State of the Union

The Book on Obama

As written by the always insightful and provocative Steve Sailer — and available as a free download.

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It’s The Economy, Cupid

During the Great Depression, we are often told, couples and families survived by pulling together. Marriage and family, those eternal institutions, held strong as everything collapsed around them. But how will today’s familial bonds cope with the strain of an economic disaster? In an age of quick-and-easy divorce, it seems likely that many marriages and families will tear apart.

Never fear. The “Today” show, that guardian of moral integrity, is giving advice on how to “recession-proof your marriage.” With golden tips like, “Get big on powwows,” it looks as though we’ll be ok.

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General Discontent

Gen. David Petraeus took over as CENTCOM chief at 10 a.m., but don’t count on the White House sending champagne. When the administration had a surge to sell, his superior knowledge of the region, grasp of strategy, and commitment to victory made objections a waste of the great man’s time. Hearings devolved into medal polishing sessions. Moveon.org ventured a lame pun on his name—only to be slapped down by the starstruck Senate. Petraeus for President?” wondered the New York Sun.

What a difference a year makes. In acclimating to his new role as the top American commander in the Middle East, Petraeus thought it might be nice to call on the neighbors. ABC reports that he proposed a trip to Syria—and was immediately shot down by “Bush administration officials at the White House, State Department, and Pentagon.” Instead, they bombed inside Syria’s borders and warned Damascus to “clean up the global threat that is in your back yard.”

ABC goes on to report, “Officials familiar with Petraeus’ thinking on the subject say he wants to engage Syria in part because he believes that U.S. diplomacy can be used to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran.” This isn’t a one off: he told a Heritage Foundation audience earlier this month, “You have to talk to enemies.” Try fitting those lyrics to the tune to “Barbara Ann.”

Now assuming that the CENTCOM boss runs a tight operation, it’s a safe bet that those familiar officials weren’t freelancing. Petraeus wanted his dissent public. Maybe he’s poll watching and the play is cynical; he isn’t a man without ambition. But it’s more likely that even General Surge is squeamish about four more years of a foreign policy all about more boots and more bombs.

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Party of Delusion

If the Republican party is going to recover from the well-earned defeat they have coming next week, it will require an honest assessment the reasons for their failure from conservative leaders and thinkers. I’ve seen little evidence that Republican-oriented conservatives are up to the task.

A good example is this post from Robert Stacy McCain, who was engaged in some preemptive complaining about media spin of next week’s election. McCain describes the GOP as “the party of low taxes, limited government, traditional values and strong defense.” Only the part about taxes is accurate. the GOP would be more accurately described as the party of tax cuts, debt, cronyism, aggressive war and cultural resentment. The formula that worked for a couple of election cycles, but the party’s chickens have come home to roost.

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When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Again

There is no guarantee that a President Obama, or President McCain won’t slowly shift big chunks of the more than 140,000 U.S military now in Iraq to Afghanistan in 2009. The Pentagon is already suggesting it needs 20,000 more troops for the troubled region and both Republicans and Democrats seem to be on the same yellowed page regarding the ability to finish Afghanistan, whatever that means.

So that ultimately signals more deployments for our approximately 1.2 million National Guard and Reservists — many of whom have served more than one tour in Afghanistan and/or Iraq already. We know all about the strain these wars have put on the entire military — including recruitment, retention, health and welfare of the troops and of veterans. But as the the news of “recession” finally becomes reality for America’s families, it’s worth reminding ourselves and our elected representatives that we can’t keep rotating part-time soldiers in and out of theater indefinitely and expect they will be very competitive in the job market when they return (the same goes for active duty leaving the service). Nor can we expect to recruit the numbers we need to fight a “forever war” if employers are increasingly wary of hiring citizen soldiers who may not be there from one moment to the next.

From the upcoming 60 Minutes Nov. 2:

Trucking company executive Dave Miller complains his company is bearing an extra financial burden by adhering to the law.

Workers’ deployment, coming sometimes with just three weeks notice, costs recruitment, training and sometime relocation fees for their replacements. “The private employers cannot…support the full cost of defending this nation,” says Miller. There is currently no tax incentive or subsidy to help defray these costs for private employers and Miller has petitioned Congress to offer relief. “If the military is going to take our people 30 percent of the time, let them pay 30 percent of the healthcare costs,” he tells (Leslie) Stahl.

The burden on private companies is causing them to discriminate against reservists and guardsmen, says Ted Daywalt, president of Vet Jobs.com. Such discrimination would be illegal and it is hard to prove, but “You can prove it to a point,” says Daywalt. “There are surveys done that show that upwards of 70 percent of the employers won’t hire a person who’s active in the Guard and Reserve,” he tells Stahl.

Cynically, one can assert that the current economic crisis — including rising unemployment rates (Michigan is now at some 8.7 percent) — will boost military recruitment because more young men and women will be looking for the job security or the extra paycheck every month and dough for college. But that still doesn’t address the more than 1.7 million who have already served their country nobly in-theater and are eager to settle down into private sector careers, raise a family, and get on with their lives. Perhaps the recession will be the exit strategy : aside from there being less support for a trillion dollar war, you can only burden the volunteers so much before they realize they’ve been taken for granted.

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Timely Nostalgia

TAC readers might enjoy my take on the late William F. Buckley Jr.’s Flying High, his memoir of the Goldwater era and early years of National Review. There are parallels between the Right described in Buckley’s book and that of today — both have been fractious, even severely so. Philosophical disagreements among conservatives in the 1950s were sharp and intense, and the right side (in my view, at least) didn’t always prevail. But it’s telling to compare that epoch, with all its failings, to the situation we face today, in which so much of the Right has become inarticulate and seemingly has no philosophical moorings at all. Divisions on the Right are nothing new, but the sacrifice of all independent thought upon the altar of political advantage — that’s a recent development.

As I suggest in my review, I think the answer to the Right’s difficulties lies not so much in returning to the age of Goldwater, but in recovering the vitality that led to the Goldwater movement in the first place. And that means looking back to the traditions of Robert Taft and the Old Right.

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Comrade Obama?

If Barack Obama is not a socialist, he does the best imitation of one I’ve ever seen.

Under his tax plan, the top 5 percent of wage-earners have their income tax rates raised from 35 percent to 40 percent, while the bottom 40 percent of all wage-earners, who pay no income tax, are sent federal checks.

If this is not the socialist redistribution of wealth, what is it? Read More…

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Lawson for Congress

I’ve blogged about William “B.J.” Lawson, who’s running to represent North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, a couple of times before. He’s an outstanding candidate, endorsed by Ron Paul and for sound money, slashing government expenditures, and a noninterventionist foreign policy. If the GOP had more candidates like Lawson, it wouldn’t be in the sorry shape it’s now in. And if there’s to be any turnaround — in the country, not just in the GOP — we need to elect Lawson and candidates like him.

Democrat Rep. David Price, a 20-year incumbent, is apparently trying to secure re-election by tying Lawson, of all people, to George W. Bush. The only thing they have in common is an “R.” The Lawson campaign is raising money to counter Price’s scurrilous ads. I’ve just donated another $50 for their effort, and I recommend that any TAC readers out there who can spare the funds do likewise. The 4th is a Democratic-leaning district, but Lawson has a shot, and even if he doesn’t win the better he does the better the chances of nominating more candidates like him in the future.

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Mystery Science Endorsement 2008

It occurred to me that I should make my endorsement before it’s too late. I support Mike Nelson. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Joel Hodgson is great, and he certainly deserves credit for being the creator. But Nelson had a certain goofy everyman quality that fit Mystery Science Theater 3000 perfectly. I defy anyone to watch Mike and the bots riff on Girl in the Gold Boots or Track of the Moon Beast without laughing hysterically.

I picked up a copy of the 20th anniversary collection of the show a couple of days ago, so naturally it is on my mind; but I can’t help thinking that there is some other matter on which I might want to make an endorsement, but for the life of me I can’t think of what it is. Probably nothing important.

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Voting and consequences

As a consequentialist I regard voting in an election not as a symbolic act that would demonstrate my ideological purity but as one that could actually make a difference. At the same time, based on the concept of rational ignorance I also recognize that I’m contstrained by my average level of intelligence and my available time and information in my ability to make a perfect informed decision.

For example, I cannot predict whether the Democrats will end-up with 60 seats in the Senate or whether McCain will die in office or who McCain and Obama will nominate as Supreme Court judges or whether the socialization of the American economy will be even more drastic under a Democratic administration than under this Republican administation (will the Democrats consider taking the socialist road by, say, nationalizing insurnace companies and banks or saving the auto industry?) or whether the Republicans will reinvent themselves if they lose the election (they probably won’t).

What I do know is that if you agree that conservatism is the negation of ideology, the major current threat to those espousing this political philosophy has not been communism, fascism, socialism, or even multiculturalism and feminism, but the radical ideology of neoconservatism that as the editors of this magazine have pointed out again and again, has been responsible for an uncecessary, illegal, long, costly and bloody war that has damaged long-term U.S. geo-strategic and economic interests and endangered the freedoms of the American people (among many other things). That I know.

And I also know that John McCain has been a staunch supporter of this anti-conservative ideology and has promised to continue pursuing policies based on the same ideology. You could argue that he’ll be forced to readjust to the political and economic realities and to embrace a more realistic policies. Again, I can’t predict that would happen and I’m not willing to test it by electing him.

I disagree with many of the policies proposed by Obama, including the “internationalist” agenda that he shares with the entire Washington establishment. But it’s clear to me that Obama doesn’t subscribe to the radical neoconservative ideology and that his approach resembles that of the more “realist” foreign policies of George W. H. Bush and Bill Clinton. And since the presidential election is a zero-sum game — the only way to defeat McCain and his neoconservative allies is by electing Obama, that is what I’ll try to do on Tuesday.

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