Archive for December, 2011

 

Home brewed christmas beer, a spiced Baltic porter

Monday, December 19th, 2011

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The Republican Candidates

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Every four years since starting this blog, I’ve done a rundown of the presidential candidates before the first primary/caucus votes are cast. So it’s time to maintain that tradition, giving you my opinion and recommendations. This year, there are only Republicans running in the primary, so that is who we will run down. This election year we may wind up seeing third party candidates run, and if the Republicans nominate a dope, then those third party candidates may deserve a close look. But for now, we’ll just stick to the Republicans. I’ve been debating whether or not to include dropout Herman Cain in this analysis, and I guess I’ll include him at the end if I have enough time. Otherwise, it’s on to the candidates. I’m addressing them in roughly the order of their appearance in recent polling data:

Willard Mitt Romney:

Mitt Romney has been the presumptive nominee for some time, and given Republicans propensity to nominate the guy next in line, it would be foolhardy to dismiss Romney’s chances at securing the nomination. Having said that, it is my opinion that Romney would be a disaster for the party if nominated, and would likely lose handily to President Obama.

There are two main issues that this campaign will hinge on: 1) Obama’s handling of the economic crisis and failure to take us out of it, and 2) Obamacare. One may even argue that Obamacare should be #1 because it was Obama’s signature legislative achievement during his first four years And certainly, many people, myself included, would argue that the two issues are intimately related, that businesses are refusing to hire because they want to see the fallout from Obamacare come first.

Moreover, Republicans have been fighting the Democratic urge to socialize medicine since at least the Truman administration. And despite Democrats fighting for this for the better part of half a century, Democrats still didn’t have a consensus to socialize medicine, nor did they really have the votes. But they passed it anyway, adding fuel to the fire of teh Tea Party movement, which helped to usher in the Republican house and nearly the Senate in 2010.

So given that, it would seem odd indeed to select Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee in 2012. Romney had implemented a pre-cursor type program in Massachusetts, dubbed Romneycare, and had written in his book (first edition) that he thought it could act as a template for the nation. His current stance, that it was good for Massachusetts but would be bad for the country, rings hollow.

What’s worse, perhaps, is that Romney blew what could have been a prime opportunity to rectify this situation when Obamacare was undergoing passage. Had Romney stood up, and said, “Look, I tried this in Massachusetts, and look what it’s done. I learned from my mistake, don’t repeat it.” he could have been a potent voice for stopping Obamacare, and he could have become a hero to the Tea Party folk. But instead, he tried to be “consistent” by removing the passage from his book where he said that Romneycare could be a model for the nation.

It’s also important to note that Romney has never held a controversial position in his life. Rather, throughout his political career, he has tries to alter his views, or undergo change of hearts, to develop new positions that would appeal to the group of people whose votes he was trying to get. As a result, he has never held a difficult or controversial position and tried to stick with it. In every debate, Romney always tries to say that his opponents just don’t understand his positions, but he never says “Look, I’m right and you’re wrong and here’s why.” I can’t imagine that this pattern will change during the general election.

And it is during the general election when that will matter most. If Erik Erickson is to be believed, Obama is planning to run an election challenging the “moral basis of capitalism”. He is itching to run against Romney because he believes that Romney personifies the cartoon greedy capitalist who steals from the working class. While Romney certainly built companies up, like most private equity players, Romney almost certainly took dividend recaps out of companies only to let them go bankrupt, a practice that is rather widespread today and which infuriates the employees of the companies so raped. Romney seems unlikely to have either the stamina or the ability to defend himself from the planned attack, let alone to defend the entire free enterprise system. For that we will need someone else. Hence, I cannot vote for Romney in the primary.

(I will likely not vote for him in the general election either if nominated. This is because the Republican leadership really needs to be taught a lesson, and voting for Romney teaches them that I’m willing to vote for whatever POS candidate they shove in front of me. I’m not, so I won’t.)

Newt Gingrich:

There will always be a soft spot in the hearts of rank and file Republicans for Newt Gingrich, if only because of the upset he architected in 1994. This is partly why he finds himself at the head of the pack in the Republican primary.

The other reason why he finds himself where he is is that Republicans have not had an articulate presidential nominee since 1984, 27 years ago. Let us review:

  • 1988 and 1992: George HW Bush. He could put a complete sentence together, but admitted to having had no “vision thing”. And what little of it he did have involved “1000 points of light” which was another way of saying “I think Reagan was a meanie and I aim to return the Republican party over to the old guard again”. He was largely successful in doing that, but utterly demoralized the rank and file of the party in so doing.
  • 1996: Bob Dole. Septuagenarian Bob Dole spoke about himself in the third person on the campaign trail, when he was capable of putting a sentence together. He won the nomination largely by trashing Steve Forbes flat tax plan with the help of Alphonse D’Amato, thus demoralizing fiscal conservatives. With no platform on which to differentiate himself from Clinton, and coming across as a crank and an old coot, Bob Dole lost.
  • 2000 and 2004: George W Bush. Bush could barely put a sentence together, and proved to be very similar to his father when he adopted as his vision thing something called “compassionate conservatism”, which was another way of saying “I think Reagan was a meanie and I aim to return the Republican party over to the old guard again”. Except that George W Bush had become born again, and was thus able to hoodwink the evangelical religious right into voting for him. He barely beat John F Kerry for reelection, which is a frightening thought. George Bush demoralized the base with programs like No Child Left Behind and the Harriet Miers nomination. And he ended his administration “Abandoning capitalism in order to ‘save’ it”. Once again, the base was demoralized, embarrassed and a bit enraged.
  • 2008: John McCain. Another septuagenarian nominated, another disaster. John McCain made his name in politics by being the Republican continually willing to stick his thumb in the eye of his party in exchange for media accolades. And boy, did he ever get media accolades. Unfortunately, McCain expected these accolades to keep up when he got the nomination. Silly him. He didn’t understand that parading Republicans who criticize their own party serves the media’s interests, namely, helping the Democrats win. When John McCain became the nominee, he no longer served the media’s purpose, and was dispensed with. McCain seemed surprised by this turn of events, and hasn’t been heard from since.

So in light of that horrible train wreck of nominees, it is understandable why the Republicans should so yearn for somebody who can make the Republican case articulately. Unfortunately, Newt Gingrich’s words do not really mirror his actions. Ron Paul has been running an ad showing Gingrich’s many transgressions, including:

  • His support for an individual mandate (aka Obamacare)
  • His work for Freddie Mac as a “historian” netting $1.6 million on the eve of the company’s collapse
  • Calling Paul Ryan’s plan to reform medicare “right wing social engineering”
  • Appearing in an ad with Nancy Pelosi calling for a curb on carbon emissions due to man made global warming.

The first point should be an automatic disqualifier for attaining the Republican nomination. The second point is idiotic, but something I could live with. The third and fourth points are his efforts to be welcomed into the cocktail circuit around Washington DC, also something that should be a disqualifier. And finally, despite all his articulate talk, going on to Newt Gingrich’s website reveals very little regarding policy positions. Now I know that all the candidates do this, put up pithy paragraphs instead of real position papers, but Newt’s argument is that he alone has the intellectual heft to carry us through the current crises. Yet his website indicates none of it, leading me to believe that it’s all bluster.

The only reason why I’m considering voting for Newt Gingrich is that for some reason, probably stemming from his personality, Newt utterly appalls the Washington establishment. And the thought of forcing them to deal with someone they don’t like brings me great pleasure. So if he is the nominee, I will consider voting for him. But I may still vote Libertarian as I did in 2008.

Ron Paul:
Ron Paul may well win the Iowa primary this year, and it is conceivable that he could be the nominee. Ron Paul is known as Dr. No in the house, because he’s a medical doctor and he votes no on just about every piece of legislation that comes before the house. He’s been calling for an end to the Federal Reserve and a return to the gold standard for decades, and his warnings about the country’s profligate spending have proved prescient. Paul ran for president as the nominee for the Libertarian party in 1988, and he ran again in 2008 for the Republican nomination coming in fourth place. This year, polls have him coming close to winning in Iowa.

The appeal of Ron Paul is that he is the original libertarian Republican. Iowan Republicans like him because he’s genuinely pro-choice, and Tea Partiers like him because he understands economics the best of the candidates. The reservation people have with respect to Ron Paul is that his foreign policy is essentially isolationist, and thus unrealistic for a global economic power. I’ve written previously about Ron Paul’s foreign policy views, and I too have reservations regarding them. But there are reasons to overlook them.

First, Ron Paul isn’t completely insane. He did vote to authorize action in Afghanistan after 9-11. And one would imagine he wouldn’t hesitate to kill Osama Bin Laden and his ilk either. Second, we’re broke. We really are, and we don’t have the resources to keep invading places. And finally, does anyone doubt that the entire source of our recent foreign policy problems, including 9-11, stems from our decision to invade Kuwait in 1990? We invaded to protect nobody worth protecting, and Saddam Hussein surely would have sold us all the oil we could have ever wanted, and if Saddam had gone in and taken Saudi Arabia as well, we’d likely have been rid of the Wahhabists a long time ago, or at a minimum Osama Bin Laden would have had local issues to contend with, instead of plotting against the United States. After witnessing all the foreign policy blunders of my lifetime, I find it difficult to say that Ron Paul is the dangerous one running for president. And besides which, Ron Paul is 76 years old. He is likely a one term president anyway. if you believe in his economic ideas but dislike his foreign policy, ask yourself, can I live with his foreign policy for just four years?

More importantly, ask yourself if the country can survive for four years without Ron Paul’s economic prescriptions. I would wager that it may not. The country will most assuredly survive four years of Ron Paul’s foreign policy.

If Ron Paul is the Republican Nominee, I will most assuredly vote for him.

Rick Perry:
Rick Perry appeared to be the perfect fusionist candidate, a blend of Ron Paul’s economics with standard Republican foreign policy with some evangelical stuff thrown into the mix as well. Unfortunately, Rick Perry’s opening debate performances were inarticulate, and at times confused. I wouldn’t count Perry out yet, he could stage a comeback. But I believe the Republicans are so starved for an articulate nominee, that Perry has likely screwed up his candidacy beyond repair.

Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann:
I’m grouping these two together as they are more or less one in the same candidate. These are what I call religious identity-poltics candidates. More or less their message is, “vote for me, I go to the same church you go to”. As a result, I find both their campaigns distasteful in the extreme. Rick Santorum especially. Santorum seems to believe that rights stem from families, or some such nonsense. The word family doesn’t even appear in the constitution. It’s just bizarre and misinformed.

Needless to say, there are no circumstances where I vote for either of these two people to be the next president.

Gary Johnson:
What a great candidate running a spectacularly bad campaign. For those not in the know, Gary Johnson is the other libertarian candidate in the race, a two term governor of New Mexico who vetoed over 700 bills and brought the state’s budget into balance. Gary Johnson also was a successful businessman, starting his own company up and selling it for a 7 figure sum. He also is an athlete, and has climbed Mt. Everest.

Johnson has run a terrible campaign, however. He has way overemphasized his stance on legalizing marijuana, and his foreign policy views which are more or less in line with Ron Paul’s. What he should have been saying is this: “Republicans have been searching for a governor who has a real record a reforming a state, and who can bring that experience to Washington. You wanted Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie, but they wouldn’t run. But here I am. I vetoed over 700 bills, I actually shrank headcount in state government in my two terms as governor, and I did it all in a predominantly Democratic state. And when I left office, it was because I was term limited. I’m still well regarded in my home state, and unlike one other governor standing on stage here, if nominated I’ll carry my home state with me.” That would have brought down the house.

Oh well. Maybe in 2016.

Buddy Roemer:
Buddy Roemer was a former house member and governor of Louisiana. His views as expressed on his website seem reasonable, and he looks articulate in his videos. I suppose he would have been a reasonable choice for nominee, but he wasn’t allowed in any debates. At least Johnson was allowed in one or two. More on the debate issue later. Suffice it to say, if Roemer somehow defies all expectations and becomes the nominee, I’ll prolly vote for him.

Jon Huntsman:
Totally forgot about that guy. Why is he running? Anyhow, Jon Huntsman began his campaign by sticking his thumb in the eye of rank and file Republicans, something which is more or less unforgivable, especially coming off as ambassador to China under Obama. I’ve been impressed with him in the debates, and I guess his record is pretty conservative. But he certainly doesn’t excite me. And I think that Republicans have had enough of candidates who thumb their nose at the rank and file (see John McCain).

Jon Huntsman won’t be the nominee, but I suppose I’d vote for him if he were, maybe.

The Debates:
As I noted above, Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer were excluded from all of nearly all of the debates. Given that every candidates rise and fall has been solely based upon each candidates debate performances, such exclusion is tantamount to keeping these candidates off the ballot entirely. I believe that Gary Johnson was excluded because the media absolutely loathes libertarians (and yes, I’m including the conservative media in this too). I’m not sure why Buddy Roemer was excluded. But it’s absolutely clear why Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachman were included when their poll numbers were more or less the same as Johnson’s and Roemer’s. The reason they were included is that they are caricatures of themselves, and with their brand of religious identity-politics they make the Republicans look like kooks. This serves the interests of the media well. It does not serve the interests of the Republican party.

In the future, Republicans need to either insist that all declared candidates be included, or otherwise have a lottery for the low polling candidates to get a slot on the debate stage. But allowing the media to decide who debates and who doesn’t is ceding way too much power to a class of people who are generally hostile to our interests as Republicans. I should hope that this would change in the future.

Also, I think we all need to thank Newt Gingrich for holding one on one debates with other candidates. Those debates have been the most informative and best debates we’ve had. I wish each of the candidates had been willing to hold one on ones with each of the other candidates. Hosted on YouTube, those debates would have been far more informative than the group debates we’ve had.

Endorsement:
Look, there’s no two ways about it. I will be voting for Ron Paul in the primary because of the candidates we have, he seems to me to be the only one who understands our fiscal and economic situation. So if I am to have any hope of having this resolved within my lifetime, I have to vote for Ron Paul. Also as I’ve said before, a government that repeatedly violates your rights isn’t one worth keeping. And Ron Paul is the only candidate who wants to end the Patriot Act and respect our civil liberties.

I had toyed with the idea of voting for Herman Cain. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan was pretty good, and he seemed to understand that we shouldn’t be assassinating American citizens abroad, and he was the only candidate other than Ron Paul who wanted to roll back the Patriot Act. And as a black man, he had the potential to break the Democratic stranglehold on the black vote in America, without which Democrats would stand no chance for winning on the national stage, and probably in many states as well. But alas, he proved to be ignorant of too many issues and unable to discuss things in an off the cuff way. And he finally succumbed to the smear campaign against him.

So it’s Ron Paul for me. Ron Paul has a chance at the nomination this time. So I’m rooting for him to win it. If he doesn’t win it, I’m not sure how I’m going to vote. But more importantly, I’m not sure how bright the outlook for the United States will be either.

 
 

BitPak Movie 1

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

 
 

So Old…

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

My, how time flies…

 
 

Erotic Polar Bear

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

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Massive Tree

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

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Christmas in Vegas

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

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More Repeal Day Celebrating

Monday, December 5th, 2011

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Happy Repeal Day!

Monday, December 5th, 2011

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Gold Tooth with Santa

Monday, December 5th, 2011

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