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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LDS Diplomats for the United States

I have a handy issue of BYU Magazine here, with a feature article about alumni (Mormons) serving in the foreign service. I do know or know of a handful of Mormon diplomats myself! You can read the text of  A Diplomatic Life for yourself. But here's what I found interesting, in light of what it says about the people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"A current of alumni runs through the ranks that staff 265 U.S. embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions around the globe. Numbers aren't tracked officially, but anecdotally the State Department BYU is among the top 10 alma maters of Foreign Service officers."

"Amy Hyatt, a former diplomat in residence for Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, says there's a high percentage of candidates from BYU who speak foreign languages - and they speak them well. 'It's not just that they've learned them in school.... They've lived in those environments, so they really know the nuances, the idioms,' says Hyatt."
She is referring to LDS returned missionaries, men and women who have served the Lord by preaching the gospel for 18 months or 2 years. They can be assigned (by the prophet) to almost anywhere in the world, barring some countries forbidding proselyting.

This is the conclusion below.

" 'The only thing I believe in as fundamentally as the gospel is democracy and civic participation,' says Woodward [diplomat]. 'The opportunity to help people understand the value and blessings - and the responsibilities - of living in a democratic country was almost a missionary-like experience.'
"Such motives underlie the work of BYU alumni in the Foreign Service - and outside observers take note.
"In her tenure as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice says she probably worked alongside Beecroft [LDS], her executive assistant, more than anyone else. She describes a commonality among him, others she's known from BYU, and the LDS community at large, a 'sense of how you go out into the world to serve - that what you learn and your intellectual pursuits are not just to be hoarded internally but are really to go out into the world. That's how I would characterize people I've known from BYU.' "

Condi is right. The BYU motto is "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve." I'm not trying to say anything about Mitt Romney here, just so you know. But, it may apply to him in his current endeavor for all that. Judge for yourself.

Deep Deep Debt

It is no surprise that we find ourselves (federally) deeper in debt than ever before, and that it's growing at a faster rate than originally predicted. What IS surprising (at least to me) is that Politico reported it! The Congressman quoted is Democrat, that might have something to do with it. Not that they included either the total debt in this article (over $15T - equal to the ENTIRE GDP) or the total forecast debt for the future. But why on earth would Politico undermine Obama's relection? Does he really think he can blame it all on Congress? Or are media and liberal politician distancing themselves from Obama already?

"The $1.079 trillion deficit now projected for this fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is a step backwards from what CBO had predicted in August. And to punch home its message, the non-partisan agency outlines an especially grim scenario in which Congress not only extends all the current Bush-era tax cuts but pulls the plug on the $1.2 trillion in sequester set in motion by the Budget Control Act last summer.
"Under this scenario—which can’t be ruled out politically—deficits would stubbornly hover just under $1 trillion through 2017, adding another $4.7 trillion altogether to the mounting federal debt."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Drudge on Newt

Anyone else amused by Gingrich throwing tantrums like a two-year old? The self-destruction? This guy is so egotistical I'm sure he has no clue how ridiculous he looks to the average person. I almost feel sorry for him, but he brought it on himself by being himself. Even Rush Limbaugh called him out on his whining today. That is, an untrustworthy and hot-headed arrogant politician. The sad thing is, as much as we all want to focus on Obama and his failures, instead we're subject to Newt's tirades. While amusing, they are not the point. On his end, Romney's defending himself well, convincing me (and others too I'm sure) that he is well able to defend himself against the unbelievable attacks from the Obama nomination, should he be the nominee. For now, Newt's doing it for him! This list of links is up (right now, at least) on Drudge.

BUCHANAN: Reagan White House saw Newt 'political opportunist... not trusted'...
HUNT: Gingrich May Be Trying to Win One From the Gipper...
PALIN: 'Annoy A Liberal. Vote Newt!'
George Will: 'We're At The Horrid Stage'...
Gingrich: Romney 'Breathtakingly Dishonest'...
'Pro-abortion, pro gun-control, pro tax-increase'...
Hints Santorum should get out...
Romney Mocks Gingrich: 'Look in the mirror'...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ezra Taft Benson, LDS apostle and former Secretary of Agriculture

There exists a huge archive of Ezra Taft Benson's articles, a former United States Secretary of Agriculture who served simultaneously as an LDS apostle, and who later served as the president (also known as prophet) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He wrote many wonderful articles having to do with liberty, religion, our wonderful country, and our role as its citizens. All I can say is look here to get the list and links, and you can also find his articles on youtube. Really, take a look. If you don't have a minute (or hours) then make one! His words are uplifting, clear, and directive. I've included the links to the articles themselves below.

Friday, January 27, 2012

More Newt Drama

"Jeffrey Lord's Distortion" by Rich Lowry, defending Elliott Abrams' attack on Newt yesterday after Jeffrey Lord attacked Elliott Abrams. I gotta tell you, I'm having fun watching people tear down Gingrich, but I sure wouldn't enjoy seeing this against the others.

Meanwhile, Gingrich is struggling to regain his lead in Florida after the debate last night, by attacking Romney again. One of Romney's spokesmen said, "It is laughable to see lectures on honesty coming from a paid influence peddler who suffered an unprecedented ethics reprimand, was forced to pay a $300,000 penalty, and resigned in disgrace at the hands of his own party."

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is trying to defend him against all odds. I appreciate her views about hoping the way Newt is being attacked will carry over into attack methods against Obama but that she hates it during a primary. I don't think any of us really like the distraction from Obama, to tell you the truth. But does she expect people to sit idly by when someone of questionable morals and character is aggrandizing himself into the presidency?

Thursday Florida Debate

What a night! I think three of them did really well; Santorum, Romney, and Paul; and I can't declare a winner other than either Santorum or Romney. Santorum played 'stick-to-the-issues' man and all three were down-right funny! Romney was kind, cool-tempered and always polite even when Santorum or Gingrich got testy. You should watch it if you missed it, the humor doesn't necessarily show up on the transcript. The other candidate did worse than usual though he didn't have the decency to squirm when confronted with contradictions between what he's said and done over the course of his life - that's Newt Gingrich for you. Slimy politician to the end. He dodged as many questions as he could get away with and didn't defend himself very well on the ones he couldn't skirt around, and Wolf Blitzer was able to call Gingrich out against one anti-media flare-up. The thing is, I know his supporters are so gung-ho that they have blinders on to his inconsistencies. If you missed it, you can watch the debate here or read the transcript here.

I love Santorum's foreign policy and his consistency in defending the values upon which America was founded. The man speaks sense! I love Romney's explanations of things related to the economy and business and jobs and turning America around, as well as those same values even though he doesn't articulate them in as direct a way as Santorum.

Memorable lines:

ROMNEY: (to Gingrich)  "Don’t use a term like that. You can say we disagree on certain policies, but to say that enforcing the U.S. law to protect our borders, to welcome people here legally, to expand legal immigration, as I have proved, that that’s somehow anti anti-immigrant is simply the kind of over-the-top rhetoric that has characterized American politics too long.
"And I’m glad that Marco Rubio called you out on it. I’m glad you withdrew it. I think you should apologize for it, and I think you should recognize that having differences of opinions on issues does not justify labeling people with highly charged epithets."

ROMNEY: (to Gingrich, later in the same dialogue) "You know, our problem is not 11 million grandmothers. Our problem is — all right.
"Our problem is 11 million people getting jobs that many Americans, legal immigrants, would like to have. It’s school kids in schools that districts are having a hard time paying for. It’s people getting free health care because we are required under the law to provide that health care.
And the real concern is the people who want to come here legally. Let’s let legal immigrants come here. Let’s stop illegal immigration."

SANTORUM: (about Paul wanting free trade with Cuba) "No, I’m not with Congressman Paul and I’m not with Barack Obama on this issue.
"Our policy in Central and South America under this administration has been abysmal. The way we have treated, in particular, countries like Honduras, Honduras, which stood up for the rule of law, which threw out a would-be dictator who was using the Chavez playbook from Venezuela in order to try to run for re-election in Honduras, and the United States government, instead of standing behind the — the people in the parliament, the people in the Supreme Court, who tried to enforce the constitution of Honduras — instead of siding with them, the Democrats, President Obama sided with two other people in South America — excuse me — Central America and South America. Chavez and Castro and Obama sided against the people of Honduras.
"This is a consistent policy of siding with the leftists, siding with the Marxists, siding with those who don’t support democracy, not standing up for our friends in Colombia, not standing up for our friends who want to engage and support America, who want to be great trading partners and great allies for our country, to be able to form that kind of bond that is so essential in our own hemisphere."

 SANTORUM: (about Paul later in the same dialogue)
"I don’t know what answer Congressman Paul was listening to. He obviously wasn’t listening to my answer. (APPLAUSE)
"What I talked about is building strong economic relationships, strong national security relationships. No one’s talking about force. Nobody’s talking about going into Cuba or going into Venezuela. It’s talking about the other countries in the region, which are being influenced greatly by those countries, that are tending and moving toward those militant socialists, instead of the United States.
"Why? Because we’ve ignored them. You’ve got a president of the United States that held a Colombian free trade agreement — Colombia, who’s out there on the front lines, working with us against the narco- terrorists, standing up to Chavez in South America. And what did we do?
"For political — domestic political purposes, the president of the United States sided with organized labor and the environmental groups and held Colombia hanging out to dry for three years. We cannot do that to our friends in South America."

ROMNEY: (defending against Gingrich again) "Just a — just a short clarification. I — I’ve never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot. And — and in my state of Massachusetts, you could register as an independent and go vote in which — either primary happens to be very interesting. And any chance I got to vote against Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy, I took. And so I — I’m…
ROMNEY: …"I have voted — I have always voted for a Republican any time there was a Republican on the ballot. With regards to the Speaker’s involvement in the Reagan years, he can speak for himself. The Reagan Diaries and the other histories that were written at that time can lay that out as well. I — I — I think, I think what he said speaks for itself and I’m proud of the things I was able to accomplish."

ROMNEY: (to an upset Santorum about the nuances of Massachusetts health care) "First of all, it’s not worth getting angry about." 
We all had a good laugh at that one!

This next interchange was hilarious - it's long but worth the time: Wolf Blitzer had asked Gingrich to defend yet another inflammatory statement he has made against Romney.
"GINGRICH: Look, how about if the four of us agree for the rest of the evening, we’ll actually talk about issues that relate to governing America?
BLITZER: But, Mr. Speaker, you made an issue of this, this week, when you said that, “He lives in a world of Swiss bank and Cayman Island bank accounts.” I didn’t say that. You did.
GINGRICH: I did. And I’m perfectly happy to say that on an interview on some TV show. But this is a national debate, where you have a chance to get the four of us to talk about a whole range of issues.
BLITZER: But if you make a serious accusation against Governor Romney like that, you need to explain that.
GINGRICH: I simply suggested –
GINGRICH: You want to try again? I mean –
ROMNEY: Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t make accusations somewhere else that they weren’t willing to defend here?
GINGRICH: OK. All right.
Given that standard, Mitt, I did say I thought it was unusual. And I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account. I’d be glad for you to explain that sort of thing.
ROMNEY: "OK. I will. I will. I’ll say it again.
I have a trustee that manages my investments in a blind trust. That was so that I would avoid any conflicts of interest. That trustee indicated last week, when he was asked about this, he said that he wanted to diversify the investments that I had. And for awhile he had money in a Swiss account, reported in the U.S., full taxes paid on it, U.S. taxes.
There’s nothing wrong with that. And I know that there may be some who try to make a deal of that, as you have publicly. But look, I think it’s important for people to make sure that we don’t castigate individuals who have been successful and try and, by innuendo, suggest there’s something wrong with being successful and having investments and having a return on those investments.
Speaker, you’ve indicated that somehow I don’t earn that money. I have earned the money that I have. I didn’t inherit it.
I take risks. I make investments. Those investments lead to jobs being created in America.
I’m proud of being successful. I’m proud of being in the free enterprise system that creates jobs for other people. I’m not going to run from that.
I’m proud of the taxes I pay. My taxes, plus my charitable contributions, this year, 2011, will be about 40 percent.
So, look, let’s put behind this idea of attacking me because of my investments or my money, and let’s get Republicans to say, you know what? What you’ve accomplished in your life shouldn’t be seen as a detriment, it should be seen as an asset to help America."

Oh, this one was hilarious too! Romney on Gingrich's space plans, which Santorum and Paul had already dismissed as unwise in the face of our enormous federal deficit.

ROMNEY: "I spent 25 years in business. If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, “You’re fired.”
"The idea that corporate America wants to go off to the moon and build a colony there, it may be a big idea, but it’s not a good idea. And we have seen in politics — we’ve seen politicians — and Newt, you’ve been part of this — go from state to state and promise exactly what that state wants to hear. The Speaker comes here to Florida, wants to spend untold amount of money having a colony on the moon. I know it’s very exciting on the Space Coast.
"In South Carolina, it was a new interstate highway, and dredging the port in Charleston. In New Hampshire, it was burying a power line coming in from Canada and building a new VHA hospital in New Hampshire so that people don’t have to go to Boston.
"Look, this idea of going state to state and promising what people want to hear, promising billions, hundreds of billions of dollars to make people happy, that’s what got us into the trouble we’re in now. We’ve got to say no to this kind of spending."

Replying to Gingrich's 4-year balanced budget claims:
PAUL: "I want to make a quick comment, because Newt’s mentioned this quite a few times about balancing the budget for four times. I went back and looked at the record.
"The budget was — the national debt during those four years actually went up about a trillion dollars. What he’s talking about is, he doesn’t count the money he takes out of Social Security.
"So, Reagan nor you had a truly balanced budget because the national debt goes up, and that’s what we pay the interest on. So I think you’ve stretched that a little bit more than you should have."

On the State of the Union Address and regarding federal spending proposed by Gingrich:
SANTORUM: "Well, look, we just listened to the president of the United States the other night completely ignore the biggest problem facing this country when it comes to our financial health. We’ve been downgraded as a — as a — as a country and the president of the United States completely ignored any of the heavy work, the hard work in being honest with the American public about what we have to do to get our fiscal house in order."
"And I think that’s the point I would make here. Going around and promising a whole bunch of new ideas and new projects and big ideas — that was fine. And maybe we need it; we can do that. I supported the doubling of the National Institutes of Health. But we didn’t have a $1.2 trillion deficit. We didn’t — we weren’t at over — we are now going to reach $16 trillion, which is more than our whole GDP. We were not in that situation 20, 15 years ago.
We are in a different world. We need leaders who are going to be honest with the people of this country, of the problems we have, and have bold solutions to make that happen. I’ll do that."

ROMNEY: (on issues related to health insurance and employment) "...Secondly, getting people to work. This president has failed the American people.
"He got up there and gave a speech last night. It was like Groundhog Day all over again. He said the same things and the same results we’re seeing today. People are not working.
"And we know what it takes to put people back to work. He said some of those things last night — lowering corporate taxes, lowering regulations, opening up all of the above in energy, cracking down on China. He just doesn’t do any of those things, and if I’m president, I will do those things and I’ll get you back to work."

Oh, there is so much more but I'll stop quoting. There was great substance on the details of Israeli-Palestinian relations and lots more on foreign policy and illegal immigration and Hispanic-American issues. More rehashing of Romneycare versus Obamacare, things that Gingrich and/or Romney have said or done in their lives. Romney defended himself well, Gingrich not so much. I'm hoping people are learning to see through that career politician because future of their lives might very well depend on it! They were asked to say why their wives would be great first ladies; and among the classy, motherly and kind wives of Paul, Romney, and Santorum; childless Callista looked out of place with her fancy clothes and jewelry and her passion for the arts. Passion for the arts? Is that really the most endearing thing Newt could say about his wife? Something which would require more federal funding yet again?

By the way, did you see that Dole has come out against Gingrich now too? He said, "If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway."  He said that Gingrich would pick fights with Clinton to get media attention. He also blames him for his 1996 loss. "In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

State of the Union facts

Interesting. I thought Politifact was supposed to be a 'nonpartisan' entity, but if that's the case, then why did their analysis of the State of the Union address miss so much that FoxNews picked up? My prior suspicions proved correct: they pick and choose which elements to 'fact-check' to support who they like and detract from opponents.

Rush certainly had words about the address.  I didn't bother to listen to the address myself, knowing it would be a lot of same-old from Obama and I had other better things to do. Here's a bit of what Rush said, though.

"He also used the usual trick of speaking about events in America as though he's running for office for the first time.  He's running against things that are happening that are his policies that he is pretending he's had nothing to do with.  He knows full well he's not gonna be called on that by the media.  There was one offhand less-than-casual reference to Obamacare, which you would think in a State of the Union with a socialist doing the remarks, making the remarks, that he would be singing the praises of that piece of legislation and talking about what a game-changer it is and how it's the best thing that happened to the country.  Not a word of substance about it.
"In fact, there are a lot of facts that were omitted in the State of the Union speech.  He didn't talk about the 13.1 million unemployed Americans.  He didn't talk about the 5.6 million unemployed Americans who have been on unemployment longer than 27 weeks.  He didn't talk about 8.1 million involuntary part-time workers.  He didn't talk about the falling civilian labor force participation rate was 64%. The number of jobs, the universe of jobs shrinking, didn't bring that up.  Didn't talk about the national debt, $15.2 trillion, five trillion of which is his! Do you realize one-third of our entire national debt as a nation over 200 years, one-third of it is his, his alone.  Of course he didn't bring it up.  He didn't talk about the Keystone pipeline."

He doesn't stop there, of course. He does a lot of fact-checking of his own. Here's a little more:

"He has to join the platitudes of this country. He has to make it appear as though he is one of us and has the same love for the traditions and institutions that made this country great, but it came off as phony. It came off as empty. And then there was this. "On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said (sic) we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today General Motors is back on top as the world's number one automaker"?
"When did I miss that? Yeah, okay, in China! That's who's buying the cars. Okay, cool. "Chrysler has grown faster in the US..." By the way, I'm not gonna believe any set of such numbers this regime puts out this year. I'm not gonna believe the unemployment number; I don't believe this General Motors number. What an absolute crock. Anyway, after talking about all the wonderful, great, miraculous things he did with General Motors, then what did he say? "It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no cop-outs. An America built to lasts, insists on responsibility from everybody." Now, maybe I'm a bitter clinger, but the car companies appear to have received a bailout to me. The UAW got a bailout to me, and the UAW was handed General Motors and Chrysler, if you ask me. Now, I don't know what that is if it's not a bailout. So he spends a whole speech talking about, "No more bailouts. We're not gonna do that! No handouts, no cop-outs," and then he gives as his greatest example of American prosperity a company he bailed out! Who wrote this? This speech was an embarrassment."

This is by no means all of his critique of the State of the Union. Read it.  He goes on to talk extensively about Mitch Daniel's analysis of Obama's lies as well, which you can read here.


He might be a better liar than Obama! He always claims he helped Reagan do all sorts of conservative things, but National Review came out with this, written by Elliott Abrams.I quote an introductory paragraph and the concluding paragraph. Or, you can read it all at the link provided above.

"The claims are misleading at best. As a new member of Congress in the Reagan years — and I was an assistant secretary of state — Mr. Gingrich voted with the president regularly, but equally often spewed insulting rhetoric at Reagan, his top aides, and his policies to defeat Communism. Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong."

"Presidents should not get automatic support, not even from members of their own party, but they have a right to that support when they are under a vicious partisan assault. Today it is fair to look back and ask who had it right: Gingrich, who backed away from and criticized Republican presidents, or those chief executives, who were making difficult and consequential decisions on national security. Bush on the surge and Reagan on the Soviet empire were tough, courageous — and right. Newt Gingrich in retrospect seems less the visionary than the politician who refused the party’s leader loyal support on grounds that history has proved were simply wrong."

Ha! I'm sure glad this is coming out now to put Newt's chances in check. Drudge Report has some other anti-Reagan moments in Newt's past up today as well. Ann Coulter rips on him too. To quote:

"Newtons claim Romney is a "moderate," and Gingrich the true conservative -- a feat that can be accomplished only by refusing to believe anything Romney says ... and also refusing to believe anything Gingrich says."

I, for one, am eager to see what lies Newt will come up with to defend himself in tonight's debate!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On the life and lifestyle of the ghetto

Once upon a time, I lived in a neighborhood surrounded by ghetto in Chicago.  Why does this matter? I think that attitudes regarding welfare would change to favor reform if people knew how these programs were abused, and the general state of affairs for the people who live in this culture. I had an inside picture I wouldn't have otherwise had because of my husband's medical training there. I say nothing here to be inflammatory, merely to share my personal experience and perhaps open your eyes to a reality truly beyond imagination, at least mine. You find below a series of posts written some time ago while I lived in South Side.

South Side Chicago (originally posted February 5, 2010 in my private blog)
When he was on his rotation in psychiatry, [he] would tell me every day when he came home that he thought the world was a more messed up place than the day before. EVERY day. He saw victims of shocking abuse of all kinds, neglect, drug use that messes with the mind, criminal types avoiding punishment, and people fearing for their own lives at the hands of their families - women in particular. Of course he can't tell me specific stories, but it happened enough he could tell me that 'baby-daddies' (that's really what they call themselves, and thus what the medical community refers to them as) often try to kill the pregnant woman/teen or new baby to get out of child support, or because they've moved on. Spouses or boyfriends sometimes harm their wives and children out of jealosy or rage. And it's cyclical too - because abused children frequently grow into abusing teens and adults. Another thing [he] told me sticks out in my mind: he had overestimated the number of bad people in Chicago but underestimated the depth of their depravity. The bad ones are really bad. His words, not mine.

Now he's on a rotation in obstetrics. And he is even sadder. The difference between then and now is he sees babies born into a life in which they have no chance. Their very young mothers don't necessarily want them, they often grow up without knowing who their fathers are, they often have several half-siblings in the home, most likely they're raised by a 30-40 year old grandparent, their minds may be messed up from the pregnant mom using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, these poor children may be neglected or abused. And this cycle is perpetuated by the strong avoidance of birth control in almost any form, excepting the occasional abortion. Many of these people die much younger than the national average, have rampant obesity and the myriad of health problems that accompany it. By the time a girl or woman delivers a baby, there are good odds the baby daddy is not still with her in a relationship. Sometimes the women come into the hospital badly battered and bleeding at the hands of the baby daddy. It is frequent enough that the obstetricians are unfazed and look on it as a normal part of their working life.

I am not referring to normal working families here, nor families that teach any kind of morals. Those kids, who I hope are the majority of the children in South Chicago, do OK - they seek jobs, health, and education. They have a sense of right and wrong. Rather, I speak here of the undereducated in South Chicago. Sure, they go to inner city schools, but many drop out as pregnant teens or to join gangs. Many finish school without basic life skills. Some go through life without ever holding a job, ever having a steady companion, ever feeling loved. These people excel at getting something without paying for it - housing, food, health care, etc. Some would rather get evicted and live in a shelter than bother to look for alternative housing. It's a handout mentality. And the attitude is what kills me - they are proud of it. They are PROUD that they're on disability because of morbid obesity or whatever so long as they don't have to work! These same people will buy use the money they do have (after spending for drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and fast food) in ridiculous ways - like $100 Air Jordan's for a toddler that will outgrow them in 2 months, or designer clothing. Or lottery tickets. Meaningless bling.

There are people here, and of this impoverished culture all over the country, who traveled to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to get in on the government handouts - and they succeeded. Surely you remember the rampant fraud. This attitude explains it all! Some people succeeded in getting multiple checks at the time of Katrina, just to spend it on jewelry, sound systems, and other flashy non-essential items. I remember crime went up 200% in Houston in the aftermath of Katrina. My brother-in-law was serving a mission in Houston at the time, and he and the other missionaries protected some young women from rape while volunteering in a temporary shelter. It's just disgusting how little some people care for the lives and well-being of each of God's children.

Consider another example: a young woman comes into the hospital and declares she wants to have her baby. She is not in labor, not dilated, not effaced, and has never received medical care at this hospital before. Of course, she is denied, and is told to go to the hospital at which she has received her prenatal care once her labor begins, which is likely in more than a week's time. She throws an enormous tantrum and has to be dragged out of the hospital by security, kicking and screaming, essentially to shame the hospital by seeming as if she has been refused adequate treatment. The type of story the media would love but be completely wrong about.

Isn't all this sad? Saddest of all, I think, is the hopelessness of the situation. These people truly think that government can and should solve all their problems. That society owes them something. That they should be able to get whatever they want without having to work for their goals. It seems to me that reliance on the government is what causes some of their problems - if they had to work, maybe they could at least teach their children how to provide for themselves. Maybe they would understand that you can't expect something for nothing. A society cannot sustain itself without the work of its constituents. Neither can a society stand without the honesty of its constituents.

Only teaching morals can enact change, and of course that succeeds only if they accept them and live by them. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that teaches chastity and fidelity, and avoidance of addictive substances. The gospel teaches honesty, work, self-reliance, love, kindness, gentleness. It is in feeling the love that Christ has for us that we can learn to love and serve others as He does. Through Christ there is hope for all.

South Side Chicago II (originally posted March 7, 2010)
This isn't actually Chicago-specific but relevant to my earlier post. I have learned more about the nature of the food-stamps program. I had been wondering how on earth the non-working, 'poor' South Siders could eat fast food all the time and be so ridiculously overweight. It turns out that the food stamps program is quite generous - about $650 a month for a family our size, which is about twice our monthly budget! Most foods are approved, but not every store accepts the cards. You have to use all the money or you forfeit your acceptance in the program - what this means is that people buy and eat more than they need, buy expensive treats, or pawn off their food stamps money by offering to buy strangers' food with the card, in return for the strangers giving them some fraction of the cost in cash. Legal? I'm sure not. The food stamps program is a popular one, as is WIC (which I don't mind so much), subsidized housing, Medicaid/disability, and extra cash accounts, also through the government. I'm not sure what those last are called. So from the looks of it, a person need never work a lick in his life and be completely and amply supported by the feds in his ease!

I have noticed another strange thing about the South Side: housing situations. It seems that whole extended families complete with current boyfriends/girlfriends (or at least large parts of them) will live together in a small house with only one of the older ones working and paying the bills. This leaves the younger ones free to play around with their relationships, generally not work and generally get in trouble. It seems to me that even many of the better-off working-class South Siders have many relatives in the other situation, who live off of others. And this is normal to them, and perhaps even as it should be. They are tolerant of each other. As a whole. I certainly have heard of more violent cases where all the women in a family are murdered by their jealous husbands/boyfriends or the like. As my husband noted: coming to Chicago has allowed us to understand the [black ghetto] culture, which would not have happened otherwise.

I Can't Believe This World I Live In (originally published July 12, 2010)
I have to tell you what I saw tonight. I went to a high-end grocery store in the neighborhood for an item where convenience was more expedient than time investment and cost effectiveness. The lady in front of me in the check-out line was wearing a nice dress, with fancy hair and purse. Then she pulls out a LINK card. Do you know what that is? Apparently, anyone who hasn't worked in 3 months (i.e. much of South Side Chicago) qualifies for about $300 a month on the taxpayer's dime. Accepted at most stores. Nice. She was parked close to me too, as it turned out. Sporty car with a sunroof.

I am tired of seeing handouts! Especially when our children and grandchildren will be stuck with the ridiculous debt with which we've let our government swamp us!

Yes, there are people with real, legitimate needs. But there are many who would be much better off if they got off their lazy hind ends and did something productive with their lives. And let the rest of us working people be better off too.

You say, maybe this lady lost her job and didn't have savings. Maybe. But maybe Americans should figure out that saving for a rainy day is an important part of life. Instead of relying on the government (ahem, taxpayers) to bail them out.

I know, I know. Judge not that ye be not judged. I try, people.

Da Hood (originally posted November 2, 2010)

What with [his] recent Cook County hospital rotation (including night shifts) and a  rotation nearby at Schwab Rehabilitation Center, we've become all the more aware of the norm around here. Maybe I should say 'da norm.'

For instance, did you know that places that are quite safe in broad daylight become drug-dealing centers at night? Did you know you can see pimps wearing bright red suits on busy streets at night? Or see several gang members sitting in front of fast food joints with police officers at night? And that there are several neighborhoods in South and West Chicago where having a gunshot scar or two or maybe a knife wound is the norm? No big deal? I'm sure the early sexual activity and pregnancies are not news. There is a large percentage of the welfare population that stays up all hours, since getting to work in the morning isn't something they'd consider doing.

It is really sad, though, to hear the grandmas of the community talk about how little way out there is for the young men. If they don't do well in school, as most don't, they really are stuck without prospects. Even if they try to move elsewhere for work or job training, gangs will still solicit them for membership and rival gangs will always cause trouble on the job, and it's not like these types of young men have references to land themselves a job out of 'da hood.' And gangs have infiltrated the police force to some degree. So basically they don't have a chance unless they're taught early that school matters. And even then, there is enough gang and drug violence on the streets to kill many innocent and uninvolved. Sad. But problems of their own making - they're products of the welfare culture. Or I suppose you could blame the well-intentioned Democrats who started welfare in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, I live in this neighborhood and I've got good friends I care deeply for who are part of this community. And while welfare has a place, especially with the elderly, infirm and veterans, it is literally ruining the lives of millions of young people born into a life without good examples of work ethic, a lack of moral values, no respect of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness, respect for others' property, opportunity or love. There is rampant physical and sexual abuse, rampant child abuse and neglect, rampant petty and serious crime, rampant violence, rampant drug abuse and prostitution. Think about it, if you don't have a job, you've got a lot of time to kill on your hands, time to get into trouble and make trouble for others. The older and wiser in their community know full well the problems that dependence on the government has thrust upon them because they've watched it develop over the course of their lives in their own descendants. Plus, they themselves were taught a different and happier way of life from independent, unselfish, hard-working parents.

The answer? I'm sure I don't know. But the [LDS] Church welfare system seems preserve human dignity by allowing them to work for their food. No handouts there. In fact, they offer job training, educational opportunities, financial advice, etc to boost the standard of living for millions of members. After all, they genuinely care for individuals, a stark contrast from the government seeking for continued votes by continued dependence. Dependence does not equal compassion.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fact-checking the debate

Politifact is a useful resource at times like this. Remember that back and forth on the nitty-gritties of Newt Gingrich concerning his ethics violations, the details of his work with Freddie Mac, and all his other disputed claims? Gingrich didn't get a single "True" or even "Half-True" rating on his defending statements - including on his budget balancing record! Romney, on the other hand, did not get any "False" or worse. You can follow this link for the debate fact-checking details. In conclusion, Romney was not over the top in his attacks on Gingrich last night - I retract what I said in the debate post. And Gingrich is a slimy scumbag of a politician. The end.

Florida Debate Number One

I'll be the first to admit that these debates are turning into same-old: that said, this one was a little different if only for the manner in which each candidate presented himself. You can watch it here if you missed it, or read the transcript. There were also some questions of which we had not previously heard the like so it is still worth your perusal.

Santorum: didn't waste time pointing fingers all night, just talked about conservatism and conservative principles and how that message wins voters.  He didn't get to talk much but what he did say was memorable and resonated. I hope voters will pay more attention to him. He probably won the debate for overall positive impression.

Romney: got on Gingrich hard and went a little over the top in making his point, which was that if Gingrich wasn't in favor of Freddie Mac, he shouldn't have been taking money from them, but should have been loudly warning the public about the imminent housing bubble collapse.  Also the debate between 'lobbying' and 'consulting.'  He didn't need to press as hard as he did. After that opening segment debate, he stayed more on topic of defeating Obama and which policies of Obama's have failed, why he defends his record as conservative, etc. I'd still say he didn't have a great night overall.

Gingrich: He toned down his inflammatory rhetoric last night. He toned down the 'slimy politician' vibe. I'm sure this is calculated precisely because he IS a slimy politician, albeit a conservative one, but it was still something I was glad to see him do. I think he did a decent but by no means excellent job of defending himself. He still has a lot of questions to answer but at least he wasn't trying to dodge every single one of them as he usually does. We should still look for more details regarding his being forced out of the speakership, his ethics charges, and his role with Freddie Mac.

Paul: He's funny! I'm enjoying his humor. He pointed out Gingrich wasn't entirely truthful in his remarks defending his record. Otherwise he was consistent with any other debate performance he's given. Great on the economy, not quite rational with his foreign policy. To my great relief, he also definitely answered that he's not planning to run third party. Hallelujah!

Some memorable quotes:
ROMNEY: "Well, under that -- under that plan [Gingrich's 0% on capital gains], I'd have paid no taxes in the last two years."

As I've said before, he pays 15% tax because he lives on money he earned previously and paid the higher tax rate at the time he earned it.

ROMNEY:  (On Bain jobs created) "And these are not just high-end financial jobs. We helped start Staples, for instance. It employs 90,000 people. These are middle- income people. There are entry-level jobs, too. I'm proud of the fact that we helped people around the country, Bright Horizons children centers, the Sports Authority, Steel Dynamics, a new steel company. These employ people, middle-income people.
And the nature of America is individuals pursuing their dreams don't make everyone else poorer; they help make us all better off. And so I'm not going to apologize for success or apologize for free enterprise. I believe free enterprise is one of the things that -- that we have to reinvigorate in this country if we want to get people working again."

Right on!

SANTORUM: "My question to Governor Romney and to Speaker Gingrich, if you believe in capitalism that much, then why did you support the bailout of Wall Street, where you had an opportunity to allow destructive capitalism to work, to allow a failure of a -- of a system that needed to fail because people did things that in capitalism pay -- you pay a price?"

Unanswered.  I wish it had been, yet it had in other debates by skirting the question.

SANTORUM:  (Concerning the foreseen collapse of the housing market) "The problem now is, what are you going to do about it? And what I've said is that, as you heard me say before, let capitalism work. Allow these -- allow these banks to -- to realize their losses. And create an opportunity for folks who have houses to realize their losses and at least help them out.
"That's why I proposed in my tax plan -- and I talk about five areas where I allow deductions -- well, one of them would be, be able to deduct losses from the sale of your home. Right now, you can't do that. You have to pay gains, depending on the amount, but you can't deduct the losses.
"This is something I think is important temporarily to put in place to allow people the freedom to be able to go out and get out from underneath these houses that they're holding onto and at least get some relief from the federal government for doing so." 

It seemed that the other candidates agreed with him here.

SANTORUM:  (about Cuba regarding trade with them or policy in general) "And you're right, Ron. It's not 1962. They're now with the Cubans and the Venezuelans, the Nicaraguans. There is a growing network of folks now working with the jihadists, the Iranians, who are very, very excited about the opportunity to having platforms 90 miles off our coast, just like the Soviets were, very anxious to have platforms 90 miles off our coast, or in Venezuela, or in Nicaragua, and other places they could come across the southern border.
"This is a serious threat. It's a threat that I've been talking about for about six or seven years. And it's one that's not going to go away until we -- we confront the threat and hopefully are able to convince the Cuban people that, through what Newt and others have suggested, to -- to change their government at the appropriate time."

He's right. I really like Santorum's shrewdness with foreign policy.

SANTORUM: (about the risk of another oil spill versus opening new wells) "What threatens the tourist industry in Florida, as we've seen, is a very bad economy, and a very bad economy that became a bad economy why? Because of a huge spike in oil prices in the summer of 2008. So energy is absolutely key to keep all of our country healthy, specifically Florida, which is a destination place. This is a -- this is a place that relies upon people being able to travel and afford to be able to travel to come down here, relies upon an economy being strong. (...) It is absolutely essential that we have as much domestic supply of oil, that we build the Keystone pipeline, that we create the jobs that -- that that would create, and provide oil from domestic sources. Pipelines that run on the floor of the sea or pipelines that come through America are the safest way to transport oil. It is tankers that are causing -- that cause much more problems. Pipelines are the safe way. Building those rigs, piping that oil into -- into -- into our shore is the best way to create a good economy for the state of Florida." 

Right on! I love it when politicians back me up on the benefits of domestic energy. 

GINGRICH: (regarding the link between lowering tax rates and economic growth) "Well, the Bush tax cuts, I think in a period of great difficulty, with the attack of 9/11, actually stopped us from going into a much deeper slump. I think we would have been in much, much worse shape, and I think most economists agree, that in 2002 and '03 and '04 we'd have been in much worse shape without the Bush tax cuts.
"But -- but you have to also look at the regulatory burden. The reason I called for repealing Dodd-Frank and for repealing Obamacare and for repealing Sarbanes-Oxley is you now have these huge layers of paperwork and government intervention and bureaucratic micromanagement that are crippling the American system and are making it much harder for us to create the kind of jobs we'd want.
"In North Dakota today, we have a boom in oil development, unemployment is down to 3.2 percent. They have had seven straight tax cuts at the state level because the oil was on private land. If that oil had been on public land, the environmentalists and Barack Obama would have stopped its development, and North Dakota would be mired in 8 percent or 9 percent unemployment. So, get the regulations out of the way, get the tax incentives right, and you can get back to creating an amazing number of jobs very fast." 

Self-evident. Government is intruding in our lives the effect that we have high costs for living and business!

SANTORUM:  "They [Gingrich and Romney] rejected conservativism when it was hard to stand. It's going to be hard to stand whoever this president is going to be elected. It's going to be tough. There is going to be a mountain of problems. It's going to be easy to be able to bail out and compromise your principles.
We have gentlemen here on the three issues that got the Tea Party started, that are the base of the conservative movement now in the Republican Party. And there is no difference between President Obama and these two gentlemen. And that's why this election in Florida is so critical, that we have someone that actually can create a contrast between the president and the conservative point of view."

Very, very good points to consider.

ROMNEY:  "We're still a great nation, but a great nation doesn't have so many people suffering. And I'm running in part because I have experience in how the economy works. And I want to use that experience to get people working again, to get our economy working again.
And the idea to get our economy working is not to have the government play a more intrusive role in how our economy works, but instead to do the seven things that always get an economy going: get taxes competitive, regulation as modest as possible and modernized, get ourselves energy independent, open up trade with other nations and crack down on cheaters, make sure we don't have crony capitalism -- that's what we have going on right now -- build human capital through education, and also finally balance the budget."

Also good things to remember and consider. All the things he's listed would be accomplished by any of them except probably Ron Paul. There were plenty of other statements last night from various candidates that are supported by each candidate. Huckabee was right when he said we are not at a loss to pick a candidate because they're all bad, but rather we're choosing between good candidates and we're not sure which one is best. I still think any of them could beat Obama, with the possible exception of Ron Paul since he comes off as incoherent and has horrible understanding of foreign policy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rush Limbaugh

I like Rush, really. I understand that he's pumped up that Newt articulated conservatism in SC, etc. I do NOT like that he's often brushing away Newt's problems with credibility and character- not to mention outlandish statements- and expressing his belief that he's more electable than other candidates. Consequently, I was extremely relieved today when he said this:

"Now, Newt keeps pushing off any questions on his anti-conservative statements.  And he better not. (....) Newt's not out of the woods here.  And Newt and his crew had better understand that he's where he is not just because of a media smackdown, not just because of debates.  He's articulating conservatism when he does this stuff, and if he stops doing that or if he waters it down or if he gets caught in an example where people can be convinced he doesn't really believe this stuff.(...)

"No, I'm not afraid.  I think this is good.  We are running against the most pathetic president we've had since Jimmy Carter.  I am not afraid.  I do not live in a world of fear.  I refuse to.  For crying out loud, it's still January.  The election's not 'til November.  The base was told this was over last November.  The establishment wanted this over, the media wanted this over last November.  They did everything they could to have this over. 

"I trust the Republican base.  That's who I trust.  I trust the Republican voters.  I'm totally confident with them.  They are the people in this audience.  Why wouldn't I trust them?  They'll figure this out.  They're not a bunch of brain-dead, mind-numbed robots.  This is how democracy works."

Amen, Rush.

And because a link currently up on Rush's website is so fascinating, I'll post it here too. You'll not regret looking at these entitlement numbers.
It's from zerohedge and the title will peak your interest:

In Entitlement America, The Head Of A Household Of Four Making Minimum Wage Has More Disposable Income Than A Family Making $60,000 A Year




Don't think I didn't want to talk about this last week when Obama rejected Keystone. I did. But there were other things to talk about first.

Obama is showing his true colors. He doesn't care about jobs - not even union jobs as these Keystone jobs would have been. He doesn't care about energy independence. He doesn't care about lowering the costs of living and doing business all across America. I stand by what I said before: either he naively thinks that buying oil from hostile, distant foreign countries with lower environmental standards than we do is saving the environment, or he wants us to be struggling as a country economically, so that we turn to government for help, increase our dependency on government programs, and vote Democrat in the general election so he can make the 'natural' transition to socialism.  As long as Americans are taught to see through his failed policies (ie look at results instead of 'good intentions') then I don't see how he could possibly get reelected.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ruminations of SC and what it may mean

I am a little perplexed right now.  In Iowa, Sarah Palin told Iowans she'd be looking more at Santorum. He won. In New Hampshire, she didn't say anything knowing that Romney would take it and he did.  In South Carolina she told people there she'd vote for Newt to keep this contest alive for longer. He won. He, of course, will claim all the credit and be a big puffed up political balloon until he pops. I have a hard time believing that Newt's SC momentum will mean much in the long run because he is SUCH a damaged candidate. Divorced twice? Life-long Washington politician? With ethics violations? Please. All the grandiose ideas in the world and all the calling-out-the-media in the world don't change what he is at bottom.

So what is Palin doing, exactly? With all due respect to her, and conservatives in general with the Tea Party in particular, I'm not sure that I completely agree with what she's doing, though I don't entirely disapprove. At minimum, she's directing people to vet each and every candidate. She might even be dragging out this process to try and take Romney's chance at nomination away entirely if she keeps telling each state how to vote. I think, though I admit I am not sure, that such a thing would be beneath her.

But here's what I'm thinking: this might all be a very good thing! As strange as it sounds, I think the added time in vetting candidates will result in the GOP getting the best possible candidate. Romney is becoming a stronger candidate. The others, except Ron Paul, are also becoming stronger candidates. They are explaining themselves better. Each are showing their colors and allowing the public to get to know them better. The better, in fact, that I'm liking Romney. I didn't favor him initially in this election season. The longer Newt has the limelight, the more conceited he gets, the more dirty political games he plays, the uglier he appears to the public (remember what he was like back in Iowa?). Santorum seems a little disappointed that his momentum has not carried into SC, which gives me every hope that Newt will feel the same way in a few weeks' time. I wouldn't be surprised if Santorum and Romney both benefit from Newt's future drop.

Florida, here we come. Please, Sarah Palin, do NOT recommend Newt in the future. He plays dirty and he lies. Telling Mitt Romney that it's less important for him to release details of his ethics violation report than for Mitt's tax returns to be released?  I hope people aren't stupid enough to buy that. Telling people his ex-wife is a liar and that plenty of people (who have not appeared to back him up) know she's lying? Classy, compassionate, kind (I'm sarcastic here in case you can't tell!). He's just what I don't want in a presidential nominee.

Ann Coulter

She always makes me laugh out loud.  Her satire is far-fetched enough to cause me to double up if not roll on the floor! JK, but she's funny. She blends fact with fiction in an uproarious way. Take this from this week's article: I'll preface by introducing the topic: Bain's involvement with Ampad, the paper plant that closed in Indiana. And Romney wasn't even at Bain at the time! Then she talks about the Ampad guy, Johnson, who rails against Romney.

"It is beyond journalistic malpractice for media outlets showcasing the bitter and lying Johnson to neglect to mention that he was the union president who led the strike that forced Ampad to close the plant.

"And yet The New York Times, MSNBC and others who have publicized Johnson's sob story regularly refuse to convey that crucial fact. This would be as if a judge excluded the fact that the defense's principal witness is the defendant's mother."

Ha ha ha! Ahem.

"As long as the nation is still in the fifth stage of grief over Steve Jobs' death, with gushing tributes to his contributions to our wonderful new world of computerized books, letters, memos, newspapers, CDs and classified ads, ask yourselves: Would the mid-1990s have been a good time for workers in an industry made vulnerable by the new, paperless information age to stage a long, acrimonious strike?

"Union president Randy Johnson thought it was. The Democrats (and some Republicans) apparently do, too."

Skipping down the article closer to the end:

"Politicians' morbid fear of technological advances in the free market has real-world consequences. You will recall that the mainstream media-adored FBI agent Colleen Rowley's main indictment of the bureau after 9/11 was that the FBI had really old computers, preventing it from anticipating the greatest terrorist attack in world history.

"In response to Rowley's charges, for example, the Times' Maureen Dowd denounced federal law enforcement agencies for being "antiquated," "inept" and "bloated." (She also said: "I want to see some agents lose their jobs." Maureen Dowd: Inadvertent Romney Supporter.)

"Of course, if the Democrats, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry were running things, the FBI would still be using paper and pens -- maybe quill pens -- all in order to save Randy Johnson's union job! Instead of a Xerox machine, they'd have a monk in the back room creating copies of documents by hand so as not to be accused of "vulture capitalism" for eliminating the monk's job."

Aren't you laughing? If you're not, I question your capitalism, and your sense of humor! The end is good too. You should read it. And try to laugh. Laughing does a body good! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Romney calls for Gingrich's ethics violation report

In what is obviously a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black, Newt Gingrich is playing populist and saying Mitt Romney needs to publicize his taxes so that the GOP can decide if there is anything amiss in them. To which Mitt responded that all of his charitable expenditures are already public knowledge, as are his investments, that he pays all his taxes, and that his taxes will be ready in due time. He'll release them, along with an undetermined number of previous years, all at once so that leftist media won't make a big deal about them over and over again as they would if he released them separately.  That makes sense to me. No one in SC or anywhere else is crying out for his tax returns.

To get back at Gingrich, and only fairly, Romney has called for Gingrich to release the ethics violations report which we know the Democrats have and are planning to use eventually should he become the nominee. That is far more to the point than tax returns for someone who doesn't practice tax evasion like so many millionaires on the left who get a pass on the subject!

What a Night!

I hope you all watched the CNN debate last night. If not, you can find the video here or a transcript here.  The most amazing thing happened - the candidates forced the moderator to act as a moderator instead of a reporter!  Gingrich refused to make his divorces an 'issue,' and the other candidates agreed they had more important things to discuss. Sure, we need to vet Gingrich on his credibility, etc., but the debate is not the best place for that to happen. I haven't even bothered to read any news reports about the debate, I know full well the media will pick and choose what they want to say and select statements that match their templates, as usual. Romney won the debate, in my personal estimation.

The Stage Left to Right
Rick Santorum: Boy, was he nit-picking last night. He has nothing to lose at this stage in the game, but it doesn't make him look like an attractive candidate to ask the others to explain themselves over and over again. That and he interrupts and the others are more polite. I appreciate his sincerity and honesty, even his candor. I do not appreciate that he was trying to pick fights all night. I do appreciate that he gave Mitt Romney abundant opportunities to defend his record. And Newt Gingrich his fair share of them as well.

Mitt Romney: Great job! He was funny, he came across as candid and sincere, he was always respectful towards the other candidates. He defended his successes and defended them well. He defended what others view as his failures and defended them well. He defended his pro-life stance and defended it well. He, of all of them, really kept bringing the conversation back to Obama and reiterated that any one of them on stage would made a better president than the one we've got. My favorite line of his was, "I don't have character or integrity questioned very often." That is the kind of president I want! In fact, it reminded me, hearing him say that, that the left is responsible for his reputation as a flip-flopper. Every time he has explained his positions, he has convinced me of underlying conservative principles.

Newt Gingrich: Good debater, as usual. He was relatively quiet last night, maybe to keep negative attention from turning on him. He painted himself as a man of big ideas (grandiosity mentioned, in particular) and big achievements (inadvertently showing his big ego alongside). Some true, some a little blown out of proportion given what the other candidates said. I stick by my statement yesterday that Obama would clobber him over his private life, and the media would happily comply. That's not what we need to focus on. We need to focus on Obama's record!

Ron Paul: Almost irrelevant last night. He spoke the least of any of them and was questioned the least by any of them. When he did speak, it wasn't always in a coherent way and I had trouble following his train of thought. Still, he had his fun and funny moments.

Here are some memorable lines with my reactions to them:
"MR. GINGRICH: Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine."
Don't you imagine that cheating on a spouse is despicable, Mr. Speaker?

"MR. KING: Congressman Paul, I want to begin with you. Do you believe we need specific federal programs to put the American people back to work?
"REP. PAUL: Well, most of the things the federal government could do to get us back to work is get out of the way."
Right on, right on! All the candidates agreed, of course.

"MR. ROMNEY: (...) I know we're going to get attacked from the left, from Barack Obama, on capitalism. I know that people are going to say, oh, you should only practice it this way or that way, and think they know better than the private market. My view is, capitalism works. Free enterprise works. (Cheers, applause.) And I -- and -- and I find it -- I find it kind of strange, on a stage like this, with Republicans, having to describe how private equity and venture capital work and how they're successful -- (applause) -- and how they create jobs. But let me -- let me tell you that answer." (he did, then continued)
"I'm very proud of the fact that throughout my career, I have worked to try and build enterprises -- hopefully to return money to investors. There's nothing wrong with profit, by the way. That profit -- (cheers, applause) -- that profit -- that profit -- that profit went to pension funds, to charities; it went to a wide array of institutions. A lot of people benefited from that.
"And by the way, as enterprises become more profitable, they can hire more people. I'm -- I'm someone who believes in free enterprise. I think Adam Smith was right, and I'm going to stand and defend capitalism across this country, throughout this campaign. I know we're going to hit it hard from President Obama, but we're going to stuff it down his throat and point out it is capitalism and freedom that makes America strong. (Cheers, applause.)"
There was a bunch of follow-up after this that for the sake of time I will not quote. This was the gist of it, and I felt relief that he was finally standing up for himself and defending capitalism, business, and his successes in his endeavors financial and otherwise. 

"MR. SANTORUM: ... I served with him. I was there. I knew what the problems were going on in the House of Representatives, and Newt Gingrich was leading this -- leading there. It was an idea a minute -- no discipline, no ability to be able to pull things together. I understand you're taking credit for the 1994 election, and you did have a lot plans. As you know, I worked with you on those, and we had meetings early in the morning on many -- many a week. And so we worked together on that.
"But you also have to admit that this freshman congressman who wasn't supposed to win a race, came and did something you never did, which is blew the lid off the biggest scandal to hit the Congress in 50 years. You knew about it for -- for 10 or 15 years because you told me you knew about it. And you did nothing, because you didn't have the courage to stand up to your own leadership, the Democratic speaker of the House, take to the floor of the Senate, demand the releasing of the checks that were being kited by members of Congress, risk your political career, risk your promotion within the ranks and do what was right for America -- and that had more or as much to do with the 1994 win as any plan that you put together. (Cheers, applause.)"
 Santorum was really on a roll attacking the other candidates. Newt, of course, defended himself saying he exposed other corruption at other times.

"MR. ROMNEY: ...(rebuttal to Santorum) I stood as a pro-life governor, and that's why the Massachusetts pro-life family association supported my record as governor, endorsed my record as governor.
"I did my very best to be a pro-life governor. I will be a pro-life president. I'm proud of that. I wrote about it in my book. My record is solid.
"I appreciate your record. I hope you'll appreciate mine. (Applause.)"
I laughed out loud at this one. Santorum had been nit-picking all night and never ONCE did Romney get testy.

Here's another interchange with Santorum, referring to abortion and National Right to Life voting records.
REP. PAUL: Well, just -- just for the record, I wasn't even thinking about you when I was giving my statement.
MR. SANTORUM: (Off mic.)
REP. PAUL: So you are overly sensitive. (Laughter, cheers, applause.)
But it -- but it is true that we have a disagreement on how we approach it. I follow what my understanding is of the Constitution, and it -- it does allow for the states to deal with difficult problems. As a matter of fact, it allows the states to deal with almost all the problems, if you look at it. It is not given -- these powers aren't given to the Congress.
I see abortion as a violent act. All other violence is handled by the states: murder, burglary, violence. That's a state issue. (Cheers, applause.) So don't try to say that I'm less pro-life because I want to be particular about the way we do it and allow the states the prerogative.
This is the solution. This is the solution, because if we would allow the states to write their laws, take away the jurisdiction by a majority vote in the Congress, you repeal Roe versus Wade overnight instead of waiting year after year to change the court system. (Cheers, applause.)

And to be fair, here's Santorum when he's not ragging directly on the others, in his closing argument.

"MR. SANTORUM: ... We're -- we need someone who not only says now they're going to stand up for conservative principles -- the big issues; (plus ?) someone who has a track record of doing so, and winning. I'm the only one in this race that's ever defeated a Democratic incumbent. I did it for the Congress and I did it for the Senate. (Applause.)
"We're the only people in this race that actually has won a swing state. And I did it because I have a plan like I outlined today. I come from those states. I come from the background -- I come with the working-class and strong credentials not just with a plan, but with the character that fits in with exactly the voters we need -- those Reagan Democrats in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan and Indiana and Wisconsin. Those are the votes and those are the states. You want to win? Elect someone who can win in the states we have to win and draw the clear contrast with President Obama."

OK, there are too many great quotes. You should watch it if you missed it. They talked about jumpstarting the economy, immigration, social issues, the military, cutting spending, actual mechanisms for getting rid of Obamacare, etc. Having fewer debaters really helped the flow, the focus, and allowed more of a real debate format. Just a great night!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Omissions in Media

When it comes to analyzing the news media, what kinds of stories or details are left out are more important than those included. For example, on your typical leftist-leaning paper, you'll rarely find corruption details against Democrats in office, and if you do, the fact that this representative is Democrat will not be mentioned except maybe as an aside in the last paragraph.

Another example: the left is making a big deal of Mitt Romney's income and large donations to his church. What's the big deal? That the guy lives his religion and pays his tithing?  That the guy gives to charity unlike most elected Democrat officials? That he doesn't make as much money as the Clintons do and it's somehow OK for them to be multi-millionaires but not him? That he pays all his taxes? Are they going to do the same kind of article on Harry Reid because he's also a Mormon or keep ignoring it because he's a Democrat unlike Romney?

Partisanship causes blindness on both sides. There are certainly plenty of problems on both sides of the aisle. You've got to read both sides anymore to get a good idea of what's really going on, because both sides leave stuff out. The media does count on its followers being gullible enough to not think for themselves. It is your duty to be a well-informed voter, not a brainwashed and partisan voter.  Food for your thought! To back me up, here is a FoxNews editorial on the subject of the damage wrought by under-informed voters.


* I began writing this post before the ABC interview with Gingrich's second wife was announced 

I believe any of the remaining candidates are electable, even Ron Paul. Even as hard as Obama will fight against any of them, and with as much money as he has, any of them could replace him as president because his presidential record is so bad. He was NOT vetted before nomination or election. And while the media isn't going to press that issue and will do everything to assist Obama in smearing the GOP nominee, there are other sources of information and opportunities to learn about Obama's failures in office than the traditional media.

That said, one candidate is more vulnerable to personal attacks than the rest. That person is Newt Gingrich. Obama got himself into politics in the first place by smearing his divorced opponents at the local level for Illinois Senate and then the state level for the US Senate. Newt is more than divorced. He is divorced twice, and for infidelity! He would be vulnerable, very vulnerable indeed. Sure, he's conservative, but he's got a spotty record when it comes to either consistency or constancy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Analytical Thinking about News Media 101

Whenever anyone writes anything, they want you, the reader, to think about something in the way they think about it. I, for example, want my readers to learn how to listen to the news media with new ears. So, I'll give you some tools to meet that end. This isn't really a step by step process but it's easiest to list it out as if it is.

  1. Before you can start thinking about why the news is presented in a certain way, you have to read or hear enough news to capture the prevailing sentiment and be aware of that sentiment rather than blindly accepting it as the bun (how the story is presented) around the hamburger (story). 
  2. Once you do that, you notice that most stories are drummed up as catastrophic, idiotic, praising, pandering, etc. This may either be overt or covert.
  3. Then you have to start thinking about why that media outlet would want you to think about that event that way. 
  4. You wonder what other people think about it, and you search out the opposite point of view to gather more information.
  5. As you listen to or read the other side of the story, you begin to piece together a multi-dimensional understanding of what actually happened, and how both sides feel about it.
  6. You may now have enough information to pick a side with which you agree with if any. You may not, and may wish to do more research. 
The person who taught me how to do this? Rush Limbaugh. He has superb analytical skills. I don't always entirely agree with his analysis, but I do always value his opinions because of his skill set. I recommend listening to him or reading him for a few weeks to get a feel for the process.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The SC Fox News debate

I'm still not getting tired of watching these debates. You know why? I keep learning more about each candidate, their positions and policies, their personalities and politics. This is another one well worth watching. You can find it here. The media articles about it really don't do it justice or reflect the actual spirit of the debate, which was largely civil and informative, with an electric audience - the moderators could hardly get a word in edgewise for all the noise! Newt Gingrich said up front that this is the time for us to be asking difficult questions to see which candidate truly has what it takes to defend himself against attacks which we know are coming up in the presidential debates. There were tough questions on positions and in clarifying records and statements, both from moderators and fellow candidates.

Did you hear about Huckabee's forum on Saturday night for undecided voters, with all candidates except Ron Paul attending? Well, Huckabee said something in the introduction that stuck out me. To paraphrase: We aren't undecided because the candidates are bad, on the contrary - they're all good! It's like we're hungry, coming to a grocery store with lots of prepared foods, and we can't decide which one we want because everything looks good.  I think that's true. We're hungry for change in Washington, change in the direction of the country and our economy, and we don't know which one will be best, though they're all good. All good enough to beat Obama- even if the leftist media doesn't agree! We don't need them to agree with us, we just need to vote against Obama and we'll get what we're hungry for: prosperity!

I'll record my own impression of each candidate from the Monday night debate moving across the stage from left to right. Later on I'll cover what I learned about some issues.

Rick Perry: I don't know how much longer he can stick this election season out, but I greatly appreciate his insights on border issues. I hope the other candidates are taking notes. I'm sure they are, I've noticed that the issues they each raise are taken home and studied further by the other candidates. I think they all now support his idea that foreign aid starts at $0, with the countries proving they have America's best interest in mind before receiving aid.

Rick Santorum: He seemed defensive and offensive at the same time. He defended his record very well, didn't seem disturbed at the questions asked. It is obvious that he believes what he says. He did not spare the other candidates, asking all but Perry some good questions. He was not as polite as he could have been, but he's not a frontrunner anyway so he's got nothing to lose.

Mitt Romney: This race is his to lose. He continues to defend his record and explain his record to better our understanding of him as a conservative candidate. I've long noticed that he gets a hard rap for 'supporting' things in Massachusetts that were beyond his actual control. He's convinced me that he personally has been consistently pro-life, pro-family, pro-rights in general, anti-discrimination, and that he has a solid and stellar record with fiscal conservatism. The portrayal of him as a flip-flopper comes from the left. He's also convinced me that he remains calm and polite under pressure and explains himself well, and understands well not only the problems we face as Americans but also how to solve these problems.

Newt Gingrich: He's an opportunist. He doesn't waste an opportunity to point out problems with fellow candidates, to build himself up, or to call out the moderators on some of the questions posed to him.  He comes across as a smooth politician, a conservative smooth politician, but a politician nonetheless. He does articulate principles of conservatism better than any other candidate.

Ron Paul: He got grilled on his foreign policy. On the whole, I'm relieved that he's not trying to disband the military entirely, but rather stop getting the US over-involved in the affairs of other nations. I still think he takes that premise too far. He wasn't asked much un-related to foreign policy besides his positions taken against other candidates.

Foreign Policy: I like that Mitt Romney called RonPaul out on his position by reminding us that a strong (opposite of what we have now) military wouldn't likely need to be used because no one would ever want to cross it! He also reminded us that President Obama is expecting the Afghan people to continue the war on the Taliban after he's withdrawn American troops, and after he's offered to compromise with the Taliban. That's a weak position for both us and the people of Afghanistan.

Conservatism: All of them are doing a great job showing conservative colors, including Romney.  All of them are doing a great job focusing on Obama and calling him out for his USA-defeating policies. They're all doing a great job explaining where and why the federal government has grown too big for its britches and which types of things should be granted back to the states, like Medicaid, education, etc.

DREAM Act: Romney supports killing treasonous citizens of the United States, that have aligned themselves with groups who have declared war on the United States. I support that too. I want clarification on his views concerning what Rick Santorum brought up later: that the power given the executive branch could be widely abused and the previous rights granted to citizens involved in treasonous activities are sufficient, and no new powers are needed.

Social Security: Gingrich wants to move to a private model like Chile, which has seen the growth of personal savings, personal wealth, and government capital in Chile because they're not having to pay for retirements! I support that. However, Santorum brought up a good point: we're starting $15T in debt (thus far) and before we can start shifting young people away from paying into Social Security as it exists now, we need to put it in the black. Romney supported that measure and said that his tax-free savings accounts proposed for middle-income Americans would do the same thing. Encourage them to save for their own retirements. Romney didn't address whether he'd support phasing out Social Security to a more private model. Nor did he mention that Americans would have an inducement to save, but not additional income to save from since they'd continue paying Social Security.

Super-PACs: Gingrich keeps asking Romney to tell his super-PACs to stop airing lies, even though the law requires no contact between candidates and their super-PACs, and even though Gingrich's super-PACs lies have been bigger than any of the rest! Romney got Gingrich to admit as much, and then Romney aired the view that all the candidates would love to see all PACs disappear with the repeal of McCain campaign finance reform laws!  They'd all like to see anyone be allowed to contribute however much they want and to be responsible for their own ads.

Taxes: They're all pretty conservative, arguing that government expenditures have ballooned away from government revenue, which has stayed relatively flat. The underdogs like to boast that their plans are boldest. That may be, but could they get them passed through the legislature? I doubt it, except in Gingrich's case because he's a bully. Ron Paul supports no tax at all! He didn't say where the government got its money from before 1913 when federal taxation began. I'm guessing he wants to return to that source. How he'd convince Congress to defund everything is beyond me.

Welfare: Gingrich consistently tackles this issue directly, and he does it well. Having lived temporarily in a ghetto, I know all too well that what he says is right and absolutely necessary to change the way we think about entitlements and those people dependent on them. Right now, there is no incentive for people on entitlements to work because they can get housing, health care, food stamps, even help with bills because of entitlements. Right now, those out of work get 99 weeks of unemployment - that's long enough for an associate's degree, as Gingrich pointed out! He would like all unemployment benefits to come with jobs training, through private businesses. He supports public aid requiring work for their benefits, essentially making these people employable. He would like to see the need for food stamps die out because people get out of poverty. I think all the candidates agree with this sort of thinking, but I haven't heard them express it like he has.

Again, it's worth the watch if you missed it. The next one is Thursday evening at 8 ET. Then next week in Florida there will be two more, Monday and Thursday again. After that, we get a respite for awhile!