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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Republican Convention -- Night 1

I watched most of the first night of the Republican National Convention yesterday.  It is always exciting for me to hear speeches from some of the best and brightest political leaders around the country who also happen to largely share my values.  The two most significant speeches of the evening were the keynote address by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the comments of Mitt Romney's wife of 43 years, Ann Romney.  Christie toned down the attacks on Obama more than I expected, and some criticized his speech for appearing to focus more on himself than Mitt Romney.  Still, Christie is a great speaker, and he seemed to see his role as highlighting the serious challenges that our country faces and drawing contrasts between the two parties and their approaches to these challenges.  Here was one of the high points of his speech:

We believe in telling seniors the truth about our overburdened entitlements.
We know seniors not only want these programs to survive, but they just as badly want them secured for their grandchildren.  
Seniors are not selfish.
They believe seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren. So they prey on their vulnerabilities and scare them with misinformation for the cynical purpose of winning the next election.
Their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power.
We believe that the majority of teachers in America know our system must be reformed to put students first so that America can compete....
They believe in pitting unions against teachers, educators against parents, and lobbyists against children.
They believe in teachers' unions.
We believe in teachers.
Ann Romney gave a great speech, especially when you remember that unlike most of the speakers she is not a politician.  She was clearly trying hard -- perhaps too hard -- to appeal to women, but she spoke from the heart and gave a beautiful tribute to her husband.  She pointed out that she and Mitt started out their life together in a tiny basement apartment and worked hard to earn their success.  She said he would "work harder than anyone" to turn the country around and drew loud applause when she said, "Mitt doesn’t like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point.”  She also had this great line: "We're too smart to know there aren't easy answers. But we're not dumb enough to accept that there aren't better answers."

Bill O'Reilly had an interesting Talking Points Memo Monday night in which he compared the lineup of speakers between the Republican and Democratic conventions.  It seems a little hard to avoid the conclusion that the Democratic convention is highlighting more extreme political views than the Republican convention, and also that the Democratic convention is quite a bit less serious when it comes to substantive policy.  On the first night of the Republican convention, I was struck by the high caliber of the speakers throughout the evening.  In addition to Christie, there were several other governors who had compelling stories to tell about the success of conservative policies in their states: John Kasich of Ohio, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bob McDonnell of Virginia, and Brian Sandoval of Nevada.  I enjoyed listening to constitutional lawyer Ted Cruz, a second generation Cuban immigrant and articulate Tea Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas.  One of my favorite speakers of the evening was Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, who landed some of the most effective blows against Obama.  She pointed out that the Obama Administration had sued her state for attempting to enforce illegal immigration laws and also for its voter ID law, and that Obama's National Labor Relations Board had attempted to block Boeing from opening a new plant in the state simply because of its right-to-work laws.  There was tremendous ethnic diversity on stage throughout the evening (although MSNBC viewers would never know it, since that network made sure to cut away from live coverage of the convention at every point at which an ethnic minority was speaking with the exception of Haley). 

But I would have to say my favorite speech was Artur Davis, a former Democratic congressman from Alabama and one of the co-chairs of Obama's 2008 campaign.  Davis, the only politically moderate member of the Congressional Black Caucus, became disillusioned with Obama quickly, partially as a result of ObamaCare.  He has now joined the Republican Party and gave a rousing speech in support of Romney.  I think he did a great job appealing to disillusioned Obama supporters.  You can watch his 10-minute speech below.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Take on the Todd Akin Fiasco

I have been following the Todd Akin controversy closely over the past week or so, even though I haven't posted anything about it until now.  I'm sure most of you have read or heard about the comments of Akin, the newly minted Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Missouri.  For those who haven't, here is what he said last week in response to an interview question regarding his position on the legality of abortion in the case of rape:

It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
Needless to say, this "legitimate rape" comment was quickly seized on by the Democrats and the media and became front page news in newspapers around the country.  Akin issued an apology for "misspeaking" but the damage was done and Republicans all across the country have had to distance themselves from him and his comments, including Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Despite calls from Romney, numerous Republican elected officials, Tea Party groups, and conservative pundits and publications for Akin to drop out of the race, he steadfastly refused to do so.  Despite cratering poll numbers and lack of financial support from the National Republican Senate Committee and SuperPAC's like American Crossroads, Akin (I am convinced) will stay in the race all the way to the end. 

While some Christian conservatives such as Mike Huckabee and the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins have been vocal in their defense of Akin, I think he made a very stupid and damaging error.  First of all, he used the truly awful phrase "legitimate rape."  Second, he made a statement about female biology that appears to be simply false, or at least has no scientific evidence to support it.  Third, he addressed one of the most controversial and emotionally charged political issues of our day in an incredibly dismissive and insensitive way that seemed to imply that he questions the validity of any rape claim that involves pregnancy.  Fourth, his comments have played right into the hands of Democrats who are peddling the idea of a GOP war on women and have helped to make the issue of abortion in the case of rape a key issue of the national campaign (which puts Republicans at a disadvantage and is extremely unhelpful for those of us who care about defeating Obama).  And even his apology seemed driven more by political necessity than genuine awareness of his error.

Now I don't deny that there is an outrageous double standard in how the media covers gaffes and inappropriate comments by conservatives compared to liberals.  Joe Biden (race baiting), Harry Reid (too numerous to mention), Barbara Boxer (a baby gets legal protection from being killed once it is brought home from the hospital), Patty Murray (Osama bin Laden is respected in the Muslim community because he has helped to build day care centers), numerous members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- all of these people have made comments far worse than Akin's and continue to be highly-respected members of the Democratic Party.  (And if we want to talk about people who disrespect women -- well, look no further than the man giving the keynote address at the Democratic Convention this year, Bill Clinton.)  Akin has been unfairly attacked as being pro-rape or anti-woman, and to claim that his statement disqualifies him from ever holding federal office seems pretty over the top to me.  Nevertheless, I think his statement was ignorant and insensitive, and he has no one to blame for this controversy but himself. 

This situation is about something much bigger than Todd Akin and his career.  It is about defeating a very liberal (and staunchly pro-abortion) Democratic senator in a conservative-leaning state, which is a key stepping stone to a conservative majority in the U.S. Senate that will enable our country to repeal ObamaCare and confirm judges that respect the Constitution.  I don't think it's an exaggeration to say the future of our country depends at least partly on the outcome of this election, and we cannot afford to throw away a winnable Senate seat because of a stupid comment like this.  Akin is suffering from a severe self-inflicted wound and should have stepped aside in favor of a stronger candidate who could win this seat.  His dogged refusal to do so demonstrates his own selfishness and arrogance.  He is putting his own career before the good of the country.

I think the aspect of this story that makes me most angry is the damage that Akin has done to the pro-life cause and to the conservative brand.  The Left has tried for decades to paint social conservatives as ignorant, extreme, and insensitive toward women, and they are taking full advantage of this opportunity to make Akin the face of the pro-life movement.  The Left wants to talk a lot about the 1% of U.S. abortions resulting from rape and incest and to ignore the other 99% of U.S. abortions.  Todd Akin is happy to oblige.  Also, he is now whining that he is a martyr for the pro-life cause and that he will stay in the race in order to make abortion the central issue of the campaign.  Akin is no martyr for the pro-life cause -- this uproar has nothing to do with the fact that he is pro-life and everything to do with his ham-handed approach to discussing rape and pregnancies resulting from rape.  And I don't want Akin basing his campaign on abortion because I don't think he is a good spokesman for the pro-life movement.  If we are going to change hearts and minds on abortion -- especially abortion due to rape -- we have to be able to talk about it with sensitivity and compassion.

Having said all that, the Democratic response to this has been ridiculous.  They have been falsely trying to tie Akin closely to the Republican presidential ticket, even going so far as to call it the "Romney/Ryan/Akin" ticket.  Their spokesmen keep saying that Akin speaks for the party and his views are representative of the party as a whole, even though he and his comments have been condemned by the entire party leadership and most GOP officeholders and candidates.  If you were listen to media coverage and Democratic talking points over the past week, you might conclude that Todd Akin was a bigger issue than the economy, the budget, and the national debt! 

Democrats have claimed repeatedly that Paul Ryan is anti-woman and shares identical views to Akin's.  They are referring primarily, of course, to the fact that both Akin and Ryan are pro-life without exceptions for rape and incest.  These Democratic claims are misleading in a couple of ways.  First, they are trying to unfairly associate Ryan with Akin's statements about pregnancy resulting from rape (statements which Ryan has condemned).  Akin's problem was not that he is against abortion in the case of rape -- that has been and continues to be the position of many Republican politicians including Ronald Reagan -- but rather in the way that he spoke about pregnancies resulting from rape.  It would be like someone claiming that a random senator was the equivalent of David Duke because he happened to hold the same position on illegal immigration that Duke does.  The second reason these claims are misleading is that they attribute false positions to Ryan.  For example, Ryan has not supported a bill that would ban abortions due to rape or incest.  His positions on abortion-related issues are completely mainstream pro-life Republican positions.  Ramesh Ponnuru provides more details about these distortions of Ryan's record here and here.

As I mentioned in a previous post with that video of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Romney has made it clear he is pro-life but supports exceptions for rape and incest, which puts him well within the mainstream of American opinion on abortion.  According to Gallup, nearly 60% of Americans think abortion should illegal under most circumstances.  Yet, in the wake of Akin, the Democrats are trying to portray the Romney/Ryan ticket as extreme when it comes to abortion.  Democrats have attacked the Republican platform on abortion as extreme because it does not specify an exception with regard to rape or incest and have blamed Romney for this, even though the language in the platform about abortion is the identical language that has been in the platform for many years. 

And apparently, the Democrats have decided to make Todd Akin and abortion a major focus of their convention.  (Or as Debbie Wasserman Schultz would say, "women's right to make their own reproductive choices."  Democrats are so clever with their abortion code!)  They have given Sandra Fluke and the presidents of the National Abortion Rights and Reproductive League and Planned Parenthood key speaking slots.  (And they say Republican are the ones obsessed with abortion!)  All these women believe, like Obama, that abortion should be legal at any time, for any reason, up until the date of birth.  And this viewpoint is shared by a grand total of 12% of the American public, according to Gallup.  Also according to Gallup, less than 1% of American voters list abortion as their most important issue .  But don't worry -- the Democrats are going to make it a centerpiece of their convention.  It's pretty easy to see how this could backfire on the Democrats, big time. 

By the way, I do believe abortion is the killing of a human life, even if the baby was conceived as a result of rape.  Since abortions due to rape are such a tiny percentage of the overall number of abortions, I am comfortable with an exception for rape in pro-life bills.  But I enjoyed reading National Review's symposium on the topic of abortion and rape.  There is an argument to make against abortion in the case of rape, and it is a compassionate one.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

So Who Are the Real Extremists On Abortion?

National Review has a great editorial today addressing this question.  The facts in this editorial clearly demonstrate the extreme bias of the media in covering this issue.  And Rich Lowry has an even more hard-hitting piece on Obama's abortion extremism on the Politico website.  I'm glad to see some conservatives pushing back against the Left on this issue.

UPDATE: Wow...take a look at this video.  Anderson Cooper of CNN takes Debbie Wasserman Schultz to task for her misquote of an LA Times article to make a false claim that Romney "directed" the Republican National Committee to propose a ban on all abortion as part of the party platform.  The truth is that the GOP platform on abortion is the same as it has been for many years.  And Romney has made it clear that he supports legalized abortion in cases of rape and incest.  The Democrats are insane if they think they can convince the public that Romney is some kind of anti-abortion extremist.  Good grief, the guy was pro-choice up until a few years ago and never mentions abortion on the campaign trail.  If anything, I have some concerns about how pro-life he really is.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Campaign Notes

Joe Biden made the following comment, speaking to an audience more than half black in Danville, VA:

Look at what they [Republicans] value, and look at their budget. And look what they're proposing. [Romney] said in the first 100 days, he's going to let the big banks write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street. They're gonna put y'all back in chains.
Both Obama and Biden were subsequently asked about these racially charged remarks and defended them as perfectly appropriate.  (Are there any campaign tactics that are not appropriate with these people?  Murder accusations against Romney are also Obama-approved.)

Mitt Romney has been hitting his stride lately on the campaign trail, fighting back against Obama's barrage of negativity.  Here's part of what he said at a recent campaign event in Ohio (partly in response to Biden's above quote):

In 2008, Candidate Obama said, "if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters." He said, "if you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from." And that, he told us, is how, "You make a big election about small things." 
That was Candidate Obama describing the strategy that is the now the heart of his campaign. 
His campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the Presidency. Another outrageous charge came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower. 
This is what an angry and desperate Presidency looks like. 
President Obama knows better, promised better and America deserves better. 
Over the last four years, this President has pushed Republicans and Democrats as far apart as they can go. And now he and his allies are pushing us all even further apart by dividing us into groups. He demonizes some. He panders to others. His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then cobble together 51 percent of the pieces.  
If an American president wins that way, we all lose.
I think Romney is exactly correct.  Obama's re-election strategy all along has been to distract attention from the big issues, destroy his opponents with a barrage of negativity, and divide the American people by pandering to specific racial and gender groups (war on women, amnesty for illegal immigrants, gay marriage, etc.).  Romney needs to stay on the attack the rest of the campaign.

Of course, the media continues to stand as the biggest obstacle to a Romney victory.  Shannen Coffin of National Review's The Corner blog points out the biased way in which The Washington Post has covered this back-and-forth between the candidates.  There has been little coverage of the Obama team's outrageous claims, but when Romney finally fights back with far less outrageous responses The Post makes a front page news story about how Romney is "lashing out" with some of the "harshest rhetoric of his campaign." 

Meanwhile, many in the media have been doing their best to confuse the American public about Paul Ryan and the Medicare debate as well.  As an example, Patrick Brennan of National Review points out the dishonesty of CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien in regurgitating false Democratic talking points about Paul Ryan's plan and ObamaCare under the guise of objective fact-checking.  It is worth reading Brennan's articles here and here to inform yourself of the kind of subtle bias that we are facing from the media in this campaign season.

Finally, on a somewhat unrelated note, there was a shooting at the Family Research Council's headquarters in Washington, DC yesterday.  The shooter was a volunteer for The DC Center for the LGBT Community and shouted out something about FRC's values of hate before wounding a security guard.  I think this shooting is significant.  Much of the media has been echoing the vicious claims of the gay rights community that Christian groups like the Family Research Council are "hate groups" and homophobic bigots because of their opposition to gay marriage and support for the traditional family.  Left-wing groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center even produced a specific listing of "hate groups" that includes the Family Research Council.  So what a surprise.  The media makes them a huge target, and now a mentally unstable individual steeped in this rhetoric goes out and shoots somebody.  Even worse are the multitudes of Twitter responses (well documented by twitchy.com here) that condemn the shooting while suggesting that FRC had it coming to them and even suggesting a moral equivalency between the hatred of the shooter and the "hateful" beliefs of FRC.  Unbelievable.  I am not one to blame an entire group of people based on the unhinged actions of a single individual, but I think the way the media has tried to tar anyone who believes marriage is between a man and a woman as a hateful bigot is shameful and this shooting may well be a consequence of that.

UPDATE: I assumed that the media would largely ignore the FRC story, but I have actually been surprised how much coverage it seems to have gotten, from the front page of The Washington Post to MSM radio. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Government slows recovery

Dr. Tracy Miller, one of my old professors at Grove City College, has a good piece in Forbes entitled "Government Policy Restrains An Economic Recovery Launched by the 2008 Recession."  It lays the problems with government interference in the economy out well.  It's great to see such clear thinking in a mainstream publication. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

The R&R Ticket

Mitt Romney made one of the most important decisions of his campaign on Saturday.  He selected Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his Vice Presidential candidate.  Who is Paul Ryan, and is he a good pick?

I was very surprised by this pick.  I felt quite sure that Romney would make a "safe" choice -- one that would be fairly vanilla and non-controversial.  This is because I have felt from the beginning that Romney wanted to coast to victory as the default candidate and felt he could win simply by keeping the focus on Obama's awful economy.  Well, I was wrong.  Paul Ryan is a "big risk, big reward" type of choice.  By picking Ryan, Romney seems to be sending a message that he wants to run an ideas-driven campaign and make this election a stark choice between two visions for the country.

Several cons could be mentioned about Ryan -- he doesn't clearly deliver any state to Romney, he has never won a statewide election, and he like Romney is not overly charismatic.  But by far the biggest reason Ryan is a risky choice is because of the budget plans that Ryan has spearheaded in the House.  These budgets are the first serious attempt anyone in Washington has made to combat the runaway growth of entitlement spending and to reform programs like Medicare, and they make Ryan an easy target for demagoguery.  Democrats now have an opportunity to take the attention away from Obama's dismal record by running Mediscare ads 24/7 targeting seniors.  Democrats have had success with this strategy in the past -- most notably in 1995-1996.  Seniors are the most reliable voting bloc in the country and comprise an large percentage of voters in several key swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania.  If the Democrats are able to convince a significant number of them that Romney & Ryan want to take away their Medicare, then Obama has a clear path to victory despite his poor job approval numbers.  That is why so many Democrats expressed glee over Romney's choice and started attacking him even before he was officially announced.

The good news is that the truth is on the side of the GOP on this issue.  The facts are that the 2012 Ryan budget, which Romney has endorsed, does not take away anyone's Medicare.  No one age 55 or older will be affected at all by the Medicare reforms, and those under age 55 are guaranteed the same health coverage at no extra cost to them under this plan.  The plan's cost savings come not from making future Medicare recipients pay more out of pocket for their coverage, but rather from unleashing the power of free market competition into the Medicare system.  The only risk associated with Ryan's plan is the risk that it may not reform Medicare enough to completely avert a debt crisis.  There can be no debating that it is better than the status quo.  Yuval Levin has an outstanding article on National Review's website explaining exactly what Ryan's plan proposes with regard to Medicare and why it is such a good idea.  I highly recommend it.

The Democrats are simply lying about Ryan's plan.  They have no plan to save Medicare and control entitlement spending.  In fact, their beloved ObamaCare raids $700 billion from Medicare.  They have no solution themselves, so they are going all in to demagogue a very good solution by the Republican team.  The good news is that Romney and his supporting PAC's are flush with cash and should be able to at least match and probably exceed Obama's level of spending over the final two and a half months of the campaign.  Republicans have the ability to win this argument and absolutely must do so -- both to win the election and to save our country from a debt crisis.  Romney's instincts have always been to play it safe, but he has no choice now but to fight back hard and to win this important debate on the issues.

There are plenty of upsides to having Paul Ryan as the Vice Presidential candidate.  He is young and energetic, yet has plenty of experience in government.  He helps to unite the Republican base around Romney, since he is a strong fiscal and social conservative.  His working class background is a nice contrast to Romney, and he is well-liked on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill.  Most importantly, Ryan is a brilliant and innovative thinker who understands the ins and outs of fiscal policy as well as anyone in Washington -- and can articulate his ideas very effectively.  Here is a video of Ryan debating Obama at the White House health care summit that shows his impressive grasp of the important issues facing the country.

Perhaps George Will put it best when he said that Romney "chose a running mate whose seriousness about large problems and ideas underscores what the president has become — silly and small."  Ryan is an intellectual heavyweight who will help Romney keep the focus of the campaign on the important issues of the economy, repealing ObamaCare, reforming entitlements, controlling spending, and reducing the deficit.  Ryan helps to underscore that Obama and the Democrats have no serious plan with regard to the deficit and entitlements.  Right now, Obama's team is overconfident.  Their non-stop attacks on Romney and Ryan will backfire if Romney and his supporters can effectively communicate their positive vision for the country.  If they play their cards right, the electorate will face a stark choice in November between a Republican ticket with real ideas to fix our economy and get our deficit under control and a Democratic ticket with a failed economic record and nothing to offer but blistering negativity.  If the American people don't have the sense to reject Obama under those circumstances, then we deserve what we get.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Romney's "War on Women"

According to ABC News, Obama has decided to return to a previous theme of his campaign: Romney and the GOP's "war on women."  He is focusing on "women's health issues" during a campaign swing through Colorado and also in a barrage of TV ads running in several key swing states.  Introducing him at one of his Colorado rallies was Sandra Fluke, who has become an "activist for women and women's health" since getting her 5 minutes of fame earlier this year from her controversial testimony before members of Congress.  Fluke has also penned a column in the Huffington Post entitled "Why I'm Standing With President Obama Today," in which she warns about how "this election decides whether years of struggle for basic health care rights that so many women fought for will be rolled back."  In case it wasn't clear enough, she comes back to this line again at the end of the article when she tells us that Romney "promises to turn back the clock on women's rights and our access to health care."

So what exactly have Romney and the GOP done to warrant these charges?  According to the articles I linked to, it appears the GOP war on women comes down to three things: Romney's promise to repeal ObamaCare; his opposition to the Department of Health & Human Services mandate that employers must pay for health insurance that includes coverage for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs for their employees, even if it violates the employer's religious beliefs; and his support for ending taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.  Another issue that I have heard Obama talk about is the notion that Romney opposes equal pay for women because of GOP opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was passed by a Democratic Congress in 2009.  Let's look at these issues one at a time.

Of course, it is laughable to reduce the huge issue of ObamaCare to a "women's issue" just because women may get certain "free" benefits as a result of that legislation.  There are many legitimate reasons to oppose ObamaCare for the sake of the entire country, including federal spending and deficit concerns, concerns about government control of health care, possible future health care rationing, likely reductions in the quality of care, expanded government power to force people to buy a product, and the burden that the additional taxes and regulations will place on individuals and businesses as well as the economy at large.  To boil down this issue to nothing more than free breast cancer screenings for women is silly.

The "contraception mandate" is the second issue Obama is campaigning on.  Conservatives are opposed to this mandate because of the government coercion of private businesses and because of the threat to religious liberty by forcing individuals to pay for something that they believe is morally wrong.  The handwringing by the Left about how evil Republicans want to "take away women's birth control" is ridiculous.  No one wants to ban contraceptives.  This is not about whether women should be denied the right to use birth control, but about whether the government should be able to mandate that all of us pay for contraception through our insurance premiums -- and more specifically whether organizations like Catholic hospitals and charities should be forced to pay for contraception for their employees in defiance of their conscience. 

It is ironic that Obama and the Democrats have chosen Sandra Fluke as their spokeswoman on this issue.  Fluke is from a wealthy, privileged family, attended one of the top law schools in the country, and is virtually guaranteed a six-digit salary.  The Democrats like to talk about the 1%.  Well, Sandra Fluke is part of the 1%.  Yet she whined in her testimony before members of Congress about how unfair it was that she had to pay for her own birth control (based on her free choice to attend a Catholic school) and how her friends (other privileged young women also attending one of the top law schools in the country) were miserable because they were forced to spend up to $3,000 per year on contraceptives.  Well cry me a river.  A month's supply of birth control can easily be purchased without insurance for $20 or $30.  If women need special contraceptive drugs for non-contraceptive medical reasons, religious organizations are willing to provide them with insurance that pays for them.  Why should the government mandate that all of us pay higher premiums to finance people's sex lives?  No one is trying to tell these women what to do with their own bodies or denying them their right to birth control access.  We are just politely asking them to take responsibility for their own choices and pay for their own dang birth control (or get their boyfriends to pay for it, or choose one of many insurance plans that cover contraceptives or one of many employers who pay for such insurance plans).  Which brings us to another irony.  Democrats constantly accuse Republicans of "wanting the government to get involved in people's bedrooms," yet they are the ones that are injecting government into this issue.  Republicans are the ones who want to keep government out of people's bedrooms.

Then there is the issue of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  Democrats have tried hard to paint Planned Parenthood as primarily an organization that provides basic health care for poor women and might provide an abortion or two on the side if necessary.  This is completely false, as a March 2011 Chiaroscuro Foundation report demonstrates.  Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S., performing about 25% of all abortions.  The number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood has gone up proportionally to the amount of taxpayer funds provided to it by the federal government.  Abortions provide more than 37% of Planned Parenthood's total revenue, and the organization has been aggressively expanding its abortion operations over the past few years.  About 98% of all Planned Parenthood services to preganant women are abortion services.  In 2009, the organization performed over 332,000 abortions and had only 7,000 prenatal care clients and less than 1,000 adoption referrals (and those non-abortion preganancy services are declining).  Planned Parenthood is not a significant primary health care provider for women -- less than 20,000 of its 3 million clients received primary care services.  They don't provide mammograms, for example; they only refer their clients for them. 

Worst of all, Planned Parenthood is a corrupt organization.  It has been found guilty in courts of law for failing to comply with state parental notification laws and for failing to provide informed consent to a 13-year-old girl impregnated by her much older coach.  It has covered up cases of statutory rape and incest.  Its staff has been caught on video more than once cooperating with sex trafficking of minors and coaching young girls not to reveal the ages of the men who impregnated them. Despite all of this corruption, Planned Parenthood is a $1 billion organization that has the lobbying clout on Capitol Hill to keep the federal dollars flowing into its coffers and has successfully bullied smaller organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation into continuing to fund its abortion-centered operations.

So tell me again, President Obama, why taxpayers should be funding this corrupt abortion provider?  And why opposing such funding is "anti-woman"?

Finally, Obama's claim that Romney is against equal pay for women because of GOP opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is ridiculous.  For more than 40 years, U.S. law has mandated that men and women be paid equally for equal work.  No one on the Republican side, least of all Mitt Romney, is arguing that these laws should be revoked.  However, the Lilly Ledbetter Act goes far beyond that by essentially eliminating any time limit on pay discrimination lawsuits.  It was named for a woman who lost a sex discrimination case before the Supreme Court because she waited more than 5 years after she found out she was earning less than her male co-workers before bringing her discrimination lawsuit. 

Stuart Taylor has a readable and extremely insightful column on this topic in National Journal that I highly recommend.  He points out that the Ledbetter law is a bonanza for trial lawyers, but is harmful for business because it makes it "harder than ever for employers to defend themselves against bogus (as well as valid) discrimination claims, effectively adding to the cost of each new hire" and thus indirectly harming workers, both male and female.  And there is no need for such legislation, because the data indicates that "the gender gap can be explained to a large extent by nondiscriminatory factors" such as "child-related factors, demographics, academic majors, work experience, and occupational characteristics."  While reasonable people may be able to disagree on whether the Ledbetter Act is a good idea or not, it is laughable to claim as Obama does that anyone who opposes it is in favor of discrimination against women. 

So in summary, Romney's "war on women" is nothing more than a fiction invented by the Obama campaign to try to peel female votes away from Romney.  On each of these issues, Romney's positions are not anti-woman at all, but are instead positions that are good for all Americans -- men and women alike. 

I am not a woman, but I am blessed to have a number of wonderful women in my life, including a wife, a mother, a mother-in-law, and several sisters-in-law.  And I can tell you for a fact that all of these women find it extremely insulting that the Obama Administration thinks that government-mandated birth control and government-funded abortion are the issues that women care about the most.  As I noted in a post from last year

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."
Democratic leaders and members of the media throw around the phrase "a woman's right to choose" as though abortion on demand is the number one priority for all women.  In fact, a recent Gallup survey found that over the past four years, an average of only 45% of all adult American women (and only 49% of women of child-bearing age) consider themselves to be "pro-choice" on the issue of abortion.  So much for women thinking monolithically on this issue.  And even many pro-choice women must consider other issues to be more important and relevant to them than taxpayer funding of abortion or mandates for religious employers to pay for contraception.  I hope that American voters have enough sense to see through this cynical ploy by Obama to distract from the most pressing issues for all Americans -- jobs and economic growth, quality health care and education, entitlement reform, a sensible energy policy, and checks on federal spending and the growth of the deficit.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Locavore's Dilemma

Certain current food fads (all organic- though I realize there can be legitimate health reasons in some few cases- and locavorism) are among my biggest pet peeves. In fact, I have to be careful whom I talk to about them.  I get frustrated because people who should know better seem to think these are the best ideas ever thought of, and they don't think of the bigger picture problems that could result.  

Ever since I watched Food, Inc. I have been hoping someone would write more to refute it.  Even internet searches for articles with sound economics arguing against these dangerous ideas didn't yield much.  If I could have I would have written more myself, but all I could manage were a couple blog posts.

But recently I came across The Locavore's Dilemma.  I haven't read it yet (I placed a library hold immediately), but based on this review I'm hopeful it includes some good, sound economics on why current fads in food thought are unsound and even dangerous, and the real path to success in truly free markets.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thoughts on Harry Reid and Mitt Romney

There are few people in politics for whom I have less respect than Harry Reid.  He ranks even below Barack Obama in my book.  He has been an embarrassment to his country and his party for years.  During the Bush Administration, he called President Bush a "loser" while speaking to a class of school age children, and he stated on the Senate floor that the U.S. had lost the war in Iraq while our troops were still fighting and in harm's way.  He made crass comments about Obama being a light-skinned Negro with no dialect during the 2008 election campaign, and he compared opponents of ObamaCare to supporters of slavery and segregation on the Senate floor.  Under his "leadership," the Senate hasn't passed a budget in several years.  Yet the Democrats are happy to have him as the highest-ranking Democrat in Congress and the public face of their party. 

Reid's latest outrage is to claim that Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes in 10 years, claiming some secret source connected to Bain Capital.  This claim is ridiculous on its face, since there have been no audits or investigations by the IRS.  Reid has no evidence to back up his claim and refuses to name his source.  When challenged about it, Reid demonstrated his legal prowess by saying the burden of proof was on Romney to disprove this ridiculous allegation.  It seems pretty obvious to me that Reid is just making up claims out of thin air, since he knows the only way to disprove them is for Romney to release his tax returns for the past ten years and Romney has already said he will not do that.  Remember, the man doing this is the Senate Majority Leader. 

Not surprisingly, conservatives are unloading on Reid.  Rich Lowry calls Reid a "malicious hack" who cares nothing about his "reputation, [his] institution, or the truth."  The Wall Street Journal editorial page refers to Reid's accusations as "a smear from the fever swamps."  But interestingly, Reid is facing some harsh criticism from the Left as well.  Liberal Richard Cohen of The Washington Post, for example, wrote a column entitled "Harry Reid's Gutter Politics" in which he surprisingly unloads not just on Reid, but also on the Democrats in the Senate and the Obama campaign team for supporting Reid.  Cohen writes:

For Reid, this is yet another brazen and tasteless partisan attack. As majority leader, he has managed to sink the public image of the Senate even lower than it would otherwise be. He contributes to bad feelings, gridlock and the sense — nay, the reality — that everything is done for political advantage....  He is the face of the Democratic Party in the Senate and the ally of President Obama. Yet, not a single Democrat has had the spine to rebuke Reid. The White House has been given the chance and explicitly ducked its duty....  Reid has managed to draw both his party and his president into the gutter with him. When Reid accuses the Republicans of being overly partisan, he now lacks all credibility....  As for Obama, he is tarnished by this episode. The fresh new face that promised us all a different kind of politics is suddenly looking cheesy. The soaring rhetoric that Obama used in his first campaign has come to ground in the mud of Harry Reid’s latter-day McCarthyism.
Wow.  When you are getting this kind of blistering criticism from the Left, you know you have crossed a line.  Perhaps this explains why yesterday, finally, Obama's press secretary started to back away from Reid's comments.

I also wanted to briefly comment on Romney's response to the Chick-Fil-A controversy.  For those who haven't heard, Romney was asked for his opinion on Friday about Chick-Fil-A as well as Michele Bachmann's allegations about the Muslim Brotherhood's infiltration of the federal government.  Romney refused to comment on either one, stating that "those are not things that are part of my campaign." 

At least with regard to Chick-Fil-A (haven't researched the other topic enough to have an informed opinion), I think this was a mistake, both on the merits and on the politics of the issue.  I have already written extensively about my opinion on the merits of this issue.  I think Romney also missed a big opportunity here politically.  I understand that he wants to keep the focus of his campaign on the economy, but that doesn't mean he can never discuss other issues that come up.  He didn't even have to get into the issue of the definition of marriage.  All he needed to say was that the Democratic mayors were out of line in trying to deny Chick-Fil-A the right to operate in their cities.  It would have been hard even for the left-wing media to twist that statement into something controversial, while at the same time it would have encouraged Romney's conservative base that he understood the free speech and government control issues behind this "gay" controversy.  Romney has already come out in support of traditional marriage, so it's not like the gay rights activists pushing for the Chick-Fil-A boycott are going to vote for him anyway.  Or, as Dennis Prager points out, he could have made an even stronger statement by eating lunch at Chick-Fil-A and dessert at Ben & Jerry's, and in so doing attempt to draw an even sharper distinction between himself and the Democrats on the issue of freedom.  By refusing to say anything at all, Romney is reinforcing the concerns that many on the Right have about him -- that he is a squish who avoids controversy at any cost and cannot be counted on to stand up for issues that we care about.  The massive Chick-Fil-A turnout last week shows that this is an issue that the Republican base is passionate about, and Romney would have been wise not to just brush it aside.  Romney failed to swing at a soft pitch that should have been hit out of the park, and I think that says something worrisome about his political instincts (possibly his principles as well).

UPDATE: Apparently Jim Geraghty of Campaign Spot shares my extreme frustration with the dirty tactics of the Democrats.  He has a great blog post entitled "Wanted: A Running Mate Who Will Fight Back, With Passion!"  He cites a recent Obama campaign that accuses Romney of killing a woman.  Yes, you read that right.  Obama is running ads claiming Mitt Romney killed someone.  That's the kind of opponent we're up against.  Geraghty is right.  We need a fighter.

Monday, August 6, 2012

"The Hollow Republic"

I recommend this interesting and thoughtful piece from National Review's Yuval Levin entitled "The Hollow Republic."  Levin points out that the policies of Obama and the Left are diminishing and damaging civil society, which has always been one of the keys to America's greatness.  In Obama's vision of America, nothing seems to stand between the individual and the all-powerful state.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Romney's Terrible Overseas Trip?

The media consensus has clearly been that Romney's recent overseas trip to England, Israel, and Poland was a gaffe-filled disaster.  Rich Lowry, Charles Krauthammer, and Marc Thiesson disagree.  Rich Lowry's Politico opinion column points out the extreme bias in press coverage of the trip, Charles Krauthammer's syndicated column praises Romney for substantive successes in Poland and Israel (two important allies that Obama has treated with contempt), and Marc Thiessen of The Washington Post notes that Romney's much-maligned comment about Israeli culture compared to Palestinian culture was completely accurate. 

I'd rather have a President who gaffes by speaking the truth awkwardly than a President who gaffes by stating un-American points of view.  (Think "You didn't build that" and "spreading the wealth around.")

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day


I participated in Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day by buying from Chick-Fil-A for breakfast and dinner yesterday.  There was already a small line at 6:30 am when I went through the drive-through for a breakfast burrito.  Dinner was a different story though.  I got there around 6:00 pm and the drive-through line was wrapped all the way around the building across the parking lot and out onto the main road.  I had to drive to the other end of the strip mall area to avoid traffic and find a parking spot.  The line of people waiting to order stretched all the way to the outside door, and the entire counter area was swarming with people waiting for their food.  It was definitely a ethnic microcosm of my county  -- whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians.  The employees were working hard and being very efficient but it was hard for them to keep up.  I waited about 10 minutes to order and another 45 minutes or so for my food to come.  Despite the crowds and the wait time I saw no employees or customers being hateful or disagreeable.  It was pretty obvious why we were all there waiting an hour for a chicken sandwich, even though no one really said it in so many words.  We were there to make a statement in support of free speech and Chick-Fil-A, and for many of us (not all), traditional marriage as well.

Apparently, this exact scenario was played out all around the company, judging from these reports and photos.  It is especially ironic how long the lines were at Chick-Fil-A locations near Boston and Chicago, two of the cities whose mayors attacked the restaurant chain.  The Daily Mail link in particular plays up the protests, but I suspect they were few and far between and pretty sparsely attended.  I live in a very liberal area and I saw no protests at all at my Chick-Fil-A.  Gay rights activists have scheduled a "kiss-in" at Chick-Fil-A locations nationwide on Friday, so maybe that will be a different story.  But I doubt they will come anywhere near matching the turnout in favor of Chick-Fil-A yesterday.

Liberal agenda and Perception

I've watched the first few episodes of a new series on TNT called Perception.  It is about a troubled genius and neuroscience professor Daniel Pierce (similar situation to the movie A Beautiful Mind) who helps the FBI solve cases using his knowledge (and personal experience) of psychology, mental disorders, and human behavior.  While I find it fascinating and I like the actors, my husband can't stand to watch it because of the extreme liberal agenda.  I just finished watching the episode from Monday night, which involves a Monsanto-like agricultural company that forced farmers out of business and into foreclosure.  The corporate giants are evil and the "little man" may in fact be somewhat justified in taking extreme vengeance.

While I have heard there may be some problems with Monsanto's business practices (I don't know much about this issue), that doesn't justify murder and they are not necessarily the corporate norm.  Television shows like this want us to sympathize with the downtrodden, the 99%.  We can sympathize, and certainly there are situations in which people are taken advantage of by big business, but this isn't the fault of the capitalist system.  This is a function of living in a fallen world and of too much government intervention in business. 

Spoiler Alert: Just in case the liberal bias wasn't glaring enough for the viewer, at the end of the episode the producers throw another hint out.  Pierce is trying to talk the murderer down from a hostage situation and prevent him from blowing up two innocent people, himself, and the professor.  Pierce understands how this man feels and how he's been wronged and is trying to prevent more lives lost.  The FBI SWAT team is outside, and they have a sniper in position ready to shoot this poor wronged individual (and save 3 other lives in the process) as soon as he goes in front of a window.  The sniper is wearing a "Don't Tread on Me" baseball cap.  Hmm, you think they got their point across?