Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Christmas Book from Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee. A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit. New York: Sentinel. The Penguin Group. 2009.

The author offers stories of 12 aspects of Christmas: patience, sacrifice, loneliness, family, traditions, crisis, hope, stability, limitations, transitions, faith, and rewards.,

Huckabee writes about fighting business bureaucracy. He was offering a solution that he was willing to pay the business extra for that would financially help the business, yet several company representatives refused to approve this beneficial idea because doing so was against their corporate rules. He writes how glad he was to finally speak with someone who understood the businesses should help their customers. The help from this individual allowed Mike Huckabee to see his family at Christmas.

The story of patience related the anticipation of gifts to the anticipation of learning about spirituality.

The story on sacrifice tells of Huckabee selling his prized guitars to help pay rent.

The story of loneliness tells of his uncle’s struggles with cancer and moving in with his family as he had nowhere else to go.

The stories on family and tradition related some family Christmas memories.

The story on crisis discusses a time when his wife had health issues with a cancerous tumor at age 20 and how her prayers were answering by helping them deal with the crisis.

The story on hope tells how the child Huckabee expected to be born around Christmas instead was a Thanksgiving baby.

The story on stability explores the challenges of becoming a homeowner.

The story of limitations notes how relatively little Jesus is considered during Christmas and realizing when one needs to ask someone else for help.

The story on transitions discusses Huckabee’s deciding to move from being a pastor to becoming a politician. He studied the works of Paul Weyrich, Howard Phillips, and Phyllis Schlafly. He was angered when Arkansas Health Department Director Jocelyn Elders stated “preachers need to get over their affair with a fetus”. It was while reflecting during Christmas that he decided to run for office.

The story of faith discusses Huckabee’s father’s fatal illness and the pleasures his last Christmas brought him.

The story on rewards tells how Huckabee became Governor. He was Lt. Governor when the Governor was convicted of felonies. The Governor at first refused to resign causing confusion as to who held the powers of Governor. The Governor finally resigned and Huckabee took over as Governor. The previous staff took all files, records, and even phone books, making the transition difficult. Being Governor is a round the clock job and Huckabee jokes he learned to always be dressed when exiting the bedroom as there likely will be someone awake at work at the Governor’s Mansion. He discusses Christmas in the Governor’s Mansion. In conclusion, Huckabee wishes for his readers that “most of all, I hope you have a simple Christmas.”

To Huckabee or Not to Huckabee

Mike Huckabee.From Hope to Higher Ground: !2 Steps for Restoring America’s Greatness. New York: Center Street, 2007.

The author begins by stating he doesn’t have much self-confidence but that he places his hope on God. He literally was born in Hope, a town in Arkansas which is the same birthplace as Bill Clinton. Huckabee acquired faith and was asked to substitute at a church that was in between pastors. He did so well he was hired as their full time pastor. He later became President of the Arkansas Baptist Convention.

In 1002, Huckabee decided to enter politics. He ran for the U.S. Senate and lost. He impressed state Republican Party Chairman Asa Hutchinson who urged him to run for Lt. Governor in a 1993 special election. Huckabee won despite spending less campaign funds than did his opponent. Huckabee became the fourth Republican since Reconstruction to win a statewide Arkansas election.

Huckabee arrived to find the Lt. Governor’s office nailed shut and his budget slashed. Public outrage led to the office doors being opened after six days. He was reelected Lt. Governor in the regular 1994 election.

Governor Jim Guy Tucker resigned after felony convictions. Huckabee became Governor. He discovered that years of counseling people as a pastor served him well in dealing with people in politics.

Huckabee was upset to discover there was a lack of resources to handle the emergencies caused by Hurrican Katrina. He summoned assistance from churches, Scouts, and 4-H to open their camps to handle to overflow of people fleeing the devastation. Huckabee told people assisting victims to treat them as they would want to be treated.

Huckabee encourages optimism and hope. He believes having a good attitude helps achieve success. Ronald Reagan showed how to do this in politics.

As Governor, Huckabee had school systems create seamless coordinated classes from pre-K through college. He increased academic standards and required measuring academic progress.

Huckabee opposed excessive government spending. He opposed a tax increased to raise revenues for road construction. He favors environmental protection and supported a dedicated funding stream for protecting natural resources. He favors increasing energy production to meet rising demand by allowing drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He favors developing ethanol and biodiesel bio-fuels as well as solar and wind energy. He established faith based programs within prisons that reduced recidivism. He increased community service for nonviolent offenders. He allowed sentence reductions for prisoners who completed new skills programs while in prison.

Huckabee favors zero based budgeting that requires each expenditure to be justified. He favors keeping spending as small as possible. He likes the idea of a flat tax yet notes this idea has some flaws.

Huckabee is pro-life on the abortion issue. While Arkansas resident tend to be pro-life it wasn’t until 1997 that the Arkansas legislature adopted pro-life legislation. As Governor, laws were approved that require parental consent of a minor’s abortion, require informed consent from a woman before an abortion, and that prohibit partial birth abortion.

To attract businesses to locate in Arkansas, Huckabee favors minimizing business litigation, reducing taxes, and avoiding over-regulating businesses.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Pennsylvania Political History: Where Did All These Democrats Come From?

G. Terry Madonna. Pivotal Pennsylvania: Presidential Politics from FDR to the Twenty-First Century. Mansfield, Pa.: The Pennsylvania Historical Association, 2008.

This book argues that Pennsylvania has had unique population patterns compared to other states that led to Presidential electoral political patterns that do not resemble other states’ political histories. Democrats (also known for awhile as Democrat-Republicans) dominated electoral victories in Pennsylvania from Thomas Jefferson’s election in 1800 through Pennsylvania’s own James Buchanan in 1856. Republicans gained political dominance in Pennsylvania after the Civil War. Republicans would be the leading political party in Pennsylvania until 1960. .

Pennsylvania would be the largest state to support Republican Herbert Hoover over Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. Democrats would begin building within Pennsylvania during the New Deal of the 1930s. Roosevelt would carry Pennsylvania, and every other state except for two, in 1936. Republicans would rebound and carry Pennsylvania in 1940 through Eisenhower in 1956. Democrat John Kennedy would narrowly break this trend in 1960. A notable trend leading this was an increasing trend among African Americans from the 1930s forward on becoming more apt to vote for Democrats.

Pennsylvania became a state that could be won by either party in the 1960s. Urban Catholics tended to be Democrats while rural Protestants tended to be Republicans. Pennsylvania began tilting more towards Democratic candidates in the 1990s. While both parties fought to win the state and had shots at winning, Pennsylvania has supported every Democratic Party nominee from 1992 onward. General elections, though, remained more competitive with victories won by both parties.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Toomey or Not Toomey

Patrick Toomey with Nachama Soloveichik. The Road to Prosperity: How to Grow Our Economy and Revive the American Drean. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009.

The authors ridicule what they see as a movement towards more centralized government influence over the economy. They defend the Reagan Revolution idelas of increasing the role of the private market sector in the national economy. This book advocates for reducing government regulations over economic matters.

The book claims there are key principles of a proper economy: there is a right to private property ownership, one that is threatened by overregulation such as zoning, environmental laws, etc.; markets should operate freely from government regulation except fraud and that government licensing, price settings, tariffs, minimum wage laws, etc. are disrupting the free market; taxes should be as low as possible with government spending as low as possible along with monetary stability that allows businesses to confidently plan their futures,

This book offers historic perspectives and concludes that Federal Reserve Bank actions to increase interest rates were a significant cause of the Great Depression. The book faults President Herbert Hoover for keeping wage rates high, for keeping employment rates high, and for increasing tariffs. It further condemns President Franklin Roosevelt for increasing government spending which they argue disrupted the economy and made the Depression last longer than it would otherwise would have.

The authors applaud President Ronald Reagan for lowering marginal tax rates, reducing government regulations, and expanding tariff free international trade. These actions led to lower prices.

Income taxes and marginal tax rates should be lowered to increase worker incentives to work more hours, the authors argue. They favor lowering capital taxes so more money is invested into capital. They further note tax laws are so confusing that even IRS tax experts can’t explain them. Many tax laws are distorted to favor interests with the political power to change tax laws to favor themselves.

The authors believe the Obama Administration’s stimulus plan failed to stimulate the economy. They are concerned that the growth in the debt coupled with increased spending on entitlements can’t be sustained. They fault spending on earmarks as wasteful contributiosn towards this higher debt.

The authors favor placing maximum amounts on what discretionary government spending can be. They seek more free trade. They warn Social Security is headed towards bankruptcy and that younger people should be allowed to opt for personal investment accounts, which they argue should have higher return rates over time.

The authors argue that public education has been a practical monopoly with a high rate of failing to properly educate students. They argue that increasing private school alternatives should motivate public education to improve. Charter schools, which receive public funds yet are allowed to operate with fewer government regulations, are one option. Providing tax supported vouchers to allow students who can’t afford private schools to attend private schools is another.

The authors claim that the 2008-2009 economic crash was caused by the Federal Reserve Bank’s keeping interest rates too low. On top of this, there were large amounts of loans made in the 1990s and afterwards that had high default rates. Many mistakes made during the Great Depression were repeated.