Debating An Empty Chair

October 4, 2012

Who knew that Clint Eastwood was so prescient?

The first of the 2012 Presidential Debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is now over, and the results are not pretty for the incumbent. Last night’s debate was so decisively won by Romney that even the most hardened Leftists are acknowledging defeat. This was not merely a Romney win, it was a scourging of an aloof incumbent who started incoherently and went downhill from there. Alas for the President, his teleprompter was too busy saving kittens from a tree or stopping a speeding bullet to come to his rescue last night.

The liberal spin I’m seeing now is one of disappointment. Romney didn’t win the debate; how could he? No. Obama lost the debate. Meet the Press anchor David Gregory was so confused by Obama’s performance he tweeted this gem:

Debate looked like re run of Bush-Kerry first debate 2004. President lacked fight. Deliberate?

I’ve never met the President, David, but please allow me to reassure you that Obama did not deliberately get his butt kicked in front of 50 or 60 million people.

Meanwhile on MSNBC, Chris Matthews had a near meltdown, while a certain Mr. Rachel Maddow claimed, “I personally do not know who won this debate” before desperately changing the topic to the debate format. Van Jones, the bête noire of Glenn Beck, griped that while Obama has to run a country, Romney just needs to run his mouth. Vice President Biden, the man who two days ago admitted that the middle class has been “buried” the last four years, tweeted: “Folks, I hope you saw what I saw tonight: President Obama’s the choice to move us forward, not back.” I think it’s safe to say that most people watching did not see what Joe Biden saw. But then, that’s true most of the time.

But the spin doesn’t matter. Anyone who was watching that debate and says that it was a tie, or that Obama won, is simply in a state of shock over the fact that The One could be so soundly defeated. Even committed, hardline Leftists like Bill Maher, Ed Schultz, and James Carville admitted that Romney was merciless in his destruction of Obama’s talking points.

Obama looked lost on the stage, like a man who did not want to be there (and he probably didn’t…it was his 20th wedding anniversary after all). But the split screen showed what I believe to be the measure of both men. When Obama spoke, Romney looked straight at him, clearly listening to every word Obama said. When Romney spoke, Obama looked down at the podium, or looked around and appeared distracted. He was clearly not listening. And why should he? His talking points to the contrary, Obama has never been willing to listen to Republicans. Obama’s behavior was that of a man who has spent his life in a bubble, secure that all those around him agree with him, and that the opposition is nothing more than the sum of the clichés he’s been told by his acolytes.

If anything, the debate indicated the inherent truth behind Clint Eastwood’s somewhat bizarre stunt at the Republican National Convention: When Obama is challenged by the press, he responds with petulance. When he is challenged on his turf, he is arrogant. When he is challenged in a setting that is neutral, he collapses. Never before has the real Obama been so clearly visible: He is a child Emperor, and last night Mitt Romney showed the world that the Emperor’s new clothes are not what we were led to believe.

Romney’s Gaffe And Obama’s Reality

September 20, 2012

Well, Mitt Romney sure made a huge gaffe when addressing a fundraiser. Here it is, in all it’s glory:

“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

“And I mean the President starts off with 49, 49…he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. 47% of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.

“So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every 4 years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

“What I have to do is convince the 5% to 10% that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or another depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”

The mainstream media is, naturally, breathing deeply into their brown paper bag in a desperate attempt to calm down so they can roll out another round of editorials and learned punditry about how this spells D-O-O-M for the Republican. Also, the Mideast is burning but that’s not important right now.

The gaffe here—and there is a gaffe—is the conflation of people who unquestionably are part of Obama’s base with the entire 40+% of the population that will vote for the President.

Read the statement again with a bit of editing by me. I have added one phrase, and just removed or substituted very few words:

“There are […] people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are [people] who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.

“And I mean the President starts off with 49, 49…he starts off with a huge number. [There] are people who pay no income tax. 47% of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.

“So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every 4 years. And so my job is not to worry about those people [during the campaign]. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

“What I have to do is convince the 5% to 10% that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or another depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”

Not much of a gaffe, when you remove the equating of “groups that support Obama” with “the entire Democratic base.” Can anybody really deny the truth of that first paragraph?

There are people who will vote for the President no matter what. There are people who depend on government handouts. There are people who think of themselves as victims (hello Sandra Fluke and Occupy Wall Street). There are people who believe government should care for them. There are people who feel that they are entitled to healthcare, etc. And these people will vote for Barack Obama. They are part of his base.

So what’s the gaffe? The gaffe is that these people are only part of his base, not the full 47% (realistically, this number should probably be a little lower).

Romney is also correct that a message of lowering taxes has less impact in a country where 47% of tax filers do not pay income tax. Yes, they pay other taxes (sales, payroll, etc), but the message of a lowered income tax rate doesn’t hold much sway. What Romney does forget, and what he should be messaging, is that this number is only so high because the economy is in such a shambles. If the unemployment rate was five percent, the percentage of people paying taxes would be higher.

Lastly, his comment about “not caring” about these people is clearly about the campaign. It was not about his secret wish to write off almost 50% of the population while he is President. Only the truly cynical and those with an agenda could pretend otherwise. After all, he was answering a question about his campaign, not his governance.

As far as gaffes go, this one sounded bad, but like many such mistakes made by all politicians, it was a product of having too many legitimate, not-very-controversial thoughts (47% not paying income taxes, entitlement society, Democratic base) competing for breathing space and emerging as a jumble. As Joe Biden might put it: Big effing deal.

Meanwhile, the Mideast is burning, Americans are dead in Benghazi at the hands of al-Qaeda sympathizers, the economy is still lousy, and the President of the United States is hobnobbing with Beyoncé and Jay-Z while avoiding the Prime Minister of Israel as he wishes to discuss the shrinking time frame for Iran getting a nuclear weapon, discounting any short-term effects of a 16-trillion dollar debt on The Late Show with David Letterman, and downplaying his own recorded statement that he believes in the Socialist idea of redistribution of wealth (not that we didn’t know this already).

But none of that fits the media narrative of Romney’s moribund campaign, does it?

You Don’t Make It Possible, Barack

September 4, 2012

Time and events conspired against me when Barack Obama went off script and uttered the lines that have dogged him ever since. I figured that the time to write about this had passed, but now that the Republican Convention has wrapped up, using those very words as their theme, opportunity knocks again. Even better, because the theme of the Democratic Convention, which starts tonight, is “We Make It Possible.”

Talk about not getting it…

The Republican Convention was a mix of speeches both bad (Mitch McConnell, Rick Santorum, and everyone on night two until Mike Huckabee) and good (rising star Mia Love, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney). There were, by my estimation, four great speeches: Rand Paul, Ann Romney, Condoleezza Rice (who really knocked it out of the park), and Paul Ryan. What almost all the speeches have in common is that they touched on Barack Obama’s now infamous words: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else built that.”

The Obama campaign has responded with sputtering indignation that the words are taken out of context. In the full context of the speech, those words mean something entirely different from the way they are being presented.

Obama’s right. The words are taken out of context. And that’s a good thing for Obama, because in context the words speak far more eloquently to the true nature of Obama’s Progressive mindset. Without further ado, the words in full context:

Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President—because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.

There’s the full context, and it is pernicious nonsense. What Obama is saying is that successful people are merely winners in the lottery of life. Luck and manipulation of the system are the real determinants in whether or not a business succeeds. In Obama’s world, the web developer with a degree in computer science is separated from Bill Gates only by fate. The key ingredient, however you want to look at the context here, is that it is the ability of some people to take advantage of government programs, tax credits, etc., that determines their success. Hard work and using the brains God gave you is simply not enough. To succeed, you first must reach out to government.

But look at the examples here: teachers, roads, bridges, capitalism, and the Internet. Obama says outright that businesses succeed because business owners had great teachers and access to roads and bridges:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

Say what? It was successful businesses and people that provided taxes that built the public education system, the roads, and the bridges. Where did government get the money to build the interstate highway system? From tax dollars provided by businesses and successful people. The very concept that businesses succeed because the government built a road is beyond ludicrous. It is a complete subversion of reality. Worse, it indicates that the President’s knowledge of how the economy works never moved on from his college days when he was hanging out at the Socialist conferences at Cooper Hall with his Marxist professors, as he wrote in Dreams From My Father.

Even when Obama veers within a country mile of the truth he gets it fundamentally incorrect. The Department of Defense created the Internet, but it was really no more than an extrapolation on ideas that came out of the free market. Long before the Department of Defense, people like Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell were creating methods for people to talk to each other over wires. But let’s give the government some credit. Beginning in the late 1960s, the government managed to network many of its different agencies through the use of what was then called “internetworking.” For about 25 years government sat on the technology before reaching the decision that it would end its management of the system. During that time, especially in the mid- to late-80s and early-90s, the Internet had been in use by universities, research laboratories, and government agencies. It was never designed to make money for companies and, in fact, most companies aren’t really making any money off the Internet. So how did “internetworking” become the Internet? Simple: government gave up control in 1994, turning it over to the private sector. Government sat on the technology for 25 years, doling it out to universities for research purposes before privatizing it in 1994. Since then, costs have dropped and the Internet has exploded, growing exponentially in ways the government never imagined.

The Internet, and the companies that use it, did not succeed because government built it. It succeeded because government got out of the way.

Obama has everything here completely backwards. He believes that private business can not succeed without government help, but he need only look to history for the reality of the situation. For years, the governing document of the United States was the Articles of Confederation. In 1787, this document was thrown out because it was unworkable. The government, under the Articles of Confederation, was so weak it was practically inert. It could make decisions but not enforce them. It was toothless, and doomed to fail for one major reason: to survive, it needed to ask the states for money. The Articles of Confederation did not allow the Federal government the power of taxation. Without tax money, taken from successful businesses and individuals, the government failed, forcing it to start over with the Constitution.

The lesson here is that businesses do not succeed because of government; government exists because of businesses. Barack Obama is just the latest in a long line of class warfare acolytes who try to convince you that the government is the great provider. He is just the most recent Progressive to use tax subsidies as both a benefit for favored industries and a rhetorical weapon. How often have we heard the Democrats screaming about tax subsidies to Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Banks, Big Coal, Big Pharma while at the same time offering tax subsidies to politically favored industries (solar power, wind power, hybrid automobiles)? The fact is that there is one industry that is entirely subsidized by taxpayers, that would not even exist if not for the tax dollars generated by successful businesses. That industry is government.

The DNC needs to understand that they did not “make it possible.” We, the people, made them possible.

The next time you’re driving over the bridge to get on the highway to go to the public school where the great teacher is using the Internet as a teaching tool, spare a thought for the people who made all of that possible: the hard-working, smart people who put in long hours of sweat equity and worry to build the business that employs you and helps you to pay your bills.

And, of course, your taxes.

Obama’s Successful Presidency

August 27, 2012

I’ve heard it said about a thousand times in Campaign 2012, from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan all the way down to the talking heads that proffer their advice to the Republican ticket on the news channels. It’s a variation of this:

Barack Obama is a failed President. He did not live up to expectations. His plans for moving the economy did not work.

I’m not entirely sure what the motivation behind these baseless claims is. Sure, Obama promised lots of things that sounded great: cut the deficit in half by the end of his first time, a free unicorn at the end of every rainbow, that sort of stuff. But those were just campaign promises, and anyone who managed to wipe the star dust from their eyes long enough to see what Obama was really offering can not say, with a straight face, that Obama’s policies did not work as intended.

Unemployment over 8%, more people on food stamps and other forms of government assistance than ever before, the massive increase in both debt and deficit, a healthcare reform act that lays the groundwork for socialized medicine, a decimated military, the abandonment of Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan, the “kill now, ask questions never” policy towards America’s Islamist enemies, the leaking of national security secrets that may well get Americans killed, the mealy-mouthed apology tour that launched his presidency, the denial of American exceptionalism, the cooling of relationships with traditional allies from Israel to England, government payoffs to unions, the over-regulation of Wall Street, the crippling of traditional domestic energy programs in favor of unproven, politically correct corporate cronies, the embrace of an Arab Spring that is looking more like an encroaching Arab Winter every day…come on, nobody can be that incompetent.

No, Obama’s plan has not failed. To quote a friend of mine: “This is the plan.”

Consider the 28 years leading up to the swearing in of Barack Obama. There were a couple of recessions, and catastrophic events, but the majority of those 28 years were good times for the nation under both Republican and Democrat presidents and Congresses. The economy boomed under Ronald Reagan, experienced a brief and shallow lull during the term of George H.W. Bush, soared in Bill Clinton’s second term, and was generally positive through George W. Bush’s two terms, though his presidency was sandwiched between recessions, the first after the dot-com bubble burst and 9/11, the second after the housing market imploded. We won the Cold War, engaged in brief military actions in Iraq and Bosnia, and then entered a period of extended hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. Stretched out over three decades, America was mostly living through good economic times, low unemployment, a steadily increasing stock market, and relative peace.

This was the America that Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally transform” just five days before the election.

When it is all boiled down, 2008 Candidate Obama used an overwhelming amount of feel-good platitudes and just enough generic “promises” to convince a nation that was weary of war and reeling from the very recent crash in the housing market, a crash that nearly took down some of the largest banks in the world, that he was exactly what the country needed. But underneath the hopey-changey rhetoric, the Beatlemania-style adoration of his fans, and the promises of centrism and elevated political discourse lay his real agenda: to fundamentally transform the United States of America.

In this, he has been remarkably successful so far. Programs like Obamacare change the very nature of the relationship between government and citizen, while sweeping financial regulations of banks and environmental regulations of everything undeniably alter the way businesses can function. At one time a business was beholden to its customers, and good businesses would do everything they could to keep the customer satisfied. Businesses that did not keep the customer happy were short-lived. Under decades of Progressive leadership from both Democrats and me-too Republicans, businesses must now put their customers second. The first responsibility of business now is to conform to an ever-shifting set of rules and regulations written by people with little to no understanding of how the private sector functions. The first priority of any business now is to keep the government satisfied. If a business fails to conform, in even the slightest of ways, to the thousands of pages of regulations that Congress passes, the penalties can be so swift and punitive that doors are shuttered. New businesses find it harder and harder to get up and running.

Obama’s vision for America is the standard Progressive vision. When he was elected, his goal was to entrench the government deeper into the business world, to provide goods and services to more people because a voter addicted to government subsidies and handouts will almost never go back, to grow the size of government and dramatically expand its area of responsibility. For Obama, the private sector operates on the largesse of government, thriving only because business owners and CEOs went to public school and had good teachers, or because the government built roads and bridges to allow your customers easy access to your factory.

Obama set out to fundamentally transform America. Far from being a failed President, he has been remarkably successful in getting his agenda written into law. Given a second term, this agenda will be set into concrete, and generations of Americans to come will be living in a world created by a radical community organizer from Chicago…generations that will never know the America that used to be.

Today’s Lesson In Progressive Politics: The Truth Doesn’t Make A Noise

August 24, 2012

One of the hallmarks of Leftist ideology is the flexibility of the definition of truth. While conservatives largely believe that truth is objective, that Nature and Natural Law proscribe some verities that are eternal and unchanging, Progressives believe in the subjectivity of truth. For them, truth is your truth. What you believe, that is what is true to you.

When truth is subjective, it becomes malleable. You can stretch it like Silly Putty and imprint anything you want over it. By defining truth as subjective, you make it irrelevant. The notion of a subjective truth, that truth is what you want it to be, is really no different from the belief that truth does not exist. If it can be anything then it is, in fact, nothing.

For instance, this has been popping up on my Facebook page from so many self-satisfied Progressives:

Ryan and Akin

Objectively, there is nothing true in this photograph. There has never been a bill before Congress whose purpose was “to redefine rape.” The bill (about federal funding for abortion) they are hyperventilating over was supported by Paul Ryan, but not co-sponsored by him. The wording in the bill made reference to “forcible rape”, and was designed to distinguish it from statutory rape (which is often consensual). The wording was changed before the bill was passed. With bipartisan support. I’m even willing to bet the paper the photo identifies with an arrow as the bill is not, in fact, the bill at all. When was the last time you saw a bill from Congress that could be held with a couple of fingers?

It would be one thing if this was some guy in his basement armed with a chip on his shoulder and Photoshop. But this photograph is brought to you by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and promoted on their Facebook page. This is an official lie. The question then becomes: Do the Democrats believe this stuff? Or is this merely their “truth.”

The picture, commented on by nearly 2000 people with furrowed brows and a palpable sense of moral outrage, promotes several lies to get a reaction. The truth? It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is achieving the end result. Let the truth be damned. Or as Georg Wilhelm Hegel, the spirit guide for Marx and Engels, wrote: “If the facts do not agree with the theory, so much the worse for the facts.”

Don’t believe me that Progressives view the truth as irrelevant? Consider this exchange between CNN’s Anderson Cooper (no Tea Partier) and the odious Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congresswoman and chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is the public face of the DNC, handpicked for the role by Barack Obama, the one who appears on every talk show to espouse the Democrat view in an official capacity.

Many of the things she says in this interview are also factually not true and Cooper, to his credit, holds her feet to the fire. Finally, when Cooper has backed her into a corner over her lies she unleashes the truth about the truth: “It doesn’t matter,” she says around the 2:50 mark when confronted with the fact that she purposefully misquoted a Los Angeles Times article in a fundraising email to make a case that is untrue. When pressed with the question “Do you acknowledge that what you quoted…was incorrect?” Wasserman Schultz replies “No” even though it is empirically, factually incorrect. When pressed further, with the full quote read to her she replies again, with no small degree of exasperation in her voice: “It doesn’t matter.”

Again, this is not the usual exaggerations and distortions that are the stock and trade of politicians of all stripes. The DCCC and Wasserman Schultz are acting as what philosopher Eric Voeglin referred to as “intellectual swindlers.” They know what they are saying is untrue, yet persist in saying it to achieve their goals.

Another example of how this works is also going viral in Progressive circles. Again, it’s popping up regularly on my Facebook page:

The comments on Facebook are all solidly in the “Wow! This guy is really sticking it to the Tea Party!” category. What none of the posters have commented on is the fact that radio host Michael Graham’s side of the argument has been completely edited out. What was, in reality, a dialogue that clearly shows Michael Higgins’s contempt for Israel via a ranting, scattered polemic, has been turned into a monologue where Higgins takes on the Tea Party. The self-congratulation of the Progressives over this is astounding. It is simply assumed that Higgins, the very far Left, virulently anti-Israel president of Ireland has destroyed Graham’s argument. This is clearly not true if you listen to the entire debate. It’s 20 minutes long, but worth hearing if the short version makes your blood boil. In context, Higgins evades questions and substitutes invective and name-calling for answers to Graham’s reasonable, though sometimes equally heated, questions. The truth here has simply been silenced, the detritus rearranged and the context warped. This was done for no reason at all, except to create a new truth.

It’s often been said that, for the Progressives, politics is war. It’s a favorite cliché of the Left to declare that various problems facing America should be looked at as “the moral equivalent of war.” They speak in militaristic terms: War on Poverty, War on Crime, War on Drugs. They talk of Republicans as waging a “War on women.” Well as Samuel Johnson wrote, “Among the calamities of war may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.”

Truth, for the Left, is not what is. It is what you say.

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