Friday, January 28, 2011

What, Me Worry?

According to Robert Gibbs on the live feed from the White House press room, as of 1:30 (Mountain Time) President Obama hasn't spoken to the leaders of any other countries about the situation in Egypt. 

I'm wondering if Hillary made any calls around 3 am...

Thursday, January 27, 2011


First, a little pop music history for you. Most of you are familiar with the work of David Bowie.  He has done some acting through the years, but he is of course best known for his music.  Aside from the music itself, there are some things that have distinguished his career, especially in his glory days. He has an unusual talent for self-promotion, and has been able to gather a large audience that will at least give a listen to whatever his latest musical phase might be.  Probably what most distinguishes him though has been his relentless pursuit of change in his musical styles and his image.  His records are always different than the ones before, sometimes very different. He also frequently revamps his appearance from year to year, to the point where it is a cliche by now to call him a "chameleon." Ideas about what has driven him in all this vary, but by following this strategy he has undeniably produced a large, diverse body of work, some of it very good.  

So there we have an example of one man's pursuit of "change."  Let's look at another.

The hero of this blog as a candidate somehow made his vacuous promises of  "hope and change" into a mantra for enough voters to sweep him to victory. Once in office he brought about a number of ill-advised changes, mainly in the form of massive spending and a bizarre foreign policy, to say nothing of healthcare "reform."  After two years of his administration, we now have continued high unemployment joined with various scary as hell economic threats looming on the horizon, including hyperinflation, the continued collapse of housing markets, and the coming bankruptcies of state and local governments.  The "hope" part of his presidential plank doesn't have much currency at this point, so apparently after the electoral rout by the Republicans in November, he and his advisors have decided to go with the "change" end of it for the time being.

For about the first month after the November elections Obama and his crowd were in a bit of a fog as to how to proceed, and they went from one misstep to another as they attempted to find an avenue of attack to reverse their electoral fortunes.  Somehow out of the aftermath of the murderous rampage in Tucson they've found a tactic on which they can all agree, which is to defame and marginalize anyone who disagrees with them as inflammatory or even inciting violence and murder.  In the last three weeks we've had a surge in employment among the speech police, to the point where I won't be surprised to see pending legislation somewhere banning martial imagery in political speech.

Obama's pose in all this has been "The Healer," quite a stretch for someone who only months ago was telling Latinos to "punish their enemies," and has advised his followers to "get in their faces" and "they bring a knife, we bring a gun."  Lately he's made a few noises about his strange new respect for Ronald Reagan, only to make a State of the Union speech that details his further plans for more, more, more and better expansions of the federal government and spending programs, including squandering untold amounts of money to blanket the country with high-speed railways, something so implausible it wouldn't even give a hobo a hard-on.

The White House has announced it will begin fundraising for the 2012 re-election bid in March or April, but to my eye this President has never stopped campaigning since he was elected.  I'd say that if he wants to bring about change, he could actually act like a serious President for once by putting the future of the country ahead of fulfilling his infantile, bankrupt leftist vision. If he did that, he might someday be able to retire with a record at least half as good as Ziggy Stardust or Heroes.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Clean Up Man

Darrell Issa is the new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and he's promised to use his power to take an in-depth look into what exactly the Obama Administration has been up to behind the scenes.  In an October blog post here, I mentioned Issa's stated intention to do this once the new Congress was in session, and I speculated about the extent to which the Obama-friendly media might go towards distracting attention from his investigations by focusing attention on Issa himself.

Not exactly an amazing prediction there, but it seems that it is beginning to come true only weeks after the turnover of power in the House.  In the latest New Yorker magazine, Ryan Lizza gives us a profile of a congressman with quite a few admirable qualities and accomplishments, and also a bit of a past. Earlier this week I listened to an interview of Lizza on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.  Hewitt spoke highly of Lizza's journalistic abilities and general fairness, and in the interview Lizza did seem to me to be reasonable enough.

It turns out that in his younger days and on the way to making millions selling car alarms, Issa and his juvenile delinquent older brother got themselves into a few situations involving cars that attracted police attention; and he played a little hardball with his early business associates, part of which may have involved showing off a pistol.  Probably the worst of it is a fire at his car alarm factory that may have been a case of arson, in the aftermath of which there was a lot of bad blood and accusations between Issa and his former business associates (though no criminal charges were ever brought against any of them).  From what I read in the article, I don't see how it would have been in Issa's interest to burn the factory down, but all I really know about arson is what I've seen on shows like Kojak.

At this point all this is over 20 years in the past, and has been brought out before the voters in Issa's previous campaigns in California.  If I read Lizza's article correctly it seems the colorful part of Issa's life is now behind him, and he has in the last two decades been cleanly pursuing the life of a successful businessman and politician.  The Lizza article isn't an attack piece, but I suppose it does provide a road map for anyone who might want to attack Issa in the future if his inquiries do root out anything troublesome to the Administration.  Certainly the likes of Bill Maher or the harpies on The View will gladly seize on this sort of thing if Issa becomes controversial.

So we'll see soon enough what investigations Issa has chosen to undertake. What the reaction of the left and its sympathizers in the media will be is still up in the air.  If things heat up, I think Issa would be wise to expect anything up to and including the sort of fury we saw in the past two weeks after the shootings in Tucson.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Dinners

Yesterday President Obama, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, hosted an elaborate White House state dinner for Hu Jintao, current leader of China.  The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo, who has been imprisoned since 2009 by China for his activities in support of human rights. When Mr. Jintao visited President Bush in 2006 all he got for his trouble was lunch, which was widely seen as a symbolic comment by the President against China's unabated oppression of dissidents.

You can read the menu for the state dinner below.  I haven't been able to find any reports as to what was on Mr. Xiaobo's menu.

First Course:
D'Anjou Pear with Farmstead Goat Cheese
Fennel, Black Walnuts, and White Balsamic
Second Course:
Poached Maine Lobster
Orange Glaze Carrots and Black Trumpet Mushrooms
Wine: DuMol Chardonnay "Russian River" 2008
Lemon Sorbet
Main Course:

Dry Aged Rib Eye with Buttermilk Crisp Onions
Double Stuffed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach
Wine: Quilceda Creek Cabernet "Columbia Valley" 2005 
Dessert: Old Fashioned Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

Friday, January 14, 2011


We're all familiar with the pattern of events like the massacre in Tucson last weekend. A horrific incident takes place, and word goes out through the media that something is going on, but little else is known. Quickly there is an orgy of speculation about who did it and why, with many expressing conclusions that reflect personal biases, based on little or no evidence. Once the details become known, we hear no apologies or recanting from those who were so vocally wrong, and there seems to be little reflection on the dubious wisdom of drawing conclusions too early. Lately we have seen this in Mayor Bloomberg's pronouncement that the Times Square would-be bomber was probably a tea partier or someone opposed to Obamacare. As you'll remember, he was a Pakistani radical Islamist attempting to commit jihad. I haven't heard if anyone asked him what he thinks about Obamacare.

The aftermath of the shootings in Tucson last Saturday was a vivid example of this.  Within hours of first reports and well before anyone knew anything at all about the killer, many of our liberal friends were suddenly on a mission to declare that this was the result of vicious election year rhetoric and a culture of violence on the right.  The Tea Party, Republicans, gun rights advocates, and most of all, Sarah Palin, were virtual (if not actual) accomplices to the murder and injuries of the innocent victims in Tucson. The fact that the killer apparently is mentally ill, politically apathetic, and has been scaring the hell out of people for years didn't do much to quiet the accusations.

The rampage in Tucson was inhuman and disgusting like all such events are, and reactions to it have been understandably very emotional.  Given that, the high level of partisanship in much of the anger expressed is unusual and disturbing, even for incidents like this.  Other mass murders such as at Columbine or the University of Virginia have generated a certain amount of finger-pointing and theorizing that lays the blame somewhere, but in general the reaction to incidents like those has been horror and bewilderment, sometimes followed by serious efforts at understanding the problem.

What is going on here?  Is it because the main target of the killer is a Democratic Congresswoman?  Whatever her politics, Gabrielle Giffords clearly is someone who would make any parent proud.  She's young, newly married, and has much potential for her future.  Is it just normal sympathy for her and the other victims that is driving the reaction, or is there something else involved that is making this so politically explosive?

I think there is, unfortunately.  We all know that the Democrats, especially very liberal Democrats, were soundly rejected in the elections of November 2nd. Things have not been going well for them or for the President, and there is little on the horizon to make anyone think their prospects will improve. Some have offered ideas on how to improve this situation, among them Mark Halperin of Time Magazine:

No one wants the country to suffer another catastrophe. But when a struggling Bill Clinton was faced with the Oklahoma City bombing and a floundering George W. Bush was confronted by 9/11, they found their voices and a route to political revival.

One of the long-standing tactics of the left has been character assassination, for the purpose of tarnishing the reputations and credibility of their opponents so they will become timid and fearful of further abuse--essentially, to silence them. Being accused of bigotry is something that can easily throw anyone offstride, floundering in denials and attempts at damage control, and ultimately disarmed and defeated.  Claiming that a person or group has been complicit in enabling mass murder is as serious a charge as you could make in any political environment.  I doubt that we're going to find a "Journolist" style coordination of the message in all this, but I find it hard not to conclude that many on the left have seen this massacre as a tempting chance to wreak damage on their enemies.  And since Sarah Palin has apparently become Public Enemy #1 for many liberals, the attacks against her have been especially fierce--all without merit, to my eye.

I've found the actions of President Obama in all this to be unimpressive at best. He was for the most part silent on the matter until Wednesday, though he did make a sort of standard announcement of his sadness at the tragedy over the weekend.  As the controversy boiled over one of the questions that came to dominate the media was: Is this the moment for Obama to recover his balance? Can this be his Oklahoma?

Well, it sure as hell looks to me like he thinks it is.  In the speech he gave at the Wednesday memorial in Tucson he counseled us that we need to tone down the rhetoric and usher in a new era of civility.  Why?  Is he saying then that political speech was responsible for the killer's actions in Tucson? By what proof?  Will he hold his own party to these standards in the future? I would take him more seriously in this if he had bothered to take a moment to tell the nation that no one is responsible for these murders but the killer himself--not Sarah Palin, not Rush Limbaugh, not the Tea Party.  Instead I have my suspicions that he was perfectly content to let the accusations fly and do whatever damage could be done, setting the stage for his descent from Olympus to comfort his mortal subjects.

People express their emotions in different ways, and I suppose it could be that the way Obama feels most comfortable expressing his sadness about such a terrible event is to speak in front of 20,000 people wearing "O" t-shirts and applauding him after every paragraph.  Maybe, but I think what we really witnessed at the Tucson memorial on Wednesday was the first campaign stop for Obama's 2012 re-election bid.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Short Leash

I don't know a whole lot about dog behavior and training, but I think I can correctly say that to keep most dogs in line you have to treat them with strict and consistent discipline.  Even then they will sometimes misbehave, and all you can really do is curse while you clean up the mess.

Politicians of course act in much the same way. Unfortunately, they are able to do much more damage when they misbehave, and you can't just take them to the pound if they get to be too much trouble.

Our dear Republicans since the November elections have been inconsistent in showing their resolve to accomplish what the voters returned them to power in Congress to do. In the past few days we have seen some in the new leadership backtracking on their pledge to cut $100 billion dollars from the current year's budget.  Today Speaker Boehner had to explicitly affirm that the Republicans are committed to the budget cuts for this calendar year, after the Capitol Hill switchboards were once again flooded with calls from angry citizens.

Well, the path forward is clear.  We are going to have to treat the Republicans the same way Barbara Woodhouse would have treated a dog that just won't learn to heel--yank the leash good and hard until the beast does what it is told.