Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for Thy throne
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone.
Once did the skies before Thee bow;
A virgin's arms contain Thee now:
Angels who did in Thee rejoice
Now listen for Thine infant voice.
A little child, Thou art our guest
That weary ones in Thee may rest;
Forlorn and lowly is Thy birth
That we may rise to heav'n from earth.
Thou comest in the darksome night
To make us children of the light,
To make us, in the realms divine,
Like Thine own angels round Thee shine.
All this for us Thy love hath done;
By this to Thee our love is won:
For this we tune our cheerful lays
And shout our thanks in ceaseless praise!
~Martin Luther, 1524
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The whole article is worth reading, but the last paragraph really stood out to me: "Many Americans wanted to believe Mr. Nelson was a decent man of his word, but the senator caved in when his vote could have made a difference for the lives of the unborn. A politician can't get any more despicable than that."
Let's talk about Ben Nelson for a moment. Senator Nelson represents one of the most conservative states in the country, Nebraska, a state in which large majorities of voters are pro-life and oppose ObamaCare. Senator Nelson has been elected twice by Nebraska voters by claiming to be pro-life and fiscally conservative. If there were ever a significant test of Nelson's principles, it would be this bill. The Senate bill will use taxpayer money to fund abortions, and it creates a huge new government entitlement that significantly increases taxes and is certain to dramatically expand the deficit as well. Nelson knew both of these things about the bill. He knew that the bill would use taxpayer funds to pay for abortions, and spoke out against it. He also knew the bill was too costly and fiscally irresponsible, and he spoke out against that as well. But in the end, he caved on his principles and disregarded the will of his constituents. And what did he get out of the deal? In exchange for his vote, Harry Reid added language to the bill that binds the federal government to pay the state of Nebraska's share of Medicaid premiums for Nebraska residents in perpetuity, which is worth about $100 million. Awww...isn't that nice? Nelson sells out his principles for $100 million, the public gets Nelson's key 60th vote on a health care bill they don't want, and all federal taxpayers are on the hook to pay the price of Harry Reid's little backroom deal!
Let's be clear: the bill that is about to pass in the U.S. Senate will use taxpayer money to fund abortion. The so-called "abortion compromise" in the bill that managed to secure the support of so-called pro-life Democrats like Bob Casey and Ben Nelson is not a compromise at all. The bill clearly states that federal tax dollars will be used to subsidize private plans that cover abortion on demand. A bookkeeping gimmick in the bill states that abortion charges will be separated from regular premiums, but this is meaningless because the abortion charge is not optional. So any distinction between abortion premiums and regular health coverage premiums is purely a paper distinction and not a real one. (And even this paper distinction only exists as long as the Hyde Amendment exists -- and there is a real danger that the Hyde Amendment will not be renewed by this president and this Congress in the near future.) Further, this bill provides that the federal government will administer a program of multi-state plans that also cover abortion on demand. This is a sharp break from current law, which prohibits any private plans from covering elective abortion if they are part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits program administered by the federal government. Finally, the Senate bill provides authority for the Department of Health and Human Services to require all private health plans to cover all abortions as a "preventive" service. All of these provisions explain why, unlike the House bill, the Senate bill does not prevent taxpayer funds from being used to provide and promote abortion. A conscience protection provision for health providers, which is in the House bill, is also not in the Senate bill. In light of these facts, I don't see how any member of Congress could vote for the Senate bill and legitimately claim to be pro-life. Congressman Stupak, the Democrat who fought courageously to ensure that the House bill did not use taxpayer funds to cover abortion, is angry about this "compromise" and has expressed his strong opposition to the Senate language.
I watched The O'Reilly Factor last night, and I was amazed at some of the claims made about ObamaCare by Mary Ann Marsh, a Democratic strategist. The most amazing thing to me was the fact that this seemingly intelligent woman could appear on TV and say with a straight face that ObamaCare would reduce the deficit. That is laughable. How stupid do you have to be to think that you can create a huge new federal entitlement that is already projected to cost over $1 trillion (and is certain to cost far, far more than that in the long run) and think that it will not significantly increase the deficit? The bill pretends to reduce the deficit because it projects almost $500 billion of cuts to Medicare that will not happen and about $275 billion in reductions in reimbursements to doctors that will not happen. Further, Congress has deceptively made the bill appear much less costly than it really is by arranging to have taxes, and fees, and costs begin to be collected in 2010 while most benefits do not take effect until 2014. Thus, the 10-year $1.1 trillion dollar price tag factors in 10 years of taxes, fees, and costs but only 6 years of benefits. The real, hidden 10-year cost is closer to $2 trillion. You don't reduce the deficit by creating huge new government programs.
Mary Ann Marsh also claims that this bill will reduce taxes for individuals and businesses and promote growth for small businesses. Again, this is a foolish claim. The bill includes more than $500 billion in taxes, and the burden of paying them will fall on both individuals and businesses. Businesses are going down to be weighed down by all the additional taxes, fees, regulations, and burdensome requirements in the bill. This bill is a job-killer and will stifle, not promote, economic growth. There's a reason why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has expressed such strong opposition to this bill.
The House and Senate bills will now go to conference to iron out the differences, and so there will still need to be another vote in both houses of Congress on the final conference version of the bill. If the Senate abortion language is adopted by the conference committee (which I think is likely), are there any Democrats in the House other than Bart Stupak who will stand their ground and vote "no" on a bill that funds abortion with taxpayer money? Or will they all cave like Ben Nelson? We will soon find out.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
If you look at the polls, you find a steady erosion of President Obama's job approval rating. Back when Obama took office, his popularity was among the highest of any modern-era president and the country's hopes were soaring. Now, recent Gallup & NBC/Wall St. Jrnl polls both have him at 47% approval, the lowest ever recorded for a modern-era president at this point in their presidency (less than one year in office). Polls also show clear majorities of American oppose Obama's signature issues & decisions -- Democratic health care reform, cap-and-trade legislation, bringing terrorist detainees to the U.S., etc. Independents have turned decisively against the President's agenda, which is an ominous sign for the Democrats in next year's mid-term election. Don't even get me started on the Democratic Congress, which has a job approval rating in the 20%'s. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's national job approval rating is 15% (and 38% in his home state of Nevada). Voters are developing a bad case of buyer's remorse as they find out what happens when liberals control the country.
The health care "reform" debacle illustrates clearly how radical, inept, & out-of-touch Democrats are. As I watch the "debate" (back-room maneuvering would be a better word) unfold, I sometimes get the urge to laugh. If the consequences for our country weren't so severe, I would. How can the Democrats manage to botch this legislation so badly when they have such huge majorities in both houses of Congress? How can they be so oblivious to the wishes of their constituents?
Here's everything you need to know about the status of health care reform over the past few months. President Obama announced way back in the summer that reforming health care was urgent (never mind the benefits in these bills don't take effect for four or five years) and that his "drop-dead deadline" for passing the legislation was the end of July, before the congressional August recess. (Because we all know that the most effective way to pass sweeping legislation that overhauls 17% of the U.S. economy is to do it as fast as humanly possible!) Never mind that there WAS no legislation, because the President did not present a plan. Hmmm...well the Democrats didn't quite make their little August 1st deadline, and so they got to go home and hear from their constituents. The townhall meetings were truly democracy in action -- individual Americans getting involved in the political process and letting their representatives and senators know how they felt about an important issue. For this unforgivable sin of exercising their rights as citizens, the Democrats showed their common touch by smearing participants in townhall meetings as "people carrying swastikas" and "brownshirts" (Nancy Pelosi) and "evilmongers" (Harry Reid). Ahh...insulting voters. It works every time. Polls showed that a majority of Americans were increasingly sympathetic with the townhall protestors.
So, having heard the thunderous voice of the American people, Democrats returned to Washington, chastened and ready to modify their bill to address the concerns of their constituents about government control over health care. OK, I made that up. Democrats returned to Washington, more determined than ever to defy their constituents' wishes and push through a massive government-run health care bill by spending nearly a trillion dollars of taxpayer money that isn't there. (That's what deficits are for!) Multiple bills were proposed by multiple House & Senate committees, conveniently enabling the Donkey Party to avoid being pinned down on any specific unpopular provision by saying that some particular version of the bill didn't have that particular provision. Meanwhile, President Obama floated above the fray, appearing around the country at staged venues packed with supporters and giving vague speeches with no specifics but lots of pablum about the "moral imperative" of passing whatever version of the bill the Democrats might eventually decide to settle on.
Finally Nancy Pelosi (a very wise woman) realized that there is only one thing to do when you are contemplating passing a bill against the public's wishes that will establish one of the largest entitlement programs in America's history and will bring 1/3 of its economy under heavy government control. The answer should be obvious. You jam it through with minimal debate and with no bipartisan support whatsoever! And that's exactly what Pelosi did. She unveiled, with much fanfare, a left-wing 2,000-page bill filled with new taxes and mandates and a "robust" public option. She drastically limited debate, allowed only one amendment under protest, and forced a vote at 11:00 pm on a Saturday night. The Democrats have an 83 vote majority in the House of Representatives, and they passed the bill by only 5 votes, with 39 Democrats voting "no" (and only one Republican voting "yes"). Pelosi was visibly joyful as she banged the gavel and announced the vote results. Oh boy, we sneaked one past the American people while they were watching their family night movie!
Then things got really interesting in the Senate. Listening to Harry Reid & Barack Obama discuss whether or not the public option would be included in the bill was somewhat analogous to reading the daily weather report. One day it's in, the next day it's out. One day a Senate committee voted down the public option, and a few days later Harry Reid completely circumvented the committee process and presented a new bill once more containing the public option. Problems started early, as Reid was having a hard time getting even members of his own party to vote to bring this masterpiece to the Senate floor for debate (much less Republicans). However, he solved that problem nicely by offering fence-sitting Senator Mary Landrieu $100 million in financial aid to her state of Louisiana. Landrieu proudly informed her constituents that she really wasn't that cheap and that she had actually secured $300 million in exchange for her vote.
Once the bill arrived on the Senate floor, Senator Harry Reid, the statesman leader of that august deliberative body, set the tone for bipartisanship by comparing Republican opposition to senators who had historically supported slavery and opposed the rights of women and blacks to vote. Debate progressed and amendments were offered, but it was an open secret among Senate insiders that the whole process was all for show. In reality, Democrats were scrambling to get a backroom deal that would secure all 60 Democratic caucus votes so they could invoke cloture and shut down any further debate. Joe Lieberman was a pesky holdout, refusing to support any bill with a public option.
Then, just when you thought it couldn't get any more exciting, Harry Reid made news once again! He breathlessly held a press conference announcing that a deal had been reached on a completely rewritten bill that all Democrats could support, but he couldn't release the details to the Senate or the public. Trust me, it's really good, and no, nobody can read it, why would you ask? What do you think this is, a democracy? He did condescend to mention that the public option was now gone and to be replaced with a drastically expanded Medicare to include people age 55 and up. Within a day or two of Reid's "breakthrough," Lieberman criticized the new bill and announced his opposition to the Medicare buy-in proposal. Oops...we have our whole caucus on board, except for all the members that weren't on board before. If there were any justice in this world, Reid would be gainfully employed with a traveling circus.
Back to the drawing board again. We have to get some bill, any bill, that can barely pass, and who cares what's in it. The content is irrelevant. The main thing is to pass the longest, most expensive bill possible before Christmas. We'll give any Democrat anything they want, just vote for the darn thing! In the meantime, the Left unleashed their big guns on Lieberman. What the heck is this, a Democrat who thinks for himself? Let's attack his wife. Let's demonize him and accuse him of mass murder. And that's exactly what happened to Lieberman.
Finally, Reid backed down and took out both the Medicare buy-in and the public option provisions. Lieberman was back on board -- but now another Democrat, Ben Nelson, was backing out because of the provisions to fund abortion. And here we are, one week before Christmas, with a huge blizzard about to hit Washington, DC, and Reid is still insisting on a vote before Christmas. On a bill that no one in the Senate has even seen yet -- a bill that hasn't even been fully written yet. On a bill that will take eight hours just to read on the Senate floor. On a bill that will cost almost a trillion dollars and dramatically alter 1/3 of our economy. But everyone has to vote "yes" because it's a moral imperative and Obama says so! Don't worry about what's actually in the bill -- we'll get to read it once it's safely passed.
This is not liberty. This is not how representative government is supposed to work. This is tyranny and socialism. This is an audacious power grab by an out-of-control government that is well on its way to bankrupting our country -- right in the teeth of huge popular opposition. The Democrats may well get their way in the end, but they will pay a heavy price for this. Our whole country will pay a heavy price for this.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, 'slow down, stop everything, let's start over.' If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said 'slow down, it's too early, things aren't bad enough.' When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn't quite right. When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today."
Reid is the most powerful member of the U.S. Senate, and the person picked by the Democrats in the Senate to be their leader. Forget about the fact that he's a liberal and a generally unhappy person (and struggles to put together coherent sentences in speeches). He's not even an adult. He's not even capable of behaving in a civilized way on the Senate floor. I thought it was pretty bad a few months ago when he said that angry citizens (not politicians or pundits) speaking at townhall meetings were "evilmongers." Now Reid has shattered his own record for partisan rancor by comparing senators who oppose his health care bill to people who support slavery and oppose the right of blacks and women to vote. If you don't support government-run health care, you're pro-slavery, anti-woman, and racist. This kind of demagoguery has no place inside the walls of the Capitol Hill, but is especially disgraceful coming from the purported leader of the U.S. Senate. No wonder our country is so politically divided. We are represented at the highest levels of government by petty, uncivilized children. Harry Reid is an embarrassment to his party and to his country.
Here is an article from the Wall Street Journal discussing what we will hear today during Barry's speech.
Both Arne and Levin gave great speeches, and the basic message of both was similar. There is a serious attack currently being launched against our Constitution and against the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed to us in the Constitution. This attack is being perpetrated by our president and by our Congress, as well as unelected judges. The essential fight is between liberty and tyranny, between constitutionalism and statism. It is a brazen attempt to transform our country from a constitutional republic into a socialist state. The real power in a constitutional republic rests with the civil society, which is made up of free individuals pursuing their God-given rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Its constitutionally-limited government is the servant to the people, whose rights are guaranteed by their Creator. The real power in a socialist state rests with an all-powerful federal government, which takes most of people's money through taxation and then distributes it back to its citizen-slaves as it deems best. The people's rights are "guaranteed" by a government that provides cradle-to-grave entitlements and regulates their every activity, reducing them to virtual slavery and trampling on the Constitution. Our country, though founded as a constitutional republic, has been steadily moving toward socialism for many years, starting with Abraham Lincoln and accelerating in this direction under FDR. Obama and our current Congress are more brazen about their socialist/Marxist intentions and more determined to utterly subjugate the American people under the federal government's control than any of their predecessors. Their two biggest power grabs at the moment are health care "reform" and "climate change" regulation, both of which strike at the heart of individual liberty.
What our country needs -- desperately needs -- right now is for individual citizens to step forward and "take back" our country by electing representatives who treasure our constitutional freedoms. Levin and Arne seemed optimistic that this will happen in future elections. I wish I could say I am as optimistic as they are. When I look at our country I see generations of people who, thanks to our government-run schools, are ignorant about American history and traditions, ignorant of the Constitution and the Founders, and ignorant of the Bible and our Judeo-Christian heritage which provides a basis for the dignity and worth of the individual. I see a country populated with people who have already become dependent on the government and who demand equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. I see lazy citizens who think that they owe their country nothing and that their country owes them everything, including a good education, a good job, good health care, and a comfortable life. I see a population that largely seems to reject moral absolutes and deny even the possibility of truth, that views its own existence and the existence of the universe as a meaningless accident of nature, and that seems incapable even of logically deducing the consequences of ideas. Maybe I'm too harsh in my assessment, but how can such a citizenry take back our country? It is likely that in the short-term, people's economic misery will drive them to elect new representatives in 2010 or 2012, but for any lasting change to take place there must be a change in people's hearts, beliefs, and attitudes. I pray this will happen, but it will take a miracle.
Levin closed his speech (and his book) with a quote from a president who truly understood liberty, Ronald Reagan: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Only a small number of people got to actually speak at the hearing, but I think the county council got the message loud and clear that there a lot of people that feel strongly about this issue. Obviously, councilmembers were aware that both the hearing room and the overflow room were completely full! One of the things that struck me about the hearing was that almost every speaker in favor of the bill was a spokesperson or member of one of three national organizations: National Organization of Women, National Abortion Rights & Reproductive League (NARAL), and Planned Parenthood. Obviously, all of these groups are abortion providers or abortion advocacy groups. Speakers against the bill included not only directors of the pregnancy centers, but also people from other charitable groups that work with the pregnancy centers, people who have used the services of the pregnancy centers, pregnancy center volunteers, legal experts, and individuals from the community not affiliated with any organization. The representatives from the big abortion groups kept saying that the pregnancy centers were giving out false information and hurting women in crisis -- but where were all these supposed victims? Not one of them came forward to testify. The only "studies" done on this misinformation were done by NARAL -- not exactly an unbiased source. In the meantime, the pregnancy center directors stated that their questionnaires show that their clients are 99% satisfied and that none have filed formal complaints against the centers -- pretty significant since these most of these centers have been around for 20 to 40 years. It would certainly appear, from the composition of the attendees and the speakers, that the only "victims" of the pregnancy centers are the abortion clinics that are losing business and profits because of the existence and success of the pregnancy centers.
The speakers against the legislation brought up several outstanding points. One was from an attorney who pointed out that the regulations in the bill open the pregnancy centers up to significant risk of costly litigation. Since the bill requires that each client be orally given certain disclaimers in a way that the clients can "reasonably understand," it would be easy for people looking to make trouble to claim that a center did not tell them all the required information or that they did not understand what they were told. The pregnancy centers have very limited resources and cannot afford to defend themselves against such claims or to pay the fines and penalties that could result from such claims.
Another attorney pointed out that this bill violates the Constitution by prohibiting "viewpoint" speech by a private organization. Remember, this legislation does not apply to any organizations that provide abortion services. It targets only organizations that are pro-life. If the council really wanted to make sure women were informed of all their options, they would propose disclosure requirements that equally apply to pro-life organizations and abortion providers. The unfair singling out of pregnancy centers shows that the real purpose behind this legislation is to attempt to intimidate and silence the pro-life viewpoint.
A private citizen pointed out that this legislation is analogous to bullies beating up a little kid on the playground. The bullies are the abortion clinics, which are supported with government funds, make significant profits, and have large, well-funded lobbying groups supporting them. They are beating up on the pregnancy centers, which take no government money, are completely non-profit, and have very limited resources. Another private citizen pointed out how much these non-profit organizations do for the county without adding a penny to its budget. Especially in this time of economic recession, how foolish for the county to put in place legislation that hurts organizations that are doing so much to help poor people!
I'm very encouraged that so many private citizens made their voices heard last night, and I'm confident that if turnout was so high for a hearing, many more people have been contacting the council about this. I'm praying that this public outcry will cause the council to back off and vote down this terrible bill.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
What the media won't tell you about is the network of crisis pregnancy centers throughout this country run by caring pro-life volunteers. These pregnancy centers exist for the sole purpose of helping pregnant women. They provide some or all of the following services completely free of charge: pregnancy tests, pregnancy counseling, adoption referrals, medical care referrals, parenting classes and programs, post-abortion counseling, and baby care items like maternity and baby clothes, baby furniture, diapers, and formula. Some of them are also licensed medical clinics with doctors and nurses on staff and provide sonograms, STD testing, and other medical treatment. Medical clinics that provide abortion services generally view abortion as the default solution for an unwanted pregnancy and are not required to inform women about alternatives to abortion. Crisis pregnancy centers are often the only places pregnant women can go to find out about their full range of options and to receive assistance and support if they choose to carry their pregnancy to term. Unlike most health clinics that perform abortions, these pregnancy centers receive no government money, provide their services free of charge, are completely non-profit, and are mostly staffed by unpaid volunteers who donate their time because they care. They receive their funding from charitable donations by churches and individuals.
Sadly, these pregnancy centers are now under attack in the very county in which I live -- Montgomery County, Maryland. Our county council has proposed legislation that would force the three limited-service pregnancy centers in our county to disclose to all clients the following information:
1. The information the pregnancy center provides to them is not intended to be medical advice.
2. The information the pregnancy center provides to them is not intended to establish a doctor-patient relationship
3. They should consult with a health care provider before making any decision regarding their pregnancy.
At first glance, these requirements may seem fairly harmless. But in fact, they strike at the heart of the mission of these pregnancy centers. These centers exist to provide information about the alternatives to abortion and to provide encouragement and assistance for women who want to have their babies. If they are forced to provide disclaimers and to tell women to go somewhere else besides their pregnancy center to get advice, then they are being forced by law to undermine their own message. And remember -- these pregnancy centers are private, non-profit, faith-based charitable organizations. They do not receive a dime from Montgomery County. What right does the government have to dictate to them what to say to their clients? Such government interference in the operation of charitable organizations establishes a dangerous precedent that opens the door to much more serious abuses in the future.
Furthermore, this legislation specifically targets pregnancy centers, while exempting abortion clinics from any disclosure requirements whatsoever. Abortion clinics receive government funds and operate to make a profit -- shouldn't they at least be required to tell women all their pregnancy options? The fact that crisis pregnancy centers are alone singled out for regulation by the county speaks volumes about the real intentions of the county council. The point of this regulation is not to help women -- it is to attack the pro-life message of crisis pregnancy centers by adding burdensome government mandates. And guess who is behind this legislation? Planned Parenthood, National Abortion Rights and Reproductive League, and other abortion advocacy groups. Remember, abortion is a multi-million dollar industry in this country. Planned Parenthood makes a huge profit from abortion services, and the pregnancy centers are hurting their business and their profits. They see an opportunity in ultra-liberal Montgomery County to try to silence the pro-life message, and they are going for it.
If this legislation passes, it will be the first law ever in this country regulating non-profit pregnancy centers. Even the Washington Post, not exactly known for its pro-life views, has editorialized against this legislation, saying that it is flawed and should be rejected. For those who live in Montgomery County, please contact the councilmember from your district as well as the four at-large councilmembers and ask them to vote against this legislation. Most of the councilmembers have announced in favor of the bill, but they could change their mind if they hear from enough of their constituents. Click on this link to find the phone numbers and email addresses of the members of the county council: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/csltmpl.asp?url=/content/council/contact.asp. Also, please consider attending a public hearing on this issue. I am attending one scheduled for tonight (December 1) at 7:30 pm in Rockville. (I think there may be another one on December 3 as well.) Probably most of my readers do not live in Montgomery County, but you can still pray! Please pray that the county council will have a change of heart and reject this dangerous legislation. And consider supporting the crisis pregnancy centers in your area. They are doing so much to help needy women throughout this country, and they need our support.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
But obviously, much of the attention is less than positive. Because there is probably no other political figure in recent memory who has been more viciously attacked and hated than Sarah Palin. Within days of her surprising ascension to the GOP vice-presidential ticket, the non-partisan media began slamming her. They sent hordes of journalists to Alaska to try to dig up dirt from her past (how many journalists do you think they sent to investigate Obama's Chicago thug ties?). They accused her of censoring library books while mayor of Wasilla and gleefully jumped on an obviously politically-motivated ethics investigation against her in Alaska. (Both stories were later proved to be completely bogus.) They slammed her for going back to work as governor of Alaska within days of the birth of her son, and authoritatively pronounced that she had no right to be running for vice-president when she had a special-needs child she should be attending to (remember, a woman's place is in the home!). They ridiculed her for her small town accent and her colloquialisms. The major networks got their top anchors to belittle her in condescending interviews (Charlie Gibson) and to ask her "gotcha" questions to try to embarrass her (Katie Couric). They smeared her family and accused her of negligence because her teenage daughter was pregnant. They made nasty insinuations that one of her kids was really her daughter's kid. They relentlessly attacked her for being badly unqualified for the vice-presidency, conveniently ignoring the fact that Obama was just as unqualified -- and was running for an even higher position! And of course, they enlisted a slew of Hollywood celebrities to add their opinion of her, using the requisite four-letter words. Even George W. Bush wasn't treated that badly -- and that's saying something. All this, of course, was in contradistinction to Barack Obama, The Chosen One, who got relentlessly positive press coverage despite ties to some very questionable people (Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko).
Now Sarah Palin is out to remake her reputation. She is telling the world about the way that the McCain team treated her and how they kept her from being herself during the 2008 campaign. She is speaking out on issues she cares about. And what is the result? The usual suspects are up to their old tricks. In her interview with Barbara Walters, the video camera zoomed in as close as possible to her face, a well-known device used to try to make someone appear less honest. Newsweek did a cover hit piece article on her with this even-handed title: "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah? She's Bad News for the GOP -- and For Everybody Else, Too." Of course, the cover had a photo of her in short shorts taken for a running magazine -- intended to marginalize her to the status of a model rather than a serious political figure. The Associated Press hired eleven factcheckers to analyze her new book, page by page, for errors. (How many factcheckers do you think they hired for Obama's book? Zero.) Martha Stewart remarked that she was a "very dangerous" person, while comedian George Lopez showed his funny side by calling her a "piece of ****" and making obscene comments about her daughter. Oh, and of course, they slam her for daring to defend herself too. As Alan Colmes so wisely pointed out on the O'Reilly Factor, her book is full of whining and playing the victim. You see, the media has the right to declare open season on Palin, but she must never, under any circumstances, attempt to reply to any of the attacks. Because then she is "playing the victim"!
Here's the bottom line: the media and the Democrats hate Sarah Palin because she is a beautiful, successful, Republican woman. She exemplifies every value they hate: evangelical Christianity, pro-life beliefs, small-town values, a traditional family, and unapologetically conservative views. From the moment she came onto the national stage, our elite liberal institutions determined to destroy her reputation beyond hope of recovery. And they have done everything in their power to carry out that determination. She's not the first person the media has done this to -- Dan Quayle comes to mind -- but the frenzy of hate is unprecedented.
Now don't get me wrong -- Sarah Palin did not run a flawless campaign in 2008, and some of her mistakes played into the image the mainstream media created for her. They were understandable, given her sudden and unexpected thrust into the limelight, but that didn't change the harm to her reputation. Even many conservatives are wary of her. To speak up for Sarah Palin is to invite ridicule in most cases. But I think it's important for conservatives to realize that the prevailing image of Sarah Palin is not an accurate one. It's an image completely fabricated by the media. And if they can do that to Palin, they can do that to any conservative. Instead of jumping on the bash-Palin bandwagon, conservatives should speak out against the vicious and unfair attacks against her. Palin's reputation may be ruined to such an extent that it would be unwise to nominate her for president in 2012. But that certainly shouldn't stop us from fighting for truth. The embarrassment here is not Sarah Palin. The embarrassment is our mainstream media, which has given up even the pretense of objectivity.
Monday, November 16, 2009
In my previous post on this topic, I failed to mention how much pain this decision would bring to the families of the victims -- especially since Mohammed had already agreed to plead guilty and face execution under a military commission. Now this forces the victims' loved ones, who have already suffered so much, to have to go through the whole painful ordeal again -- in a public courtroom on a national stage, with the chance that the 9/11 mastermind might actually go free. Doubtless Mohammed will do everything possible to insult the U.S. and his victims and to re-open painful wounds and memories from that dreadful day -- which will inspire terrorists everywhere while demoralizing lovers of freedom here and around the world.
Daniel Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was killed by Mohammed in Pakistan. Pearl's father is speaking out about this, saying that the decision made him "sick to the stomach" since it would give the mass murderer the chance to "boast about his cruelty." He adds in an interview with the New York Post, "I don't want to hear every morning in the papers what KSM did. Danny was killed once. Now he will be killed 10 times a day. Leave him alone."
And now we hear that Obama wants to transfer all the detained overseas enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay to some detention center in Illinois, in the heart of America. What is our president thinking? His left-wing ideology is leading our country toward utter ruin.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
The latest outrage is yesterday's announcement by Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder, that top al-Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators will be brought to New York City and tried in civilian courts for their roles in the 9/11 attacks. Mohammed, of course, is the admitted mastermind of the World Trade Center attacks. This is an outrageous decision for the following reasons:
1. Mohammed and other al-Qaeda terrorists, as well as the other Guanatanamo Bay detainees, are not U.S. citizens. They are foreign enemy combatants and part of an organization that is at war with our country. For this reason, these terrorists do have not constitutional rights and are in no way subject to the jurisdiction of the federal court system. Holder's decision grants these terrorists rights that do not belong to them -- and should not belong to them.
2. Trying these terrorists in civilian courts makes it far more difficult to prosecute them effectively. Remember -- these terrorists were detained under the laws of war. Some of them, including Mohammed, were subject to enhanced interrogation techniques including waterboarding. They were not read their Miranda rights and did not receive lawyers. Much of the evidence against them may not even be admissible in court. Left-wing, terrorist-sympathizing defense attorneys will have a field day with these cases. They will bombard the court with pre-trial motions and motions to dismiss and attempts to free the defendants based on technicalities. They will claim that these terrorists were tortured, that they were denied access to legal help, that they were held without proper evidence, and that their confessions were coerced. They could use all sorts of legal tactics to delay these cases for months or even years. We have all heard horror stories about corrupt, left-wing federal judges who award old ladies millions for spilling coffee on themselves and give child rapists three months in jail. What's to prevent such a judge from acquitting one or more of these terrorists because of the prosecution's failure to meet due process requirements, or to make a point about torture or war-time detention? These men are extremely dangerous terrorists, and we must never open the door to the possibility that any of them could be set free.
3. Trying these terrorists in civilian courts risks the exposure of intelligence methods and sources and other confidential information that could jeopardize U.S. national security. U.S. civilian courts have very burdensome discovery and witness-confrontation rules that could force the government to disclose a huge amount of classified intelligence information. This is dangerous to our country because it could give our enemies a great deal of insight into our methods and activities in the War on Terror which they will not hesitate to use against us. Bin Laden gained valuable information from the 1995 trial of one of the bombers of the World Trade Center, which led him to flee from Sudan to Afghanistan. Also, such a disclosure of U.S. national security secrets will discourage cooperation from intelligence sources and foreign intelligence services, leaving us even more vulnerable to terrorism.
4. Trying these terrorists in civilian courts gives the terrorists exactly what they want -- a big microphone to spout their hatred and contempt for the U.S. The civilian trial of the 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, turned into a circus. No one doubts that Mohammed is guilty. He and his lawyers will use his trial not to argue for his innocence, but instead to try to embarrass the United States military and the CIA while emboldening terrorist sympathizers around the world.
5. A civilian trial for al-Qaeda terrorists in New York is a huge security risk. Bustling, densely-populated Manhattan is already a bull's eye for terrorism, and a public trial of al-Qaeda members makes it worse. Our country will pay a huge amount of money for top-level security at these trials, and still run the risk of inviting terrorist attacks that could cost many lives.
6. Our country has a long history of trying foreign enemy combatants in special military tribunals during wartime. In 1942, eight Nazis who sneaked into the U.S. were tried by a military tribunal and hanged. And make no mistake about it -- we are in a war against radical Islamic terrorism. The Fort Hood attacks are just the latest reminder of that sobering truth. Military tribunals are not against the rule of law -- they are part of the rule of law. The 2006 Military Commissions Act was passed to establish a detailed legal process for detainees in response to a Supreme Court ruling and received bipartisan Congressional support. These commissions, held at the impenetrable Guantanamo Bay fortress, were widely considered to be impartial and effective. They provided very generous due process protections for wartime combatants, but ensured that information vital to our national security would not be disclosed. Such a commission had already been established for Mohammed and his fellow terrorists, and they had already agreed to plead guilty and accept execution. Yet Obama has broken with this long American tradition and discontinued this system of military commissions.
7. Obama apparently thinks this decision will reduce or eliminate radical Muslim hostility to the U.S. This is ludicrous. Obama has taken a much softer approach to terrorism than his White House predecessor, and the result has been a significant increase in attempted terrorist attacks on our soil. Nearly half of all the attempted terrorist attacks against U.S. targets that have occurred since 9/11 have occurred in the past seven months -- since Obama took office. He has also taken a conciliatory approach toward the worlds' #1 terrorist-sponsoring country, Iran, which has produced no positive results or cooperation whatsoever. Obama's approach is interpreted as weakness and lack of resolve on the part of our enemies, and they appear to be more emboldened than they have been in quite some time.
In summary, this is a terrible idea born out of Obama's twisted left-wing ideology. It shows that the Obama Administration does not take terrorism seriously. It is giving these terrorists far more respect and far more rights than they deserve and allowing them to use our country's institutions against us. It emboldens other terrorists around the world. It is putting our national security and confidential intelligence information at risk. It is creating the possibility that dangerous terrorists might be set free. It shows a dangerous lack of resolve during wartime. May God have mercy on our country.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Here's a link to the text of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment so you can see for yourself what it does and does not say.
Now here are a couple quotes by Cecile Richards about the amendment.
The intent of this amendment was to ensure that no one under health care reform could purchase a plan that included abortion coverage.
It's a very far-reaching amendment that would fundamentally change women's access to getting health insurance that covers all of their reproductive health care.
Anyone who has read the amendment should know that these are complete lies. The Stupak-Pitts amendment (which passed the House and is now a part of the medical care bill in the Senate) does nothing except to maintain the status quo with regard to federal funding for abortions. Federal funding for abortions under most federal programs is prohibited by the Hyde Amendment. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment only applies these same restrictions to the 1990-page monstrosity under debate right now.
Besides prohibiting federal funding for abortions, this amendment specifically says that nothing in the amendment prohibits private insurance companies from covering abortion procedures. It is nothing short of dishonesty for Cecile Richards to say that this amendment would "fundamentally change women's access to getting health insurance that covers all of their reproductive health care".
[Am I the only one who finds it a little odd that somebody would need insurance for abortions? People usually buy insurance for unexpected situations, like a car accident or brain cancer (not that I would ever equate a pregnancy with those things). I would think that most people know where babies come from and could take the appropriate measures ahead of time if they do not want to have a baby. ("I'm pregnant? How on EARTH did that happen?")]
In addition to the dishonest statements by Cecile Richards, the CNN video contains misleading graphics. As correspondent Dana Bash discusses the restrictions on federal funding for abortion under the proposed bill, the following graphic appears:
While this graphic is on the screen, Dana Bash says, "Private insurance in a new government-regulated exchange would also be prohibited from offering abortion coverage to anyone getting taxpayer money for health care." This is basically true, but the graphic suggests that it would be illegal for private insurance companies to pay for abortions at all. (At the beginning of the video, she also refers to the Stupak-Pitts Amendment as "an amendment that restricts abortion".)
During the debate on the House floor, Mike Pence (R-IN) had the following insight:
Ending an innocent human life is morally wrong, but it’s also morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of Americans and use them to provide for a procedure that they find morally offensive.
Advocates of abortion rights are quite narrow in their support for "choice", at least as it concerns the "choice" of taxpayers in how their money is used. To Cecile Richards and other pro-abortion advocates, the only choice which is sacred is the choice of a woman to kill her child in the womb.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
In fact, it was so important...that President Obama, who was perfectly willing to fly to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago getting the Olympics, was unable to make time in his busy schedule to attend. He sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton instead, who gave a brief speech at the Brandenburg Gate, and then introduced Obama, who gave a brief speech by video.
Obama's and Clinton's speeches are an embarrassment. Neither one of them contains a single mention of the Soviet Union, Communism, Ronald Reagan, or Margaret Thatcher. Clinton singles out numerous people groups for praise, but completely omits praise for the leading role of the U.S. and its military. Both speeches make vague references to "tyranny" and an "iron curtain" but say nothing about the nature of this tyranny or how it was defeated. Clinton provides this moral lesson from the fall the Berlin Wall: "There are still millions across our world who are separated – maybe not by walls, maybe not by barbed wire, although that still exists – but who are separated from loved ones, who are kept down and behind, unable to fulfill their own destinies." What pathetic pablum. It sounds like she's getting ready to launch into a speech advocating universal health care. What about the evils of tyranny globally? What about the importance of courageously speaking out in favor of freedom and against Communism and other forms of totalitarianism, and the necessity of confronting them and defeating them with actions, including force? Those are the real lessons of the fall of the Berlin Wall. But Hillary just wants us all to get along and work together to help people reunite with their loved ones.
The biggest embarrassment of all was the fact that Obama was the only American even mentioned in either speech. Leave it to Obama to make even the fall of the Berlin Wall about himself. Clinton closed her speech by saying, "I am deeply honored to introduce now a message from someone who represents the fall of different kinds of walls – of walls of discrimination, of stereotype, of character, the walls that too often are inside minds and hearts." Awww. Then Obama rambled on for a couple of minutes, making a few vague references to historical events before getting to the really important point about the fall of the Berlin Wall: “Few would have foreseen … that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent. But human destiny is what human beings make of it."
You know, it wouldn't be so bad if this were the first time Obama had showed this incredible egotism. But it's not. When Obama spoke to the UN General Assembly in September, he had this to say: "For those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months." As far as Obama is concerned, American history began when he took office. He is oblivious to the greatness of our country and its grand history of protecting the innocent and promoting democracy and freedom around the world. The best thing he can think of about America is his election and presidency. Or as Michelle Obama put it, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country." The overwhelming narcissism is sickening, but the complete ignorance of history and inability to demonstrate pride in the country he was elected to represent on the world stage is even worse. America has a proud history, a great record of accomplishments, and values that are worth celebrating. We deserve a president who recognizes that.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
1. Maj. Hasan was a radical Muslim who attended a mosque led by a jihadist cleric who is under investigation for terrorist involvement.
2. Maj. Hasan shouted out "Allahu akbar" ("God is great") right before going on his killing spree.
3. Maj. Hasan had been a vocal critic of America and of America's overseas wars for years and had declared that the U.S. was in a war against Islam.
4. Maj. Hasan had published odes to suicide bombers on the Internet, had publicly praised a radical Muslim who killed a soldier at a recruiting station in Arkansas earlier this year, and had attempted to contact Al Qaeda, all in the weeks and months leading up to the shootings.
5. Maj. Hasan was an Army psychiatrist who had never been in combat and had never even been deployed overseas, and who was promoted despite poor job performance.
6. Maj. Hasan sold off most of his belongings and handed out copies of the Koran in the days leading up to the shootings.
Here are the inevitable conclusions that an objective observer would draw from these facts:
1. This was a premeditated and evil act of Islamic terrorism perpetrated on American soil -- the worst one in fact since 9/11 -- and our government needs to publicly label it as such.
2. We need to condemn not only the attacks, but also the radical Muslim ideology that inspired this attack, and redouble our efforts to effectively monitor, and if necessary, arrest, deport, or silence clerics, mosques, and individuals that promote this ideology.
3. We need to ask ourselves what went wrong in our country's War on Terror to allow this Muslim extremist to get away with this crime. The warning signs were obvious, and Maj. Hasan has been on the FBI's radar screen for months prior to the shooting. Why was nothing done?
4. Many military acquaintances of Maj. Hasan's are coming forward now with damning statements about this man's sympathy with Islamic terrorism, his dangerous religious views, and his hatred and contempt for the U.S. and the U.S. military. Why did they not come forward earlier to report these things? Some of them have stated that it was because they were fearful of being branded as intolerant or being punished for opposing Islam or diversity. What does the military (and other branches of government) need to do to encourage members to report potential terrorist suspects or plots?
Here are the conclusions that our government and our media are drawing from this attack:
1. Gen. George Casey, the Army Chief of Staff, made the following comments in the days following the attacks: “Speculation could potentially heighten backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers and what happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here. It’s not just about Muslims, we have a very diverse army, we have very diverse society and that gives us all strength." NOTE: The real tragedy is not the death of the soldiers or the violence of radical Islam, but a potential backlash against Islam and diversity. He added in another interview, "I'm concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers. And I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that." NOTE: The real thing to watch for is not terrorism, but "anti-diversity" behavior. If that's the attitude of the military leadership, I wouldn't hold my breath to see changes for the better in preventing future terrorist attacks.
2. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano made the following comments: “This was a terrible tragedy for all involved. Obviously, we object to — and do not believe — that anti-Muslim sentiment should emanate from this.... This was an individual who does not, obviously, represent the Muslim faith." Well, obviously. There have only been a little over 14,000 attacks worldwide by Muslim terrorists in the 8 years since 9/11. So it's good to see the woman responsible for keeping American soil safe zeroing in on the real threat to our security -- anti-Muslim bigotry.
3. ABC's newly-picked World News Tonight anchor commented that she wished that Maj. Hasan were named "Smith." That's what I call real journalism -- wishing out loud that the facts would just go away.
4. Chris Matthews, who has a prime-time MSNBC show (with approxmately 7 viewers per night) made the following comments: "See - we have a problem. How do we know when someone like Hasan is going to make his move and do we know he's an Islamist until he's made his move? He makes a phone call or whatever, according to Reuters right now. Apparently he tried to contact al Qaeda. Is that the point at which you say, ‘This guy is dangerous?' That's not a crime to call up al Qaeda, is it?" Hmmm. Once he kills a few dozen soldiers, gets arrested, gets a lawyer, and is duly declared guilty in a court of law, we can conclude he's dangerous. I'm feeling safer already.
5. And here's Evan Thomas, Editor-At-Large of Newsweek: "I cringe that he's a Muslim. I mean, because it inflames all the fears. I think he's probably just a nut case. But with that label attached to him, it will get the right wing going and it just -- I mean these things are tragic, but that makes it much worse." Of course, no pattern here. The guy just happens to be Muslim. What a "tragic" coincidence! I just hope we can be vigilant about the real threat -- those right-wingers!
6. Numerous news outlets have claimed that he must have just snapped and are blaming post-traumatic stress syndrome (despite the fact he had never been in combat). This was the original explanation of most of the media, which failed to even initially report the fact that Hasan was a Muslim (which seems like it could be a somewhat relevant fact).
This politically correct attitude by people in top positions in government and media shows why this attack was able to happen in the first place. Nobody dares to report or go after anyone who is Muslim, no matter what they say or do, because they will be branded as bigoted. The pansy White House won't even use the word terrorism. Our government won't even admit we're in a war against radical Islam -- so how can we fight it effectively? How many people have to die before we learn the tragic lesson from Fort Hood?
Friday, November 6, 2009
What do you suppose would happen if the government mandated that doctors' salaries be reduced by 90%, as in the case of corporate CEOs? My guess is that not very many people would want to be doctors. The price of medical care would be reduced, but it would not matter, since you would never get to see a doctor anyway. The cost, then, is that you just have to suck it up and hope that your cancer goes away on its own.
The rest of Dr. Sowell's articles are here: linky linky
1. It is 1,990 pages of incomprehensible jargon. The bill has only been out for a week, and it is a safe bet most congressmen who are voting for it have not and will not read it.
2. It costs $1.3 trillion dollars over the first 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Pelosi claims it only costs $900 billion, but she is playing games and excluding numerous real costs of the bill.
3. The true 10-year cost of the bill is hidden because most of the costs of the program do not take effect for several years. From the time the full provisions of the bill go into effect, it will cost $1.8 trillion, increase taxes by $1.1 trillion, and take $800 billion from Medicare over the first 10 years.
4. It heavily subsidizes health insurance for people earning 150%-400% of the poverty level -- people who don't need the government to pay for their health insurance.
5. It cuts Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors by 21.5% and increasing, which accounts for for supposedly $250 billion of cost savings in the bill. Such regulations have repeatedly failed to slow rising costs in the past.
6. It cuts Medicare by over $400 billion, including $175 billion from Medicare Advantage, a program which gives seniors private insurance options.
7. It expands Medicaid coverage to everyone up to 150% of the poverty level.
8. It establishes a new government insurance commissioner and a board of federal bureaucrats, which equates to a government takeover of the insurance industry.
9. This new government health care board will decide what private insurers must cover and what they must charge. It will mandate that insurers offer coverage at virtually the same price to everyone, regardless of medical history. Of course, these mandates and regulations will cause health insurance costs to skyrocket.
10. It prohibits the sale private health insurance to individuals beginning in 2013, meaning that individuals will be forced to buy health coverage through the federal government.
11. It levies about $575 billion in new taxes, including taxes on certain insurance policies.
12. It imposes a 5.4% tax on individuals earning more than $500,000, bringing the top marginal income tax rate to 45% (not including other phase-outs of tax deductions/exemptions & state income taxes). It is NOT indexed for inflation, so more and more people will fall under this tax in the future.
13. More than 50% of this 5.4% tax burden will fall on small businesses (S corporations and LLC's). It has been estimated this tax could cost up to 5.5 million jobs.
14. It imposes an 8% of payroll penalty on all but the smallest businesses that fail to pay at least 72.5% of their employees' health insurance premiums (and the health insurance must be government-approved). This provision would destroy job creation and economic growth, only making our terrible employment situation worse.
15. It imposes a 2.5% of AGI tax on people who don't buy insurance, even if they make less than $250,000 per year (breaking an Obama promise).
16. It requires the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortion through the government-run plan. There are no opt-out provisions, meaning that people would be forced to pay for abortions with their premiums.
17. It creates a "public option," a new government-run health plan that would force private companies to compete against the government and would cause over 100 million people to lose private insurance coverage in the future.
18. It exempts Congress from being covered by this plan.
19. There are no provisions to prevent the government plan from denying access to life-savings treatments on cost grounds. Britain's National Health Service already does this.
20. It will inevitably result in the rationing of health care as our government drowns in debt more and more. The elderly are most at risk.
21. It is full of budget gimmicks that make costs look lower than they actually are. For example, some costs like the repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula are pushed into separate pieces of legislation to make this bill look less costly.
22. It is full of pork and special benefits to particular interest groups.
23. As a result of the tax increases in this bill, a Harvard economist estimates that the average taxpayer will see his taxable income fall by 17%.
24. It fails to include any reform of the current medical malpractice liability system, even though this is a significant reason why health care costs are so high.
25. It fails to allow individuals to purchase health coverage across state lines, which would enable 12 million more Americans to purchase health insurance.
26. It is opposed by a vast majority of doctors, as well as a clear majority of Americans.
27. It is far worse than an alternative Republican plan, which would cost $60 billion with no new taxes and no funds taken from Medicare, yet would still increase insurance coverage and would lower insurance premiums by 3-10%. Which bill would you prefer, one that costs less and reduces insurance costs, or one that costs far far more and increases insurance costs?
In summary, this bill would destroy our excellent health care system, increase already high unemployment, stunt economic growth, vastly increase the deficit, and vastly increase government control over our lives. We must stop this bill from becoming law, and give early retirement to any congressmen who votes for it.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I think it's easy to overlook the significance of the Virginia results, since they were widely anticipated. Yes, we all knew McDonnell was going to win, but his final margin of victory is pretty impressive by anybody's standards -- nearly 18 percentage points. The last time Virginia elected a governor by that wide of a margin was 1961! Republicans also won the lieutenant governor & attorney general races by wide margins, and have apparently picked up five seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. Remember, Obama carried Virginia by about 6 points in 2008, so we are talking about nearly a 25-point swing from Democrat to Republican in just one year. Remember, McDonnell is an unapologetic conservative who took direct aim at Obama's policies during the campaign. Exit polls showed a significant majority of voters thought that the government was becoming too powerful and needed to reduce its role in society. And significantly, independents broke for McDonnell over Deeds by a 2 to 1 margin -- the same independents who supported Obama in 2008. At least part of Deeds' loss can be attributed to a weak campaign, but it's very hard to argue that Obama's left-wing, big-government policies had no effect on this race. A purple state moving into the red category in such a big way clearly reflects a changing political climate that could bode poorly for Democrats in 2010. All Democrats in Congress who represent districts that supported McCain or narrowly supported Obama should take note of the Virginia results and reconsider their support for ObamaCare.
Chris Christie's 4.5% margin of victory was also impressive and a bit of an upset to conventional wisdom, although I think it has fewer national implications than the Virginia race. The overriding issue in this campaign was the inept and corrupt administration of Jon Corzine. It's very hard to win re-election when your job disapproval rating is hovering near 60%, even in a state very friendly to your party. New Jersey voters remain favorably disposed toward Obama, but they finally had enough of Corzine's out-of-control spending and taxation and cronyism. Still, conservatives can rejoice that New Jersey has a conservative as their new governor. Christie is more conservative than previous New Jersey GOP governors like Christie Todd Whitman and Tom Kean, and we can hope that he will do something to at least stem the tide of corruption and left-wing ideology in the state's government. And let's face it -- the New Jersey results were a real embarrassment to Obama. Obama campaigned hard for Corzine on multiple occasions and expended a lot of political capital trying to get out the Democratic vote in that state. The fact that his presence the final weekend of the campaign was unable to push Corzine over the top in the bluest of blue states, despite polls showing a dead heat, makes Obama look weak and ineffective. The fact that he joined himself at the hip with such a corrupt and ineffective governor makes him look foolish.
The biggest surprise and disappointment of the night for me was the result of NY-23. I knew the race was closer than a lot of pundits thought, and I sensed that Scozzafava's endorsement of Owens was swinging the momentum in the race, but I still felt like the Republican tilt of the district and grassroots enthusiasm would push Hoffman over the top. I was wrong. Did Scozzafava's 5% vote total keep Hoffman from winning? I guess we'll never know, but I still question whether very many of those votes would have gone to Hoffman. This is a disappointing race to lose, because it is a swing district that supported Obama in 2008, and a conservative win here would really have forced Democrats in Congress to take notice. I think this loss gives cover to congressional Democrats and gives them a chance to argue that unelectable right-wing extremists are taking over the party. Perhaps it shows that the anti-Obama tide is not as strong as conservatives would like to think right now. But I also think that this race was very unique and may not necessarily portend anything significant for 2010. In retrospect, it seems like a big issue that Hoffman did not have strong roots in the district. Apparently he was perceived as a johnny-come-lately whose campaign was funded by deep pockets outside of the district, running against two candidates who are upstate New York natives. It certainly hurt Hoffman that Scozzafava, the Republican, endorsed the Democrat and vigorously campaigned for him in the final days of the campaign. And let's face it -- the press is really overstating the conservatism of NY-23. The district has clear Republican tendencies, but not necessarily conservative tendencies. New York Republicans tend to be well to the left of national Republicans. And let's not forget how badly the national Republican party fumbled this race, donating $900,000 to Scozzafava's campaign, some of which was used to attack Hoffman. The real reason the Republicans lost this race was because they nominated such a bad GOP candidate in the first place. Hoffman could have won if he had been the Republican nominee in the first place.
One other note: Maine voted down a gay marriage law. This is significant because Maine is a socially liberal state, and supporters of traditional marriage were outspent by a 10 to 1 margin. National gay rights groups targeted Maine as a state friendly to their agenda and went all out to win. So far, not a single state has voted in favor of gay marriage. Gay marriage has been defeated at the ballot box even in liberal states like California and Maine. I'm sure gay activists will keep trying, but the election results this year show that the public continues to oppose their radical agenda, at least for now.
Now we have to hope that the results of this election will help to defeat ObamaCare.
Monday, November 2, 2009
1. Virginia. This is the easiest one to predict. The Republican candidate for governor, Bob McDonnell, has run a very strong campaign and looks to be cruising to an easy victory over Democrat Creigh Deeds. Every poll taken over the past two weeks has shown McDonnell with a double-digit lead over Deeds, ranging from 10 points (Research 2000) to 19 points (Survey USA). Polls also show that the level of excitement and enthusiasm is much higher for McDonnell than for Deeds. In an off-year election, this will likely mean that McDonnell outperforms the polls -- energized conservatives will turn out in large numbers, while depressed Democrats are less likely to vote. I expect McDonnell will end up winning by at least 15 or 16 points, and maybe by as much as 20 points.
There are other races in Virginia as well, and Republicans should also fare well in those races. It seems likely that the GOP will win both the Lieutenant Governor & Attorney General races by comfortable margins. If McDonnell wins by double-digits, he will also sweep other down-ballot Republican candidates for the state legislature to victory. The GOP seems poised to pick up 4 or 5 seats in the House of Delegates -- and maybe even more.
Why this Republican sweep in Virginia? Remember, this once-solid Republican state has been trending Democratic in recent years, and Obama carried it by a significant margin just last year. Some of the blame for the strong swing back to the GOP this year has to go to Creigh Deeds, who was hardly a strong candidate. Deeds ran a relentlessly negative campaign and failed to present a positive agenda to the voters. He stumbled over his words in debates and interviews and flip-flopped badly on numerous issues. But I think the bigger reason for McDonnell's huge victory is widespread dissatisfaction and even anger against the hard-left agenda of Obama and congressional Democrats. Deeds' shortcomings as a candidate may explain why he is losing, but it by itself does not account for the huge margin of loss. Why are Republicans so energized? Why are so many moderates and independents supporting McDonnell? The reason is that they are dissatisfied with Democratic leadership in Virginia and Washington DC and want a change.
McDonnell's win is something worth celebrating. He, along with his fellow-Republican candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general, is a true conservative who has fought hard for the pro-life cause and for traditional family values. He is a strong believer in individual freedom, limited government, and lower taxes. And he is a gracious candidate who reaches out to moderates.
2. New Jersey. This state's governor's race is much harder to predict because it is much closer than Virginia's. Up until a couple of days ago, I thought Democrat Jon Corzine was going to win this race. But it does look like the GOP candidate Chris Christie has a bit of momentum right now. The most recent polls have shown him slightly ahead and gaining ground, and it does seem like late-deciding voters are unlikely to vote for the highly unpopular incumbent Corzine.
I am very reluctant to pick Christie as the winner though, because the Democratic organization in New Jersey is so strong. No Republican has won any state-wide race here since 1997 when Christie Todd Whitman, a liberal Republican, was narrowly re-elected governor. Corruption and dirty tricks are very common here, and labor unions and political bosses have their way of getting "their people" to the polls, legally or otherwise. The Democrats are launching a huge get-out-the-vote effort on behalf of Corzine, and Obama was in the state yesterday campaigning. Corzine has outspent Christie by about 3 to 1, and much of that money has been spent on nasty personal attacks designed to increase Christie's negatives. Even with all that, however, Corzine continues to have extremely high negatives -- close to 60%.
I am very hesitantly picking Christie to squeak out a win -- probably by one or two points -- over Corzine, with independent Chris Daggett finishing a very distant third with no more than 5 or 6 percent of the vote. The Democratic ground game and party machinery will be worth at least a couple of points on election day, but I now think that Christie's support among independents and a strong turnout of angry, motivated conservatives will be enough to put him over the top. I do not expect Republicans to gain much, if anything, in the NJ state legislature.
Christie is not a perfect candidate who has not presented a lot of positive ideas, and it's unlikely he will be able to accomplish much as governor with a heavily Democratic legislature working against him. Still, he is more conservative than the typical New Jersey Republican, and his victory is likely to have symbolic significance this year. Obama has spent a lot of time in New Jersey lately and is expending a lot of political capital on a Corzine win. If Corzine were to lose in one of the most Democratic states in the country, it would be a big embarrassment for Obama and could be interpreted as a repudiation of his agenda. Also, it would mean a GOP sweep of the 2009 governors' elections, which would give the Republican momentum going into the 2010 elections and might scare some moderate Democrats who are on the fence about ObamaCare.
3. NY-23 Congressional Race. This is a special election for a U.S. Congress seat in upstate New York that was vacated when the Republican congressman who occupied it for 16 years resigned from Congress to take a post in the Obama administration. I posted earlier about how the Republican party chose liberal state assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava as their nominee, and conservatives revolted and rallied around the Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman. For awhile, this looked to be a very interesting three-way race. Then, Scozzafava began to fade in the polls as more and more Republicans and independents began to defect to support Hoffman. On Saturday, Scozzafava quit the race and endorsed the Democrat, Bill Owens.
There has been quite a bit of polling done on this race, but polling is notoriously inaccurate for congressional races, so it's hard to know how much the numbers can be relied on. The two most recent polls are showing Hoffman leading Owens, but one of them is showing Hoffman with only a five point lead with nearly 20% of voters undecided.
It is hard to know how much of an impact Scozzafava's endorsement of Owens will have on the race. It seems likely to me that more of her supporters will vote for Owens than for Hoffman, and a lot of liberal organizations are pouring money into Owens' campaign in the final days. Still, conservatives are energized and are likely to turn out in large numbers to vote for Hoffman. Considering that turnout is likely to be low and that this is a conservative-leaning district that has a history of voting for Republicans, I think it is reasonable to pick Hoffman as the winner. But Owens may have some momentum coming out of the weekend, so I'm guessing this election will also be close. I'm guessing that Hoffman wins by 3 or 4 points, but I'm hardly sure about this prediction.
4. Other Races. There are a couple of other races happening this year as well. In the New York City mayoral race, Republican incumbent Michael Bloomberg looks likely to win a 3rd term, although his Democratic opponent is making it fairly competitive. And there is a special Congressional election in California that has gotten very little attention. It is a strongly Democratic-leaning district, but the Republican has run a spirited campaign and may have an outside chance at an upset victory if turnout is low and anti-government sentiment is high. I would not rule out a Republican victory here, but in the absence of accurate polling, conventional wisdom would have to favor a Democratic win. Look for this race to be close though.
To summarize -- I anticipate that Election 2009 will be a big night for Republicans, and the headlines do not bode well for Obama and the Democrats in Congress as we look forward to the big congressional elections of 2010.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
I mean, I hope none of you readers have bet any money on whether or not Congress will pass a bill with a "public option" in it. Because if so, I'm sure it's been quite a roller-coaster ride over the past few months. First the public option is a requirement, then everyone says it won't happen, then Obama says he supports it, then he says it's not essential for reform, then we hear that Pelosi insists on it, then we hear that Reid doesn't want it, then we hear that a Senate committee has passed a bill without it, and now lo and behold Reid has re-written the bill and voila! The public option is back! And of course, there are no end of qualifications to a "robust" public option such as triggers and opt-outs for states. And by the way, am I the only one who wonders why Senate committees even bother to go to all the trouble to hold hearings, reach a consensus, and vote a bill out of committee when the Senate majority leader is going to completely rewrite the bill afterwards anyway?
I wish I could say that this whole dog-and-pony show is all in good faith. But tragically, it's not. It's a deliberate attempt to confuse and deceive the American public. Let's cut through all the distraction about the public option and triggers and opt-outs and co-ops. The Democrats are up against two brick walls when it comes to health care reform. The first brick wall is that polls show that 80-85% of Americans are generally satisfied with the current quality of their health care. Yes, they think that some changes can and should be made to reduce costs and increase accessibility to health insurance, but they do not want fundamental changes to a system that already provides first-class quality of care. The second brick wall is that a majority of voters are not stupid, and they do not believe for a minute the Democrats' rhetoric that the government can create a huge new $1 trillion entitlement program without significantly increasing the deficit or significantly increasing taxes. They also do not believe that putting the government in control of health care will either lead to lower costs or higher-quality care. Of course, they're right, and simple logic and some basic knowledge of history confirms that they're right.
So the Democrats have a conundrum on their hands. Given the fact that they are agitating for a huge new government program that most Americans oppose, it would seem they have two options: listen to the American people and back off, or move forward with their agenda against the will of their constituents. Clearly, Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress have chosen the latter option. And their way of pushing this bill through is to muddle the issue as much as possible and tell as many lies and deceptions as possible to keep the American people guessing. Is there any other way to explain why a Democratic committee in the Senate voted down an amendment that would simply require that a final version of the bill be posted on the Internet for 72 hours prior to a final vote in order to make sure that voters know exactly what is in the final bill? If their intentions were honorable and their determination was to serve their constituents, why would they do this? Why has there been this push, push, push to pass some bill --any bill! -- as quickly as possible? Obama says it is urgent, but the provisions in most of these bills do not even begin to take effect until 2013! So you tell me why it has to be passed the day before yesterday. You tell me why members of Congress are being arm-twisted to vote in favor of a 1,000+ page bill they have barely even had time to look at.
Look at the bait-and-switch that is going on. The Senate Finance Committee comes up with a conceptual "bi-partisan" plan that has no numbers in it at all and is completely vague about all the details. They get the Congressional Budget Office to look at it and declare that this new government program will save our country $81 billion over 10 years, mostly because the costs are paid for up-front but the benefits do not take effect until 3 years later. Touting this bill as a moderate approach that doesn't increase the deficit and doesn't include a public option, the bill passes committee with all Democrats and one Republican voting for it. And then, a week or so later, suddenly we find out that Senate majority leader Harry Reid has completely rewritten the bill and it now includes the public option! (And by the way, the "opt-out" provision for states is a complete joke. Every state's taxpayers have to pay for this public option, so what state is going to deny them the benefits of it by opting out? I assure you, the taxes to pay for this option will not be optional.) So first you get the CBO to certify that the bill won't increase the deficit, and then you completely rewrite it to include an extremely expensive public option. And now I'm sure we'll see a big push to get "consensus" and push this bill through as quickly as possible. What a pathetic attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of American voters.
The way that Obama and congressional Democrats have tried to bully Americans into accepting their health care plan is truly disgraceful. When American citizens turned out in large numbers at townhall meetings to exercise their constitutional rights to petition their government and participate in democracy, they were villified and accused of being Nazis, "evilmongers," brownshirts, and thugs by leading Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. When health insurer Humana sent out a letter warning its Medicare customers of potential effects of ObamaCare legislation, the Obama administration gave them a gag order and opened an investigation into their company. And of course, Obama has especially targeted news organizations like Fox that have not properly fallen into line behind the president.
These are not the tactics of statesmen who want to be transparent and accountable to their constituents. These are the tactics of deceitful demagogues and power-hungry politicians who are determined to get their way and increase their power, regardless of what their constituents want. They think they can get away with it. I hope that the American people will prove them wrong, both by mobilizing now to oppose this bill and by voting all these bums out in the 2010 elections, starting with Harry Reid.
The federal system, as originally laid out in our Constitution, calls for two equal levels of government -- the central national government and the state and local governments. The state and local governments are now little more than lackeys to the national government, but it was not always this way. The 10th Amendment to the Constitution states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The rights given to the central government in the Constitution are few and limited, while the rights given to the states and the people are numerous. This was a very wise way to set up the government because it avoids the concentration of power in the hands of a few people. The way I see it, massive central governments cause two types of problems.
The first type of problems caused by government are the result of having an unrealistic view of the limitations of people. These problems include the bursting of the housing bubble and rising college tuition rates, just to name a couple. The eagerness of many politicians to use government to solve problems reveals their foolish arrogance. I am just a 27-year-old computer science student working on a master's degree, but I can imagine that even if I had a Ph.D. in economics and experience as the CEO of a major corporation, I would still not have the expertise necessary to fix all of society's ills. Even if I had a law degree and a short political career, I would still not be qualified. (I'm talking to you, Obama.) I am not saying that Americans should silently tolerate the problems in society. What I contend is that government should not try to fix all of society's problems because it cannot do so, and the attempt will probably make things worse.
In the 1980s, economist Milton Friedman made a series of short films called Free to Choose. In one of these films, Friedman used an example to illustrate the complexity of the economy. He described all the products and labor which go into the manufacture of a pencil. The inputs include wood, metal (for the eraser-holder thingy), graphite, and rubber (for the eraser). The raw materials must be mined (in the case of the metal and graphite) or harvested (in the case of the rubber and wood). Then the raw materials must be shipped, processed, and assembled. As Friedman pointed out, no single person has the knowledge and expertise to carry out all the steps that go into the manufacture of a pencil, a simple device which people have been using for centuries. Therefore, it is ludicrous to think that a small group of politicians -- as compassionate and well-intentioned as they may be -- can regulate our $14 trillion economy, which includes millions of transactions each day.
Given the complexity of the economy, I trust the collective wisdom of the American people a lot more than I trust the concentrated wisdom of a few self-important politicians with an overinflated opinion of their knowledge and intelligence. (I have only touched on economic freedom so far. I am pretty confident that government intervention has caused many social problems as well. As the lazy authors of math textbooks say, this is left as an exercise for the reader.) By dividing power between the national and local governments, the founders of our nation have enabled more people to participate in the decisions which affect their lives. With more people comes a wider variety of experience and a smaller chance that government policies will be disastrous.
The second type of problems are caused by politicians who want to control other people. As many authors and politicians seem to point out, we live in a divided nation. I think that our nation would not be nearly as divided if these meddlesome politicians would let the people govern themselves under the powers mentioned in the 10th Amendment. (Note that I said the powers mentioned, not given. Our rights are given by God.) Then the tax-loving people of Massachusetts could have their welfare state without imposing their will on the citizens of Texas. Also, the citizens of Texas could ban gay marriage, while the more open-minded and progressive people in...Massachusetts again...could allow it.
Allowing the states and the people to govern themselves should result in a larger percentage of people who agree with the laws that affect their daily lives, since they are able to vote with their feet. If the laws of one state or community become too restrictive, then they can move to a neighboring state or community. However, moving to another state does not help at all if the same laws apply to the entire nation. (The alternative would be moving to Canada, I guess. The upside is that Canada has lots of Tim Horton's restaurants. The downside is that Canada is more highly regulated than the United States.)
I think that distributing political power widely among many people results in individual freedom, peace, and unity. The people and their elected representatives should not be so eager to throw their rights away.