Saturday, November 01, 2008

What They Expect from Obama

Bless her heart; this dumb girl thinks that if she votes for Obama she will not have to worry about putting gas in her car or paying her mortgage. Does she think Obama is going to fill her tank and make her house payment? Assuming Obama is elected, there will be a lot of disappointed people.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama and the Politics of Crowds

By FOUAD AJAMI, Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2008

There is something odd -- and dare I say novel -- in American politics about the crowds that have been greeting Barack Obama on his campaign trail. Hitherto, crowds have not been a prominent feature of American politics. We associate them with the temper of Third World societies. We think of places like Argentina and Egypt and Iran, of multitudes brought together by their zeal for a Peron or a Nasser or a Khomeini. In these kinds of societies, the crowd comes forth to affirm its faith in a redeemer: a man who would set the world right. (link)


The author of this article analyzes the Obama phenomenon better than any thing I have read.

I am not concerned that Obama is the "anti-Christ" or intents to turn American into a one party dictatorship, yet the unquestioning outpouring of affection and enthusiasm for Obama is disturbing. I have never observed anything like this before in America in my lifetime and don't think we have ever experienced anything like it before in the history of our country. John F. Kennedy was certainly charismatic and drew enthusiastic crowds and FDR and Ronald Reagan were loved by many, but the followers of Obama seem to be almost cult-like in their adoration. The public response to Obama is more like that of the response of fans to a rock star than a political candidate.

While this is the first time we may have observed this kind of unquestioning outpouring of support for a politician in America, it is not unknown in much of the world. The response we are seeing to Obama is more like that that was observed in the German's love of Hitler, or the Cuban's early adoration of Castro, or the Chinese love for Chairman Mao. There is almost a group hypnosis going on, as if people are wrapped up in an irrational frenzy of group-think.

Certainly Obama is an attractive candidate and can make a good speech, however, he has a very thin resume and has never sponsored a major piece of legislation or championed a particular cause. He is undistinguished and has shown no leadership or legislative skills. His blemishes are just ignored by his mass of followers. If any other candidate had had the close relationship with a terrorist such as Ayers, a demigod such as Reverend Wright, or a crook such as Resco, that would tarnish their image; yet, it has not seemed hurt Obama.

If you accept that many liberals are not too concerned with Obama's association with a communist terrorist from another era, you would still think that those who profess a love for the poor and a belief in social justice would be concerned about Obama's relationship with Resco. Resco was the worst of predators who victimized the poor to enrich himself and yet Obama served him faithfully for many years. Obama's followers do not seem to be bothered by this association.

Normally the good-government types would pounce on a candidate who backtracked on a pledge to accept pubic funding for their campaign. Support for public funding of elections and a belief that money is a corrupting influence in campaigns has been a liberal article of faith ever since Watergate, yet Obama can raise unprecedented sums of money from foreign and other undisclosed sources and his liberal good-government followers do not seem to mind.

The author of this piece concludes: "The morning after the election, the disappointment will begin to settle upon the Obama crowd. Defeat -- by now unthinkable to the devotees -- will bring heartbreak. Victory will steadily deliver the sobering verdict that our troubles won't be solved by a leader's magic."

If I did not also share the author's conclusion, I would be more concerned about what I observe.

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More Happy Halloween!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Halloween!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Facing the Trade off between Economic Security and Economic Freedom

I am concerned about the economic policy that an Obama presidency with a super majority in Congress may pursue. Assuming Obama is elected, it is my hope that he governs as the centrist he has portrayed himself to be; however, Obama's stated goal of "spreading the wealth around" concerns me.

There is a reason that the U.S. has led the world as the economic superpower ever since the industrial revolution. It is not simply that we are blessed with natural resources. It is not that we are naturally smarter than the people of every other country. The U.S. has had a political and economic climate that rewarded the risk taker and encouraged investment and there has been an American “can do” spirit and American optimism. Americans believed anything was possible.

Most American’s have always thought that their children would be better off than they were. American’s never accepted that some people were better, just because they were better off. Americans wanted to become better off themselves. We did not accept that we were born to a certain station in life. Whereas in much of the world, the non-rich resent the rich, in America many hope to some day become rich. It has only rarely been popular to hate the rich in this country. America has been more concerned with growing the economy and upward mobility than redistributing the wealth.

Our bureaucratic burden has been relatively light. In some third world countries it may take months, if not years, to do something as simple as get the permits to open a new business, whereas in a matter of days one can do so in most American cities. You do not have to present a market study to a bureaucrat and show the need for the new business. You don’t have to put up a huge bond. We have thought it was our right to follow our dream and take risk.

In America, while we have labor laws protecting the health and safety of workers and some laws protecting workers from discrimination in the workplace, for the most part, we have a mobile work place. The workforce can expand and contract as needed. If you recall, in France a couple years ago thousands of students took to the streets and rioted expressing their outrage at a law that would allow employers to dismiss any newly hired employee under the age of 26 within the first two years of employment. Despite France having a youth unemployment rate of over 20%, the French preferred job security to job growth. Americans have never expected security and have embraced risk. We have had the attitude that no one owes us anything; we have to earn it.

What has distinguished the US is that we have had, relatively speaking, a non-intrusive government, less regulation and lower taxation. Maybe the American Spirit is the reason we have non-intrusive government and lower taxes, or maybe it is those things that allowed the American Spirit to flourish.

Within democratic countries, there is a scale along which at one end there is relatively unregulated capitalism and opportunities for wealth creation, however there is little economic security and a lot of risk of failure. At the other end of the scale is a stagnant economy where few business decisions can be made without the approval of government and where success is punished, but there is less chaos and more “fairness.” There is trade off between economic security and economic freedom.

I hope that Obama’s economic policy is only a slight adjustment leftward along that scale and not a wholesale embracing of European-style social democracy. It would be ashamed to kill the goose that has laid all the golden eggs for all these many years. I hope the American dream and the American spirit has not been traded for the security of mediocrity. I would miss the America that was.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fearing and Loathing an Obama Presidency

I belong to several chat groups and read lots of other blogs and I am amazed at some of what I read. Many writers express their fears about the prospects of the election of Barack Obama in apocalyptic terms.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Obama will lead the country in the wrong direction. Under an Obama Presidency the US will move more toward a European-style social democracy. I think Democratic economic and tax policy will be detrimental for wealth creation and our standard of living. I expect a more intrusive burdensome government from an Obama presidency. I do not think liberals have the same respect for property rights or freedom of speech, as do conservatives and that concerns me. I think an Obama election and especially a Democratic undivided government will be bad for the future of our nation. However, I do not think the election of Barack Obama will be the end of the world or our freedom. To see what I expect from an Obama Presidency see my recent post on the topic (link). I think the Fred Thompson video posted below is an accurate evaluation of what to fear from an Obama presidency.

So, I am not saying that it does not matter who is elected or that Obama will not be bad for our nation. However, some of the hysteria over the prospects of an Obama presidency is just over the top. I do not think Obama is a Muslim Manchurian Candidate or the Anti Christ. If Obama is elected, as much as I may not like it, he will be my President. After the election, assuming Obama is elected, the Republicans need to be the loyal opposition but try to work with Democrats for the good of the nation. I think there is a danger in poisoning the atmosphere with irrational doomsday fears of an Obama election. It may cause some nut to assassinate the guy. But, also it poisons the atmosphere for working together. If you think your political opponents are the epitome of evil, or if the people you represent think the other party is evil, it makes compromise difficult. I know some Democrats. Unfortunately, most of my siblings are Democrats. They are not evil people; they are just wrong. I think they are naive and suffer from too much idealism and too little logic; but they are not evil.

I don’t know what the ethics are of reposting comments from a chat group. Chat group are for members only and people may not want their comments spread beyond the group. I am reposting what one writer wrote on one of the chat groups I belong to, to offer an example of what people are saying. I am not listing the group name and am only listing initials of the discussion participants. This post is not from anyone of any importance, and would not be important at all if it were not so typical of a lot of what I am reading. Stuff like this is all over the Internet and this is typical also of some unsolicited emails I have received.


I am going to make a few predictions here. Now understanding that I have never been wrong before should add credibility to these guesses. These are based on the premise that Obama gets into office.

1. This blogger site and others like it will no longer exist...they will be considered anti-government.
2. Talk shows, conservative ones that is, will no longer be allowed and go off the air as anti-government.
3. Guns will be taken away from the citizenry and the National Guard as well.
4. Children everywhere will be indoctrinated to the socialist/communist ideology.
5. Christians and Jews will be persecuted as anti-government and eventually
forbidden to practice their religion.
6. All corporations will be operated by the state and employees paid from the state as a measure to protect us.
7. Homosexuality, kiddy porn and other filthy things will be allowed and fostered.
8. Traveling between states will require a passport with a reason for the travel.
9. Many new laws will be put into place which will curb our freedoms immensely.
10. Curfews will exist and political prisoners will be taken and jailed for long periods of time.

Care to add your own here? Not very pretty is it? Wonderful future for our children.

Let us take a look at this.

On item 1, I see no basis for believing the election of Democrats will bring about Internet censorship and a closing down of Internet conservative chat rooms. I do believe many liberals would like to shut down conservative voices but to impose censorship on the Internet would create a huge backlash. There are a lot of left-wing voices also on the Internet who would oppose censorship. A lot of good liberals really do respect freedom of speech.

Unfortunately I think item two is a realistic fear. Up until 1985 the “Fairness Doctrine” required radio stations to provide balanced coverage of controversial issues, so radio simply avoided controversy. Under the fairness doctrine, a station that did not provide “fairness” could lose their license. There is no equivalent to a Rush Limbaugh on the left. Talk radio is a conservative phenomenon. I think many liberals would like to shut down talk radio and would gladly reimpose the fairness doctrine. The public ownership of the airways and the argument for “fairness” gives liberals the cover they need to do it. If the Democrats get a super majority it very well may happen.

Item number 3: This will not happen. This is an unfounded fear. I know many liberals would like to ban all guns, but they do not have the authority. The Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision recently that the right to bear arms is an individual right. The court will probably not revisit the issue for a very long time, if ever. With another liberal on the court, the recent decision could possibly be reversed, but even a more liberal court would probably not overturn the recent decision but may whittle away at the second amendment around the edges. In any event, there is doubt that Obama will have the opportunity to replace a conservative jurist. The conservative on the Court are fairly young, as Supreme Court justices go, and in good health.

Regarding item 4, this is based on legitimate fears but is overstated. Given Obama’s support for the Ayers education program in Chicago, there is reason to believe Obama would like to have leftist ideology taught in the classroom. [Read this New York Post story, Obama's Education Idiocy.] But, while Obama might like to turn schools into indoctrination center, he would not be in a position to do that. A Presidents power is limited. Education is still largely a state and local matter. It is possible that some federal laws could mandate some curriculum changes with ideological content, but to believe that “Children everywhere will be indoctrinated to the socialist/communist ideology,” is paranoia.

On the remaining items, this is just garbage. Why would one think we would have to have passports to travel between states under an Obama Presidency? If anything, the conservatives, with their anti illegal immigrant passions and War on Terror concerns, may be more inclined to impose travel restrictions and require everyone to carry documents than would Democrats.

On the charge that “homosexuality, kiddy porn and other filthy things will be allowed and fostered;” government does not dictate sexual mores. Society has become more tolerant of homosexuality and other alternative lifestyles over the years. I think being more accepting and tolerant of others' choices is a good thing. What you do in your bedroom and whom you do it with is none of my business. We may see an increase in the push for gay marriage or civil unions. We may see homosexuals gain the same protected victim class status as minorities and disabled people. I would oppose that, but I think any impact in this area will be minimal. There is no reason to believe kiddy porn will be more prevalent under a Democratic president than a Republican president.

For the good of the nation and our future; get real people and get a grip!

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