I have a dream Presidential ticket for 2016. What’s yours?

Presidential SealCPAC brought to the front the ideological war Ted Cruz, a committed Tea Party conservative, and Rand Paul, a libertarian conservative, are waging against each other. I think both have many virtues and serve the constitution very well in Congress. Indeed, I thought Ted Cruz did a good thing when he took his stand against Obamacare last fall. Nevertheless, I don’t want either one as a presidential candidate. Both are provocateurs and, while that’s important for getting messages across and rallying the troops, being a provocateur is not the same as being a leader.

So, what is my current dream ticket for the 2016 Presidential election? Scott Walker for President and Allen West for Vice President.

Scott Walker’s travails and triumphs in Wisconsin told us a great deal about the man: He’s a principled conservative; he can stand the heat without getting ruffled; he’s stalwart; and he’s an extremely good manager, especially economically. In other words, absent such further evidence as may develop in the next two years, he’s perfect chief executive material. Moreover, to date, the worst that the media has been able to discover about him is that, in college, he started campaigning for student office one day early. I think the American people will forgive that.

As for Allen West, there are two reasons I like him. First, I just do. It’s the same way I like Keanu Reeves. It happens at a visceral level that I can’t articulate. But the other reason I like West is because he’s got what it takes to be a Veep preparing to be a president:  He’s a principled conservative; he’s a fiery fighter; he’s stalwart; and he understands command. If he’d also had a successful term as a governor, I’d readily put him on the top of the ticket. We’ve learned the hard way, though, that being president is not a good place for on-the-job training in political management.

So, here’s my dream ticket, based on information available today (subject to change as new information becomes available):

Walker West 2016 Dream Ticket

Please chime in with encouragement, derision, new facts, and alternative suggestions.

Tuesday night stuff (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesJust a few quick links I don’t want to leave on the table before I head down to my perpetual motion machine for the rest of the evening.

Earlier today, I bought a Mark Steyn gift certificate to help fund his legal battle against Michael Mann, a man who rejoices under the title of being a scientist, but is in fact a First Amendment terrorist. Not too long after that, I read Dennis Prager’s article about Bryan Stow. Living in the Bay Area, I had heard about Stow, a SF Giants fan beaten almost to death by some L.A. Dodger’s fans. In the intervening years, I hadn’t realized that his injuries were so devastating. I also didn’t know until today that the men who did this to him got off with prison sentences equal to a slap on the hand — sentences that made them smirk happily when handed down. Please consider donating to the Bryan Stow fund. I did, and only regret that I hadn’t done so sooner.

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When Victor Davis Hanson is good, he’s really, really good. He’s all that in his post about the Bizarro World of Barack Obama’s presidency, in which every manifest failure is presented to Americans as a glowing success. Lincoln famously said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” He was wrong. We live in a P.T. Barnum world, where there’s a sucker born every minute — and they’re all supporting Barack Obama and his administration.

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No link here, just an observation: I was speaking to my fairly apolitical sister about political correctness, education trends, national security, etc. I asked her, “Am I so exercised about this stuff because I’m an old fogey, like the old Yorkshire men famous for beginning each sentence by saying ‘When I were a lad,’ or has the world really gotten weird lately?” She answered, “It’s gotten really weird. The changes are fast and they are strange.”

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It’s not just that Andrew Malcolm wrote a good article about Barack Obama’s myriad foreign policy failures and the disdain in which this Nobel Prize winner is held around the world. It’s also the side by side photos of presidents Bush and Obama with the Dalai Lama. It makes me steam to think that, probably without exception, the Dalai Lama’s supporters voted for Obama. I’m not a fan of the Dalai Lama who, despite China’s constant depredations against his land, has announced that he’s a Marxist, meaning he’s dumb as a post, but I do admire his steadfast fight for his country’s independence (a fight he apparently carries out so that his country, too, can become a large socialist workers gulag). And yes, that was one of the longest sentences I’ve ever written, but I kept my clauses in nice order.

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If the name Margalit Fox is familiar to you, it’s because you pay attention to the bylines on New York Times obituaries. In my humble opinion, the New York Times obituary section is the only section in that paper worth reading — and what makes it worthwhile in significant part is Fox’s delightful writing. Knowing what a good writer she is, I didn’t think twice about picking up The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code when I saw that she was the author. My instincts were good. Fox brings to life the decades’ long (and eventually successful) effort to decipher the Linear B writing found at Knossos, home of the many King Minoses and the famous Minotaur. I’m halfway through the book, and am finding it difficult to put it down.

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If the Thomas Jefferson quotation at Doug Ross’s site is apocryphal, please don’t tell me. I want to believe it’s real. (No, I take that back. Intellectual honesty matters more than wishful thinking.)

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I’ve never managed to be that thrilled by Sen. Marco Rubio. I think with a bit of time at his back, he’ll be something wonderful, but right now he’s not quite all that — except that is, when it comes to ripping apart old Leftists and their sorry love affair with Cuba. That fire is the promise that he can become a great statesman, although he isn’t one yet.

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Speaking of statesmen, I’m beginning to put more and more faith in Scott Walker as a serious potential presidential candidate. If the worst that the Democrat attack dogs can come up with about him as that, back in college in the late 1980s, he announced in advance that he was running for student body president, rather than waiting until the official announcement day to do so, the media is going to have to work hard to discredit him. Add the lack of bad stuff to all the major good stuff in Wisconsin, and you’ve got Candidate Squeaky-Clean-and-Principled. Indeed, my only complaint about him will be the fact that he’s younger than I am. How in the world did it happen that I got to be older than the guys running for president? (Obama is only a month younger than I am, so that doesn’t count.)

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Islamists kill. That’s what they do. And they especially love killing children because, even for psychopaths, soft targets (baby-soft targets) are the best. Or maybe I mean “especially for psychopaths.” Regardless, even as these monsters continue to array themselves in ever greater numbers against the West, our administration announces that it’s going to shrink the Army back to its 1930 size. We saw, of course, how well that worked back in the day.

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This is what Obamacare is all about (from a son’s WSJ article about Obamacare’s death sentence for his mother):

[T]here is something deeply and incontestably perverse about a law that so distorts and undermines the free activity of individuals that they can no longer buy and sell the goods and services that keep them alive. ObamaCare made my mother’s old plan illegal, and it forced her to buy a new plan that would accelerate her disease and death.

[snip]

The “Affordable” Care Act is a brutal, Procrustean disaster. In principle, it violates the irreducible particularity of human life, and in practice it will cause many individuals to suffer and die. We can do better, and we must.

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Sultan Knish makes a point that is obvious only in retrospect, after having read his post: just as raw power isn’t concentrated in corporations’ hands but is, instead, concentrated in a centralized government’s hands, so too is wealth concentrated, not in corporations or amongst a wealthy few, but in a centralized, socialized or semi-socialized government’s pocket.

Friday morning thoughts (and Open Thread)

The other day, Victorian posy of pansiesI wasn’t able to get to my desktop computer, which is where I write with ease and fluidity.  I was also was quite depressed that day.  Thinking about it, I told my sister that I wasn’t depressed because life is temporarily inconvenient.  I was depressed, instead, because I didn’t get my “writer’s high.”  For many years, I’ve kept myself buoyant through two endorphin-releasing activities:  martial arts and writing.  For the past six months, I’ve been unable to do martial arts, but I still had my writing.  When writing is also denied me, my endorphins vanish, and I get into a funk.  Just an hour at the computer is equal to several bowls of chocolate ice cream — without the calories.

And now to a variety of quick links that have come my way:

An artist in South Florida deliberately destroyed a 7,000 year old Chinese vase to protest the fact that the arts community in Miami isn’t paying enough attention to local artists.  If you’re like me, your first thought upon reading that story was “That man is just crazy.”  Well, if he’s crazy, so is Prince William.  Little Willy has announced that he wants to destroy the monarchy’s priceless 1,200 piece ivory collection to protest the illegal ivory trade.  He’s apparently unimpressed by the fact that these ivories span the centuries, meaning that they come from times long-predating modern environmentalism.  The combination of an appropriately Progressive education and a credulous, rather stupid father clearly has had its effect on the Prince’s reasoning skills and values.

One of my friends, upon hearing about Prince William’s proposal, had the perfect response:  “Perhaps he should also dismantle the monarchy since it has caused so many wars, slavery, and other human suffering. While he’s at it, why not return all the Egyptian treasures spread throughout London the monarchy looted?”

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Mark Steyn is representing himself in the case that Michael Mann — creator of the completely discredited hockey stick graph — has brought against him and against the National ReviewOne can argue that Steyn will find that there’s truth to the saying that “the man who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer.”  I’m not so sure.  In my experience, judges give an enormous amount of leeway to parties who appear on their own behalf.  The smart man representing himself may well be in a better position than the smart man trapped behind a mediocre attorney whose only virtue is that he’s affordable.

If Steyn’s answer and counter-claim is anything to go by, Steyn’s doing just fine.  He understands that the law is on his side.  This is a pure First Amendment case and doesn’t require complex legal analysis.  The only way to win is to make the facts come alive and to reveal Michael Mann for what he is:  a discredited scientist who has used shoddy research and false reports to make himself famous, and who now tries to cling to his dishonestly-won fame by bullying people through the legal system.

Not only does Steyn understand the necessary strategy, he’s taken advantage of his pro per status to write one of the most delightful pleadings I’ve ever seen.  My first drafts usually have the same puckish quality (although I lack Steyn’s wit, erudition, flair, and musicality), but I always take those bits out for fear the judge will think I’m making sport of him.  Steyn, however, is clearly, and deftly, making sport of Mann:

69. Denies the allegations in Paragraph Sixty-Nine of the Amended Complaint, and thinks we’re going round in circles here.

[snip]

111. Denies the allegations in Paragraph One-Hundred-And-Eleven of the Amended Complaint, and feels Plaintiff is going round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a
wheel, like the circles that you find in the tree-rings of your mind.

[snip]

129. Plaintiff Michael Mann is a widely known figure in the scientific and public policy spheres of global warming research who has thrust himself into the politics of the
global warming debate by appearing in TV commercials for political candidates, writing newspaper columns regularly for The Guardian, The New York Times and others, serving as scientific advisor to and appearing in a climate-change TV series starring climate experts Matt Damon and Jessica Alba, and is therefore a public figure. In March 2012, Plaintiff published a book called The Hockey Stick And The Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines, the “front lines” presumably referring to his media appearances with Miss Alba et al.

[snip]

131. At the other end of the spectrum, Plaintiff and his counsel have issued demands that have no basis in law, as they well know – including the preposterous assertion, in response to a parody video by “Minnesotans for Global Warming”, that “Professor Mann’s likeness” is protected from parody and satire. (See attached letter from Plaintiff’s counsel.) Plaintiff has engaged in serial misrepresentation and false claims to authority, including (in his original Complaint against Defendant Steyn) purporting to be a Nobel Laureate and (in his current Complaint and elsewhere) purporting to have been exonerated by multiple investigations and by fellow scientists who have, in fact, pronounced Mann and his work “inappropriate”, “exaggerated”, “non-robust” and his defense of it “incorrect”. There is a smell to the hockey stick that, in Lady Macbeth’s words, “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten” – nor all the investigations. And so Dr Mann has determined to sue it into respectability.

Speaking as a well-seasoned litigator, I wish I’d written that.

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At African-American Conservatives on Facebook, a picture that perfectly illustrates why I’ve had a problem with electric cars — and with the fact that Obama is using my money to fund them, all under the umbrella of “anthropogenic climate change”:

Dirty electrical cars

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The more I know about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the more I like him. And the more the Left knows about Walker, the more it fears him. I have a feeling all the fishing expeditions will come up empty. After the recall vote, all the dirt that can be dug probably has been dug.

allen-west-20101Speaking of presidential candidates, even my apolitical sister asked me, “Who’s going to be the Democrat nominee? Hillary? I don’t think she can win, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone else.” Exactly. I told her to keep an eye on Walker. I also really, really like Allen West, and I think he could make an Eisenhower-esque claim to having executive experience notwithstanding his lack of a governorship. He and Walker could be a very exciting President/Vice President package. I also have to admit to something of a girlish crush on West. I think he’s just amazingly good-looking. He looks so crisp and fresh.

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Proof that not all news anchors are just talking heads. These two, stuck without any audio, are really funny.

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Do we need to say again that true science is never settled? Or that stifling dissent is unscientific? Probably we do. We need to say it again and again and again until we are like the horns bringing down the walls of Jericho. And if someone’s going to be your trumpet, Charles Krauthammer is the Louis Armstrong of intelligent dissent.

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Every year in Laredo, something amazing happens:  on both sides of the border, people gather together to celebrate George Washington, but they do so with an exquisite Tejano twist.  As with the last Independent Lens documentary I wrote about, the documentary maker isn’t very good, but the subject matter transcends the production.

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Do you remember this creepy video, with elementary school children singing about the glories of the imagined hope that the Messiah Obama would bring to America? Well, someone’s updated it (h/t Sadie):

Wednesday Wrap-Up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesThis is what community organizers do: they go into a struggling community that anxiously awaits a high-quality, low-priced store that community members believe will help lift up their neighborhood and, shouting racial epithets, they shut the initiative down.

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Democracy?  Who needs democracy, even a watered-down representative democracy?  Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has announced that she will enthusiastically bypass the Congress to which she belongs and simply draft orders for His Imperial Majesty Barack Hussein Sotero Obama to sign.

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Labeling as “criminals” people who commit illegal acts is somehow insulting.  I wonder if Justice Sotomayor, who made this Orwellian statement, has the same standard when it comes to pedophiles.  (Maybe Woody Allen can help her answer that question.  And yes, I think he’s guilty, if only because so many of his movies reflect an old man’s obsession with young, female flesh.)

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John Kerry lies, and lies, and lies — this time about Israel.  And he lies precisely in the same way Barack Obama does:  blatantly and unashamedly, secure in the knowledge that a compliant media (and, in this regard, that includes Fox) will not call him out.

Speaking of Fox and Israel, I’m wondering something. Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family and one of the richest men in the world, is the second largest holder of shares in Fox. In the past, he’s claimed to have put pressure on Fox to tilt the news his (and Saudi Arabia’s) way.  That meant that Fox, while reliably conservative in most ways, was more Muslim-friendly and less-Israel friendly than one would expect.  Now, though, Saudi Arabia and Israel suddenly have similar interests:  keeping the bomb out of Iran and preventing Iran from becoming the true power broker in the Middle East.  I wonder if this will change Fox’s tilt.  I don’t have an answer, because I don’t watch TV news.  Has anyone noticed a change in Fox News’ coverage?

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And speaking of Muslim-friendly news, CAIR is advertising a “walk against Islamophobia.”  I love Drew’s comment at Weasel Zipper’s:  “If CAIR really think so-called ‘Islamophobia’ is a problem then why don’t they hold a ‘walk against Islamic terrorism?’ Wait, that means they would have to condemn their co-religionists, never mind.”  That statement really nails the problem with CAIR, doesn’t it?

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Oh, and while I’m piling up on Islam, Daniel Greenburg wrote a Groundhog Day post looking at the fact that Islam never breaks free of its endless day of winter.

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And while I’m on the subject of Daniel Greenburg, he’s got another superb post (he’s always got superb posts), this one about the utopian Universalists, who speak the language of universal love while spreading antisemitic hate.

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Salon has sunk to new lows by openly promoting communism (and no, I won’t link to that drek).  It does so, of course, through lies.  Tom Toth calls out Salon on its latest pro-Communist grotesqueries.

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As an aside, looking at the posts above about Islamism, antisemitism, Universalism, and communism, I can only say that it’s not true that man is the most dangerous animal of all.  The truth is that there are certain subsets of man who deny morality, individual freedom, and the worth of the individual — they are the most dangerous animals of all.  And now back to our regularly scheduled linkfest.

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The more I hear about Scott Walker, the more I like what I hear.  He’s courageous, tenacious, and highly effective.  Unlike Rand Paul, Mike Lee, or Ted Cruz, all of whom are dynamos for conservativism, he hasn’t spun his wheels in the toxic environment of Congress.  Instead, despite enormous obstacles in Wisconsin, he’s wrought huge changes in that most Left of Left states.  As with other young conservatives who have appeared on the horizon, I’m not yet willing to give him my heart but, if he stays true to what he seems to be at this moment in time, he might well be my guy.

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And finally, I was not charmed or moved by Budweiser’s “Welcome home, soldier” Super Bowl commercial.  This was not a community’s spontaneous outpouring for a returned soldier; it was a corporate event.  As best as I could tell, it was the commercial equivalent of astroturf, rather than grass-roots, organization.  I was therefore completely unsurprised to read that Budweiser wasn’t the only self-promoting corporation involved.  Lt. Chuck Nadd also makes a career out of self-promotion.  As the post to which I linked said, this is the American way.  But it doesn’t mean you have to be moved or manipulated by it.

Does the Wisconsin vote matter?

The American Future Fund put together a very funny video that shows Progressives before and after the Wisconsin election.  Before, defeat meant an imminent apocalypse; after, defeat meant . . . nothing:

You can’t blame the Progressives for their differing before and after statements. With the November 2012 election coming up, one could argue that circumstances forced them to take both positions.

But we here at the Bookworm Room aren’t Progressives, and we’re not trying to induce people to vote one way or another.  Perhaps, then, we can come to a consensus about the implications of Walker’s victory in Wisconsin.

I’m too lazy right now to hunt up links, so I’m going to make factual statements that I’m 99% certain are accurate.  You can accept them as true, or you can call me on my errors.  This also isn’t a carefully framed essay.  Instead, I’m just throwing out ideas.

1.  Here’s a fact I know for certain, because I was there when it happened: I heard a pro-Obama liberal say, “Oh, my God!  This is a disaster.”  When I asked why, she said, “Because I wanted Obama to win in November, and this means he won’t.”  The media and White House may be spinning, but at least one (wo)man on the street thinks that the Wisconsin election, rather than being an anomaly, is a harbinger of things to come.

2.  Many have commented on the disparity between exit polls and votes.  I’m not ready to draw a conclusion from those discrepancies.  Roger Simon suggests a Bradley effect, one that sees political ideology, not racial views, as the opinion people are trying to hide during face-to-face interviews.  If he’s right, the polls in this election season just became meaningless, and all bets are off for November.  DQ, however, had a good point, which is that, until we know how many absentee ballots were cast in Wisconsin, we can’t know how anomalous the poll results really were.  Here in Marin, for example, up to 60% of voters do so by absentee ballot.  With only 40% of voters showing up at the polling places, and the pollsters only catching a small fraction of those, there’s going to be a wide margin for error in any hypothetical exit polling.

3.  Some man-on-the-street interviews saw people saying, “I just don’t like the recall idea.”  Maybe that’s true.  Or maybe people are lying about their motives for voting conservative in order to hide their resurgent conservative identity.  In any event, a couple of interviews does not a statistical sample make.  What’s of some significance is the fact that Scott Walker is the only governor to survive a recall vote.  In other words, in other places and other elections, people weren’t so squeamish about kicking out a governor who was fighting a recall.

4.  Money matters — and I’m not talking about money spent on elections.  Scott Walker, in the short time available to him as governor, shifted the Wisconsin balance sheet away from a huge, even catastrophic deficit.  People who are not ideologues will vote for someone who is manifestly preserving their way of life, even if they’re voting outside of their normal party identification.

5.  The unions are in serious trouble.  It’s not just that they lost.  It’s that, when workers in Walker’s Wisconsin were given a choice to walk away from the unions, they did so — causing a 2/3 drop in union rolls.  This means that the unions are serving only the politicians and the union leaders.  The rank and file might have been getting good benefits, but they realized that good benefits are meaningless in a broke nation.  They opted for social stability, rather than being forced to turn over their money to a union that didn’t serve them well and that didn’t serve their community well.

6.  This is deeply damaging for Barack Obama.  Oh, I know that Wisconsin is just one state.  There might have been all sorts of unique Wisconsin factors at work here that, practically speaking, have no relationship to Obama and to the nation as a whole.  But this was a big Democrat push.  The unions, which are synonymous with Democrats, put their all into this.  The protests against Walker were tied closely to the Occupy movement which is, in turn, tied closely to the Democrats.  The two candidates took positions that perfectly represented the dividing lines of political thought in this country, with Walker being the principled, budget-cutting conservative, and Barrett promising the same old big-spending, pro-union Democrat governance that saw Wisconsin slowly go broke in the first place.  When the Democrat side lost, you could practically see the stench start rising from the corpse.  That stench is going to stick to Democrats nationwide and, naturally, it’s going to stick hardest to the top Democrat.  It’s not the nail in the Obama re-election coffin, but it’s certain equal to a handful of nails, and joins other painful moments, ranging from big failures, such as the dismal job reports, worldwide economic collapse, and the scary despotism of the Arab Spring that Obama helped usher in, to small failures, such as the dog wars, the mommy wars, the bullying wars, etc.  Obama is looking like a very weak horse indeed, and in unstable times, that’s the last person the voters want shepherding their nation.

I find myself agreeing with the slapping woman — but only up to a point

Have you already seen the video of a Barrett supporter slapping him for conceding to Walker in Wisconsin before even half the votes were counted?  No?  Here’s the video:

I don’t agree with the slap. I think that gal crossed a big line there, even though she asked permission first. Mayor Barrett though, quite reasonably, that she was joking, because nobody with any sense or maturity would slap a politician in that way, especially after he’s suffered what was a painful and, presumably, unexpected defeat.

Although I don’t agree with the slap, I do agree with the sentiment.  It drives me crazy when a politician concedes when he sees which way the wind is blowing.  We know from last night that the exit polls didn’t reflect the votes (either because people lied, or because absentee ballots skewed things, or because the pollsters erred).  This means that statistics are useful predictors, but they’re certainly not entirely accurate.  There comes a point, of course, at which it is impossible for the losing candidate to catch up, even if every single subsequent vote goes in his favor (unless the voting is in Chicago or some other county in which dead people hang onto their civil rights).  I was not under the impression, however, that Barrett had reached that point of no-return.

Don’t get me wrong here:  I’m delighted Barrett lost and Walker won.  I just hate the early concession.

This is a very visceral thing for me.  I cast my first vote back in 1980.  Because of time zone issues, by the time I cast my vote, it was symbolic:  Jimmy Carter had already conceded based upon preliminary returns from other states in different time zones.  In retrospect, I’m delighted that he lost and that he slunk away into the night (or, at least, he slunk away temporarily before emerging later, more malevolent and antisemitic than ever).  What did not delight me, though, was to have my very first presidential vote become manifestly meaningless before I’d even cast it.  Had Carter stuck it out a few hours longer, I might had least have thought that I was casting a vote that might make a difference.

In both 1980 and 2012, the correct man slunk away, and the right man won.  But I understand those supporters who feel that their chosen candidate is a weeny and a wuss for walking away before the last possible vote has been counted.

Entropy is setting in and Obama will lose this election

I tend to shy away from predicting the future.  If I’m right, the future was probably so obvious that everyone else had the same prediction.  If I’m wrong, I should have known better, and I end up walking away sadly scraping the egg from my face.

All morning, though, I’ve been toying with a post about the fact that I think November 2012 is going to be a blow-out election for Romney.  Originally, I thought he’d run a competent campaign (I’ve always had faith in his competence) and sort of ooze by Obama in a small victory.  With five months to go, though, I started revising that thought.  Day by day, especially this week, I’ve had a bizarre mix of metaphors running through my brain:  the walls are caving in, the dike is cracking, the avalanche is beginning its descent, etc.  Regardless of image, the point is the same:  a slow breakdown in a system is followed by a speedy collapse.

Politically, one of the best examples of the speed with which entropy occurs when a natural or man-made organism runs out of the energy to hold itself together is the Soviet Union’s collapse.  It was only in retrospect that people understood how rotten and fragile the USSR was.  It had been sold to us as a nation and political system every bit as hardy as the United States.  That’s why, in establishment eyes, Reagan committed the ultimate sin when he called the USSR an Evil Empire.  The establishment thought to itself “Never wave a red flag in front of a raging bull.”  Reagan, however, knew two things.  First, that something rotten to its core will disintegrate at the slightest touch and, second, that the USSR was just that rotten.  Reagan, and then Bush 41, tapped and tapped and tapped away at the weakened Soviet carapace and then, overnight it seemed, the Wall fell and the Iron Curtain vanished.

Precisely the same thing is happening with the Obama campaign.  It is imploding.  It was a bubble, a facade, a Potemkin village.  It’s essential fragility is making itself increasingly obvious.

I thought that earlier today and then I had that thought reinforced when I wandered over to HuffPo and saw this front page:


Keep in mind as you look at that screen shot that HuffPo one of Obama’s friends.  But it’s also a business (even though it’s run by people who view business as an activity for them, the elites, but not for all the peons who need to be under government control).  And a business goes with a big, big headline:  Total Mess.

“Total Mess” doesn’t just describe the world economy on Obama’s watch.  It describes the Middle East on his watch.  And it describes his own implosions:  the boastfulness, the arrogance, the ignorance, the viciousness. The campaign is stumbling from one incompetent moment to another.

Those closely allied with Obama are falling too.  Watching the Elizabeth Warren debacle, which has finally made it to the MSM, is almost embarrassing.  She can’t open her mouth without humiliating herself with another stumbling lie or explanation.  The only thing that saves the Warren spectacle from being truly embarrassing, as opposed to almost embarrassing, is the fact that Warren had this downfall coming.  An academic and political career built upon dishonesty and arrogance should flame out spectacularly.  The people of Massachusetts may yet step in to save Warren, but the public humiliation will never go away.

And how about the Wisconsin story?  It’s not just that Gov. Walker leads in the recall polls.  The really big story is that, given the choice not to join public sector unions, workers aren’t joining those unions, and they’re not joining in droves.  This means that, for all the corruption at the top — both within the State House and the Union shops — the ordinary workers didn’t feel they were getting a benefit.  If they had, they would have checked off that little contribution box without the necessity of political coercion.  Perhaps people are starting to figure out that, when the union bosses raise the funds that put the politicians in office, who then pay off the union bosses, the only ones who benefit are the politicos and the bosses.  The reality is that nobody likes either of those groups very much.

More than Obama’s flame-out, we’re also seeing Mitt Romney run a nimble, aggressive, and likeable campaign.  His team is getting responses up in minutes or hours.  Romney himself, having been shaped in the primary crucible, is more fluent in his speech and more accessible in his presentation than he’s ever been before.  He’s also adroitly side-stepping each of the traps that the Obama-ites think that they’ve oh-so-cleverly baited for him.

The snowball is rolling bigger and faster.  The avalanche is going from a whisper to a thunderous roar.  The dike’s cracks are widening into unstoppable failures.  Romney will win and Obama will lose.  And the win will be big and the loss will be a significant blow to Progressive politics.  To finish on a schadenfreude note, I will not regret seeing the most arrogant man ever to occupy the White House, and moreover a man whose arrogance was completely unjustified, take a well-deserved and public fall.

Thoughts about the Wisconsin teachers’ union *UPDATED*

As I understand it, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, faced with a $3.6 billion biennial budget deficit (for the years 2011-2013), had the choice of raising taxes in his financially beleaguered state or firing up to 6,000 state employees.  He chose a third route, proposing that Wisconsin’s public sector employees start carrying a small portion of their pension and benefit load.  The Heritage Foundation summarizes Walker’s proposal as follows:

Walker’s proposal would limit collective bargaining power and reform public employee benefit plans. For the first time, state employees would be responsible for making a 5.8 percent contribution into their pension plans and pick up the tab for 12 percent of their health care benefits. As it currently stands, Wisconsin taxpayers bear 100 percent of the costs.

Even with this change to the status quo, the employees are still better off than the average Wisconsin employee.  First, as noted, taxpayers are currently paying all of those costs.  Second, even under the proposed change, the public sector employees would still be paying a significantly lower percentage of these costs than are paid by similarly situated private employees.

Keep in mind, too, that the average teacher in a Wisconsin city Milwaukee including benefits — has a salary a total compensation in excess of $100,000:

This salary annual compensation package is one half the average sale price ($200,000) for a home in Madison, Wisconsin.  The average salary in Wisconsin overall is less than $60,000.  To summarize, Wisconsin teachers, who are state employees receiving their income from taxpayers, get higher pay and better benefits than many of their taxpayer employers.

Aside from the money issues, Gov. Walker proposes trimming union wings a bit, so that the unions lose some of their coercive power over their own members:

Walker’s budget removes the special privileges that give government unions their outsize influence. His plan allows workers to quit their union without losing their job. He requires unions to demonstrate their support through an annual secret-ballot vote. He also ends the unfair taxpayer subsidy to union fundraising: The state and local government would stop collecting union dues with their payroll systems.

In a dreadful economy, in a state with a huge debt load, you’d think that the public sector employees would be sanguine about the proposal.  After all, they get to keep their jobs, they get to keep their benefits, and they still have salaries and benefits that exceed those given to their taxpayer employees.  In addition, the unions that they are currently to which they are currently forced to belong would have to be run more fairly.

If you were looking for reasoned thought from unions, however, you’d be looking a long, long time.  The unions and their Democrat consigliores have gone absolutely ballistic.  The Democrat politicians have gone into hiding and the teachers have gone on the march.

With regard to the teacher protests, you’ve already heard about the illegal strike; the ill-informed and indoctrinated students dragged into the fray; the vile signs likening Walker to Hitler or Hussein or Mubarak, or placing gun sights on Walker’s face’ and the filth these protesters left in their wake.  What I’m more interested in is why the teachers?  Other public sector employees are also subject to these budget proposals, but it’s the teachers who are leading the way.

Part of the answer, of course, lies with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.  In a state in which the teachers’ union has been likened to the fourth branch of government, it was he who first made Americans aware of the way in which teacher’s unions, more than any other single employee group, are putting a pinch on state government coffers.  Suddenly, teachers aren’t the sweet-faced little ladies teaching Johnny and Janie to read.  Instead, they’re well-paid cogs benefiting from the union’s depredations.

Christie is always careful, in his speeches, to distinguish individual teachers from the unions themselves, and he’s right to do so.  It is the unions that are rapacious.  The teachers benefit, of course, from the union demands.  They’d be absolute idiots to say “No, I don’t want the salary you’re handing me; no, I don’t want the benefits that are coming my way; and, please, forget about that tenure that makes sure I’ll have a job forever.”  Each individual teacher knows that if he should decide unilaterally to be honorable and turn down the salary and benefits headed his way, it would change nothing.  The situation would continue the same, but he’d be poor.

The problem for teachers is that, having taken these benefits, they’re stuck with the consequences.  They’re stuck with the fact that, because of tenure, too many incompetent teachers occupying America’s classrooms, bringing the whole profession into disrepute.  And they’re stuck with the fact that the unions have stuck their collective bargaining noses in the curriculum, teaching information and values that offend their taxpayer employers.  And they’re stuck with the fact that ordinary taxpayers (and teachers are taxpayers too, but their numbers are small compared to the rest of America’s taxpayers), think that it’s obscene for someone to get paid twice their own salary, with much better benefits, for seven months work.

Oh, yeah!  Did I forget to mention that?  Most people work about eleven months of the year, with approximately one month off for official holidays and vacation.  Teachers, however, work on average seven months of the year, except that they make more money than those eleven-month workers do.

How did we get to this point with teachers?  I certainly remember a time when it wasn’t this way.  From about 1966 until 1987, my father was a public school teacher in a San Francisco Bay Area school district.  Those were not the glory days.  Our family lived only slightly above the poverty level.  We made ends meet only because, in addition to his teaching job, my father taught summer school and gave private lessons.  Eleven months a year, my father worked five to six days a week.  He left the house at 7:00 every day to teach school and returned home at around 10:30, after his private lessons ended.

The only good thing about my father’s job was the benefits.  He didn’t get life insurance, and he got a minuscule pension (about $5,000/year when he retired), but he got great medical and dental.  The dental was especially good:  if we had our teeth cleaned and checked twice a year, the insurance company would pay for all major dental procedures.  My parents, though, had to dig into their own pockets to get our crooked teeth straightened.

The whole situation stank.  There was a reason, though, for teachers’ lousy compensation.  Before women’s lib, the bulk of teacher’s were women.  Before women’s lib, you could therefore pay these female teachers a very low salary.  The thinking was that women who taught were wives and mothers who were bringing in a little extra.  They didn’t need a top salary because theirs was the second salary in a household.  (My mother, a draftswoman, was told precisely this back in 1958, when she learned that the man sitting at the table next to her, with the same training and job description, received twice her salary.)  That this wasn’t always the case — that the women was sometimes the primary or sole breadwinner — didn’t prevent it from being true often enough for the system to work fairly well in an era before women started realizing that the job itself, not their marital status, should determine the salary.

Incidentally, women’s lib also changed the caliber of teacher we see in today’s classroom.  In a pre-liberated era, one of the only jobs for bright, college-educated women, was teaching.  Classrooms therefore got a lot of teachers who would, by today’s standards, be considered over-educated.

I don’t say this to denigrate today’s teachers.  I know that most of them (and most are still female, although there are a fair number of men), are qualified for their jobs.  But the fact is that many of them don’t come from the top third of their own graduating classes.  When it comes to women, many in the top third now go to the cachet jobs:  doctors, lawyers, architects, investment bankers, etc.  This means that the current crop of teachers, with obvious and many exceptions, lacks the breadth of knowledge and education that characterized pre-women’s lib teachers.  What all this means is that we pay more now for teachers than we did a generation ago, but we get less educational bang for the buck.

The kind of starvation wages my father was paid were offensive.  Also, people realized that their children are in the teacher’s hands.  If they don’t get decent teachers, they don’t end up with decently educated children.  Ironically, it was the Leftists who argued most stridently what is an obvious free market principle:  if you don’t pay good salaries, you don’t get good workers.  Salaries for teachers had to go up.  It’s just that, as the unions gained more and more power, salaries went up disproportionately to the service being offered.  This fact wasn’t obvious during the flush times, but it sure is obvious now.

Worse, no matter how good the teachers, at precisely the same time that the unions were getting more demanding, people were noticing that their children were getting less educated.  Some of it, as I pointed out, was due to the change in educational level of those teaching.  Some, however, was due to the increased politicization of the classroom.  Educational colleges because less concerned with the Three Rs and infinitely more concerned with indoctrinating students.  Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic got swept away in ebonics, climate change, multiculturalism, identity politics, self-actualization and self-realization.  A six hour day just didn’t give enough time for everything, and academics suffered.

But no matter what, teachers’ unions clung to that moral high gr0und:  “It’s for the children!  Give us more money and, even though we won’t change the way in which we operate, we promise that we’ll produce a better product.”  After twenty plus years of being fooled, the taxpayers are finally wising up.

It’s this moral high ground, though, that sees the teachers in the forefront of the battle against Governor Walker.  No one is going to be sympathetic if the tax collections or auditors or motor vehicle employees rise up to fight the cuts.  It’s the teachers who have put themselves on the high moral pedestal, and it’s they who are falling furthest and fastest, although I don’t think they’ve quite realized either their speed or trajectory just yet.

The last thing I’ll say here, speaking directly to Gov. Walker and the Wisconsin Democrats, is a Margaret Thatcher quotation:  “This [is] no time to go wobbly.”  This is one of those turning points in a war.  It’s the public sector’s Gettysburg or Midway or Battle of the Bulge:  whoever wins this battle, wins the war.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

[Updated to add video with $100,000 compensation info.]

UPDATE:  Larry Kudlow gives some useful information that helps put all the numbers in context:

Wisconsin parents should go on strike against the teachers’ union. A friend e-mailed me to say that the graduation rate in Milwaukee public schools is 46 percent. The graduation rate for African-Americans in Milwaukee public schools is 34 percent. Shouldn’t somebody be protesting that?

Governor Walker is facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit, and he wants state workers to pay one-half of their pension costs and 12.6 percent of their health benefits. Currently, most state employees pay nothing for their pensions and virtually nothing for their health insurance. That’s an outrage.

Nationwide, state and local government unions have a 45 percent total-compensation advantage over their private-sector counterpart. With high-pay compensation and virtually no benefits co-pay, the politically arrogant unions are bankrupting America — which by some estimates is suffering from $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities.