Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton's Incompetence

Frank Rich's examination of Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democrat nomination has some interesting facts on the campaign's incompetence:

The gap in hard work between the two campaigns was clear well before Feb. 5. Mrs. Clinton threw as much as $25 million at the Iowa caucuses without ever matching Mr. Obama’s organizational strength. In South Carolina, where last fall she was up 20 percentage points in the polls, she relied on top-down endorsements and the patina of inevitability, while the Obama campaign built a landslide-winning organization from scratch at the grass roots. In Kansas, three paid Obama organizers had the field to themselves for three months; ultimately Obama staff members outnumbered Clinton staff members there 18 to 3.

In the last battleground, Wisconsin, the Clinton campaign was six days behind Mr. Obama in putting up ads and had only four campaign offices to his 11. Even as Mrs. Clinton clings to her latest firewall — the March 4 contests — she is still being outhustled. Last week she told reporters that she “had no idea” that the Texas primary system was “so bizarre” (it’s a primary-caucus hybrid), adding that she had “people trying to understand it as we speak.” Perhaps her people can borrow the road map from Obama’s people. In Vermont, another March 4 contest, The Burlington Free Press reported that there were four Obama offices and no Clinton offices as of five days ago. For what will no doubt be the next firewall after March 4, Pennsylvania on April 22, the Clinton campaign is sufficiently disorganized that it couldn’t file a complete slate of delegates by even an extended ballot deadline.

(The Frank Rich piece is worth reading in its entirety because it is such a scathing, relentless attack on Clinton. When the MSM finally turns on one it has been protecting for years, the result is just brutal.)

Who would have thought Hillary Clinton would run an incompetent campaign? Could it be that she was so overconfident that she became complacent and lazy?

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Look what happened to the health care plan she was in charge of in the first two years of the Clinton Presidency. Remember what a disaster that was? It led to the Republicans taking over the House of Representatives in 1994, after which the Clinton Presidency was never the same. Bill Clinton was reduced to declaring that the era of big government was over and talking about uniforms for school children.

Imagine what a botch of things this woman would have made in the Oval Office. Jimmy Carter must be cursing his bad luck. Hillary Clinton might have set a new standard for presidential incompetence that made Carter look good by comparison.

UPDATE: Patterico notes that the MSM are now treating Hillary Clinton they way they usually treat Republicans. This must be the most devastating blow to the Clintons, who have relied on the media being with them.

UPDATE II: Andrew Sullivan on Hillary Clinton:

Clinton is a terrible manager of people. Coming into a campaign she had been planning for, what, two decades, she was so not ready on Day One, or even Day 300. Her White House, if we can glean anything from the campaign, would be a secretive nest of well-fed yes-people, an uncontrollable egomaniac spouse able and willing to bigfoot anyone if he wants to, a phalanx of flunkies who cannot tell the boss when things are wrong, and a drizzle of dreary hacks like Mark Penn. Her only genuine skill is pivoting off the Limbaugh machine (which is now as played out as its enemies). Her new weapon is apparently bursting into tears. I mean: really.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hillary Clinton: A Postmortem

(Note: I was going to save this post until Hillary Clinton formally concedes to Obama, but since I have nothing else, I'll post it now. Things could change, however, if Senator Clinton pulls out a miracle in Texas and Ohio or the Clinton machine pulls some chicanery with the super delegates or something of the sort.)

Like Hillary Clinton, I thought she had a lock on the Democrat nomination. I thought that with her money and the Clinton organization's ties in the Democrat Party that nothing could possibly stop her. She and I and the CW did not take two factors into consideration: Barack Obama and Democrat voters.

Because she thought she was inevitable to win among Democrats, Hillary Clinton forgot about them. From the beginning of her Senate career she followed her husband's successful strategy and triangulated with an eye to the national election in November of 2008. She voted for the war in Iraq, thinking that it would be suicidal among independents to be seen as weak on defense -- and thinking that she could alienate some Democrats and still win the nomination easily. This turned out to be a fatal misjudgment.

I noticed at Daily Kos and Democratic Underground in the last year a great deal of animosity toward Senator Clinton because of her support of the war. I thought this was just the vocal far left of the party, but the anger of the anti-war vote seems to be widespread through the Democrat base. Perhaps this is another indication of how far left the entire party has moved.

Then along came Obama, representing New Leftist ideals in pure form, unadulterated by any triangulation. Obama had no connection to the hated DLC, with its machiavellian positioning to get independent and moderate Republican votes. Obama is the old time religion, so to speak, and it still intoxicates Democrats as much as it did in 1972. There have even been reports of young people swooning as Obama speaks; apparently, gaseous rhetoric unconnected to reality does something for young Democrats these days.

I'm reminded of a passage from Ayn Rand's essay on how progressive education destroys young minds, "The Comprachicos":

The conditioning phase of the comprachicos' task is completed. The students' development is arrested, their minds are set to respond to slogans, as animals respond to a trainer's whistle, their brains are embalmed in the syrup of altruism as an automatic substitute for self-esteem -- they have nothing left but the terror of chronic anxiety, the blind urge to act, to strike out at whoever caused it, and a boiling hostility against the whole of the universe. They would obey anyone, they need a master, they need to be told what to do. They are ready now to be used as cannon fodder -- to attack, to bomb, to burn, to murder, to fight in the streets and die in the gutters. They are a trained pack of miserably impotent freaks, ready to be unleashed against anyone. The comprachicos unleash them against the "System."

Government schools have not taught America's youth to think independently, but to follow the group. They respond to Obama's slogans "as animals respond to a trainer's whistle." If any crises create the opportunity for mob violence, America's youth are now a mob waiting to happen. The Obama worship is more ominous than most commentators think. Has the mob found its master?

I have to credit the Democrats for sticking with their principles in the primaries. The Republicans did the opposite, pragmatically going with John McCain, a big government conservative who polls the best against Democrats. Of course, Democrat principles, such as they are, are the principles of collectivism and state control -- but, by golly, they stuck with them! They will righteously march America down the road to serfdom! Those principles led McGovern to a landslide defeat against another pragmatist Republican, Richard Nixon, in 1972. If Obama does not suffer a similar defeat, does it reflect the decline of the American electorate and the death of our individualist heritage? Or does McCain's fervor for big government confuse the message?

I thought I would gloat at Hillary Clinton's downfall, but I feel nothing but suspicion and fear of the man who defeated her. His wife Michelle got a lot of attention for saying, “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.” Only an anti-American New Leftist would make this statement. I suspect that Barack Obama is as far left as his wife. With the help of the MSM, he will try to hide his radicalism (and his wife) until November 5, 2008. Any attempt by the right to reveal the real Obama will be denounced as "swiftboating."

Maybe I'm just accustomed to see the worst, but between McCain and Obama I really don't see any good coming out of this next election. I think we're at the beginning of a new era, an era of crisis and deepening statism, which will feature a quicker erosion of individual rights and the spread of force in America. In other words, we're heading for some deep shit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Staying Busy

I'm up to my ears in acting Shakespeare. I'm doing the First Gravedigger in Hamlet with the Redlands Regional Players. Today I got cast as Sir Toby in 12th Night, Porter and Doctor in Macbeth and Lepidus in Antony and Cleopatra with the Redlands Shakespeare Festival.

As you might be able to tell from this list of roles, I specialize in the comic parts. Only Doctor is not funny. Lepidus, one of the triumvirs with Antony and Caesar, is not hilarious, but when I get done with the part, it will be. (I'm playing him effeminate, to put it mildly.)

Posting will be light for awhile.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 52

1. Big Lizards argues that Hillary Clinton's campaign is in free fall because she puts unqualified women in important positions such as campaign manager.

2. David Brooks gives us now the kind of thinking that would probably define a McCain Presidency. He believes investment in education made America great:

In the 19th century, industrialization swept the world. Many European nations expanded their welfare states but kept their education systems exclusive. The U.S. tried the opposite approach. American leaders expanded education and created the highest quality work force on the planet.

That quality work force was the single biggest reason the U.S. emerged as the economic superpower of the 20th century. Generation after generation, American workers were better educated, more industrious and more innovative than the ones that came before.

Brooks thinks "positive government" is necessary to have educated workers. He dismisses the free market in this area.

Liberals have spent more time thinking about human capital than conservatives, who have tended to imagine that if you build a free market, a quality labor force would magically appear.

Among his solutions:

National service should be a rite of passage for 20-somethings, and these volunteers could mentor students through high school and college years.

Like all statists, he doesn't understand that individuals might find their own solutions if left free by the government. To Brooks, this is belief in magic.

I would not be surprised to see big government conservative Brooks land an important position in the McCain administration.

3. In January John Hawkins warned conservatives not to whitewash John McCain if he's the nominee:

Here's the honest truth: John McCain is not a conservative and he's not a candidate who is going to make conservatives particularly happy if he gets in the White House. Does that mean he's worse than Obama or Hillary? No, but it does mean he will disappoint and infuriate conservatives over and over again if he gets in the White House on a wide variety of issues -- and conservatives in the media should be honest enough to admit that.

If you sell people a bill of goods about McCain being a conservative, what are you going to do if he gets into office and people find out that you weren't honest with them? Where is your credibility going to be then? Think about it, tell the truth about McCain's record, and if GOP voters choose him, let them understand exactly what they're really getting.

Patrick Joubert Conlon has not taken this advice, as he is now writing Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh out of the conservative movement because they won't support McCain. Among his reasons against them are that they "make money from controversy" and that they don't have children. Well, attacking the profit motive does put him in the McCain camp.

I'm a radical for capitalism rather than a conservative, so maybe Patrick is right -- maybe he and McCain are more conservative than Limbaugh and Coulter. The confusion comes from the incoherency of conservatism.

4. I believe nothing can stop McCain in November. Michael Kinsley writes about the reason why: McCain appeals to Democrats.

Only a couple of years ago, there were noises that McCain might admit he was much too nice to be a Republican and might run for President as an independent--or even as a Democrat. Democrats swooned and said they would vote for McCain because he was "honest."

Kinsley doesn't write this, but the reason McCain appeals to Democrats is that he loves big government as much as they do. When liberals hear McCain speak, they think he's one of us. And they're right.

5. Is Obama a leftist? I must say, his idea of tax reform is a disaster:

Rather than simplify taxes, Obama instead wants to have the IRS prepare your returns for you and send them out for your signature. Since the IRS gets all of your income information already, he wants the IRS to calculate how much you owe, without apparently considering that most Americans itemize for deductions. It doesn't cut down on preparation time in any case, but merely transfers the cost to the federal government-- as well as more power to the IRS.

6. Don Feder's Top 10 Reasons Not to Vote For McCain.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I had to laugh when I turned on the TV to see Obama giving his victory speech. People waved signs that read, "Stand for Change" as Obama said something to the effect that they need to ensure that people get their social security today, tomorrow and forever. Obama was saying the opposite of what his signs read; he stands for the welfare state status quo, which must not be changed, not today, tomorrow or ever.

The liberals have spent over a century, going back to the Progressive Era, erecting the welfare state, law by law, regulation by regulation. When is the last time they had a new idea? They are, to use Mises' word, interventionists; they always have been, always will be. Their overriding task now is to preserve their creation, big government. They will fight to the death to keep every plank, every brick of the state they have built over the last century intact. The core of liberal judicial philosophy is now stare decisis. Let the decision stand. And don't let those Republican bastards touch a hair of it.

If our political parties had names that meant anything, the liberals would be the Conservative Party. Their task to is conserve the way things are, to protect big government and to expand it if possible.

What we call conservatives today should be called the Christian Welfare State Party. They want the welfare state of the liberals, but they want to add religion. Religion is growing in America. The liberals are fighting a rearguard battle, hoping to conserve the secular welfare state against the conservatives.

There is no Capitalist Party -- it's too early yet. The Libertarian Party should be called the Anarchist Party or the Subjectivist/Moral Relativist Party. Their attempt to take Ayn Rand's politics without the underlying metaphysics, epistemology and ethics dooms them to be Anarchists by the logic of their premises.

As Mises teaches us, the liberal project of preserving the status quo must eventually fail. The welfare state is unstable. Interventions will create crises that lead to further interventions until finally we will have "socialism on the German plan."

So when Obama says "change," he cannot mean it in anything but the most superficial sense. We will have change from a Republican to a Democrat President -- and the welfare state will muddle along from one crisis to another.

The biggest change Obama might effect is withdrawing our troops from Iraq. I don't think he has the courage to do it, regardless of what his moonbat base wants. I don't think Clinton or Obama want to be blamed for the chaos and violence that would happen in the power vacuum if we left. They might do something cosmetic to appease their base, but that's it. Once the war becomes a Democrat war, the base will shut up anyway. Right now the fervor among Democrats is partisan politics and hatred of Republicans more than anything.

We've been in Germany and Korea and other places since WWII, longer than I've been alive. I expect that 50 years from now we'll still be in Iraq, unless the world order changes greatly through catastrophe and war. Remember, the military in our mixed economy is now a pressure group, one that neither party wants to alienate. Base closings are resisted by the military. And I don't want to sound like a leftist wacko or President Eisenhower warning of the "military-industrial complex," but a little war now and then is good for this pressure group. It increases the budget, and what bureaucrat doesn't want that?

When significant change comes to America, it won't have anything to do with happy partisans waving signs at political rallies. It will come in a time of crisis and catastrophe, with terrified citizens screaming, "Won't somebody take over and stop the madness?! Someone give us order!" Yes, then we'll see what change can bring. Change can be a bitch.

Why Conservatives Will Vote for McCain

I have maintained that conservatives will vote for McCain in the end, despite all their grousing now. My argument has been on a superficial political level: Democrat smears and October Surprises will anger Republicans so much that they will be driven to the ballot box to punish the Dems for their injustice. I came to this from introspecting over the last four or five elections and noticing what most motivated me to vote against the Democrats.

There is a deeper philosophical reason.

Have you noticed that only Objectivists are bothered by McCain's often repeated statement about sacrificing for something greater than self-interest? In their lists of grievances against McCain -- which include McCain-Kennedy, McCain-Feingold, McCain-Lieberman, opposition to tax cuts and his love of being a "maverick" -- conservatives never mention McCain's explicit altruism.

Obviously, they don't object because they share McCain's morality. Only Objectivists hold that rational self-interest is a virtue. Only Ayn Rand's radical philosophy challenges the traditional morality of altruism. Only Objectivists see a red flag when a politician exhorts people to sacrifice to the collective, for that way lies statism and dictatorship. Thomas Jefferson was remarkably astute when he included the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence; writing before Kant, Hegel and their long tradition, he included nothing about sacrificing to the state or the collective.

Whenever there is a conflict between ethics and politics, people go with their morality. Ethics is more fundamental than politics. A man's politics depend on his ethics. If he believes in the morality of self-interest, then he will want freedom and capitalism. If he believes in altruism, then he will want state intervention in the economy. If he is consistent enough, he might even share John McCain's dream of using the state to orchestrate an orgy of collective sacrifice for something greater than self-interest.

In the end, conservative lip service to capitalism and freedom will be undermined, as it always is, by the conservatives' altruist ethics. They might disagree with McCain's politics, but they have no answer to his ideals. The tragedy is that McCain's ideals are pure poison.

Around the World Wide Web 51

1. Blogroll addition: De Hominibus

2. Dude, Hillary quit the band.

They say Hillary doesn't really shred -- but are they talking guitar or Rose Law Firm documents?

Humor has to be used carefully in political ads. We're choosing the leader of the free world here, after all, one who will make decisions of great importance. This one seems a little too frivolous, but probably not to its target audience.

3. The Dougout has some damning pictures of Obama and one of his campaign offices.

4. Socialized medicine. A woman cries in this video; maybe this will help get the message through the thick skulls of ignorant liberals. HEY, LIBERALS! WHAT YOU WANT MAKES WOMEN CRY!

5. Exorcist Center now open.

6. The looming Democrat delegate debacle is one of the more interesting stories of this political season. It promises rare drama at a political convention.

I spoke to a woman who is an ardent Clinton supporter. She told me, with bitterness and disgust in her voice, that she believes the "old boy" network in the Democrat Party, including Teddy Kennedy, got together and decided to back Obama. She also said she does not like Obama's body language around women. Her entire argument was feminist, pitting men against women; she had nothing to say about Obama's policies or ideas.

Although Robert Tracinski now thinks Obama will get the nomination, I still think it will be Clinton. It's going to come down to old-fashioned politics and arm-twisting and calling in of favors with super delegates, and I don't see how Obambi can compete with the Clinton Machine in smoke filled rooms. (Are smoke filled rooms still legal? Do Democrats still smoke? Tobacco, I mean.) For instance, Bill Clinton arranged a breakfast with his daughter Chelsea for a super delegate.

Top 10 Posts of 2007

This week's Carnival of Objectivism will feature each blogger's pick of his best post for 2007. It took me a few hours to go through 292 posts to find the best. There were times as I read my old posts that I thought, "Hey, this is not bad!" Other times I thought I could have made my point with greater clarity and force. I won't steal the Carnival's thunder by announcing here what I chose.

Aside from the post I picked as best (which is not linked to in this post), here in no particular order are my top 10 posts of 2007.

The Sea Change

Politically Correct Racism

The Plays of Roswitha

Be Proud, America: Don't Recycle

Why Does Liberal Talk Radio Fail?

The Defining Premise

Rules for Actors

The Big Picture

The Worst American President in History

Only Egalitarian Racist Speech Allowed

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The New Wave Swells

Depressed by recent political events, I took Ludwig von Mises' Human Action off the shelf and cracked it open. I read chapter 36, "The Crisis of Interventionism." If you follow either link, you can read the chapter free online. You'll become smarter if you do. Mises is one of the few authors that always leaves you smarter after reading him.

By interventionism, Mises means government interference in the economy (but not all-out socialism). It goes by many other names: mixed economy, welfare state, the third way, liberalism, progressivism, compassionate conservatism, Rockefeller Republicanism, regulation, moderation and the middle of the road.

This chapter could have been written yesterday, but it was written 60 years ago and published in 1949. For instance:

The idea underlying all interventionist policies is that the higher income and wealth of the more affluent part of the population is a fund which can be freely used for the improvement of the conditions of the less prosperous. The essence of the interventionist policy is to take from one group to give to another. It is confiscation and distribution. Every measure is ultimately justified by declaring that it is fair to curb the rich for the benefit of the poor.

And this sounds familiar:

The interventionist in advocating additional public expenditure is not aware of the fact that the funds available are limited. He does not realize that increasing expenditure in one department enjoins restricting [p. 857] it in other departments. In his opinion there is plenty of money available. The income and wealth of the rich can be freely tapped. In recommending a greater allowance for the schools he simply stresses the point that it would be a good thing to spend more for education. He does not venture to prove that to raise the budgetary allowance for schools is more expedient than to raise that of another department, e.g., that of health. It never occurs to him that grave arguments could be advanced in favor of restricting public spending and lowering the burden of taxation. The champions of cuts in the budget are in his eyes merely the defenders of the manifestly unfair class interests of the rich.

Mises explains how government interference in the economy always makes things worse. The subsequent economic crisis is then blamed on the elements of freedom left in the economy, prompting the state to intensify intervention until finally there is full socialism.

All varieties of interference with the market phenomena not only fail to achieve the ends aimed at by their authors and supporters, but bring about a state of affairs which -- from the point of view of their authors' and advocates' valuations -- is less desirable than the previous state of affairs which they were designed to alter. If one wants to correct their manifest unsuitableness and preposterousness by supplementing the first acts of intervention with more and more of such acts, one must go farther and farther until the market economy has been entirely destroyed and socialism has been substituted for it.

Mises explains that we are heading for the German style of socialism (also known as fascism). Elsewhere he calls it "socialism on the German plan."

Marching ever further along the path of interventionism, all those countries that have not adopted full socialism of the Russian pattern [p. 859] are more and more approaching what is called a planned economy, i.e., socialism of the German or Hindenburg pattern. In regard to economic policies, there is nowadays little difference among the various nations and, within each nation, among the various political parties and pressure groups. The historical party names have lost their significance. There are, as far as economic policy is concerned, practically only two factions left: the advocates of the Lenin method of all-round nationalization and the interventionists.

And yet, part of Mises's argument doesn't seem right:

Yet the age of interventionism is reaching its end. Interventionism has exhausted all its potentialities and must disappear.

This was written 60 years ago, but we're still muddling along in the interventionist middle of the road. We have not crossed the Rubicon of "all-round nationalization" or dictatorship; we still have economic calculation. Obviously, interventionism was not "reaching its end" in 1949. What happened?

I think the problem is that Mises was basing his ideas on the German model that he lived through. Germany went from Bismarck's welfare state to Hitler's fascist dictatorship in around 50 years, or two and a half generations. America, with its Enlightenment heritage of individualism, was more receptive to better ideas.

And better ideas were being written and publicized just as Mises wrote Human Action. The free market movement was led by Ayn Rand, who created the first moral defense of capitalism. In addition, Leonard Read founded the Foundation for Economic Education.

These good ideas had an impact on the Republican Party, and on one man in particular, Barry Goldwater. He understood that interventionism was bad. In his Presidential campaign of 1964 he stood for small government. Although Goldwater lost in a landslide to LBJ, he changed the Republican Party and America. For awhile the Republican Party stood for smaller government and rolling back the welfare state. (The pragmatist Richard Nixon expanded government egregiously, but never as a moral crusade because he knew he was betraying Goldwater's principles.)

Ronald Reagan, who entered politics as a follower of Goldwater, brought free market, small government ideas into his Presidency starting in 1981 -- albeit in a frustratingly mixed bag that was in many ways a triumph of symbolism over substance. His supply side economics helped stimulate the economy. But his legacy is terribly compromised by his bringing the religious right to prominence in the party, planting the seeds of its own demise.

The Republican Party as a small government party lasted about two generations, 40 years; it is now over.

Senator John McCain, who will be the 2008 Republican Presidential nominee, repudiates the Goldwater paradigm. He admits his ignorance of economics. He pits profits against patriotism. He is a "national greatness" or big government Republican. Unlike any Republican since Teddy Roosevelt, he speaks of big government with the zeal of a moral crusader. He dreams of founding national service programs. He is an explicit statist, collectivist and altruist who believes that morality lies in sacrificing for something greater than self-interest.

If I am right, then the free market or "libertarian" movement in Republican Party forestalled the crises Mises thought were imminent. The forestalling has ended. The next President will be Obama, Clinton or McCain. All three are, to use Mises' terms, "interventionist dilettantes and demagogues." They all speak as if Human Action had never been written; they labor in dangerous ignorance, planning all the ways the state will spend the money it takes from rich capitalists. In their stupidity they will make the same errors interventionists have made throughout history. They will destroy wealth and freedom.

We are about to see a new wave of interventions in the economy, and a new round of crises brought on by those interventions. Will America respond with confusion or clarity? There are good ideas and solutions out there -- but will they find an audience? Will they prosper?

UPDATE: Slight revision.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 50

1. Good point:

The Democratic race has spiraled into a nightmare for a party of entitlements: a war between the aggrieved. Obama is in the more comfortable position, saying that he appeals to all voters, while his race itself silently appeals to blacks and, even more, to whites who wish to demonstrate their transcendence of racism. Mrs. Clinton’s supporters call on her sex more forthrightly; old-line feminist Erica Jong declared that she was for Hillary because mothers and children are “the most oppressed group in our country.”

The Democrat Party is split between two candidates not on ideological grounds (except for those who oppose Clinton because of her war vote), but on multiculturalist grounds. Women vote for Clinton because she is a woman; blacks vote for Obama because he is a black. It's a party so ignorant and shallow that it cannot think deeper than race and sex.

2. Rush Limbaugh agrees with what I recently wrote, that Republicans need Hillary Clinton to unite the party.

3. I don't usually publicize Kelley supporters, but Robert Bidinotto makes a good case against Senator McCain.

4. Howard Dean has attacked John McCain. Only one sentence betrays the moonbat Dean:

On immigration reform, he's run as far to the right as he can, aligning himself with the most extreme elements of the Republican Party.

Conservatives oppose McCain, of course, because he is too liberal on immigration. (I actually agree with McCain on immigration, an issue of tertiary importance.) McCain has co-authored a bill with Senator Kennedy on immigration. It seems that Dean is confident he can say A is non-A about a Republican and his base won't object.

5. As one who wants to see McCain stopped, I'm interested in how the Democrats plan to attack him. I don't find this piece reassuring. It sounds like the Democrat strategists want to paint McCain as a conservative (the same thing McCain wanted to do at CPAC).

Democrats have become lazy and ineffective by depending on the MSM to demonize Republicans. Sometimes it works, as it did with George Allen, when his career was absurdly finished because he said "macaca." I don't think these tactics will fly with McCain.

6. If you want some entertainment, try USA Today's Sudoku. I can do a one-star puzzle in less than four minutes.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thoughts in the Gloaming

With Romney quitting, it's down to McCain and Huckabee (which means it's down to McCain). Isn't it remarkable that, aside from Ron Paul, the two worst candidates are the last ones standing? I'm reminded of a chapter in Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, "Why the Worst Get on Top."

The next President will be Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain. The next step toward totalitarianism that we have long feared, which has been abstract all our life, now has one of those names. The beast was a hazy hulk, far off in the fog, but now we see the scales on his hide, the horns on his head.

It seems like we're at the start of a new era -- a era of increasing decline, where you can see the edges of civilization and freedom begin to fray. I'll probably be dead before things really get bad, but I look at young people and wince when I think of what the future holds for them.

And it is maddening that the worst damage from the encroaching state will be all the things that could have been but we'll never see. Just think if the $3 trillion our government spends were left in private hands! Just think of all the marvels we would know in our lifetime, all the diseases that would be cured, the science fictional inventions that would become a reality, the capital that would be invested, the wealth created, the rise in standard of living we would see, the arts that would be funded. We'll never see it because people like Hillary Clinton and George Bush steal the money from taxpayers and buy power with it. This is the great unknown tragedy of our time. If people ever understood this abstraction the way they perceive a truck rumbling at them in the street, to use Dr. Peikoff's image, there would be a revolution in the streets of Washington, D.C. and the gods would have blood.

In the 21st century I would not be surprised to see a rise in the popularity of Hellenic philosophy -- stoicism, epicureanism and neo-platonism. Our century seems much like that time period to me, a time of insecurity and fear as things get worse. People will look to such philosophies for ways to live in an uncertain time. The answers they will find will be false, for those philosophies teach a passive acceptance of one's condition; they teach people to be content without achieving or striving for values.

This political season has been a concretization of Ayn Rand's statement, it's earlier than you think. We're seeing that it's too early for political solutions. Political parties, after all, must win elections to survive. If either party were to adopt laissez-faire capitalist policies, with today's electorate, it would mean party suicide.

It's too early for good politicians to succeed. Look at the three Presidential candidates left standing. The American character is not what it was 35 years ago when McGovern was defeated. America is now so ignorant, corrupted and weak that people expect to be taken care of by the state. And in countries with voting, the people tend to get the kind of government they deserve.

Our only hope is the spread of a better philosophy than the ones I speculate about above. Only the spread of Objectivism, with its defense of the morality of self-interest, will turn around the decline. And this is the great difference between us and the Hellenic Age: they were philosophically helpless before bad ideas; we are armed. The solution is known -- but not widely enough. Not nearly enough.

UPDATE: I made a mistake above. Ron Paul is still in the race, although his cause is hopeless. So the three remaining Republican candidates are the three worst. All Democrats are pure statists, so it's hard to tell which of them is the worst.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Grim Tidings

Republican delegate count as of this writing:

McCain 597

Romney 240

Huckabee 178

What does it mean?

The Republican coalition is cracking up. The party has always been a coalition of disparate factions united only in that they are not Democrats. (I think that is why many Republicans hope Hillary Clinton gets the nomination; they need Republican hatred of Clintons to unite the party. This is a sad state for the party to be in.)

I suspect there are many Republicans who look at the three leading contenders left and see no one that remotely represents them.

I'm waiting for the nominees in both parties to be chosen before I make up my mind for November -- but I'm leaning toward the Democrat now. I really believe neither of the Democrats left would do as much harm to America as any of the Republicans.

In the end, I believe most Republicans will vote for the Republican. They will be angered in October when the Democrats, with the help of their propaganda wing in the MSM, bring out their October surprises and fling mud at the Republican. They did it to Bruce Hershenson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Dole and George W. Bush, that I can think of. The left's love of character assassination began with Borking in the 1980's. I know that I have been most motivated in the past to vote Republican by my outrage at the injustice and dishonesty of Democrat smear tactics. Wanting to punish the Democrats and the liberal MSM has been a powerful motivating force for the GOP. People like Hugh Hewitt and Rush Limbaugh know this all too well, and they whip up Republican outrage to get angry voters to the ballot box. The attempt to anger voters will be especially intense this year, because, as I noted above, there is nothing to unite Republicans for our candidate; the only chance is to unite the party in fear and loathing of the Democrat. (I intend to ignore the outrage this year.)

Whoever is elected President, I expect things to get worse before they get better.

Incidentally, hatred of the enemy is also the best thing the Democrats have going for them, as shown by the stupidest line uttered last night, by Hillary Clinton:

I won't let anyone swift-boat this country's future.

Maybe it was her way of assuring her moonbat base that she is still as loony as they are.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My Vote

There is only one important vote for registered Republicans today: for or against John McCain. I believe that if McCain is not stopped today, with the support he gets from independents he will be the next President.

I voted for Mitt Romney as the best, last chance of stopping John McCain. This does not mean I want Romney in November. It doesn't mean anything about Romney. I don't care about Romney. I just want to stop John McCain.

Morality Play

Once upon a time D. Party was an idealistic young girl married to her Shining Knight. They ruled Americatown with a benevolent dictatorship that was so good their regime was compared to Camelot.

D. Party's Shining Knight was assassinated and she fell on hard times. She lost the rule of Americatown to the evil Mr. Gop and his Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

Many years passed and D. Party began to think that she would never have a Shining Knight again, and would never rule Americatown again.

Then a tall, dark, rakish man called Clinton Machine appeared. He was a gambler, a hustler and not the most honest man around. He proposed to D. Party, promising her that if she married him, they would regain their lost power in Americatown.

"All I need you to do is turn a few tricks for me," Clinton Machine promised.

"But then I would be a whore," D. Party responded.

"Better to be a whore in power than an honest woman scraping by here in the slums on the dark edge of town."

Clinton Machine whispered words of love and told D. Party he felt her pain and her heart melted. She could not resist this charming rogue.

D. Party agreed to betray her youthful idealism and married Clinton Machine and they defeated the evil Mr. Gop and his VRWC and ruled for many years.

One day the Shining Knight showed up at D. Party's door and asked her to marry him again.

"But -- you were killed so many years ago!" D. Party exclaimed. "It's not possible that you have returned."

Shining Knight explained that he had been shot and mistaken for dead. He spent decades with amnesia, but now his mind was back and he longed to return to the glory days of their benevolent dictatorship of Americatown.

Clinton Machine burst into the room.

"What the f**k you think you're doin', bitch?" Clinton Machine screamed as he slapped D. Party with the back of his hand to send her sprawling on the floor. Blood trickled down her cheek where Clinton Machine's diamond ring cut her.

"I say," Shining Knight objected, "that's no way to treat a lady."

"Lady!" Clinton Machine laughed, "She's a whore, moron! And she's my whore now and she always will be!"

"But you hit her."

"It depends on what the meaning of hit is. Let's call it a love tap."

Clinton Machine kicked Shining Knight out the door and began to work on regaining D. Party's favor. He whispered the words of love he knew she could never resist. His eyes filled with tears and he talked about how much she meant to him.

"Besides," Clinton Machine purred, "Can't you see that Shining Knight is a... negro?"

"That's racist," D. Party replied.

"It depends on what the meaning of racist is. I'm just pointing out that evil Mr. Gop will use racism against Shining Knight, so you might as well stay with me."

Before Clinton Machine left the room he turned back and said with compassion, "You should put some ice on that."

D. Party lay on her bed sobbing at the predicament she was in. She had always accepted Clinton Machine's brutal tactics against Mr. Gop and his VRWC. Mr. Gop was a bad man who deserved whatever smears and lies Clinton Machine told about him. But now Clinton Machine was smearing her Shining Knight, the great love of her youth. Now she felt dirtied and used. Now she just felt like a two-bit whore.

That night D. Party heard a noise on her balcony. She went out the french doors to discover Shining Knight. He had climbed the balcony to take her away with him.

"I know you're still good," Shining Knight assured her. "You still hold the ideals of your youth. Come with me and let us be pure again."

"I... I don't know," D. Party said, wavering between two options.

"You don't have to stay with Clinton Machine," Shining Knight said. "I offer you change you can believe in."

"What does that mean?"

"I don't know, but it sounds like the old magic, doesn't it?"

D. Party thought about it. Then she raised her head and announced, "I will decide on Super Tuesday."

To Be Continued...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 49

I heard a rumor there was some kind of football game on Sunday.

I performed Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers at the Riverside Dickens Festival over the weekend. It is gratifying to act with so many talented young people. (Well, I must confess, it is most gratifying to walk onstage and show them how to do it right.)

Now, without a moment to catch my breath, I begin rehearsing Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which will be performed in repertory.

1. If you think conservatives will stay home instead of voting for McCain, read the pieces that are already working on conservatives, explaining whey they must vote for a big government Republican. Pieces by:

John Hawkins

Michael Medved

Don Surber

Debra Saunders

Robert Robb

This is just the beginning. I'm sure there are many more in circulation already.

2. Michael D. Tanner assesses McCain. He makes some good points on McCain's statism. He also points out where McCain is good, such as on free trade.

3. Hillary Clinton's latest:

WASHINGTON - Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday she might be willing to garnish the wages of workers who refuse to buy health insurance to achieve coverage for all Americans.

Garnish the wages? This reminds me of her statement about taking the profits of oil companies. Her concept of the government's role in the economy has no limits. The state can take whatever Hillary Clinton wants it to take.

4. Jeff Jacoby reminds us about Reagan, the man all Republican candidates claim to resemble:

Conservatives bristle at the thought of a Republican president who might raise income and payroll taxes. Or enlarge the federal government instead of shrinking it. Or appoint Supreme Court justices who are anything but strict constructionists. Or grant a blanket amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.

Now, I don't believe that a President McCain would do any of those things. But President Reagan did all of them. Reagan also provided arms to the Khomeini theocracy in Iran, presided over skyrocketing budget deficits, and ordered US troops to cut and run in the face of Islamist terror in the Middle East. McCain would be unlikely to commit any of those sins, either.

Rush Limbaugh loved to deride President Clinton for placing "symbolism over substance." Ironically, the conservatism of Rush's hero, President Reagan was in large part symbolism over substance.

5. Bill Quick makes the case against McCain. The immigration bill doesn't bother me, but the other points are good. Quick leaves out McCain's worship of sacrifice and his desire for a national service for young people, which frightens me more than anything else on that list. He also leaves out McCain-Lieberman:

The 2003 bill mandated a reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, and cuts to 1990 levels by 2016. In essence, the bill called for implementation of "Kyoto-lite" energy restrictions on the U.S. economy.

So, as bad as Quick shows McCain is, the Senator is substantially worse.

6. A Petition in Support of the U.S. Marine Corps Against the 29 January 2008 Resolutions of the Berkeley City Council

Friday, February 01, 2008

McCain vs. Freedom

What timing! At precisely the moment Republican voters need to be reminded of why John McCain is not an acceptable Presidential candidate, the reminding comes from McCain himself.

John McCain, sounding more like John Edwards than even Hillary or Obama have, attacked Mitt Romney -- for being a businessman!

The highlights from the debate:

I think that we’ve got to return to the principle that you don’t lend money that can’t pay it back. I think that there’s some greedy people on Wall Street that perhaps need to be punished.


HOOK: I want to start with Senator McCain.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the importance of leadership and management experience. What makes you more qualified than Mitt Romney, a successful CEO and businessman, to manage our economy?

MCCAIN: Because I know how to lead. I know how to lead.

I led the largest squadron in the United States Navy. And I did it out of patriotism, not for profit.


COOPER: I’m going to ask you all for follow-ups on this, but, Senator McCain, I just want to give you an opportunity to follow up on that. Is Governor Romney ready to be a military commander?

MCCAIN: Oh, I’m sure that, as I say, he’s a fine man. And I think he managed companies, and he bought, and he sold, and sometimes people lost their jobs. That’s the nature of that business.

Thank you, Senator. Neither Lenin nor Marx could have put their hatred of capitalists so succinctly.

This is one of those moments when I have to pause and count to 10. My loathing for John McCain has never been greater. In pitting patriotism against profit, McCain manages to insult both businessmen and patriots. He insults businessmen by implying the pursuit of profit is not noble. He insults patriots by implying they agree with him and are fighting and dying for socialism or something of the sort.

(The irony is that John McCain was part of the Keating Five, an exploit motivated by neither patriotism nor profit, but sheer corruption. Money gained by force or fraud is not profit, but stolen goods. Unlike Mitt Romney, John McCain has been on the receiving end of stolen goods.)

We have to remember that McCain is a "national greatness" conservative, like the people at the Weekly Standard. He believes in big, intrusive government, not to protect rights, but to guide the people in virtue. And virtue, in McCain's twisted mind, is bound up with collectivism and statism, with the individual sacrificing for the state.

So we have a man who, with Russ Feingold, used the First Amendment to the Constitution to wipe his ass. Rights, you see, are meaningless next to our noble government overseeing our virtue. The freedom of speech must give way to government control of speech in the name of virtue.

So we have a man who has opposed tax cuts and leads the way for enchaining our economy to fight global warming.

So we have a man who has advocated national service for young people and the need to "sacrifice for something greater than self-interest." (And because McCain is such a caring sort of chap, he'll make sure that every American has the opportunity to sacrifice to the state again and again and again.)

Really, once you throw out the concept of individual rights for state intervention -- for our own good, of course, always for our own good -- then anything goes. There is no sphere of life, no aspect of the economy, that McCain could not find justification to seize and control by the government.

John McCain would do more harm to America than either Clinton or Obama. Republicans in Congress would stifle the Democrat President every step of the way, but would stifle themselves under a McCain presidency. And Democrats in Congress would only complain about a President McCain that he has not gone far enough in destroying our freedoms.

It's up to Republican primary voters to stop this monster. If they fail, he will be the next President of the United States, because no Democrat can stop him in November.