Friday, June 27, 2008

Obama and Urban Renewal

There are delicious ironies in life. One recently example: Senator Barack Obama is spouting that urban renewal begins at the local level and if he won the White House, the mayors should not count on significant additional help from Washington. He said “Change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.”

So in the one area of life that Obama has any significant experience, dealing with the government and urban renewal, he personally has declared the experiment a failure. All by himself he has determined that throwing federal money at the problems of inner-city life is insufficient and a waste of resources. This from a man who thinks the Federal Government is the panacea.

Is it arrogance that he believes the Federal Government will work better if he is in charge? Is it blind ambition in refusing to learn from experience? Or is it stupidity to fail to apply those lessons?
Or a combination of arrogance, ambition, and stupidity that he believes that government is the solution to all problems except the ones he personally failed to fix while working in the government?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The French and NATO

It seems that French are ready to play with NATO again. I'm not sure what exactly this will entail, especially since the French Army is broken.

But it does give me chance to post the best scene from the best movie ever.

I, of course, offer this in the spirit of European unity.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The most basic right

When one mentions political rights, the Bill of Rights is what usually comes to mind. In particular, free speech, free press, freedom of worship, right to a speedy jury trial, the right to counsel in court proceedings, and the protections against unreasonable searches and cruel and unusual punishments, come easily to mind. If you are not a democrat, the right to bear arms might come to mind. For some, who believe in "penumbras" the right to privacy and the right to abortion might come to mind. The most basic right, however is not mentioned explicitly, although it is implied by the third and fourth amendments, and the eminent domain clause of the fifth. It is the right to own and be secure in one's own property.

Indeed many of the above rights can be seen as extensions of this right. If I own this altar and this goat, then they are mine, and I can do as please with them. If I want to sacrifice the goat to Zeus, then that is my affair, and nothing you think about it matters. In a like manner, if I own this printing press, ink and paper and I want to combine them in a way that makes fun of my representative's voting record, then I can do that. If I further want to trade my printed papers for money, so long as my trading partner owns the the money, then it is no one else's business. The Democrats, of course, don't actually recognize this right. The Republicans often merely play lip service to it.

One problem is that this right, like most others, cannot be absolute. If each piece of property were a hermetically sealed unit, then perhaps one could have untrammeled rights over it. However since humans live in close proximity to each other, it is possible for me to use my property in such a way as to deny my neighbor the use of his or her property. Sorting all of this out is one of the valid roles of the government. That role, however, is one of the governmental powers most subject to abuse. Although conservatives often tout local governments as the bodies most responsive to the will of the people, local governments are often the most abusive of the right to be secure in one's property. It is easier for small special interests to seize the reins of power in a locality than in a larger governmental unit. Property rights are abused by local governments through the manipulation of zoning and building codes, the abusive use imminent domain, and a myriad of other ways small and large. This not to say that local governments should have no control over property. Zoning codes and the like are essential tools. These tools, however, are far to often used by local vested interests to forestall competition, control "undesirable" groups, or merely enforce the aesthetic preferences of the local gentry.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Judicial Imperialism

Last week’s Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush, one might think the Court had stopped an elitist dictator from stomping on civil liberties.
The 5-4 ruling is judicial imperialism of the highest order.

These five judges ignored the Constitution’s structure, which grants all war decisions to the President and Congress.

The recent ruling should finally put to rest the popular myth that right-wing conservatives dominate the Supreme Court.

The only real hope of returning the Supreme Court back to its normal role rests in the November elections. Because of the advancing age of several justices, the next president will be in a position to appoint a new Court that can reverse the damage done to our nation’s security

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bill Oh Really

Watching Bill O'Reilly the other day and a woman whose identification I did not catch but was a Democrat strategist had the following (approximate) exchange:

Bill: "So why are Bush's ratings so bad?"

Guest: "Because there are still 47 million Americans without health coverage."

I must admit a level of amazement. Bush never made a point of giving health benefits to all and it was not part of the Republican platform so how can his failure to provide health insurance cause his poll numbers to plummet? Well of course they didn't. This woman was "staying on point" and Bill O. could have asked her what time it was and she would have responded "time for health care coverage for the 47 million Americans without it."

Wouldn't it be nice if guests on these shows, especially when given such a golden opportunity, could at least TRY to address the question?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thoughts on the election

So it looks like Obama vs McCain. This should be an interesting race. Both candidates are essentially running without the whole hearted support of significant portions of their party's traditional coalitions. Let's look at some of these groups. Keep in mind that people have three choices; Obama, McCain, or Stay Home. Keeping that in mind, let's look at some of the groups that have been talked about.

African-Americans: They will vote 95%+ for Obama and will turn out in much greater numbers than before. In some places, New York for example, it won't change the electoral map at all, it will merely pad Obama's margin of victory. In some places, like Virginia, it may make a significant difference.

Hispanics: Obama had difficulty with this group in the primary, Bush did better with them than any previous Republican. McCain does well with them in Arizona. I think this may the election that tips Hisanics more firmly into the Republican camp. Immigration will be an issue that can spoil this though. All bets are off if Obama picks a Hispanic Veep.

White working class: This is the group that matters. Obama did not do well with them at all in the primaries. McCain's war record will play well. Many of these people were in their teens and twenties in the 80s and were the young Reagan Republicans. McCain's no Reagan, but this is one group that won't have a problem voting Republican.

Boomer Women. These are the "Soccer Moms" of 12 years ago. A lot of them wanted Hilliary and wanted her bad. These are the people that think that Hillary was subjected to all sorts of sexist outrages. Some will consider McCain, and might even vote for him. Some will, with reluctance, vote for Obama. Many will stay home. This is a problem for Obama, as they were a vital part of the coalition that elected Bill, and kept Kerry and Gore competitive.

Younger voters: Will go for Obama in big numbers in some parts of the country. But will less of a factor than commonly supposed.

Conservatives: Some will hold their nose and vote for McCain. Some will stay home (or vote third arty) to teach the Republicans a lesson. I think the election will depend on this ratio. If enough conservatives opt out, McCain is dead.