Friday, November 2, 2012

Government and the Hurricane

One of the most disturbing similarities between hurricanes Sandy and Katrina (and others as well, I’m sure) is the astonishing lack of preparation by some of the people who live in the affected areas and who had ample warning of the coming storm.  In my estimation, those in the Sandy area have been much better prepared than the people of New Orleans were.  Still, I’ve been seeing and hearing reports about people being desperate for basic things like food and clean drinking water, even though it’s only been a few days since the storm hit.  Forgive me but what kind of people are forewarned of a massive hurricane coming and they don’t go to the store and stock up on a few basic necessities? 

The answer, I fear, is people who have become so dependent on government that their natural instincts to prepare for an emergency have been slowly erased, like genetic traits that are obsolete.  Instead, these people wait until the crisis is at hand, and their newly evolved instincts kick in:  they whine, beg and steal.

I cannot think of a greater indictment against government dependence.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

What IS Personal Responsibility?

Among the many other things we have seen re-defined at the hands of liberals we can add to that the concept of what it means to be “personally responsible.”  Apparently it is now sufficient to merely mouth the words, “I take personal responsibility” and without suffering any consequences for your actions (or lack thereof) or taking any action, you are to take a bow and be held in the highest esteem for your great display of maturity.  After all, finding ways to bask in undeserved credit is what the Left excels at.

Consider the Benghazi incident.  During his second debate with Romney Obama loftily declared to the nation that he is “taking personal responsibility,” for what occurred there.  But of course he did so without actually accepting any blame, and within seconds of making his declaration he turned around and angrily declared that he was “offended” at any suggestion that his White House was keeping information from the American people.  “I take responsibility but don’t you dare try and hold me accountable.”  That is, in effect, what he was saying.

It comes as no surprise to me when liberals have the arrogance to “assume responsibility” without assuming responsibility.  Always in search of the respect and admiration bestowed upon those who truly behave like bona fide adults – selfless, strong, wise – they try to earn respect through imitation.  But without the spirit and core principles from which these traits arise, they always get it wrong, and they come off as what they are:  children play-acting at being adults.   That’s why they believe that taking responsibility can be demonstrated by merely saying the words.

A real adult does not necessarily need to come out and announce that he is “taking responsibility.”  That’s because it would already be evident in his behavior.  He would expose himself to questioning and face-to-face criticism, and not just with friendly sources.  He would genuinely accept blame when it’s due by saying, “I failed to...” or “My administration failed to...”  He would truly – not just rhetorically – hold people accountable by firing, demoting or otherwise punishing those who significantly contributed to failure.  But Obama doesn’t have to do any of that, because the new normal has now been established. 

The man from the audience in that second debate whose question prompted Obama’s “I take personal responsibility” claim appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s show the following night.  When she asked if he was satisfied with Obama’s answer, his response shocked and dismayed me.  Paraphrasing, he said he was satisfied because Obama “took personal responsibility.” 

So there you have it.  The conventional wisdom used to be that actions speak louder than words.  Under the new normal, words speak louder than actions.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mitt Romney and the Coming Storm

They say that a storm of monumental proportions is coming to the east coast.  As I write this, the Obama administration is busy formulating their strategy so as not to let this newest “crisis” go to waste.  How much money can we hand out, and how fast.  That will be their calculation.  Obama’s tired old stump speech will be re-written to include an homage to himself as the benefactor of the storm’s “victims,” with not so much as a “gee, thanks,” passed along to the real benefactors – the U.S. taxpayers.

It pains me to be so cynical but I think Romney had better have a plan as well.  And the answer isn’t hard to see if he simply looks within himself and asks, what would I do if this were my community (and it may be, given that he hails from Massachusetts)?  Going forward, Romney should take every opportunity to address the folks on the east coast.  He should call on people to stand strong and take responsibility for themselves and their families by being well-prepared or by getting out of harm’s way.  He should appeal to people to be good neighbors and to assist those who need help getting ready or getting out of the area.  He should press communities to come together to prepare, rather than wait for the government to come along after the damage is done.  By doing this he will not only encourage people in the path of the storm to do what’s best for themselves.  He will be reinforcing principles of personal responsibility and local community strength over helpless reliance on government.  And it won’t hurt my feelings if he takes some of the wind (or should I say hot air) out of Obama’s sails.

Do I think he’ll do this?  No, I don’t.  I think he will listen to his advisors and to the politician within himself rather than the self-made man within himself, and he will talk about what goodies a Mitt Romney administration would hand out if he was in charge. 

Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fools in Pink

Recently I was perusing various online news pages when I came upon a front-page story about a group of women from Code Pink who were in Pakistan to take part in organized protests against U.S.-lead drone strikes targeting anti-U.S. militants.  One of the things that struck me from the article was a comment made by one of Code Pink’s leaders who said, “People are taking great risks to come here.” 

Are they really?  Let us ponder this for a moment.  They’re going to a place where anti-U.S. sentiment is very strong in order to protest against the U.S.  While there may be a certain amount of risk involved, that risk pales in comparison to the risk taken by those who defy the Taliban.  As if to magically underscore this point, the same news page also had a story about the 14-year old Pakistani girl who was sought out and shot in the head by members of the Taliban while she was at school.  Seems the girl had openly defied the Taliban by advocating education for females in Pakistan, and they decided to teach her a lesson and send a message to other girls who might question the will of the Taliban and the place of females in their society.  The juxtaposition between this girl and the Code Pinkers could not be more powerful and more revealing.  On the one hand the Code Pinkers openly tout their own bravery for actions which, if successful, assists in removing the only real threat to the likes of those who attacked this young girl.  On the other hand we have a young girl who, without ever touting her own bravery, does something truly courageous and stands up to the Taliban.  In doing so she gives the world a stark reminder of who our drones are targeting, and shows what a useful fool looks like when it dons the color pink.

At one time I might have wondered, if the Code Pinkers sincerely want to assist innocent victims of violence and are willing to risk their own lives, why don’t they organize protests against the Taliban instead of the U.S.?  After all, if the Taliban were to be defeated, there would no longer be a need for drones, correct?  That would solve everyone’s problem.  But having studied the Left for quite a long time now, I already know the answer.  In the first place, focusing on the Taliban is just so ordinary and obvious.  Anyone can hate the Taliban but it takes a very special person to understand that the U.S. is the real bad guy here, and above all the Code Pinkers truly want to be seen as special.  Secondly, standing against the Taliban might invite real risk to the Code Pinkers, and really the only blood they want to get on themselves is the fake blood they use as props when they confront civilized folks (like Condoleeza Rice) who they can rest assured will not respond with violence. 

They say you can tell a person’s true character by the things they do when they think no one is looking.  A similar law applies here.  You can tell a true leftist by their propensity to ignore the most evil in society in favor of focusing on those targets that offer the best potential for attention for the least amount of personal risk.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Answering Mitt Romney's Garbage Man

I saw a report today on an anti-Romney commercial featuring a garbage collector who works in Romney’s neighborhood in La Jolla California.  I didn’t see the whole ad and can’t remember the fellow’s name but apparently he was angry with Romney for not being sufficiently sympathetic to him because he has a physically hard job and he’ll be worn out by the time he’s 55 years old.  Like all liberal claims the charge contains a subtle strawman argument – the assumption that Romney doesn’t sympathize with people who work in low-level jobs.  But the reason I bring it up is because it should be an opening to a sorely needed discussion about personal choices and consequences, although it won’t be.

Elections, Barack Obama tells us, have consequences.  Well guess what?  The choices we make in our lives have consequences too, or at least they should.  A 55-year old man who’s working on a garbage truck is, in all likelihood, doing so because he made a series of decisions in life.  Maybe he never graduated from high school.  Maybe he decided higher education was too expensive and too time-consuming.  Maybe he never pursued any other training or educational opportunities that might have given him the skills to advance to a higher level position.  Maybe he was busy raising a family and didn’t have time – that’s a choice too. 

No one in this country is slated to be a garbage collector or anything else in life, that’s the beauty of a free country.  I’ve known many people who started with nothing and overcame hardships to attain success in their lives and their careers.  I’ve also known people who traded higher incomes for other things they valued, such as the opportunity to do something they love, to live where they preferred, to accommodate a spouse or for any number of reasons.  Those are all valid choices in life but they often come at a cost.  The question is this:  who should pay for the cost of your choices?  Do the people who invested the time and money to go to college and earn a higher income owe something to those who chose to spend their time and money differently? 

The natural consequences of our choices in life are nature’s way of steering us towards better choices, thereby fostering a more thriving society.  Ordinarily the job of garbage man should attract young, uneducated men who do it for awhile to make ends meet but who eventually are motivated to take the steps to find better jobs because it is hard, tedious, filthy work.  Unions and government intervention (read leftist intervention) have thwarted nature’s divine plan by creating artificial rewards that wouldn’t otherwise exist; thus we have 55-year old men doing jobs that were intended for younger, unskilled men, and then complaining to Mitt Romney because it’s a hard job for a 55-year old man. 

It is a great thing when the wealthy in a society are willing to share the fruits of their success with those less fortunate; yet it is also incumbent upon society to not artificially insulate people from their choices in life such that personal choices become irrelevant and all of society has to bear the price.  That’s a recipe for a failed society.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Don’t Cry for Pussy Riot, America

If there is one thing you can always count on in this world it is the Left’s unwavering penchant for reducing the sacred principles of free societies to meaningless slogans that serve no one but themselves.  The most recent example of this is the supposed ‘free speech’ incident involving the Russian feminist group, Pussy Riot.  If their name alone doesn’t tell you which side of this debate you should be on, please read on.   

Back in February five members of ‘Pussy Riot’ donned ski masks, tights and short skirts, then stormed the altar during a religious service at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, treating the surprised church crowd to a protest performance aimed at Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orhodox Church.  Three members of the group were subsequently sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism” stemming from this incident.  Naturally the Left, who are attracted to phony causes like bears to a beehive, are up in arms.  Sensing a golden opportunity to express righteous but misplaced indignation, some have been quick to vocalize their unhappiness under the false presumption that people actually care what they think.  Madonna showed her support when she performed at a concert in Moscow with the words “Pussy Riot” painted on her back.  Oh what a brave freedom fighter she is!  Was she hauled off the stage and placed in a cell or forced to flee the country under threat of harm?  Well, no, not exactly.  She stayed in a fine hotel where she was pampered like a princess but still, don’t you just admire her courage?  LOL.  Another supporter is Julian Assange.  Enough said.

Let me see if I can accurately paraphrase the Left’s argument here.  “Free speech”  means having the liberty to interrupt someone else’s religious service, commandeer the altar that other people have paid for and force those present to listen to a punk-rock version of your political grievances whether they wish to or not.  Is that a reasonable summation?  Okie dokie.  May I presume then that Madonna wouldn’t mind if I seized the stage at one of her concerts to deliver a speech on the evils of liberalism and the need to elect Mitt Romney while I have a captive audience of Bozo brains?  

It’s becoming trite to point out the hypocrisy in everything the Left does.  By this point, hopefully, it is just assumed.

The children of the Left would never understand this but the “right” to free speech is not a right to impose one’s views on others whether they wish to hear them or not.  There’s a different name for that:  bullying.  That’s what the Left does best.  When you can show me that Pussy Riot was prevented from delivering their message in their own venue or in free venues such as the internet, then we can talk about free speech.  Until then here is my response to Madonna and Assange and all the other Pussy Riot supporters:  shut the hell up.

P.S. to Pussy Riot:
Enjoy your time in jail.  You get no sympathy from me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What has the Obama Presidency “Revealed” About Obama?

I didn’t see Michelle Obama’s speech the other night, but I’ve seen a few people, including one writer at CNN online, quoting this line from her speech: 

"Being president doesn't change who you are. ... It reveals who you are."

Wow.  That’s quite a nice line, to be sure.  Unless you actually think about it, that is.  Because, even being as objective as I can possibly be, I can’t think of anything good that’s been revealed about Barack Obama by his presidency.

Being president has revealed that, contrary to his criticisms of Bush and the promises made in 2008, Obama obviously has no sincere interest in reducing the debt.  In fact, he’s been quite busy doing just the opposite – multiplying it as fast as he possibly can as if he’s on some kind of game show.

Obama revealed that he doesn’t care about balancing the budget during our lifetimes, because he proposed a budget so absurd that it was laughed out of congress – even by democrats.

If you believe Obama’s claims that he thought an $800 billion stimulus was the solution to our problems and it didn’t work because he didn’t really understand how bad off we really were, then It’s been revealed that he’s clueless about the economy.  If you believe he had other motives in mind, as I do, then it’s been revealed that the health of the U.S. economy doesn’t matter to Obama except to the extent that he needs to give people just enough hope to be re-elected.  Either way, nothing good has been revealed.

The Obama presidency has revealed that he’s an enforcer of socialized medicine, willing to shove it down the throat of every American whether they want it or not.  And it’s been revealed that this took precedence over most everything else in his first term, including jobs.  Also revealed were his plans to socialize the cost of higher education (so that people who chose not to go to college have to pay for those who did), mortgage losses (so that people who take responsibility for their choices have to pay for those who don’t), and losses in the auto industry (so union members keep their jobs at the expense of taxpayers), among others.  He’s a socialist, Michelle.  That’s what’s been revealed.

He’s revealed that his criticisms of the war were just political posturing, as he has continued a similar path to George Bush with a war of his own, minus the will to actually win it.

He revealed that he is a divider of Americans: rich vs. poor, men vs. women, white vs. non-white, gay vs. straight.  There’s a great trait in a U.S. president, eh Michelle?

He’s revealed that this country, under his administration, is to be run by unelected “czars."

He’s revealed that he does not actually believe in transparency in the government, as he boasted in 2008, because he has not overseen a transparent administration. 

I can only assume that Michelle and her speechwriters were counting on people not to think too hard about what has been revealed in this Obama presidency.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rush is Wrong

Rush Limbaugh didn’t like Chris Christy’s speech.  Didn’t think there was enough direct criticism of Obama.  Of course everyone will have an opinion which they are entitled to, but I strongly disagree.

In his criticism of the speech, Rush said “This is about Obama,” and what I say to that is, it shouldn’t be.  Because if it’s about Obama, then that problem is easily remedied by simply electing a different democrat, isn’t it?  Hillary Clinton is not Obama, right?  In fact, every other democrat is not Obama.

What Christy did was very wise.  He made this a contrast between Left and Right, between liberal ideology and conservative ideology.  When you do that, and if you successfully make that case, you make every democrat an unacceptable choice, and that includes Obama.  And that’s the message we want to convey or at least it’s the message we should want to convey.

There will always be another Obama waiting in the wings.  Yeah we need to remind people of everything Obama’s done wrong.  But republicans also need to seize every opportunity to change minds for the long term, not just for this election.  That’s what Christy did last night.  He tried to sell the bigger picture.  And I loved his speech.

The Debating Game

In an old episode of the TV show, Monk, the detective is staying at a bed and breakfast where he had once honeymooned with his now deceased wife.  Usually a loner, he ends up having dinner with another guest and has too much to drink.  In the morning he tries to seek out that man, only to find that he has disappeared and all of the other guests claim to have never seen him.  It later turns out that the other guests had discovered the man was a thief carrying a large sum of cash, so they killed him for the cash and then denied his existence to a mystified Monk in an attempt to get away with their crime.  Before he could solve the mystery of the man’s disappearance Monk first had to understand and deal with the conspiracy of lies that stood in his way.

A similar scenario plays itself out every day in this country whenever conservatives try to debate contentious issues with the Left, debate being the cornerstone of our political system.   One recent example is the debate over voter ID laws.  It is incomprehensible that people do not understand the logic or accept the reasoning behind voter ID laws.  Voting integrity is fundamental to the democratic process and the requirement of ID, which almost everyone already has, is the most minor of requirements.  But democrats engage in a charade of pretending not to understand or agree, and as I watch such debates on TV the absurdity of their position is always captured in the look of disbelief on conservatives’ faces.  It is the same look of disbelief that showed on Monk’s face as he tried to comprehend the behavior of people he knew to be lying.

This is our world, our reality.  We play the game, according to the rules of polite society, of trying to reason with and persuade people who have no intention of playing by those same rules and whose only real goal, in essence, is to get away with their crime de jour.  In the case of voter ID laws, it is patently obvious that the real intent of the Left is to (A) compromise the integrity of the process so that fraudulent votes, which favor democrats, are less likely to be discovered; and (B) to not lose part of their voting base that they assume is too lazy to bother with getting an ID.  But knowing how unacceptable these reasons sound, they lie about their motives, making the “debate” completely meaningless.

And how about the debate over “free” contraception?  Sandra Fluke, the newly contrived heroine of the democratic party, talks indignantly about “women’s rights” and the faux “war on women” as a means to justify her crime - stealing from others to pay for her birth control.  Her lie, which says that free contraception is a woman’s “right,” is just like all other lies that hide the intent to steal behind the banner of “rights.”  It is a declaration of intent.  Regardless of the law, regardless of the Constitution, regardless of the opinions of those who will be stolen from, Fluke and her fellow democrats intend to take they want.  Any pretense at debate about it is just that – pretense.

We have to engage in the debate.  We have to make our case.  But we don’t have to play along with the lies.  Instead of arguing about voter responsibility and how easy it is to get an ID, we could say, “You’re trying to encourage voter fraud, THAT is your real goal, and we aren’t going to stand for it.”  And instead of arguing over the phony war on women and the imaginary difficulties of obtaining birth control, we could tell Ms. Fluke, “You want contraception paid for by people who don’t know you, who have no control over your behavior and who don’t owe you anything.  How ‘bout you get a job or keep your knickers on.”

More importantly, though, we have to recognize these charades for what they are – subtle declarations of intent to steal and to undermine our Constitution and our society – and we have to act accordingly.  Let’s get serious about people who are elected or appointed as judges, because they will be deciding whether or not we can pass laws to protect voting integrity.  And maybe we should pass some laws of our own, such as a law against any mandate that requires birth control (or anything else) be provided for “free.”

In the episode from Monk, it wasn’t long before he realized the uselessness of arguing over whether or not the man who disappeared had actually ever been to the bed and breakfast.  He knew the truth.  Instead he solved the case by first proving that the other guests were lying, and why.  It’s time to take a page from his book.

Friday, August 17, 2012

When Giving Became “Giving BACK”

For the past several years now I’ve been unable to peruse a newspaper or magazine without running into the latest human-interest story about somebody “giving back” to their community or, more likely, some self-proclaimed do-gooder calling on everyone else to “give back.”  Too many people don’t seem to realize that the seemingly innocuous “giving back” catch phrase was the precursor - and now close relative to - the “nobody got rich on his own” and “you didn’t build that” tripe being spewed by leftists like Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama.  While many have been swift and vocal in their rejection of the “you didn’t build that” comment, some of those same folks seem to have no problem happily chirping about “giving back.”

Let’s start with this question:  When did the term “share” suddenly become inadequate to describe what people do when they give some of what is theirs to others?  The answer is it became inadequate when the Left realized that to “share” implies charity - the voluntary giving of something that belongs to you as opposed to the fulfillment of an obligation that is owed to others.  When we “share,” no entitlement is implied, as it is when we “give back.”  “Giving back” is, as with all things the Left does, a subtle manipulation of language intended to instill a subliminal message.  It’s meant to change the way people think about what belongs to them and to others, without ever engaging in a debate about it.  And it’s been working quite well.  Well enough, in fact, that Obama felt emboldened to be a little more open with the plan, only to find out that people don’t really like the leftwing agenda when it’s not veiled in catchy, grade-school slogans.

And it shares another trait with many leftist ploys in that it’s difficult to confront as the Left will simply portray you as a “meany” who doesn’t appreciate others in the community if you don’t go along with the “giving back” scheme.  Nonetheless I suggest, my friends, that the next time someone cheerily imposes upon you to “give back,” that you challenge them a little bit by asking what they mean when they say “give back.”  When they stare at you, blinking, and mumble something about giving or charity, politely set them straight on the real meaning of charity.  

You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression

This past Sunday Paul Ryan gave an interview with Brit Hume of Fox News, a relatively friendly venue.  Though I’m not a Brit Hume fan, I was excited to see the interview as I assumed it would be a refreshing change from the rehearsed answers, obfuscations and talking points that we see on a daily basis in these campaigns.  But I was sorely disappointed. 

Ryan, who normally speaks with refreshing candor, sounded like he had just spent the past two hours cramming for a course on “How to Avoid Giving Straight Answers in an Interview.”  It was maddening to watch.  Clearly, he had been given a political makeover by the Romney people and prepped to use scripted answers.  Apparently the Romney folks are so worried Ryan might say something that deviates or conflicts with “the plan” that they thought it worth stifling the trademark honesty and openness that Ryan owes his popularity to.  Do I really need to say what a mistake I believe they’re making?

If the experience with Sarah Palin taught us nothing else we should have learned that the first few days and weeks of a candidate’s introduction to those who don’t know them is a critical time.  People not previously familiar with Ryan (and even those who are) are beginning to tune in and pay attention, and many will make their assessment – like the old adage tells us – within the first few minutes.  Is this really the first impression the Romney camp wants voters to have of Ryan – that he’s a typical politician who dances around questions and recites scripted talking points?  And in Ryan’s case the damage is going to be exacerbated by the fact that expectations for Ryan are being driven up by a lot of the talking heads out there.  Nothing sours people like a person’s failure to live up to heighten expectations. 

I am a believer, as much as anyone is, in the importance of strategy.  But when strategy comes at the loss of substance, nothing is really gained.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

On Paul Ryan as VP

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the way conservatism has been redefined over the years as much as the fact that the choice of Paul Ryan for VP is considered to be a very “bold” choice by Mitt Romney.  It’s “bold,” according to some, because Ryan has proposed making “drastic” changes to entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, “drastic” now being defined as finding ways to save these programs.  Oh my, what a radical!

I have mixed emotions about Ryan.  Given the people who were considered for the job, he’s a good choice.  He’s smart, respectable, charismatic, likeable, vibrant, and reasonably well known – all the things you want in a candidate.  Assuming Biden is still the choice of VP for Obama (that would be crazy on his part, but we’ll see), a televised debate versus Paul Ryan should deliciously showcase Biden for the sleazy, incompetent, mindless goon that he is, and it won’t do Obama any favors either.  The choice of Ryan also signaled – in the context of our new definition of conservatism – that Romney is ready to show deference to the right side of his potential constituency rather than pander to the “moderates.”  That showed some political astuteness and I am pleasantly surprised.  Dare we hope that the choice of Ryan is also a genuine reflection of Romney’s political philosophies as well? 

On the other hand, as we seem poised to accept – without protest - the narrative of Paul Ryan as “bold” conservative because of his budget that ostensibly has, as a primary objective, the rescue of Medicare and Social Security, I can’t feel anything but dismay.  While it may be the best we can hope for, it is – in my view – another nail in the coffin for the hope some of us have of getting back to the Constitution for real.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Being a Liberal Means Never Having to Face Reality

I was having lunch with a liberal co-worker once when the subject of some corporate policy came up. The company, in order to survive the tough economic times back then, was having to cut back on benefits or take other measures that would negatively impact employees. When she complained about their actions I responded that sometimes companies have to cut their expenses in order to stay competitive and survive. She responded by saying, “(sniff) I just think people are more important.” Back then I was still young enough to be stumped at the obvious contradiction – she thinks people are important but doesn’t realize that if the company fails, those people have no jobs.

It is always amusing to me that liberals demand such a higher standard of behavior for corporations than they do for themselves. Just about every liberal I’ve ever known has been pretty thrifty when it comes to their own money. My co-worker above rarely wanted to eat lunch out and was not an especially good tipper, so perhaps I should have pointed out that the people who work as waiters and waitresses depend on others to eat out and leave good tips so that they can support themselves. Why were these people not “important” to her? If corporations are supposed to think of people before their bottom line, why shouldn’t she have to do the same?

Every liberal I’ve ever met has suffered from the same economic and philosophical hypocrisy. A former neighbor huffed that she could not bring herself to shop at Walmart, yet she had no problem shopping for the lowest price for things like lawn care and pool maintenance so that she could maximize her own personal bottom line the same way Walmart does. Is she unaware that people who mow lawns and clean pools have the same need to earn a living as Walmart employees do?

There’s no use in reminding liberals that corporations exist for one purpose and only one purpose, and that is to provide an economic benefit to its owners and investors. That goal generally requires that they provide a product or service that other people want, so usually they serve the public whether that is their primary intention or not. Liberals seem to be either incapable of understanding this concept or unwilling to take their thinking there lest reality interfere with their need for righteous indignation and finger waggling. Instead they seem to believe that somehow they can enjoy a market-based economic system for the things they buy while at the same time demanding a “different” system for dictating how businesses behave. Go figure.

The adoption of nice-sounding slogans that are untrue and yet uncomfortable to refute is the cornerstone of the Left’s strategy for advancing its agenda of socialism and wealth transfer. Back in August of 2011, Elizabeth Warren, the leftist running against liberal republican Scott Brown for the senate seat in Massachusetts, said, “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.” In June I was arguing (as I often do) with a self-described “leftist” and long-time blogger at Townhall when he justified his plan for wealth redistribution by saying,”...not everything gained is an individual effort.” And of course just recently Barack Obama was singing the same tune when he said, in essence, that businesses and entrepreneurs really owe their success to government and others who “helped” them along the way. The Left thinks it has struck gold with this argument. Like my old friend’s “I just think people are more important (sniff)”argument, this latest strategy is designed to make the Left appear to be the party of virtue and generosity without ever having to confront reality and defend the policies they would impose on us. The ‘you-didn’t-get-there-on-your-own’ mantra is designed to justify progressive economic policies that redistribute wealth based on the contention that since the wealthy didn’t get there on their own they must “give back” to others. Here is the response I gave my leftist nemesis at TH who said, “...not everything gained is an individual effort.”

“Not everything gained by you is an individual effort either, but I don’t see you volunteering to divvy up your paycheck. Didn’t the bus driver get you to work? Don’t manufacturers provide the materials you use to teach? Didn’t the school provide the facilities you use? What about the gasoline companies that provided the fuel for the bus that got you to work? You couldn’t do what you do without all of these folks but when it comes time to get paid, your salary goes only to you and that’s how you like it.

Your answer to me will be: “The bus driver, the manufacturers, the school and the gas company all get compensated for what they do.” That’s right, they do. And so do all of the people who contribute when, for instance, Boeing builds a plane. The finance people, the engineers, the technicians, the carpet installers, the janitors – they all get paid for their efforts based upon how the free market values their services. That’s the beauty of the free market. It automatically understands how to assign a value to what any one individual contributes, because only a moron would argue that the value added by the designer of the plane is the same as the value added by the guy who sorts bolts or paints the fuselage.”

But hypocrisy, of course, is the natural consequence of relying on fallacious arguments.

The bottom line is this: If “fairness” is what the Left purports to value then the free market already rewards people for their contributions in a way that is much more objective and fair than government bureaucrats ever could hope to do. And of course all conservatives understand that since the wealthy in this nation pay the vast majority of the taxes they already do “give back” – big time. Rather than being taken advantage of, the poor and lower socioeconomic classes have long been benefitting at the expense of the middle and upper economic classes. So gee, it’s almost as if the whole ‘you-didn’t-get-there-on-your-own’ thing was just another sneaky way to transfer wealth from one group of Americans to another.

In the end I am always left struggling with the question of how much of the Left’s failure to grasp reality is innocent ignorance and how much can be attributed to a deliberate, devious strategy to advance the “progressive” agenda.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Once Upon a Time...

...a liberal happened to be driving through a rough part of town.  When he came to a stop light in a deserted area, he was suddenly accosted by hoodlums looking to have a little fun.  The hoods ordered the liberal to get out of his Toyota Prius.  One of them drew a circle in the dirt on the ground some distance from the car and ordered the liberal to stand in the circle.  As he stood there, watching them, the hoods began to trash his car.  Using baseball bats and crow bars they smashed the windows and the headlights.  When they looked over to see the liberal's reaction, they were surprised to find him laughing.  “You think that’s funny?” they said.  “Watch this!”  And with that they proceeded to deflate all the tires and pummel the hood and sides.  Happy with their work they turned to see the effect and were again surprised to find him laughing.  Getting angry, they decided to leave no part of the car unscathed, and they tore into it with a vengeance.  When the car was destroyed they turned again, only to find the man doubled over with laughter.  “Hey man,” one of them yelled.  “We just destroyed your ride.  What the hell you laughing at?” to which the liberal replied, “Well...when you weren’t looking, I stepped out of the circle THREE times!!”

 Yes it’s an old joke and I’ve told it many times before but I’m going to keep telling it because it so perfectly captures the shortsightedness of the average liberal.  They dance and twirl with glee because they “won” on Obamacare, but they are apparently oblivious to the devastating implications to their own liberty.  They would probably bring the wine if they were invited to dinner by cannibals.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

“The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions”

Everyone who is a conservative at heart is faced with an enormous dilemma when it comes to the question of Medicare.  Putting aside, just for a moment, the fatal flaws of the program, it is a socialistic scheme that does not meet with the intent of the Constitution and the founders’ framework for a limited federal government.  On the other hand, Medicare is now ingrained into the nation’s mindset as an entitlement that is no longer to be questioned, as the Left knew it would be when they sent us down this road.  People like my parents have come to depend on it.  Consequently conservative politicians are in a no-win situation on this topic.  They cannot propose scrapping the program and still remain viable candidates, and yet to propose ways of “saving” Medicare – at least to my way of thinking – is contrary to conservative ideology.  It seems conservative voters have little choice but to accept a candidate who, by standing up for Medicare, promises not only to continue but to further enshrine the systems we oppose and which are guaranteed to contribute to our eventual failure as a nation.

For this reason I’ve given a lot of thought as to how we could have it both ways – save Medicare but do it in a way that requires the application of conservative principals such as personal responsibility.  I have concluded, upon deep reflection, that it cannot be done. The Medicare system is too deeply and inherently flawed to save it at all, never mind do so in a way that satisfies a conservative like me.  Consequently we need a candidate who is brave enough to do the unthinkable and propose ending it.  We won’t get one, of course, but as long as I’m dreaming here’s what I think that candidate should say:

Imagine if I gave a stranger a credit card with no spending limit and then I arranged for the bill to go to you.  What do you think might happen?  Do you think the stranger would be a wise and careful consumer with your hard-earned money like you are?  Would he make tough choices and show concern for your financial security?  Or do you think he might forget about that and spend without regard to the way it affects you?  If you can understand what could go wrong with this arrangement, then you should understand the inherent flaw of the Medicare system.

Under Medicare the consumer has little to no natural incentive to restrict or curtail consumption.  The predictable result is an unnaturally high demand for healthcare services, which in turn leads to shortages and/or skyrocketing healthcare costs, as we’ve all witnessed in the past several decades.  Next, well-intentioned politicians with no understanding of economics will step in and further exacerbate the problem by placing artificial controls on the prices of Medicare services, which further limits availability and drives prices higher yet for everyone else.  We then have what is commonly referred to as “a mess.”

At its start, in 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion, ..."The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicare would cost only about $12 billion by 1990 (a figure that included an allowance for inflation). This was supposedly a 'conservative' estimate. But in 1990 Medicare actually cost $107 billion."’ In 2011 that amount rose to $485 billion, and by 2021 it is forecast to be nearly $821 billion. 2     Do you think maybe the politicians don’t know what they’re doing here?

Medicare spending has grown at a much faster rate than our gross domestic product and every year it consumes a larger and larger share of our national budget.  “...CBO’s projections suggest that in the absence of changes in federal law... Federal spending on Medicare (net of beneficiaries’ premiums) and Medicaid would rise from 4 percent of GDP in 2007 to 7 percent in 2025, 12 percent in 2050, and 19 percent in 2082.3

Most Americans recognize that we are already in dire financial straits even as I speak.  How can anyone believe that we can continue on this road any longer? 

For some, the concept of healthcare as a limited commodity is uncomfortable to accept, but that is the reality.  Healthcare in and of itself is not a constitutionally guaranteed right.  How can it be when such a guarantee would require that others be indentured to that obligation?  Healthcare is ultimately the product of the labor of other people.  We become dangerous to our fellow man when we presume the right to that labor, or the right to the labor of younger generations who must bear the cost.  So to those who claim Medicare is a moral issue, I say, “Yes it is.” It is immoral for people to use the power of the state to force others to pay for their healthcare without limitation. 

But all of this does not mean that people must forego good quality healthcare once they retire, as certain folks would like us to believe.  Our undue reliance on government to solve these problems has severely damaged the free market process, but it can be restored because all of the necessary elements remain in place.  We have willing suppliers ready to provide a market for willing consumers.  We must begin by getting the federal government out of the healthcare business, which brings me to the subject of Medicaid. 

By now the story should ring familiar.  When started in 1966 Medicaid initially covered 4 million people at a cost of about $1 billion.  Today, (“Keeping America Healthy!”) proudly informs us that “Medicaid and CHIP provides health coverage to nearly 60 million Americans.”4   The cost? Well it was nearly $400 billion in 2011 excluding administrative costs.5    This is what happens when the decisions about spending are taken out of the hands of local communities and placed far away in the hands of bureaucrats.

Government run health programs don’t fix our healthcare problems they multiply them.  They remove free market conditions that are necessary for the system to work, and they invite massive fraud, allowing dishonest people to get rich at taxpayer expense and away from taxpayer control.   Someone once said, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."  It's time for us to take heed of that advice and get off this road we're on.

Friday, January 20, 2012

On Newt, Fidelity and Judgment

When republican governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, was embroiled in a scandal relating to his highly publicized affair a friend of mine was annoyed because apparently some talk show hosts were calling for his resignation.  He was of the opinion that republicans should stick together and not “eat their own,” and he thought a strong resume on fiscal conservatism was the higher priority.  I tended to agree but that misses the point.  The question was this:  what gives anyone the right to presume to tell other voters what qualities should be important to them in a candidate?  In a time when some are voting because they like someone’s toothy smile or cool sunglasses, it’s not my place to say whether or not infidelity should be a deal-breaker for someone else.

That’s why when Newt Gingrich was once asked about his past indiscretions and whether or not it was a legitimate issue in the campaign his answer was exactly right.  He said it was a fair issue to bring up and that whether or not this disqualified him for POTUS was a choice for voters to make (I’m paraphrasing, of course).  Then he expressed regret over his past mistakes and stated that he had asked God for forgiveness.

Let’s contrast that with what we saw from Bill Clinton who first went to great lengths to cover up his infidelities and smear and denounce his accusers, and then dismissed his behavior as a “personal issue” that was no one’s business but his (remember the wagging finger?).  As I opined back then, Clinton’s attempt to deprive voters of important information about his character and then to issue proclamations about what should or should not be relevant to voters smacked of the worst kind of imperialism.  The notion that citizens have no business making judgments about the behavior of a man with the power to impact all of their lives, well that’s all part of the terrific Clinton legacy.  The true test of a liberal is to see if he will sacrifice the ideals of a nation to advance his own interests.

But back to Newt.  In light of the damning accusations recently launched by his ex-wife I’d like to relate a personal story that might give people pause for thought. 

We moved to a new state when my son was starting first grade.  I was concerned about him adjusting to the move but he soon made friends with a boy in school and so we became friends with his family.  Life-long residents there, they sort of adopted us.  The dad coached the boys’ T-ball team, we had barbecues and took the kids on outings to the beach, etc.  As we got to know them, however, it eventually became apparent that there were serious problems in their marriage, and the more time we spent with them the more clear the reasons became.  The wife, who was otherwise great to be with, seem to take pleasure in making the husband miserable.  She belittled him, picked fights in public, undermined his authority as a parent, literally spent them into bankruptcy and had gained about 100 pounds during their 12-year marriage, among many other things.  Reluctant to separate my son from his best friend, we endured many an uncomfortable time in their presence because of her tendency to openly express her anger or disappointment in him.  He, on the other hand, would do what he could to ignore or placate her to keep peace in public.  Five years later or so the husband finally decided to call it quits, and with her “good riddance” he moved out.

About a month or so later I was with the wife at a school function when she informed me that the husband was “having an affair.”  She knows this from having hacked into his cell phone messages, and she feels wounded and betrayed.  I was in disbelief.  She sincerely believed herself to be a victim.  Later, at the monthly Bunco get together, she informed a sympathetic crowd of women that her husband had left her and was cheating on her.  Since they heard only her version of things, she had everyone’s immediate sympathy.  This experience is always in the back of my mind when someone professes to be the injured party in a marriage gone bad. 

The point of this post is not to defend or excuse anything Gingrich may have done or to suggest that people don’t have the right to judge a candidate on his morals.  It is simply to say that things are not always as they may seem.  The fact that Gingrich’s daughters appear to be defending him suggests to me that there is much more to the story than we know, but each of us is entitled to draw our own conclusions.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Big Score for Gingrich

One of the major disappointments for me in Monday night’s GOP debate was to hear some of the candidates articulate their ideas for “fixing” Social Security and Medicare.  I’m tired of hearing people who profess to be “conservatives” propose that we fix our socialist-like entitlement system by making it look more and more like....(drum roll please)...socialism!

I don’t expect any candidate to propose that we get out of the business of Social Security altogether.  Right or wrong, Social Security is here to stay in one form or another.  Given that as the situation, what would be the next best way to make the program comport to the conservative ideal of maximum personal liberty and self-reliance?  The answer is that we make it as close to individually self-funding as practical and possible.  Gingrich’s proposal that we adopt the “Chilean” approach to retirement savings is the only one that even comes close to meeting that essential mark.

It infuriates me to hear some suggest that we “means-test” Social Security so that people who are deemed not to “need” the money can forget about receiving anything when they reach the age of retirement.  “From each according to his ability.  To each according to his need.”  That’s what that is.  Pure Marxism, plain and simple.  There would be nothing wrong with asking people to voluntarily give up Social Security payments in the interest of charity or with people choosing to do so on their own, but it is nothing short of stealing to force people to do so against their will.  It is not the State’s decision to decide who does or does not “need” the money, or even that “need” should be a requirement for getting what was promised.  Once we head down that road we give our de facto consent to the ideas behind Marxism, and place ourselves on the fast track to the European-style socialism that is decried by the very people who suggest “means-testing” Social Security.

As for raising the retirement age (or, to put it more accurately, to raise the age at which people can draw Social Security benefits), if the method for funding Social Security is resulting in the average person under-funding their retirement, then sure – it should be raised.  Why should you get to draw benefits at 62 if what you’ve contributed computes to a retirement age of 70?  But the whole argument underscores the mess that’s been made here and the need for a very different approach.  Since people don’t directly fund their own personal retirement funds it’s impossible to say who has or has not contributed enough to earn benefits by any given age. 

The whole Social Security dilemma/debacle should provide a prime opportunity for teaching the harsh lessons about the realities of policies that are based on the ideas of socialism.  What must someone who’s 54 think about these great plans to “fix” Social Security by preserving it as is for people 55 and older while telling everyone younger, “Sorry!  You got gypped.”  But the lesson has been completely lost in these debates because everyone is a politician first, and a conservative second (assuming they’re a conservative at all). 

It’s time to give up the notion that Social Security can be “saved.”  If history teaches us anything here it’s that the system is inherently flawed and over time people will be asked to give up more and more of what they’ve contributed in order to support those who, for whatever reasons good or bad, have not lived up to their responsibility for taking care of their own needs.  We are living history right now!  We must get out from under this system once and for all, and from what I can see Newt is the only one who is proposing a plan that does so. 

Don’t even get me started on Medicare.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thoughts on the Death Penalty

(Note:  This was first posted on my old blog in September of 2010)

Many years ago I watched a documentary called “The Thin Blue Line,” which documented the case of Randall Dale Adams who was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death back in 1977. Adams was eventually exonerated and released in 1989 after serving 12 years in prison. It was a tragic miscarriage of justice and it caused me to seriously rethink my position on the death penalty. 

Since that time I have given a great deal of thought to the serious topic of crime and punishment, as I believe all of us should. Since I am fascinated by the nature of criminals as well as by the methods used to identify and convict them, I have been an avid fan of shows like “Cold Case Files” and “Forensic Files,” which document actual murder cases and the methods involved in solving these crimes. While they mainly focus on finding and convicting murderers, occasionally there will be an episode which details the case of someone who’s been wrongly convicted. 

There is no doubt in my mind, particularly after watching programs like those mentioned above, that death is a fitting punishment for some crimes. Based on what I’ve seen, in fact, one could argue that merely putting someone to death does not rise to the appropriate level of justice for the horrific suffering some have inflicted on innocent people. But having seen many cases now where death sentence convictions have been eventually overturned, I had to ask myself: should the death penalty be allowed?

In order to answer that question we must first understand how our system has failed because, theoretically, it should be nearly foolproof. That’s because the standard for finding someone guilty, i.e. beyond a reasonable doubt, is an extremely high burden to meet and because our system is designed to give defendants a vast array of protections. After seeing a number of wrongful conviction cases profiled over the years as well as researching cases on the internet, I found a common element in nearly every case: human failure. This included negligent council, frauds perpetrated by overly zealous prosecutors, lying witnesses, inept judges and jurors who failed to properly do their job.  In the case of Randall Dale Adams from “The Thin Blue Line” for instance, he was the victim of a dishonest prosecutor and dishonest witnesses.
So the answer lies not in taking this or that punishment off the table, but in fixing the system so that wrongful convictions do not occur. Otherwise we take the outrageous position of saying to people, “We think you’re guilty of this terrible crime, but since we can’t be sure we’re ONLY going to give you life in prison.” What kind of justice is that? We must demand that the system work as it was intended to and that justice is properly served every time.

How do we accomplish this? Accountability. We must always rigorously enforce the rules of our justice system, including consequences for failing to play by the rules or perform one's duties. Lawyers must be fined, jailed or disbarred if they are derelict in their jobs. Witnesses must be held to account when they perjure themselves. Judges should be impeached or otherwise punished if they fail to uphold the laws and standards of the court.   Even jurors must face serious consequences when they fail to fulfill the obligations of that vital role. 

Just as we hold doctors to the highest standards, so too should we expect the highest of standards from those who hold the power of life, death and freedom over other citizens via the part they play in our justice system.  A strong justice system, including tough consequences for criminals and unquestionable fairness in determining those consequences, is the cornerstone of this nation and we must never allow it to be compromised.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is Obama Stoopid?

I once heard an old joke about a man who got a flat tire as he was driving past the local insane asylum.  Warily he got out to change the tire, nervously eyeing the spooky asylum with its barred windows and gated surroundings that stood just a few feet away.  When he noticed a man standing in front of an open window, watching him, he became quite anxious.  He hurried to change the tire, but in his haste he knocked over the hubcap in which he’d placed all of the lug nuts, and they spilled down into the sewer.  “Damn it!” he yelled, and he paced nervously, thinking about what to do.  Suddenly the man in the window was speaking to him:  “Why don’t you take one lug nut from each of the other tires and use those to hold the spare in place until you can get to a gas station?” he said.  The man liked this idea and replied, “That’s a good idea!  Say, what are you doing in that place?”  To which the man in the asylum replied, “I’m not stupid.  I’m just crazy!”

That about sums up my answer when people suggest to me that Obama is stupid.  Whether or not he’s stupid all depends on what you believe his motives to be.  If you sincerely believe that he cares about the interests of the American people and wants to advance the interests of the U.S. as a nation, well then I guess you would have to believe that he’s stupid, because it’s easy to demonstrate that nothing he’s ever done has helped those goals along. 

Personally, though, I believe Obama has much different motives in mind.  I think he wants to grow and consolidate the power of the Left and I think he wants to gratify his own ego.  To do that he needs to “spread the wealth (i.e. buy votes for himself and his party with our stolen tax dollars),” he needs to control as many aspects of our lives as possible through government and he needs to weaken our standing in the world so that he – not this nation – can be revered.  And to those ends I’d say he’s doing pretty well, which makes it hard to argue that he’s stupid.  So, is he crazy?

Well some argue, and I agree, that liberalism is a disease of the mind.  It manifests itself, I believe, as underdeveloped psychological maturity, which is why liberals display many of the behaviors that we normally associate with children.  I don’t know if that makes them “crazy,” per se, but it certainly should mean that we don’t want them running the country.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What is “Compromise?”

Imagine you’re the coach on a football team.  One of your receivers is interfered with and prevented from catching what would have been a 20-yard pass on the five yard line, maybe costing you a touchdown.  The penalty should be that your team gets the ball on the five yard line and you have a first down.  But suppose the ref comes to you after conferring with the other team’s coach and says, “The other coach wants to negotiate the penalty.  He’s offering to let you have the ball on the ten yard line and it’ll be second down.  What do you say?  Are you willing to compromise?”

There’s that word the democrats are so in love with these days. 

Of course, that kind of request would probably bring confused silence followed by laughter followed by justified outrage by the coach and fans of the team being asked to compromise.  And the outrage would be justified by the fact that both teams, by virtue of being part of their league, have already agreed to the rules in advance.  The negotiation about what kind of penalties will be enforced for any particular infraction have already taken place, and there is absolutely no legal, moral, ethical or logical reason for them to compromise. 

This is precisely the same situation we are facing when it comes to so many issues being debated in Congress every day.  Republicans are being asked to “compromise” even though the rules were already negotiated and agreed upon long ago with the founding of the Constitution, and there is nothing to be gained by republicans if they “compromise.” There is only more and more to lose, which is the same as saying that a “compromise” is ALWAYS a win for democrats.

But democrats know this.  It’s why they’re so eager to “compromise.”

Again and again Obama and his cohorts in crime are poised to win the day by controlling the course of the discussion and outsmarting witless republicans who, instead of standing up en masse and simply pointing to the Constitution, let themselves be embroiled in an argument about who is, or is not, willing to “compromise.”  This would be like the coach in the scenario above arguing with the ref over yards and downs instead of simply saying, “No way.  We play by the rules.” 

Sadly, we’ve already compromised so much over the decades that it simply doesn’t occur to most republicans to just go back to the rule book.