July 31, 2015

The Frontrunners

“The two presidential candidates rated as least favorable, most untrustworthy, and least likely to care about the needs and problems of regular folks are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and they are leading their respective party primaries.”
Matthew Dowd

According to the most recent Quinnipiac Poll, the qualities voters most want a candidate for a president to have are:
1. Being Honest and Trustworthy
2. Caring about their needs
3. Being a strong leader.

Clinton and Trump both score on being a strong leader, but on the others, not so much.

What we have here is a situation in which the frontrunners in each major party are the worst candidates in their respective parties on the 2 qualities voters want more than any other. This doesn’t mean that almost all Democrats won’t vote for Democrats, or that virtually all Republicans won’t vote for Republicans. They will. What it means is that the presidential election will be decided by Independents who think differently than either Democrats OR Republicans.

Polling suggests, at the moment, that most Independents are more inclined to vote Republican than Democrat, but whether that happens depends on non-ideological factors, such as the 3 above-listed perceptions.

Among independents, according to Quinnipiac, Hillary has a net negative of -18 approval, and Donald has a net negative approval of -32. The percentage of independents who find Hillary to be untrustworthy is 62%. For Trump the number is 58%.

And 52% of them say that Hillary doesn’t care about the problems and needs of average people. For us, the bad news is that 63% of them say The Donald doesn’t.

So those are the values people care about. What about the issues? The number one issue people are concerned about is the economy and jobs. There is no current evidence that either frontrunner has a solid plan to deal with it.

Our serious candidates do. Maybe the debates will discuss a lot of that. Or, they might just be a circus. Megyn Kelly said that preparing for the Republican debate for most our candidates is like a NASCAR driver preparing for a race, knowing that one of the other drivers will be drunk.

Look for a car wreck.

  11:25 am

July 24, 2015

Why Trump Is Going Nowhere

Trump has exploited the reservoir of frustration and angst of many Republicans fostered by immigration over the last couple of decades, both illegal and, frankly, legal.

Maybe it was even earlier than that. Nativism was a major part of Pat Buchanan’s appeal the year he won the New Hampshire Primary. Even before that it was a key facet of the George Wallace campaign, and he actually carried states in the national election.

So it’s always been with us. What makes it especially powerful this year is that Obama has trashed the economy so massively that the standard of living is significantly lower for the average American than it was when he took office, particularly for the lowest 90%.

Jobs are scarce. Many of the lowest paid occupations have been taken by illegal immigrants, and many of the higher paid jobs have been taken by better qualified legal immigrants. And not all of them are immigrants at all, at least not first-generation immigrants. Look at the success and sterling example of Asian Americans.

Against this Trump excoriates entire ethnic groups, as in the case of his constant trashing of Mexican American immigrants. He even asserted that Jeb’s wife being a native Mexican MADE him favor a path to legal status, something most Americans favor, and something that’s nigh unto inevitable.

So Donald, who doesn’t confine his diatribes to immigrants and ethnic groups, has joined Obama in dividing the nation and setting class against class in the best traditions of identity politics.

His problem is that Obama’s version of identity politics won’t work as well among Republicans as it does among Democrats.   When Trump was at his peak and the media was all Trump all the time,  54% of Republicans told pollsters that Donald does not reflect the values of their party.

In a recent Pew Poll, fully 66% of Republicans said illegal Mexican immigrants are “mostly honest.”  Only 19% said they are “mainly undesirable.”  If that 19% number sounds familiar it might be because that’s the percentage Trump received in the last poll of the party that came out.

As Mona Charen in National Review poignantly pointed out:  “The only answer to the division and hatred on the left is inclusion and unity on the right.”

  1:29 pm

October 12, 2011

Debate Frustration & Exhaustion

Reading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death has been an eye opening experience for me, and the recent string of GOP non-debates has only made the point of this book clearer. Postman’s premise is that television precludes serious thought or discussion because the medium itself sets the agenda. That agenda is always…always, entertainment.

Take the recent debates for example. Due to the fact that there are 8 (or 9) people on the stage, and due to the fact that the moderators must keep the show moving, the candidates rarely have enough time for a well structured sentence, never mind a cogent  argument.

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan was the main topic of the most recent event, yet does anyone feel like they know the ramifications or implications of this plan? Of course not, and the fault is not entirely Cain’s. How can he explain the intricate details of a complete restructuring of the tax code in a one minute sound bite. Even given the fact that he had 4 or 5 opportunities to do so, the expectation of a reasoned response is ludicrous.

One moderator brought up the fact that one analysis of the plan found it seriously lacking. His response? The analysis contained inaccurate assumptions. OK, fine, then what are the right assumptions? We were never able to get to that because the moderator, and in truth the audience, wanted to move on to the next point, the next one liner, the next zinger.

And what about Romney’s health care law? Instead of an actual argument either for or against it we simply get more talking points about mandates, as if the very fact that the federal government mandates something makes it wrong. But the government mandates things all the time (driver’s licenses, car insurance, pasteurized milk, education). The real argument isn’t about a mandate, it is about whether or not health care is best run by a bureaucracy or by a free market company. I’d love to really see that argument played out in full, but it will never happen.

Here is my dream for a real debate. Limit the participants to 4 candidates. Let each one spend 15 minutes detailing a plan on health care, tax structure or job growth. Then spend the following 15 minutes with the opponents questioning the speaker. This would give each candidate a full half hour to really get into a topic.

It won’t happen. We are sure to hear Cain chant 9-9-9, and Perry make empty promises about energy independence at least another half a dozen times, and we will be non the wiser for it.

Steve blogs regularly here.

  6:35 pm

September 28, 2011

Open Letter to 2012 Candidates

-An economic/energy plan that is pro-growth, pro-small business, pro-big oil and green-

I know, the subtitle seems like an oxymoron right? But stay with me. This idea could save our nation, making the 21st century just as America-dominant as the 20th. Or, it could be an opportunity to poke holes in this and make me look like an amateur- that could be fun too, right?

First, let me admit right up front that I am not an economist; I do not have an MBA from Harvard; I have never been an elected official. However, I am a reasonably intelligent guy who enjoys reading and writing about politics and policy. After spending a few days researching I have stumbled across an idea that I think could be a unifying one for any of the 2012 candidates for the Republican nomination. We could bring together all conservatives and pick off a generous portion of pro-climate change greens as well.

But I need your help.

I know here at Race42012 there are a number of people with more experience in this area than me, and I am counting on you guys to vet this idea. Tell me where it goes wrong. Why won’t it work. Who knows, we may be able to create a grassroots conservative movement that deals with specifics, not just angry rants and platitudes.

The first component of this plan comes from something I found on NPR of all places. I had heard about the oil boom in the American West before, but it was this article that really opened my eyes to the possibilities it presents. Turns out the United States has a very real chance to become the leading source of oil for the foreseeable future:

Two years ago, America was importing about two thirds of its oil. Today, according to the Energy Information Administration, it imports less than half. And by 2017, investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts the US could be poised to pass Saudi Arabia and overtake Russia as the world’s largest oil producer.


Amy Myers Jaffe of Rice University says in the next decade, new oil in the US, Canada and South America could change the center of gravity of the entire global energy supply…


The US, Jaffe says, could have 2 trillion barrels of oil waiting to be drilled. South America could hold another 2 trillion. And Canada? 2.4 trillion. That’s compared to just 1.2 trillion in the Middle East and north Africa.


Jaffe says those new oil reserves, combined with growing turmoil in the Middle East, will “absolutely propel more and more investment into the energy resources in the Americas.”
The United States should actively promote this drilling by any means available. With the growing demand in countries like China and India, this could become an enormous opportunity for economic growth. Trade deficits could vanish virtually overnight. Someone is going to feed developing economies oil- why not us? This part of the plan is obviously beneficial to big oil and large business. But the snowball effect could lead to benefits for others as well.

Spur on small business growth with a radical change to the tax policy that even the greens will like.

The second part of this plan comes from Walter Russell Mead– no neo-con to be sure, but an intelligent thinker nonetheless. Here is his idea (emphasis mine):

It has long seemed to me that replacing the payroll tax (the employer and employee taxes for Social Security and Medicare) with a revenue neutral carbon tax would shift the tax burden from job creation and wages to carbon consumption. This would be good social policy in the United States whether or not you are worried about global warming. It would encourage employment and accelerate the development of a high tech and service economy in the US.

This tax shift, not hike, would free up companies to hire without bringing on new tax expenses. It would also encourage the development of green technologies in a much more free market manner. The recent Solyndra affair highlights why government subsidies for selected technologies will not work. It makes the government the decider on which ideas are profitable  and not the free market. If companies want to lower their tax bills they will develop innovative ideas on their own. This is how to use capitalism for good social policy and profit.

The (nearly) immediate benefits of this plan seem solid:

  • Safe oil leads to national security and huge oil profits
  • Tax relief for companies wanting to hire new employees
  • Incentive for newer green technologies

However, there is a long term benefit as well. Eventually a peak oil event will occur- oil is not limitless after all. Countries like China and India will eventually desire greener alternatives as well. With America leading the way in green innovation, developed not through government intervention, but through free market competition, our economic security would seem to be assured for a long time to come.

OK, now it is your turn. Where is my reasoning off? From this layman’s view this plan seems like a winner. If a 2012 candidate took it on- someone with the business acumen and real-world experience to really sell it- it could unite conservatives, independents and even a few greens. This would surely be a winning combination.

Wouldn’t it?

Steve writes regularly at his own site.

  9:30 am

August 21, 2011

Weekend Miscellany

US Attorney Says Murdered Border Agent’s Family Aren’t Crime Victims
Giving the family of murder victims status as victims themselves is pretty much standard practice – allowing them to participate in the trial and to speak at the sentencing. These rights are granted under the federal Crime Victims Rights Act. Usually, it is the defense that tries to block such participation.

In the case of the murder of Brian Terry, however, it is the US Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, who is objecting. Brian Terry was killed with one of the 2000 weapons that the feds’ ‘Fast & Furious’ fiasco put into the hands of the Sinaloa Cartel.

And guess who was in charge of Fast & Furious: Dennis Burke.

No wonder he doesn’t want the family to testify. He wants this whole thing swept under the rug as much as possible (a task in which the Obama Administration and the mainstream media are assisting him).

I shouldn’t need to add, but I will – Burke is a loyal acolyte of Janet Napolitano, having been her chief of staff when she was governor.

Coming Out
It’s time for me to admit it – I’m cisgendered.

Among my many weirdnesses is that I’m fascinated by words, and a recent newsletter on words alerted me to a relatively new one – cisgendered. The prefix ‘cis-‘ means ‘on this side’, which is the opposite of ‘trans-‘. As you might guess, the need to create a word to describe people who are not transgendered is driven by political correctness – we could not, of course, call them ‘normal’. Such a judgmental word.

The term ‘cisgendered’ is used [instead of the more popular ‘gender normative’] to refer to people who do not identify with a gender diverse experience, without enforcing existence of a ‘normative’ gender expression.

Have You Had Sex with Rick Perry?
Continuing the sexual theme, a Ron Paul supporter in Texas is running the following full page ad in a popular Austin weekly:

As if our politics had not gone deeply enough into the gutter.

You can read a little about the wacko who placed the ad here.

Although the Perry campaign responded by pointing out the guy’s record of nuttiness, I preferred Ad Age’s response (in part):

  • I have never acceded to Mitt Romney’s demands for an erotic scalp massage.
  • I have never spanked or been spanked by Herman Cain while wearing a Godfather’s Pizza delivery-boy uniform.
  • I have never been in a Newt Gingrich-Buddy Roemer sandwich.
  • I have never Googled Rick Santorum.

Quickly Noted
The Imperial Presidency: If you don’t think the pomp of the presidency has gotten out of hand, take a look at the motorcade film here.
Which Republican candidates despise each other?: A handy guide to who hates and fears whom.
Latino Approval of Obama Plunges to 49%: Which may explain why he decided to effectively grant amnesty by executive fiat.

Posting will be irregular (and at odd hours) for the next several weeks, since I’m out of the country on a business project. But, as always, please feel free to add your own Miscellany in the comments.

  8:13 am
Misc., Uncategorized  

August 2, 2011

A Democracy in Decline

One of my favorite movies is the 1995 film, Rob Roy, a story about, among other things, the danger of concentrating too much power in too few hands. In the film, the character Rob Roy is a hard-working man of high ethics who is enjoying a prosperous life via the sweat of his brow. But the protagonist soon finds his life torn asunder, with his wife raped, his wealth confiscated, and his village burnt to the ground, and a death sentence on his head to boot. The protagonist’s misfortune, however, came not from his own doing. Nor did it constitute collateral damage from some sort of messy military conflict that, while unfortunate, turned out to be necessary in the grand scheme of things. Quite to the contrary, Rob Roy found his entire life taken from him due solely to a petty, personal squabble between two men of nobility who were constantly trying to humiliate, embarrass, and trump one another’s actions, for no other reason than personal amusement.

This sort of abuse of power, of course, was supposed to disappear upon the advent of democracy, when the concept of one-person, one-vote would prevent the few from dominating the many. Indeed, the great concern of small-d democrats was that the many may end up dominating the few once democracy was instituted. Interestingly, it has taken just two and a half centuries for the world’s greatest democracy to seemingly revert back to the model of the Everyman twisting in the wind as his supposed betters toy with destroying his life and livelihood in order to do nothing more than get under their opponents’ skin. And everything comes full circle.

The recent battle over the debt ceiling was a low point for democracy in America, as the nation’s two major political parties acted not as statesmen, but as showmen, holding the country hostage in a perverse game of “chicken” in order to see which side would give in to the relatively meaningless demands of the other. And the demands were indeed meaningless. No amount of fiddling around the edges of taxes and spending are going to solve the country’s debt crisis. The only solution is structural reform in a number of areas where government interacts with American life. But the politicians in Washington don’t want to hear about that. They simply want to use this and every other crisis to continue their half-century battle over the cultural and economic revolutions of the late 20th Century, with Republicans’ convinced that the biggest problem in America is NPR, and Democrats certain that all of our problems will go away if marginal income tax rates are raised by 4 percentage points for upper income Americans.

But these issues are petty indeed, and the fact that both parties essentially held the American economy hostage in order to obtain “bragging rights” is evidence that our democracy may be nearer to its end than its beginning. Again, our debt problem is a structural problem, and a structural problem requires a structural solution. But structural solutions tend to create seismic change, and seismic change creates winners and losers, the latter of whom are inclined to vote against those public officials at the ballot box who enacted such change in the first place. If Washington were filled with statesmen, though, we’d see grand compromises in order to enact those structural changes that are necessary to save the nation from decline, and from drowning in debt.

The structural changes that are needed are well known to most policy wonks, and third rails to most politicians. The tax code needs to be restructured to reward savings and investment, to close loopholes, and to allocate capital more efficiently. The way that government interacts with health care needs to be restructured to lower costs. Anyone who’s looked at the long-term Medicare and Medicaid projections knows that. Social Security needs to be restructured to provide a greater rate of return to an aging population. Education needs to be restructured to direct money away from public employee benefits and security and towards students, and to slowly deflate the student loan bubble that has transformed colleges and universities into the equivalent of subprime mortgages. Defense needs to be restructured in a way that re-evaluates America’s commitments around the world.

But all of these things are hard. And politicians don’t come to Washington to do hard things. They come to Washington to fight about whether we’re going to be Red Americans or Blue Americans, fueled by the desires of scores of aging Baby Boomers who have nothing better to do than get hot and bothered while watching Fox News and listening to talk radio, enjoying their Social Security and Medicare benefits while calling and emailing their Republican elected officials and informing them that they’d better vote to destroy the country, or else. The Boomers, still on a quest for personal validation, would rather take the country down with them than admit that the cultural revolution of the 1960s might be a settled issue.

Even more pathetic though were the cowering candidates for president, so terrified of the news-entertainment complex that constitutes the right-wing media that many of them all but hid in their respective offices until a deal was reached. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman remains a notable exception, showing that he is neither a coward nor crazy by endorsing a deal to raise the debt ceiling, and possibly providing himself a path to the presidency in 2016 should a president with a 40 percent approval rating be re-elected over a Republican field that has failed to earn the respect of the nation. Jon Huntsman is a statesmen. The rest are barely men at all.

It is indeed ironic for a democracy to become a “tyranny of the minority,” but such a dynamic is the logical consequence of the collapse of a national sense of civic duty. When the broader population is content to be placated by bread and circuses, the substantive decisions about the direction of our nation will be left to public officials disproportionately influenced by collections of interests, and by those voters who are so ideologically wedded to a particular point of view that they demand fealty to their articles of faith and not to matters of fact. It is the latter, of course, that those who we elect to public office must address in order for the nation to survive, as a democracy or otherwise.

  9:16 pm

July 6, 2011

Veepin’ it: some wild speculations.

No matter who our eventual nominee is, one of the first things the Republican presidential candidate will have to decide is who he (or she) puts on the ticket as VP. Traditionally, many candidates choose from the pool of their defeated rivals, hoping to select a running-mate who has survived the vetting process in tact, but will bring something to the table which they themselves lack. One might, for example, imagine Mitt Romney selecting someone like Michelle Bachmann or Herman Cain as a VP, to try and court disaffected tea partiers. In my opinion, however, it would behoove the eventual nominee to look beyond his/her former opponents. Thus, here are a few suggestions for possible running-mates who are not running for President, and the plusses, and minuses, they bring to the table.

1. Luis Fortuno:

I’ve been a Fortuno-watcher since his successful resident commissioner run in 2004, but for those not familiar with a man called the “Chris Christie of the Caribbean” by sum, here are the highlights. Fortuno was elected Resident Commissioner (that’s the sitting but non-voting Puerto Rican member of the house) on the ballot-line of the New Progressive Party, the statehood party in Puerto Rico. While the NPP is considered the slightly more conservative party in PR, most NPPers elected Resident Commissioner, like those of the Popular Democratic Party, sit as Democrats; Fortuno broke with this tradition, and sat as a Republican. He was endorsed in that race by the Club for Growth, and, in 2008, ran for Governor of Puerto Rico, and won comfortably. All reports are that Fortuno has governed quite conservatively while in office–hence the “Christie of the Caribbean” nickname, and with a particular eye toward shrinking the size and scope of the Puerto Rican government. As a governor of one of our extra-continental territories, Fortuno has gained international experience greater than most governors. Needless to say, his selection would send a powerful message about the GOP’s openness to Hispanic voters.

Down sides: Fortuno suffers from low name recognition (how many of you, my readers, have heard of him)? In addition, he would probably need to establish residency in one of the states; so long as it was a different state than the nominee, he’d be fine on this angle. I’m not enough of an election law expert to know how much of a problem this actually is, but it could be a hick-up. There’s also the “not ready for the national stage” issue. Sarah Palin was caught off-guard by her selection as the nominee, and attacked brutally once that selection was made. Fortuno would have to be ready for this level of scrutiny on day 1; is he ready, and equally to the point, willing, to go through that?

Conclusion: I think Fortuno would be an excellent choice for any of the top-tier candidates. If he is indeed a Christie-like figure who is Hispanic and has some international experience, he could be ideal. He would need more vetting, but could be a huge win.

2. Bobby Jindal:

He’s a young governor with a planet-sized brain, who has governed Louisiana, and can boast considerable accomplishments. Democrats are not really fielding a candidate against him in 2011, meaning he should cruise to reelection. What he lacks in charisma, he makes up for in pure intellect, and he has a great American Dream story. There’s very little not to like about Bobby Jindal.

Down sides: Jindal flubbed his 2009 SOTU response pretty badly (not that it’s really possible to give a stellar SOTU response). This is mostly important because it demonstrates that Jindal isn’t likely to light up a crowd with his charisma. If a candidate is looking for flash, Jindal might not be the guy. Also, can one actually make it to the top in LA without skeletons? Jindal seems clean in that regard, but the media will go after the eventual VP nominee like dogs on a bone. There’s also the question of whether Jindal will actually want it. He’ll be just starting his second term, and may feel he has unfinished business in LA he needs to take care of before seeking the national spotlight.

Conclusion: Another very very solid choice I could get excited about. Perhaps a better match for a candidate who can excite the base, but who needs to counter a light-weight narrative.

3. Bob McDonnell:

Though he’s been eclipsed of late by Chris Christie, the man who won at the same time he did, Bob McDonnell is an impressive figure in his own right. He’s governed Virginia well, and sports very good approval ratings in a must-win state for Republicans. McDonnell is a solid social conservative, though not in a super-demonstrative way, and the so-con card has been played against him–hard–already by the beltway media, with no result whatsoever. McDonnell is a good speaker and, beneficially, might actually be interested in the job, as he’s term limited in 2013 anyway.

Down sides: Three years as governor isn’t a lot of experience, and could be pounced on by the Obama campaign. McDonnell’s so-con stuff could be more of an issue in a national election than it was in Virginia, though it would be a stretch.

Conclusion: It’s a little early, but I think this is overwhelmed by the potential plusses. A solid choice for any northern Republican candidate looking to add some southern support.

4. Marco Rubio:

Do I really need to discuss the plusses Rubio would bring? Let me pick up on a few aside from the obvious he’s-a-ridiculously-charismatic-Hispanic-from-a-swing-state ones. He’s on the senate foreign relations committee, meaning he’ll have more of a foreign policy bent than you’d expect from a first-term senator. He actually won non-Cuban Hispanics in Florida, which might translate to greater shares of the Hispanic vote nation-wide. Finally, he would make it incredibly difficult for Obama to win Florida.

Down sides: Two years in the senate really isn’t enough time to build the kind of experience you want from a VP candidate. Also, Rubio might be a bit too Bushlike for some in the tea parties, once he moves to a national level.

Conclusion: I’d prefer to save Rubio for 2016 or 2020, but would still love him as a VP pick.

4. Pat Toomey:

His 2004 campaign was one of the first I ever worked on. He was tea party way before it was cool, but has made peace with the notably prickly PA GOP establishment. His credentials as a full-spectrum conservative are hard to beat, and he’s played an out-sized role in economic matters even as a first-termer. Oh, and he could put PA in play.

Down sides: pretty much the same as Rubio. Plus, he’s not a super-charismatic guy; more of a policy wonk (though he does fire people up).

Conclusion: Another excellent choice, but perhaps too soon.

5. Susana Martinez:

A conservative Republican, Hispanic woman governing a swingy border state, who has 52 percent approval ratings when many other newly-elected Republicans are taking it on the chin? The case for her is self-evident.

Down sides: Plucking a governor halfway through her term is risky, both for the presidential candidate and the governor’s future political career. Martinez is definitely one to watch, but should we perhaps get her reelected first?

Conclusion: I really, really like Susana Martinez, but it’s almost certainly too soon.

6. Nikki Haley:

She’s got the same plusses as Martinez, but is perhaps a shade more conservative and not from a swing state.

Down sides: The same minuses as Martinez as well.

Conclusion: I also really like Haley, but it’s probably too early, and she doesn’t seem interested.

7. Allen West:

He’s a fiery tea party sensation, African-American, with an impressive (and controversial) military background. Plus, his district could get tougher after redistricting, or cease to exist altogether. A West selection would be an instant hit with the base.

Down sides: The media attack on West would be brutal, relentless, and make Sarah Palin 2008 look like an elementary-school kick-ball game by comparison. Also, a first-term congressman is a bit thin on qualifications.

Conclusion: way too soon, but a rising star nonetheless.

8. Chris Christie:

Everybody knows Chris Christie, and why his selection as VP would be awesome.

Down sides: He really doesn’t seem interested in the slightest. Plus, we actually may need him more as governor of New Jersey than in the VP slot.

Conclusion: 2016.

9. Tom Coburn:

Mr. conservative, a dedicated spending hawk who has nevertheless demonstrated an ability to work across the isle. Has a great personal story.

Down sides: Oklahoma is pretty solidly in the red column already.

Conclusion: An excellent choice for someone like Romney, Huntsman or maybe Pawlenty.

10. Paul Ryan:

He’s super-intelligent, and has been out-front on the issues nearest and dearest to the public’s concern at the moment.

Down sides: He’s already being demagogued, and we almost certainly need him in the house more than we need him as VP.

Conclusion: He needs to fight the good fight in congress.

  4:35 pm

July 4, 2011

The Declaration of Independence

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

  8:12 am

July 1, 2011

Gary Johnson Web Ad

The Johnson campaign has literally JUST produced this video:
The spot does an excellent job of highlighting Johnson’s concrete accomplishments as Governor. If he could just get the attention and recognition he deserves, his history could really impress voters.

  10:54 pm

June 26, 2011

The Roots of Liberal Nostalgia

Over the years, I have developed an increased interest in the influence of sociological and cultural trends on politics and their varying influence on the outcomes of particular elections at different times.  An excellent piece for Sunday reading is an op-ed by the respected political analyst Michael Brone in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. Titled “The Surprising Roots of Liberal Nostalgia,” Barone succinctly explains why America was not ready to elect a pro-freedom, limited-government conservative as president in 1964 but was fully prepared to do so in 1980.  Most interestingly, Barone suggests that contemporary liberals, characterized by Obama, seem to have a longing for the unquestioned confidence in big institutions (and thus authority structures) that characterized American politics in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s:

There’s a longing on the left for the golden years of the 1940s, ’50s and early ’60s. Income distribution was significantly more egalitarian than it is today, and Americans had far more confidence in big government, the wisdom of our elected officials, and the ability of Keynesian spending policies to stimulate economic growth.

Hence the search for policies that will somehow get us back to those golden years. The Obama Democrats have been desperately trying to increase membership in labor unions, to the point of threatening to close down Boeing’s new Dreamliner plant in South Carolina. They passed an $814 billion stimulus package and ObamaCare. And they’re still itching to raise tax rates on high earners, though they botched it when they had supermajorities in Congress.

But the America of the past is a different country to which we can’t return. As Andrew Levison recently lamented in the Nation magazine: “Doubts about the ability of government to create jobs reflect not only a disbelief in Keynesian remedies for unemployment but also the profound doubts many Americans have about government in general.”

Still, liberals pine for what I call America’s Midcentury Moment. It was the product of World War II, lasting from 1940 until the mid-1960s when the wartime experience wore off and the emerging baby boomers led culture and politics in another direction. For those of us who grew up in those years, the Midcentury Moment seemed the norm in American experience. But in fact it was the result of a unique time in U.S. history, when a united nation was mobilized for total war and Americans were, literally or figuratively, put into uniform.

It started in the months before Pearl Harbor, as President Franklin Roosevelt mobilized the nation and its economy for the war he believed necessary to eradicate the scourge of Hitler and fascism. In September 1940, he signed the bill instituting the military draft. One year later ground was broken on the Pentagon, which remains the largest office building in the world. American industrial firms were enlisted into war production. Rationing began soon after war was declared. Auto production was ended, with assembly lines turning out Jeeps and tanks and aircraft.

NY Daily News via Getty ImagesGrand Central Station, 1946



Unions agreed not to strike in return for government encouragement of unionization and higher wages. Government spending rose to 40% of gross domestic product, financed partly by confiscatory taxes on high earners and even more by mass voluntary purchases of war bonds. Big government, big business and big labor all united in the effort to deliver on what Roosevelt promised in his speech one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor: “[T]he American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”

This massive mobilization reshaped our national mores for a generation in ways that we find hard to comprehend. At one time or another 16 million Americans served in the military. The equivalent proportion of today’s population would be 38 million Americans serving in the military over the next three and a half years—something none of us can imagine. Nor can we envision ourselves paying taxes at World War II rates, accepting rationing of butter and meat and rubber, doing without new cars, or putting most of our wage and salary increases into low-interest government bonds.

Only by keeping in mind those experiences can we fully appreciate the exhilaration that came from victory. In two words with catchy internal rhyme—”righteous might”—Roosevelt conflated the ideas that the American people were both strong and good.

Victory in World War II conferred enormous prestige on the leaders of the big units—big government, big business, big labor—who had led the war effort at home. No wonder that levels of confidence in the big units and their leaders remained high for a generation—higher, I suspect, than they had ever been before the Midcentury Moment and higher, certainly, than they have been since.

No wonder, also, that Americans in the Midcentury Moment were unusually conformist, content to be very small cogs in very large machines: They married and bore children at record rates for an advanced society; they worked as organization men and flocked to mass-produced suburbs; they worshipped in seemingly interchangeable churches. This was an America that celebrated the average, the normal, the regular.

The liberals who long to return to the Midcentury Moment seem to forget that it was a time of enormous cultural uniformity that stigmatized being unmarried or unchurched or gay. The huge menu of lifestyle choices from which we can choose today was a very short menu with very few choices then.

It could not last. Baby-boom children, raised in prosperity, were not content with being small units in large machines. The Berkeley student activists in 1964, before the major escalations in Vietnam, held signs reading, “Do not bend, staple, fold or mutilate”—I am not just another IBM card. The military draft, which more than anything else initiated the Midcentury Moment and was supposed to apply equally to everyone, was by 1965 so riddled with exceptions and loopholes that the sons of the well-to-do were largely exempt from military service in time of war. Similarly, the tax code in the early 1960s had enough exceptions and loopholes that high tax rates on high earners were eminently avoidable.

Vietnam, urban riots, Watergate, stagflation—all undermined confidence in big government, big business and big labor, and by the late 1970s the Midcentury Moment was long gone. It has not returned and it is hard to conceive of circumstances in which it could. Big labor is no longer big, except for the public-employee unions. Big business has been subject to enormous change to the point that the Fortune 500, fairly stable during the Midcentury Moment, has seen new firms enter and old ones disappear at record rates. As for big government, its prestige has never fully recovered, leaving the military as one of our few respected institutions and the civilian government largely concerned with transferring money from current earners to the elderly at rates that are economically unsustainable but politically difficult to alter.

So the Obama Democrats, partially successful in expanding the size and scope of government, largely unsuccessful in reviving private-sector unions, are on the defensive politically. As Mr. Levison and other liberals recognize, most Americans don’t accept Keynesian economics and don’t favor expansion of government as they did during the Midcentury Moment. Thus the Democrats’ 2012 campaign strategy seems aimed more at discrediting Republican alternatives than seeking endorsement of their own policies.

But there is a more fundamental contradiction here, for the Midcentury Moment’s confidence in big institutions was inextricably connected with an acceptance of a cultural uniformity that almost all of today’s liberals, and probably most non-liberals, would find unacceptable.

Mr. Barone is senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and co-author of “The Almanac of American Politics,” published by National Journal.


Barone’s piece tends to support a theory of mine that the roots of the Reagan Revolution  (to a reasonable degree) can be found in the rebellion of the Baby Boomers that began in the mid ’60s.

  12:51 pm
2012 Misc., Culture, Uncategorized  

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