October 19, 2010

Souls of a Nation

My mother just ran across a poem that I had written in the wake of 9/11 and subsequently forgotten. Thought I would share it here:

Souls of a Nation

Cloudless skies of azure blue
Graceful birds of riveted steel
Unseen wires bring last words of love,
But the soul lives on...

Scorching tongues of blazing fire,
Billowing clouds of choking smoke,
Mortal vessels are broken and burned,
But the soul lives on...

Wailing sirens of red and blue
Valiant heroes of many hues,
Their hopes are crushed in a breathless moment,
But the soul lives on...

Fatherless children of nameless terror,
Motherless orphans of unspeakable tragedy,
The family grieves for what it has lost,
But the soul lives on...

Arching spires of heavenly homes,
Comforting words of divine grace,
Lives are celebrated in sacred service,
But the soul lives on...

Bloodied honor of free men,
Solemn oaths of promised vengeance,
The heart of a nation is tested,
But the soul lives on...

February 25, 2010

The Fallacy of Burger King ObamaCare

Watching today's "health summit," I keep thinking of Burger King.

Why Burger King? Because Obama keeps claiming that he's trying to find common ground - in essence, saying that he's willing to let everyone have it their way so long as everyone agrees to eat the sandwich he's serving.

Here's the problem: The meat is spoiled, and there's nothing that can be done to change that very basic fact.

The American public has taken a look at the way ObamaCare has gotten to this point and many of the specifics within it, and they've decided that they're not going to swallow it. So now Obama and his Democratic allies are desperately searching for something, anything, which they can do to change their minds.

So their solution is to go through this Kabuki dance of asking Republicans whether they'd like tomato, ketchup and/or pickles on their sandwich, or if it might be more appealing if they photographed it from a different angle. They fail to show even an iota of recognition that, no matter how many condiments you toss on top of it, the meat went bad months ago.

Once that happened, everything else became completely irrelevant. You can change the bread it's served on. You can pile condiments sky-high. None of it matters. The meat is still rotten.

Until Democrats experience that reality check, this debate is going nowhere.

February 23, 2010

The Extinction Burst

Before the 2008 election, I told my wife that I think the real reason that the media was completely tossing aside even the pretense of objectivity was that it was - to me - obviously an "extinction burst."

Consider the following:

1) The continuing daisy chain of newspaper/newsmagazine failures
2) The utter failure of liberal talk radio
3) The declining ratings of the alphabet networks, CNN and MSNBC
4) The ascendancy of Fox News
5) The enduring popularity of conservative talk radio
6) The rise of the dextrosphere and the already peaked popularity of the sinestrophere.
7) The repeated best-selling success of conservative books - not just on current topics, but re-examining political history as well (e.g., Liberal Fascism).
8) The calamitous decline in union membership outside of government.

Put them all together and what do you have? The end of the ability of the Left to completely control the narrative, to hide inconvenient truths and to pretend that opposing views are without merit or that they even exist.

I believe that the media understood very well that 2008 would be the last presidential election in which they had as much influence as they did. So they had no incentive to pretend they were objective any longer. After all, most of them wouldn't even have jobs by the time the next election rolled around anyway.

By 2012, it is very likely that neither Time nor Newsweek will even exist as print magazines. The NY Times may or may not be putting ink to paper, but even if it is there will be far fewer copies to circulate. Air America has already gone silent. Etc., Etc.

The Leftists in this country have controlled political conversation in this country for generations now. That monopoly has effectively ended, and now their agenda is being shredded daily by Glenn Reynolds' "Army of Davids" who are pointing out that the emperor has no clothes, and in fact, never really did.

So the Democratic Party had no choice but to go "all in" after the last election. From ObamaCare to Cap-N-Tax to Card Check, every liberal wet dream is on the table.

They thought "we've only got one more shot to get this through, so we've got to jam as much through as possible RIGHT NOW." They know they're not likely to get another bite at this apple for a very long time to come.

Because not only have they lost control of the message, they've run out of money. Federal and state budgets are exploding across the country as the inevitable result of decades of liberal mismanagement (see California) and the extraordinarily high cost of government union workers (see GM and Chrysler for examples of where this is heading).

The appetite for, and the ability to fund, the expansion of government is over for the foreseeable future.

We just can't afford it. Democrats knew the debt bomb was ticking, but this recession and their own irresponsibility in passing the stimulus plan, sped up the countdown timer far faster than they had planned. The Tea Party movement was a completely unanticipated development which is why they were left floundering when it took off so suddenly. They never saw it coming, and it left them angry and sputtering ineffective, inaccurate and inane responses like "Nazis," "racists," and "unAmerican."

Time has run out. The steady flow of money and muscle from their union allies is quickly drying up, and that will affect the Democratic Party's ability to remain competitive. (And why they reacted so vehemently to the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporate participation in elections.)

The Leftist agenda will always find a way to come back eventually. That totalitarian impulse isn't going to go away. It never really does as there are always people who seek to use the heavy hand of government to control other people's lives. But if it gets defeated now, it's going to have to go underground for a long time. And the actions of the Leftists for the last few years proves that they know it too.

February 9, 2010

Punching Up Vs. Punching Down

There's a reason why boxers say you should always punch up to the next higher weight class and never punch down. By taking on fighters in a higher weight class, you enhance your own reputation. When you take on fighters in a lower weight class, you elevate them to your level and inevitably diminish your own reputation in the process.

So it makes perfect sense that Sarah Palin would take on Barack Obama in her keynote speech at the Tea Party Nation confab in Nashville. What makes absolutely ZERO sense is why Obama would respond.

Today, Robert Gibbs showed up for his daily presser with a nonsensical grocery list scribbled on his hand in a juvenile attempt to mock Palin's crib notes from Saturday night. While that might be giggle-worthy to the frat boys currently running the White House so long as they're outside the view of the public, taking it out in the full view of the public shows a public already anxious over their jobs, their homes and the direction their country is taking that you're simply not taking your job seriously.

(And you also open yourself up to even greater ridicule than you directed at Palin. Smart. Real smart.)

Aside from making it obvious just how much attention that Obama is paying to Palin despite his many protestations to the contrary, it actually necessitates that even greater media attention be paid to the next appearance that Palin makes. After all, if the President is going to respond to what she said the night before, then the media needs to be there with her to find out what she said in the first place.

Like it or not, Obama has raised Palin to his equal. While he is forced, at least in some measure, to respond to the events of the day; she can pick her spots to speak or not speak. It's a fight that he simply can't win.

He can't realistically go on the offensive against a private citizen without risking a backlash. He's like a boxer with his hands tied to his sides while his opponent freely delivers jabs and body blows without fear of reprisal. So why would a supposedly brilliant president and well-run White House operation make such a serious strategic mistake?

It's because "The Chicago Boyz" are still playing small ball because it's the only game they know. They still haven't grasped the magnitude of the office yet, and perhaps they never will.

They could easily have dismissed Palin as an also-ran and her message as one already refused by the American people, and to a large degree much of the wind could have and would have gone out of her sails.

But they can't help themselves, and they - along with their media lackeys - hang on her every move. Their very attention magnifies the impact of her every pronouncement, thereby creating a de facto Shadow Presidency for Palin with their thin-skinned and churlish responses.

More than a year after Obama thought he had delivered a TKO to her political career, he's doing his very best to help her put his presidency on the ropes. And they still think that Palin is the dumb one?

January 30, 2010

Obama at the House Republican Retreat

One of my favorite bloggers, Ann Althouse, put up a post on yesterday's interaction between Obama and the House Republicans at their retreat. I'm reposting here my intial comments which I originally left at her site:

I agree with the general assertion that Obama didn't really say much yesterday that he didn't say in his SOTU speech. Nor was his tone any better. He repeatedly blamed the Republicans for his and his own party's inability to move his agenda forward. Shocker! Then he ludicrously repeated over and over again that it was the responsibility of Republicans to come to his side of the aisle.

The biggest takeaway in terms of actual news - rather than just spin - is that Obama was forced to admit repeatedly that the Democratic talking point of Republicans having "no ideas" or being the "Party of No" is, and always has been, a big fat lie. Republicans got him on the record about him having received copies of their legislation over the past year. "I've read that...", "I've seen that...", etc.

Since at least half of the Democratic electoral strategy going into the fall was attempting to paint Republicans as nothing more than obstructionists with no ideas of their own, Obama absolutely shattered his own party's plans for what he thinks was a short-term political gain. Yet another example of getting outmaneuvered in the long run.

There is a huge difference between "you haven't proposed any ideas," and "you've proposed lots of things with which I don't agree." To that end, Republicans wound up getting the better end of that argument as well. Obama was forced to swallow all his own talking points about Republicans. Go back and review Obama's many speeches about how we should pass his agenda because, hey, it's the only option available to fix a broken system. Turns out, he's been lying all along and yesterday he was forced to admit that too.

He backed Pelosi and Hoyer into a corner in the way they manage debates in the House. Every time Pelosi/Hoyer shuts Republicans out of the debate, Republicans will be able to march up to the cameras and point out how they're not living up to the bipartisanship House Republicans have with Obama. That sets up a very nasty inter-necine fight between the House leadership and Obama going forward.

Obama seems to forget he's not the entirety of the Democratic Party. He needs Pelosi/Hoyer to move his agenda. While he didn't explicitly throw them under the bus yesterday, he might as well have. He set himself up as the good guy, and the Republican caucus got to look like good guys for inviting him to their retreat and broadcasting their interactions. Guess who was missing? Guess who the Republicans immediately issued invitations to have the same kind of conversatino with? That's right. Pelosi and Hoyer. Now guess who will never show up to do that.

Now who looks like the ones who are getting in the way of accomplishing things on a bipartisan basis? That's right. Obama just set up the dynamic to make the Democratic House the bad guys...How many additional seats do you think this costs them in the fall?

January 27, 2010

State of the Union Drinking Game

Since this seems to be the day for it, let me set up the rules for tonight's State of the Union address.

1. Make sure you're not drinking anything with higher than 80 proof. Alcohol poisoning can be fatal.

2. On second thought, 80 proof might be too high. Or you'll only be able to take small sips rather than do full shots. Either way, use your discretion to avoid any unintended 911 calls.

3. Don't think that just using shots of non-alcoholic beverages is a good idea either. You're going to need the mind-numbing effects of a good inebriant to get through the entire speech. Like I said, we want to avoid any unintended 911 calls, so for your own good, make sure you're drinking something with at least minimal alcoholic content.

4. Make sure it's not rubbing alcohol.

Now on to the game itself:

5. Each of the following words or phrases will require a shot:

"fight(ing) [for you*]"
"fat cat(s)"
"let me be [**] clear"
"make no mistake"
"middle class [folks ***]"
"inherited [from the previous administration****]"
"[green ******] jobs"
"back to work"
"health care"
"tax credit"

* - one shot for any variation of "fight:" double shot if he's doing it "for you"
** - one shot for a straight-up "let me be clear:" double shot if he also tells you just how clear he's going to be, i.e., perfectly, absolutely, totally, etc.
*** - one shot for just "middle-class:" double shot if he shows just how folksy and not out of touch at all he is with ordinary folks by adding "folks." Triple-shot if he adds "hard-workin'."
**** one shot for just "inherited:" double shot if he specifically has to point out to you people who are just too dense to get it that everything bad that has happened for the last year, for the next three years, and also going back to the crucifixion of Christ is George W. Bush's fault. Obama's the good guy here who just got stuck with the mess. He's doing his best. No one told him there was math involved, and it's really, really hard. Don't forget that, champ. He won. He will trump you on that. Got it?
***** one shot for just "jobs:" double shot for all those "green jobs" that Obama has/will save(d)/create(d). And just because no administration in history has ever measured progress by the jobs they saved doesn't mean that they're just making it all up and expecting you to be stupid enough to buy into it. Really...What? Hey look over there! Squirrel!

Those are the "gimmes," and it's almost unfair to make you drink each time he uses one of these. Almost. But see #3 above. You're gonna need the "gimmes" just to make it through.

6. Now come the double-shot words and phrases:

"I understand"
"Speaker Pelosi"
"Majority Leader Reid"
"Congressional leadership"

7. If you find yourself feeling faint, dizzy or nauseous during the speech, just assume the lotus position, close your eyes and chant "November 2010 is coming...2012 isn't that far away..." over and over again until you feel better.

August 17, 2009

Why Barack Obama Is No Bill Clinton, And Why the Press Will Say He Is

While running for president in 1992, Bill Clinton famously repudiated Sister Souljah's statement that we should "have a week and kill White people." This gave rise to the term "Sister Souljah moment" in which a candidate proves that he's not beholden to his base by publicly taking on an extreme member of it. It gave many people confidence in Bill Clinton's determination to govern the nation from the center: that he wasn't your typical Democratic candidate. Clinton had an ability to position himself between the extremes of the two parties and find a Third Way solution to national issues - managing to occupy the central ground while peeling off just enough moderates from each side to maintain his hold on the presidency for two terms.

He and his political advisers poll-tested every position on a daily basis, and that's why it was never possible to nail his feet to the ground ideologically: he didn't have any guiding principles other than maintaining his personal power by doing whatever was the most popular that day. If a conservative position was popular, then Clinton was for it. On issues like NAFTA and welfare reform, he co-opted Republican support and took the more conservative position. His willingness to do so is what made Clinton so dangerous to those on the opposite side of the political aisle. His occasional support on more conservative issues kept him from pigeon-holed as just another "tax and spend" liberal like the candidates which Democrats had nominated before him: Carter, Mondale and Dukakis.

But Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton. He has never taken on the most liberal elements of his party in any meaningful way. In fact the defining feature of his presidency thus far has been to allow those very people to take charge of both the stimulus and cap-and-trade as well as his signature issue, ObamaCare. Since he has yet to make any real attempt at establishing centrist - or even moderate - bona fides to date, there is no public reservoir of public good will to fall back upon in order to cushion him from potential fallout over ObamaCare. Clinton had Sister Souljah, while Obama has Henry Gates; and that tells you everything you need to know about the difference between their presidencies.

So if the reports of a public option for ObamaCare being DOA are accurate, and health care reform passes without it; won't Obama get credit for taking a Clintonian Third Way in order to pass some kind of health care reform? No doubt the press, which is deeply invested in making his presidency seem successful, will spin it that way. They will extol his wisdom in keeping the door open to eliminating the public option, and with deep satisfaction they will proclaim that he "won."

But they will be wrong, and the general public will know it. Unlike Clinton, Obama is an ideologue not a pragmatist. He, to his core, believes that the public option is the only real solution. But if what passes out of Congress doesn't include it, he will sign it anyway. Only in the fevered minds of Axelrod and Emanuel will this be an Obama victory in any sense of the word. He would be signing a bill which clearly isn't what he wanted but is for what he is being forced to settle. And therein lies the difference between him and Clinton.

Bill Clinton and his handlers got out in front of the issue of the day, looking ahead to what the "Third Way" solution to a given problem would likely look like after the sausage-grinding of the legislative process was finished, and tried to push that eventual compromise position as early in the process as possible. Even while they were working behind the scenes to move that legislation leftward, the public face of the president was always one of seeking to bring the two sides together for a bipartisan solution to a pressing problem.

Barack "I Won" Obama has done no such thing. He has sat on the sidelines while Democrats systematically excluded Republicans from having any substantial contributions to ObamaCare. He has urged to his supporters to "punch back twice as hard" when faced with opposition. He has shown exactly zero willingness to listen to any dissenting voices and has shown exactly zero leadership in attempting to craft a bipartisan compromise. His position has been to push as hard as possible, as publicly as possible, as fast as possible, to force Congress to pass the most extreme version of ObamaCare possible. And although the White House spin operation (and their media allies) will ultimately claim otherwise, to achieve anything less than this will be a failure.

Obama and his Chicago Democrats failed to learn the lessons of the 1993-94 Clinton administration which was such a miserable failure that it resulted in the Republican takeover of both Houses of Congress. From then on, Clinton never let himself get led out too far on a significant piece of legislation. He blew in the breeze of popular opinion from one issue to the next, eschewing the most vocal voices from both sides. That way, no matter what ultimately passed, Clinton was always able to claim victory.

Obama, on the other hand, has taken a position from the far Left extreme of his party and championed it - even in the face of rising public opposition. Unlike Clinton who was seen to be sitting in the center while pushing outward on both extremes, Obama is firmly entrenched on the far Left and being pulled kicking and screaming toward the center. To the extent he gets pulled unwillingly from the position he has staked out, he will be a disappointment to his ideological brethren for being weak and ineffectual. And to the extent that he is viewed as being dogmatically tied to that extremist position from which he must be dragged, he will anger (and indeed already is angering) moderates and conservatives for being a hard-core ideological Socialist.

In short, if there is no public option, then Obama will have managed to alienate - to one degree or another - almost everybody who doesn't have a personal stake in making his presidency seem successful. Liberal activists will be disappointed that, even with substantial majorities in Congress, he failed to achieve their Holy Grail of a single-payer system. And moderates and conservatives will still be angry that he attempted to foist it upon them in the first place.

Which brings us back to the press which carried his water so willingly during the 2008 campaign. They sold their souls to get him elected, and they cling to even the most tenuous claim of victory at the end of this process. So they will spin and spin and spin, claiming that his forceful advocacy of the public option was always just an attempt to get something done. Any change at all will be trumpeted as proof of Obama's political genius. And the pundits will dutifully opine that, if not for Obama, nothing would have been done at all; so he should be given credit - even if the thing that he really wanted never happens at all.

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