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.