Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The blame game

An iteresting take on the current financial crisis. It's lengthy, but in my opinion, worth the watch:

h/t to Winds of Change

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why the candidates’ views on military spending matter

One of the questions raised by the discussion of the previous post has been whether the amount we spend on providing the US Military with modern, sophisticated, expensive weapons systems is justifiable. The discussion centers on the perceived notion that John McCain supports continued spending on such systems while Barack Obama supports cutting or eliminating a large amount of such spending.

This discussion represents a debate that has existed, I believe, since at least the beginning of recorded history and that has never had a concise answer. Before Americans can achieve their own answer to that debate, they must first answer some very important other questions.

First, what is the scope of the US’s defensive interests? Should the US Military only be capable of defending US territory, or should we define defense more broadly? Central to this question is the definition of US interests and their value to US national security. The broader this definition becomes, the more expensive the resulting military force becomes. Is the defense of national interests a justification of an expensive military?

Second, what should the trigger for the use of the US Military for national security purposes be? When we invaded Afghanistan, few people questioned the validity of that use of the military because the trigger was the violation of national sovereignty. Far more people questioned the invasion of Iraq because the triggers were far more esoteric. The reasons for the use of military force in Bosnia and Kosovo were even less clear. A military force prepared for employment for less defined reasons is more expensive. Is national interest enough reason to justify the use of military force?

Third, what should the employment cost of such defense be? When we use the US Military, we cannot just measure the cost in dollars but also in lives and time. There is a clear relationship between the sophistication of military equipment--sophistication is usually more expensive--and the cost in time and lives of any military operation. Certainly, our military is capable of winning with less sophisticated weapons, but is that a cost we are willing to pay?

The differences between McCain and Obama on these questions are clear. McCain believes in a broad scope of US defensive interests while Obama believes that much of that scope is better resolved through diplomacy and through the actions of other nations. McCain believes in a far lower threshold for the use of military force than Obama. McCain believes that the employment cost should be as low as possible--recall he has a lower threshold for use--while Obama seems to support a higher cost of employment because he envisions far less military use.

From my perspective, our government provided the answers to these questions for me in the 70s and 90s.

In the 70s, we allowed the government to decimate military spending because of the unpopularity of the Vietnam War. The result was that, in 1979, we did not have the capacity to deal with the Iran Hostage Crisis, and by 1980, there was a very real sense that we would lose if the Soviets invaded Western Europe. We spent most of the 80s correcting that mistake, only to make the same one again in the 90s.

In the 90s, the end of the Cold War and the success of Operation Desert Storm convinced many people that the need for a large, expensive standing military was no longer necessary. The 90s evisceration of the US Military made the 70s look loving by comparison. Unfortunately, the handwriting was already on the wall in the 90s. Various adversaries threatened and attacked US interests around the world with virtual impunity. Tribal warriors equipped with khat, AKs, and RPGs forced the US Military to withdraw from Somalia. Al Qaeda attacked the US Military directly and we were not able to respond.

On 9-11, al Qaeda drove this reality home. We have spent the past seven years rebuilding the force we should have had in 1993 when al Qaeda unmistakably attacked us for the first time.

I grant that military spending often seems like a waste. Standing militaries are unwieldy and inefficient entities that only achieve their peak when employed and even then are wasteful. Nevertheless, the value of maintaining such a force is clear.

I believe Obama’s position on this question represents a dangerous return to an idea already proven false and made even more dangerous by the current world situation. McCain’s position on this question is virtually indistinguishable from my own, hence my unwavering support for him.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Much-Reviled Single Issue Voter

[Cross-posted from The Free Radical]

Yeah, that's me.

I'm one of those simpletons, a Bitter Clinger, as Barack Obama would characterize me. I will vote in this election, as I did in the last election, on a single issue alone. There has been much talk about single issue voters this election, and much of it negative. We're portrayed as ignorant, poorly educated, mindless evangelical drones who care only about one aspect of our favored candidate, be it abortion, gun control, gay marriage or school vouchers. What's worse, from the perspective of most media pundits, these issues are supposed to be unimportant, or else already won by the liberals in the government. How dare we, the unwashed masses who went to public schools and got jobs where our hands get dirty, choose our candidates based on their stances on issues that don't fall within their worldview as something important?

In my recent discussions with liberal acquaintances of mine, I've discovered that they honestly feel those of us on the right, who opposed McCain in the primaries with some vehemence and now support him outspokenly, are rather shallow of intellect, and care only about winning (well, yeah, winning is pretty important). On the other hand, they view themselves as intellectual superiors, choosing their candidates based on some transcendent understanding of things far above the minds of us plebes, and a broad agreement across a variety of policies.

But I would challenge any of them, and indeed anyone from the left, to demonstrate to me how any issue, or any collection of issues, is more important than the single issue on which this voter is making his decisions. The simple fact is that in this era, national security is more important than anything else at stake in the coming election. Truth be told, it always has been, but we were more than fortunate for a good 40 years or so to not have to worry about it so much as we do today. But today, at this critical juncture in American history, we face an enemy so evil and bent on our destruction that we must elect government officials who are going to stand strongly in our defense. If we lack security, nothing else matters. We can continue to bail out Wall Street giants, send out stimulus checks, reform social welfare programs and improve our education and healthcare systems, but if people who are bent on our destruction are not stopped, it is all for naught.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The primary purpose of any government is to ensure the sovereignty of its nation, and to protect its citizens from foreign attack. Everything else is a far distant second.

While I do not agree with Senator McCain on a variety of issues (economic policy and environmental policy come to mind), I trust him infinitely more than Obama to do what is necessary to defend our nation and its interests from foreign attack. I believe that a President Obama would leave us incredibly weak and vulnerable to aggressive rogue nations like North Korea and Iran, and to new, anti-American alliances like the one forming between Russia and Venezuela. The world is only getting more dangerous by the moment, and we need a president who is prepared and resolved to do anything necessary to ensure our survival in it. John McCain fits that description, and Obama simply does not.

So call me simple, or uneducated, but that's the single issue I'm voting on. And it will continue to be so, until we have two candidates who are equally capable of preserving our union.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Voting for America’s king

All of this talk in this presidential election cycle about who has the most experience to be president leaves me wondering when we developed an American nobility only from which can our candidates for president be chosen. When did some sort of ephemeral experience at being “presidential” become the prerequisite for being president?

Even more, what kind of experience qualifies someone to be president? We are electing someone to represent us, not rule us, the last time I checked. If some kind of executive-international experience is what qualifies someone to be president, then why is the last commander of Central Command not the universal candidate for president?

After all, since 1976, the man whose experience was arguably closest being presidential was George H.W. Bush, who was vice president for eight years and ran the CIA before that, and we only elected him for one term and replaced him with the licentious governor of Arkansas. The other three presidents in the same period were also governors whose résumés certainly beg the experience question.

From my view, there are two basic qualifications for my support for a presidential candidate.

The first qualification is Constitutional. My support is contingent on the candidate being a natural born citizen of the United States who is at least 35 years old and who resided in the United States for the past fourteen years.

The second qualification is that the candidate demonstrates the worldview, positions, and mettle I expect a president to demonstrate while in office. I believe discovering those qualities is what campaigns and journalists--when they bother to do their jobs--are supposed to accomplish.

Certainly, experience can help show how a candidate fulfills the second qualification, but such experience does not somehow pre-qualify a candidate to be president. Such pre-qualification is the stuff of monarchies, not democracy.

Therein lies the reason that I support John McCain for President of the United States, all the more so because he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. Granted, neither of them is perfect, but as an aggregate on issues important to me and especially on my deal-breaking issue of foreign policy, their worldview, positions, and mettle proves to match my own views. Experience factors into my support for McCain only inasmuch as his history of service to his nation proves his qualification by my standards.

So, before you choose a candidate based on experience, consider what that experience really means. Frankly, Dick Cheney and Al Gore are eminently more qualified to be president by the experience measure, but who is going to vote for them? Instead, we should consider which candidate believes what we do about America and its future and pick that person to represent us for the next four years.


Cross-posted on Dennis L Hitzeman’s Worldview Weblog

Saturday, September 13, 2008

From the shadows, emerges...

Yeah, here I am.

My on-again, off-again flirtation with political writing has again reared its ugly head. There was a time, some years ago, when I was a walking talking-points memo, a repository of political discourse far out of place with my station in life. I dabbled in podcasting for a bit at the advice of close friends, but I found its medium to be insufficient to effectively express myself. Around that same time (shortly following the 2004 presidential election), I became increasingly disillusioned with politics in general. The election had yielded us a moderate president who was stellar on a single, overarching issue, but basically lacking in nearly everything else. I was, I admit, a bit emotionally drained from the drama and fighting of the previous six months of campaigning, and I looked at Washington, my generation, and the world as a whole as being too big, too complicated, and too far gone to solve.

And yet, here I am again, doing all the proverbial "arguing on the internet" that my new marriage and employment schedule allow. I have held off of solo writing (well, I had a LiveJournal some years ago, but I was rather bitter and lonely at that time in my life...), preferring instead to participate in the epic displays of intellectual might known as... message boards. I hid there, in a way, stirring the pot of angry liberals and taking pot shots here and there when someone would make a particularly asinine comment. I almost have the feeling, at times, that what I'm doing there is almost unfair. After all, arguing with facts and logic, as I do, against those armed only with several pages of emoticons and a vocabulary restricted to what they can type to their homies on their cell phones, is something like fishing in a kiddie pool. With a hand grenade.

But nevertheless, I stayed far clear of making any forays into the world of political writing proper (well, as proper as blogs can be considered to be, anyway), because I've always found myself to be much more gifted in the discipline of dialogue, but somewhat uncomfortable and unsuited to monologue. To say it more directly, I am not a creative person. I would much rather let someone else plunge into the waters of public discussion, and then come swooping in with my own replies and rebuttals. Far easier than actually coming up with your own subject matter, your own topics to research and points to raise. So yeah, in short, I was being intellectually lazy.

But something has changed this year for me that has driven me not only back into arguing on the internet, but to even try my hand (er... keyboard) at writing my own things. More accurately I suppose, several things have changed.

I would not be here typing this rambling nonsense if the Presidential tickets were Romney-Tancredo and Clinton-Daschle. But two things have brought me, and thousands of others like me, back to the table of discussion for this election. First, the Democrats accidentally nominated Barack Obama as their nominee for president. I say accidentally because, watching the primaries, it seemed as if, at the last moment, they realized their mistake and tried to reverse course, only to find it was too late. Obama coasted to the nomination on pure momentum, all the while getting beaten and bloodied by a clearly experienced (and equally ruthless) Clinton campaign. I believe, for reasons I'm sure we'll cover later on, that the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in the world would be a dangerous and grevious error for our country, and one the consequences of which may prove eventually mortal to the survival of our nation. See here for a taste of what I'm talking about.

My second motivation to return to this wild, silly, confused and contentious arena we call American politics is the rebirth of the McCain campaign, of which the nomination of Sarah Palin is the primary example. For months (unable to fully take my fingers off the pulse of the political scene) I watched and scratched my head as McCain, apparently fully able to take advantage of an early start to the campaign over his Democrat rivals, seemingly floundered and bumbled his way about the country, not really doing anything of note, at all. I was actually starting to believe the assertions of guys like Michael Savage, who insisted that McCain was nominated to lose the race for the GOP on purpose. But then, something happened. The McCain Machine fired up, opened up the gun case and unleased with all barrels on the Obama campaign, with an aggression and purpose that I haven't seen out of a Republican since, well, never (I was a bit young for politics when Reagan left office).

So count me among the growing demographic of conservatives coming out of the shadows, heartened by a candidate showing every mark of a true leader, as well as a true resolve to hit our esteemed opponents from across the aisle right where it hurts. A few months ago, I was going to hold my nose, close my eyes and pull the Republican lever. Now, I can't wait to pull it, and want to do everything I can to convince everyone I know to pull that lever with me. Even my mother-in-law.

Till next time...


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Something Which is a Sign of Something I Know Not What, if in Fact it is a Sign of Anything at All

So I was watching Die Hard 2 - a movie in which a team of former Army special ops guys takes over Dulles International Airport in an attempt to free a Latin American drug lord only to be foiled when a cop from New York blows up their 747 with a f*&$ing cigarette lighter - and for some reason the only quibble I had while watching was, "There's no way that old lady would be allowed to bring a stun gun onto an airplane!"

Friday, September 5, 2008

Now it’s time to fight

With John McCain’s acceptance speech last night, the general election campaign officially begins.

This campaign, perhaps more than any in decades, represents a fight for the future of the United States and libertarian republican democracy around the world. In the choice between McCain and Obama, we have the distinction between someone who believes in America and everything it stands for and someone who believes that American is fundamentally flawed and can only be fixed by the benevolence of government.

Let us make no mistake, if you choose to vote for Barack Obama, you are voting for someone who does not believe in you as a citizen. Barack Obama believes in bigger government, bigger taxes, the demise of individualism, and the rise of the socialist state. Barack Obama believes in reducing life to a choice. Barack Obama believes in subverting the wellbeing of the United States to the will of the international community who never has this nation’s best interests at heart. Barack Obama believes in reducing the United State’s ability to defend itself. Barack Obama believes in his destiny as president over his duty to serve the people.

The contrast is clear. If you choose to vote for John McCain, you are voting for someone who has dedicated his life to the service of the republic. He stands for the Constitution and the ideals our Founding Fathers put forth. He believes in smaller government, lower taxes, the supremacy of the individual, and the inherent dignity of every life. John McCain believes in making the United States stand strong in the face of a world bent on taking advantage of this nation’s strength while standing for peoples who cannot stand for themselves. John McCain believes that libertarian republican democracy can only be preserved through strong defense. John McCain believes in the destiny of a nation governed of, by, and for the people that he will serve if elected.

If you believe in the vision John McCain supports, then consider yourself my friend, whatever differences may lie between us. I hope we can work together to get McCain to the White House.

IF you believe in the vision of Barack Obama, then consider yourself my objective. It is my goal over the next weeks to convince you that Obama is not the right candidate for president now or ever.

From today until 4 November, my goal is to convince everyone that I can reach both in person and via this weblog that my view is the right view, and that John McCain is the right man at the right time to be President of the United States.

It is my hope and my prayer that you will see my vision and join me in my quest.


Cross-posted on Dennis L Hitzeman’s Worldview Weblog

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Brief Foray Into Politics and Such As...

Hi everybody. I've had posting privileges on this site since it started up but I've been too much of a little wussy to write anything here. But then I figured, screw it. Read, contemplate, digest, discuss, and recognize.

I mentioned in this post my opinion regarding the upcoming Presidential election. I’ve never been enthusiastic about voting since I became legally old enough to do so. I guess my own values/opinions on government must be pretty far outside the mainstream, because I’ve never seen a candidate that I liked. There’s just always been the guy I don’t like and the guy I like less than the other guy.

My opinion on this election has changed somewhat. I don’t know if it will last, and if history is any indication it probably won’t. Still, for once I see a candidate that I can get enthusiastic about. Too bad she’s running for Vice President.

I thought that Sarah Palin did a pretty good job in her speech last night. Before she came out I wasn’t sure if her experience in Alaska would prepare her for a moment like yesterday’s, what with the big huge crowd and all the BS that has been spinning around since the announcement of her selection. I thought she might be outwardly nervous or trip over her own feet or try and take out a reporter with an elephant gun or do something else that would be ridiculously embarrassing.

That didn’t happen, and I’m glad for that. Well, I’m glad that everything but the elephant gun thing didn’t happen. That would’ve been kind of awesome to watch.

I thought picking her was a brilliant move. The media and the Democrats (insert joke here about them being one and the same) seemed to be as surprised as I was but for a different reason. They’d never heard of her; I just figured McCain would pick some jackass no one outside of Washington gave a damn about. They immediately began with the “research” and “vetting” and other euphemisms for “bending over backwards to destroy her reputation and that of her husband and children in a vain attempt to get her to drop out of the race.” I had a feeling they’d be pretty nasty and try and paint her as some hillbilly, gun-toting Jesus freak. (I didn’t expect the party ostensibly in favor of “women’s rights” to suggest that she should stay home and raise her kids instead of work outside the home for a living, but I guess I was expecting their refusal to support the liberation of millions of women in Iraq as a one-time bout of hypocrisy.) Anyway, having seen her speak a few times on Youtube and other websites, I had a feeling that this strategy of attack wouldn’t be very effective, because she has her shit together. She reminds me of other women I’m a big fan of, like my wife, my grandmother, and others (like Big K, for example) who don’t take any crap from anybody and respond to insults with a well-placed cutting remark that makes the attacker look like a complete imbecile.

Anyway, with four or five days of the media and the Democrats (insert joke about me repeating myself here) lowering the bar of expectations for her, she came out last night and ripped Obama a new one. Between her and Giuliani, I think Barack is going to be limping around wearing some of Uncle Joe’s Depends for a few days.

This is part of the genius behind the pick. The opposition couldn’t help themselves trying to denigrate Palin’s experience. Which of course opens the door for McCain - and Fred! and Giuliani and Palin - to respond by pointing out that Obama’s experience, to put it nicely, is non-existent. Unless you count his Presidential campaign. I seem to recall Obama catching himself when discussing why Clarence Thomas wasn’t a good choice for the Supreme Court because he wasn’t exper- I mean wasn’t the kind of legal thinker blah blah blah. Obama knew that experience was his weak point and he tried desperately to pretend that argument didn’t exist. Until he and his supporters put on their blinders and jumped in with both feet.

The Democrats got played for suckers in this one and I think they know it. They’re going on and on, talking about how she isn’t qualified for the job and how she is a terrible choice for Vice President and so on. If Palin really was such a bad choice I doubt the Democrats and their friends would be so outspoken about it. Really, the Vice President is not the most vital office that will be filled in this election. A smart strategist would work overtime to ignore her if she was so bad, because you don’t interrupt your opponent when he’s making a big mistake and you certainly don’t go out of your way to tell everyone why it’s such a big mistake. You keep your damn mouth shut and hope they don’t figure it out until it’s too late. And psst! that’s why you don’t hear Republicans talking about how god-awful a pick Joe Biden was. Then again, I’m probably overestimating the intelligence of a group that has somehow managed to have a majority Congress with worse approval ratings than an unpopular president and nominate a guy who has never done anything impressive aside from write a couple of autobiographies and get elected as a Democrat in Chicago.

I hate politics. I try to stay informed on things so as to be a responsible citizen and whatnot, but really I wish that we could eradicate the earth of the political class; people who have done nothing with their lives other than run for office and be in office. I doubt it’ll ever happen, but I have hope that someday things will change for the better.

See what I did there? That was clever, if you ask me.

Anyway, barring a disaster of some kind like a revelation that Sarah Palin is actually a mole in the employ of a Czech arms dealer sent back in time to kill the leader of the resistance against an effort to convert humanity into a power source for a race of artifically intelligent machines, I’m going to vote for someone in this election and not feel like getting ridiculously drunk afterwards. And that’s a good thing.

Cross-posted on Current Events