Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Really Important Things

I genuinely believe all the political stuff is important.  It affects us all on a daily basis, and will have an even bigger impact on future generations of Americans.  Still, when you really cut to the core of what's important, it's people.  It always boils down to people, and relationships.

I would have tried to post something about this day, but as usual my wife is far better at this sort of thing than I am, so I'm going to copy her post from earlier this morning here and simply say, 'me too'.

4 years ago right now, we were leaving the hospital after telling our baby boy good-bye. Riding out of the maternity ward in a wheelchair, empty handed, I felt relief at the prospect of getting to go home, and, of course, extreme sadness to be going home without my baby. I held, in my lap, a small wooden box filled with a lock of Caden's hair, moldings of his hand and footprints, and the measuring tape they had used to see how long he was. Friends had given us the box so we wouldn't have to leave the hospital entirely empty handed. I was so grateful for that box. It would be months before I could look through its contents without feeling like I was reliving our "silent birth" experience all over again, but in the years since Caden's heaven day, I have pulled it out often to look at his hair and touch the outfit that he wore. These physical reminders bring such comfort.

There are certain things about time passing that makes grief lessen. The emotions aren't as fresh, the pain not quite as searing. However, time passing also means that's another year we haven't gotten to celebrate a birthday, watch our boy grow, or learn more about his personality. We should be deciding where to send him to preschool this year....not missing him terribly.

I received a card from a friend and former co-worker in the mail this morning. She is always so good to remember this day. Her words said "Your kids are getting so big, but we are thinking about the one who is missing." Those words touched my soul deeply. There is a hole in our family that will remain there forever. There still aren't many roadtrips where I don't think about how amazing it would be to have 4 carseats in our van. How nice it would be to request a table for 6 instead of a table for 5 at a restaurant. How I would love to buy Christmas presents for 4 kids.

In those moments of longing, I am quickly reminded of how blessed we are. There aren't words to express our gratefulness for our 3 beautiful children who are here with us, and for the ways in which God has enabled us to memorialize Caden in our lives and family. We are so thankful for the friends and family who are praying for us today, cherishing the life of our baby boy along with us. We are grateful for the lessons our journey with Caden taught us and continues to teach us daily. One of our babies was received into heaven 4 years ago today. In a quiet hospital room, amongst great heartache, an angel was born. A piece of heaven came into our lives. We celebrate this journey in the midst of our sadness.

Caden Adair, thank you for allowing us to hold you in our arms for a few brief moments. More than that, thank you for holding a place in our hearts forever. You are missed and loved in a way that words cannot express.

Me, too.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Message To GOP: Now Or Never

I had a gigantic long post all prepared, and then I came across a pair of links that pretty much summed up my sentiments.  I'll probably post the gigantic one in the next few days just to be thorough, but this open letter to the GOP from Drew at Ace of Spades resonated so strongly with me that it works for now (edited for language):

Dear GOP, 
This is your last chance. If you blow this, I'm out and you need to be destroyed.
What is it? Repeal ObamaCare on Day 1. Don't worry about replace, don't worry about anything else. We will do everything we have to drag your sorry asses over the line this fall, including electing Mitt F***ing Romney. 
In return this is what you will do: 
Instead of adjourning for pictures and tea and cake to celebrate getting your pathetic asses elected to 2 or 6 years on the government teet, you will immediately pass a one line bill that says, "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (and whatever statute number has to be included) is hereby repealed." 
That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. 
Since Congress meets before Inauguration Day, Obama will still be President. Simply hold the legislation at the desk so the 10 day pocket veto clock doesn't start. If other parliamentary BS is needed, just do it. 
Then as soon as Mitt takes the oath of office, before his speech no one will care or remember, walk the bill up to him at the podium to sign. 
If this does not happen, the GOP must be destroyed and a new party built to replace it. We've tried the carrot approach (votes, money, volunteers) to change your behavior. Now it's time to show you the stick. 
No more, "oh the other guys are worse" scare tactics. That might be true but it doesn't mean you are any good. 
This is your one job, do it or join the Whig Party in the dustbin of history.

I cannot agree more with this letter!!!

This is assuming a Romney win and a takeback of the Senate, of course.  If those things don't happen then I think the nation as we grew up in is all over but the shriveling process.  I'll address all of that more in the afore-mentioned gigantic post.

The point above, though, was expounded upon at Hot Air and Glen Beck:

Drew’s captured the mood of the base well in his post, I think. If the GOP ends up with the numbers to repeal O-Care, it’d be a catastrophic, possibly politically fatal betrayal at this point for them not to follow through. The fact that it was Roberts who swung to the left in today’s decision rather than the mercurial Kennedy only compounds conservatives’ trauma: At this point, a la Beck, it really does feel like there’s no one in a position of power who can be trusted. The last Republican president ran up big deficits and expanded health-care entitlements; the Republican chief justice he appointed just voted to uphold ObamaCare; and the current Republican nominee pioneered the concept of health-care mandates in Massachusetts. If a Republican-controlled Congress rubber-stamps Obama’s health-care leviathan by refusing to act on it, I don’t know what happens to turnout in 2014 and 2016. Good news for the No Labels crowd, I guess — that’ll be the closest America’s come yet to seeing a true third party develop.

If this doesn't fly, I'll be crowding Drew from behind.  I'm out.  Done.  Finished.  No more Republican for me.

I want this to become the new rallying cry of conservatives: This is your last chance, GOP.  Poop or get off the pot.  It's now or never.  If you don't get this right, you're out.  Or, rather, I'm out.

Is it too much to ask for honesty in representation?  Is it too much to expect that what is promised is what will be delivered?  Beck is right - much of Obama's problems are the result of unfulfilled promises, and Romney is facing the same decision should he win.  Many Republicans are saying the right things right now (including Romney), which is great.  But it's easy right now.  The problem is that I have zero confidence that when it becomes hard -- when they have both houses of Congress and the White House, and their votes to repeal will actually end in repeal -- they will follow through.

And that's the problem.  We've seen it too many times, especially over the last three years, and especially from people like Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell, and John Boehner.

I don't think I'm alone...far from it.  I think the base is so angered, frustrated, and, well, jilted right now that I genuinely believe the Republican party may be in some true trouble if they don't follow through on this immediately and with all strength possible.  It's still a long time until the election, so anything can happen...but we're talking foundational, structural, core beliefs that are at the heart of this political party, and it's time for a direction to be chosen, for good or for ill.

We'll see.  More details coming.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm Farming And I Grow It

On a day like today, with the news what it is...this is a palate cleanser extraordinaire!!!

Oh, yeah!

Cool thing #1: this is a fantastic portrayal of farming, which is sorely lacking in the world today
Cool thing #2: this video went viral, with over 1 million views in less than three days!
Cool thing #3: these guys are distant relatives of mine!!!

They are slated to be on Fox & Friends tomorrow morning at 7am.  Check 'em out!

It's The End Of The World As We Know It...

No, not really.  Just the end of a free America as we know it:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul.

The decision means the huge overhaul, still only partly in effect, will proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care. The ruling also hands Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court's judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

The justices rejected two of the administration's three arguments in support of the insurance requirement. But the court said the mandate can be construed as a tax. "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," Roberts said.

There will be reams upon reams of analysis and comment over the coming days, and I'll be sure to post the best of it here.  For now, here's my rationale.

If the government can force its citizens to buy one thing, it can therefore force its citizens to buy (or not buy) anything.  Don't be surprised if we start seeing this case referenced as justification to force people to buy 'green' cars that cost more and aren't as good as what we'd like (there's a reason the sales of the Volt and Leaf number in the hundreds rather than the millions like most other cars).  So much for choice and freedom in how we spend our own money.  And, when you really boil it down, pretty much everything affects our health in some way.  What we eat, what we wear, where we live, how we live, where we drive, how much we drive, what we drive, what we breathe, what we drink, how much we eat, how much we drink, how much trash we produce, what we buy, what we don't buy, what we do for entertainment, where we go to school, where we work...the list is literally endless, and if this logic holds then the government can literally dictate any and all of these things to each and every one of us.

I'm curious to see what effect this decision has on the election.  The Obama administration is going to trumpet this as a major win, and it is for them.  However, it is a major win that 55-60% of the country didn't want two years ago and still doesn't want today.  Will this energize that huge majority of the nation and usher Obama and Congressional Dems to the door in yet another huge sweeping election victory?  Only time will tell.

I sincerely hope so, but the problem as I see it is that even if the GOP takes both houses of Congress and the White House, I'm not convinced they have the stones to repeal it.  It's one thing for the House to pass bill after bill to repeal when they know with certainty the Senate won't ever bother to vote, and even if they did the President would still veto.  If the GOP runs all three, then they will actually have to do it for real, and I question their spines to do that.

Again, time will tell.  More later.  For now, good-bye liberty.  The thought of my children growing up in this new world sickens me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Can You Hear The Hallelujah Chorus In The Background?

It's official:

A four-team playoff for college football has been formally approved by a presidential oversight committee, a dramatic change for the sport that will begin in 2014 and continue through the 2025 season. The four teams will be chosen by a selection committee, the semifinals will be held at current bowl sites and the national championship game will be awarded to the highest bidder.


They're still hacking through the details of how teams will be selected and all that, and it's subject to approval by the NCAA and a bunch of other red tape, but the key is that it's actually happening.  Personally, I'd like to see an 8-team playoff, with all of the major conference champions and a couple of at-large spots awarded purely on the basis of final rankings, but this is a fantastic first step.  Once the playoff door was opened, a world of possibilities opened up, and it's just a matter of time until things settle in.  Not that there won't be controversy, of course.  It's athletics, so there will always be controversy.  But, the point is that most of the idiocies of the current BCS ranking system will be minimized by giving more teams a chance at proving their ability on the field at the end (depending on the selection process, of course...let's hope they get that right, too).

One note that I heard recently that's worth repeating.  For all these years, one of the big points of resistance to a playoff system is the claim that it would have supposedly rendered the regular season meaningless.  That's got to be one of the least intelligent arguments I've heard for retaining the old fuddy-duddy bowl system!  The reality is precisely the opposite.  Right now, if you are a team with championship aspirations, you cannot lose.  If you get national press love and can make a compelling case, you can sometimes get away with one loss to another championship caliber team, but two losses essentially guarantees you a trip to one of a thousand ridiculously named pud bowls with mediocre attendance and even less TV viewership.  How meaningful is your regular season if you start off 0-2?  Or, take another scenario that we see often - a loss in September hurts a team less than a loss in November because it's less fresh in everyone's mind and everyone assumes a certain level of improvement through the year.  With a playoff, you can suffer a couple of setbacks at any point in the year and still have an even shot at getting into the big dance.  Every game genuinely does matter.

Unlike some years, where we have the championship game played twice, and where the one in the regular season really didn't matter.  Ahem.

Anyway, I'm guessing it's just a matter of time until more teams are allowed in.  Whether it's four, eight, or 65 teams that get 'in', the team(s) sitting just outside the cutoff will always bellyache about deserving to be in.  But, that bellyaching will get less and less relevant the further you get from the top.  Team #3 will usually have a legitimate argument for being 'in', Team #5 isn't really that far-fetched and is likely to at least make some waves, Team #9 has a very slim outside shot if all the right magic happens at the right time...but Team #17 needs to just go home and start prepping for next year.  There's a reason they're ranked #17, you know?  After all, if you can't get that close to the top four or eight based on your regular season ranking, do you really deserve a shot for the title?  No.

I'm confident that it'll happen in the next couple years.  For now, I'll happily take the four team playoff as the first baby steps into an awesome new world of college football.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not Obamacare, But Illegal Immigration

The Obamacare ruling is yet to come, but today's big news was the ruling on the Obama administration suing the state of Arizona for enforcing immigration law.  As usual, don't pay much attention to the splashy headlines all over the propaganda wing of the Democrat party mainstream media. Instead, pay attention to this:

In all the analysis of whether Arizona or Pres. Obama came out on top in the Supreme Courts ruling on S.B. 1070 today, the key question is: how well did unemployed Americans fare? 

And the answer is: Very well. 

Combined with another Court ruling on an Arizona law last year, states now have all the legal room they need to pursue attrition-through-enforcement measures that cause illegal aliens to depart from a state, opening up jobs for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants. 

Although headlines have focused on the court knocking down three of four provisions before it, it should be noted that S.B. 1070 began with 14 sections. After all the challenges at several court levels, 11 of those sections are still standing and the court today ruled against only half of the twelfth. The one that was cleared today by the Court was the right of police to question people about their immigration status. This may be the most important provision in causing illegal aliens to leave Arizona, judging by the frenzy of concerned reaction by the pro-amnesty forces and the Obama administration. 

We have always regarded S.B. 1070 as supplementary to the far more important, earlier Arizona bill that requires every employer to use E-Verify to keep illegal aliens and tourists from taking jobs. The Obama administration also opposed this effort, but the Court last year entirely upheld the right of states to protect its workers in that way. 

Combining the two rulings, Arizona now has the Supreme Court-approved model to show all other states that they dont have to sit idly by while an estimated 7 million illegal aliens take U.S. jobs in construction, manufacturing, service, transportation and even some in the professions. These are the occupations where most of the 20 million Americans who are unemployed or forced into part-time work are also seeking a job. 

Since 1986, the prevailing theory about illegal immigration in Washington has been one of inevitability that nothing can be done to cause illegal aliens to leave once they get into the country. Hence, Congress passed seven amnesties between 1986 and 2000. 

Now, Arizona and presumably a number of other states can be full-effort laboratories to prove inevitability a false theory. 

We are heartened that even in writing the majority opinion that blocked three parts of Arizonas law, Justice Kennedy recognized that decisions by three straight presidents to significantly ignore federal immigration law have put states in a bind. 

"The pervasiveness of federal regulation does not diminish the importance of immigration policy to the States," he wrote. "Arizona bears many of the consequences of unlawful immigration. . . . Statistics alone do not capture the full extent of Arizonas concerns. Accounts in the record suggest there is an epidemic of crime, safety risks, serious property damage, and environmental problems associated with the influx of illegal migration across private land near the Mexican border." 

In his dissent, Justice Scalia was much more specific, citing the Obama administrations announcement just two weeks ago that it would refuse to enforce the law against illegal aliens who would benefit from the DREAM Act amnesty that Congress has rejected three times. 

"After this case was argued and while it was under consideration," Scalia wrote, "the Secretary of Homeland Security announced a program exempting from immigration enforcement some 1.4 million illegal immigrants under the age of 30. 

"The president said at a news conference that the new program is 'the right thing to do' in light of Congresss failure to pass the Administrations proposed revision of the Immigration Act. Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so. But to say, as the Court (majority) does, that Arizona contradicts federal by enforcing application of the Immigration Act that the President declines to enforce boggles the mind." 

As if to underscore Scalias assessment of the current administration as a nullifier of congressionally-passed laws, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano only hours after the ruling, announced that she would suspend yet another enforcement required under federal immigration laws. Because the Court ruling will result in a lot more illegal aliens being brought to the attention of the feds, she said, her department will suspend the 287(g) program in Arizona, and pledged that nothing in the ruling will interfere with the administrative amnesty announced last week. 

Fortunately, all states now have a bright green light from the Court to follow Arizonas lead in enforcing the laws in the way that Congress intended, even if the president insists on violating those laws. 

(This analysis originally appeared as an op-ed on 

Despite the spin, this is yet another blow to liberal Democrats because they are relying more and more heavily on illegal immigrants to prop up their weakening voter base.

Obamacare Watch

Looks like this is the week, and today might be the day.  To quickly recap what may or may not happen, I think this article is very helpful:

Scenario #1: The entire law is upheld.
After all is said and done, the high court may conclude—as the majority of lower courts did—that Congress was acting within its powers under the Constitution when it required most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. That provision was at the center of the two-year legal battle, and if it survives, the rest of the law is likely to stay as well.
Such a ruling would be a victory for Democrats and President Barack Obama, who had passed the biggest reworking to the health system since the creation of Medicare in the 1960s and faced the prospect of the court nullifying their effort. It would also avert disruption for hospitals, doctors and employers who have spent more than two years preparing for changes in the law.
Even in this case, however, the law would face an uncertain future. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and GOP congressional leaders have pledged to repeal the law if they take control of Congress and the White House in November elections. And while Democrats would undoubtedly feel relief, a favorable ruling for the law could further energize voters who dislike it to support Republicans.
Scenario #2: The insurance mandate is struck down, but the entire rest of law stays.
This was the ruling of a federal appeals court in Atlanta last year, and the Supreme Court may choose to uphold it. In this scenario, the high court would conclude that Congress exceeded its powers with the requirement to carry insurance or pay a penalty. But it would judge that provision separable from the rest of the law.
This would be the worst-case scenario for insurance companies and set off a scramble for the Obama administration and supporters of the law to prove that it could still work. Unless Congress took further action, insurers would be required accept all customers starting in 2014–even those who are already sick–without imposing surcharges for pre-existing medical conditions. At the same time, the court’s ruling would mean people wouldn’t be required to carry health coverage. Insurers say that would lead to chaos in the market as people waited until they were sick to sign up for policies.
Politically, a ruling under this scenario would vindicate critics who called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate an unprecedented overreach of federal power. Mr. Obama would face an election in a little more than four months with the nation knowing that a core part of the law he signed in March 2010 was found to violate the Constitution.
Republicans would push ahead with plans to repeal the remainder of the law. Some Democratic supporters have argued that ways could be found to substitute for the mandate, perhaps through federal rule-making or state action. And Mr. Obama would be able to campaign on the law’s surviving consumer-friendly provisions.
Scenario #3: The mandate and two related provisions are struck down but the rest of the law stays.
At Supreme Court arguments in March, the Obama administration, fearing the market chaos in scenario #2, argued that the insurance mandate was inextricably linked to two other provisions. Those provisions require insurers to accept all customers and restrict the insurers from charging more based on a person’s medical history. The administration said if the mandate were struck down, the other two provisions should go too.
If the court adopts that position, it would mean that the principal aim of the law—expanding coverage to tens of millions of Americans—would be unlikely to be achieved. Republicans would feel vindicated and push to repeal the rest of the law.
While not as disruptive as scenario #2 for health insurers, this scenario would still create broad uncertainty in the health business. Many parts of the law would remain, including those setting up new marketplaces in 2014 where consumers can shop for policies and get subsidies for coverage. Companies with 50 or more workers would have to start offering a set level of health benefits in 2014 or pay a fine.
Supporters of the law have said those provisions could still function, but questions would be sure to arise whether the marketplaces were workable without the core of the law.
Scenario #4: The entire law is struck down.
If the high court concludes that the insurance mandate is unconstitutional, it may agree with challengers that the only path is to invalidate the entire law.
Such a ruling would unravel all the work by the health industry and local governments preparing for the law. It would be a painful blow to Mr. Obama and Democrats who spent so much time and political capital on their health-care overhaul. Yet it would also put pressure on Republicans. They could no longer talk about repealing what they term ObamaCare but would have to figure out what, if anything, to bring before Congress to replace it. Gerald F. Seib discussed Republican challenges in the event of a negative ruling here.
The law also includes many provisions far afield of health care, affecting chain-restaurant menus, tanning-salon taxes and breast-feeding in the workplace among other things. As Janet Adamy reported, if the entire law were struck down, the ripples would spread far.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Parasites Then, Parasites Now

Looks like the Supreme Court is going to keep everyone in suspense on Obamacare for at least a little while longer.  Instead, I give you the Quote of the day:

"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Ludlow, 1824

Hm, if it wasn't for that date on there, I would think ol' TJ was alive and well in 2012...

And The Answer Is...

The Supreme Court made its decision on the constitutionality of Obamacare several weeks ago, but (as is their normal procedure) they haven't made it public yet.  That may happen today.  I'll try to post something as quickly as I find it, and then will follow up with more info in the coming days as the (inevitably controversial) decision is dissected and both sides make their next steps.

At this point, I think there's one thing that is guaranteed - the spin machine is revving up...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Absence Of True Leadership Is A Bad, Bad Thing

It astounds me, but it's true - an increasing number of Americans think that America is too big for its britches, wields too much power, or needs to be taken down a notch on the world stage.  The litany of liberal sound bytes and quotes (along with the accompanying policies and actions) illustrating that point would fill an entire library, and you have but to do some modest searching on this blog to find any number of examples, so I won't go into that here.  Instead, I want to focus on a great perspective piece in the WSJ on this subject.  It would be a shame to excerpt it, so take a minute to read the whole thing:

Not so long ago much of the world griped about an America that was too assertive, a "hyperpower" that attempted to lead with too little deference to the desires of those attending the G-20 meeting today in Mexico. Well, congratulations. A world without U.S. leadership is arriving faster than even the French hoped. How do you like it?

• In Syria, a populist revolt against a dictator threatens to become a civil war as Russia and Iran back their client in Damascus and the West defaults to a useless United Nations. The conflict threatens to spill into neighboring countries.

• Iran continues its march toward a nuclear weapon despite more than three years of Western pleading and (until recently) weak sanctions. Israel may conclude it must strike Iran first to defend itself, despite the military risks, because it lacks confidence about America's will to act. If Iran does succeed, a nuclear proliferation breakout throughout the Middle East is likely.

• Again President of Russia, Vladimir Putin snubbed President Obama's invitation to the G-8 summit at Camp David and is complicating U.S. diplomacy at every turn. He is sending arms and antiaircraft missiles to Syria, blocking sanctions at the U.N. and reasserting Russian influence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Mr. Obama's "reset" in relations has little to show for it.

• In Egypt, the military and Muslim Brotherhood vie for power after the Arab spring—with the U.S. largely a bystander. The democrats don't trust an America that helped them too little in the Mubarak days, while the military doesn't trust a U.S. Administration that abandoned Mubarak at the end. Egypt is increasingly unwilling to police its own border with Israel or the flow of arms into Gaza.

• The countries of the euro zone stumble from one failed bailout to the next, jeopardizing a still-fragile global economy. The world's most impressive current leader, Germany's Angela Merkel, rejected Mr. Obama's advice to blow out her country's balance sheet with stimulus spending in 2009 and is thankful she did. Her economy is stronger for it.

The Obama Administration has since played the role mainly of Keynesian kibitzer, privately taking the side of Europe's debtors in urging Germany to write bigger checks and ease monetary policy. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner elbowed his way into a euro-zone finance ministers meeting last September and then criticized European policies, and lately Messrs. Obama and Geithner have been blaming Europe for America's economic problems. No wonder Frau Merkel doesn't much care what the U.S. thinks.

• The countries of South Asia are recalculating their interests as the U.S. heads for the exits in Afghanistan. Pakistan demands the extortion of $5,000 a truck to carry supplies to U.S. forces, while continuing to provide sanctuary for Taliban leaders. Iran extends its own influence in Western Afghanistan, while the Taliban resist U.S. entreaties to negotiate a cease-fire, figuring they can wait out the departure.

For the Putins of the world and many American liberals, these signs of fading U.S. influence are welcome. They have finally tied down the American Gulliver. The era of "collective security" through the U.N. has arrived, and, whatever the future difficulties, at least there will be no more Iraqs.

But note well that the substitute for U.S. leadership is not a new era of U.N.-administered peace. It is often a vacuum filled by the world's nastiest actors. That is nowhere clearer than in Syria, where Russia and Iran have a free run to fortify the Assad dictatorship. The price is high in human slaughter, but it may be higher still in showing other dictators that it hardly matters anymore if an American President declares that you "must go." What matters is if you have patrons in Moscow, Beijing or Tehran.

The other claim, especially popular in Europe and China, is that this American retreat is inevitable because the U.S. is weaker economically. There's no doubt the recession and tepid recovery have sapped U.S. resources and confidence, but economic decline is not inevitable. It is, as Charles Krauthammer put it in 2009, "a choice."

America can choose to stay on its current path toward a slow-growth entitlement society that spends its patrimony on domestic handouts, or it can resolve to once again be a dynamic, risk-taking society that grows at 3% or more a year.

What the U.S. can't do is expect to grow at the 2% annual rate of the Obama era and somehow finance both ObamaCare and the current American military. On present trend, America's defense budget will inevitably shrink as Europe's military spending has to 3%, then 2% or less, of GDP.

There are always limits to U.S. power, and American leadership does not mean intervening willy-nilly or militarily. It does require, however, that an American President believe that U.S. pre-eminence is desirable and a source for good, and that sometimes this means leading forcefully from the front even if others object.

Without that American leadership, the increasing signs of world disorder will be portents of much worse to come.

That's precisely the point.  I used to be uneasy about the fact that America provides the bulk of the military defense for most of Western civilization...until I realized that if we don't do it, no one else will.  No one else can.  For those who think America's military is eeeeeevil and brutal, I ask you: when was the last time America invaded another nation with the intent of claiming it?  Go ahead, drop me a comment if you can pinpoint it.

Don't talk to me about Iraqi oil - if we actually got a portion of the proceeds from that invasion our 'war debt' would be far smaller than it is.  That revenue was pumped right back into Iraq itself to put the country back together.  Afghanistan?  We're pumping billions into that sinkhole every year, and few can intelligently explain why at this point.  Kuwait?  We're the ones who stopped the raging oil fires that Saddam Hussein started during his retreat, saving that nation's prosperity for years to come.  Got any other guesses?

The point is that we don't work that way.  We could, but we don't.  America has been the bastion of freedom, and the primary spreading mechanism for liberty throughout the world for decades.  When we go to war, it's to free someone, not to take over their nation.  Oh, we've done it imperfectly, to be sure, and there's still so much oppression, slavery, and death around the world that it's heartbreaking.  But even a superpower like the U.S. can only do so much.  Still, if we didn't have the power to push freedom the way we have...what is the alternative?

Russia?  Since when has Russia ever been anything but cold and heartless to its own people?  The Holocaust defined what an atrocity is, but the actual numbers are scant compared to Stalin's purge of 50 million Russians.  Czar Putin -- the former KGB leader -- doesn't appear to be breaking any new ground other than lengthening his own rule by whatever means necessary.

China?  Communists are brainwashed from birth to be subjects of the state, serving, living and dying on the whims of those in power.  On the whole, it's a society that has so severely devalued human life that it embraces infanticide, especially in the case of baby girls (if you want a war on women, there you go).  Just a few weeks ago I watched a (censored) video of a 6-year old Chinese girl get run down in the street by a car, to lay there while 20 adults passed by in other vehicles or on foot before someone stopped to help her.  Do you really want China dictating world affairs?

How about the Middle East?  Islamic nations practice Sharia law, where homosexuals are executed, women are forced to cover every square inch of their bodies and treated like animals, and the slightest offense (be it as harmless as a cartoon) results in a fatwa calling for death and mayhem.  There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, no freedom of expression.  Radical Islam sees the murder of innocent people (even children) as the highest form of honor if done in the name of Allah, and promises 72 virgins in the afterlife to those who successfully perpetrate it.

The soft socialist nations of Western Europe couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag anymore, and seem content to fade quietly into the night, as long as no one bothers them during their afternoon tea.  Most of them have been half overrun by radical Islamics anyway.

Who else is there?  Where else in the world can you voice dissent without fear of imprisonment, torture, or death?  I'm not being rhetorical...if you have a thought on who else might be as gentle a world superpower as the U.S., drop a comment and enlighten me.

I submit to you that there isn't anyone else.  Not only is no one else capable of such world leadership in terms of military and economic power, but no one is up to it from a benevolence standpoint, either.  Once again, I'm not suggesting that America is without fault...far from it!  It is disheartening to watch the decline of moral and ethical values right here at home, the corruption of once-proud institutions (often brought on by themselves), and the creep of liberalism that is eating the heart and strength out of this nation nibble by tiny nibble.  But many Americans remain true to what made this nation great, and that's cause for hope.  Even so, again I ask you: if not America, then who?

So, for those of you who think America needs to be taught a lesson, be careful what you wish for.  America isn't quite the tyrant it's perpetrated to be by the liberal Left.  If America loses its ability -- and will -- to influence the world toward freedom and prosperity, we will not like what replaces it.

If America doesn't lead...someone else will.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Titanic II

I think Patriot Post sums it up nicely:

"The Democrats are saying something like this: 'We found a big hole that we did not dig. ... Give us two more years. If it doesn't work, vote us out.'" That's what Bill Clinton said about the economy -- in 2010. There's plenty of blame to go around for that hole, of course, but it's worth remembering that Democrats took control of both houses of Congress -- and the purse strings -- almost a year before the recession started. And we can't think of a better argument for voting Democrats out than how they bound and gagged the economy for the last five years.
One of Clinton's most trusted strategists, James "It's the Economy, Stupid" Carville, is painfully aware that the languishing economy doesn't bode well for Democrats in November, and he's advising Obama to quit talking about his record -- a strategy he says is "wrong" and "will fail" -- and focus on the future instead. Carville wrote, along with fellow strategists Stanley Greenberg and Erica Seifert, "We will face an impossible headwind in November if we do not move to a new narrative, one that contextualizes the recovery but, more importantly, focuses on what we will do to make a better future for the middle class." In other words, it's like the sequel to "Titanic," and the ship will sink all over again.
Barack Obama isn't listening to Carville, though. He gave a 54-minute speech yesterday at an Ohio community college -- ironically, the same place Clinton made his remarks two years ago -- in an attempt to "reframe" the issue. "Rerun" might be a better word because there was nothing new offered, no deviation from the bigger-government-fixes-everything template, and it was full of the usual mix of self-congratulation and blame for everyone else. In fact, we think we've heard it 54 times before.
Obama blamed the "policies of the last decade" for the bad economy, while arguing that Mitt Romney would gut education, science and green energy programs, as well as "end [Medicare] as we know it." Arguing that he needs four more years because of George W. Bush is less than convincing, though as he reminded us last Friday, "the private sector is doing fine."
He then whined that Romney's campaign will go negative: "The other side will spend over a billion dollars on ads that tell you the economy is bad, that it's all my fault ... that I can't fix it because I think government is always the answer or because I didn't make a lot of money in the private sector and don't understand it or because I'm in over my head or because I think everything and everybody is doing just fine."
"No, I don't believe that government is the answer to all our problems," Obama joked -- at least we assume he had to be joking -- before turning around and saying of his "investments" of taxpayer money, "The private sector can't do it alone." In fact, he says, government investment is necessary to help "the next Thomas Edison, the next Wright brothers." Also laughably, he hammered the Bush tax cuts and alleged deregulation in general, only to later tout his own tax cuts and supposed deregulation.
All in all, the speech was a tired refrain of Obama's old standbys, class warfare and government solutions -- so much so that even a panel at MSNBC panned the speech. But Obama did offer one bit of wisdom: "This election is your chance to break [the] stalemate" between economic visions for the country. Indeed, it's time for a change.

I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Illegal Presidential Directives Immigration Rears Its Ugly Head Again

Last September, President Barack Obama said this (emphasis mine):
I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. We are doing everything we can administratively. But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there’s been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It’s just not true
[W]e live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it. And if all the attention is focused away from the legislative process, then that is going to lead to a constant dead-end. We have to recognize how the system works, and then apply pressure to those places where votes can be gotten and, ultimately, we can get this thing solved. And nobody will be a stronger advocate for making that happen than me.
Yesterday he said this:
“Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people,” Mr. Obama said in an appearance in the White House Rose Garden. “Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.”
Um, okay.  It's amazing how much difference a few months, a looming election, and some dismal polling will do to change one's mind, isn't it?

So what we have here is the result of Congress (with a Democrat supermajority, mind you) not passing the DREAM Act a couple years ago combined with the fact that Obama thinks he's above the Constitution and the law of the land - he's stepping right around Congress and granting illegal immigrants a de facto amnesty.

He added this:
“This is not amnesty,” Mr. Obama said. “This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely, while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is the right thing to do.”
Really?  Is it the right thing to do for all of the genuine American citizens who are out of work and would undoubtedly fall even farther back in line if millions of new low-pay workers enter the work force?  In fact, one reporter actually shouted out that question...but Obama scolded him for interrupting and then ignored the question.

And they've apparently made up a new term for this latest attempted amnesty:  deferred action process.  The Department of Homeland Security was quick to point out that only those who have ironclad documentation meeting the requirements would be approved for this 'deferred action process', though this is also coming from the political party who actively and viciously opposes the requirement of providing documentation to vote, so let's all take a wild guess as to how this documentation thing is going to work out.

And besides, the conditions aren't all that arduous to begin with:

Here are the five conditions an illegal immigrant must meet to qualify for deferred action, according to the Department of Homeland Security:

  1. Came to the United States under the age of sixteen; 
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
  3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Are not above the age of thirty. 

As with most prospective amnesties, it's an open question whether the immigration bureaucracy will be able to meaningfully enforce these conditions.
Right.  And if that was possible, if you think this would only apply to 800,000 people, you're nuts.

Keep in mind, too, that this is the same Obama administration that is actively suing the state of Arizona for enforcing federal immigration law.

No, the reality here is that it appears Obama is simply trying to shore up a base constituency (Hispanics) that is traditionally Democrat but currently wavering, helping them compete for the few jobs that are available right now...against American citizens!  It's not as if immigration has been a hot button issue of late - remember, illegal immigrants have actually been leaving America lately because the economy has tanked so badly; creating and announcing this policy not only ignores the entirety of American law, but it actually reverses a trend that most Americans see as beneficial, and one that is economically better for America.

In other words, it's typical Obama.

The reactions have been very interesting to watch.  Here's one of my favorites:

President Obama’s claim that he can refuse to deport 800,000 aliens here in the country illegally illustrates the unprecedented stretching of the Constitution and the rule of law. He is laying claim to presidential power that goes even beyond that claimed by the Bush administration, in which I served. There is a world of difference in refusing to enforce laws that violate the Constitution (Bush) and refusing to enforce laws because of disagreements over policy (Obama)…
Imagine the precedent this claim would create. President Romney could lower tax rates simply by saying he will not use enforcement resources to prosecute anyone who refuses to pay capital-gains tax. He could repeal Obamacare simply by refusing to fine or prosecute anyone who violates it.
So what we have here is a president who is refusing to carry out federal law simply because he disagrees with Congress’s policy choices. That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive — not to mention the Framers — cannot support.

Yeah, good point.  Just because you disagree doesn't mean the opposing viewpoint is illegal.  And you simply cannot ignore the Constitution.  Well, unless you're Obama.  He's done it regularly over the past three years, and with gusto.

Should be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How Many Times Must We See This Happen Before We Learn This About Liberals?

First there is a ban on something that can be argued as loosely plausible from a warm-fuzzy factor, if not exactly iron-clad or established in its evidence and effect on reality:

New York City's top health official shot back on Thursday at critics who have blasted the city's plan to limit the sale of oversized sugary drinks such as soda, calling beverage industry opposition ridiculous.

The proposed ban, which caps most sugar-sweetened beverages at 16 ounces (half a liter) and carries a $200 fine for vendors that do not comply, met immediate backlash from beverage companies and others who argue it is government overreach, but was lauded by public health experts.

Get this as the logic behind the ban:

"It's not saying 'no' to people. It's saying, 'Are you sure? Do you really want that?'" Thomas Farley, New York City's health commissioner, said. "It's sending people a message while giving people the freedom to drink as much as they want."

Nice logic.  If you want to drink 'sugary' drinks you can...but they're going to impose a size tax on you, so if you want to drink the equivalent of a large you'll have to pay double or triple the price to get two or three smalls.  And, by the way, it's supposed to save 500 lives by attacking the small percentage of the obesity problem that is 'sugary' drinks.  Right.  It would be interesting to see exactly how they got to that number...

Anyway, opponents warned that if bans such as this go through it will open the floodgates to ban-happy liberals.  And voila!  Not a week later, we see this:

The board hand-picked by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that must approve his ban of selling large sugar-filled drinks at restaurants might be looking at other targets.

The New York City Board of Health showed support for limiting sizes of sugary drinks at a Tuesday meeting in Queens.  They agreed to start the process to formalize the large-drink ban by agreeing to start a six-week public comment period.

At the meeting, some of the members of board said they should be considering other limits on high-calorie foods.

One member, Bruce Vladeck, thinks limiting the sizes for movie theater popcorn should be considered.

"The popcorn isn't a whole lot better than the soda," Vladeck said.

Another board member thinks milk drinks should fall under the size limits.

"There are certainly milkshakes and milk-coffee beverages that have monstrous amounts of calories," said board member Dr. Joel Forman.

And on and on, ad nauseum.  It's totally predictable.  But tell me...where is the sense of personal responsibility here?  So what if people want to buy large 'sugary' drinks?  Why should they not be allowed to?  It's their choice to spend the money on something that self-righteous liberals clearly feel is a murderous product, and they engage in it willingly and with full knowledge.  They're the ones who have to live with the consequences, aren't they?

And now we should explore the Obamacare bunny trail.

If Obamacare gets fully implemented, then the government can legitimately and logically ban any product it wants like this because it can rightly argue that obesity is a problem affecting all Americans because we all pay into (or draw benefits from) the government-run health care system.  Thus, anything that affects any aspect of health care can and should be controlled by the government.  Any food or drink, any cosmetic product, any exercise equipment, any vehicle, any household cleaner, any tool, any anything can be said to affect people's health in some way.  Thus, under the full implementation of Obamacare, anything can be regulated, banned, or forced on you.  Doesn't matter what you think, doesn't matter what you like or don't like, doesn't matter if you have the means to pay for it.  It's the government's call, period.  Can you see how destructive this policy is going to become in the hands of control-obsessed ban-happy liberals?  Anyone who can't see this logical endpoint is either too stupid to be allowed to vote or unwilling to acknowledge reality.  We can see this rapid creep of control in the New York ban described above.  That's why the door to far-reaching and controlling legislation like Obamacare shouldn't ever be opened in the first place.

But there's another learning opportunity here, too.  Rush Limbaugh went on an epic rant a few days ago that I may capture and post in its entirety at some point.  For the moment, though, I'll try to capture the essence from memory.  He was illustrating one of the fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives, and the drink ban is another perfect example.  A conservative will look at the choice of buying large 'sugary' drinks and say, "I don't think that's healthy, so I'm not going to do it."  And that's it.  The conservative goes merrily on his way, buying Diet drinks for himself.  A liberal will look at that same choice and say, "I don't think that's healthy, so no one should do it."  Then, since the liberal is clearly more enlightened and intelligent than anyone else, he will gin up angst and anger to build support, petition the government for intervention on behalf of the health of everyone everywhere, and get a new regulation or law crammed into place that forces everyone to adhere to what he thinks is correct.

The conservative values independent thought and judgment, the liberal values mindless group-think.  The conservative values freedom of choice, the liberal values control and dictation from above.  The conservative sees the individual as the best judge of preference and lifestyle choices, the liberal sees the government as the right and proper source for those choices.  The conservative simply makes his choice and moves on, not enforcing his views on anyone else; the liberal determines that he knows best for everyone and seeks to force his views into prominence.

We see this over and over on a daily basis - health care, environmental regulations on dirt/air/water, gun rights and the 2nd Amendment, light bulbs, the Ten Commandments in public places, food restrictions, political correctness in speech, etc.  The list is virtually endless, and it will never stop.  As long as there are choices, a liberal will always -- ALWAYS -- seek to force what he feels is the best choice on everyone else.  You can bank on it.

This drink ban is just the latest in a perpetual string of examples.  The key question for us is: how long will it be until the majority of Americans (who are not hardcore liberals, by the way) rise up and refuse to accept the liberal creep?  The evidence is overwhelming, if one simply chooses to look at it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Real Swordplay?? Say It Ain't So!

On a much, much lighter anyone else as excited about this as I am??

Some additional details:


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Decline Is A Choice

Powerful, powerful stuff that I think every American needs to contemplate:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Unemployment and Obama's Policies

A couple thoughts:

"You would think $1 trillion in spending stimulus and $2.5 trillion of Fed pump-priming would produce an economy a whole lot stronger than 1.9 percent gross domestic product, which was the revised first-quarter number. And you'd think all that government spending would deliver a whole lot more jobs than 69,000 in May. But it hasn't happened. The Keynesian government-spending model has proven a complete failure. It's the Obama model. And it has produced such an anemic recovery that, frankly, at 2 percent growth, we're back on the front end of a potential recession. ... The unemployment rate rose slightly from 8.1 to 8.2 percent [in May]. The so called U6 unemployment rate, tracking the marginally employed or completely discouraged, increased to 14.8 percent from 14.5 percent. And labor earnings are barely rising at 1.7 percent over the past year, almost in line with the inflation rate. ... Barack Obama doesn't get this, but businesses create jobs. And firms have to be profitable in order to hire. Yet the president is on the campaign trail criticizing Mitt Romney by degrading the importance of profits. ... The Fed may yet launch a new quantitative easing to stop commodity deflation and accommodate the gigantic worldwide dollar demand. But the merits of this move are dubious. On the other hand, an extension of the Bush tax cuts right now would stop the economic and job slide and re-establish certainty. In fact, all the countries around the world should move to the supply side with lower tax rates to spur economic-growth incentives. Europe, China and Latin America ought to go back and read Ronald Reagan's speeches and examine his actions when he faced a similar crisis 30 years ago. It would be an hour or two well spent." --economist Larry Kudlow

"Franklin Delano Roosevelt never denied that he created Social Security. Lyndon Baines Johnson didn't forswear any responsibility for Medicaid. Ronald Reagan never argued that his defense buildup didn't happen. The Obama White House, in contrast, wants to wish away the historic federal spending that is one of its signature accomplishments. White House press secretary Jay Carney ... urged reporters the other day to steer clear of 'the BS that you hear about spending and fiscal constraint with regard to this administration.' Not one to be outclassed by his press secretary, President Barack Obama kept up the edifying livestock theme by calling Mitt Romney's attacks on his deficit spending 'a cow pie of distortion.' The White House has a deeply conflicted relationship to its own record. It is saddled with a bad case of spender's denial, a rare psychological disorder afflicting committed Keynesians facing re-election at a time of record debt. On the one hand, spending is the lifeblood of 'Forward.' It saved us from another Great Depression. It is forging a glorious new future of green energy. ... On the other hand, the deficits and the debt that come with all this spending are alarming and unpopular. So Obama calls himself the most fiscally conservative president in more than half a century. ... He needs to consult an accountant and a therapist, and not necessarily in that order." --columnist Rich Lowry

A reminder:


Connecting the dots is seldom so easy.

The Dangers of Government Dependency

Thursday, June 7, 2012

LinkedIn Leak - What You Need To Know (And Do)

If you've got a LinkedIn account (and most working professionals do), you should probably check this out:

LinkedIn users awoke to a nasty surprise today as word spread that hackers breached LinkedIn's servers and leaked passwords for nearly 6.5 million user accounts. LinkedIn didn't acknowledge the hack until midday Wednesday afternoon, when the company finally confirmed that a certain number of member passwords had indeed been compromised.

Who's Behind the Hack?

A user on a public Russian forum is taking credit for the hack, but no one has been able to verify if he or she is really behind this whole mess.

When Did the Hack Take Place?

We don't know when the hack took place, but according to Ars Technica, the hackers posted the data over the course of three days.

What, Exactly, Was Released?

The user posted approximately 6.5 million hashed passwords to the forum, and according to security software firm Sophos, at least 60 percent of those passwords have already been cracked. Thus far no usernames have been released, which either can mean that the hackers didn't manage to download them or they are keeping the usernames for themselves. Either way, that's a lot of leaked private data.

So Is My Account Compromised?

Yes and no. The passwords were all hashed using SHA-1 and so they won't be readable without the right software. Unfortunately SHA-1 isn't entirely foolproof so it could only be a matter of time before all 6.5 million passwords are cracked and converted into plaintext. Since we don't know whether or not the hackers have usernames as well, it's best to assume the worst and consider your account hacked.

What's the Worst That Can Happen?

For one thing, hackers would have control of your account and contacts. If you use the same username and password combo on other sites, then there is a risk that those accounts are now compromised as well.

What About LinkedIn Pro Users? Do I Need to Worry About My Credit Card Info?

LinkedIn hasn't said anything about whether any financial information associated with LinkedIn pro accounts was compromised, so we don't yet know for certain. In either case, you should always keep a close eye on your financial statements to make sure that nobody is using your accounts without your authorization.

What Can I Do Protect Myself?

In a blog post, LinkedIn says that it will email all the users whose accounts were affected by the hack and give them instructions as to what to do next. The company warns that you should not click on any email links asking you to change your password, as that could be someone attempting to steal your information.

If you used the same password or username on other websites (which you really shouldn't do), it might be a good idea to good ahead and change those for good measure. If you need help in building a better password, check out our comprehensive guide on the matter.

For still more tips, see our overview of what to do if you ever become a victim of a data breach. So change your passwords, don't click on any suspicious links, and stay safe out there, folks.

I saw the LeakedIn link earlier but it seemed like it might have been a phishing scam itself, so I didn't try it.  However, after doing a bit more research, I was able to confirm the site from two  or three different reputable sources, so I'm convinced it should be safe.  Also, it just asks you for your password, not the combination of the password and username.

Online security is becoming a bigger deal with each passing year, so this sort of thing is going to become a regular fixture of life, I think.  Something critical to keep in mind can be found in a separate article about the breach here:

Robert David Graham, CEO of the security consultancy Errata Security, wrote that each letter of a password has 100 possible combinations composed of either upper or lower case, digits or symbols. A five-letter password would have 10 billion possible combinations and could be cracked in five seconds using a top-of-the-line Radeon HD 7970 graphics processor.

A six-letter password would take a little over seven seconds, but a seven-letter password would take 13 hours, Graham wrote. Eight characters pushes the time up to 57 days, with a nine-character password taking up to 15 years.

"In other words, if your password was seven letters, the hacker has already cracked it, but if it's nine letters, it's too difficult to crack with brute force," Graham wrote.

So, as you create passwords for new logins (or improve your old ones), make sure those passwords have at least nine characters, maybe more.  Hackers probably aren't going to labor intensively over the 10% of their stolen database that is well protected; they're going to shoot for the easy-to-crack 90%, sell the data, and move on as quickly as possible.

For a really comprehensive way to create solid passwords, go here.  If you're not inclined to go to quite that much effort, then at least apply these common sense precautions:
1. use at least 9 characters
2. include at least 1 capital letter and 1 number
3. make sure it's not a word that can be found in the dictionary

A little common sense protection and prevention can prevent a truckload of hassle -- or even genuine damage -- later, so don't put this off if you haven't beefed up your personal security yet.