A couple days late….but I just love this quote from The Economist from someone named Bernard DeVoto.

(I have no idea who that is, but I love what he said.)

Here’s the quote:

[American history] is the most romantic of all histories. It began in myth and has developed through centuries of fairy stories. Whatever the time is in America it is always, at every moment, the mad and wayward hour when the prince is finding the little foot that alone fits into the slipper of glass. It is a little hard to know what romantic means to those who use the word umbrageously. But if the mad, impossible voyage of Columbus or Cartier or La Salle or Coronado or John Ledyard is not romantic, if the stars did not dance in the sky when our Constitutional Convention met, if Atlantis has any landscape stranger or the other side of the moon any lights or colours or shapes more unearthly than the customary homespun of Lincoln and the morning coat of Jackson, well, I don’t know what romance is.

Ours is a story mad with the impossible, it is by chaos out of dream and it has continued as dream down to the last headlines you read in a newspaper. And of our dream there are two things above all others to be said, that only madmen could have dreamed them or would have dared to — and that we have shown a considerable faculty for making them come true.

Yes.  That’s exactly right.

the why candidate

Jon Huntsman.

Why is he running for President?  The groups of voters he would appeal to already have several candidates who would satisfy their requirements. Are there enough of those Republican voters who would choose him over the other moderates in the field?  I don’t see how he manages to get the attention of primary voters, much less win the nomination.  The timing is all wrong for the moderates / RINOs to run for the Republican nomination for president.   When we consider the damage inflicted on the economy by the actions of the Obama administration, and the failure to seriously address our debt crisis and rising gasoline prices, the last thing we need as a country is candidates who are willing to compromise on these critical issues.  Moderates like Huntsman would make those compromises.

That’s not to say that Republicans should seek conservative purity at all costs.  We still want to win.  ( Don’t we?)  This means conservatives must make our voices heard in this primary season, so that the nominee we select will represent our values even if his / her record hasn’t been spotless in the past.   Our nominee should be someone who can defeat President Obama.   That person might not be our ideal but reversing the Obama agenda should take priority over sending a message to a political party.   Send messages during the process.    In 2012, the message should be to win.

We don’t need another John McCain. One was too many.

good questions

George Will on Libya:

But if Khadafy can’t be beaten by the rebels, are we prepared to supply their military deficiencies? If the decapitation of his regime produces what the removal of Saddam Hussein did — bloody chaos — what then are our responsibilities regarding the tribal vendettas we may have unleashed? How long are we prepared to police the partitioning of Libya?

Explaining his decision to wage war, Obama said Khadafy has “lost the confidence of his own people and the legitimacy to lead.” Such boilerplate seems designed to anesthetize thought. When did Khadafy lose his people’s confidence? When did he have legitimacy?

American doctrine is that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. So there are always many illegitimate governments. When is it America’s duty to scrub away these blemishes on the planet? Is there a limiting principle of humanitarian interventionism? If so, would Obama take a stab at stating it?

I think the general consensus that Khadafy should be gone is correct.   The question should be how much the United States should be involved in another possible regime change situation.  It’s a question that requires much more thought than it’s been given by the Obama administration, and requires that we have a defined mission and objectives to determine what victory looks like.   Now my friends on the left are going to bring up Iraq and whether we had a plan for victory there.  If you believe that Iraq was a mistake (debatable but a fair position) and you have lost hope in Afghanistan, then it’s not possible to support the way the Obama administration has handled Libya.   If the United States calls for the removal of a dictator, the rest of the world generally expects that we will support all attempts to remove said dictator — even if that means eventually sending our own military to accomplish that goal.

The problem is that we have not committed to long-term military intervention.  Nor should we at this point.  The reasons we would get involved in this way should not have anything to do with the inclinations of our European allies.  The responsibility of the President of the United States should be to act in our best interest.   There are many areas of the world that could be candidates for our next humanitarian intervention – the Congo, Uganda, etc.   Where do we stop?  Where do we draw the line?  We can’t save everyone. It’s admirable to want to, and it’s one of America’s best qualities – to desire to reach out and help whenever there’s a crisis or people in need.

But our government doesn’t have unlimited resources.  There’s only so much we can do, and we can’t really afford to intervene everywhere.   We need to count the cost in Libya, and determine whether there’s something we can do without committing long-term, because we are still funding Iraq and Afghanistan.   The administration also should get the approval of Congress before going any further.  The Constitution requires it, and it would add legitimacy to the mission.  Getting further involved in Libya might be a tough sell to the American people, especially with Iraq and Afghanistan still on the board, but the President must make the case for it if he believes that the removal of Khadafy is important enough for our military to be involved in that process.

two wrongs don’t make a right

Ground Zero Mosque – bad idea

Burning Korans – extremely bad idea

This goes beyond 1st Amendment rights and the legal arguments. There’s certainly a more reasonable legal argument to be made for the Ground Zero Mosque than there would be for a church burning copies of the Koran.  What’s allowable as a result of the freedoms we enjoy here in America is not necessarily ethical or moral — or wise.  In the case of the Ground Zero Mosque, we can’t legally keep Muslims from building a mosque there just because some in their religion caused 9/11. Muslims have the same freedom of religion in America as those in other religions. With that said, it is extremely insensitive to build it anywhere close to Ground Zero, and that’s why public pressure should do what the law cannot do. I hope that there is continued conversation and communication between the imam and the local community (including 9/11 families) so that there can be a satisfactory compromise.

There is absolutely no justification for burning Korans. I don’t care how small your church is or whether the pastor is considered a nutjob fringe case by the locals. This kind of behavior ruins the reputation of all Christians, not just that church, and it is our obligation to speak out against such stupidity.

It also puts our military in danger – like Petraeus said. Burning Korans will damage the reputation of the church, could endanger the bridge building process to the Islamic world as well as putting our troops at more risk. Let’s not give any more ammo to our enemies, ok?

This is not about appeasing any particular group. The desired objective is to win over the Muslims who aren’t inclined to participate in violent jihad. The mosque could be open to reasonable compromise, but burning Korans is just asking for trouble.

cut the spending

Paul Krugman says that the emphasis on tax cuts and “starving the beast” is not producing the intended result of reducing spending.  He’s right about that. Tax cuts are important, but they are only half of the equation. We really need to emphasize this more; because as valuable and useful as tax cuts are to stimulating the economy, there cannot be fiscal responsibility without reducing spending. This is a hard truth to accept for most politicians. It would be hard to find any of them who are willing to make tough choices about what programs need to be cut.  The easier choice is to support tax credits or cuts, than to say look, we are spending too much money and wasting the majority of the money being spent.   This is what must be done if our country is to be saved from the impending financial doom.  The time is now to fix what’s broken.

Reforming the system will not be an easy task. Government programs will always be ineffective and wasteful. If those programs actually solved problems, the need for them would go away completely or it would be greatly diminished.  Government jobs depend on the existence of these programs, and the employees will fight like mad to keep their comfortable existence on the federal payroll. 

Look to Greece for an outstanding example of this.  Who is protesting the government over there over their fiscal chaos?  It is government workers, upset about their potential loss of benefits and the entitlements granted to them by the beneficent socialists in their bureaucracy.  Once government dependents are created, Pandora has already escaped from the box, and there’s no return to normalcy after that.  While Paul Krugman may be correct that the U.S. is not Greece, I would argue that he underestimates the potential for a similar financial disaster.   As the cliché goes, the first step is to admit there’s a problem – and the U.S. has a spending problem.  It has a debt problem.  We have had massive debt and spending under both Republican and Democrat administrations.   It is way past time for both parties to seriously address these problems.

May I remind my colleagues on the left that deathbed conversions are still conversions?  Republicans know that the idea of reducing spending and reducing taxes is politically popular, so naturally they want to let voters know that they support both of those things.  But it’s hard to take any politician seriously on reducing spending who can’t point to specific programs or services that they want to cut.   In addition, no politician running for re-election will tell you that Social Security and Medicare are in desperate need of reform.  There is a huge bloc of seniors who vote, and want nothing to do with any future reform of these entitlements.  But it must be done – and we need to start this process now.

The federal government is broke.  It has no money for all these new and exciting programs that the Obama administration has introduced.   Since we are the big bad USA, we don’t force ourselves to make (or pretend to make, in the case of Greece) tough spending cuts or insist on tax hikes to pay for all this new spending.   Don’t misunderstand my position here.  I strongly oppose tax hikes, especially in this economy, because in the absence of any necessary fiscal discipline, this will only increase the pool of money available to create a bigger, badder, welfare state.  Krugman accuses those of us trying to warn the rest of America that we could end up like Greece as wanting to dismantle the welfare state.  Guilty as charged, Mr. Krugman.  It’s the most compassionate thing to do for my fellow Americans — force them to take responsibility for their own lives.  Some may fail spectacularly, and some may succeed, and it’s not the government’s job to equalize those outcomes.


We Are Not Greece– Paul Krugman
Facing the Facts: We Are Out of Money, Matt Welch, Reason

the state of the middle ground

America was not designed to be run by elitists – nor was it designed for pure mob rule.  What we need to find here is some middle ground – a government that will be responsive to the needs of the people without being subject to the whims of daily polling and public opinion that is too often swayed by a slanted press corps.  That’s not where we are in the state of American politics.   What we have is a bloated federal bureaucracy that is incapable of being the kind of government we need, and the American people are beginning to wake up to that truth — that’s the idea behind the growing tea party movement in this country.   It could be reasonably argued that both parties (yes, even the Republican Party) share the blame for the massive spending,  but the sins of one party should not serve as an excuse for the other party to continue the bad behavior.  That’s where I believe the average citizen, and the tea party protests serve the purpose of drawing the line here, to say, “Enough of this.  It’s way past time for Congress to start being more responsible with taxpayer money.”  Nothing at all wrong with that.

The average citizen may not be the most eloquent, and in some cases,  may know just enough to question the direction of government policy without getting a front row seat to the halls of power.  Engagement in the political process by all citizens should be encouraged, but at the same time, we also have a responsibility to be able to argue intelligently on the issues of the day. While I believe that everyone should have a voice, I think it’s in the best interest of opponents of the policy positions of President Obama and the Democrats to know what they are talking about.  The media will continue to do what it does best — shredding the reputation of good and decent people who care about their country to burnish their merit badges and keep their invites to the hot cocktail parties.  It’s up to us not to give them any additional ammo by bringing our A game, doing our research, and being armed with the facts when discussing policy.

dirty tricks

This is wrong, unethical – and somewhat boneheaded.  But enough about what I think about the Dems’  new (old) trick to pass the health care bill.

Let’s read what the Washington Post had to say about it (bold text my addition).

Pelosi (D-Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers “deem” the health-care bill to be passed.

The tactic — known as a “self-executing rule” or a “deem and pass” — has been commonly used, although never to pass legislation as momentous as the $875 billion health-care bill. It is one of three options that Pelosi said she is considering for a late-week House vote, but she added that she prefers it because it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the measure.

On something as big as an overhaul of the American health care system, the American people deserve better than backroom deals and “deem and pass” rules.   If the Democrats honestly believe that what they are doing is providing the best bill to fix the problems we have with coverage and cost, then they should be required to sign their names to it — or at least give the bill as it currently is constructed an up or down vote in the House.  If they don’t, then why put their fellow Democrats at risk of being voted out of office in 2010 by making them sign on to this bill?   It’s an unnecessary risk, but one I’m willing to watch them take heading toward the next election.

i don’t get it

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) won’t seek re-election to the Senate.

Looks like the Democrat juggernaut is running into a few problems on its way to liberal utopia.  It’s not just Republican obstructionists or tea partiers getting in the way of the Democrat agenda.  Some Democrats, like Evan Bayh, object to the focus of this administration being on cap-and-trade and health care instead of jobs and the economy.  Not all of those Dems are willing to take on their party openly, so there’s still enough votes in Congress to do some serious damage, but the growing vocal opposition from members of their own party has to be a serious concern for the majority party going forward and into the midterms this year.

It amuses me to read speculation that Senator Bayh is thinking about running for President again.  He has tried this before, without much success, if I remember his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it presidential campaign accurately. Guess I must have missed the awesome groundswell of public support that would make him believe he has a better shot in 2012 or 2016 than he did in his first run for the Oval Office.   Anything’s possible in politics…except Evan Bayh becoming President of the United States.

I don’t understand why party elitists insist the moderates are the key to electoral success.  They don’t stand for anything.  They are just as likely to vote against you as they are to vote with you.   There are numerous examples of this happening with both parties.   At least with those who call themselves conservatives or liberals, you generally know where they stand.   In this case, Pelosi, Reid, and company are alienating the moderates from the Democratic party because of their insistence on pushing an unpopular agenda.   I applaud this.    Let’s keep this flawed strategy going, Dems.  You are doing an excellent job.