Work and Days

The Long Hot Summer

McCain, where art thou?

The good news is that the so-called Newsweek poll went from having McCain 15 points down to just 3. That said, McCain is going to have to focus his campaign on just 3-4 themes, and then sharpen them, simplify them, and contrast them with Obama. E.g…

The War: Our aims are victory, and we will leave each region of Iraq as our victory on the ground allows us to turn another province over to Iraqi security forces. While my opponent Senator Obama flips and flops to match the polls, I am constant in my views—Iraq is winnable and the surge is working to an astonishing degree. That’s why the Iraqi democracy is stabilizing and reclaiming control from the terrorists. My opponent wanted all US troops out by March 2008 which would have led to our defeat five months ago and the victory of al Qaeda.

Money: Tax cuts led to greater aggregate revenues. Deficits grew due to uncontrolled federal spending. I’ll keep the money-earning tax stimuli and cut spending; my opponent will raise taxes that will stifle economic growth and cut our income, and yet spend even more money on dubious expanded federal entitlements, as our deficits grow even larger.

Energy: I’m as much for wind, solar, and conservation as Barack Obama. But for now at present rates of consumption and production, we will go bankrupt in the transition to green energy. So I will drill off the coast, develop tar sands and shale, use clean coal, and build more refineries and nuclear power plants to ensure that we don’t keep sending trillions to our enemies, that we don’t leave our poor without transportation and heating, that we don’t allow sloppy foreign state energy companies to pollute the planet, and that we don’t bankrupt our treasury. My opponent is captive to radical environmentalists whose restrictive policies helped to get us into this mess; he’ll talk about green power, as we go broke and run out fuel listening.

Illegal Immigration: We can talk all we want about “comprehensive immigration reform” but it won’t matter if we don’t close the border—now. I will; my opponent won’t. Close the border now, and all the contentious issues—amnesty, guest workers, fines and deportation—can be dealt with as the pool of illegal aliens shrinks rather grows.

Tony Snow, rip…

In 2003 I was the visiting Shifrin Professor at the US Naval Academy, and did a few Sunday morning appearances and other things with Tony Snow in the DC Fox studio. I remember how he came in with cut-offs and a tie and coat above for the camera, with an infectious laugh and aw shucks persona. I liked him a lot, and later did his radio show a few times, and saw him at some DC events. The chorus that he was “a nice guy” is exactly the impression I got every time. But one thing I noticed was that he had an excellent memory and could remember the exact details of our past conversations despite months in-between.

His decision to lecture nonstop while very very sick to take care of his family reminds me of Grant with throat cancer refusing opiates so that he could finish his memoirs (after the disastrous collapse of Grant and Ward that bankrupted him). He did just that and the royalties kept his family going years after Grant died (remember the sad photo of Grant under a blanket writing furiously at Mount MacGregor).

Nothing is more demanding than the lecture circuit (up at 5 AM to fly 9 hrs in and out airports, the mandatory pre-talk dinner, the lecture, the hostile questions, the media interview, and often the next day teaching a class or additional meetings, and then the travel back [I’d rather disk on a Massey for 14 hrs in the summer than fly to NY for a university lecture and fly back]). How Snow kept at with metastasized colon cancer and radiation/chemotherapy is almost inexplicable.

In the last two (wierdly bad) years, I’ve had a ruptured appendix and the resulting mess taken out on a wooden table in a Red Crescent clinic in Libya, , and subsequent peritonitis, and another operation for kidney stones, in addition to passing 5-6 jagged stones in the last 12 months and having 15 root canals and crowns since December in an effort to save my teeth (apparently soft teeth connected with the stone-making), all the while speaking about 35 times out-of-state per year. On bad days, I would often think of Snow and realize how minor my own ailments were in comparison–and again wonder how he did it.

Drilling is the thing

Almost every argument against more drilling, shale, tar sands, etc. is a loser in political terms. Saying it will take “10 years” and therefore not worth it is equally applicable to claiming cutting carbon emissions will take “20 years” and therefore silly. The notion that ANWR will only shave off a few cents from the price of a gallon of gas is equally bankrupt given the multifarious sources–coast, continental shelf, shale, etc.–we could draw upon for another million barrels a day each. And “we can’t drill our way out of it” is equally stupid, since no one is advocating increased production in a vacuum–but rather concurrent conservation, wind and solar, electric cars etc. Drilling is a transitional solution to get us to new energies without going bankrupt and empowering our enemies.

This is an explosive political issue–“To Drill or Not to Drill—that is the question!”
I wonder…

1. When universities open their for-profit, cash-garnering campuses in the oil-rich Middle East, do they extend their “oppression studies” curriculum as well. I mean does a Saudi petroleum engineering major, like his American counterpart, take a gender studies requirement, mutatis mutandis, learning how his gender-apartheid society harms women? Do Dubai pre-medical students in US overseas campuses learn about the evils of slavery in an African-experience course, especially how 11 million African slaves were shipped to the Arab, Muslim world? Or is such instruction left behind at the American shore, money trumping the gospel of multi-culturalism? If you think about it, a certain sort of truth emerges—that such oppression studies are felt even by those who peddle them to be unserious, since they wouldn’t dare offer them to those who in theory might need them the most. Business trumps PC?

2. How many of Barack Obama prescriptions for a better America apply to himself? Does he live a healthy lifestyle of the sort he advocates for the rest of us? A cold home, no SUV , smaller portions of food (smoking is a taboo subject)? Does he speak Spanish as the rest of us are supposed to? Is he multilingual, speaking French in Paris, Italian in Rome? Or is he simply glib, sputtering two words of French as he castigates Americans with the typical stereotypes, the notion that the Ivy Leaguer need not speak foreign languages since elite liberalism is in itself a sort of annoited creed that exempts its adherents from living the life one advocates for others?

3. How many celebrity spokespeople for environmental causes, whether an Al Gore or Laurie David or various English rock-stars, have made a pledge not to fly on private jets, live in homes larger than 3000 square feet, or drive Lexus, Mercedes or Volvo SUVs?

I could go on and on, but we all get the picture. The problem this time is that while Obama is very much a condescending Kerry redux, the Bush problem, the Congressional Republican collapse, and Obama’s racial transcendence rhetoric give him advantages Kerry never had.