Saturday, December 3, 2011

When Sheriff Joe Arpaio Becomes A Spokesman For The Tea Party, The Tea Party is Over.

Understand, I am fascinated by self-promoters. I begrudgingly respect a leg-spreading, husband-stealing, Dr. Laura Schlessinger who invented a persona of professional prude and retired in luxury. I am amazed that always flabby Richard Simmons could wear loose fitting clothes and ascend to the lofty status of fitness guru. I marvel at the nails-on-chalkboard delivery of Curtis Sliwa could somehow secure an annoyingly inarticulate man a cozy niche in the forgiving world of talk radio.

And as an avoidant personality, I am interested in professional narcissists in much the same way that an anorexic might find gluttons and gluttony intriguing. And yes, I respect Sheriff Joe Arpaio for the cheesy publicity stunts that have always garnered him the Sinclair treatment from the buffoons in both the mainstream and the conservative media. And yes, I am a hopeless opportunist wannabe who seethes with envy when I witness a carpetbagger extraordinaire work his magic. But there is nothing Tea Party about Joe Arpaio.

Joe Arpaio does not support, advocate for or advance the cause of fiscal conservatism. He is not a deregulator, a minarchist or a proponent of the "small is beautiful" school of governance. But in his unending quest for the spotlight, Sheriff Joe has crashed our party.

I was proud when a Wisconsin Tea Party group extended a "Not Welcome" mat to GOP hack Tommy Thompson. But you hammer one lump out of the carpet and it rises somewhere else. Some of us suspected that the Tea Party would eventually be co-opted by a smooth operator. But I did not think the hijacking would occur so soon and I did not think we would be so easily duped.

Frankly, I thought the Tea Party would meet its demise in the form of something other than a tired, tireless and tiresome publicity whore who will hog any spotlight at any cost and at any effort. Rest in peace Tea Party. You are in Sheriff Joe's custody now.


I can't claim prophecy for this one. I stated that after all of the personal attacks on Obama critics, Tea Party types as well as front running or prominent GOP candidates, Team Chicago might get a taste of its own medicine. I was unaware that just two days prior, a website posted a series of Larry Sinclair interviews. Hillbuzz shares our disgust at the preferential treatment of Barack Obama versus the treatment Herman Cain has endured.

This is not to be missed

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wildcard Wednesday: Larry Sinclair in Delaware


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Let Them Manipulate!

It might be a truism that roughly 40% of Americans identify themselves as conservative vs. 20% who identify themselves as liberal. This is probably a case where semantics trick our perceptions. Let's skip the misuse of two words (liberal and conservative) right now. Let's look at the grab bag called conservative.

First, social conservatism in the activist sense, is incompatible with fiscal conservatism. And there are countless schisms within the ranks of social conservatism. But let's put social conservatism on the shelf for the time being.

Among fiscal conservatives there are broad philosophical differences between free traders and protectionists. There is also a rift between strong dollar proponents vs. weak dollar proponents. I am a strong dollar proponent.

When I hear Donald Trump or Lou Dobbs or Greta Van Sustern bemoan the Chinese "manipulating" their currency. By manipulation they mean devaluing. This is looking Secretariat in the mouth. The Chinese government has decided to shaft their own people so that sneakers formerly priced at $16 can be sold for $9. China citizens lose. Consumers all over the world win.

A weak currency might benefit a few niches, a few select special interests, but a strong currency benefits every consumer and every payee. So when the Manipulation Mob raise their pitch forks to the heavens, they cheer on the devaluing of the dollar (at least against the yuan.) If they cannot grasp the advantages of a strong dollar then we have a case of "with friends like these..."

I say, "Let Them Manipulate!"

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Fork In The Road

A lot can be said for reading Hayek, Mises, and Sowell but the most important economist for our times is Milton Friedman. I cannot speak to the origins of the monetarist school of economics but I can tell you that at one point the school became one and the same with the work of Friedman.

To quote Friedman, "inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon." That simple statement has as many implications as just about any statement ever uttered. But let us narrow our focus to the matters at hand. National spending is not subject to the constraints of other spending. For-profit corporations, not-for-profit corporations, universities, municipalities, states, families and individuals cannot print their own money. Only nations can do that (we can sides step the merits of private currency for now.)

The nature of nations is such that leaders usually spend in an irresponsible manner. It's the way of the world. Nations commit economic suicide on a regular basis.

We can be a bit dramatic and say that eventually a free spending country faces a fork in the road but actually the fork is always there. Perhaps monetarism is better suited to nautical metaphor (Bill Ayers will appreciate that) than to pilgrim metaphor. But the choice is always there: Continue on a course of ever increasing spending or cease spending in a reckless manner.

What has to be emphasized and reemphasized is that both options are painful. If through some miracle Ron Paul were elected president, Rand Paul became Senate Majority Leader, Paul Ryan became Speaker of The House and Mrs. Paul replaced Ben Bernanke, the brakes would finally be applied. But it would be painful. We would have a recession that would drag on for months or even years. And yet, this would be less painful and less destructive in the long run than unbridled spending causes a Weimar situation.

But a necessary recession can be a tough sell for citizens who do no speak German or SchweizerDeutsch (not sure how Austrian speaking people would handle the situation.) The German collective memory focuses on the Weimar currency collapse that ushered in Adolf Hitler. America's collective nightmare is the Great Depression. America did not gain wisdom from The Depression but they did learn a couple of simplistic ideas. 1. Economic activity is good. 2. Economic inactivity is bad.

It is the American fear of economic inactivity that has lead to reckless spending. Washington does not distinguish between economic activity and work. Funding a Department of Education (or a Solyndra) creates jobs and generates economic activity. But does the Department of Education promote useful services and improve the education of America? You can answer that one.

Economists have used an addiction model to explain government spending. We can quit cold turkey and save our lives or we can delay a fate that will ultimately be much worse. One of the problems with this model is that withdrawal in the economic sphere lasts for months or even years. It's not a three day spin dry. No weekend cold turkey. Uh uh. This is a transformation where real people, even good people, get hurt.

A fiscal conservative will have a hard time making the case for the lesser of two evils. The media love hyperspending and Harvard students now walk out on economic courses that have "a conservative bias." Life sometimes has a conservative bias. Truth sometimes has a conservative bias. Economics does not so much have a conservative bias as conservatism has an economic bias.

A hard rain is going to fall. The best case scenario is a short, sharp recession. But I doubt if America has the political will to endure a short term period of inactivity. Our government funds a lot of waste but the beneficiaries of government waste buy automobiles and flat screens and cell phones. It won't just be the pigs who get slaughtered. Bad things will happen to good people.

Does Gingrich or Romney have the courage to discuss the necessary choices we have to make? If elected, do they have the courage to enact decisions that will be beneficial in the long run but brutal in the short term? I don't know. But it is time for the rest of us to acknowledge the difficult choices we have to make. A $15,000,000,000,000 debt cannot be painlessly erased.

The GOP Field

This will be only the second time that I will vote in a Republican Presidential Primary, 2008 being the other. The media like to bash the GOP candidates but I think it is a strong field. After all, Romney was my second choice in 2008 (after Paul.) Now he is my fifth choice after Bachmann, Newt, Cain and Johnson. I will take any of the 2012 crop over McCain, Huckabee and Guliani. And yes, I will take any of them over Obama.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"The Union Leader" Endorses Gingrich

"The Union Leader" might be the last newspaper endorsement that matters. It mattered in 2008 when they endorsed McCain and brought his campaign back from the dead. I'm not sure if it will matter this time around. Romney has the endorsement of Senator Ayotte, former Senators Gregg and Sununu and former Governor Sununu. Romney owns property on Lake Winnepesaki (I think that's how you spell it)and is an honorary Granite Head if not an official native son. I have no idea how he antagonized The UL but they don't like him.

I don't think I have even paged through "The Union Leader" since 2008. I was working on the Ron Paul campaign and the Leader "forgot" to run a full page Paul ad on the Saturday before the election. I am sure they refunded the campaign but at the time, Paul was polling second and they wanted McCain to win. They seriously offered to run the ad after the primary. They can be pretty damn sleazy.

I don't know why "The Union Leader" selects the candidates that they select. William Loeb used to call divorced men wife swappers but Reagan was OK with him and Loeb was married three times. (His Wikipedia entry, if it is to be believed, is quite colorful.) At any rate, "The Union Leader" endorsed Newt. For Romney, that is a cold slap in the face.