Mike Kueber's Blog

November 3, 2016

My presidential vote

Filed under: People,Politics,Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 3:41 am
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As I was standing in line to vote today at the Shavano Park City Hall, I noticed that most people in line were reading from their phone, so I decided to join them.  I subscribe to the NY Times and one of the first items to pop up was conservative columnist Ross Douthat’s column titled, “An election is not a suicide mission.”

During the 30-minute wait, I read the column.  Like the Times’s other conservative columnist, David Brooks, Ross Douthat can’t abide Trump, so I guessed correctly what the column was going to say.   He concludes as follows:

  • I agree with them that grave evils will follow from electing Hillary Clinton. But the Trump alternative is like a feckless war of choice in the service of some just-seeming end, with a commanding general who likes war crimes. It’s a ticket on a widening gyre, promising political catastrophe and moral corruption both, no matter what ideals seem to justify it.
  • It is a hard thing to accept that some elections should be lost, especially in a country as divided over basic moral premises as our own. But just as the pro-life movement ultimately won real gains — in lives saved, laws altered, abortion rates reduced — by accepting the legitimacy of the republic even as it deplored the killing of the unborn, so today’s conservatism has far more to gain from the defeat of Donald Trump, and the chance to oppose Clintonian progressivism unencumbered by his authoritarianism, bigotry, misogyny and incompetence, than it does from answering the progressive drift toward Caesarism with a populist Elagabalus.
  • Not because it is guaranteed long-term victory in that scenario or any other. But because the deepest conservative insight is that justice depends on order as much as order depends on justice. So when Loki or the Joker or some still-darker Person promises the righting of some grave wrong, the defeat of your hated enemies, if you will only take a chance on chaos and misrule, the wise and courageous response is to tell them to go to hell.

Douthat’s rationale reflected why I had already decided I would not vote for Donald Trump.  Although he is more conservative than Hillary Clinton, his character is so seriously flawed that a Trump presidency is too risky.  With President Clinton, conservatives can continue to work the democratic process in favor of our policies, and hope that Mitt Romney was engaged in hyperbole when he warned about the tipping point when government moochers become a majority in America.

But I am unwilling to vote for Hillary Clinton, either, not only because of her progressive policies, but also because of her flawed character.  If forced to appoint Trump or Hillary as president, I would appoint Hillary.  But as a protest against both of the two leading candidates, I decided to vote for independent conservative Evan McMullin.  According to the leading election prognosticators, McMullan has a 20% chance of winning Utah, and if a win in Utah prevents either Clinton or Trump from securing an electoral majority, the US House will decide the election, and McMullan would be an excellent compromise President.

And in any event, if Hillary can’t defeat Trump without the vote of true conservatives like me, heaven help us.

 

 

 

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February 21, 2015

Does President Obama love America?

Filed under: Culture,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:21 pm
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Rudy Giuliani is catching a lot of liberal flack for suggesting that President Obama doesn’t love America. According to a Politico story, Giuliani said the following at a private fundraiser in NYC for Wisc. Governor Scott Walker:

  • I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

(Incidentally, private fundraisers are proving to be a boon for political journalism. That is where Romney talked about the 47% and Obama talked about people clinging to their guns and religion.)

Of course, Giuliani is not especially relevant nowadays, so the liberal media are using his comments to attack the candidacy of Governor Walker, who, according to the Washington Post, sat spinelessly at the fundraiser where the calumny was spoken.

The NY Times in a follow-up interview had Giuliani respond to charges that he was prejudiced:

  • Some people thought it was racist — I thought that was a joke, since he was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools, and most of this he learned from white people. This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”

(The Times outrageously titled this article, “Giuliani: Obama Had a White Mother, So I’m Not a Racist.”  Talk about taking something out of context.)

Giuliani also challenged reporters to find examples of Mr. Obama expressing love for his country:

  • I’m happy for him to give a speech where he talks about what’s good about America and doesn’t include all the criticism…. I want an American president to raise our spirits again, like a Ronald Reagan…. What I don’t find with Obama — this will get me in more trouble again — is a really deep knowledge of history. I think it’s a dilettante’s knowledge of history.”

Not surprisingly, this challenge has gone unanswered.

It’s impossible to know what is in someone’s heart, and Christians are frequently enjoined from judging others (judge not, lest ye be judged), but I think politics are different. Voters must make judgments in choosing who to follow.

I blogged previously about President Obama, American exceptionalism, and patriotism, and I believe Giuliana’s charge is essentially the same thing as those earlier charges that President Obama didn’t believe in American exceptionalism, or that he wasn’t patriotic because he refused to wear a flag in his lapel, or that Michelle Obama in 2008 responded to her husband’s electoral success by saying, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

Patriotism or love of country are not “all or nothing” things. Rather, they are continuums. I believe that cosmopolitan progressives are generally not as far on the continuum of patriotic love as are provincial conservatives. And President Obama is by far the most cosmopolitan progressive ever elected president of the United States.

Rudy is probably thinking, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

February 11, 2015

Scott Walker – future president?

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:29 pm
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About a year ago, I blogged about Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s new book, called Unintimidated. In my blog I suggested that, although Walker appears competent, he comes across as simple-minded and lacking in charisma. Since that time, Walker’s presidential prospects have improved, and he is widely considered to be the leading Republican contender along with Jeb Bush.

As a leading conservative contender, you might that the liberal press would start attacking him, and you would be correct. Today’s Washington Post contained a long expose on Walker’s college and early post-college years. Two items that I found most interesting were:

  1. Walker never earned a degree and was apparently a mediocre student. Through the years, I’ve notice that politicians rarely release their college transcripts, and I assume this reluctance is based on poor performance in college. Why do people who do well in politics often fail to have the skillset needed to do well in college?
  2. Walker was a campus politician. Politicians often claim to be interested in public service (Walker does), but their history reveals that they pursue political positions, not because of public service (what possible public service is involved in student government?), but because it satisfies their ego. Although I try to avoid voting for politicians who start their career in high school or college, it is not easy to find candidates who didn’t start that early.

November 16, 2014

Bush-43 on Bush-41

Filed under: Biography,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:04 pm
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George W. Bush has been making the rounds in the media this week to promote his new book, 41: A Portrait of My Father. “41” of course is a reference to his father, George H.W. Bush, being the 41st president of the United States. W. is known as Bush-43.

As part of the media promotion, Parade magazine this week published an excerpt from the first chapter of the book, dealing with Bush-41 parachuting on his 90th birthday.

But in addition to the excerpt, Parade published a brief interview of Bush-43 that, although directed at Bush-41, says a lot about Bush-43.

Two of the Q&As were as follows:

  • Your book proves that your father is different from the stiff, blue-blooded image that many have of him.
    • He is a blue blood in the sense that he was raised up in the East. But what people don’t realize is that his parents were from the Midwest, so there was inculcated in him some midwestern values. This is a man who worked incredibly hard in anything he did. In this case, he was selling oilfield supplies. As I put in the book, there were no trust funds; there were no guarantees. [I love how Bush-43 accepts the premise that Northeastern bluebloods are a unique breed, but then ameliorates that trait in his father due to some Midwestern roots.]
  • Your father has been a tremendous risk taker. Where do you think that came from?
    • I think it came from the early experiences. This is a man who at age 17 decides to join the navy and not go to college, against the advice of his father and [Secretary of War] Henry Stimson, for example. He wanted to serve. Then he gets shot down—and by the way, flying off of carriers was very risky—and survives. To me, the rest of the risks that he took in his life were minor compared to that. [I love how Bush-43 placed in proper context the difference between business and political risks as compared to life-or-death risks.]

October 12, 2014

Walden Shelton – Bexar County judge

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:50 am
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I met Walden Shelton several years ago on the campaign hustings. Although I was running for the high office of congressman and he was running merely for a local judgeship, he was obviously a much more seasoned, traditional politician who freely gave me advice on the campaign importance of meet-and-greets and yard signs. By contrast, I was relying on brochures and block-walking.

Walden seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and I don’t know if he won that election, but he is currently running for re-election and recently posted the following on his Facebook page:

  • I attend anywhere from 2 to 4 events a night campaigning, to meet as many potential voters as possible. That’s my job as a candidate. I may not agree 100% with all of the views of the folks that I meet, nor do I expect anyone to agree with me 100% of the time–we are different in our own way. I talk to folks about my experience; how I treat everyone with dignity and respect no matter what their background; that I have been a leader in DWI cases; that I have saved taxpayers over $100k per year in operating expenses; reduced the backlog by over 550 cases; and that I follow the law and continue to do so. This is why I have been endorsed by the San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio Police Officers Association, Bexar County Adult Probations Officers Association, San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, Defense Council of San Antonio, and others. Early voting starts October 20, with the general election on Nov.4. I respectively request your vote. If you would like to volunteer to work the polls, please let me know.

Walden’s claim to 2 to 4 events a night is stupefying. When I ran for City Council in 2012, there were about 15-20 candidate forums over the course of the entire campaign, and I thought that was an impressive number. Going to multiple events every night would be incredibly draining. And for what purpose?

According to the title of Rick Casey’s column in the SA Express-News today, “Judicial elections are a lottery.”  Casey points out that, because Bexar County has 47 judicial elections on its ballot, its voters are wholly unable to make intelligent selections and instead make their decisions based on party affiliation. Some years a team of Republicans sweep into office and other years the Democrats do, but rarely is there any ticket splitting.

So my question is – why the hell is Walden working so hard?

August 26, 2014

Paul Ryan and the Ice Bucket Challenge

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:45 pm
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Facebook is plastered with posts making fun of Paul Ryan for taking the Ice Bucket Challenge despite previously trying to eliminate federal funding of ALS research. Because Ryan and Romney are two of my favorite politicians, I decided to investigate whether the posters had a point. Not surprisingly, the facts expose the posts are inaccurate and misleading:

  • Inaccurate.  Ryan did not vote to eliminate funding of ALS research. Rather he voted to reduce federal funding for the National Institutes of Health, which resulted in federal funding for ALS research being reduced from $44 million to $39 million.
  • Misleading.  It is not hypocritical for a conservative politicians to decline spending taxpayer money on charitable/altruistic activities while privately spending their personal money on those activities. To the contrary, that is entirely consistent with their personal and political philosophy. Liberal politicians, on the other hand, are noted for their quick willingness to spend taxpayer money on good causes, but exceptionally reluctant to devote their personal assets to those causes.

The happy ending? Thanks to Paul Ryan and other participants, over $30 million has been raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge, more than enough to offset any reductions in federal spending.

p.s., as of August 28, the Challenge has raised almost $100 million.

May 19, 2014

Castro crawfishing

Filed under: People — Mike Kueber @ 4:55 pm

For the past few days, the local and national media has been reporting that San Antonio’s mayor, Julian Castro, will be taking a new job in Washington.  Although Castro had coveted the job of heading the Department of Education, he has apparently decided to accept the job of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the same job that his controversial predecessor, Henry Cisneros, had during the Clinton administration.

As expected, the media attention has been fawning, with a focus on how this new job will prepare him to run as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.  No one has thought to charge Castro with violating an express promise to his San Antonio constituents that he would serve as the San Antonio mayor for all of the eight years allowed under the city’s term-limit rule.  It seems that the voters have become so cynical about political promises that no one considers it noteworthy for another politician to blatantly crawfish on his broadly disseminated commitment.

Even if one doesn’t expect politicians to keep their promises, one might think there would be some curiosity in the media for understanding what prompted Castro to change his mind.  I suggest that Castro, like Sarah Palin, has tired of the “dream job” and wants to “get while the getting’s good.”  By leaving now, he can claim his legacy of “Pre-K 4 SA” and can distance himself from the impending demise of the foundering street-car project.  And he can avoid the embarrassment of another election that shows how unpopular he has become.

In the business world, this kind of behavior is common-place – i.e., moving on and up before your bad decisions catch up with you.  Because of the fawning media, this move is a no-brainer.

May 14, 2014

An open letter to the I-Man

Filed under: Culture,Media,People — Mike Kueber @ 6:37 pm
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Dear I-Man,

Dolly Parton was such a great guest today, not only with her singing, but also with her delightful interview.  But I’m afraid that she was so distracting that you totally screwed up your interview of Lanny Davis.

The interview started with you teasing Davis about being a crisis worm, but that doesn’t do justice to Davis’s reputation as the “lobbyist for despots.”  According to a 2010 article in the NY Times:

  • Since leaving the White House, Mr. Davis has built a client list that now includes coup supporters in Honduras, a dictator in Equatorial Guinea, for-profit colleges accused of exploiting students, and a company that dominates the manufacture of additives for infant formula. This month, he agreed to represent the Ivory Coast strongman whose claims to that country’s presidency have been condemned by the international community and may even set off a civil war.”

Despite Davis’s promiscuous resume, you allowed him to piously declare that he would not represent Donald Sterling.  According to him, Sterling has “no clue how bad he is and there is no crisis manager in the world who can help him other than a physician who would advise him mentally.”  How about pushing Davis to explain why third-world despots deserve representation, but Sterling doesn’t?

When you raised the issue of violated privacy, you actually led Lanny into excusing the violation because Sterling is not a private person, but rather owns an NBA team, “which is a public institution with a significant number of African-Americans.  He is a racist and a bigot….  He ought to just sell the team and be quiet and go off and be a bigot somewhere quietly.”  Normally, you don’t allow sanctimonious blowhards to pontificate on your show.

Immediately following his pontification, you segued to Monica Lewinsky, and Davis shockingly said that it is unfortunate to have to regurgitate this matter because “a lot of people made some very bad mistakes.  President Clinton publically owned up to his mistakes. We all have these types human weaknesses.  I just feel sorry that it’s back again.  I hope she’s able to move on with her life.”  Surely, there has never been anyone more set up to be knocked off his high horse.

In the span of a few minutes, Davis had argued that Sterling had no right to privacy because he owned an NBA team and because of the bigotry expressed in a private conversation, he should crawl into a hole and die.  By contrast, with respect to Bill Clinton, who procured oral sex from a young intern in the Oval Office, we should all forgive and forget.  Instead of blasting this bullshit out of the water, you meekly moved onto the next topic on your talking points – some crisis about an anti-gay Sultan owning a hotel in California.

We all have off days, and we can blame it on Dolly.

Here’s to better days ahead,

Sincerely,

Mike Kueber

San Antonio

April 20, 2014

Dan Patrick’s invasion

Filed under: Culture,Issues,Law/justice,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 5:29 pm
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Lite-guv candidate Dan Patrick has been criticized extensively in the media for comparing illegal immigration in America to an invasion. Before discussing the merits of that criticism, it might be helpful to ascertain the meaning on the term.

According to one of the most definitive dictionaries in America, Merriam-Webster, there are three alternatives:

  1. to enter (a place, such as a foreign country) in order to take control by military force
  2. to enter (a place) in large numbers
  3. to enter or be in (a place where you are not wanted)

How can anyone argue that definitions 2 and 3 aren’t perfectly fitting? There are an estimated 1.65 million illegal immigrants in Texas and 11-12 million illegal immigrants in America. Those are large numbers. And, despite the sentiments of liberal and conservative scofflaws, these people are living in the shadows because they are living here illegally, so it’s hard to argue that they are wanted.

Case closed.

 

March 16, 2014

Dog whistling

Filed under: Culture,Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:34 pm
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Several months ago, a liberal Facebook friend started criticizing politicians for communicating with a dog whistle.  Although the term first came into use in 1988 in the context of political polling, it only recently came to be oft used by liberals to disparage conservative messages as racist or homophobic.  A couple of definitions from two of my favorite resources:

  • The Urban Dictionary defines this term as “a type of strategy of communication that sends a message that the general population will take a certain meaning from, but a certain group that is ‘in the know’ will take away the secret, intended message.”
  • Wikipedia describes dog-whistle politics as “political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The phrase is only used as a pejorative, because of the inherently deceptive nature of the practice and because the dog-whistle messages are frequently themselves distasteful, for example by empathizing with racist or revolutionary attitudes. It is an analogy to dog whistles, which are built in such a way that their high-frequency whistle is heard by dogs, but is inaudible to humans.”

An article in Politico today provides a perfect example of a conservative politician being attacked by liberals for being racist based on comments that seem unassailable.  Former Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan said the following about one of America’s greatest problems:

  • “The Wisconsin Republican and self-styled budget wonk linked poverty to ‘this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.’”

But Politico does not think the statement is unassailable:

  • “Setting aside the factual claim—the notion that poverty is especially concentrated in America’s inner cities is an increasingly antiquated one—these comments elicited a quick and forceful rebuke from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who decried them as ‘a thinly veiled racial attack.’ She explained: ‘[W]hen Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city,’ when he says, ‘culture,’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black.’”

Let’s not set aside the factual claim.  Politico provides a link to a NY Times article that ostensibly refutes the factual claim, but for readers those who take the time to go to the link, they will find an article that states the following:

  • “Few topics in American society have more myths and stereotypes surrounding them than poverty, misconceptions that distort both our politics and our domestic policy making.  They include the notion that poverty affects a relatively small number of Americans, that the poor are impoverished for years at a time, that most of those in poverty live in inner cities, that too much welfare assistance is provided and that poverty is ultimately a result of not working hard enough. Although pervasive, each assumption is flat-out wrong.”

If you read closely, you will see that the Times says nothing contrary to poverty being especially concentrated in America’s inner cities.  This is the same sort of argument made about the food-stamp president.  Just as there are more whites than blacks on food stamps, there is more white poverty than black poverty.  But food stamps and poverty are clearly more concentrated with minorities.

When the critics say that “inner city” is a code word for “black,” I admit that most people think that most inner cities are populated by mostly minorities.  So?  Most people don’t think most black people live in inner cities.

Ryan is talking about something different than poverty alone.  Rather, he is talking about a subset of impoverished people who are surrounded by or immersed in a hopeless culture where men generally do not work.  Ryan suggests that this problem is especially bad in the inner cities, and if the critics can provide any other segment of society that is similarly afflicted, then I will listen.

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