Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. One of my favorite Psalms is 127. It ends:
Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has
his quiver full of them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
The imagery is powerful and states an obvious truth: that our children are precious gifts from God. Sons as defenses from enemies at the gate has often been literally true throughout history and will likely be true again in the future.
A friend of mine recently died. He had led a somewhat rough life, had battled personal demons, and financial success had eluded him. However he was a hard worker and a skilled craftsmen, I hired him frequently to do work for me, and he did his best to be a good father. He had a great sense of humor and over the years he had helped quite a few people and organizations in my town. His extended family was big and brawling, often fighting each other, but always with an underlying love and care for each other. He died of a massive heart attack while working. He left a teenage daughter and debts, and that is about all. His large extended family rallied around the daughter and arrangements were made for her care by the family. His family completed the jobs that he had not been able to complete before his death. His funeral Mass was the best attended I can recall in our town and the atmosphere of grief, love and good humor was a great comfort to all. A life well led because the deceased, with all the mistakes he had made, always put his family first and did his best to help others. Continue reading
The narrative game has begun. One of the major memes we can expect to hear now that the GOP lost the presidential race is that “extremism” is to blame. Many of us know that it was absurd to label Mitt Romney “extreme” on anything. Even those on the other side willing to concede this point will say something like “the GOP is being held hostage by the extreme right” and “the Tea Party is to blame for the GOP defeat.” This is all, of course, complete nonsense, but many Republicans will buy it.
I honestly don’t know if it is possible to isolate and eliminate the factors that are ultimately responsible for Barack Obama’s reelection and Mitt Romney’s crushing defeat last night. What I do know is this: in 2004, President Bush was said to have won primarily because of a surge of evangelical voters who stormed the polls to defeat gay marriage initiatives in key swing states. Last night, voters approved gay marriage in three states and defeated two GOP Senate candidates because of remarks they made to the media about rape and abortion. Neither “extremism” in general or the “Tea Party” is to blame; commentators have been quick to point out that Akin was not a Tea Party choice and that perfectly moderate Republicans such as Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin went down in defeat last night.
Mark Gordon at Vox Nova explains why he is voting for neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney.
For my part, I won’t be voting for either Obama or Romney because both promise to pursue policies that violate my understanding of fundamental Catholic teaching. To invest my democratic franchise in either would, in my opinion, be an abrogation of my first responsibility, which is to to witness to the Gospel in all its dimensions. For me, there can be no disjunction between the two. To permit any other allegiance, identity, issue or ideology to trump the Gospel – even temporarily or provisionally – is, again in my opinion – a form of idolatry. Christian discipleship must be marked first of all by an unyielding evangelical integrity: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness …” (Matthew 6:6). And just as I would hope not to choose a “lesser” evil in my personal or business life, neither can I do so as a citizen. As I’ve often written here, when you choose the lesser of two evils, you still get evil. Christians shouldn’t be in the business of choosing evil.
Such is his right, and if he genuinely believes that voting for either candidate would involve cooperation with evil, then the choice is understandable and perhaps commendable. The problem with Mark’s analysis is that only one candidate affirms positions that are clearly in opposition to dogmatic Church teaching. Continue reading
Mitt Romney speaking last night before a crowd of 30,000 in West Chester, Ohio. Obama made his charming and unifying “voting is the best revenge” remark before a crowd of 4,000 yesterday in Springfield, Ohio.
The election is almost upon us, and many of us have made up our minds as to whom we are going to vote for, or whether we will even bother to vote at all. On the slight chance that someone from the ever-shrinking pool of undecided voters in a critical county in a vital swing state stumbles upon this blog post, the even less likely chance that they are Catholic, and the even less likely chance that their Catholic faith informs their political conscience, I’ll make one last appeal for a GOP vote.
I say a GOP vote, and not a Romney vote, because a) the most important issue at stake in this election really only depends upon which party, not individual man, is in power, and b) many people on the fence probably aren’t very enthused about Romney the man. I’ll admit that even as someone who has made up his mind, I am still not enthused. Granted, Romney isn’t as awful as many of us imagined him to be before he took Obama to the woodshed in the first presidential debate, it still isn’t easy to joyfully rally to his banner. He lacks the consistency and commitment to principle of the enigmatic Ron Paul, a pretty old guy who manages to get thousands of modern American 20-somethings to care about things other than themselves, which is nothing short of miraculous in its own right. Still, he has emerged as a capable enough candidate for the highest office in the land. But let’s return to the issues.
Superstorm Sandy has largely passed my area by, and Pepco has been spared another round of calamitous outages. Luckily for you that means I get to write a post digging deep into presidential election statistics.
Though the election polls have produced differing results, a general consensus has seemingly emerged. Mitt Romney is, at worst, tied with President Obama, and has upwards of a five-point lead. The Real Clear average of polls puts Romney up by less than a point. On the other hand, RCP has Obama up 201-191 in the electoral college, with a 290-248 edge in the “no toss-up” scenario. Obama has held a consistent edge in the battleground state of Ohio, though Rasmussen’s most recent poll now has Romney up by two.
In general, I agree with Jim Geraghty that it appears almost certain that Mitt Romney will win the popular vote. It takes polls with rather generous Democrat advantages (in the range of D+7 and up) to even get Obama tied. I trust Gallup’s likely voter screen more than other polls, and Gallup has had Romney with a steady advantage of three-to-five points.
It’s certainly possible that Mitt Romney could win the popular vote and lose the electoral college. It has happened to several presidential candidates in our history, and we are all familiar with what took place in 2000. What is fairly unlikely, however, is for Mitt Romney to win the popular vote by a substantial margin and still lose the electoral college. If Mitt Romney wins the popular vote by more than even just a percentage point, than he will be the next President of the United States. Of course we can never be certain in politics, but it seems like a safe bet that the electoral and popular vote winner will the the same person.
One of the reasons that an Obama electoral college victory in the face of a popular vote defeat is unlikely is that massive swings in national vote totals are reflected in all states. President Obama won the popular vote by seven percent over John McCain in 2008. Assume for the moment that Mitt Romney wins by just one percent – that would signify an eight point swing in favor of the Republicans. Such a huge shift in the electorate is not going to be limited to a small number of states. And as history has shown, when the incumbent party loses support, it loses support everywhere.
I have taken a look at each presidential election since 1976. Since that election, the incumbent has lost twice, the incumbent party has lost two additional times, the incumbent has won three times, and one time the incumbent party has won once. In all but two of the elections since 1980 there has been a net shift of at least eight percent. Let’s take a closer look: Continue reading
Thank the Good Lord I am not a politician. If I were running for office, what I am about to write would undoubtedly cause me to plummet in the polls and induce a heart attack for my campaign manager. It is up to us – bloggers, polemicists, wags, editorialists, etc. – to say plainly and boldly what politicians cannot say. By now hundreds if not thousands of us on the pro-life side of the spectrum have weighed in on the mountain that the Obama campaign and the leftist media have made out of the molehill of the “rape exception” that many self-identified pro-lifers hold. FYI: it is a molehill not because rape is no big deal, but because less than 1% of abortions are performed on rape babies. I don’t know if what I have to say will be different from what you have read, but I’m about to douse this issue in gasoline and light a match, so check yourselves now.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney appeared tonight at the Al Smith Dinner and gave the usual humorous speeches. A few observations:
1. Romney the Standup Comic-I was surprised at how well Romney did. Comedy and Mitt Romney would seem to be mutually exclusive concepts, but he had good timing and delivered an effective series of jokes. Funniest joke: A reference to the Cardinal, because of Obama’s troubles with the Church, turning Obama’s wine into water.
2. Flat Obama-Four years ago I praised Obama’s speech at the Al Smith dinner as being hilarious. Not this year. Most of his jokes fell flat and he seemed to be going through the motions. Funniest joke: He said at one point that for the third debate he was going to train as he did for the first debate. Pause. He then said that he was just kidding, that he only wanted to make Axelrod sweat.
3. These Guys Really Hate Each Other-Both Romney and Obama at the end of their speeches gave unfelt praise to the other. Their other comments dripped venom for their opponent, especially Romney’s comments. No love lost here at all.
4. Romney on the Attack-The usual humor at an Al Smith dinner is self-depracatory. Romney had a bit of this but most of his humorous comments were fairly hard hitting attacks against Obama.
5. The War on the Church-Romney was not shy in mentioning Obama’s attacks on the Church. He joked that Obama has found a way to soften the attitude of the Church to the HHS Mandate: the rules will be in Latin. Continue reading
I was a little disappointed to see some mainstream conservative pundits declare Obama the victory of the debate “on points.”
Obama, to his credit, performed much better this time around. He kept pace with Romney and landed a number of critical blows. He came out ahead on the Benghazi exchange, though as other pundits noted, the story tomorrow may not look so good for him. But I don’t think Obama can be declared the winner of the debate.
Each issue ranks differently on the list of importance for voters. I think many of us would agree that the economy is by far the most important issue for most voters, including the undecided voters who were present at the debate and in the post-debate focus groups. Given this, it follows that winning an exchange during the debate on the economy ought to be weighted more heavily than winning an exchange over other issues. Of course almost all issues can be related back to the economy, but some are more “purely” economic than others.
On those issues, I thought Romney emerged the clear victor. I think he presented himself as someone with a superior working knowledge of business and economics, and probably inspired more confidence in his ability to handle the nation’s economic problems than the President. Double Romney’s points for every answer that created the impression that he knows more about economics than Obama, and he becomes the clear winner of the debate.
I may just sleep through the foreign policy debate, though. My regular readers know why. I’m a Paulbot anti-American isolationist! No one represents my views. Oh well.
I posted debate advice for Mitt Romney prior to the first debate which may be read here. My advice for round two is as follows:
1. Don’t Get Cocky-You had an exceptionally good first debate. Enjoy it and forget it. That was round one of a three round fight, and who is left standing at the end of the third round is how you determine the victor.
2. Don’t Sit on a Lead- That is what Obama tried to do in round one and it was a disaster. Don’t make that elementary mistake.
3. This is a Townhall Meeting-We have Joe and Jane Citizens asking the questions and that is a challenge. The media is predictable, ordinary citizens are not. Listen closely to the questions and answer them. Ignoring questions at a townhall can be ruinous, especially if they are inane.
4. Aggressive Obama-After his fairly passive performance at the last debate, Obama will probably come out full of fight. That can work to your advantage at a townhall if Obama comes across as over the top before a live audience. After the Biden debacle I think he will probably avoid this, but don’t be surprised if he has flashes of temper and be ready to capitalize on them.
5. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs-You can bet that almost every person in that townhall will have a friend or relative who is either unemployed or underemployed. Pledge to turn the economy around and put America be back to work. Be detailed as much as time allows. People were impressed the first go round at your breadth of knowledge and your ideas. Play off of those strengths. Continue reading
Back in graduate school a professor of mine discussed the 1984 campaign. One of the national nightly news telecasts (I believe it was ABC) ran a segment basically running down the Reagan economy. It was one of those voiceover features that had a lot of stock footage of Reagan in various places: the Rockies, Mount Rushmore, and other locations featuring Reagan speaking. It was meant to be a devastating piece, but one of the members of Reagan’s campaign team called ABC afterwards and thanked them for the feature. Why? Because the visuals were all of Reagan in these fabulous settings, and in a visual world what appears on screen often trumps the content of the spoken word behind it.
That all crossed my mind when I saw this Barack Obama ad attacking Mitt Romney. Watch this video with the sound down first:
The content of course is absurd. “Partisan experts on our payroll say that Mitt Romney will raise taxes on the middle class to pay for the tax cut for the rich he’s not proposing.” Whatever. It’s par for the course for the Obama administration, and it’s an attack that is resonating less and less each day.
What struck me were the visuals. It shows an authoritative Mitt Romney at the debate. He’s talking in what appears to be a very passionate and confident manner. Meanwhile, President Obama is nodding along with his head down. It just seems like such a bizarre image to portray to the electorate. It’s an almost submissive, timid looking Obama being lectured by Mitt Romney. Considering how people drown out the content of these ads, it’s a visual that essentially reaffirms the post-debate sentiment that Mitt Romney took Barack Obama to school. No matter what was actually said in the ad, the voter is left with a visual image of a beaten-looking president being shown up by an energetic challenger.
Obama may have had a very successful fundraising month, but he might want to reconsider how is money is being used.
Update: Just saw this from Aaron Goldstein where he also ponders why Obama keeps running ads that seem to help Romney.
A couple of posts at Breitbart’s “Big Government” site have resulted in thousands of comments and intense debate between libertarians and conservatives, and between libertarians themselves over the merits of supporting a third-party/independent alternative to Mitt Romney. Having been involved in third-party politics myself at one point in my life, I am sympathetic to the cause. But given the stakes this November, I’ve decided to hold my nose and vote for Romney, as I’ve already posted here at TAC.
I must say, however, in response Kurt Schlichter (the author of the aforelinked pieces) that I regard this as a highly personal choice, and not one that I am willing to guilt others into making. On many of the issues that matter to me and other Ron Paul supporters, Romney is absolutely abysmal and nearly indistinguishable from Obama, whether we are talking about civil liberties, constitutional protection of the lives of American citizens (even the bad ones), foreign policy, monetary policy, and a host of related issues. Those who prioritize such issues cannot be expected to give Romney their vote. There was also the disgraceful treatment of Ron Paul and his delegates by the GOP at the RNC this year. Schlichter would have us basically forget all about it.
With that said, however, when Ron Paul stopped actively campaigning for the GOP nomination, his candidacy in effect came to an end. There certainly is something bizarre about a pledge to vote for a man who by the looks of things would like to settle into a well-deserved, hard-earned retirement from public life. I always suspected that Paul didn’t really want to be president. Some see this as a positive trait, and it can be in certain contexts, but men also need leaders. If that makes me sound fascistic, so be it. Human nature is what it is.
So people who accept the reality that Paul is unable or unwilling to capture the nomination and the Presidency are then faced with other options. I’ve explained my choice, but many others are considering Gary Johnson, and Schlichter is addressing them as well (as well as Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party candidate’s supporters). Aside from the fact that Johnson is pro-choice and therefore unsupportable for Catholics, I don’t begrudge anyone the right to support either of these men as an alternative to Romney.
I agree with the President. So long as he is President nothing will change from the disaster he served up in his first term. More of the Same is the real Obama campaign slogan.
Romney saw his opportunity from Obama’s unitentional lapse into truth:
1. A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
2. The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled. The assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.
3. I accuse the present Administration of being the greatest spending Administration in peacetime in all American history – one which piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission, and has failed to anticipate the dire needs or reduced earning power of the people. Bureaus and bureaucrats have been retained at the expense of the taxpayer. We are spending altogether too much money for government services which are neither practical nor necessary. In addition to this, we are attempting too many functions and we need a simplification of what the Federal government is giving the people.
4. Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.
5. It is an injustice, a grave evil and a disturbance of the right order, for a larger and higher organisation, to arrogate to itself functions which can be performed efficiently by smaller and lower bodies. Continue reading
Mitt Romney being interviewed in regard to the 47% remark by Neil Cavuto yesterday. (Go here to read Darwin’s brilliant post on the 47% controversy.) I have never been a fan of Mitt Romney, who I have nicknamed the Weathervane. I have always planned to vote for him, but almost entirely in order to get Obama out; Mitt Romney becoming President being merely a necessary by-product of ending the Age of Obama. However, I found this interview impressive. Romney ably presented his view that ever-increasing dependence on government is a terrible thing and is a result of the miserable failure of Obama’s economic policies. Romney is taking what is widely assumed by
the Obama press agents the Mainstream Media and turning it around by standing his ground. People tend to admire politicians who have convictions they are willing to fight for, even if they do not entirely share the convictions themselves. The rap against Romney has always been that he has no such convictions, nothing that he is willing to do battle for. This is Romney’s opportunity to demonstrate that he does have core beliefs that he will defend, no matter what the chattering heads on television say. Not bad Mitt.
It seems like leftist pundits have decided that remarks by Romney at a fundraiser that were secretly taped and distributed by Mother Jones constitute the latest “now Romney has lost the election” moment. In the video, Romney tells supporters that Obama starts out with a huge base of 47-49% of voters who pay no income taxes, are dependent on government, and thus cannot be reached by Romney’s low tax message.
Of course, for those whose memories go back further than the most recent “Romney is finished” moment declared by Andrew Sullivan and Co., the obvious comparison to this is when Obama famously announced back in 2008 that the big difficulty for his campaign was that it was difficult to reach people who are see no evidence of progress in their daily lives and so they become bitter and cling to their guns and their religion.
Both comments spring from a degree of party mythology. It’s not the case that all 47% of people who don’t pay income taxes are Democrat supporters. Because our tax code is so progressive and because of the hefty child tax credit and earned income tax credit (both of which are things Republicans generally support) a lot of middle income families do not pay taxes. That certainly doesn’t make them default Obama supporters. Many of them are in fact die-hard Republicans, because they don’t participate in the modern Democratic Party’s vision of government dependence and social engineering as the solution to their problems.
That said, I think this particular media tizzy is particularly silly, and the pundits declaring Romney to be badly hurt by this are mostly reflecting the beliefs of a bubble in which the GOP is already hated.
Obama’s remarks were, if anything, far more offensive to potential swing voters. He categorized whole sections of the country, demographically, as being given over to bitterness because they hadn’t seen progress and explained that this bitterness came out in their becoming attached to guns, religion, hating minorities and immigrants, etc. There are a lot of small town people who like to hunt and go to church and don’t think of themselves as racist who nonetheless were potential Obama swing voters in 2008.
By contrast, Romney’s analysis may be off (and I don’t think that does him any credit) but it’s really hard for me, at least, to picture someone saying, “Gee, I was really thinking Romney might have some answers on the economy, but now I heard this clip where he says that people who don’t pay taxes and want to be dependent on the government are in the bag for Obama, and I’m proud of the fact that I don’t pay taxes and depend on the government, so forget about him! I’m supporting Obama.”
A lot of people who don’t, on net, pay taxes don’t really think of themselves as not paying taxes. The tax code is complex enough to make it tricky to tell in some ways. (And they pay other taxes even if they don’t pay federal income tax.) Nor do many people who are potential GOP voters think of themselves as dependent on government. If anything, the argument that Obama already has a huge advantage because he’s bribing voters with lots of government handouts seems to fit with Romney’s overall campaign message. Whether that’s a winning message I don’t know (I hope it is) but it’s hard for me to see how this is actually all that damaging.
William Saletan is a Leftist who writes a political column for Slate. His prescience at predicting the future was amply demonstrated on September 14, 2000 when, based on then current polls, he stated that the election was over and Gore was a sure winner. Go here to read that masterpiece of prognostication. Now he has a piece attacking Romney for standing up for American freedom of speech as opposed to the craven apology for our freedom issued by the Cairo embassy. Christopher Johnson, a Protestant who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, gives Saletan a fisking to remember at Midwest Conservative Journal:
to Slate’s William Saletan, freely expressing your opinion can be an abuse of your right to freely express your opinion:
Mitt Romney says the U.S. Embassy in Cairo has betrayed “American values.” He’s wrong. The embassy is standing for American values. It’s Romney who’s betraying them.
How’s that, Sally?
The fight began brewing Tuesday morning as Egyptian protesters gathered outside the embassy. They were furious at a sophomoric American-made movie that ridiculed the prophet Mohammed. In response, the embassy issued a statement saying that it “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” The statement added: “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
Quick observation. If the universal right of free speech can be “abused,” then the universal right of free speech is not universal at all but has definite limits. Saletan most emphatically agrees.
When you read the tweets alongside the initial statement, the message is clear. Free speech is a universal right. The Muslim-baiting movie is an abuse of that right. The embassy rejects the movie but defends free speech and condemns the invasion of its compound.
You keep using the word “universal,” Sally. I do not think that word means what you think it means.
At his press conference, Romney accused Obama of “having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech.” Romney claimed that the embassy had said, in his paraphrase, “We stand by our comments that suggest that there’s something wrong with the right of free speech.” This, too, was a Romney lie. The embassy had declared five times in writing that free speech was a universal right.
In other words, everyone has, or should have, the right to free speech. But there are some things that you shouldn’t be allowed to say.
What made Romney’s statement and press conference disturbing, however, was his repeated use of the words sympathize and apology to conflate three issues the Cairo embassy had carefully separated: bigotry, free speech, and violence. The embassy had stipulated that expressions of bigotry, while wrong, were protected by freedom of speech and didn’t warrant retaliatory violence.
Then why did the embassy grovelingly apologize for them?
Romney, by accusing the embassy of “sympathizing with those who had breached” the compound, equated moral criticism of the Mohammed movie with support for violence. In so doing, Romney embraced the illiberal Islamist mindset that led to the embassy invasion: To declare a movie offensive is to authorize its suppression.
Um..what?!! Project much, Sally? It was the embassy that declared that movie “offensive,” idiot. Why else would they have apologized for it and prattled on about some alleged hurt feelings Muslims may or may not have actually had?
“The Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles,” Romney asserted at the press conference. “It’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. … An apology for America’s values is never the right course.” Lest anyone miss his buzzwords, Romney called the embassy’s comments “a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.”
One of the foremost of which is basically unrestricted freedom of speech.
What, exactly, does Romney mean by “American values”? The embassy never apologized for free speech or diplomatic sovereignty. The only American offense it criticized was the movie’s “bigotry” and “efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” Does Romney regard this criticism as an “apology for American values”? Is bigotry an American value? Is it weak or un-American to repudiate slurs against Muslims?
National Review will have none of “yes, but” attitudes like Sally’s.
Nobody in the U.S. government, least of all the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acting in his official capacity, should be calling Terry Jones or any other American citizen about the Mohammed spoof. Not only does that elevate Jones to some sort of semi-official status, but spoofs of deities are entirely within our rights and absolutely no business of the government’s. The U.S. government should not be taking an official position on the Mohammed spoof. It is entirely outside the official competence of United States military to be calling private citizens asking them be quiet, especially when they are exercising a constitutional right. Offending people is not an incitement to violence. Otherwise I could get everyone who wears a Che Guevara t-shirt brought up on charges of incitement.
Do I enjoy it when some work of “art,” some movie or some television show blasphemes Jesus Christ or insults and belittles Christians? Of course not. But unlike adherents of the Islamic religion, I’ve figured out a civilized way to deal with it. I simply don’t patronize or stop patronizing those businesses who produce or support such works.
Conversely, if a work of art exalts Christ or displays Christians as they truly are, that work of art, whatever it is, will receive whatever support I can give it. So what William Saletan is essentially saying here is that speech should be suppressed if someone anywhere is angry enough about that speech to kill people and burn things.
Saletan’s mindset basiclly gives the savages editorial control over all forms of expression everywhere which means that my opinions must perfectly accord with theirs or my expression of my opinion is an “abuse” of free speech. I don’t know if Saletan realizes this or not but that is precisely why so many of us made a point of patronizing Chick-fil-A’s during that recent controversy. Continue reading