Friday, January 28, 2011

Rand Paul Wants To Cut Foreign Aid To Israel

Rand Paul has stirred up some controversy by suggesting that America eliminates its foreign aid to all nations including Israel. 
Although every "option" is on the table in terms of reducing the debt, we should be talking about the one and only one reason why America is going broke: ENTITLEMENT spending. 
Social programs makes up the largest bulk of America's government spending as indicated in the pie chart below: 

Not only does the "mandatory" (entitlement) spending dwarfs all other money spent on other domestic programs, entitlement spending will keep growing as our  population gets bigger and older every year. The CBO just released a report about the financial future of entitlement spending and shows how the growing elderly population will have an effect on expenses over the next 10 years:
The CBO also provides a chart for the offsetting receipts:
If you don't understand the charts, the basic conclusion is that entitlement spending programs are set to run annual deficits starting this year until it is completely drained in 2037. Not only are entitlement programs are due to run in the red this year, but entitlement programs are set to consume all tax  revenues by 2052 as indicated by the chart below:
Which brings me back to my point about the talk about reducing the deficit. Cutting all other domestic and foreign programs will not resolve our debt problem. You could slash every domestic program and foreign aid to zero and we’d still be in debt. How is that possible? Look below: 
The idea of putting all "options" on the table is meaningless unless our Congress is serious about dealing with entitlement reform. Various presidential administrations and Congressional sessions have been cutting back on programs, including defense programs, in our nation's history and it still didn't make a dent in the reducing the national debt
As a result, entitlement reform should be the ONLY option on the table given all the facts above.  
However, we both know that entitlement programs will be the last program on the chopping block. All three branches of our government, for one reason or another, is enamored with entitlement programs.
There another reason why we'll never get entitlement reform or eliminating entitlement programs completely: Americans love their entitlement programs. Even TEA partiers who want entitlement reform support the idea so long as its other people’s benefits getting cut and not theirs. 
Yes, the government is part of the problem due to its reluctance to deal with the one and only issue that threatens the financial stability of this nation. But the other source of the problem is the American people. 
We’re too dependent on entitlements now.
Unless Americans are willing to let go of their own entitlement checks, Congress will have no motivation to act on reform or elimination of entitlement spending.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mitt Romney And The New Hampshire Tea Party

There was much speculation about Mitt Romney being in trouble in New Hampshire even before the 2012 elections have begun due because hadn't met with a few influential leaders of the New Hampshire Tea Party: 
New Hampshire Tea Party movement activist Andrew Hemingway is not lacking in contact with likely presidential candidates. He’s talked hockey with Tim Pawlenty. He sat down with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum at the Concord Country Club. And plans are in the works for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to appear before a group of Hemingway’s fellow conservatives. 
A notable exception among the field of would-be GOP presidential contenders? Mitt Romney. 
“Romney for the most part is inaccessible,’’ said Hemingway, a Bristol resident who is chairman of the state’s Republican Liberty Caucus. “Pawlenty, I could call him right now and say, ‘Let’s have coffee.’ ’’
The idea that Mitt Romney was not accessible is not true. 
Not only was Mitt Romney accessible but he was incredibly active in that state. He endorsed 33 New Hampshire Candidates and donated a total of $40,000 to the various candidates during the 2010 midterm election. Moreover, he gave an address at the Republican Party convention
As a result of Mitt Romney's efforts in that state, it shouldn't be a surprise that the former Massachusetts governor won the first ever New Hampshire Republican GOP straw poll. Not only did Mitt Romney win the straw poll, but he won the straw poll by a large margin. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone since his victory has been consistent with several polls showing Mitt Romney recieving a wide margin of support in that state. 
A PPP poll taken in September 17th 2010 showed that not only was Mitt ahead in the polls in New Hampshire but that he took the lead in support among Tea Party members: 
"Meanwhile, Mitt Romney continues to look like the overwhelming early favorite for the 2012 Republican primary in New Hampshire, the second state in the presidential coronation process.
He leads with 41% to 12% for Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, 10% for Mike Huckabee, 8% for Ron Paul, 5% for Tim Pawlenty, and 2% for Mitch Daniels.
"The best news in the poll for Romney is that at least in New Hampshire he has a strong advantage with every different faction of the party," PPP said.
"With voters who identify themselves as Tea Party members he leads Palin 36-18. He also has a 29-18 advantage over her with people who think the GOP’s too liberal. At the same time he’s up 47-15 on Gingrich with people who think the party’s just fine ideologically and he leads Ron Paul 47-10 with moderates," it noted.
With Romney leading the race in New Hampshire, the polling firm speculates some presidential candidates may ignore New Hampshire and focus their resources on other states where they may have a chance to see their standing improve, such as Iowa, South Carolina and Florida."
On November 3rd 2010, CNN conducted a poll and found Mitt Romney with a substantial lead over his potential 2010 competitors. Less than a week later, PPP released another poll on November 9th, 2010 showing Mitt Romney receiving 40% of the vote among New Hampshire voters. More recently on January 6, 2011, a survey commissioned by the NH Journal and conducted by Magellan Strategies showed that Mitt Romney still maintained a substantial lead over his competitors in that state. 
In contrast, Sarah Palin, hasn't been very active in New Hampshire:
That’s because in all of her travels since the 2008 election – during the midterm campaign and across two expansive book tours – the former Alaska governor has not once set foot in the first-in-the-nation primary state. And residents have noticed.
In fact, many Tea Partiers in New Hampshire feel that she's intentionally snubbing the state: 
Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, sees New Hampshire’s omission from Palin’s schedule as a deliberate political choice and argues: “This isn’t by accident. … They’ve made a decision not to come to New Hampshire, and people have noticed.”
“Palin is almost being mocked, openly, by a lot of observers for the extent to which she has ignored New Hampshire and pretends it doesn’t exist,” Cullen said. “People crack jokes about it — political reporters, elected officials. Not just staff, not just activists.”
The idea that Mitt Romney doesn't have the support of Tea Partiers is not true. The straw poll combined with the various polls conducted by various polling firms clearly show that Mitt Romney has the support of a wide range of conservatives in New Hampshire. In a state where the state GOP leader is a Tea Partier and the Tea Party movement is strong, Mitt cannot be simply pegged as an "establishment" candidate. He's also a Tea Partier too.
There's an important political lesson to be drawn here. Simply meeting with "influential" leaders is not enough to win a poll or an election. Relying on your political star power is insufficient in winning an election. And visiting a particular state a few times isn't going to cut it either. 
People want to see a candidate who has a sincere interest in the political affairs of their state. They want to see a politician who is willing to roll up their sleeves and help conservative politicians win at the ballot box at all levels of government. They want to see the candidate come to conventions, rallies and fundraisers. They want to shake hands with them and briefly chat with him.
That's why isn't just an establishment candidate or a Tea Party candidate. Regular conservatives, Independents, and even moderate liberals like Mitt Romney. The reason why he has such a broad appeal is because he would rather meet with ordinary like minded people than meet with "influential" leaders of a political group or organization.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Senator...Meg Whitman!?

 There's some of talk about Meg Whitman possibly making a comeback in the 2012 elections:
"Meg Whitman has said little about her failed gubernatorial bid in California last year — a race that cost her a record-breaking $141 million of her own cash.
But as the former eBay chief prepares to make her first speech since losing the election, "several in the know" tell the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci that Whitman is aiming for a political comeback — and soon.
While a Whitman spokesman says there's "nothing to announce," early speculation is that Whitman might run for the U.S. Senate seat of Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who is up for re-election in 2012.
But the first step to a comeback may be for Whitman to publicly admit that her gubernatorial campaign went less smoothly than she hoped — something she doesn't yet appear to be ready to do. As Marinucci notes, Whitman is set to give two speeches in coming weeks, both of which are closed to the press."
If Meg Whitman decides to make a run against Senator Feinstein, it won't be an easy road for her. Carly Fiorina, another successful business woman, was unable to unseat Barbra Boxer. I expect Senator Feinstein to use the same strategies that Boxer did against Fiornia and use the same tactics against Meg Whitman.
If she does run, can she defeat Barbra Boxer? 
I hope she can.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Did Ronald Reagan have Alzheimers While In Office?

Ronald Reagan's son, Ron Reagan, has recently published a memoir about his father titled, "My Father at 100: A Memoir."  The book has caused quite a stir in the media and among conservatives because in his book, he claims that his Dad had Alzheimers as early as during the 1984 Presidential elections
He describes how his father became uncharacteristically lost for words and looked "bewildered" during the 1984 presidential debates with Walter Mondale.

He says his father may have suspected Alzheimer's in 1986 when he was flying over familiar canyons north of Los Angeles and could no longer remember their names.

In 1989, the year of Ronald Reagan's leaving office, doctors operating on him after he was thrown from a horse while visiting friends in Mexico opened the president’s skull to relieve pressure.

They "detected what they took to be probable signs of Alzheimer’s disease." But no formal diagnosis was given.
Ron claims that Ronald Reagan had Alzheimers during his presidency has been floating around every since he left office. In 1997, three  years after Ronald Reagan announced that he had the disease, all four of the White House doctors during Reagan's Presidency said Ronald Reagan never developed Alzheimer's while in office. Furthermore, Alzheimer’s specialists have consistently been debunking this myth as well. 
Ron's son is just the latest person to bring up the old accusation all over again. However, Ronald Reagan could not have had Alzheimers at the time his son, Ron, claims he did. US News clearly shows that his claims do not add up to the facts
My family had the special opportunity to meet him approximately a year after he left office. You can see our family photo with Ronald Reagan below: 
My family with Ronald Reagan.  I'm the handsome red head in the picture.
While I'm not a medical specialist, based on my memory of meeting with him, it did not appear to me that he had Alzheimer's. I was young at the time when I met him but I recall that he he was alert and attentive when he conversed with us. He walked around the room with no trouble. He told us a few funny stories about life as a President. If he had it, I didn't see it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mitt Romney Congratulates New RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

Mitt Romney released a statement today giving support for our new RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
“I congratulate Reince Priebus on his election as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and I look forward to working with him to advance our commonsense conservative agenda. The months and years ahead hold high stakes and tremendous opportunities for our party and our country. I have no doubt that Reince’s leadership will be invaluable as Republicans work to reduce the burden of government on families and job creators, get Washington’s reckless spending and debt under control, and put Americans back to work.”
I'm sure that Mitt Romney is pleased that Michael Steele will no longer be the Chairman of the RNC given his statement about Mitt Romney's faith. Not only has he alienated a high profile Republican candidates seeking office, but he's also alienated alot of high profile donors due to the fact that he was afraid to pick up the phone and ask for donations. As a result, Michael Steele has left the GOP with a $20 million deficit.
With a new RNC chairman, the GOP can start with a new fresh air and rebuild its relationship with donors, members, politicians and the general public that was left in tatters by Michael Steele.
Mr. Priebus, you have a lot of work ahead of you but I'm confident you can do it! 

GOP Will Elect New Party Chairman Today

Today, the GOP will vote on who will be the leader of the RNC. Michael Steele, who is seeking reelection to a second term, has four strong challengers fighting for the Chairmanship: 
--Reince Priebus, the Wisconsin Republican Party chairman who ran Steele's chairmanship bid in 2009. He broke with Steele to run against him and has the backing of several GOP insiders. Priebus argues that fixing the RNC's finances is a top priority; critics accuse him of ignoring the money problem when he was close to Steele.
--Maria Cino, a New York native and a veteran party operative who served in the Bush administration and was a top planner of the 2008 Republican nominating convention. She has cast herself as a turn-around specialist when it comes to fixing troubled national party organizations.
--Ann Wagner, a former Missouri state GOP chair who was an RNC co-chairwoman from 2001 to 2005 and was once an ambassador under George W. Bush. She argues that the RNC is broken and needs to completely re-evaluate how it operates.
--Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party who lost to Steele two years ago. Savvy with social networking, Anuzis argues that the RNC must be competitive on the technology front to have a chance at toppling Obama.
Michael Steele has made a alot of errors in during his role has Chairman of the GOP. The one that bugs me the most was his comments about Mitt Romney:
"Remember, it was the base that rejected Mitt because of his switch on pro-life, from pro-choice to pro-life," Steele told the caller. "It was the base that rejected Mitt because it had issues with Mormonism. It was the base that rejected Mitt because they thought he was back and forth and waffling on those very economic issues you're talking about."
And while Steele's analysis is correct for why Mitt Romney lost, he should have kept that to himself rather than state it publicly. The GOP Chairman should not be tearing down high profile Republicans seeking political office. Moreover, accusing people within the Republican party of being religious bigots is shows poor leadership. People should look to the RNC Chair as the person who seeks to build up the party, the people and find ways to reduce animosity towards one another. 
Of course, Michael Steele offered an apology for his statement towards Mitt Romney: 
"The head of the Republican Party said Tuesday he regrets the public interpretation of comments in which he said the GOP voted against Mitt Romney last year in part because he was a Mormon. "Chairman Steele regrets the way his comments have been interpreted," Republican National Committee spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement. "Chairman Steele believes Mitt Romney is a respected and influential voice in the Republican Party and looks to his leadership and ideas to help move our party and nation in the right direction." 
Comments towards Mitt Romney isn't the only indiscretion he's committed. He's has been unable to raise sufficient funds for the GOP, financial mismanagement and paying for outrageous things like a fundraiser at a well known strip club in Los Angeles. 
Michael Steele must go. And in all likelihood, he will be unseated and we will have a new GOP chairman.

Update: The new RNC Chair of the GOP is Reince Priebus.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Welfare State Is The #1 Leading Killer Of Modern Nations

In modern history, the #1 killer of modern nations is the welfare state. The concept of the welfare state exists in many different forms such as Nazism, Socialism, Communism, or Progressivism. The common theme among the different variations of the welfare state is that it always fails in the end. Even states that attempt to mix different economic systems cannot survive long since it will be corrupted by its own welfare programs. 
The welfare state is a failure both in theory and application. It produces misery in so many different forms. It can come in the form of brutality, oppression, poverty, death, and misery as demonstrated by former Communist Russia, China, Eastern Europe, Cuba and North Korea.

It can also come in the form of reducing human beings to immature children as the nanny state looks to their every need and want. As a result, it robs human beings of the ability to be free to make decisions for himself. Immanuel Kant explains the tragedy of the welfare state:
"It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them (including the entire fair sex) regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult. Having first made their domestic livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile creatures will not take a single step without the go-cart to which they are harnessed, these guardians then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone. Now this danger is not actually so great, for after falling a few times they would in the end certainly learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes men timid and usually frightens them out of all further attempts.
Thus, it is difficult for any individual man to work himself out of the immaturity that has all but become his nature. He has even become fond of this state and for the time being is actually incapable of using his own understanding, for no one has ever allowed him to attempt it. Rules and formulas, those mechanical aids to the rational use, or rather misuse, of his natural gifts, are the shackles of a permanent immaturity."
However, the fundamental flaw of the welfare state is that it violates the immutable mathematical or economic laws of the universe. The philosophically behind the welfare is complete failure because it thinks it can overcome the inflexible rules of  nature. As a result, the welfare state is a story that never ends well. 

Marget Thatcher famously quipped that the "the problem with socialism is you run out of other people's money.” In other words, the ultimate fate of all welfare states is financial death. Whenever government extracts money from one segment of society and gives it to another segment of society, it is ultimately bound to fall. A blogger known as Ace explains why:  
As in France, we have let an enormous segment of our population -- perhaps as much as half -- fall into a state where they depend on government largesse for a substantial part of their income. This is not money they earned themselves, not wages or savings, but rather money squeezed from the more productive half of the country. Half of our citizens pay no income taxes at all. An increasing number will draw public-sector pensions, Social Security, and medical insurance (Medicare/Medicaid) in amounts that far exceed what they contributed to those plans. Half of the US population, in short, lives not by the fruits of their own toil but by the (coerced) charity of others, as filtered and distilled through the hand of the government. This can not -- it can not, by the laws of economics and simple physics -- continue. The mathematics of the problem trump even philosophical issues of fairness, of governance, of ethics or law. The mathematics simply will not allow it.
In other words, entitlement programs are mathematically unsustainable. Governments cannot get around the immutable laws of economics and mathematics. Period. Why? Ace provides the answer:
It is not wrong to wish that every citizen have free health care, free food, free housing, and some money to spend even if they have no job. It's not wrong; it's just impossible. Health care is a service that has huge costs associated with it. These costs cannot be "magicked" away just because we find them inconvenient. Food must be grown, transported, packaged, and prepared -- all costs that must be accounted for. Shelter does not precipitate out of thin air. We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that "the government" can provide these things to us at no cost, because "the government" must pay for these things just as individuals do, and because the government has only one source of wealth -- the citizens -- that's where it must go for the money. So if Bob is given 'free' health care, 'free' food, and a 'free' apartment, the government isn't paying for it; Tom, Jane, Howard, and Sue are paying for it. And at a vastly inflated cost due to the innate governmental inefficiency that dilutes every dollar that passes through their hands. Soon the social welfare costs eat up the money intended for good and necessary governmental expenditures like the military, the police, and infrastructure. Social welfare becomes a beast that eats everything.
America would do well to understand how that story ends.  Just as prophets who came to Jerusalem to warn its inhabitants of imminent dangers were ignored in Jerusalem, I fear that many of those voices who warn of imminent financial dangers are being ignored today.
Europe: The Canary In The Coal Mine
However, one doesn't have to receive messages from a heavenly source or be a financial wizard to know that America is on a dangerous course to financial collapse. We don't even need to look to the past or the future to see what might happen to us. All we have to do is look across the ocean to Europe. And we've been seeing the warning signs for a long time. 
Take a look at the chart on the right side of this article. It is a long list of government debt held by each European country. 

In 2008, Iceland was the first European nation to financially collapse. Greece almost fell until it received a bailout from other European nations. Ireland is also on the edge of a financial collapse and is looking for a bailout from Europe. Other countries like Spain, Portugal, France and England are also struggling with debt and may be next in line to need a bailout or face a financial meltdown. 

Europe is quickly realizing socialist programs do not work. They are finding that they must slay the entitlement beast by enacting austerity measures if they wish to survive. Which is why nations around the world are scrambling to reduce their debts. England is making huge budget cuts which have not been done since World War II while France faced some riots when Nicolas Sarkozy reformed the state's pension system and is working to reduce its debt. Voters in Latvia voted to reelect their government that cut public-sector workers' pay by 50 percent.

Another consequence of Europe's debt due to massive government programs and financial irresponsibility is that their credit rating gets down graded. Countries like France and Ireland have either had their credit rating lowered or are under threat of having their credit rating lowered by Moody’s Investors Service.

Even countries outside of Europe are recognizing that the welfare state is unsustainable. Especially the few countries who remain communist today.  Cuba is recognizing that its communist system is financially unsustainable. North Korea is flirting with capitalism since this welfare state cannot feed its own people. Those countries that have not engaged in financial reform are alive only because of brutal totalitarianism and outside economic assistance. For example, Communist Russia would not have lasted as long as it did had United States provided economic and agricultural assistance. 

The Economic Crisis In America  
What does Europe have to to with America's debt crisis? Well, the common denominator in Europe's financial woes is that each country was spending more money than they had on social programs. And that same problem that exists in Europe is the same problem that exists here in America.

Judd Gregg (R-Nh) is merely another voice who has raised concerns about the U.S. spending and how it contributes to the increasing U.S. deficit. He has recently stated that the financial future of the United States looks grim unless makes major changes in its spending habits:
Chief among Gregg's concerns is the massive deficit under which the U.S. is currently operating. Gregg says the economy is on an "unsustainable track" that, if continued at its current pace, "will double the federal debt in five years, and triple it in 10 years." Gregg compared financial problems here in the U.S. to those Greece is currently having, noting that while the U.S. is a "more vibrant nation, we are still on the exact same track" as the troubled country when it comes to finances.
Gregg insists we need to cut spending, especially as the nation gets ready to take on "70 million retirees" as opposed to the "35 million retirees" the U.S. is currently sustaining via Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs. 
In other words, the financial story of America will not end well unless we do something about it.  Social programs makes up the largest bulk of America's government spending as indicated in the pie chart below: 
No nation, business or family can survive financially when almost 60% of its budget is going  paying mandatory bills. If America does not find the will or courage to touch the third rail of American politics and either reduce or eliminate its entitlement spending, we will collapse financially. 

Any other budget cut  for another other program will not solve the problem. Even if you did cut all other programs, including the military, our nation will still be in debt due to our irrational commitment to entitlement programs. Why? Because if enlistment spending is left unchecked, it will become the beast that will consume all of our available finances at some point in the future as seen in the chart below:
Today, Moody's has expressed concern about our debt and may have to down grade our credit rating. Which is very bad news for America. As I said, we don't have to look into a crystal ball for what happens if we loose our credit rating because we were unable to get our entitlement spending under control. All we have to do is look to Europe.
Some people feel that we are witnessing the end of the welfare state in Europe and round the world as governments make a mad dash to avoid financial collapse. However, that remains to be seen. It could go either way. Some states will insist on maintaining the entitlement state while others will ditch it altogether.  
But a choice has to be made: either the entitlement programs die or the entitlement state dies. 
And there is no middle ground. Mix economies eventually fail too since they eventually morph into a welfare state and then its only a matter of time before they are on their way to financial collapse. In the end, they all collapse because the very programs that they use to support the people can no longer support the state.
America risks falling into same sad story of welfare states. The important question for America is whether or not we can let the story be written for us or do we dare to change the story? How do you want the great American story to end?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

On Politics, Violence and Crosshairs

The tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has set off a fierce debate about the rise of violent language and images in our nation's political discourse. Many people, such as Rep. Raul Grijalva, have blamed Sarah Palin for the tragedy because during the 2010 midterm elections, the former Alaskan governor placed the democratic Senator on a "hit list" as a "target" to be "taken out" as evidenced by gun cross hairs placed on her district: 
However, Sarah Palin wasn't the only person who made "targets" during the 2010 midterm elections. The liberal website, the "Daily Kos" published a map of archery bullseyes: 
This isn't a "tu quoque" defense of Sarah Palin's picture but a simple point that both parties and ideologies use some kind of "targeting" image to motivate their followers into political action and defeat the political candidate at the ballot box. Conservatives put out "most wanted" playing cards that are very similar to the playing cards distributed by the United States military  to indicate which members of Saddam Hussein’s government they wanted dead or alive. Liberals also did the same thing with playing cards as well even though they didn't attach instructions to the playing cards. 
It even occurs in the media's coverage of political news. Listen to a journalist named Howard Kurts as he admits that the media is not exempt from the use of such rhetoric:
Let's be honest: Journalists often use military terminology in describing campaigns. We talk about the air war, the bombshells, targeting politicians, knocking them off, candidates returning fire or being out of ammunition. So we shouldn't act shocked when politicians do the same thing. Obviously, Palin should have used dots or asterisks on her map. But does anyone seriously believe she was trying to incite violence?
Its hard to tell where such rhetoric is just rhetoric or when such rhetoric crosses into dangerous territory. What should be done when a politician like Congressman Paul Kanjorski, the Pennsylvania Democrat, thinks that the newly elected Governor of Florida should be shot?
"That Scott down there that's running for governor of Florida," Mr. Kanjorski said. "Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him [sic] and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he's running for governor of Florida. He's a millionaire and a billionaire. He's no hero. He's a damn crook. It's just we don't prosecute big crooks."
How do you feel about President Obama telling his supporters this during the 2008 presidential campaign? 
“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night. “Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”
Are such comments merely political rhetoric or a real call to action?  The truth is that the use of violent images and rhetoric has been occurring throughout political history in America and in other countries around the world. Sometimes these statements are nothing more than words. Other times they are a real call to action in which people really do engage in violence to achieve their political goals. 
Please understand that I'm not justifying or supporting the use of such rhetoric on either side of the political isle. All I'm saying is that this has been going on for a long time and it will continue for a long time in the future. It is an effective tool for politicians and political groups because by depicting politics as a bloodless war and using violent rhetoric is an effective tactic on getting their base motivated and focused on a singular goal. 
Personally, I don't find that that Sarah Palin's use of cross hairs or the Daily Kos' use of archery bullseyes as contributing to the tragedy in Arizona. Its just political rhetoric. That's all. Neither side actually encourages violence and most people understand that because they know they just want to get people into the voting both. 
The only thing that has me confused here is that people are blaming conservatives for the violent rhetoric. There are facts indicating that the alleged killer, Jared Loughner, was a far left liberal who was mentally unstable:

Even if those who thinks Sarah Palin's target advertisement somehow contributed to the shooting in Arizona are correct, it doesn't make sense when it was a far left person who killed a moderate or conservative democratic senator. If the people in the twitter page are correct about the killer's political leanings, its hard to see how conservative rhetoric would explain the liberal on liberal violence here.But then again, politics may have nothing to do with the tragedy. The shooter may have been motivated by anti-semitism.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Will America Get The Change They're Looking For?

Americans are still in search of change. 
They wanted change in 2008. And Obama ran his campaign based on the promise of bringing hope and change to America. But it wasn't merely change that Obama promised to bring to our country, but a "fundamental transformation of the United States of America." However, Americans realized that the change Obama promised was not the change that they were wanted. As a result, the American people voted for change again in the 2010 midterm elections. 
This time, it was American people's turn to fundamentally transform America. And boy, the change was big. How big? For starters, lets look at what happened on the national level. Americans gave the republicans their largest victory of the House since 1948 and even was an even bigger wave the 1994 midterm elections. This allowed the Republicans to regain control of the House. By gaining 63 seats in the House of Representatives, they are now in the majority. 
Obtaining control over the House is a big change, no doubt. However, the real fundamental change is how much power the American people took away from the Democrats in Washington D.C.: 
"Republicans defeat three major committee chairmen and at least seven lawmakers who claimed 20 years' seniority or more in Congress.Democrats have already shed 376 years of congressional experience, and that could go as high as 430 years if five other Democrats lose races in which returns show they are trailing."
Not only did the American people make a fundamental change at the national level, but also made a drastic change at the state and local level
At the gubernatorial level the GOP now controls 29 governorships compared to just 19 for the Democrats. Republicans also picked up 680 seats in state legislatures, the highest figure in the modern era according to figures provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures."
Consider how significant these changes are
The North Carolina Legislature is Republican for the first time since 1870. Yes, that is Eighteen Seventy.
The Alabama Legislature is Republican for the first time since 1876.
For those saying this is nothing because it is the South, consider these:
The entire Wisconsin and New Hampshire legislatures have flipped to the GOP by wide margins.
The State Houses in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Montana, and Colorado flipped to the GOP.
The Maine and Minnesota Senates flipped to the GOP.
With the American voters giving the Republican party major victories at national, state and local levels, they also made a fundamental change in America's future. Republicans now control all national and state levels of the redistricting process. Why is this significant? Well, here's a good explanation:
Following each once-a-decade census, the nation must reapportion the House’s 435 districts to make them roughly equal in population, with each state getting at least one seat.
That “redistricting” will likely favor  the GOP this year, which as the ruling House party has the power to draw new congressional district lines.
Because of the census, Texas will gain four new House seats, and Florida will gain two. Gaining one each are Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.
Ohio and New York will lose two House seats each. Losing one House seat are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Florida will now have as many U.S. House members as New York: 27. California will still have 53 seats, and Texas will climb to 36.
What does that mean? Republican leaning states will get more representatives in Congress which means that the Republicans can get even more seats in House This is bad news for the Democrats because all 10 states losing House seats have Democratic registration advantages. What this means is that because the Republicans are in power at the state and federal level, they can redraw the district boundaries so that they retain the advantage in elections for many years to come and thereby solidifying their hold in state wide and national legislative Houses for a long time in the future. This means that the Republicans will have deep and long lasting power for ten years or more.
With Americans clearly rejecting the kind of change Obama envisioned for America and making a fundamental and long lasting conservative transformation of the United States of America, its safe to say that America are looking for conservative solutions to the most pressing issues of our day. 
The question is, will America get the change they want?
Tomorrow morning, change will occur. America will have a new Congress. The old 111th Congress will now be a sad chapter in our nation's history as it will be viewed as the most financially irresponsible Congress has ever had. Will the new 112th Congress be able to make the changes the voters wanted in 2010? 
That remains to be seen as conservatives squabble with each other on whether or not Congress should raise the debt ceiling and GOP freshmen hold lavish parties despite the fact that House Speaker John Boehner promises to be a frugal leader.  
Obama doesn't think the new 112th Congress will not ultimately give the Americans the change they want because they will "play to their base for a certain period of time" before going back to politics as usual. 
What do you think? Will Americans will get the change they want or is Obama correct that the Republicans are doing it for show?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Which Mormon Will Run In 2012?

Newsweek Magazine has article about Mormon politician who may or may not be considering a presidential run in 2012. No, it is not Mitt Romney. Its  John Hunstman Jr., the current U.S. Ambassador to China and former governor of Utah. Whether he will run or not is up for debate. However, the Newsweek article suggests that he might actually run: 
The winking response—about as close to a hat-in-ring announcement as you’ll get from a sitting member of the incumbent’s administration—could just be a hollow cry for attention. But sources close to Huntsman (who requested anonymity to speak freely without his permission) say that during his December trip to the U.S., he met with several former political advisers in Washington and Salt Lake City to discuss a potential campaign. “I’m not saying he’s running,” says one supporter who has worked with him in the past. “But we’re a fire squad; if he says the word, we can get things going fast.”
The idea of having another Mormon besides Mitt Romney running in 2012 would certainly make the upcoming Presidential election more interesting, especially if  these two candidates battle each other as they attempt to secure the Republican nomination. 
There's a good reasons to expect tension between these two men. Jon Huntsman Jr. chose to endorse John McCain rather than Mitt Romney in the 2008 election. While both might be members of the same faith and are seen by some as "moderate" Republicans, they don't necessarily see eye to eye on the same issues. If Romney and Huntsman Jr. do run in 2012, it would be interesting to see them debate each other in the Republican primary debates. However, the biggest fight between them will probably occur as they court  the same movers and shakers for political and financial support, especially among Mormons who have cash to give. 
One obstacle for both of them will be the fact that they are both members of the LDS Church, natch. However, they both have different approaches in how they plan to  explain their faith to the American voter. 
"There are just some people for whom it will not be settled," Romney recently told the Boston Globe. "That's just the nature of who we are as a people. A lot of people have differing views."
Huntsman, seen as a less-likely candidate after his appointment by Democratic President Barack Obama last year, appears to be taking a different tack.
In a recent Fortune magazine interview that appeared on, his Mormon credentials were described as "soft," unlike his more devout family. His father, Jon Huntsman Sr., is an Area Seventy in the LDS Church.
The former governor noted in the interview that his children attend Catholic schools, and his adopted daughters come from different religious cultures, one Buddhist, the other Hindu.
"I can't say I am overly religious," Huntsman is quoted as saying in the interview, which refers to his consideration of a 2012 run. "I get satisfaction from many different types of religions and philosophies."
It disappoints me that a candidate's faith is such a hot button issue with many voters, especially as the 2012 election starts to heat up. People should realize by now that a candidate's religious affiliation is secondary to a candidate’s qualifications, political positions and vision for America.
Mitt Romney has already addressed this issue before since he gave a well received speech about his faith at the George Bush Presidential Library during the 2008 election. I don't think he should have to explain his faith to people again. Neither should Jon Huntsman Jr. The fact that any candidate would have to explain his faith is so is so bothersome to me. 
JFK had to give a speech about his Catholic faith at the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960.In that speech, he gives warning to those who would seek to make a candidate's faith a political issue in a campaign: 
"For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew--or a Quaker--or a Unitarian--or a Baptist...Today I may be the victim--but tomorrow it may be you--until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril."
What JFK essentially saying is that the Golden Rule applies to politics too. If Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, Bhuddists, Mormons or members of a certain faith don't like having their faith being made into an issue, then they shouldn't do it to others because one day their faith will be made an issue too. And while a candidate's faith, say like being an Evangelical, may not be a concern for Americans now, it might very well be an issue in the future.
The idea that someone's faith is a political issue runs against everything America stands for.
Our country was founded on religious diversity. Many of the early colonies were created as havens for various religious faiths. Virginia was created as a legal colony whose official state religion was the Church of England while Maryland was created as a place for Catholics come to when they immigrated to America.   William Penn created Pennsylvania as a  haven for Quakers. Massachusetts was founded by the Puritans. 
Our Founding Fathers came from various different religious backgrounds and when they were in the process of creating this nation, they specifically wanted religion to play a role in public life but they also wanted to prevent the federal government from endorsing a specific denomination or sect. As intelligent and observant students of history, they were quite aware of the consequences of religious conflicts in Europe. As a result, inserted article six into the Constitution which banned the use of religious tests for political office. Shortly thereafter, the founding fathers created the Bill of Rights which contains the well known 1st Amendment. Although, the federal Constitution originally applied to the federal government, many states were free to endorse a religion in their own state constitutions.
In deciding who is the best candidate, its values that matter, not theology that matters. This is an important fact for everyone to remember, especially the religious right. For example, Harry Reid is Mormon, but I would never vote for him since he doesn't reflect my values. On the other hand, I could support Romney or Huntsman Jr., not because they are of my faith but because of their values.
The Founding Fathers understood that values was more important than theology in politics. Despite the fact that the Founding Fathers came from a variety of different religious backgrounds; they all shared the same  values even though they may have had disagreements over theological issues with one another.
In the end, I really don’t care if a Conservative candidate is Jewish, Buddhist, LDS, Catholic, Zoroastrians, Protestant, Hindu, Evangelical, or of some other faith. I care more about their qualifications, political positions and their plan for our country’s future.And you should too.