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

Saturday, September 29, 2012


My husband and I walked through downtown Frederick today. We were walking past the "Pop Shop" where he happened to glance into the window at a display of historic/classic glass-bottled soft drinks. After we passed he asked me "Did you see that?" So of course we went back to look.

When I saw it I had to go in and see if they were really selling them. They were, and I consider it $2 very well spent. I can't wait to take it to class and show my economics students. Hopefully they'll be entertained as much as I am! (Or at least a little bit, since I fully realize I'm showing my dorkiness here...)

I'm not a good enough photographer to get a picture of every slogan written on the bottle, so here they are:
"Leninade: A taste worth standing in line for!"
"Get really hammered & sickled!" (It's just soda, honest!)
"Join the party!"
"Drink comrade! Drink! It's this or the gulag!"
"A party in every bottle!"
"Surprisingly satisfying simply Soviet style soda."
Something in Russian...
"Beware the repressed Communist Party animal who is really a proletarian in denial masquerading as a bourgeois Cold War monger!"
"Our 5-Year Plan: Drink a bottle a day for five years and become a Hero of Socialist Flavor."
 "Misha, chill down this bottle & chill out!"
"Imagine all the soda."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Disturbing Pattern of Obama's Administration in Responding to Terrorism

I found this blog post by Jim Geraghty of The Campaign Spot to be chillingly insightful.  Geraghty points out that there have been four major terrorist attacks or attempted attacks on U.S. soil over the past few years, and in EVERY CASE the Obama Administration issued statements in response to those attacks attempting to mislead the public, mischaracterize the facts, and downplay or deny the clear links to Islamic terrorism.  If this had only happened once or twice, it might be possible to chalk it up to honest mistakes, but the fact that it has happened in every case seems to make it clear that it is a deliberate pattern of deception. 

Geraghty links to an excellent The Weekly Standard article by Stephen Hayes which goes into more details about the Obama Administration's claims in the wake of the recent embassy attacks in Libya and Egypt.  After documenting a long list of the false claims coming out of the Administration and demonstrating how they played right into the hands of the Islamic extremists who attacked our embassies, Hayes sums up his case thusly: "Four Americans were killed in a premeditated terrorist attack on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, and for more than a week the Obama administration misled the country about what happened. This isn’t just a problem. It’s a scandal."  He concludes by noting that "the defining characteristics of [Obama's] foreign policy have been mendacity, incompetence, and, yes, stupidity."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"The Obama Democrats"

NOTE: As Some Dude pointed out in the comments section, this is a doctored photo.  But I think it effectively mocks the Democrats for their celebration of abortion at their convention, and therefore I would describe it as "fake but accurate."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Austrian Economics in a Nutshell

The Foundation for Economic Education is kicking off Austrian Economics Week (which until now I didn't know existed) on their Facebook page with 10 ideas that define Austrian Economics from Peter Boettke: 

1. Only individuals choose.
2. The study of the market order is fundamentally about exchange behavior and the institutions within which exchanges take place.
3. The “facts” of the social sciences are what people believe and think.
4. Utility and costs are subjective.

5. The price system economizes on the information that people need to process in making their decisions.
6. Private property in the means of production is a necessary condition for rational economic calculation.
7. The competitive market is a process of entrepreneurial discovery.
8. Money is nonneutral.
9. The capital structure consists of heterogeneous goods that have multispecific uses that must be aligned.
10. Social institutions often are the result of human action, but not of human design.
For more detailed information on each of these points, check out the article by Dr. Boettke at the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. I thought this was a great summary of ideas that, while difficult to pin down, are essential to solving the current economic crisis we are experiencing.  

Kickoff of 40 Days for Life

On Saturday, my wife and I attended the opening rally for the 40 Days for Life event in our area.  For those who may have missed my previous posts about it, 40 Days for Life is an event that occurs simultaneously in more than 300 cities internationally every spring and fall.  The goal is to maintain an around-the-clock, peaceful, prayerful vigil outside of abortion clinics for 40 days.  Over a dozen Catholic and Protestant churches in our area are involved in the Germantown, MD 40 Days for Life.  Individuals who want to be involved can sign up to hold a sign and pray outside an abortion clinic for one or more hour-long time slots over that 40 day period.

For those who question the effectiveness of 40 Days for Life and peaceful protests and prayer vigils outside of abortion clinics, here are some numbers to think about.  As a direct result of 40 Days for Life campaigns:
  • 5,928 babies have been saved from being aborted
  • 69 abortion clinic workers have left their jobs and the abortion industry
  • 24 abortion clinics have been permanently shut down
There were a couple of moments at the meeting on Saturday that grabbed me emotionally.  The first was when a woman named Cherie got up to speak, holding her 2-month old baby Jordan.  She said that while she was pregnant, her father had been indicted and was about to go to prison, leaving her with a mortgage, no job, and a two-year-old child.  She felt that her only option was abortion, so she went to the late-term abortion clinic in Germantown to set up an appointment to abort Jordan.  When she arrived the clinic was closed.  A volunteer from Germantown Pregnancy Choices, the pro-life center across the street from the clinic, saw Cherie standing there and invited her in for cocoa.  In her words, she "went in and never left."  After talking with the caring women at the pro-life center and hearing that they were able to connect her with a crisis pregnancy center and a church that could help and support her financially and emotionally, she made the decision to keep her baby.  It was evident how certain she was that she had made the right decision and how thankful she was for the pro-life volunteers and churches that had helped her at a point in her life when she felt all alone.

The second emotionally powerful moment was when the founder of 40 Days for Life, David Bereit, spoke and explained how the event was started.  Bereit got the idea from a friend, who told him that if Christians really believed what they claimed to believe about abortion killing an innocent human life, they would be outside of abortion clinics protesting and seeking to rescue lives 24/7.  When Bereit started the first 40 Days for Life in 2004, his friend signed up to stand outside the clinic in College Station, Texas all night every night for the entire 40 day period and brought other friends with him to his all-night vigils.

Much later, Bereit found out why his friend was so passionate about this issue.  Shortly before he had talked to Bereit, the friend had witnessed the death of his father.  He was the only family member who came to be with his father as he was dying.  For several days, he sat by his father's bedside to pray with him, and every time his father would insist that they pray for an end to abortion.  Finally, he asked his dad why this was the only thing he wanted to pray about.  Then his dad told him a story he had never heard before.  When the dad was in his late teens he got a girl pregnant, and he urged the girl to have an abortion to make sure their parents didn't find out.  He prepaid the bill and made an appointment to meet her outside of the clinic on the day the abortion was to happen, but she had second thoughts and never showed up.  He continued to pressure her to have the abortion but she continued to refuse.  Eventually she had the baby and they ended up getting married.  As you might have guessed, that son sitting by his dad's deathbed was the child that he had wanted to abort!  And now, many years later, that son was the only family member who came to be with him as he was dying.

I think it is so critical for people to hear about these stories, because they need to understand that real human lives are at stake.  It is easy to shrug off abortion when the victims are nameless and faceless, but it is much harder to ignore when people are confronted with true stories of real people.  This is why I think this video from Kelly Stauffer, who had an abortion when she was 14, is more powerful than a thousand logical arguments.

Please pray that God will use 40 Days for Life this year in a powerful way to change people's hearts and minds on this issue.  And please check out their website here to see if there is a campaign in your area that you can get involved in!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Minimum Wage Kills Jobs

I was appalled this week when Bill O'Reilly had John Stossel on his show to discuss minimum wage laws. O'Reilly actually said he believes the minimum wage should be $16 an hour, and he would not be reasoned out of it. He even proposed some kind of system in which the government would give businesses a tax credit to enable to them to pay a minimum wage of $16. Basically, the government pays peoples wages. Unfortunately I am unable to find a video of the interview. Apparently, according to O'Relly, Stossel had called him a "loon." I'd have to agree.

While I disagree with O'Reilly on many things, I tend to respect many of his opinions. I thought he was intelligent and reasonable enough not to support something as basically flawed as the minimum wage. Unfortunately, while many economists recognize that the minimum wage kills jobs (see the following video), much of the American public does not understand.

Watch the video for some excellent analysis of why the minimum wage is such a flawed idea. In addition to the points mentioned in the video, with a minimum wage business owners are more likely to automate systems which they would have paid a worker to operate had there been no minimum wage. That's one less job for entry-level and low-skilled workers (especially teenagers) to gain valuable work experience, helping them move up in the world and eventually use those skills to earn even more money. Not to mention some business owners might be forced to move jobs and even their entire business overseas where the labor comes at a lower cost.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What does QE3 mean for Main Street?

So what's the big deal about QE3? Dr. Jeffrey Herbener, chair of the department of economics at Grove City College, and Lee Wishing of the Center of Vision and Values shed some light in this video:  
Main Street USA and the Fed from Center for Vision and Values

Monday, September 17, 2012

Not On Obama Administration's Agenda: Fighting Terrorism, Defending Free Speech, or Maintaining Ethical Standards

In this excellent editorial, The Wall Street Journal explores the laughable claims of the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice that the attacks on U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East do not constitute terrorist attacks against the U.S. and have nothing to do with U.S. policy but are merely a spontaneous response to that "very hateful, very offensive" obscure video that was posted on YouTube six months ago.  Rice's "blame America" view is contradicted by the evidence and by Libyan officials.  Apparently this administration's idea of responding to foreign terrorist attacks against Americans consists primarily of denying that any such attacks occurred, pressuring a private company (Google) to remove an "offensive" video from its website and of sending authorities to the filmmaker's house in the middle of the night to bring him in for questioning.  That should a send a powerful message to our enemies around the world!

In light of these attacks against this filmmaker's free speech, you might be worried that the Obama Administration would entertain the idea of criminalizing speech against religions such as Islam.  I don't think this disturbing video from Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez's testimony before Congress a couple of months ago will do anything to allay such fears:

Well, even if the Obama Administration doesn't seem too concerned about responding forcefully to terrorism or defending American's free speech, at least it is taking great pains to be free of corruption and ethics violations, right?  Or...not.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blatantly violated the Hatch Act by using taxpayer funds to campaign for Obama's re-election at an official HHS event.  Not surprisingly, she faces no disciplinary action from President Obama.

"The Abandonment"

We also found out this past week that Obama denied a request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with him, apparently claiming his schedule was too busy. Yet, on the very day in question, Obama managed to find time in his schedule to appear on the David Letterman Show! At least we know what his priorities are.

Charles Krauthammer has an outstanding column on NRO called "The Abandonment."  I highly recommend it.  Krauthammer explains clearly and concisely how Obama's policy on Iran is utterly incoherent and is a miserable failure.  He also shows how this policy constitutes not just a danger to our own country's national security but a complete abandonment of our closest ally in the region, Israel.

Obama's weakness toward Iran and indifference toward Israel are two more reasons why he must not be re-elected.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Constitution Day

The Constitution was signed at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787.  You can find a quick refresher course here, including the full text of the Constitution and an option to download it.  I encourage you to read it and think about it.  Few seem to have read it today, and many of those who have done so like to embrace the "spirit of encroachment" and "change by usurpation" that George Washington warns us about below.  I hope and pray that these next few years we will see a return to these principles on which our country was founded.   

"It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield."
~George Washington's Farewell Address, 1796

Some Thoughts on the Past Week's Events -- Here and in the Middle East

Like many other Americans, I watched the unfolding events in the Middle East this week and the response from our government with concern, frustration, and anger.  I wanted to post on this earlier but had little time and too many disjointed ideas running through my head.  I am finally now getting the chance to put those ideas down on paper.

  • Why was the Obama Administration not prepared for potential attacks on the anniversary of 9/11?  The British newspaper The Independent has reported that there were credible sources warning about foreign embassy attacks 48 hours prior to their occurrence, but no warnings were given to put foreign diplomats on high alert.  Whether or not these allegations were true, shouldn't our government have anticipated the possibility of attacks on that day?  It appears the interim embassy in Libya in particular was woefully unprotected, with Libyan security forces rather than U.S. military personnel defending it.  And the Marines defending the Egyptian embassy had no ammunition.  Why did President Obama skip his daily security briefing that morning -- and every other morning since September 5th?  I realize that the president can digest the information from these briefings without having to be physically present at every one of them, but it seems like the one on the anniversary of 9/11 should have been especially important.  Maybe he could have made time for it by cancelling his appearance on a radio show hosted by "The Pimp With a Limp" that same day.  It seems that our government, from Obama on down, was napping on the job when it comes to our country's security.
  • Why did the Obama Administration apologize as its first official response to the violent protests in the Middle East?  The U.S. embassy in Cairo issued a statement apologizing for some obscure anti-Islam film produced in the U.S. and expressing sympathy for the angry protestors.  Not surprisingly, the mob went on to attack the embassy, remove and destroy the U.S. flag hanging over the embassy, and replace it with the Al Qaeda flag.  These people know weakness when they see it.  This apology was reiterated after the attacks and remained the only official government response to the Middle East violence for 9 and 1/2 hours, even after the death of our Libyan ambassador and three other Americans.  Not until after Romney came out and condemned the apology did the White House finally issue a statement distancing himself from it as well and saying it did not reflect the official policy of the Obama administration.  Later, information came out that indicated the attacks had been carefully planned for the anniversary of 9/11 (the attackers were armed with mortars) and the protests over the American film (which had already been out for a few months) were only used as a pretext and a distraction anyway.  But still, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement two days later with the same conciliatory, apologetic tone regarding the controversial American film.  As Victor Davis Hanson points out, the statements from the U.S. embassy in Cairo and from Clinton played right into the hands of our enemies who want to lay the blame for the attacks at the feet of the U.S. government.  But don't hold your breath waiting for President Apology Tour himself to hold anyone from his administration accountable for this.
  • Perhaps to cover up its own weakness and lack of preparedness, the Obama Administration quickly tried to distract attention from the important issue -- the attacks on our embassy -- by attacking Romney for "politicizing" the attacks.  As though it is inappropriate for a presidential candidate to offer a statement on an important foreign policy issue that has taken center stage during the campaign!  I, for one, would like to know Romney's opinion on this issue and I think most Americans would as well.  But of course, the lapdog press obediently followed their marching orders from Obama's campaign and launched blistering attacks on Romney as well.  The next morning, Romney held a press conference in which he elaborated on his positions on the Middle East attacks and defended his previous statement that the U.S. should not be apologizing to terrorists.  He then answered questions from the press.  The press showed their true colors in response -- 5 of their 7 questions were all variations on the exact same question about whether Romney regretted "jumping the gun" and attacking the president so quickly after the attacks on our embassies.  Our country had been attacked, and yet it was painfully obvious that American journalists had no substantive questions and were not interested in focusing on the important issues unfolding in the Middle East, but were only interested in trying to discredit Romney and score political points.  Later, audio was released of a number of the journalists conspiring to attack Romney prior to the press conference and discussing what was the best language to use in the questioning!  Clearly those questions at the press conference were no accident but were the result of careful coordination and collusion by the press.
  • Obama also gave a statement to the press the morning following the attacks, but unlike Romney, Obama took no questions at all from the press.  You tell me whether that makes Obama, the sitting president, look more or less presidential than Romney.  Obama also cancelled his daily security briefing that day -- the day after an act of war against our country.  Instead, he jetted off to a glitzy fundraiser in Las Vegas, where he barely managed to get the rowdy, adoring crowd to quiet down long enough to say a couple of sentences about the embassy attacks and the loss of four Americans before launching into full campaign mode.  No big deal that our enemies knew the location of our ambassador's safe house, dragged his body through the streets (described by Hillary Clinton as "Libyans carry[ing] Chris's body to the hospital") and stole documents with the names of Libyans who cooperated with the U.S.  It was left to Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, to assure Americans that these attacks were not an attack against America or the American people or the Obama Administration -- they were merely expressing anger against that evil filmmaker that the Obamites are so obsessed with!  How pathetic for this administration to try to claim that attacks against our embassies and our people overseas are not attacks on America.  Of course they are attacks on America, and they are attacks that deserve a strong and unapologetic response.  That is certainly not happening, as the Administration doesn't even seem willing to admit the incident in Libya was a terrorist attack and an act of war against our country.  The State Department has gone silent, citing an ongoing FBI investigation.  This is not a liquor store holdup; it's a national security crisis and an act of war against America and the American people deserve answers and accountability.  Good luck getting the press to help with that; they're too busy parsing Romney's press releases.  Some members of the press even had the audacity to blame Mitt Romney and his press conference for their failure to cover the attacks effectively!
  • These attacks show the fundamental weakness of U.S. foreign policy.  Charles Krauthammer put it this way in an interview on Fox News: "Obama himself said we’re doing a pivot out of the Middle East to the Pacific. He has proclaimed the tide of war is over. He took us out of Iraq leaving no residual force. He announced withdrawal from Afghanistan on a timetable. When it came to Arab Spring, he was indecisive. In Iran he would not support protesters. Libya, half in and half out. Everybody in the region understands that America, which had been the dominant element, is now in withdrawal, is not interested. The Gulf Arabs are apoplectic about Iran going nuclear, it’s not just Israel. Now our friends are looking around saying, ‘Do we really have anybody who will support us?’ The extreme jihadists and the moderate jihadists in the region are now saying ‘This is our time.’ I’ll give you one example of the withdrawal of our influence: Syria. Does anybody in the region ask what is the American position? Everybody wants to know what Russia is doing and thinking and what supplies it’s sending. What’s Iran doing? What is Hezbollah doing? America is irrelevant."  Krauthammer said in another interview: "What we’re seeing now is Al Qaedastan developing in Libya, a meltdown of our relations with Egypt… riots in Yemen, attacks on our embassy in Tunisia….These are the fruits of apology and retreat and lack of confidence in our own principles."
  • Obama doesn't even seem to be able to make up his mind about what he thinks about the new Egyptian government.  He said in an interview that he considers them neither an ally or an enemy, and the utter failure of their Muslim Brotherhood-led government to protect our embassy there doesn't seem to argue in favor of them being an ally.  Yet, his administration continues to push for more than $1 billion in financial aid to that country.
The thing that burns me up the most about this whole story is the Obama Administration's embarrassed and apologetic attitude toward our country's freedom of speech.  Over and over again in public statements, our government has seemed incapable of condemning the attacks without condemning Americans like Pastor Terry Jones and that now-notorious anti-Islam filmmaker in equally strong language.  As though insensitive speech from American citizens is the equivalent of an angry mob raping and murdering our U.S. ambassador and dragging him through the streets.  And this reluctance to defend free speech when it comes to criticism of Muslims seems to be pathetically widespread.  As Jonah Goldberg notes in his NRO column, an entire MSNBC panel that included a university professor agreed that the people who produced the anti-Islam video should be prosecuted and possibly jailed by the government as accessories to murder.  The ACLU, eager to defend the vilest of speech under most circumstances, has been completely quiet on this issue.  A co-worker sent me an email suggesting that "free speech was never meant to be used in such a manner," i.e. to criticize someone else's religion.

The whole point of free speech is that you have the right to say what you believe without being silenced by the government.  If you say idiotic things, you should expect to face criticism from other people who also have freedom of speech.  If you tell lies, you should expect to have other people use their freedom of speech to expose your lies.  But the notion that the 1st Amendment doesn’t protect people’s right to criticize other people’s religious beliefs or their right to say things that offend other people is ludicrous and dangerous.  I have freedom of speech to criticize your beliefs if I think they’re wrong.  You have freedom of speech to respond and defend your beliefs.  If you are offended by my free speech, you do not have the right to silence me.  Precisely because we live in a free country, this filmmaker has every right to make a movie about Islam or Mohammed.  It doesn’t matter if Muslims are offended or not – he still has the right to make the movie and express his opinion.  If the filmmaker is telling lies or expressing hate, he should expect to be harshly criticized.  If his speech is too offensive, then people will decide not to watch it and movie theatres will choose not to carry it.  That’s how freedom works.

I read attacks on the Internet against evangelical Christianity all the time.  I frequently read articles and comments that accuse all evangelical Christians of being bigoted and narrow-minded and of hating gays and science and that claim the Bible supports racism and slavery.  Plays have run in this country that ridicule "Jesus and his band of queers" and art exhibits that show a crucifix immersed in urine have been funded with taxpayer dollars.  I don’t like it when I hear people say those things about my beliefs, but I haven’t gone out and rioted or beheaded anyone.  If those people hold important positions and their speech is offensive enough then I have the right to band with other like-minded people and try to get them fired or force them to apologize or keep them from getting taxpayer money.  But I don’t deny they have the legal right under the 1st Amendment to say those hateful things.  Why are Muslims special?  Why do they have the right to demand that no one criticize them when that right is not extended to other religious groups like Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, and Jews.

Freedom of speech, religion, and the press does not exist in Muslim countries (with maybe a couple of exceptions).  If you go to almost any country in the Islamic world and start saying things that are not approved by the government, you will be imprisoned and possibly killed.  Most Muslim countries are theocracies, which means that the religious leaders are also the political leaders.  They do not allow any religion to be practiced other than Islam, which means that people who hold to other religious beliefs are persecuted, jailed, or killed.  If I go to a Muslim country and talk to them about my faith or try to convert them, I will be deported, jailed, or killed, and if they convert to my religion, they will be killed.  That is why Muslims are completely intolerant of any criticism of Islam or Mohammed.  In the world they live in, there is no freedom.  Everyone must bow to Mohammed or be silenced or killed.  In many of their nations sharia law is enforced, which means that all residents of a country must obey the precepts of the Koran.  Their religion teaches the concept of "jihad," which seeks to bring all the world under the control of Islam.  And the spread of Islam has often been through conquest and forced conversion, following the example of Mohammed.

So tell me again: why are we the ones who need to apologize?  We have freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  They do not.  Should we apologize for that?  Our country gives Muslims the right to practice their religion and proselytize; their countries do not give Christians the right to practice their religion and proselytize.  Should we apologize for that?  Our country’s people, leaders, and laws are among the most tolerant of any country on earth; theirs are among the least tolerant.  Should we apologize for that?  We permit filmmakers to make films that offend Muslims, just as we permit filmmakers to make films that offend people from any other religion.  We permit publishers to publish books with cartoons about Mohammed, just as we permit publishers to publish books with cartoons about any other religious or political figure.  Should we apologize for that?  I think we should celebrate all of these things.  There are more than 300 million people who live in this country, all of whom are saying and doing all kinds of things in freedom.  The government is not responsible for anything that any private citizen in this country says and does not need to apologize for any of it.  That includes some obscure filmmaker in LA and some obscure preacher who wants to burn the Koran in FL.  How dare our government apologize to those angry mobs on behalf of America!

The events transpiring this week show once again why Obama does not deserve another four years.  His foreign policy has been just as disastrous as his domestic policy, in my opinion.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Obama's Record, Summed Up by a Link and a Few Graphs

A recent article from National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru, entitled "Obama vs. the Constitution," does a great job summarizing the numerous ways in which Obama has shown disregard for the rule of law as president.  If Obama has behaved in this way during his first four years in office, knowing that he still has to face the voters again, it seems logical that he will be even more bold in pushing through his agenda in defiance of constitutional restraints if he is re-elected!

I also found this fascinating series of graphs that chart the employment percentage of the working-age population during and after three key recessions in recent U.S. history.  The first one is from the early 1980's, the second one is from the early 1990's, and the final one is from the last several years.  They powerfully demonstrate the utter economic failure of the Obama Administration and the need for a change in leadership.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Overheard at the Democratic Convention

I don't think I've ever watched more than 5 minutes or so of any Democratic Convention prior to this year.  But I decided to make a conscious effort to watch at least some of the speeches this time, because I wanted to be able to comment intelligently on the convention and I didn't think I could do that fairly without watching at least some of it.  And I honestly wanted to be able to compare the two conventions without depending solely on the opinions of others.  It was tough but I managed it.  I watched more than an hour of speeches each of the first two nights of the convention, although I missed both Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton.  They were both speaking quite late, and I knew I would read and hear plenty about their speeches the next day.  I was more interested in hearing the speeches outside of the 10:00 hour anyway, because those are the ones that often slip under the public radar and give a more honest impression of what is really going on at the convention.  I found much of what I saw to be disgusting, even sickening.  The thought that close to half of Americans identify themselves with this political party leads me to the inevitable conclusion that we are doomed as a country.

1. Celebration of Abortion & Homosexuality 
One of the complaints often leveled against conservatives is that they are obsessed with abortion and homosexuality.  Well.  I watched most of the speeches at the Republican Convention -- and not just the 10:00 prime time speeches either -- and I barely heard anything about either abortion or homosexuality the entire time.  The ONLY speakers I heard who made more than a passing mention of either topic were Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.  (Actually, they didn't say anything about homosexuality, but did defend traditional marriage and the family.)  By the way, I am not criticizing them for this -- I was truly glad to hear at least a couple of speakers willing to defend the party's positions on these issues!  But I hardly see how Republicans can be accused of being obsessed with these topics.  However, I did find out this week that there is one political party that is obsessed with abortion and homosexuality -- the Democratic Party.  As one pundit quipped, the Democrats only moved the venue for their Dead Baby Fiesta out of the Planned Parenthood clinic up the street because it wasn't big enough to accommodate the crowds.  Of course, they use clever euphemisms for abortion like "women's rights to control their own bodies" and "reproductive choice" and make veiled references to same-sex marriage with phrases like "being free to love whomever you choose."  Nancy Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice America gave a strident speech entirely about abortion.  She said every woman should be able to abort her child "with dignity," noted that pro-abortion Obama "cares deeply about the next generation of women" (the irony of that statement is entirely lost on her I'm sure), and ended up with "a rousing encouragement to talk to strangers about reproductive rights. That should go smoothly" (thanks, Daniel Foster of NRO!).   

Same-sex marriage (couched in language like "being free to love whomever you choose") was also front and center, led by gay Representative Jared Polis who spoke repeatedly of the son he and his partner are raising.  In fact, every speech and major video presentation I watched over an hour and 15 minute period on the first night, with one or two exceptions, included a prominent mention or discussion of both abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as most of the later speeches that I did not watch.  (The moral preening by the Democrats on the same-sex marriage issue is especially amusing, given the fact that Obama only switched his position on this issue a few short months ago.)  Abortion and contraception remained a big focus of the convention on the second night, which featured the president of Planned Parenthood, Sandra Fluke (more on her later), and the "women of the Senate."
Something that especially stood out to me from the convention is that when Democrats refer to "individual freedom/choice" or "getting the government out of people's lives" they are talking about abortion and gay marriage -- exclusively.  Keenan was introduced by one Maria Ciano ("a stay-at-home mom and former Republican voter"!) who wailed that Romney & Ryan don't believe in small government because they "want the government to have a say in [her] family planning" and "want to deny [her] the power to make the most personal decisions about [her] life."  Former Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island gave a speech saying Obama is the right choice for "conservatives" (apparently he delusionally imagines himself to be one) because he believes in individual freedom.  You guessed it -- his two individual freedom examples consisted of abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.  Choice, freedom, and small government apparently do not extend to health care or education or conscience protections for religious employers or union membership or taxation or energy policy or regulations on small business or nanny state regulations on junk food.  Conservatives, on the other hand, want choice and freedom in all these areas and many more.  We just do not think choice and personal freedom justify killing a human life or redefining an ancient social institution critical to the wellbeing of our children.  Reason TV has a great video demonstrating the extent to which Democratic Convention delegates actually believe in "choice":

2. "War on Women" Theme 
There was a huge emphasis on appealing to women at the Democratic convention, at least the portions of it that I watched.  I admit I saw a little of this at the GOP convention as well, especially from Mitt and Ann Romney.  But the Democrats were trying to develop this major theme that Republicans are waging a war on women and want to take away all their rights.  Bizarrely, actress Kerry Washington claimed that Republicans were trying to take away women's rights to vote, to get an education, to access health care, and to receive equal pay (and was wildly applauded for it too).  Ironically, a video clip of an Obama speech shown early in the convention warned that women "are not an interest group."  Yet, throughout the entire convention, women were treated like an interest group.  They were assumed to be a monolithic group whose chief concerns are abortion on demand and free contraception guaranteed by the government.  Karol Markowicz has a great piece in the New York Post in which she notes the condescension in all of this "painful pandering."  Yet, the Party of Women did a lengthy tribute video showcasing the late Senator Ted Kennedy, who drunkenly drove a woman into the bay and then left her to drown.  And they chose noted respecter-of-women Bill Clinton to give the keynote address for the second evening of the convention.  Do they think women don't care about this kind of behavior from their politicians as long as those politicians hold the right position on abortion?

3. Class Warfare
And then there was a heaping dose of class warfare.  I heard repeated attacks on Mitt Romney's personal wealth from several different speakers.  One of the worst offenders was former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who claimed that Romney was unpatriotic for earning overseas profits and having overseas investments and who made nasty and completely unfounded accusations about what Romney was hiding in his unreleased tax returns.  He also lied by claiming that Romney's tax plan would eliminate capital gains taxes on Romney's own income.  Michelle Obama spoke later that evening and assured everyone that she and her husband have never resented wealth.  OKKKK...she must have missed the rest of the convention.  On the second night, three former Bain Capital employees spoke and talked about how cruel and heartless Romney was for taking over their companies and then laying them off.  (Fact-checkers discovered that one of the three was a union negotiator who never even worked for Bain.)  Ironically, they kept saying that they understood that in the real world there are winners and losers and that sometimes it is inevitable that unprofitable companies must shut down, but they turned around and attacked Romney in the next breath for participating in such capitalist activities. and "fiscal responsibility."  Throughout the convention there were allusions to "fairness" and Republican attacks on the "working class" (by such luminaries as the presidents of the UAW and the AFL-CIO) and claims that the "system was rigged" against those working class people (Elizabeth Warren).  It was grievance politics at its finest.

4. Controversy Over God and Jerusalem
One thing that deservedly got a lot of attention was the brouhaha at the convention over changes to the party platform.  It came out on the first day of the convention that Democrats had removed the only remaining reference to God in the party platform (it was a reference to people realizing their "God-given potential" and they took out the word "God-given") and had also removed language in the platform that recognized Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel, called for the increasing isolation of terrorist group Hamas, and acknowledged the right of Israel to exist as a nation.  The platform also inserted wording that said the Democrats support legal and taxpayer-funded third-trimester abortion.  The removal of God and Jerusalem from the platform, in particular, garnered a lot of attention.  Senator Richard Durbin flipped out when asked about these changes on Fox News and started ranting about how people were trying to claim the Democratic Party was "godless."  Realizing that these changes made their party look extreme, the Democratic leadership decided to call for a voice vote to reinsert the God and Jerusalem references into the platform.  The vote required a two-thirds majority vote of "yes" for the motion to pass, but the delegates on the convention floor appeared to be equally divided between yes and no.  The presiding officer seemed startled and unsure of what to do so he tried the vote again two more times, with the exact same results.  After the third time, he summarily announced that two-thirds of the delegates had voted yes and claimed the motion had passed, and the crowd booed loudly in response.  This resulted in the headline "Democrats boo God, Jerusalem."  Of course, it's one of the worst-kept secrets in politics that many liberal activists are hostile toward the state of Israel.  Hadley Arkes pointed out on National Review Online that "God-given" rights are a key component of the Declaration of Independence and one of the most fundamental beliefs underlying the American republic.  If we give ourselves rights or if those rights are granted to us by leaders or governments, they can just as easily be taken away.  The reason our rights are unalienable and permanent is that they are given to us by our Creator God.  Once we lose that notion of human dignity and worth due to the image of God, our rights are in grave danger.      

Here is a video of the floor vote and reaction of the delegates:


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/09/04/4787078/2012-democratic-national-convention.html#storylink=cpy
5. Sandra Fluke
I watched Sandra Fluke's speech on the second night of the convention.  I was stunned that this woman was given not just a speaking slot, but a coveted prime-time speaking slot during the 10:00 hour, just a few minutes before keynoter Bill Clinton.  What is her qualification for being a prime-time speaker?  She's a 30-year-old graduate student and "activist" with no major accomplishments or life experiences other than law school.  She's only famous because she gave laughable testimony before a few Democratic congressmen about the financial hardships she and her rich friends faced because the health insurance provided for them by their Catholic law school did not cover their birth control, and she was turned into a sympathetic victim because Rush Limbaugh insulted her.  All this happened months ago, and the Democratic Party is still trying to use her as a tool in their "war on women" meme.  Her speech seemed angry to me and she continued to milk her victim status, complaining about how she was "verbally attacked" and attacking Romney for not defending her.  The whole spectacle sickened me to my stomach...it all seemed so silly and childish and unserious.  I was glad to see I was not the only one who felt this way about her speech.  Jay Nordlinger expressed so many of my feelings in his excellent NRO post about her.  And I was surprised to read these strong words from usually mild-mannered Peggy Noonan:
What a fabulously confident and ingenuous-seeming political narcissist Ms. Fluke is. She really does think—and her party apparently thinks—that in a spending crisis with trillions in debt and many in need, in a nation in existential doubt as to its standing and purpose, in a time when parents struggle to buy the good sneakers for the kids so they're not embarrassed at school . . . that in that nation the great issue of the day, and the appropriate focus of our concern, is making other people pay for her birth-control pills. That's not a stand, it's a non sequitur. She is not, as Rush Limbaugh oafishly, bullyingly said, a slut. She is a ninny, a narcissist and a fool. And she was one of the great faces of the party in Charlotte. That is extreme. Childish, too.
6. Other Observations
Lincoln Chafee, former Republican, said he left the GOP and now supports Obama because he believes in "fiscal responsibility"!  I'm really curious about what his definition of "fiscal responsibility is . . . . The DNC showed a video the first night of the convention that had this priceless line: "Government is the only thing we all belong to."  Who knew we were all owned by the government? . . . . Several speakers, including first night keynote speaker Julian Castro, claimed that Americans are better off now than they were four years ago.  I can't believe they think this is a winning message . . . .  The sheer nastiness and pettiness of the repeated and sometimes personal attacks on Romney really struck me and stood in sharp contrast to the Republican Convention last week.  Several of the GOP speakers went out of their way to say that Obama was not a bad person and all attacks on Obama stayed focused on his record.  By contrast, Democratic speakers accused Romney and the Republicans of all sorts of ridiculous things.  They even used their tribute video of Ted Kennedy to make fun of Romney.  And even Obama in his acceptance speech took cheap shots against Romney such as attacking a relatively minor gaffe he made during a trip to London.  Democrats clearly demonstrated they have no class . . . . Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the DNC, managed to demonstrate once again her extreme dishonesty and lack of class.  During the convention, she claimed in an interview that the Israeli ambassador had told her that Republican attitudes toward Israel were dangerous.  When the Israeli ambassador angrily denied ever saying such a thing, Wasserman Schultz subsequently denied ever saying that he had - until an audio tape of her initial claim surfaced.  When confronted with her two blatant lies, she refused to apologize . . . . And then there were all the extreme comments made by top delegates.  The Palm Beach County Democratic Party Chairman said that fundamentalist Christians want Jews to die.  The South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman compared the state's GOP governor Nikki Haley to Hitler's mistress Eva Braun.  The chairman of the California delegation compared Paul Ryan to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

I was struck by the crowd at the convention.  They seemed so easily manipulated, wildly cheering even the most extreme statements made by the speakers (such as the Republicans wanting to take away women's right to vote).  When Nancy Keenan gave a strident, sharp-toned, and flatly prosaic and unemotional speech on abortion, the cameras showed women in the audience crying.  I couldn't help but ask myself what was wrong with these people.  Daniel Foster of NRO summed up my thoughts this way: "Republicans don’t love Mitt Romney the way Democrats love Barack Obama. And thank God. Interacting with the delegates in Charlotte and watching them on the floor was scary. Not in a I’m-going-to-be-jumped way — they seem like good and decent folks — but in a holy-crap-these-people-worship-this-guy way. I’m pretty Hamiltonian, but I’m constitutionally incapable of revering a politician the way some of these folks revere Obama."  
Bottom line: this was a stridently left-wing convention that reflects the extreme beliefs of the leadership and the base of the Democratic Party.  On everything from abortion to health care to illegal immigration to welfare to taxes to same-sex marriage to our free market capitalistic economic system to the power of unions to the role of government to welfare, the party doubled down on left-wing ideology.  David Harsanyi summed up the convention pretty well in his column in the New Hampshire Union-LeaderI also liked Peggy Noonan's description of "the Democrats' soft extremism" in her Wall Street Journal column.  I will never for the life of me understand how anyone with Christian values or traditional American values would want to be associated with the Democratic Party I saw on display this week in Charlotte. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Republican Convention - Days 2 & 3

I also got to watch the better part of the last two evenings of the Republican convention last week.  With the exception of Rand Paul's rousing speech early in the evening in which gave a surprisingly strong endorsement of Romney, the only speeches of the second evening that stood out to me were the final three -- Condoleezza Rice, Susana Martinez, and Paul Ryan.  I was only half paying attention at the beginning of Rice's speech, but started listening more closely when I realized that she was giving a very eloquent speech that was dazzling the crowd.  She spoke more about domestic policy, including energy and education policy, than I expected.  She spoke movingly of the incredible story of her life, rising from her childhood in segregated Mississippi to become Secretary of State of the United States.  Among her best lines were these:

Ours has never been a narrative of grievance and entitlement. We have not believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well. We have not been envious of one another and jealous of each other’s success. Ours has been a belief in opportunity and a constant battle — long and hard — to extend the benefits of the American dream to all — without regard to circumstances of birth.
Susana Martinez, governor of New Mexico and the first female Hispanic governor in the U.S., spoke next and had the crowd and me cracking up with this story:

Before I ran for District Attorney, two Republicans invited my husband and me to lunch. And I knew a party-switch was exactly what they wanted.
So, I told Chuck, we'll be polite, enjoy a free lunch and then say goodbye.
But we talked about issues-they never used the words Republican, or Democrat, conservative or liberal.
We talked about many issues, like welfare - is it a way of life, or a hand-up?
Talked about the size of government -- how much should it tax families and small businesses?
And when we left that lunch, we got in the car and I looked over at Chuck and said, "I'll be damned, we're Republicans!"
But I thought the best speech, not just of the night, but of the entire convention, was Paul Ryan's acceptance speech for nomination for Vice President.  It was a brilliantly written and substantive speech and was delivered masterfully.  It was one of the most devastating critiques of Obama's first term that I have ever heard -- certainly the most effective attack on Obama's record that I heard during the entire convention.  Ryan cut through all the noise and explained simply and clearly why Obama has been a failure.  And he did so without coming across as nasty or angry.  He also managed to sound optimistic about our future and sincere about seeking to address the big problems we face, and he managed to weave in some very personal moments about his family and background as well as some lines that had me laughing out loud.  After so many years of having lackluster speakers on the Republican presidential and vice-presidential tickets, it is so refreshing to have someone on the 2012 ticket who can communicate conservative ideas effectively!  If you have not had the opportunity to watch Ryan's acceptance speech yet, I highly recommend watching it below:

One sign of the effectiveness of Ryan's speech was the fact that Obama and the media immediately began attacking Ryan for the supposed lies in his speech.  A sample media hit job on Ryan is this Yahoo article.  Not surprisingly, Yahoo was wrong and Ryan was right.  On every one of these points:

  1. Ryan claimed ObamaCare took $716 billion out of Medicare.  That is TRUE.  Of course the cuts "do not affect Medicare recipients directly," if by directly you mean that ObamaCare doesn’t literally pull cash out of people’s wallets.  ObamaCare takes money away from the Medicare program, which means lower payments to insurance plans and health providers, which means seniors’ health coverage will be directly affected.  This is an actual cut to Medicare.  The budget endorsed by the Romney-Ryan ticket eliminates those cuts to Medicare.  So this cut by Obama would be reversed by Romney.

  2. Ryan claimed that that the stimulus was political patronage and cronyism that did nothing to get the economy going.  That is TRUE.  Even Obama was forced to admit those "shovel ready" jobs weren’t so shovel ready after all.  Ryan opposed the stimulus bill and voted against it.  AFTER IT WAS ALREADY PASSED, he tried to make sure his district wasn’t left out.  That doesn’t disprove what Ryan said about the stimulus.  It just means that if the stimulus money was going to be spent anyway, he didn’t want his district to be left out.  But he didn’t want it to be passed in the first place.

  3. That plant in Janesville, WI that Ryan mentioned was partially shut down in December 2008, before Obama took office, but it continued production on a much smaller scale until April 2009, when it was permanently and fully closed.  Obama made campaign promises about saving the plant, but it was shut down on his watch and never re-opened.  Obama made promises he couldn’t keep.  What Ryan said was accurate.

  4. What Ryan said about Obama doing nothing with regard to the debt commissions is ABSOLUTELY TRUE.  Ryan voted no on the final findings of the debt commission – that is also true.  That was because the commission kept ObamaCare, and Ryan is opposed to ObamaCare.  However, Ryan did work with the commission on various ideas and he did propose an alternate budget that incorporated many elements of the Simpson-Bowles commission.  His alternate solution was actually praised by Erskine Bowles, the Democratic co-chair of the commission.  Obama, by contrast, completely ignored his own debt commission and proposed another completely unserious budget that did nothing about the debt at all.  It got zero votes in both the House and the Senate.  While Ryan disagreed with the debt commission’s conclusion, he worked hard to come up with alternate solutions even though he is only one out of 435 House members.  Obama is the president with more responsibility than anyone else, and yet did nothing to come up with any serious solutions.  Ryan’s attack was not only true, it was also completely fair.
This is why people need to stop letting the media do their thinking for them.  The press's latest tactic is to use the objective-sounding term "fact checking" to disguise their ideologically driven attacks against Republicans. 

I also watched most of the final night of the convention, which mostly featured a series of tributes from individuals who know Romney personally or who have worked with him professionally.  While I do not accept Mormonism as a legitimate form of Christianity, I couldn't help but be impressed by several individuals from Romney's church who movingly described the kindness, compassion, and love which Romney displayed in helping them through some incredibly tragic circumstances.  Those testimonies convinced me that Romney is not just a successful businessman, but also a deeply caring person who has spent his life helping others.  I was more familiar with Romney's experience founding and growing Bain Capital, turning around the Salt Lake City Olympics, and governing Massachusetts, but still found myself more impressed than I expected with the full weight of Romney's experiences and accomplishments throughout his life.  There is no doubt that Romney is a man who is eminently qualified to be president.

In between these tributes and Romney's acceptance speech were wedged two very different speakers: Clint Eastwood (!) and Senator Marco Rubio.  Eastwood's "speech" was actually more of an unscripted comedic routine which seemed a bit confused at times but got in some very effective shots at Obama.  Eastwood dared to do what no one else at the convention would or could: make fun of Obama (and Biden of course).  Despite a couple of crude allusions, I enjoyed the routine and would guess it played much better outside of the beltway than it did with professional pundits.  Rubio's speech was somewhat overshadowed by Eastwood but completely met my high expectations.  Among the most effective moments of his speech were his comment that "Obama was not a bad person, just a bad president" and his list of Obama's tax-and-spend, socialistic policies followed by the statement that "these are tired and old big government ideas. Ideas that people come to America to get away from."  (This last was especially effective coming from the son of Cuban immigrants.)

There was nothing really wrong with Romney's acceptance speech, but I can't say that it excited me very much.  Many pundits seemed genuinely impressed with Romney's delivery and even stated that it was the best speech of his career.  I guess I have mostly heard Romney speak in debate forums rather than straight speeches, but I didn't find his delivery very impressive.  He seemed stiff and out-of-sync with the audience for at least the first half of the speech.  He seemed like he was rushing through the speech too much and failing to articulate his words clearly and pause appropriately, although he seemed to relax and did much better in the second half of his remarks.  Also, the speech was clearly designed to soften and humanize Romney, which may have appealed to independent and undecided voters but wasn't really what I was looking for.  The first half to two-thirds of the speech was pretty non-ideological, but he did finally get more into specifics about his beliefs and policies toward the end of the speech.  It was all from 30,000 feet, of course, but you generally don't get too specific in a convention speech anyway.  Anyway, I did think Romney drew some effective contrasts between himself and Obama, especially when he contrasted Obama's grandiose promises from 2008 about slowing the rise of the oceans and healing the planet with his simple, workman-like promises to "help you and your family" by getting the economy moving again.

Although Romney's speech wasn't overly exciting to a staunch partisan like myself, I expect it helped Romney quite a bit with those all-important independent and undecided voters.  (He's already convinced me to vote for him.)  I don't know how anyone who is not already a hardened partisan could watch the tributes to Romney from people who have known and worked with him and then the speech from Romney himself and conclude that he is anything other than a decent, compassionate, hard-working, trustworthy, and successful man.  Certainly it would be hard to conclude he was anything close to that monstrous caricature the Obama campaign has been pushing of a cold, ruthless businessman who destroyed businesses and individuals for the fun of it at Bain Capital while committing felonies and murdering people.  If the bar is whether this guy is a reasonable alternative to Obama, he more than crossed that hurdle.  If people are looking for someone who is likable and trustworthy, someone they can feel comfortable with on a personal level, I think Romney helped himself significantly with the last night of his convention. 

I plan to watch at least a little bit of the Democratic convention this week -- or at least as much of it as I can stomach.  I want to try to compare the themes and emphases of the two conventions, as well as the speakers themselves.  I already know what I think of the Democratic Party, but I'm interested to see whether they are going to provide any kind of positive case for Obama whatsoever and also how much of an effort they are going to make to appeal to the center.  I certainly have seen little of either a positive case or a centrist appeal from this president's campaign so far.