Thursday, February 28, 2008

Things Dumb Voters Want to Know

Things Dumb Voters Need to Know

I watched another debate between the two Senators last night. I don’t really understand why I did, but I did. My friends think I am crazy. I have been a political junkie most of my adult life, but until the last few years, I really never had the time to indulge my habit. This may not be a good thing. I was shocked when they said they had debated twenty times. Have I really watched all of those? Watching two people that basically agree on everything debate twenty times must indicate some type of mental illness. Oh yes, I watched all of the Republican debates, too. Why? I keep waiting for someone to answer the dumb questions I have. So far, I have been disappointed. These are things us dumb, mortal voters wonder about and would like to ask Senators Obama and Clinton if we could just be Brit Hume or Tim Russert for a day.

Special Interests

Who are they exactly? They are obviously evil, but I have not been able to find a living, breathing soul that does not have an agenda, … er… special interest. Does that mean that we are all evil? Senator Obama says he does not take any money or allow special interests any access to the mountaintop (or is it a cloud?) where he resides. So Senator …those labor unions that endorse and support you with cash and other favors … are they not special interests? I could go on and cherry-pick your list of donors and supporters, but you get my drift. Please explain why their interests are just ordinary, not special. (and maybe a few words about why they are good, while other special interests are evil.)

Evil, Greedy Corporations

Who are they exactly? How does corporate greed differ from the greed of say, slip-and-fall lawyers like John Edwards? Was it greedy when John took 40% of the settlement for his injured client instead of say, 10%? That would have been thirty million or so less for him, but the injured person would have probably appreciated it more and put it to better use. If he’s not greedy, why did he not just give all but what he needed to maintain a lifestyle befitting royalty to charity? Is this type of greed different than corporate greed because most lawyers are now called Limited Liability Companies? Is that what defines greed—the I-n-c. thing? Is greed inside an LLC ok? I have a friend that runs a small business and I know he is incorporated. Does that make him greedy and evil? Just dumb questions. I really hate to ask them ... but I wonder about these things. I care about America.

To avoid confusion by us dumb voters, let’s leave out drug and other companies and focus on oil for now. You both say that you are going to limit the obscene profits oil companies are making. I apologize for being dumb, but it seems that in order to do that, you would have to nationalize the oil companies. Are we taking a page from Hugo Chavez’s playbook here? Where in the constitution does a president have the authority to say how much profit a corporation can make? How much profit is allowed before we cross over into evil territory? Who gets to decide? (I think I know the answer to that one, but just the same…) Senator Clinton says gasoline will drop when she is elected. How much will a gallon of gasoline cost after you take office? What’s a fair price? Two dollars, three? How much will we be allowed to buy each week under this dictatorship? (Excuse me. It just slipped out.) Democrats have already stopped exploration in our own country and the building of refineries, but what happens when oil companies don’t like your profit number and decide to stop producing oil and go into something where profit is not limited? I have found that people do things that are in their own self-interest. What happens when people stop buying oil company stocks because there are no gains or dividends? Will the economy tank? I know you have thought these things through thoroughly, but us dumb voters are worried.

Evil Rich

You’ve convinced me. Let’s tax the hell out of them. Tax them all the way down to the middle class where they belong. Shame on them for being successful in America. We should all be the same, no matter how lazy we are or how hard we work. Look at China. Those people are really happy, right? And Cuba, where nine out of ten work for the government. Michael Moore has taught us that we need to model our system after theirs. We are just not so sure that Michael is that smart. We have sort of gotten used to something we used to call Free Enterprise. Those two words still sort of make me stand taller, but we don’t hear them much anymore. Think about it, Free and Enterprise. I looked up enterprise (just to be sure) and found boldness, readiness, adventurous spirit, ingenuity. Wow. You could use those in one of your speeches. Too bad you don’t buy into the concept. Having a nanny state sure sounds comforting, though. Who really wants to work that hard, anyway? I’m sure the benefit package is terrific.

Taxes

You both say you are going to end Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy. I find the rhetoric here very confusing, because I am a CPA. (sorry) Of course, I don’t pretend to understand tax law. I have only prepared ten thousand tax returns. I need at least that many more to understand the arcane IRS code. Obviously, you have found something in the law that I did not. You say that only the rich will pay more when the Bush tax cuts expire (and you will make them expire). Since virtually everyone who pays taxes had their taxes reduced under these cuts, how does it work that only the rich will pay more when they expire? It’s confusing, but I know you can explain.

You say that America could not afford the Bush tax cuts. This is really confusing. What happened to tax revenue when the tax cuts were implemented? I am obviously misinformed, but I thought revenue actually went up by historic percentages. We certainly can’t afford that. I read in a book somewhere that history tells us that tax revenue goes up every time tax rates are cut. How can that be? Surely revenue won’t go up when rates are cut. The book, oops … books must have been wrong. Please explain. Maybe it’s revisionist history. By the way, what percentage of all taxes do rich people really pay? It can’t be as high as I was told. What happens when these evil people take steps to avoid paying taxes when rates go back up? Sorry, but I think the evil folks will (remember what I said about those ten thousand tax returns). Will the economy suffer when the evil rich fat cats stop buying and selling stocks and bonds and making investments in real estate and businesses and creating jobs? Jobs? That leads to my next question.

Jobs

I have never actually met anyone who worked in a job that was created by a president. What type of job is it that presidents create, exactly? What do these people do? Does the president pay them? Just curious, because I thought almost all jobs were created by small businesses. My coffee shop buddies and I might want to apply for one of those jobs. Do they pay well? What experience do we need? We bet the health insurance is better than what we have now. I am sure glad there will be so many millions more of them, but I just can’t figure out why I never met anybody who had one. Sorry, but dumb voters need to know.

Our Government and Foreign Policy

Try as I might, I just cannot understand your positions on Iraq and foreign policy in general. Senator Clinton, your last question in the debate was an opportunity to clarify this for us dumb voters, but you said you wanted to take back your vote to go to war in Iraq. You said you advised against it and thought it was a bad idea from the beginning. But you voted for it. Surely you can see how this confuses us mere mortals. Please explain.

Obama, who did not get to vote on the war, takes pride in having made a speech against it. Pretty clear. However, here is the question that keeps popping into my dumb mind. What exactly would you have done, Senator, after America was attacked on 9/11/2001 and three thousand innocent people were killed on American soil? I am sure you have explained this in your speeches, but I have a tendency to swoon and lose my train of thought when you speak. By the way, you need more EMT’s on hand when you speak from on high to rescue us fainters. In captivating rhetoric, you seem to indicate that you would have focused on Afghanistan. You also say that you would invade Pakistan if you had actionable intelligence. Those words sound familiar. Isn’t that exactly what we had when Hillary voted to go to war in Iraq and you said you were against it? Probably just my bad memory again.

So, as I understand it, we had three countries to consider after 9/11 since the terrorists were Muslim and came from the Middle East (Saudi). The four countries were Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. Two are allies, though shaky. (Saudi and Pakistan). All suppress women and freedom. One has a greedy and corrupt royal family that pays false homage to America while sucking up our money in exchange for oil (Saudi). One has nuclear weapons and we know it for sure but has a pseudo-democracy. (Pakistan). One has the toughest terrain on the planet for fighting a war and crippled a super power (Russia) that tried to wage war there (Afghanistan). One had violated fifteen UN resolutions, thrown out weapons inspectors, invaded two neighboring countries within the last twenty-five years, had used weapons of mass destruction (please don’t limit this to nuclear), was trying to enrich uranium and openly asserted its intention to acquire nuclear weapons, was a known sponsor of terrorism and paid bonuses to suicide bombers, hosted AlQueda training camps, and routinely maimed, tortured and killed thousands of civilians daily. (Iraq). Forgive the long narrative, but I needed it to lessen my own confusion. Here is the question for you, Senator Obama. Why choose Afghanistan and Pakistan over Iraq? Seems to us dumb voters that a good case might have been made for not going anywhere, but it is hard to understand why you would have focused on the two that you chose. Of course, maybe you would have done nothing and just told the barbaric terrorists that this behavior is unacceptable. (you mentioned that term in the debate) I am sure that would have stopped them right in their tracks—especially if you said it with your mesmerizing voice.

One more thing. This one really threw me for a loop. You said you would go back into Iraq (after you pull out) if AlQueda were there. Well, aren’t they there now? If not, who are those guys planting those IED’s and killing our soldiers? It seems that almost everyone thinks they are AlQueda. So if they are there now and we are there now, why would we pull out and then go back if they are still there after we pull out? Boy, that question confuses me more, but I am sure you can explain. Are you saying that they will leave if we do? Where will they go? Will they follow our soldiers home?

Race

I know, I know—it is politically incorrect to talk about it. We are past all that, but both of you keep bringing it up and the mainstream media throw it in our faces by giving us racial demographics after every primary. Tim Russert brought it up in the debate Tuesday night in the visage of Louis Farrakhan’s recent endorsement of Senator Obama for the presidency or our great country. Although Russert’s liberal bias flashes off him like neon lights, he prides himself on asking tough questions, even of liberals. He gets so puffed up that his eyes bulge and he seems to be inflating like a balloon that is pushing him out of his chair to ask one of his zingers. He was in the middle of throwing out vile Farrakhan quotes about Jews when you, Senator Obama, put out a calming, restorative hand like you were parting the waters and stopped Russert in mid-sentence. Mesmerized by your almost holy presence, he never finished the terrible quote, curling up by your feet like a lap dog. (Ok, he didn’t really curl up, just panted.) He did manage to ask you to respond to Farrakhan’s endorsement. You smoothly disavowed Farrakhan’s teaching, but said you could not stop him from endorsing you—that he was justly proud of you because you are an African-American. Question. Why can’t you? Why can’t you tell him to never let your name escape from his mouth again, especially when he speaks in public. Maybe he won’t listen, but it seems to us country bumpkins that you could sure tell him that you want nothing to do with him or his teachings. I know it’s old-fashioned, but I am always more impressed more by what a man does than what he says. Maybe you could show us a letter you wrote him along with his response. He is after all, not only anti-Semitic, but also anti-white, anti-gay, anti-Asian and anti-everybody who is not black. Is this racism? I thought you abhorred racism in all of its manifestations. He is also head of the Nation of Islam in America.

Next question. Knowing all these things, why do you go to a church whose pastor endorses the teachings of Farrakhan and gives him awards? Is it true that you chose this pastor to perform your wedding ceremony as well as being your religious and spiritual leader? Maybe you could explain this. I am sure you have a better reason than “I don’t always agree with everything my pastor does.” Somehow, that just doesn’t explain these confusing things. Also, there’s the church doctrine. I tried substituting white every place where your doctrine says black and imagined what would happen to a white church with this type of doctrine. It would not be pretty. Is the doctrine of your church racist? Please explain why it is not.

Then there’s that college thesis your wife wrote where she says that the oppressed black must rise up against their white oppressors. I know we are just unsophisticated voters and misunderstand what she really meant, but that sounds sort of racist to us, too. Please explain that and maybe you could also tell us why she has never been proud to be an American. We’re kind of proud, ourselves. Always have been.

Government and Health Care

The final question for this evening touches on health care and your plans to nationalize it. Almost all of us recognize that health care in America is in need of help. We just don’t want to make it worse. Senator Obama, you say that health care will be cheaper when you take office. That sounds good. How does that work exactly? Will doctors and hospitals and pharmaceutical companies start dropping prices on inauguration day or will it be later? How much later?

Senator Clinton, my coffee and poker buddies want to issue a challenge to you. Please name two things that big government has ever done efficiently and well. Focus like a laser beam on both words. If you can come up with one thing, we promise to come up with fifty that have gone the other way. Fifty to one. Not bad odds for you. It should be easy. Here’s a hint. It seems to us that defense, the only real function of a government in America, is done well, but is hardly efficient.

Forgive me for this last comment. My poker and coffee buddies insisted that I ask it. It’s rhetorical and you don’t have to answer it. Are the two of you really that na├»ve about what made America great or do you just think voters are dumb and will swallow anything you say if you promise to give us handouts? Surely it is the latter. How could anyone run for the highest office in the land, to aspire to be the leader of the free world, and not understand how our country works—not understand the difference between socialism and a democracy, the law of supply and demand, and more importantly, not have read the constitution, especially those parts relative to the powers of the president?

Maybe it’s because both of you have spent your entire adult lives working in one those jobs that presidents create. It’s a mystery.

We were just wondering. We care about America.

© 2008 Jim H. Ainsworth

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Suicidal Republicans

Get over it. That’s what pundits and members of the Republican establishment are saying to Conservatives. It is John McCain’s turn and he is going to be our nominee. You need to get on board and stop whining. There’s a certain amount of truth to that, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Establishment Republicans are calling true Conservatives who cringe at having McCain as the anointed candidate suicidal and Kamikaze Republicans. Cute, but that’s the pot calling the kettle black.

Let’s get something straight. I will not be casting a ballot for Obama or Clinton, even if it means voting for John McCain. However, establishment Republicans who refer to us as suicidal need to look in the mirror. They are the ones who committed suicide, not real Conservatives. Wait a minute—they committed murder, not suicide. Ok, maybe it’s attempted murder, because God willing, the Conservative cause will never die. Death of the Conservative cause will be the death of America. Why do I say murder? Because, in the absence of the unlikely event that Obama will be properly vetted before the election, or some major world event happens to change the election dynamics, the nomination of John McCain virtually assures that an uninformed citizenry will elect one of the most unqualified candidates ever to run for the presidency—not to mention the most liberal. Barack Hussein Obama. I find myself pulling for Hillary to win the nomination—then I lose my lunch.

A McCain presidency is infinitely better than an Obama or Hillary presidency. So should we just shut up and rally around his candidacy and do everything we can to help him defeat them? Yes and no. We should do everything possible to help him win, but isn’t this a good time to state our objections to the attempted murder—while the spotlight is on the campaign? Can we complain while we work for his election? Can we address what we consider to be very serious problems within the Republican Party without being called suicidal? I think so. Now is the time.

Let’s consider what the party has done to itself and how Conservatism is part of the collateral damage of this monumentally stupid mistake by establishment Republicans.

It is inarguable that Americans are thirsty for change. Witness the empty-headed adulation of adoring crowds that follow rock-star Obama everywhere he goes. They emote over profound words like future vs. past, up vs. down, forward instead of backward, and most of all, change. The man never utters a substantive word. He has no substantive accomplishments in his life. He doesn’t have to. He is half-black, half-white, had two Muslim fathers, a white atheist mother (or at least agnostic), and belongs to a church whose leader is a stated admirer of Louis Farrakhan. Even if he wasn’t articulate and likeable, he embodies change. Unwitting Americans are so hungry for change that that they are willing to sacrifice everything at the altar of change for change’s sake, to ignore dangerous facts about a candidate in order to prove that we are ready to embrace diversity. Their only complaint is that they hate they were offered two agents of change at once--the first woman president, and the first half-black president. An abundance of wonderful change.

In this environment of ravenous thirst for change, what do the Republicans offer? John McCain—a man who embodies the status quo as much as anyone possibly could. Oh, we will expound upon his maverick status to try to appeal to moderates and independents, but it won’t work. They will be voting for Obama. Why? Because they want change. You know what? So do I. I am dying for change in America. We had a chance to nominate one of the most qualified men to ever run, a man who stood for change, but we opted for a Washington insider. We need change badly, but I will not be voting for a candidate because of a buzzword.

So what do Conservatives want in the way of change? The list is long, but one fundamental change is required. Congress is badly broken and I believe that the only real way to fix it is term limits. I believe that the Republican Party should have voluntary term limits as part of its platform. All candidates should take a pledge to serve only two terms in the Senate or four terms in the House. Maybe it will spark the need for a constitutional amendment allowing term limits. Now, that change would be more than a catchy phrase. Term limits makes change a verb rather than a noun. Congressmen would have to actually live under the laws they pass. They might even have to live under Social Security, for example. They might have to make a payroll or earn their pay. Can you imagine the look of despair that would come over the face of Ted Kennedy, for example, when he is told that his time is up—when he is told that people will no longer bow and scrape to his power and will start treating him for what he is. Bloated, corrupt fat cats have become the rule rather than the exception in Congress. Young, idealistic Conservatives (and yes, Liberals) have little chance in the system of seniority they must labor under. The old, the fat, the alcoholic, the power-hungry, and the corrupt rule the halls of Congress. “Get on board or get run over, Son.”

Is there a part of me that wants the establishment punished for giving us John McCain? Not enough to settle for Obama or Clinton. Still, lets rise up and learn from this. If not, we must have our own party. I am a Conservative first, a Republican second.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Huckabee's Role in the 08 Elections

A message to all Huckabee supporters: What your candidate did in this campaign is remarkable. I have admired your guy for a long time and was pleased when I saw him enter the race. I wanted a Romney/Huckabee ticket or even the reverse. One of the two of them has won all the debates with the nod probably going to Mike as the best debater. His only real bummer was when he and McCain double-teamed Romney. They looked like petulant high-schoolers that night.

I love Huckabee’s fair tax plan and have supported such a plan for more than two decades. (I was a CPA in a former life and prepared or reviewed over 10,000 tax returns, so I know how bad the tax code is and how it infiltrates all aspects of American life). One of the advantages seldom mentioned about this plan is that abolishment of the IRS and doing away with the onerous tax code will strip Congress of one of its main sources of power.

At this stage of the campaign, Huckabee is focusing his attacks on Romney, even though McCain is the front-runner. Wonder why? Governor Huckabee is obviously looking toward 2012 and is perfectly willing to let America suffer through four years of John McCain or more probable, Obama or Billary, in order to achieve his ambition. His function in the campaign can only be the second man on the ticket. He knows that McCain is definitely a one-term candidate. He is pulling votes away from Romney, the clear and only remaining viable choice for Republicans who are real conservatives. A more worrisome scenario is that he is in tune with McCain’s views. I hope not.

Are you willing to have Obama or Billary as president? The democrats want McCain, because they know he will be beaten. Even establishment Republicans want McCain because most of them have hopes for 2012 and also know he will be defeated or at the minimum, last only four years. Why would they want him to lose the general? Because the president takes the blame when things go south, and they see things going south. They are highly unlikely to take back either house of Congress, so a Democratic President and a Democrat congress will have to take the blame, leaving the way for a Republican victory in 2012. That is the only reason I can see for their abandonment of conservative principles in order to get behind a clearly weak candidate.

Are you willing to take that chance? I am not. Four or eight years of liberal power in Washington may do irreparable damage. Don’t waste your vote. Worse, don’t cast a ballot that will clearly be for Obama or Billary or both.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Big Tent

I’ve been thinking a lot about this term. (Big Tent) It is used often in election campaigns, especially presidential elections. The current campaign really requires conservatives to analyze what it means to have a big tent. I agree that we need to bring as many voters as possible into our tent. In my case, it has always been the Republican tent. Now, I am not so sure. I would much rather be a conservative than a Republican.

I am always a little impatient with folks who say they are independents and those who say they cannot decide about candidates. For heaven’s sake, make up your mind. The differences, after all, were clear. The chasm between Democrat beliefs and Republican beliefs was wide and deep. If a voter has a belief system, and all voters should, the choice should be easy.

This presidential election may change that, however. The tent I get under has always been, with few exceptions, the conservative tent. People under this tent believe that the government is unwieldy and does almost nothing well, efficiently, or cost-effectively. It is a bloated, corrupt, influence-peddling, power-hungry behemoth with a voracious appetite that will never be sated, no matter how much we feed it. This monster is necessary for essentially only one reason—to protect us. All of its other functions are subsidiary, at best. When conservatives say protect, we mean national defense, not protection from ourselves. Just see that we are safe and leave the rest of our living to us. In other words, leave me the hell alone. There is virtually nothing the big monster can do that I cannot do better. Leaving me alone means keeping taxes low and regulations few.

Sure, moderates, even liberals are welcome in the conservative tent. But I am reminded of that song a few years back, “Welcome to Texas”. The chorus ended with “now don’t forget to go back home". The theme of the song is come into the tent, but respect our principles, don’t expect us to change to suit you. If you start pulling at the poles that hold the tent up, you will be asked to go back to your own tent.

A John McCain nomination threatens the poles of our tent, even the fabric. I liken it to the millions of illegal immigrants crossing our borders. You are welcome, but come through immigration—legally, and when you do come, assimilate. Sure, you can even keep your culture, but don’t ask us to change ours. Don’t march in the streets waving your own flag, expect us to spend millions educating you and providing you with free health care, and to print everything in two languages because you are unwilling to learn English. That’s impolite and it flies in the face of everything conservatives believe. It tears at the very fabric of this country and the fabric of our tent.

John McCain wants to take over the conservative tent, and he wants to bring his liberal friends with him. Those liberal friends are just stinging him along, hoping to tear down the tent. Sure, I believe in compromise, but not in compromising my principles. If we keep letting liberals tear at our fabric and dig up the stakes that bind our tent poles, then it must fall. I, for one, don’t want to be under a falling tent.