Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Breitbart and the Obama White House’s Rush to Judgment

A few years ago, at a pub to remain anonymous, I was walking through a crowd of people to order a drink. As I passed a group of men, I jumped, startled, when someone pinched my fanny; naturally, I turned around and smacked the guy behind me and to my right—the side of the affected cheek, as it were. The young man, sporting an imprint of my hand on the side of his face, pointed sheepishly to his friend, who guiltily admitted it had been he who pinched me. Oops. Naturally, I wound up and smacked the true perpetrator and apologized to his unwitting friend. Nonetheless, had I ascertained in advance just which slimebucket was the perpetrator of the pinch, I would have saved myself an apology and the cost of a frosty cold beverage.

The Shirley Sherrod video posted by Breitbart that led to a firestorm of media attention brought into crisp clarity two things: First, the NAACP is a racist, entitlement-promoting organization, and second, that Obama learned absolutely nothing from his vaunted “beer summit,” which was only necessary because he rushed to judgment without knowing all the facts, opened his pie hole, and called a police officer “stupid” for doing his job.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Fast forward a year, and Obama rushes to judgment once again, pushing Vilsack to fire Sherrod before anyone from the White House or the USDA actually bothered to speak to Ms. Sherrod or to watch the entire video, for that matter, to ascertain all the facts of the situation. Yet somehow, the left blames Andrew Breitbart and the Tea Party for the actions of Vilsack and the Obama White House.

Let me be clear: it was the Obama White House that chose to rush to judgment. It was Obama and Vilsack who took direct action against Sherrod. There is a huge disconnect between the true and actual circumstances of this case and the manner in which it is viewed by the left.

Breitbart comes from the right; his website is filled with right-leaning pundits and conservative commentary. If you work in the White House, or on Capitol Hill, for that matter, you already know that to be the case. If you are a responsible staffer, a good leader, you verify the facts before you spring into action. If the DailyKOS or Keith Olbermann or Alan Colmes posted a video of Rick Santorum speaking about a heretofore unknown racist past at a meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Caucasian People, you can bet that if it is my job to follow potential 2012 presidential candidates, I’m going to chase down the facts of the story—all the details—before I demand he ride off into the sunset.

Breitbart showcased not only a black woman speaking of her own racism and her recovery from it, but no less importantly, the behavior of NAACP members who rejoiced at the perceived manifestation of racial bigotry by one of their own. Despite the fact that the woman continued to explain how she overcame her own prejudice, the immediate response of the NAACP members at that meeting in March was very telling and is perhaps as significant a part of the story as the Obama Administration’s rush to judgment…again.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Obama as Robin Hood, or Entitlement and Justification

I often ask myself how it is that a rational human being can justify the viewpoint that he is deserving of something simply because he wants it. How does a man look to one who is better off than he and come to the determination that the well-off man owes him something because of that success? Why do liberals look at those who are wealthy and believe they are due some of that wealth? What evil festers in the heart of a man who looks at a Donald Trump or a Nelson Rockefeller, a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffet or a Walton, and concludes that he is deserving of a portion of their wealth because he has none of his own? Why is it that liberals believe that people who work hard and earn more, or at least enough to afford to pay for their own needs, including their own health insurance, should be required to pay to provide for the needs of others? How is that conceivably justifiable?

I refer to those who feel entitled by merit of their existence, those in this country who demand something for nothing--who expect to be cared for without being willing to care for themselves or work for themselves--who would rather demand handouts, reparations, entitlements, etc. from the government--which, in case you haven't noticed, is US--that is OUR money they are spending. Even those on the right side of the aisle who consider themselves “compassionate conservatives” seem to embrace the same startling point of view: that a person is somehow entitled to food, drink, shelter, medical care, education, etc. by merit of his very existence--that there is no obligation for him to earn these things, but that they should be provided without question. How astounding it is that there are so many people who demand sustenance, shelter, health care, and education, without being willing to work for them!

Those things are not guaranteed "rights." A person does not have the right to demand that I provide him with water because I have a bottle of it; he cannot rightfully demand to sleep in my house because I have a spare bedroom; he cannot require me to pay for his broken arm for no other reason than that I earn enough to afford it and he does not.

Similarly, free food and water are not human rights. The equal opportunity to compete for food and water is a human right. You want water? Pay your water bill or live next to a stream, or walk to the stream, get the water (hopefully boil it), and then drink it. And once you have successfully acquired it, endeavor to prevent someone who is either unwilling or unable to go to the creek for his own water from taking it from you by force, or by government fiat--either that or be prepared to spend a lot of time walking back and forth to the stream to provide water for the unwilling, while never getting any for yourself.

If you are the free rider—if you are the one receiving the benefit of another's work—if you are the one getting the water without having to get off your arse to walk to the well or the stream—if you are the one getting money for nothing, I imagine you view the system as a good one. However, this school of thought is so far removed from the mindset of Americans at the time of the founding of our country that I don't know if the Founders could have imagined a people so unwilling to work to feed and clothe and educate and care for themselves, but rather, who spend more and more of their efforts in determining new ways to take what they need from those who ARE willing to work.

The way to achieve a better life is to advance your skills and your abilities so that you have more earning power and therefore place yourself in a better position for the future. If a person deems his employer-provided insurance to be inadequate, he is free to find a different employer with a better insurance plan. The key is that he must have the skills required by that employer. Failing that, he has the option to spend more on insurance and less on other things. The part of socialism that liberals seem unwilling to recognize is that the majority of citizens pay no taxes at all, placing the burden for financing the needs of the masses on those who do earn—the free-rider problem.

Socialism discourages the producers from working--why should I work if I am unable to enjoy the fruits of my labor? Why should I work if it is only to support people who are unwilling to make the same financial decisions or expend the same effort to improve their marketability in the workplace that I made? By what right does one demand that someone else support him or his family? It is not "the government" who pays the price, it is the taxpayer--people like us, who work hard and would prefer to keep a larger portion of the 37% of our income that the government appropriates. However, there is limited probability that I would ever be able to convince a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat of its negative impact, because the Democrat constituency is reliant on having a hand in my wallet to ensure its very survival.

How could I possibly explain to someone who demands my money—albeit through a middleman--that he is not deserving of it by merit of the simple fact that he has less than I have? Generally, we respond to extortion and strong arm robbery with the law--unfortunately, the Obama administration seems to be using the law for the purpose of extortion. I can't be surprised, because Obama did state during his campaign that he planned to redistribute income. It doesn't change the fact that to do so is immoral, reprehensible, and has all the markers of Marxist/Leninist revolutionary behavior. From each, according to his ability, to each according to his need. Sound familiar?

Democrats supported the health “reform bill,” the Wall Street “reform” bill, and most other bills promoting the redistribution of wealth, because they see it as a way to buy votes from their constituency. They are counting on a type of class warfare that they incite by pointing at the wealthy and telling their constituency that those wealthy people are stealing from the common man...that the wealthy have no right to their money or their property. That the world would be fairer if the rich man had to give his money to the poor man--regardless of whether or not the poor man was willing to work for it. It's the whole bastardized Robin Hood mentality--take from those with more, and we won't call it stealing or hold you accountable so long as you give it to "the poor."

It is my view that those who want to get something for nothing, those who wish to reap the rewards of other people's labor, are lazy, unethical, and morally inferior. I believe that the forced redistribution of wealth, whether done at the hands of a robber with a gun, or Congress with the IRS as their weapon of choice, is a criminal act.

You can tax me into penury, you can force me to support you through government-mandated entitlement programs shoved down my throat by an out-of-control Congress, but you cannot force me to like it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Health Care Mandates and a Free Society

I think people often assume that those of us on the right support everything former President Bush did during his tenure. I admit that I am sick to the gills of leftists, liberals, self-declared moderates, pseudo-independents, et al, using former President Bush as a scapegoat for every single failure of the Obama presidency. Declaring mindlessly that everything from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the economic collapse of Fannie and Freddie to the failure of Congress to put forth a budget to Iraq to Afghanistan to the weather rests solely at the feet of George W. Bush is absolutely ludicrous. If you can no more support Obama than by blaming his predecessor, then Obama is a weak president and a failed leader, indeed.

I recently commented that the single most reprehensible act committed by George W. Bush was to promote and sign into law the first bailout. By doing so, he set the stage for the current economic disaster, for the very real assault on free markets and capitalist principles, and for the socialist policies of the Obama administration. For that single act, in large measure, the blame for the multiple bailouts and nationalization of private industry can be placed squarely at his feet. He should have taken the principled position and vetoed the bailout. He did not, and we are all paying the consequences.

No company is “too big to fail.” Failure will cause short-term pain and misery, then the free market will take over and the vacuum will be filled by eager, determined companies willing to provide the same or better service at a lower cost. Nature and the market abhor a vacuum.

I speak often in opposition to Obama’s stated goals and policy initiatives promoting wealth redistribution. Health care is a prime example. Not only is it a blatant over-extension of governmental authority by using Art. 1, Sec. 8 of the Constitution to demand that every single American purchase a specific product, against his will, but the basic premise of nationalizing the entire health care system, dictating what care can be given to whom, and under what circumstances, is abhorrent to a free society.

Another thing anathema to a free society and a democratic republic of the people is the manner in which the health care bill was created and passed. For the third most powerful person in the line of government succession to tell the American people that a bill must first be passed before those whom it affects can know what said bill contains is a blatant violation of the public trust. Also in violation of the sacred duty bestowed upon our elected representatives is their failure to read the health reform legislation before voting it into law.

Some take no exception to fact that the federal government is forcing every American, by virtue of citizenship, to purchase a product against his will. I regard it as an unconstitutional violation of my civil liberties. Additionally, should I willfully refuse to buy this product the government demands I purchase, then I can be fined up to $25,000 and/or imprisoned because my government has authorized the Internal Revenue Service to enforce this mandatory purchase. Even in the best case scenario, my refusal to purchase this government-mandated product will result in the IRS using monies I overpaid to the government—my money—to pay this illegal fine, due process be damned.

I deem this a contravention of the rights granted to me under my Constitution, and I will fight to right this wrong.

Driving Technology

I recently took the opportunity to thank Steve Jobs and the techies at Apple for inventing the iPhone. I truly believe that it is one of the most life-changing pieces of technology in recent memory. In the palm of my hand, I can hold my telephone, my phone book, my GPS, my email, an alarm clock, a dictionary, a guide to birds of North America, music, a few games for staving off boredom while traveling, and even movies and television, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other uses brought to hand by application developers the world over. It is absolutely amazing.

That being said, with all that technology immediately available, it would be easy to let the technology drive me, rather than the other way around. How many people turn to their smartphone instead of a book when they can’t sleep, or when they are bored? How many times do you find yourself reaching for your iPhone while watching a movie, instead of allowing the film to entertain you? How often do you give your husband or your wife or your children—the most important people in your life—only a portion of your attention, because your other eye is on your iPhone, following Twitter or facebook, or reading email or news or baseball scores?

I’m guilty, but I’m recovering.

I’m putting the iPhone aside in the evenings to spend time with my husband. There is nothing so important, no debate so interesting, and no liberal so desperately needing a smackdown, that can or should draw me away from time with my husband. It is difficult for me, because I’m competitive by nature. I can make catching a metro, climbing stairs, folding towels or even drying dishes a competition. I want to be faster, smarter, better. I want to throw harder, jump higher, and finish first. I think it’s so deeply ingrained in my DNA that I sometimes have angst from denying my competitive impulses.

I’m recovering. I’m picking my races; I’m controlling my absorption with things that push my competitive buttons.

Which brings me to the point of these personal revelations…I’m doing things on my time, on my terms, and in a way that is best for me and my family. A consequence of that appears to be that sometimes a cavalcade of liberals will think they’ve stumped me, or that I cannot defend against their spurious attacks, whether against me personally, or John Wayne, or George Bush. And that’s ok. I’m driving the technology, it’s not driving me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why Obama Can’t Defend America

I’m a big fan of bookstores—used books, new books, stores with nooks and crannies, stores with baristas—pretty much any store that sells books. It is one of the first things my husband, a veteran and a member of the armed forces for 20 years, and I discovered that we had in common. We both grew up reading—our parents were readers, and our mothers spent quality time reading to us. The first time I met his family in their home, I snuck out and called my mom, telling her gleefully, “They have BOOKS!”

My husband and I are the type of people who brave the masses for book sales and little else. We can often be found with our noses in a book, both figuratively and literally—there is nothing like the smell of an old, well-made, gently used book. One of my favorite used bookstore finds was a copy of a book edited by Donald Robinson, published in 1958, entitled, “The Day I Was Proudest to be an American.” I love the anecdotes in that book. My heart thrilled to read about the success stories of immigrants, the life-changing events witnessed by my fellow Americans, and so many moments that filled my heart with pride and honor at my good fortune to have been born in this country, to have been born an American.

This is a feeling that every citizen should share, but most especially, our nation’s leaders should recognize and share that sense of honor, of pride, of carrying the torch of freedom to others—of standing as a beacon of light demonstrating what honest labor, freedom of thought, and the pursuit of success in an open economy, should mean. Freedom isn’t a guarantee of success, but a guarantee that you have the opportunity to work for it in the freest market in the world. Liberty is not a guarantee of a chicken in every pot, but an assurance that your government will not impede you in your lawful and honest pursuit of it. Freedom of speech shouldn’t be used as an excuse to say anything one pleases without being held accountable; but rather, it carries an obligation to educate one’s self to gain greater understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship.

Obama is unable to support and defend America because he doesn’t comprehend what it means to be American. He has never put a stake in the ground and worked to defend it. He hasn’t looked to this country as a place of opportunity where hard work brings reward. He has never invested anything in America other than words.

Our president hasn’t spent much time in America; he was not educated in a system that by its very existence demonstrates American exceptionalism. His understanding of our Founding Fathers, of our Revolution, of our strenuous efforts to create a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, came from law school, not at his father's knee and not from basic civics classes in grammar school. He appears to imagine himself more a citizen of the world than a citizen of the United States of America; he is only proud of America when she conforms to his ideals. He married a woman who was only proud to be American once her husband was elected.

This is not leadership, and it is definitely not American leadership. A United States President must put this country’s interests FIRST. He must sweat and worry over the death of every soldier or Marine he sends to battle. He must recognize deeply within his soul and his gut that America is worth fighting for, that her ideals, her Constitution, her laws, and yes, her borders, are worth defending. He must recognize that every inch of this land was earned with blood, the sweat of hard work, and the patriotism of determined men who stood ready to die to ensure the survival of America.

Obama acknowledges none of this. The actions of this administration demonstrate that Obama is willing to subvert the law to maintain his tenuous hold on power. He is dangerous because he does not recognize that the survival of America is more important than his presidency--more important than any president. To remedy this, we must have rational Americans in control of Congress. Americans who understand what it means to be an American.

Remember this in November.

A Litany of Excuses - Michael Steele's RNC

At this point, I think we can agree that Michael Steele has been an unmitigated disaster for the GOP. From his ignorance of the Club Voyeur fiasco to his abysmal fundraising numbers to the oft-repeated gum-flapping that tends to result in error piling upon disaster, he has not delivered for the GOP. Steele has not been able to unify conservatives, he has not managed to formulate a cohesive message, and rather than accepting responsibility for his failure in leadership, he is on record as implying that he views his own party as racist and bigoted.

If the GOP manages to salvage this election cycle, it will be done on the backs of the fed-up tea party voters, and not because it earned support or swayed independents to the GOP position.

Michael Steele and the Politics of Failure

The latest Michael Steele debacle had me thinking about the RNC, and how they seem destined to seize defeat from the jaws of victory. At every turn, Michael Steele shows himself to be more interested in self-promotion than in the promotion of conservative principles and ideals. It is not a new phenomenon for Steele. I looked back through my old correspondence, and thought I'd reprint the letter I wrote to the RNC last fall.

1 November 2009

Republican National Committee
Membership Office
310 First Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20077-1084

Dear Sir or Ma’am:

I have been a Republican since I first registered to vote; I chose to identify myself as such because I believed strongly in the core principles the party espoused: smaller government, free markets, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, and personal liberty. I still believe in those principles. I am not sure that the Republican Party under the leadership of Michael Steele is capable of standing firmly for those principles.

In the past several months, I have received several solicitations for donations from the RNC. I’ve read each missive carefully, searching for a cogent statement of principle or enumerating the values and ideas Mr. Steele’s GOP embraces. I haven’t found it. Not once, in any of the 2-3 communications per week that I’ve received.

Instead, I have received a succession of requests whose primary focus has been on pointing fingers at the Democrats, casting blame onto Obama, and returning power to the Republicans. I have received requests for donations with “past due” stamped in red on the envelopes. When I called the RNC to register my dismay at the effrontery—the chicanery—of such solicitations, most notably those stamped “past due,” I received not an apology or a statement that the RNC would consider changing its methods, but a letter removing me from the RNC’s contact list. Talk about not getting it!

Meanwhile, I’ve watched the RNC’s leadership endorse RINOs like Scozzafava and Crist, while ignoring the strong conservative credentials of Hoffman and Rubio. Insofar as returning Republicans to power is concerned, the Republicans in Congress, with few exceptions, do not deserve to remain in office due to their betrayal of conservative principles and their support of pork-laden bills and bailouts. Neither do the Democrats, but that is a story for another day.

I have yet to determine exactly where Mr. Steele believes the party should go—I’m not sure he knows. I don’t believe he can lead the party anywhere. The Republican party leadership needs to embrace conservatism and solidify the party’s message—to make it clear, as Reagan so ably did, that a return to conservative principles is not only the best option for the country, but is in fact the only viable option.

The RNC needs to work on developing and espousing a statement of principle that speaks to those of us who still believe that WE are the best arbiters of our own lives, not a ubiquitous government; that WE have the power to change our circumstances through our own efforts, not through edicts from the state, and certainly not through entitlement programs; that WE are best able to decide if, how, and when to spend or save what we earn, not the IRS or the spendthrifts in Congress.

I still consider myself a Republican. Taking me off the mailing list doesn’t change that. However, I am extremely disappointed in the party and in Mr. Steele as its leader. Any donation to the RNC under the current leadership would be throwing good money after bad.


Darcy #############