What the Hell is a “RINO” Anyway???

I have serious problems understanding the definition of the term ‘RINO’. The term is supposed to mean a Moderate Republican, i.e. a Republican that shares views with a Democrat. However, the term is used by so many contradictory parties that it lacks real meaning. Many people hold up President Reagan as the hard definition of a true conservative, with his quote of “the soul of conservatism is libertarianism”.

In the 2012 election, the four Republican candidates each represented a key demographic of the current Republican base. There was Mitt Romney, a Mormon westerner who had become merged with the moderate eastern Money Trust Rockefeller establishment. There was Rick Santorum, a right-wing Catholic obsessed with social issues and ready to wage a Christian jihad. There was Newt Gingrich, a Baptist-turned-Catholic career politicians who’d passed centrist legislation throughout the Clinton administration. And of course, Ron Paul, a libertarian carrying the youth vote, ironically carrying views of a politician born in the 1890s, who would have been a member of the bipartisan anti-Roosevelt Old Right coalition.

The idea of a RINO came into existence around the campaign of Barry Goldwater, an Arizona Senator, who won the 1964 nomination instead of Nelson A. Rockefeller, the grandchild shared by John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil and Senator Nelson Aldrich, who pitched the original idea for the Federal Reserve. Even though he won the nomination, Goldwater was written off as an “extremist” by many, and Rockefeller was considered a “moderate”. But what does this really mean?

As America was still very homogenous in 1964, most regions had a strong local culture. At the time, the Republican base was comprised of Midwestern Lutherans, Western Mormons, wealthy New England Episcopalians, and transient career military families. At the time, most Southern Baptists and Catholics were still largely Democrats. Goldwater winning Southern states in 1964 did not permanently secure the Solid South as red states, despite the widely toted myth. (Third party Wallace of 1968 and Democrat Carter of 1976 prove this.) As a general phenomenon, the lower-middle-class flyover demographics were known as the extremists, while the upper-middle-class city and suburban folk were known as the moderates.

Despite being categorized as a “right-wing extremist” in 1964, Goldwater still had little in common with the heartland evangelicals of today. Goldwater had no connection to fundamentalist Christianity like Governors Perry or Palin. One side of his family was Jewish, and the other side was Yankee Episcopalians, and Goldwater was an Episcopalian his whole life. Goldwater supported no legislation in regards to gay marriage, drugs, or abortion. Goldwater is directly quoted as saying, “Mark my words, if and when these preachers get control of the Republican party, and sure they’re trying to do so, there’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly these people frighten me”.

Everything Barry Goldwater predicted about the Christian fundamentalist hijack eventually came true. Now the term RINO has a whole new meaning than when two socially liberal Episcopalians were vying for the nomination in 1964. Many Republicans referred to John McCain (a career military man with no regional ties) and Mitt Romney (a flip-flopper from the far left state of Massachusetts) as RINOs or moderates. But when Obama ran against them in 2008 and 2012, his campaign spent countless efforts painting the two candidates as right-wing extremists

Since 2008, the mainstream liberal media outlets have generally painted all Republican candidates in the same stereotype: old, uncool, racist, sexist, cranky, corny, money-hoarding, miserly Mr. Scrooges, obstructing Obama’s hip-and-groovy “CHANGE”. It mattered little how moderate McCain’s and Romney’s records were, the media rhetoric implied that anyone running against Obama had a closeted agenda with the same motivations as the Thurmond, Wallace, or Duke campaigns. Vice President Biden shouted out to an audience during a debate with Paul Ryan, “Romney is gonna put you all back in chains”. The MSM saw no problem with this.

So what are the concrete issues that make or break the difference between the RINOs and a non RINO? Is it the military, war, and foreign policy? Is it economics? Is it Christian social issues? (a dead horse, as far as I’m concerned) Are the rants espoused by Limbaugh, Hannity, and other Fox News anchors the policies that anyone who runs as a Republican are “supposed” to have? Fox anchor Ann Coulter referred to libertarians as “pussies”, and implied that supporting drug legalization was RINO/moderate, by mashing  different ideologies from left and right. Everyone has different definitions of RINO.

So this brings up the question: Was Ron Paul a “RINO”? Fox News certainly said so in the 2012 election. Were Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater “RINOs”? Many Democrats who hate the Tea Party would say so today. Although one must acknowledge Ron Paul’s ultraconservative personal views, one should realize he would give power back to the fifty state governments, with the intention that each American demographic can carve out a haven. There is no point pretending that Ron Paul is a hip guy with young libertarian social ideas: his views have changed little since he was a medical student in the 1950s.

Despite this, Ron Paul had the potential to represent a purge of many issues that the left hates about the Republicans; policies relating to drugs, gays, abortion, corporate bailouts, but most importantly, the wars in the Middle East. This was only exacerbated by Rick Santorum’s extremist Christian authoritarian rants, and his comment that he wanted to “fight against libertarian influence in the Republican party”. Despite the Obama administration’s continued drone warfare allover the Middle East, the Obama 2012 campaign repeated the same 2008 rhetoric that this was Bush’s personal, Republican, corporate, Islamophobic war. Simultaneously, the other three Republicans called Ron Paul an isolationist coward for his foreign policy. Ron Paul could have been the perfect moderate with ideas compromising from both sides, and yet they trashed and defamed him every possible chance.

Unfortunately, it is the Tea Party, and not moderate Republicans or Democrats, who have been blamed for the government shutdown. Personally, I think the Republicans handling the shutdown is a poorly planned reactionary idea. This kind of political activism only works if the libertarian-leaning Republicans were to shut down the government about the wars in the Middle-East, or the incarcerations of non-violent drug offenders. Otherwise, the MSM will just paint them as quintessential obstructionist right-wing cranks, as they have done so far.

McCain’s machine of moderate Republicans have marched in lockstep behind Obamacare, in an attempt to make Ted Cruz and other libertarian-leaning Republicans look like the “extremists”, Obama-haters, and Confederate secessionists. Despite the fact that libertarians are supposed to share a good bit ground with progressives, Democrats and moderates are together pointing to libertarianism “the far right fringe”. Moderate Republicans need to keep in mind that when is all over, the liberal media outlets will put all Republicans, moderate and conservative, in the same category as tongue-speaking, back-alley-abortion-causing, end-of-times, Limbaugh-hypnotized, warmongering, theocratic neo-confederates no matter what.

If liberal Democrats prefer moderate ‘Rockefeller Republicans’, or big government Republicans, let them have each other. If they think the enemy is small town, small business people, let them feel that way. Democrats can have Republicans like the Bushes, an old New England Money Trust family, long term ally of the Rockefellers, with CIA connections and investments in the baby Standard Oil corporations. After all, when corporate exploitation, global imperialism, and war profiteering makes millions, they can cash in and use the money to look humanitarian later in life. Just don’t dress him up like a Texas good ol’ boy, and then blame flyover folk for him.

Not Reagan, Goldwater, Taft, Coolidge, Eisenhower, or possibly even Bush, Sr. would ever have done what George W. Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan, or what Nixon did in Vietnam. (both cited for the claim: “Republicans are warmongers”) Meanwhile, Democrats Wilson, Truman, and Johnson started long wars based on the idealistic grounds of “spreading democracy”. It is the imperialist Republican war machine and CIA added to the liberal Democrat dream of international government that make a poisonous combination together.

Maybe a RINO is what we want. If RINO means secular Republican; with no evangelical Christian dogma influencing government policy, then RINO is good. If RINO means Republican who embraces science and new technology, then RINO is good. If RINO means anti-war Republican, who wants to cut military spending, then RINO is good. If RINO means socially liberal Republican, then RINO is good. If RINO does not recite unoriginal reactionary propaganda from Fox News, then RINO is good. If RINO is opposed to neo-conservative foreign policy, then RINO is good. Maybe RINO is what we need after all.

barry-goldwater-on-preachers

The Mystique of Hedge Funds

Hedge funds are controversial these days. Though it’s unlikely that the average citizen or the average congressman could say just what hedge funds do, many are certain they must be reined in by additional regulation because they can—and do—cause widespread damage to our financial system. Almost everyone takes it for granted that regulation of some sort is the solution, ignoring the possibility that at least some of the problems are actually caused by regulation.

What is a hedge fund? The name implies hedging, a strategy that reduces risk. If you bet on several horses in a race, you are hedging your bets—spreading your risk. You can buy gold to hedge against inflation. You can sell interest-rate futures to hedge the risk that rising interest rates would pose to your bond portfolio.

The first hedge fund was created in 1949 by Alfred Jones. He believed he could pick stocks that would outperform and those that would underperform the overall market. But Jones didn’t know where the overall market was going, so he would buy his expected outperformers and sell short the expected underperformers. He thereby insulated his portfolio from general market moves, which would affect about half his holding positively and half negatively.

Most present-day hedge funds don’t do much hedging, but the name persists. Instead, they engage in a bewildering variety of trading methods, including buying on margin (using borrowed funds) and selling short (selling borrowed assets so as to profit from a price drop). They trade stocks, bonds, options, currencies, commodity futures, and sophisticated derivatives thereof. Some try to anticipate global political or economic events, while others seek opportunities in specific industries or companies. Continue reading

No, Thanks.

I am not much on my blog these days because I am still trying to recover from the defeat. It’s not going well. As you can imagine, mine is not a case of doomed man-love for Gov. Romney. I am not Chris Matthew with the thing, the tingle, going up his leg when he thinks of Barack Obama, and the Governor is not Mr Obama.

I am musing about re-emigration. It’s ridiculous at my age, as well as impractical. Still, there is the strangest turnabout since the Soviet Union took Pres. Reagan’s invitation to get lost: Canada is doing better than the US economically as well as according to several of my values. I am remembering that treaty that put and end to the French and Indian Wars. I think it left the back door open for speakers of French.

And then, if I am going to live under statism why not do it under those who have much practice at it, and who also cook much better than Mexicans? (I am referring here to American restaurants here, obviously) I wonder if the French would take me back? Perhaps, if I promised to keep my mouth shut about the quality of French popular music? Some of you have noticed that I keep up with my French, just in case. That’s my Vichy side. (Look it up.)

This immigrant does not find much to be thankful for this year, for the first time ever. I think an economic disaster is coming to the USA. I hope I am simply wrong. By the way, where are my liberal critics who are always so eager to prove to me how completely and utterly wrong I am when I need them?

Around the Web

Matt Steinglass has a couple of great posts over at Democracy in America:

  1. Mitt Romney on Israel: Kicking the Can
  2. Mitt Romney’s Problems: Elite Defections

Paul Pillar of the National Interest picks on Romney as well

As I keep saying over and over: Mitt Romney is going to win the election. Why? Because the economy sucks. If it gets better within the next seven months, then Obama will get four more years to urinate on the rule of law and our federal republic.

K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid.

And last but definitely not least, Marxist historian Gabriel Kolko sets the historical record straight on Herbert Hoover and his supposed laissez-faire policies: The New Deal Illusion. This is a must read (h/t Steve Horwitz).

Fact-Checking Politicians

I know the last thing everybody wants to hear is another political rant, but I’m going to give it to you anyway.

Has anybody noticed the recent slew of “fact-checking” sheets and reports that have come out since Paul Ryan’s VP speech at the GOP convention*?

Does it really come as a shock to people to find out that politicians lie? I can’t wait to see the other side come out with the same kinds of reports after Joe Biden and the current demagogue-in-chief give their speeches.

Politicians lie? Really? Who would’ve thunk…

Here’s my two cents: Democrats lie more often than Republicans. Hands down. There are always exceptions to the rules, and being more honest than the Democratic Party is not exactly a milestone achievement.

Many people said this race might be the most interesting in a while (thanks to the protection of free speech that Citizens United upheld), but Continue reading

Romney and “Defense”

“If you don’t want America to be the strongest nation in the world, I’m not your President.”  Thus spake candidate Romney recently.  Well, I don’t and he’s not.

Sure, you could interpret “strongest” to mean most prosperous, fairest, etc.  But we all know darn well what Mitt, who is pals with the Zionist militant Netanyahu, had in mind: military might.

Of all the urgently needed reforms in this country, I submit that dismantling the empire is #1.  It is bankrupting us, generating enemies for us, and turning our homeland into a police state.

Yes, I said empire.  Depending on how you count, there are as many as 737 US military bases scattered across the globe, about 38 of which are medium- to large sized.  The number of military and other government personnel involved plus private contractors runs into the millions.  The CIA is hated all over the world and for good reasons.  And as Brandon Christensen pointed out, the US defense umbrella weakens incentives for the Europeans, Japanese, et. al., to take care of themselves.

Obama’s record on these matters is mixed.  The good news: the Iraq war has ended (for the present; keep your fingers crossed), Afghanistan is winding down, and cuts in the “defense” budget are coming.  On the other side of the ledger, there have been ominous buildups in Australia and Central Africa.  On the home front, the police state is escalating and the spiral toward bankruptcy is accelerating.  A pretty awful report card in all, yet Romney could make it worse.

No, I haven’t lost my senses.  I will not vote for Obama, who I believe to be hell-bent for fascist dictatorship, in consequence if not by conscious design.  If you forced me to choose between him and Romney I would cross my arms and refuse to choose.  I’m voting for Gary Johnson, who has called for a 43% cut in “defense” spending.

Around the Web

Isn’t California broke?

Savage Continent. European women and their Nazi boyfriends.

A Family-Plus Outing. Islam at the Beach: Santa Cruz edition.

As I keep saying, this election is Romney’s to lose.

Sorry ’bout the short posts from me lately. I hope everybody is enjoying their summer!

The Future of ObamaCare: Massachusetts Edition

I apologize for the lack of activity on this blog lately. School is either just out or finishing up, so I’m sure blogging will pick up in a few days or so.

Anyway, I found this article via Twitter the other day. It’s about the debate going on in Massachusetts about RomneyCare and how to control the costs that are spiraling out of control. Unfortunately, the article is a bit skinny on details and I am sure the debate is focused on keeping the status quo or giving the government an even greater role in health care markets, but I found this line from a state representative (and Democrat) to be most informing:

“The market is most certainly not working. The market is absolutely broken. Health care costs have been rising at 6.7-8% annually over the past decade.”

Yikes. I have a question: if you break a man’s legs and then tell him to run a five-minute mile, will he succeed? The rising costs, of course, are the real problem here, and one that won’t be fixed by introducing more incentives to keep prices both ambiguous and in some cases arbitrary.

RomneyCare, for those of you who don’t know (on this blog? yeah right!) has served as the blueprint for ObamaCare and it involves a nasty combination of forcing people to buy to buy insurance and subsidizing those who do not (or cannot due to the predictable price increase of insurance after the mandate went into effect).

There is no doubt in my mind that actual market-based solutions were proposed in the debates. Here are a couple via economist Tyler Cowen: Continue reading

“Stocks Slammed as Dow Erases 2012 Gains”

That’s the title to a headline piece over at CNN.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) plunged 275 points, or 2.2%, the biggest one-day drop since November. The blue-chip index gave up all its gains for the year, and is now 99 points below where it finished 2011. The S&P 500 (SPX) lost 32 points, or 2.5%, and the Nasdaq (COMP) dropped 80 points, or 2.8%.

Ouch. The cause of the plunge?

“The U.S. employment report was simply terrible,” said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.

The May jobs report showed only 69,000 jobs were added to payrolls, less than half the 150,000 jobs forecast by economists surveyed by CNNMoney. The unemployment rate ticked higher for the first time in a year, rising to 8.2%.

I take three things away from this: Continue reading

Republican Presidential Primaries

I don’t have any witty comments or analysis because I have not been watching any of the debates or following them with any vigor. I heard Romney won both Michigan and Arizona last night, which means he’ll probably get the nomination.

What are the chances that he will have a smooth ride through the GOP convention? I think Santorum and Gingrich will fall in line and support him, but Ron Paul is quietly sweeping up delegates and I think he is going to make a major stink at the convention. He will not get too radical because of his son’s future in the Party, but he’s going to force Romney to make some concessions.

I think Paul will press him on a number of issues, but Romney will only capitulate to the Federal Reserve argument Paul so often speaks about. Gold Commission 2013?

None of this matters, of course. Obama will be re-elected. From a pragmatic point of view: he has killed bin Laden, waged a successful air war against a now-dead dictator in the Middle East, and not managed to get us into any more quagmires (yet). Continue reading