Greater Krueger National Park

Greater Krueger National Park
An image from a recent trip to South Africa. Clcik on the image for more on this trip.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I part company with those conservative pundits that hold that the Occupy Wall Street protests should not be taken seriously.  This is not to say that I agree with much that I see coming out of the various events, but the fact that they involve a lot of people and are attracting the attention of several important political groups is enough for me to try to figure out what is going on.  Not having visited any of the protests, my information is limited to what the media is reporting.  The following is just my best guess.

Video and still images of the protests emphasize youthful participants with alternative life styles.  Interviews with protesters frequently present inarticulate positions ardently delivered on a wide range of issues - economic and social.  No single theme seems to be presented by the people on the ground and some of the activity looks more like a college social event than a political protest.  An increasing number of liberal political leaders and organizations appear to be attempting to define the protests in ways that support their political positions on a number of issues, while conservative sources strive to minimize the importance of the protests and deny that they have any relevance to the real world.

My suspicion is that the initial gathering in New York was akin to a fairly large flash mob organized through social networking internet sites like Twitter and Face Book.  I doubt that there was a single instigator (if correct, an important point relevant to the future of our society).  The key participants appear to have been primarily underemployed and unemployed young people (with cell phones) whose aspirations exceeded their perceived opportunities.  If my guess is correct, this core of original participants was joined by street people and loons who are almost certainly responsible for the more outrageous happenings associated with the protests.  Eventually, various personalities seeking media coverage began making appearances among the tents and sleeping bags.

As the protesters managed to maintain their presence in the public eye, liberal politicians saw an opportunity to turn the phenomenon to their political advantage by equating them with the Tea Party.  My guess is that the combination of media bias and liberal money will have some success in accomplishing this objective.  One of the themes that I expect to see continue, after sanitation issues and inclement weather end the actual sit-in, is a discussion of what curbs should be placed on free enterprise and capitalism.  This is already an important part of the ongoing presidential campaign. 

The proper role of capitalism in our society is an important subject that must be engaged.  Limits on free enterprise is another.  Proper distribution of wealth is yet another.  Some conservative pundits treat all of these subjects as being beyond the pale for rational people.  They are wrong to do so.  To hold that economic inequality is not a real issue in this country is as much a problem for us as the massive debt that faces us.  Conservatives must engage these issues not only to win elections, but also to help unite this country and strengthen the economy that brings prosperity to the entire nation.  It is not enough to just argue that there are makers and takers.  We have to find more ways to increase the number of makers and decrease the number of takers.  We must face facts.  We are not doing as good job of it as our fathers and grandfathers did.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cain, Perry, and Romney

We are moving closer to deciding who the Republican standard bearer will be in the November 2012 presidential election.  It looks like it is coming down to Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and maybe Rick Perry.  Although I can find fault with a few things about each of these candidates, I think that it is a pretty good field.  Right now, all of the political insiders are betting on Mitt Romney even though Herman Cain is rising fast in the polls.  It appears that Mr. Cain is benefiting in direct relationship to Mr. Perry's slippage in the polls.  As such, he is being touted as the non-Romney candidate of the moment.  These same pundits are pointing out that, although Mr. Cain has a number of attractive strengths, he is perceived to be less appealing to the independent voter.  For this reason, they believe that, at the end of the day, Mr. Romney will be nominated as the Republican candidate.

Assuming that Mr. Romney is selected, we can be certain that the Democratic Party will attack him vigorously.  That is as it should be in our political system and I welcome it as a way to more thoroughly understand who he is and how he handles himself in rough waters.  After all, Mr. Romney is asking to take on the most difficult job in the world.  If he can not deal successfully with the likes of Messrs. Obama and Axelrod, how in the world will he be able to contend with people like Grand Ayatollah Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?  A great deal will be made of Romneycare and the fact that he has changed his mind on a lot of fundamental issues.  His much touted reputation as a job-creator will be challenged with statistics showing that he fired people and sent work overseas.  Underlying it all will be the whisper campaign contending that his religion is nothing more than a cult.  I already recognize that all of the candidates are imperfect so very little of this is going to shock me.  If George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were to be in the field it could rightly be pointed out that they held slaves.  There are no perfect people running for political office in this country.

Another theme that is starting to appear in press stories is that many liberals are so disenchanted with President Obama that they intend to sit the next election out and not vote for anyone.  Hardcore Republicans hope that this will happen because it will make their victory in 2012 easier to accomplish.  I confess that I am so convinced that we much replace Mr. Obama that I will also welcome a liberal boycott of the polls, but we must all recognize that it is not a good thing when a significant percentage of the public opts out of the political process.  Great disagreement within the public on fundamental issues is divisive and that weakens us as a nation.  Disagreement is not, in and of itself, dangerous.  In fact, it is healthy, but prolonged fundamental disagreement on issues such as those now plaguing America can destroy us.  I usually vote Republican because I am fiscally conservative, but I believe that what this country needs is a president that can govern from the center.  For many of my friends that makes me a RINO.  My friends are probably correct.  I vote for the people and policies that I think that we need at the moment.  No party owns my vote.  Right now, this country needs an economic course correction.  I will vote conservative to obtain that, but I will not swallow everything or anything that conservatives want to do just because I voted Republican this time around.