Saturday, September 27, 2008

States of Fear

One of my favorite columnists, Walter Williams, quotes H.L. Mencken in today's column on the essence of this year's politics. "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." Michael Crichton's State of Fear novel of a couple of years ago made the same point. Williams concludes his column by citing another favorite of mine, Dr. Thomas Sowell, who says that we don't look to arsenists to put out the fires that they have created; neither should we look to Congress to solve the problems they've created.
I've lived through a long chain of these scares, mostly rather insubstantial and often poorly or incompletely motivated. I'm currently expecting the global warming stupidity to turn to global cooling stupidity as soon as the latest climate data gets factored in to the mix.
Meanwhile the sunspots are at a minimum and last year's estimates were of global cooling of 0.7 degrees Celsius.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Speaking to America from the Heart

The old guy with the white hair is Paris Hilton's framing of McCain. I'd prefer the war hero with the straight talk and the guts to really want to reform Washington, and boy do we need it. McCain-Palin, a ticket you can vote for and that will keep on working for you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I met a traveler from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read, Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed, And on the pedestal these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Shelley's poem reminds me of the ephemeral nature of existence and the danger of hubris. The Greeks and Romans both recognized hubris as a great failing. When a leader was given a triumph in ancient Rome, we are told a slave rode in the chariot and repeated "Remember you are just a man." It seems to me that in our modern age we need to recall once more the dangers of hubris and the virtue of proportion and humility. The talking heads that indoctrinate us on the boob-tube no less than our leaders who are variously praised and excoriated by them all need a good dose. In the long run, as John Maynard Keynes said, we are all dead and the shifting sands envelop our imagined achievements.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Matter of Principle

The cowboy comic Will Rogers would quip about investing that "I'm not so much concerned about the return on my principle, as the return of my principle." (he probably said money) It seems that many of the professional banking and financial management experts have forgotten Rogers' point.
It certainly isn't clear why the taxpayer has any great interest in bailing these folks out. On the whole it appears that they have been pretty irresponsible and bailing them out is exactly the wrong signal to send.
They have forgotten the fundamental principles of good financial management and have watched their principle shrink precipitously in the process. Perhaps a few heads should roll, and I suspect some of those heads are in congress.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gotta Chuckle Sometimes

Out on the hustings there are always things to chuckle about, and the traction that Sarah Palin's remark about the difference between a Hockey Mom and a Pit Bull ... LIPSTICK has definitely gotten all the traction in the world. Here's the sure-fire evidence ... T-Shirts.

Who's the Biggest Liar

There is something surreal about Presidential campaigns. It is almost as if the minds of all concerned are turned to mush when the campaign begins, or as if there is an unwritten but mandatory rule that reason be jettisoned when the campaign is underway.
For some days now I've watched both sides of this campaign pointing fingers and saying that the other side is taking the low road and lying about them. The Democrats have been attacking Palin viciously and seeking to find something, anything, to make her out a hypocrite. Now they are attacking John McCain for of all things his inability to use computers, never mind that his fingers don't work very well due to his war injuries.
On the Republican side there is not much less vitriol as they trot out the Rev. Wright for the zillionth time or other of Obama's less than sterling connections with doubtful radicals, corrupt politicians, and crooks.
One does have to ask finally if this has much to do with being the President of the United States? Is there a point where substantive issues are discussed or are we to always have a shrill screaming match characterizing the National Election Process. It just doesn't seem very mature or grown up. Perhaps politics is simply doomed to this kind of thing. One would hope for more.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Swift Boating McCain

The Democrats, who generally have not a clue when it comes to the military, are now trying to "Swift-Boat" McCain. The problem they will discover is that McCain is the real deal while John Kerry was a phony. That's a big difference.
Kerry volunteered for the job he originally had to evade combat. He served in theater for only a few months and had cameras follow him around to pretend he was some kind of Rambo. He put himself in for purple hearts for wounds that you could treat with a bandaid.
John McCain flew 23 missions in his A-4. Was shot down and took grievous wounds which were nearly fatal. Languished as a POW and turned down release ahead of more senior men. One man is a hero, the other is a fake. Go ahead Democrats, see how much more ridiculous you can make yourselves look!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Desperate Liars

Sarah Palin, remarkable woman that she is, got into her Time Machine in 1998 and disapparated back to 1996 to accomplish the rare feat of banning a book, Harry Potter, before it was published.

We know she is wonder woman, but this is a new and highly desirable attribute in a Vice President. Perhaps she can disapparate back to 1963 and prevent the assassination of John Kennedy or intervene at the airports where the 9/11 hijackers boarded the planes to destroy the World Trade Center. But unfortunately it is much simpler than that.

We are faced with bald-faced liars. We will only see more to come. According to one source this particular lie originated in the Obama campaign, other sources trace it to a commentator on a librarian blog. This is pretty thin support for a national news story and a measure of the desperate lengths some people will go to smear Palin.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Evil Never Sleeps

The Price of Freedom

Is Eternal Vigilance

We should remember at this time and in this place that evil does not die and never sleeps. I am reminded of the words of Winston Churchill who in dark days of earlier times said of the struggle Britain faced "...We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender ..."
We too are an island, an island of freedom in a beleaguered world. We are a hope and a torch, a hope that men of different races and cultures can live free in harmony and a torch held high to light the path. And we are hated by those who would pull down rather than build up, by those who see equality as destroying excellence so that all can languish in mediocrity.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Name Calling Isn't Classy

Apparently Barack Obama isn't above plain old name calling. The blogospher is a bit alive with the pig comment he made. Seems like a bit of a loose cannon to me. It's one thing for Palin to call herself a pitbull with lipstick, a clear reference to tenacity and determination, and quite another thing for Obama to call her, however cutsy he was in doing it, a pig with lipstick.
I think it shows the character of the man, or lack thereof.

The Primacy of Truth

In this political season when everything seems to be spin one ought to occasionally step back and ask the question: Just What Is Going On Here?
The answer is usually not very encouraging. There is a great deal of posturing going on. There is quite a lot of misinformation masquerading as analysis. The word experience has been getting a lot of play without a great deal of perspective or clarity. Experience in what, doing what, with what skills, with what demonstrable outcome? Is being a community organizer comparable to being a small town major or being a senator (State or Federal) comparable to executive experience where decision making is the order of business and not simply casting a vote?
And finally, what about TRUTH? It seems to me that truth, the correspondence of what one says with reality, is getting lost in the hurley-burly scuffle of mean-minded hurling of charges back and forth across the political fences usually without the trappings of real information or content, simply labeling the opposition. Both sides do it of course, but in the heat it generates the underlying realities are lost.
There are real differences between both the parties and the candidates. They are differences of principle, differences of policy, and differences of values and character. They are deep differences. We have a widening chasm in the public forum. It is a chasm created by the embrace of different principles, different "factoids" and a growing dismissal of truth, racing instead to embrace fashions, fads, and fallacies. The cost to the nation is incalculable. The long term cost may be our way of life.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sour Grapes from the Old Guard

It's interesting that all the commentators, even the conservative ones, seem a bit uncomfortable with the Palin choice. The "open mike" gaffe of Murphy and Noonan seems telling enough. It's almost as if they think that they are in charge of picking the candidates.

One of the great elements of the Palin pick is that it isn't the "Old Guard" those who have the ideas of the past and often have frankly screwed up. Both Palin and McCain wear their monikers well and we can expect a ticket like that to shake up business as usual in Washington, and isn't it about time.

Barack Obama is not a new face, only a young face on the old Chicago politics and adding Joe Biden to the mix doesn't do a thing to improve the ticket expect to answer the experience shortfall. Guiliani last night made a lot of penetrating points that need to be reiterated. This ticket, win or lose, is about principles. If there is something both parties need, it is a return to a principled way of doing politics. We've had enough of the old guard, and the sour grapes is just a bit, well sour.