Turkey Frying and Capitalism

Tomorrow my family will be frying our turkey for the fourth year in a row-and our experiences over the years serve as important lesson on the beauties of capitalism. The first year we fried the turkey, everything went smoothly-until we were confronted with the task of pouring several gallons of used peanut oil from the huge turkey frying pot into the narrow opening of the plastic oil container. My brother and I tried to be as steady as we could, but it didn’t prevent us from spilling oil onto his grass (to this day there’s still a section of the lawn that doesn’t grow properly). The following year, not wanting to do any further damage to the lawn, we decided to make the cement patio our base of operations-however, when we spilled the oil again, it required a hose and a ton of detergent to clean it up. Last year, however, my brother discovered that someone had invented a turkey frying oil pump for the express purpose of sucking peanut oil from a turkey frying pot and cleanly transferring it through a tube back into the oil container. I could not think of a more perfect demonstration of the brilliance of the market system to match supply with demand. You cannot imagine a government planner in a Soviet-style command economy saying, “You know what, we really could use a turkey frying oil pump.” God bless capitalism! And a Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Re: Rudy and Conservatives

Paul, I appreciate your input, and fair enough if you can’t support Rudy in a primary. From my perspective, I often support socially conservative candidates even though I may disagree with them on some issues. If the candidate who I believed to be the best leader available to fight the War on Terror favored the Federal Marriage Amendment, which I vehemently disagree with, I’d still support that leader.

Romney and Gay Marriage

It's worth focusing on one portion of that Examiner story on Romney that Paul pointed to earlier:

Romney was less charitable to McCain, who on Sunday told ABC News: “I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states.” McCain also said, “I believe that gay marriage should not be legal.”

Romney seized on the remarks.

“That’s his position, and in my opinion, it’s disingenuous,” he said. “Look, if somebody says they’re in favor of gay marriage, I respect that view. If someone says – like I do – that I oppose same—sex marriage, I respect that view. But those who try and pretend to have it both ways, I find it to be disingenuous.”

A spokesman for McCain could not be reached for comment Monday.

Unlike McCain and Giuliani, Romney supports amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage. He also wants to amend the Massachusetts Constitution, although the state legislature this month balked at putting the question of gay marriage to voters.

It makes perfect political sense for Romney to try to position himself to the right of McCain, but I have a hard time seeing how it's "disingenuous" to believe that it would be better to allow individual states to make their own laws on divisive issues rather than take the drastic step of amending the constitution to impose one set of views on the entire nation. Support for state's rights used to be a central tenet of conservatism.

What's more, in defending his decision to veto the Massachusetts contraceptive bill last year, Romney wrote in the Boston Globe:

"I understand that my views on laws governing abortion set me in the minority in our Commonwealth. I am prolife. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view. But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate."

It seems that by his own definition, Romney was being "disingenuous" and "pretending to have it both ways" because he didn't say he supports a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

Of course, when he ran for governor in 2002, he said:

"The choice to have an abortion is a deeply personal one. Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not the government's."

Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt that he truly is a born again pro-lifer, that means that he believes that abortion is murder. Despite these personal beliefs, he supports a federalist solution to abortion that in practice would keep abortion legal in most–if not all–states. So somehow, allowing gays to marry is more objectionable than killing unborn fetuses. How else to explain supporting a constitutional amendment to ban one practice and not the other?

r r

Conservatives and Rudy

The conventional wisdom is that even though Giuliani leads in just about every Republican primary poll for 2008, once conservatives learn more about him (especially his liberal social views), they'll be turned off. There's a chance, however, that the reverse will be true. Once conservatives learn more about Giuliani's record and see him speak, they'll realize that he doesn't fit this caricature of him as some sort of northeastern liberal who  dresses in drag.

Deroy Murdock, in an article up at NRO, provides some anecdotal evidence that Rudy is winning over some conservatives who were once hostile to his candidacy:

SayNoToRudy.Org’s online retreat also impresses. As the Ohio-based website’s self-described, social-conservative organizers stated November 5: “We sought to do everything legally possible to prevent [Giuliani] from becoming the Republican presidential nomineeâ€_Unexpectedly, as we began to see more and more of who Mr. Giuliani really isâ€_we found that Mr. Giuliani is truly a committed Republican and an accomplished conservative on many issuesâ€_Therefore, the creators of this organization, with much humility and apology, beyond all probability, hereby announce that we are willing to endorse Mr. Giuliani for the Presidency in 2008.”

Cincinnati prosecutor Steve Giudicci says by phone that he launched SayNoToRudy.Org late last summer, along with a few dozen fellow grassroots conservative activists, mainly in Ohio.

“I am about as socially conservative as you can get – on everything from abortion, to gun rights, to smaller government, and less taxes. You name it,” he says. The website offered T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, wall clocks, boxer shorts, and other items with a logo featuring “Giuliani ‘08” and a circle and red line running through it. “Nominate a REAL Conservative,” the merchandise demanded.

But the more Giudicci and his colleagues learned about Giuliani, the more they realized they had misunderestimated him.

“We were researching Mr. Giuliani and some of his speeches and writings,” Giudicci says. “The turning point was when we read a book by Fred Siegel called The Prince of the City. That’s when we started to realize there was more to Mr. Giuliani than we initially anticipated. We felt he was a really accomplished conservative and committed Republican. It raised our level of respect for him, and opened our eyes.”

Giudicci saw Giuliani speak at a New Hampshire campaign stop on November 3 and was sold. The former Rudy foe is now a Rudy fan who hopes to swing more grassroots activists his way.  

“If a President Giuliani meant the same thing as Mayor Giuliani – namely innovative and competent leadership, less government, lower taxes, a strict-constructionist judiciary, and bad guys brought to justice – then I’m all for it.”

Read the whole thing.

r r

Newt and ’08

I’m sure by now most people have seen the news that Newt Gingrich is running for president, or, as he put it:

“I am not ‘running’ for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen.”

I think his entrance in the race, or at least him being the picture, is a huge positive because it will force a serious debate on a number of important issues, especially his favorite topics: energy independence, health care reform and national security. It’s hard to imagine him overcoming the stigma attached to him from the 1990s and actually appealing to a broad enough coalition to get elected, but his mere presence makes it far more likely that the primary season will feauture engaging debates about ideas. While it’s way too early to know how his entrance will affect the primaries, there are a few possible scenarios that come to mind. In one sense, he can hamper Romney’s ability to position himself as the conservative alternative. On the oither hand, he could take national security votes away from McCain and especially Giuliani. Either way, it’ll be fun to watch.

Bush and Iran

Israel’s Haaretz reports that President Bush said he would “understand” if Israel attacks Iran over its nuclear program. The New Yorker‘s Seymour Hersh, meanwhile, has a new piece out speculating whether Bush is more or less likely to attack Iran in the wake of the Democratic electoral victory.

They Call Her Infidel

NRO has an interview up with Egyptian-born Nonie Darwish, who immigrated to American and began to question her own culture's incitement of  violence and anti-Semitism. She's out with a new book, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror. An excerpt from the interview:

It took me many years to change, evolve, and realize that I was indoctrinated with a lot of propaganda and outright lies about Israel. I owe my change to America. I appreciated the tolerance, respect for minorities and equality under the law that America stands for. When I heard church and synagogue sermons I realized how different the message was from the hate speech, cursing, and incitement advocated in many mosques across the world. Many of us who immigrated to America thought we had escaped jihad, hateful propaganda, intimidation, and mind control, but we found that even in America, there are powerful radical Muslim forces who are trying to silence us. For the sin of criticizing terrorism – not Islam, just terrorism – we are threatened. Terrorism is like the elephant in the room that no one is supposed to talk about, especially if you are an Arab American. But when 9/11 happened, it was no longer about me or my culture of origin; it is about the safety and security of the country that I now call home; America. When I pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States I took this pledge to heart and I decided to speak out of respect for the 3,000 Americans who died on that day. I speak out of empathy for Israel; a country that has lived under severe terrorism, boycott, and war. Israel deserves our respect and not our hatred. I also speak out of love for my culture of origin in desperate need for reformation. I speak out. That is why to radical Muslims, I am now part of the Zionist conspiracy.

r r

Bloomberg and Heart Attacks

George Will had a column in yesterday’s Washington Post about why NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg won’t run for the presidency. That shouldn’t come as much as a surprise. But one part of the article warrants mentioning for its sheer absurdity:

Bloomberg credits his crusade against smoking with the decline in heart attacks that has helped make the life expectancy of city residents higher than that of the rest of the nation.

For the sake of argument, let’s grant Bloomberg that second-hand smoke inhalation can lead to heart attacks (even though the evidence is suspect) and let’s further grant that his policies of banning smoking in the bars and raising cigarette taxes encouraged more people to quit smoking. This still doesn’t change the fact that heart disease takes decades to develop, and any government actions taken three-and-a-half years ago to reduce smoking-even if they could be effective in the long-term-would not have an immediate impact on heart attack rates or life expectancy. I’m surprised that George Will would allow Bloomberg to advance such a canard without challenging him.

Re: Boehner’s Win

David, that Boehner quote is telling, and it's worth expanding on how problematic it is. Everyone knows that in Washington, you're never going to get 100 percent of what you want, so the goal is to get as much as you can. President Reagan, and Gingrich in the early days of the Republican majority, both talked in terms of radically curtailing the size of government–slashing spending, eliminating programs, closing whole departments, etc.  In the end,  all they got was a reduction in  the rate of growth in spending. By Boehner starting out negotiations with the rather modest goal of containing the growth of government, it virtually guarantees that we'll wind up with runaway spending and a vast expansion of  the welfare state.    

r r