"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Thoughts on the Recent Payroll Tax Scuffle

Here are my thoughts on the recent payroll tax cut scuffle. The dirty little secret about the so-called "standoff" over the payroll tax cut is that the Republicans in the House were clearly right about wanting to extend the payroll tax cut for at least a year instead of the 2-month extension in the Democratic Senate bill. A 2-month payroll tax cut is laughable. Payroll software developers will barely have time to modify their programs to reflect the changes before those changes expire. It will have zero impact on the economy, since employers don't hire people for 2 months (or even for a year). Their hiring decisions are based on planning years ahead, not weeks or months. Of course, all such an "agreement" does is ensure we will have exactly the same argument again in 2 months, when once more the payroll tax cuts will expire and Congress will be scrambling to once more extend them. What kind of way is this to run a government?

OK, so maybe the House Republicans aren't exactly "right" on the policy aspect of this. Probably the right thing to do is to expose the fact that this supposed tax cut is really just a handout of about $19 per paycheck to middle-class employees -- taking money out of the Social Security trust fund while doing nothing to stimulate long-term economic growth. But what they are proposing makes much more sense than the 2-month extension passed by the Senate. And yet, everyone seems to agree that the GOP has thoroughly lost the debate and the Democrats have seized the tax-cutting mantle.

I'm not saying that the House Republicans couldn't have done better. They clearly walked into a political trap set for them by Obama and the Democrats. But there is still no way that the Democrats should come out smelling like a rose on this issue when their position is utterly ridiculous, from a substantive policy perspective. Obama's poll numbers have actually gone up and the Democrats are now perceived more favorably than Republicans on the issue of taxes. This is because the press has not covered this issue accurately. They have not helped Americans to understand the real substance of this debate and why a 2-month extension bill is not worth the paper it's written on. And the American people are also to blame because they have blindly accepted what has been spoon-fed to them by the media and by political soundbites. They have been bought off by simplistic solutions and easy handouts.

This is where I disagree a little bit with some other conservatives, who want to cast most of the blame on John Boehner and the Republicans in Congress. I don't exactly think Boehner is the brightest bulb in the box and I've been disappointed with a lot of his compromises in the past with Obama. But what exactly was he supposed to do in this situation? He tried to take a stand against the ridiculous 2-month tax cut bill passed by the Senate, but was pounded by the media. Even conservative talk radio hosts criticized his boneheaded political move of picking a fight in an election year that he could not win (from a political perspective). Then, he gave in and agreed to the Senate bill, and conservative talk radio hosts blasted him for not standing for his principles! It is easy for arm-chair pundits to attack elected Republicans for being politically stupid, or unprincipled, or insufficiently eloquent. But these Republicans are stuck in a morass called Washington, DC, which will often make you look politically stupid for standing on your principles and will reward unprincipled politicians. While very few possess the eloquence of Ronald Reagan, many congressional Republicans are capable of making a half-decent case for their positions if given the opportunity to speak and the audience to listen. But it is very hard for them to get their message across, given the 24/7 news cycle, a political culture where everything is reduced to 30-second soundbites, the hostility of much of the mainstream media, and the indifference of much of the public. They will never be able to make their case as effectively as Obama, with his gigantic bully pulpit and a highly-sympathetic press. It's always easy to blame politicians, but maybe it would be more accurate to blame the voters who repeatedly let themselves be swayed by empty rhetoric and deceitful promises. Not to mention a biased media that manipulates those voters into falling for such rhetoric.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Welcome to Our World

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that You don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

~Chris Rice, "Welcome to Our World"


For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

~2 Corinthians 8:9

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today's Impromptus...

...by Jay Nordlinger of National Review Online is well worth reading. Actually, they all are, but this one is especially good. Check it out here.

One of the highlights of this Impromptus, along with the excellent comments about Ron Paul, was his account of what the Zambian foreign minister said to Amnesty International. Amnesty International, a despicable pseudo-human rights organization, called on Zambia and other African countries to arrest former President George W. Bush during his visit to that continent for "war crimes." Zambian foreign minister Chishimba Kambwili said this in reply: “On what basis does Amnesty International want us to arrest Mr. Bush? Tell them to hang, and also please ask them to create their own country and wait for Mr. Bush to visit their country so that they can arrest him to suit their wish and not here in Zambia.” Tell 'em, Chishimba!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Illinnoyed?

I thought this Washington Times article about the stark economic differences between two neighboring states, Indiana and Illinois, was fascinating. States are an interesting microcosm of the country as a whole, and comparing the economic results of different policy approaches taken by different states should be instructive for our federal politicians as they try to figure out how to get our country out of its current economic mess. Months ago, I posted a link to an online Forbes article discussing how draconian environmental regulations had damaged the economy of California and driven businesses out of the state in large numbers. Like California, Obama's home state is dominated by left-wing Democrats, and those Illinois Democratic politicians are doing their very best to follow in California's footsteps.

About a year ago, Illinois's Democratic legislature, with support from its Democratic governor, forced through huge tax increases -- 67% increases for individuals, 30% increases for businesses -- on a party line vote (in a lame-duck session, no less). Since then, the state has lost 89,000 jobs. Over the past year it has competed with neighboring Indiana for new investment and jobs 45 times, and lost 42 of those contests to Indiana. The state has also had to turn around and offer tax incentives to large corporations based in the state to keep them from moving out, which has understandably enraged the public. And ironically, the revenue gained from those massive tax increases, supposedly needed to pay down the state's debt to avoid fiscal insolvency, has simply been used to pay bloated public employee pensions and as an excuse to continue to increase spending. Of course, out-of-control spending is the reason why both the federal government and many state governments are tetering on the brink of insolvency, but Democrats (and some Republicans as well) have no interest in reining in spending. They want to raise taxes instead, which hurts businesses, kills job growth, and drives away investment, which in turn makes the budget crisis even worse, which results in added debt. It's a vicious cycle that has left Illinois's economy in shambles and threatens our entire country as well.

By contrast, Indiana is headed by a fiscally responsible Republican governor (Mitch Daniels) and a conservative legislature that has succeeded in balancing its budget, reducing spending, and keeping taxes low. This is why the state has been so effective at stealing new business and investment from Illinois that it has started an ad campaign called "Illinnoyed?" that explicitly targets Illinois businesses.

Next November, our country has to decide whether to re-elect Barack Obama, another Democratic politician obsessed with raising taxes on the rich and on the evil corporations but completely uninterested in taking any meaningful steps to reduce federal spending and reform entitlements. I hope that, unlike Illinois, we make the right choice.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If I Were to Sum Up My Values on a Bumper Sticker...

Yesterday morning on the way to work I was behind a car with an interesting bumper sticker. In big letters the sticker said "MY FAMILY VALUES," and then listed seven items: Equality, Free Speech, Accountability, Tolerance, Education, Liberty, and Peace.

Even though the bumper sticker called the items listed above "family" values, I would consider them to be largely political and social values rather than personal family values. And I disagree with most of them. True equality can never be achieved because people are not equal in their abilities, intellect, work ethic, determination, goals, etc. Our society should strive not for equality in wealth and outcomes, but rather for justice -- ensuring everyone is treated equally under the law -- and for equal opportunity for all people to succeed. Free speech is certainly important, but I would describe it as merely one critical aspect of liberty, the one item on the list with which I am in wholehearted agreement. I'm not even sure what is meant by accountability, but I don't think it's important enough to make it on a top 7 list of values. I value tolerance in the old sense of the word -- showing kindness and respect for people with differing beliefs and opinions. Today tolerance means recognizing all beliefs and opinions as equally valid and silencing any speech that could be perceived by anyone else as offensive. In this sense, tolerance is a threat to values I consider important like liberty and respect for truth. Education is not always a positive thing. It can be positive or negative, depending on whether the ideas being taught are true or false, beneficial or harmful. And while peace is an ideal to strive for, war and conflict are sometimes necessary to defeat evil and promote justice. Neville Chamberlain's "peace in our time" approach to the Nazi threat was foolish, and if the civil rights movement's primary goal was absence of conflict it would never have challenged the racist status quo.

Still, that bumper sticker got me thinking about what values I consider important. If I were to make a comparable list of the political and social values that I consider to be most critical to a healthy and prosperous democracy, here are the ones I would include (in no particular order):

--Justice
--Personal Responsibility
--Integrity
--Equal Opportunity
--Liberty
--Biblical Morality
--Compassion/Kindness
--Respect for Truth

If these principles do not largely prevail in the beliefs and behavior of our citizens and elected officials, I fear for the future of our country.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So This Is What Hope-and-Change Looks Like

Item 1: The Justice Department's involvement in a botched operation called "Fast and Furious" which put 2,000 U.S. guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Those cartels then used the guns to kill more than 300 people, including two U.S. agents. The Assistant Attorney General then apparently lied about it in May, when he denied that the government had lost track of any guns. Apparently, Obama's Justice Department is not only woefully incompetent, but also corrupt. Of course, no one has lost his job over this yet, and don't hold your breath either.

Item 2: The Department of Health and Human Services's awarding of a $433 million no-bid contract to a company run by a top Obama donor. Both the bidding process and the product provided under the bid appear to be highly suspect, as this NY Post article outlines, and now even Democratic senators are calling for an investigation. Hmmm...sounds a little like Solyndra. And come to think of it, no one in the Obama administration lost his job over that scandalous waste of taxpayer dollars either.

It's not just that the Obama administration is left-wing. It's that it is incompetent and corrupt. I can understand why liberals would defend an administration that is merely far to the left, but I would think they would be bothered by the incompetence and corruption.

Finally, one of my favorite conservative columnists, Mark Steyn, humorously demonstrates the folly of Obama's big-government mindset in this National Review Online article.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Odds 'n Ends

Here are a few interesting links and comments for today:

First, I had the privilege of attending a prayer rally outside of Leroy Carhart's late-term abortion clinic in Germantown, Maryland on Monday morning. The rally memorialized the first anniversary of Carhart's presence in Germantown and planted 720 crosses in the ground to symbolize the approximately 720 human lives killed during that first year. I was greatly encouraged to see how many people came out to participate on a weekday morning, but I couldn't believe it when I checked online afterwards and found out that more than 2,000 people attended! That is more than double the attendance for the other large protests I have attended over the past year and far more than organizers expected.

Second, I found an interesting exchange relating to the treatment of enemy combatants between Andrew McCarthy of National Review and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky which I thought was well worth reading. McCarthy's original article was in response to a discussion on the Senate floor between Sen. Paul and Sen. McCain on this topic (McCarthy links to a video of this discussion in his article). While I don't necessarily agree with everything McCarthy writes, especially related to the topic of Lincoln's conduct during the War Between the States, I think it is one of the best articles I have read refuting Ron and Rand Paul's positions on the War on Terror. McCarthy also has some harsh words regarding the U.S.'s attempts (under Pres. Bush) to set up democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think I have largely come around to McCarthy's perspective on this as well, in hindsight. Rand Paul wrote a short response to McCarthy's article here, which McCarthy then responded to again here and here. Of course, I think McCarthy by far got the better of this argument, but I'm far from an objective observer and Paul's single response may have been too brief to present his argument well.

Finally, Charles Krauthammer summarizes Obama's case for re-election in this article with two words: class resentment. After all, what else does he really have to run on? He has no ideas to solve the big problems facing our country -- the ballooning national debt, out-of-control government spending, runaway entitlement programs, and an outdated and unfair tax code. In fact, his policies have only made these problems worse. He has not been active in working with Congress and seeking a bi-partisan solution to these problems, and barely lifted a finger to help the debt commission (that he himself authorized) succeed. As Gov. Chris Christie succinctly put it, "What the hell are we paying you for, Mr. President?" He says he needs to be re-elected because there are so many pressing problems facing our country that he hasn't finished solving, but he's spent the past year doing little more than giving campaign-style speeches, attending fundraising, and golfing. Next year will certainly be more of the same. He can't run on his record, so he has to blame others for all our country's problems -- especially the rich. His big campaign strategy is to pound the Republican nominee relentlessly and propose big new taxes for the rich to make sure they pay "their fair share." And I'm sure, with the help of the media, that strategy will lock up tens of millions of votes for him. Maybe enough to get re-elected.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Locavorism

The local food movement has long been one of my pet peeves. This is a great article from Freakonomics that discusses some of the economic principles (division of labor, specialization, economies of scale...) that the push towards small, local farms seeks to ignore. It also applies these issues to climate change.

"From roughly 1940 to 1990, the world’s farmers doubled their output to accommodate a doubling of the world population. And they did it on a shrinking base of cropland. Agricultural productivity can continue to grow, but not by turning back the clock. Local foods may have a place in the market. But they should stand on their own, and local food consumers should understand that they aren’t necessarily buying something that helps the planet, and it may hurt the poor."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Newt for President?

With Herman Cain thoroughly discredited, Newt Gingrich appears to be the newest rising star in the GOP primary and seems to be assuming the mantle as the favored "anti-Mitt" candidate. He is surging in the polls and just got a high-profile endorsement from an influential New Hampshire newspaper.


Is Newt really here to stay? Or will his rise and fall mirror the trajectory of the string of other alternatives to Romney -- Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain? It's hard to say, of course, but I honestly find it rather amusing that the Anybody-but-Romney crowd seems to be settling on Newt Gingrich, of all people. To my mind, Gingrich has all the flaws of Romney as well as some big additional ones that Romney doesn't have.


One of the biggest complaints about Romney is that he has flip-flopped on too many issues and therefore his conservative credentials are suspect. But what about Gingrich? He flip-flopped on his position on the war in Libya over the period of just a few weeks. He appeared in a video with Nancy Pelosi three years ago advocating government intervention to prevent global climate change, although now he is singing a different tune. Are Gingrich's positions on the issues really more conservative than Romney? I don't know of a single major issue where Gingrich is significantly to the right of Romney -- correct me if I'm wrong.


Another complaint about Romney is that he is a typical politician, willing to throw conservative principles under the bus to appeal to moderates. But again, Gingrich has the same problem. I was shocked and appalled a few months ago when I heard Gingrich recycle tired Democratic talking points about Paul Ryan's budget plan and how it would throw seniors out in the snow, etc. Those comments were at least as bad, in my view, as Romney's attacks on Perry regarding Social Security for political expediency.


Romney takes a lot of heat for being an "establishment" Republican. But I don't know how much more of a Washington insider you can get than Newt Gingrich. He served in Congress for decades dating back to the 1970's. And he seemed to have some rather "cozy" relationships (some might say corrupt) in Washington, if the nearly $2 million of payments he collected from Freddie Mac are any indication. I can well remember the ire that Gingrich provoked from the conservative base back in 2009 when he endorsed the very liberal Republican candidate in the New York 23rd Congressional race over the Conservative party candidate. In many ways, he is more of an establishment candidate than Romney is.


Romney is also criticized for his public persona. He can come across as too slick and polished, aloof, a bit of a know-it-all, even slightly condescending. But what about Gingrich? He seems to have an even more exaggerated sense of self-importance than Romney and also has a combative personality. He is less likable than Romney (in my subjective opinion) and has a history of putting his foot in his mouth and of somewhat erratic behavior.


About the only major criticism of Romney that cannot be similarly applied to Gingrich, in my opinion, is the Massachusetts RomneyCare issue. This is a big concern I have, no doubt, and no matter how much Romney tries to finesse it, that issue will hamper his ability to attack Obama's health care plan during the campaign. But Gingrich has some pretty big liabilities as well.


For one thing, most Republicans did not consider Gingrich to be a very effective leader once he became Speaker of the House in 1995. He seemed to alternate between poorly-conceived political standoffs (the government shutdown) and disappointing compromises with the Democrats, and he was the only House Speaker ever to be forced out of his position by his own party. He did well getting his party into power in the first place, but his ego seemed to hamper his ability to lead once his party took power. That doesn't seem to bode well for his ability to be an effective president. As a college professor, he is great at talking, but I'm not so sure whether he is as good at leading. Reminds me of another college professor that proved even more incompetent as a national leader.....


Then there is the issue of Gingrich's pattern of having affairs, divorcing his previous wife, and marrying a younger woman. The most recent time this happened was only a little over a decade ago, so it's not like this was some indiscretion from his youth. I know some people say personal life doesn't matter, but I disagree. A candidate's pattern of personal behavior tells you a lot about his character and how he will behave once in office. If a candidate finds it easy to break a very important promise he makes to the person closest to him, how much easier will it be for him to break those much less important promises he makes on the campaign trail to people he doesn't even know? If he is corrupt in his personal dealings, why would you expect him to be honest as an elected official? And if the latest revelation about Herman Cain's long-term affair disqualifies him from being president, why should Gingrich's affairs be considered irrelevant?


All this is just a long way of saying that I really do not think Gingrich is a good alternative to Romney. I don't think it is at all clear that Gingrich would be a more reliably conservative president, and I have doubts both about his personal integrity and his electability. Either of them, of course, would be preferable to Obama....

The Moral Compass of the Obama Administration

I often hear pro-choice people argue that they are not really FOR abortion. No one, they say, thinks abortion is a good thing -- it is merely the best of a bunch of bad options in some tragic cases. Well, there are probably plenty of pro-choice individuals who really do consider abortion a bad thing and even a tragedy, but the leaders of the Democratic party are definitely not part of that group.

In fact, for them abortion is so precious that the very word is avoided, lest it produce a negative reaction. Democrats don't talk about abortion -- they always use euphemisms like "the right to choose," "women's rights," and "family planning services." The right to choose what? They never say. Someone unfamiliar with American political word games would be utterly clueless as to what these politicians were even talking about. Of all the important choices that exist in this world and all the important rights that women have, it all boils down to one thing for the Obama crowd: abortion. Abortion for any reason, at any stage in the pregnancy, with no restrictions. They mean nothing more and nothing less than this when they talk about "choice" and "women's rights." This right is so sacrosanct to Obama that he refused to support a bill in the Illinois state legislature that offered protection to babies that were delivered alive as a result of botched abortions. It is so sacrosanct to Senator Barbara Boxer that she once stated on the Senate floor that a baby obtains rights once the mother "takes it home from the hospital."

For Democratic leaders and liberal activists, "the right to choose" (you know, abortion, that procedure that nobody thinks is a good thing) trumps almost every other issue. It was one of the only major issues that President Clinton never compromised with the Republicans on during his time in office, even going so far as to veto a ban on partial-birth abortion. Obama and Pelosi insisted on taxpayer funding for abortion in the final version of the health care bill even when doing so risked the defeat of the entire measure.

But if you really need proof of how sacred abortion rights are to the modern Democratic party, look no further than the Obama Health and Human Services Department, led by pro-abortion crusader Kathleen Sebelius. I found this article from the National Catholic Register, which tellingly shows what happens when the cause of helping victims of human trafficking comes into conflict with promoting abortion. The author of the article, Steven Wagner, formerly directed the Human Trafficking Program at HHS.

To summarize: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was chosen in 2006 as the organization best qualified to administer the Human Trafficking Program, and has been doing so ever since. That is, until this year, when Sebelius changed the rules of the competition to give "strong preference" to applicants that offer "the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care" (translation: perform abortions). Even under the new rules putting the USCCB at a disadvantage, their grant proposal still scored the second highest of all proposals submitted. Sebelius still chose to deny any funds to the USCCB and gave those funds instead to two other abortion-providing organizations that were deemed by the non-political program staff to be unqualified.

Wagner, who is very familiar with the horror of the sex trade, goes on to explain why having an abortion puts women who are trafficking victims in more danger. Victims are under the domination of someone else and therefore cannot provide informed consent to an abortion. Pregnancy keeps the victims off the street; an abortion merely serves the interest of the pimp by putting the victim back on the street to face further risk of exploitation and death (average life expectancy of victims involved in the sex trade is 7 years). Pregnancy also dramatically increases the likelihood that a woman will seek help, while an abortion reduces that likelihood.

It's pretty hard to avoid the conclusion that in Obama's HHS, abortion must be promoted at all costs, even if it harms victims of human trafficking. The moral priorities of this administration could not be clearer. I hope that pro-choice people who do at least acknowledge some moral dilemma in regard to unrestricted abortion -- rather than regarding it as a positive moral good to be promoted at all costs -- will recognize how radical this administration's position really is. You don't have to believe that life begins at conception to recoil at the actions of people like Sebelius and late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart in Germantown.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a re-post from last year, but I think it bears repeating. I am thankful that when we see what is happening in our country and in the world, we can still look to our all-wise, all-powerful, omniscient and Provident God who holds the world in His hands and know that He is indeed working all things together for good. That is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation
General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
A PROCLAMATION
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houzes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"


NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.


And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

[I have updated some of the spelling for easier reading.]

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ok, I guess I'm not finished being cynical for today.

"The Government Can"
by Tim Hawkins

Happy Baracksgiving!

A friend shared this video on Facebook, and I found the statistics quite interesting. I have definitely noticed the increase in grocery prices. In a few cases I have had to adjust my personal/household "don't buy unless it's less than x dollars" rules, and in some cases I just don't buy things (cheese?) as often. I had forgotten that the price of gas was so low just under 3 years ago. Now it seems we get excited when it's below $3.30 per gallon.



And now I realize I have left you on a very negative note. Still, it's worth noting. Hopefully a more positive post is to come later on in the day!

(Disclaimer: I know nothing about the organization that made the video.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The 99% and the 47%

A National Review Online blogger provides a helpful timeline of the Occupy Wall Street movement's accomplishments here.

If the people involved in this movement are even close to representative of "99%" of America, we are doomed.

In a completely unrelated article, National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru has an interesting analysis of the concerns some conservatives have raised about an imminent "freeloader" majority (currently 47%) who do not pay income taxes. His article really helped me to look at this issue in a different way. Ponnuru argues -- rather persuasively, in my opinion -- that even though the percentage of Americans who pay no income taxes today is much higher than it was 50 years ago, increased payroll taxes mean that the average lower middle class family still pays a larger percentage of its income to the government than it did 50 years ago. He points out that the focus of conservatives should not be to increase taxes on lower-income people "not paying their fair share," but instead should be to keep the number of people receiving benefits from the government as low as possible.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Obama's Disastrous Keystone Pipeline Decision

Check out this excellent editorial by Dan Henninger of The Wall Street Journal regarding Obama's decision to delay building the Keystone pipeline. Apparently Obama is fine with unemployment in any industry relating to carbon production. This president's policies are job killers, pure and simple. As Henninger puts it, "Why should any blue-collar worker who isn't hooked for life to a public budget vote for Barack Obama next year?" Good question.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Herman Cain- Answer the question?

Is Herman Cain pro-life? That's difficult to say based on recent interviews. I personally have seen segments from three different interviews lately in which he is asked about his stance on abortion. He is quite clear on the fact that he supports life from conception. Wonderful so far. The problem comes when the interviewer asks him to state an opinion on whether or not abortion should be legal. Below is the segment in which John Stossell interviewed him on the subject.



Tonight on his show, Sean Hannity showed two other segments that followed the same lines: one on Piers Morgan's show and one on Megyn Kelly's. He asked Cain to clarify. Cain's response? He had been taken out of context. No clarification or statement of his views. Hannity unfortunately did not press the issue.

Cain gives the impression that he believes he is making himself crystal clear in responding to these questions. I could possibly excuse one instance as perhaps lack of experience at handling interviews or simply a gaffe, though that in itself points to other problems with Cain as a potential candidate in the general election. However at least three cases with essentially the same situation is inexcusable. I applaud the fact that Herman Cain is pro-life from conception, however he must also be able to articulate his official stance on abortion and whether it should be legal.

The following is posted prominently on the homepage of Cain's website:
Cain's View on Abortion Policy
"Yesterday in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, I was asked questions about abortion policy and the role of the President.

I understood the thrust of the question to ask whether that I, as president, would simply "order" people to not seek an abortion.

My answer was focused on the role of the President. The President has no constitutional authority to order any such action by anyone. That was the point I was trying to convey.

As to my political policy view on abortion, I am 100% pro-life. End of story.

I will appoint judges who understand the original intent of the Constitution. Judges who are committed to rule of law know that the Constitution contains no right to take the life of unborn children.

I will oppose government funding of abortion. I will veto any legislation that contains funds for Planned Parenthood. I will do everything that a President can do, consistent with his constitutional role, to advance the culture of life."

Herman Cain-


I don't think that I personally have a problem with the views Cain expressed in this statement. I do find it very disturbing that he had multiple chances recently to articulate his stance and he failed to do so. He wasted a chance on Hannity tonight when he could have made this explanation on a show that is watched by many members of the demographic from which he is hoping to receive votes. Herman Cain's stance on abortion is rare enough. It is extremely disappointing that he is unable to articulate it clearly when given the chance.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fundraising 2012

This post by a blogger named Matt Stiles is kind of interesting if you like statistics, as I do. It has maps that show where in the U.S. each presidential candidate is raising most of his or her cash. Not surprisingly, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul seem to have the broadest geographical fundraising base.

Tuesday Dinner With Paul Ryan!

So I don't have much information on this yet, but my wife and I just got a last-minute (free) invitation to a posh fundraising dinner in Washington, DC. The featured speakers? London Fletcher, Pro Bowl middle linebacker for the Washington Redskins, and Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. As a diehard Redskins fan and a big supporter of Paul Ryan's Roadmap plan to address entitlements and the long-term national debt, I couldn't be more excited about this opportunity!

There are few politicians that I would be more excited to hear speak than Paul Ryan. To me, Congressman Ryan is the epitome of what an elected official should be - courageous yet thoughtful, principled without being overly partisan, a policy wonk who is more concerned about long-term solutions than short-term political gain. He has been one of only a handful of politicians willing to tackle head on one of the biggest challenges to our country (Social Security and Medicare reform) with his Roadmap for the Future plan, and has taken a lot of cheap shots from both Democrats and Republicans focused on political expediency. Not to say Ryan's Roadmap is necessarily perfect, but it's a great starting point for debate. It would be nice if Ryan's opponents would come to the table with their own specific plans and a willingness to honestly discuss our country's urgent spending and debt crisis. For decades our politicians have been "kicking the can down the road" when comes to dealing with these long-term problems, which might be good for their careers but is terrible for the future of our country. I look forward to hearing what Congressman Ryan has to say on Tuesday and sharing it with you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jay Nordlinger Weighs In on Last Night's Debate

Jay Nordlinger's thoughts on last night's Republican presidential debate. Outstanding as always.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pay my tuition!

A budding young intellectual explains why the rich (dun...DUN...DUNNNNNNN! *thunderclap*) should pay for his college tuition.  (from National Review Online)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So There was a Presidential Primary Debate Last Night....

Some you have probably noticed that I haven't had much to say about the GOP primary race up to this point. The main reason for this is simple: I don't have a clear favorite in the race yet and I haven't had time to watch most of the debates. Tonight I got to watch about half of the Republican debate, which was aired only on the Bloomberg network. I watched small portions of the first hour during commercial breaks from NCIS (my wife's pick of what to watch!), and then watched the entirety of the second hour. Here are my impressions about the candidates based on the portion of the debate I watched. I deliberately did not read or listen to any other analyses of the debate before posting this, because I wanted to give my personal impressions without being influenced by the opinions of the pundits.

First, I did not think the debate was moderated impartially at all. The questioners grilled some of the candidates unmercifully while apparently giving a free pass to others. Perhaps if I had watched the entirety of the debate I would have a different perspective, but I doubt it. One of the questioners, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, seemed to "have it out" for Rick Perry. Twice during the debate she asked him "questions" that seemed to not be questions at all but simply statements attacking him. I did not observe similar treatment applied to any of the other candidates, and thought Romney in particular seemed to getting a real pass. I also thought the time was divided very unequally among the candidates. For example, Rick Santorum was barely given any time to speak at all during the entire second hour of the debate, which was very unfair. On the other hand, Mitt Romney seemed to talking all the time. And the candidate "introductions" shown on the network prior to the debate appeared to be simply intended as attacks on them. I only watched the first one relating to Rick Perry and then changed the channel. Bloomberg was literally running an attack ad against Perry and pretending it was news. Sad.

On to the candidates, starting with Mitt Romney. Every time I see Romney in a debate forum, I'm impressed with his poise and polish. He's a very smooth debater and comes across as very well-informed on the issues. I thought he deflected criticism well and gave some very intelligent responses, but I think that has less to do with his skill as a candidate and more to do with the weakness of his competitors. I continue to be bothered by his full-throated defense of RomneyCare, including his clear suggestion that candidates such as Perry who oppose it don't care about the plight of the poor. I thought that was a harsh and unfair attack -- something I would expect to hear from the Left but not between candidates in a GOP debate. (Of course, Perry did imply something similar about Romney with regard to illegal immigration policy in an earlier debate, but it wasn't as a harsh of an attack in my opinion.)

The bottom line is that I don't really like or trust Romney, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he is a Mormon. Romney comes across as a typically slick politician to me. He has flip-flopped on issues in the past and I don't trust his conservative credentials. He has refused to identify with the Tea Party movement. One of the things that disgusted me the most were his earlier vicious attacks on Rick Perry for stating the obvious truth that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Once again, this is the kind of political opportunism that I would expect from the Left -- and shows his willingness to put his own election before the good of the country. But as I watched the debate, I kept getting the sense that he is the only candidate (with the possible exception of Newt Gingrich who comes with his own set of problems) that is up to the herculean task of out-debating Obama in a general election.

I want to like Rick Perry. On paper he seems like a great choice: three times elected governor of the second-largest state in the country, an unabashed fiscal and social conservative, a likable, handsome guy who connects well with voters one-on-one. But he just doesn't seem up to the job, at least in the debate I watched (and based on what I read about other previous debates). Everyone from the moderators to the other candidates seemed to be piling on him, and he didn't seem able to fight back effectively. He did a poor job defending his record and didn't seem to land his blows against Romney. I think a lot of the attacks on Perry so far in this campaign have been very unfair, but that's the reality for anyone who wants to make a living in politics, especially a conservative. If he wants to get the GOP nomination for president he had better prove that he is knowledgeable enough and quick enough on his feet to fight back against those attacks and go on the offensive. He sure didn't prove that to me last night in the debate.

I have already written a positive post about Herman Cain, extolling his successful business background, his refreshing candor, and the work ethic that enabled him to work his way up from nothing. I didn't think Cain performed badly in the debate -- he displayed a great sense of humor and seemed confident in his answers. On the other hand, the debate did not include any questions about foreign policy which is Cain's greatest weakness. Maybe I have just been living too long in a suburban blue state enclave, but I think Cain comes across as a bit oversimplistic. His answers were repetitive and always seemed to come back to his 9/9/9 plan, which he touted as a virtual panacea for all economic ills. It would be easy for viewers to come to the conclusion (true or not) that Cain is a one-issue candidate that doesn't really have a lot to say beyond talking points about one specific economic idea. And by the way, I'm far from sold on Cain's idea to create a national sales tax.

For someone who has such a universal reputation outside the Republican base as a scary lunatic, Michele Bachmann actually performs pretty well in debates. As at other times, last night she seemed poised, intelligent, and relatively substantive, at least to me. Not to mention likable and far from crazy. And it's not like she's never accomplished anything in her life either -- her list of accomplishments include tax attorney, small business owner, foster mother of 23, state legislator, and U.S. congresswoman. It's a shame that the media is so unfair in their coverage that even many Republicans will only know her as the crazy Tea Party lady who's never done anything in her life. Still, there's no question she is about as conservative as you can get and probably too outspoken to be a winning general election candidate. I think she's a great leader in the U.S. House and should stay there.

Honestly, if I could pick my favorite candidate, regardless of his or her chance of winning the primary or the general election, I might pick Rick Santorum. Although he didn't get much air time last night, when he did speak he was effective. I thought he raised a great point about the danger of establishing a national sales tax in his question to Herman Cain. I also thought his answer on the topic of how to help people living under the poverty line was outstanding. He pointed out that one of the primary causes of poverty in the U.S. is the breakdown of the American family, noting that only 5% of children living with their married parents are under the poverty line. By contrast, a whopping 30% of children in single-parent homes live in poverty. Even in Republican circles, it's not very fashionable to talk about "family values," and I applaud Santorum for making this very important point. I also thought Santorum was most effective in challenging Ron Paul's somewhat wacky foreign policy views in a previous debate. I know that he is far behind in primary polls and is probably too outspoken about social issues to win a general election, but I am very glad that he is in the race and is willing to speak out on issues that the other candidates are too afraid to touch.

Newt Gingrich performed extremely well in the debate last night, in my opinion, which is consistent with his performance in other portions of debates I have seen. He has a solid grasp of domestic and foreign policy issues and definitely comes across as intelligent and confident. He seemed a bit less combative in regard to the moderators than he has been in the past, which was a good thing. Unfortunately, Gingrich's track record, both with regard to his personal life and his past political career, disqualifies him from being president in my opinion. I think he is a man with some severe moral failings and a good deal of arrogance who proved a poor leader the last time he was given a position of great authority, and I do not think he would perform well against Obama in a general election. However, I think he is a brilliant man who adds a lot to the debates, and I liked how he focused his fire on Obama last night and tried to unite the party by emphasizing that all the candidates on stage are much preferable to the Democratic alternative.

The debate last night was focused on economic issues, where I largely agree with Ron Paul, so I enjoyed listening to what he had to say and found myself mostly nodding my head. I think he, too, adds a lot to the debate and has a tremendous grasp of economics, but I could never vote for him. Among the shocking things I found about Ron Paul from previous debates, in addition to his extreme anti-war positions, his unwillingness to support Israel, and his belief that terrorists should be tried in civilian courts, are that he does not view Iran as a threat to the security of our country and that he does not believe that there should be any official recognition of marriage at any government level ("why do you even need a marriage license?"). The danger of Paul's benign view of Iran should be clear, now that we know that top government leaders of Iran recently plotted an assassination attempt on the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. right here in Washington, DC. I think Paul would make a good cabinet appointment to some purely financial/economic position, but he should never be president.

I saved Jon Huntsman for last because he is a candidate that I really don't like at all. He is generally acknowledged to be the most liberal candidate in the race, and the only one who has been outspoken in defending government regulation to help prevent man-made "climate change." Perhaps I could forgive some of his positions on issues if he didn't come across as such a snarky guy to me. One moment from last night's debate that made me truly angry was when Huntsman asked Romney a question. He started out by telling Romney he wasn't going to ask him about his religion (completely out of the blue -- no reason to even bring this up), then added as a sarcastic aside to Perry, "Sorry, Rick." I thought this was a really nasty dig, as to my knowledge Perry is not anti-Mormon and has not attempted to make Romney's Mormonism an issue in the campaign. He is not to blame if some of his supporters may dislike Romney's religion. It just reaffirmed the negative opinions I already had about Huntsman. Thankfully, he has no chance of winning the Republican nomination.

Perhaps this long post helps to clarify why I remain undecided about the GOP primary. Most of the candidates have strengths and weaknesses. Some of the candidates I like the best don't seem to be electable, and I don't trust some of the candidates that are supposedly the most electable and polished. I hope that the Republicans aren't pressured into coalescing around a single candidate too soon. I think that vigorous debate is what our party needs, and is the only way to ensure that we pick the best candidate to take on Obama next fall. The stakes for our country couldn't be higher.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sports!

As the subtitle of our blog says, this is "A Politics & Culture Blog."  Sports are a big part of our culture, inspiring metaphors in politics such as "hitting a speech out of the park".  Political metaphors are used in sports as well.  Remember a few years ago when the Detroit Lions "pulled a McCain" by going 0-16?  (OK, I made that one up.)  Let's talk sports!
  • With the continuing NBA lockout and the possibility of a cancelled NBA season, major US cities are bracing themselves for higher crime rates due to more NBA players out on the streets.  I have an idea.  Maybe we should give these guys something to do, say...playing basketball...around 12:00 AM when they might be getting into trouble with the law.  We could even allocate federal funds for it.  This is a brilliant idea!  Why has no one thought of this before?
  • The 4-0 Detroit Lions -- wait, 4-0? -- play against the Bears tonight.  I never thought I would say "4-0 Detroit Lions". 
  • The Tigers are losing the American League Championship Series two games to none against the Texas Rangers.  Go Tigers.

"Down With Evil Corporations"


The original photo is from the recent Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City. This version has been showing up around Facebook and the blogosphere.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thomas Sowell on the "Hunger Hoax"

Here is an interesting piece by Thomas Sowell on the "Hunger Hoax" (credit to Shawn Ritenour for pointing me to the article). Sowell sees it as a symptom of a bigger problem:
"An arrogant elite's condescension toward the people — treating them as children who have to be jollied along — is one of the poisonous problems of our time. It is at the heart of the nanny state and the promotion of a debilitating dependency that wins votes for politicians while weakening a society.

Those who see social problems as requiring high-minded people like themselves to come down from their Olympian heights to impose their superior wisdom on the rest of us, down in the valley, are behind such things as the hunger hoax, which is part of the larger poverty hoax."

I can see applications to the "childhood obesity epidemic" as well. We are all individuals and we all have the God-given ability to think for ourselves. To assume that the government must do something about peoples' problems, must help them to change their habits, the way they think, is demeaning. Some people may make poor decisions, but they are individuals with freedom and they should be allowed to make those choices for themselves. The role the government has taken in helping these people should belong to private charities only. They cannot force someone to change (though neither can the government), but if someone shows the inclination to change charities can help him to make a start and follow through.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Actually, I think they are more like Veruca Salt

Those of you who have jobs and lives might not know what's happening on Wall Street.  By "Wall Street", I mean the actual street, not a metaphor for big business.  Some young liberals got tired of the fluorescent lights in their parents' basement and went to New York City to protest the evils of capitalism...or something like that.
At a forum in Washington, D.C., today, Vice President Joe Biden compared the Wall Street protesters to the TEA party.  “There’s a lot in common with the tea party,” Biden said. “The tea party started why? TARP. They thought it was unfair we were bailing out the big guys.”  That's the extent of the similarities between the TEA party and the aimless protesters on Wall Street.  As Ann Coulter said, the TEA partiers have jobs, showers, and a point.  Also, the similarity that Biden pointed out is an overstatement.  Biden betrays his true thoughts by referring to the "big guys". 

For Democrats -- and Biden is no exception -- everything boils down to class warfare.  The Wall Street protesters on the left are no doubt angry that "fat cat" bankers got a bailout at the expense of the "working class".  On the other hand, the TEA party objects to bailouts on principle because it is unfair for the taxpayers to pay the price for somebody else's bad choices, whether that somebody is a "fat cat" banker or a homeowner who took out a bad loan.

The TEA party wants government to get out of the way so they can provide for themselves and their families.  The Wall Street protesters want the government to give them jobs.  And a pony.  Or at least a squirrel.

This says it all.  (Source: UPI.com)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Macaca Media

Michelle Malkin ably demonstrates the complete baselessness of the recent charges of racism against Texas Governor Rick Perry in this article. Like Malkin, I have not been overly impressed with Perry so far, but The Washington Post's "reporting" about him is inexcusable. Not that I'm surprised. This is what The Washington Post does to everyone they don't like. I am still angry about the dishonest reporting they did about late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart and the Summer of Mercy event in Germantown, MD. In 2009, they ran about 20 front page "news stories" about some thesis that the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, Robert McDonnell, had written more than 10 years earlier that supposedly provided evidence that he was "sexist." In 2006, they ran about 20 front page "news stories" about a word that Republican Virginia Senator George Allen used against a heckler on the campaign trail. Most people had never heard of this word, but apparently the experts at The Post determined that it was a little-known racial slur and therefore provided proof positive that Allen was an evil racist! They didn't even bother to put their dozens of discrediting articles in the editorial section. When it comes to The Washington Post, the front page IS the editorial section. The whole point of their paper is to cheerlead for candidates they like and to smear candidates they don't like. If you are a conservative and you choose to fund this enterprise with your subscribing dollars, you share some of the blame, in my opinion.

And don't even get me started on the charge of "racism." With few exceptions, when a candidate is accused of "racism" by the media, it simply means that the media wishes to discredit them to ensure they do not get elected. Any conservative politician, reporter, or pundit worth his salt has been labeled a racist more than once. If they are smart, they will wear it as a badge of honor. It proves that they are a threat to the Left and need to be silenced.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Anti-democratic democrats: an inadvertent moment of honesty

Bev Perdue, Democrat governor of North Carolina, recently suggested that her state should suspend elections in order to get more accomplished in government.  (She later said that her comments were sarcastic and a joke, which are dubious claims, given the tone of her voice and the notable absence of laughter from the audience.)  Gov. Perdue has revealed what we all know about liberals: they think they are smarter than all the rest of us dumb rubes and should control every aspect of our lives.  Here's what the always-brilliant Andrew Klavan has to say:  http://pajamasmedia.com/andrewklavan/2011/10/03/the-left-vs-democracy-appalling-but-not-surprising/

Field Guide to the Presidential Candidates

This opinion piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch is one of the funniest pieces of political commentary I have read in a long time!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Wall Street Journal Takes a Look at Herman Cain

I found this opinion piece by Dan Henninger in The Wall Street Journal to be an interesting read. Henninger's basic point is that Herman Cain is a substantive candidate with an impressive resume and deserves serious consideration. It was a little surprising to me to read this in the WSJ and the many favorable comments in response by WSJ subscribers, since Cain has been pigeonholed as a Tea Party candidate and not someone who would be supported by establishment conservatives. I admit that I was one of those people who initially wrote Cain off as not smooth enough to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, but I am starting to rethink that decision partially due to this WSJ editorial and due to Dennis Miller's endorsement of Cain on The O'Reilly Factor.

To my mind, Cain is the polar opposite of Obama. (And the more I see of Obama, the more attractive that is to me!) Obama is all show and no substance. Cain is all substance and no show. Obama has spent his relatively short life hobnobbing with the elites at Ivy League institutions and running for political office; Cain has spent his life in the private sector creating jobs, solving problems, and managing businesses. Obama was born in Hawaii, attended the most prestigious private colleges, and appears to have spent most of his life on the fast track to success, yet seems to nurse personal grievances against the U.S. Cain was born in the racially segregated Old South and literally worked his way from the bottom to the top through perseverance and determination, yet demonstrates an attitude of love and appreciation for our country.

There is no doubt in my mind that Cain would be a good president, and would probably be a tremendous breath of fresh air in Washington. The fact that he is not a career politician is a good thing in my book. He understands business and knows how to create jobs. He appears to be a man of great personal integrity and responsibility who knows how to work hard, motivate people, and solve problems.

My biggest concern is whether he would be able to get elected in the first place. In a country where people seem to base their voting decisions on 30-second soundbites, looks, elite connections, and the ability to talk smoothly and give a nice-sounding speech, will the blunt-talking, gaffe-prone Cain be able to catch on? I certainly expect a lot of mistakes on the campaign trail from someone who has never held political office before, and it gives me some pause. But, at this point, less pause than I have about voting for Romney or Paul or Perry or Bachmann or Huntsman.

One interesting thing that may work in Cain's favor in getting elected is the fact that he is black. The very fact that Cain is in the race as a Tea Party favorite demonstrates the utter ridiculousness of the popular leftist smear that conservatives -- and the Tea Party in particular -- are racist, but if he were to win the nomination it would make that smear seem all the more ridiculous to the American public. Certainly Obama would not be able to take the black vote for granted in a general election against Herman Cain, and while doubtless Democrats would continue to play the race card as they always do, Cain's presence in the race might make it that much harder for them to do it successfully. And if the media uses nasty, personal, race-baiting attacks against Cain the way they have done in the past against black conservatives, will the black community accept that lying down? I don't know, but it would be interesting to find out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nobody Makes Fun of Obama...

..better than Andrew Malcolm of The Los Angeles Times. Check out his blistering commentary on Obama's "urgent jobs plan" here.

A Couple Great Articles...

I found a couple of really great British opinion pieces today, courtesy of Jay Nordlinger of National Review. Both articles are in response to an amendment brought before Parliament that would have required that women considering an abortion receive counseling from a group separate from the group performing the abortion. This seemingly reasonable requirement, which has been influential in reducing abortion rates in Germany, was met with vitriol from the powers that be in Britain -- the same vitriol that we have come to expect here in America in response to even the most basic, commonsense regulations or restrictions on abortion. The first piece is by Mary Wakefield of The Spectator, and is one of the best articles I have ever read on the topic of abortion. I highly recommend it. The second is from The Telegraph, and while not as comprehensive as the first it makes some very good points. Among them is this:

In fact abortion is one of those “Left-wing” things that should be a Right-wing thing. After all, you’re far more likely to be aborted if you’re black, poor, disabled or female – the demographics of aborted foetus would give diversity consultants goosepimples if their protected characteristics were visible. And for people obsessed with equality, you don’t get a bigger inequality than life and death.

The second article also addresses the claim that the pro-life movement is merely a fringe religious movement by noting that opposition to slavery also started out as a religious movement:

The pro-life movement does remain strongly religious, which is a weakness, but it does not necessarily mean it is irrational or “unscientific”. Moral campaigns are often dominated by religious groups; once only tiresome weirdo Quakers opposed the natural and universally accepted institution of slavery. We might all now assume slavery is wrong, but to 18th century people it was not obvious.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Peter Schiff Testimony Before the House

Here are a couple excellent videos of excerpts from Peter Schiff's testimony and answering questions before the House committee on the jobs bill and the economy.

Here is the text of his testimony entitled "How the Government Can Create Jobs." If more politicians and inviduals were listening to this well-reasoned and intelligent businessman and others like him we would not be in the mess we are today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why make a case against conservative views when you can simply misrepresent them?

Liberals excel at slaying strawmen, creating false dichotomies, and generally misrepresenting the views of conservatives.  They also like to create absurd, unrealistic scenarios that would make it seem unconscionable to hold conservative views.  I see this phenomenon often in the comments sections on Pajamas Media and National Review Online.  One common argument of Internet-dwelling liberals is that conservatives want a libertarian paradise like war-torn Liberia or Somalia.  And of course, who can forget the frequent and passionate pleas on behalf of all those women who are pregnant after being raped and want to have an abortion?  (Proponents of abortion don't talk as often about the remainder of abortions, most of which are performed just because somebody doesn't want to have a baby.  See "Why women have abortions".)

Now, I wish to present Exhibit C.  Check out this totally unbiased article on Yahoo about a Republican debate, titled "Audience at tea party debate cheers leaving uninsured to die".  During the debate, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul about a hypothetical, uninsured, comatose man and whether he should be left to die.  Immediately after this, a few people in the audience shouted, "Yeah!"  Personally, I think this outburst was a sarcastic response to a stupid question.  The unspoken false dichotomy is that you either have to support Obamacare in its entirety or you want poor people to die.  (And you probably hate puppies, too, you bastard.)  For all I hear about how nuanced, sophisticated, and intelligent liberals are, they sure aren't very good at making distinctions. 

I sincerely doubt that the good and generous people of the United States (and by "people", I mean conservatives) would let our hypothetical man die.  Blitzer's silly false dichotomy is nothing but an attempt to make conservative views of limited government and personal freedom seem unconscionable and ridiculous.  Harrumph!  Harrumph, I say!  End rant.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I kind of like this idea...

Some bar owners in Michigan are angry about being forbidden to allow smoking in their privately-owned bars (you know...the buildings that they paid for with their own money and which customers enter of their own free will) and have banned lawmakers from the premises.  (By the way, casinos are exempt from the Michigan smoking ban.  Hmmmm...)  Now if we could find a way to ban Democrats from the U.S. Capitol...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Must-see: "Fight For The Children" official video

Natedawg posted in July about a song by the group Christcentric called "Fight For The Children."

While the song and lyrics themselves are powerful, the group has just released an official video that perfectly complements and enhances it. I strongly encourage you to view it. I teared up watching it.

Official Christcentric Video- "Fight For The Children" from Christcentric on Vimeo.


If you can't catch all the lyrics, you can read them here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fighting Back Against Obama's Job-Killing Policies

As the economy continues to flounder, I continue to hear Obama and his administration deny any responsibility whatsoever for the terrible economic conditions. He and his people continue to tout their "job proposals" and take credit for supposedly turning things around and saving us from a depression. The truth is, Obama's job-killing policies are directly responsible for the economic mess we are in today. The new taxes and regulations his administration has pushed for are toxic to private sector job growth and have stunted what should have been a normal recovery from the 2008-2009 recession.

The two most pressing political problems facing our country right now are the poor economy and the ballooning national debt. These issues are not unrelated, as the deficit grows much more quickly in a sluggish economy. Obama has failed miserably on both counts. He has made no effort whatsoever to address entitlement reform or to push for serious debt reduction and spending cuts. After all, attacking the GOP plan for wanting to throw granny out on the street is much easier than bothering to present your own plan! Under his "leadership," our country has lost its AAA bond rating -- a well-deserved downgrade. He has pushed for tax increases, played political games with the debt ceiling, masterminded huge stimulus bills full of waste and corruption, and pushed through a health care bill that puts a tremendous financial and regulatory burden on employers. Under the "leadership" of his crony Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate went for years without passing a budget (one of the most basic duties given to Congress is to pass a budget annually).

Most of the above items should be common knowledge to people with a passing familiarity with politics and current events. What is not common knowledge to many people, I fear, are the many job-killing regulations that Obama's administration is putting into place behind the scenes. Many of Obama's top administration officials are "czars" who were never confirmed by Congress to begin with and have a free hand to reshape our country's regulatory policies in a radical direction. I highly recommend reading this article in National Review, which highlights 10 of the worst Obama economic policies and what Republicans in Congress are trying to do to stop these policies from taking effect. The Wall Street Journal is another great source for understanding why Obama's policies are hurting our economy so much.

It is vital for Obama to be defeated in 2012. But in order for that to happen, people need to know just how destructive his policies have been to our country economically. They need to know that he isn't just unlucky; there is a direct link between his policies and our current problems. I would encourage you to take the opportunity to bring up some of the facts from the article linked to above next time you are in a conversation with someone about the economy. By educating ourselves and others about how the economy works and what policies create jobs and what policies kill jobs, we can make a difference for our country. If our country is going to have a future of freedom and prosperity, we MUST get someone in the White House with fiscal sanity who understands how a free market economy works.

On a somewhat related note, National Review published a great article last week discussing the issue of global warming. The myth of man-made global warming, or "climate change" as it is now officially designated, has become a political club in the hands of power-hungry politicians. It is the basis for myriad anti-growth economic policies that are contributing to our national joblessness, including several of the ones mentioned in the previous article. I recommend this article as a relatively concise summary of the problems with the "science" behind Obama's global warming policies.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Heh heh

Earlier this year sometime, the College Democrats of America released a video of some college students giving reasons why they are Democrats.  I found a parody of it.  My favorite line: "Because through government, we can do things that we can't do as individuals...like take other people's money."  Zing!

Original video:

The new and improved parody...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer of Mercy Recap

First...please watch the video of Kelly Stauffer's testimony about her abortion when she was 14 years old. It is found in the previous post and since I posted it just before this one, I don't want it to be overlooked! It is one of the most emotionally powerful statements I've ever heard.

I wanted to give you a recap of the amazing week we have had at Summer of Mercy 2.0! The week-long event kicked off last Saturday evening with a rally at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. There were a number of powerful speakers, including Wendy Wright, former president of Concerned Women of America, and Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. (If you have the time and inclination, I would highly recommend checking out Father Pavone's 30-minute speech here.) But by far the highlight of the evening was the extraordinary testimony from a Philadelphia woman named Keisha, who showed up at Carhart's clinic to have a late-term abortion but changed her mind and decided to keep her baby after talking to Dr. Grace Morrison and several other caring women standing outside the clinic that morning. Dr. Morrison and other pro-life activists have provided a great deal of assistance to Keisha -- both financial help and pre-natal care -- and Keisha is now the proud mother of a new baby girl named Kayden. Keisha was hoping to be in attendance that evening, but the recent birth of her daughter prevented that, so a video presenting her story was shown on the big screen instead. A smiling Keisha had nothing but gratitude for the "beautiful people" who helped to save her daughter's life. (You can find the video of her story by clicking on the Summer of Mercy video page here and scrolling down to the first link under the heading "July 30th- Opening Rally.")

Unfortunately, my wife and I were unable to attend the the Sunday evening Youth Rally, but among the attractions that evening were a live ultrasound shown on the big screen and a live performance by Christcentric (a hip-hop group whose members attend my church) of their new song "Fight For the Children." (See the video of their performance here.)

Throughout the week, Summer of Mercy participants kept daily vigils outside of the clinic at 8:00 am, 12:00 noon, and 7:00 pm. The Monday morning and Friday evening crowds were sizable, exceeding 300 people. One of the exciting stories of the week was Leroy Carhart's decision to shut down the clinic for the week due to the Summer of Mercy protests. My pastor, Charlie Baile, gave an impassioned speech at the Friday evening vigil, which was followed by pizza and fellowship outside the clinic. (See the video of Pastor Charlie's talk here.)

Throughout the week, every effort was made to keep the protests as peaceful and prayerful as possible. Each meeting was begun on our knees in prayer. There were no shouting, graphic signs, or angry slogans. The protests showed a remarkable unity across denominational lines, with Catholic, Presbyterian, Bible, Episcopal, Sovereign Grace, and non-denominational churches all taking an active part. Operation Rescue, which has been involved in the Summer of Mercy, stated on their website that about 3/4 of the people involved in the Summer of Mercy event were area residents who had never before participated in a pro-life street rally. (Operation Rescue's website also has lots of photos and further details about the events of the past week.) We had some success in outreach to those in the immediate community. The owner of a local ice cream shop in close proximity to the clinic at first expressed anger and told us to stay away from his property, but when someone from the Summer of Mercy talked to him personally and explained what Carhart was doing, he changed his tune dramatically and even offered to let us use his shop's bathroom during our vigils! He also kept his shop open late each evening so we could buy ice cream after our evening protests. Other local business owners expressed support for what we were doing, offering to sign our petition to the Maryland Board of Physicians to shut down Carhart's clinic and even participating in the protests! One of my friends also had the opportunity to speak to some of the security guards patrolling the area and explain to them why we were there. The Montgomery County Police Department did a great job assisting us and making sure we caused as little disruption of traffic as possible. Overall, I felt our group maintained a great witness to the community.

The pro-choice crowd was also staging a counter-protest called "Summer of Choice" this past week, but their numbers were paltry in comparison with ours (at least every event I attended). I saw a few pro-choice activists on the other side of the street holding signs now and then, but that was about it. More creepily, groups of three or four of them would walk up to us when we were praying and videotape us or write down notes about us on a notepad. We were under strict instructions not to engage them in any way and to avoid shouting back (or giving any response whatsoever other than a smile) if they shouted at us, but it was never an issue at any meeting I attended during the week.

One of the final events of the week was the "Cross 4 Life" event. All of us showed up outside the clinic at 2:00 this afternoon, wearing red shirts and holding red pieces of paper saying "Prayer for the Protection of Life." We then spread out from the clinic and covered two major streets, standing in the form of a giant cross with each local church covering a different section of road. It was so exciting to see such a huge tide of red shirts -- I'm not very good at estimating the size of large crowds, but I would guess anywhere from 600 to 1,000 people were there. The road I was standing on -- Route 118 Germantown Road -- is one of the biggest arteries through Germantown, which is now the largest city in Montgomery County. So there is no question that we were forcing people to take notice. Best of all, a friend of the pro-life movement who owns a small plane agreed to fly over the area during the rally to take aerial photos of the Cross 4 Life. I am excited to see them and will certainly post them on here when they come out. At the end of the event, it started pouring down rain and we all got soaked, but I saw nothing but smiles on everyone's faces!

Please continue to pray! The Summer of Mercy events may be coming to an end, but our work here in Germantown is not done as long as Carhart's clinic stays open. After being closed for the week, Carhart's clinic is re-opening tonight and the killing of babies resumes tonight and tomorrow. We continue to maintain a pro-life presence outside of the clinic tonight and are hoping for a large turnout tomorrow morning again. Pray for Carhart and his staff, for the women who are going in to have abortions and for those who have already had abortions, for those taking a public stand for life outside of the clinic, for local pregnancy centers that provide hope and alternatives for women who need help. Most of all pray for God to change people's hearts and open their minds to see the evil of abortion, especially the late-term variety that Carhart performs.

And please sign the online petition to revoke Carhart's medical license in Maryland! I would encourage everyone to sign, but especially people who live in Maryland. The online petition is only showing a small number of signatures at the moment, but hundreds of people attending the rally have signed in person so the total number of signatures is much higher than what is showing on the website right now.

Must-See Video From Summer of Mercy 2.0!

Kelly Stauffer - Summer of Mercy 2.0 from Michael Martelli on Vimeo.



Please check out this amazing video testimony from Kelly Stauffer, speaking at the Summer of Mercy rally outside Carhart's clinic in Germantown, MD on Friday evening. Kelly had a 3rd-trimester abortion when she was 14 years old. She vividly describes the horror of feeling her unborn child kicking and somersaulting inside her womb and then feeling the child go still after the lethal dose was injected into her stomach. She describes the sick feeling she had going back to her hotel that night knowing she was carrying a dead baby -- a baby she was responsible for killing. She recounts the coldness and indifference of the abortion clinic staff as she delivered her dead baby over a toilet in a janitor's closet. She recounts the deep guilt and depression she experienced over the next decade of her life, including suicidal tendencies and bulimia. Finally, she tells the story of how she came to experience God's forgiveness through attending a Catholic retreat for women struggling with post-abortive depression. She is now happily married with a 18-month-old daughter and is an outspoken advocate for the rights of the unborn. This honest, courageous, and humble woman has one of the most emotionally powerful stories you will ever hear!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Washington Post Slanders Pro-Life Activists

Well, the Summer of Mercy has reached the ears of The Washington Post. They have weighed in with two recent "news stories" about Carhart and the Germantown protests -- two laughably biased reports filled with deceptions and inaccuracies. The most recent contribution of the paper to the Germantown late-term abortion debate is this July 31st gem entitled "Abortion Is Topic of Dueling Protests in MD." This ostensibly innocent news report is a textbook example about how the press distorts the facts and manipulates public opinion under the pretense of objective reporting.

The astute reader will notice that the report identifies the number of pro-choice demonstrators as "around 180" but makes no mention of the number of pro-life demonstrators, presumably an attempt to marginalize the pro-life opposition to Carhart. In fact, attendance at the first pro-life rally outside of the clinic on Monday morning was significantly higher than 180 -- I attended it and am confident there were at least 300 people there. The opening rally of the Summer of Mercy at Covenant Life Church had probably twice that number. Also, participants in the "Summer of Choice" are positively described as "pro-choice" and "supporters" of local physician Leroy Carhart. By contrast, participants in the "Summer of Mercy" are never positively referred to as "pro-life" or "supporters of life," only as "abortion foes" or "antiabortion demonstrators."

It only gets worse from there. The article does everything possible to discredit Keisha, the Philadelphia woman scheduled to have a late-term abortion at Carhart's clinic but who chose to keep her baby instead after talking with some pro-life activists outside of the clinic. The author quotes Carhart as saying that Keisha was a "plant" by "antiabortion forces" and leaves the accusation hanging without further comment. Is it too difficult for a paper with the resources of The Washington Post to do a little simple investigation to verify Keisha's story and determine whether or not Carhart is lying? Apparently so. But in the meantime the author subtly pushes this angle, noting sinisterly that the woman "identified herself only by her first name," as though her wish to preserve some level of privacy for herself and her family disproves her claims. (Any other time, The Post would be trumpeting the importance of preserving a woman's right to privacy to the ends of the earth!)

No mention is made of the fact that Keisha was all smiles in the video interview as she held her newborn baby and that she expressed thanks to the pro-life women outside of the clinic for the help they offered her, mentioning two specific women by name who had befriended her. She and her boyfriend referred to the pro-life activists as "beautiful people" with "good hearts" who made them "feel comfortable." No mention is made of the fact that pro-life activists referred her to organizations in Philadelphia who provided her with free pre-natal care and resources, continued to stay in touch with her up to the present day, and raised more than $1,100 to help with her financial needs at their opening night rally (which I attended). Of course, those details would not be helpful in furthering The Post's desired narrative, so the article merely makes the curt comment that "abortion foes" "talked her out of" having her abortion. As though a group of fast-talking activists manipulated her into a rash decision.

The article repeats a blatantly false claim originally found in a fawning profile the newspaper did of Carhart a week earlier: the claim that "all of the late-term abortions Carhart has done in Germantown have involved fetuses with abnormalities." Keisha specifically stated in her video that Carhart said nothing to her about any "fetal abnormalities" prior to her scheduled abortion -- her reason for the abortion had nothing to do with any actual or perceived health problems with the baby. This example alone disproves Carhart's ridiculous claim -- and not only does the article fail to mention this very important point that Keisha's baby was perfectly healthy and normal, but it twists Keisha's words in order to mislead its readers into thinking the opposite. Completely out of context, it quotes Keisha as saying "I just thank God that I had a healthy daughter," as though this occurrence was a source of unexpected relief for her!

Further belying Carhart's claim is the pro-life activist who helped Keisha choose life, Dr. Grace Morrison. She has been standing outside the clinic every week since Carhart came to Germantown in December, and said that out of the 27 women going into Carhart's clinic for abortions that she has spoken to over the past six months, only 1 of those 27 had an unborn baby with "abnormalities." In two articles in a row, The Post chose to take Carhart's claim at face value without doing even the most basic investigation into it or bothering to present any of the opposing evidence.

After discussing Keisha, the article seizes another opportune moment to caricature the pro-life activists, using a quote from Carhart to claim that they were "subjecting" the patients to "harassment." If these activists are so threatening, then why would Keisha even have stopped to talk with them in the first place, much less have been swayed by their advice? In fact, Dr. Morrison said that since Carhart's arrival in Germantown, 13 women have chosen not to go forward with scheduled abortions, at least temporarily, after conversations with pro-lifers outside of the clinic! If these activists were the hateful, angry people The Post claims, then why would any of these women have given them the time of day?

But the most disgraceful and inexcusable slander in the article comes near the end, when the author writes, "Because he [Carhart] wants to expand services, he has become a top focus of antiabortion groups. His friend and mentor, Kansas doctor George Tiller, was fatally shot by an abortion opponent in 2009." In two simple sentences, the author presents a close link between the activists peacefully protesting outside Carhart's clinic and a crazed madman who killed another abortionist two years ago in a state thousands of miles away. Tiller's murder was an evil act committed by a rogue killer that was strongly condemned by every pro-life group in the country, including the ones involved in the Summer of Mercy. That murder flew in the face of everything the pro-life movement stands for. We believe life is precious and should be protected. I have attended numerous pro-life rallies in the Germantown area over the past few months, and I have not witnessed a single expression of hatred or violence against Carhart or pro-choice activists. Over and over again, I have heard pro-life leaders pray for Carhart and plead that God would give him a change of heart. I have not heard any vicious personal attacks or expressions of hatred against him. Over and over again, I have heard it emphasized that our protests must be peaceful and demonstrate love and compassion. Both 40 Days for Life and the Summer of Mercy banned the use of signs with graphic images and encouraged us not to respond when heckled by pro-choice activists. At a rally a few months ago, we were interrupted by loud, disruptive chants by pro-choice activists claiming we "don't care if women die." We responded by spontaneously singing "Amazing Grace." Our pro-life protests are legally and constitutionally protected and have been conducted under the watchful eye of the Montgomery County Police Department. There is no link whatsoever between any of the groups currently involved these protests and the murder of George Tiller in Kansas, and there is absolutely no reason for the author to make this false association in his news story except raw prejudice against the pro-life position.

The story about Carhart that I linked to above is just as flagrant an example of propaganda. The author, Lena Sun, writes so glowingly of Carhart one might suppose she has an actual crush on him. He is described as a "grandfather and retired Air Force surgeon general" who "speaks softly" in an "understated manner." His "voice is weary" after a long, hard day of serving patients, but he remains "committed" to his important work. Unlike most abortionists who refuse to perform late-term abortions, Carhart is a brave man who doesn't care about "social stigma." (Insert the obligatory reference to the killing of George Tiller in Kansas and the association of the entire pro-life movement with his murder.) Many other doctors look up to him and "have asked to train with him." Despite persecution from those evil pro-life activists, Carhart's "tenacity" led him to work as an abortionist full time despite living in constant fear for his safety and his life. Still, their viciousness has created a stigma which makes him and other abortionists often feel "isolated," fearful of being "targeted by protestors." Often "you feel like you're alone in the world," quoth the good doctor, whose other interests include "adoption counseling" and pap smears for gay and transgendered people. (Insert obligatory reference to how he ONLY does late-term abortions "if the medical situation warrants.") Indeed, from this article it would be hard to understand how such an All-American Grandfather and All Around Good Guy could be considered remotely controversial, much less how he manages to attract hundreds of protestors outside his clinic week after week.

In fact there are some reasons why Carhart is controversial, although you'll never find out about them from reading The Washington Post. This pdf document from the http://kickoutcarhart.com/ website summarizes much of this information. Let's start with the fact that Carhart is under investigation by the Maryland Board of Physicians for making some very specific false claims on his application to practice in the state. He claimed he was an emergency room physician, but he hasn't had hospital rights in nearly 25 years! He also claimed he was a university professor even though this information too was more than a decade out-of-date, and omitted more than a decade of pertinent information related to his controversial practice of late-term abortions in Nebraska and Kansas. He is under criminal investigation back in his home state of Nebraska, based on sworn testimony by former employees of illegal activities occurring in his clinic. This testimony includes claims of "unlicensed employees... conducting medical tasks, illegal post-viability abortions, drug violations, financial malfeasance," the use of unsterilized and unclean medical instruments, and the failure of Carhart to follow even the most basic rules of personal hygience such as washing his hands between patients. After his Nebraska clinic partially burned, apparently due to unsafe storage practices, he tried to continue to perform abortions using a generator and extension cord until government authorities shut him down! Worst of all, in January 2005, a 19-year old girl with Down syndrome named Christin Gilbert died as a result of a botched 3rd-trimester abortion. Gilbert's death resulted from an infection that could have been avoided if she had received proper care. More information on this can be found here.

Let's cut to the chase. What does Carhart actually do that is so controversial? Well, he performs a nice humane procedure known as "Dilation and Evacuation" that involves sticking a needle into a woman's belly to inject poison into the "fetus." The woman goes back home for two days to wait for the "fetus" to die. Then she returns to the clinic, where the abortionist uses forceps to remove the arms and legs of the "fetus." Then the tiny skull of the "fetus" is collapsed so it can be easily removed. Finally the remaining remnants are suctioned out of the uterus. If the "fetus" is older, sometimes it will be delivered whole into a toilet rather than being dismembered. Carhart routinely does this procedure in the third trimester, and legally he can do it in Maryland up until the ninth month of pregnancy, long past the point of viability. Sometimes the "fetus" is still alive at the time the abortionist begins the pleasant process of dismemberment, and there is abundant evidence it can feel pain. Much more information about this, including photos, diagrams, and descriptions, can be found here. Fellow late-term abortionist Martin Haskell testified in court: "Typically when the abortion procedure is started we typically know that the fetus is still alive because either we can feel it move as we're making our initial grasps or if we're using some ultrasound visualization when we actually see a heartbeat as we're starting the procedure." He goes on to say that often the "fetus's" limbs are removed while the "fetus" is still alive. Carhart himself testified back in 2004 that frequently in the process of performing these late-term abortions the "fetus" was delivered whole and alive, but added that he thought "removing the brain contents eventually would [kill the baby]." Well, thank goodness for that.

As you can see, there are a lot of relevant facts about Dr. Carhart's history and abortion practices that paint a slightly different picture than The Washington Post profile of a kindly, soft-spoken grandfather who just wants to help women. It is disheartening for those of us fighting so hard against Carhart's brutal late-term abortion practice to read such biased reporting from the most influential media outlet in the area. With news organizations like The Washington Post shaping public opinion, it is hard to believe that anyone is willing to identify as pro-life.

I suppose all those pro-choice activists carrying signs saying "Dr. Carhart is my hero" and "We love Dr. Carhart" are perfectly within their legal rights. But what kind of a sick, twisted individual would choose a man like this to be his or her hero? The pro-choice community hides behind euphemisms and vague language like "women's rights," "choice," and "reproductive services." The thing they want to avoid at all costs is any description of what is actually happening in abortion. The truth is our greatest weapon, and their greatest enemy. And so we fight on, until the whole world knows the real truth about "late-term abortions," until justice is really administered in this country for ALL.