Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Launching The Unrepentant McCain Supporter AKA 'The Unrepentant McCain Supporter' is a forward looking blog created by a self-ascribed McCain supporter/volunteer. This blog will focus on current topics from the perspective of an independent voter. The title of the blog is a 'tongue in cheek' nod to all the backward looking punditry that dissects (or vents) about the campaign of a defeated candidate.

Arlen Specter Switches Parties

Wow, this is fascinating... The Washington Post Reports Alen Specter is Switching Parties.
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.

Specter's decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next Senator from Minnesota. (Former Sen. Norm Coleman is appealing Franken's victory in the state Supreme Court.)

"I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary," said Specter in a statement. "I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election."

He added: "Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

Hog Wild over the Swine Flu

It seems that as a country we love medical dramas. Not just the hour long tv dramas, but the dramatic 'next plague' media stories that pop up every couple years. There was the bird flu, e coli outbreaks, triple E, and one of the earliest panic starters West Nile Virus. Certainly for anyone contracting an ailment of this sort this is a serious matter, but can't the media do a little math from time to time and make a better judgment about what is panic worthy. Some of these health concerns may simply warrant a basic alert, and not the 24-7 coverage they usually receive. I know surgical masks and airport warning signs make for great tv, but isn't this shtick getting old?

McCain Again Correct on Torture

As an unrepentant McCain Supporter I find myself again in complete agreement with Senator McCain. One can believe that past actions were wrong, and that a criminal probe is inappropriate and potentially harmful.

Obama Bipartisanship at 100 Days

The AP article 'Obama Bipartisanship Push Has Mixed Success' does a decent job at summarizing the attempts at bipartisanship in the first 100 days of the Obama presidency. This was a hallmark of the Obama campaign a deserves scrutiny as it was a large part of what supporters claimed made, then candidate Obama, such an agent of change.

So as an unrepentant McCain supporter, in my view there are three categories to focus on - foreign policy, economic policy, and practical politics.

In foreign policy, right off the bat he wins big points for keeping Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense. Robert Gates has proven that he is a pro, and while he doesn't appear to be someone who seeks accolades, he is someone who deserves them. Also a positive, his policy on Iraq and Afghanistan seem quite reasonable. Overall he's appointed competent and not wildly political representatives to foreign policy positions, and one has to respect that. On the negative side, meeting with Hugo Chavez along with that goofy book exchange was not impressive. The rhetoric in Europe about America being arrogant could be problematic and appeared rather partisan. Yet he did win the election, and neither event is a real departure from what he campaigned on.

A hot topic right now is how to handle the 'enhanced interrogation/torture' issue. While the Obama administration has fumbled this issue a bit, in the end they score big points in taking a forward looking stance. This is said as someone who believes that the U.S. should not torture, and should hold the Geneva Convention's definition of torture as the standard. The problems with investigations, along with the threat of prosecutions, are numerous. A huge one is that this has the potential to damage the CIA and its operatives. This is a vital institution, and its members do an important and often thankless job. Degrading their capabilities and membership in what is likely to be a highly partisan, endless series of hearings is not good for the CIA or the country. If the Obama adminstration chose to go after the Bush administration on this issue they would have betrayed their campaign manta of 'change.' It appears they are standing up to the left, and therefor their grade for for foreign policy bipartisanship is A-.

Economic Policy: Unfortunately, there has been virtually no attempt to be bipartisan on economic issues. Granted the Obama administration was likely handicapped by the leadership of their own party like Nancy Pelosi, who said about the stimulus bill, "We won the election, we wrote the bill." Comments from Harry Reid that he doesn't work for President Obama likely have made attempts at bipartisanship more difficult. Yet one particularly disappointing moment from President Obama was when he gave a highly partisan speech to Democrats about the stimulus bill. If President Obama had made more of an effort to be bipartisan on fiscal matters the Tea Party protests would likely have not been nearly as successful as they were. There is a growing concern from regular Americans that there is simply too much government spending, and too much government involvement in business an economic matters. The Obama administrations best defense to this is that President Bush started many of these policies. That's true but the buck stops at Obama now, and his spending is eclipsing the previous administration (who didn't do much to champion fiscal conservatism) by a long shot. The Obama administrations economic bipartisanship grade, D.

Finally, how well is the Obama administration doing in general at being bipartisan? One positive, they didn't hang Senator Lieberman out to dry for supporting Senator McCain as some feared might happen. A negative, as mentioned in the AP article, in a very partisan move they stirred the pot by announcing that Rush Limbaugh was the head of the Republican party. They appeared to enjoy the turmoil it created amongst prominent Republicans and kept the Limbaugh banter going for quite some time. They may have scored political points off of this, but they also revealed themselves players of what was often reviled in the campaign as 'old school politics.' President Obama has kept bipartisanship on the table as a goal, but the actions don't quite fit the rhetoric and he hasn't shown leadership in this area. Yet again noting that he is likely receiving pressure from members of his own party to be more partisan there is still hope for a more bipartisan tact in the White House and in Washington. His grade for general bipartisanship C.

There is room for improvement, but he should be given credit for not being either wrecklessly partisan, particularly on foreign policy, or succumbing to the desires of some in his party to become angry and backward looking. There is quite some concern about how far left economic policies will go, and that Republicans have been excluded from the process. Yet all hope is not lost. President Obama is very popular, and if he chooses, he still has the opportunity to be a bipartisan president. The ball is in his court.

Great Idea - Helix Wind

This sounds like a great idea all-around; small-scale, ethetically-pleasing, wind turbines. While not yet at a price point accessible for most individuals, small businesses (or large) could save money, and in some cases could even supply energy back into the grid. This is one of those unique cases where regardless of political ideology there are all sorts of reasons to like this technology. Whether it is a pro-environment rationale or an energy independence approach, it is hard to deny that this is an excellent idea.

Discription from Helix Wind's website.
Small wind energy systems are one of the fastest growing forms of customer-sited or “distributed” electric generation and one of the best energy investments for small businesses and homeowners.

Small (or “residential”) wind energy systems typically generate just enough power to meet the demands of a home, farm or small business. They range from 400 watts to 500 kilowatts or more and typically consist of a single turbine (vertical or horizontal). They can be significant power sources and have proven records of performance, even in locations with modest winds.

The success of the commercial wind industry has propelled significant advances in small turbine design, making these systems more reliable, quieter and safer than those introduced in past decades. And though most of the electricity they produce is used on-site, excess generation can be fed into distribution lines, strengthening the electric grid.

Are You A Radical?

Tea Party protesters won a victory today as the mainstream media could not ignore their protests like they have in the past. As expected some of the media described the protesters as radicals (ever-classy and most-trusted Anderson Cooper of CNN used an obscene joke to describe the attendees) despite the pictures showing peaceful gatherings of people of all ages in attendance. Yet media logic dictates if you don't love Obama, you must be crazy.

Yet it's not just the media searching for crazy. A report was leaked by DHS on "Rightwing Extremism." To quote the report,
Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures.

Dang it, I'm a radical. There were signs, once in high school I got a detention for a overdue library book; even back then I was bad. My internet chatter about obscene government spending has all been a clever ploy to manipulate my readers to take radical action like, 'vote the bums out,' or 'tell your representatives what you think.' I tell you I'm bad, and if I didn't have a job or a cold I would have been one of those crazy tea party animals too. You need further proof that I'm a radical? How about this...
Rightwing extremist views bemoan the decline of U.S. stature and have recently focused on themes such as the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability to China and India, Russia’s control of energy resources and use of these to pressure other countries, and China’s investment in U.S. real estate and corporations as a part of subversion strategy.

Well there you have it. I'm concerned that China owns us, and all our debt, I must be a radical. Granted, I'm a centrist on guns and immigration, and lean a bit left on the social issues discussed in the report, but imagine my surprise to find out that I've been cavorting with other radicals over the past 2 years by volunteering for the McCain campaign. Pro-life, pro-second amendment, high concentration of veterans, don't let the good humor, sarcastic wit, family values, and helpful manner fool you - we were all a big bunch of radicals, just ask MSNBC.

Now I know there is a serious side to this report. Every group in every country has its nutballs, and its the governments main job to protect its citizens from radicals of all sorts. Yet this seems like a veiled attempt to blur the line between staunch conservatives and radical Klan-like groups, when in reality that is a very clear and distict line. Veterans in particular are owed an apology for their less than flattering portrayal in this report. As for me, I'm going to keep chattering about the economy, and take pride in the fact that someone out there thinks I'm radical.

Tea Party Protesters Deserve to be Heard

RCP article CNN Versus the Tea Parties does an excellent job in explaining why so many in the middle class don't like Washington's big spending. The argument about taxes often devolves into condescending remarks from the left stating that these people obviously don't realize that their taxes will not go up. This is then followed by rather useless statements from the right trying to drum up sympathy for the wealthy who pay a much higher percentage of taxes. Both sides miss two key point; trust and math. What many of the Tea Party participants were saying to the government was,

'I don't trust you with my money.'

'Who will pay for this trillion dollar deficit?'

'How does this colosal debt really help the country and the economy in the long run?'

'How will you avoid massive inflation if you keep spending at this rate?'

Fairness arguments fall flat, because life's not fair, and trying to convince people that the wealthy have a raw deal will not engender much sympathy. 'What works,' would be a much better tact for fiscal conservatives, as the Tea Parties showed many people do not feel that reckless government spending 'works.'
What Ms. Roesgen and others like her do not understand is that some people are interested in more than their own narrow self-interest. Perhaps the protestor she interviewed, who was holding his 2-year-old son, is eligible for a tax rebate. And perhaps his state will get a juicy piece of the stimulus money. It is possible, just possible, that such a bribe does not influence him. Perhaps it doesn't buy his support because he is skeptical that his taxes can remain low when the federal government is embarked on a record-shattering spending spree. He may be offended by the bailout culture, and worried that the obligations of taxpayers cannot remain low when it seems that every irresponsible borrower, failed car company, and free spending state is being rescued by the federal government. Additionally, he may be dubious that the government will spend the money wisely. It has been rumored that government spending has produced waste, fraud, inefficiency, and corruption. But he also may simply believe that engorging the government and enfeebling the private sector -- no matter who is writing the checks -- is not good for the economic or spiritual health of the country.