Archive for the ‘Political Animals’ Category
Attending a conservative conference, even after a losing political season, encourages people. Liberals even when winning, mope. Conservatives, when losing, drink and have a good time anyway. Well, they usually do. That hasn’t been the case for the last two years. Conservative gatherings have been depressing and sometimes, strife-filled.
Not this Labor Day weekend in Dallas, Texas, though. The Americans for Prosperity leadership picked a weekend after school started in Texas, picked a state that is an instant sweat bath in August, and decided it would be a good idea to ask activists to listen to politics and policy rather than eat dogs and burgers and drink beer and watch football on Labor Day weekend. And still, the people came.
More than 3000 very excited, energized conservative-libertarian activists descended on Dallas and joy abounded. Ronald Reagan would be proud of the happy warriors here.
“…the new message is that preaching to the choir isn’t going to advance the message or persuade those who either disagree or are uninformed and whose hearts and minds we need to win.
In fact, overwhelmingly, the discussion in sessions and speeches is that techniques that work on conservatives are likely to backfire when talking to those who are receptive to conservative principles but are predisposed to reject the buzzwords usually associated with them.”
The happy warriors speaking the language of building bridges to disaffected Obama voters should scare the Democrats. The conservative depression has lifted.
Based on this sold out conference, the right is back.
Cool girls fade out and become less interesting the minute they have a real thought. Otherwise, they’re just entertaining, frothy nothingburgers–an idealistic creation to make people feel better. At least, that’s my sum up of this piece about Jennifer Lawrence and the “cool girls” before her.
Pardon me if I don’t get so overwrought about this. Every once in a while, a woman comes along who has male interests, enjoys the company of men because of those interests, and she’s also incredibly beautiful. What the less pretty or less talented or more stereotypically female or as tomboyish but less feminine women don’t understand is that this girl, then woman, isn’t trying to be something. She is this person.
What can she do but be what she is?
In Lawrence’s case, she’s self-deprecating. She admits to be a virtual shut in. She isn’t a gad about (i.e. screwing around with male stars in succession). She is beautiful. She has a job. It’s not a world-changing job. It’s not a self-sacrificial job (like being a nun or nurse or fire fighter). It’s acting.
Jane Fonda’s job was to act. She was good at that. And then she changed the equation. She used her beauty and platform to lecture Americans about what they should believe. She changed her job title from actress to activist. Well, okay, that’s her choice. But don’t get angry when her fan base dries up because they disagree with her politics.
Sean Penn’s politics are naive and kinda make people hate him. They don’t hate him because he’s beautiful. They hate him because he’s stupid and uses his platform as a spoiled, rich actor to rail against the very system that benefitted him. Fonda is in the same category.
Are people bigoted against the “cool guy”?
If Jennifer Lawrence’s star falls, it will be because everyone likes to see the guy at the top topple. It’s a nasty reality of success. Once a person achieves it, there are multiple people who would love to see the person fail.
Jennifer Lawrence mitigates that far fall by stumbling over herself. She takes herself down a notch–whether it’s conscious or not. So, average person sees the beautiful, bawdy Ms. Lawrence and remembers falling at a wedding and doesn’t feel so envious. They pull for her because she’s human.
Well, most pull for her. For some, she can’t fall enough. One wonders what a woman must do to please other women.
Barack Obama exasperates Vladimir Putin. How is it in the U.S.’s interest, Putin wonders, to have complete chaos in the Middle East? Doesn’t President Obama understand that a Qaddafi or Mubarek is preferable to blood in the streets and radical Islam in charge? And why would you leave a potentially winning hand on the Iraq table when you’re pot committed? Why play small?
The exasperation galvanized Putin. If Obama will be weak, someone needs to be strong and it might as well be him. So, Putin humiliated the President in the New York Times. He negotiated in Syria. He’s giving his blessing to candidates in Egypt. He’s bullying the Ukraine. In short, Putin is filling the vacuum. Who will stop him?
Still, for a strong man like Putin, who deals in measures of strength as a commodity, President Obama’s unnecessary weakness makes little sense. Certainly, President Obama’s ideology isn’t that distant from Putin’s. In fact, President Obama has consistently advanced a quasi-socialist America–increased taxation, increased redistribution, an enlarged and empowered state, more regulation, more central control, media harassment and threats, using the government to investigate political opposition, etc. All these decisions, while not nakedly Marxist, certainly aren’t limiting the state and shrinking its power.
So why wouldn’t this statist aggression be pushed around the world?
Here is where President Obama differs from President Putin: Vladamir Putin loves Russia and views the state as an extension of himself. In contrast, President Obama does not like America. Further, he views his own country and people with suspicion. President Obama believes in worldwide redistribution and believes that Americans don’t deserve their power, wealth, or status. So, he cedes it or straight up gives it away.
President Obama’s loathing for colonial powers makes him averse to using the US’ power on the world scene even when it makes him personally look weak and pathetic.
For Putin, the notion of separation of self and state is absurd. He is a Russian. He is proud of his country. He is fond of communism. He chafes at the loss of power and face since the days when the Soviet Union split up. He seeks to regain glory for the state of Russia and by extension, himself.
Obama is a man divided. He wants personal prestige but he is not willing to claim it if it means making America look great. So, he’ll give a grand speech in Egypt, but he won’t make a grand decision there. He’ll say provocative words to the Russian president, but he won’t do anything.
We Americans can take little solace in President Obama’s playing small on the world stage. He doesn’t like America very much except to the extent it makes him a media personality. As long as he wins a Charles Barkley interview while expanding the state, that’s enough. Being a celebrity trumps being a statesman.
So expect more weakness on the world stage. Expect Vladimir Putin to fill the void. Expect China to test limits. Expect more turbulence and confusion. Expect more tyranny. Expect more communism.
Don’t expect President Obama to care about America’s interests. He’s too busy tending his own.
Related to this: Jonah Goldberg has a piece up today about the Nazis and socialism. It’s an interesting read. What occurred to me, though, is that Obama is a “true” Marxist in contrast to, say, Putin. Obama is an internationalist. He wants all the worlds workers to unite. That’s why he cheerleaded Chavez (fist bump!) and seemed unworried about the Muslim Brotherhood a thoroughly socialist organization with socialist goals.
As Jonah notes, the dewy eyed world proletariat uprising fails when faced with reality as nation states have their own aims and they often conflict (see Nazis versus Stalinists). Does President Obama have provincial American concerns? Does he worry about America’s loss of face in the world if the proletariat in Egypt or Libya or China or Russia wins? It sure doesn’t seem like it.
So the Daily Kos kids are being their typical selves: piling on their ideological opposition during a time of trouble to score political points. Caleb Howe, a military veteran, wonderful writer, and friend has been going through some difficult times that have culminated in him being in critical condition in the hospital.
For a lefty who makes everything political, this was the response:
So of course you want to repeal Obamacare. And what the fuck is your apparent “solution”? A tin cup on your website?
He says this as though a tin cup is a bad thing. Charity is a good thing. It comes from people’s hearts. Caleb and his family know they are loved. Every donation (well, most) is a message of goodwill and kindness.
Unlike medicare, medicaid and now Obamacare, charity is less likely to be abused, overused, or overextended. Who wants to exploit their friend’s love? No one. Well, no decent person.
And no decent person would so enjoy the suffering of another person.
Since this has been made into a political discussion, it’s worthwhile to point out that conservatives believe in helping the truly needy. This is what Medicaid was for–not as a catchall insurance program for everyone.
Also, here’s what the hospital will do for Caleb or anyone in a similar situation: they’ll assess his ability to pay and then bill him a small amount each month until they forgive the debt or it’s paid off. I’ve known people who pay $5 a month. Most hospitals were/are have Christian and charitable missions.
That’s America. It’s not a perfect system, to be sure. And improvements to the health care system were needed, but to claim that Obamacare would make Caleb’s situation better and ignore the harm that’s already being done by the legislation, is just willful political exploitation.
Worse, than the political, though, is the personal. The coarsening of our interaction and dehumanization is the biggest loss. Money comes and goes but community bonds and compassion abide. Well, I’d like to think they do, anyway.
Giving a dollar out of spite so you can say something nasty to man who might die and saying it in a place where his wife, children, and extended family will read it, well. What it says about you trumps any political point you hoped to make.
Those raising money for Caleb are almost to $25,000. Please help if you can: Go Fund Me.
On a personal note, Caleb’s girls are dancers and quite good and that’s expensive. Having a dad who can’t work means losing opportunities. These donations will help them pursue their dreams while their dad gets well.
Wishing Caleb and his family wholeness and healing.
A great moment (maybe the only great moment) of the 2013 Oscars didn’t happen during the ceremony; it happened in the interview after with Jennifer Lawrence. In the interview, a reporter asked her: “You’re not worried that you’ll peak too soon?”
Jennifer Lawrence replied,“Well now I am!” [Go to the 1:12 mark for the funny.]
In the same way, Barack Obama has repeatedly introduced ideas that no one, save him it seems, had considered. President Obama has helpfully clarified the following:
“We don’t want to tax all businesses out of business,” Obama said. “But we do think that there’s a role to play for government.”
The truth leaks out. Everyone wants their true desires to be viewed as normative. The first step is to verbalize the desires–make them okay.
Questioner: “So, you didn’t get cookies and milk after school, then?”
Psychopath: “My mom wasn’t a bad person.” (No one had said she was.)
Questioner: “Did you have any sisters or brothers?”
Psychopath: “Children are safe with me.” (Who mentioned safety?)
Get the idea?
President Obama keeps answering questions no one is asking or no one is fearing–well, until he mentions it, of course.
Was I worried about him being a dictator? Well, I am now.
Was I worried about him taxing all business out of business? Kinda. But I really am now.
People have tuned out President Obama’s incessant droning. That’s a mistake. As he feels more emboldened and untouchable, he’s saying what he really thinks and it’s disturbing.
Shorter Dan Pfeiffer: It’s none of your business how the Prez handled Benghazi the night of and it’s a conspiracy theory to ask.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) May 19, 2013
The reason the White House won’t answer the question about where Obama was during Benghazi is because it speaks ill of him either way:
1. He was in the situation room the whole time and denied aid to our people dying in Benghazi.
2. He went to bed (or some other recreational activity) which would be interpreted as a dereliction of duty and reflect poorly on him.
If the buck stops at him (it does no matter where he was), he’s in trouble.
The buck stopping anywhere else during this fiasco makes him look like an impotent rube.
As Ed Morrisey says:
Out: “Bush read My Pet Goat for 7 minutes during a terrorist attack!” In: Where Obama was all night during a terrorist attack: irrelevant
— EdMorrissey (@EdMorrissey) May 19, 2013
You should know that reading to children for seven minutes and then getting to a secured location is totally like going to Vegas, baby!
BTW, George Bush read The Pet Goat to school children while we were being attacked then fled to La. rather than return to DC.
— Brad Woodhouse (@woodhouseb) May 19, 2013
And the press will nod affirmatively and with full credulity.
When the BBC hosts pilloried me about remaining mute and not opinionating in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, I noted that it seems like we should at least be quiet until families are notified. It’s unseemly to be politicizing a very personal tragedy.
“This isn’t about politics,” one host shrieked,”it’s about GUNS!”
I responded,”Well, the solution to the gun issue the president brought up would be political.”
The host continued by saying that he felt the reason I hadn’t written about the tragedy and that the NRA hadn’t spoken about it was because we were ashamed. I countered with the fact that I was, presently, talking to the BBC about the tragedy and defending Americans rights to keep and bear arms. I was not ashamed to defend that.
But I was ashamed that defending the Constitution had to be done in this way at this time.
It was unsettling. It was too soon. And yet, someone had to push back against the philistines willing to ride on the backs of dead children to pursue their political agenda. And though sickened, I spoke up.
Jonah Goldberg captures this disgust nicely. Please read his whole post. Here’s a snippet:
I haven’t written much about the Newtown shooting. I did write my first column of the week about it because I felt I had to chime in. But I resented it. Maybe it’s because I’m becoming too sentimental about kids. Maybe it’s because I’m sick to death of death. Maybe it’s some other personal failing on my part, but I nonetheless resent being dragged into the political maw so quickly after a bunch of little kids were picked off by a madman with a gun. I agree with 90% of the things written by my colleagues about guns and gun control and the second amendment over the last week, but I nonetheless find it a bit grotesque that it’s necessary for anyone to be celebrating or defending guns before these little, little, kids have even been buried. It feels indecent to me.
It is indecent.
No, your ends do not justify these means.
I have to wonder: Do the folks indulging in this orgie of political posturing know loss and death? Are they so distanced from sorrow that they cannot empathize with the parents and suffering families? Are they such zealots for their cause that they’re willing to step on a heap of dead children to fight for it? Do they not see what they’re doing?
Maybe it’s just that when you’re a humanist, your instinct is to blame humans. If your worldview is that people are essentially good, that they’ve been nurtured wrong, or society failed, and then evil, evil guns were around, then blaming parents, doctors, teachers, gun manufacturers, “society” is the route one goes. And this time, the usual blamable subjects don’t quite fit that worldview. The boy’s mother, school officials, psychologists, everyone, were trying to do something to help him. The boy couldn’t be helped or wasn’t helped soon enough. Maybe he didn’t want to be helped.
So, it’s the guns and people who have guns who are evil. Someone must be blamed.
It is devastating to look at the deaths of twenty children and see the horror unfold in a lovely community (that did all the right gun control things) and for evil to still happen.
One feels helpless.
Helplessness is the natural human state. Humanists just live under an illusion — more laws, or better people, or the right resources will make all societal ills vanish. No, they won’t.
And so, we see folks fighting like badgers about guns, because it feels like Something Can Be Done. It’s better to be angry and active, then passive and helpless.
Rather than talking about guns or laws or even mental illness, Professor Kennedy talked about the nature of man, of suffering, and of our walk on the earth. To me, it seems like we should be talking about those things.
Instead, we’re talking about guns. It is, as Jonah says, indecent.
There is burying the lede, and then there’s burying the lede. In this case, the whole article can be flushed if only one reads the last line:
“When Republicans and conservatives once again start asking my opinion, I will know they are on the road to recovery.”
What could have been…. What could be…. If only….
It’s not that I disagree with everything Bruce says, because I don’t. It’s that he’s wrong enough about so much which causes me to question the areas where I agree with him.
P.S. I read the New York Times. Does the fact that I’m still searching for that Benghazi exposé make me a right-wing nutter?
P.P.S. That Krugman is being touted as a towering intellectual giant and some sort of litmus test for inclusive thinking, uh, please… And how, out of one side of your mouth do you dislike Medicare Part D but love Keynesism out of the other? Oh never mind, this isn’t about making sense. This is about feeling spurned and superior. It’s the same thing with his best buds Andrew Sullivan and David Frum. Maybe they can build a treehouse and decry epistemic cloture together. All by themselves. Just them.
You can watch election coverage hosted by Tony Katz and featuring commentators and activists across the country here:
Starts at 6 pm eastern. See you then!
When John McCain suspended his campaign after finally having some positive momentum post-Palin’s electrifying RNC speech, I knew it was over. It was quite possibly the dumbest political move I had ever seen and at that point, politics had been my focus for only three years.
Disheartened and discouraged, I soldiered on because Barack Obama would be, well, what he was: Bad for the economy, bad for international relations, and generally contemptuous of anyone who did not see things his way. It’s been worse than I imagined.
I joked on Twitter that I’d vote for a roasted turnip over Barack Obama.
My choice lost the GOP primary. I thought I was stuck voting for a turnip. I’ve been wrong. It has been a pleasant surprise.
Mitt Romney has shown himself to be an able, flexible, proactive campaigner. He’s had the press nearly universally against him and cheerfully plowed forward.
Strategically, Mitt is never put off by Obama’s silly mind games. The press’ obsession with Romney non-gaffes over Obama’s actual missteps has been … I’m at a loss for words. Put it this way: The press has so staked its existence on Barack Obama that it has decided to go down with the ship. No rats flee. No rats even attempt modest objectivity. And still, Mitt stays on his positive, pro-American message.
Policy wise, Mitt seems technocratic. That is, he doesn’t dislike government, per se, he dislikes how it is managed, and by golly, he’s going to do some restructuring.
Romney’s urge to reorder should comfort Democrats terrified that the business of government is going away with a Republican. President Romney sees a bureaucracy worth saving. That should inspire Dems, but no.
The Democrat position seems to be “Just as I am Lord.” Please, leave every bloated agency fat and inefficient. Keeping the agency and trimming the fat? Unthinkable.
Now, I go to the kill-the-agency-then-burn-it-in-a-fire school of government thought. I’m likely to be disappointed by Romney’s trimming of the verge.
Still, trimming is better than growing.
Here’s what’s surprised me about Mitt: I thought he was more of a nobless-oblige driven blue blood like George W. Bush. Oh, I know GW is from Texas. But underneath is a north-easterner who feels, like Obama, that the little people just can’t quite take care of themselves. It lead to many maddening policies.
Mitt is not that guy. Mitt’s midwestern sensibilities have hung on more than I thought. In addition, choosing to be a self-made man has given him confidence not only in himself but in people.
There’s an underlying lack of faith that statists have in people. They believe people incapable of self-sufficiency. Thus, laws have to be written to “protect” the citizen from himself. Mitt doesn’t seem to believe that. He has a live and let-live attitude and a firm faith in people. The attitude is refreshing.
When I get discouraged at the economic misery, I remind myself that multiple states have enjoyed quiet but quite solid turn arounds with good policy. Wisconsin and Indiana come immediately to mind. Bobby Jindal has been righting the Louisiana ship. This is happening all over America and it’s encouraging. California is a notable exception. Illinois seems to be a few disastrous steps behind.
Still, those turnarounds remind me that America is not lost. The situation is dire. There can be no doubt that whomever is elected faces some nearly impossibly difficult choices. My concern is that Barack Obama would just avoid them and his indecision would be a decision.
Mitt Romney will make the decisions. Some will be tough. They are bound to displease someone–all big decisions do, but what choice do we have? Doesn’t it feel like time is up?
So, it was easy for me to vote for Mitt Romney. Not as a defensive position, but as a positive decision. Maybe Mitt is just the man for the season. Maybe he can manage this failing state out of its bankruptcy. I say maybe not because I doubt his abilities but because the task is so formidable.
The media, left, and poll watchers seem 84% convinced that Barack Obama is a shoe-in. Or, it’s tied 48-48. 47-47. The models have Obama running away with the electoral college.
In my bones, I don’t believe this. Some states are going to be lost, no doubt. But this guaranteed result? Bah.
Vote. I feel good about my Mitt vote and you should, too.