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

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
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.