About Author: neoavatara


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Austerity? Not so much

A common excuse from liberals over the past year or so for the complete and utter failure of Obamanomics to create jobs and revive the economy has been blaming the House Republicans, which hold a grand total of half of Congress, for imposing harsh austerity provisions on the Federal government, which in their minds, has restricted federal spending, and therefore, decrease the rate of growth.

From Investor’s Business Daily:

A July article in USA Today, for example, claimed that “Already in 2011, softer government spending has sapped growth.”

Jared Bernstein, former chief economic adviser to Vice President Biden, wrote over the summer that “government spending cutbacks have been a large drag on growth in recent quarters and have led to sharp losses in state and local employment.”

Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman argued in September that “the turn toward austerity (is) a major factor in our growth slowdown.”

As usual, this liberal claim is completely unfounded by the facts.  $15 Trillion in debt, no significant cuts in sight, and the Democrats are whining about austerity.  It is a mad, mad world.

The Federal government, in the first 9 months of calendar year 2011, spent approximately $120 billion more than in 2010.  That is right…spending has increased since Republicans took power.  Deficit spending, which was supposed to be restrained, is $23.5 Billion higher.  Even for the last fiscal year, ending on September 30th, the Federal government spent $3.6 Trillion…or more than the $3.52 Trillion that was spent in 2009, in the zenith of the financial crisis.

More over, liberals have claimed that the halting of Federal stimulus has decreased state government spending.  That too is false.  Overall state funding is expected to grow by 5.2% in 2011, and another 2.6% in 2012.  So even on the state level, there is no austerity.

A third and final claim by liberals when ever Republicans slow spending is that the rate of increase of spending does not keep up with inflation, and thus is an imaginary cut.  Even this does not hold true.  The inflation rate using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 1.6% in 2010, and for 2011 is averaging around 3%.  This is still lower than the 5% growth of spending.  We are still increasing spending at a rate greater than inflation.  http://www.cnbc.com/id/44942965

So virtually every liberal complaint linking Republican policies to the failure of Obama’s economic plans is a fallacy.

Now, this is a double edged sword.  This shows that House Republicans attempts to restrain federal spending has largely failed.  This should surprise no one, considering that we need the agreement of Senate Democrats as well as President Obama to pass anything.  And those two entities do not support fiscal responsibility at all.  And with the supercommittee completely abdicating its role in fiscal restraint, it does show us one simple reality:  without holding the Senate and the White House, our dream of fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C. is a prayer in the wind.










Occupy Wall Street Goes Violent

For weeks, I have on various sites taken heat for defending the rights of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters.  I am, by nature, a virtual absolutist on free speech rights.  You have the right to assemble, speak, and protest, as long as you don’t infringe on my right to do the same.  I also had one caveat:  that support would only last until such time that the movement in its totality crossed that line.

I think we have seen OWS clearly cross that line this week.

Protests around the country, most spectacularly in Oakland, show the true nature of this movement.  This is a movement, at its heart, that is anticapitalistic and marginally anarchistic.  But they are also, by nature, unwilling to accept your right to practice your own free will…only their rights are pre-eminent.  The more we discuss issues with these groups, what we see is that they do not value your right to practice in a free market, or go about making a living.  Only their world view matters.

A perfect example?  In Oakland last week, we saw an unlawful protest turn violent.  When police legally attempt to clear the plaza, the protesters fought back.  They did more than peacefully resist; they attacked police members.  Many question the tactics of the police, and frankly, even I think they went overboard.  But the rights of the OWS cannot infringe on other Oakland residents’ rights either…and it has been, since they have occupied and restricted movement in that area.  The entire concept of ‘occupying‘, by nature, implies taking over an area that does not inherently belong to them.  And that is what they have successfully done over the past few months…only now are we seeing the far reaching repercussions for other citizens.

Then, the Oakland protesters went one step further.  In an attempt to call a ‘general strike’, along the lines of famously successful protest movements in Europe, the protesters in Oakland this week (which, according to police and the OWS leaders there, numbered about 7,000) attempted to ‘peacefully’ shut down the Port of Oakland.  In the process, they are endangering the jobs of thousands of middle class persons, who rely on the port for their income.  They will fail in their attempts for a ‘general strike’, of course, for a very simple reason:  people don’t want to strike and stop working; they, in fact, for the most part want to work more.  These protesters are doing more to stop commerce, and threatening well paying jobs, than actually supporting these middle classes persons in their quest to maintain their living.

You see this trend in the OWS protests across the nation.  In Manhattan, Michael Bloomberg is almost at the end of his rope, as small businesses continue to lose thousands of dollars weekly because of the protesters, and layoffs are beginning.  In Denver and Oakland, we see protesters destroying property of small business owners, most of whom are not anywhere near the 1% of income makers in this country.   Independent and swing voters abhor this kind of action; they want answers to real problems in this country…not a violent revolt.

Ironically, one of the main complaints from leaders in the OWS is that the mainstream media is ignoring them, and their petitions.  I would argue that the media is doing them a favor.  The more we learn about these guys, the less likely the mainstream of America is going to like what they hear.  For example, one common thread that now emerges, which was hidden in the early weeks of this campaign, is now quite apparent:  that the primary goal of many if not most of the protesters is, in their own words to end capitalism.  I would wager most Americans think such concepts are abhorrent.

Ultimately, this will have serious repercussions.  First and foremost, it will delegitimize what little mainstream credibility the OWS has.  It will continue to alienate most Americans, who want answers to their daily questions, like how to pay their bills, not new problems, such as the risk of violent insurrection.  We are already seeing these findings in new poll results by Quinniapiac, which shows 30% favorability rating for the OWS versus 39% unfavorable rating in their newest poll.  Finally, and maybe most interestingly, it is going to paint the Democrats as the party of violence.  This may not be 1968 again, but it is close.  And we already know that the OWS is planning protests at both the Republican and Democrat National Conventions next year, just to prove the point further.  Obama has also tacitly approved of these protests.  Many Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and others, went much farther in their support.  They are now bound to these protesters, whether they like it or not.

I still don’t believe that most of the Occupy Wall Street protesters are violent…but that doesn’t matter.  In the same way that a tiny, tiny percentage of Tea Party protesters were fringe and painted the entire movement as racist or bigoted, we now have a small percentage of violent protesters involved in OWS.  I would wager that number is far more in number than the fringe members of the Tea Party, considering the number of arrests, injuries, and the gross amount of property damage resulting from the OWS movement, versus a practically nonexistent amount of those factors with the Tea Party.  The fringe will ultimately define the movement, whether they like it or not.  And painting the movement as anticapitalist, anarchist, and violent clearly will be detrimental to them, their allies, and the Democrat Party.






Let Them Eat Cake! How To Respond To The Occupy Wall Street Protesters…

The Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) has captured the imagination of the American left, including our brilliant left leaning media.

To be sure, there is a real movement here.  Those on the right simply dismissing these people do so at their own peril.  The angst among the American people is real, and is very much similar to the forces that led to the birth of the Tea Party:  distrust in government, fear of corruption because of massive federal spending, and politicians complete failure to translate the needs of the people into thoughtful policy.

I am a First Amendment absolutist…unless you are committing a crime, I have no problem in their protests.  More power to them.  To be sure, there have been some ‘excesses’ by the OWS protesters, and some violent actions, but overall, I can’t say I can call them violent along the lines of the G7 protests in Seattle or multiple left wing European protests.  Time will tell if that will change.

That said, the differences between OWS and the Tea Party are stark as well.  Many of these are gross generalizations, to be sure, but I think they for the most part hold up factually.  While the Tea Party tended to be older, more suburban middle class individuals, the OWS tend to be younger, mostly college aged in nature, and generally urban in nature.  I think both groups ironically have a fair amount of educated persons in their fold.  Of course, the biggest difference may be their solutions to our problems. The Tea Party believes debt, and government intrusion, largely are responsible for the position we are in.  The OWS believe that corporate greed, and the rich ‘abusing’ the poor and the masses caused this crisis.

Republicans, such as Herman Cain and Eric Cantor, that are condescending to these groups and call them ‘mobs’ frankly are doing conservatives a disservice.  Cantor has since backtracked, calling the protesters’ frustration ‘justified‘.  Conservatives should accept these people’s complaints about the poor economy, and a broken system, while rejecting their ridiculous solutions.  More over, we gain nothing by using a failed strategy of Democrats.  Charles Schumer and others try to blame the Tea Party for everything from rising health care costs to the flailing economy…and that strategy continues to fail.  Why should we repeat their mistake?

In some ways, my problem with Republicans attacking the OWS protesters can be distilled to just this:  if a group is damaging your enemy, get out of the way and enjoy the show.  The OWS may have some good central themes, but ultimately many of those key items are co-opted by Marxist, Socialist and anarchist belief systems.  Not to mention, while Tea Partiers had their funny looking costume wearing folk, they also had their grandmothers marching.  The OWS protesters largely appear like the hippies that we like to believe they are.  There are several likely long term results of this movement:  it completely dissipates, especially as winter approaches; it survives, but does not transition to a mainstream political movement; or worst case, it becomes at some point violent.  In each of these cases, it seems unlikely that the Democrats will benefit.  There is, of course, the slim chance the movement will gain steam and go mainstream like the Tea Party, but considering the above, I am willing to roll the dice.

My one concern with this entire episode is that we are missing an opportunity to have our own discussion about how to fix what ails our economy.  When you take time and listen to the intelligent voices in the OWS, they have similar complaints to what most conservatives do:  a failing regulatory system, an economy that cannot compete on the world stage, and a system that is not doing enough to maintain the livelihoods for our middle class.

Conservatives have solutions to these problems.  First, reform the regulatory system, by streamlining it.  Dodd-Frank and other regulations have done nothing to make us safer.  Simple regulations, such as demanding people put more money down to obtain loans, would do far more than the Obama era regulations would.  Furthermore, the ever changing regulatory environment does more to hinder economic growth than many of these people believe.  Second, completely reform our tax system.  It is unfair to the middle class; but only a flatter tax code would solve that problem, not the inane solutions provided by this President.  And third, have a government policy whose first and foremost goal is to create private sector jobs.

No, conservatives will never win over these protesters, but that misses the point.  Many of these guys are the wacko wing of the liberal party.  But our argument is for the larger American public, who have real concerns, many of which are being voiced by the OWS, albeit in a strange manner.

So, I say let them eat cake.  Let them have their voice heard.  And let the American people decide.  Conservatives should feel comfortable enough in their own skin to have movements such as the OWS have their say.  In the end, do we really think they are going to win the argument?


The Presidential Horserace: Where We Stand

c/o Steve Kelly, Townhall.com

Well, depending on when the dates of the caucuses and primaries end up, as they are still in flux, we could be looking at less than 100 days until the first vote to select our next Presidential nominee.

That can seem like a blink of an eye.

The field now appears to be set…finally.  Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Sarah Palin, and other stragglers now have finally officially bowed out for 2012.

So where do we stand, after months of traversing the country, blabbering in somewhat useless debates, and after many foibles and flaws came to light?

1.  Romney still leads.

This will bother almost every conservative out there, including myself…but facts are facts.  While one candidate or another has shot to the forefront, Romney has been steady at his 20-25% of the Republican electorate.  He has fascinated nor excited no one.  He simply goes about his business, for good or ill.

The 25% ceiling, if it is real, is worrisome for many reasons.  Maybe most concerning to the Romney camp is that number is similar to his ceiling during the 2008 election cycle as well.  This could be coincidence, or a worrying indicator.

The problems for Romney will never go away.  But in a cycle where economic and political strife plague the country, Romney’s steadfastness and ability to be above the fray may pay off.  He is steady, if not boring.  He is moderate, which secures money donors.  And he does not scare away independents.    Unless a true conservative shoots the forefront, and is able to maintain their support, it is difficult to see anyone supplanting him from the pole position.

2.  The Social Conservative Shoot Themselves In The Foot.

First there was Trump (who wasn’t really a conservative, IMHO), who basically behaved like himself and self-destructed.  Then Michelle Bachmann, who behaved like herself, which was great until she blundered into the HPV/retardation fiasco, which basically took her out of contention.

Now it appears Rick Perry is taking his turn.  Before flaming out, Ms. Bachmann laid some significant blows on Perry with his HPV vaccination mandate, which was a foolish bit of executive privilege if there ever was one.  Then to compound matters, Perry virtually insulted every other conservative by calling them ‘heartless’ for opposing in state tuition for children of illegal immigrants.

Perry now confronts a N-word controversy that likely is more media bashing than anything else.  When Democrats who don’t even like his politics are defending him, you know how ridiculous a story it is.  We can whine about how unfair the media is, but in an environment where Herman Cain (?!?!) is being questioned on his racist comments, we should expect nothing different.  What is really disturbing is Perry’s complete and utter inability to react to any of these controversies.

Successful Presidential campaigns historically respond successfully to adversity.  Perry has not responded well so far.  Does he have the backbone and will power to sustain through the hardships?

Possibly an even bigger problem for Perry is that he may quickly lose the interest of undecided conservatives.  I consider myself in this group.  I really want to like Perry, but have been far from sold.  In some ways, this reminds me of four years ago, when I really wanted to like Mitt Romney, because I did not want John McCain to be our nominee.  Romney could never make the sale then; can Perry make it now?

Still, Perry has an opening if he can quickly right the ship.  He does have a lot going for him:  a great narrative with the state of Texas, the aura of leadership, and a lot of money (he raised $17 million in a month and a half, which is impressive under any circumstances).  However,  he has little time to solve the previously described deficiencies, otherwise he will quickly join Bachmann and Trump in the list of also-rans.

3.  Is Cain Able?

You have got to love Herman Cain.  He is a true conservative through and through.  Yes, he supported TARP.  Yes, he attacked Perry on the recent racist claim a little too fast.  But overall, here is a man that eloquently defends conservative positions.  That has gained him a fair amount of right wing support, much of it taken from Gov. Perry.  And maybe more of note:  it has drawn the ire of the mainstream media and liberal left, which means they are starting to fear him.

The problem with Cain is obvious:  he is a dark horse (and no, liberals, that is NOT a racist comment; duh).  He has no prior elective government experience, which is a good and bad thing.  But in an era where we criticize Obama’s naivete on a daily basis, how do we defend Cain’s inexperience?  Cain was a civilian employee for the Navy, was on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and he was subsequently elected their chairman. His civilian experience at Coca-Cola, Burger King, and as C.E.O. of Godfather’s Pizza is extensive as well.  Are those credentials enough to convince America he is ready to sit in the Oval Office?  For me, it is enough; I am not sure about the rest of the electorate.

Additionally, Cain has not truly been running a campaign for the nomination.  His campaign staff is bare-bones, to say the least. He has virtually no ground game in either Iowa and New Hampshire, and is spending the next few weeks…on a book tour.  No joke.  You cannot win in the early states without an infrastructure, and Cain apparently never believed he would need one.  More importantly, if he were to win the nomination, would he be able to ‘scale up’ his staff for a truly national campaign against Barack Obama?

I agree with many of the man’s ideas, and adore his eloquence on conservative issues…but I just don’t see how he brings it to fruition.  I hope I am wrong…I would love to see Cain make a serious bid well into the nomination process next year.

4.  Waiting For Christie

Governor Chris Christie was the establishment candidate that made the inner circle drool.  I like Christie.  He is eloquent, tough, clear spoken, and gets things done.  Yes, he has serious deficiencies in his political stances, especially on the 2nd amendment and on immigration.

But now that he is out of the race, it is good for the entire field.  Christie’s 2 week dance froze the field, for all purposes.  Donors wanted to be sure he wasn’t jumping in.  Voters that were already disenchanted of course held back any decision.  The media paid no attention to the other candidates at all.

There doesn’t appear to be any more saviors on the horizon.  The Palinistas have dreamed of her jumping in, but that ship has sailed.  Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee are making a little noise, but both are really  nonstarters at this point.

These are our candidates.  Love’em or leave’em.

5.  The Also-Rans

How long can Gingrich, Santorum, and the other stragglers hold on?  Gingrich and Santorum are good debaters, and that alone has kept them afloat.  Gingrich hovers in the high single digits in polls, while Santorum is around 5%.  Without a huge influx of dollars, neither is going to last long.  There is much to like about some of these candidates, but we all know they are not going to win the nomination.

Then there is Ron Paul.  Lets be honest…anyone who supports the Wall St. protesters and opposes the killing of Al Qaeda terrorists is not going to win the GOP nomination.  Enough said.

6.  Obama is still Obama

No matter what, keep up your optimism.  Most of these candidates can run a decent general election campaign, which is what we need to defeat our current President.  Obama seems unable or unwilling to simply move to the center, and attempt to take a political high ground.  He is simply not the political wizard people imagined him to be in 2008, and his inexperience and political incompetence is showing.

However, optimism is different than arrogance.  I have started to see many conservatives simply assume that Obama will be defeated next November.  We better get out of that mindset right now.  Obama will have close to a $1 billion to attack and destroy whomever wins the Republican nomination.  Along with a willing media, that is a huge impediment for us to get our message out.

So no matter who ultimately wins the nomination, we have a lot of hard work ahead of us.  But right now, approximately a year from the election, things are looking good.




Obama’s Big Lie To Ohio

Ohio is going to be the keystone to any Presidential strategy.  And as such, we will be seeing a lot of this President, and the Republican nominee, over the next 14 months.

But we have already seen that this President has little or nothing to offer the great state of Ohio.

Obama last week, in what can only be defined as a political stunt, went to the Brent Spence Bridge spanning the Ohio River near Cincinnati.  The choice of Cincinnati was not random, as it is the home of Speaker of the House John Boehner, and lies acrosss the Ohio River from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.

So Obama, in his usual arrogant and condescending manner, proclaimed the bridge as a perfect example of why Republicans, and all Ohioans, heck, all Americans should support his jobs plan.  He stated that bridges like the Spence Bridge need to be fixed to prevent them from falling, and America could create jobs by immediately supporting his bill.  In fact, Obama specifically pointed to the bridge and said it was crumbling, and we should infer that Republicans are basically putting lives at risk by not supporting the funding.

Great story.  One problem:  there is virtually nothing factual about Obama’s argument.

First and foremost, the Brent Spence Bridge is 48 years old.  According to the Department of Transportation, and the website for the bridge repair or replacement that can be seen here, the bridge in fact is in such good repair, it could function for decades more.  In fact, by the websites own analysis, it is not crumbling at all.  According to the DOT, the bridge could last another 50 years with basic improvements.

There is one caveat.  People are pushing for funding…to replace the bridge in its entirety.  This is not because it is crumbling, or at risk of falling down.  It is because business leaders argue that it is functionally obsolete.  This means that the bridge, initially designed to carry approximately 85,000 cars and trucks a day, now carries almost twice that number.  The problem is not structural, so much as capacity, as the bridge is a common cause of backups and delays.

So Mr. Obama’s statement of a ‘crumbling bridge’ is totally and completely a misstatement.

Furthermore, the project to replace the Spence Bridge is nowhere ready to move any time soon.  According to supporters of replacing the bridge, the earliest work could even begin on a replacement is…2015.  In other words, Obama would be in the third year of his second term in office before a single job was created in either Ohio or Kentucky.  In fact, the project was considered so unworthy of ‘shovel ready’ status, that it was not provided funding in the first Obama stimulus specifically for that reason.

There are, of course, a multitude of problems with this.  First and foremost is Obama’s ability to try to use people’s vulnerabilities, such as fear of the bridge falling down and of course the larger issue of the lack of jobs, to scare them into supporting his plan.  But it gets even more fundamental than that. Obama’s jobs bill specifically states that projects must be started no less than 2 years after passage of the bill…thus making the Brent Spence Bridge ineligible for funds from the Jobs bill he is promoting, while standing in front of said bridge.

Another obvious problem is more basic with Obama’s, and most liberals, solution for economic growth.  Nothing they do today will have virtually anything other than a minimal effect for years.  And even then, the large stimulative effect on the economy is questionable at best.  In short, this administration is simply out of ideas on creating jobs or on moving the economy again, and simply is lying to voters across the nation in order to distract the American people from that reality.





9/11, A Decade Later…

The number of retrospectives of the events of September 11, 2001 are too many to count.  The repercussions of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and in the air space over Pennsylvania effected every American in one way or another, and there are just as many stories to go along with those people.

For us today, I think a more relevant discussion is where we were on September 10, 2001, and where we are in the present, September 11, 2011.  What have we done right?  What have we done wrong?  What does the future hold?

Like Time Magazine says, the discussion must go beyond 9/11.

On the foreign policy front, everything changed on that day.  Before the attacks, do people remember what was discussed about foreign policy for much of George W. Bush’s first year as President?  Not much.  We had the takedown of a military intelligence jet in China.  We had issues with North Korea and Iraq, which always seemed to crop up.  But no major issues loomed.

Of course, the repercussions of that day extend to every corner of the globe.

Most prominent of course is the wars started in the Middle East.

Afghanistan was by every definition a war of necessity.  A decade of nation building there, with our limited successes and failures, by no means changes that.  Afghanistan ultimately is a country that we cannot rescue.  Going forward, it is a geographic region that must be over seen, but not controlled.  Pulling out of Afghanistan for the most part makes sense.

Iraq will always be the historical question that plagues the Bush legacy.  Was it a war of necessity?  How badly were we misinformed about weapons of mass destruction?  Years later, and after liberals accusations for years, no evidence has ever come forward that the intelligence failures were intentional, and I don’t think most Americans believe it to be.

The larger question for Iraq was whether the costs were worth the result.  First and foremost, never let anyone tell you that the removal of Saddam Hussein was not a good thing, for the Middle East as well as the larger world community.  United Nations and American reports show that we can document hundreds of thousands of civilians massacred in Iraq and placed in mass graves.  Saddam was on of the great murderers of the twentieth century.  He should no be missed by anyone.

Whether the cost in blood and treasure was worth his removal, I don’t think anyone will be able to say.  There is much too much political influence into that debate to really ever get a fair analysis of the costs and benefits of the decision.  I think the public believes that the war was not worth the costs.  That, in and of itself, is an important lesson for future politicians.  It is ironic that President Obama largely makes the same argument for the legitimacy of his actions in Libya as the Bush Administration uses for Iraq:  that the removal of a hated tyrannical leader was worth the costs and repercussions.

Long term who knows.  In Iraq, we are only beginning to see the long term repercussions, as a fledgling democracy emerges.  In Libya,a very different war initiated for very different reasons.  we have no idea the manner in which the new leaders of that country will take their country.  Many of their military leaders are linked to terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda…which does not bore well for the future.  We have seen the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings, which few can doubt were also repercussions of 9/11, in one manner or another.  However, the eventual composition of governments in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and maybe Syria are unknown, and could vary from completely democratic and cooperative to islamic fundamentalist.  Time will tell.

On the home front, we created the Department of  Homeland Security.  Whether this was a correct decision in and of itself can be debated.  It is now the largest department other than the Department of Defense, with a myriad of bureaucracy that only Washington, D.C. could create.  We passed the Patriot Act, which did a lot of good and has been essential to our safety over the past 10 years.  At the same time, questions about personal freedoms are valid, and go on.

However, despite the larger historical arguments, whether about foreign wars or changes in our homeland security, one thing is clear:  we are safer.  We are not completely safe; and it is a fool’s errand to ever believe we will be fully safe.  We were not completely safe on September 10, 2001 any more than we are today.  That was a national delusion that was shattered 10 years ago.

We are not a perfect country, and have never been a perfect country.  Perfection is for philosophers alone.  We have had leaders lead us through the issues that have arisen ever since the first plane flew into the North tower of the World Trade Center.   They have done their best, and only politics obscures this fact.  I thank God that George W. Bush was President that day; many liberals disagree.  But that is a political argument, not a practical one.  He led us spiritually, emotionally, and ultimately militarily, and few could have done better.  I am thankful Rudy Giuliani was Mayor of New York, and led that city through the most challenging days of its existence.  I thank Michael Bloomberg, who has navigated the waters for the last 10 years, allowing the World Trade Center and its Memorial to come about.  And I give thanks to our current President Barack Obama, who despite irrational rhetoric from the left, has largely followed the tenets that his predecessor set, and ultimately made the decisions that led to the assassination and ultimate justice for the man responsible for this crime against humanity.

So on this day, 3,652 days after the towers collapsed, and the fires were burning in the Pentagon, and smoke rose in the fields of Pennsylvania, let the nation remember.  Let us remember that we live in a world of evil, and threats will always exist, and we must always be ready.  We must never forget.  Whether Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, political or not, we must remember the reality of the world we live in.  Never again should we be so naive as to believe that we are exempt from the hatred that exists.

And so for this day, it is a time to remember.  It is also a time to look forward.  Lower Manhattan slowly rebuilds.  There are now more people living in close vicinity to the WTC site than lived there on 9/11…a remarkable fact.  We are a resilient country.  We now face many challenges, but none as stark as those of that day 10 years ago.  We are close to an economic recession, with millions of Americans out of work.  We suffer from huge debt that will effect our children.  An our power both militarily and politically wanes overseas.  But that by no means diminishes who we are, and what we can do.  9/11 was a tragedy, with 2,983 souls dying that day.  But from that tragedy, we will become a better, more honest, more secure country.  I honestly believe that, and so should you.

God Bless the United States of America.


Has Obama Been A Bad President?

Jonathan Alter has a well publicized piece on Bloomberg asking people opposing Barack Obama why he has been a bad president.

I know, I had to chuckle too.

Varied commentators have taken their stabs at answering the question.  Classic non-conservative David Frum even took a swing at it.  Mickey Kaus at The Daily Caller probably had the best answer.

But I thought I would take a swing at it too…especially in direct response to Alter’s claims regarding the economy.

Obama’s failure economically can be divided into two distinct parts:  the stimulus, and everything after the stimulus.

1.  The Stimulus Was A Failure

Only an extreme liberal could claim that the stimulus was a glowing success.

Alter points out that as of February 2009, the country was losing around 700,000 jobs a month (Alter says it is 750k, that is incorrect; it is actually closer to 650k).  However, the fact that we were losing a lot of jobs is absolutely true.  But what is not necessarily true, and is up for serious debate, is whether the Obama stimulus stopped that hemorrhaging.  Liberals point out that the loss of jobs steadily decreased after passage of the bill.  But remember a key point:  not much money was spent during the summer of 2009.  In fact, the vast majority of spending was in 2010…after the recession technically ended.

One could argue that simply the emotional effect of the stimulus helped stop job losses.  I cannot disprove that, I guess.  But it could not have been directly related to spending, because of the simple fact that spending had not occurred.

Additionally, the money which had actually been spent may or may not have stopped those job losses.  Alter, and liberals, would like us simply to assume that is the case, that there is a linear relationship between the two.  However, if that was the case…why didn’t we see improving jobs numbers as we spent even more money in 2010?  Their explanation is simply flawed.  Is there argument that the small money that was spent in 2009 provided some stimulative effect, but much larger spending in 2010 had virtually no effect at all?

Alter also brings up, and to his credit partially debunks, a claim by the left that the stimulus was too small.  Paul Krugman leads the choir on this claim.  Alter points out, correctly, that nothing larger would have passed.  But this is actually irrelevant to the discussion.  Even a $1 trillion stimulus would not have succeeded.  Simply put, the throughput of money through the federal government is much too slow and inefficient to stimulate the economy in such a way.  For example, Obama himself now admits that his much ballyhooed ‘shovel ready projects’ was a joke.

Let us give Obama a little leeway.  At best, the Obama stimulus did push money into a flailing economy.  However, to state that it saved the economy and the nation is a leap of faith that only those that blindly believe in Obama would accept, without more evidence to support their claim.  The stimulus probably did do some good, as it blindly injected about $100 Billion into the economy during 2009.  However, that certainly did not produce any significant job production, which was the real goal of the stimulus.  That goal was stated by Obama himself.  So it was a failure, even by the bar set by the President himself; and that doesn’t even bring up the issue of the 8% unemployment rate promised by members of his administration.  Additionally, the stimulus was not, in fact, stimulative.  Yes, money was spent, and that had some positive effects, but the ultimate goal of any economic stimulus is to have a multiplier effect, in which the spending can be recouped from future growth.  By any measure, that did not occur.

So only by the most ridiculous of liberal mantras was the Obama stimulus anything but a failure.

2.  Everything after the stimulus

As if the failure of the stimulus was not bad enough, President Obama doubled down on big government. First and foremost was the debate on Obamacare, which lasted for a year and a half.  The best liberal spin would argue that they passed a bill that provided virtual universal health care and lowered cost.  Any rational evaluation of the bill would argue that they covered most people in America, without truly reforming the system and without bending the cost curve significantly.

Economically speaking, the damaging part was the confusion and uncertainty the bill presented to private businesses.  To this day, neither government officials nor anyone else can clearly explain to you the long term effects this bill has on job production.  Some independent analyses describe a negative effect on job production.  However, one thing is for sure:  the passage of Obamacare increased costs and regulations for anyone hiring people going forward.  A brilliantly stupid thing to do during a recession, no?

Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the regulatory mess this administration has wrought upon the nation.  Whether it be the EPA, the NLRB, etc., the Obama Administration has made it more difficult and costly to hire and keep people employed in the private sector.  Furthermore, the few industries that have steadily increased employment during this recession, led by energy and fossil fuel development, have been attacked on a virtually daily basis as being evil and illegitimate way to create jobs.

Democrats frankly have been completely missing in action regarding jobs since the passage of the stimulus in February of 2009.  Can anyone name a single jobs policy that they have passed since that time?  Obama will magically present a jobs bill sometime in early September, which will get no where because it will simply increase spending without really producing any jobs.  For most of that time, Democrats focused on Obamacare, which if anything destroyed new job production.

Jonathan Alter can argue that Obama came into a terrible economic environment, and confronted huge  headwinds.  I will stipulate to that.  But the job of the President is to focus on the major problems of the country, and attempt to improve them.  Not only did Obama not help alleviate those problems…he actually aggravated the situation.  Not only did he not provide solutions, he was missing in action for much of his first term on the preeminent issue of the day, namely unemployment and economic growth.  Simply put, in every manner of evaluation, Obama has failed this country.

So yes, Mr. Alter, I think Mr. Obama has been a bad President, and I think I and others can more than prove that to be the case.



Is Paul Ryan The Answer?

Today’s news that Congressman Paul Ryan is seriously considering jumping into the Republican nomination race for President has to be stunning for anyone following Ryan for the past year.

Ryan’s focus as been so centered on the budget, debt ceiling, and entitlement reform, one has to wonder if he ever took his nose out of a CBO report.

Paul Ryan’s positives are clear:  he was the leading voice for budgetary restraint long before the Tea Party existed.  He was the only politician to put out a comprehensive package to reform entitlements, most specifically Medicare.  No one else has come close.

But in these points lies a black cloud…which is that Ryan’s honesty about entitlements is his Achilles’ heel.  The public is still not honestly discussing the reality that entitlements need to be cut.  And so the Democrats have successfully demagogued Ryan over the past few months.  Yes, the attacks have been false and laden with lies, but it has still hurt his standing with the general public, who often don’t look very deep into the political discourse of the day.

The other question is, what is Ryan’s viable path to the nomination?  Bachmann and Perry seem to have the social conservative locked up, making Iowa a tough sell for Ryan.  Romney has an edge in New Hampshire, though you could argue Ryan’s calm demeanor and fact based rhetoric could play there.  But there is no clear way for Ryan.  He will have to hang on, and hope that he catches on for Super Tuesday.  That is a tough road to climb, especially when he would likely be outspent by Romney, Bachmann, and Perry.

I still will be slightly shocked if Ryan jumps in.  He is young, and has plenty more chances at a Presidential run if he wishes.  A little executive experience wouldn’t hurt either.  But at the same time, Ryan is by far the most eloquent voice Republicans have on entitlement reform, and I would hope his voice would stay in Congress, where it could probably have the largest effect.

Ryan is one of my personal political heroes.  At 41, he has many years ahead of him to make a profound impact on this country.  I just don’t know if running for President is the right choice at this time.


Extremism In The Defense Of Liberty

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!

Barry Goldwater, 1964 Republican nomination acceptance speech

The names that conservatives have been called over the last few weeks, culminating in the last few days, would be shocking, if you expected anything more from liberals.

I don’t.  Never have, never will.

We have been called terrorists, jihadists, racists, extortionists, bigots, hostage takers, suicide bombers.  I can go on and on.

Even our Vice President, Joe Biden, jumped into the fray.  It is reported that he said, in support of another Democrat’s statement, that the Republicans “…acted like terrorists.”  He denies he used the word ‘terrorist’, but even if he agreed with the statement, he looks foolish.  Ironic, too, because he was on Capitol Hill trying to whip for Democrat votes for a bill that passed by large bipartisan majorities in both houses.

Well, to that, I say:  Nuts.

Anyone who thought that Barack Obama’s plea for civility after Gabrielle Giffords shooting in January was anything more than political opportunism is a fool.  Obama and his cohorts on the left simply wanted to make political capital on a tragedy.  This weeks words and actions from the political left proves that, once and for all.

First and foremost, we are NOT extremists in any sort of the word.  We are extreme only to liberals whose mindset has become spending at all costs, regardless of the outcome or repercussions.  And offending their illusion of reality…well, that is what brings out the worst in our liberal friends.

It is not extreme to ask our government to live within its means; that doesn’t mean strictly no deficits, but it does mean have a plan to limit the size of our debt problem.

It is not extreme to have our entitlement programs run in such a manner that it does not bankrupt our children and grandchildren even before they enter middle school.

It is not extreme to say that our level of taxes are enough.  If you want to reform the tax code, be my guest.  I am all for eliminating tax loopholes for the ultrarich and eliminate many, if not all, tax exemptions.  The tax code is the dumbest piece of literature on the face of the earth.  Throw the entire code out, and start from scratch.  One of the few bipartisan agreements I bet we could make is that our tax code is archaic.  So do something about it.

The irony is that the extremism, if it exists, exists on the left.  It is extreme to keep spending when we have example after example of other countries reaching similar levels of debt, and falling off the cliff.  It is extreme to keep spending on stimulus, when it has not produced any significant jobs.  It is extreme to blindly do what you have done over and over again, when it achieves terrible results.  That is extreme…or at the very least, insane.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal put it succinctly:

Obama’s failure is the failure of the liberal elite, and that is why their ressentiment has reached such intensity. Their ideas, such as they are, are being put to a real-world test and found severely wanting. As a result, their authority is collapsing. And if there is one thing they know deep in their bones, it is that they are entitled to that authority. They lash out, desperately and pathetically, because they have nothing to offer but fear and anger.

I say let them call us names.  The more they are angry, the more it means we are achieving.  The more derogatory terms they use to describe us, the more we know that we are disrupting their status quo.  The more uncivil they are, the more we know we are on the right track.  Do not get sidetracked by their vitriol, because they know not what they do.  Move forward, and continue in the fight for fiscal sanity and federal restraint.

Because as a great man once said almost a half century ago, extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.





Captain America: Movie Review

I saw this over a week ago, but political shenanigans were at an all time high, and so I never got this posted.  But Captain America is a relic.  He is a character largely created simply for the use of raising patriotism during World War II, and actually was created in early  1941.  After the war, the popularity of the character has waxed and waned, until now, when it basically hit rock bottom.

Until now.

Director Joe Johnston was given what I consider the unenviable task of making a character from a previous era enjoyable to youngsters of today.  Here is a character that believes wholeheartedly in truth, justice, and the American way; he believes in the greatness of America.  Not something you hear much from Hollywood these days.

We all know that this movie would never have been made, except for the fact that Marvel is gearing up for The Avengers movie next May. (By the way, there is a short preview of that at the end of this movie, FWIW).  However, I am glad they finally succeeding in making this movie.  Captain America may be a relic…but is also harkens back to yesteryear, when we fought real enemies on a real battlefield, with real heroes.  Nothing wrong with bringing a character that lives with those old ideals today.

Chris Evans, in his second stint as a superhero (he was the Human Torch in the ill fated Fantastic Four series) brings a solid performance to the buttoned up pure American hero, Steve Rogers.

This is the Captain America movie that many fans have wanted for years.  There will be no sequel, I predict, because the Avengers is basically this movie’s followup.  But this movie has brought Captain America back into relevance…quite an achievement in and of itself.  I cannot wait for the Avengers next year.

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