December 26, 2006

Explanations of Conservatism

Posted in Conservatism at 10:56 am by Paul Smith Jr

I came across these two quotes this weekend and thought they provided a good summary of conservatism, first in theory and then in practice.

Theory: “The essence of this body of ideas is the protection of the social order—family, neighborhood, local community, and region foremost—from the ravishments of the centralized political state.” – Robert Nisbet

Action: “Never go out to meet trouble. If you will just sit still, nine cases out of ten someone will intercept it before it reaches you.” – Calvin Coolidge

 Crossposted at Gazizza

December 24, 2006

Giuliani and Conservatives

Posted in National Politics at 9:33 am by Paul Smith Jr

DeWayne Wickham wrote this column that appeared in yesterday’s News-Journal discussing the difficulty Guiliani will face getting the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008. The meat of his argument is:

The hurdle between Giuliani and the Oval Office is his tumultuous personal life. His first marriage, to a cousin, ended with an annulment after 14 years. His second marriage lasted 18 years and ended in divorce in 2002.

As her marriage to Giuliani fell apart, second wife Donna Hanover sought a court order to keep New York’s then-mayor from bringing his girlfriend into the official mayoral residence. Giuliani responded by stripping Hanover of her official duties as the city’s first lady. Giuliani and the alleged “other woman,” Judith Nathan, married the following year.

I really haven’t heard much from conservatives about his marital history. Speaking only for myself, while I am bothered by his past in this area, it wouldn’t necessarily preclude me from voting for him. What will keep me from voting for him is his liberal views on social issues. He’s a strong supporter of abortion, even having supported partial birth abortion until he was thinking about running against Hillary Clinton for Senate in 2000. He supports gun control, and a variety of other liberal positions on social issues.

On the list of complaints I have about Giuliani, his marital history is far down the list. It’s his political views I have trouble with.

 Crossposted at Gazizza.

December 20, 2006

Don’t Feed the Beast, Starve It

Posted in National Politics at 7:13 pm by Paul Smith Jr

OpinionJournal.com’s Political Diary sent this note out on Monday:

The latest very good data on the federal budget last week didn’t get any attention from most of the media budget reporters, for whom good news is no news. Federal revenues are growing at a brisk pace, up 9% so far in the first two months of fiscal year 2007. That follows 11% growth in 2006 and 12% in 2005. Over the past 26 months, federal tax collections have grown faster than in any 26-month period in American history.

The fastest growth has been in corporate and personal income taxes, with the richest 1% of Americans now paying 34% of all federal taxes, an all-time high. Even better, federal spending is finally beginning to slow down. Expenditures are up 5% this fiscal year — still twice the inflation rate, but half the 10% growth we’ve seen since 2004. And the budget Congress approved last week slows spending growth to about 3% or 4% at least through February of 2007. Plus, no earmarks were included in that bill. Hooray.

This was a rare shining moment for the departing Republican majority and now puts intense pressure on Democrats, who advertised themselves as “fiscal conservatives,” to keep spending in check. If the Democratic Congress follows through, expect the budget deficit to plummet. We finished fiscal 2006 with a $248 billion deficit. David Malpass, chief economist at Bear Stearns, says the fiscal 2007 deficit could end up below $150 billion.

So what exactly is Bob Rubin talking about? The former Clinton Treasury Secretary, a Democratic elder statesman on fiscal policy, continues to lament the Bush investment tax cuts, enacted in 2003, though the Bush policy has yielded a gusher of new income tax revenue.

“You cannot solve this nation’s fiscal problem without increased revenue,” Mr. Rubin said in a speech last month, suggesting higher taxes should be Washington’s No. 1 priority right now. Mr. Rubin may be trying to shore up his legacy with the liberal media or preparing the way for a Hillary Clinton spendathon, but the numbers couldn’t be clearer: The nation has revenues aplenty; all that’s required is modest spending restraint from Congress.

They followed it up with this correction today:

The budget news just keeps getting better. The increase in federal tax receipts was 14.6% in fiscal 2005 and 11.8% in 2006, not 12% and 11% as PD reported on Monday. Sorry for the miscue.

I’m really not seeing this as something conservatives should be happy about.

While it may help bring liberals and other big-government types around to seeing the wisdom of tax cuts and does support the notion that Americans are overtaxed, it means that the government is taking still more money from Americans than it was before. Giving the spenders in Washington more money to spend will only result in them spending more money.

Our tax policy should reflect two goals at the present time:
1) letting the people keep more of their own money
2) cutting off the growth of revenue so that government doesn’t grow as large

A government with a lot of money to spend will find ever more creative ways to spend it and interfere with our lives. To promote the cause of freedom, we need to reduce the size of government and the only way to accomplish to reduce the amount of money the government has. Giving the government more money will not help us achieve the goal of limited government; we need to starve the beast or it will keep growing.

There’s another advantage to keeping government small as well: it focuses the attention on the things government should do, the things it needs to do well. As with any person or organization, when the government tries to do too much, it loses focus and doesn’t do much well at all. Focusing on the things that really matter is a good approach to take for an organization that’s lost it way. Government needs to take the same approach right now: it’s trying to do too much and doing the things that it should.

So, starve the beast and make it run the way it should. Don’t celebrate increased government revenues, let the people keep their money.

Crossposted at Gazizza.net

December 19, 2006

Gerry Fulcher: Still an idiot

Posted in State Politics at 2:46 pm by Hube

By far the weakest link of an otherwise upright talk radio line-up at WDEL is Gerry Fulcher. He now has his own show (due to the co. that runs the Sean Hannity show playing hardball and demanding WDEL run another syndicated offering in order to keep Hannity) from 3-4 in the afternoon. In what I believe what was his inaugural offering, Fulcher had Delaware State House Majority Leader (and perennial Fulcher nemesis) Wayne Smith on the phone to discuss whether “repressed memories” should be the sole basis on which to bring a suit and convict a person of child abuse. Granted, I’m am acquaintance of Smith, and some believe I always jump to his defense whenever someone criticizes him on a local blog, but he certainly had the upper hand in the “debate” with Fulcher yesterday.

First, Fulcher was his usual a**hole self, screaming and yelling at Smith and cutting him off before he was finished making his point(s). Amazingly, Fulcher is in favor of allowing the use of repressed memories as the sole bit of evidence against someone in a child abuse case. He chastised Smith for sponsoring an amendment which would not permit just this: It would mandate some other bit of evidence in conjunction with repressed memories. Here’s the actual language of the amendment:

“No action shall be maintained under this section based upon the memory of the victim that has been recovered through psychotherapy unless there is some evidence of the corpus delicti independent of such repressed memory.”

Smith cited (or, should I say, tried to cite) instances of repressed memories utilized in false allegations against people whereupon Fulcher denounced this use of “anecdotal evidence” — but then Fulcher went on “to bet” Smith that his anecdotal evidence would “be better” than his!!

The premise of “repressed memory” is a theory. And psychology is the most inexact of the [human body] sciences, after all. Just read a sampling of the article about RM:

“Repressed memories may or may not exist.”

“There currently exists a great controversy among researchers, treating professionals, law professionals, and the general public as to whether repressed memories actually exist, and even more heated controversy over whether recovered memories are valid, especially in the absence of corroboratory evidence.”

“Recovered Memory Therapy” (the process by which “repressed memories” are “recovered”) was the target of hundreds of malpractice lawsuits which led to the abandonment of this technique by the year 2000. Is this what Fulcher wants — multi-million dollar lawsuits in our small state thanks to this inexact science? Hey Ger — ever wonder why polygraph test results are impermissible in court? They aren’t even allowed in conjunction with other corraborating evidence! On the other hand, Smith’s amendment grants use of repressed memory evidence … as long as it is utilized along with some other bit of evidence.

This is just common sense — and fair. Fulcher’s attempt to make it sound like he was “tough on child abusers” (while Smith and others were “weak”) came off as farcical and infantile. The fact that Fulcher at one time degenerated into a rant where he stated that “it’s amazing how a big deal is made out of this while ‘no one’ cares about a poor black guy sitting in jail who is wrongly accused” (that Fulcher would support exclusively a sort of testimony that would add to more of this “poor black guy” obviously escaped him) establishes that he was the loser in that whole argument.

(Cross-posted at Colossus of Rhodey.)