Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Judge Andrew Napolitano (until last night) hosted a show on the FOX Business Network called “Freedom Watch.”

Judge Napolitano’s perspective is that of a Libertarian. He espouses the principles of the Constitution and of individual liberty.

Courtesy of Left Coast Rebel, here is a 4-minute clip of his provocative style:

Judge Napolitano advocates “for the people” and warns of the dangers associated with Authoritarianism and big government.

Does he have a point? Here are some recent actions by our governmental agencies, people, and politics:

--“We can spell it any damn way we please.”

--“Michelle Antoinette” does have a certain cachet.

--“Pregnancy is a disease.”

--“Deception must be used.”

As Glenn Reynolds would say, “The country’s in the very best of hands.”

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012


The Denver Post ran a story today describing the lucrative benefits of supporting the Democratic Party. Political contributions by venture capitalists often reap vast rewards.

The Democratic Party implicitly assures its supporters they will “get more than the other guy.” As the article explains, that definitely works on the high end of the economic spectrum. But occasionally the party has to do something for its every-day supporters. Those folks need something more than just words.

When the Democratic Party engages in this kind of activity during an election year, it runs the risk of being characterized as “buying votes.” Its intention might be to simply reward loyalty, but its actions can cause controversy.

A recent example is the tweaking of the Affordable Care Act for the benefit of young women. The Democratic Party wants to give young women free contraceptive services. It might seem opportunistic in some ways, but it does let young American women know that the Democratic Party “has their back.”

On the down side, it causes some religious organizations to think that the Democratic Party is working against their interests. We see the inherent problem of providing political favoritism to individual groups: Rewarding one group might be offensive to another.

The Democratic Party leadership could have chosen to provide young women with free movie tickets, or free pet food, or maybe free cosmetics. They chose contraception as the way to go, and it might very well work out.

November will tell us if their efforts are successful.

UPDATE 3/2/2012:
Here's a quote from a Wall Street Journal editorial:

The fact that Democrats don't dare to accurately describe their own positions, or the regulations that they want to foist on everyone else, shows how extreme those positions and regulations really are.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Calling Tim Groseclose

Scott Johnson at Power Line has a column on Tim Groseclose and his book Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind. Mr. Groseclose conducts a study of media bias with a statistical rigor that is unusual in the social sciences.

Mr. Johnson’s column got me thinking about another fertile area for study by our social scientists. It is the field of negative advertising.

Complaining about negative ads has become a national pastime, and as our election season heats up, we are going to see an abundance of these spots. Now might be a good time to do a little in-depth study.

What needs to be studied? It’s the variation in tone. There are two distinctly different styles of negative advertisement: One informs us of the actions of the targeted individual. The other characterizes the intent of the individual.

Here is a post from the 2010 election cycle that compares the two styles. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know which style is more effective and also which political party tends to rely on a particular style?

My sense is that the style differences are being downplayed so that we can all take refuge in deploring the negativity. Even so, the style differences remain emotionally significant.

As a reference, keep in mind how the distinction between legal and illegal immigration tends to be obscured in journalism. Reporters conflate both classes of people together as “immigrants” even though the two groups are vastly different in outlook and life experience. (Oftentimes - dare I mention - a journalistic agenda is advanced with the technique.)

Is it possible that while “negative advertising” is being employed in disparate fashion, the two styles are being intentionally lumped together for political purpose?

The conflating of both styles of advertising can obscure a specific journalistic agenda. It can also allow apologists to proclaim, “Everybody does it.”

Is there something going on here?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Caucus!

Colorado’s Republican caucus was held last night (February 7). To me, it is like a pre-season game in the NFL: It sets you up for The Main Event.

Our 2012 caucus was less popular than the 2008 caucus. My precinct covers about 450 Republican voters. In 2008, we had over 30 people attend our caucus. This year there were sixteen. (I can remember a year when only four people attended!) Caucus attendance seems to be a proxy for the level of political energy in our electorate.

The purpose of the caucus is to provide direction for the county assembly coming up next month. The county assembly is where delegates will be chosen for the state assembly, which will in turn choose delegates for the national convention. The precinct caucus is where it all begins.

The caucus is also where a “sense of the Republican base” is taken. We participate in a non-binding straw poll to find out the popularity of the various candidates. At our precinct, eleven of us went for Romney, three went for Santorum, one person voted for Newt Gingrich, and one voted for Ron Paul.

The state results were not representative of our precinct. Of the 66,027 votes cast in Colorado, Santorum received 40% (26,614), Romney received 35% (23,012), Gingrich received 13% (8,445) and Paul received 12% (7,759).

The straw poll gives an idea of voter sentiment, but things can change. Our precinct elected two delegates to the county assembly, and those two delegates were supporters of Gingrich and Romney. Our primary alternate is a Santorum supporter. Depending on who actually attends the assembly, the basic motivations of those representing our precinct will differ.

At the county assembly, our delegates can vote for any candidate. They might vote for their personal favorite, or be swayed to vote for someone else. Nothing is final until the national convention.

All of this must drive Republican presidential candidates to distraction. Their campaigns take on the characteristics of a type of mating dance, where they work to gain political traction before running out of funds. They court us for our votes, knowing that not until those of us in the electorate enter the voting booth and pull a lever does all of this “count.”

THEREFORE, as a personal service (and in an attempt to give candidates insight into the Republican psyche), here is where I stand (currently):

--I don’t think Ron Paul should be our candidate for president. He is well-positioned as a principled legislator with a no-compromise set of values, and should remain a Congressional Representative from Texas.

--Rick Santorum has the unfortunate mantle of a Republican caricature. He leads with devotion to religious precepts, and does not have broad appeal in a secular America.

--Newt Gingrich has spent a life in politics, and comes across as inauthentic. This quality is personified by the use of Callista (his current wife) as a prop. You worry that she would appear disheveled in a stiff breeze, and it gives a Potemkinesque quality to Newt’s campaign.

--That leaves Mitt Romney. He has an edginess about him that is both appealing and concerning. He is unafraid of large and politically risky tasks, and seems to be genuinely interested in doing what is best for America. He has enjoyed success in his personal and professional life and projects a sense of being a winner (apologies to Charlie Sheen).

But here is the tie-breaker:

I am married to a Democrat. She has become disenchanted with our current president, and thinks Romney might very well receive her vote.  That is a strong incentive.

I’m for Mitt.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Economy, Stupid

One of the Six Themes of the Democratic Party is:

“Republicans are turning the economy into a catastrophe.”

With the current state of the American economy, you might think that would be a hard sell.

Think again.

Dan Henninger in The Wall Street Journal describes how president Obama is able to switch our focus with his yearning for “An Economy Built to Last.”

Michelle Obama lets us know how hard her husband has worked to get America “out of this mess.” She tells how (in spite of Republicans) “we’ve made some remarkable progress.”

Meanwhile, our press explains how distinctly out of touch Republicans are in dealing with economic problems. Republican candidate Newt Gingrich takes direct fire for his claim that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.”

I would note that at the time Mr. Gingrich made this claim, the most recent food stamp data was for October, 2011. During the eight years of the Bush presidency, 14.7 million people had been put on food stamps. During the 33 months of the Obama presidency (through October, 2011) only an additional 14.2 million had been put on food stamps. (Note that Obama’s 14.2 million is less than Bush’s 14.7 million.)

While the number is growing, and the rate of increase during the Obama presidency is more than twice that of president Bush, the statement was technically false at the time it was made (January 16, 2012) based on the published October data. Mr. Gingrich can hope to be exonerated when the January data finally become available.

You might think all of this is “splitting hairs,” but watch the Reverend Al Sharpton use this circumstance to political advantage.

Really, just watch it. This is politics in America:

The Democratic Party theme is that “Republicans are turning the economy into a catastrophe.” With enough repetition, it becomes fact.

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