Dick Cheney’s book is bringing out all the characters we knew and loved from 2000-2008. Here’s Colin Powell, who is declining to endorse Obama’s reelction so early in the campaign.
Powell, the nation’s first African-American secretary of state, praised Obama’s leadership style in 2008 in endorsing him, saying shortly before the election that Obama “has a definite way of doing business that will serve us well.” He also said at the time that he didn’t think the GOP vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was “ready” to be president.
Leave aside the judgment of whether Obama’s “way of doing business” has, in fact, served us well; I guess anyone can misjudge character during an election cycle (and, let’s face it, it’s hard to argue that John McCain’s “way of doing business” was obviously better in 2008.
In the opening chapter of Applied Economics, economist Thomas Sowell decries our tendency to look only at the intended goals of public policy rather than its unintended consequences:
The point here is not simply that various policies may fail to achieve their purposes. The more fundamental point is that we need to know the actual characteristics of the process set in motion — and the incentives and constraints inherent in such characteristics — rather than judging these processes by their goals. Many of the much discussed “unintended consequences” of polices and programs would have been foreseeable from the outset if these processes had been analyzed in terms of the incentives and constraints they created, instead of in terms of the desirability of the goals they proclaimed. Once we start thinking in terms of the chain of events set in motion by particular policies — and following the chain of events beyond stage one — the world begins to look very different.
Liberals are famously guilty of this kind of short-sightedness. Health insurance mandates get more people insured, but overload the medical system when thousands of new customers try to get care; generous housing incentives during a boom cycle lead to massive foreclosure rates during a bust; price controls make products affordable in the short term, but destroy markets in the long term. The road to Hell is indeed, paved with good, liberal intentions.
But as Ricochteer Conor Friedersdorf argues over on the Atlantic, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform is a perfect example of how liberals aren’t the only culprits. While no one could possibly question Norquist’s goals, Friedersdorf offers a powerful argument against his chosen method of a no-new-taxes pledge:
What Norquist doesn’t understand or won’t admit is that deficit spending is worse than a tax increase, because you’ve got to pay for it eventually anyway, with interest. Meanwhile, you’ve created in the public mind the illusion that the level of government services they’re consuming is cheaper and less burdensome than is in fact the case. If you hold the line on taxes but not the deficit, you’re making big government more palatable.
Back in 1986, if taxes had been raised every time federal spending had increased, and voters knew that taxes would go up again every time new federal programs or spending was passed, the backlash against big government that we’re seeing now would’ve started a lot sooner, and been much more broad-based. Had that been the policy, it’s doubtful that George W. Bush would’ve passed Medicare Part D. Instead, the Baby Boomers have borrowed a bunch of money that my generation and my children’s generation is going to have to pay back. But their taxes didn’t go up. Thanks for that, Mr. Norquist. I’m not sure what to call it, but fiscal conservatism isn’t it.
I can’t find any way to disagree, though I’d be curious to hear what others on Ricochet think. Also, are there other examples of conservative stage one thinking?
Because of the seriousness of the content, senior Secret Service officials held a conference call Monday morning to discuss the posts, said a law enforcement official who requested anonymity because of the investigation into the matter.
A spokesman for the Secret Service, George Ogilvie, said, “We are investigating the matter and will be conducting appropriate follow-up.” The White House declined to comment.
Yes, this plainly involves some sort of actual threat to the president so the Secret Service needs to be very involved in this investigation. I feel this is an appropriate use of my tax dollars.
In the past I’ve pointed out that we should factor in a “margin of random” when interpreting polls. Today, Gallup brings us a poll that advises even more caution when looking at poll numbers. In summary, when asked what percentage of Americans are gay or lesbian, 35% responded “More than 25%.” A majority of Americans believe that at least 20% of Americans are gay or lesbian.
One can speculate for hours about the reason why people answered this way. Perhaps it’s a bunch of right-wingers believing they’re Lot, living on the outskirts of Soddom. Perhaps it’s gays who live in gay neighborhoods? Perhaps it’s straights who live near gay neighborhoods? Perhaps it’s casual observers of politics who don’t give a flying frack but, having seen the amount of national discussion of gay issues over the last decade, simply presume there’s got to be a lot of them or else we wouldn’t talk about such a yucky topic so often?
At any rate, regardless of your social circle or political views, it doesn’t take a moment’s thought regarding the demographic consequences of homosexuality to realize that there can’t be many of them. If more than a quarter of our population simply didn’t reproduce, that would be something quite noticeable.
But people don’t think before they answer polls. Only 4% of people got the answer right (NB: I would have been one of those), and a vast majority gave answers that were wildly wrong. So the next time you get upset about a poll showing that 75% of Republicans believe that Obama is a Hindu who was born on Jupiter, or 60% of Democrats believe that George Bush used items he ordered from the Acme catalog to blow up the Twin Towers, or that 99% of Americans believe that God created the universe in a single day because the Biblical seven days seems awfully slow for an omnipotent being, remember that 1 out of 3 people believe that more than 1 out of 4 people are gay.
If you get offended by Napoleon Dynamite, you really ought to do some self-reflection on why you choose to take offense so easily. And while you’re doing it, you ought to lock yourself in a small room and try really hard to not inflict your idiotic oversensitivity on your fellow citizens. And if you choose not to do that, and instead to use your own idiocy to reduce your fellow citizens’s enjoyment of life, you are a Bad Person.
I think it’s pretty weird that Donald Trump has jumped so completely into the birther movement. Trump’s no fool, but there’s a question of what he’s aiming to get out of it. Is he really interested in becoming president? This seems like an odd way of going about it; actual birthers (as opposed to people who tell pollsters that Obama’s a non-citizen Muslim as a means of expressing opposition) are a significant but not driving force in Republican politics. I can’t imagine their votes are enough to win the primary, and those who oppose birtherism generally do so quite vehemently.
But I’m also not convinced that Trump’s merely doing this as a publicity stunt. He’s Donald Trump – how could his profile get any higher? And aligning himself with a widely despised political faction is not likely to increase sales of his ties at Macy’s.
Whatever his intentions, he’s his own man and can do with his money as he sees fit. His actions here, though, seem likely to benefit Republicans without offering much in the way of downside. In the highly unlikely event his investigators find something, well that benefits the party in obvious ways (and is the sort of thing that actually should be made public). If they don’t, Trump has only a marginal connection to the Republican party, even less connection to the conservative movement, and thanks to his reputation this will be chalked up as just another publicity stunt without any connection to Republicans. Moreover, it will discourage other candidates from venturing into this field and allow them an easy out with birthers during the primary: “Look, this has been seriously investigated by a man with billions of dollars, and if he didn’t find anything I think that’s a strong indication that there’s nothing there.” Win, win.
Worst possible outcome? Trump’s investigators find something and he somehow rides that discovery to the presidency. We could do worse than a President Trump – see 2008, Election of – but it still seems like a pretty excreable idea to me. I doubt, however, that even outing Obama as a secret Muslim Kenyan would be enough to let Trump get the nomination.
John Thune. The man is unqualified to be president, having never led anything more involved than the South Dakota Republican Party (for two years). This article shows other evidence that Thune is a bad pick.
John Thune tells me that if he jumps into the 2012 presidential race, he will be in it to win it — no test-run for 2016, no show-horse spectacle. “The reason you do it is that you really believe that the future is now,” he says. “I believe that.”
OMG! Does he not realize that Obama’s “Winning The Future” motto is inane, nonsensical, and not to be emulated? Now, the future is now? But then what will it be in the future? I guess the obvious answer is “Then,” but if now is then, then then must be now. Non. Sense. I want a president who thinks clearly enough not to say crap like that.
“As Republican voters think about who they want to nominate, it really ought to come down to which candidate can defeat President Obama,” he says.
No, it ought to come down to who will be the best president. We’ve recently seen what happens when a party picks a nominee based on perceived strengths in the general election, and we can ask Presidents Kerry and McCain how that turned out.
Of course, Thune would have to win a primary first, and many of his past votes — he backed the Troubled Asset Relief Program and has carved out numerous earmarks for South Dakota — would come under scrutiny. . . . “My conservative credentials are probably not going to be satisfactory to this particular crowd or that particular crowd. But if you look at the totality of my record, you’ve got someone who is an economic, national security, and social conservative.”
Except when he’s not.
But here’s the number one reason this man shouldn’t be the nominee:
“There is an assumption that being from the Senate is a liability,” he continues. “I’m not going to overlook the fact that people hate Washington. But I also think, in this day and age, that people make their decisions very differently from how they did in the past. It is not always about who is up next or disqualifying someone because he happens to be from the Senate.”
He thinks senators make bad candidates because people don’t like the senate. The truth is that senators make bad candidates because they’re bad candidates and would make bad presidents (seee.g., Dole, Robert; Kerry, John; McCain, John; Obama, Barrack). Senators have no leadership experience, they’re blithering fools without responsibility or accountability, and their main political experience is dealing as equals with people who are exactly like themselves. Being an executive is about being accountable, holding others accountable, and telling people how to carry out your policies. Other than being homo sapiens on Planet Earth, senators have nothing in common with executives.
We can never thank Thune enough for ridding us of Tom Daschle, so what I say next I say out of love: Go back to South Dakota and get a real job, John. Call us back in 8 years when your economy is booming because of Gov. Thune’s excellent leadership.
Ray LaHood has got to be the LVP of this administration. Ann Althouse has a proper take down of this inanity. I’m embarassed that this man used to be (and may still claim to be) a Republican, and the sooner he’s bereft of all power and influence on American life, the better off every single person in this country will be.
So I didn’t have a great day yesterday. I tried to go to work and was stopped when parts of downtown Austin were literally impassable because the streets were sheets of smooth ice, and I was driving a rear-wheel drive pickup. After an hour of trying and failing to go work, I decided to go home and stop at the grocery store. I bought some stuff we needed for dinner and came home, but then I dropped the needed ingredients on my porch, breaking them (and it was black vinegar so it stank to high heaven). I went back to the grocery store, picked up some more vinegar and some fruit, and the total came to $6.66. The cashier – who had a long scraggly beard and long unkempt hair; in other words, he looked like a beast – suggested that today was my lucky day and I should buy some lottery tickets. I have never in my life bought lottery tickets, but for some reason the cashier’s words made sense. I stopped off at a gas station to buy tickets.
Actually, I failed to buy the tickets, because they wouldn’t let me buy lottery tickets with a debit card. But later in the day I somehow acquired American currency and bought some lottery tickets at a different gas station. And the drawing was today. Guess what: Read the rest of this entry »
Governor Moonbeam today: Egyptian protests show us the significance of allowing people to vote, so Republicans should allow a state referendum on tax increases. Because the people have a right to vote.
This sort of crap really pisses me off. Really, there are numerous reasons why it’s offensive, not the least is that most of the “things have changed” crap fails on its own terms.
“Bob, when you and I grew up, we grew up listening to essentially three major news outlets: NBC, ABC, and of course, CBS. We listened to people like Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid, and Huntley-Brinkley, and they saw their job as to inform us of the facts and we would make a conclusion,” Hoyer said. “Far too many broadcasts now and so many outlets have the intent of inciting, and inciting people to opposition, to anger, to thinking the other side is less than moral. And I think that is a context in which somebody who is mentally unbalanced can somehow feel justified in taking this kind of action. And I think we need to all take cognizance of that and be aware that what we say can, in fact, have consequences.”
So our politics used to be less violent because we had different journalists, eh Steny? Well Walter Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News from 1962-1981. During that time, we had a president murdered, we had another president (Ford) who was almost shot on two occasions, and we had another president who was shot less than three weeks after Cronkite stopped anchoring the news. So of the six presidents during Cronkite’s tenure, 50% were or were very nearly assassinated.
Since the networks’ monopoly on television news was busted, we’ve had zero presidents shot. Zero.
But political violence is due to FoxNews. At least that’s what Leon Czolgosz says.
If you’re a fan of reasonableness and common sense, whatever you do, do not read news stories about the death penalty in America.
The notion that executions might be delayed because the drugs used in the execution are expired is bonkers. The phrase bat-shit crazy also applies. If Camus were to rewrite The Stranger today, he would work in this plot twist to provide additional confusion for the protagonist.
There comes a point in every absurd story where an objectively idiotic event seems perfectly reasonable because of absurd situation created by previous idiotic events. We have long sought to make the death of murders more humane, and in doing so we have abandoned hanging and shooting, both of which, when done properly, are perfectly humane, immediate, and painless ways to kill people.
Now, in an advancement for humanism, we kill our murderers in much the same way that we put our cancerous dogs out of their misery. This has resulted, more times than anyone cares to think about, in prison guards fumbling around with a needle to find a vein, the occasional “blowout” (where the needle pops out and poisonous drugs spray around the room), and condemned inmates gasping for breath and apparently being in excruciating pain because – *shock and amazement* – drugs don’t work the same on everyone.
Finally, we’re at the point where we’re having problems procuring a particular drug and our current stockpile is expiring. Of all the possible ways of killing a man, our legally sanctioned method of execution is one that can be foiled by hardened arteries or the expiration of ingredients. It’s taken quite a bit of work, but I think, at long last, we’ve reached a marginally more absurd situation than the electric chairs of a century ago.
This article, from some New York-based publication, is sheer enjoyment from start to finish.
Turns out, lots of Congresscritters who lost feel bad about it, and some are confused about why they lost. But if you’re concerned that the Democrats are going to learn any lessons from defeat, or even believe that they did something wrong, you can rest at ease.
Denial and bargaining are behind them, and some members who lost seem to have arrived at a shaky acceptance, shaped by their sense that the election was not about them.
I’m glad that they’ve stopped denying that “the election was not about them.” If there’s one thing that truly shows they’re moving along in the grief process, it’s the shifting of blame away from themselves.
“I don’t think the election had very much to do with me, and I don’t think it had much to do with my opponent,” said Representative Rick Boucher, a Democrat who had served Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District since 1983. “That frustration and anger and desire to send a message transcended the knowledge my constituents had of my work in the district.”
Yes, Democrats, your stupid constituents are to blame for this. Your ignorant, stupid constituents. I think lots of the remaining Democrats need to start pre-explaining their 2012 losses by calling their constituents ignorant before the election, rather than waiting until afterward when it just looks like rationalization.
Mr. Oberstar, who was tossed out with several state legislators from his area, said he was no match for the “upfeed” from the powerful Republican ground game that moved against him. “I expected to leave at some point, that I’d make that decision in due course,” he said. “I’m not angry; I’m disappointed.”
Is there any greater demonstration of our governing class’s sense of entitlement than for a Congresscritter, who faces an election every two years, to presume that he controls how long he’ll stay in Congress?
But my favorite comes from Mike Castle. Now if you’ll jump in the Wayback Machine with me, we’ll revisit 2006 and 2008. After (and even before) those elections, Republicans actually mouthed words that purported to show they had learned a lesson. Phrases like, “We’ve come unmoored from our principles,” or “We were elected to change Washington, but Washington changed us” were rampant, even from elected Republicans who stayed in office. There was a palpable sense from the party that understood they had done something wrong.
In hindsight, there are not many who better represents what Republicans did wrong than Mike Castle. His one saving grace (morally speaking) is that he never had any of the conservative principles that others in the party lost. But he was the sort of big-spending, bring-home-the-bacon Republican who we were blaming for our losses over the last two elections.
He ponders daily, he said, which is preferable: to falter in a tight race with a Democratic opponent, or to have lost in the primary, as he did, to the inexperienced Tea Party candidate who never had a shot in the general election.
“My wife argues it’s almost better to lose the way we did because it all seems so irrational,” he said. “But you lose, you lose. I wish I could say one way was fun. They’re both pretty bad.”
Can you think of a better example of someone just refusing to accept any personal responsibility? He lost to an “inexperienced . . . candidated who never had a shot in the general election,” and there’s absolutely no indication here that he thinks he had anything to do with the loss. O’Donnell’s inexperience and unelectability are here used to show how irrational the voters were, not to show how badly Castle failed.
It just up and happened. Had nothing to do with him not adequately representing Delaware Republicans, had nothing to do with him being a petty jackass (as proved by his refusal to campaign for O’Donnell), had nothing to do with him being part of our big spending problem.
Nope, it’s just “irrational.” Can’t understand it. Elections are as unpredictable as roulette wheels, and his number finally came up.
Good riddance. If I had to attribute our current problems to a single cause, it would be a lack of individual responsibility. Elected officials refuse to accept it, and voters refuse to force them to accept it. Show me a defeated Congressman who says “I lost because I failed to do my job properly,” and I’ll be sympathetic to that guy. As for the no talent ass-clowns quoted in this story, I hope they keep shedding those yummy, yummy tears.
P.S. Arlen Specter is going to be replaced by Pat Toomey. Not since Lincoln replaced Buchanan has a newly elected official been such a dramatic improvement over his predecessor.