ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Where is the Free-Market Conservative Candidate?

David Harsanyi has an excellent OpEd in the Denver Post:

Republicans have no candidate
By David Harsanyi
Article Last Updated: 10/09/2008 09:02:51 PM MDT

This election has never been about John McCain — though his candidacy is sure to revive a debate about the worst presidential candidates of all time.

No, this is a referendum on Barack Obama. And many Republicans are exuding the confidence of a hopelessly quixotic sports fan — a person who watches his atrocious team struggle for three quarters with the false expectation that some miraculous comeback is imminent in the fourth.

It rarely is.

McCain has consistently remained inconsistent, vacillating between promises and populism. From his support of cap-and-trade to his actions during the bailout, McCain's positions seem entirely focused on winning the middle- of-the-road vote.

No modern Republican has ever won the presidency solely focused on the ambivalent squishy inattentive center. These people don't care enough to name their political party, much less pay attention.

But he's a maverick. One of McCain's central arguments has been his uncompromising valor in opposing the Bush administration.

Here's a newsbreak: Disagreeing with the Bush administration on a handful of issues (often the wrong ones, in McCain's case) doesn't make you a maverick, it makes you an average American. And, sadly, the second debate proved that McCain would be incapable of making his party's philosophical or political case even if he genuinely tried.

When Obama claims, as he did during the second debate, that raising taxes on the rich is the equivalent of giving them a "break," McCain, terrified of defending anyone in a Lexus, failed to make an assertive case that economic freedom helps everyone.

When Obama claimed he would lower income taxes for 95 percent of Americans even though nearly 40 percent of households don't pay a single cent in income taxes, McCain just smiled.

When Obama continued his absurd insistence that our financial mess was caused only by Bush-era "deregulation," McCain struggled to place the blame where it belongs: on government meddling.

And when Obama contended his economic plan would be a "net" cut in spending, McCain should have spit the water out of his mouth like a character on a TV sitcom — because that's exactly what the senior senator from Arizona is starring in.

Those Republicans anticipating a fourth-quarter comeback during the debate were instead hit with a wet fish. Did the putative Republican candidate just propose that the U.S. Treasury renegotiate millions of mortgages at a better price?

Was McCain simply unable to articulate a more complex position? It sounded a lot like a comprehensive nationalization of the mortgage industry. It sounded a lot like hundreds of billions of additional tax dollars.

Yep, he meant it. It's called the American Homeownership Resurgence. It will stabilize the economy. And Obama will stop global warming. And McCain will find bin Laden, even if he has to do it with his bare hands. And . . . well, at this pace, we're about two debates away from being promised free lemonade and snicker doodles.

None of these promises have worked. So now the McCain campaign will set its sights on Bill Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and other members of the Legion of Doom. All of them are legitimate topics for conversation, but with less than a month to go, the conversation reeks of desperation.

In fact, the entire campaign has been one big act of publicity stunts. McCain's shining moment this campaign, as far as I can tell, was a funny ad comparing Obama to Paris Hilton.

What McCain's candidacy does tell us is that the Republican Party — even if it somehow miraculously pulls this one out — is in need of some creative destruction. Not ideological purity but ideological renewal.

Because being a "maverick" is a political slogan, not a political philosophy.

The campaign has been laughable... and unfortunately, I think the only people that may have had a better chance at beating Obama (of those that ran in the primary) would be Huckabee or Romney. But even they would be hard-pressed to provide free-market policies in response to major issues - both had instances where they argued for activist government as solutions to our problems.

The only GOP candidate who would consistently offer free-market solutions and ask the first question of whether the government should be involved at all was Ron Paul. Unfortunately, Paul's whining style and lack of charisma doomed him before he even announced.

But, I'd like to point out that not only is McCain not a true representation of a free-market conservative candidate, George W. Bush hasn't exactly been a poster child for what many of us believe.

And this is the crux of the problem that we find ourselves in today. When someone labeled as a "free-market conservative" wins the White House, it's important that they govern as a free-market conservative. If they don't, they damage the brand and push voters to consider more radical forms of policy.

George W. Bush kept Democrats in key positions, too often adopted their policies or compromised with them. He and the GOP didn't push harder for Fannie & Freddie to be more tightly regulated. He pushed for the expansion of Medicare. He allowed the GOP Congress to spend like drunk sailors on shore leave...

But for tax cuts and the War On Terror, there has been little for free-market conservatives to support in the Bush administration.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, October 10, 2008

Acorn Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

Excellent ad by the McCain campaign.... McCain needs to continue hammering Obama's associations with radical left-wing activists, anti-American preachers, corrupt Chicago politicians, etc.

Gateway Pundit has a great post on the topic as well.

While he hits Obama over the head with the facts about his radicalism, McCain needs to give some straight talk to the American people and do the following:

  1. tie the economic crisis to the Democrats and their desire to keep Fannie & Freddie from standard regulation. Bill Clinton's words should be included in any ad with this focus.
  2. McCain should make the case the crisis wasn't caused by the under-regulation of private enterprise; it was caused by government intervention, pushing private enterprises to take action that they would be unwilling to take if they would be responsible for the risks involved. That the risks were then passed back to the Feds (in the form of Fannie & Freddie) was the design of the GSEs.
  3. Give some straight talk to the American people that the days of the no-money-down, state-your-income mortgages are over. The American dream is there for everyone - but it takes old-fashioned, American hard-work. In a McCain administration, spouses, relatives, and boyfriends of Washington pols won't have the cushy jobs of sitting on boards of pseudo-government entities, using their influence to brush aside any regulation or criticism.

All of this can be tied to McCain's reform message... We need reform in Washington, where politicians turned a blind eye to the increasing risk at Fannie & Freddie, all for campaign contributions and sweetheart deals on personal mortgages.

Obama isn't change.

He's the perfect embodiment of the 21st century "Aristocracy of Pull" and graft - the politician that will twist the knife in your back well he's whispering sweet nothings into your ear.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Crunchin' the Credit and Losing the Election

Brian points me to this post over at the Belmont Club. Read the whole thing:

Adding resources to a disaster is like reinforcing failure on the battlefield. It doesn’t help. That’s why “during World War 1, the more troops the generals fed into the machine guns the less confident the home publics were of victory.” Adding resources to a broken system only meant you killed more people. Things have to be done differently to make any headway. We’re not going to do that because we already know what we’re doing, right? In a few weeks, if the polls are to be believed, we are going to entrust the safety of everything to a new administration which believes the government knows best. Expect more “epistemic arrogance”, not less.

There was a time when people explicitly understood their ignorance. And they defended against uncertainty by relying on simpler, less interdependent systems for survival. In case snow blocked the roads they had hams, canned goods, dried beans and sacks of flour in the storeroom. In the event 911 didn’t answer they had a shotgun in back. Family was the insurance against unforeseen crisis. Nation was the refuge against enemies. Culture provided a standard operating procedure which everyone was expected to know.

We have abolished much of that because in our foolish pride, it became an article of faith that we no longer needed them. Canned food is now shunned for the preservatives that it contains. Bacon is bad because it has salt. Allah forbid that there’s a gun in the house. And who could be less ‘with it’ than a woman with five children and a husband who drives a snowmobile. Sarah Palin is hated by sophisticates because she is almost a cliched example of this kind of simplicity. Ha ha ha. Today really cool people live in big cities, dependent on power grids, power circles and power lunches. They imagine there’s no heaven, no countries, nothing to kill or die for and no religion too. Today the truly cultured person is expected to know nothing of his own culture and smattering of everyone else’s. Because they’re certain in their epistemological arrogance they’ll never need any of the things they’ve safely abandoned. Who needs a family when you’ve got a retirement fund?

Back in March of this year, I wrote a post called "It's the Economy stupid," in which I predicted that the nomination of McCain was disastrous for the GOP - and for the country, since the most inexperienced and most radical presidential nominee in history would likely win the Presidency and bring about the end of our free market economy. Since I think this analysis was spot-on (which is rare for me), I've excerpted here in full:
Monday, March 17, 2008
It's the Economy, Stupid

One of the reasons that I supported Romney in the primary process was the fact that he would provide a level of experience with economic matters that the other contenders couldn't. And McCain's strength, his support for the War On Terror and the Surge in particular, would not be an asset if the Surge continues to go well or if the Surge starts to unravel.

McCain's positioned to successfully fight a Presidential campaign in 2006, not 2008.

Hopefully McCain knows this and will bring some economic gravitasTM to the ticket and his team. Why? Well, if the Democrats end up winning the White House and continue to hold the Congress, it won't just spell doom for our country in the War On Terror - it'll likely result in the end of American dominance in the global economy.

Or, as James Lileks puts it:
Speaking as an utter amateur, I’m worried less about a recession than inflation. I’m worried most about a recession, inflation AND a jolly round of trade wars, coupled with fragile banks, overcapacity, diminished consumer confidence and aggressive messianic collectivism. Something about that smells familiar. I love studying the thirties and forties, but not first hand.

Over the weekend, I watched Bush talk about how cattleman and other livestock producers were complaining about the rising costs of feed and how corn-based ethanol may not be the right solution.

My immediate reaction was - Why the @#$% did you sign a bill which inserted the federal government into picking which energy solution would prevail?

With the dollar in a death spiral (ready for another 100 basis point cut, MontereyJohn?), a Soviet-style 5 year plan in corn-based ethanol, increasing demand for commodities from the developing world, increasing demand to treat CO2 as a pollutant, an uncompromising desire to regulate everything from finance to health care to food to transportation, an absolutely idiotic head-in-the-sand approach to the impending Medicare & Soshsecurity failure, an increasing anti-free market rhetoric from the socialist Democrats, and an uncompromising desire by the socialists to increase taxes on individuals and businesses, it's unlikely that we'll be able to stop the decline.

As the situation worsens, expect the siren song of the socialists and communists to attract more adherents....

Perhaps I'm being fatalistic (and breathless) - perhaps were not seeing a return of the 30s and 40s, and "merely" a replay of the Carter years. Or perhaps everything will be sorted out in a few months.

But, the tide is not moving in the right direction to provide me any solace. Perhaps Texas could secede?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The ridiculous assertion that the Democrats are better with the economy is infuriating to me. If Obama is elected and follows through on his idiotic campaign promises (whatever they may be today), the country's economic woes will only worsen. (BTW, one benefit of Obama's election may be to restore the Democratic party to its rightful place of economic idiocy, as demonstrated by the Carter years. However, do we really want to kill the patient to prove this point?)

Which brings me to the following YouTube video... Happy Friday, everyone!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What They Said - The Credit Crunch

This excellent video from the Wall Street Journal is great.

I particularly like the quotes of Barney Frank, the same guy who recently said:

Barney Frank has found another cause for the credit panic: racist Republicans. "They get to take things out on poor people," the House Financial Services Chairman said at a Boston symposium Monday. "Let's be honest: The fact that some of the poor people are black doesn't hurt them either, from their standpoint."


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Live (Drunk) Blogging of the Debate

Ok, here's the post. Brian and St Wendeler here in the GOP underground, undisclosed location (aka Penelope's lair) covering the debate.

Pre-debate framing by the MSM?

Why in the @#^)$ is McCain still running?

If I recall, this was the same message that HRC received after the Iowa primary.

If you'll notice, the coverage of the campaign is about 75% about McCain... you rarely hear any bold plans, strategies, etc about the Obama campaign. The problem is that the coverage that McCain/Palin are receiving is all about how their campaign is doomed.

Obama is the default candidate. As Rove would say, that's the preferred position to be in.

*** UPDATE ***
Drinking game for the debate?
2 drinks for everytime Obama says "Change"
1 drink for everytime McCain says "Maverick"
5 Drinks if Bill Ayers is referenced
1 Drink for every time McCain says, "My friends..."

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Something about that list....

Brendan Loy (h/t Instapundit) talks about how the current political class is unserious in our current national crisis, but then he points out that there really isn't much alternative out there:

[...] there seems to be a total dearth of political leadership in this country right now, on both sides of the aisle. It isn't just that McCain and Obama are flawed candidates; it's that there aren't really any better alternatives. Who would you rather see up there? Hillary Clinton? Mitt Romney? John Edwards? Mike Huckabee? Joe Biden? Sarah Palin? Nancy Pelosi? John Boehner? Harry Reid? Mitch McConnell? George W. Bush? John Kerry? Dick Cheney? Al Gore? Please. Our political class is totally failing us, almost as much as we're failing ourselves.
Reading the list, something struck me. They are all (for the most part) Baby Boomers. Born in post war America, coasting through history as it were. Bill Clinton was our first Baby Boomer president, and he got to coast from the end of the cold war.

Has there been a serious Baby Boomer politician?

Don't worry, there are some GenXer's (Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, etc) coming up the ranks that will provide political leadership in the coming years, if, like in all things it seems, our Baby Boomer parents let us.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Monday, October 06, 2008

Biden's Fantasy World

The Wall Street Journal on Biden's gaffes last Thursday that the MSM didn't bother to notice:

Biden's Fantasy World
Sarah Palin may not know as much about the world, but at least most of what she knows is true.

In the popular media wisdom, Sarah Palin is the neophyte who knows nothing about foreign policy while Joe Biden is the savvy diplomatic pro. Then what are we to make of Mr. Biden's fantastic debate voyage last week when he made factual claims that would have got Mrs. Palin mocked from New York to Los Angeles?

Start with Lebanon, where Mr. Biden asserted that "When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, 'Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it.' Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel."

The U.S. never kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, and no one else has either. Perhaps Mr. Biden meant to say Syria, except that the U.S. also didn't do that. The Lebanese ousted Syria's military in 2005. As for NATO, Messrs. Biden and Obama may have proposed sending alliance troops in, but if they did that was also a fantasy.
The WSJ also mentions his other fantasies (or lies in common parlance):
  1. His insistence that McKiernan said a counterinsurgency strategy wouldn't work in Afghanistan, even though he did.
  2. That Obama/Biden wouldn't meet with Achmidenijad, even though the Obamessiah has been stating for the past year that he would.
  3. That McCain didn't support the intervention in Bosnia, when in fact he (and presidential candidate Bod Dole) both supported President Clinton on that issue
  4. That Katie's is still open for business and waiting for you & Joe "Six-Pack" Biden to stop by to hang out with the normal folks in Wilmington, Delaware.
Now that this made the Wall Street Journal, will other MSM outlets pick this up or will SNL start to make fun of Biden and his stupidity?


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler