Archive for the ‘McCain’ Category.

The Siren Song of the Moderate Republican Presidential Candidate

The recent government shutdown once again raised the idea of a Republican Civil War between moderates and conservatives within the party. This idea is carried forward in a profile of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie written by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough for Time Magazine. He argues that Christie’s cake-walk re-election this week came about because he “dominated the middle of a Democratic electorate.”

 

To win again—to make America great and growing again—requires a return to the spirit and substance of Eisenhower and Reagan. We Republicans will not win national elections if we do not broaden our appeal in the way these giants did. Nor will we govern well if we refuse to make principled compromises when necessary, the kinds of compromises that led Ike and Reagan to historical greatness.

 

Daniel Greenfield at Frontpage Mag disagrees with this approach, writing, “The Republican Party has allowed its enemies to define it. Its moderation has convinced voters that it’s crazy and dangerous because without raising its voice and fighting back, the only things they know about it comes from its enemies.”

Who is right? Should the Republican Party abandon its conservative Tea Party base and embrace moderation, by supporting a liberal Republican like Christie, or should the Party ignore the calls for moderation and follow a more ideological path by selecting a Rand Paul or Ted Cruz to bear the party’s standard in 2016?

Let me begin by stating I like Chris Christie. I disagree with him on many issues, in particularly his stance on guns, but if he’s the nominee I will support him, and not because I’m a good little Republican. I like his willingness, eagerness really, to bait his opponents in a fight. His aggression is something we have lacked in candidates with a few flashes from Michelle Bachmann, and the exception of Newt Gingrich, who catapulted himself to front-runner status after taking on CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a debate Cooper was moderating. The GOP base feels that the Republican Party establishment has been playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules in a street fight. Somewhere along the line, I’d guess the death of Lee Atwater, the Republican Party lost the stomach to do anything and everything to win an election. This spirit is not lacking in their Democratic opponents. The Democrats will do anything to attain and keep power. It’s like a football game between the New England Patriots and your local high school’s JV team. You can show all the heart on the field you want, but you’re still going to lose. Christie has that heart but he also knows the sport and plays it like a professional. He doesn’t just respond, he eviscerates. He uses both his size and his New Jersey accent as weapons, and he would shred just about any Democratic candidate in the debates.

But I am not convinced picking Christie as the nominee will win the GOP the White House.

The problem as I see it is that while he might may have dominated a Democratic electorate in New Jersey in his 2013 re-election, he likely won’t do the same nationally in 2016. The Democrats knew he had a lock on the governorship, which is why they didn’t put up much of a fight or waste money supporting his challenger. This will not be the case in 2016. Then he will face a Democratic electorate unified in its quest to control the White House for another 8 years. Liberal interest groups will open their checkbooks, as will billionaires like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg. And unless the Republican party and its allies mount an effective campaign to neutralize the air cover provided by the mainstream media for the Democratic candidate as Bill Whittle at Bamboo Spears warns, the Democratic Party will control the public perception of the Republican nominee. Whittle writes, “If you are fighting a conventional war and you do not own the skies, you are going to lose.” Picking Christie would be fighting a conventional war.

Today Christie is perceived by the media as a tough talking leader of a tough state, able to twist arms and get things done. Come election day 2016, he will be a “racist, 1% supporting, woman hating, gay bashing, right wing extremist. Did we mention he was fat? Gross…” Can’t happen? It already has. The Democrats and their allies in the media took a popular liberal Republican governor of a Blue State with the same “bipartisan” getting things done record and turned him into a caricature that Romney himself didn’t recognize. In fact, it’s the same playbook used against John McCain in 2008 except that McCain’s bipartisan record and legislative successes occurred in the Senate and not the state house. There’s already proof it’s happening as John Nolte at Breitbart.com noticed with the “Elephant in the Room” Time cover, concerns about his health, and weight jokes. “The media love Christie when he is hugging Barack Obama and trashing conservatives. But the media also know that he is about to threaten Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the White House. By laying the groundwork with the weight issue now, the media hope to turn Christie into a national fat joke as a way to undermine his candidacy.”

And before I go much further let’s stop the pretense. No more “Democratic candidate;” everyone knows that the Democratic candidate will be Hillary Clinton. The time has finally come for the Democratic Party to wield that old battle axe in battle that it has been itching to do since 2000.

The Democratic Party Lesson

The success of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 began on January 19, 2004 in West Des Moines Iowa with a concession speech by Howard Dean. Dean, recovering from a severe bout of the flu, was shouting over the cheers of his audience using a uni-directional microphone that filtered out the sound of the audience. In the speech Dean sounded possessed, his voice cracking when he screamed “Yeah!” at the end became known as the “Dean Scream.” Howard Dean, who had run an insurgent, grass-roots campaign against the Democratic establishment candidates of John Kerry and John Edwards, was left vulnerable.

Dean had raised millions through small internet donations, a first in a presidential election in the United States. He energized the liberal base of the party who had always opposed the Iraq War that both Kerry and Edwards had voted for in 2002. His supporters and volunteers were young and enthusiastic, striking some in the establishment as almost “cult-like”. Deans meteoric rise in the fall of 2003 scared the Democratic establishment. They saw Dean as unelectable in the general election, an extremist that President Bush would turn into a George McGovern surrogate in a re-run of the 1972 election. Dean had to be stopped, so the establishment  began leaking unflattering stories to the press, blunting Dean’s candidacy around the holiday season. But the Deaniacs remained devoted, distrusting the Democratic Party establishment just as much as the Tea Partiers dislike the GOP establishment today.

When Dean screamed, the Democratic establishment pounced, and within days Howard Dean had flamed out. With Howard Dean gone, so was the enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate, culminating in the awkward “Reporting for duty”  quip by John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.  The establishment ran an establishment-designed and executed campaign, and the base never got behind it. Kerry lost.

But Howard Dean wasn’t done. Within weeks of the inauguration of President George W. Bush to a second term, Dean focused on becoming the chairman of the DNC. Again the Democratic establishment opposed him in his effort; rumors are both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi fought his candidacy. But Dean had the votes this time, and he won. Suddenly the candidate of the liberal grassroots, the outsiders arrayed against the establishment, became the establishment.

Dean took the party’s apparatus and immediately put it to work. He focused on the grassroots, ironically using a strategy first employed by the Republican Party regrouping after Vietnam and the Nixon resignation in the 1970s known as the “50 State Strategy.” This channeled the energy of the grassroots to the benefit of all political levels within each state. A feature of this strategy was to replace moderates and conservatives within the party who tended towards compromise or bi-partisan solutions with dogmatic liberals dedicated to pushing the liberal agenda beloved by the grassroots. The result was a party purged of its pro-life, pro-2nd amendment, free-trade and middle-class supporting, environmentally-agnostic members. Losing conservative and members of the party shifted its balance ideologically from center-left to the hard left, leaving the Democratic Party today more liberal than at any time in its history.

It worked. Not only did Dean’s strategy net the party the White House in 2008, it also gained them both houses of Congress. The Democratic Party did not gain control of two of the three branches of American government by running the most moderate or conservative candidates: it won by running the most liberal politicians dedicated to the principles of the Party. For the presidency the extremists who had lost in 2004 had backed Barack Obama by almost 2-1 versus the more moderate John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. Obama’s election, engineered by Howard Dean’s amazing rebound after his early 2004 collapse, stands as one of the greatest examples of a grassroots movement outwitting the establishment  and achieving victory in recent history.

Republicans would be stupid not to heed it, but we all know who the stupid party is in American politics.

The Game Changer

Charles Krauthammer believes soul searching by the Republican Party isn’t necessary. Its principles are sound; there is no need to kick the Tea Party caucus out of the party and reinvent itself.

 

The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence.

Additionally, warn the doomsayers, Republicans must change not just ethnically but ideologically. Back to the center. Moderation above all!

More nonsense. Tuesday’s exit polls showed that by an eight-point margin (51-43), Americans believe that government does too much. And Republicans are the party of smaller government. Moreover, onrushing economic exigencies — crushing debt, unsustainable entitlements — will make the argument for smaller government increasingly unassailable.


 

Krauthammer recommends a single policy change. Embrace amnesty for illegal immigrants but do so after securing the border. Announce complete amnesty; anyone here will become citizen no fine print, no qualifiers. The only string is that the border must be secured first and it has to be secured properly. The Israelis have done it on a smaller scale using walls, electronic sensors and drones. We could do the same, and once that is done if you are here that’s it: You’re a citizen.

Living with Hispanics as I do in rural North Carolina I’m amazed the Democratic Party thinks they are natural Democrats. Hispanics are culturally conservative, more conservative in some respects than red-necks and the NASCAR crowd the liberal elite likes to make fun of. They are religious and family-centric. They are industrious and have an innate distrust of the government after having experienced the ineffectual, corrupt and oppressive governments in Central America. In short they are natural Republicans. But they have voted Democratic because of the Republican stance on illegal immigration and because the GOP has bought the Democrat’s narrative that they own that minority.

So change the political dynamic using the Secure-Amnesty approach. It would be a classic bit of political jujitsu; all the effort the Democratic Party has put into securing Hispanic votes suddenly is used against them. It would change the dynamic between the parties for generations. And that’s what a living party does: it evolves and grows while remaining true to its core beliefs. Immigration policy isn’t a core Republican belief; fix it and move on.

Let the Democrats Drink Kool-aid, the GOP Should Stick to Tea

Those who advise the GOP to select a moderate candidate with a record of “reaching across the aisle” is either a Democratic consultant or a self-hating Republican like Mr. Scarborough who probably needs to change his party affiliation (I think he’s been breathing the air at MSNBC too long.) Anyone the GOP nominates will be portrayed as racist, xenophobic, homophobic right wing zealot guilty of waging a war on women. It could put up the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the party would be accused by the Democrats and their lapdog press of being in the pocket of agribusiness and guilty of poisoning the food supply with gluten.

The only solution is to simply ignore the other side. Sure it’s great if the GOP can bring back some of the Reagan Democrats who haven’t died or converted into Republicans already, but the deciding factors should all be internal.

Does the nominee excite the base? The GOP primaries of 2011-12 seem like happening so long ago, but it’s worth remembering who got Republicans excited. First there was Michelle Bachmann, then Rick Perry, Herman Cain and finally, almost in desperation, there was Newt Gingrich. None of these four had the ability to maintain interest, and as a result the love affairs with each were intense but brief. When all these suitors were dropped, there was only Mitt Romney, and honestly the base just wasn’t into him. Choosing Romney was a chore for the base, and no matter how much the establishment promised he had what it took to beat Obama, it never warmed to him. As a result Romney got 2 million few votes than McCain in a contest decided by 3 million votes.

Did the nominee get wealthy through means other than finance? I doubt paupers will be serious primary candidates, but there is wealth achieved by what most Americans consider to be hard work, and there’s wealth that’s perceived to be ill-gotten. Getting wealthy in the financial industry makes one immediately suspect. Romney never escaped Bain Capital, and if the GOP picks Christie everyone will soon discover that he made his wealth at Goldman Sachs, known as the “Vampire Squid” in a 2009 article by Rolling Stones writer Matt Taibbi,  by stealing old people’s pensions and drinking the carbonated tears of orphans. Christie has so many skeletons in his closet that Romney slammed the door in terror, and he selected Paul Ryan as his running mate instead. Rest assured that somewhere one of Hillary Clinton’s staff is devouring and the book behind the accusations, and the more likely Christie will become the GOP standard-bearer the more the public will find them on public display.

Does the nominee really want the job and have “fire in the belly” to prove it? McCain really wanted to be president in 2000, but by the time it was his turn in 2008 his candidacy lacked the fire of his days in the “Straight-talk Express,” and obviously so did his belly. Had Bush had less luck and McCain more I’m convinced he would have won in 2000 against Gore by a wide margin. Romney seemed to have it in the primaries when he was fighting for the nomination, but seemed exhausted of both ideas, spirit and worse, fight by the Labor Day 2012 rolled around the partisan battle started in earnest. Running for president takes a level of courage, stamina, egotism and even insanity that normal people do not have. Their past should reflect a constant striving for the ultimate job, their decisions made at all levels of their career with the knowledge that someday they would have to justify them. They don’t need to be perfect, just justifiable, and the more honest the answers the better.

All candidates in the mix currently meet these criteria with the exception of Christie (missing 1, 2) and Rubio (missing 1). Three years out it’s impossible to say who will win the primaries in 2016 and become the GOP nominee, but here’s my take. Ted Cruz: Too inexperienced. Rand Paul:  The sane Ron Paul, but can’t we nominate a governor please after suffering a crappy senator for 8 years? Rick Perry: An early favorite as long as his wooden demeanor comes across as presidential timber. It didn’t in 2012. Sarah Palin: Worth nominating just to see liberal heads explode. Cat-fight for the Presidency would make a WWF cage-match look like tea at Downton Abbey.  Someone else? As the year ends and 2014 begins, it will increasingly look unlikely for another player to appear. I’d give the odds at 60-40 in favor today, declining to 50-50 in Feb 2014 (two years ahead of New Hampshire Primary)  and 40-60 against in Summer 2014.

 

Obama’s Leadership Failure

Over the past five years I have watched the collapse of American prestige in the world. I have come to terms with this loss, recognizing that such things are reversible and that a new administration will one day take over and reverse the decline. But as we learned during the Carter era, reinforced by Reagan’s retreat from Lebanon after 242 US Marines were killed in 1983 and later Clinton’s Somalia fiasco, such a loss resonates into the future. The prime example of this was Osama Bin Laden’s recognition of these failures as signs of America’ s loss of will, making it the “weak horse” which would collapse by the addition of a grain of salt on its back. One by one grains were added, the 1993 WTC attack, the Khobar bombings in Saudi Arabia, the Embassy Bombings of 1998, and the USS Cole attack of 2000, and the horse failed to fall. The 9-11 attacks were just more of the same, more grains of salt added to the horse’s back from Bin Laden’s perspective. But instead of collapsing under the strain Bin Laden’s metaphor collapsed, and he and his organization found itself on the defensive against a determined foe, one that eventually turned him into fish food in the Indian Ocean.

We are repeating history, and in this sequel we are much closer in time to Carter’s 1980 failed hostage rescue mission than we are to Tora Bora. President Obama’s core belief that words matter, that diplomacy can solve every crisis and that the military option is only resorted to by leaders less intelligent than himself, has been shown a failure to everyone outside his inner circle. Over the past 5 years (I include Obama’s promises in the final stage of the 2008 campaign as well as the self-importance he attached to his president-elect status after the 2008 election and before the 2009 inauguration) Obama has used promises and threats instead of deeds and action to guide US foreign policy. There was some success at first as allies took his word for the former and our enemies heeded the latter, but as the world changed the promises weren’t met and the threats weren’t acted upon, our allies became disheartened while our enemies were encouraged. Such mistakes must have come as a surprise to both, to see the most powerful and influential nation on earth run by an administration filled with the best and brightest progressive leaders the country had to offer acting like an impoverished, helpless and morally bankrupt banana republic on the world’s stage.

Nations adjusted accordingly. China has become more aggressive in its territorial claims. North Korea continues to threaten the world with nuclear annihilation with impunity. Iran has taken the success of North Korea to heart and vigorously pursues the Bomb. While the Obama administration spoke about the decimation of al Qaeda, the terrorist organization proved powerful enough to kill an American ambassador, the first in thirty years, take over leadership of the rebellion in Syria, turn Iraq into a killing zone,  and scare the administration into closing a score of embassies throughout the Middle East. Not bad for an organization that the administration has said is “on the run.” Clearly al Qaeda accomplishes more in retreat than many armies do on the offensive.

Then there is Russia.  It’s ironic that President Obama treats Vladimir Putin as his equal and Russia as a superpower by giving it veto power over American actions in the Middle East and throughout Asia. In effect Obama elevates the status of Russia while subverting American interests abroad. Such actions must demoralize nations in the former Russian sphere of influence like Poland and the Czech Republic, while encouraging our friends in the Middle East such as Israel and Saudi Arabia to begin to cut their own deals with Russia.

Speaking of friends, we once had one in Egypt. It was a typical Middle Eastern friend. It took gobs of money from us then fed the masses a steady diet of anti-American propaganda that encouraged Islamic terrorism. But the Egyptian regime was successful for the most part. It kept itself in power, maintained the peace – albeit a cold one – with Israel, and kept the foreign currency flowing into Egypt from European and American tourists. Make no mistake Hosni Mubarak was no Winston Churchill, and the Egyptian regime never had our back the way Australia always has, but to expect anything more from Arabs in the Middle East requires complete ignorance of the culture and history of the area. Nevertheless the Obama administration and the State Department under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, a woman whose resume highlight for the job included hosting dinners as the First Lady in the White House for eight years, proved through their actions (and inactions) that for all their supposed brilliance, they were at heart as dumb as a box of blocks when it came to Egypt.

First the administration saw the Arab Spring as a revolutionary moment for liberalism in the country, forgetting that Egypt has been ruled throughout its five thousand year history by pharaohs, kings and military juntas when independent and by Rome, the Ottoman Empire or France when not. Although Egypt lacked any democratic culture or institutions, the Obama administration happily threw Hosni Mubarak under the bus, thinking that he would be replaced by a liberal Democrat they had met at a Washington DC state dinner, Mohamed ElBaradei. The Obama administration didn’t understand what was really happening in Egypt during the Arab Spring: the military junta had stopped supporting Mubarak when he attempted to turn over power to his son and make the presidency a dynasty. Elections were held and the masses didn’t vote for a familiar face in the DC dinner circuit; instead they elected the front of a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel and the United States, and the ideological parent organization of both Hamas and al Qaeda.

Maybe the Obama administration and the State Department thought they were dealing with the Egyptian equivalent of Sinn Fein, and that like the IRA in Ireland, the terrorists in Egypt would lay down their arms and take up the ballot box to achieve their aims of global conquest. Many on the Right questioned the administration support for the Brotherhood as being more diabolical, and that some great conspiracy lay behind American support of the Brotherhood even when it became obvious that it was trying to turn Egypt into an Islamic state like Iran. Although I doubt that Obama is a closet Muslim, or that Hillary’s “special friend” Huma Abedin’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood dictated our policy towards Egypt, nothing but sheer stupidity successfully explains our support of the organization as it attempted to wrest control of the state from the military. The military reacted and said “Enough,” taking power away from the Islamists and restoring the status quo of a generation ago when Mubarak ruled Egypt with military support and the Muslim Brotherhood conspired to take power from behind bars. The result of this episode in Middle Eastern foreign policy is the brilliant progressive leaders of the Obama Administration and State Department have angered all sides in Egypt.

For perhaps the first time in his life Obama will be judged not by his words but his actions. No speech he gives will excuse the failure of his leadership on foreign policy, particularly on Syria. It is ironic that the words so prized by Obama and his followers are what has boxed him into a corner in the first place. His team knew the ad libbed term “red line” would prove disastrous. Now he is so desperate he is begging Republicans like former foe Senator John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner to save him. Given the stupidity of the GOP it’s quite possible they just will, providing him the option he needs so that when things get worse in Syria he can blame them. Unlike McCain and Boehner I can live with an America that cannot be trusted by its friends and is no longer feared by its enemies – at least until January 2017. The progressives and Obama believed they knew best and elections have consequences. To paraphrase my late mother-in-law, they chose this path, and they must walk it.

 

Does Romney 2012 = McCain 2008?

Like many Republicans I’m concerned selecting Romney as our standard-bearer guarantees a repeat of McCain’s defeat in 2008. Today the “accepted wisdom” by supporters of Gingrich and Santorum is that McCain was too moderate, and that by selecting another moderate as the 2012 Republican nominee we are doomed to lose in November. In order to better evaluate where Romney stands today it’s necessary to consider McCain’s mistakes during the last election cycle from the November 2008 perspective. Thankfully on election night 2008 Jennifer Rubin posted The Top Thirty Errors That Doomed McCain. I’ve reviewed these and divided them up into the following error types: Attack, Domestic Policy, Internal Campaign, Personal, Media Handling and Sarah Palin.

Rubin points out several reasons for McCain’s defeat  related to Sarah Palin. Rubin recognizes that McCain’s campaign team blew Palin’s rollout, and worse, immediately began trashing her in private. Unfortunately for McCain – and a Sarah Palin thrust into the public eye for the first time – things didn’t stop there. The disparaging remarks about Palin began leaking to the press and became public. Instead of recognizing Palin’s innate charisma with average American voters including independents and rolling her out whenever and wherever possible, McCain’s campaign team hid her and treated her as badly as the liberal mainstream media that lampooned her mercilessly as ignorant, “I can see Russia from my backyard,” and a wild-eyed soccer mom drenched in moose blood. Any decent campaign team would have been able to short circuit this treatment with the truth. For instance, Palin actually said about Russia, “They’re our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska,” which anyone who’s ever looked at a globe or even watched an Alaskan themed show on the Discovery Channel would know is true. As for Palin’s hunting acumen, where I live dead deer carcasses are common in the backs of pickup trucks during hunting season, and anyone who’s ever eaten Bambi knows that deer meat is delicious and one of the healthier meats available. Perhaps maybe that’s why Sarah Palin is even more popular today in these parts than her former running mate ever was.

The handling of Sarah Palin points out other mistakes by McCain and his campaign staff. McCain should have shown some integrity by personally canning the staff responsible  for its handling of Palin. In fact McCain should have exhibited much greater hands-on control with his staff throughout his campaign, preventing other errors Rubin points out such as his failure to better control his team, preventing arguments and in-fighting from going public and exhibiting a campaign in apparent disarray. If he had a better campaign team, McCain wouldn’t have wasted time and resources in Iowa instead of putting those into Virginia, a state with more electoral votes at stake.

Of the 30 errors Rubin describes, these mistakes account for just under a quarter. We’ll throw in “Waiting until the final Saturday Night Live before the election to show self-deprecating humor,” to push it over that mark. We could also add McCain’s failure to find a credible economics adviser at a time when economics was the key issue of the election, made worse by McCain’s response to the financial meltdown where he called off the debates in order to show he was serious about handling the crisis, and his failure to come up with a credible economic plan in the final weeks of the campaign. So over a third of his mistakes are related to the internal machinations of McCain’s staff and the apparent bumbling of an old man out of his depth, resorting to public theater to appear relevant.

Will Romney react similarly? First off Economics happens to be Romney’s strength. McCain seemed uncomfortable with economics, much preferring interest in foreign policy. That’s not surprising since foreign policy is one of the few powers reserved for the executive branch. For a former Cold Warrior and POW like McCain economics must seem pointless. After all, a good conservative would know that sometimes the best  economic action is to do nothing, not that McCain was a good conservative (Rubin’s Reason # 28 “Too much hostility toward conservatives offering smart strategy and policy ideas.”) Romney’s business acumen directly translates to economic matters. Secondly there will be no Sarah Palin repeat this round, unless Sarah Palin appears at the convention and accepts the nomination with Romney as her VP (if so, remember folks you read it here first!) Romney will most likely choose a known quantity, a conservative with credentials that could help seal the deal with his base. Ron Paul would be a solid choice, or to allow me to breathe for the next 4 years Rick Santorum, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal or Tim Pawlenty. The best VP might be another Rick, Rick Perry from Texas. There’s already precedent for a moderate candidate from Massachusetts selecting a conservative from Texas to be his running mate after all. McCain tried to seal the deal with conservatives with Palin, but only a few conservatives knew about her and the MSM was so shocked, and the McCain response to the Palin attacks so lukewarm, that the Media was able to use McCain’s VP choice as a cudgel to beat his campaign into the ground with.

For being as wise and experienced as McCain is, he also had Media problems as the Palin episode proved. McCain whined about the Media and he didn’t control it the way Gingrich does. Established GOP figures like Gingrich understand that belly-aching about media bias does not make headlines or win votes, but smacking them around sure does. In fact the minute Romney’s camp feels mistreated by the MSM it should take out their frustrations by having Romney chew the head off the first reporter that gets in his way just as Gingrich did to CNN’s John King. Romney’s team must understand that John King and the media loved Gingrich’s response at the January 19th, 2012 debate almost as much as Gingrich’s audience did. At the same time it could learn from Gingrich’s treatment of the media behind the scenes. No one schmoozes the MSM more than Gingrich. He has treated the press well and never blocked their access to him, whereas McCain’s team cut off access the traveling press’s access to McCain and declared war on the MSM without understanding that such actions are like beating the tide back with a broom. Yes the media is liberal, and it holds conservative candidates to a higher standard, but that hasn’t stopped conservatives like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush from reaching the Oval Office.  There are ways to handle the liberal press that allows the conservative message to get out, but it’s not easy and it shouldn’t be left to amateurs as it was in 2008.

Finally, the key to McCain’s failure according to Rubin’s reasons is what I would describe simply as McCain’s failure to go on the offensive and attack Obama and the Democrats at every opportunity. Four years on I am left with the impression that McCain tried to fight a boxing match according to the Marquess of Queensberry Rules but instead the Democrats mugged him before he even got inside the ring. I’ve identified 13 of Rubin’s 30 reasons as resulting directly or indirectly from McCain’s failure to attack Obama and the Democrats. As Rubin points out the McCain team failed miserably at “oppo” research. They failed to attack Biden for his earmarks and lobbying on behalf of the banking industry, the most powerful industry in Biden’s home state of Delaware. They managed only lukewarm attacks on Obama for his cozy ties to Chicago’s Daly Machine and Big Labor, and failed to make an issue of his ties to the racist Rev. Wright, terrorist Bill Ayers, and indicted financier Tony Rezko. McCain failed to explain the Democrat’s role in the financial meltdown including ties to Countrywide’s CEO Angelo Mozilo, proven by the lucrative deals handed to “the friends of Angelo” like Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi’s son Paul Pelosi jr, Barbara Boxer, James Clyburn and Donna Shalala. McCain could have created a steady drumbeat of scandal that became a rhythm throughout his campaign, tainting the Democrats and particularly their standard-bearer then Senator Obama, but instead McCain wasted his time talking about bipartisanship, allowing the Democrats to dodge their role in the economic meltdown and blame the crisis on the GOP. I’m not sure why McCain chose this path on these issues. Perhaps it’s because he has never had to fight for his political life as a senator in Arizona, or the shellacking he received by the Bush team in the South Carolina primary in 2000 left him feeling that a scorched-earth attack policy wouldn’t sit well with his conscience. Regardless McCain had the opportunity to not only paint Obama as a tool of corrupt interests but the entire leadership of the Democratic Party. Had he successfully done so he could not only have won the election but employed long “coat-tails,” taking back the Senate and maybe even the House for the GOP.

It is too soon to determine whether Romney has held back attacking the President and the Democrats. Unfortunately the Democrats have already inoculated themselves and their president from the charges that could have damaged them in 2008 but won’t today. Romney has focused Obama during most of the debates, but his team has been mostly busy in putting out the fires caused by the insurgencies of the “not Romney” candidacies of Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich and Santorum. Although I have argued that a brutal vetting of our candidates will create a more effective one to go against Obama and his allies, I’m beginning to have my doubts, although it’s good to remember that by this time four years ago Hillary was still the one to beat for the Democratic nomination. Still I’m getting to the point where I believe the GOP is facing diminishing returns by distracting Romney, forcing him to pour his resources into fighting first Gingrich then Santorum instead of developing a consistent attack strategy against Obama.

Rubin’s article is just one opinion of why McCain lost, but it goes a long way to rebutting the claim that McCain was somehow too moderate or “Obama-lite” to win that floats around conservative circles these days. The problem wasn’t McCain’s ideology or the lack of fervor he inspired among conservatives, it was the fact that his inept campaign failed to punch back twice as hard. The battle for the presidency isn’t just a euphemism. It is a physical fight, one the Democrats understand instinctively how to win and the GOP recoils from. If there is any lesson to be learned from 2008 it’s that the GOP must develop a stomach for the fight and a willingness to take it to their opponents. Romney’s scorched earth tactics against Gingrich in South Carolina prove that he has both. The only questions are will the GOP nominate him, and once nominated, will Romney do what it takes to win?

Let it be known…

That I voted for John McCain knowing well that he will most likely lose tonight.

I pushed the button next to his name because no matter what the Obamanistas say, John McCain was the better man in this election. He is a true American hero who deserved to be elevated to the presidency, much more than the cipher the American electorate has chosen.

But this is America, and I have faith that come what may, the Republic will survive.

The Press Starts Realizing…

It has swung an election.

First this story “McCain Getting Hammered on Late-Night TV” points out that from Sept 1 to Oct 24 the McCain ticket has been the butt of 475 jokes by David Letterman and Jay Leno alone, versus 69 jokes targeting the Obama ticket. Next there’s this story that attempts to rationalize the press bias against McCain/Palin and its ass-kissing of anything Obama/Biden. The writer, of course, denies the fact that 80% or more of the Media is voting for Obama has anything to do with the negative coverage.

I’ve always been fascinated by propaganda – the culture of lies used to achieve and maintain power – for a similar reason that otherwise law abiding citizens are fascinated by the escapades of outlaws. Sometimes the Truth simply isn’t as exciting as Falsehood. The Truth can often be dull while Lies are often quite interesting and fanciful – just as a fireman’s daring rescue of a child from a burning building may not be quite as titillating as the nefarious doings of a local mob figure.

The greatest propagandists of the twentieth century were Joseph Goebbels and William Randolph Hearst. Both men consciously took kernels of Truth, twisted them and debased them for personal and political gain. While the current propagandists are shadows of these infamous men, New York Times publish Arthur Sulzburger jr, and Rolling Stone and US publisher Jann Wenner continue the tradition of repeating lies until the become truth, to paraphrase another master of propaganda, Joseph Stalin.

I expect that after the election is over and the Press understands the groupthink it engaged in over the past year, ruining the careers of anyone who stood in the way of the Obama juggernaut it created (Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Sarah Palin to name just a few) it will have to come to terms with an inexperienced president with personal views that are extreme to all but a small segment of the American population.

It will also have to question whether it wishes to become the arm of the White House press secretary or whether it will resume its traditional role as the Fourth Estate. I expect it to choose the latter – in which case the height of the Obama phenomenon will no doubt go down as Inauguration Day 2009. From then on the balance that has been lacking for the past two years should eventually return.

That will be cold comfort for Hillary and Sarah. And a true American hero like John McCain deserved better treatment at the hands of a bunch of snotty under-paid j-school graduates.

UPDATE: Michael Malone writes…

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I’ve begun—for the first time in my adult life—to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was “a writer,” because I couldn’t bring myself to admit to a stranger that I’m a journalist.

Jonathan Last writes:

There are questions about Obama’s governing style, too. On the stump, he says he wants a more transparent government. His campaign has introduced a host of proposals to promote transparency.

Yet the campaign has sent threatening letters to radio and TV stations in an attempt to bully them out of running anti-Obama ads. It has asked that friends and former classmates not speak to reporters. And it has organized supporters to bombard media outlets hosting unfriendly viewpoints.

So is Obama an idealist or a traditional hardball pol? When he ran for the Illinois state Senate, his insistence on flawless petitions got all three of his opponents removed from the ballot. Yet, recent reports say 30 percent of the 1.3 million new-voter registrations gathered by the liberal organization ACORN - which are likely to favor Obama – were fraudulent. No word on whether he finds this troubling.

Perhaps showing my long-standing bias towards the Left, I’ve always expected an American demogogue to appear from the Right. I never anticipated that America would spawn it’s own Hugo Chavez on the Left.

McCain’s Bad Luck

At least one MSM writer gets it. Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jonathan Last recognizes that McCain has suffered some of the worst luck a presidential candidate can suffer.

Furthermore, with one exception (Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel), no Republican in Congress had been more critical of President Bush’s administration than McCain. He was the only Republican to seriously oppose Bush in 2000, and the two had never been personally close.

And yet the Obama campaign, with some success, has depicted McCain as Bush’s heir. And it wasn’t just Bush who was being hung around McCain’s neck. In September, the Obama campaign ran ads tying McCain to Rush Limbaugh.

Limbaugh, of course, detests McCain, having said during the primaries that he would vote for Obama or Hillary Clinton before casting a ballot for the Arizona senator. McCain had always worn this scorn as a badge of honor. But now he was getting it coming and going.


Had Wall Street not melted down over the past month, or had some foreign policy crisis arisen, McCain would have surged even with the majority of the mainstream media working against him. But economic trouble traditionally leads to Democrat surges – unless the Democrats are in power in which case, like Jimmy Carter in 1980, the Republicans benefit.

John McCain deserves better than this. If anyone deserves blame for the failure of John McCain to achieve the presidency, it’s the Bushes. McCain’s best shot was in 2000, and had he survived the Super Tuesday hit by the Bushes, I believe that he would have handled things much better than the ultimate winner, George W. Bush.

But we will never know.

Freddie and Fannie Meltdown

Who was right? John McCain.
Speaking May 25, 2006:

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

Who was wrong? Barack Obama – who pocketed $126,349 in contributions from the two, second only to Democrat Christopher Dodd. The bill never made it out of committee thanks to Dodd – who headed it while receiving favorable mortgage terms from Countrywide.

Will the Democrats be filleted by the Mainstream Media for their ties to “Big Mortgage” the same way the Republicans have been tarred by the epithet “Big Oil?” I’m not holding my breath.

Dems Proving the GOP is really…

...the Grand Ol’ Party. Republicans, for all the faults of their party, tend to be more laid back and willing to poke fun at themselves and their politicians – unlike the Democrats who have fallen into a cultish mentality when it comes to their candidate. Anyone is fair game to them, anyone except the Obamassiah himself.

This is a complete reversal from the 1980’s when the GOP was the party of Ed Meese’s anti-porn crusade. Of course even back then it was Al Gore’s wife Tipper that led the charge against explicit music lyrics.

I realized this once again when reading the Top 7 Myths, Lies and Untruths About Sarah Palin. Anyone who thinks that these are quotes from extremist websites should consider that my 87 year old mother, who only touches a computer to dust around it, told me on Labor Day that she had heard the first two. Unfortunately she believed them.

And that was before I had even heard them.

What made me realize that the Democratic Party was Victorian and conservative was this pic, showing a photoshopped Sarah Palin on the head of another woman.

Palin Photoshop Bikini

Now consider for a moment that someone decided to take a picture of a very attractive woman, Sarah Palin, and put it on a woman with a hot body wearing an American flag-themed bikini and holding a sniper rifle.

What is the purpose of this photograph? The purpose of the photograph is to make Gov. Palin look unfit to be Vice President and by virtue of the title, unfit for the Oval Office. Obviously she’s a sexy, gun-loving patriot.  But what does the selection of the photograph show about the person behind the fakery?

1. Women can’t be in power and sexy at the same time. Imagine Hillary in a bikini or even worse, Diane Feinstein. Want to scrape your mind out with an ice cream scoop now? Yeah, me too.
2. Guns are bad, and anyone who likes them is a crazed lunatic. Michael Moore proved this in his documentary Bowling for Colombine. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold didn’t kill 13 people at Colombine: 150 million American law-abiding gun owners did.
3. Patriotism is bad, especially when that patriotism appears backed by a gun. True patriots dissent and hate America – like Michelle Obama and Noam Chomsky.
4. The woman in the picture that the faker wants us to believe is Sarah Palin hangs out with smokers, and we all know that smokers are the lowest form of life; also that second-hand smoke may be why her daughter Bristol’s baby was born with Down Syndrome.

Hear that sound? That shuffling sound you hear is all the tin-foil crowd moving over to the Left. Good riddance! They were messing up my wifi signals anyway.

As the social conservative wing of the party weakens, the pro-freedom, libertarian-leaning wing of the party is in the ascendancy, making the party more humane and dare I say it, fun. For the sake of the country and the party I hope the trend continues. Although I don’t drink myself and am 100% monogamous, I’m all for Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy! in America. And no more fireworks bans either!

Palin Hits Her Mark

Tonight was the first time I’ve ever heard her, and she definitely hit the mark. The MSM seems to agree for what it’s worth. Lots of charm and wit as well as delicious soundbites:


The presidential campaign is not a journey of self-discovery.

One man (Obama) uses Change to promote his career. Another man (McCain) has used his Career to promote change.


Overall the speech proved that she’s McCain’s VP and given the excitement of the Republican audience, she’s going to stay McCain’s VP.

My Feelings on Gov. Palin’s Daughter Bristol

If she were a lesbian having the baby or straight and having an abortion the Democrats would be jealous that Gov. Sarah Palin wasn’t a Democrat and their VP.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds suggests that they could have kept the issue out of the press by leaking that John Edwards was the father.

McCain’s VP Gov. Sarah Palin

I’m thrilled over McCain’s choice for his second-in-command. Gov. Palin has an impressive record that’s brief  but shows sound judgment as an executive – unlike the Obamassiah who lacks any sort of executive experience unless one considers ordering arugula over iceberg an executive decision (/snark).

This bit of her bio really hit me hard:
Source: Newsbusters 5/20/2008

Over a month ago, her office announced that the 44-year-old and her husband, Todd, were expecting their fifth child in May. It was a secret the beguiling brunette, a runner, managed to keep from even her staff.

Then, April 18, she surprised us again by giving birth a month early to Trig Palin, 6 pounds, 2 ounces. In true Sarah fashion, her amniotic fluid leaked in Texas, she gave a speech at a Republican Governors Association convention as scheduled anyway, and then returned to Alaska to deliver.

Immediately the family made this announcement: “Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives.”

Trig Palin has Down syndrome. Early prenatal testing alerted the Palins to this chromosomal abnormality, as it is alerting more and more families in the early stages of pregnancy.

Unfortunately, because of early screening, more children with Down syndrome are aborted and fewer and fewer are being born.

Children with Down syndrome do bring “unspeakable joy” into this world. I know the laughter and blessings my 5-year-old nephew, Ethan, with Down syndrome, has brought to our family. But how do you explain this joy to a perfection-at-any-price world?

Politicians rarely help. How many politicians are ever called upon to really walk the walk in their lives?

....Palin, a politician who has been eloquent in her defense of life before birth, has now proven with her own life how much she truly “walks the walk.”

Thank you, Sarah, for a beautiful witness given to us through a little one whose Norse name, Trig, means “brave victory.”


When I was 8 years old one of my sister’s had a daughter with Down Syndrome. My niece Teri was special, and for every moment of her five years on this earth she taught me that Love can transcend disability, and that anyone who considered people with Down’s as less-than-human or somehow “broken” really doesn’t realize that sometimes perfection can be found in imperfect vessels. Her death from a congenital heart defect that is all-too common in Down’s kids, three years after my father’s passing actually hurt me harder than the loss of my dad. Nearly 30 years on I miss her in ways that remain indescribable; all I can say is that in my heart she is free, loving and full of joy.

My sister, whom I’m no longer close with, went on to have another Down’s kid, a boy who went on to survive the very surgery that his elder sister died from. While he is as different from Teri as he is from anyone else, he too has proved to be a blessing to his family.

Just over 12 years ago the Wife and I had amniocentesis done on our pregnancy, mainly because she was a bit on the old side baby-wise. Before we had it done we decided that if Down’s showed up, we would still care for the child. Our boy was born five months later healthy; unfortunately for Gov. Palin, her child was not.

But she had the baby and cares for him anyway.

I doubt the Obama-eyed media will truly appreciate the fortitude and courage Gov. Palin displayed with her decision to give birth to her son Trig, but those of us who aren’t as enthusiastic of the One see Gov. Palin’s experience as proof as to why she’s the better candidate for the office than either Obama or Biden. Sen. McCain shows with his choice of Gov. Palin that he’s not afraid to push the envelope with his pic; Romney or Huckabee would have been easy, “safe” picks but instead he made an excellent executive decision, proving yet again why he deserves to become the next president.

Palin showed character with her decision, as did McCain with his. When it comes to character, neither Obama nor Biden are in the same league as McCain and Palin.

I am proud to be an American today. I am proud of my membership in the Republican party.

Now let’s go and win!

A Red Man in a Blue Family

I just returned back from a trip to St. Louis where I visited a few members of my family. Over the past few decades my family has been moving southward away from the city, but while their location has shifted, their politics for the most part haven’t. They remain Democrats, so it was interesting to hear how they viewed the current election.

My sister’s husband is a former Lutheran minister and a pacifist, so it should be no surprise that he is a devout Obama supporter. While he was around I tended to keep my politics to myself because honestly, I think it’s rude to argue politics with one’s host.

My sister was not as dogmatic. She had been a strong Hillary supporter who now supports Obama. ButI got the impression that this was not based on any of his positions, or even the fact that he had won the primaries: I think she supported him because she loved her husband and knew that her husband really liked Obama.

My 87 year old mother has been living with them. Although her body is gradually failing her mind remains as sharp as ever. Like my sister she too supported Hillary, but her support for Obama was much more tepid than my sister’s. She had worked on both the Kennedy campaigns in the 1960s – an impressive feat considering the size of the family she had to take care of – and supported Obama more so out of party loyalty than anything.

During my stay with them my oldest sister stopped by. Her husband had suffered a stroke four years ago that has left him mostly paralyzed and with extreme difficulty communicating. On top of that she was supporting one of her daughters and her two grandchildren while she divorces her alcoholic husband. Her life has become brutal, but you wouldn’t know it because she handles it with grace and without complaint.

While my other sister’s husband was out of the room, she was extremely discouraged by Obama’s candidacy. I asked her what bothered her about it. “He doesn’t stand for anything,” she said. “He changes his positions whenever it’s convenient.” She also mentioned his lack of experience and “that when he speaks he sounds like he’s talking down to you – like he’s not one of the people.” I asked her about McCain. “He scares me,” she said. “And he’s old, although I’m just about as old as he is,” she added in an afterthought. Big Sister is 67; McCain is 72, but she readily admits to supporting him in 2000.

On the issues health care is highest on all their lists. My mother and oldest sister have all butted heads with HMO and insurance bureaucracy over the past couple of years; they also have significant ongoing medical expenses. My younger sister is more concerned about the economy and the difficulty her boys – ranging in age from 20 to 26 – have had finding decent jobs. But to be fair only one of the three has recently decided on a career path, so I’m not sure how much of her concern is due to perception of the economy and how much is based on reality. Her husband is very concerned about the deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq and opposes both, but he’s also worried about the state of health care in our country and it turns out that there’s very little daylight between our positions on it and a few other social issues like gay marriage.

The price of gasoline matters a lot to all of them – especially the husband who commutes over 60 miles each day. All four voiced their support of increased domestic oil exploration, and the husband and I had a lengthy discussion about solar power which we both support. No one mentioned Global Warming during my five-day stay. Sorry, Al Gore…

My oldest sister is worried about what would happen if Democrats controlled the White House and Congress. “I don’t know why people complain about ‘divided government’,” she said. “It keeps both parties in check.”

I had gone to St. Louis knowing that the household was pro-Hillary but expected to find it just as pro-Obama now that Hillary had lost her party’s candidacy. My impression is that if the election were held today, three of the four would vote for Obama (my oldest sister being the wildcard; she mentioned the possibility of writing in Hillary). I was surprised at how lukewarm his support turned out to be, but in retrospect I suppose it shouldn’t.

My family is solidly middle class. Oldest sister’s husband was a Vietnam war veteran and a lifelong union electrician. Their son has followed in his father’s footsteps (sans the military service) and become a union electrician. Their daughter has her teaching certificate but due to her circumstances has to work at Target while her soon-to-be ex-husband sits at home unemployed and drinks away his family and his career as a research chemist.

The other sister is an elementary school teacher and her husband is an accountant. Their children all have (or will have) college degrees – but they question their value since most of their children haven’t used them yet. Both are religious but disagree with the literal interpretation of the Bible that one of their children espouses – having left his Catholic faith and become Baptist (by the way, this kid supports McCain and has started on his career doing video and flash for the web – the visit was full of surprises).

My mother is a child of the Depression and probably only voted for a Republican once in her life (Gene McNary – who was her county supervisor and later became head of INS under Clinton). She is a smart woman whom I credit for instilling a love of politics and world affairs. Her favorite politician of recent history was her representative Richard Gephardt, and given what I know about her I’d say that she is a “blue dog Democrat” just like he was.

Both sisters, the husband and our mother will vote in November. Missouri has become somewhat of a swing state. So what conclusions can I reasonably draw from this small, extremely biased, sample?

First Barack Obama’s appeal hasn’t excited the populist Democratic base anywhere near as much as it has the “limousine liberal” wing of the party. The populist wing was where Bill Clinton drew his support and consequently where Hillary drew hers. This presents a threat to Obama’s candidacy that isn’t appreciated by the Media or Obama’s advisors, but could explain why Obama isn’t further ahead in the polls than he is at this point in the race.

Second, Obama’s primary positions were aired much more during the struggle with Hillary than they would have been had the primary season gone easier for him. Publicizing these views during the primaries has limited his ability to move towards the center for the general election since any movement in that direction is perceived by the public as flip-flopping. This in turn has created the perception that Obama cannot be trusted and that he will throw Hillary’s supporters “under the bus” when the opportunity presents itself. It is clear to me that this is the source of my older sister’s distrust of him, and possibly my mother’s as well.

Third McCain has to present himself as a bipartisan candidate and emphasize his “maverick” credentials. What is perceived by the GOP establishment as McCain’s problem – his eagerness to buck the party line – would resonate well in my family in St. Louis. While Obama’s positions are well-known, they know much less about McCain’s and it is up to him to play down his Republican affiliation and promote himself as an independent. I’m not sure how much leeway his party can give him to do that, but to win in my family he has to show them who he really is.

So I conclude to win anyone’s vote in my family John McCain must run as John McCain. He has spent his entire career in public service taking positions that are unpopular within his own party, but my family doesn’t know that. What they know is that he’s a Republican, and to my 87 year old mother that’s a pejorative term.

Looking at the four members of my family, my sister’s husband will vote for Obama no matter what. Although I’ve portrayed her as a bit subservient to her husband, she’s far from it; politics just isn’t that important to her as it is to him so barring a major scandal I don’t see her switching from Obama. My oldest sister could be relatively easily convinced to vote for McCain if he promised a better solution to health care than the standard GOP party line. If he put out something good, something daring she’d swing over to him.

And my 87 year old mother? She’ll be a tougher nut to crack, but a decent health care program and reminders of McCain’s bipartisan record and he could move her to his column. Like I said, my mother is a smart lady who can smell BS a mile away. If McCain runs as McCain, she’ll vote for him.

These are good, hard working Americans that make up the heartland of our country. While I might disagree with their politics, I respect their opinions and am reminded that the “opposition” aren’t faceless robots but people within my own family – people whom I love and who amazingly enough love me back.

Will Barack Obama take their support for granted? Will John McCain win them over? I guess we’ll know in 3 months.

American Whining and the Culture of Dependency

The AP wire story “Americans’ unhappy birthday: ‘Too much wrong right now’” link appeared the day after Independence Day. The story uses an Optimist Club meeting to discuss the general feelings by Americans that their nation is “on the wrong track” and that “something must be done.”

... talk turns to the state of the Union, and the Optimists become decidedly bleak.

They use words such as “terrified,” “disgusted” and “scary” to describe what one calls “this mess” we Americans find ourselves in. Then comes the list of problems constituting the mess: a protracted war, $4-a-gallon gas, soaring food prices, uncertainty about jobs, an erratic stock market, a tougher housing market, and so on and so forth.

One member’s son is serving his second tour in Iraq. Another speaks of a daughter who’s lost her job in the mortgage industry and a son in construction whose salary was slashed. Still another mentions a friend who can barely afford gas.

Joanne Kontak, 60, an elementary school lunch aide inducted just this day as an Optimist, sums things up like this: “There’s just entirely too much wrong right now.”


Some things Americans should feel unhappy about. The skyrocketing cost of gasoline is a big part of the pessimistic mood gripping the country. Seeing the price blast into the stratosphere through $4 a gallon heading into $5 gives us the feeling of a linear progression. What will stop it from hitting $6, $7 or more? People feel helpless and believe that there is nothing they can do.

But a dose of reason is in order.

First the ministers of OPEC themselves have stated that there is a bubble in oil right now. Contrary to what many think, OPEC does not like bubbles because it recognizes that high prices bring new supply onto the market as oil is extracted from deposits that were considered unprofitable at $70/barrel. Add in the cut in demand brought by higher prices and a collapse in oil prices is inevitable. While bubbles irrationally overinflate prices, collapsed bubbles (“corrections”) inevitably overshoot the true value of commodities as producers flood the market with product in order to get the best price they can before the price declines more. This floods the market further, and coupled with decreased demand the effects of collapsed prices take a long time to clear.

There are several factors that play into this including the concept of “peak oil” and political meddling with markets – such as the Indian and Chinese government subsidizing of petroleum products and environmental opposition to drilling in ANWAR and use of oil derived from shale. “Peak oil” remains a controversial topic and the political meddling with markets inevitably breaks down from the high cost of subsidies and the political cost of keeping supplies off the market.

Like all bubbles – tulips in the 17th century, precious metals in 1980 and Internet stocks in 2000 – the oil bubble will pop. The key is to curb our tendency to demand that government “do something” since such meddling could only make the situation worse. Anyone who remembers the lines at filling stations during the Carter administration should be surprised at their lack during the Bush administration. The difference is due to the Carter’s meddling in the market with price controls, something that Bush – for all his real and imagined faults – has not instituted.
Contrary to what some politicians have said, there are no magic bullets that will help Americans with high fuel prices. Options include driving less, buying more fuel efficient vehicles including those with manual transmissions instead of automatics, and for those who heat their homes with oil, lower the thermostat. But these options take time to work, and they don’t elect politicians to office.

Rising home prices caused by the real estate bubble gave home owners a sense of wealth that encouraged indebtedness and excessive spending. Now that the bubble has collapsed, home owners are left with the bills at the same time they watch properties sell in their neighborhood for less. Those with adjustable mortgages are in their own private hell as they are squeezed between higher payments, declining values, and higher fuel costs. Those who can get some relief through refinancing; unfortunately for many in thjs difficult position bankruptcy is not an option anymore thanks to the bankruptcy “reforms” sponsored by Democrat senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper. The only option is to walk away from their homes, which eventually leads to more properties on the market, driving down real estate values in a self-reinforcing cycle.

For those that keep their homes there aren’t any easy solutions. Home values will continue to decline until the supply of homes is met by demand for them. In the meantime homeowners should pay down debt and save more so that they can leap at the buying opportunities that will come around once the real estate market has bottomed out.

“There are so many things you have to do to survive now,” says Larue Lawson of Forest Park, Ill. “It used to be just clothes on your back, food on the table and a roof over your head. Now, it’s everything.

“I wish it was just simpler.”

Lawson, mind you, is all of 16 years old.
...
Stay-at-home-mom Heather Hammack grapples with tough decisions daily about how to spend her family’s dwindling income in the face of rising food costs. One day, she priced strawberries at $1.75. The next day, they were $2.28.

“I could cry,” she responds when asked how things are.

“We used to have more money than we knew what to do with. Now, I have to decide: Do I pay the electric this week? Do I pay for gas? Do I get groceries?” says Hammack, 24, who lives with her boyfriend, a window installer, and their 5-year-old son in a rented home in rural Rowlesburg, W.Va. “You can’t get ahead. You can’t save money. You can’t buy a house. It just stinks.”


When you have a sixteen year old whining about how complex life is, or a 24 year old stay-at-home mom crying about a $.53 increase in the cost of strawberries, then it’s time to open up a can of some old fashioned Protestant work ethics and values.

First off, Ms. Hammack has bigger problems than $2.28 strawberries. Getting married would save some on taxes, but the best thing to improve her family’s situation would be for her boyfriend to get training to do a job that pays more than window installing. Another idea would be for them to leave the rental home for a cheaper apartment. How much space do three people need after all? There are existing job training programs for low income wage earners; her boyfriend needs to take advantage of them. I am an advocate of stay-at-home parents; maybe her boyfriend should be the one taking care of her child at home if Heather Hammack can earn more than he can on the current job market. Regardless, it’s not the federal government’s job to improve their lot in life – it’s theirs! As for the sixteen year old, what perspective can he possibly offer on our current economic situation?

I’ll be honest and state that I am earning the same wage today that I was eight years ago. Am I angry at the government for that fact? No. During those years I invested time and money in building up my Wife’s career. She’s now in her last year of residency and poised to double our family income.

This is not the result of a government program to improve our lives; it was a conscious decision we made 10 years ago. Like any investment it was fraught with risk: What if the Wife doesn’t pass the MCAT? What if the Wife doesn’t get accepted into med school? What if the Wife can’t find a residency program that wants her? What if the value of the Wife’s specialty decreases while she’s in school and residency? And the biggest risk of all, what if we get divorced?

I switched careers five years ago because I viewed my old one as becoming technologically obsolete. Again there was considerable risk to doing this; developers in my specialty could do better as others left for greener pastures. Has it worked out? Aside from the importation of H-1b/L-1 labor that depresses my wages (an example of more government meddling in the labor market), whether it has or not is not the government’s fault. I made the choice.

Since the Bush administration was pilloried in 2005 for its slow response to Hurricane Katrina, some politicians including Barack Obama and leading Democrats like Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton have encouraged Americans to expect more from the federal government. This is taking the culture of dependence which saw Katrina victims waiting for help from the federal government instead of relying upon state and local governments and even themselves. The Democrats see such dependence as an avenue to power, a strategy that has been successful for them in large cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Now they want to take that patronage machine national, and turn the entire country into Chicago or Philadelphia.

Republicans are not spared blame for this malaise. Instead of extolling the benefits of free trade, lower taxes and smaller government, they expanded government entitlement programs during an economic boom fueled by trade while ignoring the pleas for lower taxes and responsible government from the Republican base. They became RINOs – Republican in Name Only. By doing so they allowed Democrats to portray the party as out of touch and corrupt – the very criticisms that the party’s base was leveling at the party leadership. As a consequence Democrats are on the attack using empty words like “hope” and “change” and the GOP plays the Democrats’ game by reacting to the statements instead of attacking the Democrats with their own rhetoric. “Change? You’re going to need it to pay your taxes when the Democrats win in November.” “Hope doesn’t stop al-Qaeda from slamming aircraft into skyscrapers.” But Republicans are in disarray and many in the base are waiting for the clobbering in November to return the party to its roots.

Democratic politicians do not know anything except the culture of dependence and entitlement. It is the culture they learn in the corrupt political machines of the cities, and from the agricultural subsidies they feed Agribusiness in the Midwest. They peddle a poison that paralyzes its victims and saps them of their humanity, turning them into slaves beholden to their masters that feed and clothe them. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” has become “What will my country do for me?”

The solution is not more government but less. It is the solution that ended the economic malaise of the Carter administration. Less government was the mantle worn by Ronald Reagan when he took office in 1981, and it remains the solution a generation later when Reagan’s old foes from the Carter administration are poised to retake the presidency under Obama.

Americans must counter the rhetoric of more government with a demand for personal responsibility. It is not the government’s job to make you happy; it’s job is to create the conditions that allow you to pursue happiness. Americans have forgotten this, and there is no Reagan around to remind them.

Being Free isn’t easy. With freedom comes responsibility, and Americans don’t seem to bear the latter very well. Weathering the financial storm that lays ahead with the continued collapse of the real estate and stock markets as well as the rising cost of energy and food will be tough. However electing politicians who promise “change” and “hope” will only place people in power with prior experience at really screwing the economy up. The price of energy will come down; home prices will stabilize if only Americans take responsibility of their own situations and not expect the federal government to fix it.

But will we?

Stupid Democrat Tricks

I came out of work this evening and found that someone had written the word “sucks” in permanent marker over my McCain bumper sticker. Since I’m a Red man living in a Blue state, I doubt it was a frustrated evangelical; it had to be a Democrat. After all, they aren’t known for their respect of private property.

I drove home, pulled out a can of acetone and a paper towel, and wiped the not-so-permanent-after-all marker off the sticker.

I fully expect this to not be the end of the matter. I already have a second McCain sticker in reserve and will order a third one as soon as the current one gets ripped off. Silly Democrat doesn’t realize that I don’t mind sending McCain’s campaign money; every sticker that he destroys only means more $$$ to McCain.

Republican Angst

There’s a lot of angst out there among Republicans. Many it seems are tired of being in power - in the few places they still have it like the Executive branch, and haven’t really gotten fired up to snatch it back from the Democrats in the places they’ve lost it – like most of the governorships and the Legislative branch. Some of the ideas that get the rank and file fired up – like gun rights – have been avoided like a political 3rd Rail by the Democrats. Other ideas like free trade and a strong defense have been taken for granted so long that they’ve lost their ability to fire up the base. Worst of all the issues that do fire up the rank and file – like lower taxes and smaller government – have been stomped on over the past 8 years by the Republican leadership and the Bush administration.

Republicans have a right to be questioning their leaders and the status quo right now; the Party has failed them. The question becomes: will this failure kill their chances in November?

6 months is an eternity in politics, and the real fight between the two parties hasn’t even started. It remains to be seen whether the Republicans will continue to lose their stomach for a fight while the Democrats begin to seriously wail on them this Summer, and especially after Labor Day. We’ll get a good sense by then whether they have, or if the Democrats have forced them to get off their asses and fight back.