Wednesday, November 26, 2008

History Moans

Michael Medved has written a history book, and his latest article is a plug for it. It does happen to be timely as it is apparently about the 10 great lies of American History. Lie Number One deals with our treatment of the Indians; I think he lets us off the hook a little to easily, but his argument at least is within the realm of history.

Lie number two is that our country was built on the backs of slaves.
While slavery represented an undeniable horror in our nation's early history, the slave population never exceeded 20% of the national total (amounting to 12% at the time of the Civil War). This means that at least 80% of the work force remained free laborers.

The claim that our forefathers built America "on the backs of slaves" rests on the idiotic idea that involuntary servitude proved vastly more productive than free labor. In fact, the states dominated by the slave economy counted as the poorest, least developed in the union — providing the North with crushing economic superiority that brought victory in the War Between the States.

Of more than 20 million Africans taken from their homes in chains, at most 3% ever made their way to the territory of the United States (or the British colonies preceding our nation). Americans played no part in establishing the once-universal institution of slavery but played a leading, outsize role in bringing about its abolition.
1. 80% of the work force remaining free laborers only works if you assume the entire American Population to be laborers. I'm sure managing a plantation was a lot of work; but not sure you can equate the two.

2. The claim that America was built on the backs of slaves does not rest on the theory that slaves are more efficient than free workers.

3. The southern states were underdeveloped technologically, but the northern states mills and factories were fed by raw materials extracted, in large part, by slaves picking cotton. The American Economy grew, as a whole, because of cheap materials, and slavery played a big part in keeping those materials cheap, before technological innovation made them less profitable.

4. The American South fought to preserve slavery while the North fought to preserve the Union. The only reason the Union played an outsize role in ending slavery is that we had played an outsize roll in preserving and expanding slavery; we had the most slaves. Once we got rid of slavery (during a bloody war in which Virginians, Georgians, Alabamans, Mississpians and others fought for the right to own human beings), well, our share of slavery had grown so large, and other civilized nations had abandoned the practice, that it was a significant drop in world slavery.

Anyway, just one of those things that gets under my skin. Michael Medved is a Conservative Pundit so his history is meant to prove his ideological points, not to actually determine what actually happened.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Words of Wisdom

Steve Chapman's latest article considers the current Republican plan of attacking Obama as a socialist at every opportunity.
In the radioactive atmosphere of modern partisan politics, no one puts much value on verbal precision. So it's safe to say that over the next four years, the 44th president will come to think his name is Socialist Obama, as critics on the right abandon analysis in favor of invective.

That is a mistake -- as McCain's losing campaign confirms. Accusing Obama of socialism is unwise for three reasons: 1) It's not true, and 2) it makes the accuser sound like an idiot, and 3) it distracts from Obama's true inclinations, which are worrisome enough.
I tend to agree; but I'm not sure it actually makes them sound like idiots. Bill Clinton was a mainstream center left politician who conservatives painted as the second coming of Che Guevara. Conservatives didn't pay much of a price for those distortions, and I doubt they will here either.

The worrying true inclinations, incidentally, are Obamas theory that Government can be used to fix some problems.

Friday, November 21, 2008


David Brooks is upset that our next president is going to be staffed by smart guys.
Even more than past administrations, this will be a valedictocracy — rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes. If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed.

Already the culture of the Obama administration is coming into focus. Its members are twice as smart as the poor reporters who have to cover them, three times if you include the columnists.
Well we just got through 8 years of Dumb-guy you want to have a beer with rule; maybe this will be slightly more stable and less of a hassle than that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Team of Rivals

Good article over at the New York Times on the possibility of Barack Obama bringing Hillary Clinton into his cabinet. There are a lot of comparisons to Lincoln's cabinet, but perhaps Lincoln's cabinet wasn't as great as it we are told it is.

I would say bringing your competitors into your cabinet is probably a good way of neutralizing them, and I would guess that is what Obama is trying to do here. Not that Clinton wouldn't make a good Secretary of State, but I think Obama also wants her on his side.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Time for Healing

Both Michael Medved and Rush Limbaugh have taken on the thorny issue of what Republicans should do in the wake of their recent electoral loss. And they both agree that attacking Obama excessively is a mistake. Limbaugh is the more pragmatic of the two, pointing out that attacking Obama just didn't work.
He's got everybody in the country enough behind him for all of the mythological reasons, for all of the public image reasons, the historical reasons and right now people don't want to hear anything bad about Barack Obama. They just don't want to hear it and if they do they're not going to believe it and they're going to resent anybody who runs around talking about Obama. He's going to have to do something first that illustrates that the criticism that we have mounted up 'til now is accurate. You know, we talk about Reagan-ism. We talk about social-ism, collective-ism, commun-ism. Obama-ism is the way to go after this.

. . . I think for however long is necessary 'til the bloom goes off the Obama rose -- 'cause it at some point is going to and this whole image thing will give way at some point to political reality, and until that happens -- personal criticism, or not even personal, but attacking Obama's ideas by attacking him is not going to fly.
I've bolded the key words; Limbaugh encourages laying off the personal attacks until such time as people are a little less enamored of Obama, then back to the personal attacks.

Medved largely agrees with Limbaugh, but, in his latest article, shows a bit more philosophical insight.
The angry negativity also helps the GOP avoid the painful soul-searching and re-tooling of the conservative message that faces any viable party after a bitter, sweeping defeat—and that's another reason to postpone the Obama attacks. Focusing on what's wrong with the Democrats allows us to avoid facing what's wrong with us, and figuring out why the public rejected our message in both 2006 and 2008. Trashing our opponents helps us to dodge the blame for public disillusionment with the Republican Party itself– blame that extends well beyond McCain (or Palin) and should rightly include some of the same commentators most eager to return to the partisan fray.
I wonder what commentators Medved is talking about who are eager to return to the partisan fray?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Insanely Hypocritical Article by David Limbaugh

Not that it isn't always amusing to watch a champion of George W. Bush talk about defending the constitution, but his latest article takes the cake.
Traditionalists see themselves as guardians of our unique Constitution, which secures liberty as a byproduct of pitting levels and branches of government against one another.

They believe that unless we rededicate ourselves, intellectually and emotionally, to our founding ideal of individual liberty -- as opposed to succumbing to the insidious, intoxicating, cowardly promise of government-provided security at all levels of our existence -- we can kiss liberty -- and the United States of America as we have known it -- goodbye.
First of all, does Mr. Limbaugh remember the theory of the Unitary Executive? The idea put forth by Dick Cheney and others that stated that President can do what he likes without regard to the other branches of government? That doesn't sound like pitting branches of Government against one another, does it?

When Republicans ruled the roost they didn't see any reason for checks and balances; but now that they are faced with President Obama, well, they are back to being constitutionalists.

And then his criticism of Liberals for wanting to trade Liberty for Security? Does he remember the suspension of Habeas corpus? The monitoring of phone calls and library books? But again I suppose the devil is in the details; Limbaugh has no problem with trading other people's liberty for his security. What he objects to is trading his liberty to spend his money as he will for security of people who don't deserve help.

Why did McCain Lose?

I've missed out on the opportunity to comment on a lot of Conservative Post-Mortems of the election but there are still a few being written, including Carol Platt Liebau's latest article. In it she gives four reasons, the Media, Campaign Finance Reform, Latinos and McCain. Yep, John McCain must share a portion of the blame for his campaigns failure.
For almost his entire Senate career, John McCain prided himself on his status as a “maverick.” In doing so, however, he alienated a good number of regular Republicans who would have contributed more and worked harder to elect a candidate about whom they were more enthused.
Obviously the key element in any conservative post-mortem is to remind readers that Conservatism didn't lose. Conservatism is the best policy and the American people really love Conservatism. So once you absolve Conservatism, well, you have to find something else to blame the movements failures on, and the culprit is usually the media or insufficient conservatism.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Base vs. the Extremists

Distinguishing between the two is going to be a tough choice for Republicans over the next few years. Are the Base all Ann Coulter reading, Rush Limbaugh listening to ideologues who are hell bent on crushing Liberals and Moderates? Or are those who want to see the politics of perpetual belligerence continued and expanded a minority that can be safely ignored?

The key figure in this debate is Sarah Palin. Regardless of how unqualified and incurious she looked to the rest of us, Limbaugh Conservatives clearly love her. The question is are the Limbaugh Conservatives enough to win elections with? I don't know.

I'm not sure American's Republican Governors are sure either; check out this endorsement recorded in Byron York's recent article on the meeting.
“I think Gov. Palin is an extremely talented person, and she’s going to be one of the key voices of the party, for Republicans, for a long time to come,” Pawlenty (Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota) answered. “All I can say is that John McCain made very clear that one of his key criteria for selecting a VP running mate was that that person was ready to be president on day one. So in his judgment, she met that criteria, and he felt strongly about that, and so we’ll have to defer to his judgment and that process.”

It wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, and none of the others at the table — Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former eBay CEO and top McCain aide Meg Whitman, and former OMB chief Rob Portman — said specifically that they would have been comfortable with Palin as president.

But everyone here knows how she energized a Republican base that had otherwise been lukewarm to John McCain.
I don't know, but I'm starting to suspect that Sarah Palin is going to stay on stage as long as she can; and if that parlays into a run in 2012, well, I'm sure she'd be happy with that.

Whether or not a Palin candidacy would be good for the Republican Party or no, well, I tend to lean towards no.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Something I'm Already Tired Of

This will peak around inauguration day, but it's going on right now; the tendency for conservatives to paint liberal enthusiasm for Barack Obama as some sort of mental disorder. You see it in Mark Hemingway's latest article, in which he considers that Ambrose Bierce wouldn't approve of Liberal enthusiastic vocabulary.
First there was Obamamania. And the media declared it good. Now that the senator from Illinois is our president-elect, we have to ask the question: What comes after Obamamania? And we don’t mean what does he stand for. That would require responsible, objective journalism.

No, the real question is: What other neologisms await the American public in the upcoming Obama administration?
I think it's hilarious that Conservatives don't know enough about pretty much every liberal candidate that comes around. What they mean, of course, is that the Media isn't spending enough time investigating our slanders of Obama's character.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Worth Considering

I kind of get where Glenn Greenwald is coming from here, but I'm not completely sold. What do you think?
Instead, his belief is that Bush officials should be protected from DOJ proceedings even if they committed crimes. And his reason for that is as petty and vapid as it is corrupt: namely, it is more important to have post-partisan harmony in our political class than it is to hold Presidents and other high officials accountable when they break the law.

How is this anything other than a full-scale exemption issued to political leaders to break our laws? There's nothing unique about circumstances now. New Presidents are always going to have Very Important Things to do. And investigations and prosecutions of past administration officials are always going to be politically divisive. By definition, investigations of past criminality are going to be "distractions" from the Important Work that political leaders must attend to. They're always going to be what Litt perversely refers to as "old battles." To argue that new administrations should refrain from investigating crimes that were committed by past administrations due to the need to avoid partisan division is to announce that the rule of law does not apply to our highest political leaders. It's just as simple as that.
Two points - Obama is not going to do what Mr. Greenwald wants here. He's said as much and his disappointing vote on Telecom Amnesty kind of gives a hint as to where his head is. So I'm not sure there is much to be gained by focusing on getting something we aren't going to get.

Secondly, I agree that this is probably something that should happen, but it has certainly not been our policy to do so in the past. Investigating and prosecuting the previous administration would be a break from our traditions. Perhaps a warranted break given the depth of the Bush Administrations corruption, but still a break.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Worth Watching

From Salon's War Room.

Politics and Immigration

Michelle Malkin has a source which states that the Bush Administration refrained from deporting Barack Obama's aunt during the few days before the election.
In other words, the Bush Department of Homeland Security determined that protecting Obama from the negative publicity surrounding a potential arrest of his illegal-alien aunt was more important to the general welfare of the country than tracking down untold numbers of deportation absconders who received an extra three-day pass last week.
Yeah, except that wouldn't they also be protecting themselves? I mean yeah the right wing would see Obama as the villain in this situation, but I'm not sure how mainstream America would see Obama's aunt getting flushed out by the media and rounded up by the Bush Administration. So it's just possible they were doing this to protect themselves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Different Point of View

Has Conservatism been repudiated by the recent election? I would answer no of course not. Conservatism is the Yin to Liberalism's yang and thus will never really go away. Now I wouldn't mind seeing some facets of current conservatism - specifically the Rush Limbaugh school of "you are either a conservative or you hate America" could go without costing us very much.

I suspect, however, that Deroy Murdock would very much like to preserve and expand Limbaugh Conservatism. Heck, reading his latest article, he'd like to get rid of most of his current crop of Republicans for being insufficiently conservative.
The GOP has been laid low, thanks to politicians who swapped their principles for power and lost both. As the chief electoral vehicle for conservative and free-market ideas, the Republican party cannot regain America’s confidence —nor should it — until the guilty have been cast into the nearest volcano.

Comrade George W. Bush has spearheaded the most aggressive federal expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As a delivery system for socialism, he has been the most effective Trojan Horse since that pine steed rolled into Troy.
Hmmmm. I'm not sure now is the ideal time for a witch hunt in the Republican Party. Although I suppose it is a good time from my point of view - the more divided the Republican Party can be the better.

I'm Back

For various reasons been low posting lately - mostly work related but not entirely. I intend to get back on the horse over the next couple of days and return to my normal posting schedule.

I do want to point to two items over at Salon. The first is from the invaluable Glenn Greenwald, in which he points out that Obama should definitely walk back some of the powers that George W. Bush has seized for the executive branch. And that he should respect the authority of the Congress, even if Congress does stuff he's not keen on.
. . . we have strayed indescribably far from the system of Government we were supposed to have. That we trust a particular President and believe he'll do good things, achieve good outcomes, with excessive power is no reason to be happy with that state of affairs. As is often the case, Democratic Congressional leaders seem far more content to submit to power than to exercise it. But we shouldn't treat the framework created by the Constitution as optional or waivable when it seems there are good things to be gained by doing so.
He's not wrong.

Also check out this bit of joy from Joe Conason over the death of Conservative/Republican triumphalism. Although triumphalism is likely to make a, well, triumphant return down the road.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Over at Townhall, they are pretty bummed out as you might expect. They also have the practice of posting articles that came in yesterday after the initial posting as articles for today. So there are a few articles exhorting conservatives to get out and vote against the scary scary Obama. Dennis Prager's article is pretty hyperbolic.
If Barack Obama wins and he is given a Democratic-controlled Congress, the United States will indeed be transformed.
And, as you might expect, not for the better. For example, Obama will apparently select judges who mostly agree with him.
Judges will be chosen based on their commitment to empathize with the downtrodden (Obamas own stated criterion for choosing judges), not based on their commitment to judging according to neutral rules that are blind to the individuals status in life.
Of course had McCain won, Prager would have been urging him to pick judges based on his revealed criteria - pro-corporate and pro life and anti privacy judges. And of course Obama will be bad for western civilization.
Judeo-Christian values, the founding values of America, will continue to recede in influence as America becomes more and more a secular-left country like those of Western European.
Speaking of western Europe, check out this paragraph over at Le Monde - we are all Americans again.

The truth is I don't think Prager believes his own rhetoric. I think he, and most mainline conservatives, know that Obama will be a liberal centrist, not this monstrous parody they've created. But once you've created a monster or demonized someone so throughly, well, it's hard today to go back and say "Well we were just saying that because of the election."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Few Predictions on Election Day

I think Obama will win it, but that's not my prediction. My predictions are about what happens if Obama wins.

First of all, much of the right wing will turn on John McCain and quick. The Hannity's and Limbaughs of the right wing have hated him for years, and you know it is sticking in their throats that he is their candidate. The way he has run his life (but not his campaign) is the antithesis of the way they want to deal with Democrats, as illustrated by a quote from Rush back when McCain wasn't the nominee.
Mr. McCain, Ronaldus Magnus did reach out to Democrats -- to defeat them!

. . . We view those people as threats to the American way of life, as we've always known it. We view liberals as a threat to the founding of this country. We view them as a threat to the future. We view them as a threat to the traditions and institutions that have defined this country's greatness. We view them as people who need to be defeated, not worked with.
So if McCain is defeated, Limbaugh will be shedding some tears for his country, but not for McCain.

Second, the election will prove, to Limbaugh Conservatives, that they should be more conservative and more aggressive. McCain's loss won't because of the unpopularity of the positions he's had to take, or the dwindling popularity of the Bush administration. It will instead be because he didn't define himself as a conservative strongly enough.

I don't really know what the Limbaugh Conservatives are going to do over Obama in the short term. In the long term he, like every other elected liberal, will be another Clinton, to be vilified and attacked constantly. But for the next week or so they might see some wisdom in letting the rhetoric cool a little, as the gap between how they are describing Obama and how he actually looks (and is) is pretty wide right now. That said, maybe they will jam down the gas pedal and attack him even more. Hard to know.

I have to say I'm looking forward to it though.

Monday, November 03, 2008

New Temporary Look

I am having some problems with the blog - but will have it looking better soon.