Sunday, November 18, 2012

Name Change

Visitors to this space may notice a change in its title. I’ve (finally) dispensed with the banality – Just Thinking and replaced it with The Yacht Club. The current title is a parody of the leftist caricature of conservatives as rich, out of touch elitists. I chose The Yacht Club over other possible alternatives, (The Country Club for one), in recognition of The Weekly Standard's John McCormack's priceless response to a Reuters news report a few years back.

December 11, 2008

(Reuters) U.S. Conservatives rubbed their hands with glee on Wednesday over news that the Democratic governor of Illinois has been accused of attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama.

(McCormack) I was actually twirling my moustache while sipping scotch at the yacht club.

It's Greek To Me

"The facts of life are conservative." - Margaret Thatcher

"What can't continue, will stop." - Economist Herbert Stein

On November 6 American voters embraced European Socialism. Let's take a brief look at what they've chosen.

The overall EU unemployment rate is currently 11.6%, but that number, awful as it is, obscures the worst of the region's malaise. Skewing the results is Germany, with its large and relatively free economy. The Angela Merkel led country managed to get through the 2008 recession without burdening itself with a "stimulus" package and is now being rewarded with a 5.4% jobless rate. Most of the rest of the region is a shambles. Spain's unemployment rate is 25.8%, Greece's, 25.1%. These are 1930s Depression level statistics. 23.3% of all EU "workers" under the age of 25 are out of work. In Greece, that rate is 55.6% (!!). Not included in these numbers is the massive cohort of Europeans for which unemployment is a profession. (A favorite subject of  Mark Steyn's). The streets of Athens are regularly filled with rioters and tear gas. The protesters are opposed to austerity measures to be imposed as a condition to having their country's wrecked economy bailed out. (Austerity, in this case, is the term used to describe the loss of the right to other people's money). When our time comes, we won't have it so good. No one is going to offer to bail us out.

Yet the European model is the one that Obama and the Democrats have chosen to emulate. $1,600,000,000,000 is the sum he would like to extract from the U.S. economy over the next decade to help fund his party's seemingly insatiable appetite for government programs favoring political benefactors. Funny, I don't remember him mentioning that number during the campaign. There was a lot of stuff about his opponent's dog and Big Bird and binders and the imminent scarcity of contraceptives, a commodity more ubiquitous than water in some parts of the country. Obama did say that he wanted to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for those earning more than $250,000, "millionaires" and "billionaires" in Obamaspeak. But that would raise, at most, in a utopian fantasy world where tax rates don't affect behavior, a mere $80 billion, not a sum twenty times as large. 1.6 trill would affect a whole lot more than 1% of the people. And it is little more than a down payment on what promises to be a series of anti-growth, anti-innovation, anti-job tax hikes, one of which could be the mother of all sales taxes, a European-style VAT (Value Added Tax). Obama has purchased for us, with lots of our money, 8% unemployment and meager economic growth. Now the bill is coming due. And the Obamacare tsunami hasn't even hit yet.

There is hope that the GOP controlled house House can limit the damage. Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's considerable talents will be tested. Then, in four years when he moves into the White House, (and assisted by his highly capable VP Marco Rubio), there may still be pieces to pick up and put back together again.

Here are just a few of my thoughts on the election. (Most of my thinking on the subject is unprintable).

A good line by Dennis Miller, suggesting that Mark Steyn's apocalyptic book, "After America", be retitled, "Wednesday".

The day after the election I was listening, unwillingly, to NPR (National Palestinian Radio as David Mamet calls it) and heard a woman being interviewed saying that she voted for Obama because Romney didn't understand her "plight". Without exactly knowing what her "plight" is, and assuming it's not caused by some unremediable physical or mental affliction, I suspect that Romney knows more about it, and how it came about, and how to better remedy it than she does. And she can be sure that the Democrats are quite happy that she and millions of others continue to have "plights" like hers which the party can pretend to care about and sustain with their incentive crushing welfare programs.

Ironically, Obama was helped immeasurably by two factors he bitterly opposes. One is GOP control of governor's mansions and state legislatures. Many of the 29 governors (now 30) have worked hard to get their states' finances in order. This has helped keep unemployment down and improve the national economy. 
The other is the ongoing revolution in natural gas fracking and private land oil drilling which has proceeded in spite of Democratic attempts to curtail it. With an even marginally less corrupt president not so securely planted in the pocket of billionaire Al Gore's "green" industry, private enterprise's latest triumph would be currently producing an economic boom rivalling the one generated by the development of the internet in the late 90s. (Incidentally, natural gas is an "earth friendly" fuel, emitting half as much carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour of energy generated than coal, which is what it is replacing. That is the reason that U.S. carbon emissions are currently at a twenty year low).

Obama was also helped out by the timing of Hurricane Sandy and by that weasel, Chris Christie, who was emotionally overcome by the storm's devastation and the task he had been handed. Crumbling under the pressure, the governor threw himself into the arms of the preening, bomber-jacket clad poseur who showed up at his door feigning concern. This allowed history's most partisan president to stake a claim of bipartisanship. Christie has been an Ann Coulter favorite. I wonder what she thinks of him now.

Many conservatives are blaming the loss on Romney's lackluster campaign. True, he made mistakes, but given his opponent, the case he presented should have been sufficient to win. It was a clear choice -Execrable vs. Excellent and the former won. Jay Nordlinger's assessment is on the mark.

"Some of my colleagues are almost comically incapable of blaming the people — of holding them responsible for their votes. This is charming, in a way, in addition to comical. Some political version of “The customer is always right.” I don’t have this problem, thank heaven. I think the people are in fact responsible. And often wrong.
 ...I think the people — the holy, sacred people — are wrong about movies, music, morality. A whole range of things. But they’re supposed to be brimming with wisdom when they enter the voting booths on Election Day?
That would be strange.
 ...I think Romney would have made an excellent president — a superb, sterling president. Perhaps an historic one, the “turnaround artist” we needed."

Sports teams significantly inferior to their opponents sometimes utilize the strategic ploy of shortening the game. That is, they slow down the pace, try to maintain possession of the ball or puck as much as possible, and employ delaying tactics like repeatedly kicking the ball out of bounds in soccer or standing around in the huddle longer in football. In this way, and by catching a break or two, they hope to pull out an unexpected victory. (Of course, this only works with timed games. Baseball games and tennis matches can't be "shortened".)
In politics, a strategy analogous to shortening the game is shrinking the electorate. As an inferior candidate who knew he was going to get less votes than he did the first time around, Obama needed to attack and demonize his opponent. Thus, voters disapproving of Obama's performance in office would be still be disincentivized to vote for Romney, opting to stay home rather than trudge out to the polls. This is indeed what happened. Even though he recieved a higher percentage of the votes than did John McCain, Romney's actual number of votes was lower.
In sports, quality usually prevails and shortening the game rarely succeeds. In politics, quality is a minor factor and shrinking the electorate succeeds all too often.

Democrats believe that the right to vote should be extended to anyone with a pulse (and to some without one). Self interest fuels this committment, of course. A dumbed-down electorate populated with felons, illiterates, the undocumented, and non-English speakers leans leftward. It is also a major cause of the low quality of governance we receive. The correct course is to raise the eligibility standards to vote, not lower them. I would require prospective voters to pass a test similar to those given to prospective citizens. Require the presentation at the polls a government issued ID (driver's license, passport). No felons. Ballots printed in English only. And raise the voting age back to 21. It was a bad idea extending the vote to idealistic dreamers lacking real world experience, especially when many are currently marinating in the muck of radical academia. As an election worker in a precinct overwhelmingly comprised of university students, I'm also made aware of their intellectual shortcomings. One young voter this past election day asked if he was supposed to vote for the person running against the candidate he favored. "Why would you think that?" he was asked. "Well, the instructions on the ballot say to mark the space opposite the candidate of your choice."

Obama to supporters - "We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us".

Obama rejecting House Minority (now Majority) Leader Eric Cantor's offer to negotiate aspects of health care reform - "Eric, you lost, we won ... get over it".

Obama to the country (after the election) - " the coming weeks and months I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together..."

Suggested GOP response to Obama - "Go have sexual relations with yourself".

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hitting Close To Home

I Didn't Leave The Democrats. They Left Me, is the title of a column in today's Wall Street Journal. Philanthropist, entrepreneur and son of Jewish immigrants, Sheldon G. Adelson expresses his dismay at what the Democratic Party has become and why he now strongly supports Republicans.

So why did I leave the party?
My critics nowadays like to claim it's because I got wealthy or because I didn't want to pay taxes or because of some other conservative caricature. No, the truth is the Democratic Party has changed in ways that no longer fit with someone of my upbringing.

...It's the choice that, I believe, my old immigrant Jewish neighbors would have made. They would not have let a few disagreements with Republicans void the importance of siding with the political party that better supports liberal democracies like Israel, the party that better exemplifies the spirit of charity, and the party with economic policies that would certainly be better for those Americans now looking for work.