2010 WTF #1

So Big Government contributor and ACORN-stinger James O’Keefe has been arrested for – allegedly – conspiring to do something to the phone likes at Democratic LA Sen Landreau’s office.

Young, suicidally aggressive, and incarcerated is no way to go through life, James.

There’s no excuse, bummer for him, and if true it may well be that he’ll enjoy penal food for a bit (start eating bologna sandwiches now, acquire the taste for them).

The usual progressive subjects are leaping in the air and waving flags, claiming that this – somehow – devalues the videos he took at ACORN.

Hint: no it doesn’t.

My favorite line was from ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan:

“ACORN’s leadership and grassroots leaders have taken a whole series of steps, including commissioning an independent report that shows actually there wasn’t illegal conduct by any of the ACORN employees involved, although we fired people involved for improper conduct,” Whelan said.

So it was improper, but not illegal, and therefore OK…right, then, move along.

Obama And The Competence Gap

Greg Sargeant says something that crystallized my thinking about the state of the Administration today.

The question is whether Dem leaders will decide they’re tanking because voters don’t like the health reform bill they’ve been trying to pass, making them decide to shelve it – or whether they’ll conclude that voters don’t like failure, making them redouble their efforts to pass something they can call a historic accomplishment. Anyone taking bets?

The issue from my POV is that what attracted many of us to Obama was the competence that his campaign displayed. He was on message, unflappable, his campaign consultants weren’t eating their young on national TV and I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone – even those whose eyes cross with rage at his politics – believed he had a handle on things. So even if you disagreed somewhat with his politics or policies, you had comfort that the nation would be well-run.

For me it was a combination of that and a belief that his core values (government should help the powerless and keep the powerful in check) were balanced by a novel perspective for a liberal (part of the problem is that government itself has become too powerful and needs to be kept in check).

That’s what I read into the speeches and policy papers.

The problem, as I see it, is that in his first year he’s shown very little domestic competence (I think foreign affairs are a separate matter), and that he either never believed in the “new^2 liberalism” or got completely stuffed by the interest groups and their Congressional sponsors.

So the question is “now what?”

In foreign policy, I think he’s done some things right, some things wrong; I think we’re drawing down in Iraq too soon, and I worry (a lot) about making Afghanistan the centerpiece of our battle against violent Islam worldwide.

I think he’s taken the conciliatory road, bowing (literally, sometimes) to foreign leaders in the hopes that the anti-Bush rhetoric was right, and that the problem was just that we were mean.

He’s discovering – and Hillary is voicing – that that’s not the case, and that we need to be more forceful in our speech and acts.

That’s a really good thing, and exactly what I’d hoped for in supporting him – that he’d be conciliatory and either a) it would work; or b) it wouldn’t and then the commentariat and the non-shackled swing voters would follow him down either path.

So now the question is – having been slapped internationally and pivoting toward a more assertive national role – what will he do having been slapped domestically?

My hope, obviously, is for the Obama that I voted for and supported – one with liberal ends and novel means. That Obama can still be a terrific President – even a terrific two-term President.

The Obama we’ve seen so far – the one opening the interest-group buffet – won’t be.

We All Need Help Sometime – Gary Farber Needs It Today

Take a moment, and look at your surroundings. Most of us – many of us – are blessed with a rich mixture of friends, family, some measure of financial security, and health.

Those may vary widely; I’m nowhere near financially rich (trust me – the projects I was counting on for December fell apart – and I committed the cardinal sin of all consultants, which was to assume that the ‘about to happen’ project was the same as a ‘happening’ project), but I’m blessed with family, and colleagues, and friends – many of whom I have made thanks to blogging. So when I get a day when I feel like I’m living the blues, it’s not long before someone does something that reminds me of how lucky I really am.

I need more business, and I need to get serious about working out, and Littlest Guy once again repeated that he plans to get into Stanford, but those are “high class” problems. I will get more business, I can work out, and I’m blessed with three amazing sons, who I’m happy to do what’s necessary for.

Blogger Gary Farber, of Amygdala isn’t.

And he’s hitting a crisis point as his disability claim has been denied, meaning he can’t get assistance with his healthcare or his finances. He’s written a scaldingly honest post about it, and he’s asking us for help – yes, I know he’s needed it before.

But I just tossed another $25 in the pot, and encourage others to do the same thing. We’ll watch a streaming Netflix movie this weekend instead of going out.

Look, it’s a complicated thing. There are a lot of voices calling out for support right now. But I’ll suggest, strongly, that generosity (not grandiose generosity, but small, frequent acts) is something that I know is central to my values. If you have enjoyed his work over the years (and he’s put the work into his blog), it might not even be generosity. You might just be paying him for the thinking he’s made you do.

Trijicon To Stop With The Bible-Verse Thing

From commenter Drogo Bunce, the Detroit News tells us:

The Wixom company under fire for putting tiny references to Bible verses on gun sights sold to the U.S. military, announced today it will drop the inscriptions on future arms shipments and offer kits to help the military remove codes on sights in the hands of troops.

Trijicon Inc., responding to an uproar in the United States and abroad, said it has voluntarily decided to drop the inscriptions on all of its products made for the Defense Department. It will also supply the Pentagon with 100 “modification kits” to allow for the removal of the codes.

What’s On Your Shelves??

I just switched to a Droid, which meant my old Blackberry was sitting forlornly on the shelf along with all it’s accessories.

So I put it up for sale on my local email lists, with the proviso that whoever gave $150 to Team Rubicon would get it.

Team Rubicon is a group of nurses, medics, and doctors who have flown to Haiti on their own dime to offer emergency medical aid. Blackfive told me about them (speaking of B5 – we’ll do a post on how to support him – he’s in a primary on Feb 2nd!!).

What’s on your shelf?

What Torture Is – And Isn’t.

I’ve made no bones about my stance on torture – it’s bad. See this post, for example.

And then today I was flooded with links to this CNN dialog about torture, where Christine Amanpour and Phillipe Sands hammer author Marc Thiessen on the issue:

…and frankly, I’m appalled at Sands and Amanpour.

The idea that what we call ‘waterboarding’ – where a cloth is placed over someone’s face, and water poured over the cloth to give the sensation of drowning – is comparable to actually handcuffing someone with their head underwater (which usually leads to actual drowning) as was done by the Khmer Rouge is factually wrong, deeply offensive, and unhelpful to the very real debate of what the rules ought to be.

There’s a real debate over what the treatment of captured non-American resident terrorists ought to be (note that American residents ought to be entitled to the protections of American law as they are prosecuted for treason). Clearly real torture is Right Out, as should be a Chicago 7-style trial by farce.

Having the commentariat confuse harsh treatment (which I’d certainly say our version of waterboarding is) with torture (which the Khmer Rouge version certainly is) doesn’t remotely help that discussion, and doesn’t remotely add to their credibility – such as it is.