Economy Rebounds Despite Obama’s Criticism

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Apparently with all the campaigning, Barack Obama hasn’t been able to read the news.  On a night where Obama attacked John McCain for his support of the “failed economic policies of the Bush Administration” the Washington Post reported that the economy grew faster than expected this quarter.

U.S. economic growth accelerated from April to June as taxpayers spent their federal rebate checks and a weakened dollar boosted exports, the government reported yesterday.

According to new data from the Commerce Department, gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 3.3 percent in the second quarter of the year, the fastest rate since mid-2007. The department had initially estimated annualized growth for the period to be 1.9 percent, but more complete data — particularly on exports by U.S. companies — showed the economy to be growing faster.

I’m not saying that all is well with this economy, one in which the government continues to inflate the supply of money and borrow money to pay for a war and too many social programs.  But apparently we don’t live in Zimbabwe like the Democrats are trying to convince us with examples of people without health insurance, jobs or food.  There are worse things than life without health insurance… like life with government health insurance and a 2 year wait for health care.  Just ask the British.

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Keys to Understanding Politicians

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Here is a simple guide to understanding the real meaning behind what politicians say:

Substitute the words “the government” for “we”, “I’ll” and “our”.

“Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don’t have that chance. I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I’ll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American – if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.”

I didn’t promise every young American and education.  I can only assume that every time Barack Obama opens his mouth and says “we” you can rightfully assume he means “the government”.  Only the government would make such a foolish promise.

Tired of the same old politics?

Need an interpreter?

Did the Founding Fathers believe that “We, the People” really meant “We, the Government”?  Apparently that’s what most Democrats (and alot of Republicans) believe.

Believe me when I say that Barack Obama and Thomas Jefferson have very different view of the role of government.  Thomas Jefferson said, “…a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”  I doubt we can expect any of our current politicians to utter these words.

Is it their fault?  Have we as a nation become so accustomed to pervasive government that we have accommodated the aspirations of men for power and in so doing ceded our Natural Rights as humans?  The Rights of Life, Liberty and Property.  We have allowed ourselves to be treated as ignorant sheep and our politicians as the wise shepherds instead of letting them know that WE are the rudder and they are the wind.

We accept the role of government as caretaker, provider, and moral leader.  We accept government’s intrusion as inevitable.  We have traded the right to the Pursuit of Happiness, essentially the right to FAIL, for the provision of economic equality and tenuous “security”.  We have traded intelligent discourse on the role of government for mud-slinging barbs and punch-line slogans.

We reject true reformers as radicals and accept the status quo, afraid of true change.  We reject the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and accept the philosophy of the politicians who seek the power we look, inevitably, to grant.  We shout down those who don’t agree with us and blindly believe those we favor have our best interests at heart.  The Truth:  Our government has no one’s best interests at heart but its own.

As the saying goes, “How can you tell if a politician is lying?”  Because his lips are moving.  Yes, we most certainly deserve the politicians we have.

The Georgia-Russia Conflict (part 2)

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The Face of the Reprised USSR?

The Face of the Reprised USSR?

I found a very good article by Christopher Westley of the Mises Institute regarding the conflict between Georgia and Russia over the South Ossetian province.  Westley characterizes the conflict somewhat differently from both the Bush Administration and the media:

“…let us be clear about what has happened. In recent years, the United States has been providing military aid and advice to an increasingly militaristic Georgia, whose military budget has increased 30 fold since 2003 (much to the chagrin, I am sure, of the Georgian taxpayer). US intelligence services played a fundamental role in the 2004 election of its pro-Western president, Mikheil Saakashvili, who, in turn, has been aggressively courting Georgian membership in NATO.

None of these developments have been exactly welcomed by the Russians, who share a huge border with Georgia and run important natural-gas pipelines through the region. To understand why, Americans should consider how the US government would react if (say) Texas declared its independence and received massive amounts of military aid and advice from the Russians, all while the Texas president feted his Russian counterpart at state dinners in Austin and promoted Texan membership in a post–Cold War Warsaw Pact that had already expanded greatly in the previous 15 years.

Throw into the volatile mix the region of South Ossetia, which I admit to never having heard of before Friday (frankly, its name reminds me of a Miami avenue). It is a region within Georgia that has long resisted consolidation by the Georgian state, preferring to secede from it as Georgia seceded from Russia. Over the years, Georgia objected to South Ossetia’s right to self-government, and while much of the world’s attention was on Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing, the Georgian government decided to take the region by force.

The Russian government, caught unawares, objected. And so we have the tragic situation that is playing itself out today.”

Incidentally, this synopsis is in line with what I believed the situation to be but without the facts to back it up.  It seems that the US government is interested in spreading freedom, except for those peoples it is trying to free, as long as the people being freed support our government.  Such is the case in Georgia.  The US government is propping up a fledgling Georgian “democracy” while extracting troops (I’ll be it only a handful) for the War in Iraq.

Apparently the South Ossetians aren’t playing along with the US government playbook and thus Georgia attempted to force them into agreement.  When the security for Russian peacekeepers deteriorated, Russia did what we most certainly would do if faced with the same situation.  They protected their interests.

Westley concludes his point:

Finally, much of what is happening in Georgia today reminds me of Hazlitt’s dictum that good economists consider the full effects of policies and actions. Given the recent and not-so-recent history of US military interventions on foreign soil, there is little objection that our government can make when other governments invade countries, kill scores of innocent people, upend families, destroy homes and businesses, and contemplate regime change.

What game theorist in the Pentagon thought that the United States could intervene so heavily in the political and military affairs of Georgia without some eventual response from the Russians? At the very least, jobs should be lost, and theories should be questioned when such policies result in long-term, deadly blowback.

If we continue to propagate an interventionist foreign policy we can expect the same results, whether in Iraq, Iran or Russia.  Either way, the losers in such a strategy inevitably are the citizens.

The Illusion of Freedom of the Press

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Life Under the Fairness Doctrine

Life Under the Fairness Doctrine

In a society instituted on freedom, the most important concept of freedom to uphold is that of individual ownership of person and property, without which there is no freedom.  Freedom of speech and of the press, logical outgrowths of the ownership of person and property, are expressly protected from government inhibition by the First Amendment.

Unfortunately, since the Radio Act of 1927 the federal government has been violating the First Amendment, in which the government seized control of radio frequencies and began “licensing” them at its convenience.  In 1978 the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could infringe on the right of free press in regard to content regulation.

So are the radio and television media not a form of the press?  Are radio, and now more prominently television, not the primary information outlets of the 21st century?  When did it become ok for the government to change its contract (the Constitution) with the American people for the sake of propriety or the public’s “best interest”?  Who gave them that authority?

It wasn’t the American people.  We most certainly wouldn’t have given the government that right.  No, the Federal Government’s Supreme Court confiscated that right by judicial fiat.  And yet, distracted by the craziness of every day life, the latest movie, American Idol winner and hit song we have allowed ourselves to become so indoctrinated to the idea that the government has our best interests at heart that we, without much thought or revolt, have allowed our primary sources of information to be controlled by the thing we were supposed to be protected from by the Constitution:  Government.

The Founding Fathers believed that a free press was essential to democracy.  They had learned, thru experience, that when the primary information outlets are controlled by the government only the messages conducive to eliciting submission to that government are allowed.  The result thereof was the propagation of the “party line”.  You can see that we’re bloated with the party line by looking at our current political climate.  Anyone advocating something other than the status quo is labeled a “radical”, a “freak” or worse.

Attempting to diminish opposing viewpoints is the opposite of liberty and democracy, it is the ideology of statism, that we live to support the state.  Implied in statism is that we are owned, at least partially, by and find our true purpose thru the State.

Many on the “right” believe that censorship is necessary to elicit propriety in the public’s “best interest”.  However, in a free society in which there are a plethora of options, the free will of individuals to determine what is and is not appropriate to listen to or watch should not be infringed upon.

Those on the “left” believe that censorship is necessary to elicit “fairness” and equality.  You may have heard of the Fairness Doctrine or the more recent nomenclature, the Media Responsibility Act.  In a nutshell, they would like to control all content on radio, television and the Internet so that they can ensure a modicum of “fairness” in the political discourse of both sides.

Who then is the arbiter of “fairness”?  The Government.  A person or body of unelected bureaucrats with the power to censor your internet content, your favorite TV shows and radio programs.  Can you imagine how much larger the FCC (as if it weren’t big and powerful enough already) would need to be to handle all of that?  How much more tax revenue will be required to fund the expansion?  How much corruption would be ready and waiting to determine what is “acceptable” on both sides (as if there were only two)?

Fact is that we haven’t had a truly free press since 1927 and yet the American people don’t seem to care or even be aware.  Although, how would we know… we’re all watching the same channels.  I wonder how many channels would broadcast Keith Olbermann once the Fairness Doctrine is back in play.  It would be reminiscent perhaps of Chancellor Sutler’s television broadcasts in “V for Vendetta”.  Food for thought…

Would you give?

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Free Government Money?

Free Government Money?

With the majority party conventions arriving the next two weeks, and with them endless promises of government “solutions” to America’s problems of security, energy, health care and economy, I’d like to begin by asking a simple question, “How important are those solutions to you, really?”

Barack Obama has said that his solution would provide health insurance for over 50 million uninsured in this country (many of whom are young people and illegal immigrants, but that’s besides the point) paid for by taxes.  He continually touts this as caring for the little guy.  Millions of people will probably vote for Obama in the upcoming election based primarily on this issue.  To those people I ask the question, “If there were no taxes coerced from the citizenry to pay for the health insurance of those 50 million would you donate money to charities to provide health insurance for them?

If the answer is “yes” then I have to ask “why can’t we do that now?”  Instead of having the government forcibly steal from the citizenry to pay for these projects, why can’t private charities, which are much more efficient anyways, provide this service thru charitable donations?

If your answer is “no” then I can ascertain that you truly don’t care enough about those 50 million people to pay from your own pocket, but you’re ok with coercing that money from someone else.  Basically, you believe it’s ok to steal, as long as the government does it and for someone who “needs” it.  Or you simply believe, as I do, that each person is responsible for him or herself and nobody, especially the government, has a right to play Robin Hood on a grande (or any) scale.

So the question becomes, if all governmental spending questions were posed to the public in this way would taxation really be necessary?  If all the social programs were really in the public’s “best interest” wouldn’t the public donate money, in their own best interest and of their own volition, toward that end?  If the income tax was eliminated and your congressman came to your city and requested money for a subsidy to farmers in Idaho to grow corn for ethanol, would you donate money?

This is the fundamental question that all citizens and politicians should ask before supporting government programs that will commit even a dime of the tax payers hard earned money.  Sure everyone will play fast and loose with the purse strings when it’s someone elses dime, but when that dime is yours, how willing are you to part with it for the government to waste it?

You could ask the same question about the decision to go to war.  If taxes were eliminated, would all those in favor of the war in Iraq donate money to wage that war?  Wouldn’t that limit the probability of interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations?  How many of you would have donated money to fund the Vietnam War?  Korea?  Desert Storm?  We would certainly get a better picture of the public’s support for any particular conflict and the true political asperations of any politician.

If you aren’t willing to put your money where your mouth is, why should the rest of us foot the bill?

Biden is Obama’s VP Candidate

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As some expected, Obama decided to add “experience” to the ticket selecting Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Barack Obama named Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his vice presidential running mate early Saturday, balancing his ticket with a seasoned congressional veteran well-versed in foreign policy and defense issues.

As I noted in an earlier entry, Obama has now said with this selection that changing Washington really isn’t the goal, winning is.  Obama knows he can’t win without some foreign policy experience so he’s added Biden to the ticket.  But what else does Biden bring with him?  Washington politics.

By choosing Biden as his VP running mate, Obama is trying to calculate the perfect mix of ideology and Washington politics to get elected.  So much for “change you can believe in”.

Do you want a different choice?

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Tired of the same old politics?

Tired of the same old politics?

As Ron Paul says in the introduction to his book, The Revolution: A Manifesto, “This much is true: you have been lied to”… and we have.  We were told that the Republicans were for smaller government.  Truth is, the largest increase in the size and scope of the Federal Government was under this Republican administration.  We were told Democrats are for a sensible foreign policy; the anti-war party.  The truth is that most of the Democrats who claim they are against the war in Iraq actually voted for it.  And nothing ever changes.

We are promised “Change”, that Washington, now broken, will undertake a new beginning where Republicans and Democrats alike will work together in perfect harmony.  For all the sniping and backbiting, the name calling and the mud slinging, the Republicans and Democrats are really the same party.  The Republicrats.

Sure they have different ideas about how to get there.  But in the end, both parties are responsible for the way things are today.  Congress has a 9% approval rating and most people feel the country is headed in the wrong direction.  Most differ as to which direction that is, but they know the one in which we’re heading isn’t the one we should be.  But don’t worry, the candidates ask you to take the hand of one of the architects of the policies that put us in this mess… and nothing will ever change.

If you believe that Barack Obama has your best interest at heart and that he is going to bring sweeping reform to Washington ask him why he hasn’t done it as an influential member of the Senate since his election in 2004.  What meaningful change has he brought us thus far?  He represents the ideals, the same ideals as Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Ted Kennedy, that some would say have put us in this mess in the first place.

If you believe that John McCain has your best interest at heart and that he will really cut unnecessary spending in Washington ask him why spending in Washington hasn’t gone down.  He’s had 26 years to do so.  Sure the growth of spending has gone down here and there, but that’s like saying I’m going to stop smoking… more than a pack a day.  He represents the same policies of George W. Bush on foreign affairs and who knows what he really believes about immigration or the First Amendment (McCain-Feingold).  He has been part of the problem much more than he’s been part of the solution.

The truth is most people don’t like either of these choices.  A recent Zogby poll discovered that 62.4% of likely voters want to see better choices.  That’s a pretty big percentage of the population who don’t like our options.

The media and political establishments alike want you to believe that you have only one choice between two candidates, only two parties.  You have seen the anger from both sides when a politician that doesn’t come from the political “mainstream” encroaches on the established order of things.  The vitriol with which Ralph Nader was subjected to after Al Gore lost the 2000 election from the left was cruel.  The disrespect shown to Ron Paul during the Republican Primary Debates was unfair, casting him as an old kook who was from another planet all because he agrees with guys named Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin on how we should conduct foreign and domestic policy.  The two parties are the same and they don’t want anything or anyone standing in their way.

The truth is if you want more choices they are out there.  They will tell you that you have to vote for the “lesser of two evils”.  Truth is, that’s a false choice.  If enough of you really want “change” it’s there to be had.  If you really want “change” you aren’t going to find it in the two major candidates or the two major parties (unless you vote for Ron Paul).  If you are one of the 62% of Americans who want more choices, don’t be belittled into thinking you don’t have options, find one and then vote for them.  If you don’t know where to look, here’s a head start

The War on Drugs

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I haven’t really debated, blogged or even discussed the merits of the war on drugs before.  The reason is that I really don’t enjoy talking about the drug culture in this country, probably because I believe it is a destructive behavior, just like alcoholism.  Doug Wead, however, points out while many oppose the use of marijuana, few actually know why:

Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, who was chairman of a two year committee study on the subject, declared that ”scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue.”

Among the finding of the Senate report? Marijuana is not a gateway to the use of hard drugs. Marijuana use does not lead to the commission of crime. Marijuana users are unlikely to become dependent. Marijuana use has little impact on driving. Liberalizing marijuana laws is unlikely to lead to increased marijuana use. Marijuana prohibition poses a greater risk to health than marijuana use.

Ron Paul is right. We need to look at these laws and make some common sense decisions. “The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous,” says Ron Paul. “According to Aquinas, God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.”

A majority of Americans will probably say that they don’t like the idea of legalizing marijuana.  I would agree with them.  However, despite my personal feelings on the matter I cannot conclude that a) the Constitution provides the authority for the Federal Government to subvert the State’s authority on the matter or b) that the War on Drugs has even marginally lessened the drug culture in America or c) my feelings on the matter are somehow more lofty than the individual freedoms of those who choose to use it.

We saw that Prohibition did not cure America’s desire for alcohol.  When will we see that criminalizing marijuana has done nothing to cure America’s penchant for it, but only incarcerate many of otherwise law abiding citizens.

Wead goes on to point out:

Ron Paul raises an issue that no other politician dare raise. The fact that the prisons are full of drug addicts who will be imprisoned for life, for no other reason than that they are mentally or emotionally addicted to Marijuana. He is referring to those laws we call “three strikes and you are out.”

Democrats like to talk about the “moral issues” of poverty, health care, and welfare (which are economic and social issues, not moral issues at all) yet here is a real moral issue and no one but Dr. Paul is talking about it.

The biggest problem is that the ruling classes, both Democrats and Republicans, actually agree on this issue.  They are in favor of governmental control of your bodies.  Imagine that… we finally found something they can agree on and it’s governmental interference.  Go figure.

You can read Doug Wead’s entire blog entry here

Obama’s VP dilemma

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The Democrat Ticket?

The Democrat Ticket?

This week we are awaiting the anointing of the next potential Vice President of the United States.  Obama seems poised to tag someone either today or tomorrow to dominate the inevitable media flurry over the weekend.  However, Obama faces a real dilemma in making his choice.

In the Democrat primaries, Obama ran on a campaign of “Change”… and he still is.  His definition of “Change” was getting rid of the “old” politics to a politics that shuns special interests and “broken” ideological philosophies.  He was going to usher in the new age of politics, where both parties come together.

His primary attack on John McCain is that he was part of the problem in Washington and that he failed to enact “change”.  While I agree that John McCain is part of the problem, frankly, during his time in Washington Obama was as well.  In fact, he really hasn’t done anything of note in Washington, good or bad.

But with the mainstream media fixated on his veep choice, he is in for a real problem.  Most polls show that McCain wins the “experience” factor with voters and they say he is better equipped to deal with the Russia situation.  In a new Zogby poll today, McCain leads Obama by 5 points.  Quite a comeback in only a matter of weeks from when he was training by 7 points or more.  One can only assume that the Russia incident has bolstered his candidacy.

So if Obama chooses between Governor Tim Kaine from Virginia or Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana he sticks with his message of “change”.  Both Kaine and Bayh are young, energetic but Bayh represents a philosophical difference with Obama on the Iraq war, which Bayh supported feverishly.  Neither Kaine nor Bayh help Obama on the “experience” factor that appears to be pushing the election toward McCain.

If Obama decides that he can’t beat McCain without improving his “experience” factor then he most certainly will say and do anything to get elected.  Adding Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton to the ticket would be a direct contradiction to the argument he made for “change”.  Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have long political tentacles and very partisan rhetoric and records.  If Obama is going to change the way Washington works, how can he do it with Washington on his ticket?

Maybe all the reports are wrong and Obama will choose someone else.  Probably for the best.  If the shortlist is as suspected, Obama must choose whether he really believes in “Change” or if it’s all about winning.  Either way, it will show the current political system for what it is… a farce.

McCain’s Foreign Policy Nightmare

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If elected to the Presidency, Barack Obama, I believe, will enact numerous nightmare policies domestically that will limit our freedoms and increase the bloated federal government’s reach into the lives of its citizens and their pocketbooks.  John McCain, however, is running on a platform of foreign policy experience and commander-in-chief-edness.  The question that is posed is, “If the White House phone rings at 3 o’clock in the morning, who do you want to answer?”

While we certainly don’t want Barack Obama’s naivity to expose our country to increasing threats from around the world, I’m not so sure we want trigger happy John McCain either.  During a campaign event in South Carolina earlier this year, when asked about a message he wanted to send to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, McCain joking replied with the lyrics to a reprise of the Beach Boys song, “Bomb Bomb Bomb, bomb bomb Iran”.

Just days ago when Russia rolled its tanks into Georgia over the South Ossetia region, McCain began talking tough yet again and many pundits began talking about whether the US should provide military support for Georgia.  To his credit, McCain has not recommended any military support for Georgia, although if the situation were to continue, I’m sure that would not be far behind.

Reported rumors of McCain’s temper have been around for years and I can plainly see it in his response to certain questions, although he has become increasingly adept at masking it, a learned necessity over the course of the campaign.  Compound an aggressive foreign policy with a legendary temper and you have the recipe for a very tumultuous and expensive 4 years.

Thomas Jefferson said, “It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.

The first part of foreign policy is to avoid war, after that, if war should commence the objective is to put out the fire and preserve ourselves.  The man in me wants to dictate to others our demands and ultimatums.  The Patriot in me cries for freedom, including the freedom of other countries to protect their national interests just as we do.  The more we advocate war the more willing we will be to enter into one, whether necessary or not.

It appears that neither Barack Obama or John McCain have any interest in limiting the size of government, only proportioning where that government will exist.  Obama wants government infrastructure domestically, McCain wants expansive military forces abroad.  The losers, no matter who wins, will ultimately be the American people.