Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Counting My Blessings

     As I spent the better part of yesterday bailing out a couple of inches of water from my basement and waiting for an $800 repair to be completed on my car, I began to engage in a self-pity party. After all, I was just beginning to get a little ahead and I wondered why these tragedies had befallen me. Then I viewed images of the hardest hit areas by hurricane Sandy and the other weather systems meteorologists termed "Frankenstorm." I began to feel as though my problems were insignificant in comparison, and that I was petty for even considering them problems.
     Whereas my basement flooded with a couple of inches of water, some people had their entire homes demolished. Others had no electricity, with no hope of having service for as long as a week or more. Here I was sitting in my warm home with electric, water and Internet, feeling bad about a little water in the basement. And so what if my car needed an expensive repair, some people lost their cars entirely due to Sandy. I would pick up my newly repaired car and write a check, that I was fortunate enough to have the funds to cover. I would eat a filling dinner tonight and sleep in a warm bed, safe and secure with only the most minor disruption of my life due to things beyond my control. I would wake in the morning and have a leisurely cup of coffee and go to work and forget the minor inconveniences of the previous day. Unfortunately for those effected by Sandy, life would not be so easy. They will have dead family members to bury and shattered lives to rebuild.
     A priest I knew when I was a teenager once consoled me when I was feeling down about some typical teenage problems I was having. He said, "Come to me when you have a missing arm and I will bring you someone with no arms. Come to me with no arms and I will bring you someone with no arms and no legs." I got the message that the good Father was trying to convey, that no matter how bad we think our problems are, there is always someone who has it worse. In recent years, whenever I have felt down about life, I tell myself, "There are over 6 billion people on this planet, and probably 5 billion of them would glady change places with me."
     So as most of us go about our lives after having experienced minor or no inconvenience due to Sandy, let us not forget those who were not as fortunate. Pray for them, support them with donations, but most of all, be grateful for the blessings bestowed upon you. Gratitude for the good things in life is truly a blessing in and of itself and is the key to a happy life. Gratitude for life's blessings is also a lifeline that can pull you to safety when your life detours into adversity.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Third Debate Final Analysis

     When President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney met last week in Boca Raton, Florida for the third and final presidential debate, many pundits put the debate in the win column for the President. They did so based on technical debate scoring and not on how it may effect the presidential race. When the latter is considered, I think Mitt Romney will be seen as the beneficiary of the debate's outcome.
     Mitt Romney exhibited a more agreeable posture, at times supporting a few of the President's policy decisions over the last four years. He engaged in what business people call "the strategy of the dolphin." The phrase comes from a book written about business. It refers to the fact that when a dolphin is attacked, it reciprocates with less ferocity than the initial attack. It shows its attacker that it has the ability to defend itself, without inflicting serious injury or escalating the confrontation. Or more to the point with regards to Mitt Romney's performance in the third debate, he allowed himself to look strong but fair. Conversely, the President looked like a school yard bully. The strategy of the dolphin was an effective strategy for a final debate in a presidential race that is neck-in-neck.
     President Obama entered the debate prepared for Mitt Romney to attack him hard on many issues, but especially on his mishandling of the Benghazi affair. The President developed a strategy for dealing with these attacks, which may have been more effective had they actually occurred. But when Governor Romney brought an unexpected strategy to the debate, Mr. Obama was unable to adjust his game plan. The result was a President who looked like he was fighting a battle on a front that didn't exist. His performance highlighted his inability to adjust to new facts and change course, when it is needed. His presidency has been handcuffed by this inability, highlighted by his response to the Republicans gaining a majority in the House as a result of the 2010 mid-term elections. He refused to accept the political realities in front of him, instead choosing to execute his now out-dated game plan with even more ferocity than before.
     When Governor Romney wins next week's election, as I am confident he will, the outcome will have been brought to fruition by many factors. But probably the most over-looked factor will be his performance in the third debate. It not only showed Mr. Romney to be capable of executing the nation's business with decorum and in a statesman-like manner, but it highlighted the current President's inability to do the same.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Could Have Been Presidency

     The election of 2008 seems like a life time ago, in light of everything that has happened the last four years. I remember unenthusiastically voting for John McCain and, even though I knew Barrack Obama was a radical leftist, somehow I thought maybe, just maybe the office of the presidency might temper him a bit. The seriousness and heft of being the leader of the free world had brought out the best in his predecessor, as well as other presidents throughout history. The difference between these other presidents and Barrack Obama is that the others respected the enormity of the office, and Barrack Obama only respects the enormity of himself. The last four years he has conducted himself  as though he was over-qualified and was just marking time until a position opened up that was more commensurate with his talents. He destroyed the opportunity he had to bring people together and make progress toward fixing some of the nation's important issues.
     From the beginning, he could have used the example of his election to show the enormous racial progress that the United States has made, especially in the last half century. But instead, he chose at every opportunity to imply and intimate that this country treats its minorities with disrespect, suspicion and derision. The Cambridge police, who the President said acted stupidly when they detained Barrack Obama's former professor Skip Gates as he tried to break into his own home, were motivated by Professor Gate's race, according to the President. At every turn, the President promoted the idea that people who look different (read: black or Hispanic) are discriminated against on a daily basis in this country. President Obama and his minions have actually proffered the idea that opposition to his policies are somehow motivated by his race. Instead of continuing the racial healing that his election could have been the impetus for, he chose instead to use his position to continue the divisiveness he practiced as a community organizer.
     In the area of the economy he used the same divisiveness to denigrate and demonize business. Once again he chose the path of a community organizer instead of the high road of a statesman and leader. Through his rhetoric and policy he insured a much more difficult path for businesses, thereby stagnating growth and leading to chronically high unemployment. President Obama could have insured not only his re-election, but a favorable place in history, had he put aside his radical ideology and allowed the economy to grow and prosper for the good of all. But this would have meant less dependence on his big government programs, which bring him and his party political power, now and into the future. At every turn, Barack Obama and his party governed against the will of the people, Obamacare is the most egregious example of this. To this day, almost seventy percent of the population of this country do not want Obamacare and think it should be repealed. This was another example where the President could have worked in a bi-partisan way to solve the problems that existed, without a huge government takeover of the best health care system in the world.
     So as we hopefully come to the end of the Barrack Obama presidency, I look back and see all the missed opportunities and the could-have-beens, and I am saddened for all those who have suffered. But I am also saddened for Barrack Obama, the President who could have been great, but chose to use his position and talents in the pursuit of petty political power instead of reinforcing the greatness of his country.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Moral Case For Capitalism

     The people of the United States of America are the most generous on the planet, giving a combined total to charity around the world that dwarfs all other countries combined. This is not a function of the American people being morally superior, but rather operating under the morally superior system of free market capitalism. Capitalism, in and of itself, is the most moral system devised by man, and it allows for the truly moral act of giving to thrive.
     Stripped down to its basic activity, capitalism is one party supplying a good or service to another party who desires or needs that good or service. The two parties agree on a price that is fair to both. If the price is too high, a sale does not occur, thereby requiring the provider to drop the price or cease doing business. If the price is too low, demand for the good or service will outstrip supply, causing a rise in production or price or both. The natural law of supply and demand keeps a balance that benefits both the consumer and provider. This system breaks down when a central authority, such as a government, artificially stimulates supply or demand, thereby causing rationing of a good or service and an unfair price for that good or service. A recent  example of this is the government's subsidy for ethanol production. The subsidy caused an artificial rise in the production of corn and an equal drop in the production of other grain crops. This caused a general rise in the price of these commodities, which would not have otherwise occurred in a balanced free market. This phenomenon is also occurring in the health care industry as a result of the new health care law. The government is artificially increasing demand while reducing supply with lower reimbursement rates to health care providers. This will necessarily lead to rationing because of the immutable law of supply and demand.
     Capitalism also allows for the greatest number of people to acquire wealth, which leads to a greater amount of charity to those who are in need. It is free people, unencumbered by the heavy hand of government regulation, working in their own self interest, which creates opportunity for other people. A person who starts a landscaping business, does so to support themselves and their family. If they provide a quality service at a reasonable price, their business will grow and they will have to employ other people. But they don't start their business with the goal of employing other people or even to provide customers with well-manicured lawns. They start their business to feed, shelter and clothe themselves and their family. The employment of others and happy customers are a result of that basic self interest. It is a simple economic rule that the more employed people there are, the less stress there is on public funds and society in general.
     An individual who voluntarily gives to someone in need is performing a moral act because the beneficiary feels grateful and the benefactor feels rewarded for having helped a fellow human being in need. When government confiscates wealth from that same individual and gives it to another, the one who has his money taken is angry and bitter and the one who receives it feels entitled. This removes all the morality from an otherwise moral act. A capitalist society will always breed more happiness in those who benefit from it. There have been multiple studies performed that reveal a higher level of happiness and contentment in those who are able to use their talents and ambition to support themselves. Free market capitalism provides the best opportunity for this to ocurr. People who feel they haven't earned what they have are much more likely to be unhappy. This is why there is so much anxiety and unhappiness among lottery winners. Capitalism is a moral system because it uplifts the human spirit and provides the best way for people to participate in something greater than themselves.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Follow Your Heart To Ruin

     "Follow your heart", more than any other phrase, was the guiding principle for the children of the 1960s. It was this misguided principle that they subsequently inculcated in their children, thereby condemning them to lives of undue frustration and adversity. The drug addict follows his heart to abandoning everything good in his life for the sake of pursuing his addiction. The pregnant teen followed her heart when she participated in the conception of the child within her. The obese over-eaters follow their hearts to a life-style that leads to diabetes, heart disease and eventual death. Prisons are full of people who have followed their hearts.
     The heart will always lead one astray, because the human heart doesn't want that which is sensible nor productive. The heart is ruled by emotion, thereby making it incapable of reason or the ability to see consequences for behavior. Even when it comes to those things traditionally assigned to the heart, like compassion, charity and love, the heart will not yield the best of results. The person who gives the homeless drug addict or alcoholic a few dollars because their heart tells them to do so, is not helping the addict or themselves. They may have an immediate feeling of self worth and well being for engaging in a charitable act, but intellectually they know the addict will use the money to buy more alcohol or drugs, thereby perpetuating the squallier in their life. The heart will also mislead when it comes to love. How many people have followed their hearts into bad marriages, when they knew intellectually from the outset that their potential mate was not right for them. The heart is what informs someone that through marriage they will "change"  their potential mate's bad habits or character flaws.
     It is my assessment that our country has engaged in policies of the heart that have put us in debt and have made the intended beneficiaries of those policies more dependent. Dependence is never healthy, either for the dependent or those upon whom they depend. The simple explanation is that independence is the key to happiness. People who are not self-reliant are much less likely to be happy. Happiness is dependent on doing the things in life we may not want to, like going to work everyday, saving money or telling our children "no" when we know in the short-term they may not like us very much. In other words, the glow of instant gratification fades almost as instantly and the heart needs to manufacture a new object of pursuit. Lest we forget that the road to ruin is not paved with reason from the intellect but good intentions from the heart.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dreams From My Second Term Agenda

     This week, President Obama released a book-like agenda for his second term, should he be re-elected. The rather lengthy tome used thousands of words to express three main themes, which he repeated in all three debates and just about every stump speech on the campaign trail. President Obama's three big ideas for a second term that he claims will fix all our problems are 1) Soak the rich, 2) Hire teachers and 3) Build roads and bridges.
     The trouble with the President's first agenda item, soak the rich, is that the top 10% of wage earners in this country already shoulder 70% of the total tax burden, according to the latest IRS statistics. Additionally, over a million small businesses would be hit by the President's higher tax rate because they file as sub-chapter S corporations, which means they file their taxes as individuals. These small businesses account for two thirds of new job creation. Logic, and simple economics, would dictate that these small businesses will hire fewer, or no new workers if they are paying more in taxes. Not to mention the additional burden that Obamacare will place on them. The other problem with soaking the rich is it leaves them less money to invest in private enterprises that keep people employed and create economic activity. A strong economy depends on business investment, a third of Gross Domestic Product is comprised of this type of investment.
     President Obama's second big agenda item, hire more teachers, is both antithetical to reason and disingenuous. According to the Department of Education, since the 1970s the number of teachers has doubled while student enrollment over that period has only increased by 8%. The myth that smaller class sizes leads to a better educational experience for students has no basis in reality. If it did, universities would never turn out educated students because in many courses the class sizes are in the hundreds. I remember my own elementary and high school experience where class sizes were rarely under 40 pupils to a class, and my education didn't suffer at all from class sizes they now call too large. The last thing to remember on this agenda item is that practically all direct education spending happens at the state and local level. The Federal government doesn't hire teachers, so no president can promise to do so. And the over 100 billion dollars a year that is spent by the Federal Department of Education is done so on administration costs, none of that money actually augments bottom line education.
    The last part of the President's agenda, building roads and bridges, sounds good on the surface but its reality is a different story. The President would have people believe that our entire infrastructure is crumbling and no administration in the last 50 years has allocated a dime to its repair. This just isn't true, the Federal government has doled out hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money over the last 30 years for infrastructure maintenance and repair. The problem is that politicians use that money to build bike paths and new government buildings that they then name after themselves. No politician wants a pothole named after them and giving people something new will always garner more votes than simply fixing something old that has fallen into disrepair. Infrastructure spending is another example that is illustrative of the fact that we don't have a funding problem, we have an allocation problem.
     The common thread linking all three of the President's main agenda items is redistribution of wealth. Whether it is redistributing that wealth from the rich to the poor, as in the first agenda item, or it is redistributing wealth from everyone to his union supporters, as in the last two items, re-distribution is the plan for a second term. And the President, for all of his failings, has not failed to make crystal clear his intention to redistribute wealth. And if the voters return him to office next month, it will be with the full knowledge of his intentions, and God help us if those intentions are realized. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Questions Linger On Benghazi

     The terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed our ambassador and three others on September 11th of this year, has been talked about and written about to the extent that the subject has filled a large part of our collective public discourse over that period. But for all that discussion, we still do not know the truth. It's not so much the facts about the actual attack, but rather remaining questions about the administration's action and inaction that are the unknown aspects of this story.
     What has been brought to light by the House Intelligence Committee, is the existence of a security video that shows the attack on our consulate. The video makes clear that there was no demonstration and the attack was executed by a group of well-armed, well-organized terrorists. The video would tend to contradict the administration's immediate characterization of the attack as a spontaneous demonstration in response to an anti-Muslim You Tube video. The larger question is not so much why the administration mislead the American people for two weeks after the attack, but when did they see the events recorded on this video?
     Clare Lopez, former CIA operations officer, makes the startling assertion that the real time live feed from Benghazi would have been watched by the State Department, the Department of Defense and the White House as the attacks occurred. This, Ms. Lopez claims, would have been standard operating procedure for such an event. If Ms. Lopez's assessment is correct, two conclusions are clear. First, that multiple members of the administration witnessed the attacks in real time and knew the truth from the outset. And secondly, members of the administration sat by and took no actions that may have saved the lives of Ambassador Stevens and the others.
     The attack in Benghazi proceeded for an agonizing 6 hours. The U.S. has three military bases within a couple of hours of the attack site, one only half an hour away. One has to question why a rapid response team was not sent to Benghazi to secure the compound. The dots can easily be connected linking President Obama's ideology to any decision made to not protect a U.S. consulate with an armed military unit designed specifically for the task. Knowing that the President has a disdain for projecting American military strength, it is clear that he felt defending American lives in Benghazi would have been too provocative. But if the President understood our enemies and the nature of geopolitical relationships, he would know that not defending our interest, here or abroad, is a sign of weakness and an open invitation for similar attacks as the one in Benghazi.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Final Presidential Debate-2012

     The final Presidential debate between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, was held last night at Lynn University in Boca Rotan, Florida. The moderator for the debate was veteran newsman, Bob Schieffer. The topic of discussion was foreign policy, however much of the time was spent talking about economic issues. I thought Bob Schieffer's performance was closer to Jim Lehrer's in the first debate than it was to Candy Crowley's in the second. It was ironic that yesterday was the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy telling the American people that the Soviets had missiles in Cuba. Ironic because as Mitt Romney pointed out later in the debate, we now have a President who recently told the Russian President that he would have more flexibility after the election with regards to reducing our nuclear arsenal.
     I thought Governor Romney was effective in prosecuting the foreign policy failures of President Obama, in sharp contrast to the sometimes delusional view that the President tried to advance. This delusion was highlighted by the President's refusal to use the term Islamic extremists, illustrating his inability to understand the nature of our enemy. He also advanced the narrative that Al Queda was far weaker and our relationships in the Middle East are far stronger today than when he took office. Mitt Romney refuted the President's assertions by illustrating just how much more dangerous and volatile the Middle East is since Mr. Obama's term began. The two candidates did agree on several topics including the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, sanctions on Iran (although Mitt Romney said they should be more sever) and the future departure of Bashar al-Assad as leader of Syria.
     A highlight of the debate was when Mitt Romney correctly pointed out the weakness shown by the President to our enemies early in his term when he embarked on his apology tour. The President called reports of his apology tour a "Whopper" of a lie. The President also repeated the now thoroughly discredited lie that Governor Romney's tax cuts would cost 5 trillion dollars. Mitt Romney didn't defend himself adequately on that charge, but did effectively refute the President's charge that Mitt Romney wanted to let GM completely dissolve. Mitt Romeny scored further points when he pointed out that the President pulled missile defense from Poland, an ally, and didn't support the Green Revolution in Iran after their "elections" in 2009. Governor Romney also correctly pointed out that our Navy is the smallest it's been since 1917 and our Air Force is the smallest it's been since its founding. The President's reply to these facts was snarky and made him look petty and small. Mitt Romney successfully made the case for a strong U.S. military and an overall optimism which made the President's attempts to do the same look weak in comparison.
     If there was one disappointment for me, it was that Mitt Romney didn't mention the security failures in Libya or the two weeks of administration lies that followed. Maybe his campaign made the political calculation to allow the Governor's surrogates and others in the media to push this issue, and allow Mr. Romney to stay above the fray and look more Presidential. Taking everything in total, Mitt Romney edged out the President in the debate and in doing so kept alive his recent momentum in the race. I'm sure those on the left and in the media will call the debate for President Obama, but as we saw with the last debate, media support for the President doesn't translate into any bounce in the polls.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Final Debate Preview

     When President Obama and Mitt Romney meet at Lynn University in Boca Rotan, Florida tonight for their third and final debate, it will signal the home stretch of the 2012 Presidential campaign. The debate will be moderated by Face the Nation host, Bob Schieffer and the subject of the debate will be limited to foreign policy. It is important for each candidate not only to turn in a solid debate performance, but also to force their opponent to appear the clear loser. As important as a decisive win is for each candidate, each campaign is looking for something different from the debate.
     As for Mitt Romney, who trounced President Obama in the first debate and clearly had a strong performance in the second, his strategy will be to lock up the election with a decisive win in tonight's debate. The Governor has taken the reins of the campaign's momentum, as evidenced by last Friday's Gallup daily tracking poll which showed Mr. Romney with a 6 point lead over the incumbent president. He has also managed to convert states like Pennsylvania and Michigan to toss-up status from solidly in the Obama column.
     President Obama, on the other hand, is engaged in the much more formidable task of shifting the momentum of the campaign back in his favor. His campaign has been seen by many to be rootless and wandering, trying desperately to diminish Mitt Romney with Big Bird ads and the spinning of Governor Romney's binder comment, which he made at the second debate. With crumbling poll numbers not only related directly to the race but his favorability as well, President Obama is behind the proverbial eight ball. I'm sure his campaign is looking to this final debate as a chance to shift the winds of the race in a direction that will fill his flaccid sails and pull him across the finish line ahead of Governor Romney.
     I look for Mitt Romney to be well versed on every aspect of the President's foreign policy, but especially keen on Libya. The death of four Americans, including the ambassador, is not an easy pill for the American public to swallow. It is made even more difficult by the apparent incompetence of this administration to provide adequate security, even after it was requested several times by Ambassador Stevens and his staff. The incompetence was compounded by the clumsy cover-up which saw members of the administration denying the attack was an act of terror and instead blaming it on an obscure You Tube video.
     The proceedings tonight in Florida will consist of a generous helping of political drama and I'm sure both candidates will bring their A game. But in the final analysis, Mitt Romney has the edge going in, he only needs a draw or better. President Obama needs a decisive win to have any hope of a change in the direction of this Presidential campaign.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mitt Romney-A National B-12 Shot

     If and when President Obama loses his bid for re-election, the deciding factor, in my opinion, will be twofold. He will have underestimated the voters' desire to reject him and his ideology, and he will have overestimated his ability to convince the voters to believe his mis-characterizations of Mitt Romney. It will be the proverbial "pride coming before a fall" which will be his undoing. According to a recent book by Bob Woodward, President Obama touched John Boehner's arm during the 2011 debt ceiling debate and told him, "John, I have complete confidence in my ability to sway the American people." Well, maybe not when it comes to the American people agreeing to a suicide pact with the President. We shall see in a couple of weeks.
     The one glaring difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney which has been highlighted by the debates, as well as the campaign in general the last couple of weeks, is the desire to uplift the country in every way. And in that respect, I think the optimism of Governor Romney is very similar to that of Ronald Reagan. I'm not saying that Mitt Romney is Ronald Reagan, but then again, Ronald Reagan wasn't Mitt Romney either. But Mitt Romney does seem to have the Reaganesque gift for inculcating in Americans a sense of greatness and a desire to strive for better. President Obama's message is that America must settle for less than she once was. Whether it is less economic growth, less influence to do good in the world or less individual freedoms for the good of the collective. These are concepts which are ingrained in President Obama's DNA and are conversely anathema to every fiber of Mitt Romney's being.
     Barrack Obama's four year odyssey of crisis creation, class-warfare and general thuggery, has emotionally and physically drained the American people. Mitt Romney is like a super shot of B-12 for our national energy and well being. Where Barrack Obama paints a bleak picture of America's future as unexceptional, Mitt Romney is an advocate for that exceptionalism. Where Barrack Obama says the only salvation for Americans is to cede their liberty to bigger and bigger government, Mitt Romney believes every American can use their God-given gifts to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Where Barrack Obama wants Americans to accept that someone else is holding them back and government should be employed to settle the score, Mitt Romney makes the case that it is the governmental policies of Barrack Obama and those who think as he does that are truly holding  back the greatness of the American people. Where Barrack Obama thinks that America should have less of a role in the world to shape events for good, Mitt Romney believes that it is the American values enshrined in our founding documents that can bring peace and prosperity to the rest of the world.  I believe, in the final analysis, Mitt Romney will win the Presidential election because he is the right man for the time and his optimism will not allow any other outcome.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dumbing Down By The Numbers

     This may seem like a picayune thing to some, but it has always bothered me how people pronounce the year. For instance, they say twenty twelve instead of the numerically accurate two thousand and twelve. Any year is a whole number that is increased by one every twelve months. Therefore, twenty twelve is two numbers, neither of which is the correct designation for the current year.
     This dumbed-down pronunciation of the year started sometime in the middle of the last century. Before that time, people pronounced the year in one of two ways. They either pronounced the thousand, hundreds, tens and ones using the correct mathematical notation, e.g. seventeen hundred and sixty two, or they added In the year of our Lord prior to the aforementioned pronunciation. This was how the numerical number marking the passage of time was pronounced prior to sometime in the twentieth century.
     By itself, the mispronunciation of the year does not signal the dumbing-down of our culture, but it is illustrative of the general lowering of our intellectual standards. The case can be made that no one would misinterpret the year when it is presented in this numerically incorrect manner, so what's the harm? And I might agree with that conclusion if other aspects of our language were not also dumbed-down leading to a general downward spiral in our collective intellectual discourse. An example of this comes from my days as a computer programmer. I was helping a client over the phone to fix a problem with their computer that required them to type a string that consisted of both numbers and letters. When I told this person to type in an O , they said, "Is that the number O or the letter O. I politely told them that an O is always a letter and the number is called a zero.
     The loss of intellectual accuracy in our language, I believe, has increased the ability of politicians to cloud issues and successfully mislead the populace. It has allowed them to blur the lines between what is true and what is not. A good example of this is the substitution of  the term "reduction in the rate of growth" for a cut. No Federal budget, nor any item in that budget, has ever been cut. That is why the Federal government spends more money each year than they did the year before. This can only be accomplished with a misinformed, or in some cases, a dis-informed public.
     If we strive for accuracy in the little things, like the pronunciation of the year, we engage in intellectual discipline which helps train our minds to demand accuracy in other more important areas our lives. It leads us to develop our critical thinking skills, and avoid being fooled by the verbal subterfuge in which our leaders engage.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

The Numbers Don't Add Up, Mr. President

     During the current race for the White House, President Obama's entire campaign, other than attacking Mitt Romney, has been to say that the economy is improving. The President's hopes for re-election seem dependent on the one statement he has made countless times, i.e. "We are headed in the right direction and shouldn't change course." And considering that he has not articulated any policy he would implement in his second term that differs from what he has done in his first term, we have only his first term record on which to judge his worthiness for re-election. Two data points were released this week, that when added to the existing dismal economic statistics, should make the choice of President obvious to any sane person who wishes to see this country prosper.
     Towards the beginning of this week, it was reported that welfare spending had increased by 32% in the last year. When one considers that the food stamp rolls in this country have swelled by almost 16 million people since Barrack Obama was inaugurated, I can't understand how anyone could interpret these two data items with anything other than dire concern for our nation's fiscal health. I would like someone in the media to ask the President directly if he thinks having more people dependent on government for their daily basic needs, is a sign of a recovering economy. Not only are more taxpayer dollars being used to provide support for the victims of the Obama economy, but those people are not able to pay taxes or provide any real stimulus to the economy that a good job would allow.
     Yesterday was Thursday, which is the day that the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the initial jobless claims numbers. You may remember that last week the administration was doing back flips because this number had dropped by 30 thousand from the previous week. Then we learned that California did not report their numbers on time and they were not included in the national statistic. This week, the initial jobless claims rose almost 40 thousand. As I have watched this key data point about job loss, I have noticed that for at least the last 7 to 8 months it has been stuck in the high 300 thousands. So every week there are almost 400 thousand people who have lost their jobs, these are real people, with real families and lives that have been shattered by a President who, through incompetence or design, has kept this economy from growing and the nation from prospering. The Democrats' complete disconnect from the realities with which the average American lives, is best summed up by a statement made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in May, 2010. When the initial jobless claims fell to 360 thousand, Harry Reid said, "It is a good day because only 360 thousand people lost their jobs." This statement shows a disconnect from the reality of the real flesh and blood behind the numbers and treats the numbers as just mathematical statistics.
     When one considers the dismal economic numbers in light of President Obama swelling the national debt by almost 6 trillion dollars in his first term, the question is obvious, "What did we get for all this new debt with which our children and grandchildren will be saddled." It reminds me of something I heard author and commentator, Mark Steyn say, "There is no compassion in spending money that hasn't been made yet by people who haven't been born yet." But this kind of fiscal malpractice is the bread and butter of the modern Democrat party, and soon, if they are are allowed to continue holding the reins of power,  bread and butter may be all we are able to afford.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Obama War On The Free Market

      At the conclusion of the second Presidential debate on Tuesday night, President Obama tried to convince the viewing public that he was as much a supporter of free markets and individualism as Ronald Reagan. As I have observed politics for the last several decades, the thing that has bothered me most is the dishonesty with which most Liberal politicians present themselves. They know if they told the electorate what they really believe and what their plans are for the country, they would never win election. Anyone who has been a casual observer of the political scene for the last four years, knows that Barrack Obama is anything but a supporter of free anything, let alone free markets. I thought, with the election just weeks away, a review of President Obama's record on free market policies was in order.
     We begin our journey into the land of Obama free markets with a stop at the auto bailouts, you know, the ones implemented by President Bush and continued by President Obama. As if the use of taxpayer money to support a failing company wasn't anathema enough to the concept of free markets, President Obama took it a step further. He confiscated the equity of the legitimate bondholders and gave that equity to his union buddies. This was all done to prevent bankruptcy, which Mitt Romney so aptly pointed out, happened anyway. There is no Constitutional basis for government at any level to interfere in the financial affairs of private individuals, as was done with the auto bailouts.
     Our next stop along the long and winding road of Obama free markets is actually a three-fer. It includes the bonuses for AIG executives, the use of corporate jets and Las Vegas. During the last part of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, when the government was picking winners and losers and handing out taxpayer money to the winners, Barrack Obama was also demonizing everything corporate. He criticized bonuses that insurance giant AIG was paying some of their employees after they had received billions in taxpayer money. The President never bothered to explain that these bonuses were in lieu of any salary, agreed to by the employees for staying for another year and closing out certain business units. They are called retention bonuses and most were not the millions of dollars characterized by the President. But the truth didn't advance the President's agenda of class warfare. The truth also didn't support his administration's tactic of leaking the AIG's employees names and addresses so that thugs from ACORN and the unions could camp out at their houses and harass them. The President also made it official government policy that corporate jets and Las Vegas were strictly off limits and he proceeded to demonize both in several speeches.
     Small banks have fared worst of all in the land of Obama free markets. The President's financial reform law, better known as Dodd/Frank, has crushed small community banks while favoring the largest banks. Hundreds of small community banks have had to close their doors, simply because they can't afford the millions of dollars it costs to make sure they are compliant with the law. Meanwhile, the "Too big to fail" aspect of the law insures big banks against bad decision-making using taxpayer money. It's no coincidence that the big banks give millions of dollars in campaign donations to the Democrat party, and small banks do not.
     There are a myriad of other examples of Obama policy that are anti-free market, almost too many to even remember. The President talks about making the free market fair, but insuring there is no failure or eliminating risk from the market, is antithetical to capitalism. Just remember that when the President talks about government imposing fairness on free markets, he is not espousing the virtues of free markets, but the morally bankrupt ideas of Marxism.  

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Obama Debate Performance Highlights Differences

     Two aspects of President Obama's debate performance last night highlighted core differences in ideology between Liberals and Conservatives. It's the ultimate victory of one of these ideologies over the other which will determine if this country will travel a road paved with the principles enshrined in our founding documents, or continue down a road toward European Socialism.
     I noticed during the debate that President Obama used the term government advocacy at least three separate times. As a Conservative, I find repulsive the concept of a government that advocates for one segment of the population over others. The Federal government should advocate for the strict interpretation of the Constitution for the benefit of all citizens, not pick winners and losers and make special laws for their chosen groups of losers. Our founding fathers would be abhorred at a government with the power to specify groups who have been wronged, and confiscate wealth from other groups considered by politicians to be the wrong doers. But this is how the Left attains and holds power, by separating people into groups and pitting them against each other. This leads me to the second aspect of President Obama's debate performance that highlighted the difference between Liberals and Conservatives.
     When answering a question from a Hispanic woman named Lorraine, President Obama called her Lorraina, even after he had witnessed Candy Crowley and Mitt Romney call the woman by her correct name. This may seem like a small thing, but it speaks volumes about how President Obama and other leftists look at people. He just assumed that the Hispanic-looking woman had a Hispanic-sounding name. It is this identity politics that the left engages in on a daily basis that is so corrosive to our body politic. It's what drives them to demonize members of minorities who support Conservatives, because in their world view all members of a certain racial group should vote the same way, i.e. Democrat. The behavior of the President, believing his ideology over his ears physically hearing the correct name, is illustrative of the inherent racism of the Left and the moral bankruptcy of leftist ideals.

Romney Gets Edge in Debate

     In the second Presidential debate, held last night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Mitt Romney turned in a strong performance. President Obama was much more aggressive and engaged than he was in the first debate, but came off looking defensive. Several times during the debate he depended on moderator Candy Crowley for a life-line. For her part, Miss Crowley not only broke the format rules by inserting herself into the questioning, but several times she did not give Governor Romney his allotted response time. She appeared to be doing everything she could to ensure that the President turned in a good performance. The bulk of the questions proposed to the candidates were presented by audience members. There were a total of eleven questions that covered economic, foreign policy, immigration and energy policy.
     Mitt Romney confronted President Obama directly and several times seem to fluster the President. One such incident was Governor Romney's response to the President's accusation that Mitt Romney would have let GM go bankrupt. Mitt Romney correctly pointed out that GM did ultimately file bankruptcy under the President's leadership. The President's rebut showed a complete lack of understanding of how bankruptcy works. I thought this was an important moment because it was probably the first time many people were aware that GM actually went bankrupt after receiving billions of dollars of taxpayer money. Another issue on which Mr. Romney confronted the President head on was the question of drilling on public lands. The President tried, unsuccessfully in my opinion, to advance the narrative that under his administration drilling leases on public lands had been increased. Governor Romney was able to argue fairly effectively, with the aid of some facts, that the increase in oil production was a result of drilling on private lands, which the President tried to stop.
     One of my favorite moments of the debate came when an immigration question was asked by a Hispanic woman named Lorraine, she inadvertently called Mitt Romney President Romney. I thought Mitt Romney could have hammered the President harder on his administration's insistence that the attacks in Benghazi were the result of  an anti-Muslim video, when they knew from the start the attacks were pre-planned. But the Governor did a good job of painting the administration's handling of Libya as anything but competent. Mitt Romney also illustrated that the President's charges against him about his overseas investments were ill-informed when the Governor pointed out that the President's pension plan has some of the same investments.
     The take away from the debate is that the President had to misrepresent the facts about the economy and foreign policy as well as the positions taken by his Republican challenger. Tactics that may be effective in adds, but are not so when they are challenged by a worthy opponent. I don't think last night's performance by the President is going to make people any more likely to support him in the election, but it may have swayed a few undecideds toward the Romney camp. And Miss Crowley's advocacy aside, I don't think the President turned in the kind of performance he needed to turn the momentum back in his direction. This debate, as well as the first one, illustrated to the voters the competent management and leadership of Mitt Romney, and the utter lack of such qualities in Barrack Obama.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Romney Vs. Obama-Round Two

     The second Presidential debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will be held tonight, starting at 9pm. The location for the debate is Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. CNN's Chief Political Correspondent, Candy Crowley, will moderate the proceedings. The debate will take the form of a town hall meeting and questions will be asked by audience members comprised of undecided voters.
     President Obama is at a disadvantage because of Governor Romney's decisive victory in the first Presidential debate. Many analysts speculate that Republican enthusiasm, as well as the campaign's momentum shift towards Mitt Romney, was a result of his exceptional performance in the first debate. Democrats and others on the left have been proffering public advice for the President to be more aggressive in subsequent debates. I doubt that Barrack Obama will be as aggressive as Joe Biden was in the one and only Vice-Presidential debate, but Mitt Romney should expect the President to be on the attack more than he was in the first debate. Governor Romney, on the other hand, just needs to turn in a steady and competent performance to keep the momentum of the campaign headed in his favor.
     Many on the left want President Obama to use Mitt Romney's 47% comment from last May, secretly recorded at a donor event. They would also like the President to try and tarnish Mitt Romney with his association with Baine Capital, the private equity firm the Republican challenger founded and ran until 1999. I feel that this strategy would be a mistake for the President, since these attacks only have a chance to work in ads and when Obama campaign surrogates engage in them in various media outlets. If they are used in a debate setting, where Mitt Romney can easily respond to them, I think they may backfire on the President and make him look desperate and small. But it may be all the President has to offer as a strategy, since he can't defend his record in the presence of an opponent who has a command of the facts as Governor Romney does.
     I don't look for either candidate to commit any campaign-ending gaffs, but I do believe that if Mitt Romney has another decisive victory, he may very well put the election out of reach for the President. The pressure is going to be on President Obama to turn in an exceptional performance to shift the momentum of the campaign back in his direction. As I stated previously, Mitt Romney just needs to build on the foundation he laid in the first debate. This debate could be a pivotal event in the campaign, shifting the momentum back towards the President or increasing Governor Romney's momentum. One thing is for sure, it will be fun to watch.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Lessons of Benghazi

     Last week at a press conference, Hillary Clinton made an odd statement. She said that they still don't know what happened in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 of this year when our consulate was attacked and our ambassador and three others were murdered. Mrs. Clinton, along with the rest of the administration must not watch or read any news, if they did, clarity about the events in Benghazi would be theirs. Everyone else in the world, besides the Obama administration, seems to understand that terrorists planned and executed an attack against America, committing the previously mentioned murders. The President of Libya, Mohammed Magarief, knew the facts of the assault within 24 hours after it happened, and stated so on world-wide media.
     Whether Hillary Clinton is being honest, or she is knowingly participating in the White House cover-up about Libya, one thing is clear, i.e. our enemies know what happened and what it means. They know that American targets, especially overseas, will not be properly securitized and will be vulnerable to attack. They further understand that once an attack is planned and executed, the current American leadership will find a way to blame it on their own country. And lastly, our enemies know that there will be no consequences to killing Americans. These lessons, being taught to our enemies by the Obama administration, embolden not only the enemies of the United States, but the enemies of free people everywhere.
     Abraham Lincoln called America, "The last best hope of man on earth." That statement is never so true as it is right now in history. No where else in the world are the values of individualism and personal liberty still a guiding principle. Even with the current bloated government, when people around the world want to escape tyranny and oppression and live a life of opportunity, they set their eyes on America. There is something I read once about a "gates test." That is if you raise the imaginary gates around any country, do people rush in or rush out. If the values of our founding documents are lost to history, the United States and the world will fall into an age of darkness and oppression.
     That is why it is so important for the United States to be a force for good in the world, and to provide strong, un-equivocating leadership based on the principles of our founders. If we fail at this time in history, we fail not only ourselves and the current people of the world, but our founding fathers and every man of conscience that has taken up the cause of freedom throughout history.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

How Government Destroys Health Care

     Over the last 50 years, health care insurance has become a more important issue than the actual delivery of health care.  There has been a deliberate attempt by those on the left to create anxiety over the purchase, coverage and cost of health care insurance. And yet, the more government has injected itself into the health care market, the more costs have risen and the more difficult the delivery of health care has become. This attempt to transfer the individuals responsibility for their own health care to government, has been done so to increase government's role in the lives of individuals. The more control government has over the decision-making process of a free people, the less personal liberty those people have.
     When I was a child, my parents didn't carry health care insurance on me and my siblings. This wasn't because we were poor, but because health care expenses were covered out of pocket. This was made possible because most families operated this way and health care providers had to operate under the rules of the free market. A good example of this is car insurance. Car insurance covers the individual in the case of an accident or theft. If car insurance operated as health care insurance, i.e., covered every aspect related to the automobile, oil changes would be $1000.00. When expenses are the responsibility of a third party, those expenses will necessarily rise. As government's roll in health care has expanded, through medicare, medicaid and other programs, so has the cost of health care for everyone. It artificially skews the market, as it did with the housing industry the last 25 years, leading to the financial melt-down in 2008.
    The government expenditures for health care is not the only way that it has destroyed the health care market, but regulations have also had a deleterious effect. To each government regulation there is an associated cost borne by the industry being regulated. This is best illustrated by the financial industry, which spends 1.2 man hours being compliant with regulations to every 1 man hour they spend performing the other functions of their business. Now, I'm not saying there is no roll for government regulations, but when regulations consume over half a businesses expenditures, it creates an environment that is cost-prohibitive for smaller firms to compete or even exist. This is the real dichotomy of the left, they want an ever-increasing government in size and scope, which hurts the very people they claim to help, the little guy.
     As people have become less responsible for their own health care costs, it has engendered an attitude of entitlement which leads people to have no qualms about spending 20 or 30 thousand dollars on a car or a recreation vehicle, but they kick and scream about having to spend a couple hundred dollars on medication which will save their life. Why should I pay for someones health problems who has spent decades stuffing themselves with butter, sugar and high fat foods, living a sedentary life and taking risks. When there are no consequences to the bad choices individuals make, it allows government to force others who have not made those choices to bear the cost of those choices. The answer is more free-market solutions and less of the Liberal sacrament of replacing individual responsibility with collective guilt.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Why Presidential Daily Briefings Matter

     Last month it was reported by multiple media outlets that President Obama attends fewer than half of his daily intelligence briefings. He chose instead to scan the talking points of the meetings. At the time we told by White House spokeskid, Jay Carney, that President Obama is, "The most sophisticated consumer of intelligence on the planet and he doesn't need to attend all the briefings in person."  We also learned in last night's vice-presidential debate that the President and Vice-President didn't know of any request for additional security from our diplomats on the ground in Libya. As we all now know, that diplomatic outpost was attacked on September 11 of this year by Al Queda, which resulted in the deaths of our ambassador and three other Americans.
     Also this week, State Department officials testified before the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Republican Darrell Issa. We learned two bits of information: 1) That there were numerous requests for increased security in Libya from our Ambassador (the requests went unanswered) and 2) The State Department never issued any intelligence at any time that stated the attacks were a spontaneous protest in response to an anti-Muslim video. The Obama administration in the persons of Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Jay Carney and even the President himself advanced the "protests spurred by the video" angle for up to two weeks after the incident. The Libyan President said the attacks were perpetrated by terrorists and had nothing to do with any video. He said this within 24 hours after the attacks. The administration engaged in the video lie so they could continue to advance the narrative that since Osama Bin Laden was dead, so was Al Queda. When they were recently caught in their lie, they blamed their public assertions about the video on faulty intelligence, which the State Department now says they never gave.
     If Vice-President Biden is to be believed, which is in serious doubt after his debate performance last night, the administration didn't know what was going on in it's own State Department with regards to such a volatile country as Libya and that President Obama's own ambassador there had requested increased security more than once. This is why it is essential for the President, who is the Commander in Chief with people he has put in harm's way, to attend the daily briefings. By not attending his briefings he has shown he has no desire to execute the primary duty of his office, the national security of this country. I just hope the voters next month relieve him of that duty he finds so burdensome.

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Ryan Less Decisive Than Romney

     The one and only vice-presidential debate was held last night in Danville, Kentucky. It was moderated by ABC News' Martha Raddax, who showed more bias than Jim Lehrer when he moderated the first presidential debate last week. Ms. Raddax, at times seemed as though she was teaming up with Vice-President Joe Biden against  the Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. The debate covered topics on domestic and foreign policy and was broken into 9 segments. Each candidate had two minutes to answer each question and then time was allotted for a brief discussion between the candidates.
     At times the discussion was chaotic and the Vice-President was allowed to interrupt Paul Ryan almost at will. I scored a win for Congressman Ryan, albeit not as decisive as the one Mitt Romney had against Barrack Obama in last week's presidential debate. The opening question was in reference to the ongoing foreign policy debacle in Benghazi, Libya. The Vice-President towed the administration's line and threw the intelligence community under the bus. Representative Ryan did an adequate job framing the issue as an administration failure. In addition to interrupting Paul Ryan many times, Joe Biden often made faces as Paul Ryan was speaking, which made the Vice-President look childish and rude. Joe Biden also appeared angry and aggressive, while Paul Ryan was calm but assertive.
     There were some moments of levity as evidenced by Paul Ryan's response to Joe Biden clumsily trying to make political hay out of Mitt Romney's off the cuff remark about the 47% of Americans who do not pay Federal income tax. Paul Ryan said that he was sure the Vice-President understood that words don't always come out of your mouth the way you want them to. This, of course, is a reference to the almost daily gaffs committed by Joe Biden. The Vice-President also repeated the now thoroughly discredited assertion that Romney/Ryan want to cut taxes on the wealthy by 5 Trillion dollars, an accusation the President had made three times in last week's debate to no avail due to Mitt Romney's masterful handling of the issue. Congressman Ryan did not address this issue as directly as Mitt Romney did in his debate, which was disappointing to me. I thought Paul Ryan's closing statement was very strong and in sharp contrast to Joe Biden's weak-kneed defense of one of the worst administrations in modern history.
     In the final analysis, Ryan won but I don't think either side will lose or gain much as a result of the debate last night. The win was not decisive enough that the left can't spin it into a tie or even a win for Joe Biden. I think in the grand scheme of the campaign, especially after the next two presidential debates, this debate probably won't have much effect on the outcome of the election.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Obama's Big Bird Lays an Egg

     Last Wednesday night at the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney said he would cut government funding of PBS. Since then, the Obama campaign has been trying to make hay out of the comment, saying that Mitt Romney wants to kill Big Bird. Earlier this week the Obama campaign went so far as to put out an ad which mocks Governor Romney for his position on PBS funding by accusing him of thinking that Big Bird is a menace. The ad is the product of a desperate campaign. With the economy on the brink of collapse, record levels of debt and a foreign policy which has recently had it's incompetence and lies exposed vis a vis the Middle East in general and Libya specifically, the Obama campaign thinks Big Bird should be the focus of our national attention.
     The President's Big Bird strategy has fallen flat, especially after the producers and owners of the Sesame Street brand have requested that the ad be taken down. They claim to have no political bias and don't involve themselves in political campaigns. This, of course, is an embarrassment for the President, even more than the ad itself. The Sesame Street folks say that Big Bird is not an endangered species and that they could function fine without the taxpayer money they receive from the government.
     The fact is that the taxpayer money (in addition to 1 million dollars of stimulus money) that is given to PBS, only accounts for about 18 percent of their annual budget. The rest comes from corporate and private sponsorship. As a going concern, PBS in general and Sesame Street specifically, are profitable enterprises and don't need the taxpayer money they receive to survive. The Sesame Street enterprise, according to IRS filings, is worth 350 million dollars. The money, to a large degree, comes from the merchandising of plush toys in the image of Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch and the rest of the gang.
     Beyond the fact that PBS doesn't need taxpayer money to insure it's survival, I never thought it was proper for taxpayer money to be used in this way. Why should one network receive taxpayer funding and not another? Do we really want the government picking winners and losers in the free market, making them less free. Individual shows and their networks in general should succeed if they have an audience and fail if they don't. The government should not sanction certain content over others and then use our money to support the content they deem essential. This kind of corporate welfare is exactly what the left claims to be against, I guess corporate welfare is okay if you're an 8 foot 2 inch yellow bird.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Four Years After the Crisis

     It is hard to believe that it has been four years since the financial crisis, which was the impetus for an expansion of government, the likes of which we have never seen. The imposition of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) on the market and financial system was the biggest mistake of the Bush administration. I cringe everytime I think about President Bush saying, "We have to abandon free market principles, in order to save the free market." I like President Bush and think our country owes him a debt of gratitude for his success in fighting the war on terror and keeping us safe. And, even with the crisis, his economic record would be highly enviable by any administration. The average unemployment rate during the Bush years was 4.9 percent and average GDP growth was 3.1 percent. The government still spent too much but his addition of 5 trillion to the debt in 8 years is dwarfed by President Obama's addition of 6 trillion in just four. If it wasn't for the spending and that pesky TARP program, his presidency would have been near perfect.
     I think that President Bush trusted the advice of his Treasury Secretary and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke respectively. They made the President believe in their doomsday scenario of a complete collapse of the financial markets, unless he authorized hundreds of billions of dollars. The money, as the program name implies, was to be used to buy troubled assets, the mortgage-backed securities, so that the financial institutions could get them off their books. What actually happened was that the funds were given to the banks with little restrictions. Much of the money was used to buy treasuries, earning the banks interest on taxpayer money, a sweet deal. My question of the TARP believers has always been, "If the financial system was about to collapse, then how could the money have been repaid to the government so quickly (within 18 months)."
     To understand the orgins of the crisis, one needs to begin in the 1970s. President Carter signed into law the Community Reinvestment Act, which required mortgage lenders to make loans in economically depressed areas to people who didn't have any money. Under the Clinton Administration the program was expanded and the Justice Department threatened financial institutions with criminal investigations if they didn't participate. Eventually, mortgage lenders were required to make almost a quarter of their loans to people they knew would never repay the loans. Democrats in Congress allowed  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower the requirements for loans, no money down and no proof of employment. The rest of the mortgage industry had to comply or basically go out of business. Democrats in Congress also pushed to lower the requirements and standards for mortgage lenders' licenses. This created a perfect environment for unscrupulous lenders, which in turn lead to the further downward slide of the entire industry. With the greater demand for housing, values sky-rocketed and with the ability for people to borrow more than their house was worth, so did the mortgages.
     The banks were not going to lose money, so they packaged up the bad loans with some good ones and sold them on the open market in what is called mortgage-backed securities. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac actually held seminars for mortgage lenders, teaching them the practice. These securities kept getting resold until there was no one left to sell them to and the gig was up. The government required these assetts to be valued with a process called, Mark to Market. Which meant the assetts had no intrinsic value, but were only worth what some one would pay for them that day on the market. Once the assetts started to be deemed worthless, it didn't take long for the house of cards to collapse.  
     The entire crisis was driven mostly by the liberal idea of fairness. In their estimation, it wasn't fair that some people owned homes and some didn't. So they used the power of government to be the great equalizer and provide a way for those who couldn't afford a home to get one. Many Republicans went along with them, in order to be politically correct and avoid being called anti-poor or anti-minority. When President Bush tried to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the early and mid 2000s, Democrats excoriated him and called him a racist. People like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Maxine Waters said there was nothing wrong with Fannie and Freddie and that to suggest otherwise was racist.
     In conclusion, the financial crisis of 2008 is illustrative of what happens when government over-steps its bounds and meddles in the private sector. Had there been no government mandate for sub-prime loans, the market for them would not have existed. Mortgage lenders would have required proof of income, 20% down and a host of other standards which protected them, the borrower and ultimately the financial system as a whole.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Presidential Mitt Romney

     I admit it, during the Republican primaries I did not support Mitt Romney. There were many reasons for my non-support, but it turned out that I really didn't know the real Mitt Romney. Over the last four months I have come to realize how wrong I was during the primaries. Three recent examples have been illustrative of Mitt Romney's presidential stature.
     The first incident was Mitt Romney's statement after our embassy in Cairo, Egypt was attacked and our flag destroyed. Governor Romney was very presidential as he stood up for America and its values. His subsequent news conference the next day stood in stark contrast to President Obama's "blame America first statement." A president is not only a CEO, but should be an advocate for the United States and the values outlined in our founding documents. Mitt Romney, in response to criticism from the administration and others on the left, said that it is never too early to stand up for American values. In that one statement he showed more presidential timber than President Obama has shown in four years.
     Last Wednesday night, at the first Presidential debate, Mitt Romney again showed presidential chops as he stood on stage for 90 minutes and disassembled the disaster that has been the Obama Presidency. The White House and the media tried to blame everyone and everything for the President's dismal performance, but I think it wasn't that he was so bad, it was that Mitt Romney was so good. He confronted the President with his record and remained the consummate gentleman. He looked at the President like a man as he made his case against him, in contrast the President avoided eye contact like a petulant child. Mitt Romney showed even more presidential prowess with his command of the facts.
     Yesterday, October 8, Mitt Romney gave a speech on foreign policy at the Virginia Military Institute. He weaved a foreign policy that was coherent and competent, one that stood in stark contrast to the weak kneed, appeasement policy of the Obama administration. He explained why a strong military is the best way to avoid war. He didn't use the words of Ronald Reagan, peace through strength, but the Reagan doctrine was in evidence throughout his speech. And once again, Mitt Romney, showed a knowledge and competence in foreign policy, just as he had done less than a week ago in the domestic policy arena.
     What makes a good president is competence in the job but also a burning desire to promote American values and an understanding of American exceptionalism. He must show strength and humility in the same breath. He must lead, but not by dictating but by gentle persuasion rooted in the truth and reason. I believe, after having watched Mitt Romney for the last few months that he is the leader that this country needs and the kind of leader that the world needs this country to have. Ronald Reagan once said that no war in the last hundred years occurred because America was too strong. I think Mitt Romney instinctively knows this and will work to make America a force for good here and around the world.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Secret Mission of Ambassador Stevens

     When the U.S. consulate was attacked in Libya on September 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, the Obama administration engaged in diversionary tactics for over a week. At first, their tactics were assumed to be a cover-up for their incompetence in providing the Ambassador and others with the proper security. They blamed spontaneous attacks, instigated by an obscure anti-Muslim YouTube video. It wasn't long before the truth was known, that the attacks were pre-planned by Al Queda and that the administration knew this even as they continued to blame the video. Then CNN found Ambassador Stevens' journal among the rubble in Benghazi. The journal showed that the Ambassador had security concerns and probably expressed those concerns to the administration.
     Recent documents unearth in Benghazi tell a story of an even greater sin committed by the Obama administration than incompetence. These newly discovered documents suggest that Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi on a mission to track and confiscate weapons that the administration had put in the hands of Al Queda when they thought they were arming the Libyan rebels. If it was discovered that the Obama administration had armed Al Queda, it would have been a double whammy for the White House. First, it would have completely destroyed the narrative advanced by the administration that Al Queda had been neutered with the  death of Osama Bin Laden. And secondly, the specter of an administration that is so feckless as to arm our enemies, is not the impression you want the American people to have in their minds as they go to the voting booth in November.
     The administration did not want to draw attention to Ambassador Stevens' secret mission, so they gave him only the most basic security detail. When the Ambassador realized that the mission had become more dangerous, he requested more security. Unfortunately, for the ambassador and the others, the administration ignored his requests. This, of course, was deadly for Ambassador Stevens and his people. The greater realization is that the Obama administration thought so little of American lives when they weighed them against their own political fortunes. The President, with his actions, made his re-election a priority over the lives of those who serve him. Then he called their deaths, "A bump in the road". I wonder how many more "bumps" will be forthcoming in the weeks before the election.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

The War on Men

     A thought occurred to me the other day as I listened to a breast cancer commercial on the radio, probably the fifth or sixth one for that day. I wondered, where were the commercials about prostate cancer, or the walks to end prostate cancer, or the male version of the pink ribbon. I assumed that prostate cancer must be much more rare than breast cancer. One check of the Google machine told me that, on a yearly basis, there are as many men diagnosed with prostate cancer as there are women diagnosed with breast cancer. So why the very public support for anti-breast cancer initiatives and the apparent lack of recognition of prostate cancer? I think it is all part of a war on men that has taken place over the last 20 to 30 years.
     One only needs to watch any recent situation comedy or commercial to see men being denigrated and mocked. They're stupid and neanderthal. And it is perfectly OK, according to these pop culture sources, for even children to marginalize and mock their fathers. Part and parcel to this anti-male thinking is the emphasis put on the positive nature of female traits and the negative emphasis on male traits. Inherently male traits have been discouraged in young males for the last 20 years. Even though studies have shown that women are attracted to, and seek out men with the very traits that have been discouraged in young males. The most sublime example is forcing little boys to play with dolls instead of trucks and guns, the most harmful is the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder in many young males. A recent study completed by the University of Michigan found that every year over a million young males are misdiagnosed with ADD. Part of the reason is the increased funding that schools receive for each case they diagnose, and part of the reason is the desire on the left to mitigate the influence in society of male traits.
     One of the most harmful effects of the war on men is the rise in single-mother homes. Young women are brain-washed into thinking that they don't need a man to have children, beyond providing the sperm for conception. This has caused many problems in our society, statistics and studies have shown that those raised in single-parent homes are much more likely to have drug and alcohol problems. They are also more likely to end up in prison, nearly 80 percent of all those in prison are from single-parent homes. Conversely, those children who are raised by a mother and a father who live in the same home, are much more likely to have happier and more successful lives.
     I don't think that it is any secret that a child receives positive traits from both the male and female characteristics of their mother and father. Emphasizing one over the other, or compelling young boys to mimic the female traits that they don't inherently possess, is not only destructive to them, but is destructive to our society as a whole. Let girls be girls and boys be boys and celebrate the better angels of both sexes, this is the recipe for a better society with fewer of the social ills caused by denying the very nature of men and women.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

The Magic of Obama Math

     The Obama administration knows that no President has ever been re-elected with an unemployment rate above 8 percent. After 44 months of unemployment over that level, today's employment data for September magically showed an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent. This miracle was accomplished with the addition in September of only 114 thousands jobs. Arguably Ronald Reagan inherited an economy that was worse than the one inherited by President Obama, and by this point in the Reagan recovery the economy was adding 500 thousand jobs a month. So how, you may ask, did the Obama administration lower unemployment with such pathetic job growth? The answer can be found in the work force participation rate.
     The work force participation rate is the percentage of working age adults who are employed or actively seeking work. This number is a full 2 percentage points lower than when President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009. This means that the administration has written off millions of unemployed people in order to make it appear that a higher percentage of people are employed. If the work force participation rate was the same as when President Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.7 percent.
     The current employment numbers are not even up to the task of a recovery that is just beginning, let alone one that is over 3 years old (the official recovery began in June of 2009-Remember Joe Biden calling it "Recovery Summer").  Even if you accept the bogus unemployment number that was reported today, it is exactly where it was when the President started his term. So after 6 trillion dollars in new debt, we are back to where we started. What did we get for our money? The administration wants everyone to believe that happy days are here again. Tell that to the millions of unemployed, under-employed and the millions that have been dropped off the face of the earth by this administration. I'm sure those people are not doing a jig over the spurious data used by the administration in order to keep a failed President in office for four more years.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Clear Win For Romney In the First Debate

     Last night the first Presidential debate of the 2012 election campaign was held in Denver, Colorado. The debate was moderated by Jim Lehrer, of PBS's Jim Lehrer's Newshour. It was more free-flowing than debates in the past, and the questions were more topics of discussion rather than being specific and pointed. I thought Mr. Lehrer did an admirable job and showed no bias, letting each man exceed his time limits several times. President Obama and Governor Romney were both well prepared and there were no major stumbles or gaffs. That being said, I thought Mitt Romney was the clear winner.
     Going into the debate I thought it was the President's job to convince people that his policies were the correct ones for the country , and subsequently he deserved re-election. Mr. Romney's job, on the other hand, was to show that the Obama policies were the wrong ones and that the country should make a change by electing him as the next President. I felt that taken in total, Mitt Romney was more successful than the President at fulfilling his mission.
     The debate topics covered taxes, health care, the deficit and the role of the federal government.  I thought in each category, Mitt Romney made a strong case for the conservative policies he champions and, by contrast,  President Obama did not effectively defend his record on any of the categories. Mitt Romney, I thought, succeeded in accurately characterizing the economic malaise in which we currently find ourselves, and tying it to the Obama policies of the last four years. I thought Governor Romney's weakest area was on health care, but even there he scored points by firmly stating his intent to repeal Obamacare. Recent polling shows that well over 60% of the American people support repeal, and I think it is a winning issue for Mr. Romney.
     President Obama's strategy seemed to be his typical modus operandi, misstate Mitt Romney's position and then argue against the misstated position. The most glaring example of this strategy was his insistence that Governor Romney wanted 5 trillion dollars in tax cuts. Even after Mr. Romney corrected the President several times, the President continued to misrepresent Mitt Romney's position. But I think Mitt Romney was effective in fending off these obvious attempts by the President to switch the focus to anything other than his failed policies.
     I thought it was interesting that during the closing statements, President Obama slipped and said that each person should get their fair share and quickly corrected himself and said everyone should do his fair share. A slip, that I think, represents his redistributive inclinations. I don't know how much impact this debate will ultimately have on the election outcome next month. But one thing is clear, I believe it helped Mitt Romney more than it did the President. I can't imagine the President's performance switched any Romney people or convinced the fence-sitters to vote for him. I do think that it is more possible that the opposite is true for Mitt Romney.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Obama's Second Inaugeral

     If all the angels of heaven stand back and God Himself abandons this great nation, what follows resembles what I think President Obama's second inaugural address will contain.
     My fellow citizens, now that the campaign of 2012 is behind us, let us begin the campaign to bring real justice to America and the world. For real justice comes not in the imposition of ideals, but in the equality of outcomes. And one man's struggle is not to be suffered alone, but shared by all until there is no more struggle by any man.
     These lessons were taught to me as a child by my mother, but were the fervent dream of my father. It was a dream of a world in which a new social justice would rule. A world where wrongs would be righted, whether those wrongs were between countrymen or nations. A world in which the oppressors would be minimized and the oppressed raised up. As a child I remember becoming enlightened at the elbow of my grandfather, Stanley Dunham and his friend, Frank Marshall Davis. There, in a smoke-filled room heavy with the smell of whiskey, my eyes and heart were opened to the injustices perpetrated by my own country on its own citizens and the citizens of the world. They would talk about a new politician that could summon the power to bring a new social justice to all men. This new leader would create the way for the aggrieved of the world to be made whole and for the oppressors to share what was so generously bestowed upon them. I wonder now if they knew that the young child in their presence would be that man.
     The dream of my father, grandfather, Frank Davis and many others begins when this this great nation leaves behind the behaviors it learned in its colonial past and enters a new era of cooperation. An era where every nation, every value system and every culture has an equal seat at the table of humanity. A world where there is no good and evil or right and wrong . A world where Peace does not come at the tip of a missile or the muzzle of a gun, but from the ink that flows from the pen that is used to sign a new covenant. A covenant which forever ties the salvation of one man to the salvation of all men. A covenant which grows the collective wealth of all men, not just the few. And a covenant which compels the arrogant to atone for their arrogance by lifting up those oppressed by their arrogance.
     I have taken the first step towards that new covenant. This week I have spoken to Russian President Medveded, and have assured him of a new era of cooperation. I told him I would carry through on my promise to be more flexible, and that by the end of my second term, the United States would eliminate its nuclear arsenal. For we can not expect other nations of the world to behave peacefully until the source of their anxiety is removed. We can not eliminate the nuclear arsenals of other nations while we still possess ours. The United States will be an example to the rest of the world. Instead of imposing our will with nuclear-tipped missiles, we will commit ourselves to the brotherhood of man with an outstretched hand of friendship.
     The road ahead is going to be long and the path may be a rocky one, but we will travel it together. I invite members of Congress to join the journey in a new spirit of cooperation. But make no mistake, if Congress refuses to enact the policies for a better world, I will use the authority of my office to enact them through executive order.
     For those of you who understand and are with me, I welcome your continued support and input. For those who are not, I hope in the coming months and years I can re-educate and submerse you in a new way of thinking that values each man equally based on his membership in humanity. Together we can build a nation and a world where the contributions of each person is valued equally and the fruits of the collective contributions are likewise shared equally. I look forward to taking this journey to a better world with you and thank you again for your support.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

The Obamagate Scandals

     Someone once said, "If you're going to lie, lie big and lie often." This statement has not only been the modus operandi of the Obama Administration, but they have expanded it to include scandals. There have been so many scandals in this administration, the public has become weary from the drama they have created.
     Scandal number one was the 787 billion dollar stimulus, passed less than a month after President Obama was inaugurated. At the time, the President had huge majorities in both the House and the Senate and was easily able to pass the bill without Republican support. The bill was to fund shovel-ready projects, which a year and a half later the President joked, "I guess the shovel-ready projects weren't so shovel-ready." He promised that the stimulus would keep unemployment under 8 percent, and actually lower it to 6 percent by this point in his term. For the record, unemployment has been over 8 percent for a record 44 consecutive months. Where did the money go? The President saw fit to give billions of taxpayer dollars to his campaign bundlers and donors who created phony solar companies and then went bankrupt after they got the money. Solendra was the most notable, but there were over a dozen. He also gave billions more to his union supporters.
     Scandal number two was Obamacare. The President again made promises he didn't keep, and probably had no intention of keeping. The cost, according to the latest Congressional Budget Office estimates, is three times what the President said. And the cost is rising every year, and the law has not even been implemented yet. He also said health care premiums would decrease for the average American, has yours? Another selling point of Obamacare was that if you like your current plan and doctor, you can keep them both. Millions of Americans have lost their coverage and doctor as a direct result of Obamacare. The health care law has also slowed job growth because companies, especially small businesses, don't want to take on the risk of new employees with Obamacare on the horizon. Oh, and the President pilfered over 700 billion from Medicare to help defray the enormous cost of his ill-advised health care scam. So much for seniors getting the care they need, which they paid for all those years. Then to make matters worse, when the law was before the Supreme Court this past Summer, the President was informed by his former Solicitor General and current Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan, that the court was going to strike down the law. The President and his minions in the media implemented a public intimidation campaign against Chief Justice Roberts, who ended up changing his vote to accommodate the President.
     Scandal number three is the fast and furious program which was implemented by the Obama justice Department in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco. They deliberately allowed guns to walk over the Mexican border to the waiting arms of Mexican drug cartels. They lost track of the guns, which were subsequently used in the murder of hundreds of Mexicans and a U.S. border agent. The administration lied and blamed it on the Bush administration. The program started and ended during the Bush administration was called "Wide Receiver" and used guns in the same way that law enforcement uses drugs, they arrest the criminals before they walk away with them. The President then used Executive privilege to protect Attorney General Eric Holder, when he was caught red-handed in a web of lies.
     And finally there is the scandal that is President Obama's Middle East policy, which lead to the death our Libyan ambassador and three other Americans. He and his administration deliberately lied about the incident being a pre-planned Al Queada attack. Instead they wanted the American people to believe the attack was the fault of an anti-Muslim video. They apologized to the Muslim world for our form of free speech guaranteed by the Constitution and jailed the film's creator at the request of former Muslim Brotherhood head and current Egyptian leader, Mohamed Morsi.
     And people on the left thought Watergate was a horrible scandal. At least Watergate didn't involve trillions of taxpayer dollars, the public intimidation of a Supreme Court Justice, hundreds of dead Mexicans and a border agent, a dead ambassador and a film maker in jail because of what he thinks. The Biggest scandal of the Obama administration is the flogging of the Constitution.

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The Arrogance of the Propagandist

     It has been three weeks since the terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in the middle east which left our Libyan ambassador and three others dead. Since then, we have learned that the administration knew the attacks were pre-planned by Al Qeada within 24 hours of the incident, and that Ambassador Stevens had expressed security concerns prior to the attacks. Nothing was done to beef-up security or to mitigate the effects of such attacks. The President, as recently as last week, was still blaming an obscure anti-Muslim video on YouTube for the attacks and proffering the narrative that the attacks were spontaneous. This kind of blind arrogance, that they could subjugate the truth to their own propaganda, has been the modus operandi of an administration and a President that has employed the tactics of all authoritarian leaders.
     I like to call it, "The Arrogance of the Propagandist." They have used the same tactic with everything they have done, from health care to their campaign to win re-election. They believe that, with their willing accomplices in the mainstream media, they can control the flow of information to the masses. This is the driving force behind their demonization of anyone who disagrees with them or that report facts that don't support their agenda. It is this arrogance which recently allowed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to accuse Mitt Romney of paying no income tax for the last ten years. Even after Governor Romeny's tax returns were released and exposed Senator Reid's lie, he continued to engage in the deception. This kind of outright deception has been a favorite tactic of the left for decades. From the revision of history that casts the Democrat KKK as being a right-wing organization to the sanitising of history of the fact that the Jim Crow laws in the segregationist south were the handiwork of Democrat politicians.
     This arrogance has been fed by the left's control of the media, which up until 20 years ago, was a monopoly. And even with the advent of talk radio, the Internet and Fox News, they still believe they have a media monopoly. That is why they try so hard to marginalize the sources of balanced news, making some people believe that they are radical outliers. They never debate the substance of the news and commentary that flows from the alternative media, they only demonize and personally attack its practitioners.
     Which brings me back to the terrorist attacks of three weeks ago. It is frightening enough to me the ease with which the administration deliberately lied to gain a political advantage. By blaming the attacks on a video made by a Christain filmmaker, the administration was hoping to make the link in peoples minds between the filmmaker and Conservatives. What is more frightening is the arrogance of the President to keep lying, even after the Libyan President, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and many in the mainstream media said the attacks were pre-planned and had nothing to do some obscure video. I dare say, the emperor has no clothes.