Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What is next with the new congress

I am happy with the GOP victory this election cycle.  Really.  This is the best thing that can happen for a conservative Democrat.  Obama and his very-liberal policies needed to be stopped or at least slowed down.  But it leaves some interesting thoughts, so I have some predictions (though my predictions are worth the price you a paying)

  • Obama will run unopposed in 2012 for the Democrat ticket
  • The new House will have a big fight on who the next Speaker will be…  Traditional GOP leadership or a Tea Party supported Speaker
  • In the end the traditional GOP leader will retain their control in exchange for supporting the Tea Party agenda items
  • The Senate will tone things down and possibly pass more than most are expecting and allow President Obama to veto the legislations.  The are a lot of seats up for grabs in 2012 currently held by Dems.
  • Pelosi will retain the leadership, but have much more difficulty herding the cats.  Many of those who did not want to go along with her liberal agenda lost their seats.  She is left with the faithful.
  • Marco Rubio is a prime candidate to VP in 2012, though it is too soon for him to run for President
  • Obama will blame the people, republicans, and his own staff for the loss.  He will claim that he simply did not do a good job at politiking the situation (because he is trying to be above such things) and never admit that his ideas are wrong
  • Obama will NOT compromise with the new congress on anything substantial.
  • The eceonmy will rebound in 2011-2012.  Companies are looking forward to the gridlock
  • Obama-care will not have any major elements repealed

Other observations.  My favorite candidates that won were both from Florida.  I like Rep. Allen West and Sen. Marco Rubio.  I wish that the Democrat party could attract talent like these two, however they are not even considered since they are not liberal.  Pity.

Time to take back the party.  Send money to conservative democrat candidates.  Get democrat tea party events scheduled (don’t invite Palin).  Insist that the American dream still exists and we can do better for ourselves without the government spending the money of our grandchildren. 

Stop making things so easy for the GOP by appealing to the left-wing, weird causes.  Stick with that that is most important.  More on this later.

-Michael

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Politics is a dirty, sexist business

The recent events surrounding Nikki Haley is again leaving me with a serious quandary.  In politics I do not think you should “be nice to the girl.”  Female candidate know the risks and rewards as they choose to enter a race.  That being said I am very uncomfortable with the double standard concerning sexuality, appearance, and parenting.

For reasons that are far too apparent labeling a female candidate as a “whore” (pardon my frankness) gains far too much mileage for my tastes.  As Americans we are too easily distracted with these type of charges, even when they are unsubstantiated.  Some blogger makes a suggestion that a candidate “may” have had improper relations with him and produces no evidence other than some phone records and we jump on it hook, line, and sinker.  In my perfect world, this type of a story would go nowhere.  In my perfect world, accusers and reporters would have their credibility and facts openly scrutinized as much as the accusation.

Another label which frosts me is the idea that a mother cannot hold office and still be a good mother.  This seems extremely sexist in this day and age.  Yet, there is this underlying sentiment that prevails in political discourse.  I hear it expressed from right-wing and left-wing, political savvy women frequently.  Why is it that this is never a consideration applied to a male candidate.

And we cannot leave out the troubling criticism that if a women is good-looking (okay, okay – if she is Hot) that she is unfit for the office.  The more “Hot” she is the less qualified.  This is plain ridiculous and needs to be removed from serious political discussion and left to bad satire on SNL (which used to be very funny, but has lost its way).

Recently watching what Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and now Nikki Haley had to endure has definitely stirred up my internal moral thermometer and pissed me off.  And this is not the first time.  I remember similar feelings for Jane Byrne and Geraldine Ferraro when I was still a political pollywog.  I am particularly pissed off at the willingness of reports and editors to give this gossip column material legitimacy.  In a perfect world, editors would be the gatekeepers on this type of manipulation.

Alas, this is not a perfect world.  Reality says that winning is everything in politics.  Reality says that if you can’t win on the issues or your record that you need to discredit your opponent.  Reality says that female candidates are very vulnerable to the label of “bad mother”, “beauty queen”, and “whore.”  Reality says that these accusation rarely fail (even if untrue) and that they rarely come back against the accuser.  Reality says that perceptions are reality.

Reality is a bitch.  Wake up America.

- Michael

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BP and the oil spill

The BP oil rig disaster is now in its fifth week with estimates as late as September to solve and did you happen to notice that Hurricane season is about to begin.  This disaster is a case where there is plenty of blame to go around,  however let us not point too many fingers yet.  There are lots of technical reasons why the oil is still spilling at an alarming and frankly unknown number of gallons per day.  The valves are damaged at the source, the pipes are leaking is several places, and the underground damage is as of yet only being theorized.  As I understand it the pressure is tremendous and were this on the surface there are all sorts of options, however being on the gulf floor makes things very difficult and much more dangerous.

The relief wells are being placed to siphon off the pressure and allow underwater crews to do their work, but those wells are weeks/months away from being completed.  This solution is historically very reliable yet this is uncharted territory.

The cause for the disaster are one thing, the fixing of the problem lies squarely on two groups.  That’s right I said TWO parties.  The oil industry with BP at the forefront AND the community of nations with the United States of America at the forefront.  These entities are the only ones with the resources to fix this problem and I for one would like to see them earn the respect and reliance they have demanded from us.  Oil companies have earned nice profits for the risks they take and the dependency on energy that exists.  Nations, some more than others, have also benefited nicely on our dependency on energy.

I have no doubt that in the aftermath of this disaster the oil industry will take it in the mouth, and well they should.  That being said I am also confident that government with accept NO responsibilities for the lack of response.  How do the “Gas” taxes get spent?  Where is FEMA?  Perhaps they have a plan for this.  Perhaps the administration needs to spend more time understanding how to respond to disasters.

I am disappointed in the oil industry who did not adequately prepare for this scenario.  I am glad to see that they have owned up to the problem publicly (and are undoubtedly doing CYA behind the scenes).

I am disappointed at how long it took for the administration to respond.  There seems to have been a desire to blame and use this incident for political gain than stepping in an solving the problem.  That being said, I think they are now committing all the resources they can.

As a conservative, as an American, I feel for the businesses that are going to be hit hard.  The fisherman and the tourism owners and employees who are the innocent victims.  I also foresee the increase in costs associated with new safety procedures and regulations.  Those costs will not be assumed by the government or the oil companies they will be paid for by the consumer.  By us.  It is regrettable and probably inevitable, but have no doubts the the government will use this as an opportunity to gain more control.

Perhaps a sensible discussion about alternate energies is appropriate in a future blog.

-Michael

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Healthcare Reform post-passage

It took me a while to finally calm down enough to say a few words about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.  I think that it is a mistake.  Not a catastrophe, not the end of everything, but a long-term and probably fatal mistake.  It is also a perfect example of everything bad about our form of government.

“Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” – Winston Churchill

Democracy in the United States is derived from the people, but it is a balance between private interests, corporate interests, and bureaucratic interests each struggling for control.  Corporate interests are the most obvious, they are looking to control their environment in order to produce profits.  Personal interests are the ideologically minded who wish to control the thoughts and behaviors of others.  The bureaucratic interests are the natural traits within all governments to control everything.

The people are the currency, by appealing to the actions and desires of the citizenry as they pursue happiness the struggle for control is waged.

That being said, the bureaucratic interests have had the advantage though most of history and especially in the western democracies.  Health reform is not about health reform, it has very little to do with patient protection, and nothing to do with affordable health care.  It is about control.  And the government has made a power grab.

Part 1 – The Noble Goal

The goal of affordable heath care is noble; the currently applied means will only lead to disaster.  Let challenge some of the myths and reason out some of the effects.

- Affordable health care is a right. No, it isn’t.  And it can’t be a right.  Rights are based upon personal and group freedoms.  Health care is a service and can be usurped for the common good, like public education, emergency service, and utilities — but it is not a right.

- Health care insurance companies can no longer consider pre-existing conditions. Mostly true.  And all of those insured will pay higher premiums.  The insurance companies are not a governmental agency that can run in the red (at least not yet).

- Health care costs will go down. That has yet to be seen, but why would they.  Was tort reform addressed?  No (but they did include that they think someone should do something).  Were the research and developmental costs structures addressed?  No.  Were the shortages of health care professionals addressed?  A little with loans and more governmental programs. At the same time more regulations, responsibilities, and punishments are place upon health care providers.  The best and the brightest will be reconsidering participating in the health care industry — there is a lot of risk to consider.

Other than mandating that more people participate in health care insurance pools, none of the key factors that address costs were included in a 2000+ page law.  And a new bureaucracy was added…those are relatively cheap.  Right?

- Everyone is insured. This appears to be true (except some lucky Amish), yet passing a law to mandate that everyone get insurance is easy and doesn’t really win many kudos from me.  Shoot, anyone could have thought that one up.

- The bill is revenue neutral. This is one of the most laughable.  Let’s see, we collect taxes for 10 years and only have to payout for 6 years.  And congress still had to cook the books to get that to work (assuming the Student Loan program was one of the ways to do that).

Here are the likely outcomes.

  • Health care will attempt to become like a utility, education, or emergency services, however it will fail because those institutions can be contained by geography and the nature of the service.
  • Health care costs will grow.  Simply consider some of the reasons given above.  It will also be a negative revenue item in our growing deficit as a country.
  • The wealthy will still receive the best care available while the rest of America will experience reduced levels of service.
  • A supplemental health care service industry will evolve to allow those who are not satisfied with the public option.
  • Companies with abandon the “cadillac” plans much to the dismay of their current employees.  They will also move away from being the primary health care insurance provider.
  • Small companies will be even more effected by health care taxes as they choose to hire and expand.  This will increase the cost of doing business and make even more difficult to grow.
  • The burden of taxation will increase.  Consider this bill as simply another payroll tax, because that is essentially what it is with the usual “no opt out clause”  (again, unless you are a lucky Amish).

Becoming Amish has never looked more appealing.

- Michael

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Supreme Court is doing its job

Hello my fellow Americans.  Today I will be talking on our system of government, checks and balances, real democracy (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the ignorant), and using the recent Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  This decision is available on the internet (www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf) and I found this a fun one to read.  First off I am not a lawyer, nor have I been trained as a lawyer.  That being said I have watch “Law & Order” on TV and I was a big fan of Perry Mason as a kid.  I also know how to read and paid attention in my civics classes.  Maybe this differentiates me too much and makes me out of touch, yet I would like to see more people take an interest in life and stop being a composite of everything everyone else says.  Go to the source and read for yourself (off the soap box now).

I enjoyed this decision because I saw it as the first defining case that this recent make-up of the court has given.  I would like to examine it further and give some of my thoughts.  Before I continune, a little self-disclosure about my feelings on the justices from my uneducated perspective, while all brilliant compared to the common man (and most politicians) I have personal bias which effects my thoughts.   My favorite justice has become Roberts, my least favorite in Breyer.  Alito is too new as is Sotomayer for me to have a feeling one way or the other.  Scalia, Stevens, and Souter are fun to read (particularly Scalia who often forces me to read his stuff twice in order to get it all in), though I rarely agree with Stevens’ conclusions.  Ginsberg and Thomas are a bit dull.  But when I want a justice with passion and unpredictability there is always Kennedy (who reminds me of my grandfather).  I was very happy to see the justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for this case.

I will not go over the particulars of this case since I expect you to read for yourself, but for those of you who simply NEED a synopsis here is the overview.  Citizens Union (a PAC) produced an unflattering documentary on Hillary Clinton.  After showing the film in theatres and selling DVDs they wanted to offer the movie to subscribed via cable pay-per-view.  The problem is that the film would be offered 30 days before the primary in some markets and Citizens Union had some corporate contributions.  This put them at potential odds with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (aka McCain-Feingold).  I will avoid the particulars (again, you can read those) and stick with the salient points to a democracy.

The first amendment is not just a good idea or a battle standard for the media it is essential to a healthy democracy.  Essential.  Yet protected speech does not give you the right to say whatever you want, whenever you want.  Electioneering is a genuine threat to democracy and the government (we the people) has the responsibility ensure a proper election.  But when do the safeguards move from protective to oppressive.  Would you expect the Sierra club to hold silent on a candidate that supports logging in National Forest?  Should the NRA ignore a candidate that wants to weaken second amendment rights?  Of course not, we’d expect those organization to devote resources to defeating those candidate right up to the elections.  Yet both have received support from corporations and can therefore potential be charged with a felony.  That is right they can do jail-time for violating BCRA.

In order to not oversimplify the issue and contribute to the knee-jerk, dumb down of Americans that so many media source contribute, BRCA has provisions for avoiding violations, however the supreme court determined in a 5-4 decision that the law over exceeded its authority in regards to the Constitution.  They determined that the legislature needs to try again and not make the law so vague and cumbersome.  Doesn’t sound as bad as the press reported, does it?  The court did not destroy 100 years of precedence, nor did they turn elections over to the corporation and labor unions.   In fact, the Supreme Court did exactly what they are supposed to do in our form of government.  They are the “checks and balances” on the legislative and executive branches.

As a conservative, I want to applaud the court on this decision.  It is my sincere hope that we get more of the same.  My support has nothing to do with the ruling on campaign finances it has more to do with what this decision represents.  To best explain this view I would like to point out what the court did NOT do (for a change).  They did NOT write law; they ruled on a law written by congress.  They did NOT appeal to obscure precedence or foreign law; but used mainstream, domestic precedence.  They did NOT avoid their responsibility; rather they saw a constitutional issue and acted as an equal branch (well within their constitution power).  They did NOT push a political/social agenda; instead they considered merit and rendered a judgment.  For this they have been criticized and from what I have read the criticism is based off of ignorance.  An to be frank, the support has leaned on the ignorant side as well.

I can only hope that the court continues to hold be an active (not activist) participant in its role under the Constitution.  There are far too many legal issues that need addressing and bad laws that need to be nullified.

I am in a good mood this week…  And I have no idea what I would like to take on next…  So stay tuned.

Michael

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State of the Union

Greetings fellow conservative democrats, this week we will take a gander at the State of the Union address for 2010.  (Transcript: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-state-union-address)  I have several thoughts on the matter that I figured I would share.  My first impressions were not good, but after dissecting and letting my knee-jerk reactions settle I think I will stick to the positive, which essentially means the first part of the speech.  I will probably add a paragraph or two at the end of what I would like to see different, but most are personal. 

My biggest take away was the verbal refocus of the administration on what I think is the number one issue facing this country: jobs and economic growth.  Many of the words spoken in the speech are good, but they need to become reality.  They also must not be tempered by nullifying policies that were not mentioned in the speech, but all too often become proposals if 2009 is any indication.  The Liberal controlled congress does not believe much of the things that Obama discussed.  If it did it would not of increased deficit spending by 500 BILLION!!!

 The congress must NOT allow the US credit rating to drop below triple A.  This would have negative effects that are very difficult to describe and would be very immediate.  The only way to do this is to stop spending.  Solutions can be generalized into three reduce bureaucracy (size of government), finish up the external wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and begin to preach personal responsibility.  I will make Personal responsibility a topic for another day, but this is a big difference between liberals and conservatives, so it deserves more discussion.

 I have three weak spots where my conservatism is vulnerable to liberal solutions and President Obama hit all three of them.  Do you think he was going after people like me?  Right of center?  The words were there and my hopes rise when I hear them getting attention from the bully pulpit.  I am praying they are not dashed again…

The first is education.  I believe that education is being priced out of reach for so many who are willing and capable of so much more.  I love Pell Grants and want them available for all students whether young or old.  For example I would love to see the white collar father in his 40s, who just got laid off be able to go back for his masters.  Or the young teen who just graduated from high school and would like to continue his/her education at a junior college, but is reluctant to take on massive student loans.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have not totally abandoned my conservative core, I believe that for anything to have worth it must require sacrifice and be earned.  However, I would love to make the process a bit easier than it currently is (personal experience).  That requires an overhaul of the education bureaucracy as well as the loan/grant programs.  Perhaps some sort of matching funds.  And I would really like to get rid of the income qualifications.  Too often I bump into middle class families who make just enough to be disqualified from grant programs.

Another weakness is the area of small business.  Entrepreneurs take on so much risk it is often amazing to me why anyone would do what they do and start a new business.  Whatever policies the government can put in place to reduce these risks and burdens the better.  Here comes my conservatism (warning to all of you liberals); the biggest burden to small business is the government.  Over regulation (can anyone say Sarbanes-Oxley or OSHA or EPA?) kills small and midsized businesses.  We place an enormous burden on everyone in or to try to catch the 1%ers.  So along with small business friendly tax polices I call on President Obama to cut regulations.  Let some of the guilty get away with it in order to encourage many of the honest small business owners to succeed.  Quite frankly I think everyone should try to start a business at some point in their life.  This used to be an American cultural trait (what do you think the family farm is?) that we have lost.  And we are not the better for it as a nation. 

The third weak spot is innovation.  I love investments in innovation.  This ties in with my love of entrepreneurs.  I am for government assistance in the pet innovation areas.  Encouraging innovation in any way is positive for me. 

This administration is into “clean energy” which is fine if not misleading.  I wish they would refrain from demonizing current energy sources (or demonizing any industry for that matter – I will have to recount my true story about the industry I am in and what liberals think of it.)  Frankly, the alternate energy sources are not ready for primetime.  It is my hope they will be someday soon, but they are over-hyped for political and economic gain. 

Discouraging innovation is bad and demonizing and politicizing innovation and industries serves no public good.  Carbon-credits, global warming, and artificial government mandates are negative effects on innovation.  I love tax incentives versus tax penalties.  Investments instead of fines.  There are so many ridiculous stories about companies and municipalities having to do crazy activities in order to meet some government regulation.  You need look no farther than water and waste management policies around the country.  There are some crazy things there. 

No a short word on the end of the speech.  I was taken a back on the tone President Obama took with Congress and the Supreme Court.  It was very condescending and a bit self-aggrandizing.  In short, he still needs to earn the right to be a critical as he was.  I think he was trying to express the frustration of the American people, but it came off badly and made him look like a politician instead of a statesman. 

I think I will take on the Supreme Court reversal of part of McCain-Fiengold.  Perhaps not.  See you all in a week.  Feel free to write (conserve-democrat@gmail.com) or comment here. 

Michael

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Haiti Relief

So much to consider talking about this weekend; Harry Reid and Racism in America (is it a game changer?), the election of a new Massachusetts Senator (is it about MA or BO?), and there is the ever looming Healthcare Bill debate.  In the end I chose something that is much closer to my heart and represents several core conservative values: disaster relief in Haiti.  I will use the transcript from CBS Face the Nation where Bob Schieffer questions President Bush and President Clinton.  It was the one that generated the most controversy and provides the most material  for me to articulates the values I want to emphasize.

(Transcript: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/01/17/transcript_bush_clinton_keen_shah_face_the_nation_99936.html)

I love seeing politician in a different setting than the campaign mode.  I particularly like seeing opponents like Bush 43 and Clinton being unified on something.  We get way too much of the clash and it distorts the truth that we all agree on 95% of our values. 

My first point is about the presidents themselves and how they approached the Haiti tragedy.  They have a celebrity factor being ex-presidents.  And they are using their popularity for something other than personal gain.  I celebrate this and try to encourage others to do the same.  I emphasize this in the youth ministries by suggesting to the popular kids that they should leverage that to help bring the fringe and “follow-the-crowd” groups to events.  I like seeing a bigger example of it with the presidents doing more for Haiti by leveraging their celebrity than they could individually.

The next point that struck a conservative chord was Clinton referring to a very proper role of government (e.g. law enforcement) and by contrast laying out a very proper role for “faith-based” organizations.  Churches and people are far better at giving mercy and humanitarian aid than governments.  It is the motivation of the organization.  Governments wish to control, it is their nature.  Faith-based groups wish to commune and display the love beyond understanding, it is their nature.  Again, by way of contract, private peace-keepers are inherently problematic (Somalia) even with the best of intentions and faith-based roots.

The third interesting point I took from the dialog was the commitment to short-term AND long-term help.  This appeals to my conservative roots and the Toa philosophy of “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”  (While this is often credited to the Bible, I am pretty sure I have never seen this passage.)  Providing food, housing, and medical assistance is necessary; but equally as necessary is proving infrastructure (wells, sewage, roads, schools, and the like).  I have noticed a trend toward this type of charity in the past few years.  It is probably from a combination of factor including the continued poverty and the feed-a-child “Band-Aid” solutions that never seem to show long term results.

It is time for a brief detour into what governments do well and what they do not do well.  Good faith-based organizations, particularly local ones are really good at humanitarian aid.  I was witness to many such examples after the Katrina event in New Orleans.  New Orleans was a problem, for many reasons, however the governments pointing fingers and blaming each other brought about many unnecessary delays and needless suffering.  While not too far away in Waveland, MS (where the storm actually hit) there were amazing examples of charity and goodwill.  Waveland did not attract government/mass media attention, so all they had were the faith-based organization to rely.  And they came through.  There are a lot of good stories to look up sometime.

Final point that struck my conservative core was the note of personal responsibility.  These men were leading the charge that the citizens of the United States need to own the responsibility to help a neighbor in need.  We (the people), not the government, can do what is needed.  With that we need to support charitable organizations that are familiar.  www.whitehouse.gov is NOT my first choice and it should not be yours.  Research the organizations and demand accountability.  I am frustrated with how many people will simply give to a telephone solicitor without knowing anything about the organizations.  I refuse to do this; if they persist I ask them to supply me with documentation about the organization and I will review and consider adding them to my list of supported charities.  Be active in the world and don’t use the lame excuse “well, that is what my taxes are for” – it is very lame.

So go out there and leverage your popularity for good, not for gain; understand there is a proper role for government AND faith-based organization during a humanitarian event –try not to confuse the two;  look for long term investments in worthy humanitarian cause while never losing site of addressing the short-term needs; and take personal responsibility in giving to your local church and humanitarian organizations.  Do the research and give regularly.

I am not sure what I will take on next.   SO MANY GOOD TOPICS.

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Happy New Year

Part of my new year’s list of personal growth opportunities (tongue in cheek) is to be more active on this blog.  I have decided once a week to address a recent speech from a key player on a topic presently facing our nation.  I will approach the topic from a conservative democrat filter.

I recognize that there will be some initial negative bias since there are no KEY conservative leaders anywhere on the national landscape.  Seriously, name one.  The republicans are powerless and pathetic on the national level.  Some  may suggest Sarah Palin or a radio talk show host; however they do not hold office.  Their opinions are heard and discussed, but they do not set policy, pass laws, collect and spend your money, alter your freedoms, or put you in harm’s way.

Wait!  Now that I think about it there are a few conservatives that have that kind of power.  I will endeavor to keep an eye open to Chief Justice Roberts and other justices when they talk publicly.\

So there is it:  My new year’s resolution.  I want you all to hold me accountable…

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Read to Vote

Short rant: Is this the result of mass media minus the newspaper, which is now losing the market share amongst the instant news media and sound bytes?

Here is an interesting website that has been touted on a news channel as website dedicated to ensuring that the Government “dumbs down” the language of the legislature that is being voted on. So that, not only the congressional staffers and the “common folk” can be able to read and understand the written document but also the senators, who we elect, pay to read, and comprehend. 

Here is the website to petition our legislators to write legible legislation for the modern American mind that does not have a background in law to comprehend. http://readtovote.org/site/

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