Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: August 30, 2010


Pool: guess the first use of “GOP peaked too early” in major media

We already know that the legacy left-leaning media is queasy about the Democrats getting hammered this fall. They would like to help prevent it as best they can, though there isn’t a lot they can do at this stage other than outright distortion.

But they can certainly engage in wishful thinking, hoping for a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Via Drudge, I just saw that the GOP is up to ten points on the generic congressional ballot. That’s ” the GOP’s largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup’s history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.”

Now of course, these numbers are going to wander around a bit in the next few weeks. The article includes this:

One cautionary note: Democrats moved ahead in Gallup’s generic ballot for several weeks earlier this summer, showing that change is possible between now and Election Day.

That led to a question in my mind. Pundits are fond of a conclusion that I find totally bogus – the idea of “peaking too early”. Certainly any candidate would like for their peak to be on election day, but I don’t believe that the peak is under any candidate or party’s control. I think there are just random fluctuations around bigger trends.

However, the idea of peaking too early is tailor-made for a lazy pundit to use in an attempt to restore hope that the Democrats won’t get thrashed. So, for entertainment purposes only, when do you think a pundit for major media will use that theme, and who do you think will be the first to do it?

(For the record, I’m not denying that the Republicans could still blow it and end up with only modest gains. The establishment Republicans are so out of touch that their wins will mostly be due to their opponents’ blunders instead of their own decision. But at this point they would have to screw up big time, or Obama would have to do something really impressive, to keep the Republicans from either gaining control of Congress back or coming close to it.)


“I” isn’t just a letter in “Iraq”

Ed Morrissey reminds us that if we’re waiting on the present POTUS to show a little class and at least acknowledge the success in Iraq was due to his predecessor’s strategy and persistence, we shouldn’t hold our breath.  Obama’s weekly address is an indicator of why that’s the case:

On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war.

As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As president, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office. We have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. In many parts of the country, Iraqis have already taken the lead for security.

In the months ahead, our troops will continue to support and train Iraqi forces, partner with Iraqis in counterterrorism missions, and protect our civilian and military efforts. But the bottom line is this: the war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home.

Of course he didn’t “end this war”, success has ended it and “we” (meaning “he”) hasn’t brought 90,000 troops home, a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiated by the Bush administration and signed, sealed and delivered before he ever was elected is the reason they’re home.

4 “I”’s, no mention of success, no mention of Bush, and strangely, no mention of inheriting something that seems to be winding up well.

Iraq has been on SOFA auto-drive since the treaty was agreed too by both sides.  It has nothing to do with Obama or his “promise”.  And I’ll make you a bet right now that he’s wrong about all of our troops being home by “the end of next year”.

As Morrissey notes about that promise:

It’s certainly possible, although very unwise. The Iraqis still don’t have much of an air force or navy, and it will take years to build both. They face pressures from Iran and Syria, and while their army can maintain internal security now, they won’t be any match for Iran or Syria alone, let alone together, if the two countries decide to subjugate Baghdad. I’d put that promise in the easier-said-than-done category, where the promise to close Gitmo wound up. If we’re not involved in combat operations, the political pressure to withdraw those forces drops to about the same level of class shown by Barack Obama in this address.

I’d say that’s about right.

~McQ


Is A Man’s Home Still His Castle?

Originally posted at the Washington Examiner on August 28, 2010. Some edits have been made to the original article.

It’s an enduring doctrine in America that one’s home is off limits to prying eyes and ears, and can be defended to the death if necessary. It’s not strictly true, of course, and certain states have eroded the doctrine to a gossamer wisp of the core idea. Yet, we tend to operate on an almost instinctual presumption that, when we are on our own property, we are kings and queens of the castle.

Felicia Gibson clearly adhered to this principle, and it’s landed her in serious legal trouble (via Glenn Reynolds):

The resisting-arrest conviction last week of Felicia Gibson has left a lot of people wondering. Can a person be charged with resisting arrest while observing a traffic stop from his or her own front porch?

Salisbury Police Officer Mark Hunter thought so, and last week District Court Judge Beth Dixon agreed. Because Gibson did not at first comply when the officer told her and others to go inside, the judge found Gibson guilty of resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer.

Gibson was not the only bystander watching the action on the street. She was the only one holding up a cell-phone video camera. But court testimony never indicated that Hunter told her to stop the camera; he just told her to go inside.

Taking video of police stops is becoming more common with the ubiquity of cell-phone cameras and the like, and so is the backlash from law enforcement as has been amply covered by people like Glenn Reynolds (the famous Instapundit) and Radley Balko (from Reason Magazine). From the account given, it appears this why Ms. Gibson was arrested. What makes her case unique, however, is that she was on her own front porch when the encounter took place, and that she was taken into custody on a charge of “resisting arrest.”

Salisbury Police Chief Rorie Collins explained the North Carolina statute, under which Gibson was charged, as this:

“This crime is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor and involves:

“Any person who shall willfully and unlawfully resist, delay, or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office.

“Obviously, this charge is rather broad and can encompass many different types of actions that are designed to, or serves to hinder a law enforcement officer as he/she performs their duties.

“This charge is most commonly used in situations where a person who is being arrested refuses to cooperate and either passively or aggressively resists an arrest or tries to run away.

“Another very common situation in which this charge is used involves instances when an officer is conducting an investigation and the individuals with whom he/she is dealing provide a false identity when required to identify themselves.

“As you can imagine, there are also many other circumstances in which this charge would be appropriate.”

Chief Collins wouldn’t comment on the specifics of Gibson’s case, but did allow that, in general one does have the right to observe a police stop from one’s own property. He also seemed to suggest that a charge of resisting arrest may still be appropriate in a situation where bystanders refuse to obey police commands to exit the area for their own safety.

“However, just as with many other scenarios, it is important to remember that every situation is based upon its own merits/circumstances. There are some circumstances in which the police who have stopped the vehicle in front of your house may determine that it is in the interest of safety (the officer’s, yours or the individual stopped) to require that folks move. As with other circumstances, it is best advised that an individual merely obey by the officer’s commands.”

Perhaps on a public street the Chief might have a point, in that a colorable argument could be made that the police are charged with protecting the safety of the public highways and byways, even where the only danger is self-imposed.

But to arrest someone who is unmistakably on their own property, and doing nothing remotely illegal, is an abuse of power pure and simple. Even if it were true that Gibson was endangering herself by witnessing the traffic stop from the confines of her front porch, how could that possibly be construed as “resisting arrest” or “obstructing the police” without eviscerating everything that the concept of private property (not to mention plain old individual rights) stands for? Taking such a risk is not illegal. Doing it while occupying one’s homestead should be recognized as unassailably within one’s rights.

Since it appears that neither the police nor the district attorney’s office can be shamed into refraining from such power abuses, perhaps it will take a fat lawsuit for violations of Gibson’s (et al.) constitutional rights to get their attention.

The castle walls may be crumbling and decayed, but the invaders can be fought back and the walls rebuilt.


Per the NYT – How Obama could save Obama (and the Democrats)

This magic formula for doing what the title suggests is courtesy of a New York Times editorial. After the appropriate amount of "the obstructionist GOP", and "poor Obama inherited this mess" whining, the NYT gets down to what it considers to be the brass tacks of the situation:

The question then is whether Mr. Obama will lead. He cannot force Congress to act, but he could pre-empt Republicans’ diatribes — on the deficit, on small business, on taxes — with tough truths and a big mission that would tie together the strategies and the sacrifices that will be needed to put the economy right.

The first sentence pretty much shoots the whole thing in the foot, doesn’t it?  Even if you agree 100% with the NYT formula for political success, getting Obama to lead on anything is simply not very likely.  He’s not a leader in a job that demands such a type.  He’s, at best, a policy wonk.  And judging by his economic policies not a very good one.

But back to the magic show that the NYT claims could save the left.  Per the editorial, the country needs “tough truths” and a “big mission” with which to motivate the people enough to “put the economy right”.

Here’s an idea – how about policies which enable businesses by providing incentives to get off the cash they’re piling up, expand and hire?  Settle the markets down by backing off government regulation, and intrusiveness.  Back off new taxes and roll back some old ones.  Stop spending money we don’t have.  Make a real attempt to address the deficit.

Or:

Mr. Obama also needs to inspire Americans who have been ground down by the economic crisis and Washington’s small-bore sniping. He needs to rally the nation around a big idea — a project that is worth sacrificing for, worth paying for, worth working for. One that lets them know that there is more ahead than just a return to a status quo of lopsided growth in which corporate profits surge while jobs and incomes lag.

That mission could be the “21st century infrastructure,” that Mr. Obama mentioned on a multi-city trip this month, “not just roads and bridges, but faster Internet access and high-speed rail.” It could be energy independence, with high-tech green jobs and a real chance for addressing global warming. Either of the above would make sense, economically and politically.

Mr. Obama and his economic team had clearly hoped for an economic rebound in time for the midterm elections. They are not going to get it. The economic damage they inherited was too deep, and the economic stimulus they pushed through Congress, for all of the fight, was too small. Standing back is not doing the country or his party any good. We believe Americans are ready for hard truths and big ideas.

Wait – didn’t we just pour almost a trillion borrowed dollars into that “big mission”?  Wasn’t it all about shovel ready infrastructure projects?  And hasn’t it been a spectacular failure.

Certainly there are “infrastructure” needs that require addressing.  But when you have an official unemployment rate of 9.5% (and an unofficial and much more accurate one well into double digits), people aren’t going to be impressed by “faster internet” and “green projects” that never seem to get anywhere and cost and arm and a leg.  And high-speed rail?  Really?

Oh, and the “chance to address global warming” is what – a chance to increase taxes, cripple businesses and make it even less likely that unemployment will improve.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Anyone who thinks people hurting economically would be impressed with this nonsense, even if Obama could and would lead, have to be living in an ivory tower somewhere.   People want jobs, not high speed rail or faster internet.  They don’t care if their job is a ‘green job’, they just want a freakin’ job.   And global warming – the majority of the population doesn’t even agree it’s happening much less wanting costly government programs that address it by taking money from them.

Why is it the left doesn’t seem to understand that it is time to put the agenda aside and focus on the nuts and bolts of creating jobs? The need is immediate – not some 5 to 10 years away.

The reason is because such a focus would mean actually admitting that their present agenda is hurting such an effort as well as acknowledging that government may not be the answer (instead, getting government out of the way actually is the answer).

So we get these sorts of pathetic pleas to a man who couldn’t lead a group of 5 year olds to an ice cream truck to essentially keep the agenda alive by disguising it as something it is not – a way to fix our economic problems.

Clue to the NYT.  Yes, the people are open for tough talk about shared sacrifice.  The rally in DC this weekend underlines that.  Here’s the problem for the left – the sacrifice they first want and expect to see is at the expense of this bloated, wasteful and ineffective national government that has its fingers in way to many pies.  Until they see real spending cuts, real downsizing and real governmental reform that benefits them and the engine of the economy – businesses – they’re uninterested in any nonsense about more government or more government spending or 21st century agendas.

To continue a theme, this ain’t rocket science, but it certainly is something that seems to be beyond the capacity of the left to grasp.  As it turns out, November will most likely reward them properly for their consistent inability to do so.

~McQ