The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A blog post that surprised me

We are familiar with the Obama administration's push to raise taxes on “the wealthy,” and specifically his insistence on repealing some of the income tax cuts instituted in George W. Bush's Presidency. So I was surprised, in the process of looking at other blogs this morning and following links from blog to blog, to find a blog called “SayAnythingBlog.com,” on which a posting, by Rob Port, appeared today called “Social Security And Medicare Doing More To Promote Income Inequality Than The Bush Tax Cuts.” In it I read that:

…House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, in a 17-page paper based largely on a Congressional Budget Office analysis of income trends between 1979 and 2007, has [made the case that the Republican proposals would better address income inequality than the Democrats'].

Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, makes the point that the government redistributes income not only through taxes but also through transfer payments, including Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, and unemployment benefits. The CBO study helpfully measures income, adjusted for inflation, after taxes and after such transfer payments.

Many may find the results of the CBO study surprising. It turns out, Ryan reports, that federal income taxes (including the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit) actually decreased income inequality slightly between 1979 and 2007, while the federal payroll taxes that supposedly fund Social Security and Medicare slightly increased income inequality. That’s despite the fact that income tax rates are lower than in 1979 and payroll taxes higher.

Perhaps even more surprising, federal transfer payments have done much more to increase income inequality than federal taxes. That’s because, in Ryan’s words, “the distribution of government transfers has moved away from households in the lower part of the income scale. For instance, in 1979, households in the lowest income quintile received 54 percent of all transfer payments. In 2007, those households received just 36 percent of transfers.”


In fact, the blog post summarizes this effect:

In effect, Social Security and Medicare have been transferring money from low-earning young people (who don’t pay income taxes but are hit by the payroll tax) to increasingly affluent old people.


Interesting. Now I am one of those “old people,” receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits, though I am hardly affluent. (The Clinton presidency impoverished me — he canceled the Strategic Defense Initiative, alias “Star Wars,” which funded the job I was working at in 1994; from 1994 to 1998 I was unemployed, unable to get a job, and since then I've never had the kind of good jobs I'd had in the years prior to 1994, though I've managed to get out of total poverty into a more “normal” existence.) But I imagine there are “affluent” Social Security and Medicare benefit recipients, so I cannot argue with Port's posting. Do you think anyone can enlighten those Democrats who insist that “the ‘Bush tax cuts’ must go”?

Monday, November 28, 2011

A continuation of yesterday's post

Yesterday I made a post that left out one point that I meant to make, but forgot when I entered it into the system.

Certainly one person who has been given license to do “Christian things” is S. Truett Cathy. To those who do not know the name, he is the founder, and still in charge, of Chick-fil-A restaurants. He has steadfastly maintained a policy that not only the locations he owns, but all his franchisees, close on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath. His company's web site says it is because “He believes that all franchised Chick-fil-A Operators and their Restaurant employees should have an opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so.” But what if one of his franchisees is Jewish, and worships on Saturday? Mr. Cathy does not contemplate this.

Since Mr. Cathy is a private citizen, of course, he has every right to impose such a condition on his franchisees. And I, in turn, have every right to personally boycott Chick-fil-A. As I do.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What threat?

My blog, for some reason, gets very few comments posted, though I certainly would be happy to see more of my readers comment on my posts. One person who has commented in the past uses the pseudonym Asclepius, and he recently posted a comment on my recent post on separation of “church and state.” You can read his entire comment, but the most important point I think to consider in his comment was the following:

So your experience justifies what most Christians would contend: there should be no compulsion to participate in x, y, or z; but at the same time, that acknowledgment should not serve as a threat to those who do wish, in some way, to participate in Christian things, public or otherwise.


I wrote a reply to his comment, but I thought it really ought to be expanded upon, and this post is intended as a follow-up to my reply to Asclepius' comment as well as an extension of the ideas I expressed in my original posting.

I would not challenge Asclepius' statement that “there should be no compulsion to participate in x, y, or z; but at the same time, that acknowledgment should not serve as a threat to those who do wish, in some way, to participate in Christian things,” but I do not see where any such threat exists. In fact, if anything, “those who do wish… to participate in Christian things” are granted more license than necessary. Many public ceremonies begin with an invocation, generally given by a Christian clergyman. Our coinage and currency bears the motto “In God we trust,” which I as a Jew find acceptable, but which offends my atheistic friends. Back when I was in grade school, they added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance; again, I as a Jew have no problem with these words, but my atheistic friends have different thoughts on the matter. We have elected a black President, but we have never elected a Jewish (or Muslim, Hindu, or atheist) President.

Whenever a court has blocked “participat[ion] in Christian things” it has been because these “Christian things” would involve non-Christians as well, and would involve “compulsion to participate in x, y, or z,” which Asclepius admits is undesirable. School prayer, for example, has been abolished, a good thing because even if some students were able to opt out, the peer pressure against “being different” is great in school-age children. Sitting down when everyone in class is standing up (or leaving the room) calls uninvited attention to the child, and this alone serves as “compulsion to participate in x, y, or z.”

So I wonder what Asclepius really meant by his comment. Perhaps he sees some of these things differently from me, but I'd love to see where.

Friday, November 25, 2011

It is just not going to happen!

Although the post was made ten days ago, I just read it today. Michael Medved wrote a posting on The Daily Beast blog, entitled “Obama Should Name Unity Government to Tackle Financial Crisis.” Really, what he advocates is that President Obama should replace Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner by someone who might be respected by the Republicans, someone like Steve Forbes or former New Hampshire senator Judd Gregg (who was actually offered a Cabinet post by Obama, but at the far less prestigious Commerce Department). Well, Mr. Medved might be right in that such appointment would signify that President Obama would be willing to abandon hyper-partisanship in favor of problem solving. But the reason that won't happen is that this is not true: President Obama is not at all willing to abandon hyper-partisanship. It is his stock in trade. It would be the equivalent of Nancy Pelosi, two years ago, offering to share some of the Speaker's prerogatives with John Boehner. It has about as much likelihood as that of Obama resigning as President, or declining to be nominated in favor of Hillary Clinton, even though I've actually seen suggestions that he do the latter.

Barack Obama is the most egotistical President we have had in my lifetime, probably the most egotistical President we have ever had. He simply believes he is certain to find, on his own, the solution to all our money problems, and he is not about to show a trace of compromise here. Michael Medved obviously does not understand what makes Barack Obama tick, if he makes a proposal like the one he made.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A personal story, to explain my vehemence on the "separation" issue

One thing I consider very important, and which colors a lot of my attitudes toward specific politicians, is the issue of “separation of church and state” eapecially in its relationship to “freedom of religion.” And behind this is my own experience, so I think I should supply a personal self-portrait as this issue relates to me.

At the age of nine, I moved to a new home in New York City, at the opposite end of the Borough of Manhattan from where I had been living for the preceding few years. I had to start in a new school, of course, and there were two factors that affected my situation at that school for the three years that I went there.

First, I was something of a “brain” — I was nine, but I was in sixth grade, among mostly 11-year-olds. And second, I was a good singer. I had a boy soprano voice, and I sang well enough that I was in demand at the school to sing before other classes than my own. Perhaps if YouTube had existed in those days, I might have become the Justin Bieber of the 1950s (though, actually, years younger than Bieber was when he was discovered!), but in those days, I was only a celebrity at Public School #7 in the Bronx. (Yes, I lived in Manhattan, but so far north that my local school was over the line in the Bronx.) My singing made me an instant favorite of the school's music teacher, and in seventh grade a year later, I was in her official class and she took a special interest in me, teaching me a number of songs on a one-to-one basis.

Then, along came Christmas. I balked at singing songs with words like “Oh come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.” And this got me in trouble with my official-and-music teacher, an Irish Catholic who failed to see that, to a Jewish boy like me, these words were blasphemy. (I don't know if, at age 10, I knew the word “blasphemy,” but you get the idea.)

From that point on, I went from being a favorite of my teacher to being dirt. She and my eighth-grade official teacher actually conspired, in my eighth-grade year, to try to keep me from graduating! (The problem with the eighth-grade teacher didn't involve religion. I simply didn't like history, and history was her favorite subject!)

With this kind of background, I almost became strongly prejudiced against Irish Catholics. The only thing that prevented that was another teacher, clearly just as Irish (his name was McCarthy!) who I had for science in seventh grade. He was really not a science teacher: he was a gym teacher who was also pressed into service as a science teacher. And he knew that I actually knew more science than he did, so the classes were usually something like Mr. McCarthy starting the class with a general mention of the topic, and then I was pitched questions and really this 10-year-old, whose voice hadn't changed yet, conducted the class! It was Mr. McCarthy who suggested I apply to a special scientific high school when I was in eighth grade, and when I did, my eighth-grade official teacher ridiculed me. She conducted special sessions for the kids in her class who had applied to the specialized high schools, and I was not permitted to attend. But I got my revenge. I was the only person in her entire class who passed the entrance examination!

But that is a digression. The point is that my refusal to sing Christmas carols jeopardized my graduation. And so my sympathies automatically lie with those who would challenge Christian domination of the rest of us. I hope this explains my stance on this issue.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

David Frum's interesting ideas

I often read David Frum's FrumForum blog. AS lot (not all, mind you) of his ideas, I share, and so I have marked his blog on this one as one warranting your reading. But the latest posting by Frum is not on his blog. It is on the New York magazine website.

The article is too long to quote, so I suggest you read it via the link I put here. I certainly no more agree with everything he says than I do with everything he posts on his blog (or everything posted on his blog, since he uses a number of guest writers as well as himself to post there). But I think it is certainly a worthwhile read, and very thought-provoking, and I really think all who read this blog should read his posting.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Another “front runner”?

Well, now there are polls that say that the #1 contender for the 2012 GOP nomination, at least in Iowa and some other States, is Newt Gingrich. Will he bite the dust, now that Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain have, each in his/her turn, crashed?

Gingrich is rather too conservative for me — but so were Ronald Reagan and the younger President Bush. And yet, both of those Presidents had pretty good presidencies, I have to admit. So Gingrich might fill the bill.

I've already posted some comments on Gingrich, so you know how I feel. I would say, however, that of all the candidates, he ranks #2 to Mitt Romney. But four years ago, I considered John McCain as ranking #2 to Rudy Giuliani. And yet there's a difference. Yes, I rated Giuliani higher than McCain, but I liked a lot about McCain, so he was a close #2. Gingrich is currently #2 on my list behind Romney, but far, far back behind him in my estimation. I would happily vote for Gingrich over Barack Obama a year from now, if it came to that. But that is not because Gingrich is so good — rather, it is because Obama is so bad. I don't like Bachmann at all, for example, but I'd probably even vote for her over Obama.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The supercommittee fails

It looks as though the debt-reduction supercommittee has failed to reach an agreement. And the reason is clearly this: Nobody is willing to compromise. The Democrats insist on a “soak-the-rich” policy. They cannot realize that in a recession, raising taxes is not going to help. And the Republicans, not surprisingly, are not going to accept a Democratic insistence that new taxes are a sine qua non of the deal.

The Republicans, of course, have the better of the argument. But with a Democratic President in a position to veto any pure Republican bill, they probably needed to accept some revenue enhancements.

I don't know how this will end. The automatic across-the-board budget cuts which will follow this are sure to get some negative responses from those whose pet areas are going to be cut. The question is, will the across-the-board cuts trigger some real efforts to look at where money is needed and where it is just somebody's pet project? The answer to this question is the key.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

One county's war against rich pre-teen kids?

This summer, I saw a story about an unbelievable action taken by the county in which I live. The United States Open golf tournament was held in this county. A group of pre-teen kids operated a lemonade stand near the tournament grounds. Because the kids had not gotten a permit from the county, their parents were fined $500!

I just received some more unbelievable information about this case. (Though, I suppose, one might say that it means that money can't buy special treatment.) It turns out that these kids were the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the CEO's of Marriott and Lockheed Martin, the largest private employers in the county! So the Marriott and Augustine families had kids who wanted to open a lemonade stand to raise money for charity, and the county would not let them. Strange!

And obviously, the county didn't care who they offended. Can you imagine what these families must think of this county's government?

Friday, November 18, 2011

An interesting coincidence

After posting yesterday's post, I read a post on Dennis Sanders' “Big Tent Revue” blog entitled, “Losing Our Way.” And, though he posted it before I posted mine, I hadn't yet read it until afterward. So it is interesting to see the overlaps between our posts.

I think that both of us are concerned that, in the name of conservatism, the Republican Party is in danger of moving so far rightward that it jeopardizes its hopes of winning the votes of the majority of the American people. It's even interesting that we both (although, in Sanders' case, he was quoting another writer, Ramesh Ponnuru) cited the same issue, the Medicare prescription drug plan!

It might be noted that Ponnuru, as described on the Bloomberg News site where his post occurs, is a senior editor at National Review, which should eminently qualify him as a conservative. So the fact that a moderate like me should find a Ponnuru column (even if quoted by an ideological ally of mine like Dennis Sanders) striking a responsive chord makes it seem like there is something there.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Conservatism: what is it?

Recently I saw another column in the Washington Examiner that I thought a bit puzzling. This one was written by Gene Healy and entitled “Newt Gingrich is no conservative.” Among the things that Healy uses to characterize Gingrich as “no conservative” include his support for the Medicare drug plan. I suppose Healy favors a cruel, extreme-libertarian kind of conservatism that decrees that if you can't afford to pay for your prescription drugs, you should just die and leave the world to the next generation! For to my way of thinking, the way the Medicare drug plan is structured, it's a good way of introducing conservative ideas into a Medicare-type program.

Rather than a one-size-fits-all sort of “insurance” plan, it fosters competition. Different private insurers (and I emphasize private) compete for the senior citizen's premium. When I got my booklet, it gave me choices between insurers who had lower monthly premiums and higher co-payments and others who had higher monthly premiums and lower co-payments. And various in-between combinations as well. I think this is a good idea. The government helps the insurers provide their plans at an affordable rate, but it doesn't, as “Obamacare” does with basic health care costs, force identical coverage by all companies. It seems to me this is exactly what a conservative wants. But I wonder what Gene Healy would require of someone to be called a “conservative.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It is now official! The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the health care law

The Supreme Court has finally agreed to something that most of us have known for some time: The “Obamacare” health care law raises serious constitutional questions, important enough for the Court to decide. Yesterday,
the Court agreed to take up three cases challenging the Constitutionality of the law.

The Court has allocated five and one-half hours for discussion, far more than usual; in recent years the Court has limited arguments to one hour on most occasions, and never more than four (on the campaign finance law in 2003) in quite a long time.

There is a blog post by Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, entitled “How ‘Obamacare’ Could Lose in the Supreme Court.” And this makes it clear that the big issue is Does Congress have any limits on what the Commerce Clause of the Constitution empowers it to do? And Winkler feels that the Court may well find that these limits exclude such things as the “individual mandate,” which would invalidate ‘Obamacare.’

The Court will take up these arguments in March, and probably issue its ruling in June, right in the middle of the Presidential election campaign. It will be very interesting to see what they decide, and how the candidates respond.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The most annoying time of the year

Two songwriters, Edward Pola and George Wyle, once wrote a song entitled "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," about the Xmas season. To me it is better described as "the Most Annoying Time of the Year." As I've actually said in a number of posts, I hate it.

Normally I would wait to post this until it got closer to that day. (Although one of my earlier postings was also in early November.) But as it happened, over this past night, I had a dream. Now I don't usually put out my dreams on this blog for the whole world to see, but in the dream I was telling a friend (and, strangely, this friend was one who, in real life, passed away over 10 years ago!) that I wished that Christmas were treated, in this country, like Purim, a Jewish holiday that usually is celebrated in late February or March. And that's about how I feel for real.

Nobody who wants to celebrate Purim has any difficulty. There are stores where you can buy noisemakers and the other things one uses to celebrate the holiday. And it probably gets a mention in the newspapers a day or so before the actual date. But we are hardly bombarded with Purim songs, Purim cards, Purim decorations, and the like for the entire months of January and February! Anyone who wanted to ignore Purim would find it as easy to do so as anyone who wanted to celebrate it.

Contrast this with Christmas. It is impossible, beginning in late October or early November, to get away from Christmas decorations, Christmas music on the overhead speakers in department stores, and the like, and on the day itself, everything is closed. (Except, in the more urbanized areas, a few Chinese restaurants!) The Smithsonian museums (one of the few places one can go for an enjoyable time that don't cost a lot of money) are open every day of the year — except Christmas. One year I was in graduate school in a relatively small city — Charlottesville, Virginia. I could not find a single open restaurant — the only way I could get anything to eat (I was living in a single room without kitchen facilities) was by getting candy bars out of vending machines. I would gladly ignore the fact that December 25th is a holiday for many people — but I simply can't. There is simply no way to lead a normal day's existence on that day.

Now, this will put me at odds with such as Rush Limbaugh, who believe this country should be a Christian theocracy. But so be it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Musical chairs for second place?

First there was Michele Bachmann. Next came Rick Perry. Then Herman Cain. Then, briefly, Perry seized the headlines again, but mostly because of a negative incident, his not being able to remember his own plan to eliminate the Energy Department! Most recently, the name of Newt Gingrich has surfaced — and, as I posted earlier, in a sense he's the best of the choices of those who would nominate “anyone but Mitt Romney.” It looks like a game of musical chairs for the 2012 nomination — or rather, for second place, because most people are pretty certain that Romney will be the nominee.

One of the interesting things that happened recently is that Gingrich, invited to criticize Romney in a recent debate, refused to do so. I think that this is a sign that he, the most intelligent of the anti-Romney candidates, realizes that Romney will be the nominee, and the best that anyone else can do is use his second place to get the Vice-Presidential nomination. This actually worked well for George H. W. Bush, who finished second to Ronald Reagan, became Reagan's VP, and moved into the Presidency after Reagan was term-limited!

Meanwhile, of course, the Democrats are stuck with President Barack Obama. Nobody wants to challenge a sitting President in his own party. And unless the economy improves, particularly the unemployment situation, in slightly less than a year from today, we may yet see Mitt Romney elected President. But who as Vice-President? Perhaps Gingrich. And I think that at least Gingrich is looking for that slot!

Friday, November 11, 2011

You have to understand the rules!

As I mentioned yesterday, the centrist blogger Solomon Kleinsmith is starting a new website called “Uniters.org,”. One of the things that I saw when I looked at that site Tuesday is a plug for the hopeless organization called Americans Elect, a group of centrists who are following in the footsteps of the Unity '08 group who tried to produce a centrist ticket for the last Presidential election. And the fact is, people who want to advance the centrist cause and try to do it in that way do not understand how our system works.

Over two hundred years ago, in 1800, Anthony Lispenard was a Presidential elector from New York State. In those days, the electors did not, as they do today, cast a differentiated vote for President and Vice-President. Instead they simply cast two votes, ostensibly for the Presidency; the candidate with the largest number, if it was at least a majority of the number of electors, got the Presidency, while the candidate with the second-largest number got the Vice-Presidency. So supporters of the Democratic-Republican ticket of Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr simply voted for both. In previous elections, and among the rival Federalist Party even in 1800, a small number of electors (even just one!) would vote for the party's Presidential candidate, but vote for someone else, who was not a real candidate, with their second vote, so as to assure that their Presidential candidate got more electoral votes than their Vice-Presidential candidate. (In 1796, however, too many Federalist electors did this, so that Thomas Jefferson, the Democratic-Republican candidate for the Presidency, outpolled the Federalists' Vice-Presidential candidate and became the Vice-President!)

Lispenard, in fact, preferred Aaron Burr, the Democratic-Republican candidate for the Vice-Presidency, to Thomas Jefferson, who was again the Democratic-Republican candidate for the Presidency, and tried to accomplish this by voting for Burr but not for Jefferson. But he didn't understand the system! He cast two votes for Burr. Now if he had voted for Burr and someone else as long as that someone else was not a New York State resident (the rules stated that an elector's two votes had to include one who was not a resident of his own State), Lispenard could have elected Burr President, with 73 votes to Jefferson's 72. Anthony Lispenard was one of the few people in history who could have, by one act, changed the course of history! But he didn't understand what he needed to do, and voted twice for Burr. Now this would not work. An elector could not vote for one person twice. And certainly if he was a resident of your own State, as Burr was in Lispenard's case, even if an elector could vote for one person twice, he could not vote for that person twice because one of the votes had to be for a candidate from a different State! So Lispenard's vote was changed to a vote for Jefferson and Burr, and he did not get his wish simply because he didn't realize how simply he could have assured Burr the Presidency!

What does this have to do with Americans Elect? Simply, in the system we have, which is Plurality Voting, any candidate other than the top two simply hurts the candidate who is closer to him. If a “centrist” candidate appeals to more Republicans than Democrats, he is likely to cause the Democrat to be elected. And if he appeals to more Democrats than Republicans, he is likely to cause the Republican to be elected. So unless he is truly dead center, which is pretty unlikely, he's going to have the effect that the people who voted for him will feel they've shot themselves in the foot. (Probably the reason that Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992 was that more Republicans were impressed with Ross Perot than Democrats were.)

As I have previously said, the way to get centrists and moderates elected, which is what Uniters.org ostensibly wishes to accomplish, is to change the voting system, not start a quixotic third candidacy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Uniters.org

There is a blogger named Solomon Kleinsmith who hosts a "centrist" blog and is starting a new site called “Uniters.org,” intended as a forum for “centrists and moderates,” to which I recently received an invitation. Now I suppose that the fact that I received this invitation qualifies me as one of those “centrists and moderates.” Yet I am not so sure. A moderate I think I am, but I can't really consider myself a centrist, as I think Kleinsmith defines it. As I've stated it, my positions include some that are generally considered “left” and others that are generally considered “right”: my position is that it is not whether a position is “right” or “left,” but rather whether it furthers the best interest of all of us (meaning maximal freedom, subject to not infringing on others' freedoms), that governs my attitude toward the idea. When I read Kleinsmith's blog, or Rick Bayan's (another “centrist” blog) I don't always find myself agreeing with them; yes, sometimes I do, but sometimes I agree with people like Rush Limbaugh! I certainly will look at Uniters.org, and when I find myself in agreement I will applaud, but I don't guarantee that I will agree with most of the positions it takes.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

What about Gingrich?

Readers of this blog know that I get a lot of my material from columns I read in the Washington Examiner. This post is no exception.

Yesterday's Examiner had a column by Byron York entitled “Gingrich's wonkish, unconventional campaign.” The main burden of York's column is that “If either of the current frontrunners, Herman Cain or Mitt Romney, were to falter, Gingrich is in a position to benefit greatly.” And I think this really means that York is saying that, with all the missteps made by first Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, and more lately Herman Cain, Gingrich may well be the one for Republicans who cannot reconcile themselves to Mitt Romney.

Well, I have to say this about Gingrich: He is, I believe, a lot more intelligent than Bachmann or Perry, and he certainly has Government experience, unlike Cain. So he makes a lot more sense as a candidate than any of those three. (Disclaimer: I still think Romney is a better choice!)

One point that could be made against Gingrich is that he has been rejected by his own party in the past. But after the 1962 California Gubernatorial election, everyone thought Richard M. Nixon was finished. Even Nixon did — after all, he said on that occasion, “You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore…” But this was not so. Six years later, Nixon was elected President. (Another disclaimer: As far as I am concerned, despite a lot of negative opinion by others, Nixon was still the best President, in my opinion, in the past fifty years!)

So maybe Gingrich deserves looking at. As I said, Romney is still my #1 choice among those actually running. But Gingrich isn't a bad alternative, in my opinion.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Herman Cain's defects

Yesterday's Washington Examiner contains an interesting column by Ken Klukowski entitled, “Four 'Cs' of why Cain is unelectable”:

Catchy alliterations — starting with the same letter or number — are popular in politics. Herman Cain's “9-9-9” is a perfect example. Republicans need to consider another alliteration involving Herman Cain, however. One that could give Barack Obama a second term.

Many men learn the four “Cs” when they buy a diamond ring to propose marriage: carat, color, cut, clarity. Another four “Cs” could mean a short marriage between Republicans and Cain: competency, consistency, character, crisis management.

First, competency. We already elected one president with a scant record of public service, allowing him to base his candidacy on rhetoric. Once elected, his rhetoric was miles removed from his policies.

Instead of a short record, Cain has no public record. Although he's a very successful businessman, you can expect Obama to point out that this nation has never elected a president without any record of serving as a government officer (since Army generals are officers of the United States, and we've only elected commanding generals who saved this nation in war).

Cain's unawareness that China has had nuclear weapons for decades makes easy attack ads. Millions of Americans who don't know much about foreign policy know China has nukes.

The fact that Cain didn't will worry “security moms” and veterans. While jobs are important, any president's highest responsibility is as commander in chief.

A Palestinian right of return would destroy Israel as a Jewish nation. Cain voiced support, then later reversed, explaining that he knew nothing about this basic Middle-East issue and instead supports Israel. In other words, he bluffed his way through the interview to hide his lack of knowledge.

This is also an example of the second “C,” consistency.

His 180-reversal on abortion raises eyebrows. Last month he said it was a woman's choice, which is what pro-choice politicians say. John Kerry said he was personally pro-life, but didn't think government should impose his view on others.

To undo this damage, Cain made passionate pro-life statements, with no exceptions for rape and incest. Expect those video clips in Obama attack ads next fall targeted at suburban and single women.

Cain's 9-9-9 plan was supposed to be simple. Now he says for some people it would be 9-0-9, that there will be economic development zones with different tax structures, and that all this is a transition to a 30 percent national sales tax.

Third, character. Even baseless sex-harassment allegations can sink candidates. Cain's accusers are now free to speak, but eschewing public attention for the moment.

Don't speculate on nameless, faceless allegations. Cain deserves the presumption of innocence. No facts have been publicly revealed to suggest otherwise.

But if these women support Obama, they could drop a bomb on Cain before the general election if he wins the nomination. Assuming the accusations are false, with enough money and press attention they could cost Cain millions of moderate votes by raising serious doubts about his character right before Election Day, capitalizing on the fact that Cain hasn't been vetted through years of public service.

Fourth, crisis management. Presidents are beset with crises, one after another. Effectively responding in a disciplined manner is critical to maintaining public confidence and marshaling support to respond.

Cain's unfocused and now flailing response to the sex-harassment scandal is painful to watch, especially since he knew this was coming. His whipsaw reversal on abortion confuses people. And his unawareness on basic issues like China and Israel could slow and muddle situations requiring quick and decisive action. He's failed the test of deftly handling bad news.

Cain might beat back all these issues in the primaries. But each of them costs him votes with swing voters, making him less electable. Is Cain becoming the candidate President Obama wants to face next year?


Many of Klukowski's comments are points I share. And I worry that too many people, because they have problems with Mitt Romney, may push the party into nominating Cain, which, for the reasons Klukowski gives, would be a disaster for the party. Let us remember that the goal is to defeat President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012, not to nominate the purest conservative. And this is why we need to unite behind Romney

Monday, November 07, 2011

Change who can believe in?

My wife and I do not live together any more, but we are still on friendly terms. Politically, she and I are quite distinct: she is at least nominally a Democrat, though she has, on a few occasions, voted for Republicans, including the 2008 Presidential election, when she felt that John McCain's experience was helpful, and thought he was far more honorable than Barack Obama. (The information about Obama's treatment of Alice Palmer, which I had read and posted in this blog, had helped her make this decision, and the experience of 1996, when she had thought that Bob Dole was too far to the political right and had voted for Bill Clinton, only to be treated to the spectacle of an embarrassing President, has convinced her that character counts even more than political orientation.) Anyway, the shambles that the economy has turned into (she had worked for Borders, and when her store closed in April had to start looking for work; she still has not found it) makes her very critical of Pres. Obama's “changes,” and she'd been remarking about his “change you can believe in” slogan. In fact, she said to me yesterday that if Mitt Romney is the GOP nominee next year, he could use that slogan! (Though, of course, he's not likely to.)

It looks as though Romney could possibly get her vote, though she's not sure — she wants to look more closely at him. But none of the other GOP hopefuls has a chance at it: she sees Perry (much as I do) as a medieval anti-science type, and we agree that Cain's total lack of political experience ill equips him for the Presidency; though either of the two might get my vote against Obama, it looks as though they would drive her to vote for Obama.

This is why we need to nominate a Mitt Romney type. Romney can get the moderate independents' vote; none of the others can.

Friday, November 04, 2011

What is right, is right, even if Obama does it

Ever since Barack Obama became President, I've been saying that whenever he does something right, I'll accept it. I can't condemn something just because Obama does it. And so, I have to differ with Gregory Kane, who wrote a column that appeared in Wednesday's Washington Examiner entitled “Obama becomes 'Silent Cal' on Libya, sharia.

President Obama has been backing (I think not forcefully enough!) the rebels who deposed Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. And now that they have won, they want to put forth a constitution that recognizes Sharia (Islamic law) as the “basic source of Libyan legislation.” Now, there are certain aspects of Sharia that I don't like — cutting off the hand of a thief, for example. But Libya is a majority-Moslem country, and if the majority wants their laws to be compatible with Sharia, that is only democracy. The question is, will the rights of non-Moslems be respected? So far, we don't know. Until we do, we cannot condemn Libya, or Obama's support for the Libyan rebels.

This stance is particularly galling coming from Gregory Kane. He has sometimes written things that seem, in my eyes, to favor a Christian theocracy in this country. Certainly, he wants to make the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion into law. And he ridicules the concept of separation of church and state regularly. Apparently, it's ok for the majority religion to impose its views on the minority if that group is Christian, but not if it is Moslem. As a member of a non-Christian, non-Moslem religious group, I can say that neither is anything different from the other. Both Christians and Moslems have, at different times, had horrible human rights records regarding nonmembers of their own religious groups.

So don't trash Obama for this position. This time he is right. Getting rid of Qaddafi was a service to the world.