29 December 2011

Rick Perry keeps on giving

I have more or less written him off, so I tend to ignore his statements. But this was hilarious. 

“Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” Mr. Perry said in Clarinda, earning a loud round of enthusiastic applause.

Yes. Because, since we get so much oil from Canada and Mexico already, clearly they must not be "foreign sources". I look forward to receiving the future Congress members from Ontario and Chihuahua.Wait, we didn't annex Mexico and Canada? Hmm. I think one of us must be confused about the meaning of "foreign" and the sources of American oil generally.

And I'm guessing it's those people cheering. Rick Perry is just their zeitgeist made manifest. Stupidity about common factual elements. Check. Blind assessments of things going on with no idea what is actually going on, check. And so on.

Speaking of which, on the other topics.
A balanced budget amendment. 1) won't pass the Congress and will never happen in our lifetimes. Even with a major GOP takeover of both houses it's still incredibly unlikely to ever occur. 2) won't be useful without some notion of what will be cut/gutted in spending to get us there. If a candidate of any political stripe advocates a balanced budget amendment, I know this is code for "I don't want to pick any item that should or could be cut from the budget and am pretending that you are all morons who assume that there are lots of things that could be cut without affecting your entitlements and government tax handouts". In other words, I view such advocacy as cowardice, not the sort of straight talk bravery that Perry claims that it is. There's a reason it draws cheers. If it draws cheers from the people, it very likely isn't bravery or bravado to say it. It is pandering. Actual political courage might be to say and do things that are necessary but are unpopular. You know, like advocating the substantial cuts and reforms to entitlements and defence spending in order to achieve a balanced budget in the first place.

Immigration. I'm still confused as to what "they" think is possible. I get what they think is necessary (walls and moats and soldiers on patrol). I don't think they understand what will be actually done in their name (checkpoints, illegal detentions, abuse of civil liberties for anyone non-white). Or more importantly, I don't think they care. This anti-immigrant stance, among other features, is a big reason I break with Ron Paul for that matter.

Cutting Congress down to half time. This will mean that a lot of bills don't get passed, and hooray for that. However it also means that Congress cannot reduce the size and influence of the government (or the political lobbying class). It primarily means that it consolidates further power in the executive regulatory arms of the government where many laws are actually created and enacted today. Kudos to Rick Perry for identifying a way he can pander to voters AND establish and consolidate greater kingly powers over the country. Too bad for him a President doesn't actually have much power over whether Congress is in session or how much they are paid. They can call for a session to occur, but cannot mandate what happens in it, nor dismiss a session in progress and certainly cannot establish their pay rates. The Constitution doesn't establish this power for him. Too bad also that many Congressmen are already "part time". They spend much of their time fund-raising instead of legislating. Legislating they leave to lobbyists.

Israel. I am usually unsurprised this gets lots of cheers. I'm disturbed by it. But I'm not surprised.

Essentially what I note is that on the supposed issues of importance to Tea Party Republican types, most Republicans fail miserably to actually DO or say any of it. They make platitudes and panders but no serious moves to trim the size and scope of government ever occur. This is counter-balanced by enthusiastic reactions to social conservative issues like abortion, defiant rejection of the country's generally shifting values on gays and drugs, and an absolutist level of support for Israel (a foreign country by the way), none of which is characterized by a reduced scope of government roles or size. As I've generally observed, the Tea Party isn't about libertarianism. It is about re-branding radical social conservativism. This is fun for social conservatives apparently (complete with costumes and chants!), and fun for media types who like to wail about people who want to radically cut liberal programmes, but it's not very much use to someone like me.
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