The Platform and the Bailout

As Brutus from the blog, “The Oath” points out in his recent post, the position taken in the 2008 Republican Party Platform directly contradicts the bailout.

Check it out.

Good to see our Republican champion John McCain adheres so closely to the Republican platform. It is absolutely crazy.

Hurrah for the Welfare State

Well folks, the bailout is now a fact of life. Rather than the nasty $700 billion version first suggested, we now have a version that is loaded with so much pork and special projects that it turns our federal government into a corporate Santa Claus. Goody. Although a majority of the house members voted against the first package, a number of congressmen were quite willing to support a revised bill that gives gifts to their districts and pet interests, at the expense of the taxpayers of course. Fortunately, some constitutionally minded members of the House were able to retain their sanity like my own Representative Bob Goodlatte, such as Ron Paul and Scott Garrett. I don’t know who are worse, members like Eric Cantor who twice blatantly disregarded the constitution in favor of corporate greed, or congressional prostitutes who only will sellout their principles for an agreed upon price. Normally I would take the opportunity to rail against the votes of liberal Virginia Republicans like Rep. Tom Davis and Sen. John Warner, but fortunately neither will misrepresent Virginia values for much longer. While I’m on the topic, how can some Republicans claim personal welfare is a terrible thing and yet ardently support corporate welfare? Welfare, in either form, is the government-sanctioned redistribution of wealth from one person or group to another. I do not believe that either is constitutional and therefore both are tantamount to “legalized” theft. Despite what some politicians say, remember that just because something is made legal, it is not necessarily moral. Although a Democrat (therefore I hold you to a different standard), please know that I am still disappointed in you Sen. Jim Webb. Didn’t you campaign as a fairly conservative Democrat? Where are those conservative principles now? Will both parties drag us kicking and screaming into a new and glorious government welfare paradise? Must all Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, be forced shout “Hurrah for the Welfare State”?

In response to the bailout bill, Congressman Goodlatte (6th-VA) responded with the following statement:

“Today the U.S. House of Representatives considered legislation, the Financial Stabilization Package, aimed at stabilizing the growing financial crisis currently facing our country. Nothing is more important to me than ensuring the future growth of our economy and we can all agree that Congress has a responsibility to act to ensure that credit, the lifeline of our economy, remains available to individuals, families, students, and small businesses all across this country.

Inaction has never been an option. However, after much deliberation, I reached the conclusion that this legislation, which I voted against, is not the solution to our long-term financial problems or our short term credit liquidity crisis. While improvements have been made to the legislation, at its core it is the same as the revised Paulson plan which the House defeated earlier this week.

The Financial Stabilization Package represents the largest corporate bailout in American history by taking 700 billion dollars of taxpayers’ hard-earned money and handing it over to the very companies that made the bad decisions which led us into this mess in the first place. We literally reward those financial institutions who engaged in risky behavior to the tune of up to $8,000 for every family of four in the U.S. Since the federal government has to get this money from somewhere, it will borrow it, increasing the national debt. Not only will the government be paying $700 billion to bailout these reckless Wall Street companies, but also the billions of dollars in interest to pay off the debt. The bill requires the federal government to evaluate and purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of complex securities. Then the government will have to manage and ultimately sell these assets in an effort to recoup the taxpayers’ money. This is a responsibility for which it has no expertise and is a major intrusion in the financial markets with untold unintended consequences. This will directly affect every American by weakening the dollar and raising the cost of goods and services.

I believe there are other ways to turn this credit crisis around and stabilize our economy without penalizing taxpayers for the sins of those on Wall Street. The fundamental problem we face today is that no one knows how much the risky mortgage-backed securities are worth, and thus no private buyers are willing to purchase them. I am supportive of alternative initiatives to mandate that financial institutions purchase insurance from the federal government on these risky assets which places the burden on financial institutions to pay premiums for the insurance. The guarantee by the federal government would help unlock the liquidity of these assets by placing a minimum value on them. This would also limit the negative effects on taxpayers.

Other proposals worthy of consideration include funding assistance through a guaranteed bond program, which would be purchased by private investors, or a guarantee initiative similar to the net worth certificate program of the 1980s. These initiatives deserved scrutiny and consideration. Each of these would involve some financial participation by those who caused the problem. None were debated or voted on in this process.

I am pleased that after much urging from many Members of Congress, including myself, the mark-to-market accounting rules, which allows all financial institutions including local banks, to fairly value their assets and help to ease the credit crisis facing the country, were eased.

Our economy faces historic and unprecedented challenges. Most importantly Congress must not view the passage of the Financial Stabilization Package as the lone solution to the troubles in our national economy. It is critical that Congress continue to examine the root cause of this crisis, including fiscal irresponsibility and a lack of resolve to rebuild our domestic economy, including energy production.

I remain committed to working with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to ensure that businesses are held accountable for their actions, which should help restore long term confidence in our financial markets and set our economy back on the right track.”

As the stock market continues to slide downward, like water circling a drain, I could not help but think of the song “Stay Together for the Kids” by Blink-182 and how appropriately it applies to not only this bailout, but also the federal government in general. As the lyrics say, they rarely find solutions, create many more problems, and are routinely generous with the possessions of others.

I’m pleased to say that there is some good news friends. Fortunately for constitutional conservatives like myself, on the issue of welfare, we are offered a clear choice for president in this election. On the one hand, we have a candidate who vigorously supports a version of the welfare state and voted for the largest corporate welfare bailout in history. On the other hand, we have…hmm…well…another candidate who vigorously supports a version of the welfare state and voted for the largest corporate welfare bailout in history.

Uh oh.

While Watching the Debate

Good evening everyone.

I’m writing this post as I watch the second presidential debate, which, as you likely know, is taking place in Nashville, TN. For those who haven’t been there, the campus of Belmont is a beautiful place and I recommend visiting it if you get the chance.

As the debate grinds on, I wanted to just share my initial impressions as they come up. These are more my raw thoughts rather than a polished discussion. Did anything particular stand out to you?

9:20 Although the debate has only been going on for about twenty minutes so far, John McCain has mentioned three times, so far, the idea of having the government buy up and renegotiate bad mortgage loans. What a terrible and unconstitutional idea. Does anyone support such a plan? Do you want to pay for this scheme?

9:25 Unlike McCain, I do not like the ideas of Lieberman, Kennedy, or Feingold.

9:27 As we all know, Obama wants socialized medicine and education. Huzzah!

9:28 An important point early in the campaign was McCain’s plan to eliminate excess government and spending. He should talk more about these issues as opposed to spending more of our money.

9:37 McCain doesn’t want tax breaks for the wealthy? Doesn’t sound like a typical Republican idea. Reaganomics anyone?

9:43 McCain going on about global warming and climate change. Although I support nuclear power as he does (though for different reasons), I worry that his environmental plans will require increased government regulation.

9:49 We need offshore oil drilling to help ease our oil troubles. McCain is right.

9:54 McCain should continue to hammer Obama on the issue of healthcare (though he should avoid jokes because too few of his are funny.)

9:56 Obama says healthcare is a right, but we all know who he thinks should pay for this “right”. Are not our rights God given? You know, stuff like liberty, free speech, free association and the like? Pretty sure healthcare doesn’t qualify as a right.

10:21 Obama thinks that we need to rebuild the economies of the former Soviet Republics? Great idea! Even if it was constitutional, I’m sure our weak economy can support it.

10:27 A league of Democracies? Thank you Woodrow Wilson! Nothing warms my heart like mortgaging our national sovereignty.

Toward the end there, I guess you notice that I didn’t make too many comments. Starting about 10:00, the main thought running through my head was, “when will this be over?” Oh well. I’m sure that we will all be waiting “eagerly” for the next one.

Checking the Bellwether Forecast

For those who have followed politics over the years, you might be familiar with the famous phrase “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” For those who are not, it is a reference to the presidential elections. Ohio is considered a bellwether state, which means that whoever wins the popular vote in Ohio will win the general election nationwide. Generally this maxim has held true. Since 1896, only twice has a candidate won Ohio but lost the election. However, since 1964, no candidate has won the presidency without capturing Ohio. Although Ohio does possess a significant number of electoral votes, 20 at the present, sheer numbers alone do not account for this trend. Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, and the massive California all outrank Ohio in population and thus electoral votes. None of these states match the consistency with which Ohio sides with the winner. Something else must be at work here. Saving that particular reasoning for another day, nevertheless, for this election, winning Ohio is not as nearly important as it has been in the past. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the winner of one state will determine this election. Which is it? Why, our very own, Virginia.

If you are like me, you scan the polls every couple of days to see how the national trends are going. As usual, most states are not battlegrounds. Unless some sort of meltdown occurs, Obama will win California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, to name a few, while McCain will win Texas and a vast majority of rest of the south. Virginia is different this time. Rasmussen Reports has had Virginia in the “toss up” column since June. But Joshua, you might say, no Democratic Presidential Candidate has won here since 1964, what makes you think Virginia can go Democratic? Consider recent trends. We’ve had two back-to-back Democrat governors now and we have one (soon to be two) Democratic Senator(s). Even the state senate has fallen. As is typical, I would expect that northern Virginia and most of the cities in the state (with the exception of Virginia Beach) will go to Obama while the counties and rural areas will go to McCain. The battle lines are clearly drawn. The real trick will be to see which side mobilizes their supporters more effectively and in greater number. Who will win Virginia? With a month still to go, I cannot say. But I can say that the McCain camp desperately needs to win Virginia as his Republican counterparts have done in the past. Although Virginia will almost certainly predict the winner, I can foresee the possibility of Obama losing Virginia and still winning the election. For McCain, however, I do not honestly believe he can win without us. I don’t believe that any other swing state can make that claim. Therefore, if you wish to know the outcome of the Presidential election, you only need to feel the pulse of our own commonwealth.

A Victory for Freedom

Yesterday, as I’m sure you heard, the House defeated the $700 billion bailout. Although the stock market suffered quite a hit, I think we will recover in time. That seems to be the trend. Some days we go up and some days we go down. Admittedly, every now and then the bumpy nature of the ride with huge rises and falls can send people scrambling to the sidelines, but, I believe as long as we trust the free market, we will continue to prosper in the long run. Unfortunately, not everyone shares this viewpoint. They wring their hands and clamor for a short-term fix. Why is it these days that whenever a problem emerges, so many people run to the federal government looking for solutions? Even more depressing is the fact that so many politicians are chomping at the bit to usurp more power at the expense of the free market, liberty, and the Constitution. Congress and the President call for more oversight of the financial markets, but then the greater question is, who reigns in the government? Do we allow this watchdog to roam free, tearing up someone else’s property and rooting around where he doesn’t belong, all in the wistful hope of financial security? As you can rarely trust the government to stay within it’s proscribed powers, the job has fallen primarily to the people themselves and too many of us have fallen down on our responsibility. As you know, I, for one, will not remain quiet. Looking over the list of members of the House of Representatives, let us see who voted correctly. For Virginia, my Congressman, Bob Goodlatte voted no. So did the 5th’s Virgil Goode, the 2nd’s Thelma Drake, the 1st’s Rob Wittman, the 4th’s Randy Forbes, and even the 3rd’s Democrat Robert Scott. In support of the unconstitutional measure were Democrats Moran and Boucher (no surprise there), but also Republicans Cantor, Wolf, and Davis. If you happen to live in 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th districts and disagree with your Congressman’s position, I strongly encourage you to hold your Congressman’s feet to the fire and call him today. For your convenience, Eric Cantor’s number is 202-225-2815, James Moran is 202-225-4376, Rick Boucher is 202-225-3861, Frank Wolf is 202-225-5136, and Tom Davis is 202-225-1492. I warn you that if we do not hold them accountable, they will try again.

We must stand strong. Sure we have financial troubles today, but the only viable solutions lie in our free economy, not a soviet style bailout. No amount of wealth is worth enslaving our future to the federal government. Think that the government is responsible with our money? Just look at the deficit and the failure of social security. As I write these closing words, I think back to a quote from Ben Franklin. Although twisted slightly, I’m sure that he would agree, “Those who give up liberty for a little temporary financial security deserve neither and will lose both.”

Fear Politics

From my experiences at the local GOP Headquarters, my suspicions about the presidential race have been confirmed once more. This election is about fear, pure and simple. I feel as if I’ve fallen into the world of Machiavelli’s The Prince. If you will recall, Machiavelli teaches that in order for a leader to be successful he needs to inspire either love or fear. Let me examine the McCain side of things. I think that we can agree that most Republicans don’t truly love McCain. They may respect him, they may like him, but very few actually love him. Now by love him, I mean that they greatly want to see McCain in office (as opposed to any other Republican) and are willing to give of their time and money to see him succeed. Therefore, he has to resort to the other path to success, fear. Now using fear in our quasi-democratic system is a good deal different than in Machiavelli’s time. Rather than a leader inspiring fear among his subjects, in our society, fear is used as a tool to demonize one’s opponent. Think about it. Have you heard more arguments in favor of John McCain or those against Barack Obama? How about when Hillary was the presumptive Democratic nominee? Do you not recall her labeled as the “most liberal” and people making the wild claim that he or she “would vote for the devil himself before they voted for Hillary Clinton”? Now that Senator Obama is the Democratic choice he is the most liberal all of a sudden. As mentioned, I heard an interesting comment recently at the Republican HQ. One person asked about my level of involvement in this race. I stated that I spent a lot of effort back in 2006, and would likely not spend much of my time this year. She said that I should get more involved because, I kid you not, “this could be last chance you have to vote.” Obviously she was implying that if Obama won, either our system of elections would be removed and replaced with a dictatorship or the United States would cease to be by 2012. This kind of fear politics is pathetic. Odds are very low that either candidate will destroy the country, although it is true, they both will likely chip away our liberties and continue to unconstitutionally expand our government. I hope that you have not given into this fear baiting.

Although I would argue that more people “love” Obama than McCain, I don’t think either have huge positives. Obama claims to represent hope and change compared to the Bush administration, but really he is an empty suit liberal. McCain tries to play himself as a conservative, but he is a moderate to liberal Republican politician who doesn’t really seem to grasp fully the proper role of government. As has been common in recent contests, they both resort to the fear tactic. Obama will surrender to the terrorists. McCain will give us a century of war. Obama is inexperienced. McCain is a career politician. Obama is worse than Hillary. McCain is four more years of Bush. Obama will kill our unborn children. McCain will take away women’s right to choose. Find the positive statements in this campaign if you can because they will be few and far between. Its not what is so great about either McCain or Obama, but rather what is so awful about his opponent and what terrible things will transpire if he gets into office. The best slogan for each campaign is “at least I’m not that guy”. If only we had decent candidates, we could avoid this year of fear.

Back in Business

Well, I’m pleased to announce that we’re up and running again. Although I lost a lot of my data with the death of my hard drive, I was able to recover a good chunk of it thanks to the fine folks at Apple. I’m sorry to say that the article I wanted to post tonight is gone, but many more will replace it.

Here we again.

Joshua

Temporarily Out of Commission

Well, my computer is dead. While using it today, Microsoft Word refused to open. After that, no programs would close without the use of force quit. Now when I turn on my computer all I get is a clicking sound and a blank screen with a flashing question mark. Those people who know something about computers tell me my hard drive is gone. So…looks like I’ll be getting a new one. Good thing it’s still until warranty. I really, really, really hope that they can save all my stored data. Until that time, however, I’ll be without my personal computer.

Updates will return when the problem is fixed or when I’m able to borrow another computer (like for this post). Thanks for sticking with me. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment on any of my writings.

Joshua

None of the Above

Well it is time for me to give my thoughts on the Presidential Race. As you know, I have been an avid supporter of Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. As you might also know, a couple of days ago Ron Paul gave a speech arguing that the public should not support either Republican John McCain nor Democrat Barack Obama. He is right (well…sort of). Conservatives, like myself, have been, at best, lukewarm about the candidacy of Senator McCain. Few, if any of us honestly believe that he is a conservative. Instead he embraces many big government solutions, which are unacceptable philosophically or constitutionally. When endorsing John McCain RPV Chairman Jeff Frederick called him a maverick. Well, guess what, Mr. Chairman? I don’t want a maverick, I don’t want a liberal, and I don’t want a moderate! I want a constitutional conservative. A number of local conservatives have recently thrown their support to McCain as a result of his choice for vice-president, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. For example, at our local city/county GOP gathering, the county chairman stated that although he knew that many of us did not care for McCain, we should vote for him in 2008 so that we can vote for Palin in 2012 or 2016. It is a sad reflection that more people are excited about Palin than McCain. I have never voted for a presidential candidate based solely upon his vice presidential choice. From what I’ve learned thus far, although I think Palin would be an acceptable conservative, John McCain is not. Also, McCain is running for president, Palin is not. The vice presidency is worth very little. Therefore, as a principled conservative, I must reject the McCain/Palin ticket. I highly recommend listening to Jack Hunter’s commentary on the subject of McCain/Palin found here.

But Joshua, you might say, John McCain is a conservative. He is solidly pro-life and is against pork barrel spending. Although both are conservative stances, those viewpoints alone do not make him a conservative. Need proof? Consider his position on illegal immigration and his support for amnesty. How about his support for big government solutions in “solving” global warming? Then there is the whole McCain/Feingold issue. Do you honestly believe that this bill does not violate the 1st Amendment? Remember that McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts and supports the death tax. He also advocates a very interventionist foreign policy. It amazes me greatly that so many so called conservatives derided Bill Clinton’s efforts to be the world policeman and nation builder but so readily embraced the exact same policies under our current Republican administration. You should expect more war and nation building under a McCain presidency. Oh goody! For these reasons and others, one can see that McCain does have conservative tendencies, but is far from a conservative.

When it comes to comparing John McCain to Obama, some conservatives argue that we should vote for John McCain because he is the lesser of two evils. If you buy this line, you must accept the fatal flaw in this line of thinking, which is that voting for McCain is still evil, just not as much. I’ll choose no evil, thank you very much. Others say that we should vote for Obama in order to teach the GOP the lesson that they cannot nominate non-conservatives and hope to win. Although I don’t want liberal Republicans, I cannot support liberal Democrats either. Liberal under either party is still liberal. Another option is to stay home and not vote, but I believe that to not vote is a failure of one’s civic duty. What’s a conservative to do?

As for myself, I plan to vote for a third party candidate. Naysayers will claim that voting third party is throwing your vote away, but it is far better to support a cause with which you agree even though it will almost certainly lose than to support a winning cause you despise. No doubt some fellow Republicans will brand me a traitor, but principles are far more important than party. After all, without principles what is the point of the party? My line of thinking is far closer to the stated goals of the Republican Party than Senator McCain’s. Besides, with two prior exceptions, I have always voted Republican. These two variations occurred when Republican candidates betrayed or forgot about their conservative constituents, the 2002 Senate Race (Warner) and the 2004 Presidential race (Bush). In both cases I did not so much vote for another candidate, but rather against the Republican one. I should mention that I did not vote for either of the two Democrats (Warner or Kerry), as I felt they were not worthy of my vote. Maybe one day I’ll find a conservative Democrat running against a liberal Republican. Like they have in some states, if they offered a “none of the above” option, it would get my support.

If you saw the interview yesterday, Ron Paul mentioned that Americans should vote for a candidate who supports four key principles. These principles are ending interventionism and militarism in foreign policy, restoring privacy in part through getting rid of the Patriot Act, eliminating the national debt, and abolishing the Federal Reserve. Therefore, he could realistically encourage voters to vote for Bob Barr (Libertarian), Chuck Baldwin (Constitution), Cynthia McKinney (Green), or Ralph Nader (Independent). Ron Paul is only partially right here. Although they all apparently endorse these principles, I could not in good conscious support either McKinney or Nader. Until and unless these two embrace the ideals of the 10th Amendment and a limited federal government, they are as unacceptable as McCain and Obama. Instead, they support proposals like reparations and national health insurance. Therefore, the true choice for conservatives is between Barr and Baldwin.

I wish that I could support the Republican ticket this year, I really do. To stand in opposition puts me at odds with a number of friends and associates. You see those McCain signs that say “country first”, but it misses the greater issue. Without putting principles first, neither country nor party holds nearly the same worth. I am a conservative first and also a Republican as long as they hold the same values that I cherish. Let us hope that the party nominates a solid conservative in 2012. When they do, I’ll be the first to sing the praises. Until that day, we must not allow ourselves to be taken for granted any longer.

That Special Time of Year

Well, the time is upon us once again. What time you might ask? True, it is football season, but also important is the official start of the election season here in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Although we have our annual booth at the fair (if you’ve never experienced it, you really should), the true start to the season begins with the opening of the city/county Republican Party Headquarters.

On Friday, after the usual gathering at the Wood Grill Buffet, we met at our new headquarters. This year, like many in the past, it is located in the same shopping center as Heavenly Ham behind the Valley Mall. It is a good location I think. Although I do enjoy the charm offered by a downtown setting, the parking and proximity to many places of business make it more accessible. Though to be honest, as long as we aren’t in the former tattoo parlor on route 11 as we were in 2006, I think we are doing pretty well.

Our own Congressman Bob Goodlatte was there to open the HQ, which was a nice touch. I wish our State Senator and Delegate could have made it too, but as for Senator Obenshain, I was told he had to attend to his attorney duties at that time. It was certainly understandable. It looks as it we will have a goodly number of people in the building at most hours of the day as one desk appeared to be set aside for an RPV staffer and the McCain campaign has sent one or two employees to work out of the location. It is a smart move I think. Certainly this area is fertile ground for likely Republican voters and John McCain would likely need strong majorities in this region to counteract northern Virginia.

But, what would this post be without pictures? Enjoy!

Front of Headquarters
Front of Headquarters

The Crowd Gathers (1)
The Crowd Gathers (1)

A View of the Crowd (2)
A View of the Crowd (2)

Making Signs
Making Signs

The very hard working Chairman, Mike Meredith
The very hard working Chairman, Mike Meredith

Our Representative, Bob Goodlatte
Our Representative, Bob Goodlatte

The Crowd Again
The Crowd Again

Back to Sign Making
Back to Sign Making