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.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A British view of the recent happenings

An interesting blog post on the site of the British newspaper, The Telegraph, recently appeared. It was written by Tim Stanley and dated October 16th, 2013, and entitled: “US debt ceiling crisis — Barack Obama has won the shutdown. His prize is a lame duck presidency.” It is quite interesting to see how the events of the last week or so are viewed by others; of course, The Telegraph is a conservative paper, so this needs to be taken into account. But the title alone makes it clear that, to Mr. Stanley (who is a historian whose area of specialty is the United States) at least, President Obama has won a battle, but at a serious cost to his own ability to govern:

The shutdown is basically over and the President has won. Or, at least, he's won because the Republicans have definitely lost. Not only did they not get what they wanted — that “life or death” delay on Obamacare implementation — but they've given the impression of dragging partisanship to new lows. Obamacare had been passed already, the Supreme Court had okayed it and Obama had won an election on it, yet the GOP was still prepared to bring the country to the brink of ruin to cripple it. When Grover Norquist is saying that the Right went too far (he of the “drown government in the bath tub” fame) then the Right probably went a bit too far.

So much for the “won a battle” part. Then, however, he continues:

But there are caveats to that narrative. First, the Republicans aren't the only ones who ought to hang their heads in shame. It was the Democrat-controlled Senate that first rejected the House's bill and so sparked the crisis. It was the President who refused to talk to anyone about it (and went campaigning instead). It was the federal government — even when in shutdown — that behaved like a spoiled child, covering war memorials in fences and trying to stop military priests from saying Mass. And it was the mainstream media that took the side of the President and helped foster the impression that the GOP is run by a bunch of blowhard crazy people. For example, Dave Weigel points out that, contrary to reports, wild child Ted Cruz actually had “no intention” of delaying the critical final vote in the Senate. His image of being Sarah Palin 2.0 is entirely a media myth.

Many of these things, particularly regarding the Senate, the President, and the media, coincide with my own recent posts, so naturally I was happy to see someone else in agreement.

Continuing, Mr. Stanley writes:

Second, what has Obama really won? He keeps his precious healthcare reform and he gets government open again — but tomorrow morning he'll still have the same gridlocked political system that he had the night before. The shutdown is a rare example of him winning, but remember that this lame duck president has not only had a very simple (and, frankly, inoffensive) gun control bill killed in the Senate but was so spooked by bad poll numbers that he tried to dump responsibility for military action in Syria onto the Congress — before quietly dropping the idea altogether. Any thought that the shutdown payoff will be that he can sail an immigration reform package comfortably through Congress is pure fantasy. This is a broken presidency living out its last few years either holding off Republican attacks or lazily cruising the country on some pointless, endless, fatuous campaign trail. Obama's administration is politically bankrupt.

Very interesting. The media in general are unwilling to concede this, but I believe Mr. Stanley is right. The House of Representatives must approve any new legislation, and after this débacle, the House will be less inclined than before to pass anything with Obama's stamp of approval on it.

And finally, Mr. Stanley writes:

The talk for the next week will be about how the Tea Party is dead and Republicans must elect a politically correct, middle-of-the-road, unimaginative, establishment, compromising candidate in 2016 (preferably a singing sloth, cos the polls show that Americans just love those). But the reality is that US politics right now is a mess for both Left and Right, and the country is stuck in partisan limbo until the 2014 midterms or even the 2016 presidential election. This is not a Republican problem, it is an American problem.

Here, I part company to some extent with Mr. Stanley. A “middle-of-the-road, … compromising candidate” is necessary. There is no way a Rick Perry or Rick Santorum could get elected in this country in 2016. This, of course, is why I have been pushing Chris Christie. He will show, in three weeks, how he can get votes even in a deep blue state like New Jersey. This is clear. And no Republican can win unless he can get at least some people who are not convinced Republican voters to pick him. This is an important factor, which Mr. Stanley does not point out, and perhaps which he does not realize to be the case.

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