Author Archives: Michael R Shannon

House GOP Doesn’t Listen Any Better than Walmart

New GOPOccasionally the wrong person takes a column to heart.

Earlier this month I wrote that Walmart doesn’t help its PR efforts when the company acts in a manner that only serves to reinforce its reputation as the Simon Legree of retail. (Details here.) In this instance an Ohio store had a display in the employee break room asking for donations to help other Walmart employees that had fallen on hard times during the Thanksgiving & Christmas season.

Asking employees who earn an average of $12.83/hour to contribute to other employees is a touching testimony to the innate decency of the Walmart workforce, but it also calls up unfortunate images of the widow’s mite particularly in comparison with the wealth of the Walton family.

The column concluded with a look at Walmart’s Associates in Critical Need Trust. This is a fund that dispenses up to $1,500 to employees suffering severe financial setbacks. (This does not include a bad losing streak in connection with the Powerball lottery.)

I liked the sound of that, until I learned that once again these donations are no skin off the Walton family’s stock certificates. This trust is funded by voluntary payroll deduction, again from the $12.83/hour employees.

And that’s when problems began at the Shannon household.

My wife announced that unless the Walton family stops being so selfish (they have $144 billion in Walmart stock) and makes a major contribution to the Trust we will be boycotting Walmart. Generally I have no problem with boycotts. It’s an individual decision that uses the market to bring pressure on a merchant. No government intervention required. Colonists did it during the run up to the Revolution.

For taste and political reasons, I never darken the door of Starbucks (homosexual marriage is “part of the corporate DNA”), Caribou Coffee (Sharia–compliant finance) or Chipotle (one of the nation’s leading employers of illegals).

On the other hand I’m also cheap, so I regularly shop at Walmart, in spite of linguistic encounters with Walmart employees that graphically illustrate what retail shopping is going to be like after John Boehner decides it’s safe to grant illegals amnesty.

The wife says Target is going to be the windfall beneficiary of Shannon shopping dollars in the future. But I have mixed emotions regarding that store, too. All too often in the Sunday advertising circular the clothes younger models wear contribute to the sexualization of tweenaged shoppers. Young girls are hard enough to shop for without major retailers urging them to dress like pint–sized Kim Kardashians.

This is not a problem encountered when viewing the frumpy models in a Walmart catalog. I don’t know for certain whom it is wearing those dowdy clothes, but most of them appear to be related to Fred and Ethel Mertz. Regardless of age there are no sex symbols in a Walmart catalog.

Besides the Target food section is mostly full of do–it–yourself yogurt mixes and it is about one third the size of Walmart’s. (Although, credit where credit is due, Target does carry Malt–O–Meal.) I do hate sneaking around behind my wife’s back. The fact that my future secret assignations are with a major retail chain and not a hoochie mama is probably a commentary on the dullness of my existence, but I plan to continue to visit Walmart.

On the other hand I won’t be visiting Republican members of the Virginia House delegation. Last week I wrote about the shameful Boehner/Ryan sellout they tried to spin as a “budget deal.” (Details here.) This capitulation raises taxes (fees), increases spending and negates the sequester.

Ryan is so proud of himself. The good congressman says he’s increased Pentagon spending by $2 billion, which means all the Coffee Colonels there can go back to using the Keurig instead of making do with Nescafe. In return for all this bounty Ryan agreed to let the Democrats increase their spending by $22 billion! That’s an 11 to 1 ratio and we’re on the short side.

GOP apologists talk about future spending cuts contained in the deal, but with these big spenders the cuts always remain in the future, just over the horizon, like a mirage.

You can’t bind a future Congress to a deal made today. Heck this Congress can’t even bind itself. Who do you think negotiated the original sequester?

Now Boehner is flush with positive MSM coverage and has declared war on the TEA party. He’s tired of having Obama hand him his hat, so the great strategist turns on his base. Now maybe Karl Rove will return his phone calls.

At times like this the favorite criticism of the TEA party centers on Senate candidates. The TEA party supported candidates that lost and that cost Republicans the Senate.

Establishment Republicans never foist a loser on the electorate. Just look at the great work being done by President Romney and Senator George Allen. Not to mention that paragon of tanning, Senator Charlie Crist from Florida. All these worthies are (or were, Crist became a Democrat this year) establishment Republicans with the full support of party elders.

The TEA party is not a monolithic closed structure resistant to outside ideas — wait that sounds like Boehner’s cabal — it’s a loosely affiliated collection of like–minded conservatives and tin foil distributors. (Just kidding.)

There is no national body that selects candidates. Local groups support local candidates.

The TEA party–backed candidate lost in Missouri because establishment Republicans in that state utilize a primary system that doesn’t have a runoff if no one gets 50 percent of the vote. That’s how Todd Akin becomes your nominee with fewer than 35 percent of the vote. Akin and his gynecological theories could have never won a runoff. The TEA party candidate would not have survived the primary if Missouri Republicans ran the party like Texas Republicans.

In Delaware, Christine O’Donnell was simply mislabeled. She would have had no problem winning as a Democrat. If Patty Murray of budget deal negotiating fame can win her first race running as “a mom in tennis shoes,” O’Donnell would have had few problems as “a mom who’s not a witch.”

Country club Republicans conveniently overlook the fact that TEA party energy is responsible for Boehner sitting in the Speaker’s chair today.

This wretched budget deal has now passed the Senate where Republicans with primary opponents voted against it as a sop to people like you and me. There was never a doubt as to House passage. If you want to see how your house member voted you can check here and here.

I’m sorry to say the deal passed with every GOP member from Virginia voting ‘yes.’ These Republicans are either too timid to vote conservative or they simply aren’t conservatives.

Regardless of the reason for their failure, I’ll be happily boycotting every one of these politicians until they’re out of office. No money and no votes from the Shannon household and I urge every conservative reading this to do likewise.

This is a boycott every conservative can get behind.

House GOP Has Nothing to Offer Conservatives

GOP surrenders principlesHere’s the situation: You’re in a high–stakes negotiation with an untrustworthy opponent. The opposition has violated every agreement the two of you have made in the past. Enforcement mechanisms are weak or non–existent.

In other areas of mutual interest your opponent regularly violates the law and dares you to do something about the violation. Your weak and vacillating leadership can’t be counted on in a pinch. And finally, the opposition lies shamelessly to the state media, doing its best to paint you as a fanatic and pathological liar.

So what do you do?

Bomb Iran is a good answer, but it’s not the answer for this question, because I’m talking about negotiating a budget deal with Democrats.

The Republican House leadership decision in this case was to sell out their conservative base in a brazen attempt to insure their own re–election at the expense of the nation’s fiscal future.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R–WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D–Sneakers) have presented us with a plan that shatters the spending ceiling that was the main result of the bruising sequester fight, dilutes the small budget cuts from the sequester and raises taxes (Ryan calls it a “fee” but if the feds get more money and it comes from our pockets it’s the same as a tax).

Ryan even has the gall to say the deal will balance the budget in ten years and sidestep the threat of government shutdowns in January and October 2014.

And those dates are what are really important for craven House negotiators. In fact, the real motivation for the deal is Ryan’s shutdown statement. House Republicans still think they suffered a near–death experience in the recent government shutdown. But instead of seeing Jesus and a bright light, they saw a Mayflower moving van and a bright white resume. For them if it’s a choice between selling out to the Democrats and losing their cushy Congressional job, sellout is just another word for job security.

The risk of a potential shutdown in January and October of an election year was simply too much uncertainty for these stalwarts to bear. So instead of simply passing a continuing resolution as has been done for the past few years and keeping the sequester savings, Ryan decided to remove all uncertainly and cave in this year.

Ryan and Speaker Boehner (R–Risible) think they can get away with this lie to conservatives because the result of increased federal spending and budget busting won’t have the personal impact on voters that Obama’s insurance lie had. You don’t get a letter from the government cancelling your future. You get a Chinaman repossessing the Washington monument.

The rationalization for this total surrender is threefold according to our betters: The agreement restores some defense spending reduced by the sequester, cuts the budget and brings the entire budget into balance in ten years.

Let’s start at the top. Ace negotiator Ryan was able to restore $2 billion in Pentagon spending next year in return for letting Democrats increase wasteful social spending by $ 22 BILLION! That’s a ratio of 11 to one in welfare to warfare spending.

The sequester was bad enough — defense took half the cuts, while social spending took the other half spread over countless pointless programs — but this disaster in multiplication makes that deal look positively prudent.

Second the budget cut. I admire Ryan’s poker face as he announced $26 billion in cuts over ten years. This means the federal government will be cutting $2.6 billion a year out of a budget that’s over $1 trillion! For comparison purposes, the city of Washington, DC spends more than $2.6 billion in four months. In 2012 the IRS issued $11 billion in fraudulent income tax refunds. In the same year the government wasted $95 billion in programs identified by the Government Accounting Office that duplicated other wasteful government programs.

In federal terms, Ryan’s $2.6 billion is pocket change.

Finally, the budget balances in ten years. This is not because spending will finally be brought in line with revenue, which is how individuals balance budgets. No, Ryan is hoping that federal tax revenues will grow enough through a recovering economy to finally match the spending right now. In the other nine years the deficit continues to pile up.

This is like a drunk driver careening the wrong way down the interstate hoping his blood will absorb enough of the booze for him to regain control before the car hits the bridge abutment.

David Stockman, Reagan’s budget director who saw firsthand how Republicans agreed to increase taxes for Democrat spending cuts that never came, says, “First, let’s be clear—it’s a joke and betrayal. It’s the final surrender of the House Republican leadership to Beltway politics and kicking the can and ignoring the budget monster that’s hurtling down the road.”

Earlier this week reporter Paul Kane of The Washington Post seemed confused that TEA party members were mounting challenges to incumbent Republican senators. The answer is simple; conservatives have no reason to support big government incumbentcrats, regardless of whether they are Senators or Congressmen. Keeping the likes of Boehner or Ryan or Orrin Hatch in office is not the be all and end all of our existence. If nothing else even an unsuccessful primary can be a wakeup call for these whited sepulchers.

Why fight for them if they won’t fight for us? Why waste the gas necessary to drive to the polls to vote for these weaklings?

The only difference between these Republicans and Nancy Pelosi is we go broke slower and there’s a slim chance we won’t have to attend a same–sex marriage ceremony to qualify for Social Security benefits.

Retreating to a compound in Idaho is looking better and better. And since Janet Reno is no longer attorney general, we might even survive until the Chinese foreclose.

Walmart Encourages Grinch Accusations

WalMart NerdWalmart is a corporation that generates strong opinion. Unions — and their wholly–owned subsidiary the Democrat Party — view Walmart as a rapacious corporation run by brutal overseers whose overriding goal is exploiting the working class.

Many Republican officeholders view Walmart as a corporation run by a bunch of cheap so–and–sos who won’t make large campaign contributions and hire refugees from the Clinton administration.

Unions hold annual protests just prior to Black Friday and attempt to convince millions of shoppers that the largest private employer in the US might have low prices, but it’s only because the corporation harvests employee organs to sell on the black market.

The protests are held nationwide and union employees, rented homeless and liberal voyeurs demand the corporation pay full–time employees a minimum of $25,000 per year. Democrat officeholders show solidarity by attempting to pick the corporation’s pocket with minimum wage laws that give government the power to tell business how much employees should be paid, without government having any responsibility for the bottom line.

It’s vote buying through extortion.

In the Nanny’s Republic of Washington, DC animosity toward Walmart was so high the city council passed a bill amusingly titled the Large Retailer Accountability Act. (I wait in vain for the Bad Leftist Ideas Accountability Act.) The bill would’ve required Walmart to pay 50 percent more than the city’s current minimum wage. In fact the amount was more than the minimum wage the DC government pays its employees!

Fortunately for Walmart shoppers, the mayor vetoed the bill.

So one might ask at a time when Walmart is viewed as a penny–pinching, soulless exploiter of the down–trodden, why would a store manager in Canton, OH arrange a crèche of plastic bins in the breakroom with a sign that read: “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.” I suppose it beats letting them dumpster dive, but the optics are bad.

When it comes time for the 2013 Bad Public Relations Ideas nominations, this will be hard to beat. Why not invite Occupy Wall Street to provide entertainment at the next stockholder’s meeting?

This only feeds the narrative of Grinch–like exploitation that the MSM, unions and Democrats work so hard to tattoo on Walmart’s corporate hide.

Even regular Walmart shoppers have mixed emotions. Just thinking about it conjures up associations with domestic drama in the parking lot, unfortunate fashion choices and dangerously high customer BMI.

Who hasn’t experienced that all too common Walmart shopping experience? You can’t find the item you want and you can’t find an employee to direct you to it. (I just assume all the on–duty workers are either manning the cash register or in back passing the hat.)

Even cemeteries have a higher ratio of employees to customers than your average Walmart store.

Which brings us back to: When there is such a cultural divide in opinion regarding your business, why do something that reinforces the negative side?

In fairness to the manager, the charity display was in the employees–only section and not outside next to the Salvation Army kettle, but regardless of location once the media becomes aware the damage is done.

And sure enough, anti–Walmart organizer Norma Mills, quoted on Cleveland.com, observes, “That Walmart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers — to me, it is a moral outrage.”

When you compare this to Walmart’s profit in 2012, $17 billion, and the net worth of the Walton family, $144 billion, even the most dedicated shopper can’t help but wonder why the company can’t toss a turkey leg to deserving employees.

Unfortunately, the majority of that profit has been used in recent years to buy back Walmart stock, which is essentially financial onanism that creates nothing and only serves to enhance the value of stock the Walton family owns.

The WaPost had a story about a woman and her daughter who were struggling and homeless much of the time. The Post, as usual, ignores the choice the woman made that created the problem: having an out–of–wedlock child, a sure path to poverty. (This by the way is not blaming the victim. The victim is the child and none of it’s her fault.)

After that bad decision, the woman worked hard to turn her life around. She finally landed a job with the YMCA and found an apartment she could afford on her salary, but she couldn’t save enough for the security deposit.

Management at the Y heard about her problem and instead of asking the towel boys to hold a car wash for her, the Y gave the woman a salary advance and she got the apartment.

In the Cleveland.com story, spokesperson Kory Lundberg defends the company. “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships.” But that is not completely true. It is part of employee culture, not management culture.

According to Lundberg the company has a program called the Associates in Critical Need Trust. Walmart workers can receive grants of up to $1,500.00 to “address hardships they may encounter, including homelessness, serious medical illnesses and major repairs to primary vehicles. Since 2001, grants totaling $80 million have been made.”

Here’s the problem: Walmart takes credit for the charity and the concern, but it’s paid for by payroll deductions from the workers. Walmart needs to stop dunning employees for this money. The corporation should provide all the funding.

That way the company is really buying into Lundberg’s “culture.”

It is simply good business practice for management to demonstrate real concern for the staff. Putting the corporation’s money where the corporate mouthpiece is will go a long way toward blunting future attacks on the company. And that will help everyone — management, employees and stockholders.

Lies. Damned Lies. And Obamacare Statistics

Carnac: The software that knows what you want to spend before you spend it.

Carnac: The software that knows what you want to spend before you spend it.

The latest batch of October statistics from the Obama White House credits me with buying a Mercedes, BMW and an Audi. And the best part is it didn’t cost me a dime! All I did was take three test drives and here I am: A GDP–generating fool.

This flexible interpretation of window–shopping and tire–kicking has great potential for the future. I’m thinking about taking credit for job creation when I get a haircut or have my car washed. With just a bit more attention to my personal appearance I could find states competing to offer me subsidies and tax breaks like Terry McAuliffe got from Mississippi.

And wouldn’t you know it, this conceptual breakthrough started with Obamacare and the HealthCare.dud website.

Some of my conservative colleagues complained when Obama minions began counting people who only visited the HealthCare.dud website and selected a plan, but didn’t pay for it as Official Obamacare Enrollees. These stalwarts contend that until the victim has actually paid for the plan there is no sale and consequently no enrollment, regardless of how much they need the insurance or how many hours they wasted on the website.

What’s more, if we let Obama get away with this, soon people who only thought about health insurance would be counted as part of the system.

The private sector equivalent of this new White House statistical interpretation would be Amazon.com counting items still on shopper’s ‘wish lists’ as being revenue generating sales; and then releasing the information to Wall Street so as to drive up the stock price.

Since he’s not president, the result would be Jeff Bezos facing charges, while Obama merely faces a hostile — make that mildly annoyed — press corps that is having trouble coming up with new excuses for the president’s failures.

The conservative objection, while true, misses the larger point. Based on the Phantom Obamacare Enrollee Precedent, when I buy my 2013 copy of TurboTax and fill out the form, I should be counted as having paid my taxes without sending the IRS a check!

I call it my own private sequester. And when you consider how the number of people who take more from the government than they pay in taxes is increasing, it finally puts me on the right side of history.

The Obamacare rollout — or ground out, if you prefer — does have implications for Obama’s future after the White House. If he’s as smart as the MSM assures us, Obama will steer clear of the private sector. That’s because if he tried the same marketing tactics outside of government, he would be subject to fines and possibly jail time.

As Orson Swindle, a Federal Trade Commission member from 1997 to 2005, pointed out in the National Review the HealthCare.dud website is deceptive, misleading and illegal. Jay Carney’s “wild west” indeed.

You may recall a recent furor over airline websites that were allegedly hiding baggage and other add–on fees until just before the consumer purchased the ticket. “Consumer advocates” and other busybodies complained that by waiting until the end of the purchase process to give the consumer a total price, airlines were trying to pull a fast one.

Airlines responded that where else would you give a total price unless it was at the end of the purchase process?

And besides the Carnac the Magnificent software was not ready for launch. Protests fell on deaf government ears and the FTC required the websites to be reprogrammed to sound a klaxon and flash red lights every time a consumer made a choice that would add more than a nickel to the ticket price.

Soon shopping for a big–ticket airfare came to resemble crash–diving in a submarine.

Yet the HealthCare.dud site is programmed to hide any cost information until after the consumer has created an account and been forced to divulge detailed financial information. And even then the information is purposely inaccurate.

As Swindle says, quoting CBS News, “HealthCare.gov contains a pricing feature that tends to “dramatically underestimate” the cost of insurance. The website’s “shop and browse” feature divides users into two broad age categories: “49 or under” and “50 or older.” Price estimates for the first age group are based on what a 27-year-old could expect to pay, whereas as the latter group’s price estimates are based on what a 50-year-old would pay, a practice that inevitably produces wildly misleading results for individuals significantly older than the base age. In some cases, actual premiums are nearly double the projected amount.”

Swindle concludes, “The bottom line is that no private entity would be allowed to get away with what the Obama administration is trying to get away with.”

And we haven’t even mentioned the “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it” shuffle.

The bad news is we have conservative busybodies, too. Rep. Fred Upton (R–MI) — descendant of Civil War hero Gen. Emory Upton — passed a bill in the House to allow insurers to continue to sell policies that the feds have canceled. What’s more, Upton persuaded 39 Democrats to join him in supporting this “bi–partisan” legislation. (Unfortunately for comity in the House, the bill must have passed on the weekend, because I don’t remember any praise for Upton from the MSM for reaching across the aisle to garner Democrat support.)

Too bad this is exactly the wrong thing to do.

If we are to rid ourselves of this Obamacare monstrosity, it will only come after the pressure on Democrats is so great they beg for political mercy. And that will only happen after all those who didn’t take time to read the law, feel the impact of the law.

Interim fix–its to reduce the pain undermine what should be conservative’s long term goal, which is end it, not mend it.

A Successful Script for Prolife Republicans

'War on Women' attacks on GOP candidates aren't going away any time soon.

‘War on Women’ attacks on GOP candidates aren’t going away any time soon.

Virginia voters decided after much deliberation that they would rather be ruled by a sleazebag than a puritan. And if Ken Cuccinelli needed any more proof that he should have run for re–election as attorney general — something he promised initially — Tuesday’s election results should have provided it.

Cuccinelli had a number of problems that hampered his campaign (outlined here). But the biggest problems he had were caused by Ken Cuccinelli. First he fell into the “new best friend” trap and took gifts from Star Scientific’s Jonnie Williams, a man whose ethical profile is much like that of our new governor, Terry McAuliffe.

Second, Cuccinelli used the “duck and cover” method of responding to McAuliffe’s obsession with abortion and activities involving female private parts.

Marjorie Dannenfelser — President of the Susan B. Anthony Lists — calculates that McAuliffe blasted Cuccinelli with 5,600 negative commercials on abortion and contraception. Talk about a campaign obsessed with social issues!

The attacks ranged from “Cuccinelli will force you to have the baby after a crazed member of the TEA party rapes you” to “Crazy Ken wants to melt all your rubbers.”

Cuccinelli’s response was much like that of the Obama Administration last year on 9/11 in Libya: He pretended nothing was happening while the campaign burned down around him.

I’ve got news for Republicans. This ‘War on Women’ attack is going to be a staple of Democrat campaigns as long as Amnesty; Abortion & Alternate Lifestyles are the three main planks of the party platform. Duck and cover would not have worked during nuclear attack in the 60’s and it won’t work under pubic attack now.

GOP candidates must either meet and defeat this tactic or at the very least blunt its impact.

I’m a media consultant and I hate to write commercials for free — somehow it feels like I’m betraying capitalism — but this is a script Cuccinelli could have used to counter McAuliffe’s negative ads.

The production would be simple and straightforward, as befits a serious topic. Cuccinelli should deliver the message himself looking straight to camera (this time memorizing his lines, which he evidently didn’t do for most of his commercials). The set should not be distracting, but he needs a light package that doesn’t make him look like he needs a transfusion. His tone begins by dismissing one of the McAuliffe attacks and then concludes with a serious defense of life.

 

(KEN CUCCINELLI) HI, I’M KEN CUCCINELLI AND I’D LIKE TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT.

TERRY MCAULIFFE AND HIS SUPPORTERS ARE NOT TELLING THE TRUTH WHEN THEY SAY I WANT TO BAN CONTRACEPTION. MY WIFE, TEIRO AND I HAVE SEVEN CHILDREN. I’VE HEARD THERE ARE OTHER FAMILIES IN VIRGINIA WITH FEWER AND EVEN SOME WITH NO CHILDREN. AND THAT’S FINE WITH ME.

WHEN A COUPLE USES CONTRACEPTION IT’S THEIR CHOICE AND NONE OF GOVERNMENT’S BUSINESS.

BUT ABORTING A PREGNANCY IS ANOTHER MATTER. I BELIEVE THAT LIFE IS PRECIOUS AND JUST AS GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT INTERFERE WITH CONTRACEPTION, IT ALSO SHOULD NOT ENCOURAGE ABORTION.

BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW OFTEN MY OPPONENT TALKs ABOUT HEALTH AND DOCTORS AND ‘CHOICE,’ THE FACT IS ABORTION IS NOT ABOUT REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH; IT’S ABOUT ENDING A LIFE BEFORE IT HAS A CHANCE TO BEGIN.

I THINK THAT’S A TRAGEDY FOR BOTH THE MOTHER AND THE UNBORN CHILD. YOU MAY NOT AGREE AND YOU ARE CERTAINLY FREE TO VOTE FOR MY OPPONENT. BUT PLEASE, DON’T DO IT BASED ON HIS DISTORTIONS AND EXAGGERATIONS.

 

It may not be the perfect :60 script, but I would nominate it for the perfect free script. After the shooting is done the campaign puts the commercial on cable TV, where the rates are lower and you can afford to run :60s. Then the spot runs until the campaign is over. It answers the McAuliffe mudslinging without being hysterical.

Responding in this manner does bring up a topic that a large portion of the electorate opposes. And some consultants are simply uncomfortable with the subject.

But the abortion–obsessed aren’t going to vote for Cuccinelli anyway, and answering the topic beats hoping it will go away. The commercial is designed to persuade the “moderates” and independents that Ken isn’t Cotton Mather in a poplin suit. Moving the opposition from “OMG he wants to take us back to colonial times!” to simply disagreeing with Cuccinelli is a giant step that was not taken this campaign.

And it certainly beats the Cuccinelli strategy of not answering the attack at all or using women in tangential ads to prove Republicans are as good at showcasing tokens as the Democrats.

If Christian conservatives are interested in winning they are going to have to address these attacks forcefully and change the debate. As Robert Knight wrote this week, “Ever since the GOP-controlled Virginia legislature in 2012 passed a law requiring abortionists to give women ultrasound imaging before an abortion, Democrats have had a field day accusing Republicans of being “extremists” who want to force women to have “transvaginal ultrasounds.” The Democrats are fine, of course, with “transvaginal abortions.”

If we don’t change the context we can’t hope to change the culture.

The Few, The Proud, The Unisex

Crisp Pullman Porters CapWhen Ronald Reagan was president he described members of the U.S. Marine Corps in a memorable phrase that is featured on the Marines’ Heritage Museum website: “Some people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.”

The generation of paper–pushers and PR–minded behind–kissers that inhabit the Pentagon and the Obama administration do not reflect that view of the Corps. In fact the levelers in the White House view the Marines’ independence and combative nature as a problem. All that aggression and testosterone looks out of place in the elite circles where citizens of the world reside.

Modern military management (they don’t deserve the term ‘leaders’) has been taken over by the “everybody gets a trophy” crowd. That’s why in the Army all soldiers now wear a beret, instead of just Rangers and Special Forces. Chelsea Manning’s feelings were hurt when he couldn’t wear a fashionable French–style chapeau. No need to recognize the additional motivation of troops that go the extra mile if it discriminates against those who don’t or can’t. Now it’s Bless Them All the “big and the fat and the small.”

But while other branches of the armed forces are marching in lockstep to the administration’s tune of women on the front lines, the Marines are fighting a rear guard action. The Corps has been reluctant to lower physical standards for combat soldiers (in bureaucrat–speak this degradation of standards is called “gender norming,” too bad wars are not also “gender normed”).

In fact, every woman that has ever been allowed to attend the Marine’s infantry school has washed out. In the long run, unless there is an outbreak of sanity, this means Marine commanders will have to justify why their standards are keeping women out of the front lines. The fact women have no business there is irrelevant to Pentagon sociologists who have never had a bullet whizz past their ear. It’s inevitable that eventually women will fill combat slots in the Marines.

That’s a long–term project though. In the short term the empire strikes back where it’s been successful before. As the New York Post puts it, “Obama wants Marines to wear ‘girly’ hats.”

According to the Post, the Obama administration wants to “create a ‘unisex’ look for the Corps.” The plan is for the Corps to discontinue the current caps — known as “covers” and in use since 1922 — and go to a new cap that bears a remarkable resemblance to a Pullman Porter’s cap.

This is not to disparage Pullman Porters. They set a standard for service and dedication, but they didn’t do it under fire.

This similarity between hats could be an unexpected advantage for the taxpayer. Since changing to the new headgear will cost $8 million, its possible some of the expense could be covered by civilians who mistakenly tip Marines after asking for help with their luggage.

As poster Carol Robinson on the Post site commented, “Now the Marines look like WACS [WWII Women’s Army Corps]. This is stupid and a waste of money.”

This imperial hat edict is actually the second time the Marines have been asked to alter their appearance so they would appear less warlike to outsiders.

Marine Corps lore has it that during the early weeks of the Korean War, Communist troops received the following command: “Do not attack the First Marine Division. Leave the yellowlegs alone. Strike the American Army.”

Immediately Marines were ordered to no longer wear their khaki leggings, which was the cause of the “yellowlegs” description, so the Army would not have to bear the brunt of the fighting alone. The Korean War proceeded with the Marines getting their fair share of attacks.

It must be comforting for America’s enemies to know how worried the Obama Administration is about the difference in appearance between male and female Marines. I fear Obama may also start agitating for the Marines to remove the ‘blood stripe’ from their uniform pants, since it may have unfortunate associations for him due to his own “red line” problem.

But who knows, maybe it’s time for the tradition–bound Corps to embrace change and become a softer, gentler Marine Corps.

In a spirit of cooperation (or fighting withdrawal, if you will) the Corps could even alter the lyrics of the Marine Hymn to something like:

From the halls of Montezuma,

To Barack’s haberdashery.

We will fight our country’s battles,

In this cute accessory.

First to fight for right and freedom,

We will keep this cover clean.

Even though it’s true Obama,

Could have never made Marine.

Why Changing Demographics Mean More Democrats

spyonme1They always shoot the messenger. Even when he’s being optimistic.

And Mitt Romney was optimistic when he said only 47 percent of the potential electorate wouldn’t vote for him because they were dependent on the government. The actual Census Bureau figures are much worse.

The bureau reports 49.2 percent of your fellow citizens received some type of benefit from one or more government programs. A more accurate term would be ‘residents’ since when bureaucrats display their compassion by distributing your money, a lack of documentation is seldom an obstacle. These particular recipients are not conservative, small government voters. They constitute a large portion of the Democrat base.

People in the US that receive means–tested government benefits actually outnumber the people who worked fulltime in 2011. In the fourth quarter of 2011, 108,592,000 individuals were on the receiving end of federal goodies compared with only 101,760,000 working fulltime.

This is a catastrophic situation for supporters of conservative, small government and it threatens to undermine the nation’s social fabric. Possibly you feel sorry for these unfortunates, at least the ones that don’t loot Walmart when the food stamp verification system crashes. But they don’t return the favor.

Our current situation is the equivalent of enjoying a business dinner at a popular restaurant. At the conclusion of the meal other diners, waiters, valet parkers, kitchen staff and the hostess look at the remnants of your prime rib repast and vote to have you pay for everyone eating dinner that evening and add a 25 percent tip to the bill.

(I know some of you parents are thinking, “Hey! That’s exactly what happened to me when my daughter got married!” But these are strangers sucking you dry, not relatives.)

Or you go to the doctor’s office and while you sit in the waiting room, the other patients notice your elegant topcoat and they vote to have you foot the bill for everyone’s treatment that day.

Farfetched? Unrealistic? A similar scenario takes place every Election Day when people who are essentially wards of the state vote for politicians who tell you to foot the bill for the ward’s benefits. Please don’t bore me with “but these people pay taxes, too.” Paying sales tax with taxpayer’s money is hardly “paying taxes.” It’s closer to an inefficient form of recycling.

Although these recipients are the vast bulk of the Democrat base, they are not alone. The big government base (BGB) also includes federal, state and local government employees; government contractors, grant recipients and the non–profit sector.

Here’s how the numbers break out:

20,269,000 total government workers

13,700,000 non–profit workers

4,400,000 government contractors

100,000,000 enrolled in one of 80 different and overlapping “means–tested” welfare programs                            (this figure does not include Social Security or Medicare recipients)

         TOTAL BGB: 138,369,000 individuals

In fact the federal government alone employs more people than the top ten private sector employers combined! Federal: 18,000,000 (not counting military) Vs. 5,677,046 for General Electric, Hewlett–Packard, Home Depot, Kroger, Target, UPS, IBM, McDonald’s, Yum! Brands and Walmart.

Factor in another 9,000,000 or so formerly illegal voters after “immigration reform” and we are well on our way to Argentina.

This goes a long way toward explaining Obama’s re–election.

Of course not all the 100,000,000 welfare recipients are voting age and not all government workers and contractors pull the Democrat lever. I know of patriotic government employees and contractors that put the good of the country before their own economic interests and I say God bless them.

Unfortunately, those stalwart individuals are more than offset by working Americans under the delusion Democrats favor the middle class. And don’t forget the workforce also includes moles that work for MSNBC and other propaganda arms of the BGB, along with private university professors and other assorted leftists.

This is why it doesn’t matter that the Obamacare website cost $500 million in hard–earned tax dollars and Chinese renminbi. That’s more than Facebook spent in six full years according to reporter Andrew Couts.

But aside from the embarrassment, no one in the BGB cares. Their criteria for success is not does the website work, is the program efficient or are we using tax dollars wisely. The BGB measure of success is: Did I get my check and did it cash?

Voters living on Uncle Sam’s dime are not going to be voting to downsize government. BGB economics are based on the existence of a money tree, possibly growing in China.

The Chinese and our other creditors would be the greatest gift to conservatives since Ronald Reagan if they simply refused to lend the Uncle Sam any more money. Limiting federal borrowing will limit the size of the federal government. Even our rapacious leftists couldn’t tax their way out of that hole.

Unless the size of the government shrinks — and that includes benefits — there is no hope for avoiding soft socialism in our future. And — judging by the number of government agencies that have their own SWAT teams — maybe not so soft at that.

There are principled conservatives in office who refuse to vote to increase spending without a corresponding cut to balance the total. That’s fine, but it’s not enough. They must also refuse to add to the number of government employees or contractors without a corresponding reduction in force in another part of government.

Otherwise potential death spirals won’t be limited to Obamacare.

How Advice from Three Frenchmen Could Have Won the Shutdown Battle

Don't let the floppy hats fool you. The Three Musketeers could have helped during the Shutdown fight.

Don’t let the floppy hats fool you. The Three Musketeers could have helped during the Shutdown fight.

Speaker John Boehner is the Adm. Karl Dönitz of Republican politics. Hemmed in on one side by the pounding batteries of the Mainstream Media and on the other by a mob of howling leftists eager to send him to a self–criticism session on MSNBC — Boehner desperately tries to negotiate a surrender to Supreme Commander Obama that will leave him with a shred of dignity and continued access to the Congressional tanning bed.

What really sticks in Boehner’s craw is the realization he’s going to be stuck with the blame for the shutdown defeat! He warned the caucus what would happen if they followed a strategy designed by crazy people. But no, they were intoxicated by the crowds at the rallies and stem–winders on the Senate floor. Victory was at hand!

Yet now the loonies are out of the picture and here Boehner sits in the ruins of the Shutdown Bunker wondering if Harry Reid will allow him to smoke at the signing ceremony.

That’s what Boehner gets for trying to fight a two–front war. The struggle over Obamacare should have been either the continuing resolution shutdown or the debt ceiling. Not a bizarre push–me­—pull–you that blurred the two issues and made the public think the country hitched a ride with Thelma & Louise.

Giving credit where credit is due, Boehner started out well. The House GOP passed the initial continuing resolution with everything funded but Obamacare and sent the bill to the Senate where is disappeared like it was term limits legislation. So the government was at impasse.

It’s possible that if Boehner had donned a turban and started enriching uranium, Obama would have agreed to negotiate with him, but there wasn’t enough time to install the necessary number of centrifuges in the Rayburn office building.

During past shutdowns our leaders attempted to limit the inconvenience. This was a policy the Obama Administration could not afford to follow, as I pointed out last week, because after losing the sequester a painless shutdown would help make the case for even smaller government.

That’s why the Spite House made sure this shutdown hurt as many civilian bystanders as possible. Collateral damage was the order of the day. In total disregard of negative publicity Obama used his human drones in the Park Police to close the WWII monument, national parks, private businesses, roads, athletic fields and anything else they could get away with.

It drove Obama’s approval rating down to Jimmy Carter Land at 37 percent, which is an all time low for the light bringer. Yet he held firm, ironically enough employing the Nixon “madman” strategy. As Nixon once said, “I call it the Madman Theory… I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, “for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry—and he has his hand on the nuclear button.”

The only difference is Obama — totally lacking a foreign policy — uses the Madman theory to intimidate his Republican domestic opposition. It’s remarkable that a fellow who wears mom jeans and would probably have trouble bench-pressing a juice box, is so eager to roll the dice when other’s futures are at stake.

So as the nation’s busy borrowers at the Treasury threatened to crash into an unyielding debt ceiling, Boehner was genuinely worried that Madman Barack might actually cause the country to default, if it meant he would win the confrontation.

So Boehner blinked and surrendered.

Here is where the Frenchmen could have provided the margin of victory.

If only Boehner had employed the Three Musketeer Strategy the county and the GOP would have won in the long run. The Three Musketeer’s motto was: One for All & All for One.

Instead of allowing craven porkmeister Sen. Mitch McConnell (R–I’m not for sale, but I rent cheap) to seize the agenda and pass a combination government funding and debt ceiling agreement, Boehner should have had the House pass a bill that did that AND required everyone, every company and every member of Congress and their staff to submit to Obamacare this year without any waivers.

One for All & All for One; with the “All” in this instance being Obamacare. That way the fight is still about Obama’s signature bill, the one he shut down the government to save, but in a brilliant bit of political ju–jitsu his bill is turned against him.

Making the entire country suffer under the full Obamacare this year would have resulted in a disaster at the polls for Democrats in 2014. What’s more, the administration knows it, which is why it exempted employers from the mandate until AFTER the election.

Even better the Three Musketeer bill has the virtue of simplicity: all the money and all the Obamacare. With only two elements the MSM could not bury coverage of the Obamacare waiver removal, as it buried Obama’s plunging poll ratings. (Most poll stories trumpeted declining GOP ratings in the headlines and only mentioned the new low for Obama as a passing aside.)

A Three Musketeers bill would have been a poison pill for the administration. Signing it means a disaster at the polls next year. Not signing it and defaulting because Republicans were too bi–partisan and Obama didn’t want his signature bill to take effect for everyone would be a PR disaster even the MSM could not ignore. And Democrats would still face a wipeout in 2014. All victory would have required was for Boehner to hold fast regardless of Obama’s choice.

If the signature bill of the president is so good for the country, as the MSM claims, then Republicans should have done their best to make sure the nation gets it, as H. L. Mencken used to say, “good and hard.” After all, what’s wrong with using “settled law” to unsettle the populace?

Government Has Met the Enemy & It Is Us

Taxpayers sent to back of the bus as feds barricade MLK monument.

Taxpayers sent to back of the bus as feds barricade MLK monument.

Americans are learning to their great surprise that Smokey the Bear has big, sharp teeth.

Formerly warm and cuddly branches of government — the Park Service, Forest Service and other granola–based management teams — have suddenly turned on innocent taxpayers who only wanted to scratch behind their ears.

You’re no doubt familiar with the WWII veterans who removed barriers the US Park Police erected to block the formerly law enforcement–free WWII Monument on the Mall. (Best sign of the Shutdown: “Normandy was closed when we got there, too.”) But that’s only one of many incidents.

The Washington Post interviewed a visitor from San Antonio who “expressed indignation at the petty ways that officials prevented people from enjoying national landmarks.” Her family had no problem looking at the cemetery itself since putting barriers in front of each tombstone was too much for even Smokey Bear. But they were unable to peek inside Arlington House because “they put black plastic in the windows so we couldn’t look in.”

If the reporter could have found a spokesperson not literally manning the barricades, I’m sure the response would have been the plastic was simply part of the annual preparations for the ‘Old Virginny Haunted House of Slavery’ that takes place in the mansion every October.

(SEEMarse’ Robert with blood on his hands! GASP as Stonewall Jackson sleeps during Christian services, dreaming of denying women the right to fight on the front line! SCREAM as Virginia terrorist Col. John Mosby provides inspiration for modern TEA party insurgents while he works for a TOTAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN!)

Any intimation that plastic–covered windows are a Glad bag thumb in the eye to conservatives is simply more delusional ranting from a party on Cruz control.

As the shutdown continues it’s obvious there is an air of desperation surrounding this whole petty, vindictive exercise on the part of the Obama Administration. The illegality, over reaction and simply hateful response of “public servants” to the actual public is so obvious even the media can no longer ignore it.

The question is why the federal tantrum? The answer is the Spite House (thank you Michelle Malkin) can’t afford to lose this fight like they did the sequester. Instead of being “the end of life as we knew it,” the sequester has become an accepted fact of life. Sequester was designed to be so destructive to defense that responsible Republicans would rescue the Pentagon, even if it meant more deficit spending on social programs.

The calculation failed. Setting a spending cut precedent was so important Republicans decided the 2,666 miles separating China from the USA would have to defend the country for now. In the event of a Chinese invasion, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D–LaRaza) would remove any hostile intent by putting them on the fast track to citizenship.

Budget talks now start with the sequester cuts as the baseline, and not an extraordinary one–time nick to the budget. Obamacrats can’t risk the public leaning they can function without 100 percent of the federal government.

Which is why duplicitous, politically motivated “public servants” are working hand–in–hand with the White House to provide the maximum inconvenience with the least blame for the administration. A painless 5 percent sequester, followed by a 17 percent government shutdown that isn’t a disaster for someone might create a climate where rolling back the size of government becomes a reality.

Hence the no–knock shutdowns. The Washington Times found Bruce O’Connell, the owner of the Pisgah Inn located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, fighting the arbitrary shutdown of his business. According to the story, “O’Connell said his workers are not federal employees, and his fire, police and rescue services all come from the county, so he isn’t drawing any federal funds.”

Uncle Sam’s only role before the shutdown was taking money from him in the form of fees. In the light of the nation’s budget situation, staying open would make money and possibly prevent that sequester–enabled Chinese invasion. Instead Obama spends money to prevent income after O’Connell refused to close. That act of defiance won him a visit from park rangers who were suddenly stationed in his driveway turning away paying customers.

Under the rule of law, as opposed to the rule of bureaucratic whim, if the Park Service thought it had the authority to close the inn it would have requested an injunction from a federal judge. O’Connell’s failure to close is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. There is no threat to public safety, only a threat to Big Government collectivists. Since time and the law were not on its side, the Obama administration used implied force to perform an arbitrary seizure.

Here in the Washington area, our rulers dispatched Park Police to close Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. Once again the facts don’t support federal action. Mount Vernon is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, the only investment the Park Service has is shared ownership of a parking lot.

The service could have posted a sign on their half of the lot warning drivers to park at their own risk and beware of paint chips stirred up by passing motorists. Instead the Park Service closed the entire facility, which is simply illegal, until the doughty Ladies Association fought back and reopened.

The feds tried the same shuffle with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, instructing him to close several parks. Gov. Walker not only refused to close any parks, he also ordered state officials to remove barricades the feds had installed to prevent taxpayers from using their own facilities.

(This act of courage could backfire, as federal memories are long. If Wisconsin some time in the future suffers a hurricane or the glaciers return I predict federal response will be very slow.)

Walker has the advantage of controlling his own law enforcement resources and in a pinch, the Wisconsin National Guard. So he can prevent illegal attempts at seizures by having his people intimidate their people.

Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t have that option when “public servants” stop serving the will of the people and start imposing their will on the people.

Tattoo Wars: Can a Waiting Period Prevent Stupidity?

Maybe DC bureaucrats can add mandatory spell check to the 24–hour tattoo waiting period.

Maybe DC bureaucrats can add mandatory spell check to the 24–hour tattoo waiting period.

District of Columbia leftists have been so generous in providing ideas for negative columns; it’s only fair to compliment them when they do something positive. Currently the District of Columbia Health Department is proposing a mandatory 24–hour waiting period before getting a tattoo. I think making prospective tattoo customers pass a Breathalyzer and recite the alphabet backward would be a good idea, too, since it combines a sobriety and I.Q. test.

As gratifying as this waiting period is, it’s still mystifying. Why draw the line here? The extent of cultural decay that gets a pass in the District is breathtaking, so what makes getting a tattoo worthy of regulation?

It’s true that throughout history tattoos have been associated with less desirable elements including pirates, cannibals, the SS and neo–Nazis, but guilt by association is never an issue in DC. You have only to count the number of politicians at the various alternative lifestyle ‘pride’ parades to know that.

Trendies use a tattoo to declare themselves ‘edgy’ without the accompanying inconvenience of joining a para–military organization or abandoning their vegan diet.

Still, just the mention of a waiting period was enough to motivate the Washington Post to interview those opposed.

Paul Roe, who owns a tattoo parlor, is quoted as saying, “It’s honestly ridiculous. Why not 24 hours’ waiting time before shaving your head?” (This points out the danger of the uncreative mind attempting to construct a metaphor on the fly. Unless Roe is using henna tattoos his marks are permanent, whereas even the worst haircut eventually grows out.)

Roe’s trump card against any new rules is two words: Breaking bad. “Simple regulation is effective regulation,” he said. “Overregulation will kill the profession and drive it underground and make it less safe for everybody.” Evidently the tattoo industry is as fundamentally lawless as meth dealers and abortionists. At the first hint of government oversight everyone threatens to head for the nearest alley and bring out the coat hangers.

Actually I’m not a total anti–tattoo fanatic. I can see the need for a medicinal tattoo on Alzheimer’s patients (name, address, phone number, next of kin and the GPS coordinates of the assisted–living home) for those awkward times when grandpa is found wandering in the median wearing grandma’s pajamas.

My view of ‘decorative’ tattoos is the same as my wife’s. She believes getting a tattoo is like wearing the same tee–shirt every day for the rest of your life.

Marcela Onyango told the WaPost that she had been pondering getting her late mother’s birth year — 1961 — etched on her rib cage for the last three years. Naturally, she thinks waiting an additional 24 hours constitutes an outrage. Although she might wish she’d delayed even longer if a future armed robber mistakes those four digits for her PIN number.

William O’Sullivan contributed an opinion piece where we learn that in the tattoo subculture “there seems to be an unspoken code not to talk about them [tattoos].” Another bizarre case of flaunting something in public you don’t want people to notice.

It’s like the time I was walking through a casino and a woman passed by who was featuring her pulchritude in an outfit with a plunging neckline.

Since I’m weak and a sinner, my attention was irresistibly drawn to that canyon. Simultaneously, my wife poked me in the ribs and the woman’s companion gave me a hostile look. “Hey,” I protested in defense, “if you don’t want people to look at the merchandise, keep it out of the display case!”

While Virginia only regulates tattoos for those under 18, the DC waiting period will apply to everyone regardless of age. And about time, too, since it looks like AARP may soon be offering a tattoo discount.

Darlene Nash, a 57–year–old grandmother, told the WaPost her tattoos are for a dead sister, two granddaughters, her mother and friends who died of cancer. This epidermal notice board is located on her shoulder blades so everyone behind her on the ladder to the water slide can pause and consider mortality.

Evidently there is a lot of commemoration going on. In the same article the owner of Maryland tattoo parlor says older customers “often want to commemorate a milestone, such as the death of a spouse, the birth of a grandchild, a marriage or a divorce.” Looking at it that way, the ink saves time and gas in the long run, because you won’t feel guilty for not visiting mom at the cemetery; and it lasts a lot longer than a mylar birthday balloon.

The Posties also discovered Myrna Armstrong, a tattoo culture professor who has comforting news for older hipsters. She says since the over–55 set already has saggy skin there’s no need to worry about the tattoo wilting. It’s like buying a pre–shrunk shirt. The tattoo–wanting senior just has to find an ‘artist’ skilled enough to ink on the fleshy equivalent of a grocery bag.

It could be the DC Dept. of Health is on the leading edge of a body ink backlash. The Army is considering a ban on any tattoo on the forearm, below the knee or above the neckline and it will require the removal of “offensive” tattoos.

I only wish the District would expand activities covered by a waiting period. Right now the authorities require a waiting before you can buy a gun, but it’s step–right–this–way if you want an abortion. It seems only consistent to expand the wait period to abortion, too. Because although a gun purchase may sometime result in an innocent death, an abortion purchase is designed to result in an innocent death.

Off–Year Election Prospects Grim for Conservatives

Democrat Terry McAuliffe prepares to photograph his favorite person.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe prepares to photograph his favorite person.

In 2009 gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia provided a morale boost for conservatives still smarting from the Obama victory. Chris Christie won in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell won in Virginia.

The chance for morale boosting repeat this year is very small.

In New Jersey we’ve discovered Christie is now Obama’s newest BFF and is showing all the symptoms of an advanced case of RINO’s disease with egomaniacal complications.

Here in Virginia, there is little optimism regarding Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor. It’s looking more and more like he should have kept his original promise to run for re–election as attorney general. Then there truly would have been a balm in Gilead.

Retiring Lt. Governor Bill Bolling could have run unopposed on the GOP side — while he continued to keep his inner RINO in the closet — Cuccinelli would be AG and E. W. Jackson could have become Lt. Governor. Two conservatives out of three isn’t bad and former GOP consultant — and Bolling inner circle member — Boyd Marcus would not have had to defect to the Democrats in a fit of pique.

It pains me to say this, but ‘moderate’ Bolling actually would have been a stronger candidate than Cuccinelli, because he has no ties whatsoever to FBI investigation target Jonnie Williams — the VA GOP answer to Santa Claus — and his Star Scientific patent medicine company. A Bolling candidacy would have been immune to the fallout from Big Watch Bob McDonnell’s gifts–that–keep–on–giving scandal. Simply because Bolling didn’t run up a tab with Williams. Bolling doesn’t wear a $7,500 gift watch, didn’t take free vacations, his children didn’t receive $25,000 in wedding gifts, his wife didn’t receive a $15,000 shopping spree and the family business didn’t get a $75,000 loan.

(Rumor has it that once Bolling learned Williams’ product wasn’t a weight loss aid, he had no more interest in Star Scientific.)

Instead we have an incumbent governor passing the hat to raise money to pay lawyers working to prevent an indictment. Williams is singing like a canary. And both are damaging Cuccinelli who took what amounted to tip money from Jonnie — particularly when compared to the jackpot McDonnell hit when Williams became a “family friend.”

No wonder Ken is currently polling seven points behind the Democrat nominee Terry ‘Flim Flam Man’ McAuliffe. I suppose we’re lucky the deficit isn’t larger. McDonnell could have helped the situation if he had resigned during the summer, but even Star Scientific doesn’t manufacture an anti–inflammatory powerful enough to lubricate McDonnell’s passage out of the mansion.

So McAuliffe’s refusal to release his tax returns — for a brief moment an important issue — becomes a non–issue in the environment generated by the Williams/McDonnell gifts scandal. Looking at it from a voter’s perspective it’s a wash, McAuliffe is just better about hiding his financial peccadilloes.

In this political climate it’s crucial for the Cuccinelli campaign to avoid any mistakes that call the nominee’s character into question. So what do they do? The campaign airs a negative commercial that calls the campaign’s character into question.

The spot contains testimonials from people who were ruined by the bankruptcy of a company from which McAuliffe made millions. Any effectiveness the commercial had ended when the people giving the testimonials told the Washington Post that no one told them the footage would be in a campaign commercial. On the contrary, they say they were told the interviews were for a documentary. And they say the Cuccinelli campaign lied to them.

I’ve been making campaign commercials for 33 years and I can tell you that any competent media firm has a simple way to settle controversies like this. All the campaign has to do is show the reporter the talent releases signed during the taping.

That way if the interviewees change their mind later or the McAuliffe people pressure them, you have proof the interview subjects knew what they were getting into before the spot aired.

Only the Cuccinelli campaign didn’t show Washington Post reporters any signed releases. During their WaPost interview they did not address “whether the employees in the ad were told how the footage would be used.”

I don’t want to pile on here, but I have some advice for the campaign. If the media consultant and the production company didn’t get signed permission releases from non–professional talent the company is sloppy, incompetent and deserves to be fired.

If the media consultant and the production company have releases but the releases say the footage is to be used in a documentary and not a campaign commercial, they are sleazy, incompetent and deserve to be fired.

Voters are accustomed to a certain amount of hyperbole in positive campaign spots, that’s why no one chokes when Lindsey Graham and the word “fighting” appear in the same spot. But negative commercials must be accurate and the allegations based on verifiable fact. Ken’s campaign has done it’s best to undermine his positive and negative message.

We have a Cuccinelli campaign that says McAuliffe can’t be trusted, plays fast and loose with the truth and won’t release his taxes. Then the same campaign releases a commercial that plays fast and loose with the truth to people already reeling from losing their livelihood. And just to make sure the news stays bad Cuccinelli — after foot dragging for months — decides to donate $18,000 to charity to offset the same amount he received in gifts from Jonnie Williams.

In one fell swoop the campaign helps McAuliffe by generating another week or two of negative coverage regarding the gifts. Waiting this late in the campaign to donate money from gifts Cuccinelli never should have taken is stupidity compounded.

I’m told that the reason Cuccinelli decided to break his promise and not run for re–election as AG is his big money backers told him they would not donate unless he ran for governor. I’m wondering how the plutocrats feel about their investment now?

 

For more on Cuccinelli and the gifts scandal click here

For more on how McDonnell caused the gifts scandal click here and here

For more on how Bolling discovered his inner RINO click here

For more on how Marcus discovered his inner turncoat click here

Feeling Threatened? Borrow a Legislator!

Indians & Gun ControlThe reason the debate over the 2nd Amendment is so futile is that supporters of the amendment have two jobs — one expected, the other burdensome. Marshalling an argument for your position is only natural in a debate and if it’s not done, that side deserves to lose.

What’s burdensome is 2nd Amendment supporters also have to explain how guns function to opponents who are dangerously ignorant and basing their position on feelings, myths and MSNBC.

It’s like debating physics with Wile E. Coyote.

The gun control debate in Colorado is a perfect example. For years Rep. Diana DeGette (D–Space Cadet) has sponsored federal legislation to ban “high capacity magazines.” Naturally after Sandy Hook, DeGette began pontificating about her bill once again. She predicted that banning “high–capacity magazines” would reduce gun violence because “”the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.”

This may have been true if DeGette was talking about a “high–capacity” lipstick cartridge, but not an ammunition magazine. This is the equivalent of fighting high school vandalism by banning “high–capacity” egg cartons sold at Costco. In the real world magazines are reloaded and can be reused over and over, just like purses!

Later DeGette sent her “spokeswoman” Juliet Johnson out to clarify her remarks, but unfortunately the ignorance in her office isn’t confined to the officeholder. Johnson explained, “The congresswoman has been working on a high-capacity assault magazine ban for years and has been deeply involved in the issue; she simply misspoke in referring to ‘magazines’ when she should have referred to ‘clips,’ which cannot be reused because they don’t have a feeding mechanism.”

Wrong again. “Clip” is an inaccurate term for magazine and by any name the device is reusable as long as the spring holds up.

During hearings for state anti–gun legislation in March, State Sen. Evie Hudak told a rape victim testifying before her committee that it was foolish to think she could have stopped her attacker with a gun: “Statistics are not on your side,” Hudak explained.

For those residents who might want to pack more than a sheaf of statistics on their hip, House Majority Leader Dickey Hullinghorst offered solace. She claimed during an interview that firearms ownership is unnecessary because the state legislature protects citizens.

“As a woman, I have the right not to carry a gun and to feel safe on the streets,” Hullinghorst lectured, “and that’s what we provide for in the state legislature is for all of us in the state of Colorado — to feel safe on the streets without having to carry a gun.”

This could work. Here in the DC area we have a system called Capital Bikeshare where participants buy a membership and then borrow bicycles from stations scattered across the area when they need to go somewhere and don’t want to walk or drive.

I can see the same principle working with Colorado Legis–share. When a woman who doesn’t want to pack heat feels uneasy at the prospect of walking along a dark street, she simply borrows a legislator from a nearby station and the solon accompanies her. Residents can buy memberships from the nearest lobbyist.

Strong, assertive women like Hullinghorst would probably be in high demand, but any legislator is better than no legislator when you’re in a tight spot.

The Democrat–dominated state house then passed a series of anti–gun laws that resulted in a recall election for two prominent Democrat gun grabbers Sen. Angela Giron (Pueblo) and Sen. John Morse (Colorado Springs). The recall pitted the media, Democrats and billionaires like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Eli Broad against a plumber who had to borrow money from granny to start the recall drive.

Yet outspent 27 to 1 the plumber and conservatives in Colorado won! Both Democrats lost and will be replaced by Republicans.

Evidence of firearms fantasy is not confined to Colorado though. After a calm and courageous bookkeeper named Antoinette Tuff prevented a school shooting by talking the gunman into surrendering, I anticipated the gunphobics would be urging Congress to pass emergency funding to put a bookkeeper with a megaphone in every elementary school in the country.

Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak certainly didn’t disappoint. She crowed that there were no deaths in Decatur, GA in spite of the fact teachers weren’t armed, the NRA’s gun–toting police officers weren’t present and the school didn’t have “frightening ‘intruder drills.’”

Dvorak explains, “As soon as the man entered the school and fired one round into the floor, Tuff called 911 and stayed smooth and calm as a computer help line operator. She kept a conversation going among herself, the gunman and the 911 dispatcher…Her 911 call — listen to the whole thing; it’s riveting — is a portrait of poise, compassion and selflessness. She was exactly what America is forgetting to be.”

Unfortunately for Petula and all the lessons she would have America draw from this single incident, there is a stark difference between this attack and other shootings. The Georgia gunman shot the floor, while the high school, university and elementary school gunmen shot people. You’d think a highly trained reporter would notice that.

A school that prepared for a variety of contingencies and had a bookkeeper with a megaphone, along with an armed teacher or two, would have options for dealing with a gunman depending on whether the he shot the parquet or the principal. In Dvorak’s dream school the students and teachers would be out of luck in almost every case.

But that’s not an argument one can make with legislators, advocates and leftist journalists that live in a dream world. And even the Colorado recall results may bounce off their impermeable armor of ignorance and arrogance.

So for the rest of us the choice boils down to this: You can have “statistics” on your side or you can have Smith & Wesson. The choice is yours, for now.

TSA Annexes NFL

TSA logic: Coming to an NFL stadium near you.

TSA logic: Coming to an NFL stadium near you.

I never thought I’d live to see the day when you couldn’t bring more than 3 oz. of shampoo into a National Football League stadium. Over the years I’ve grudgingly accepted the ban on explosives, handguns, rifles and vuvuzelas, but this may be the last straw.

The NFL has now decreed that fans (quaintly known in some quarters as paying customers) may no longer bring purses larger than a pack of cigarettes (also banned, BTW) into the stadium. In addition, the ban includes briefcases, fanny packs, coolers, backpacks, cinch bags, computer bags (!) and camera bags. Instead attendees may fill one clear plastic bag no large than 12” X 6” X 12” with their worldly possessions.

NFL officials suggest items that won’t fit inside the bag may be put in your pockets, around your neck or slipped inside a handy body cavity. In its benevolence the NFL is allowing fans to bring blankets inside, as long as you sling it over your shoulder like the infantry in the Army of Northern Virginia did.

The reason for the change is as tiresome as it is irrelevant: “To provide a safer environment for the public and significantly expedite fan entry into stadiums.” The new policy will expedite all right. Once the argument with the TSA–wannabe is over, females will be jettisoning personal possessions into waiting trash bins like shipwreck survivors tossing unneeded weight out of a lifeboat.

How sowing confusion is going to speed up security lines is something of a mystery. Many items formerly contained in a purse will go into pockets instead, where they will trigger metal detectors. This, in turn, will trigger pat–downs, wandings, pocket emptying, possession dropping and possession forgetting. You’ll have all the fun of an airport security line without the bother of remembering to put your tray table in “its full, upright and locked position.”

This season the NFL will be conducting an unintentional experiment in market dynamics. It will be interesting to see how long it takes the descending curve of a fan’s desire to attend the game to cross the rising nuisance curve of petty NFL rules. Commissioner Roger Goodell’s lasting legacy may be as the man who made pro football a studio sport.

Various credulous observers have commented, “I understand the need for increased security when it comes to larger bags. All someone needs to do is mention the 2013 Boston Marathon to silence critics.”

I’ve got a news flash: One couldn’t bring a pressure cooker into a Redskins game before the Boston bombing, much less afterwards. Dan Snyder, Redskins owner, wouldn’t allow the competition with his over–priced hot dogs. And speaking of Snyder, the NFL advised owners to establish a location where females who didn’t get the word could check their purses outside the stadium, like a hotel does with coats, and then pick the purse up after the game.

Snyder — a noted paragon of customer service — provided a little expediting here, too. Women were told to trek back to their cars with their purse or drop it in the trash.

The safety concerns of the majority of fans, and almost all the women, concern being protected from aggressive drunks, hurling drunks, disrobing drunks, cursing drunks and fighting drunks. (For their part the drunks may have some complaints, too but they have trouble remembering.) But ending alcohol sales or increasing patrolling security inside the stadium would cut into owner profits, whereas making you throw your purse in the trash costs Snyder nothing.

When you combine that with the fact you have to leave earlier to catch a football game than you do to catch a flight. The traffic home will be at least as bad as traffic to the stadium. Parking can run you $50. The ticket can cost more than an airline flight. And you have to sit idle while play stops for a TV commercial — the option of sitting at home and watching the game looks better and better. In fact, during the 2011 season almost two million seats went unsold in the NFL.

Airlines don’t worry too much about security irritation because there is no real alternative for long distance travel. But the NFL provides its own alternative: Televised games! Where you see better, eat cheaper, have a smaller carbon footprint and are on a first name basis with the drunks.

I can’t imagine this latest “safety” brainstorm is going to make NFL owners happy if they start losing concession, parking and ticket revenue.

Of course it could be that football fans are intrinsically more dangerous than baseball fans. I went to a Nationals game this week. The guard glanced in my wife’s large, black, opaque bag, saw clear plastic bottles of water and waved her though. It took about 15 seconds. There were no metal detectors and no pat–downs. I didn’t remove my shoes or my belt. Yet the family didn’t feel the least bit unsafe.

Something tells me the clear plastic bag has more to do with mom sneaking a granola bar into the stadium than it does pressure cooker bombs.

It’s enough to make you wonder if Goodell drinks Maker’s Mark bourbon. You may recall earlier this year Maker’s Mark was presented with a problem many companies wish they had in Obama’s economy — more demand for their bourbon than the company could supply at current production levels.

Classical economics offers two choices to a company in this situation: Raise prices until the demand curve crosses the price curve or keep prices where they are, endure resulting shortages and ramp up production for the future.

Instead, the owners decided to water down their bourbon, reducing alcohol content from 90 proof to 84 proof, so as to increase supply at the same price. Customers were outraged and the company quickly backed down and kept the alcohol level the same.

Goodell is diluting the quality of his product, too. But instead of water he adds irritation.

Consultants Who Think They Are Kingmakers

Boyd Marcus (the Karl Rove lookalike on the right) when he still consorted with Republicans.

Boyd Marcus (the Karl Rove lookalike on the right) when he still consorted with Republicans.

A Virginia consultant no voter ever heard of endorses a candidate for governor nobody really likes and somehow it’s on the front page of the Washington Post’s Metro section. It reminds me of what Democrats formerly called the ‘Shrum Primary.’  That was the jockeying Democrat presidential candidates went through to try and persuade Bob Shrum to join their campaign as lead media consultant and strategist.

It wasn’t quite like a barefoot Emperor Henry IV standing in the snow begging the forgiveness of Pope Gregory VII, but it was close. The Shrum spectacle went on for a number of presidential elections until someone noticed (keep in mind Democrats are often blind to the obvious) that Shrum candidates were never called Mr. President after the election.

There is a larger question regarding both of these instances — who cares and how large does your ego have to be to think someone does?

This week’s ‘newsmaker’ is Boyd Marcus, described by the Posties as “a veteran Republican political consultant.” Marcus is famous as the architect of George Allen’s U.S. Senate victory over incumbent senator Tim Kaine last November. At a time when madcap TEA Party candidates were discussing women’s private parts or God’s plan for rape, ‘mainstream’ George Allen was cruising to victory.

Wait, my mistake. That’s what Marcus assured us was going to happen after ‘electable’ Allen (he can raise money, you know) got the nomination. So when November came around, Marcus and the rest of the Allen brain trust were perched inside the Mitt Romney Momentum Express bus waiting for the acceleration to kick in. They are still waiting.

It’s completely in character for Marcus to move from Republican Allen’s rerun Senate candidacy to a revenge endorsement of Democrat Terry McAuliffe in this year’s Virginia governor’s race. Marcus, who formerly only worked in Republican campaigns, says he is proud to endorse McAuliffe because Terry is the only candidate for governor willing to cut him a check.

Whoops, another mistake on my part.

For public consumption Marcus said, “I was looking at the candidates, and I saw Terry McAuliffe as the guy who will work with everybody to get things done.” Then McAuliffe wrote him the check. And what a deal! If only endorsements for the Democrat money–man were all a simple financial transaction! McAuliffe wouldn’t have to waste time shaking hands and pretending to be interested in what some Virginia hillbilly thinks about the deficit.

The McAuliffe campaign also issued its own bizarre Marcus quote, “I’ve never before supported any Democrat, but this election Terry is the clear choice for mainstream conservatives.” Translation: McAuliffe is the clear choice for self–involved turncoats whose support is for sale.

The real reason Marcus decided to monetize his political sympathies was his candidate for governor in Virginia — Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling — dropped out of the race when Ken Cuccinelli supporters in the Republican Party changed the nomination format from a primary to a convention. This completely upset the Bolling applecart consultants and all.

In spite of the fact Bolling had been light governor for eight years he and Marcus somehow overlooked the importance of building an organization during his two terms. No real connection with the grassroots means no delegates at the convention. So TEA Party fave Cuccinelli walked away with the nomination.

That meant Marcus lacked a meal ticket this fall. Cuccinelli certainly wasn’t going to hire him and there were no wealthy Virginia RINOs running for other statewide offices available to aid his cash flow.

An operative with even a shred of integrity would simply sit this one out. What one doesn’t do is what Marcus did — sign on with a candidate that is the antithesis of everything for which the Virginia, and for that matter national, Republican Party stands. This is what the average American hates about politics: The mercenaries and their candidates who ‘grow’ in office and have infinitely malleable principles.

How many pro–life bills does Marcus think uber–Democrat McAuliffe is going to sign? How many taxes will McAuliffe be willing to cut? How much government intrusion into the free market is McAuliffe going to prevent? And how often will McAuliffe oppose public employee union attempts to put one over on the taxpayer? Will McAuliffe fight Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion? Will McAuliffe be a voice against pressure from the left to legalize illegals?

In a nutshell, none, none, none, never, no and no. The things McAuliffe will get “done” involve abortion, alternate lifestyles, amnesty and helping Hillary gear up for 2016.

The vast majority of Virginia Republicans really believe in the party’s platform. They don’t change their positions like Marcus changes his socks. Marcus’ politics of petulance is one of the many problems with GOP ‘leadership’ today.

I know a little about changing political parties. Up until about 2000 I was a Democrat, but as I experienced more of reality and the Democrat party decided to embrace unreality, we drifted apart. I made the change official in the 2002 election and I stopped working for Democrat candidates and limited myself to Republicans.

Switch–hitting in baseball is fine (and leftists would have you believe it makes for an exciting marriage) but in politics it only indicates opportunism and a lack of core beliefs.

It will say a great deal about Marcus if he tries to work for Republicans in the future. And it will say even more about any Republican who hires him. Conservatives beware.

Obamacare – Good Enough for You, But not Good Enough for Congress

Angry conservatives prepare to attend their local town hall meeting.

Angry conservatives prepare to attend their local town hall meeting.

If you want to get a very clear idea of the utter contempt in which our corrupt political class holds the voters who put them in office, look no further than the Congressional Obamacare exemption. Don’t confuse this with previous exemptions a bystander Congress has allowed the Obama administration to award supportive unions and other politically favored groups.

This exemption is specifically for Congress.

Under Obamacare Members of Congress and staff are required to buy individual health insurance from state insurance exchanges, just like their constituents Ma & Pa Kettle.

Since the majority of members possess Anthony Weiner levels of common sense, this portion of the law they passed created confusion in that august body. What exchange should the staffers use; the one in the District (land of dependency and demagoguery) or the one in their home state designed by people not clever enough to make it to Washington?

Anyone smarter than a 6th grader could see the answer at a glance. Just as the DC staffers by their Viagra from CVS and the staffers back home frequent Wal–Mart, staffers based in DC buy insurance where they live and staffers back at home buy at home.

There you see? All better now.

Even this minor confusion shows why Congress’ used–car–salesman level approval rating is richly deserved. Even Robert Pear, a reporter for the lefty New York Times was moved to observe, “The confusion raises the inevitable question: If they did not know exactly what they were doing to themselves, did lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill fully grasp the details of how it would influence the lives of other Americans?”

Any conservative could easily answer that question. Hell no!

But for the political class the ‘where’ was not nearly as important as the ‘whom,’ as in who pays for this wondrous new insurance coverage a benevolent Obama has given?

Currently Congressional staffers have a great health insurance policy subsidized by you! While they are beavering away, coming up with new ways to control your life, their Cadillac plans are paid for with a 75 percent, tax–free subsidy.

Now the policy and the subsidy disappear. Giving members and staff another chance to be like real Americans when they realize Obama’s promise if you like your doctor and your insurance you can keep both, was just another Choom Gang alumnus blowing smoke.

This created a situation rich in unintended irony. As the Heritage Foundation wrote, “Members of Congress and their staffs are facing the same problems that confront millions of employers and employees—their fellow citizens—throughout America. They will be unable to keep the health coverage they have today, and will instead be consigned to the government health exchanges, whether they like it or not. …In short, Members of Congress will feel the effects of their own legislative handiwork directly.”

Naturally, this caused panic. In fact this unintended consequence was the only positive development to come from Obamacare. According to Politico, “Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.

The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.”

Great, self–induced term limits! Patchwork to be sure and no doubt short term, but a start nonetheless.

Other Congressional “leaders” feared the country would suffer from a “brain drain” as experienced staffers fled for the private sector where they are constantly assuring us they will make so much more money. My comment is, don’t let the door hit you in the behind.

And of course our dynamic Republican leader is on the job. Rep. John Boehner — Mr. Solidarity with the common man — was hoping Sen. Harry Reid would create a legislative fix (apt word that).

When asked about secret talks to rekindle the boiler fire in the federal gravy train, Boehner spokesman Michael Steele said, ““The speaker’s objective is to spare the entire country from the ravages of the president’s health care law. …If the speaker has the opportunity to save anyone from Obamacare, he will.”

Keep in mind the “anyone” escaping in this instance are the same people making you live under the undiluted Obamacare regime.

Fortunately for the hand–wringing Boehner and shameless Democrats the decision has been taken out of their hand. They won’t be forced to vote on Hypocrisy Bill 358. Pharaoh has spoken. President Obama intervened and ordered the Office of Personnel Management to decree the 75 percent insurance subsidies will continue for members and staff.

There is no provision in the law for this exemption, the OPM has no authority to issue the decision, but it’s in keeping with the legal theory that if Obama wants it, it must be OK.

So where does this leave you? It should leave you enraged. These posturing Republicans who bravely talk about repealing Obamacare are as quiet as church mice in regard to exempting themselves. I’ve had enough and it’s high time you felt the same.

Congress will be in recess soon and Senators and Congressman will be returning to their districts for town hall meetings. Go to the meeting. Take off work if necessary. Ask your representative if he and his staff are taking advantage of the Obamacare exemption.

If the answer is ‘yes’ or he avoids the question (which means the answer is ‘yes’) then you have a duty to vote against him. So what if he’s replaced by a Democrat. Better a leftist than a liar.

If Obamacare is a litmus test on liberty, as Republican Members of Congress have been telling us, it’s also a litmus test for those representing us. Any Representative or Senator who accepts the Obamacare exemption is a posturing Washington hypocrite and not fit to represent me.