Category Archives: moderation

Only the hyperbolic need apply…

…for the Republican Presidential nomination. One man’s theory:

Huntsman’s problem, aside from serving as the administration’s ambassador to China, is that he doesn’t seem to hate Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular. His rhetoric is of someone who disagrees with the president, but doesn’t doubt his commitment to improving the country. Unfortunately for Huntsman, this runs counter to nearly every bit of conservative rhetoric over the last three years. If the current GOP were a party which didn’t reward personal animus toward the president, then Huntsman would probably be in a much better position.

BTW – This post is personal with me. My Buddy (and I should probably put quotation marks around that) recently sent me another stinging critique which prompted me to break my three-month moratorium on replying to his email.

We had a testy exchange and he said this of me which I’m sure partisans of Dr. Keith Dixon would concur with:

…if you say that Obama can walk on water, and that none of the Republican candidates can walk on water; and even if your hyperbole and bullshit are of lesser magnitude; you might get critical reaction from me. Maybe I should be indifferent about that, too; but maybe I have expected better of you.

In his first post he quoted my litany of criticisms about the political positions of the GOP field and suggested my description of them was “hyperbolic”

My Buddy sent me this as an example of my hyperbole:

…your hyperbole descends to bullshit. How many Republicans want no taxes, and no limit on Defense Spending, and no foreign policy other than the opposite of whatever Barrack Obama is doing?

Hey, I was clearly exaggerating but not by much if you’ve been watching the GOP Presidential candidates. They are all frozen into place by Grover Norquist’s pledges never to raise taxes. Except for Ron Paul they all seem loathe to consider cuts to our bloated Defense Budget. And as one “for instance” they’ve either beaten Obama up on Libya for being too reluctant to intervene or for having intervened too much.

Huntsman is a very engaging and smart presidential contender but his chief liability was having worked for Obama and his second is, as the commentator suggests, refusing to sound hyperbolic like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or most of the Tea Party. I jumped the GOP ship six years ago when it was merely self righteous and closed minded. I know that’s a bit of hyperbole but I use it as a goad just like I do on Duluth’s Red Plan defenders.

I should point out that my Buddy concludes by saying he expects more from me. That is pretty flattering really so I can never fully discount his criticism. Still, I don’t plan to change my commentary much in the future. I’m more likely to ease up on my posts to dig into the damn book I keep mentioning. I got about six pages of it written last night. Only 300 more to go.

Hank Jr’s Adolph

There have been a dozen and more dictators in my adult life that merited comparrison with Adolph Hitler. Most were pale shadows no matter how many of their own people they killed. Still, I couldn’t fault anyone for invoking Hitler’s name when castigating them. Such a case is Hank Williams Jr. who said Obama is the new Hitler just as lots of peaceniks said the same of George W. Bush.

Most people who get compared with the leader of the Third Reich are suffering from some other person’s gross overreach and historical ignorance. (BTW I’ve felt free in 26 posts to mention Hitler myself. I’m too busy to read them all again to see just how I made use of the tyrant and I might even have compared some of his actions to those of the Duluth School Board. Hopefully I did so with a little more subtley than Hank Williams did.) Hank Jr. sits justifiably in his father’s shadow and never more so than when he compared our current President as Adolph’s successor. He apologized half heartedly by saying his passions got the better of him. No more pigskin for Jr.

Maybe Hank Jr. would be better off to return to the orator’s old standby for the personification of evil pre-World War II. The Pharaoh was also great music material for classic American gospel music and Hank could tap into that.

The Walker Experiment vs. Democracy

Of all the news in the Trib today I think this was the most important to educators. (Once again, its not on the DNT’s website. Maybe they are charged to put AP stories in their own site)

What’s happening in Wisconsin is a grand experiment in control of public sector unions. The law which the 19th century leaning Republicans passed is a “Right to Work” lobbyist’s dream and a pretty wet one at that. In one fell swoop Republicans have eviscerated public employee union’s political power.

Before the law passed, WEAC had about 98,000 members and was one of the most powerful unions in the state, contributing millions to Democratic causes. Lobbying reports show the union spent $2.5 million lobbying lawmakers in 2009 and 2010, more money than any other group.

This summer, the union reported spending $500,000 in support of Democratic candidates in recall elections, and in August announced 42 workers had been laid off as a result of the law. Earlier this month, unions representing about 50,000 public workers opted not to go through with recertification, citing the fees and the lack of bargaining power beyond wages even if the elections succeeded.

My gut instinct tells me that this is overreach Continue reading

Pt.1- Obama is the worst Democrat ever…

…but I will vote for him.

I almost didn’t read this letter to the Editor from Jason Johnson. I’m glad I did. Jason outlines half a dozen examples of moderate Republican actions by his Democratic President all of which he resents. Here’s about half of his accusations:

“His only liberal accomplishments include a stimulus bill loaded with largely non-stimulative tax cuts to appease the right wing. His health-care plan was taken from a Republican governor. He has been a hawk on Afghanistan. He has embraced warrantless wiretapping, secret prisons and illegal rendition. He has essentially condoned torture with his failure to prosecute war crimes of the Bush administration, even going as far as to block attempts at prosecution by other countries. And he is to the right of Bush on deportations.”

In addition to Jason’s continuing list I could add a couple dozen others including his much maligned Obamacare, which was designed by moderate Republicans like our own former Senator Dave Durenberger and his Administration’s rapid approval, ala ” Drill baby Drill,” of deep water Gulf Oil Wells up until one of Exxon’s wells went haywire.

Obama will need more JJ’s who hold their nose and vote for him. They would like to think that if Obama had taken the liberal cudjal and fought the Republicans their cause would have prevailed. I think they are wrong in that and that Obama and his advisers know this.

For me the biggest frustration is that Obama has been rational so far and his very intellectual honesty and reasonableness are proving less effective than the Republican Party’s crass politicization of a national, even a world crisis. I’d like to think that reason can trump polemics and gratuitous self dealing. (And “No” Buddy. I don’t think for a minute that Democrats as a group are immune from the same faults)

The next post will pretty well point out the dilemma that “Liberals” face.

Would this be acceptable in the US?

Would it be anti-semitic of me to deplore the slow abandonment of democratic principles by Israel’s Jewish population?

“…according to a 2010 survey by the Israel Democracy Institute, 86 percent of the Jewish public believe that decisions critical to the state should be taken only by a Jewish majority;”

and

“…and 55 percent say that greater resources should be allocated to Jewish communities than to Arab ones.”

Cheap money makes us stupid

Eleven PM, Saturday. I should be going to bed. Feeling hot and sweaty. Just clicked a link to a blog post Vic sent me. This one is by the Atlantic’s Meg McCardle.

Meg predicts that we are in for a series of new financial shocks this time in the commercial real estate world. A quarter trillion of possible defaults could take place each year for the next couple of years. It may not be the end of the world but its not got to be good.

This passage comes near the end of her post:

The best explanation for the calamity that has overtaken us may simply be that cheap money makes us all stupid. The massive inflows of international capital, which Ben Bernanke has called the “global savings glut,” poured into our loan markets, driving interest rates lower and, since most real estate is purchased with borrowed funds, pushing up the price of property in both the commercial and residential sectors. Rising prices, in turn, disguised any potential problems with the borrowers, because if they ran into cash-flow problems, they could always refinance, or sell. Everyone was getting bad signals from the market, and outlandish purchases looked almost rational.

That answer isn’t quite satisfying, especially in the face of another financial meltdown. We don’t want ambiguity and complex systems; we want heroes, villains, and a happy ending. But by now we should all know that real-estate markets are rarely the stuff of fairy tales.

Read the whole thing but if you are not an economist or a commercial landlord you may have a hard time following it.

So having read it I’m all hot and sweaty. Why? Well, I wanted to be something of a political sage, like Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mocking Bird. I might be trapped in insane times but I’d personally stand up to the foolishness and do what was right. Well, I’ve not been very successful at that.

This notion of easy “cheap” money is much on my mind. Early on in my fight against the denial of a referendum on the Red Plan I ran across a UM Law Professor who was telling me about a book he’d been reading. The upshot was that bankers loved to have government borrow money because government in the US never goes bankrupt. All the state constitutions with the exception of one require that state’s never go into default. In Minnesota’s case ( and probably most other state’s cases) subdivisions like Cities that get into financial trouble can tell banks and bond companies to have the state pay up should they go into default.

Under these circumstances what banker wouldn’t lend government more than it could easily handle? And so Duluth’s school board got the biggest single school construction project in state history. It won’t save money on energy. It will cost double what the District told voters. The banks will be paid back by the taxpayers because that’s how it works. Easy money and everybody who is part of the project can hide behind school children and say Its for our city’s future.

I’ve been fighting two battles over the past three years having to do with the foolishness easy money provokes. The Red Plan is the first and its taken up three quarters of my energy. The other has been very personal and I’ve only alluded to it occasionally in the most veiled way. Continue reading

Reapportionment in Iowa

This website explains how the Iowans reaportion their legislative and congressional districts. It concludes:

Gerrymandering is having a profound impact on the political process.  The practice sharply reduces the number of competitive elections to the US House of Representatives.  For example, in 2002, only four challengers were able to defeat incumbent members of Congress, the lowest number in modern American history, according to political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann.Non-competitive districts lead to entrenched, polarized legislatures.  Incumbents fear primary challenges from even-more-extreme partisans, not the other party, as a result of their “safe” districts.

By contrast, the non-partisan redistricting process has helped move politics in Iowa back toward the center.  Most Iowa politicians know they must appeal not only to their party, but also to independent voters and voters affiliated with the other party.  This inevitably leads to an emphasis on bipartisan cooperation and the public’s best interest.”

More on Demographics – Liberals to disappear

There was an interesting story on National Public Radio today on the world’s population trends. A demographer pointed out that the highest birthrates tend to be in nations with the most conservative (read: family oriented) nations. The elevated birth rate is encouraged by the “be fruitful and multiply” ethos of fundementalist Jews, Christians and Muslims. For instance, Utah; a state of, for, and by, the single-mindedly, family-oriented Mormans; has the highest birth rate in the nation.

What will happen to all the family oriented people when the world can no longer sustain itself was not addressed. The fear of being swamped with mass procreating aliens “yearning to breath free” is not new. The US was swept with fears about the “Yellow Peril” late in the 1800’s which led to the “Chinese Exclusion Act.” The fear of being overrun by Eastern European immigrants helped lead to the Eugenics movement of the early 1900’s. It also explains much of the fear about border crossings at the Mexican/American border today. (Ironic Note: it is conservatives not liberals who seem to be the most excercised by illegel immigrants)

The upshot of the NPR story was this: Liberals have small families and thus face a diminishing role in the politics of the future. Lest conservatives get too cocky they should read what Jared Diamond says in his latest book Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. I just have one disc left to listen to in the book’s audio version. I read and loved his previous best seller Guns, Germs and Steel. Diamond’s new book is a descendent of the much panned sixty’s oracle: The Population Bomb. That book’s predictions of a starving future were postponed by the phenomenal success of Minnesota’s Nobel Laureate, Norman Borlaug, and his “Green Revolution” which showed how we could harvest vastly more food per acre than with older agricultural techniques.

A cynic could scold the apostles of the Green Revolution by pointing out that when no more food can be wrung from the Earth it will just mean that there will be more people to die of starvation. Its hard for the pragmatist in me to deny the truth that lays behind the cynic’s scolding. Diamond argues convincingly that the recent genocide in Rwanda was much more the result of people fighting for enough land to feed themselves than it was a war between Hutu’s and Tutsi’s.

I wonder if there are any liberals left in Rwanda?