Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Draft Mitch Daniels

If, as appears to be the case, Ron Paul is not going to be able to overcome the neo-con aversion to military interventionism, we are looking at three weak and flawed candidates to face President Obama in the fall. Perhaps one of them can beat Obama. Perhaps not. All three of them, in one way or another, will allow Obama to change the focus of the election from his own failures to the personal quirks and foibles of Gingruch/Santorum/Romney and that is a recipe for danger. President Obama promised to double down on every failed government initiative last night and intrude even further into the lives of American citizens. Four more years of enormous deficits, politically motivated assassinations of private sector job creation and more crony capitalism favoring his political allies and punishing his enemies will push America over the precipice.

It doesn't have to be this way. Watch my governor Mitch Daniels give a measured, sober, serious and strong response to President Obama's big government love fest masquerading as a "state of the union" (he should have called it the "state of the government")

Compare Governor Daniels to the three "conservatives" still in the race and ask yourself who would better represent our party.

Mona Charen wrote a searing statement last night in her note What Might Have Been
That our best leaders, such as Mitch Daniels, who tonight delivered the finest response to a State of the Union ever, have chosen not to serve, leaves the country to the second-raters. And if we are led by second rate people, we will become a second rate country.
We are looking at an election between a second rate Republican candidate facing a failed sitting President. We need a better choice. It is not too late, not by a long shot. Governor Daniels it is time to get in the race and save us from ourselves.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Neo-Con Quandary

I read something today that captures brilliantly the quandary that neo-cons are in. The National Review features a piece about the dangers of nominating Newt Gingrich, Hour Of Newt. This paragraph is the key  from this article (emphasis added):
Among the present candidates, we continue to prefer Romney and Rick Santorum over Gingrich and Ron Paul. Our opposition to Paul is based on our disagreement with a foreign policy based on what we consider a dangerously naïve and narrow conception of U.S. interests. Our opposition to Gingrich, by contrast, is not based on any philosophical disagreement. Among Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum, we find only minor ideological differences. None has been a consistent small-government conservative in office; all are running on conservative, and similar, platforms this year.
Did you catch that? Romney. Santorum. Gingrich. All have held office in the past. None have been a true small-government conservative when in office. All are promising to be that sort of conservatives if elected. One man is missing from that list. Ron Paul. No one can seriously charge Paul with failing to be a consistent small-government conservative. Yet he is treated like a leper by the National Review and other neo-con dominated organs. Why? Because of his non-interventionist stance on foreign policy, a foreign policy that is in line with the Constitution but out of step with the military worshipping mindset of the modern GOP.

So for conservatives the choice this year for the candidate to face Obama comes down to three men who have failed to lead as conservatives when given the chance but who say the "right" things about foreign policy and promise to be better conservatives this time arounf or the one man who has consistently over the years been an unwavering conservative voice for drastically smaller government. One actual conservative, three men who promise to govern differently now than in the past. The choice seems simple.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Gingrich Campaign Strategy

1. Challenge Obama to “Lincoln-Douglas” style debates, whatever that means. Perhaps Newt is going to wear a stove pipe hat? Everyone knows that is not going to happen but that seems to be his primary focus.

2. Invoke the name of Reagan at every opportunity. You can’t invoke the Gipper too often but absolutely no less than once every third sentence.

3. Rail against the media for asking questions. Any questions. Only Newt could turn an ugly event from his past into an applause line at a debate.

4. Hope no one looks too closely at your actual Ieadership experience (that didn’t end so well) or what you have been doing with yourself since being run out of leadership in disgrace (you know, lobbying er, being the official historian, for Freddie Mac; playing snuggle-bunnies with Nancy Pelosi on a love seat, etc.). Given how quickly he flamed out the last time we made him the leader of the party, what makes anyone think a megalomaniac like Gingrich is going to handle being President any better?

Someone needs to go to South Carolina and smack the entire GOP voting population upside their collective heads. I support Ron Paul and what he is trying to do in moving the party away from a “conservatism” that is only slightly to the right of the Democrats and a state of constant war to prop up military spending. I can live with Mitt Romney in spite of his flaws because I think he will do the right thing in office out of pragmatism if not heartfelt belief. I can live with Rick Santorum although I think he is pretty far off the mark on many issues because he seems like a sincere guy.

Newt? I actively dislike him. Not as much as Obama but far more than any other current or past candidate on the GOP side. I thought it was a huge joke when he announced he was running, something that was reinforced when his staff quit en masse. I mean, Newt Gingrich? Seriously? Then it turns out that we don’t have much of an alternative to Romney other than Ron Paul and few Republicans seem to give Paul a fair shake, thus leaving us with Romney or Gingrich. Tim Pawlenty should be ashamed of himself for dropping out so quickly.

I am not keen on the idea of a candidate up against Obama with enormous (and warranted) personal baggage with a lot of negatives and very few positives other than being able to think on his feet and deliver applause lines in a debate. Will I vote for him if he is the nominee? Sure but I will do it while holding my nose. A lot of other less engaged voters might not bother showing up at all if the choice is between Obama and Gingrich, and I can’t say that I blame them.

South Carolina is only one state and I assume once people start to actually look at Gingrich as a candidate he will wilt like he did in Iowa. For the sake of the next election and the future of our country, let’s hope so.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Charging Toward War

Mark Halperin, writing for the Wall Street Journal, paints a hyperbolic picture of the danger of a nuclear attack by Iran worthy of the sort of breathless predictions of calamity one would read from a "climate change expert". Even the title is risible: The Mortal Threat From Iran , at least it would be if what follows was not so terrifying. After several paragraphs of ominous warnings, each one more dire than the prior including the threat of the Iranian navy launching nukes at American cities from their leaky speedboat navy, Halperin ends with this doozy:

Relying solely upon his oath, holding in abeyance any consideration of politics or transient opinion, and eager to defend his decision in exquisite detail, he should order the armed forces of the United States to attack and destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons complex. When they have complied, and our pilots are in the air on their way home, they will have protected our children in their beds—and our children's children, many years from now, in theirs. May this country always have clear enough sight and strong enough will to stand for itself in the face of mortal threat, and in time.
Can you hear the Star Spangled Banner playing softly in the background while Old Glory is snapping in the wind? Brings tears of patriotic joy to my eyes. Of course no mention is made of the Iranian children cowering under their beds while our bombs fall on Iran. Iranian children are unimportant or at least no more important than the Japanese children incinerated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki or dying slow and gruesome deaths from radiation poisoning. You do remember that of all of the nuclear armed nations in the world only the land of the free and home of the brave has actually used them, twice and on civilian targets to make a point, right?

So based on the President's oath....

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." (Article Two, Section One, Clause Eight:)
....Mark Halperin suggests that the aforementioned President is free to rain destruction on Iran based on the possibility that they might obtain nuclear weapons that they might be able to shoot at Iran or even America from their fishing trawlers and they might someday use them even though even a nutjob like the Prez of Iran realizes that doing so would be the end of himself, his country and his people. Dictators and despots may not care much about their people but they do love their own lives.

The oath of office for the President requires him (or her) to preserve, protest and defend what? The Constitution of the United States. What does the Constitution have to say about this? That the President must go to the Congress for a declaration of war. That is awfully inconvenient but one would hope that someone given space on the opinion pages of an august publication like the Wall Street Journal would be familiar with the oath he invokes as justification for a preemptive attack without provocation on a sovereign nation.

What Mark Halperin is proposing is a complete overthrow of our Constitutional system of checks and balances, placing the decision to go to war solely in the hands of one man. In the name of "security" and for the sake of our children snugged safely in their warm beds while Iranian children burn to death, he would have us abandon our liberties. The only guarantee of liberty in this country is the Constitution and he would have us chuck the whole thing in a seizure of power. If you can ignore something as serious as the system of checks and balances that prevents one man from taking us to war, you can ignore pretty much anything you want.

We stand at the precipice of yet another war and many "small government conservatives" can't wait to borrow and spend more money for another foolish war based on false pretenses predicated on a possible threat. Didn't we just finish a war that we engaged in under the same pretenses and similarly without a declaration of war? Like it or not, we live in a country governed by a clearly written document called the Constitution, the very Constitution that each President swears an oath to uphold and defend with his hand on a Bible. I for one am glad of that and I wish more people would remember that Constitution even when it is not convenient for their political platform.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Too many people taking out and not enough people paying in

The Wall Street Journal reports on a troubling statistic regarding the percentage of Americans living in a household that receives government benefits: Nearly Half of U.S Lives in Household Receiving Government Benefits

The pool of Americans relying on government benefits rose to record highs last year as an increasing share of families tapped aid in a weak economy.

Some 48.6% of the population lived in a household receiving some type of government benefit in the second quarter of 2010, up a notch from 48.5% in the first quarter, according to Census data.

Not to get all conspiratorial but that is exactly what the Left wants because the more people depend on the government, the more likely they are to vote for politicians who will protect that benefit. Politicians get to bribe voters with the hard earned money of other people or with borrowed money that they will never have to worry about paying back.

Half of all people in the U.S. live households that receive some sort of government benefit. A similar percentage of American workers pay no income taxes. It is probably safe to assume that there is a lot of overlap between these two groups (I am the exception, paying no income taxes but not receiving any government benefits unless you count my tax “refund”). More and more Americans get to vote in our elections but don’t have to pay for the consequences of those voting decisions. How else do you explain the current President and the "Occupy Wall Street" movement?

This is a dangerous and unsustainable system. When a majority of people start to realize that they can vote to steal from others, democracy is doomed. As more and more people live in households that are on the government dole and more and more people don’t pay income taxes that fund those government benefits, the burden shifts to a shrinking population of workers who sustain this system by their taxes. We face a double-whammy of increasing the pool of Americans who don’t pay into the system and a gradually more and more skewed ration of tax paying workers to benefit receiving seniors as older Americans live longer and younger Americans have fewer children to replenish the workforce.

We need to reduce the number of people who a) have no stake in the spending decisions of politicians by ensuring that all Americans pay something in income taxes and b) receive some sort of benefit from the government paid for by someone else. Getting financial goodies from the government shouldn’t be the default, it should be rare and it should be temporary. A society that devours those who work and earn to benefit those who don’t is not going to survive for long.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is there a double standard?

News reports today indicate that an Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated by a bomb under his car. From CNN:

A nuclear scientist was killed in a blast in a Tehran neighborhood Wednesday morning, an Iranian news agency reported, the latest in a string of attacks against such scientists that Iran has blamed on Israel.

A motorcyclist placed a magnetic bomb under Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan's Peugeot 405, the state-run IRNA news agency said. The blast also wounded two others, IRNA said.

State television channel Press TV reported later Wednesday that Roshan's driver, named as Reza Qashqaei, had died in a hospital from his injuries.

Roshan, 32, was a deputy director for commercial affairs at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Isfahan province and a graduate of Iran's Oil Industry University, according to the semi-official news agency Fars.
As CNN notes, this is the latest in a string of targeted assassinations of Iranian scientists...

Now let's compare that to
Wednesday's attack followed a similar mode of operation as others that have killed nuclear scientists in the capital city.

Iranian nuclear physicist Daryoush Rezaie, 35, was killed in an attack last July in front of his Tehran home by assailants on a motorcycle, Iranian media reported.

And on January 12, 2010, Iranian university professor and nuclear scientist Massoud Ali Mohammadi was killed in a blast when an assailant stuck a bomb under his car. Majid Jamali Fashi, an Iranian, reportedly confessed to the bombing and was sentenced to death in August, IRNA reported at the time.
Now let's compare that to an event here in the U.S. last year. From Fox News: U.S. Ties Iran to Assassination Plot Against Saudi Diplomat on U.S. Soil (emphasis mine)...

Authorities foiled a plot that was directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday at a press conference.

A criminal complaint was unsealed in federal court in New York Tuesday naming Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri as the two alleged plotters, both with ties to Iran. Arbabsiar has been jailed in New York since September and Shakuri remains at large.

The complaint alleges that Iran helped conceive, sponsor and direct the plot. Holder called the alleged plot a "flagrant violation of U.S. and international law" and said the U.S. will hold Iran accountable.

The allegations in the 21-page complaint may further isolate Iran, which has a track record of supporting international terrorism.
So Iran is accused of a plot to assassinate someone and we cry foul, complaining that this alleged plot is a flagrant violation of U.S. and international law. If the allegations are true, it certainly is. What then do we say about the successful assassination of not one, not two but three Iranian citizens in Iran over the course of a year? An unsuccessful plot against a foreign national on our soil is a major international incident that comes with an ominous warning directed at Iran but three successful assassinations of Iranian citizens on Iranian soil is met with a knowing smile and a wink? Can you imagine if someone assassinated some of our nuclear scientists or tried to block commerce from U.S. ports?

Look, Iran is a rogue nation led by a nutjob and I get that and yes the U.S. and Israel are democracies and the "good guys" and Iran is the "bad guys" but there comes a point where we have to start asking hard questions about our foreign policy. The Middle-East is on the brink of way yet again and everyone is pointing fingers at Iran for its dogged pursuit of nuclear technology (the technology that we possess and have used, that Israel posses, that France possesses, that Russia, China, India and Pakistan among others possesses). Meanwhile we are threatening to cut off their only real source of income, i.e. oil. Someone is assassinating their citizens on their own soil and the most likely culprit Israel is not denying responsibility. It is kind of understandable that Iran is being less than cooperative.

Maybe we need to take a step back, quit rattling our sabres and try to look at this situation from a position other that "might makes right", the attitude that the U.S. and Israel get to dictate who is or is not worthy of having nuclear technology and enforcing our edicts by economic sanctions, targeted assassinations and quite likely military action. If our intent is war and the removal of the current Iranian regime, we should declare war as provided for under the Constitution. If we are unwilling to do that perhaps we should find an alternate strategy because the path we are on is going to leave Iran with very few options other than capitulating to pressure from the U.S. and Israel or a devastating war that will lead to the deaths of thousands. That is not much of a choice.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Libertarianism and War

Very interesting video, given the hyperbole, silliness and outright falsehoods that accompany so many discussions of Ron Paul and national defense....I especially like the point that standing armies and endangerment of liberty go hand in hand....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What Happens After Iowa?

Today is the big day in Iowa after a ridiculous amount of time and money has been spent by candidates jockeying for position.

A few predictions...

I think that Ron Paul pulls it out tonight in Iowa. Given the fluidity of the race and the huge "enthusiasm" disparity between Paul supporters and everyone else, it seems that Paul's support is rock solid. Santorum's supporters just came to him and could leave just as easily. Paul's supporters generally speaking won't support anyone else. I have a hard time seeing a lukewarm supporter of Santorum or Gingrich or Romney putting forth the effort to come out for them but Paul supporters would walk a mile barefoot on broken glass for him!

After tonight the field needs to winnow down. A lot. Huntsman won't leave because he didn't bother to show up in Iowa at all, instead putting all of his efforts into New Hampshire where he competes with another moderate mormon who has an enormous lead. He is kind of delusional but he is a politician after all and he is done after New Hampshire. I don't see Bachmann making it past tonight. She peaked at the straw poll earlier and has zero traction. Those who supported her have been siphoned off to Santorum so I am not sure how she sees a path to the nomination. I am not sure where Perry goes after tonight, it doesn't seem that he has much of a chance to do well in New Hampshire. I don't know if he drops after tonight but he should. I think Gingrich comes in fourth tonight but continues with "the worst organized campaign ever". After a mediocre showing in New Hampshire and South Carolina I think he, along with Perry if he is still kidding himself, will finally bow out.

In the weeks and months to come, it looks like a three man race between establishment favorite Romney, running on the "electability" platform as the guy best able to beat Obama; Ron Paul who has a pretty hard ceiling on support among traditional Republicans because of his refusal to pander to the military interventionist party line; and someone else. That someone else looks like Santorum at this point esp. if Bachmann and Perry drop out and their supporters coalesce behind him. Paul has the enthusiasm and organization for the long haul and no real compelling reason to drop out. It isn't as if there is a similar voice competing with him. I unfortunately don't see him winning the nomination because of the oft mentioned disconnect between his Constitutional principles on national security and the party line that sees nothing wrong with getting entangled in a new foreign engagement every couple of years. The end result is still what I figured it was a while ago, Romney with the nomination. I think Romney can and does beat Obama and will be a much better President, although that is setting the bar pretty low. Had Pawlenty not flinched and dropped out so soon or if Mitch Daniels or someone like him had entered we might have a different race but that die is already cast.

Longer term, this is Ron Paul's last run but his legacy will be more lasting. I can see another, younger champion of actual limited government rising up, one without the bogus baggage of the newsletters to deal with. The traditional two parties are rapidly losing their base of support as the Tea Party movement on the right in 2010 and the Occupy movement on the left in 2011 show. If the Democrats keep pandering to the far left fringe, the homosexual lobby, organized labor bigwigs and leftist academics and if the Republicans keep pandering to the corporate interests lobbying for kickbacks and a state of perpetual war, they will both be setting the stage for something else. We have had the current political set-up for a long time but not forever and it is high time that something new comes out.

Anyway, those are my predictions. They will probably all be wrong

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Map of the world of debt

Wow, this is unpleasant (you need to click on the picture and then click again to see it full sized)