The Incredible Shrinking Protest

…in Madison:

Upon entering the capitol, visitors are greeted by a large sign explaining all the items they are forbidden to carry in. Someone unfamiliar with the February protests would be flummoxed as to why some of these items show up on the list, but the list itself tells the story of what happened when hundreds of protesters took up residence in the statehouse a few months ago. Among the verboten items: snakes, crockpots, massage chairs, mattresses, and balloons, plus a catch-all (“… other items that may be considered inconsistent with a plan to depart the building at the posted closing time or whose use is considered a threat to public health or safety”).

In the capitol rotunda, around 100 people are gathered, watching the beginning of the assembly session on large monitors that have been set up for their benefit. At the height of the protest, over 6,000 people were reported to be crammed into this space. Resident irritant and multiple-arrestee Jeremy Ryan, who has earned the sobriquet “Segway Guy,” slowly makes his way around the crowd perched atop his two-wheel mobility device.

Soon, three men wearing pink tunics appear. “We Are Walker’s Pink Slips!” they begin chanting loudly. “If you have to chant what your protest costume is, it’s probably not a good one,” cracks a nearby lobbyist.

At noon, the crowd is joined by the “Solidarity Singers,” a group which congregates every day to sing at the top of their lungs in the rotunda. Last week, an American Red Cross blood drive had to leave the capitol because of the irritating cacophony produced by the singers. A woman weaves her way through the crowd, handing out song books so everyone can sing along. The books include many union favorites, tailored to the Wisconsin struggle. (For instance, “We Shall Overcome” now apparently references the effort to recall Scott Walker.)

This may be what democracy looks like, albeit mob democracy. It’s not what a Republic looks like. Here’s to continued failure of the left to subvert the laws of Wisconsin, and to it as a harbinger of failure across the nation.

Is He Jimmy Carter?

…or Herbert Hoover?

As President Obama struggles, again, to gain control of the economic conversation and relaunch his administration’s economic policy (how many times has this administration announced its determination to focus on job creation?) the similarities between these two idealistic and patriotic men begin to emerge. In both cases we have a President who thought that his mission was to remake the world, but who gradually discovered that the tools in his toolkit were no match for the problems he faced. With great intelligence and serious goodwill, both men set about to address the most important issues facing the country and the world — only to find that their chosen remedies failed one by one.

I am not convinced that the President’s political goose is cooked — yet. For one thing, luck can never be discounted. Recessions don’t last forever, anymore than booms do, and American capitalism is strong enough to stage a recovery in the face of poor policy. But luck aside, the President can still avoid the great mistake that finally wrecked Hoover: the failure to learn.

President Hoover brought some convictions with him to office about how the economy worked, how government worked, and what his role as President should be. As the Depression deepened, he did the best he could within those limits, but nothing seems to have made him reconsider the mix of progressive ideas that he brought with him to the White House. As months of failure and disappointment grew into years, he doesn’t seem to have questioned those core ideas or to think about ways in which the economic emergency might require steps that in normal times would not be taken. He not only failed to end the Depression; he failed to give people a sense that he understood what was happening. Over-optimistic forecasts issued in part to build confidence came back to haunt him. To the public he seemed fuddled and doctrinaire, endlessly recycling stale platitudes in the face of radically new economic problems.

One of the myths of the rewritten history by the left is that Hoover was a conservative, with laissez-faire economic policies (and thus by implication a hero of modern Republicans, particularly Reagan Republicans), but he was an economically ignorant progressive of his time, albeit a good engineer and a good man. The comparison seems quite apt to me (except I’m sure that Hoover was nowhere near as arrogant, narcissistic and self absorbed as the president).

Bitterness, And Denial

The end of Constellation brings out the same flawed arguments in comments.

Yes, if one poured enough money into Constellation, no doubt it could have been made to “work,” if by that you mean get a few government employees to the moon at a billion dollars a ticket. It never had a prayer of contributing to the opening up of space to the rest of us, any more than Apollo did.

And unfortunately, while the name might be gone, the program zombies on until we can kill off the Senate Launch System and Orion-by-another-name.

Hyphens Can Be Your Friend

or your enemy. I’m fairly fastidious about this (as I am with apostrophes), and I no doubt annoy many people whose stuff I edit. As the piece points out, the purpose of a hyphen is to disambiguate adjectives, so you can tell for sure what is modifying what. For instance, “a light red fox” could be an underweight red fox, but “light-red fox” indicates that it is a fox (of indeterminate subspecies) that is light red in color. The exception is if the first word is an adverb, such as “lightly colored fox,” in which case the hyphen and connection of the two words is implicit.

That is all.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!