We’re Doing It Again

I have written several times about the foolishness of allowing leftists to select the Republican presidential candidate.  It was a huge mistake with John McCain and it would be an even worse mistake now—not to mention that it would almost certainly cause Barack Obama to be re-elected.

Let’s review the history.  Until the Republican convention in St. Paul, Senator McCain was the darling of the media, with terms like “maverick” and “capable of crossing the aisle” used in profusion.  Right until he was actually nominated.  Then the press turned on him like a pack of wolves, and partly because McCain had never really impressed conservatives very much, it was fairly easy for the press to sway the public to their favored candidate.

And now they are trying the same thing again.  Just change the name “McCain” to “Romney” in the above paragraph and it all still holds true.

Let’s consider how the media have tried to take down every other conservative and/or Republican candidate.  The following are a few selected headlines about some conservatives:

Bachmann:

  • Queen of Rage (Newsweek)
  • Bachmann Assumes the Position (Washington Post)
  • Michele Bachmann Salutes the Upside to Slavery (Forbes)

Palin

  • Palin delivers a gaffe-filled message (CNN)
  • Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Blood is on Sarah Palin’s Hands After Putting Cross Hairs Over District (New York Daily News)
  • Wingnut Debt Ceiling Demands (CNN) (Actually this was placed above photos of Palin, Rubio, and Gingrich.)

Cain

  • Herman Cain’s Bigotry (New York Times)
  • Let Herman Be Gone (Washington Post)

Contrast this with the softballs that have been thrown at the incumbent:  “The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal” (Bloomberg), which manages to be both untrue and misleading in the same statement.

So the strategy is obvious.  The press are going to try to remove every real conservative until their favored Republican is the last man standing.  And then they will turn on him, which will allow President Obama his second term.

That is almost reason to oppose Romney alone—even without my doubts about his policies.

I firmly believe in the vetting process.  We do need to let these candidates stand up to the withering fire of the left, because if they can not survive it as candidates they will surely be unable to withstand it as President.  Nevertheless, this process is (or at least is supposed to be) for Republicans to decide who will be their candidate.  It is my personal preference that the candidate have acceptable conservative policies and viewpoints.

But as I’ve mentioned before, the Republicans could nominate Elmer Fudd and I would cheerfully support him.  I think it important to the country to see that President Obama not be allowed to wreak further havoc on our polity.

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Republican Lite vs. Conservatives

I have rarely been as annoyed at an op-ed as I was this morning by Peggy Noonan’s piece “The Divider vs. the Thinker“. I do not have the time, the stomach, or the inclination to dissect the many factual and logical errors in her piece, but I will focus on two especially egregious ones.

First, Ms. Noonan says that Occupy Wall Street “seem[s] as incapable of seeing government as part of the problem as Republicans seem of seeing business as part of the problem.”  The logical fallacy is that Republicans, or at least conservatives, are not as enslaved by businesses as Ms. Noonan suggests.  The factual fallacy is that businesses were not part of the problem, except to the extent that they obeyed the mandates placed on them by an uncaring, unthinking, and dysfunctional government.  And, at the time, there was a Democrat president and both houses of Congress were run by Democrats with veto-proof majorities.

Let us all remember Janet Reno (who, last time I checked, is a Democrat) threatening businesses who did not comply with federal investigations.  Essentially saying that if banks did not make loans to people who couldn’t repay them, they would face expensive federal investigations.  In that light, I don’t see that banks had too many options!

And let’s also remember that Chris Dodd and Barney Frank—both of whom, to put it charitably, have ethical challenges in this whole affair, given that they were both getting sweetheart mortgage deals from Countrywide—were staunch defenders of the management and financial stability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac throughout the entire Bush administration.  Of course, the Bush administration tried to reform Fannie and Freddie but were blocked by Democrat opposition.

No.  Business wasn’t part of this problem.  Government and Democrats were the entire problem.

Second, Ms. Noonan ends the piece by praising Paul Ryan by cherry-picking some of his comments to make him appear liberal and then saying that “If more Republicans thought—and spoke—like this, the party would flourish.”  This is arrant nonsense and is more of the “Republicans need to be more liberal in order to get elected” meme that leftists and some RINOs constantly tout.

In my view, John McCain lost the last presidential election precisely because he billed himself as “Democrat Lite”.  He therefore didn’t appeal to most Democrats who would understandably prefer to have the real hard-core leftist than the “lite” variety, and he also didn’t appeal to most Republicans who didn’t want any sort of Democrat, “lite” or not.

In this upcoming presidential election, Republicans need to grow a spine and nominate a bona-fide conservative.  Given Obama’s job-approval numbers and the fact that an increasing number of people are identifying themselves as conservatives, we should be able to engineer a landslide victory.  Then, as I’ve mentioned many times, it will be time to govern according to conservative principles. 

We’ve given the leftists total power in the form of both houses of Congress and the presidency for two years, and near total power for another year or so, and it has done grave damage to the Republic.  The time is coming for conservatives to start fixing the mess that leftist policies have created—yet again.

The Increasing Desperation of the Left

Many other writers have written about the notion that the left is becoming increasingly desperate.  They obviously know that they got “shellacked” in the midterms, and they clearly sense that the upcoming general elections could easily go against them.  Again I am taking the “laundry-list” approach to examine just how desperate they have become.

  • “Occupy Wall Street” seems to be the American version of the austerity riots in Greece and elsewhere.  Their idiocy knows no bounds, and they fail to notice that “Wall Street” financial types have donated far more money to left-wing causes and Obama’s campaign than to conservative causes.
  • Vice-President Biden has gone to the extraordinary length of claiming that rape and murder rates will rise if Congress does not pass the so-called “Jobs Bill”—or as I like to call it “Stimulus 2.5”.
  • As we have all noticed, Democrats are tossing charges of “RAAACISM” at anything that moves and isn’t left-leaning.  As I noted in an earlier piece, they have done this so extensively that the charge is largely losing its power.
  • In a stunning move, radical leftist Roseanne Barr called for the rich to be beheaded.  (Is the phrase “radical leftist Roseanne Barr” redundant?)
  • After the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, the left all jumped on the bandwagon that the violence was attributable to Sarah Palin, Conservative talk show hosts, or the right in general.  Of course, this continues a theme that we have noticed before: they did the same thing after the Oklahoma City Bombing, Ted Kaczynski, and a number of other infamous acts.
  • The many acts of union thuggery, beginning in Wisconsin but continuing in Washington State and elsewhere, is one of the more obvious signs of desperation.  Throw in the demented statements of union leaders like Richard Trumka and you can see a textbook case of radical left-wing desperation.
  • In one of the more amusing examples, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue advocated suspending Congressional elections.  While she quickly backed away from her (on the record, recorded) statements, it not only highlights the totalitarian leanings of the left, but again their desperation.
  • In the run-up to the midterm elections, there were many examples of near panic.  My favorite was when Illinois Democrat Congresswoman Debbie Halverson’s campaign was caught red-handed planting “Nazi” signs at her opponent’s campaign event.  (Thankfully, her opponent, Adam Kinzinger won.)
  • If an reader has a strong enough stomach, a reading of DNC (or any other left-leaning organization) press releases show an increasingly strident tone and often resort to scare tactics.

This list is by no means comprehensive.  The writing is on the wall.  The left can see the same signs that we all see:  unless something cataclysmic happens, conservatives are very likely to see some big gains in the next election.

If we do see conservative gains, we need to be ready to govern.  We need conservative candidates to run on a clear, well-articulated platform, and we need to stay on message.  The message is simple: virtually all of the problems that the country faces have been caused by leftist policies, and electing conservatives will help to begin to fix things.  (Note that I did not say that we need to elect Republicans, but conservatives.)

We also need to be cautious about over-promising.  Even if we elect a veto-proof conservative majority in both houses and a conservative President, we still won’t be able to fix everything that the leftists have messed up in one term, so we need to be very clear with the electorate that this is the beginning of a long-term solution to the problems that we face—and that we will need their continued support.

On Trades Unions

We recently saw a huge debate about the role of public sector unions in Wisconsin.  In my view, the good guys won in the end, with a trouncing of the leftist public sector unions, a state supreme court election, and federal court decisions that indicate that the victory is likely to remain in place.   Even the leftists’ recall effort was thwarted, thankfully.

So now the Obama regime has attempted to tilt the scale towards the unions again, this time for private-sector unions.  First we have the radical National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) attempting to tell a major corporation where it may (or may not) produce its products.  In this case, Boeing has a clear case for overreach on the part of the NLRB.  But in a move largely ignored by the leftist press, the NLRB has also proposed wide-reaching changes in labor laws that would clearly favor unions over employers.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I have a very personal bias in labor matters.  First, I have been a member of three different unions, in widely different industries.  In each case, they have actually done me harm—and also did harm to many of my colleagues.  I’m also opposed to labor unions (both public and private sector) for political and philosophical reasons.   But most of all, I’m opposed to unions because of their bullying and coercion.  When I was “invited” to become a member of the Steelworkers, it was difficult not to notice that the union steward was accompanied by the biggest and toughest guy in the plant.

My philosophical objection is based on the principle of self-reliance.   I have also been an independent consultant for more than 10 years.  I negotiated my own prices, and negotiated other conditions myself—and my clients were some of the largest multi-national corporations in the world.  I believe that I gave them good value for their money—and they must have thought so too, because my services were in continual demand.  Union members, on the other hand, have so little faith in their own value that they resort to mob action to get their way.

I do think there’s a difference between public and private sector unions.  An hundred years ago, you could make the case for a private-sector union and the advances they made for workers in the steel mills, coal mills, and heavy industry in the United States and elsewhere.  But today, their harmful effects are obvious: overpriced labor has closed most of the steel mills, much of the heavy industry, and is close to destroying the domestic automobile industry.   Public sector unions, on the other hand are an unmitigated ill.  A recent article by James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation in the New York Times noted that “The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create.  Government workers, however, don’t generate profits.  They merely negotiate for more tax money.  When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers.  F.D.R. considered this ‘unthinkable and intolerable.’”

It is also interesting how many of the unions today (mostly on the private-sector side) act in contravention of the wishes of their membership.  Take, for example, this story of an Ohio Education Association member whose husband was running for political office—as a Republican, and the union ran attack ads against him.  As she put it, “in effect, [they] are using my union dues to attack my husband!  This is a new low, even for the OEA.”

Public-sector unions have one feature that makes them far worse than their private-sector counterparts: they end up taking enforced dues from government workers, and then using the dues directly for campaigns—essentially using the union as a money-laundering enterprise.  In short, taxpayer money goes more-or-less directly to subsidize Democrat campaigns.  (Yes, these are generally Democrat political campaigns, although not invariably.)

And, of course, we cannot ignore how the unions destroy jobs.  A 2009 Heritage Foundation study, “What Unions Do: How Labor Unions Affect Jobs and the Economy”, also by James Sherk, noted that a pattern holds true in many industries:  “Between new companies starting up and existing companies expanding, non-union jobs grow by roughly 3 percent each year, while 3 percent of union jobs disappear.[26] In the long term,  unionized jobs disappear and unions need to replenish their membership by organizing new firms. Union jobs have disappeared especially quickly in industries where unions win the highest relative wages.[27]  Widespread unionization reduces employment opportunities.”

In my opinion, with the many union missteps we’ve seen in recent months, conservatives have an excellent opportunity to make fundamental changes to labor and campaign laws.  And it is clearly time to rethink what the relationship between government, labor, and businesses ought to be.

Sarah Palin, The Party of “No”, &c.

Over at National Review Online, Jay Nordlinger does a weekly column that is often sprinkled with brief snippets that are illuminating and often fun.  I confess that I am impertinently stealing his shtick—even to the extent of throwing in a little musical snippet, because we share a great love for music.

*  *  *

Just a few months ago, leftists were excoriating conservatives for being “the party of ‘No’”.   (To which conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, answered that we were actually the party of “Hell No!”)  Take, as an example, this politico article.

But now the shoe is on the other foot.  Leftists in the House haven’t put forward a budget—a constitutional responsibility—in more than two years; while mouthing mendacious rhetoric about fiscal sanity, they’ve opposed every fiscal sanity measure that the Republicans in both the House and the Senate have proposed.  Who’s the party of “No” now?

*  *  *

I’m continually amazed by the silliness in all this talk of how “weak” the Republican Presidential field is.  Let’s cast our minds back—not far—to the last election cycle.  The Democratics had two first-term Senators running.  One had been first lady, but not much else.  The other was a Chicago machine politician who had really done nothing but made a few good (at least from a leftist perspective) speeches.  And then there were a bunch of also-rans:  Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Dennis Kuchinich, and so on.

Why was nobody talking about how weak their field was?  Why didn’t they focus more on the whackos amongst them and their many gaffes?

Well, besides the obvious left-leaning tilt of the media, which makes it unlikely that they would point out anything even potentially negative about their own favored side, the left is also far more willing to bash and name-call than the right is—at least on an institutional level.  (Yes, I know that there’s plenty of name-calling on the right too, but I think there is a significant difference of degree…and the left is far meaner than the right.)

But what really galls me is when we do it to ourselves.  And I’m not just talking about RINO idiots like David Brooks—who appears to know his Trollope, but is a little weak on his Federalist Papers.  I’m talking about guys like Newt Gingrich, who used to be a genuine conservative leader in the House.  Now he’s doing more damage to the Conservative movement than our opponents.

*  *  *

Contrast and compare:

Hillary Clinton:  “But I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.”

Eva Longoria: “…[Obama] keeps getting beat up lately because there’s such an extremist movement happening and it’s a very dangerous.”  She added that Obama has governed in a “state of emergency.”

*  *  *

A friend has grown to like the music of Richard Wagner and asked me to recommend a good recording of the Ring of the Neibelung.  Personally, I have yet to hear a recording better than the first stereo recording with Maestro Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic.  It’s difficult to find now, but the question made me re-visit my own copy.  What a glorious sound, and what an outstanding cast:  Hans Hotter, Birgit Nilsson, Kirsten Flagstad, Dietrich Fischer-Diskau, Christa Ludwig, George London, Wolfgang Windgassen, and many others–every one could legitimately be called “great.”

The sound technology is old enough that it might offend an audiophile, but the interpretation and singing are, in my opinion, unsurpassed.

In Defense of Capitalism

I should never have to write an article with this title.  As far as I’m concerned, the burden of proof is on anyone who wants to change our economic system to show that their proposed system is better.  To date, none of the modern critics of capitalism have done that.  Marxism/Leninism/Maoism and Socialism writ large have utterly failed at what they purport to desire: the establishment of a system which is “fair” by equalizing outcomes.  (Of course, that is by itself inherently unfair, but that never seems to bother the leftists…)

As I’ve pointed out in other articles, Capitalism has brought freedom and liberty to more people than any other economic system.  Conversely, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and all of the other variants that have been tried at various times and in various countries have invariably led to tyranny, oppression, and often genocide.  Consider Albania, the Soviet Union, Cambodia, the Eastern Bloc, the People’s Republic of China, and many others.  Those societies that have adopted a capitalist system have, by and large, not experienced tyranny or oppression.  Milton Friedman pointed out that Capitalism has also liberated people from grinding poverty, which Socialism and other leftist models have signally failed to do:  “Great achievements in human history come from individuals pursuing their separate interests.  The only cases in which the masses have escaped from grinding poverty…in recorded history…are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.  And if you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that.”

Capitalism implies the existence of certain rights, including the right to make decisions, the right to private property, and the right to exchange your property with another person.  In short, we call this freedom.  Non-capitalist systems invariably limit or do away with these rights—that is, they take freedom away.

Capitalism also implies a moral code.  There are legal, moral, and regulatory limits to the ways in which people can exchange property.  Non-capitalist systems almost invariably do away with a moral code, which causes amoral or immoral consequences.  In the Soviet Union, for example, the express lack of a moral code in society was the proximate cause of behaviors that would, in any other society, be unthinkable.  Stalin’s purges, the reign of terror, the gulag, and the many violent crimes of the October Revolution were all examples of the amorality of the Socialist system.  To quote from Dr. Robert Nash in the Free Republic: “Capitalism should be viewed as a system of voluntary relationships within a framework of laws that protect people’s rights against force, fraud, theft, and violations of contracts. “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not lie” are part of the underlying moral constraints of the system. After all, economic exchanges can hardly be voluntary if one participant is coerced, deceived, defrauded, or robbed.”

One of the biggest failures of leftist economic models is their tendency to view resources as a “zero-sum game.”  Milton Friedman talked about this phenomenon too:  “There’s a terrible tendency, and most economic fallacies derive from that tendency, to think of everything as what the game theorists have come to call a “Zero Sum Game”.  To think there’s a fixed cost and if I get more you must get less.  If somebody was able to make a fortune for himself, he must have done it by grinding under his heel the poor people.  Because the pie is fixed and he takes a bigger part.  The great insight behind the free market, the great insight of Adam Smith’s great book “The Wealth of Nations”, was that it is not a zero sum game–that it is possible for both people to afford to a transaction to benefit.  And that this insight can be used to organize people’s activities over a very wide area.”

I would go a step further.  To the critics of Capitalism that have currently besieged New York and other cities around the nation, I would answer:  What hurts people around the world is NOT an unequal distribution of wealth, but an unequal distribution of Capitalism.  If we were to bring a Capitalist system to those countries that are poorest, you would, in time, see people become free, self-reliant, and ultimately relieved from the grinding poverty that they currently endure.

The thugs occupying Wall Street (and elsewhere) offer only tyranny and oppression.

More Musings on Media Bias

Recently on the “O’Reilly Factor”, Bernard Goldberg used an interesting phrase for what is going on in the media today: he called it “Media Activism.”

The big problem, of course, is that “activism” is the exact opposite of what journalists should be doing.

Back in the day, fledgling journalists were taught to report the “5 Ws”: Who, what, why, where, and when.  (“How” was apparently optional at that time.)  Now they are taught that it is the job of a journalist to “change the world” or to “make a difference” or something else equally silly.  But what this actually means is that the new journalist does not believe in actually reporting events but rather in influencing them.

In other words, activism.

That’s just the “news” side of the house.  On the editorial or “op-ed” side we see a slightly different phenomenon.  Because the editorial staffs, including those who select new writers, are overwhelmingly leftists, they select writers who tend to agree with them philosophically…even when they’re selecting a “conservative” viewpoint.  So we end up with a David Brooks (the token “conservative” at the New York Times)—who is not really a conservative at all.  You can count the number of actual conservatives that write regular op-eds for the major media on one hand:  Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and Cal Thomas are the only ones that leap to my mind.  (My apologies if I have forgotten anyone.)

Instead, representing a purportedly conservative viewpoint, we have to read RINO drivel like that from Brooks, who told us that Obama would be a good President because Brooks liked the crease in his pants.  (I assume and hope that he actually meant trousers…)

The problem with the whole “media activism” thing is that it is costing media outlets dearly.  Most importantly, as I pointed out in my last media bias post, it’s losing them revenue as conservative readers flock to outlets that are friendlier to their ideas.  But, as Mr. Goldberg points out, it’s also costing them in another way:  “There’s a price the media pays for this kind of thing…with their most valuable commodity, their credibility.”

And that is really the point.  Who can possibly take a journalist seriously who, like Dan Rather, twists the presentation of news based on his own ideology?  (For those who may not remember, Mr. Rather rushed a story to air that alleged that George W. Bush had shirked his duties while in the Texas Air National Guard.  But it turned out that the documents on which the story was based were forged.  As far as I know, Mr. Rather has still not acknowledged that the documents were forged.  Such is his hatred for former President Bush.)

As I said in a previous post, I also would not favor journalism biased in the opposite way.

A 2010 Rasmussen poll found that two thirds of American voters are at least somewhat angry at the media, including one third who said that they are “very angry.”  As Brent Bozell, the chairman of the conservative Media Research Center said about the study:  “The liberal media lost touch with the public and fair reporting long ago, and Americans are sick of their lavish praise for a President that is leading our country and economy into a disastrous state.  The American people are abandoning the old media by the millions because they are simply fed up.”

The part that astonishes me is that the “old media” seem to be willing to watch their businesses go down the tubes rather than treat their customers fairly.  On the other hand, perhaps it should not surprise me, since that would be totally consistent with their anti-capitalist views.