Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iran, and What Obama did Right and Wrong

After the obviously fraudulent elections in Iran, Obama reacted carefully, refusing to denounce them at the time. Many on the right took him to task, but I think that he was doing the right thing even if it was Realpolitik in action. Obama had made it clear that he wanted to negotiate without preconditions with the stooge for the mullahs, Ahmadinijad on the issue of Iran's nuclear program, its threats to Israel in particular and Middle East peace in general. By coming down on the side of the protesters he would not be able to have the dialog that he so desperately wanted to have. The side benefit was the Congress expressing their approval of the protesters. By allowing the Congress to vote their concerns, Obama could remain above the fray thereby keeping his options for future negotiations open.
But then, the regime's security forces turned violent. The iconic imagery of Neda, the woman whose death was broadcast to the world over the Internet removed any sense of legitimacy for the government that Obama wants to negotiate with. I would remind him of his speech in Cairo and his Iranian New Year's message that we have more in common with the people of Iran than we do with the regime that is presently killing them. to negotiate with these murderers is going to be impossible.
In every battle, there comes a "culmination point" as Clausewitz said, that point where decisive action can be brought to bear and achieve victory. That point is now passed. When the student pleaded for help from America and the world, Obama did not act. His pathetic statement that Iran must govern through cooperation and not coercion puts on full display the emptiness of his words. Obama forgets that he doesn't have a sycophantic press in Iran, so he won't get the movement in public opinion that he is used to.
President Obama is Exhibit A of why a naif is not a good person to have in the White House.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Sen. John Ensign of Nevada has admitted that he had an extramarital affair with a former campaign worker. Now, I won't go into the disparate treatment that the media offers to Republicans versus Democrats like this article does. I mean, it would be nice if they gave some attention to Sen.s Dodd, Durbin, Rep.s Rangel, Murtha, Pelosi, Visclosky, Moran, Jefferson, Mollohan, and oh, so many others.
But the interesting thing about the two different groups, is that for the most part Democrats are corrupt for money, and Republicans are corrupt for sex. There are exceptions, (Edwards and Randy Cunningham) but it seems that if you are trying to get rich, be a Democrat in elected office. On the other hand, if you are trying to get laid, be a Republican. Personally I think that the Republicans should be using it as a selling point instead of running away from it.
One thing in Ensign's favor though, he didn't use the excuse that his wife was in remission to justify his actions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fox versus ABC

President Obama said in an interview that he "gets generally coverage" from the news networks, except for Fox news. I think the "generally positive" comment is just another of the many examples that he has of not telling the truth. When you have MSNBC (who have the same opinion of O'Reilly as von Brunn, the Holocaust shooter) carrying the water for the President, it's hard to say that he has any critical press outside of Fox. But then we learn that ABC is going to be hosting an infomercial for his health care plan that excludes anyone who has a problem with the plan, and you have the epitomy of the State run media.
Become a revolutionary, watch Fox news.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Letterman Apologizes Again

David Letterman is apologizing again for the Palin jokes. I notice that his statement only includes the youngest daughter. Apparently, he thought that it was perfectly appropriate to mock an 18 year old woman. And no mention of the slutty stewardess looks of the governor.
You can read the statement here. What's interesting is that it took Mark Shield's analysis for him to realize that it was wrong. No self awareness here. Besides, I am sure that CBS was starting to notice the unpleasantness arising from the "joke" and probably insisted that something be done.

UPDATE: Apparently, some idiot in South Carolina compares Michelle Obama with an escaped gorilla. What is going on with any sense of decency? Have we so lost our way that this is what is supposed to pass as humor?

Return of the Conservative

Gallup has a poll out that shows that more Americans identify themselves as conservatives than liberal. According to Gallup,
40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This represents a slight increase for conservatism in the U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004.
So, let's see, nearly twice as many Americans identify themselves conservative than do liberals. At the extremes, 9% consider themselves very conservative and 5% very liberal, again almost twice the number. Even among pure independents, there is nearly a two to one ratio. The only area that liberals win is in the 18-29 demographic where liberals outnumber conservatives by 31% to 30%.
But the really interesting tidbit is this:
Thus far in 2009, Gallup has found an average of 36% of Americans considering themselves Democratic, 28% Republican, and 37% independent. When independents are pressed to say which party they lean toward, 51% of Americans identify as Democrats, 39% as Republicans, and only 9% as pure independents.
The difference between conservatives and Republicans is the root cause of the poor electoral results of the past few years. Efforts by many to urge the Republican Party to remake itself into the Democratic Party Lite version are doomed to failure. It's kind of like being offered the choice between Pepsi and the generic cola, why bother? What we need is a Pepsi - Tequila contest to attract the voters.
It is not just the Republican's fecklessness on spending that has driven the numbers down though. The State controlled media that slavishly adheres to every "um" and "er" of the One, has prepped the battlespace for the Left party very well. But even in the face of superior artillery and better engineers, small groups acting in concert and cohesion can overcome an opposing force. Especially when numbers are on their side. For instance:
A recent Gallup poll shows Americans overwhelmingly disagree with Obama on closing Guantanamo. Rasmussen reports Republicans and Democrats tied on the generic congressional ballot. Americans have a more favorable opinion of former Vice President Cheney than Pelosi and trust Republicans over Democrats on economic issues. And Reid is down nationally, and in serious trouble in his home state of Nevada.
While it would be an advantage to scrap the name Republican Party, the fact remains that most of the state laws and procedures are only set up to recognize the two major parties. The mission for the conservatives is to take the Republican Party back to being conservative.
With Obama's help, that just might happen real quick.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Killing Strawmen

I don't always go to Wulfgar's site, but every once in awhile, it does provide a certain amount of humor. Specifically, this posting. Now, if you read this post, you will see quite clearly that this is the classic straw man argument, and I mentioned in his comments:
How many bales of straw had to die so uselessly for this post?
To which, he replied:
Lame, Steve. If you see a straw man, point it out. I'll still crush you like a bug, but please, show some courage. Please?
I saw his reply as the equivalent of the "I am not, You are" school of argument, and figured that he couldn't be so obtuse as to ignore that which was obviously in front of his face.

I was wrong.

Then like a child who has found a hammer, he decided to apply it to everything that he could. Such as in the Electric City Weblog posting on David Letterman's over the top gratuitous insult of Sarah Palin's daughter. Under the comments, I said this:
Just another example of the coarsening of our society that 1. the joke was made, and 2. that anyone would rise to defend it. Of course, the liberal use of the word hypocrisy flows only one way. I am sure that everyone will just be having a laugh riot when Letterman starts making jokes about Obama’s daughters.
Now, if you understand the rhetorical trick of the strawman argument, it is clear that there is nothing of the sort present. But Wulfie, armed with his new toy declared:
"I am sure that everyone will just be having a laugh riot when Letterman starts making jokes about Obama’s daughters."

And when he does,. I’m certain that you’ll call him out.

And you stupidly, with no support, accused me of a Straw Man? Steve, you’d best get your … uh … doody together. There, was that polite enough?
This was the beginning of my realization that he had no real clue as to what he understood a strawman argument to be. But the piece' de resistance was when Dave pointed out that Obama is the master of the strawman argument, to which Wulfie replied:
Hmm. Not disagreeing, Sir Mr. Budge Sir, but it would be helpful to the quest of Mr. Eschenbacher if you actually had an example …
Then I knew, that Rob the Wulfie had no idea what a strawman argument actually is. For him to ignore Obama's prolific use of the strawman either implies willful self delusion, or actual ignorance.

So, for the purposes of his clarification, and to help him not look quite so dumb, let's take a look at what a strawman argument actually is. In general terms, it is a rhetorical device that is dishonest. It is designed to set up a false argument in order to destroy that argument, and thus destroy the supposed proponent of the argument, even though that is not what they argued. A more formal statement can be found at Wikipedia, (just to make it easier than looking it up in a book) and is related in part here:
A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[1] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position

As to the strawman Killer in Chief, we only have to go visit that bastion of Right Wing thought, the Washington Post, which reports that President Obama
President Obama likes to portray the battle over the economic stimulus package that passed the Senate on Tuesday as a stark choice between his approach and that of those who would "do nothing."

"Nothing is not an option. You didn't send me to Washington to do nothing," Obama told a gathering of 1,500 here on Tuesday, bringing the crowd to its feet as he campaigned for passage of the more than $800 billion package.

The president used the same language Monday in his first prime-time news conference, suggesting that lawmakers who opposed his prescription want the government to ignore the deepening economic crisis.

"There seems to be a set of folks who -- I don't doubt their sincerity -- who just believe that we should do nothing," he said.

But in truth, few of those involved in the stimulus debate are suggesting that the government should not take action to aid the cratering economy.

Many of the president's fiercest congressional critics support a stimulus package of similar size but think it should be built around a much higher proportion of tax cuts than new spending. Others have called for a plan that is half the size of the one headed for a House-Senate conference -- still massive by historical standards.

Even those who think that no new government spending is necessary do not advocate a stand-still approach. A newspaper ad by the Cato Institute, signed by 250 economists, argued for removing "impediments to work, saving, investment and production" and said that "lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth."

You can even read more in that ultra right wing anti government rag, The New York Times. From that article:
“There are those who say these plans are too ambitious, that we should be trying to do less, not more,” Mr. Obama told a town-hall-style meeting in Costa Mesa, Calif., on March 18. “Well, I say our challenges are too large to ignore.”

Mr. Obama did not specify who, exactly, was saying America should ignore its challenges.

Similarly, the next day in Los Angeles, Mr. Obama took on Wall Street and Washington, two of his favorite straw men. “I know some folks in Washington and on Wall Street are saying we should just focus on their problems,” Mr. Obama said. “It would be nice if I could just pick and choose what problems to face, when to face them. So I could say, well, no, I don’t want to deal with the war in Afghanistan right now; I’d prefer not having to deal with climate change right now. And if you could just hold on, even though you don’t have health care, just please wait, because I’ve got other things to do.”

Mr. Obama continued on the offensive against straw men that day in Los Angeles, pointing out that critics told him not to go on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on NBC because “I can’t handle that and the economy at the same time.” Then, his audience primed, he delivered his standard kill line: “Listen, here’s what I say. I say our challenges are too big to ignore.”

And who can argue with that? Like most straw men, Mr. Obama’s are not complete fabrications. White House officials correctly pointed out that Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, took a crack at Mr. Obama for appearing on the Leno show, saying that his “suggestion is that he come back, since he’s taken full responsibility, and get his people together” to confer on the budget.

But that is still a ways from the tortuous construct which Mr. Obama ended up with, that turned Mr. Kyl’s remark into one that somehow needed the “our challenges are too big to ignore” rebuttal, since it suggests that one of those challenges was apparently appearing on Leno.
And just to make it easier to understand for Rob
The telltale indicators that a straw man trick is on the way are the introductory words “there are those who say” or “some say.”

“In strawmanese, you never specify who ‘those who’ are,” Mr. Safire said. “They are the hollow scarecrows you set up to knock down.”

Now there is another version of this trick which does specify the person but is just as dishonest because it implies things that are not said. But that is the subject for another post.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Interesting Exercise

California is facing a $24 Billion dollar deficit, and everyone is trying to figure out how to pay for it since the voters rejected the tax increase pushed by the Democratic Majority. The LA Times has an interactive site where you can try your hand at balancing the budget. Give it a try.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Senator Lamar Alexander has introduced a bill that would give every tax payer shares of stock in Government Motors and Chrysler, once they emerge from bankruptcy. This makes so much sense, since it gets the government out of the business of running a car company (having failed at governance, they are trying something else) and putting the value that the tax payers have made back into the hands of the tax payer. We should do the same thing with AIG, Citibank and all the rest of the pots that the government has been meddling in.
Of course, this idea makes too much sense to ever come to pass.