Sunday, September 21, 2014

How Republicans Blow Opportunities

Very often Democrats throw Republicans hug, fat softballs right over the heart of the plate – and Republicans fail to hit the home run.  They have forgotten how to punch hard – not necessarily in ads, but in doing mano a mano.  Here are just three examples from the last several years of how Republicans have blown tremendous opportunities that were virtually handed to them gift-wrapped by various agents of the Democrat Party:

1.     The arm of the Democrat Party known as the media, or the press, referred to Obama as both a “Professor of Constitutional Law” and a “Constitutional Scholar” endlessly during his presidential campaigns (more so during the 2008 campaign, but the inaccuracy still popped up in 2012 frequently). 
As is well known, he was not a professor at all at the University of Chicago but an instructor, so that outright lie is easily debunked.  However, this “Constitutional Scholar” stuff…Look – a farmer farms land, a baseball pitcher pitchess the ball, and a scholar…a scholar…a scholar produces scholarship!  Duh!
I could be wrong, but in two presidential campaigns I cannot recall a single conservative commentator or politician asking to see evidence of Obama’s scholarship.
Had I been advising either McCain or Romney for their debates with Obama I would have insisted this question be worked in somehow: “You’re often described as a Constitutional Scholar – can you please direct us to your scholarly articles and publications?  Your essays and papers that you’ve published in refereed journals (like every other scholar has been required to do since the dawn of creation)?  Where can we go to see your original legal research?”  And then listen to the crickets chirp with 100 million people watching. 

2.     Linda McMahon ran against Richard Blumenthal for the US Senate in 2010 in Connecticut. A Democrat operative named Christiane Amanpour interviewed McMahon on ABC News.   I can’t really improve on this link with video in terms of relating the story, but I will comment on what McMahon should have said instead of what she actually did say at the critical juncture:
Amanpour chose to play what is admittedly a particularly distasteful clip from the entertainment show McMahon formerly ran, the WWE, without really noting that it’s acting, fiction, lowbrow entertainment. 

After being asked if this type of thing is appropriate, McMahon missed a golden opportunity to slay the dragon; what she did do was give Amanpour an opportunity to put her on the defensive with a bloviating answer that only hardcore WWE fans would understand or care about.  It failed miserably.  What she should have said was something like this:
          “You know Christiane, a lot of Democrat politicians take contributions from Hollywood and I was just wondering – when was the last time you interrogated a Democrat about accepting money from filmmakers who put out pictures with excessive sex and violence?  Hmmm?"

3. This next incident took place during the early 2010 televised summit on Obamacare between the President and members of Congress.  Congressman Eric Cantor pulled out a copy of the behemoth 2000 page law and laid it on the desk in front of himself as he was about to speak.  President Obama quickly pounced, saying Cantor had resorted to using ‘props’.  Yet not long before this, in the Rose Garden, Obama himself helped his staffers hand out white smocks to doctors gathered for a photo op.  Talk about using props!  Yet Cantor completely missed the opportunity to bring up the old adage that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and refer to the smock photo op – instead he meekly let Obama bulldoze right over him. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Confiscationism 101

Confiscationism 101

PERSON A – This person, of their own free will, elects to work from age 22 until age 52 six days a week, 12 hours a day, to get themselves and their family up to a certain standard of living.  They carefully invest 100 dollars a month in a moderately risky mutual fund for those 30 years to insure they take advantage of the miracle of compound interest and will comfortably be a millionaire in retirement.

PERSON B – This person, also of their own free will, elects to work 9 to 5 five days a week, then go home and watch 6 hours of television, as well as much sports as they can all weekend. 

CONFISCATIONISM holds that in principle it is morally acceptable to take money from A to give to B for social services.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How Journalists Who Accept the Confiscationist Belief System Write About Obama


Obviously, the overwhelming majority of journalists in the United States are essentially Democrat Party campaign operatives; their efforts at objective reporting are quite amusing.  Their utter submersion in the Manhattan-Malibu axis is, in a way, a good thing, because it ensures that their writing, TV, and web reporting is restricted to an audience of people who already accept Confiscationism as a political philosophy.  In other words, they’re preaching to the choir.  They’re harmless inside their bubble.
It’s only during election season that this particular brand of intellectual dishonesty becomes a powerful weapon, as both McCain and Romney could tell you.
Here I want to briefly look at passages from two recent articles about President Obama that will illustrate this point in a crystal clear manner.  The first short passage is from an article by Jonathan Chait in New York magazine in April, 2014.  The second is from one by Elizabeth Drew in the most recent edition of The New York Review of Books.  First the Chait article – here’s the passage:
          “He’s had to deal with race explicitly in a few excruciating circumstances, like the 2009 “beer summit” with the black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, a friend of Obama’s, and James Crowley, the police sergeant responsible for Gates’s arrest.  (Obama’s response to the incident was telling: He positioned himself not as an ally of Gates but as a mediator between the two, as equally capable of relating to the white man’s perspective as the black man’s.)”

The distortion of the truth here is absolutely stupefying.  Even leaving aside the question of the appropriateness of the President of the United States weighing in on a local law enforcement matter (how many thousands of incidents like this must take place in the country every single day, and what is the criteria he uses to pick any particular one to insert himself into?), this video is more or less straightforward as to what Obama’s initial response was:
“The police acted stupidly” is clearly not positioning oneself as a mediator.  The fact is that Obama only positioned himself as a mediator after it became clear that both he and Gates had picked the wrong cop to try and bulldoze with Sharptonesque knee jerkism:

Turning to the article by Elizabeth Drew, this piece is a kind of standard Washington insider look at the upcoming midterm elections but, whereas Chait at least attempts to dress up his bias in a suit of quasi objectivity, Drew makes no attempt to conceal her status as a Democrat Party enabler.  After a few paragraphs of snoozeville boilerplate she drops in the sentence “It’s undeniable that the president’s race has a significant part in the destructive ways in which he is talked about and opposed.” 

This statement is just casually dropped in as corroborated fact, like the day’s weather or telling someone what your height and weight is.  The author apparently feels no need to give any kind of supporting documentation whatsoever.  Might it be helpful to name a name, or give a concrete example, of such an assertion?  Of course, I understand the deal – the publication’s readership is such that there isn’t any need to do so.  The contention is accepted a priori. The President by any objective measure is not doing a very good job, and the media is heavily invested in him, so if he looks bad then they look bad as well.  This is simple human nature.  Unfortunately it’s preposterously slanted journalism. 
This kind of Libscreech, when it exists inside the cocoon – as New York and The New York Review of Books obviously do – is totally harmless.  It is only when it starts to be multiplied in every kind of media, both new and old, that it begins to hurt Republicans.  As I said, ask McCain or Romney.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Confiscationism, Elizabeth Warren Style

Senator Warren's version of Confiscationism is probably best paraphrased in the following well known quote:

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.  Nobody.  You built a factory out there?  Good for you.  But I want to be clear.  You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.  You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.  You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for...Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea?  God bless!  Keep a big hunk of it.  But part of the underlying social contract is that you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."  

These ideas are so strange it's hard to believe that anyone could possibly give them any credence whatsoever, but stuff like this is red meat to Confiscationists.  Let’s break down the argument and try to make sense of it.

“You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.”
This is true but trivial.  Even if you knew that your tax dollars, specifically, went to build this particular road (which is something you cannot ever possibly know) then, if you want to claim that this entitles you to take partial credit for the success of my factory, then it would seem that you have to take responsibility for everything else that ever happens on this road as well.

For instance, let’s say that a crazed mass killer with an assault rifle drives on this very same road to a mall, or a school, and shoots 25 people dead.  By Senator Warren’s logic the taxpayers who paid for this road must be held partially responsible for these shootings.  How can it be otherwise?  Do we get to pick and choose what events of this road we want to accept credit (or blame) for?  Let’s say there is a fifty car pile up on this road – are the taxpayers to be held responsible? 

Let’s briefly ponder something else that’s implied by the remark, which is that you know with specificity which public projects your personal tax dollars are going to.  What if you did know such a thing?  Anyone who has ever donated to a private charity for children, or even animals, knows that every month you get a little progress report on how your money helped that kid or that dog.  Suppose you got a report in the mail every month “This is John.  Your tax dollars are being used to pay for his food stamps,” etc., etc.  This is nonsense, yet it is a perfectly reasonable consequence of Senator Warren’s remarks. 

“You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.”  Really?  Is it like, a truckload of workers was dropped on your doorstep and you just blindly hired them without interviewing them, talking to them, checking their backgrounds, verifying their references, training them and nurturing them along in your company once you hired them, sending them to training courses to upgrade their skills, teaching them the business, mentoring them, etc.  How many of you out there think Senator Warren has ever managed a team, a staff, or a portion of the workforce?  Raise your hands.

“You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for…”   Again, this is true but trivially true. It’s true in the way that saying “Cotton candy is food,” is true.  The fact is that the police and fire departments would be there if my factory never even came into being, indeed, if I myself had never been born.  Additionally, most factories are going to have their own private security forces and individuals known as Fire Safety Directors, and sophisticated fire safety equipment, that are not paid for by public money. 

Finally, we might observe that Senator Warren writes as though the factory owner himself or herself is not paying any taxes when it’s a good bet that, being a successful business person with a factory, they’re paying quite a bit in taxes themselves. 

Senator Warren’s version of Confiscationism is, like all Libscreech, an attempt to present the visceral, emotional acceptance of sympathy based ethics as a rational, logical and reasoned argument.