18 August, 2011

August 18, 1920

Women have the right to vote.

The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified by Tennessee. Tennessee is the 36th state to ratify this amendment, which is enough for it to be enacted. Eventually 12 other states ratify the amendment as well, with Mississippi being the last in 1984!

But not Hawaii and Alaska. Since they are not states in 1920, they don’t get a chance to ratify.

17 August, 2011

August 17, 1994

On this day in 1994, Debt of Honor, by Tom Clancy was released.

The novel ends with a suicide pilot crashing a commercial jet into the Capitol, killing most of Congress and the President.

Clancy later describes to the BBC how he’d gone about writing this book: “I didn’t write Debt of Honor without first discussing it with an Air Force officer. And so I ran this idea past him and all of a sudden this guy’s eyeballing me rather closely and I said come on general, I know you must have looked at this before, you’ve got to have a plan for it. And the guy goes, ‘Mr. Clancy, to the best of my knowledge, if we had a plan to deal with this, it would be secret, I wouldn’t be able to talk to you about it, but to the best of my knowledge we’ve never looked at this possibility before.’”
In fairness to Clancy, he was not the first to envision something like this. In fact, Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, did something similar in his 1982 novella, The Running Man. In it, the story ends with the hero stealing a plane and flying it into a skyscraper.

"...and it rained fire twenty blocks away"

15 August, 2011

Palin, Perry, &…Buckley

Look, it’s no news to anyone that I’m a strong supporter of former Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK). If she enters the race, I will undoubtedly support her through the primaries for as long as she’s part of them. Nothing, politically speaking, would make me happier than a Palin Presidency.

And then there’s Governor Rick Perry (R-TX). Despite my lukewarm support for his candidacy, there’s no doubt that he offers much of what Palin brings to the table. In one way, at least, he surpasses it, having been governor of TX for almost 10 years. But he’s a strong conservative. He has good fiscal and social conservative credentials. It appears that he’ll likely be a fantastic fundraiser, and he’s willing to take the fight to President Barack Obama (D-USA).

Yes, there are some things he’s done in the last 10 years that I don’t agree with 100%. But that’s part of governing. The longer a record someone has, the more likely they are to have done something that you don’t like. You need to look at the overall record, not one or two things.

He doesn’t bring the “reformer” credentials that she has, and I think she’s a tad bit to his right, but possibly not much.

In a perfect world, Palin would not have been forced, due to left wing lunacy, to resign from her governorship, and would still be governor of AK, while considering this Presidential run. And she’d have two more years of AK’s record to run on. In that world, there’s no contest in my mind. Palin’s the better candidate, and the better future President.

But that’s not the world in which we live. We live in a world where the left has done everything possible to bring down this woman over the last 2 1/2 years. They managed to twist AK’s ethics laws to work in their favor against a woman who has done everything possible to remove corruption in politics in her state, on both sides of the aisle.

This has taken its toll on the once most popular & highly approved governor in America. She is a lightning rod for the left, and instead of introducing herself to independents, she will have to re-educate them. This will be an uphill climb. Not an impossible one, but difficult. She is no longer the woman that could ride the coat tails of her 80%+ approval rating into the White House.

In other words, we live in William F. Buckley’s world.

And, here in the Buckley world, the Buckley rule must be considered. “Support the most conservative candidate who is electable.”

If Palin enters the race, she will have my support. However, if someone believes that she has electability issues and wants to invoke Buckley as their reason for supporting Perry, I can’t argue with that decision. In this case in particular, it is more than fair to consider Palin’s electability. I personally think that she’s still quite electable, but there’s no doubt that her road to the White House will be a rougher one than Perry’s.

Having said that, I think one mistake conservatives continuously make is invoking the Buckley rule too quickly. We’ve done it far too often in our history. And we end up with weak candidates because we assume that they are “electable”. If we’re going to turn this country around, it’s going to take strong conservative actions. And that requires electing strong conservatives. Which means we’re going to have to throw the dice sometimes and take a chance on the ones lower on the “electability” scale. This is true at all levels of politics, possibly even more so at the lower end than the upper.

And, it’s worth mentioning that there’s also the Limbaugh Rule.

August 15, 1971

President Richard Nixon (R-USA) takes the United States off of the gold standard. In many ways, this is the ultimate triumph of Keynesian economics over reality.

However, despite my preference for Austrian economics, I’m ambivalent where it concerns a return to the gold standard. This may be a battle that has already been lost. By my calculations, the entire amount of gold ever mined amounts to something between $8 trillion and $9 trillion at today’s exchange rates.

If you think a return to the gold standard is likely, buy gold now. $1800 an ounce will seem incredibly cheap. The price could easily triple, and that might be conservative. And know the side effects. Gold is widely used in consumer electronics. Your $200 smartphone might suddenly move out of your price range. Or more likely, gold will be replaced in consumer electronics with cheaper, and lower quality, alternatives. Hooray for lower quality! Sign me up!

When Nixon took us off of the gold standard, he put in place some temporary but rather draconian measures to avoid economic turmoil (see link above). Getting back on the gold standard would require some of these same types of practices or acceptance that the stocks and bonds markets would go crazy for a while, which will likely bring economic growth to a halt.

Still, there’s no doubt that a return to the gold standard would severely limit the power of the Federal Reserve, and in my mind that’s an incredibly good thing.  It also makes absurd practices like “quantitative easing” out of the question. That is without doubt a great thing.

And there are quite a few more pros and cons than I’ve gone into in this post. In short, this is a complex issue that deserves more attention than a 30-second sound bite.

14 August, 2011

August 14, 1945

United States General Douglas Macarthur, left, and Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, right, sign the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, officially ending World War II.

And Then There Were Eight

Eight GOP candidates that is.

Former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) is out. He ran an ineffective campaign. Perhaps he was limited, no matter what. I’ve seen reports that suggest that. I know that early on I found him very impressive and refreshing, and then it seemed like all the spark went out of his campaign when he refused to criticize former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) on ObamneyCare during the first debate.

But wait, there were eight just last week. And there’s still eight. So, nothing’s really changed. Well, except for the fact that the group became much more dynamic and tilted a bit further to the right. Both of those are good things.

Good luck in the future in whatever you decide to do, Mr. Pawlenty. I’ve enjoyed seeing your tweets on Twitter and look forward to hearing more from you. Public policy polling says that a campaign for Senate for you is a “non-starter” unless you want to be defeated twice in one cycle, but I believe that once again, PPP is trying to make the news, rather than report it. Go for it, if that interests you.

The Obligatory ‘Rick Perry’ Is In Post

Apparently the Governor of TX made some big splash yesterday in South Carolina. Rick Perry (R-TX) announced his candidacy for President of the United States.

Melissa Clouthier has the text of his speech, and the video on her blog.

And here’s his first campaign vid.


From my timeline in Twitter, Perry is apparently either the Second Coming, or the ultimate Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Everyone seems to be excited about his candidacy, but that doesn’t mean everyone is happy about it.

I alone am not incredibly excited either way.

I’ve been a tepid supporter of former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN). Perry appears to be a better candidate than Pawlenty, but he’s not perfect, not by a long shot (not that I expect him to be—but the adulation I’m seeing in Twitter is somewhat disconcerting). However, some of the criticism being leveled against him appears to be unfair.

There’s the article from the Wall Street Journal called “Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism Problem”. Frankly, this is a poorly done article, and is more of a hatchet job than a piece offering legitimate criticism. Having done business with a number of state legislatures over the years, I can pretty much guarantee that there are programs like the one mentioned in the article in 49 other states as well. Some of them are very good programs, and some are little better than organized crime. But, a hardliner would probably find something to be concerned with in every single one. It’s the nature of the beast. This one might tilt a little bit too far on the ethical question, and it might not. But without something solid, I’m going to lean in the direction of…not.

The other question that is being brought up is his stance on illegal immigration. And, frankly, he appears to be weak here. Another poorly written and poorly titled piece about his issues here appears on Politico. There’s another one on TPM. Given the source, this article also needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. Weeding out the personal distaste the authors apparently have for Perry does leave the following facts (some good, some bad):

  • He wanted children of illegal aliens (whom he called “undocumented workers”—big red flag) to be able to attend state colleges at resident rates.
  • He cracked down on sanctuary cities.
  • He’s against E-Verify.
  • He opposed AZ’s SB1070 bill.
  • He’s in favor of Voter ID.
  • He’s strongly in favor of more manpower to secure the border
  • He’s in favor of some sort of guest worker program for illegals.
  • He’s also called for more open borders (note that that’s not quite a contradiction—you can be for more openness and yet still be against crossing illegally)
  • He was in favor of some sort of Mexican-Texas toll road. Meh.
  • He said giving amnesty to 13 million illegals was “Asinine”.

I will admit that there are things here that give me pause. Illegal immigration is one of my hot button issues, and not just because I believe it’s an economy killer. Perry seems to be trying to straddle the fence on this issue, and in my mind by doing so all he’s doing is sitting on barbed wire in a silk suit. He needs to pick a side on this issue. And if he picks the wrong one, it will be a big deal for me. I see some people claiming that his stance is ok or that it somehow makes him more electable. Amazingly, some of these same people were worried that the GOP might cave on taxes in exchange for promised future cuts. In my mind, that is incredibly inconsistent. This is an issue the GOP has given in on before, just like those tax increases, and gotten burned, just like those tax increases. There’s no acceptable middle ground here, and neither is it acceptable to be on the wrong side.

There’s a pretty good bio of Perry here, but in my mind it attempts to whitewash his stances on illegal aliens, and make him look farther to the right than he appears to be.

On the good side, Perry’s on the right side on taxes, and I believe he will open up offshore drilling. I hope he’ll open up ANWR, and investigate shale oil and other alternatives. From what I read about him, most of those things appear likely.

I have said before that while I’ll vote for my toaster over President Barack Obama (D-USA), that I can’t support former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) in the primaries. While I don’t really think she’s a long term player in the race, I have just as many issues with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06). I don’t believe legislators make good Presidents. I never have, and certainly the last 2 1/2 years have done nothing to change my mind. So, if I’m choosing between Perry and those two, it’s an easy choice. I choose Perry.

But assuming no new candidate enters the race, the level of my support will be one of three things, and it depends on what Perry says over the next few months:

  1. Reluctant. I end up here if he says other things that indicate that the Politico article may be correct, that he’s all bluster on this issue.
  2. Tepid. This is where I am now, but I admit I’m warmer to him than I was to Pawlenty. And this is where I’ll stay if he continues to straddle the fence.
  3. Enthusiastic. All he has to do to get here is make one simple statement, “I’m not even going to discuss what to do about the illegals (and I wanna hear that word, not ‘undocumented workers’) already here until the border is demonstrably more secure.”

My cynicism when it comes to politicians makes me believe that I’m far more likely to end up on #1 than #3, but we’ll see.

Regardless, I’m happy to have another viable candidate in the race. Welcome, Governor Perry.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Perry used to be a Democrat. I couldn’t possibly care less. That was 23 years ago. Pfft. President Ronald Reagan (R-USA) used to be a Democrat too. I care what he’s done lately, and he’s clearly a conservative. Also, it’s worthwhile pointing out that he was a TEXAS Democrat. That’s like a MASSACHUSETTS Republican, i.e., you can add the INO label without too much irony.


UPDATE 2: I should point out here that the good that I see in Perry far outweighs the bad. Illegal immigration is the ONLY thing I’ve seen so far that concerns me, and he’s not exactly on the wrong side. As I said, he appears to be straddling the fence. That just makes me nervous about him, not ready to throw him over the side. As I said, I was a supporter of Pawlenty, and from what I’ve seen so far, Perry is a far better candidate than Pawlenty.

August 14, 1996

See here.
A “United Press International” article draws from a State Department fact sheet released the same day (see August 14, 1996), and states, “Earlier, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Usama Bin Ladin drew on his family’s wealth ‘plus donations received from sympathetic merchant families in the Gulf region’ to organize the Islamic Salvation Foundation, or al-Qaida. The group established recruitment centers in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan that enlisted and sheltered thousands of Arab recruits to fight the Soviets. ‘This network remains active,’ the State Department said.”