Archive for the ‘Conservative movement’ Tag

Farm Bill Revolt   2 comments

Explain to me why we subsidize farms? Explain to me why our government gives farmers money not to grow food when our food prices have increased incredibly in just the last few years? The law of supply and demand states that if supply is good, price are low, but our government pays farmers not to grow food and then promises them a price support if the price of commodities still goes down.

Oh, my! It’s enough to make you dizzy.

America is broke, but politicians in Washington DC contrived another piece of Rube Goldberg legislation that is nothing more than a cynical merger of food-stamp and agricultural subsidies designed to garner enough votes to hide the lunacy of both programs.

The House defeated the latest farm subsidy bill last week, thanks to a band of fiscal conservatives, including House Budget Chair Paul Ryan. It was the usual product of shameless logrolling. Direct payments to farmers would have ended, but Congress then expanded a program of subsidized crop insurance in which farmers pay a fraction of the premiums. We pay the rest.

The farm bills now before Congress… attest, if nothing else, to the inertia of politics. There is no “public interest” (a phrase often meaningless in Washington) in having government subsidize farmers. Food would be produced without subsidies. Robert Samuelson, author and economics journalist

Samuelson, an economist at Iowa State University, argues that the crop insurance program is more like “a farm income support program”. Farmers’ premiums cover only 40% of the costs. You and I pay the rest. The CBO estimates the 10-year cost at $89 billion.

Meanwhile, farmers, on average, have incomes higher than most Americans. The majority of farms are big corporate operations run from distant city financial districts. Many others are “hobby farmers” – doctors, lawyers and investors who are basically absentee owners. I know a psychiatrist who owns a fairly large farm in Kansas. For years he’s spent about five months of his year there hanging out with his manager pretending to farm and the rest of the time he’s worked in the medical field. Now that he is retiring, he is going back to his roots as a farmer (Dad was a farmer and the nucleus of his farm is Dad’s old farmstead), but he doesn’t need subsidies and is in fact opposed to them and says he’s never taken any, though the government offers strenuously and often.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal editorial page ran a great rant entitled “The Farm Bill Revolt“. Commenting on the stunning defeat of nearly $1 trillion farm-subsidy-and-food-stamp bill, the Journal hoped that the vote indicated a decoupling of the long alliance between Democrats who support food stamps and the rural Republicans dependent on crop subsidies. It looked to me more like some liberal Democrats voted against a bill that gave too little money to food stamps and some conservative Republicans voted against a bill that spent too much period. It was a happy convergence of radically different goals, but the outcome was a good one.

The defeated bill continued ridiculous milk and sugar price supports, extended price support guarantees at no lower than 85% of current levels (a sweet deal since commodities prices are at record highs), and maintained subsidies for high-income agribusinesses and wealthy “farmers”.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were earmarked for such indispensables as… sheep and goat herder “marketing” subsidies, price controls on olive oil, and the promotion of “healthy plants.” Of course, true conservatives hated it.

Conservatives have supported smart reforms to farm policy for a while now, advocating to separated the food stamp program into a nutrition bill or sending food-stamp money back to the states to let them innovate and also considering a long overdue reform to commodity programs. This bill had none of that. It was a big giveaway, crafted by farm-state Republicans to continue to buy off their constituents. It too closely mirrored the bill passed by the Democratic Senate. The conservatives sank it, oddly with the help of liberal Democrats.

The good news, said the Journal, is that “The farm revolt suggests that these are the kinds of politically productive battles to fight.” Congressman Marlin Stutzman from rural Indiana agrees, saying his rural constituents “care more about out-of-control spending and the debt than they do about farm subsidies.”

Robert Samuelson believes that the survival of farm subsidies is “emblematic” of a much larger problem, that America’s priorities are completely out of whack, as evidenced by our failure to reform runaway entitlement spending and rationalize the tax code, both individual and corporate:

Government is biased toward the past. Old programs, tax breaks and regulatory practices develop strong constituencies and mindsets that frustrate change, even when earlier justifications for their existence have been overtaken by events. It’s no longer possible to argue that ag subsidies will prevent the loss of small family farms, because millions have already disappeared.

It is no longer possible to argue that subsidies are needed for food production, because one major agricultural sector — meat production — lacks subsidies and meat is still produced. 

So diehard GOP voters, conservatives who insist that the only option is the Republican Party – when will you admit that the Republican Party has not acted on your principles and this is the first sign in decades that they intend to stand up to the farm lobby against subsidy-driven overspending?

This time the conservative wing of the Republican Party had accidental Democratic help in doing the sensible thing, but next time …?

Listening to the Libertarian Party   2 comments

So I’m working my way through conservative political parties in an attempt to find one that meets me most of the way. I’m told by all sorts of people – this being Alaska – really all sorts – that I’ve just got to check out the Libertarian Party because Ron Paul used to be a Libertarian and it’s just so Alaskan.

The Libertarian Party isn’t really a conservative party. It’s a fiscally conservative party that advocates for leaving the other guy alone. On the surface, I like that idea, but I’ve got some reservations. When I scratched beneath the surface of the Republican Party I did not find a party committed to republicanism as I understand it – and I understand it in a Jeffersonian way … more or less. When I scratched beneath the surface of the Constitution Party, I found a few places where they aren’t all that constitutional. So, I have reservations about the deeper structures of the Libertarian Party. I’m a small l libertarian.

I agree that government exists to protect the rights of every individual and should not be engaged in choosing groups of individuals for special protection.

First, I have some good friends who were strong members of the Libertarian Party for over 20 years who withdrew several years ago because of the LP stance on the legalization of drugs and abortion. As a Christian who believes that murder is murder even if the victim is pre-born, I don’t think I can vote for people who say it doesn’t matter. I don’t find the constitutional argument for privacy holding any water in this instance. Our founders never would have agreed that murder was okay so long as it was private. The taking of human life is murder. Maybe I wouldn’t be comfortable with women and doctors who perform abortions being prosecuted as aggressively as people doing driveby shootings, but I still hold with the moral concept that abortion is murder and that the Constitution doesn’t give us a special right to commit murder under special circumstances. “All men are created equal” except if “they’re a black person living below a certain geographical line and then they’re not.” That was a special right granted white southerners by the Supreme Court and it was still wrong.

I agree that the military is way larger than it needs to be and that the United States should not attempt to act as global police officer, but when researching the LP, I also believe we must maintain our ability to wage war on foreign soil and not just react after the fact to aggression that comes against us. I believe that stance will leave us at the mercy of our enemies, fighting on Main Street USA instead of “over there”.  I don’t think that makes me a progressive, but it may make me a realist.

I strongly disagree with allowing an open-borders immigration policy on the grounds that the United States has a right and obligation to its people to protect them not only from military foreign invasion, but also from cultural foreign invasion. The United States of America will not remain the United States of America if we allow ourselves to be overrun by citizens of other countries who have no interest in assimilating to our culture. While we should strive always to be welcoming to those who wish to immigrate to our country, we should remember and they should be reminded that it is OUR country. If they want to join us, they should do it in an orderly and legal fashion. Even legal immigration needs to be measured to allow for assimilation of new immigrants without overwhelming the existing culture. Immigrants should add to our culture, not transform it.

So, while there are parts of the LP platform that I agree with, I cannot agree with enough of it to feel comfortable with it.

Onward in my search.

Mead Treadwell for Senate   Leave a comment

Mead TreadwellSo, Alaska’s Lieutenant Governor is running for the GOP nomination for US Senate from Alaska. If he wins the nomination, he gets to run against Mark Begich.

For now, I am only interested in finding a GOP candidate who can beat Mark Begich, who is considered vulnerable. Most Alaskans are non-partisans (52%) or Republicans (38%), so Democrats have a tough time. There is a strong libertarian streak. This is why a candidate like Mead Treadwell appeals to us.

My campaign will focus on three principles:

• Fighting for liberty by reversing the Obama Administration’s relentless assault on our families and our freedoms.
• Fighting for fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C. We borrow too much, we spend too much, and we tax too much.
• Fighting for Alaska. The federal government must deal with Alaska’s issues on Alaska’s terms. Ted Stevens fought every day to bring power and decision-making home, and so will I.

His approval ratings as Lt. Gov. are high, his business background and pro-development stance resonate with us, and his past association with Wally Hickel makes him something like Alaskan nobility.

But I don’t know if he should be Senator — not yet. I need to investigate more, way the pros and cons between him and Joe Miller, check out if there are any others running. And, even after one of them wins the primary, there are still other parties to consider for the general. I promised Mark Begich when he voted for ObamaCare that he would NEVER get my vote and I am absolutely committed to getting him out of office this time around. Otherwise, he’ll play the “I-have-seniority” card and, like Lisa, we’ll never get him out of there.

So Joe Miller, Mead Treadwell or someone else, who ever I vote for has to have a good chance of winning against Begich.

If you’re interested in this race, do check out my earlier post on Joe Miller and compare the two candidate websites.



Finding Our Voice   Leave a comment

Conservatives are the largest voting bloc in the United States. According to a January 2012 Gallup poll, 40% of Americans described their views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% of liberal. Forty-four percent of likely voters said they were fiscally conservative in a January 2013 Rasmussen poll. So why aren’t we sweeping conservatives into office year after year, presidential election after presidential election? Politics … party politics – dictates that conservatives who vote with the Republican Party are forced to settle for moderate and progressive Republicans and endure the heartburn over broken promises after supporting an impostor.

Ted Cruz celebrates his victory in the Texas Senate race with his father, Rafael, and daughter Caroline on Nov. 6, 2012, in Houston.

It would be untrue for me to say there aren’t good, conservative Republicans holding office. There are some who serve diligently and deserve our profound thanks and support. However, despite their good intentions and hard work, they are powerless against parliamentarian tactics, establishment rule and cronyism. Conservatives have learned to accept that every Republican claims to be conservative during campaign season. The problem with our complacency is they eventually reveal their true colors as progressives and then real conservatives suffer and the conservative movement as a whole loses support. Party politics assures Republicans are voted into office instead of conservatives.

Starting in 2008, conservatives stayed home on Election Day, refusing to support a losing proposition. It was a smallish movement then that probably did not get Barack Obama into the White House, but in 2012 it decided the election of Barack Obama to a second term. Just enough conservatives hang in to keep the Republicans competitive, not knowing they could change the course of our country if we would act in unison.

Without our support, the Republican Party would vanish overnight, and America would have a legitimate “conservative movement.” Unfortunately, too many conservatives believe that they have no voice without the Republican Party, so we compromise. Why put one’s self in such a dilemma and partake in such a soul-wrenching affair just to say later that the lesser of the two progressive Republicans is better than a progressive Democrat?

Why not pick up and move camp under a single, solitary conservative party?

I know … they never win … unless people vote for them as happened in 1860 and almost happened in 1992. Conservatives are 40-45% of the electorate. Bill Clinton won the 1992 election with only 38% of the vote. Third parties can make a difference and a true conservative party that spoke to the principles of our voting bloc could easily win a three-way election … which would send a strong message to the liberals and moderates that conservatives really do exist and we really do think our principles are what the country needs.

The real problem for me is … how do you pick one?

I Don’t Fit On A Bumper Sticker   4 comments

I’m back to considering how conservatism plays out in my nonpartisan perspective. First, I suppose it’s important to say that I call myself a nonpartisan conservative constitutionalist with federalist, anarchist and libertarian leanings.

Yeah, that’s not fitting on a bumper sticker or a button.

In other words, while I’m pretty certain of what I believe about our republic, I don’t think I really fit into any movement. I’ll claim the tea party label in the small letters, but I’m not probably ever going to join a political party or campaign for a particular candidate. I’ll find things about him or her that I like, but I’ll also find things I disagree with and at some point, I’ll make a pragmatic choice about whether I agree with them enough to vote for them. On the other hand, that could change if conservatives get their poop in a pile and form a truly conservative third party. I could maybe be persuaded to join for a few election rounds if that happened.

So, conservative? What does that mean? Joe over on the Rio Norte Line suggested that “conservative means to support the conservation of the current governmental system”. Hmm, I don’t think so. Certainly in America “conservative” does not mean that. If anything, American conservatives are countercultural to the current governmental system. In fact, what Americans call conservatives, most of the world calls “liberals” because of the commitment to liberty. I wish we could use that term again, rescue it from the Frankenstein monster the progressives turned it into, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Maybe I should start it.

Seriously, though, to define American conservatism you need to look at what the original conservative voices said about their movement.

Although William F. Buckley was not the first American conservative, he was among the first to put his thoughts out there in the media. In the first edition of the National Review, he wrote:

Among our convictions:

It is the job of centralized government (in peacetime) to protect its citizens’ lives, liberty and property. All other activities of government tend to diminish freedom and hamper progress. The growth of government (the dominant social feature of this century) must be fought relentlessly. In this great social conflict of the era, we are, without reservations, on the libertarian side.

The profound crisis of our era is, in essence, the conflict between the Social Engineers, who seek to adjust mankind to conform with scientific utopias, and the disciples of Truth, who defend the organic moral order. We believe that truth is neither arrived at nor illuminated by monitoring election results, binding though these are for other purposes, but by other means, including a study of human experience. On this point we are, without reservations, on the conservative side.

So, Buckley himself said American conservatives are more like conservative libertarians or libertarian conservatives. We agree with liberty and think government is the enemy of liberty. That makes us liberals. We disagree with the social engineers who want to rush forward into the Next Great Thing that will make our lives so much better (in their opinion), thus we are in favor of supporting a conservation of culture and a study of the long experience of American liberty, and that reliance on the past makes us conservative.

But there are a lot of areas where I disagree with Buckley, particularly his acceptance of the use of American military force to meddle in other countries. The American conservative movement has always been a loose formation of differing ideologies that found itself moving in a similar direction. Fiscal conservatives and libertarians want smaller, less intrusive government and the reduced budgets that go with it. Social conservatives want a conservation (or at this point, it’s really a restoration) of societal norms from past generations and are willing to legislate morality to make it happen. Neo-conservatives are not really conservatives at all as they prefer big government programs that support businesses and the military. I could get into a few more distinctions, but you get my point. We’re not a homogeneous movement and not all of us have that commitment to liberty. So the definition of “conservative” in the American usage is problematic.

But, for now, I’m stuck with the term unless someone comes up with something better. So for the purposes of this series, I’m using the word “conservative” to mean small-government, fiscal restraint, libertarian because what I really mean won’t fit on a bumper sticker.

Agreeing with Chris Christie   Leave a comment

Yes, I know there are people who think Chris Christie is wrong for planning a special election on Lautenberg’s vacated seat, but I don’t happen to be one of them.

The United States of America was founded on the principle of citizen self-government. We get to vote for our political representatives. Presumably, the people of New Jersey voted for Senator Lautenberg. Chris Christie could appoint someone to take his spot. If you’re a Republican and you want a Republican in that seat, you’re pissed off that Christie is not going to give you what you want

Let’s examine that!

New Jersey is a deep, deep blue state, but it elected Chris Christie — a moderate Republican with some conservative policies — as its governor. The voters also elected Lautenberg, who appears to have been pretty liberal. However, you can’t assume they voted for him five times because they loved his politics. Most people from the East Coast that I know vote on name recognition and the best ad or political rally slogan. I’m not saying there aren’t people on the East Coast who vote on issues and the content of character, but I haven’t met many and my husband’s entire family comes from the East Coast.

So, a special election provides the opportunity for the people of New Jersey to consider a brand-new slate of candidates and the issues they bring to the campaign. It is an opportunity for them to vote for a liberal, an independent, a moderate, or a conservative. They seem to be, by and large, happy with Christie, so it may be that the people of New Jersey will pick a Senator who will be more conservative than Christie might have chosen.

And, if they don’t — that’s their choice. Those of us who live in other states need to recognize that New Jerseyites have a right to be represented by people who they feel will serve their interests rather than those we think will serve ours.

And, folks, you really do need to get over the idea that the GOP represents conservatives. As evidenced by Christie’s chummy behavior with President Obama, the GOP represents the GOP and its political power. Christie may well think Obama can help him get reelected. So, maybe you’d rather the people of New Jersey — who are not coming up for reelection — make this decision.

Who knows? They might pick a third-party conservative candidate who owes nothing to anyone for his election except to the voters themselves.

Why I am Registered Non-Partisan   Leave a comment

I’ve said repeatedly that I am a nonpartisan, so you are unlikely to get a lot of party rhetoric from me. I don’t follow GOP insider news, but I heard this on the radio a while back and researched it, then Don over at Rio del Norte Line asked me something about the Alaska GOP. This story is indicative of why I am a nonpartisan and why I think conservatives are not very bright in continuing their attachment to the Republican Party. This scenario is being played out around the nation, wherever conservatives have tried to move the Republican Party back to the principles of the majority of GOP members. The battle is far from lost, but in Alaska, the “old guard” is winning because they have the resources.

The fact is that the GOP “old guard” has its own, more or less moderate progressive vision for the State of Alaska while conservatives have a fiscally responsible, smaller government vision for it. Who is in the majority? I don’t know. I’m not a GOP member, so don’t rub elbows with the precincts, but I would note that a “tea party” candidate whipped Lisa Murkowski’s hind end in the largest GOP primary turnout in state history (2010), which indicates an awful lot of people who vote in the GOP primaries favored the conservative candidate. Although the GOP leadership endorsed Joe Miller, their support was half-hearted at best and he lost in a squeaker against the better funded write-in candidate, Lisa Murkowski. I can’t say for sure there were shenanigans going on, but it felt Chicago-like.

I know nothing about Debbie Brown other than she replaced Russ Millett who was never even seated. That’s the bigger story, because Russ Millett was elected by the party at the state convention, but the “old guard” refused to acknowledge him. You will also note in this story in the Alaska Dispatch how dismissive the reporter is toward Millett and supportive of the “leadership of the GOP.

How anyone with principles can think that the Alaska GOP represents the Alaskan people’s interests is beyond me!

For a more balanced story, I’ve included a link to a small press that’s doing great Alaska coverage – the Alaska Native News – and the story on this that ran in the Anchorage Daily News.

I’m hoping Alaskan conservatives – many of whom are like me and are registered non-partisan/undeclared – will read this and recognize that we need to make some major changes in this state.

This is the latest news on the GOP wrangling.

As I said, as a non-partisan, this is why I will like be voting third-party in next year’s elections. Joe Miller has filed to run against Democrat Mark Begich, but he has to get through the primary and Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell has indicated that he might also be running. They’re both conservatives; Treadwell is more likable and less likely to get comfortable in DC – I know Joe personally and I’ve met Mead and liked him, so I’d probably vote for Treadwell, but I suspect neither of them will make it through the GOP primary if the current GOP leadership is in power. They have their anointed and it isn’t conservatives.

Alaska’s ruling class has always been progressive Republicans. The rest of us here are much more conservative, but because we vote Republican we’ve given these people a great deal of power that they are unwilling to give up. They resist regime change like all good ruling classes and the attempts to foment revolution through party politics are apparently failing.

Besides, I like the idea of sending an Alaska Independence Party candidate to Washington DC. In a state where 58% of registered voters are non-partisan/undeclared, third-parties have a great chance of actually winning. And, I would love to see what an AIP member would do and say in DC. Ted Cruz could use some company.

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