Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for Obama's Vice-President?

Kathleen Sebelius, the Democratic governor of Kansas, may be the ideal V.P. for Barack Obama, both for the election and for the administration.

She is a uniter, not a divider. Her Lt. Governor was a Republican.

She is a governor, which would counterbalance Obama being a Senator.

She is more concerned with governance, that is, making Kansas work, than with ideology.

She is supporting Obama for the nomination.

Is the time ripe for a new moderate party?

After I posted the "Simple platform" entry, I read "A Case of the Blues" by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New York Times Magazine, March 30, 2008. It centers on Tom Cole, OK-R, and chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee and the daunting task he has to get Republicans elected to Congress.

Given the shift away from some of the ideologies of the Republican Party, would a party that was seen as more practical make serious inroads on the "Two-Party System"? It is past time for a party to do what the Republicans did in 1854-1860 - forming a party and within six years winning the presidency.

Simple platform for a moderate party

Many party platforms are laundry lists of ideas and proposed legislation that members want or oppose. It is impossible for candidates to act on so many ideas or even present coherent views on all of them. The 2004 platforms were 43 pages(Democrats) and 92 pages (Republicans). In 2008 The Independence Party of Minnesota has a reasonably simple platform, but its seven-page platform contains too many gimmicks as solutions to certain problems.

I would feel more comfortable supporting a party that had a simple platform like the following:

1. A civil society needs to strive for a balance between individual freedom and the common good.
2. The U.S. Constitution should be a starting point for determining this balance.
3. A civil society will never have complete agreement as to where the balance is.
4. Today's solutions may become tomorrow's problems.
5. All else is commentary.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

To Boycott or not to boycott, that is the question

Because of China's crackdown on Tibetan dissidents, some are calling for a boycott of the Olympics and others are saying that engagement is a better policy.

I think the decision should rest with the individual athletes and not governments. A boycott by hundreds of athletes would have a greater impact than a boycott by one or several governments. What purpose was served by the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics?

Suppose the U.S. had boycotted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Then Jesse Owen winning a gold medal would not give lie to Hitler's Aryan supremacy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Source of our freedom

“I believe there’s an Almighty,” President Bush said, “and I believe a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child is freedom.” Quoted in Maureen Dowd's column, March 18, 2008, New York Times.

Bush also said, "Since that first 4th of July, some 43 million Americans have defended our freedom in times of war." (President Bush Thanks Military on Independence Day at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, July 4, 2006)

Which is it? The Almighty gave us freedom or the military fought for our freedom?

The framers of the Constitution stated it was "We, the People".

Technological irony

Apple placed one of its cute "I'm a Mac; I'm a PC" ads in today's online New York Times. The initial banner ad was "Vista - one of the biggest blunders in technology". Unfortunately, Safari 3.0.4 would not complete loading the page; it stuck on 88 items of 89. Safari 3.0.4 is included with Mac OS 10.4.11, the latest update to the OS prior to OS X Leopard. Firefox did load the page successfully.

I used the "Report Bugs to Apple" feature of Safari to report this situation.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The most egregious political correctness

Many of us laugh at the attempts at political or patriotic correctness. One must not disparage any ethnic group, religious group, women, people with illnesses, and on and on through a laundry list of "marginalized" groups. One must not insult the flag or question a war and must show certain outward signs of "patriotism".

These misdirected efforts pale in comparison with the demands of certain governments and segments of several religions. Government after government shuts a newspaper down for insulting the nation of the government, often because they dared to print the truth. Many individuals want papers shut down or reporters and editors killed because the paper has "insulted" their religion with blasphemy. In both cases, such calls demonstrate weakness rather than strength.

In the case of "blasphemy", cannot an omniscient, omnipotent God protect himself? He sort of did in 1 Kings 18. After nothing happened to the sacrifice to Baal by the priests of Baal, God sent fire onto Elijah's water-soaked sacrifice and it was consumed. Interestingly, God did not send fire onto the priests of Baal; Elijah cut their throats.

In the case of "insults" of government, U.S. history is filled with some really mean-spirited campaign blasts. In 1796, John Adams "called his opponent Thomas Jefferson cowardly, weak and a person who did not share Americans' values." ("Character Attacks Heat Up Presidential Campaign",, 2007-12-04.

In 1828, Andrew Jackson's supporters called John Quincy Adams a "pimp". Adams' supporters retorted that Jackson's wife was a "prostitute". They also called Jackson a "jackass" and used a picture of a donkey. That last backfired because Jackson liked it and adopted the donkey as his party's "mascot". (ibid.)

And so it continues today, "fathering a black baby", "taking bribes", "not being heroic enough", and on and on. Somehow, although we wonder that our democracy will survive, it still does.

See also "Pledge of Allegiance or Sledge of Allegiance".

Monday, March 03, 2008

Spend or pay off debt, money still goes into the economy

One of the criticisms of the stimulus package that Congress passed and the President signed is that many people will save it or use it to pay off debt. However, the money still "goes" into the economy. Those who save it will be providing capital to financial institutions; they don't put it into a lock box but lend it to others. Those who pay off debt are similarly making more money available to lend.

What the rebate does mean is that the government will have less money to either spend or pay down its debt. That means at some time more taxes will be needed to pay for needed projects or to reduce the debt. In other words, the government is doing what many people did to get us into this mess - living on tomorrow's income.