Monday, December 24, 2012

Should Republicans cave on the Fiscal Cliff deal?


The President seems unwilling to budge on Fiscal Cliff negotiations. He has said he will not sign a bill that doesn't include tax hikes on incomes over $250,000/year and has made no proposals for meaningful spending cuts. In fact, he wants to spend more, growing the Federal Budget to over $5.63 Trillion by 2022 (assuming estimates are accurate and everything goes swimmingly over the next 10 years). 

If there is no deal, all the Bush era tax cuts will expire and automatic spending cuts, including huge cuts to the military budget, go into effect. There are calls, even from some Republicans, to just go along with some tax increase for now, and deal with the rest later. But why?

If you believe our debt crisis is for real, why would you sign on to a plan that does nothing to address it, and in fact, perpetuates it? Raising taxes on the rich wont close the gap. I'm sure they'll be just fine in either case, but the tax hike will just be a political stunt. Serious spending cuts have to be made. Government has to get smaller and the Democrats have no interest in making that happen. A politically motivated deal might make it look as though reason prevailed, but it would be an illusion. 

True, Republicans will likely get a lot of bad press if no deal is reached. What are the consequences? You lose the next election? So what? You get to go home with your integrity intact. If America believes the right way to go is to give the left the power to spend at will, so be it. They're either right or they're wrong. If you believe they're wrong, let them be wrong without you. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Culture of Violence or Culture Sensing the Inevitable?


 Many people, pundits and politicians have blamed recent violent tragedies on the "culture of violence" in our country; movies, games, TV shows that glorify death, destruction and killing. But is it really about violence for violence's sake, or is their something deeper behind it?

Consider some of the biggest block buster movies, year after year. Although Hollywood is generally on the side of the touchy, feely, left, they continue to crank out shoot 'em ups and explosion ridden films. They have to because they produce the money that keeps them in the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed. Why do these movies do so well, even when the directing and acting is often sub-par, to put it nicely?

There is a common theme among these movies, when you look past the gratuitous violence. It's almost always an individual or small group of individuals against an all powerful, authoritarian government or global organization. It's essentially the same in the video game world. The individual is put in a situation where they must overcome a seemingly invincible force. On the conscious level, maybe people think they just get a kick out of the virtual violence and the adrenaline rush. On the subconscious level, maybe they recognize that inevitably, there will be a showdown between the individual and the collective.

It is the nature of human beings to be individuals first, connecting with various collectives when and if it suits them. We oscillate between the role of individual and member of our collectives (family, work, church, town, state, country) on a moment by moment basis. The key is that the default setting is individual and the individual controls the switch. The State, on the other hand, would like to make the default setting be member of the collective. They would like to see a world where one's interests as an individual are irrelevant; where all anyone thinks about is what they can do for society, the state, the collective; like ants or bees.

But we are not ants or bees. As we watch government grow ever larger in size and scope, we must see a day coming when our very individuality will be challenged and perhaps crushed. Maybe this generation, maybe generations from now, but it seems inevitable, as the State's appetite for more power and more resources shows no sign of being satisfied. At some point, our base instincts as human beings to protect ourselves will kick in. We'll pick an issue, like taxes on tea or something, to rally around and the push/pull cycle between collective and individual will have come full circle. Neither side is going to back down lightly, which is why, throughout history, periods of ever expanding government have always ended in violent conflict. Maybe that's why people are drawn to films and games with these underlying themes. It rings true.

Friday, December 14, 2012

God favors limited government

I know, you're not supposed to mix God and politics, but there is one thing that's undeniable. If you believe in God you must believe God could stop bad things from happening to good people. He could stop people from making bad decisions. He could eliminate pain and suffering. God has chosen not to do so. If you believe in God you must believe he has chosen individual human freedom over authoritarian control. With all the negative aspects of individual freedom, He, the all knowing, all wise, all good, has determined that the net benefits of freedom are preferrable to the predictability and security of central control. If you believe in God, do you believe your government knows better? Does God have it wrong? Did God forego interfering with your decisions and behavior only to leave them in the hands of an elite group of humans? Freedom is unpredictable. It can be frustrating, scary, uncertain, risky. Sometimes bad things happening to good people. So why would an all loving omnipotent God subject you to such a thing? Perhaps a better question, if you believe in God is - Why are so many people who claim to believe in God working so hard to negate His model?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bob Costas, the Second Amendment and the First Amendment

During an NFL broadcast Sunday, sportcaster Bob Costas opined about the tragic murder/suicide perpetrated by a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

While he didn't call for any specific legislation, the suggestion was that the American  "gun culture" was responsible for the tragedy. Since the perpetrator had no history of violence or criminal activity, the implication is that law abiding citizens should not have guns.

This upset second amendment proponents, some of whom called for Costas to be fired. While I personally believe that the unilateral disarmament of law abiding citizens is not a good solution for combating gun violence, I also believe that a sportcaster, working for a private company, can say whatever he or she wants to say and that his or her continued employment is entirely between them and their employer. Viewers are free to turn the sound off, switch the channel, send an angry letter to the network, even boycott advertisers.

The First Amendment is at least as important as the Second Amendment. I strongly disagree with the sentiments expressed by Costas, but the fact that he said it doesn't keep me up at night. If you want to advocate for a different point of view, do so. If you do it well enough, a few sentences from a sportscaster during a football game wont sway a majority of the country to change the Constituion. Combat bad ideas with good ideas, not with outrage or censorship.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The trouble with Hamas

On this day when optimism abounds, with Egypt hinting at a cease fire deal between Hamas and Israel, 150 rockets were fired by Hamas into Israel, including their closest shot yet to Tel Aviv.

Hamas continues its assault knowing two things: Israel must respond. Hamas can't win.

So what's the point? First you have to realize that Hamas is not really a governing body. They rule in the Gaza strip, but their actions display a total disregard for the welfare of the people who live there. They fire their rockets from civilian areas, even from within homes, schools and hospitals. They intentionally provoke return fire, knowing that civilian structures will be destroyed and civilians will be caught in the crossfire. They then display the carnage to a very receptive global media audience as evidence of the brutal cruelty of the Israeli's.

Hamas is a mercenary group working for Iran, not for the people of Gaza. Their aim, it seems clear to me, is to provoke Israel into a violent enough response to enrage potential allies against Israel, while causing potential allies for Israel to want to distance themselves. They are trying to clear the field for an all out regional war against Israel.

So far, they've met with limited success. They are, however, learning more about the capabilities and weaknesses of Israel's defenses and they've successfully taken Iran's nuclear program off the front pages.

There is only one real way to peace in the region. The people have to demand it. They have to insist on leaders that are more interested in improving the quality of life of their citizens than in wiping Israel off the map. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like things are trending that way at the moment.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The other Financial Cliff

As hurricane or tropical storm Sandy makes it's way up the east coast, I'm reminded of warnings I heard from scientists on TV years ago. They've actually been sounding the alarm for decades about a potential catastrophe in the financial district on the island of Manhattan. Those warnings have gone unheeded and no doubt, most "experts" will act like the event, should it happen, could not have been foreseen.

It seems there's a 65 year cycle involving the deep ocean  currents that results in hurricanes and major storms moving up the east coast and making landfall near NYC, rather than into the Gulf of Mexico. That cycle is due to begin...right about now. What scientists have been concerned about is the major build up of skyscrapers right in the potential target zone. Not only could we see billions of dollars in property damage to the financial district, but the buildings themselves may act like artificial canyons, directing flooding much farther inland and more violently than in the past.

So, for the record, if the Manhattan area gets walloped in the next decade or so, when you hear the predictable refrain of "climate change" or "nobody saw this coming", remember you heard it here, and I don't have a team of scientists. I just watch Discovery Channel from time to time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Election 2012: Social Issues vs Economic Issues

I saw one of those "on the street" interviews the other day, where a woman stated that she's on the fence as to whether to cast her vote based on economics or on social issues. Personally, I think in our current situation, that's a no-brainer for a number of reasons.

First of all, let's be clear about the terms. When people use the term social issues,, they're talking about abortion, gay marriage, religion and perhaps legalizing marijuana. When the discussion is about economics it's about jobs, unemployment, the debt and regulation. Which set of issues is top priority right now?

If you're not sure, ask yourself, would you move to North Korea if they legalized gay marriage? Would you buy a house in Cuba if you knew you could sit on the front porch and spark up a joint without fear of prosecution? I'm guessing probably not. Our economic situation is dire. If it's not addressed, the "social" issues will be trivial.

There's also the question of the proper role of government. Is it the job of our government to tell us what to believe and how to behave? Aren't these things that free individuals can work out among themselves? The truth is politicians don't set societal norms, they follow them and ride them. President Obama was against gay marriage until just recently, because it was politically unwise to be in favor or it. Public support is shifting however, and even former First Lady Laura Bush has said that she believes it is inevitable. We work these things out by consensus and opportunistic politicians follow the trend. They will not be worked out and definitively settled by legislation, at least not until the general population has already moved in one direction or another.

But back to today's reality. We are heading toward economic crisis. However much you may hate the rich, raising taxes in a down economy will not bring in more revenue and will likely cause a deeper recession. If the government's spending is not curtailed, the only way out will be massive printing of more money, with the intended result of massive inflation. This would fix the debt problem while devastating most Americans. It's the cowards way out. The other option is to cut the size and scope of government, make it easier to do business in America and grow our way back to a sane balance between government spending and private sector production.

Putting social issues before economic issues at this particular point in time is like getting caught in a burning building because you couldn't decide which shirt to wear while evacuating. Let's put the fire out first and give ourselves the luxury of having time to debate social issues.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why I'm voting Romney in 2012?

In most of my political posts, I promote ideas and principals rather than a candidate or party, but the fact is, I'll be voting for Mitt Romney in November and I want to explain why.

First of all, if you believe that the problem with America's economy is that government isn't big enough yet, or that a vibrant economy is not necessary for improved quality of life, vote for President Obama. If you believe a strong and growing economy and restraint on the growth of government are important, here are some things to consider.

When a company is launching a new product, agenda or program, they often appoint a "product champion". The product champion's role is to oversee the launch, keep everyone focused on the goal, overcome obstacles and ensure that the execution exceeds expectations. Is "Hey, things could be worse." a good rallying cry for a product champion? Is "What do you expect? It's harder than I thought." what you want to hear from a leader?

Mitt Romney has set a goal of 12 million new jobs in 4 years. Sounds lofty, but that's just over 300,000 new jobs per month. That used to be normal. President Obama is talking about 1 million new jobs in 4 years. I don't think any presidential candidate has ever set the bar so low. Is mediocrity the best we can hope for? Is 1.7 percent growth the best we can do? Is this as good as it gets?

The President likes to talk about the policies that "got us into this mess". First of all, that's an admission that after 3.5 years on the job, the economy can accurately be described as a mess. Secondly, we've had recessions and even depressions in our  236 year history as a nation. We did not throw out capitalism and free enterprise as a response. The financial sector collapse was brought about by the perhaps well intentioned, but misguided notion from both parties that everyone should own a house, regardless of their cash flow situation. Bailing out industries to remove the consequences of bad decisions did not help the situation in the long term. Mistakes were made, but capitalism and free markets were not the mistakes.

When you look at countries who have gone the farthest to take the risk out of the lives of their citizens, to take the pain out of failure, you're looking at Venezuela, Cuba, Greece. Is that where we want to go? Is the excitement of the discoveries, innovations and growth of the 80/s and 90's something our children and grandchildren will only experience through books and movies about the past? Are you ready to throw in the towel and live to just survive rather than thrive?

Economic freedom is risky business. Along with amazing discoveries, inventions, elation, wealth creation and jobs you get failures, disappointment and despair.  That's what the President and the Progressives play on. They hope you are so afraid of all the bad things that might happen as a consequence of individual freedom, that you'll forgo the good to avoid the bad.  As other countries around the world have demonstrated, it's certainly possible to flatten out the ups and downs, but personally, I'd rather risk utter failure than not be able to take my shot.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Give Reason a Chance

You've probably heard it said that the American electorate is "polarized"; that the environment is extremely "partisan". That's true, but what does it mean, why is it the case and how do we fix it? What it means is that a significant portion of the country has bought into a package of ideas presented by one party or another. It's as if one party is totally right about everything and the other is totally wrong, and you should pick one and defend it to the end. The problem is that political parties are really just infrastructures designed and built for the purpose of getting their candidates elected. That's all. They are not all wise super-entities with the correct answers for everything. Accepting all of the ideas or policies of a political party without question stifles real debate and the search for truth. Partisanship and polarization come about through the use of a technique, often employed by politicians but also by individuals on a day by day basis. It equates being wrong with being bad, or even evil. It's also connected to relationships. People sometimes adopt the ideas or behavior of those they admire, for whatever reason, as a kind of shortcut to working things out for themselves. For example, if you have to cross a raging river, but you don't know how to do it safely. You watch someone else traverse the river successfully and rather than do a lot of pondering and guesswork on your own, you do what they did. Later you come to a cliff you must scale. They person who successfully crossed the river has an idea on how to scale the cliff. You defer to their judgment on the cliff because you observed them successfully traverse the river. In the political world, it might translate as follows; your parents were good people. Your parents belonged to political party A. Therefore political party A is the good party, so you should be loyal to political party A and promote and defend them as well. Of course, political parties change, as do the people that belong to them. Political parties promote some good ideas and some bad ideas. It's advantageous for the parties themselves to convince people to accept the whole package, rather than consider each idea or proposal separately, on its own merit, so they promote that approach. Laying out the logical case and going through the reasoning process for each idea or proposal can be hard work, and time consuming. It's simply easier to convince people that those who disagree do so because they are bad people. You don't want to be a bad person do you? Ironically, this approach only works because most people are, and want to continue to be good people. They just don't always take the time to reason through ideas and proposals on their own. I believe that the vast majority of adherents to all political parties want to see the quality of life of the population in general improve over time. There is, of course, widespread disagreement about how best to bring that about. If we want to truly enable good ideas to come to the surface and be implemented, we must engage in productive debate and discussion. that means we have to dispense with the idea that being wrong means being bad. We must present, discuss and promote ideas, not personalities. We must evaluate performance and results objectively, not emotionally. We must choose elected officials based on competency to carry out the task assigned to them, not based on how much we'd like to hang out with them. Emotions can be useful tools. They serve as both red flags and default settings when your intellect doesn't have enough information to make a reasoned judgment. However, this situation is usually very temporary. In the case of politics, there is certainly plenty of time to put the emotional response aside, gather information and input and employ reason to come to a logical conclusion. A good practice to get into when debating matters of government policy is to refrain from mentioning any politician or party by name. This will help you to focus on the underlying ideas. If your counterpart is unwilling to do so, you're not engaged in a productive conversation anyway and might do better to switch the conversation to the something more benign, like the weather. Do not counter irrationality with irrationality. It's tempting to do so, but it only promotes irrationality. You can't force feed the truth. People have to be ready, willing and able to go their of their own free will. If it's not happening today, save it for another time. There's no deadline on the quest for truth. The world will not collapse if you allow your friend, your family member, your co-worker, even yourself, the space to be wrong for another day.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

TeaVangelicals - Not a good idea

About 3.5 years ago I wrote a post advising members of the Tea Party movement not to let the movement get hijacked by a political party or other interest groups. It was good advice then and it's good advice now.

I have no problem with a diverse group of people supporting the Tea Party idea. It works because the Tea Party movement is essentially about limited government on a sane and set budget. It's about the immorality of leaving future generations with overbearing debt and an overbearing government. But, that's it. These are ideas that people of all faiths, ethnic groups, genders, sexual orientation, shoe size and eye color can get behind. That doesn't mean they agree on everything, or anything else, but that's what the Tea Party is about.

I think it is important that it stay that way. The big advantage of limited government accountable to the people is that, while it may from time to time impose and execute bad ideas, the damage is limited and temporary. It's a system that allows for mistakes because it mitigates their consequences. It enables the field testing of ideas and agendas without having to bet the farm on them.

Narrowing the scope of people who can get on board a movement to limit the power and cost of government by attaching more agenda items, or entire religions to it would be counter-productive and could lead to the end of the Tea Party as a powerful lobbying force.

I'm glad that evangelicals support limited government and fiscal sanity, but we're not going to get there by expecting all others who believe in limited government and fiscal sanity to also embrace the same religious convictions.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If Republicans want more of the black vote, they've go to go and get it.

Mitt Romney spoke in front of the NAACP today. Not surprisingly, he wasn't exactly received with great enthusiasm and was even booed a few times. However, he was received and he also drew some applause at points. Some may think it was a wasted effort. After all, President Obama received 96% of the black vote last time around. But, Mr. Romney was right on. The reason the Democrat party enjoys loyalty among black Americans more than any other voting block by far is not ideological, but the result of a long running marketing campaign that Republicans have for too long, ignored.

It is not true that 96% of African Americans are liberal Progressives at heart. Voting Democrat is not a genetic trait. But decades ago, the Democrat party allied with various black leaders and organizations to form a powerful voting block. This fit fairly well with the general liberal game plan of developing policies and programs aimed at specific groups to garner their favor. Republicans, on the other hand, are supposed to be about the individual, so group centered policies and programs don't really fit their operating model. The block was further solidified by the fact that Republicans seem to have decided that ceding the black vote to Democrats was okay. They could win elections without the black vote. Democrats aggressively recruited black candidates while Republicans did not, until recent years.

The perception that Republicans didn't care about black Americans didn't come about because Republicans didn't offer black Americans enough give-aways. It came about because Republicans largely ignored the black vote altogether. Even free-market capitalist black Americans have been left on their own. This is not an environment that inspires risk taking, vocal support or votes.

I'm not suggesting that Republicans should change their message or come up with their own set of ethnically targeted programs or policies. I mean they need to physically go to black communities and make their pitch. So what if you get some boo's. Mr. Romney did the right thing. He endured them, and stayed on message. ls he going to get the majority of the black vote in November? No, but if he gets 6 or 7% as opposed to 5, that's progress. Even if it were true that only 5% of black voters support limited government and free market economics, that 5% deserves the support of their like-minded brethren, on the local, state and federal level. Carve an hour out of your schedule and give it to them.

America became the most successful country on the face of the Earth because of it's explicit statement that the individual is the center around which everything else revolves. At our best, we are not a country of a bunch of competing ethnic groups, social classes or religions. We are 360+ million individuals, equal in the eyes of the law. That's a message that deserves to be delivered to every corner of the country, and in person. You're not going to win hearts and minds with a slick TV ad or a well placed poster. If you want the votes, you have to show up and ask for them.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Preparing for Doomsday

While watching NatGeo's show "Doomsday Preppers", which features Americans who are preparing for various disaster scenarios, I got to thinking of what might be practical or prudent and what seems like a waste of time in prepping for such possibilities.

Most of the people featured on the show are preparing for a specific type of calamity such as martial law, overpopulation, financial system collapse, earthquakes, disease, even solar flares. Most of their strategies rely on hunkering down or finding a place to hide out for months or years. This strategy in general doesn't make a lot of practical sense to me for several reasons.

First of all, if chaos were to come to pass, you'd have to be able to protect your little fortress against mobs, individual insurgents and even government forces; not very likely. Also, if your prep involves some sort of hidden bunker, you'd have to be able to get to said bunker. Even if you do, and you successfully hide away for a few months, what then?

I think a more prudent approach to preparing for the downfall of civilization as we know it would be to quickly put together a new form of civilization or cooperative. The preparation for this is much less time consuming, less expensive and more utilitarian than guessing what calamity might befall mankind and creating an appropriate hole to crawl into.

In the event of chaos, the first order of business would be to get in touch with people you trust, who can help you protect what you have and acquire what you need. You'd have to form some sort of mutual defense pact. But before you can even do that, you'll need a set of terms and conditions; a sort of constitution that you all agree to abide by in exchange for mutual cooperation. They should be short, sweet and to the point. This would not be some 2,000 page document filled with legal jargon, but a list of basic principals upon which everyone could agree; something akin to the Bill of Rights, written in language that everyone can easily understand and that can be applied just as easily to a neighborhood as to a city or an entire nation.

We have a good example of what happens when forethought is not put into a basic set of guiding principals in the "Arab Spring". Egyptians overthrew a dictatorship, but had not reached any consensus on what should follow. They scheduled elections to form a new government without knowing what the new government would look like, what it's powers and limitations would be, what the rights of individual citizens would be. Now they've had their first election and it's down to a choice between a member of the old guard and an  Islamic fundamentalist. This is probably not what the "freedom fighters" had in mind.

If you're truly worried about the collapse of society, try imagining waking up one day without a functioning government. You and some neighbors get together to try to figure out what to do from here. Would it not be helpful if one, two or more of you had already composed a draft of an emergency mutual cooperation agreement? Even if there were significant differences, you'd have a starting point for discussion. Maybe you find common ground. Maybe you agree to form two or more different groups based on different sets of guidelines. Either way, you'd have a leg up on randomly forming mobs or people just wandering around clueless or even folks hiding in an underground bunker somewhere in the middle of Kansas whose only common bond is that they all coughed up the $1 million fee.

So, if you're worried about the possibility of apocalypse in your lifetime and don't know what to do to prepare, perhaps you can gain some peace of mind by composing your own constitution. If you were going to put together a group of a few dozen individuals or families, what would the ground rules be? What would be the purpose of a governing body? What would be its limits? Would you favor private property and free enterprise or a more communal arrangement? These are things you should have straight in your own mind before you agree to be part of a group. What type of group would you want to join? If you were forming a group, what type of folks would you like to join you? You can't put together a group of like-minded individuals if you haven't defined what "like-minded" means.

With a little forethought you can arm yourself with the most powerful tool/weapon ever devised by mankind. The power/ability to freely associate and voluntarily cooperate for mutual benefit.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The tragic quagmire of Zimmerman/Martin

One bad night in February, George Zimmerman made a series of bad decisions that ended tragically for Travon Martin, his family and for Mr. Zimmerman and his family.

Since then many prominent Democrats, who are also regarded as leaders in the black community, have taken the opportunity to make outrageous comments and tweet outlandish things before a national audience. That's par for the course.

What I find bizarre is that because Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Spike Lee are Democrats, Republicans somehow decided they needed to hitch their wagons to the fate of George Zimmerman.

It's completely legitimate to point out that Sharpton, Jackson, and others are on the verge of inciting riots while an investigation is ongoing. It's equally legitimate to point out that NBC News intentionally edited the 911 call to make Zimmerman sound more racist (better story). But none of those things contribute to the actual guilt or innocence of Mr. Zimmerman. It either went down the way he said it did or it didn't. Even if it did, it's a tragedy created by his poor judgment. He's not a hero, or a poster boy for the second amendment.

Several points are not in dispute: Travon Martin was not engaged in any illegal activity. George Zimmerman decided he needed to follow him because he might be "up to no good". The 911 dispatcher told Mr. Zimmerman not to continue following him. George Zimmerman shot and killed Travon Martin. There are blanks that need to be filled in, but again, I think it's safe to say there were a series of tragically bad decisions made by Mr. Zimmerman that night.

This is not a Republican/Democrat case. It's not a black/white case. It's a story of one man's decision making process and the consequences thereof. There's only one legitimate side: the truth. Let's find out what it is and let the chips fall where they may.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Santorum Campaign: Scorched Earth and pragmatism

I watched Chris Wallace's interview with Rick Santorum this morning and came to the conclusion that Mr. Santorum, at this point, is happy to see this election either go to himself or to Barak Obama, and if that's settled in the primaries, he's okay with that. I also noted some stark contradictions in his explanation of his voting record that Mr. Wallace did not pick up on.

Of course, when asked, he always says he'll support the Republican nominee whoever it is, but then immediately launches in to a list of reasons why he believes Romney would be a disaster as a nominee. He points out that Romney has run negative ads against him as well. That's true. The difference is, Santorum's not going to be the nominee. Hence any negative ads that have been run against him really don't help President Obama. He can make an emotional case for continuing the tirade, but not a strategic one.

His compadres, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, have taken a different tack. Ron Paul never really expected to get the nomination, although I'm sure he'd have accepted it. He has really been campaigning for issues that he feels need a lot more attention. He's succeeded in that regard. Most Republican leaders now favor an audit and closer inspection overall of the operations of the Federal Reserve, and while most don't agree with his isolationist foreign policies, they do agree that our foreign troop deployments around the world could stand a lot more scrutiny. He will certainly not be ignored or brushed aside at the convention.

Newt Gingrich seems to have come to terms with the notion that Romney will be the nominee. He's essentially tabled a negative campaign against Romney in favor of a positive campaign for his own ideas and agenda. While he probably wont be selected for VP or anything, he will have some input as to policy, and come August, will be welcomed into the Romney camp, even if as a minor player.

I don't see how Santorum puts himself in anything other than a Pat Buchanan type of position. He comes across as bitter and angry and may well decide to take his supporters and go elsewhere. Ask Pat how that worked out.

As for his own "true conservative" record, he responded to Wallace's question about his no vote on Federal right to work, by saying he felt it was a state's right issue. Since he was a Senator in a pro-union state, he felt he had a duty to vote on behalf of the majority of his constituents. Okay, but then he said he would sign a right to work law if it came across his desk as President. How can it be a state's rights issue when you're a Senator, but not a state's rights issue when you're President? At least Romney's defense of Romneycare is consistent, whether you think it's sincere or not. He said it was a state's rights issue then, and that he opposes a national health care mandate because it will still be a state's rights issue when he's President.

Rick Santorum has admitted that he made votes as a Senator in favor of some things that he disagrees with because "sometimes you have to take one for the team". He seems unwilling to take on that attitude as a Presidential candidate.

On a personal note, I don't think Romney would go down in history as a leading champion of free market capitalism, but with guys like Ryan and Rubio on his advisory team, he should do fine. And as Rummy put it, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you wish you had." This is a war of ideas: Bigger government vs Smaller government. If Mr. Santorum is truly interested in bringing the growth of government to a halt, he would be well advised to cease the personal vendetta and actually work toward that goal.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Innocent until proven guilty goes on trial

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obomacare, goes before the Supreme Court Monday. The meat of the issue is the individual mandate. That is, does the government, under the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution, have the authority to require all citizens to purchase health insurance?

The essence of the government's argument is that people who don't buy insurance will, at some point, avail themselves of medical care and not pay for it. It dismisses the notion that such a person would actually pay through their own assets, borrowing or a health savings account. In other words, it assumes you'll be guilty and assesses a pre-emptive penalty.

This could set dangerous precedents on many fronts. If the government can force you to buy health insurance for the greater good, what else can they force you to buy or not buy? If they can assume your guilt in this case, where else can this line of reasoning be applied? Maybe if doughnuts are not sufficiently high priced, you'll eat too many, get sick and effect my health insurance premium. Best set a minimum price, just to be safe.

The real problem with health care is cost. Mandatory purchase wont bring cost down. Mandating provisions, ie a 60 year old woman's plan must include birth control, doesn't help either. There are market based reforms that can help, and they don't cost anything. Insurance companies could be allowed to compete nationally. Buyers could be allowed to choose what coverage they want included. Out of pocket expenses could be tax deductible, just to name a few.

Of course these measures require less government control of the industry, so are not favored by the current powers that be. I know many proponents of nationalized health care have good intentions. But relinquishing our individual rights and freedoms and undermining the very basis of our legal system will not make us a healthier country.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Is it okay to "dis" the President? The Congressman and the Hockey Player

Congressman Doug Lamborn has announced that he will not attend the President's State of the Union Address tonight in protest. He says it will be little more than a campaign speech, so he will instead watch on television.

Tim Thomas, 2011 Stanley Cup MVP, skipped out on his invitation to the White House with the rest of his team. He was protesting what he believes is the erosion of freedom and constitutional government by the administration.

Are these men wrong to pass on invitations from our Commander in Chief to spotlight their political beliefs? Yes and no, in that order.

Doug Lamborn is a Congressman. The State of the Union is an annual address from one branch of government to the other two, as well as to the people. Yes, it has evolved into a mostly ceremonial presentation of what a great job the current administration thinks it's doing, but it is a government ritual and one that the Congressman should bite his lip and attend. If others were to follow his lead, future addresses by Presidents might only be attended by members of their own party. This does nothing to further productive debate and discourse.

Mr. Thomas, on the other hand, is a hockey player. As a private citizen he is under no obligation to attend a White House photo op, just because he was asked to. If you are genuinely disturbed by the direction the President is taking the country in, why would you show up to exchange pleasantries on camera for any reason? This is not North Korea. Individuals cannot be compelled to bow or even shake hands with a politician they'd rather not be associated with.

If you enter the field of politics, you put yourself in a position where you must deal with people with whom you disagree. You have to keep the lines of communication open to be effective for the people you represent. You don't have to be submissive, but you have to be present. If you're in most any other profession in America, you don't. Citizens don't worship elected officials here. We just agree not to throw eggs at them...mostly.