Saturday, July 21, 2012

"Big City" President Obama' s Out-of-Touch Radio Ad

On Friday, Politico shared a radio ad that President Obama is running in rural parts of the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.


 The transcript of the radio ad is below (emphasis added):
My grandparents came from the Midwest and so when I travel to rural areas of the country, what always strikes me is how hard people work and resilient they are, and how much they are worried about being able to pass on that way of life to the next generation. Those core middle class values that helped to build America, I think they’re still out there in every corner of this country. People still believe in hard work. They still believe in personal responsibility. And that’s why we’ve spent a lot of time on how we build on the strengths of rural America, making sure that folks out there have access to health care, the ability to export their goods to markets. I want a young person, if they want to teach, if they want to be an entrepreneur – young people can say to themselves, we can succeed here just like we can in the big city. Because ultimately, the strengths of those communities, those are the strengths of America.
The overall message hits on key words that have the potential to resonate with rural Americans and Americans throughout the country--"personal responsibility" and "hard work". However, there is one aspect of the ad's transcript that strikes a wrong tone--the insinuation that rural individuals compare their potential for success to the those in the "big city". Perhaps one too many Hollywood fundraisers have left President Obama with the impression that rural folks are just like the Clampetts of Beverly Hillbillies' fame. Successes can be found in any setting, not because rural people look to the "big city" as the paragon of success or feel that success can be found in rural areas only because the government has done so much for them. In fact, President Obama's administration has done too much to them.

In May, Vice President Biden campaigned in the small coal mining town of Martins Ferry, Ohio (population just under seven thousand), where he was met with protests from both coal miners and management and Tea Partiers.  The coal industry has been hit by massive new EPA regulations from the Obama administration have caused coal fired plants to close across the country decreasing the demand for coal mining Earlier this month, Patriot Coal became the first American coal company to file for bankruptcy, which is becomes a campaign "promise" that President Obama has kept--wanting to bankrupt the coal industry.

Additionally, President Obama's claim that he is making sure "folks have access to health care" is a bold statement to make to rural parts of the country that are generally older and poorer than the urban population.  As an example, the expansion of Medicaid is expected to exacerbate the already large shortage of physicians in rural areas. While the Supreme Court ruled that states will be able to make some of their own decisions when it comes to Medicaid expansion, neither Ohio's nor Pennsylvania's GOP governor's have rejected expansion. Rural areas tend to be older, and thus likely to need more medical care--care that will become increasingly inaccessible.

Just like most Americans, rural Americans are quite self-reliant and independent. A "big city" politician coming in and telling them where they can find success and how politicians have done things for them is certainly not a way to win them over, especially when their jobs and actual access to healthcare have been threatened. However, perhaps this is just the kind of a out-of-touch message can be expected from a candidate who last election referred to rural Pennsylvanians as those who "get bitter and cling to their religion and guns". 

Crossposted here and here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Carrying the Torch: Female Representation at the 2012 Olympics

I posted the following at The New Agenda this morning:

It’s that time again! The Summer Olympics in London will begin later this month. For the first time in history, more women will represent the United States in the Olympic Games than men. The US team was announced on July 10th, and the 530 member team includes 269 women and 261 men:
“It speaks to Title IX,” Teresa Edwards, the U.S. Olympic team chef de mission and five-time medalist in basketball, told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s evident where we’ve come from especially with women in sports. I’m very proud of that — not so proud that I want to make the men jealous because a lot of men play a role in where we are now — but I’m proud to know that we’ve come this far.” 
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the greater number of female athletes is “a true testament to the impact of Title IX, which in its 40-year history has increased sport opportunities for millions of females across the United States.”
It is fitting that the same year that Title IX celebrates its fortieth anniversary, many of the women who received the opportunity to participate in athletics because of the legislation will now get to represent their country, and female representation will more than equal that of male athletes.
Four years ago, there were 24 more men than women that competed for America in the Summer Games.  There are some notable differences and changes that have occurred that have contributed to this flip. On the men’s side, while they participated in 2008, the men’s soccer team did not qualify the Olympics this year which contributed to the comparative difference in male and female athletes. However, on the women’s side, this year marks the first time that women will compete in boxing as a medal sport.  Olympic women’s boxing has drawn attention already, even before the first punch has been thrown.  Late last Fall into the Winter, it was heavily debated whether or not the female boxers would be required to wear skirts during the Olympics. It was decided in mid February that women would be allowed to wear skirts or shorts when they competed, although individual countries may have their own requirements.  Additionally, Queen Underwood, considered America’s best hope for a gold in women’s boxing, has been highlighted for her courage in aiming to turn her hurtful past of being raped by her father as a child into Olympic victories. 
This year’s games also marks the first time that every country represented at the games will have women competing. On July 12th, Saudi Arabia agreed to allow two women to compete. One woman, Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, will compete in judo and Sarah Attar will compete in the 800m run. However, these athletes will be required to compete in Sharia compliant clothing and be accompanied by a male guardian at all times. The nations of Qatar and Brunei Darussalem will also be sending women to the Games for the first time.  Qatar’s Bahiya Al-Hamad, who is competing in shooting, will be carrying the flag for her nation at the Opening Ceremonies.
You can read the rest here

 As a note, I mention later in the post that the women's professional soccer league collapsed this year. The Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league did collapse, but there is another professional league that is still in action of which I was unaware- the W-League of the United Soccer League. I also mention an Olympic weightlifter who had yet to receive sufficient sponsorship to help her maintain her rigorous training schedule. It was announced just this afternoon that she received sponsorship from SOLVE media.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Big Journalism: AP accuses Conservatives of Blocking Business

I wrote the following post at Big Journalism on Wednesday taking on a very biased article by the AP which blamed conservatives for being roadblocks to business:

On Monday afternoon, as President Obama announced his support for a tax increase that would affect nearly 900,000 small businesses, the Associated Press tweeted the following tweet and story to implicate Republicans as “roadblocks” to business:

The story begins: "Conservative Republicans have roughed up the business community this year - and it's not over yet."
Really? Apparently, the Associated Press has ignored that Democrats' opposition to the job-creating Keystone Pipeline or the Supreme Court upholding the $500 billion Obamatax law will destroy jobs, among other examples. However, those oversights are only part of the media’s bias on display in this piece. 
The article then goes on to assert that conservative Republicans' supposed opposition to recent transportation bills, antipathy towards the Law of the Sea Convention, and resistance to re-authorization of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank are to blame for putting “roadblocks” to business.
The author, Donna Cassata, notes some conservatives preferred that the transportation projects be funded at a state level, going on to state, ”[n]ine short-term extensions later - and almost three years after the last transportation bill expired - businesses finally prevailed last month.” Cassata fails to mention that in 2009 and 2010, both Houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats, and during the last year, President Obama threatened to veto any transportation bill that included approval of the job-creating Keystone Pipeline. Democrats had ample opportunity to approve a transportation bill for two years but failed, and President Obama’s anti-energy development agenda prevented the bill from passing quickly since Republicans took over the House following the 2010 elections.
You can read the remainder of the post here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Russian Air Force Can See Sarah Palin’s House from their Bear Bombers

In the past month, Russian bombers have twice been involved in arctic war games near U.S. airspace around Alaska. The first time began on the same day as a meeting between President Obama and Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, on June 18th and continued until June 25th. An article at the Free Beacon notes that two key Alaskan sites may be potential targets in exercise—the missile defense base at Ft. Greely and the Trans Alaska pipeline which is responsible for transporting about 11% of America’s oil.  

The article later goes on to quote  Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former Alaska North American Aerospace Defense commander:

“The Russians continue to exercise our air defense identification zone, which shows Mr. Putin loves to let President Obama know that they still have global capability,” McInerney said in an interview. “So much for reset.”
McInerney also said the Obama administration kept the encounter between the bombers and U.S. fighters secret because “they obviously don’t want the world to know that the exercise was done deliberately to coincide with the Obama-Putin summit.”
The Free Beacon article also notes that similar exercises were performed by the Russian Air Force in 2007. An article at the American Enterprise Institute notes the same as well (emphasis mine):

Just as concerning as Russia’s building of a new bomber is its eagerness to flaunt its old ones. Since 2007, Russia’s Air Force has increased the number of exercises it conducts near U.S. air space around Alaska, and according to Bill Gertz, American and Canadian Air Force fighters intercepted two Russian bombers that crossed into the U.S.’s 200-mile air defense identification zone around Alaska on July 4. Prior to this, Russian war games held in the same area in mid-June included 30 bombers, and may have been designed to test cruise missile attacks on U.S. missile defense facilities.

The AEI article notes that a new Russian bomber will be ready 5 years earlier than anticipated also references the second time that the Russian Air Force came near Alaskan air space on July 4th in what a U.S. Defense official called “Putin’s Fourth of July Bear greeting to Obama”.

Governor Palin shared the Free Beacon article on her Facebook page a couple weeks ago, noting:

On the campaign trail four years ago I talked about Alaska's strategic location on the globe, the potential for future conflicts over arctic transportation lanes and resources, and the crucial need to keep our eye on Putin's activities. Later I spoke out against Obama's egregious decision to cut back Alaska's missile defense systems. Please take a look at this article about Russia's arctic war game exercises earlier this month. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who was paying attention four years ago. Maybe now we should ask the President if this is what "more flexibility" means.

Indeed. Governor Palin took office in December of 2006. When Russia began to increase their exercises in 2007, she was in office.  So while she was mocked for saying that Putin “rears his head” in Alaska air space during her interview with the Perky One during the 2008 campaign, she was privy to that defense information regarding Russia’s arctic war exercise starting in 2007. In fact, the Alaska Air National Guard was recognized as an Air Force Outstanding Unit in March of 2008 in part because they “maintained North American air sovereignty by detecting, monitoring and escorting 22 Russian bombers from within its area of operations” (h/t Gary Jackson). Who was the commander-in-chief of the Alaska Air National Guard at that time? Governor Palin.

Why does this matter now? For two reasons. One, the agenda driven media mocked a Vice Presidential candidate for telling the truth about her foreign policy credentials and the importance of Alaska’s position on the globe.  This should serve as a teachable moment for the willfully na├»ve Establishment Republicans who still wish to play nice with the media. Two, it is important to take Russia seriously today. It’s not neo-McCarthyism, nor the international overinvolvement of neoconservatism; it’s peace through strength. In her foreign policy speech in the Spring of 2011, Governor Palin outlined limited, but clearly defined objectives for American international involvement, but she also noted that America must never retreat into isolation. She said, "we have a responsibility to lead", as “the stronger we are, the stronger and more peaceful the world will be under our example”.

While Governor of Alaska, Palin criticized the Obama administration for cutting funding for missile defense for the very air base, Ft. Greely, that Russian war games likely target this past month. In December of 2010, she also urged the Senate to not ratify the START treaty which called for America to reduce our nuclear weapons while allowing Russia to increase their weaponry. Today, despite Secretary Clinton extending a “reset button” to Russia early in Obama’s presidency and despite Obama ‘s willingness to “be more flexible” following the election, Russia must be taken seriously in part because of the naivety or complicity of the Obama administration. Russia not only continued to ally with Syria  the midst of UN sanctions , they have aimed to protect  Iran’s nuclear program and provided arms to Venezuela as well (not that President Obama sees Hugo Chavez as a threat either).
This isn’t about warmongering , being the world’s policeman, or being on the offensive as a foreign policy strategy. It is about an honest recognition of threats and ensuring that your defense is a strategic deterrent. This can’t be done when the media mocks a candidate’s credentials, nor when a president is flippant towards national defense.  With Russian Bear bombers creeping close to American air space, as the powerful Reagan ad noted, isn’t it important to as strong as the bear?

Crossposted here and here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What Both Parties Can Learn from Sheryl Crow

There is probably very little that Sheryl "one square" Crow and I agree on politically, but I've always enjoyed her music. In 1995, she wrote a song called "Leaving Las Vegas" for a film by the same name.


 Neither the song nor the film really have anything to do with gambling nor politics, but the song's theme of leaving Las Vegas is one that both political parties should learn from, metaphorically speaking--leave behind the practice of betting with the American taxpayers' money.

Today, President Obama launched a two day bus tour with the theme of "Betting on America" touting his support of the auto bailout and slamming Mitt Romney's business record. This is an interesting messaging approach for a man who has twice slammed people for spending time and money in Las Vegas. While President Obama tries to tout a message of supporting the American worker (betting on America), he has actually been betting with American taxpayer money throughout his presidency. He has attempted to pick winners and losers, such as in the infamous Solyndra loan where one of his donors won a more than half billion dollar green loan and the American taxpayer ultimately lost big time. He has invested millions in biofuels, again in a company with ties to one his cronies,  for the military at cost that is 4 times the average cost for the fuel in a normal market.

However, President Obama and the Democrats are not the only ones who have been involved in picking winners and losers at the taxpayer's expense. Republicans are also culpable, as a piece in the Washington Examiner notes of green energy loans:
George W. Bush and Barack Obama have also tried to boost wind and solar power with government money. The 2007 energy bill created a loan guarantee program in the Department of Energy, and Obama's 2009 stimulus expanded the program, ultimately putting Solyndra's losses and other green energy busts on the taxpayers' back.
This kind of behavior is not limited to only green energy loans. It extend to other kinds of loans--even loans to companies like Boeing. The Obama administration has demonized Boeing for wanting to build a plant in a right-to-work state and has denounced the use of corporate jets--which Boeing produces. Even still, he has allowed for the American taxpayers to be the guarantor of loans of to companies like Boeing when he signed the re-authorization, supported by both Republicans and Democrats, of the Export Import Bank. The Washington Examiner again notes:
Obama plans to use the Export-Import Bank -- a federal agency that gives taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees to foreign buyers who buy American goods -- to subsidize U.S. manufacturers even when they are selling to other American companies. 
This would be a significant step in the federal government's transformation into a venture capital firm and investment bank involved in all corners of the economy. It's private profit and public risk. Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint calls it "venture socialism." 
Ex-Im has been financing exports for decades. Taxpayer-backed loan guarantees push down interest rates for foreign buyers, thus greasing the wheels for U.S. manufacturers and eliminating risk for U.S. banks.
These loans are perhaps less risky than the "green" energy loans of the Department of Energy, but nonetheless, as the article states, they are " public risk". If the companies default, it's at the expense of the American taxpayer.

This is why it is important to make the distinction between big government, pro business, and pro market approaches to handling the economy. This is something that Governor Palin understands very well-- both in  how the government should handle green energy and  the economy as a whole. Regarding government investments in green energy, Governor Palin noted in an interview with (emphasis mine):
Yes, for the private sector. I don’t think there is anything wrong with setting goals for alternative energy, but we have to be realistic. A truly effective alternative energy source needs to be efficient and profitable. No amount of Obama’s subsidizing his campaign donors’ bankrupt green energy companies—some with harebrained ideas that will never be economic—will get us to that efficient and profitable alternative. The free market will determine this. Sure, we can support research and development when it’s appropriate, but as scientists and venture capitalists continue to look for viable alternative energy sources, we should be encouraging the development of natural gas as a clean and plentiful bridge-fuel to a more renewable future. We have enough natural gas in America to be energy independent for many decades!
This is a pro-market approach to green energy, and it should be applied to all aspects of the economy. No more betting with the American people's money. I wrote in a previous post about Governor Palin's pro-market approach to the economy:
The big government views of the Left and the "pro business" views espoused by many in the GOP think that government exists to do things for the people or for businesses. Governor Palin is pro market. Who is empowered in a pro market economy? The consumers (the people). The people determine whether or not a business fails or succeeds by their purchasing power--not by the special loans of the big government Left or the special tax breaks of the pro-business GOPers, but of the the Galileoan pro-marketers. 
This is what makes Governor Palin's speech in Iowa late last summer so compelling. She laid out a vision of a pro market economy--no corporate taxes, but no corporate welfare, no special tax breaks or subsidies either. In other words, let the people decide what business fail or succeed by their purchasing power. Also, as Governor Palin wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, echoing Peter Schweizer's book Throw Them All Out,  let there be no more crony capitalism and no more special treatment of politicians.
Both parties need to stop trying to do things for their cronies and stop doing things to the American taxpayer.    The economy is not a giant casino with green energy slots or big business roulette tables, and the taxpayers should not have to finance the government's addiction to OPM  (other people's money) and gambling. The need to leave this "Las Vegas" behavior behind. Otherwise, the voters will continue having to choose which party is their favorite mistake, rather than the party that stands with them.

Crossposted here and here.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Subjects or Citizens-Revisited

Two years ago I wrote a post about an interesting revision Thomas Jefferson made when writing the Declaration of Independence:
A recent discovery by preservationists at the Library of Congress has shown an interesting piece of history within the one of the pivotal documents of America's founding. When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, it was organized into 5 parts:"the introduction, the preamble, the indictment of George III, the denunciation of the British people, and the conclusion." In the section indicting King George, Jefferson delineated a list of grievances that many colonists had against the King. One such indictment was of "treasonable insurrections". In the Declaration itself, here is how that section reads (note: original spelling is used):
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. 
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. (emphasis mine)
However, as the preservationists have recently discovered through use of high tech devices, Jefferson had changed one word in that section in the transcription of this document that was truly indicative of how the Founders viewed the tyranny of King George. The workers at the Library of Congress discovered that although the document refers to "our fellow citizens" in the aforementioned section, Thomas Jefferson modified this section which originally referred to our fellow subjects. The Founders and early American patriots did not wish to be viewed as subjects to a King whom they had a long list of grievances against. They wished to be seen as citizens who had liberty, not subjects who were under tyranny. 
When we simply look at what distinguishes "subjects" from "citizens", we can see what a declaration of independence truly means. A citizen is one who is under the protection of a governing body, while a subject is one under the control of a governing body. Jefferson and the other Founders saw that, because of they had become subject to tyranny, forced to fight against their fellow citizens, obstructing justice, imposing taxes, and a whole slew of other injustices and constraints to liberty, they had been relegated to subjects, and that in order to seen as they truly were, citizens, Jefferson and the other signers of the document needed to declare their independence.
As we draw closer to Independence Day 2012, a lot of parallels can be seen between what the colonists faced and what we face today. This is not verbal histrionics; it is the truth. We may not have a king, but we have a government that seems to ignore the very freedoms protected in the Constitution that they swore an oath to uphold.  Furthermore, this government so frequently ignores the limits to their power clearly outlined in the Constitution. Two major examples of this have occurred just last month when the both the executive and judicial branches legislating from outside of the legislature. President Obama issued an executive order which would prevent deportation of illegal immigrants under the age of 30, circumventing both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court declared the individual mandate in Obamacare a tax, essential rewriting the law.

With last week's disheartening and unprincipled decision by the Supreme Court upholding Obamacare, Senator Rand Paul wrote an excellent piece at the National Review noting the dissenting opinion's reference to the Stamp Act--the Act King George III levied against the colonists that taxed every piece of paper used The Stamp Act was seen as the first direct tax on the colonists. Senator Paul goes on to note the who is most affected by the mandate/tax in Obamacare:
Obamacare has caused up to 20 million Americans to lose their health-insurance policies. And, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health-care-reform law will destroy 800,000 jobs. An analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation from November 2009 shows that in 2016, three-quarters of the tax imposed by the individual mandate will fall on those making less than $120,000 of income for a family of four or $59,000 for an individual. Families of four making $72,000 or less and individuals making $35,400 or less will bear nearly half of the mandate tax.
Despite Obama's promise in 2008 to not raise taxes on those who make less than $250,000, with this legislation continues another broken promise. In fact, the first tax increase President Obama implemented was an increase in cigarette taxes, which are seen as a mostly regressive tax. Suffice it to say, taxes have increased under the president, and not just for the rich.

Whether or not it is the aforementioned tax increases, impinging upon religious freedoms, or hypocrisy on healthy eating or fossil fuel use, President Obama is in many ways behaving as if the American people are his subjects and he is a king. Our battle today is not one of bayonets and cannons, as it was when the colonist revolted against King George III, but our battle is one of ballot boxes and conversation. With the upcoming elections, there is much to do--replacing President Obama is of course important, but that's only one piece of the reform puzzle. It is important that the majority in the House is not only maintained, but that those re-elected and first elected are serious about repeal. Additionally, winning the Senate is imperative as well. With the desire for repeal of Obamacare, the Senate plays a key role, as with the Supreme Court ruling of the law as a tax, it requires only a simple majority in the reconciliation process for the law to be repealed. The beauty of our Constitutional Republic is that we have the opportunity to vote if we will be controlled as subjects or protected as citizens. Let's not take that freedom for granted.

Crossposted here and here.