Posts Tagged ‘democrats’

Midterms 2018

November 6, 2018

This is it. The 2018 midterm elections are today. Today the voters decide which party will have control of Congress for the next two years. At stake, President Trump’s agenda. If the Democrats manage to get a majority in both houses of Congress, Trump’s agenda will be stalled and his administration subjected to endless investigations, and possibly an attempt at impeachment. A democratic victory will be interpreted by the mainstream media as a rejection of Trump and his policies. A Republican victory will be a vindication of Trump and his policies, though I would hardly expect the mainstream media to acknowledge that.

Historically, the opposition party makes gains during the midterms, sometimes very large gains. In 1994, the Republicans gained 54 seats in the House of Representatives and 10 seats in the Senate, giving the Republicans a Congressional majority for the first time in forty years. In 2010 the Republicans won 64 seats in the House and five in the Senate. This doesn’t always happen, though. In 1998, the Democrats gained a few seats even though the Democrat., Bill Clinton was president. This was undoubtedly due to the Republican attempt to impeach Clinton that year. In 2002, the Republicans gained seats due to the aftermath of 9/11.

So, what is going to happen today? I don’t know and neither does anyone else. For whatever it is worth,here are my predictions. It doesn’t look like there is going to be a massive blue wave that is going to sweep the Republicans out of power. It seems likely that the Republicans will maintain their majority in the Senate and may possibly gain a seat or two. The House is less certain. It really could go either way. I think that the Democrats will gain seats in the House, perhaps enough to get a majority. If they do get a majority it will be by the thinnest of margins. We will see how accurate I am. Keep in mind, that I, like nearly everyone else, thought Hilary Clinton would be the president today.

If there is no blue wave, the Democrats have only themselves to blame. They should be confident of a massive victory right now. They had all the advantages going into this election and all they had to do was to be a responsible opposition party and craft a platform that would appeal to the moderates and independents. They could have highlighted Trump’s personality flaws while promoting Trumpian policies on immigration, trade and the economy. Instead, the Democrats decided to go right off the deep end. They decided to cater to their most extreme left wing base and adopt socialist ideas anathema to most Americans in flyover country. They loudly proclaimed the ridiculous meme  Trump was a Hitler clone and we were all in danger of an imminent Fascist dictatorship, while ignoring the simple fact that most Americans are better off than they were two years ago. They have made it clear that they care more about the interests of illegal aliens than American citizens and they have taken the side of millionaire athletes who disrespect the flag. Where Trump says, “Make America Great Again”, they say, “America was never great”.

The Democrats have become the party of the mob, of antifa, of rioting. They have encouraged violence and incivility against their opponents and have tried to censor speech they do not like. Worst of all, they have become the party of the busybodies, the scolds who want to tell the rest of us what size Big Gulps we are allowed to drink, what words we are allowed to use, and generally how we ought to live our lives because we are just ignorant deplorables. Is it any wonder that they are struggling when they should be coasting to victory? Is it at all surprising that groups that have traditionally been strongly democratic are starting to walkaway and exit the Democratic party?

I hope the Republicans win these midterm elections, not just for partisan reasons, but because the Democrats need to be punished for their recent excesses. They need to undergo a period of introspection to understand how and why they have managed to alienate millions of Americans. I don’t think they will, though.  If they do poorly, they will blame it all in Russian collusion or assert the system is rigged and undemocratic, and the old standby, the voters are racists.

 

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The Election of 1836

May 3, 2015

At the end of his second term as president, Andrew Jackson was still popular enough that he could have run for a third term if he wanted. Jackson decided to abide by the two term limit precedent set by the previous presidents and instead promoted the candidacy of his vice-president and hand picked successor, Martin Van Buren. It was curious choice given how very different the two men were. Jackson was a rough and ready frontiersman who had worked his way up from an impoverished youth to become a military hero. Van Buren was a smooth politician from New York who was descended from an old Dutch family. Although they agreed on most of the issues, the two men didn’t really have a lot in common. The thing that actually brought them closer together and convinced President Jackson that Van Buren was just the right man to continue his legacy was the Peggy Eaton, or petticoat affair.

Peggy Eaton was a pretty young woman from Washington D. C. who had developed a certain reputation by her teens. In 1816, at the age of 17, Peggy eloped with a thirty-nine year old Navy Purser named John Timberlake. Timberlake died at sea in 1828 and Peggy married an old friend, Senator John Henry Eaton. This would not normally be considered scandalous, except that there were rumors that John and Peggy had been somewhat more than friends and that Timberlake had committed suicide because he learned of her infidelities.

At the beginning of his first term, in 1829, President Jackson had appointed Martin Van Buren as his Secretary of State and his friend Senator Eaton as Secretary of War, and that was when the scandal broke. Peggy Eaton was accused in Washington society of being an adulteress who had married Eaton indecently quickly after the death of her first husband instead of spending a proper time in mourning. In mean girls fashion, all of the wives of the men in Jackson’s cabinet snubbed John and Peggy Eaton and get their husbands to do likewise. Vice-President John C. Calhoun‘s wife Floride was the ringleader of this clique and this, along with their differences over state’s rights led to Jackson dropping Calhoun from the ticket when he ran for his second term, since Jackson, recalling the vicious gossip about his own marriage to his beloved Rachel, took the side of the Eatons, against his whole cabinet, except for Martin Van Buren, who being a widower did not have a wife to fear.

Because President Jackson became involved the petticoat affair caused a schism in his cabinet that made it impossible to govern. Jackson was unwilling to ask his friend Eaton to resign, so in 1831, he had everyone in his cabinet resign and began again with a new cabinet. Since Martin Van Buren was the only member of the cabinet who had treated the Eatons decently, Jackson made him his vice-president for his second term  selected Van Buren as his political successor.

With Jackson’s support, Van Buren easily won the Democratic nomination for president at the convention that met in Baltimore in May 1836. For his running mate, the convention selected Congressman Richard Mentor Johnson from Kentucky. Although Johnson balanced the ticket, being from the South, and something of a war hero from the War of 1812 and the conflicts against the Indians, he was a controversial choice because he had had a longstanding affair with a slave named Julia Chinn, who he treated as his wife.

The American Second Party System was still developing in 1836. There had been some opposition to Jackson from a variety of factions and these came together to oppose Van Buren. The National Republicans from the previous election joined with state’s rights supporters and the Anti-Masonic Party to form the Whig Party. The Whig Party was only united in their opposition to Andrew Jackson and they never did form a coherent party identity before breaking up over the slavery issue. In 1836, this disparate group could not settle on a site for a national convention or a single candidate, so they nominated three presidential candidates with each man appealing to a different region of the country. First there was Senator Daniel Webster from Massachusetts. He was a supporter of Henry Clay and could win New England and the Anti-Masons. Senator Hugh White from Tennessee could attract voters from the South. Finally, there was William Henry Harrison, a Senator from Ohio and the first governor of the Indiana Territory, he was most famous for leading the military force that defeated Tecumseh’s coalition of Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Harrison, then, was a war hero who could really the West. The Whigs hoped that each candidate would be popular enough to defeat Van Buren in his region and since no candidate could gain a majority. The House of Representatives would select the new president from among the top three, presumably Whig, candidates. It was an unusual strategy that has never been tried again. Perhaps because it didn’t work.


There is not much to say about the actual campaign. There was a great deal of personal invective from both sides. The Whigs assailed Van Buren for being merely a clever politician without character or principles who was evasive on where he stood on the issues. The Whigs in the Senate, over which Van Buren presided as part of his duties as Vice-President, tried to embarrass Van Buren and arranged for tie votes, which would oblige Van Buren to cast a deciding, and possibly controversial, vote. The Democrats portrayed Van Buren as a worthy successor to Jackson and attacked the honor and credentials of the three Whigs.

In the end, the Democrats proved to be far better organized than their opponents and proved to be far better at rallying their supporters. Van Buren won the majority he needed. He won 764,168 or 50.9% of the popular vote.  He won 170 electoral votes from states all around the Union. Of the three Whigs, William Henry Harrison proved to be the most popular with 550,816 or 36.6% of the popular vote. Harrison won the mid western states Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, as well as Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Vermont for a total of 73 electoral votes. Hugh got 146,109 or 9.7% of the popular vote carrying only Tennessee and Georgia with 26 electoral votes. Daniel Webster won only his home state of Massachusetts and 14 electoral votes. Webster received 41,201 or 2.7% of the popular vote.

The Election of 1836

The Election of 1836

There was one more Whig, Willie Person Magnum who got South Carolina’s 11 electoral votes. South Carolina was the only remaining state in which the electors which selected by the state legislature rather than by popular vote.

Willie Person Magnum

Willie Person Magnum

 

There was one other oddity about the election of 1836. This was the only election in which the Senate selected the Vice President, as provided by the twelfth amendment,

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Van Buren’s running mate, Richard Johnson, proved to be very unpopular in the South because of his relationship with Julia Chenn, and 23 of Virginia’s electors who supported Van Buren refused to vote for Johnson. As a result he only received 147 electoral votes, one short of a majority. Johnson easily won the Senate vote which was along party lines 36 for Johnson to 16 for the Whig Francis Granger.

 

Some Thoughts About the Recent Controversy in Indiana

April 6, 2015

There has already been a lot written about the controversy engendered by the recent passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act here in Indiana and I don’t suppose I have much to say that hasn’t already been said. I am sorry to see my state become a front in the never ending Cultural War and I especially resent the slanders that the progressives have made about Indiana’s bigotry and backwardness. Still the experience has been edifying since the people on the left have once again demonstrated how mendacious, intolerant, ignorant, bullying, and just plain mean they are. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to their antics, but maybe those who have imagined that they could get by by minding their own business will learn better. There are a few random observations I would like to make about the whole situation. Maybe I am not the only person who has noticed these things.

I wonder if the people who have been comparing the RFRA to the Jim Crow laws of the Old South are really aware that Jim Crow did not permit racist business owners to discriminate against Blacks, they required them to discriminate regardless of what they might want. Now, of course, most White businessmen in the Old South were fairly racist and didn’t have much of a problem with segregation, but they didn’t necessarily want to discriminate against Blacks if such discrimination cost them. Owners of public transportation such as railroads didn’t particularly want the added cost of separate accommodations for Whites and Blacks. Owners of hotels and rental property found it burdensome to maintain separate facilities for Blacks and Whites.

What do you suppose would have happened if a business owner decided that due to his religious convictions it was wrong to discriminate against Blacks? Aside from from facing the full force of the law which required discrimination, it is likely that he would have lost most of his White customers. They would have boycotted him. Perhaps there would have been a campaign of intimidation led by the Ku Klux Klan to force him to comply with the local mores or close his business. Now, which side in this debate is using boycotts, intimidation, and ultimately the law to force compliance?

Am I the only one who finds the whole scenario of the gay couple walking into a bakery, florist, or wedding planner’s office, etc, asking them to provide for their “wedding” only to be refused on religious grounds and then suing the business into compliance just a little suspicious? I suspect that the majority of such businesses would have no scruples about taking their money and performing any desired service. Many wouldn’t want to be involved in any controversy. How is it then, that we keep seeing religious business owners getting into trouble? Are Christian owned businesses deliberately being targeted?  What would be the purpose of such a campaign, to provide object lessons for anyone who might not want to go along with the latest PC rules? Should I be fitted for a tin foil hat?

I would like to propose a thought experiment. Let us say there is a preacher, who we will call “Brother Bob”, who has routinely preached against homosexuality in a not very nice way. In fact, let’s say he was only a step above the Westburo Baptist Church. Now, suppose the congregation of Brother Bob’s church wanted to honor him for twenty years of service by throwing a party for him. To make the arrangements for this celebration, they go to a local caterer which happens to be owned by gay man named Jim, who finds Brother Bob’s preaching to be deeply offensive and hurtful. Should Jim be required to cater a party in Brother Bob’s honor even though it will make him feel uncomfortable?

I think that the majority of the tolerant progressives who have opposed the RFRA would say that Jim should not be forced to served Brother Bob since Brother Bob is a bigot and a hater and thus has no rights. They probably wouldn’t state their position in precisely those words, but that would be their position. The small minority who are actually able to think these things through and have some notion of adopting a consistent ideology might say that Jim should not be able to discriminate against Brother Bob regardless of his personal feelings. But why should Jim be forced to provide a service he doesn’t want to? Why should a baker be forced to bake a cake for a gay “wedding” if he doesn’t want to? Why is it so controversial to just let people mind their own business and live and let live?

The people opposed to laws like the RFRA say that they are not, in any way, opposed to religious freedom, just to bigotry. They graciously allow everyone to have their own opinion about religion provided that opinion is kept privately in the home or the church. Any attempt to live by the principles of one’s religion is only tolerated so long as the actions are in accord with progressive values. If the actions are not in accord with their values then they are bigoted and should not be permitted. Isn’t this a little like the old Soviet constitution which granted all sorts of civil rights to Soviet citizens but only so long as the use of those rights were in accord with socialism?

I wonder where all of this is going. I have to say that the hatred and disinformation directed at my state and some of the people who have only given honest answers to reporters is a little discouraging. I really don’t want to live in a country where I have to watch what I say for fear of losing my livelihood, or worse.

The Great Tsunami of 2014

November 5, 2014

I expected the Republicans to make some gains yesterday, the opposing party usually does in midterm elections. In my more optimistic moments, I even considered the possibility that there would be a Republican wave. This didn’t seem too unlikely considering the unpopularity of President Obama at the moment. My optimism was tempered by the knowledge that the GOP has an uncanny knack for screwing up elections at the last moment. Still, a wave seemed possible. I never expected what actually happened, a complete rout of the Democrats. This was not just a wave but a tsunami.

Here are some numbers. The Republicans gained at least seven seats in the Senate gaining the majority. Previously, the Democrats held 55 seats to the Republican’s 45 but now the ratio is 52 Republicans and  45 Democrats. The race in Alaska has not been called yet and there will have to be a runoff in Louisiana. Also, in Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner has apparently won reelection in a close race but his opponent Ed Gillespie has not conceded and there may be a recount. There is then the possibility of the Republicans picking up three more seats in the Senate.  In the House of Representatives the Republicans  gained 12 seats expanding their majority from 233 Republicans to 199 Democrats to 244 Republicans to 180 Democrats. This is the largest majority the Republicans have had in the House of Representatives since 1946.

 

On the state level, the Republicans have increased the number of Republican governors by two. Previously there were 29 Republican governors and 21 Democrats. Now there will be 31 Republicans and 17 Democrats. The Republicans made impressive gains in state legislatures. Of the 98 chambers, two per state (except for Nebraska which has a non-partisan and unicameral legislature), the Republicans controlled 59. Now they will control 67 chambers and in no fewer than 24 states the Republicans will control both the state legislature and the Governor’s mansion. This is the best they have done since the 1920s.Winning control of  state governments is even more significant than the federal government since most of the real “action” in law making still takes place at the state level. The national media, based in New York and Washington tends to over emphasise the importance of Washington D C and does a real disservice by tending to neglect the actions of state governments.

Mere numbers don’t tell the whole story. The Republicans made serious inroads into what should have been safe Democratic territory. There are new Republican governors in Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland. All of Arkansas’s seats in the House of Representatives are held by  Republicans for the first time in 141 years. There seem to be more Black Republicans this year. Mia Love from Utah was the first Black Republican woman in the House and Tim Scott was the first Black  from South Carolina to be elected to the Senate since the Reconstruction era. Also from South Carolina, the Indian Republican Nicki Haley was reelected. Republicans also made gains with the Hispanic vote. Perhaps the idea that the Republican Party is doomed to irrelevance because of demographics should be reexamined.Need I remind the reader that Alan West, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz are all Republican heroes despite not being White?

Well it was an amazing election, perhaps even a historical one, but I hope the Republicans don’t blow it over the next two years. They should keep in mind that 2016 could be just as bad for them as 2014 was good. In the meantime, while gloating is unseemly and I certainly shouldn’t do it, I hope I can be forgiven for enjoying what is best in life, just a little.

 

There was a lot of lamentation of Democratic women, and men, last night.

Dennis Prager the Misogynist

March 20, 2014

I got this message from the DSCC Rapid Response team.

McConnell Fundraiser: Wives have “obligation” to have sex with husbands
Automatically denounce him immediately >>

Friend — I’m absolutely disgusted: A misogynistic Republican radio host who argued that wives “ought to consent to at least some form of sexual relations as much as possible” despite their “mood” is hosting a $15,000-per-person fundraiser for Mitch McConnell today.

This isn’t the first time that this host — Dennis Prager — has been outspoken against women’s rights. Take a look:

• He said “women are not programmed to prefer a great career to a great man and a family”
• He’s denounced feminism’s “awful legacy” on women

The worst part: Mitch McConnell is raking in boatloads of money from this misogynist TODAY despite his repulsive views. This huge influx of dirty cash could cost Democrat Alison Grimes the lead in this deadlocked Senate race.

Automatically add your name: Denounce Mitch McConnell IMMEDIATELY for taking this dirty cash. Let’s get 100,000 strong against him by midnight.

Your Action History
Supporter Record: VN96C28FDA1
Last Petition Signed: October 24, 2013
This petition: (signature pending)

Right now, McConnell is trailing Grimes — McConnell (R) 42 – Grimes (D) 46 — in an incredibly close race. And Nate Silver reports that McConnell’s seat could determine control of the entire Senate. He’s desperate to stay in office, and willing to do anything to win.

But raising money with this sexist financier is simply over the line. There is NO excuse for McConnell lining his campaign coffers with a mountain of cash from someone who belittles women with such archaic views.

Take urgent action: Click here immediately to automatically sign the petition and denounce McConnell.

Thanks for your support,

Julia Ager
DSCC Rapid Response Coordinator

As a sometime listener of Dennis Prager I can attest that he is probably one of the most civilized people in talk radio. In a field full of shock jocks and simplistic ideas, Prager stands head and shoulders above many of his peers. It is therefore a little surprising to find him at the center of a controversy.

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager

As I am only a sometime listener of Mr. Prager’s show, I cannot be certain of the context of the remarks that Julia Ager finds so offensive. Based on what I know of Prager’s talk show and his weekly column, I can suppose that his crime is to state that men and women are different emotionally and so may want different things out of life. This, of course, is the worst sort of heresy to the left, which holds that men and women are precisely the same and any differences are social constructs.  Dennis Prager is a misogynist  for stating  what everyone who has ever interacted with little boys and girls, and is not blinded by left-wing ideology, can see with their own eyes.

As for the remark about wives having an obligation to have sex with their husbands, I believe that Mr. Prager is stating another obvious point that when one is in a marital relationship, your life and body are not entirely your own. You cannot simply consider your own needs, but also the needs of your spouse. The apostle Paul puts this very well, if I may use Christian scripture to defend a Jew.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Cor 7:3-5)

The idea is not that the husband owns the wife and can demand sex whenever he feels like it. Rather the husband and wife form a partnership each member considering the needs of the other. If feminism holds that marriage is a war or a system of bargaining between the man and woman or that men and women do not need each other, than it has indeed  had an awful legacy for women.

But, you see what is really going on here. It has long been a tactic of the left to announce that some conservative has gone beyond the limits of what is acceptable discourse, limits they define. That person is denounced as a bigot and a hater and all right minded conservatives are expected to share in the denunciations and shun him. Somehow nothing any liberal ever does is ever considered to be unacceptable. George Soros can bankrupt the Bank of England through currency speculation and be convicted of insider trading, yet his money doesn’t seem to be dirty. Al Sharpton has said some truly repulsive thing and has incited riots,yet Democratic politicians race to his doorstep to receive his blessing. Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy and many others can have a record of abusing women, yet they are not misogynist. People who have absolutely no shame at all ought not to be in the business of telling others what is and is not acceptable and we ought not to let let them get away with turning conservatives against each other in this way.

There is another issue here,one a little deeper than mere politics. Did you notice the words that Ms. Ager used to describe Dennis Prager’s remarks. They include, “disgusted”, “repulsive”, “sexist”, and “archaic”. Notice what she doesn’t say. Are the statements true or false? If men and women are, in fact, different on an emotional level, as Prager has said, then it doesn’t matter how repulsive or sexist his statements are, they are true statements. If they are not true statements, then why not call him out for making false statements? It is as if whether or not a statement is true, or at least whether or not it can be defended by available evidence, is of far less importance than whether a statement is progressive, or useful. The truth doesn’t seem to matter, at least not if it conflicts with ideology of political expedience.

I know that politicians and their enablers of every faction take this sort of view, to a great or lesser extent. Yet, I suspect that people on the left,with a nihilistic view that there is no truth or truth is a sociopolitical construct are far more apt to disregard inconvenient truths than others. Dennis Prager’s crime is restating some inconvenient truths.

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Rooting for a Shutdown

September 28, 2013

It is possible that we will be facing a government shutdown in the near future. Of course, the government won’t really be shut down. The essential functions of the federal government will continue to be funded. It will be interesting to see just what the government is doing that we won’t miss. It may even be that life will go on as normal, even with a partial government shut down.

In any case, Joshua Green at the Boston Globe is actually rooting for a government shutdown. He thinks that if may restore sanity to Washington. I doubt that anything could accomplish that aim. There are a couple of statements in his column that I have to take issue with.

Anyone paying attention to Washington this week has probably experienced a familiar sinking feeling: Congress is embroiled in another one of its periodic hostage-taking crises over a looming budget deadline that threatens to close the government, cost taxpayers billions, and possibly plunge the economy back into recession.

Hostage taking? Who is being held hostage? It seems to me that the government would run a lot more smoothly if politicians would stop referring to their colleagues who happen to oppose them as terrorists or hostage takers. When you start insulting people, it becomes very difficult to work together. Whatever happened to civility? Oh, I know. Civility only really meant, “sit down and shut up”.

What’s most maddening about these debates is that the 2012 election was supposed to have settled them. It appeared to do so in favor of the Democrats: Obama was reelected by 5 million votes and his party gained seats in the House and Senate. But most Republicans either ignore these results or believe that they no longer reflect national sentiment. “That was a year ago,” says Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, who wants to “defund” the Affordable Care Act. “I mean, c’mon!”

If the situation were reversed and we had a Republican president and the Democrats in Congress were opposing him, liberals would applaud the Democrats for standing up to the President’s evil agenda, while conservatives would be demanding the Democrats support the president because he won the election. The fact is that the Republicans are under no obligation to support the president’s agenda when if he had been re-elected in a landslide. At this moment, they are the opposition party. It is actually their job to oppose the president. In fact, the men who wrote the Constitution wanted something like gridlock. They didn’t want a majority to simply be able to roll over the minority nor did they want the government to be able to act recklessly.

Congress might start working again. The severity (and danger) of budget crises has steadily intensified as Congress has stopped working the way it is supposed to. It no longer operates as civic textbooks describe, where committees in both chambers study issues, pass bills, and then reconcile them in a formal negotiating conference. Instead, party leaders began resorting to last-minute, back-room deals. But Republicans, bitter about the deals they were getting, forced their leaders to stop. That led to the current system of negotiation-by-public-threat. A shutdown would be a bracing reminder to one party or the other (my money’s on the Republicans) of why the Gingrich approach failed so badly. When that lesson sinks in, the old, saner way of doing things will probably look much better.

The old, saner way of doing things is why we are in the mess we are in. The Democrats seem to think that they can just print more money and too many Republicans just don’t want to rock the boat. When a few Republican politicians actually begin to insist that the Republicans really try to keep their promises to balance the budget and decrease the size of government, they are labeled extremists and crazies and their leaders try to undercut them. It has come to the point that only drastic action, such as threatening to shut down the government is the only way to make the changes that we need. If everyone in both parties actually began to understand that we cannot keep going on the course we have been, then maybe all this drama will not be necessary and they can get to work.

 

Liberals and Conservatives

May 20, 2013

About two weeks ago, I read a column at Townhall.com by Kyle Olson, alleging that a school assignment on civics was a thinly disguised attempt at political indoctrination.

Eighth-graders in Wisconsin’s Union Grove school district were assigned to fill out a “Liberalism vs. Conservatism” crossword puzzle, and they learned some new and very questionable “facts.”

Students learned conservatism is “the political belief of preserving traditional moral values by restricting personal freedoms … ”

Conversely, they learned liberalism is “the political belief of equality and personal freedom for everyone, often changing the current system to increase government protection of civil liberties.”

The crossword puzzle was part of a civics assignment that was forwarded to EAGnews by Tamara Varebrook, a local conservative activist whose eighth-grade daughter received the lesson at Union Grove Elementary School yesterday.

Varebrook said she posted the assignment on her Facebook page to share with other parents who might not be aware of the blatant political bias and effort at indoctrination, disguised as “civics.”

“The definitions of conservatism and liberalism make me sick,” Varebook told EAGnews. “I think it’s horribly distorted and it’s biased.”

Varebrook, who serves on her local Republican Party board and has appeared in commercials promoting conservative values, said she was particularly disturbed by the definition of conservatism as “restricting personal freedom.”

“It’s insinuating conservatives don’t believe in people having civil liberties. That it’s only for old-fashioned fuddy-duddies,” Varebrook said. “That’s completely negative. It’s completely false.”

Last time we checked, it’s the big government progressives who are determined to restrict personal freedoms. You know, the bans on sugary drinks, fatty foods, snacks at school lunch time, salt intake, etc.

I am not sure if political indoctrination is the intent here, although in our public schools that is always a possibility. As far as I can tell, the definitions of liberal and conservative are accurate, at least according to the dictionary. The real problem is that the dictionary definitions of words like liberal and conservative do not do a very good job of describing American politics and are actually very misleading.

Consider the dictionary definitions. According to The Free Dictionary, to be liberal is;

a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
while a conservative is someone who is;
Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.
If you think about the history of American politics for the last few decades, it always seems to be the “conservatives who favor new ideas, while the “liberals’ always seem to be the ones who oppose any change. The conservative Ronald Reagan wanted to make changes in the tax code, etc. The liberals in Congress tried to stop him. Newt Gingrich was the conservative who wanted to change things. His opponents were the Democrats who wanted to keep things the same. The conservative George W. Bush wanted to partially privatize Social Security to keep it solvent. The liberals were determined to prevent any reform of Social Security. More recently, the conservative Paul Ryan has wanted to change Medicare and make cuts in government spending. The liberal Barack Obama wants to keep Medicare the same and continue to increase government spending. Conservatives believe that racial attitudes in America have changed sufficiently that laws passed in the Civil Rights era may no longer be necessary. Liberals shout, “affirmative action today, affirmative action tomorrow,  affirmative action forever!!!”. Obamacare is a major change in the health care system in this country, yet it seems to be a program closer to the sort of one size fits all government programs of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society or Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, than something appropriate for the post-industrial, information age, economy of the twenty-first century. It is a policy taking us back to the past rather than forward into the future.
If you go beyond dictionary definitions into the actual ideologies of liberalism and conservatism, the discrepancy becomes even clearer. Historically, liberals have believed in the rights and freedom of the individual, limited constitutional government based on natural rights and natural law, and free trade and the free market. This does not sound very much like the beliefs of contemporary liberals. Conservatives have generally emphasized tradition,religion, authority, the concept of society as an organic whole, property rights, and the concept of experience over ideology in setting policies. I am not sure that any party in America entirely subscribes to this set of ideas, not even Rush Limbaugh, who is actually a classical liberal.

That famous liberal Rush Limbaugh

That famous liberal Rush Limbaugh

I think that what has happened is that conservatives in America have become conservative about liberal values. In other words the sort of things that conservatives want to conserve as traditions and sources of authority are the classical liberal ideas of human rights and freedom. The political philosophy that has emerged from this amalgamation cannot be accurately described as either liberal or conservative. Perhaps the conservatives ought to be called conservative-liberals, or liberal-conservatives, or something like that. Libertarian would be a good title but it has already been taken by the people who want practically no government at all.
What about the “liberals”. I suppose people like Mayor Bloomberg, with his obsession over what New Yorkers eat and drink, as well as many liberals who seek to control our lives for our own good, could be seen as acting in the tradition of paternalistic conservatism. When you consider the liberal desire to prevent any serious reform of New Deal or Great Society programs, this might make sense. Still the liberals seem uninterested in conserving any part of society except for the state and they are certainly not interested in preserving traditional values of any sort. I am tempted to refer to them as Socialists, since many, if not all the people who identify as liberals prefer the widespread government control over the economy that is the aim of Socialism. Since the one value that all contemporary liberals support is the exaltation of the state or government over every other institution, perhaps “Statist” is an appropriate name for them. Since they seem to believe that every aspect of life, even the most personal, should be politicized and  under the control of government, totalitarians might be accurate.

Meat Cleaver

February 25, 2013

According to the Democrats, the round of mandatory spending cuts required by the sequester are like a meat cleaver slashing away at needed programs.

David —

If you didn’t do your job, you’d be fired.

But when Eric Cantor and John Boehner don’t do their jobs, two million Americans get handed pink slips.

Right now, House Republicans are refusing to even vote on the sequester. If they do nothing, a meat-cleaver will chop away, almost indiscriminately, at essential domestic programs and make life even harder for millions of Americans.

We can’t let that happen.

If we go over the sequester cliff on March 1st, two million jobs could be lost — including law enforcement, first responders and teachers. Essential programs for pregnant women, children and domestic abuse victims could shut their doors. And the economy could be thrown back into a recession.

President Obama made it clear: “This is not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs.”

Join the DCCC, Democratic Governors, and proud Democrats all across the country calling out Boehner and Cantor before the sequester deadline:

http://dccc.org/Stop-The-Sequester

Thanks,

Brandon

Brandon English
DCCC Digital Director

I only wish they were using a meat cleaver to cut the budget. We badly need to take a cleaver to cut spending. As it happens, the deep sequester cuts are really only cuts in the rate of spending, not actual cuts in spending. Even so, the cuts are hardly deep at all, as Veronique de Rugy explains.

Changes in spending from sequestration result in new budget projections below the CBO’s baseline projection of spending based on current law. The federal government would spend $3.62 trillion in the first year with sequestration versus the $3.69 trillion projected by CBO. By 2021, the government would spend $5.26 trillion versus the $5.41 trillion projected. Overall, without a sequester, federal spending would increase $1.7 trillion (blue line). With a sequester, federal spending would increase by $1.6 trillion (red line).

A further breakdown of the percentage of budget programs reveals that sequestration provides relatively small reductions in spending rates across the board. With sequestration, defense increases 18% (vs. 20%); nondefense discretionary increases 12% (vs. 14%); Medicare roughly increases at the same rate; and net interest increases 136% (vs. 152%).

While the sequester projections are nominal spending increases, most budget plans count them as cuts. Referring to decreases in the rate of growth of spending as “cuts” influences public perceptions about the budget. When the public hears “cut,” it thinks that spending has been significantly reduced below current levels, not that spending has increased. Thus, calling a reduced growth rate of projected spending a “cut” leads to confusion, a growing deficit, and an ever-larger burden for future generations.

Here is the graph that went with that article.

verochart500px

The so-called deep cuts that will endanger the country and put millions out of work are hardly more than a statistical error. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Obama and the Democrats are simply lying when they describe the spending cuts as indiscriminate. If anything they are not nearly deep enough. There seems to be a certain unreality in both parties of our political class. The Republicans know there is a problem and that we cannot continue to run up astronomical deficits every single year. They are so afraid of being cast as the villains who want to cut the budget to hurt the poor and provide their rich friends with tax cuts that they are afraid to make anything more than symbolic cuts in the rate of increase of spending. They are right to be wary since that is precisely what the Democrats, with their allies in the media will do, regardless of the Republican position. The Democrats, for their part, refuse to admit that there is any problem with spending that raising taxes on the 1% won’t solve. President Obama is not in the least interested in cutting spending. He seems to be more interested in redistributing the wealth of the country in ways that he considers fair than in maximizing revenue. In fact, it may not be too cynical to imagine that Obama has been deliberately increasing the deficit in order to justify the higher, fairer taxes he craves.

Since no one in Washington cares to do their job, managing the resources of the government in a responsible fashion, then I think the best bet is simply to let the sequestration cuts go ahead. There may well be people hurt by the “cuts” but we have to start cutting the budget sometime. There will be a lot more people hurt if the federal government has to start defaulting on its debts or the dollar loses its value. As far as I am concerned the blame for anyone being hurt by spending cuts lies on the people who encouraged dependency with no regard for how unsustainable this sort of spending would be in the long, or even medium term.

 

The Yankees Had Something to do With It

November 8, 2012
George Pickett wearing one version of Three Go...

The Yankees had something to do with it.

George Edward Pickett was a general in the Confederate army during the Civil War. He is most famous for leading Pickett’s charge on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. He had not been a particularly distinguished officer before the war, graduating last in his class as West Point. Still, he was capable enough to rise in the ranks and led the US forces in the Pig War with Britain. Although he personally detested slavery, he left the US Army when the South seceded in order to defend his home state of Virginia. He was promoted to general in 1862 and commanded a division under General Longstreet at the Battle of Gettysburg.

On the third day of the battle, General Lee decided launch a full scale attack on the center of the Union lines. He hoped that the previous days’ attacks on the Union flanks had drawn enough soldiers away to make it possible for the Confederates to smash through the center and defeat the Northern forces. Lee ordered three division to make the attack, Pickett’s division and two others led by Generals J. Johnston Pettigrew and Isaac R. Tremble. These last two divisions had already fought and were under strength but Pickett’s division was fresh. After a two hour artillery barrage, the three divisions attacked

At first the gamble seemed to be succeeding. Although Pettigrew and Tremble’s divisions did not get very far under the Union fire, Pickett’s division attacked the Union lines and a brigade led by General Lewis Armistad actually  managed to break through temporarily, but the Union’s position was too strong and when the Union soldiers rallied, they massacred the Confederates. Pickett managed to survive and when he made his way back to Lee, Lee asked him about the condition of his division and Pickett replied, “General, I have no division”.

Many years later, Pickett was asked why the South lost the Battle of Gettysburg. Should Lee have disposed his forces differently? Should the attack have begun earlier or later? After thinking about the question for a while, Pickett finally said, “I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it”.

As we go over the details of the results of the last election and try to figure out what we did wrong to cause our loss, let us not forget the possibility that the Democrats may have had something to do with it. It is possible that Obama won simply because he ran a better campaign. That is not to say we don’t have anything to learn from this defeat so that we can do better, but perhaps we should study what the Democrats did right as much as what we did wrong.

 

Election Day

November 6, 2012

I have just gotten home from voting. As usual, I voted an almost entirely Republican straight ticket. To be honest, I wish there were good people in both parties that I could support, but the Democrats have turned so far into Leftist ideology that even the decent people among them running for office simply cannot be trusted to behave decently. In any event, I voted for Mitt Romney for President, Mike Pence for Governor, and Richard Mourdock for Senator, along with the Republican candidates for Congress, State Legislator, and various local offices. There were four judges asking to be retained. I voted no for all four.

I have to say that I am very anxious about this election. I do not see how our country will survive another four years with Obama as President. I wish I knew who will win, but I simply have no idea.

 


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