Saturday, August 30, 2008
Despite the grousing of Democrats that selecting a female VP candidate will only enrage women who see it as a shallow sop to win their votes, if that's true, then the campaigns of Hillary and the Illinois rookie Senator are the same, in spades. Neither Senator is qualified to be President, and each ran on his/her own minority status.
But, back to McCain and Sarah Palin.
As a sitting governor, Palin already has way more experience with actual government and governing than the Illinois freshman. Obama's handlers' remarks that the choice of Palin "takes experience off the table" is totally wrong. And basically wishful thinking on the part of the Democrats, who are now scared stiff at the prospect of running against a female on the Republican Presidential ticket.
Palin is a conservative's dream- solidly right-wing, a hunter and fisher, possessing a family and husband. As well as a maverick, similar to McCain, in her own state.
Some friends have expressed to me their fears that Palin isn't ready to be President, while McCain has an above-average chance of not making it to the end of his first term.
Personally, I'd take any Republican governor over the Illinois rookie Senator, or Senator "Lying Joe" Biden. Neither of whom has had any experience running so much as a lemonade stand, or crafting anything resembling important legislation.
Further, as today's Wall Street Journal points out, Sarah Palin has actually effected real change. She shook up cozy, corrupt ties between old-boy Alaskan Republicans and oil industry donors.
If Americans want change from someone who's actually done it, rather than just talks about it, McCain with Sarah Palin on his team is a better place to begin than two Democratic windbags from the Senate, one of whom has spent decades doing nothing but lose Presidential primaries and be caught lying.
Finally, by choosing a sitting female Republican governor as his VP candidate, McCain shows that he's not some stodgy old white politician. He 'gets it.' He has introduced fresh, exciting talent into the GOP upper ranks, and shown Americans he is open-minded, creative and running to win.
The squawking of Democrats about how ineffectual and wrong a choice Palin is for McCain's VP is an indication of just how on-target and effective it actually is.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Is that a good thing? Probably not.
FDR had been a governor, but Truman was a sort of accidental Senator. Chosen by Boss Pendergast's Kansas City machine, Truman ultimately contributed to putting his old patron in prison. Now hailed as a great Democratic president, Truman wasn't accorded any accolades for a good fifteen years after leaving office.
Kennedy, Nixon and Johnson were all Senators, after being elected as Representatives to Congress. None was particularly competent with domestic issues, although Kennedy's tax cuts helped get the economy moving after the late-Eisenhower inflation.
Ford was only a Representative, and a short-timer, as Presidents go.
Carter, though a governor, was woefully inept and unprepared for national-level politics and government. As a recent Wall Street Journal editorial reminded us of a prior one, from the Clinton era,
'so we are once more introduced to an unknown Democratic governor.'
Carter....Dukakis.....Clinton. All lesser-known governors upon their nomination for presidential candidate in the Democratic party.
Reagan was, of course, a successful governor of California, and went on to be one of the country's greatest Presidents, defeating the Soviet Union and communism before leaving office.
George H. Bush was a US Representative and executive in numerous governmental agencies, as well as having had a successful private career in the oil industry.
His son, of course, defeated two Senators- Gore and Kerry- for the White House.
Of all the Presidents since FDR, I think it's safe to say that Johnson, Nixon and Kennedy either performed the worst, or had little impact, of any of the office holders.
Kennedy kicked off Vietnam, while Johnson mismanaged the war and the economy. Nixon, though a Republican, introduced the only wage and price controls the US has ever had outside of wartime.
Of the Senators, only Truman could be viewed as reasonably effective over the long term. His Four Point program defeated communism in Europe, while he aggressively fought communist aggression in Korea. But Truman was much less of a professional politician than the other three Senators who recently served as President.
Traditionally, in the modern era, Senators have largely been empty windbags with little or no prior managerial experience. Gore, Kerry, Obama, Biden and McCain are no exceptions.
Thus, no matter who wins, we shouldn't expect a great deal of competent domestic economic management. Rather, it's clearly more of a contest of values and principles.
McCain's are pretty clear. Obama has none.
But on the subject of competence in governing, sadly, Americans are almost certainly in for four years of its absence.
Romney, Giuliani, and perhaps even Richardson could have delivered this. But they were all, ultimately, unelectable.
Between the prospect of a spendthrift, runaway Democratically-controlled Congress and either of two administratively inexperienced Presidential candidates, the American voting public had better buckle their seatbelts for a rough economic four years.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
In the past weeks, I've seen a campaign ad for the rookie Senator for Illinois extolling how many 'green collar' or 'green energy' jobs he will personally be adding to the US economy.
If one is to believe the ad, a man who has never really worked in the private sector in his life is somehow going to magically know how to allocate resources to create vast numbers of new jobs for other Americans.
Funny, because I thought that, in America, entrepreneurs developed ideas for businesses, products and services. Those that were good ideas brought in more revenue than it cost to produce them, enjoyed growth, repaid the inventor's risk and capital, while frequently creating jobs for others.
The only time the US government directly tried to create jobs was through FDR's failed NRA. Time has dimmed the memories of humorous icons of men leaning on shovels to depict the WPA or PWA. But the overall effect was to simply pay Americans for low-value time spent on the government tab.
Contrast that with JFK's more astute approach to stoking US economic growth- the space program.
Kennedy didn't create an entire new industrial complex of government-run businesses. Instead, a few agencies, notably NASA, expanded from its predecessor, NACA, was authorized to secure bids for designing, producing and operating the equipment which would take US astronauts to the moon.
In the process, for example, companies such as Intel prospered through government contracts for small, powerful microprocessors. The microprocessor industry was born and thrived, kicking off an economic growth wave in southern California.
It's one thing for the Federal government to set an objective, allocate funds and spend them via the private sector to solve appropriate problems or produce solutions.
It's quite another for a bunch of windbag Senators, led by one of the most junior of their number, to brazenly announce they will form a wholly new agency, staffed, no doubt, with cronies and other non- and sub-performers who can't make it in the real economic world, to unilaterally choose which technologies and businesses merit investment by the government.
Will there be graft? Corruption? Revolving-door lobbying? "Consulting" by old friends to the new agency?
You can count on it.
Scandals? Of course. Plenty of them, after the freshman Senator is midway or more through his term. Or perhaps, more safely, after he's lost his second bid for office.
But when have civil service employees ever been able to outperform the private sector in selecting technologies, creating sustainable, value-generating businesses, or legitimate, long-lived jobs in our economy?
With that track record, why is anyone giving any credence to Obama's claim that, if elected, he'll direct a firehose of Federal dollars, through an agency he'll form, to magically create thousands of new jobs that smart, private-sector businesspeople couldn't conceive first?
If there were money in alternative-energy related businesses and jobs, you can bet some entrepreneur would be, or already is, doing it. The only thing Obama's idea will do, besides wasting out tax dollars on corruption and stupid ideas, is to squeeze out legitimate, existing private sector activity in the same areas. Much as FDR's ham-handed confiscation of the private power production business did when he created subsidized Federal power projects, thus starving the sector of private capital for decades.
There's a history of the sort of public works Obama has in mind, all right. And it is littered with waste, corruption and ineffectual use of American tax dollars.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Van Dyk provides a very entertaining and detailed account of the dynamics of 1968, wherein the Democratic party's lasting penchant for catering to fringe lunacy was born. He hilariously, but accurately, refers to the 1972 Democratic party platform as "acid, amnesty and abortion."
As Van Dyk explains, 1968 resulted in a splintered party,
"Since 1968, independent and on-the-fence voters have come to perceive that there are, in fact, two Democratic Parties represented by two kinds of candidates. There is the middle-income, middle-minded, socially more conservative, bread-and-butter Democratic Party. Then, there is the better-educated, higher-income, socially liberal Democratic Party. The candidates of these wings do not have their feet wholly in one camp or another. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton campaigned successfully as undefined populists, and benefited from weak Republican opposition. But as a rule, Democratic presidential candidates have not since 1968 been able to restore the party that was broken that year. Lyndon Johnson, in 1964, was the last Democratic presidential candidate to gain a national majority of white voters."
With that prologue, Van Dyk continues,
"Will Mr. Obama, at the upcoming Democratic convention in Denver, be able to bring Reagan Democrats finally home? I am not counting on it. His Republican opponent, John McCain, has a maverick reputation and an appeal to Reagan Democrats that Mr. Obama will find difficult to match. The Democratic Party platform is still filled with the single-issue, single-interest and social-issue planks that have plagued it since 1972.
The classic winning coalition for Democrats is the 1960 John F. Kennedy coalition which included Catholics, Jews and Protestants, whites, African-Americans and Latinos, both better- and less-educated voters, labor-union members and academics. The 1960 Kennedy platform -- built around a strong national defense, assertive foreign policy, economic growth and social justice at home -- is still the platform most likely to attract Democratic voters of all outlooks, as well as independents. JFK's promise to "get America moving again" is what Americans are looking for in 2008.
Will Mr. Obama grasp that platform, broaden his appeal, and capitalize on Republican weakness to win a broad mandate to govern? Or will he allow himself to be typed as a black Adlai Stevenson or Eugene McCarthy, articulate but snooty, and out of touch with ordinary folk? The Denver convention offers him the chance to break out, show himself as relating to all his party's factions, and restore what has been damaged since 40 years ago in Chicago."
Van Dyk's analysis is incredibly lucid, insightful, and compelling. I believe it 100%.
The one thing about which I disagree with Van Dyk is that the Illnois rookie Senator can "grasp that platform, broaden his appeal and capitalize on Republican weakness."
He can't, and he won't, because it's not him, and it's not in him. Similarly, he won't just "allow himself to be typed as a black Adlai Stevenson or Eugene McCarthy, articulate but snooty, and out of touch with ordinary folk."
That IS the junior Illinois Senator! Obama is articulate and snooty. No typifying necessary by Republicans. He's already there!
To be honest, I had ironically forgotten all about the parallel with Adlai. But it's more than apt. A snooty, egg-headed Illinois Senator. And the Black Adder doesn't have any of the experience Stevenson actually possessed, including a stint as Governor of his state.
With the Stevenson comparison, I'm even more confident McCain will win in November.
Nancy "Frisco Nan" Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of US Representatives, is explicitly and admittedly involved in more conflicts of interest.
According to an August 23, 2008 Wall Street Journal story, Frisco Nan is both boosting T. Boone Pickens' energy "plan," as well as investing in Pickens' Clean Energy Fuels Corp.
Of course, Nan's staff dismisses the conflict of interest as acceptable because she is "an advocate for increasing our country's energy independence and for renewable energy for years, long before this purchase."
Charming. So long as you claimed to have been conceptually aligned with a conflict of interest's other side, it's alright to go ahead and invest in a sector of the economy which you, as Speaker, also plan to invasively change via legislation.
In fact, according to the Journal piece, Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics said,
"The ethics rules are so incredibly narrow that unless you are pushing or voting for something that will impact only you, it doesn't count as a conflict."
And you wonder why we've all lost faith in the Federal Government and, most of all, Congress. I don't see Friso Nan or Harry Reid having rushed to change these self-serving ethics rules, do you?
Any lining of your own pockets is thus perfectly acceptable- to Democratic party ethics, that is.
No, things haven't changed in Washington with the recent Democratic party-ruled Congress. Frisco Nan is as grafted-up and dirty as any Republican Congressman ever was.
And now it's public and official, just in time for the 2008 elections. Maybe this will help Nan get a new office, after all. Perhaps a bit smaller? With a new job- one with significantly less responsibility?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Being from the midwest, I think choosing Evan Bayh would have been a better bet for the Democrats. While on the left, Bayh and his family have a pretty solid history of being effective, common sense Democrats, although that is admittedly an oxymoron.
Bayh has a conventional pedigree for higher office- mayor of his state's major city, governor, and, now, Senator. Personally, I'd have been okay with him on the lower half of the rookie Illinois Senator's ticket, because Bayh comes from such classically middle-of-the-road roots. Much moreso than Illinois, which has the chronically-troubled Chicago tilting state finances, policies and politics in its direction, Indiana is more uniformly rural or lightly urban in its composition.
With Biden, however, the Dems offer the country another empty suit. Aside from his notable credentials as a plagiarist and failed presidential candidate, what has Biden ever done of import?
Now we have three Senators in the race for the White House. It's a good bet McCain will choose a Republican governor- past or present. Maybe that difference alone will be the edge that the ex-Navy flyer needs.
Let's see- Johnson and Nixon were our last Presidents who were Senators. That's not a record you'd want to emulate, is it? And they were experienced pols. Especially Johnson.
I suppose the best you can hope for this time is that McCain gets the nod because he's seen as more, and better-experienced, as well as less of a liar than either of the Democrats on their ticket.