Archive for January, 2009
I have a few things to say in response to Mickey Edwards’ LA Times hit piece entitled “Reagan wouldn’t recognize this GOP.” I will not rehash the entirety of the tripe, but I will highlight a few areas with which I take exception. First, I will agree to the title of his Op-Ed. He is right in saying that Reagan would not recognize this GOP, but for the wrong reasons. Reagan would not recognize it because once again, the Republican party has left him. The GOP is but a homogenized version of what he eventually brought the party back to being. There are very few other statements in which Mr. Edwards and I are in agreement. The vast majority of Mr. Edwards’ dribble is just that, dribble.
On the premise that simple is best, many Republicans have reduced their operating philosophy to two essentials: First, government is bad (it’s “the problem”); second, big government is the worst and small government is better (although because government itself is bad, it may be assumed that small government is only marginally preferable)
This statement is a misrepresentation of conservative ideology at best, and pure fallacy at worst. The fact of the matter is conservatives do NOT believe that all government is bad. We do believe that bureaucracy is inherently flawed, and we do believe that over-reaching government is bad. Over-reaching government (intrusive) is the polar opposite of liberty and independence. As conservatism is based on the premise that liberty and independence are the driving forces of our society, it is fair to say that intrusive government (not all government) is “the problem.” There is a tendency to use the terms “big” and “small” when describing government, the terms are not used literally, as Mr. Edwards ascribes here. The literal quantity or size of government does not accurately encapsulate the conservative stance on “big government.” The size of government, as described by conservatives, is relative to the scope and power of government. Big government is one of extended and over-reaching scope and excessive weight and power over the people (i.e. intrusive). Conversely, small government would be one of a more limited scope, as described by the Constitution. We are not anarchists.
Limited government is not no government. And limited government is not “small” government. Simply building roads, maintaining a military, operating courts, delivering the mail and doing other things specifically mandated by the Constitution for America’s 300 million people make it impossible to keep government “small.” It is boundaries that protect freedom. Small governments can be oppressive, and large ones can diminish freedoms. It is the boundaries, not the numbers, that matter.
This statement is largely correct, and describes precisely what we mean by the term “small government.” Again, it is not a literal use of the term “small.” All forms of government can be oppressive. This is precisely why conservatives fight the initiatives and policies of the Democrats. Their policies expand the scope of government beyond the limits set forth by the Constitution. I will, however, say that typically the number of bureacracies is directly proportional to the scope of government power.
“In the present crisis,” referring specifically to the high taxes and high levels of federal spending that had marked the Carter administration, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He then went on to say: “Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work.” Government, he said, “must provide opportunity.” He was not rejecting government, he was calling — as Barack Obama did Tuesday — for better management of government, for wiser decisions.
First and foremost comparing the late great Ronald Reagan with Barack Obama is like comparing Thomas Jefferson with Karl Marx. Obama could not possibly be more different from Reagan. They stand for completely different ideas. I would bet dollars to donuts that when Mr. Edwards arrives at the pearly gates, Reagan will be waiting with a few choice words for him.
Secondly, Reagan was also the man who said “As government expands, liberty contracts.” Which, as Mr. Edwards has seemingly forgotten, is one of the primary ideological stances of conservatism. There are myriads of choice Reagan quotes on the matter of expansive government and its inherent infringement of personal liberty, but quoting them here is unnecessary. I’m sure that Mr. Edwards, a man who spent a great deal of time with Reagan, could take his Alzheimer’s medication (there could be no other explanation for such egregious and apparent utter lack of memory), delve deep into his clearly vacuous mind, and remember Reagan’s words.
It is also interesting to note that Mr. Edwards, a self-described “true” conservative and Reaganite, was and is an Obama supporter. (If I recall correctly Mr. Edwards stated in a radio interview that he voted for Obama —If this is incorrect, please let me know).
With the nation in financial collapse, nothing is more imprudent — more antithetical to true conservatism — than to do nothing.
I agree that to do nothing would be imprudent and antithetical. However, nationalizing industry and turning over to the Secretary of the Treasury, hundreds of billions of tax dollars, with no afforded protections, no reasonable or responsible oversight, and to do so without discretion or direction is far more antithetical. Perhaps Mr. Edwards was napping when conservatives proposed their own answer for the economic fallout. One that was indeed founded on conservative principles and would undoubtedly stimulate the economy. One that was much akin to Reagan’s plan that DID work. Perhaps Mr. Edwards was still napping when the Democrat controlled Congress refused the plan outright, and further refused to incorporate many of its elements into the bailout.
The Republican Party that is in such disrepute today is not the party of Reagan. It is the party of Rush Limbaugh, of Ann Coulter, of Newt Gingrich, of George W. Bush, of Karl Rove. It is not a conservative party, it is a party built on the blind and narrow pursuit of power.
Mr. Edwards, is again correct with his first sentence, but all wet with the rest of it. The party is not the party of Reagan – as previously mentioned. However, it is also not the party of the “Conservatives in Good Standing” mentioned by name here. The reason for this is because the party does NOT listen to Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, or Newt Gingrich. They instead listened to the McCains and W. Bush’s of the party. The fact that Mr. Edwards lumps George Bush in with Rush alone reeks of uninformed RINO-ism. While, I will defend George Bush as a good man and better President than portrayed, he is NOT a leader in the conservative movement. George Bush is a social conservative with a fiscal policy that is antithetical to actual conservatism. He is a Republican, and thus he is OF the party in disrepute.
I would suggest to Mr. Edwards that he stop conflating conservatives and Republicans. They are NOT one and the same.
Last year’s presidential campaign, on the other hand, saw the emergence of a Republican Party that was anti-intellectual, nativist, populist (in populism’s worst sense).
What? Anti-intellectual? Nativist? Populist? Apparently, Mr. Edwards spent entirely too much time viewing MSNBC. Conservatives are NOT anti-intellectual. Simply because we do not subscribe ourselves to the doctrine of beltway elitists and ivy-league intelligentsia, does not me that we are anti-intellectual. We just disagree with Mr. Edwards’ definition of the word. We do not consider the likes of William Ayers to be an intellectual. I assume that nativist is in reference to our penchant for obeying the law, as in not supporting ILLEGAL immigration. The key word is illegal, our reason for being unsupportive is self-explanatory. I fail to see how populism falls on the heads of conservatives. The only recollection of populism that I have, is the rhetoric of the Democrat that was running for office.
Over the last several years, conservatives have turned themselves inside out: They have come to worship small government and have turned their backs on limited government. They have turned to a politics of exclusion, division and nastiness.
Once again, Mr. Edwards has made the mistake of confusing Republicans and conservatives. Republicans have, by and large, turned inside out and about faced on limited government. Conservatives have done no such thing. If Mr. Edwards bothered to listen to true conservatives like Bobby Jindal, Rush Limbaugh, Eric Cantor, Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin, Mark Sanford, John Boehner, etc, then he would know this. Instead he has apparently contented himself with the common media narrative that all Republicans are conservatives. As for exclusion, division and nastiness… I wonder if Mr. Edwards has been comatose for the last eight years and even completely forgotten the Reagan years. The left has been spewing vitriol, hate, lies, and divisive bile towards any and all Republicans and conservatives for decades. The very notion that the politics of class warfare and nastiness are the sole onus of conservatives is an egregiously erroneous statement. Some Republicans may ascribe to those politics, but by far or near the primary offenders are on the Left. Conservatives, simply do not do that.
And, watching, I suspect Ronald Reagan is smacking himself on the forehead, rolling his eyes and wondering who in the world these clowns are who want so desperately to wrap themselves in his cloak.
I suspect that while President Reagan is undoubtedly directing such wonder at a healthy portion of Republicans, he is directing it at Mr. Edwards as well.
I simply cannot understand why so many conservatives and Republicans insist on saying that we should rally behind the new President. I, for one, have no plans of doing so. I do not wish him success. It is my sincerest of hopes that he fails, and fails miserably. I do not say this because I do not wish success for our country, quiet the opposite, I do. I want the best for our beloved country, which is why I want Barack Obama to fail.
If President Obama succeeds in doing only half of what he has stated repeatedly that he will do, our country will find itself in a free fall towards socialism. Recent events combined with the gradual movement towards bigger and more intrusive government have placed this country precariously on the precipice of the ruination of all that our forefathers created and fought for. Should Barack Obama manage to push forward with his economic and health care vision, our country will topple from that precipice and plummet, irreversibly, towards socialism and inevitable collapse. It will not happen today or tomorrow, maybe not even ten years from now, but that collapse is inevitable. History has taught us this.
Our greatest strengths come from our independence and liberty. As long as we are free to dictate our own future, without relying on government, we will prosper. Barack Obama does not believe in these virtues. His social and economic policies show that he believes quiet the opposite. That independence and liberty are a part of the problem, and that government dependence is the answer.
These past months, filled with rhetoric and conjecture by politicians and citizenry, have frequently brought the words of Thomas Jefferson to mind.
“a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
Both of these quotes bear relevance to the current social and political climates of our great nation, and should serve as words of caution. Our government has been neither wise nor frugal of late. It certainly has been wasteful, intrusive and regulatory. President Obama has stated that he wants more regulation, more spending, and ever more interference in to our lives. Obama has repeatedly stated that he believes that government is the answer for our problems; that government must grow, redistribute our wealth, hand out “entitlements”, and regulate our trade and business. These are not the values that our nation was built upon, contrarily, they are the policies that our founding fathers sought to separate from. Obama is ideologically incongruent with our founding fathers, and what I believe is still a majority of people in this nation.
This is why I say that I do not want Barack Obama to succeed. I want him to fail, because his success is our failure. His failure gives us a chance at success. In closing, remember the words Gerald Ford:
“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
It needs to be said that leaders and politicians are very different. In fact, I am of the opinion that the latter cannot be the former. It seems people expect a leader to be a consummate politician, and a politician to be a leader. The two could not be more different, and should be disassociated. Leaders, unlike politicians, make decisions and stick by them. They see the big picture, they determine their path, and they stick to that path regardless of what the followers think. Politicians choose whichever path they think will please the people following them, regardless of the destination. This path may change at any time based upon the opinion of the constituency. Leaders are principled and strong willed. Politicians are weak willed and change with the polls. Politicians are also likely to capitulate to outside influences and are guaranteed to do what is politically expedient, whereas; a leader doesn’t care about what is politically expedient. They do their best to do what is right and what accomplishes their goals.
There is a tendency in our country to elect officials that capitulate and cater to the masses, and at the same time want our officials to be leaders. The tendency is to want to have the cake and eat it too. It is completely unrealistic. The fact of the matter is that to be a leader, a real leader, one must not capitulate. One must not cave in or pander. A leader does not lie to gain your confidence. A leader gains respect and confidence by telling the truth, by sticking to their principles, and by doing what is right without consideration for the political ramifications. Politicians do none of those things. By nature a politician is like a traveling sales man, willing to say or do nearly anything to sell you their snake oil. Much like the traveling salesman, politicians are typically more eloquent speakers than leaders, leaders are characteristically more honest. Honesty, may be the best policy, but as we see time and time again, it is rarely what people want to hear… and it almost never pays off.
This has been well demonstrated on the national stage. People elect politicians and wonder why they are not good leaders. People wonder how there could be so much corruption and partisanship. Then people chastise the politician, and rightly so, after the politician has been caught in a lie or scandalous act. However, the people should also chastise themselves for having voted for a politician. One cannot help but take the blame for having so foolishly cast their vote. As a whole, our nation should be ashamed for having voted for politicians. If it is leaders that we are looking for, then we should elect real leaders. We have done it before. We did it in 1980, 1984, 2000, and again in 2004. These Presidents were both leaders. While Reagan was gifted with eloquence and Bush was not, they were both leaders. However, the people have ravenously lashed out at our current leader. They have treated him in a manner that would be deemed cruel and unusual were it carried out in any prison facility. The people have again turned away from leadership in favor of the spineless capitulators.
Here at the end of 2008, they got what they wanted. Against the best interests of the country, they got their politician. They bought the snake oil. In the years to come I would be amused to see them find out that the magic elixir to which they invested lock, stock, and barrel, is nothing more than snake oil; if it would not mean that the rest of us end up with nothing more than snake oil as well.
Since the advent of the national highway and interstate system a new breed of human has emerged, the Homo sapien driverus or Homo driverus, for short. In the years since the creation of the interstate system, commuting between outlying suburbs and metropolitan areas for work has increased in popularity. With that increase came a branching out of the subspecies. Three new sub subspecies diverged, creating Homo driverus noseyensis (nOs-E-Nsis), erraticus (err-at-i-cus) and tooslowinae (too-slO-in-A). More commonly these are known as rubberneckers (or nosey drivers), bad drivers and Sunday drivers, respectively.
Driverus erraticus and tooslowinae are an annoyance to the average Homo driverus. However, it is the driverus noseyensis that wins the complete nuisance award. The driverus noseyensis, as my fellow commuters and I can attest, is the bane of any commuter’s daily routine. These rubberneckers are mesmerized by flashing lights of any color, be they red, blue, white, or amber. If there are flashing lights near the side of the road, these drivers will react like a shoe addicted woman passing a Manolo Blahnik window display. That is to say, screech to a complete halt and stare like they’re viewing the promised land. Unlike the shoe fetish maven, the driverus noseyensis will cause massive delays for everyone behind them (some to the tune of hours long); whereas, the maven will only be in your way for a brief moment. Distance is not a factor for the nosey driver. If there are “pretty flashy lights” on the other side of a 8 lane spread, you can bet dollars to donuts that they are as equally interested as they would be if it were right in front of them… and they’ll stop like it were, too. This from the same species who, much like their cousins, driverus erraticus, can regularly be seen sending text messages and email from their Blackberry, while driving 80mph. Science has yet to explain how these idiots can manage to make liberal use of their accelerators with a Blackberry or cell phone in front of their faces, yet are some how given to making full use of their Anti-Lock Brakes to view the plight of some other driver on the side of the road. Be it someone getting a ticket, fixing a flat tire, broken down, or a full blown accident, the nosey driver will be sure to gawk, causing extended delays for the unfortunate Homo driveruses behind them.
Due to the scattered habitations and sheer volume of the rubbernecked nosey driver, there are no concentrated pockets of them to avoid if you do not wish to encounter one. Instead one can only hope that, during the dreaded daily commute, there are no roadside distractions with which to occupy the attentions of the SUV wielding, ADD, Curious George jackasses. If there is any type of ironic karma in this world, the rubberneckers will eventually plow into a guard rail and provide fodder for their fellow nosey drivers.
I shipped off a package containing fuzzy slippers, long johns and a bathrobe to Satan today. He’ll be needing them far more than I, as Hell must have frozen over. Or unbeknown to me, I entered the Twilight Zone and the whole world flipped on its axis. I never thought that this would happen, but I agree with the ACLU and disagree with the Heritage Foundation with regards to the RealID Act of 2005.
“The REAL ID Act of 2005 is U.S. federal law which imposes certain security, authentication and issuance procedures standards for the state driver’s licenses and state ID cards, in order for them to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes”, as defined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.”
Since the passing of the RealID Act there has been a good deal of righteous indignation duly hefted in its direction. The Act’s initial compliance date was set for May 11, 2008. However, all 50 states received deadline extensions, and on January 11, 2008 the effective date was pushed out until 2011. This was done to allow more time to garner support amongst the state governments. Nonetheless, many state legislatures have passed resolutions to oppose or refuse to be compliant with the RealID Act. The main reason for their dissension is the outright violation of privacy that is inherent in any national ID system. The RealID Act requires that states share their DMV’s databases with all other states. Besides all the data that are on your license or ID card, they will also have to share your complete driving record (tickets, suspensions, violations, points, etc). Every person possessing an ID or driver’s license from any state will have their private information readily available to government entities in other states (think Joe-The-Plumber x50). Since a valid, government issued photo ID is required for just about everything from boarding a plane to renting a movie, there is not any feasible way for individuals to simply not participate by not maintaining an ID. Dissenting state governments hope that enough states will refuse to comply with the federal law to make it impossible for the system to get off the ground, much less work as intended. Currently there are 20 states that have passed resolutions (not all are bound into law yet) and another 19 that have pending resolutions. Virginia may also join the ranks of dissenters after lawmakers meet this month, many of whom are calling for Virginia to ignore the federal mandate.
There is a plethora of groups, including the ACLU, that have launched campaigns in opposition to the law for various reasons. While the violation of privacy is readily apparent, there are a few things that are not, but should be considered when debating the Act’s merit.
- Many states tie gun registrations to driver’s licenses. (Think anti-prop 8 style blacklists by anti-gun groups across the nation)
- The vulnerabilities of one state’s DMV become the vulnerabilities of all state DMVs.
- Identity theft, in theory, will become much easier to accomplish.
- Implementation costs are estimated at 23 billion dollars.
- It will allow other state governments and the federal government to bypass current restrictions to access individuals’ information.
Members of Congress have also tried multiple times to amend or repeal the law and have thus far failed to do so. There is also some merit in a constitutionality argument as it appears that this mandate violates the 10th amendment. (I am no constitutional lawyer, if there are any out there with some specifics on this, please contact me).
Personally, I am against the RealID law. I do not relish the notion of having my information readily shared with other state governments. There is already too much potential for abuse, we simply do not need the Helen Jones-Kellys of the world having unbridled access to everyone’s personal information. I also do not cherish the thought of the federal government and any other state government having a one-stop-shop for personal and private data on every ID holding citizen in this country without having to go through the proper state or local channels for access. Handing a nationwide database of personal information to the government is akin to handing a pyromaniac a jug of gasoline and a box of matches. The abuse or expansion of the database is as inevitable as the fire.
Everyone that has turned on the news or flipped open a newspaper since the beginning of the bailout frenzy, has heard that the incoming Obama administration is calling for massive public works programs to stimulate the economy. Think WPA ’09. President-elect Obama is talking about spending nearly one-trillion, with a “t”, dollars on infrastructure building, revitalizing, and maintenance. The idea behind spending borrowed money on public works to help curb an economic recession is not a new one. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s creation of the Work Projects Administration (WPA) is the most noted occurrence of the practice. There have been many arguments as to whether or not it actually worked. However, one thing that nobody debates, at least not with any credibility, is the quality and efficiency of the work done by the WPA. Universally, that work has been hailed as sloppy, shoddy, over budget, and slow in progression. Despite this, Democrats and Liberals have touted the FDR initiatives like Billy Mays in an OxiClean commercial; and it appears that Barack Obama, who is no exception, is looking for a repeat.
The theory behind the initiative looks great in two dimension, however; in the three dimensional world, when one looks back at the original WPA they discover that its cost to benefit ratio is unfavorable. The primary reason for this is that over the years, projects completed by the WPA have had to be constantly revisited for repairs or had to be rebuilt outright; mostly due to poor craftsmanship. For instance: A plumber installs piping in your house but doesn’t properly seal the pipe fittings. After a few days of constant water pressure you have more leaks than Rod Blagojevich. Those leaks cause water damage to your floors, walls, and furniture. Now you have to hire another plumber, a contractor, and buy new furniture. Your costs just multiplied.
In the interest of efficiency and cost for benefit, the best route for public works, should the Obama economic plan move forward, is the private sector. Instead of creating another bureaucratic money pit, the projects can be bid out to private companies. There are numerous benefits to utilizing the private sector. I won’t list them all in detail but here are a few:
- There is no initial start-up cost, whereas, a new WPA would be costly to establish.
- More jobs will be created or kept through the private sector.
- Job growth and security would be spread across multiple professions and firms as opposed to only construction workers and government jobs.
- Bidding by private companies will help ensure that tax payers get more bang for their buck. Bidding also helps prevent the abuse that can occur with the exclusive use of a single supplier or workforce (see UAW).
- The private sector is vastly more efficient than government bureaucracies.
- More projects can be completed due to the decrease in project costs.
- Increased investments into a multitude of contract awarded companies. This, in turn, creates more wealth and job opportunities.
While this list is not completely comprehensive, it does highlight some of the immediate benefits to the tax payer. A prime example of these benefits is the St. Anthony Falls Bridge in Minnesota. The bridge collapsed on August 1, 2007 and was reopened to traffic on September 18, 2008, under budget and ahead of schedule. Personally, I think that the way in which the rebuild contract was designed (with incentives and disincentives) should serve as a template for future public works. If the Obama administration is serious about pushing a public works program to the forefront of their economic recovery plan, then I submit that they should use the St. Anthony Falls Bridge project as a model for the program.