Second Term Predictions Revisited

I know you’ve deceived me, now here’s a surprise

I know that you have, ‘cause there’s magic in my eyes

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles

            —The Who, I Can See For Miles

 

I am not a professional political pundit; just an opinionated guy with a burr under his saddle.  But sometimes I get pretty close to getting it right.  Unfortunately.

Back in April I posted my top 10 predictions if Obama were to get re-elected.  Well, he did (thanks, Mitt).  And while he has yet to take the oath of office for his second term, we can see that Obama has already made significant progress on a number of my predicted goals (albeit in some cases in slightly different forms than I forecast).  Let’s see how I did.

10.       Serious push for reparations.

No one in the White House has said anything about this out loud yet, but you’re already hearing something like it from other corners.  As I reported back in December, city council members in Detroit were calling for a federal bailout as the quid pro quo for 82% black Detroit’s overwhelming support of the President’s re-election bid.  They voted him in, and they expect to get some jack back in return.  Not quite “reparations,” but it’s close.

9.         EPA regulation requiring complete phase-out of gasoline engines within 10 years.

Back in April I told you EPA was proposing to increase the CAFÉ standards fleet average requirement.  In August, they did just that, raising the requirement from 34.5 MPG by 2016 to 54.5 MPG by 2025.  The idea is to reduce gasoline consumption (thus reducing dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions) by forcibly reducing the amount of gasoline cars consume.  Of course when the CAFÉ standards were originally introduced in the mid-1970s, it turned out that increased efficiency drove down the price of gasoline, leading to more people driving more miles, which is ultimately counter to both stated purposes.  Not coincidentally, the lighter weight cars necessary to meet the standards have empirically resulted in approximately 3,000 more dead Americans every year since their implementation.

Forward.

8.         Open borders and amnesty.

Obama has outlined a broad plan for immigration reform that includes citizenship for some 11 million illegal aliens, a guest worker program, and a streamlined visa process.  He’ll say it’s not “amnesty,” because it makes them pay their back taxes; whoop-de-do.  Cow-towed Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner, and new GOP stars like Senator Marco Rubio are showing signs of support for at least pieces of this plan.  Obama will achieve effective amnesty before Labor Day of this year.

7.         More “stimulus.”

He hasn’t proposed this yet, but he has steadfastly refused to consider any meaningful spending reductions.  Meanwhile Congress moves forward with pork-laden plans to spend billions on Hurricane Sandy relief, hundreds of millions of which aren’t even directed to the same time zone.

6.         Increases in capital gains taxes and income taxes on income above $200,000.

Obama got most of this already.  In the “fiscal cliff” deal a couple of weeks ago, the tax rate for top income earners above $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples) goes back to Clinton-era 39.5%, and from 15% to 20% for capital gains.  And I doubt he’s done.

5.         Elimination of 401K eligibility for higher wage-earners, and confiscation of retirement assets.

Nothing on this.  Yet.

4.         Re-introduction of Obamacare, with single payer.

This was rendered moot when Chief Justice John Roberts capitulated on the constitutionality of the individual mandate as a tax (failing to explain, of course, how Congress can have the power to compel behavior via a tax when the Commerce Clause didn’t extend far enough to give Congress the authority to regulate that very behavior).

3.         Nuclear Iran, followed by major conflict if not world war in the Middle East.

Enter Charles Hagel, Obama’s nominee to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense.  Hagel is nominally a Republican, but his foreign policy views—particularly on Iran—are to the Left of the President.  As a Senator from Nebraska, Hagel in 2007 voted against a resolution that would have labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization, despite well-documented evidence of the IRGC’s involvement in killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Hagel has repeatedly opposed sanctions, and he pushed the Bush administration to open diplomatic ties with Iran, and for the opening of a U.S. “interest section” in Tehran.  Hagel believes military options should be totally off the table in dealing with Iran; even Obama isn’t that naïve.  And it should tell you everything you need to know that Tehran itself supports the Hagel nomination—and why not, since it signals that the U.S. plans to be a paper tiger over the nuclear issue.

2.         Federal ban on handguns. 

This is on its way, more or less.  In the wake of the Connecticut shootings, gun control has moved to the top of the President’s agenda despite a recent Gallup poll showing only a whopping 4% of Americans list it as the most important issue of the day.  Look for a possible ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines (they’re “magazines,” not “clips”—stop saying “clip” unless you have an M1 Garand (and you don’t)), and increased registration requirements.  He may not get as far as banning handguns altogether, but the magazine ban would impact popular pistols like the Glock 19, Springfield XD, and Beretta 92 series.  Won’t stop gun-related crime, but it will tell the government where law-abiding citizens have guns.

1.         Dramatic shift leftward in the Supreme Court. 

This already happened to a certain extent when Chief Justice Roberts came out of the closet back in July.  What that gives you is a current lineup that actually already skews a bit left (call it 4-3-2), with only three Justices (Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas) consistently weighing in as conservative constitutional originalists.  Scalia and centrist Anthony Kennedy are both 75 or older, making them likely candidates for retirement over the next four years.  If Obama gets to nominate replacements for both of them, you’re looking at a Court that would bend Left at least 6-2-1 (if you give Roberts credit for being in the center, and not crediting him to the Left; it’s 7-2 if you don’t).  Worse, if Ruth Bader Ginsberg (79) and Stephen Breyer (74) also retire, the block on the Left would get very, very young, with all six (plus Roberts) likely to be under 60—you could see a heavy Left majority for the next twenty years or more.

So, how are we doing?  Of 10 predictions, five to some degree have already happened or are substantially under way, and we haven’t even reached the inauguration.  One has been rendered moot.  Two more show every sign of being on their way.

Check back in eighteen months and see where we are.

 

Advertisements

Back-Scratchin’ Boogie

They say that life is tit for tat, and that’s the way I live

So I deserve a lot of tat for what I’ve got to give

Don’t you know that this hand washes that one, too

When you’re good to Mama, Mama’s good to you!

                  —Queen Latifah as the Matron in Chicago

I suppose it’s the Chicago way.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our evolution into a society of moochers and looters, expecting to live—and live well—on assets taken from others.  I also pointed out that those Northeastern states seeking 100% federal coverage for their Hurricane Sandy losses were shifting to the rest of us risk and loss that they could have mitigated had they allocated some of their own resources to some advance planning and insurance.  Apparently you can now add GOP stalwart, convention keynote speaker, and potential 2016 presidential hopeful Governor Chris Christie to those ranks.  Fresh off of swapping spit with Obama just days ahead of the election, Christie has now asked for 100% federal reimbursement for New Jersey’s reconstruction costs.  

If you can’t beat ‘em, right?

Well, although the losses could have been mitigated, at least you can’t say those states deliberately caused them.  Not so for some other situations.  Case in point: The City of Detroit.

By any account, Detroit is a mess.  I somewhat inadvertently traveled there with a business colleague a couple of years ago, and downtown looks like 1980s Beiruit.  And the city’s fiscal woes are well-documented.  Well, it seems they now have found a solution for what ails them: have the federal government take the money from you, and give it to them.

A report by Fox2 Detroit yesterday quoted—and posted video—of Detroit City Council Member JoAnn Watson not only advocating just that, but taking the position that Obama owes Detroit a bailout as quid pro quo for three-quarters of Detroit area voters voting to re-elect the President:

“Our people in an overwhelming way supported the re-election of this president and there ought to be a quid pro quo and you ought to exercise leadership on that . . . Of course not just that, but why not?  After the election of Jimmy Carter, the honorable Coleman Alexander young, he went to Washington, D.C. and came home with some bacon.  That’s what you do.”

We vote for you, and you gotta come home with the bacon, baby.

At least they’re fully out of the closet as to their thought process and intentions.  Either they’re simply ignorant and think that the District just has a magic pile of money and they’re entitled to get their share, or they know perfectly well where that money comes from and are comfortable electing politicians who will confiscate as much of it as possible for them.

What pisses me off about this is it’s a problem of Detroit’s own making.  Bear in mind that the City’s fiscal situation is so bad that earlier this year it was forced to submit itself to oversight by the State of Michigan, kind of like what Greece has had to do with the Eurozone.  The main albatross dragging down the City’s finances is $12 billion in unfunded long-term retiree health care and pension costs (read: union benefits); in other words the City—largely to satisfy the SEIU—is spending itself to death.  And now, having run out of their own money, the citizens of Detroit have appointed a federal agent to take yours.

But Detroit is just a drop in the bucket.  The comic irony in Detroit having to submit to state oversight is that the City’s problems really just mirror the larger problem at the state level in Michigan.  As of 2010, Michigan had run ten consecutive years of budget deficits, and the state had $87 billion in debt.  And as with the City of Detroit, the major culprit in Michigan’s fiscal woes is spending on public employee compensation.

And it doesn’t end there.

California’s budget problems are the stuff of legend.  Earlier this year Governor Jerry Brown was forced to confront the issue and reach some kind of deal with lawmakers.  Their big-ticket item:  public employee pensions, specifically pension salaries, employee contributions, and retirement age.

In Illinois, Standard & Poor’s has downgraded the state’s bond rating due to its serious budget shortfalls.  The problem: the underfunded public employee pension system—anyone sensing a pattern here?—which is presently 43% or $83 billion short of its obligations.  This, despite a massive “temporary” tax on its residents instituted to help right the ship.  In other words, Illinois has tried to solve its crisis by taxing the crap out of its residents, and is finding there simply isn’t enough tax to be had.

New York has fared a little better, being upgraded from “stable” to “positive,” but is still looking at a $3.5 billion budget shortfall.  The driver behind New York’s issues was . . . wait for it . . . public employee pensions.  S&P upgraded its outlook on New York in large part because of reforms to the public employee pension plans.  Viewed in reverse, it was an overly exorbitant pension plan that was largely responsible for the previous weaker outlook.

The story in each of these cases keeps repeating itself.  Union workers imposed compensation and benefits packages their states could not afford; exactly the same cancer that sank GM and Chrysler.  And these were packages the government officials who approve them have no incentive to negotiate, since it’s not their money, and the unions fund elections and vote (this is entirely the point behind Governor Scott Walker’s reform efforts in Wisconsin).  To be sure, those States and the City of Detroit have other gross spending problems, from welfare programs, to overly-extensive higher education systems, to bloated bureaucracies.  But in each case, the issue is the same: the citizens of those states have voted themselves a lifestyle based on programs for which they simply did not have the money.

And now they’re broke.

Like a plague of locusts that has exhausted its existing field, they must now find somewhere else to take from in order to sustain themselves.  So they look to us, and their friend Barack Obama for relief.  Don’t think they’ll get it?  Take a look at an electoral map, Brother.  California.  Illinois.  New York.  Michigan.  That’s nearly half the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the White House in just those four States.  These States were solid blue for Obama, and don’t think he’s not in tune with the you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours score.  So although we had nothing to do with the irresponsible spending sprees, we’re going to get the bill.  They’ll now come to us and say it’s our responsibility as Americans, that we’re all in this together.  And they’ll take.  And they’ll take.

So watch for the State/local bailouts, because they’re coming, and they’re coming with your money.  And my question for you is this:

How much more of this are you going to take?

Big Tent Politics

Now I’m the king of the swingers, oh, the jungle V.I.P.

But I’ve reached the top and had to stop, and that’s what botherin’ me

I wanna be a man, mancub, and stroll right into town

And be just like the other men, I’m tired of monkeyin’ around!

            —Louis Prima as the voice of King Louie of the Apes in The Jungle Book

 

Following Mitt Romney’s loss, there have been cries from every corner about how the Republican Party has to expand its outreach; broaden the tent to embrace this, that, or the other group.  And the idea, as I gather it, is that the Party, in order for it to gain and hold power, must change its positions in order to appeal to a wider range of people.

A major focus of these calls has been on Hispanics, who this year voted 71% to 27% for Obama.  And with them now comprising about 10% of the electorate, the presumption is they are gaining in political weight.  So to combat that, apparently the wisdom is that the GOP must move to adopt some form of amnesty for illegal aliens in order to increase their appeal to the Latino voting bloc.

Why?

First, I’ve never understood the thinking that the deciding issue for Hispanic voters is amnesty for illegal aliens.  Hispanic voters, at least theoretically by definition, are already here and already have legal citizenship; they don’t need amnesty, “immigration reform,” or some kind of guest worker program.  So I don’t get underlying premise.

More to the point, you can focus group or telephone survey this thing all you want, the history in actual elections suggests that Republicans adopting amnesty programs and other pro-immigration policies simply doesn’t move the needle for them on the Hispanic vote.  Consider:

In 1984, Ronald Reagan—in the course of a historic 49-state blowout of Walter Mondale—took just 34% of the Hispanic vote.  Despite CNN’s hyperventilating that the 27% Romney received in this year’s loss reflects a major drop in Hispanic support for the GOP, in point of fact it’s not all that different from what the wildly popular Reagan won in a landslide nearly thirty years ago.

Hispanics that year made up just 3% of the electorate.

In 1986 Reagan and Congressional Republicans did exactly what so-called experts from every corner are saying is now essential to the survival of the GOP: they passed a massive amnesty bill as part of a deal with Speaker Tip O’Neill to get a future border security bill that never came.  Having done that, if we follow the current conventional thinking we’d expect the Republicans to have been rewarded with increased Hispanic support.  Wrong.  In 1988 George H.W. Bush lost the Hispanic vote 70% to 30% to Michael Dukakis, again in what was otherwise a blowout election.  That is, the Republicans passed amnesty, and their percentage of the Hispanic vote actually went down.

Bush 41 then doubled-down and signed the Immigration Act of 1990, which led to a significant increase in legal immigration.  How’d that go for him?  In 1992 Bush took just 25% of the Hispanic vote—less than Romney received this year—in losing to Bill Clinton.    So what we see is Reagan and Bush 41 did exactly what is now being urged by pandering—that’s what you call it when you change course or adopt policy for the sole purpose of appealing to a special interest group—on immigration, and the GOP share of the Latino vote went from 34% to 30% to 25%.

Bush 43 fared a little better with Hispanics in 2000 and 2004, receiving 35% and 44% of the Latino vote in those years, respectively.  In the interim, Bush proposed an amnesty program in 2001 and again in January 2004.  One might look at that and accept that his position on amnesty was a factor in his increased popularity among Hispanics.  But neither program passed, so I don’t see how much political mileage we can attribute to them.  And it’s worth noting that Bush 43 went to the White House after being an extremely popular governor here in Texas, where we have a substantial portion of the national Latino population.  In any event, despite his position on amnesty, and despite spending much of his presidency licking the shoes of Mexican President Vicente Fox, Bush 43 still didn’t even approach getting half of the Hispanic vote.

In other words, George W. Bush fell all over himself to court Latinos, and the majority of them still voted Democrat.

In 2008 John McCain supported a guest worker program and increased paths to citizenship (read: amnesty, just a little slower).  Yet Hispanics voted 67% to 31% for Obama.   Those are essentially the same numbers Reagan had in 1984, and not very different from the numbers Romney faced this year.

The historical fact is, despite Republicans repeatedly supporting and even adopting pro-immigration policies up to and including amnesty, Hispanic voters consistently vote about 2/3 Democrat.  As Bruce Hornsby taught us, that’s just the way it is.  This suggests to me that supporting amnesty doesn’t help the GOP; what it does is over time increase an electoral bloc—it has gone from 3% in 1984 to 10% in 2012—that they’re overwhelmingly going to lose no matter what they do.  And with 28% of Hispanics living below the poverty line, I submit that they’re voting more based on welfare and food stamps than on amnesty.

Further, say what you will about national totals, the game is still electoral votes, and that’s decided at the state level.  I don’t see the Hispanic vote making or breaking the GOP in the states that matter.  The Hispanic vote didn’t make the difference this year in Ohio.  Or Pennsylvania.  Or Wisconsin.  Or Michigan.  Or Iowa.

But there’s a bigger issue here.  The Republicans lose, and the response is that they need to change their position on issues in order to win.  In other words, they need to adopt the positions of the Democrats, because the Democrats are winning, and they’re not.  Well, that becomes the Party advocating not core principles, but its own self-existence; it doesn’t care what policies the government pursues as long as they get to be in charge.  Win for winning’s sake, regardless of where that takes the country.

And that’s a problem.

I don’t vote against Democrats because they’re Democrats.  And I don’t have the slightest interest in the Republican Party controlling Congress or winning the White House for its own sake.  If Republican policies are going to be the same as those of the Democrats once they’re in power, I don’t see the point.  And I don’t see it working, because the Republicans won’t be able to sell the Democrats’ message as well as the hipper, slicker Democrats can.

Ask yourself what the following people have in common besides being older wealthy white men:  George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney.  These are the last five GOP presidential nominees, and every one of them lost by decisive margins except Bush 43 (Bush 41 in 1988 was really Reagan’s win, so it doesn’t count), and his combined margin of victory in 2000 and 2004 would barely fill Cowboys Stadium.  And each of them wore the Republican label either while talking about reaching across the aisle and trying to look like a Democrat, or—in the case of Bush 43—while talking about being a conservative while acting like a Democrat.

The last truly successful (electorally speaking) GOP candidate was Reagan, who came from outside the GOP establishment, and who advocated being a party of bold colors, not pale pastels.  He talked and walked a true distinction in policy from the Democrats, rather than a policy of compromising conservative principles for the sake of winning.

I submit that what the GOP needs is not to change policy and become Democrats-by-a-different-name.  What it needs is clear adherence to conservative principles, and the ability to articulate them.  Rather than muttering vague generalities about smaller government (or worse, inane and meaningless catch-phrases like “compassionate conservatism”), lay out a specific plan and explain why it’s best and why it’s going to work.  That’s what Reagan did.  I kept waiting for Mitt Romney to take out a 30 minute network slot (much like Obama did in 2008 to put the Jeremiah Wright issue to bed) and lay out his plan; it never came.

The GOP’s problem isn’t that it’s not pandering to enough special interests.

The problem is messaging, and a lack of consistent core principles.

Painting By Numbers

“Mathematicians won the war.  Mathematicians broke the Japanese codes, and built the A-bomb. Mathematicians . . . like you.  The stated goal of the Soviets is global Communism.  In medicine or economics, in technology or space, battle lines are being drawn.  To triumph, we need results: publishable, applicable results.  Now who among you will be the next Morse?  The next Einstein?  Who among you will be the vanguard of democracy, freedom, and discovery?  Today, we bequeath America’s future into your able hands.”

            —Judd Hirsch as Helinger in A Beautiful Mind

 

I said last Wednesday I didn’t want to get into the deep weeds trying to break down the numbers on what happened Tuesday night.  There are plenty of theories out there, from a strong Hispanic vote, to a weak Republican base turnout, to Hurricane Sandy, etc. etc.  I don’t have the strength for it, and I’m too many decades removed from college for that sort of detailed political science statistical analysis.  And in any event, it won’t change the result.

That said, I did see something I thought was interesting.  I don’t know what I make of it, but follow me on a little mathematical exercise here.

The AP had Obama taking 61,212,519 votes out of a total of 119,413,147.  The black vote made up 13% of the total electorate, meaning black voters cast 15,523,709 ballots, using the AP’s numbers.  Obama took 93% of those votes, or a total of 14,437,049 votes.

Now, my original thought in looking at this was I assumed we’d see Obama capturing what seems like an impossibly skewed percentage of the black vote, which would indicate raw racism (i.e., blacks voting for the black candidate because he’s black).  The truth is, 93% isn’t far removed from the 95% of the black vote Obama garnered in 2008, and isn’t all that different from the 88% John Kerry (who is definitely not black) got in 2004, or the 90% Al Gore (who isn’t black but may have invented it) got in 2000.  I don’t see anything to be made there.

But here’s what I thought was interesting.

We saw above that the math indicates about 15.5 million black votes were cast.  But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 there were 38.6 million blacks in the U.S.  Of them, only 27.2 million were of voting age.  Now, I understand that that data is a couple of years old, but I can’t imagine the numbers changed all that much in two years.  So we’re talking about squeezing 15.5 million votes out of what is about a 27 million population.

Rusty, what’s the big deal?

Well, here’s the rub.  We were bombarded over the last two years with studies, reports, and complaints about how the rules were rigged in such a way to suppress black voting.

  • We’re told that, because of a racist criminal justice system, 7.7% of blacks are felons and thus ineligible to vote.  That’s about 2.1 million, using the 2010 census figures.
  • We’re told that as many as 25% of blacks lacked sufficient I.D. to comply with racist voter I.D. laws—the Brennan Center says that’s 5.5 million people, but using the Census figures it’s more like 6.8 million who, according to the victim panderers and race-baiters, were at risk of not being able to vote this year.
  • As September of this year—too late in most circles to correct the problem—reports had the NAACP saying that another 6 million blacks were eligible to vote, but simply hadn’t registered.

As an initial point, let me say that all this complaining about racist voter suppression is interesting, when we see that blacks, who make up 12% of the population, actually made up 13% of the electorate.  If The Man is conspiring to reinstate Jim Crow-style suppression of the black vote, I submit it isn’t working.

But back to our exercise.  Taking these various complaints I listed above more or less at face value, what does that do to our 2012 electoral math?

Well, we started with a total possible black voting population of about 27.2 million.  Subtract from that the roughly 2.1 million felons and you have 25.1 million.  The Left’s complaint that between 5.5 million and 6.8 million blacks were adversely affected by voter I.D. laws is patently bogus, but let’s give them credit for 1 million kept home because they didn’t have the same I.D. needed to collect welfare; that drops your voting population from 25.1 million to 24.1 million.  Then you back out the 6 million the NAACP says weren’t registered, and suddenly you’re down to a total voting population of only 18.1 million.

15.5 million votes out of a voting population of 18.1 million.  That’s an astonishing 85% turnout.

And there’s the problem.

Voter turnout nationally in the U.S. in modern times is normally between 50 and 55%, and has trended steadily downward since 1960.  Black turnout is normally a couple of points below the national average, although in 2008 it was a couple of points above the national figure at right at 60%.  Even if voting enthusiasm in the black community was up from 2008—and every indication heading into Tuesday was that it wasn’t, and total turnout was considerably lower than 2008—that doesn’t explain an 85% figure.  And even if we assume that, say, half of the 6 million who were unregistered according to the NAACP not only managed to correct that, but also to show up and vote, you’re still talking about a total voting population of only 21.1 million, which would mean a 74% turnout.

20 to 25 points (about 50%) more than normal, and 14 points above even 2008.  That is, assuming much of what the race-baiters and fearmongers would have you believe is true.

Make of it what you will.  I just thought you should know.

******************

Yesterday (November 11) was Veteran’s Day, although the federal government will celebrate it today.  To those of you who have served in our armed forces, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Forward

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

            —President John F. Kennedy, January 26, 1961

 

It’s a dark day, friends.  I confess I didn’t pick up my paper this morning, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to look at or listen to any media of any sort.  I don’t know the final counts, and I’m not interested in any kind of post-mortem.  I’m a little numb.  And I’m so very tired.

Let me say congratulations to the Left; you won the m***erf***er.  So let’s all go Forward.  Throw open the border, and start handing out the free condoms, food stamps, and gay marriage licenses.  Start the orgy of unlimited borrowing and deficit spending—after all, you don’t have to pay any of that back, so why should you care?  I say let’s put a government-built golf cart in every garage, and a government-subsidized abortion clinic on every block (maybe you can set up a drive-thru).  While we’re at it, let’s have free college so that everyone, regardless of their academic ability, can go study whatever useless tripe their heart desires, all on the federal dime.

Commence au festival.

I’m not in the habit of quoting John Kennedy, but this seminal statement from this icon of the Left brings into sharp relief where we are now.  We are no longer a nation of self-reliance and freedom.  We have become a nation of dependents.  51% of this country is now either dependent upon what the government gives them, or agrees (either because they’re so wealthy it won’t affect them or are below the income level that will be taxed to pay for it) it is the appropriate role of government to take from others in order to give it to them.  We are a nation of moochers; looters, holding hostage the productive minority in order to take by force the value of their effort.

It’s a form of slavery.

Oh, there’s the silver lining in that the Republicans kept control of the House.  Theoretically that would ensure gridlock in Congress, and that would be a good thing.  But the GOP establishment long ago became little more than socialism-Lite, and I have no illusions that John Boehner is going to stand up to this President.  Even if he does, that’s not going to stop the endless river of regulations that will continue to pour forth from EPA, HHS, and others, choking what life is left out of small business.  Nor will it stop Obama from an increasingly bold use of unconstitutional fiat power to legislate by executive order.  He’ll claim it’s the Republicans being unwilling to compromise—read: give in—and that he has to act for the good of the American people.  And the 51% will gleefully cheer him on.

And nothing is going to stop the damage Obama will do through the judiciary.  He’s likely to get at least two, maybe as many as four Supreme Court appointments in the next four years.  He’ll get literally hundreds of lower appellate and district court appointments.  And he’ll fill them all with activist Leftists from Harvard and Yale who will then be on the bench for decades, possibly completing the dismantling of the Constitution.

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments are already all but gone, as the States have become little more than subordinate branches of the federal government.  The Commerce Clause and Taxation power—thank you, Mr. Chief Justice Roberts—now give the District almost unlimited power to coerce or control private activity.  The separation of powers is becoming increasingly illusory.  In the next four years we’ll continue to see erosion of the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion in the name of “separation of church and state,” and of speech as the “fairness doctrine” is reinstituted to shut down talk radio.  The Second Amendment is in jeopardy in its entirety.  Your Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures will be trimmed back to further the government’s interest in maintaining information necessary to manage its increasing control over healthcare.  And on and on.

And there won’t be any going back.

But don’t worry.  Your federal government will continue to take billions of dollars from you to “invest” in businesses that produce goods for which there is no market.  It will take more still from you to subsidize the hiring of thousands of teachers who will be forced to teach the answers to standardized tests rather than the concepts underlying their various subjects, and who won’t be held accountable for actual education.  An aggressive and ambitious Vladimir Putin surely will be no problem once Obama bends over, er, shows him just how much “flexibility” he now has.  And I’m certain those radical Islamo-fascists will be happy to leave us all alone once Obama can finally go over there and kiss their feet.

In the book Atlas Shrugged, oilman Ellis Wyatt got rich by discovering a way to squeeze oil out of depleted shale deposits.  He applied his effort and talent and did what no one else could, and he created thousands of jobs and supplied millions with affordable energy in the process.  He created a good.  But when government redistribution of resources in the name of “fairness” (read: taking from those who produce to give to those who don’t) left him without sufficient transportation to get his product to market and a special tax levied on him to pay for administering that redistribution, he had enough.  He walked away, leaving his oilfield permanently on fire, and a sign that read “I am leaving it as I found it.  Take over.  It’s yours.”

I took the flags off my martial arts uniforms.  I don’t think that country exists any more.  And unfortunately, Reagan was right: there’s nowhere left to run.

The Endgame

“A man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him.  At that moment, a man finds his character.  And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.”

            —Hal Holbrook as Lou Mannheim in Wall Street

 

We’re down to crunch time, and I remain cautiously optimistic that tomorrow we will manage to step back from the abyss.  We attended 7:30 a.m. Mass yesterday, and a service that normally sees the sanctuary at about 40% capacity was closer to 80% full.

I took that as a good sign.

If you haven’t voted, make sure you vote.  Make sure your spouse votes.  Make sure your friends vote.  Drive them yourself if you have to.  This is especially important for my friends in Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin; every single vote matters.

Perhaps just as important, talk with your friends who somehow may still be undecided.  Forget the true believers—can’t do anything about them now.  But if you know a fence-sitter, calmly ask them to consider a few things.

First, even after four years in the White House, this President remains woefully inexperienced and ill-equipped for the job.  He’s never built anything.  He’s never employed anybody.  He’s never managed an enterprise in which he was responsible for delivering any kind of results.

Second, Obama himself told us in 2009 that if he didn’t have the economy turned around in three years, we should fire him.  Today U-3 unemployment is at 7.9% (I bet you a million dollars that figure gets revised upwards after the election), a tick higher than when he took office.  Real income is down.  Gasoline costs an average of $3.57; it was $1.79 when he took office.  Obama brags—disingenuously—about “saving” the U.S. auto industry, but bailed out GM and Chrysler are both shipping their manufacturing jobs overseas.

Third, do you really want your federal government to be doing what it does in secret, or by unconstitutional executive order?  Forget the substance for a second and just consider process.  Obamacare was written behind closed doors, and passed on virtually zero notice with no one for or against it having any opportunity even to read the thing.  Obama has repeatedly altered or eliminated federal statutes by executive order, thus taking it upon himself to change acts of Congress by unilateral fiat.  This is not how government in a free republic is supposed to function.

Finally, wouldn’t you expect an incumbent President asking for a second term to focus his sales pitch on all the great things he’s done with his first term?  That’s what Reagan did in 1984.  Obama, for his part, has gone to some lengths to say as little as possible about what he’s done over the last four years.  He’s been all about demonizing Governor Romney, reminding us that Bush sucked, and pushing mindless, meaningless slogans and catch-phrases.  He’s offered nothing substantive.  And the best his surrogates have been able to do in these last days of the campaign is to threaten that black people are going to find you and harm you if you vote for Romney.

We must continue to pray and believe that there are enough rational informed people left to stop this thing.  So here’s to starting to take this country back, and I’ll see you on the other side.

And as for Bill Maher and his army of rioters, black or otherwise, I’m not afraid.  I’ll have my Lone Star and Gadsden flags flying at my house on Tuesday, so they’ll know where to find me.  But be warned: I have 100 pounds of very territorial German Shepherd Dog, and everyone in my house is armed.

Drinking the Kool-Aid

“We’re going inside of ‘em.  We’re going outside of ‘em.  Inside of ‘em! Outside of ‘em!  And when we get them on the run once, we’re going to keep ‘em on the run . . . We’re gonna get ‘em on the run, we’re gonna go, go, go, go!  And we aren’t going to stop until we go over that goal line!  And don’t forget, men — today is the day we’re gonna win.  They can’t lick us . . . The first platoon men, go in there and fight.  Fight, fight, fight, fight!  What do you say, men!”

            —Knute Rockne

 

I went to early voting yesterday.  And I have to confess I’m starting to drink the kool-aid.

Yes, I have the same nagging feeling I get every August when I start believing the two-a-days reports that this is finally the year my Rice Owls will break through to respectability that I’m just setting myself up for disappointment.  And maybe I’m in denial that this country can actually walk to the edge of the abyss, look down, and then gleefully jump in, all the while joyfully chanting yes we did.

But I think Romney’s going to win it.  And he has the potential to win it big.

I don’t think there’s much doubt now that he’s going to win the popular vote.  Not by Reagan-esque numbers, but I think it’s very likely that Romney will net north of 50% nationally.  The problem has always been the way the electoral college shakes out, and as I wrote back in May, Romney basically had to run the table to make up for what Obama already had as locks.

But that was a loooong time ago in election year terms.  Since then we’ve had Benghazi-gate, Obama’s Denver debate no-show, and Joe Biden’s continuing to embarrass himself.  More importantly, I think Governor Romney has finally had an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s not the caricature that Obama has tried to cast him as, and with his straw man exposed, Obama has had no “Plan B” as far as a campaign strategy.

What that’s done is bring states back into play that 3-4 months ago were considered solidly in Obama’s pocket.  States like Nevada and Colorado.  Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and even Michigan are up for grabs.  And states that were once battleground states—Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia—are now looking like they’re breaking for Romney.

So when I revise my electoral map, I see Romney taking Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.  He’s likely to take Colorado and Iowa.  I think he’ll win Nevada and may win New Mexico, but for these purposes I’ll give them both to Obama, along with New Hampshire.  That leaves Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

And I think Romney’s going to win Ohio.

And that, friends, is 281 electoral votes, and a Romney win.

Here’s where it gets really interesting.  As I said, I think Romney has a good chance to take Nevada (6) and New Mexico (5).  While it was unthinkable as recently as a month ago, my sense is Romney may well take at least one (maybe more—we’ll get to that) of the Michigan/Pennsylvania/Wisconsin trio; my bet here is it’s Wisconsin (10).  I don’t think at the end of the day Romney will be able to overcome the UAW in Michigan.  But the Pennsylvania coal country is now VERY close, and the wild card here is Hurricane Sandy.  This storm looks like it’s going to make landfall right through Eastern Pennsylvania Tuesday or so, and will likely disrupt things for several days.  If they have significant power outages as a result, greater Philadelphia could be largely shut down through Election Day, sharply reducing turnout in the metropolitan area Obama must have in order to carry Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.  At a minimum it’s going to disrupt early voting.  If all of that comes to pass, it’s Romney 322, Obama 216.  Not a landslide, but that’s a very sound beating against an incumbent.

None of this is certain, and there’s still a long way to go and a lot of work left.  But there’s good reason for optimism.  Make sure you vote.  Make sure your friends vote.  And make sure you check your ballot carefully—Hannity had a woman on his radio show Friday who said she tried to early vote in Nevada, and her electronic ballot machine was defaulting to a vote for Obama when she selected Romney; the technician who fixed it—remember Nevada is where the SEIU invaded to steal the 2010 Senate race for Harry Reid, who was a sure loser without their, er, “support”—gave her NO explanation as to what the problem had been.  There is much potential for hanky-panky, so be vigilant.

And pray.

**********************

Benghazi Count:  As I write this it’s been 47 days since our consulate in Benghazi was blown up and our ambassador killed, and the President still hasn’t addressed the nation.  But he’s had time for Vegas, Beyonce, The View, Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Nickelodeon, 60 Minutes, and any number of sugar-coated local top-40 radio appearances.

The Prurient Left

Polonius:        What is it between you?  Give me up the truth.

Ophelia:          He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me.

Polonius:        Affection!  Pooh, you speak like a green girl, unsifted in such perilous circumstance.  Do you believe his “tenders,” as you call them?

Ophelia:          I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

Polonius:        Marry, I’ll teach you.  Think yourself a baby that you have ta’en these tenders for true pay which are not sterling.  Tender yourself more dearly.  Or—not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, running it thus—you’ll tender me a fool.

            —William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, scene 3

What is it with the Democrats and their obsession with sex?

This whole campaign season we’ve been inundated with Sandra Fluke, contraception, abortion, and gay rights.  A gaggle of protesters dressed as giant vaginas showed up outside the RNC convention.  Then there was the absurd DNC e-card urging women to “vote like your lady parts depend on it.”  Apparently the Republicans and the Right have a platform based on mandatory radical hysterectomies and vaginal removals for all women.  I think that will be as much news to Mitt Romney & Co. as it was to me, but it doesn’t stop there.

Now the Obama camp—sponsored by the same people who brought you women’s champion Bill Clinton—has come out with an ad featuring a 20-something woman looking into the camera and talking about her “first time”:

“Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody.  You want to do it with a great guy . . . someone who really cares about and understands women . . . It was like this line in the sand.  Before, I was a girl.  Now, I was a woman.  I went to the polling station. I pulled back the curtain . . . I voted for Barack Obama.”

This isn’t cute.  It isn’t clever.  And it isn’t funny.

It’s disturbing.  And it’s beneath the office.

Now, I understand full well the ad isn’t to be taken literally, but the double-entendre is obvious and undeniable.  The Obama campaign is not only drawing a parallel between voting and sex, but it’s saying in essence that young women—of voting age, of course, we wouldn’t want to accuse them of soliciting voter fraud; that would be racist of us—should give up their virginity to Barack Obama.  And the egomania inherent in approving this kind of messaging is scary.  Adolph Hitler fancied himself adored by flocks of swooning young girls, and he avoided marrying or publicly displaying a mistress (Eva Braun was almost never seen with him in public) in a deliberate effort to promote this image of Hitler as a virile and sexually available dominant male.  The current Obama ad reeks of a 21st Century repackaging of the same idea.

Women on both sides of the aisle should be coming unglued about this.

Not only is this ad bordering on sexual predatorism, but it’s reducing women to base objects, incapable of thinking past their labia.  Apparently none of you women reading this can understand, much less give a crap about, the economy, jobs, the debt, the deficit, national security, etc.  Otherwise, why isn’t the Obama campaign talking to you about these issues?  They could have run the identical ad, with the same woman doing the same thing, but rather than wistfully reminiscing about her “first time,” having her explain all the great things he’s done in office, and all the great things he’ll do if given a second term (see, e.g.,  Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” ad).  Instead, she’s looking straight into the camera suggesting you give up your virtue to him.  Don’t vote for him because he’s got a good substantive track record, but because he’s sexy and he cares.

Of course I love you.  Of course I’ll respect you in the morning.

Ladies, is that really as far as your thought processes go?

Didn’t think so.

Then there’s the outright lies built into this whole “war on women” bullcrap.  As I’ve posted before, this whole contraception = women’s health care = opposition to Obamacare is a “war on women” equation is simply a false premise designed to manipulate you; once again, the Left inherently assumes that you women can’t think for yourselves and make informed judgments about actual issues.  Contrary to this ad, or what Obama has been saying on the campaign trail, there is no platform plank to take away birth control.  If Mitt Romney is elected President, you’re not going to wake up on January 22 and suddenly be unable to get a condom.  Or The Pill.  Or the patch, plug, implant, or whatever your contraceptive of choice is.  Neither the government, nor your employer—even if you work for the Catholic Church—is going to stop you.  Not now, not the day after Romney is inaugurated, not at any time over the ensuing four or eight years.

Moreover, the vast majority of women who use The Pill are not doing so to realize ancillary health benefits, but to avoid getting pregnant, and the Obamacare coverage mandate goes well beyond The Pill to cover exponentially cheaper contraception alternatives that have no medical application at all.  So this isn’t about “health care,” but sexual convenience.  And nearly 90% of insurance plans already cover contraceptives even without the mandate.  So not only is it a false premise, it’s a non-issue.

The Democrats keep bringing up this “war on women.”  Well, consider that they don’t think any more of you than than to set you up to fear a fictitious boogeyman, and talk to you about your genitalia, instead of addressing your mind with the truth about real-life, real-world substantive issues.    What is this telling my wife, who put herself through college and law school, and was on Law Review?  What is this telling my 14 year old daughter?

You took me out to wine, dine, sixty-nine me, but didn’t hear a damn word I said.

There is no vast Right-Wing conspiracy to take away the franchise, or otherwise destroy women.  The Tea Party isn’t the least bit interested in whether you use contraceptives.  Here’s what people on the Right are concerned with, and this is what Romney’s been trying to get out and what Obama is running from:

  • The national debt stands at over $16 trillion, almost $6 trillion more than when Obama took office;
  • The deficit is over $1 trillion a year;
  • Real unemployment is stagnant at nearly 15%, and 5 million people have left the workforce altogether since Obama took office;
  • Welfare rolls have skyrocketed since Obama took office;
  • Billions are being spent on unconstitutional bailouts that haven’t worked, and have been given to failed businesses operated by Obama’s cronies;
  • National security is being routinely compromised, either through express policy, chronic “leaks,” or naïve and irresponsible “off the record” dealings;
  • Iran is out of control;
  • Afghanistan still won’t end, and although only 1/3 of that conflict has been on Obama’s watch, 2/3 of the U.S. casualties have occurred during that time;
  • The current administration is consistently overriding the Constitution by executive fiat;

And on and on.

Ladies, vote how you will (because I know you will).  But when you do, do it because of what you think based on the facts, not because of how some smooth-talking player makes you feel as he’s getting you liquored up.

Tender yourselves more dearly, indeed.

*********************************

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Sorry I’ve been away from my keyboard for awhile.  I’ve had a lot of time demands that have kept me too far behind the news cycle to say anything that hasn’t already been said, and my muse went on vacation.  Hopefully we can overcome both.  Keep the faith as election day nears.  And go vote as early and as often as is legal in your area.

Ryan v. Biden

Were you born an asshole, or did you work at it your whole life?

Either way, it worked out fine, ‘cause you’re an asshole tonight.

            —Jimmy Buffett, The Asshole Song

 

A few thoughts on Thursday night’s Ryan/Biden VP debate.  Up front let me say I think there was something there for you to be happy about coming out of it, no matter who you were or what your political persuasion was.  Because of that, I don’t think at the end of the day it did anything to move the needle on the election.

And given the climate over the last week since Romney v. Obama I, that’s advantage Romney.

To his credit, Vice President Joe Biden accomplished the two biggest tasks he had going in.  One, he avoided saying anything colossally stupid, like calling J-O-B-S a “three-letter word.”  Two, he did a good job of staying on offense, and that will no doubt have helped shore up a deflated base that was discouraged by Obama’s disappointing performance last week.  And he worked in the Democrats’ major campaign points—I thought he was particularly effective in casting the Romney/Ryan foreign policy plan as warmongering (not that it necessarily is, but that’s the Democrat spin on it, and I thought he got that message out).  So if you were an Obama supporter, you likely left the debate feeling pretty decent.

Ryan likewise did a lot of what he needed to do.  Like Biden, he needed to avoid a major gaffe, and he did that.  He needed to present himself credibly, and he needed to stay on message.  Check.  And he needed to keep his cool and explain the realities in the face of the Left spin, and as he always does, he did that nicely.  He made nice points on the mathematics that there aren’t enough rich to tax to pay for current levels of spending, and on Middle East foreign policy.  He tried to explain the BS behind the Democrats’ straw man attacks on the ticket’s Medicare and Social Security plans.  So if you went in as a Romney supporter, you likely also left the debate feeling pretty decent.

Where I think this went well for the Republican ticket, is once again the Democrat’s performance in the split-screen format when the Republican was talking came off very poorly.  Last week it was Obama’s palpable disinterest in the whole process.  This week, it was Biden acting like a pre-pubescent ass (and as they did last week with Obama, the RNC wasted no time in taking full advantage).  Virtually every word out of Ryan’s mouth prompted derisive laughter, adolescent eye-rolling, condescending head-shaking, and not-so-under-the-breath commentary from Biden.  It was beneath the dignity of his office and of the election and debate process.  This is not how grownups have intelligent adult discussions, but that’s how Biden and the modern Left are.  If what you say isn’t in lockstep with them, rather than talk about it—which is what a “debate” is—they ridicule it.  You may disagree with what Paul Ryan had to say Thursday night.  But none of it was so off-the-wall nonsense that you could just dismiss it with a giggle and a shake of the head.

Biden also—with some help from moderator Martha Raddatz, an ABC Senior Foreign Correspondent—repeatedly interrupted Ryan, routinely refusing to let him finish points.  Again, I think this came off as childish and rude, and a majority of those who aren’t dazzled by Obama’s cult aura will have found it a real turn-off.  I’ve seen some complain that Ryan should have been more aggressive in pushing back, but I disagree.  Ryan respectfully chided him one time that “I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we didn’t keep interrupting each other,” but otherwise let him go, and I think that was the right thing to do.  Biden hurt himself more than he helped by the way he acted.

And Biden provided a little additional help that may take a few days to start paying dividends.  One, taking a page from John Kerry, he flat lied about his voting record on Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming he had always opposed those actions when in fact as a Senator he voted in favor of both.  Two, he flat lied about the administration having had no information that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi had been requesting additional security, when for the better part of Thursday several former security officers were testifying before Congress that they had repeatedly requested and been denied additional security.  And three, notice that his position on the administration’s misinformation campaign about the Benghazi attack was based on incorrect intelligence, while his position on Iran’s nuclear program is that we should trust the intelligence network to let us know when that threat is imminent.  All of these should make for some nice ad fodder in the coming days.

In the end, I don’t think Ryan scored the knockout I thought he might—but he didn’t need to.  What he needed to do was not lose ground, and he did at least that.

Romney v. Obama, Round 1 Thoughts

It’s only fear that makes you run

The demons that you’re hiding from

When all your promises are gone

I’m the only one.

            —Melissa Etheridge, I’m The Only One

Several of you have inquired where’s the debate post-mortem?  Well, the truth is I had planned on posting my running notes, but real life intervened.  I spent 2 hours Wednesday evening trying to rescue my 7 year old from having to go through RCIA even though both her parents are Catholic (one by birth) and she’s been raised Catholic since before she could talk.  Fortunately, reason ultimately prevailed, but with that and picking up dinner, I got home just as Jim Lehrer was kicking off.  Then between getting the kids fed, homework checked, spelling words reviewed, etc., I wasn’t able to focus as much as I wanted, and I got hopelessly behind in trying to take notes.  But since a number of you have asked, I will offer a few quick thoughts.

Let me say first, I’m not sure I saw the same debate that apparently everyone else in the country, right or left, saw.  By all accounts, Romney pummeled Obama.  If this were boxing, he would have had at least one knockdown, and the judges would have scored the round 10-7.

I hate to rain on the parade, but I had it closer to 10-10.

To be sure, Romney came out swinging, as he had to.  And I thought he did a good job of staying on offense, demonstrating that he had a grasp on detailed facts, and walking the country through both Obama’s failed record, and his lies.  So in that sense I thought Romney did well.

But performance is relative, and you have to weigh it against the game situation.  This isn’t a tied game in the 1st Quarter; from an electoral college perspective—the only one that matters—Romney’s behind, and it’s late.  Yes, Romney was more on offense and scored more points.  But he had to, and even then he was going to need some help from Obama, and I didn’t think he got it.

By contrast, Obama didn’t need to score.  If we learned nothing else from Tin Cup (forgive me for mixing my sports metaphors), it was that sometimes par is good enough to win.  That was the situation Obama was in, and I thought he likewise did a good job of just keeping it in the fairway and avoiding any penalties by talking enough to run out the clock, while saying as little as possible.  So when you look at the debate in light of what the respective candidates needed to accomplish, both basically did what they needed to; and that’s advantage Obama.

Further, while Romney indeed scored his points, I felt like at times he was trying too hard.  And his frequent running over time, walking over the moderator, and interrupting Obama struck me at times as childish.  To be fair, Obama did his share of that, too, and frankly those who complain that Lehrer did a poor job of controlling the discussion and managing the clock have a point.  But I don’t think that favored one candidate over the other (you’ll note that for all his interruptions, Romney got 4 minutes less speaking time than Obama did).  But the bottom line for me was I was more bothered by Romney’s conduct than I was by Obama’s (maybe I’m just so conditioned to be irritated by everything Obama does, I didn’t notice it as much).

Now, what I didn’t see live, but I now appreciate having seen some replays, is Obama’s demeanor really did come across as that of an arrogant and cranky brat.  Interestingly, though, that was most evident when Obama wasn’t talking, a point brilliantly illustrated in the RNC’s Thursday morning video ad The Smirk.  The split screen view really hurts the President, because you get the full brunt of his “This whole exercise is beneath me” arrogance.  You can bet his handlers will have coached that out of him by the next debate.

If they can.

All in all, while I preferred Romney’s substantive message, I just didn’t see it as the catastrophic ass-whipping it’s being made out to be.  I thought it was more a very slight edge to Romney, which isn’t enough, given his game situation, but I seem to be alone in that view.  Now some of that may just be the media trying to drive the story, or the Left trying to shore up a complacency problem.  But what’s interesting is the level of panic we’re seeing.  Public displays of horror from the likes of Chris Matthews and Michael Moore.  Al Gore is out there blaming the altitude (I thought both candidates were at the same elevation, but maybe Obama having his nose in the air cost him in that respect).  And this may be useful, because if the panic is real, there’s a good chance that the Obama camp will overcorrect in its future preparations.  Remember, their game situation isn’t that they need to win, but that they need to avoid major mistakes.  The more aggressively they try to go on the attack, the greater the likelihood they make exactly the kind of mistake they can’t afford.

Compounding that problem is where they are in the batting order: next up for them is Genius Joe on Thursday.  That, friends, could get fun.

But perhaps the best of the post-debate reaction, however, came from Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod, who said:

“And so today, as the day after, I think the question for you [the media], for the American people is really one of character and whether or not a candidacy that’s so fundamentally rooted in hiding the truth and the facts from the American people and deception is the basis of trust on which you assign the presidency to a person . . . Because we need an honest and a genuine and realistic plan to move forward and not a bunch of lines designed to get you through a debate.”

Deal, David.  But you might want to mention it to Barack.