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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Mike Huckabee is no conservative

Posted by Fred on January 16, 2008

Exit polls from Michigan suggest that Romney took the evangelical vote, with 35% to Huckabee’s 29%.  McCain was third in that group, with 22%.  This is good news.  Mike Huckabee is a lot of things, but he is no conservative.  He has some crossover appeal (taking 19% of the union vote in the Michigan GOP primary, an admittedly small group), but he’s not building a Reagan-style coalition.  He’s a Baptist preacher with a giant, throbbing soft spot for the nanny state.  And true conservatives should be scared of that, even if he says things you want to hear about abortion.

Take, for example, his position on obesity.  Huckabee is, of course, a Former Fat Guy.  So am I, but I’d never say this:

Changing the culture of obesity will require using public education campaigns, Huckabee said. He cited the 1970s seat belt campaign, the 1960’s anti-littering crusade, and the anti-smoking effort as models.

Seat belts were once an optional accessory when buying a car, but now seat belt use is mandatory and in some states stiff fines are imposed for not using them.

There’s no “culture of obesity” in America. There’s a bunch of people who haven’t made a decision to be healthy, and who are shielded from the consequences of their actions by a health care system largely funded by employers.  We don’t need to impose stiff fines on schools with junk food vending machines or parents who feed their kids McDonald’s on the way to Little League.  We need market-based solutions that make people pay more when their health care costs more.

Huckabee feels the same way about smoking:

At an August 2007 forum on cancer hosted by cyclist and activist Lance Armstrong and moderated by MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Huckabee said he supported a federal smoking ban.

“If you are president in 2009 and Congress brings you a bill to outlaw smoking nationwide in public places, would you sign it?” Matthews asked.

“I would, certainly would. In fact, I would, just like I did as governor of Arkansas, I think there should be no smoking in any indoor area where people have to work,” Huckabee responded, triggering applause from the crowd. Part of the interview has been posted on Youtube.com and viewed over 2,500 times.

Calling it a “workplace safety issue,” Huckabee added that the “same reason that we regulate that you can’t pour radon gas into a workplace is the same reason that we shouldn’t allow people to pour the toxic, noxious fumes of a cigarette into a place where people have to work.”

Again, no.  An employment relationship is a voluntary transaction between employer and employee.  The employer offers a certain salary for work under certain conditions, and the employee agrees to accept the salary for the work.  If the employer allows smoking, the employee need not work there.  A large, large majority of workplaces are smoke-free without a law requiring them to be, because that is what employees want.  Employers allowing smoking may find they have a hard time recruiting staff or have to pay more for that staff.  Employees choosing to work in a non-smoke-free environment can be presumed to have made that choice voluntarily.  Don’t like the smoke? Leave.  Yeah, it’s harsh, but the workplace is private property, and it doesn’t belong to you.

Huckabee’s views on the Constitution are equally troubling:

“[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it’s a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that’s what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards,” Huckabee said, referring to the need for a constitutional human life amendment and an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Again, this is the approach of a big government, nanny statist, not a Reaganite conservative.  Mike Huckabee wants the government in the break room, the lunch room and the bedroom.  He wants to increase taxes to pay for it, and amend the Constitution if necessary to allow it.  Romney, McCain and Giuliani are no friends of liberty either, but Huckabee is scary. Media savvy and a plucky underdog, maybe, but scary.  I’d vote for him for Cheerleader in Chief, but never President.

[via Reason’s Hit & Run]

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Presidential campaign now even more annoying

Posted by Fred on January 8, 2008

993938happy-bunny-throw-up-posters.jpgThis year’s presidential contest is beginning to make me throw up in my mouth a little (yeah, I know how annoying that phrase is, but I can’t think of another one right now). On the plus side, voters in New Hampshire appear poised to stick another dagger in the rotting corpse of Hillary’s campaign.  Those tears the other day seemed about as real as Roger Clemens’ denials on 60 Minutes.  or more to the point, no more real than Hillary’s depressed and depressing appearance on 60 Minutes with Bill in 1992, or her emotional outbursts about the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, or her one and only appearance in a pink suit in 1994, or her swings from strong-woman-the-voters-don’t-get to victim and back again.  See Jeff Taylor’s rundown on the Reason blog.

That does, however, leave one with Obama, destined to be America’s next motivational-speaker-in-chief.  Not sure what to make of Obama, as there’s not a whole lot of there there (yet).

On the other side of the aisle, Mike Huckabee’s star rose after Iowa, but will almost certainly crash again after New Hampshire, whose voters are less impressed by evolution-denying, will-of-God baptist preachers who have compared homosexuality to necrophilia than are their comrades in the Hawkeye State.  Ron Paul has always said the right sort of things 9and I’ve never been adverse to throwing away my vote on actual Libertarian party candidates, so why not a libertarianish Republican?) but he never had any real hope of getting the nomination unless a meteor crashed into one of the GOP debates he wasn’t invited to. Plus, some of the seedier side of his newsletter screeds are starting to see the light of day. Old history?  Probably. The work of someone other than Paul himself?  Maybe.  But none of that is relevant to the average voter, who really doesn’t want a President even tangentially associated with claims that Martin Luther King “seduced underage girls and boys” or that “95% of the black males in [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

So where’s that leave someone like me, a fiscally conservative, kind-of-libertarian Hayekian liberal? Rudy Giuliani? John McCain? Mitt Romney?  No thanks. It’s just depressing.

banana_slug.jpgObligatory update: so Hillary won in an “upset.”  Given that she had a 12 point lead in New Hampshire three weeks ago, that we’re calling this slim victory an upset is somewhat telling.  Of course, NH voters also picked McCain, so who knows what any of this means. I’d still vote for a banana slug over Clinton.

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Who Pays for the Government? Not You.

Posted by Fred on December 18, 2007

Alex Tabarrok points to Congressional Budget Office data (summary report – PDF; raw data – XLS) that states the obvious – by any measure, our tax system is progressive, in which the “rich” pay their fair share of taxes.  The data suggests that the top 20% in fact pay more than their share of taxes.  The top quintile of taxpayers are the only group that pays a higher share of federal taxes than their share of total income.  These taxpayers earn 48.6% of total income, yet pay 68.7% of federal taxes:

  Share of Total Federal Tax Liabilities Share of Total Income
Year 0-20% 21-40% 41-60% 61-80% Top 20% 0-20% 21-40% 41-60% 61-80% Top 20%
2000 1.1 4.8 9.8 17.5 66.6 5.2 10.9 15.1 21.0 48.3
2001 1.0 4.9 10.1 18.4 65.3 5.4 11.9 16.3 21.1 45.8
2002 1.0 4.9 10.4 18.8 64.8 5.5 11.8 16.3 21.7 45.5
2003 1.0 4.5 10.0 18.4 65.8 5.4 11.7 16.1 21.6 46.1
2004 0.9 4.4 9.7 17.6 67.2 5.1 11.1 16.1 20.8 47.5
2005 0.8 4.1 9.3 16.9 68.7 5.0 10.9 15.7 20.3 48.6

Note that this data is for total federal tax liability, including the payroll taxes that arguably affect lower-income taxpayers more than does federal income tax (the total share of federal income tax liability for the bottom two quartiles in 2005 was -3.9% and -0.9%). And the share of total taxes paid by the top 20% hasn’t declined over the last quarter-century.  While other taxpayers’ share was flat to declining, the top quartile’s share has increased:

share.png

One can argue that the federal tax system doesn’t penalize the rich enough, or doesn’t redistribute wealth enough (one would be wrong, but one could argue it).  What one cannot claim, however, is that the current tax system unfairly favors the “rich”.  This should have been obvious, but given the rhetoric in Iowa, apparently it isn’t.

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Earth2Tech: Climate Change is Gonna Cost Us, So Give Me Your Wallet

Posted by Fred on November 29, 2007

Earth2Tech asks a question: “Would you, for a limited amount of time, give up a small percentage of your income to stop global warming?”

Simple answer: No.

Slightly more complicated answer: It depends, given that the question is fundamentally unfair and incomplete. Whether I would give up some of my income in order to (maybe) produce some inchoate good (no one thinks we can stop climate change for 1.6% of global GDP, but maybe we can change the rate of change) depends on the relative severity of my sacrifice compared to the benefit produced.  In other words, what are you giving up? I’m willing to give a dollar to a panhandler, and if 999 other people gave him a dollar, he’d have $1,000.  But I wouldn’t give him $1,000 so that those 999 other people could buy a burger off the Dollar Menu.  So don’t just ask me to give up some of my income without telling me what you’re giving up.  And by “you” I mean “the other 6 billion people on Earth.”

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Obama calls Internet accusation about his patriotism a ‘dirty trick’

Posted by Fred on November 9, 2007

Wow. Lots of people actually care that Barack Obama may or may not have put his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance and/or National Anthem.

The e-mail in question shows a photo of Obama, as well as rival candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson during Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s steak fry in September. Harkin’s wife, Ruth, is also pictured. Richardson, Clinton, and Harkin all have their right hands on their heart while Obama’s hands are at his sides.

Read the comments on the CNN story – commenters actually say that Obama not wearing a flag pin on his lapel or making a mistake during the national anthem should disqualify him from running for President.  I’m no Obama fan – he’s better than some Democrats, but he still plays too fast and loose with my money – but this is simply absurd.  Not wearing a tiny metal American flag on one’s lapel (that was undoubtedly made in a Chinese factory) no more makes one unpatriotic than wearing one makes one a patriot.  What this really means is that the American presidential campaign season is FAR too long.  The Iowa caucuses are still two months away and we’ve already run out of things to talk about.

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Should have issued a DMCA takedown notice on himself

Posted by Fred on September 28, 2007

According to the Times-Dispatch, Dr. Esam Omeish, recently appointed by Gov. Kaine to a state immigration commission, resigned from the commission after a controversial video featuring Dr. Omeish was discovered on YouTube.

Online videos show Omeish at an August rally in 2006, shortly after Israel invaded Lebanon, condemning the “illegal and repugnant” occupation by Israel of Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza.

He condemns the “Israeli war machine,” the “barbaric, indiscriminate” attacks by Israel and accuses Israel of “massacres and genocides” committed against the Palestinian people. He says Congress is guided by an “Israeli agenda.”

I have no interest in turning this into a political blog, so draw your own conclusions about the good doctor. Several other things about the story are more interesting to me. I hadn’t seen Muslim-American as a demographic designation before. You don’t see Christian-American or Buddhist-American, so using Muslim-American suggests that we now consider adherence to Islam to have moved beyond the religious to the political – only Jews and (maybe) Sikhs are generally thought of this way. Not exactly a novel concept, but interesting. The T-D’s archives find 36 references to Muslim-American, most references to the Muslim American Society.

Also interesting is that YouTube will officially become part of the vetting process. Of course, it probably should have been part of that process already, but it’s nice of Google to provide such a useful government service. Finally, it’s interesting that the video was called to the governor’s attention by a caller on his radio show.  Those shows are generally beyond useless, but not this time.

Posted in Government, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »