You are currently viewing archive for December 2007
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few weeks ago I described Ron Paul as "haunting."

Why? In your heart you know he is right. I observed that "if it were not for Iraq, we would love him."

An aside: it is also true that, “if it were not for Iraq, the media would hammer him, and we would have never heard of him." Case in point: today NBC's Meet the Press led off with an exclusive interview with Ron Paul. With the Iowa Caucuses less than a fortnight away, Tim Russert chose to feature a candidate with no chance whatsoever of winning that race or any race. This is remarkable.

This week respected conservative columnist John Derbyshire penned an essay entitled, "Liberty! Liberty! Why I’m for Ron Paul."

In brief, here is why I cannot support Ron Paul:

From Paul's website:

"Brief Overview of Congressman Paul’s Record:

* He has never voted to raise taxes.
* He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
* He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
* He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
* He has never taken a government paid junket.
* He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
* He voted against the Patriot Act.
* He votes against regulating the Internet.
* He voted against the Iraq war.
* He voted against NAFTA and CAFTA.
* He votes against the United Nations.
* He votes against the welfare state.
* He votes against reinstating a military draft.
* He votes for conservative principles.
* He votes to cut government spending.
* He votes to lower healthcare costs.
* He votes to end the war on drugs.
* He votes to preserve civil liberties.
* He votes to secure our borders with real immigration reform.
* He votes to eliminate tax funded abortions & to overturn Roe v Wade.
* He votes to protect religious freedom."

What's not to like?

Paul is a man of simple solutions. For example, see his statement on foreign policy (again from his website):

War and Foreign Policy

"The war in Iraq was sold to us with false information. The area is more dangerous now than when we entered it. We destroyed a regime hated by our direct enemies, the jihadists, and created thousands of new recruits for them. This war has cost more than 3,000 American lives, thousands of seriously wounded, and hundreds of billions of dollars. We must have new leadership in the White House to ensure this never happens again.

"Both Jefferson and Washington warned us about entangling ourselves in the affairs of other nations. Today, we have troops in 130 countries. We are spread so thin that we have too few troops defending America. And now, there are new calls for a draft of our young men and women.

"We can continue to fund and fight no-win police actions around the globe, or we can refocus on securing America and bring the troops home. No war should ever be fought without a declaration of war voted upon by the Congress, as required by the Constitution.

"Under no circumstances should the U.S. again go to war as the result of a resolution that comes from an unelected, foreign body, such as the United Nations.

"Too often we give foreign aid and intervene on behalf of governments that are despised. Then, we become despised. Too often we have supported those who turn on us, like the Kosovars who aid Islamic terrorists, or the Afghan jihads themselves, and their friend Osama bin Laden. We armed and trained them, and now we’re paying the price.

"At the same time, we must not isolate ourselves. The generosity of the American people has been felt around the globe. Many have thanked God for it, in many languages. Let us have a strong America, conducting open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations."

Again, what's not to like?

Every word of the above statement is true on its face. But Congressman Paul's truth is simplistic and impractical.

How can we expect "open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations," if we, as Dr. Paul suggests, bring all our troops home? The American military presence all over the world for the last century has been necessary to protect American business interests. Spouting libertarian rhetoric concerning free trade and travel--but not acknowledging the reality of power politics--is ill-considered at best.

While Congressman Paul advocates trimming the government back to constitutional proportions, in truth, we cannot turn the clock back to 1787, for we are unwilling to forego the luxuries of the modern world.

There is beauty in the ideal--but oftentimes the perfect ignores reality.

I would be healthier if I ate brown rice and pinto beans exclusively for the rest of my life.

As automobiles are merely depreciating hunks of metal, I would be better off opting for a minimalist vehicle that reliably gets me from place to place with the least fanfare and cost.

But I continue to eat sumptuous foods and drive more car than I need. As a people, we continue to want to live in the most powerful nation in the history of the world. As a national community, we are unwilling to give up our comfortable lifestyles and our security--even if for most of us, in our hearts, we know Paul is right (at least in the long term)--and our "empire of liberty" must fall someday.

But not today.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From the AP today (compressed):

Consumer Spending Surges in November by Largest Amount in 3 1/2 Years

"The Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer spending...nearly triple[d] the October gain...the biggest one-month jump since a 1.2 percent rise in May 2004 and was significantly above the 0.7 percent analysts had expected. Incomes were also up last month, rising by 0.4 percent, double the October increase but slightly below the advance that had been expected."

"Many economists believe that overall economic growth will be at a barely discernible rate of 1 percent in the current quarter, as the country struggles with the fallout from the housing downturn and a spreading credit crisis that has made bank loans harder to get for individuals and businesses."

"After-tax incomes were up 0.3 percent in November, but after adjusting for inflation, incomes actually fell by 0.3 percent after a 0.2 percent drop in October. Democratic presidential candidates, hoping to make the economy an issue in next year's contest, have been stressing the weak gains in incomes as an example of failed Republican policies."

"With spending rising at a faster rate than savings, the nation's savings rate dipped into negative territory in November at 0.5 percent. That meant that households spent all of their incomes and either dipped into savings or borrowed to finance the higher level of spending last month."

This report is fairly typical of approximately one million similar stories filed in major newspapers across America since January 21, 2001.

They often follow the same formula:

1. Good news (in this case wildly incredibly positive news).

2. Deeper analysis of why the news, on second thought, is not really that good.

3. Prediction of Impending Doom.

GDP up 4 percent. Larry Summers pens a powerful essay explaining the coming crisis.

Employment is nearly full and steady--but these are all bad jobs. Recession looms...

Wall Street up--but...

Growth is high; personal income is high--but only for rich Republicans...

The long slow upward-sloping decline began with the presidency of George Bush, and it accelerated during the election year of 2004. The long slow upward-sloping decline seems ready to explode once again.

Granted there is an oppressive sense of dread palpable in the nation today. We are all expecting something bad to happen. In part, this is merely the human condition exacerbated by modernity--we have been waiting for the world to come apart at the seems for several generations now. But I too sense something wicked coming our way.

No matter, for all those experts who prophesy that we are approaching a significant downturn to this economy, undoubtedly, they are absolutely correct. Rather, like Chance Gardener (from Being There) who predicted "growth in the spring," they will be correct eventually. What goes up (and we are riding high) must come down. Economics 101. But am I paranoid to believe that this constant drumbeat in the mainstream media might be different during a more favored administration?
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Frequent commentator and occasional poster Tocq sends this link to an article from The American Thinker on Hillary and Truth-Telling.

This article points to my fear/anxiety regarding a Hillary presidency, she has become Ambition, a drive to power supported by Hate and Pride: a woman with a badly shriveled soul.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Six more Democratic County chairs have endorsed Barack Obama for president. The list includes Sioux County Democratic chair Carl Vander Meulen. In all, 20 county chairs in Iowa have endorsed Obama. Story here.

Iowa has 99 counties.

I see this as a serious setback for Hillary, who has spent years insinuating herself into the Democratic Party organization.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Barak Obama is now under pressure from LGBT groups because he is reaching out to traditional evangelicals and other conservative Christians. We'll see if Obama will be able to withstand the pressure and include Christians of different views within his campaign. If he can win the Democratic primary, he certainly will need to have broad support to win the general election. LGBT "leaders" seem not to realize that.

Obama's own faith journey certainly resonates with evangelical experience, even if some of his views differ from their own.

. . . And this restlessness – this search for meaning – is familiar to me. I was not raised in a particularly religious household. My father, who I didn't know, returned to Kenya when I was just two. He was nominally a Muslim since there were a number of Muslims in the village where he was born. But by the time he was a young adult, he was an atheist. My mother, whose parents were non-practicing Baptists and Methodists, was one of the most spiritual souls I ever knew. She had this enormous capacity for wonder, and lived by the Golden Rule. But she had a healthy skepticism of religion as an institution. And as a consequence, so did I.
. . .
And it's around this time that some pastors I was working with came up to me and asked if I was a member of a church. "If you're organizing churches," they said, "it might be helpful if you went to church once in a while." And I thought, "Well, I guess that makes sense."

So one Sunday, I put on one of the few clean jackets I had, and went over to Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street on the South Side of Chicago. And I heard Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright deliver a sermon called "The Audacity of Hope." And during the course of that sermon, he introduced me to someone named Jesus Christ. I learned that my sins could be redeemed. I learned that those things I was too weak to accomplish myself, He would accomplish with me if I placed my trust in Him. And in time, I came to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world and in my own life.

It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany.

Story from the Biblical Witness website, a group within the United Church of Christ pushing for traditional Christian belief. Obama is a member of a United Church of Christ congregation in Chicago. The UCC officially supports marriage and ordination of those who practice same-sex sex. Earlier post on Obama's religion and the UCC.

Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Mitt Romney is to give a speech addressing his Morminism tomorrow. We'll see how it is received. I have been warning him that such a speech is not a good idea. For Republican candidates support from the evangelical base is crucial; or, at a minimum a lack of hostility from evangelicals. But, according to Pew research white evangelical Protestants who attend church weekly are 45% less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate. Conservative and evangelical churches view Mormonism as a non-Christian religion, even terming it a "cult." Voting for a non-Christian is not an option if a person holds a "Christian America" view, common among white evangelicals. Romney is not going to get much support from this group whatever he does. But, by avoiding direct mention of his Mormonism, Romney has escaped actual antagonism.

And, I am not sure that the general voting population will be impressed by a direct address of Mormonism by Romney. According to the same Pew research cited above, only 53% of the voting population has a favorable view of Mormons.

So why is Romney making the speech, against the advice of some of his advisors? He is not a sure bet in Iowa anymore, and he needs that early victory to build momentum. We'll see if this speech helps or hurts him. My money is on hurting him.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
"And the irony is, Rudy Guiliani, probably the most under-qualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency here talking about any of the people here...Rudy Guiliani...I mean, think about it...Rudy Guiliani, there's only three things he mentions in a sentence, a noun, a verb, and 9-11..I mean, there's nothing else, there's nothing else...and I mean this sincerely, he is genuinely not qualified to be president."
Joe Biden (on YouTube here)

Is Rudy qualified to be president? This has become a recurring theme (you might even say "talking point") for Democrats and pundits on the Campaign 2008 trail. In truth, this is a misleading and irrelevant conversation.

Qualifications are not paramount to the making of a president. Traditionally, the question of qualifications has always presented a fairly low threshold to overcome for presidential aspirants. Biden's incessant raving about qualifications is mostly wishful thinking and strategy in an attempt to frame the debate in a way he fancies better disposed to his candidacy. And, for the record, by "qualified," Senator Biden simply means which candidate has served the longest in the United States Senate.

Of course, even operating under a more reasonable definition, we have had plenty of "under-qualified" presidents--some of whom have done just fine. More importantly, the public doesn't care much who is the most qualified. No one voted for JFK in 1960 because they thought he was more qualified to be president than Richard Nixon. Or Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush in 1992. Or George Bush over Al Gore in 2000. This is not the element upon which most elections pivot.

True, without 9-11, it would be impossible to imagine Rudy running for president in 2008. But so what? Ike was viable in 1952 as a result of WWII—but, as in the case of Rudy, his heroic role was merely a starting point. Douglas MacArthur was a non-starter as a presidential candidate in the post-war climate—as was George Pataki in the post 9-11 world.

Ironically, Barack Obama has questioned Mrs. Clinton's credentials: Hillary is only viable because she is the wife of a former president. Is he right? Yes and No.

First No: If it were that easy, why didn't the GOP run Barbara Bush in 1996? Nancy Reagan in 2000? Laura Bush for 2012? Obviously, Mrs. Clinton is uniquely gifted and experienced among first ladies--and her uniqueness is the reason she is where she is today (forgive the circular reasoning--but, hopefully, you take my point). Having said that, is she there as a result of her connection to her former-president husband? Obviously, yes. But, again, so what? That is only a starting point.

Every presidential candidate needs a “hook.” If aspirants don't have a hook, they end up Duncan Hunter or Dennis Kucinich.

Hillary is a restoration candidate. Barack Obama's viability, at its heart, is the product of a well-timed speech. Rudy is Rudy because of 9-11. Mitt Romney is viable because he wanted to be president, and he had enough money, guts, and brains to get him this close (very much like John F. Kennedy). Fred Thompson is viable because of a TV show. Mike Huckabee did it the "old-fashioned way"—but he is the exception that proves the rule.

Bottom Line: Creating an atmosphere of viability is qualification in itself. The public requires no more than that. Of course, qualifications, viability, and positioning do not speak to the much more important element, at least in the long term, of capacity and aptitude.

Who will actually be a good president? On that score, your guess is as good as mine. God save the President!
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Pay no attention to the pollsters on the Iowa Caucuses. What counts is who shows up on a January night in a northern state to caucus. What counts is good organization that gets out the caucus goers (favoring Romney and Clinton) and passion (?perhaps Huckabee, Obama, and Edwards?), but, the passionate must be motivated enough to brave ice, snow, and below-zero weather if that is the situation.

I lived in Iowa 8 years, 1986-94.