Conservative Political Commentary

[Under the Radar?] Anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-globalist, pro-Constitution, and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context (This blog was given its name before I decided it was going to be a political blog.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

RINO Alert: Jon Huntsman

Official photo of United States Ambassador to ...Image via Wikipedia
Ambassador Jon Huntsman, official portrait
Is Republican-in-Name-Only Jon Huntsman serious about the GOP presidential nomination? He seems to be following in the footsteps of John McCain. The media likes him because he criticizes Republicans, agrees with Obama on major issues, and tries to project “civility.” He, like McCain, will be reluctant to criticize the president, whom he considers a “remarkable leader.”

Most conservatives consider Obama a poor leader, if a leader at all. His own staff member said his strategy is to “lead from behind.” That’s leadership? No, that’s why we have confused policies on Afghanistan, Libya, energy, the budget, and many other things.

Also, the policies Mr. Obama has supported have made our country worse, not better. So Republicans have every right and even obligation to criticize the president sternly and often over his policies, and to emphasize the contrast between their views and his.

“Civility” means that Republicans are supposed to politely accept what the White House and congressional Democrats are selling. Maybe a few questions would be allowed if they are sufficiently deferential. If nominated, Mr. Huntsman would basically be the second coming of John McCain, and would get about as far in the general election as McCain did.

Conservatives who actually want a conservative president would be well advised to support someone who articulates a conservative viewpoint and is willing to boldly criticize the president and his administration. There are so many areas where this is needed, it might be impossible to get to them all in during the campaign, but there should be a focus on some of the main issues: spending, defense, the free market, low taxes, and the number one item: jobs.

Cap and Trade
Mr. Huntsman has enthusiastically supported cap and trade. Not so much today:

Republican White House hopeful Jon Huntsman has found a way to explain his embrace of cap-and-trade when he was governor of Utah: Everyone was doing it. [1]

Huntsman seems to think that the economy won’t allow that approach at this time, but it seems clear that he has no fundamental philosophical problem with it.

The Economy
Another concern about Huntsman: He was apparently right in step with Administration economic policy while serving as Ambassador to China, according to David Axelrod, Obama’s chief advisor:

A senior strategist to the president's reelection campaign, Axelrod said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN's “State of the Union” that Huntsman's recent criticism of Obama's “failed” economic policy is “in conflict with what he communicated to us in 2009.” [2]

Health Care
“He was encouraging on health care. He was encouraging on the whole range of issues,” Axelrod said. [3]

Steve Benen at a Washington Monthly political blog summarizes Huntsman the candidate thusly:

So, what are we left with? A Republican presidential candidate who believes health care is a right, supported an individual health care mandate, wanted a bigger stimulus in 2009 with fewer tax cuts, expressed support for the Affordable Care Act, wanted to combat climate change with either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, and has endorsed civil unions, TARP, and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally. [4]

Oh, and Jimmy Carter likes him. What more could he want?

Huntsman resists being called a “conservative” (actually, for good reason), preferring instead to be thought of as a pragmatic problem-solver. But if pragmatism is really his core philosophy, that leaves much to be desired in terms of principle. It indicates more opportunism than principled leadership. Huntsman is simply in the wrong party. If conservatives support him, there remains little reason why the GOP and the Democratic Party don’t just merge into one big socialist entity.

Fortunately, the GOP has several good candidates that are not in the RINO category.

[1] Ben Geman, “Huntsman on past cap-and-trade support: Everyone was doing it,” 06/22/2011, The Hill.

[2] Andy Barr, “Axelrod: Huntsman’s views on economy changed,” 06/19/2011, Politico.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Steve Benen, “Calling Out a RINO,” 05/26/2011, Washington Monthly.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Endangered Rule of Law

Mosaic representing both the judicial and legi...Image via WikipediaGovernments at all levels routinely violate the principles of the rule of law. The concept of the rule of law is supposed to protect citizens’ equality before the law, but this equality is not too often held in high regard by government, and especially not by the federal government as we have it today.

The clearest examples of violations of the principles of the rule of law come in the form of various kinds of crony capitalism. The government interferes with individuals’ rights, and the free market, by granting some special privilege to some favored group at the expense of other citizens. This is done through various kinds of corporate welfare, including bailouts, monopolies, tax incentives, subsides, etc.

Today we have liberals calling for the abolition of special tax breaks for oil companies, which, in fact have minimal percentage effect on oil companies’ profits. I agree that they are not needed. However, the same liberals in government want to subsidize alternative energy development at taxpayer expense. Alternative energy sources should be developed in the free market, and if they can be made profitable, entrepreneurs and investors will reap the appropriate rewards for their own efforts, not from the confiscation of money from taxpayers.

Similarly, mandates and subsidies for ethanol are also unjust, as are agricultural subsidies and government control of industry in general. Also, the principles of the rule of law are violated when government enforces advantages for unions beyond what the free market would permit.

These things have been happening for generations. In my home city of Fort Worth, the city currently has a huge debt of unfunded pension obligations, and is having to cut various services to try to balance the budget. Yet not long ago, the city invested substantially in the construction of a new downtown hotel, and various private commercial projects. It seems inappropriate that the city can’t maintain public swimming pools and recreation centers that have operated for decades, but they seem to have the means to invest in “private” business, even to the point of being on the hook should these businesses not succeed.

But perhaps the big prize for present-day destruction of the rule of law should go to the Obama Administration and Congress for such things as Obamacare exemptions that were granted in exchange for support during the legislative process, and now that the law has been passed, waivers from the law, notably to entities in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district. It helps to be politically connected.

The rule of law is a casualty of attacks on the free market through government interference. Some so-called “capitalist” executives have no problem with trying to persuade government to side with them against their competitors or even their customers. Whatever material gain they can get through government (as opposed to competition) is quite acceptable. This is the true robber baron mentality. Government participation happens through, if not direct bribery, then some kind of political help or support, or else a reward for past political support. What else could explain the bizarre lawsuit against Boeing over their plans to build airplanes in South Carolina, for example? Could it be a matter of rewarding unions and thus appealing to part of the liberal base?

In a free market, the market, not government, picks winners and losers. There are no bailouts, and entrepreneurs are willing to take a risk because they believe that have a product or service that can compete in the market on its merits, not on some central-planning bureaucrat’s idea of what needs to be offered. If the entrepreneur fails, this provides a lesson to others to avoid the same mistakes. This is fairly simple. It certainly is not rocket science.

The rule of law suffers and eventually dies when government tries too often and too forcefully to step outside its proper functions and take control of things it shouldn’t. Barack Obama didn’t invent this. But he is one of the worst offenders. When the rule of law is replaced by the arbitrary decrees of the ruling elite, it is difficult to restore, and it places citizens in danger of great financial loss, abusive punishment for political purposes, and tyrannical rule. When the government lacks accountability to the law, the result is a lawless government. In some respects, we’re already there.
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