Run Christie Run!

Lest you think I am among the banner-carrying desperate souls who are seeking a transcendent, politics-breaking superhero to come in and blow up the stalemate in Washington with pure force of will…(as Dana Milbank put it in this Washington Post article)…I thought I would assuage those fears preemptively.

I do not think one man, not even someone as skilled as Chris Christie, can save Washington.  I think something like a new Constitutional Convention among the many states is needed to return balance to America.  But before we get there, we do need a competent President in office…and Chris Christie is most definitely competent.  The question is not whether one guy can save DC and all of us from falling into mediocrity and decadence.  The question is whether that guy is a good candidate to beat Obama.  Christie would DESTROY Obama.  Think small first…think big when it’s possible.  We’ve got to beat Obama…and Christie would do it.

Speech Writing 101 – Chris Christie at the Reagan Library

Do yourselves a favor – anyone reading this blog, no matter where you are on the political spectrum – go here and watch – it’s 30 minutes long, but it’s a thrilling 30 minutes.

Christie Destroys Obama, Thrills GOP Faithful

I can only think of one other speech that I’ve ever witnessed that had this strong an effect on me – that being the “Mr. Gorbechov, Tear Down This Wall” speech.

Obama should take heed.  He doubtless thinks of himself as a great orator…he was after all, elected mostly on his ability to talk a good game.  But Obama is not a great orator and there hasn’t been a single Obama speech that compares with the true greats of political rhetoric.  And there is a very clear reason.  In order to give a great speech, you have to do three things well:

  1. You’ve got to use language that evokes clear imagery and, thus, emotion.  Obama, when campaigning in 2008 at least, did this well.  Or, I should say, his speech writers did it well.
  2. You’ve got to have a clear take home message.  You’ve got to have a reason for giving the speech in order for it to mean anything to the audience.  While campaigning, Obama had a reason – at least he could theoretically portray that reason as a dire need for change in Washington from the policies of the Bush Administration.  Since then, however, he has consistently failed to have a real selling point.  Because as it turns out, he doesn’t have a clear idea of what he wants to accomplish with the office.
  3. You’ve got believe what you’re saying with absolute conviction.  The speech should be from the heart for it to work.  I don’t think Obama ever had this working for him.  That’s why he always seemed so robotic in his more successful days, and that’s why he now uses fake folksy language and obviously amateur ham-handed emotionalism in the delivery of his speeches – especially the two most recent ones “Pass This Bill!” to the Congressional floor and “Stop Whining and Get in Line!” to the Black Caucus.  Though I could also call “Eat Your Peas” a part of that same trend.
Obama, when it is all said and done, is full of sound and fury signifying nothing.  He has no core beliefs governing his actions…only the vague idea that he’s progressive and thinking of the needs of the poor and the minorities of the country with his heavy-booted government interventions.  Compare that to Christie at the Reagan Library.  THAT speech was delivered with absolute conviction, filled with language that IMMEDIATELY conjured emotion (especially his references to our fond hope that Obama changes…using his own campaign rhetoric to fill the listener with anger about how badly we’ve been lied to), and it had a clear message that could be boiled down to two sentences.
The world watches how we behave politically and economically – we got to the top by being a great example of how Democracy works, not by force and not by grand idealism.  To return to the top, we must return to those core values…we must actually produce, not talk about producing, great achievements.
See how easy that was?  All you have to do is have a belief and explain it honestly and from the heart.  Why does no one in Washington actually do that?

Let It Burn

This post will not attain the lengthy status of some of my rants, but I thought it was a thought worth sharing for general interest as the election season heats up.

We hear a lot these days about the need for our government to mitigate the negative impacts of bad business practices on investors and consumers.  We’ve heard a great deal about cities like Detroit that would supposedly be brought to ruin if we didn’t come to the rescue of the big businesses that keep them alive.  Barely alive, though it may be.

But here’s a little story for you to ponder.

In the western United States, there are large swaths of forest in dry climates populated almost entirely by pine trees.  The forest floor is traditionally fed by debris from the trees above and consists of a number of organisms that actually fed on decaying matter from dead timber. In the mid-20th century, we began to perfect forest fire control procedures in the intermountain west (in the name of wildlife preservation, not to mention property protection). The state and national parks became manned with forest service employees whose job it was to look for fire just as it was beginning and douse it. Smoky the Bear began to tell everyone in the country that “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires!” And fires did indeed drop substantially. And then a curious thing happened. The forests began to die.

You see, we tried very hard to prevent the death of the countless acres of forest that might be burned by the natural process of growth, drought and fire that has worked in the west for many eons and in so doing…we nearly killed the forest. Why? Natural systems that rely on the cycle of raw material require death and destruction to flourish and stay fresh. Critters eat burned out plant material after it begins to rot. It gets used to make homes for countless species. And the trees themselves can’t make new offspring until their pine cones are burst open by the heat of fire (an ingenious way of spreading pine seeds in the right proportion…too many and all the trees would choke each other out…too few and there’d be no replacements after tree death…but if new trees only grow when the old ones get torched…the forest stay in balance). We learned that sometimes, a forest has to burn. We even began doing routine controlled burns to keep everything fresh and prevent massive fires caused by the presence of too much fuel.

The economy isn’t so different. It, like the forest, is a natural cycle that depends on the constant refreshment of raw materials…from materials to products to money and waste and back again. The economy, like the forest, dies if businesses don’t get pruned or burned away…small businesses (and even large ones) live off of the decaying material of old, failing ones. Every time a big company hits chapter 11 or even chapter 7, a hole in the market canopy is made for someone else to fill that market demand and the materials on which that business flourished are still there to be used. They get sold to the highest bidder and the cycle begins again.

The reason this is less apparent now than it was 150 years ago is that government is in the way of the natural order of things. Take GM, for example. When the bailout was made in 2009, the argument was that if we let GM die, a whole region of the country would crumble and the hardship would destroy the economy and impact too many people. Beyond the tens of thousands that would lose their jobs at GM, there were the millions of people who depended on the economy boosting effects of a large multi-national corporation to survive. Detroit became wholesale dependent on General Motors to survive as a city for four reasons:

1) The company was allowed to get too big to be sustainable by constant Federal assistance (either i the form of direct bailouts or in tax breaks and subsidies – meaning too much of the economic canopy was blocked by GM.

2) Government assurances that GM was too big to fail allowed GM execs to crush competition with risky business practices that few other companies could get away with.

3) Oppressive government hyper-regulation of business (which always favors big labor and big business over small, competitive, mobile businesses) prevented new businesses from starting in Detroit.

4) National standards in corporate taxes (payroll taxes, capital gains taxes, etc) are not competitive with the global market place – GM could absorb the costs because they were too big to fail and the government had their back…but smaller businesses had to pull up and leave town for China.

With the help of government, the Detroit part of the forest became dominated by one ancient, gnarled, overgrown tree that gave nothing back to the forest floor…and all was death. The city collapsed as all of the capital in GM stayed in GM and it did nothing for the economy of Detroit. So what is a conservative to do now…GM is giant and if it dies, a bare, dry, resourceless forest floor will not produce more trees. Even if you want to make this argument, the reason it became like this was government intrusion on industry. But I think this argument fails too.

If GM collapses, its’ debters will take shares of its’ assets. Many tens of thousands of stockholders will have lost a lot of capital, no doubt, but the company’s hard assets (material goods, land, and personnel) will still exist. To recoup on some of the debt, other, more successful business owners will have the chance to bid on those hard assets. GM will receive new leadership, and, since there’s not much that can be done with a car factory but..um…make cars…there’s a good chance that the dead tree on the forest floor will become home to half a dozen saplings in the form of smaller car companies…or perhaps one smaller tree that leaves more room for competition from other trees on the perimeter of GM’s clearing. (I know I’m stretching the metaphor a tad, but bear with me).

It will hurt, in the short term, but it simply isn’t the case that the death of a large company results in the collapse of its’ entire market. History is littered with the collapses of huge companies. The market demand doesn’t go away just because the business does.

Of course, a free market doesn’t work in the international community because we are outcompeted by international markets that are neither free nor fair to their workers the way we are. Or so say leftists. I would argue that if we made our government less ambitious, the freedom to operate a successful business would be a far more powerful engine for true wealth creation than any slave labor they might get in China to cut costs. But it all begins with international tariffs and lower corporate taxes and far…FAR less government regulation and tax write-offs for powerful investors.

And then…when a business fails…we have got to let it burn. Take a tip from mother nature, granola-chewing hippy wussies…she’s trying to tell you something.

A Serious Plan to Replace Obamacare

A Serious Plan to Replace Obamacare
@ The Washington Examiner

Ryan wants to change the government policies that insulate the health care consumer from nearly all costs, thus distorting incentives for doctors and patients alike. Price signals, a staple of any functioning free market, have been muffled in health care, where third parties (insurers and the government) pay roughly 88 percent of health care costs, up from 52 percent in 1960. Because patients don’t pay the bills, most of them have no idea how much services cost, let alone what they are worth. This leaves doctors and hospitals in a competitive vacuum where price and value bear little relation to one another.

Hey! I believe that’s what I said two weeks ago. Fancy that!

I also like Ryan’s suggestion that we untether health insurance from employment through a universal tax credit. People who don’t get benefits at work are getting screwed by the current system, so yes, we do need to fix that.

A Misnomer: "Democrat" Party (Part II)

Democrats Emerge From Closet, Oppose Democracy
@ Powerline

How many Democrats are National Socialists at heart? Quite a few, I suspect, and every now and then the Democrats’ totalitarian urges break through to the surface. Thus, we have the Governor of North Carolina, Bev Perdue, suggesting that we “ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years.” The press assures us that she was just kidding. I would modestly submit that suspending elections is not something an elected executive should kid about.

That the left opposes democracy is certainly not news to me. We saw that sentiment in action in Wisconsin earlier this year.

Victor Davis Hanson: Another Writer You Should Read Regularly

Consider, for example, his latest article (at Pajamas Media):

Why Does the Good Life End?

Redistribution of wealth rather than emphasis on its creation is surely a symptom of aging societies. Whether at Byzantium during the Nika Riots or in bread and circuses Rome, when the public expects government to provide security rather than the individual to become autonomous through a growing economy, then there grows a collective lethargy. I think that is the message of Juvenal’s savage satires about both mobs and the idle rich. Fourth-century Athenian literature is characterized by forensic law suits, as citizens sought to sue each other, or to sue the state for sustenance, or to fight over inheritances…

Just because the state will sue you for the appearance of sexual harassment does not mean that leaving your laptop in a college university carrel means it is less likely to be stolen than, say, a wallet in 1955. The frightening worry is that the two are connected: the more the state steps in to to assure that we are cosmically moral, the more we assume we can relax and therefore become concretely immoral. Detroit is a symptom of that transition from family to state definitions of morality. Go to Athens today, and one can read high-sounding praises of the all-encompassing welfare state, and see all around private machinations to get out of taxes and boasts about getting a public job that requires no work and earns lots of pay…

I especially like that Hanson uses his knowledge of the classical period to make his case. Everything that we are experiencing now as a society has happened before. Unfortunately, historical literacy has not been encouraged in our nation’s schools.

Is FTL Travel Possible?

Modern physicists currently say no, but an experiment at the CERN particle accelerator has thrown doubt on Einstein’s theory:

Has a Speeding Neutrino Really Overturned Einstein?
Michio Kaku @ the Wall Street Journal

Physicists fired a beam of neutrinos (exotic, ghost-like particles that can penetrate even the densest of materials) from Switzerland to Italy, over a distance of 454 miles. Much to their amazement, after analyzing 15,000 neutrinos, they found that they traveled faster than the speed of light—one 60-billionth of a second faster, to be precise. In a billionth of a second, a beam of light travels about one foot. So a difference of 60 feet was quite astonishing.

It’ll be interesting to see whether other groups will be able to replicate these results.

Frell It. I’m Voting for Captain America.

Well — not really. But I am frustrated with the current Republican field:

  • I don’t want to vote for Mittens. He ran a great Olympics, but he’s still a New England Republican with a questionable record, especially on the health care issue. I also don’t care for his recent Mediscare tactics, which he ripped right out of the DNC’s play book.
  • I don’t want to vote for Perry either. I stand by the posts I wrote defending Perry in re: evolution; I think I was right to give the guy a chance. Unfortunately, he’s turned out to be a crap-ass extemporaneous speaker (who also steals lines from the Democrats, by the way), and while I hate – with the fire of a thousand suns – what passes for a “political debate” in this day and age, the media environment is what it is. We need a candidate who can competently challenge said media’s unspoken assumptions.
  • And what about Herman Cain, who managed to win the Florida straw poll this week? On the one hand, I find his outsider status very attractive. Career politicians have obviously failed us; perhaps it’s time to try something different. On the other hand, Cain’s incomplete grasp of the world “out there” is very worrying. His instincts may lead him in the right direction, but still — foreign policy is the president’s principal Constitutional responsibility. Cain would need to demonstrate a genuine capacity to learn the ropes before I would be comfortable giving him my vote.

Sigh. At this point, I’m about to break into song:

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to wait around for a conservative political “messiah.” I know there’s no such animal. But can’t we do better than this? Seriously.

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

Defunct NASA satellite slows down plunge to Earth,
US no longer out of woods

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A dead 6-ton satellite baffled NASA experts Friday by slowing its descent toward Earth and delaying its ultimate crash until the early part of the weekend.

The space agency is now predicting the satellite will crash down to Earth late Friday or early Saturday, Eastern Time. Increased solar activity had been causing the atmosphere to expand and the satellite to fall more quickly, but that’s no longer such a major factor, experts said. What’s more, the orientation of the satellite apparently has changed in orbit, and that’s slowing its fatal plunge.

Friday morning, NASA cautioned there is now a slim chance any surviving debris will land in the United States. Earlier this week, NASA said North America would be in the clear and that the satellite would strike somewhere Friday afternoon.

The probability that anyone will be hit by a chunk of debris from this satellite is very low, but still — watch your heads!