Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Flake We Need

November 5, 2008

Jeff Flake‘s editorial in the Washington Post today is exactly what I needed this morning. It’s exactly what I would have liked the losing presidential candidate to have said in a concession speech:

I suggest that we return to first principles. At the top of that list has to be a recommitment to limited government. After eight years of profligate spending and soaring deficits, voters can be forgiven for not knowing that limited government has long been the first article of faith for Republicans.

Second, we need to recommit to our belief in economic freedom. Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” may be on the discount rack this year, but the free market is still the most efficient means to allocate capital and human resources in an economy, and Americans know it. Now that we’ve inserted government deeply into the private sector by bailing out banks and businesses, the temptation will be for government to overstay its welcome and force the distribution of resources to serve political ends. Substituting political for economic incentives is not the recipe for economic recovery.

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The Out-of-Touch-O-Meter is Off the Charts

November 5, 2008

Let’s compare how I voted to how the rest of my Arizonans voted. Outside of my district and county, I pretty much am out of step. I’m glad they voted down the “homeowner’s bill of rights” and took a tax on home sales off the table permanently, but they also stopped same-sex marriage with a constitutional amendment, snuffed payday loans out of existence, and enabled a Masschusetts-style denial of private insurance.

My wife thinks that the proposition voting mirrored the spending trends on commercials. I cannot believe that, but it’s a compelling argument. Some of the proposition wording was very precise and commercials about those measures were very deceptive—did people not look into the matter further?

It’s done finally, so now’s the time to move on and start accepting the outcome. I have got a couple of months to lay low, relax, and study before I join the Kulturkampf. An Obama presidency is a grand opportunity to publicize Ayn Rand and Objectivism since he represents such a stark contrast to us.

Issue Me Them
President McCain McCain
U.S. Representative, District 3 Shadegg Shadegg
State Senator, District 6 Gorman Gorman
State Representative, District 6 Crump Crump, Seel
Corporation Commissioner Wong, McClure, Stump Kennedy, Newman, George
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, District 3 Kunasek Kunsaek
Maricopa County Assessor Russell Russell
Maricopa County Attorney Thomas Thomas
Maricopa County Recorder Purcell Purcell
Maricopa County School Superintendent Covey Covey
Maricopa County Sheriff Saban Arpaio
Maricopa County Treasurer Hoskins Hoskins
Justice of the Peace, Desert Ridge Henderson (write-in) Jayne
Constable, Desert Ridge Hazlett Hazlett
Maricopa County Special Health Care District, District 3 Gerard Gerard
Maricopa County Community College, District 3 Petty Pearson
PVUSD School Board Kenyon, Case, Greenberg Case, Greenberg, Skidmore
PVUSD Question 1 No No
PVUSD Question 2 No Yes
Proposition 100 Yes Yes
Proposition 101 Yes No
Proposition 102 No Yes
Proposition 105 Yes No
Proposition 200 Yes No
Proposition 201 No No
Proposition 202 Yes No
Proposition 300 No No

Loser Talk

November 5, 2008

Barack Obama is president.

I listened to John McCain’s concession speech with disgust. It succinctly summed up McCain: a pragmatist and compromiser to the end. A principled opponent would have conceded the battle but laid the groundwork for the larger war. He would have pledged to relight the flame of liberty during the dark times ahead.

In today’s climate, such a speech is unthinkable. Unity is the buzzword of the day. Like many times during his flawed, unprincipled run at the presidency, I sought comfort in the 1964 campaign. After listening to McCain’s terrible convention acceptance speech, Goldwater’s was a palliative. I figured that his concession in that same year might provide the inspiring call to action that McCain’s wasn’t. There’s some of that but I think there must be a pattern of graciousness in these matters that I was unaware of. Or maybe the losing candidates are just as sick of campaigning as we are.

I’ve waited ’til now to make any statement about this election because I wanted to find out more of the details of the vote—not just the total but the spread of it, what it might portend at this very early date.

I know many of you expected me to make some statement last night but I held that off. I sent the President the following wire, which I think will be available for you if you don’t have it now:

“To President Lyndon Johnson in Johnson City, Texas.

Congratulations on your victory. I will help you in any way that I can toward achieving a growing and better America and a secure and dignified peace. The role of the Republican party will remain in that temper but it also remains the party of opposition when opposition is called for. There is much to be done with Vietnam, Cuba, the problem of law and order in this country, and a productive economy. Communism remains our No. 1 obstacle to peace and I know that all Americans will join with you in honest solutions to these problems.”

I have no bitterness, no rancor at all. I say to the President as a fellow politician that he did a wonderful job. He put together a vote total that’s larger than has ever been gained in this country.

However, it’s interesting to me and very surprising to me that the latest figures that I can get do not reach the totals of the 1960 election. I am disappointed in this because I thought that the American people would have turned out in greater numbers than they seem to have done.

But he did a good job and I have to congratulate him on it.

Also I want to express my gratitude to the more than 25 million people in this country who not necessarily voted for me but they voted for a philosophy I represent, a Republican philosophy that I believe the Republican party must cling to and strengthen in the years ahead.

I want to thank all of you across this nation who turned out in those numbers to support my candidacy and that of Bill Miller and the Republican party.

I don’t think that I’ve ever seen more dedicated people in my life, people who worked as hard or who worked as long and produced the results that they did. These people are dedicated to, as I say, the Republican philosophy.

There is a two-party system in this country and we’re going to keep it. We’re going to devote our days and the years ahead to strengthening the Republican party, to getting more people into it and I feel that the young people coming along will provide the army that we need.

This effort that we engaged in last January 3 turns out to be a much longer effort than we thought. It’s not an effort that we can drop now nor do we have any intentions of dropping it now.

I will devote—being unemployed as of January 3 or thereabouts—I’ll have a lot of time to devote to this party, to its leadership and to the strengthening of the party, and that I have every intention of doing. I want to just ask the people in this country who worked so hard in this election not to be despondent, that we have a job to do and let’s get along with it, because there are many questions that have to be answered.

I’m very hopeful that the President will, now that the election is over, get along with the answers that we’ve sought during the campaign—the answers about Vietnam, about Cuba, about Communism—Communism’s continuing growth all around the world—about the growing tendency to the control of our economy and our daily lives in this country.

As I said in my wire, anything that I can do—and I’m sure that I speak for all Americans—anything that we can do to help the President get along with the solutions to these problems, we’re ready, willing and able to do.

Now with that I have nothing further to say. I will entertain a few questions—not any prolonged period at it. Mr. Wagner will recognize.

Link Dump: Week Before Election Edition

November 1, 2008

Election fatigue has really set in this last week. I have started several blog entries only to feel dispirited and end up canceling them. I have dutifully collected dozens of links for those entries, and I feel like I should share them in rapid-fire fashion just to get them out of my consciousness:

  • “How Capitalism Will Save Us”: Steve Forbes weighs in on the current financial crisis. This is a great explanation of how we came to be where we are along with a prescription for what we need to do once the crisis is resolved, which he predicts will be by next spring. Reading this essay, I lapsed into a daydream about what if he had been elected president back in 1996 or 2000. He makes every presidential candidate of either party seem like an intellectual lightweight (except for maybe Al Gore). I may disagree with him at times, but I know that his arguments are genuinely held, well informed, and thoughtful. I hope he runs again; if he did, I would volunteer much more hardily than I did in his previous presidential adventures.
  • “Checks on ‘Joe’ more extensive than first acknowledged”: this plus the legal intimidation (the entry’s a little hard to read, but the controversy seems to surround temporary Obama campaign workers registering and voting) and the media freeze plus spells out how dissenters might fare under an Obama administration. He does not handle opposition well.
  • “Obama’s Moving Tax Threshold”: when someone says that they want to close the gap between the rich and poor, there’s only two ways to do it: spread the rich’s wealth around to make the poor richer—the Robin Hood model—or redefine rich down so that the spread is nominally smaller. It’s a rare candidate indeed who does both.
  • Obama’s Constitution: it discusses Professor Cass Sunstein’s infatuation with FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, which is the clearest statement of economic collectivism that I’ve seen from an American politician. Sunstein was the Obama campaign’s go-to guy over Obama’s 2001 radio interview wherein The One implicitly confirmed what he meant by spreading the wealth.
  • Prepared Remarks of Senator John McCain in NH: it’s a decent speech complaining about Obama’s tax plan. It’s just too bad that he contradicts it all the time by wanting to tax “windfall” profits and denouncing corporate greed. That’s McCain in a nutshell: a contradictory, unprincipled demagogue.
  • “White People Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Vote”: this will be a common refrain should Obama somehow lose. The racist voters just weren’t up to the challenge of voting for a black man. It’s definitely not that he’s the most liberal candidate put up by either party in the last twenty years or that he associates with anti-American radicals, or that he’s a Chicago politician of the worst kind. Nope, we’re just as racist as ever.
  • “Obama’s Carbon Ultimatum”: and this is one of the biggest reasons I’m afraid of an Obama administration. He’s bad enough, but the people he’ll bring to Washington amplify and expand his reach. The Senate is already prepared to fast track any nominees he puts forth. That includes packing the courts.

That’s about half the links I’ve been collecting, sadly. So expect another link dump in a few days.

[UPDATE (11/1/2008): You mean the checks on Joe’s child support records were politically motivated? No way!]

Why I Voted for McCain

October 31, 2008

I voted for John McCain. I’d like to think it was a vote against Barack Obama, but that’s just kidding myself. I’ve heard many Objectivists, conservatives, and libertarians say that they were going to vote for Obama and I was sympathetic to a point.

The rationale for such a counterintuitive move takes one of the following forms:

  • Obama has never done anything in his life except fall into positions of power. He did nothing on the Harvard Law Review, he did barely anything while in the Illinois legislature, and he’s voted present more than yes or no while in the Senate. He talks a great game, but if elected he’d probably spend most of his time campaigning for re-election.
  • The Republicans in Congress would be forced into the role of the opposition party and would thus prevent his more egregious efforts towards socialism from bearing fruit.
  • When America’s economy is wrecked and our health care system is a-shambles, it’ll be a socialist at the helm. No one can blame capitalism for the situation. So it should be the end of the century-long love affair with socialism in much the same way that the fall of the Soviet Union marked the end of Communism as a legitimate political viewpoint.
  • Voting against McCain will send a message to the religious right that the party needs to return to its small government platform.
  • McCain is an enemy of free speech as witnessed by his sponsorship and promotion of McCain-Feingold, the primary vehicle of campaign finance regulation. He should not be put in a position of even greater power.

In a rationalistic sense, each of these seem like a sensible strategy. Divorced from political reality, they’re plausible. But in today’s environment, they are completely irrelevant and futile—if not terribly naïve. Each one neglects crucial facts that both undermine and undercut their viability.

Obama hasn’t accomplished much in his life, given the position he finds himself at today. To have risen so quickly, most people would have had a string of milestones or achievements that would inspire or earn respect. McCain’s been a senator for a very long time and all of the other candidates, both Democrat and Republican, had relatively lengthy resumés behind them. Obama has none of that. So it’s easy to underestimate his acumen or ambition. His “present” votes were politically shrewd and every step he’s taken has seemed to be with an eye towards the presidency. He’s made no move that would betray his carefully-crafted moderate politician persona—except maybe his ACORN litigation or his membership in the socialist New Party. If you read the story of ACORN’s “inside strategy,” you can easily recognize Obama’s “lay low and get power” path. Ignore that at your own peril.

Often, the same people that argue for the Republicans as better in opposition to a Democrat president than when they’re in power are the same ones who argue that the GOP has been co-opted by the religious right and have abandoned any limited government principles they may have once had. Expecting the Republicans in Congress to act as a bulwark against creeping (or galloping) socialism is investing in them an unwarranted hope. They have been ascendant in Congress for quite some time and they have brought the federal government to unprecedented spending and regulatory levels. To think that losing the presidency would make them do a double-take and wise up is ludicrous.

To be sure, Obama will wreck the economy and ruin the health care system. If he wins, his mandate as the first black president and a complicit Congress will insure that whatever he wants will sail through the legislature and into law. When his plans run into the inevitable obstacles (like crazies still expecting property rights to be upheld), he will have no trouble assigning blame to capitalism and those who want a free-for-all. He called the situation that led to the bailout plan the “final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed” even though it was demonstrably caused by government intervention. Others stepped up to agree with his assessment. There were voices raised at the absurdity of this, but they were few and far between. It certainly wasn’t from Republicans in Congress.

If Obama wins, I can’t see how the religious right will be cowed. McCain was not their darling—quite the opposite, in fact. I could easily see how they could declare that McCain lost precisely because he had alienated this supposedly all-important base of support. They won’t vote for Obama, but they may withhold their vote and that may be enough to throw the election. Given how close Romney and Huckabee got to passing the primary test, I find it hard to believe that an Obama election will do anything but embolden the religious right.

Finally, my fellow travelers object to McCain’s support of free-speech restrictions. I’m there: it is very disgusting to me that anyone could sponsor such ignoble legislation. The right of free speech is never so important as when it comes to the political sphere. But lets not give Barack Obama a pass on this one: he wants to bring criminal charges against an organization that produced an ad linking him to William Ayers, he’s used his campaign as a way to shout down those who oppose him, and his party is chomping at the bit to restore the Fairness Doctrine, which he ostensibly opposes. There is reason to expect that the intolerant political correctness will be coming to the greater body politic: there’s already some trial balloons floating about the “angry mob” that McCain-Palin is stirring and bringing out the H-word.

So that is why I couldn’t possibly vote for Obama. I think he has covered his socialist trail well enough that he stands an excellent chance of getting elected, especially given his admirers within the media. Once in power, I predict that his true intentions will be revealed: we will start down the path that Europe has blazed for the last 75 years and plenty of new programs will be enacted that will be difficult to rescind. He’s an avowed pragmatist whose political reality exists in the liberal atmosphere. (I won’t even get into the cult of personality that freaks me out.) I cannot in good conscience help that one along in his quest for power over me even though McCain is terrible and I am sad that it comes down to this choice.

[UPDATE: Here’s more about the Obama-ACORN link.]

[UPDATE (10/15/2008): More cult of personality creepiness.]

Power Hoarders

October 16, 2008

“It’s not the proper role of government to prop up stocks, housing or any other market. Yet like the vaudeville performer on the old Ed Sullivan show, politicians now see their duty as to keep the plates spinning just a few more months, maintaining constituents in their homes and jobs at least until after the elections, without any thought to the long-term cost being paid to do so.”

“What Americans don’t get, however, is that the goal of the bill isn’t to help Wall Street or Main Street, but to centralize power in Washington. Not surprisingly, that’s where its biggest proponents just happen to reside.” – Jonathan Hoenig “Politicians Use Bailout to Grab More Power”

Why I Voted for John Shadegg

October 14, 2008

I am a longtime fan of John Shadegg. I have voted for him in every election he’s been on my ballot. I was heartened to see his name in opposition to the bailout bill when it failed in the House of Representatives. And I was disgusted when I saw his name in support when it came back around, this time with pork.

My initial idea was to punish him by voting for Bob Lord, his Democratic opponent. But that was just the initial feeling of betrayal talking. If I let politicians stabbing me in the back determine who to vote for, my voting would be governed solely by revenge. In today’s political climate of unprincipled pragmatism, flipping politicians are in fashion.

After reading his reason for the reversal, I’m certain that he is definitely not his father. If Barack Obama gets elected, we’ll need all the Republicans we can get in Congress so I just couldn’t let my disappointment affect the long-range view. And he is more oriented towards small government than most of his GOP brethren.

How I Voted Today

October 7, 2008

Here’s how I voted, starting at the top of my ballot and working my way down:

  • President: John McCain
  • U.S. Representative, District 3: John Shadegg
  • State Senator, District 6: Pamela Gorman
  • State Representative, District 6:

    • Sam Crump
  • Corporation Commissioner:

    • Barry Wong
    • Marian McClure
    • Bob Stump
  • Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, District 3: Andy Kunasek
  • Maricopa County Assessor: Keith Russell
  • Maricopa County Attorney: Andrew Thomas
  • Maricopa County Recorder: Helen Purcell
  • Maricopa County School Superintendent: Don Covey
  • Maricopa County Sheriff: Dan Saban
  • Maricopa County Treasurer: Charles “Hos” Hoskins
  • Justice of the Peace, Desert Ridge: Paul Henderson (write-in)
  • Constable, Desert Ridge: Cory Hazlett
  • Maricopa County Special Health Care District, District 3: Susan Gerard
  • Maricopa County Community College, District 3: Pam Petty
  • PVUSD Board Member:

    • West Kenyon
    • Nancy Case
    • Anne Greenberg
  • Question 1: NO
  • Question 2: NO

Here’s how I voted on the propositions:

If you are interested in why I voted for a particular candidate or proposition, leave a comment.

Shadegg Explained

October 3, 2008

“Without a doubt, politicians and others continue to make principled noises on occasion—for the simple reason that the rhetoric of principle still sells. Sounding such themes is thought to be practical. Nine times out of ten, however, words of principle are hollow. These days, when you hear a principle articulated, it is advisable to stay tuned, for a contradiction is almost invariably in the neighborhood, whether explicitly or implicitly.” – Tara Smith, “The Menace of Pragmatism”

Galloping Socialism

October 2, 2008

Many have asked me who I’m voting for this November. My stock answer is “I’m voting against Obama.” We all laugh and then I get to disparage McCain while touching on my fear of the government expansion that Obama is seeking. Sometimes I get assent about that growth but many other times I get a puzzled look or even, puzzlingly to me, a disagreement that he’s going to expand the federal government in a big way.

This Investor’s Business Daily editorial does a decent job of covering the salient planks of Obama’s platform that should give pause to all freedom-loving Americans. Really though, a good reading of his campaign’s policy issues sections ought to make you an anti-Obama voter too.

I could go through his platform plank by plank, but I’m not sure anyone reading this would be interested. Leave a comment if you would be…