President Obama

Well, with only day left in the election, voters gravitate further and further to the Obama camp.  Even Virginia has slipped from a tossup state into the Democratic camp.  Although I see that McCain is ramping up is TV ads in the final 72 hours, it seems practically certain that he will be unable to overcome this gap.  Even Rasmussen Reports, who features McCain ads and anti-Obama ads on their website recently put Obama’s chances of victory at 85%.  If and when Obama does win, the blame game will begin.  Success, they say, has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.  Some Republicans pundits will blame conservatives such as myself for not rallying for McCain (or against Obama), but I steadfastly believe that if the Republican party nominated a true conservative rather than a liberal/moderate “maverick” we could have had a shot at winning.  It would have been tough, no doubt, with the unpopularity of President Bush, the war, and the economy, but there was still a chance of victory.  Senator McCain ignored the conservative base in favor of pandering to the liberals and the independents and we all will suffer for it tomorrow.

Nevertheless, I wonder what will come of an Obama presidency.  Government spending and taxes will increase, but what about foreign policy.  When the Republican got slammed back in 2006, the silver lining I hoped for was the end of the Iraq conflict.  After all, many Democrats, like our own Senator Webb, campaigned on the issue.  Unfortunately, we are still there in Iraq.  Ideally, I’d like to think that in an Obama administration diplomacy would replace the barrel of a gun approach favored by the Bush administration.  Will there be other changes?  You betcha.  The minimum wage will likely increase and there will be talk of a national health care system once more.  However, fellow conservatives, we must not become despondent or remain complacent.  We must shift the Republican Party toward conservatism if we want any voice or any true counterbalance to this cradle-to-grave liberalism.  Mark my words though, if we work together and promote our small-government ideals, we should be in prime position to make tangible gains in the midterm 2010 election.

Huge in Harrisonburg

Well folks, I’m guessing that the Obama rally in Harrisonburg was the largest event in recent history for the city.  According to the JMU website, the convocation center holds 7,612 and I assure you that many more thousands of people were there who didn’t make it inside.  I wish that I could show you pictures of Senator Obama, but unfortunately I was unable to get in myself.  From what I overheard, apparently you needed to arrive at least a good four hours ahead of time and, as I mentioned in my last post, I was quite unwilling to stand out in the cold for more than an hour.  To be fair, I would have tried to arrive sooner, but misinformation related to shuttle services delayed me considerably.

Nevertheless, I found numerous interesting pictures:  the scores of Obama supporters, the relatively small band of McCain supporters, vendors haggling their wares, piles of trash left scattered about by the waiting spectators, masses clustered around TV sets watching the live broadcast, and let us not forget a curious man in a suit waving a Soviet flag while shouting pro-Obama messages.  I present to you a mere sampling of the sights of the day.  If you still need more, check out YouTube or http://hbblogs.com/.

A pro-McCain rally going on nearby
A pro-McCain rally going on nearby
My first sight of the event...not a good sign
My first sight of the event...not a good sign
The line of people unable to get in continues.
The line of people unable to get in continues.
A view of the crowd in the back of the building
A view of the crowd in the back of the building
Another view of the crowd in back.
Another view of the crowd in back.

Disgraceful.  Just disgraceful.
Disgraceful. Just disgraceful.
A fairly happy band of pro-McCain students.
A fairly happy band of pro-McCain students.
Watching from the TV (1)
Watching from the TV (1)
Watching from the TV (2)
Watching from the TV (2)
Man with Soviet Flag
Man with Soviet Flag

Obama and the ‘burg

Barack Obama is coming to Harrisonburg today.  For citizens of Harrisonburg, this comes as exciting news as no presidential candidate has made a campaign stop here since Richard Nixon (at least that is what the local Democratic Party tells me).  Although most everyone in Harrisonburg knows these details by now, for those who haven’t heard, he will be speaking at the James Madison University Convocation Center at 5:15.  Doors will be opening two hours early and the building holds about 9,000.  I have been told that, like the crazed fans for Star Wars Episode I, students have been waiting in line by camping outside the event last night.  Although I hope to see the event myself, I surely will not wait even an hour in the cold.  Should the Champion of the Constitution, Congressman Ron Paul, visit Harrisonburg, I might brave the elements, but not for Senator (and likely future President) Obama.

Will you make the event?  Will you see me among the throng?  Only time will tell.  Hopefully I’ll have pictures and commentary to add.

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.

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.

Jib Jab’s “Time for Some Campaignin'”

Although you’ve likely seen it already, I want to direct your attention to the latest political short by the folks at Jib Jab called “Time for Some Campaignin’”.  If you haven’t watched it yet, or don’t remember it, I direct you to www.jibjab.com.  Once you’ve done so, I wanted to give my two cents on this amusing piece.  I can wait.

While you’re gone, I’ll be busy whistling an off key tune…

…So you’re back then?  You’ve seen it now?  Good.

The clip opens with George Bush and Dick Cheney departing the White House while lamenting their legacy of “war, recession, and bad mortgage loans”.  The question is, in twenty years or more how will historians, and, more importantly, the general public view the Presidency of George W. Bush?  Obviously right now the vast majority have a negative opinion.  Like it was said during the Clinton years, “it’s the economy stupid!”  Unfortunately in general, people will tolerate a lot of poor and unconstitutional governance assuming the economy is doing well.  Right now our economy has been rather weak and coupled with a heavily devalued dollar, there is uncertainty and underemployment.  In addition, so many people these days believe that the conflict in Iraq was a mistake.  If these factors hold steady, it will certainly spell trouble for Republicans at the ballot box in November.

Next, it moves on to John McCain, Hillary, and Barack Obama.  The Bush sound-alike calls McCain “liberally prone” which isn’t very far from the truth.  Be it the issue of illegal immigration, McCain-Feingold, or his big government environmentalism, conservatives do have a good number of complaints against McCain.  Hillary, on the other hand, is painted as a power hungry politician who will resort to just about any tactic to win.  Although she failed to win the nomination, one has to wonder how much of the dirt she found against Obama will resurface in the general election.  You should remember that Michael Dukakis’s Willie Horton was first brought to the national attention by one of his primary opponents, Al Gore.  I think it is very likely that should Obama not win, Hillary will make another stab at the presidency in 2012.  Notice the Communist-looking campaign sign she carries.

The clip then switches again to McCain portraying him as a very heavy-handed militarist.  It also suggests that he is too old to be president and that he would likely become incapacitated while in office.  This viewpoint is not uncommon, as I have heard listeners call in to radio talk shows claiming the caller will not vote for McCain due to his age.  I think that this is a very weak argument as issues should be far more important that age.  If age does indeed become a campaign issue though, McCain should redouble his efforts to find a suitable Vice President/replacement.

Then comes Barack Obama. I think it is quite funny that he is shown in a Disneyesque nature scene continually spouting the nondescript rhetoric of change. Although he says he wants change, what sort of change does he want? Certainly his kind of change would not make any kind of conservative happy. His caricature is little more than an empty suit.

The folks at Jib Jab next make a few digs at political campaigns saying that in order to get elected, politicians will “promise you anything you wanna hear”. Some citizens vote for pork and more social programs and say to hell with the costs, consequences, and the Constitution. It is also true that spending for federal elections in this country, especially for the presidency, have ballooned to astronomical levels. I think both conservatives and liberals alike can agree that so much of this gross amount of spending could be allocated to far better purposes.

Lastly, I wanted to mention Jib Jab’s plug to put you in many of their pieces. I think this is a neat idea that should cause significant additional interest. Honestly, who can say no to someone who sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger commanding you to “click it NAOUGHW!” I know that I, for one, couldn’t resist.

Overall, I think that Jib Jab has captured a humorous and telling criticism of politics in this country. I’m pleased to say that both their production values and their substance have made great strides since their 2004 Bush/Kerry episode. I may not agree with everything they offer, but they do make it entertaining to watch. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Winning the Veep-stakes

Since the conclusion of the Presidential Primary process, questions have been circulating regarding choices for Vice President. Although I personally think the idea is not very important (other than setting up someone for a future presidential run), apparently some people alter their vote based upon a running mate. Therefore, I thought I should give my $.02.

The John McCain/Republican Ticket
Many conservatives feel that John McCain is not nearly conservative enough to carry the banner. That is his greatest weakness. Be it the environment, immigration, or political free speech, they feel that something is missing there. Therefore, he should select a running mate who is seen as strong on one, or, ideally, all of these issues.

Although I have never thought of it until a few seconds ago, what about Rep. Tancredo? I know that Tancredo doesn’t really care much for McCain, but when I think of fighting illegal immigration, Tancredo towers above just about everyone. I suppose Massachusetts Mitt wouldn’t be a bad choice either (though I still believe he would have had a better chance of winning the general election than McCain). Although historically unlikely, if Romney could pull Mass into the GOP column, it would force the Dems to spend resources in one of their “safe states”. Other folks have suggested Gov. Bobby Jindal from Louisiana. Although he is, in my mind, more conservative than McCain, and far younger, the problem with him as VP is two-fold. First, and most important is the fact that he has stated he doesn’t want the position. The second is that as the northeast trends Democratic, the South trends Republican. If McCain wants a southerner in order to pick up votes in the South, it shows a serious problem for him. If he can’t win the south with minimal effort, he should pack it in now and salute the new President Barack Obama. Personally, although I know others suggest Huckabee, need I remind you that he is not a fiscal conservative, and frankly he is a scary reminder of what the GOP could become.
Bottom Line: McCain needs to reach out to wary Conservatives if he wants to win.

The Obama/Democratic Ticket
One thing that amazes me about the Obama ticket is his paper-thin experience. Back in 2000, if you recall, George Bush was lambasted for his lack of experience and gravitas. Apparently this time around experience doesn’t matter. Obviously if a long-term veteran of politics like Clinton can’t knock off Obama, experience will be a relative non-issue. Therefore I think Obama’s best bet is to pick up another newcomer and work the change angle for all its worth.

Personally, I think picking up someone like freshman Senator Jim Webb is a great idea. Granted he won his seat with the slimmest of margins, but he is portrayed as an independent voice who is always fighting for some cause or belief. If Obama is able to keep the commonwealth in play, it will force McCain to spend his capital in a state that hasn’t gone to a Democrat since 1964. Clinton, on the other hand, would be a terrible idea. She polls very high negatives and I think would likely cause Obama to lose votes. A dream ticket? Yeah, it would be…for the GOP. Biden’s too old and brings little to the table. Richardson would be ok and might help with the ever-expanding Hispanic vote.
Bottom line: If Obama makes inroads into the South he will win.

Agree or disagree? Post your thought, predictions, and recommendations here!