Thursday, May 8, 2008

Personal Asides: The Pressure on Hillary to Quit…Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” Effect in Indiana….The Phillips Curse—er, Curve…Terry Sullivan’s Movie Review Draws Hot Controversy.


The Pressure on Hillary.

My sole interest is to see John McCain elected president, obviously and absolutely. Still I am amused at the number of “objective” analysts who are pleading, almost begging, Hillary Clinton to toss in the sponge so that Barack Obama can have a smooth thoroughfare to the Denver convention and the coronation.

These are analysts who pretend to have no dog in this race. Well, then, why are they so concerned? For the good of the “system”? Com’on. Not just the analysts but the great prominence that editors on radio and television give a story that seemingly hasn’t changed for weeks. The big push has been in news prominence…front page stories, first-in-line stories on news broadcasts…show that their placement is due to liberal journalistic worry that the Democratic party may not have sufficient time to pull itself together and elect Obama.

In addition, there seems to be a slyly directed news placement of stories quoting nameless and sometimes obvious pro-Obama Democrats urging Hillary to run with him. Now, as a McCain supporter, I am undecided, frankly, over whether the tie-up of Obama and Clinton would be good or bad for Republicans. Something tells me lumping them together would be good for us. For one thing the divisiveness and hatred between the two of them would be advantageous…and the accumulated baggage would be better for us to exploit than Obama’s selection of someone like, say, Indiana’s Evan Bayh.

Were I to separate myself from partisanship and pretend to be an adviser to Hillary Clinton, would I urge her to accept the vice presidential nomination? Probably if she were any other candidate, I would say yes. The vice presidency seems to be changing, to become more activist as the years go by. Until Walter Mondale, the job was a seeming dead letter unless the president died. I visited Mondale in the vice presidency and talked with him at great length. There is little doubt in my mind that Jimmy Carter gave him a great deal of responsibility. Similarly, George H. W. Bush seemed to have more power than Mondale. Al Gore for all his pretenses was given great authority by Bill Clinton. There is no doubt that Dick Cheney has made of the office what it had been intended for by the framers, i.e. the second most important office in the land. So were Hillary not Hillary…and somewhat younger than she is (she’s 60)…I would urge her to accept it if it’s offered.

Yet there is no doubt that Hillary wants to be president. To assume that she would be fit and able to run at age 68 after two terms of Barack Obama is to assume a lot. I have always imagined her drive for power would be such that she would be discontented with the vice presidency, especially since she had had a great deal of responsibility in the White House as First Lady. On balance, I would urge her to pass it up but in the spirit of good sportsmanship, help Obama conspicuously in the campaign.

I have written earlier that while I grant the election is Obama’s to lose, there strikes me as something about Obama that is distinctively weaker as a competitor to McCain than many people think. Because I suspect Hillary is a plunger, a gambler, a risk-taker, I would conclude that she would be better off returning to the Senate (after all, senator from New York is no slouch job) and retain the freedom of action to pursue the presidency down the line…in 2012 if Obama blows the chance…or in 2016 at the conclusion of what could be his second term when she will be 68. To that extent, John McCain is a role model, running for the job at 71.

What Was the Effect?

Granted Rush Limbaugh ought to keep his helium balloon-sized ego out of election day manipulations…what was the likely effect of his “Operation Chaos” where Republicans were directed to vote for Hillary Clinton in the Indiana primary basis she would be easier for McCain to beat? A survey of statistics-minded bloggers found these conclusions.

Judging from the exit polls, when Clinton voters were asked whom they would support in a Clinton-McCain contest, 7% said McCain. That is truly phenomenal if one can credit Rush with that effect. IF, that is. But then Hillary won by 14% margin of 11% of the electorate which comes out to a 1.5% advantage in the overall tally. Since the pretext of the Limbaugh “Operation Chaos” was that Hillary would be a weaker candidate than Obama, the 63% means that at the very most 1% of her margin came from the Limbaugh effect. Thus if every one of those 63% Republicans thought Obama would be more formidable belonged to “Operation Chaos” Limbaugh boosted Hillary’s margin from 1% to 2%.

On the other hand, if he is so persuasive with Republicans, how did McCain get the nomination at all since Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham all blasted him during the deciding days of the Republican primaries?

I am first to say that Rush has a tremendous effect as a conservative ally—with 20 million listeners…but I just can’t listen to him for a long period, that’s all. Like one drunk with celebrity he gloried in Hillary’s jocular statement that he has a crush on her. It’s sort of pathetic to hear someone with that celebrity extending since 1987 nationally who cannot get enough…literally can not get enough…of himself. Two recent cases.

Some commentator mentioned, at the time of the death of William F. Buckley, that he was different from Rush is that he didn’t go into tirades but skillfully dissected his opponents with a rapier. When listeners tuned in expecting to hear some laudatory words in eulogy about Buckley, they heard instead a longwinded disquisition from him on how he is indeed like Buckley as a fawning little old lady from Dubuque called in with “mega-mega dittoes, Rush!” to which the Great Man replied “it’s nothing, really m’am.”

Second, when the Jeremiah Wright issue erupted, ABC played a statement from Lanny Davis, former lawyer for Bill Clinton, zinging Obama for his lateness in recognizing the pastor’s shortcomings. Rush said: why we said that very same thing from the get-go here and didn’t get a mention on ABC. Rush, the news thrust was that Lanny Davis, a liberal Democrat, was saying it. Calm down: you weren’t snubbed. With Limbaugh, it’s all about HIM…nothing else. You remember the mock banner headline in the liberal “New York Times” they would run at the end of the world? WORLD ENDS! WOMEN AND MINORITIES HIT HARDEST! Limbaugh’s radio broadcast on hearing the first crack of doom would be “SEE? YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST! I TOLD YOU SO!”

The Phllips Curve and Its Fallacies.

Since no one answered, it either means no one knows or no one cares. I’ll take the first option but appreciate that economics has always been known as the dismal science. It was an economic model designed by British economist A. W. Phillips in 1957 who theorized there is an entirely reasonable relationship between rising unemployment and declining wage demands as well as vice versa. As scholar Warren T, Brookes wrote, the theory held that capitalists dealt with excessive wage demands and inflation by inducing economic slowdowns. My father always held to that theory (though he was not an economist) and in fact Brookes did write that Phillips’ theory worked “rather well over the last hundred years in Britain and America, right up through the middle 1960s but fell apart in the 1974-75 recession.”

That’s when its original purpose was twisted by the Keynesians who thought they would help the workingman by putting it into reverse, inducing a little inflation to fight unemployment. Actually it was based on misleading workers into accepting a hidden cut in real income while money was being printed and devalued. Prices through inflation were expected to rise faster than wages—cutting real wages, boosting profit margins and making it profitable to hire stilo more workers. But by the early 1970s unions counteracted it by writing into their contracts COLAs, the same steps being taken with major government entitlement programs and Social Security as well, at which point Phillips became obsolete.

All right. I’ll try one more economics question before switching to something else (Frank Nofsinger will say “switch!”). Without looking anything up and depending on your general knowledge…

Define a Tax Wedge.

The term became current during the early supply side days and was tossed around in debates between Milton Friedman and the real supply-siders.

Review of “Expelled.”

For a fine review of Ben Stein’s documentary film “Expelled,” go to the Chicago Daily Observer and read a review by our arts and culture editor, Marie T. Sullivan that was posted yesterday. It has drawn many hot comments from those who resent the idea of universities devoting any time whatsoever to the issue of intelligent design. In fact as I’m writing this, the only pro-ID comment comes from Pat Hickey.

It’s important to state what the film…and Marie’s review…does not espouse. They don’t espouse creationism. They don’t blast evolution which can mean simply “change over time.” But they do suggest that Darwinism which claims that design in living things is an illusion ought to be contrasted in academe with a scientific theory based on evidence from nature and consistent with everyday logic. There: is that so radical? Well, you’d think…to read the critics including those answering Terry’s review…that the film was proposing a return of the 12th century concept of flat earth. Darwin’s term for biological evolution was “descent with modification” which when studied literally it non-controversial. But Darwin didn’t stop there. Darwin set out to explain the origin of not just one or a handful of species but ALL species after the first. Thus the correct word for this is not evolution which is accepted…but Darwinism.

As Dr. Jonathan Wells points out (with a Ph.D in microbiology from Berkeley but also a Ph.D in theology from Yale) Darwinism claims all living things are modified descendents of a common ancestor…the principal mechanism of modification has been natural selection acting on undirected variation that originate in DNA mutations…and unguided processes are sufficient to explain all features of living things—so that whatever may seem to be design, is just an illusion.

Thus, in essence, the issue is not between evolution and creationism. Nor is it strictly speaking between Darwinism and intelligent design. It is whether in secular academia there can be any reference at all to intelligent design. I guarantee you once you read some of the frenetic responses to Marie T. Sullivan’s thoughtful review, you will be mystified at the anger and heat that it and the film has generated from the opposition but relatively little light. The film and review pleads for acceptance of the possibility of intelligent design in universities (which is supposed to be hospitable to countervailing views) only to find that Darwinism is itself a religion.

Once again we have liberal scientists betrothed to ideology and liberal media (i. e. for local purposes, the redoubtable Richard Roeper) presenting anyone who questions Darwinism as redneck, hopelessly ignorant. I can tell you without fear of contradiction that Darwin and the entire later experience has offered no evidence whatsoever for one species evolving into another, that “design” better tells the story of the complexities of molecular biology than does random mutation…leading to the conclusion that Darwinism is matter of religion or rigid ideology rather than evidence.

It is clear from watching the film that Darwinists are terrified that intelligent design is a foot in the door leading to forcible acceptance of creationism. Not so. Read her view in and the hot-tempered comments and come back to me with your findings.


  1. The premise of Operation Chaos was definitely not the assumption that Hillary would be the weaker candidate. You weren't listening closely, Tom. The premise was "do anything to keep the Democrat nomination undecided for as long as possible." Rush repeatedly said he's not trying to ensure either Obama or Hillary as the candidate. He pegs them about equal in terms of threats to McCain (and he's probably right about that). His goal was to keep them pecking at each other and thus dirty up each of them so that no matter which one ended up as the candidate, he or she would be weaker as a candidate than would have been the case. He launched Operation Chaos precisely when it looked like Obama was gaining the upper hand for good. He started backing Hillary, not because he thought she'd be a weaker candidate against McCain but to prevent a premature Obama lock on the nomination and to give Hillary more time to bloody up Obama, so that even if/when he did lock up the nomination, he'd be sullied.

    As a strategery, it's really pretty darn good. By keeping the primary battle going longer, the Wright stuff came out etc. The bloom is off Obamessiah. He will be a weaker candidate than if he had been coronated six weeks ago.

    And, had Hillary actually defeated Obama (or if she still does somehow manage it--if "events" happen), she will be a weaker candidate than she would have been for being perceived, esp. by blacks, as having stolen the crown from the Heir Apparent cum Messiah-Anointed One.

    Sure Rush has a big ego. But he also has his tongue in his cheek much of the time, including some of the things you interpret as ego-driven in this column. There's nearly always a subtext running under what Rush says, which is what actually makes him interesting to listen to. If one takes him literally, fundamentalistically, one misses half the excitement.

  2. Since the ponderous thoughts of Thomas Robert Malthus to the present walking rectrums spouting economic "facts," these people are as full of shit as a Xmas goose, as they used to say in MN.

    Tom- Stay the course. Don't fall into the well. Tell me the last economic indecater that either:
    1) A sane human knew the definition of-
    2) Could extrapolate how this affected them in their day to day activities-
    3) Could do anything about-
    4) Who thought that our political system could fix it-

    Tom- I wish your Daddy had been a sports fan

  3. Richard ChanningMay 9, 2008 at 5:40 AM

    It's professional jealousy with Roeser. Nothing more than that. They both worship at the altar of the GOP and embrace the same ideas in general. The only difference is professional success, and Tom is envious of Limbaugh's success.

  4. Truth is in between. Like Tom, I can't listen too long. But, Operation Chaos might very well have had its major effect on Democrats who otherwise would not have voted for any sort of a Clinton. If Rush had an editor I think Tom would buy that newspaper.