'Cause I Said So…

Missing The Point On The Gardasil Story

By now we have all heard something about the 2007 decision of Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) to sign an executive order mandating the Gardasil vaccine for all girls entering the sixth grade in Texas schools receiving money from the State of Texas. One of the most fair and comprehensive articles on the web about this incident has been written by Ben Howe (@Ben_Howe) at RedState.com (@RedState), Vetting Rick Perry (http://www.redstate.com/aglanon/2011/08/17/vetting-rick-perry/).

I’m not going to rehash everything in Mr. Howe’s article. What would be the point? Read it. It’s very good. Instead, I’m going to use Mr. Howe’s article as a jumping off point.

The trouble with almost all the reporting and opinion writing I’ve seen on the incident is that they all seem to miss the point of why this is important, if not necessarily fatal, when looking at the presidential candidacy of Gov. Perry. How did I get it and few others seem to? I don’t know. Maybe because I have no personal ax to grind. No, I’ll admit it, I am not the biggest fan of Gov. Perry; however, I did vote for him in every general election in which he ran. So, I can’t exactly be seen as his biggest detractor, either. So, let’s get to it.

The important thing about this incident is not the vaccine itself. Though I understand the problems many people have with vaccines, I am an advocate of necessary vaccines.

The important thing about this incident is not the mandate. Though I understand the concerns of libertarians and parents’-rights activists, many other vaccines are required to enter Texas’ state-funded schools. (However, I must say that mandated vaccinations for venereal diseases does push the envelope a bit much, and I would be opposed to it.)

The important thing about this incident is not allegations of influence peddling. Though I share the concerns of many regarding this candidate’s history of bending to corporate interests, there has been no evidence given of anything more than garden variety campaign donations and corporate lobbying involving Merck. (I don’t like the way it smells, but it’s perfectly legal.)

No, the most important thing about this incident is executive overreach by Gov. Perry.

The executive and the legislative branches have completely different duties and authorities. Governor Perry by-passed the Texas State legislature when he signed that executive order. Instead of having someone sponsor the desired legislation and letting it go through the appropriate process, he basically amended State Law by his own, independent action.

Did Gov. Perry have any right under the Texas constitution for such an act? Did Gov. Perry have any administrative authority under state law for such an act? No to both. As a matter of fact, his order was widely understood to be both constitutionally and legally dubious. Amongst the public furor arising from the order’s announcement, both houses of the state legislature passed measures denouncing Perry’s order, and not just for the publicly controversial parts. The legislature knew their authority had been commandeered by the Governor.

Now, Gov. Perry did rescind the order, after the public uproar. He did apologize for the nature of the order, the particulars concerning the vaccine and the mandate. However, he never apologized for assuming the authority to make the order in the first place. He never tried to explain why he had assumed such authority, except to say “I hate cancer”. (Well, don’t we all?)

So, why do I consider this the most egregious part of the entire affair? Circumspection.

When picking a candidate for President, we have to consider their experience. In this incident, Gov. Perry has shown a disregard for the constitutionally defined duties of his office. We are all too aware of our current President’s disregard for limits to his power, with his signing of executive orders and his appointment of “Czars”. How can we criticize President Obama’s actions, but accept out of hand similar actions done by our own candidate? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical of us?

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Old News Is Still News

Just a thought for the Mensa members out there who think they can counter every argument against their candidate by saying it has been covered in the past. That only works for the national media’s favored Democrat candidates. If it pertains to a Democrat, reporters will yawn when shown something which has previously been covered. “That’s old news.”

Unfortunately, the same standards do not apply for Republicans. For Republicans, there is no “old” news. When did they bring up G.W. Bush’s arrest for DWI? The weekend before the election. When did they bring up the fake AWOL papers? During the convention. Nothing ever goes away for Republicans, and when it is brought back up, reporters treat the story as if it has never been seen before.

So, the primary season  is our only opportunity to completely vet our candidates. We need to go over every questionable action as if it happened today. For every one of those actions we need to demand satisfactory answers, and not settle for excuses. If we know about it, then so does the Democrat opposition, and their friends in the national media.

So, if not now, we know when. When it will do the most damage.

I Would Like A Real Explanation, Governor Perry

Remember when you were a kid, and you were busted for doing something you weren’t supposed to? What was the first thing you would say? It was probably “I’m sorry!” If you had a smart-alec like my Father, you would have been asked “Sorry for what you did, or sorry for getting caught?” With my Dad, you had better know the difference.

Well, guess what? I want to know why Perry apologized for his actions. Was he “sorry” because people didn’t like the policy, or was he “sorry” because he over-stepped his constitutional authority as governor? There is sure as heck a difference between the two.

In 2007,  Governor Perry’s (R-TX) issued an executive order mandating every girl going into sixth grade in a Texas public school to receive the Gardasil vaccine. He then quickly rescinded his order, when public opposition grew too great. Every explanation I’ve read was merely an attempt to justify his actions. “He was sorry for upsetting parents, but his motives were pure.” Well, I have another of my father’s favorite sayings: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

So, one more time for those riding the short bus, what is his explanation for subverting the constitution of the State of Texas? Why did he think he could pass law without the state legislature? Why couldn’t he have had a bill sponsored in the legislature? What does this tell us about his attitudes concerning executive power, before he possibly ascends to the highest office in the land?

Is he sorry because he did it, or because he got caught?

If we truly believe in the “rule of law”, are these questions really inconsequential?

Party of Squishes or Party of Conservatives

Ayn Rand had it right in Atlas Shrugged. Without the willing consent of the hosts, the parasites cannot continue to survive.

In light of the recent election, I’m waiting to see if the GOP will change direction. If they cannot do this in a serous way, then this election is only another speed-bump on Hayek’s “road to serfdom”.

I don’t only mean the GOP changing the country’s direction. No, I mean a change in the GOP’s own direction. Will it actually become the party of the “country class”, or will it continue to remain simply another party of the “ruling class”?

The GOP has been mouthing “country class” values for decades, but has (for the most part) not put these words into action. Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and both Bushes, they all believed in big government. It’s not simply that they believed the existing government was too big for them to meaningfully change. No, they bought into the necessity and usefulness of big government. They may have wanted to marginally change its direction and how it operated. They may have wanted to make it less wasteful, more effective, and less costly. However, the premise underlying big government was never really questioned.

Since WWII, only two Republican presidential candidates, Goldwater and Reagan, have been true Conservatives. Can we really call the GOP the “conservative” party when only two of its last ten presidential candidates have been conservative? We can work to elect as many conservative Senators and Congressmen as possible. However, how can we expect them to behave conservatively when most GOP standard bearers are “squishy” moderates?

Many of us have worked hard for decades to elect conservative politicians to help retain those of our freedoms which remain, and to regain those freedoms which we have lost. Our only real hope is for those of us in the “country class” to once and for all take control of the Republican Party from the Establishment. Once we’ve wrested control from them, their only chance for survival within the party is to go along for ride.

Won’t we lose some of the Establishment to the Democrats? Think about it. If that’s the case, then chances are they are already voting with them a lot of the time. In many important ways they’re already gone. If they don’t agree with us most of the time, and find us to be the bigger threat, then let them be on their way. In the larger scheme of things it won’t make much of a difference. The Establishment as an actual percentage of voters is not enough to make the difference in general elections, as long as we bring in the disaffected Independents.

Are these the same Independents the MSM talks about incessantly every election cycle? No, I’m not talking about the pseudo-moderates, who are, for the most part, the least informed among us. How has it become a virtue to have no educated opinion about the elected leadership of your country? No, I would do best to not speak of these pitiful, ignorant sheep watching Oprah and The View. Instead, I’m talking about disaffected, right-of-center citizens, who feel the Republican Party haven’t spoken to or for them, or, worse, believe their votes have been taken for granted in the past.

I’ve recently been reading articles about the successive groups of new voters having come to the GOP beginning in the early 1970’s. According to the pundits, the first was Nixon’s “silent majority”. Next to appear were the “Reagan Democrats”. Then on their heels came the “Christian Right”. Each of these new groups ushered, in turn, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, the Freshman Class of ‘95, and then Bush II. The newest of these groups of voters is supposed to be the “Tea Parties”, which helped the GOP take over the House of Representatives, and most of the States’ legislatures.

The “new voter groups” theory sounds great. However, if you take more than a cursory look at it, you’ll find it to be total nonsense.

Since the death of FDR, Democrats have won seven presidential elections. Of those seven elections, only three times were they won with a majority of the popular vote. Two of these Presidents were Johnson and Carter, both of whom were unable to win re-election. The third President is the current officeholder, Barack Obama. People seem to forget that Clinton won both of his elections with only a plurality of the popular vote totals. Arguably, without Perot’s third-party candidacy, Clinton would not have even been elected the first time.

During this same period, there have been nine Republican presidential victories. Of these nine elections, only two were won with less than a majority of the popular vote. In both of these cases, the Presidents won re-election with an outright majority. These two Presidents were Nixon and G.W. Bush.

So, let us look again at this “new groups” theory. According to this theory, Republicans, who’ve had presidential election majorities most of the time, keep adding to this majority with new groups coming into the fold. I don’t know about you, but the math doesn’t add up for me.

Nixon won re-election in 1972 with 60.7% of the popular vote. That vote would have included his “silent majority”. Where were those voters in 1976 when Ford garnered only 48% of the vote? It wasn’t like Nixon was running again. Ford was untouched by the “Watergate” scandal. If a “new group” had joined the GOP, what happened to them? While the total popular vote did increase by almost 4 million, Ford received approximately 8 million fewer votes than did Nixon four years earlier.

Reagan won election with 50.8% in 1980, and then won re-election with 58.8% of the popular vote in 1984. Not only was Reagan’s ’80 vote a smaller percentage than was Nixon ’72 vote, it was also about 4 million fewer votes. So, we started with Nixon’s 60% including his “silent majority”, and then we supposedly added “Reagan Democrats” and the “Christian Right”. How do we end up back at 58%? Yes, in ’84 Reagan did receive over 7 million more votes than Nixon’s high water mark, but the popular vote had increased by almost 14 million. I thought these were “new groups”. How does this theory explain Bush only getting 53% of the vote in 1988, and his then getting 37% in 1992? Bush’s ‘88 vote was just 1.7 million more than Nixon’s ’72 vote, and his ’92 vote was even lower than Ford’s vote in ‘76, while the total popular vote had increased by almost 22 million.

Another problem with this theory is the Clinton years. Two years after Clinton’s election, the GOP took control of both Houses of Congress. Yet two years later, Clinton was able to win re-election, albeit with less than a majority of the vote. However, the GOP maintained control of Congress until after G.W. Bush’s second mid-term elections, with the exception of the Senate during the first two years of his first term (thank you, Jim Jeffords).

Now, just two years after President Obama won the presidency with 53% of the popular vote, the Republicans have again taken control of the House of Representatives with a historically large majority. Why have the American people changed their minds so dramatically in just two short years? Have the GOP, indeed, brought over a new voting block, the “Tea Parties”, consisting of voters dissatisfied with the President? I don’t think so.

Unfortunately for the pundits, the “new groups” theory rest on three assumptions. First, one has to believe that all citizens of voting age already vote. Next, one must believe all of these voters are well-informed of and have a good understanding of the American political system and political philosophy. Finally, one has to believe the default position for most voters is Democrat. However, we all know three of these things are patently not true.

We know all citizens of voting age are not registered to vote. We know less than 70% of those who are registered voted in the most recent presidential election. Anyone who has been to an American public high school knows how little is actually taught about our systems of elections, Constitutional processes, political philosophies or the histories of our political parties. We also know that both major parties have about 30% of registered voters each. So, why is the question always framed in a way that seems to assume the Democrats are the majority party? “Where are these Republican voters coming from?” Indeed?

Let us look back over the last eight congressional election cycles. During this sixteen year period, both parties have had the presidency for eight of the years. In the Senate, Democrats had control for six years, while Republicans had majorities for ten years. In the House, Democrats have had control for only four years, while the Republicans have had control for twelve of the years. The next two years will see a change to only equal years of control in the Senate. So, if we call the House, as did the Framers, that chamber of the legislative branch closest to the people, then it could be considered the tie breaker. The country is marginally more Republican than Democrat.

Let’s look at this question another way. Consistently for about twenty years, people have identified themselves in opinion polls as conservative, moderate, or liberal, by 40%, 40% and 20%, respectively. Now, the Republican Party has sold itself to be the “conservative” party, while selling the Democrats as the “liberal” party. Not that the Democrats identify themselves that way. Most Democrat politicians run away from that characterization, choosing instead to be called “progressives”, “moderates”, or by some other undefined term.

The dirty little secret is… neither of them is coming clean with the people. In reality, the Republican Party is the moderate-right party, while the Democrats are the liberal party. It’s not a matter of how they market themselves, but of who actually runs the parties and the legislation they promote. Do we judge somebody by their actions or their intent? It has to be by their actions, because there is no way to know what’s in a man’s soul.

If the GOP were actually the conservative party, then the national party leadership would be conservative, as would be its legislation agenda. They would be conservative enough to hold on to the 40% of the population who call themselves conservative, while reaching out to those moderates who are right-leaning, just enough to get slightly over one-quarter of them. Instead, it has a party leadership which promotes legislation to the moderate 40%, and then reaches out to the conservative 40% just enough to win elections. Its outreach to conservatives is done in two different but complimentary ways: promising to be more conservative, and (if that doesn’t work) fear-mongering about the Left. A truly conservative party would never do things like introduce new or expand existing government programs, offer amnesty to illegal aliens, or allow itself to become the tax collector for the welfare state.

The Democrats are different, but use similar tactics. They claim to be the party of the center, while being run by the Hard Left. They constantly market themselves to the “mushy” middle. They use ill-defined terms like “fairness” and “equality”. They are always talking about giving a “helping hand” to those “less fortunate” than ourselves. They use all the feel-good language of the day. However, they never talk about the costs, in Property and in Liberty, of all this “generosity”. The majority of their leadership comes from super-safe, ultra-liberal enclaves, which all but guarantees their re-election to office in perpetuity. They constantly push and prod the political system to advance their statist agenda, all the while talking of “moderation”, “compromise” and “bi-partisanship”. Would a truly moderate party seek to gather all power and resources into a centralized state?

So, taking a critical eye to the proposed “new groups” theory regarding Republican Party expansion over the past few decades one would have to declare it “hooey”. It begs many more questions than it offers solutions. Why the sudden surge, then quick recession, in the wake of Nixon? Why was Reagan/Bush able to have three terms, but never come close to a majority in the House? How was Clinton able to gain re-election, even after the “Gingrich Revolution”? How were Republicans able to gain and keep Congress through Clinton, then to lose it outright during Bush’s second term? How was the GOP able to regain the House, come close in the Senate, and devastate the Democrats at the state-level just two years after having “it” handed to them by Obama, Pelosi and Reid?

The “new groups” theory fails because it is based on the idea that the Republican Party itself had any involvement in its own good fortunes. It’s a great idea to sell, if you’re in the politics business. “I, too, can get you voters. Here’s the magic formula.” If that were the case, then the GOP would have gotten 60+% of the vote even after Nixon. The only control the GOP seems to have over its fate is in making the wrong decisions, often at the most inopportune moments. You see, the Republicans, through their own hubris, lose almost as many voters as they gain, over any given period of time.

The GOP gains voters at times of perceived “crisis” to these peoples’ way of life. However, the GOP can’t keep large numbers of these new voters for the long-term because they continually disappoint the new arrivals. Inevitably, a new crisis occurs and the cavalry (or its successors), composed of the productive, middle-classes, ride out to the rescue. They don’t come in rescue of the GOP, but to rescue the nation. The GOP’s short-term success is just a by-product of these good citizens’ desire to defend their families and selves from an overreaching state.

These different groups of voters coming to the GOP are not permanent additions, like water pumped into a holding-tank. These voters are more like waves crashing on a beach. It’s repeating cycles of the same water, over and over. It washes up and then pulls away, driven by the political tides and winds. They become energized, act, and then becoming dispirited and disillusioned, finally pull away. Then a new crisis occurs beginning the cycle anew. The waves don’t accumulate, though larger ones have been known to wash over the dunes and collect in pools behind them.

The “Tea Party” movement is just the most recent of these citizen waves. It is potentially the strongest of these waves in several generations. It must wash over the political leadership in Washington and undermine the dunes of centralized authority. It must not simply slip back into the sea, its energy wasted on the beach. They cannot, as in the past, just elect new people and then go back to their lives, hoping these guys will do as promised. We’ve seen what’s happened too often.

The power of Washington is intoxicating liquor, which once imbibed proves too difficult for many to resist. We need to be the ones to call their tab and send them home if they get too drunk on it. No one is more dangerous than a politician behind the wheel of government, drunk on their own power. None is safe in his path.

In addition to my “crisis wave” theory to explain sudden volte-faces in the political fortunes of Washington, I have a “general theory” of American popular politics. It’s is, “In the aggregate, most people in most states will elect the more ‘convincingly conservative’ candidate (and/or party, in the case of a nationalized legislative election), unless they have good reason to distrust their authenticity. In the absence of a perceived degree of difference, the voters will default to a contest of personalities. For the purposes of this theory ‘conservative’ is defined as a generalized belief in traditionalism, national defense and free-enterprise, not the more specific ‘Movement Conservatism’.” If you apply this theory, not as a Monday morning quarterback, using the information the average voter would have had at the time of the election, you can see why some elections went the way they did.

In ’48, Dewey was a liberal “me-too” Republican with no point of difference. In ’52 and ’56, Stevenson was a “pointy-headed intellectual” and Ike was a successful, military leader. In ’60, the platforms were nearly indistinguishable, and so it was Dick or Jack by likability. ’64, here we have an outlier because the self-styled conservative lost, but other issues at play, like assassination (exceptions prove the rule, right?). In ’68, Nixon seen as conservative to Humphrey (plus Chicago Convention didn’t help matters). In ’72, Nixon was seen as way more conservative than McGovern. In ’76, the Rockefeller Republican Ford versus professed born-again Christian, Southern Democrat Governor (in the wake of Watergate, to boot) was a no-contest. ’80, Reagan beats Carter. ’84, Reagan really beats Mondale. ’88, Reagan’s successor beats Massachusetts Governor. ’92, incumbent no longer seen as conservative loses to moderate Southern Democrat Governor (trust issues and degree of difference). In ’96, Clinton had been pulled to the right while Dole ran as a moderate (no degree of difference, default to personalities). In ’00, “soft” conservative, Southern Governor defeats moderate Southern, Senator/Vice-President (most people in most states, electoral college). In ’04, sitting war-time President beats Northeast, Democrat Senator. In ’08, moderate-sounding, well-spoken, young Senator defeats historically moderate-sounding, grouchy, old Senator (remember that MSM didn’t report any appreciably negative stories, his politics were not well examined, while McCain ran to the left giving people nothing to go on but personalities).

My theory explains sixteen of the seventeen most recent elections. Take of it what you will. It does a lot better job of analyzing these past elections than any other on I’ve heard. In examining any problem, I tend to use Occam’s razor. It just seems to cut through all the unnecessarily complicated ideas. Think about it. Look at the ’00 race objectively, most people thought of Gore as the “New Democrat” Vice-President of a popular sitting President. He spoke better. He had answers to every question. He was involved in “reinventing’ government. He was all in to the internet and the environment, when people still believed that global-warming jazz. Everything being even, he should have won that race. I think Bush actually made the race closer by his use of that “compassionate” conservative rhetoric. It lessened the degree of difference between Gore and himself. Stark contrasts show better.

In discussing these ideas with others, I keep being told that the demographic trends of the country are against us. Don’t listen to the ‘demographic’ argument. Politics is not biological. Keep this in mind. Before Buckley revitalized the Conservative movement, most of the population had been reared under Hoover, FDR and Ike with their unwavering belief in big government intervention. WFB had not yet been born the last time a conservative, Coolidge, was in the White House. Even so, the movement came back. What it took to start was one twenty-three year old man writing about his experiences at Yale.

The long-term problem has been that each wave thought they could simply elect someone and then disengage and go back to their life. This is the ‘long war’ and it must be treated as such. Every day, every election, both primary and general, must be used to reinforce our insistence that government exists for our purposes, not the other way around. Politicians must learn to do as we say or they will find themselves unemployed. If necessary, we must create wave after wave of politicians, elected and then defeated, until we finally get to those who actually follow the Constitution.

The market is a great indicator of what people want. Just as we cannot fault a manufacturer for producing a frivolous product which people want, we cannot fault the politician who does whatever it takes to get re-elected. What we can do is change the market indicators. Manufacturers make new products or change existing ones to meet consumer demands, or risk losing business to competitors. Politicians must be made to understand that the only way for them to get re-elected is to change their product, or risk another politician getting our vote.

In this case the desired product is Constitutional government. Will we ever get what we want?

A Reply to David Frum’s “Waterloo”

Posted in Conservativism, GOP, Government, Health Care, Health Care Reform, Obama, Republicans by kevinsoberg on April 7, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, David Frum declared Obama’s “victory” in the passage of “health care” to be the GOP’s absolute defeat. In his blog post, Waterloo (http://www.frumforum.com/waterloo), Frum blames passage of the final form of the legislation on Conservatives in the Republican Party. Frum argues that “sensible” Republicans were kept from participating in the crafting of the law by the anger of the GOP’s right-wing, with marching orders from those in the Conservative media. Further, Frum predicts federal government control of the health care industry to be irrevocable because even if the GOP gains control of Congress, it will never have enough votes or wherewithal to repeal an entitlement program, once instituted.

At the time, I was more interested in the actual passing of the “health care” bill than in what David Frum had to say about it. Yeah, I had heard he had written something that had upset some people, but what else is new, right? Like most Americans, I was too busy being upset that a temporary majority in Congress had once again taken it upon themselves to violate our Constitution and done whatever the hell they wanted to do, all in the name of, of course, the “people.” Don’t you wish these guys would stop doing things in our name, especially when they can’t get at least a bare majority to agree with them? When most of us disagree with something, it’s not “for”, it’s “to.”

Two weeks later, I’ve completed a personal post-mortem on the whole unsavory affair which included reading Frum’s Waterloo. The points he made, stated at top, are clear, concise, and well thought out, but, unfortunately, wrong. Typical for Frum, he sees things slightly out of kilter for a self-professed “conservative.” His worldview is easily explained, if you just accept that he isn’t a Conservative, at least not in the American understanding of the word.

Essentially, Frum is a Tory, a “conservative” of the English tradition. He sees conservatism as a means of balancing the unchecked expansionism of the Left. He seems to consider himself a disciple of Edmund Burke, who believed change should come through innovation, not invention. “Modernity” must come slowly, but it must come. The Tory must properly manage the ship of state and steer it out of troubled waters. The job of the Tory is to prevent the revolution. Frum doesn’t seem to understand that American Conservatism is a somewhat different philosophy.

American Conservatism is a catchall I’m using for the entire right-of-center political movement. It includes the mushy free-enterprise types, religious conservatives, libertarians, et al. The common thread through all strands of American Conservatism is the Constitution. We are all really Constutionalists. We are “conservative” because we want to conserve this document and the system of government it was supposed to codify. Yes, there are aspects of the American movement amenable to Burke, but foreign to us is that sense of statism’s inevitability.

Frum’s main point is that the Republicans’ refusal to negotiate with Obama resulted in a slightly worse law. Once again, his Tory nature led him to believe that we should slow the unstoppable. The American Conservative, the Constitutionalist, cannot accept a deal which attempts to moderate the “intolerable.” There is no “somewhat intolerable.” If we can agree to the federal government mandating a person purchase a product against their wishes, we would, in effect, say that federal power has no limit. Where would we be then?

Frum would probably consider that unrealistic, given the extra-Constitutional power already exercised by the federal government. Using that logic, any laws not enforced properly by officials would be effectively nullified. Malfeasance by officials does not change the law. Regardless of how political power is properly, or improperly, used, the U.S. federal government is limited in its scope by our Constitution. All that is necessary for the correct redistribution of power is for the people and states to reclaim it.

Once again, Frum reveals his Tory heritage. He comes from a political tradition in which all power rests with the state. There are no federal principles. There exists no written British constitution. It is just a collection of laws and precedents. All that is necessary for the complete reorganization of its structures is a simple act of Parliament. All power resides in the Sovereign, and in Britain, where once the Monarch was Sovereign, the power is in Parliament. You must remember that the British are “subjects” not “citizens.”

Frum points to examples of “conservative” backed state government health care plans to argue that it was short-sighted of Republicans to refuse to negotiate. Let me take this in two quick bites. First, in our federal system, states hold power beyond that given to the federal government. I philosophically disagree with all socialism, but unless forbidden in a state’s constitution, it’s up its citizens to make that decision. The states are the hothouses of democracy, and they are becoming choked with the overgrowth of socialism. Second, who, besides he and his backers, really considers Mitt Romney a “conservative”? Mitt’s a nice guy with some conservative positions, but do we need another Bush?

Finally, Frum predicts that the new health care laws will not be repealed. He may be right in the short-term. I cannot foresee the Republicans gaining sufficient votes to overturn a presidential veto, but we shouldn’t be deterred. As we say in the South, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” A Republican majority in the House or Senate can starve the numerous, newly created administrative agencies of the funds to enforce the new law. Agencies without funds are like weeds without sunlight or water, unsightly but dead.

Not that I think the Republicans shouldn’t face these laws head on. At every opportunity and in a myriad of forms, the Republicans should seek the direct repeal of this “intolerable.” We should be smart and not do just the easy parts, like repealing the taxes and the mandates, the entire enabling apparatus must be removed. Repealing legislation should be entered into every taxation and appropriations bill which comes before the President in the remaining two years of his term. The President should spend his remaining time in office expending what remains of his political capital on trying to “save” his signature piece of legislation.

So, Mr. Frum, I’m sorry, but your arguments, though well made, are ultimately unconvincing. We will not sell out our history, traditions, and government just to prevent a near-term loss. We will fight for our Constitution until the end, if necessary. If we cannot win this ideological battle, then all is really lost anyway.

We Had Best Be Careful

An anti-leftist, anti-big government wave of popular opinion began rolling early last year. It has been growing steadily ever since. There seem to be no signs of it slowing down. Unless there is an abrupt change in the public mood sometime during the summer the Democrats in Congress are going to get thumped, big time come November. The Democrats are in for considerable losses in the House and the Senate. These predictions are assuming Republicans are able to block so-called “Health Care Reform.”

The Democrat leadership seems determined to get its health care plan passed. It doesn’t matter to these “leaders” that the people are opposed to it, with opinion growing only more against them. The way it is looking, they can only get their plan passed by going “all in” and forcing their members to vote in favor. If that happens, particularly if they use undemocratic tactics (i.e. faux reconciliation, the “Slaughter” rule), then all bets are off. We may see a change in control of one or even both Houses of Congress before this is all said and done.

So, using the most conservative predictions of the November elections, Republicans will winnow down the Democrat majorities in both Houses to a bare minimum. What contingencies are in place for being in a close-to-parity minority? The Democrat leaders may be completely unchastened by their losses and continue pushing forward with their present agenda. Most of these leaders are from unbelievably secure districts. They have used (or entertained using) undemocratic tactics in the past to pass legislation. What will we do? How will we forward our agenda?

If the most optimistic predictions for this fall’s results are realized, the GOP will gain narrow majorities in the House and the Senate. Sure, the majority can easily move measures through the House, but passage in both chambers is necessary to go to the President. Sixty votes are required in the Senate to get a floor vote on non-budgetary legislation, and reconciliation will have to be done. Assuming Republicans are able to get legislation passed, the President must still sign it. Do you think he will have any compunction against vetoing bills which repeal his agenda items?  What’s the plan? Is anybody even working on one?

The “mainstream” media has of course been less than “fair and accurate” in its coverage of the growth in conservative/ populist opinion, the self-described “Tea Party” movement. Just get ready for the barrage of media reporting about the “Do Nothing” Congress. Big media already has a built-in statist bias. Additionally, reporters in D.C. are there to cover the news which means “action.” If nothing is moving forward, then there is no action. Something has to be reported to justify their existence. The story then becomes about what isn’t being done. It’s already been written – Young, Idealistic Leader Opposes Reactionary Forces.

We’ve lived through this before in ’95 after the Republicans took control of Congress. The big difference this time is the man in the White House. There is no denying Bill Clinton’s left-of-center pedigree; however, he was a politician in the worst sense of the word, one who’s biggest worry was being re-elected to office. Clinton could read the political winds and saw his best course was best to tack to the right. He may have fought for certain of his programs and against some of the Republicans, but he always followed the polls when push came to shove, such as eventually signing welfare reform.

We’re dealing with a completely different political animal this time. President Obama may have run as a moderate, but he has shown no signs of moderation during his time in office. As examples, where Clinton dropped health care and compromised on gays in the military, Obama has pushed forward with both in the face of growing opposition. I don’t think we can expect Obama to accept a little thing like an election as a reason to change his priorities. He will go forward with his agenda and undermine Republican initiatives at every opportunity, and the “old” media will be with him every step of the way, singing his praises.

So, the right-of-center coalition, which represents the views of the majority of Americans, goes into November and beyond knowing how the story will be played. As usual, we will be portrayed as against the poor, minorities, children, women, aged, sick, et al. We will have a President and a media opposed to everything we propose. We will have a movement whose agenda will be stymied and efforts will be impotent. We will be in the worst of possible worlds, except we will have stopped the worst of his plans.

The media will try to take advantage of one of the American people’s strangest habits, the practice of tearing down those we’ve built up, and its converse. Obama’s acolytes will begin to rehabilitate his reputation by blaming all that went wrong during his first two years on the Democrats in Congress. His fingerprints are nowhere on any of the health care legislation or anything else done in Congress. If you’ve noticed, he has assiduously distanced himself from all the machinations of Reid and Pelosi. Like Carter, and unlike Clinton, he has stood back in the White House and let all of the legislative activity and horse-trading take place on Capitol Hill.

We need to be prepared for this eventuality. We need strategies in place to counter the full court press of the pro-Obama media. Every news story must carry our message. Every Obama press event must have its opposite from us. Our leaders must be everywhere. Our take on events must be publicized. We have to get our word out.

The moderates in the Party must be steeled against the seductive influences of the media to cooperate with the Administration. They must know that any sliding into the mushy middle will result in a primary challenge from their right. Many of them will have already been replaced (Lord willing), but some will have made it through. They have only survived thus far by pulling right. They have to know there is no going back.

Once the immediate danger of further socialization of the economy is past, we will begin to lose the feelings of fear and urgency which have motivated many of those newly active in the movement. Like all those new to politics they will begin to feel frustration and anger with the slow pace of change in the direction of government. They will feel used and tricked, as have many in the past, if those they have supported fall back into the old, comfortable habits of Washington. The mistakes made by Republicans during the Bush years, whether they see it that way or not, cannot be repeated without risking an additional four years, at least, of a Democrat running the Executive branch of government.

Some of you may think I’m getting a bit ahead of where we are. What am I doing raising these kind of concerns with the elections over six months away? Then you are the exact ones to whom I am speaking. How do you propose to keep a fractious movement of populists, libertarians, conservatives, and anti-socialists together beyond this fall? Don’t you realize Obama, the Left, and fellow travelers in the media are not about to roll over even in the face of defeat? Look at their behavior now? Think it’s going to be any better in six months?

These questions and others need to be considered. Plans must be made. For over a year now, we’ve been flying by the seats of our pants. Yeah, we’ve had protests, meetings and convocations. We’ve done polling, blogging and tweeting. Beyond just winning elections, how much thought has been given to actual governance? The future is almost here. Will we be ready?

GOP Is the Only Vehicle for Democrat Defeat

Posted in Career Politicians, Conservativism, Democrats, GOP, Libertarianism, Politics, Tea Party Movement by kevinsoberg on February 15, 2010

[Note: For full disclosure, this is a compilation of my side of a conversation with fellow blogger, Jen Penman (@jpenaz on Twitter) at her blog, “My Life as a Blog,” in May 2009. You can read her post, “Libertarian, yes, positive,” and our conversation at http://jpenaz.blogspot.com/ . I’ve resurrected it in light of the recent Tea Party Convention and continuing calls for a third-party movement. This compilation has been edited for clarity of thought.]

I completely understand dissatisfaction with the Republican Party. I began to feel this same dissatisfaction as I watched the Party squander the gains of the ’94 and the ’00 elections on petty power politics. The Party never effectively educated the public about its agenda. It never took advantage of its time in control of both Congress and the White House to introduce the systemic changes for which many of us worked so hard to bring it to power.

I have always been about principle over Party, but known that we must all work within a right of center coalition. The natural home for this coalition is the Republican Party. Splintering of this coalition leads to our defeat at the hands of our ideological nemeses residing in the Democratic Party. We all have to understand we must hang together, or we will hang alone.

Is there room for dissent against the leftward drift of the GOP we’ve seen since ’94? Absolutely, but dissent needs to be expressed within the party structure to pull it back to the right. The current status of the GOP should be unacceptable to conservatives, libertarians and other people of the right. However, the answer isn’t to abandon the GOP, but to change it.

The job of voters under a republican government is to elect persons who represent our opinions. The job of our representatives is to vote as they’ve pledged they would while seeking office. However, it appears many only seek ways to broaden their appeal for re-election. We need to hold them accountable, and show them they must faithfully represent us, if they wish to stay in office.

Politicians must realize that we are more than willing to replace them if they aren’t fulfilling their obligations. They must understand that we will not automatically vote for them just because they have the correct letter next to their name. Also, there must be primary contests to remove those politicians who do not represent those who have elected them. Even if they ultimately win re-election, it will act to pull them back into the proper direction.

The United States has, and has always had, a two party system. These two parties, which have gone by many different names over time, represent the overwhelming majority of U.S. voters. They do so because they represent the two larger ideological movements, center-left and center-right, in respect to the overall body politic of the time.

There is nothing wrong with being a member of the Libertarian Party or any other “alternative” party, in and of itself. “Alternative” parties are often ways for the dissatisfied to come together outside of the structure of the main parties to build coalitions, which then ultimately act as groups within the larger parties. However, party membership leads to party loyalty, and that’s the problem. It’s the same with all third, or “alternative,” political parties.

“Alternative” political parties are, almost exclusively, ideologically based in the strictest sense. Whether it is the Greens, Communist, Natural Rights, Conservative, Libertarian, et al, they are built around on a very tightly held set of beliefs, which inevitably leads them to be relatively small groups. People voting for these parties have only a marginal effect on elections, but the result can be to the detriment of the larger ideological movement to which each of these parties belongs.

We do not operate under a parliamentary system. It is winner takes all. If an “alternative” party wins ten percent of the vote across the entire electorate, it gets exactly nothing for this achievement. The most likely outcome will be defeat for the candidate which comes second closest to its members’ views. People with deeply held political convictions should bring that passion and drive back into the major parties. They should influence those parties in the direction they want them to go.

No third party will ever gain enough voters to have any positive outcome for its greater ideological movement. The moment it wins a majority of the movement’s voters, it would cease to be a third party, but would continue to split the movement’s votes. The movement would continue to be powerless until its members come together under one party.

Now, I want to clarify a point on which I’ve already touched. Historically, the two major parties have represented the vast majority of American voters. This is because each party is a coalition of voters on their respective sides of the American political spectrum. The political spectrum, as opposed to the ideological one, slides in relation to the political beliefs of the general population. The beliefs of the voters set the scale by which left and right are measured.

As an example, think of the political spectrum as the range of colors broken down from white light. In shorthand the spectrum of light is ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). Just looking at it, the center color of light is G; however, the actual center, or average light color, of a star’s light depends upon the elements present in the star which are undergoing nuclear fusion. So, the “center” color of a star is the average of all the light colors emitted by the star.

In much the same way, the center of a population’s political beliefs depends upon the people being measured. America has historically had a political center which is to the right of Europe’s. As a people, we want less government than do Europeans. However, this is not an absolute and is not static. It bounces around from one election to the next.

Let’s say in one election all voters show up and vote for one of two parties. The party which attracts not only their half of the spectrum, but just one additional person wins. The next election the losing party is going to try to get back that one voter, and take another one to win. This back and forth would continue as each party tries to take a majority of all voters.

In reality, not all voters participate, and additional parties vie for votes. Both of these subtract from total votes of the two major parties. In the aftermath of recent elections, Republican Party leaders have looked at the numbers and seen only those votes garnered by the Democrats. These voters have become the focus for the next election, forgetting non-voters and alternative party voters. This leads Party officials and campaign advisors to pull the Party to the left seeking these votes.

If you are unhappy with the Republican Party as it exists, and you are unhappy with the direction the Democrats are taking the country, then you must become active in the Republican Party to bring it back to the Right. Growth in alternative parties only allows the apparatchiks within the Republican Party hierarchy to continue drifting left in search of “the center”. In reality the center remains where it was, but voters have been left behind on the Right. These voters must become active in the party machinery, and vote in primaries to remove candidates who undermine the party’s right of center ideological coalition.

Yes, there are ideological differences. We won’t agree all of the time. So, do we combine or divide our resources? No one tightly defined ideology is ever going to win an absolute majority. So, we must work together to move the country in our shared direction, the Right. Just remember what Reagan said, “Someone who agrees with me 80% of the time is my 80% friend, not my 20% enemy.”

Not Sure About That “Deep Bench” Idea

Posted in Bureaucracy, Career Politicians, GOP, Politics, Taxes by kevinsoberg on February 10, 2010

Over the years of following politics and public policy, from Republican ascendency, to fall, to now maybe return, I’ve heard from the political professionals in the New York/ Washington corridor the following refrain: The GOP needs a deeper bench.

I don’t know about that. Oh, I understand the idea. Republicans need more elected officials at the state and local level. There they can build impressive resumes to run against Democrat career politicians when seeking higher and ever higher office. Supposedly, this will give the GOP a “deep bench” (sports metaphor for lots of potential candidates) that can be called on at any given time to seek office.

Sounds good in theory, but I’m skeptical. Not that it’s a bad thing for the GOP to have an extensive list of people willing to seek elected office. My skepticism is of career politicians, regardless of party. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but long-term involvement in government changes a person’s outlook and attitudes. I’ve coined a phrase for this phenomenon: Chronic Government Service Syndrome (CGSS).

In most parts of the country even Democrat local officials are relatively conservative. How many local politicians get elected promising to raise taxes and spend it wastefully? Over time as they work their way up the political ladder to Congress their mind is altered and they end up voting for, as an example, Obama’s statist agenda. Want examples? Harry Reid and Tom Daschle were originally pro-life, deficit hawks, but many years of office later…

Don’t think I’m just picking on Democrats. The Republicans in Congress during George W. Bush’s Presidency are perfect examples of CGSS run amuck. Except for relative rookies, most congressional Republicans went along with Bush’s domestic agenda, including increased deficit spending, Medicare expansion, and (so-called) immigration reform, at least until their constituents raised a big ole ruckus. Most of these politicians had been in one or another elected office for over a decade, some most of their lives.

CGSS is the result of prolonged exposure to the political machinations most deem necessary in doing one’s job as an elected representative. These influences are felt at all levels of government. The longer one’s in office, and the higher the office held, the stronger the affects.

How is your local politician affected by this? Isn’t he a neighbor? He might be a friend. He’s not an absentee member of your community who spends most of his time hundreds or thousands of miles away. How can he possibly be like those career politicians in Washington or your state capitol? Well, just imagine the following conversation:

Citizen: Alderman (City Councilperson, whatever…), I’ve been running this program of late night basketball at our church’s recreation center during the summer to give kids something to do, and to keep them out of trouble.

Politician: Great idea! You’re doing the Lord’s work. How’s it going?

Cit: We’ve had an overwhelming response. That’s the problem. It’s gotten so big it’s outgrown our facilities.

(Here’s where it takes a possible turn.)

Option 1 (Personal Favorite):

Pol: Why don’t you reach out to other congregations to create simultaneous programs at other churches? It would spread out the kids and create opportunities for inter-congregational competition. Also, it could foster ecumenicalism between denominations.

Cit: I hadn’t considered that. I was thinking the city might let us use those big courts at the local park.

Pol: I understand your thinking, but it’s just not financially feasible. The agencies involved are already operating on tight budgets. It’s probably best to keep this program self-run. As a matter of fact, I’ll speak to my minister and put him in touch with you.

Cit: Well… thanks anyway. I’ll consider what you’ve said.

Option 2 (Not bad):

Pol: Really? What are your plans?

Cit: Well, I’ve been thinking about it. The city has those big Public Courts that go unused after dark. Is there a possibility we can have access to them?

Pol: I’m not sure. Yes, they are there, but there are budgetary considerations. Parks and Recreations would have to have available funds for staffing and electricity. Also, I’m not sure the neighborhood would appreciate a bunch of kids and more road traffic without an increased police presence.

Cit: Well, there would be volunteers from the church…

Pol: I know, but it could open up the city to liability issues. Tell you what I’ll do… I’ll speak to the Mayor/ City Manager and see if there is any wiggle room in the existing budget.

Cit: Thank you. I understand there may be problems. Any help you can give would be much appreciated.

Option 3 (All too often…):

Pol: That’s terrible! Is there any way I can help?

Cit: Well, you have those big Public Courts going unused after dark…

Pol: You’re absolutely right! A program like that deserves access to the city courts. They are for “The Public.” What else are these kids to do? It shouldn’t cost much, and I’m sure there’s a federal/ state program for “at-risk” youth we can tap. I’ll have my staff contact the grant writers at City Hall and see what is available. If there isn’t something, I’ll contact our Congressperson/ Legislator to see if they can earmark some funds for this important program.

Cit: Gee! You’ve really gone above and beyond my expectations. You can count on my support come election time.

Now, don’t think me too cynical, but how many local politicians would prefer the third version of this conversation to take place? Sorry to say, but after the initial election most politicians seem bent on re-election. Even those originally elected with the attitude represented by the first two options could grow weary of disappointing constituents. Why should they when other funding sources are readily available?

Most politicians probably didn’t seek office with any strong ideological grounding. Maybe, most of them just wanted to “get things done.” If in the course of “getting things done” they’ve had to tap other funding sources, well, so be it. If they can’t ask constituents to directly pay for services they (may or may not) request, perhaps there’s somebody else they can ask who is more than happy to “generously” hand it out. All’s the better, right?

A moment to rant about taxing and spending in America:

Unfortunately, the lion’s share of tax money in the U.S. is collected by Washington. It not so slowly became this way since the passing of the 16th Amendment, the Income Tax. Over this time, the federal government began edging out states and localities for access to tax dollars (the Feds get first pickings and they take it out of your paycheck). As a result, citizens have become less likely to approve state and local tax increases (the closer the government, the more say we have).

Simultaneously, Washington began “revenue sharing” with the states. “Sharing” being just a fancy way of saying, “We’ll let you have some back, if you spend it how we tell you.” At first, this was fine with most states. They were either bigger and richer (and got to tell the yokels how to spend the money) or were smaller and poorer (and what are a few strings when the money is free?).

Every governmental body has a full-time staff dedicated to writing grant requests to federal and state agencies. The existence of these agencies is to spend “other people’s” money on “worthy” projects. Most of the state agencies are just funnels for federal dollars allocated under “block grants.” These grants are money “given” to the states to spend, as long as they chip in matching funds and follow miles of rules and regulations.

So, we’ve come to a situation where we elect people to take our money, under penalty of law, to some far away capitol. These people decide how much (if any) of our money we get back and how it must be spent. The Founders’ original plan for the flow of tax money has been reversed, reducing our sovereign states to virtual administrative districts of a central authority. In addition, for the partial return of our money, we get to pay the (generous) salaries of an endless number of middle men whose jobs are to constantly meddle in our affairs.

The cause and effects of CGSS:

Do you remember what your dad said about you eating bread and salad at the all-you-can-eat places? “That’s how they get you!” Your dad was right. He didn’t pay $9.99 for you to load up on rabbit food. You were there to eat the meat and potatoes.

Well, a politician has been “got” the moment he buys into the idea in any way that taxation can or should take place at a different level of government than that at which the money is spent. We don’t tax just one locality to pay for the military. A federal purpose requires federal tax money be spent on it. The same logic applies to local and state purposes. The citizens of California shouldn’t be taxed to pay for roads or schools in West Virginia, or vice versa.

Everyone knows there’s no such thing as “free” money. However, seventy-five years ago in the midst of the Depression it must have seemed almost free. It’s a different world today. Now, there exists an intricate web of rules and regulations surrounding all “grant” money. How much money is actually consumed with ancillary costs associated with meeting requirements to get (or continue getting) the “free” money? Additionally, how much local control and personal liberty is lost as the price paid for accepting this “generosity?”

As an example, there exists a law, signed by George H.W. Bush, called “The Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA). Put aside the Constitutional, ideological and ethical arguments about this law. If you receive any federal money in any way shape or form, directly or indirectly, you are affected. Guess what? Even if you don’t, you’re still affected because your local and state governments are.

How are you affected? Labor laws were changed, everywhere. Building codes were changed, everywhere. Educational requirements were changed, everywhere. Cost of government at all levels was increased, everywhere. Oh, did I happen to mention… EVERYWHERE?

How is it possible that one law can have such an effect that we are still witnessing its implementation twenty years after it was signed? Does the federal government really have that kind of all encompassing power? Though some portion of the ADA has to do with direct federal authority, most of its provisions have to do with an indirect power, the power of the purse-strings. States and localities were told,”If you want to continue receiving money from us, you will implement these regulations, including changing your laws and codes, as we see necessary. Oh, by the way. We’ll keep watch on you, forever. You’re welcome.”

That’s how they get us. You want federal highway dollars? Sure, but change your speed limits and drinking age. You want the school lunch program and federal education money? OK, here’s a list of approved foods and your curriculum. Oh well, “He who pays the piper calls the tune,” right?

If you’re a politician and answered “yes,” you may have CGSS. Sorry you have to be reminded, but the government’s money was actually taken from somebody. Somebody is the citizens of your states. They are the ones who pay, twice. They pay, with their life, the taxes over-collected by the federal government, and then again, with their liberty and sovereignty, for a return of a portion of their own money.

So, the problem with the call for a “deep bench” for the GOP, and with career politicians in general is CGSS. Do we want more people who have bought into the notion that it’s okay for a government to buy off its people with their own money? Instead, shouldn’t we seek people who’ve lived and worked in the world outside of government? Shouldn’t we find people who understand that governments have no money of their own, who believe in the founding principles of this country? We need to elect people who know that just because they’ve done it this way for decades doesn’t make it right. We need real change, but really for real this time.