Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Musings

It's Monday. Let's roll.

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Breitbart.com is doing a nice job rolling out Dan Savage, the liberal sex columnist cum activist for the bullied and oppressed. His ignorant, vulgar tirades against Christians had heretofore been largely confined to left-wing outlets, his accomplishments sufficiently granular that the mainstream media and politicians could broadly ignore him. The left could applaud him for saying the stuff

However, with bullying (for no real reason) entering the national discussion, Savage has suddenly taken on a higher-profile. His "It Gets Better" campaign is reaching millions of high school students, and the White House has used him in their effort to combat teen bullying.

Mitt Romney needs to make Obama own this guy. The beauty of doing so is, unlike the Bill Ayers' of the world, Savage won't play the dutiful servant. He already has a thousand megaphones at his disposal, and he will use them. Imagine a disheartened gay community forced to watch Obama deliver another Checkers speech, only this time throwing their political interests under the bus instead of his grandmother.

Make it happen, Mitt.

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A discussion with a friend yesterday about tuition and student loans triggered a thought. If left to their own devices, banks could tether student loan rates to a variety of factors, not least of which the relative demand for a field of study. In particular, it would discourage poorer students from acquiring degrees that saddle them with loans they cannot repay. Students might like the idea of double majoring in Sociology and Theater, but not enough to take a 13% loan to cover it.

Instead, they will be funneled into majors, such as computer science and chemistry, which have a better employment outlook. Not only will this help solve the problem of lacking workers to meet demand, it will improve the upward mobility of poorer (or at least lower middle-class) students.

It will also partially address the problem of loan default. Art History will certainly exist, but it will be affluent students majoring in it. The phenomenon of middling students majoring in the unemployable (the source of the vast majority of defaults) will begin to erode.

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Heather Mac Donald has a salient take on the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King riots. Of course, George Zimmerman case echoes the LAPD trial in many respects, not least of which the media's insistence of infusing a racial narrative and sensationalizing a story by omitting key facts.

In Zimmerman we have yet another defendant the black community has deemed guilty, but who is unlikely to be found so by any jury of his peers. We have outrage stoked by (literally) the same race hustlers who turned South Central into a pressure cooker in the early 1990s.

Only this time, the rioting is less likely to be centralized. Will our cities be prepared for a Zimmerman not-guilty verdict? Are the (primarily) liberal mayors of cities like Minneapolis even considering that such a verdict is a possibility?

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In response to a lawsuit filed by the Food-to-Consumer Legal defense fund on behalf of raw milk producers, the FDA writes:

"There is no generalized right to bodily and physical health."

Some points.

1) This should be the FDA's motto. It is certainly its ethos.
2) It is technically accurate, if absurd, considering the source.
3) It does not follow that government may evoke the interstate commerce clause to impinge upon bodily health. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose and all that.
4) The FDA's crusade against raw milk is insane.



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Went to 128 Cafe this weekend. The ribs are as good as advertised, crispy and moist at the same time. The space is charming. Portions are generous, so don't feel compelled to go whole hog.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Huntsman Leaving the GOP Matters a Lot to Jeff Greenfield

Or so thinks Jeff Greenfield... Granted, Greenfield is the guy who originated the role of Cable News Political Analyst Who Explains Pie Charts, but what is the point of this piece?

(for the uninitiated, Jon Huntsman is the former Utah Governor and Chinese Ambassador who came in, like, 13th in the Republican primary. He wore pink ties, weirdly referenced grunge music during the debates, wrote a needlessly flowery letter in Comic Sans to Barack Obama announcing his departure as ambassador, and was completely and utterly uninspiring).

It’s an exhilarating, if somewhat mystifying, experience to find yourself a supporting player in a modern media maelstrom.
Again. Jon Huntsman, the guy I needed to spend a paragraph describing so you would even have any idea what I'm talking about. No maelstrom. 
“My first thought was, this is what they do in China on party matters if you talk off script.”

Those words were spoken Sunday night by Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate, 
That sounds like him.  I remember a day when Republican front runners regularly compared their own party to communists. Reagan did it all the time. The GOP has changed, man.

Before dawn, websites were reporting the quote under headlines like “Huntsman compares GOP to Communist Party of China.”
 Totally unfair, the headline should have been "Huntsman discusses his thoughts on scripts."
For what it’s worth, I don’t think Huntsman was painting with a brush so broad as to compare the Republican Party with Communist China. For one thing, Huntsman is not yet under house arrest with his Internet access forbidden.
Which is why the analogy is utterly insane. Also, what is "mystifying" about any of this?

But here’s what the dust-up missed. If you take all of what he said to me over some 90 minutes, it is all but certain that John (sic) Huntsman is not going to be a Republican much longer.
His name is "Jon", not "John". You know you're irrelevant when prominent journalists can't be bothered to learn your name. 
(Huntsman was animated in scorning Republican candidates who called for a hard line on China or protective tariffs--notions that Romney has enthusiastically embraced.)
For the record, this is the only thing Huntsman seems to be animated about, and he's right to be, but it puts him firmly in the right of his party. The man makes no sense.
The real message he is carrying is that both parties--the “duopoly,” as he calls it--are paralyzed by polarization and inertia, and that the Republican Party in particular is pursuing an “unsustainable” course.
How can you be paralyzed by inertia? If you are paralyzed, how can you be on an "unsustainable" trajectory?
His distance from the party whose nomination he sought goes beyond tactics. When he recalled his first appearance on a debate stage with his rivals, he said he remembers thinking two thoughts. First: “The barriers to entry are very low.” Second: “In a nation of 315 million people ... is this the best we can do?”
Pretty much sums up my, and every other Republican's, opinion of you, sir. 
If he was including himself, this is a remarkable example of self-deprecation.
No it isn't. Tom Tancredo said the same thing about himself. If Huntsman wasn't including himself, it is a remarkable example of being utterly tone deaf, which he is, but he is also self-deprecating (hence, I hope, the pink ties). 

His understanding of the Asian-Pacific region surpasses that of any presidential candidate in history.
I seem to recall a relatively unheralded fellow named Richard Nixon running for the office at one point and time. Whatever became of him?

When he talks of his three urgent priorities for change—term limits, campaign finance reform, and congressional redistricting--you can detect a touch of naiveté. 
 And a healthy scoop of irrelevance.

Term limits have been a reality for years in California, where they have fed, not halted, a dysfunctional government.
I think term limits are stupid and frivolous, but saddling the concept with California's dysfunctional government is a wee tad unfair.

The charge of “sour grapes” or “sore loser” will not be far from the lips of many Republicans.
Yes it will. No Republican cares about Jon Huntsman.

Why does this add up to a conviction on my part that Huntsman has one foot out the door of the Republican Party, and is likely placing a bet on his belief that a third party will be increasingly attractive to the electorate, perhaps not this year, but by 2016?  
I dunno, because he keeps bitching about the two-party system, and especially his own party? Are you expecting a Pulitzer for this fit of prescience on your part?    

One reason is how he contrasted Republicans from Teddy Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower to Richard Nixon with the current party orthodoxy. Could Ronald Reagan be nominated today? I asked. “Likely, no,” he said.
We nominated the former governor of Massachusetts over the former governor of Utah... And a representative from Texas, and a former representative from Georgia... And the current governor of Texas... And Michelle Bachmann.

Also, Reagan wouldn't have been caught dead in a pink tie, and he did a movie with a monkey.

“Why do I get the feeling,” I asked him, “that if we have this conversation a couple of years from now, you will not be sitting here as a Republican?”

“Because,” he said with a smile, “you’re a good journalist.”
Huntsman handled that question with all the subtlety of a serial killer.

Flattery aside, the answer couldn’t have been clearer.

Literally. And Republicans knew he was going to pull this act a year ago. It was his campaign's raison d'etre That's why nobody voted for him. Well that, and no Republican really thought he'd be a good candidate. There was that.

Huntsman's great, though.