Friday, September 12, 2008

About Gibson's Palin Interview and "The Bush Doctrine"

A friend posted Don't Poke the Bear? at his Blog, rekative to Charles Gibson's interview of Sara Palin and specifically about his question about "The Bush Doctrine." And I commented


"The Bush Doctrine" is no textbook or dictionary certified term. It's how some popular culture commentators referred to Bush's explanation in the wake of 9/11 that he will act proactively if he perceiv3es a threat in another country. Some threw into that bag Bush's assertion that states that harbor terrorists or terrorist activity will be guilty and accoountable. But, there is no official definition.

I thought of the preemptive strike assertion, but I am a freak who watches this stuff full-time. I'm no longer even distracted by a career. With MS, I walk with a walker for a few hundred yards and haven't driven for a dozen years. I had stopped driving when I met you in Iowa in 1995.

For a definition to not have been on the tip of Palin's toungue is not a matter of any kind of illiteracy. Also, I am 51. Palin is 44, which means that she was a working mom in her 30's when Bush was explainibg himself.

All of this stuff about foreign policy experience, knowing world leaders and such is garbage. Joe Biden for instance, supposedly has decades of "foreign policy experience." So, he has decades of foreign policy experience being wrong. SO WHAT?

As I told a friend, what matters is character, sobriety, judgment, and an understanding of human nature. Anyone who has worked with human organizations, from businesses to civic groups to churches, is experienced with human nature. PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. They play with the same tactics. Some just play with bigger marbles.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Distressing Stories, The Polls, And A Typically Misleading TV Report

I completed the comments below on Monday, which related my distress at reports from people of whom I would expect differently, who affirm or even dabble with the intention to support Obama and/or oppose McCain. At the bottom, I report current national polls which show McCain having moved into a lead over Obama, while acknowledging that they still suggest a definite Obama lead from an Electoral College standpoint. Monday, even the Rasmussen poll which Sunday showed a tie in its daily tracking poll shows McCain to have nudged into a 1% lead, which they conceded is statistically insignificant. But more notably, in Rasmussen’s current Electoral College breakdown, McCain is shown to have moved within ten points of Obama. And further, with some awareness of the status of these states, I would conjecture that McCain will take at least two of the three states listed as toss-ups which would imply a narrow victory. In every analysis I have looked at, that third state is the most clearly and evenly divided and up-in-the-air: Virginia. I will say that relative to Virginia, Obama needs to maintain the emotional magic that has driven much of his support, because I think those emotionally stoked in Virginia about McCain-Palin will reliably turn out. Further, among the states listed as “leaning” Republican, I would at this point agree that McCain will win them all, while among those listed as “leaning” Democrat, I would consider 3 or 4 of them still in play. In short, for the first time (and this could still change with a dramatic event or report), I would project that McCain would win were the election held today.

But because it relates directly to what I have written below, I want to (briefly, I hope) discuss a typically misleading report that I saw on CNN, today. The report listed the supposed benefit that taxpayers could expect to see under McCain's and Obama’s respective tax plans, listed by income level. Unsurprisingly, the figures showed those in the lowest income group benefiting the most under Obama’s plan relative to McCain’s (never mind the fact that much of this group are not taxpayers at all)., while as the income level rises that benefit in raw dollars moves increasingly toward McCain’s plan. Now, this is neither new nor surprising in its suggestion that such reports represent an actual benefit to Americans. They don’t. Not because they don’t reflect projections about how different income-levels would be affected on a dollar basis. The problem is that it is entirely opaque about how different tax plans will affect what peoples’ income level WILL BE.

For example, perhaps someone in the second-to-lowest income level will fall into the category that supposedly most plainly benefits lower income people. Why is this? Because they may very well drop from the second-lowest to the lowest income level. Therefore, they would get the highest relative benefit BECAUSE THEIR INCOME DROPPED! When taxes on investors and commercial enterprises are increased, the revenue to income-distributing entities is restricted. When that income is insufficient, employess will either be dropped or new positions OR PROMOTIONS not created. This will apply in any manner of endeavor. If your work is construction, business will have fewer dollars to invest in new projects and contractors will have less work for construction workers. If you sell cosmetics in a department store, women will have fewer dollars with which to purchase cosmetics. If you work in a church, the members will have fewer dollars with which to build the church’s budget. And on and on and on…

One would like to think that those responsible for broadcasting such a report on CNN, for example, would not have given such consideration a thought., and most probably haven’t. But, however man y have (and surely some have), they are willfully participating in a misinformation of the public. Anywway, how your income is taxed is only a fragment of the relevant consideration of tax policy. Much more important is WHAT YOUR INCOME MIGHT BE!


My fellow Texan friend pondered the potential benefit to him of supporting Obama, though he disagrees with him on social issues about which he is not assured about McCain, anyway. Other friends reported other Christians who support Obama. Frankly its another discussion, but the thought makes my head swim. It is correct that if McCain does not safely win Texas, he is toast in the rest of the country. But, your discussion heaped on one I had this afternoon of reports of other very evangelical people seemingly hypnotized by Obama, leaves me rather disturbed and disconsolate, not because of Texas but because that sort of thinking around the country could actually elect this man who is either a huckster or UTTERLY deluded.

Be certain to understand: I know you have legitimate issues to consider and others do as well. But, the belief that Obama or anyone else can repair their concerns is a short-sighted delusion of people who are not considering how human nature operates in a society.

First of all, it isn't strong enough to say that I don't BELIEVE that that Obama's plan is going to put more dollars in pockets. I KNOW that that's pure horsepucky. If he has only a cosseted Ivy League education to work with, maybe he's in fantasyland. But frankly, I incline to believe that politicians of his sort are primarily interested in manipulating others to aggrandize themselves. As Sarah Palin put it, “some men use change to advance their careers, while other men use their careers to advance change.”

I know that you can look at me and believe me. I haven’t the least interest in helping rich men who don’t need my help. But, the idea that you can take from the richest and help “95% of taxpayers” in Obama’s case is complete fancy that is worthy of a traveling medicine show. A rich man is rich: you can take half his income and he is still rich. He won’t miss a thing. When all of the wealthiest men in a large country like ours have more or less money it only means that there is more or less to spend or invest, either of which activities create work and income for people who are not so rich. Work doesn’t come from nowhere. If resources aren’t investyed into new projects, there is no work.

Be sure to understand what socialism is: it isn’t just taxing “the rich” to help everyone else. Oh, no! Socialism is an alliance between government and large established businesses. While scamming the people with taxes on big companies with one hand, they reward them with the other with subsides and/or regulation of markets to restrict or eliminate their competition. A corporation will happily shell out a few billion in taxes in order to more effectively dominate their market: better to pay higher taxes on much more market share than lower taxes on a smaller percentage of the market. The long-term effect of this is to retard innovation and technological progress. But, it’s a good run while it lasts: business and government leaders tip toasts on the same parties and trips.

Ultimately, that’s why communism failed. As Marx said, “From each according to his ability. To each according to his need.” Sounds great doesn’t it? Millions and millions of working class peons around the world thought so. But, the subsidized poor remained poor while government leaders and their business benefactors coasted. But over time, the lack of advancement couldn’t keep pace with progress around the world in less socialist places.

But, this also explains why Obama can boast of taxing big corporations and specifically vilify oil companies with one hand while on the other hand voting with the rest of the government opportunists to grant oil companies large corporate welfare subsidies. John McCain by the way, as in so many other cases, voted against this. Sarah Palin in Alaska let oil companies pursue larger profits while taxing them to fund Alaska according to their increased profitability: You make it profitable for them to earn another dollar while paying another penny to the state. But you never make it unprofitable for them to invest another dollar, in which case no one would get anything. Anyway, if Obama is elected with a Democratic Congress they will squeeze the vitality out of the economy. Prices will rise. Interest rates will rise. Unemployment will rise. Opportunity will dwindle. AND, they will blame it on Republicans: “Bush left even a bigger mess than we thought.” Why not? People bought the other stuff.

By the way, you say “I do disagree with Obama on social issues, at least, on the ones that get talked about the most. But having been frustrated by the almost casual lack of attention paid to them during the Bush administration, after anticipating action…” I never anticipated anything. Bush’s statements alone were so soggy and limp that I knew he either could not or would not (or both) inspire any change in the culture. As I’ve said before, Bush’s pathetic statement, “I prefer life,” was a flashing red sign that he had nothing productive to say. As I’ve often said, “I prefer chocolate.” SO WHAT?!

As I also have often said, when Bush was elected in 2000 I said, “Leviathan gets a night manager.” And, it did exactly that. With Bush and a Republican Congress, federal spending increased at a rate not seen since Johnson in the 60’s. The federal education department (neither a federal responsibility or capacity) increase hugely. Entitlement liability and spending increased as it hadn’t since Johnson too, and in a way that Al Gore could never have achieved with a Republican Congress, which went to Disneyland with Bush. By the way, McCain voted against those things, too. I’m not mad at Bush, and I appreciate his foreign policy resolve (if not always his method) in the face of fierce pop-culture headwinds. But, I never voted for him and wouldn’t still.

Irrespective of all of this; even if I believed that Obama could do the magic that his words and lackeys suggest, I would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, support a man who voted at ever opportunity for as far a “pro-choice” (of what, again?) position as one could take. He voted against a partial-birth abortion ban, which I in fact never advocated. A) I don’t believe it saves a single life. Men who do that for a living aren’t going to be concerned about a little law. But b) the even verbal restriction of one abortion procedure implies the legitimacy of all of the others. But, Obama also voted alone and TWICE in the Illinois state Senate, against a bill to protect infants born alive after botched abortions from being left to die. No type or no amount of candy, even if I believed in it which I don’t, could bring me to vote for such an empty soul.

Particularly in his late years, I think McCain is sincere in his anti-abortion posture. By the way, if Obama appoints 2 to 4 Supreme Court justices, that extends a calamitous court and society through the rest of our lives. Do you really doubt that Palin is serious? I know she is. I want her there in line. Anyway, all of that Christian dalliance with Obama left me in a state. I said it might give me nightmares at night. I might curl up in fetal position with my thumb in my mouth. At least, some polls out today show McCain-Palin having moved into a lead, even though electoral maps still decidedly favor Obama.

Friday, September 5, 2008

McCain-Palin And What Conservatism Means

A friend who was a fellow Huckabee supporter left a few comments about McCain and Palin. The first few raised questions about McCain playing more to the right, so as to lose the Independent and conservative Democrat support he once enjoyed, and also questioning Palin’s record on “values” issues. I have heard these sorts of remarks before, usually from the Democratic left. Actually, though sometimes I wish he would and still hope he will, McCain has not recanted on any of his supposedly moderate positions that defy conservative orthodoxy, save for offshore drilling, and I doubt the doubling of gas prices is incidental to that. He has always expressed a pro-life disposition. He has always been one of the biggest spending hawks in The Senate, even confronting his own party and if Republicans retook Congress, I don’t think that would stop. And, he has NEVER supported a tax-increase. Some report his support for continuing the “Bush” tax-cuts, since he originally voted against them. As he often explains, he voted against the tax cuts because despite his warnings, they were not offset with spending cuts.

Anyone who really starkly regards his support for continuing a lowered tax rates, as a turnabout from his insistence on spending cuts at the beginning, has a very unrefined view of economics, as most Democrats do, assuming they are sincere. At bottom, economic principles and incentives are about human nature. Taxes and spending should both be cut, but to discontinue a tax reduction is to support what will be a tax increase and the related reactions of human nature. Evidence of the psychological component of human nature is that Bull Clinton increased tax increases while pursuing free trade and other reforms that managed to maintain the positive outlook and healthy economy that many conservatives would have expected to be injured.

I have also seen questions from the left about Palin having cut ostensibly good (when they are passed, aren’t they all?) But, a seemingly worthy objective f a program is no guard whatsoever against wasteful and inefficient consumption of resources. For a large example, any true student of The Constitution understands that national defense is a primary responsibility of the federal government. Yet anyone over forty who has paid attention recalls stories of outlandish expenses on defense department items. John McCain was a third-generation member of the military in his family (his sons are a 4th generation) and a defense hawk. Yet he has opposed unnecessarily extravagant defense spending. Many decades ago, General Eisenhower who saw the Word War ii victory, warned against the growth and appetite of the “military-industrial complex.”

Whether an ostensive objective is worthwhile or not, we are after all, talking about federal government bureaucracies, about which conservatives are rightly guarded. Coming from a social conservative, these expressed concerns sound like an expression of the reported expanded agenda of social conservatives these days. We can debate which interest the federal government should pursue and how those interests might be effectively addressed. But, it’s never wise to be unwatchful of ANY government program. And, to fall into the popular culture measure of concern and expression for a nominal cause based on the number or percentage of dollars spent is a critical mistake, Based on what I’ve seen, I’m more inclined to see Palin having worked to squeeze waste of taxpayers’ dollars, wherever possible, the ostensive cause notwithstanding. I’m sorry, but to ascribe indifference to an individual based on prudence in investments is a misguided and crude way to view things, however popular it may be.

A third comment more directly raised a feeling of discomfort with Sarah Palin. In fact, I saw a very positive report today, from one polling organization. But regardless, here’s the comment and response:

“Weren't you just a bit disturbed by Palin's speech last night, and the almost total lack of addressing issues? Obama listed the issues out, cited facts that pointed to the problem, and offered a solution to each one. Palin resorted to attacks, defensiveness, and left me wondering if she even believes there are problems with the economy, or the war, or if she lives in the same world we do. I was disappointed, not only with the content, but with the resorting to attacks, which is almost an admission that you don't have anything to talk about.”

I certainly wouldn't describe myself as "disturbed" about Sarah Palin's speech. Although, I would have been happy if she could have made persuasive points while perhaps being a tad less "tart." But, generally, I am very taken with her.

I'd like to clarify what you are thinking, and let me clarify myself.

A visceral reaction might wonder if you only differ with Obama on social issues, as of course do I. But, I want to be clear about on what things I agree with Obama. Interpret rhetoric how you will. But, in terms of policy I agree with Obama on precisely NOTHING.

I frequently have to engage accusations or insinuations that I am a "one issue voter," because I think the respect and protection of human life is a primary value of a civil society. It isn’t ONLY about dead babies, which historically God has always dealt with. But, a society that behaves with disregard for this primary value is infected with a "Sickness unto Death," as Kierkegaard described the more general human existential condition. Civility is driving on cruise control on the path to social destruction: conscience is in a decline that will be manifest in myriad expressions of social conduct.

But because I see abortion as an extreme and paradigmatic expression of social illness, does not mean that I am a "one issue voter." As I have repeatedly explained, I have been conservative as long as I have been conscious. Politics does not matter to me ONLY because abortion offends me. You are my age: I did not just come to conservatism because of Roe v. Wade and the social activism that was injected into the Reagan campaign.

People talk about social, economic, and defense conservatives. I was conservative before "social" conservatism existed. At bottom, it has to do with my convictions about human nature and practical treatment of it.

NOW, a popular caricature of conservatism is that it implies hostility or indifference to other human beings. Also given human nature, there naturally ARE people like that. But, that has NOTHING to do with conservative philosophy. That's why I felt so strongly about Huckabee: he emphatically expressed the opposite idea, while at the same time acknowledging those elements of human nature that made him become a Republican in the first place.

More specifically, if I believed that the prescriptions advocated by the left would actually help people, I would favor them. But, it isn't adequate to say that I don't believe that. I KNOW that the underlying propositions are false and the programs themselves are not only unhelpful, they are destructive. AND, THEY ARE MOST DESTRUCTIVE TO THE PEOPLE THEY PRESUME TO HELP!

On one end, they dampen the initiative for improving one's own life circumstance. On the other end, they constrict opportunity in the society in general. It's a double-whammy. This imperishable idea that we are going to help those without by taxing those with is, to use a more innocuous word, twaddle. You will never punish successful people by taxing them 5, 10, or even 50 percent more. The very wealthy will not miss one glass of wine, one luxury car, or one world-traveling vacation. No, what dies is the money that is invested into the economy that opens new opportunities for those less fortunate. Envy is not good for the soul OR FOR THE BODY! The world was created that way.

So, it doesn't matter what Obama lists or talks about or advocates. NONE OF IT WILL HELP! I don't know the man, personally, so I can't and should say what he thinks. But logically, I can say that if he believes what he says, he has breathed deeply of an academic unreality: it's foolishness. And obviously, if he DOESN'T believe what he's saying, he is a fraud and a manipulator: a charlatan.

Honestly, I still wish Huckabee were the nominee and HE had picked Palin. But, John McCain is not without compassion. His is just not as meticulous a mind. However, in the executive branch for the next four years, McCain-Palin may go farthest in undermining extravagance and corruption in Washington. We need to abandon the misguided impulses and construct new and positive ones.

I was also glad that Romney was not selected. In his latest incarnation, he plays that caricature of the aggravated conservative. We need a positive conservative like Huckabee. If Palin isn't already, I think with age she can become that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Come To McCain and a REAL CHANGE

As I recall, the last time I wished to post an exchange, this person preferred not to be identified and I haven’t a last name, anyway. Anyway, I thought this discussion with a heretofore McCain doubter was important. Many should consider what is at stake. And ironically, what is at stake is CHANGE. Here is the comment and my response:

Well, I guess I should humble myself and admit that I have come around from being strongly suspicious of McCain's judgment, fearing that he would be a Bush clone and being a puppet of bad counsel, to being impressed at his independent and brilliant choice for a VP. I agree that while experience, particularly executive experience, is a factor, when it comes to some things (particularly foreign policy), what matters most is worldview and judgment--which is why I applaud McCain's choice of Palin.

I have questioned McCain's judgment, often. Having looked long and hard at the matter, my conclusion has been this:

It is the disposition of many people myself included, to adjudicate questions of policy theough the filter of a system of beliefs about human nature and its ordinary propensities. I don't think that's the way John McCain primarily operates.

Some time ago, I began to distinguish between "philosophical" conservatives of the sort I speak, and "sentimental" conservatives who honestly and with good intentions, react based on their genuine feelings about what is best, in this case for the country.

So, what would happen is that John McCain would sentimentally support a policy that sounds right to him, that some of us philosophically will in fact be de4structive. The McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform bill is just one, but a perfect example.

Though I might disagree with the conclusion, I should understand that John McCain has operated for a few decades in a Congress where he has watched influence and policy be bought and sold. That is called "corruption." And McCain rightly perceived that this is a terrible thing. However, I philosophically identify that the actual effect of government regulation of free speech and behavior has ominous implications for the Democratic system as a whole.

So, what we have is a correct diagnosis of a problem with a mistaken prescription for a cure. Like a doctor might accurately diagnose a cold and prescribe an ineffective or corrosive medication for the very real pathological condition.

Here's the good news. I believe McCain's sentiments about helping and defending the country are genuine. And for example, his experience informs him that you can't wish away threats to security or humanity. He will be a resolute defender of American interests and security and humane values in the world.

His sentiment is also pro-life and pro-Constitution. In all cases, including the selection of judicial candidates, he will add noble sentiment to the counsel of noble but more systematic thinkers.

He will find with Sarah Palin's counsel, that drilling for oil is in the interest of America's commercial and personal financial and security interests. AND, it does not pose an environmental threat to heretofore protected areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska: ANWR. It's in more than just the interest of oil corporations.

One other thing I must say, is that though I opposed McCain as strongly in 2000, I would not at all liken him to Bush. Besides the fact that McCain will be more assertive about life, he will be dramatically more assertive on the matter of excessive spending.

McCain's conservative sentiments include the convictions that government spending naturally inclines to waste and corruption. He will pay for what he believes is right and essential for the federal government, AND NO MORE. His record in opposing such extravagance is probably the most clear characteristic that his record shows in common with that of Sarah Palin.

You want to see CHANGE? This team may well lead the most dramatic change in the disposition of the American government that we have ever seen. If they are victorious and a residual Democratic majority is mainly and obstruction to reform, it will be a fine thing to run on in 2010 and 2012.

If Republicans regain Congress, McCain and/or Palin will lead the most dramatic reform that American government has ever seen. Ronald Reagan had to contend with a Democratic Senate for part and a Democratic House for all of his eight years. Despite of a doubling of revenues due to Reagan-driven tac-cuts, Congress never followed through on promised spending cuts, in fact tripling spending over his term.

The sentimentally noble McCain may introduce a dramatic change in American government: And a philosophical child shall lead them.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Experience Schmexperience!

It was predictable that the other side would try to light on the “experience” issue relative to Governor Sarah Palin, which they’ve reliably done. And frankly, for that reason, I expected her inevitable time was “not yet.” I was wrong about that, but am elated about the choice. I’ve known for a year that she was a positive force and as I’ve learned and seen more of her, she looks progressively better, now seemingly every day: from good to great to inevitable and now to terrific and unprecedentedly promising for the nation.

As for the experience matter, as I said, I thought we’d leave this filet mignon on the grill for a little while longer. But as is now known, she has significant executive leadership experience: more than Obama, who has NONE. But, however one gauges the “experience” matter, I’ve been saying for many days that Republicans should not have been emphasizing the “experience” issue above the philosophical one. “Experience” is WAAAY overrated. Why do I care what supposed experience someone has if it is a long record of being wrong?

Based on this supposedly preeminent qualification of experience, suppose the Democrat ticket were what might then be called “right-side up,” with Joe Biden at the top who has more experience in elected office and national foreign policy than even John McCain. Would I then question whether Biden was better qualified than John McCain to be president? Of course not!

Don’t we all have personal contacts (lots in my case) that we think would be a more clear and resolute than the majority of politicians present and past, stained as most of term are by the calculations of politics? The bottom-line is that in fact, “experience” (whatever that is – you know some faces and names?) matters relatively little.

Sarah Palin has proven herself extremely qualified personally, practically, philosophically and as an assertive executive. Subsequent to McCain’s selection of her, I have gone from tentative and hopeful to inspired and enthused about the future. I have judged that McCain seems genuinely passionate and decent, while apparently philosophically ambiguous, and have often questioned his judgments. Whether we credit him or God, I judge that McCain could not made a more effective and productive selection. A potentially murky future now looks bright and promising.