Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Xenophobia and the Tea Party

Though I am not a tea party member, I have sympathies to many of their positions. People have a badly understood interpretation of who these people are & what they really stand for.
Recently a person I respect wrote a piece on Xenophobia? on his Blog Fare and Fowl.  In his piece, he had some interesting musings on some distressing trends in our society.  He stated, "A Large number of the Tea Partiers seen on TV are perceptibly eligible for Social Security and Medicare. My feeling is that they are motivated by the fear that some of their benefits and tax dollars may go to the less fortunate.”
I wrote this in response……


While there will always be kooks & crazies who do & say outrageous things that attract all sorts of outsized attention, this is not something that is unique to the tea party. (I have heard some pretty outrageous & crazy things spoken by more than a few Democrats.)
If we focus on the outliers & extrapolate these behaviors to the majority of members, we miss a terrific opportunity for dialogue & moving our society forward. I believe that what lies at the heart of the liberal view of America, is a commitment to fairness, justice & compassion to the less fortunate. These are noble endeavors & deserve respect regardless of where a person stands on the political spectrum. Conservatives focus on preserving freedom, defending our country, being responsible & respecting traditions & values.


These values, all of them, are very American. Aspiring to these ideals is what makes our country admired. When we place too much emphasis on a subset of values, we end up in a shouting match in which nothing of value gets accomplished.

Here is my view on the tea party:

As Peter Berkowitz recently noted, “Born in response to President Obama's self-declared desire to fundamentally change America, the tea party movement has made its central goals abundantly clear. Activists & the sizeable swath of voters who sympathize with them want to reduce the massively ballooning national debt, cut runaway federal spending, keep taxes in check, reinvigorate the economy, & block the expansion of the state into citizens' lives.

In other words, the tea party movement is inspired above all by a commitment to limited government. & that does distinguish it from the competition.

… the devotion to limited government lies at the heart of the American experiment in liberal democracy. The Federalists who won ratification of the Constitution—most notably Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay—shared with their Anti-Federalist opponents the view that centralized power presented a formidable & abiding threat to the individual liberty that it was government's primary task to secure. They differed over how to deal with the threat.”

If you listen to what is being discussed it does not have anything to do with being xenophobic or ignoring the needs of a race or disrespecting an ethnic group.

Many people who profess liberal causes, often move the argument to characterize the conservative (or tea party member) as being one of four things; A Bigot, A Racist, A Fool or Heartless or some combination.

By changing the conversation to these petty characterizations, they deflect attention away from these more fundamental questions that might actually mean something & make a difference.

When everything is said & done, it is the nature of the true conservative to ask this question”

“At what cost?”

Here, we do not mean simply how government will pay for something. No, the question is more profound. What are the total costs to implement the proposed solution, both monetary & social.

Often conservatives get these labels because they do not agree that a government program or response is needed to a problem. The question that many thoughtful conservatives reflect upon is; what is the most efficient, cost effective way to address our common concerns?

We operate with a faith that when each of us has maximum freedom to exercise our talents while respecting the rights of our fellow men & women, we have a kind of crucible in which the best ideas & methods ultimately triumph & society as a whole is best served.

This does not mean that there is no pain or suffering along the way. (When the calculator triumphed over the slide rule, it was damn painful to the people of the Pickett slide rule company.) So, in a society where people are free to choose, those who make bad decisions suffer. However, society as a whole wins.

Again, as Mr. Berkowitz states, “To be sure, the tea party sports its share of clowns, kooks & creeps. & some of its favored candidates & loudest voices have made embarrassing statements & embraced reckless policies.”

To be clear, I am committed to LIMITED government not NO government. Most rational tea party members do not seek to repeal social security or Medicare. We do however, first seek market place solutions for the challenges we have.

Leadership & responsibility often mean that we slow down & consider how to best address a common issue. Simply because someone does not propose a government solution or regulation, does not mean that they agree that the problem is illegitimate. This inaction should not be interpreted as “not caring”. It simply means that the person feels that government may not be the best vehicle to solve the problem.

We have major challenges. Our economy is whacked. Our state & federal governments are spending in a manner that accelerates our government debt. Our debt currently stands at an unprecedented level & without a significant change in our economy or government spending; we will soon be at a point where all of our tax revenue goes to servicing debt. At that point, there will be no money for any programs for the needy, no money for health care, no money for seniors, no money for education, no money for defense. Only servicing the debt. As cruel as ignoring the needs of our less fortunate members of our society is, it would be more cruel to operate in such a manner that we saddle our children with a debt that stifles their will & saps our country of the energy we need to survive & thrive.

We must change direction. This is what I am committed to. I hope you will consider my invitation to join me in preserving freedom & operating with responsibility. Let’s end the acrimony & shrill name-calling. Let’s join in a meaningful dialogue where issues can be addressed in a vigorous but consequential debate.

Do not do this for you & me but as our way of paving the road for future generations.

Let Freedom Ring

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Surprise, Washington Post a Liberal Newspaper?

Today's Washington Post, once again, has revealed their biases in their news reporting.

In a piece by Lori Montgomery, the headline reads "Income gap hangs over tax debate.  Bush-era cuts widened divide" Ms Montgomery and the editors of the Post, once again reveal why they are unfair and unbalanced in their reporting.

If this were an opinion article, I would have understood.  However, this piece is represented as "news" in the Economy and Business section.

In the piece, Ms. Montgomery goes to extraordinary lengths to lay out the Democrat's argument about the unfair distribution of wealth that has occurred over the last 50 years and then link it to income tax rates, complete with pretty graphs to make the point.

What gets short shrift in this process is fairness in presenting a different point of view and the consequences of  having those with higher incomes shoulder an unprecedented share of the tax revenue load.  Further, absolutely nothing is said about government spending.

Below is my response posted in the comments section of the article.


Dear Editors and Ms. Montgomery,

This is exactly the kind of "news" story that demonstrates the bias of this newspaper. 
Both the headline and the charts present the "story" in a way that leads readers to two conclusions; 1) Income disparity is rising 2) Increasing tax rates is the solution.

Now I know, because I actually read the article, that in the 20th paragraph, you point out that maybe, there might be, perhaps some downside to the suggestion that this suggested policy might not be a good thing.  But, you get right back at it by the end of the piece by giving Levin the final word in the piece.

If you had truly wanted this to be a balanced and fair piece of reporting, you could have done 3 things; 1) you would have brought up the counter arguments in the piece earlier, 2) You would have given more ink to the counter arguments (really 6 out of 26 paragraphs is the best you can do?) and finally 3) A nice graph showing the source of federal income tax revenue by income would have been a nice offset to the 1st graph showing income tax rates vs income.

One last note, in this discussion, one thing that continuously gets overlooked is the spending side of the equation.  But that is a subject perhaps for another day, though (here again, your biases are showing) I may have to wait for a long time on that one.

This is exactly the kind of piece that earns the Washington Post the liberal label it deserves because it highlights a topic that plays to a liberal point of view, presents the argument in a one sided way and then does not talk about those issues (like spending and freedom) that lie at the heart of conservative values.

You can do better.

Let Freedom Ring

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Back in the 2008 election, many Americans became convinced that our economy had become a victim of extreme greed and selfish motives.  Going back a decade and pointing to the excesses of a few companies such as Enron, Worldcom and then leading up to Lehman Brothers and AIG, we were told that these debacles could be "tamed" simply by introducing regulation and oversight.

There is an old saying, "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it".  And get it we are!

Regulation is running rampant in our government these days.  In many circumstances we are beginning to see that even regulation begun in earnest by honorable people can have unintended consequences.

Genies often fulfill wishes in unexpected ways and while the person is granted their wish, they often come to regret it.

Consider Airline Regulations

According to a story in USAToday; "For travel consumers, the government's increased regulatory focus on the airline business can cut two ways. New regulations or laws often effectively address specific complaints but can have unintended consequences, too.


The tarmac delay rule is an example.

Since it was implemented, the chances that anyone will be kept onboard a plane for more than three hours during a ground delay — always statistically extremely low — is now almost nil. The threat of a $27,500-per-passenger fine against any airline that allows it to happen all but ensures that it won't happen.

In July, there were just three instances of domestic flights stuck on the ground for more than three hours with passengers aboard, according to airline data reported to the DOT. But there was a 20% increase in the flight cancellation rate as airlines chose to abort flights rather than risk big fines for excessive ground delays. (The actual number of flight cancellations in July was smaller than in July 2009. But there was unusually good flying weather this July in New York, the biggest source of delays in the nation.)

So the question is, which is better for most travelers: being delayed, uncomfortably so, for more than three hours but eventually reaching the destination, or having the flight canceled and scrambling to find an available seat on another flight at a time when planes are 80% full on average?"

Meanwhile, opponents still warn that the three-hour tarmac rule will lead to a lot more travelers having their flights canceled than ever were inconvenienced by lengthy ground delays.

Whether the rule change actually leads to that probably won't be known until next winter or spring, when bad weather could play havoc with airline schedules

Time to put the Genie back in the bottle?

For many, the message of the tea-party is simply one about cutting spending and taxes.  What I read and hear from those who are passionate proponents of this philosophy is more robust than simply about cutting taxes.  It is about Freedom and a faith that the fewer decisions are made by government appointed bureaucrats and the more individuals are empowered to make choices, better solutions ultimately reveal themselves.

This airline tarmac rule is but one example of what happens when we turn to big government to address issues.  It is time to put this drive to regulate everything on-hold and re-consider the bureaucratic mess we have already put in place.

Let Freedom Ring!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why I Owe it to my Children to Choose Patrick Murray over Jim Moran this November

Am I willing to fight for my children with the same level of commitment that my Father fought for me?

James F Snowden, Jr., my father, was a World War II veteran who saw action in the Pacific and later served during the Korean conflict. Visits to the World War II memorial next to the Washington monument are always an emotional moment for me. I recall the sacrifice that so many men of that generation made in serving our country so that people like me could grow up in a better world than they did. I am inspired by the commitment of these men and women.

Today, I wonder if we are keeping with the spirit of this “greatest generation” that preceded us. I often think about what am I willing to do to insure that my children and their children grow up in world of even greater opportunity than I have had. Can we give them the freedom of opportunity that leads to great accomplishment and prosperity?

Not if we continue down the road we are currently headed.

According to the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen our federal government spending and debt has become the greatest threat to our security and prosperity that our country has seen in a generation. Currently we owe over $13 trillion dollars, much of it to countries that are less than enthusiastic to our values such as China.

Virginia 8th District Congressman Jim Moran has supported our government increasing spending at all levels. This spending has led to an annual deficit that exceeds $1.6 Trillion dollars. I fear that the consequences of unbridled spending and over-regulation will lead to higher taxes and obstacles to growing a healthy economy.

But more than this, I fear the punishing obligations what we are saddling our children with. If left unchecked, our government will owe so much that just servicing the debt could soak up all federal revenue within 10 years. That would mean no money for health care, no money for social security, no money for defense, no money for anything. Potentially, every penny that our children would provide in US taxes would simply be shipped overseas to those who hold the bonds. This is unsustainable and certainly out of step with the tradition of self-sacrifice that people like my father demonstrated to me growing up.

Congressman Jim Moran and his fellow Democrats have grown out of control and out of touch with these dangers. What’s more, he remains unrepentant. I saw him boast, at a recent debate in Arlington, that he was proud of the earmarks he has delivered to this area. He went on to suggest that this is the very reason we should re-elect him.

Comments such as these, demonstrates that Jim Moran is more concerned about getting re-elected than in genuine character and leadership. I hear him boast about his pet concerns in animal rights, yet I call into question his commitment to our children when he shows such reckless disregard for the impact of his spending decisions. I love animals, dogs especially, but as much as I love these animals, I love my children and grandchildren more. I would walk barefoot across a minefield of broken glass to save a child of mine. I believe many of you would too.

With the out of control government spending and increases to our collective debt, we have before us a kind of danger that may be more perilous than walking across that minefield of broken glass.

What we need here is a leader, a person of true character and integrity.
Who we need is Patrick Murray!

Though not a lifelong politician, he has invested a lifetime in serving his country. A U.S. Army veteran, he has world experience and knowledge both as a military attaché throughout Eastern Europe and as the U.S. Military representative to the U.N. Security Council. Colonel Murray served during the “surge” in Iraq. He understands what it takes to make our world a safer place. His knowledge of the challenges we face in Europe and Middle East would make him instantly respected within the walls of Congress. This background along with the high ethical standards he would bring to the office would place a higher emphasis on what keeps us, as a nation, safe than what earmarks will get him re-elected.

I have heard Colonel Murray say, “Our free enterprise system built this great nation. The road to job creation and economic recovery runs through the private sector, not the government. Any family who lives and operates within their own family budget knows that excessive borrowing, spending beyond one’s means and higher taxes do not lead to prosperity. Thus American political and economic success is built around empowering the individual, not the government.”

Further, he knows that we do not have a tax revenue problem; we have a government spending problem and has pledged to reduce the spending of our federal government back to 2008 levels. By reigning in government spending and the choke hold of over-regulation, Patrick Murray will help to unleash that greatest of job creating engines, private American enterprise.

As a man who has spent most of his career protecting lives, Patrick Murray is a leader who needed to anticipate what was required and show the way to his followers through demonstrations of character and leadership of thought.

We face tough times today. Unless we have the right kind of leadership now, we may face even tougher challenges in the future.

This will take true leadership. The problems that confront us today, as a nation, are not trivial. The answers to those problems lie not with a government one-size fits all solution but in genuine leadership of character so that we can honor the traditions of our parents generation and insure the opportunity for prosperity that our children deserve.

Let Freedom Ring.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ethics, Ethics, Ethics

Today marks the official starts of the Fall TV season.  I am reading in the newspaper about shows like “No Ordinary Family, about ordinary people who suddenly have super-powers, then there is “Lonestar” about a con-man living in two parts of Texas with two different women, Finally over on HBO comes “Boardwalk” a show of crime and corruption during the early days of prohibition in Atlantic City.

8th District Congressman, Jim Moran, caught in story that feels like it belongs in the movies not in real life! 

Have you ever read a story in the newspaper that as you were reading it you thought to yourself is this for real?  Some stories seem so fantastic that you wonder, “Am I still reading the entertainment section?”  These stories read like the synopsis of some Hollywood movie that has just came out rather than the columns of a legitimate newspaper.

This weekend I was not sure if I was reading the latest synopsis of Michael Douglas in the upcoming movie “Wall Street; Money Never Sleeps” or a true news article.  There before me were all the elements of a great movie:

Plot, Character, and twists and turns as the headline screamed “Ex-lobbyist to plead in earmarks probe”.  This latest tale of Washington Ethics that began bad has now taken a turn for the worse.  On August 20th, Paul Magliocchetti pleaded not guilty to an 11-count felony indictment. This weekend it was reported that this week he will change his plea from not-guilty to guilty in return for his cooperation in an ethics probe that could be far-reaching.  He is charged with paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions to scores of campaigns dating back to 2003 to enrich himself and increase his firm's influence with public officials.

And contribute Magliocchetti did: A Center for Responsive Politics analysis indicates that he and his spouses together donated more than $792,000 to federal-level candidates and political committees since the 1990 election cycle.  The majority of that total -- $475,000 -- came recently, during the 2004, 2006 and 2008 election cycles, the Center's analysis finds.  Democrats on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, where Magliocchetti once worked as a staffer, became favored recipients of donations by lobbyists in Magliocchetti’s firm, PMA Group Inc.

Among the top recipients of Magliocchetti cash:
In 2007 and 2008 alone, three top Democrats on the House defense subcommittee directed $137 million to defense contractors who were paying Magliocchetti’s PMA Group to get them government business.  The three were subcommittee chairman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, James Moran of Virginia, and Visclosky.

The indictment says Magliocchetti directed his firm’s lobbyists to write donation checks from their personal accounts to specific candidates and reimbursed their donations either through personal checks or the company’s coffers.

Recently in a June report by two nonpartisan organizations generally critical of earmarks, Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) and the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), it was reported that Congressman Jim Moran of Northern Virginia was the House leader in campaign contributions received from earmark recipients.  The report showed Democrat Jim Moran got $89,700.

According to virginiawatchdog.org, "Moran received more than $80,000 from executives, political action committees and lobbyists of companies to whom he’s directed earmarks. In total, Moran has received $82,700 total from these committees and individuals, according to Federal Election Commission reports. MobilVox, Inc. tops the list of donors, contributing $8,300 to Moran and receiving a $2 million earmark.


(Further) Moran requested earmarks for donors totaling more than $50 million. The largest earmark requests were $3 million each, requested for EM Solutions, Inc., Argon ST and DDL Omni Engineering. All of the earmarks given to donors of Moran were defense appropriations. Finally, it’s true that more than 20 percent of Moran’s $396,952 in donations last year came from these committees and individuals."


My Dad use to always say, “If you want to truly know the heart of a man, follow the money”.  So, here we have Jim Moran receiving significant money from soon to be guilty felons and companies he has delivered earmarks for.  On the other hand, his opponent, Patrick Murray, has been running a “grass roots” campaign that even with some big name hosts, such as John McCain and George Allen showing up to host fund raisers, still is dwarfed by the war chest of Jim Moran.  It is tough to compete against someone who is the recipient of an allegedly illegal lobbying machine as Jim Moran has been.  While Jim Moran’s has avoided congressional ethics violations…. so far…. One has to wonder what revelations will result in this change.  Regardless, another saying of my dad is “Where there’s smoke there is fire.”

So, I again pose the question, Who do you want working for you?  A man who receives campaign money from soon to be guilty felons and recipients of earmarks or one who is being funded by people like you and me?  Which of these two candidates is more likely to act on the needs of the nation and will of the people? and which is more likely to be beholden to the greedy companies receiving our taxpayer money?

Join me in ending this run of unethical behavior from an unrepentant Jim Moran and let’s send a man of honor and a decorated veteran of the Iraqi Freedom campaign to congress instead.

Retire Jim Moran
Elect Patrick Murray

Let Freedom Ring

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This Just About Sums it Up - Dilbert on Social Media

Now and again I have to take a time out to share something that strikes me completely funny.

Scott Adams Dilbert deliciously skewers the whole SocMe phenomena.

Dilbert.com

Dilbert.com

What is the funniest/stupidest thing you have heard associated with Twitter/Facebook, etc?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Open Letter to Glenn Beck

Glenn,

Let me begin by saying thank you for creating and staging your impressive “Restoring Honor” event yesterday in Washington DC.  Dedicating a day to Faith, Hope and Charity along with honoring the sacrifices of our men and women in the military who sacrifice so much on our behalf.

A few personal thoughts on the event itself.  Overall, I found the event uplifting and at times inspirational.  I believe your intentions were honorable.

My take on what I think the event was about and what I took away:

The purpose of the event was…..
  1. To honor the sacrifice of our troops
    1. I have read, according to their website, over $5 million dollars was raised for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.  This is a worthy charity that supports the children of fallen troops.  Fantastic!
  2. To point out that we are missing honorable behavior and people in our country today. 
    1. Too many people operate out of corrupt principles at all levels of leadership both within and outside of government
    2. We are notably missing examples of true heroes, especially in the private sector.  (not that they do not exist, but they go unrecognized)
  3. To restore honor to our country through the assembled common principle of faith in a higher power
    1. While at times it was too heavily weighted on an evangelical Christian message, I believe that your point was that having a faith in God, whether you are Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, or Hindu, is a bedrock of our society.  Without faith in God, our country cannot survive as a free society
    2. At the closing, the black robe brigade with over 240 men and women of many faiths helped make that point.
  4. To honor people who are examples of faith, hope and charity and to hold them up as examples to follow.
    1. All three of your recipients of the “badges of merit” you offered were private citizens who demonstrated through their past examples, behavior worthy of emulation.
All in all, it was an amazing event.

Was it a home run?  Perhaps not, as at times, it seemed the execution was a little off and at times, it became too much about you and not enough about the causes you were trying to espouse.  (I do not believe the focus on yourself was your intention as at times you looked a bit embarrassed at what some people said from the stage in their attempt to thank you for your leadership on this event). In addition, the crowd was not very diverse.  It was mostly white, older and married.  It would have been nice to have seen a more diverse crowd as the message was certainly applicable to anyone who claims themselves members of the human race regardless of their ethnicity, status or background. 

Finally, a couple of comments about media crowd estimates. I have no idea how many people actually attended the event, however I will say it was MASSIVE, certainly more than I had ever seen at any event there in the mall. It was packed! My son and I arrived at the Metro at 7AM and the lines to get on the metro were already backed up the escalators into the upper wait area. A similar experience going home (and that was after we waited on the mall by the Lincoln memorial for at least an hour after the event was over.).  Was it in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, I can not say.  To me, it felt like I was there with 500,000 of my "closest friends".  Whatever the number it was, it was HUGE!

Still, it was a noble effort and I am proud to live in a country where a private citizen can use his personal wealth and power to stage such an event.  I believe that this would be in line with the principles of economist Milton Friedman, who was a strong advocate for the creation of private wealth and ownership as the best means to advance our society and to act as a counter-balance to the drift of government toward concentration of power and ultimately corruption.

Let Freedom Ring

Sunday, August 22, 2010

If the US Were a Corporation, It Would Be Filling for Bankruptcy–Frank Wolf

"I have never been more concerned for our country,…If we were a business, we would be filing for bankruptcy." according to Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA10) at recent impromptu meeting at the Amphoria Diner in Herndon, VA.
For about five minutes, Wolf painted a dire picture of a U.S. whose debts are being continuously purchased by foreign powers while the current administration spends money foolishly.
After his short speech, Wolf was peppered with questions by tea party members wanting to know what he and the Republican Party were going to do about the future of the country, which many referred to as a "sinking ship."
"The Republican Party should take on the responsibility of establishing teams of lawyers and a hotline that people can access if they witness any impropriety at the polls," he said. "These lawyers should be prepared to file immediate injunctions to keep voter fraud at bay. Anyone witnessing fraud should report it through this process."
Source: Fairfax Times
Let Freedom Ring

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Congressman Jim Moran: Look for the Union Label

This past Tuesday, Virginia Congressman Jim Moran (D) voted for the bill providing $26.1 billion to cash-strapped state governments, and preventing roughly 161,000 teachers and 158,000 public works employees from being laid off.

Many of the jobs protected under this bill belong to teacher unions or the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, both key parts of the Democrats' political base.  It is these very unions that are handcuffing the states and municipalities with contracts that lock in spending that is leading to the very state and municipal budget deficits that are at the heart of state and local woes.

States like Virginia and Maryland are under budget pressure in an unprecedented way.  Hopefully states like California and New York do not go bankrupt. If any of them do, this will send a very direct message to our representatives and senators. We cannot afford all the perks for the mountain of locked in pensions and other perks negotiated by public service and teacher’s unions. We cannot continue to spend money we do not have.  This ultimately leads to a very bad place.  We either increase taxes over and over because our politicians cannot live on a budget or we pay for it with inflation which is a cruel tax that hits the elderly hardest.

As a matter of fact since the beginning of this recession the politicians have given up NOTHING. Wake up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What Jim Moran has supported with this vote is known as an "indirect bribe." Instead of the Democrats paying voters directly for their vote, they arrange for taxpayers to pay the bribe.  This is taken right out of the Murtha playbook.  As long as we have voters in this community who are willing to take this “bribe” and keep voting for Democrats, like Jim Moran, this problem will continue. Worse, those who ignore the repercussions of this out of control spending perpetuate a mentality where we protect certain groups with money that comes from you and me, not to protect and serve children and the needy, but to retain voter loyalty and power.  If this continues, we are doomed!

Budgets are serious business, but it's been a long time since anyone has been serious about the budget. For example, in New Jersy this year, gross mismanagement and accumulated fictions have left state taxpayers a $10.7 billion gap on a total state budget of $29.3 billion.

Consider the rationale of the Liberal intelligentsia:

The children will be the ones to suffer from your education cuts. "The real question is, who's for the kids, and who's for their raises? This isn't about the kids. Let's dispense with that portion of the argument. Don't let them tell you that ever again while they are reaching into your pockets."
Why not let the Bush tax cuts die for the wealthy in order to pay for this? "This group of citizens and small businesses already pay over 40% of the income tax. In addition, we've got a situation where that tax applies to small businesses. Why put the boot of government on the back of the neck of small business while we should want them to try to grow jobs by simplifying how they do business and allow them more revenue with which to offer jobs."  Is demanding that businesses who pay a vendor over $600 a year file a 1099 making it easier for them to business?  How can acts like these lead to innovation and prosperity?

Budget cuts are unfair. This is best summed up with a quote from New Jersey Governor Christie, "The special interests have already begun to scream their favorite word—which, coincidentally, is my 9-year-old son's favorite word when we are making him do something he knows is right but does not want to do—'unfair.' . . . One New Jersey state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life, and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits—a total of $3.8 million on a $120,000 investment. Is that fair?"

Simply sending federal dollars to the states does not always lead to saving teachers jobs.  For example, if NJ didn't have over 600 school districts to educate 1.3 million children while Florida, for example, educates twice as many in under 70 districts, we might have a chance.  So much of this package that was just voted on will likely go to perpetuate inefficient systems simply to maintain dependency on the Federal government and voter loyalty.

Can anyone name a profitable business in which the unions are heavily involved? Hmmm... education, health care, airlines, auto's... maybe construction? Any others?

The UNIONS have RUINED countless public school student's lives in America. Inner city schools are dangerous places that produce "graduates" that are pushed out into the world as functional illiterates. Parroting the UNION talking points from the bloated schools teacher costs that have produced some of the indisputably WORST public schools in the world, now that takes either cribbing Soros talking points or an "A" in stupidity.
 
Since 1960, the per-pupil cost of US public schooling has risen by 3½ times in real-dollar terms. Yet the percentage of students graduating from high school has slipped since 1970, and the performance of 17-year-olds in math, science and reading has remained unchanged.

It is time we rethink this entire automatic re-election process.  We need new blood in Congress.  People who are willing to consider the long term consequences of our government actions.  One who is not himself beholden to a small group of businesses who profit from government largesse or beholden to out of control public service unions.

It is time to Retire Jim Moran!

Let Freedom Ring

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Tale of Two Faces – Congressman Jim Moran and An Afghan Woman


Congressman Jim Moran, the Cover of Time Magazine and What is Worth Fighting For
Anyone who has seen the recent week’s cover of Time magazine realizes that the Taliban in Afghanistan is a brutal and misogynistic group of thugs that if allowed to reclaim Afghanistan would set it back on a pathway to a patriarchal society that sees women as object to be controlled and “shackled” with barbaric rules and lack of dignity.
You can find a summary of the article on the following link.  It is a must read.1101100809_400
Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban
The article begins:
The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight, demanding that Aisha, 18, be punished for running away from her husband's house. Her in-laws treated her like a slave, Aisha pleaded. They beat her. If she hadn't run away, she would have died. Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved. Aisha's brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose.
This didn't happen 10 years ago, when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. It happened last year. Now hidden in a secret women's shelter in Kabul, Aisha listens obsessively to the news. Talk that the Afghan government is considering some kind of political accommodation with the Taliban frightens her. "They are the people that did this to me," she says, touching her damaged face. "How can we reconcile with them?"
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2007238,00.html#ixzz0w6m39ThJ
I plead with you to read this entire article, get hold of a copy of the magazine as this article makes clear, abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban is sentencing thousands upon thousands of woman and other innocents to an unprecedented level of brutality and oppression.
Congressman Moran Declares: The Mission in Afghanistan has been Achieved” What?
Moran[1]Yet my congressman, Jim Moran, of the 8th District in Virginia is having second thoughts about our involvement there.  In press release dated July 27, 2010, the Congressman had this to say… “I plan to oppose this supplemental appropriations bill when it comes to the floor later today. There exists no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The mission we set out to accomplish following the attacks on September 11th – the rooting out of al Qaeda in Afghanistan – has largely been achieved, thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of American military and civilian personnel.”
This statement makes about as much sense as the “Mission Accomplished” banner behind President Bush did back in 2003.  Further….
Congressman James P. Moran (VA-8), member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, voted against the Afghan War Supplemental bill on July 27th.
 
“Instead of increasing our troop presence, we should be limiting our mission in Afghanistan,” said Moran in a
statement released earlier this week.

“There exists no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The mission we set out to accomplish following the attacks on September 11th – the rooting out of al Qaeda in Afghanistan – has largely been achieved, thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of American military and civilian personnel,” said Moran.
(Source: Washington Examiner)
To all of this I say to Jim Moran.  Really?  Mr. Congressman, do you really believe that ‘the rooting out of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan – has largely been achieved?
Here is what I would like you to do, please tell that to the woman who was on the recent cover of Time and is now in the US undergoing reconstructive surgery.  Tell that to the hundreds of women who have been recently disfigured by this brutal bunch of misogynistic thugs who want to reclaim this country we are trying to defend.  Tell this to the soldiers who are sacrificing themselves to defend these women and our nation’s interest. 
On many occasions Congressman, you have touted your credentials as a champion of women’s causes.  How can you reconcile your position of abandoning Afghanistan and support of women’s causes.  This kind of action on your part suggests that you lack the courage of your convictions and calls into question how deep your support of women’s causes truly is.
For me, this is another example of poor judgment.  My Dad use to tell me that ‘a man who uses poor judgment once and learns from his mistake is a wise man, but a man who uses poor judgment over and over, may in fact be a fool’. 
Stands like this one and the manner in which you accept your campaign contributions and loans all suggest a pattern of poor judgment.  Foolishness?  I will let the reader decide.
Let Freedom Ring.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Is My Phone Call To You Rude?

Something strange is going on.  My family has always called me the gadget guy.  Even my brother calls me ‘Inspector’ Gadget’.  So my love affair with all that is tech almost knows no bounds.  Still, sometimes changes occur that even I don’t fully understand and appreciate.

Are We Hanging Up on Each Other?telepone_hang-up

I remember a time when I was growing up where we had one telephone line and two phones, one in the kitchen and one in my parent’s bedroom.  The one in the kitchen had a a handset with a coiled connector that seemed like could stretch from the kitchen to the Safeway up the road.  My mom could carry on a conversation, cook dinner, wash dishes, clean the house and change my sister’s diapers all from that ‘kitchen’ phone.  Back then, when the phone rang, you sprinted to the phone.  There were no answering machines and you never knew, was that your best friend calling you to find out if you could go shoot some hoops or your Uncle Bill calling with news about your grandparent’s health. 
I would be on the phone with my buddies talking about ‘did you see that move that Jerry West made on Bill Russell?’ my Dad would inevitably yell from the den, “Get off the phone, someone important might be trying to call us”. 

Phone calls were important.  It was how you communicated.

I have been noticing a trend for several years now.  It began with the answering machine and accelerated with call waiting.  Fewer and fewer phone calls get answered.  Of greater interest, relatively few people call us on the ‘home line’.  More and more it is reserved for when we gather at the table to host a call on speakerphone with our relatives.  Almost all of the calls I make to my friends is on my mobile phone. 
I remember a time when mobile minutes were so expensive, I only gave out my home phone number.  Now, I have so many minutes accumulated and an unlimited text plan, I only give out my mobile number and often include, “you are welcome to text me”.  I must say that I still get a few puzzled looks from my age peers on that one, but folks I meet who are my children’s age seem to welcome it.

Texting generation doesn't share boomers' taste for talk
Today, I was reading an article published in the Washington Post entitled ‘For millennials, love is never asking them to call you back’ by Ian Shapira.

Check it out.  In this article, Shapira writes that a whole generation is growing up around the notion that phone calls are not simply inconvenient, they are a rude interruption of your day. 

I can relate to this.  When I am working on something, an article, spreadsheet, a presentation, the last thing I want to hear is the phone ring.  There is much debate within my company about the use of instant messenger.  Some love it, some hate it.  I hear from my boomer peers all the time, “I don’t want to be bothered with the instant messenger, if I want to talk with someone, I can just pick up the phone”.  The problem is way too often they are busy or away from their phones or on another call, so your call to them goes to voice mail.  So you leave a message hoping they call you back and at a time when you are not in the middle of doing something else.

So, if I need to talk with them, I end up using IM to see if they are available to talk, then exchange a brief dialogue to nail down a mutually convenient time if now is not.  Personally, almost consider it rude if people don’t use IM.  I am then forced to make a call with the risks associated with that or send them a formal calendar invite from email.

Texting just seems so much simpler.  You text, get across the essentials, then get back to what your were doing.  If a phone call is warranted, you check availability, then call.  Finally with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you can communicate much in the way of family updates in a much more robust fashion with photos and even video to share the experience.  People can view them at their convenience and to the degree that they want. 

I get it.  It is a strange new world we are living in (and getting stranger every day) for us boomers.  At times I feel like I have emigrated to a new land and I am calling back to my friends who are stuck back in the old worlds and simply refuse to make the journey.  Unfortunately, there will be fewer and fewer left behind so it is either make the journey to join the millennials on their home turf, or be stuck in a world where fewer and fewer people are willing to actually talk with you.

So, are my phone calls to you rude?  You tell me.

Let Freedom Ring (or in this case, make whatever sound texting does on your mobile device :-)

Friday, August 6, 2010

What is Your Definition of Marriage?

This is possibly my last posting on subject of same-sex Marriage as I am tired of defending something that many in society no longer feel is worth defending.  Still, my ole pal Eugene Robinson in today’s Washington Post argued that the decision by the California Judge was a good one.

What caught my attention today was the following comment to his article.

BlueTwo1 wrote:

The authoritarian, right-wing argument against gay marriage boils down to: "My church says it is a sin. So it should be illegal." Meanwhile, the most authoritarian of religions, Roman Catholicism, is struggling to justify the sinful behavior of its infallible hierarchy with respect to pedophile priests. Protecting the church's reputation was more important than protecting children. So, the church's moral standing regarding homosexuality is gone with the whirlwind. Separation of church and state, a very wise decision by the Founding Fathers, means our elected leaders do not consult with clergy before making law. This displeases some people who now want to strip various provisions out of the Constitution, which they otherwise regard as tantamount to Holy Scripture.

It is incredible that nearly every attack on someone who holds for a more traditional view of marriage always goes for the jugular, calling or insinuating bigotry or religious intolerance.

Below is my response:

@BlueTwo1:  Not all of us my friend.  My argument rests upon nearly a century of progress in which the focus and intent of marriage and family law has been to protect and encourage families, their creation, protection and nurturing.  It has not been about "rights" of individuals.

Here is my problem.  If we are re-defining marriage, upon WHAT do we base the new definition?  Can't you see that ANY definition now becomes discriminatory to some group.  Based on the interpretation of this Judge, at any point now, any group that feels it's civil rights are being violated, can sue to extend marriage rights to them.  I mean ANYONE.

So, I go back to my original question.  Upon what do we justify THIS new definition of marriage?  Why THAT definition?  If TWO, why TWO?  If non-sibling, Why?

What is the justification for that kind of discrimination.  Please don't give me the argument, 'well polygamists are just another form of perpetuating male authority' crap.  Attitudes about polygamists today are similar to the attitudes associated with gays 30 years ago.   (yeah, yeah don't lecture me about how gay men are different because they don't perpetuate male domination, patriarchal societies) I mean that 30 plus years ago, most people would have considered same-sex marriage unthinkable, now look where we are.

So, I keep coming back to this question.  Upon what do you now form the basis of your new definition of marriage?  I say that the philosophical underpinnings of this new interpretation makes polygamy and other forms of relationships inevitable.

At that point, marriage becomes meaningless and whatever remaining value and respect for this institution that we have will be gone.

My take, let's end marriage.  It no longer contributes any value to the growth and protection of our society.  If we want civil partnership rights defined, I am all for civil partnership agreements.  But marriage is now the proverbial square peg in a round hole.  It has now been convoluted and twisted in order to provide and extend rights in ways that is far from its original intentions.

DON'T GET ME WRONG HERE!  I a'int sayin I think two women who love each other should not be extended the equal protection of the law, I'm just saying, by stretching the 'marriage' blanket to these groups, it inevitably will lead to further stretching that will fray the fabric and ultimately weaken and destroy that blanket's ability to provide protection.

 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is it Time We Ended Marriage?

I am tired of the culture wars.  I surrender.  I no longer wish to defend marriage.  Perhaps the time has come to end our marriage to marriage.  Today we need a divorce from our concept of how we define relationships in the 21st century.

Today’s ruling by a single California Judge that overturns the will of a majority of Californians has led me to a cataclysmic conclusion.  Marriage may have outlived its usefulness.  We live in a society that has evolved in the last 40 years from one in which the divorce rate went from in the 20% range to nearly 50%.  Apparently, no one takes ‘till death do us part’ too seriously anymore.

The concept of marriage grew out of our traditions. 

Under English common law, and in all American colonies and states until the middle of the 19th century, married women had no legal standing. They could not own property, sign contracts, or legally control any wages they might earn. Nearly all marriage ceremonies were performed in the church and were defined by these institutions.

In 1848, New York became the first state to pass a Married Woman's Property Act, guaranteeing the right of married women to own property.  By 1900 all states had legislation granting women some control over their property and earnings.  Thus began a relatively slow process where the state began to intervene in a centuries old institution that till then had been primarily under the jurisdiction of religious institutions.  This led to the wholesale shift from marriage as a religiously based institution to a civil contract.

Over the years, the states have both built up and codified the legal understanding of a relationship and more recently has torn down the same “rules” of a relationship.  Most of the concepts for marriage and family law in the early part of the twentieth century were an attempt to protect families in general and women in particular, clearly defining rights to women.

In 1969 California adopted the nation’s first “no fault” divorce law, allowing divorce by mutual consent.  This opened the door to a whole other view of what a “marriage” should be.

With current trends away from religious institutions having a major impact on our moral viewpoint and the shift in our attitudes of sex; away from procreation and towards pleasure, society has become more tolerant of non-traditional forms of sexual partnerships.  What would have been represented as an “abomination” by my father has yielded to a “live and let live” mantra by our current generation.

US Data published in 2007 states that the average duration of 1st marriages that end in divorce is approximately 8 years.  According to The State of Our Unions 2005, a report issued by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, only 63% of American children grow up with both biological parents -- the lowest figure in the Western world.  As of 2003, 43.7% of custodial mothers and 56.2% of custodial fathers were either separated or divorced.

Nearly 40 percent of babies born in the United States in 2007 were delivered by unwed mothers, according to data released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics. The 1.7 million out-of-wedlock births, of 4.3 million total births, marked a more than 25 percent jump from five years before.

Apparently, an increasing number of men and women no longer hold marriage as a respected or necessary event.

The judges ruling today fundamentally makes it clear that marriage can no longer be defined by the people.  This is because any such definition yields a discriminatory environment that encroaches on the rights of some group of people.  Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that no definition of marriage can be constructed by the people that is non-discriminatory.  Since this is the case, I suggest that we end the institution of marriage as a state sanctioned vehicle that codifies rights and responsibilities between people.  Instead, we should develop a set of civil contracts for all that codifies and defines those rights and responsibilities, a 'civil partnership agreement' perhaps.

If two (or more people) wish to celebrate this with a “marriage” ceremony, then I would leave that up to whatever institution would provide the ceremony and the “marriage” would then be recognized by followers of that institution’s authority but would have no legal standing with regards to the state.  By the same token, if two people want to get 'married' by the traditions of their institution, but not define their relationship legally, they would be free to do so.  At any rate these would be two seperate and distinct acts.

This, then would free us, as a society from the pretense that ‘marriage’ is somehow to be sanctioned by the law.  Instead, we would have our legal rights and responsibilities defined by civil contract.  If we were to adopt such a measure, I could care less whether the people involved were two men, two women or some other agreed upon relationship between people.

I realize that this is a pretty far-fetched idea and I am not saying that this position is without consequences.  But today’s ruling makes it clear, the will of the people do not matter.  Families do not matter.  The future health of our society does not matter.  Only the will of the few, (or in this case, the one) matter.  If that is the case, I no longer want to play that game.  I will not allow myself to be sidetracked by accusations of bigotry because I happen to hold a traditional view of marriage.  We have more important issues than fighting for an institution that many Americans clearly no longer think is worth fighting for.

Do you have a better idea?  Provide me with your comments.  Let’s see if we can create something that will work.

Let Freedom Ring.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Culture of Corruption

"Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it."


Milton Friedman

Rep. Maxine Waters of California probably broke ethics rules, House panel finds


An ethics report released Monday found that Rep. Maxine Waters probably broke conflict-of-interest rules in urging federal aid for a bank where her husband had served on the board and owned hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock.
 
Below are some comments posted from readers associated with this story that may be of interest here...
 
Hairless wrote:


Aren't the Democrats in the majority on the ethics committee? (Just as they are everywhere in Congress) Couldn't Ms Water's buddies have stopped this with their majority? Guess it's President Bush's fault that this is happening to poor Ms. Waters.
 
ignoranceisbliss wrote:


AP wrote: WASHINGTON – California Democrat Maxine Waters faces a House trial this fall on three charges of ethical wrongdoing, setting the stage for a second election-season public airing of ethics problems for a longtime Democratic lawmaker.

The charges focus on whether Waters broke the rules in requesting federal help for a bank where her husband owned stock and had served on the board of directors. She denied the charges Monday.

Persons familiar with the case said Waters is accused of violating:

_A rule that House members may not exert improper influence that results in a personal benefit.

_The government employees' ethics code, which prohibits granting or accepting special favors, for the employee or family members, that could be viewed as influencing official actions.

_A rule that members' conduct must reflect creditably on the House.

The persons were not authorized to be quoted by name on allegations not yet made public.
The House ethics committee's announcement comes just days after it outlined 13 charges against Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., including failing to disclose assets and income, delayed payment of federal taxes and improper use of a subsidized New York apartment for his campaign office.

Another great reason for term limits for the House and Senate. No more lifer politicians. Waters is a DISGRACE.
 
ajon1600 wrote:
If Speaker Pelosi want the continued support of the party, she should let these two accused law breakers fend for themselves, and concentrate on November.
She pledged to "drain the swamp", now is the time to deliver on that pledge.
I don't care how much pressure comes from the CBC, she will have much more public support if the let the legal process take it's due course.
Personally, I think both Rangel and Waters have been around too long and are not really very useful anymore. We need new blood and new ideas and energy.

concernedcitizen3 wrote:


The Waters and Rangel cases serve to remind us that possibly the only reliable difference between Democrat and Republican politicians is that Republicans generally exhibit some semblence of shame and resign when they get caught disgracing their office. Democrats no longer feel the need to do so. And no, I'm not a Republican.
 
Do you have a thought?  Who else do you think may be guilty of questionable ethics?  Congressman Jim Moran?
 
Let Freedom Ring

Monday, August 2, 2010

Our Rich Immigrant Heritage

A few years ago I had the privilege to visit Ellis Island near New York.  For a California born “West Coaster” it was amazing to see this portal to our past.  I walked in awe as I viewed the floors and areas where millions of our ancestors began their “American Journey”.  Nearly all of us are immigrants or sons and daughters of immigrants.  Whether your family has been here since before the the Revolutionary War as most of mine has or you recently became American, we all came here from somewhere else.
As I look around Washington DC, I am constantly reminded of what a rich heritage we have.  Whether your family came from Africa, Europe, Asia or places beyond, nearly everyone came here to participate in that great American tradition, the American Dream where each of us is free to pursue our dreams.  Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is what brings people to our great country.
2010-08-01-12.38.26-1024x764[1] 8th Congressional District candidate, Patrick Murray, had this to say at last weekend’s 7th Annual Asian Festival in Reston, “Our diversity as a country and our celebration of that unique heritage is a significant part of what makes America such a great nation.
Many want to see their small businesses succeed and grow and they want their children to have the best education opportunities available to them.   Like me, they’re concerned that these essential parts of the American dream are in jeopardy and without meaningful change, our nation is in trouble.
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to America or if you’ve been here for a long time, we all have the expectation that those elected to serve us in Congress will do so honorably and with integrity.”
It is freedom that makes possible the miracle that is America.  Freedom to choose how best to live our lives with a government restrained to the minimum of intervention and is here to insure that, as a nation of laws, not men, we respect one another.  This way everyone has the opportunity to create their vision of the American Dream that respects our mutual and individual heritages and one another. 
When we focus on these core principles, whether you came over on the Mayflower or on a jet last week, we can all participate in this wonderful, noble experiment we call The United States of America.
Let Freedom Ring

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spending Too Much or Taxing Too Little?

“You can't tax your way out of a spending problem, you've got to stop spending” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
In a nutshell, this is the essence of fiscal responsibility.  It works at all levels.  Whether you are an individual, a family, a company or a government.  Unbridled spending does not lead to successful operations.  This is the essence of the case made by Peggy Noonan in her column yesterday.  It is a winning argument that Republicans can and should be making everywhere.
I have seen this first hand.  Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work for a novel company with a brilliant approach to health care prescription management.  Despite the fact that the idea had enormous value, the leadership of the company spent enormous amounts of money in acquisitions, out of proportion to the revenue that we were generating.  So, in spite of the fact that during my time there, we doubled sales revenue, spending increased by more than 5 times. 
There came a point when the investors stepped in and said “Enough”!  Drastic measures were taken.  Approximately 70% of the staff was let go, much of the leadership was replaced and the company took off in a new direction.
That was personally tragic for me as I was part of the 70%, but in the end, it worked out as the company was focused in a specific area, had modest success and then ended up being acquired by another company with the breakthrough technology being adopted by the acquiring company.
The point is, nothing can exist forever with an imbalance between the revenue coming in and the expenses going out.
Our current government does not seem to get this.  Or if they do, the answer seems to be, “Well let’s raise the revenue”.  Yesterday’s seemed to imply this with their recommendation that we raise taxes.
The problem with this is captured clearly by Governor Christie.  This situation is a result of unprecedented increases in spending without regard for the revenue to pay for it.  Simply raising tax rates may or may not have the desired effect because as Arthur Laffer continuously points out, raising rates do not necessarily lead to a commensurate increase in revenue.  The reason is that taking revenue from the economy, especially when the economy is fragile, often leads to less investment and less economic activity. 
Lower economic activity leads to less prosperity, less prosperity leads to lower tax revenue.  It is a question of simply math, I mean which would you rather have 15% of $1 Million dollars or 20% of $300,000?  If you need help in answering this question, please ask the citizens of California where they took a “soak the rich” attitude to taxation years ago and when the rich stopped being so rich, the entire state became a poster child for lopsided taxation policies combined with spending commitments held hostage by out of control public unions.
The solution is to bring spending under control, encourage the creation of prosperity by adoption of policies that encourage private investment and regulatory policies that encourage individuals to make those investments here, in America.  This is the way to create meaningful jobs that provide dignity and hope.
Let Freedom Ring.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Raising Taxes in a Fragile Economy

In today's WSJ and other publications it was reported that our economy slowed in the 2nd Quarter of this year.  According to the WSJ "The Commerce Department Friday said U.S. gross domestic product, or the value of all goods and services produced, rose at an annualized seasonally adjusted rate of 2.4% in April to June. In its first estimate of the economy's benchmark indicator, the government report showed growth was lifted by business investments and exports. Consumer spending, a key growth engine for the U.S. economy, made a smaller contribution to growth."

Reading some of the comments associated with this are fascinating....

Peter Klientje wrote: "I don't understand.... Where did it go wrong?


We all know that Socialism works. It works in Cuba, it works in North Korea and it did wonders for the people in the former Soviet Union. Socialism works every single time it is tried.

Why then is Socialism not working in the USA? We have the perfect shepherd for us, the sheeple; obama. We have the smartest, the most inspirational leaders in the House and Senate, pelosi and reid....

We have honesty and integrity in our government; rangel, geithner, sebelius, kerry...

And yet, despite all these blessings, there is no spark, no jobs, no economic growth. How can this be? July is practically over, when will the Summer of Recovery start?"
 
Jim Altfeld wrote:  "The administration can say and do anything it wants, but when it comes right down to it, nothing they are doing is working. It's a lot like building a bridge. It's hard to hide your mistakes when it's out there for everyone to see. More taxes can only lead to more government spending. Less taxes takes money out of government's pockets and puts it back into the pockets of corporations and We The People!! If turning this economy around will be done on the backs of the people, then let the people determine when and where they want to spend their money. Hey Government: Stop spending and stop taxing. You cannot and were never meant to cure all the ills that go on in our country."
 
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli pointed this out recently at a fund raiser for Patrick Murray.  This is backled up by a recent remarks by Ken Walker, CFE, chairman of the International Franchise Association and chairman and CEO of Driven Brands. 
 
His remarks included the following:  "Uncertainty is the theme for franchise businesses this summer. Uncertainty about new government regulations, uncertainty about availability of capital, and uncertainty about how quickly the economy will truly recover is stifling job and business growth.


Of course, there are many reasons for the current wave of uncertainly, but as Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher recently said, “Congress and the government have inhibited growth by creating uncertainty about business costs. We need clarity. You can’t eliminate uncertainty, but you have to reduce it as much as possible.”

As job creators, franchise business owners remain in the crossfire of a political agenda that increasingly threatens to stifle economic growth even further. Potential new taxes on both personal and business incomes, a continuing array of new regulatory burdens from health and energy reforms, and the failure to invest in common-sense solutions to help small businesses grow will certainly hamper job creation.

For example, we know that tax paperwork and compliance are already major expenses for small businesses, but buried in the new health-care law is a requirement for small businesses to report every business-to-business transaction that involve property and services in excess of $600 annually.

This would trigger the requirement to file a Form 1099 with the IRS and furnish taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) for all businesses and persons involved." (more)

The point is the that this uncertainty and additional burdens being placed on small businesses may be contributing to the drag in the economy.  That drag and the policies of the current administration and congress are making it increasingly difficult for businesses to create jobs and hire people.  It points them in the direction of seeking labor saving solutions overseas and in technology rather than hire people here.

What is needed is stability and policies that do not discourage businesses to invest and hire domestically.

My Thoughts, What are Yours?

Let Freedom Ring

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good Judgment; Poor Judgment

My Dad use to tell me when I was growing up, if you want to know the heart of a man (or woman) watch what he does with his money.  Another Dad’ism was, “Always Follow the Money”.  Here he meant that you can predict a persons loyalties by considering where his money comes from.

I will state up front, I have worked for AT&T for over 15 years and many of my points of view, especially as it comes to questions associated with telecommunications, reflect a point of view that reflects my pride in my company, the offers that we have and our philosophical approach to the marketplace.  My opinions are my own and do not reflect official company positions, occasionally I disagree with company decisions and feel embarrassed with our mistakes, still my sympathies lie with the company that rewards my work.

My point in stating this is to acknowledge that it is human nature to, at minimum, be sympathetic to the sources of our funding.  That is why it is so important to disclose and try to avoid situations where our ethics may be compromised by the potential influence from whoever provides our funding.  As a private citizen, where I am not responsible for the people's money, the standards of ethics applied to me are at one level.   Disclosing who I work for and that it might influence my judgement is consistent with what most people expect of a private citizen.

When you are a public official, I submit, you must operate at a much higher ethical level.

A tale of two politicians

This morning, it was reported that Virginia State Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, has decided to give up the questionable donations made to him by Bobby Thompson, a Florida man who served as a director of a charity under investigation in at least four states, including Virginia.

This demonstrates, principled good judgment on the part of Cuccinelli so that he can avoid both the substance and appearance of improper influence by this man under investigation.

Moran[1]Sadly, this same kind of principled good judgment can not be said by our 8th District Congressman, Jim Moran.  Hiding under the cover of recent exoneration by the Democratically controlled, House ethics committee, Congressman Moran continues on his path of accepting contributions by business leaders associated with companies he obtained millions of dollars in federal earmarks.

Again, as my Dad use to say, “you want to know how a person is likely to behave, follow the money.”  It is a pretty strong bet that Congressman Moran will have sympathies for these companies and will look for opportunities to funnel more federal dollars to them.  Bringing home the bacon has been a time-honored political practice, but when your campaign accepts donations back from these companies, it strains credibility that your judgment will not be compromised, just ask former Congressman Randy Cunningham.

I ask the voters in the 8th District to join me in demanding that Jim Moran stop the practice of accepting donations from companies he has delivered earmarks to and return the money he has already accepted.  I mean, who do you want your congressman working for, you, or a small handful of local businessmen?

Let Freedom Ring.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Earmarks, Donors and Jim Moran

Henry Hazlitt in his brilliant "Economics in One Lesson" talks about the dangers of funnelling government funding of projects into specific areas.  He argues that while the impact on the local region is very positive, one has to consider the dollars that are not spent in other places.  This means that while the local area benefits, there are projects and investments NOT made in other parts of the country.  So, the value created in one place is offset by the lack of value not created in another.

This can lead to an environment where corruption is easily bred.  Why?  Because, those who are the beneficiaries of the funding become dependent on the official who provides them.  Further, it leads to a cozy "I will scratch your back, if you scratch mine" relationship between the official and those who benefit most from the funding.

The late Congressman Murtha was the master of this.  He was so good at it, that he had an airport built in the middle of nowhere that required full time TSA staffing and maintenance for what amounted to two flights daily.  His constituents loved him for it and re-elected him over and over in spite of suspicion of corruption that at one point led to questions of ethics brought against him by the house.

Nonetheless, he turned his river of money that came from you and me into one of the best "loyalty" programs ever.  (American Express Rewards had nothing on Murtha).  One could almost argue that he corrupted an entire district and made them dependent on his largess.

Moran Tops US Congressmen in Contributions from Earmark Recipients

Could we be seeing something similar right here in our own backyard?    Recently in a June report by two nonpartisan organizations generally critical of earmarks, Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) and the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), it was reported that Congressman Jim Moran of Northern Virginia was the House leader in campaign contributions received from earmark recipients.  The report showed Democrat Jim Moran got $89,600.

According to virginiawatchdog.org"Moran received more than $80,000 from executives, political action committees and lobbyists of companies to whom he’s directed earmarks. In total, Moran has received $82,700 total from these committees and individuals, according to Federal Election Commission reports. MobilVox, Inc. tops the list of donors, contributing $8,300 to Moran and receiving a $2 million earmark.


(Further) Moran requested earmarks for donors totaling more than $50 million. The largest earmark requests were $3 million each, requested for EM Solutions, Inc., Argon ST and DDL Omni Engineering. All of the earmarks given to donors of Moran were defense appropriations.


Finally, it’s true that more than 20 percent of Moran’s $396,952 in donations last year came from these committees and individuals."

To be clear, at this point there is no reported evidence of corruption here.  It currently appears that all of this has been reported correctly.  Still, where there is a close connection between the people receiving the earmark and those who contribute to a campaign, it can give the appearance of a payoff.  At any rate it is logical that those who are the beneficiary of this largess, would be motivated to see Mr. Moran re-elected.  At the very least, this calls into question the congressman's judgement.

This also creates a less than fair playing field for candidates to compete for voters attention and votes.  Could we be seeing the seeds planted for a Murtha like abuse of privilege?  The greed of a handful of local people who benefit from this transfer of money from other parts of the country to here may be great for our local citizens but could be bad for our country. 

I believe our local citizens are smarter and more honorable than that.  When they realize that Congressman Jim Moran is not only playing this shell game with the people's money, but setting up this mutual admiration and reward "society", they will be giving second thoughts about whether someone with this kind of judgement deserves another term in Congress.

Let Freedom Ring

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Tree of Liberty is Planted in Alexandria Virginia

Virginia Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli arrived later than expected by a surprisingly large crowd at the home of Kimberly Newman of Alexandria, Virginia last night.  However, it was not too late to help plant the seeds of Liberty with this enthusiastic crowd of supporters of US 8th District Congressional Candidate Patrick Murray.

Both AG Ken Cuccinelli and Candidate Murray spoke of the "job-killing uncertainty" that exists in the marketplace today.  According to Cuccinelli and Murray, there is a direct link between the lack of job creation and the policies of President Obama with the support of current Congressman, Jim Moran.  Discussion by this crowd centered on what is needed to set this country right again.





While many last night acknowledged that unseating Jim Moran will be difficult, all seemed enthusiastically up for the challenge as the Attorney General and the candidate pounded on the themes of:

  • Free Enterprise
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Fueling our Great Economic Engine
  • Restoring a better balance in Washington

Liberty, properly nurtured, can lead to exciting progress.  A new "Liberty Tree" may have been just planted in the unlikely city of Alexandria, Virginia.

Let Freedom Ring

Monday, July 26, 2010

Freedom of the Press

In a commentary, published in the Washington Post, this morning by E.J. Dionne Jr., wrote “The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its propaganda to be accepted as news by convincing  the traditional journalists that “fairness” requires treating extremist rants as “one side of the story”.

My posted response to his commentary was:

Mr. Dionne, why do you (and others) accuse Fox of “persistently forcing propaganda as news” as if they are the only ones doing it.  Yesterday as I was listening to CNN, I heard a panel make essentially the points you did in your article.  It appears that both you and CNN want to make FOX the story and not the trigger happy administration.  What was interesting was that no one on the panel expressed any viewpoint other than this was all a conspiracy by FOX News.

Let’s review some actual facts.  First, for the record, on my post last Thursday, I made it clear that I have sympathies for Ms Sherrod.  This was a clear case of recklessness where the guilt is borne by many.  However this is not the way CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and New York Times are reporting it. 
Fox, on the other hand, is the only major network that is presenting a true vibrant debate in which advocates harmonious with your position are interviewed along with others who defend conservatives and new media.  For example, yesterday on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, both Howard Dean and Jesse Jackson were interviewed and, in the case of Howard Dean, he accused FOX News of being “racist”, on FOX News.  I thought that interesting and remarkable that he made many of the same points you did in your article on the very network that was broadcasting it.  Jesse Jackson made similar arguments and there is a full spectrum of commentary that is expressed by many on the network.  I am not sure that I see your point about FOX news, especially when, a telling of the full story does not appear to be expressed on the other networks/newspapers.

For example, where on MSNBC was it reported that FOX news only ran the video AFTER the administration had fired, Shirley Sherrod?  Where on CNN was it reported that O’ Reilly not only made a mistake, but then confessed to the mistake and apologized for it.  Where, beside the Huffington Post, was it reported that Sheppard Smith said “"We here at Studio B did not run the video and did not reference the story in any way for many reasons, among them: we didn't know who shot it, we didn't know when it was shot, we didn't know the context of the statement, and because of the history of the videos on the site where it was posted, in short we do not and did not trust the source."

Where on MSNBC was it reported that Fox News president cautioned his staff to “go slow” with the story and make sure that all the facts were straight before running it.  (Advice ignored by Bill O’Reilly and according to him, Bill O’Reilly alone.)  Finally, where in the New York Times was it reported that in spite of the poor judgment overall that Bill O’Reilly displayed, he only ran the story AFTER Ms. Sherrod had been fired by the Administration?

I enjoy listening/watching many sources.  This “Freedom of the Press” gives me a way to view/hear many points of view.  (It is one of the reasons why I read the Washington Post and commentaries such as your own along with MSNBC, PBS and CNN.)  I value this rich diversity of opinion.  It saddens me a bit when the so called mainstream media does not present all sides of the story, but appears to have an agenda of its own.  It seems that MSNBC, CNN and you are guilty of the very thing you accuse FOX News of.

With Fred Barnes recent story that suggests collusion in the liberal media and an organized effort to discredit the source(s), I keep coming back to the power that is embedded with the notion of racism.  It appears that whenever things don’t seem to be going the way the left wants it to go, a “let’s make this about racism” seems to crop up, over and over.

Once again, I assert that the true issue that we should all be fighting for here is FREEDOM!  In a free society we CAN have a vibrant debate.  Freedom deserves to be nurtured and protected.  I for one will strive to keep this focus and avoid, if I can, this attempt to distract from this main message.
Let Freedom Ring.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What's In It For You?

Last night I had the privilege to meet Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling at a gathering of Republicans in Falls Church, VA.  The purpose of the occasion was to support the candidacy of Patrick Murray for congress.  These people were all gathered at a wonderful home on a pleasant, if a little muggy, evening for a "no pork" luau.

Mr. Bolling provided a few brief comments and proudly announced that the state of Virginia had gone from a fiscal deficit to about 400 million dollar surplus in the year since Governor McDonnell had been elected.  The conversation for the evening by this very nice crowd was passionate and generally drifted to  the common themes we hear from Republicans, less taxes, smaller government, fiscal discipline and so on.  With all of the hoopla associated with Mr. Murray's campaign to "RetireJimMoran", I was thinking....

So What!

I was pondering this dilemma.  I suspect that most people couldn't care less about lower taxes or "fiscal discipline" or "smaller government".  If I was them, I would be thinking...

What's in it for me?

It is a legitimate question, especially if you are part of the reported 60% of Americans who pay little or no taxes.  I mean, why should I care if lower taxes is not affecting MY wallet?

Ah my friend, but it does.  What is at stake here is Freedom!  Last night I was asked, "What do you mean, "Freedom"?  I loved the question.  It was the right question.

We live in a world of imperfect men and women.  Our founding fathers knew this.  In their wisdom, they created a system of government that created an environment of many competing centers of power.  From the federal to the state to local governments, each center of power "competes" with the other to be both a check against power abuse and as a laboratory of new ideas.  The ideas here in Virginia, some of which directly challenge the federal government, provides a powerful crucible in which ideas become better.  When proven, these ideas become models for others. 

Further, private initiative with the risk and ultimate reward for the best ideas provides a platform for innovation in which new and different ways to solve problems can flourish.  Can you imagine what Facebook would look like if it was "invented" by a subcommittee of the FCC?

Every time we empower a federal agency AND take money from the private sector, we take away the funds that fuel innovation and lead to economic activity.  Every time we create a government agency with rules and regulations, we make things more difficult for innovative ideas to flourish because they are stifled with rules known and unknown that choke off the idea before it has had a true chance to prove itself in the marketplace. 

When we keep money in the pockets of people, prosperity flourishes and leads to an accumulation of dollars that individuals and enterprises are free to invest into creative solutions.  This investment of both time and treasure, is ultimately followed with new and better approaches to the issues we face every day.  Often it is messy and there are failures, but this crucible keeps bubbling up new ideas that address real problems and tackle problems unimagined.  If it is done well, it is rewarded with people willing to pay for those solutions... and that, my friend, leads to the creation of jobs and meaningful work.

So, what's in it for you?  Jobs that pay fair wages.  Creative solutions to our problems.  Freedom to pursue our own hopes and dreams.  ...and in that "pursuit" where we are building a future both individually and together, we more often than not discover.... "happiness".

Let Freedom Ring.