Archive for the ‘McCain’ Category

Coke, Pepsi and a Stiff Drink

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Waiter: What would like to drink?

Patron 1: I’ll have scotch on the rocks, and also please bring me some ice water.

Patron 2: Can I see the wine list?

Waiter: Sorry. We only serve Coke and Pepsi.

Welcome to American democracy.

Like most Presidential elections, this year we’re offered two candidates that are more the same than different. And like Coke and Pepsi, the packaging differs a little, so does the tone of their advertisements, and one candidate even seems a little hipper, but the substance is the same and virtually indistinguishable.

That’s why I’m so unenthusiastic about voting this year, particularly for the Presidential race. McCain with his finger on the button scares me. So does the idea of Obama with mandate for change.

I’ll probably ending ended up pulling the lever for Bob Barr, even though not voting on principle is also very appealing. Sure Barr’s campaign hasn’t been able to capitalize on the enthusiasm of the Paul campaign, and some of the campaign’s decisions have been quite questionable. (I’m thinking specifically of the decision to stiff Ron Paul while Campaign Manager Russ Verney was writing in praise of George Bush’s post-9/11 “leadership” - you know, the “leadership” that got us into Iraq, failed to make any reform in social security, authorized torture, spied on Americans, etc.)

Still, for most Americans who don’t even realize that Bob Barr is on the ballot, a vote for him is just a generic libertarian protest vote, which is exactly what I want it to stand for. (Plus Barr smokes cigars, which makes him far more appealing than Obama who lies about quitting cigarettes or McCain who quit his two pack a day habit in the 70’s, then spent the 90’s trying to tax and regulate the cigarette companies out of business.)

And at the end of the night, I’ll settle in for a stiff drink or three (paired with a cigar) and see who the country picks in the latest Pepsi challenge.

Unlike the election I’ll have meaningful choices: Bourbon, Scotch (Single Malt or Blended), Rye, Kentucky Whiskey, Rum, Vodka, Gin, various liqueurs, port, and even tequila should the mood strike. And you won’t find me mixing anything with Coke or Pepsi.

Ron Paul to Decide Montana?

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

That’s what Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer says:

GOP Bailout Hypocrisy

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Oops. Turns out the GOP was right on the bailout before they flip-flopped:

Not that anyone pays attention to party platforms, least of all McCain, but a reader spots this rather unambiguous section of the platform just passed by the GOP:

We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself.

George Will: McCain is an Angry Old Man

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Today’s Washington Post contains a must read from George Will. here’s the key passage:

The political left always aims to expand the permeation of economic life by politics. Today, the efficient means to that end is government control of capital. So, is not McCain’s party now conducting the most leftist administration in American history? The New Deal never acted so precipitously on such a scale. Treasury Secretary Paulson, asked about conservative complaints that his rescue program amounts to socialism, said, essentially: This is not socialism, this is necessary. That non sequitur might be politically necessary, but remember that government control of capital is government control of capitalism. Does McCain have qualms about this, or only quarrels?

On “60 Minutes” Sunday evening, McCain, saying “this may sound a little unusual,” said that he would like to replace Cox with Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic attorney general of New York who is the son of former governor Mario Cuomo. McCain explained that Cuomo has “respect” and “prestige” and could “lend some bipartisanship.” Conservatives have been warned.

Will then goes on to note what I too have observed that the case for McCain often relies on him being better on judges:

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

But temperament aside, claims about superior judge picks are still suspect.

Here Brad Smith (a victim of McCain’s notorious temper himself) explains why the McCain-Finegold free speech law doesn’t project “conservative” justices:

McCain is likely to make support for McCain-Feingold - an issue he has said is “of transcendent importance” to him - a litmus test for judges. It is very hard, however, to find judicial candidates who think McCain-Feingold is constitutional yet who are also are anti-Roe v. Wade and generally respectful of the Constitution. For anyone with a coherent judicial philosophy of federalism and limited government, the two just don’t go together. When McCain says he wants to appoint justices like Thomas and Scalia, we must consider that Thomas and Scalia would overrule all of McCain-Feingold, indeed all pre-existing campaign finance law except perhaps some disclosure. It is almost impossible to believe that Senator McCain would appoint Thomas or Scalia to the bench, let alone the Supreme Court.

In fact every indication is that had Justices Alito and Roberts been on the court when McCain-Finegold was decided they too would have been against it, meaning they too would have failed a litmus test on McCain’s issue of “of transcendent importance.”

McCain supporters may reply that campaign finance regulation is a dead issue, but McCain’s own actions suggest that this is not the case. After all, as recently as this Spring McCain says he doesn’t regret refusing to shake Bradley Smith’s hand at a Congressional hearing in 2004.

Leaving us to believe that he still stands by his name calling of Smith, when the Senator said: “You’re a bully and a coward. You have no regard for the Constitution. ” (Apparently consistently opposing campaign finance regulations on free speech grounds means one has “no regard for the Constitution.”)

Such a comment makes the incident with Smith a perfect example of the convergence the two issues: (1) the poor prospects for solidly conservative judicial selections by McCain, and (2) his notorious temper.

McCain, Barr and Guns

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Not long ago I randomly met a Libertarian Party staffer in a local drinking establishment who told me that the Barr campaign has high hopes for landing the endorsement of the NRA.

While I think he probably should get it (Barr gets an A+ rating from the group and is an NRA board member, while McCain receives a  C rating), I have doubts that the organization would take the plunge and endorse a third party candidate.  Instead I expect a none of the above endorsement, or a squishy McCain isn’t perfect but he’s better than Obama so we unenthusiastically endorse him.

Gun Owners of America is more likely endorse Barr, but Barr may have competition from Chuck Baldwin the Constitution Party candidate.  Interestingly, an article about McCain (who was most recently rated a F- by GOA) titled “John McCain is a Liberal Gun Grabber” is repreinted on GOA’s website.  The article is written by Chuck Baldwin.

Also of note is what impact the Palin pick will have on the gun rights vote.  Some are speculating that Palin was picked (at least in part) to stop or forestall an NRA endorsement of Barr over McCain. I for one hope that the NRA is not appeased so easily… after all, the VP has little impact on policy, and a political neophyte like Palin (personally I consider that an asset, not a put down) would likely have even less say than usual given McCain’s stubborn reputation.

Will the US Government Repudiate Its Debt?

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Of course we already do that through inflation, however Gerald P. O’Discoll, former adviser to the Fed, writes in the Wall Street Journal that we’re at a tipping point:

As Milton Friedman long ago taught us, government spending is the ultimate tax on the economy: It extracts real resources from productive, private use and puts them to unproductive, public use. And there is the rub.

Not even a President Obama and a Congress controlled by House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid is going to hike taxes enough to pay for all their spending. Indeed, they have shown themselves quite unwilling to engage in honest budgeting. The best example is saddling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with $500 million of new (off-budget) obligations to fund cheap housing at a time when the two companies were already on the ropes. Is it any wonder the stock prices of these two companies are imploding?

The markets have long assessed the debt of Fannie and Freddie at AAA because of the Treasury’s guarantee, now explicit. But no one has ever seriously assessed the Treasury’s creditworthiness with Fannie and Freddie on its books. The public guarantee is entirely open-ended and unbounded. The appetite of the two companies to balloon their balance sheets and take on risk has not been curtailed. Meanwhile, Congress spends apace with new programs for constituents in an election year.

We are at a Smithian moment, in which the temptation for the Fed to spend its last dime of credibility may prove irresistible. Investors are already being taxed by inflation and can rationally expect that tax rate (the inflation rate) to be raised going forward. Wages are not keeping up. Main Street is being taxed to fund Wall Street excess. Anyone who works, saves and invests is exposed to confiscation of his capital and earnings through inflation.

If the Fed maintained its independence of action and said no to the inflationary finance of Congress’s profligacy, we wouldn’t have reached this point. But the Fed has forsaken that independence amid an absence of leadership.

By the way, as recently as February McCain said he wanted more inflation.

The Battle for the Future of the GOP

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

As evidenced by by this silly Washington Post commentary titled “McCain’s Problem isn’t his Tactics. It’s GOP Ideas,” the left (joined by their big government allies in the GOP) will do their best to portray Republican electoral failures as evidence of the failure of limited government conservatism.

As Matt Welch observes: “This critique requires a significant leap of logic − that George W. Bush, and his would-be GOP successor John McCain, practice and/or believe in limited government principles.”

But just because the argument is dead wrong, doesn’t mean it isn’t still very dangerous.

Left unanswered, the argument could mark the extinction of the limited-government torch that has been carried by elements of the GOP since at least Barry Goldwater’s run for President. (Sure, the torch for limited-government hasn’t necessarily been burning brightly, but its very existence gives the GOP a potential for conservative/libertarian policy-making that is wholly absent from the Democratic Party.)

That’s where Ron Paul comes in. When McCain fails to beat Obama (something I believe is very likely to happen) and Republicans lose seats in both the House and Senate (something I’m certain will happen), Republicans will ask themselves the obvious question: Why?

If they decide that a decade of abandoned limited-government principles is responsible, there may be hope yet for the Grand Old Party. Otherwise, we’ll see a self-fulfilling prophecy of two permanent parties of big government, where one will always win.

If there is one thing the Campaign for Liberty, and the greater Ron Paul movement should focus on between now and November it should be showing that not only has the Republican party abandoned its limited government principles, but that the betrayal of those principles is the largest reason for the party’s demise.

Towards a Smoke Free America

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Congress recently took another step towards total prohibition of tobacco by ordering FDA regulation of tobacco (against the wishes of the current FDA head).  Both McCain and Obama support the measure. In fact it has been one of McCain’s pet issues for over a decade.

Full details, along with my take on the effect on cigars (which always seem to get lumped in with cigarettes), here.