Quick Roundup 287

Friday, January 04, 2008

Miles Away

I received the soundtrack to The Big Lebowski for Christmas and when I heard the following song, it made me miss my wife. (Warning: The video clip may not be work-safe.)

She's been out of town since Wednesday afternoon, and comes back only briefly this Sunday. We get to do this for a whole month!

Miss you, sweetie!

Iowa, Shmiowa

I will stand by my earlier comment about the results of Iowa not being that accurate until and unless I am proven otherwise by actual polls. Oh yeah. And probably, yesterday's results won't amount to a hill of beans in the long run.

Whatever importance Iowa has would, I think, be as a reflection of the strength of a candidate's organization, his personal charisma, and his appeal to the fringe constituencies of his party.

(For once, I find myself wishing I used "he/she" or "their" rather than generic "he", for the above sentence would have been a great indirect way to say that whatever charisma Clinton has belongs to her husband!)

Having said that, I found two pre-caucus columns yesterday that those who like political handicapping will enjoy: Chuck Todd's "Get Your Post-Caucus Spin Now", and Dick Morris's "Eyes on Iowa: What They Need". I agree that Huckabee needed the win to have a hope of mounting a viable candidacy at all and that Obama needed his win to become a more credible threat to Clinton. Both of these candidates appeal to an irrational, emotionalistic base, which makes the morale boost of a victory count a lot more than for most other candidates. So to the degree that Iowa matters, the worst possible people to win it -- in terms of what they'd be like as President -- in each party won.

Beyond that, I think Myrhaf is spot-on.

Confusion on the Right

And speaking of Myrhaf, I like his analysis of the state of the conservative movement, especially his final two paragraphs:
All the fissures and confusion come down to the contradiction on the right that only Ayn Rand understood 50 years ago: capitalism and the morality of altruism are incompatible. You cannot integrate and defend a social system based on the self-interest of the individual with a morality that upholds self-sacrifice as an ideal. When conservatives are forced to choose between capitalism and their morality, they go with their morality every time. And so the state continues to get bigger and bigger and freedom becomes a distant memory.

As an Objectivist, and politically a radical for capitalism, I'm delighted to see conservatism give up its pretense of being for the free market and individual rights. The more clarity Americans have about the nature of conservatism, the more they are likely to look for an alternative. I would suggest they start looking here. [bold added]
Yes. The silver lining of the trend he comments on is that it will remove lots of confusion from the public debate. Things will get worse before they get better, but at least in doing so, it will be easier for those of us who know what's going on to make them better.

Chump Change in Iowa

I ran across an article complaining that each Iowa caucus vote came with a $200 price tag.

At least most of this is for advertising. Some quick math underscores my recent observation that the real scandal is how much outright bribery in the form of stolen loot (e.g., in the form of welfare benefits) our government dangles in front of voters as a matter of course.

Approximating just the budget of the Department of Health and Human Services as $700 billion per annum and the American population as 300 million, $2,333 goes to every man, woman, and child in the country. From those programs alone, a couple with two kids can be said to be bribed for at least $28,000 each (self and each child for four years of "benefits") come presidential election time against any laissez-faire candidate.

As Myrhaf alludes to in the article linked above, people will usually act in accordance to their code of morality. Until more people understand what egoism is, why it is moral, and why it is practical, they will not understand that even a bribe of ten times that amount is a fool's bargain, and they will take the money every time.

The Bible-Thumper in Your Closet

This is turning out to be an Iowa roundup despite my low regard for the caucuses! Dan Edge has a must-read post about Mike Huckabee's action-hero sidekick:
I do have to thank Chuck Norris for one thing: he has helped me see that Mike Huckabee is the very last person I would want in charge of this country. If Mike Huckabee earns the nomination for the Republican party, I will vote for whoever is running against him. Also, I know now not to make the mistake of buying any of Norris's books or videos, ever. Any dime given to Norris is money in the pockets of the fundamentalist, evangelical, Christian Behemoth that has swallowed the Republican party whole.
Norris, besides giving Christianity a more fun reputation than it deserves is also making it look, by association, more rugged than it ought in the manner of the Muscular Christianity movement. Sorry, but self-sacrifice and cheek-turning are not masculine. (Or feminine, now that I consider the point....)

In Huckabee, the Republicans have managed to find someone who will make me able to vote for Hillary Clinton without holding my nose.

The Face (and Soul) of the Paternalistic State

A vote for Clinton against the Republican nominee would not just punish the Republicans for cramming religion down our throats, it might also perhaps give the public a much-needed distaste for government paternalism (HT: Clay):
[Hillary Clinton] also highlighted a chapter in her book, "It Takes a Village," that talks about every child needing a champion. She said most children have someone in that role and she'd like to fulfill it for the whole country.

"I think the American people need a president who is their champion. And I've been running to be that champion--to get up every single day and do all that I can to make sure I provide the tools that every single American is entitled to receive and make the most out of their own lives,"Clinton said.
On one point I disagree. I don't think Clinton was being insincere. That remark is a window into a very evil soul.

Four years of that should be enough for most people.

But I do agree with this sentiment: "It's a pity they can't all lose."

I'd include the entire Republican field, though,...

... and the "Unity '08" ticket.

Yes, it's very early to start discussing voting strategies, but the possibility of Mike Bloomberg running as a third-party candidate has cropped up again, reminding me of the "Unity '08 Ticket" I blogged some time ago. Needless to say, middle-of-the-road morons have stopped drooling long enough to start salivating at the prospect. Note that every one of the policy proposals listed at that last link entails a minor variant of the same big government statism that both parties have already put on the table.

A third-party run would blunt whatever mandate the victor would have, which would be a good thing in a way, but this would arguably be offset by its elimination of whatever tonic value a Republican defeat might have.

The Head of Vecna

If you've never played D&D before, this will go straight over your head, but if you have, the title just about says it all. I laughed out loud at this one.

Yes. In a game of two rival adventuring parties, one figures out how to get the other to come to blows for the privilege of decapitating themselves!

Objectivist Roundup

The first of the year is posted over at Rational Jenn's.

Record Stupidity

The year is just four days old and I've already received a strong nominee for "idiotic comment of the year".

Someone just tried to post a 12,267 word blathering about God to this post. As if a forty-year old man has never heard of Christianity in his life.

I moderate comments for a reason. Needless to say, this got Christ-canned.

-- CAV


: (1) Numerous minor edits. (2) Added section after "Objectivist Roundup".
1-7-08: Added work-safe warning to music video clip.


janiveer said...

Beefheart! I miss my wife when i hear Tropical Hotdog Night :)

Gus Van Horn said...

Here's a video. It appears to have the whole song, unlike the one here.

Joe at Forces blog said...

Re: "... and the "Unity '08" ticket."

From the WSJ article on Bloomberg: “Most third-party candidates have run on some issue or cause that the main parties had ignored … We aren't aware of any such cause or idea that Mr. Bloomberg represents.”

Given the serious issues facing the country, and the fact that the candidates offer as solutions either vague sophistries (see their web sites) or easily-demolished statist proposals … isn’t there a huge “market” (to use the WSJ’s term) for an intelligent, honest, articulate, independent candidate offering a free-market/strong-defense platform?

Gus Van Horn said...

There should be, but there isn't.

We'll know our intellectual activism is paying off when such a candidate becomes a viable possibility.

Kelly said...


You've given me so many plugs, I owe you a surge protector or something. Maybe I'll just send you a lithograph print of me with the plunger on my bald head, since I know you love that one.


--Dan Edge

Gus Van Horn said...

That, or keep crankin'em out!

Either way, I'm happy!