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2011 Predictions…A Look Back

So, my predictions from last year were strikingly on target on the economy and politics, and just as amazingly off target when it came to entertainment and sports.  Oh well, at least I am consistent.  You can my predictions from last year here.

Here is a review…

1. Economy.

  • I predicted 2.5% growth…Actual GDP was 1.6%.  I was off…but not as much as the Obama Administration, which predicted 3.5-4% growth for 2011.
  • I stated that unemployment would NOT drop below 8.5%…it dropped to 8.6% last month.
  • Business continue to be profitable overall, as predicted.
  • I predicted the stock market would rise 7-10%…it has been virtually flat.
  • Oil has hovered below $100, and gas at the pump has been below $4.  I predicted both would be much higher.
  • I was right on Gold and silver prices, which I predicted correctly would rise until mid year, and then drop.
  • I thought there would be MANY more defaults of municipalities, and that has not been true.
2.  Politics
  • Republicans in the House kept their promise to reform entitlements and health care (especially with the Ryan plan passage), but were blocked by Democrats to move the bills forward.
  • Republicans called for broad spending cuts, and passed many of them in the House.  As predicted, liberals attacked them for ‘killing the elderly and children’.
  • I predicted the debt ceiling fight accurately.
  • This is an exact quote from last year’s post:  “Obama, as arrogant as ever and possibly more so after his recent successes, will fall back into his belief that he is the greatest politician of his generation.   He will make no significant changes to the leadership of the West Wing or Cabinet, and continue on his current path.  Sure, he will compromise with Republicans on certain issues.  But he will also fight Republicans tooth and nail on certain provisions, but unlike Bill Clinton, will overplay his hand at some point.”  Pretty accurate, huh?  Even I am impressed.
  • I said numerous Democrats would retire…hit the nail on the head.
  • I predicted a tumultuous year for states, and predicted heavy cost cutting by MI Gov. Rick Snyder, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, IL Gov. Pat Quinn, and CA Gov. Jerry Brown.  Missed Wisconsin in that, didn’t I?
  • I correctly predicted Obama’s popularity would hover in the low 40s.  I completely missed when saying Republican popularity would slowly rise (it hasn’t) and Congress approval would stabilize or rise (it has indeed dropped).
  • I stated Sarah Palin would not run.  But, I thought Mike Pence and John Thune would be the leading candidates for the Republican nomination…big mistake.  I still WISH I were right.

3.  Sports

  • Auburn will crush Oregon for the BCS National Championship. [Crushed?  Nope.  Win?  Yes. ]
  • The University of Michigan will fire Rich Rodriquez, and hire Jim Harbaugh as coach.  Michigan will go 7-5 in the 2011 season.  [Fired RichRod.  Hired…Brady Hoke.  They went 10-2 (?!?!?!) and are headed to the Sugar Bowl…beyond my wildest expectations]
  • New England Patriots will dominate, and win the  Super Bowl. [Nope…the Packers dominated]
  • Kansas Jayhawks will with the NCAA Basketball Championship. [Nope…UCONN]
  • Boston Celtics will win the NBA Championship.  Miami and the L.A. Lakers will falter in the playoffs. [Nope…Dallas defeated Miami, as Lebron choked…again.]
  • Detroit Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup.  [Nope…Boston Bruins]
  • Tiger Woods will have another mediocre year. [Nope…he had a horrible year]
  • Philadelphia Phillies, behind their awesome new pitching staff, will win the World Series. [Nope…St. Louis Cardinals, in a classic World Series.]

4.  Entertainment

  • The Social Network will win the Oscar for Best Movie. 4.  Entertainment
    • The Social Network will win the Oscar for Best Movie. [Nope…The King’s Speech]
So like most years, my economic and political predictions…not too shabby.  I seem to be better at macroeconomic predictions than microeconomic, as my stock portfolio would confirm.  I seem to suck at sports and entertainment predictions.  I am almost scared to make them for 2012…almost.



Top Movies of 2011

That time of the year again.  Frankly, I thought this was, at best, a mediocre year at the movies.  A lot of movies that I had expectations for last year were letdowns.  That said, there were certainly movies I enjoyed, and I hope you caught a few of them along the way.  Please note that the links take you to my reviews of the movies, where available.

Honorable Mentions:  50/50, Another Earth, The Artist, Bridesmaids, Captain America, Cars 2, The Descendents, Drive, Green Lantern, The Help, Horrible Bosses, Midnight in Paris, Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol, Moneyball, The Muppets, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Rango, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Transformers Dark of the Moon, Thor, Tree of Life, Warrior

10. Drive

Ryan Gosling had a good year, as you can see with the movie just below this one…but Drive may be the movie that fans come back and watch in years ahead.  An action filled movie that is becoming a cult classic, this is a movie most of you did not see…but should make sure you do.

9. Crazy, Stupid, Love

The best romantic comedy of the year.  With an awesome and funny cast, and enough twists to keep you entertained, Steve Carell again shows that he is simply one of the funniest men around.

8.  Hanna

Hanna was a movie that simply flew under the radar.  I knew it did for me…I ended up watching it on DVD.  That said, I have to say it was one of the more enjoyable movies of the year.  Saoirse Ronan, who plays the title character, is a star in the making.  And her portrayal of a young girl trained to be the ultimate killing machine, and the forces that formed the world she has grown up in, are fascinating.

7.  Attack the Block

This low budget movie from England simply was the one of the most entertaining science fiction movies of 2011.  The story about a group of ghetto dwelling delinquents fighting an alien invasion, with the assistance of the woman they mugged hours earlier, is pure joy.

6.  X-Men:  First Class

This was a movie that I was very unsure of a year ago.  In my look forward from the end of 2011, I showed a lot of ambivalence.  But the movie paid off.  Probably the best of the X-Men movies…and that is saying quite a bit.

5.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I was quite ambivalent about the making of this film.  I am a huge fan of the original European version, starring Noomi Rapace.  That said…Director David Fincher has done a masterful job translating Stieg Larsson’s book to the American screen.  Rooney Mara does a fantastic job, and this film can hold its own with the original…which is high praise indeed.

4.  Super 8

I loved this movie.  I cannot tell you how much.  I can tell you why though.  I grew up in the late 70s, in Ohio, much like the characters involved.  I had a group of friends that would do exactly what these characters did.  And of course, there was always a girl.  This movie just happened to touch me where it counts.  I think many others felt the same way, for their own reasons.

3.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

What a fantastic finish to one of the great movie series of all time.  Individually, I would not call any of the movies in the Harry Potter franchise ‘classic’.  In toto?  Maybe.  Warner Brothers, from start to finish, did a brilliant job putting together a cast, crew, directors, and ultimately, the support of author J.K. Rowling in what 1o years ago appeared like an almost impossible task.

The final movie, although somewhat a departure from the book, brought most of the feeling, anguish, heartbreak, and ultimate triumph necessary to conclude the Harry Potter saga.

2.  Hugo

Hugo is a magnificent movie for children and adults.  Martin Scorcese has possibly created one of his greatest works of art…which is saying something.  The artistry is beautiful, and the story is perfect.  This could become a classic in years to come.

1.  War Horse

Steven Spielberg has been hit-or-miss for the better part of several decades now.  When he bombs a film, he really bombs it (see:  Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull).  But when nails a film, it becomes a classic.  War Horse is in the latter category.  Based on the 1982 children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo, and later turned into a play, Spielberg demonstrates movie making at its best:  blending the splendor of visual greatness, the epic scale of war, and the passion and emotions that pull at the heart strings.  A masterpiece, and definitely in the running for Best Picture.



State of the Race, December Version: Newt’s Turn

Conservatives are coming to a reality…we don’t like our Presidential candidates all that much.

That isn’t to say we don’t want to beat Obama.   Few things unify moderates and conservatives more than the fact that Obama is a destructive force in American politics.

But conservatives cannot unify behind a candidate.  The serial leadership has now set its sights on the mercurial Newt Gingrich, who even many right wingers don’t trust that much.  And then you have Erick Erickson, who in a virtual diatribe on Redstate, told us all the ways he hates Mitt Romney, and all the ways that Republicans are going to desert conservatism.

Frankly, conservatives have many reasons to be depressed.

That said, someone is going to win the nomination.  And that person is going to be the standard bearer for the Right for 2012.  So where are we, as we enter the final month of 2011?

1.  Rick Perry is a laughingstock.

Sorry, Perry supporters.  The truth hurts.  When Perry announced his campaign in August, I was really hopeful.  My ideal candidate would be a successful conservative governor from a large state that created jobs. Perry?  Check, check, check.

And yet, Perry somehow found a way to make that good will vanish within a month.

Perry seems like a nice guy.  He seems conservative enough.  But he simply doesn’t act presidential.  He has a swagger that makes him appear like a cartoon version of George W. Bush.  He cannot perform in debates, and has difficulty in simply arguing any of his conservative ideals.

Perry had one good moment during the last few months:  when he announced his flat tax.  But other than than, it has been a series of missteps and buffoonery. His debate performances have significantly improved, but that is too little too late; first impressions matter.  The Perry narrative is now set in stone:  a Texas Governor that doesn’t look all that smart.  That is probably not the truth, but when has truth ever mattered in politics?  Conservative colleagues like Erick Erickson maintain hope that Perry will have one more shot.  I just don’t believe it.   I simply cannot see how Perry changes the tide.

2.  Ron Paul is, well, Ron Paul.

Enough said.

That said, I like a lot of Paul says.  He is truly libertarian.  The problem is, he is also an isolationist for all practical purposes.  His foreign policies stances, most recently regarding the Patriot Act and the war on terror, simply are not realistic.  He will not win the nomination.

3.  Herman Cain’s problem is not the bimbo explosions.

Oh, sure, the media is talking about sexual harassment charges 24/7.  And now rumors of affairs.  But that is not Cain’s biggest problem.  His biggest problem is that he is an outsider with no government experience.  That, in itself, is not a reason to not vote for him.  But Cain has to meet a higher bar of competence in the knowledge necessary to be President than the other candidates with longer public service resumes.  Simply put, he has failed to do that so far.

Cain was brilliant in putting out a simple, tax reform plan that people could hang on to…999.  But he has to have more to sell to the American people…and he has not made that sale yet.  And with his campaign now ‘reassessing’ the situation, the Cain train has reached its final stop.

4.  Gingrich is Back To the Future

Newt may be the smartest man in the race.  Heck, along with Bill Clinton, he is singularly one of the smartest politicians of his generation.  Barack Obama?  Not even in the same stratosphere.

Gingrich has,  however, more political baggage than anyone in his generation as well, and again compares favorably/unfavorably with Bill Clinton.  Forget the personal issues, which are substantial.  It is the political issues and history that will destroy the campaign.  Remember, Gingrich supported an individual mandate as recently as May of this year.  He was largely supportive of Romneycare until very recently.  He joined Hillary Clinton in 2005 to push for solutions in health care.  Videos like the one embedded below are going to become commonplace, and the question is, once it spreads through the public, will Gingrich be able to respond to the attacks?

He joined John Kerry in 2007 and stated he believes in man made global warming.  On immigration, he has not been very supportive of a border fence, is vaguely supportive of the DREAM Act, and at times appears to support amnesty.

This isn’t to say Gingrich couldn’t be a good President.  It just means that the base has largely ignored Gingrich on the issues because he has been so good on the stump and in debates.  That will change as he now vaults to the leaderboard.  Can he maintain that lead?  The next month will be the most critical in the long, storied political story of Newt Gingrich.

5.  Romney can’t avoid himself

Romney is the most disciplined, best trained, most likable candidate in the group.  He is also the most hated.  Romney cannot run from his past, and he has decided to embrace it, for good or ill.  Last week he reiterated support for Romneycare, which made every conservative in America shudder slightly.

My problem with Romney is the same as most:  I have no idea what his core is, what he believes in, and what he ultimately will fight for.  Would he fight, to the bitter end, to end Obamacare?  To reform the tax code?  To fix the entitlement state?  I have no idea.

Additionally, for all his political prowess, Mitt seems to be hamstrung by his own political advisors.  In an interview with Brett Baier on Fox News, Romney appeared prickly and uncomfortable in an environment that was not carefully pre-planned by his campaign.  That does not bode well going forward.

Romney ultimately is the moderate in this race, and with the deep pockets, can withstand losses in Iowa and South Carolina.  What he cannot do is sustain a large loss in Florida, where Gingrich now leads by large margins.  Romney will need to find a way to restart momentum, otherwise risks being washed away by a conservative tsunami.

6.  Bachmann, Santorum, Huntsman, Etc?

None of these candidates are viable for numerous reasons to waste time on here.  We all know they are not viable, unless without something short of an asteroid hitting New Hampshire.


In the end, I fear that we will get another candidate that is ‘the lesser of evils’.  There was no knight in shining armor out there this year to save the party, so we are left with the remnants.

That by no means leaves us hopeless.  Most of these candidates, if they run a smart campaign, can defeat Barack Obama.  Obama is much weaker than the polls make it out to be.  Furthermore, we have seen weak nomination processes create Presidents before.  The 1992 cycle was considered one of the weakest on record, and resulted in Bill Clinton, the most powerful Democrat President in a generation.

I guess the best we can do is let voters vote, let the best candidate come out, and embrace him, warts and all.

So where does that leave us?

This is still a Romney vs. anti-Romney campaign.  Newt Gingrich is the alternative flavor of the month.  To be sure, he has more gravitas than most of his predecessors on the leaderboard.  In debates and speaking engagements, Gingrich is by far the most eloquent defender of conservatism and Reaganism, and shows the largest base of knowledge.  However, Gingrich is still the Gingrich we love and hate.  Will he self-destruct, as many core conservatives believe he will?  Or is this is a new Newt, who can show the personal self control to run a disciplined, streamlined campaign ala Romney?  The next month will be telling.

I believe Gingrich is the last man standing as for as anti-Romney candidates go, for a couple reasons.  First, he is the smartest of the bunch.  Second, his timing is impeccable, rising to the top a month before Iowa.  Third, and maybe most important, all of his competitors seem unwilling or unable to gain any traction.  Gingrich, on the other hand, is riding the wave all the way to Iowa.

This is no longer a marathon, but a sprint to Iowa and New Hampshire.  There are 32 days until Iowa, and 39 days until New Hampshire.  After all the talk, this is, as we thought from the beginning, whittled down to a 2 man race.  If Gingrich can survive that time without a major catastrophe, he is the likely nominee. If he stumbles, Romney is the last man standing.




Illegal Immigration: Newt Is Right

Newt Gingrich is today getting vilified on many conservative blogs for his moderate stance on illegal immigration in last night’s CNN/Heritage Foundation debate.

He stated the following:

“If you’ve come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home, period,” Gingrich said.  “If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.”

Challenged by Michele Bachmann — “I don’t agree that you would make 11 million workers legal, because that, in effect, is amnesty” — Gingrich stuck to his guns.  “I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who have been here a quarter century, who have children and grandchildren, who are members of the community, who may have done something 25 years ago, separate them from their families, and expel them.”

I have, for several years, argued for this exact strategy in dealing with illegal immigration, on this blog and elsewhere.

Let us accept a couple truths, which Gingrich reiterated last night.  One, we have a border problem with illegal immigration.  Two, there is no majority sentiment in this country to return illegal aliens that have lived he for decades, raised their families, and have otherwise lived within the bounds of the law.

Accepting those facts, Gingrich’s stance makes the most sense.  Yes, there is a hint of amnesty; but I think the counter to that argument is that this is not full amnesty.

Why?  This is what I would propose, and I think Gingrich would basically accept:

1.  Secure the border.  

Use a wall, use border troops, use virtual defenses.  Whatever it takes, but it must be secured to avoid a repeat of the Reagan-era failure on immigration reform.

2.  Find a path to legal residence for illegal aliens.  

This is where Gingrich and myself depart from prior amnesty proposals.  All illegal aliens should accept they committed a crime by coming to this country.

By accepting this as a crime, they have two choices. One, allow them to gain some sort of legal status, that allows them to become naturalized residents.  However, by this path, they would be prevented from ever applying for citizenship, as their punishment for coming here illegally.

The second path would ask them to return to their home country, and then apply for a green card like all law abiding persons.  Via this second path, they could then apply for citizenship in due course.

This would therefore NOT be amnesty, but a punishment system by which we legalize these persons, while at the same time punishing them by never allowing them become citizens because of their crime.

Gingrich is basically correct on this proposal.  There is no other logical way forward, and the sooner conservatives accept that, the better.  Deportation is a nonstarter for event the most extreme of conservatives.  Michelle Bachmann attacked Gingrich on immigration, but provided no alternative.  Romney attacked Gingrich, although he basically supported similar plans back in 2007.

Gingrich is now clearly shifting to a general election platform, much like Romney.  This is a smart move on his part.  Conservatives can decry his stance as ‘amnesty’, but such talk is naive and misses the point.  Ultimately, you have to deal with illegal immigrants in some way short of deportation, because deportation will never happen.  Gingrich is simply accepting the reality, and presenting the best plan available considering those facts.



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.

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