Posts tagged ‘Republican Party’

The Wasted Vote Fallacy

Republicans before the election worked to convince Libertarians that a vote for Gary Johnson (or any other third party) was a wasted vote -- that Libertarians needed to be voting against Obama and therefore for Republicans.  Some libertarians have argued that the only way to change the Republican Party is from within.  Libertarians need to join the party and then work to make the party less statist.

I thought this was a crock at the time and think so even more now.  Here is the key thought:  Republicans are not going to change their platform and their candidates and their positions to woo voters they are already getting.  After the election, no one in the Republican leadership was talking about what a mistake it was to run a big government Republican like Romney -- the ex-governor of Massachusetts for God sakes -- who authored the predecessor to Obamacare.  No one was wondering about Gary Johnson as a 2016 candidate.

What the GOP did do is panic at the shellacking they got among Hispanic voters.  The ink was not even dry on the ballots before Republican leadership was considering abandoning their anti-immigrant stance in order to win more Hispanic voters.  I am not sure that will get them Hispanic voters, but whether they are right or not, that is the conversation they were having.  They were asking, "How do we attract voters WE DID NOT GET" -- not, "how do we attract voters we are already getting".

The turn of the century Progressive Party (William Jennings Bryant, free silver, etc) never won a Presidential election but both the Republicans and Democrats co-opted many of their platform positions because they sought to attract voters they were losing to the Progressives.

I don't see how Libertarians can look at a party that has fielded John McCain (author of speech restrictions) and Mitt Romeny (author of the proto-Obamacare) as any sort of long-term home.  Heck, the Republicans more seriously considered Rick Santorum and Donald Trump than Gary Johnson or Ron Paul.  I respect what Mr. Paul has done in bringing libertarian issues to the debate, but as long as he keeps reliably delivering his voters to whatever lame statist candidate the party fields, the GOP is never going to seriously address libertarian concerns.

Penn Jillette Awesomeness

Most of those who read the online libertarian rags have seen this, but its awesome enough to require repitition

What makes me libertarian is what makes me an atheist -- I don't know. If I don't know, I don't believe. I don't know exactly how we got here, and I don't think anyone else does, either. We have some of the pieces of the puzzle and we'll get more, but I'm not going to use faith to fill in the gaps. I'm not going to believe things that TV hosts state without proof. I'll wait for real evidence and then I'll believe.

And I don't think anyone really knows how to help everyone. I don't even know what's best for me. Take my uncertainty about what's best for me and multiply that by every combination of the over 300 million people in the United States and I have no idea what the government should do.

President Obama sure looks and acts way smarter than me, but no one is 2 to the 300 millionth power times smarter than me. No one is even 2 to the 300 millionth times smarter than a squirrel. I sure don't know what to do about an AA+ rating and if we should live beyond our means and about compromise and sacrifice. I have no idea. I'm scared to death of being in debt. I was a street juggler and carny trash -- I couldn't get my debt limit raised, I couldn't even get a debt limit -- my only choice was to live within my means. That's all I understand from my experience, and that's not much.

It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we're compassionate we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

Who is at the other end of the spectrum?  Well, how about Brad Delong arguing for a return to technocratic rule by our betters

America's best hope for sane technocratic governance required the elimination of the Republican Party from our political system as rapidly as possible.

Technocratic utopia is of course a mirage, a supreme act of hubris, that any group of people could have the incentives or information required to manage the world top-down for us.  If I told an environmentalists that I wanted ten of the smartest biologists in the world to manage the Amazon top-down and start changing the ratios of species and courses of rivers and such in order to better optimize the rain forest, they would say I was mad.   Any such attempt would lead to disaster (just see what smart management has done for our US forests).  But the same folks will blithely advocate for top-down control of human economic activity.  The same folks who reject top-down creationism in favor of the emergent order of evolution reject the emergent order of markets and human uncoerced interaction in favor of top-down command and control.

More on technocrats here and here

Good for Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson gave the finger to the Republican my-family-values-must-be-your-family-values set

Presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson charged today in a formal statement through his campaign that the Family Leader “pledge” Republican candidates for President are being asked to sign is “offensive to the principles of liberty and freedom on which this country was founded”.  Governor Johnson also plans to further state his position against the Family Leader pledge this afternoon in Las Vegas, NV at a speech he will deliver at the Conservative Leadership Conference.

Johnson went on to state that “the so-called ‘Marriage Vow” pledge that FAMILY LEADER is asking Republican candidates for President to sign attacks minority segments of our population and attempts to prevent and eliminate personal freedom.   This type of rhetoric is what gives Republicans a bad name.

“Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.

“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue’.

Johnson is easily my favorite Presidential candidate in recent memory.

This Argument Works for a Libertarian...

I think this kind of argument might work for a libertarian, but I am not sure it is a very strong argument for a liberal Democrat that wants to do more rather than less of what Congress and the GWB administration did over the last 8 years to worsen the recession.

Personally, though, I'd say Obama has been remarkably restrained about the whole thing, especially when it comes to our disastrous fiscal situation.  In a mere eight years, George Bush and the Republican Party managed to take a thriving economy and a federal surplus and turn it into a hair's breadth escape from Great Depression II and an endless fiscal sinkhole.  Rome may not have been built in a day, but it didn't take much longer than that for the modern Republican Party to bankrupt America.

Particularly hilarious is that Drum blames the cost of the useless but expensive stimulus bill on GWB.  Huh?  And blaming Republicans for Fannie and Freddie is a real joke.

As you might imagine, the deficit in his world is all from tax cuts and not above-inflation increases in spending.  The basic picture he shows is absurd - money is fungible, so any trillion dollars of the government spending could be blamed for the deficit - it just depends on what spending you consider incremental.  Stupid analysis.  Though it is interesting that at least two of the major drivers even by their slanted analysis - Bush tax cuts and Afghanistan - are policy issues Obama was presented with opportunities to reverse and chose not to.

This Won't End Well

Steve Chapman via Ilya Somin:

Watching Washington policymakers in action, I sometimes think they make mistakes because of unrealistic goals, flawed thinking, blind obedience to party, or dubious information. And sometimes I think they make mistakes because they are"”how to put this?"”clinically insane.

There is no other way to explain what is going on at the Federal Housing Administration, which provides federal guarantees for home mortgages. Given the collapse in real estate prices, the weak economy, and the epidemic of foreclosures, banks are acting with more caution than before. They now commonly require home buyers to make down payments of 20 percent to qualify for a loan. But the FHA often requires only 3.5 percent.

That's the equivalent of playing pool with a guy named Snake, and it's had two predictable effects. The first is that the agency is insuring about four times as many home loans as it did just three years ago. The other is that the number of FHA-approved borrowers who are not repaying their loans is climbing. Since last year, the default rate has jumped by 76 percent.

Another likely consequence looms: you and I eating the losses. A former executive of mortgage giant Fannie Mae told a congressional subcommittee that the FHA "appears destined for a taxpayer bailout in the next 24 to 36 months." Commissioner David Stevens had to assure the subcommittee that it would not need help"”well, unless there is a "catastrophic home price decline." But who says there won't be? It's not as though anyone at the FHA foresaw the housing bubble or the housing bust. Yet now it feels confident betting its $30 billion cash reserve that prices won't fall.

Somin comments:

Unlike Chapman, I don't think the policymakers are "insane." They are responding rationally to perverse incentives. If another mortgage crisis occurs, they hope to shift the blame to a supposedly insufficiently regulated private sector "“ which is more or less how many of them managed to escape blame the last time around. The public did punish the Republican Party in the 2008 presidential election. But most of the members of Congress and federal bureaucrats who supported the GSEs got off scott-free. Moreover, the full negative effects of risky government-backed lending may not become evident for years to come "“ perhaps at a time when some other administration and Congress will be in office. In the meantime, the administration, the FHA, and key members of Congress can reap the political benefits of getting support from grateful borrowers, real estate developers, and other interest groups that benefit from easy credit.

That's Depressing

No, the news itself is good news, not bad:

This week, the Republican Party in its national platform called for an end to ethanol mandates in just the latest shot at a fuel alternative that, in some circles, has grown more target than treasure.

This was the part that was depressing:

High ranking politicians, including presidential candidate John McCain,
have publicly opposed ethanol subsidies before, but the platform
approved during the Republican convention in St. Paul, a corn-belt
capital, marks the first time a major U.S. party has taken an official stance against publicly funded ethanol incentives.

Talk about the emperor's new clothes.  If only we could get the first step on the campaign trail out of Iowa.

United States: Export Tiger

Barack Obama and most of the Democratic Party (as well as a sizable Lou Dobbs contingent in the Republican Party) fear trade and globalization.  But like it or not, much of our economic growth is driven directly or indirectly by trade.  In particular, even I found the export growth rates in this chart from Mark Perry surprisingly large:
Exports

1970s, Here We Come

The economy, the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party are all acting more and more like they did in the 1970s.  Keep your head down, and expect more of this kind of garbage.

The "Happy Days" Framework for Understanding the Two Parties

Here is all you need to know to understand the two political parties as they are in 2007:  Both parties want to return to the 1950's.  The Republican Party wants to return to Leave-it-to-Beaver type social/sexual options and media offerings.  The Democratic Party wants to return to the large company / heavily union work models and economy of the 1950's

Which makes the titles "Conservative" and "Liberal" worse than meaningless, since each vision is inherently small-c conservative.  Both fear change, diversity, and risk, though in different sectors of our lives.  In some sense this is the real culture war, between dynamism and fear of change.

Congress is Nuts

The Democrats are in the process of making some really silly choices for their leadership positions, so the Republicans take the opportunity to grab the moral high ground by... bringing Trent Lott back into the leadership?  Huh?  Other than being perhaps a convoluted FU to John Conyers, who has been dissing Mississippi, what sense does this make?  I thought Jeff Flake made a convincing argument on 60-Minutes that the Republicans had blown their own foot off in this last election.  It seems that rather than putting down the gun, they are just raising their aim.

I don't know where I got the link from, but this is the best comment I have seen on the whole Trent Lott election, from Dean Barnett:

If
there's one message that the electorate sent the Republican Party last
week, it's that we hadn't given them enough of Trent Lott. I cannot
adequately express my delight that Senate Republicans have moved with
such expediency to right this egregious wrong.

Slavish Devotion to Political Correctness

With the proviso that I don't know anything about the people involved, I will say this controversy seems to be about nothing. 

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele accused a leading Democratic
congressman yesterday of racial insensitivity for saying the Republican
candidate has "slavishly" followed the GOP.

Steele, an African
American running for the U.S. Senate, was reacting to remarks by House
Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who characterized Steele this week as
having had "a career of slavishly supporting the Republican Party."

To say someone is "slavishly following" or showing "slavish devotion" is so common that I think you have to give the benefit of the doubt that the intention was not racial.  Here are some Google searches:

This is perhaps the dumbest fake-racial-gaffe since the kerfuffle in Washington about the word "niggardly" or the airline passenger lawsuit against saying "eenie meenie minie moe."  I could not find even one article in a quick scan that seemed to have any racial context -- these are merely very common phrases used in political discourse because they imply someone is somehow an unthinking tool of some organization rather than a person who thinks for himself.

By the way, it's illuminating to see the Republicans play the race / political correctness card in the
heat of political battle just as fast as the Democrats would.  Which, ironically, seems to be just as fast as Democrats are willing to play the "Don't vote for the gay guy" card, which is usually thought of as a Republican political tool.  Can anyone still believe that there is any real difference between the two parties?

Exhibit #1 for the FEC v. Club for Growth

The FEC is suing the Club for Growth for campaign finance violations, basically arguing that they are controlled by the Republican Party and therefore not an independent political group (or whatever, I can't really be bothered to understand just what argument the FEC is using to trash the First Ammendment).

So I have Exhibit #1 for the trial.  Yesterday I published a blog piece blasting the Republican Party, concluding:

The Republicans are lost.  Combine this kind of spending with their
Patriot Act and Sarbabes-Oxley driven Big-Borther-Is-Watching
intrusiveness, luke-warm committment to free-trade, and bizarre obsession with pornography, and I find nothing at all attractive about the party.  Only the economic insanity of the opposition party continues to keep Republicans in power.

If the Club for Growth is a subsidiary of the Republican Party, then why are they linking my post today from their home page? 

Porkbuster Letter

Porkbusterssm

Here is a copy of the letter I sent to my representative John Shadegg as part of the PorkBusters campaign:


Representative
John Shadegg
Arizona
3rd District

306
Cannon H. O. B.

Washington,
DC  20515

Congressman
Shadegg:

I
am a blogger who lives and runs a business in your district.  I know
that you were one of only 8 people in Congress to vote against the
recent pork-laden highway bill, something I congratulated you for on
my blog.  I now want to encourage you to continue fighting to reign
in government spending.  I am frankly flabbergasted to see the
current Republican leadership in Congress working so hard to resist
fiscal sanity, and am amazed that the Republican Party could have
drifted so far from its philosophical roots.

I
know that there are tremendous pressures on you to play the game with
everyone else in Congress, and bring home your share of pork to your
district.  Often those in your district will root for you to cut
other people's pork but not their own.  Let me say that I am totally
supportive of your cutting our 3rd district pork first, as
a message that everyone needs to contribute to the spending cuts the
President has called for to pay for Katrina-related expenses.  You
are probably aware that many of us in the blogging world have banded
together in the "Porkbusters" effort to signal our desire to cut
pork by identifying our own local earmarks for cuts first.

Technorati tag:  .

FEC Suing Club for Growth

In the first of what promises to be the first of a number of lawsuits against 527 groups under the horrendous McCain-Feingold act, the Federal Election Committee is suing the Club for Growth for its television adds in 2000 and 2002.  Essentially, the FEC is attempting to declare the Club for Growth to be under the control of and an arm of the Republican Party, and therefore subject to McCain-Feingold spending and donation limitations. 

This is absurd.  First, current election law and McCain-Feingold are a brazen assault on the first amendment, and shouldn't apply to anyone.  Second, to the extent that they are allowed to be applied to the two major political parties, their reach should be limited as much as possible to allow private citizens full freedom of political speech.

While the Club for Growth often supports Republicans over Democrats, browsing their web site makes it clear that they are by no means a shill for the Republican party.  They are strong supporters of reduced regulation and taxes, and have been just as hard on Republicans of late when Bush, Delay and Company have apparently abandoned these goals.  I have supported The Club for Growth for years and I am by no means a Republican.

Several lefty blogs have gleefully piled on because they don't like the Club for Growth.  This is very very shortsighted.  My sense is that the case against CfG is no better or worse than the case they can have against MoveOn or Soros or whatever.  The CfG suit may well be a Trojan Horse first case to immunize the Bush Administration and the FEC against charges that they are going after the President's critics.  Once immunized, under this theory, lefty organizations will be next. 

Bloggers represent one of the strongest and most vocal constituencies for freedom of speech -- we should be united in opposing this kind of action, whoever it is against.

Update:  More from Reason's Hit and Run

Response to the FEC

The Online Coalition, put together to fight FEC restrictions to free speech rights as they apply to bloggers, has posted their official response to the FEC.  (hat tip:  Captains Quarters)

This is one of those efforts that leave me torn.  In effect, the rulemaking process is considering whether the media exemption in campaing finance laws should be extended to bloggers.  My point of view is that the media exemption should be extended to everyone.  That, 1) limits to money spent are the equivalent to limits on speech and 2) it is particularly insidious to create multiple classes of citizen, where one class of citizen (exempt media) have more political speech rights than others.

So, while I agree with their comments on blogging narrowly, I disagree when they make broader statements, like this one:

Finally, your rules should be informed by the regulatory purpose of the Federal Election Campaign Act. Your rule should address corruption, the appearance of corruption, the involvement of foreign nationals, or the use of the corporate or labor forms of organization and their "aggregations of wealth" in ways that drown out the views of others.

What does that last part I bolded mean?  Why is the Republican Party or one of George Soros's organizations proper aggregations of wealth for the political process but corporations and labor unions improper?

Anyway, campaign finance reform is one big hypocritical unconstitutional mess.  Let anyone give whatever they want to whomever with the only proviso of full disclosure over the Internet of all sources of funds.

More on the Republicn Party

My post on libertarians and Republicans, and ones like it on other sites, has generated a lot of response from folks arguing about whether there is a true schism emerging in the Republican Party.  I am not a Republican, so I am not on the inside.  Strong libertarians like me (read this if you want to know what that means) can pretty safely be treated as a fringe, so I haven't really been in a position to argue that the Republicans mights truly be in trouble.

However, yesterday I had the chance to interact with a number of family friends.  Included were a number of men, many in their 60's-80's, who have been lifelong classic Chamber of Commerce Republicans, including two that ran Fortune 100 companies.  These were classic red state Republicans, many of whom had been active in the party at some point in their lives.  And, almost to a man, they were disenchanted with the Republicans.  They cited trade protectionism, profligate spending, and Tom-DeLay-type capture by the system.  These men, all who would call themselves religious, were frustrated at the apparent capture of the Party by religious interests.

Several of these folks pointed me to this editorial by John Danforth as representing what is frustrating them about the Administration and the Party.

    During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with
  each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited
  government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged
  the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges
  should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported
  an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were
  principles shared by virtually all Republicans.

    But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become
  secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried
  every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute
  worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems
  to be the other way around.

    The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope
  for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda
  has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.

For those of you who don't know and might mistake Mr. Danforth for some rampaging secularist, former Senator Danforth, beyond having gone to the greatest undergraduate institution in the world, is a pro-life ordained minister.

I encourage you to read it all. 

 

Libertarians and Republicans

As a libertarian that voted rather unenthusiastically Republican in the last election, I am right here with Ryan Sager:

While
some libertarian types may have been upset with President Reagan's
deficits, he was at least singing from their hymn book: Government is
the problem, not the solution. George W. Bush on the other hand has
never even gone to the trouble of aping a small-government posture.
Instead, Bush has adopted one of Reagan's other famous lines, sans
irony: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help. 

This
represents a fundamental shift in the direction of the Republican Party
and a threat to its traditional alliances. The shift is self-evident.
Instead of being the party that tries to rein in entitlement spending,
the Republican Party is now the party of the $1.2 trillion Medicare
prescription-drug benefit. Instead of being the party that is opposed
to even having a federal Department of Education, the Republican Party
is now the party of extensive intrusion into local schoolhouses by Washington.
And instead of being the party of the rule of law and state's rights,
the Republican Party is now the party of Congressional intervention
into the thoroughly adjudicated medical decisions of an individual
family.

A few weeks ago I wrote here that about the high-stakes battle over judicial nominations.  When Republicans were out of power, they could be trusted to support non-activist judges against liberal activist alternatives.  Now, however, my fear is that Republicans may have shifted their stand, seeking to nominate activist conservative judges.  Leaving no one at all in Washington to support a constitutional separation of powers.