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Thursday, 20 November 2014
Everybody Call It Amnesty...
Topic: Politics & Elections

…but it isn’t. That’s the funny thing about the Community Organizer-in-Chief’s, er, President Obama’s, end run around the Constitution of the United States.

Wait, though, it’s not really that either. As a matter of law Obama may well be within his rights to suspend deportations of millions of illegal aliens and give them work permits. But all he’s doing is putting five million-odd people into administrative limbo. He can’t amnesty them, can’t make them permanent residents, can’t place them on a path to citizenship. They’ll be just as illegal tomorrow as they are right now. So what’s the point?

Obama probably thinks that by doing this he can put the squeeze on the incoming Republican Congress, forcing them into passing his version of comprehensive immigration reform. Some hope! The leverage he imagines he has is nonexistent and his unilateral action scotches any possibility that such a bill could reach his desk. At best, the GOP House and Senate will be sending to the Oval Office piecemeal immigration reform bills the contents of which the President will find highly obnoxious. Knowing Obama, he’ll pout and veto them, all the while decrying those obstructionist Republican bastards on Capitol Hill.

Unfortunately for Obama, in this political poker game Republicans hold the high card. The American people are opposed, repeat, opposed to anything that smacks of amnesty via executive action. Don’t believe me? Look at the polls. All the Republicans have to do is present themselves as grownups dealing as best they can with a presidential temper tantrum. To do this they don’t have to impeach Obama or shut down the government. They just have to force him into using his veto pen—over and over and over again. Given the temperament of our king-emperor, that shouldn’t be difficult.

I’m sure there are people on the Left smart enough to have figured all of the above. Probably they comfort themselves with the thought that the GOP, driven insane by Barry’s master stroke, will have another Ted Cruz moment—closing down national parks, ripping up the food stamps of the underclass, etc. But the campaign leading up to the midterms showed that Republicans have learned their lesson on that score. Instead they seem content to follow Napoleon’s advice: Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake. For President Obama, his party and whichever Democrat is destined to carry the 2016 presidential standard, that is very bad news indeed.

Posted by tmg110 at 5:59 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 20 November 2014 6:00 PM EST
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The Coulter Method
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Progressives loathe and revile her, not so much because she’s a conservative, or a conservative woman, but because Ann Coulter is, well, rude to them. Oh, sure, most conservative pundits have now and then stooped to land a low blow against some paragon of the Left—just recently I had occasion to call Nancy Pelosi an idiot—but with Coulter the shots come hard, fast and constantly. She is neither polite nor politic, making no secret of her contempt for her ideological foes. And her feelings are heartily reciprocated—there’s even an “I really hate Ann Coulter” Facebook community!

I mention this because the hatred directed against Ann Coulter by progressives, though understandable, is more than a little hypocritical. It’s not as if the Left is populated by high-minded, furrow-browed intellectuals who specialized in seeing all sides of every issue and would never, ever be so crude as to engage in personal invective. Remember Bill Maher! Remember Occupy Wall Street! Remember the crude insults that were directed against George W. Bush! (Sample: Protest sign reading, BUSH THE ONLY DOPE WORTH SHOOTING. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk…)

It occurs to me that one reason why progressives hate Ann is that she’s just better at smash-mouth ideological brawling than they are. From the Left, as I had occasion to be reminded today, most rebuttals take the form of adolescent, often passive-aggressive, name-calling. A comment of mine in another venue attracted the attention of a leftie who took the trouble to dispute my point. It was inadvisable of him to do this, for my comment took the form of a series of facts. I pointed this out, which he did not like. Well, the guy’s distemper was perhaps understandable given the outcome of the recent elections. But he didn’t leave it at that. No, he had also to throw in a gratuitous insult—as sort of an exclamation point, I suppose you'd call it. Now I shan’t say who he is or what the insult was—that doesn’t matter. I will say, though, that it was a stupid thing to do because it made him look like a small, tiny person who really has no point of view, just a tangled bundle of attitudes.

Yes, I know, it was a small thing. But it got me to thinking about the art of the political insult and then about Coulter, who sends progressives into a three-foot hover every time she opens her mouth, e.g. “If you wanted to teach people about the great things about America, a college campus is the last place you’d send them. Even fanatical Muslim terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do.” Har-de-har! Sure, it’s over the top, absurdly exaggerated, even cruel—but it’s a target hit, overturning all the armchairs in the faculty lounge. A hurtful truth fashioned into a nasty, underhanded zinger: that’s the Coulter method and nobody on the Left can replicate it.

Posted by tmg110 at 12:11 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 20 November 2014 12:19 PM EST
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Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Pipeline to Political Oblivion
Topic: Politics & Elections

So Tom, you ask, what’s your take this morning on Senator Mary Landrieu’s chances of reelection? Well, between slim and none I’d have to go with the latter. Her last hope, such as it was, crashed and burned on the Senate floor last night.

Landrieu is running some fifteen points behind her GOP opponent in the run-up to the December runoff election that will decide her fate. For want of a better idea, she embraced the Keystone XL pipeline, a long-delayed energy project that’s very popular in the Pelican State. She would demonstrate her ability to get things done by pushing a bill through Congress to jump-start construction of Keystone. Well, how has that worked out for her?

First President Obama gave the embattled Louisiana incumbent the back of his hand, promising to veto such legislation if it ever landed on his desk. Then, yesterday evening, the Senate failed by a single vote to pass her bill—which had already cleared the GOP-controlled House. Two pretty obvious signs that Landrieu’s own party considers her a goner!

So far, the Senator has offered no response to questions regarding her view from under the bus…

Posted by tmg110 at 9:27 AM EST
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Cold Snap
Topic: Verse

Winter came early this year—blowing snow
Over the fallen leaves before my rake
Could harvest them. Though by the calendar
Autumn has a month to run—though the tree
Out front has yet to shed its crown of gold—
And though the solstice has yet to swallow
The slender ration of remaining light—
Winter has come. Come in her livery
Of gray and bone, congealing the waters,
Sending the brown new-stubbled fields to sleep.
The mornings lately have been cold and stark
And slow to shed the mantle of the dark.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:18 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 19 November 2014 8:39 AM EST
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Monday, 17 November 2014
Barry to America: Bite Me
Topic: Politics & Elections

That’s what it comes down to, President Obama’s threat to grant amnesty to illegal aliens by executive fiat:  a raised middle finger brandished in the face of the American people.

 In the midterm elections the people delivered their verdict on Obama and his policies in the form of an emphatic thumbs-down. And as was clear from the tone of his post-election press conference the President didn’t like that, not one bit. So now, it seems, he’s determined to punish us for that shocking display of lèse-majesté. One can almost envision him staring into the mirror and whispering, L'État, c'est moi.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said of Franklin D. Roosevelt that he had a “second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament.” Of Obama it could be said that the proportions are reversed. No one will ever call him stupid or even intellectually average, but no one will ever describe his as a man of broad and sympathetic character. He has the pettiness and narrow-mindedness characteristic of clever people who are too much impressed with their IQ scores. People like that react unpleasantly when crossed.

Executive amnesty, of course, will be the final undoing of Barack Obama’s presidency. Its legal and constitutional dubiety means that its supposed beneficiaries will merely be projected into a Twilight Zone between illegal and legal status. Executive orders do not possess the full force of law; what the current president does by them can be undone with a stroke of the pen by the next president. Nor will it provide a path to citizenship. Very clearly, the Constitution of the United States invests Congress with the power “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” (Article I, Section 8). But the President’s ill-advised, not to say malicious, action will kill the possibility of immigration reform legislation for the remainder of his term and probably beyond. And finally, executive amnesty will touch off another uncontrollable wave of illegal immigration, creating scenes of chaos at the border that will light a political firestorm. All this because our peevish, pouting president has his knickers in a twist over the outcome of the midterm elections.

How all this will play out politically is difficult to say. The incoming Republican Congress can of course make life difficult for the Obama Administration in any number of ways, but the GOP congressional leadership seems fearful of overplaying its hand. Any attempt to defund the mechanisms of executive amnesty would provoke a presidential veto and raise the possibility of a government shutdown—which the President, with the willing assistance of his media claque, would blame on Republican “obstruction.” On the other hand, executive amnesty is likely to prove extremely unpopular with the American people—perhaps even with Hispanic Americans once they realize that Obama’s action is legally perilous. And whoever carries the Democratic Patty standard in the 2016 presidential election is going to be stuck defending the President’s high-handed action. 

It’s too bad that we have a president so irresponsible as to make such calculations necessary.

Posted by tmg110 at 4:04 PM EST
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Saturday, 15 November 2014
Citizens or Servants?
Topic: Decline of the West

There are some superficially plausible arguments in favor of national service: the idea that all young Americans should, upon reaching the age of eighteen, render a year of service to the nation. Writing today in the Washington Post, retired US Army general Stanley McChrystal lays out the case:

[T]oday I’m calling on voters, donors and future candidates to work together to make a “service year” a common expectation and opportunity for all 18- to 28-year-old Americans. This would be an American version of universal national service—appropriately voluntary but socially expected. Through such service, young Americans from different income levels, races, ethnicities, political affiliations and religious beliefs could learn to work together to get things done. Such a project should be a defining issue of the 2016 election.

McChrystal envisions a system in which military service would be one option among many: public works, healthcare, education, etc. In this way, he thinks, the sense of shared service that earlier generations enjoyed thanks to the military draft could be resurrected. Note that he also terms it a “common expectation” rather than a mandatory demand—a distinction, I fear, without much of a difference.

There are many objections to such a scheme, of which its enormous potential cost is only the most obvious. As the Obamacare debacle has reminded us afresh, a big government program is a teeming womb of incompetence, inefficiency, waste, corruption, rent seeking, etc., etc. It’s all too easy, for instance, to envision the wire-pulling that would go on to ensure that this senator’s daughter or that CEO’s son lands some plum assignment. But these, to me, are secondary objections. Musing over General McChrystal’s plea for national service I ask myself: Is this not un-American?

Supporters of national service appeal to history in the form of the military draft, the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and, going farther back, to New Deal-era programs like the WPA. There are other historical examples, though: the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD, i.e. National Labor Service) of National Socialist Germany and its counterparts in other totalitarian/authoritarian regimes. Now of course the various proposals for a US national service program have little in common with the paramilitary RAD. But in one respect, I fear, they’d replicate an RAD function: political indoctrination.

It’s obvious that such an enormous program could not be directly administered by the federal or state governments. Inevitably, large parts of it would have to be run under contract. And it’s all too easy to imagine the kinds of contractors who’d line up for a piece of the national service pie. The National Immigration Law Center, anybody? Or how about Human Rights Watch? And then there’s the Rainforest Action Network. Or why not conservative nonprofits like The Heritage Foundation and Hospice Patient Alliance? Advocates of national service would no doubt say that partisan politics would be rigorously excluded from the program, but as a practical matter this would be impossible to enforce. The temptation to propagandize a captive audience of conscripted young people would be irresistible.

Finally, there’s the essential question: What does it mean to be a free American citizen? From the founding of the United States of America down to the present day the principle of compulsory service has been considered obnoxious, to be tolerated only in circumstances of grave national peril. At the end of the Vietnam War, America abolished the military draft without regret. The experience we’ve acquired since then shows that America is much better served by armed forces composed of true volunteers. And the same, I believe, would prove true for any form of national service.

General McChrystal rightly notes that the military draft fostered a sense of shared service. But this was a byproduct of the system, not its objective. Those of us who served, willingly or not, in the draft-era military knew that we hadn’t been summoned to the colors for the purpose of making us better citizens. There were borders to guard, allies to support, wars to fight. But his argument for national service puts social engineering ahead of the tangible benefits he cites. And that kind of nation-building is, I submit, profoundly un-American.

Let the opportunities for voluntary service be multiplied. Let those young people who freely volunteer to serve their nation or their communities in any capacity be honored as we honor the members of our military. But please—no comprehensive national service program, even if “socially expected” rather than overtly compulsory. As free citizens, we have no business forcing such a civics lesson on fellow citizens, just because they’re young.

Posted by tmg110 at 11:10 AM EST
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Friday, 14 November 2014
We Have a Winner!
Topic: Liberal Fascism

I know that there’s plenty of competition for the title, but this morning I would like to nominate House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Leftie Ass-Clown of the Year (so far).

Reacting to the embarrassing comments of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, who cheerily opined that he relied on the stupidity of the American people to get the Affordable Care Act passed, Pelosi sputtered that she’d never heard of the guy. “I don’t know who he is and he didn’t help write our bill,” she insisted.

Oh? Here’s the Minority Leader (long may she retain that title!) rhapsodizing about the wonderfulness of the ACA in November of 2009 (emphasis added):

We’re not finished getting all of our reports back from CBO, but we’ll have a side by side to compare. But our bill brings down rates. I don’t know if you have seen Jonathan Gruber of MIT’s analysis of what the comparison is to the status quo versus what will happen in our bill for those who seek insurance within the exchange. And our bill takes down those costs, even some now, and much less preventing the upward spiral.

The video of both statements may be enjoyed here

From this we can conclude that Nancy Pelosi is either (1) a shameless liar or (2) an idiot. I waver between these options but it seems to me possible that when Professor Gruber was speaking of the stupidity of the American people, he was thinking of the House Minority Leader…

Posted by tmg110 at 8:34 AM EST
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Thursday, 13 November 2014
Whatever It Takes: Lousiana Edition
Topic: Politics & Elections

Sure, if you pay attention to American politics cynical calculation, two-facedness and plain dishonesty seem barely worthy of remark. But some cases are so glaring that they can’t be overlooked. Such a one is the Keystone pipeline conversion of Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana. Since no one gained a 50%+1 majority in the state's three-way midterm Senate race, Landrieu finds herself facing off against her main GOP challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, in a runoff election to be held in December. As things stand at the moment Cassidy is favored to win, providing Republicans with a ninth Senate pickup.

President Obama is highly unpopular in the Pelican State and this hurts Landrieu who like all Senate Democrats has been his loyal and craven enabler since 2009. A particularly sore point is energy policy, e.g. the Obama Administration’s opposition to the Keystone pipeline, a project whose completion would greatly benefit Louisiana’s economy. So what’s an embattled incumbent to do? Well! You’d never know it from her past record but Senator Landrieu is a Keystone hawk. All along she’s been writhing with frustration over the Obama Administration’s refusal to move on the project. So there she was on the Senate floor, demanding action on Keystone. And wouldn’t you know it: Landrieu’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate seem suddenly willing to hold a vote on Keystone. Of course, President Obama has signaled that he’ll veto any such bill if it reaches his desk…

Though Landrieu touted her support for Keystone during her original reelection campaign, the voters seemed unimpressed. But if at first you don’t succeed—double down on the cynical pandering! I doubt, however, that such lead-footed political two-stepping will save this past-her-sell-date hack from the fate that has already befallen eight of her Senate chums.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:52 AM EST
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Wednesday, 12 November 2014
The Architect of Progressive Absurdity
Topic: Liberal Fascism

More than once I’ve opined that progressivism’s devotion to democracy is more rhetorical than real. Democratic accountability is well and good as long as it aligns with progressive preferences—but whenever the proles veer off the straight and narrow path of ideological righteousness it’s time to call in the judge, the bureaucrat and the expert with his studies. 

This authoritarian twitch produces some comical effects. Progressives have been known to sigh over the efficiency of tyranny, e.g. the Chinese oligarchy—which need not consult majority opinion. On the other hand, in their defense of climate change alarmism they constantly point to that ninety-nine and ninety-nine one-hundredths percent “scientific consensus”—a touching appeal to the majoritarian principle! But in their most candid moments progressives do not blush to proclaim their contempt for the doofus heads, hicks and rednecks of Flyover Country USA. Nor do they demonstrate much respect for honesty and fair dealing. I’m thinking here of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber. Back in October of last year, while participating in a conference at the University of Pennsylvania, he said the following (emphasis added): 

This bill [Obamacare] was written in a tortured way to make sure that the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay. So it was written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law that said healthy people are going to pay in—if you made it explicit that healthy people pay in, sick people get money, it would not have passed. Okay. 

Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical in getting the thing to pass, and, you know, it’s the second best argument. And I wish Mark was right, we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not. So there are things I’d wish I could change, but I’d rather have this law than not. 

Allow me to translate: (1) We the people are stupid and (2) it’s okay to lie to us when the end justifies the means and besides it’s what Jonathan Gruber wants! 

Unfortunately for him, Gruber’s comments were recorded and the video has gone viral. So has he apologized? Nah. The most he would say was that his comments were “inappropriate”—meaning, probably, that he regrets being outed as an insufferable elitist jerk. Because he was just being honest, right? He was reminding his peers, in a meeting not intended to be eavesdropped upon by the bitter clingers, what progressives are up against. 

But I must say that Gruber has done conservatism a good turn. For after all, Obamacare is a perfect little artifact of leftie dishonesty, condescension and snobbery. Right from the start, Obama and his cabal lied to the American people about what it was and what it would do. Even the law’s title—the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act—is a lie. Whatever! The Prez and his pals knew that the rubes would swallow whatever they spooned up. And they weren’t entirely wrong. People still trusted and believed in Barack Obama back then and why he promised that folks could keep your doctor, keep your insurance and save money, lots of them believed him. It was a precious gift, that trust, not to mention a big political asset.

But Obama’s gift of trust turned out to be like that leftover chicken salad in the fridge—it didn’t keep forever. As the debacle that is Obamacare gradually unfolded, the man whose name it bore was exposed as a scurvy little liar. So now, today, people just don’t believe what he says, insofar as they bother to listen to him at all. If he’d been doing a generally good job as president this might not matter so much—but to mendacity Barack Obama adds incompetence. And in this he typifies the faculty-lounge wing of progressivism: people for whom ideological purity trumps both efficiency and truth.

So thank you, Mr. Obamacare Architect, for demonstrating the validity of the hypothesis I set forth at the beginning of this little essay. First you played a leading role in the creation of a law so crazily complicated that it can never possibly work as advertised (incompetence). Then you lied about its features and benefits (mendacity). And you did all this in the service of an ideology that preaches the superiority of expertise—like yours!—over the dim-bulb know-nothingism of the masses. Honest to God, if you didn’t exist, conservatism would have to invent you…

Posted by tmg110 at 12:50 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 12 November 2014 12:56 PM EST
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Saturday, 8 November 2014
Discontents of the Sage of Maine
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Pretty clearly, Stephen King considers himself a child of the Sixties, still crazy after all these years, a radical still sticking it to the Man. That attitude is all over the place in his books—indeed I’ve always thought that one of the best of them, The Dead Zone, is grounded in Sixties paranoia. But all this is more of a cultural pose than a political stand. In reality King is a standard- issue progressive: an anti-Tea Party, pro-gun control, Glenn Beck-hating Obama hugger who describes himself as a supporter of the Democratic Party. Not too edgy, in other words.

I don’t mean to suggest that Stephen King is a big-time political activist. Only in recent years has he spoken up on political issues and sometimes the results have not been pretty. King caused an outcry in 2008 when he said this: “If you can read, you can walk into a job later on. If you don't, then you've got the Army, Iraq, I don't know, something like that.” And when the inevitable criticism came his way, the celebrity author merely became indignant. Sure, he may have implied that the troops are a bunch of low-IQ mouth breathers—but he still supported them!

One of King’s principal political peeves—you’ll recall that he’s a Maine man born and bred—is the governor of Maine, a Republican named Paul LePage. King calls him “Stone Head” and like all good progressives reviles the man. And I understand this as a matter of politics. LePage, after all, is not only a Republican but a Tea Party conservative. As a matter of culture, though, you’d think that Paul LePage would be just King’s cup of tea.

What’s not to love about the guy? LePage once sneered that a political opponent, a prominent member of the Maine legislature, was “the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.” He has opined that President Barack Obama “hates white people” and advised him to “go to hell.” He has compared the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo. In short, he makes Chris Christie seem like a cooing dove.

But there’s more! One of 18 children, Paul LePage was born into a family whose father was an abusive brute. At the age of eleven, after one beating too many, he ran away from home. LePage lived on the streets of Lewiston until rescued by loving foster parents. Later he attended Bangor’s Husson College and went on first to a business career, then into politics.

Do you see where I’m going with this? LePage could well have been a character in one of Stephen King’s novels—and not a villain, either. Never mind his politics. If you really are a radical, a disturber of the peace, still crazy after all these years, you should love a guy like Paul LePage, whose very existence sends a shiver up the spines of the elites. Indeed, the clucking disapproval with which he’s treated in such venues as Politico is very funny, albeit with no intention of raising a laugh.

But King doesn’t see this. No, he clucks right along with the rest of them, throwing up his hands in horror at the Governor’s ungentlemanly behavior—rather hilariously given King's own propensity for unhinged political rhetoric. I suppose that’s because he’s become one of the elites himself. And I have no doubt that by lambasting Paul LePage, Maine’s millionaire celebrity author imagines that he’s sticking it to the Man.

Thus it’s pleasant to record that last Tuesday, Paul LePage was comfortably reelected to a second term despite the unanimous disapproval of the Progressive Anointed, Stephen King included. Now as far as I know King hadn’t threatened to move to Canada if LePage was reelected and he’s not needed up there anyway. They already have Margaret Atwood.

Posted by tmg110 at 6:54 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 8 November 2014 7:07 PM EST
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