Tuesday, January 31, 2012

T-Rav's Sockpuppet Votatorium Presents: Primarily Florida

It's a big night in Florida, it's seniors eat free night at Golden Corral! And beside that, there's voting afoot. Tonight could actually decide the race and it looks like the Gingrich dirigible has caught fire. So join us as we watch the humanity unfold... or not. (Results released at 8 PM EST.)

And while we wait, riddle me this: in hindsight, do you think the debate process has been good or bad for sorting through the candidates?

Don't forget: It's Star Trek Tuesday at the film site! Today is about the Wrath of Khan!

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Obamacare Bureaucracy vs. Religious Belief

I recently introduced our readers to a small victory for religious freedom over bureaucratic absolutism (Score One for the Christians). In that case, the Supreme Court told the National Labor Relations Board that a religious organization has sole power to determine its own rules regarding hiring and firing based on religious belief. But Leviathan never sleeps, and the Obama administration is at it again.

This time, the issue is much larger than that in the employment case. It is a bold attack on religious freedom, and the attack is grounded on the idea that the mission of a religious institution can be entirely separated from its non-religious functions. The bureaucracy this time is Health and Human Services, its commander is Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and the law from which the conflict stems is nothing less than Obamacare.

Simply put, the Catholic Church and some Orthodox Jewish organizations are religiously opposed to contraception. Obamacare requires that all employers, including those groups, must provide health insurance which includes coverage for contraception, certain abortifacients and sterilization at no additional charge to the employee. Contraceptive services are controversial among those groups, but it is the mandate to provide coverage for abortifacients and sterilization that has brought the issue to a rolling boil.

Obamacare does allow for some exemptions, but they are narrowly-written and are being interpreted by a bureaucracy that demands universal health care coverage whether you like it or not. In describing which employees the "religious employer" may exempt from contraception, abortifacient and sterilization coverage, Sebelius and her people rely on the preliminary regulations (which will undoubtedly remain unchanged in the final version) that require four concurrent things to be true:

1. The inculcation of religious values is its purpose.
2. It primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets.
3. It primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.
4. It is a non-profit organization under sections of the code that refer to churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations, as well as to the exclusively religious activities of any religious order.

Paying careful obeisance to and obfuscation of the ruling in the NLRB employment case, HHS has issued a statement that specifically says: "The Departments seek to provide for a religious accommodation that respects the unique relationship between a house of worship and its employees in ministerial positions." By pretending to honor the unanimous decision in the NLRB case, HHS is actually carving out a rule that defeats religious belief outside the confines of the "ministry."

One student of the Department's position lays it out rather well. "The group insurance covering nuns in a Catholic religious order would probably not have to cover contraception. But insurance provided by the same order's elementary school probably would. The latter would also be true of a hospital established by the nuns."

The NLRB case was based on religious freedom ("the ministry"). This issue revolves more around religious worship and what information a religious organization must provide to non-members. So even in those cases where the Department may find the exemption applies, it will still require the organization to pass out information about "preventive" services which it does not provide under the exemption. Essentially, this means that the exempt religious organization must tell its employees where and how to obtain those services which are anathema to the organization and church teaching.

Sebelius's official statement explains how the new rule should be applied: "We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive and sterilization services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support." At its most basic it means that Father Flanagan will meet with his employee and tell her that the Church utterly opposes artificial contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization, but since the Church's medical insurance doesn't cover it, here's a list of all the places that will provide the services we find abhorrent and contrary to scripture.

So as it stands, Catholic employees at non-Catholic institutions must pay for insurance for preventive services as part of their insurance package, but cannot be charged anything additional for them. Likewise, Catholic and non-Catholic employees of a Catholic institution may be required to purchase contraception and sterilization insurance through their employers depending on how the Department classifies the religious employer. In the latter case, both the religious institution and its employees are bound by entirely secular rules determining the religious status of the employer and employee.

Church charities, hospitals, universities and other non-church activities are affected. Current organizations preparing to challenge the HHS ruling are Catholic Charities USA, Notre Dame University and the Catholic hospital network. Regardless of the outcome, or even a later softening of its position for political gain, this is another example of how the Obama administration and its leftist supporters are innately hostile to religion. It also demonstrates how a bureaucracy can hide its anti-religious agenda in gentle-sounding legalese.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

You're Not The Boss Of Me

In some ways, I guess I’ve enjoyed the spectacle of a pseudo-intellectual, gussied-up, pretentious Chicago politician trying to pass himself off as a sophisticated man for all seasons. The man is flawless, incapable of making a mistake. He has even managed to convince a large segment of the American public that he is unflappable and tolerant of criticism. He proved otherwise this past Wednesday in Arizona.

On that day, the sweet-tempered, the ever-smiling president landed in Arizona and exposed himself for the ill-tempered and thin-skinned creature he really is. He was greeted by the Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, who is not known as being a fan of The One. In fact, the confrontation turned into an Obama review of Brewer’s book Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Borders. The governor was there in her official capacity as state greeter, but she was also there to plead with the president for more border security.

Unfortunately for Brewer, Obama knew that she had written some unkind words about He Who Cannot Be Criticized. The conversation, largely out of earshot of the public and press and beneath the wings of Air Force One, was obviously heated, complete with some very visible finger-wagging on both sides. After a short exchange, the president turned his back on the governor and stormed off like a child who lost a playground match and grabbed his marbles and left.

Before he was able to get to a refreshed TelePrompter, Obama let it be known that the governor had not “treated him cordially.” Well, you have to admit, she forgot to kiss his ring as they approached each other. It was obvious that he knows that he is King of America and she is merely a provincial governor. One does not lecture the king of kings, nor write a memoir that does not sing his praises.

The governor says that before she could start a conversation, Obama stated that he was disturbed about her book. She never got to make the case for more border security. She asked him if he had read the book, but after responding that he had read “an excerpt” and stating categorically that she had committed lese majeste, he walked away from her while she was still in mid-sentence attempting to respond.

So what did the mainstream media pick up on? Pictures of Brewer’s “disrespectful finger-pointing.” The best they could say is that if she didn’t respect the man, she should at least respect the office. Well, the man has sullied the office, so I think she can be at least partially forgiven if she didn’t do proper obeisance. She is an independently-elected leader of a sovereign state, equally deserving respect which he did not grant her. Governors are servants of the people of their states, not subordinates of the emperor. If she had given him the finger instead of pointing one at him, he might have been justified in feeling he had not gotten due respect for his office.

Governors are heads of state as much as the president, and they are not in the military where his position as commander-in-chief might make the man/office mantra appropriate. The governor was there as head of her government to seek help in stopping the massive flow of illegal immigration, crime, and drug importing on the border between Mexico and Arizona. The president was there to campaign for re-election and to ignore his administration’s Mexico-US gun-running operation. Which deserves more respect?

This kind of regal displeasure treatment of his “inferiors” is getting to be a habit with Obama. After being greeted by Governor Rick Perry of Texas, Obama stormed off within less than half a minute when Perry raised the issue of border security. He fumed and fretted publicly after Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana dared to write the president a letter asking for some genuine work instead of talk during the Gulf oil spill disaster. He actually called Jindal a “whiner” for asking for emergency food programs while the residents of the gulf recovered.

Obama is completely incapable of understanding federalism. He sees the states as branches of the national government and governors as his lieutenants. Any word of disagreement by one of those lieutenants must be treated as disrespect for the glorious leader and rank insubordination. Well, this god has feet of clay and this emperor has no clothes (how’s that for mixing my metaphors?). Obama deserves the title of King of Cool about as much as Rosie O’Donnell deserved the title of Queen of Nice.

Update Well, I suppose this was inevitable. Now Al Sharpton, the NAACP, Joe Madison, MSNBC and a raft of left wing talk-show hosts have declared that Brewer's actions were not only disrespectful, but racist. One says that Brewer's actions were the natural fear that white women have of black men. The rest are absolutely convinced that Brewer would never had behaved this way if the president were white. One black contributor on Fox News says that she doesn't believe Brewer is a racist, but her actions are typical of white behavior toward blacks. "Typical white woman" anyone?

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Chevy Volt: Obama’s Folly

There is perhaps no greater example of the stupidity of the left than the Chevy Volt. It is the story of massive government subsidies going to solve a non-existent problem which result in a product no one wants and which doesn’t really work. This thing should become the new mascot of the Democratic party, forget the donkey, the donkey’s a vision of perfection by comparison.

Created by the bailed-out General Motors, the Chevy Volt has been an unmitigated disaster. The car was meant to be an environmentalist dream. It would combat global warming by reducing carbon emissions and would one day free us from our dependence on evil oil. But that’s not quite how it turned out.

To ensure the car could be called a “success,” GM stacked the deck by doing two things. First, they limited the release of the car in 2011 to big liberal cities: Washington, D.C., New York City, Austin, Texas, and California, with subsequent roll outs in other liberal states, and then all fifty-seven states by November 2011. This was meant to make sure that plenty of environmentalists would be on hand to buy the car, so GM could report brisk sales. Further, they limited the initial production run to 10,000 to ensure they would have more demand than supply and could report a sell out.

They even gave it all kinds of incentives. For example, while the car has a suggested retail price of $40,280, buyers get: (1) a $7,500 federal tax credit under the TARP bailout, (2) a $1,500 “state” rebate through the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (more federal money), (3) a federal tax credit for the purchase and installation of the charging unit, which is listed at costing $490 plus installation, but which Consumer Reports says costs around $2,000. That’s $11,000 in subsidies to buyers.

And that’s on top of the $2.4 billion in direct subsidies given to GM by the federal government, i.e. you, to develop the Volt, not to mention the $27 billion given to keep GM afloat so they could make wonderful cars like the Volt.

That’s a lot of federal help. So how did GM do? After thirteen months of sales, GM has sold only 7,997 cars. . . they couldn’t even sell the full 10,000 they made. To give you a comparison, the Toyota Prius sold 159,000 cars in the same period.

And that’s just the beginning of the morass.

See, it turns out the car ain’t as green as they made it out to be.

The Volt actually includes a gasoline engine. So in that sense, the car is not a true electric car, but is instead a hybrid. And if you calculate the “fuel economy rating” the same way it is calculate for other hybrids, the Volt only gets 48 miles per gallon, making it one of the worst hybrids. So GM objected and argued that it was unfair to treat this car as a hybrid and instead demanded that the car be tested using only the electric engine, i.e. that the EPA pretend the owners can use the gas engine. According to GM, that would result in a fuel economy rating of 230 miles per gallon.

Team Obama, the definition of more-ass, happily agreed to play along with GM’s fraud and tested the car in the new way. But even then it couldn’t come anywhere near GM’s claims of 230 miles per gallon. Instead, they found 93 miles per gallon in electric mode and 37 miles per gallon in gasoline mode, for an overall 60 miles per gallon. By comparison, the EPA rates the Prius at 51 mpg. Also, to get the 93 mpg, you need to drive it at low speeds on the highway.

It gets worse. The EPA also measured the tailpipe emissions and found 84 grams of carbon dioxide per mile using gasoline and “nearly zero” using electricity. But a study in the UK which calculated the emissions from the electricity used to charge the battery resulted in 199 grams per mile for the electric motor. Not only is that more pollution than several other cars, but that means you actually pollute less using the gasoline engine in the Volt than you do using the electric engine. Imagine that.

And then there’s the other problem: it’s a death trap.

See, it turns out that when the Volt gets in an accident, particularly from a side hit, the batteries can be damaged. This leads to a coolant leak which causes the car to catch fire. But it doesn’t happen right away. Instead, the fire can start minutes, hours, days or weeks later. In one instance, the car caught fire three weeks after the collision. GM claims to have fixed this by adding padding to the car, but has had to offer to buy back “a couple dozen” cars from people who are now too scared to own them. A couple dozen is around 5% of the total number sold.

And that’s not the only problem with the batteries. GM put an 8 year warranty on the batteries, but estimates right now are that the battery will need to be replaced every six to eight years. The cost of that replacement? $10,000. In other words, every six to eight years, you need to put in $10,000 to keep this turkey running. Given that the resale value is expected to fall 51% in three years, that means the car is effectively disposable. . . talk about a pollution nightmare!

It’s no wonder no one wants this car.

This is what happens whenever the government gets involved in the subsidy business. No rational business would ever try to make this car. It’s too expensive (GM apparently isn’t even making money on the current prices), it pollutes more than the evil polluting cars it’s meant to replace, it costs too much to own and it’s dangerous.

Moreover, it’s fixing a problem that apparently even Global Warming enthusiasts are starting to admit doesn’t exist – according to data released by the same enthusiasts who brought you climate gate and who have repeatedly said every single year for over two decades “this year was the hottest year on record,” the world stopped warming in 1997 and has been cooling ever since!

In an age when Obama’s folly can be seen in “green tech” companies going down in flames like bankruptcy dominoes after being handed mongo Federal cash, the Volt still stands out at the zenith of stupidity.... and you’ve paid $2.5 billion dollars so far to support that stupidity. Makes you proud, doesn’t it?

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Occupy Oakland Fails To Occupy

While some of the other Occupy movements seem to be losing steam, the same cannot be said of the Occupy Oakland stalwarts. If anything, the numbers and strength of the Occupiers are growing. Taking time out from the usual random acts of violence which are daily events in the town that is San Francisco's poor relation, the crypto-anarchists have found common cause.

Contrary to the mainstream media's portrayal of the Occupy movement as "spontaneous," these demonstrations are carefully planned and widely publicized. In fact, as shown in the accompanying illustration, they've now become so orchestrated that the planners send out formal invitations. Behind the nebulous term "occupy" in Oakland is the serious intention to forcibly take over and occupy public and private property. Yesterday (Saturday), the movement moved. After a big rally near city hall, the Occupiers moved on to their intended target of occupation--the unused Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center near Lake Merritt in the heart of the city.

Making sure not to get shot by mistake by gang-bangers, a large number of the marchers covered their faces with black bandannas rather than the more dangerous red or blue. The crowd was estimated to exceed 1000, ranging from the homeless with nothing better to do to young mothers wheeling baby strollers who should know better. Rioting in Oakland is about as rare as cockroaches in San Francisco or rats in New York City. But this is something unseen in Oakland since the antiwar demonstrations of the 60s. Know-nothings gathering together to support a cause they don't know anything about.

The police had been tipped off that the demonstrators intended to take over a building somewhere near Lake Merritt, but the organizers had kept the actual location secret until the last minute. But it still raises the question about why the demonstrators have become so bold in this particular town. And that's easy. Mayor Jean Quan has praised the goals of the Occupy movement since the beginning, and any serious public criticism she has offered has always involved the "overreactions" of the police, never the criminal actions of the Occupiers.

Some of the demonstrators seemed mystified that the police actually prevented them from occupying the Kaiser Center. They had every reason to believe the police would threaten, the Mayor would cluck-cluck, and the Occupiers would be in like Flynn. By afternoon, the ever-honest San Francisco Chronicle had headlined stories of innocent Occupy bystanders being manhandled by fascist police. The DailyKos used the lede: "Updated: With Police Attack Video-Occupy Oakland." The blog also said: "Smoke bombs, tear gas, flash bangs, rubber bullets, and bean bag rounds were used on protesters that never got within 50-100 feet of police lines." Q.E.D.

What young Kos is not telling you is that those things happened only after police had earlier been physically attacked, including tossed chunks of concrete. The police very sensibly withdrew to a reasonable distance and re-formed, "50-100 feet" from the crowd before launching crowd control measures. They had first frequently announced over bullhorns that this was an unlawful assembly, and gave the crowd plenty of time to disperse peacefully. The demonstrators chose not to leave, and began to advance on the police lines.

One of the organizers and fomentors of this unlawful assembly egged the crowd on. She is Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, a former professor at California State University, East Bay. Her words were designed to encourage a riot, promote an occupation of private property, and dispel any mistaken public perception that these marchers are peaceful. "Passionate, organized hatred is the element missing in all that we do to try to change the world. Now is the time to spread hate, hatred for the rich." Not exactly the "love children" of the 60s, huh?

The police were successful in preventing the occupation, but they failed to disperse many of the demonstrators who continue to hang around, waiting for the opportunity to slip past the police lines and occupy the intended target or another alternate building. I'm quite sure the police would have loved to push the demonstrators entirely out of the area and arrest anyone who refused to leave. But then they would have to face the Mayor's wrath for using "excessive force" to remove "peaceful demonstrators."

Sunday Update: After this post was written, a large cadre of demonstrators, frustrated by their lack of success in occupying the Kaiser Center, broke off from the main group and headed to City Hall. The government center was vandalized, rocks, bottles and flares were thrown at the police, and three policemen were injured. Naturally, the San Francisco Chronicle barely mentioned the destruction and vandalism, and headlined: "Oakland police use tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets to break up demonstration."
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The Great (film) Debates vol. 23

If someone who litigates is a litigator, then why isn’t someone who detects a detector? I don’t know, but for $25 a day plus expenses, I’ll look into that for you.

Who is your favorite detective on film?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Question: Is Atheism a Religion?

It is no secret that I spend a fair amount of time at the Huffington Post website deep in discussion with those with whom I politely describe as believing "differently". One of the topics that keeps coming up over and over is the First Amendment battle being wages between Christianity and Atheism. The premise is always that Christians (those who believe in superstitions and "creation myths") or "Believers" are always trying to force their beliefs on the Atheists (those who do not believe in superstitions or "creation myths") or "Non-Believers".

Lately the discussions have revolved around a Rhode Island high schooler, the Atheist in this story, who was distraught at being force to have gaze upon a banner containing a prayer that was hanging in the cafeteria of her public high school**. It upset her so much that she had to sue the school system to have it removed. Of course, we all know that this case is based on the First Amendment argument of separation of church and state. But, as is becoming more common today, the argument is being distorted to include a much broader interpretation of separation of all perceived religious beliefs or religious references from any state-funded institution.

These kinds of cases always baffle me, because I see this young woman imposing her religious belief on others too. So I need your help in defining exactly what "religion" is exactly:

Discussion: Using the same broad interpretation, if one defines "religion" as a system of strongly-held beliefs, should Atheism be considered a religion too?

**FYI - Did I mention that this banner has been hanging in the cafeteria of her high school without incident since 1963?
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Film Friday: Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Battle: Los Angeles looked like a big blockbuster film designed to attract an audience for two weeks and then be forgotten. Imagine my surprise to find a truly inspired film. And do you know what makes this film stand out? An utter lack of cynicism and a strong sense of patriotism. This IS a conservative film!

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Bye Bye, Western Civilization

I’ve mentioned the decline of the liberal arts in our universities on these pages in the past. Lately, I have noticed that articles from The American Scholar to The New Republic to the blogosphere have been focusing on the same subject. Each year, more universities dump entirely the lower division undergraduate requirement of the core study most often called “Western Civilization.”

Stanford dumped it years ago. UC Berkeley makes it one part of many in the history department. The Ivies, and now most mid-level public and private universities are following suit. Hanging their hats on multiculturalism and the “melting pot” of today’s America, the schools have followed the course set by radical leftists, sociologists, race-baiters and one-worlders. In doing so, the universities have made it nearly impossible for students to comprehend or embrace the concept of American exceptionalism. Barack Obama, the leader of America and the West, is a product of that type of ignorance.

Back in 1987, Rev. Jesse Jackson led protestors at Stanford University demanding the end of “ethnocentric” Western Civilization instruction to be replaced with that god of the divisive left—diversity. No accommodation or modification was going to be allowed. Jackson led the chants of “hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Culture’s got to go.” The Stanford administration complied without complaint. That’s the same administration which had earlier dropped the appellation for the school’s sports teams, the Stanford Indians, and changed it to the meaningless Stanford Cardinal (it refers to the color, not the bird).

It seems that proudly naming your teams after the iconic Native Americans is mysteriously racist and insensitive. That same year, Esquire Magazine ran a cover with a picture of the aged Indian who had served as the school’s emblem sitting in the stands at Stanford Field. He was the only one in the stands, wearing full warrior headdress, with a barely visible tear falling from one eye. In the article, he asked “what did I do wrong?” He didn’t realize he had done nothing wrong, it was those oppressive white administrators who were exploiting him who were doing wrong.

The National Association of Scholars recently released a formal paper entitled The Vanishing West: 1964 to 2010.” The paper lays out the rapid disappearance of the Western Civilization curriculum from nearly every major higher education institution. And the scholars aren’t happy about it. The Black Power movement of the 60s had obtained its own Black Studies curriculum (starting with San Francisco State University), and it quickly became time for every other racial and ethnic movement to have its own department. Suddenly, the study of obscure tribes in Africa or Asia became as important as the study of the Greek scholars, or the writers of the Renaissance, or the Humanists, or St. Thomas Aquinas, or (particularly) America’s Enlightenment Founders.

What pieces of the Western Civilization core curriculum remained were taken over by flower children and former members of the Weather Underground, resulting in a rump Western Civ discipline which became “grim and gloomy” as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Lynne Cheney of the National Endowment for the Humanities has a long record of damning the whole misplaced emphasis on everything except the successes (and failures) of Western culture. Said Cheney in 1994: “Imagine an outline for teaching American history [within today’s academic parameters] in which George Washington makes only a fleeting appearance and is never described as our first President. Or in which the founding of the Sierra Club and the National Organization for Women are considered noteworthy events, but the first gathering of the US Congress is not.”

The problem is that you don’t have to imagine it anymore. Take a look at the current nonsense that has replaced Western Civilization in higher learning. Most of the courses replace traditional Western Civ courses previously required at major universities and old-fashioned liberal arts colleges. The operative word is “replace” rather than “augment.” I won’t even try to list the silliness. Just grab the catalog from your favorite university and check out the wealth of non-Western Civilization courses being offered in place of traditional studies of Greece, Rome, Great Britain, France, and of course, the United States. The Civil War must now compete with the Cultural Phenomenon of Lady Gaga, the Zen of Keanu Reeves, and urban/hip hop culture, and the Civil War is losing.

No wonder ignorant “Occupiers” think that the Constitution is an obsolete document written by old white men impeding social progress. Without a basic understanding of the workings of Western culture and its evolution into modernity, they can’t possibly comprehend the exquisite balancing act done by the Founding Fathers in creating a unique form of government with checks and balances, a voice for the people, and the protection of ordered liberty.

Without that study of the Western development of democratic institutions, self-government, art, science and universal education, the “Occupiers” can’t possibly understand the reasons behind the American Revolution. Most of them claim to understand, but in fact just get everything wrong. Instead of a Revolution for freedom and self-government, they judge the appropriate reason to oppose the powers-that-be in terms of what Abbie Hoffman called “revolution for the hell of it.”

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Comment Glitch

By the way, there is a glitch with the comments. When we get above 200 comments, you either have to click on the title to the article or post a comment to see anything beyond 200. Don't click on the word "comments." [+] Read More...

T-Rav's Sockpuppet Theater Presents: Jackasses in Jacksonville

Once more unto the breach dear sockpuppets! And don't forget the chips. Tonight, CNN, 8 PM EST.

And tonight's pre-debate question: what question would you ask each candidate if you were the moderator?

By the way, there is a glitch with the comments. When we get above 200 comments, you either have to click on the title to the article or post a comment to see anything beyond 200.

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Should All Nominees Be Supported?

Should a political party’s nominee always be supported? Generally, the answer is yes. A political party is a collection of people whose views overlap enough to give them a common interest in getting each other elected. To that end, they form a party with the implicit agreement that they will compete with each other to represent the party and then will support the nominee regardless of the outcome of the competition. Thus, the nominee should be supported. But there is an exception.

This exception arises when (1) the nominee’s views are well outside the range of common interests which hold the party together, and (2) there is a legitimate belief that supporting this nominee will harm the long term goals of the party.

On the first point, Reagan famously said that he could support anyone with whom he agreed on 80% of the issues. Reagan was making the point that it is foolish and counterproductive to require 100% agreement with a nominee before you can support them. Indeed, 100% agreement is probably impossible. Hence, this is the reason moderates should support conservatives and conservatives should support moderates and libertarians should support social conservatives and vice versa.

But Reagan’s point also contains the implicit understanding that at some point (possibly below 80% using Reagan’s formula) there is no obligation to support the nominee. Why would this be? For that, we need to look at the question of harm.

Companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to ensure their products remain consistent. They want to make sure you find the exact same amount in each cereal box, that every batch of Mac and Cheese tastes the same, that every sock has the same number of stitches, and that every Acura uses only Acura parts. Why? Because having a consistent level of quality affects how people perceive their brands. People want to know exactly what they are getting when they make a purchase and branding achieves that -- whereas failing to maintain that consistency damages the brand because people will no longer know what to expect from their purchase.

Whether we like the idea or not, a political party is nothing more than a company, and its product or brand is an ideological range. Choosing a nominee from outside that range blurs the identity of the party and damages its brand.

How? For one thing, this will alienate supporters. Supporters expect nominees to be within the ideological range. When they aren’t, the party has violated the contract under which it claims a right to the individual’s support. It is the equivalent of McDonalds selling you a Big Mac container but including a ham sandwich rather than a burger. This is a violation of trust.

Moreover, this confuses voters. When a person represents a party or ideology, their views become associated with that party or ideology and their successes/failures taint the ideology. In other words, the nominee redefines how the public views conservatism or liberalism, and their meanings change. Hence, conservatism and Republicanism came to be associated with Nixon’s views in 1968, Reagan’s views in 1980, and Bush Jr.’s views in 2000 -- I exclude Bush Sr. because he claimed to be a moderate. Liberalism, by comparison, came to be associated with FDR, LBJ, Carter, and now Obama. Clinton called himself a moderate.

Prior to LBJ, the majority political view of the nation was FDR-liberalism. This could have continued indefinitely, except LBJ disgraced liberalism. His errors in Vietnam and his monstrous Great Society wiped out the Democratic party in the South and set the stage for a conservative resurgence. Jimmy Carter finished liberalism off by proving that Democrats are reckless spenders, incompetent managers of the economy, and militarily inept and cowardly. This set the stage for Reagan.

Reagan’s success revived conservatism while also redefining it back to its roots -- away from the big-government conservatism of the Nixon years. By the time Reagan left office, conservatism had become the natural ideology of the country and 60% of the public believed it.

This could have lasted for generations, except along came George Bush Jr. He wrapped himself in the conservative label and set about running a big government, civil-liberties-crushing, crony-capitalism, foreign-adventuring administration which so thoroughly discredited conservatism that in 2008, the voters were more radically liberal and more willing to accept liberalism than they had been at any time since LBJ. The ONLY THING THAT SAVED CONSERVATISM was the election of Barack Obama. If Obama hadn’t proven to be such a disaster, conservatism would be dead today. But Obama was a disaster and he caused a massive backlash which took the form of the Tea Party.

The lesson here is simple.

Ideologies get defined by their leaders and they get punished for the sins of their leaders. If a nominee calls himself conservative but acts like a liberal, the public doesn’t blame liberalism for his crimes and failures, it blames conservatism even if that person never once acted like a true conservative. Thus, Bush and Nixon, neither of whom could be called conservatives, discredited conservatism. LBJ/Carter/Obama, each of who were progressives and not liberals, discredited liberalism. And in each case, the only thing to save conservatism/liberalism was pure luck that someone worse came along to discredit the other side. If Moderate Joe Democrat had come along after George Bush Jr., we could well be looking at an America that views liberalism as the natural order of things and sees conservatism as meaning reckless spending, bad economic management, and cronyism.

Moreover, the nominee need not even be as disastrous as a Bush/Obama to harm the ideology. The goal of politics is to effect long term change in the country. That is simply not possible when the person representing your ideology holds views that are inconsistent with the ideology. This muddies the ideological waters and confuses the differences between the parties. In other words, when the Republicans and the Democrats both push the same solutions to the same issues, voters will come to believe there is no difference, and they will either stop voting or they will pick the party that promises them the most loot -- advantage Democrats.

This is what happens when you pick someone who is far outside the acceptable ideological range for the party or who happens to be insane. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if Newt or Santorum or Romney or Paul are so far outside the bounds that you should not support them, but ask yourself: “how bad would it be for the party, for my beliefs, and for the country if conservatism came to be defined in the way ____ sees it?”

Winning elections is important, but you don’t want to sacrifice the future to win a single election.

By the way, there's an interesting poll out which shows that 33% of Republicans want a new candidate to jump into the race. This is down from 68% only two months ago. I think the field is set.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Scott's Links January 2012

For those who don't know, Scott roams the internet far and wide. Because of this, he supplies interesting links to Big Hollywood every day. I've asked Scott to give us a list of the best links he finds each month and a quick synopsis of what's behind each one. Check these out. . . share your thoughts!

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Lost In The Shuffle Of Saving The Middle Class

Barack Obama has delivered his State of the Union address (aka, "free campaign speech") in which he laid out (sort of) his plans to save the middle class and restore the economy. At the same time, he made it clear that we must not act hastily on creating jobs if it would mean damaging the environment.

Another lame excuse for protecting his enviroweenie base, and at the cost of stalling the Keystone XL Pipeline. I'll leave it to others (here, if you choose) to vet the State of the Union baloney. I want to concentrate on one facet of that baloney. Job creation. Obama cites General Motors (aka Government Motors) as an example of his success. Well, billions of taxpayers dollars bailed GM out while the government destroyed the shares of genuine investors and turned over major company ownership to the unions which largely created the problem in the first place.

Obama spoke of "creating jobs for the future" while sidestepping the 20,000 jobs which would have been created almost instantly without the need for government assistance or government interference. Lack of control and minimal interference with success is not part of the Obama plan. So even after being given the opportunity to approve the Keystone XL pipeline after having rejected it earlier, Obama stopped the project in its tracks, again. For once, he actually did something ahead of schedule. Somehow his agenda gets priority treatment while the people's business can wait.

Obama says "tear down those regulations which block the creation of new businesses" after having used the EPA's regulations and the State Department's ignorance to block the XL Pipeline. He brags about all the energy sources that he has opened up, but somehow doesn't see blocking a "shovel-ready" project as a direct contravention of those words. Pie-in-the-sky future energy developments, subsidized by the government, are somehow preferable to tried and true and fully-vetted projects like Keystone XL.

Obama has done some insider Democrat calculus and decided that he needs the enviroweenies to save his presidency, and that the union jobs lost by squelching the Keystone Pipeline will not deter the unions from coming home to Daddy in November. Obama says the Pipeline hasn't been studied sufficiently so maybe it could, possibly, go forward at some future date. No "let's get it done right away" for the Pipeline. That is added to the fact that the Pipeline got more in-depth study over a period of years than Solyndra got "right away."

Unlike Solyndra, the Pipeline stands on its own. The people behind the Keystone project complied with every demand of local, state and federal regulators, and accommodated the concerns of local environmentalists, changing the route from that originally planned.

Obama spoke of all sorts of energy schemes, even including oil and avoiding support for Middle East tyrannies. But when it came to this one "shovel-ready" job, originating in a friendly nation on our own borders, no dice. The enviroweenies got what they wanted and the State Department deeply offended a firm ally. And unlike Solyndra, no investment of American taxpayer funds is required for the Pipeline, and both the materials and technology are already proven and in place. All that was left to do was a simple approval.

Obama has once again promised many things he either can't deliver or has no intention of delivering. He can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but, well, you know the rest (Obama is not the only one who can quote Lincoln). There is simply no honest and realistic way to explain away his killing of jobs on or related to the Keystone XL Pipeline. And in keeping with that, Obama made no mention of the Pipeline whatsoever, dodging the issue while rambling on about energy and job creation. In the Republican response offered by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, he referred to the lost jobs produced by Obama's thumbs-down on the project.

Finally, there is more than just the ecoweenie vote to consider. Green energy is big business, even if it can't come close to employing the same number of workers or providing an equivalent amount of energy as a Keystone XL type of operation. Millions, perhaps billions, are being earmarked for green projects that are part of Obama's crony socialism program. In return for government largess and favoritism, the heads of these futuristic schemes are thrilled to pour big bucks into the Obama coffers.

They even get special deals which appear to violate federal law. The founder and CEO of Solyndra was granted a contract which included subordinating the taxpayers' interest in the corporation to his own in the event of bankruptcy. In reasonable and ethical times, the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. Yet this administration seems to be very efficient at picking and funding the losers.

Note: Yesterday (Tuesday), Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced a bill to force the approval of the Keystone Pipeline. It is called the Keystone for a Secure Tomorrow Act (K-FAST). I don't have sufficient information yet to be able to make any further comment on the proposal.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

T-Rav's Sockpuppets v. Obama's STFUSOTU

The only thing worse that another debate (like the one tomorrow night) is a SOTU. Good God! Why? The union is in a lousy state. Obama is the problem. The solution is obvious. Why do we need to waste two hours listening to our incompetent president try to explain his failure? Well, here goes:

And while we're waiting lets predict some of what Obama might say tonight and what he should say instead.

I'll start. . . He'll say: "It's all Bush's fault!" He should say: "Whoops."

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Manatee Madness Debate Wrap Up

There was another debate last night. It stank. Yeah, even by the standards of recent debates, this was a turkey. Here’s what happened.

Winner: Brian Williams. Williams manipulated the candidates like a chess master last night. He got them fighting each other. He tossed mud and they re-tossed it. He had them buying into leftist assumptions all night and pledging fealty to leftist ideals. He also did his best to prolong the horserace and thereby help Obama by making Romney and Gingrich look bad while making Santorum and Paul look good.

Loser: Newt. Here’s why Newt should have lost. Newt lied through his teeth and proved repeatedly that he’s a slimeball. Here are some samples:
● Romney very accurately went through Newt’s baggage. Newt attacked him for telling “at least four lies.” What were these supposed lies? Newt sidestepped: “I’m not going to waste time going through them.” That’s because they weren’t lies and Newt knew it. But in making this kind of defense, Newt dodged his entire record and called Romney a liar, even though Newt was actually the one lying. This is a schoolyard bully tactic.

● Newt was sent packing by the House Republicans in disgrace. Last night, Newt actually tried to claim HE asked the Republicans to vote to censure him because he was becoming “a distraction to the cause.” How noble. Of course, this is a stunning lie and Ron Paul called him on it later. Newt also claimed he wasn’t fined, despite the $300,000 fine that’s on the record. Apparently, Newt is betting you’re too stupid to look it up.

● Newt claimed in prior debates that he created Ronald Reagan and Reaganomics. Anyone with a brain knows this is a lie, and last time, Romney countered that Newt is only mentioned once in Reagan’s Diary. Nevertheless, Newt repeated the claim last night and added a suggestion that he created Barry Goldwater too. This is Megalomania.

● Newt tries to pilfer supporters by talking about how much he agrees with certain candidates without ever actually saying how he agrees with them. Last night it was Santorum’s turn. He also pandered again to the Ron Paul people on the Fed and on gold by claiming views Newt has never held.

● Slimeball Newt keeps making smears while claiming he has no intention of smearing his target. For example, he said he wouldn't make an issue of the tax rate Romney paid. . . right before smearing Romney for not paying enough in taxes because he’s rich. This is the politics of envy and anti-capitalism.

● Newt lied big time and smeared Romney about lobbying. Freddie Mac’s lobbying office paid Newt $25,000 a month to act as a consultant, which apparently involved visiting Congressmen on its behalf. That’s called “lobbying.” Yet, Newt used a false technicality to claim he was never a lobbyist: he claims he was a “consultant” and not a “lobbyist.” Except lobbyists always call themselves consultants, and what really matters in determining whether someone is a lobbyist is what they do, not what their job titles are. Newt was a lobbyist and he knows it and he’s lying to hide it.

He also tried to turn a million dollar lobbying income into $30,000 by claiming he only got a small portion of the amount he was paid because the rest went to a business, which is wholly owned by. . . Newt.

Then he doubled down on gall by accusing Romney of being a lobbyist because Romney also worked as a consultant. Only, “consultant” is a generic title for anyone who performs special tasks under contract rather than as an employee. No evidence has been produced suggesting Romney ever lobbied or worked in the lobbying industry. Newt’s suggestion to the contrary is a lie.

He then also tried to claim that all of Bain Capital’s income was actually Romney’s income, even though the claim is ridiculous.

● Newt said he opposes the DREAM Act, but he again promptly said he supports its parts. Then he mis-described the act to make it sound palatable: Newt argued that it provides a path to citizenship for those who serve in the military. But that’s already the law. The DREAM Act gives citizenship for college attendance and uses taxpayer funds to pay for the tuition.
But conservatives are proving they aren’t smart enough to distinguish between substance and the Big Shiny, so that’s not why Newt lost. Newt lost last night because he didn’t deliver the Big Shiny. His attacks on the media fell flat, the audience didn’t whoop, he landed no blows, and he never looked commanding. And without the Big Shiny, he’s just an ass.

Perfect Attendance: Romney. Romney gave a great defense of capitalism, refused to apologize for being successful, gave a great defense of English only (it’s the key to success to “speak the language of America” and teaching students in foreign languages leaves them unprepared for school -- when they changed the law in Massachusetts to require English immersion their schools shot up the charts), and he landed a few solid blows on Gingrich. But I don’t think conservatives were listening. They’re too busy proving the media’s meme about conservatives having crushes on whoever is hot at the moment.

Winner: Santorum. Santorum is a noxious socialist and a liar. But Brian Williams helped package him as a “genuine conservative” by repeatedly touting his conservatism as a fact, by never asking him about controversial issues, by posing the questions as softballs, and by never following up on the answers no matter how ridiculous. For example, he didn’t even follow up when Santorum said there was good capitalism and “destructive capitalism.” He also let Santorum get away with implying he was opposed to illegal immigration because “they broke the law when they came here and every day when they work illegally” even though Santorum has actually worked to make it impossible to stop illegals from working.

Winner: Paul. As with Santorum, Williams did his best to hide Paul’s crazy. He tossed out softballs and avoided anything truly controversial.

All in all, last night felt like a wash. There was no decisive win, no decisive moment, and I doubt any candidate helped themselves much. The one guy who was probably most hurt was Newt who failed to deliver the Big Shiny, but we’ll have to see how that affects his supporters. At this point, Florida will come down to a few factors: (1) Will more moderates or more conservatives turn out on the 31st? Florida always seems to shift toward the center from what the polls predict. (2) Will enough people who know Newt come out and explain why they aren’t supporting him. (3) Can Newt get a Big Shiny in Thursday’s debate and will people remember it when they vote? Apparently, 1/3 of Florida has already voted. And (4) who will Democrats vote for to cause the most problems?

Finally, let me ask this. The complaint about Romney is that he flipped from moderate to conservative. That’s a legitimate complaint. But how does it make sense for conservatives to prefer candidates who not only held the same moderate views Romney did, but have never made the flip to conservatism?

Don't Forget: There's a new Politics of Trek today at the film site.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

T-Rav's Sockpuppet Theater Presents: Floriduh!

It's time for the first Sunshine State Debate of the week and that's somehow fitting, given the proximity of Disney World and the fact that we would be better off turning the country over to toons. Tell us which Disney characters remind you of each of the candidates and why.

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DOJ Discovers The Constitution

The United States Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder considers the Constitution to be an infinitely malleable document, subject to the whim of temporary majorities, Congress and the Chief Executive. But as of last week, it found one constitutional provision it considers cast in concrete. That would be the Fifth Amendment.

US Attorney Patrick J. Cunningham, deeply-involved in the Fast and Furious scandal, is invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Committee is looking into who is responsible for the gun-running operation which has ended up with thousands of weapons in the hands of Mexican criminal cartels and which has resulted in an unimaginable number of deaths in Mexico and that of a Border Agent inside America's borders.

Sooner or later, high-ranking members of criminal organizations such as the Mafia and the Department of Justice learn that lying only trips them up, while silence protected by the Constitution only makes them look guilty but can’t be used as proof of guilt. That certainly fits Cunningham, who is the chief of the Criminal Division of the US Attorney’s Field Office in Arizona. When you get caught flouting the law and end-running the Constitution, become a devotee of that selfsame Constitution.

Then, when your arse is showing as you get caught with your pants down, hire a savvy lawyer to blame the victims and the system. Use the Al Gore defense when El Rotundo was caught taking money from the cash box of Buddhist nuns: “I didn’t do it, and I’ll never do it again.” Cunningham’s lawyer says: “Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress [on Operation Fast and Furious]. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly.” Deny the claim, then call the informants liars.

The lawyer even uses classic mob jargon. “The Department of Justice in Washington is making him the fall guy, claiming he failed to accurately provide the Oversight Committee with information on the execution of Fast and Furious.” Cunningham doesn’t even have the honor to fall on his sword and take the heat for the actions of his Capo, Eric Holder. So he attacks the Justice Department before it has even accused him of anything. Right now, the only ones pointing the finger of blame at him are Congressional investigators, some Committee members, and a lineup of witnesses. But not the Department itself.

Now Cunningham may find himself directly in line with that pointed finger from DOJ. He is soon going to find out how much honor Holder, Obama and the whole Democratic machine have. You won’t take a small hit for us? Then we will utterly destroy you, your family, and your reputation. You have fouled up our gun-grabbing, gun-running plan, and you will pay the price for trying to dirty our skirts!

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa says “The assertion of the Fifth Amendment by a senior Justice official is a significant indictment of the Department’s integrity in Operation Fast and Furious. The former head of the ATF has previously told the committee that the Justice Department is managing its response to Operation Fast and Furious in a manner designed to protect its political appointees. This is the first time anyone has asserted their Fifth Amendment right in this investigation and heightens concerns that the Justice Department’s motivation for refusing to hand over subpoenaed materials is a desire to shield responsible officials from criminal charges and other embarrassment.”

As tough as that statement is, it’s probably mild compared to what Cunningham has been threatened with by those same DOJ political appointees (including Holder himself) if he caves in somewhere along the line and refuses to take the fall for the unethical and vicious behavior of the out-of-control Justice Department.

At first, the Obama administration, with Holder as its front-man, claimed they were completely unaware of the “gunwalking” plot and had no knowledge of any of its details. Over the months since, huge piles of evidence and testimony have piled up that show those original statements to be outright lies. In order to protect their political skins, it became necessary to find someone in the Justice Department who could be blamed for keeping Holder and Obama in the dark about Fast and Furious. It’s a lame tactic, but it could become the focus on one individual that takes the spotlight off Holder and Obama long enough to get through the next election cycle. It looks like the designated sacrifice is Cunningham.

The “rogue agents” and “rogue Justice Department field office heads” theory simply reeks of unethical and perhaps criminal manipulation of facts and what Bill Clinton called the politics of personal destruction. Holder and Obama are pedaling like mad to distance themselves from this deadly scandal. Poor Cunningham is going to have to make a choice somewhere along the line. Face the possibility of serious legal sanctions against him and ‘fess up now, or wait, and risk the possibility of that plus the wrath of the Holder Justice Department. Oh, what a tangled web we weave, etc.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Harvard Professor Plays Populist

While we've all been concentrating on the South Carolina primary results, another interesting battle is being joined way up north. It's the entrance of Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren into the Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary, planning to run as the "common man" against incumbent Republican Scott Brown, who also ran as the candidate of the common man.

Warren wishes to regain the Democratic "Kennedy" Senate seat they lost two years ago when Republican Brown managed to re-dub it "the people's seat." Early indications are that this will turn out to be the battle of the populists. With Brown, there's unlikely to be anything new. He will likely tour the state in his pickup truck, wearing his simple outdoor jacket and telling his stories of being just plain folks.

For Warren, this is going to be a foray into fantasy. Turning the Henry Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard into an average Josephine is not going to be easy. However, Warren has already chosen her starting point. Since America is being run by the 1% super-rich, she has staked out her field of play as one of the 99% of oppressed powerless Americans. Early on, Warren grabbed every possible opportunity to support the Occupy Wall Street movement, and has continued to support the movement as it has metastasized nationwide.

Professor Warren is a self-styled "Okie." Well, she was born in Oklahoma City, so it's not entirely a lie. In one broadcast she said "I'm going for the hick vote here. I just want you to know. Maybe we could start wearing stickers that say 'Hicks for Elizabeth.' Could we do that?" There's a fine line between identifying with a group and mocking it, but Elizabeth Warren is counting on Massachusetts to see it as the former rather than the latter.

There also seems to be in Massachusetts a willingness to ignore a possible carpetbagger issue even though Warren has spent most of her life elsewhere. After Oklahoma, she has lived and taught in New Jersey, Texas and Pennsylvania. And then there's that little detail that until 1995, she was a registered Republican (of the RINO wing, of course).

One has to wonder if she will soon start campaigning in a pickup truck older than Brown's, being sure to carry at least one bail of hay in the truck bed. Warren lives in a $1.7 million dollar home, and tends to speak with the sounds of the Harvard Yard. It's a little early to see if she'll start broadening her "I"s to "ahs" and saying y'all, a la Hillary Clinton, but if she does she's likely to sound equally ridiculous. It's also hard to figure whom she is trying to identify with since Massachusetts has few farms left, and even fewer blue-collar factories. The biggest majority of the Bay State's "industry" is comprised of biotechnology, finance, insurance, and other clearly white-collar pursuits. Oh, and I almost forgot, academia.

Well, there's populism and then there's populism. Warren has chosen to identify with the blue collar worker and the rural farmer in a state that suffers from a paucity of both. That runs counter to the unfolding Obama plan to include suburban white collar workers, teachers, artists, lawyers, social workers, and psychologists in his definition of the 99% who comprise "the people." Maybe they're both counting on the voters to be mesmerized by their self-contradictory academia-babble and ignore their palpable elitism.

The "hick" candidate is a longtime academic theorizer and left wing Democratic operative. Interestingly, her legal career is also mostly academic, but her specialty is bankruptcy. She has long advocated for an agency which would tell businesses how to conduct their affairs, and was ultimately a major player in passage of the Dodd-Frank bill. After the Democratic sweep in 2008, she was appointed by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid to the five member Congressional Oversight Panel to implement the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

Warren was thought to be in line for the appointment as head of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau created by Dodd-Frank, but was considered by the President's inner circle as a better choice for a state office. Obama selected Richard Cordray instead, and sent Warren back to Massachusetts and Harvard. Warren will not run against the Obama administration's policies, but has instead chosen a different populist path for her personal campaign. It will be interesting to see which version of populism works, if either.
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The Great (film) Debates vol. 22

Where are my flying cars!! Science fiction may be visionary, but sometimes it’s annoyingly wrong too.

What do you think was the silliest guess about the future made in a science fiction film?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

Saturday, January 21, 2012

T-Rav's Sockpuppet Votatorium Presents: Primarily South Carolina

Today is the big day in South Carolina. They're finally opening the new WalMart! Oh, and they're having a primary election. It's Romney v. Newt for the Palmetto state, winner take (proportionally) all!
Fox has already started their coverage. CNN starts at 7:00 PM EST. Join us!

In the meantime, riddle me this: if you could make any other country into a state, which country would it be and what would you call the state?

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Weekend Newsdrop

These Friday afternoon news drops are getting to be the "new normal". You know what I mean. This is when the current Administration wants to appear "transparent", so they drop news on Friday afternoon while everyone is out enjoying their date night. It may not always be on Friday, but with the cooperation of the MSM, they can place the news at the perfect time where no one will pay too much attention and they can control the fallout. It is not unique to this Administration, but they have raised it to an art form. Here are two examples from this week:

The Bane of Bain Capital: Obama and his cohorts (with the help of Rick Santorum), have made this huge deal about how awful it is that Mitt (Milton) Romney worked for Bain Capital. I won't bore with what Bain Capital is because you know. Well, guess what? As bad as Obama and his cohorts want us to believe Romney is the great scourge of 99%'ers everywhere, they've done gone and hired themselves a former Bain guy of their very own! Well to be more accurate they have promoted one. The White House proudly, yet quietly, announced this week that Jeffrey Zeints former Deputy of the Office of Management and Budget has been promoted to Director following the promotion of the former Director as Chief of Staff. Obama included the following statement with the announcement:

“I’m pleased to designate Jeff Zients to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Since day one, Jeff has demonstrated superb judgment and has provided sound advice on a whole host of issues,”

They were careful to stress that Zients has “twenty years as a CEO, management consultant, and entrepreneur", however they failed to mention that he worked quite extensively with Bain Capital as far back as 1988. Romney worked at Bain from 1977-1984 and from 1991-1992, so their paths must have crossed. One would think by all the brouhaha, that Romney worked there right before his campaign started and right after he shaved off his large, waxed handlebar mustache that he used to twirl while throwing little old ladies out on the streets! But then again, Zientz probably worked for Bain Capital in the those years where they were the good guys.

GM Volt Update: I reported last week that GM and the National Highway Transportation Safety Adminsitration (NHTSA) had come to an understanding that GM had to fix the exploding batteries in the GM Volt. They both agreed with a plan and then let everyone know there was a problem. Well, because of this unprecedented cooperation between industry and government, the NHTSA has decided that no further action is needed and they have closed the investigation on this matter. According to Sec't of Transportation Ray LaHood, there nothing to see here, move along.

Fortunately, Congress thinks otherwise. Rep. Darrell Issa (R/CA) Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says "Not so fast". He has called all the parties to appear before his committee on Wednesday to explain who knew what when. GM CEO Dan Ackerson and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland are scheduled to explain why they knew about the fires in June of 2011, but failed to announce it to the taxpayer/stockholders until November 2011. Oh, and why the Obama Administration may have known in September.

Well, that's two. Do you know of any others? We need to keep the pressure on.
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Film Friday: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

I see where The Adjustment Bureau looked like a brilliant concept. Random chance brings a man and woman together. They fall in love. But God’s plan for the world requires they be apart. Angels separate them, but the man fights against God’s plan to be with his true love. That’s an incredible amount of fascinating conflict. Sadly, Bureau mishandles every aspect of this and muddles all the conflict, which makes it feel as tired and indifferent as the last few weeks of a canceled television show.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

California Doesn't Need Dead Voters

While Eric Holder is blocking voter ID requirements in South Carolina, Rahm Emmanuel is registering dead people in Chicago, and ACORN's successors are registering people randomly selected from the phone book or the Baseball Hall of Fame, California Democrats are guaranteeing their success the old-fashioned way. Redistricting.

While Holder in the DOJ is protecting “minority and poor” voters in South Carolina from the onerous burden of having to obtain a [free] state photo ID, he is perfectly fine with photo ID being required to get on an airplane, to buy cigarettes and booze, some OTC medications and to obtain a “get your food free” electronic debit card. Meanwhile, the Chicago mayor is working furiously to protect the additional right to vote guaranteed in the Constitution to the deceased. In St. Louis, Indianapolis and other places, persons with the same name as famous sports figures and cartoon characters must be protected from the racists who want them to prove who they are before voting. It makes me wonder if in Chicago dead sports figures or Mickey Mouse get two votes.

California, being the most creative of all the states in guaranteeing Democratic victories, has avoided such common methods of adding extra votes. In fact, given their current plan, they don’t even need to add phony votes. And why, you ask? Because the state has been so carefully gerrymandered that it makes strong Democratic majorities almost inevitable.

That’s nothing new, you say. Well, I mentioned that California is übercreative. Unlike other states where the majority political machine draws electoral districts, Democratic Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown and the entire Democratic Party are the beneficiaries of a “people’s initiative” which took the power to redistrict away from the legislature and placed it in the hands of a “non-partisan” commission comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independents.

The result is a redistricting map for Congressional and state elections which favors Democrats even more than the previous Democratic legislature’s gerrymander. The public was sold on the non-partisan nature of the commission, and Republicans cooperated because all indications were that they would pick up a few seats in the conservative Central Valley if the lines were drawn fairly. The road to electoral disaster is paved with good intentions.

Unknown to the public, various left wing and Democratic (redundancy?) organizations were preparing well in advance to skew the results of the commission hearings. ProPublica is the whistleblower that is now bringing the matter to the public’s attention and participating in a new initiative drive to abolish the commission and put redistricting into the hands of the courts. You might think that this is just sour grapes from the Republicans. But ResPublica is a non-profit investigative journalism group formed by liberal Democrats, even getting funding from George Soros surrogates. The only person in the watchdog journalism group who is not a Democrat or Independent is former Wall Street Journal editor Paul Steiger. They obviously took their duty to be more important than their funding.

The commission held hearings throughout the state, not realizing that facts and opinions thought to be from “average citizens” were actually heavily-infiltrated by Democratic operatives. Each witness was, for obvious reasons, supposed to be a member of the local community where each successive hearing was held. ProPublica found a secret memo outlining the results of an earlier meeting of prominent California Democrats mapping out a strategy for misinforming the commission.

Part of the plan was to get Democratic and leftist allies to show up to testify in swing and weakly-Republican districts, purporting to be local citizens. The enabling legislation which pretended to put the voter initiative into operation fairly was written by the Democrat-controlled legislature. Oddly (?) it contained no requirements that those testifying before the commission prove that they were residents of the locale in which the hearing was being held. I wonder how that happened. Maybe they should have required valid state-issued photo ID.

The most egregious of the scams uncovered by ProPublica was a female witness who claimed to be a lifelong member of the Asian community in the San Gabriel Valley. In fact, ProPublica investigated and found that she is a paid Democratic lobbyist who spent most of her life in rural Idaho and at the time of the hearings lived (and still lives) in Sacramento.

As you can see, California is exceptionally creative. Why register dead people, convicted felons, names drawn from the telephone book, and sports figures when you can obtain electoral victories by meddling with an independent commission and producing what appears to be a nonpartisan, fairly-drawn electoral map? The result of the commission’s redistricting, even if drawn in good faith, was weighted far more heavily toward preserving or creating Democratic districts and breaking up Republican-leaning districts, all with a cover of non-partisanship and fairness. And it was based largely on false input from the “public.”

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

T-Rav's Sockpuppet Theater Presents: A Gaggle Of Idiots

And then there were four: the Teletubbies got Rick Perry! Oh my! Anyway, North Carolina is first in flight, which makes South Carolina first in complaining about airport noise. . . and tonight we're going to hear a LOT of noise. Get ready for another Republican Smackdown!

While we wait for the debate on CNN at 8:00 PM, tell us your state's motto (or make one up if you don't know yours) and tell us how you would improve it or with what you would replace it!

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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

The Occupy DC mob hadn't even gotten the official notice that His Royal Oneness would be making his re-coronation speech at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina stadium when one of the occupiers lobbed a smoke bomb over the White House fence. If the Tea Party had thrown a shaken-up can of Coke over that same fence, we would have been facing a full-fledged national emergency. Martial law, perhaps.

Had the mainstream media covered the "event," they would have had to admit that the "tens of thousands" of demonstrators were actually more like the low hundreds. So the few outlets that actually reported the incident at all simply shrugged their editorial shoulders and minimized the danger. Any 99%er who would toss a smoke bomb at the White House must be an aberration, we know they're peaceful, and the bomb was harmless, after all.

The day began with the Occupiers forming up at the wrong end of Pennsylvania Avenue, in contravention of their permit. The incident was an offshoot of the Occupy Congress demonstration planned for the day. That demonstration was supposed to have been comprised of at least 10,000 protestors, but there weren't even close to that many people. So maybe the smoke bomb was originally intended for the halls of Congress. Who knows? The police made no arrests nor is there any apparent investigation into who actually tossed the bomb. And the Obamas weren't at home anyway.

The crowd at the White House was easy to disperse--not a lot of demonstrators and plenty of police and Secret Service to move them down the street. The threat was minor, though if the bomb had gone off in the hands of a law enforcement officer trying to pick it up, there could have been some serious injury. But here's what occurs to me. No arrests. What if it had been one wild Tea Partier who had gone off the rails and tossed the smoke bomb? There would have been hundreds of arrests. First, the bomb-thrower. Then, the Tea Partiers who climbed over the fence to clean up after the bomb-thrower.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"A Night To Remember" -- The Titanic In Film Since 1953

By Tennessee Jed

Few, if any, events in modern times have captured public imagination as has the Titanic disaster. That assertion is bolstered by the fact four feature length films, not to mention two made for television movies, have chronicled its demise. Numerous other productions, some dating as far back as 1912, feature either Titanic or a thinly veiled substitute.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms [+]

The All-Rat News Roundup

It’s time to get you caught up on the news. Today’s roundup has a special theme: rats. They’re everywhere and now they have rights.

King Rat: Lord Obama has decided he will formally accept the Democratic nomination at the 74,000 seat Bank of America stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. A couple thoughts:
1. It’s stunning hubris for an incumbent president to accept the nomination of his party at a 74,000 seat stadium when he is unopposed.

2. Given Obama’s recent inability to even fill pool halls when he speaks, should we wonder how many people will show up to this shindig?

3. How ironic that Obama picks a stadium named after a TARP bank!

4. Do you think the rich will descend from their stadium luxury boxes to mix with the peons?

5. This will be hurricane season, let’s hope God gets his smite on.
Rat Relocators: Washington, D.C., which leads the country in homicides, corruption and abject stupidity, has passed the idiotic law to end all idiotic laws: the Wildlife Protection Act of 2010. This thing is so crazy you couldn’t make it up. It provides that exterminators may no longer kill rats and other vermin. Instead, they must be captured. . . in families. . . and then relocated to Virginia or Maryland. A few questions:
1. Do they have to do DNA tests to determine if they’re all from the same family? And how do they know they caught them all?

2. What, no counseling?

3. Can they incarcerate their captives until they have the whole family or do they need to get them all at once?
Rat Hunter: In 2008, Romney was lampooned when he said he hunts “small varmints” when people demanded to know if he hunts. Apparently, you must hunt BIG GAME to show you support the Second Amendment. This time around, Romney got confused between moose (meese?) hunting and elk hunting. So naturally, idiots like David Asselrod jumped on this by joking that Romney was “on the horns of a dilemma.” (fyi, they’re called antlers David. . . if you’re going to poke fun at someone, don’t be a bigger idiot).

The issue of hunting came up in the debate as well. And this raises a question which has been bother me: when did the Second Amendment become about hunting? The Second Amendment isn’t there to protect hunting. It has NOTHING to do with that. The Second Amendment is a right to be armed to defend yourself against an overbearing government or whatever else may come your way, i.e. criminals, meese, foreign invaders, E.T. To require a candidate to prove they’ve killed some animal just to demonstrate their fealty to the Second Amendment is as ridiculous as requiring them to curse in public to show they support the First Amendment.

Dirty Rats: Why are Republicans demanding that Romney release his taxes? What are they expecting to find? “Oh look, he took the ‘sponsor a pedophile’ deduction!” All this can do is harm the nominee by playing into class warfare arguments where rich journalists decry the amount of money Republicans make while ignoring the much richer Democrats. But more importantly, in America, it’s nobody’s business what you make. And Republicans need to stop playing this game.

Sinking Ship Rats: Today is the day of the SOPA boycott when many websites (e.g. the Wikipedia) will shut themselves down to protest SOPA and PIPA. The bills are starting to fail. Not only will neither bill apparently be brought to a vote, but as the rats in Congress and the Senate have come to realize just how angry the public is at this, they’ve started to flee the sinking ship. Scott Brown and a group of Senate Republicans are the latest to declare their opposition. Even one of PIPA’s sponsors, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md), now opposes the bill. Apparently, Obama objecting the bill has scared the Democrats and reality has woken up many of the Republicans.

No doubt Republicans Lamar Smith and Marsha Blackburn are confused how the country could suddenly be so overrun with communists. Perhaps they should call for an exterminator relocator?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Debate Wrap: Romney By A Length

. . . and the debates keep coming. Last night was the first of two debates this week from South Carolina. It was an interesting night and it will be interesting to see if this changes the race. Romney continues to roll and Perry helped himself a lot. Newt did well, sort of. The rest, not so much. Let’s discuss.

Loser: Juan Williams. Juan was the biggest loser because he proved he’s a race baiter extraordinaire. All he talked about was racism: cutting taxes is racist, being white is racist, not offering money to poor blacks is racist, telling blacks they need jobs is racist, the word “poor” is code word for “black” and is racist, repeating Obama’s words is racist, and criticizing Obama is racist. Juan even suggested that Romney betrayed his own race (he’s part Mexican) because he’s opposed to illegal immigration and won’t pander to Hispanics on that issue. Juan needs therapy.

Winner: Mitt Romney. Romney won the debate, hands down. Not only did he handle the other’s attacks on him well, but he continues to come across as increasingly more conservative (and thoughtfully conservative). For example:

When they attacked his Bain Capital record, Romney pointed out that Bain bought over 100 different businesses and turned most of them around (22 ended up in bankruptcy). The steel mill he shut down in South Carolina only closed after seven years of Bain trying to turn it around, it failed because of Chinese dumping of steel, and Bain later managed to open a newer mill in Indiana. This, he pointed out, gave him solid knowledge of how the economy really works and of the threat posed by China. He also mentioned that Bain’s companies created more than 120,000 jobs.

He then mentioned that his success as Bain led to him being asked to rescue the Olympics, which he did. And during his time as Governor of Massachusetts, the state had a 4.7% unemployment rate, a balanced budget, they reduced taxes nineteen times, and filled a “rainy day” fund with $2 billion. In effect, he went from success to success to success and proved he could succeed in the real economy, succeed at fixing bureaucratic messes, and succeed in running a state dominated by Democrats. That’s a solid sales pitch which easily defused the attacks on Bain.

In addition to defending his record, Romney continues to take solid conservative positions on taxes, regulations, deficits, foreign policy, military strength and even social issues. Moreover, he keeps making excellent conservative promises in each debate. This time he promised to (1) halt ALL “Obama era regulations,” effectively reversing Obama’s term, (2) push for voluntary self-directed retirement accounts, and (3) get rid of all campaign finance laws. It was another strong night for him.

Winner: Rick Perry. Apparently, Rick Perry has a retarded twin named Goober Perry. For some strange reason, they let Goober handle the debates up to this point. Last night, Rick stepped in and the difference was remarkable. It’s not that Rick said anything substantive, he didn’t, but for once he sounded like he knew what he was talking about. Indeed, he made it clear that he favors lower taxes and less regulation. He attacked the regulatory abuses of the EPA, Obama’s Labor Board’s attacks on Boeing, and the Justice Department’s interference in state voting issues. He attacked something he called Obama’s war against organized religion. He said Obama’s claim that the border with Mexico is secure is ludicrous and that traffic only slowed because this is the worst economy in 40 years. He defended the soldiers who urinated on the Taliban corpses by contrasting this with the Taliban killing and desecrating Americans. And most interestingly, he made the point that it’s not the government’s responsibility to fix housing and said (roughly): “the best way to get the economy going is not to think about how much we can push the government into the economy, but instead to think of ways to get it out of the economy.”

If this Rick Perry had showed up early on, he would be cruising to an easy win. But he didn’t. So now the question is, does this help Perry or not? Can he steal back voters who have fled to megalomaniac Gingrich or socialist Rick Santorum? It’s not clear, but Rick probably bought his campaign more life after the debacles of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Sort of Loser: Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is a frustrating candidate and last night really displayed why. He is capable of excellence in debating, especially at flipping sucker punches back onto hapless fools like Juan Williams and really taking them down. BUT there’s never any substance to his answers. Instead, he just makes a lot of noise attacking the questioner, mentions Ronald Reagan a dozen times, and then leaves an impression that he would do something different than Obama or the questioner. . . but he never actually tells you what he would do. Example:
Q. “Newt, should the government sell strawberry ice cream?”
A. “I find it insulting that you would ask such a blatantly biased question at a time when few Americans can afford ice cream of any type, and I certainly am not like Obama who doesn’t even realize that strawberry ice cream exists.”
Q. “But should the government sell it?”
A. “Look, I worked with Ronald Reagan and I’m not like Obama.”
Newt’s performance reeks of bread and circuses, but the clown act serves him well with a public that long ago lost the ability to spot substance. He was quite entertaining last night, but as you’ll see below, he lost because of Perry’s surge.

Loser: Ricky Santorum. Ricky again exposed himself as a socialist and a liar. He spent the night denying his own votes and pretending he actually led the charge against the things he voted for. In one particularly galling moment, he tried to deny his vote to force states to let felons vote by (1) attacking Romney for being a governor of a state that lets felons vote (something Romney did not support or sign into law), (2) somehow wrapping himself in the Tenth Amendment and declaring this a state issue, and (3) suggesting it was racist not to let felons vote. In effect, he denied his own vote, accused Romney of doing what only Rick himself had done, accused Romney of not being a conservative because he lived in a state which did what Rick tried to force upon every state, and then flipped it around and accused Romney (and conservatism) of racism for not doing what Rick now denies that he himself did. . . by hey, it’s a state issue. This happened all night on issue after issue and I’ve come to believe Rick is a pathological liar with no sense of shame.

Rick was also rude, as usual, and debates like an angry child. He also has a habit of flip-flopping in the middle of answers. And even beyond that, Rick’s a socialist. He does not trust you to invest in your own retirement, he wants the government to do it for you. He wants to micromanage the economy and stated very clearly that he believes certain companies should be given tax breaks and others not depending on which competitive forces he thinks are at play. But don’t worry, he assured us, he is all for capitalism once he and the government have fixed the economy.

Worse yet, Rick will latch onto any liberal attack and run with it. Last night, he played the race card twice, first when he attacked Romney for wanting to keep felons from voting, which Rick suggested was racist against blacks, and when he played along with Juan Williams’ equation that “poor equals black” and thus not giving money to the poor equals racism. Rick also suggested very strongly that he supports affirmative action.

There is some speculation that Rick is playing for the VP slot, but only a fool would pick the toxic Santorum as a running mate, especially with Allen West saying yesterday that he’s open to being on the ticket.

Loser: Ron Paul. Paul is insane and last night was just too much. Once again he suggested our problems in the Middle East were because we started it by bombing these countries. Then he played the race card by suggesting that the war on drugs is racist and that our criminal justice system is racist. So not only is Paul’s foreign and military policy suicidal, and his economic policy little more than extreme platitudes, but now he’s playing right into liberal smears on conservatism.
Last night helped Romney once again. Not only did he continue to seem presidential, but the anybody-but-Romney camp will remain split and in disarray. With Paul draining away 15% of the vote and Romney earning a consistent 40%, the only hope of the anybody-but-Romney forces is for one of the other three to emerge as the ABR champion. But Gingrich, Santorum and Perry are all horrid candidates, which is preventing any of them from becoming the natural challenger to Romney. Moreover, with Perry showing actual competence last night, he will likely steal back lost supporters from Santorum and Gingrich and thereby stop either of them from pulling ahead.

And in truth, I must say Romney really is earning the nomination. With each passing debate he becomes a better debater and sounds more conservative. He has slowly but surely raised my comfort level with him.

Thoughts? (fyi, there’s another debate Thursday night. . . ugh.)

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