Gut Check

No one particularly cares about my opinions on the GOP candidates, but the initial impetus for this blog was to 'think out loud' so here's my shot at contributing to the noise. Most of it truly is noise, and most Americans, those who don't read political pundits everyday or carry around a double-bit axe  just to have something handy for grinding, are not distracted by the noise. They vote with their gut. Sometimes they use it to vote 'for' someone, but often they use it vote 'against' the other guy.

Obama was elected by blacks and the dependable left. They voted for him, they felt he represented them. Independents and other inch deep types voted against George W. Bush. Some were also voting against John McCain because it was "his turn", as part of the Republican establishment, to run. And some voted for Obama, by not voting. It always works out that way. The Democrats were effective in generating interest in (and covering up problems with) an acceptable candidate and the Republicans, fearfully politically correct, couldn't or wouldn't differentiate themselves, so why not vote for "change"? Simplistic maybe, but it's how it seems to me.

In the 2012 Presidential election there will be a considerable block of people who want to vote against Barack Obama and as long as the Republican candidate can remain "acceptable," which they will have proven they can do by winning the nomination, they should be able to pick up enough 'against' votes to beat Obama. Conservative pundits, establishment types and the mushy middle rely on the Buckley Rule to make their for and against arguments on candidates. Buckley said conservatives should support 'the most conservative candidate who is electable'. The last part is, of course, the tricky bit, especially considering that there is no consensus about which of the two (currently front-running) big government candidates, Romney or Gringrich, is more electable. And I can honestly say, as one of the unwashed masses, that I don't believe anyone can sufficiently define "electability" for the rule to make sense.

In my view, neither of those two is electable. They are both insiders, "his turn" candidates, and no one, especially the 30 million who watch American Idol, will be as excited about voting 'for' Gingrich/Romney as they are voting 'against' Obama.  A candidate can say all the right things for months, but really, what's the difference? Big government is big government, an insider is an insider and party aristocracy is party aristocracy. The American public knows lip-synching when they hear it ... why do you think they watch 'Idol' in the first place? They want to see genuine, everyday people like themselves using their God-given talents and succeeding, not the next Disney pop stars singing cover tunes.

Initially, I was on the Herman Cain band wagon. There was no doubt about him being an outsider and his pure American success story would be hard to beat. I wanted to see two black men running for President, especially ones with such contrasting ideologies, to take race out of the equation. It would have leveled the playing field. But he missed the "acceptable" boat with questionable personal issues and a seemingly superficial grasp of issues. I liked that he defaulted to principles when trying to articulate positions he clearly didn't have details on, but he couldn't have won the nomination with that tactic. He was on the stage too long.

Speaking of on the stage too long, I'm really glad Sarah Palin decided not to run. Not because I dislike her. On the contrary, of all the political personalities on the conservative side if I could wave a magic wand and make her President, I would. Not only do I think she would be a great President, it would be delicious watching her detractors squirm while the country excelled. Without a magic wand, getting elected would have been impossible. Debates with Obama would have been entertaining, as would the press and their sabotage efforts, but, in the end she would not have won because she is a woman. It would not be the men who kept her from winning, it would be the women. A President Palin would be threatening to a lot of outspoken, high profile women ... you wouldn't see her being endorsed by NOW or the hosts of The View. Now that I think about it, I suspect there are a lot more male voters in Alaska than female ones, so I'll use that as the evidence for what my gut is telling me. American women could comfortably vote for a woman like Hilary, so obviously second in the relationship with her man, but not Palin. She is not a prop or the heir to a political empire.

Women are also threatened by Michelle Bachmann, though it's not exactly the same. Bachmann comes across as a little too shrill, a little too convinced of her own righteousness, a little less humble. The other difference between these two women is experience and accomplishment. People don't get elected to the Presidency from the House of Representatives because, honestly, what do they really accomplish? They are opinion mongers with a vote, and their bread and butter is topped with slices of pork. They are representatives, not executives. They are one of us, not leaders of us, and that makes whatever political accomplishments they have seem unimpressive ... something any of us could do with the right nudging and contributions from lobbyists and special interests. Is Michelle Bachmann principled? I have no doubt that she is, but I don't see people putting her in an executive position. The thing that turned me off from Bachmann was really minor ... a comment about a disorganized staff, another about changing Chiefs, the shuffle in her campaign leadership ... and I found myself feeling that these similar things said something important about her. When I factored in her personality, the righteousness, my own experiences working for similar personalities, it wasn't difficult to go from "these are plausible incidents" to "she probably can't lead a diverse group." That may be unfair, but it's hard to get past the impression and I don't think I'm alone.

The same sorts of questions come up about Gingrich and his leadership of the U.S. House. I'm sure there are two sides to the story, but for the average American, the name Gingrich is a lot closer to meaning double-talking-political-grinch than it is to principled, effective leader. If they don't know about the ins and outs of his tenure as Speaker of the House, they have at least absorbed that it was contentious. And they likely know something about his personal life. Unfortunately, someone in their third marriage is not unusual in our society, but it's still not considered an enhancement to character. Ask anyone who has been divorced. It's probably on their "life lesson" list, not their "accomplishment" list. Gingrich carries a negative political and personal vibe with him, plus, he's an arrogant, big ego, know-it-all who has a government related answer to everything. His vertical leap is higher than his likeability index. There is little doubt that Gingrich is capable of saying the right things, the things that will differentiate him from Obama, because he is, after all, the "smart" Republican. It's doubtful, however, that the American public will trust him. Oh sure, the policy wonks and political dilettantes will like him, because his intelligence reflects their own, you see, but your average Joe knows that "smart Republican" in the nomination press is simply code for sneaky, greedy and morally bankrupt in the general election press. Newt would eviscerate Obama in a debate, but how would he govern? Just like Obama ... ego first.

Mitt Romney is, even more than Newt, the "next in line" for establishment Republicans. He's likeable. He's an experienced leader. He says the right things. He's polished. He has resources. He is John McCain and Bob Dole. He is Mitch McConnell. He is Kay Bailey Hutchison. He is George H.W. Bush. He is safe. He is boring. He will move this country not one iota in a conservative direction because he truly is a reach-across-the-aisle, compromising, moderate. The Tea Party will be put back in its place, waiting to be called upon again for the next progressive over-reach, even though it will likely be too late. The phrase "anyone but Romney" exists because people know he is the business-as-usual-why-bother-voting candidate. Nominating Mitt Romney is like guaranteeing bad weather on election day; people will stay home. They won't be at the voting booth 'holding their nose', they'll be at the bar drinking shots and punching up songs from Nothin' Matters and What If It Did on the jukebox.

If Mitt is Kay Bailey, Ron Paul is Ross Perot ... different, energetic, bold, consistent and ultimately, divisive. He is an anti-Obama candidate; there would be no mistaking them and no one could say "they are both are the same." You could say that about Paul versus the rest of the Republican field, too. His uniqueness is his biggest selling point. It's also his biggest problem. Last election we voted for change, but we really didn't want that much of it and so there is this backlash. Despite low approval ratings for Congress and a perceptable increase in distrust of the government, no one is ready for a revolution whether it's an "Occupy" one or a libertarian one. I appreciate having Ron Paul in the race as a Republican because he helps move the party in a more libertarian direction, but he would not be able to do that as President. If Ron Paul is elected President in 2012 he would, essentially, be Bizarro Obama. He would have two years with a Republican Congress, but not get much done because his agenda would be too extreme. Then in 2014 the Republicans would be in the same position as the Democrats in 2010, defending a President they didn't really support, and they would lose control of Congress. In a bizarro sort of way voting for Ron Paul, the most anti-Obama candidate, turns out to be sorta like voting for Obama instead of against him. The average voter isn't thinking consciously of this kind of scenario, but at some level they recognize that Paul's ideology is equally extreme as Obama's.

Rick Santorum is an anti-Obama candidate, too. He's well spoken, experienced, informed and principled. If he got the nomination, and the associated funds, he would definitely provide a contrast to Obama. The general public opinion of him probably runs from "who?" to "the anti-gay pro-life guy" and little else. I like Rick Santorum. He could be an effective anti-Obama candidate. He beats the social conservative drum a bit too loudly at times, not that there's anything wrong with that. The majority of Americans are not worried about a newly elected President imposing some Christian version of Sharia Law, but social issues will be used to create an emotional, extremist caricature that Santorum does not have the resources to overcome. I hope he does well in Iowa. He needs a turn at the top to get his non-social message out. He also pushes the party to the right. His biggest asset is that he seems to be the truly principled politician, but, unfortunately, that is probably one reason behind his lack of resources. Is it possible, as a politician, to be too principled and honest? Santorum once said that losing the Senate race in 2006 was not as bad as not standing on principle. I truly respect that, and would hope to live up to that standard, but my cynical self says you'll never beat Obama standing on principles because he plays by different rules. Santorum's principles, regardless of their popularity, make him predictable and an 'unsexy' candidate. Not only that, he's not even interested in pretending to be sexy just for the sake of winning.

John Huntsman, another non-sexy candidate, should be considered reasonable and acceptable. He was a governor with a conservative record. He doesn't have the personal baggage of Newt, but it's a toss up between him and Mitt on who has less charisma. A lack of cash doesn't seem to be a problem for Huntsman and, ironically, for him, it's a turn off because his Daddy is rich. He is John Kerry running on Heinz money. Like Newt, he can say all the right things. He may even be able to point to specific policies and actions as governor to back up the words, but in the end, he worked for Obama. We may all understand that it was political manuevering on Obama's part to get a prominent Republican in his administration, and that for Huntsman it was a good spring board to a national and international stage, but my gut tells me at some level these two men have something in common, at least enough to make the back scratching deal on the ambassador job. What is Huntsman's vibe? It's very similar to Obama's actually ... arrogant, entitled, educated and generally above it all.

Which leaves us with Rick Perry, my Governor. Perry has been a good governor. I'm willing to give him credit for working to create a regulatory and economic environment that is "open for business," but he makes a mistake by touting it. For practical reasons he has to, but in terms of "vibe" and "impression" and "style" he's focusing too much on it and needs to let other people make the point. It is the one area where he begins to sound like Obama ... too much "I." The reason Perry has been a good governor, in my view, is that he has mostly stayed in Austin, out of my sight. His comments about making the federal government inconsequential really resonated with the public partly because it's what they want to hear, and partly because how sincerely he delivered it. Perry stumbles when he tries to play a role outside the scope of his sincerity.

All the candidates can make the case that they are anti-Obama in terms of policy. Perry, however, has the best anti-Obama "presence." He's publicly humble. He is not the next great political orator. (Yes, I know Obama is not really a great orator either, but who am I to disrupt a publicly accepted meme?) And then there's Paint Creek, TX vs. Hawaii and Indonesia, executive experience vs. none, shooting coyotes vs. cruiser bikes and mom jeans and military pilot vs. community organizer. Like Obama, Perry is a career politician, and that bothers me, but give me good ol' boy Texas politics over Chicago machine politics, especially when you factor in that he's not part of the Texas/Bush political aristocracy (ask Kay Bailey how that worked out for her). There is also a whiff of cronyism around Perry (that's better than the stench around Obama), but give me Gardasil over Solyndra and Harold Simmons and Red McCombs over Andrew Stern and John Corzine.

The current GOP front-runners are like all the other entitled nomination candidates they have run at us for years ... Newt is McCain is Mitt is some Bush. Rick Perry? Rick Perry is Bill Clinton - a common man who figured out politics, a legitimate candidate outside the establishment, with good instincts and strong connections - and the huge bonus of not being a Democrat and serial adulterer.

In 2008 Barack Obama was correct. The American people voted for change. They thought they were voting for a change from "the failed policies of the past" and Obama successfully hung that on the Republicans, in some cases deservedly so. Those failed policies were "Republican" for the first two months of 2009, but the public quickly figured out that they are more properly labeled "Big Government" policies. After Obamacare and bailouts and cronyism the public knows what needs to change and they are rightfully skeptical of anyone promising to deliver the kind needed.

You don't stem the tide of government growth by electing one of the anointed because it's how they got anointed. And even if there were some objective test where you could say "this candidate is the most conservative" and by some miracle they were also the most "electable" (whatever that means) it would not matter if they could not practically move the country in a more conservative, libertarian direction for the long term. The progressive agenda, incrementally implemented over the past century, has pushed the country to the current precipice. We can wave the Constitution all we want, but there will be no immediate relief. The way back will be slow going, and in the process of governing each path chosen by our leaders will need to take us away from the precipice ... not balancing along the edge, not jumping off and hoping for the best, not blindly charging back leaving behind things worth keeping ... slow, predictable progress toward proven principles and policies.
Love the halo, O.

Going with my gut, Rick Perry seems to be the one candidate who can do that, not because he has the most detailed policy plans or because his style is motivational or his appeal is universal, but because over 11 years as Governor of Texas he has managed to push and nudge and pry the environment away from the precipice without demanding more of my time and resources and effort, without bankrupting the next generation and without sparking a population boom in a dependent class. I don't want a transcendent President. I want one that is trustworthy, sincere and gets results without whining or making excuses. I want Calvin Coolidge, not Teddy (or Franklin!) Roosevelt. I'm looking for John the Baptist, not Jesus Christ. We recently elected one Messiah and that hasn't turned out so well. Perry has admitted he is not a perfect candidate, an honest and easy admission, but I trust him to point the way and my gut tells me he can win.



Though a big fan of Bill Whittle and his Afterburner series, I do not typically embed videos on this blog. I thought this one, however, was an excellent follow up on my most recent blog post, "Truth Telling."


Truth Telling

For the third time in the past week I've seen a Bernie Sanders (Senator - Democratic Socialist, VT) quote posted on facebook. It's a sort of catch-all for my liberal friends ... blaming Bush, advocating for more government, an "independent" political voice, class warfare and claiming the moral, compassionate high ground all rolled up into one arrogant, partisan, rabble-rousing, ill-informed, but marketable, quote.

What I know of Senator Sanders is that his vote can be bought, that he stoops to the lowest form of rhetoric in his fundraising efforts, and that his favorite political tactic (and socialism's in general) is to promote class warfare. He also likes to trumpet his "independent" status while caucusing with the Democrats and voting with them 99% of the time. He strikes me as your typical uber-left, know-it-all, elitist who panders to the fringe by being an obnoxious jerk to everyone else. He thinks the know-nothing majority is not smart enough  or enlightened enough to embrace his ideas on their merits. He is the worst kind of politician, promoting himself as a middle class hero while his policies and ideology punish them.

If you can't tell, I do not like Bernie Sanders. And I do not like The Christian Left who are using this Sanders quote and others to imply that if you do not support progressive politics, well then, you aren't quite as good a Christian as they are.

We are The Christian Left. We’re all around you. We’re among the people. Take a look. We’re part of the Body of Christ. We’re Christians. We’re Liberal. We make no apologies. In fact Jesus' ways are “Liberal.” That’s why He was killed. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the conservatives of their time. This is clear. 

It's interesting that a group that considers itself egalitarian and doesn't want to be labeled, has no problem segregating "the Christian Right" from the body of Christ and labeling anyone who is not politically "left" as a legalistic literalist opposed to Christ. Also, they make it sound as if they are a voice from the religious margins, an oppressed minority group, but in fact the religious left is the dominate political power in most mainline protestant denominations, which may be an indication of why mainline denominations are failing. They are failing not just in terms of membership, though the decline is dramatic, but also in their mission. Despite the frequent use of scripture on their website, it's pretty obvious that the focus here is more on "Left" than on "Christian" and you don't have to read the original Greek to understand that obvious insincerity in using faith to promote politics is not the Gospel message.

We have here, in one simple, and frankly unattractive, graphic, two myths that need a counter argument. The first is the actual Sanders quote, which by my calculation is about 86% false. The second is that Jesus would unequivocally support progressive political policies.

Bernie says that we have "a serious deficit problem." That is the only completely truthful statement in the quote.The rest are either factually inaccurate or pure political spin. The deficit was not caused by two unpaid for wars. That may not have helped, but they certainly didn't cause it. Neither did huge tax breaks for the wealthy. The truth is that entitlement spending, what Bernie conveniently labels as "the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor" is the primary driver behind the deficit.

The second statement that needs a balancing argument is what is implied by the graphic, and explicitly stated by The Christian Left ... that Jesus' ways are "Liberal." I've written before about Jesus in this blog ...  how he should not be labeled as politically liberal, how his message implies personal action and sharing, how I am suspect of political arguments that invoke Jesus  and about the fear that prevents spiritual and intellectual discovery. I've tried, in various approaches, despite my membership in an unquestionably "left" PC(USA) church, to think "out loud" through this blog about my faith, my political opinions and how they can be reconciled. Though primarily a personal exercise to develop some consistency between my spiritual and political beliefs, they do demonstrate that conservative political opinions can be consistent with Christian faith, despite what The Christian Left would have you believe.

I've been reading a book, Left, Right & Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics, by Lisa Sharon Harper and D.C. Innes. Unlike The Christian Left, who condemn the political right and lay claim to complete knowledge of Jesus' political philosophy, this book is a theological discussion of political issues from both the Christian evangelical left (Harper) and right (Innes) perspectives. As you can see from the links above to previous blog posts, this is a topic I've thought about a lot. I bought the book to help me understand the politically left position of evangelical Christians and so far it is much more helpful and encouraging than anything from the Bernie Sanders fans.  Early in the book, in a discussion about the role of government, Innes writes the following:

If it were government's responsibility, even in part, to do the good deeds of society, people would gradually surrender more and more private responsibility to it. For its part, government would gladly expand to take responsibility for everything it possibly could. ... People would become ever more narrowly selfish and childishly dependent. Advocates of activist government would justify every new good work saying, "The government has to do this because people won't do it on their own." Of course, this is precisely what has been happening over the last hundred years. Where it ends is not the sort of noble liberty that God intends for his image-bearing vice-regents. At best, you get the control of well-meaning masters over grateful slaves, or some kind of happy human zoo [ed: My Brother's Keeper again?]. At worst, and more likely, you get the totalitarian rule of a self-serving administrative class over a docile people who have entirely forgotten how to provide for themselves.

The Christian Left posted Bernie's quote with the comment "Pretty sure we're going to post this every day for awhile. This truth needs to go viral. Please share." I don't believe it is truth, but here is something that is ... if you don't deliver your charity and compassion and care personally, if it doesn't require action and thought and personal committment, if you abdicate that responsibility to your government, your church, rich people or people who you think are gullible enough to do it for you then it is not honestly caring for the sick, the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the stranger, the imprisoned. The truth is that the government is gladly expanding. It is taking over our responsibilities for raising our children, caring for our sick, providing for our elderly and we, predictably, are forgetting how to do it ourselves. Advocating for higher taxes on someone else does not make you a better Christian.


Love and War in Texas

Love and War in Texas isn't just a good restaurant in Plano or a Rusty Wier song, it's a pretty good description of what's happening around here these days. Everyday people and businesses love Texas and the economic and social environment it provides. The Obama administration, however, has all but declared war. Texas occupies a large part of this blog and my life. It is my home and my heritage and when someone attacks, it pisses me off, just like it would anyone when their home is threatened. Thank God and the U.S. Constitution that there's an election next year.

Twenty-five million people live in Texas and the population is predicted to grow anywhere from 9 to 18 million in the next 20 years, a pretty good indicator that it's a good place to live. The rest of the country is probably sick of hearing about jobs in Texas so quoting the statistics probably isn't helpful. What most people are not aware of is that Texas (the cheap bastards), despite what you've heard, is actually pretty darn good at public education and improving the environment. More interesting than any of this is why.

Yes, Texas has benefitted from increased oil prices, but they don't control the market. And yes, Texas managed the housing bust better than most because of better lending (and regulation) and realistic valuations. It's not just a lucky coincidence, though; the environment needs to be right for good things to happen. Individuals need the freedom to make decisions in their own best interest. That includes families and businesses, too. Texas is far from perfect, but based on how it is surviving economically and future prospects, it must be doing something right. Among the things Texas gets right ...

  • it's a right-to-Work state with marginal political influence from labor unions
  • operating costs are low, taxes are reasonable and regulation is relatively fair
  • there is a generally pro-business attitude 
  • housing and the cost of living are relatively low and fair
  • the industrial base is diverse
  • there is a culture of independence, self-sufficiency, competition and personal responsibility

There are quite a few states with these characteristics, and I would be happy to live in any of them, though Texas will always be home. Some states, however, don't look like this and I would not live in them because I like living in America. If I wanted to live in Europe, I'd move to the real place, not some Democrat euro-wannabe fantasy-land facsimile.

This is where the conflict begins. Obama proclaimed he wanted to fundamentally change America, and it appears he is attempting to do it by taking down Texas, a great example of what America can do. The Obama administration has clearly demonstrated what he meant by "fundamental change" and it is actually worse than I feared. If he doesn't believe in Texas, if he somehow thinks Texas is wrong or an outlier or the enemy, then he doesn't believe in America. To borrow a phrase from Mark Levin, "That's right. I said it."

Texans voted against Obama in 2008, as everyone, including Obama, knew they would. No one would have expected, however, that Texas would get targeted for punishment by the new president especially considering that Travis County, home of the liberal bastion Austin, had the second largest amount of contributions by county to the Obama campaign, second only to Cook County, Illinois. Is "targeted" too strong? It certainly doesn't seem too strong from here in sunny North Texas.

Google "obama texas vindictive" and you'll get nearly a million hits so obviously the idea of Texas being a target is not new or original. There are plenty of news items describing how this administration treats Texas. Let me save you some trouble. None of the items describe this treatment as fair or equitable. When you connect the dots all lines point to Obama, his statist ideology and his obvious dislike of my home.

Some would say these things are simply a return to 'normal' after the (highly debatable  and supposed) advantages Texas received under the Bush administration. Others argue that these things are deserved punishment for non-compliance rather than political retribution. Admittedly, Texas has always been a non-compliant kind of place. And some, of course, simply applaud and say "Well played, Obama!" To a Texan these stories are the poke, poke, poke in your chest from a school yard bully. Will the bully cross the line? Will the persecuted finally bow up ?

If the latest poke doesn't do it, it should.

The EPA has decided to include Texas in a new rule regulating sulfur dioxide emissions. Texas will be included despite the fact that the EPA's own studies showed that Texas was not contributing to higher SO2 levels in 'downwind' states. This was an 11th hour change, with no notification, no scientific justification and no opportunity to participate in the legally required public review and comment process. In short, the EPA, which is without question under the immediate and close direction of the Obama Administration, has chosen to arbitrarily enforce a puntive and undeserved regulation on Texas.

You may think, "What's the big deal? It's just another regulation." This one, however, is especially pernicious. It directly affects several key aspects of Texas' economic success. The significant details of its impact are described here and here, but the short version is that this new mandate will ...

  • increase electricty rates by $1 billion per year
  • significantly reduce electricity production capacity, hamstringing economic growth
  • cost 14,000 jobs in coal and related industries inside Texas
  • reduce state revenue
  • increase the cost of living
  • further destroy the line between state authority and federal demands

Call me part of the vast right wing conspiracy, but here's how I read it. Texas has demonstrated economic success with policies that are the anti-thesis of the Obama administration's. Obama does not tolerate alternative ideas or having his policies and ideology questioned. He is not going to win Texas regardless of what he does between now and the general election. The only way he can reduce the impact that 'The Texas Way' narrative will have in the 2012 campaign, which could be crucial in swing states and with independent (mainstream media, unthinking) voters, is to take the legs out from under the Texas economy, force it to stumble in time for the election. This under cutting can't be too obvious, there's no sense in creating a public dust-up on something major that might grab headlines, so why not use the minions at the EPA to provide distance and cover? It can be implemented quickly (an 11th hour change), without discussion or coverage (no public review and comment) and few outside of Texas will be aware of it (the technical and scientific issues are too daunting for the typical 30 second story on the CBS Evening News ... as if).

Is my reading far-fetched? Perhaps, but here's another nugget of information regarding this supposedly objective EPA decision. Just as Texas was added to the mandate at the last minute several other states were dropped, including Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, despite all of them being part of the initial reports and plans and despite them collectively contributing much more to the problem. Four blue and two swing. Imagine that. An unexpected turn of events, don't you think?

Am I too cynical, too paranoid? Maybe. Are there any blue states that have received treatment similar to Texas under this administration? If so, that still doesn't justify Obama's treatment of Texas, and it would only prove that Texas has not been singled out, that there is more than one target in his undeclared war. These incidents, and my interpretation of them, prove nothing except for the fact that Texas has and will suffer under this administration. Given this fact, I can see only a few possible explanations for Obama's actions.

  • The suffering is entirely unintentional, an unforeseen consequence of policies that were truly intended to be a benefit. If that is the case, Obama is incompetent.
  • The suffering is entirely intentional and the punishment is deserved. If that is the case, Obama is a ruler, not a leader of free people, enforcing his will through bureaucracy and executive order, ignoring the people, eroding the republic and denying our God-given rights.
  • Some of the punishment is intentional, some is incidental. If that is the case, Obama is simply arrogant and petty. Arrogant because he is unconcerned about the incidental suffering, and petty because he, like every bully, builds himself up by keeping someone else down.

My Texas sensitivities obviously affect my perspective. Putting those aside it's easy to see that Texas is not the only target. Israel, Rush Limbaugh, small business owners, non-union workers, women, the unborn, the insurance industry, doctors, Fox News, Great Britain, the Cambridge police, Republicans, corpsmen, Sarah Palin, clingers, minority students in DC, citizens living on the border, double income families, those who like their health insurance, those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, tax payers, Supreme Court Justices, Las Vegas, white voters in Philadelphia, market proven energy companies, those affected by the individual mandate, medicare and medicaid recipients, those counting on Social Security, children and grand-children ... all of these and more have been in Obama's cross-hairs  The question is, do they know it and are they willing to win this war by voting him out of office.


A Larger Piece

A week ago I attempted to distill my thoughts on Ann Coulter's new book Demonic. I thought it would be easy, I mean, who doesn't love a good smack down of the opposition, especially when the writing is engaging, the thesis presents 'the enemy' in a unique perspective and the arguments are made with such passion and snark? But there is a part of me that shies away from confrontation, that makes me look at it from the opposition's view and think, "Now THAT, is over the top." It was difficult because as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn't recommend it to people who might be trying to undertand conservatism. I felt that most people, the center-right that don't admit to their conservative bent, would not be able to get past the broad generalization of the liberal 'mob' while moderates and liberals would just dismiss it as a bitchy Coulter rant.

That same evening some liberal acquaintances felt that a piece on the huffingandpuffington post was so definitively insightful that they had to share it. It was titled The Republican Spectrum of Ignorance. It was, of course, a poorly written and barely intelligible lefty diatribe on the stupidity of Republicans. I can say 'of course' based on the source alone. There was no allowance for any even potentially 'smart' Repbulicans; all conservatives, according to this author, are stupid. Reading it made me want to shout, "Amen, Sister Ann!" and just like that Demonic seemed more about truth than confrontation.

I never posted what I wrote about Demonic ... it never came together. This evening, however, a headline on Hot Air  caught my eye. It said "Video: Oddly enough, David Brooks not a fan of Ann Coulter." It worked. I just had to watch. It was linked to a Daily Caller article. Here's what David had to say about Ann [caution: personally created transcript - expect some typing lapses/shortcuts].

I'm not a huge fan of Ann Coulter. You can be more conservative than me and be perfectly respectable like Ron Paul and Marco Rubio, but Coulter, she's just a showperson. And I knew her back when she was a very 20-something recent graduate of Cornell, and I will say this for her, she's not faking it, that's who she really is, she was like that when she was twenty-four. But you know, one of the things you have to believe in politics is that people that disagree with you are at least as good as you are, they have at least, maybe not as large a piece of the truth as you do, but they have a large piece of the truth. The world is complicated. Yeah, I mean, the idea is if you're writing books with names like Traitor, whatever they are, and Libel, whatever they are called, you're basically assumming that people who disagree with you are morally inferior, illegitimate, and, you know, I face enough of that from the left. We live in a polarized world and the things that Ann Coulter does has a pernicious effect on that. 

Here's my paraphrase ...

I don't like Ann. She's more conservative than me, but I can't respect her. I will demean her by calling it all a show, but then temper that by saying she's sincere. But I don't want to be too complimentary so let me point out that it's an immature sincerity and she needs to grow up. If you don't believe like me, if , for instance, you don't believe that there is foundational truth in the liberal agenda, then you are too simple to understand the complexity of this world. There is no right and wrong, it's all relative, we can all be right on the same issue to some degree. If you point out where people are wrong, you're being too judgemental. Ann creates a lot of nasty disagreeableness and why can't we all just get along? Love means never having to say you're sorry.

... or some such sappy sentiment.

In the same interview he proclaims he has a soft spot for 'working class' plagarist Vice-President Joe Biden. The soft spot, apparently, resides in his pre-frontal lobe so I should probably cut him some slack. The point he makes about who owns the "larger piece" of truth is quite telling, and it helped me to resolve my difficulties with Coulter's book.

Enlightened, moderate, independent people no doubt embrace Brooks' view. They believe that the other side is "as good" and is operating from some morally defensible 'large piece' of truth. The idea that everyone's viewpoint is valid means that you really never have to take a stand, you really never have to have the grown-up discussion about right and wrong. There is comfort in wishy-washy committment. You are not accountable for an opinion, you avoid confrontation and no matter how things turn out you have the flexibility to 'go with the flow' and avoid all sorts of unpleasantness. The beauty of being a moderate is you can, in essence, always be right because you can support anything and are against everything.

And then there is the quintessential give up of 'it's complicated.' This is used to describe everything from facebook relationships to abortion. We all know it's an excuse. Human interaction, right and wrong, what works and what doesn't ... none of that is complicated except by our own inability to recognize and admit the facts. You want to have a relationship with someone, but you don't want to commit to them. It's not 'complicated', it's selfish. For abortion, do you or do you not want to terminate a life? Your reasons for saying yes may be unusual or unexplainable or unbearable, but it's not complicated. You do not say yes or no to that type of question without knowing, in your heart, what is right and what is wrong about the answer you give.

Brooks also mentions 'the left' and how they consider him morally inferior and illegitmate. My question is then why would he consider them to own 'a large piece' of the truth? Does he not have any confidence in his position? I have never, in any discussion with a liberal/progressive/statist/Democrat, heard the left acknowledge that I own ANY piece of the truth. I'm always the rube, the uninformed, the closed-minded, the heartless, the gullible, the easily-led, the unthinking, the stupid. They consistently treat me like this and yet, for some reason, Brooks thinks I must concede 'a large piece' of truth to them. Why? If the concession is only one way (when do liberals concede to conservative policy?) aren't we, as conservatives, admitting we are wrong? Do we or do we not believe in our stated principles?

A week ago I struggled with what to make of Coulter's book. I felt it would alienate moderates and antagonize liberals. Today, after being called stupid by 'friends', after realizing the inherent relativity of moderate independence and after recognizing that the opposition concedes no part of truth I can unequivocally say, Ann Coulter is doing the right thing. She concedes no piece of the truth to the opposition. She confidently declares there is a right and a wrong without excusing her positions by saying 'it's complicated.' She stakes out a strong position and challenges the mob not with superficial name-calling but with specific and direct attacks against their philosophical and intelluctual heritage. David Brooks believes he is morally superior to Ann Coulter and that is why he does not grant her any piece of the truth. What Brooks does not acknowledge is that truth, by definition, is binary. Statements, positions and actions, as related to principles, are either true or false and therefore reside at the extremes, not in the relative mushy moderate middle.


Smart Alecks

Smart alecks are unjustifiably self-assertive and impudent with little regard for propriety or the experience and wisdom of others. They thrive on the attention that their insubordination generates, and rarely strive to be seen as logical or reasonable or thoughtful. They are unruly, immature, ego driven brats. We have all acted the part.

Americans Against the Tea Party has a facebook page and a cursory review of the comments and postings on their page reveals that there is no shortage of smart alecks in the group. Here's a photo that caught my attention.

The photo received nearly a hundred comments and over 500 'likes.' The vast majority of the comments were about how clever the sign was, like it was the ultimate in witty political commentary, but it seems that their appreciation was not really well thought out - they just liked that it took a shot at people who don't like Obama and Christians. It's the same old "Ha Ha Ha - they're so stupid! We're so smart!" sort of commentary.

A quick comment survey uncovers ...

  • the predictable 'Jesus didn't have birth certificate' joke
  • the crude 'teabagger' name calling
  • the unthinking 'even though I'm an uber-intelligent atheist, I like using Jesus to condemn others' argument
  • the lecturing 'Conservative Christians don't really understand Jesus' theme

Do the IQ and spelling comments even need to be mentioned? So utterly predictable. So superficial. So uninformed and bigoted and closed minded. Like always.

Let's deconstruct this sign:

"Obama is not"
This is quite interesting because it requires the reader to assume that the writer knows what Obama is. That is a bold claim. Obama is a Christian, that doesn't attend church. He is an editor, that doesn't write. He is an orator, that depends on a teleprompter. He is an academic, with no grades. He is a politician that spoke out against war, and a commander that escalates it. Given this inconsistency, it is impossible to say what Obama "is" - he apparently can be anything.

"a brown skinned"
Tea Party people don't care about Obama's skin color and this is just a feeble attempt to make race the issue. Nobody really buys this anymore ... 1968 called and they want their protest sign back.

He was anti-war when it was politically expedient, but things are different now. He's not anti-war. He's not really even anti-killing, though doing it by predator drone is much less messy, politically at least.

A strong, well-researched case can be made that Obama is, in fact, a socialist. What's most telling about this phrase is that Obama supporters openly claim to be progressive and liberal, but don't want the socialist tag applied to him. Why are they so afraid of the label? Because they know it is failed ideology that cannot stand up to the reason they claim to so admire.

"who gives away"
Did I miss the press release where Obama gave something? Last I heard he was vacationing in Martha's Vineyard and Hawaii, playing golf as often as possible and complaining about the difficulties of being President. He seems much more like a 'taker' than a 'giver,' though I could see where he would be on board with a welfare program like California's. Obama cannot give anything to us that he has not already taken from us. He has nothing to give.

"free healthcare"
There is no free healthcare. None. It does not exist, and it certainly can't be given away. There is always a cost and describing it as 'free' only serves to demonstrate the writer's distance from reality.

"You're thinking of Jesus."
If only more people would.
Jesus was Jewish. Does that qualify as brown-skinned these days? If so, someone let the Israeli's know ... they could use some affirmative action-like treatment in the press.
Was Jesus anti-war or pro-peace?
Is willingly sharing your personal excess the same as state mandated socialism?
Finally, Jesus paid a pretty high price for the free healthcare he gave away.