Saturday, June 28, 2008

Giving Thanks for Big Pharm

During a week in which I am preparing to move to a different part of Dallas then start a new job on Monday, I have been diagnosed with strep throat. Fortunately, the drugs the doctor prescribed are taking effect, and I am entering the functional universe again.

Should Tax Policy Encourage Home Ownership?

For decades, U.S. tax policy has helped to encourage home ownership by allowing taxpayers to write off home mortgage interest, but liberal economist and columnist Paul Krugman thinks this should stop.

Mr. Krugman, who owns the home that he lives in, expresses the concern about home ownership that liberals apply to most issues: it involves risk. As the result of this and other disadvantages (oh, no, people go to the suburbs to buy homes), he argues that the federal government should "try to level the playing field that, at the moment, is hugely tilted against renting."

In making this argument, he miscontrues statements by both President Bush and an advisor to Barack Obama's campaign, claiming that those statements described renters as "second class citizens." They did no such thing. Both the President and the Democrat quoted meant to say nothing more than that the aspiration of most Americans is to own their own home.

Of course, it is not altogether surprising that Mr. Krugman does not recognize that aspiration. When a person moves far enough to the left, he often does not see much importance in individuals owning anything.

Living Lean with the Self-Absorbed

Frugality is certainly a laudable virtue, and for many a necessity in a tight economy, but it would be difficult to parody this:

"So begins my Year of Living Frugally. And you know what? I've discovered that frugality can be fun. It's a lost art that has not gotten the respect it deserves in our mindless pursuit of luxury of the last few decades. I've embraced the Zen-like satisfaction that comes with living like a Yankee: making do, using up or doing without....Frugality has resurrected an inner resourcefulness rendered dormant when the cash flowed."

Divided in Unity

Over the years, I have known of a number of congregations named "Unity Baptist Church." In every instance, that name did not reveal a reality; rather, it tried to mask one. Those churches tended to result from nasty divisions.

Nonetheless, the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton must have worked long and hard searching maps for a place called Unity to join hands and sing Kumbaya. That they felt the need to work so hard for that bit of symbolism might be instructive. But they found it, and yesterday they met there, saying all the right things while looking somewhat uncomfortable as supporters of the Senator from New York continued to express doubts about their support for a candidate representing the wrong grievance group.

The problem is that Ms. Clinton knows that she has lost, but cannot quite bring herself to leave the limelight. If she unequivocally denied interest in the vice-presidency and promised unconditional support of whoever is on the ticket, she could give her supporters clear direction as to their proper allegiance and return to being the Senator from New York. However, she will not do that, and one senses that she is still attempting a calculation as to what outcome in this campaign will best serve her personal interests.

The Clinton's rarely won gracefully, and now we know that they don't know how to lose either. Surely, Peggy Noonan is right when she contrasts this race with the normal:

The way it used to be is you ran and lost and either disappeared or pitched in. Mrs. Clinton continues making Mr. Obama look the dauphin to her embittered and domineering queen.

What a hothouse of egos and drama the Democratic Party has become.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Inflation Doves

NRO's Larry Kudlow laments that Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Board seem to be turning their backs on a monetary policy that has successfully contributed to economic growth for the last quarter of a century:

Talk of major new tax hikes is in the air today, while the inflationary decline of the American dollar is plain fact. It’s as though our economic memory is being erased, both in tax and monetary terms. Staunchly optimistic supply-siders Arthur Laffer and Steve Moore are even finishing a book on the subject. Called The Gathering Economic Storm, its concluding chapter is titled: “The Death of Economic Sanity.”

Words and Guns

Many commentators, not liking the outcome, will criticize the Supreme Court's decision today in D.C. v. Heller, without bothering to read it. That is unfortunate, as the opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, is a tour de force.

Justice Scalia provides a careful grammatical and historical analysis of the language of the Second Amendment, an approach that provides credence to the commendation by a close personal friend, who responded to reports of the ruling by exclaiming, "The Supreme Court can finally read plain English."

I pointed out that five of its members can, anyway.

Actually, they all read English quite well, but Justice Stephens' dissent reads like a conclusion in desperate search of an argument. In that regard, it typifies the judicial approach of the activist left. For those who think that the right to own guns makes for dangerous policy, there is the option of seeking to amend the Constitution. Short of that, words do mean something, and for those who can both read and value the fact that we live under a government of laws and not of men, it should surely be recognized that the Court decided rightly.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Good Life Changes Mean Light Blogging

Between starting a new job next week and moving to a different part of this north Texas metropolis, there has not been much time for blogging. I hope that things will pick up soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Country Wide Bailout?

Richard Armey gets it right on ill-advised legislation that would transfer the risk of bad loans from companies like Countrywide to the federal taxpayer:

In a free market, businesses take risks and reap either profits or losses. But markets only work when businesses are held accountable for their bad decisions. The message this proposed legislation sends to the market is clear: Big lenders like Countrywide who make bad bets can count on generous bailouts -- and responsible renters, homeowners and taxpayers who pay their bills on time can count on getting stuck with the tab.

The Kiss of Death?

So, Al Gore has endorsed Barack Obama for President.

Anyone remember how that worked out for Howard Dean? The Gore endorsement in December 2003 was almost immediately followed by a free fall in the polls, a loss in Iowa, and, famously, a real scream.

The Obama candidacy may have taken a real hit with this.

Wasting away Democrats

In a statement that appears on the Tennessee Democratic Party's website, a member of that organization's executive committee admits that he is so irresponsible and stupid that he made blatantly offensive and negative comments solely on the basis of information received from a single source that he considers biased and unreliable.

That's not quite the way that he said it.

Prior to reading this statement, one might have felt a certain kind of sympathy for Fred Hobbs. The prominent Tennessee Democrat had previously commented that he was concerned that Barack Obama "may be terrorist-connected." The comments not only were not in the interest of his party, but they are considered both misleading and disreputable by most people. Mr. Hobbs quickly found himself the subject of severe criticism.

Had Mr. Hobbs simply apologized and crawled back under the rock he came out from, that would be fine. Instead, he has engaged in a desperate attempt to curry favor with his party by taking an unsubtle, clumsy and ham handed cheap shot at a target generally despised by Democrats. He wrote, "My comments did reflect questions I had after what I had seen reported on Fox News...."

When Mr. Hobbs first made his remarks about Sen. Obama, a press release from the state Democratic Party somehow attempted to blame Republicans for a comment by a member of the Tennessee Democratic Party's executive board. Now, they make an equally silly effort to blame Fox News.

Perhaps before issuing any more statements or press releases, Tennessee Democrats should listen to a little Jimmy Buffett. In Margaritaville, they might figure out where to cast the blame.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Problem of Pursuing Perfection

Major League Baseball, concerned that umpires occasionally make errors, is considering making use of instant replay to review decisions involving whether a ball has left the field of play. One hopes that those seeking perfection in umpiring decision making will remember that the most common criticism that the general public has of baseball does not involve the competence of umpires, but the pace of the game. Indeed, George Will is right that baseball stands in danger of becoming more like football in its most unflattering aspect:

In the NFL, coaches' challenges, which trigger replays, contribute to the sense that a game consists of about seven minutes of action -- seriously: Use a stopwatch, and you will confirm that -- encrusted with three hours of pageantry, hoopla and instant-replay litigation.

That's the NFL. The onslaught of replay has had an even worse effect on college football, whose games rarely end in less than three and a half hours any more.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pleasures and Provocations

The Anchoress links to video of George Will's appearance with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. It is not a format I would have expected Mr. Will to do well in, but he is, in fact, very good. He is both witty and incisive.

The Show Must Go On

It has not been a good year to be an official of a major state political party in Tennessee. A few months ago, the state Republican Party garnered well-deserved criticism for a controversial press release making use of Barack Obama's middle name.

Now, several Tennessee Democrats seem to be outdoing themselves in an effort to look ridiculous.

Because Pricing Plane Tix Shouldn't Be as Complicated as Pricing a Computer

Doug Miller posts a copy of an ad from Southwest Airlines that serves, without mentioning it, as a reminder of why the Wright Amendment needed to be repealed.

Thank you, Southwest.

Valuing Substance over Style

Rod Dreher explains why he won't vote for Barack Obama, even though there is much to like about the Senator from Illinois -- and much to dislike about his Republican opponent:

Obama sounds a lot more reasonable than most Democrats because he has a way of treating his opponents with respect, and treating their arguments as something he disagrees with, but not evidence of their intrinsic evil. This is good.

But in the end, Obama always takes the standard liberal position in his voting. That's fine if you're a standard liberal, but it does indicate that his post-partisanship is a matter of style, not substance....

I think the "Obamacons" are fooling themselves. I don't blame them one bit for liking Obama, and for being sick of the Republicans. I join them in both. But as someone who will either vote McCain through gritted teeth, or vote third party, I don't know how a principled conservative casts a vote for a candidate whose positions are as liberal as Barack Obama's.

That is pretty close to my own position. However, I can say with certainty that I will not vote for a third party.

Delivering Votes Overnight?

Adam Groves reports on speculation that John McCain will choose Federal Express CEO Fred Smith as his vice-presidential nominee.

Mr. Smith has never run for public office. However, as I reported at the time, he acquitted himself well while participating in a panel discussion with U.S. Representative John Tanner (D-TN) and former U.S. Senator and U.S. ambassador to China Jim Sasser at the 2006 meeting of the National Conference of State Legislators.

Defining Virtue with Strength

Joe Carter, after reviewing the content of Proverbs 31, which is frequently cited by evangelicals as defining what is a "virtuous woman," points out that the ideal presented in that chapter in many ways describes someone who is very different than what modern day conservative Christians have in mind when they discuss women's roles. He concludes:

But we need to carefully consider how the qualities and virtues presented in Proverbs 31 can be translated into our own time and culture. As Christians we need to present a more robust view of the role of the "noble wife" that is rooted more in the Bible than in 50's-era faux nostalgia.

Read the rest here.

"Let the Morons Speak"

Nashville attorney Nathan Moore points out that some legal scholars on the left would restrict free speech in the name of protecting democracy. In contrast, he then passionately advocates in favor of the free market of ideas:

The position that thought can be controlled by a central authority, and that this is good, gives mankind no credit whatsoever. It is thinking people that have changed the world we inhabit, and it is thinking people who conquer those who are randomly firing the most hate-filled of neurons.

Hope He's Right

Drawing comparisons to previous busts in the prices of housing and tech stocks, Fortune Magazine editor at large Shawn Tully argues that the price of oil is bound to eventually fall:

We've learned another important lesson from the housing market: The longer prices stay stratospheric, the worse the eventual crash - simply because the higher the prices and bigger the profit margins, the bigger the incentive to over-produce.

It's even possible that, a few years hence, we could see a sustained period of plentiful oil supplies and low prices, meaning $50 or below.

Sadly True

Stuart Buck has this rather disconcerting thought:

I'd suggest, however, that outside of physical ailments (including everything from cancer to starvation), "falling in love" is ultimately responsible for maybe half of all the misery experienced by the human race.

A Political Tragedy of Shakespearean Proportions

World Magazine's Peter Jackson suggests that there might be a negative "smear campaign" directed against John McCain by Democrats accusing him of negative campaign tactics that he is not guilty of.

Indeed. It appears that we are condemned to a campaign focused on who is negative and who is not. There will be many accusations, many protestations and expressions of hurt feelings, and many exclamations of heart-felt apologies when someone must express remorse over seemingly crossing that invisible line. Candidates will distance themselves from supporters, and pundits will gravely question whether such distancing was both far enough and timely.

Both the candidates and the media covering them will dwell on this drivel. One wonders if anyone will bother to try to shift the focus from negative vs. positive, to substantive vs. not.

Substantive debate over things that matter can be positive or negative. There is nothing wrong with "going negative" in a substantive sense.

However, one somehow suspects that this campaign will be "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

As American as Apple Pie

Pointing out that Benjamin Franklin was one of America's best known early lobbyists, Michael Barone writes in defense of the profession, and in opposition to the demagogic reactions to it:

Behind this stigmatization of lobbyists is the notion that the failure to produce legislation in the public interest stems from the existence of lobbyists. Which is obviously nonsense. We couldn’t abolish lobbying without repealing the First Amendment, which gives all of us, even those who are paid to do it, the right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” And the government could not sensibly do business without lobbyists — as Hillary Clinton recognized at the YearlyKos convention last August.

While Obama and John Edwards were lambasting lobbyists, Clinton said: “You know, a lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans. They actually do. They represent nurses. They represent, you know, social workers. They represent ... yes, they represent corporations. They employ a lot of people.”

If You've Never Seen the President of a Bar Association in a Caveman's Outfit....

The Dallas Bar Association annually puts on an event under the auspices of the Bar None Production Company to raise money for minority scholarships for students at the Southern Methodist University law school. All of the actors, singers, and dancers in the production are in some way related to the Dallas legal community. The event was great fun -- some of the skits were beyond hilarious -- and raises money for a worthy cause.

Investigation Needed in Polygamous Case

An analysis of state records by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reveals a price tag of over $14 million for the raid on the polygamous community in El Dorado, Texas. Some bills for child care services provided by private charitable organizations have yet to be submitted.

Over $5.5 million of that total went to legal fees and expenses. The newspaper's examination of e-mails does show that state workers labored to keep costs down by, for example, staying at moderately priced hotels and requesting permission before renting cars or extending stays.

A spokesman for Governor Rick Perry defends the cost of the raid, saying, "Any action taken to protect children is never misguided." One hopes that they have a better defense than that. While actions taken to protect children are laudable, in a world of finite resources choices have to be made as to what actions might be effective. Given that the children have all been returned to their allegedly abusive families, it is questionable to what extent the state's action has done anything to "protect children."

That is unfortunate, given that many of these children likely really do need protection. One can debate whether the state's action was flawed in its execution or misguided from the start. Whichever is the case, mistakes were clearly made -- expensive mistakes that affected lives. There should be an investigation of the whole affair.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

NBC newsman Tim Russert has died. The moderator of Meet the Press was 58.

The Oracle always respected Mr. Russert, who previously worked for Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Mario Cuomo, for his willingness to ask tough questions of whoever happened to be in front of him, whether Republican or Democrat. He will be missed.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's God Got to Do with It?

This post ultimately concerns the Southern Baptist Convention, but, first, a little history:

When the great American Puritan Jonathon Edwards wrote about what came to be known as the First Great Awakening, he described the colonial era revival as "the surprising work of God." Later, writing in the midst of the Second Great Awakening, prominent evangelist Charles Finney referred to the happenings as "entirely the result of the right use of means."

Clearly, a change of Copernican proportions had taken place between those two eras. One might suggest that in this instance change was not the same thing as progress.

Nonetheless, as Southern Baptists gathering in Indianapolis this week talk about what they intend to do about a decline in membership and baptismal numbers, it is clear that they are Finneyites, not Edwardsians. That might not seem as much of a surprise, given that Puritan theology has gone largely by the wayside over the course of the last three centuries (though a signficant resurgence is taking place). However, it is truly shocking to see the extent to which those who accuse others of humanism persist in describing human beings as being in control of the divine act of saving sinners.

When Baptists lament the falling number of baptisms, they presumably aren't regretting the mere fact that fewer people are getting dunked under water. Baptists believe solely in believer's baptism. Thus, to discuss a decline in baptisms essentially amounts to an expression of concern over the number of converts. However, conversion is the activity of God. Perhaps the entire Christian message could be expanded out from a simple three word statement: "God saves sinners." Given that God is the subject to that verb, one might expect that Baptists would respond to reports of fewer baptisms by imploring God to convert more people. Instead, they announce a new emphasis on evangelism.

Baptists seem to have short memories. If one were to look at press reports from Southern Baptist Conventions over the last quarter of a century, one suspects that at nearly every one of them Convention leadership spoke of emphasizing evangelism. Sharing the Gospel is a New Testament value that is a Southern Baptist obsession. That the constant emphasis on evangelism co-exists with a decline in baptisms and church membership might give more thoughtful leaders a reason to implore God to do something instead of focusing on themselves.

Of course, there are matters that Baptists should be addressing if their intention is to faithfully and meaningfully spread the Gospel in today's world. A large number of Baptist churches are moribund social institutions wed to a culture and social mores that are falling out of existence. Many of them lack leadership that is capable of providing guidance in applying biblical truths to modernity. Many of them prospered in a cultural environment that was friendly toward their existence and ministry, and they do not know how to function in a world that is either indifferent or hostile to their message. Far too many have been depleted by decades of infighting. Indeed, too many churches do not look at all like the Kingdom of God, but like banana republics, ruled alternately by illegitimate dictators and unruly mobs, and they cannot prosper.

On the other hand, a new style of church has emerged that appears more vibrant, but these churches have frequently replaced the values of the Sermon on the Mount with those of America's entertainment and marketing culture. They frequently fail to recognize the incompatibility of many of those values, at least as applied to doing church.

Thus, as the new President of the Southern Baptist Convention, like many of those who held the position before him, once again tells the churches that they should get back to evangelism, one might wish to ask him: what does God have to do with it?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Failing Economics

One can only wonder at the creative genius of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his band of merry Democrats running the U.S. Senate. They know exactly what to do about a product that Americans are complaining already costs too much: raise taxes on it.

Of course, this is the same group that recently responded to concerns about growing food costs by passing an agriculture bill that pays farmers not to grow crops.

Of course, this is the same group that thought it was a good idea to divert food resources to fuel.

One can only wonder.

Monday, June 09, 2008

History Repeating Itself?

As the price of oil escalates and inflation becomes troublesome, the Federal Reserve implements a policy of easy money. A Democratic Congress promotes government spending to try to stimulate economic growth, and a weak President, lacking any alternative program or political will, goes along, with an economic result termed "stagflation."

George Bush in this decade? Jimmy Carter in the 1970's? Well, the above description describes both.

If Image Is Everything, the Interior Is Hollow

Southern Baptists meeting for their annual convention in Indianapolis are concerned about declining baptisms and church membership, but don't seem to have a clue as to what to do about it.

Press reports state that convention church membership has stalled since reaching 16 million in 2001, but that number was always terribly inflated. Baptist churches have been notoriously bad about not keeping membership rolls up to date, and many of their churches have large numbers of "members" who have not seen the inside of their churches in many years. Many churches cannot account for half the people on their membership rolls.

Nonetheless, those leading the Southern Baptist Convention, who like other 21st century evangelicals, seem to regard their congregations as consumers, not converts, are responding to the trend by launching an "image campaign."

Unfortunately for them, the Gospel is "the power of God that leads to salvation for everyone who believes." It is not a man-made marketing plan. As long as Southern Baptists fail to understand the difference, church membership will continue to lack meaning, as will the number of converts.

That is not to say that Southern Baptists could not benefit from better public relations. However, this really looks like more of the same.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Pork Parties

Commenting on an AP analysis of pork spending under the Democrat controlled Congress, Ed Morrissey writes, "If the GOP had any sense, they would take this opportunity to declare an immediate and unilateral moratorium on pork and defy the Democrats to match them."

But, of course, Republicans in Congress do not have this kind of sense. Their values, as they demonstrated during the 12 years they controlled Congress prior to the 2006 elections, are not the beliefs of conservatives, but those of the political class. On earmarks and pork barrel spending, there is no discernible difference between the congressional leadership of the two parties. Because Republicans claim to stand for fiscal restraint, but do not practice what they claim, they will remain in the minority until the current leadership is overthrown.

To Be Added to the Reading List

Washington Post syndicated columnist George Will provides his "Five Best" works related to opinion journalism. All five seem worth reading.

Apples and Oranges

It is often said that statistics can be found to prove anything, but Energy Tribune managing editor Robert Bryce, in a piece that appeared in today's Dallas Morning News, abuses statistics more than most in his effort to prove that $4/gallon gas is "cheap."

To make his case, Mr. Bryce resorts to comparing the price of gasoline to what it was 86 years ago in 1922. By going back that far, he is able to make a comparison to an inflation adjusted price that is higher than it has ever been since, with the exception of the spike in prices that took place around 1980. Mr Bryce, who does not note that he is benchmarking to a historic high, then says that today's price is only "slightly higher" than it was 86 years ago. However, he also mentions that the current price is 30% higher, which considering that the price has already been adjusted for inflation and is being compared to the second highest prices in the last 90 years, makes the description "slightly higher" more than a little questionable.

He goes on to claim that the price of gas as a percentage of the overall cost of driving a vehicle is also low. However, for this claim, he benchmarks to 1975, when the inflation adjusted cost of gasoline had reached a historic low point not seen at any other time until the price drops in the low 1980's and 1990's. He also uses 2006 fuel prices for this analysis. Gas now costs about 33% more.

Had Mr. Bryce argued that the prices we had gotten used to in the previous two decades were unsustainable anomalies, there would have been no argument. However, his use of data to try to claim that gas is now "cheap" simply does not fly.

Questionable Loyalty Quote of the Day

"I'd follow Hillary into hell."

-- Texas state Democratic Party delegate Rachel Baker Ford, who did not intend to say that hell is the destination to which Sen. Clinton likely would have led us, given the opportunity.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Voting on Virtue

Writing for Christianity Today, which once attempted to be a serious theological thought journal but now is little more than a pop-religion rag, Daniel Taylor and Mark McCloskey claim that Christians should vote for President strictly based on the relative virtue of the candidates, not on the policies they espouse. To buttress their argument, they use the aftermath of 9/11 as an example of how events can utterly change the expectations of a presidency away from the issues of the campaign. However, while Presidential terms do take unexpected turns, 9/11 can hardly be held up as characteristic.

As with all theories that set forth one set of criteria as paramount always over all others, Messrs. Taylor and McCloskey's views are hopelessly naive and simplistic. Thoughtful voters will consider issues of policies, ideology, competence, and character as part of a complete package. None of them should be determinative in isolation.

In addition, the authors perhaps forget about a Christian teaching that emphasizes our capacity to deceive ourselves. One of the results of original sin is a conceit about our ability to think clearly about our own motives. One of our shortcomings: we tend to find more virtue in those that we are predisposed to agree with.

Hat Tip: World Magazine on the Web

"He Doesn't Need Her"

Peggy Noonan concludes an outstanding column with a list of reasons why Barack Obama should NOT choose Hillary Clinton as his running mate. She is dead on, and one can only hope that Sen. Obama shares in the same wisdom.

Read it here.

Why Sen. Clinton Lost

As Hillary Clinton goes about the business today of finally conceding what we have known since late February -- that Barack Obama will be the Democratic Party's nominee for President -- pundits across the country will go into overdrive attempting to answer this question: how did she lose? Given the extraordinary advantages she appeared to have a year ago, how did she lose this race to a relative newcomer?

Analysts will posit many theories -- most of them incorrect. Some will point out the damage done by her early attempts to move to the political center. Certainly, it was striking to hear her booed at meetings in previous years over her refusal to acknowledge error over her votes on Iraq. However, given her longstanding reputation within the Democratic Party, she had every reason to believe that she would be able to hold the left. Others will blame bad media coverage, though negative coverage of the Clintons mostly followed, rather than preceded, Sen. Obama's success, and it should have not been enough to overcome her initial advantages. Others will blame her husband's bellicose excesses. While the former President proved to be a problem who made Theresa Heinz-Kerry seem angelic in comparison, a spouse alone should not have been able to bring Sen. Clinton down. Indeed, Sen. Obama's spouse is a bit of a loose cannon, as well, but she did not prevent him from winning.

Let's try this as a theory: she was simply not a very good candidate. Her speech making sounds shrill, and she even came to admit that she lacked her opponent's ability to inspire. She lacks subtlety, especially when she goes on the attack. Her embellishments of her record not only resulted in fact checking, but also in ridicule. She was unable to sell a rationale as to why she should be elected. In spite of the fact that she was offering something new -- by becoming the first female President -- she found herself being looked at as representing the politics of a bygone past. She, laughably, tried to sell herself as the candidate of experience, in spite of the fact that she has none -- unless one counts the experience of being the spouse of the President.

She simply did not run a very good campaign. She was such a poor candidate that she squandered away the advantages of the Clinton organizational machine. She was also so poor that she failed to defeat a candidate with considerable weaknesses.

Her lack of ability as a campaigner merits scrutiny by Sen. Obama's team as he goes about the task of selecting a running mate. Her short-term ability to help unify the party (an over-rated need: the activists decrying her loss will ultimately decide that they can't allow the Republicans to win) would ultimately be diminished by the negatives she brings to the ticket. Indeed, George Will is right about this:

That this idea [making Sen. Clinton his running mate] survived her off-putting speech Tuesday night, after Obama won the right to choose a running mate, is evidence that many Democrats do not fathom the gratitude that less-blinkered Americans feel for Obama because he has closed the Clinton parenthesis in our presidential history.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Graduation Gifts

My son, who last month graduated from high school (parent bragging alert) as salutatorian, is probably glad that I had not until today discovered a new book by Charles Sykes, "50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School: Real-World Antidotes to Feel-Good Education."

Rule 1 alone is worth the price of the book: "“Life is not fair. Get used to it.”

Hat Tip: Marvin Olasky

Agreeing with the Message; not Liking the Messenger

In one of the more interesting reviews I have read of Scott McClellan's bashing of the administration he once spoke for, Peggy Noonan finds herself "not admiring Mr. McClellan or liking him," but she thinks "the larger arguments" are believable.

Read it here.

The Meaning of "No One"

A bizarre press release from Hillary Clinton's campaign includes the following:

"While Sen. Clinton has made clear throughout this process that she will do whatever she can to elect a Democrat to the White House, she is not seeking the vice presidency, and no one speaks for her but her.”

Perhaps years of Clinton-speak have made this correspondent too cynical, but if no one speaks for Sen. Clinton besides herself, does that mean that this press release does not speak for her, given that it was issued by the campaign and not her as an individual? That would stand to reason, given that her sycophantic minions have been talking to anyone who would listen about Sen. Obama asking her to run. It would seem likely that they are following her orders, and there is certainly no evidence that she is demanding them to stop.

Looking the Enemy in the Face on Oil Prices

Americans frustrated by ever increasing prices of gas are complaining about "big oil," but George Will rightly points out that they might better apportion blame while looking in a mirror. Americans are getting the kind of oil prices that we vote for -- through our congressional representatives that we put into office. Mr. Will concludes his discussion of the refusal of the United States to make use of untapped domestic oil resources:

America says to foreign producers: We prefer not to pump our oil, so please pump more of yours, thereby lowering its value, for our benefit. Let it not be said that America has no energy policy.

The energy policy of the United States is to refuse to increase domestic oil production. That makes it consistent with the agricultural policy of the United States, which is to divert food production to energy and to pay farmers to keep land idle as food prices rise. That is consistent with the entitlement program policies currently promoted by both Democratic and Republican candidates, which involve responding to the certain future insolvency of current entitlement programs by proposing them to expand them.

It hardly seems an exaggeration to say that the American people have not been more poorly served on domestic policy by those they have voted into office in 150 years. One supposes that we should be thankful that these failures, while potentially disastrous, will not lead to another civil war.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hugging Trees, Hugging Girls

A study conducted by GM as part of its marketing effort for its "Challenge X" alternative energy initiative found that 88% of women would "rather chat up someone with the latest fuel-efficient car versus the latest sports car."

Hank Green takes that as comforting evidence that "ecogeeks get all the girls," but it seems more likely to The Oracle that it proves that the study effectively obtained an answer that would work as part of the marketing ploy.

Does anyone really think that a Prius gets the attention of more chicks than, say, an M6?

Until last year, I drove a vehicle that got close to 40 mpg. I now drive a Jag. It is quite certain that the latter is the sounder romantic investment, though my present interest insists (unconvincingly) that it is not a factor.

Nonetheless, given rising gas prices, the guy driving the greener vehicle actually has money to take a woman on a date.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Dream Tickets and Nightmare Scenarios

With a segment of the Democratic Party clamoring for what they refer to as a "dream ticket," a question comes to mind: if Hillary Clinton is, in fact, the choice to be Barack Obama's running mate, will there have been any precedent in terms of a vice-presidential nominee who has done as much to undermine the person at the top of the ticket?

Of course, it is well-chronicled that vice-presidential nominees do not have to be either philosophically compatible or personally friendly with the candidate for President -- John Kennedy's choice of Lyndon Baines Johnson is the most frequently cited example, but Ronald Reagan chose George H.W. Bush after the latter had referred to his domestic program as "voodoo economics." Al Gore seems not to have liked Joe Liebermann; John Kerry was certainly not fond of John Edwards.

Those examples pale in comparison to what Sen. Clinton has done to try to destroy the presumptive nominee. In spite of the fact that by the end of February it had become virtually impossible for her to win the nomination, she, her husband, and their sycophantic followers have engaged in a systematic campaign to convince ordinary voters and party elders that Sen. Obama is neither electable nor sufficiently experienced to be President. Is she now to carry water for him at the bottom of the party's ticket? And, if they are actually elected, one can only imagine what his next four years would look like for him.

Certainly, the refusal of Sen. Clinton to accept reality has placed the party's nominee in an untenable position. It is a position that she could help alleviate by declaring her unmitigated support for another candidate. Good luck on that. Perhaps Sen. Obama is sufficiently boxed in that he will have to select his adversary for his running mate. If so, one suspects that it will hardly be a dream.

McClellan's Omissions

Robert D. Novak, the journalist at the center of the controversy over the leak of Valerie Plame's identity, points out that the discussion of that issue in Scott McClellan's recent book bashing the Bush administration fails to account for publicly known information about that event. In fact, Mr. Novak charges that the book displays a seemingly willful ignorance that invites the conclusion that the writer (or ghostwriter, as the case may be) is attempting to trumpet Democratic Party talking points about the whole affair.

It should be noted that Mr. Novak is no friend of the administration with regard to war policy. His discussion of the matter should be factored into any critique of Mr. McClellan's book.

The Rules of the Game

Some years ago, a friend and I played tennis. My game was unusually sharp that night, and I smoked him in the first set, 6-0.

He won the second set, 7-6. He also won the third set, 6-4.

As we shook hands at the net, I said to him, "You played really well. It is a shame that you had to lose."

He looked at me like I had lost my mind. "What are you talking about? I won," he replied.

"No, I won," I insisted. "You only won13 games; I won 16."

As he started to argue, I laughed and said, "Just kidding."

What my friend regarded as ridiculous, and I meant as a joke, is now being put forth as a serious argument by the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Pundits are now debating the question of how to calculate who won the popular vote in the Democratic campaign. Of course, that question is irrelevant. A tennis match is won by the player prevailing in the sets, not games. Presidential campaign nominations are determined by delegates, not accumulated votes.

However, for a candidate who for months has shown a willingness to stoop to anything to win, no amount of desperation is too embarrassing to try.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Husband in the Doghouse Quote of the Day

"It's not Schindler's List."

-- Rangers Replay radio personality Mike Ogulnick, in an on-air reflection on a conversation with his wife, who told him that while watching the movie "Sex and the City" she "cried so hard that she got a headache." The Oracle commends Mr. Ogulnick's courage, but has concerns for his wisdom.

"Gall and Chutzpah" Quote of the Day

I am stunned that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for that of 600,000 voters."

-- Hillary Clinton mouthpiece Harold Ickes, in response to the decision by Democrats NOT to change their rules after the fact in order to benefit the candidate who refused to follow them.

Perhaps Mr. Ickes was "stunned" because he assumed that Sen. Clinton had a monopoly on gall and chutzpah.