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.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thanksgiving note

Today is the day set aside for Americans to give thanks. And with our great divisions, one might wonder what to be thankful for. My thoughts are that we can be thankful that ours is a nation that finds, no matter how deep our divisions, a way to settle them peacefully. Only once have we had a civil war, and that ended almost a century and a half ago. We have had presidents elected against the wishes of a majority of people, and laws enacted which others have thought to be contrary to our founding principles, but we have always figured out how to get back to a peaceful polity. Even our current divisions over President Obama's policies, as unconstitutional as many of us (including myself) feel some of his actions have been, will be repaired. Of that I am certain, and for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Too bad the election is still a year off

The Real Clear Politics site shows the generic Congressional vote being slightly in favor of the Republicans. It's just too bad that it's almost a year before an election takes place. Harry Reid still owns the Senate, and may yet make more mischief like what he just did in killing the filibuster rule. There are Senate rules that require unanimous consent for a lot of actions — but will Reid get those rules changed too?

Reid said that Congress was broken, and particularly the Senate was broken. But what is really broken is that Congress is not representing the people — and Reid's nuclear bomb makes it less so. President Obama is doing everything possible to frustrate the people's will, and the Senate is helping him.

What will fix the Senate is making Mitch McConnell the majority leader. And — unfortunately, that won't happen until an election next November and the installation of a new Senate in January 2015.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It still puzzles me

Why do people keep posting statements that “The Republicans should try to make the ‘Affordable Care Act’ (aka Obamacare) work better, rather than trying to sabotage it”? I would love to be able to get their answer to a question: Suppose the Republicans, in a majority, passed a bill that you thought was an utterly bad thing for the country, and the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. Would you think it your duty to “make the law work better and more efficiently”? Or would you work to repeal it, all the while putting up whatever barriers you had the power to create to prevent the law from going smoothly into force? Please answer that question, before you accuse Republicans of something unconscionable.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Let's pull together

When this blog was started in 2007, I was favoring a potential candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination, Rudolph W. Giuliani. I still think he would have been an excellent candidate, and an excellent President. But forces within the Republican Party decided he was not conservative enough for them. The candidate who was nominated, John McCain, was certainly good enough to get my support in the 2008 election, and I am sure he would have been a much better President than the man who actually won the office that year. But McCain was probably just too nice. He was not able to fight the Obama juggernaut. Would Giuliani have been able to win against Obama? Nobody really knows.

But the Republican Party needs to nominate a winner. Rudy Giuliani was able to win in strongly Democratic New York City, and McCain, for all his admirable qualities, had never been tested in such circumstances. By losing, the GOP found itself meekly standing by while the “stumulus that didn't stimulate” and the disaster known as Obamacare were unleashed on the American public.

Now we are looking forward to another chance, though it is three years away. The GOP has a chance to pull together behind someone who can win the Presidency. And we have a chance to pick another chief executive who has been shown able to win in a strongly Democratic jurisdiction. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is, like Giuliani, being dismissed by some as insufficiently conservative. My question to all those who want a Marco Rubio or a Rand Paul or the like is, do you want to cede the presidency to Hillary Clinton in 2016? The first task is to win. Even a Christie Administration is going to be better, even if you'd prefer Paul or Rubio, than one run by Hillary Clinton. Let's all get behind someone who can win — and nobody has shown this ability better than Chris Christie.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The relativity of politics

The Senate has changed its filibuster rule. Under the new rule, President Obama can appoint anyone he chooses to to a Federal judgeship, a compliant Democratic Senate majority will ratify it, and nobody will be in a position to prevent him. And Harry Reid is gloating: “The American people believe Congress is broken. The American people believe the Senate is broken. And I believe they are right.” And President Obama has said, “A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of an election is not normal. And for the sake of future generations, it cannot become normal.”

Of course, the shoe was on the other foot in 2005, with a Republican president and a Republican Senate. At that time, when a similar change was under consideration, a Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama said, “I urge my Republican colleagues not to go through with changing these rules. In the long run it is not a good result for either party. One day Democrats will be in the majority again and this rule change will be no fairer to a Republican minority than it is to a Democratic minority.” And the Democratic minority leader, a certain Harry Reid, said, “The threat to change Senate rules is a raw abuse of power and will destroy the very checks and balances our founding fathers put in place to prevent absolute power by any one branch of government.”

Interesting. But it shows how all is relative in politics. What was a “raw abuse of power” in 2005 when it might have been done by Republicans is now fixing a “broken” Senate when your people run it? It will all come around. The next time the Senate is Republican — in 2015? in 2017? — the Democrats will come to regret what they just did.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The "settled law" argument

Liberals like to say that “Obamacare is a law passed by Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court.” The arguments by “Sundance” on “The Last Refuge” blog should dispose of that. But in any case, any law Congress can pass, Congress can repeal. In 1798, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. There was no Supreme Court test of these, because prior to 1803, the Supreme court had not declared an act of Congress unconstitutional, but these laws were certainly as much settled law as Obamacare is now. Yet people as high as the Vice-President of the United States at the time, Thomas Jefferson, were so strongly opposed that Jefferson helped author state legislative resolutions against their enforcement. (Jefferson was the author, not publicly acknowledged at the time, of the Kentucky resolution, while another future President, who is acknowledged as well as the author of much of the Constitution, James Madison, had a similar rôle regarding the Virginia resolution.)

No law is ever totally settled. And anyone who thinks a law is a bad one certainly has the right to work for its repeal. If Thomas Jefferson and James Madison could take the actions they did on the Alien and Sedition Acts, no Republican should be considered unreasonable for opposing, by all means possible, Obamacare. (Even a Constitutional amendment is not beyond repeal. Look at the history of the Eighteenth Amendment, and the Twenty-first.)

You are also invited to read posts by Nick Gillespie on the blog, and by Noemie Emery on the Washington Examiner's site.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why should they do anything different?

Liberals are continually sniping at the Republicans, both in Congress and in the states, for “sabotaging the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).” But why should they do anything else? The bill was written without the slightest bit of input from any Congressional Republicans — it's been called a “Republican bill” by some Democrats because some of its ideas were bruited by the conservative Heritage Foundation back in the 1990s, but these ideas were never accepted by anyone in the Republican establishment in Washington, D. C. — and passed with the vote of only one Republican Representative and no Republican Senators. It is clearly a bad bill in the eyes of all Republicans, so why should any of them lift a finger to help it work? It is in the interest of those of us who believe that it is a job-wrecker, an assault on our liberties, and such, to do all we can to make it fail, and fail so badly that the law will be repealed and a new law passed that accomplishes whatever is good in the bill, in a way that does not wreck the economy and our freedom. So there is nothing dishonorable in “sabotaging” Obamacare — and the Democrats would do exactly the same thing, the truth be told, if the Republicans were rolling out a bill that they felt to be as harmful as Republicans feel Obamacare is.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Social conservatism: the curse of the GOP

When we look at the recent elections in New Jersey and Virginia, one factor is inescapable. The embrace by many Republican politicians of a hard right social agenda is empowering Democrats. Look at what Terry McAuliffe did in Virginia. It was by calling attention to Ken Cuccinelli's policies on abortion and such that he built up a 10+ point lead in some polls — and it was only because Cuccinelli managed to shift the dialog to the Obamacare disaster that he made the final result much closer. Imagine what would have happened in Virginia if McAuliffe had not been able to attack the Republican on the social issues? If a moderate were to have had the Republican nomination, and so only the Democrats' weaknesses (especially on Obamacare) had been before the public, we'd have seen a GOP win the Governorship — this is certain to me.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, we had a Republican nominee who was conservative — but not an in-your-face sort of conservative. Chris Christie was not in favor of gay marriage, but when the court said New Jersey had it allow it, he decided not to appeal. He's worked with a Democratic legislature, yet managed to get them to approve a program that is economically (not socially) conservative. That's really the way to get Republican ideas into force — and it's why I have supported Christie for years, even before this month's big election win. He may have some trouble getting the nomination — I saw a headline on a post comparing Christie to “President Giuliani,” and it is this hurdle that worries me, because I think Giuliani would have made an excellent President, but simply could not get through the Republican primaries — but if Republican primary voters want to be able to win in November 2016, they will realize that nobody is better to getting Democrats and independents to vote for a Republican than Chris Christie. And you can't put your prograns through unless you win the election.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The lesson from yesterday's elections

Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle in 2010. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock in 2012. And now, Ken Cuccinelli. All have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Every one of these lost to a Democrat, in an election that the Republicans could have won with a better candidate. And yet, I wonder whether the extremists of the Right have learned the lesson: A less-than-pure conservative can win (see Chris Christie) where a perfect, give-no-quarter conservative will not.

Virginia's gubernatorial election was an even sadder story than most. Ken Cuccinelli lost by only around 56,000 votes (Note: In my original post I said 30,000 votes, but later results call for a correction), out of about 2 million cast. It is almost certain that a more moderate candidate would have won. After all, even the outgoing Republican lieutenant governor, Bill Bolling, refused to endorse Cuccinelli — and some believe he actually supported Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat who will be Virginia's next governor. When your candidate for governor is opposed by one of your own top state officers, that is a sign you've done something wrong.

Meanwhile, Gov. Christie was re-elected with a fraction of the vote that appears to have topped 60%. Several Democratic office holders openly supported him. You can't implement your programs without being elected to office, and while Christie may not be as conservative as some Tea Party types might like, he will definitely be more conservative than anyone the Democrats might put up. Supporters of other GOP hopefuls ought to realize this.

New Jersey is a liberal state. In the same election, yesterday, they passed a liberal referendum question on the minimum wage. Yet Christie got more than 3 votes for every 2 that went to his Democratic opponent — a proportion of the vote that hasn't been reached by a Republican statewide candidate in New Jersey since the 1980s. It is clear that New Jersey's citizens appreciate his first term as governor. He probably will not get 60+% of the New Jersey vote in a presidential race in 2016, but he can carry some states that no other Republican is likely to. And carrying states means winning electoral votes. And electoral votes are what you need to win the Presidency.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

What's happening in Virginia?

Some of the polls in Virginia seem to show the race tightening. Perhaps some Virginians are thinking the same sort of thoughts that I expressed in my Friday post, that as bad as Ken Cuccinelli is, it's more important to defeat Terry McAuliffe than to make some sort of statement about Cuccinelli's extremism.

Of course, the only poll that raally matters is the official one that will take place in two days. I can't wait to see how that turns out.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Two gubernatorial elections

In the years directly following Presidential election years, only two states choose their Governors: Virginia and New Jersey. And this year, the two could not be more different in how the races are developing.

In New Jersey, the Republicans have a perfect candidate: Chris Christie, who has run a State government with such a degree of competence that even Democratic office holders are backing his re-election. It is clear that the people of New Jersey are happy with him, and if I were in that State I would vote for his re-election with no qualms at all. I am certain that three years from now I will be supporting him for the step up to the Presidency.

In Virginia, a governor cannot succeed himself, so they are not dealing with a re-election campaign, but both major parties have selected atrocious candidates: On the one hand, the Democrats have Terry McAuliffe, whose only distinction is that he ran the DNC for a time. He's got no experience in state government, no real ties to Virginia, and had talked of bringing a business involving “green” automobiles to the State, but they ended up in Mississippi, and aren't making any cars yet, anyway. On the other hand, extremists in the Republican Party forced the Lieutenant Governor, Bill Bolling, to abandon a run for Governor by making the nominating process hostile to his chances, and the nominee is the Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, as extreme as they come in the GOP. There is a third candidate, Robert Sarvis, a Libertarian, but of course, he has no chance to win. If he had the slightest chance, I'd think Sarvis the best choice — a National Review posting that attempts to deny that Sarvis is a real libertarian only convinces me that I like him. (According to Charles C. W. Cooke in that post, Sarvis is a “social liberal” — but libertarians are socially liberal and economically conservative! Cooke tries to claim that you can be a libertarian and support the Religious Right's attempt to jam their ideas down other people's throats — hardly in conformity with what is, at least in my eyes, a libertarian stance.) Cooke cites some interviews by Sarvis that, in my mind, simply show that Sarvis is not as extreme a libertarian on economic affairs as he (Cooke) might like. But there are degrees of libertarianism, and such as Ron Paul take libertarianism to the point of caricature.

So while Robert Sarvis would be the best choice for Governor of Virginia if he really had a chance, if I were living across the river in Virginia, I'd be voting for Ken Cuccinelli. Perhaps holding my nose while doing so, but defeating Terry McAuliffe is more important than making an empty statement, which is what a vote for Sarvis would be. Get me right: I prefer Sarvis, but would vote for Cuccinelli if I lived in Virginia, and advise Virginians who read this blog to do the same.