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.

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.

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.

No comments: