Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We Have Moved Down The Block

Visit the RM at our new address...


We look forward to showing you around the new place!

PS-Michael Chase can also be found in the moderate section at OpinionEditorial

and guest posting at Mario Piperni

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

As I sit down to my laptop to write this post, I am acutely aware that this will be the final post I write and publish in Blogspot. Beginning with Monday's news cycle, The Rational Middle will be broadcasting from its new address at www.therationalmiddle.com. This move comes just three weeks short of the one year anniversary of the RM. I think it fitting that the final post comes as an acknowledgement of Memorial Day; that I have spent the last 49 weeks posting on a free site is a testament to the country I am proud to call my native home.

The Rational Middle has been read by 516 people in 41 states and 22 foreign countries. Through its publication, I have had the privileged of sharing my politics, beliefs, and experiences with more people than I ever dreamed possible. I have never been restricted in what I could post, and have never had my content removed or blocked. I have written often of freedoms and liberty in the RM, and I have done so as a voice of experience. The ability to write a blog, read a blog, or ignore a blog is a gift; it was enshrined in our Constitution and has been paid for in blood.

Memorial Day is nothing less than the acknowledgment of the true and enduring cost of freedom. Since 1776, 1,195,485 Americans have died for our liberties. That number has almost certainly gone up since you started reading this post. Since 1776, 1,468,196 Americans have sustained wounds in the transaction of our liberties. That number has also changed since you began reading this post. Just about 8% of our population are veterans, and I can tell you that those among that special class who did not count among the wounded, count surely among the changed.

This is a holiday that gives the other 92% the chance to give thanks to the best of us. Everything we know and love, and everything we love to hate, is possible because this nation has been able to chart her own course. Guided by her citizens, and unencumbered by any controlling external force, the American democracy is the gold standard; America's veterans, both living and fallen, are her standard-bearers.

Honor them...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Regulations, Responsibility, and Reality

We the people sit in a difficult place and time. Largely unable to come together in productive discussions on issues that define our nation, we have taken to fighting over the carcass of government; like two starving Lions ripping at the flesh of an animal from opposite sides. Republicans blindly fighting regulations and Democrats blindly trusting what are only words on the page have in fact worked together. They have conspired, in the manner of two drunks leaning on each other to walk down the street, to destroy large sections of the American Dream.

There is culpability, there is recrimination; then there are the millions without jobs because of our lack of national planning regarding finance. Further millions will lose their livelihood as oil encircles, encroaches on, and encrusts the fisheries and beaches of the Gulf Coast and beyond. What other tragedies must befall our country before we agree on a few simple truths? There are roles for markets and the democratically elected government, that each cannot well accomplish in lieu of the other. We have an implicit understanding, in business and education, in medicine and law enforcement, that humans need oversight. Redundancies are good and double-checking is better. Forever known as "The Crash" and "The Spill", the events of 2008 and 2010 should be a wake up call to our nation every bit as loud as the one we heard on 9/11.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's The Economy, Stupid

Political guru James Carville famously wrote "It's the economy, stupid" on the wall at Clinton headquarters during the 1992 presidential campaign. The logic is simple: when people have jobs that pay enough to cover the bills and provide for some entertainment, they are happy. If the voters aren't happy, they will generally view the current administration as the cause of their distress, and take out their frustration on incumbents. This little nugget of political wisdom is amplified by the general lack of understanding amongst regular voters about real economics.

Economic indicators generally lag; Reagan and the Republicans were hammered in the 1982 mid-terms for sky-high inflation that was the sum total of government policy and central bank strategy from the 1970's. Although he was the V.P. during the Reagan years and bore some culpability, George H.W. Bush was punished in 1992 for a recession spurred on largely by Reaganomics and a fairly normal inventory cycle downturn. In all likelihood, President Obama and the Democrats will be punished for an economy defined by failed policies from the Bush Administration, Clinton Administration, and the Greenspan/Bernanke Fed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nate On Sports: The Best Rivalry in Sports

I'm of the opinion that nothing can top a good sports rivalry. Rivalries just have a way of drawing interest to themselves, whether you're an avid follower of a sport or just a casual observer. I, for one, don't care much for hockey. But, if Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby, I'm going to pay attention.

As good as that rivalry is, however, it's not number one on my list. It's not North Carolina and Duke in basketball, which is similarly can't-miss television. It's not Michigan and Ohio State in football. And it's not even the Yanks and the Sox in baseball. Give up yet?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rational Politics Chapter 7: Energy

If you get nothing else from this post, please understand that energy is not a political issue. It has been co-opted by the political parties to push specific narratives and it has been kicked around by non-profits and conglomerates alike looking for leverage. But the energy debate that we the people see now in the media, is largely the creation of the political branding machine.

The central issue in the energy debate is not left versus right, business versus the environment, or God versus science; it is rather the notion of progress versus procrastination. We stumbled, very recently, onto a fossil fuel powered lifestyle. Less than the age of our rather young republic, the fossil fuel era has a shelf life. Given the acceptance of its side-effects, the coal era could last for many hundreds of years. Oil is another story, and most of the petroleum industry thinks that story will have run its course before our republic doubles its current age. Our great-grandchildren will be dealing with oil shortages and the decline of every industry still attached to the substance known as black gold.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Entitlements, Fair Taxes, And The Blame Game

Ah, the blame game; its fun for the whole family and has an appeal that jumps every racial, ethnic, or socio-economic boundary. All you need to play is a problem you want to solve (in your mind), and someone you either don't like or don't know and, voila, problem solved. It is always easiest to group people together into large problem-creating monsters; Republicans, conservatives, Democrats, liberals, progressives, immigrants, poor people, rich people, corporations, lawyers, bankers.

There are of course people who profit from our collective assignment of blame; if we blame Republicans for the housing bubble and crash, Democrats benefit. If we blame Democrats for terrorism, Republicans benefit. But times of economic crisis really do bring out the creativity in us. When things go really bad, economically speaking, we blame the poor (and usually, ourselves even if we don't realize it at the time). If only they took personal responsibility for their plight and didn't rely on what I have paid for with my taxes, then all would be well and beautiful again in our land. My father-in-law has a saying that describes this perfectly; "Ah Puke!"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Populist Economics

I have a quick note today on populism and economics in the aftermath of the Senate's passage of financial reform. The reform law, as an aside, is stronger than I thought it would be, but still weaker than the structures in place through the mid-1990's. The reason we the people did not get real reform of the financial marketplace is because of our general confusion. See if you can follow this logic:
  1. The government deregulates much of Wall Street, and fails to enforce the regulations left
  2. As a consequence, Wall Street takes actions that threaten survival of nation
  3. President Bush pushes for and gets Congressional actions necessary to save the nation
  4. President Obama distributes the second half of the bailout under stricter conditions for payback than originally passed
  5. People take to the street to protest the "Obama Bailouts" and "Socialism"
  6. People take to the streets to protest government involvement in the markets designed to prevent all of the above from happening again (i.e. stricter regulations)
We the people need to have a discussion about what financial steps are in our best interests, and which ones serve only to enrich a select few. While some steps serve both Wall Street and Main Street, most do not.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leave Glenn Beck Alone

Glenn Beck is not a happy man these days. Despite his worldwide entertainment empire (his phrase, not mine) earning him $32 million last year, he cries a lot at night. I suspect that many men are crying at night these days, but most don't do it on a nationally televised program. Most men are not, as Mr. Beck says, the focus of a White House witch hunt. Apparently these danged liberal (or communist, fascist, whatever) jokers in the media and the Democrats in government are teaming up again. A veritable vast left-wing conspiracy (to quote Hillary Clinton) is out to get poor freedom-loving Glenn.

After listening to his tearful, whining, directionless sob-story for awhile now, I have figured out what Glenn's problem really is. He has lost one-third of his viewers in the past 3 months, and Fox News is having difficulty getting market value for ad space on his program due to a boycott. Damn liberals are, apparently, using market techniques to change corporate behavior...who taught them that trick? Of course, ratings decline is a strong assertion; when ratings are up, Nielsen is accurate; when they are down, Nielsen is part of the vast left-wing conspiracy. Alas, I believe that his ratings have declined and I have an explanation; many of the good, intelligent, and truly freedom-loving viewers who make up his audience, have decided that they don't want to watch a brainless coward rant to them on television anymore.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nate On Sports: LeGone? The LeBron James Situation

Last Thursday night, the Boston Celtics killed the Cleveland Cavaliers' season. As bad as that was (and still is) for Cleveland, there's a pretty good chance that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you haven't been paying attention, LeBron James will become a free agent on the first of July this summer. Chances are, though, that you knew about that. Alien lifeforms from three galaxies away probably know that LeBron James is a free agent this summer. ESPN already has a "Bottom Line" segment that exists for the sole purpose of reporting every single bit of news directly and indirectly involved with LeBron James and his impending free agency.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Welfare For Billionaires

The Minnesota House rejected a $791 million proposal to build a stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. Good for them! The Vikings, in the mold of every single member of the thoroughly out of touch NFL old boys club, whined about it in a statement to the media. The statement was a not so subtle message that the Vikings would leave if the House failed to pass the measure by 2011. Friends, if any of us tried doing something like that, we would be tried and convicted of extortion.

During the last two decades, U.S. taxpayers have spent more than $8 billion on welfare programs for professional sports owners. We the people screamed bloody murder about a similar investment made by the federal government in an attempt to keep General Motors afloat, and that company directly employees many times the number of folks that sports franchises do. We the people are charged every bit as much, and more, to view professional sports events, as we do for any comparable entertainment; and yet we are forced to subsidize this major going concern.