The sign campaign run by Roe and Davis in the 1st District House seat, as well as others in races this summer reminds me of a story from the 70’s. In East Tennessee there was a heavy promotion in the media supporting a new park site called Doe River Gorge, in Carter county. It had all the makings of another Dollywood before falling on hard times. Signs seemed to be everywhere, as well as radio jingles, much like a political campaign.
So, the story goes, a reporter decides to do a street poll and stops an old mountaineer and asks who he thought would win the upcoming election. The old mountaineer said, “I can’t say for sure, but Doe River George looks fairly strong”.
If you run for political office and don’t have much to say that people can identify you by, then you need a lot of signs. Not reasonable signage, just inundate whole communities. So goes conventional wisdom. But, signs are mindless. They tell you nothing, except that the persons name on the sign favors himself.
We are beginning to pay through the nose for “sign campaigns” and”30 second spot campaigns”, as we are electing people from the White House down that don’t match up with the job. Thankfully, America may be slowly starting to discover that those campaigners with good media skills and fundraising skills cannot govern. It just simply takes more, much more, to be an effective leader. This high price we are now paying and will pay for our political break-down is the result the election process being cheapened by candidates and their sponsors running low-level campaigns.
I went to both the Roe and Davis web site to see if I could learn anything in depth about them or their politics. I found very little! Both candidates are silent on many major issues. Issues such as :
projected Social Security insolvency
significant wealth polarization
corrupt electoral process
multiple fiscal problems
sensible energy solutions
Davis voted against the bail-out of Fannie and Freddie, but offered no explanation to justify his vote. This is a pivotal issue of our time and a philosophy is important as like matters could show up again. Davis says he is a defender of conservative ideals, but fails to acknowledge the current administration does not adhere to many conservative ideals on fiscal matters. Regarding energy, Davis says “lastly” we should conserve. I’m sorry, but for the time being, conservation is firstly. Davis does state some of his beliefs; vaguely!
Roe says he is a defender of the 2nd Amendment. Davis likewise. A non-issue as a result of the Supreme Court decision this spring. Somebody needs to inform them of that ruling. Roe says he is for a balanced budget. That separates him from the Republican Party. Roe claims he will keep clean by refusing PAC money, but offers no plan to stop campaign corruption via PAC’s. Roe says he is against earmarks. He is certainly one-up on Davis there. It should be said that earmarks are more symbolic than budget busters, 17 billion in a 2.9 trillion budget, yet the symbolism is important. Earmark practitioners are cynics of the first order, so good for Roe.
Roe has delivered babies for years, and Davis worked in the nursing home business. That means both men are quite familiar with government check-writing. If you should wonder why so many people with medical backgrounds are getting into politics nowadays, it might be they see the Federal Government as a family business. Therefore, they have a deep moral obligation to protect the family business.
So far, it looks like a Doe River George year.
Nationalize may be a word we will be hearing more of in the future. Nationalize is a more palpable word than socialism. Other names for socialism are receivership and semi-socialist. But, in the end, European-style socialism is the issue! The glory of America, the uniqueness of America, and faith in the free enterprise system is at stake.
An odd variety of socialism rescued Bear Sterns. Intervention by the Administration by way of the Federal Reserve which was probably illegal. It was Wall Street taking care of their own at the expense of the rest of us because such action has incremental effects. Socialism will soon restore Fannie(Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac(Federal Home Loan and Mortgage Corporation) as soon as the Senate can take care of the formalities. Of course, it will not be called socialism, as that word has a justifiable fear associated with it. The Fannie and Freddie package will give the companies a blank check from the federal government. There has been an “implicit guarantee” for government backing of the two companies, but soon that will mature to a full-fledged and open-ended government backing. Now, tell me that is not socialism. The beneficiaries of this government support is the Wall Street investors,other stockholders and the banks.
Just today it was announced that foreclosures have increased 121% in one year. But, that is free enterprise. Free enterprise has a discipline that goes with it. Sometimes, it can be harsh discipline. The 121% made the same miscalculations as did Fannie and Freddie. The difference is Fannie and Freddie will be socialized. That is, their losses will be socialized. When everything is going well, as in the nineties and early this decade they become “private” again and enjoy the profits. Wall Street investors have a one-way bet. Fannie and Freddie’s stock prices are down now, but they will creep back up with the security that the Senate will soon codify.
Advocates for government ownership of the mortgage insurance business(i.e. Frannie/Freddie) say their demise would choke off the mortgage business. Most people,they say, would not be able to finance a hew home or at a prohibitive rate of interest. Others argue that is not only inaccurate, but nonsense. They contend the federal government has no more business in mortgages than they do in the car business, the furniture business, or the soft drink business. The mortgage business would function just as well without Fannie and Freddie. Also, banks would be more disciplined. The “ownership society” would continue to provide homes for people at the right time and at the right price.
When Fannie was created in the depression in 1938 there was no sunset provision. Later joined by Freddie Mac they grew to handle roughly three-fourths of all mortgages. Why no siblings? Even if this level of mortgage security was deemed essential why only two companies? Why not 4 or 8 or 20, and let the risk be spread and manageable.
There is another important part of this Fannie and Freddie story. Getting the two companies back on their feet is not free. Nobody knows what it will cost the taxpayers, but 25 billion has been suggested by the Congressional Budget Office. When you hear someone refer to “taxpayers” picking up the tab, they are talking about your CHILDREN and GRANDCHILDREN. But the federal debt is now piling up and one day the Fannie and Freddie troubles may be America itself.
The pressure of election and the reality of $130. a barrel oil have revealed a lot of oil illiteracy amoung politicans. The catch phrase, “drill, drill, drill” is asinine, as it assumes there is plenty of oil just waiting to be extracted and environmental concerns are a charade.
Todays illiteracy reminds me of something Sen. Barry Goldwater said during the oil crisis of the 70’s. No doubt pressured to “do something” Goldwater told reporters,” there are Congressmen up here that can’t spell oil”.
This week-end I went to a family reunion in North Carolina. While there, a conversation come up about oil prices. One of the ole mountain boys declared, “we need to drill and find new sources of energy at the same time”. I thought, that’s profound. Why, we need him in Washington. There’s not too many who think that straight up there.
Phil Roe, candidate for Congress, in the 1st District of Tennessee has placed 259,900. of his own money in the August Republican Primary. That is such a shame, considering, he is a credible candidate. His opponent, incumbent David Davis, says that people are tired of wealthy people trying to buy their way into office. Davis goes on and explains that getting money from PAC’s (political action committees) gives individuals a chance to have a voice in the political process. Are you kidding me? The first time Davis run in 1996 he used nearly a half-million of his personal funds. In 2006 he used 161K of his personal funds. Also, Davis reported that he received 259,824 from PAC’s in this current campaign. That’s about what you might expect for House incumbents with limited scruples on easy money.
PAC money for the most part is bribes. They are not a wholesome exercise of democracy and the electoral process by individuals as Davis suggests. I thought everybody knew that! Looks like Davis has opened up a “clown show”.
There’s a simple solution to the Roe’s of our world. Radio and television stations are licensed by the federal government. The pay a very token amount of money for that very special privilege; whose public service responsibilities are tantamount to effective democratic government. Therefore, radio and television stations should be MANDATED by the FCC to provide FREE air time for Congressional candidates. That mandate COULD BE fairly regulated.
In addition, radio and television stations should sponsor live debates, with or without candidates approval,for every election cycle.
The broken system, we now operate under oftentimes produces the least qualified candidate rather than the most qualified candidate.
Last week it was reported that some poll revealed that Congress received a 9% approval rating. How? How is it possible that 9% of Americans feel Congress is doing a good job. Back in the spring, when the approval rating for Congress was 22% Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina was asking the same question. He could not imagine 22% of the public thought Congress was doing a good job. Who are these people?
There is a ready answer for high gasoline prices. It is called world-wide recession or even world-wide depression. And, it has already begun. While gasoline prices may not come down quickly or substantially, they will recede as the world-wide economic picture darkens. This is called forced conservation! Unfortunately, for our country, about 70% of driving is necessary.
I watched T. Boone Pickens on CNBC this morning. He told of being Sen. Robert Dole’s campaign manager in Texas when Dole run for president in 1996. Approaching Dole with serious energy issues of the future, Dole replied, “do you see that dog sleeping over there”? Pickens said, “no”. Well,” he’s over there “, said Dole. Dole told Pickens, you know energy, but I know politics. In politics, you don’t kick a sleeping dog. Energy being the sleeping dog. I said to myself, THATS IT. That is why we are in the mess we are in. Energy was not a campaign issue in 1996, but it should have been. Our failures are not energy insufficiency as much as political inadequacy. America has had a political break-down. Sadly, it continues, even in the face of daily bad news.