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Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

August 17th, 2011 - 10:33 am

It’s not easy to pick the most cynical political act you’ve ever seen. For me, however, it occurred early in 2002, when President George W. Bush signed the McCain-Feingold campaign reform act — over his own objections over its constitutionality. Bush wanted his signature on a popular bill, without losing support from conservatives and libertarians who worried (correctly) that it was a bad law. The buck stops with the Supreme Court — Bush expected, in vain, that the Supremes would do his job for him.

That is, I thought that was the most cravenly cynical political act of my lifetime — until I read Michael Tomasky’s piece today in The Daily Beast. Close your office door or stuff a sock in your mouth before reading the opening graf:

Last Friday’s decision by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, holding the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional, will almost surely force a Supreme Court decision next year, many legal analysts believe. So, bam, right in the middle of a presidential election, we’ll have the biggest and most political high-court decision since Bush v. Gore—and one with far greater destructive potential as precedent. The standard liberal position is to fear that the court will overturn the ACA. Sure, I fear that. But I also fear the political consequences on next year’s election of the court upholding it and worry that those consequences could be even worse for the progressive cause.

You read that right — heaven forbid voters should hold the President responsibly for “his signal legislative accomplishment,” as Tomasky would have it. Surely, no one could be that cynical?

Well, yes. Tomasky admits that a Supreme Court decision against ObamaCare would “be a disaster in terms of legal precedent and health-care substance.” He understands that an overturn would be “a terrible blow to a whole body of jurisprudence that has helped support and sustain the New Deal.” Furthermore, “politically it would be a crushing defeat for Barack Obama… What would he have left to run on?”

ASIDE: If the only thing Obama has to run on is a law most Americans hate and want to see repealed, he’s already up a certain small body of water while lacking a necessary implement.

If the Supremes uphold the law, Tomasky worries that “‘Obamacare’ becomes a hot-button issue all over again.” And then “multimillionaires and billionaires out there who will throw money at independent expenditure campaigns” to put more Republicans into office, especially the oval one. Even the headline screams it’s “Obama’s Best Hope for Re-Election.”

In other words: Better to have the Court knock down ObamaCare to give liberals a reason to rally around the Democrats next year — so they can try, try again to shove collectivized medicine down our throats. After, of course, they get the Supreme Court stacked in their favor.

Never forget that Progressive will use any means — fair, foul, or just plain villainous — to advance the cause of statism.

All Your Base Are Lost to Us

August 17th, 2011 - 9:01 am

Trifecta: Is President Obama losing the progressives?

A Little T&S

August 17th, 2011 - 7:16 am

On Day 938 of his Administration, President Obama announced that he will announce a jobs plan — sometime around Day 968 or so.

Now maybe I’ve just grown cynical, but I’d wager that Obama’s “plan” involves increased spending and increased taxes. To create jobs. Because that’s worked so well already these past two and a half years. But it’s all he seems to know how to do — other than blame everyone else, that is.

This is the dead end of tax & spend liberalism. Give the President credit — he might just be the one to fully and finally discredit the Great Society. At the very least, this pedantic one-trick pony has discredited himself.

And Then There were Four

August 16th, 2011 - 3:24 pm

Trifecta: It looks like Perry versus Bachmann for the social conservative vote. But Mitt Romney has a lock on the squishes, and the Ronulans will stay until the last ballot is cast.

In the aftermath of the Ames straw poll, we look at the state of the GOP field.

Required Reading

August 16th, 2011 - 11:52 am

Meet SGT Dakota Meyer, the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. It’s a helluva story.

The Media Assault Against Rick Perry Continues

August 16th, 2011 - 11:29 am

Vanity Fair: Rick Perry might be violent!

National Journal: He’s vulnerable with the right!

Associated Press: His rhetoric is dangerously hot!

Your Tuesday Afternoon Dose of Doom & Gloom

August 16th, 2011 - 10:16 am

Moody’s is in quite the mood today:

Moody’s Analytics said its near-term outlook for the U.S. economy has fallen significantly in the past month wake of the debate over the U.S. debt ceiling and the downgrade of the nation’s credit ratings by Standard & Poor’s .

Moody’s Analytics, a sister company to credit-ratings company Moody’s Investors Service, now expects real gross domestic product to increase at an annualized rate of about 2% in the second half of this year and just over 3% next year, compared with its estimate a month ago for growth of 3.5% for the second half of this year and through 2012.

With those numbers, we’re looking at about 9% unemployment on Election Day next year.

Run Away! Run Away!

August 15th, 2011 - 4:16 pm

Hair of the Dog: We’ve got the winners and losers from Ames, Rick Perry’s grand entrance, and an all-new recipient of The Eyebrow of Total Disdain.

Bonus: There is no spoon.

The Media Assault on Rick Perry Begins

August 15th, 2011 - 2:12 pm

It’s a small shot, but a taste of things to come from the New York Times and the rest of the complicit media. You can see it in the headline:

In Texas, Perry Has Ridden an Energy Boom

The Texas economy? It’s just oil. Those OPEC thieves raise the prices, and Rick Perry looks like an evil geeeeeeeeeeeenius. Of course, the best they can do is quote a confessed Perry critic:

But some economists as well as Perry skeptics suggest that Mr. Perry stumbled into the Texas miracle. They say that the governor has essentially put Texas on autopilot for 11 years, and it was the state’s oil and gas boom — not his political leadership — that kept the state afloat. They also doubt that the Texas model, regardless of Mr. Perry’s role in shaping it, could be effectively applied to the nation’s far more complex economic problems.

“Because the Texas economy has been prosperous during his tenure as governor, he has not had to make the draconian choices that one would have to make in the White House,” said Bryan W. Brown, chairman of the Rice University economics department and a critic of Mr. Perry’s economic record. “We have no idea how he would perform when he has to make calls for the entire country.”

The very next line is a real winner:

And if Mr. Perry were to win the Republican nomination, he would face critics, among them Democrats…

Democrats would say bad things about the GOP candidate? Stop the presses!

But it isn’t just Democrats and critics. Oh, no. It’s also liberal research groups:

“The Texas model can’t be the blueprint for the United States to successfully compete in the 21st-century economy, where you need a well-educated work force,” said Dick Lavine, senior fiscal analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based liberal research group.

Krause then goes on to quote some nice conservatives saying some nice things about Perry — all of them just as “newsworthy” as the ones I clipped for you above. And then Krause gets right back to the punches:

When Mr. Perry succeeded Mr. Bush, a barrel of oil was worth only $25. Experts warned that Texas’s natural gas and oil fields, which directly and indirectly support about one-third of the state’s jobs, were in steep decline. But during his first term, global market forces began driving oil prices up. They peaked at $147 a barrel in 2008 and have largely remained above $80 over the last two years.

Left unasked: How Texas manages to keep its energy economy humming, with a spiteful White House and a hateful EPA monkeywrenching all the gears. Krause, via Bernard L. Weinstein, even makes the claim that recent advances are just luck:

“He’s been lucky,” said Bernard L. Weinstein, associate director of the McGuire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “Obviously, neither the governor nor public policy in Texas has pushed oil prices up, and clearly the technological innovation has created a whole new industry in Texas.”

Where did those “technological innovations” come from? For New York Times readers, they just happen. But the fact is, innovation occurs in a kind of leave-it-alone economy. Texas, to the extent Washington allows it, has enjoyed just that kind of freedom.

I guess that’s just Rick Perry’s “good luck.”

UPDATE: How did I miss this the first time around? Look at the picture the NYT chose to illustrate the story, just below the headline.

It’s a month old — and Perry has done one or two things in the last couple weeks that might be more newsworthy than a news conference that the NYT couldn’t even determine what it was about. And, of course, it features that lucky braggart watching himself play football.

MORE: At The Atlantic, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend asks “is Rick Perry as Christian as he thinks he is?” That’s her big question in an article where she also reminds us that “the Bible is certainly open to interpretation,” and that “no one has a monopoly on faith.”

“Cognitive dissonance” must not have much meaning to Kathleen. Or “irony.”

Googarola: Patently Beastly?

August 15th, 2011 - 10:56 am

I understand why Google bought Motorola Mobility today — they need bigger battalions in the Patent Wars. But did they overpay? Maybe:

Google is paying a premium of 73 percent compared with Motorola Mobility’s 20-day trading average price before today. The average premium of more than 360 deals in the wireless- equipment industry on that basis was 32 percent in the past five years, according to Bloomberg data.

“This is a heck of a premium” said Lee Simpson, an analyst at Jefferies International in London. Motorola Mobility’s patents are “a good counterweight if Apple comes after Google.”

Apple has been quite carefully not going after Google. Instead, Apple has chosen to fight against its biggest Android-infused copycat manufacturers. Now that Google is becoming a manufacturer, via Moto, that could change.

Despite Android’s runaway success, Google has proven itself a not-very-adept cellphone maker. Google has released two name-branded phones, both built by other makers to Google’s specs. The first, the Nexus One, was something of a flop. Manufactured by HTC, it was supposed to be the flagship Android phone, but it never really took off.

Samsung was chosen to build the follow-up Nexus S. It has done better than its predecessor, but like many Android phones it’s gotten lost in the shuffle. That, by the way, is a feature of the Android ecosystem, not a bug. Google’s entire Android strategy is to make it available to anyone, and to get it on as many devices as possible. Still, that does make it more difficult for manufacturers to build standout phones — or for them to stand out for very long.

Anyway.

By design, it appears Google is going to wade willy-nilly into making its very own handsets. Maybe not — maybe it bought Moto purely for the patent portfolio. If so, that makes the 73% premium even harder to justify. So I’m betting that Googarola or whatever will soon be building Android handsets to put up against the best Android handsets from HTC, Samsung, and all the rest.

Right off the bat then, Google has given its Android OEMs a reason to flirt a bit with Microsoft, maybe take a quick peek under the skirts of Windows Phone 7. But that’s not all.

Google has never been much of a handset maker. Barring Android, Motorola hasn’t been an interesting handset maker for half a decade or longer. It’s profits are weak and the company is suffering product delays. Googarola is going to have to do something to make its products stand out from the crowd — a difficult feat in the Android world, as we’ve already discussed.

As I see it, Google has three ways to do that.

Premium hardware? That’s Apple’s niche. Aggressive pricing? That’s (unloved) Nokia’s specialty and, besides, it would be just another reason for Android OEMs to look to Microsoft. Google’s third option is: Unique flavors of Android no other manufacturers can get, if only for a while. Now there’s a way to Samsung and HTC racing to Windows Phone 7.

I suppose there’s a fourth option. Google could remain a tiny manufacturer. Which begs the question: Why bother? No, I think Google has its eyes set on gobbling up some of the massive profits Apple enjoys in the cellphone business. And that means going big.

Imagine if Microsoft swallowed Dell whole, and vertically integrated itself like Apple. Windows OEMs would have to start thinking very seriously about their dependence on Microsoft. MS would also set itself up for a mano y mano fight with the most beloved computer maker on the planet. And let’s be honest: A Microsoft-built box is just not going to garner the loyalty (and profit margins) that an MacBook Air does. Yet that’s the situation Google seems to have gotten itself into.

The whole point of Windows is that it runs on most any PC, anywhere — and cheaply. That’s what Android does, too. If I’m seeing this correctly, Google is trying and bootstrap Android from cheap-but-plentiful to pricy-and-exclusive. And they’ll have to do that without scaring off the OEMs who make the Android ecosystem work.

That’s a helluva tightrope to walk. It’s enough to make me wonder if Google paid the Moto premium just for the patents, after all.

In which case, yeah, they overpaid.

UPDATE: Blodget says, “It could end up being a disaster.”

GRUBER: “The Stepford Handset Makers.” They ain’t happy with Google right now.

INVESTORS: Aren’t happy, either. GOOG is down more than 2% already.

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls

August 15th, 2011 - 9:48 am

Warren Buffett: Tax me more!

Pat Buchanan: Put your money where your mouth is and pony up $5 billion right now.

That’s cute, Pat, and a nice little rebuke. But $5 billion wouldn’t cover much more than a day of new federal debt. Which is why the dirty little secret of Obamanomics is: They’re going to come after the middle class, and hard. Because that’s where the money is.

A Day Late and a Link Short

August 14th, 2011 - 9:58 am

A forgot to link The Week in Blogs — and it has John Kerry calling for media bias, the President focusing like a laser on jobs and the scariest creature you’ve ever seen… BARACULA!

Really, what was I thinking?

Checking In

August 14th, 2011 - 9:52 am

Just got back from four days of living in a tent in the woods — and nobody would have known I was gone, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids at YouTube.

I’ll get that thing fixed in a bit.

Meanwhile, I’m rested, bearded, and ready to tune into This Week with guest host Jake Tapper.

Honestly, a week without Christiane Amanpour is the best welcome home present a blogger could ask for.

Sign “O” the Times

August 13th, 2011 - 1:32 pm

What’s the opposite of “entrepreneurship?” It must be “Obamanomics.” A(n almost) sad tale of (nearly) just giving up in Texas:

Main Street Bank lends most of its money to small businesses and is earning decent profits. But the Kingwood, Texas, bank is about to get out of the banking business.

In an extreme example of the frustration felt by many bankers as regulators toughen their oversight of the nation’s financial institutions, Main Street’s chairman, Thomas Depping, is expected to announce Wednesday that the 27-year-old bank will surrender its banking charter and sell its four branches to a nearby bank.

Mr. Depping plans to set up a new lender that will operate beyond the reach of banking regulators—and the deposit-insurance safety net. Backed by the private investment firm of Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, the company won’t be able to call itself a bank, but it will be able to do business the way Mr. Depping wants.

“The regulatory environment makes it very difficult to do what we do,” says Mr. Depping, who last summer saw his bank hit with an enforcement order from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Call it, “going Midas Mulligan.”

Midas, you’ll recall, became the private banker to the residents of Galt’s Gulch, after regulators and courts convinced him it was better to close up shop.

Kittehs Rulez teh Innerwebs

August 13th, 2011 - 8:50 am

The debt ceiling explained — by cats.

Friday Night Videos

August 12th, 2011 - 7:09 pm

If you lost your virginity outdoors, anywhere from Indiana to Kansas, Minnesota to Missouri, then this is one song that will stick with you for just about ever.

The Burdens of Empire

August 12th, 2011 - 3:31 pm

It’s difficult to imagine, but US Fifth Fleet might soon be… homeless. Strategy Page has the story:

The United States is quietly looking for another country, on the west coast of the Persian Gulf, to host an American naval base. This is because months of political unrest in Bahrain has put the American base there in danger. So the U.S. Navy is looking at the possibility, and cost, of moving the Bahrain base to Dubai or Qatar. The navy is not happy about making the move, as it would be expensive and disruptive. But if the unrest in Bahrain continues, and escalates, there may be no choice.

I’m picturing an admiral on the streets of some dusty Arab town, holding up a sign saying “Will protect shipping lanes for shelter.”

The Next Big Thing is in Your Pocket

August 12th, 2011 - 11:30 am

Will the next big gaming console be your phone? Epic Games president Mike Capps is betting on iPhone 8 just a few years from now:

It’s about how do we deal with iPhone 8… if you watch where the gamers are going that’s where they are. Your iPhone 8 will probably plug into your TV, or better yet, wirelessly connect to your television set to give you that big screen gaming experience with good sound. So really, what’s the point of those next-gen consoles? It’s a very interesting situation to be looking at. That’s what we’re starting to think about more… not how do we scale from some Nintendo platform to some other future console.

That’s courtesy of Christian Zibreg, who adds:

Many people think Apple should launch a dedicated gaming console. Frankly, Apple may not even need a dedicated gaming hardware. iPad 2 and iPhone 4 already have capable GPUs that will only get better when the A6 chip comes out (some say it’s in test production now). The AirPlay technology can already wirelessly beam some games from your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to the big screen TV. And if Apple ever makes that rumored television set, they will have in place an end-to-end entertainment system, most likely cloud-based, that will be second to none. How do you rival that with a dedicated gaming hardware and decades-old business model that boils down to overpriced games distributed (mostly) exclusively on physical media?

I’d add Google in there, too, since Android has taken such a huge chunk of the smartphone market, and will probably — eventually, someday — do the same in tablets. Now they just need to figure out an app store model that works as well as Apple’s, and gets similar amounts of cash into the hands of developers.

But I’m not much of a gamer, and the few games I do sometimes play are almost all historical strategy titles from Strategy First — which don’t lend themselves at all to anything but a desktop computer. But the business of console games is fascinating, especially given that Apple and Google are poised to knock the legs out from under Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

Your Friday Morning Dose of Doom and Gloom

August 12th, 2011 - 5:25 am

Milton Wolf has a column detailing exactly how much damage ObamaCare is doing to the country now (lots), and how much it will burden the economy in the future (smothered to death). But one figure shocked me:

What’s worse, Obamacare is a parasite that threatens the very survival of its host economy. When Mr. Obama signed his namesake health care takeover into law in March 2010, he converted his wishful-thinking “recovery summer” into the Obama Depression. This before-and-after moment of the Obama presidency saw private-sector job creation plummet from a modest 67,600 new jobs per month to a flat line of 6,500. Compare that with the 285,800 jobs created per month under President Reagan during the similar time period in the 1980s.

If you’re about my age or older, you remember those heady days of 1984. Employment was skyrocketing, but better yet, so were real wages. In the 11 months leading up to Reagan’s reelection, personal income swelled more than seven percent. It’s the jobs-created figure that really needs to be put in perspective, however.

In Reagan’s recovery, we averaged 285,800 jobs each and every month. That was working from a population of 235 million, and a labor force almost exactly the same percentage of the population as it is today. So the overall population has increased by almost exactly 30% since 1984, and the labor participation rate has declined (dramatically) back down to where it was in 1984.

Do the math.

Starting in the “Recovery Summer” of two years ago, the Obama recovery should have been generating 371,540 jobs, on average, each and every month. Today, we still have fewer people working worse jobs for less pay than we did in 2009.

It’s no coincidence that the 371,540 figure is pretty much right in the middle of Joe Biden’s 2009 estimate that any month now, the economy would be generating between 250,000 and 500,000 jobs each month. “Any month now” was 28 months ago.

They really thought the jobs would come. They really did. They thought they could jump up and down on this economy and threaten its castigate the entrepreneurs and embolden the union leaches and swell the debt and everything would still come roaring back to life.

Well, it hasn’t Jobs creation is off by a factor of almost five, compared to 1984. And total full-time employment has actually decreased since then — the net gain has been in part-time work that nobody wants, but anyone will accept.

Could we at least see a repeat of 1984′s 7% increase in wages? Fuggidaboudit. And if you have any savings in something other than commodities, it’s either evaporating in the stock market crash, or sitting in your bank account and suffering the death of a thousand Bernankes.

The solution is strait-forward. It is also painful:

1. Stop borrowing.

2. Raise interest rates to protect the dollar.

3. Repeal the last 32 months worth of laws. Do it in one bill called “The Omnibus Do-Over Act of 2013.”

4. Lower marginal tax rates, eliminate deductions, broaden the base.

Oh, and hold a kick-ass election next year, or else you can’t even get to the first step.

In the meantime? We’re pretty much screwed.

Oh, fer crin’ out loud — maybe President Obama can’t learn on the job because he reads Harold Meyerson. Here’s the sage advice Meyerson is handing out in the Washington Post:

Mr. President, it’s time to go big on the economic solutions. It’s time to propose a massive second stimulus, offset by some serious tax hikes and budget cuts once the economy regains a semblance of good health. Republicans won’t go for it, but they don’t go for small economic solutions either, be they extensions of unemployment insurance or a miniaturized infrastructure bank. (The current level of GOP commitment to infrastructure would about cover the purchase of a Lego set.)

Economically, the case for a massive stimulus is a good deal stronger than the case for the rather minimal one that you’re calling for — extending unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut, and establishing an infrastructure bank. A major stimulus is the only conceivable source of substantially increased economic activity and jobs for at least several years.

I’m speechless. Just speechless.

The Patent Trial of the Century?

August 11th, 2011 - 8:29 am

Google: “Don’t be evil — except for stealing stuff.”

You Never Go Full Sose

August 11th, 2011 - 7:25 am

Trifecta: It’s time for President Obama to strike fear into the hearts of his political opponents — and go full Keyser Sose.

Returning to the gold standard makes so much sense — in theory. And even the briefest thought of taking control of the currency away from Washington sends a thrill down my leg. “Money they can’t monkey with,” would be a fine slogan for the campaign, don’t you think?

But getting back to a gold standard in practice reminds me a lot of asking for directions in Maine: “You can’t get there from here.” Where is the government going to get the gold? What price would sellers accept for it, given that our finances are in such good shape? And what confidence would people have in a new gold standard? After all, we used to have one, until it was squandered away by Washington, starting with FDR and ending with Nixon.

Fool me once, shame on me — now git yer cotton pickin’ hands off my gold.

There’s one way to get back to the gold standard I’d never thought of before: By fiat. And that’s what occurred to me when I read that gold just passed $1,800 an ounce, and is maybe on its way to $2,500 by year’s end.

That’s not to say the price of gold will go up forever. Obviously, no. Every bubble pops.

But what if we’re not seeing a bubble? Oh, the price will eventually rise too high and then come back down — but not all the way back down. But what if we’re witnessing something else? What if we’re seeing people move de facto to a gold standard — by fiat, to get out from under the endless piles of fiat paper money coming out of Washington.

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Never Straight But Gayly Forward

August 10th, 2011 - 3:53 pm

GOProud ends its silence after getting the boot as CPAC sponsors:

ACU board members do, however, have a legitimate argument for excluding the group. The conservative movement has long depended upon the unity of a coalition consisting of those who advocate economic liberty, strong national defense, and traditional moral values. “Movement conservatives cannot be expected to agree on everything,” says board member Morton Blackwell. “But no group which insists on the incompatibility of a major element of the conservative movement should have a formal role at CPAC.

GOProud, of course, doesn’t buy it. “Half of our membership is not gay,” says Barron. “It is perposerious for me to believe that those people cannot be social conservatives. I mean, hell, Ann coulter is chair of our advisory council.”

“Dick Cheney has a more progressive position on marriage than GOProud does,” adds Barron, who is, himself, married to a man (Barron obviously believes in gay marriage, but GOProud avoids the issue, arguing it should be left up to the states to decide).

As Stacy McCain likes to say, you can’t build a movement by a process of subtraction.

Another thing to remember: The future will be even more gay-friendly than today. So until it changes its ways, CPAC is not the future.

Not All He’s Plouffed Up to Be

August 10th, 2011 - 12:14 pm

Rand Simberg wrote a short little ditty on President Obama’s fading hopes, but the last line will strike you:

I hope that they continue to nurture this myth, though, because it will result in many mistakes in the campaign next year from hubris (including keeping people like Plouffe and Axelrod, who mistook their own luck for brilliance).

Re-read the parenthetical part one more time. Every time I see Plouffe and Axelrod on TV, they both speak and strut like Masters of the Universe. But Rand is on to something here — it’s all based on willful — gleeful! — self-delusion.

A Simple Plan

August 10th, 2011 - 10:08 am

Trifecta: Congressman Connie Mack has a shockingly simple plan to lower federal spending: cut one penny a year for every dollar spent by the federal government. Can it work? Find out.

“Jimmy Carter Is the best-case scenario.”

August 10th, 2011 - 8:15 am

The Carter comparisons to President Obama are coming fast and furious now, even coming from at least one Senate Democrat. Nobody who wanted to go on the record with his name, of course — but just wait. It won’t be too much longer now before somebody slips, whether on accident or on purpose.

For a while now, Glenn Reynolds has argued that “Jimmy Carter is the best-case scenario” for Obama — because it’s been pretty obvious for a while now. But it’s only this morning that I figured out the why.

Carter, for all his silly notions, learned on the job and came up with some decent policies — eventually.

Jimmuh was dealt an extremely weak hand on national defense, probably the weakest in the post-war era. The armed forces — especially the Army — were making the slow and painful transition to an all-volunteer force. Drugs were still a problem, and a sense of defeat still hung in the air after Vietnam. Public trust in the armed forces was at an all-time low. Carter couldn’t have engaged in any successful saber-rattling with the Soviets, even had he been inclined to. Instead, Carter made human rights the cornerstone of America’s foreign policy, setting the stage for Reagan’s “evil empire” speech. It was a weak policy, yes — but the best he could do given a weak hand. And when the invasion of Afghanistan made Soviet expansionism became too much to bear, Carter changed course. The defense buildup under Reagan really began under Carter.

Faced with inflation, Carter appointed inflation hawk Paul Volcker to head the Fed. Reagan kept him on for a second term. Faced with a weak economy, Carter undid New Deal transportation cartels. The man could and did learn on the job.

Was he perfect? Ha! Carter remained hostile to Israel under every circumstance, he never gained a clue on energy policy, and Iran’s newly-empowered mullahs embarrassed him (and all of us) on the world stage again and again.

Carter’s biggest failure wasn’t bad policy prescriptions. Some of his were terrible, but many he was willing and able to correct midcourse. Carter’s main failure was a failure of leadership. When we needed reassurance, he proved feckless. When we needed inspiration, he told us to lower our expectations. Carter could have been policy perfect from the beginning to the end of his administration — but he still would have lasted only one term.

Jimmy Carter could not lead this nation. He couldn’t lead the way out of a wet paper bag. He couldn’t lead a dog to kibble. Jimmy Carter is a bad leader.

Which brings us to President Barack Obama.

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We’ve Only Just Begun to Riot

August 9th, 2011 - 4:21 pm

Prepping to shoot Trifecta left me no time at all to think up any thoughts, much less to write down any words, about the London riots. And by now, many others have done such a great job of it.

But I will say this: The riots will get worse before they get better, and they won’t be confined to a soggy, green isle north of France. Not by a longshot.

Will the White House Play the Mormon Card?

August 9th, 2011 - 1:55 pm

It’s hope and change and the politics of personal destruction:

Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s re-election campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee.

The dramatic and unabashedly negative turn is the product of political reality. Obama remains personally popular, but pluralities in recent polling disapprove of his handling of his job and Americans fear the country is on the wrong track. His aides are increasingly resigned to running for re-election in a glum nation. And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.

I’m not sure that’s exactly news. Anyone who pays attention to politics knows that when someone can’t run on his achievements, they’ll smear the other guy. That’s not Democrat or Republican, that just is.

But dig down into the story and get to the deeply weird:

The onslaught would have two aspects. The first is personal: Obama’s re-elect will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, “weird.”

[SNIP]

“There’s a weirdness factor with Romney and it remains to be seen how he wears with the public,” said the adviser.

I read “weird” to mean “Mormon.” Does anything else really fit?

And, yes, I do believe that Barack Obama will smear an entire faith — paint Mitt Romney and millions of Americans as “weird” — just to get four more years.

You believe it, too.

A Horrible End to a Horrible Day

August 9th, 2011 - 12:32 pm

Trifecta: SEAL Team Six was caught in what is believed to be a Taliban trap. These heroes were best known for their assault on bin Laden’s compound. How does this influence our troops overseas and combat in Afghanistan? Find out as we remember SEAL Team Six, and analyze Obama’s response to this horrible attack.