Free Markets, Free People

Billy Hollis

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For the software devs among our readers, a report from //build/

Microsoft’s //build/ conference is on, where they are rolling out plans for a pretty dramatic shift in Windows for the next generation.

I’m in sunny Anaheim at the conference, with no time to pen a long post. If you’ve got ten minutes to waste listening to me ramble, and you care about the Microsoft side of the tech industry, you can watch this video which was posted a couple of hours ago. Actually, it might be better to watch some other videos in the series that feature Microsoft executives with a lot more interesting and detailed things to say, but, hey, if you make fun of them in the comments here, they’ll never see it. Whereas you can point out that the camera angle makes me look like I have some kind of weird arthritis, and I just have to take it.

If you don’t care about software development, or do care but are apathetic or hostile to Microsoft, my apologies. Please return to our usual program of economic and political doom.


Top five public speaking tics that are annoying as Hell

I spend a lot of time in front of an audience. It’s a major source of my income, and if I suck at it, my bank account will feel it.

Since I’m rather fond of my bank account, I try to listen to others who do public speaking, and pick up do’s and don’ts from them. It’s mostly don’ts, I’m afraid, especially from politicians. Our generation has very few good public speakers, and no genuine orators of consequence as far as I know. 

The worst things I see are tics that speakers fall into. They annoy the heck out of me, and probably you too. I try to observe and remember those annoyances, so that I can avoid them in my own delivery.

Here, then are the top five things I notice in public speakers that grate on my nerves. Any of you that need to get in front of a group should try hard to avoid having a single one of these tics even one time in your presentation.

 

1. "…you know…" This is the one I see the most right now. Politicians seem to particularly susceptible to this one, including Obama. Here are a couple of examples from Senator Mark Warner in an interview published just a couple of days ago.

You know, there’s ideas, for example, that I’ve found a tremendous response on that says, you know, we’ve got thousands of schools in our country that are energy inefficient. Why not take folks, particularly young people, 18 to 30 year olds, who’ve been on unemployment for more than 10 or 15 weeks and say, you know, we’re going to continue…

Well, you know, the – I wish I’d say that, you know, I’m extraordinarily optimistic, but, you know, the alternative becomes, you know, if we’re going to look at gridlock, candidly, the whole Congress ought to get fired, because the American people ought to expect us to do our job.

…there are a whole series of things that we could do that, frankly, you know, we do need folks – particularly in the House – to simply stop saying “no” and kind of roll up their sleeves and, you know, try to work together in a bipartisan way.

I doubt Warner even knows he does this, but I find it incredibly annoying when someone speaks like this. You probably do too, so make sure, you know, you’re not doing it.

2. "…like…" Another well known tic is the gratuitous use of "like". Example: "This problem is like really hard to solve. You should like give us some extra time to like figure it out."

Conversational tics go in cycles, and this one is (hopefully) on the decline. At its height five or so years ago, I used to sit in audiences and calculate the "like index", which was the number of times the speaker gratuitously stuck in "like" per minute.

Younger female speakers were and are by far the worst offenders, and for some reason this tic seems to be worse in California. I heard a young lady speak in front of a group a couple of years ago with a "like index" of about fifteen.

Because this one has been around a while, people notice it, and therefore it’s especially important to avoid it. It also has a connotation of youthful cluelessness, which is another very good reason to, like, keep your presentations "like"-free.

3. "…, right?" This one’s fairly recent. I first noticed it about two years ago. Presenters began the tic of inserting the question-tone "right" at the end of about every other sentence. Even some quite good presenters I know picked this up, and I suspect it’s because it became a conversation tic inside Microsoft – the culture there has a tendency towards such tics.

A presentation with the "right?" tic sounds something like this:

"The turboencabulator uses a CPU to encarphalize the singlial signal, right? And that minimizes energy drain by the gristocentrum, right? Compare that to an agilomodelizer. It connects garphal entities to anthrocentic viewlicanters, right?"

Unlike "like" or "you know", I think perhaps one or two "right?" insertions per hour for emphasis might not be too bad. But as a tic inserted in every paragraph, not only is it irritating, after a while the audience begins to wonder if you’re not trying to convince yourself. Right?

4. "…frankly, …" and its relatives. This one has been a favored tic from politicians for years. They like to insert "frankly" every so often in whatever they are trying to get across. You can get as many examples as you like with simple searches. Here’s one for “senator frankly”.

I think they are striving for the implication that they’re being honest with us, which of course for a politician is always an open question. I find it insulting, though. Are they not being honest if they don’t keep inserting "frankly" in every other sentence?

There are variations on "frankly", and some are far worse. Sometimes politicians realize they have used "frankly" too much, and switch to "candidly", which is just as bad. An even worse variant is "To be honest with you…". A really bad variation is the insertion of "trust me", which almost any audience member will interpret as "don’t trust me".

If you believe in what you’re saying, it should come through in your tone and body language. You don’t need to keep reassuring your audience that you’re telling the truth. Unless you’re lying, of course.

5. Overuse or misuse of "literally". I’ve been guilty of this in my writing on occasion, probably because I’m trying to emphasize that I’m really not kidding about something that sounds outrageous. However, I recommend that you never use it in public speaking.

First, it has some of the same problem as "frankly", in that your tone and demeanor should make it unnecessary. Second, there is a bad tendency in present day communication for it to be used naively. Some people apparently don’t understand what the word really means, and they just use it for general emphasis. If you use it, you risk being dumped into the bucket with those folks.

There are others: "a going-forward basis", "incentivize" and other verbicized nouns, switching out perfectly clear terms such as "spending" to something that isn’t really accurate but has a better connotation ("investment"), and other forms of drone-speak. However, it’s the tics that really bother me. I can’t really seen any excuse for them whatsoever in someone who speaks as part of their profession.

If you have to get in front of a group more than once or twice a month, these tics will bother your audiences too. So do your best to banish them from anything you say in front of a crowd or on camera.


Scene from a modern American newsroom

{Reporters and editors staff meeting, Metropolis Times-Post-Globe-Tribune, Monday, August 8, 2011}

“OK, people, this looks like a big week. There’s a lot coming down this week, so we all need to do some serious, in-depth work to stay ahead of the curve. First, we’ve got the downgrade and the associated fallout. I need someone who can look at the aftereffects, and make a guess about what it means.”

“Chief, I’ve been doing some analysis on this, and…”

“Stop right there, Beth. This is another one of those ‘Obama made a mistake’ pieces you want to do, isn’t it? When I hired you last spring, I thought I made it clear that we take a balanced approach here. We need to look for fault on all sides, and respect the office of the presidency. Walt, how about you?”

“Chief, do we have to use the word fallout? On this weekend’s talk shows, everyone was using the term ‘Tea Party downgrade’. I think that’s the right analysis. Why, with that approach, the piece practically writes itself.”

“Perfect. Since that’s the new factor in DC, it’s clear that the Tea Party is the biggest factor in this. Get to work. Beth, what is it?”

“Uh, sir, how does a faction that only controls 1/3 of the majority party in one house of Congress cause this problem in only seven months? Don’t we need to go back further in time for a better analysis?”

“No, this is a newspaper, not some right-wing think tank.”

“But, sir, the articles I read about the Tea Party that we put out last year claimed they were just a bunch of whackjobs who would never have any significant effect on Washington because of their extremism. Don’t we at least need to examine how that changed over the last year?”

“No. Our readers understand how the Tea Party has morphed into a national threat. So the Tea Party downgrade is one direction we’ll go. But we need something with some math in it to explain the whole thirty year future thing. I know we don’t normally do math stuff, but with the stock market dropping like a rock, people need some reassurance on this so they don’t panic. Did anybody in here take calculus? Destiny, I seem to recall that it’s on your transcript.”

“Well, um, yeah, but I don’t remember much of it.”

“Your transcript says you made an A. And it was only two years ago. What gives?”

“Well, see, the teacher and me, we had a sort of arrangement. He was real cute, and I really needed to pass calculus, so…. I really didn’t expect the A, but we hit it off better than I thought we would.”

“OK, anybody else want to tackle that? Not you, Beth.”

“Chief, I know a guy over at MoveOn who is good with charts. I can probably get something good from him.”

“OK, Hunter, that will do. Of course, you’ll want to attribute the original source instead of MoveOn. You understand.”

“Certainly, sir.”

“Moving on, this whole gun running thing just won’t go away. Personally, I don’t see why our readers would be interested in it, but we’ve been taking some flack on the right-wing extremist talk shows at Fox. So we need to do some real investigation here, and find out the real story. It’s pretty clear that those extremists at Fox are trying to gin up a controversy that makes the Obama administration look bad, so we need to counter that with some objective analysis. Who’s up for it? Jeremy, you wrote a couple of articles on it early on. You want to go deep on it?”

“Not really, sir. I can’t get anybody in the Justice Department to talk about it, so I can’t get any balance. They’re scared by the way the whole Scooter Libby thing turned out.”

“Yeah, yet again, the Republicans ruined it for everybody. Can’t you get anyone to talk?”

“The only people I can get are field people, who seem to have an agenda here to push this as a controversy. I think they’ve been influenced by the Fox people. I don’t want to give them a soapbox. All they want to talk about is some dead agent from last year and memos from Obama’s people.”

“Sir?”

“Yes, Beth, what is it?”

“Sir, I think we have to take into consideration that there’s a real conspiracy here, something that would take us to very high levels. This could even be Pulitzer material.”

“Beth, I think you’re absolutely right. Why, given the phone hacking scandals in Britain, who knows what these Fox people are capable of. This might go all the way to Rupert Murdoch.”

“That wasn’t exactly…”

“OK, Jeremy, there’s your angle. Go back to your sources and see if any of them are interested in talking about the Fox conspiracy side of things.

“What do you want me to do about the rumors that the FBI and DEA were involved?”

“They’re just rumors.”

“Yeah, but they have some emails that look a bit incriminating.”

“Probably faked. You know how those right wingers are. First they’ll claim that Rather’s memos were faked to cover up for Bush, then they’ll turn around and fake stuff up themselves. You can’t trust anything you get from them. So stick to reliable sources. Eric Holder says the feds didn’t do anything wrong, correct?”

“That’s what he says.”

“Then you can take it to the bank. We all know there are people out there who would attack Holder just because of his race. He’s an embattled public servant. So let’s make sure the truth gets out, shall we? Now, let’s see what’s next. There was apparently a riot in Wisconsin. A flash-mob thing. I think there was also one in Philadelphia a while back. This looks like a great opportunity for some serious cultural analysis on problems in the inner city. Estelle, didn’t you minor in black studies? You want to work on this?”

“I only glanced at it this weekend sir. Were any of the victims black?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t look at it much either. I’m so tired of Wisconsin. Yes, Beth?”

“Sir, the blogs say all the victims were white, and the mob was black.”

“How many times do I have to tell you to ignore those right wing extremist blogs? We need some primary sources. Estelle, can you get facts on this?”

“What if it turns out the blogs are right and there are no black victims? I don’t know how to handle such a case. Anything I write could be used to attack underprivileged minorities. I thought that was against our mission statement.”

“Well, if that turns out to be the case, just leave race out of it completely. You can at least get some numbers of people arrested and people hurt and so forth. Remember to leave all the names out so people don’t draw any erroneous conclusions and inappropriately make this a racial thing. You can fall back on the underage confidentiality thing for that if you need to. OK, the final big subject is the crash of that helicopter that killed a bunch of SEALs. Clearly, this is a great opening to talk about what Bush did wrong in Afghanistan that has made it a quagmire. Who wants to work on that?”

“I do!” “Me, me!” “Please, can I do that one?” “No, I want to do it!” ….


Today’s dose of comedy: Twitter will save Democrats in 2012, says speaker at DNC

I can’t do much better than to quote the first paragraph of this article in its entirety:

Democrats are hoping they’ve found a secret weapon for winning back the House in 2012: Twitter.

To quote a famous faux-professor, stop laughing. It get’s better:

“We know that we’re up against a team of about 43 think tanks on the other side. … But when you engage them in a good debate, they’re shallow."

As opposed to the 140 character sound bites in Twitter? You’re going to make a sophisticated argumentative reponse tht snds lik its a txt msg bcuz u haf 2 cmprss n2 140 chars? ROFL!

Why, the event was so successful, one delegate created a Twitter account! Right there at the event! Really!

A Democratic leadership aide described the event as a “nice hands-on training” for Members less familiar with social media, and it even led to one Member signing up for Twitter on the spot:
@DelegateDonna (Democratic Del. Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands).

Just think – a DNC delegate managed to do something so complicated that thousands of teenagers do it unassisted every day! What a triumph! 2012 is in the bag, man!

Yep, social media is going to save the Democrats. It will finally, finally get their elegant, persuasive message out.

They’ve had such tremendous obstacles, after all. Why, they’ve had to rely on such limited resources up to now. They’ve only had a bunch of their own think tanks, three broadcast news networks, one cable news channel that openly supports them and another that keeps a fig leaf of pretense that they don’t, every remaining non-bankrupt major city paper except the Wall Street Journal, a slew of pretentious magazines, and a government-funded national radio network that has come right out and admitted where they stand. On the Internet, they’ve had to rely on such a thin guard of sites: Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Media Matters, DogLakeOnFire (or whatever it is, I forget), TPM, etc. etc. I mean, just how far can Soros’ billions go? Those stupid rubes must need some serious educating to realize the wonder and magnificence that is collectivism. The work just never ends!

Hey, at least they’ve stopped explaining that Obama just needs to make more speeches. He seems to have taken that to heart. In the midst of some of the biggest foreign policy happenings of the decade, Obama has decided the best place he can spend time is the golf course. I’d like to disagree with him, but given what he would probably do if he actually did anything, I really can’t.

They’ve got a president who would rather be a dictator, but the problem is their message.

They were given control of all branches of the federal government, and the result was an economy in the dumper, unprecedented and unsupportable debt, one foreign policy blunder after another, a healthcare bill so hated that it help them suffer an historic election loss in 2010… but their real problem is getting their message out.

As in 2010, I hope this delusion continues. Please, please let them keep getting their message out. The union protesters in Madison, for example, are doing great work in this area.

They have clearly communicated the Democratic Party  message. It’s this: You intend to keep on sucking every possible bit of money while telling the rest of us exactly what sort of lives we’re allowed to lead.

That’s your message in a nutshell. Good news: it will fit in a post on Twitter.


Palin is the Right’s Tank

In the online multiplayer game Final Fantasy, players must collaborate to get very far in the game. Individuals train up at the beginning by fighting weak mythical creatures, but taking on the powerful monsters they meet later requires teams with assigned roles.*

It’s all self-organizing; no one at the game maker assigns a player to a task. Players find roles they are good at, and team up with others who possess other skills.

Teams normally have an interesting role called a “tank”. This player has the capability to attract and hold a monster’s attention, absorb a tremendous amount of damage from the monster, and regenerate quickly from the damage. Other players use the distraction of the tank to attack the monster in various ways, and if the team does their job, eventually the monster succumbs to their combined efforts.

If you’re on a team with a tank, you don’t have to like the tank much. You just have to appreciate the tank’s capabilities. Your main objective is to subdue the monster.

In my mind, this maps very naturally to the role of Sarah Palin in bringing down the monster of collectivism.

OK, OK, this sounds like the kind of high-falutin’, silly comparison that people like Maureen Dowd use for a cheap column in the New York Times. But attend me: this kind of metaphor is going to work a lot better with someone in their twenties than something we old guys would naturally use from a 1960s TV show.

I came around to this comparison as a way of explaining my own opinions of Palin to the younger set that hangs around with my sons. It’s sometime hard for me to explain what I like about her, because I’m not overly impressed with Palin’s leadership potential or her deep thinking about the issues. I haven’t seen much evidence that she possesses leadership or deep thinking in any great quantity.**

I am impressed, though, with her intuition, her courage, and her resilience. She absolutely refuses to be intimidated by the usual post-modern, politically-correct leftist BS. She absorbs anything the self-righteous Olbermann types can throw at her, laughs it off, and “punches back twice as hard”, to follow the advice of a well-known leftist.

The constant, withering attacks from legacy media do cause some damage to her image, according to various surveys and polls. However, she has a core group that regards every such attack as proof that she’s right. These folks have been looking for someone of consequence to tell the left-leaning media to pi$$ up a rope for a long time. The fact that it’s a woman doing it just adds to the frission.

Of course, there’s a core group on the left that regards her as beneath contempt and laps up everything the legacy media hands out. They are joined by the pusillanimous establishment Republican types who still quiver in fear that the Washington Post might say something negative about them, and go into a fan-waving fainting spell when they see someone with enough self-confidence and guts to not give a whit what the lefties at the Post think.

Both groups attack her regularly. Amazingly, though, after the attacks die down and Palin gets back to her tweets and Facebook postings, the damage seems to dissipate. Her unfavorable numbers oscillate around, but the key is that they do oscillate; they don’t go negative and stay there. Plus, the more illogical and mean-spirited attacks sometimes have the opposite effect of damaging the attackers and helping Palin.

So my message to those on the right who are not especially enamored of Palin is this: you need her. She’s the tank on the team. The leftist monster must be slain.***

I’m not the only one thinking along these lines, of course. I first mentioned the tank comparison in a comment at Legal Insurrection last week, and William Jacobson seems to be on the same general page in his post yesterday. This is just my way of explaining why we need her, even if we don’t think she’s perfect.

I have no idea what her chances to become president are, and at this point it’s too early to care. She’s certainly not my top choice, but she comes in well ahead of Mitt “Plastic Fantastic” Romney. (Mike “Worst of Both Worlds” Huckabee isn’t even on the list; if the GOP is stupid enough to nominate him, they might as well prepare for a third party).

As long as she’s highlighting the dishonesty and mendacity of the left, the overall bias of the media, and the cowardice and privilege-protecting mewling of the establishment GOP, she has my support. It will take a team to do what has to be done, and we need a tank. She’s the best one we have right now.

(*) I’ve never playing Final Fantasy, but as the father of two teen boys, it’s a frequent topic of conversation around the house. Actual FF players, please forgive my no-doubt incomplete understanding of the game’s concepts.

(**) Not that these are necessary attributes to be elected president, based on some recent examples.

(***) For civility-obsessed idiots, that’s a metaphor.


The Sheer Hilarity of “No Labels”

McQ hit these pompous fools when they first popped their heads up. I was too busy to chime in then, but the more I’ve watched this whole “No Labels” thing, the funnier it gets.

George Will does a pretty good job today of shredding some of their sillier assertions:

Although the people promising to make No Labels into a national scold are dissatisfied with the tone of politics, they are pleased as punch with themselves. If self-approval were butter, they could spread it across America, if it were bread. They might cover the country with sanctimony as they "overthrow the tyranny of hyper-partisanship."

But Bloomberg, addressing the No Labels confabulation, spoke truth to powerlessness: "It’s not clear that the average person feels themselves disenfranchised or wants a lot of the things we are advocating." Just so. Whatever their defects, America’s political parties are marvelously sensitive market mechanisms, measuring every tremor of the electorate’s moods.

But the truly funny thing to me about the entire premise of the group is that a very close approximation of what they are advocating was already tried – by George W. Bush.

W was the guy who “reached across the aisle” to Ted Kennedy to federalize education. He was the one who “accomplished things” by expanding the welfare state via Medicare Rx. He even signed campaign reform legislation that was intended to limit those who “who recklessly demonize their opponents”, though it was later ruled so out of bounds that it was declared unconstitutional.

His tone towards Democrats was mostly moderate, much more so than Obama’s tone when berating Republicans and other opponents. W didn’t pander to his base very often. He was the model of political civility.

His reward? He was demonized by the left as stupid, mean, and equivalent to Hitler.*

That’s why the No Labels’ threats to form citizens’ groups to “carefully monitor the conduct of their elected representatives” are laughable. Republicans have been treated to a detailed object lesson in exactly what works and what doesn’t when trying to work with today’s left. Attempting to compromise with them gives ground while getting nothing of consequence in return, and results in spittle-flecked leftist rage in the bargain.

To simple minded politicians wrapped up in the Beltway bubble, compromising to “get things done” gives an illusion of progress. But it’s just an illusion. It’s akin to having shared control of the rudder so that they get to help choose which side of the waterfall to plunge off of. It does nothing to reverse the course away from the waterfall, and wastes whatever time and resources we still have to do that.

Many such simple minded fools, in both parties, were removed in the last election. That happened despite the fact that the Tea Party movement is new, inexperienced, and doesn’t have deep pockets to draw on. The Tea Partiers went up against the professional and veteran political organizers and rabble rousers of the left, funded by folks like Soros, and in many cases kicked their butts.

So now the Democrats are left with Barney Franks types, from districts so mired in partisan Democratic politics that they would elect a shrill, nasty, Democrat whose demonstrated incompetence helped facilitate the subprime crisis. If you believe in limited government, or even if you just think we better do something quick before the debt bomb explodes, good luck “finding common ground” with such people.

The Republicans have been put on notice that back-scratching with those leftist Democrats is probably going to get them a well-funded, passionate primary challenge. If Mike Castle can get beat by Christine O’Donnell, they know they are not safe with politics as usual. So we’re likely to see more polarized politics rather than less – and as George Will points out, that’s a good thing.

I look forward to hearing about all those “citizens’ groups in every state and congressional district”. Or rather, I look forward to not hearing about them, because just like the aborted Coffee Party movement, well-intentioned fools will volunteer to be organizers, and then find only two or three left-leaning pros at their organizational meeting. They will then grouse to their spouse about how “nobody cares about bringing moderation and civility to politics” and go back to watching MS-NBC.

(*) No Labels co-founder Frum ought to know this. He worked in the Bush White House. But he’s either too simple-minded to draw the obvious conclusions, or such a publicity whore that he couldn’t resist the opportunity to trumpet his reasonableness in the pages of the Washington Post. Or both.


Schadenfreude summary: Election day minus 1

Obama has "abolished torture" and needs to be more theatrical to appease those silly people who are voting against his party

Tina Brown says that Obama will need to amp up the theatrics after Tuesday. Yep, it’s obvious to all thinking people that since he’s done wonderful things like abolishing torture (yes, she said that), any displeasure among the voters simply must be that they’re taken in by the theatrics of the right. Therefore the obvious solution is to increase theatrics on the left!

It would be harder to find an example of the shallowness and self-absorption of today’s left than Tina Brown. It would also be harder for find an example of just how biased and off the rails the mainstream media has become that Newsweek wanted her as editor.

 

"Gentlemen, we have to protect our phony-baloney jobs!"


In a desperation move that I can’t recall ever being used before, Harry Reid’s campaign is using congressional aides from out-of-state (specifically from the staff of Max Baucus) to do door-to-door canvassing. Now, remember, the Tea Parties are all astroturf, but the Senate Majority Leader, one of the most powerful incumbents on the planet, can’t find enough volunteers in his own state to go door to door for him. He has to supplement with lobbyists (natch), and congressional aides.

Is that even legal? Not using the snakes lobbyists, I’m talking about the congressional aides. Michael, what say you?

 

Nate Silver writes Republican election p0rn


A guy with a pretty good reputation on the election prediction front writes up what he thinks is the worst case scenario for the Democrats, with a pretend newspaper story from Wednesday morning. It’s brutal. It even includes Lieberman switching to caucus with Republicans, which if he is retiring after this term would make eminent sense.

Then Silver gives the reasons his imaginings are not so far-fetched. There’s nothing about them that looks very far out to me; in fact in a couple of areas I think he is understating likely effects. An example would be that I think the general animus against professional politician incumbents is stronger than he seems to think. I consider it stronger than it’s ever been in my lifetime.

 

Labor unions starting pre-election crocodile tears


This is in the NYT, and the article is a variation of the famous joke with the punchline "Women and minorities most affected". In this case, the wailing is for a different Democratic special interest group, organized labor. Here’s a sample:

“All this means that Republicans may well go on the offensive against labor, after two years in which unions have been on the offensive.”

Why that’s bad isn’t really explored in much depth. Of course they give the usual slanted "rebuttals" from Republicans, with cherry picked quotes from them about how their policies are good for businesses. This is classic NYT, nominally presenting the opposing case, but doing so in a way that will satisfy their latte-sipping Manhattanite readers that the Republicans are scum who don’t care about anything but money.

 

Not the best photo to highlight Obama’s Chicago trip


A black man kneeling to Obama’s limousine is the marquee shot for Obama’s pre-election visit. I notice that the guy put some paper or cardboard down on the street to use as a prayer mat.

I don’t care which side you’re on, if this picture doesn’t inspire revulsion, then you don’t understand what it means to be American.


“In a wave election, … you feel powerless. Everything I feel I know how to do, that I’m trained to do, I can’t do.”

The title comes from a quote by a pollster for the Democrats in this article. Most of the article is about the resignation that the GOP will take the House, with some Democratic strategists predicting as many as 70 Republican pickups.

I highlighted that quote because I think it indicates what is different about this election and what is wrong with most elections.

Democratic consultants, pollsters, and strategists have a tried-and-true playbook. It includes some of the following:

  • Raise a whole lot of money from people who have a vested interest in more government, and promise them to exert the power of government on their behalf.
  • Don’t make concrete promises on the campaign trail. Talk about generic “hope” and “change” and similar ideas, so that you can carry out your special interest policies in office without anyone overtly accusing you of lying.
  • Rely on various groups to get out the vote from reliably Democratic special interests. Depend on those proxies to push the rules to the edge, and maybe break them, but expect that any fallout will take place after the election and so far ahead of the next election that it will have faded from the news.
  • Demonize the GOP opposition. If they utter a single word about cutting government spending, accuse them of wanting old people to eat cat food, or whatever. Talk in a generic sense about how you are in favor of responsible government and you want to cut “fat” and “waste”. This reassures clueless moderates, and your leftist base has long since grown to understand that these are code words for cutting stuff leftists don’t like, such as the military, or doing nothing at all.
  • Depend on most of the media to help you demonize the opposition, carry water for your campaign, and studiously ignore anything that makes you look bad.
  • Have your special interest groups, especially unions, round up a bunch of relatively uninterested people to come to your rallies, frame them as making it look like you’re enormously popular, and depend on the media to use that to make you look so popular that you can’t be beaten.
  • This anonymous Democratic pollster is right. None of that is working. Thank goodness, because it’s time and past time for such tactics to fail.

    To be sure, Republicans sometimes dabble in the same tactics. They can’t depend on the media to carry water unless they are pretty lickspittle to the press and talk trash about other Republicans, but some of them do that. And generic promises and backroom special interest deals are a staple among professional politicians of all stripes. The interesting thing about this election to me is that some of those Republicans faced the same difficulties as the Democrats (an “adverse political climate“) and some are already gone from the field.

    This election is different because there is a contingent of voters that simply does not give the benefit of the doubt to either professional politicians or the media any longer. In fact, it’s worse than that. They assume what they’re hearing from those entities is distorted or dishonest. They assume the media has chosen sides. They assume that the professional politician cares more about his power and perqs than about governing responsibly.

    They have every reason to assume all of this, because it’s all true.

    I see two things that have made the difference this time around. First, the media trashed any remaining credibility they had in relentlessly pimping for Obama. They covered up every potentially damaging fact that came up about him, never challenged him on specific policies, and basically acted as though they would be happy to bear his child (even the men) if that could be made to happen. This level of obsequiousness was detectable even in people who don’t pay much attention to politics.

    Second, the failure of leftism, and the arrogance of leftism even in the face of its own failure, is more obvious than ever. Obama and his cronies have made no attempt to hide their contempt for the foundational principles of the country. They believe they know better than the common citizens what is best for the common citizens.

    That arrogance has been around for a while. There are Democrats who have been trying to nationalize healthcare since Medicare passed in the sixties.

    The difference is that now it’s on open display. Barney Frank can now be caught saying outright that he wants single payer, but it can’t pass right now, so Obamacare is the best progress they can make this time around. Multiply this by thousands as the words Democrats are used to telling the faithful (and expecting to be hidden from wider view by a complicit media) now get played on YouTube to millions of pi$$ed off voters.

    We have a generation of political consultants and strategists who have basically looked at voters as a large group of marks and suckers. With good reason, since tactics based on that attitude have worked to put odious, nasty leftists like Frank, Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, and many others in office for decades.

    My biggest hope based on this election is that our incompetent and corrupt ruling class has at last awoken a critical mass of voters who refuse to be marks and suckers. Who work relentlessly to expose the true arrogance and ineptitude of pro politicians, and the feckless bias of the media.

    We’ll have to wait until 2012 to see if that’s the case. But then, I’ve waited all my life to see that critical mass awaken, and I’d almost given up even trying to talk to people about the dangers we face from unbridled government. I can wait a while longer to see if I’ll be disappointed again.


    Democrats having trouble with “adverse political climate”

    As a writer I can’t help noticing subtleties in the articles and books I read. A good writer packs a lot of meaning into a short space, and sometimes creates impressions in the reader that are subconscious.

    Here’s an example from this weekend:

    Obama made his fourth trip to Nevada Friday for a week-before-the-election rally and fundraiser to help Reid squeak out a victory despite low popularity in his home state and an adverse political climate. [Emphasis mine]

    I’ve seen the same phrase several times over the last few months, always referring to the travails of embattled Democrats.

    Notice the implied message. Those poor Democrats are not being beaten by motivated, possibly better qualified opponents. Nor are they contending with the results of their own disastrous, unpopular policies. Instead, they are dealing with “an adverse political climate”, as if the entire situation were just some random storm that blew up out of nowhere.

    This enables reporters to talk about the problems of Democratic candidates without having to face up to the reality of Democratic administration of the last four years for Congress and two years for the White House. They don’t have to come right out and say that Obama, Pelosi, Reid, et. al. have been a disaster for the political left. And they certainly don’t have to make any serious examination of their own internal assumptions that leftism is the ideal political philosophy.

    The reporters can even sound somewhat sympathetic to the candidates’ plight. You can almost hear their internal dialog. “Gosh, we don’t know where the storm came from, but those Democrats sure are getting drenched! Isn’t it awful that our statesmen like Reid have to contend with such random things?”

    Perhaps I just don’t remember, but I don’t think I saw that phrase when Republicans were getting hammered in 2006 and 2008. Everything was Bush’s fault and the fault of those Republicans caught in assorted ethical scandals. This year, the much worse offenses of Charlie Rangel are quickly shuffled to the “old news” pile and never, ever trotted back out when discussing Democrats’ lagging campaigns.

    As I tiresomely repeat, to defeat the political left, it’s important to constantly be on watch for their post-modern attempts to redefine the terms used in politics to make themselves look better. I hope every time you see “adverse political climate” from this point, you’ll translate it more appropriately as “deep, deep hole the Democrats dug for themselves, which the reporter is too chickensh!t to acknowledge.”


    The line to apologize for praising Castro and Communism in Cuba starts here

    It’s a pretty long line. Or at least it ought to be. Given that even the Castro brothers have come clean about what a hellhole Cuba is, it is to be hoped that silly celebrity and religious types that served as Castro’s useful idiots will recognize their foolishness and apologize for it.

    To help prod them along, I’ve developed a little standardized form we can use.

    ***********************************************************

    You are hereby invited to apologize for your unsupported and ill considered remarks about Cuba in ______, which were that:

    Cuba is great because it has free health care

    Cuba is great because it has free housing

    Cuba is great because jobs are guaranteed

    Castro is a genius

    Castro is the kind of leader you wish you had in the US

    Cuba shows that socialism works

    Cuba’s economic problems all stem from the US trade blockade

    It’s too bad that the brilliant, dynamic Che Guevara died young

    Other _____________________________________________________

    Thank you for your attention to this matter. We know how much you value honest, open discourse in the political sphere, and how eager you must be to set the record straight on your own misapprehensions.

    Sincerely,

    ************************************************************

    Any enthusiastic volunteers are encouraged to complete the invitation and send it to appropriate recipients. Any list of invitees should at a minimum include:

    Danny Glover
    Steven Spielberg
    Jack Nicholson
    Harry Belafonte
    Chevy Chase
    Robert Redford
    Ed Asner
    Woody Harrelson
    Shirley MacLaine
    Kevin Costner
    Tim Robbins
    Sean Penn
    Oliver Stone
    Leaders of the Methodist Church, headed by Rev. Larry Pickens
    Naomi Campbell
    Spike Lee
    Sidney Pollack (deceased)
    Dan Rather
    Pastors for Peace

    Additions suggested by commenters:
    Michael Moore (how could I have forgotten him!)
    Carlos Santana
    Leonardo DiCaprio
    Alanis Morissette
    Ted Turner
    Jane Fonda
    Jesse Jackson
    Al Sharpton
    Louis Farrakhan
    The Congressional Black Caucus, highlighted by Diane Watson

    Commenters are welcome to add to the list of invitees, and to suggest additional items for the checklist of things to apologize for.

    (For those who are about to comment that these fools will never apologize, I know that. The left didn’t apologize for their useful idiocy to the Soviet Union, and Cuba is small potatoes next to that.)

    **** Update 1:00 PM CST ****

    In re-reading this, I just remembered that Sidney Pollack is dead. I guess he’s off the hook for any apologies.

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