Friday, March 16, 2012

Rick Santorum's Refusal to Focus

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum remains steadfastly dedicated to his agenda which appears increasingly socially conservative.

Most recently, he promised to nominate an attorney general that would help him to eradicate internet pornography.

Therein lies the divide in the conservative movement. Rights based conservatives have near meltdowns at the notion of government interference in the lives of individuals, even if that means accepting practices that they themselves disagree with. Santorum gives weight to the left wing notion that Republicans are closet theocrats looking to crush liberty.

Nevermind the mindnumbing list of agencies and bureaus created by Obama to reach ever more deeply into our educational, healthcare, and other major choices.

Santorum's moral agenda is, frankly, the wrong emphasis for today's Republican Party. We are at our best when defending religious freedom against Big Government. So why turn around and threaten Big Government action against what people do in the privacy of their own homes.

Is culture rotten? Maybe. But it is a free society, so who cares. People make choices. We do not have to love them, but we should respect them so long as they do no direct harm to others.

Romney, to his credit, understands that this election is about the economy. Not birth control. Not porn. The economy, period.

And that is why he is winning.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Don't Give Us a Leader. Just Give Us Competence

It is time to stop looking for a “leader.” America does not need leadership from any movement or any party, at least not leadership as we conceive it in the 21st century.

When you consider what the average American tends to expect from a president, or blame on him when things go wrong, an outsider might be forgiven if he assumed that the word “president” politically equated to “czar.” American ideas on what a president does and should not do have been driven relentlessly by the crises of the last century combined with the notion that if only we found the smartest man, we could plan well enough to avoid problems.

History proves that this just is not so.

Ancient sources of religion and wisdom argue against putting too much trust into a single earth made man alone. In I Samuel 8, God tells the Israelite judge Samuel that the people demand a king as the other nations have. They reject the idea of a limited government whose sovereign is God. God warned Samuel that the expansion of political authority would result in the seizing of property and enslavement of the people. Arbitrary power in the hands of leaders cannot end well.

Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching Chapter 17 wrote the following

The best rules are those whom the people hardly know exist

Next come rulers whom the people love and praise

After that come rulers whom the people fear

And the worst are those whom the people despise

The ruler who does not trust his people will not be trusted by his people

The best ruler stays in the background and his voice is rarely heard

When he accomplishes his task and things go well

The people declare: It was we who did it by ourselves.

Marcus Tullius Cicero watched the final days of the slow dissolving of what was once a free Roman Republic relative to his time and place. Rule of law gave way to a government led by ambitious and grasping men, such as Julius Caesar. The dictators of the late Roman Republic saw law as an obstacle to their plans, some of which were based on good intentions. However, the undermining of the basic law of the land ushered in the era of the Empire and all of its evils.

The people loved Caesar, but could never have imagined that his smashing of the law would lead to the depravity of Nero or the insanity of Caligula. Late in Cicero’s life, just before his own unnatural death, he railed against “the effrontery of Gaius Caesar, who, to gain that sovereign power which by a depraved imagination he had conceived in his fancy, trod underfoot all laws of gods and men.” He went on to write that “But the trouble about this matter is that it is in the greatest souls and in the most brilliant geniuses that we usually find ambitions for civil and military authority, for power, and for glory, springing; and therefore we must be the more heedful not to go wrong in that direction.”

While the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes argues that man’s evil can only be contained by a strong government, many other notables fear more the evil of men when they ascend to controlling a powerful government. This is why we limit power and put blocks in the way of our elected officials. America does not need a czar, a king, an Il Duce, or any other authoritarian leader, either by name, or in power alone. We work best when under the type of executive described by Lao Tzu, the type that we never notice and who engineers his policies to enable the people to act for themselves.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

And Creepiest Guy of the Year Award Goes to . . . Vladimir Putin

Everyone's known that guy. The one who always has something a little bit too weird to say around much younger women. Who thinks that they are a divine gift to all women, but are not exactly all that they think they are.

So what happens when that guy is the most powerful politician in his country?

To the lay observer, the entire Vladimir Putin ad campaign for president seemed to be based on two premises. Either he inspires young and attractive people to have sex with each other, or to have sex with him. Or at least tear their clothes off in honor of him.

This is no exaggeration. I am not making this up.

I think this is only legal in Lincoln County.

It actually gets more tasteless than the above.

Yup, this is it.

Maybe this is normal in Russia, and probably most of Europe for that matter, but to Americans this is really creepy. Basically a sixty year old bald guy is trying to perv on 19 year olds. And also control them through soft tyranny.

Imagine any American political figure running a campaign like this. These ads are more ridiculous than Saturday Night Live parodies. They also reflect Putin's utter contempt for his electorate.

After watching this, give me good old fashioned American mud slinging every time. At least they come within shouting distance of an issue every once in a while.

I'd even prefer a campaign like this:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

From Top of the World to An Ignoble Fate

In the Year of Our Lord 1801, fate claimed Benedict Arnold. He lived his life for fame, wealth, and respect, chasing those shadows of dreams across the war tossed United States. Despite victories and loyalty to the American cause, the cranky Arnold always saw others getting his accolades, such as Horatio Gates after Saratoga. Pushed by mounting expenses, his vivacious wife, and general surliness, Arnold switched sides.

In Europe, the term is Quisling. In America, Benedict Arnold has become a byword for ignominious treason. Among Republicans, Arlen Specter shines as the brightest example of outright duplicity. Between 2004, when George W. Bush absorbed a lot of criticism from conservative circles for faithfully backing him, until 2008, we are led to believe that Specter became disenchanted with the party that he joined so many years before (after election to the Senate.)

Arlen Specter saw what he thought was a clear indication of where the American voter would go for a very long time. He joined the GOP when it was fortuitous in the 1980s and rode a wave of Reagan conservatism, even though he did not quite meet the standard. When the tide seemed to start to shift in 2006 and 2008, Specter sensed that staying with the Republican Party might cost him the seat he held over two decades.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held out the honey pot for him and Specter dove right in. He abandoned the Republicans, whose cause he only barely supported anyway, with the promise of instant seniority and a chairmanship. Specter believed that the Democrats would strive to their utmost to keep him in place.

Alas, the seniority never happened. Reid allowed it to be publicly stripped from him like stripes off of a demoted soldier. When Specter counted on the support of Democratic heavyweights, such as Obama, they were nowhere to be found. Specter endured the humiliation of a primary defeat and saw his old Republican rival Pat Toomey ascend to the place he once held.

And now Specter has a book. He lays out the case for his career and exposes Democratic Party duplicity. It is certainly amazing that the Democrats humiliated Specter as they did. Certainly this won't encourage many other turncoats from the GOP.

Arnold died in 1801 a broken man. He never gained the fortune that he felt that he deserved. The British used his information and services for the extent of the Revolution, then tossed him aside. Arnold begged for a commission to fight the French in the 1790s, but none came. He earned the worst fate possible for a man of his ambition and vanity. Arnold ended up neglected, then forgotten.

As will Arlen Specter.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Energy the Driving Force Behind Areas With Recovering Housing Markets released its 25 most promising urban markets for house purchases and sales. These energetic markets relied upon just that.

(A list of the markets: )

Three of the listed markets, #3 Charleston, #8 Huntington, and #9 Wheeling, are in close proximity to centers of West Virginia's fast expanding natural gas industry. Other listed cities, such as Oklahoma City, Minot, North Dakota, Lake Charles, Louisiana lay near centers of oil drilling and production.

Interestingly enough Morgantown, West Virginia, known for low unemployment due to its major university and pharmaceutical company did not make the list.

Energy production promises to be the major force behind America's return to prosperity if it is allowed to happen. Major natural gas deposits trapped deep beneath shale layers in the earth's crust in Appalachia and Texas rival some of the larger oil pools in the Middle East. Large reserves of oil in the Midwest added to the gas make the United States potentially the largest producer of energy in the world in the 21st century. If Americans threw open the energy throttle, the lower costs would benefit U. S. manufacturing while also driving OPEC into distress.

These housing market indicators show how much positive impact even a limited increase in production can create.

The only thing standing between us and our prosperous future is overblown fears of the drilling process and Obamaite Leftists who genuinely fear American predominance in anything.