The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Some comments about the Catholic Church

When I started this blog, I expected that there would be some posts about religion and others about politics, but the vast majority of them have been political. This post, actually, belongs to both categories, because I'm discussing a political stand that has been taken by a religious organization: namely, the Catholic Church.

Let me first say that one of my friends, about whom I have more to say later on, is a convinced Catholic; in addition, there is another person, one of the few who reads and comments on this blog, whom I consider a friend, though I've never met him in person (our contacts, over many years, have been via online chatting and e-mail), and who is not just a Catholic, but a priest. I hope that neither will take this post personally.

The Hispanic community in the Washington, D. C. area has available to it a number of (I believe all weekly) newspapers, which unlike many of the English language papers, are all free. (We do have some free papers, but the two biggest certainly are not.) One of those papers is El Pregonero, an organ of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. Now these days, a lot of the people who are supporting Question 4 (the Maryland version of the “DREAM Act”) are also supporting Question 6 (the same-sex marriage proposal). I do not see the connection — what illegal aliens' right to reduced tuition has to do with gay couples' right to sanction legally their living together as a married couple is totally inexplicable to me — and my plan is to vote AGAINST Question 4 and FOR Question 6, and recommend this choice to others. But I noticed that this week's issue of El Pregonero has page 1 devoted to its recommendations on these same two questions — the precise opposite of my own position, as just described.

Now, it is not terribly surprising that El Pregonero is for Question 4. Most illegal aliens who would benefit by the proposal are Hispanics — the demographic to which the paper's readership belongs. However much I believe that illegals do not deserve a privilege that, say, a citizen of Delaware or the District of Columbia who wants to go to a state university college in Maryland does not have, I understand that the illegals — and those who are dependent on them for their patronage — would dearly love such an action by the state. So El Pregonero, and probably every other Spanish-language paper whose circulation includes a significant number of Marylanders — is not surprising in its favoring Question 4.

But to give equal prominence to its opposition to Question 6 is another issue. The Catholic Church is not really affected by Question 6. Just as its priests even now are not forced to marry couples that cannot be married in the Catholic Church's law (such as when one of the partners is a divorced person), no Catholic priest would be forced to officiate at a gay wedding.

And interestingly, many Catholics are gay — including a substantial number of priests. The friend I mentioned earlier — not the priest, but the one regarding whom I said “about whom I have more to say,” is gay. He was not born Catholic, but became a Catholic because one of his first lovers was a priest. In fact, because of the celibacy requirement of the Catholic Church, I would perhaps suspect that the proportion of gay males among the Catholic priesthood is greater than in the male population as a whole. (Perhaps this is the key — the Catholic Church believes that allowing gay males to marry will dry up the supply of potential priests!) Given that no gay couple will be married in the Catholic Church whether or not Question 6 succeeds, the fervency of El Pregonero's (and, I assume, the Archdiocese's) opposition to Question 6 is not, to me, comprehensible. But then, it is a rare occasion that the Catholic Church and I agree on anything.

Monday, September 24, 2012

McCain, Romney, and Obama as candidates

I see a lot of postings on the Net which describe John McCain as a bad candidate in the 2008 election. I don't think he was. If you look at the Real Clear Politics polling data, four years ago, John McCain started off well behind, but in early September pulled ahead of Barack Obama. Then the economy tanked. Nobody could have coped with that. John McCain was not an “economic expert” candidate; he was running his campaign on foreign policy and national defense issues, and the ground shifted. On top of that, McCain was of the same party as the incumbent President, George W. Bush, and bad economic performance hurt him only because voters blamed Bush, and consequently, the Republicans, for the economic problems. McCain, who led by one percentage point, 46.7 to 45.7%, on September 7 and opened up a lead as big as 3 points on one day shortly thereafter, was back down to a tie on the 17th.

No question that Barack Obama is good at campaigning. He knew how to game the rules to beat a clearly front-running Hillary Clinton for the 2008 nomination, but probably won the general election only because of the timing of the economic news. I am certain that if the economy's collapse had taken place two months later, John McCain would be sitting in the White House today, with perhaps Senator Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee challenging his re-election campaign.

In some ways, Mitt Romney is the polar opposite of Barack Obama. Obama is a great campaigner, but has proven himself an incompetent executive. The worst President since Jimmy Carter, Obama has managed to gain support from, if anything, more voters than Mitt Romney simply because of his campaigning skills. While, by contrast, Mitt Romney is not as skilled at campaigning as at running things: a business, like Bain Capital, a nonprofit, like the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, and a State, as Governor of Massachusetts. He's a kind and generous man (how many people would, if they had Romney's wealth, give $4 million to charity in one year? or close down a business to track down an employee's missing daughter?). Yet he has apparently not gotten this across to the public, which thinks Obama — the nastiest kind of Chicago machine politician — is “more likeable” than Mitt Romney. Somehow, though by all reasonable measures, Mitt Romney ought to be ahead in 49 states, Obama leads — although by a small amount — in most polls. This may be becuse he's an honest man, who says what he thinks, unlike most politicians, so he manages to offend some people. And yet, I'm sure that unlike Obama, if Romney succeeds in getting elected, he will do a much better job of actually governing than he has done in running for the office.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mitt Romney's taxes

So Mitt Romney's tax return was just made public. And he paid a bit over 14% of his income in Federal tax. This is probably a smaller percentage than Warren Buffett's secretary. But one more thing came out: about 30% of his income was paid out to various charities.

Since money paid to charities goes to some of the same things that Government might otherwise need to support, and certainly is not available to Gov. Romney to help himself personally, it is just as if he'd paid nearly half his income in taxes. Only socialists like President Obama believe that Government is the only way we help each other. As John Podhoretz writes in his column,

Mitt Romney is an extraordinarily, remarkably, astonishingly generous man. A good man. Maybe even a great man.

I agree with Podhoretz's comment.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Facts on the Libya attack

The Boston Herald, unlike the other paper in that city (the Globe, owned by the New York Times) has some interesting columns, and one, by Michael Graham, dated Friday, September 21, 2012 named “How the truth hurts: Hence, White House avoids it,” has a great take on the recent attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It says,

In the era of battling fact-checkers, I’ve developed a new standard for testing the truth of claims being made by politicians:

Would I believe what they’re saying if I heard it coming from the mouth of my teenage son?

It works like this:

Four Americans, including local hero Glen Doherty, are killed in an attack on our consulate in Libya. The White House immediately insists that their deaths have — and I’m quoting White House spokesman Jay Carney — “nothing to do with U.S. policy.” It’s all just a reaction to an offensive, anti-Muhammad YouTube video.

So I look Carney in the eye and I think to myself: “Let me see if I’ve got this straight: A group of men armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades just happens to gather outside our consulate for a “spontaneous” protest, they just happen to organize a successful two-wave attack on the compound and, by sheer coincidence, someone inside lets them know where Ambassador Christopher Stevens is hiding. Oh, and all this happened on the anniversary of 9/11 and you’re telling me it wasn’t a planned attack?”

And then I send the White House spokesflak to his room. Or I would have, anyway, if he’d been my son.

This ridiculous story was nonsense on its face. When U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice claimed the Libyan assault “was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo,” she was as credible as my 17-year-old daughter saying, “I don’t know what happened to the car, I swear! Someone must have backed into me in the parking lot!”

Of course the Obama administration’s story was bogus. The Libyans said so, a member of the administration’s own counter-terrorism office said so and, most important, your good sense said so.

Which is why nobody’s surprised to learn that, far from the “movie-review-gone-horribly-wrong” scenario from the White House, we now know there had been warnings of an attack for days, Ambassador Stevens openly worried about his safety and it appears a former Gitmo detainee and al-Qaida member was directly involved.

In fact CBS News reports that witnesses say there was no anti-American protest that day at all. None. Just a coordinated attack against an American target by a terrorist group on 9/11.

So what was the White House’s response when caught red-handed by the facts? Carney promptly announced that they’d been saying the same thing all along: “It’s self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack,” he said with a shrug.

Which is exactly what a teenager will do if you let him. Your job, as a parent and a voter, is to not let him get away with it.

Watching the violence spreading across the Middle East, did you ever buy the “this has nothing to do with Obama administration policy, it’s just a movie” line? Of course not. The White House could send 100 people out to spin, but you’d know the truth.

And that’s the point: you knew. Just like you know when your kid claims he spent the night at his friend’s house, or doesn’t know why there’s a bottle of vodka missing from the liquor cabinet — you knew.

The next 46 days will be filled with claims, counter-claims, statistics and polls. You’ll hear more excuses from the Obama campaign about the current mess they’ve created than from a teenager who blew off a term paper.

This election year, more than any other I’ve ever seen, you need to ignore it all and go with your gut. You’ll make the right call in November.

It is quite amazing that there are still people in this country who believe President Obama. Certainly, in this case, the facts would seem to speak for themselves.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Media bias

We see these days how the media are so thoroughly biased that they cannot be relied upon. A campaign speech by Obama in Roanoke that said "you didn't build that" is apologized for by saying he is being quoted out of context, though the whole speech, posted openly on the White House website, seems, if anything, a worse position, proving that the President is hostile to business. Yet an off-the-cuff remark by Mitt Romney, which was taken out of context (and the whole comment is not even available to check what he really meant!) and is four months old, is made into such a strong gaffe that the media say he's lost the Presidency as a result.

Hopefully, the American people are smarter than Obama's pets in the media give them credit for. Obama has shown, by his conduct in the Presidency, that he is unfit for the job. While Romney's record speaks for itself. He can bring our economy back. Let's all make sure he gets his chance.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A good statement of the situation, which I'm happy to spread

Ben Stein wrote an article for The American Spectator dated September 17, which says a lot worth thinking about. First, he describes the events of recent days:

Let's start with a few facts.

A man made a cheesy movie about the being that Muslims call the Prophet Mohammed. That man has a criminal record and seems to be a marginal character, at best.

But that man is an American. He is operating in America. He has the full protection of the Constitution, including freedom of expression. So he is supposed to be allowed to say whatever he likes barring libel of living persons and exposure of state secrets. The man made the movie some months ago and nothing happened about it.

Now, Muslim radicals have gotten their marching orders from al Qaeda or whomever. They are rioting all over the Muslim world. As we all know, a super well-armed group of them murdered the U.S. Ambassador to Libya a few days ago, using that old movie as an excuse.

So, here we have it in a nutshell: murdering innocent people is a crime as we view it in this country. Making a movie is not a crime. We start with that.

When the rioting and craziness overseas began, Mr. Obama said nothing about it for many hours. He went to fund-raisers with his Hollywood pals and declined an intelligence briefing on the events (so Fox News reports).

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department apologizes for the movie via the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Many hours later, Mr. Obama says he's sorry the diplomats and security people were murdered. (They "died in attacks," as the NY Times said, as if they had heart attacks instead of being shot.)

At the same time, the tides are moving rapidly towards war in the Middle East, between Israel and Iran. Iran is racing towards getting nuclear weapons. Iran has promised to use these horrific weapons to have a second Holocaust by "...wiping Israel off the map." Naturally, Israel does not want Iran to murder all the Israelis.

Israel is pleading with the USA to help it bomb Iran and slow down Iran's weapons program.

Mr. Obama says he's way too busy to have a meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu about this. He has to be on TV and at fundraisers.

Then, we have the description of Romney's response, and its reception by the White House and the media:

Then comes word from Mitt Romney that Mr. Obama is not acting Presidential. Mr. Obama should have condemned the killings right away, says Mr. Romney. We should not be apologizing to terrorists, says Mr. Romney. And Mr. Obama should be striving night and day to keep peace and security in the Middle East.

That's it. That flips the "panic" switch in the mainstream media. Now, the terrorists who shot our diplomats and security personnel are no longer the issue. It is all Mr. Romney's incompetence. If only he had the temperament of an Obama — to apologize to terrorists instead of condemning them… Romney is a dangerous man.

The media goes berserk, on the attack against Mr. Romney. This is what they have been waiting for. The dogs of MSM warfare are let slip. Nothing else matters except mission number one: destroy Romney.

But, Stein reminds us, this is not the first time the media have shown a disturbing partiality toward the Left and the Democratic Party:

In a way, it's just what the media did to his father when they went crazy because he said he had been brainwashed in Vietnam — which was completely true. In a way, it's exactly like what the media did to Gerald Ford when he praised the Polish people and said they never would be slaves. It is precisely what they did to Richard Nixon when he did a series of trivial wrongs and they burned him at the stake for it, while the war maker and womanizer, JFK, was elevated to sainthood.

Stein continues:

No candidate can beat the combination of 95 percent of the African-American vote and 99 per cent of the MSM vote. So, Obama's in.

But think of what we have lost: I am writing this on Sunday night, September 16, 2012. The Obama administration is still apologizing to the Muslims worldwide, even in Libya even as the President of Libya says the killings there were not spontaneous but were long premeditated and the nutty movie was only a smokescreen. Our government is still saying, "Sorry," to violent mobs because an American citizen exercised his first Amendment rights. Incredibly, Jay Carney, White House spokesman, is spinning a complete fairy tale that the Islamists really like America and Mr. Obama. The murderers are just upset about a movie trailer that came out months ago. How stupid do they think we Americans are? If Mr. Obama really believes, he belongs in a straitjacket. If not, his spokesman is the biggest fantasist of all time.

Look, maybe sweet talk and apologies have a place somewhere. Maybe this should be said in private, between diplomats. But to apologize publicly to killers and arsonists over free speech in America… this isn't done… and of course the first amendment protects people outside the mainstream. Tom Paine, Samuel Adams, John Adams — these were considered nuts by the British. The whole idea is to protect all speech.

And in Barack Obama's America, the man who made the movie is brought in for law enforcement questioning. This really happened just yesterday.

And Mr. Barack Obama will be President for four more years and then quite possibly Mrs. Clinton, arch apologist for American values, for years afterwards.

When republics fall, it's not always slow. It can be like slamming a door.

It is later than any dare think.

This really summarizes the events of the past few days, and the nature of Obama's (and his supporters') responses, about as well as anyone could. I also like the analysis of the media's treatment of past presidents like Ford, Nixon, and JFK, all of which are more accurately described than anything else I've ever seen about them. So I'm happy to have echoed his posting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Let us not confuse religion with fanaticism

I defend, and in fact share, Mitt Romney's outrage that the Cairo Embassy's first remarks, after the recent desecration of our embassy and murder of an American diplomat, were an apology for offending Muslims:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Some people claim this is not an apology; I cannot read it as anything else.

But there are some other statements that I read on the Web that, I believe, take too harshly an anti-Muslim tone, for example Rick Bayan's remarks:

Most of us would be justifiably angered to see Jesus or Moses portrayed in such a light. But here’s the point: we wouldn’t shed the blood of innocents because of an objectionable movie. It would be nearly impossible to imagine Presbyterians, Methodists or Reform Jews setting mosques ablaze after watching a stupid 14-minute video. That’s the difference between Islam and the two older Abrahamic religions.

To his credit, the next paragraph refers to “[t]he more fanatical followers of Islam,” but Bayan seems to equate Islam in general with fanatical acts like those that have recently taken place in the Middle East.

But I see fanaticism at the root of many acts by followers of different religions: the murder of doctors for performing abortions as a Christian example; Yitzhak Rabin was killed by an adherent of his own (and my) Jewish religion; and Hindus have burned down mosques in India.

No religion has adherents that are uniformly peaceful adherents of “live and let live” — there are fanatics in all religions, absolutely convinced that not only is their religion the only true one, but that any perceived deviation from what their religion tells them is a grave sin, punishable by death.

I do not condemn Islam for the acts that have just taken place — I condemn the fanatical Muslim extremists who carried them out.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Obama seems to trust the Chinese?

People seem to think that accusing President Obama of pro-Communist sympathies is out of line. Whether he is or isn’t, however, he certainly seems to believe what the Chinese Communist Party has been spreading as propaganda.

A post dated this past Friday by Ed Morrissey on the “Hot Air” site, entitled “Team Obama: See what China’s propagandists and disinformation specialists say about Romney!” documents the fact that two high Obama campaign officials both sent tweets recommending a Xinhua article about Mitt Romney:

Well, this is certainly a brilliant strategy on the part of Team Obama to attack Mitt Romney on foreign policy. Two leading figures in the campaign urged people to read the state-run Chinese news service Xinhua in response to criticism leveled by Romney, as Daniel Halper noticed. First up, deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter:

Must read:China's Xinhua slams Romney for making his money off Chinese companies before running for pres. #hypocrisy

Shortly afterward, Team Obama’s rapid-response director wanted to point out “irony”:

Danny Kanner @DannyKanner:

Xinhua on @MittRomney: “ironic” that his wealth “was actually obtained by doing business with Chinese companies”…

You know what’s really ironic? Campaign officials attacking Romney as clueless by using a news service widely regarded as a disinfomation channel for China’s communist regime. But don’t take my word for it — ask Reporters Without Borders, an NGO that can hardly be described as “conservative.” In 2005, RWB called Xinhua “the world’s biggest propaganda machine … at the heart of censorship and disinformation” in its service to the regime in Beijing:

With more than 8,000 employees and 105 branches worldwide, the official news agency, Xinhua, is at the heart of censorship and disinformation put in place by the communist party. To mark the 56th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, Reporters Without Borders releases a report of an investigation into how this highly unusual news agency operates. …

Although it is more and more regularly cited as a credible source – nearly one third of the news reports on China selected by Google News originate from the agency – Xinhua, the head of which has the rank of minister, is the linchpin of control of the Chinese media.

Successor to the agency, Red China that was founded by Mao Zedong, Xinhua adopted its current name in January 1937. Since October 1949, this state-run news agency has been completely subordinate to the CCP.

The Reporters Without Borders’ report includes accounts from several Xinhua journalists who agreed, on condition of anonymity, to explain how the control imposed by the CCP’s Propaganda Department operates on a daily basis.

With the help of former French journalist on Xinhua, Reporters Without Borders exposes the distortion of facts, hatred for its enemies (particularly the United States and Japan) and its support, through the treatment of international news, for the world’s worst regimes.

It would be analogous to Jimmy Carter’s campaign quoting Pravda and Tass to support his attacks on Ronald Reagan’s perspective on the Soviet Union, had Carter’s campaign had been idiotic enough to do so. Say what you want about Carter, but at least his team knew better than to use communist propaganda machines as credible sources.

Clearly, one side has a pretty good grip on foreign policy, and the other clueless about the major players in the field. Unfortunately for the US, the incumbent side is the latter.

Enough said?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More comments on "likeable" President Obama

President Barack Obama got his first political office, in the Illinois State Senate, by stabbing his mentor, Alice Palmer, in the back. (See my August 05, 2008 post.) The new book by Bob Woodward demonstrates that President Obama is still capable of doing nasty things to former allies and friends: Peter Orszag, a former member of the Obama team, took a job with the New York Times, hardly an anti-Obama sheet, and wrote a column making one suggestion as to a weakness in “Obamacare”: it does not handle the medical malpractice problem. Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama's closest political friends, who presumably speaks for the President, told Orszag as a result that he had “burned his bridges.” (See this posting, for example.)

By contrast, Mitt Romney has no such record. In fact, he is known for such deeds as personally loading his car with firewood to help a single mother who had her heat cut off.

Yet, people keep giving pollsters their opinions that President Obama is “more likeable” than Governor Romney. I simply do not understand it. Romney is a warm, generous man; Obama the sort of cold-hearted politician who will shaft anyone who does not grovel at his feet. Why do people consider Obama “more likeable” than Romney? It boggles the mind.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How's that again?

Rick Bayan has a blog he calls The New Moderate, which I read from time to time, which frequently makes a lot of sense. But this time, I think he fails to get something. Yesterday's post, entitled “The Prophet Motive: Islamists on the Rampage,” begins with some unexceptionable truths:

The Islamic world is ablaze, and once again the target of the Islamists’ wrath is (guess who) the United States. The protests started in Egypt and quickly spread to Libya, where popular American ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others died when a band of miltants torched the U.S. consulate. Now the wildfires have spread to a dozen nations within Mohammed’s realm, that harsh and stony empire of fanatical faith that stretches from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East.

Why the sudden outpouring of hatred and vengeance in lands that were supposed to have been transformed by last year’s Arab Spring? Did the U.S. government offend Muslim sensibilities by admitting Israel to the union, or by declaring a holy war against Iran… or by outlawing the construction of an Islamic recreation center near Ground Zero? No, the Islamists have been on the rampage because a lone American con man and ex-convict made an amateurish, disjointed, absurdly dubbed, almost incomprehensible 14-minute video, “Innocence of Muslims,” that denigrated the holy reputation of the Prophet.

The supreme irony is that the filmmaker is an Egyptian living in the United States. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who went by the pseudonym Sam Bacile and claimed to be an Israeli, had a legitimate ax to grind with Islam: he’s a Coptic Christian, member of an ancient church that Islamists have been targeting in Egypt for decades. The assaults escalated after Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak fell from power, and dozens of Copts have died during attacks on churches (as well as from lethal force used by police during the resulting protests).

Nakoula Nakoula’s film begins with such an attack: Muslims terrorizing Christians in contemporary Egypt. Forced into hiding, a Christian family attempts to make sense of the violence, and the filmmaker suddenly cuts back to the time of Mohammed. The young prophet is portrayed by a handsome enough actor… but of course any visual portrayal of Mohammed is considered a crime against the Muslim faith. (If Christians had implemented such a rule for depictions of Jesus, every notable Renaissance artist would have been beheaded.) The film goes on to portray Islam’s founder as an increasingly promiscuous, intolerant and violent fanatic — a portrayal that, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t go over well in the Islamosphere.

Most of us would be justifiably angered to see Jesus or Moses portrayed in such a light. But here’s the point: we wouldn’t shed the blood of innocents because of an objectionable movie. It would be nearly impossible to imagine Presbyterians, Methodists or Reform Jews setting mosques ablaze after watching a stupid 14-minute video. That’s the difference between Islam and the two older Abrahamic religions.

The more fanatical followers of Islam — and their numbers are too great to be dismissed as a fringe element — still believe in collective guilt, that savage and primitive relic of Old Testament justice in which the sons can be blamed for the sins of their fathers, and the innocent can be punished along with the evildoers. It’s a nasty ancient tradition. Think of Jehovah cleansing the world of virtually its entire human population — babies, granddaddies and all — during the Great Flood… think of the plagues visited upon the innocent firstborn sons of Egypt… think of the wanton, divinely-sanctioned slaughter of Midianites and other tribes that stood between the Israelites and their Promised Land. Think of the centuries-long persecutions of Jews by the Catholic Church, based on the senseless notion that all Jews were to be held culpable for the crucifixion of Jesus.

Christians and Jews have left those ugly relics behind, but the Muslim world seems to be stuck in a medieval time warp. Moderate Muslims, civilized and educated, tend to keep their voices down and hope that the rabid element simply goes away. It makes sense: they’d rather not live with a fatwa dangling over their heads.

But a couple of paragraphs down, he shows that he really did not get it:

Meanwhile, in the West, right-wing Obamaphobes (not to mention the ostensibly “moderate” Mitt Romney) were ganging up on the president for “apologizing” to the terrorists. Internet message boards buzzed with rabid denunciations of our purported Muslim-in-Chief. Sorry, folks… it was the American embassy in Cairo that made the conciliatory remarks, not Obama.

Sorry, Mr. Bayan, but the embassy is supposed to represent the President. Article II, Sect. 2 of the Constitution states:

he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law

This clause has always been understood to imply that “ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls” are the personal representatives of the President. What an embassy says is understood as representing the President's official position. (As Harry Truman once said, “The buck stops here.”) And thus, Governor Romney was absolutely justified in considering the apology of the Cairo embassy as coming from the President. And if you, Mr. Bayan, do not read that statement as an apology (as implied by your quotation marks around “apologizing”), I am curious as to what you would consider an apology.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Several days ago, just after the Republican convention, my wife and I were sitting in a bus shelter waiting for the bus, when an African-American woman sitting next to me struck up a conversation. She asked what I thought of the political events going on, and I made some sort of neutral remark, not being in the mood at the time to strike up a political argument. (Given her race, I suspected that she and I would be on opposite sides — not a guarantee, given such people as Condoleezza Rice — but the odds were that way.) She pressed harder, saying that it seems that the candidates were saying the same thing over and over, and I remarked that they are campaigning on their issues. Finally she pushed harder and I was forced to stop my neutral talk, and made some remark that we need to get rid of this president and put Mitt Romney in his place. She then went on the defensive, claiming that Barack Obama has made the world respect us again. That strained credulity, I thought. I pointed out how Iran hardly respected us, going forth with its nuclear program despite our entreaties. I could have mentioned North Korea as well, but didn't think of it.

That conversation ended when our bus arrived, but now my mind went back to this conversation as I am thinking about recent events which show how little Barack Obama's America is respected in the world. In Egypt, they tear down the flag on our embassy and put up an al-Qaeda banner. In Libya it's even worse: our ambassador is murdered! Barack Obama has brought us the world's respect? Hardly — it looks more like contempt than respect!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I guess I have to gloat

In Chicago, there's a teacher's strike. The teacher's union, one of the biggest mainstays of the Democratic Party, is striking, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel — a rabid Democratic partisan, who was once President Obama's chief of staff — is the one trying to put them down. A Democratic chief executive acting like Scott Walker? Who'd have thought it? But the Democrats have given Chicago's teachers one of the sweetest deals in the country — a 6 hour work day for 9 months of the year, with new teachers just out of college starting at $50,000 and more senior teachers making six figures! And Mayor Emanuel has come to the conclusion that Chicago simply can't afford that.

I guess I have to gloat. Whoever wins this fight, the Democrats lose. If Mayor Emanuel wins, the teachers' unions will be less inclined to put out for the party; and if the union wins, the total lack of fiscal responsibility of the Democrats will be there for everyone to see.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What the Democrats are saying

I get a lot of e-mail, ostensibly from such people as Mitt Romney and John McCain, asking me to donate money to the Romney-Ryan campaign. I don't have a lot of money, so I don't donate; I figure my blog posts contribute more than I could afford, so I think I'm doing my part. My wife is an enrolled Democrat, and she gets entirely different appeals, mainly by postal mail, since her e-mail presence on the Net is not as great. And recently, one of those letters — four printed pages long — arrived in her mail. Now, they did a good job of personalizing it — her first name appears in the text of the letter several times — and it ostensibly comes from President Barack Obama himself. (In fact the return address on the back of the envelope says “Obama Victory Fund 2012,” with a Chicago address. But the upper lefthand corner of the front of the envelope, where you might, at first glance, think is the return address, says “President Barack Obama.”)

Now my wife, though (as I said) an enrolled Democrat, is not a big fan of President Barack Obama, so it is a bit of a laugh that she gets a request for campaign donations. She is not certain of what her vote will be this November, but has said that it will “probably” be for Mitt Romney, but if not, then for a third-party candidate; certainly not for Obama.

Well, I don't often see what kind of nonsense the Democrats send out in their campaign funds appeals, so it was interesting to read this letter. Since it was addressed to Democrats, it is not terribly surprising that it began:

Four years ago, you and I began a journey together.

Of course, the addressee, my wife, did not begin that journey with Pres. Obama — she voted for John McCain — but the Obama campaign headquarters had no way of knowing that. However, one thing that my wife agreed with — and, in fact, so do I — began a few short paragraphs down:

Over the next several months, this path to the 2012 elections will take many twists and many turns. Polls will go up and down. And in the coming weeks, Governor Romney and I…

(remember, this purports to be from Pres. Obama)

…will spend time debating our records and experience, Republicans and Democrats will have a frank exchange on the issues — as we should.

Though we will have many differences over the course of this election, there's one place where we stand in complete agreement with our opponents. This election is about our economic future.

Again, I will skip a few short paragraphs to another point that I cannot find objectionable:

… what is holding us back is not a lack of big ideas. It isn't a matter of finding the right technical solution. Both parties have laid out their policies on the table for all to see. What's holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different views of which direction America should take.

And this election is our chance to break that stalemate.

The next sentence is the request for that monetary donation, addressed to my wife by her first name. Of course, to my mind, the best “chance to break that stalemate” is to send Pres. Obama packing, back to Chicago, and put Governor Romney in his place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!

In the next few paragraphs the letter refers to Romney's promise to reduce stifling regulations and lower taxes — of course, in terms that imply that this is a bad thing — the description refers to “regulations designed to protect consumers and workers” without mentioning that these regulations have cost millions of jobs by making money that would better be spent on wages go into lawyers' pockets defending companies from frivolous suits, for example. And the letter speaks of cuts to programs such as “medical research grants for things like Alzheimer's and cancer and AIDS,” but these are mere speculations; the Romney budget has not been presented in full, so Obama is picking and choosing where the cuts will fall, not producing anything that is justified by an actual Romney proposal!

Of course, the letter presents the repeal of “the Affordable Care Act” as “eliminat[ing] health insurance for 33 million Americans.” Romney would repeal this bizarre monster of a legislative act, to be sure, but he will certainly propose new legislation which will provide for those Americans who want it to have affordable insurance — without forcing it on people who do not need or want it, and without making people violate their religious tenets. Of that I am certain.

One point that I think is interesting to read, though I suppose not unexpected, was:

The economic vision of Mr. Romney and his allies in Congress was tested just a few years ago. We tried this. Their policies did not grow the economy.

Well, the big laugh that these words brought was because the recession that we are in now began only a few months before the election that brought Pres. Obama and the Democrats in Congress to power! Pres. Obama is claiming that the 3½ years he's been in power has not been enough to grow the economy — that he needs four more. But Pres. Bush had about four months to fix the economy — not years, but, I repeat, months. So can he really say that “[w]e tried this ([t]he economic vision of Mr. Romney and his allies in Congress)” and “[t]heir policies did not grow the economy”? No, the whole point is that the country, in a scare caused by the economic drop, tried then-Senator Obama's ideas, and it was his policies which did not grow the economy. The Republican policies were not given a chance.

I'm not going to cite more of the letter; I think I have shown the kind of appeal the President is making. Yes, I agree that this election is a choice between two fundamentally different views of the way this country should go: the view of Abraham Lincoln — that I quote in the header to this blog:

The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.

or the view of Karl Marx:

From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs.

I know which way I want this nation to go. With Lincoln — and Mitt Romney; not Marx — and Barack Obama.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More on the Democrats' fealty to organized labor

The news came out a long time ago, it seems, but I only found out Monday in an editorial that appeared in the Washington Examiner. It seems that in Michigan, back when Democrat Jennifer Granholm was Governor, they came up with a scheme to line the pockets of organized labor at the expense of disabled kids!

Under Granholm, Michigan classified all parents who care for their own severely disabled children at home as state employees if they use Medicaid funds to do so. The designation did not confer any benefits upon parents, but it did allow the SEIU to garnish union dues from their Medicaid checks. Granholm and the unions thus figured out a way to redirect money that should be going to care for the poor to support union political causes instead.

Michigan's new Republican governor signed a bill this year that would end this practice for good. But the SEIU went to court, temporarily blocking that law from going into effect, and then put a measure on the November ballot that would make the Granholm-era status quo permanent.

Marge Faville, head of SEIU Healthcare Michigan, said at last week's Democratic convention that Republicans want to stop her union from skimming poor kids' Medicaid checks because “unions are effective, we make sure Democrats get [into office] and we're going to make sure Obama gets in.” That, or maybe because Medicaid should pay for poor people's medical expenses, not pad the bank accounts of union bosses like Faville, who made $155,489 last year and has a five-figure expense account.

The Democrats love to say that they are “for the poor and middle-class.” But in Michigan, they are perfectly happy to steal from the poor to enrich organized labor. An example, cited in the Examiner's editorial:

To illustrate the effects of Granholm's policy, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy offered the story of Robert Haynes, a retired police officer. He and his wife care for their two children, who suffer from cerebral palsy and must be fed and wear diapers despite being older than 30. The Hayneses suffer the added indignity of having the SEIU deduct dues money from their Medicaid checks every month. The SEIU raked in $6 million last year on the backs of people like them.

And this is not the only union that has been dealt additional undeserved state money that should have gone to people in need:

While in office, Granholm established an almost identical dues-skimming arrangement that forced independent day care providers (many of whom serve parents who receive day care subsidies) to pay dues to the United Auto Workers union. When the matter came before a court, an attorney for that union was forced to admit that unionization “could be imposed on anyone” if the state decided that the union provided “added value.” So if you don't think it can happen, look to Michigan.

Now that's one big reason I'm with the Republicans! (Please read also my post dated March 30, 2011.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

A pathetic reason Obama says people should vote for him

Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, wrote a column (dated September 17, 2012, but it’s already appeared online) entitled “Despair and Change: There’s no excuse for the Obama record.” It makes a telling point, and I will quote it in its entirety.

President Obama has had four years to fix the economy, and it’s not his fault he’s failed so far. He’s tried very hard, and he’s made some headway. But the task is so great that no one, not even FDR or Bill Clinton, could have done any better than he has. Thus, on effort and good intentions alone, Obama has earned four more years.

That’s a pathetically weak argument for reelection. But aside from attacking Mitt Romney, it’s the best Obama, Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden could come up with at last week’s Democratic convention to defend a president bent on imposing policies that have produced consistently poor results. Yet there’s a bigger problem with this tale—or narrative, in the political vernacular—of a determined president unfairly criticized. It’s simply a message that doesn’t fit the moment. Millions of voters—especially disillusioned backers of Obama in 2008—fear that neither Obama nor Romney nor anyone else can revive the economy and halt America’s decline. And their pessimism is deepening.

Just before the two conventions, a Fox News poll asked this question: “Do you think the United States is on the rise as a civilization or is it on the decline?” The response was decline 57 percent, rise 31 percent. To me, this reflects despair—well, near-despair, anyway—not just fleeting unhappiness with today’s stagnant economy and high joblessness.

Other polls buttress this. In August, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found that 63 percent of adults are “not confident that life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us.” This view is almost unanimous among unhappy 2008 Obama voters questioned in recent focus groups.

On top of all that, the federal government’s ability to solve problems has worsened, according to a Resurgent Republic poll last month of 1,000 likely voters. Only 16 percent said it has increased since Obama took office in January 2009, while 54 percent said it’s gotten worse.

Given this situation, the excuses for Obama are, as a political matter, inadequate. Take Clinton. “No president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years,” he said.

No president? I doubt Clinton believes this. With 227,000 new jobs, last February was one of Obama’s best months. But in February 1996, when Clinton was in the White House, 434,000 jobs were created. Franklin Roosevelt did better too. By 1936, the economy was growing at a 13 percent clip, while Obama presided over 1.9 percent growth in the first half of 2012. In June 1984, the Reagan economy created 363,000 jobs. The Obama economy last June? Only 80,000.

Nor was Obama encouraging in his bland convention speech. “You elected me to tell you the truth,” he said. “And the truth is it will take more than a few years for us to solve the challenges that have built up over decades.”

He invoked FDR and “the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that [he] pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.” But Obama isn’t following the FDR formula. Rather than a course correction, he’s relying on government programs as the sole stimulus and job creator, precisely what failed to stir a strong recovery in his first term. Offering incentives to private sector growth and job creation—now that would be an experiment for Obama.

“Our problems can be solved,” Obama said. True, but does anyone but Keynesian economists and partisan Democrats believe he’s likely to be the problem solver? Swing voters, the pivotal bloc in the election, don’t.

Biden wasn’t reassuring either in a speech both awful in content and poor in delivery. “America is not in decline,” he said. Why not? “Because it’s never a good bet to bet against the American people.” But it’s not the people that distressed Americans are betting against. It’s our leaders, Obama in particular.

Give Republicans credit for understanding the situation, while not responding to it satisfactorily. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has stressed that fixing the economy and averting (or reversing) national decline is doable. Five times in his acceptance speech, he declared, “We can do this.” The idea that the economy can be revived is the finishing kick in his stump speeches. He hammers it. “We can do this,” he said in Greenville, North Carolina, last week. “The point I want to make to you is it is in our control. We are Americans. We control our own destiny. We put the right policies in place, we can do this. This is something we can get done… Let’s get this done because we can do this.”

Hard to miss the message there. But it’s not sufficient. It leaves a big question unanswered: How? This is a job for Romney, but he hasn’t provided an answer yet. At the GOP convention, he first had to introduce himself to the country, since most Americans had never heard a Romney speech. “He couldn’t do everything at once,” an adviser told me.

Romney did lay out a five-step “plan” for creating 12 million jobs. The steps were more ends than means: exploit oil and gas resources, expand job training and school choice, sign trade agreements, reduce the deficit and lower taxes, streamline regulations, and reduce health care costs. And that was as specific as Romney got.

“Voters wonder whether anyone can turn the economy around, partly because they believe D.C. is so hopelessly broken,” the Romney adviser says. “Democrats are saying we have to be patient, but voters have run out of patience. They are frustrated with the pandering and the rhetoric and instead want results.”

Romney knows this, I’m told. He knows he has to explain how he will achieve his jobs agenda. He intends to do so. For what it’s worth, my advice is, the sooner the better.

The main thing is that (as I’ve already said or implied in previous posts) Barack Obama has been in office for 3½ years, and most presidents, given 3½ years to work on a problem, would have made a dent in it even if they might not have solved it. Unemployment now is higher than when Obama took over the Presidency. Probably, even if Obama had done nothing at all, the economy would have gotten better than what it was, so his presidency has been a disaster. So in fact, as Barnes says, Obama’s claim (reinforced by Bill Clinton) that he could not have fixed the problem in 3½ years is an admission of incompetence.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Yeah, blame the Republicans for everything!

There is a blog supported by MSNBC called “The Maddow Blog,”, and, as one might expect of anything named for Rachel Maddow, it spouts a hard-left propaganda line. On Friday, a post appeared on this blog by Steve Benen, which has the audacity to blame the Republicans in the House of Representatives for the poor employment figures that were released that morning.

You see, a year ago (specifically, a year ago yesterday) President Obama proposed a piece of legislation he called the American Jobs Act, supposed to create 2 million jobs. And the Republicans in the House turned it down.

So much is pathologically wrong with Mr. Benen's analysis. First of all, it took him until 2011 to put forth a jobs proposal. In January 2009, he took office. From the beginning of 2009 till the beginning of 2011, he had a Congress solidly controlled by Democrats. If he had put his “American Jobs Act” before that Congress, there was no way the Republicans could have prevented its passage. But of course, in that time he was otherwise occupied. He had to push “Obamacare” through. For this he needed every single Democrat in the Senate, and when Massachusetts voters told the world, by electing Scott Brown to the Senate, that this “Obamacare” monstrosity was not what they wanted — Massachusetts, the most Democratic state in the country! — they had to use parliamentary trickery to get it through. No time for jobs then.

Secondly, most of the time, a President with a Congress that has at least one house controlled by the opposite party will find a way to compromise and propose legislation that at least some members of both parties can accept. When the voters elected a Republican House in 2010, if Obama were like most past Presidents faced with that sort of opposition, he should have done that. But Barack Obama refuses to consider any ideas that the Republicans — or even the less radical among the Democrats! — could have signed on to. So of course, as he pushed “Obamacare” through the Congress, getting not a single Republican vote in the Senate and only one in the House, he tried to propose a “jobs” bill with no Republicans allowed any input. Could the Republicans be legitimately expected to merely roll over and play dead?

Of course, Mr. Benen claims that “Obama sought to shift the national conversation away from austerity and towards job creation, and presented a sensible plan, filled with ideas that have traditionally [emphasis mine] enjoyed bipartisan support.” But obviously, he never asked Speaker Boehner whether those ideas enjoyed bipartisan support in 2011. (Of course, this was the same President Obama who, in 2010, when he needed to call Speaker Boehner to congratulate him after the election, didn't even have his number and needed to ask someone else to dig it up! So much for inter-party consultation!) And even if some of those ideas enjoyed bipartisan support, others were probably poisonous.

When Mitt Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, he faced a legislature that had both houses controlled by the Democrats — by 85%-15% margins — so he didn't even have a veto threat! Yet he was able to get legislation through that legislature. Barack Obama has no idea what it takes to work with a Congress that he does not totally control. All he can do is lay blame — on his predecessor, on the members of the opposite party whose constituents elected them to express their views, not his, and on anyone else he can. He refuses to accept responsibility for the flawed performance of this country's economy — or anything else.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Comparing the conventions

It's almost impossible to compare the two conventions objectively. If you're a Republican — or just a person whose inclinations are right of center — the things the Republicans say will make more sense, and the Democrats' messages will seem like howlers. If your inclinations are the other way, you'll make the opposite judgment. Thus, Eugene Robinson's Washington Post column is titled, “Obama, Dems Win Convention War,” while Dick Morris of Fox News has a post entitled “It's Advantage Romney After Obama Fails to Move the Needle in Charlotte.” Democratic-leaning commentaries make much of the fact that in Tampa, Mitt Romney's name was not used a lot. But the Tampa convention was more than the convention that was to nominate Romney and Ryan; part of the purpose of the speeches was to show that Republican State Governors were doing good jobs in their States, and therefore we should allow the Republican ideas that work at the State level to rule the Presidency in Washington, D. C. as well.

So how can we compare the conventions? One good way, though it's not totally definitive, is their effect on the polls. On August 28, as the Tampa convention opened, Obama had a 1-point lead, 46.7 to 45.7, in the Real Clear Politics averages. On August 31, at the end of the convention, that lead had narrowed to 46.4 to 45.9, a half point. One week later, the Democrats met in Charlotte. On September 4, when that convention started, the RCP average of polls stood at 46.8 to 46.7; a bare tenth of a percent lead for Obama. Perhaps, in fact, the further drop in the Obama lead was also to be considered an effect of the Tampa convention. But did the Charlotte convention reverse that trend? Obviously not. The lead did not open up again; instead it vanished. President Obama and Mitt Romney are in a precise tie!

Obviously, if the Republican convention had any effect at all, it won over voters to the Romney-Ryan ticket. But the Democratic convention had no effect at all, as far as the polls can determine.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Bob Woodward's new book points out how incompetent President Obama is!

According to Bob Woodward's book, “The Price of Politics,” (reported by ABC News) there was almost an agreement between President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner that would have established the kind of budget compromise that some moderate blogs have advocated: a mixture of spending cuts and revenue enhancements.

The book … shows how close the president and the House speaker were to defying Washington odds and establishing a spending framework that included both new revenues and major changes to long-sacred entitlement programs.

But at a critical juncture, with an agreement tantalizingly close, Obama pressed Boehner for additional taxes as part of a final deal — a miscalculation, in retrospect, given how far the House speaker felt he'd already gone.

President Obama, obviously, had no impression how much pressure Speaker Boehner was under from his own conference — or at least from the “Tea Party” wing — and ended up exerting more pressure than the Speaker could take. He tried to call the Speaker, but Boehner took his time replying.

When Boehner finally did call back, he jettisoned the entire deal. Obama lost his famous cool, according to Woodward, with a “flash of pure fury” coming from the president; one staffer in the room said Obama gripped the phone so tightly he thought he would break it.

“He was spewing coals,” Boehner told Woodward, in what is described as a borderline “presidential tirade.”

“He was pissed…. He wasn't going to get a damn dime more out of me. He knew how far out on a limb I was. But he was hot. It was clear to me that coming to an agreement with him was not going to happen, and that I had to go to Plan B.”

But this may be a result of Obama's unwillingness to even contemplate the possibility that people might think differently from him. The ABC News article notes:

The failure of Obama to connect with Boehner was vaguely reminiscent of another phone call late in the evening of Election Day 2010, after it became clear that the Republicans would take control of the House, making Boehner Speaker of the House.

Nobody in the Obama orbit could even find the soon-to-be-speaker's phone number, Woodward reports. A Democratic Party aide finally secured it through a friend so the president could offer congratulations.

The problem was that Obama was learning on the job how to be President — the problem with having a President with so little experience. Obama simply has not got the kind of understanding of how Washington works to make compromises:

Obama found that he had little history with members of Congress to draw on. His administration's early decision to forego bipartisanship for the sake of speed around the stimulus bill was encapsulated by his then-chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel: “We have the votes. F--- 'em,” he's quoted in the book as saying.

The article continues:

Obama's relationship with Democrats wasn't always much better. Woodward recounts an episode early in his presidency when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were hammering out final details of the stimulus bill.

Obama phoned in to deliver a “high-minded message,” he writes. Obama went on so long that Pelosi “reached over and pressed the mute button on her phone,” so they could continue to work without the president hearing that they weren't paying attention.

As debt negotiations progressed, Democrats complained of being out of the loop, not knowing where the White House stood on major points. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, is described as having a “growing feeling of incredulity” as negotiations meandered.

“The administration didn't seem to have a strategy. It was unbelievable. There didn't seem to be any core principles,” Woodward writes in describing Van Hollen's thinking.

Now, Chris Van Hollen (who just happens to be my Congressman) is hardly someone I agree with on many things. But it's clear (although he'd be unlikely to say so now, in this election year, of course) that he thought that Barack Obama was simply clueless. And this passage in the report casts further aspersions on Obama's competence:

Woodward portrays a president who remained a supreme believer in his own powers of persuasion, even as he faltered in efforts to coax congressional leaders in both parties toward compromise. Boehner told Woodward that at one point, when Boehner voiced concern about passing the deal they were working out, the president reached out and touched his forearm.

“John, I've got great confidence in my ability to sway the American people,” Boehner quotes the president as having told him.

But after the breakthrough agreement fell apart, Boehner's “Plan B” would ultimately exclude the president from most of the key negotiations. The president was “voted off the island,” in Woodward's phrase, even by members of his own party, as congressional leaders patched together an eleventh hour framework to avoid default.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Obama and the recovery that wasn't

President Obama claims that he should not be blamed for the current weak economy. According to him, the economy was so bad when he took office that he had no chance at fixing it. But I recently saw an article in the Weekly Standard by Jeffrey H. Anderson, entitled “Was Obama Dealt a Tough Hand on the Economy? Hardly.” which points out that Pres. Obama actually should have been happy to have taken office under bad economic straits. The economy would have improved under normal conditions, and he could have taken credit even though it was really the workings of the laws of economics:

Of all the generally accepted claims that have been repeated throughout this presidential campaign, perhaps the most false is the assertion that President Obama was dealt a tough hand on the economy. In truth, Obama was dealt a winning hand; he simply had no idea how to play it.

In sports, most coaches don’t want to replace a legend. From that starting point, there’s almost nowhere to go but down. A far better situation is to take over from a losing coach, at which point there’s almost nowhere to go but up.

It’s the same with presidents and the economy. The best situation for a president is to inherit a bad economy, wait for the nearly inevitable recovery to occur, and then take credit for the predictable gains.

As Obama would be the first to tell people, he didn’t follow a legend. He inherited a bad economy, from which there was almost nowhere to go but up. Politically speaking, he was dealt beautiful cards. But if you play it poorly enough, it’s possible to lose even with a great hand.

Just compare Obama with FDR, another Democrat who fell into the envious situation of inheriting a bad economy from an unpopular Republican president. In 1936, the year in which FDR first ran for reelection, the gross domestic product (GDP) grew a whopping 13.1 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars.

So far in 2012, as Obama is running for reelection, real annualized GDP growth has been a puny 1.9 percent — less than a sixth of what it was under FDR. That’s according to the federal government’s own figures (see “Percent change from preceding period”).

In other words, both FDR and Obama inherited bad economies that were poised to get better (although the economy of the Great Depression wasn’t poised to rebound as quickly). As such, both were dealt winning hands. FDR played his hand well and, on the wave of a revitalized economy, won reelection in a landslide.

But for Obama, even George W. Bush has proven to be a tough act to follow.

As Anderson says, Obama could have done nothing and things would have improved on their own. But he didn't. He messed it up, so the economy did not recover. More reason to retire Barack Obama this November.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Cutting off his nose to spite his face?

Yesterday a story appeared in the Washington Times titled “‘Extremists’ chase some Republicans toward Obama.” It began with a discussion with a New Jersey resident named John Martin, who heads a group of Republicans for Obama. Martin said that Mitt Romney is doing nothing to keep his loyalty, that the Republican presidential nominee lacks the will or desire to stand up to "extremists" who have gained a sturdy foothold in the party, and President Obama is far from the socialist demon portrayed by GOP leaders. Therefore he will vote for Mr. Obama.

Like Mr. Martin, I consider myself a moderate within the Republican Party and I am unhappy with the extremism that has gained such a foothold. But I am incredulous that Mr. Martin does not see that the Democratic Party is equally riddled by extremists of the left, and that he can, with a straight face, say that “President Obama is far from the socialist demon portrayed by GOP leaders.” My wife is a moderate Democrat, and she feels that, as far as Mitt Romney is to her right, she sees Pres. Obama as further to her left.

The article does mention that Mr. Martin voted for Obama four years ago, so he's been thinking this way for a long time; I don't have any way of getting into his head, so I don't understand exactly what is in it, but I gather from the article that he actually likes Obamacare — which puts him to the left of the majority of the public, not just Republicans.

The article ends:

Whether he stays with the Republican Party depends on what happens in November. An Obama win, he hopes, would foster discussion and self-examination within the GOP to return to its “big tent” roots.

He said he fears that a Romney win would serve as justification for conservatives to continue remaking the party in their likeness.

I doubt it. An Obama win, as was the case four years ago, might drive the party further into the kind of extremism he deplores. Mitt Romney, after all, has been considered insufficiently conservative by that group. While a Romney win, I think, would lead to his governing moderately, as he did in Massachusetts. An Obama win, in fact, would lead to the kind of socialist government that, as Marco Rubio said at the convention in Tampa, people came to this country to get away from. Remember, Obama has tried to gain some semblance of the appearance of moderation in his first term — apparently enough to attract the likes of Mr. Martin, even though I think he's been the most radical President in over a century! This, to make his re-election likely. In a second term, all wraps are off. And this is the President who told Dmitry Medvedev (standing in for Vladimir Putin) that he will have more “flexibility” after he is re-elected!

If Mr. Martin thinks an Obama presidency is closer to what he, as a moderate Republican, wants than a Romney presidency would be, I wonder how he could have been attracted to the GOP in the first place.

Anyone who, in the interest of reducing the extremist influence in the Republican Party, supports a radical extremist like Barack Obama, is cutting off his nose to spite his face. We need moderates to stay in the party and try to influence its direction, rather than to leave the party exclusively in the hands of those extremists we deplore. And we certainly do not want to leave the country in the hands of extremists of the opposite persuasion, such as Barack Obama.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The scene shifts

Today, the Democrats will begin their convention in Charlotte. The rhetoric will be very different from what was said in Tampa last week. They will be defending the indefensible, in my opinion, but the incredible facts are that they will, mostly, be believing what they say.

Sometimes I wonder, when I see quotes from Democrats, whether we're on the same planet. Barack Obama may boast of “Obamacare,” but the fact is that the majority of the American people want it replaced by a different plan. He talks of Romney planning to “raise taxes on the middle class” to distribute in “tax cuts for the rich,” but nowhere is that mentioned in any Mitt Romney proposal — cleaning up tax loopholes, which Romney does favor, if anything disproportionally affects the rich. And tax brackets, under Mitt Romney's proposals, would go down for everyone.

Obama does not understand one thing: when you reduce tax rates, sometimes the government gets more revenue. In such cases, letting money remain in the hands of businessmen creates jobs, the newly-employed pay taxes on their income, and revenues go up enough to compensate for those lower rates. And people spend more, so those businessmen take in more and pay taxes on those higher revenues, so even though the tax rate goes down, the total tax paid can increase. This has happened time and again. The converse is also true. When you increase taxes, revenue can actually decrease — while reducing employment.

We need new leadership in Washington, but the incredible ideas we will hear coming out of Charlotte will try to convince the American people that we don't, that four more years of the kind of “leadership” that has driven our economy into the ground the past 3½ years is the recipe to cure our problems. There was a form of quack medicine called “homeopathy” based on the idea that “like cures like.” It was nonsense, but Obama's economics are a disease that the Democrats will propose curing by homeopathic means, it seems. Just listen to what they say in Charlotte. Obama has already said, about a month or so ago, “We tried that [meaning Romney's call to cut taxes and spending] and it didn’t work … Just like we’ve tried their plan, we tried our plan — and it worked,” and I say, “What planet are you on,” if you think his plan worked?

Monday, September 03, 2012

Final words from last week's convention

I wanted to devote a special post to the acceptance speeches of the candidates. In Mitt Romney's case, he started, of course, with the first sentence in which he formally accepted the nomination (just imagine a candidate who, after working all these months to gain the nomination, refused it!). And his speech next devoted a few sentences to Paul Ryan — saying why he thinks Ryan is good for America (even though they disagree on music — something that Ryan also mentioned in his speech!).

But Mitt Romney showed quickly that he knows that he cannot be elected without receiving some of the votes of people who voted in 2008 for Barack Obama — after all, John McCain lost the election, so even if he got the vote of every citizen who voted last time for McCain (and he won't: look at Charlie Crist!) it would not win the election. So immediately after the opening words accepting the nomination and praising Paul Ryan, he went to an appeal for the voters of those 2008 Obama supporters who might have changed their minds:

Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party, but Americans always come together after elections. We are a good and generous people who are united by so much more than what divides us.

When that hard fought election was over, when the yard signs came down and the television commercials finally came off the air, Americans were eager to go back to work, to live our lives the way Americans always have — optimistic and positive and confident in the future.

And then, he described the America that he loves:

That very optimism is uniquely American.

It is what brought us to America. We are a nation of immigrants. We are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life, the driven ones, the ones who woke up at night hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called America could be better.

They came not just in pursuit of the riches of this world but for the richness of this life.


Freedom of religion.

Freedom to speak their mind.

Freedom to build a life.

But now here comes the reminder of President Obama's “You didn't build that” speech:

And yes, freedom to build a business. With their own hands.

This is the essence of the American experience.

After a couple more sentences about the greatness of America he came to the real reason disaffected 2008 Obama supporters have for changing their minds:

… today, four years from the excitement of the last election, for the first time, the majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future.

It is not what we were promised.

Every family in America wanted this to be a time when they could get ahead a little more, put aside a little more for college, do more for their elderly mom who’s living alone now or give a little more to their church or charity.

Every small business wanted these to be their best years ever, when they could hire more, do more for those who had stuck with them through the hard times, open a new store or sponsor that Little League team.

Every new college graduate thought they'd have a good job by now, a place of their own, and that they could start paying back some of their loans and build for the future.

This is when our nation was supposed to start paying down the national debt and rolling back those massive deficits.

This was the hope and change America voted for.

It’s not just what we wanted. It’s not just what we expected.

It’s what Americans deserved.

You deserved it because during these years, you worked harder than ever before. You deserved it because when it cost more to fill up your car, you cut out movie nights and put in longer hours. Or when you lost that job that paid $22.50 an hour with benefits, you took two jobs at 9 bucks an hour and fewer benefits. You did it because your family depended on you. You did it because you’re an American and you don’t quit. You did it because it was what you had to do.

But driving home late from that second job, or standing there watching the gas pump hit 50 dollars and still going, when the realtor told you that to sell your house you’d have to take a big loss, in those moments you knew that this just wasn’t right.

But what could you do? Except work harder, do with less, try to stay optimistic. Hug your kids a little longer; maybe spend a little more time praying that tomorrow would be a better day.

I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed. But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we CAN do something. With your help we will do something.

Now is the moment when we can stand up and say, “I’m an American. I make my destiny. And we deserve better! My children deserve better! My family deserves better. My country deserves better!”

So here we stand. Americans have a choice. A decision.

Next came some sentences I will omit, but one thing I want to quote is his words about George Romney, his father, who would (I believe) have made a great President but was deprived of that honor:

My dad had been born in Mexico and his family had to leave during the Mexican revolution. I grew up with stories of his family being fed by the US Government as war refugees. My dad never made it through college and apprenticed as a lath and plaster carpenter. And he had big dreams. He convinced my mom, a beautiful young actress, to give up Hollywood to marry him. He moved to Detroit, led a great automobile company and became Governor of the Great State of Michigan.

He was also clear to mention a group that has seemed reluctant to warm to him: women, to whom Obama has tried to appeal with his “war on women” language:

…When my mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way. I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, “Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?”

I wish she could have been here at the convention and heard leaders like Governor Mary Fallin, Governor Nikki Haley, Governor Susana Martinez, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

As Governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman Lt. Governor, a woman chief of staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials were women, and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies.

But the important point in his speech was the disappointment that many 2008 Obama supporters felt with their choice when he actually became President:

…How many days have you woken up feeling that something really special was happening in America?

Many of you felt that way on Election Day four years ago. Hope and Change had a powerful appeal. But tonight I'd ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama? You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.

The President hasn’t disappointed you because he wanted to. The President has disappointed America because he hasn’t led America in the right direction. He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.

And while President Obama has attacked Gov. Romney's Bain Capital years, Romney described the true story of Bain, including “a lot of happy retired [Episcopal] priests” who belong to a Bain-managed pension fund. And some of the companies, like “[a]n office supply company called Staples — where I'm pleased to see the Obama campaign has been shopping” and The Sports Authority, which might not be flourishing today if Bain had not supplied the seed money for them. He can honestly point to these, and concluded that part with his words:

These are American success stories. And yet the centerpiece of the President’s entire re-election campaign is attacking success. Is it any wonder that someone who attacks success has led the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression? In America, we celebrate success, we don't apologize for it.

He admitted that “[w]e weren’t always successful at Bain.” But he continued:

But no one ever is in the real world of business.

That’s what this President doesn’t seem to understand. Business and growing jobs is about taking risk, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always striving. It is about dreams. Usually, it doesn't work out exactly as you might have imagined. Steve Jobs was fired at Apple. He came back and changed the world.

And continuing to contrast our economic system with the socialistic ideas that influenced Barack Obama, he went on:

It’s the genius of the American free enterprise system — to harness the extraordinary creativity and talent and industry of the American people with a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today's.

That is why every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: "you are better off today than you were four years ago."

Except Jimmy Carter. And except this president.

That's a damning indictment. And by using the words “every president since the Great Depression,” he's comparing those two — Carter and Obama — not just to Republican presidents, but as well to Democrats like Bill Clinton. And so:

This president can ask us to be patient.

This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault.

This president can tell us that the next four years he’ll get it right.

But this president cannot tell us that YOU are better off today than when he took office.

And now Romney gets to the main point of the speech:

…Today the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us.

To put aside the divisiveness and the recriminations.

To forget about what might have been and to look ahead to what can be.

Now is the time to restore the Promise of America.

As has been the case throughout his campaign, he pointed to the main issue of 2012:

What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound. It doesn't take a special government commission to tell us what America needs.

What America needs is jobs.

Lots of jobs.

In the richest country in the history of the world, this Obama economy has crushed the middle class. Family income has fallen by $4,000, but health insurance premiums are higher, food prices are higher, utility bills are higher, and gasoline prices have doubled. Today more Americans wake up in poverty than ever before. Nearly one out of six Americans is living in poverty. Look around you. These are not strangers. These are our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans.

His policies have not helped create jobs, they have depressed them.

And of course, he pointed out, regarding the current President:

And this I can tell you about where President Obama would take America:

His plan to raise taxes on small business won't add jobs, it will eliminate them;

His assault on coal and gas and oil will send energy and manufacturing jobs to China;

His trillion dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and also put our security at greater risk;

His $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will both hurt today's seniors, and depress innovation — and jobs — in medicine.

And his trillion-dollar deficits will slow our economy, restrain employment, and cause wages to stall.

To the majority of Americans who now believe that the future will not be better than the past, I can guarantee you this: if Barack Obama is re-elected, you will be right.

The choice is clear. And Romney's call for renewal is clear:

I am running for president to help create a better future. A future where everyone who wants a job can find one. Where no senior fears for the security of their retirement. An America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon.

And unlike the President, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs. It has 5 steps.

First, by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.

Second, we will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.

Third, we will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements. And when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.

Fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish as have those in Greece, we will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.

And fifth, we will champion SMALL businesses, America’s engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Today, women are more likely than men to start a business. They need a president who respects and understands what they do.

And let me make this very clear — unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class.

There was more to this speech, but I think that the parts I have quoted are the key.

Paul Ryan's acceptance speech made some important points as well. The cutest quote is

After four years of getting the run-around, America needs a turnaround, and the man for the job is Governor Mitt Romney.

But he quickly gets to something I have noticed. A president with no record to boast of can only throw mud, or as Paul Ryan put it:

I have never seen opponents so silent about their record, and so desperate to keep their power.

They’ve run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they’ve got left.

With all their attack ads, the president is just throwing away money — and he’s pretty experienced at that. You see, some people can’t be dragged down by the usual cheap tactics, because their ability, character, and plain decency are so obvious — and ladies and gentlemen, that is Mitt Romney.

After some autobiographical notes which might be necessary, since Ryan is hardly known out of the Janesville, Wisconsin area, Congressman Ryan got to the meat of the speech, which, like Romney's, appealed to disaffected 2008 Obama voters:

When Governor Romney asked me to join the ticket, I said, “Let’s get this done” — and that is exactly, what we’re going to do.

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.

Now some people on Obama's team, including a governor, have said that Ryan was making something up — that that Janesville GM plant was already closed in 2008. But someone checked the facts: that plan was still making cars in 2009! So the plant that “will be here for another hundred years” closed in the early days of Obama's administration. Continuing, we come to a telling point:

So here’s the question: Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be any different from the last four years?

The first troubling sign came with the stimulus. It was President Obama’s first and best shot at fixing the economy, at a time when he got everything he wanted under one-party rule. It cost $831 billion — the largest one-time expenditure ever by our federal government.

It went to companies like Solyndra, with their gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs, and make-believe markets. The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.

What did the taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt. That money wasn’t just spent and wasted — it was borrowed, spent, and wasted.

Maybe the greatest waste of all was time. Here we were, faced with a massive job crisis — so deep that if everyone out of work stood in single file, that unemployment line would stretch the length of the entire American continent. You would think that any president, whatever his party, would make job creation, and nothing else, his first order of economic business.

But this president didn’t do that. Instead, we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care.

Obamacare comes to more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country.

The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled health care is over. That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare.

And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly.

You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.

And one of the points I've made about the way Obama robs Medicare in his budget is that, although it does not — there he is accurate — decrease Medicare benefits, it reduces payments to doctors, which would make them more likely to refuse taking Medicare patients: a point that may have helped to convince one undecided person I've heard of.

More appeal to those who might have supported Obama in the 2008 election soon followed:

Obamacare, as much as anything else, explains why a presidency that began with such anticipation now comes to such a disappointing close.

It began with a financial crisis; it ends with a job crisis.

It began with a housing crisis they alone didn’t cause; it ends with a housing crisis they didn’t correct.

It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.

It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new. Now all that’s left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind.

President Obama was asked not long ago to reflect on any mistakes he might have made. He said, well, “I haven’t communicated enough.” He said his job is to “tell a story to the American people” — as if that’s the whole problem here? He needs to talk more, and we need to be better listeners?

Ladies and gentlemen, these past four years we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What’s missing is leadership in the White House. And the story that Barack Obama does tell, forever shifting blame to the last administration, is getting old. The man assumed office almost four years ago — isn’t it about time he assumed responsibility?

There is one important point: Obama still, 3½ years after taking office, tries to blame the previous administration for all that is wrong with our economy. He has had 3½ years to fix it; what has he done? Not much! But Ryan offers a promise, on behalf of the Romney-Ryan ticket:

The present administration has made its choices. And Mitt Romney and I have made ours: Before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all, we are going to solve this nation’s economic problems.

And I’m going to level with you: We don’t have that much time. But if we are serious, and smart, and we lead, we can do this.

After four years of government trying to divide up the wealth, we will get America creating wealth again. With tax fairness and regulatory reform, we’ll put government back on the side of the men and women who create jobs, and the men and women who need jobs.

Some have argued that, if Mitt Romney believes that business experience is a sine qua non for the Presidency, and this is the cause of Obama's being unsuited to the office, why did he pick Paul Ryan, who never was in business himself? But Ryan at least has been up close to someone in business, and knows what it takes to run one:

My Mom started a small business, and I’ve seen what it takes. Mom was 50 when my Dad died. She got on a bus every weekday for years, and rode 40 miles each morning to Madison. She earned a new degree and learned new skills to start her small business. It wasn’t just a new livelihood. It was a new life. And it transformed my Mom from a widow in grief to a small businesswoman whose happiness wasn’t just in the past. Her work gave her hope. It made our family proud. And to this day, my Mom is my role model.

Reminding us of Obama's snotty “you didn't build that” remark, he continues:

Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores — these didn’t come out of nowhere. A lot of heart goes into each one. And if small businesspeople say they made it on their own, all they are saying is that nobody else worked seven days a week in their place. Nobody showed up in their place to open the door at five in the morning. Nobody did their thinking, and worrying, and sweating for them. After all that work, and in a bad economy, it sure doesn’t help to hear from their president that government gets the credit. What they deserve to hear is the truth: Yes, you did build that.

And I think a major part of Ryan's speech is the following:

President Obama is the kind of politician who puts promises on the record, and then calls that the record. But we are four years into this presidency. The issue is not the economy as Barack Obama inherited it, not the economy as he envisions it, but this economy as we are living it.

College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life. Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here and now. And I hope you understand this too, if you’re feeling left out or passed by: You have not failed, your leaders have failed you.

None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers — a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.

By themselves, the failures of one administration are not a mandate for a new administration. A challenger must stand on his own merits. He must be ready and worthy to serve in the office of president.

And with these words, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have made me happy to support their fight to take over the government. I hope enough people vote for these two men in November that next January we will see them take the oaths of office as President and Vice-President.