Tennessee

Where do Republicans Go From Here? A Grassroots Perspective.

Former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey wrote in his book, Armey's Axioms, “When we act like them, we lose. When we act like us, we win.” Such words seem appropo after the 2008 general election. However, there is so much more to those words today than when they were written.

I cannot tell you how many times during the Bush Administration, political staffers at the state and federal level would seemingly say the same thing, 'I didn't sign up for this.' From the ill-executed war in Iraq to the prescription drug plan to the recent government bailout, many Republicans – both grassroots and professionals alike were caught off-guard by the brand of conservatism and, thus, the brand of Republicanism being executed at the highest levels of our government. And, worse yet, it was for the world to see. But, in his defense, President Bush didn't do it alone. He had a lot of help.

President Bush's proclamation of “compassionate conservatism” when he ran for office in 2000 was great rhetoric and a wonderful mission statement. However, Republicans failed to understand that it actually meant something. Compassionate conservatism meant spending – a lot of spending on government programs. It meant deficits and increased debt. It meant a foreign policy that focused on American exceptionalism and a Wilsonian offense spreading democracy around the world rather than a peace through strength national defense policy. In short, it was a brand of conservatism with which many Republicans were uncomfortable. It was not the brand of conservatism that built a center right America. However, he was “our guy” and they kept their lips sealed.

Now, in the wake of the recent elections, both grassroots and professional Republicans are asking, “where do we go from here?” Pundits have been busy today arguing whether Republicans and conservatives should revert back to their principles and become more partisan, thus, playing the role of loyal opposition? Or, should they acquiesce and work with the increased majorities of the House, Senate and new President-Elect Obama. Oddly, the answer can be and should be - both.

For years, conservatives have tried to indicate their political leanings by expressing themselves as Paleo-conservatives and Neo-conservatives. These designations spoke to the type of conservatism they believed in. As described by Wikipedia, Neo-Conservatives were/are, “a modern form of conservatism that supports a more assertive foreign policy, aimed at supporting American business interests abroad.” Paleo-Conservatives were/ are described as, “arising in the 1980s in reaction to neoconservatism, stresses tradition, especially Christian tradition and the importance to society of the traditional family.”

But, as President-elect Obama plainly put it, “Change has come to America.” This must be with the Republican Party and conservative movement, too. We can revert back to our most fundamental traditions, principles and philosophies; be a loyal opposition when warranted and work with the new majorities in the House and Senate at the same time. How? It won't be because of re-branding an image or reinventing the wheel. It will be by returning to our roots; a center right roots of thinkers and philosophers that ushered us into a time of peace and prosperity. We need to look to the past writings of Russell Kirk, Edmund Burke, Richard Weaver, Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.

In these writings we will find a stark contrast with modern conservatism most recently on display. We will find a place in the very first chapter of Russell Kirk's book, The Politics of Prudence, a proclamation that conservatism is, in fact, the lack of ideology. It is not partisan but reasoned. It is not argumentative or “gotcha” but measured. It is a far cry from the conservatism contemporaries have come to know. Further, we will find a reason for a just and moral order in our society for the sake of shared interest and partnership toward a shared future – not to force dogmatic practices on an unwilling citizenry.

In other writings from Hayek and Mises we will find a proven direction to build prosperity without taking from the rich and giving to the poor. In Burke, we will find a role for regulation without over-regulating to the point where we choke a small business' or individual's opportunity to make a profit. In Weaver, we find that ideas have consequences. Every decision carries with it levels of impact. But, as Weaver notes, “All work is a bringing of the ideal from potentiality into actuality.” We work together.

As a collection, we find a place where minorities have a home through public policies that directly benefit them and a place where they are not only welcome but are relied upon. We find a proper role for government while not intruding into peoples' personal lives or asking them to give up their liberties in the name of national security. We find a place for achieving peace through strength without active nation building or misdirecting aggression; not confusing offense with defense . We find a place for a limited social safety net while still relying on the hard work and individual responsibility of every able citizen because the greater we limit the fall, conversely, the greater we must limit the success. And, we find a place where we are truly “our brother's keeper” but a keeper by choice – not by government force.

In this time, we can begin anew to read and understand and share what traditional conservatism is and what it was meant to be. We need our state and federal leaders to do the same and be able to practice and articulate it. In this, we will be able to work with a President Obama when he has it right and serve as a loyal opposition when he has it wrong. Rather than a partisan approach – we show what a reasoned, measured and prudent approach to public policy looks like. More importantly, we will show our citizens and the rest of the world what we were supposed to be; what our movement was built to be and what our Party quit trying to be. At the very least, we will most certainly find a brand of conservatism that most of America agrees with – they just haven't seen it in a quite a while.

The South's McCain Voters are Racists

They are also uneducated, out of step with the rest of the country, to be pitied, isolated, suffering in the area of "jobs, education and development", ideologically aligned with the old Confederacy, at odds with the values of the rest of the country, and are getting what they deserve because they won't "... get with the right program." Hat tip to Dan Cleary for making sure I was aware of this.

Or you could ask Dwight Lewis at The Tennessean. Lewis learned all this in a phone interview with "... David A. Bositis, senior political analyst for the Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies ..." He felt it true and significant enough to share it with all of us. The Tennessean evidently agreed with him. Why publish his lunacy otherwise?

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is a misleading name for the group. Per Lewis, the politics and economy the JCPES finds worthy of studying are those "... of concern to African-Americans and other people of color ..." The picture at their site includes pictures of Asians and Hispanics. However, reading through the headlines on their site, the only people of color mentioned are either Blacks or African Americans. There is one vague reference to "America's minorities."

This is the environment in which Bositis' claims must be evaluated. And what is Bositis' basis for making such outrageous claims? It's his analysis of who voted for John McCain and who voted for Barack Obama. He has lots of high sounding analysis. I'll save you some time. Anyone who voted for John McCain is all of those things in the opening paragraph. Anyone who voted for Barack Obama is not.

No word on the character of Barr, Baldwin and Nader voters. Words fail to describe how offensive Bositis' words are, or should be, to every man or woman who supported a candidate OBO, "Other than Barack Obama." Obviously, however, Lewis, Bositis and presumably some of their readers and supporters believe this tripe. I would point out the position of Lewis and Bositis are, on their face, far more racist and divisive than that of any of John McCain's supporters of any color. Except, I must be wrong. It's not possible for Blacks to be racist. Jesse Jackson himself told us so.

When people criticize me for declaring Barack Obama is not my President, I'll take comfort in knowing that he is not mine, although he is Mr. Lewis' President and he is Mr. Bositis' President. To all you who want to claim Barack as your own, enjoy their company. Barack forged a coalition he greatly desired to get him elected. It contains a great many fine people who mistakenly believe in the untested, unproven promise of Barack. It also contains a great many craven, twisted racists such as Mr. Lewis and Mr. Bositis. Their bile and ignorance, passed off as lofty and intellectual analysis, is rubbish if for no other reason than it fails to address the rationale for McCain voters elsewhere. That such thinking might be indicative of the actual change and hope we'll see as opposed the empty rhetoric Obama offered ought to terrify Americans.

Men like Lewis and Bositis are destroying Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of integration. They are callously dividing our nation along racial lines for purposes I cannot fathom. How any sane and educated individual in 2008 can believe, let alone put into print in what should be respectable publications, the notion that millions of Americans may legitimately be labled racist and backward based solely on the vote they cast is beyond outrageous.

I've read it in a score of places in the last 48 hours. I cannot help but repeat it here. It's going to be a long 4 years ...

Blue Collar Muse

Why I Prefer to Be a Bad Sport for Now


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On November 5 John Kasich wrote: “We must figure out how to reorganize and restructure ourselves so that we can once again command the confidence and respect of not only the members of our own party, but voters of all stripes.”  I certainly agree that conservatism must be redefined, and I will offer my suggestions in a moment.  But I submit that none of us is ready for the task just yet.

 

In her 1969 groundbreaker On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D., introduced a model known as the Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  While not every process entails all five stages, the good doctor stated categorically that everyone experiences at least two.  But it appears that virtually every conservative commentator has tossed the model out and substituted his own single-phase paradigm: Submission.  No sooner had Senator McCain delivered his concession speech than some of my favorite radio talk show hosts – who had been breathing fire just hours earlier – blandly appealed to my optimism as though the proponents of capitalism and self-determination had merely lost a preseason football game.  Perhaps they don’t want to appear sore losers.  Perhaps they want to come across as “high-roaders.”  But in whose eyes?  I guarantee you the liberals are so drunk with victory that they don’t care whether we lost sportingly or otherwise.  Besides, it is a bit late for conservatives to worry about image.  We have been drubbed.  We have been bulldozed, hoodwinked, ground into the muck.  We fought fair while they pulled every dirty trick in the playbook, and they clobbered us silly.

 

Where is the outrage, ladies and gentlemen?  Do liberals hold a patent on passion?  Did someone outlaw indignation while I wasn’t looking?  The liberals seem to wield it freely enough.  History instructs that we can not move forward until we fully appreciate where we are.  Permit me to remind all of those blasé “we’ll-gettum-next-timers” a few facts I can recall off the top of my head about the man who just gave conservatism a bloody nose.  Barack Hussein Obama: (1) exhibited blatant sexism during the primaries, then thumbed his nose at feminism by snubbing Senator Clinton in favor of “Conehead” Biden; (2) showed the “common man” his true elitist colors when he rejected public campaign financing and outspent Senator McCain by a factor of 7 to 1; (3) would turn our courts into tools for “redistributive justice”; (4) used government computers and databases to find dirt that would discredit Joe the Plumber; (5) has bragged about the fact that he wants to increase the tax burden on the producers of this country so that he can guarantee a better living for the 30-40% who are freeloaders; (6) was endorsed by both Hugo Chavez and Iran’s parliament; and (7) has little patience for the notion of individual rights.

 

And another thing.  Let us not forget that, despite his silken demeanor, the man is an empty suit when it comes to concrete solutions.  I know attorneys because I am one.  The first lesson they teach in law school is how to use as many of the biggest words available to say as little as possible.  Our new chief executive took that lesson to heart.  People are weeping and screaming and dancing in the streets because “we” made history on November 4 by electing the first African American in U.S. history.  Unfortunately, a majority of the voters got so caught up in making history that they forgot to ask what kind of person lay beneath the fashionable skin they were about to vote for.  Let’s face it.  Obama didn’t have to make sense.  He needed no substance.  And he didn’t need to curry favor with moderates.  All he needed was to be a good looking, well-spoken black man who hung out with “cool” people like Madonna and Bruce Springsteen.  And he knew it from day one.  When I was a boy I was taught that the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s would someday stamp out racism.  I’m sorry to report that racism is still with us; it has merely switched sides.

 

This is the America our complacency has nurtured.  So spare me the silver-lining pablum.  I want to hear some emotionally healthy yelling and desk-pounding out there.  I’m not talking about rioting or bullying.  Those of you with an established forum in the media know exactly what to do.  I only hope you’ll find the motivation to do it.  As for the rest of you, try this as an example.  When I moved to a college town some years back, I confess that I allowed my vitriolic liberal brother-in-law to temper my philosophies.  Whenever he would rant about the evils he perceived Bush to have perpetrated, I was quick to remind him that the common enemy wasn’t Bush – it was career politicians and elitists in general.  When he simmered down I patted myself on the back for "remaining above the fray."  But one evening my 9-year-old nephew bragged to me that he had browbeaten a schoolmate of his into “voting” for a liberal in an important race.  With the glassy-eyed exuberance of a Hitler youth, he recited the mantra he had heard night after night from his father.  I decided I had placated the brother-in-law for the last time.  Though I don’t hang out as much with my sister’s family as a result, I can rest assured that my nephew now knows his father’s way of thinking is not the only way.

 

So conservatism as we know it has been pulverized.  It lies dead in the gutter.  How do we resurrect it?  The first thing we do is reintroduce ourselves to some fundamental principles many of us have forgotten: lower taxes; limited government intervention; disciplined government spending; individualism.  All variations of the concepts of tradition and convention must be eliminated from our lexicon.  Who do we attract?  On the count of three, let’s all scratch our heads.  One … two … three … and there is our answer: Real People.  But just what is a real person?  As a rule of thumb, real people don’t toe the party line or wear the homogenous blue blazer.  Take me, for instance.  I’m into The Who, Pearl Jam and the Black Keys, but I refuse to buy a suit that is anything but double-breasted.  I have tattoos, but I believe shoelaces should be tied, belt loops should be belted and undershorts should be covered in public.  I am licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and I will not hesitate to go for the kill shot if someone breaks into my home.  On the other hand, I have never understood, and will never understand, the attraction of game hunting.  I am an agnostic.  I detest abortion, but I think an outright ban ignores reality.  Though I am a heterosexual, I don’t understand how letting gays get married diminishes the institution for straights.  By the same token, I don’t understand why gays feel the need to impose an archaic religious ritual on an otherwise fulfilling relationship.  I don’t indulge in illegal recreational drugs; just the same, I don’t see the harm in legalizing marijuana or cocaine – people bent on destroying themselves will do it one way or another, so there’s no reason to spoil the party for responsible users.  Blah, blah, enough about me.

 

The point is that today’s conservative is not as easy to peg as was the little twerp Michael J. Fox played on prime time television in the 1980s.  That is why there were so many so-called Independents out there for Obama and his string-pullers to swoop up this time around.  The key to redefining conservatism is to refrain from overdefining it.  Agree on a very limited number of core principles, leave the rest of the slate clean and welcome the deluge of fresh new faces with bold ideas who will inevitably flock to your doorstep.

 

-R. Thomas Risk

 

 

Advice for Obama Press Corps: Keep Your 'Chute Handy

As confirmed by Politico.com's Ben Smith in his corroboration of the story that broke on the Drudge Report last night, the Obama campaign did indeed bump three major newspapers from the press group traveling aboard the candidate's plane.  Although press accounts are not specific, it is assumed that their removal was conducted while the plane was still on the ground.

The Obama campaign indicated that they will try to find seats on campaign buses for the disenfranchised Dallas Morning News, Washington Times and New York Post staff, and that they are encouraging them to travel with Joe Biden. 

(Two major right-leaning newspapers, who now have an axe to grind, riding along with the king of the gaffes?  One would think that Team Obama would be better served in the final days of the election by giving them daily interview sessions with Barack than by placing them within earshot of gaffemaster Joe.)

While it is true that in a similar move, Senator McCain barred Maureen Dowd and Joe Klein from his campaign plane, there is a subtle but important distinction between that punishment and the kind of retribution Obama is meting out. 

Dowd and Klein are columnists.  They write commentary and analysis in their own voice and the result is mainly the opinion of the writer as an individual.  When a columnist gleefully pounds away at a politician, it doesn't seem at all out of bounds for the politician to shut down that one person's access.  Even if the lex talionis - eye for an eye - mode of justice may be harsh, at least it observes some semblance of symmetry.

A newspaper's endorsement of a candidate is a decision more often made by the ownership of the paper, in consultation with the editorial staff, but it is never made by reporters.  The reporting done thus far by the ejected journalists has not been harmful to Obama.  On the contrary, most campaign trail reporting tips toward positive coverage of a candidate as reporters develop a relationship with the candidate they are covering.  Label it human nature or the Helsinki Syndrome, depending on your perspective.

There is no balance in Obama's retaliatory strike and it could say something larger about how he will apply power to other problems that arise.  In international terms, we assign a particular label to people and causes that consider innocents as appropriate tools for conveying political messages.  In domestic terms it is political thuggery and the penchant the Obama camp has for silencing dissent should at least give us a reason to retain skepticism, whether you color yourself red, blue or purple.

The Chicago-style politics of making war on anyone a politician classifies as 'enemies' by hitting their proxies is something that we, as a nation, have been trying to extinguish for more than one hundred years, but the Obama machine is reviving those tactics of naked power and proving that they still work.  He is giving us a sample, a sneak peak of his wilder side.

With the prospect of single-party rule of the federal government, and intimidation of media who are perceived as 'unfriendly' to an Obama administration, more than ever it seems clear that a vote for Obama is a vote for change.  When we realize what the word 'change' really means in Obamaspeak, I only hope that we will be able to change back.

Wendi C. Thomas Indulges Her Inner Racist

Wendi C. Thomas, a black journalist that has written for such media outlets as the Charlotte Observer, the Indianapolis Star and the Nashville Tennessean, was recently asked by what she called a "white man in Memphis" if blacks would riot if Barack Obama should lose the upcoming general election. The question made her angry, and I can't blame her for that anger. But, after a brief flash of sanity, Thomas turned the tables and went on to decide that it will be whites, rather, that will riot if Obama wins, not blacks if he loses.

At first Thomas had the absolute right answer for that "white man from Memphis." She wrote at TheRoot.com that ascribing to "blacks" the actions of rioting from some blacks is not a logical exercise. Even if some blacks rioted after an Obama loss, it is illegitimate to decide that all 40 million blacks in America would agree with that lawlessness. Who could disagree with this sensible comment?

Riot because we didn't get our way? Please. Black people have more than their share of experience with disappointment and dashed dreams. (See: King, Martin Luther; Evers, Medgar; Chaney, James.) Matter of fact, I'd go so far as to say we're experts in making the best out of a losing hand.

The reply to the curious white gentleman: "No! There is no reason to believe black people will riot if Obama does not win."

This is a great response to an absurd question. In fact, when viewing all the riots that have happened throughout America's history, blacks have proven to have no more penchant to rioting than any other ethnic group. Whites rioted in New York during the Civil War to avoid the draft during which several blacks were murdered. Irish immigrants have rioted at points in American history. German immigrants have, as well. Catholics have been the victims of riotous attack, government the target, and blacks have been a target, too. There have been draft riots, labor riots, anarchist riots, race riots and anti-war riots. And let us not forget the riots perpetrated in the 60s by the odious "counter-culture," filled with mostly well-to-do white kids, on college campuses across the country. To be sure, blacks have been the criminals in riots that have erupted after sports victories in such cities as Chicago and Detroit and these may be most fresh in people's minds -- especially for the senselessness of it all -- but it just cannot be said that blacks are more apt to riot than anyone else for any reason. History is clear; nearly every race, color and creed has rioted at one time or another in this country. We have had equal opportunity rioting, for sure.

But then Wendi C. Thomas allows her inner racist to show its ugly head. After saying that blacks should not be feared she uses against whites the same illogic that her "white man from Memphis" used to posit that blacks could riot.

But soon after getting this man's e-mail, I started to wonder if he was on to something, if he had noticed what I had: a seething, barely constrained, ugly anger and frustration that makes good riot fuel. The kind of anger that prompts people to shout "Kill him!" and "Off with his head!" at rallies. The kind of hatefulness that would prompt a man to bring a stuffed monkey with an "Obama" sticker on the toy's head to a campaign event.

That kind of group-fueled nastiness must surely beg the question: Will white people riot if Obama wins?

First of all, Thomas obviously doesn't keep up with the news. The claim that someone said "kill him" at a McCain rally has been debunked by the Secret Service, no less.

Secondly, if she so easily imagines that whites will riot in the event of an Obama win, why is it so hard to say that same for blacks if he loses? Who can doubt that there is just as much hatred for whites in the black community (Farrakhan, Sharpton, Jackson, Malcolm X, Huey Newton) as she intimates that there is for blacks in the white community?

And there is at least one example that one might use to wonder about the possibility of blacks rioting. It's certainly sensible to use the OJ trial as a perfect basis upon which to wonder if blacks might riot after an Obama loss, for instance. After all, the prevailing opinion about OJ among blacks in the US was that he was "innocent" merely because they were tired of "their kind" being targeted by the police, not because OJ was actually innocent. The fact that so many black Americans were willing to absolve OJ of murder because they felt they were being kept down as a group was astounding for its "seething, barely constrained, ugly anger and frustration," wasn't it?

But, riot over OJ? It didn't happen any more than anyone should truly believe it will happen over Barack.

Unfortunately, Thomas seems to worry using the same outlandish, fear-based assumptions aimed at whites that she decries when aimed at blacks.

If the polls are accurate—and Obama wins—will these few angry white people make good on their oral declarations? And will those who stood by them silent, join them? With dreams deferred, can angry whites do what Langston Hughes taught us—to let it fester like a sore, even to let sag like a heavy load? Or will the dream of a perfect streak of white men in the White House, if deferred, cause white people to explode?

Might they torch stores and overturn cars? Or worse, will angry whites take out their disgust on black people by, say, denying loans, or jobs or housing? Burned-out stores and cars, that's unsettling. But the damage angry whites could inflict if they really go off—that's scary.

OK, let's play. I gave two examples of blacks "seething anger." OJ was one and the illegitimate rioting after sports events was a second. What historical evidence can Thomas show for white conservatives to have rioted or came near to such in the recent past?

In truth, there isn't any.

Thomas offers not one single compelling reason to wonder as she does, "Will angry white people riot if Barack Obama wins the election?"

The plain fact of the matter is that there should be no more fear of blacks as a group rioting if Obama loses as there is to worry that whites will riot if he wins. The lawless actions of individual idiots from either ethnic group aside, there is no social unrest at such fever pitch as to imagine there will be wide spread riots in either case.

Further, Wendi C. Thomas is herself wallowing in the same sort of racist thinking as she scolded that "white man from Memphis" for indulging in.

(Photo of Wendi C. Thomas from the Memphis Commercial Appeal)

Be sure and Visit my Home blog Publius' Forum. It's what's happening NOW!

Are We Breaking the Law or Being Broken by Technology?

New technology overcomes old challenges. It also raises new ones. Nuclear plants generate the most electricity but have cleanup questions. The Internet has overcome and created challenges, too. Howard Dean used the internet to raise money at unheard of levels. Ken Timmerman reports Barack Obama’s campaign raised $427 million dollars, much of it coming via the internet.

Almost half of the $427 million came from donations of less than $200. Campaigns don’t have to identify donors until their aggregate giving exceeds $200. When giving was by check or cash, it was harder to cheat; cash deposits had to be accounted for and checks left paper trails. Credit card internet giving is the new way around the law.

Timmerman writes about an Obama donor, “Good Will”, who gave $17,375 in over 1,000 donations under $200, far exceeding the limit for individuals. The FEC has ordered the campaign to return the excess money, and they’ve started to. They’ve got thousands to go! Warner Todd Huston writes of testing the foreign donation firewalls of both Obama and McCain. Only one campaign had any checks on the process in place.

Complicating matters, current monitoring and regulating mechanisms are outpaced by technology. The FEC didn’t find “Good Will”. Activists did. Giving is at T1 speeds. Enforcement is stuck on dialup.

“While FEC practice is to do a post-election review of all presidential campaigns, given their sluggish metabolism, results can take three or four years,” said Ken Boehm, the chairman of the conservative National Legal and Policy Center.

If Presidential campaigns have these issues, what of lesser publicized and scrutinized down-ticket races?

What a Night!

Last night, both the Democrat and Republican nominees for President of the United States, Barack Obama and John McCain, met face-to-face in a debate forum for the very first time. Both appeared energetic and prepared to engage in this rhetorical battle in front of thousands who were there and millions watching at home.

Both of these two met and exceeded expectations set forth by their respective campaigns. For Barack Obama, long term, this might be where the good news for him ends.

I say “long term” because of the raw transcript of the debate. There were a number of instances where Obama looked as if he was trying to be all things to all people. There were also moments where he showed his youth and inexperience in other areas.

First, when the moderator Jim Lehrer asked the candidates about scaling back the federal budget as to what each of the candidates would do as president, Obama never mentioned one area where he would freeze or reduce spending. Instead, he mentioned his support for increased funding for early childhood education. All told, the combination of the Paulson bailout plan combined with Obama’s four-year spending proposals would add an additional $1.5 trillion to the federal budget alone. He needed to show where his cuts were going to be, but he showed an instance where he was going to increase spending.

Meanwhile, McCain gave areas where he would reduce spending starting with his least favorite items on the budget, earmarks. Next, McCain went to eliminating the ethanol subsidies and by tighting the screws on defense contracts so that defense spending is more efficient.

Obama supporters might be fast to point out that he will eliminate $10 billion a month ($480 billion over four years) by ending the war in Iraq and eliminating the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more a year. For the 48 months that he would be president which would not even come close to covering the costs for his spending proposals, tax cut for the bottom 95% of wage earners, covering a projected $600 billion deficit in his first budget, and the Paulson bailout plan. Sacrifices will have to be made and they might most likely start with the proposed tax cut (a la Bill Clinton).

The second mistake by Obama was a reversal of his position on so-called dirty energy. John McCain has made the construction of 45 new nuclear power plants to provide energy and combat climate change along with support for clean coal and offshore drilling parts of his energy plan along with renewable energy, flex-fuel vehicles, and better fuel economy.

Prior to last night, Obama had previously expressed his desire to tax coal, natural gas, and place a windfall profits tax on the oil companies which even he admits would not produce another drop of oil. However, last night Obama got in to the mode of being all things to all people by advocating his support for drilling, clean coal technology, and nuclear energy. The Sierra Club cannot be happy about this.

Third, Obama was clearly on the defensive about unconditional negotiations with Iranian President Mahmoud “Adolph, Jr.” Ahmadinejad. A major mistake made here was the citation of former Secretary of State and McCain’s friend and advisor Dr. Henry Kissinger. Obama cited Kissinger as one of five former Secretaries of State who had advocated Presidential-level talks with Iran. The five include both of Bill Clinton’s (Warren Christopher and Madeline Albright) and James Baker, who served under Bush-41. McCain had said that Kissinger was not one of the five though Obama insisted he was. 

After the debate last night, Kissinger said the following: “Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level.  My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.” Oops!

Fourth, there was a moment in the debate where John McCain and Barack Obama were comparing the bracelets they received from mothers who had lost their sons in Operation Iraqi Freedom. McCain gave the name of the soldier who was on his bracelet instantly without having to look. The same cannot be said of Obama who had to look at his to get the name. It might have been better for Obama to have not mentioned the name if it required him to take a look.

However, the biggest missteps by Senator Obama went under the radar because they were sprinkled throughout the debate. In all, there were eight instances where Obama expressed his agreement with Senator McCain. Within minutes, McCain’s campaign released a web ad (potentially a television ad in the future) showing where Obama agreed with McCain on responsibility and accountability, the earmarks process, and that business taxes are high. More could be made against Obama on the issues of spending cuts, the success of the troop surge strategy in Iraq, and that the world cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran.

Writing in the National Review, Byron York stated a prediction: “The next time McCain and Obama meet in debate, on October 7 in Nashville, start a drinking game in which you take a big swig every time Obama says, ‘John is absolutely right.’ I’ll bet you get to the end of the debate without ever lifting a glass.”

In all, Senator McCain won this round despite the curtailing of national security issues (the original topic of the debate) for three questions on economic issues. The night was largely on McCain’s turf thanks to national security, talks about government spending more than anything else, and the aforementioned missteps of Senator Obama. However, for McCain, thanks to Obama’s energy and exceeding expectations, the win was not by as wide a margin as some anticipated.

Will the Real Mike Kernell Please Log On

I posted on the David Kernell as hacker story the day the news broke. I was clear we were dealing with allegations and not confirmations and, thus, have stayed out of ongoing coverage of the story to see how it developed.

Many stories dealt with the possible involvement of Kernell's father, Tennessee Democratic House member, Mike Kernell. As Stacey Campfield, also a Tennessee House member, notes, Kernell is not responsible for his son's actions. Thus, until the father gets tied to this in a meaningful way, he's off limits.

Now that Gateway Pundit has reported the FBI is moving specifically to address the chance that David Kernell is the hacker, we can move on to discuss the story. It isn't speculation or allegation any longer. And while there's not much more to report on the story of the son's involvement, the news cycle may have turned up something tying the father to the story in a meaningful way.

Sharon Cobb, a Leftosphere blogger I personally highly respect came to Mike Kernell's defense. She wrote,

On a personal note, I need to say something about Mike Kernell. Rep. Kernell has more integrity than almost anyone I know. He doesn't lie, cheat or steal, and helps people whenever he can.

If David does turn out to be involved in hacking, Mike Kernell had nothing to do with it. Anyone who knows Kernell, knows he doesn't even email because he hates computers and is computer illiterate. That's the irony. Everyone who knows Mike is chuckling because he hates computers.

There are very few people I would vouch for, but Mike Kernell is one of them, and if it turns out his son did something wrong, Mike had nothing to do with it. (Emphasis added)

However, today I backtracked a story at the Tennessee ConserVOLiance from Toni at Bear Creek Ledger which referenced Mike Kernell. Unrelated to allegations of hacking, 'Rep Mike Kernell More Worried About Voting Machines than Dead People Voting' disputed Sharon's description of Mike Kernell.

Writing in the Technology section of the NYT in May of 2003, Sam Lubell covered Diebold's voting machine woes in Memphis and Mike Kernell's interest in them. Lubell describes Rep. Kernell differently.

Mike Kernell, a longtime Tennessee state assemblyman from Memphis and a technology enthusiast, is concerned about future elections because the new machines are harder to get a look at. (Emphasis added)

The NYT describes Rep. Kernell as a "technology enthusiast". That would seem to make Mike Kernell a player technologically. Last week, a Tennessee blogger says everyone knows Kernell "hates computers and is computer illiterate." That would seem to be a problem.

In the best case scenario, Democrats in Tennessee must repudiate one of the two sources of insight into Mike Kernell's personality and maybe his character. The NYT and the folks Sharon Cobb says know Mike Kernell cannot both be right. Which brings up the worst case scenario. Given the urgency and import of Democrats maintaining a majority in the Tennessee House, how far would they go to prevent one of their own from being outed as involved in a crime for the next 45 days? They have no guarantee they will retain the House which means they can't afford to let any race be uncontested for any reason.

That sounds like Means, Motive and Opportunity to cover up involvement Kernell the Elder may have in the allegations swirling around his son. It's time to look at Mike Kernell. Not as a witch-hunt but as a legitimate investigation. I hope Sharon's friend wasn't misleading her. I believe she believes her friend is uninvolved. I hope her faith is vindicated. But in the age of Ted Haggards and Bill Clintons, Kernell wouldn't be the first to deceive those around him. Time to see if there's any fire to go with that smoke.

Blue Collar Muse

Libertarians to Blame for the Sub Prime Crisis? Not So Much ...

Normally, I don't mind someone making themselves look silly. The entertainment value is high and I'm on a budget so I find my entertainment where I can.

But when someone both looks silly and tries to drag me into the entertainment by association, if I have the time I'm generally disposed to comment. Which brings me to Russ McBee's post 'Slapped by the Invisible Hand' wherein he blames Libertarians for the SubPrime crisis and the resultant problems. While not a Libertarian, I am a Free Market guy. From my perspective, Russ doesn't understand how we got into the mess in the first place nor has he a clue as to how we're getting out. As a result, like most Liberals, he is incapable of preventing it from happening again.

Per McBee, the subprime housing crisis is entirely the fault of Alan Greenspan, Ayn Rand and anyone else tarred with a Libertarian brush, even lightly. Ditto the failure of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Countrywide. It would appear McBee believes adherence to Free Market Economics automatically results in the worst possible human behavior from others. People don't choose their behavior. The mere proximity of a Libertarian means bad economic choices.

But Libertarians and Free Marketers are brutally Darwinian economically. They believe businesses behave in their own best interest and won't willingly destroy geese laying big, golden eggs. For instance, they will take less profit over 50 years and remain viable as opposed to going for huge profits for 5 years to then collapse. Such was the case with the vast majority of businesses which did not speculate in subprime paper, or, if they did, did so in a properly balanced portfolio. Libertarians and Free Marketers look to self interest to regulate the market.

That's not ignorant or unrealistic as Russ surmises. Free Marketers understand all too well that despite the warnings, the data and historical precedent which counsel otherwise, some businesses think they can ignore proven Market wisdom and get away with it. They can even point to the odd exception proving the rule. They abandon self interest for self destruction. They abandon sound fiscal rules and practices; it catches up with them; they pay the price. Well, they did until recently. More on that in a moment.

Free Market, Libertarian self interest is simple. Don't spit into the wind! Bad things will happen if you do. It should be obvious to McBee, but isn't, that that is exactly what happened to Countrywide and others. The market self policed and self corrected. In a serious manner. Total destruction would seem a fairly high price to pay, but pay it they did. I'd say the Market did an excellent job of teaching, training, warning and finally policing itself. And I'd be correct.

Except the Market hasn't been allowed to work it's magic for years. It won't correct the bad behavior everyone, McBee and me included, doesn't like because when business screws up, Government rides in like a White Knight to save the day. Such White Knights used to be other businesses who played by the rules and now snapped up the competition at bargain prices. Today Government bureaucrats sweep in to position cushy, white pillows so a fall from grace is as soft and painless as possible.

McBee evidently sees this as a good thing. He says

How telling it is that the abject failure of the bankrupt and corrupt libertarian mindset requires what amounts to socialism to bail it out when its superficial, simplistic, and naive world view inevitably collapses.

Excuse me? The Market is working exactly as the "libertarian mindset" wants it to. It does not desire or require Socialism to bail it out. In fact, Libertarian thought isn't being bailed out at all, it is being proven correct. The only "superficial, simplistic and naive world view" is the one saying you can remove consequences from bad behavior and trust you won't get more bad behavior! When the Market punishes it's economic apostates, the next guy thinks twice. He sees the smoldering wreckage of CountryWide and Lehman Brothers and pauses to consider a different course of action. The system, if allowed to, will work just like Libertarians and Free Marketers say it will.

Socialism is the option which needs bailing out. Championing a few people experiencing pain from a few business failures, Socialism practically guarantees far worse pain for far more people when their meddling causes an Economy to fail. There is a reason for the non-existence of even a single long-term Socialist success anywhere in the world. Government started bailing out a few failed businesses years ago. Today, more and more failures need bailing out and at higher and higher costs. You get more of what you pay for. Yet another Economic reality Libertarians and Free Marketers understand that Socialists don't. Properly dealing with painful realities now prevents future pain of greater intensity and scope. McBee would have us abandon responsibility to chase the Socialist dragon, numbing ourselves with the opiate of Government largesse until the entire house of cards comes tumbling down.

Trading proven, Free Market, Libertarian wisdom and experience for Socialist, pie-in-the-sky, Kumbaya, hand holding is precisely the sort of change Russ McBee, Democrats and Barack Obama want for our country. My response is one gaining daily popularity with Americans: "No thanks, Obama - Keep the Change!"

Blue Collar Muse

PS: By the way, I didn't forget the examples of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or AIG. I ignored them as they're irrelevant here. I guess Russ doesn't understand Fannie and Freddie are failed Government programs, not Private sector efforts. Libertarians and Free Marketers would never have allowed the Government into the Market like that. That's what Socialists are for. AIG is an insurance company still sorting out the factors behind its failure. While the subprime market may have played a part, so did the insurance industry losses in the wake of 9/11, Katrina and other large disasters. Including these in efforts to pile on Libertarians is either ignorant or disingenuous. Either way Russ loses ...

A Porkbusting Project Made For McCain, Palin

Tennessee Democrat Bob Clement served in Congress from 1988 to 2003. Historians will decide what legacy he achieved during that time, but here’s a new video to help them.

It is the first episode in “Porkbusters On Patrol,” the kind of project made for pork-hating Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin. It is a networked journalism series announced by Eyeblast.tv and the bipartisan Porkbusters coalition this summer. Subscribe to our Porkbusters channel for future episodes.

We’re still looking for Porkbusters across the country to produce video reports. Search the 2008 “Pig Book” of Citizens Against Government Waste for ideas from your area, and send your e-mail pitches to me: dglover-at-eyeblast-dot-tv.

If you want to join our army of citizen reporters but don’t have a camera, you can get one free in exchange for your work. Just request a Flip video camera when you e-mail your story ideas.
 

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