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.