarahcuda, who is the first candidate in my lifetime to walk onto the national stage and instantly cause an entire nationful of ordinary, hard-working, blue-collar men and women (including undercover-in-Whitecollarville, stealth-redneck operatives like yours truly) to leap to their feet in incredulous delight and say, "Oh my God, I know that woman!!"??? Barack Obama, who has lived his entire life (even his childhood) in the emotional and intellectual sterility of the academic hard Left and in the radical activist movement that sees nothing controversial or unusual in trying to be a Saul-Alinsky-style community organizer, or in hanging out with the Weathermen, or in the Jew-hating, paranoid ravings of Jeremiah Wright -- Barack Obama is in touch with ordinary Americans and Sarah Palin isn't?

It's obvious that even now, Barack Obama has no idea what hit him.

But he bloody well knows he's been hit.

I owe a hat tip on that article to Rachel Lucas (warning: that particular post is okay but if you go spelunking about the rest of her blog, be warned that she rather aggressively has no children and therefore goes to no trouble whatsoever to stay family-friendly). Rachel is also a completely smitten (politically, that is) Sarahcuda fan, and indeed I believe it's Rachel who coined the "Sarahcuda" moniker that (like "Shrub" for Dubya, The Little Bush) is, as soon as you've heard it, the obviously correct tag for the Thrilla from Wasilla. (I was pretty proud of that last one until (a) I saw it someplace else, so apparently it's pretty obvious and there's nothing special about having thought it up, and (b) I saw "Sarahcuda" and knew, "That's the one.")

Rachel, by the way, is into creating her own demotivational posters, and she's having a field day with Palin posters. I presume (since lots of them get e-mailed to her by other people) that they aren't copyrighted, or at least that there's no objection to they were meant to be shared with the wide, wide world, and therefore I happily pass on to you this one, from a post Rachel entitles happily, "Palin makes me want to dance:"

But my favorite so far, I think, is this one:

Friday, September 5, 2008

If Barack Obama actually manages to lose the unlosable campaign, here's what history will say

The moment he lost it -- which is to say, this campaign's version of, "I won't hold my opponent's youth and inexperience against him": Historians won't say that it was when John McCain chose Sarah Palin. They will point to the following words:

"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency." With those words, Barack Obama, like the Russian sub captain in The Hunt for Red October, torpedoed his own boat by mistake. Whether the damage is fatal remains to be seen; but that it was both unbelievably stupid and devastatingly damaging, is I think beyond question.

A whole post, maybe series of 'em, coming on that one.

The fatal character flaw that doomed him: Vanity. (I think I'll do a whole post on that one, too, someday when I have time.) Not pride; not arrogance. You must remember that vanity, while a vice, has this endearing and pitiable quality that pride and arrogance do not have: it is based on a core of deep insecurity. Obama is not pride or arrogant; he is vain, a proposition I hope at some point to have time to defend with lots of evidence drawn from his behavior over the years. And, tragically, he was put into a position in which vanity was, of all the character flaws he could possibly have suffered from, the one most capable of sinking all his hopes.

The crippling misfortune he was unable to overcome: His utter inability to understand any American who does not come from the extremely provincial far-left academic subculture into which he was born, in which he was raised, and in which he has spent all his life. There is no subculture in America that makes more noise about diversity; but there is no subculture in America whose members are more smugly ignorant of anyone other than their own kind, nor less interested in relating with those others on a level of genuine mutual interest and equality (Obama and his friends can patronize the common man, or they can sneer at him, but they do not understand him and, even worse, have no idea how deeply out of touch they are and how severely limited they are by their own provincial ignorance). The greatest mismatch in this campaign is not the mismatch between McCain's and Obama's experience, vast as that mismatch is, nor between McCain's and Obama's oratorical ability, vast as that mismatch is. It is the Great-Rift-sized gulf between how well McCain and his team understand Obama's team and the swing voter, and how utterly Obama's team fail to understand McCain's team and those same swing voters.

Those words, that flaw, and that misfortune may not be enough to sink even as incompetent a campaigner as Obama in this Year That Should Be Of The Democrats (at this point I'd say it's a pick-'em); but if he does indeed go down to ignomious defeat (and in this year, any Democrat who can't beat a Republican in a national election is deserving of ignomy and permanent retirement from politics), then I believe history will deliver an analysis pretty much along the lines I just laid out briefly here in this post.

A very quick note because I don't have any time, on the competence of Barack Obama's campaign

WHAT THE !@#$!#$!#$! ARE THESE 1#$!#$!#$!ING 1#$!#$!# !@#$!@S OF EXCUSES FOR CAMPAIGN MANAGERS 1#$!#$!#@$!# THINKING THEY'RE DOING???????????????????? HAVE THEY ALL BEEN PAID OFF BY JOHN MCCAIN????? I MEAN, WHAT THE 1#$!##$!ING !#$!#@$!#$# OF A $!#$!#$!#ING !#$!@$!@#$!#$!#$!#@$!@#$!#$!#$!#$!#$!@#$!#$! ARE THEY THINKING????

More details later, probably in three or four days given that this is my weekend with the kids.

But seriously, John McCain handed Barack the Presidency on a sliver platter. A ten-year-old child could have told Barack what to say and the campaign would have been over. Instead Barack has decided to hand the Presidency right back and say, "No, thanks, I don't want it; you take it instead."

Seriously, I cannot BELIEVE what I'm watching. Where the !#$!#$!#$!# did he find these idiots (by which I mean, whoever is giving him the jaw-droppingly abysmal advice he seems to have been taking ever since the Palin pick was announced)? And why the !#$!#$!#$!##$ does a man who thinks he's smart enough to run the country, think putting his campaign in the hands of these advisors was a smart personnel decision? And the most ridiculous thing of all -- he actually is claiming that his best qualification for the Presidency is his management of his campaign for President -- a risible claim even if the campaign were being run well, but off-the-charts moronic when you reflect that it's this campaign that he's talking about.

I mean, WHAT THE #$!#$!#$!@#$!@#$$@%@#$%!#@$$@^@#$@#%?????????!?!

I'm...well, not speechless, exactly. Let's just say bereft of the ability adequately to express myself in a manner that wouldn't get me excommunicated from any self-respecting Baptist church.

Will explain precisely what I'm talking about when I get some time.

I swear, in a year when you would have thought that the Democrats couldn't lose even if they ran a poodle and the Republicans ran Mahatma Ghandi, Barack Obama may very well manage to lose -- thus making history as being, not the first black President, but instead being the most breathtakingly incompetent candidate in the entire history of world democracy.

And I don't think that statement is anywhere near as hyperbolic as it sounds. (In other words, sure, I'm exaggerating, but not as much as you might think. This man is a SERIOUSLY incompetent campaigner, and he is going to come bloody close to managing to lose what I would have bet the farm was an unlosable campaign.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What I think Palin should go for in her convention speech

I think she should emphasize, heavily, the following three points:

1. She should cast herself as the candidate of proven change -- but she should do so without making a single reference to the historic nature of her candidacy; her mantra should be that she changes things, rather than she merely, by virtue of her genetic makeup, symbolizes change. Obama's constant refrain is, implicitly, that he represents salvation for the country because of who he is; Palin's emphasis should be on change as being what she does. Without drawing explicit comparisons between herself and Obama, she should make it clear that throughout her entire political career, as soon as she shows up, change starts happenin', baby, usually to the mingled astonishment and chagrin and rage of the political powers-that-be. It's easy for any genuinely independent, undecided voter to connect the dots and compare the guy who's really good at talking about change (but whose entire career, when one looks at deeds rather than mere words, is the standard career of the moderately sleazy Chicago-Democratic-machine politician), to the woman who actually has gone in and changed things everywhere she's gone politically.

2. She should cast herself as a candidate of national unity and reconciliation. She should point at her extraordinarily high cross-party approval ratings in the state she has governed for the past two years. She should state openly that while reconciliation does not mean that people who disagree with her political views should feel obliged to vote for her, she still does believe that it is important to identify and respect the admirable qualities and good intentions of people on the other side of the aisle -- and then she should emphasize that her past record (appointing Democracts as well as Republicans, gaining the approval of all kinds of different Alaskans) shows that she understands how to reach out even to those with whom she disagrees. She should say that nothing is gained by accusing other people of bad motives when other explanations (such as simple disagreement on principles) will do just as well, and say that therefore she pledges that nobody who attacks her political opinions and positions need ever fear that she will react by accusing them of sexism. She should end up by saying that there is one group of Alaskans who genuinely, deeply despise her -- and that group is not Democrats. It's the fat cats of the corrupt Republican machine. With everybody else, she gets along fine.

3. She should emphasize John McCain's experience, and how privileged she is to have the opportunity to serve an apprenticeship under him and to learn from all the wisdom he has to offer. (Yes, I know that you guys know that I think McCain is an ass, but I'm telling you what she should say in her campaign speech.) She should emphasize how well she believes that he and she will work together as a team, and of how humbly honored she is to be able to join with him in forging a new identity for the Republican Party, a legacy that he will be able to look on proudly in years to come long after he has retired from active duty (I would use exactly that phrase, as a subtle reminder of his military record), as he and she and the Republican Party rank and file join together to carry out at every level the mindset of reform and of cleaning-up-one's-own-house that she and he have fought for independently in their own respective arenas.

The balancing trick on that third point is simply this: I believe that the core strategy of McCain's team should be -- and I suspect in fact is -- to sucker Barack Obama into campaigning against Sarah Palin. Therefore Palin ought not talk about her own lack of experience explicitly; instead she should talk about McCain's experience and her role as his apprentice, precisely in order to dangle herself as bait in front of the more and more obviously outclassed and amateurish Obama campaign team.

McCain has basically found his party's Barack Obama -- the young, potentially history-making newblood with immense talent and immense charisma and immense resonance in the base and immense crossover potential, but with hopelessly inadequate experience -- and has brought her into the race in precisely the apprenticeship role that would be perfect for Obama. Head-to-head against Obama, Palin wins in an ordinary year, though not in this year in which a poodle ought to be able to win the Presidency as long as it runs on the Democratic ticket. Granted, this year she doesn't beat him -- but she doesn't have to beat him. She just has to (a) energize the base and (b) come across to swing voters as the Republican Obama.

Here's the core thing I think has to be understood about this race; I think McCain understands it and I think the Obama campain hasn't got a clue. The dominant line that McCain is selling to the American people is, "This Obama guy is very impressive; he has a ton of promise; with a few more years of seasoning and experience he could be something really special; but he isn't ready yet, and now is not the time to gamble the leadership of the free world on a pretty but inexperienced new face."

In fact, the core line McCain wants to get across to the American people is simply that Obama may be the right guy, but he's running for the wrong office at the wrong time: he is not yet ready for the Presidency. Isn't it too bad that the Democrats put him at the top of the ticket, instead of running an experienced old hand like Hillary for President and letting the youngster serve as Vice President in order to learn the ropes?

Now as that is the core message that McCain needs to sell, the overriding goal of the McCain campaign should be to get as many voters as possible to subconsciously identify Barack with Palin. Conversely, the overriding goal of the Obama campaign should be to do everything possible to keep voters from associating the two -- and therefore every time Barack campaigns against Palin, rather than McCain, he subtly and unintentionally reinforces the core Republican point that it's Palin's spot, not McCain's, that Barack should be campaigning for.

We've already seen that bear fruit: Barack was asked by Andersen Cooper to compare his experience to Palin's, and what was Barack's answer? "Well, I'm qualified to be President because I've run a successful political campaign." That will no doubt sound convincing to Barack himself; and it will sound convincing to his political advisors and to the effete, elitist political junkies among whom he has lived as his life -- because those people are actually impressed by political campaigning, seeing it (as they do) as an intrinsically valuable activity. But to the blue-collar swing voter in Ohio, that response will prove (I believe) knee-slappingly risible.

What Barack should have said is simply, "I don't think experience in that sense is actually relevant in this race. I think what matters is character and conviction and being on the right side of history..." or whatever. Barack's line should be, "I have no objection to Palin's lack of experience because I don't think experience matters for the Presidency. I'll be a great President, and I have no experience. It's not inexperience that will make her a bad President; it's her medieval views on the right to choice [blah blah blah on to the talking points]."

By nominating Sarah Palin, McCain took the risk of making his "inexperience" argument an irrelevance. But all he was really doing, was giving Obama's campaign a chance to make it irrelevant. If the Obama campaign had instantly welcomed her to the race and said simply, "We don't mind her inexperience," then the race would have ended, right then. But they're too damned stupid to have said that. Instead they instantly screamed like banshees about her inexperience, and then Barack himself, like a lamb to the slaughter, endorsed the importance of experience by trying to argue that he was more experienced...than Palin. Even if he can win that argument, every moment he spends arguing that he's more experienced than Palin (a very debatable point indeed, and I think actually by any rational standard Palin actually has the more relevant experience and certainly the more encouraging track record), he quietly reinforces both of McCain's core assertions: that experience matters (else why would Barack be so desperate to argue that he's adequately experienced?), and that Barack can't even begin to compare with McCain in terms of experience (else why would Barack be spending all his time comparing himself to the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate when he's supposed to be running for President?).

Unbelievable. You'd think a moderately intelligent ten-year-old would have been able to see that trap. But then, of course, that's not relevant, because Barack is not a moderately intelligent ten-year-old; he's a very bright forty-seven-year-old...who has spent the bulk of his life being assured by those around him that he's God's gift to a desperate nation, which is the best recipe I know of for taking a promising young individual and turning him into an adulation-addled fool.

Well, we'll see what line Palin takes in her speech. But I think if she's wise, she'll hammer those three points. Because if the American swing voter comes to see Palin as being more or less the Republican Obama, then the Democrats are, I think, totally and 100% toast. For analogies are, in the end, simple but powerful things, and the analogy the Republican Party wants the American people to draw is:

Palin is to Obama as McCain is to...oops, sorry, the Democrats have nobody in the running against McCain.

Things the Peril would like to hear Sarah Palin say in her convention speech

Actually, it's not that I think she should (from a standpoint of charity or political strategy) say them, just that I think it would be hilarious if she did.

"I think the Democrats should stop worrying about what we're going to do if John McCain dies and Sarah Palin has to run the country, and instead they should start worrying about what they're going to do if Joe Biden dies and Barack Obama has to run the country."

"You know, I said something to John about how one Democrat after another compared Obama to Lincoln. And John told me, 'Sarah, I knew Abraham Lincoln…[pause for laughter and cheers from the cooperative home-team crowd]…and Barack Obama is no Abraham Lincoln. [wait for gleeful roars to die down] By the way, I think it's important to say that I borrowed that line from Lloyd Bentsen -- I wouldn't want Joe Biden to accuse me of plagiarism."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Holy cow, can this be happening?

I didn't vote in 1984 -- I turned 18 a couple of days before the election and didn't meet the deadline for voter registration. I mean, I'm sure there was a way I could have pre-registered or something, but I didn't get around to figuring out how. So my first Presidential vote came in 1988. My choices?

George Bush the elder. Michael Dukakis.

You're kidding me, right?

Maybe things would get better next time around...

George Bush the elder, having spent four years proving that everything I'd feared about the spineless, lying jerk was true. But the alternatives? Bill Clinton. And one of the few demonstrably insane men ever to get a significant number of votes for President, Ross Perot.

Maybe 1996 would be better?

Bill Clinton, Bob Dole. (And Ross Perot, too, though most of the country had finally figured out that Perot had more ears than sanity; so he wasn't nearly as much of a factor.)

2000? Dubya, and Al Gore. We were getting worse instead of better.

In 2004? Dubya, and John Kerry. [sigh of horror]

And it was obvious months ago that 2008 was going to be more of the same: either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, versus John What First Amendment? McCain. Two more choices drawn from the same political elite classes that have misgoverned our country throughout my political adulthood.

I am unduly prone to pessimism and cynicism -- this is something I know about myself -- and so as a corrective I went hunting for some politician -- any politician -- whom I could respect. I actually found two: Sarah Palin of Alaska, and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Maybe someday, I told myself, I'll have a chance to vote for one of those two people. Didn't talk the possibility all that seriously because the Republican Party is, generally speaking, run by fools; and I'll admit that, what with the stuff that's been going on in my personal life, I haven't paid all that much attention and haven't really done a ton of research, leaving open the possibility that upon closer inspection they too would turn out to be typical politicians, just with slightly better up-front P.R. But still, from what I could see, here were two people who seemed to have a basic attitude toward government that was a lot closer to mine than one would expect a professional politician to have, and who seemed to actually get results. Jindal had his drawbacks (I'm no fan of teaching "intelligent design" in public schools, for example, but then I think the government ought to get out of the education business entirely and no politician is going to propose that). But Palin in particular was purely delightful: the scourge of career politicians in her own party, a free-spirited, blue-collar, down-to-earth lady who clearly had a great deal of personal character and a great deal of personal charm and also the same ruthless stubbornness I remembered in my own grandmother.

So I figured, nah, neither of these two will be get the nod. It'll probably be Romney or Guliani or some other standard-issue politician who has paid his party dues...

And then it was Palin. And to my own astonishment I've been absolutely giddy ever since.

For the past twenty years I've been telling people that for somebody like me, politics is a purely spectator sport, because nobody I would approve of really has much of a chance to survive the party politics that have to be played in order to get the nomination. But I forgot something very important about my Republican friends: the rank and file genuinely hate politics. When professional Democratic politicians play politics, it doesn't appear to bother their supporters much, because if you didn't approve at a fundamental level of politics-as-a-way-to-get-what-you-want, you wouldn't be a Democrat. Nobody becomes a Democrat because they want the government to just leave them alone and stay out of as many aspects of life as possible so that they won't screw up anything more than is absolutely necessary. A Democrat who is represented by a professional politician is a Democrat represented by somebody who shares the fundamental Democratic belief that political action is an intrinsically good thing.

But Republicans? A great big slice of the Republican coalition is made up of people who believe that the government that governs best is the government that governs least -- but they have no option but to be represented by professional politicians. All you have to do is look at how thoroughly and enthusiastically the professional Republican politicians reneged on every promise they made in their Contract With America to see the dilemma limited-government Republicans face.

And so I forgot something critically important. I forgot that there actually are literally millions of Republicans who would look at Sarah Palin's cheerful disembowelment of the Republican party machine in Alaska and think, "Hey, whaddaya know, there's actually a Republican politician out there who really believes what the rest of them tell us just because they know it's what we want to hear." And, too, I forgot that McCain loves to tell himself that he's a Reform Guy, so that McCain is probably the one career politician in either party who would actually place value on Palin's having played whack-the-establishment. I'm used to having a low opinion of Republicans because of the people they keep nominating, and while I had fought off my cynicism enough to recognize that it was possible to find, here and there, a Republican politician who appeared to live out the best aspects of what Republicans tell me they believe, I had not believed that any such Republican could actually find his or her way onto a national Republican ticket.

To my Republican friends: I apologize. In fact, I'm sufficiently grateful to you for nominating Palin that I will do my very best to forget that a bunch of you actually wanted to nominate [shudder of horror] Huckabee. Won't mention it again. If I can help it. Really, will do my best to pretend it never almost happened.

Now, I don't get to vote for Sarah Palin as President in 2008. But that's okay, because I don't think she's ready yet -- although, considering that my other choices are McCain, Obama and Biden, she might already be better than those three lifetime Senators. (The historical record says that if you want a disaster of a President, then by far your best bet is to elect somebody whose only life experience involves the legislature, as life in the legislature inflates the ego of the legislator while being nothing like life in executive office. The two jobs are not remotely similar, but nobody in the world has a bigger ego than a guy who has spent his life in the legislature -- and there's no worse combination than a guy who isn't qualified but think's he's God's gift. The one saving grace at the top of either ticket this year, is that John McCain at least had a life before politics and may possibly have learned something about real leadership before he entered the environment of corporate pathology that is the United States Senate.)

However, I'm looking to the future. If Palin stays in Alaska, then every time her name comes up, the same media commentators who think Obama is the salvation of the nation will complain that Palin doesn't have the right experience. I want Sarah Palin ready to go in 2012, and by far the best place for her to serve her apprenticeship is in the Vice-Presidency. Furthermore, all the talk about the "heartbeat away from the Presidency" is largely irrational since it pays no attention to probabilities, and any decision made without reference to probability-weighted risks and rewards is a foolish decision. The most likely outcome of a McCain/Palin Presidency would be that McCain, with the benefits of modern medicine, serves out his full term in full health. The second most likely outcome is that McCain will serve most of his term before going down. As you move the date of the proverbial heartbeat closer and closer to the present, the odds of its actually happining shrink ever smaller and smaller, until you get to the all but infinitesimal odds that McCain will, like the Harrison of popular myth, give his inauguration speech and then promptly die. (Don't give me Harrison as an example of, "See, it's possible!" by the way; in the age of antibiotics Harrison would have been fine and literally nobody would remember that he got a cold three weeks after his inauguration.)

So the odds are against Palin's succeeding to the Presidency without being elected to it, and even if she does, it's more likely to be late in McCain's term than early.

Now, if Palin runs for office four years from now, after four years as Vice President, will you still say that she is too inexperienced (especially if you are one of the people who has been slobbering in adoration of the Obamessiah)? I won't, at least; I'll consider her ready, and certainly vastly more likely to be a President of whom I approve than is McCain or Biden or Obama, or than was Dubya, or Clinton (either one), or Dole, or Dukakis, or Perot. But what if McCain goes down with six months left to go on his term? Will three and a half years be enough? I would think so, given Palin's proven ability to excel faster than the old pros expect her to. How about two years? Hm...well, I would imagine two years would be enough to make her the best available option. One year? After one year I don't think she'll be ready to be President by the standards I think the country ought to follow -- but by the standards I think the country ought to follow, neither Obama nor Biden would be taken seriously as a candidate, and McCain would be fairly far down on any rational person's list. Personally, I think one year as Vice President would be enough to get the Barracuda past the very low bar that is set at "better than John McCain" (who, let it be said at once, I expect to be a poor President, though not the epochally disastrous President that either Obama or Biden would be).

And if McCain pulls a Harrison and goes down minutes after taking the oath of office?

Well, at least we'll have a candidate who's more prepared than Obama is, and who has accomplished more in two years as governor than Obama's record gives us any reason to think he will accomplish if he stays in the Senate another twenty years. I think Palin's speech on Tuesday night (it is Tuesday night, right?) should include the following words:

"I think the Democrats should stop worrying about what will happen if John McCain dies and Sarah Palin has to run the country, and should instead start figuring out what they're going to do if Joe Biden dies and Barack Obama has to run the country."

I also think, given the Democrats' odd insistence on comparing their candidate of "reconciliation" to the one President in all of American history who was most spectacularly unsuccessful at bringing reconciliation to America (unless by "reconciliation" one means "civil war"), that it would be hilarious to have Palin poke fun at both the age issue and the absurdly over-the-top Obamessiah hype by saying something along these lines:

"I was talking to John yesterday about the Democrats' belief that Obama is the next Abraham Lincoln, and he answered, 'Sarah, I knew Abraham Lincoln, and Barack Obama is no Abraham Lincoln.'" But that one, of course, isn't going to happen. [sigh of cheerful resignation]

Back to seriousness: I think that no matter how this election turns out, I'll suffer under a bad President throughout at least 2009, whether that President is McCain, or Obama, or a post-assassination Biden, or a post-medical-crisis Palin. But McCain is a much better bet than Obama. And every day that McCain's collapse is delayed and Palin accumulates the experience that is, right now, the only thing she seems to me to lack, is a day that gets us closer to what I have long thought was an impossible dream:

The day in which America's President is a President who I think actually is worthy of the office.

So for the first time in my life, my vote in this year's Presidential election is going to be a vote for somebody I believe in (even though it's strictly speaking a vote for Palin in '12), rather than a vote for the guy I think will screw up the country less than my other choice. A week ago I was prepared, reluctantly, to vote for McCain as the least repulsive Democrat running. But, unless I find out something about Palin in the next few months that belies everything I've read and seen in her over the past year, this November I'll walk into the booth and for for Sarah Palin, as the Vice President whom I actually would be delighted to see serving the people in Washington D.C.

It's a bizarre feeling. Never had it before. Kinda like it, though...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The global warming debate in a nutshell

Christopher Monckton (whose integrity, by the way, I don't have any particular reason to bet my life on) writes a paper examining the IPCC's earlier conclusions on global warming. It includes such paragraphs as the following:
Such solecisms throughout the IPCC’s assessment reports (including the insertion, after the scientists had completed their final draft, of a table in which four decimal points had been right-shifted so as to multiply tenfold the observed contribution of ice-sheets and glaciers to sea-level rise), combined with a heavy reliance upon computer models unskilled even in short-term projection, with initial values of key variables unmeasurable and unknown, with advancement of multiple, untestable, non-Popper-falsifiable theories, with a quantitative assignment of unduly high statistical confidence levels to non-quantitative statements that are ineluctably subject to very large uncertainties, and, above all, with the now-prolonged failure of TS to rise as predicted (Figures 1, 2), raise questions about the reliability and hence policy-relevance of the IPCC’s central projections.

And it goes on from there with a great many detailed arguments, all eminently suitable for refutation, which refutation I would peruse eagerly. But wait a minute -- he's not falling in line with emerging truth! So the organization that invited him to write the paper puts a label in red above the paper on their website:
The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. [This, I presume, depends on one's definition of "scientific peer review."] Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. [I've written about this before: real scientists who have evidence to hand point out flaws in the logic; dishonest pseudoscientists who can't refute arguments but have political games to play, appeal to "scientific consensus" in hopes that people will skip the whole logic part -- in which they would almost certainly get their asses kicked, which is why they're appealing to "overwhelming opinion of the community" rather than to logic.] >The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions. [Then write your own damn paper and refute his logic -- which, since Monckton's paper is one of a series of a papers in a formal debate, somebody else is presumably already doing.]

Guess what? Monckton is steamed. So he's written a formal letter in which my favorite sentence is a dry, "This seems discourteous." Here's the meat of the letter:
This seems discourteous. I had been invited to submit the paper; I had submitted it; an eminent Professor of Physics had then scientifically reviewed it in meticulous detail; I had revised it at all points requested, and in the manner requested; the editors had accepted and published the reviewed and revised draft (some 3000 words longer than the original) and I had expended considerable labor, without having been offered or having requested any honorarium.

Please either remove the offending red-flag text at once or let me have the name and qualifications of the member of the Council or advisor to it who considered my paper before the Council ordered the offending text to be posted above my paper; a copy of this rapporteur's findings and ratio decidendi; the date of the Council meeting at which the findings were presented; a copy of the minutes of the discussion; and a copy of the text of the Council's decision, together with the names of those present at the meeting. If the Council has not scientifically evaluated or formally considered my paper, may I ask with what credible scientific justification, and on whose authority, the offending text asserts primo, that the paper had not been scientifically reviewed when it had; secundo, that its conclusions disagree with what is said (on no evidence) to be the "overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community"; and, tertio, that "The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions"? Which of my conclusions does the Council disagree with, and on what scientific grounds (if any)?

The last sentence in particular is the language of a man who is not afraid of debate. The red lettering is the language of a (currently anonymous) gentleman who desperately wishes to avoid debate.

I'll be interested to see the follow-up pieces in the debate. In the meantime, that red warning perfectly encapsulates the global warming "debate" as it stands today: in response to a paper rich with detailed arguments that lend themselves (if inaccurate) to ready and devastating refutation, the global-warming alarmists' response is a typographically-enriched appeal to "scientific consensus."

If you are not yourself a scientist, and you believe, on the authority of the "scientific consensus," that mankind is on the brink of causing a global climate Armageddon, then, no offense, but you are three hundred and seventy-two different kinds of stupid. As I've said before, I don't know whether CO2 is contributing to global warming or not. But I know when I'm being lied to by people who don't give a damn what's true or not and will just say whatever they have to say in order to get you to along with what they want. And if the global warming alarmists aren't utterly dishonest shills playing the credulous public for suckers, then Paul Ehrlich was right all along and "hundreds of millions of people" starved to death during my childhood while I wasn't watching.

By the way, I am not blind to the fact that Monckton has his own political ax to grind, and, as I say, I would be interested in refutation. Here is the conclusion of Monckton's paper, in which he draws explicitly political conclusions from his scientific reasoning:
Even if temperature had risen above natural variability, the recent solar Grand Maximum may have been chiefly responsible. Even if the sun were not chiefly to blame for the past half-century’s warming, the IPCC has not demonstrated that, since CO2 occupies only one-ten-thousandth part more of the atmosphere that it did in 1750, it has contributed more than a small fraction of the warming. Even if carbon dioxide were chiefly responsible for the warming that ceased in 1998 and may not resume until 2015, the distinctive, projected fingerprint of anthropogenic “greenhouse-gas” warming is entirely absent from the observed record. Even if the fingerprint were present, computer models are long proven to be inherently incapable of providing projections of the future state of the climate that are sound enough for policymaking. Even if per impossibile the models could ever become reliable, the present paper demonstrates that it is not at all likely that the world will warm as much as the IPCC imagines. Even if the world were to warm that much, the overwhelming majority of the scientific, peer-reviewed literature does not predict that catastrophe would ensue. [That's an interesting assertion, by the way. Monckton has defended it at some length here, but it's a separate topic. -- Peril] Even if catastrophe might ensue, even the most drastic proposals to mitigate future climate change by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide would make very little difference to the climate. Even if mitigation were likely to be effective, it would do more harm than good: already millions face starvation as the dash for biofuels takes agricultural land out of essential food production: a warning that taking precautions, “just in case”, can do untold harm unless there is a sound, scientific basis for them. Finally, even if mitigation might do more good than harm, adaptation as (and if) necessary would be far more cost-effective and less likely to be harmful.

In short, we must get the science right, or we shall get the policy wrong. If the concluding equation in this analysis (Eqn. 30) is correct, the IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity must have been very much exaggerated. There may, therefore, be a good reason why, contrary to the projections of the models on which the IPCC relies, temperatures have not risen for a decade and have been falling since the phase-transition in global temperature trends that occurred in late 2001. Perhaps real-world climate sensitivity is very much below the IPCC’s estimates. Perhaps, therefore, there is no “climate crisis” at all. At present, then, in policy terms there is no case for doing anything. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.

I don't know whether global warming is really a problem or not, though the more I see the less reason I can imagine to be worried about it. So farming becomes feasible in Greenland again...this is a disaster why, exactly? (Yes, I know some low-lying areas could conceivably be flooded. I have two words for you: "moving van.") But if Monckton gets nothing else right, he gets one fundamental political principle right:

"The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing."

Amen, and amen. (But then Democratic politicians would have to get real jobs...)

Monday, June 16, 2008

A vile slander against liberals

Whoever it was that started the whole business about referring to Gore Vidal as "the voice of liberalism," must really hate liberals. Is there anybody on the planet who is more of a jerk? Not more evil, or more brutal, or anything else, just more of an asshat?

I don't appreciate it when people assume that, merely because I am an evangelical Christian, I am therefore represented by Jimmy Swaggart's voice. By the same token, I hold strongly that nobody but Gore Vidal should be held responsible for that sneering, please-punch-me-in-the-nose-as-soon-and-as-hard-as-possible "voice of..." himself, and of not a single other person in the whole wide world.

INTERVIEWER: Well, it was a great pleasure talking to you.
VIDAL: I doubt that.

If he's never been right about anything else in his life, he was right about that last bit. And that's how he treats a friendly interviewer.

I know a lot of liberals and not a single one of my liberal acquaintances would be able to work themselves up to that pitch of completely unnecessary, unreasonable rudeness even if they took mood-altering drugs to rile themselves up.

"The voice of liberalism," my Gore Vidal.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A high-five to the Daily Kos

It's a rare day when you find the Kos and I on the same side. All such occasions are greatly to be celebrated, say I.

So, a big thumbs up to Woodward's Friend.

And to the CIC and Canada's hate-speech bureaucrats:

Just how freakin' insane and out of control and just flat-out lost to reason and common humanity do you have to be to get both the Daily Kos and the Redneck Peril mad at you for exactly the same reason?

I'm not, generally speaking, a fan of eugenics. But I can't help but hope to God you freak-show losers haven't bred.

Of course, this being the Daily Kos, there are commenters who can't wait to rush in and say that the CIC is on the right side because of course the article is racist (despite the fact that the article has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with race, a point that would register on a moderately intelligent puppy but is beyond the grasp of the typical Kos commenter) and racists should be silenced by government force (though those same commenters, not having the irony gene, will no doubt hop over to the next post and complain that the Right are a bunch of Nazis). But that is NOT Woodward's Friend's fault, and I refuse (unlike the CIC) to hold anybody responsible for what nutjobs say in his comments section.

So, once again: Kudos to Woodward's Friend of the Daily Kos, with whose point I am 100% in agreement, with the volume cranked to 11.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On global warming

Listen, I don't want to insult the intelligence of my loyal readers, but I could use a good rant to blow off some steam, and that is, after all, one of the reasons I have a blog. So, if you think global warming is a Serious Threat to Humanity, then you probably don't want to read what follows. Just givin' ya fair warning, that's all.

For those of you who don't know, the whole global warming thing...well, I absolutely defy you to find any issue on which all the signs shriek more loudly "FRAUD! FRAUD! 100% TOTAL BS!"

That doesn't mean that global warming isn't happening (though the more evidence rolls in the more it looks like that dog's huntin' days are rapidly coming to an end). But the only way you can believe that "science" has established that global warming (a) is happening, (b) is happening because of us, and (c) bespeaks looming cataclysm, is if you (a) don't know much about history, (b) don't know much about science, and (c) have never been taught how to tell when somebody's lying to you.

I mean, nothing personal if you've bought the hype, but the tactics are and have long been unmistakable.

I really do mean this, by the way: the thing that grabs my attention about the whole global warming controversy, is the fact that all the signs that you would expect educated people to have been trained to look for, are there in great big flashing neon...but it's like the public is functionally illiterate. Dorothy Sayers complained a long time ago that in teaching everybody to read, but not teaching people the rules of logic and rhetoric, universal education made it far easier for people to be deceived and manipulated, rather than making it harder.

But so much time and embarrassment can be saved once you know the tactics liars use to bamboozle you.

To take just one example on the global warming thing: if you have just been taught even the basic principles of scientific method and the scientific mindset, you know that real scientists hate declaring debate over...because the one thing consistent about scientific "consensus," is how consistently it is proved wrong. But on the other hand, if you know anything about con artists, you know that they hate honest and open debate and prefer silencing their critics to refuting them. You know that the stronger an honest man's case is, the more eager he is to get his opponent's arguments out into the open so that he can address them; but that the weaker a liar's case is, the more zealously he tries to ensure that his opponents remain unheard.

But one of the most striking characteristics of the whole global warming campaign is the desperation with which global warming alarmists insist that the debate is over and only vile and evil persons express doubts on the subject. At the very suggestion that a news agency might allow a "climate change skeptic" to present his case on television, the lobbying groups swing into action:

"The consensus about global warming in the science community is now overwhelming, so accusing the BBC of campaigning on such an undisputed threat is like suggesting it should be even-handed between criminals and their victims."

How's that for rhetoric? Or check out this e-mail exchange between the BBC and a global-warming activist who is incensed that the BBC has dared to report that there are scientists who say the whole thing is bunk and that evidence for their viewpoint is beginning to accumulate. (To be fair, the BBC is after all a notorious shill for right-wing extremists; so we have to cut her a little bit of slack, I suppose.) My favorite part comes about four or five e-mails into the exchange, when the frustrated activist starts to resort to threats, and also with a classic resort to obfuscatory language that no serious scientist would be caught dead using (the whole "emerging truth" thing):

Your word "debate". This is not an issue of "debate". This is an issue of emerging truth. I don't think you should worry about whether people feel they are countering some kind of conspiracy, or suspicious that the full extent of the truth is being withheld from them...

...It would be better if you did not quote the sceptics. Their voice is heard everywhere, on every channel. They are deliberately obstructing the emergence of the truth.

I would ask : please reserve the main BBC Online channel for emerging truth...

...I am about to send your comments to others for their contribution, unless you request I do not. They are likely to want to post your comments on forums/fora, so please indicate if you do not want this to happen. You may appear in an unfavourable light because it could be said that you have had your head turned by the sceptics.

Now when you see this sort of thing going on, or the posturing and profiteering of Al Gore, that doesn't mean that global warming is not happening. But it does most certainly mean that what is fueling the engine of the global-warming movement is something that is not science but pretends to be -- and that will use the global-warming scare for its own ends with a complete disregard for whether or not there is actually any reason to think global warming is happening. If it is, great, we were right. If it isn't, no problem, as long as we can keep you from figuring it out long enough to get what we want.

In other words, you're being played.

But you would only know that if you've been taught how liars operate, and you've been taught how by contrast scientists operate. Which is to say, you would have had to have been taught logic and rhetoric -- or, to put it another way, somebody would have had to equip you with common sense and a realistically skeptical knowledge of human nature.

If you had to get that from your public school education...well, then you're probably terrified that global warming will kill us all.

I don't want to wish death on anybody...

...but I'm genuinely having trouble coming up with any other solution to the Jimmy Carter problem. As far as I can tell only death will stop the man in whose honor we might as well retire humanity's trophy for All-Time Biggest Gap Between Self-Estimation and Actual Worth. Perhaps a long prison sentence for betrayal of state secrets? Permanent committal to an institution for the criminally insane? (I like the last option because it brings the word "lobotomy" into play, and any measure that would increase that pitiable gentleman's intelligence is something I think a charitable regard for the man's well-being requires us to consider.)

Oh, as far as what has triggered this rant: I thought the world of potentiality had run out of new depths to which Jimmy Carter could sink.

I thought wrong.

Not that it's surprising that Jimmy "I Was Yasser Arafat's Homeboy" Carter wants us to be friends with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A man is known, after all, by the company he keeps. And by now we all know Jimmy Carter.

HT: Gateway Pundit, who also provides us with a link to this helpful Jimmy Carter Threat Level Advisory System.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hey, I thought The Onion was supposed to be a parody site

When did they start doing straight news?

Yet Another Educational Experience Dept

First, it was the "300 plus members of the crew of the television show Ugly Betty" who were discovering to their astonishment that when a state raises taxes too high its revenues actually drop. Now the professors at Harvard are suddenly cluing into the fact that when you deliberately target the exceptionally wealthy, you are -- quelle horreur -- in fact punishing success! My God, what will these rapacious politicians think of next?

Wow, brains like that, I guess that explains how they got into Harvard, eh? (My favorite line, though to be fair I don't think Richard J. Doherty is from Harvard: "It's like Florida taxing oranges." Um...Richard...something you should know about that...oh, never mind.)

I am so grateful that I know one particular remarkable and bright Harvard-educated college professor (who probably doesn't want to be the subject of a blog post), because if it weren't for her and my deep admiration for her, I probably would be saying something really silly right about now, like, say, "There's nobody on earth more useless than a Harvard professor..." Which would be a very stupid thing indeed to say in any world that possesses Congressmen. ;-)

I would hat tip Ace except that I can't link to his post because the title of that particular post has a very naughty word in it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New blog

Pretty simple: I'm separating my politics and religion out away from my personal anecdotes and the "Dept" items, i.e., the silliness. The latter will remain at Redneck Peril, which will become a more or less controversy-free zone. The former will now live on the blog you're looking at right now, Politics of the Peril.

That's all for now, other than to say: welcome.