Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Energy Independence -
I was listening to NPR this morning and found the discussion of energy independence quite interesting. Our new Energy Secretary, Ken Salazar, was dismissing past Administration policies on off-shore drilling, indicating that it needs more study; not because we don't know enough about fossil fuels, but because we don't know enough about alternative energy. When will we ever? Of course economics have altered the discussion lately with oil prices down significantly. What am I missing? Do we stay our current course and take no action while we continue to ponder what might be? Do the proponents of wind and solar truly believe that wind and solar are the sum of the solution of energy independence? Rest assured, I am not advocating that fossil fuels are the sum of all of our energy ills, nor that alternative energy sources are without value or merit. On the contrary, logic and reason tells us the solution to energy independence resides in a comprehensive solution. Wind and solar have a role to play, conjunctive with fossil fuels and derivatives thereof, and nuclear. We have proven technologies presently in the market that offer alternatives and solutions. Why is it that we struggle so in looking to the solutions that presently exist in the market? The logic and reason seems to have escaped our political leadership of the day causing us to be mired in their political pandering and pursuit of self-interest over meeting America's need. The want for continued debate without decisive action creates its own dynamic that unfortunately empowers our political leadership and prolongs their perception of self importance.
Economic Crisis -
Surely we are faced with significant issues in our economy and the solutions are not simple by any measure, but why is it that we should trust and rely upon our political leadership (Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel, Charles Schumer, John Kerry, and others), most of whom are far from expert on economics, to lead the way? Appreciating that our new Treasury Secretary is a bright and capable guy, yesterday's result from his long awaited speech was very telling. The political influences of the day seem to offer entitlement as a solution. They distrust our financial institutions and seem to lack faith and confidence in the foundations of our US banking system. Throwing the baby out with the bath water is not a solution. They fail to realize the multiplier effect of money in our banking system as a means to drive our economic vitality. They continue to punish the banks at the expense of needed solutions, born of their distrust and the fact that they feel they know better. The punitive accounting policies of Washington are doing more to destroy our banking system than selected elements of greed and idiocy in some CEO offices. We gain more leverage in a solution with the banking system than without. However, the populus messages from Washington would advocate otherwise. The more we debate, the more we empower Washington, and the more we lose.
Corporate Executive Offices -
What are some of these guys thinking - they truly have checked their brains at the door. The former CEO of Merrill spending $1.2 million on an office remodel? The CEO's of the auto industry riding their private jets to Washington for financial relief? The vacuum these guys live in has gone to their heads and reason and logic have left the building. Even so, not all corporate offices are like the exceptions proffered in the media. These are the exceptions and not the rule in corporate America. The media frenzy on these stories are good fodder, but do not represent what is good in our corporate leadership. The politicians will play this tune, again and again because the populism promoted empowers them, for "they will protect us, they know better." We are the greatest economic superpower because of the depth of those who run our businesses, large and small, and the model our economy is built upon, not because of the politicians who run Washington.
Hopefully, most of America doesn't follow the lead of our politicians and selective CEOs, and check their brains at the door.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
WALL STREET JOURNAL
By JIM CARLTON and BOBBY WHITE
BIG SUR, Calif. -- As Sacramento squabbles over the state's $42 billion deficit, Californians are getting a bitter taste of what's to come after the steep budget cuts that are inevitable when legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger finally hammer out a deal.
Some world-famous parks like Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park may not open this year. After-school programs in low-income areas are being scuttled, putting high-risk teens on the street just as police forces are being cut. Schools are closing classrooms, and some highway projects have ground to a halt. The state may not be able to monitor some sex offenders as required under law.
A budget deal may restore some of the missing funds. But everyone knows that not all monies will flow again after a deal, and Californians increasingly fear they are seeing a hint of their future.
Jim Carlton/The Wall Street Journal
A state parks superintendent inspects the site of an unfinished bridge at California's Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The world-renowned park on the Central California coast may not open this summer because funds to complete a new bridge to a large campground have been frozen amid talks by California lawmakers to resolve a $42 billion budget deficit.
Jim Carlton/The Wall Street Journal
Concrete buttresses have been built for a bridge crossing the Big Sur River to a campground on the other side, but work to finish the bridge itself was still underway when the project ground to a halt a few weeks ago.
"Before it gets better, it's going to get a lot worse," said Joseph Valentine, director of Contra Costa County's Department of Employment and Human Services. The department, which administers social services such as food stamps, has cut 12%, or $25 million, of its budget. It has managers answering reception-desk phones, and Mr. Valentine expects another round of cuts.
The empty coffers have hit some California icons. Pfeiffer Big Sur may not reopen this summer because work on a new bridge to the campground was halted, part of a $6 million renovation project that state officials have ordered frozen along with hundreds of millions of dollars in other state infrastructure projects. Dan and Vickie Coughlin of Torrance, Calif., face not camping in the park with their daughters, ages 10 and 13, for the first time since they were born. When they were advised they couldn't book reservations, "it just broke my heart, and my kids almost cried," said Ms. Coughlin.
Other states face budget cuts too, but California's budget mess stands out for its size. Its deficit is projected at $42 billion by mid-2010. Since Gov. Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency 14 weeks ago, he and lawmakers have been deadlocked over how to close the gap. Democrats want tax increases and moderate spending cuts; Republicans seek deep cuts and no tax increases; the governor wants a combination.
The governor's office warned Tuesday that if no budget deal is reached by Friday, the state would send layoff warnings to 20,000 workers. Gov. Schwarzenegger also said he intends to cut 10,000 jobs through layoffs and attrition to save $750 million over 17 months.
Meanwhile, the state is raising money in unprecedented ways. The treasurer's office said Tuesday that it is close to selling $200 million in general-obligation bonds to the Bay Area Toll Authority, a municipal agency, to fund public-works projects around the San Francisco Bay area.
While Sacramento talks, money is drying up in places like Contra Costa County, where 40,000 families have applied for 350 available slots for Section 8 vouchers -- a federal subsidy that allows low-income families to rent in the private market. "The level of desperation is just heartbreaking," said Joseph Villareal, executive director of the Contra Costa Housing Authority.
California Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Jim Carlton/The Wall Street Journal
Pfeiffer Big Sur is so popular that campsites like this one,in a grove of towering redwoods, are almost always booked as far as seven months in advance.
Marin County's Novato Unified School District alarmed parents with a proposal to cut its entire sports program to help save $6 million over two years, which would affect about 75% of Novato's 8,600 students. "When the community heard about the possible cut, they freaked out," said Superintendent Jan La Torre-Derby, who adds that "it's not set in stone yet."
The California State University system -- the nation's largest -- faces new cuts after already seeing reduced class offerings, increased classroom sizes and delays in students being able to graduate after a series of budget cuts in recent years.
Things could get worse as more budget cuts loom. The state may not be able to monitor sex offenders as required under a 2006 law that calls for sex offenders to be on GPS monitoring for life and to live more than 2,000 feet from schools and parks. In January, corrections officials said they were monitoring all 6,622 paroled sex offenders with GPS devices, after Gov. Schwarzenegger set aside $106 million in last year's budget for the program. But because the law contained no revenue-raising mechanism, authorities say it is unclear whether they will have funds to continue monitoring.
—Stu Woo contributed to this article.
Write to Jim Carlton at email@example.com and Bobby White at firstname.lastname@example.org
Should we trust John Kerry to "invest" our money?
Or, perhaps Charles Schumer?
Monday, February 9, 2009
Thank you Meg!
Surely, at our founding we were a blessed nation with men and women, divinely inspired in a righteous cause, freedom. They understood liberty and its defense, they also understood the role of economics in preserving liberty and freedom. As I read the paper, listen to the news and study the words of those who are "leading" us today - I have to ask, "Where have all the leaders gone?" There is no reason or righteousness in their profferrings. If ever there was an inflection point in our society, it is today, and the need for the Samuel Adams' of the world, those who place the righteous cause of the people and freedom over self, it is now. Unfortunately, we are left with a leadership of appeasement without the capacity to stand on correct principles. Our leadership is more concerned with preservation of power, position and personal wealth over the cause of the people.
I thought initially, that we could survive sufficiently under the leadership of President Obama for 4 years, in spite of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and the minions that follow them. I am now having serious doubts that they will take us into an irreconcilable economic calamity. President Obama has defaulted to Congress and has failed to lead or direct them to any whit. He has pandered and become subordinate to the handlers and advisors of the liberal left and Bill Clinton. He says the White House is confining and his staff is overworked and tired - really? They have been in office for less than a month! In that month, he has nominated 4 senior officials who have failed to pay income taxes, nominated lobbyists to key positions and deferred to Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats to write a "stimulus" bill laden with "pork."
Bloomberg has posted an interesting article today (see here), which doesn't bode well for what lies ahead. $9.7 trillion in bailout funds - what happened to reason, checks and balances, and the much needed leadership that stands for fundamental and correct economic principles? Instead, we are left without and will suffer severe consequences. If we stay the course, President Obama and this Congress will have done more to damage our society than any other in history, both economically and socially.
I consider myself a conservative. I am a Republican by party affiliation and support the recent election of Michael Steele, hopeful that he can restore the party's role in conservative politics. Even so, my current disappointment rests with both Democrats and Republicans, although more so with the Democratic leadership - they are without backbone and principle.
The video posted herein reflects my opinion of our current Democratic leadership.
May we, as a nation, be prayerful for our future and stand for what is right. May we not fall prey to the temptation of apathy and mediocrity, wherein we are blindly led down an irreconcilable path. Write those in Washington, make your voice heard, become politically active, hold our leaders accountable. For those in California, a state that is leading our economic calamity, look to those seeking to lead and choose wisely. When Meg Whitman announces her candidacy for governor, join in the cause.
Friday, February 6, 2009
The Fierce Urgency of Pork
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, February 6, 2009; A17
"A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe."
-- President Obama, Feb. 4.
Catastrophe, mind you. So much for the president who in his inaugural address two weeks earlier declared "we have chosen hope over fear." Until, that is, you need fear to pass a bill.
And so much for the promise to banish the money changers and influence peddlers from the temple. An ostentatious executive order banning lobbyists was immediately followed by the nomination of at least a dozen current or former lobbyists to high position. Followed by a Treasury secretary who allegedly couldn't understand the payroll tax provisions in his 1040. Followed by Tom Daschle, who had to fall on his sword according to the new Washington rule that no Cabinet can have more than one tax delinquent.
The Daschle affair was more serious because his offense involved more than taxes. As Michael Kinsley once observed, in Washington the real scandal isn't what's illegal, but what's legal. Not paying taxes is one thing. But what made this case intolerable was the perfectly legal dealings that amassed Daschle $5.2 million in just two years.
He'd been getting $1 million per year from a law firm. But he's not a lawyer, nor a registered lobbyist. You don't get paid this kind of money to instruct partners on the Senate markup process. You get it for picking up the phone and peddling influence.
At least Tim Geithner, the tax-challenged Treasury secretary, had been working for years as a humble international civil servant earning non-stratospheric wages. Daschle, who had made another cool million a year (plus chauffeur and Caddy) for unspecified services to a pal's private equity firm, represented everything Obama said he'd come to Washington to upend.
And yet more damaging to Obama's image than all the hypocrisies in the appointment process is his signature bill: the stimulus package. He inexplicably delegated the writing to Nancy Pelosi and the barons of the House. The product, which inevitably carries Obama's name, was not just bad, not just flawed, but a legislative abomination.
It's not just pages and pages of special-interest tax breaks, giveaways and protections, one of which would set off a ruinous Smoot-Hawley trade war. It's not just the waste, such as the $88.6 million for new construction for Milwaukee Public Schools, which, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have shrinking enrollment, 15 vacant schools and, quite logically, no plans for new construction.
It's the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus -- and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress's own budget office says won't be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said.
Not just to abolish but to create something new -- a new politics where the moneyed pork-barreling and corrupt logrolling of the past would give way to a bottom-up, grass-roots participatory democracy. That is what made Obama so dazzling and new. Turns out the "fierce urgency of now" includes $150 million for livestock (and honeybee and farm-raised fish) insurance.
The Age of Obama begins with perhaps the greatest frenzy of old-politics influence peddling ever seen in Washington. By the time the stimulus bill reached the Senate, reports the Wall Street Journal, pharmaceutical and high-tech companies were lobbying furiously for a new plan to repatriate overseas profits that would yield major tax savings. California wine growers and Florida citrus producers were fighting to change a single phrase in one provision. Substituting "planted" for "ready to market" would mean a windfall garnered from a new "bonus depreciation" incentive.
After Obama's miraculous 2008 presidential campaign, it was clear that at some point the magical mystery tour would have to end. The nation would rub its eyes and begin to emerge from its reverie. The hallucinatory Obama would give way to the mere mortal. The great ethical transformations promised would be seen as a fairy tale that all presidents tell -- and that this president told better than anyone.
I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
1. Nancy Pelosi. I know that many dismiss her already, but this woman, elected by a small liberal left in California, is the Speaker of the House - 3rd in line for the Presidency of the United States. Recently she was quoted as stating that their are 500 million Americans losing their jobs each month, when we have a total population of 300 million. She probably believes that 9 billion homes are under threat of foreclosure when we have a world population of 6 billion. Slip of the tongue, how about slip of the brain? If this were a single incident, we would likely let it pass, but... She also believes that "family planning", code words for birth control and abortion, is good for our economy. Has she not observed what is happening in Europe with declining birth rates and demography? Europeans are not reproducing (birth rates well below 1.5 per woman on average) and as a consequence are a declining population, whereas the European Islamic population is booming (better than 3.0 births per woman, on average). These changing demographics are having a profound affect on Europe and its vibrancy, economic and otherwise. And then there was her comment that of all people, she is bi-partisan and apolitical, this from a woman who is known for her public disdain for George Bush and all things Republican. Again, let me repeat, she is 3rd in line for the Presidency.
2. Joe Biden. This person is 2nd in line for the Presidency of the United States. There are not enough words in the English language, or space on the internet, for the gaffes, mis-statements and hyperbole of Joe Biden. Nice guy, but clueless. Let us hope that President Obama sees clearly the need to limit the role of the VP to attendance at state funerals. Again, let me repeat, he is 2nd in line for the Presidency.
3. Barack Obama. This person is President of the United States. His recent quote on the need for economic stimulus is indicative of his economic philosphies and proves the point on why we are left with the current "stimulus" package. Barack stated, in reference to GOP criticism that the stimulus package needs to include more tax cuts, and less for other programs, "I reject that theory, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change." This is a man that believes the challenges before us are best solved, not by enabling the American people, but by enabling the US Government at the expense of the American people. He further believes that Americans are supportive of increased taxes, feeling a "patriotic duty", to quote Joe Biden, to give our money to the government to spend as they are the better steward.
Seriously, we need to pray for Barack; that he will choose to be humble, rather than be compelled, and change his course - after all, he is the agent of change. America and its people will not prosper under these policies and philosophies. We need to further pray that Barack will serve as President for a full term, the alternatives would be devastating.
In summary, the conclusion is to hold fast for 4 years and look to Mitt. The previous post is illustrative of why. It is unfortunate that our current President, albeit a nice guy, has become intoxicated with the adulation and power - that he has yet to realize he is the President and needs to lead. Instead, he is still running for President. Further, it seems that in his continuing run for the Presidency he isn't standing on principle, but is standing on appeasement. His cabinet choices reflect upon him, and that is disconcerting, at best. We need a man of sound moral character and principle to lead our nation. Pray for America.
Mitt's speech before the GOP Retreat last week - He has it right! Obama can no longer vote "Present," he has to lead. But where? Mitt Romney's counsel is wise and should be followed if we are to come out of this recessionary climate. Absent his leadership, my hope wanes.
Thank you for the warm welcome. And thank you for the vote you took this week. You stood strong. You stood for principle. You put the best interests of the American people ahead of politics. I got some calls yesterday, after the news. They said what I feel. We want you to know that we’re proud of you.
It sure feels good to be in a room full of Republicans who came out ahead on Election Day. You can be proud of your success. And don’t be afraid to remind the President of this: you, too, won your election.
After my own campaign was over, Ann and I just wanted to get away from it all. We ended up in Beijing, about as far away as you can get. We went to the Olympic Games, and one of the events we attended was women’s beach volleyball. I noticed a lot of people looking in our direction, pointing toward us and taking pictures. It’s always nice to be recognized, and I told Ann, let’s be sure to smile and look our best. Ann said, they might like us even more if we got out of the way—Kobe Bryant is standing right behind you.
A few months have passed since the election. It’s enough time to consider the outcome and take stock of our party’s future. I want to make clear that I’m optimistic: our ideas are good, our agenda will make America stronger, and your action this week showed that we have the kind of leaders who will stand up for what they believe in.
I have often been asked what I think the Republican Party must do to recover. What I’ve said is this: My first concern isn’t about our party—it’s about our country.
In fact, the two are closely related. The best way for us to advance the prospects of our party is to do what we know is right for the country. This is what the American people expect of us. And that’s what we should expect of ourselves.
This is a time of hardship and uncertainty for millions of Americans. The question is: whose leadership and ideas will turn things around. And in such a moment, it’s our job to offer the clear answers, the proven solutions, and resolute leadership that will make this country strong again.
The new President and the Congressional majority are having a difficult time doing that. After all, they have a lot of campaign rhetoric to make good on. And they’ve got plenty of special interests to pay back. As the opposition party, we’re entirely free to do what is right for the country. There are certain advantages to that kind of freedom, and I suggest we make the most of them.
That begins with a clear analysis of what’s needed to get the economy moving again. Predictions that we are almost out of the woods, based on the length of prior recessions, are wishful thinking. Americans have lost some 11 trillion dollars in net worth. That translates into about 400 billion dollars less annual consumer spending in the economy.
There’s something else people don’t talk much about: The pool of investment capital—all the money available for new investments, business start-ups, business expansions, capital expenditures, and new hiring. The size of that pool has shrunk by trillions of dollars. This was a huge loss in value, and the effect could be felt for years—in businesses that don’t start up or grow, in jobs that don’t get created.
Given these extraordinary conditions, I am convinced that a stimulus is needed.
So why not just spend and borrow with reckless abandon? Because we’re in a very delicate situation that could easily get worse if Washington does the wrong thing. The package which passed the House is a huge increase in the amount of government borrowing. And we’ve borrowed so much already, that if we add too much more debt, or spend foolishly, we could invite an even bigger crisis. We could precipitate a worldwide crisis of confidence in America, leading to a run on the dollar … or hyper-inflation that wipes out family savings and devastates the middle class.
We’re on an economic tightrope. That’s why it is so important to exercise extreme care and good judgment.
So far, the Democratic leadership hasn’t shown a great deal of that. They’ve passed 355 billion in infrastructure spending, 60% of which won’t be spent by the end of 2010. Billions for electronic medical health records—it’s a fine idea, but it won’t produce jobs for years and years.
Even worse are the liberal payoffs—50 million dollars for the National Endowment for the Arts, hundreds of millions of dollars to the states for STD prevention and education. Until your loud protests got it dropped from the bill, there even was 200 million dollars for the DC Mall. That might have grown some grass, but it wouldn’t have grown the economy. And they’re doing this when the economy is on a tightrope.
It’s still early in the administration of President Obama. Like everyone who loves this country, I want him to adopt correct principles and then to succeed. He still has a chance to step in and insist on spending discipline among the members of his own party. It’s his job to set priorities. I hope for America’s sake that he knows that a Chief Executive can’t vote “present.” He can’t let others run the show. He has to say yes to some things and no to a lot of others.
We need to stimulate the economy, not the government. A true stimulus package, one that respects the productivity and genius of the American people, could lift this country out of recession. And experience shows us what it should look like.
First, there are two ways you can put money into the economy, by spending more or by taxing less. But if it’s stimulus you want, taxing less works best. That’s why permanent tax cuts should be the centerpiece of the economic stimulus. Even Christine Romer, the President’s own choice to lead the Council of Economic Advisors, found in her research that tax cuts are twice as effective as new spending.
Second, any new spending must be strictly limited to projects that are essential. How do we define essential? Well, a good rule is that the projects we fund in a stimulus should be legitimate government priorities that would have been carried out in the future anyway, and are simply being moved up to create those jobs now.
As we take out non-essential projects, we should focus on funding the real needs of government that will have immediate impact. And what better place to begin than repairing and replacing military equipment that was damaged or destroyed in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan?
Third, sending out rebate checks to citizens and businesses is not a tax cut. The media bought this line so far, but they’ve got it wrong. Checks in the mail are refunds, not tax cuts. We tried rebate checks last year and they did virtually nothing to jump-start the economy. Disposable income went up, but consumption hardly moved. Businesses aren’t stupid. They’re not going to invest in equipment and new hires for a one time, short term blip.
You know, by proposing tax rebates, the Democrats are admitting that relief to families and employers works. Why can’t they shed their ideological bias and give the American people the kind of permanent, broad based tax relief that even they must know will relieve the suffering our country is going through?
Fourth, if we’re going to tax less and spend more to get the economy moving, then we have to make another commitment as well. As soon as this economy recovers, we have to regain control over the federal budget, and above all, over entitlement spending. This is more important than most people are willing to admit. I mentioned the economic tightrope before. There is a real danger that with trillions of additional borrowing—from the budget deficit and from the stimulus—that world investors will begin to fear that the dollars won’t be worth much in the future. They may fear hyper-inflation. It is essential that we demonstrate our commitment to maintaining the value of the dollar. That means showing the world that we will put a stop to runaway spending and borrowing. Senator Judd Gregg is rightly proposing a new bipartisan approach. It should be part of this bill.
Fifth, we must begin to recover from the enormous losses in the capital investment pool. And the surest, most obvious way to get that done is to send a clear signal that there will be no tax increases on investment and capital gains. The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts should be extended permanently, or at least temporarily.
And finally, let’s exercise restraint in the size of the stimulus package. Without restraint, it may grow as the days go by. Last year, with the economy already faltering, I proposed a stimulus of 233 billion dollars. The Washington Post said, and I quote: “Romney’s plan is way too big.” So what critique do they have for the size of the Democrat’s package? I’m afraid they’ve caught a bad case of liberal laryngitis. It’s everywhere these days.
In the final analysis, we know that only the private sector—entrepreneurs and businesses large and small—can create the millions of jobs our country needs. The invisible hand of the market always moves faster and better than the heavy hand of government.
The difference between us and the Democrats is this: they want to stimulate the government, and we want to stimulate the economy.
Government does have an obligation to address some of the abuses we’ve seen in the markets, particularly in the mortgage finance market and the mortgage guarantee sector. But when markets work as they should, when they are effectively and efficiently regulated, free markets create jobs and boost incomes.
As Republicans, we remain the confident voice of limited government and free enterprise. These principles are going to face another test when it comes to healthcare.
We should be first to propose a Republican plan to bring health insurance to all Americans, one based on market dynamics, free choice, and personal responsibility. I think what we did in Massachusetts is a good model to start from, but whatever direction we take, let’s not simply react to what the Democrats do. Their own plan would undoubtedly create a vast new system of costly entitlements and bureaucratic dictates, burdening the people and threatening the economy. Americans will be looking for a better alternative. Let’s give it to them.
Let’s also defend the rights of workers—against coercion and intimidation. The working people of this country should be able to unionize the way their fathers and mothers did – by free choice and secret ballot. The Democrats’ plan to take away those rights would result in economic calamity. More than that, it’s an insult to the dignity and common sense of working people. We’re going to defend the freedom of workers and the rights of labor. Interesting, isn’t it, which party stands up for workers and which one jumps for union bosses.
Ours is the party of freedom and enterprise, and we are the party of life. I know that I’m not alone in wondering why our new president, in the earliest hours of his administration, directed that international groups that promote and provide abortions be funded with American taxpayer dollars. Is that really what the world needs, more abortions?
In our party, we don’t have perfect agreement on the life issue. But with an administration that is firmly on the side of abortion, that answers to the most extreme wing of the abortion lobby, our duty is clear. We should be a voice for moderation and compassion. And even if the administration will say nothing on behalf of the child waiting to be born, we must take the side of life.
The new administration has also gained the favor of liberal commentators by pledging what it calls reform in the treatment of detainees who have taken up arms against America. And of course, President Obama says he will close Guantanamo.
But I wonder if he noticed that some of the men already released from Guantanamo have turned up in new al Qaeda tapes? I also wonder where the President now intends to send the terrorists we capture. Will he send them to nations that will release them to kill Americans? Or will he send them to US prisons, to infect our own criminal population?
There may be more steps like closing Guantanamo—and they will receive the predictable applause from law professors, editorial boards, and others who have no responsibility for protecting American lives. The Washington Post last week announced President Obama’s actions with this headline: “Bush’s War on Terror Comes to a Sudden End.” I hope this President knows that the terrorists are still fighting and killing Americans, and that they plan to keep killing Americans.
Here, too, our party will speak confidently. We have no greater duty than a vigilant defense.
This great party of ours has seen setbacks before. They have never defined us. For our party, I believe this will be remembered as the time when we demonstrated the strength of our convictions, when we defended the foundations of America’s prosperity, security and liberty.
America will be tested. It’s not for us to choose every new test that may arise. But we’re entirely free to choose how we will face those tests. We’ll face them as you did this week. And we’ll face them as Republicans have done before in our finest moments—with the clarity and the confidence of those who put their country first.
That is the work you have undertaken as Republican members of the 111th Congress. You gather in smaller numbers than last year, but you have ideas, energy, and convictions—and the resolve to lead America to a better future. The comeback for our nation and for our party starts with you. You can count me as an ally in the work ahead. Thank you.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Some passive commentary -
Our nation is laboring in the midst of a significant defining moment, an inflection point that few have seen in their lifetime. Even so, with perspective we are not in the midst of declaring our Independence, nor are we in the midst of the Civil War, World War II, or the Great Depression. Yes, we are facing challenging times with economic and societal decline, however I would submit that amid these difficult moments, we face an even greater challenge, a defining moment of ideology.
If ever there were a need for principled leadership in our society, it is today. If ever there were a need for leaders with experience and discernment in what truly matters, it is today. If ever there were a need for leaders who stand firm in what is right and good, it is today. And yet, at the behest of the media and an unknowing electorate, we are relegated to the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and yes, President Barack Obama, those who believe that the US Government is the answer to all our ills, not the American people; that people need not be accountable, for the government will reconcile and resolve our failings.
In his first 48 hours as President of the United States, Barack Obama held true to certain promises in the campaign, and in doing so has undermined our Constitution and security. In an effort to appease his left leaning advocates and the media, either by Executive Order or lack of leadership, Barack Obama has taken steps on that slippery slope, the path of which will lead to increased conflict in the middle east, further deteroriation of our economic vitality, subordination of the US as an economic superpower, and the dilution of our freedoms and liberties. With a hope that he would lead from a moderate platform, he has shown an inclination to the far left. I suppose it is best said, politics as usual in Washington. Now that I have vented, my hope remains that the actions taken to date are without substance and stand only as neutered offerings cast to the feet of the left.
Like unto Bill Clinton, the Obama administration is emerging as one built on marketing and appeasement without foundational principles to guide it - say what people think they want to hear without thought to what is right. The consequence of such failed leadership is a "holiday from history" where our nation and its peoples will be acted upon and not called to principled action, for the government absolves our accountability. The moral standards of natural law and Nature's God, are absent in our leadership in Washington and if we stay the course, we will see the transformation of our government as no longer a government for the people and by the people. The state and federal nation will be supreme and its people's subordinate.
Recent news posts are illustrative of these points -
1. Advisors within the Obama Administration are advocating the nationalization of the US banking system, and the disenfranchisment of all shareholders of banks. Yes, there have been some failed institutions, but the significant decline in our banking system is resultant more from failed policies and accounting dictates than poor management. For example, a large regional bank today declared their 4th quarter earnings, a loss of nearly $500 million. Notwithstanding the loss, $450 million of which was a result of imposed regulatory accounting dictates, the bank made money operationally for the year. The bank sits with very strong liquidity and capital reserves, but because of government imposed accounting dictates they took a loss that will most likely be recaptured when markets return to normalcy (a failed mark to market policy). The stock of this bank is off from a high of 70 twelve months ago to 12 today. These legislated and dictated policies are undermining solid financial institutions, and yet the answer from our legislative and executive branches of government is to consider nationalizing our banking system?
2. Barack Obama's answer to economic stimulus is to rebuild our infrastructure, most of which will not have an economic impact for many years. Needed, yes but economic stimulus, No. He further advocates governmental mandates and controls, ballooning the deficit by over $1 trillion. To quote Barack (again paraphrasing), this isn't a time to worry about the deficit. He believes we can spend our way clear - what if we did that in our own households. Principles are principles, be they our personal budgets or governmental budgets. Nancy Pelosi's solution to needed economic stimulus is to have the government advocate and distribute contraception and birth control. To solve our economic ills, she wants our population and nation to contract. For anyone interested in population contraction, look to the demography of Europe and Canada, all of whom are not reproducing their population, and then compare that with the explosive demography and population of the Islamic nations which is exporting its population to compensate for the shrinking European populations. Mark Steyn has an interesting read in "America Alone."
All of these points are compounded and reflected in the quote by James Madison, ""The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
To the Honorable James Madison, "thank you."
The unfortunate state of politics in the US can best be summed up by an experience I had years ago on the steps of the National Archives. After viewing the US Constitution, I walked to the entry of the National Archives and gazed upon the depth and breadth of Washington, DC. From 3 divinely inspired pages of the Constitution we have amassed a governmental bureaucracy that boggles the mind. Unfortunately, many of the political leaders of our day and in days past have become consumed more with power or the pursuit of such than purpose and civic responsibility and duty. I am reminded of a divine entreaty that applies metaphorically, "they draw near … with their lips, but their hearts are far …" Although they may have been well intended early on, many have become victims of the political power they aspire to, leaving fundamental and foundational principles aside. The consequence has led to a government that is encumbered with self interest over civic duty, power over principle - Democrat or Republican. It isn't fair to generalize, but the shoe seems to fit in most cases. The only difference between Democrats and Republicans in this paradigm (again a generalization, but applicable), is that the Democratic Party believes it is the government's responsibility and duty, as they are the most capable, to solve the ills of our nation, states and families, whereas the Republicans believe that government has a limited role in our Federalist society and puts the responsibility on individuals. Both parties have some valid points where certain individuals or entities have failed in their duty and taken undue advantage, and of course, we all know that the government is not the most effective or efficient in its course. Just because certain individuals have failed to do what is right, it doesn't entitle the government to take on the burden - better that we motivate individual responsibility rather than stifle it by deferring to Washington. I was undone when I read this morning a proposal by certain advisors to President Obama, that we should just nationalize the US banking system and disenfranchise all shareholders, for the sake of order - can you imagine? The failings of a few doesn’t justify governmental takeovers and disenfranchisement. We could have a long dialog alone on this issue and TARP.
Sorry for the tangential rant. In any event, the divinely inspired structure of our government has established the checks and balances of the 3 branches that govern our nation. When the checks and balances are compromised in one party's control of 2 branches, as citizens, we typically lose, be it Democrat or Republican. This because of the point made above of power over principle. We especially lose, if we are right leaning, when Democrats control 2 branches because we end up with a larger government with greater intervention and more entitlements. If we are left leaning, we still lose, but not to the same degree because in theory, government shouldn't expand under Republican principles. Although, under our recent "Republican" leadership (and I don't mean Bush), we all lost because of the power over principle paradigm with our Republican legislators run amok. This should stir the pot - George Bush will likely go down as one of our better Presidents (not that he hasn't made a few mistakes). That being said, if ever there was a concern for the compromise in our checks and balances, it is today. We are without in our ability to stave off the judicial appointments that will further undermine our Constitution, reverting to the traditional British model that the state is the master and the citizen the servant thereof. We will no longer be governed for the people and by the people. We are without in our ability to return to fiscal responsibility (not that anyone has done it right in either party these past 20 years). We are without in our ability to prevent a majority in our nation from being taken off of the tax rolls, and the relegation of the tax burdens on the few. When the many outnumber the few on our tax roles, we are left with an elected government that will appease the entitled with government privilege at the expense of those who bear the sole burden. People generally vote their pocket books over principle and when the majority is on the government payroll (literally and figuratively), they vote for the perpetuation of what serves their needs and wants. I could go on, but won't.
If ever there was a time to step back and set things right, it is today! Honestly, Nancy, Harry and Barack scare me when they are one in their designs, which will take us well down a slippery slope. Sorry, I respect Barack Obama as a good person in today's society, he just believes wrong. He is a product of an entitled society and will govern accordingly. Nancy Pelosi scares me beyond reason and is not one that I would even entrust with $1 (we could write a book on this one). Can you imagine, Nancy Pelosi as one of our leaders - elected by a few so liberal in the Bay area, scary. And then, Brother Reid. When will he realize that he is simply a pawn of the Washington power mongers - I honestly have to question his capacity.
Sorry for the pent up blog, but it has been awhile. They will now come more regularly.