Saturday, August 30, 2008
William F Buckley once famously said “I’d rather be ruled by the first 500 people in the Boston phonebook than the faculty at Harvard University.” All the criticism of Sarah Palin I’m reading from erstwhile Republican boosters like David Frum and Rick Brookhiser reminds me of that quote. For the most part they say that she’s a political nobody, and that John McCain might have just as well picked someone from the phonebook, while it seems that they were hoping for someone from the Harvard Faculty.
It’s difficult to ignore the scent of paternal cosmopolitanism in their comments. I don’t think they mean it, but it seems as if they mean to say that a woman from a small Alaskan town is inherently less capable of being vice President than someone who has a decade or two as a DC insider. Not because she’s a woman, or because she’s from Alaska, but because in their view she lacks a certain political sophistication.
But I think their disappointment is caused by the same thing that will most annoy the DC press corps about her. The DC press corps is so enamored with their own speaking skills that they have come to believe that sounding smart is actually more important than being smart. And in the case of Frum and Brookhiser it’s a different cause but a similar effect. They’ve spent their lives studying the ins and outs of political dealings and therefore think it takes someone as special as them to be able to navigate such a Byzantine path. They seem to believe that if you haven’t devoted your life to getting into the Whitehouse, you’ll never be able to handle a role like the one John McCain has picked her for.
What neither of these guys seems to realize is that we Americans don’t care if she isn’t cosmopolitan. None of us are particularly cosmopolitan either. In fact many of us on the conservative side don’t even aspire to be. We don’t see it is a requirement of office nearly as much as something like honesty, or sincerity, and Palin has both of those in gobs. But when Frum and Brookhiser look at Sarah Palin, they see a typical 44 year old hockey mom; someone who knows more about “The Little Prince” than “The Prince”, and they don’t think she can handle it.
To be fair to them, winning an election and being the best person for the job are two very different things. If they’re talking about the latter then I have to admit that I don’t really know all that much about Sarah Palin. But she looks good to me so far; in as much as she’s proven that she can walk the walk of conservative values as well as talk the talk. That’s more than I’ve seen from anyone I’ve sent to DC in decades. And I think if the Republicans in congress had remembered that instead of listening to pro big government “experts” like Frum, they’d still be in control of both houses. As it stands right now, I would feel a lot more comfortable voting for Sarah Palin and her obviously sincere conservative values than I would with anyone else on the national stage, John McCain included.
Personally I think the whole “real conservative” fake conservative” debate is mostly a useless endeavor so I haven’t been very critical of John McCain since he won the Republican nod. I had every intention of holding my nose and voting for him no matter who he chose as his VP. But if we look at this choice as John McCain’s first executive decision, then I’m genuinely feeling better about the future of his presidency. I’ve always known that I could count on him to do what he thinks is right, I’ve just never been confident that what he thinks is right, will actually be the right thing. But when he picked Sarah Palin he boosted my confidence in him. And if it’s offered a window into how he’ll be in an executive role, I feel much better about his judgment overall.
Would Sarah Palin be able to handle the highly complex role of Vice President of the United States? Could she manage being a heartbeat away from the presidency under the oldest first term president in American history? I don’t know… Al Gore seemed to manage the job and he still had time to invent the internet. My point is, even if the only thing I know about Sarah Palin is that her conservative values are not just talk, then as far as I’m concerned, that’s enough for me to be willing to take my chances.
Friday, August 29, 2008
I want to be the very first to predict what the Vice Presidential debate results will be like. At the top of the hour, Joe Biden will take a deep breath and talk as long as anyone lets him. He will tangentially pontificate and ramble along for what feels like forever; making sure to include all the latest Democrat talking points. He’ll come across as a highly professional politician, even if he is a little long winded, and the press and the MSM talking heads will adore him and reverentially heap their many praises upon him.
They will proclaim him the easy victor of the debate before the opening title sequence, and nothing that occurs in the actual discussions will make them change their minds. They will all talk about how Sarah Palin was outgunned from the start and how her ‘folksy manner’ wasn’t nearly enough to make her a match for a heavyweight verbal pugilist like Biden. They’ll condescendingly talk about how she seems “basically nice”, but how she really isn’t ready for such a high profile national role. They’ll try not to be cruel, but they’ll dismiss her as having been out of her league from the start.
And then the polls will come in.
The people are going to love her. Sarah Palin doesn’t have a pretentious bone in her body, and it comes across as clear as day. The smaller more personal and less scripted the venue the better she does because she isn’t acting. She really is the way she seems, and it’s easy to be consistent when you aren’t pretending. The media mavens won’t see that because they’re pretending all the time and think everyone else is too. Her lack of pretense is the kind of thing that the mainstream media can’t appreciate and it fills them with the urge to look down their noses at the yokels. (Expect her to be portrayed on the New Yorker or the NYTimes riding a Moose and carrying a Banjo) But the American people will see that aspect of her personality and connect to it. The media won’t get her but the people will.
For a long time I’ve made the argument that the first black or woman President will have to come from the political right where voters care more about policy (substance) and less about image (style). And last year when I learned about Sarah Palin, I brazenly told my wife that I thought she’d be the first one to pull it off. I thought it would take her longer to get to a national role than she has, but seeing her now as McCain’s Vice President, I still maintain my view. She has a genuine and unassuming nature which will appeal to voters much more than it will to the media. And when it comes to conservative ideals she not only talks the talk, she also walks the walk.
The New York City media crowd doesn’t see anyone as plain-spoken as Sarah Palin on a day by day basis. I’m a pretty plain spoken person myself so I know, dealing with New York City Liberals at every turn beats it out of you. If you stay there long enough you have to eventually make a choice between being less direct with people or learning to live with the making them angry at you over your beliefs. A liberal’s political views are a product of their insecurity, so they take it very personally when you disagree with them. Over time that animosity they carry will effect your career or your personal life or whatever, so you ‘tone it down’ to get along. Believe me when I tell you, they don’t have anyone like Sarah Palin, moving through the New York City media circuit.
But Sarah Palin is from Alaska, and is totally unaffected by that. Where she’s from, being “all talk” is considered a bad thing not a career move. She comes from a world where everyone can say exactly what they mean if they feel like it. And, as I’ve written before, if you live in the wilderness and try to embrace the nonsensical frivolity of modern liberalism it will come back to bite you quickly. It forces you to become a sensible practical person, and Sarah Palin has all of that in spades. She’s genuine, straightforward and will be a complete and total mystery to New York City Liberals. They won’t see her coming at all.
In the meantime the mainstream media adores Biden because he’s so much like them. He’s in love with the sound of his own voice, just like them. He thinks the world should revolve around him and is surprised when someone disagrees with him, just like them. And most important, he thinks that what people say and how they say it is far more important than what they actually do when the talking is over. That's what it's really all about for the liberal media in this election. When it comes to choosing who the winner of the debate will be, they’ll all vote for him because in their minds it will be a vote for a man who thinks the skill that they posses is the one that's most important.
But most people don’t have jobs where all they do is talk for a living. Apart from academics (who have the same liberal political leanings as the mainstream media) most Americans have jobs where something other than talk has to be accomplished every single day. And if they don't actually get that thing accomplished, then they're likely to get fired. They can't get so wrapped up in "the idea" of something that the "something" doesn't get done. So at the end of the day they care more about results than about intentions. And to people like that, real people, Sarah Palin’s direct style will sound like a breath of fresh air. People are going to listen to her and like her. And that will win her and John McCain votes.
The media’s historic love affair with Barak Obama is over this very issue. For the media he’s considered the messiah because he’s the combination of a few key components that liberals seek. He’s multi-racial, an excellent speaker, and comes from the right kind of elitist academic background. They think he's smart because he sounds good, not because he's accomplished things. That's obvious because even a cursory look at his resume will show you that he actually hasn't accomplished much of anything at all. But they don’t care that the guy’s never had a real job, or that if he did even 10% of the things he wants to do, it would bring on an economic disaster of unprecedented proportions. they don't care that his "new" ideas have all been tried before and have all failed miserably. None of that matters because he reminds them so much of what they think is the most important skill a politician can have. It’s the very same skill that they spend their time developing and that’s why they think it’s so important.
But real Americans feels differently, and even more than John McCain, Sarah Palin is the candidate that’s going to bring that difference into the sharpest relief. This is going to be an election where it becomes increasingly clear that the mainstream media is on one side, and the American people are on the other.
Sarah Palin isn’t going to send chills down Chris Mathew’s leg … by now we all know that he doesn’t go that way. But she is probably going to get John McCain elected President. And she’s going to do it over the loud, obvious, and increasingly desperate demands of the mainstream media. The American people will like her for the same reason the media doesn’t, and that will irritate them to no end. By the end of the Vice presidential debate you will be able to tell everything about how someone will vote by who they pick as the winner. Not because it’s so close, but because it will say so much about how people see themselves.
Here is the Alaska Governor talking about how she launched a suit against the Federal Government and the EPA for ingratiating themselves to the global warming crowd by arbitrarily classifying the Polar Bear as endangered when the population of bears was actually growing.
Steve Chapman on what we can expect from an Obama administration:
...saying a Democrat believes in big government is like saying that Chicago winters are cold -- true, but inadequate. Some winters are more bone-chilling than others, and some Democrats are worse than others.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I've never met Mrs. Malkin, but had I been there I don't think I'd have been able to resist the urge to get in the big guys face and explain to him that he may claim to be a pacifist but I sure as hell don't so unless he wants the cops to take us to the emergency room first on our way to jail he'd better back the F up.
They really are nothing but class these people. Absolutely shameful.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Now one of the Fellows from the Hoover Institution has written a book that documents that claim in a much more accessible way. Here's Peter Robinson talking to Amity Shlaes about the forgotten man, and how Obama thinks he should be forgotten again, and as quickly as possible.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
It’s taken a while, but as I (and many others) accurately predicted, the press has finally come out and said that if you don’t vote for Obama, you’re a racists. Jacob Weisberg from Slate, TNR and NPR is the shallow, insulting narrow minded liberal who has taken that important first step, but I think that it’s safe to expect all of the major media to now follow him. Liberals making racism accusations are like 11 year olds on a high dive… they all think it looks like fun to try, but none of them wants to be first. Now that Weisberg has made the jump the rest of his “enlightened” media brethren can quote him instead of saying something themselves. This lets them call more public attention to the opinion without ever actually claiming it as their own. I expect the “quotations” to come early and often from here on out through November.
And the point Weisberg is making isn’t just the usual white guilt we’re used to reading from liberals with regard to race in America. It’s also an excellent example of logical incoherence. According to Weisberg we should vote for Obama because he’s black. If we listen to him and ignore all the other issues and let our vote for Obama be based solely on his race, then we prove that America no longer cares about skin color. But if we reject Obama for any reason whatsoever, then the “secret meaning” embedded in our vote, a secret that only the enlightened people like Weisberg can detect, is that we’re obviously all still racists. Vote for him exclusively because of race = not racist, vote against him for any reason whatsoever = racist … got it.
Jacob Weisberg’s laughable condemnation aside, I think it’s a valid issue to consider Obama’s race. He is black after all; voters are going to notice that. But the mainstream media is hardly in a place to be able to analyze the effect of his color on the voting public. Like Weisberg, most members of the liberal media are too busy projecting their own view of race onto others to ever be able to take a clear eyed look at what that might mean to conservatives in this election. It’s a cliché to say so I suppose, but the liberal media still look at red state folks with the perspective of the anthropologist visiting a remote aboriginal village. They try to look at their behavior and attribute their own motives t it, but it never makes sense.
But speaking from the perspective of a member of that conservative village, I don’t think race is going to be much of an issue for anyone except the Obama faithful. For generations Americans have been taught that it’s morally wrong to judge someone strictly because of their race and I think most Americans have taken that issue to heart. Christian thinking and Christian values are a big part of the conservative movement and Christians were the ones who ended racism, not the ones who started it. The military is another major source of objective values for conservative and has long been a leader in treating all men equal regardless of color.
On an individual level, I think all conservatives are pretty much capable of getting past race as a motivation. But that isn’t to say we don’t care about race at all. In the political sphere, blacks in America have a stereotype which pervades discussion on both sides of the aisle. After a generation or two of political leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, it’s going to be hard to for Obama to come off as anything but yet another big government inner city victimologist. His lack of clarity on the issues isn’t helping matters. He comes across to many rank and file conservatives as an elitist, hyperbolic big city liberal… basically a thin well spoken version of Al Sharpton. And that is definitely because of his race.
Personally I would be just as unlikely to vote for someone with his political views and experience regardless of his color. His being black doesn’t win him any forgiveness in my mind, but it doesn’t get him any condemnation either. Like many whites in government, he seems to think we’re too stupid to run own lives and that we need the government to run them for us. When I vote, I have at least one choice of whole bunch of white people who also feel that way too, and I won’t be voting for any of them either. But the liberal media will never understand that because for them it really is about race, and they can’t imagine that the unsophisticated conservatives have really gotten past it when they haven’t.
The media has gone on and on about whether America is really ready or a black president. I think we are, but not this black president. If Thomas Sowell could be fooled into running for president he may not actually win the election, but he’d get the overwhelming support of the very people that the liberal media says are unable to vote for a black man. It never occurred to them that it’s only a black man with political beliefs like Obama’s that they will never support. The first black president will have to be someone who believes in individual liberty, small government, free markets and “freedom OF religion” not “freedom from religion”. Conservative will rally to a man like that, but he’ll have to get past a hostile mainstream media first.
So at the end of the day I think that’s what Obama being black really means to most conservatives. They believe that in the end he’ll be another victimologist turned politician who’s going to try to use government to right a laundry list of wrongs that have really been settled business for generations. They believe he’s another hyperbolic liberal who will try to say what he thinks we want to hear, but will do what he likes in the end. They believe that he doesn’t actually mean what he says and that when he’s pressed he’ll revert to being a small time rent seeking Chicago bureaucrat and race will be the excuse.
I believe racism will get Obama more votes from guilty white liberals than it costs him in conservatives, because for them it's still very much an issue. Identity politics is highly pervasive among liberals. All in though I don’t think it will matter. I think Obama is enough of a lightweight that the media won’t be able to cover for him until November and the truth about him will come out. People will see him for what he really is, and no one like that is getting elected to the presidency, regardless of their color. Not by people like me anyway.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
I lasted 4 weeks.
The truth is there was a great deal more politics, bureaucracy, and posturing than I remembered, but upon reflection, no more than there was when I worked on the sell side back in the 90's.
Had I seen this video, before I had made the jump, I might have saved myself a few months and tons of stress. It's an obvious take-off on the the current situation in the ARS industry, but it could just as well be any investment bank when there is trouble. It reflects the "rats on a sinking ship" psychology that's all too common, and is really the reason I went to the buy side in the first place.
I'm back to work for another large and respectable hedge fund this week. I'm chalking the spring up to "lessons learned".
Saturday, August 16, 2008
In this case the arctic ice cap, once alleged to be poised to create havoc, mayhem, sudden flooding of coastal cities from New York to London, and to cause wide scale death in all the low parts of the world (not to mention drowning all the Polar Bears) has failed to meet Al Gore's expectations. And contrary to the claims of global warming alarmists, it has stubbornly continued to increase rather than melt.
Friday, August 15, 2008
I was on Jury duty this past week. The NJ Supreme Court, in an attempt to demonstrate to the lawyers in the case how each potential juror thinks, has mandated that each juror be asked three “open ended” questions by the judge. The specific questions for each case are agreed to in advance by both legal teams.
In the case I was called for, one of the questions was "Apart from the sitting president (political questions are verboten) who is your favorite past president and why?" OK ... that makes sense to me. I think it could say a lot about a person.
There was a variety of answers. One man actually said Nixon, and another said “Grover Cleveland” as a joke. But by far the most common response (a total of 5 out of a jury of 14) was Jimmy Carter. One juror (apparently an illiterate) actually said that he was his favorite because of what he’s done since he was voted out of office.
That’s a full 1/3 of the jury which has apparently never opened a history book on their own, and would disagree with everything you said if you tried to read it to them. Panama canal to the Chinese, Iranian hostages, gas lines, stagflation, 17% interest, emboldened Soviets, emboldened Syrians, emboldened Chinese, a windfall profits tax that killed domestic energy production, civil service unions that are choking the government, a general malaise, and a psychopathic bunny. Even after 8 years of Ronald Reagan we still had to spend the last 35 years recovering from his influence both at home and abroad, and they would argue that none of it was real life.
I argue with people that New Jersey is worth saving, but it’s things like this that make me think that maybe all the people telling me to flee have a point. But the good news is, when the Prosecutor saw me rolling my eyes with my head in my hands at yet another idiot answering "Jimmy Carter" ... she realized that she had a conservative on the panel and dismissed me immediately.
I have a buddy who was called for jury duty in Manhattan once. The charge was a "Hate Crime", and it was an issue between a Puerto Rican Transvestite, and a one legged bike messenger. That's New York City ... the criminals are all nuts. In New Jersey, the crimes are pretty much the same as anywhere else, but apparently it's the Jury who is nuts.
You think the case for global warming is proven without a shadow of a doubt, but that we need another century or two worth of evidence to figure out if capitalism and free markets work better than socialism.
Read the rest here.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
You're unlikely to vote for Obama if you.....
1. aren't registered to vote in France or Germany.
2. believe Gen. Petraeus is more important than Al Gore.
3. nod every time you read a Thomas Sowell column.
4. have ever caught yourself humming the theme from" The Green Berets."
5. have gotten your pants dirty in the last week.
6. kinda like a good steak once in a while.
7. have accidentally discharged your gun during church services in a bitter fit of antipathy over people who aren't like you.
8. wouldn't mind knowing if your 14 year old daughter was being taken by a non-family member to Toledo for an abortion.
9. prefer the Super Bowl to the World Cup.
10. know Sig Sauer isn't the name of Obama's domestic policy adviser.
11. are certain Obama would've taken the tank ride if Dukakis hadn't beaten him to it.
12. can't describe Obama's position on the surge without using the word "incoherent."
13. don't think having a baby is "punishment.".
14. have heard about Obama's vote against the Induced Birth Infant Liability Act.
15. tend to giggle whenever Nancy Pelosi talks energy policy.
16. think your taxes are plenty high already, thank you very much.
17. prefer legislation come from Congress, not the Supreme Court
18. believe we'd be in a world of hurt if we'd followed Obama's advice on Iraq last year.
19. resent the suggestion you're a racist for treating Obama like a serious presidential candidate.
20. hear the name "Osama Bin Laden" and words other than "habeas corpus" come to mind.
21. were to meet William Ayers, you'd be more likely to bop him in the nose than join his board.
22. list either Patton, Braveheart or 300 among your favorite movies.
23. realize that Obama's Speech of the Century on race was, in hindsight, a crock.
24. wonder which government agency is in charge of healing the planet.
25. personally know somebody who packs his passport whenever traveling to San Francisco... just in case.
Score (# of descriptions that apply to you):
0— You heard that according to Publisher's Clearinghouse, Al Gore won Florida
1—3 You think that had Ron Paul gotten more time in the debates he'd be the nominee
4—24 McCain's your man
25 If only Fred Thompson would drink more coffee....
I'd have scored a 25 but for the "accidental discharge" item. My guns don't go off by accident.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
We’re entering the next phase of the yin & yang lifecycle of environmental populism. First is the stage where the devoted true believers speak as a lonely yet noble voice in the wilderness. The devoted monks (and monk-ettes) of the new age, swearing a life of technological abstinence, forgo the trappings of industrialized society and preach to the people of a better world without the evil deeds of men and their polluting machines.
Then as the movement gains in popularity, it draws in those who use their political influence to position themselves as it’s leaders. The media hails the “far sighted” politician and the “green convert” businessman who take the lead in the new movement. They’re really just after power, or influence, or money… but it’s a movement on the rise and the media is nothing if not sensitive to fashion.
After that come their political base… the dilettantes and the guys looking to get laid by dilettantes. They can’t be bothered with the details, but they’re after popularity with the media, or liberal academics, or cute girls, so they’ll go along as well. They’ll attend fund raisers to "Save" a population of Polar Bears which is not only growing but is at it’s largest in decades. They’ll spout off for the media about how New York will be under water in three to five years or how billions will drown when the polar ice melts.
Then as their swollen numbers begin to bring them political success, the new regulation and taxation they supported will drive the economy south. The markets will see the problem and begin to spell out how economically suicidal all this nonsense is. Commodity prices will skyrocket, the dollar will go into free fall, and the equity markets, fearful of a newly empowered government will head south.
And that’s when we reach the current stage. This is the stage where everyone takes a look at the $6 a gallon heating oil and the falling value of their investments and they begin to connect the dots. They realize that if it means this much hardship then they aren’t really all that interested in saving the planet after all. They abandon the movement in deference to a higher standard of living and a future in a reliable job. And that will eventually lead back to the true believers, out there in the wilderness again; complaining that the rest of us “just don’t understand!”
Well I’m probably getting just a little ahead of myself. We’re really just entering that last phase. But by election time in November, I fully expect the Democrats to be on board with the whole “screw the environment” movement, and to be disingenuously assuring the voters that they were really FOR drilling on the continental shelf all along. It’s the nature of the animal… there’s no escaping it. They are only willing to save the planet, so long as it means more power for them. And by the first Wednesday in November, the people who put the environment ahead of the economy are going to be mighty lonely in Washington.
This is the fundamental reality that the environmental movement never appreciated. They have never understood that we live in an individualist society. The American people are only willing to put up with a limited amount of suffering and inconvenience for the sake of someone else. And they’ll put up with even less if the thing they’re being asked to suffer for is just an abstraction from an Al Gore PowerPoint slide. People will be for the movement on paper, but in practice, they’d rather drive the car they like and live where they want. There’s a limit to how cold they’re willing to be in their own homes on behalf of Polar Bears.
Most Americans seem to have identified that limit at the $4 per gallon level. It may still take a while for the dimmer bulbs in the Democrat party to get a handle on it, but it seems to me that at that price or higher, the environmental movement is no longer a viable political entity in the US. The longer gas stays around $4 per gallon, the more people in power will stop taking the calls of the environmental faithful. When many suburban New Jersey homeowners can only afford to keep their thermostats at 50 degrees, they will burn the headquarters of the Democrat party to the ground if they try to stand in the way of new drilling.
And that’s a real problem for the enviro-movement because they require a high gasoline and heating oil price to keep people from using it. The green lobby has operated from a basic understanding that a high gas price is equal to low consumption, and a low subsequent CO2 emission. They view that low CO2 as an absolute social good that we should be willing to pay any price or bear any hardship to get. But the American people don’t feel that way about it. They would rather be warm in the winter, or be able to afford to drive to their jobs… or for that matter have jobs to drive to, and none of that is compatible with a high energy price.
In fact we haven’t begun to feel the full impact of that last one yet because it takes a while for the high energy price to work its way through the supply chain. But you can bet that as we speak there are people in corporate America working through the numbers, and those numbers are all saying the same thing. At these price levels for energy and the reduced economic growth those prices bring, they just can’t afford to employ as many people as they used to. It may be a marginal product line that gets cut, or a non-essential project. They may be able to save the core company depending on the business they’re in and how well it’s run. But there will absolutely be fewer people working next year than this year, and the cause will be high energy costs.
The environmental movement is a neo-marxist entity. Everything about the movement is top down. Their central thesis is to put the government in control of the economy and have them make all the decisions. They can’t afford to allow individual Americans to make their own choices because they’re afraid that some of them may make “the wrong choice”. And the wrong choice according to them is anything an American may want to do that doesn’t include the words “wind and solar”. But since some people might not feel that way, (I know I certainly don’t) they figure they should use the government to force them to go along. It never occurs to them (or for that matter the mainstream media) that this kind of decision making has been tried before in the eastern block and failed on a massive scale. They never think about the fact that by restricting the choices of Americans they are condemning us all to a life of almost certain misery. A free society not only works better, but is also happier. But they don’t think about that.
But that doesn’t mean that the American people don’t think about it. Every poll I found has shown that Americans overwhelmingly favor the free market to solve economic problems over the government. And when you couple that to the fact that the Democrat speaker of the house is publicly calling the law of supply and demand “a hoax”, it’s hard to believe they won’t be losing at the polls for it. Saving the planet was last year’s issue. This year it’s all about saving American jobs and the American thermostat. And the Democrats are going to have to sign on to that idea if they expect to retain control of anything this autumn.
That’s why I think they’ll change their tune. Their presidential candidate has already changed his … a bunch of times. And Nancy Pelosi is going to get the point too. Her only issue is figuring out how she can reverse her position 180 degrees without sounding like…like she’s reversing her decision 180 degrees. She won’t be worried about annoying the Al Gore converts because at $4 for gas and $6 for heating oil, one cold breeze and there won’t be enough of them left to worry about. Instead she’ll try to focus on some nonsense about “carbon neutral” fossil fuels or something that sounds equally silly to the clear eyed.
The fact of the matter is, the environmental movement cannot survive any economic downturn whatsoever. The people running it and its political momentum all come from spoiled rich kids that have never known hardship. Let them get to know a little and they will change their view, like most people. We’re an individualist people we Americans. We’d rather decide for ourselves how to live our own lives then let anyone, even St Al Gore, tell us how to. And that will seem more true than ever once the American voter figures out what the far left means when they talk about the “sacrifice” they’ll expect from us. The movement is all but done in my mind, there’s nothing left but the funeral. And as for the true believers… well I guess they’ll have to go back to Canada and the UK, and complain about the Americans from there. They’ll go back to being a voice in the socialist wilderness.
One of my regular hunting buddy's wife has had another baby this year and I have some career issues which are taking center stage. But if we manage to get out to hunt Pheasant again this year the Derb would like to come along. For a guy with limited experience he's actually quite good with a shotgun.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
It's begun... exactly as expected by basically everyone. The Obama campaign has taken out the race card, and from here on out we can expect anyone who fails to support him to be accused of racism. To ease the process just a bit (but really... to highlight it's absurdity) Peter Kirsanow has itemized a list for us all over at The corner on NRO. Why he's apologizing to Jeff Foxworthy I'll never know.
(The bolding of the item below is me ... that one is sort of self-defining don't you think?)
1.If you think Obama's the most liberal member of the senate you...may be a racist.
2.If you object to Obama raising your payroll, capital gains and estate taxes you...may be a racist.
3.If you'd prefer a president have at least some foreign policy experience you...may be a racist.
4. If you're in favor of drilling for oil and building nuclear power plants you...may be a racist.
5. If you think "Vero Possemus" is Latin for "Massive Ego" you... may be a racist.
6. If you wonder why Obama was hanging around William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn you...may be a racist.
7. If your pastor is nothing like Rev. Wright or Father Pfleger you... may be a racist.
8.If you don't want the majority of justices on the Supreme Court to be like Stephen Breyer you...may be a racist.
9. If you're not impressed with Obama's 100% NARAL rating you...may be a racist.
10. If you're not sure whether Obama opposed or supported FISA reauthorization you...may be a racist.
11. If you don't think America is a "downright mean" country you...may be a racist.
12. If you think Obama should've visited wounded troops at Ramstein and Landstuhl you...may be a racist.
13. If you think the surge is working and that's a good thing you...may be a racist.
14. If you oppose racial preferences in employment, school admissions and contracting you...may be a racist.
15. If you think "we are the change we've been waiting for" is a line from a Monty Python skit you...may be a racist.
16. If you prefer that a president have a smidgen of executive experience you...may be a racist.
17. If you're appalled that Obama voted against treating infants born after an abortion attempt the same medically as other infants born alive you...may be a racist.
18. If you were proud of your country even before Obama's candidacy you...may be a racist.
20. If you don't think American troops are just "air raiding villages" you...may be a racist.
21. If your grandmother isn't a "typical white person" you...may be a racist.
22. If you don't think rural, working class people are bitter and "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them" you...may be a racist.
23. If you're not sure invading Pakistan is a particularly good idea—what with their nuclear weapons and all— you...may be a racist.
24. If you don't want the president to meet without precondition with the leaders of state sponsors of terror you...may be a racist.
25. If you don't care how Hollywood or the European elite think you should vote you...may be a racist.
I’m a great fan of history, particularly the history of small arms. I can tell you the difference between a “Durs egg” and a “Willits” flintlocks at a distance. I know (and can recite) the differences between a Sharps buffalo rifle and a Spenser repeater, and I can go on all day about the virtues of a piston driven AR15 versus direct gas impingement. I can hand walk the listener through the last 300 years of small arms development, right up to today's modern weapons. What can I say, it’s my hobby. I’m sure many of you can go on the same way about golf clubs.
I spend some time shooting too, but in my world that usually means more shotguns than rifles. I shoot skeet a few times a month and that always means using a shotgun. The reason is that shotguns throw a spray of small pellets which give you greater odds of hitting your target with something. It’s sort of like the difference between getting something wet with a squirt gun, and getting it wet with a garden hose. If I had to do my skeet shooting with a rifle, I’d probably be there a long time before I hit anything.
And that’s not because I’m special. In fact given my knowledge and experience, I’d probably be more likely to hit a moving target with a rifle than your average Joe plucked off of the street. But when an object is moving through the air at an angle to you, you actually need to shoot in front of it and hope that your shot and the target arrive at the same time. Naturally with skeet shooting I know exactly how far away the target is and how fast it’ll be going, but even then it can be a tricky business. And to try to try and hit it with a rifle bullet (that is something like ½ an inch across) versus a cloud of shotgun pellets (that can be as much as several feet across) is very very difficult.
I tell you all this stuff because I wanted to make it clear that I know exactly what I’m talking about here. Ballistics is not a matter of opinion; it’s a matter of physics. This isn’t an issue about which reasonable people can disagree. Mind you that doesn’t stop some people from trying to, but you should realize that they’re making an assertion similar in logic to saying 2+2=5. And once they do that, in my opinion, you should no longer take them seriously.
It has been often said, usually by an anti-gun advocate or one of their puppet politicians, that a 50 caliber rifle can be used to shoot down a jumbo jet. While I suppose in the strictest sense this is mathematically possible, the probability of it occurring makes it so unlikely that it would be closer to the truth to say that it isn’t actually possible at all. In real terms, in the real world, it can’t be done. It doesn’t matter who the shooter is, or how long he has to train or who teaches him. It’s a simple matter of the mathematics of shooting a moving target, and the effects of a rifle bullet. Let me explain.
When you look up in the sky an airplane seems to be moving very slowly, but this is an illusion. In reality, a jumbo jet at its cruising speed and altitude is a little over 7 miles away and traveling at a speed greater than 500 miles per hour. It would take a bullet from a 50 caliber rifle roughly 13 seconds to cover the distance between the ground and a jumbo jet. So if you were to aim directly at the jumbo jet and pull the trigger, when your bullet got there the plane would be roughly one and a half miles away.
Some might argue that you can simply shoot ahead of the target like in skeet shooting, but that won’t work either. You see, I’m using a lot of words like “roughly” and “almost” and “greater than” to describe these distances and speeds because I don’t want your eyes to glaze over. But if you’re really trying to hit something at that distance, there is no room for approximation. If you’ve made even the tiniest error in your calculations you’re going to miss your target. In fact, once you add in the effect of wind, temperature, air density, humidity and the effect of gravity on the bullet, you’re all but certain to miss anyway.
It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’ve trained. There is no special “black ops” school that will give you the required skills. Those are all Hollywood inventions. But even if there were such a place it still wouldn’t matter. The truth is, even if you’re the best marksman in Hollywood and the next Stephen Hawking to boot, you’ll almost certainly get the math wrong. The margins of error for each of those calculations I mentioned are larger than the required tolerance. And that means, there will be no jumbo jets shot down today. That’s not opinion, its math.
This is the point where the anti-gun advocate, desperate to justify their totally unrealistic fears, begins the “Well what if’s” portion of the discussion. “Well what if it’s being shot at while taking off or landing” or ”Well what if they hit the plane by luck?” or "What if it's a guy who was trained by Dick Cheney, in a secret CIA bunker and using special radioactive hollow point bullets that go extra ... yada yada yada". OK, setting the silliness aside for a second, let’s talk about that.
A 50 caliber bullet is .50 inches in diameter, and is moving at a pretty fast speed. They make a version of it which is armor piercing, and can punch through several inches of steel. But it still only makes a ½ inch hole in whatever it hits. It doesn’t explode like some kind of tiny artillery round. If it’s you that the hole is being made in then you’ve probably had better days, but that’s true of many smaller rifles too. And there is nowhere on a jumbo jet that you can make a ½ inch hole that will disable it.
All commercial jumbo jets have multiple engines, and even multiple pilots. Jets lose engines all the time (and occasionally pilots)and still land safely. A 50 caliber bullet will not ignite fuel or cause explosions like you saw on that Bruce Willis movie. And a ½ inch hole will not cause the plane to have explosive decompression at any altitude. Don’t believe me? Mythbusters did a simulation of it. About the biggest risk I can think of would be if he managed to shoot out multiple tires on landing which might cause the plane to skid around a bit. But your "end of the runway" terrorist doesn’t need a 50 caliber rifle for that. A 300 dollar .308 caliber deer rifle can do the very same thing and cause a similar amount of damage. But even to cause that, the shooter would still have to hit the plane's tires... which is no easy trick.
A 50 caliber BMG rifle is really just an ultra long range sniper rifle that takes an expert to be able to get any effective use out of at all. Snatch your average Jihadi off the plains of Afghanistan or the streets of Paterson NJ and they won’t be able to hit a thing with it let alone a 500 mile an hour jumbo jet. I’ve taken a lot of beginning shooters out for their first firearms experience. Many times I’ve let them pound away without any instruction at a target 50 yards away, only to have them miss with every shot. And they didn’t have to deal with very sizable recoil, noise and muzzle blast of a 50 caliber. Rifle shooting is a discipline that can take years to learn properly. And even the best trained snipers in the world will tell you that at 7.5 miles they wouldn’t waste their time with a shot even if the plane were standing still.
In New Jersey our legislature has decided that they don’t care that it’s impossible, they would still like to pass a law to restrict its citizens anyway. In its typically uninformed fashion, the State Assembly recently voted to ban ANY rifle larger than .45 caliber, not just the BMG. They don’t care that it can’t be used to do the things they’re afraid of. And they also don’t care that before mid 19th century, most firearms were larger than 45 caliber. Under their law, a .78 caliber civil war era muzzleloader, barely capable of hitting a deer at 200 yards, will be banned along with the modern guns … I guess just for the fun of it. A gun like that will barely put a hole in a jumbo jet, even if it’s stationary at the time, and I’m pretty sure it can’t be made to shoot 7.5 miles at all. But the assembly wants them banned all the same.
A 50 caliber BMG rifle can’t shoot down an airliner. It’s a powerful gun, but it can’t do anything that can’t be done with a dozen other kinds of small arms. They weigh 40 pounds, are nearly 5 feet long and have never been used in a crime in New Jersey. In fact, apart from illegal possession, I haven’t been able to find anywhere that one has ever been used for a crime at all. They are a specialty long range target gun used for competition... that's all. It serves no purpose to ban something that does no harm, and it does no good to ban tens of thousands of antique arms along with them based on the size of their bores. It capriciously and arbitrarily restricts the rights of the citizens, but I know our legislators don’t care about that. I’m just hoping the Senate cares more about trying to avoid looking like illiterate idiots than the Assembly apparently does.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
This came to me as an email from a friend:
When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building' by George Bush.
He answered by saying, 'Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.'
You could have heard a pin drop.
There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended to do, bomb them?'
A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: 'Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does France have?'
You could have heard a pin drop.
A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those countries.
Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn
only English.' He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conference s rather than speaking French?'
Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied 'Maybe it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.'
You could have heard a pin drop.
Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.
'You have been to France before, monsieur?' the customs officer asked sarcastically.
Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously. Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.'
The American said, ''The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it. 'Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France!'
The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to.'
You could have heard a pin drop.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Americans for prosperity has engaged in an interesting tactic to address the way the Corzine administration tries to issue bonds every time they want to increase spending on something the taxpayers won’t support. They’ve gone to Moody’s and requested that the rating for the “contract bonds” the governor wants to sell be set to reflect a more realistic standard. This should make the debt less appealing politically, and hopefully keep the government from spending even more money than it has. To understand the context of this issue, you need to know a little about how bonds are rated, and what those ratings mean both to the issuer and the purchaser of the bonds.
There are several ratings agencies, but the only three that count are S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch. What those rating agencies do is look at the monetary condition of the institution trying to borrow money through bond sales, and determine what the likelihood is that the entity will be able to repay the borrowed money. They have expertise in assessing the financial condition of corporations and governments, and they assign a rating to the bonds based upon that expertise. In general terms the more likely the odds of repayment, the higher the bond rating, and lower the interest rate. This makes bond issues an inexpensive source of funding so long it's believed that you're likely to repay, and that makes it popular with politicians.
Since states like New Jersey aren’t corporations, they don’t have to worry about generating revenue. If they want more money they can simply raise taxes and poof… the money flows in. They have no competition to take away their market share, and they don’t rely on the willingness of their customers to pay so the quality of their product is unimportant. If the state begins to mismanage its spending or to become highly corrupt and inefficient, it hasn’t traditionally been that big a deal to the ratings agencies. And it’s only during times of extreme crisis that the ratings of large municipalities like states are ever brought into question. Third world countries have been known to get into trouble with the rating agencies, but not typically US states, let alone one with an economy the size of New Jersey’s.
Of course, all that was before the days of the credit crunch where the complicity of the rating agencies in the failure of the multi-billion dollar mortgage bond market has brought their expertise into question. And it was also before the Democrats that dominate Trenton began to run New Jersey like a third world country. Now it seems a perfectly reasonable thing to ask the question “How likely is New Jersey to actually pay off these bonds anyway? The answer of course, is not nearly as likely as we would want them to be. And AFP thinks it’s time to ask that very question.
When you elect the head of one of the largest investment banks in the world to the Governor’s office you expect a degree of financial discipline to be brought to bear. But since electing Jon Corzine as governor, the state of New Jersey has been guilty of stupefying fiscal mismanagement. We had a 4.5 Billion dollar budget deficit for fiscal year 2006, and another 3 billion in 2007. That means that in a 24 month period, the State government spent 7.5 billion dollars more than it took in, roughly $8,900 for every man, woman and child in the state. All that money is going to have to be paid back, and it’s the taxpayers of New Jersey that is going to have to pay it.
Mr. Corzine is not a financial illiterate so he’s very much aware of the problem. And he’s proposed a number of hair brained solutions including an increase to the sales tax, the dismantling of politically weak departments like the department of agriculture, and his seemingly deranged 800% toll increase on the state highways that would have left our grandchildren paying $75 for a drive from Newark airport to the beach. He’s looked at every way under the sun to squeeze a few more bucks out of the taxpayers of New Jersey, even though they are already the highest taxed citizens in the country. And all of that is because he doesn’t dare face down all of the many vested interests in Trenton who want to see the size and influence of government to always increase.
He’s never seriously considered cutting spending in any way. Why you ask? Is it because there are so many people who would go hungry without the necessary services that the state provides? Well it might hurt couple of dozen welfare and food stamp recipients in Camden and Elizabeth, but they don’t usually vote so that’s not what’s holding him back. No… the real obstacle to fiscal discipline is New Jersey’s thoroughly pampered civil servants and government employees themselves.
New Jersey’s civil servants and government employees enjoy a lobbying strength like no one else in the state. One in every 9 people in New Jersey works for the government in one form or another, and they represent a ton of votes with exactly the same priority. What they all want to see every year is no cuts in staffing, no cuts in salaries, no cuts in benefits, no cuts in retirement benefits, no increased retirement age, no change in pension payouts, no decrease in vacation time, no increase in accountability, and a 5% annual increase of the overall budget of each of their departments. They are universally united on these issues.
As 11% of the population they represent an entire parasitic class of citizen. They add nothing to the economy whatsoever. In fact they produce nothing but their own political justification, and rely on being able to eternally suck the blood they need from New Jersey’s taxpayers. They are the ones who prevent Corzine from doing what must inevitably be done… cutting the size of the state government. So instead, Corzine and his gang have focused on borrowing money to make up any shortfalls. Like a drunk teenager with daddy's credit card, he's ignoring the future headache and going back to the bar for another round. This time it's 3.5 billion for "school construction" ... very likely the most corrupt and inefficient department in the state.
The state is constitutionally prohibited from borrowing more than 3.2 billion without a referendum by the voters, but Corzine is trying to get around this by assigning the 3.5 billion in bonds to the Economic Development Authority which isn’t technically part of the state government. Of course, if it’s not part of the state government then it doesn’t have the ability to raise taxes either. Americans for Prosperity have realized this and is making the claim that the bonds also shouldn’t receive the same preferred rating that large governments like the state typically enjoy. It’s a sound argument and bears consideration by the ratings agencies.
If our government had to hold itself to the standards of a typical public corporation we’d have been in receivership long ago, and given recent prosecutorial trends, most of our government leaders would be in federal prison with the gang from Enron. It seems silly to give them the benefit of the doubt where bond ratings are concerned when they are so visibly abusing their taxpayers and pulling an end run around the law of the land. And more to the point, I think it’s much more likely that the state won’t be able to pay after all. We’re coming dangerously close, in my opinion, to that point where Corzine and the Democratic leadership will no longer be able to sweep the elephant under the rug.
The fiscal problems have become so big that even we unwashed masses who pay the bills are beginning to notice. Even the NJ press corps, a group always willing to support a bigger government, has started to notice that it's getting a little out of hand. And although I make the joke a lot, this isn’t really Eastern Europe. If things get really awful in the state, then the productive classes (the taxpayers) will simply leave. No one who actually works for a living is going to be forced to pay confiscatory tax rates when it’s obvious that they won’t get anything back for it. It may be difficult, but you can drive from Bucks County to New York City without THAT much trouble if it means cutting your taxes enough. We all know a few people who make that commute… it will just become more popular. And there is always Connecticut and (gasp) New York State as well.
When the bill finally comes due for all this over spending, the private sector, the only part of the economy that actually makes any of what the government is taking away and spending, will simply relocate more rapidly across the various state lines. I say more rapidly because they’re already leaving to the tune of several hundred thousand taxpaying citizens per year. These issues affect the overall economic vitality of the state and Moody’s should recognize that. The wishful thinking of the states projections of future revenue should not be enough for them anymore.
Bravo for Steve Lonegan and Americans for Prosperity, calling attention to the disease. Even if it might not be in time to save the patient.
Friday, August 1, 2008
They say that so far this has been Obama's campaign to lose, and to my eyes he seems to be doing his best to lose it. He's adopted another policy from the Carter Era which was a disaster the first time, and is certain to be a disaster again.
My buddies at work used to laugh at the way they could always get a rise out of me by praising Jimmy Carter. They never meant it of course... how could they? They were just trying to get my goat. They really knew that the Carter administration wasn't just the worst Ex-Presidency in American history, it was also very likely one of the two or three worst actual presidencies in history as well.
It's taken 40 years and two major military conflicts (including the deaths of thousands of Americans both soldiers overseas and civilians at home) to counter his catastrophic foreign policy in the middle east. His domestic policies, like allowing civil service employees to unionize in spite of no profit motive in government to restrict their efforts, continue to slowly corrode the vitality of the US economy. And his "blame America first" attitude which continues to dominate the far left remains the bane of all freedom loving Americans.
People have asked whether the far left policies of Obama would make him the next McGovern or the next Carter. Now it turns out that he's trying to be both. He's trying to replicate the policies of Carter in a way that guarantees him the electoral success of McGovern.
Obama has announced that if elected he'd implement a windfall profits tax on "big oil". A tax like that one was adopted by the Carter administration and had the kind of awful results you would expect from a policy of one of the worst presidents in history. In a period of serious supply shortages, the tax caused domestic oil production to drop 6%, caused a roughly 12% increase in oil imports, and still didn't manage to increase government revenue at all.
The media is doing their best to hide who Obama is, but if they expect to be able to push him into the white house, they better get him to shut his mouth. Every time he opens is he proves that a lightweight like him has no business in a position of such importance.
The ever clever Jonah Goldberg proving that he and I are somehow psychically linked and therefore on the same page with regard to our mutual view of liberals. Actually, it's more of a confirmation that each of our views describes an objective human truth. But hey, it's more fun to think that great minds think alike because of some sort of Vulcan mind meld thing.
Actually the piece is a little lyrical for my tastes, but he's (supposed to be) on vacation right now so I think we should cut him some slack.