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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Price Gouging"

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and at the risk of sounding insensitive, I want to link to this excellent piece the Mises Institute re-posted from 2004, called "Price Gouging Saves Lives in a Hurricane."  I almost shared it on Facebook, but feared the wrath of those who wouldn't take the time to read it.  Give it a chance, and you'll see it's not as ridiculous as you might think at first.  It's just sound economics.

Another Creepy Pro-Obama Ad


Imagine an America
Where strip mines are fun and free
Where gays can be fixed
And sick people just die
And oil fills the sea

We don’t have to pay for freeways!
Our schools are good enough
Give us endless wars
On foreign shores
And lots of Chinese stuff

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you

We haven’t killed all the polar bears
But it’s not for lack of trying
The Earth is cracked
Big Bird is sacked
And the atmosphere is frying

Congress went home early
They did their best we know
You can’t cut spending
With elections pending
Unless it’s welfare dough

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you

Find a park that is still open
And take a breath of poison air
They foreclosed your place
To build a weapon in space
But you can write off your au pair

It’s a little awkward to tell you
But you left us holding the bag
When we look around
The place is all dumbed down
And the long term’s kind of a drag

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And yeah, we’re blaming you

You did your best
You failed the test

Mom and Dad
We’re blaming you!

Yes, the creators of this ad think it is a good argument for Obama's reelection.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"The Incredible Shrinking President"

Great column by Mark Steyn up on the National Review website today.  Among other things it addresses the ongoing scandal surrounding the Benghazi embassy attack, which keeps getting worse and worse for the president.  He is lucky to have a compliant press corps which relentlessly covers for him on this. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vote for the Values Party!

After writing my previous post about how the vast majority of Democratic ads I have seen this election cycle have been about abortion, I came across this article from Politico affirming that my observations do indeed reflect a clear nationwide strategy by Democrats.  They have decided to "go all in for abortion rights."  Here is more from the (typically slanted) Politico article:
Democrats have gone all in for abortion rights, with none of the hedging or defensiveness they’ve shown in recent years — a subtle but striking repositioning with political consequences that extend far beyond Nov. 6.

The evidence of it is impossible to miss. The airwaves are choked with messaging about women’s reproductive health. Abortion rights advocates had prime speaking roles at the Democratic convention. Contraception advocate Sandra Fluke is a prominent campaign trail surrogate. Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood, recently introduced President Barack Obama at a Virginia campaign rally.

While Democrats have long supported a woman’s right to choose, this year’s full-throated embrace of abortion rights — from the president down to the most obscure House candidate — marks a historic departure that now places the party as firmly and unyieldingly in support of abortion rights as the GOP is in opposition.
There you go, America!  You wanted a plan and a vision for the future.  You got one.  And people blame Republicans for the culture wars....

Just in case there are a few people who hold to traditional values who might still be planning to vote for Obama despite his non-stop celebration of abortion, he made sure to stick his finger even deeper into the eye of Middle America with this YouTube ad, created directly by the Obama campaign:

Yes, ladies and gentleman, the U.S. President is running an ad in which an actress compares voting for Obama for the first time with losing one's virginity.  I've never seen anything in American politics to rival this in sheer creepiness and disgustingness.  Does Obama think real women are like this?  Even more unthinkable, do his supporters really think like this?

The Democratic Party is a values party.  It's just that the values they hold are completely opposite of everything I believe in.  I would never associate myself with this party.  Ever.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Some Random Thoughts on the Election

I just wanted to jot down some random thoughts about this upcoming election.

Much media attention has been focused on Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's recent debate comment that pregnancies resulting from rape are God's will.  Mourdock's statement was certainly foolish and ill-advised -- I think Republican candidates should completely avoid the topic of abortion resulting from rape and I'm not sure why it's so hard for them to do that.  Abortions resulting from rape are less than 1% of all abortions performed nationwide and it is the one area of abortion policy in which public opinion is strongly against the pro-life position.  Nevertheless, I think Mourdock was very clumsily expressing the belief, held by most Christians, that all human life is the creation and gift of God, which I don't think is an extreme or fringe belief at all.  Perhaps he was also expressing the Calvinistic Christian belief that all things that happen, even bad things, are part of God's will. 

By contrast, another Senate candidate, Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, recently expressed the opinion that human life begins at birth.  In my opinion, this is a far more extreme opinion than the one expressed by Mourdock and is aggressively anti-science.  The notion that a baby does not become human or alive until it comes through the birth canal is laughable.  Yet, I'm sure most or all of my readers have never heard of this story, largely because the overwhelmingly pro-choice media buried it.  Republicans are not the only ones who make stupid statements, but they are the only ones who are unable to get away with those stupid statements.

Even though I live in a state where there are no competitive statewide elections, I have been seeing and hearing a lot of Washington media market TV and radio campaign ads targeting Virginia voters in the president and Senate races.  It is not an exaggeration to say that a clear majority of the Democratic ads I have heard are focused on abortion.  Of course, they never mention the word "abortion," preferring to use euphemisms like "women's health care" and "women's rights to make their own choices about their bodies," but it is clear what they are really talking about.  The same focus was clearly on display at the Democratic National Convention this year.  With all the challenges our country faces domestically and on the world stage, the primary topic of conversation for the Democrats appears to be a celebration of abortion.  I know -- or at least know of -- evangelical Christians who are planning to vote for Obama, and it is beyond me how they can rationalize voting for a candidate whose identity is completely wrapped up in abortion.

One of the things that frustrates me as well is that Republicans are such incredible wusses when it comes to the topic of abortion.  There is no reason this issue should work to the Democrats' advantage, given the fact that more Americans actually identify as pro-life than as pro-choice and studies of past presidential elections have shown that a majority of single-issue abortion voters vote pro-life rather than pro-choice.  I understand that Romney and congressional Republican candidates don't want to make abortion the centerpiece of their campaigns, given the preeminence of the economy in most voters' minds, but I don't think they should be afraid to fight back on the issue when they are attacked.  For example, Obama attacked Romney for being against women because of his opposition to taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood several times in the second debate, and I think Romney should have responded to it at least once instead of letting the claim stand that he was against women.  If Obama is going to hammer Romney on abortion, why shouldn't Romney respond with an ad pointing out how extreme Obama is on abortion, or at least asking why Obama is obsessed with the issue with unemployment at around 8%?  If Obama is going to demand that Romney disassociate himself from Mourdock's comments, why shouldn't Romney demand that Obama disassociate himself from Murphy's comments about human life beginning at birth?  I think the GOP is unwise to entirely cede this issue to the Democrats. 

So, where does the presidential race stand?  I think it's not looking so bad for Romney right now.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a post encouraging conservatives to keep their chin up despite disappointing poll numbers.  Since then, we have had three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, all of which I think have worked to the advantage of the Romney/Ryan ticket.  The first debate was most critical of course.  The 65 million Americans across the country who were watching got to see Romney debate Obama on the issues directly without the media spin and realized that Romney was a smart, capable man with a deep understanding of the issues and an economic plan for the country.  The Romney they saw on stage at the first debate in Denver, and in the other two subsequent debates, was nothing like the caricature of Romney that had been beaten into people's heads from months of vicious non-stop Obama attacks on Romney's character, background, and policies.  Romney's debate performances demonstrated to independent and undecided voters that he is a legitimate alternative to Obama and managed to improve his personal likability as well. 

I find the claims of some pundits, such as Nate Silver of the New York Times, that Obama is a 65% to 70% favorite to win reelection to be highly implausible and even ridiculous.  Right now, Romney is four points ahead in the Gallup tracking poll and three points ahead in the Rasmussen tracking poll, and at or above 50% in both polls.  Few if any recent national polls have shown Obama above 48%.  Under normal circumstances, voters who are still undecided in the final week or two of the campaign generally break for the challenger, and incumbents rarely end up getting a larger share of the vote than their final poll number.  The rationale for insisting that Obama is a clear favorite for reelection seems to be that poll numbers in several key swing states, especially Ohio, look more favorable to Obama and the electoral college rather than the popular vote will determine the election winner.  However, the electoral college almost always lines up with the popular vote except in cases where the difference between the two candidates' popular vote is 1% or less.  Furthermore, polling in swing states like Ohio has been less frequent, has used smaller samples, and has tended in many cases to significantly oversample Democrats.  For example, in 2008 Democrats had an 8% advantage in turnout, and some recent Ohio polls have shown a 9% advantage in turnout.  This is actually assuming an electorate that is more Democratic than 2008, which is an extremely unrealistic assumption and is belied by early voting statistics and trends.

I am far from certain that Romney will win, but I give him slightly better odds than Obama at this point.  Obama has little time left to change the narrative, absent a major "October surprise" or gaffe on Romney's part.  Overall, I feel like those of us who want to see Obama defeated have the best opportunity we could have asked for to do that.  Romney is a candidate who appeals to the middle and is difficult to paint as an extreme "right-winger."  His moral character appears to be blameless and his background and experience show him to be more than qualified to be president.  He is an eloquent speaker and an excellent debater -- far better than most other recent Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates.  He has had plenty of money to get his message out.  And voters have every reason to reject Obama.  He has clearly shown himself to be an extreme liberal over the course of his first term.  He has utterly failed to solve the biggest problems facing our country, such as an awful economy, high unemployment, a ballooning national debt, a looming entitlement crisis, runaway federal spending, and soaring health care costs.  He has offered no positive future vision for the country and run an extremely nasty and negative campaign.  I don't know how the choice could be clearer for voters or how there could be any greater incentive for non-liberal voters to reject Obama.  If we lose this election, it will be the clearest proof yet (to me at least) that our country is utterly beyond reason and beyond hope.

For those who are political junkies like me and are interested in reading political analysis from a conservative perspective, I recommend this website: http://battlegroundwatch.com/.  In less than two weeks, this long campaign will be all over!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Wisdom of Thomas Sowell

I wanted to share a few quotes from Thomas Sowell that I recently came across:

"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it.  The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."

"If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves."

"Liberals seem to assume that, if you don't believe in their particular political solutions, then you don't really care about the people that they claim to want to help."

"Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."

"If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago, and a racist today."

"I have never understood why it is 'greed' to want to keep the money you've earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else's money."

"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."

Great quotes from a great man....

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Few Laughs for This Friday Morning

Last night Obama and Romney spoke at a black tie Catholic charity event called the Al Smith Dinner.  Here are some lines from that event:

Host Al Smith IV to Obama: "We recognize that you have some challenges this year. It’s never good when your opponent has produced more sons than you have jobs.”

Obama: “I had a lot more energy in the second debate. I was well rested after the nice long nap I had during the first debate.”

Romney: "Speaking of Sesame Street, tonight’s dinner was brought to you by the letter ‘O’ and the number 16 trillion."

Romney: "But the press and I have different jobs. My job is to tell the American people my plans for the country, the press’ job is to make sure no one hears about it."

UPDATE: Here's the video of Romney's entire speech at the dinner. I thought it was great and had me laughing out loud at several points.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

100 Reasons to Vote Against Obama

1. Unemployment - Under Obama's economic leadership, the U.S. economy has suffered through 43 straight months with unemployment higher than 8% - the worst unemployment slump since the Great Depression. When you factor in the record number of people who have given up looking for a job and exited the labor force, real unemployment is well into double digits. Even though the official unemployment dropped to 7.8% in September 2012, the economy created only 114,000 new jobs, which is less than half of the number of monthly jobs that should be created in a normal recovery. Real median household income is more than $3,000 less than it was when the recession officially ended in June 2009. Nearly 23 million people are out of work or underemployed -- about 20% of the U.S. workforce. This graph showing the employment percentage of the working-age population over the past six years perfectly sums up the Obama "recovery":

2. Lack of economic growth - Economic growth throughout Obama's presidency has been extremely disappointing, with the gross domestic product only averaging about 1.5% growth per year since 2009 compared to the U.S. post-World War II average of 3.3%. Average growth was 2.4% in 2011 and has been 1.7% so far in 2012, which means that the economic situation is actually getting worse. By comparison, Reagan inherited a similarly awful economy, but his pro-growth policies turned the economy around so dramatically that by his third and fourth years in office GDP was growing at 4.5% and 7.2%, respectively. Obama's policies on everything from taxes to regulations to health care mandates to debt to energy have stifled rather than encouraged economic growth, and the results are painfully clear.
3. Deficits & Debt - When he first took office in 2009, Obama promised to cut the deficit in half to about $500 billion by the end of his first term in office (and reiterated that promise in 2010 and 2011). Obama spectacularly failed to keep that promise, and instead the government has run deficits exceeding $1 trillion for all four years of his presidency (with the 2013 deficit under his plan projected to be more of the same). The reasons for this are policies that have stifled economic growth and unprecedented levels of federal spending. As a result of these record deficits, Obama has dramatically increased our national debt from $11 trillion to more than $16 trillion in less than four years. For the first time in our nation's history, our debt exceeds our GDP, which threatens our long-term stability. Once debt reaches a certain level, it starts to slow economic growth, and this can trigger a dangerous cycle of decreased revenues, increasing debt, and ballooning interest payments. The European debt crisis is an example of what can happen.
4. Entitlement reform - Our country is facing a looming fiscal crisis due to our rapidly expanding national debt, and the primary cause of our increasing debt is the runaway growth of government entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Medicare, in particular, threatens our country's future solvency. The percentage of our economy spent on Medicare is five times larger than it was 40 years ago, and by 2035 Medicare spending is projected to be double the share of the economy that it is today. If this program is not reformed in a sensible way -- and soon -- then our government will either be forced to drastically cut benefits to seniors or sink into bankruptcy under its massive load of debt. And yet, Obama has done absolutely nothing to address the issue of entitlements, other than exacerbate the fiscal crisis by creating a massive new health care entitlement. While demagoguing Republican budget plans that make an honest attempt to address the entitlement problem under Paul Ryan's leadership, Obama has offered no ideas and proposed no meaningful reforms of Social Security or Medicare. His only strategy seems to be to run out the clock and leave the problem for someone else to deal with. This is the opposite of leadership.
5. Passage of ObamaCare - Obama and his allies forced their landmark health care bill through in a very corrupt and partisan fashion. During the 2008 campaign Obama promised all health care negotiations would be televised on C-Span, but he broke that promise and kept Democratic negotiations behind closed doors. In the process of making the bill law, Obama and his allies bought off wavering members of Congress and health care industry lobbying groups with sweetheart deals; excluded Republican ideas from the bill; dramatically limited debate and amendments; forced votes in the middle of the night and on Christmas Eve; resorted to all sorts of parliamentary tricks such as "deem and pass," circumvention of the committee process, secret amendments, and reconciliation; and in the end passed an overhaul of our entire health care system, on a purely partisan vote, that was nearly 3,000 pages long and was not read by many members who voted for it.
6. Irresponsible long-term budget plan - Obama's 2013 budget plan calls for additional short-term stimulus spending that is expected to increase economic growth in the next year or two. However, due to high levels of federal spending, debt, and taxes, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that Obama's plan will reduce economic growth by anywhere from 0.5% to 2.2% after five years. According to the CBO, these reduced levels of economic growth could also contribute to deficit increases of as much as $4 trillion over the next decade. Obama's plan irresponsibly projects deficits as far as the eye can see and never balances the federal budget, which stands in sharp contrast to Romney's plan which calls for a balanced budget by 2020.
7. $800 billion stimulus bill - The massive emergency economic stimulus bill that Obama engineered at the start of his presidency proved to be a colossal waste of taxpayer money. The bill was filled with corruption, with key political allies of the president receiving sizable chunks of money for their businesses in the form of grants and loans. Several billion went to foreign-owned companies. Only about 3% of the total spending in the bill went to fund infrastructure and highway projects, which were supposed to be the point of the bill. Even though it was rammed through as an emergency measure, six months after it was passed less than 20% of the money had been spent. The government website tracking how the stimulus money was spent showed jobs created or saved in 440 non-existent congressional districts! One scholarly study found that the stimulus money created or saved about 450,000 state and local government jobs but destroyed or forestalled about 1,000,000 private sector jobs, and another economist estimated that each job created by the stimulus cost an average of $650,000. Despite its size, Obama's stimulus bill, like previous attempts by Japan in the 1990's and by the U.S. under the New Deal, proved to be completely ineffective at jumpstarting the economy.
8. Job-killing regulations on business - The Obama Administration's EPA has proposed many new regulations that harm businesses and kill jobs. Among them are new standards for utility plants that could shut down hundreds of fossil fuel powered facilities and increase electricity costs for Americans by up to 24%, stricter emissions standards for boilers that will add $10-$20 billion in additional costs to businesses and could cost 60,000 to 200,000 jobs, stringent new cost-prohibitive rules for the cement industry that have already led to construction layoffs and could push many American jobs overseas, and the first ever national restrictions on coal ash which are forecasted to close many coal plants and cost up to 100,000 jobs. These are just a few tangible examples of how Obama's policies are harming employment and hindering our country's economic recovery. A Heritage Foundation study found that the costs of government regulations to business were five times higher under the first three years of the Obama Administration than under the first three years of the Bush Administration.
9. Federal spending - Despite the claims of some experts to the contrary, Obama has presided over an explosion of federal spending. There have been only two other times since World War II in which spending as a percentage of GDP has been as high as it has been for all four years of the Obama Adminstration. Spending as a percentage of the U.S. economy shot up from 20.8% in 2008 (Bush's last year in office) to 25.2% in 2009 (Obama's first year in office) and has remained above 24% through 2012 -- and that does not even take into account that Obama's budget consistently proposed higher spending than the amount actually approved by Congress. However, despite this binge in domestic spending, Obama has proposed potentially devastating cuts to our military. His budget announced in January 2012 called for $500 billion in defense cuts, which are coupled with an additional $500 billion in automatic "sequestration" cuts scheduled to take place in January of next year. The cuts would reduce the size of our Army and Marine Corp by 10-15% and take away our ability to be involved in two military conflicts simultaneously. Obama is perfectly willing to spend wildly, except when the security of the United States (the most important task of the federal government) is at stake.
10. Poverty & food stamps - Throughout his presidency, Obama has criticized the wealthy for not paying their fair share and emphasized the importance of not leaving anyone behind. Therefore, it may come as a surprise that Obama's presidency has failed miserably in helping people out of poverty. Over the past two years, more than 46 million people (15% of the U.S. population) have been living below the poverty line -- the highest number in more than 50 years. Median household income has also been declining over the past two years while the gap between rich and poor has increased. This has coincided with an increase in government dependency, as more Americans are now on food stamps (nearly 47 million people) than ever before in our history and food stamp spending has doubled since Obama took office. Based on these facts, it is difficult to argue that Obama's anti-growth, government-centered policies have done much to help the neediest among us.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mutually Beneficial Exchange

...the only kind of exchange that happens in the free market.  

"If an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both parties believe they will benefit from it.  Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another."
 ~ Milton Friedman

"What pays under capitalism is satisfying the common man, the customer.  The more people you satisfy, the better for you."
~ Ludwig von Mises

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Hypocrisy of Media "Fact-Checking"

Ramesh Ponnuru has a great article up on National Review's website about the bias of the media in its "fact-checking" of this election.  Ponnuru points out that most of the time when the media has accused Romney or Ryan of lying during this year's election campaign, the issue at stake has been one of opinion or interpretation, not fact.  He also points out that the Obama campaign has peddled at least as many debatable claims as the Romney campaign, but those claims have completely avoided scrutiny by the media.  This double standard is a fact of life for Republican candidates in this country, but has seemed to be the worst it has ever been during the last two presidential elections.  I hope the public is smart enough to see through the media bias and make an informed choice on November 6th.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Keep Your Chin Up!

Just wanted to comment that my posting has been rather light over the past few weeks of this election season, and part of the reason is that I have been working feverishly on a comprehensive post (complete with supporting links) entitled "100 Reasons to Vote Against Obama."  I hope to have it completed in about a week or so.

I want to encourage any readers who might be feeling discouraged about this election to keep their chin up.  There have been a lot of national and state polls lately that have looked bad for Romney, and the media has been spinning that Obama is the heavy favorite.  And of course the media and the Democrats have had a field day with those unfortunate Romney comments about the 47%.  (By the way, Romney was correct that nearly half of Americans pay no income taxes.  And he is correct that a solid 45% of Americans will vote for Obama no matter.  He is also correct that a substantial and growing percentage of Americans are dependent on government now, although I don't think it is anywhere near 50% yet.  The problem was that Romney falsely assumed that all three of these groups are equal and fully overlapping.  They are most certainly not.)

Keep in mind a few things.  First, most of these polls that show sizable Obama leads are badly oversampling Democrats.  In some cases, they are assuming an electorate significantly more Democratic than 2008, which was one of the most favorable Democratic elections in the modern era!  Second, in many of these polls Obama's job approval and head-to-head numbers are below 50%.  There are exceptions, but generally undecided voters break toward the challenger and it is rare for an incumbent president to get a share of the vote that is higher than his job approval number.  Obama's job approval is very low with undecided voters.  Third, there are still four key presidential and vice-presidential debates which could have a big impact on this race.  The first of those is tonight.  Fourth, most pollsters have found that GOP enthusiasm to vote is higher this year than Democratic enthusiasm, despite a Democratic convention that threw a lot of red meat to the base.  No matter what excuses Democrats may make for Obama's performance with regard to the economy, it's hard for the more honest ones to feel too much excitement about voting for another four years of the same when unemployment stubbornly remains above 8%.

I still believe the fundamentals of this race favor Romney, despite increasingly blatant attempts by the media to swing the election toward Obama.  For now, I give Romney about a 50/50 chance to win, but he needs to perform strongly in the upcoming debates to close the sale with undecided voters.