Friday, August 31, 2012

Dan Bongino: Principles Manner

On Thursday, Governor Palin encouraged supporters to donate to Maryland Senatorial candidate Dan Bongino, noting that he could be the Senate candidate to help put Republicans over the top in the Senate. Bongino has the support of Governor Palin and Senator DeMint, the two leaders who are putting forth the strongest effort to ensure that Republicans regain a majority in the Senate. Following that tweet from Governor Palin, Bongino tweeted a thank you:
Principles matter. This is something that Bongino understands very well. When Governor Palin endorsed Bongino, she noted, "Dan is not a politician, but he's spent his career protecting them". Bongino was a Secret Service agent serving under three presidents, while his opponent has been in political office since before Bongino was born. He touts his lack of political experience as a "badge of honor" and is glad he hasn't "made  any deals" like a politician. He got into the race in 2011 with the backing of businessman and 2010 Maryland  gubernatorial candidate, Brian Murphy (whom Governor Palin endorsed in the 2010 primary).

Bongino puts principles over party, and notes, "I'm a conservative first, and a Republican as a method to get on a ballot". He understands that crony capitalism is a major issue through all aspects of our government. When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, Bognino released a statement noting not only the massive bureaucracy in Obamacare, but also its crony capitalism. This is something he also notes in  his stance on other key issues--such as energy policy and tax reform. He does not support energy subsidies, and he is in favor of simplifying the tax code because it's "been riddled with 'crony capitalist' deductions for favored industries" and supports removing loopholes.

Principles matter, and Bongino realizes that. He won the GOP primary because of those principles, not because he kowtowed to the Republican establishment. One conservative Maryland blogger called Bongino a "defibrillator for a party in cardiac arrest":
It wasn’t too long ago that Delegate Pat McDonough–who was also running for the Senate nomination,then wasn’t running, then was running again, then wasn’t running again but was still handing out campaign literature saying he was–accused Bongino’s campaign of being a “novelty act.”
“He’s done absolutely nothing for the Republican Party or for his community,” McDonough said. “You have these unknown people who come out of the woodwork who want to run for high office. It’s like joining the Catholic religion and wanting to be pope.”
This sort of petty narcissism seems endemic to the Republican Party nationally but seems particularly virulent in Maryland. Given that the so called “Free State” is being run over rough-shod by a Democrat Party monopoly, I’m not sure what these party insiders claim to have done for the party themselves. Dan Bongino has made it exciting to be a Republican in the state of Maryland, which is far more than some of his detractors have done. Dan is like a defibrillator for a state party in cardiac arrest.
He aims to win this Senate seat in deep blue Maryland because principles matters. Please take check out his latest web ad below, and visit his website here.


Crossposted here and here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

President Obama's Convenient Lie Provides Free Advertising for His Donors

Earlier today President Obama tweeted the following about women's "health":
It's intriguing that the President decided to tweet a quote from a women's health magazine to make a policy point. The quote Obama used was from a scare tactic campaign from Women's Health magazine that indicates that women's reproductive "rights" may go the way of the dodo bird. A little closer look shows that President Obama may be giving Women's Health magazine the Solyndra treatment. The CEO of Rodale Inc, Maria Rodale, which publishes the magazine, has given the President $5,000 to his campaign and and another other $5,000 to the DNC. Rodale Inc mostly focuses on health and wellness related magazines and books, but interestingly also published Al Gore's "global warming" fictional book, An Inconvenient Truth--indicating their aim may be more political than solely "health and wellness". It sure was nice of the President to give some advertising to one of his donors and ideological peers, huh?

Of course, Women's Health Magazine , in addition to campaign funding, also gave First Lady Michelle Obama the platform to promote the President's health care reform bill this past May. Mrs. Obama writing in part about contraception (emphasis added): 
 It used to be that even many women with health insurance would skip these check-ups because of the cost. In fact, before the health reform law that my husband signed back in 2010, some insurance companies would routinely charge women 50 percent more than men for the same coverage because they needed more frequent access to preventive services like mammograms and cervical screenings. Fortunately, the new health care bill makes that discrimination against women illegal starting in 2014, and today, insurance companies are required to cover life-saving cancer screenings and other preventive services like contraception and immunizations without a co-pay. 
While the First Lady wrote this piece for Women's Health and provided them with her workout play list,  interestingly, she turned down an interview and cover with the Heart & Soul, a  health magazine for African American women.

Beyond the cronyism of free advertising, the tweet is blatantly false. President Obama implies that the Republican Party is trying to limit or ban birth control. Those claims are only true in liberal newspeak where "ban" is synonymous with "not forcing employers to pay for". However, this is the kind of fight the Obama administration brought upon themselves when they sacrificed the first amendment to expand government, and it's a problem easily solved if the free market is brought into health care, a concept I describe in a post at in February:
Beyond the economic benefits, a free market based health care system provides the best vehicle for religious liberty. When health insurance is detached from employment, it means that employers—be they religious institutions or religious business owners-- have no requirement to violate their conscience by providing insurance that covers contraception and abortion causing drugs. 
The same is true for individual health care consumers and insurance companies themselves. Individual health care consumers would have the option to purchase plans from insurers that either do or do not cover contraceptives. While individuals opposed to contraception would not desire contraception for themselves anyway, choosing a plan that does not cover contraception means the money they used to purchase health insurance does not have the potential to “cross subsidize” contraception or abortion causing drugs. 
“Cross subsidization” occurs when insurance premiums are pooled by the insurer and then dispersed to pay medical bills for those they insure, meaning that the money one pays in insurance premiums beyond what care they need may ultimately cover another individual’s care . Market based healthcare also provides health insurers with the freedom to abide by their conscience in what they will cover. Insurers who oppose contraceptives would not be obligated to provide coverage, and those who approve contraceptives would be free to do so. There is a market for both, and it would provide employers, individuals, and insurers the freedom to exercise their religious liberty.
President Obama is again trying to scare women into believing that the only way to protect their so called reproductive freedoms is to grow government and quash religious freedom--and in the process, he's providing free advertising for his donors. In reality, the free market providers the greatest platform for both individual and religious freedom.

Crossposted here and here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hope and Change Re-visited

Recently,when Governor Palin released a statement indicating that she wouldn't be speaking that RNC, she noted:
Everything I said at the 2008 convention about then-candidate Obama still stands today, and in fact the predictions made about the very unqualified and inexperienced Community Organizer’s plans to “fundamentally transform” our country are unfortunately coming true.
She is right. What Governor Palin predicted in her speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention has unfortunately come to fruition. In September of 2010, Stacy Drake and I  put together a post highlighting the prescience of just a three minute portion of her speech. Stacy put together the following video with that segment of the speech:

Nearly, two years have passed since we put together that post, and President Obama has fundamentally transformed our country even further. I've re-visited that portion of Governor Palin's speech below to indicate what Governor Palin predicted that has actually come to pass over the past more than three and a half years. The text of her speech is in italics; President Obama's "achievements" are in bold:

This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word “victory” except when he’s talking about his own campaign

·          When President Obama has gave a major speech on the war strategy in Afghanistan at West Point in December 2009 without mentioning the word “victory” once.
·         In 2011, when he talked about ending US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, he mentioned the word victory only once in each speech—to reference the killing of Osama bin Laden during his administration which has been a key talking point of his campaign.  

But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed … when the roar of the crowd fades away … when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot — what exactly is our opponent’s plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger:

·         The Obama administration has taken far greater regulatory and inhibitory control over:
·         Government growth
o    Under President Obama, government spending has been 24% of GDP, which is higher than the last 40 year average of 20.7%.
o    The number of federal employees has increased 6.2%.

take more of your money … give you more orders from Washington … and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world:

·         The ineptness of the Department of Homeland Security and the corruption of Department of Justice has left the border insecure, border control personnel dead, and American guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels under “Fast and Furious”.
·         During the Obama administration our debt has increased 50%, with about third of that debt held by foreign countries.
·         President Obama signed the START treaty which called for reduction of our nuclear arsenal. 
·          He also made cuts to our missile defense program. 
·         Under looming budget sequestration, the Defense budget would be cut by $500 billion over the next decade.

America needs more energy … our opponent is against producing it. 

·         President Obama has doubled down on a jobs killing drilling moratorium  in the Gulf in spite of court rejection.
·         He has reduced drilling permitting 36%.
·         Energy development on federal land has decreased to its lowest levels since 2003.
·          While development on private lands has increased, even the LATimes concedes this is due to “decisions energy companies made during the Bush administration to develop key reservoirs”.
·         He opposed legislation to increase energy development in Alaska.

Victory in Iraq is finally in sight … he wants to forfeit.
Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay … he wants to meet them without preconditions.
Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America. He’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights? 

·         Both the Christmas day bomber in 2009 and Time Square bomber in 2010 while both thankfully unsuccessful, had ties to al-Qaeda, and both men were read Miranda Rights.

Government is too big … he wants to grow it.

Congress spends too much … he promises more. 

·         In February 2009, President Obama signed a nearly trillion dollar stimulus bill.
·         An additional $17 billion stimulus bill in March 2010.
·         In July, President Obama signed a $105 billion transportation bill.
·         Continuing in the footsteps of President Bush, all three years of the Obama administration to date have included more than a trillion dollar deficits.

Taxes are too high … he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan, and let me be specific.
The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes … raise payroll taxes … raise investment income taxes … raise the death tax … raise business taxes … and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.

·         President Obama has raised taxes or instituted new taxes 21 times since taking office, namely through cigarette tax hikes and Obamacare.
·         Additionally, his budgets, which haven’t gotten Congressional support, have called for tax increases:
o    In FY 2010, nearly a trillion in tax increases over a ten year period.
o    In FY2011, as Governor Palin predicted, Obama proposed to increase the death tax and investment taxes.
o    In FY 2012, President Obama proposed $1.5 trillion in tax increases over the next decade and 43 tax hikes.
o    InFY 2013, President Obama proposed $1.8 trillion in tax increases over the next decade.
·         Obamacare includes 18 new tax hikes, and  75% of  the “mandate” tax will fall on families earning less than $120,000, meaning President Obama broke his promise to not increase taxes on those making less than $250,000. 

My sister Heather and her husband have just built a service station that’s now opened for business — like millions of others who run small businesses.
How are they going to be any better off if taxes go up? Or maybe you’re trying to keep your job at a plant in Michigan or Ohio … or create jobs with clean coal from Pennsylvania or West Virginia … or keep a small farm in the family right here in Minnesota. How are you going to be better off if our opponent adds a massive tax burden to the American economy?

Those two questions were rhetorical questions in her speech, but they are questions that were facing today as well. She may have asked "how are you going to be better off", but today, the question has expanded to include what are we going to do about it?  Governor Palin gave us her answer in the aforementioned RNC statement:
 I support Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in their efforts to replace President Obama at the ballot box, and I intend to focus on grassroots efforts to rally Independents and the GOP base to elect Senate and House members so a wise Congress is ready to work with our new President to get our country back on the right path. This is imperative.
Let's get to work, grassroots!

Crossposted here and here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

When a Woman Votes...

Today marks the 92nd anniversary of the day when Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the 19th amendment. With this, women were granted the right to vote--a right fought for by many from Abigail Adams in her letters to the Constitutional Convention to pioneers like Susan B.Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

The right to vote is indeed an honor granted by the democratic processes of our Republic outlined in the Constitution. It seems though that in the years that have followed since women were granted suffrage that this   great opportunity has been diminished--not that opportunities to vote have diminished, but that more and more it has been viewed as collective statement, rather than an individual's opportunity.

Last weekend, I visited the Illinois State Fair and decided to pop into the Illinois Democratic Party tent. It was pretty much your standard political tent with flags, politicians' photos and literature, but one of the pieces of literature stood out to me-- the Illinois Democratic Women's flyer seen below:

To be sure, any literature from a political party is going to be partisan by default, but I was a bit surprised by the line, "when women vote Democrats win". With the exception of the 2010 election, the majority of women have voted Democratic in elections. However, there are two things wrong with this type of message: 1) it's about party power not about improving the state 2) it tries to make a statement about how women vote as a collective--thus diminishing the individual woman.

I don't particularly identify with any political party. Both parties have made government too big and too full of cronyism and corruption. I grew up in a conservative home, but I've voted Republican, Green Party, and Democrat in various elections in the past ten years--even for Barack Obama when he ran for Senate in 2004 (I was in college--youthful indiscretion). In the last few years, my political ideology has solidified as some conservatarian hybrid. Nonetheless, regardless of whether or not I, as a woman (or as an American in general) identify with a party, I'm sick of how the Democratic party projects their beliefs onto all women as if we're all supposed to walk in lock step. Why did the Illinois Democratic Women assume that women all women vote Democratic? In their laughable attempt to win female votes, why did the Obama campaign's graphic artist depict "Julia" without a mouth?

Is that because President Obama speaks for her, and she's not allowed to speak for herself? Additionally, why does the Obama campaign call Paul Ryan bad for women? For a party that prides itself on "female empowerment", it is certainly hypocritical for them to support the idea that taxpayers should pay for a woman's divorce between sex and personal responsibility. Why does Code Pink think that dressing up as vaginas will help their cause? Are they simply trying to show which organ they will vote with rather than their brains? All of these are examples of projection of party ideology onto individual women.

Women vote across all party lines, and all parties indeed want their vote. However, far too often the Democratic party gives their collectivist answer without asking the question--what do women want? They assume that women want the government to do things for them, rather than to stop doing things to them. In this "war on women", too often women have become the grenades. This is true of both major parties. The Democrats raised money off of Rush Limbaugh's comments about Sandra Fluke, and the Romney campaign raised money off of Hilary Rosen's comments about Ann Romney--both in attempts to win the "women's vote". There's no such thing as the "women's vote". There is a woman's vote; there are tens of millions of these across the country--each with a different perspective and different priorities. I'm so thankful to live in a country where I have the opportunity to vote as a woman.  As I wrote this past spring:
The voice of women has made a huge impact at the ballot box, but the “women’s vote” is not a collective declaration. Rather, the “women’s vote” is a collection of individual women’s decisions based upon their priorities. A CNN poll performed late last month indicated that 54% of women saw the economy as the most important issue with 16% and 14% of women stating that the federal budget deficit and healthcare were the most important issues respectively. The remaining 16% of women thought that either the situation in Afghanistan, illegal immigration, terrorism, or gay and lesbian policies were the most important issues. Suffice it to say, each women has a unique set of priorities when it comes to how they vote, and women’s opinions on how these priorities should be as a means of policy fall all along the political spectrum.
While the Democratic party wish to project their views onto all women, it an individual woman's choice to cast her vote how she chooses--just as it is for a man. It's not the women's vote; it's a woman's vote.

Crossposted here and here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Where There is No Vision, the People Perish

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."- Proverbs 29:18
Both in her appearance with Shannon Bream today and her Facebook post last night, Governor Palin noted this election's focus on vision, noting in her Facebook post that President Obama has stated this election is about " two fundamentally different visions of America". In her Facebook post, she also delineated numerous ways in which the vision of candidate Obama has failed when he came into office. In her interview with Shannon Bream, she referenced Thomas Sowell's discussion on the "conflict of visions" and how too often try to solve their own problems (i.e. their re-elections) rather than solve the country's problems. Politicians are too often expediently myopic.

With Mitt Romney noting last week that he was seeking a vice presidential candidate with " vision for country" and with his selection of Congressman Paul Ryan who is known for his budgetary"roadmap"--a vision for the country, it has become more clear that the vision for the country, not change, is the keyword of this election. However, it is imperative that our leaders are visionary enough to accompany that vision with action and courage. The verse from the book of Proverbs at the beginning of this post comes from the Israelite king Solomon to whom God granted great wisdom. Unfortunately, Solomon too frequently misapplied the great wisdom he was blessed with, and it ultimately culminated in a divided kingdom in the next generation. His vision was a self-involved one, and it ultimately led to the centuries of political turmoil for his people.

In December 2010, Governor Palin was the first prominent conservative to provide support for Congressman Ryan's roadmap, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
In my view, a better plan is the Roadmap for America's Future produced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.). The Roadmap offers a reliable path to long-term solvency for our entitlement programs, and it does so by encouraging personal responsibility and independence.
In that op-ed, she noted that the fiscal reforms that Paul Ryan proposed would address the unsustainable problems with Social Security, Medicare, health care, and the national debt. He offered a vision to fix America's problems--not his own political problems. However, due to decades and decades of politicians who served only to further their own interest, pad their bank accounts, and solve their own problems, our nation has come to a tipping point. Our leadership has failed to provide a vision to prevent problems from happening in the first place, so instead, they are forced to solely solve problems--many of which could not have been prevented.

In order to deal with the massive problems our country faces, our leaders must realize that their vision must be one of both problem prevention and problem solving, but they also must realize that those who solve problems are ultimately the American people--not the government. Our problems can't be micromanaged, nor can they be solved solely because one party does a "better" job of managing the economy. Government's role is not to manage the economy. Solving the problems of "energy cronyism" won't end by replacing solar and ethanol subsidies with oil and coal subsidies. Our large deficits and growing debts won't be prevented if our leaders aim to cut taxes, but only cut spending around the margins.

Being from Alaska, a state whose motto is "north to the future" and who sees the north star as a guiding force, perhaps Governor Palin has a better sense of true vision than many other politicians--one that can be seen in her record and in her ideas. I wrote two posts at Conservatives4Palin in spring 2011 talking about Governor Palin's "forward focused leadership" on both energy and spending. Governor Palin's vision on energy set in motion the construction of a natural gas pipeline. Her vision on budgeting lead her to cut spending 9.5% during her tenure for the sake of Alaska's fiscal health, and due in large part to her policies, Alaska has had their credit upgraded twice since 2007.  Additionally, last year Governor Palin laid out a vision for America when she spoke in Indianola, Iowa. Her vision focused on ridding our political system of crony capitalism, stopping the expansion of the federal government, repealing Obamacare, reining in debt, becoming an energy superpower, and removing both corporate taxes and corporate welfare.

Governor Palin is a visionary political figure--in both her words and her deeds. When she chose not to run for the presidency last fall, many of the pundits wanted to relegate her to the role of political cheerleader, but the past ten months have shown she is no cheerleader in this political game. She is a visionary coach who has encouraged a game plan for this election cycle:
Our country cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama’s fundamentally flawed vision. We must now look to this new team, the Romney/Ryan ticket, to provide an alternate vision of an America that is fiscally responsible, strong, and prosperous – an America that understands and is proud of her exceptional place in the world and will respect those who fight to secure that exceptionalism, which includes keeping our promises to our veterans.  
Please continue to focus on the presidential race and on helping Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but it’s also imperative that we get involved in the nation’s important House and Senate races. These candidates need our help to ensure that our next president has a responsible and ethical Congress that actually gets things done for America. Now on to November!
The Obama presidency has provided ample examples of a failed vision. The Romney-Ryan campaign must provide fiscally sound, reform minded vision, and they must do so with courage and conviction. When their vision is being falsely blurred by the Obama campaign and the complicit media, as Governor called for in her interview with Shannon Bream,  let us have their back (something she has never fulled received from her GOP colleagues). Finally, a vision cannot be implemented with inadequate leadership; it's not solely about the presidential race, but Congress as well. A visionary coach would know how important it was for the success of the 49ers to have not only Joe Montana on their team, but also Jerry Rice. It doesn't matter what your quarterback is capable of if you have a poor wide receiver.

This election isn't about nebulous hope and change. It's about the vision that extends beyond the next election and leadership that extends beyond speeches. Both leadership and vision must work in concert with each other. As President Reagan once said, " to grasp and hold a vision--that is the very essence of successful leadership". Crossposted here and here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stand with Rep. Sandy Adams to Protect the Taxpayer

 Florida's Congressional primary will be held next Tuesday, August 14th., One primary race in the seventh district pits longtime Congressman John Mica against freshman Congresswoman Sandy Adams.  Sandy Adams is an Air Force veteran and former Orange County Deputy Sheriff and Florida state representative.

Adams, endorsed by Governor Palin both in 2010 and in this year, won a seat in Congress riding the 2010 Tea Party wave. Her record in office so far has proven to be a reform minded breath of fresh air compared to her now opponent, Congressman John Mica. In the last two years, Congressman Mica's voting record has followed the status quo of crony capitalism, bloated government, and corporate welfare.In just the past two years voted on multiple occasions to support continued corporate welfare and poor use of taxpayer dollars. Mica voted against Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act which would have eliminated all targeted energy subsidies across the board--both for renewables and fossil fuels. Congresswoman Adams, on the other hand, voted to eliminate these energy subsidies that would have saved $90 billion over ten years. Congressman Mica stood for corporate welfare again when he voted for a bill that re-authorized the Export-Import (ExIm) bank, which the Heritage Foundation calls the "Fannie Mae of Exporters". The ExIm bank provides taxpayer guaranteed loans to American companies who do business overseas. Congresswoman Adams took another stand against corporate welfare by voting against the re-authorization of this bank.  Congressman Mica stood for corporate welfare and energy subsidies again when he voted against a bill that would have blocked "Solyndra type" green energy loan guarantees; Congresswoman Adams voted in favor of blocking such loans. There is a crystal clear difference between the crony capitalist voting record of Congressman Mica and the pro market voting record of Congresswoman Adams.

The crony capitalism doesn't stop with solely his recent voting record for Congressman Mica. Breitbart News reports on what the Congressman has provided his cronies as the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:
One of Mica's pet projects is Florida's SunRail, a 61 mile commuter rail costing around $1.2 billion dollars. The rail curiously does not connect with one of Florida's most profitable businesses, Disney World, but does run through Mr. Mica's congressional district. Not only will district business benefit from the Sunrail, which will serve around 2000 commuters a day, Mr. Mica's enthusiastic campaign donor, CSX Transportation, will get $491 million of tax payer money for its freight lines.
“ 'His dedication to SunRail is not for mass transit — it is for helping CSX to get government funds for its private freight lines,' said State Senator Paula Dockery, a Republican and a chief critic of the project."
The New York Times goes on to report:
Campaign finance records show that many of the contractors that worked on the project, including an engineering firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff, have been major contributors to Mr. Mica’s re-election campaigns. So have businesses and individuals who could benefit from the project, including ICI Homes, a real estate developer that owns several sites close to a proposed SunRail station, and Florida Hospital in Orlando, whose $250 million expansion plan is contingent on getting a station on its property.
But the largess with tax payer dollars extends not only to his donors but to his family as well. Mr. Mica's daughter, D'Anne Mica, ran a public relations firm for 8 years. One of her clients was the construction firm, PBS&J. (ABC News, January 12, 2010) In 2009, Rep. Mica earmarked $13 million of taxpayer dollars for PBS&J, coincidentally a major supporter of Florida's SunRail.
Congresswoman Adams' record represents a stark contrast from Congressman Mica's cronyism and corporate welfare. This is why Governor Palin wrote today re-iterating her support for Adams:
In 2012, we have a unique opportunity to elect more commonsense conservatives to Congress, but that alone is not enough. We must support conservatives who are with us on the issues but not weighed down with the burden of crony capitalism that is so prevalent in Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Sandy Adams is just one of those candidates. She is running in Florida’s 7th Congressional District; and unlike her opponent, Sandy is free from the shackles of lobbyists and back door dealings in Washington. As someone who served in the military and as a career law enforcement officer, Sandy doesn’t have time or the patience for the business as usual ways of Washington. Washington insiders on both sides of the aisle have spent this country into massive debt and put our children’s future at risk. Let’s restore power to the people by electing a wise Congress that our next President can work with. Please join me and others like Congressman Allen West, Condi Rice, and Tea Party Express in supporting Sandy Adams today.
Congressman Mica has shown that he's used his position in Congress to protect his cronies. Conversely, Congresswoman Adams has used her seat in Congress to protect the taxpayers--and victims of abuse. She is in a unique position as a woman and as a former law enforcement officer to lead the way on sensible legislation to protect women without the extending the law (the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA) beyond the original intent--as the Senate Democrats want to do. As Adams wrote in an op-ed this past spring:
 To make this a political issue is not only wrong but dangerous. Violence against women in this country cannot be just another campaign issue, it cannot become part of a stump speech; it must be a reflection of our best efforts as Americans united against a cycle of violence that can and must be broken. That is why I am proud to introduce, with my House colleagues, legislation that aims to improve VAWA while still keeping lifesaving programs intact. Our legislation will help ensure that money is going to the victims of abuse and not Washington bureaucrats by streamlining the grant process to make it more accountable, efficient and cost-effective. Additionally, it eliminates fraud in immigration programs and omits the potentially unconstitutional expansion of tribal court jurisdiction over non-native Americans.  
 As someone who knows firsthand the dangers and effects of domestic violence, I want victims out there to know that there is hope and life after abuse. Programs like VAWA, when not used for political posturing, are crucial to protecting and helping these victims. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand together on this issue without turning it into a partisan talking point. Too many lives are at stake for us to give anything less.
Representative Sandy Adams will protect rule of law and the taxpayer. To stand with Governor Palin, Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Allen West, ShePAC, and Tea Party Express, please support Congresswoman Adams. You can find out more about her campaign and donate here.

 Crossposted here and here.

Media Message: Judge a Woman by the Height of Her Shoes, not the Height of her Character

With the Olympics in full swing, one author at the Boston's posited an intriguing question, what if all Olympics sports were photographed like women's beach volleyball? The author noted that he had performed  a Getty image search for women's beach volleyball. He found that overwhelming, the photos were of the women's rear ends, not an action shot of a player making a dig or block. He then posted a photo essay of similarly cropped photos of male athletes---gymnasts' rear ends and divers' torsos--noting the awkwardness of those photos (See here). The female athletes were photographed to highlight their physical appearance and sex appeal, not their athletic ability.

Similarly, there seems to be a difference in the way both that female politicians are photographed and written about as well. It begs the question, what if male politicians were photographed and written about the same way that female politicians are?  Too often female politicians' physical traits are highlighted while their policy positions and experience are minimized. In 2007, then Senator Hillary Clinton famously spoke on the Senate floor and her blouse revealed a little bit of cleavage:

That incident provided not only late night fodder, but the basis an entire article the Washington Post. about Senator Clinton's cleavage and overall style. The article was 12 paragraphs long, and only one sentence even touched on the policy issue she was discussing.

Late last year, Congressman Barney Frank spoke on a the House floor wearing a not-so-flattering shirt:

To be sure, this incident became fodder for the political blogosphere, but it certainly didn't become mainstream media frenzy that Hillary Clinton's cleavage appearance did.

In 2008, much ado was made about vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's appearance--her glasses, her clothes, her shoes. In fact, this photo of her shoes in the foreground and a young male supporter in the background accompanied was an image captured by both AP and Reuters photographers:

What if multiple photographers decided to make Vice President Joe Biden's legs and shoes the subject of their shot?:

Of course, this image was not the subject of a photographer. It was an image that I had to crop myself, and it was difficult to even find an image that wasn't a head shot of the vice president or from the torso up. There certainly weren't any photos of the Vice President's legs in the foreground and a young woman in the background.

Earlier this election season, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared on the cover of Newsweek with this bizarre, wide-eyed expression (not to mention biased, sexist title):

For photo shoots, many pictures are taken and with today's technology can be immediately checked digitally for closed eyes and other imperfections. Why was this photo chosen of likely the dozens that were taken? Certainly a photo like the one below of President Obama never made its way onto a major news magazine:

Pictures are often with a thousand words. They speak volumes about how the photographer, writer, or editor is trying to portray a politician--as a competent leader, a sex object, a crazy person, etc. However, focusing on a women's style over her substance isn't limited to photos.  Washington Post writer Diana Reese  used her platform at the Post's "She the People" feature to criticize Sarah Palin's clothes at a recent campaign rally/BBQ for Missouri Senatorial candidate Sarah Steelman:
When Palin took to the makeshift stage in the middle of a Missouri farm field, she was dressed more for the part of Hollywood celebrity than serious politician. I know someone’s going to remind me that just last week, I said it was sexist to focus on the wardrobes of women in politics. 
But it was hard for me to take Palin seriously dressed as she was. 
First, her shoes: Five-inch wedges. Her black capris weren’t quite skin-tight but tight enough, and her t-shirt with its Superman logo (a Steelman campaign shirt emblazoned with “Our freedom. Our fight.”) emphasized her figure. She never once removed her oversized sunglasses. 
I’m sorry, but I’d like my minister, my doctor and yes, my politicians, to look and dress for their parts.
Palin stumped for Steelman at an event that took place at a blueberry farm, and she delivered her speech from a trailer that can be attached to a truck. It wasn't a flashy event, and Governor Palin is known for her down home appeal. The candidate herself, Sarah Steelman, was dressed in jeans and boot . It was a very Midwestern, down-to-earth event. It wasn't a big dollar fundraiser at a fancy location. Palin wore one of the campaign's t-shirts-- standing in solidarity with the Steelman campaign workers who were also wearing "Superman" ( man of steel--Steelman, get it?) shirts. Additionally, it was a hot, sunny evening, and Palin usually wears glasses. Was Palin supposed to wear her normal glasses the whole time and squint or take her prescription sunglasses off and not be able to see? Governor Palin gave a very solid stump speech focusing on Steelman's plans if she was elected and noting her reformer credentials. All of these were apparently lost on Reese. She decided, as she notes in this piece, that she should call out sexism about the cost of a female political figure's clothes if it's Michelle Obama, but also apply a different standard to Palin by criticizing Palin's choice of clothing at a low key, Midwestern campaign event.

Women can't expect their counterparts in the media--be they writers, editors, or photographers--to stop being sexist in their portrayal of female politicians when they themselves focus more on the height of a political figure's shoes than the height of her character or the weight of her words. As depicted above, the media's sexist portrayal of women is bipartisan. In order to counter that, it would behoove all women to make sure the voice against sexism is a bipartisan one as well.

Crossposted from The New Agenda.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Imperfect Vessels

Usually my blog postings center on politics, but there is one thing far more eternal and important than politics--faith. The minister at my church asked me to write a short article for this past Sunday's church bulletin. I wrote it last Tuesday and emailed it to our church secretary. I didn't read it again until Sunday morning. Re-visiting those Scriptures again came at a perfect time, when I really needed to challenge myself with the Word of God. Sometimes, it's too easy to focus on perceived or real imperfections and even compare one's situation in life with others--jobs, marriage, children etc-- and not realize that God has you in at a certain station in life for His purposes. This is something that I need to remind myself of--and often. Here is the bulletin article:
One of the most compelling stories in the Bible came in John 9 when the disciples questioned Jesus about a man who was blind from birth. The disciples asked, “ who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus responded, “ [n]either this man nor his parent sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life”.  Jesus then healed the man. Because of this man’s physical ailment, Jesus was able to show His power and love through His healing.

Jesus often uses our physical and spiritual imperfections to show His power and reveal His glory. In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul writes, “ [b]ut we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us”. We are merely vessels that carry the death of Christ to enable the life of Christ to be revealed in us (2 Corinthians 4:10). Jars of clay are mundane objects.  Clay itself is not particularly valuable or useful. However, once it has been molded for a specific purpose, it has amazing potential, not because of what it is, but because of what it can carry. 
As jars of clay, we may have cracks or smudges, but our value as such a vessel is due to the fact that we carry the treasure of Christ. In spite of those imperfections, God uses us. God spoke through Moses in spite of his speech problem. He used Rahab, a prostitute, to protect the Israelite spies. He used Paul, who once persecuted Christians, to be a fervent messenger of the Gospel. These were all imperfect vessels that God used, just as we are. May we also remember the all-surpassing power of the life of Christ that we are blessed to carry. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Parallels of Sarah Palin and Sarah Steelman

Governor Palin appeared at a campaign rally for Missouri Senatorial candidate Sarah Steelman tonight. A state representative from Missouri introduced Steelman noting her intentions to change Washington if elected., but he also noted Steelman's record. One aspect of her record was particularly compelling. As state treasurer, Sarah Steelman started the first terror-free investment fund in the country. Her campaign website notes (emphasis added):
She served as State Treasurer of Missouri from 2004 until 2008. As Missouri Treasurer Steelman was responsible for the management of more than $19 billion in Missouri’s annual revenue and managed the investment of over $3 billion in long- and short-term investments in the state’s portfolio. She started the first terror-free investment fund in the nation, which ensured that no taxpayer dollars were invested in terrorist sponsoring countries. Many other states have followed her lead in enacting similar policies.
Fiscal prudence is not only about how much money is spent or how it is specifically budgeted, but about where it is invested. Sarah Palin and Sarah Steelman share that important understanding when it comes to where state monies are invested. There is a fiscal responsibility to invest other people's money wisely, but there is also a moral responsibility to make sure it is invested ethically. As Governor Palin noted during the 2008 Vice Presidential debate regarding Alaskan dollars that were invested in Sudan:
When I and others in the legislature found out we had some millions of dollars in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars to make sure we weren't doing anything that would be seen as condoning the activities there in Darfur. That legislation hasn't passed yet but it needs to because all of us, as individuals, and as humanitarians and as elected officials should do all we can to end those atrocities in that region of the world.
The thousands of Governor Palin's emails the media requested only further confirmed this desire to divest money from a country engaged in genocide. Whether it's in the Senate or the state house, people are looking for leaders who not only are conservative, but who are reformers who aren't going to turn a blind eye to the immoral mismanagement of money. Steelman and Palin don't solely share a first name; they share a commitment to a making sure, as Steelman says, "the status quo has got to go" by reforming the way that government operates.

Crossposted here and here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Obamacare's Sobering Vocabulary Lesson

Over the last three years, America has been embattled in a health care reform debate, ranging from the legislative debates to the townhalls and Tea Parties and later on to the actual vote and bill signage and Supreme Court decision. In reality though, we were never really discussing health care reform; we were discussing health insurance reform. The difference is huge and will become more and more evident as time progresses. More Americans may receive health insurance coverage as Obamacare is implemented, but that doesn't mean that they will receive health care. We need to look no further than Medicaid to see the failures when government gets involved in health insurance and health care. Medicaid has been in place for nearly fifty years, but has the potential to greatly expand in states that choose to do so. However, Medicaid is also illustrative of how health care reform is a complete misnomer.

The New York Times finally highlighted the burgeoning doctors' shortage on Sunday. Even prior to Obamacare's passage, a doctors' shortage was anticipated. However, the shortage of doctors more than doubles with the implementation of Obamacare. What do doctors' shortages do? As the NYT story notes of current doctors shortages (emphasis added):
Experts describe a doctor shortage as an “invisible problem.” Patients still get care, but the process is often slow and difficult. In Riverside, it has left residents driving long distances to doctors, languishing on waiting lists, overusing emergency rooms and even forgoing care.
Yes, the New York Times would follow up a sentence that notes patients would receive care by noting that the doctors' shortage would influence them to forego care hoping that their readers would miss their attempt at nuance. Medicaid, though, adds an additionally wrench in the physician shortage, as the NYT goes on to say:
Moreover, across the country, fewer than half of primary care clinicians were accepting new Medicaid patients as of 2008, making it hard for the poor to find care even when they are eligible for Medicaid. The expansion of Medicaid accounts for more than one-third of the overall growth in coverage in President Obama’s health care law.
If there is already of shortage of doctors and  Medicaid patients are hard pressed to find a physician that will take them as a patient, where is the reform of health care? It's almost as if the government has offered to give the entire country their own car, but only gave everyone a set of keys. One of the main reasons that doctors aren't accepting new Medicaid patients is due to reimbursement rates, which Obamacare is supposed to increase. However, while President Obama was attempting to offset the financial aspect of care on the backs of the taxpayers through projected reimbursement increases, he neglected to address tort reform, which would have decreased medical malpractice insurance for doctors, while only negatively affecting ambulance chasers and the Democratic politicians to whom they donate, not the taxpayers.

Since Medicaid is partial state funded, there is a state specific aspect of this too. Take Illinois for example, where in FY2012, Medicaid was underfunded by $2.1 billion dollars . Additionally, even if funding stayed flat as Governor Quinn projects, payment to providers is projected to average nearly a year's delay by FY15. The state is already $8 billion behind on their bills overall, prompting the state comptroller to provide emergency funding to a mental health facility reliant on Medicaid funding to prevent the agency from closing its doors.  The expansion of Medicaid as Obamacare is implemented is supposed to make matters worse. Although the Supreme Court decision allows the states to decide whether or not they are going to expand Medicaid, true to form, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has already indicated he will. With a growing doctors shortage, a limited number of doctors accepting Medicaid, and the potential for facilities to close due to delayed payment, it would be a miracle if a Medicaid patient even got into the doctor!

Let's pretend though that a new Medicaid patient was able to get into the doctor, but they have a rare illness or are extremely sick and require a great deal of medications. Well, Illinois Medicaid has stated that they now will limit patients to 4 brand name drugs. This comes after last year, when Illinois cut availability of brand name psychiatric drugs. Fifteen other states have limits on brand name prescriptions as well. To be sure, there are a great deal of generic medications, but there are still situations where there are no generics available. Essentially, this is drug rationing.The implementation of Obamacare, which is predicted to double the number of Medicaid recipients in Illinois over the next ten years, will only exacerbate the problems already in place.

Obamacare may end up technically providing some form of "health insurance" to the majority of Americans. However, if past is prologue when it comes to government's role in medicine, this will not be legitimate health care reform, as people who now may not have health insurance or health care may inevitably end up with health insurance, but with delayed or non-existent care and limits on what medication they may receive.Of course, this is not what was promised by President Obama. Julia may get her free birth control, but she will likely have a heck of time scheduling an appointment for a doctor to prescribe it for her. Moreover, this is being done on the backs of the American taxpayer, or in the case of Illinois, the $2.1 billion Medicaid underfunding  came on the heels of a 67% state income tax increase and a more than 40% increase in state corporate taxes. This is the kind of newspeak that has become commonplace in the Obama administration, but hopefully proponents of government intervention in medicine will learn a sobering lesson. Health care and health insurance are not synonymous. Crossposted here and here.