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My Hopes for Michael Steele

 Apparently this is to become the year of the minority. Our first minority president, and the GOP picked its first minority leader in Michael Steele, the former LT Governo of Maryland. Exciting times we live in. As the head of the national GOP, Steele's first and foremost goal must be to rebuild the party, and produce a concise message on what the party stands for. I agree with Steele when he says that the Republican party has allowed itself to be defined by others, the media, liberal activists, and the Democratic Party in general.  The GOP needs to find a way to define itself, and in terms that aren't negative.

I for one, would like to see the party step back from its social wars and focus on the economy, and the role of government in the lives of the average American. Surely in these times of economic crises, it is more important to expend our political energy on issues such as the role of government spending in the stimulus package, and the need to reduce wasteful government spending, than it is to brawl over same sex marriage, abortion rights, and the role of religion in government. I am sure the Roman's probably thought, as the barbarians were storming the Seven Hills, that they ought to have been arguing more about defense spending than the next leader of the Senate...

I know I am in the minority among Republicans, but I want the party to get back to small government. I don't want the government, or the Republicans in my bedroom, my place of worship, or my business. The government ought to worry about national defense, and national development of those places which would be called "the commons". This includes, in my opinion, building long haul power transmission lines to properly link the disparate power grids of the US to better allow for more efficient use. I also think this includes building nuclear power stations and desalination plants in case the drought in the South West should continue. 

I don't need the government, or the Republican party mandating who I can marry, what language I can speak, what my children learn in school, or who I can hire. In other words, while I call myself a Republican, I often find I have less in common with the big names in the party (Rush etc...) than I do with centrists in the Democratic party. I am also tired of the "love it or leave it" argument one hears from folks like Rush. The games of "more patriotic than thou", coming from a bunch of men who themselves never served (Limbaugh again) is grating and un-productive. The one great failing of the GOP recently is that its arguments tended to be strident, and were not useful in fostering a larger debate. 

I like debate, I think we are better served by them than we are by name calling and the refusal to see the worth of the other side of the argument.

So perhaps if Mr Steele wants to start off on the right foot, he should tell America that the GOP acknowledges that it hasn't always had the right ideas, and that it understands that COMPROMISE is the key to a successful democracy.

Fair is Fair

No one can argue that it lies within the limits of the Senates power to issue laws on the use of funds appropriated to rescue failing companies. So Senator McCaskill's proposal isn't beyond the limits of the Senate's authority. However, if the Senate is going to tell companies that accept help how much they can pay their employees, then the Senate and the House should pledge to accept no increases in compensation while the economic crisis unfolds. In fact, both House and Senate should pledge to cut their own pound of flesh during the economic downturn to help trim the government's budget. Fire staffers, gym attendants, and cooks in the cafeteria. They should all have their living allowance cut, and should seriously consider living in their offices like the Freshman Representative from Utah. Fair is fair.

Maybe this idea would give Senator McCaskill pause. Also, if $400K was the absolute limit per year on compensation packages for employess of companies accepting bailout money....would the employees stay? Will all of the world's major financial and industrial companies accept similar limits? If not, the very people that could help American industry innovate its way out of this mess will themselves pull up stakes and move elsewhere. Why work for $400K when you can move to Dubai, London, or Hong Kong and earn your old salary (and bonuses)? 

Huge bonuses were given in years previous because there were huge profits. That's how capitalism works. And in case anyone hasn't noticed, even the Communist countries (that remain), are using capitalism to power their economies. In these trying times, it would be prudent (from a Public affairs perspective if for no other reason) to not give bonuses. But Congress should think very carefull about the law of unintended consequences before it trys to dictate the terms of employment in the private sector. 

The Perils of Expectation

The most unfortunate man of the planet today is Barak Obama. 44th President of the United States, and one of the most powerful men in the world. Yet, I feel sorry for him. Unless he conjures up several trillion dollars by the end of his first day in office, he will be considered a failure. Well, not really, but we have all built up our expectations of him to the point that he can't help but disappoint.

The minute he does, the dogs on the left and the right will be out, and the "I told you so" will start rolling in. Perhaps among the other gaping holes in the education of our youth must be remedial training on the Checks and Balances. Even should Barak wish to order massive changes in the military, rescue the economy, or take away your 80 round magazines used soley for deer hunting, he can't. There are these other two institutions the Supreme Court, and the Congress. Anything he does can be stopped or undone by one of those two other institutions.

So to rescue the economy, steal all of our assault rifles, or make any progress in the numerous crises ongoing in the world, Obama must work with the Congress, and ensure his proposals are legal. So if you really want change, or are really afraid of it, don't wait for Obama to act, contact your congressmen and Senators.



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February 2009


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