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, "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.

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