When it comes down to it, there are really only five first-tier issues facing America:
1. We need jobs, and fast. The policies enacted by Presidents Bush and Obama have failed to stimulate the economy.
2. We need to eliminate the deficit in the next 2.5 years.
3. We have too many abortions committed every year.
4. We have two conflicts overseas being run ineffectively and inefficiently.
5. Corruption and transparency in government are at unacceptably high and low, respectively, levels. Additionally, Big Government and Big Business collusion is at a level that is entirely unethical.
President Obama should, but won’t, admit that the State of our Union is precarious, and should do the following:
1. He will push for a flat tax or a national sales tax, as well as the concurrent elimination of all other federal taxes in America on our citiWzens.
2. He will push to eliminate or lower the minimum wage.
3. The Federal Reserve will be audited annually, and will have less power.
4. He will follow through on his recent op-ed to eliminate some regulations.
5. He will repeal the Affordable Care Act, and push to institute tort reform and Dartmouth Atlas-style payment reform. He will also increase the size of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) so it can begin to cut down on the $100 billion, give or take, of fraud in Medicare and Medicaid.
6. He will convince his fellow Democrats to make the individual health insurance market less government-influenced.
7. He will try to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 in the next two decades, and wall off Congress’ ability to take from the Social Security Administration (SSA) trust fund. Means-testing of Social Security will also take place.
8. He will eliminate or cut down the size of the Departments of Education and Agriculture, and eliminate all $90+ billion in private-sector subsidies to various energy, agriculture and other industries.
9. While the President should ban abortions, the fact is that he supports them. Given this reality, he should support H.R. 3, which bans all federal funding of abortions. He should also work to enact more welfare reforms and proper sexual education so that young people don’t think of abortion as a) necessary, and b) birth control.
10. He should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of this year, or at the latest by the end of 2012. We’ve spent more lives and dollars in those nations than ever expected, and there is no end in sight. Sending more troops to protect one’s political rear end does not count as a “strategy.”
11. He should push for term limits, and complete transparency for all Members of Congress. As an example: All donors to campaigns and Members will be recorded and posted on A Member’s wall and official website. The amount donated will be posted as well, and the issue(s) this person related their funding to. This will be done within 24 hours of the donations.)
12. Cap-and-trade should be off the table, and the lightbulb ban should be ditched.
13. Members should stop receiving pay the day they leave Congress. The idea of a lifetime pension is ridiculous for a public servant.
14. There should never be another TARP-style bailout ever again.
Obviously, I am a rather conservative individual, and President Obama is not. However, I think many of the above suggestions are not extreme, and in fact are things that could be supported on a bipartisan basis. Unfortunately, the event is more about political partisanship than actual results, which is symptomatic of why our nation is headed into deep, deep trouble in the next few years.
Update: Silly me- I forgot to mention in the “jobs” portion of this post that he should allow more opportunities for nuclear power, and in the budget section that he should push for reform of our defense contracting policies.
Financially, The United States of America is heading the way of Greece, Britain and France. Rebellion and fiscal implosion are possible (likely?), and a dedicated third party is almost definite, if we don’t balance the budget by 2013. Unfortunately, few Members of Congress are willing to take the political risks necessary to balance the budget at all, never mind by 2013.
Fortunately, at least some Republicans are willing to take a stab at eventual balance of the budget. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has his Roadmap, but I do not consider it all that serious since it adds debt for over 50 years before balancing the budget. We can’t afford that. What we can perhaps afford is the Ryan-Rivlin proposal which, as Veronique de Rugy shows here, significantly diminishes the cost of health care over the next 40 years and saves hundreds of billions annually while doing so.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to worry about the long-term debt if we can’t get past the short-term. This is where the decent, though not nearly expansive enough, Spending Reduction Act kicks in. Proposed this week in The Washington Examiner by Senator Jim Demint (R-SC), the House’s Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and the RSC’s Budget and Spending Taskforce leader Scott Garrett (R-NJ), it aims to cut $2.5 trillion in discretionary spending over the next decade.
However, no plan to balance the budget is complete without looking at national defense and budgetary fraud, and this is where Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) enters the field of play. First with his various attempts to combat $100 billion in Medicare and Medicaid fraud (see one example from the last Congress here), and secondly with his detailed memorandum last year, Coburn is a one-man wrecking machine in the Senate.
If even half of the potential savings in these efforts are realized, the federal budget would drop by over $200 billion right away. Add in the medium-term and long-term impacts of defense and health reforms and we might actually have a balanced budget before Indiana governor Mitch Daniels hits his second term. (Of course, with Chris Christie as his vice president, maybe it will happen even faster. One can only hope.)
At times the only thing that surprises me is the incoherent gullibility of many in the conservative and moderate movement. Either that or some liberals that were polled have found some renewed faith in the promised one.
Consider though a couple of stats from the latest poll outside of the 53% approval rating:
- Only 45% approve of his handling of the economy. Some states hit 18% unemployment this week.
- 56% believe the country is on the wrong track.
- 71% believe that we will have to eventually give up on Afghanistan.
And here are two that are off the charts bizarre:
- 40% polled believe Obama is a moderate.
- 11% polled believe Obama is a conservative.
Seriously, who are these people being polled and what cave do they live in that still have telephone service in which to be selected for polling? Bare in mind that 3 years ago 55% considered Obama a liberal and at current after selling out Europe’s missile defense to Russia, spending more money in 2 years than Bush did in 6, pushing through a health care bill, backing FCC regulatory control over the Internet, and attempting to push through a massive global warming based energy policy, only 45% consider him liberal. Explain that one…
So why does Obama suddenly come of as a moderate and receive a bump in approval rating? My personal guess is that he received a slight resurgence in faith from liberals by way of the missile treaty and allowing gays in the military to be more forthright in their *cough* preferences. Additionally, he’s probably re-captured some moderates and confused conservatives via his opinion editorial in the Wall Street Journal that came across as pro-business to some. And you’re welcome to disagree with me, but personally I felt that the Tucson memorial speech was simply another ra-ra campaign speech, which would certainly be seen as favorable by some.
In the end, Obama is a brilliant man, and he puts intelligent people around him. Everything he is doing to appear to be having a change of heart and open arms toward conservatives and the Republican Party is fake. And furthermore, it is strategically designed to appear that way. The reasoning is simple:
- It makes him look generally more favorable and increases his poll percentages (which obviously is the reason this is being written).
- If he makes nice then it increases the chance of conservative members of Congress letting down their guard and voting in favor of Obama goals oriented legislation in the future which is a win for his administration.
- He wins (for the most part) in any case. If Reps ignore his gestures of working together and finding middle ground, then he bashes the GOP in the next presidential election for working against him. If Reps work with him, then he uses that to his advantage during the next election and says that the GOP was not really doing anything different.
This is simply par for the course with Obama. Don’t let the rug get pulled out from under you.
Thou Shalt Not Discuss Politics and Religion… Culture, Discussion, Love, and Millionaire Matchmaker?
I was fortunate enough to have a brief moment of pause this holiday season that allowed me to try and catch up on some television shows I don’t regularly watch. That is my excuse for watching Millionaire Matchmaker the other day, and I’m sticking to it. The premise of the show is that some obnoxious woman has crowned herself queen of coupling what were once single millionaires, and she has some sort of database from which she draws her ingredients (other singles whom, I assume, spend the rest of their days like zombies wandering around aimlessly waiting for her call) and throws them into her witch’s brew of love. Of course, the Millionaire Matchmaker has to place the prized single man or woman in all sorts of situations with other singles in order to make sure the two ingredients have a chance of merging into some erotic souffle.
What I heard during one episode, and I am not sure whether these rules are laid out during every episode, was the matchmaker telling the singles that the rules included “no talking about religion or politics.” Imagine meeting several people and going on dates with them to establish a relationship that you hope will take you longer than the evening and awkward morning thereafter, and not being able to talk about the most important topics to our heart.
This is no different than the unspoken rules of a party or a bar scene: religion and politics are strictly forbidden (of course, in some circumstances you can throw another important topic in there: sports). Anything that might excite the passions of the party-goers or cause someone to take a stand on an issue and defend that stance has to be expelled. Yes, we cannot have people fighting over the concept of God, or what is right, good or just; but you are welcome to fight over beer pong, which person can drink more, why the Washington Redskins are vastly inferior to the Dallas Cowboys, or because you have the wrong Greek letters on your t-shirt.
In a culture open to looking up to 17 year-old pop stars poll dancing on ice cream carts, or a culture that has a film director being applauded because he was fighting an NC-17 rating because he felt “the messy sex seen was tastefully done,” we simply cannot offend our peers’ sensibilities by discussing such nugatory issues like politics and religion.
It is rather unfair for me to comment on what I see as a cultural trend, based on my watching a television show on Bravo. However, these same rules exist in countless situations in an effort to define what we should consider to be “polite company.” Furthermore, large institutions that have been around for hundreds of year now have rules that advocate the same censorship of conversation. Imagine a large and prestigious guild of men that once prided themselves in their meetings that discussed politics and religion to such a degree that they helped shape political and religious thought. Now that same organization has those same activities condemned during their official meetings.
There is a funny shirt out there that defines a liberal as “someone who is so open-minded, their brains have fallen out.” While that shirt is looking to define a contemporary liberal on the political spectrum, I think it speaks loudly about our liberal culture (classically or progressive). Have we become so open minded that we cannot even discuss those things dear to our heart and worth defending? What does that say about our culture, or country, our schools, or even ourselves? One need not look too far and find an example of our brains falling out: one in four students cannot pass the military entrance exam, and we find ourselves in the middle of the pack of industrialized nations with regard to standardized testing scores.
In the end, the moral of the story seems to be this, gentlemen: if you are planning on having conversations with women at a bar, a restaurant, or any good old fashioned dates, do not venture into the deep end of the pool. It is preferable to stay in the shallow end and establish your relationship on tid-bits of popular culture instead so that no one might drown and you can guarantee a successful “relationship.” Allan Bloom called the term “relationship” a “pallid, pseudoscientific word the very timidity of which makes substantial attachments impossible.” Our social compacts, our “relationships” are based on Sartre’s idea that “hell is- other people.” Now, however, hell is deep conversation with other people.
Despite the leitmotif of despair in my article, there is, and I hate to use the term, Hope. Some people are perfectly content with the idea of holding shallow conversations with a significant other, and it seems to work out well on Millionaire Matchmaker (actually I jest, I’d love to know exactly how many of those relationships pan out). I wouldn’t be so timid as to avoid such conversations with people at a bar; if they do not find your company agreeable, they will leave or change the topic. But you can become closer with a group of people after one evening of fruitful conversation that stems from those thoughts that truly dwell in your heart than countless Thirsty Thursdays talking about nothing (how Seinfeldian). What’s better, if you find someone with whom you can talk to about important topics night after night, then you can have your Beatrice to lift you from Sartre’s hell after all!
Nothing boils my blood faster than a conversation on the “separation of church and state”. The temperature rating will quickly escalate to levels comparable to the surface of the sun when I am additionally “informed” that the phrase is in the Constitution.
Michael Prell has a great article today on dumb people who get pissed off at anything to do with Christmas because it has the word Christ in it. Which if anyone recalls is the reason the holiday began in the first place. Best Buy and Amazon did not establish the event, though we have had Santa and given gifts for a very long time. But the point really is that the anti-Christmas sentiment is quite perplexing. Everyone knows Easter is about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. People know that Thanksgiving was established to give thanks to Jehovah. But Target isn’t banning its employees from saying, “Happy Easter”.
Anyway, Prell talks about this guy who failed at bombing the “Holiday Tree” in Portland. And he points out the irony in that this Muslim terrorist tries to go blow up a Christian symbol that was already neutered by the city government and wasn’t even called a Christmas tree anymore. So basically this guy just wanted to murder people. Why? Because Islam is a peace loving religion…
(By the way, Prell mentions that after this guy tried to murder people in Portland via a weapon of mass destruction the Portland Mayor increased security around local mosques…not Christian churches…the local mosques. He wanted to make sure there was no backlash on the local Muslim community that is “peace loving”. You can’t make this stuff up.)
The kid was Somalian, and their Prime Minister assures us that Somalia is a peace loving country with peace loving people. He apparently forgot about that little incident with Mohamed Farrah Aidid. They made a movie about it. It was awesome!
One thing that I think is very important that Prell points out is the double standard that Christianity is treated with. It’s really treated like a plague by most of our government. Like they don’t want the stench of it anywhere near them or someone will complain. Only in America does the majority rule until a fraction of the population gets their feelings hurt.
What exactly is so threatening about Christians, at Christmastime, celebrating a national holiday which was proclaimed by Congress back in 1870? This is the part where the Anti-Christmas Brigade will jump up and recite from its holiest of holy scriptures: Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, in which he wrote of “a wall of separation between Church & State.”
The funny thing about that wall is: it appears to only be impervious to Christians.
Earlier this year, President Obama smashed through that wall when he, too, invoked the name of Thomas Jefferson — not to oppose, but to defend the expression of religion in the biggest town square in America: New York City and the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” He said “Thomas Jefferson wrote that ‘all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion’” and he upheld “the principle that people of all faiths…will not be treated differently by their government.”
But people of different faiths are treated differently by their government.
Just a few miles down I-95 from the Ground Zero Mosque, the government of Philadelphia banned (and then unbanned) “Christmas Village.” In Portland, the “Christmas Tree Bomber” had to settle for trying to bomb a “holiday tree,” because the government of Portland already got to the infidels before him and changed “Christmas tree” to “holiday tree.” And, lest you think that this targeting of Christianity is limited to Christmastime, recall the case of 12 Christian students in Washington State who were suspended for praying at school. By contrast, USA Today reports that “some public schools and universities are granting Muslim requests for prayer times, prayer rooms and ritual foot baths, prompting a debate on whether Islam is being given preferential treatment over other religions.”
America is blessed with a history graced by phenomenal political orators. One of America’s most prized political speeches occurred this day, one hundred and forty seven years ago (seven score and seven years ago): the Gettysburg Address. The number of words used barely reaches three hundred, a feat that most of us at thelobbyist cannot even endure. The length of time was said to be around two minutes, and President Lincoln was not even the featured speaker.
One of my idols, Dr. Walter Berns, remarked in his book Making Patriots that President Lincoln was unique in American history; he helped the nation realize that the Constitution could not be properly understood without the Declaration as her foundation. Lincoln died for this belief, earning him the somber title of “statesman, poet, and . . . the martyred Christ of democracy’s passion play.”
Not everyone shares these sentiments, and I eagerly await fellow lobbyist Nick’s rebuttal. Thomas J. DiLorenzo and the other paleo-cons have rather unflattering things to say about Dr. Berns and Lincoln admirers, going so far as to make claims that Dr. Berns and other scholars of his ilk are secret fascists. I can find such slandering on the signs of Lyndon LaRouche crack-pots as I visit the MVA… but I digress.
President Lincoln penned and then spoke words that have stood the test of time, and even this day the spirit of those words transcends modern politics. That is what made his rhetoric so powerful: he spoke in terms of the high. This does not mean that he was apolitical, and he did not seek a depoliticizing of history like our current President. Au contraire, he met his adversaries head on and threw the gauntlet at the feet of slavery and demanded that America be unified according to her principles and the promises she made to all men under the omnipresent eye of Providence.
I used to give Capital tours in DC, and I used to love to talk about how it was during President Lincoln’s tenure as Commander in Chief that saw the completion of the Capital dome we see today. Critics would reprimand him for spending the money and using the iron necessary to construct the behemoth cave, but Lincoln said that he wanted those across the river in Confederate Virginia to see that the nation would be unified again.
Please use this opportunity to read through one of America’s most prized oratorical relics, and visit American Rhetoric the website:
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Yesterday in a post by Melissa Clouthier, whom many of you know as @MelissaTweets on Twitter, she discussed the “needless division between social cons and fiscal cons”. Clouthier believes that the 60 new congressmen and six new senators that make up the new conservative entrants into Congress are already finding areas within the Republican agenda to disagree with rather than coming together to fight against liberals and progressives. Clouthier points to an article in Politico in which the GOProud and some tea party leaders have called for Republicans to focus only on fiscal issues and leave the social issues at home for another day
Clouthier proposes the question, “Does this mean that the majority of Republicans or even Independents no longer care about social issues like abortion and gay marriage?” She says no. But she goes on to list several reasons why many do not want social issues at the forefront of any discussion in Congress at the moment.
She lists the following, and I respond to each:
1) “If the country goes belly up, the social issues become moot.”
This just doesn’t make any sense. I’m not quite sure what world an individual lives where they believe that social issues are no longer important just because there are economic hardships. We can look back to many times in our countries history in which social issues were still fundamentally important even in times of strife or struggle. Consider the foundations of our country. When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence the focus of this declaration was to establish liberty and freedom from tyranny from the British Empire. The states at this point in time existed under the harsh thumb of taxation and the watchful eye of British troops. The main point of the Declaration of Independence and what the representatives from each state as a whole were uniting together for was to establish independence from this foreign power. And yet one of the main struggles in writing the document for Jefferson was the social issue of slavery.
2) “Social issues serve to divide in a time when the American populace needs to be united against an overreaching government.”
This is true…well the back bit. The current administration of the United States along with the actions of Congress are overreaching. The government is spending more money than they take in and they are taking on responsibilities they were never intended to take on and spending tax money on programs that they were never empowered to create.
We know that the government is acting in a far-reaching manner because the creator of the Constitution, James Madison, stated, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents”.
However at the same time the Obama administration has pushed back against social issues as well. The administration has financially supported abortion in foreign countries, has encouraged the gay agenda, has fought against traditional moral values, and spit in the face of the fact that our country was very much founded as a Christian nation. Part of the very definition of conservative-libertarianism (Which Clouthier claims as her ideology, as do I.) is that the individual who holds that ideology is an individual who finds that there is tension between liberty and morality. The very nature of the conservativism within conservative-libertarianism is to maintain a strong belief in traditional moral and family values.
I hold that an individual who is willing to throw away part of their ideology to fight for another part of their ideology never held true to the first part to begin with. You cannot simply put on speckled glasses and focus on one sector in which the Obama administration and current Congress have been detrimental. The administration and out-going Congress have rendered havoc in both fiscal and social arenas. Why in the world would we as conservatives allow our fundamental principles and beliefs to be trampled on for the sake of money. Because in the end, that is exactly what we are doing. I will not apologize for the statement and belief that moral social values are the bedrock of society. I have no desire to be fiscally rich and morally bankrupt.
3) “Limiting the government necessarily also means stopping the funding to egregious socially repugnant issues.”
Clouthier’s third point is abstract. She isn’t wrong but she isn’t right either. You can limit the funding of “egregious socially repugnant issues” (By the way I love your phrasing of that Melissa!) and it will deal with many social issues via limiting or stopping the funding that backs certain social programs. However not all social issues are social programs just like not all social programs have anything to do with social issues. So limiting or stopping funding for certain programs is not the end-all be-all solution for social issues.
Her example of Gov. Christie’s defunding abortion clinics in New Jersey as solely a fiscal policy solution just doesn’t work either. You can paint a white horse black but that still doesn’t make it a black horse. Christie is dealing with social issues. Just because he dealt with it via fiscal means through rescinding funding does not mean that he was not dealing with a social issue.
Now don’t get me wrong, Melissa Clouthier is a fine conservative-libertarian. But I think that she missed the boat on this one. I did not send my representatives to Washington to have my ideology represented in part. I want my representatives to be debating and discussing the issues, all the issues. I want them debating social issues. There is nothing wrong with debate and discourse. Additionally, there is nothing even remotely insinuating that debate and discourse over social issues will prevent a conservative representative or senator from carrying out their due diligence when it comes to fiscal issues. There is no evidence, especially considering that none of these rookies have even taken a step into the halls of Congress, that they will not be able to deal with social issues and deal with fiscal issues at the same time.
Finally, someone please explain to me when we would get back to social issues if we put them on hold? Who decides when the economy is back on track? How good would it have to be? And who would decide what is good? Who is the almighty and ubiquitous voice we trust to say, “Okay everyone, we have now won the fiscal battle in Washington, it’s now okay to start discussing and defending social issues”. The idea is ridiculous. Getting fiscal issues “right” in D.C. could be a 20 year battle, conservative majority or not. And who decides what “right” is? Let’s also bare in mind that conservatives don’t totally agree on how to get fiscal problems solved either.
Fiscal issues are “how issues” and how issues will always exist and those problems will always need to be solved. Social issues are “why issues” and why issues will always be questioned and debated. You cannot put social issues on hold in the legislature anymore than it would be possible to decide that our country would put fiscal issues on hold and reserve that time to discuss social issues.
Today is a great day for Conservatives. There is a weariness in our souls that has somewhat dissipated. But something has been troubling me for some time now, and I think that it is important that we all take a minute to find some perspective.
I’ve repeatedly heard from television talking heads, my radio, and politicians that now the work will begin to reduce spending, provide tax breaks, repeal Obamacare, push nuclear energy, so on and so forth. But folks, that’s just not going to happen. I’d be willing to bet that none of that happens.
This election was not about actively reversing trends. We just don’t have the power to do that. Our side will not be able to push an agenda, and even if our side could do that, the likelihood of President Obama signing anything Conservatives sent to him is slim to none. In military strategy you have the “rollback” and you have “containment”. The rollback is the complete annihilation of the enemy. And containment of course is a strategic blockade.
What this election was truly about was creating a two year containment or a blockade. We all saw very clearly how much damage could be done in two years with a Progressive president and a Congress full of his sheep. The results of this election simply keep President Obama in check, when he was clearly not in check the last two years. 2012 should be Conservatives goal for really seeing a reversal of trends.
Perspective is an important thing, and it will be increasingly important as we edge closer to 2012. Why? Mainly because Conservatives have made a stand, the Tea Party has made a stand, and that passion, involvement and trend needs to continue into the 2012 presidential election. If we lose perspective though, and talking heads and politicians begin waxing poetic about how they are about to roll all of Obama’s policies back over the next two years, then the reality is that Conservatives could be in the same pot of boiling water in two years time that Liberals and Progressives are currently sitting in.
Now is not the time for politicians to be making promises that Congressional Conservatives do not have the power to act on, and talking heads and radio show hosts should be reminding viewers and listeners of this fact. We would simply be setting ourselves up for failure. Under-promising and over-delivering should be the slogan of every Conservative in office right now. For the last two years we have been playing a football game without a defense or an offense. We just got our defense in play to keep Obama from out right scoring. But the reality is that we won’t have an opportunity to get an offense into the game until 2012. If we all keep that in mind over the next short 24 months, and keep our passions and involvement high, then we can take back the Senate and potentially the presidency and start the Republican Rollback of the Progressive movement.
Thanks to Allie Winegar Duzett for the video.
Thanks to Allie Winegar Duzett for the video.