Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pre-Primary 2016 Ramblings

It's been a while.  I am trying to have a positive impact on the 2016 election, by resisting the polarization within the primary process.  Sure, I support my guy, and I am a member of a major party. But I am not saying that any other choice beside mine is fatal to the cause. Since it is before the first primary or caucus, things could change and I don't want to have to walk back any statements about other candidates.
What I am also bumping into is that on Facebook, when I post something, there is a lot of noisy feedback, and often the points get lost in the ensuing debate. This may be intentional, but this is not my intention. Another point is that I base my decisions on my Christian worldview, and sometimes this causes a lot of feedback. I need to stand firmly and confidently upon my choices, and to do so, they must be well thought out, and considered before being published. Perhaps I will use this blog as a point to launch and to test such positions first.

Monday, April 11, 2011

After the 2010 Budget Compromise

They say that Politics is the art of Compromise. Well, that may well be the problem! We in-artfully compromise, and get screwed by shrewd Democrats. We need to be tough, and get tough with those who would spend our country into oblivion. For example, what we need is better strategy. I like Mike Steele, but if he's helping craft the GOP messaging, we might need some young guns in the GOP HQ message-crafting office instead. The first thing we need to do is to NOT rule out a government shutdown. Even the threat of it helps negotiate a better deal. Second, we need to close all of our primaries, so only GOP can vote in them. No more outside influences on our primaries. Third, we need to pass a military funding bill that appropriates the defense budget separately, and for the rest of the year and pass it in both the House and Senate. Fourth, we need to reclaim the idea that we are cutting the PPACA (Obamacare) because it has been ruled unconstitutional twice. We didn't lose much in 1996 (2 house seats?! That's all!), and we held the House and Senate until 2006. Sounds like a fair trade to me. Finally, we just have to keep any shutdown focused on the issues, not on personalities; ours or theirs. The president would love to demagogue the shutdown, but if we stand confidently, firmly, cheerfully and refute their lies and distortions, the president will not get much credit. In fact, it will become obvious that the president is standing in the way of those working on serious spending reductions, and it will help any good GOP 2012 candidate who clearly articulates the responsible policies and reasons for them. There is enough alternate media out there to reach the moderates who truly love our country and its freedoms, and the seniors who will not be hurt by the Ryan Road-map to Prosperity spending reductions.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What are we Doing in the Middle East?

This article in The Hill linked above makes us as a nation seem rudderless, leaderless, and aimless. It leads to the question "What are we doing in Libya?" If we did not go into Libya based on any sense of precedent or consistency, then why did we go? Are we going to keep making unprecedented decisions that use our borrowed money, risk our precious lives, and are short-sighted, in that they are only based on best achieving our interests (which, without using precedent or consistency can be nothing but short sighted)? This is really disturbing to me.
The seeming confusion reigns up to now, with the President due to finally make a speech about why we went into Libya, and how things are going there. The article goes further to suggest that it is likely Mr. Obama will not lay out any foreign policy that would define "any doctrine encompassing the administration’s philosophy for intervening in foreign conflicts." This seems like the perfect time to do so, since there are several other countries with similar uprisings happening right now in that very region. I hope our press is downplaying hopes so that when the President does outline a consistent, thoughtful strategy that keeps American interests first and foremost, we will be pleasantly surprised. I will be relieved if he does lay out some sort of philosophy that can be used to foreshadow out military involvement in any other countries in the region, because if not, he will have to once more come before us and Congress, and make basically the case for whatever other intervention he chooses to make.

One thing that needs to be said, though it seems obvious to me is that the President should be a leader, have a plan ahead of any invasion, and get the American people on-board for any future invasions or "kinetic military actions" that risk American lives and treasure. Giving a speech a week or two after military action has begun seems like following, not leading. Being a leader entails risk, but also yields big rewards. In this case, the risk is that some may not be on board with the military action, but the reward is that our mission is defined, and with a coherent strategy and public voice, the nation will be behind whatever action is taken. Such leadership could also go far toward showing that our President is a leader, and that he deserves to be re-elected. By putting forth a philosophy or doctrine, our friends and enemies can take note and respect our position, even if they disagree with it. It would help to stabilize the world money and oil markets, as well, keeping the price of gas from going higher. With such a strategy publicly stated, our President could then leave the details unspoken, and keep our enemies more afraid of us, because we could then take any tactical action we deem necessary to protect our national interests.

That leads to another point: we need to clearly define our national interests both in Libya, and elsewhere. For example, I don't consider a life lost to a dictator in Iran any less valuable than one lost to a dictator in Libya. Nor are they less valuable in Syria, so if the point is to stop genocide, let's broaden our scope to take on all similar deadly dictators. If the lives of Innocent people plus oil interests in a country are the real motivation, then let's say so, and define where those interests lie. This line of reasoning sounds cold and cruel, but it more sounds even cold and capriciously cruel to me to pick one genocide over another to use our military might to stop. Then we truly are playing God, not just looking out for our vital national interests.

The final point is the concept of vital national interests. Our President needs to define for us what he considers our vital national interests in Libya, and elsewhere. What makes an interest "vital" is that if we do not address it, it will pose a direct threat to the lives of Americans. That threat must be against our citizens lives, our sovereignty, our national security, or have a severe impact on our economy, such that it would weaken our country. An argument could be made for other wars, such as WWII, where Japan attacked our sovereign territory, and Hitler stated and demonstrated that he intended to rule the world. It was a little less clear in Vietnam, though you could point to the attacks on our military people in the Gulf of Tonkin. Gulf War I was about Iraq invading a sovereign country and threatening our oil supplies, both from Iraq with Kuwait, and from Saudi Arabia. If Iraq had been able to take over the Middle East, it would have had a severe economic impact on our country, and made us more vulnerable to other hostile nations. Gulf War II was the result of Saddam Husein threatening our allies in the region again, and the attack on our homeland by Al-Qaeda from his base in Afghanistan.
In each case listed, there have been anti-war protesters, and detractors who don't believe there was justification for those wars. Truth be told, they probably would have been against any and all wars. I therefore discount all of those detractors, who are a loud, but small minority. Our President came before the American people and addressed our imminent entry into each of those wars before we sent anyone into war. In each case, even if I did not buy into the reasoning of the President, there was a national speech and some national political dialogue about going to war. In the case of this Libyan "kinetic military action", however, this has been sorely lacking. We have heard conflicting objectives such as
  • "Kadhafi must go"
  • "Regime change in Libya is not our objective."
  • "It's time for Qaddafi to step down."
  • "We will impose a no-fly zone"
  • "Our aircraft have targeted tanks and forces loyal to Kadaffi."
  • "There will be no 'Boots on the ground'".
  • "Our rescue teams have recovered the pilots who ejected from their F-15 Fighting Eagle."
So what will we get tonight from our President? We'll see.

Party Politics in Blacks and Whites

I was following up on a thread in FB where a respondent asked the question why does it seem black Conservatives are no longer considered black? This was based on a statement in the linked video where the Rev. said that he had to convince people that yes indeed, he is still black.

I think there is a media blackout on both the conversions to the Republican Party, and on the doubts people in "the black community" have regarding the positions and effectiveness of the Democrat party. This fits neatly into a cultural difference, which is that blacks tend to place higher priority on and commit to personalities and "the group" than on their principles, while whites largely place higher priority on principles than on a person or group. Thus the media can be largely successful in herding blacks into the Democrat party by creating the perception that "their group" (the Dems) is where they are, where they belong, and that "the other guys", (GOP) is against them. Never mind that blacks' social beliefs more closely align with "the other guys", it's about staying with "our party". For example, in 1992, I campaigned for the GOP up and down the ticket, but when I went to the election night party, I felt a bit out of place. I soon left, and stopped by the Democrat election night watch party, where they made me feel right at home, assuming I was on their side. It didn't make me switch parties or anything, but I determined that we need to make all feel welcome and valued in the GOP. Still a lot of work to be done!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

President Obama at Chamber of Commerce 2/7/11

I listened to the speech, and here is one thing that popped out at me: He referred to FDR marshaling business leaders in the late 1930's to change over to making war materiel, and that they had the greatest expansion ever known. He said that we can do it again. The elephant in the room is that they had a war coming on, one for national survival, and we do not. We only have big spenders who won't reign themselves in, spending us into oblivion. I feel another observation coming on... in my next comment.

Jobs trail demand, in the economy. When the economy picks up, jobs will be required, and they will be added. What our President suggested and requested was production before demand. That's against the "just in time" models we implemented in the 1990's, and is a high-risk approach for business. It won't happen, unless we lose our business minds (in which case, it might as well not happen at all).

One last thing: He also lamented that technology is created here, then built overseas. Very good observation. What he fails to address is why. The reason is cost: if cost for labor, regulatory compliance, healthcare, etc. is higher here than overseas (not to mention wages), any smart business will get things made where it costs them less, even considering shipping and customs/local taxes. He did address regulations, but left loopholes so big as to render his proposals ineffective, since most of the regs were put in place for "good reasons". Those reasons are still there, so the regs will stay, no matter how crippling they are to business and jobs.

A guy named James wrote this in reply:
I'm surprised(not really because the government never takes direct routes toward a solution or takes the common sense action) that with the call from both sides to cut spending that they haven't made the decision to sit down and go through ...every single entity that the government spends money on and see where things can't be cut. Several duplicate or even triplicate agencies exist doing basically the same thing. Cut one or two of those agencies and make the one left over more efficient.

I believe they need to do the same thing with each regulation they put into effect as well. In fact, each and every thing the government does at any time needs to be revisited every five or ten years to make sure the reason for it's implementation is still justified and that it is doing what it is supposed to do without harming anyone or anything.

Government's basic job is to ensure protection from enemies foreign and domestic. Then there is the job to ensure the greater good is protected in this country.
Taxing the crap out of anyone in this country isn't exactly providing for the greater good because even the millionaires and billionaires are citizens in this country. They have the power and resources to take their money elsewhere, as we have seen.

So I replied this:
James, you must understand Obamaspeak. When he talks about getting rid of useless regulations, consider what "use" he might consider enough to keep it. If milk is considered as dangerous as petroleum, then the EPA can impose the same rules... on dairy farmers as on Exxon for storage of their products. If a regulation has the effect of redistributing wealth, it is therefore useful (to Obama). If a regulation has the effect of stopping burning of anything, which he considers to be warming the atmosphere, that Reg is thus useful.

When it comes to cutting spending, there is the baseline, and that is a projected growth based on last year's budget, plus inflation. Then they talk about cutting from that, or any increase. One other key thing is that Congress critters always want to cut the other guy's program, not their own. When you replace the Constitution with Congressional whims, there is no consistent basis for justifying spending. Thus, whoever is in power will spend whatever they can get passed and signed into law. If we get back to basics, and follow the Constitution, what we spend our tax dollars on will become clear, and the budget will shrink, because the Constitution doesn't provide for so many things we spend our money on now. Both parties are guilty of this type of spending, which is why there is a popular uprising against both parties in our country.

FB Reponses could be Posts

I spend a lot of time replying to people on Facebook. That time is spent on writing these detailed posts that get lost in the ether. If I post a reply that is longer than a sentence or two, I might as well start it as a post her eon my blog. Then you can have a single place to review and peruse my thinking on various subjects.

Yes, it might be messy, and yes, it might be disjointed. But with this, I can go back and edit posts, and perfect them as I either get more detail, or those brilliant afterthoughts that often come to me hours or days after my initial response. I might also start throwing some pix in here, like those I took around the tailgating for the Superbowl.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union

This is what I wrote during the 2010 State of the Union as my first attempt at "Live Blogging". I am going back and cleaning it up over the next few days, so bear with me.

Populist Theme

A government of decency is what we need. Rails against the bank bailout. It's clearly an attempt to get on the people's side.
Demonize the banks - This is a slight of hand, as only those banks who have not paid back teh money should be paying this, but he is talking about getting money back from all big banks, even those who have already paid their money back. This will not fly with most Americans, because we are not stupid!

He listed a host of groups for whom he cut taxes 8 million - He sounds again like a Republican, boasting about all the groups that "got cuts". Does this mean that there are no tax increases coming?

I think that he was expecting applause from GOP. Got a tepid bit. I suspect this was not on the teleprompter, because his tone changed, his timing changed, and then reverted when he moved on.
He emphasized that they have not raised income taxes - not a single dime! The taxes have not gone into effect yet might be a better way to put it. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire is a tax increase, and they expire this year.

He praised the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the jobs it has created. Economists on both left and right agree it is helping. He feels our pain, but how can that be if we are out of the recession? But more must be done, so that's why jobs must be our focus in 2010, so he called for another new jobs bill tonight. Harry Reid was bored, yawned around this time.

He acknowledged that the engine of job creation will always be America's businesses, and says Government can create environment where they can grow. He even explained that entrepreneurs make money and grow the economy by taking risks. Banks are lending to big business, but not small. Small business owners need help, so he proposes to use $30B of TARP for community banks to encourage loans. Is it legal to use TARP money without further approval from Congress? Small business tax credit proposed.

He proposed to eliminate capital gains taxes for all small business, then rushed through a laundry list of tax cuts for big business. They sounded like nuanced, targeted, and limited cuts, not general cuts so everyone could benefit. Also, if he was excited about this proposal, he would have spent more time on it, not rushed through it. I doubt the Democrats support this initiative, let's wait and see.

He then moved on to propose a high-speed rail corridor with more TARP funds. He said that would create jobs and improve our infrastructure. He did not mention waiving the environmental studies, or any other regulations that will delay the implementation of all such major building projects. this sounded good, but these types of projects take years to design and approve, purchase land, and decades to complete.

He mentioned clean energy jobs, as a way to keep us ahead, and keep jobs her in the USA.

He proposed to cut taxes for companies that keep jobs here, and slash tax breaks for those that ship them over seas. This is easier said than done, because it is the many taxes and regulations here that drive companies (read jobs) off-shore. How can we remove those regulations and axes for those who stay here? House supposedly has already, and he wants the Senate to do the same.

Here he tried to channel Bill Clinton, and explain how he felt their pain. He challenged the Congress to put a bill on my desk right away, though even that won't make up for 7 million jobs lost.

He says (but doesn't explain exactly how) this recovery won't be like the expansion in "the lost decade", the 2000's won't be duplicated. No bubble, no speculation. He seems to blame risk taking for the recent recession, though the risk was both facilitated and encouraged by the federal government. He says that gridlock not good. We can't put future on hold. He says we have been waiting for decades, but China is not waiting, Germany is not, India is not waiting to improve their education. They are making more investment in math, infrastructure, etc, so should we. He says he will not accept 2d place for the USA. This is his justification to keep on spending on things he thinks are necessary. This is a weak argument to me, because if we are drowning in debt, no matter how good our infrastructure is, we will fail. Also, we used to spend less than we do now, and we got good education, so money is not the key to better education.

It was a bit unusual to hear him criticize a Supreme Court decision. Alito said "no way, not true" when President Obama mentioned corporations, even foreign corporations will have undue influence on the elections by pouring money into campaigns. He must not have read the decision, because the decision did not allow donations to campaigns, only that corporations could spend money on candidates and issues directly, not to campaigns. I have to agree with Justice Alito.

Now he says it is time to get serious about things that do financial reform. He claims it is not about punishing banks, but rather to guard against same recklessness that nearly brought down our economy. Can't allow banks to take risk with your money. It's the main theme of populism, We vs. them, and he tries to sound tough by saying forcefully that he won't sign bill if it doesn't provide true reform.

He claims that in 2009 he made the largest investment in green technology, and there is no area better than energy. He pointed to a NC company that makes batteries, a Ca company that makes solar cells, he suggests building nuclear power plants (GOP cheered) open new off-shore oil and gas drilling, invest in clean coal technology, bio fuel, and even cap & trade. He think climate change (Laughter) incentives are the right thing to do, and we can lead the global economy by doing the most in these areas. I thought cap & trade was dead, and discredited.

He wants to export more of our goods, so we can support more jobs in our country. He amorphously says he wants to double exports in 5 yrs, to create more jobs. Doesn't exactly say how, but it sounds good. Details include reform of export controls consistent with security concerns. He says he will make our trade partners play by the rules (what does that mean, if they have different rules in their country?). He says he will expand on the Doha agreement, with South Korea, Panama, and others. No details here, so I doubt it will get done.

He plans to invest in new skills through education. We must reward success, instead of rewarding failure or status quo. The best anti-poverty program is world class education. This is nice sounding pious words, but without details and broad support, nothing will get done on this initiative either.

Eric Lamont Hill seems to be out in audience.

He proposes a $10k tax credit for families for 4 yr college education. When they graduate, they will only have to pay 10% of their income if they choose a public career, and will be forgiven the balance in 10 years. This type of targeted benefit is not generally helpful, and will not restart the economy. It will play to a sliver of the population.

increase retirement deductions, so we can step up nest eggs.

To relieve the burden on middle class, still need HCR. big cheers.

clear a few things up: didn't choose to tackle HCR for politics. Rather, because of those who are at risk of losing their coverage. protect us from worst practices of HC insurance cos. Michelle O, (he rushed thru that part). same story as before, keep HCI, keep docs, nothing new here.

still, it's complex, and he takes his share of the blame, and with all the lobbying, horse trading, what's in it for me? more would have lost their HCC, premiums go up, lose coverage, all the bad stuff he always says. He won't walk away, neither should those in that chamber.

so as temps cool, look again at plan they proposed. solicited more input. but let us finish the job (effectively shutting out GOP ideas now). Reduce our deficit, but it's not enough to dig us out of the hole we are in.

At 2000, budget surplus. $1T when he came in. 2 wars, expensive drug program, tax cuts. Slamming GOP, essentially. blaming Bush for his adding $1T to national debt. says we must tighten our belts, as people do in families. Proposing specific steps to pay for debt. freeze for 3 yrs.

Now the loopholes: entitlement not included, will use veto if necessary to enforce. continue to go line by line? when did they start it? please!!

cutting tax cuts for wealthy people (oil people, CEO's, rich). Can't just be a gimmick, so restore pay-go in senate.

tried that, helped get us into this crisis. Rather than fight same battle, try something new. He is calling his idea common sense, a novel concept. he is facing a deficit of doubt. must close credibility gap.

I believe he is causing the C gap. he talks about bi-partisan, and posting all earmarks online. I thought they were going to end earmarks?

He says he's not naive? please! Always will be philosophical differences. Must not block just because they can? Can't run a political campaign every day? then when will he stop doing so?

Saying things that are not true is not ok. election year, the spirit of campaign fever is here. Must solve problem, Democrats, not run for the hills. if GOP insists that 60 votes r needed, they must take responsibility too now. No GOP clapping.

This week, he will address GOP - wants it to be monthly. joke fell flat (may not have been on teleprompter.

not interested in re-litigating the past. committed to our country's defense. let's leave that all behind, and make things better for the world. He must have been talking about the prosecution f the Bush team.

Now he claims he is fixing gaps revealed by the Xmas day bomber. Killed many Al Qaeda leaders. reward good governance, and rights of all Afghans. smattering of clapping.

Promises to end this war, will have all combat troops out by this August, and will support that Iraqi govt for the promotion of regional peace. Big clapping.

Tonight all our men/women in uniform have to know that they (didn't read it right) have our support. We will support them when they come home. why we made largest increase in Veterans n decades. I notices he stumbles a lot in this section of the speech. It is not a natural topic for him.

will bring 44 nations together here to work on nuclear weapons. Hinting at Iran, talking about isolating them. Promises they will face growing consequences. Engagement to sustain lasting global recovery. Climate change. DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TO FEED THEMSELVES.

We stand with FREEDOM ABROAD, AND AT HOME. UNITY IN DIVERSITY, DRAWING ON the promises enshrined in the Constitution. Once again prosecuting civil rights violations. Strengthened laws to protect right, will work with Congress to repeal laws that kick gays from military.

Equal pay
immigration laws. tepid clapping.

immigrants are same as rest of us. not GOP or Dem values, are American values.

Again with the divisive caricatures of the bankers, the CEOs that take advantage fo the folks.

Not sure if they believe in "Change we can believe in", but he can't do it alone. People are losing confidence in him. He's challenging people to make decisions to do what is needed to keep the dream alive for their kids & grandkids. (quiet as a pin drop). Admin has had setbacks, but optimism in core of American people lives on. lives on in htose whose' neighbors who are still employed. All the Americans that helped in Haiti, those who didn't know. (still quiet for pin drop).

we don't quit, I don't quit, let's carry the dream forward.

70 minutes of speech. Now to go back and clean up what I wrote.
Blame Bush for every thing bad, and reject GOP solutions.
Channeled Clinton in "I feel your pain".
Cap & Trade still a priority.
Healthcare reform still needs to get done, can't jsut drop it for fiscal.
Cut taxes on 95% of Americans, not raised taxes one dime.
Green jobs.
Gays in military acceptance openly.
End war in Iraq.
Education reform.
Doubled down on the existing positions, no pivot or move to the center.

Missing themes/mentions:
  1. Apology for anything. Accepting his share of blame is not an apology.
  2. Decision to charge Christmas Day Underwear Bomber as criminal.
  3. Closing Gitmo.
  4. Plan to recover bailout money form auto makers, and to spin them off from Government ownership.
  5. Police who took down Hassan (shooter) at Fort Hood. They were next to Michelle Obama in gallery.
  6. Israelis who helped much in Haiti. Were not in the list.
Republican Response

many blacks in background at VA House chamber.
jobs are top priority.

Don't pile on regulation to kill jobs.
Refers to Tho. Jefferson in beginnign, and often.
Jobs lost last year, debt to double in 5 yrs, triple in 10.

Freeze is laudable, but must reconsider proper role and level of government at every level.
excessive govt threatens our future.

relsuts, not srhetoric.

Much common ground:
HC system - don't turn it over to the fed govt.
GOp has plan to do common sense reforms,
by acros state lines,
tort reforms,
our proposals are available online: FB, twitter.
Blessed with vast naturala resources, must use all.
can agree on nukes, but not cap n trade.
now is time to lower energy prices and create jobs.

education: much agreement here.
need t compete in global economy.
child's intellect, not zip code determines results.

military. agree on 30k to Afghanistan

Scott Brown said: "we should not be spending our tax dollars to defend terrorists, but rahter to defeat them".
disagree with treating as criminals terrorists. as Scott Brown said. big applause.

can't guarantee outcomes, btu can guarantee opportunities.

Many americans are concerned abotu greater control bu feds on business, so top down control should not be expanded. govt closer to the people governs best. big applause.

freely choosing to help is best, thanx for compassion for HAITI.

some are afraid not land of promise. where opportunity is absent, create it.
where limited, expand it, where denied, open it to all.

forefathers pledged their lives, fortunes, sacred honor. we shoudl do the same.

Joe trippi:
went to American people with not quitting.
pivoted against Washington, though he IS Washington.
He will run against Washington this year.

put Gop on the mark, will have to take sides.
took on GOP
Obama will see more partisanship from GOP

In a word: lecture. not leading.
fundamental disconnect between what people are expecting and what he is doing.
He could have implemented these common sense reforms last year, but didn't.
Drilling offshore is now his idea, though it was a GOP idea for long time.

Steve Hayes:
dignity for countries, but what about Iran last year?