Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Problem that can't be named is named!!

You know we’re in a significant debt crisis when The New York Times editorial page yells “uncle”. It did so on Sunday, November 30, 2008 in an editorial entitled “Bailing Away”. The New York Times editorial page is not known for being queasy about government intervention, but here they are worrying about the inflationary effects of all this debt, most of which is financed by “the Treasury…borrowing money and the Fed… printing it.”

One commentator recently said that after finding the limits of a gold standard based financial system in the 1930’s we are now finding the limits to a debt based financial system. It is therefore ironic for a problem born in debt; mortgage debt in particular but too much debt in general, the solution being offered is more debt; government debt.

It is possible that some short-term marginal uptick in the economy will be forthcoming from massive government “investments” be they bailouts of private industries or infrastructure improvements. We may see some short-term rebound in the economy and stock market, but it is difficult to see how the long-term economic outlook cannot but be negative.

When F.D.R. began implementing the New Deal, the federal government was about 2-3% of GDP. Today the federal government is currently about 18-20% but may approach 50% in the next few years. In 1932 the public debt was about $16B in 1932 dollars, which is about $206B in 2000 dollars. By the beginning of the war the debt was about $48B or $565B currently. At the end of WWII the debt was $269B or $5T in 2000 dollars, about ½ our current debt of about $10.7T. An important difference is much of the debt in 1945 was owed to Americans. Savings Bond a.k.a. War Bonds were marketed to U.S. citizens to get most of the money that had been hoarded during the Depression back into circulation. Today about 25% of the debt is owed to foreigners.

It’s interesting to note that as a percentage of GDP, our current debt situation is NOT the highest it’s been since WWII. That distinction goes to 1950 when our public debt was 94.1% of GDP. In 2008 our debt will equal about 73% of GDP, which is estimated to be about $14T. However, in 1950 social security and medicare didn’t face the demographic challenge it does today; a challenge that amounts to a $55T plus unfunded obligation. Plus, with hindsight, we know the country was on the cusp of about 15 years of significant growth. Today, we’re one year into a significant recession; probably the worse since WWII, that will probably last into 2010. It is, therefore, very hard to envision we’re about to enter a 15 to 20 year period of 3-4% annual growth, the kind of growth, that only with a significant reduction of the federal budget, has any hope of retiring the accumulated debt.

The prevailing wisdom is that in the current economic environment, government must intervene, deficits and debt be damned. The proof given is F.D.R. and the raving success he had in the 1930’s. However, Roosevelt’s policies worked more against growth than in support of it. Going from 25% unemployment to 14% in 9 years with a median rate of 17.2% is not a particularly great record. A factor that may influence some of today's Republicans to support intervention as much Democrats is a political culture that increasingly sees government as the problem-solver of last resort. And as we all know, getting re-elected is more important than doing what you believe is right.

The end result of all this debt, which may, in the next few years exceed our GDP, is to insure the further devaluation of the dollar via inflation, which will reduce the attractiveness of dollar based assets, which will force interest rates up, which will increase the cost of servicing our debt, which may drive us into bankruptcy.

Only unfettered capitalism and peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world can save us. More on that peaceful coexistence part later.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Keynes Would have seen it Coming....Really??

Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post in response to an Op Ed by Robert Skidelsky on Oct. 14, 2008

To the Editor:

With market capitalism on its heels, Keynesian economics is being saluted by the likes of Robert Skidelsky and Nouriel Roubini with their concomittant load of FDR style "investment" suggestions. Excellent ideas all and even better timing. We have a cash debt of $10T and unfunded liabilities of $50T plus brought on primarily by FDR programs like Social Security, LBJ's add-on Medicare and in the spirit of bi-partisanship Geoge Bush's Prescription Drug Benefit guerdon for the elderly and more importantly, 70 million soon-to-be elderly voting baby-boomers.

The pendulum is swinging far to the left and Mr. Obama hasn't even won the election yet. He will of course, by a landslide.

All the work being done to save the world's financial system in response to the government induced, greed enhanced, mortgage meltdown will go for naught due to an inability to see the real root of the problem; a fiduciary monetary system that can, ultimately, never be controlled by man. A monetary system can only be controlled by decentralized and competing sound monetary systems.

I would like to say this is going to be fun to watch, but it won't. It will be painful.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Debt Bomb by Rudolph Penner

I can't give this article large enough distribution. It should be required reading for every American. It succinctly describes the implications of our mountain of debt in light of the current crisis. And the opportunity it presents to the next president.

Less anyone think this is some radical libertarian think-tank, it's not. The Urban Institute is a genuine non-partisan public policy think-tank. It was founded by L.B.J. in the '60s and the trustees appear to be balanced between Republicans and Democrats. Of the names I recognize, many, if not most, are Democrats.

There is nothing but truth here. I ask that you forward this to everyone in your address book and recommend they do the same. We need to understand the larger problem. This economic situation is as important, if not more important than the war. For one thing, we'll not be able to fight it much longer if our economy falls apart and should that happen, we'll become even more vulnerable.

It matters not if either Barack Obama or John McCain is elected. They both have spending plans that will have to be canceled or severely modified. Both of them will face an enormous problem, one as president and one as a U.S. Senator. Whomever is elected, he will need our support to get our debt problem under control. This article will help convince the American people the seriousness of the problem. It would help if they would also watch the documentary I.O.U.S.A., a documentary in which Warren Buffet, a supporter of Barack Obama, appears.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Shift

In this election America will make a significant political shift from the center-right position to the center left or maybe just left. We will elect the most left-leaning politician ever. It has become apparent that John McCain will lose on November 4 and lose big. It will probably be an electoral landslide for Obama. This is disconcerting but it is reality. The Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) induced financial crisis was the last nail in the Republican’s coffin. The president and his party, right or wrong, get the blame or the credit for the state of the economy. The Republicans cannot recover from this. Not with a president as unpopular as this one.

Sarah Palin initially brought hope to the party. She seemed to breathe life into it. It was thought that she might be the magnet to bring those blue-collar (white) Reagan Democrats back into the fold, which could bring Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and other battleground states to the Republicans. But this economic crisis, and it is a serious crisis, will be the end of that. Governor Rendell, on ABC’s “This Week” used the following metaphor. And I paraphrase, “If you’re caught in a flood and a man on the bank has a rope, you don’t care if he’s white or black, Jew, Gentile or Muslim. All you care about is he has a rope and may be able to save you.” Obama’s poll numbers have been steadily increasing since the crisis and unless there’s a foreign policy crisis to offset it, they will continue.

An Obama victory in the current economic climate, however, is problematic. Unless Obama repudiates his campaign promises he will increase the capital gains tax and repeal the Bush tax cuts. He also has numerous programs planned that will increase spending. None of this will help the situation, with the possible exception of the spending programs. The tax increases will without doubt make it much worse. And the additional debt is its own problem. But the American people in their ignorance will think a move to the left will solve our economics problem. It won’t. But then neither will electing the Republicans.

A radical new approach is needed. The patient needs surgery. It should be apparent to everyone that the country is in serious trouble. The country needs to embrace unfetered capitalism, less government and a return to a sound monetary system. Our two predominant political parties are incapable of delivering the remedy. Freedom works.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Will Race Decide the Election?

Dick Polman in todays Philadelphia Inquirer suggests it will.

The vast majority of Republicans will not be voting for Mr. Obama, my mother-in-law being an exception that proves the rule. Most Republicans will not support any candidate with positions as far left as Mr. Obama.

The vast majority of Libertarians will not be voting for Mr. Obama. They see the ever expanding federal government as the overwhelming problem facing the country. While many may be somewhat sympathetic to his positions on the war in Iraq, they have a candidate, Bob Barr and will probably vote for him; all twelve of us.

There are a rather large number of people in the middle. These are dedicated Independents who vote Republican or Democratic or even Libertarian. They are always the key to any election assuming the Democrats and Republicans play their expected rolls.

The vast majority of Democrats WILL be voting for Mr. Obama, but as Mr. Polman points out in his article about 12% of Democratic voters cite race as problematic to their supporting Mr. Obama. These are people you would expect to be supportive of Mr. Obama's left of center policy prescriptions. FYI, there are more Democrats in the country than Republicans. Mr. Polman extrapolates that 12% number to the larger electorate and it is not an illogical thing to do. But Mr. Polman should be under no delusion. If Mr. Obama loses the election, it will not be due to racist Republcians or racist Libertarians or racist Independents. It will be because of racist Democrats.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Obama, McCain and playing the race card

I have to admit to being confused while listening to C-SPAN recently. Practically all the callers, some of whom were “professing” to be Republicans, were nonplused about McCain playing the race card with the Brittany/Paris ad. I tried to understand how this could be since it was Barack Obama who made a statement that had overt references to race on July 30, and I quote, “They’re gonna try to say that I’m a risky guy. They’re gonna try and say, well you know, he’s got a funny name and he doesn’t look like all the presidents on the dollar bill and 5 dollar bills…”. There have been protestations by those in the press such as Andrea Mitchell, who said that no one in attendance at this event thought he was talking about race (apparently Andrea can read minds). But the NY Times thinks this statement was in response to McCain’s racial attack, so by that measure it must have been racial if it is in to respond to a racial attack.

This wasn’t the first time Obama alluded to race. In fact, on June 20 in Jacksonville, he did more than just allude to race, he said, “They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?” It doesn’t take a mental giant to juxtapose those two statements and come to the logical conclusion that they are saying the same thing. Like the July 30 statement, this was in the future tense. He was warning of future attacks by the McCain campaign.

So what exactly did the McCain ad say that triggered the July 30 version? Have you seen the Britney Spears/Paris Hilton “celebrity” campaign spot? I couldn’t find a clean clip but this piece includes the essence it.

This ineffectual, somewhat vapid attempt to portray Obama as vapid, has been described by the New York Times as an attempt to play “the race card”. Instead of trying to explain this I’ll just post the operative paragraph from the July 31 NY Times editorial which explains the connection.
“The ad gave us an uneasy feeling that the McCain campaign was starting up the same sort of racially tinged attack on Mr. Obama that Republican operatives ran against Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women.”

And this ladies and gentlemen is the subliminal message behind the “Brittany/Paris” campaign ad; Obama with white women. So, by logical extension this classic race batting technique from the Jim Crow era means Brittany and Paris are the representatives of virtuous young white women? At minimum this reveals the absurdity of the New York Times or the stupidity of the McCain campaign.

On August 2 Mr. Obama held a news conference. He admitted that his earlier comments had a racial component. But insisted he wasn’t playing the race card but rather was just trying to explain that the Republican ad, while not racial, was designed to create FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about him. He said that his biography is atypical and that Republicans are going to exploit his youth and inexperience and somewhat unusual life path because they don’t have a plan for the future and instead want to make him the issue.

Well Mr. Obama needs to get used to being the issue, because this election is a referendum on him. In an undeniable Democratic year, that his lead versus McCain is effectively within the margin of error on national polls, speaks volumes to the unease the American people feel. He should be ahead by 10 points. The ill ease isn’t about race. It’s about ideology. This country has been center-right politically for a very long time. His election means a significant move to the left and a significant number of independents and moderates are concerned about where an Obama presidency will take America.

“Politics ain’t beanbag”, Tip O’Neal is often quoted to have said. But it seems that Obama wants to coat himself with racial Teflon. Obama is going to try and spin any criticism of him that is not issue related, to race. He will try to use race to deflect any and ALL criticisms by making the Republicans defensive about appearing racist. Remember what happened to the Clintons in the primaries. If it can successful against Democrats, it should be a cake-walk against Republicans.

Here’s an example. There was some criticism of Obama being arrogant especially after the speech in Germany. A caller to C-SPAN tried to spin the use of arrogance (when coming from a Republican) as code for “uppity”. In fact, on ABC’s “This Week”, David Gergen made that very argument. As a southerner, he said the real message was very clear to him. Well, it went over the head of this Southerner. If that analogy sticks then arrogance will soon fall from the political lexicon this season. But I don’t think the Republicans will take this lying down. Senator Lindsey Graham made a vociferous defense of this and said they will not allow to be done to them what was done to the Clintons. We’ll see.

This racial Teflon tactic could backfire for Obama. He has been trying to portray himself as post-racial. There ain’t nothin’ post-racial about any of this. If he keeps this up he will further alienate those blue-collar Democrats and independents that he will need to win this election. And if he loses, it will all be because he made race an issue.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Libertarian Party nomination of Bob Barr is good news for Democrats

The Libertarian Party yesterday nominated Bob Barr for President and Wayne Allyn Root for Vice-President. Mr. Barr was elected on the 6th ballot. The nominees on this ballot, in addition to Barr were Mary Ruwart, Wayne Allyn Root and None of the Above. Barr won with 54% of the vote.

Shortly after the results of the 5th ballot were announced Root took the podium to endorse Barr in hopes (or probably more accurately, after a non-smoking back-room deal) to become his VP.

It’s not hard to predict that this effort will probably be as big a failure as previous elections. The Libertarian Party rarely gets more than 1 percent of the vote.

But this year could be different. Bob Barr is a very eloquent politician. He may be a Johnny come lately to libertarianism but he seems to be a dedicated convert. His VP, Wayne Allyn Root, is also a newcomer and he too comes from the Republican Party. Mr. Root is an extremely eloquent and energetic man. He has a certain charisma that Mr. Barr does not. They will make a good team.

Hence the problem for Republicans; Georgia could easily go to the Democrats with native son Barr in the race as a Libertarian. Georgia is probably one of the most libertarian states in the country. Neal Boortz , a very popular nationally syndicated radio talk show host broadcasts from WSB in Atlanta. He’s a pro Iraq War libertarian who seems to be leaning toward John McCain. But Barr is very popular; popular enough to pull enough votes from McCain to put Georgia in the Democratic column.

Georgia has 15 electorial votes, that’s 5.5% of the 270 needed to win. In a very tight election this could be very significant.

I promoted John McCain to become the Republican nominee and he is the best one for the current climate as only he can appeal to moderates and independents. His veto pen would be the only hope for slowing down what will be an avalanche of spending and tax increases once the Democrats get in office with their increased majority in Congress.

But here’s another thought; the Libertarians have an opportunity to improve their brand this election. There may still be a spark of liberty within the American people. And we need that spark to become a conflagration if we’re going to save this republic. Barr and Root could tap into the large donor list of Ron Paul and compete and in the process awaken a latent libertarianism that I have to believe still exists. They won’t win and they could guarantee a Democratic victory but to quote P.J. O’Rourke, “There is only one thing that gives me hope as a Republican, and that is the Democrats. It’s going to be hard to do a worse job running America than the Republicans have, but if anybody can do it, it’s the Democrats.”

The question is what is better for America in the long-run? Is it better to elect John McCain and hope he will be a bulwark against a Democratic Congress creating gridlock and thereby basically maintaining the status-quo. Or should we vote Libertarian help the only party that has a long-term chance to restore our republic to its founding principles.

Right now I just don’t know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Country for Old Men

This is off the path of what typically is found on this site.

I'm ambivaent about the issue of abortion. My position is basically constitutional; the states should decide, it's not a federal issue. And many people both on the left and right are not comfortable with the way privacy was used to decide Roe v. Wade. I say this only to introduce a slice of Americana as found in the book "No Country for Old men", a great book that was made into a great movie that won best picture. Here's the last paragraph of the opening to Chapter 7.

Here a year or two back me and Loretta went to a conference in Corpus Christi and I got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other. And she kept talking about the right wing this and the right wing that. I ain't even sure what she meant by it. The people I know are mostly just common people. Common as dirt, as the saying goes. I told her that and she looked at me funny. She thought I was saying somethin bad about them, but of course that's a high complement in my part of the world. She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I don't like the way this country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well mam, I don't think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I don't have much doubt but what she'll be able to have an abortion. I'm goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she'll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Democratic Party Implosion Watch: March 29, 2008

A major tenet of leftist philosophy is a willingness to sacrifice for the common good. Leftists generally are against individualism and identify more with groups. They generally believe collectivism is a better way to attain our common goals than with individual efforts and no one can deny that in some instances organized collective effort is best. One should bow to the collective wisdom to attain the common good.

Let's apply this philosophy to the current situation within the Democratic Party. We have 2 individuals running for president. Only one of them can become the nominee. It is rapidly becoming the prevaling wisdom within and without the party that a protracted primary campaign will become, and to many minds has become, damaging to the parties chances of winning in November. With every day that passes the Democrats are providing more and more fodder for future Republican commercials.

So why hasn't one of these candidates capitulated? Isn't that the proper thing to do for the "common good" of the Democratic Party? Mrs. Clinton, by just about every metric, cannot win the nomination without creating a significant schism. Why doesn't she concede? And Mr. Obama, he's relatively young and even though he has a slight but insurmountable lead, he could use some additional experience; why not agree to become Mrs. Clinton's vice-president? He could then run for president 8 years hence, several years before his 60th birthday.

The Republicans, that band of darwanistic individuals, seem to be much more civilized in this area. They traditionally rally around the putative favorite early on. This cycle was a bit more contentious than usual, but in the end they came together and much sooner than the Democrats, in no small part due to their winner take all philosophy in the primaries.

When it comes to coveting power, the Democrats are a level above the Republicans. The Republicans are just as capable of abusing their power. One need look no further than the Republican run congresses since 1994 to see how power can be abused. Or President Bush and the expondential expansion of presidential power for which he has been responsible.

But there's one difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats believe power is their birth-right. How can it not be? Their whole reason for wanting power is so they can make your life better. After all, they know what's best for you. They're not in this for themselves. It's all about making sure you're better off. And they're happy to take advantage of others in the society to accomplish that goal. They are therefore deserving of power.

There's not a penny's worth of policy difference between Obama and Clinton. Either one is fully capably of implementing the Democratic Party's quasi-socialist agenda. So the reason neither one will give up is simply this; their thirst for power is infinitely greater than their concern for the integrity of the Democratic Party. Hypocrisy in politics is unavoidable.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Democratic Party Implosion Watch: March 27, 2008

It's getting hard to keep up with all the latest cannibalist commentary from Democrats about Democrats:

  • Bill Clinton suggested the American people have 2 good, patriotic candidates from which to choose; Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

  • James Carville, the Ragin' Cajun, said Govenor Bill Richardson's (former Clinton cabinet officer) endorsement was particularly timely, Holy Week, the same week that Judas took 30 pieces of silver. I'm so glad most Cajun's aren't like Mr. Carville.

  • Bill Richardson said he wasn't going to get in the gutter with Mr. Carville, then in the next breath said the comment by Carville was "typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton."

Not bad entertainment...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Obama Speech

There has been an almost euphoric aura around the campaign of Barack Obama. It continues albeit to a lesser degree after the controversy surrounding the statements of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor. Mr. Obama, being the excellent politician that he is, took immediate action and gave an excellent speech this past Tuesday inwhich he addressed the multi-faceted problem of race with an honest appraisal of the situation from both perspectives.

From the main stream press there has been almost universal encomia. Race, the most divisive issue in this country, an issue that has beeen responsible for much suffering on many levels has come into this presidential contest; you knew it would. While the speech was very good, it was not perfect and raised serious questions regarding his commitment to his principles and ability to lead.

He made a moral equivalence between his pastor whose comments negatively influenced literally thousands of people on a regular basis as the same as his white grandmother's racial comments that made him "cringe".

He made a second moral equivalence between Ms. Ferraro's comments about Mr. Obama's success being due to his being black and the implication by "some" of her "deep-seated racial bias" and Reverend Wright's incendiary remarks; to which she took significant umbrage. This exchange didn't do anything but accelerate the growing schism within the party.

But these were relatively minor errors.

In his speech Mr. Obama said, "I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren." Noble words.

Senator Obama needs to explain why he didn't engage his former pastor in a colloquy regarding his developing post-racial ideology and how it conflicts with liberation theology. Liberation theology, as espoused by Reverend Wright, runs counter to his above stated reason for running for president. So one cannot be blamed for having some doubt either about his committment to those noble words or his ability to effect change. If he can't or won't confront his own pastor and congregation and challenge them to move toward those noble words, how can we expect him to challenge and move a country?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms

The Supreme Court today took up, for the first time since 1939, a Second Amendment case that goes to its heart.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

In the article I read I'm heartened that some of the justices and Justice Kennedy in particular reads the amendment correctly by seeing the first clause as subordinate to the second.

The crucial question will be to what degree the Court interprets the extent to which the first clause provides the grounds for regulation. But we'll have to wait till June to learn their decision.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Democratic Party Implosion Watch: March 16, 2008

I alluded to a potential problem for Senator Obama in my initial piece where I endorsed John McCain. The problem had to do with Obama's church; its warm relations with Louis Farrakhan and the questions it raises about who Barack Obama is. The revelations, if you pardon the pun, of the last few days regarding the good Reverend Jeremiah Wright exacerbates the problem exponentially.

What a bunch of vitriolic extreme left-wing nonsense. Unbelievable. Well, no, actually very believable. There is a strain of African-American "liberation theology", which came out of the civil rights movement, that is extreme. In one of the sermons, the Reverend said the U.S. knew the Pearl Harbor attack was coming and that the U.S. government was responsible for HIV genocide. This is the kind of rhetoric one would expect from a student of extreme leftist Howard Zinn who wrote the admittedly biased "A Peoples History of the United States.

Michele Norris of NPR on "Meet the Press" today suggested that the "tone" was nothing that you don't hear every Sunday morning in many African-American churches. She also noted that Obama attempted to explain the rhetoric as being the words of "men of ferocious intelligence" who came out of Civil Rights movement. However, Obama also says that words mean things. He therefore has a problem explaining the disconnect between his vision of inclusiveness and his church's anti-American and somewhat racial separationist rhetoric.

David Broder of "The Washington Post", also on "Meet the Press", asked the all important question, "What was it about Rev. Wright that attracted Obama when he had, as a newcomer to Chicago, choice of any number of churches and pastors to go to?" I await an answer.

The rhetoric of the sermons and the enthusiasm with which they were accepted by the congregation help us to understand Michelle Obama's (Barack's wife) more angry and aggressive tone. You may recall the small controversy she created a few weeks ago with her comments about never having been proud of American until now and America being a "mean" country.

Will this be used by Hillary to influence those super delegates about the electability of Mr. Obama? They had better be careful if they do but I'm not sure they'll need to. This furor will raise questions in their minds. The reason for the super delegates in the first place is to make sure they nominate an electable person.

It's a win-win for the non-leftists in this country. If Obama wins the nomination he becomes damaged and hopefully somewhat easier to beat in November. If Hillary manages to get the super delegates to ignore the elected delegate and popular count and vote for her she will create a schism in the Democratic Party that will provide the best chance for winning in November.

The question for those Democratic super delegates is this; which is better, a unified Democratic Party around the compromised Barack Obama or a deeply divided Democratic Party with Hillary Clinton and her baggage. I continue to pray for the latter but anticipate the former.

There is one other possibility. One or the other of these campaigns will take an objective look at the political landscape and being a good liberal, will defer to the other and offer to be number 2 on the ticket, thereby sacrificing for the greater good of their Party.

Logically, this should be Hillary. But if it happens it will be Barack, who will thereby insure his nomination in 2012 when Hillary totally screws up, becomes a one termer and the worse president in history, surpassing even the incompetence of George Bush.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Democratic Party Implosion Watch: March 13, 2008

Watching the Democrats is so much fun this year. God (if there is a God) couldn't have scripted this better. As my boss would say, "grab a bag of popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show."

A few recent points:

  • Howard Wolfson, Mrs. Clinton's attack dog called Obama "Ken Starr" for demanding the Clinton Library release contributors to that library; for demanding that the Clintons release their tax records and that they allow the national archives to release her schedule from when she was First Lady. Subliminal; Obama is really kinda like a really bad Republican.
  • Mrs. Clinton's reference to Obama not being a Muslim with the qualifier "as far as I know". Subliminal; perhaps he IS a Muslim.
  • Clinton campaign publicises a photograph of Obama in the local garb of some country that implies he is a Muslim. Subliminal; see he really IS a Muslim.
  • Mrs. Clinton said McCain is more ready to be president than Obama. If this doesn't bring home the point the the Clinton's will say and do ANYTHING (even praise her putative Republican opponent to Obama's detriment) to win, nothing else will. Clintonian needs come before the party's need. Subliminal; Obama is WORSE than a Republican.
  • Geraldine Ferraro, a Clinton supporter says Barack Obama is ahead only because he's black. So the Democratic candidate for Vice President in 1984 has been branded a racist by the media. Political correctness, which has been foisted on the country by the left, comes full circle to hurt the left. And it ain't over yet folks.

It appears, as things stand now, we will have a Federal Government under complete Democratic control come January. So, take some time to enjoy the political season and derive some satisfaction as events unfold, even if feelings of schadenfreude are all there is.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Wayne Allyn Root, Candidate for Libertarian Nomination for President

I was introduced to Wayne Allyn Root on March 1 at the Georgia Libertarian Party Convention. All I can say is, extremely impressive. I've seen and heard many Libertarian politicians over the years but this the first man who is charismatic enough to bring the simple but unpopular message of libertarianism to the electorate. He actually smiles while delivering a speech. He is engaging and speaks in an extemporaneous manner. I'm sure this was a well rehearsed "stump speech", but nonetheless it was impressively delivered. An interesting factoid is he graduated the same day with the same degree (Political Science) from the same university (Columbia) as Barack Obama.

At the convention he debated a wacko Roman Catholic named Imperato who's raison d'entre is his connections with the Vatican who will "endorse" him for president and thereby deliver 31 million catholics to the Libertarian Party. A genuine nut case (a rich nut case, but a nut case nonetheless) and someone who would normally fit well into the Libertarian Party; a party primarily consisting of Atheists, Deists with a few token Christians and a sprinkling of Eastern rite followers.

Root seems to be sympathetic to the War on Radical Islamist terrorists while acknowledging that the war in Iraq was run incompetently. He sees the existential threat posed by these radical factions, something classic libertarians deny; I give you exhibit A, Ron Paul. Root comes across as an optimistic person. Ron Paul always looks and acts angry. And he gets into the weeds of libertarian philosophy, which is antithetical to the socialist trend we are currently traveling. We need someone like Root who can bring the message in such a way that people will be willing to learn more and assimilate the philosophy into their worldview, a time-consuming educational process.

Wayne Allyn Root deserves to be watched closely. He doesn't have a serious chance this year but he or someone like him is the future of the Libertarian Party and the Libertarian Party is the only 3rd party that has a chance to break through the current polity. Give him a look-see.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

H.L Mencken on The New Deal

The rhetoric is a bit rough by today's standards but the underlying point has validity.

"The Bad Boy of Baltimore" is a biography of H.L. Mencken by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers. On page 409 of that book is the following:

"By the mid-1930's, thanks to the New Deal, all that self-reliance had changed, prompting Mencken to declare: 'There is no genuine justice in any scheme of feeding and coddling the loafer whose only ponderable energies are devoted wholly to reproduction. Nine-tenths of the rights he bellows for are really privileges and he does nothing to deserve them.' Despite the billions spent on an individual, 'he can be lifted transiently but always slips back again.' Thus, the New Deal had been 'the most stupendous digenetic enterprise ever undertaken by man.... We not only acquired a vast population of morons, we have inculcated all morons, old or young, with the doctrine that the decent and industrious people of the country are bound to support them for all time. The effects of that doctrine are bound to be disastrous soon or late.

'When someone asked, "And what, Mr. Mencken, would you do about the unemployed?" He looked up with a bland expression. "We could start by taking away their vote," he said, deadpan. Mencken was not surprised when the majority disagreed. "There can be nothing even remotely approaching a rational solution of the fundamental national problems until we face them in a realistic spirit," he later reflected, and that was impossible so long as educated Americans remained responsive "to the Roosevelt buncombe."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Barak Obama: Preemptive Warrior?

There was something particularly interesting in Senator Obama's Houston speech tonight (Feb. 19, 2008). In it he addressed the responsibilities of the Commander-in Chief. He said, and I quote, "As your Commander-in-Chief my job will be to keep you safe.... And I WILL not hesitate to strike ANY who WOULD do us harm." (emphasis added).

This is very interesting language. The last sentence is the operative one. It is declarative and unambiguously states that he "WILL ... strike ANY who WOULD do us harm." Read that again. I made straight C's in English but "would" is used here to express intent. Said another way, any who INTEND to do us harm, he WILL not hesitiate to STRIKE. Am I crazy or does this not express, or at minimum imply, preemptive action to thwart violence planned (but not initiated) against us? I can't find anything on his website that supports the idea of pre-emptive action but this speech seems to indicate assent. I submitted a question at his website. We'll see if I get a response.

I don't know what this means. Is Obama more of a hawk than he appears? Is he beginning the process of moving his security position more to the middle as he appears more and more likely to get the nomination? I'd say no to the former and probably to the latter. He seems to take positions that are both hawkish and dovish. He wants to begin removing troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008 but wants to increase the size of the army and marines to fight the global war on terror. I've noticed this tendency to be sympathetic to both sides of an issue in several areas while reading parts of his book, "The Audacity of Hope".

One thing is certain, it was obvious from the relatively tepid applause that this was not as well received as the numerous rhetorical flourishes that followed which emphasized the need to end the war and bring our troops home.

I welcome some serious scrutiny of Mr. Obama. I believe we'll see more and more details coming out that will cast some doubt on his worthiness for this high office. But don't look for the mainstream press to bring light to his radical ideas. He will be portrayed by them as mainstream. Look to the blogosphere to break the big news. If big enough, the traditional press will have no choice but to run with it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Super-delegates, democracy and the Democratic Party

The Democratic Party has a problem that’s getting quite a bit of press. It’s the super-delegate problem. It was a rule begun in 1981 for the purpose of precluding some maverick politician with absolutely NO CHANCE of winning the general election from getting the nomination. The immediate irony is this rule may preclude a black politician with EVERY CHANCE of winning the election, from winning. But, besides irony, this rule reveals a deep hypocrisy.

The Democratic Party; the name of course comes from, of course, democracy. The last three definitions in Merriam-Websters dictionary are particularly enlightening.

3 : capitalized : the principles and policies of the Democratic Party in the United States *from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy — C. M. Roberts*
4 : the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
5 : the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

In the run for the Democratic nomination for president two thousand twenty-five delegates are needed to win out of a total 4049. Nineteen percent or 796 are “super-delegates”, delegates who can switch their vote at any time. They are non-elected delegates and come from the elite of the party, who can basically usurp the democratic election of a nominee they don’t like. You may recall George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. A socialist, George Orwell wrote this as a critique of Communism, which he despised. In there is a famous quote about some of the animals being “more equal than others”. That’s basically what we have here.

One will immediately see the contradiction between definitions 4 and 5 above and this policy of the Democratic Party. It is an abrogation of both definitions. It potentially takes away power from the “common people” of the party because they can’t be trusted and puts final control in the hands of the “ruling class”, the oligarchy of the party, if you will.

This is very consistent with implied leftist dogma that elites should be in control because they know what’s best for everyone. Democracy is a means to power, but they take care to control against the passions of the hoi polloi that could deny them their ultimate goal. I hasten to add that controlling the passions of the mob is also a very small r republican idea. It is the basis of a republican form of government. But Democrats don’t like republicanism. They believe in the popular vote, they believe in unbridled democracy albeit with constitutional protections of minority rights. They try to usurp federalism at every turn with legislation that attempts to reduce the power of the individual states.

They were very upset in 2000 when Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote. Their take was the will of the people had been superseded by an anachronistic elitist system. This super-delegate scheme is basically a scaled down version of the same idea, except worse, these people aren’t even elected. According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer “all 398 members of the Democratic National Committee are super-delegates. So, too, is every Democrat in the House and Senate, as well as every Democratic governor.”

They may have avoided this train wreck if they had adopted a winner-take-all approach to each state primary, but I guess they didn't want any of the delegates to FEEL BAD about not getting ANY votes so they put in place a system of proportional vote allocation. In the end the Republicans, who used a winner-take-all approach, ended up with a more democratic scheme than the Democrats.

This whole situation is somewhat metaphorical for what one should expect from the Democrats if and when they attain complete control of the federal government; a complicated mess.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mitt Romney: Redeemed

The news today that Mitt Romney has bowed out of the race took me by surprise. I've never been a Romney fan for many reasons. My opposition to him has been viscerial. I just don't trust him. The only political person to whom I have a more negative reaction is Hillary. And for some reason, the fact that neither of those 5 good-looking healthy young sons of his has found his way into the military I find troublesome. One of my reasons, not mentioned in my previous post, for supporting John McCain is he has skin in the game. He has 2 sons in the military.

But Mitt's resignation from the presidential campaign is honorable and I have more respect for him now. What he did, as he said in his speech, was good for the country and good for the Republican Party. It leaves McCain with more time to unify the party for what will be the fight of its life against whomever gets the Democratic nod.

I also think it is good politics for Mitt. Should McCain fail this November and he probably will, especially if Barak Obama gets the nomination, Mitt will be in excellent position to be the Republican nominee in 2012.

Thank you, Mitt. You've done an honorable thing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Compromise; John McCain for President

This is probably the most exciting political year in many decades. We have a Republican party in disarray and a Democratic party that will nominate either the first woman or the first African-American for President of the United States; the dynamics of which is causing a bit of disarray in that party as well. More on that later. In case you haven't noticed, this is a Democratic year and one of these two will likely become president.

I have strong libertarian leanings. As a libertarian my preference is for less government and more individual responsibility for oneself and others. But I'm not a purest. I come to my own conclusions and prefer to think for myself and in the process sometimes compromise those principles.

Divided government is good. By divided government I mean that we, particularly those of us who pay the lion’s share of the taxes, are better off when the executive and legislative branches are not under the control of the same political party. I thought the Republican Party could be trusted to hold all the reins of power, but that has been proven empirically to NOT be the case. The federal budget is approaching $3 trillion per year. In 1998 it was less than $2 trillion.

It is generally accepted that the next Congress will remain in Democratic hands. There's little hope the Republicans can hold onto the numbers they currently have. The Democrats will probably expand their majorities by some measure in both houses. In the House it's 232 versus 199. In the Senate it's a tie. Independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman caucus with the Democrats making an effective 51 to 49 majority. The Democrat probably won't get the 60 vote majority needed to automatically get cloture on any measure but with help of a few moderate Republicans they will.

It therefore becomes extremely important for a Republican to be elected president. Only a fiscally conservative Republican who believes there is an existential threat from radical Islamists would have the ability to provide some measure of checks and balances to a Democratic Congress. Senator John McCain isn't a libertarian; Congressman Ron Paul is, but Paul's ability to get 5% of the vote, while pretty good for a libertarian, ain't quite gonna cut it. And while I can make a case for why Paul's stand on the war, which is diametrically opposed to McCains, could also be a good thing in the long run, he still doesn't have a chance to win, so why bother. We have to be realistic in these things and while McCain has a nasty habit of making nice-nice with Democrats, we have to make a logical, reasoned decision for whom to vote in the primary. With the fiscal issues facing this country, divided government is vitally important and he's our only chance.

John McCain can get the votes of Independents. He proved that in New Hampshire. The vote in Florida will be crucial. If he can win there, where ONLY Republicans can vote in the primary it will indicate that the mainstream Republican base is coming to the same conclusion.

And John McCain is without question the only Republican who can beat either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. He would have an easier time beating Hillary. Hillary’s nomination will motivate a dispirited and dismayed Republican Party. Her baggage is well known. But should Hillary get the nomination, even after having denied the nomination to the first Black man who could realistically win the office, she will still be able to rally and unite the Democratic Party. The Democrats are motivated and smell blood. Their desire for divided government dissipated the day after the election in November of 2006. They desperately want both legislative and executive power. The Reagan Democrats are fed up with George Bush as are ALL the Independents and some minority of Republicans. Only someone like John McCain, who can attract those Independents and Reagan Democrats along with anti-Hillary Republicans, can bring together a coalition that can win in November.

Barack Obama’s nomination would be a bit more problematic. But before we get into that, I can't help a divergence to discuss the current fight between the Clintons and Obama. This is simply too delicious. I've been collecting the op-eds from the NY Times columnists, Gail Collins, Maureen Down and Bob Herbert. Since Jan.1, they've collectively written 7 anti-Clinton columns. This group is NOT part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy". The recent columns have been critical of the Clintons sliming of Senator Obama. I think the Democrats are coming to understand what people on the Right have known all along. The Clintons will stop at nothing to gain power. Using underhanded tactics to beat Republicans is one thing, using such unsavory tactics to deny the presidency to the first legitimate Black politician who can win white votes in Iowa; that's another thing altogether. The other interesting thing about this internecine fight is watching the Left hoisted by their own petard. Some have argued that the Obama’s African-American supporters are being a bit too sensitive about these attacks. "Politics ain't beanbag" as the former Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neil used to say. Well, if the African-American community is in fact being too sensitive, could it be that the victim mentality that Bill Cosby has so eloquently spoken of, is partly to blame? Would it be over the top to suggest that this sense of victim-hood was, to the extent it's a factor, exacerbated by, the Great Society programs of the Democratic Party? Just a thought.

But back to Obama and McCain. If McCain needs independent voters to beat Hillary, he'll need them just as much, if not more, to beat Senator Obama. Mr. Obama has a gift of oratory that Mrs. Clinton doesn't possess. A significant theme in his speeches is his desire to bring the country together; black and white; left and right. And this resonates with White American because it wants very much to get past its racial past. What better way to prove to ourselves and the world that we have become a truly ecumenical society and have overcome our racial divide than to elect the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas? I listened to his speech the weekend of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. I have to admit I became emotionally mesmerized. But Mr. Obama is not without his baggage. He truly lacks experience and it is somewhat difficult to understand what he really believes. For example, his desire to bring the country together when juxtaposed next to his membership in a church that stresses African nationalism and presents awards to Louis Farrakan brings questions as to his true beliefs, assuming they will be asked; which brings up the delicate question of the strategy the Republicans would use against him. If you think the Clintons are getting heat for criticizing Obama and bringing race into the political equation, justified or not, just imagine what will happen to the Republicans.

The bottom line is both Clinton and Obama are of the same political cloth. With control of the legislature and the executive, they will pass new entitlements (such as universal health-care) and institute tax policies that are antithetical to positive economic growth and which will surely lead to increased government debt and probably economic malaise, the likes of which we haven't seen since the Seventies.

John McCain is the only one who can save us.