Saturday, February 27, 2010

McCain Letter

This is a letter to the editor I sent to National Review during the Republican presidential primary fight. Ramesh Ponnuru was singing the praises of John McCain. I am posting it here because it is a good example of why in many areas so called moderation should not be tolerated. At the end of the letter I say that if McCain is nominated it will be time for some creative destruction. Here we are over 18 months later and that process has begun. We shall all be the beneficiaries.

It was shocking to read Ramesh Ponnuru's NR cover story, The Coming McCain Moment. In order to properly understand John McCain, a few modifications and additions to the article are needed.

McCain was a member of The Keating Five, where he traded influence for campaign contributions. It was long ago, but it plants a seed of doubt as to his willingness to sell influence.

Ponnuru says "He supported a scheme of taxes and regulations to fight smoking"...It was a scheme all right, hatched in the back rooms of liberal politicians and trial lawyers. McCain was the point man for legislation and the trial lawyers to punish American Corporations that had not only been operating legally, but had been given a hold harmless by the congress and the Surgeon General by virtue of warning labels on cigarette packages. This was a blatant attack on private property and a classic abuse of government power. It created a government backed feeding frenzy among trial lawyers costing (mostly the poor) billions of dollars, and provided a wealth of talking points for Democratic operatives.

Ponnuru says campaign finance reform is not the issue it once was. Perhaps he is right. But should conservatives support McCain who sponsored this restriction on free speech, enhancing the unelected Democratic media's power? By lending his name and support, the media misleadingly represented the bill as bipartisan. Bush's abandonment of principle by signing the bill in no way excuses McCain's part.

McCain fought Bush on interrogation methods for suspected terrorists. The author charitably explains this as a principled act resulting in part from his being a POW in Vietnam. I am not so charitable. I see this and many other positions he adopts as attempts to ingratiate himself to the mainstream media by joining in their Bush bashing flavor of the month.

McCain's support of "free market solutions" (lol) to global warming is somehow seen by the author as "more prescient than most conservatives." This presupposes global warming needs a "solution". Many disagree, and even under the highly questionable assumption that global warming is man made, and under the further questionable assumption that it will be harmful, nothing proposed by any group, McCain and Kyoto included, would make any meaningful change in the warming trend. McCain's position does however, once again, give ammunition to the enemy.

"McCain has never voted for a general tax increase" says Ponnuru. He surely advocated one. In the 2000 presidential campaign he took a page from the basic Democratic playbook and argued that we should raise taxes on the rich. I don't know if his understanding of economics is so poor that he believed it would be a good thing, or if he was trying to score cheap political points, but either one is roundly unattractive. It may not be a vote to increase taxes, but when he voted against the Bush tax cuts he got in bed with increases first cousin.

In 2000 McCain trashed Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. These men are/ were not perfect, but they represent a wide constituency and have done tremendous good for their followers and all Americans. Recently he went after Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, two highly ethical, highly accomplished, great Americans. If he believes what he said, he is out of step with the people in his own party. If he driven by political calculations, one must question his rationality.

How many of these misconceived initiatives can be excused as the behavior of a maverick, or a principled maverick as the press would say? Irrespective of Ponnuru's assertions to the contrary, he disagrees with far too many basic conservative principles. Should Republicans look the other way in order to get this RINO elected? Is he a political opportunist, or simply out of touch, and does it matter? If McCain is the best Republican hope, it is certainly time for some creative destruction.

John McCain's record indicates he is better qualified to be president of than President of the United States.

Michael Sall, Villanova PA

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ideologues...A Breath of Fresh Air

A friend asked me to contribute to a candidate for the House's campaign and said "He is not an ideologue." I said "Too there anything good you can say about him?" Who ever got the idea that compromising or abandoning one's values, or worse, not having any values to begin with, is a virtue. Arlen Spector is not an ideologue, and neither is John McCain. What they are is chameleons. Their ship flies no flag, but they are not ideologues.

This idea reminds me of those who take it as a priori that moderation is a virtue. Many years ago Barry Goldwater (One of the founders of the modern conservative movement) said "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"

Goldwater was an absolute ideologue, and one with all the right ideas. Would you trust your possessions, or more importantly your freedom, to an ideologue like him, or McCain and Spector?

McCain and Spector claim to be moderates. Antony Scalia, one of the most thoughtful jurists ever to sit on the bench of the Supreme Court, answered a question posed to him about moderation in interpreting the law. He asked the questioner, "What exactly is moderation...halfway between what the law says and what you wish it would say?"

Of course there are things where moderation is appropriate. They are mostly where the effect of a policy are uncertain but worth trying. But there are others where "extremism" is clearly called for. Perhaps the devotees of moderation would like Lincoln to have freed half the slaves, or maybe he could have freed them from 12:00 until 5:00?

No..moderation is no virtue. I would prefer to let all the ideologues, right and left, fight it out. Let the differences be clearly understood...and the better ideas will survive. If people understand liberalism and its history, its boot heel might be removed from our country's neck and the proverbial stake will be driven through its heart.

For those of you who don't know much about Goldwater, he and Reagan are credited with founding modern conservatism. He was the Senator from Arizona and the Republican Presidential nominee in the 1964 election. Like Reagan and all influential Republicans he was labeled stupid, evil and extreme. Of course the Left never addressed his policies or philosophy. He moved to the right of the "Country Club Republicans," or the "Rockefeller Republicans," and their low tax anti communist platform. He extended this to include smaller government, individual responsibility, and constitutional mandates. In doing so the party developed a politically viable coalition by bringing rural Americans and evangelical Christians along with all people of faith into the Republican tent.

To get a sense of who he was, here is one more of his quotes. "I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents "interests," I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can." pg 15. The Conscience of A Conservative (1960)