Thursday, October 30, 2008

Which One?

And again I ask: Which Obama will show up on inauguration day: The One who's on the side of the poor, or the One who leaves his aunt in a slum and his half-brother in a hut in Kenya?

Update: Let me add that I don't advocate yanking people from their homes even "for their own good." But like Bob Krumm, whose post was the first I referenced, I think Obama's Auntie Zeituni was known to Obama's campaign and told not to talk until after the election... and that's shameful. Her freedom of speech ought not to be curtailed, or her silence coerced, no matter who she is.

So far I've seen nothing that is explicit about this woman and any contact Obama's campaign may have had with her. It's certainly possible that she's so fond of her nephew that she's muzzled herself until after the election; who wouldn't at least consider keeping quiet to avoid harming a loved one? So let me present another way to look at this story, that downplays the character attack aspect:

If Obama has however-many poor relatives who aren't benefiting from his good fortune, that points to two things in my mind: 1. A certain amount of hypocrisy, since he's running on compassion and family values as surely as on "Change" and "Hope"; and 2. A reliance on government programs first, family charity somewhere down the list, to care for loved ones. And while #1 is ugly enough, it's #2 that, policy-wise, should give us pause.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Having eaten my weight in potato chips...

...I thought I'd comment briefly on that ridiculous hack Terry Gross. First let me say it ticks me off to no end that that station sees fit to call itself National Public Radio, while never giving so much as lip service to my side's points of view.

Second... Terry. When she sticks to pop culture, she's only annoying in her transparent desire to be the hippest hipster around; when she dips into politics, which she manages with disheartening regularity, I feel I need to cut caffeine out of my diet altogether. Today she had Seth Meyer from SNL on, talking at some length about the really funny Sarah Palin stuff last week. She tried and she tried to get him to say something bad about Palin, Republicans, the McCain campaign; Seth gave her a little assist toward the end of that piece of the interview, but overall her frustration was almost tangible as he had to admit that Sarah Palin was there to play, a great sport, and really nice.

Recreating one question from memory: "Were there a lot of ground rules, going in, about topics you had to stay away from?" Seth's response: "No, not really; the campaign was... pretty game. Actually we've found that Republicans tend to be more game than Democrats."

Terry: "Huh. Why do you think that is?"

Here's the assist, from Seth: "Well, I think it's because Democrats are afraid if they do certain things in a segment, Republicans will use them against them in a campaign, and Republicans know Democrats won't." End of segment - Terry got her soundbyte.

Excuse me? Have these people no self-awareness whatsoever?

Don't mind me; it's just the chips talking. Six days. Six days. Six days. I can hope that the wild variability in polling will enable a squeaker victory for McCain, but now is the time to keep my powder dry, I'd say - my taxes are about to go up-up-up. And my freedom to express myself in the public sphere, down-down-down. Thanks again, O.

You moderate Dems out there - exactly who do you think will show up to be inaugurated if Obama wins next week: the Obama you want, or the Obama who is? The One who says he's "post-racial," or the One who sat in Wright's church for two decades? The One who is measured in his responses, or the One whose campaign threw a hissy fit every time he was questioned with anything like vigor or determination? The One who will restore America's good name worldwide (because we've had that throughout our history, except since Bush took over - oh, and Reagan before him), or the One who has said he's willing to invade Pakistan, give Russia a pass over its aggression toward former SSRs, negotiate with state supporters of terror, and listen in that measured way of his to arguments about the legitimacy of Israel? The One who will "cut taxes for 95% of Americans," or the One who knows that the strikingly large percentage of Americans who don't pay the kinds of taxes he implies in that statement are counted in this number - and therefore the One whose little slip about "sharing the wealth" is a portrait-in-miniature?

Use your franchise wisely, and not after taking cold medicine or drinking that great new O!-flavored Kool-Aid.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why conservatism doesn't just die, already

This is really simple. Conservatism, frequently declared dead or dying by "progressives," is the equivalent of Darwinism in the natural world, functionalism ("Do that which works," in essence) in the world of psychology, and trial and error in the world we all inhabit day-to-day. It's the tautology "Survivors survive." It's the preferential preservation of that which has shown itself to be effective, versus the preferential throwing out of baby with bathwater in a sometimes inchoate desire for "change."

And this is also the source of that bit about "If you're not a liberal in your twenties, you have no heart; if you're not a conservative in your forties, you have no brain," that's variously attributed to Disraeli, Churchill, and probably others. What smart and humane young person doesn't believe that she could arrange the world better than it is right now? What person in her forties doesn't have a clearer picture of both her and the world's limitations than she did twenty years earlier?

And thus my hard-won relative conservatism, not "in spite of" but because of my desire to see people's prospects improve as continually as possible: radical change is revolution, revolution is by its nature a gamble, and even when it does succeed (cf. the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution), it takes on a life of its own. It has consequences beyond its planners' and supporters' intent, and not all of those consequences are a net positive to those the revolution was supposed to benefit.

But wait - we're not talking about revolution this November...

True. But we are talking about a candidate whose platform is based on "change," without much regard to which direction the change should take - or, more accurately, without much regard to what the American people believe about which direction change should take, since Obama's plans are for more confiscatory and redistributionist government policy, both of which fail miserably in the court of public opinion. And the other candidate, whose version of "change" involves a return to "that which works," particularly in hard economic times: tax minimally, regulate minimally, read the Constitution in an originalist fashion, respect States' rights by not arrogating to the Federal government powers not explicitly granted to it. The old guy is for the (former, or as I prefer to think of it, once-and-future) status quo; no surprises there. The young guy is for the long-discredited approach of the New Deal and the Great Society - which would come as a surprise to his most fervent followers if they knew anything about those eras; sadly, the best-funded education system in the world, as Shieffer pointed out in the final Presidential debate a few days ago, somehow fails to teach very well.

It's a great disappointment to me (I'm trying not to let it be more than that - I'll certainly keep my wits about me in a way Bush-enemies have not, but it is a little scary to consider what the next several years will bring, economically) that Obama may well end up as our next President, since I think his fiscal policy, especially now, will be a disaster. It's been almost a hundred years since the last Great Depression, but the market certainly seems to be anticipating that this is our moment. Thanks, O.