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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't We Have Bigger Things to Focus On?

I was listening to the radio driving home from work yesterday, listening to the Jeff Kuhner show (which I generally like). Kuhner was playing excerpts from Obama's interview with Brian Williams over the weekend in which he said, "I can't walk around with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead." Granted, it was certainly a stupid thing to say, and a news story to be sure. But then Kuhner went on to say that since the President had brought up the topic he (Kuhner) wanted to discuss it, and asked his listeners to call in and say whether they thought Obama was born in the U.S. or not.

This discussion somehow morphed into an attack on Obama for ordering some lobster dish at a restaurant in New Orleans (lobster is the one major type of seafood not caught in Gulf waters) and further attacks on Obama's habit of "stuffing his face" with the finest dishes at the finest restaurants. It reminded me very much of something I heard on a different radio show last week. The guest host on Mark Levin's program was lambasting Obama for refusing to answer a question about the Iraq War shouted to him by a reporter on his vacation while he and his family were buying shrimp at a seafood market. The host was railing at Obama for being more concerned about "stuffing his face" than the big issue of our men and women fighting and dying in Iraq, and said that this moment should be a rallying cry for the upcoming elections.

Come on. I have been as critical of Obama as anyone, but over-the-top commentary like what I described above is not doing the conservative cause any favors. I have heard more than enough about the birth certificate issue. I am well aware that Obama has not released the official long form of his birth certificate, but there is plenty of evidence that he was born in the U.S. Obama may well be covering up something from his past by refusing to release any of his records and transcripts, but we have no idea what it is and speculation is useless. Continuing to talk about this is playing right into Obama's hands (and maybe even what he intended by making that statement). He would much rather conservatives look extreme by continuing to go round and round about an old, stale issue that is not news, rather than talking about the real issues like the economy, unemployment, illegal immigration, Iraq, Iran, health care, cap and trade, government spending, the deficit, etc.

I honestly don't think most Americans care whether Obama ordered shrimp or lobster during his recent trip to New Orleans. So what if Obama likes to "stuff his face"? So do I! I do think the president's vacation schedule and golfing outings have been excessive and overly luxurious, given the current economic times, but that is not what he was being attacked about. He was being attacked specifically for what he ate and how much he ate, and I think that's stupid. And with regard to Obama ignoring the question about the Iraq War -- well, frankly, if I had been in his shoes I would probably have ignored the question too. Any public figure, including the President, is going to be peppered with questions from reporters when he goes out in public, and he has every right to ignore them. This wasn't a press conference. He is under no obligation to answer a question shouted at him as he walks by, and it certainly wasn't the time for an explanation of the intricacies of our Iraqi military presence.

Here's my point in all this: as conservatives, let's be smart in our criticism of Obama. Obama has failed as a leader on many big, important issues. Ignoring a reporter's question on his vacation and eating lobster in New Orleans are not among those failures. We didn't like it when the press unfairly hammered Bush over every little stinkin' thing; let's not do that to Obama either. These kinds of nitpicking criticisms make us look small, petty, and hateful. I have been very harsh in my attacks on Obama on this blog, but I have always tried to keep those attacks substantive and focused on the important issues. (If at any point I fail to this, I hope you, my readers, will correct me.) If his behavior demonstrates arrogance or shows a lack of leadership and integrity (as I believe it has), then that is a legitimate and fair personal criticism. But our goal as conservatives should not be to personally destroy Obama; our goal should be to defeat him in this election and in 2012 by articulating a clear and positive vision for our country in line with the principles of our founders and our Constitution.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"Seventy Percent of Americans Know They've Been Conned"

My regular readers are probably noticing a theme of late in my posts. The Washington political & media elites are badly out of touch with the majority of the American people. Americans are sick of being lectured about everything from the Ground Zero mosque to gay marriage to the Arizona immigration law to health care reform, and they are going to show up in November and let their voice be heard. We saw a foretaste of this in the huge crowd that showed up over the weekend on the National Mall to hear Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, among others, speak. Hugh Hewitt expresses this frustration of ordinary Americans very well in his column today in the Washington Examiner on this topic. Check it out here.

Over the past week or two, I have become increasingly optimistic about Republicans' prospects in the upcoming midterm elections. The Ground Zero mosque has provided yet another indication of how out-of-touch Obama & Pelosi are with the public. The economy is not getting better -- if anything it's getting worse. The health care bill is as unpopular as ever. Polling for the Democrats is simply awful. Even many Democratic strategists privately concede the House is lost, and the Senate majority could also be in jeopardy. I increasingly think the Democrats are headed for a virtually unprecedented shellacking at the polls. Increasingly, 35-40 House seats seems to be the floor, and the ceiling may be 60 or 70 seats or even more. And it is becoming easier and easier to see a clear path to 10 Senate seats.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More on the Mosque and America's View of Islam

After I wrote my last post about the Left's strategy of impugning the motives of their opponents, I read this article by Dennis Prager. Prager makes exactly the same point I was making, only much more effectively and eloquently. If I had known about it before, I could have just linked to his article and saved myself the trouble....

Also, I found an excellent post on the blog Ace of Spades yesterday that I thought was well worth reading. Basically, the poster argues that Americans' attitudes toward Islam have shown a pattern that is exactly the opposite of what we would expect if we assume the American population is Islamophobic, as the media claims. Emotion-driven bigotry would result in negative views of Islam skyrocketing immediately after 9/11, then dying down, then skyrocketing again in response to the Ground Zero mosque. But that is not the trend that we see from Gallup's polling. On the contrary, the percentage of Americans who believe that Islam is very different from their own religion has gradually but steadily increased from around 20% in November 2001 to around 50% in 2007. This is not evidence of an irrational hatred. The poster's explanation for why Americans have soured on Islam is fantastic -- instead of quoting it here I will just direct you to read the entire post here. His conclusion: "The MSM [mainstream media] likes to portray this all as uninformed hate and fear of the other. But maybe Americans took a good long look at Islam and decided they didn’t like what they saw."

On another note, I lost a lot of respect for Ron Paul after reading his statement on the Ground Zero mosque. I have always been bothered by a seemingly anti-American streak in Paul, but his reaction on this issue is really disturbing to me. Paul claims "neo-conservatives" (by that he means the overwhelming majority of mainstream conservatives) "never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars." He adds, "According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservatives’ aggressive wars." Nasty stuff. It is a lie to say that those who are condemning the mosque believe that the 9/11 bombers spoke for all Muslims. I haven't heard any conservative say that. And his characterization of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as "wars of aggression and occupation" is both false and anti-American. He concludes the article with this gem: "This is all about hate and Islamaphobia." (If he used spell check, he would learn how to spell "Islamophobia.") I am truly thankful that this man will never be president of our great country.

UPDATE: I ran across this great quote from Jim Geraghty of National Review Online that I wanted to share:

NPR's headline? "Rancor Over Mosque Could Fuel Islamic
Extremists." You know what else fuels Islamic extremists? Everything, it seems.
We've been told extremists are motivated by the secular nature of our society;
our notions of the rights of women; our belief in democracy and the idea that
laws are written by elected representatives with the consent of the governed,
not handed down on high from a religious authority; our foreign policy; our
libertine pop culture; our 1980s support and assistance in Afghanistan; our
late-80s abandonment of Afghanistan; our embrace of the Saudi rulers; our
disrespect for Saudi customs; the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia; the
departure of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia via Iraq; poverty; globalization;
anti-Semitism; conspiracy theories; envy; sexual frustration; and Faisal
Shahzad's inability to make his mortgage payments. Apparently al-Qaeda is
motivated by everything except the Koran's more incendiary passages.

Hey, you know what? Maybe they're just [bad word of your choice here]s.
Abu Zarqawi always seemed like a guy who was just into it for the killing;
having somebody tell him he was doing God's work was just a nice

William Jacobson: "Tolerance should be a two-way street, except that
throughout much of the world, it is not. Read Christopher Hitchens's post, A
Test of Tolerance: 'Let us by all means make the 'Ground Zero' debate a test of
tolerance. But this will be a one-way street unless it is to be a test of Muslim
tolerance as well.' Which makes this NPR post, Rancor Over Mosque Could Fuel
Islamic Extremists, particularly inane. If history has proven anything, it is
that 'fuel' is the one thing for which 'Islamic Extremists' do not want. If not
this, something else. That doesn't mean we should engage in the same intolerance
as they do. But it also doesn't mean we should deny reality."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Left's Most Compelling Argument

The American political left has a favorite political tactic. Let's take a look at their response to conservative positions on various recent hot button issues:

~Do you support the Arizona illegal immigration law and think the U.S. should enforce the border with Mexico? (RACIST) BIGOT!

~Do you believe that we should keep the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman? (HOMOPHOBIC) BIGOT!

~Do you support the Tea Party movement to control federal spending and limit taxes? (RACIST) BIGOT!

~Do you think it is inappropriate for an Islamic cleric sympathetic to terrorism to build an Islamic center just a few hundred feet from Ground Zero? (ISLAMOPHOBIC) BIGOT!

~Do you oppose President Obama's policies and believe they are harmful to our country? (RACIST) BIGOT!

~Do you think Obama's Justice Department should not have dropped charges against New Black Panther Party members intimidating voters outside a polling station in Philadelphia? (RACIST) BIGOT!

Folks, this is how many people on the left argue. They don't really engage the facts. They just impugn the motives of their political opponents. They don't explain why their opponents are wrong. They just claim their opponents are hate-filled bigots and call it a day. And remember, on virtually all of these issues, the majority of the American people fall into the category of "bigot."

In an earlier post, I commented on articles in the Washington Post by Colbert King and Eugene Robinson that made explicit comparisons between Tea Party activists protesting the Democratic health care bill and white supremacists protesting the desegregation of the schools in the Old South. They made all sorts of claims about racist behavior among Tea Partiers, none of which could be substantiated (and many of which were proven false). The same tactics have been used by many left-wing columnists, reporters, and politicians on all the issues listed above. What influential conservative has not been called a bigot or a racist? Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, Ron Paul, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, etc., etc. They 're all racists!

Since the issue most currently in the news is the Ground Zero mosque controversy, let's take a look at how leading mainstream journalists are covering this story.

1. Kirsten Powers, a Fox News political analyst and New York Post columnist, wrote an article on the Daily Beast blog entitled "The GOP's Long, Hot, Racist Summer." Hmmm...I wonder where this article is coming from. She starts out the article with these words: "Welcome to the summer of hate. These dog days have brought a veritable festival of racial demagoguery, from a phony 'New Black Panther' controversy to Arizona’s draconian illegal-immigrant crackdown to the most recent 'ground zero mosque' hysteria." (See all the ways conservatives are racist?) Powers completely distorts the New Black Panther controversy. She dismisses the voter intimidation as unimportant, lies about the New Black Panther Party's role in the incident, suggests that the Obama Justice Department carried out justice in the case when in fact they dropped the charges, and suggests that all high-profile Republicans are indifferent to white racism. With regard to the Arizona immigration law, she gives one over-the-top quote from Michael Savage (someone who would hardly identify himself as a Republican) about illegal immigration (no mention of race in the quote) to prove the racial motivations of supporters of the AZ law, and then lies about the law by claiming "brown skin" constitutes reasonable suspicion to check immigration status. With regard to the mosque, she makes no effort to seriously address any of the reasonable concerns about the imam involved or the location of the mosque (which I summarized in a recent post here). She simply says, "Let's be honest. The problem is they are Muslims." Case closed!

2. The cover story for Time magazine's most recent cover story is "Is America Xenophobic?" Anyone want to take a guess at the answer the magazine gives to that question? The article claims that Islamophobia is growing all across the country and that Republican leaders who oppose the mosque are fueling it. The author, Bobby Ghosh, admits that "there's no sign that violence against Muslims is on the rise," but cites "anecdotal evidence" for rising anti-Muslim sentiment. He also claims, in an interview with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, that Islamophobia was widespread after the 9/11 attacks. We know from the historical record that this is a lie, and that the response from the American public was surprisingly restrained and respectful, given the provocation. These days, radical Muslims like Imam Rauf seem to get better press -- and far more benefit of the doubt -- than the America public. Rauf can attack the U.S. and defend terrorists and still be considered a moderate, but Americans cannot be angry over a provocative Islamic center to be built right next to Ground Zero without being called intolerant haters.

3. The ever-enlightening Maureen Dowd had to weigh in on the story too. Her main contribution in her most recent column, "Going Mad in Herds," is to claim that Obama is "a rational man running a most irrational nation" and to note that "the country is having some weird mass nervous breakdown." She adds, "The dispute over the Islamic center has tripped some deep national lunacy." Wow. Now, if you're opposed to the Ground Zero mosque, you're nuts. Most Americans do not agree with Maureen Dowd, therefore the whole nation is having a nervous breakdown. Can someone remind me again how this woman came to be an editorial page writer for one of the biggest newspapers in the land?

4. Taking the cake is another editorial from the New York Times, this one by Dick Cavett entitled "Real Americans, Please Stand Up." Yes, you read that right. If you oppose the Ground Zero mosque, you are not a "real" American. Cavett says that these prejudiced mosque opponents remind him of his 6th grade teacher who used to talk about the "dirty Japs." Cavett says, "How sad this whole mosque business is. It doesn’t take much, it seems, to lift the lid and let our home-grown racism and bigotry overflow." And this: "I like to think I’m not easily shocked, but here I am, seeing the emotions of the masses running like a freight train over the right to freedom of religion — never mind the right of eminent domain and private property." Just like all the other writers, Cavett never attempts to engage opponents of the mosque on any of the points they make about the mosque. He doesn't argue, he just asserts. His moral lectures to us about how we need to grow up and become real Americans is a disgrace. If he's so embarrassed by this backwards, racist, intolerant country, he should leave. Go somewhere real tolerance is practiced. Like any country in the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, etc.

In the meantime, I note that more statements by Imam Rauf have been coming out lately. The latest to surface was this gem: "We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanction against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children." As Jim Geraghty of National Review Online points out, "To suggest that the indirect effects of a U.S. sanctions regime is remotely morally comparable to al-Qaeda’s deliberate mass murder — much less to suggest that they are morally worse — is to eviscerate one’s claim to be moderate, pro-American, or sensible." I think that Imam Rauf would probably meet the criteria for being an editorial writer for many newspapers in this country.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Elitism and the Democratic Party, Part II

Last week, I explained how the policy positions of the Democratic party are largely elitist. I also want to point out the incredible arrogance and elitism that many elected Democrats exhibit in their words and behavior. Here are a few examples:

1. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House. She referred to townhall participants protesting the health care bill as "people carrying swastikas." In a speech early in the year, she told her audience that "we have to pass the health care bill so you can find out what's in it." And of course, most recently, she called for an investigation into the source of funds for those opposing the Ground Zero mosque. This San Francisco radical is the person chosen by Democrats in the House of Representatives to be their leader.

2. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader. He has a long history of making outrageous statements (when Bush was president he called him a "loser" in front of schoolchildren and said that the War in Iraq was "lost" while our troops were still in harm's way fighting). Most recently, Reid called townhall participants protesting the health care bill "evilmongers." In a speech on the Senate floor, he compared opponents of the Democrats' unpopular health care bill to racists who opposed desegregation and civil rights for blacks in the 1960's. He demonstrated racial insensitivity himself as well as tacitly accusing the American people of racism when he said that Obama would be acceptable to voters because he was a "light-skinned Negro" without an accent. Just last week, he said in a speech that he couldn't believe that any Hispanics could be Republicans. This hateful man, deeply disliked by voters in his own state, is the person chosen by Democrats in the Senate to be their leader.

3. Baron Hill, Indiana Congressman. The esteemed congressman held a town hall meeting in his district last year regarding the health care debate, and a college student respectfully asked why she couldn't videotape the proceedings for her school project. The congressman's reply? "This is my town hall meeting. I set the rules. [waits for boos from crowd to die down.] Let me say that again. This is my town hall meeting for you. You're not going to tell me how to run my congressional office." (What a tremendous favor the congressman did to condescend to spend a couple of hours of his valuable time with the little people! How dare they be so ungrateful?) He goes onto to add that he doesn't want a video to end up on YouTube in a "compromising position." Check out the video here!

4. Phil Hare, Illinois Congressman. This venerable congressman was asked by some of his constituents where in the Constitution the federal government has the authority to require people to purchase private health insurance under ObamaCare. The congressman's incredible reply? "I don't worry about the Constitution on this, to be honest. I care more about the people who are dying every day because they don't have health insurance." He then goes on to say that the Constitution affirms our "right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." After his astute constituents remind him that he is actually quoting the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, he looks annoyed and says, "It doesn't matter to me." (The Constitution? What's that?) When he is once again asked about the constitutionality of ObamaCare, he replies "I don't know." Check out the video here.

5. Bob Etheridge, North Carolina Congressman. This fine, upstanding congressman was accosted by two college students and asked whether he supported the Obama agenda. Etheridge went nuts, as anyone with his sense of entitlement doubtless would. He asked "Who are you" about 12 times, tried to knock the camera out of the one of the student's hands, grabbed the other student's wrist and wouldn't let go, then grabbed the student around the back of the neck. (How dare you question me! I've been in Congress 14 years and I'm not accountable to anyone!) The entire assault was captured on video here.

6. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Congresswoman. This caring congresswoman had to take a couple hours out of her busy schedule to talk to the little people at a town hall meeting, so you can't really blame her for being on her cell phone in the middle of the meeting while a constituent is asking her a question. This unbelievably disrespectful behavior was captured on video here.

7. Alcee Hastings, Florida Congressman. Back in March, the Democratic Congress was trying everything in its power to muscle ObamaCare through against the wishes of the American people, and one of the clever ideas they came up with was the "deem-and-pass" rule. This rule would have allowed the House to vote on a parliamentary procedure to "deem" ObamaCare passed without ever actually voting to pass ObamaCare directly. (The American people are way too stupid to figure out what we're doing!) Of course, some of the usual suspects had to bring up concerns about "transparency" and "rules" and all that rot, but a Florida congressman and impeached federal judge Alcee Hastings had a response for that! Quoting in part from Thomas Edison, he says, "There ain't no rules around here. We're trying to accomplish something. And therefore, when the deal goes down, all this talk about rules, we make 'em up as we go along." See the video here.

8. Pete Stark, California Congressman. Congressman Stark has been one of the most outrageous members of Congress for a long time (38 years to be precise). A few years ago, he said that U.S. soldiers in Iraq were blowing up innocent people for the President's amusement. Last year, at a town hall meeting, a senior citizen spoke and lit into ObamaCare, concluding with the statement "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." Stark's reply: "I wouldn’t dignify you by peeing on your leg. It wouldn’t be worth wasting the urine.” This exchange occurred in the first two minutes of this video. Just a few weeks ago at another town hall meeting, a constituent asked Stark how ObamaCare was consistent with the Constitution, and asked if Stark believed there were any constitutional limits whatsoever on the federal government. Stark's reply? "The federal government can do most anything in this country." The questioner replied, "You sir, and people who think like you, are destroying this nation." The video is well worth watching.

9. Ciro Rodriguez, Texas Congressman. While talking to his constituents, Congressman Rodriguez recites standard Democratic talking points about the CBO numbers and the deficit, and then when a constituent challenges him by pointing out the CBO numbers are now being revised downward, he gets angry, slams his papers down on the table, and yells at the constituent. See the video here.

These are just some of the most outrageous examples, but are far from the only ones. It is sickening to me to see the arrogance, the sense of entitlement, the condescending attitude toward constituents that ooze from these elected Democratic officials, and many others like them. And of course, I haven't even brought up New York Congressman Charlie Rangel, until recently the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, who has been charged with 13 serious crimes, including tax evasion and abuse of power. Or California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who is accused of violating ethics rules by intervening with federal regulators to get bailout money for a bank in which she and her husband had significant ownership. These congresspeople really seem to think the taxpayers' money is their own personal slush fund to use for their own enrichment. Then, of course, there is Democratic multi-millionaire Senator John Kerry (and recent Democratic presidential candidate), who never misses an opportunity to raise taxes on the rich, yet docks his multi-million dollar yacht in Rhode Island to avoid a six-figure Massachusetts tax. There is Obama's political team using job offers to try to coax Democrats out of Senate races in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

There is elitism and a sense of entitlement on both sides of the political aisle, no doubt, but right now it's the worst among the Democrats that I've ever seen. I don't think Congress has ever created a major new entitlement like health care that has been so strongly opposed by a majority of the American people. I can't say how important I think it is that voters send the strongest possible message to the Democratic party in November. These out-of-touch politicians need to learn that they cannot openly ignore or ridicule our concerns, ignore the Constitution, and misuse our tax dollars without serious consequences. Many, many of our elected officials think their job is to be our master, not our servant -- to tell us what to do rather than listen to us and represent us. They only serve at our pleasure, and hopefully many of the people mentioned in this article will no longer be in Congress after the election. For the sake of our country, let's pray that is the case.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who Did You Say Was Extreme Again?

Check out this great video put out by the NRSC (via the National Review blog Campaign Spot)!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Obama & Pelosi Are the Gift That Keeps On Giving

I noted three interesting pieces of news over the past couple of days:

1. Nancy Pelosi gave an interview in which she stated that she thinks someone, presumably the government, needs to "look into" the sources of funding for those opposing the Ground Zero mosque.

2. A Democratic pollster is claiming that in the battleground House districts that Democrats are trying to defend, Bush is 6 percentage points more popular than Obama.

3. Another Democratic polling organization, Public Policy Polling, discovered that among residents of Obama's home state of Illinois, 40% would be less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Obama, while only 26% would be more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Obama.

I hope Obama and Pelosi stay the leaders of the Democratic Party for a long, long time. Every time they open their mouth, the prospects for the GOP improve.

Finally, Maureen Dowd Misses Bush!

Most of the time, liberals infuriate me. But every once in a great while, they do something that just cracks me up. This week, no fewer than three left-wing writers -- Maureen Dowd, Eugene Robinson, and Peter Beinart -- are begging George W. Bush to weigh in on the Ground Zero mosque controversy on Obama's behalf! (The Washington Examiner has the story here.) Dowd, who has spent the past 10 years of her life relentlessly ridiculing Bush's stupidity on a weekly basis in her New York Times column, now says that "W. needs to get his bullhorn back out." Robinson, who spends his weekly columns explaining how Republicans support slavery and segregation, says he "would love to hear from former President Bush on this issue." Beinart adds, "Words I never thought I'd write: I pine for George W. Bush." All three of the writers praised Bush's knowledge and sensitivity with regard to the War on Terror and Muslim issues.

Haven't we been hearing for years from these left-wing commentators that Bush was an idiot who couldn't put a coherent sentence together and had one of the worst presidencies in our history? Haven't they claimed for the past three years that Obama's eloquence and understanding of the world were unsurpassed? After doing everything possible to smear President Bush, suddenly they're worried about their beloved president's inability to argue effectively for their precious Ground Zero mosque and they want Bush to ride to the rescue! You just can't make this stuff up.

This is why it is so foolish for politicians to try to curry favor with the media. As long as you seem to be furthering their left-wing agenda, they will heap you with praise. And once they no longer have use for you, they will throw you under the bus. Remember, the press couldn't stop fawning over John McCain as a "principled maverick" back in 2000 when he was challenging Bush from the left. But just a few years later McCain was running against Obama, and they barely seemed capable of doing a positive story on him. Three weeks ago, Bush was the object of universal scorn. Now the left is begging for his eloquence and wisdom. But don't worry. In a few weeks, once the mosque story has blown over, they'll back to blaming him for the lousy economy, the Gulf oil spill, etc.

This is also why I've stopped worrying about what liberals think of me. I take plenty of heat from co-workers for defending Bush, Palin, the Tea Parties, the Arizona law, etc. It would be quite easy for me to try to distance myself from these hated individuals and groups ("I'm a Reagan conservative, not a Palin conservative!"), but I'm done bothering with it. The only conservatives liberals and the media will ever like are the ones that are no longer in power. (They say nice things about Reagan now, but he couldn't get good press to save in his life when he was president.) And the only way to get liberals to approve of your positions is to stop standing for anything.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Obama's Muslim Problem

Jennifer Rubin of Contentions, one of my favorite bloggers, had a couple of excellent posts yesterday regarding what the controversy over the Ground Zero mosque has to say about Obama's worldview. Check them out here and here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Obama, a Man of the People

The mosque at Ground Zero continues to make headlines. First, New York Governor David Patterson made a good faith effort to defuse the controversy by offering to help Imam Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative find another location for his mosque. This good faith effort was flatly rejected by Rauf, which comes as a shock to exactly no one who has bothered to read about Rauf's background and connections. Then President Obama jumped into the fray, declaring his strong support for building the mosque at Ground Zero in a public speech, another piece of breaking news which should have come as no surprise to keen political observers.

(Just an aside: while Imam Rauf most definitely sympathizes with terrorism, not all Muslims share this radical ideology. Two genuinely moderate Muslims, Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress, wrote an excellent op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen last week about the mosque controversy.)

The thing that I love most about Obama is that he is, delightfully, a man of the people. He shares the values, aspirations, and worldview of ordinary Americans, as the following examples demonstrate:

1. While 68% of Americans have grave concerns about a radical Islamic cleric building a mosque at Ground Zero, Obama has enthusiastically endorsed the idea. (Why do the little people still care about 9/11? It's been almost 10 years since the worst attack on our soil, folks, can we just get over it already?)

2. While being disgracefully lax in enforcing federal immigration laws, Obama is busy using taxpayer dollars to sue the state of Arizona (along with lying about the law in public speeches). Obama might be a little out of touch on this: 60% of Americans support the Arizona law, 70% oppose the lawsuit against Arizona, and huge majorities think the federal government needs to do a better job controlling the border.

3. While a significant majority of Americans opposed both the substance of ObamaCare and the corrupt, partisan procedure used to pass it (and similar majorities now support its repeal), Obama considers it a historic achievement. (Once we find out what's in the 2,000+ page bill, we'll let you know. A toast to my legacy!) His Justice Department claims that the government has a right to force people to purchase private health insurance. In a recent referendum, 71% of Missouri voters (including a majority of voters in every single county in the state) disagreed.

4. While polls repeatedly show that Americans are extremely worried about the unsustainable national debt, Obama has merrily proceeded to triple the deficit after a year in office. While polls repeatedly show that Americans believe federal spending is out of control, Obama and his Congressional allies have rammed through numerous huge spending bills costing hundreds of billions of dollars a pop -- the $787 billion stimulus, the trillion dollar health care reform bill, the auto industry bailout, the financial services reform bill, etc. While polls show Americans are worried about the imminent bankruptcy of existing entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, Obama is busy creating new ones that only make the problem worse.

5. Obama supports shutting down Guantanamo Bay and either releasing the military combatants held there or bringing them to the U.S. -- all this against the strong opposition of the public (and many Democrats). Obama supports having a civilian trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, in New York City, despite the fact that his case was already virtually completed in military courts. A mere 2/3 of the public opposes such a trial, probably because they are ignorant bigots.

6. Obama supports cap-and-trade legislation, which by his own admission would dramatically increase production costs and consumer prices for electricity and natural gas. Of course, it's all in the cause of promoting "green" energy and slowing global warming. Polling has indicated the public is highly skeptical that global warming is even primarily caused by human activity, and that the public would prefer not to have their utility bills double to finance the latest breakthroughs in ethanol and windmill technology.

7. Significant majorities of Congress and the voting public have long supported Israel - both its right to exist as a nation and its special status as a close friend and ally of the U.S. Even heavily Democratic Jewish groups in the U.S. have criticized Obama' contemptuous behavior toward Israel, including several public snubs, an unwillingness to stand up to anti-Israel bullying in the U.N., and a refusal to get tough on Iran.

8. Obama registered his opposition to Prop 8 in California which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. This puts him at odds not only with a majority of voters in one of the most left-wing states in the country; it also puts him at odds with a much larger percentage of voters nationwide.

9. Polls have shown that huge majorities of Americans want their elected officials to work together to get things done, and are tired of the excessive partisanship in Washington. Obama's promise to be a post-partisan president was a key part of his appeal. Since getting elected, Obama has accomplished nothing in a bi-partisan fashion. He excluded Republicans from closed-door health care deliberations, and his party muscled all major pieces of legislation through Congress with seriously curtailed debate and with no effort to win over even moderate Republicans. He and his spokesmen have personally ridiculed and attacked news organizations and private citizens by name, repeatedly questioned the motives of his Republican critics, and explicitly played racial politics. His close allies even attacked ordinary townhall protestors exercising their constitutional right to participate in government, calling them Nazis and brownshirts.

10. Polls show that large majorities of Americans consider America to be a basically fair and decent society and a model of freedom and justice for the rest of the world. Obama, on the other hand, has made numerous speeches overseas in which he has apologized for American policies and publicly blamed his predecessor for all kinds of supposed injustices. He allowed the Mexican president to publicly attack Arizona without protest, and one of our ambassadors to China to equate U.S. human rights violations with Chinese human rights violations. He always seems to go soft on anti-American regimes like Iran and Venezuela while being harsh against American allies like Britain and Israel. His speech to a Muslim-American audience for Ramadan last week seemed to condemn a majority of his fellow-Americans for being against religious freedom for American Muslims, which is a hateful slur against America, possibly the most religiously tolerant country on earth.

11. Perhaps worst of all, Obama appears out-of-touch and indifferent to the sufferings of ordinary Americans. His administration never bothered to declare a state of emergency earlier this year in Tennessee, a state where more than a dozen people died in terrible flooding. His handling of the Gulf oil spill was pathetic. His administration was painfully slow to acknowledge the problem, painfully slow to approve state proposals to build sand barriers, painfully slow to approve and deploy equipment to the region, painfully slow to issue a public statement, painfully slow to visit the Gulf region. They never did waive the Jones Act to allow foreign oil skimmers to help with the cleanup. The few decisions Obama did make quickly, such a moratorium on deep-sea drilling, were strongly opposed by Gulf residents whose livelihoods depend on the oil industry. While Gulf coast residents were suffering, Obama was partying it up numerous times with celebrities in the White House and golfing for 5 or 6 hours every single weekend. In fact, Obama and his family have made a habit out of hobnobbing with celebrities and vacationing in the most exclusive spots (Bar Harbor, Martha's Vineyard) in the middle of one of the worst recessions in our history. With 10% unemployment, does Michelle Obama really need to be vacationing in Spain and staying in a hotel where each room costs $2,500 per night?

Obama, man of the people!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Elitism and the Democratic Party, Part I

If you were to ask me to describe today's Democratic Party in one word, one of the words at the top of my list would be "elitist." The online dictionary describes elitism as "consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group" (often described as a ruling class). My own definition of elitism would be "the arrogance of power." Elitist people think that their superior education and position of authority give them the right to look down their noses at the "little people." Law is simply what they dictate to the common rabble in their infinite wisdom; such ordinary laws, of course, do not apply to them. The little people, not having receiving Ivy League college educations, are generally ignorant, prejudiced, and intolerant; fortunately they are also easily led, which explains why elitists assume the public will let them get away with the most outrageous words and behavior. Because elitists think they know better than the masses, they are constantly trying to take more power and control away from the individual and wield it themselves.

Now, elitism exists in many places. There is a significant amount of elitism in Hollywood, the academic community, and Wall Street, for example. However, I think the modern Democratic Party's elitism is incredibly flagrant, because unlike Hollywood, academic, and Wall Street elites, Democratic politicians are actually holding public office and are serving only at the pleasure of the voters. This means that we have a unique opportunity to end the elitism in Washington by showing up at the polls in November.

Much could be written about the elitism of Democratic ideology. In almost every area of public policy, the Democrats stand for taking rights and control away from individual people and private businesses and centralizing that control in the hands of an increasingly powerful federal government. Here are some examples:

1. Health care. Most Democrats in Congress want government-run, single-payer health care. This inevitably takes power away from individual patients, doctors, and health insurers and centralizes it in the hands of government bureaucrats and agencies. In a true government-run system like the British system, all major decisions about who gets care, who gives care, when they get care, how much the care costs, and what types of care will be approved are made by the government. ObamaCare is a major step in that direction, as it authorized the creation of over 100 new government boards and agencies.

2. Environment. Most Democrats in Congress support cap-and-trade legislation, which essentially subsidizes unprofitable alternative energy sources by increasing costs (and thus consumer prices) on traditional energy sources. The effect of such legislation vastly increases government control over the energy producing sector of our economy at the expense of businesses and consumers. Democrats also favor many other types of environmental legislation, most of which involves increased regulation of the private sector, harsh and unnecessary mandates on businesses, and decreased individual property rights.

3. Judicial System. Most Democrats favor bringing about social change by nominating activist judges who declare laws unconstitutional based on their opinions about justice rather than the actual words of the Constitution (essentially legislating from the bench). Obama's recent nominees to the Supreme Court follow this philosophy. This approach to the courts takes power away from the people to enact laws through their elected representatives and centralizes power in a few judges who are appointed for life and have no accountability to the people for their decisions. It also diminishes the rule of law in our society by allowing judges to ignore the original intent and the plain meaning of the Constitution and interpret certain clauses so broadly that they become meaningless.

4. Taxes and Spending. By and large, Democrats tend to favor increased taxation and higher spending. Generally, these two things go together, as increased spending requires increased taxation in order to pay for it. Since Obama took office, he and his allies in Congress spent $800 billion on an economic stimulus bill that had more to do with earmarks and payoffs to special interests than it did with stimulating the economy. They also spent nearly a trillion on a new health care entitlement, and billions and billions more in various bailout packages and "reforms" of various industries. This spending tripled our deficit in Obama's first year alone, and adds to our already crippling national debt which is projected to reach almost unsustainable levels in just a few years. Of course, these bills also included many new taxes, fees, and mandates for individuals and businesses, and the Democrats have also proposed eliminating the Bush tax cuts. The upshot of these tax-and-spend economic policies is to move control over more and more of the dollars in our economy out of the hands of individuals and into the hands of the federal government. More taxation and spending by the government means less spending, decisions, and freedoms for individuals and private businesses.

5. Education. Most Democratic politicians oppose commonsense education ideas like merit pay for teachers and school vouchers. Although such policies would likely improve the quality of education and increase the power of parents to make choices about their children's education, they are opposed by teacher's unions which oppose any challenge to the government monopoly on education.

6. Gun Control. Many Democratic politicians want increased government restrictions on gun ownership and gun rights, with some liberal cities going as far as banning handguns altogether. Such policies restrict individual rights and increase government power (not to mention violating the Constitution).

These are just a few examples of how the elitism of the Democratic Party manifests itself through legislation. However, perhaps the thing that is most striking to me is how vocal many Democratic politicians are in expressing their contempt for the little people and the rule of law. That will be the subject of Part II of this post, coming soon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Constitutional "Right" of Gay Marriage

I expect all of my readers know that federal judge Vaughn Walker issued an opinion this past week overturning California's Proposition 8, an amendment to the state's constitution defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman which was passed by the state's voters in 2008. There are two important questions here that should be distinguished. The first is whether this ruling by Judge Walker is constitutionally sound, and the second is whether gay marriage should be permitted under the law.

With regard to the first question, the evidence is overwhelming that the Walker ruling was neither impartial nor constitutionally sound. Judge Walker is not only gay, but also has a long-term male domestic partner whom he would presumably be eligible to marry under his own ruling. This shows a personal involvement in the case which should have led him to recuse himself. The judge's conduct during the entire trial was so blatantly prejudiced against the defense that the outcome was a surprise to no one. Ed Whelan, a constitutional law expert who writes for National Review, has listed the numerous actions Judge Walker took throughout the trial that show his extreme bias (click on the links in the article for more detail about each point.) Less than 30 pages of the 135-page ruling have anything remotely resembling a legal argument; most of the ruling is devoted to "findings of fact" and a summary of the trial proceedings. Most of those supposed "findings of fact" are not facts at all, but simply express the judge's opinion that Proposition 8 stigmatizes homosexuality. Whelan also lists out the key legal arguments in the thin "conclusions of law" section, which mostly consist of sweeping and highly controversial claims about the nature of marriage with no supporting evidence or historical precedent to back them up. Whelan's brief parenthetical commentary demonstrates how utterly flimsy those arguments really are.

Essentially, the ruling boils down to the central claim that it is discriminatory for same-sex couples to not be able to marry. While I disagree with this argument, I can understand how it could be used to justify a law permitting same-sex marriage. But it can't be used to justify imposing such a law through the court system. The court isn't permitted to make law; it's only permitted to strike down laws that are unconstitutional. Therefore, to make this ruling, the court is at least implicitly inventing a constitutional civil right for gay marriage. And we all know the Constitution does not guarantee such a right. If we are going to consistently follow this line of reasoning (anybody who wants to marry has a constitutional right to do so) then I don't see how the courts can avoid imposing legalized polygamy, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality as well. To me, this ruling is less about gay marriage than it is about unelected judges making law from the bench. Liberals believe that because the Constitution is a living document, judges can invent new provisions to the Constitution whenever they feel it serves their definition of justice. Roe v. Wade was the same thing. There's no constitutional right to abortion, but the courts invented it because they didn't like existing law. It is very dangerous for courts to write laws because they are unelected and appointed for life and thus are unaccountable to the people.

The second key question is whether gay marriage should be legalized. To me, this issue is not really about equality, despite the claims of supporters. Gay couples already have full rights and freedom to pursue whatever lifestyle they want. No one is keeping them from having sex or buying a house together or having a commitment ceremony. A lot of states (including California) have civil unions or domestic partnership laws, which provide these couples with virtually every financial benefit that a married couple has. I am generally supportive of such laws. No, the issue here is not equality. The issue is forcing society to give their stamp of approval to the gay lifestyle. Gay rights activists want to force society to accept and approve of what they are doing, and in so doing to fundamentally redefine the institution of marriage that has existed in virtually every culture from time immemorial as the union between a man and a woman. Judge Walker's opinion is a frontal assault on the entire family structure, not just marriage. He claims that it is "beyond any doubt that parents’ genders are irrelevant to children’s developmental outcomes" and slams gender distinctions as outdated "artifacts."

Princeton professor and legal scholar Robert George recently wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal on the topic of same-sex marriage. While the major point of Dr. George's article is to argue that the legislature and not the courts should settle the question of gay marriage, he also makes some excellent points about the nature of marriage itself which I will quote from at length:

"Lawyers challenging traditional marriage laws liken their cause to Loving v. Virginia (which invalidated laws against interracial marriages), insinuating that conjugal-marriage supporters are bigots. This is ludicrous and offensive, and no one should hesitate to say so.
"The definition of marriage was not at stake in Loving. Everyone agreed that interracial marriages were marriages. Racists just wanted to ban them as part of the evil regime of white supremacy that the equal protection clause was designed to destroy.
"Opponents of racist laws in Loving did not question the idea, deeply embodied in our law and its shaping philosophical tradition, of marriage as a union that takes its distinctive character from being founded, unlike other friendships, on bodily unity of the kind that sometimes generates new life. This unity is why marriage, in our legal tradition, is consummated only by acts that are generative in kind. Such acts unite husband and wife at the most fundamental level and thus legally consummate marriage whether or not they are generative in effect, and even when conception is not sought.
"Of course, marital intercourse often does produce babies, and marriage is the form of relationship that is uniquely apt for childrearing (which is why, unlike baptisms and bar mitzvahs, it is a matter of vital public concern). But as a comprehensive sharing of life—an emotional and biological union—marriage has value in itself and not merely as a means to procreation. This explains why our law has historically permitted annulment of marriage for non-consummation, but not for infertility; and why acts of sodomy, even between legally wed spouses, have never been recognized as consummating marriages.
"Only this understanding makes sense of all the norms—annulability for non-consummation, the pledge of permanence, monogamy, sexual exclusivity—that shape marriage as we know it and that our law reflects. And only this view can explain why the state should regulate marriage (as opposed to ordinary friendships) at all—to make it more likely that, wherever possible, children are reared in the context of the bond between the parents whose sexual union gave them life.
"If marriage is redefined, its connection to organic bodily union—and thus to procreation—will be undermined. It will increasingly be understood as an emotional union for the sake of adult satisfaction that is served by mutually agreeable sexual play. But there is no reason that primarily emotional unions like friendships should be permanent, exclusive, limited to two, or legally regulated at all. Thus, there will remain no principled basis for upholding marital norms like monogamy.
"A veneer of sentiment may prevent these norms from collapsing—but only temporarily. The marriage culture, already wounded by widespread divorce, nonmarital cohabitation and out-of-wedlock childbearing will fare no better than it has in those European societies that were in the vanguard of sexual “enlightenment.” And the primary victims of a weakened marriage culture are always children and those in the poorest, most vulnerable sectors of society.
"Candid and clear-thinking advocates of redefining marriage recognize that doing so entails abandoning norms such as monogamy. In a 2006 statement entitled “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” over 300 lesbian, gay, and allied activists, educators, lawyers, and community organizers—including Gloria Steinem, Barbara Ehrenreich, and prominent Yale, Columbia and Georgetown professors—call for legally recognizing multiple sex partner (“polyamorous”) relationships. Their logic is unassailable once the historic definition of marriage is overthrown."

As a Christian, I believe that marriage was instituted by God at creation, and therefore is holy and sacred. However, as Dr. George points out above, I think it's important to note that marriage has great societal benefits above and beyond its religious significance. Most societies outside of our country's Judeo-Christian heritage have also recognized marriage as a valuable institution throughout history. Even if you are not a Christian, you should be able to appreciate the positive effects marriage has had on our culture -- protecting women through commitment vows, protecting children by providing a stable family structure with a mother and a father, encouraging responsibility and discouraging promiscuity, etc. Our country's strong marriage culture and traditional family values have provided the moral framework for a healthy, free, productive, and prosperous society.

It's important to understand that gay rights activists, who have been pushing for gay marriage for decades, hate Judeo-Christian values because they stand for traditional marriage and a traditional family. If you don't believe this, just read Judge Walker's opinion, which claims that opponents of gay marriage are "irrational bigots." If same-sex marriage becomes law, then it's only a matter of time before people who believe in the traditional definition of marriage and the family (you know, that it is actually healthy for kids to grow up with a mom and a dad) will be persecuted for hatred and discrimination. It already happened in California in the wake of the Prop 8 vote, when newspapers published the names and addresses of people who donated money to Prop 8 and those people's families, homes, and businesses were targeted and threatened. It has already happened in Washington, DC, where Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to shut down because of their refusal to place children into gay adopting families. It has already happened in Canada, where religious ministers can be fined or jailed for committing a hate crime if they preach from the Bible that homosexuality is a sin. If gay marriage is legalized, then justices of the peace or ministers who refuse to officiate gay marriages will likely face severe legal penalties for discrimination, as will anyone who refuses to recognize or acknowledge the legitimacy of same-sex marriages.

Thus, in the name of tolerance, the government is redefining an institution that existed thousands of years before said government even came into being, and is forcing all Americans to accept and acknowledge this redefinition or face accusations (and possible criminal charges) of bigotry and discrimination. If Judge Walker's ruling stands and his claims about the family become widely accepted, they spell the end of traditional marriage and the traditional family as we know it. Marriage and the family have been a key foundation of our country ever since its inception, and if that foundation crumbles I don't see how our society as we know it can long survive. Major cracks have already developed in that foundation as divorce rates have skyrocketed and out-of-wedlock births have soared, but if Judge Walker has his way, it's only going to get worse.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Insult in the Name of Tolerance

I'm sure most of my readers are aware of the proposal to build a grand mosque just a few hundred feet away from Ground Zero in New York City. Although this story has been around for awhile, it is back in the news this week with the decision of a New York City panel to allow the building to go forward. Here are the reasons I virulently oppose the building of this mosque.

1. Supporters of the mosque claim this is an issue of religious liberty. Not true. There are over 100 mosques already in New York City, and no one is complaining about another one being built. All we ask is that the mosque not be built on this particular site. Five blocks over is fine. There is already a mosque six blocks away from Ground Zero that has been there since 1970, and no one is complaining about that.

2. Supporters of the mosque claim that their proposal is not illegal. I agree. As long as zoning laws are complied with, technically there is the legal right to build a mosque at Ground Zero. But that doesn't mean the decision is a good idea, or that the public doesn't have a right to loudly express their disapproval in order to try to convince the people behind this mosque to change their mind.

3. The Muslim group that proposed this mosque, the Cordoba Initiative, claims that their purpose is to promote tolerance and understanding. If that is the case, then why do they insist on this location, which is like pouring salt in an open wound for many of the families of the 9/11 victims? This proposed building is not promoting peace and harmony; it is provoking controversy and insult. At this location, just 9 short years ago, the worst attack ever on American soil occurred, resulting in the death of 3,000 Americans. This site is sacred ground for Americans. It should be used for a memorial of the attack and a celebration of our history, not to build a monument to the very religion which inspired the attacks in the first place. Remember, many families of the 9/11 victims have spoken out against this. Over 60% of liberal New York residents, including over half of left-wing New York City residents, oppose it. Shouldn't their feelings, and the feelings of Americans at large, be taken into account? If the Cordoba Initiative were really serious about building bridges between the Muslim world and the West, they would show respect for the wishes of a majority of the residents of New York City and move their project to a different location.

4. In addition to the Cordoba Initiative's indifference to the feelings of Americans on this project (including many of the 9/11 families), there are other strong indications that the real inspiration behind this mosque is far from an intention to promote harmony and understanding. This mosque is the brainchild of an imam named Feisal Abdul Rauf. Shortly after 9/11, Rauf said that he believed that the U.S. was an accessory to the 9/11 murders and that Osama bin Laden was a product of America. He has refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization, even though that organization routinely target innocent civilians, including women and children, in their attacks. He has not even been full-throated in condemning Islamic terrorism, saying calling the issue of terrorism a "very complex question." He has called for the U.S. to become more compliant with sharia law. (Sharia law governs some of the most oppressive regimes in the world and calls for the execution of homosexuals and adulterers and the elimination of many of the most basic rights of women.) He has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which published his book overseas through two satellite organizations. (The Muslim Brotherhood has provided a great deal of the funding for terrorism in many parts of the world.)

5. Given the radical statements and connections of the leading Islamic cleric behind this project, it would be nice to at least be able to confirm that this mosque will not be funded by Islamic terrorist organizations. Unfortunately, we can't even do that. The mosque is expected to cost $100 million, and Rauf has said that part of that money will come from foreign sources, but he has refused to disclose the names of any specific donors or sources of funds. This is a huge red flag, because given Rauf's connections there is a good chance that some of the money for this mosque may end up actually coming from the very same radical terrorist groups that supported the 9/11 attacks! It is a Muslim tradition to build grand mosques and religious centers on the sites of their greatest military victories. Perhaps this is the real intention of the unknown overseas organizations who are contributing money to this project -- and of the radical cleric who has masterminded it. I'm sure jihadists all around the world will be celebrating if this project succeeds.

To summarize: A radical Islamic cleric who has sympathies with and ties to overseas terrorist groups wants to build a huge mosque right on the site where radical Islamic terrorism killed 3,000 Americans less than a decade ago -- funded with millions of dollars from undisclosed foreign sources. This is an outrage, but it can be stopped if patriotic New Yorkers, as well as all Americans, make their voices heard so loudly that even the tone-deaf mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, can't ignore it. I signed the petition here, which is sponsored by Act for America, a group which exists to monitor and fight back against radical Islam.