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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Uncle No One Ever Talks About - The Entitlement the GOP Doesn't Want to Reform

For years now, conservatives have been calling for entitlement reform. Some measures of welfare reform were implemented during the Clinton Administration. And with the rise of the Tea Party, the calls for entitlement reform have escalated to screams. 


The problem with asking for entitlement reform is that many Americans want it until it affects the entitlements they feel that they deserve. Retirees want welfare reform but not Medicare or Social Security reform. Young single mothers are fine with reforming Medicare, but horrified at the thought of restructuring WIC benefits or welfare or the public education system. 


Newsflash, folks! The Republican party is no different. Sure, they talk a good game. They talk about pushing for legislation that would reform entitlements. But the elephant in the room is the entitlement that no establishment Republican will ever talk about: who is next in line to run for President.


During the 2008 GOP primaries, a question was asked that should never be asked: whose turn is it for the nomination? The names being tossed around were mainly Romney, Huckabee and McCain, and the final assessment was that it should be McCain because, as the oldest of the three, he was the least likely to get another chance at the nomination in a subsequent election. Lo and behold, after a relatively short and barely contested primary, who should emerge as the nominee but John McCain... The entitled took his place on the debate stage with the inexperienced upstart from Chicago (arguably) and proceeded to take an historic beating.


That question has been asked again in reference to the 2012 election, and I say we need to stop it now. We only need to look at recent history to see why this is a bad idea. When we look to the established queue for our candidate, we tend to lose - and lose badly. McCain is an example of this, along with Bob Dole in 1996 and George H.W. Bush in his bid for a second term. (Bush had the benefit of being an incumbent, but relied too much on that benefit and failed to launch an effective campaign.) If we rely on this system of entitlement-by-seniority, we can expect more of the same.


Recent history also dictates that the Republican party can succeed when they are willing to shake things up. Take Ronald Reagan, for example: as an actor and a former Democrat, he was the last person most establishment Republicans wanted to see anywhere near the White House. But he jumped through the prescribed hoops anyway, and went on to win 49 of 50 states against the incumbent Jimmy Carter. And then there is the curious case of George W. Bush. Not only was he not next in line in the Republican party for the nomination, he was not even supposed to be next in line in his own family for a Presidential bid. His brother Jeb, Governor of Florida, was being groomed for that path long before George ever considered it. But when he threw his name in the ring, all bets were off. The 2000 election was something of a squeaker, but once elected George W. Bush became one of the only Presidents in American history who did not face party losses in his first midterm election.


The upshot is this: the Democrats choose their candidate based on who is timely rather than who has served his time. They base it on who has the stamina and the ability to fight the good fight now rather than who has already been in the ring the longest. And they base it on who they think is capable of drumming up the funds and support necessary to win rather than who has paid the most dues up to this point. When Republicans follow suit, we tend to win. When we do not, when we fall victim to the entitlement mentality, we lose. We lose big. And we lose because our first move in the battle was to cut our own legs off at the knees.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Morning in America - Perry style

In the last few weeks I have spent a fair bit of time talking about a candidate who I can't support - Ron Paul. While I still haven't made any decisions about which candidate I CAN support, even for the GOP primary, I figured I should at least do my due diligence and read up on some of the "other guys." Today is Rick Perry's lucky day...


James Richard Perry, governor of Texas since the last governor of Texas moved to the White House. What is true about him and what is hype? How damaging is the fact that he used to be a Democrat? The fact that he (gasp) publicly denies Anthropogenic Global Warming (man made climate change)? His willingness to attend prayer meetings? The fact that he was a Texas A&M Yell Leader (read: male cheerleader) and therefore not invited to Old Home Week at the Ivy Leagues? 


Last Friday I went out with my three-year-old, Evie, who desperately wanted "a haircut from the haircut store." While I was waiting for the stylist to give her a trim, I happened on a copy of Time Magazine that included an article entitle "The Rise of Perry." It discussed the years he spent on the family farm, his time at Texas A&M, flying planes in the Air Force, and beyond. The article itself is worth a read even if you don't like the guy, because it approaches him with a non-partisan view that is refreshing in any of today's media outlets. The crux of the presentation? "Rick Perry is the sort of Republican who convenes prayer rallies, scoffs at Global Warming, and says of evolution, 'There are some holes in that theory...'"


As for the skeletons in his closet, well, he has definitely been upfront about exposing them himself. He explained away his previous ties to former Vice President and Global Warming "enthusiast" Al Gore by saying, "We parted ways. I found God. It seems he went off the deep end." He was more than ready at the Tea Party debate to address his own mistakes concerning the HPV vaccine mandate. Again from the Time Magazine article, in reference to his mistakes, he said the following: "America needs a decisive leader. I make decisions. Sometimes I make wrong decisions, and when I do I will admit to that. But the American people will never wonder where I stand on an issue."


What intrigues me the most about Rick Perry is his record. He has been through just about every type of election there is - the landslide, the squeaker, the upset - and he has not lost yet. He has earned a reputation for being a politician's politician, meaning that he is willing to get his hands dirty to get what he wants: in this case, the Presidency. While some prefer their candidates to take the high road, it's an unfortunate fact that many Republicans lose - and lose badly - because they are either unable or unwilling to play the game as well as the other guy. It's great to have the winning solutions and to have truth on your side, but you cannot also be unwilling to shout from the roof tops that the other guy has it all wrong. Rick Perry doesn't seem to have a problem with that, and I like seeing that kind of fight in someone who is on my side.


What clinched it for me today was Rick Perry's "President Zero" ad, which I finally got the chance to watch. (You can view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EL5Atp_vF0) One part Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America," one part realistic look at the Obama Presidency, two parts unvarnished truth, two parts American exceptionalism and pride, and all parts AWESOME. (I won't lie, the unadulterated patriotism that bleeds through the last 30 seconds of that ad nearly brought tears.) Folks, whether you love Rick Perry or you hate him, there is no denying that this ad represents the type of campaign needed to bring down the mammoth. 


I for one, am going to thoroughly enjoy watching what Rick Perry does next. Especially if he keeps his attacks so focused and spot-on.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh, Palestine... (tsk, tsk)

Oh, Palestine, why do you insist on behaving like the two-year-old of global politics? You could have had your own homeland, years ago. The only requirement imposed in order for you to get your own homeland, with real borders and everything, was for you to recognize Israel as a legitimate nation. Your refusal to do so left you in exile all these years.


So now you find yourselves in a predicament that is no one's fault but your own, and you want to whine about it. You want to cry on the global stage about how nobody loves you, everybody hates you, and you might as well go eat worms... (Okay, I might have taken that one a little farther than necessary.)


So you round up some allies - people from your region of the world who hate Israel. That shouldn't be hard to do, since most of the Arab nations have declared war on Israel at least once. All of them have worked diligently to ensure that Israel will never be allowed full participation in any UN activities (with the help of the UN itself, I might add). Saudi Arabia, for example, seems to be happy to take your side.


And now, with the United States standing vocally opposed to your new homeland, you threaten us with the loss of allies such as Saudi Arabia (who is aiding Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan). 


That's right, you threaten us because you want something that we tried to give you years ago.


Forgive me if your request seems a little hollow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ron Paul, back for another round.

Once again, I blame Facebook for this...


The post that started it all:
Rick Santorum and Ron Paul: invited to the Tea Party Debate solely for comic relief?
To clarify: Santorum was more "ha ha" funny. Paul was "off the reservation" funny.
(I posted this in response to Ron Paul's comments concerning the United States' responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, and Rick Santorum's zingers such as "We are a melting pot, not a salad bowl...")


I immediately got a response from a friend I knew to be a supporter of Ron Paul. I checked the response, hoping for a rational debate as all of my other attempts to debate Ron Paul supporters have been fairly well documented in previous posts. (We'll call my friend "Bob," to protect his privacy. And I will be editing any typos I find as I copy them here.) But this debate seemed doomed from the start...


Bob: 
Why do people think Ron Paul is so "crazy." Because he talks straight unlike most politicians? I thought you would be able to see past the FOX News BS, Virginia. Ron Paul is a real tea party member. The rest are just big government republicans trying to herd votes.


Me:
 Let me start with the fact that I do my own research. I don't get TV at all in my house. (True) To assume that I get my information from Fox News says more about your bias than mine. As for why "people" think Ron Paul is so crazy, I can't answer that question as I do not read minds. I personally do not think he is crazy - I think that his fiscal policies are nothing short of brilliant, and that his foreign policy ideas are nothing short of national suicide. I come by those views from my time spent in the military, my time spent studying politics on my own, and an intensive course in foreign policy just in the last year. If Ron Paul is THE Tea Party candidate, why is it that the founders of the St Louis Tea Party (which is one of the biggest in the US at this time) absolutely detest Ron Paul's foreign policy? Why is it that the Armed Forces Tea Party doesn't support him en masse? Keep in mind that those guys are the ones saddled with the responsibility of effecting US foreign policy once it has been passed. If you want to discuss Ron Paul's legitimacy or lack thereof, I would be happy to do so. If you'd prefer to continue to make assumptions instead, that is also your choice.


Bob:
 I admit I am taking out some of my frustrations with others and letting them out on you. I dont really care about what any tea party thinks because I believe the whole movement is an empty sham. However, my comment about Ron Paul being the original tea partier comes from the fact that he is most like the tea party of 17xx (I should know dates better). I am with the founding fathers in believing that we should stay out of other countries domestic disturbances and not dig ourselves so deep into debt "spreading democracy" that we will never be able to get ourselves out. Its our current foreign policies that are slowly killing us. It is a waste of money, diplomatic currency, and lives of so many people of the military. I respect our armed services way too much to send them all over the world to defend political agendas and diplomatic relationships with horrendous leaders of backwards cultures.

So to my current point, why is Ron Paul "off the reservation" if his fiscal policies are brilliant and his foreign policy, despite not being yours, is close to the approach of our non-interventionist young USA? To me, even if it doesnt hit the mark perfectly, it still sounds better than so many of the sound bite, marketing focused zeros we call candidates (and current leaders).



 One more thought. I really respect our military, but I do have to say, I wouldn't really expect them to consciously support a candidate that would inadvertently put a lot of them out of a job. Though they are a much higher caste than the others, they still are bureaucrats when it comes down to it. (FYI, I would consider the dept. of education and HUD to be the lowest castes in the bureaucratic abomination).


Me: (I'd like to take this moment to point out that he just called me a bureaucrat.
 His foreign policy legitimizes terrorists and fails to make us safer. And his assessment of the motivations of terrorists falls far short of the mark. His foreign policy, as I have mentioned in other posts, most resembles that of Henry Wallace - one time FDR VP who suggested that the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was all Truman's fault, more or less based on the same concepts of "US meddling."


 Most of the military is so grossly underpaid that your argument on that point holds no water. The average soldier, dependent on training, can expect to make quite a bit more money when they leave the Army - they stay because they believe in what we do. That's why I gave ten years when my training as an x-ray/CT tech could have netted me much higher profits.


Bob:
I cant disagree more about the legitimizes terror. Terrorism has always existed and will always exist. It usually exists most when an outside nation plays house within another nations borders, even if invited by the national leaders (remember that WW1 was started by a terrorist act). I love when Ron Paul asks if we would allow China to set up bases in TX.


 Also, there is a real backlash against current foreign policy as well from a lot of conservative veterans. So I wouldnt lump everyone together. Perhaps we could pay our military better if we werent spreading ourselves so thin.


Me:
 I love when Ron Paul asks if we would allow China to set up bases in Texas too - because for that argument to be relevant, first we would have to launch an unprovoked attack on the Chinese mainland, then their army would have to trounce us, and then they would have to invade our land to set up said bases. The first act of war generally predates the US military base on foreign soil. And it is usually not instigated by the United States. The analogy fails to stand under the weight of its own internal inconsistencies.


We could pay our military better if we weren't paying people unemployment for two years and then some, we weren't paying people more to stay on welfare than to work a minimum wage job, and paying for more and more government intervention to fix things that aren't broken. Paul wants to cut military spending. Great. You could dispense with the entirety of the defense budget, and we would still go broke in less than 20 years paying for entitlements.


In terms of terrorist motivations - since that actually came up in the debate - Ron Paul went on and on about how it was the US occupying foreign soil that brought about the attack on 9/11. However, he is ignoring the other 50-odd points of contention listed in Osama Bin Laden's "Letter to America," and misrepresenting the interventionist idea as the primary reason for said attack. According to the terrorists themselves, the primary reason for the attack was our support for Israel, whether it came in the form of troops, sanctions or money. Second to that was military occupation, but immediately following those two were the fact that Americans tolerate homosexuality, the objectification of women and trading with interest, and we refuse to embrace Islam and Sharia.


Bob:
However, if points 1 and 2 werent true, that would be a different story. You kind of proved the point there. Any I truly believe that if 1 and 2 werent true 9/11 would have never happened.


Me:
 If points 1 and 2 weren't true, huh? So the woman who chooses to wear a short skirt and walk down a New York City street at night is too blame when she is raped? It's true that she may have facilitated the situation by being there, but you can't say that she is at fault for the attack. Ron Paul is effectively blaming the rape victim here.


Bob:
The rape analogy doesnt work. The terrorists are not justified in their actions in any way, but we weren't just wearing short shorts, we were equivelent to naked in bed with a known rapists' roommate. What they did isn't right, but it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, nor were our actions wise or innocent.


All those countries that declared war on the US, such as...... Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Cuba, Iraq, Korea? Which one of those attacked us? Even Afghanistan didnt attack us, it was those A holes who lived there and fled to one of our "allies."


Me:
When you are at war with an ideology rather than a nation, it is difficult to define the war on terror. When a nation facilitates the escape of a terrorist, they take on the culpability of the terrorists themselves - that is what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq. And when you realize that it truly is a war of ideology, the idea of it being motivated by American occupation again shrinks to the background.


Saudi Arabia ASKED for our help. Cuba effectively declared war on us by allowing nuclear weapons controlled by a hostile nation to be put there and aimed at us. Korea I believe asked for our help as well, pursuant to the Truman Doctrine and our previous aid to Greece and Turkey. And Iraq, during the first Gulf War, attacked Kuwait - who then asked for our help. Incidentally, do we have bases in Iran? Because they are constantly leveling threats, and their President (whose name I cannot spell) has listed our non-compliance with Islam and our support for Israel as the reasons for that. And one more side note before I go to class - since World War Two, how many Japanese terrorists have attacked the United States? How many German? Italian? British? How many times has Korea or Vietnam sent suicide bombers to the United States since we have occupied their land? And when was the last time a Cuban strapped on explosives and chained himself to a phone booth at LAX? The answer is that US occupation only seems to be a problem when ideological differences are the primary motivation for attacks. The US occupation/intervention then becomes the scapegoat - a convenient and more palatable reason for said attacks.


Bob:
But why are the bases still there? The base in Cuba is from pre Castro days anyway, i believe and who says we have to help any country who asks for help? The founding fathers didnt want us to have allies. Look at the mess that happened in the world wars because of alliances. And we stayed out of those wars as long as we could as we should have. In fact the only reason we got into WW1 was because we had the worst president in history at the time.


Me:
Some of the bases are still there because we have agreements in place with the host nations. Some are still there because we want the fist strike capabilities and we don't trust the nations in the surrounding area. It's true that George Washington warned against peacetime alliances, and if we had stayed that course it may have worked out well for us. But the fact of the matter is that past leaders have drawn us into alliances, and to go from our current position to an isolationist position - or a non interventionist position - in the current global climate would be an act against interest. We would create a power vacuum that people who hate us (and please don't try to tell me that they will stop hating us the second we withdraw - how many people stop hating the Yankees after they lose a single game?) will be only too happy to fill. I'm not going to disagree on your assessment of Wilson.


 I stand by my analysis that ideology is the primary driver behind terrorist attacks. Otherwise, wouldn't the IRA have launched attacks against the US for our continued support of Great Britain? As yourself why, though we have bases ALL OVER THE WORLD, we are only targeted by nations whose ideology runs to a certain degree of extremism, and demands the death of all who do not comply with said ideology.

If you tell an American that some guy wants to kill him because he believes that women should be free to dress however they like, and that religion should be a choice not mandated by the government, the American will say that person is crazy. Tell that American that the same guy wants to kill him because American troops have annoyed him in some way, and the guy starts to sound more reasonable. That's what I meant by Paul's foreign policy "legitimizing" terrorist actions. He makes the unforgivable appear to be reasonable - which actually aids terrorist groups by creating the tendency for sympathy.



Bob:
I just want us to stop paying for us to be the world's police and having to all the collateral damage that comes along with it. The past is history, but I believe our current approach is damaging to our nation's future.


Me:
 I agree that we need to get away from being the world police, but Ron Paul's approach is a little too "cold turkey" to be practical or wise. And he carries it a bit too far, erring on the side of not committing troops when the conflict is both necessary and legitimate.


Bob:
But he is the only one that seems to want to even move in that direction. I always say that I am not a very good libertarian, because I feel the party's views are extreme, but at least they are moving in the right direction. Everything George Bush did was a step in the wrong direction. This whole argument started with you saying RP was "off the reservation," however, Ive seen more ways you agree with him than not, though he be on the extreme side. At least he stands for something. All the other candidates stand for political quagmire.


Me:
 I agree with Ron Paul on domestic fiscal policy only. I agree with YOU that we need to move away from beng the world police.
I said that Ron Paul was off the reservation because at he debate he reinforced his previous statements blaming the United States for the terrorist actions that have been carried out against us. A
nd I in no way agree with that. When he says things like that, he gives legitimacy to those actions and he misleads the American public.

So he's the only guy *so far* who embraces a move away from being the world police. The wrong guy for the right reason is still the wrong guy.


Bob:
So who is better? And I still agree with RP on 9/11.


Me:
 I don't have someone picked out. I'm watching and waiting for now. And you're free to agree with him on anything you like, but based on history and Osama bin Laden's own words I can't draw the same conclusion.




That was the end of the conversation, and looking back I wish I had added the following: Also included in Bin Laden's list of grievances was the fact that America failed to punish Bill Clinton for the immoral acts he committed in the oval office...


That being said, I don't think that the average Ron Paul supporter is stupid. I think they are misled. It's like Reagan said about liberals: "It's not that they are stupid, it's just that they know so much that isn't so."