Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
August 18, 2012 - August 11, 2012

Monday, May 23, 2011


A Longshot
 Herman Cain Scenario

THE ONE I DIDN'T MENTION. The Fox News beltway pundits were quick to dismiss the candidacy of Herman Cain on Friday, and Chris (bluffed my way out of Econ 10 at Harvard) Wallace scored at least one gotcha in his Sunday interview when Cain seemed to draw a blank on the term "Right of Return."  Moreover, Fox News Sunday had him scheduled just after Ron Paul in its stated round of interviews with Republican presidential candidates, which is to say they've already pigeonholed him in the "no chance" column, an interview formality to be gotten out of the way before the heavy hitters are invited in.

I understand the FNS reasoning. However...

However, I can also foresee a set of circumstances -- "What ifs," if you will -- that could make Cain a surprisingly strong candidate in both the Republican primaries and the general election. I'll share these so you can think about them, as I am doing.

What if Republicans in the key primary states understand the surprising strength of Herman Cain's bio better than the beltway cynics do?

Herman Cain (born December 13, 1945) is an American businessman, political activist, columnist, and radio host from Georgia. He is best known as the former chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza. He is a former deputy chairman (1992–94) and chairman (1995–96) of the civilian board of directors to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Before his business and economics career he worked as a mathematician in ballistics for the United States Navy. Cain's newspaper column is distributed by North Star Writers Group. He lives in the Atlanta suburbs.

This the summary intro paragraph of the Wikipedia biography. It already contains more information about him than you ever get on Fox News, which describes him exclusively as the "former CEO of Godfather's Pizza." But there's a hell of a lot more to Cain's background and personal story than that bit of deliberately contextless ephemera. How many of us know anything about Godfather's Pizza, where it is, how big it is, what its history is, etc, apart from the possibly sinister connotation of its name? So Cain is maybe a figure along the lines of Frank Lucas, played by Denzel Washington in American Gangster, a shady inner city type seeking to go legit by starting up a pizza chain? Think I'm overstating? Here's the actual business history, which reads remarkably differently, in context.

Cain... began working for The Coca-Cola Company as a business analyst. In 1977, he joined Pillsbury where he rose to the position of vice president by the early 1980s. He left his executive post to work for Burger King – a Pillsbury subsidiary at the time – managing 400 stores in the Philadelphia area. Under Cain's leadership, his region went from the least profitable for Burger King to the most profitable in three years. This prompted Pillsbury to appoint him president and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, another of their then-subsidiaries. Within 14 months, Cain had returned Godfather's to profitability. In 1988, Cain and a group of investors bought Godfather's from Pillsbury. Cain continued as CEO until 1996, when he resigned to become CEO of the National Restaurant Association – a trade group and lobby organization for the restaurant industry – where he had previously been chairman concurrently with his role at Godfather's.

Oh. So would it be an unacceptably long waste of words to say "Herman Cain, an executive of Pillsbury Corporation who was responsible for notable turnarounds of two Pillsbury subsidiaries, Burger King and Godfather's Pizza, the latter of which he bought from the parent company and ran successfully for eight years"?

And are you intrigued by the statement "began working... as a business analyst"? I am. Where does that come from? How does a business analyst get to be a major corporate vice president in five years or so? Maybe because he's smart and very well educated? What else they don't tell you about Herman Cain when he shows up to be interviewed.

Cain was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 13, 1945, the son of Lenora (née Davis) and Luther Cain, Jr.[4][5] His mother was a cleaner and his father was a chauffeur.He was raised in Georgia. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and received a Master of Science degree in computer science from Purdue University in 1971, while he was also working full-time in ballistics for the U.S. Department of the Navy.

I grant that these credentials were flashed briefly (and later rather sooner) on chyron during his Wallace interview, but if you'd blinked you'd have missed them. And in a political establishment obsessed with Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and other Ivy League Schools (plus Stanford, Berkeley, and the U. of Chicago), the real significance of Cain's educational credentials may have passed unnoticed. What's Morehouse College? Something even lesser, perhaps, than Sarah Palin's University of Idaho degree in communications or Reagan's Eureka College degree in sociology?  Well, not exactly.

Morehouse College is a private, all-male, historically black college located in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with Hampden-Sydney College and Wabash College, Morehouse is one of three remaining traditional men's colleges in the United States.

Morehouse has a 61-acre (250,000 m2) campus and an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students. The student-faculty ratio is 16:1 and 100% of the school's tenure-track faculty hold tertiary degrees. Along with Clark Atlanta University, Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse School of Medicine and nearby women's college Spelman College, Morehouse is part of the Atlanta University Center.

Morehouse is one of two black colleges in the country to produce Rhodes Scholars, and it is the alma mater of many African-American leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., filmmaker Spike Lee, actor Samuel L. Jackson, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain, Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses, former Bank of America Chairman Walter E. Massey, the first African-American mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan, and former United States Surgeon General David Satcher, among others.

Morehouse is also habitually included in an august list with its own Wikipedia entry:

The Black Ivy League is a colloquial term that at times referred to the historically black colleges in the United States that attracted top African American students prior to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Similar groups include: Public Ivies, Southern Ivies, and the Little Ivies, among others, none of which have canonical definitions.

There is no agreement as to which schools are included in the "Black Ivy League", and sources list different possible members. The 1984 book Blacks in Colleges by Dr. Jacqueline Fleming, states that "... schools that make up the 'Black Ivy league' [include] (Fisk, Morehouse, Spelman, Dillard, Howard, Clark Atlanta Hampton and Tuskegee)." Fleming further notes that, "[t]he presence of Black Ivy League colleges pull the best and most privileged black students....all seven are unique schools, with little overlap among them." Bill Maxwell, in a 2003 series on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), coincides with Fleming in describing the Black Ivy League institutions as being "Howard University, Hampton University, Spelman College, Fisk University, Morehouse College, Tuskegee University and Dillard University." The North Star News described "Howard, Fisk, Hampton, Morehouse, Morgan, Tuskegee, and Cheyney ... as the equivalent of a Black Ivy League."

It's important to note that these schools don't employ, seek, or express any interest in the term "Black Ivy League." If they did, they'd probably also include the small (450 students) West Texas school, Wiley College, celebrated in the movie about that school's great takedown of Harvard in intercollegiate debate in 1935.

What is important is that Herman Cain is part of a truly great American educational tradition that predates Affirmative Action and proves that intelligence, knowledge, hard work, ambition, and strong family values are the true basis of the American dream. Cain took his undergraduate degree in mathematics and his masters in computer science at Purdue, one of the best engineering and applied sciences graduate programs in the nation. He did it on his own. His business career proves that. No corporate diversity program makes men or women profit-loss line managers unless they're the best ones for the job. His career subsequent to 'Godfather's Pizza' demonstrates this aspect of his character many times over:

Cain became a member of the board of directors to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 1992 and served as its chairman from January 1995 to August 1996, when he resigned to become active in national politics. Cain was a 1996 recipient of the Horatio Alger Award.

Cain hosted The Herman Cain Show on Atlanta talk radio station News Talk 750 WSB, a Cox Radio affiliate until February 2011 and serves as a commentator for Fox Business and a syndicated columnist distributed by the North Star Writers Group. In 2009, Cain founded "Hermanator's Intelligent Thinkers Movement" (HITM), aimed at organizing 100,000 activists in every congressional district in the United States in support of a strong national defense, the FairTax, tax cuts, energy independence, capping government spending, and Restructuring Social Security.

Cain publicly opposed the 1993/1994 health care plan of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. While president-elect of the National Restaurant Association he challenged Bill Clinton on the costs of the employer mandate contained within the bill, criticizing its effect on small businesses. Cain has been described as one of the primary "saboteurs" of the plan:
The Clintons would later blame "Harry and Louise," the fictional couple in the ads aired by the insurance industry, for undermining health reform. But the real saboteurs are named Herman and John. Herman Cain is the president of Godfather's Pizza and president-elect of the National Restaurant Association. An articulate black entrepreneur, Cain transformed the debate when he challenged Clinton at a town meeting in Kansas City, Mo., last April. Cain asked the president what he was supposed to say to the workers he would have to lay off because of the cost of the "employer mandate." Clinton responded that there would be plenty of subsidies for small businessmen, but Cain persisted. "Quite honestly, your calculation is inaccurate," he told the president. "In the competitive marketplace it simply doesn't work that way.

Joshua Green of The Atlantic has called Cain's exchange with Clinton his "auspicious debut on the national political stage.

Cain was a senior economic adviser to the Dole/ Kemp presidential campaign in 1996.

In 2004, Cain ran for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, pursuing the seat that came open with the retirement of Democrat Zell Miller. Cain sought the Republican nomination, facing congressmen Johnny Isakson and Mac Collins in the primary. Cain and Collins both hoped to deny Isakson a majority on primary day in order to force him into a runoff. Collins tried to paint Cain as a moderate, citing Cain's support for affirmative action programs, while Cain argued that he was a conservative, noting that he opposed the legality of abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Cain finished second in the primary with 26.2% of the vote, ahead of Collins, who won 20.6%, but because Isakson won 53.2% of the vote, Isakson was able to avoid a runoff.

Let's review. He's more than the "former CEO of Godfather's Pizza." He's a man of notable educational accomplishment, at least six different careers -- businessman, lobbyist, grass roots activist, senatorial candidate, columnist, and talk show host -- but he's no rolling stone dilettante. He has a vision of how things ought to be, he has rock-solid principles, and he's determinedly his own man. Hmmm. How does all that match up with anyone we know?

What if the Republicans and Democrats continue to wander in the wilderness without a budget deal, a real plan for reducing the deficit, an effective strategy for reducing gas and food prices, or the beltway pundits' demanded solution for reduction of unemployment and resuscitation of the stricken American economy? Remember the Trump boomlet? He's never held political office either. Yet people responded because they sensed a need for economic and political common sense, er, business sense. Trump failed to sustain his flurry for several good reasons. He's a New Yorker with no real feel for the rest of the country. He's a man who made a huge and frequently imperiled fortune out of an inherited fortune, he's an egomaniac who can't take a joke at his own expense, ever, and as Herman Cain adroitly pointed out, "He's a bully."

If they can overlook all these crippling defects to give Trump an even momentary advantage in the polls, why might they not respond to Herman Cain, who succeeded in business on smarts without contacts or anything but his own brain, character, and determination. If the economy continues to tank, his lack of public officeholding may vanish as a crippling demerit. Nobody knows where the so-called Independents really stand. If the U.S. Government still has no budget in 2012, no plan for forestalling national bankruptcy, the outsider, nonpolitical status may become the greatest advantage of all.

What if the tea partiers, establishment conservatives, moderate Republicans, and even Independents are fed to the teeth with being called racists for their every opposition to Obama policy?

[Really really FUCKING sick to death of malignant libel...]

We all know that opposition to Obama isn't about race. The truth is that a Herman Cain candidacy could be Obama's worst nightmare. Think about it.

Let's get the MSM spin out of the way immediately. For sure, they'll try to attack Herman Cain as a Clarence Thomas Uncle Tom, a Republican stooge standing in the way of the One, the Obama.

Yuck. All those white tea-partiers...

But would it work?

It would be risky risky business. Risky risky risky business. If tea-partiers and flyover country conservatives coalesced behind Cain, racism would be off the table except for the left-wing 30 percent, despite the fact that they control the media and the academic and pundit classes. The incredible racial ugliness everyone is expecting in the 2012 campaign would be derailed if not silenced (albeit never wholly silenced, so long as lefties live). But the MSM attacks would ultimately fail.

Notice anything? He's not from Yale or Harvard.
He's never trying to sound white. Just American.

The MSM trying to take out Herman Cain as an Uncle Tom will destroy them forever. Number One. They can't erase the popular support he can receive from Americans between the coasts. Number Two. If they want to take on Herman Cain's Southern Baptist roots, won't that bring up Obama's Reverend Wright connections? Unflatteringly? You betcha. Number Three. If Obama got credit for being a community activist, Cain should get credit for being a far more effective political activist (even if neither held office while they were 'activating'). Number Four. We're listening to what Cain says, not how he says it. But speaking of how he says it, he doesn't have two voices. He doesn't sound white when he's talking to Congress or Brian Williams or Chris Wallace. He doesn't sound like a show-biz, deliberately 'g'-dropping preacher when he talks to the folks. He just sounds like a man from Georgia who knows the difference between speaking dramatically before a crowd and speaking thoughtfully on a cable TV news set. It's a continuum. He's not two different people with two opposite and isolated poles; he exhibits no simple black and white reversals (oops, my PC bad.). He has no chin-up-in-the-air Mussolini pose. He has no Harvard Law School, hectoring, I'm smarter than you and you better not forget it tone. He's a guy whose list of top ten favorite pieces of music would probably have something on it for every American, and it wouldn't be a political lie.

MSM, try telling anyone that this man is not black enough to suit the blackness standard of the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Al Sharpton. They'll laugh you out of the fucking ballpark. He graduated from the same college as Martin Luther King. He's from Georgia, not Hawaii. He went to graduate school in Indiana, not Boston. He's us in all the important ways and we like him because we know him and what God he believes in and if that's makes us racists for not preferring the new Lincoln Obama, okay. There's no standard of pure blackness Obama can pass that Herman Cain doesn't surpass by a hundred percent. But the more important standard is that of being American. When the dam breaks, when the enemy invades, when the economy collapses, when the tornado strikes, I'd be proud to stand with Herman Cain at the front lines of whatever it is. With Obama I know I'd be expecting an order to sacrifice myself for his excellency. Or to keep from damaging Michelle's shoes.

[Two talk show memes I'm tired of. Imus has moderated his post-bin Laden cheerleading to "I may not vote for him, but I really like Obama. Everybody does. He's a likeable guy. That's got to be a real problem for anyone running against him." And an otherwise estimable local Philly talk show host keeps repeating that "Obama gives a great speech even if he's not too good on his feet." Both points are nonsensical except for the willingness of people who should know better to repeat them. Obama is NOT likeable. He's an arrogant, condescending, jug-eared nerd whom most people would actively dislike in person. And his speechifying triumphs are long done. Any third rate PR guy could pen the empty platitudes that won the first election; when he has to speak for real he gets tentative, inaccurate, and his first instinct is to lie and ridicule those who disagree. Since the ones he's ridiculing are invariably some of us, it's a losing strategy that can't be called "good" oratory.]

In case you hadn't figured it out, I'm rooting for Cain. (I confidently expect that by nine a.m. this morning he knew more about the Right of Return {made up lefty issue that will never get any traction in negotiations} than I ever knew.) He's the most conservative candidate in the race. And maybe, just maybe, the one who has the best chance of winning on the issues.

Can't get excited about boyish wannabes like Romney and Pawlenty. And who else is left?

Maybe the longshot is our only shot. You tell me. But imagine the final What if:

What if the next Reagan is sitting right under our noses. We've been waiting, pining, desperately yearning for him. What if, just like Reagan, he turns out to be the most conservative with the best demographic chance of winning? And What if he turns out to be the inspired one, the one who can grow as he has always demonstrably grown in life, to be the ultimate rebuttal of everything the left has always derogated about what is most American, and thus leads to an entirely unexpected American Renaissance.

It's happened before. How good is your imagination? How strong your faith?

Stronger than dirt, I'm thinking.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Unexpected

Judgment Day

LOVING ANNIHILATION. Somehow I missed the big surprise that's in the offing, but I knew something was up when I ran across two utterly unexpected news items on the same day. First there was a Fonda cussing out Obama in four-letter terms that involved the word "traitor"(!?). Then there was a poll indicating that only 27 percent of the youthful faithful who voted for Obama were planning to do so again. Heavens to Betsy, I thought. What's the world coming to?

Coming to an end, I learned. Golly. Tomorrow is the big day apparently. I'd gotten used to the idea that we had till 2012 when the Mayan calendar nobody ever much cared about suddenly mind-melds with the Anthropogenic Global Warming set and does us all in for crimes against glaciers and polar bears or something. The new deadline is unexpected and it's caught me kind of off guard, to be honest.

So what are you planning for your last day before The Rapture? I'd been thinking about hosing down the back porch and its furniture, getting ready for a summer that used to be on the way.

Now? I suppose this will ge me branded as stodgy and even irreligious in some quarters, but I'm planning on hosing down the back porch and its furniture, getting ready for summer.

Here's how I look at it. I'm really really really really tired of all the people on the religious right and the self-righteous left who just can't wait for the world to come to an end. What the fuck is wrong with them?

I kind of like living in the world and plan to continue doing so.

Talk to you again on Monday. Like always. If you're not banking on it, that's really unexpected. But who couldn't use some rapture?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cobra Thoughts

More of what we're losing, day by day. And don't forget the big ass-end.

. I have no real good reason for this post. Like so many things, it was a weird process of association. Mrs. CP was wondering what people really think of my deerhound posts, and I said I thought they found them entertaining without necessarily wanting the dog. Because they're too much to handle, too high maintenance, though spectacular. I thought it was like the way I feel about Ferraris, exotic and cool as hell but, you know, no way for me.

So I wallowed this morning in more deerhound videos, which was fun, of course:

None of it works without the big ass-end.

But I also realized I'd picked the wrong point of comparison. Deerhounds aren't Ferraris. Ferraris are refined and smooth and upper class to the point of snootiness. Deerhounds aren't that at all. Borzois are. Afghans are. Greyhounds are. Not deerhounds. Deerhounds are rude and crude and loud and obnoxious, over the top and frequently vulgar. Which is when I remembered the AC Cobra and started looking at Cobra videos. Which led me to a whole new line of thinking.

Something about atavism. Like the way if there had ever been any dogs in the Lord of the Rings movies, the only ones who would have fit in would be deerhounds and wolfhounds. And as I looked at the Cobra videos, I realized that they too have become ancient, a throwback to a more primitive, more vital time. In some ways even more so than the much older Bugattis and Duesenbergs. We can still find the fashion line of the sleek and the opulently stately in the automobiles of today. But there is really nothing to compare to the height of automotive madness that was the Cobra. Not even the obviously imitative Viper, which is an all too quiet parade machine.

Several other things are notable and perversely relevant to our current state of affairs. The Cobra may have been the last truly gestalt collaboration between the Brits and the Americans in technology. Its basis was a typically tiny Brit sportscar called the AC Bristol. American Carroll Shelby figured out that he could shoehorn a small-block Ford V-8 into the engine bay, which was the birth of the original 289 Cobra, a beast that slew Corvettes by the hundreds in SCCA racing in the mid 1960s. Then came the typically American upping of the ante. Shelby figured out how to jam a NASCAR-quality big block Ford engine with four Weber carburetors producing more than 500 horsepower into a slightly modified AC chassis with an ass-end swollen to accommodate much bigger, grippier tires, and an ultra-legend was born. The 427 Cobra weighed next to nothing, had an automatic transmission because no one could manually shift fast enough to maximize its acceleration, and it could go from zero to sixty in 3.9 seconds and zero to a hundred in well under 10 seconds. Depending on the gear ratios selected, it could reach 200 mph with virtually linear acceleration. It cost about $8,000.

It was also, for all its British roots, loud, flashy, and so instantly and terrifyingly fast that you couldn't be a silver-haired banker looking for young tail and safely own it. You had to know how to drive it or the car would flat kill you. The suspension was good, but with almost unlimited power under the throttle, you can get sideways and off the road in a heartbeat. The Cobra was no rich Casanova's rolling bedroom.

The engine was so highly tuned that it could only operate on Sunoco 260 megatane gasoline, no longer available today (sigh). It was so radically configured that the engine roughness you hear in the videos is a function of a racing cam that barely runs at idle; it wants you to stamp on the throttle and hit a sweet spot of 7,000 rpm -- in other words, it's junk around town; no environment for sweet-talking 18-year-old girls into your clutches.

It has become one of the rarest of all automotive legends. Only 200 of the 427 Cobras were ever made. Most of them still survive, having come gradually into the hands of those who know how to drive them and care for them. At the same time, no car in history has ever inspired such a vigorous replica industry. Obviously, the thing speaks to individual souls in a way few cars ever have,

Here's the rub. The Cobra is clearly an archetype of the fossil fuel evil liberals want to remove from our lives. Yeah, it got crappy gas mileage. But it was also an apex of the automotive esthetic. While they piddle around in their Priuses, I can't help thinking that we're losing something important about ourselves.

Is this how you want so see yourselves in the more responsible progressive age? Or do you dream in your deepest hearts of something more like this?

He's babying it, because the car is worth a gazillion dollars. But it's a taste.

Sorry for interrupting your New Age meditations...

I'm just saying... You
know what I'm saying?

THE DIAMOND STATE. Prevoiously, we have noted this:

Delaware is 20 minutes away from here. It's a state with three counties, only one of them inhabited and that one by one city. Which means they're nothing but levels of government; federal, state, municipal (Wilmington), "greater Wilmington" a.k.a. New Castle County, and townships, of course, all piled on top of individual citizens. Does it work? No. DelDot, the offending agency here, is a tri-state joke (NJ, PA, and DE). We all know that Delaware traffic signage is designed to get you lost and that DelDot "improvement" projects invariably involve years of main artery shutdowns with no visible signs of progress ever. On any given day, about half of the lanes of the Delaware Memorial bridges to and from New Jersey are closed for maintenance, although, oddly, there's rarely a DelDot truck or worker in sight.

Lately, it's gotten much much worse. On the Friday of Easter weekend, I tried to cross the bridge and discovered that it was down to one lane. It took me more than 45 minutes to traverse one mile of bridge approach. When I finally got onto the bridge, there was still no sign of actual work being undertaken. Just a cop car or two and a miscellaneous truck parked in one of the lanes. But I think I now know what that travesty was all about:

Delaware Memorial Bridge tolls set to rise July 1

May 18, 2011|By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer

Auto tolls on the Delaware Memorial Bridge are slated to increase by $1, to $4, on July 1 following unanimous approval of the new tolls by the Delaware River and Bay Authority commissioners Tuesday.

Higher tolls are needed to pay for repairs and upgrades on the bridge that connects New Jersey and Delaware at the southern end of the New Jersey Turnpike and I-295, officials said.

"The effects of age and heavy use mandate substantial capital improvements in order for the DRBA to continue to provide safe and efficient travel" over the bridge, DRBA chairman Bill Lowe said in a statement.

Yeah, the bridges need work. Ha ha. Who doesn't get it by now? The suckers don't want that one-lane stuff. Soften'em up for a few months with long delays and mucho inconvenience. Then they'll be happy to hear that repairs will be made with a 33 percent increase in the toll. Private sector capitalist enterprises struggle to keep inflation in single digits, even in a time of runaway gas and food prices. Governments just fart in your face and raise prices by a third because they always have the option of mafia-style protection: you wouldn't want anything bad to happen during your daily commute, would you? Would you?

You know what I'm saying? I think you do.

Delaware. Home of "Jovial Joe" Biden. Who cares so much about the little guy.

F___ off, Joe. Yeah. That's what I'm saying.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Odds and Ends

As always, InstaPunk remains at the center of the passing parade.

WILLIE.21.1-2. A lot of sloppy stupid stuff going on, but not much that's worthy of an essay-type post. So maybe you'll forgive me for a series of non sequiturs that don't add up to anything but a self-satisfied InstaPunk smirk.

Trump is out. Color me bored. As I predicted, he found out PDQ that politics is a blood sport in which even self-ordained titans can be laid low in seconds. Still, I have to concede that Big Hollywood had a point about a certain debt of gratitude we probably owe him.

Speaking of Big Hollywood, this was a delightful reminiscence about John Wayne, and this was an educational reminder about the substance of Ronald Reagan and the careless viciousness of the left-wing media.

Schwarzenegger. Pretty tired of the celebrity rules in Kally-FOR-neea. No journalist could have sussed this out when he ran in the first place? Were they protecting Ahnold or their only frail link to the Kennedy royalty? Doesn't matter. The whole episode is very Hollywood, very Kennedy, and very over the top. Just like the whole bankrupt state of Kally-FOR-neea. Do I care? Not at all.

Huckabee's out, too. I thought, to be honest, that it was a non-item. But then I heard him as a guest on a local Philly talk radio show. Not being a candidate apparently empowers him to speak more bluntly about what he thinks. My jaw dropped when he dared to say what so many people know but don't have the nerve to express: Obama is a shallow thinker, bright, sure, but not penetrating enough to be even a passable president. He also described contemporary American politics as a kind of cesspool (my distillation, not his words), in which money can elevate the worst over the best. Maybe Huckabee does have a role to play in the upcoming campaign follies. I'm reevaluating.

Three cheers for Hillary. The first major political figure to give the finger to Jimmy Carter he's richly deserved throughout his self-serving post-presidential bid for acclaim. Asked if she wanted to meet with him after his trip to North Korea, she said, "No." Then she elaborated. "HELL no."

Three more Republican candidates are all but out. Gingrich mouthed off the cuff once too often. Good riddance. His lame support for ethanol and global warming alarmism was already a fatal long-term problem. His betrayal of Paul Ryan's brave effort to address the budget and the deficit were the last straw. Huntsman is done before he even got started. He accepts global warming because 90 percent of scientists do, which they don't. Add to that his gushing praise for the leadership of Obama and nobody will vote for him in the primaries. Thank goodness. And Mitt Romney refused to admit that RomneyCare in Massachusetts was a mistake. He prefers to quibble about bureaucratic differences between the progam that's bankrupting Massachusetts and the ObamaCare program that will bankrupt the United States. Nobody wants to hear why Romney is technically blameless for an evidently socialist government intrusion into the health care mess he personally sponsored and passed into law.

O'Reilly debated Jon Stewart on the subject of the rapper Common's invitation to the White House. He lost. Because he never made the only point that matters. The president can invite anyone he wants to the White House. (Dumb as hell to stake your whole position on opposition to that elemental truth.) But is it a good idea? In this case, no. Bad PR move. We already know how Obama feels about white cops interacting with African-Americans. This wasn't a good time to remind everyone that he's black first and American second. But neither O'Reilly nor Stewart could bring themselves to mention the elephant in the room. You know. We're all too polite to bring up race. Advantage lefties. Stewart was the cleverer one, but his smarts can't overcome presidential stupids.

Nancy Pelosi's congressional district accounted for 20 percent of April's waivers of compliance with ObamaCare. You couldn't make this stuff up. Nothing to see here. Move along.

60 percent of the French think Americans set up the IMF chairman with sexual assault charges. Those would be the same French who think Roman Polanski sodomizing a 13-year-old is not so much rape as droit de seigneur. And they can't understand why the "no bail" decision. Maybe they should ask Roman about that.

InstaPunk had something of a set-to (see Comments, too) with the Ron Paul faithful. Now they're uncharacteristically silent. Somehow I don't think they're bored. I think they're tongue-tied.

And, finally, just for fun, Apotheosis posted this photo in a comment on our latest post about the deerhound Raebert.

All I can tell you is, that dog's NOT Raebert. If there's a more comfortable spot to be had, he's in it. Trust me.

I know you do. Because I'm at the center of everything...

Monday, May 16, 2011


The point all Republicans
are too dumb to make...

THEY'RE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, DAMN THEIR HIDES.... They always seem to lose the framing arguments, don't they? Today's the day the debt limit is scheduled to go critical. The Republicans talk about cutting spending. The Democrats talk about the frightful human costs of cutting federal programs and the more sensible alternative of raising taxes.  The Republicans resist raising taxes because that somehow hobbles the government's responsibility to create jobs in a weak economy. Because it's rich Republicans who create jobs when they're not otherwise engaged in supervising the custom builds of their $100 million dollar yachts. Why the Democrats tend to win such confrontations. Republicans talk vaguely about growing the whole economy, which the Dems instantly reduce to the old lingo of "tickle down economics," and voters confront the pitched battle between those who would penalize ordinary working people versus those who want to make the richest pay their fair share.

The simple truth the Republicans never state flat out:

Raising tax rates does not automatically increase tax revenue,
whereas cutting federal spending always decreases the deficit.

Forget who's paying the taxes. It's not a class issue. It's more like simple physics. There's an optimum level of tax rates that's like a perfectly balanced carpenter's level. When it's right -- i.e., when the lozenge is floating between the markers on right and left, tax revenue is maximized. The portion of the lozenge that's between the markers is tax revenue. You can tip the level either way, but if you tip it out of balance tax revenues decline.

If tax rates are too low, available revenues are left on the table. If tax rates are too high, available revenues are left on the table.

Note that this is neither a conservative nor a liberal argument. When ideologies are figured in, conservatives don't mind tilting toward lesser federal revenues because they want to shrink government, and liberals don't mind tilting toward lesser federal revenues because -- but wait! -- they do mind lesser federal revenues. They're just stone ignorant about economics and the functioning of the capitalist markets they've never liked.

Which leads us to the underlying philosophies of the parties the Republicans should be doing everything possible to exploit and never do.

The biggest Big Lie Democrats and liberals of every stripe subscribe to is not the idiocy of George W. Bush and all Republicans in general, bad as that libel is. It's worse than that. Much worse than that. It's their reflexive allegiance to the static model and the zero-sum view of human society.

What's the static model? Thank you for asking. It's the belief that the economy is a machine that behaves according to machine rules, which is to say that human decision-making in response to changing circumstances is not a factor. More specifically, it holds everything else constant when it contemplates some change. All will remain as it is now except for the one change we are contemplating. That's how the CBO scores ObamaCare as a net cost saver. ALL OTHER FACTORS REMAINING THE SAME, ObamaCare will reduce healthcare costs and pay for itself. Never mind that premiums are already rising as economic participants in the altered health universe are anticipating huge dislocations of future income opportunities and historically predictable massive cost increases associated with greater federal control. (Medicare now costs dozens of times the most pessimistic Republican projections when it passed.) That's how the Obama administration scores a big tax increase on "rich" people. They will continue to make as much money as they do now and we will simply take a bigger percentage of it. Revenues will automatically increase. The machine motors on and individual human decisions can't possibly affect it. Even though the human record itself makes a joke of static analysis and the machine view.

Interesting perspective for the "party of the people," isn't it? I can illustrate this fallacy by an anecdote from my business school days, with an idiotic but triumphant performance by one of the most esteemed professors at my Ivy League Business School. He said, smirking, "It's been argued that progressive tax rates create a disincentive for income generation. I'd like to deal with that right now." He held up a (Roosevelt) dime. "Here's my proposition. If I offer to give you a dollar with the understanding that I'll take back 90 cents and leave you with only a dime, don't you still want the dime? Of course you do." He smiled happily and repocketed his dime.

I can still remember how very satisfied he was with himself. Of course, his proposition was a fake. Like most illustrious university professors, he forgot about the question of work. Give me a dollar, take back 90 cents, and I'll accept the dime. But would I work for that dollar knowing it's only a dime? No. Not on your life. Because as a human being, I value my time. The more likely outcome is that I refuse to play if 90 percent of my effort is paid to someone else.

His was the machine view, the liberal view. But contrary to the great love, tolerance, and understanding by liberals of all us weak, fallible humans, the economy is not a machine; it's an organism, alive, aware, and alert to the decision points created by every major change in the rules of operation. If you systematically remove my incentives for effort and risk-taking, by penalizing my effort and risk-taking, I will withdraw my efforts and end my risk-taking. I'll make less and have less to tax, regardless of the rates you impose. The carpenter's level has been tilted un the direction of reduced revenues. Don't argue with me. Argue with the damned level and the lozenge that veers out of the optimum zone.

The other Democrat/liberal fallacy -- the second Big Lie they tell themselves so often they believe it (or do they?) -- is that capitalism is a zero-sum game. That's the source of their usually unspecified grudge against the prosperous. The premise of the lie is that every dollar a rich person acquires is at the expense of a poor or middle class person. Almost 300 years after Adam Smith, they would have you believe, they still don't accept the concept of wealth creation, that a rising tide lifts all boats. In point of fact, they have to know this is a lie they are telling for political gain.

Every time they make the argument that the rich have somehow unfairly benefited and need to "give something back," they are explicitly denying the history of the American economy that has made us the richest, freest, and most upwardly mobile society in the record of all human civilizations. If economics were a zero-sum game, we'd all still be sharing the scarcities of 15th century plague-ridden economies in medieval Europe, with no indoor plumbing and life expectancies in the late thirties.

Where do they think the contributions they get from Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, and the Google Boys come from? Their fortunes weren't ripped from the mouths of orphans and widows. They were created, not out of thin air, but out of rich minds who inspired lucrative demand for attractive products. The same way it's always been done in this extraordinary land -- by Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and (fill in the blanks, ad infinitum).

I understand why most liberals in congress and on the national scene don't understand America. How pitifully few of them have ever created anything but a campaign for their own personal politcal ambitions.

What I have a harder time understanding is why there are so few Republicans who even sense the opportunity to demand a philosophical referendum that would indict their liberal foes as aliens in their own country and vipers in its bosom.

I'm taking no prisoners on this. None of the candidates -- not even the sainted Ron Paul -- has had the wit to state the nub of the argument without descending into thickets of economic jargon and ideological/philosophical jabberwocky:

Raising tax rates does not automatically increase tax revenue,
whereas cutting federal spending always decreases the deficit.
It's not a class issue. It's simple physics. Think carpenter's level.

There's plenty of history to cite. We've already had 90 percent tax rates in the lifetimes of living Americans. In the Eisenhower administration. JFK cut them back and increased revenues substantially. Reagan did the same. His tax cuts also dramatically increased federal revenue, which the Democrat congress happily spent into deficit. George W. Bush increased tax revenues by cutting tax rates. Why the hell is it so hard for a Republican to say these simple words?

Raising tax rates does not automatically increase tax revenue.

Because they're so dumb they can't let go of the idea that their best chance for election is pretending that it's the federal government's job to "create" jobs by running things the right way.

The government doesn't create jobs. The right tax rates aren't about ideology, Paulistas take note. At the moment, the federal government needs all the revenue it can get. It really does. The wolf is at the door. Time to take the ideological bullshit and class warfare out of the discussion.

A Kind(ish) Word
About Ron Paul

I watched the whole thing. Can you?

YEAH, SO LET'S ALL PRETEND TO TAKE RON PAUL SERIOUSLY. Don't get your hopes up.  I overcame my irrational sense of his hysterical tone and personal creepiness long enough to watch his interview with Chris Wallace yesterday. So I'm now prepared to talk not about his personal creepiness but his platform.

It's possible that he is, as Juan Williams (never mind his motives) was intimating today on Imus, a seminal figure in the remaking of the Republican Party. As was Barry Goldwater. This is not a small thing.

When I was a management consultant, I gave seminars to top executives a couple decades ago on the subject of "mental models." (A subject I understand Glenn Beck has recently recycled under another name.) The idea is that our sense of the possible is determined by a consensus that can occasionally be wrenched in a different direction, so that what used to seem insane becomes part of our horizon of possibilities.

I accept that Ron Paul is saying things that haven't been said for a long time. In this respect, he is expanding the mental model of what is possible. I'm pleased that young people are undergoing this mental stretching exercise.

I was also impressed that he answered Chris Wallace's questions so directly. He's obviously an honest man. More power to him. I am absolutely convinced that he is sincere.

But here, I confess, is the end of my kudos to Ron Paul. And the beginning of my message to his followers.

Ron Paul will never be president. He may run and run and run....

Ever heard of Harold Stassen?

...but he will never be a nominee of the Republican Party and he will never be president. Why? Because he is more ideologue than politician, and he is running for the presidency of a country that no longer exists.

I'm not even talking about his foreign policy, which is ludicrous and verging on criminal. I'm talking about his very conception of the presidency, the American people, and the state of our culture. It represents a nostalgia for a time that hasn't existed in the lifetime of Americans. He wants to be Calvin Coolidge, basically a remote civil servant located in the White House, with no responsibility for the disasters, ruptures, and snafus that strike every one of the fifty states from time to time. "Not my business," he proudly announces. "That's not who the president is supposed to be."

Fine. But even Reagan knew better than that. Like it or not, the president of the United States is the most powerful and influential man in the world.. Americans are long long past accepting him as a mere accountant of the nation's balance sheet. There may be value in Paul's view but there is no currency in his stated policy. He and all his followers can rue the ancient day when the game changed, but Americans by an overwhelming majority now believe in a national safety net. We can debate how safe that net that should be, battle about its costs and benefits, but if you argue it shouldn't be there at all, you are simply quaint, a curiosity who will never be taken seriously. That part of our national debate is no longer on the table.

Honestly, he puts me in mind of Rip van Winkle. A whole bunch of people who, for reasons of youth or inexcusable inattention, suddenly became aware of a crisis in American poliltics without any knowledge of how we got where we are. Sometimes it seems he's running against FDR in 1936, still trying to undo the Keynesian disaster of the Great Depression and forestall the losses of saving the U.S. from war with Hitler.

What's hard to communicate to the new true believers: The oldness of his positions, meaning not the inveterate wisdom of them but the obsolete temporality in which they might have made sense. Is it a coincidence that he is also old and cannot see the world except through old old eyes that only seem new to youngsters who still think they can turn back the clock to the days before nuclear weapons, the Cold War, and that distant instant when we might have passed up the responsibility to be the adult in the room of the world?

None of him is new. The only thing that is new is the desire of the left to tar all of us with his archaic platitudes. He's having a vogue now because they would like us to be dismissible, all the way down to him and his simplistic perspectives.

I don't begrudge him his right to speak and attract followers. I'm simply tired to death of the evangelical fervor that insists he's a sage voice telling us who are old enough to know better that he's saying anything new. Or, that he as a personality is anything but another manifestation of the fashion called retro.

Goldwater? Reagan? No. Stassen? Tell you in 2016.

But I concede he believes what he's preaching to the last breath.

P.S. You might want to read the exchange between Brizoni and me in the Comments section. That's why I'm inserting this video.

All the Paulistas might want to compare and contrast this with the video of Ron Paul's appearance on Fox News Sunday. If you don't know the history, this is the event known as 'The Speech,' which launched Ronald Reagan's political career. It was the only shining moment in the absolutely disastrous 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. It was run again and again, because it was the only positive, upbeat communication associated with Goldwater's march toward electoral suicide.

I watched it with my parents the first time it aired, 47 years ago. It was absolutely electrifying. (I was 10 and I still remember the moment; only the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 are as seared into my memory.) I think you'll find that the opening citations of federal debt and levels of taxation could be the opening of a Republican candidate address in 2011 almost unchanged.

Like the Paulista Minutemen, Brizoni over-interpreted what I was saying in the post above. I wasn't disagreeing with Paul's ideals. I was saying, "Quit telling us oldsters we don't understand. We do. But we also know that winning the political battles isn't about being a fusspot curmudgeon who insists that he, just like the liberals, knows more about what we need than the average people do."

Compare and contrast. Paul harps on everything that's wrong. Everything he'll undo. Reagan does a lot of that, too. But he also shares a vision of just how great we can be, a magnificent hope and faith in the American people. Somehow, constant kvetching about the Federal Reserve doesn't accomplish the same end result. Note also that the isolationism Paulistas insist is part of the "package" of liberty takes on an entirely different, and far more realistic, spin here.

But I'm sure, as always, you know better, just as you know more about economics than an old fart with thirty-some years of business experience and even more than that in the practice of effective communications.

Two Sci-Fi Reviews in One day

The hero hates us. Cool.

KEEPING YOU CURRENT. You think I spend all my time puzzling over Mike Huckabee's intentions? Think again.

All right. I saw two movies, one called "Equilibrium." and one called "The Day the Earth Stood Still."

Last first. The Keanu Reeves opus almost caused a fight with the missus. She said, early on, "I hate this." But I was determined. You know me. I love lefties. I had to watch all the way to the bitter end to make the pronouncement that this was the single awfullest big-budget sci-fi movie ever made. Which it was.

I was no fan of the original, which is where I parted company with Mrs. CP. She liked Michael Rennie. I despise the whole genre of movies that make Earth the bad boy of the cosmology set. When the aliens come to tell us that we are somehow uniquely terrible in the community of intelligent species, all I can see is the liberal equivalent of original sin turned back on itself by the presumption of superior rationality,

English translation. If Darwin is right, as the scientists insist he is, life erupts into intelligence as part of an inevitable predatory spiral. The strong eat the weak and get stronger and smarter. How could it be otherwise? So, when the aliens come, they are interfering either because they've forgotten their own evolutionary roots or because evolution isn't an apt description of how mankind came to be in the first place. In either case, they have a lot of nerve threatening us with extinction because, whoever they are now, even we backward whatever-we-ares have never attempted annihilating an entire species on purpose. Isn't committing species-level genocide though you're a million years more advanced than we are a good deal worse than harpooning one too many whales in the early industrial age? You tell me, O You Secular Moralists.

Of course, Keanu had done his intelligence homework. He knew he could do this whole godlike part without a second of acting. He knew the script was as brilliant as anything a Keanu could think of. For example, he got to condemn humanity to death based on a single meeting with one solitary alien mole who had lived as a human in New York's Chinatown for 70 years. Even then, doubts were expressed. But hey, one guy, one neighborhood, one ambigious verdict, how do you think the universe would decide the fate of six and a half billion non-New Yorkers? How any New York liberal would have conducted the research. You just have to love a liberal's sense of fairness and justice...

Why I loved this movie so much. (Loved it, loved it, loved it.) Perfect exhibition of the lefty mentality in the northeast. Perfect. Though maybe one spokesman for all five boroughs shouldn't get the say-so for the whole fucking planet. There's Jersey, too. What do you think?

Sorry but I have to skip to the ending, where all of modern technology is wiped out. Supposedly a happy ending. Only 6.2 of 6.5 billion people are destined to die of starvation, disease, and unspeakable battles for nonexistent resources, as opposed to the whole enchilada. (Even Escape from LA made this the apocalypse it obviously is...) And Hollywood thinks we want to see this kind of crap?

We don't. Which is why the palate cleanser is a very little known movie called Equilibrium. Christian Bale, Sean Bean, and the usual British delight with a hopelessly ecstatic fantasy called "no emotions whatever." It's as fun a movie as an incredibly depressing post-apocalyptic nightmare can be. For once, Christian Bale is good looking. He has a love interest he actually touches fingers with, briefly, oh so slightly, before she is burned to death in a crematory oven. What the Brits call flaming passion.

It's still ten times the movie described above. And for once it doesn't seem leftist but about life and living and all that stuff and what it might mean, even if you're a Brit.

I know that was brief and ambiguous. Whatever you do, Don't watch this -- or at least not all of it. It has big-time spoilers in it. Final Word? In comparison to this movie, Neo was a pussy. Okay?

I warned you...

Courtesy of Mrs. CP film productions.

SILENCE DOES NOT PAY, UNLESS IT DOES. Yeah. Raebert again. Self-explanatory, I think.

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