Friday, January 30, 2015

Obama’s Iran Fiasco (continued)

The conservative Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol muses on why Barack Obama is so angry with Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu:
Obama is still pursuing [his] dream: to be the American president who goes to Tehran, who achieves with Iran what Richard Nixon achieved with China.
Comment: We first raised six months ago the idea that going to Iran would provide Obama his “Nixon goes to China” place in history. Kristol is the first commentator I’ve seen to publicize so clearly Obama’s real reason for discounting the Iranian nuclear threat.

There’s a big problem with the “Nixon to China” analogy, however. Nixon was a conservative Republican long known for being tough on “Red China.” Nixon’s willingness to cozy up to China’s mass murderer Mao Zedong disarmed the main source of domestic opposition to a China policy change--those inside his own party.

By contrast, Obama’s domestic opposition to allowing Iran to go nuclear (the obvious price for any visit to Tehran) comes from outside his left-wing Democratic Party base. These forces won’t be silenced or mollified by any attempted Obama appeasement of Iran.

Kristol continues:
It is Obama's failures that explain his anger—his failures, and his hopes that a breakthrough with Iran could erase the memories of failure and appear to vindicate his foreign policy. . . When you think your policies are going to be vindicated, you ignore or dismiss critics. It's when you suspect and fear imminent failure that you lash out.
Comment: We just wrote, “In modern politics you first ignore, then attack personally and without mercy.” Well, it’s of course when your position is strong that you ignore, and when your position weakens that you go on the attack. I don’t know the psychology behind Kristol’s analysis of why people lash out, but I agree with its more general application to (public) life.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You Saw it Here First. Then Came Cook’s Nomination Quarterfinals

Charlie Cook, in the National Journal, trailed me by 3 days in publishing his division of the GOP presidential nomination contest into four quarterfinals. Cook used the word “brackets,” where I said “battles,” when he wrote:

there are at least four brackets of candidates and Republican voters, with a competition between GOP contenders to win a spot in the nomination semifinals.  

Comment: We both attempt to lay out four preliminary contests that for both of us lead to “semifinals.”

Cook’s descriptions of his four brackets/battles follow, in italics:  

First there is the establishment bracket, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and possibly former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. . .

Comment: This is my “establishment money haul” battle.  

Then there is the conservative governor/former governor slot—with, potentially, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. . .

Comment: To me, it’s the battle for the “insurgent governor crown.” Cook adds Pence and Snyder while leaving out Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.  

In the third bracket are the more identifiably tea-party candidates, principally Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. . .

Comment: I see Cruz and Paul fighting for the “conservative senator crown.” In his first three categories, Cook and I are almost perfectly matched.  

Finally, there is the social, cultural, and religious conservative bracket, made up primarily of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. . .

Comment: Cook is one of the nation’s most astute political observers. But he’s a liberal Democrat, even as he tries to cloak himself in an “objective observer” disguise. Here, Cook exposes his bias by creating a whole category to the right of my “insurgent governor” and “conservative senator” categories, a bracket occupied by only losers Huckabee and Santorum, two tired retreads Democrats had loved to have had in the GOP field in 2008 (Huckabee) and 2012 (Santorum) because they had fitted Democrats’ image of how irrelevant the GOP is to our national social issue consensus. Cook’s phony extra category foreshadows how active media will be in keeping the hard social right in the GOP nomination picture, to Republicans’ discomfort.

And as Cook seeks to focus on Republican has-beens, he neglects to create any bracket equivalent to my first battle, that between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio to be the “Latino/Florida-base candidate”. In fact, Cook ignores Rubio completely while discussing loser (by 1 million votes) Carly Fiorina of California and the highly irrelevant Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who couldn’t even manage re-election to the U.S. House.

I’m sure Cook will apologize for omitting Rubio at some point. Don’t accept the apology. The omission was deliberate. Cook tips Republicans off to Democrats’ great fear of any Rubio candidacy that catches fire, a fear similar to that which they harbor for Chris Christie. Both Rubio and Christie are headed for a rough media ride, along the lines of the punishment dished out to Sarah Palin in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.  In modern politics you first ignore, then attack personally and without mercy.

NB: the “Race 4 2016” blog, which turned Cook’s divisions into an NCAA-type “Road to Final Four” brackets chart, did notice Cook’s unexplained omission of Rubio.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Feminists = Democrats

Quotation without comment.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Jack Kelly, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, writes:

Women today are doctors, lawyers, corporate CEOs, generals and admirals. The pay gap has all but disappeared for women who work in the same fields as men and have done so for just as long. Young women in urban areas earned about 8% more than their male peers, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report in 2009.

Hillary Clinton, who got to start at the top because she’s Bill’s wife, is a feminist heroine, despite having orchestrated smear campaigns against the women who accused [Bill] of sexual misconduct. So [is] Elizabeth Warren, who obtained appointment to the faculty of Harvard Law School after claiming, falsely, to be of Native American descent. . .

But the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, the first female Hispanic governor, the first African-American woman to be secretary of state aren’t feminist heroines because they’re Republicans. To be a feminist today is to be a dishonest shill for Democrats.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Rubio’s Path to the White House

With the final fight well over a year off, four preliminary battles will help set the GOP presidential nomination field (we ignore 2012 GOP nominee and loser Mitt Romney’s desire to duplicate loser George McGovern’s quixotic run for the 1984 Democratic nomination, as well as the prospects of two-time loser Rick Santorum, loser Mike Huckabee, and never-won-anything Ben Carson).

The four real battles, what we call the quarterfinals, are:

1. Jeb Bush v. Rubio to be the Latino/Florida-base candidate.
2. Bush v. Christie for the establishment money haul.
3. Paul v. Cruz for the conservative senator crown.
4. Walker v. Perry (Kasich, Jindal) for the insurgent governor crown.

Let’s examine the first quarterfinal: Bush v. Rubio.

Rubio is going around the country--including to all early primary states--promoting his new book (see insert). Here’s the latest on Rubio’s potential presidential campaign from ABC’s Jon Karl:
Sen. Marco Rubio has begun taking concrete steps toward launching a presidential bid, asking his top advisors to prepare for a campaign, signing on a leading Republican fundraiser, and planning extensive travel to early-voting states in the coming weeks. . . "He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president," a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News.
Leading the effort to raise the $50 million or more he’ll need to run in the Republican primaries will be Anna Rogers, currently the finance director for American Crossroads, the conservative group started by Karl Rove that raised more than $200 million to help elect Republicans over the past two elections. Rogers will begin working at Rubio’s political action committee on February 1 and would become the finance director of Rubio’s presidential campaign.
And Zogby has a shocking poll just out that screams “Rubio must run!”:

Mitt Romney*    16%
Jeb Bush           13%
Marco Rubio      13%
Chris Christie     11%
Mike Huckabee*   9%
Scott Walker        6%
* = “can’t win” candidates

Zogby adds:
Rubio is receiving 22% support among women to only 4% of men and does equally well (16% each) among both self-identified Republicans and conservatives. . . Rubio has entered the first tier, especially among GOP women and is able to do well among both establishment and conservative voters. He has gained 6 points just in the last month. He will definitely receive more scrutiny and we will see if he can emerge as the frontrunner. [emphasis added]
Zogby also notes how far Rand Paul has slipped; dropping from 10% last month to just 3%. Zogby speculates Paul may have lost his appeal to young people that had been based upon his authenticity and his non-interventionist foreign policy, having recently backed a war on Muslim immigration.

Caitlin Huey-Burns of “RealClearPolitics”--in analyzing Rubio’s prospects--recently asked if
with a big-name Floridian [Bush] already moving toward a run—a seasoned governor with an extensive financial and political network and the presidency in his blood—is there room for Rubio?
In Rubio’s favor, Huey-Burns wrote:
The young Republican Latino with a gift for oration is finding his window, positioning himself as the 21st century candidate, a fresh face that comes with ideas—ideas about economic mobility, foreign policy, and yes, even immigration. “The future is now. It’s here. It has arrived. And we need new ideas and new thinking, and quite frankly a new generation of leadership," he told CBS News. In an interview with Charlie Rose, when asked who in the GOP was presenting “21st century ideas,” Rubio joked, “Other than me? No one yet. That’s the challenge before us. That’s what the campaign will be about.”
Yet on the other hand, she reported:
One of the many criticisms Republicans lodge against Barack Obama, a freshman senator with no executive experience, is that his inexperience shows. Republicans often pine for governors, or former governors. Washington has an unsavory smell to it. “The GOP hasn’t been wild about the first-term senator we have in the White House,” says Mac Stipanovich, a Florida Republican attorney who advised Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial run. “When you look at executive experience, governors are much more attractive, having run something more than a committee staff.”
Huey-Burns acknowledged that the freshman senator argument also applies to Ted Cruz of Texas and to Paul, with Cruz only a year older than than Rubio, 43. Paul is 52.

Huey-Burns hints that Rubio's moving toward a run, quoting him saying Republicans
want someone who understands what the threats are and how to fix it, and I think that’s going to matter more at this point than how many times you ran before (Romney) or what your last name is (Jeb Bush) or how well known you are (Romney and Bush). I think this is going to be an ideas primary.
She also quotes Rubio’s former chief of staff, Cesar Conda, stating:
If [Rubio] decided that the Senate was the best place to advance his policy ideas, then he would consider staying. It's hard for senators to accomplish anything in the Senate if they are running full time for president. Just look at Senator Obama as an example.
That’s telling us Rubio is running, for how could the Senate be “the best place to advance his policy ideas”? So Rubio's likely in, and it’s going to be up to Rubio--plus Christie (see quarterfinal #2, above)--to take Bush down.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Obama Feeling His Oats

Boise State, January 21, 2015
Of course, yesterday’s “State of the Union” disappointed me. As Byron York in the conservative Washington Examiner wrote:
The joint session of Congress listening to President Obama Tuesday night included 83 fewer Democrats than the group that heard Obama's first address in 2009 — 69 fewer Democrats in the House and 14 fewer in the Senate. The scene in the House Chamber was a graphic reminder of the terrible toll the Obama years have taken on Capitol Hill Democrats.
[Truly] remarkable, against the backdrop of the Democratic electoral carnage of his years in office, was that the president's most memorable line of the night was a bit of ad-lib bragging about his own election victories. When Obama said, "I have no more campaigns to run," some Republicans snarkily began to applaud, whereupon the president shot back, "I know, because I won both of them."
The president has two objective reasons to feel popped up. Two indexes. Wall Street’s index of prosperity--the Dow Jones 30 industrials--is near all-time highs. And Obama’s poll disapproval/approval ratings, as measured by the “RealClearPolitics” average, are back down to single digits (today, even under -5%). Obama lost an election, sure, but it was one of those mid-terms where “the folks” don’t show up. Just wait until 2016--the next presidential election!

The president, who often says the opposite of what he knows to be true, again said the reverse of what he's planning when he proclaimed, "I have no more campaigns to run." The permanent campaigner has another round to go. He’s hopping across the country (see photo) campaigning for an agenda, his agenda, and the agenda he plans to force on Hillary (or more readily if she decides to run, on Elizabeth Warren) in 2016, one that might pass Congress in two years with another Democrat in the White House and with Democrats back running the Senate.

The mainstream media finds the entire enterprise delightful, and can’t stop talking about Obama’s post-lame duck energy.

The Dow doesn't measure median income stagnation, and polls are only a snapshot in time.  Congressional Republicans can and should recapture the initiative they earned in November. Right now though, Obama’s press-backed permanent campaign is more visible, as the polls tell us.

Monday, January 19, 2015

For Martin Luther King Day: Help Black Families

Harvard's Peterson
Paul Peterson, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, reminds us on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day about family structure’s link to black (and others) income inequality:
The percentage of African-American children living in single-parent families climbed from less than 30% in 1965 to 50% in 2013. The percentage of white and Hispanic children in single-parent households has also risen sharply.
Peterson, who is also affiliated with Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, adds that
Designs of some [Great Society] programs actively discouraged marriage. Welfare assistance went to mothers — so long as no male was in the household. Once a family income crossed a specific threshold, access to most resources disappeared. . . incentives [that] encouraged childbirth even when the prospects of marriage were minimal. In many urban neighborhoods, pregnancies were seen by future mothers as opportunities to begin life anew.
Peterson notes things got better after creation of the Earned Income Tax Credit (ETIC), which by 1994 gave two-child families up to $4,000 annually. Economists concluded that by 2005, at a cost of $34 billion annually, ETIC had lifted “more children out of poverty than any other government program.” ETIC worked in tandem with Clinton-era welfare reforms that required single parents to enter a training program or the workforce.

Peterson says that looking forward:
  • we do not need to eliminate Great Society programs, but we do need to finish redesigning them, remodeling the EITC so that its incentives positively impact married families, with tax credits replacing welfare benefits lost upon marriage. 
  • we also need new job opportunities for young workers with limited job skills, with incentives for employers to hire young, less-skilled employees, including modifying minimum wage and other restrictive labor laws. 
  • and we need to facilitate student choice and access to a broad range of high schools, vocational programs, training programs and other institutions that support young people during the key years of transition from school to work.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

GOP Nomination: A Fight Worth Winning

This blog has just begun its 10th year.  So yes, we're still searching for Capitalism + Democracy = Peace.
Click to Enlarge: One Possible Road to a 2016 Republican White House
It looks like GOP guru Karl Rove, not surprisingly, has lined up behind Jeb Bush, the younger brother of Rove’s man, George W. The hint? Rove’s written a column stressing the enormous advantage money--to which Jeb Bush will have the greatest access--gives a candidate over his rivals (whom we have identified as led by Rubio and Christie):
Always important, money will be more so this time. With fewer debates providing grist for horse-race coverage, journalists may measure progress by fundraising. . .By next January, candidates must have raised enough cash to fight all four February battles and enter March with money in the bank, no matter how confused the outcomes in the first four contests. The next test will be how quickly they can reload for expensive March big-state contests. Do those still standing after February have enough motivated bundlers, energetic direct mail- and telephone-responsive donors and active online contributors?
Successful candidates run national campaigns, rather than living off the land. That means strong organizations in more than the first four states. Candidates who wait until February’s results to organize states that vote in March and April won’t win. Super PACs will play a much bigger role. Not subject to contribution limits, they can replenish their coffers faster than the candidates’ campaigns.
So has Jeb already locked up the 2016 GOP nomination? “Not so fast” is the indirect response of another conservative guru, George Will. In the Washington Post, Will takes on Rove’s analysis, writing:
For all the flaws of a nominating process that begins with the Obnoxiously Entitled Four (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, with 4% of the nation’s population), those states do not require immediate substantial financial muscle, and they reward retail campaigning, so lesser-known and underfunded candidates can break through. Furthermore, campaign finance laws designed to limit competition are, fortunately, porous enough to allow a few wealthy contributors to enable marginal candidates to be heard.
Will expands upon his view that the GOP field “will have more plausible aspirants than any nomination contest since the party’s first presidential campaign in 1856.” Republicans want the nomination because:
  • Democrats, after winning the House in 20 consecutive elections from 1954 to 1992, have lost it in 9 of the last 11. Republicans are one Senate seat shy of equaling their highest total since the 1920s. 
  • Republicans as of this week control 31 governorships, including those in seven of the 10 most populous states (Florida, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio — all but California, Pennsylvania and New York). 
  • Republicans control 69 of 99 state legislative chambers (Nebraska’s legislature is unicameral and effectively Republican). In 23 states, with 251 electoral votes, Republicans control the governor’s office and the legislature. Democrats have such control in only seven states. Republicans have their most state legislative seats since the 1920s. 
As mentioned earlier here, we are within shouting distance of a major constitutional crisis, because Republicans can carry the states needed to win an electoral college majority (see map above) while losing the popular vote by a massive margin: Democratic votes are too concentrated in a few big states.

So far, most observers have yet to notice how the deck is stacked for a 2016 GOP presidential victory.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why Liberals Can’t Handle Islam

It's inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma (Islamic world) to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible! That thinking — that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. . . Is it possible that 1.6 billion [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world's inhabitants — that is 7 billion — so that they themselves may live? Impossible! ... [W]e are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world. . . is waiting for your next move … because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost — and it is being lost by our own hands."

--Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

These words, spoken to an assembly of Muslim clerics in Egypt by the leader of the world’s largest Arab nation, gets to the heart of the Islamic question. Today’s world is torn by Islamic extremism, and the non-Muslim world wonders, “where are the Islamic voices denouncing 'conversion or death'”?

University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, who quoted al-Sisi’s bold words, reminds us that
from Pakistan to Iraq to Nigeria. . . there is Muslim support for the angry and violent approach. It will be interesting to see whether there is similar support for President al-Sisi's more civilized take. The future of the Islamic world, and of the world as a whole, will depend on which approach wins out.
The New York Times’ Tom Friedman, whose column unaccountably fails to mention al-Sisi or his speech, is at least another voice proclaiming Islam needs to tackle its “extremist” problem:
We fool ourselves when we tell Muslims what “real Islam” is. Because Islam has no Vatican, no single source of religious authority, there are many Islams today. The puritanical Wahhabi/Salafi/jihadist strain is one of them, and its support is not insignificant.
Friedman is lightly touching on another facet of Islamic extremism--the liberal West’s pronounced unwillingness speak badly of Islam in any of its forms. Liberals’ usual response to terrorism is not to worry about another Islamist extremist attack--something that might generate a military, Iraq-like counter-reaction that ends up killing innocent bystanders--but to worry instead about a “know nothing” reaction from bigoted, anti-“rag head” right-wingers, the presumed domestic force behind anti-Islam solutions.

Brendan O’Neill, editor of the London-based online magazine “Spiked,” is one British observer who has questioned supposed liberal angst about right-wing attacks:
the idea that there is a climate of Islamophobia, a culture of hot-headed, violent-minded hatred for Muslims that could be awoken and unleashed by the next terror attack, is an invention. Islamophobia is a code word for mainstream European elites’ fear of their own populations, of their native hordes, whom they imagine to be unenlightened, prejudiced, easily led by the tabloid media, and given to outbursts of spite and violence. The thing that keeps the Islamophobia panic alive is not actual violence against Muslims but the right-on politicos’ ill-founded yet deeply held view of ordinary Europeans, especially those of a working-class variety, as racist and stupid.
Yes, there is a European right-wing reaction to Islamic extremism, but peaceful demonstrations and election ballots are not, in any form, comparable to actual murder and assassination.

In the U.S., much is focused on the president’s refusal to have anything to do with last Sunday’s 1.3 million-strong Paris rally, the largest in French history, with more than 40 world leaders marching arm-in-arm against the Islamic extremists’ killings of 17 Charlie Hebdo staff, French police, and Jews.

Barack Obama was defined by his early opposition to the Iraq War. As with many liberals, he believes George W. Bush broadened America's response to 9-11 into a war against (militant) Islam itself, to Bush's own political benefit but to the great detriment of our country. That’s why Byron York, writing in the conservative Washington Examiner, says Obama’s strong opposition to any “war on terror” that would shift national attention away from domestic programs meant Obama never wanted U.S. representation at some anti-terror rally:
The uproar over whether President Obama or another top administration official should have attended the massive unity rally in Paris has obscured an important point about the White House's reaction to the latest terror attacks in Europe. The administration no-shows were not a failure of optics, or a diplomatic misstep, but were instead the logical result of the president's years-long effort to downgrade the threat of terrorism and move on to other things.
But York misses a deeper, more profoundly liberal reason Obama didn’t like the rally. Muslims are a Third World force, and Obama sees himself as leader of the (third) world--part African, part white, with an Islamic heritage. He came to create a post-colonial world oneness where all races, religions, and cultures would share wealth and power. He is against throw-backs to an old, Euro-centered world order, and wants to keep all lines open to the Muslim umma.

To understand where Obama is coming from, think how he likely identifies with Muslims, not Europeans, in the following report from the Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola:
Within France’s Muslim community of some 5 million — the largest in Europe — many are viewing the tragedy in starkly different terms from their non-Muslim compatriots. They feel deeply torn by the now-viral slogan “I am Charlie,” arguing that no, they are not Charlie at all.
Many . . . abhor the violence that struck the country last week. But they are also revolted by the notion that they should defend the paper. By putting the publication on a pedestal, they insist, the French are once again sidelining the Muslim community, feeding into a general sense of discrimination that, they argue, helped create the conditions for radicalization in the first place.
Obama is with the French Muslims, not “I am Charlie” Europeans.  Remember, as conservative Matthew Continetti in the Washington Free Beacon reminds us:
In 2012, in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, the Obama administration famously went out of its way to place the blame for the killing of four Americans on an “anti-Islamic” video that it vociferously condemned. Pulled from YouTube, the video was said to have invited riots by Islamic mobs, to have somehow exceeded the freedoms liberals now champion.
“I know it’s hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day,” said Hillary Clinton. The man who made the video was [then] sentenced to jail on a parole violation.
Around that time, Jay Carney questioned “the judgment behind the decision” of Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons satirizing Islam. The Obama administration supported, in 2011, a U.N. resolution “condemning the stereotyping, negative profiling, and stigmatization of people based on their religion.”
Continetti added his own opinion:
Stereotypes, negativity, criticism, profiling, stigmas, meanness in general—if expressed in print or by voice, these subjective statements are parts of speech. They may be imprudent. They may be wrong. But they must be free.
Shortly after Benghazi in 2012, Obama made perhaps his most important defense of righteous Muslim anger in a speech to the UN General Assembly:
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.
Jeffrey Goldberg, who quoted these words for the liberal, slick magazine Atlantic, wishes “President Obama had not said [the above] for a number of reasons:”
the Holocaust is an historical fact, and church desecrations are physical crimes against property; neither vandalism nor the denial of historical reality compare to the mocking of unprovable religious beliefs. [Even more], Obama’s statement is troubling because it should be the role of the president of the United States, who swears an oath to defend the Constitution, to explain to the world the principle that free speech is sacred—painful, sometimes, but sacred.
From a liberal Democratic point of view, however, the overriding objective is holding together a winning coalition of aggrieved minorities looking to government for help--racial and cultural minorities, unmarried women, youth facing unemployment--victims, people like Muslims.

The enemies--white (even sometimes Jewish) males of privilege--have too often attempted to rally the nation against some non-European threat from abroad as a way to retain power and suppress reform at home. Muslims are yet another minority victim of “hate speech,” and liberals have little choice but to rally to their side, even at the expense of offending “free speech extremists” among media friends.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

GOP Presidential Nomination: Bush “big-footing” Rubio?

University of Virginia political prognosticator Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” lists Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie as his 1st and 2nd Republican Presidential Ranking “tiers.” Those are four of my five leading GOP candidates.

Missing from the top of Sabato’s list but high on mine: Mark Rubio, whom Sabato feels has been “big-footed” by “fellow Floridian Jeb Bush.” Sabato believes “Bush may yet crush Rubio’s candidacy” because “Rubio requires the backing of the moneyed class that won’t abandon Bush easily.”

Who can argue with Sabato at this point? But I’m guessing--as I said earlier--that Bush is non-viable. He’s too much the latest “Romney;” he’s in the picture because of name and money, but cursed with a fatal flaw. With Romney, it was “Romneycare.” With Bush, it’s “Bush.” Republicans don’t want “Romney 2.0,” they don’t want “Bush 3.0,” they don’t want the “Establishment Candidate” who’s the “best of a bad lot.” Not this time.

That re-opens the door for Rubio. And Rubio remains in the waiting room, according to the National Journal’s Tim Alberta:
Marco Rubio says his family is on board for a White House campaign in 2016, and he insists that no amount of money Jeb Bush raises will deter him from running. . . Rubio sounds prepared to tangle with Bush—and draw a sharp generational contrast. Rubio, who is 43, repeatedly references the need for a "21st-century candidate" who can speak to the challenges of a rapidly evolving world. When asked whether Bush, 61, is such a candidate, Rubio didn't hesitate. "That's what we're going to have a campaign about," he said.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Look Back at Climate Change Dark Ages

Conservative Washington Post columnist George Will has painted a compelling picture of climate change’s power to alter not only the environment, but also world history. His dark images come from Europe in the 14th and 17th centuries:
In the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), from the end of the ninth century to the beginning of the 14th, the Northern Hemisphere was warmer than at any time in the past 8,000 years — there were vineyards in northern England [leading] to Europe’s “first sustained population increase since the fall of the Roman Empire.” The need for land on which to grow cereals drove deforestation. The MWP population explosion gave rise to towns, textile manufacturing and new wealthy classes.
But then came
the severe winters of 1309-1312, when polar bears could walk from Greenland to Iceland on pack ice. In 1315 there was rain for perhaps 155 consecutive days, washing away topsoil. Upwards of half the arable land in much of Europe was gone; cannibalism arrived as parents ate children. Corpses hanging from gallows were devoured.
Will also documents another horrendous turn of the climate change cycle: the Little Ice Age, between the 1640s and the 1690s,
caused, among other horrific things, “stunting” that [Ohio State history professor Geoffrey] Parker says, “reduced the average height of those born in 1675, the ‘year without a summer,’ or during the years of cold and famine in the early 1690s, to only 63 inches: the lowest ever recorded.” The flight from abandoned farms to cities produced the “urban graveyard effect,” crises of disease, nutrition, water, sanitation, housing, fire, crime, abortion, infanticide, marriages forgone and suicide. Given the ubiquity of desperation, it is not surprising that more wars took place during the 17th-century crisis “than in any other era before the Second World War.”
Will is telling us big climate changes in the past had nothing to do with man-made global warming produced by increased CO2 emissions, and wants that evidence to be part of the current climate change debate. Today, though CO2 emissions have increased yearly, global temperatures have plateaued for the past decade and a half. It appears that old computer models that link CO2 to temperature increases are increasingly out of date.

But doesn’t Will’s version of history tell us that climate change produces disasters? So it’d be wonderful if we really could do something about the weather after all.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Affirmative Action Agony

William Rhoden
William Rhoden is a black New York Times sports columnist. In his recent coverage of the Rose Bowl game between Oregon and Florida State, he took exception to the conventional portrayal of that battle as “good v. evil,” based upon Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota’s clean record and a Florida State “shrouded in controversey” (Rhoden’s indirect reference to Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s surviving a sexual assault accusation).

Attempting to bury the “Oregon good v. Florida State evil” meme, Rhoden describes in detail Oregon recruiting violations during 2009-12 and the resulting penalties assessed against Oregon. But Rhoden failed to note that Florida State, not Oregon, in 2012 was listed among the 15 most unethical college football programs.

Rhoden then tries to head off any repetition of the “good v. evil” story set-up linked to the upcoming Oregon-Ohio State National Championship game. Such treatment would again cast Mariota with his 3.22 GPA as the hero, taking on Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, who Rhoden tells us “became notorious for an unfortunate message on Twitter that questioned the need to go to class when he was at college to play football.”

To Rhoden, we don’t really know what goes on, and
There are no saints and no sinners, just two big-time football programs trying to win a championship. Let’s leave it at that.
On the surface, it’s obvious what Rhoden’s “shades of gray” message is all about. “Evil” Winston and Jones are black, “good” Mariota, though non-white, isn’t, and black Rhoden doesn’t like any such “saints-sinners” portrayal, especially coming from white writers. But it goes deeper.

Affirmative action ruined integration. It has stained the African-American experience. It’s a product of white guilt, which is a bad place to begin, but it’s a bad product imposed upon another culture, on blacks. If you benefit from affirmative action in some form, as does New York Timesman Rhoden, you can never be sure how worthy you actually are.

What you do know is that your identity is black, and being black helped put you in your job. You are bound to your race for life, and your job is wrapped up with the cause of black advancement. Yet you know that advancement came courtesy of them, “the Man,” a largely white government.  And you know that advancement for large numbers of blacks has fallen short, even as other cultures/genders ride affirmative action to move past blacks and even white males.

Still, the only way you know is government programs that uplift blacks, even programs that don’t work, perhaps including affirmative action. You are committed to equal results not equal opportunity, the goal that helped you even as your are confused about how much or how little. You are fiercely opposed to ending affirmative action that could leave many blacks outside, at the bottom, fending for themselves against all others.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” There is some evidence that “good intentions” often come from less worthy, selfish motives. “Brown v. the Board of Education” (1954), the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965) moved blacks toward equal opportunity in education, public accommodations, and voting respectively, but did not overnight end the white-black gap. Black consciousness, aroused and noisy in the late 1960s, demanded far more.

Unfortunately, we were at the time involved in the increasingly expensive, all-consuming Vietnam War. No Marshall Plan for black America seemed possible, though billions where thrown at the problem. Government devised the no-cost (in money terms, that is) affirmative action programs as the preferred road to equality. Government thereby deprived an entire culture of the American joy of “making it” under your own power. Blacks advanced based on the color of their skin, along with other cultures/genders that advanced faster.

It’s the mess of which Rhoden cannot let go, even when writing about three non-white football players. In pursuit of integration, we have left blacks separate, unequal, and highly race-conscious.