Sunday, January 22, 2012

Political update for January, 2012

It is here, a year of ugliness and hysteria, where reason is replaced by sneers, an itch scratched becomes a character flaw exposed, a tired cracked voice is a howl and every actual flaw is either an unbearable  offense or a poorly orchestrated hit job by the opposition, depending on whose ox . . . .

Whatever scandals erupt or are created by the media or opposition research, partisans of both sides deserve each other. The things we should remember this year is that allegiance to party means non-allegiance to country and that partisanship makes everyone a little crazy. Here’s my new year commentary on the whole slop:


Perry can blame no one but himself for his poor performance. It was one of the worst run campaigns, rotting from the top, that has been seen in a long time. Those advisers and campaign workers who fled from Gingrich en masse to Perry must have actually regretted it and that is hard to believe.

Perry teaches us several things though, that are well worth remembering. First, fanfare about someone entering the race is just media hype. It may be accompanied by big numbers at first, but it is meaningless. Rudy, Giuliani and Fred Thompson in 2008 and Huntsman, Cain,  Bachmann and Perry this time all attracted lots of attention. So what?

Next, it reminds us that though the United States is a religious nation, in general, few have a taste for inviting even more religion in the door. Almost everyone believes in God,and last survey I read something over 40% attended services weekly.But, other than a small group of people, we don’t want our politicians to try and be religious leaders or to drag religion into the White House.


Partisanship is like watching sausage being made. Very ugly. Can you imagine if the same report was made about Obama asking his wife for an open marriage, how many conservatives would find that forgivable? Imagine how many liberals would believe it was true? To both the answer is not very many. The bottom line should be that adultery - wrong, but a human failing which does not make someone untrustworthy in other arenas - should not be a weapon in a political contest. But, liberals and cons are identical in tactics, should drop crowing and heehawing when it is the other guy, and snarling and disbelieving it when it is their own. But, because they don't, they get what they deserve.

My personal loathing for Gingrich is well known for the millions of people (if you count individual cells) who read this blog. His victory in South Carolina is distressing to me, but it is hard to say what it means.

The conventional wisdom is that South Carolina picks the Republican nominee, and historical, it is true. But, every election brings new and surprising things that make a mockery of conventional wisdom. There being a President Barack Obama  is enough to tell us that. And, this time there is a twist on the usual facts.

Different situation no. 1: The tea party. 64% of the voters were tea partiers in South Carolina. They largely voted for Gingrich, not Romney or the others. But, the rest of the country has to some degree become disenchanted with the tea party. That doesn’t mean, of course, that it will not be very influential in Republican politics and primaries, but it is especially heavy in South Carolina. Additionally, Gingrich did best by far among the evangelicals who also make up an unusually large percentage of South Carolinian Republican primary voters (65%). The Carolinas have more than half as many again evangelicals as say, Florida, the next state to come up in primaries and it has very high church attendance. This may make a big difference there as opposed to non-southern states (or, Utah, which will vote for Romney).

On the other hand, the media does have power, and they make a big deal out of South Carolina as kingmaker, and many people just like to follow along. I am hopeful that an independent strain prevails.

It amazes me that Gingrich was able to sway so many evangelicals, but much of it has to be his demagoguery with respect to American Muslims, atheists and gays as well as the well known antipathy by some to Mormons, which swung them, because, really, considering his Catholicism, his three marriages, serial adultery and his not so ultra-conservative views on things like global warming and immigration, you have to wonder. Even Ann Coulter has been a Romney man, and has written some excellent articles tearing down Gingrich. If Ann Coulter is for Romney, it is hard to understand how other evangelicals are not.

I’ve said for a long time, I missed big time with my Gingrich predictions. I didn’t think he would get in and then I thought he would stumble out. He is bright, ambitious, glib and passionate. It is possible he could be the man. But, I sure hope not.


Since the beginning, I have wanted a libertarian in there. Gary Johnson was preferable to me, but, he had no shot at all (his third party run will create, no doubt, much excitement among his family and friends. So, I'm left with Paul. But, if he cannot prevail, I cannot see another possibility to not only undo the excesses of the Bush/Obama years, but to fundamentally change our system.

Sure, it would be difficult for any president to get congress to do what Paul wants done, and he has acknowledged that, but I do not think he is an extremist like some people do. With the sole exception that he seems to think there is no threat to us from radical Islam without our being overseas and that we started it (I’m not impressed by his going back to the 1953 Iranian cult to prove we’ve intervened too much).

Yet, if the Republicans control congress (short of being filibuster proof), and especially if the Tea Party Caucus retains heavy influence in congressional politics, then yes, I think is possible that the following might, I said might, be accomplished to a far greater extent than if any other candidate or the incumbent wins:

-The fed will become more transparent (but will not end).

-We will scale down our military, particularly our overseas military (but we will not retreat from the world militarily), but not our defensive capacity.  Paul makes much of the difference between military and defense in his speeches. Not many listen. And, it can be argued, that since no one would attack us here except in a terrorist attack, but will attack us overseas (we have business everywhere), that he does not understand it is not as severable as he might think.

-We will slowly undo TARP control of banks, put an end to the bailout mentality, the picking of winners and too big to fail in favor of a do or die market economy.

-Welfare and entitlements will drastically changes so that there is no culture of welfare, but it becomes closer to the safety net for which it was intended. This will be replaced by an insurance program on a competitive basis with provisions made for the poor.

-Obstacles for markets to perform outside of the dictates of the government will be pared back, but hardly done away with.

-Foreign aid will be scaled back, but also hardly done away with, particularly to Israel and other countries with a special relationship with us.

-The federal budget will be slashed.

-Tax rates will be lowered to correspond to the smaller budget (but the income tax will not disappear).

- Rule by presidential fiat will be lessened. Both Bush, whose defenders promoted the idea of the unitary executive and Obama, who seems to think presidential order is a good way to rule, have seriously diluted constitutional protections against a tyrannical president. Both sides would point to the other as an excuse to continue the practice. It is merely one more excuse. But, I believe Paul would not operate in that fashion – at least not to the same degree. Of course, politicians tend to disappoint, don’t they?

Despite all this, and other possible changes, the nanny state will not disappear, as people like not having lead paint on their walls, sucking down cigarette smoke in restaurants or having drunk drivers ruling the roads. Our military alliances will stay intact although some apparatus, like NATO, may greatly change and someone else will be paying for it. Federal Civil Rights laws will not be changed, at least, not more than if he wasn’t president.

I listen to all these guys (the remaining four) make speeches all the time. Romney talks about business and tweaking the status quo. Santorum talks about morality and tweaking the status quo. Gingrich talks about everything in terms of bold and fundamental changes, which is really tweaking the status quo, and Ron Paul talks about freedom. I like that better.

If I am rating them on speaking ability, I rate Paul after Gingrich, because Paul does not his subject, and his followers love his hobbit like appearance and style.

Paul's chances as a Republican, and he is not going third party no matter what in my opinion, are very small despite his ability to stick with around. His candidacy is mostly a pipe dream and a prod to whoever wins.


Here is what it comes down to. Rush Limbaugh has decreed that independents don’t matter. Republicans must DEFEAT the Democrats. He even declared that Romney was done fairly early in the process for one heresy or another (I think it was something about immigration). Of course, ironically, he has reluctantly come to Romney’s aid by bashing Gingrich over his attacks on Bain Capital.

But, independents do matter. They will in fact likely pick the next president, by the weight of the majority of their votes one way or the other. It is the reason that Romney is roughly tied with Obama in head to head polls and Gingrich gets trounced.

Romney and Gingrich’s styles and strategy are basically, the tortoise and hare. Gingrich is the hare, all flash and frivolity, look at me, look at me, look at me. Romney did best when he managed to shrug his shoulders, tortoise-like, and look like the adult up there (but not so adult that he comes off like Herman Munster scolding Eddie as he did after he lost South Carolina). Romney is bland. Not Dukakis bland. But bland. And any new face coming up in the polls looked exciting to him. But, slowly, or sometimes quickly, they faded and he stayed about where he is – slightly better nationally than his 27.8% finish in South Carolina.


I really have little to say about him because I don’t think he is going to be around very long, whatever he says. Bachmann and Cain and Perry and Huntsman all said they weren't leaving. My only question for him is – does he endorse Romney or Gingrich (I think we all know that Paul is out of the question)? Endorsements really mean next to nothing, but it will be a news cycle.

Santorum is actually the most personally likeable of the four left, if you ask me. That’s subjective, of course. Though like all politicians (people), he is flawed, I would still likely vote for him if it were – however unlikely – Santorum v. Obama. That's not saying much as I would vote for Paul and Romney too (not Gingrich - I'd vote 3d party or stay home). I don’t like the whole anti-gay rights thingee he’s got going, but I disagree with most conservatives on that point. I’ve seen him interviewed on C-Span, which lets famous people present themselves in a non-antagonistic way and I like him. I think he would endorse Gingrich, as they seem to be friends. But, again, so what? The majority of his followers would gravitate their anyway.


Who is killing Iranian scientists? I don’t know, but if it is us, it is a bad idea. We are not at war with them. Not yet, anyway. You can’t just say, well, had someone killed Hitler . . . because that legitimizes murder by any country or ideology of any other. Iran has not shown itself to be Nazi Germany although I despise their government and almost no one in the West would consider them a free country. Part of me wishes they would attack one of our ships (unsuccessfully) but I am reminded of the warning to be careful of what you wish for – you might get it. I expect in ten years that many more countries have the bomb anyway.

If it is Israel doing it – and it looks like it is either them or someone trying to look like them - that is a harder question. I  sure don’t speak Farsi and I am just not convinced about the translations of certain quotations attributed to their spokesmen I've read. It seems to me, from the little research I could do, that quotes from Ahmadinejad about wiping Israel off the face of the earth are not correct (I have even analyses by Israelis or Jews who read Farsi claim it is a mistranslation), though obviously, he is extremely antagonistic to Israel. However, it appears that their Supreme Leader, Khamenei has made it clear that Iran and Israel are on a "collision course."  We are continuously told that Iran is funding Hizbollah and Hamas and whether I can personally verify it myself, it seems highly likely.  If that is true, then it is as good as war for Israel and I can see why they would not want even the remote possibility of an Iranian bomb.

But, please, no war for us with Iran, outside of completely repulsing and punishing any attack on us. And if that happens, we should not put troops on the ground other than what is needed other than to secure Iraqi borders (and that only if it can be done relatively safely). We should go into the straights of Hormuz full naval force and take "as a prize" any Iranian vessel which is aggressive with our ships based on the principles of freedom of navigation. If that is met with bombs or terrorist attacks, then we do have to step it up to make the government of Iran loathsome to its own people. It is possible in today's world to get the word out to them, despite their tyranny. But I see no need for ground troops, save, potentially, a strong special forces attack on a so-called nuclear site to see if there is any truth to it. But, these hit jobs are wrong.


Martin Luther King Day has passed and once again I am struck by the number of conservatives who seem bothered by it being celebrated. They insist it is not racism, and maybe it is not. But, I think for some it is. While I do not believe most conservatives are racist, I am often saddened by the continued bigotry of some, particularly older conservatives I know, who actually detest the civil rights hero (and loathe Obama on a very personal level). MLK is a great American in my book, and to accentuate his flaws - mostly that he wasn't faithful to his wife – and ignore his accomplishments is to make a mockery of some of their own elected leaders. I'm glad to see some other conservatives pulling the other way. Before someone mentions that it was Democrats who opposed civil rights, the southern Democrats were conservatives, and many fled their party after Johnson pushed it through. The 60s was the source of some left wing problems and excesses we still struggle with but the civil rights aspect greatly improved this country and King, with courage and creativity, helped changed our little corner of the universe for the better. It is hard to think of any political/moral leader who deserves it more. I’ll take suggestions.  If the fact that Washington and Lincoln each don’t have their own day like King bothers enough people, then fine, fix the supposed slight. Most people want more holidays.

And, none of the three could care less.


  1. Okay Mr. Brainy Political Pundit, Gingrich won SCarolina and you don't know WHY?? Because the alternative is a MORMON! If there's one thing a god-loving South Carolinan hates almost as much as blacks and jews, its MORMONS! That's why Romney lost.
    Item 2: You don't know who wacked the Iranian nuclear scientist? Oh, that's rich. It must have been the Fuller Brush Man. Here's today's reality check: put dead, Iranian, and nuclear in the same sentence and it always equals MOSSAD.
    You are really a lovable,but naive ninny.

  2. You must have missed the 4th para. under Gingrich where I said why he won - relatively large numbers of tea partiers and evangelicals, a large plurality of whom voted for Gingrich. The Mormon thing is a part of it, no doubt, but a 2011 Gallup poll showed Democrats less likely to vote for a Mormon than Republicans on the whole.

    As to Iran, I said either Mossad or someone trying to look like Mossad. It doesn't take much - motorcycles and a bomb.


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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 . . . .