President Obama Needs to Remind Us Why We Are There

“If anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight – our country – these people are lying to themselves. . . . More important, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.”

Those were the words of Lieutenant General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps, who is Secretary Gates’ senior military assistant.  He went on to point out that less than one percent of the population serves in the armed forces currently, and there is a growing concern within the military community regarding their isolation in the America they are defending.  Not only are our men and women facing isolation at home, they are being left on the battlefield with little support by their countrymen stateside.

A recent poll was released by ABC News and Washington Post shows that a paltry 34% of Americans find the war in Afghanistan worth fighting.  Sadly, this poll came out the same day General Patraeus gave his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee asking his audience, Senators and informed Americans alike, to “remember why we are there in the first place.”

These statistics must be detrimental to anyone who has sent a family member or friend overseas; however, these statistics must be even more harmful for those serving overseas themselves.  America was founded with the military, but philosophically, as a commercial republic.  The two founders who shared the greatest vitriol were Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.  Despite their differences, they agreed on founding a republic that was commercial in nature so as to avoid war.  Thomas Jefferson was the friend of the yeoman farmer, stating that “those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God…”  Hamilton hoped this commercial republic would “soften the manners of men, and [to] extinguish those inflammable humors which have so often kindled into wars…”  Until what can be considered fairly recently in the grand scheme of History, America never had a standing Army, opting to draft people when the occasion called for such measures instead.  Nevertheless, we find ourselves in a war at the present moment, but we also find ourselves regimented into thinking that a battlefield is where football is played, or where ideas clash in a boardroom, or where politicians vie for votes in an important election.  Even our professional athletes forget the difference between what they are, and what a true United States Soldier (or Marine) is.

America has faced large battles, and won.  What is the difference this time?

Marc Thiessen has a post over at The Enterprise Blog where he lays the blame at President Obama’s feet when he points out that public support for the war has plummeted since President Obama came into office.

“When Obama took office, a majority still said the war in Afghanistan was worth it. He lost majority support in July 2009, then regained it briefly when he announced the surge in December 2009, and then lost it again with a precipitous decline throughout 2010.”

Mr. Thiessen continues by addressing what he believes to be the crux of the problem, which is the failure of the President to defend his policies in Afghanistan.  Why hasn’t President Obama defended his endeavors overseas with the same zeal he defended his ill-conceived and unpopular health care legislation?  Mr. Thiessen does not go far enough, however, in condemning the commander-in-chief for abdicating his duties as the leader of our armed forces and making sure that the American public that is entirely separated from this war and its ramifications remembers why our men and women are over there in the first place.

Let us get something straight: President Obama never addressed the war in Afghanistan with the attention it deserved, and when he did, it was with a flaccidity that would excite an Urologist.  President Obama marched into the Oval Office with a view towards “slow[ing] things down” with regard to the military.  The military asking a sitting president for the tools necessary to defeat an enemy abroad was seen as a problem to be solved, but not the war itself.  As a matter of fact, most people have already forgotten that the president spoke with General McChrystal just once during the general’s first 70 days as commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, and that was a via video teleconference.  Finally, in October of 2009, President Obama met with then-General McChrystal in Copenhagen while the president was lobbying to have the Olympics held in Chicago.  He met the then-general of coalition forces in Afghanistan for twenty-five minutes in the front of Air Force Once.

Finally, it got to the point where President Obama had to act on the general’s recommendation for extra troops.  As the Guardian reported, “Obama agreed to deploy an extra 30,000 troops but only after months of dithering that many in the military found frustrating.”

To claim the president displayed some sort of ambivalence regarding the war in Afghanistan is an understatement.  The one most powerful weapon at his disposal (or what used to be) was his rhetorical ability, and even then he chooses not to rally the troops around the Afghan cause.  In December of 2009, President Obama gave a lukewarm speech to West Pointers that earned him considerable scorn from the right.  Even during this year’s State of the Union, the president dedicated six sentences to a war costing the United States $100+ billion and hundreds of American lives a year.  Those six sentences gave way to 25 seconds of applause, the same length of time it took the president to deliver those sentences.

How can we expect our fellow countrymen to continue supporting an endeavor that our own president seems to treat as a mere thorn in his political side?  This recent poll can be reversed if President Obama dedicated more of his time keeping Americans in the loop about what we are doing over there, why we are there in the first place, and using some of his famous rhetorical gifts to re-energize our commitment to those who are so committed to our country that they continue to fight even though 60% of Americans are not standing behind them.

As Peter Wehner said, “this is not ‘Obama’s War,’ this is ‘OUR war.'”

-rj

Republicans 47 Democrats 46

…That is what the most recent USA Today/Gallup would read like if politics were a sporting event.  This score does not really provide us with anything substantive, so we need to break down the game-time statistics instead.  For this, I decided to go to The Huffington Post.  Keep your friends close, your enemies non-friends closer (in the spirit of civility and the censoring of Huckleberry Finn).  This is the equivalent of reading the Washington Post to see how the Cowboys played… nevertheless, I am certain that we can gleam some valuable insight by considering HuffPo’s point-of-view.  Here’s how it starts out:

Forty-seven percent of respondents said that they had a favorable view of the GOP, while 43 percent said they had an unfavorable view. Since late in 2005, Gallup has rarely found the party with an unfavorable rating below 50 percent

Now, I am no professional writer.  However, I am a graduate of Montgomery County’s public schools, and remember being taught that if you are going to write numbers stick to writing them out or writing the number (forty-seven or 47), but do not mix.

The article points out that Republicans have a 47% Favorable rating, and a 43% Unfavorable rating.  Not overly impressive, except when it is mentioned that Republicans carried out a November landslide with worse favorable numbers.  The Democrats have a 46% Favorable rating, and 47% Unfavorable one.  This isn’t very good for the party that tends to enjoy high favorable marks because, let’s face it, they come across as the bleeding-heart caring type.  Everyone is more favorable of the parent that says ‘yes’ all of the time, and never punishes, and is the push-over; while the other parent is the one that really molds your disciplined being.  That is what Americans need, they need the disciplinarian.

Despite all of the wonderful information that can be taken from this poll, and all of the analysis that can be done, Huffington Post chooses to live in the past:

As the Gallup poll’s trend data shows, public views of the parties can shift quickly. As recently as May of last year, Gallup found that only 36 percent of Americans had a positive view of the Republican Party while 58 percent had a negative view, for a net rating of -16.

…Really…?  Who’s living in the past now?  By the way, this was how the article was closed-out.  Brava HuffPo!

-rj

Wanted: A Mainstream Media That’s Actually Mainstream

Yesterday, an interesting series of articles came out that say a lot about the national media and the Tea Party movement.

First, allow me to introduce a Washington Post article describing the anti-racism battle the Tea Party movement is fighting in the public arena. I found the article on the Huffington Post political page (since updated). According to the article,

The challenge is made tougher by one of the defining elements of the tea party movement: No one person controls it. There is no national communications strategy. And incidents of racist slogans and derisive depictions of President Obama continue to crop up, providing fuel for critics who say the president’s skin color is a powerful reason behind the movement’s existence.

In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, most Americans see the movement as motivated by distrust of government, opposition to the policies of Obama and the Democratic Party, and broad concern about the economy. But nearly three in 10 see racial prejudice as underlying the tea party.

Supporters and opponents alike say the movement draws its strength from opposition to Obama’s policies, but they split deeply on the race question, according to the poll: About 61 percent of tea party opponents say racism has a lot to do with the movement, a view held by just 7 percent of tea party supporters.

A matter of perception

That indicates that the issue of race and the tea party is largely about differing perceptions, reflected in how people view the well-known illustration of Obama made up like the Joker from the Batman movie “The Dark Knight.” Some see the image, with its exaggerated lips, as an offensive reference to minstrelsy. Obama’s critics, however, say President George W. Bush was also portrayed as the Joker, as well as Dracula.

Now, there are multiple errors in this article, including the fact that neither of these Post sources regarding the poll cite the demographics in the poll- such as how many Democrats were polled, etc. Secondly, the article fails to note that the Joker picture was made by a liberal college student, not a conservative activist or conservative racist. Lastly, the racist slogans referred to could easily be the ones held by the liberal LaRouche supporters…but the Post simply sticks to the unprofessional and politically hackish general statement of “incidents,” without a single source or citation of the alleged incidents.

Next up on the “interesting article” stage is a Politico article describing the Post’s leftward tilt towards liberal bloggers. To be fair, the Post does have the tremendous writings of Charles Krauthammer and George Will, among other conservative columnists, but the article makes a great case that the Post is clearly heading towards a particular demographic- the young, Internet-savvy liberal. Given the initial article I quoted above, I think Politico was quite timely in its publication of the article.

Last, but not least, on stage we have The New York Times, which as of late has been acting strangely neutral/non-liberal in some of its articles. This latest betrayal of “mainstream” media values is a pretty interesting article about how a record number of black Republicans are running for Congress- a full 32. In the article, accusations of racism within the Tea Party are shot down by the candidates:

The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative a news media fiction. “I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos,” said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. “There is no violence or racism there.”

As Ed Morrissey noted (emphasis mine),

There was more violence at May Day rallies this past weekend than there have been in over a year of Tea Party rallies.  Did the New York Times [sic] cover those and assign them to the entire liberal politisphere in the manner they do here with conservatives?  Did they link that violence to the immigration-reform movement in the same way they have with no violence at all at Tea Parties with its attendees?

The same media double standard is true with the supposed racism they keep reporting at Tea Parties.  These rallies back candidates like West, Princella Smith, Vernon Parker, Ryan Frazier, and others.  They support these candidates for the simple reason that these candidates best represent their views on governance, fiscal policy, and national security.  Will they all win?  Probably not, although this year looks better than most, but it shows that conservatives have no barriers to entry except on policy and philosophy — just like any other political movement.  The media spin on Tea Parties and conservatives has gotten very, very threadbare — and increasingly desperate.

Morrissey is absolutely correct. Poll after poll, as well as outright statements, show just how much liberal power players and media members are missing the mainstream-America nature of the Tea Party, and in doing so, are alienating themselves and their influence in providing real news. When you lose the Times, though…maybe it’s time to admit you have a problem.


The Heritage Foundation Keeps Growing

The Heritage Foundation, one of the most influential think tanks in America, had just under 350,000 donors in the fall of 2008. They currently have 633,000. Around the same time, The Foundry had just been launched. Currently, it gets about 500,000 unique views per month. Lastly, its Facebook page has just under 145,000 fans; last year it published 1,200 papers, the seventh-most of any such organization in D.C; and only a few months ago it opened a new “community committee” in San Francisco. In a time of economic and political difficulties in America, the latter especially for conservatives, this growth and influence are of great import and optimism for the future.

Now, according to The Washington Post, Heritage has created a lobbying arm. According to the Heritage press release, Heritage Action For America plans to have ten employees by year’s end, and will be independent of the think tank itself. Its CEO and COO will be Michael Needham and Timothy Chapman, respectively. According to Needham,

the new group will focus exclusively on “policy politics,” not electoral politics. “We will not endorse candidates; we will not contribute to political campaigns or PACs,” he said.
“We are all about policy,” Needham added. “To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: While The Heritage Foundation continues to shine the “light” of effective policy recommendations, Heritage Action will provide the political „heat? to help lawmakers warm to those policies.”

I think this is a great move by Heritage. I have long wondered if this would be a step the organization would take, especially with its outreach into almost every other conceivable area of politics, including but not limited to blogging; event organizing; speeches; books; its traditional “think tank” role; its Job Bank; internships; promotion of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship; visits by many of its scholars to varied areas of the world; testimony on Capitol Hill; and its many issue-focused sister websites.

I wrote a few weeks ago that I was very despondent over the state of this country- that has not changed, nor has my doomsaying about what our debt will do to the many generations of Americans that will come after us. However, to paraphrase Feulner when he spoke to my class of interns in 2008, “There is no such thing as a permanent victory in Washington, but there are no such things as permanent defeats, either.” He also said that Heritage is fighting the longer battle, the one that will exist when the current batch of big government liberals and moderates are long retired. This new organization is just one more weapon in Heritage’s already-full arsenal. Here’s hoping they keep fighting, and winning, the good fight, both on Capitol Hill and across America.

The new organization’s website can be viewed here.

Media Fail

Remember Tiger Woods and his many sordid affairs? The media ate that up. It only took two weeks for our media sources to have “investigated,” found him guilty and hung him out to dry. Meanwhile, it has taken months for the media to “officially” report that former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards had a child out of wedlock, denied it…and did both while a major candidate in the 2008 race. Too, remember that it was the National Enquirer that broke the Edwards story wide open. The NATIONAL ENQUIRER. Not The New York Times, which had this profile about Cindy McCain in 2008, or the Washington Post, which had a front-page story about Governor McDonnell’s thesis from two decades or even Drudge, which only last week had a picture of Senate Majority Reid (D-NV) and a story about his alleged facelift as the leading story.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- our professional media has failed us. However, in the age of the Internet, we have zero excuses. Let’s hold the professional media responsible by using the free market choices we have via the Internet, TV, newspapers, radio and magazines to show them Michael Jackson, facelifts, the Balloon Boy and other non-stories won’t cut it anymore.

(Somewhat) Breaking: Senator Dorgan (D-ND) To Retire

From The Washington Post’s?The Fix: “Democrats acknowledged privately that Dorgan’s decision was a significant blow although they quickly pivoted to note that the party would field a candidate. The only obvious name for Democrats is Rep. Earl Pomeroy who has held the state’s at-large seat since 1992 when Dorgan ascended to the Senate.”

From the National Republican Senatorial Committee: “”North Dakota was always going to be a competitive seat for the Democrats to defend, and Senator Dorgan?s retirement now provides us with another excellent pick-up opportunity for Republicans in 2010. This development is indicative of the difficult environment and slumping approval ratings that Democrats face as a result of their out of control tax-and-spend agenda in Washington, and we fully intend to capitalize on this opportunity by continuing to recruit strong candidates who can win these seats in November.” – Brian Walsh, NRSC Communications Director”?

This should be really interesting. My uncle is the Chief of Staff for Representative Earl Pomeroy (D-ND),?and so I have a more-than-passing interest in the state’s politics.?My friend Shawn, a resident of North Dakota, is one of many who thinks?governor John?Hoeven is?the strongest candidate for Republicans to run this year. Hopefully, he does, and sends the Democrats a strong message in North Dakota that voting for Democratic initiatives like this health care reform effort is a bad thing. (Both senators?from the state- Dorgen and Conrad- and Pomeroy voted for their respective chamber’s bill.)

NPR – No Polls Respected

The Washington D.C. City Council passed a bill overwhelmingly that would allow for same-sex marriage in the District.? What remains to be seen is whether or not the Catholic Church is going to live up to her threat, which included giving up the myriad contributions the church makes?regarding charitable work and social services in the city.? The latest word is that they will likely back down from that threat.? However, I can only expect that this is the beginning of a long battle between zealous egalitarians and traditionalists.?

An interesting little tid-bit was brought to my attention thanks to a friend (who stands on the opposing side of the gauntlet from me in this matter) that was provided by NPR.?? ?Michael Crawford, who is the co-Chairperson of D.C. for Marriage (not to be confused with the voice behind the original Phantom), was on NPR defending his point that a majority of minority groups are against same-sex marriage.? Mr. Crawford paints a rosy picture for same-sex marriage advocates, albeit a false one:

I think it’s important because there is a myth that’s being perpetrated that African-Americans, Latinos and other people of color are opposed to LGBT equality and that’s really not the case. What we’re finding here in D.C. – which is roughly 54 percent African-American that – we are finding a lot of support for marriage for same-sex couples here.

I can understand if Mr. Crawford is getting a lot of support from people within the city supporting same-sex marriage.? He doesn’t do a very good job, however, demonstrating why it is wrong to presume that African-Americans and Latinos would not favor a same-sex marriage bill if brought to a popular vote in the district.? The NPR host then gives a quote from Marion Barry (now there’s some good news…) where he reiterates the same belief that a majority of black voters (he says 70-80%) do not support same-sex marriage, to which Mr. Crawford responds:

Well, I think if Marion Barry is going to throw out numbers like that, he needs to provide his polling data. I am African-American and we have actually talked to hundreds of people in Ward 8, which is Marion Barry’s district and we have found strong support there for marriage equality.

Perhaps Mr. Crawford is right, and Marion Barry needs to provide polling data if he is going to throw numbers out there.? My qualm with Mr. Crawford is that he provides absolutely no data of his own to counter any of the opposing side’s points.? If you read the transcript, you can rest assured that Mr. Crawford supplies a decent amount of anecdotal evidence (200 faith-based leaders in support) to support his deep-seeded hopes, but he does a poor job at addressing the facts as they stand.

  • “Twenty-nine other states have enshrined voter-approved prohibitions blocking same-sex marriage in their state constitution as a way to keep state judges from overturning the bans.” (Stateline.org)
  • A Quinnipiac Poll finds that a majority of blacks support a same-sex marriage ban in New York; more so than the breakdown of?Catholics and Protestants.?
  • The only places that have same-sex marriage are the states (and District) where the sovereign were circumnavigated by the state Courts, or Councils (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont,? New Hampshire and D.C.).?
  • Proposition 8 Passed in California, overturning same-sex marriage that was previously allowed, with the help of black support (70%) and over half of the Latino population according to exit polls.

I’d hate to have to do the heavy-lifting on Marion Barry’s behalf, but I understand that the council-member has more important things to do than be up to date with the latest polls, figures and facts that Mr. Crawford seems to be equally unaware of.?

-rj

Ezra Klein Sounds (Kind Of) Like A Conservative

I’ve said it before: Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein is really good. He explains how the exchanges created under health care reform will increase competition, and I think all three make sense. He explains how regulators will help create competition through laws- I think regulators are important, though I believe the form they are taking under Klein’s analysis increases the scope of government too much- as well as how basic economics will help create competition. Too, the tax on large plans will help bring the costs of plans down as well as the vast overutilization of resources prevalent in this country.

A couple areas of contention with Klein I must point out:

1. He says there isn’t enough competition within insurance companies, and he’s right. However, he misses the fact that this is because of an anti-trust exemption by the federal government to insurance companies as well as the lack of interstate insurance competition in our current system. Changing those two rules would do a lot to help competition, and wouldn’t require expanding the scope of government, as the exchanges do.

2. Regulators are needed in health care insurance- however, let’s scale it back a bit. Much as there is a need for food and pollution standards on a national level, let’s create a few basic regulations on the federal level and let the states handle the rest. (No, I am not a health care wonk, so I do not have any suggestions as to the specific federal regulations.) No need to have them stepping in as heavily as Klein indicates they would if they felt they were “necessary” (quotes added) to keep things “fair” (quotes added).

All in all, Klein does his typically excellent analysis, though of course from his liberal perspective. He is regularly linked to Real Clear Politics, so I recommend checking him out when he’s linked there, as he was today.

Democrats & Liberals Standing On Principles

The left is revolting over health care reform. Almost all Americans agree the country does need health care reform, but not the kind the current crop of Democratic Senators and Representatives want. The left and far left- as well as some of the middle- were leaning towards passage of the health care reform package going through the Senate. However, since Senator Lieberman (I-CT) broke the Medicare buy-in into pieces the other day, Keith Olbermann, Markos Moulitsas– the founder of Daily Kos- have come out against the bill, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has as well and former Vermont governor Howard Dean is against it. Too, an opinion piece featured on Huffington Post calls Dean “a genuine hero” for the way he is opposing the current bill, and the SEIU is calling out the President.

Part of me feels badly for these guys and gals. They worked really hard to put President Obama and his Democratic majority into power and are being rejected on what has been their biggest issue all along. Despite being what many consider a far-right conservative, I greatly respect their stand on their principles, and hope they will continue to work to create real reform, as Dean referenced here in his Washington Post column today: “Any measure that expands private insurers’ monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.”

Except for forcing companies to cut unnecessary administrative expenses, I like what Dean for health care reform results. Hopefully he, Kos and the rest of the left will join The Heritage Foundation, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and other conservative organizations and individuals in bringing choice, competition and lower costs to American health care.

Daily Kos Changes Its Story

After years of attacking President Bush for his “unilateral” invasion of Iraq, are liberals changing their story? Daily Kos, a defender of extreme liberalism and one of the most popular sites on the Internet, might be with this front page comment on their daily pundit round-up as part of the commentary on a Washington Post article on Iraq/Afghanistan military material: “The military and US voters may be surprised to learn that Obama is fighting this war single-handedly. The sad part is that teabaggers will believe it.”

Mmmmm…wasn’t it just a few years ago that Bush was invading Iraq without international support, despite evidence to the contrary? Oh, wait, we have other countries with us in Iraq? Or are they talking about the War on Terror? Or are they sliding over to the war in Afghanistan?

I just don’t understand the flexible logic these people use. Of course, I’m just a knucke-dragging conservative.

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