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Monday, February 11, 2008

 

Result vs Process

We virtually nailed it again on Super Tuesday, with the Dems a virtual standoff, but Obama inching ahead, and McCain knocking out Romney. Of course, Huckleberry is too full of himself to go away, believing he can get the second spot on the ticket by showing what a great campaigner he is. But he is not going to get it, and my early pick for the #2 spot (FL Governor Crist) is not going to get it either, since McCain will have to pick a more authentic conservative to appease the base. Though there is talk about the MN governor, and the SC governor, I think in the end, it might be Mitt Romney, who can satisfy the base without turning off independents. He will also bring a management/executive/economic expertise to the ticket, which is not McCain's strength. The other possibility would be to find a female governor somewhere in the party. Governor Crist will have to settle for a cabinet post.

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One thing that has been illuminated in this year's campaign is the true difference between what passes for liberals and conservatives in the US (of course, by the classical definition, we are all liberals). Forget defining it by policy positions, or free market vs socialism, passivists versus militarists, etc. What is amazingly consistent is that liberals view everything according to whether the result is what they want, while conservatives treasure process. Though I contend you can view every policy difference through this prism, it really shows up in taxes and consitutional law philosophy. So liberals tend to favor the "living constitution" and its "penumbra," redistributionist tax and spending policies, government controlled health care solutions that cover everyone, etc. Conservatives want a supreme court that holds dear original intent, and relies on the explicit amendment process for any change, a tax system whose purpose is to raise revenue with a minimum of interference in business or people's private finances, and health care solutions that allow people to determine whether they need coverage or not, and puts the responsibility for paying for it with the people who want it.

For a liberal, a policy result is fair if it assures that benefits go to those who need them, and if the result looks reasonable to them. If not, change the rules, replay the game, recount the votes, etc. until the "fair" result is achieved. To conservatives, the result is fair if the established rules have been followed and the process has not been abused. Is torture for terroists OK? No, says a liberal, torture is never justified. Sure, says a conservative, the constitution says the country's safety is primary, and anyway, terrorists aren't a party to the Geneva Convention or US citizens and do not enjoy the protections either provides.

Once you see that, there is no sense arguing about policy because the sides are not on the same plane. The only thing sillier is having intra-party debates where the policy difference is over some sliver of a dispute about what's fairer, or what's the better process.

When a McCain slips up with his base, such as on immigration, you can guess how it happened. He went for what looked like a fair result for illegals, but his base believes that doesn't matter; once those immigrants ignored the process of getting here legally, the only acceptable response is deportation. Similarly, the MOVEON.org crowd won't give Hillary a pass for her war vote. Never mind that it made sense based on the information then at hand (or that it seems to be making increasing sense as the war goes better), they don't like the result (war). Conservatives won't give her a pass for anything, since, in their view, everything she has she got by lying and cheating.

That's why when I talk with my liberal friends, there are no longer any arguments. I simply say, "I realize you don't think the Bush policies have treated people fairly. My view, is that he put a better system in place for taxes, and revenue went up, collected from the people who made the money; that the war was needed to change the dynamics in the Middle East and remove one of history's butchers from power, though it may not have worked out as planned; and that the justices he put in place will interpret the constitution based on what it says. Those are the policy prescriptions we conservatives voted for. The next time you win an election, we'll have to do it your way for a while."

That day will come. More and more it looks like it might not be in 2008 though.

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As the dems move ever closer to the brokered convention described in this blog since the beginning of the campaign, consider the noise you are hearing in light of the above. What do they do about Florida and Michigan? Is it fair that their delegates should be excluded. If not, what is the fair way to select them. A revote? A split based on the popular vote in the OTHER states? What if neither candidate has a majority? Is it fair for the super delegates to pick the candidate? What about the will of the primary voters? What should be the role of the Edwards delegates?

Note that none of these questions would even occur to republicans. Is it fair? Are you kidding? Those states knew the rules. We'll seat the super delegates, but that's it. The super delegates get to vote - that's in the rules. If their votes decide it - fine. The primary voters in the other states have no rights except to bind their elected delegates for the first ballot. The nominee is picked by the party and its delegates, not the voters. Easy, right?

Unfortunately, for him and for democrats' chances none of this fairness talk is working to Al Gore's advantage. There was a time when a candidate had the option of skipping the primaries entirely, and strategizing to pick up delegates through negotiation and direct appeal. Of course, that was when a minority of states had primaries. Now, that's apparently not a fair way to get nominated according to democrats and the media. Rudy Giuliani was taken over the coals for skipping a caucus and two primaries in relatively inconsequential states. Clearly, the elites have determined that the primaries now consitute the only legitimate path to the nomination. As a conservative, I don't think much of that process.

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I made it through about 5 minutes of the Grammies last night, which is about as long as I've ever lasted. I have never understood why anyone wanted to watch or cared who won. For their part, The Counting Crows played a hastily arranged concert at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan last night, presumably to play some of the songs from the new album. I don't think the Grammies prevented a sell-out.

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Last Wenesday, I bought another 100 shares of Bryn Mawr Bank (BMTC) at 20.96. Today, I bought 600 shares of Limco - Piedmont (LIMC), a new name recommended to me by my full service broker. When I buy through him, I double my purchase in dollars to alleviate the extra commission a little. The price was 7.35. Meanwhile, AIG wrote down another $5 billion today, and the total writedowns by financial service companies in this debacle is approaching $150 billion, on its way to $300 billion or even a trillion dollars, depending on who you talk to. Of course, dollars ain't what they used to be either.

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