Thursday, December 18, 2008

Political update for December, 2008

An Auto Czar?


Am I crazy or -- are we all crazy?

After the TARP act, allowing the U.S. government to buy up the assets of "troubled" banks, congress floats and almost passes a crazy plan to lend money to several car companies which have been failing for decades one way or another, and, as part of their genius, they try and legislate the appointment of a car czar. I suppose they used the Russian word "czar" in case anyone missed the point that this is socialism, but that is a pre-Bolshevik/USSR term. Car Commissar might have been better.

That's right, sports fans, it wasn't enough that a few months ago the TARP act literally drove down the double yellow on the road to socialism by arranging for the government to actually own the means of production, now they want government control of another of our major industries. Happily, they failed this time.

You may be asking yourself, why is he obsessing about socialism so much lately. Have I become a right wing nut? No. I didn't want Clinton to go to prison or consider the possibility that Obama might be a Muslim (and, no, would not have cared). I'm for gay marriage, I don't like torture or think Scooter Libby was innocent. But, this recent string of legislation is TEXT . . . BOOK . . . SOCIALISM which we know does not work.

I just got through scolding a relative for calling liberals communists. And guess what -- he's for the TARP act because "something had to be done."

Now hear, we ironically have a mixed bag. The supposedly conservative administration has asked for and gotten the TARP legislation, and, based on what I am hearing from Obama, will continue to be the policy of the new administration. In both cases, the main constituency for the bill is Democrat. But John McCain was also on board last time I looked.

So, basically, yes, everyone has lost their mind.

Can I go back to my post a few weeks ago when I was busy quoting dead Austrian economist, H. A. Hayek, and give his answer to when politicians say, we don't want to do this (because it's socialism, shhhh) but we have to do something; that they will suggest that the only way out of the current problem is some kind of economic dictatorship (as if that is different than any other type of dictatorship and that private property is a key ingredient of freedom.

Of course, it is very easy, in a country where we do have a great deal (although less and less) freedom, that anyone who speaks like this is just crying wolf, and things aren't that dangerous. Of course, that is how Hitler came in to power -- with people saying - we need someone to do something and he's the only one who can. Can you imagine a slide into a planned economy that didn't start with people saying that?

If you haven't read the November 13th post, go back and check it out so I can spare my other readers of going through it again.

Of course, it is all Obama's fault

Obama is not going to solve our economic problems. I am firmly convinced that this is a cultural product of our insatiable greed, need for luxuries and anti-work ethic, although he can make it worse by rigid idealogy. He is going to have to combat those who are ideologically driven, such as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. I am actually betting he has the strength to hold them off, at least for so long as we don't have bread lines.

But, and I never thought I'd say this, he has to get his nose out of books. He seems to think that by following the Lincoln model of taking his competitors his underlings he will gain control. He probably should read some books explaining that, notwithstanding Goodwin's bestselling book Team of Rivals, that excepting William Seward, this plan didn't really work out so well for Lincoln and he had to redo most of it before his next term.

What Obama needs to do is continue to look like he is trying , and, that he is not hurting. My advice is to look at this economic downturn like a a necessary forest fire. We've learned over time that you need these fires to clean up forests so you can start again. And, things to start again rather quickly if you give them a chance. Of course, things get burned, and no one likes that.

You can only hope though, that along with the books telling of the great FDR legend of the New Deal, there are also a slew of books arguing that the New Deal did nothing but greatly prolong the (coming) depression.

Because I'm sure he reads this blog, let me explain a few other things to Obama. For one thing, failure provides opportunity for others. The market (actually markets) is not meant to be a parade of good times for ever, but a platform where people can try and make money. No one argues that some regulation of industries is not necessary to avoid fraud, but, too much regulation is like too much aspirin or too much water. Keep saying to yourself, everything in moderation. Last, if you continuously prop up a failing economy, you get a monster on stilts that can only limp along. Notice how nothing Bush has done (and which has been approved of by the left) has worked.

Lastly, and I hope you don't mind if I call you Barack, nothing you have conceived so far is going to work. We have an economy based on constant growth, and, only legislation which helps the economy produce more goods and provide more services will work in the long run. So, if you borrow from the American people (or from Japan or China so that the American people have to pay back the loan) it is not going to help much in the long run unless a sustainable business(es) comes out of it that produces substantially more than we spend in principal and interest. I wish I could say this is just common sense, but, apparently, it's not.


It was probably just after the election when we started hearing talk radio refer to the recession as the Obama recession, months before he even takes office, in the hopes that if said enough times, people would believe it. And, no doubt, as the economy worsens, and I am pessimistically confident that it will, his political enemies will blame him.

This highly influential blog (and by that I mean more people read it than will both climb Mount Everest this year and win Lotto in the same year) will protest the absolutely ridiculous charges from the right that blame Obama for everything just as we tried to do when Bush was getting blamed for everything by the left.

Of course, I hear those on the right say they will give him a chance. What they mean is that if Obama suddenly becomes an arch-conservative, they will like him. Is it not clear that this isn't going to happen? And why should it? He ran as a moderate (hah) and he should govern like one (again, may I say, hah).

I hate to say it, but, I tried to tell my friends on the left and the right, when they were busy calling the other side communists, fascists, stupid, mean-spirited, racist, etc., they would deserve what they got when the other side tried to make their governing as difficult as possible.

Obama won, so he must suffer the consequences of having campaigned this way just as McCain would have suffered for his extravagancies had he won.

So, as ridiculous as the charges are so far claiming that Obama must be responsible for Blagojevich's sins and as ridiculous as the attacks from the gay community that he is having the very popular Rick Warren say a few words at the ignauguration (so Obama can show how religious he is), he deserves it. Moreso, so do his followers who were busy calling names all during the elections. Yes, it makes people mad to be falsely accused (even when they are doing the same thing) and they get revenge.

The winner of the contest for best name-calling this year goes to a liberal close to me who described -- of all people -- Joe Lieberman as a "sneaky, unprincipled, self serving, ugly old man". He also said that Lieberman made him want to vomit, that he should be ridiculed and that he is pissed off at him. And then, and this is my personal favorite, he called him unctuous. Of course, what made him mad was that Lieberman, a liberal and Democrat, acted out of principal in supporting McCain and the Iraqi War against his own political interests. The last thing any partisan wants is for someone on their side to act out of principal. It's outrageous.

There seems to be two reasons that this name calling is so prevalent. First, it feels good for people to do it, at least for a while. Second, there is the belief that it works politically, that all the other voters are dumber than the name caller and will believe all the negative things they hear.

Sometimes, of course, negative attacks do work, but they rarely work with people not already convinced of the basic evilness of the other side. Ask yourself, has Ann Coulter convinced a lot of liberals to become conservative? Has Al Franken or Randie Rhodes made inroads among conservatives. No. So, where getting out the base is key to an election, it might work. In this election, which was about independents, moderates and pulling people across the line, it did not work.


I don't know about the rest of you, but I am really excited about Illinois' troubled governor, Rod Blagojevich, giving a press conference today against his attorney's advice about his alleged "pay for play" scheme, which I call Blagoball.

I am not convinced of anything yet. Perhaps, as the nation's most famous deputy U.S. Attorney and the FBI claims, Blago is off his political rocker and has sought to sell the office of Senate. Or perhaps the government is, as usual, going off the deep end and Blago has done nothing more but verbalize the horse trading that goes on constantly in politics. If money or exchange of favors is mentioned in these taps, then he is done. If not, he will skate to the government's great embarrassment.
We've just seen government overstate it's claims too many times to just take their word for anything.

Being convinced is one thing, of course, and being biased is another. I am biased against him because I am biased against politicians and because he viscerally reminds me of someone we should not trust. If I had to bet, he's going down.

Then again, while we are discussing visceral reactions, I feel kind of the same about Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel. He has always seemed to me an over the top, angry, partisan warrior, and I have trouble not believing he will come to a bad end.

Of course, Obama's enemies are already trying to stretch every word into meaning he or his staff, particularly Emmanuel, was somehow playing Blagoball, even though the U.S. attorney's office has said that the tapes make it clear that he wasn't offering anyway. The question raised by commentators on the right is -- wait a minute -- was Emmanuel aware that Blago was looking for quid pro quo? If so, why wasn't it reported? Big hint: If it happened and wasn't reported, it's because of local politics. Not a tough one.

Today's laugh

Having a laugh right now as the media is focusing on the fact that Bill Clinton received millions of dollars in contributions from Saudi Arabian rulers. Oh my God, he's consorting with the enemy. Heavens to Betsey (and much hand wringing). Have we forgotten all those pictures of the Bushes and the princes, even holding hands? Here's a question - would you rather he got the money, or, terrorists. Let's take all the money we can from them.

And that's the laugh of the day. but, stay tuned for Blago's press conference. Should be good for a chuckle.

Politics, sheesh.

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .