January 30, 2008

On the Current Direction of the GOP

In the comments to this post, webcomic master  RH Junior once again makes an impassioned and thoughtful case against voting for McCain, even if he is the nominee. Please check out his comment as I think it does bear reading.  I responded, but the comment went rather long so I went ahead and made a post of it.

Regards my pointing out that Bush failed to veto McCain-Feingold and has not been held accountable for this RH makes this argument....

No, there hasn't been an outcry to impeach Bush for signing McCain-Feingold. On the other hand, he didn't draft the thing, did he. He's not a legislator, or a Supreme Court justice. As Executive he only has the power to enforce the law, and his only interaction with the process of legislation is to offer suggestions, and delay or retard legislation being passed by way of a veto--- and that, not indefinitely. Refusing to sign would have only delayed the political freight train for a round or two and given the Democrats screaming about his presidential "illegitimacy" more ammo. That said, what did he have to lose by hoping the Supreme Court would do its proper job for once?

I disagree with this. The presidents job is to defend the constitution.. His primary weapons in this endeavor are the US military and the veto pen.

I do agree with many of your points aside from the characterization of McCain's actions as wicked. McCain, like Bush is what historically would have been considered a Truman Democrat. These are not evil creatures, merely wrong in the long term, for the unintended consequences of the actions of a  powerful central government ( in domestic matters) and socialistic spending tend to always lead to hell.

 In the short term they can be and often are extremely good to have, particularly on foreign policy matters....which is a great concern at this time.

Attempting to curtail corruption in politics is not an ignoble goal. Like the drug war though, its ramifications are often worse than the initial problem....especially if the people offering solutions are insulated from reality the day to day consequences by the 495 beltway (or the ivory tower of academia).

I have little doubt that McCain, as wrong as I feel he is on certain issues, is striving to be on the side of the angels. I have rather less doubt that Hillary will be far worse for the Republic.

I'm sorely tempted to write in Thompson too, but the result of enough people doing that would be President Hillary.

Some suggest that sitting that sitting this one out and inflicting Hillary upon the nation will finally wake up the Republican Party and get us back in touch with our core principals. The evidence for this is scant indeed given that the unexciting current crop of candidates is what was fielded AFTER they were "taught a lesson" in 2006. It is also akin to the wishes occasionally expressed on the DU site a few years back that a city would just please blow up in a mushroom cloud to teach the nation a lesson about having Republicans in control. Hillary is going to be far worse in all areas at a time we will be facing very real challenges, both fiscal, military and ethical.

RH junior is absolutely correct in pointing out that having a heroic war record does not in and of itself confer great leadership abilities upon one ( see Randy Cunningham). However, the particular actions (and inactions) that led to McCain's awards speak to a singular strength of character. Being an officer or even an NCO does involve  intangible leadership qualities that are not often appreciated. However, this skill set is of little consequence if not backed up by character and the equally intangible quality known as honor. McCain was tested rather more harshly than most and kept faith with his men, and his nation. THIS and not abstract medal's or wounds are what give me some confidence that McCain is worthy of the job and will execute his duties with diligence, competence and good faith.

I will likely tear  my remaining few strands of hair out over some of his decisions, though I've gone a long way towards that with our current president....who I nevertheless voted for twice....and I am still confident that he was the correct choice in both instances.

The much larger problem facing conservatives, namely the lack of appreciation (or often even comprehension) of basic federalist, individualist and limited government principles is not going to be solved by any one candidate.

Trying to fix this problem is a daunting task, as our views, however well borne out by history, are vehemently opposed by the vast majority of teachers, civil servants and the chattering classes. It is going to require mobilization of conservatives to arenas rather beyond the scope of the keyboard in order to make our case. Conservatives who care need to donate to and rally for those who we can enthusiastically support. It has been done before as the Goldwater/Reagan revolution demonstrated, but it will require work

Going home and pouting will only ensure our irrelevance. That was, you recall, the action of some of those closest to our views, the (big "L" Libertarians), who's full scale abandonment of the Republican party helped tip the GOP's internal argument regards the role and function of government towards the New Dealers who joined as many of the Libertarians bailed.

Like many of my fellows I'm tired of holding my nose and voting but we have before us (as President Bush did in 2001-2) a series of choices that are varying degrees of bad....however, voting for Fred Thompson, Ronald Reagan or Aragorn is only going to remove votes from the less bad of the alternatives.

UPDATE: Tangentially related thoughts here.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:43 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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January 25, 2008

McCain is not the Sum of all Evil

 In the previous post I expressed dismay at the current Republican field. I linked to Rusty Shackleford's thoughtful endorsement of Romney. I also mentioned that, nevertheless, it is McCain whom I'm (very tentatively) leaning towards.

In the comments to that post, the fantastically talented RH Junior makes his case against McCain.

 I would think McCain's track record as a living threat to the Constitution would count more.

"You signed a bill that makes it a crime to pay for a political ad around election time."

"But I fought in the WAR! Look, here's my scar...!"

Sorry, I want to elect a President, not a war wound.

Fair enough, though, I disagree. However, it is instructive to examine the (not unfounded) aversion to McCain that many thoughtful righties have.

McCain was a solid republican Senator for several years until he was involved in the Keating Savings and Loan scandal in the late '80s. The Keating 5 were rebuked more for an appearance of impropriety rather than any actual impropriety and it has been suggested that McCain's being on the list was primarily to allow the Democrats to present the scandal as "a bipartisan problem".

McCain's behavior in the Hanoi Hilton indicates he places a high importance on personal honor... and this besmirched his honor. He was forthright...perhaps self deprecating...in his admission of poor judgment (in doing what was pretty standard senatorial behavior at the time)  and worked to regain his image.

He worked rather too hard.

McCain became the darling of the press by doing the one thing sure to endear a Republican to the press....namely bashing his fellow Republicans.

This did NOT endear him to many conservatives, but McCain reaped considerable benefits in favorable press coverage.  McCain, very concious of his good name, particularly after how much he had suffered for it, seemed to become obsessed with the Keating blot on his record and determined to sweep it away.

In addition to the "straight talk"...(which sounded  a LOT like backstabbing to certain other Republicans) he engaged in a quest for campaign finance reform.

Now the history of campaign finance reform is remarkably similar to the evolution of drug resistant diseases....every attempt  has caused the financing to mutate and rejigger itself through some loophole so that in a few election cycles the graft is at pre-reform levels...but rather harder to trace.

The result of this test is that to many conservatives....myself included...the best finance reform is strictly enforced transparency. (This is especially true now given the potential of the Internet...money is a big factor but not AS big as it once was and that trend is likely to accelerate...if not stymied by "reform")

McCain went with a rather more spectacular idea.

The reform legislation was the McCain-Feingold law which combined perceived solutions to several pet peeves of the Republicans and Democrats into a Byzantine overarching mess that allows the US government to get involved in local first amendment issues....see here, here and here . The upshot is that speech leading up to an election is restricted quite odiously. This is not at all in keeping with the principles of a Republic.

Note that it DOES get worse (but only if you are not a Democrat). You see, the "Press" is exempt so there can be coverage, but only by the "Press"....who is the "Press"? Well, it is whoever the Federal Election commission decides it is. The MSM are, of course, grandfathered (natch). Given their general hostility to Republicans this is not a good thing for those of us on the right.

This, however, is merely a tactical concern, the real problem with this odious legislation is the insane idea that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can determine if a car dealership can run ads or decide if a grass roots organization can run an ad during a certain part of the year.

This is what RH Junior means when he mentions a living threat to the constitution. It strikes at the heart of our republic and sets a precedent that is extremely unhealthy.

This is bad news.

That being said...

Bush (who many people unfriendly towards McCain like rather more) is the one who signed this legislative abortion into law...using the blinkered notion that he'd just rely on the Supreme Court to strike it down.

Option A: He is telling the truth and signed a law he felt was UNCONSTITUTIONAL into law...assuming the SCOTUS would do his job for him.

Option B: He really saw nothing wrong with it. (ew!)

Neither is good, but I don't hear calls for impeaching the POTUS from McCain's detractors on the right.  My own issues with the POTUS from before it was fashionable in my circles are here.

Of the remaining 3 viable candidates, McCain seems not terribly worse than the others on most issues, better on gun control, better on foreign policy by way of experience and he is absolutely committed to striving to win this long war. He is, of course worse on the particular issue of campaign finance and that should not be dismissed. However, if McCain Feingold is to be fixed, such fixing will come from the Congress, not the White House.

McCain is also a genuine war hero and it is on this that I take some umbrage to the last bit of the above quote.

McCain is not an obsequiously loyal Republican...but he held faith where it mattered. Wounded, tortured and offered early release, he did not betray those with whom he served. This shows a depth of character and a force of will that is important in a commander in chief.

I do not agree with a lot of McCain's positions...but I have no doubt whatsoever that his heart is in the right place, that he will strive to win the war, and that he is acting in good faith for the nation. In this he stands in stark contrast to his most likely opponent, Hillary. On most other issues, especially foreign policy, he is still better than his likable but long shot opponent (Obama) who is both inexperienced and, I firmly believe, wrong on the most vital  issues.

That is the rub...

...and it is why I feel that Shackleford's quote here is ill conceived....


McCain can beat Hillary. But McCain is, well, McCain.

Yes, but Hillary is Hillary and that is that.

Hillary's old guard top-down leftist policies are not going to be good for the economy, our personal freedoms or the war effort. Her disdain for our service members is well documented and her views on any number of issues are either alarmingly statist or have changed with the polls like a windsock in a tornado. A recovering economy needs stability and despite views many of us disagree on, no one can accuse him of being inconsistent. He is no leftie, as this voting assessment shows. (though it is rather weighted towards the social end)

Honor does count for something as does the character implied by taking the oath to serve ones country and die a bit if called upon.

I certainly don't believe this is the Alpha and Omega of political decisions (as my declaring for Fred should make clear), but it does count for a positive, especially given McCain's performance under extreme duress. It differentiates him in a positive way from the rest of a barren field that is entirely uninspiring to a conservative such as myself.

I can get behind Romney or, with trepidation, Gulianie...but for now, McCain is the one I consider the best and most electable of the lot.

UPDATE: While McCain may not be the sum of all evil, I am the Acme of poor typists....syntax and spelling typos corrected.

UPDATE2: Oh ..yeah...I'd forgotten about that.... urp....

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 07:08 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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January 18, 2008

No Luv for the Huckster...

I gave my reasons here on December 6th.
Now it appears I may have been too kind.

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January 10, 2008

Debate Blogging

I'm off this evening and despite what looks like a busy day of Coast Guarding tomorrow, I'm staying up and watching the debate.

As I suck at liveblogging, here are a couple of  links to those who don't.

Thompson is doing pretty good this evening...More of this please!

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January 05, 2008

The Debate

The Republican debate was the best thus far, much more substantive than past ones.

I still like Thompson the best by far.

I think he did very well in the debate despite (and in a way because of) the fact that he seemed to say the fewest words. He was to the point, direct and intelligent.

OTOH, Romney had his best night ever. He came off very well when the others pounced on him. Paul also gave his best performance yet though it served to underscored his problems on foreign policy.

Various other views here here and here.

I liked the bit at the end where the Dems and Republicans schmoozed for a bit.

Thus far the Dem debate seems to be rather less substantive

Note though that Edwards is doing the best by far (10:33pm) ...I disagree with him on most every substantive point but he is making the most substantive and specific arguments. Edwards is making the best populist arguments since the '30s. He most accurately and sincerely extols the vengeance and resentment based policies of the Democrats. He makes very good, often heartwrenching observations (IMHO judiciously avoiding any correct conclusions). He is quite likable.

Obama is likable, persuasive and seems to have large well hidden blank spots that are alarming.

Peron Clinton is still an amazing synthesis of rage, a sense of entitlement and disdain. She is no less an advocate of intrusive nannyism than Edwards but comes off as more elitist...imperious in her disdain for...pretty much all of us.

Richardson is the biggest disappointment of the lot. I'd thought he would be the most reasonable of the group.  He's pandering to the nutroots.
His comment about the Russian nukes being confirmed to be in terrorists hands is the bombshell (!) of the night if true.

It is ending as I type this...None of the Dems on stage was willing to admit the surge had had any beneficial effect. Reality based community my ass.

Big roundup of links to roundups here.
UPDATE2: Rand Simberg has more here.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:34 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Terrorists HAVE Nukes?!

So..I'm watching the debates and Richardson says that terrorists ALREADY have nukes?!!

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 09:41 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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