Don't Let Me Stop You

What the heck, you'll do what you want anyway.

South Park and Self-Censorship

Posted by Dan Draney on April 25, 2010

DIrka dirka. Mohammed jihad.

You may have missed it, but this week Comedy Central censored an episode of South Park. As you can probably guess, this was not done in response to agitation by a Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Zoroastrian, or even atheist group. It was done in response to death threats against the creators of South Park by a member of what we refer to as The Religion of Peace. Despite all the talk on the left about Christians representing some budding theocratic threat, there is only one religion, Islam, that issues death threats at the drop of a cartoon.

This particular episode satirized Islam’s kooky (and rather selective, in that it only applies to infidels) outrage at any depiction of Mohammad, and it featured a cartoon Mohammad in a bear suit.

Meanwhile our national media never seem to miss a chance to miss a chance to defend free speech against those who threaten violence against those who jeopardize their free speech rights by exercising them. As Diana West writes:

No other American “name” I can think of, no one tops in pop culture, has spoken out against (or even mentioned) the Islamic threat to Western freedom of expression as exemplified by the Sharia dictates against “Motooning.” Certainly no one has produced creative content about it.

Rather, such dictates have been religiously followed — no pun whatsoever intended — just as though our society were itself officially Islamic. This makes “South Park’s” message the closest thing yet to a mainstream declaration of independence from Sharia. For rejecting both the threat of violence and the emotional blackmail emanating from Islam over critiquing Islam’s prophet, the two “South Park” creators deserve a medal.

“They’re courageous — no doubt that they are,” said Bill O’Reilly of Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor” this week. He was discussing the Islamic death threats against Parker and Stone that, naturally, followed the recent “South Park” Muhammad episode.

The threats came in a jihadist video (caption: “Help Us Remove the Filth”) portraying the writer-producers as likely victims of Islamic violence along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Salman Rushdie, Geert Wilders, Kurt Westergaard and Lars Vilks. A photo of the slain body of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, his head nearly cut off on an Amsterdam, Netherlands, street in 2004 by a jihadist assassin, served as an example.

Rather than praise Parker’s and Stone’s courage, however, O’Reilly went on to disparage their judgment.

“Was it the smart thing to do in light of the Danish cartoonist and van Gogh?” he asked. “It’s harmless to me,” he continued about the episode in question. “But if you are a hard-core jihadist, any mention of Muhammad in any kind of way, particularly if you’re poking fun at him, is a capital offense.”

Way to “look out for the folks,” Bill. Jon Stewart to his great credit, had an extensive piece about the incident on The Daily Show, ending with a “gospel chorus” singing, “Go f*ck yourself.”

Dan Savage has suggested a perfect response we all can participate in: an Everybody Draw Mohammed Day festival.

When the original Mohammad Cartoon Controversy erupted, it played out in the US with most people never even seeing the cartoons involved. Since one can’t discuss the controversy intelligently without actually seeing the cartoons, I put them on Flickr and linked to them from DLMSY. The Flickr interface is a bit clunky, so I will reproduce them here in the next post.

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Posted in Islam, Mohammed cartoons, terrorism | 1 Comment »

Blacks, the Media, and the Tea Parties

Posted by Dan Draney on April 22, 2010

Lloyd Marcus is a talented, singer-songwriter and Tea Party Patriot. He’s also a Big Problem for those peddling the official line on the “threat” posed by the Tea Party Movement:

Liberal mainstream media all but call me an Uncle Tom. Their reports imply that I am a token black too stupid to realize that I am being used by the tea party movement. In typical liberal mainstream media arrogance, they are totally blind to the blatant racism of their reporting.

Because I do not fit the liberal mainstream media’s “all blacks must vote Democrat and believe that America is racist and unjust” template, I must be an idiot. As a matter of fact, because I am a black man who loves his country and proclaims that America is the greatest land of opportunity on the planet for all who choose to go for it, much of the liberal media consider me dangerous and even wish me harm.

The liberal mainstream media are relentless in their quest to portray the tea party patriots as racist. And yet, I have performed my song, “American Tea Party Anthem,” at over 150 tea parties, been treated like a rock star, and have even seen signs which read, “Lloyd Marcus for President!” Not one tea party attendee has ever called me the N-word.

Read the rest at American Thinker: Blacks, the Media, & the Tea Parties.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

My Day in Two Pictures

Posted by Dan Draney on April 22, 2010

I was thrilled to see this on my Facebook page today. Have I mentioned that Best of the Web Today is totally awesome?

The second picture is provided by my friend, Seorse, the Irish Texan.

Où est la plume de ma tante?

Posted in random stuff | 3 Comments »

Trust in Government

Posted by PLaplace on April 22, 2010

Daniel Henninger has an excellent column in the Wall Street Journal today about a new Pew Research Center poll on the people’s trust in the government at both the national and state level.  Henninger likens the results to a “no confidence” vote in government, and I’m inclined to agree with him.  The whole article is well worth reading.

Digging deeper into the numbers though, I made an interesting discovery.  Throughout the long and continuing health care debate, many comparisons have been made to both LBJ’s Great Society programs and FDR’s New Deal with regards to their unrepealability.  While the Pew Data doesn’t go all the way back to FDR, it does include some statistics for LBJ.  In particular, during the “Kennedy/Johnson” administration, as Pew labels it, public trust in government averaged 68%.  For comparison, public trust in government during the first year of the Obama administration averages 22%.  One doesn’t need a background in statistics to see that this is significant.

What interests me about these numbers is that throughout the debate there has been the fear/hope, depending on which side of the aisle you’re on, that if the Democrats could just ram through health care reform, it would be impossible to repeal.  The evidence presented for this was almost always Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, all products of either the New Deal or the Great Society.  I would argue that the Pew’s polling data undermines this claim fairly severely.  With an electorate where almost four out of five people distrust the government, I don’t think repeal of the health care bill will be nearly as difficult a proposition as feared.  If the GOP can embrace its limited government principles, tap into this general distrust of  intrusive government, and tie it all together to health care, taxes, and spending, then they may have a strong, winning combination on their hands come November.

Posted in healthcare | 2 Comments »

Obama Is a Natural Born US Citizen

Posted by Dan Draney on April 18, 2010

This really shouldn’t be breaking news to anyone. Obama was born in Hawaii, and that really settles the question. Here’s a good explanation by a highly reliable journalist and newspaper:

James Taranto (WSJ) on Obama’s citizenship and this followup information from Taranto’s column the following day

These are too long to summarize meaningfully here, but not too long to be read in just a few minutes. After reading these rebuttals there should be no doubt in any reasonable person’s mind about this and therefore no “Birth Certificate Controversy.” Continued circulation of conspiracy theories on Obama’s place of birth discredits conservatism and the many legitimate criticisms of his disastrous policies. Please forward these links to anyone interested in a clear, objective examination of the question.

Posted in birth certificate, birthers, Obama | 2 Comments »

Honk If I’m Paying Your Mortgage

Posted by Dan Draney on April 18, 2010

… and for your healthcare.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Montréal

Posted by Dan Draney on April 14, 2010

It’s a very nice city. I’m here for a conference (SharePoint Summit 2010), but I’ll be heading home tomorrow. It was an excellent meeting in both content and organization, and the food at Le Centre Mont-Royal was the best I can remember at such an event. Restaurants in the area have also been superb.

The people of Montréal that I have encountered are friendly, and nearly everyone speaks English. I try to use my French, but they make it easy not to do so. My last visit here was in the mid 80s, and I remember being struck by how “clean & shiny” (and friendly) Montréal was then. At the time, I lived near New York City, so no doubt that colored my perception of another large city. This time, now that I live in Nebraska again, I didn’t quite get the “clean & shiny” impression, although it still compares favorably on that score with New York and Chicago. I did encounter a couple of panhandlers.

I noticed several times people on the street who seemed to be dressed rather lightly for the cool conditions: bare arms and legs; no jackets; etc. with temperatures around 60F. Tonight there was an older guy (ca. 60) in shorts. I suppose it’s kind of a “this-isn’t-cold-when-you-compare-it-to-the-winter” thing. The effect was rather spoiled by the fact that he was also wearing sandals and black socks. To each his own.

Posted in random stuff | Leave a Comment »

A Ray of Light

Posted by PLaplace on April 10, 2010

Good news came my way today in the form of sensible statements by Obama administration officials.  In an interview with the Huffington Post (article here) Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes had this to say:

“You’re correct, some universities are running up tuition increases far above the rate of inflation,” Duncan said. “But you see other universities doing some really creative things. You see some universities going to three-year programs, basically taking out of their expenses. You see other universities going to no-frills campuses.”

“And so students and parents are very, very smart,” he added. “They’re sophisticated. They’re going to vote with their feet, they’re going to go where they can get a great education but getting the good value along with that. And folks that don’t contain cost, I think, frankly are going to lose market share, lose competitive advantage.”

Though March brought a great deal of bad news on the governmental front, it is heartening to see that at least some members of the administration have a respect for and at least a basic understanding of market mechanisms. Before being appointed to the cabinet, Duncan was head of the Chicago public school system, and he has a history of support for school choice oriented reforms.  It’s a pity these ideas weren’t put forward when it came to health care, but seeing them applied to education will be of some consolation.  If Duncan can successfully push for this approach in the administration’s handling of education, then he will have my praise.

On another note, in the HuffPo article itself, the author takes a moment after the quotation to offer his position on education:  blur the line between different colleges, “open up the application process,” and “convince” colleges to “keep tuition low and recruit more students.”  I can’t help but be struck by this plan’s basic similarity to another newly minted government entitlement program.  I have a  fear this may well be the left’s solution to most every problem.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Is a 304-Word Sentence Too Long?

Posted by Dan Draney on April 5, 2010

From President Obama’s remarks at a DNC fundraiser last week, comes this insomnia-curing sentence, as reported by the LATimes. (H/T Power Line)

A lot of people have asked, why is it you seem so calm?

And what I’ve tried to say often — and a lot of times this gets discounted in the press — is that the experience of having traveled throughout this country; having learned the stories of ordinary folks who are doing extraordinary things in their communities, in their neighborhoods; having met all the people who put so much energy and effort into our campaign; having seen the ups and downs and having seen how Washington was always the last to get what was going on, always the last to get the news — what that told me was that if we were willing to not do what was expedient, and not do what was convenient, and not try to govern based on the polls today or tomorrow or the next day, but rather based on a vision for how we can rebuild this country in a way that works for everybody — if we are focused on making sure that there are ladders of opportunity for people to continue to strive and achieve the American Dream and that that’s accessible to all, not just some — if we kept our eye on what sort of future do we want for our kids and our grandkids so that 20 years from now and 30 years from now people look back on this generation the way we look back on the Greatest Generation and say to ourselves, boy, they made some tough decisions, they got through some tough times, but, look, we now have a clean energy economy; look, our schools are revitalized; look, our health care system works for every single American — imagine how tough that was and how much resistance they met from the special interests, but they were still willing to do it — if that was how we governed, then I figure that the politics would take care of itself.

Interestingly, since this was part of his prepared remarks, he must have been using a teleprompter, suggesting this was deliberate, not a Bidenesque drift off into space. The Power Line link also gives Obama’s rambling, 2500-word, 17 min answer to a simple question (Actual Answer Not Included). He sure loves to hear himself talk.

Posted in Mind of Obama | 2 Comments »

The Mind of Obama

Posted by Dan Draney on April 5, 2010

In a recent column Michael Medved argues that it’s a mistake for conservatives to criticize Obama as “evil” rather than simply “wrong.”

Will it be easier to persuade people that Barack Obama is wrong on the issues or to try to convince them that he is outright evil?

That’s a crucial question facing conservatives as we gear up for fateful election battles in 2010 and 2012.

Based on human nature and political history, the answer to that question ought to be obvious: Americans have often felt that our leaders make mistakes or pursue destructive policies but we have rarely (if ever) believed that they did it deliberately to damage the country. In the last 80 years, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush all got voted out of office by an angry electorate but a majority of the public never embraced the idea that these floundering presidents were actually bad guys. Only during President Nixon’s Watergate scandal did a substantial segment of the population come to believe that their president might well be evil or insane, and that belief led directly to the president’s resignation. The next impeachment crisis turned out very differently, of course: with GOP efforts to portray Bill Clinton as a dangerous ethical monster bringing the president the highest approval ratings of his career from a public that preferred to view him as a lovable (or at least forgivable) rogue.

On this Medved certainly has a point: most of us would rather give the President, whoever he is, the benefit of the doubt. We want to assume good faith is behind policies, no matter how wrongheaded the policies are. Interestingly, Medved’s arguments are entirely tactical: since conservatives are winning easily on the issues, why risk conforming to the Left’s stereotype of “conservative hater.”

If conservatives persist in characterizing the President of the United States as vicious and radical, insanely bent on the destruction of the Republic, we may find reassurance from the already like-minded but we’ll lose nearly everyone in the persuadable middle. As a result, we could spend the next decade or more as an increasingly impotent, irrelevant and angry opposition, howling in the political wilderness.

In the article Medved never speaks directly to the question of whether or not he personally believes Obama’s harsher critics are correct in their assessment of the President. That is, he doesn’t try to defend Obama against the criticism; he merely argues that such criticism will be riskier and (probably) ineffective. Perhaps he has been clearer on that point on his radio show. It’s a good article, though, and well-worth reading in full.

Warning: Sarcasm Follows

Does it matter what really is inside the Mind of Obama? It’s a good, conservative rule that one should never attribute to malice anything which can be explained by stupidity. I always try to remember that rule when talking with those on the far left, but it’s difficult to do when they’re droning on about how liberal and intelligent are practically synonyms and all conservatives are knuckle-dragging, teabagging Neanderthals.

It’s particularly hard for Obama to benefit from this rule, though, because we’ve all heard endlessly about how brilliant he is. Everyone says he’s such a deep thinker, wonkishly knowledgeable about all the details of every imaginable policy question, so nuanced, went to all the right schools, etc. He’s such a smart lawyer, it’s a shame he never managed to publish any law articles, but at least he managed to crank out two autobiographies exposing us to the wonder of his ways.

So from now on, to give him the benefit of the doubt, whenever I see him make a ridiculously bone-headed policy or decision that is sure to lead the country to disaster, I won’t assume that he is deliberately trying to cause disaster. I’ll just assume it’s because he can’t see how stupid he is being.

Now that I think about it, this is clearly the Right Thing to Do. For one thing he’s heard so much about how smart he is, he can’t comprehend being wrong. Besides, there’s actually quite a bit of evidence that he’s not all that bright after all. He did think there are 57 states, that surgeons make $40,000 for an amputation, and that our employers would all save 3000% on their health insurance costs under ObamaPelosiReidCare. But we already knew from his budgets that he didn’t get 800 on his math SAT. Even today he clearly has no idea how car insurance is supposed to work. Apparently, in 20 yrs of attending Jeremiah Wright’s church, Obama was never able to understand any of the sermons.

Please help with this project. When you see something the administration is doing that seems so stupid they must be trying to screw things up, just remember: Yes. They really can be that dumb.

Posted in debt, Mind of Obama, Obama | Leave a Comment »

Tea Party Demonization: NY Times Edition

Posted by Dan Draney on April 4, 2010

The New York Times dutifully adds its latest contribution to the ongoing efforts to portray the Tea Party Movement as dangerous, potentially violent radicals. They trot out the usual suspects, including (somehow) the Foot Hood jihadist, the lefty loon who flew a plane into an IRS office, and, of course, Timothy McVeigh as evidence of the potential for Tea Party violence.

Not that the rage, or the risk of escalation, necessarily goes away. If a group with enduring gripes is shut out of the political process, and begins to shed active members, it can leave behind a radical core. This is precisely what happened in the 1960s, when the domestic terrorist group known as the Weather Underground emerged from the larger, more moderate anti-war Students for a Democratic Society, Dr. McCauley said. “The SDS had 100,000 members and, frustrated politically at every step, people started to give up,” he said. “The result was that you had this condensation of a small, more radical base of activists who decided to escalate the violence.”

Given the shifting political terrain, the diversity of views in the antigovernment groups, and their potential political impact, experts say they expect that very few are ready to take the more radical step.

So, it was Beyond the Pale to say anything during the campaign about Obama’s real, longterm connection to Weather Underground alumni Ayers and Dohrn, but drawing an absurd parallel between the TPM and the Weathermen is just fine.

Stacy McCain has a post on his blog that highlights the vast differences between the two movements, demonstrating just how absurd the NYTimes piece is. He concludes with this gem:

To suggest that Tea Party activists are fundamentally like SDS and the anti-war movement of the 1960s simply because both engage in public protest rallies is to say that Barry Manilow and Metallica are fundamentally alike because both engage in concert tours.

McCain’s co-blogger, Smitty, argues that the Tea Party Movement is now too big to be taken down directly. He expects the main thrust of the administration and its minions will be on divide and conquer efforts to split the opposition in November. See my previous note on why a Tea Party Party would be A Bad Idea.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Faking Racism

Posted by Dan Draney on April 3, 2010

It’s an ongoing theme of the Obama Administration, Congressional Democrats, and the lapdog MSM outlets that the Tea Party Movement is “racist,” in the hope of discrediting the TPM without speaking to any of the issues. This is completely at odds with my experience and that of everyone I know in the TPM. Apparently the main basis for this charge is the proposition that opposition to Obama policies is ipso facto racist, since he happens to be black. And, if  baseless accusations that you’re a racist make you mad, well, that just proves you are a racist.

Over at Big Journalism Andrew Breitbart continues to blow the whistle on the latest manufactured “racism incident” on Capitol Hill: The claims that members of the Congressional Black Caucus were subjected to shouted “N-Words” as they walked through a crowd of protesters – Barack Obama’s Helter-Skelter, Insane Clown Posse, Alinsky Plans to ‘Deconstruct’ America.

The first sign that a plan was in place was the ham-fisted, high-camp posturing of the most controversial members of the Democratic caucus walking through the peaceful but animated “Tea Party” demonstrators on Capitol Hill. There is no reason for these elected officials to walk above ground through the media circus amid their ideological foes. The natural route is the tunnels between the House office buildings and the Capitol. By crafting a highly symbolic walk of the Congressional Black Caucus through the majority white crowd, the Democratic Party was looking to provoke a negative reaction. They didn’t get it. So they made it up.

As Breitbart points out, it’s more than a little peculiar that despite the sea of AV equipment in the crowd, there is not a single recording of a single instance of “The N-Word” allegedly hurled from the crowd. He has put his money where his mouth is on this, offering a reward of $100,000 to anyone who can produce such a recording. The offer has no takers to date, and it’s a safe bet there won’t be any.

The proof that the N-word wasn’t said once, let alone 15 times, as Rep. Andre Carson claimed, is that soon thereafter — even though the press dutifully reported it as truth — Nancy Pelosi followed the alleged hate fest, which allegedly included someone spitting, by walking through the crowd with a gavel in hand and a shit-eating grin on her face. Had the incidents reported by the Congressional Black Caucus actually occurred the Capitol Police would have been negligent to allow the least popular person to that crowd – the Speaker – to put herself in harm’s way.

Read the whole article. It’s well worth it.

Evidently the way the Left is transcending race in this Brave New World is by gratuitously inserting it into every aspect of every discussion of public policy. For the fight against real racism this will soon accomplish what Joe McCarthy’s campaign accomplished for anti-Communism.

Posted in Alinsky, fake racism, tea party | 1 Comment »

Should the Tea Partiers Become a Party?

Posted by Dan Draney on April 2, 2010

Briefly, the answer is “No.” So why not?

First of all, the deck is stacked against “3rd party” challenges, due to the “winner take all” nature of things as well as the ballot access barriers set up by the main parties. These rules exist to greater or lesser degrees in every state in the country. Just getting onto the ballot in each state, and staying there, is costly in money and manpower. The two large parties have also written into the law some “free” taxpayer money for themselves, while simultaneously restricting private donations, making it difficult for “3rd parties” to raise money.

The experience of the last year has also destroyed the main argument in favor of a 3rd party, namely the claim that “there’s no difference between the Democrats and Republicans.” Since all the Washington levers of power passed to the Democrats, the country has had a vivid demonstration of what the Dems will do with unchecked power, and it’s much worse than most people expected. Meanwhile, the Republicans have done better than expected, admittedly a rather low bar. They have remained highly unified in the face of the steamroller trio of Congressional super majorities, a radical left administration, and MSM cheerleading for the Obama agenda. Despite the occasional wobbling, the Republicans rediscovered their principles, and their opposition has been a key factor in denying the Democrats even a fig leaf of “bipartisan support” to legitimize their radicalism.

It remains to be seen how sincere and how widespread this rediscovery actually is, but the Republicans have earned the benefit of the doubt for this cycle. If you’re not convinced yet, consider the consequences that even a successful 3rd party founding would entail.

Suppose that a new Tea Party Party was wildly successful. What would that look like?

In the 2010 balloting that might mean getting a third to a half of the votes from people opposing our current runaway freight train government. Certain result: victory for the statists. Best case scenario for proponents of this approach is that it also begins a collapse of the GOP, so that the new party becomes the “2nd” party and the GOP becomes the “3rd” party.

Although it’s quite unlikely to happen that fast (<< 0.1% chance), if at all, let’s assume that by 2012 the GOP is becoming marginalized nationally as the Tea Party Party (TPP) makes more and more inroads into what was formerly the GOP base and dissatisfied independents. So in the 2012 elections, let’s say the Tea Party Party gets half the former GOP and two-thirds of the sympathetic independents. Electoral result: the statists win again, and the GOP is on the way out. After that assume, again highly optimistically, that remaining GOP officeholders defect to the TPP (or the Democrats), and the GOP itself fades away completely before the 2014 elections. At that point the TTP represents the unified voice for a small government, Constitutional renaissance.

Yippee! Now look at the wreckage. Democrats have had unimpeded control of both houses of Congress from 2008 to 2014, but now we’re ready to strike back. Obama, facing a divided opposition won re-election with pluralities of both the popular vote and Electoral College. The window for repealing the healthcare takeover is closed, as it’s now become part of the “safe” status quo. The economy remains a mess, due to George Bush, deregulation and greedy businesses, of course. Media outlets for opposition voices have been curtailed by a new Fairness Doctrine.

In other words this extremely optimistic scenario is a disaster for the ideas we want to promote and a dream scenario for our opposition. Now how long would it be before the pure, principled leaders we elect with the new TPP fall victim to the same corruption that politicians of the other two parties do? No longer, really, than if we elected them as through the current two parties. So if you meet someone who is fiercely advocating this course, you might ask yourself if he/she is a moby.

UPDATED: Fixed link to definition of a moby.

Posted in tea party | 4 Comments »

Who Are These Tea Partiers?

Posted by Dan Draney on April 1, 2010

Fellow Nebraska blogger, Uncle Wiggily, had a post this week that caught my attention, entitled The enemy of my enemy is sometimes my enemy too. He starts by describing the original Boston Tea Party in context and then turns to the current Tea Party Movement:

I laid that micro-lesson in history on you as prelude to this declaration – in one rabbit’s opinion, today’s so-called Tea Parties are nothing like, and bear no meaningful relationship to, that honored, even sacred, juncture in American history that took place in Boston so long ago. To compare today’s boisterous chatauqua-cum-picnic gatherings (complete, of course, with the requisite goofy hats, shirts and hand-painted signs) to the coup d’éclat of those early revolutionaries whose courageous actions jeopardized their careers, reputations, and even their lives, is to dishonor those who birthed this republic.

Additionally, I have never liked what I believe to be the symbological disconnect between current political revelers and those old colonial patriots. Adams, and many others, were struggling against, among other indignities, illegal taxation and tyrannical exploitation by an imperious English king, as well as striving to maintain rights and liberties they had devoted their entire lives to securing. Today’s weekend demonstrators are cranked about a whole variety of issues, but mostly they seem to just want to attend a sort of political Woodstock and generically bitch about those policy aspects of the current administration with which they disagree. The facile co-opting of the emotional horsepower contained within the philosophical bone and sinew of real American patriots by today’s pseudo-political saturnalians strikes me as impertinent toward, if not contemptuous of, those old guys’ heroic exertions.

Many, if not most, modern-day TPers appear to this observer to be only inflamed with the “pious ecstasies of the dissidence of dissent“, to borrow a wonderfully descriptive phrase from Russell Kirk. They’re into the scene – the self-absorbed urgency of the throng – with no very clear idea of where their perhaps well-intentioned flailing about will take them or their disordered enterprise. That old Shakespearean phrase comes to mind: “... full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I consider myself to be a member of the Tea Party Movement, broadly defined. I was a founding member/leader of Grassroots in Nebraska, although I am not much involved with that group today. More recently, I have been working with about a half-dozen people at Give Me Liberty TV, making TV shows and clips. See for example our most recent show. I don’t think you can get any more “grassroots” than GML-TV: everything is done by individual initiative and consensus, and we have no budget.

Although Uncle Wiggily is one of my favorite rabbits, his criticism struck me as a bit harsh. Feel free to read his entire post and the comments, although I won’t quote them all here. He goes on to express concern that the TP groups will end up splitting the opposition to progressivism, resulting in the triumph of the very forces we are protesting against. This is a serious issue and the main reason I don’t support creating a Tea Party Party. UW is certainly right about the different levels of risk assumed by the original Tea Party members vs. today. However, in my experience people in the Tea Party Movement have tremendous respect and admiration for the Founders.

What bothered me, though, was that smart folks like UW and his commenters seemed to have absorbed a lot of the MSM line characterizing the Tea Party Movement as primarily Angry Racist Kooks. That doesn’t square with my personal experience at all. The most apt description I have heard for the TPM, from Larry Kudlow, I believe, is “free market populists.” Some good work has been done toward understanding the Tea Party Movement by people who are not out to discredit the protesters, such as this from Kristen Soltis at the Winston Group:

Some of our findings were unsurprising — tea-party members tend to be conservative; a majority are Republican; they are concerned about the federal deficit and spending.

But some four out of ten tea-party members aren’t Republican, and a third aren’t conservative, painting a picture of a movement that is hardly monolithic.

There’s quite a bit of data to sift through, but the critical storyline that emerges is this: The tea-party movement is driven by concern about the economy and jobs. Yes, they place a high level of importance on the national deficit — over three times as many tea-party members name it as their top issue than do voters overall — but it doesn’t end there.

In question after question, tea-party members expressed their belief that things like low taxes and reduced spending can create jobs.  For instance, 85 percent say that cutting taxes for small businesses will create more jobs than increased government spending on infrastructure projects. Yet when pressed on what they’d prefer — a balanced budget or a 5 percent unemployment rate — 63 percent picked the unemployment rate, similar to the overall sample of voters at 64 percent.

Similarly, Ramesh Ponnuru and Kate O’Beirne argue that the GOP should consider the Tea Party Movement an opportunity rather than a threat:

The first [myth] is that the tea partiers are driven by racial animus against the president. Actually, a third of the people who participated in tea-party rallies say that they approve of Obama’s performance in office and a fifth say that they voted for him in 2008. Five percent of them are black, 11 percent Hispanic. Of those who agree with the protests, 29 percent approve of Obama’s performance. Waters and Krugman can rest easy.

The second myth is that the tea partiers are unpopular. Krugman wrote last April that the tea parties “have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so,” and Brooks speculated that “the tea-party tendency” might “be the ruin of the Republican party, pulling it in an angry direction that suburban voters will not tolerate.” Some Republican officials worry that media criticism and Democrats’ attacks on the activists have made it politically risky to associate themselves with the tea-party movement.

The polls do not bear out this fear. Most voters don’t consider themselves well-informed about the tea parties, but have a favorable view. As noted already, 53 percent of the electorate look sympathetically on the tea parties. McLaughlin also asked likely voters which characterization of the tea parties they leaned toward: an “anti-government, fringe organization that is driven by anger” or a group of “citizens concerned about the country’s economic future.” A majority of 57 percent chose the benign characterization while only 19 percent disagreed. Even a plurality of self-identified liberals went with “concern” rather than “anger.”

It really should not be difficult for the GOP to win over the majority of the Tea Party Movement, provided the GOP is actually willing to stand up for the principles it claims to hold dear:

But Republicans can do more than hope. They can appeal to the tea partiers and ally with them. While the tea partiers often express disgust with the Republican record on spending and bailouts, their views on most issues are within the mainstream of the Republican party. As we have seen, they are concerned about deficits but enthusiastic about tax cuts; they are pro-life; they are pro-defense. McLaughlin also finds that they favor increased reliance on nuclear power. They listen to the same talk-radio shows that conservative Republicans do. Their demographic profile looks very similar to that of Republicans.

Which is not surprising, since they’re generally the same people. The tea partiers are, for the most part, Republicans. Specifically, they are a highly engaged, but not highly partisan, segment of the party. A majority self-identify as Republicans and as conservatives. A full 68 percent of tea-party sympathizers voted for John McCain in 2008 — which was, it need hardly be noted, low tide for the GOP. Some of the tea-party activists take pride in their movement’s independence from the Republican party, and Republicans reaching out to them need to be mindful of that fact. But it’s also true that they’re not going to have to reach very far.

Michael Barone sees the Tea Parties as the continuation of the long-term struggle between the ideas of “Progressives” (i.e. statists) and those of the Founders (i.e. individualistic, free market), as embraced by the TPM. That certainly describes the attitudes of the people I have met in the Tea Party Movement (in person and online). Some see the GOP as the natural home of the movement, since these are ideals long espoused by the party. Most agree that the GOP blew it and bears a lot of responsibility for the mess we are in now. Some are convinced the GOP has now seen the light and are ready to re-join it. Others, including me, think that some in the GOP have seen the light, but too much of the party infrastructure is just waiting for the storm to blow over so they can get back to business as usual.

As far as Tea Party events themselves, it’s a tricky path to find the right notes. If things are too “light” some (e.g. UW) may feel the movement lacks seriousness. If things get too passionate, it’s “hate speech” or “racism” to those who disagree. If one person looks or sounds like a goofball or brings an offensive sign, he/she is a magnet for TV news reporters: See! We told you they are all Kooks and Klansmen!

It would be a mistake to think of the Tea Party Movement as some monolithic, nationwide organization, as sometimes portrayed in the MSM, or by self-appointed, national “leaders” of the TPM. It’s very much a local phenomenon that is breaking out nationwide, with local groups and leaders cooperating and competing with each other. Not everyone has the same goals, either. As my friend, Ed, put it the other night: It’s like we all agree we should head west, but to some that means Los Angeles, while others are thinking Alaska, and everywhere in between. Throw in the regional cooperation/competition, with GOP and national organizations trying to “lead” it, and the results are often not particularly pretty. Most of us are amateurs, after all.

We’ve basically got one shot left to stop this statist juggernaut, and it starts in November. The Dems must be severely punished at the polls, and the spending floodgates must be closed. In 2012 we get our one shot to repeal the ObamaCare monstrosity by electing a president and large Congressional majorities committed to that. I welcome the help of everyone who is pursuing that goal in a non-violent, non-nutty way.

Posted in Nebraska, socialism, tea party | 3 Comments »

Legalized Theft

Posted by Dan Draney on April 1, 2010

This should make you angry, whatever your political views are.  [H/T Lynn]

Posted in financial crisis, government spending | Leave a Comment »

Individual Mandate Toothless by Design?

Posted by Dan Draney on March 29, 2010

PLaplace remarks below on the bizarre lack of teeth in the ObamaCare “Individual Mandate.” I find it impossible to believe that no one noticed before the bill became law that the “mandate” is a nullity. This is not like the failure to actually cover children with pre-existing conditions that came out last week, which involves somewhat ambiguous language. This is right at the core of a key provision of the bill in language that appears to rule out enforcing the “mandate” by any means other than “pretty please with sugar on it.”

Now watch this peculiar performance by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), wherein he bobs and weaves in an apparently pointless, incomprehensible dance around the question of who enforces the mandate.

On the other hand, what if Weiner already knew a week ago about the “joke” enforcement provisions of this non-mandate.  Then he is laughing at O’Reilly and the Fox News audience, baiting them, and his behavior makes perfect sense (at least in his world).

So what did the Democrats know, and when did they know it? I assume this provision is right out of the Senate bill, so the text has been known since Christmas Eve. It’s possible that in the crazy rush to ram that through within hours of finalizing it, that this language was an error that slipped through. However, it’s unlikely to have been undetected in the intervening three months.

So, if they knew the effect of this language before passage, why wouldn’t they have “fixed” it? First of all, the House had to pass the Senate bill exactly, or it would go back to the Senate subject to filibuster, never to re-emerge. Of course, just getting the Senate bill through the House was already touch and go. As Nancy Pelosi was heard to say, “These things must be done delllllicately, or else you harm the spell.”

Of course, the individual mandate was never popular with the redistributionist crowd. It was one of those “conservative” ideas, they were forced to include, like making it look like they actually intend to pay for this. The foreseeable effects are as described by PLaplace: healthy people won’t buy insurance until they get sick. Rates will skyrocket, providing more evidence of the evil nature of insurance providers and another excuse for more federal intervention. It might have been inconvenient explaining that before the bill passed, but, afterwards, what’s not to like?

Posted in government spending, healthcare | 3 Comments »

The Individual Mandate and You

Posted by PLaplace on March 29, 2010

A fascinating tidbit came my way today (from more than one place) regarding the recently and regrettably passed health care bill.  Tucked away on page 33 of the recent Joint Committee on Taxation report on said bill comes this enticing nugget in regards to the penalty applied to those not maintaining “minimum essential coverage”:

“The penalty applies to any period the individual does not maintain minimum essential coverage and is determined monthly.  The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed.  However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty.  Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.”

In short, though the bill does stipulate a tax of $695 or 2.5% of income, whichever is greater, on those without health insurance, there is no real mechanism in place for enforcement of this tax.  Many writers have already commented on how this is a possibly catastrophic flaw in the Obamacare machinery, for without any teeth the mandate will have no real effect.  If it has no effect people will not buy into the insurance risk pool, and as a result insurance premiums will soon begin an upward death spiral of sorts.

What interests me more is whether this omission was intentional, or simply a blunder.  While I always seek to credit ignorance over malfeasance, Morgen Richmond at BigGoverment.com makes the point (in the final paragraph) that this built in self-destruct provision could have been inserted with the intention of insuring the eventual death of the private insurance industry.  After all, it would most likely be easier to slip in a public option or single payer system somewhere down the line if the insurance industry had been jacking up prices in response to the last effort at “reform.”  This line of argument however presumes an incredible amount of attention to detail on the part of this bill’s architects, and while that is a possibility, my cursory observations of Washington lead me to believe it is highly unlikely.  Moreover, it seems that though this provision might make it easier to demonize the insurance industry, it would be even easier to point out how Democrats had set themselves up for failure in their own bill; a point which would provide a strong case against letting them do it again.  In that case we are left with ignorance on the part of the Democrats.  Given the size, scope, and general murkiness of the 2700 page bill itself, I find the explanation of ignorance highly plausible.

On a final note, for all of President Obama’s repetition that the mandate penalty is not a tax, even the Joint Committee on Taxation doesn’t buy it.  They title the section on the mandate as “Excise Tax on Individuals Without Essential Health Benefits Coverage.”

Posted in healthcare, taxes, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

It’s the Debt, Stupid

Posted by Dan Draney on March 28, 2010

It’s been said before, but rarely this well. There’s more where this came from: In the End, There Is Only the Debt – Victor Davis Hanson – The Corner on National Review Online.

In short, the United States is floating far more loans than ever before in peacetime, and for longer scheduled durations, because interest rates are only a quarter of what they have been in the past. But this theory that we can endlessly multiply the size of our debt because the service costs remain low and static is a prescription for disaster — like the credit-card introductory offer of 2 to 3 percent for 6 months that hooks the naive into charging thousands of dollars, only to end up without the means to service the debt when the rate climbs over 20 percent. For a technocracy that is Ivy League certified and brags about its competency, we have fallen into the age-old trap that snares the naive ARM house buyer, the teenaged MasterCard mega-borrower, and the “free” coupon holder who heads headlong to Vegas.

That we are borrowing now at cheap interest hundreds of billions for things that are unnecessary or counterproductive will only make it worse, psychologically, when we have to pay it all back with high interest. It reminds me of the boom-to-bust neighbor who bought his superfluous super-duper, hydra-headed, metallic red-painted hydraulic vine-cutter with easy farm loans in the late 1970s and, when headed for bankruptcy in the 1980s, looked at the now rusted, useless contraption in his barnyard and sighed to me, “And I’m still paying 17 percent on that sucker!”

Posted in debt, Economics, government spending, Porkulus, socialism | Leave a Comment »

Panel Discussion on Tea Party Awakenings

Posted by Dan Draney on March 27, 2010

If your only view of the Tea Party movement has been through the prism of CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and national newspapers, you may think of the protesters as a mob of angry people with pitchforks and torches, looking to tar and feather everyone who disagrees with them. If you get all your news from Nancy Pelosi, you may think the protesters are violent, neo-Nazis. To hear the Leftists tell it, dissent against “Chimpy McBushitler” was the Highest Form of Patriotism, but dissent against the unprecedented expansion of federal government currently underway must, obviously, be due to racism.

In fact nothing could be further from the reality of the Tea Party movement. The vast majority of participants are simply regular people, patriotic citizens trying to restore respect for the Constitutional principles of limited government. We know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. All these “free” things the government gives us will have to be paid for, one way or another, in higher taxes now or on our children.We know that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.

To give you a direct look at some members of the Tea Party movement we offer this panel discussion featuring three Nebraskans who became politically active in the past year: Bryan Van Deun; Joanne Elliott; and Dan Draney (i.e. Yours Truly). This is Show #7,  and it is hosted by GML-TV’s inimitable W. A. Mitchell.

[Cross-posted at GML-TV and Plains Feeder]

Posted in GML-TV, Nebraska, tea party | 3 Comments »

Some Obama Jokes

Posted by Dan Draney on March 24, 2010

It’s good to see the professional comedians finally stepping up to address the long-standing, nationwide shortage of Obama-related humor materials. We need something to cheer us up, as the President and his friends in Congress continue  with his plans to demolish the productive parts of the economy. [Hat tip for these to UnklB]:

The liberals are asking us to give Obama time. We agree and think 25 to life would be appropriate.

America needs Obama-care like Nancy Pelosi needs a Halloween mask. -Leno

Q: Have you heard about McDonald’s’ new Obama Value Meal?
A: Order anything you like and the guy behind you has to pay for it. -O’Brien

Q: What does Barack Obama call lunch with a convicted felon?
A: A fund raiser. -Leno

Q: What’s the difference between Obama’s cabinet and a penitentiary?
A: One is filled with tax evaders, blackmailers and threats to society. The other is for housing prisoners. -Letterman

Q: If Nancy Pelosi and Obama were on a boat in the middle of the ocean and it started to sink, who would be saved?
A: America! -Fallon

Q: What’s the difference between Obama and his dog, Bo?
A: Bo has papers. -Kimmel

Q: What was the most positive result of the “Cash for clunkers” program?
A: It took 95% of the Obama bumper stickers off the road. -Letterman

If you find yourself still wanting more Obama-related humor, go here and/or set the DLMSY Wayback Machine for Obama Jokes to see past releases from our Strategic Joke Reserve.

[For the record: I think the birth certificate “issue” is a non-issue, but I smiled at the joke anyway.]

Posted in jokes, Obama jokes | Leave a Comment »

 
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