Mike Kueber's Blog

November 3, 2016

My presidential vote

Filed under: People,Politics,Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 3:41 am
Tags: , ,

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.




May 19, 2015

Is Hillary Clinton slimy?

Filed under: Politics — Mike Kueber @ 11:18 pm

Recently Bill O’Reilly on his TV show was discussing Hillary Clinton with pundits Mary Katharine Ham and Juan Williams.  Their discussion was prompted by a report that since January 2014, Bill and Hillary Clinton had collected in excess of $25 million for giving 100 speeches (more than $250,000 a pop).

When a liberal friend of mine on Facebook defended Hillary, I commented the following:

  • Getting paid millions of dollars to speak to special-interest fat cats is not a respectable way for noble public servants to behave, IMO. Those fat cats expect a return on their investment because they know that the Clintons are still playing the game of influence.”

Mary Katharine, however, used more colorful language and characterizing Hillary as “slimy.”  Not surprisingly, mainstream O’Reilly was taken aback by her use of that term.  Me, too, even though Mary Katharine is a bit of a provocateur akin to Ann Coulter.

After the show, I decided to research the precise meaning of “slimy.”  According to Merriam-Webster – “very dishonest, bad, or immoral.”  According to The Free Dictionary – “morally repulsive, as in being dishonest or corrupt.”

When I googled to see if any other pundits online had connected Hillary to slime, I was not surprised to see that Mary Katharine had penned a column on the subject.  This is not the first time I’ve noticed that a TV pundit who seems to be extemporaneously pontificating with great eloquence on a subject is actually recapitulating a column that was written earlier.

But Mary Katharine wasn’t the only online pundit connecting Hillary to slime. Indeed, liberal columnist Maureen Dowd for the NY Times three months ago accused the Clintons of replacing their previous War Room with a Slime Room.

So, slimy is not a word that rolls of my tongue in civil conversation, but I think the Clinton’s money-grubbing conduct while they claim to be public servants is very bad and corrupt.

March 27, 2011

Sunday morning talk shows

Sundays are special to me partly because of Sunday morning talk shows.  It’s probably a sign of the times that my three favorite shows can be found on three relatively new channels:

  1. ESPN’s The Sports Reporters.  I have loved this show for at least 15 years.  I remember Tina Spencer and I often sitting in my office for too long on Monday afternoons in A Building, comparing notes about the show, which we watched religiously.  Dick Schaap was the host until September 2001, when he died unexpectedly from surgical complications, and he was replaced by John Saunders.  Although Schaap seemed the perfect host, Saunders has equaled him.  The rotating three-guest panel often includes newspaper reporters Mike Lupica (NYC), Bob Ryan (Boston), or Mitch Albom (Detroit).
  2. CNN’s Reliable Sources.  This show is exceptional not only because its host Howie Kurtz is such a smart, middle-of-the-road questioner, but also because of the subject matter – i.e., the media.  I am fascinated by the role of the media in modern politics, even though the media has a generally-accepted bias toward liberal positions.
  3. FOX’s FOX News Sunday.  I have only recently started watching FOX News Sunday (FNS).  As with the other three major Sunday Morning Shows – NBC’ s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week – they key to success is the host.  FNS’s host is Chris Wallace, and he has the same traits as Howie Kurtz – he is smart and middle-of-the-road.  (Although Wallace is the son of 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace, he was raised by another newsman.)  

On this morning’s FNS, Wallace reported something disturbing.  He said that the Obama administration had made Secretaries Hillary Clinton and Bob Gates available to the talk shows on the other three networks, but not to FNS even though FNS often has higher ratings that two of the other three shows.  If that were true, that would indicate that the Obama administration was getting paranoid about FOX.  But I haven’t  been able to confirm that Wallace’s statement about the ratings was true.  According to the latest ratings that I could find from mid-February 2011, NBC, CBS, and ABC had ratings that were roughly comparable, while the ratings for FSN were about one-half of theirs.

Regardless of the ratings, Wallace’s show is better than his competitors’.  Some might suggest that Wallace is a conservative, but he reportedly has been a registered Democrat for many years.  I will attempt to learn whether he misspoke when he said his show was more popular than Face the Nation and This Week.

October 1, 2010

Game Change – a book review

Voracious readers often read several books at the same time, but not me.  I have never been voracious.  Several days ago, however, I had a strong urge to read three books that were on my reading table:

  • Game Change, a play-by-play account of the 2008 presidential election;
  • The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand’s precursor to Atlas Shrugged; and
  • Conservative Victory, Sean Hannity’s prescription for defeating the Obama agenda.

Because I couldn’t pick which book to read first, I started with all three and would occasionally switch from one to the other to the other.  That lasted only for a short time because the Hannity book simply wasn’t as interesting.  Then I went back and forth from Game Change and The Fountainhead for about 250 pages each.  At that point, although The Fountainhead remained absorbing, I couldn’t set Game Change aside.  As a political junkie, I love reading about the backroom political process more than I enjoy the substantive issues of government, and Game Change is as good as it gets in describing the process.

Game Change reminds me of a book that I read as a kid, The Making of a President, 1960 by Teddy White.  The White book described the 1960 presidential contest between Nixon and Kennedy.  Game Change, which was written by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, describes the 2008 presidential campaign.  In the Authors’ Note, Heilemann and Halperin concede that Game Change would not be the definitive book on the 2008 election because they lacked distance and perspective, but their claimed objective was to occupy that useful place between history and journalism.  Based on over 300 interviews with virtually all of the players, the authors have clearly achieved their objective.

As a conservative partisan, I have only one complaint about the book – namely, it focuses on the Democratic primaries (and caucuses) and gives short shrift to the Republican primaries.  Game Change starts with the Democratic primaries and doesn’t get to the Republican primaries until Page 271 in a 436-page book.  The Authors’ Note explains that the focus was on Obama, Clinton, Edwards, and McCain (and their spouses) because, in the authors’ opinion, those were the only candidates with a reasonable chance of winning.  Serious Republican contenders Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani were relegated to the also-ran category that included one-and-done Democrats like Dodd, Biden, and Richardson. 

Aside from the short shrift given to the Republican primaries, I think the authors played it straight.  Their portrayals of Obama, Clinton, and McCain are so balanced that I have no idea who the authors voted for.  Furthermore, I think that reading this book would change very few votes.  McCain voters would not be less likely or more likely to vote for him, and the same would apply to Obama and Clinton voters.  (The one exception would be John and Elizabeth Edwards.  No one reading this book would ever vote for John Edwards; nor would anyone buy a book written by Elizabeth Edwards.)  But the book certainly changes a reader’s depth of understanding.  After reading this book, I know so much more about the candidates (and their spouses).  

What do I know now that I didn’t know then?

  • John McCain, who was a bad student at Annapolis, is a reckless person who makes decisions based on his gut, whereas Obama and Clinton, who were excellent students, continually demanded comprehensive information and then made decisions based on their evaluation of all the information. 
  • McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was an example of risky, gut-based behavior.  For several weeks, McCain was planning to pick qualified, liberal senator Joe Lieberman, but that pick was derailed shortly before the planned announcement.  With only a week to select a replacement, McCain reacted by selecting Palin, and because Palin hadn’t even been on his short-list, she received only a five-day vetting.  When the chief vetter concluded that Palin was, “high risk, high reward,” McCain responded that the vetter shouldn’t have phrased it that way because McCain always loved to gamble.
  • Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have a close relationship.  Although the book does not discuss whether this couple has a loving relationship, it is clear that the Clintons are political partners who work closely together and have a strong emotional connection.
  • The mainstream press has a gentlemen’s agreement to ignore the sex lives of presidential candidates and their spouses.  Apparently there was strong evidence that John and Cindy McCain had been having extramarital affairs for years, with John living in D.C. and Cindy living in Arizona.  And the press was fully aware of John Edwards’ infidelity for months before The National Inquirer broke the story.  I think Americans have a right to know this stuff, and the press is failing to fulfill its constitutional responsibility.
  • Many people involved in the campaigns knew that John Edwards was, at best, an extremely weak potential president, and, at worst, a complete fraud.  Inexplicably, the mainstream media refused to play a role in bringing Edwards down (did they think this would make them more unpopular?), with the result that Edwards was free to attempt to make a post-Iowa deal with Obama for Edwards to be either Vice-President or Attorney General.    
  • The book suggests that Elizabeth Edwards is a complete fraud, too, but I am reserving judgment because I saw her interviewed on Larry King a couple of months ago and she seemed to be very sympathetic.  In fact, I remember her specifically challenging things that were written in this book.  I wish I could watch that King interview again now after reading the book.
  • The Camelot/Kennedy characterization for Obama is correct – i.e., he is a smart, hard-working politician like John Kennedy who waxes poetic to win the romantics and the media, but who practices politics with cold calculation and an iron fist.
  • Obama is not a religious person.  Instead he turned to religion as part of his push for social justice.  Thus, Reverend Wright was not a spiritual mentor, but rather a political bedfellow.  Wright’s liberation theology was acceptable to Obama until he needed to go more mainstream.  Jettisoning Wright was no big deal for Obama, especially since Michelle never like the guy who baptized their children.   
  • The media’s favorable treatment of Obama incensed both Clinton and McCain, but there was nothing they could do about it.
  • Clinton and McClain like and respected each other and would have loved to run against each other.
  • Raising money is perceived as crucial to running a viable campaign.  While McCain and Clinton abhorred having to solicit and struggled with it, Obama was naturally gifted and handled it as just another part of campaigning.  Part of this distinction is due to Obama mania, which made money flow almost effortlessly into Obama’s coffers, whereas Clinton and McCain had to earn their money the old-fashioned way – i.e., selling a piece of themselves to donors.
  • Clinton took her full-term Senate pledge seriously; Obama did not.

The authors loved using big words, many of which I had never encountered before.  While reading the book, I often wasn’t near a dictionary and had to move on without knowing what the authors meant.  One word that I saw multiple times was “cipher.”  Various people characterized Obama or Edwards to be ciphers.  I eventually looked up the word and discovered it meant “lightweight.”  I wonder why the authors didn’t use the word “lightweight.”  I would be surprised if the person making the characterization actually used the term “cipher.” 

Early in this review, I suggested that reading Game Change was unlikely to change many votes.  Did it change mine?  No, I voted for Obama and would do so again.  My rationale was that McCain behaved erratically during the campaign, not only by picking Palin, but also by proposing a gas-tax moratorium and suspending his campaign to address the financial crisis, but then doing nothing to address it.  By way of contrast, Obama was steady and analytical.  Obama is like a calculating athlete who works hard to put himself in the best position to succeed, whereas McCain doesn’t put a lot of stock into preparation and instead excels at playing the game.  McCain has been able to succeed in life because of his common sense, good judgment, and the force of his personality. 

I think McCain could have been a very effective president at a different time, but America wanted more change than McCain could deliver.  After eight years of Bush-43, the American Left had become so cynical that no Republican could bring us together as a country.  We had to give the Left a chance to rule.  That’s how America works – the 2nd-string quarterback is always the most popular player on the team; the savior who can change everything.  Well, Obama and the Left are having their chance, and this will be followed by Ronald Reagan’s quintessential question to America – are you better off than you were four years ago?  The jury is still out on that, but I expect a prompt return to America’s center of gravity – the center-right.