Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eugenics still alive and well in 2012

By Michael J. Norton
November 10, 2012

Wouldn't it be great if politicians and other public figures actually told us what they believe rather than talking out of both sides of their mouths?
For example, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg actually did say what she believes about life-ending abortions in July 2009.  Justice Ginsburg said:
Frankly I had thought that, at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of.
What the good justice is talking about is called "eugenics."  Eugenics is not a happy thought -- it is a movement of extremists who claim that humankind can be improved through selective breeding and sterilization.  It is what Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany practiced in the extermination of millions of Jews as they sought to create the "perfect human being."
One of the early advocates of eugenics in the United States was Margaret Sanger, founder of what was to become Planned Parenthood.  Sanger believed that birth control, sterilization, and abortion would eliminate disease, crime, and the burden of children born to the socially and eugenically unfit.  In December 1921, Sanger said:
Birth Control is thus the entering wedge for the Eugenic educator ... the unbalance between the birth rate of the 'unfit' and the 'fit' is admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization[.] ... The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the overfertility of the mentally and physically defective.
Dottie Lamm, wife of former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm and ardent Planned Parenthood supporter, frequently advances the eugenics cause.  In aDenver Post op-ed last year, she said that "population [is] one of the major contributors to climate change and other environmental crises."
According to Lamm, the prediction that the world's current population of 7 billion will reach 9 billion by 2045 is of staggering consequence.  She warns readers that "the pressures that an expanding population [will] put on global warming are enormous."
Regrettably, people like Justice Ginsburg, Margaret Sanger, and Dottie Lamm have, up to now, had their way.  More than one million abortions are performed in the United States every year.   And members of our minority populations are disproportionately targeted by those who promote abortion.
In concert with the Obama administration, Planned Parenthood has used the courts to thwart the will of the people and their elected representatives whenever they reduce or eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.  Moreover, the administration has been promoting abortion and hard-selling extreme birth control methods, often to the financial benefit of close allies like Planned Parenthood.  This is nothing but a 21st-century attempt to wipe out "undesirables" in the name of eliminating "climate change and other environmental crises."
For the record, Planned Parenthood is responsible for more than one-third of the abortions committed in the United States.  One half of Planned Parenthood's annual one billion dollars of revenue as a "non-profit" comes from federal and state taxpayers.  And predictably, Planned Parenthood spends about $56 million every year on "public policy" initiatives, such as lobbying for pro-abortion laws and supporting the election of pro-abortion candidates who will continue to fund them and cover their overhead costs.
This election year is no exception.  Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's CEO, took a leave of absence to campaign full-time for President Obama.
Today, more than one half of Americans say they oppose abortions.  Even more Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortions.  And more and more research links abortion to very serious mental and emotional consequences in women -- as well as to physical problems that complicate later attempts to bear children, and even breast cancer.
That's why radical allies like Justice Ginsburg, Dottie Lamm, and even President Obama are so valuable to Planned Parenthood.  These abortion advocates echo Margaret Sanger's words and beliefs in an attempt to foist Nazi-era eugenics on a new generation of Americans.  Predicting "undesirables," overpopulation, and inevitable doom, they preach and coerce birth control.  And when that birth control inevitably fails, Planned Parenthood is on hand to exterminate the "unwanted" among us via abortion.
As Mother Theresa once said, abortion is "the greatest destroyer of love and peace" in the world.  We should all give thanks to God that our fellow Americans are becoming more and more informed on this life-ending issue every day in the realization that every innocent life deserves to be protected, not ended.  The more informed they are, the less likely they are to believe the double-talk of abortion activists and the politicians that further their heartbreaking agenda.
Michael J. Norton is a former United States attorney who currently serves as senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom Center for Life.

The voters who stayed home

By Andrew C. McCarthy
November 10, 2012

The key to understanding the 2012 election is simple: A huge slice of the electorate stayed home.
The punditocracy — which is more of the ruling class than an eye on the ruling class — has naturally decided that this is because Republicans are not enough like Democrats: They need to play more identity politics (in particular, adopt the Left’s embrace of illegal immigration) in order to be viable. But the story is not about who voted; it is about who didn’t vote. In truth, millions of Americans have decided that Republicans are not a viable alternative because they are already too much like Democrats. They are Washington. With no hope that a Romney administration or more Republicans in Congress would change this sad state of affairs, these voters shrugged their shoulders and became non-voters.
“This is the most important election of our lifetime.” That was the ubiquitous rally cry of Republican leaders. The country yawned. About 11 million fewer Americans voted for the two major-party candidates in 2012 — 119 million, down from130 million in 2008. In fact, even though our population has steadily increased in the last eight years (adding 16 million to the 2004 estimate of 293 million Americans), about 2 million fewer Americans pulled the lever for Obama and Romney than for George W. Bush and John Kerry.
That is staggering. And, as if to ensure that conservatives continue making the same mistakes that have given us four more years of ruinous debt, economic stagnation, unsustainable dependency, Islamist empowerment, and a crippling transfer of sovereignty to global tribunals, Tuesday’s post-mortems fixate on the unremarkable fact that reliable Democratic constituencies broke overwhelmingly for Democrats. Again, to focus on the vote is to miss the far more consequential non-vote. The millions who stayed home relative to the 2008 vote equal the population of Ohio — the decisive state. If just a sliver of them had come out for Romney, do you suppose the media would be fretting about the Democrats’ growing disconnect with white people?
Obama lost an incredible 9 million voters from his 2008 haul. If told on Monday that fully 13 percent of the president’s support would vanish, the GOP establishment would have stocked up on champagne and confetti.
To be sure, some of the Obama slide is attributable to “super-storm” Sandy. Its chaotic aftermath reduced turnout in a couple of big blue states: New York, where about 6 million people voted, and New Jersey, where 3.5 million did. That isdown from 2008 by 15 and 12 percent, respectively. Yet, given that these solidly Obama states were not in play, and that — thanks to Chris Christie’s exuberance — our hyper-partisan president was made to look like a bipartisan healer, Sandy has to be considered a big net plus on Obama’s ledger.
There also appears to have been some slippage in the youth vote, down 3 percent from 2008 levels — 49 percent participation, down from 52 percent. But even with this dip, the under-30 crowd was a boon for the president. Thanks to the steep drop in overall voter participation, the youth vote actually increased as a percentage of the electorate — 19 percent, up from 18 percent. Indeed, if there is any silver lining for conservatives here, it’s that Obama was hurt more by the decrease in his level of support from this demographic — down six points from the 66 percent he claimed in 2008 — than by the marginal drop in total youth participation. It seems to be dawning on at least some young adults that Obamaville is a bleak place to build a future.
Put aside the fact that, as the election played out, Sandy was a critical boost for the president. Let’s pretend that it was just a vote drain — one that explains at least some of the slight drop in young voters. What did it really cost Obama? Maybe a million votes? It doesn’t come close to accounting for the cratering of his support. Even if he had lost only 8 million votes, that would still have been 11 percent of his 2008 vote haul gone poof. Romney should have won going away.
Yet, he did not. Somehow, Romney managed to pull nearly 2 million fewer votes than John McCain, one of the weakest Republican nominees ever, and one who ran in a cycle when the party had sunk to historic depths of unpopularity. How to explain that?
The brute fact is: There are many people in the country who believe it makes no difference which party wins these elections. Obama Democrats are the hard Left, but Washington’s Republican establishment is progressive, not conservative. This has solidified statism as the bipartisan mainstream. Republicans may want to run Leviathan — many are actually perfectly happy in the minority — but they have no real interest in dismantling Leviathan. They are simply not about transferring power out of Washington, not in a material way.
As the 2012 campaign elucidated, the GOP wants to be seen as the party of preserving the unsustainable welfare state. When it comes to defense spending, they are just as irresponsible as Democrats in eschewing adult choices. Yes, Democrats are reckless in refusing to acknowledge the suicidal costs of their cradle-to-grave nanny state, but the Republican campaign called for enlarging a military our current spending on which dwarfs the combined defense budgets of the next several highest-spending nations. When was the last time you heard a Republican explain what departments and entitlements he’d slash to pay for that? In fact, when did the GOP last explain how a country that is in a $16 trillion debt hole could afford to enlarge anything besides its loan payments?
Our bipartisan ruling class is obtuse when it comes to the cliff we’re falling off — and I don’t mean January’s so-called “Taxmageddon,” which is a day at the beach compared to what’s coming.
As ZeroHedge points out, we now pay out $250 billion more on mandatory obligations (i.e., just entitlements and interest on the debt) than we collect in taxes. Understand, that’s an annual deficit of a quarter trillion dollars before one thin dime is spent on the exorbitant $1.3 trillion discretionary budget — a little over half of which is defense spending, and the rest the limitless array of tasks that Republicans, like Democrats, have decided the states and the people cannot handle without Washington overlords.
What happens, moreover, when we have a truly egregious Washington scandal, like the terrorist murder of Americans in Benghazi? What do Republicans do? The party’s nominee decides the issue is not worth engaging on — cutting the legs out from under Americans who see Benghazi as a debacle worse than Watergate, as the logical end of the Beltway’s pro-Islamist delirium. In the void, the party establishment proceeds to delegate its response to John McCain and Lindsey Graham: the self-styled foreign-policy gurus who urged Obama to entangle us with Benghazi’s jihadists in the first place, and who are now pushing for a repeat performance in Syria — a new adventure in Islamist empowerment at a time when most Americans have decided Iraq was a catastrophe and Afghanistan is a death trap where our straitjacketed troops are regularly shot by the ingrates they’ve been sent to help. 
Republicans talk about limited central government, but they do not believe in it — or, if they do, they lack confidence that they can explain its benefits compellingly. They’ve bought the Democrats’ core conceit that the modern world is just too complicated for ordinary people to make their way without bureaucratic instruction. They look at a money-hemorrhaging disaster like Medicare, whose unsustainability is precisely caused by the intrusion of government, and they say, “Let’s preserve it — in fact, let’s make its preservation the centerpiece of our campaign.”
The calculation is straightforward: Republicans lack the courage to argue from conviction that health care would work better without federal mandates and control — that safety nets are best designed by the states, the people, and local conditions, not Washington diktat. In their paralysis, we are left with a system that will soon implode, a system that will not provide care for the people being coerced to pay in. Most everybody knows this is so, yet Republicans find themselves too cowed or too content to advocate dramatic change when only dramatic change will save us. They look at education, the mortgage crisis, and a thousand other things the same way — intimidated by the press, unable to articulate the case that Washington makes things worse.
Truth be told, most of today’s GOP does not believe Washington makes things worse. Republicans think the federal government — by confiscating, borrowing, and printing money — is the answer to every problem, rather than the source of most. That is why those running the party today, when they ran Washington during the Bush years, orchestrated an expansion of government size, scope, and spending that would still boggle the mind had Obama not come along. (See Jonah Goldberg’s jaw-dropping tally from early 2004 — long before we knew their final debt tab would come to nearly $5 trillion.) No matter what they say in campaigns, today’s Republicans are champions of massive, centralized government. They just think it needs to be run smarter — as if the problem were not human nature and the nature of government, but just that we haven’t quite gotten the org-chart right yet.
That is not materially different from what the Democrats believe. It’s certainly not an alternative. For Americans who think elections can make a real difference, Tuesday pitted proud progressives against reticent progressives; slightly more preferred the true-believers. For Americans who don’t see much daylight between the two parties — one led by the president who keeps spending money we don’t have and the other by congressional Republicans who keep writing the checks and extending the credit line — voting wasn’t worth the effort.
Those millions of Americans need a new choice. We all do.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was published by Encounter Books.

David and Bathsheba

By Michael Walsh
PJ Media
November 9, 2012

YouTube Preview Image
Ever since the September 11 attack on our consulate and CIA station in Benghazi, “the dog in the night-time” of the scandal the media did its best to bury during the election campaign has been David Petraeus, the Iraq War commander turned spook-in-almost-chief. Throughout the orgy of misinformation, disinformation, finger-pointing, blame-shifting and general confusion, Petraeus remained adamantly silent, a hostage to fortune somewhere within the bowels of the CIA building in Langley. The one man who could have cut through the administration’s fog machine said nothing substantive as ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were laid to rest.
And now, just a couple of days after the election that returned Barack Hussein Obama II to executive power in Washington, he’s gone — resigned in the wake of an affair that likely occurred more than a year ago, apparently with his biographer, Paula Broadwell — who herself is under FBI investigation, reportedly for trying to access the general’s classified emails. Further, Petraeus will now not testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee aboutBenghazi next week.
And that, if Congress acquiesces and does not immediately subpoena Petraeus and either compel him to testify or force the administration to again assert executive privilege (as it did with Attorney General Eric Holder in the Fast and Furious mess), will be that — we’ll never know, and Obama will do his best to completely bury, what happened in Benghazi.
More details no doubt will dribble out over the coming days and weeks, but here’s what we can reasonably surmise. Although the official story is that the affair was uncovered by the FBI’s investigation into the emails, nevertheless it appears from the wording of Petraeus’s resignation letter that the affair began some time after July 2011; he became CIA director fourteen months ago. Therefore — unless he concealed that information from his vetters, which is highly unlikely given everything we know about the man — the Obama administration had to have known about the relationship from the start. Which means that, in effect, Petraeus confessed to his own “honey trap” and handed Valerie Jarrett, the Javert of Obama’s White House, a termination card, effective whenever she and the president cared to play it. And play it they did, right after the election and just before his testimony on the Hill. Well played, indeed.
On the other hand, if the affair began before Petraeus was being considered for the CIA post, and he didn’t reveal it, his reputation will never recover. As Ronald Kessler notes:
The investigation began last spring, but the FBI then pored over his emails when he was stationed in Afghanistan.
The woman who was having an affair with Petraeus is a journalist who had been writing about him.
Given his top secret clearance and the fact that Petraeus is married, the FBI continued to investigate and intercept Petraeus’ email exchanges with the woman. The emails include sexually explicit references to such items as sex under a desk.
Such a relationship is a breach of top secret security requirements and could have compromised Petraeus.
At some point after Petraeus was sworn in as CIA director on Sept. 6, 2011, the woman broke up with him. However, Petraeus continued to pursue her, sending her thousands of emails over the last several months, raising even more questions about his judgment.
So, one way or the other, we can begin to understand the silence emanating from the Langley Home for Lost Boys over the past several months. Right from the start, the Agency was fingered by the White House and by Hillary Clinton’s State Department as the fall guy for the Benghazi fiasco, especially once they understood that their “hateful video” legend wasn’t going to fly, and once leakers within the Agency began slipping the embarrassing details of what happened that night to their favorite journalist mouthpieces.
With the congressional hearings looming, it was clear that the administration could no longer tolerate a CIA that it could not fully control, and that therefore an example had to be made of a good, patriotic American war hero, who had succumbed to the most basic of human weaknesses. It doesn’t take a thriller novelist’s imagination to picture the scene: Petraeus calling to the White House and being told, probably by Jarrett, to tender his resignation forthwith and both to reveal the affair and cite it as the reason for his sudden disgrace. No fingerprints on the bloody knife except those of the victim, with the added bonus of ensuring his silence regarding Benghazi, especially with the Senate under even firmer control that it was last week, when the GOP was still indulging in its pipe dream of retaking it.
Well, as they say, elections have consequences, and this one’s a doozy. Petraeus has a lot of detractors on the Right, many of whom saw him as overly Muslim-friendly during his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. (For examples, just check the comments on this piece.) But, until he threw himself under the bus, no one doubted the man’s sense of duty, honor and country; indeed, it’s just that sense that likely caused him to resign in the first place; Max Boot has a nice appreciation of the general’s accomplishments here:
Imagine Winfield Scott, U.S. Grant, William Sherman, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower or Matthew Ridgway resigning over an affair. It’s simply impossible to imagine; standards have changed so much over the years that now sexual peccadilloes are about the only thing that can bring down senior military commanders. Petraeus did not have as big a war to fight as his predecessors did but what he achieved in Iraq was one of the most impressive turnarounds ever seen in any counterinsurgency campaign that I am familiar with.
Field Marshal Gerald Templer’s success in Malaya in the 1950s is usually cited as the gold standard of counterinsurgency. Well Iraq in early 2007, when Petraeus took over as commander, was in far worse shape than Malaya in 1952 when Templer arrived on the scene. Few thought there was any chance of stopping Iraq’s slide into ever-more violent civil war. Certainly not with a mere 20,000 or so surge troops–numbers widely dismissed as inadequate for the size of the task. Petraeus did not bluster and he did not boast but he arrived with a quiet confidence that he could still save the day–and he did.
The problem is, fighting generals (as opposed to the desk jockeys that grunts call REMFs) are not generally wise in the ways of politics — Ike was an exception; Patton was not) — and can find themselves played if they’re not suspicious of civilian authority, instead of (as they must be as officers) deferential to it. And Obama’s nomination of Petraeus to be CIA director always struck me as addition by subtraction: he took a possible GOP opponent and effective critic off the table and buried him across the river in suburban Virginia. A real spook — say, Allen Dulles, Dick Helms, or James Jesus Angleton — always has his antennae up and operational, and understands that his real enemy is most likely masquerading as his best friend.
So the career of King David (as he was known to his aides in Iraq) is over. The Republicans, however, must not let this old soldier just fade away. He needs to be called before the Intelligence Committee and to testify about the truth of what happened in Benghazi, including the real reason that ambassador Stevens was there — which, if the rumors of a gun-running operation to Syria are true (shades of both Fast and Furious and Iran-Contra), could be highly deleterious to the administration, and which might have had an effect on the election had they been publicly known.
Petraeus should welcome the opportunity, and in fact insist on it. It would be his final act of patriotism — and should he be prevented by the administration and its Democratic allies in Congress from testifying, then his forced silence will speak almost as loudly and even more eloquently.

Friday, November 09, 2012

The convenient resignation of General Petraeus

By Robert Spencer
November 9, 2012

Apparently overcome with guilt over an extramarital affair, General David Petraeus abruptly resigned as director of the CIA Thursday. A suddenly socially conservative Barack Obama accepted his resignation Friday, as Petraeus explained in a statement made public Friday afternoon (the time when all stories that the administration wants to bury are released). But Petraeus’s statement simply didn’t hold water — not only because it assumed an Obama as strait-laced as Pat Robertson, but also because it comes just after the House Foreign Affairs Committee asked him to testify in its investigation of the Benghazi jihad attack and subsequent Obama administration cover-up.
“Yesterday afternoon,” Petraeus wrote, “I went to the White House and asked the President to be allowed, for personal reasons, to resign from my position as D/CIA. After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation.”
Parson Obama, that well-known moral crusader who praised Ted Kennedy as an “extraordinary leader” and Barney Frank as “a fierce advocate for the people of Massachusetts and Americans everywhere who needed a voice,” may indeed have been so indignant over Petraeus’s affair that he accepted his resignation with alacrity. On the other hand, maybe his willingness to see the last of Petraeus had something to do with the statement that the CIA issued on October 26: “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.”
This came after Fox News had reported that same day that “sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators twice to ‘stand down’ rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.”
But if it wasn’t Petraeus who ordered that no help be given to Ambassador Chris Stevens and his staff when jihadists attacked the embassy, the order would have had to come from someone who outranked even the director of the agency. Thus Petraeus’s denial that the order had come from him pointed the finger directly at Barack Obama. And while the mainstream media buried that fact before the election, probably the House Foreign Affairs Committee would have asked Petraeus just who did give the order.
For surely it was just a coincidence that Petraeus resigned on Thursday, the very same day that Fox News reported that the Foreign Affairs Committee was planning to call him to testify at their Benghazi hearings, along with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Surely that had nothing to do with Petraeus’s decision to submit his resignation. This couldn’t have had anything to do with his quitting. It is much more likely indeed that suddenly, just as the news that he was going to be summoned to testify came in to his office, Petraeus was overcome with remorse over his affair, and decided – although apparently the affair began some time ago, since there were rumors about it while he was still in Afghanistan – that Thursday was the day, right then and there, to come clean and resign his position.
The preposterousness of this scenario is obvious. And the convenience of the timing for Barack Obama cannot be overlooked. Now Petraeus will not be testifying at the House hearings, and so, barring a subpoena, the primary witness to who ordered the CIA to stand down in Benghazi has been removed.
The transparently flimsy justification given for the resignation is also troubling, reminiscent as it is of the charges that Stalin suddenly brought against his former friends and comrades in the Soviet Union of the 1930s, when overnight heroes of the revolution became hated class enemies. That a Democrat administration as socially to the Left as Obama’s would use a charge of adultery as an excuse to remove a hitherto respected public official already strains credulity well beyond the breaking point. It also has more than a whiff of totalitarian-style denunciations and purges. Will a show trial follow?
And the worst part of all this is that the election is over, the opposition to Obama is reeling and toothless, and clearly the man believes that he can behave this way without worrying about any accountability. And he is probably right.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

Reality doesn't need to win Electoral College

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
November 9, 2012

Amid the ruin and rubble of the grey morning after, it may seem in poor taste to do anything so vulgar as plug the new and stunningly topical paperback edition of my book, "After America" – or, as Dennis Miller retitled it on the radio the other day, "Wednesday." But the business of America is business, as Calvin Coolidge said long ago in an alternative universe, and I certainly could use a little. So I'm going to be vulgar and plug away. The central question of "Wednesday" – I mean, "After America" – is whether the Brokest Nation In History is capable of meaningful course correction. On Tuesday, the American people answered that question. The rest of the world will make its dispositions accordingly.

In the weeks ahead, Democrats and Republicans will reach a triumphant "bipartisan" deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" through some artful bookkeeping mechanism that postpones Taxmageddon for another year, or six months, or three, when they can reach yet another triumphant deal to postpone it yet again. Harry Reid has already announced that he wants to raise the debt ceiling – or, more accurately, lower the debt abyss – by $2.4 trillion before the end of the year, and no doubt we can look forward to a spectacular "bipartisan" agreement on that, too. It took the government of the United States two centuries to rack up its first trillion dollars in debt. Now Washington piles on another trillion every nine months. Forward!


If you add up the total debt – state, local, the works – every man, woman, and child in this country owes 200 grand (which is rather more than the average Greek does). Every American family owes about three-quarters of a million bucks, or about the budget deficit of Lichtenstein, which has the highest GDP per capita in the world. Which means that HRH Prince Hans-Adam II can afford it rather more easily than Bud and Cindy at 27b Elm Street. In 2009, the Democrats became the first government in the history of the planet to establish annual trillion-dollar deficits as a permanent feature of life. Before the end of Obama's second term, the federal debt alone will hit $20 trillion. That ought to have been the central fact of this election – that Americans are the brokest brokey-broke losers who ever lived, and it's time to do something about it.

My Hillsdale College comrade Paul Rahe, while accepting much of my thesis, thought that, as an effete milquetoast pantywaist sissified foreigner, I had missed a vital distinction. As he saw it, you can take the boy out of Canada but you can't take the Canada out of the boy. I had failed to appreciate that Americans were not Euro-Canadians, and would not go gently into the statist night. But, as I note in my book, "a determined state can change the character of a people in the space of a generation or two." Tuesday's results demonstrate that, as a whole, the American electorate is trending very Euro-Canadian. True, you still have butch T-shirts – "Don't Tread On Me," "These Colors Don't Run"... In my own state, where the Democrats ran the board on Election Night, the "Live Free Or Die" license plates look very nice when you see them all lined up in the parking lot of the Social Security office. But, in their view of the state and its largesse, there's nothing very exceptional about Americans, except that they're the last to get with the program. Barack Obama ran well to the left of Bill Clinton and John Kerry, and has been rewarded for it both by his party's victory and by the reflex urgings of the usual GOP experts that the Republican Party needs to "moderate" its brand.

I have no interest in the traditional straw clutching – oh, it was the weak candidate... hard to knock off an incumbent... next time we'll have a better GOTV operation in Colorado... I'm always struck, if one chances to be with a GOP insider when a new poll rolls off the wire, that their first reaction is to query whether it's of "likely" voters or merely "registered" voters. As the consultant class knows, registered voters skew more Democrat than likely voters, and polls of "all adults" skew more Democrat still. Hence the preoccupation with turnout models. In other words, if America had compulsory voting as Australia does, the Republicans would lose every time. In Oz, there's no turnout model, because everyone turns out. The turnout-model obsession is an implicit acknowledgment of an awkward truth – that, outside the voting booth, the default setting of American society is ever more liberal and statist.
The short version of electoral cycles is as follows: the low-turnout midterms are fought in political terms, and thus Republicans do well and sometimes spectacularly well (1994, 2010); the higher-turnout presidential elections are fought in broader cultural terms, and Republicans do poorly, because they've ceded most of the cultural space to the other side. What's more likely to determine the course of your nation's destiny? A narrow focus on robocalls in selected Florida and New Hampshire counties every other fall? Or determining how all the great questions are framed from the classroom to the iPod to the movie screen in the 729 days between elections?
The good news is that reality (to use a quaint expression) doesn't need to swing a couple of thousand soccer moms in northern Virginia. Reality doesn't need to crack 270 in the Electoral College. Reality can get 1.3 percent of the popular vote and still trump everything else. In the course of his first term, Obama increased the federal debt by just shy of $6 trillion and, in return, grew the economy by $905 billion. So, as Lance Roberts at Street Talk Live pointed out, in order to generate every $1 of economic growth the United States had to borrow about $5.60. There's no one out there on the planet – whether it's "the rich" or the Chinese – who can afford to carry on bankrolling that rate of return. According to one CBO analysis, US government spending is sustainable as long as the rest of the world is prepared to sink 19 percent of its GDP into U.S. Treasury debt. We already know the answer to that: In order to avoid the public humiliation of a failed bond auction, the U.S. Treasury sells 70 percent of the debt it issues to the Federal Reserve – which is to say the left hand of the U.S. government is borrowing money from the right hand of the U.S. government. It's government as a Nigerian email scam, with Ben Bernanke playing the role of the dictator's widow with $4 trillion under her bed that she's willing to wire to Timmy Geithner as soon as he sends her his bank account details.
If that's all a bit too technical, here's the gist: There's nothing holding the joint up.
So, Washington cannot be saved from itself. For the moment, tend to your state, and county, town and school district, and demonstrate the virtues of responsible self-government at the local level. Americans as a whole have joined the rest of the Western world in voting themselves a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. The longer any course correction is postponed the more convulsive it will be. Alas, on Tuesday, the electorate opted to defer it for another four years. I doubt they'll get that long.

Film Review: 'Skyfall'

Director Mendes Revives 007 withSkyfall, Stripping Excessive Novelties from Tired Franchise

Mr. Bond, we didn't recognize you with your clothes on
Craig and Bardem in Skyfall.
The big question the pessimists are asking about Skyfall, the 23rd entry in the James Bond franchise: Does 007 still have a license to keep an audience alert? The answer: And how! Some of the exhilaration faded when Sean Connery lost his hair and took a powder, but 50 years after Ian Fleming’s super-cool agent from Her Majesty’s Secret Service was shot from a cannon into movie history, Bond is back, and so is high-octane entertainment.
Skyfall may not reach the sophisticated heights of Casino Royale, but it’s better than the lollygagging Quantum of Solace.With buff, camera-ready Daniel Craig lending fresh fisticuffs to the role, and acclaimed director Sam Mendes adding more realism and fewer jokes than in most Bond pictures, it’s a satisfying entertainment that delivers a kangaroo kick from start to finish. Despite the less showy Saul Bass-inspired titles and a stupid theme song behind the credits screeched by Adele (“We will stand tall and face it all/You may have my number but you’ll never have my heart”) that reminds us all how much we owe to Shirley Bassey, Skyfallsignifies a new 007 style. The series is beyond gimmickry now. You just look at the toys, try to follow the plot and count the bikinis. But the best thing about Skyfall is the way it maximizes the great Judi Dench as M. It’s her best outing in the series to date, and she chews it like taffy. With six you get eggroll, but with vibrant, chromatic cinematography by Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redemption), anda distinguished assembly of supersonic talents headed by Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Albert Finney—you get box office platinum.
The film opens with the obligatory chase—007 wrecking an entire bazaar in Istanbul, scaling rooftops on a motorcycle and destroying as many civilians, buildings and moving vehicles as possible, cars that never run out of gasoline, on roads that never end, posing no threat to maintenance. Bond is knocked off the top of a speeding train into roaring rapids and plunges over a waterfall. When the dust settles, a plot emerges; M loses her computer hard-drive, and on it, a file containing the name of every NATO agent in the world’s terrorist zones. Hackers then unleash cyber attacks on secret service headquarters in London. Bond is believed dead, M is threatened with dismissal and the series seems in danger of grinding to a halt. When Bond resurfaces, M snarls through clenched teeth, “You know the rules of the game. You’ve been playing it long enough.” Which means no loyalty, no apologies and anything goes. While he was enjoying some badly needed R and R and taking a shower with sexy Bérénice Marlohe, the bombed-out secret service relocated its headquarters to an underground bunker used by Churchill during the Blitz. Bond’s unlikely new quartermaster is a wimpy fop named Q (Ben Whishaw) who dispatches him to Shanghai to locate and liquidate the thief who is using M’s files to destroy the world. The mega-villain is an epicene bottle-blond fiend played with exotic pansexual delight by Javier Bardem. A renegade agent who used to work for M, he’s droll, cynical and seductive. In the film’s funniest scene, he straps Bond to a chair, runs his hands lasciviously across his crotch and hisses “There’s a first time for everything.” Good ol’ 007, unfazed, counters with “How do you know it’s the first time?”
The movie moves from a casino in Macao, approachable only by boat and surrounded by giant man-eating Komodo dragons, to an endangered London tube station at rush hour, to a hunting lodge in Scotland where M gets a chance to show off some of her own operative training. Mr. Bardem munches a lot of whatever scenery is still standing and Dame Judi employs her icy blue eyes and matching steel reserve with terrifying authority. Bond is floppier and less buttoned-down than usual; he’s given up smoking, and the psychology of his traumatic background is explored for the first time. Bond relies less on naked girls and state-of-the-art gadgets than before, but as played by Daniel Craig, he’s both a teddy bear and as rugged as ever. So much so, in fact, that when his trusty old Aston Martin makes an appearance at last, the audience bursts into applause. Like the pieces of an elaborate jigsaw, everything falls perfectly into place, and there is overwhelming evidence that James Bond will rise again. Is there life after Skyfall? Stay tuned.
Running Time 143 minutes
Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan
Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Naomie Harris
Follow Rex Reed via RSS.

Basketball expectations trail girls volleyball players

By J. Mike Blake
The News & Observer
November 9, 2012

Ashley Battle and Maddie Plumlee have much in common.
Both come from families rich in basketball tradition. Both are standout high school athletes in the Triangle. Battle and Plumlee are tall, can leap high while maintaining excellent mid-air body control and with enough hand-eye coordination to defend against opponents’ shots.
Basketball is in their blood.
But not in their hearts.
Though both have made plans to play in the ACC, their love is volleyball, not basketball.
Battle, the daughter of former N.C. State basketball standouts and the sister of a college player; and Plumlee, the daughter of two former college basketball players and sister of three current and former Duke men’s players, face a pressure common to tall, athletic female athletes in this basketball-crazed state. Either play hoops or explain why you don’t.
In the past two years, it wasn’t uncommon for Battle to see teacher Sean Crocker, the Middle Creek football coach at the time, make a pitch to her to play basketball when she would run into him in the halls of the school. Crocker would make an a imaginary jump shot, then quizzically look at her. She would laugh. Battle was used to the sentiment.
Early direction
Battle and Plumlee, whose high school volleyball seasons just ended, decided early in life that volleyball was their game and they have gotten support from their families.
Ashley Battle’s father, Alvin, played on the 1983 N.C. State NCAA championship team. Her mother, Debbie, then known as Debbie Shugart, played for N.C. State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow.
But Alvin Battle directed his daughter away from basketball.
He started her in tennis, hoping to avoid competition between her and older sister Amber, who now plays basketball at Richmond.
“I did want to play (basketball) because my sister was playing,” said Ashley Battle, who is committed to play at Virginia Tech next year. Later, Alvin tried to see if Ashley was interested in basketball. “By then I was like ‘No, I don’t want to – at all.’ ”
The Duke connection
Maddie Plumlee’s brothers are Marshall, Mason and Miles Plumlee. By the time Marshall Plumlee graduates from Duke, the Plumlee name will have been associated with area men’s basketball for nearly a decade. Her father, Perky Plumlee, played basketball for Tennessee Tech. Leslie Plumlee, her mother, played for Purdue.
Maddie Plumlee, a junior at St. Mary’s who is committed to play volleyball at Notre Dame, will not be part of that basketball legacy and seemed to be born with a dislike of basketball.
“Every time we’d go in the gym, I wouldn’t even want to learn a layup. I would never even touch a basketball,” Maddie said.
She still recalls playing in a youth league. She had played well, but, “I came out to the car and I started bawling and my dad was like ‘What’s wrong? Did you get hurt?’ and I was like ‘It’s just so rude. I don’t want to play anymore!’ I’ve always been kind of a non-contact person.”
But she wanted to play sports, so she took up volleyball. Maddie Plumlee is one of the top players in the state.
“It wasn’t more about fulfilling the family tradition,” Maddie Plumlee said. “My parents were happy for me and so were my brothers that I had found something I loved.”
Coaching pressure
For those players who try to play both volleyball and basketball, the expectations of coaches can make the dual-sport road a hard one. Athletes may have four coaches – a club and high school coach for each sport – each with separate demands to meet.
Sometimes, it’s too much and athletes feel forced to make an either-or decision.
That was the case for Kristen Harris, a former N.C. high school volleyball player of the year at Apex who is now a sophomore at Elon.
Harris wanted to play basketball and volleyball. She started for the basketball team as a freshman, but knew her college future was in volleyball.
Harris says her high school basketball coach told her after that first season that she had to pick one or the other.
“He made me choose between high school basketball and what I wanted to pursue, which was volleyball. So obviously I chose volleyball,” Harris said. “It’s just a good experience to play multiple sports throughout high school. I wanted to continue playing. I just wouldn’t have had the same experience after he had given me the ultimatum.”
Former Cary Academy player Haleigh McFarland said she was squeezed out of basketball by her AAU coach.
“I loved it for a while, I really had a passion for it. Then I got with a (AAU) coach and all he did was push me to gain weight and try to get me stronger. I was 15 at the time and couldn’t gain weight,” she said. “It got to the point that I didn’t enjoy it anymore. I felt the pressure to get a scholarship and play in college was more important to my coaches and everyone than to actually have fun ... I quit.”
After her sophomore year at Cary Academy, where she started in both sports, she told her parents and coaches she was quitting hoops. It was hard for them to understand at first, though her parents and friends came to recognize what a chore it had become.
“I started playing volleyball to just have fun. ... and I immediately loved it,” she said. “Even looking back it now it just blows my mind that they put that much pressure on young people.”
One of the Triangle’s best volleyball-basketball athletes was Wakefield’s Katie Slay, now a junior at volleyball powerhouse Penn State. She played four years of volleyball and two of basketball.
The 6-foot-6 athlete, who coaches 12-year-olds
in club volleyball, has seen the pressure being put on young girls.
“I just hope that children are given the opportunity to play both sports and decide more for themselves rather than (receive) pressure from an outside source,” Slay said. “I think that’s why I’m so happy with my decision. Of course I got guidance from my parents and other adult role models in my life, but I think ultimately the decision to play volleyball or basketball came from me, so I can live easily with that.”
Where basketball rules
Basketball owns the region. Volleyball is closely associated with the West Coast.
“I think that in North Carolina, basketball is such a big deal that being around the Tar Heels, N.C. State and Duke, that more people attended the basketball games,” Slay said. “There were people who cared about volleyball too. But more people knew about a big basketball game, and I think that just came with the area.”
But for some, the sport is volleyball and despite the looming presence of hoops, it’s going to stay that way.
“Life is not all about fulfilling a certain perspective people have on you,” Plumlee said. “It’s something that I loved and I’m not going to be ashamed of it. I’m proud that I play volleyball and I’m proud that I have my family behind me to support it. People may not agree, but...”
Plumlee didn’t finish her thought. She didn’t have to. Every time she plays the game she loves, she makes her point.
Blake: 919-460-2606

The Way Forward

By Published: November 8

The Washington Post

They lose and immediately the chorus begins. Republicans must change or die. A rump party of white America, it must adapt to evolving demographics or forever be the minority.
The only part of this that is even partially true regards Hispanics. They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example).
The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back.
For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement.
I’ve always been of the “enforcement first” school, with the subsequent promise of legalization. I still think it’s the better policy. But many Hispanics fear that there will be nothing beyond enforcement. So, promise amnesty right up front. Secure the border with guaranteed legalization to follow on the day the four border-state governors affirm that illegal immigration has slowed to a trickle.
Imagine Marco Rubio advancing such a policy on the road to 2016. It would transform the landscape. He’d win the Hispanic vote. Yes, win it. A problem fixable with a single policy initiative is not structural. It is solvable.
The other part of the current lament is that the Republican Party consistently trails among blacks, young people and (unmarried) women. (Republicans are plus-7 among married women.) But this is not for reasons of culture, identity or even affinity. It is because these constituencies tend to be more politically liberal — and Republicans are the conservative party.
The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence.
Additionally, warn the doomsayers, Republicans must change not just ethnically but ideologically. Back to the center. Moderation above all!
More nonsense. Tuesday’s exit polls showed that by an eight-point margin (51-43), Americans believe that government does too much. And Republicans are the party of smaller government. Moreover, onrushing economic exigencies — crushing debtunsustainable entitlements — will make the argument for smaller government increasingly unassailable.
So, why give it up? Republicans lost the election not because they advanced a bad argument but because they advanced a good argument not well enough. Romney ran a solid campaign, but he is by nature a Northeastern moderate. He sincerely adopted the new conservatism but still spoke it as a second language.
More Ford ’76 than Reagan ’80, Romney is a transitional figure, both generationally and ideologically. Behind him, the party has an extraordinarily strong bench. In Congress — Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, (the incoming) Ted Cruz and others. And the governors — Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, plus former governor Jeb Bush and the soon-retiring Mitch Daniels. (Chris Christie is currently in rehab.)
They were all either a little too young or just not personally prepared to run in 2012. No longer. There may not be a Reagan among them, but this generation of rising leaders is philosophically rooted and politically fluent in the new constitutional conservatism.
Ignore the trimmers. There’s no need for radical change. The other party thinks it owns the demographic future — counter that in one stroke by fixing the Latino problem. Do not, however, abandon the party’s philosophical anchor. In a world where European social democracy is imploding before our eyes, the party of smaller, more modernized government owns the ideological future.
Romney is a good man who made the best argument he could, and nearly won. He would have made a superb chief executive, but he (like the Clinton machine) could not match Barack Obama in the darker arts of public persuasion.
The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism.
Republicans: No whimpering. No whining. No reinvention when none is needed. Do conservatism but do it better. There’s a whole generation of leaders ready to do just that.