Friday, November 25, 2011

Cruising the Web

I hope all of you had a very happy Thanksgiving and are enjoying quality time with family and friends.

In case you still have time for indulging in reading about current events, here are some links.

What a surprise: conservative intellectuals aren't as impressed with Newt Gingrich's level of intelligence as he seems to be. Of course, comparing him to conservative intellectuals is a totally different picture than comparing him to politicians.
“The intellectual level of debate in the Senate and the House is very low, and it’s in that context that Gingrich comes off as more profound than he really is,” [Fred] Siegel said. “He is the tallest building in Wichita.”
That's certainly one way to think of him.

What is it about Herman Cain that gets him to make bigoted anti-Muslim statements in public?
During an appearance at a Christian theme park called The Holy Land Experience in Florida, Cain recycled an anecdote from his private life that had earned him a bout of bad press as recently as June.

A cancer survivor, Cain told of becoming worried about his prospects during chemotherapy when he discovered that one of the doctors was "Dr. Abdallah."

"I said to his physician assistant, I said, 'That sounds foreign--not that I had anything against foreign doctors--but it sounded too foreign," Cain told the audience according to a Yahoo News reporter who was allowed into the event. He said he grew even more concerned when the assistant told him the doctor was from Lebanon, prompting her to say, "Don't worry, Mr. Cain, he's a Christian from Lebanon."
I'm sorry, but that just isn't acceptable. I don't want a national leader who makes jokes about names sounding "too foreign." And the fact that Cain doesn't even realize how distasteful that sort of joke is quite revealing. One can be concerned about radical Islam without blanket smears against all immigrants with foreign-sounding or Muslim-sounding names.

How come we're not hearing round-the-clock stories about those villainous Rhode Island lawmakers who are reforming public-employee benefits? Oh, right - they're Democrats so they can't be, by definition, villainous.

For all the Democratic sturm und drang there is actually only the most minuscule evidence that there is discrimination against the unemployed going on among employers. But if the laws that the Democrats would like to pass to make employment a new protected class were passed, can you imagine the magnet that this would be for lawsuits?

William McGurn explains how government regulations are causing problems for soup kitchens and will mean less food for the poor and homeless.

Journalists at these debates have a quandary: should they spread out their time and questions evenly among all the candidates or concentrate on the front-runners. And who knows if today's front-runner is tomorrow's stuck-in-the-back-of-the-pack candidate.

Holman Jenkins explains
how Barack Obama makes Jimmy Carter's presidency look good.

Michael Barone examines
how the web and the debates may well have changed all the conventional wisdom about what it takes to run and win in the primaries. Money may no longer be as big a determiner as it has been in the past. And personal campaigning in Iowa may no longer be the way to vault to the head of the pack as it has previously been. If that were true, Rick Santorum would be in the top tier of candidates today, but all his personal campaigning there hasn't lighted the spark he hoped it would.
The old gatekeepers--local politicos, TV news, and newspapers--are increasingly bypassed. It's a more polarized politics, but also one that is more democratic and more open.
I much prefer a race in which debates and the new media are the determiners than just rewarding the guy who can appeal to fewer than a 100,000 Iowa voters. It's not ideal, but it's a step up.

Glenn Hubbard lays out ways
to cut government spending while raising revenue in a pro-growth approach. Unfortunately, we don't have the leadership to go forward with such plans.

Quin Hillyer goes on a rant against the idea that Newt Gingrich is the guy to take on Obama or that he is even the guy that Republicans should want to put out there.
Even on foreign policy, Gingrich can't make a coherent case that Obama will have any trouble exploding. In just a few weeks earlier this year, he shifted from being for military intervention in Libya to being against it, based entirely on which way the political winds seemed to be blowing.

And none of this even touches the megalomania of a man who used to write notes to himself describing himself as "definer of civilization, Teacher of the rules of civilization," - those are direct quotes - and who also would refer to himself, in the presence of other people, as a, quote, "world historical figure."
I can't disagree with any of that. The fact that he is now being viewed as a viable leader in the election is just mind-boggling to me. Particularly, if he is the choice of those who find Mitt Romney too weak-willed or inconsistent to be the conservative pick.

Philip Klein argues that the leadership of Romney and Gingrich in the GOP polls accompanied with the collapse of Cain and Perry's appeal demonstrates that Republican voters are not falling for the know-nothing, yet ideological, appeal of candidates like Christine O'Donnell or Sharron Angle that so appalled many in the media in 2010. However, there is a big difference between winning a primary in a low-turnout off-year senatorial primary election than in a high-stakes presidential primary.

The Washington Post editorial page
takes Obama to task for his lack of efforts on Iran: "The result is that President Obama is not even leading from behind on Iran; he is simply behind." The administration prefers half measures to real measures.

Here's an intriguing defense
against the accusation that gerrymandering is intensifying gridlock and partisan politics as well as incumbency protection.

Jim Geraghty points out that Obama doesn't have a compelling positive argument for why he should be reelected.
Undoubtedly Obama fans will argue that those of us who gripe that Obama spends too much time campaigning and fundraising and not enough time governing shouldn’t call on him to lay out his second-term plans. But therein lies the problem for Obama: why wait? How could Obama lay out some brilliant vision and then insist he couldn’t begin enacting it before January 2013? His only argument would be that he needs a Democratic House to enact the ideas — but the country experienced all-Democratic governance from January 2009 to January 2011 and decided it didn’t like that one bit in the midterms.

In other words, Obama has no compelling argument that his governance would dramatically improve in his second term. What you see is what you get. For America, our current circumstance is not “as good as it gets.” But in terms of what we’ve seen from our president . . . yes, this is as “good” as we’re going to get from him.