| 2011 articles |
Sunday, 26 June 2011
Rick Perry may just be the guy. The country's longest tenured governor, from its second largest state, is generating a lot of buzz in conservative circles as he contemplates entering the wide open Republican presidential primary. There are plenty of reasons that Perry is an attractive option: he is a no-nonsense decision maker with solid conservative credentials. A man who not only speaks about family values, but lives them, Perry's power to persuade voters to see things his way is proven - battle tested in a state known for independent-minded citizens.
But what serious political analysts on both sides of the aisle will acknowledge as perhaps Perry's strongest attribute heading into 2012 is the stark contrast that would be evident in a potential Perry-Obama showdown. While Republican front-runner Mitt Romney capitulates to the left on global warming, refuses to sign a pro-life pledge, and ridiculously defends the RomneyCare failure in Massachusetts, the media is working overtime to tout their choice, former Utah Governor and Obama administration official Jon Huntsman, as the Republicans' best hope. What nonsense.
While Huntsman or Romney might please the same Republican establishment that brought us the mesmerizing campaigns of John McCain and Bob Dole, the best thing for the Republican Party - and the country - is for there to be a sharp distinction between the two parties' nominees. If there was any question about whether Rick Perry would provide a clear alternative to Obama, look only to the left's reaction to Perry's recent speech at the Republican Leadership Conference.
Following his remarks (which though well prepared and delivered, were nothing outside mainstream conservative thought), MSNBC's liberal commentator Mika Brzezinski proclaimed that she, "felt like an alien" watching the speech. While others may recoil at such an outlandish declaration about what was a fairly benign, if fiery, conservative speech, I found myself applauding Mika's refreshing candor about the perspective of the American left.
It's high time Americans know that ideas like the ones Perry addressed - American exceptionalism, the sanctity of life, states' rights, personal freedom - are foreign concepts to the modern left. They can't make sense of them and can't imagine that anyone actually believes that way.
Remember Barack Obama's take on the concept of American exceptionalism was to interpret it as nothing more than an aggressive form of nationalistic pride. "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism," he famously stammered. That's why he prostrates himself before foreign leaders and thinks that becoming more respected in the world means diminishing our power and influence to be on par with everyone else. And it's also why when hearing Rick Perry proclaim that America must return to global "preeminence because our values.are the world's greatest hope," he and Mika feel like aliens.
And to what values does Perry refer? Those enshrined in the Declaration of Independence - the world's foremost statement on human liberty and freedom, where life, liberty and property are protected as inalienable. While the Texas Governor makes an unapologetic appeal to those principles, demanding that, "we need to stop apologizing for celebrating life," Mika and the left look through the dingy windows of Planned Parenthood's abortion mill and scratch their heads.
Americans need to see this contrast in 2012. After experiencing a liberal administration's heavy-handed, central planning philosophy on government, pursuing policies that greatly expand the power and influence of Washington into their daily lives, Americans need to hear a candidate who views such an approach as, "an affront to every freedom-loving American and a threat to every private sector job in this country."
After watching Obama act as a perpetual thorn in the sides of the states, suing them (Arizona), threatening them (South Carolina and Indiana), or crippling them (Louisiana), Americans need to hear from one who believes in allowing the states to be what Jefferson called the "laboratories of democracy," and calls to, "displace the entrenched powers in Washington, [and] restore the rightful balance between the state and federal government."
It's instructive that Mika's alien comment came on the heels of fellow liberal commentator Chris Matthews complaining that conservative Christians who disapproved of disgraced Democrat Anthony Weiner's sexcapades were, "culturally backwards." To the left, it wasn't Weiner's behavior that was backwards. No, that distinction belonged to those who expect honesty, integrity, and morality from their lawmakers. The disparity between the views of the right and left is as obvious as ever. Maybe this is what the Democrats' criminally indicted former Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards meant all those years he spent talking about there being two different Americas.
Put succinctly, I'm with Mika. The ideological distinction has never been so clear in this country. So let's make sure that reality is reflected and highlighted in glaring detail during the 2012 campaign and allow the American people to decide who the aliens are.
This column was first published at The American Thinker.
Sunday, 19 June 2011
The famous quote attributed to Winston Churchill that, "If you're not liberal at 20, you have no heart...if you're not conservative by 30, you have no brain," may need some tweaking given the recent antics of the American left. Having built the credibility of their political movement on the grounds of compassion and empathy, their actions and policy proposals are reflective of just the opposite.
Start with my home state of Indiana, whose Republican legislature and governor enacted a law to prohibit taxpayer dollars from flowing into the hands of any health clinic that performs abortions. Through entirely predictable demagoguery, the bleeding hearts of the left pounced on this action as an irresponsible assault on legitimate health services like cancer screenings and mammograms. Where else will poor families turn for their healthcare, they asked, as they painted the picture of the impoverished dying in the streets due to an unprovoked conservative attack on choice.
Of course, beyond the reckless sensationalism, the fact remains that those tax dollars are still funding responsible family clinics that provide those essential services. They are only being denied to the ones who use the family planning cloak to shroud the evil butchery of abortion that appears at the top of their menu.
Nevertheless, with the stage set, Barack Obama waded into the fray with the trademark thuggery he once used to brow-beat Arizonans over their immigration policy. This time, showing the extent to which he is beholden to the abortion lobby, Obama has threatened to deny Indiana its federal Medicaid dollars if Hoosiers don't capitulate to his demands and restore Planned Parenthood's blood money.
Do you notice the irony? The left accuses the right of lacking compassion by playing politics with the health services of poor people. This while their grand leader threatens to cut off the health funding for Indiana's poor people over politics! Apparently the highly vaunted liberal empathy for the impoverished is only reliable until it can be leveraged and exchanged for more dead children. But hey, everyone's got to have priorities.
For an even more personal view of the left's true compassion, pay attention the next time you fill up your gas tank. You will inevitably encounter the same heartbreaking scene I recently did. Standing at the pump, a disheveled looking man in an old Chevy Cavalier pulled up next to me, looking at the balance ledger of his checkbook as he got out of his car. Shaking his head, he wrote a check, walked in, paid the cashier, returned, filled up and left before I had finished filling my own tank. Out of curiosity, I glanced at his pump and saw he had only been able to pay $5...enough to buy him just over a gallon of gas.
Our leftist leadership can pretend that by telling us we are in an economic recovery, we will all be convinced that it's true. But people aren't going to judge our economy by proclamations and press releases. They will judge it by what they're living. What happened to that man at the pump may be anecdotal, but real-life struggles like his are rippling throughout our economy and having devastating impacts not just on jobs, but on families.
While we sit on top of some of the world's largest fuel supplies, our leftist leadership keeps telling us that there's nothing we can do about the oil and gasoline situation. If you ever wanted to know what the left's compassion really looked like, watch them continue lying about that as struggling Americans scrape up change to put a single gallon of gas in their car.
Remember, it is Barack Obama who implied he has no objections to $4 a gallon gasoline, as well as his energy secretary who has stated we should be paying double that amount. After all, they tell us, such high prices will push us to more fuel efficient vehicles. Here's a newsflash to the president: that man at the gas pump next to me won't be able to afford a ritzy Mercedes-Benz hybrid anytime soon.
Maybe he can just bum a ride from rich liberals like the newly christened "Patriotic Millionaires," a club for wealthy progressives who want to keep their left-wing compassion credentials without having to actually show any. These leftist fat cats just held a conference where they feigned compassion by demanding the government tax them more. Not surprisingly, when asked by CNSNews.com if any of them would be willing to get out their checkbook and make a personal donation to the Treasury Department's contribution website to help pay down the national debt, they bristled. One of the group's spokesman, Dennis Mehiel, scoffed that such an idea was "preposterous on its face."
Of course it is. Because to do so would actually cost them something, whereas going on TV and demanding you be taxed more (when you know you have perfected ways to dodge the IRS) gets you good publicity without actually hurting your bank account.
Given that this is the current state of liberal compassion, perhaps 20 year olds with a heart should start shopping for a new ideology.
This column was first published at The American Thinker.
Sunday, 12 June 2011
It's a classic example of political rhetoric intended to cloud reality. Explaining why the most recent Medicare trustee report shows the system going bankrupt in thirteen years (five years earlier than predicted last year), Barack Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner explained the alarming update was the result of, "technical changes in the economic assumptions underlying the projections." That's the delicate way for a politician to say, "We were counting on our economic policies actually working, but as you all know, they haven't."
And while that provides yet another indictment of Obamanomics for conservatives to present in the courtroom of public opinion, the most concerning part remains the fragility of a healthcare system that is being relied upon by millions of elderly Americans - and is being counted on by millions more who are nearing the Medicare eligibility age. That is why now more than ever it is incumbent upon our leadership to have an honest debate about the future of the system.
No American should naively assume that there is one easy, pragmatic answer to solving the Medicare crisis. Additionally, no American should naively assume that putting the issue off until one such answer emerges is a prudent approach. The biggest danger to our seniors is not Paul Ryan and the Republicans who are proposing changes to save the system. Nor is it Democrats who might do the same.
Right now, the gravest threat Medicare faces is the self-serving politician who champions complacency towards the issue with shameless demagoguery condemning any reform proposals as too big, too dramatic, too risky, and endangering the stability of the system. Take Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has been in re-runs in virtually every television interview she's given on the subject.
Two weeks ago, Schultz was asked by Harry Smith on CBS's Meet the Nation, "But the trustees said...that this thing could be insolvent in the next decade. Doesn't something really dramatic have to happen, and as the Congressman suggested, the Republicans have a plan. Do the Democrats have a plan?" She refused to answer that question, choosing instead to read from her poll-tested cue cards: "Like I said, the Republicans have a plan to end Medicare as we know it."
Yes, they do. Anyone who seriously values and wants to save the Medicare system - or at least who wants to preserve it for those currently relying on it - knows that if we don't come up with a plan to do so, Medicare as we know it will end itself when it goes belly up in the next ten to thirteen years. Wasserman Schultz may pretend otherwise, but if you pay close attention to what even her allies are saying, it's demonstrably true.
Consider New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, whose recent blog post boasted a title, "Yes, Medicare is Sustainable in its Current Form," which surely made Ms. Schultz proud. But look at what Krugman actually wrote: "Medicare American-style is very open-ended, reluctant to say no to paying for medically dubious procedures, and also fails to make use of its pricing power over drugs and other items. So Medicare will have to start saying no; it will have to provide incentives to move away from fee for service, and so on and so forth."
Uh, wait a second. Isn't Krugman suggesting changes to Medicare? How can you credibly say it is "sustainable in its current form" if you then clarify yourself by citing ways it must be changed to remain sustainable? Krugman excuses his revealing double-speak by arguing that, "such changes would not mean a fundamental change in the way Medicare works."
Oh really? Proposing that Medicare stop paying for "dubious medical procedures" may sound simple enough. But the question any serious thinker would pose to Mr. Krugman is what constitutes dubious? And perhaps more importantly, who gets to decide that question?
Ask Jane Sturm. She was the woman whose 99 year old mother received a life-saving pacemaker, something Mr. Obama openly questioned in a White House town hall meeting as potentially dubious. Sorry Mr. Krugman, but empowering boards of bureaucrats to deny surgeries and procedures requested and needed by seniors (ones that they are currently able to access) is the very definition of a "fundamental change" to the system.
Both sides, then, if they are serious about saving Medicare, are proposing to "end Medicare as we know it." While Paul Ryan and the Republicans are offering solutions to give the individual more control over their healthcare, Krugman and the Democrats are suggesting changes to give the government more control.
What Americans need - what American seniors deserve - is for both parties to recognize the system must be changed, and the longer we wait to do it, the more potent and difficult the adjustments will be. If politics is the art of compromise, then it's time to stop the demagoguery, put all proposals on the table, and fight this out at the ballot box.
If one side refuses to do that, it should tell you all you need to know about their motives and the strength of their ideas.
This column was first published at The American Thinker.
Sunday, 05 June 2011
With a little over a year to go until the next national election cycle is complete, it has become apparent that from an economic standpoint, the SS Liberal has officially run out of steam. Hull weighted down with the barnacles of false promises and rudder crippled by the reckless mismanagement of a spendthrift captain from Chicago, she sits there floundering in a sea of unemployment and malaise not experienced since Jimmy Carter was at the helm.
And despite all the rosy window dressing provided by the beaming ship attendants of the mainstream media who pretend to be shocked every time another leak opens up, we passengers are fully aware of our surroundings.
CNBC reports that the private sector job market is still shrinking, with employers announcing over 37,000 more job cuts this month. That's up nearly 2% since April. In addition, Forbes reveals that home prices have dropped to their 2002 levels, falling another 4.2% in the first quarter of 2011. David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices released a chilling statement that, "This month's report is marked by the confirmation of a double-dip in home prices across much of the nation."
Any rational person hoping that we were righting our economic ship knows the words "double-dip" signify the exact opposite. Of course, not all numbers are down.
Government statistics show the number of food stamp recipients is at an all time high - up 39% since Barack Obama took office. And though things are lean in the private sector, it's never been a better time to be employed by the federal government. Beyond just salaries soaring to the point where roughly 77,000 federal employees are making more money than state governors, a new study has found there has been a 73% increase in the amount of federally owned limousines to cart our central planning VIPs through the streets of the peasantry.
Along those streets, it's a different story. Bloomberg reports that as jobless claims jumped another 10,000 last month, "more Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the labor market is struggling to gain momentum."
With economic numbers like these, it's no wonder that liberal commentators are advising Barack Obama - the man who got elected as the anti-war president - to run for re-election on his record as a war commander. Still, some left-wing economists aren't ready to give up the ship.
Take Paul Krugman, the intrepid little socialist and Nobel laureate who writes for the New York Times. Faced with the abject failure of the very excessive government spending he has promoted as the solution to our economic woes, Krugman's allegiance to Keynesian Obamanomics nevertheless remains undaunted. That might be admirable if it wasn't so foolhardy.
His recent column is the best evidence yet that when it comes to stimulating economic recovery, the left is simply out of ideas. Far from innovative, creative or progressive, Krugman actually proposes bringing back one of the greatest failures of FDR's New Deal. He writes, "We could have W.P.A.-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads ? which would also, by raising incomes, make it easier for households to pay down debt."
For those unfamiliar, the Works Progress Administration was a controversial policy of the 1930s to put unemployed people to work doing various construction projects just so the government could give them a paycheck. Yes, sometimes that meant doing constructive things like building roads and highways. But more often, it included boondoggles like hiring one group to go out and dig a ditch, while hiring another to come through after them and fill in the ditch. The object was to put people to work so you could pay them - the job they were doing was not important.
Did the WPA work? Nope. When FDR initiated it, unemployment was around 20%. Three years later, unemployment was around 19%. In the intervening 75 years, most rational people have figured out why it failed. Government jobs are paid from the general tax revenue that is created and produced only by the private sector. Thus, a plan like the WPA did nothing to generate prosperity, but rather merely allocated what was already there. Once the ditch was dug or the road resurfaced, the job disappeared and we were right back to where we started.
Not to mention that such a program cost an enormous amount of money to maintain. As our private sector continues to shrink under the backwards policies of this administration, I'm not sure where Krugman thinks we will find the money to finance more government workers.
Yet this futility is all that remains in the left's idea bag. The only thing that is unclear is whether Americans will recognize it.
As much as we should, the danger comes in the reality that liberals have been rewriting textbooks and ingraining an anti-capitalist, pro-socialist message in the minds of America's youth for decades. The extent to which they have been successful will be determined by whether our nation decides to chain itself to the deck of this Obama piloted Titanic, or do the smart thing and abandon ship.
This column was first published at The American Thinker.