DJ Durant on August 6th, 2010

The Labor Department reported this morning that nonfarm payrolls fell by 131,000 in the month of July.  Even more discouraging was that June’s revised payroll number was revised downward to a negative 221,000.  This is huge.  Initial jobless claims estimates released Thursday was 479,000, and was an increase from the previous week’s 460,000.  The two […]

Continue reading about Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

DJ Durant on August 2nd, 2010

Yesterday on CBS Sunday Morning, President Barack Obama was being interviewed by Harry Smith.  This seems to be this President’s primary function.  I can just see his job description now–Item 1, must interview with the media incessantly.  Never mind running the country.  We’ll leave that to Pelosi and Reid.  And, who can blame him?  It’s more […]

Continue reading about Administrative Delusion

Justin Arnold on August 2nd, 2010

As the BP oil spill unfolds in the Gulf and in our living rooms through our television screens, the coverage has focused on two major problems that it has created.  One is the flat-out brutal images of oil soaked pelicans; the other is the crisis of the Gulf fishermen who have been forced out of work.  One thing is clear, if you had to choose between being a pelican or a fish your choice is an easy one.  At the same time everyone is rightfully heartbroken about the pelicans, we can\’t wait for the fishermen to get back in the water and cast their nets to catch and kill as many fish as possible.  While I am not by any stretch a PETA guy and I grant the fact that this is largely because we don\’t eat pelicans, the point it makes is that we constantly draw large subliminal differences between things.  In this case, though both are “wildlife,” we subconsciously dismiss the plight of the fish while granting a level of sympathy to the pelicans that compels some of us to set about capturing them and hand rubbing them with Dawn dish detergent.  The same point could be made by asking the questions: Why do we eat turkeys and chickens but not pelicans; why cows and not horses?  Why are mice disgusting but gerbils and hamsters cute?  In large part the answer is: that\’s just the way it is.

I suppose you might be asking yourself a question right about now—how does this relate to politics?  While I\’m quite certain that indeed everything relates to politics, the specific answer is the power of the mentally presumed.  The United States is now and has always been a relatively conservative country.  Our Constitution, laws, and values, as well as every poll ever taken on the subject, prove this.  The problem for Liberals is that well . . . they are not.  This presents a huge political task for them.  In order to get the […]

Continue reading about It Pays To Be A Pelican

Justin Arnold on July 22nd, 2010

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.

—Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The two major forms of Republicanism each have a doctrine that is tied to actual documents.  Religious social conservatives have The Bible, while fiscal and Constitutional conservatives have the Constitution.  It is safe to say that the vast majority of Republicans have their political tenants supplied by one, if not both, of these documents.  This type of textual anchor is a positive philosophically and morally but in a strictly political sense can be a liability.  The resulting positives are what tend to be deep, time-tested convictions, stability, certainty and, when used, an effective measuring stick for candidates in primaries.  However, in our current event driven and largely politically uninformed society the negative is that this rigidness makes it nearly impossible to adapt positions to individual situations and use current events for maximum political gain.

This is a problem that the modern day liberal Democrat will not have anytime soon.  They indeed stand in the starkest of contrast.  Having left the Constitution behind decades ago, they move forward with no defined doctrine.  No set of black and white documents that create, inform, or guide their ideology (and don\’t even try to give me the party platform).  This creates a situation in which changing party leadership sets an evolving standard as to what defines a Democrat.  This not only allows them to easily tailor their political message to what they perceive to be popular at the moment, but grants them the option of playing the role of “lifeguard” and coming to the citizenry’s rescue with politically crafted legislation.

This, in tandem with the current perception that this is indeed the role of government, is extremely effective but thankfully also comes with disadvantages.  First, the […]

Continue reading about Hitting A Moving Target

The news events of the last few months have certainly put the Obama Administration in a peculiar position.  The Gulf crisis notwithstanding, most of these events have been created by this president and his staff.

Team Obama went the the G20 Summit in Toronto this weekend to chide the other 19 nations to continue to stimulate their economy through Keynsian economic principles.  “Not so fast”, said the other countries.  “We have to make choices, and right now, we choose fiscal solvency and prudence”.  What a concept!

Passage of the Financial Institutions Reform package was always tenuous, at best, but the death of Senator Robert Byrd over the weekend makes passage more difficult.  One less Democratic vote means that it’s more likely that Republicans can filibuster this package, and this is a good thing.  Here’s why:  Any bill that increases regulation, drives up costs to the consumer, and squeezes financial services companies’ margins will negatively affect the economy.  The costs of increased regulation always get passed along to the consumer in some way, shape or form.  Limiting profits also limit tax revenues […]

Continue reading about The Case Against Financial Institutions Regulation (and Other Sundry Items)

Gross Domestic Product, unemployment, consumer confidence, bond ratings — the state of a nation can be measured using a series of black and white numbers, and while these tell a large part of the story they leave out a great deal.  Every country has in a sense its own unique collective personality built from the attitudes of its people and their shared traditions and history.  The journey that this country has taken from its inception to its current greatness has been made possible not by good economic indicators, but by the traits we have carried with us along the way.  Through both high points and hard times we have been bolstered by a certain toughness, resolve and indeed a stubbornness that is uniquely American.  Regardless of generational ideological shifts it is the retaining of these traits that is paramount in securing our future.  Increasingly it is becoming less true that “tough times make for tough people” and more accurately put “tough times make for weak and dependent people.” The Left wing in this country is on the verge of answering The Greatest Generation with the creation of The Glass Jaw Generation, unable to take a punch and become stronger for it.  If this is allowed to occur, the final blow to the empire will have been dealt.  So as Paul McCartney wrote and Ringo Starr once sang, “Lend me your ears and I\’ll sing you a song, and I\’ll try not to sing out of key”.

While the following will not be out of key, it will certainly be at times ugly and displeasing.  Just as the fields of Philosophy and Psychology have as a main tenant self-introspection, any useful political theory must be crafted only after a look in the mirror.  Even the most […]

Continue reading about The Necessity of Consequence: The Pitfalls of the Givernment

Brian Nygaard on April 27th, 2010

Crisis On Wall StreetWhen Senator Levin says “Goldman made a lot of money by betting against the mortgage market” what do we think he might have meant?  Knowing some of the political philosophy of the esteemed senator from Michigan, it is obvious that his inference was that Goldman was acting in a fashion that was either illegal or immoral.  How could any American institution bet against motherhood, apple pie or the American dream of universal home ownership?  And certainly the notion of ”making a lot of money” is of dubious quality on its face.  The Senator is literally screaming “These people are the enemy of the state, and they need to be leashed, or chained, or imprisoned, or tortured…all for the good of the system of the people.”

It is always amusing when a single statement contains such a large number of fallacies.  Let us count the ways.

First, Goldman was acting in their role as an investment broker.  Everything they do is essentially either a bet for or against something…or the facilitating of someone else doing the same thing.  More technically, they are simply acting as brokers, and not as agents. Agents represent a buyer or seller.  Brokers facilitate the transaction. This is the “market mechanism” and it is what guides the whole system of the effective allocation of resources.  It is fundamental to our material progress.  As significantly, if people […]

Continue reading about Levin V. Goldman: Big Solution For a Big Problem?

Brian Nygaard on April 22nd, 2010

Man with bullhornThe Civil Rights Movement that culminated in the 1960\’s was an important movement towards the advancement of equality for all Americans.  While artificial and fundamental hatreds will likely always exist between disparate people groups, the relative harmony that has been experienced in this country over the last forty years is likely unprecedented in the history of the world.  To create equality of opportunity for all of a society\’s individuals and to simultaneously provide an environment free of the expression of abusive power of one group of people over another is a seldom seen accomplishment.  America has been a place where these goals are thought by many to actually be within reach.

Last week, the former President, Bill Clinton, made comments linking the Tea Party Movement to the worst act of domestic terror that has ever been experienced in our country\’s history.  The Oklahoma City bombing was a tragedy of massive proportion.  Apparently, Mr. Clinton believes that the same ideological forces that motivated the bombers of the Federal Building are those that now motivate those that gather under the Tea Party banner.  To consider this comment reckless and irresponsible is to understate its vitriolic intent.  It is almost impossible to adequately underscore the complete […]

Continue reading about The Tea Party Movement: The New Civil Rights?

Brian Nygaard on April 12th, 2010

Space ClusterIn a recent conversation with a friend of mine, his comment was something like, “Those people on the far left must be from a different solar system.” Another friend said, “We are living in Alternative Reality B” (referencing the line from the movie Back to the Future) where we momentarily leave the time-space continuum.  My personal take is that the far left is simply the result of a nasty turn taken on the path of evolutionary biology.  While we may still appear to be part of the same human species, liberals and conservatives will ultimately be seen as fundamentally different members of the mammilia branch.  And while I jest (but just a little), the question of what separates the “thinking” of liberals and the principles of conservatives is befuddling for many of us.

Most adults in America today (other than the most senior amongst us) have never had to directly face the ideology of the N. Pelosi\’s, C. Schumer\’s, J. Wright\’s and E. Holder\’s of the world.  Even the 1960\’s form of “progressivism” was set against the backdrop of the known evil of an outwardly racist system, and an equally controversial war in Vietnam.  Today is different.  What we face today is an unforced and radical progressivism without any of the supporting historical props.  The problem with the interpretive thinking of conservatives today is that we are attempting to see the logic in the ideology of the left (or at least some form of semi-coherent palliative) that will allow us to understand the apparent vacuity.  But herein we are seeking to see that which simply does not exist.

When we look at the notion […]

Continue reading about Which Universe Are We In?

healthcare-reformQuestion #1 during much of the Health Care Debate was: “Why the rush?”.

I should have seen it at the time, but now, it is clear to me just how important it was for Democrats to pass Health Care Reform, in any condition.  Even torn to shreds.  Getting it done early in 2010 was absolutely essential.

Because that was the one chance that Democrats had of holding seats in November.

It’s a gambit that tries our souls and puts folks on both the left and right on edge.  By completing the effort early in the year, Democrats have essentially taken ownership of the election, or at least taken a position that gives them a stronger political advantage.  That is, stronger than they would have had if they had tried and failed to complete the work, or completed it in late summer or early fall.

The manner in which Republicans play this out over the next several months will have a greater impact than anything.  Even though a majority of Americans opposed the Democrats plan, ultimately the tide will shift on the perceived benefit of those in the middle.  Already, some Republicans are seeing the challenge of continuing to fight this head on.

Now, instead of fighting against a bad idea, instead of promoting a smarter model for Americans to address the real Health Care issues at hand, Republicans who go all in with […]

Continue reading about Democrats Took A Gamble – Republicans Need To Take Care

Brian Nygaard on April 8th, 2010

Brian NygaardIn the February 16th, 2010 Wall Street Journal, Gerald F. Seib wrote an article called Senate Woes Flag Wider Disease.  The premise of the article is that the center of the political continuum has been eroded and that the bridge historically connecting the left and the right is being dismantled.  He goes on to indicate that the result is a Senate without an ability to accomplish anything.  The Framers, along with many who have followed, have long-since understood the power of the majority in a democracy.  Accordingly, they have inserted safeguards against the potential “tyranny of the majority” that are now coming into clear view.  Mr. Seib also points to the rapidly expanding use, over the last twenty years, of filibusters and cloture votes used to end those filibusters.  In the end, the article concludes, “The broader political system, more than the filibuster, is the problem.”

The notion of the “broader political system” is an interesting focal point for the current situation.  And while I am not certain what Mr. Seib intended by his use of the words, I am certain that the problem we have is much greater than a purely political problem.  To cast blame on the system is to address a second-order cause, as opposed to any level of fundamental or first-order cause.  The issues we face today are simply a proxy for the broader existential and self-identification issues we face as a nation.  We face an array of ontological problems that have been emerging over several decades, but are now, for the first time, exhibited for everyone to see.  The fundamental issue we face today is one of determining whether we as a nation are going to be governed by the use of power, or whether we will continue to be governed via “authority.” The distinction is becoming essentially clearer with every passing day.  And the distinction could not be more significant.

Our nation was built on […]

Continue reading about What\’s Really Wrong With Today\’s Government?

Brian Nygaard on April 6th, 2010

Brian NygaardToday we introduce our newest writer at The Conservative Reader, Brian Nygaard.  Brian and his wife Mary live in San Rafael, California. – Ed.

As the Healthcare debate in Congress was drawing to a close, Americans were asking themselves “Why can\’t we seem to make any progress on the healthcare issue?” We watch in disbelieving awe as we observe nothing getting done over seemingly very long periods of time.  We covet answers, but our perception is that what we are receiving from Washington is just gridlock and petty partisan politics.  We cannot even agree on such a simple notion as the need for the portability of individual insurance coverage.  Amazing, isn\’t it?  It looks like a mess, and it is.  But it is a mess for reasons completely separated from the issue of healthcare.  The problem with the healthcare issue is that the issue has never been about healthcare, or insurance companies, or patient\’s rights, or universal coverage.

Over the course of our American history, a small number of windows of opportunity have presented themselves to the radical leftists amongst us.  Andrew Jackson, FDR, Lyndon […]

Continue reading about Is It About Health Care Or Partisan Gridlock?

on February 19th, 2010

Medical MarijuanaIn my years as a youngster I never thought that we would be seriously discussing whether Marijuana should be considered either for medicinal or recreational usage.  And as a conservative, I would have never thought that we would need to spend the time debating the pros and cons without a lot of easy standard lines: “It’s a Gateway Drug”, “Kills Brain Cells”, “Highly Addictive”.

But here we are, and frankly, I’m not prepared to just discard the discussion as unimportant or too obvious to spend time on.  That would be both a disservice and inconsistent with my belief that positions on policy should be reviewed and when challenged, they should be openly and honestly discussed.

I’m not a doctor, nor have I had the time to study this at such a level of depth as to call myself an “expert” on the topic.  But I have discussed this with doctors I know, and I’ve looked at some of the information currently available (here, here, here and here).  I’ve also been around friends that were regular users of Marijuana, and I even took one deep breath of the stuff (from a pipe) when I was younger.  Yes, I inhaled.  Didn’t like it.  And I was a tobacco smoker at the time.

Most of us here in the Midwest tend to just laugh at California for legalizing Marijuana for medicinal use.  We could have more or less predicted that dispensaries would become dealers for all who wanted, not just those that actually needed it.  And as the debate is building here in Iowa […]

Continue reading about Medicinal Marijuana

DJ Durant on February 4th, 2010

bored-tv-watchingPresident Obama has a huge problem: jobs.  As in, lack of them.  As in, not creating any.  He promised them on the campaign trail, and he promised them as part of the $1.2 trillion stimulus package he signed a year ago.

After one year in office, with a huge majority in Congress, he has accomplished remarkably little, which is a relief to a Conservative.  He has spent an inordinate amout of time, resources and energy wrangling over socialized medicine and cap and trade, and the unemployment remains stubbornly high.

Tomorrow, employment data will be released for January.  Weekly initial jobless claims for unemployment insurance has been running about 470,000, and this week the number hit 480,000.  The employment sector will not grow until initial jobless claims fall below 400,000.  We’re still a long way off.

There are two factors in play.  The President has been jawboning big business for the last three years, while on the campaign trail and since his inauguration.  Business will not hire workers without some stable signs of an increase in aggregate demand, and as long as this administration sends a […]

Continue reading about The President\’s Employment Problem

President Obama 2010 SOTUAs we end the President’s first year in office, we still struggle with folks on the left complaining bitterly that those of us who share a conservative ilk are out to see Obama fail.  Never mind the fact that all I seem to hear during a Republican administration is a cacophony of angry vitriol, outright lies and attempts by Congress to undermine the critical work of the President, and I’ll accept the fact that there are many on the right who see nothing but red when they discuss the current resident of the White House.  But my goal is strictly to see America — Americans — be successful, and that means that I want to see the President be successful as well.

But the President\’s speech tonight leaves me wondering. There\’s no doubt it brought a sense of euphoria to those in need, to those who continue to promote a liberal agenda. The beginning and end of the speech brought a broad stroke of hope and confidence in who we are as a nation, as any good presidential speech should.

He made some good proposals. Some of which will make Congress uncomfortable to consider. Some of which will be hard to execute. Earmark transparency. Budget freezes. Cutting programs.

He made some popular proposals. Jobs programs. Small Business Lending programs and tax credits. Tax credits on capital investments. Bank investment reforms. Additional taxation of large banks.

And he continued to press for Health Care Reform that Americans don\’t want.

I will likely disagree with much of the spending […]

Continue reading about Obama\’s State Of The Union Promise: Can He Cut Programs?