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Romney Bags the Nomination While a Better Man Drops Out

May 31, 2012

Now that Mitt Romney has locked up all the delegate votes he needs to win the GOP’s blessing as its next presidential nominee, it’s time to stand back and ponder the significance of his hard-earned victory. Here’s my informed,  rationally considered take on it (with apologies to a certain late-night animated clay celebrity from the 1970s):


There… that felt good. So why does Romney bring out the Mr. Bill in me? After all, the former Massachusetts governor is a smart, upright, capable, authoritative fellow in his own ruggedly preppie, J. Crew-ish sort of way. So what if he looks like one of those seasoned, graying-at-the-temples male models we see in sportswear catalogs?

Romney might even pass for a moderate on his better days. At least he might when he’s not pandering to his party’s wingnut base or dispensing nuggets of “one-percenter” insight like these during a borderline depression:

Corporations are people, my friend

I like being able to fire people

I’m not concerned about the very poor

My wife drives a couple of Cadillacs

I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners

I’m also unemployed

Granted, some of the above bon mots appear to be more insensitive and oafish than they were in their original context. But there’s a pattern here… a pattern of chronic insulation from the needs of America’s hurting, dispossessed, downsized and endangered middle class… not to mention the actual poor. That’s dangerous, especially during a time of seething anger, despair and potential unrest. The American Dream is failing most of us right now, and the last thing we need is a president who consorts with Donald Trump and essentially tells us to eat cake. Romney is like Thurston Howell III, the merry tycoon marooned on Gilligan’s Island, but without the old boy’s warmth and charm.

Sensitivity isn’t among Romney’s more noteworthy traits. We’re looking at a man who drove on a family trip with his dog conveniently strapped to the roof of his car (inside a crate, but still!)… who dismantled and rebuilt companies for profit as if they were made of Lego blocks, without regard for the hapless employees tossed onto the street… who, as a wild-and-crazy adolescent, forcibly snipped the long golden locks of an effeminate classmate and professes not to remember.

Can you imagine Lincoln, FDR, Eisenhower or Bush the Elder being so devoid of empathy? Even Bush the Younger would have taken better care of his dog and shed a tear for the outcast employees (though I could see him snipping a classmate’s hair in the spirit of youthful overexuberance).

Was Romney the worst of the Republican candidates this year? Of course not; his competition was, for the most part, a procession of jaw-droppingly shallow and maladroit aspirants to the American throne. But let me say this much in their favor: as right-wing Christian populists, at least the Rick Perrys, Michele Bachmanns and Herman Cains could truthfully say they represented more than one percent of the population. Romney can’t. Still, we can rest a little easier knowing that America won’t become a Middle-Eastern style theocracy anytime soon.

So was Romney the best candidate the GOP could have produced? No again. He wasn’t even the best Mormon candidate. (That honor belongs to Jon Huntsman, who apparently was too sensible and articulate to make a dent among Republican voters.)

Romney is the kind of moderate who gives moderates a bad name. He waffles, he flip-flops, he tailors his utterances to the audience whose votes he needs at the moment — even going as far as to distance himself from his own healthcare reforms as governor of Massachusetts.

In short, as Gertrude Stein once said about Oakland, California, “There’s no there there.” This purported centrist lacks a center, a core of principle and conviction beneath the slick veneer of his “whatever works” operating style.

So who might have made a better nominee than Romney? How about this one: his name is Charles “Buddy” Roemer, and you can be excused if the name doesn’t ring a bell. His resume makes him look like a Southern-fried Romney: former one-term governor of Louisiana, banking executive, Harvard degree (two of them, in fact — including the indispensable MBA).

Unlike Romney, the 68-year-old Roemer is a diminutive fellow with a grandfatherly air, a heart condition and a down-home Louisiana drawl. He’s quick and animated and lacks presidential gravitas, but he continually sounds the right notes. Put an end to partisan bickering. Do something about our convoluted tax code. Solve the student debt crisis. But mostly this: get money out of politics.

Roemer is justly furious with the sinister alliance between big money and American politicians, something few if any other candidates (including Obama) have mentioned because, hey, they need the money. In fact, Roemer refused to collect contributions of more than $100 and wouldn’t allow a “superPAC” to fund his campaign — which probably explains why he never garnered enough support to mount the stage at all those clownish GOP debates.

No friend of party machines, Roemer switched from the Democrats to the GOP a few decades ago and, when it became apparent that the Republicans wouldn’t play ball with him this past year, bolted and ran as a Reform Party candidate. But today, in the wake of Romney’s over-the-top delegate count, Roemer announced that he’s giving up the chase.

Too bad. In its time of need, America could have used a Buddy — in this case, an unconventional, outspoken, even radical moderate who’s unafraid to confront the high-placed puppeteers who pull the strings of our government.

54 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2012 6:50 pm

    As usual, your insights are powerful. Unfortunately, the alternative will be prez Obama, the OJT follower-in-chief, whose pedigree is also woefully void of contact with Americans who work for a living, and who has surrounded himself with lawyers, who are equally clueless. I agree that fixing the tax code is key. Who will do that, without increasing spending?

    • June 2, 2012 12:03 pm

      Thanks, RP. Obama has turned out to be a creature of the establishment, just like Romney. (What is it about those Harvard degrees these days? Maybe you have to sign a pledge to defend the ruling class.)

      I agree that fixing the tax code is a high priority, and it has to be made clear that everyone must contribute a fair share. For me, that includes the poor (tax them at a 1% rate if necessary, but make them contribute to the public till) as well as the rich (time to reverse the Bush tax cuts and abolish loopholes). With new revenue pouring in at both ends, we won’t have to worry as much about spending.

      • June 2, 2012 1:40 pm

        I will be happy to agree to clean up the tax code.
        To tax the poor at 1%, would require reversing the negative income tax they already enjoy.

        We need not tax the poor, we need not even tax the bottom quartile, but when nearly 50% of americans pay no income taxes we have a serious problem.

        Past that, completely ignoring all the ideological arguments, no scheme of income taxation is going to result in consequential gains of revenue.
        There is ample data to demonstrate that if we are not past the inflection point on the laffler curve, we are at the very least close enough that the miniscule increases in revenue will not come close to making up for the economic harm.

        If you really want to sustain federal government spending at greater than 18% of GDP, you are going to have to add consumption taxes.
        Europe has never been able to sustain its larger scale government solely on income taxes – no matter what the rates were.

        Nothing could be worse for the economy, or worse for the poor, than attempting to increase the tax revenue of the federal government.

        Tax the poor at 1% tax the so called rich at whatever percent you wish, repeal the Bush tax cuts (which were primarily for the middle class).

        But when the economy tanks can we please dispose of the ludicrous idea that the rate of taxation does not effect the greater economy ?

        We have far too many of these repeatedly disproven memes floating arround. How many times and how much do we have to stimulate the economy before people grasp that it does not and has never worked and that the longest economic calamities correspond with the greatest government intervention ?

        How bad do things have to get before we quit repeating the same mistakes ?

  2. Kent permalink
    June 1, 2012 11:49 am

    The tax code has always been the key. Since the beginning of the U.S. foreign bankers have been trying to control the “purse strings”. In 1913, these foreign investors finally got their wish. A Federal Reserve which is a private bank owned by mostly European shareholders and also the Government itself passing another law called “income tax”. The Government needed money to fund projects without having to continually debate where to find the money and the Federal Reserve was right their to help get the Government to spend their private money. ”

    “Money is Power”, or shall we say, “The Monopoly to Create Credit Money and charge interest is Absolute Power”. (Alex James)

    Amsel (Amschel) Bauer Mayer Rothschild, 1838:

    “Let me issue and control a Nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws”.

    I argue that eliminating the “Income tax” frees the working people and gives them the freedom to spend according to their conscience.

    Government still can set the taxes on sales. Maybe higher taxes on “luxury items” and less on the basic necessities.

    Although, I have decided that since our Government has borrowed and squandered money over time and has left the American people owing money to private Central banks here in the U.S. and at other foreign countries…..We may not ever be free from making the bankers even more rich.

    Usury is used by the noble. We are not noble…so why do we use their money system? Because we were bred into it by poor decision made back in 1913.

    Our founding fathers fought against these “bankers”. Somewhere along the way the people forgot why and now we suffer as the average “joe/jane”.

    We borrow $10k from the rich man and pay back $20k. More work for us. More profit for the rich man who then can turn around and double his investment on the working class.

    It isn’t necessary the rich working people. It is the non-working rich people.

    Unfortunately, many rich working people rub noses with the non-workers and like to become the non-working rich people. Thus forgetting the “small working” class.

    Thus, most politicians. They owe so much to the “non-working rich” or as called “wealthy”.

    • June 2, 2012 12:13 pm

      Kent: I wonder if the sticker shock induced by the higher sales tax might make the average consumer shy away from spending, even without an income tax. But it’s an intriguing idea.

      As for bankers’ stranglehold on the average American, I wonder who approved the current spread on interest rates, where we receive a fraction of 1% interest on savings accounts but have to pay up to 30% interest on credit cards? That’s usury, plain and simple.

      As for the non-working rich, they’ve been favored with a cushy tax rate on capital gains — what is it, 15%? That rate should probably be reserved for senior citizens only. But it’s complicated: most people with investments have already paid income tax on their money, so it seems unfair to impose stiff capital gains taxes. But then you have someone like Romney, who has made hundreds of millions from capital gains… where do you draw the line?

    • June 2, 2012 12:45 pm

      There is actually much that I would agree with in your remarks.

      Chrony Capitolism, or Corporatism are inherently harmful to the creation the real wealth that improves the standard of living for everyone. I would note that special interests can not bend government power to their will, when government does not have that power.

      Contrary to the progressive and apparently moderate mantra It is not seeking wealth even significant wealth that is “evil”, it is how one goes about it. Absent force or fraud, all exchanges are free,, and most free exchanges benefit both the buyer and the seller. Free people do not continue losing exchanges. The distinction between government and other freely formed groups such as corporations, is the right to use force. The problem with chrony capitolism and corporatism, is that government force is used to benefit private interests. What progressives and moderates apparently do not grasp is that regardless of how you structure government power, regardless of laws, and rules, and regulations, and agencies, and … so long as government holds power that can be leveraged to acquire wealth without creating it, some interest will figure out how to do so.

      I am not fixated on “foreign bankers”.

      I would note that there is a vast difference between the quasi private public central bankers that run the government banks that are currently intrinsic to government control of the entire western financial system, and ordinary banks that operate on deposits, and loans and investments.

      Some of our founding fathers did fight against central banks. But the first bank of the United states, essentially a predecessor of the federal reserve was created in 1791 by Alexander Hamilton.

      Further, the century preceding the establishment of the Federal Reserve was not a period of smoothly continuous economic growth.
      There were a comparable number of recessions, panics, … all strongly correlated with abysmal monetary policy on the part of the federal government. Eliminating the Federal reserve while leaving control over money in the hands of the government is likely worse than the current mess. That said the era of federal reserve control of monetary policy has been inarguably worse than what preceeded it.

      There has been no improvement in economic volatility. There have been atleast as many recessions, depressions, etc. It is generally accepted by nearly all economists – including keynessians that bad monetary policy under Hoover and FDR turned a recession into the worst depression in our history.

      Prior to the Federal Reserve the economy as a whole was mildly deflationary – this was true with only brief exceptions over more than two centuries. The purchasing power of a dollar was greater in 1900, than 1800. The purchasing power of a dollar in 2000, is 3% of what it was in 1900. Inflation is core to central monetary policy.
      Prior to the advent of the central bank economic failures cleared themselves quickly through collapsing prices – including wages.

  3. Priscilla permalink
    June 1, 2012 4:42 pm

    Some random thoughts I had while reading your essay:
    Appealing to your party’s base is a time-honored and necessary strategy for getting nominated in the first place. Romney had to be particularly attentive to this, given that he is seen by many conservatives as a centrist pragmatist. I don’t think it’s a particularly damning trait in a politician, particularly one with as moderate a track record as Romney.

    Romney never said that he liked firing employees or that he did not care about the very poor. Both of those quotes were taken out of context and had totally different meanings in context. The corporations are people thing makes perfect sense to me – if corporations are not made up of people, then what are they? Evil machines? This gotcha stuff annoys me, and it is employed with a double standard by the press. Obama has said many stupid and insenstive things….um, “Polish Death Camps” anyone?

    You’d probably get an argument on FDR’s sensitivity and empathy from the 110,000 Japanese-Americans forced to sell all of their property and possessions and spend years imprisoned in remote internment camps by his executive order.

    The Romney-supporting sisters of the now deceased haircut guy say that they never heard of the much ballyhooed bullying incident from him and that, even if true, their brother would be upset at the way this story is being spun for political purposes.

    Since Seamus, the roof-riding dog, lived to a ripe old age, and suffered no apparent effects from his trips, I fail to grasp the outrageous outrage on this one.

    Romney may, in fact, be a “whatever works” kind of guy. But he’s shown himself to be pretty good at getting things to work. Obama, not so much.

    And Roemer does seem to be a pretty nice guy, and has a compelling plan to fight corruption in our political system. Good for him. But what else do we even know about him? And, one does, after all, have to get nominated before becoming president. Even if we agree to the premise that he’s a very smart guy with two Harvard degrees (just like Mitt Romney), we also have to question why he has been unable to secure even the Americans Elect nomination. “Whatever works” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but “Can’t get anything to work” isn’t so good either…..

    In any case, thanks once more for a really well-written and thought-provoking piece. I may disagree with a lot of what you write, but you always make me think about things that I might not otherwise have even considered.

    • June 2, 2012 12:27 pm

      Priscilla: Ha, nobody can sneak anything past you! Good quibbles here… Yes, a candidate has to do a certain amount of pandering to win the party’s nomination, especially a moderate Republican during a stretch of time when his party has gone far right.

      I admitted that the Romney quotes were taken out of context, but they’re not totally out of character with his world-view. Obama’s gaffe was a simple matter of wording: he should have said “death camps in Poland” rather than “Polish death camps.” It’s like when they write about the “Armenian atrocities”: it almost sounds as if they were perpetrated BY the Armenians instead of UPON the Armenians.

      And yes, you found a ripe example of FDR’s not-so-empathetic side… I won’t make excuses for the internments, though, given the nation’s rage at everything Japanese during WWII, I can understand why they went to extreme measures to defend the West Coast. (I think FDR also turned back a few shiploads of Jews trying to escape from Europe.)

      As for Buddy Roemer… probably not a natural choice for president — too many quirks and liabilities — but I think he had the best ideas of anyone out there (including Obama).

      And thanks for the kind words… you keep me honest, and I always enjoy our civilized debates.

      • June 2, 2012 1:20 pm

        The Polish Death camp comment was just a stupid mistake – though it is part of a long line of stupidity on Poland.

        “And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” Obama.

        This remark is more in line with Obama’s actual thoughts.
        As are his responses to Joe the Plumber, and the aloof eratic, political and ideological way he has government

        FDR not only turned back jews trying to escape europe, but created laws to prevent their escape,. He was aware of the death camps long before the rest of the public and failed to do things that were inside his power.
        Over Churchills pleas he refused to provide assistance that would have been relatively easy during either the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto Uprising in 1943, or the Warsaw uprising of 1944. Poland fell behind the iron curtain after the war because of policies of FDR during and Truman after the war, that were vigorously opposed by Churchill.

        I am highly ambivalent about FDR. It is nearly unquestionable that he was instrumental in preparing the US for War. At the very least far more people would have died otherwise.
        At the same time, he was one of the most rascist presidents.
        There is significant evidence that the japanese internment lists were prepared before Pearl Harbor. Americans of german descent were not intered – despite similar sentiment, and actual pro-german political activity on their part.

        Like the current president FDR was not as ideological as he has been portrayed. Like the current president, his policies were inconsistent, the concept of a government of laws was replaced by that of government by every changing policies, and the results were economically disastrous.

    • June 2, 2012 12:47 pm

      While the campaign claimed Seamus lived to old age, several of Romney’s children have claimed – no one knows. Seamus ran away when they got to canada and no one has seen him since.

  4. June 2, 2012 9:47 am

    Romney – like our current president believes in the core of his being that government is the answer, rather than the problem. Though I have no doubt he would make a far better president than our current one, I will still likely vote against him, as continuing in the wrong direction more slowly will atbest postpone confronting the problems we face, and likely allow them to become much worse before we have to deal with them.

    • June 2, 2012 12:30 pm

      Dave: I get it, I really do. You’d vote for Obama not to spite the country, but to bring things to a head sooner. It’s an interesting and (I think) valid way to vote when you don’t like either choice. (I’ll get around to your other comments later… my son and I are taking off for the shore.)

      • June 2, 2012 1:00 pm

        My likely choice to vote against Romney, does not alter my view that many of your arguments against Romney are in error.

        I am more concerned with confronting those arguments and addressing why they are wrong, that in who you chose to vote for.

        Far more important than which candidate is elected president, or which party controls congress, is protecting those voices crying “turn back oh man, foreswear thy foolish ways”.

      • June 2, 2012 1:01 pm

        Enjoy the shore – what area do you go to ?

      • June 9, 2012 5:50 pm

        Sorry, Dave… I never answered your question. Our Jersey Shore destination of choice these days is Cape May/Cape May Point. For amusements I like Ocean City and Seaside Heights, both of which remind me of Asbury Park in its heyday. (Asbury was our favorite shore destination when I was growing up.)

  5. June 2, 2012 10:20 am

    Through March 31, the eight leading super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates received contributions totaling $96,410,614. Of this, $83,220,167 (86.32 percent) came from individuals, only $13,190,447 (13.68 percent) from corporations, and only 0.81 percent from public companies.

    Myriads of corporations have have shareholders initiatives prohibiting those corporations from engaging in political advocacy. As in the past these have all failed.

    Like it or not, corporations are nothing more than groups of people.

    Whatever rights we hold as individuals do not vaporize when we gather in groups.
    Democratic government is no more than the corporate governance of the people by the people.

    If you can restrict the human rights of General Motors, then you can restrict those of the AFLCIO, or The Lutheran Church.

    Our natural rights held by each of us as individuals, do not cease when we voluntarily act in groups.

    Proctor & Gamble alone spent almost $3B last year to influence your choice of shampoos and laundry detergents. Contra a prior claim here – there was not a single negative add among them.

    It is likely that total spending by all parties on the entire presidential election will be slightly more than 1/3 what P&G spent to influence your choice of toothpaste.

    “The concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment.”
    Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976) – This was a per curium opinion so we do not know that votes of individual justices, only that there was little dissent and that this court included Brennan, Marshal, White, Stewart, Blackmum, Stevens, Rhenquist, Burger, Powell. While we do not know either the size or makeup of the majority, the only disents were by White – who argued deference to congress and Burger who argued the majority decision did not go far enough. This was not a conservative court.
    What distinguishes the court on 1976 from that of today, is the liberal members of the court at that time grasped that government power and the rights of the individual were at odds.

    It is Ricks dangerously mistaken belief that government powers taken at the expense of the freedom of anyone are somehow beneficial. If any good ever comes from theft and destruction, it is purely by accident.

  6. June 2, 2012 11:00 am

    Rick addresses an interesting question. What are the important qualities we need in a president ?

    How important is it that they are an articulate speaker ?

    How important is it that they are Sensitive ?

    How important is it that they empathize with the problems of “ordinary americans”

    How important is it that they have worked for a living ?

    How important is it that they have Business experience ?

    How important is it that they have advanced degrees ?

    How important are any of the other myriads of skills typically used to qualify presidential candidates.

    Many of our presidents From Lincoln through FDR, JFK and Reagan were elected primarily because of their ability to “connect” with voters.
    Those qualities are critically important to getting elected, but have no relation at all to ones ability to govern.

    It is likely we might disagree regarding those specific values necessary to govern well. But I would hope that we could agree that what matters is results.

    That the president who makes all of us wealthier and happier, is the better president.

    All our pet issues, are ultimately about that.
    Libertarians, Liberals, conservatives, moderates, whatever, win or lose the ideological debate based on results.

    The current president has not failed, because he is inarticulate, unlikable, divisive, …..
    In fact he has many positive qualities that conventional wisdom claims are essential to a good president. He inherited a weak economy – but he is far from the first president to do so. But he has presided over the longest recession since the great depression, possibly the longest recession in US history.

    It is increasingly hard to argue that our current circumstances are despite, rather than because of his choices. Reagan inherited a far worse economy and was reelected in a landslide.

    We have alot of history that if we read more than superficially, provides us with excellent guidance as to what works and what does not.

    Little more than a lifetime ago, the candidates from each party at all levels were chosen by powerful and usually corrupt political interests in smoke filled rooms. Whatever Rick may believe about corporate political spending, he – we have far more influence on the political process today, than at any time in the past.

    The president is claiming that he has been far more conservative as president than Herbert Hoover – and he is absolutely right. But most on the left and the right accept the fallacious meme that Hoover was a fiscal conservative laissez fairre advocate rather than the spendthrift that FDR accused of being a socialist.

    Paul Krugman is correct that we had not post WWII recession, and the economy boomed from the late forties through the early 60’s. But this period started with slashing government spending 60% and slashing income taxes on the wealthy by 40%.

    I have little trouble accepting that liberals are so attached to their values that they can not see how badly they have worked in the real world.

    What I do not grasp is the extent to which the so called moderates here, are deceived by argument that conflicts both with the reality they have experienced, and the information that is increasingly readily available to us.

    I recently read a report by a Swedish economist providing data showing that the private economy in Sweden has not grown since the end of World War II. If true that is an incredible indictment. Even if false, the fact that it is even plausible should be damning.

  7. June 2, 2012 9:24 pm

    It has always been legal for individuals to spend their own money to advance whatever political message they wished. Political speech has by far the greatest constitutional protection.

    The regulation of campaign contributions and political advocacy is fairly recent.
    A large portion of the restrictions on political spending are tied (because that is the only way they would be constitutional) public financing. Basically a candidate can agree not to accept certain types of donations in return for public funding. Starting with Barback Obama in 2008 most Presidential candidates have chose NOT to avail themselves of public financing in order to collect more money privately.

    It is highly unlikely that the Supreme court would ever permit the restrictions they allow on publicly financed campaigns on campaigns that are privately financed.

    Contrary the the progressive meme, the central question in Citizens united, was not whether corporations have constitutional rights. That was decided early in the 19th century in order to hold corporations accountable. Regardless, how exactly do you propose to distinguish between the rights of an individual and the rights of many individuals in a group ? And further how do you expect any restrictions to survive the right to free association ?

    The central issue was that McCain Feingold – which was essentially an expansion of public campaign finance laws, prohibited third party political speech close to the time of the election.

    Citizens United was not a business corporation, they were a hollywood group advocating against Hillary Clinton. And they were barred from airing an “documentary” they produced. The only way in which the case had anything to do with money, is as about as clear a demonstration that money is speech as you can get.

    CU would have been prevented from running their “documentary” had they produced it for free and found a way to broadcast it for free.

    At the same time I would hope that you can grasp that if you can craft laws that say you can speak all you want, but since money is required to produce commercial and documentaries, an to buy TV air time to express your views, that regulating how you can spend money related to communicating a message is regulating speach.

    PAC’s, Super PAC’s, 501C’s ….. are all the consequences of various campaign laws.
    They did not suddenly emerge as new ways to violate age old laws. They came about because laws that would have otherwise been clearly unconstitutional had to make some provisions to allow political speach.

    I would actually think that Progressives and Moderates would favor these organizations.
    Essentially they created them.

    In the past donations large and small went to candidates and parties to do with as they pleased. Senator Byrd as an example, built up an enormous political warchest, and on retirement, that money becames his personally. Today that can not happen.
    It is constitutionally easier to regulate what candidates can do with contributions than it is to regulate what contributors can do – whihc is also part of why we have PAC’s and super PAC’s. and ….

    If Bill gates chose to spend $1B to praise “Buddy” Roemer there is little that Roemer could do about it. Increasingly – because of campaign finance laws, PACs and Supper PACs are completely independent of candidates They are barred by law from coordinating. Niether Romney nor Obama can privately communicate their desires to Super PACs that support them – they are free to speak publicly, and the PACs are free to ignore their candidates.

    The real result of this is that candidates and political parties have far less control than they ever had of elections.

    Even if you somehow managed to “outlaw” SuperPACs. There is absolutely nothing that you can constitutionally do to prevent a person from spending their own money to advance the political message of their choosing.

    Any law that was deemed constitutional that allowed telling George Sorros that he can not spend his own money to communcate the political message of his choice – would allow the same government to shut down The New Moderate.

    you spend money to buy web hosting and a domain name, and you invest your personal time and effort into that – and that has value. If you can tell one person what they can do with their money, you can tell another.

    If Sorros is allowed to get out whatever message he wishes as a private individual, why cant he create a corporation that he entirely owns to espouse the same message ?
    Why can’t he pool his money with several like minded individuals to communicate the same message ?

    Personally, I see the emergence of PAC’s and SuperPACs and unregulated political speech as a very good thing.

    Candidates and parties have far less control of political speech.

    There is a larger tend towards negative adds – though even that is a matter of viewpoint.
    Are adds by “ProChoice” groups, positive adds advocating Choice or negative adds advocating against any rights for fetuses – this analogy works exactly the sam efor prolife groups. I am just point out that what is pro for one group is pretty much anti for the opposition. Focus on the Family thinks they are pro-family. GLAAD thinks they are anti-gay.

    Regardless, these independent groups are …. “independent”.
    Romney and Obama would probably prefer total control of “the message”
    but they have far less control in the past over political speech during a campaign.

    If I chose to do so, i could personally produce and air political content claiming high-speed rail was an expensive boondoggle. I need not mention any candidate. It is the issue I care about and it is my message. Rather than giving my money to Obama or Romney and having them use it to advance a message i may disagree with, I have greater opportunities today to say exactly what I want regardless of the wishes of either candidate.

    Once upon a time libertarians and progressives stood should to shoulder arguing that the remedy to undesirable speech was more speech.Twentieth century liberals and progressives were instrumental in broadening to near absolute our right to free speech.
    It is very strange that the desire to regulate campaign finance and political speech has put them at odds with more than a century of constitutional speech precidents that they created. While conservatives and libertarians are now arguing for free speech.

    Near v. minnesota,
    Brandemnburg v. Ohio
    Tinker v. Des Moines
    Cohen v. California
    NYT v. United States (Pentagon papers)
    Hustler v. Falwell
    Texas v. Johnson
    Smith v. Collins(skokie)
    Cort v. Ash
    First National Bank v. Bellotti
    Brown v. Socialist workers

    • June 2, 2012 9:27 pm

      Correction – for a brief period of time in some states it was not legal for individuals to spend large amounts of their own money on themselves.

      Prior to McCain-Feingold there were few if any restrictions on political speech wither by corporations or individuals not directly related to a candidate, nor time and place restrictions.

    • June 8, 2012 2:25 pm

      I find most of your comments informative and logical. I disagree with the position that you hold with many others, that money, free speech, money and electability are all conflatable. Early on, candidates for public office are judged worthy, or not, based on how much money they can raise. During the never ending campaign, the amount of “free” speech they can utilize to promote themselves is dependent on money. If elected, they are beholden to many interests that funded them, in making decisions that affect all of us. Raising money for the next election never ends, ties the politician to the interests that support him or her financially, and decreases focus on proper lawmaking. Any effort to introduce guidelines that would limit the length or expense of political campaigns is shouted down by those who benefit by the current state of affairs, as an affront to freedom of speech. Is it any wonder that we are saddled for the foreseeable future with the best politicians money can buy?

  8. Priscilla permalink
    June 6, 2012 8:52 am

    I have never condemned FDR for the internment camps. No less a conservative firebrand as Michele Malkin wrote a defense of Roosevelt’s decision, based on the facts and attitudes as they existed in the 1940’s. She argued that our refusal to engage in any sort of racial profiling today, purely for PC reasons is foolish.

    I also accept that Obama’s use of the term “Polish death camps” was merely unfortunate,and not at all an intended slur on Poland. And I have been consumed with anxiety while riding behind cars with dogs that have their heads stuck completely out the windows,worried that a passing truck could decapitate the poor animals( I once rode for several miles on a highway behind a pick-up truck carrying 2 Labradors, riding unsecured in the back – happy as they could be, but at all times vulnerable to a disastrous quick stop! And, I made some pretty awful choices as a high school teenager, some of which I probably don’t even remember today.

    I guess my point is that, although I consider good character to be a key quality in a president, I think that that good character – as well as good judgment – is developed over time and with experience. Clearly, the fact that the Constitution set an age requirement for the presidency is an acknowledgement of that reality. I don’t know enough about Buddy Roemer to know how his experiences have shaped his character and judgment, but I have always been uncomfortable with Obama’s background as someone who never had any job outside of academia or politics and never, seemingly struggled with questions of right and left. He many well be a good man, but his ideology seems, to me anyway, to be shallow and inflexible.

    • June 6, 2012 7:53 pm

      Despite what some may think the core values of conservatives, libertarians and liberals are distinct.

      The disconnect between liberals and libertarians is rarely over ideals – though what constitutes liberalism is getting far blurrier than it used to be (are liberals anti-war or just against war, when republicans are president ?), The primary fault of liberals is with their means.

      For the most part I could careless about income inequality. As long as everyone is doing better, and they inarguably are, what does it matter if someone else is doing much better.
      But if I were somehow persuaded that income inequality were a serious problem. Theft is an unacceptable solution.

      That a conservative supports the Japanese internment camps is entirely believable.
      Few conservatives truly value limited government or individual rights.

      But libertarians, liberals, and even moderates tend to be distrusting when conservatives argue for government power. Nearly the only voice heard when liberals seek and abuse power is that of libertarians.

      The meme that Obama is socialist is often refuted with the argument that in so many ways his policies mirror Bushes – which they do. but what does that prove. Stalin was a socialist, Hitler was a socialist. Authoritarianism appears in both conservative and liberal garb.

    • June 6, 2012 8:10 pm

      Racial profiling is just new PC lingo attempting to vilify rational discrimination.

      Like it or not we all discriminate, all the time for myriads of reasons, good and bad.
      We can not run society without doing so.

      Even much discrimination that can not be justified rationally still must occur. Inevitably we are forced to make some decisions with myriads of choices and no rational criteria for chosing.

      You may be discriminated against on any given day, because of the color of the shirt you wore, the typeface you chose, the weather, or your race, creed, age, sex, …. You may not know it, the person making the judgements may not know why.

      Just as some permissible and inevitable discrimination is irrational, some rational discrimination is for reasons we are uncomfortable with.

      Old people, women, christians, jews, asians are far far less likely to be terrorists.
      It is perfectly rational for each of us, and for law enforcement to focus its attention where the probabilities of illicit activity are greatest. What is not permissible is government infringing on those real but limited rights that we all have justified ONLY on the basis of rational discrimination.

      • June 6, 2012 8:39 pm

        The problem with FDR’s internment of Japanese americans during WWII was not that Japanese americans should not be subject to heightned suspicion, It is far more likely that spies and sabateurs serving Japan would either be or be aided by Japanese americans. Rationaly heightened suspicion does not justify compelling someone to surrender their rights.
        It is indistinguishable from locking up all muslim americans because islamic terrorist are far more likely to be muslim, or locking up all black male teens because they are far more likely to be drug dealers.
        At the same time subjecting young males of mediteranian appearance at airports, or young black males in poor neighborhoods driving mercedes and BMWs to heighten scrutiny is racial profiling and it is reasonable.

  9. Pat Riot permalink
    June 6, 2012 10:07 pm

    hahaha Romney surely shares character traits with Thurston Howell III. Did you see someone else had made the comparison, or did you mine that nugget yourself, Rick? Romney’s bone structure and general physique actually look a bit more like “the Professor,” but a caricature of Romney”s personality/background could be a Thurston, by jove!

    When the other “regular” shipwrecked folks on Gilligan’s Island were trying to figure a way off the island, Thurston would come up with the “exclusive country club idea” that was highly impractical. That’s a big part of the public’s fear and dislike of Romney–that, like Thurston, he will just not be able to relate to us “regulars” and our needs. When Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat cake,” she wasn’t being sarcastic. She was so insulated within her own reality that she actually thought the peasants could just eat cake if they were out of bread. Not to difficult to imagine present-day Antoinettes in dark suits saying,”well if they lose their pensions they’ll just have to transfer funds from their other accounts…”

    What traits should a president have? I wish we’d all grow up as a species and stop looking for illusions of perfection and realize every one of us, presidential candidates included, is imperfect and flawed. We’ve already looked beyond skin color. Now we have to learn to look beyond other physical traits and select a true leader for the “common good.” As important as the office of POTUS is, I’m sure glad there’s more involved in America’s future than the careful posers paraded in front of us during this period of our evolution.

    • June 7, 2012 10:26 am

      “Let them Eat Cake”

      The French passed a law fixing the price of bread too low. The result was a bread shortage, because bakers quit making bread.
      “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” – which translates better into let them eat the better bread,
      was probably not said by Marie Antoinette, and really meant the bakers should then be forced to sell the expensive bread at government price. A stupid response to a stupid statist government created problem.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        June 9, 2012 3:14 pm

        Interesting about the “better bread” and the price regulating in France, circa 1790s. I should have known better than to rely on what I’d been taught in high school about Marie Antoinette. I would then want to say “well regardless of the exact wording, she was insulated from the peasants and they cut off her head for it,” but what do I really know of this woman’s thinking and how much the charges were “trumped up,” /exaggerated?

  10. June 7, 2012 1:03 pm

    I am puzzled by you animosity towards Romney.
    Off all the credible Republican candidates, I would think Romney would appeal the most to moderates as you seem to define them.
    So Romney isn’t Buddy Roemer or Huntsman. There are certainly democratic choices that are arguably more moderate than Obama – arent’t there ? If you really view Obama as the near perfect candidate, then how do you honestly label yourself moderate ? And if not why are you so focused on Republicans.

    My problems with Romney are that he will disempower the very people you rail against. Norquist, Paul Ryan, Ron Paul, ….

    I grasp that from your perspective Romney is not perfect – but unless I mis-perceive your views – neither is Obama.

    Romney absolutely loses to Obama on the “wearing your heart on your sleeve” test.
    At the same time, in terms of actually having done something for others, Romney has done more actual charitable work, and contributed more – both in absolute terms, and relative to his income, than not only Obama, but all other presidential candidates combined.

    Romney has successfully governed a deep blue state. There is ample evidence that he is the epitmomy of the compromisor in chief that you claim to desire. Obama failed to lead his own party for the two years democrats had absolute power, And there is ample evidence that he failed to reach compromises that were possible and were moderate when he was forced to work with Republicans.

    I think Obama is a nice guy. I think Romney is a nice guy. Often both say the right things.

    But President of the United States is about much more than oratory, and empathy.

    Romney is the moderate statist good government advocate that should appeal to moderates as you define them.

    I got that he is not perfect. But I can articulate my opposition to him in a way consistent with my values. I am having a very hard time understanding your opposition.

    I grasp that he is not your dream candidate – but that is not the question.

    Ameica Elects seems to have fizzled, and even if there Ron Paul has almost as many supporters as the remaining 5 lead candidates combined.

    The choice we are going to get is between Obama and Romney. Not Huntsman, Not Roemer.

    Further we have two candidates with real records to contrast against what they say.

    My reasons for opposing Romney should be your reasons for supporting him.
    Romney as president will succeed well enough to preserve most of the failed statism that you seem to love for a decade or so. Obama with a democratic congress (which is just not going to happen), will bring failure about more rapidly.
    I do not think anyone questions that he cares about the plight of the less well off. but he has failed them, and all of us. Obama with the more republican congress he is likely to get will either result in the gridlock that I value, or he will be forced into real compromise with congressional republicans.

    I understand that Romney is not your ideal candidate, but are you actually trying to argue that Obama better represents moderate values ?

    In the real world which one is more likely to result in the country being better off by whatever measure you think matters in two or 4 years ?

    I am not interested in an argument that Obama “feels the pain” of ordinary americans better, or shares your views on some policy matter like campaign finance reform that regardless of what he may say he clearly has no intention of doing anything about.

  11. valdobiade permalink
    June 7, 2012 2:32 pm

    Romney will be president, it’s in the Mormon prophecies. Joseph Smith believed that the US Constitution was written by the inspiration of God and that the Mormon religion would save it –

    “A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America, such as has never been seen before; for the land will be left without a Supreme Government, and every specie of wickedness will be practiced rampantly in the land.”

    The prophecy further predicts that the United States Constitution will one day “hang like a thread” and will be saved “by the efforts of the White Man”

    • valdobiade permalink
      June 7, 2012 7:02 pm

      I wrote about religion in politics because, at it seems, republicans are chosen by god. We are a secular nation when a democrat is president and a christian state when a republican president is chosen. Here’s another example (2 November 2003):

      Bush said to James Robinson: ‘I feel like God wants me to run for President. I can’t explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen… I know it won’t be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it.’

      • June 7, 2012 8:16 pm

        You may find the “religiosity” of the right more annoying, but nearly every leader and nearly every nation claims god as their own.

        Even the most atheistic progressive is smug in the certainty of the moral superiority of their non-belief.

        Barack Obama has made a small fortune on two biographies written before he was elected president strongly suggesting that he is destined for greatness. His rhetoric invokes god as frequently as Bush’s.

        I am not sure it is possible to be a politician without believing that you are somehow better than everyone else.

        I am certain that my “faith” in my values, annoys many of you. I know I find the faith that many of you place in premises that are irrational, illogical and at the least dubious annoys me.

        I am far more concerned about those who would impose their values on me by force. That is the root of my antithapy towards Santorum. But it is intrinsic to progressiveness.

  12. valdobiade permalink
    June 8, 2012 3:52 pm

    asmith wrote: “Even the most atheistic progressive is smug in the certainty of the moral superiority of their non-belief.”

    What are you ranting about?
    What US politician ever expressed “superiority of their non-belief”?

    The political belief “I am better than anyone else” has nothing to do with religion.
    However, a politician saying “I am better than anyone else” because god “called” me, shows imposing of religion in political affairs.

    • June 9, 2012 12:07 am

      I said progressive not politician. Regardless, you have an extremely narrow view of religion. I suspect Budhism would not qualify as a religion by your standards.

      I have found that those holding irrational beliefs, whether about AGW, the bible, fracking, recycling, or corporate political contributions are fundimentally indistinguishable.
      They are all holy than thou. Absolutely certain of generally easily disprovable beleifs.

      People have many different religions. Even rational values can be irrationally expanded into religion.

      “We do what we do because God is with us.”
      Barack Obama.

      While possibly more articulate and maybe more appealing to you personally, Obama’s quote is indistinguishable from Bush’s.

      Each of us – even the atheist takes our religious values into most everything we do.

      I have no clue what “imposing of religion in political affairs” or atleast how to distinguish two politicians based on that value.

      Progressives bring what they believe into politics – atleast we all hope so, because it would be an even worse crime if they were imposing this stupidity on the rest of us without believing in it.

      Rick is constantly arguing that political money is so caustic it separates politicians from their beleifs.

      So which is it ? Is the right trying to impose what it truly beleives on the rest of us ?
      or are they godless shills for big corporations ?

      I do not doubt the sincerity of Rick Santorum’s beliefs – any more than I doubt the sincerity of Bernie Sanders – yet both are wrong. And given a choice I would prefer a corporate shill to either.

      It is not that someone believes in something that matters. Most every poster here believes strongly in something. What is relevant is the rationality of that belief, and I find the political left less rational than christian evangelicals.

      • valdobiade permalink
        June 12, 2012 1:42 pm

        asmith, it’s a total nonsense you’re doing by mixing “strongly believe” with religion. A politician, a progressive politician, a progressive… whatever you’d like to label, categorize, then “discern”, always have strong beliefs that they can accomplish something if elected in political arena.

        Yes, Obama used the old American cliche “God”, “Christianism” and other religious facade to win religious electorate, as Republicans are doing. I am not commending him for that, nor any other US president for using this electoral trick.

        However, when a US president is mixing “god” with his/her political endeavors, it has nothing to do some kind of supernatural being helping the US, it is just to play on the most Americans gullibility that a president with “god attractiveness” is better than a strong believer president in a better America, but without religion.

        All American presidents played the “god” card to be sure that they get the vote from religious electorate, but by doing so they impose religion on non-religious people.

        I know Obama said “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion” which made him look against religion, but also he said what you’ve quoted, that god… blah, blah.

        I would like that all politicians keep religion apart from politics, and not use religion or “against religion” to propel their political aspirations.

  13. June 12, 2012 6:11 pm


    I am glad you have the ability to discern the difference between what you see as the political diesm of Obama and the religious fundamentalism of Bush.

    I personally make no distinction. If you seek to forceably impose your beliefs on others whatever merit those beliefs may or may not have – you are wrong, and you are evil.

    I would be happy to see politics divorced from religion – but that is not going to happen.
    I would also characterize anything that is founded on faith rather than evidence as religion.

    I am not opposed to religion, but I support the separation of state from all religion.
    Government should be limited to actions that do not require faith.

    Prohibiting government from acting solely on the belief that its actions would produce the desired outcome would be as effective at limiting government as any more philosophical basis I have offered.

    Even permitting government to act initially on faith, but terminating any programs that could not produce positive results – beyond employment for bureaucrats, would alone radically reduce the scale of government.

    I can not understand why even liberals much less moderates would oppose terminating government programs that could not demonstrate net positive results.

    • valdobiade permalink
      June 13, 2012 12:34 pm

      asmith wrote; “I am glad you have the ability to discern the difference between what you see as the political diesm of Obama and the religious fundamentalism of Bush.”
      What is supposed to be a “difference”? Both used religion as political tactics. If there is demand for religion, then there will be always political opportunists to throw “god” on the table. You did not understand that i said “there is no difference” between using “god” to win some part of electorate. Obama, by his “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion”, just won the other part of the electorate… that’s all the “difference”.

      asmith wrote: “I can not understand why even liberals much less moderates would oppose terminating government programs that could not demonstrate net positive results.”
      And these programs are ? I’ve never heard of “employment for bureaucrats” program.
      What is your definition of “net positive results”?
      Or are you just throwing meaningless and misleading ideas?

      asmith wrote:” Government should be limited to actions that do not require faith.”
      Faith is confidence in a person or action. You are unable to discern between “faith” and “religious faith”.
      Even atheist have faith in a person or action to be taken, without implying religion. You’re the one mixing what you don’t understand. Having faith in politics is risky, but having religious faith is stupid and is proselytism.

  14. June 12, 2012 6:17 pm

    One liberal interest group at odds with another.

    Hayek noted more than 50 years ago, that it was inevitable that central planning would result in impossible choices between closely related interests.
    Put differently, there is no such thing as fairness, and efforts to build a framework premised on the primacy of fairness must result in unfair outcomes.

  15. Priscilla permalink
    June 13, 2012 2:01 pm

    i don’t know, valdo. i am not a religious person, but i think that calling religious faith stupid is going a bit far…….

    • valdobiade permalink
      June 13, 2012 7:49 pm

      “Stupid” as in using it for political gain, to get the religious faith to vote for a politician.

      It was in this context: “Having faith in politics is risky, but having religious faith is stupid and is proselytism.”

      …having religious faith [as political means]…

      • valdobiade permalink
        June 13, 2012 7:54 pm

        BTW, I heard a lot of Christian calling Muslim as “stupid religious faith”.
        I did not invent the term “stupid religious faith”, I just used it in context of politics.
        Even political faith can be stupid, why are you uncomfortable calling religious faith stupid? I did not mention a specific religious faith, nor a specific political faith.

  16. June 14, 2012 8:28 pm


    There is no special connection between stupidity and religion – or politics.
    Most of us use whatever we can for personal gain. We dress well for interviews, we carefully spin our resumes. Businesses try to show their product in the way most appealing to customers, and politicians do the same. So long as these representations are not false there is nothing wrong with them.

    Obama, Bush, Romney’s use of religion provides a window into who they are.
    That is a good thing. You clearly were turned off by Bush’s religious allusions.
    He made no secret about his views or their importance prior to his election. We didn’t buy a pig in a poke there. All I can see that you have to be upset about is that a majority of voters did not share your views. I do not think that Obama made much of a secret about who he was prior to the election either. We got what we paid for. Nor do I really think a Pres. Romney will prove to be any great surprise either. Nearly a Billion dollars was spent on the 2008 Presidential election. Yet contrary to Rick’s money rant, the determining factors in the election had nothing to do with money. I would be hard pressed to think of an election that hinged solely on money.

    I can seem to grasp your position on “faith” sometimes it is “religious faith” that upsets you, other times it is all faith, and then you seem to see faith as a good thing.
    Regardless, you contradict yourself. If you figure out what you believe about faith who knows I might agree.

    As to justifying government programs – pick one. Whatever one you wish. Some fail worse than others. But few if any cost less than three times what they were projected to. You would think by now we would just add the extra zero on the end for the politicians.
    Few produce more than a fraction of the benefits they were supposed to. Many are not only net negative, they are just plain negative. They actually make things worse and cost substantial amounts of money in the process. Very very few are net positive. Pick one. Maybe you will get lucky and pick one of the net positive ones.

    For reference an “employment for bureaucrats” program is any program that spends a significant portion of its funds on government administration rather than on whatever purpose it is supposed to achieve. For a business administrative overhead runs between 2 and 30%. Is generally very low for big business, and usually highest for very small service oriented businesses. I have already demonstrated that 1/2 the current spending on non-medicare/social security entitlements could provide $13,500/year in direct benefits to the lower 20% of the population. Do you really believe the lower 20% are getting 13,500/year in benefits (they should be getting 27,000) ? If they are not then the administrative costs must be over 50%. Is that acceptable to you ? i am sure someone can explain until our eyes glaze over why it is not so – but the math is simple.

    So apparently we are allowed to have “risky” faith in politicians – who regardless of party have never delivered on their promises, and what they have delivered has been incredibly costly, and performed badly. But the free market which is actually where all risk belongs, is excoriated for taking risks. You are free to take whatever risks you wish with your own money. You are entitled to any rewards and obligate to cover any losses. This is precisely what we DO NOT want in government.
    This blog has excoriated the free market for the supposed risks it has taken – despite the fact that those risks were taken (often gleefully) at the urging of the government.
    Yet the government track record on risk is far far worse.

    Proselytism and faith are different. But i will be happy to agree that the former is far more offensive than the later. But again Proselytism is not in some way intrinsically tied to ONLY religious faith.

    I argue for freedom, that is a faith based form or Proselytism. I think there is ample evidence to justify that faith. But it is still faith. Freedom does not produce the best outcome for each person everytime. It just does far better on the whole than anything else ever has.

    At the same time you Proselytise for government. Still advocating for something you have faith in. Or maybe I am wrong and you don’t have faith in it, and are still Proselytising for it. Rick argues for limiting campaign contributions. He is certain of the beneficial outcome, but that certainty is quite shallow on evidence, regardless his argument is Proselytising.


    • valdobiade permalink
      June 15, 2012 2:13 pm

      “Proselytism” is used particularly for attempting to convert people without religion to a religion or with religion to another religion.
      American presidents, by showing their Christian religion as being the one that’s “good”, are trying to dismiss other religions such as Islamic, Hindu or Jewish.
      United States has a secular government, unlike UK where the Queen or the King is “chosen” by god.

      We have to keep America secular, so every religion or non-religion orientation have freedom of expression. Unfortunately, the US Presidents by mixing religion with politics, make it look like Christianism is doing a favor to other religions or non-religious orientation to express freely.

      You say: “Obama, Bush, Romney’s use of religion provides a window into who they are.” And I say it is stupid tactic because it does not work for a large number of Americans. This tactics of religion in politics serve only American Christianist group to show off its “benevolent” access to freedom to other religions or no-religion groups.

      If you use proselytize as an attempt to get adepts for your kind of politics, you’re actually proselytizing for removing government and have an anarchy, and have citizens controlled by some kind of corporate police. Right now, government police is defending corporations by removing “Occupying” protesters, but it is cronyism in your views. So you’d love pure corporate police to defend corporations because they are “people, my friends”, successful people I may add 😦

      • June 16, 2012 4:02 pm

        Elsewhere in this thread I have admitted to “proselytizing” for what I beleive. The only special distinction I claim in comparison to conservatives, liberals or moderates, is that the values I advocate have evidence to indicate they work, and are not demonstrably logically fallacious.

        Progressive faith is more irrational than that of evangelicals, or muslims, or …

        I can doubt the premises of most religious belief, but I can not disprove it.
        Faith in failed economic and political theories is worse – in thagt it can be disproven.

        I have little interest in debating how many proselytizing evangelicals it takes to equal a liberal. Ultimately there is nothing wrong with casting your views in the best possible light or trying to persuade others to share them.
        It is part of what Rick and every poster here are engaged in.
        I also expect rational skepticism on the part of the audience.
        I should have to persuade you, just as you should have to persuade me.
        I place a higher value on facts and logic than feelings. So if you wish to persuade me that some effort of government is good, you must convince me that it will efficiently accomplish its purported purpose, and that there is no better way to do so. Not that it has a good purpose, and I should have empathy for those it purports to help. Ineffective or anti-effective concern for the less fortunate makes empathy a vice.

        If the “tactic of using religion” by politicians was an ineffective as you claim, it would not work, and they would not do it. I share much of your disdain for political religiousity – though I have the greater disdain for those selling faith where evidence actually exists. Ultimately I express my views on this and myriads of other factors at the ballot box – or the store when we are talking about other forms of advertising. If my notes, and my purchase choices do not alter things, then obviously most people do not feel strongly the same.

        Any discussion of Anarchism and corporate police is for science fiction. We know that we can gut government by atleast 1/2 and not have reduced it below optimal. We do not know whether optimal is 23% or 16% or 8% or 3%. If you wish to argue that it is not 0% I will admit, i do not think seriously about anarchy. It is impractical in the sense that we are not going there. I do not honestly expect us to reduce government spending by 1/2 anytime soon absent government failure. I will argue for every little bit that I can get. I would settle for altering the trend line of government growth and economic growth so that they intersect. If we fail at that we will eventually fail as a nation If we succeed eventually debt and deficits will disappear.

      • June 16, 2012 4:34 pm


        You keep confusing libertarian and conservative as if they are somehow the same.

        Libertarians believe in individual liberty. Not authoritarian power
        I am glad that OWS teens are out protesting. I wish they would seriously examine their own arguments, but so long as they are not engaged in violence, I will side with them against the police, or anyone else on their right to protest – even if I think they are wrong in their argument.

        One person, or group of people (government, corporations) is not entitled to “control” others, either through public force – police or private security guards.

        At the same time using words, like “control”, or coerce, does not make that use correct.
        It is not violence, force, coercion, or control to say your need or want does not entitle you to what is not yours. Nor even does your effort alone.
        Freedom to want something is the freedom to try to acquire it, but it is not the right to have it.

  17. June 14, 2012 8:40 pm

    Corporate profits since 1998 vs, Employee compensation From the US BEA.

    Total business profits are approximately 6% of the total economy. That means 94% of GDP is NOT profits, but real wealth for ordinary people.

    Total employee compensation is 47% of the total economy. That means that nearly 50% of the cost of almost everything that you buy is labor, not energy, or raw materials.

    Nor does this factor in the cost of government (which is partly hidden in labor and profits)

    I would also note than confiscating the entirety of all corporate profits for the year would not even eliminate the deficit for the year.

    No one here seems to grasp how mammoth the cost of government is. Depending on the state and locality it varies between about 46% and 53% of the entire rest of the economy.

    Who here is prepared to claim that the aggregate benefits of government are as great or greater than everything else combined ?

  18. June 14, 2012 8:43 pm

    “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

  19. June 16, 2012 4:52 pm

    I am not offering this as correct.

    Just as a demonstration that the world is so complex that even smart people, even smart liberals and progressives can not possibly agree on policies and priorities.
    Yet somehow we all manage to get things approximately right without planning from above.

    If you truly believe in the primacy of the attribute of locality, then express that value in your life, in your choices, in what you eat what you buy. Proselytize if you wish. Whether I agree or not, I am behind you until you change your values into force.

    I do not know whether paper, plastic or cloth grocery bags are best. And the answer will change with small changes in the criteria.
    You may know well enough to make that choice for yourself.
    But are you really arogant enough to use force to substitute your judgement for mine ?
    Is that force somehow more justifiable, when blessed by a majority ?

  20. pearows permalink
    June 17, 2012 11:42 am

    Rick, I’d be really interested in your take on this article about money in politics. It is written by Michael Barone, admittedly a conservative political analyst. But it addresses campaign contributions in a way that acknowledges that giving money to a candidate is a powerful way to exercise one’s free speech…literally, “putting your money where your mouth is.” Separated from the issue of crony capitalism, campaign finance is an area in which we can all participate.

    ” American voter turnout has been rising and so has Americans’ willingness to contribute money to political causes they think important. These are not negative trends, though incumbents targeted in attack ads tend to think so.
    The apparent Republican edge in spending this year, like the Democratic edge in 2004, was evidence of widespread and heartfelt opposition to an incumbent president. It’s a sign of civic health, not sickness.”

  21. valdobiade permalink
    June 18, 2012 7:11 pm

    ” American voter turnout has been rising and so has Americans’ willingness to contribute money to political causes they think important.”

    It needs a correction:
    “Americans with money, willing to spend on political issues that fit their interests”

    • pearows permalink
      June 19, 2012 8:53 am

      Not necessarily. I mean, if, by money, you mean any money at all, I guess so. But political contributions of $5-$20 have risen exponentially as well, due to the use of online contributions.

      • valdobiade permalink
        June 19, 2012 2:33 pm

        Let’s say that $1 million is raised by one rich guy willing to turn politics to favor his interest. And let’s say that $1 million is raised by 250,000 people who want a political candidate to represent their interest.

        Now, tell me that it is not “necessary” true that rich Americans will spend on political issues to fit their interest against the majority of American citizens.

  22. June 22, 2012 2:31 am

    Lets say Obama decided to have a fundraising Dinner at George Clooney’s.
    there were 150 seats at 40,000 a plate.
    Lets say Obama decide to raffle off 3 of the 150 seats to ordinary John Does (or Joe the Plumber) Would he raise more money from the 147 seats at $40K each or the 3 seats that were raffled to ordinary people ?

    Lets say maybe we read the news and discover this is not hypothetical.
    1/3 of the political haul from the event came from the 147 $40K tickets to the progressive elite. 2/3 came from raffling the 3 seats to ordinary people.

    In the 2008 election the vast majority of funds for BOTH candidates came from individual donors contributing less than $2300, the average donation was approximately $250. The median is almost certainly lower still.

    You can rant and rail about the ability of the rich to supersize their political donations. And political campaigns need and use every dollar they can and then some. But the backbone of american political funding is small donations. Prettending otherwise does nto make it so.

  23. AMAC permalink
    July 9, 2012 11:47 pm

    Just catching up on some of your more recent articles, Rick. I have blogged in the past about Buddy. I like the mention, and enjoyed the article.

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