Saturday, December 31, 2011

Idaho Beats Oregon, California, Washington on Charitable Giving

Idahoans average over $1,000 more per year in charitable giving than Oregonians. In terms of percent of income donated to charity West Coast states rate (average amount charitable donation is in brackets):

6. Idaho (1.58%) [$4,483]
22. Oregon (1.33%) [$3,368]
27. California (1.25%) [$3,929]
32. Washington (1.21%) [$3,896]

More Oregonians (31%) gave something to charity, with Californians at 29.6%, Washingtonians at 27.5%, and 25.9% of Idahoans contributing to charity.

Most generous states:

1. Utah (3.09%) [$7,142]
2. Georgia (1.85%) [$4,605]
3. Alabama (1.76%) [$5,349]
4. Maryland (1.67%) [$4,073]
5. South Carolina (1.66%) [$4,621]

Least generous states:

52. Maine (0.80%) [$2,702]
51. North Dakota (0.82%) [$4,584]
49. Vermont (0.86%) [$3,094]
49. New Hampshire (0.86%) [$2,727]
47. West Virginia (0.90%) [$5,053]

In terms of the percentage of the population who gave to charity, Maryland ranked first with 40.8% and West Virginia ranked last with 13.1%.

H/T Byron York

Republicans and Democrats Agree: Virginia Primary System Needs Help

United Press International reports that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is preparing emergency legislation to allow adding more candidates to Virginia's primary ballot.
"Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said he is intervening in the GOP primary process because only two candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, were able to secure the 10,000 signatures -- with a minimum of 400 from each congressional district -- to gain access to the March 6 primary, Fox News reported Saturday.

"'Recent events have underscored that our system is deficient,' Cuccinelli said in a statement Saturday. 'Virginia owes her citizens a better process. We can do it in time for the March primary if we resolve to do so quickly.'"
. . .
"Two former Democratic attorneys general, a former Democratic state party chairman and a former Republican state party chairman have expressed support for Cuccinelli's action, Fox News said."
Apparently only Governor Bob McConnell is less certain.
"Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, said: 'Virginia's laws regarding ballot access are well known and have been in place for many years. All candidates seeking to be listed on the Virginia primary ballot in a statewide race have known the requirements well in advance. ... It is unfortunate that this year, for whatever reasons, some Republican candidates did not even attempt to make the Virginia ballot, while others fell short of submitting the required number of valid signatures.'

"'That leaves Virginia voters with only two Republican choices in the March primary, and the governor certainly would have preferred a broader field. He is always open to reviewing how Virginia's primary system can be improved to provide voters with more choices.'"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

5 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan December 21 to December 27, 2011

December 21 - Spc. Mikayla A. Bragg, 21, of Longview, Wash., died in Khowst province, Afghanistan. She was assigned to the 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.

December 25 - Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Altmann, 27, of Marshfield, Wis., died in Kunar province Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

December 27 - Died in Paktia, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
- Sgt. Noah M. Korte, 29, of Lake Elsinore, Calif.,
- Spc. Kurt W. Kern, 24, of McAllen, Texas, and
- Pfc. Justin M. Whitmire, 20, of Easley, S.C.
They were assigned to the 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Dedicated to my brother, C. G.:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Newspaper Job Losses 30% More Than In 2010

Alan D. Mutter reports:
"The number of jobs eliminated in the newspaper industry rose by nearly 30% in 2011 from the prior year, according to the blog that has been tracking the human toll on the industry for the last five years."
This is in line with the percentage of newspaper jobs lost since 1989.
"Nearly 1 in 3 newsroom jobs have been eliminated since the number of journalists peaked at 56,900 in 1989, according to an annual survey by the American Society of News Editors. At the end of 2010, only 41,600 scribes were left on the industry’s payrolls.

"If only a fifth of the cuts identified by Smith in 2011 were in newsrooms, then barely 41,000 journalists will be left at America’s newspapers at year’s end. With the ASNE reporting that 52,600 journalists were on the job in 2007, then the projected newsroom headcount at the end of this year would be 22% lower than it was in 2007.

"In other words, the decline in newsroom employment has been twice as great since 2007 as the 11% drop in over-all industry employment. "
Mutter gets his 2011 numbers from the which is running this newspaper job loss map (information on Oregonian clicked).

Monday, December 19, 2011

5 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan December 10 to December 14, 2011

December 10 - Lance Cpl. Christopher P. J. Levy, 21, of Ramseur, N.C., died Dec. 10 of wounds sustained Dec. 7 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

December 11 - They died in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
- Sgt. Christopher L. Muniz, 24, of New Cuyama, Calif., and
- Spc. Ronald H. Wildrick Jr., 30, of Blairstown, N.J.

December 13 - Pvt. Jalfred D. Vaquerano, 20, of Apopka, Fla., died in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries suffered from enemy small-arms fire while deployed in Logar province, Afghanistan.

December 14 - Maj. Samuel M. Griffith, 36, of Virginia Beach, Va., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Mark Steyn's Death Blossom

Mark Steyn is a brilliant writer and analyst, but when he reaches his limits he can become a Death Blossom.

I get that he doesn't like Newt Gingrich and thinks Newt sums up the problems of the other candidates.
"Unlike the niche candidates, he offers all the faults of his predecessors rolled into one: Like Michele Bachmann, his staffers quit; like Herman Cain, he spent the latter decades of the last century making anonymous women uncomfortable, mainly through being married to them; like Mitt Romney, he was a flip-flopper, being in favor of government mandates on health care before he was against them, and in favor of big-government climate-change “solutions” before he was against them . . . ."
There are many passages of Steynian brilliant insight in this article. He got me yelling "uncle" a number of times. And there are some great asides.
"A year ago, we were still talking about Palin and Daniels and Christie and Jindal and Ryan, an embarrassment of riches."
Yes! He even starts the list with my favorite person who brings "riches" to Republicans: Sarah Palin.

But too often Death Blossom has its way in this piece.

1. On presidential ex-wives:
"On the eve of Iowa it seems the Republican base’s dream candidate is a Clinton-era retread who proclaims himself a third Roosevelt, with Taft’s waistline and twice as many ex-wives as the first 44 presidents combined; a lead zeppelin with more baggage than the Hindenburg; a self-help guru crossed with a K Street lobbyist, which means he’s helped himself on a scale few of us could dream of. For this the Tea Party spent three years organizing and agitating?"
Mark, remembering that Ronald Reagan was the first (and so far only) president with an ex-wife, frames the line "twice as many ex-wives". All the other presidents, except Reagan, had zero ex-wives. So, is having one (or two) ex-wives an impediment to being a good president?

Death Blossom hits Reagan.

2. On voters vs. consultants, money and endorsements.
"'Teacher of the rules of civilization.' I’m not sure I’m quite ready to acknowledge Newt as the 'definer of civilization,' but he is certainly the teacher of the new rules of primary season. Consultants, money, endorsements are for schlubs."
With campaign consultants like Steve "my 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate voted for Obama in 2008" Schmidt, Nicolle "we talked about replacing Sarah Palin as vice-president if she was elected" Wallace and Ed "I trash my candidates" Rollins, Republican consultants may not be what they are cracked up to be.

Money is helpful, but not necessary (e.g., Huckabee win in Iowa in 2008). I think many conservatives are leery of mega money whether it comes from big unions or big business. That's why cronyism is an issue in this campaign. Can you say Solyndra?

Endorsements at the presidential level are mostly worthless. Sarah Palin (about the 2:10 mark) is right about this. Endorsements mainly put the endorser in the list of possible political appointees or receivers of presidential largesse.

Death Blossom hits the good sense that real political power comes (or should come) from the voters.

3. On Gingrich/Churchill comparisons:
"Warned against his tendency to self-glorification, Gingrich reacted to his amazing revival by modestly comparing himself to Reagan, Thatcher, and the founders of Walmart and McDonald’s. He left it to Joe McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, to produce a comparison more appropriate to a statesman-historian of his stature: Winston Churchill."
Unfortunately, Mark didn't read the recent piece comparing Newt to Churchill by Steven F. Hayward a National Review contributor and expert on Reagan and Churchill.

Death Blossom hits Steven Hayward.

4. On conservatives serving as consultants to governmental entities.
"At Freddie Mac, Newt was peddling influence to a quasi-governmental entity. At Bain Capital, Mitt Romney was risking private equity in private business enterprise. What sort of 'conservative' would conflate the two?"
I thought the conservative position included farming out to private enterprise all governmental tasks possible. I thought we liked private enterprise bidding on projects rather than instituting an ongoing bureaucracy to care for them. And if consultants are to be hired, no conservatives should ever be consulted? Kind of rules out non-elected conservative influence in government, doesn't it?

Death Blossom hits conservative participation as contractors or consultants for government and quasi-government entities. Not a great idea to leave all the consulting and government contracts to the left end of the spectrum.

5. On zany, sci-fi type ideas.

Mark uses Mitt Romney's comment to mock Gingrich (though, to be fair, Mark bludgeons both Gingrich and Romney in this section).
"Asked where his policies differed from Gingrich’s, Romney cut to the chase: 'We could start with his idea to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the moon.'”
This reminds me of all the criticism directed at Reagan for proposing his "crazy" Star Wars defense scheme. That non-functional Star Wars program ended up being a key element in ending the Cold War peacefully.

Death Blossom scores another hit on Reagan.

6. On writing political books, serving in government and staying in political power even when out of office.
"Perhaps the single most repellent feature of the political class that has served America so disastrously in recent decades is its shameless venality in parlaying 'public service' into a guarantee of an eternal snout at the trough. Newt writes bestselling books about government, produces DVDs about government, sets up websites about government, but he is as foreign to genuine private-sector wealth creation as any life politician. Indeed, his endurance in Washington represents one of the worst aspects of contemporary 'public service' — that a life in politics no longer depends on anything so whimsical as the votes of the people."
Someone else writes bestselling books about government, politics and political campaigns, has been the subject of a DVD about government in Alaska, and has been in politics (either elective office or working for quasi-governmental agencies) since 1992 and "no longer depends on anything so whimsical as the votes of the people."

Death Blossom hits Sarah Palin.

There is much important in this article. Newt Gingrich does have real problems. All the candidates do. That's why people express disgust with the choices at every presidential election--or at least have for all the elections in my political life time.

I love you, Mark! But, take a deep breath next time before firing the rockets. Death Blossom is not the way to underline the dilemmas.

Though one does have to admit that in being directed at everyone and everything, Death Blossom is more honest than those who criticize other candidates but shield their own preferred candidate(s). And miles above those who were cheerleading the wonders of Obama not so long ago (David Brooks, George Will, Peggy Noonan) and small ballers (like Kathleen Parker) who still are.

National Review's Self-Defeating Poll

National Review ran this poll on Saturday.

If Paul supporters are spamming National Review Online polls, they aren't particularly effective.

It puts in doubt the good judgment of NRO as well as those who voted "yes".

For the record, I voted "no". :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Daffy National Review: We Don't Like the Candidates 52% of Republicans Like

UPDATE: Can Andrew McCarthy save National Review's brand? As an admirer of Bill Buckley, I hope so. McCarthy's conclusion:
"There is no avoiding the fact that we live in a practical, tactical world. Personality has its place and electability matters. But National Review has endured as a beacon of our movement for over a half-century because the power of conservative ideas can trump personality and dramatically alter voters’ notions about who is electable. If we lose that conviction — if we convince ourselves that conservative candidates, effectively arguing conservative ideas, cannot persuade a center-right country to reject the most radical Leftist ever to occupy the Oval Office — we are nowhere."
Read the whole column. He's on target with every single argument.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

for original NR cover see below
National Review only likes three presidential candidates, and one of them is NOT Newt Gingrich. Publishing at National Review Online, the editors assert:
"We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity [to win the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress]. We say that mindful of his opponents’ imperfections — and of his own virtues, which have been on display during his amazing comeback. Very few people with a personal history like his — two divorces, two marriages to former mistresses — have ever tried running for president."
Even worse, as their cover proclaims (see below), Newt is, well, somewhat looney. My take (expressed in the Photoshopped cover to the left) is that National Review editors are the ones with reality problems. Actually, National Review editors are not even up to the Marvin the Martian bar. At least Marvin knew whose side he was fighting on.

National Review editors seem to think that arguing against four top tier Republican candidates, all of whom have garnered good numbers in the polls at one time or another, none of whose main positions are not conservative (except Ron Paul on foreign policy), is a winning strategy. Maybe. Sure goes against Reagan's 11th commandment.

Not to worry, it's only a horrible strategy if one of the bashed gets the nomination. Additionally, in one fell swoop National Review has alienated the supporters of Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann and Paul (adding up to 52% of Republican or Republican-leaning voters in the latest Gallup Poll). Even worse, the candidates they choose win a meager 28%.

It's one thing to boost a preferred candidate. It's quite another to tear down other candidates--especially those who garner over half the voting preference and buy in to the "conservative consensus". Would you take advice on any important issue from people who think it smart to alienate 52% of their base while appealing to only 28%? Especially since, as they argue, there isn't much difference in the candidates' conservative bona fides.
"A hard-fought presidential primary campaign is obscuring the uncharacteristic degree of unity within the Republican party. It has reached a conservative consensus on most of the pressing issues of the day. All of the leading candidates, and almost all of the lagging ones, support the right to life. All of them favor the repeal of Obamacare. Most of them support reforms to restrain the growth of entitlement spending. All of them favor reducing the corporate tax rate to levels that will make the U.S. a competitive location for investment. Almost all of them seem to understand the dangers of a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and of a defense policy driven by the need to protect social spending rather than the national interest. Conservatives may disagree among themselves about which candidate most deserves support, but all of us should take heart in this development — and none of us should exaggerate the programmatic differences within the field.
National Review even takes mild swipes at the three they like. Huntsman and Romney have trouble with voters, and Santorum has no executive experience.
"Three other candidates deserve serious consideration. Governor Huntsman has a solid record, notwithstanding his sometimes glib foreign-policy pronouncements; his main weakness is his apparent inability, so far, to forge a connection with conservative voters outside Utah. Governor Romney won our endorsement last time, in part because some of the other leading candidates were openly hostile to important elements of conservatism. He is highly intelligent and disciplined, and he takes conservative positions on all the key issues. We still think he would make a fine president, but time and ceaseless effort have not yet overcome conservative voters’ skepticism about the liberal aspects of his record and his managerial disposition. Senator Santorum was an effective legislator. He deserves credit for highlighting, more than any other candidate, the need for public policies that topple barriers to middle-class aspirations. Weighing against him is a lack of executive experience."
There's nothing to like about this editorial no matter who you are for. No man-the-barricades call to action. No bold colors. Only pastels and sniping. Looney Tunes? Well, maybe Daffy rather than Marvin.

original cover

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Are Rep. Paul and Bachmann the Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

Both Rep. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann are criticizing Newt Gingrich for accepting a paid position with Freddie Mac.
“'Freddie Mac [was] bailed out by the taxpayers,' Paul continued. 'So in a way, Newt, I think you probably got some of our taxpayers’ money.'

"Paul isn’t simply spreading that meme in debates. He’s also pushing the message in two attack videos his campaign has released online — both of which have scored links on the Drudge Report. The two versions of the first video — one is ad-length, the other longer — have together been viewed over 1 million times. On an appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday, Paul commented that he wouldn’t 'have taken their money just for the fact that I think it’s an immoral thing.'

"Bachmann, too, has harshly criticized Gingrich for 'shilling' for Freddie Mac. 'Whether former speaker Gingrich made $300,000 or whether he made $2 million, the point is that he took money to influence senior Republicans to be favorable toward Fannie and Freddie,' Bachmann said in November."
The interesting thing is that both Paul and Bachmann are currently on the public payroll, and are campaigning for president rather than doing what one assumes is a fairly full-time job of being a congressional representative.

The point was brought home to me when I was looking up Congressional votes. Here's a link to a roll call vote today. Scroll to the bottom and see whose names are listed as among the 6 (of 433) not voting. Both Rep. Paul and Bachmann are in the 1% of U. S. Representatives who didn't vote on a bill "To provide incentives for the creation of jobs, and for other purposes". Perhaps that's a 1% we can all be against.

Apparently, it's okay with Paul and Bachmann to take public funds for their quite well paid jobs though they aren't even showing up to vote let alone conduct the other public business a U.S. Representative is asked to do like oversight of government operations via committee assignments.

Not that this is unusual political behavior, but for Paul and Bachmann to call out Gingrich for receiving a publicly funded salary from a mismanaged federal entity all the while not showing up at their own publicly funded work place is at the least like the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe worse, if Gingrich actually did his job well.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another "Not the Sharpest Knife" Anonymous Source Against Gringrich

Human Events is running a lame anti-Gingrich story based on information of an anonymous "former House GOP leadership staffer".

1. Apparently because Gingrich didn't ask the Senate to stay in session in October 1998 while the House still had to vote on the 1999 budget, five Republican candidates (four of them were at the time serving in the House) lost Senate races.
“'When the House finally voted on the budget October 20, it was too late for any of them,' [the anonymous staffer] said.

"When the November 3 election votes were tallied, the GOP lost five seats in the House and gained no new seats in the Senate, he said."
Remember the brouhaha over the supposed cost of the House taking an hour and a half to read the Constitution?
“'When one chamber of Congress is in session but not working, we the people still have to pay for members’ salaries and expenses, and for their police protection, and for keeping their lights and phones and coffee machines on.'"
Apparently this anonymous staffer believes it is a good use of taxpayer funds to keep the Senate in session three weeks or so without any work to do (how would that have played in the headlines?) to keep five Democrats from campaigning as effectively as when not in session. Maybe the anonymous staffer does not know that even when Congress is in session individuals can be out campaigning. Most of the last six months while Congress was in session, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep Ron Paul have been out campaigning. This anonymous staffer gives us a twofer. No political or monetary sense.

2. Apparently Gingrich convinced this staffer that Republicans would gain 30 seats in 1998 instead of losing 5.
“'What was even more galling to the members was the way Gingrich and Linder had everyone convinced we were headed for a 30-seat gain,' said the former staffer, who is not affiliated with a presidential campaign."
Political leaders are supposed to be overly optimistic. They're supposed to say they will win even though it looks like they will lose. But, staffers are supposed to be hard-headed and doing real research. But somehow the anonymous staffer was credulous enough to believe that though there were no (none, zero) seat gains in the 1996 elections, there would be a blow out of a 30 seat gain in 1998 as a delayed follow up to the 63 seat gain in 1994.

3. The 1999 budget was a "disaster".
“'It also didn’t help that the budget that passed was a disaster. It had no tax cut and Clinton got everything he wanted,' the former staffer said. 'Limbaugh was killing us and calling the budget a sellout, so conservatives stayed home.'”
One of only four balanced federal budgets in modern history (1998-2001) was a disaster? If a balanced budget is a disaster, what does that make all the budgets passed before and since? Cataclysms? Utter ruinations? Armageddons?

4. Then there are the small ball gripes. Newt wanted to "be driven in [an] American-made car".
“'Even when he campaigned for candidates it was a crazy production,' he said. 'He had a 13-page rider with requirements like: Must be driven in American-made car, must have steak for lunch and must have a treadmill in hotel room.'”
Talk about crazy. Why would any candidate want to boost American-made products? Or someone trying to keep in shape ask for a treadmill in his hotel room? Or, having to eat the junk food that is part of campaigning, ask for certain food to be provided at least at lunch?

No wonder the staffer wants to remain anonymous. Who would want to be identified as the professional pol who said this stuff? It doesn't say much for Human Events that they are publishing such drivel.

H/T Byron York

4 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan November 21 to December 3, 2011

December 3 - Sgt. Ryan D. Sharp, 28, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered Nov. 21 at Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Died in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
- Sgt. 1st Class Clark A. Corley Jr., 35, of Oxnard, Calif.,
- Spc. Ryan M. Lumley, 21, of Lakeland, Fla., and
- Spc. Thomas J. Mayberry, 21, of Springville, Calif.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pearl Harbor and FDR

photo from Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
December 7, 1941, is a day that will live in infamy, and a large part of its living on in the American memory is due to the spectacular war time leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Though my parents changed early on from Democrat to conservative Republican, they still revere Franklin Roosevelt. Not for his domestic policies but for his ability to galvanize and lead the country in time of war.

My dad served in the Pacific theater in World War II. America lost over 400,000 men with another 600,000 wounded in World War II. My mom, on the home front, suffered not only the anxiety of her young husband going off to war but a stiff rationing program endured by the entire nation for more than four years.

Yet from December 7, 1941, to his death on April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt rallied the country to overcome economic and military obstacles in pursuit not only of military victory, but an "unconditional surrender" victory in a two front war in which military service was not for a fixed time period but for the duration plus six months.

The nation also peacefully accepted the "relocation" of nearly 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese to internment camps by executive order--with no civil or political rebellion. Though this proved an unnecessary precaution, it is a token of Roosevelt's ability to unite the nation to all out war at whatever cost.

The national unity and resolve that Roosevelt inspired is breathtaking in light of the civil and political opposition against every significant U.S. war since World War II, especially the war in Vietnam. This despite the fact that none of the succeeding wars have incurred anywhere near the losses in terms of military casualties and home front sacrifices of World War II.

Franklin Roosevelt, like Winston Churchill, was an extraordinary war time leader. Churchill gave the British spine to resist and fight when their homeland was daily under attack. Roosevelt gave Americans a resolve to fight, sacrifice and die in the hundreds of thousands even when their homeland was not under attack after Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor, a surprise attack American loss matched only by 9/11, stands as a monument to the greatness of the American people to turn an unprovoked attack into a complete military victory in African, European and Pacific theaters of war and as a monument to the outstanding war time leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Monday, December 05, 2011

2 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan November 21 to November 30, 2011

November 21 - Sgt. 1st Class Dennis R. Murray, 38, of Red Broiling Springs, Tenn., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

November 30 - Staff Sgt. Vincent J. Bell, 28, of Detroit, Mich., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Yuval Levin on Constitutional/Conservative vs. Progressive Liberalism

Yuval Levin at National Review:
"As the framers saw it, both populist and technocratic politics were expressions of a modern hubris about the capacity of human beings--be it of the experts or of the people as a whole--to make just the right governing decisions. The Constitution is built upon a profound skepticism about the ability of any political arrangement to overcome the limitations of human reason and human nature, and so establishes a system of checks to prevent sudden large mistakes while enabling gradual changes supported by a broad and longstanding consensus."
. . .
"In the view of the framers, there is no omniscience; there is only imperfect humanity. We therefore need checks on all of our various excesses, and a system that forces us to think through important decisions as best we can. This may well be the essential insight of our constitutional system: Since there is no perfection in human affairs, any system of government has to account for the permanent imperfections of the people who are both governing and governed, and this is best achieved through constitutional forms that compel self-restraint and enable self-correction.

"This emphasis on moderating forms--that is, the focus on arrangements that impose structure and restraint on political life--is crucial, and it has always been controversial. Indeed, it is what troubled the progressives most of all about our system, and what troubled many other technocrats and populists before them. But as Alexis de Tocqueville noted a century before the New Deal, “this objection which the men of democracies make to forms is the very thing which renders forms so useful to freedom; for their chief merit is to serve as a barrier between the strong and the weak.” And he added, with his usual prescience, “Forms become more necessary in proportion as the government becomes more active and more powerful.” In other words, we need them now more than ever."
[emphasis added]
. . .
"The difference between these two kinds of liberalism--constitutionalism grounded in humility about human nature and progressivism grounded in utopian expectations--is a crucial fault line of our politics, and has divided the friends of liberty since at least the French Revolution. It speaks to two kinds of views about just what liberal politics is.

"One view, which has always been the less common one, holds that liberal institutions were the product of countless generations of political and cultural evolution in the West, which by the time of the Enlightenment, and especially in Britain, had begun to arrive at political forms that pointed toward some timeless principles in which our common life must be grounded, that accounted for the complexities of society, and that allowed for a workable balance between freedom and effective government given the constraints of human nature. Liberalism, in this view, involves the preservation and gradual improvement of those forms because they allow us both to grasp the proper principles of politics and to govern ourselves well.

"The other, and more common, view argues that liberal institutions were the result of a discovery of new political principles in the Enlightenment--principles that pointed toward new ideals and institutions, and toward an ideal society. Liberalism, in this view, is the pursuit of that ideal society. Thus one view understands liberalism as an accomplishment to be preserved and enhanced, while another sees it as a discovery that points beyond the existing arrangements of society. One holds that the prudent forms of liberal institutions are what matter most, while the other holds that the utopian goals of liberal politics are paramount. One is conservative while the other is progressive."
H/T Andrew C. McCarthy

Friday, December 02, 2011

PEW: Americans the Mirror Image of Europeans on Freedom/Nanny State

From the PEW Research Center:
"American opinions about the role of the state also vary considerably across age groups. About half (47%) of those younger than 30 prioritize the freedom to pursue life’s goals without interference from the state and a similar percentage (46%) say it is more important for the state to ensure that nobody is in need; among older Americans, however, about six-in-ten consider being free a higher priority, with just about three-in-ten saying the state should play an active role so that nobody is in need. No such age difference is evident in the four Western European countries surveyed.

"Asked if they agree that “success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,” Americans again offer more individualistic views than those expressed by Western Europeans. Only 36% of Americans believe they have little control over their fate, compared with 50% in Spain, 57% in France and 72% in Germany; Britain is the only Western European country surveyed where fewer than half (41%) share this view."
There's a lot interesting in this PEW study not only on state matters but on cultural superiority, religion and morality. The chart on Morality and Belief in God reminds me of Mark Steyn's discussion of Nietzsche in After America:

“We know [Nietzsche] called the twentieth century right ["as an age of ‘wars such as have never happened on earth.’"]. So what did he have to say about the twenty-first? He foresaw a time even worse than the ‘wars such as have never happened,’ wars that were after all still fought according to the remnants, the ‘mere pittance’ of the late God’s moral codes. But after that, what? The next century–-our century–-would see ‘the total eclipse of all values.’ Man would attempt a ‘re-evalutaion,’ as the West surely did through multiculturalisms, sexual liberation, eco-fetishization, and various other fancies. But you cannot have an effective moral code, Nietsche pointed out, without a God who says ‘Thou shalt not.’” (pp. 321-322)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

PEW: 38% of Americans Think Global Warming Is Human Caused

A November, 2011, PEW Research Center poll finds that only 38% of Americans think that global warming is human caused. That's the exact same percentage who think global warming is a "very serious" problem.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Corporal Adam J. Buyes of Salem Killed in Afghanistan

Cpl. Adam J. Buyes
Cpl. Adam J. Buyes, 21, of Salem, Ore., died Nov. 26 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. This incident is under investigation.

Stars and Stripes reports:
"The 21-year-old joined the Marines Corps in January 2009 after graduating from McKay High School in Salem the year before. Buyes’ brother Joshua is also a Marine, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

"'He cared for his Marines as if they were brothers from the beginning,' said 1st Sgt. Daniel J. Wilson, the battalion first sergeant, in a statement released Tuesday by the Marines on Okinawa Tuesday. 'Cpl. Buyes was just one of those Marines that made being in Okinawa, Japan, or deployed to Afghanistan better and more enjoyable for everyone.'

"A high-school athlete, Buyes 'had high morals, a great work ethic,' his high school football coach Jay Minyard told The Oregonian. 'His peers loved him; his teachers loved him.'

"A memorial service will be held Dec. 4 at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Marine officials said."
According to the Oregonian, Cpl. Buyes is the 31st Oregonian to die in Afghanistan. Full list of Oregon and Southwest Washington servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan before Buyes is here.

[Photo is from the Statesman Journal (Salem).]

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Andrew McCarthy: Republicans Subsidize Mansions

Andrew McCarthy in National Review:
"Almost two weeks ago, when they figured no one was watching, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, by an overwhelming 292–121 margin, voted to increase funding for the Federal Housing Administration. Just as government debt hit $15 trillion, edging closer to 100 percent of GDP, these self-proclaimed scourges of spending decided Uncle Sam should continue subsidizing mini-mansion mortgage loans — up to nearly three-quarters of a million dollars."
. . .
"Not housing for the poor, mind you, nor even for the middle-class — luxury homes. The real-estate market is so depressed at the moment that the median sale price of a single-family home is less than $170,000. Even in high-cost areas like Los Angeles, the Wall Street Journal reports, it has plunged to less than $325,000. Yet the Republican House — installed by the Tea Party in a sea-change election to be the antidote to Obamanomics — decided the taxpayers should guarantee FHA loans up to $729,750. Had they not acted, the public obligation would have been reduced to “only” $625,500 per FHA loan — couldn’t have that, right?"
. . .
"If Republicans really thought the growth of government was unsustainable, they’d stop growing it. As it is, the truly profound difference on “a vision of government” is between those who believe that government “growth” is unsustainable versus those who realize that government is unsustainable as is — those who grasp that throwing untold billions at Baby Boomer palaces is not compassion; it is the grandest of larceny, robbing our children and grandchildren of the chance for prosperity our forebears laid down their lives to preserve for us.

"It was only a decade ago that we were getting by on 18.2 percent of GDP, and only about half a decade ago that a $400 billion annual deficit (about a trillion less than what we’re running now) was considered unconscionable. Where are the Republicans who are going to tell us how we get back to that?"
. . .
"Obama Democrats demagogue about the need to balance spending cuts with tax hikes. Republicans predictably respond that they were willing to compromise. When you are $15 trillion in debt, a debate over whether we should borrow another $6 trillion or another $5 trillion is not an exercise in compromise. It is an exercise in insanity."
[emphasis added]

Friday, November 25, 2011

Occupy Portland City Costs Nearing $1.5 Million

The Portland Tribune:
"The cost of rehabilitating Chapman and Lownsdale squares after five weeks of an Occupy Portland encampment could be substantial, with the price tag hitting $100,000 or more. That is in addition to the police overtime costs for dealing with the protesters, currently pegged at nearly $1.3 million and rising."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for William F. Buckley, Jr. - 2011

William F. Buckley, Jr., with Jeff Greenfield on Firing Line set in 1973

William F. Buckley, Jr., was born in 1925 on this date. He not only changed the course of conservatism in America, but he set a standard of intellectual integrity and personal warmth that changed the lives of many young conservatives. I was among them in the late 1960's. The first time I saw him debate, I asked him to sign my paperback copy of Rumbles Left and Right. The was the first of many kindnesses he showed me.

Proverbs 19:22 says "What is desirable in a man is his kindness". Bill Buckley was a kind, generous and loyal man--to many individuals and to his nation. He remains a blessing from the Lord.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for C. S. Lewis 2011

Hans Wild photo from Life Magazine

After leaving a Christian legacy that is stronger today than during his lifetime, C. S. Lewis passed into the presence of his Lord forty-eight years ago today.

Lewis's passing was little noticed at the time because he died the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Here is a quotation from a favorite Lewis book, Mere Christianity (from The Case for Christianity).
"Another possible objection is this.  Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil?  Why is He not landing in force, invading it?  Is is that He is not strong enough?  Well, Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when.  But we can guess why He is delaying.  He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely.  I do not suppose you and I would have thought much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side.  God will invade.  But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when He does.  When that happens, it is the end of the world.  When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.  God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else–something it never entered your head to conceive–comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left?  For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.  It will be too late then to choose your side.  There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.  That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.  Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.  God is holding back to give us that chance.  It will not last for ever.  We must take it or leave it."
Lewis housekeeper Mollie Miller's nephews playing at the Lewis house in 1973

8 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq November 14 to November 21, 2011

November 14 - Spc. David E. Hickman, 23, of Greensboro, N.C., died in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device.

November 16 - They died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
- Spc. James R. Burnett Jr., 21, of Wichita, Kan.; and
- Pfc. Matthew C. Colin, 22, of Navarre, Fla.

- Spc. Sean M. Walsh, 21, of San Jose, Calif., died in Khowst province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained after encountering indirect fire.

November 18 - Pfc. Adam E. Dobereiner, 21, of Moline, Ill., died at Kandahar province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

- Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Corral, 19, of Danville, Calif., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

November 21 - Pvt. Jackie L. Diener II, 20, of Boyne City, Mich., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.

- Cpl. Zachary C. Reiff, 22, of Preston, Iowa, died of wounds suffered Nov. 18 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Parkerization of Conservative Pundits

Kathleen Parker’s recent column asserts a change in the GOP “in which the least informed earns the loudest applause.” She calls it the Palinization of the GOP.

Unfortunately, earning the loudest applause while being the least informed seems all too apt as regards some conservative pundits, too. Parker comes up short on facts supporting her assertions.

Parker starts by citing liberal Democrat strategist Paul Begala on the horrible state of the GOP as the "stupid" party. She goes on.
“. . . as [Begala] also pointed out, the conservative brain trust once led by William F. Buckley has been supplanted by talk radio hosts who love to quote Buckley (and boast of his friendship) but who do not share the man’s pedigree or his nimble mind. Moreover, where Buckley tried to rid the GOP of fringe elements, notably the John Birch Society, today’s conservatives have let them back in. The 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference was co-sponsored by the Birchers.”
But, Parker, who likes to evoke Buckley as a model, departs from Buckley’s own standards and positions.

The first departure is in quoting a leading liberal Democratic strategist as the basis for slamming conservatives and the GOP. Bill Buckley didn't look to leading liberal Democrats (or liberal Republicans for that matter) for political advice. Buckley was on the receiving end of too many of attacks from such as Begala warning Republicans to turn away from hyper-conservatives like Reagan, Goldwater, and Buckley himself.

Second, Parker finds problematic scientific skepticism among global warming skeptics. Buckley found it among global warming supporters. Parker writes:
“Scientific skepticism, the engine that propels intellectual inquiry, has morphed into skepticism of science fueled by religious certitude. In this strange world, it is heresy to express concern about, for example, climate change — or even to suggest that human behavior may be a contributing factor. Jon Huntsman committed blasphemy when he told ABC’s Jake Tapper that he trusts scientists on global warming.”
Buckley, though believing scientists on global warming, made the opposite case. It was the global warming supporters who were closed to scientific evidence.
“For those with addled reflexes, here is the story compressed: (1) Anyone who speaks discriminatingly about global warming is conspiring to belittle the threat. Such people end up (2) working for Exxon Mobil, a perpetrator of the great threat the malefactor sought to distract us from.”
Further, Buckley, too, was somewhat skeptical about the extent of the impact of human behavior on global warming.
“Critics are correct in insisting that human enterprises have an effect on climate. What they cannot at this point do is specify exactly how great the damage is, nor how much relief would be effected by specific acts of natural propitiation.

“The whole business is eerily religious in feel. Back in the 15th century, the question was: Do you believe in Christ? It was required in Spain by the Inquisition that the answer should be affirmative, leaving to one side subsidiary specifications.

It is required today to believe that carbon-dioxide emissions threaten the basic ecological balance. The assumption then is that inasmuch as a large proportion of the damage is man-made, man-made solutions are necessary. But it is easy to see, right away, that there is a problem in devising appropriate solutions, and in allocating responsibility for them.”
[emphasis added]
As for Parker’s claim that "skepticism of science" is "fueled by religious certitude", we see which side Bill Buckley thought was more in tune with the spirit of the Inquisition. It wasn’t the global warming skeptics.

Third, Buckley was very warm to religion in the public square. Parker asserts “No one was more devout than the very-Catholic Buckley, but you didn’t see him convening revivals in the public square.” Where that comes from I have no idea. Buckley, along with the U.S. Supreme Court, believed that free speech allowed for revivalists in the public square. Buckley was for more religious involvement in public life not less.

Buckley promoted public discussion of religion and Christianity. Parker may have missed the Firing Line programs with Malcolm Muggeridge, Billy Graham and R. C. Sproul, among others. In one of them Buckley wonders why people aren’t allowed to talk about religion at social occasions without being considered a fanatic.

Then there’s Buckley’s belief that the separation of Christianity from the public square is a "terrible idea". In an interview with Bill Buckley, in August, 2004, Terence Smith asks if the Christian conservative movement has taken over.
"WILLIAM BUCKLEY: That's important. No, they certainly haven't. But certain people in politics feel that in order to engage in politics, it's by no means necessary to forget that you also believe in religion. And to the extent that religion is emphasized, it becomes irksome for people who are skeptical about religion or even hostile to it.

"Because every time Jimmy Carter said grace or -- or President Bush mentions it, there are certain people who wince.


"WILLIAM BUCKLEY: No, not at all, no, because I like to think of myself primarily as a Christian. That's what I seek to be. And when you consider the extent to which people feel that Christianity and politics should be completely separated, I think that's a terrible idea because the principal animus for a harmonious polity I think is religious.

"One's concern for somebody's civil rights, for equality, derives, in my judgment, from the fact that we acknowledge that we are all creatures of God. In the absence of that, of that kind of direction, it would be an afterthought."
Parker does not seem to know that traditionally the Catholic church has supported, not opposed, religion in the public square even up to actual establishment. Buckley, being a firm constitutionalist, did not support establishment in the U.S., but did not rail against state supported churches abroad. For example, he didn't seem much bothered by the established church in Norway or England.

Fourth, Parker intimates that Buckley was not at all like, say, Rush Limbaugh who “says that climate change is a hoax and so it must be.” But Bill Buckley liked and mostly agreed with Limbaugh (maybe he would even agree on it being a “hoax” after learning of the Climategate scandal--about, among other things, "hiding the decline"–-which occurred after Buckley died).

In his interview Terence Smith asked what Buckley thought about the emergence and success of "a voice like Rush Limbaugh".
"WILLIAM BUCKLEY: Well, of course I'm grateful because I'm a fan, and I believe in most of the things he believes in.

"There are stylistic differences which [inaudible] the fact that he's broadcasting 15 hours a week, and under the circumstances, has to be repetitious."
Parker loves to evoke Bill Buckley and his “pedigree” and “nimble mind”. One wonders if he would have thought her mind a little too nimble for minds like his and Limbaugh’s. The Parkerization of conservative pundits?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oregonian Doctors Account of Circulation "Gain"

Oregonian reporter Allan Brettman notes a 1.6% rise in circulation from September, 2010, to September, 2011.
"Average daily circulation for The Oregonian increased to 242,784 for the six months that ended Sept. 30, according to figures released Tuesday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. That's up 3,713 copies or 1.6 percent, from the same period a year earlier."
Oregonian Managing Editor, Therese Bottomly echoes Brettman's account.

Though Brettman links to the the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) report, neither he nor Bottomly mention ABC's advice not to compare this year's September numbers to last year's September numbers because measurement standards changed last October
"Today’s FAS-FAX report reflects the U.S. newspaper rule changes that went into effect last October. This FAS-FAX report, therefore, has new and redefined categories of circulation. A fact sheet and a list of frequently asked questions about the changes are available here. And as a reminder, ABC recommends not making direct comparisons of September 2011 data to prior audit periods."
[emphasis added]
Brettman also fails to note the Oregonian's 6.7% circulation drop (and here) from six months ago (March, 2011) when ABC was using the same standard as in the current September report. Further though Brettman states that the Oregonian is now #21 among the top 25 U.S. newspapers, he does not report that this is a drop from #19 in March, 2011.

If Oregonian reporters and editors leave out three key facts in an article on a subject they know intimately, it seems risky business to depend on Oregonian reporting for a clear, in depth account of other issues.

Kathleen Parker Gets Reagan and Buckley Wrong

Kathleen Parker seems to think the best way to emphasize a point is to demean others. Her current column not only takes a hit at Sarah Palin (who Parker targets even though Palin is not running for president or leadership of the Republican party). It also mischaracterizes Ronald Reagan and, strangely enough, questions William F. Buckley Jr.'s friendships.

Parker says the GOP has been Palinized--meaning it has become anti-elite and anti-intellectual.
"It takes courage to swim against the tide of know-nothingness that has become de rigueur among the anti-elite, anti-intellectual Republican base. Call it the Palinization of the GOP, in which the least informed earns the loudest applause."
Interesting that this was the same charge thrown at Ronald Reagan. According to his critics, he was a B movie actor who could smile and look good on camera, who went to a no name college, and was known as a rancher not an intellectual. His persona was of a guy out riding horses or clearing brush rather than spending long hours in his personal library reading. Some questioned whether he read much at all. Not a really smart guy like Jimmy Carter or the reporters and pundits who wrote about Reagan's manifest intellectual weaknesses. Nor was Reagan Ivy League, with a pedigree like George H. W. Bush (son of Connecticut Senator Prescott Bush). Shoot, Reagan wasn't even top tier in the Hollywood set.

Parker omits these facts about Reagan because they weigh against her analysis. To sort of smooth over the manifest Reagan common man appeal, Parker intimates that Reagan was a big tent Republican. Heh. Gerald Ford might dispute that since Reagan ran against Ford in the 1976 Republican presidential primary on the basis that Ford wasn't conservative enough. Big tent people don't usually challenge their own party's sitting president.

But Parker isn't satisfied with swiping at non-candidates like Palin and painting Reagan as "big tent" and, one assumes, different from Sarah Palin, in being pro-elitist and pro-intellectual. Parker takes a swipe at people who were Bill Buckley's friends.
"Republicans aren’t really stupid, of course, and Begala acknowledges this. But, as he also pointed out, the conservative brain trust once led by William F. Buckley has been supplanted by talk radio hosts who love to quote Buckley (and boast of his friendship) but who do not share the man’s pedigree or his nimble mind."
The intimation is that people who "boast" of being Buckley's friends couldn't really have been such because they don't have the same sparkling wit and intellectual class as Buckley himself. Of course, that would mean that Buckley had almost no friends since few were his intellectual equals.

The most prominent talk show host who has mentioned his friendship with Bill Buckley is Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh from time to time talks about Buckley's friendship, encouragement and kindness in welcoming Limbaugh to the conservative circle when Limbaugh was starting his rise. (Buckley even interviewed Limbaugh on Firing Line. See below.)

To imply that someone else's talk about a personal friendship is meaningless with no evidence other than that the friends have differences is not only anti-intellectual because no proof is given, it also betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of friendship.

Here's what National Review editor Rich Lowry had to say in March of 2008 about Bill Buckley's friendship with Rush Limbaugh when an unfavorable comparison was made between Buckley and Limbaugh:
"Let me stick up for Rush, though. Because Bill adored Rush. And you know, Rush is not a public intellectual. That’s not what he’s doing. And no one would have ever for all Bill Buckley’s talents, 20 million people would never have listened to Bill Buckley on the radio for three hours every day. So, it’s an unfair comparison." (about the 30:50 mark in the discussion)
Ms. Parker seems to have missed one of the main points of friendship--to admire differences while basking in the points of similar interest that brought you together.

One can only feel sorry for a professional political pundit who not only gets it wrong that Reagan stood for expanding the Republican Party to include elites and intellectuals (rather than calling in the conservative, non-elite, non-intellectual working class Reagan Democrats), but who scoffs at other people's friendships just because one of the parties isn't of a "pedigree" that Parker personally likes. Sad.

Oh, and it goes without saying that Sarah Palin having been elected the first woman and youngest governor in Alaska's history (the forced dump of 25,000 of her e-mails showing her as an "effective", "attentive", "hands on", "decisive", governor in areas "ranging from small issues to very large issues"); having effectively fought political corruption and quit a well-paying public job to do so; having authored two best sellers (one vying for the best selling political memoir of all time); having been the first woman Republican vice presidential nominee; having had opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal (and here and just this week here), New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post (and here), and National Review (and here); and having negotiated the largest private sector infrastructure project in North American history has arguably done more intellectual and practical good work than Ms. Parker. Though one must admit that Ms. Parker had a longer running TV series than Governor Palin though with only a fraction of the weekly viewers Palin garnered.

UPDATE: Another good take by J. Robert Smith: Kathleen Parker's Trash Talk

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy the News Media?

If this survey is right maybe there should be Occupy the News Media rallies.

Big business gets a higher favorable rating from the public than the news media. In fact the Public Affairs Council finds that only the federal government gets lower marks than the news media.
"A new survey finds that the federal government is the only sector that people like less than the media. The survey was about how Americans view big businesses. Fifty-four percent viewed news media somewhat or very favorably, while 44 percent said their overall opinion of news media was not favorable."
Here's the breakdown:

Is the Oregonian building next after Chapman and Lownsdale Square parks?

Monday, November 14, 2011

5 Heroes Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan November 5 to November 13, 2011

November 5 - Lance Cpl. Nickolas A. Daniels, 25, of Elmwood Park, Ill., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

November 9 - Pfc. Cody R. Norris, 20, of Houston, Texas, died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.

November 11 - Pfc. Theodore B. Rushing, 25, of Longwood, Fla. died in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

November 12 - Spc. Calvin M. Pereda, 21, of Fayetteville, N.C., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device while on dismounted patrol.

November 13 - Sgt. 1st Class Johnathan B. McCain, 38, of Apache Junction, Ariz., died in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device while on mounted patrol.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anchorage Daily News Loses Almost 30% of Subscribers in Three Years

In the three years since Sarah Palin was named the Vice Presidential nominee of the Republican party the Anchorage Daily News has lost 29.23% of its subscribers.

Audit Bureau of Circulations reports Anchorage Daily News paid circulation at 43,794 as of September 30, 2011 (though the newspaper's website posting today notes "yesterday 159,853 visitors viewed"). The Anchorage Daily News circulation for September 30, 2008, the month when Palin officially become the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, was 61,882. In three years more than 18,000 subscribers left.

The September 1, 2008, Anchorage Daily News ran a nice "isn't this great" lower front page story (with photo) on Palin's parents dealing with the upheaval in their life because of her nomination ("World's Gaze Falls on Wasilla, Palin's Folks: Amid Swarm, Chuck Heath says: 'I just hate not being hospitable'). It even ran a quarter column top of the front page Associated Press article about her qualifications ("Is Palin Qualified? Just Look Says GOP: REASONS: Proximity to Russia, Mayoral Experience Cited"). Imagine that. Proximity to Russia was accepted by Associated Press as a real qualification pre-Charlie Gibson.

The next day saw the beginning of the Anchorage Daily News' growing disenchantment with all things Palin. On September 2 there was a front page banner headline running the full width of the paper on Bristol's pregnancy ("Pregnancy Steals Spotlight") with a back page story on the difficulty of finding Alaskans who could substantiate her vetting ("VETTING: It's tough to find Alaskans who were queried about Palin").

From then on the Anchorage Daily News began to take a much tougher stance (sometimes almost childishly so) on Palin. The iciness was well expressed by Anchorage Daily News former editorial page editor Michael Carey less than a month after Palin's nomination.
"Sarah Palin may be making new friends as she campaigns the nation, but at home, she's making new enemies. She better get elected vice president. If she returns to Alaska as governor, the reception will be frosty -- and not because winter has arrived.

"In the last month, Palin has become something inconceivable during her first two years as the state's chief executive: A polarizing figure rapidly emptying the storehouse of good will she accumulated."
[emphasis added]
The Anchorage Daily News' three year circulation drop rate is twice as bad as that of, for example, the Oregonian (circulation down 14.31% in three years).

Maybe Alaskan readers noticed the Anchorage Daily News growing more and more "frosty" in its unfairness toward Palin. Something to think about anyway.

The GOP Smart Set vs. Experience

I'm not a Rick Perry supporter. Actually, since my candidate, Governor Sarah Palin, decided not to run in 2012, I'm keeping my powder dry. I need to see more before jumping in to support a specific candidate.

But, all the GOP Smart Set ruckus over Rick Perry's debate flub and difficulty in the debates and Perry's statement that he's not running for Debater-in-Chief but as someone who has created jobs reminded me of one of my favorite films, Buster Keaton's The General.

The scenes having to do with a bent rail give Keaton's commentary on the importance for solving a problem of actually having done something previously in the problem area.

Because the clip would be too long, I've edited out the scenes which separate the ones included. The scenes edited out set up background for the coming final battle. But, since they also let the viewer know that the struggle with the rail is a longer, more involved process than the few scenes shown, the humor of the "smart set" being completely befuddled is somewhat dimmed in this shortened version. I've added subtitles to give context and the idea of passing time. The great Keaton didn't need subtitles.

Palin: Fire Eric Holder

Sarah Palin:
"And where is President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder in all of this? When did he first know about the [Fast and Furious] operation? In his testimony to the House Oversight Committee on May 3, 2011, Holder stated, 'I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.' But the DOJ’s own documents prove that Holder had been receiving briefings on Fast and Furious for nearly a year before that date. In other words, our government’s top law enforcement official, Eric Holder, lied to the American public. He finally admitted this week to the Senate Judiciary Committee, 'In my testimony before the House committee [on May 3], I did say a few weeks. I probably could have said a couple of months. What I said about a few weeks was inaccurate based on what happened.'

"When the nation’s highest law enforcement official lies to the American people, he must go.

"And if he claims that he didn’t lie, then how else do we explain this situation? He’s either lying or he’s so grossly incompetent and lazy that he didn’t read important life and death briefings from his deputy attorney general and didn’t know about this deadly operation run by people under him. So, which is it? Incompetent, lazy, or lying? No matter which explanation fits, he needs to go."
Quite distinct from Holder and his boss, President Obama, is the "effective", "attentive", "hands on", "decisive" governor in areas "ranging from small issues to very large issues" Palin was revealed to be in the forced dump of 25,000 of her gubernatorial e-mails last June.

She's still my number 1! Just moved up to 2016.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mark Steyn and the Right Kind of Hits

If you want to increase your blog traffic, just have Mark Steyn link to you.

Day before yesterday and the facebook page linked to my review of Mark's After America. So far I've gotten over 1,200 extra hits and still going strong.

The best part of it is that Mark and his staff apparently liked the review. Nice, coming from a man I admire.

Victor Davis Hanson on Labyrinths and Herman Cain

Again, Victor Davis Hanson sets current events and stories in historical, even mythic, perspective.
"'Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here,' is the placard that Herman Cain must have read last week when he descended into the Sexual Harassment Inferno, from which he has not yet emerged."
Dr. Hanson comes right to the point on the absurdity of modern thinking.
"Stranger still, this metamorphosis of liberated women into Victorian-era puritans was accompanied by yet another wild card: Sex was now everywhere. The old probity was gone, whether through blonde bombshells with low-cut dresses on the news, raunchy language and acts on reality TV, or soft porn on mainstream cable packages. Today’s mall is a showcase of trashy overt sexuality among even preteens. It was almost as if the more sexual suggestiveness became ubiquitous, the more we reverted to New England puritanism. The office coffee break with colleagues was now more explicit and yet more prudish than its 1950s counterpart — in the sense that almost no topic was taboo, and yet any careless flippant sexual remark could boomerang as a career-ending offense."
Then there is the blatant hypocrisy.
"Both supporters and detractors agree that Cain should know by now that alleged misdemeanors by Republican frontrunners are always more serious than known transgressions by Democratic rivals. All true — and all irrelevant in the age of liberal indulgence and exemption where noble ends sometimes must justify tawdry means. Yet it is not quite clear whether Cain is supposedly guilty of attempted, fantasized, or foiled womanizing of the sort that Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich have confessed to actualizing. Or is he just a little creepy, in the manner of Al Gore and his masseuses, or the late Strom Thurmond and his wandering hands, or the late Ted Kennedy and his late-hours frolicking?

"Note there is no exemption for Cain even though the charges date from over a decade ago . . . .

"Cain, who has not as of yet actually been accused of engaging in sexual intercourse with a female subordinate, finds himself in the 'sexual harassment' labyrinth, from which there are few paths out in the present era."
Not to mention the lack of the normal mention of white women's supposed inordinate fears of black men--which even Barack Obama referred to in speaking of his grandmother as a "typical white person" and a woman "who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street."
"Oddly, so far no African American spokesman has stepped forward to 'contextualize' the charges in the long history of sexually charged stereotyped slurs about supposedly undisciplined ascendant black males."
Dr. Hanson amplifies the disjunction in media treatment of Herman Cain's race.
"Yet Cain also wins greater scrutiny, not exemption, because he is black — or at least a certain sort of black. In addition to his conservatism, his voice, bearing, grammar, and diction, even his showy black cowboy hat, bother liberals in much the same way that Joe Frazier was not Muhammad Ali and Clarence Thomas was not Anita Hill. Black authenticity, as defined by Southern mannerisms and darker complexion, amplified by conservatism or traditionalism, earns liberal unease. Rarely has anyone been so candid in confessing just that unease as were Senators Harry Reid and Joe Biden in their backhanded praise of Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign. I think Reid ('light-skinned,' 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one') and Biden ('I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy') both were trying to say at the time that Barack Obama did not look or sound like someone analogous to Herman Cain."
Cain is not the only one in the labyrinth. The media with its pretzel-like moral and reasoning standards have pushed American society into its own labyrinth. How to get out?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Bill Buckley Was Not the Pompous Ass Neal Freeman Channels

WFB and Edward Teller
Neal B. Freeman, a long time friend of William F. Buckley, Jr., thinks he knows how Buckley would have reacted to current GOP candidates. Freeman's opinion piece praises Buckley as courageous (which he was), but errors significantly by channeling a caricature of Bill Buckley instead of Buckley himself.
"How then would Bill Buckley have addressed today's question: 'Buckley's Legacy: How Would the Patron Saint Turbo-Charge Conservatism?'"
. . .
"First, he would have summoned the Republican stalwarts for catechismic instruction."
Huh? Buckley didn't do this in any of the presidential elections during his lifetime. But, that doesn't deter Freeman, who wraps his political dreaming in personal anecdotes and Buckleyesque words and phrases such as "synecdoche" and "ontologically speaking".

I was not a close friend of Bill Buckley as Freeman was. But I did have a 30+ year friendship with him. The last time I saw him was when I was visiting New York in the late 1990's, and he invited me to lunch. On the basis of my own friendship with Bill Buckley I find it odd that Freeman would assert:
"It was a humbling experience to be edited by Bill Buckley. I still have the original of the first editorial I wrote for National Review. We used Royal typewriters in those days to pound out copy on yellow foolscap: Here and there, one of my black words peeks through a blaze of red ballpoint ink. It was his conceit that if you couldn't write, you couldn't think; and that if you couldn't think, you were unlikely to prosper in his friendship."
[emphasis added]
Freeman seems to confuse Bill Buckley as a boss with Bill Buckley as a friend. Never in our three decades of correspondence did Bill ever take me to task for my written prose. I don't think that is due to the fact that I'm superior to Freeman in either thinking or writing, but perhaps I am in understanding what friendship meant to Bill Buckley.*

Bill Buckley did not normally critique his guests and friends. His personal interaction was unlike the pattern of his professional life as a polemicist and debater. Even in that he was a joy to watch because he skewered the opinion not the person and often used a kind of backhanded wit not a sledge hammer-type attack or meanness.

Bill was not the type of person who would have called current Republican presidential candidates on the carpet and presumed to lecture them on their errors. He had too much respect for the kind of courage and substance it takes to become a prominent conservative political figure and endure the kind of anti-conservative blows those in the media deliver daily. Though Bill Buckley might have talked about questions he had about Mitt Romney's economic plan, he would not have:
"bored in on what he perceived to be a lacuna: namely, the widespread presumption that Mr. Romney can fix our broken economy with an economic plan that is manifestly inadequate to the challenge."
Neither would Bill have:
"segued quickly into a mini-lecture on why contemporary international affairs call for a somewhat less, uhhhh, parochial foreign policy than [Governor Perry] has heretofore advanced"
. . .
"concluded, under the unbending terms of the Buckley Rule—-which, as you will recall, holds that conservatives should support for election the rightward-most viable candidate—-that Mrs. Palin was sufficiently rightward but insufficiently viable."
. . .
"counseled [Speaker Gingrich] to add to his senior staff an editor with plenipotentiary powers"
. . .
"spent his time much as he had with Mrs. Palin, in a quiet inventory of the intellectual warehouse. What does Mr. Cain know? What has he read? Is he . . . up to it?"
In other words, in personal interaction, Bill Buckley was fun, funny, sparkling and made you feel like you were the center of his universe. He was not the grilling, pompous ass, always out to lecture that Freeman channels.

How do I know this aside from the fact that personally Bill was gracious and caring and never in his lifetime called in presidential candidates to lecture them on their flaws?

Take Freeman's application of the "Buckley Rule" which says that "conservatives should support for election the rightward-most viable candidate". Bill Buckley supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and never, so far as I know, rescinded that support after the Goldwater electoral debacle. If Goldwater was a "viable" candidate, gaining only 39% of the votes cast, "viable" is a fairly low standard--one which the candidates Freeman's Buckley "interviewed" have pretty much met.

Then, of course, there was Bill Buckley's own run for mayor done not for the purpose of winning but of forwarding the conservative case against the liberal Republicanism of John Lindsay. Apparently, as in his support for Goldwater, a viability that gets the candidate within a few percentage points of winning, was not a key factor in his own decision to run.

Again, I say, Bill Buckley was not the condescending, pompous ass that Freeman paints. He was warm, witty, charming and really cared about the people he talked to. That's why he had so many friends of quite different political views, religious views and social class.

*Bill Buckley was the kind of friend who, when I wrote that I was trying to get into a graduate program at a picky school, asked if there was any way he could help. He ended up writing a recommendation for me and overstating my abilities: "I have met, and experienced intellectually, hundreds and hundreds of young people in the last twenty-five years, and [T D] Williams is among the two or three whose promise is in a class of its own." He continued noting my "formal credentials", "high intelligence", "fine character" and being "well read". That's the kind of encouragement and support that flowed out of Bill Buckley. Unfortunately, Freeman missed it in his portrait of Bill. I cherish as a material indication of Bill's friendship the carbon copy he sent me of that wonderful recommendation.