A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

November 9, 2008

Quote of the Day

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell

Opinion: Why President Elect Obama Won

Here is my analysis of a few key factors that elected our new President.  First just a few points.  This was not a landslide, not even close.  While Mr. Obama has in my view a clear mandate, he still has 46% plus who remain unsold.  However, gathering 52% is a good sign for his administration.  Secondly, statistically speaking he did NOT inspire people to vote more than in past elections.  The percentage of the voters relevant to total population was statistically insignificant in 2008 than 2004 and 2000. 

1) Ability to stay on message.  This is called by Jim Collins “The Hedgehog Principle”.  Hedgehogs in the business and political world have the ability to stay focused and on message.  They know what they do well and they make that their selling point.  The Obama campaign was highly disciplined.  Other than the occassional gaffe that he made against certain radio show commentators, which hurt him in all probability, the campaign, also helped by media which did not press the stories, would not allow themselves to be taken off their message, which was simple.  The message was, things are bad, we can bring about change.  The changes sought were tied to the current dissatisfaction the country has with the Bush Administration, but was generally short on details.  This was picked up by many as being vapid.  However, give credit to the Obama Campaign handlers.  They made a choice to keep him away from town hall venues and press interviews where he could be hurt.  I believe his relatively poor performance at Saddleback showed their wisdom in this and solidified their resolve not to let events they couldn’t control, such as the economy alter their message of change.  If anything they took the events handed to them and used the events to be an echo of a broad theme.

2) The financial debacle.  One of the things that in contrast to Sen. McCain’s reaction of “I must do something” was that the Obama handlers used the event to broadcast their theme.  This was in disregard to many of the inconvenient facts – the much of the problems of the banking mess were caused by policies created under President Carter and greatly expanded under President Clinton.  The correlation picked up by some in the media – mostly print – of ties to Fannie and Freddie and high ranking Democrats never was picked up.  Obama stayed out of the fray but framed the fray to buoy his premise that “change is needed”.  It worked.  While the crisis was not cooked by campaign, the decision to stay outside the mess initially showed him being detached, and that is not always a bad thing as it is more objective.  Many polls showed that McCain was gaining traction and had a slight lead up to this point.  This was caused in part by some slips by the Obama campaign, the momentum of the GOP Convention – which was effective, and the initial excitement of Sarah Palin into the foray. 

3) Ability to appear credible.  Sen. Obama’s largest hurdle was to keep the excitement of his base, youth and left to left of center Americans and expand his credibility to John and Mary Q. Public who are Center to Center Right.  America was seen, and most identified themselves as “Conservative”.  There is one bit of news that shows this to be true, at least socially.  California’s repudiation by the voters of same sex marriage – in a year where the left and center left continued to show their appeal over right and center right candidates by a 15% point margin – indicates that even among “blue states” there is a cultural position of maintaining the status quo.  Although he fared badly at Saddleback, and any objective reporting of the event along with the shift of pubilc sentiment alludes to that, the fact that Sen. Obama was visibly comfortable with the Evangelical community is important.  There is a reason.  Although politically many ” ‘Black’ Evangelicals” are left and left of center, culturally many of them are right of center – to include school reform (vouchers, NCLB) and most notably views on homosexuality  This allowed those Evangelicals who are more Centrist and whose interpretation of their Christitanity leads them to value social activism and bread and butter issues highly – such as The Soujourners – to ally with Mr. Obama.  Obama also showed a shift – and it was a major one – during the debates.  Stating that “conditions on the ground” would dictate American policy in Iraq was startling and far more hawkish than anything he or any other Democrat had said during the primary season.  This combined with his statements of expanding the war in Afghanistan and putting pressure on Pakistan took away the “wimp factor” in many.  Mr. Obama’s shifting to the center from the hard left of the Democratic base is as old as politics.  Run to your base in the primary, tack to the mainstream in general election.  It will be interesting to see how he governs.

4.  Weariness of the Bush Administration.  This is the real reason why Sen. Obama won the election.  I will not offer conjecture if Sen. Clinton would have fared better, but I think it would have been about the same.  By all counts this was the nation speaking with their ballots of their dissatisfaction with Iraq policies and the numerous failures of the Bush Administration – and there are many to bring to light.  The Bush Administration started losing this election with their victory in 2000.  Fifty percent of the nation was not happy with that result.  President Bush did enjoy many political and policy victories.  NCLB will remain with the nation in some form for many years.  Efforts to change the political and social framework in Africa will also remain.  Also, it is likely that US policies in the Middle East will remain in some form and that the “War on Terror” will be funded with many of the policies once opposed by the Dem base suddenly accepted.  The NYT reported about GITMO on Wednesday and it was amazing how suddenly GITMO was no longer the first level of Dante’s Hell.  
However, the many debacles of the Bush Administration including the handling of the Iraq War after the initial objectives had been achieved, the perception and reality of the “out of touchness” that the President had whether it was by not listening to then NSA Rice message to “Get back to DC NOW” or the realities and perceptions of the sluggishness of federal response to Katrina.  Throw in the perceptions of ABU and you get the picture.  Most reasonable people understand that the POTUS does not have a big say in economic trends.  They either benefit or take blame from the markets, but what Presidents can do is frame perspective.  Whether or not the latter is Mr. Bush’s fault – although many have viewed him as a “lame duck” since ’06, the people’s loss of confidence in the outgoing administration was in many ways deserved.  Sen. McCain had to fight against a skilled opponent and his own Party’s brand label.  Even Sen. Obama wouldn’t have been able to overcome those factors.

Summary:  All of this is prologue.  The interesting part to watch will be to see how Mr. Obama governs as President Obama.  If a President Obama is able to do as well as he did with the first three points in his administration it will likely enjoy success and populrity.  However, he won’t have George Bush to kick around after the first few months.  The onus will be on him and Congress to truly bring about policies that unite America.

I also believe he will shift back towards the left from the smaller moves he had made to the Center.  In many ways he should if you believe as I do he had a mandate.  The media and the Dems were correctly criticial of the Bush Administration – particularly from ’00 to 06 in not being inclusive.  I have a feeling the same will happen, and in some ways that troubles me as I am more Centrist than either the Bush or forthcoming Administration will be.

While I don’t believe he will make the US a “Socialist” country, I would be shocked if policies that favor Big Government a la New Deal and Great Society are not reintroduced.  There are other concerns that are shared.  Mr. Obama’s declaration of a “Civilian Defense and Security Force” equal in footing and funding to the US military is as vague as it is troubling.   I also think that this administration will be as partisan as President Bush’s was partisan, as President Clinton’s was partisan.  

Some things won’t change.  That is something you truly can believe in.

November 7, 2008

Quote of the Day

Filed under: Conservatives,Election '08,General,Liberals,Obama,Philosophy,Politics — avoiceofreason @ 4:47 pm

Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.
Alvin Toffler

November 6, 2008

Three Reasons I Say, “Thank God this Thing is Over”!

Two days after the general election. A new President. So many things to contemplate, and all I can say is “Thank God it’s over.”

In this post I will now give you my top three reasons why I am gleeful that this election season is over.

1 – I can have a conversation with my wife and not see her and her see me as a political enemy. I mentioned this to her the other day and she looked greatly offended. I also have to question why I felt that way, but suffice it to say I know I did. My wife and I are very different people who have world views which are antithetical to each other. She has often used the analogy that our relationship was similar to the Celt mythos of the Christian king of old marrying the “daughter of the tribe”. I bet you know which side of the political fence she is on from that statement alone. In most cases this causes our ideas to be encountered and our world view has an impact on the other in that a new view is formed. A synthesis of ideas occurs, with levels of respect borne from each others thesis. I know you philosophers out there are seeing the Hegellian Dialect at play.

2 – I don’t have to defend George W. Bush anymore to anyone or to myself. In many ways I still kinda like W, although I really am finding it pretty hard to find myself in agreement with many of the things he has done. I don’t know if that is just good old hard core political loyalty, or perhaps I do see something there. More than likely it is that I hate Monday morning quarterbacks, and since I was in the 45% in ’00 and the 50.6% in ’04 that voted for him, and that at the time based on what I was told, I supported the Iraq War as did most Americans, and in principle I like a lot about NCLB, and that in principle – which caused a lot of ruckus, I saw a lot to like about his immigration reform proposal, I figured it would be churlish to kick him while he was down. However, in all honesty I’m tired of offering apologetics for the POTUS. I’m tired of being made to feel that I am stupid, even though I have an IQ of 140, because I still support the guy. I’m glad he’s gone, and that history will be the evaluator of his time in office. I’ll also likely be dead if he has a Harry Truman repeat of history, and in the rear view mirror of fifty years is seen as a damned fine President. Then again, 96 isn’t impossible. Time to lose weight and do more exercise, and if history doesn’t bear this theory out, I’ll have the benefit of being a greater burden on my grandchildren.

3 – The country can reunite – even if my guy lost. I have a hunch that there will be some changes, and probably I won’t like them all. That is the reason why we have elections. I also don’t think that this will become Stalinist Russia with all the drabbery in between. One of the worst scenarios imaginable would have been a 269 to 269 tie with Congress deciding the POTUS. True, the evil part of my nature which would have revelled in the national hysteria would have been amused. It also would have been historic, and if President Elect Obama had emerged through the process as POTUS so much the better I suppose if you like more history. However, one historical first will be good enough. I am sure there will be a healthy debate about things in the near future. I also believe that while one can run a campaign on ideology, governance requires a bit more cooperation. It has been said that democracy is the government of the half-loaf. I think that some on the polar extremes may have less cause for fear and rejoicing than they may have thought this past Tuesday. Then again, I could be wrong.

Quote of the Day

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.
– Henry David Thoreau, 1817 – 1862

Dedicated to my 57,000,000 fellow citizens. Along with best wishes (sincere ones) to our new President-Elect Obama. (Read yesterday’s post), who is now my President.

November 5, 2008

My President?

Filed under: Election '08,Politics — avoiceofreason @ 5:30 am

God, it’s been awhile since I posted.

I guess I should let all who may still read this deserted blog know that I am well, I just got a bit fed up with all the fighting.  I also realized that a person that I didn’t want elected is now President of the United States.

Like many – and though I am somewhat centrist I tend to go more to the “Right” during political seasons – who are like me, I am not happy about the results and there are many temptations to give into despondency and more than a little bit of ire.

I worry a lot about things, and one of them is my son who is serving in the US Army in the Infantry, and who will likely – because I don’t think that the “Change” which will come will be an abandonment in the Middle East -at least not tomorrow – and about him having a CINC that voted not to fund them while they were at war. 

I also have at times defended the current President, and know how he was labeled the “chimp in chief” from day one by many in the Democratic Party, and he may have earned some of that later on, but the characterization was unfortunate.  The temptation to put the same label – not due to racial considerations – but due to a lingering of anger at the way that the MSM and about 45% to 55% of the public treated the POTUS from day one of his tenure – upon President – Elect Obama is very tempting.  I don’t like the man’s policies.  I dislike many of his positions, and yet, whether I like it or not, when I saw that he had won, and I forced myself to watch, although I l left after Ohio was called, when I saw that pronouncement, for better or for worse he was my President. 

Part of me wants to wish him badly.

That is not reasonable.

This hurts, a bit, but life will go on.  Maybe I’ll have to pay more taxes, what a surprise.  Maybe the US will become a Keynesian Socialist nation at some point.  Much of the world is the same.  I’m not happy about that.

If there are more abortions on demand without any checks, what do I care.  It isn’t my problem, and the overwhelming majority of people who have that done wouldn’t be good parents anyhow. 

I am concerned about things, but eventually, in a country that has self government, and we do have that, the people decide.  The United States has shifted to become a “center-left” nation in its desires.  I’ll have to deal with that.  In the end people who get to vote, get to live with their national choices.

Like it or not, I suppose he is my President, and I’ll have my fellow citizens to be thankful for, or to deride down the road.  That’s how it works.

We’ll see how it goes, but at the moment, I’m not happy.

Pleasant journeys.

May 23, 2007

Edwards: “War on Terror a Bumper Sticker”

From ABC News:

Democrat John Edwards Wednesday repudiated the notion that there is a “global war on terror,” calling it an ideological doctrine advanced by the Bush administration that has strained American military resources and emboldened terrorists.

“We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq military that is mission focused on protecting Americans from 21st-century threats, not misused for discredited ideological purposes,” Edwards said. “By framing this as a war, we have walked right into the trap the terrorists have set that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war on Islam.”

Man, I guess I’m sorry I missed the memo that the WOT was over. Now, while I don’t always feel that there has been wise and consisent handling about this issue, I think Sen. Edwards is either very naive or simply pandering to the left part of the Democratic Party. Since, he was a successful litagator, and no, that doesn’t eliminate the former, I’ll have to opt for the latter.

Sen. Edwards may have the left in his pocket, but that leaves about 80% of the population, HOPEFULLY, scratching their heads in amazement at his rhetoric.

GOP Frontrunner, Rudy Giuliani, was quick to comment on Edwards’ comments.

“One of the democratic Presidential candidates today gave a speech in New York and the speech that he gave suggested that the global war on terror was no more than a slogan of George Bush’s,” Mr. Giuliani told a gathering of employees of an insurance company in Keene. “I understand the zeal and the overzealousness that some of these people have to attack George Bush. It comes out a of a political process,” he said. “I think it is wrong. I think it doesn’t put George Bush’s presidency in proper perspective.”

Talk about hitting the nail on the head. Later on Giuliani did mention Mr. Edwards by name. The reason that Mr. Edwards will not even validate the US’ efforts in this area are driven by the mindframe of the demagogues. Purely and simply that is what the base of the Democratic Party has become. Then again, what can one expect from pigs but grunts. The mindlessness of the Dems is having them live up to their mascot, jackasses.

Poll: Majority of Muslim Immigrants Assimilating Well

A poll by the Pew Research Foundation has found that

Most Muslim Americans are moderate, mainstream and middle class, the study shows. They are largely assimilated, happy with their lives and have adopted such core American values as a belief that hard work will lead to success. Their income and educational levels also are comparable with those of most Americans, the study found.

However, the same poll found that nearly one in four Muslims under 30 years old,believe that suicide bombing in the defence of Islam are justified in “some” circumstances.

Pew Research President Andrew Kohut claims that his news is rather positive, and that

“This is a group living as most Americans live … a group that is assimilating or aspiring to assimilate.”

Of course he leaves out that rather worrying 25% who have no problem with suicide bombings in “some” circumstances.

While I am happy that 75% to 80% of those Muslims who have emigrated to the US are not in favor of such activity, I wonder what would the reaction be if the same question were given to Jews, and if it were found that 25% of younger Jews support suicide bombings if they felt that Judaism had been besmirched. I’m sure that would go over very well.  If all the African Americans in the US were surveyed, and the same results had been displayed, do you think that would possibly have received a different view other than happiness?  How well would the same information be received if 25% of Evangelicals felt that suicide bombings were appropriate if Christianity had been disrespected, which is an everyday occurence if you watch mainstream television or listen to some politicians speak. Would that be cause for rejoicing or cause for Congress to act in a draconian measure to those people who had been in the US for quite a long while. What if 25% of those who are illegally here felt that suicide bombings were acceptable in some circumstances? Do you think that there would be much of a discussion about the need to reach them, or would the talk be centered on deportation, much as it is today, even though illegals perform statistically lower amount of violent felonies, including homicide than the public at large.

Typical pandering to the Religion of Peace. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that 75% of the people surveyed are happy with America, and want to assimilate. However, 25% endorsing terrorist techniques is a reason for concern, not happiness.  Then again, I’m sane.

Guest Worker Program Slashed in Half

The number of guest workers allowed entry into the US in the proposed immigration reform bill has been slashed in half from 400,000 to 200,000.  The Senate voted 74-24 to provide such a reduction, and was brought forward mostly by Democratic Senators aligned with unions.  The fear was that the number of immigrants being allowed to enter would cause destabilization among wages earned by “blue collar” labor.

This may have an effect of giving more support to the bill from some Democratic legislators, although there is still opposition to the bill from the left on the formulaic process which gives less weight to family members entering the country than those who have skills which are deemed important to the economy.  The rationale behind the crafters of the bill behind having a large number of invited guest workers would be that the large number of invited workers would limit the pressure of those seeking to work in the US illegally.

Clearly this bill has sparked great controversy with regard to its content – from both the left and the right – and the manner in which it was brought to the Senate.  With the bill going through a typical, and in this case high profile amendment process many are beginning to express doubt that immigration reform will be accomplished in the President’s term.

While the need for immigration form to many seems to be apparent, the large concessions made by both parties to reach this compromise, may not allow for this bill to have a chance to survive, and be signed into law.

May 18, 2007

The Immigration Bill – What Would Reagan Say?

In the hubub for the GOP to take on the mantle of Ronald Reagan, one has to wonder what would The Great Communicator say about the bill being proposed about illegal aliens. I think he would have supported it.

This is from Otis Graham’s Reagan’s Big Mistake.

While I disagree with the title, I do agree with the facts.

Reagan did have a place in his mind and a rhetoric on the matter of immigration. His was the sentimentalist, Statue of Liberty conception so widely shared among assimilated Americans of his day who could not remember when immigration had been a problem. In one of the few references to immigration in his published state papers covering his eight years in the White House, Reagan displayed in 1984 the then-dominant language of diversity celebration when he told an audience of naturalizing immigrants that immigrants “enlivened the national life with new ideas and new blood,” and “enrich us” with “a delightful diversity.”

I guess The Gipper wouldn’t have minded some of the positive aspects of multiculturalism.

In May 1981, Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.), chairman the Senate subcommittee on immigration, sought to confer with the president prior to Reagan’s scheduled meeting with Mexican President Lopez Portillo in order to urge the administration to keep American options open on immigration. But the meeting lasted only 15 minutes. Reagan listened to Simpson’s views and limited himself to a broad promise of co-operation. Congress therefore assumed the lead in immigration reform, though Simpson, in, the words of a White House staff memo to Reagan, had “indicated his willingness to ‘carry the administration’s water’ on this issue.” They carried different water, as it turned out.

Simpson sensed from his early contacts with White House aides that cooperation with Reagan was shaky. To start with, the president’s newly appointed Immigration Task Force was leaning toward an expansion of legal immigration. One important bias appeared to shape the Task Force’s deliberations from the start. In the words of one White House staffer, “The President is himself a firm believer in a high degree of freedom in immnigration”.

This means that he wanted to “liberalize” immigration policy. If observers had expected a conservative government to shift the policy options toward firmer law enforcement while condemning liberal laxity, they were surprised.

Reagan’s own short message announcing these proposals could have been written by Ted Kennedy. He began with the ritual incantation that “Our nation is a nation of immigrants” which would always welcome more to our shores. But the “Cuban influx to Florida” required more effective policies that will “preserve our tradition of accepting foreigners to our shores, but to accept them in a controlled and orderly fashion … consistent with our values of individual privacy and freedom.”

Hmm… Ted Kennedy and Reagan. Ted Kennedy and Bush. Coincidence, I think not. Reagan and Bush were in many ways true progressives in that they understood that America stands for uplifting the human condition. Despite some of his views, which I disagree with profoundly, I would submit that in many instances, this view is more consistently found in Sen. Kennedy, and his staff, than in many of those current Republicans who think they model Reagan.

Ronald Reagan called himself a conservative, but on immigration, he was not. On this issue, conservative Ronald Reagan, in a moment of critical import, lined up with the liberals, and his historical reputation should reflect this.

As Reagan did, so does President Bush, and for the most part, on this issue, I agree. But maybe that bastion of liberalism the Cato Institute sums it up best.

“Like President George W. Bush today, Reagan had the good sense and compassion to see illegal immigrants not as criminals but as human beings striving to build better lives through honest work. In a radio address in 1977, he noted that apples were rotting on trees in New England because no Americans were willing to pick them. “It makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won’t do?” Reagan asked. “One thing is certain in this hungry world; no regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.”

Compare Reagan’s hopeful, expansive, and inclusive view of America with the dour, crabbed, and exclusive view that characterizes certain conservatives who would claim his mantle. Their view of the world could not be more alien to the spirit of Ronald Reagan.

Amen and Amen.

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