Five Election Truths

Yes, about 90% of Mormons will vote for Mitt Romney.  About 90% of Mormons always vote for a Republican.

Yes, about 90% of blacks will vote for Barack Obama.  About 90% of blacks always vote for a Democrat.

Stop complaining about negative attack ads.  If we didn’t actually respond to them, then campaigns would stop making them.  Blame the voters, not the candidates.

Stop complaining that everybody’s talking about the election.  Huge decisions about the future of our jobs, military, and health care, among other things, hinge on who wins.  I think we can put our favorite sitcoms on the backburner for one more week for that.

Too much political talk on Facebook?  See above.  You have three options: drop all of your friends, don’t check Facebook for a while, or realize that living in a free democracy means being surrounded by citizen debate which you may not like or be interested in.  Deal with it.

Mr. Kettle, Meet President Super Pot

By far my favorite ad in the presidential campaign so far has been this recent Obama commercial.  It’s hilarious.  It slams Romney for, allegedly, racking up a lot of debt and failing to create jobs.

So, um…is the Obama camp saying that if someone doesn’t create jobs and especially if they run up a ton of debt, that person is unfit to be president?  Because…yeah.

Santorum and Obama Make the Same Awful Claim

On Monday, Rick Santorum and President Barack Obama said essentially the same thing in campaign speeches they each gave: that if the other party wins in November, the America that their supporters love will disappear forever.

Santorum said, “If Barack Obama is re-elected, then America as we know it…as we know it…will be gone. We will be a statist country.”

Obama said, “The very core of what this country stands for is on the line — the basic promise that no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, this is a place where you could make it if you try. The notion that we’re all in this together, that we look out for one another — that’s at stake in this election.”

The fear-mongering here is identical: “my opponents will destroy our way of life.”  Neither man has the respect for his supporters to be any more subtle than that.  There are no shades of gray, no agreeing to disagree, no benefit of the doubt and credit given for the values and motives of others.  The message is that those who don’t fall in line are simply evil.

This isn’t much different from what the actress Cameron Diaz said on Oprah in 2004, that if George Bush were reelected, rape could become legal: “We have a voice now, and we’re not using it, and women have so much to lose. I mean, we could lose the right to our bodies. We could lo–if you think that rape should be legal, then don’t vote. But if you think that you have a right to your body, and you have a right to say what happens to you and fight off that danger of losing that, then you should vote…”

People vying to be the leader of the free world now use language not far removed from that of hysterical starlets.  Shame on both Santorum and Obama for such cheap, shallow demagoguery.

Recall Nonsense

In Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, there are currently efforts at work to recall at least two recently elected officials.  It seems that as soon as anybody is put in office these days, someone wants to kick them out. 

As soon as any president steps into the White House now, somebody starts talking about impeachment.  No doubt there are people already planning to impeach whoever wins in 2012 and 2016.

This is ridiculous.  Recalls and impeachment were not meant to be political tools to use against those with whom you disagree.  People are trying to use nuclear options where a slap on the wrist is called for, or merely as a weapon in the arsenal of poor sports.  In general, I don’t agree with President Obama’s policies, but I would never agree to an attempt to kick him out of office because of that.  Good grief. 

Note to the recall-happy out there: That person you don’t like won a fair election.  You can complain and be involved in the public process all you want, but trying to trump up a scandal and yank every politician out of office is little more than pitching a tantrum, and not far from cheating.  It subverts the democratic system.  You want a politician out of office?  You got it.  It’s called another election, and it comes at the end of the term that a majority of voters decided to let them have.   Deal with it.

Dennis Miller vs. Ben Stein

I’ve loved Dennis Miller since before he even became a conservative, and Ben Stein has written some very worthwhile stuff about economics and the culture wars (although he also made the movie Expelled, which I criticized here).  These are both very smart and very entertaining guys, so I was excited to hear that the former was hosting the latter on his radio show this morning. 

Audio of today’s interview is here.  Stein spent his air time endorsing higher taxes, mostly saying, “Rich people can afford it–they won’t be hurt if they pay more.”  It was almost shocking to hear such a brilliant thinker explain a point with no more intellectual grounding than a child would bother to use.  Literally–I remember a class in junior high where the teacher discussed the national debt, and one clown announced that he could solve the problem: “Let’s mug Donald Trump!” 

Miller, for his part, responded fairly well, but most of his time dwelt on the fact that government tends to waste money, and that new taxes would be largely wasted, also.

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Nine Reasons Why Birthers Are Almost Certainly Wrong

A fringe element of Obama critics contends that he’s not constitutionally eligible for office because, they say, he was born in Kenya and not, as Obama says, in Hawaii.  They say that his lack of a long form birth certificate is evidence of this, as well as offhand statements by a few people connected with him. 

There are several huge problems with this theory:

1.  The lack of a long form Hawaii birth certificate is not proof that such a thing does not exist, much less that Obama wasn’t born there.  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. 

2.  Even if it could be proven that there is not a sufficiently detailed Hawaii birth certificate, that’s still not proof that he wasn’t born there.  Any number of things could have happened to the paperwork.

3.  Proving that he wasn’t born in Hawaii still wouldn’t prove that he wasn’t born a US citizen, much less that he was born in Kenya.  The two are completely unrelated. 

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Egypt: Obama’s Rock and Hard Place

A lot of the media–on both sides of the aisle–are suggesting that Obama’s either doing something wrong in regard to Egypt, not doing anything, or that he should be doing something different, but never specifying what that is.  This is one case where I genuinely feel bad for him, because he’s absolutely trapped–there is no right answer here, is there? 

Mubarak has been a trusted ally for decades.  On the other hand, the voice of the people is being heard.  Obama’s response has been to diplomatically encourage the change that the protestors are agitating for; though some on the right have criticized him for it, isn’t this the essence of the Bush Doctrine in action? 

But, poor Obama; no matter what he does, everybody will be able to justify saying he’s wrong.  He can either side with the people and betray a close and old ally, or he can stand by our ally and betray democracy and the will of a people.  There’s just no way for him to win this game.

Report: State of the Union Bingo

My bingo card did very well.  I got at least 13 of the 24 terms I put down–over half! 

President Obama didn’t refer to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by name, but he did make a clear reference to it.  During the first half of the speech, I regretted putting “tax the rich” on my card, figuring he would never actually say it, and even though he didn’t use those three words together like that, boy did he ever come out and say that he wanted to tax the rich!

Of the ones I didn’t check off, I could probably justify at least four.  The closest he came to his phrase “Let me be clear” was “Let us be clear.”  That’s pretty dang close.  If I’d written down Tuscon instead of Arizona, I could have had bingo within the first ten minutes of the speech.  He talked about new energy sources a lot, but instead of “green,” he called it “clean.”  Close, but no cigar for me, maybe.  He also referred to the vice president, but didn’t call him by his first name.  And while he certainly addressed recovery, environment, and civility, he didn’t use those words, and it didn’t seem right to check those off.  (He discussed “cooperation” between parties, but that’s not really the same thing as civility.) 

So, here’s my final bingo card for the 2011 State of the Union:


2011 State of the Union Bingo!

That’s right, boys and girls, it’s that time of year again: time for what comedian Dennis Miller used to call “The Everything’s Going Great” Speech. 

Be sure to get your bingo card ready before President Obama gives his State of the Union speech this Tuesday night.  There are plenty of terms to put on your card and look for in the speech, and plenty of Obama bingo card generators online, but I just put this one together:


“Let me be clear”






Wall Street










     Sonya Sotomayor












Rep. Gabrielle Giffords








tax the rich




Refers to Vice President as “Joe”


health care reform






don’t ask, don’t tell

MLK and Obama: Studies In Pop Culture Deification

Something about yesterday’s celebration of Martin Luther King Day made me really happy. 

Dr. King’s son said something that I’ve thought for years: “My father was a great man. My hero. A hero to many. But sometimes there is too much emphasis placed on Martin Luther King Jr. the idol instead of the ideals.” Amen. 

It’s always bothered me how the peaceful, educated, pious, hard-working Dr. King gets lost in the vacuous statue he’s made into by our culture, which worships him as a god of some kind of vague freedom which is only defined, if it ever is at all, as “helping black people.”  Certainly, young people see him as an icon of their own rebellious impulses, rather than as a long-suffering champion with specific teachings and accomplishments to emulate. 

My first year of teaching, ten years ago, was at a middle school in the part of town most populated by black people (for those familiar with Las Vegas geography, Lake Mead and MLK).  I saw vapid hero-worship of MLK almost every day, not from the adults or more mature kids, but from all the kids who embossed their huge t-shirts with glittery images of Dr. King.  Did they know anything of his philosophies, sacrifices, diplomacy, biblical allusions, or actual goals for civil rights?  No, they just knew that he’d done something like stand up to white people and made some of them angry.  That was absolutely the attitude most of the kids in his cult had.  What a waste of his legacy. 

So it was very heartening to hear his own son recognize that tendency and call us out on it.  After all, King didn’t envision some magical happy land where unicorns frolic, nor did he imagine a world where any race has any special value or flaws.  It wasn’t a world where nobody judged anyone else, just one where people were judged by a more rational standard: the content of their character. 

Boy, I’d love to see more of a focus on the content of character in our culture. 

I don’t know that we see as much of the automatic, empty hero-worship of MLK any more.  It’s been replaced by automatic, empty hero-worship of Barack Obama.  I first saw the poster here a few months ago, though apparently it’s been out since the presidential campaign.  It made my jaw drop; it illustrated my worst fears about our society’s conception of him. 

This is not a criticism of Obama himself, who I’ve said before is a good man.  It’s a criticism of his cult of worshippers.  This poster, however, doesn’t laud him for “achievement,” “leadership,” “brilliance,” or any other virtue for which he’s surely a good example (though I strongly disagree with his policies).  No, the poster celebrates his “destiny,” a vague, superstitious quality which not only removes personal effort from his success, but denies it to those who look up to him but who may not be similarly blessed as The Promised One. 

What a disservice to Obama and to the many good people who do look up to him.  That’s why I’m so happy when he promotes education and civility.  I only wish he–and his media machine–would make a bigger deal out of it: people are only truly helped by being deeply immersed in a positive influence, not by occasional nods to it. 

But if nothing else, at least these days the abuse of Dr. King has abated a bit, so maybe his spirit can rest in peace.

Being Wrong Does Not Equal Being Evil

Balderdash.  Poppycock.  Nonsense.  Rot.  Etc.

I’ve picked up from multiple sources in the conservative media speculation that President Obama might have purposely engineered the Gulf Coast oil spill as a means of discrediting oil-based energy and convincing people of the need to make a major shift to alternative energy plans.  While he does clearly want to focus more on “green” energy, we must make no mistake about this dangerous accusation: it is irresponsible, reprehensible, and unacceptable. 

It bothers me that so many on both sides of the political spectrum are comfortable slapping grossly wild labels on those on the other side.  One might not have liked George W. Bush’s administration, but he did not deserve to be called an empty-headed warmonger for eight years.  Similarly, President Obama deserves the same basic decency in our treatment of him.  Are people really suggesting that he might have manufactured a crisis that has cost many human and countless animal lives, and will surely devastate the environment and parts of the economy for years?  That’s not civic discourse, that’s not criticism–that’s childish demagoguery of the very worst sort. 

Many have unfairly linked Obama to this oil spill personally, comparing the crisis to Bush’s public connection to Hurricane Katrina.  But suggesting that he purposely caused the oil spill is far, far worse.  Implying that Obama created this oil spill is no more reasonable nor humane than the “truthers” who swear up and down that Bush was behind 9/11. 

I strongly disagree with many of Obama’s policy positions, but that does not make him a monster.  At the very least, we need to give the benefit of the doubt to those with whom we disagree.  Even if the worst fears of the Right about Obama are true and he really does have a hidden agenda to socialize our society as much as possible, I’m sure that he’s at least operating out of a good faith desire to help people and strengthen the country, not destroy it and sabotage our way of life.  Such groundless assumptions about the motives of others are both warped and counterproductive. 

We need to keep the criticism of politicians on the politics, not on shadowy speculations that they’re evil.  I would hope that especially after seeing how half the country treated George W. Bush, that we conservatives would show more professionalism in our analysis of his successor.  Obama may very well be a bad president, but that does not make him a bad man.

Anti-Semitism Continues to Rise

Six months ago, I wrote about seeing a resurgence of anti-Semitism in the world, and in the last half year it has gotten worse. 

Last month, scholar David Horowitz spoke at UCSD and, during a question and answer session, confronted a young woman who asked him why he identified her student association with terrorists.  Horowitz turned the question on her and asked her to denounce Hamas, the internationally labelled terrorist organization in charge of Gaza which calls for the destruction of Israel in its charter.  When the woman demurred, Horowitz directed another question at her: are you for or against the destruction of Israel?  She said she was for it. 

Watch the video:

(Incidentally, the answer to the student’s question about ties between her student association and terrorist networks is well documented, such as here.)

Of course, since then we’ve seen the international controversy over Israel’s raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla, Continue reading