Who’s To Blame?

So, Obamacare passed and it passed without any Republican votes. So who’s to blame for the miasmic mess that resulted from last night’s vote?

Republicans.

Every Republican that is sick about the time wasted on this ridiculous health care bill; who is sick about the process and dirty deals it took to get this bill passed need look no further than their mirror when looking for someone to blame. I know that everyone is saying that since the Dems passed this without any Republican votes that they own it. That is certainly true and it doesn’t take a political pro to know that there will be some Democratic heads rolling come November. But Republicans need to remember one thing when lamenting this new health care mess:

Elections have CONSEQUENCES!

Every Republican congressman and senator that went spend-crazy between 2000 and 2008 needs to look in the mirror and realize that this is their fault. They are the reason (not Bush alone) for the losses in the House and Senate in 2006 and 2008 that gave Democrats these majorities and this opportunity. Every Republican primary voter who decided that nominating a geriatric, ideologically fuzzy curmudgeon for a presidential candidate would be a good idea, needs to wake up this morning and say, “This is my fault.”

Like I said before, elections have consequences. Let’s hope this coming November that the consequences play out in our favor. If they do, and Republicans can gain a majority in the House and/or the Senate (extremely unlikely) let’s make sure that we do everything we can to get the bulk of this nonsense repealed.

Can There Be Virtue In Riding The Fence?

Jonah Goldberg is one of those writers that seems uncommonly insightful and has the ability look at things from angles that others miss. He communicates all of this in a refreshing, no-nonsense way. Here’s his latest take on the proposed stimulus bill and the “virtues” of being a centrist solely for the sake of being a centrist.

Conservative Quandary

In many respects this election is a lose-lose proposition for true conservatives. If Obama wins (and that is highly likely) he’ll have a democratic held House and Senate and together they will tag-team the American people, taxing and spending as if there’s no tomorrow. It’s a scenario that is basically a conservative’s nightmare that I think will make us think fondly of the Carter years.

But what if McCain wins? I think there are only a few things that conservatives can look forward to in a McCain administration. One, he will prosecute the War on Terror effectively and can be trusted to do what’s right when it comes to Iran and an increasingly aggressive Russia. Two, he will probably try to be fiscally conservative. He’s promised to work to extend the Bush tax cuts and has promised to veto any bill with pork in it as well as cut federal spending. But these things will be hard to do with a Congress controlled by democrats. Plus he has a tendency to shoot from the hip and jump up on moral high horses as demonstrated by his latest proposal of $300 billion in federal spending to buy up bad mortgages and renegotiate them. So as long as it’s a noble cause (in his eyes) he doesn’t appear to mind putting your tax dollars to work.Three, he says that he will nominate Supreme Court judges in the mold of Alito and Roberts. That would be great as both of the oldest justices that are likely to retire in the next four years are on the liberal side of the court. But many conservatives question whether or not McCain would actually nominate judges like Roberts and Alito. Both have already dealt blows to McCains’ signature legislation, the McCain-Feingold Act. Many conservatives loathe this legislation and view it as a clear infringement on the free speech rights protected by the First Amendment. So the questions is: will McCain nominate someone he knows would be hostile to his baby? So even two of the three things that conservatives can feel good about McCain are shaky prospects at best. And once you set those issues aside, you have all of the issues that McCain “reaches across the aisle” for. The aforementioned McCain-Feingold, Climate Change (not much different from Obama on this), his rampant populism (oil companies, Wall Street, CEOs – all bad). These are all things that concerned conservatives about McCain during the primaries. But then he won the nomination and threw conservatives a bone with Palin and we all went giddy and weak in the knees over her. I know that he nominated Palin to “solidify the base” so that he could move to the center during the general election. I know that allows him to appeal to independents and that they might put him over the top. I know that’s a good campaign strategy. It’s just that the more I see of McCain, whether it’s in the debates or on the stump the more queasy I feel.

Idiots on Parade

As you can tell by the title, this is about politics.

I watched the Town Hall debate last night and it just confirmed a theory that I’ve been resisting for some time now. I have a friend who subscribes to what he calls the “16% Theory”. This year I have had to admit that I’m starting to buy into that theory. The 16% Theory states that every election is decided by 16% of the population. This 16% remains “undecided” until close to the end and their mind is usually made up by something one of the politicians either says or does. The theory further postulates that these undecideds are undecided because they are either stupid, ignorant or too lazy to inform themselves on the issues. In any of the cases, you really don’t want the fate of the country in these people’s hands. Unfortunately, it is. This election has made me a believer in the 16% Theory and last night’s debate was a clear example.

The parade of idiots we saw last night, starts with all eighty of the village idiots that were in the audience. I think the last time I heard questions as lame was at the MTV town hall meeting with Clinton back in ’92. This was where the boxers or briefs question was thrown out (as if she didn’t already know). There were a couple of thoughtful questions, one from a 78 year old woman via the internet asking what each candidate would ask Americans to sacrifice for the good of the country, but mostly they were simplistic and more often than not uttered in stuttering fashion.

Then there was the ring master of the idiot circus, Mr. Tom “I-so-desperately-want-to-be-the-voice-of-America” Brokaw. He really had a hold on that moderators whip…for about the first 30 seconds. The rest of the night he was whining about everyone breaking the time constraints. Hey Tom, you’re the moderator. If one of the candidates goes over time cut them off! That’s your job. Your only purpose for being in the room, really. And then, after complaining the whole time about the candidates, he decided that since he couldn’t enforce the rules he’d break them too and tacked on his own “coda” to one of the audience questions. I was really dumbfounded by his performance.

And that brings me to the two senators. the few of you who read this blog know that I am a Republican. You also probably know that I’m not a huge McCain fan. There is so much that I would like to say about the candidates’ performances last night but it would take me all morning. So I will just address what I thought was the most bone-headed statement from each candidate. I didn’t write the exact quotes down last night, so these are paraphrases. In his answer to the first question, John McCain talked about what he likes to talk about most: government spending and corruption gone wild. His main point was that government spending is out of control and that it has to be reigned in. He immediately followed that statement by outlining his plan to have the treasury secretary spend $300 billion buying up bad mortgages so that they could be renegotiated! Yes, he’s so against out-of-control government spending, he’d like to tack on another $300 billion to the $700 billion he just voted for. Genius! Barack Obama’s moment was less obvious but still great in its own right. In one of his answers on the energy situation Obama stated that he was for limited off-shore drilling but that he would first tell the oil companies to drill on the (I don’t remember the exact number he used) however many million acres of land at their disposal. So basically use it or loose it. Let’s look at the logic behind that statement. The greedy (by most politicians and unfortunately most Americans count) oil companies don’t want to use the millions of acres of land that they already have to drill on. Instead they want to drill off-shore where the oil is harder to find and more expensive to extract. Probably just so they can stick it to Mother Nature. Hey, here’s a thought: since oil companies are into making money, I bet that if there was sufficient amounts of oil on those millions of acres that they could get at more cost effectively than off-shore drilling, they’d do it. But of course thinking about things logically doesn’t get votes. Blaming oil companies, Wall Street and government corruption does.

The final idiot of the night is the reason I’m starting to sour on the Fox News Channel (which of course is what I watched the debate on). That would be the King of the Idiots (on the conservative side. Al Franken is up there on the left), Sean Hannity. I could say more, but do I need to?

United We Fall

I read an interesting article recently about Barack Obama and especially his repeated calls for “Unity”. Much has been made about his supposed ability to “reach out across the aisle” and to “unite” Americans of all parties, races and creeds. But oddly enough, Obama doesn’t have much of a history of bi-partisan voting. During his tenure in the U. S. Senate he has actually voted the party line more often than the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. That bears repeating. The guy that the Democrats voted to lead them in the Senate has had fewer party-line votes than Obama. The main thrust of the article is best stated as: who cares about unity? While Obama seems to put unity forward as a value, unity is actually value neutral. If we could all unite around the banner of Peace, Love, and Girl Scout Cookies that would be a good thing. Nazi Germany was pretty united; that was not so good. And if Obama is so hot for unity, why doesn’t he jump on board with all of the President’s policies? Wouldn’t that be a great example of reaching across the aisle? Hey, if you want unity lead by example. Of course, that scenario is as ridiculous as his call for unity is insincere. In reality Obama doesn’t believe the steaming pile he’s shoveling any more than you or I should. His voting record proves that. The fact is that the call for “unity” makes for great sound bites and campaign rhetoric but has no value or practical use in the American political arena. Who would respect the politician that sacrificed his political values in the name of unity? In fact, one of the problems that so many Republicans had/have with McCain is that he seems to have taken that tack too often for comfort. The problem with Obama’s calls for unity is that it sounds as if he’s labeling dissent as unhelpful or even un-American. Basically, his message seems to be if you’re not with us you’re part of the problem. 

The Founding Fathers certainly didn’t care too much about unity. As I mentioned in a post before, the political atmosphere of the Revolutionary/Founding period was probably the most rancorous period in our history. The Founding Fathers couldn’t agree on whether or not to split with England or stay and press for more rights. Once the split happened, they couldn’t agree on how to prosecute the war. Should Washington try for a bold, decisive move crushing the invading army on the field of battle or should it be a “war of posts” whereby Washington would adopt a defensive position only joining in battle when absolutely necessary, thereby wearing the enemy down in a protracted war? Once they had achieved independence and it became obvious that the Articles of Confederation weren’t doing the job, the Founders were divided on whether to revamp the Articles or ditch them and create the government eventually outlined in the Constitution. And even the system laid out in the Constitution not only sets up an adversarial system among the three branches with checks and balances but also has the individual States contending against the Federal government.

And then of course, the Founders gave us the two party political system. And although at the time, most of them detested the idea of partisanship (Jefferson famously saying “If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”), James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution”, later admitted that it was one of the greatest of their generation’s contributions. The party founded by Jefferson and Madison was created solely for the purpose of thwarting the efforts of the Federalists led by George Washington, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson spent most of his time as Secretary of State (for Washington) and Vice President (for Adams) scheming against and trying to undermine the authority and accomplishments of the very administrations he was “working” for. And he did it all because he felt these fellow patriots were betraying the “true spirit” of 1776. So the myth of the all-for-one-and-one-for-all attitude of the Founders is just that, a myth. The fact is that the Founding Fathers recognized that constant debate and contention gave our government the best chance of meeting the challenges it was sure to face.

The Founders for the most part were unified in their desire to see America succeed; they just strongly disagreed about what success meant and about how to achieve it. The same holds true today. I believe that, with a few exceptions, most of our politicians want what’s best for America and her people. But we all have different ideas on what truly is best and how to go about making our vision for America a reality. The best thing our politicians, specifically the presidential candidates, can do is jettison the silly rhetoric and have honest discussions about their ideas on the direction our country should take.

The Times, They Are A-Changin’?

Let’s talk a little politics, shall we? Specifically, the current Presidential race.

Barack Obama has swept the recent Democratic primaries (I believe he’s won 10 in a row) and is now, at least in delegate count, the front runner for the nomination. With his fresh young face, his rhetoric of “Change We Can Believe In” and his Kennedyesque qualities, his possible nomination is making Democrats’ collective pants go crazy. The problem with the whole, I’m-the-candidate-that-will-clean-up Washington bit, is that it doesn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pleasant bed-time fairy tale, but its just that, a fairy tale. Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington anymore. Actually, I take that back. He does, but when he gets there he’s told to shut up, vote the party line, and if he’s a good boy, he might make it on a committee after he’s paid his dues. Now Obama hasn’t been around long enough to be a hardened Washington insider so his “change” rhetoric might play for a while, but sooner or later he’s going to have to articulate actual ideas he has about policy to back up his vague and ambiguous calls for change.

Now, as a Republican, the Democratic scenario provides me with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I think that Hillary would be an opponent that McCain could beat. She is nothing if not polarizing and I think more people hate her than love her. On the other hand, while I’m not a Clinton hater (I don’t believe that Bill was the devil; I don’t believe he should have been impeached; I think he accomplished some good things), I ama Hillary hater and nothing would please me more than to see her lose the nomination which, in her mind, was predestined to be hers. But possibly the best scenario, for Republicans, would be for Obama to cruise in to the Convention with a sizable lead in the delegate count and for the Super Delegates (fighting for truth, justice, and the fact that we know what’s best for the people) to give it to Hillary. Then you’ll probably get a bunch of pissed off Democrats who’ll take their toys home because they don’t want to play anymore and stay away from the polls, a prospect that can only help the Republicans.

On the Republican side of things, McCain has the nomination wrapped up, although the “miracle worker” Huckabee can’t quite get it through his thick skull. A guy I work with said that what Huckabee doesn’t realize is that if Jesus came back today, it would only hurt Huckabee because the only people that support him would all be “gone with the rapture” as it were. I’m not really a fan of McCain. I was really getting warmed up to the idea of Romney in ’08, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I’m one of those group of conservatives who thinks that McCain would have felt far too comfortable as John Kerry’s running mate if he had accepted the offer.  Historically, Independents like McCain so that’s good for us. And he’s not quite the apostate that some make him out to be. He’s pretty conservative on social issues and foreign policy, and he’s talks a fiscally conservative line. But there’s the sticky issues of McCain-Feingold and the fact that he’s always wanting to jump in bed with the Democrats at the most inconvenient times (usually to upset the plans of his party’s sitting President and his personal nemesis, GWB). My personal impression is that, sometimes, McCain’s only guiding principle seems to be: What’s best for John McCain. But, as all good Republicans, I’ll get in line and support him come election day.

Speaking of election day, and like, actually voting on said day, one of my favorite aspects of this year’s political season has been the Republican (in name only) candidate Ron Paul’s campaign. Every day, from mid-2007 on, I would see on the front page of Digg at least half a dozen articles/blogs extolling the greatness of Ron Paul. Or articles/blogs about the “Mainstream Media” trying to subvert his candidacy. If you believed the buzz on the internet, Ron Paul was Washington, Lincoln and T. R. all rolled into one and ready to kick some Washington-insider ass. You’ve got to love a guy who says he’ll disband the IRS and the CIA on day one of his Presidency.  I’m holding a Ron Paul business card that I picked up and on the back of it it says “Ron Paul is #1”. It goes on to say “Ron won more straw polls than any other Republican (21 of 43 straw polls across America); Ron placed third or better in 79% of all straw polls (34 of 43 across America); Won national debate polls on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News and C-SPAN; Ron Paul is the most-mentioned candidate in blogs according to Technorati.com since May 2007; More ‘Cash On Hand’ than McCain, Huckabee, Tancredo and Hunter combined (Stats as of 11/17/07)” On the front, it has his campaign slogan, “Hope for America”. I think in an effort to be more truthful, he should change his campaign slogan to “Ron Paul, you can’t buy crazy like this!” It’s too bad for Paul (although good for America) that none of those bloggers or people polled could actually find the time to get off of their fat lazy asses and actually vote (maybe they were too busy playing WoW). When I look at CNN’s Election Center 2008 website it shows that he never got more than 8% of votes in any primary. I guess that’s what you get when you rely on people who write anonymously from their mother’s basement as your base.

Anyway, the one thing we can probably all agree on is that, so far, this political season has been much more interesting than any of us thought it would be. I can’t wait until both candidates are decided and we get to see them duke it out until November. And then…back to business as usual.