Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My State of the Union Address

President Obama has a State of the Union Address tonight. Although it's Constitutionally mandated that the President deliver a status report on the country, the past few years it's become less and less of a report and more and more of a PR statement from the chief executive. Seriously, what President in his right mind is going to come out on national television and say, "The country's in the crapper and I can't fix it"? Yet, at some point, we do need to be honest about where we are as a country. Since neither major party will do it, I'll do it.

My fellow Americans, we face difficult times economically. This is a direct result of a failure of leadership, Democrat and Republican. We have mortgaged our future as an economic superpower and the time for payment is coming due.

Much of our problem stems from one of our so-called allies, China. Right now, China owns a lot of our debt and holds something else that has a bearing on our financial future: a desire to see us fail. Of course, there are plenty of people who scoff at this notion, suggesting that China would hurt itself if it allowed us to fail. That is true for now, but there will come a point at which China will no longer need us because they will be able to subsist without us. When that point comes, nothing on Earth will stop China from calling in our debt and ruining us.

For the better part of two decades, we have taken the wrong approach with China. From George H. W. Bush to Barack Obama, China has been allowed to gain more and more economic power on the world stage because we have turned a blind eye to their atrocious human rights record. For years, we held their human rights record above their heads as a carrot to try to bring them forward. Since we've abandoned that approach, China has had no incentive to improve. Now, they rival the US in sheer economic strength, and they are not afraid to flex it.

There is a solution, though, one that will help our economy on so many levels and bring back pride in America. We need to start manufacturing again. For decades, we were the country that made stuff, but that changed. Once we moved into a service-based economy, we pretty much stopped making stuff and started making noise about stuff. But that didn't last long, either. Today, we're not even really a service-based economy because we've given up on even basic service. Let someone in India take that customer service job because we don't want it!

That has to change, and it must start today. We cannot sustain our current consumer-based economy and expect to remain an economically viable country. We need to get back to basics and rebuild our manufacturing base. When John F. Kennedy introduced the Space Race to America, we responded with great enthusiasm and put our minds to work. We have the same spirit, but it's been dormant for too long. I say it's time we unleash the power of American intellectual might.

We start by giving businesses a reason to locate in America. That will require massive tax breaks for said companies willing to take a chance on America again. With even the start up of a single manufacturing plant, there will be jobs to be had. To ensure the economic strength is restored, those jobs will need to be good paying jobs, jobs where hard work is rewarded instead of scorned. Furthermore, there will be strict enforcement of immigration laws. Any company who benefits from my proposal in any way must hire legal workers or all benefits will be stripped from them and any benefits they received will be repaid in full, plus applicable legal fees.

To meet the demands of the future requires a greater emphasis on education, particularly in the areas of math and science. We must commit to holding our students and teachers to higher standards, but we must also commit to ensuring schools have the resources they need and the incentive to excel. Therefore, we will do an assessment of the public school system from top to bottom and fix our weaknesses. That will require a level of honesty we haven't seen in years, but the end result will be worth it.

Our choice is clear: continue down the path we are on and face economic extinction, or change our path, blaze a new trail, and reform our economy. I say we roll up our sleeves and change the game. That way China can eat our dust for a change.

Thank you, and may God bless America.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fanning Out the Cards

During a recent trip to Salt Lake City, I got to thinking about the recent Arizona shooting and how the Left has used it to justify some of their pet ideas being brought back to the forefront. Here is a list of the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

- gun control
- revamping health care, especially mental health care
- reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine
- "hate speech" on talk radio
- painting the TEA Party as violent extremists

If I were more conspiratorial, I'd say this was more than just a coincidence. However, I don't think it's an orchestrated effort so much as it is the Left trying to take advantage of the Arizona shooting to bring back some ideas they've tried and failed to make the case for previously.

The problem the Left faces in this case is trying to hook too many initiatives to the Arizona shooting when the connections aren't clear or are tenuous at best. For example, gun control advocates say the access to guns by the Arizona shooter proves there's a need for stricter gun control laws. The problem with this argument is it ignores a salient fact: the Arizona shooter was legally allowed to get the gun he used under current federal gun laws.

Put another way, he beat the system.

So, adding more gun control laws will prevent another Arizona shooting? Not so much, and it's not because of the "gun culture" in Arizona, either. It's because their laws are of no consequence to those who aren't going to follow the laws in the first place. You can pass any number of laws you want, but it won't change the fact there are people who won't follow them.

Would reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine have stopped the Arizona shooter? Nope. Turns out he didn't pay attention to talk radio or the news. What good would reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine do in that case? It wouldn't.

Improving mental health care? It was suggested the shooter seek professional help on a number of occasions, but it wasn't acted upon. Spending more money on mental health won't help those who refuse help or those who ignore the warning signs that someone may need help.

The TEA Party is violent? To date, there have been zero arrests at TEA Party events due to violent crimes. You can point to the video at a Rand Paul rally of a woman being "stomped" as proof to the contrary, but only if it's taken out of its larger context. And while we're here, violence is a staple at Leftist protests (see any G8 protests) or in response to TEA Party and conservative rallies (a Leftist actually bit an old man who responded to his taunts). If the TEA Party is violent, they suck at it.

"Hate speech" on talk radio? A favorite target of the Left in this regard is Glenn Beck, a man who has advocated non-violent protest with regards to Obama's initiatives. Has he said things that could be construed as hateful? Yes, but only if you distort the context, as Media Matters loves to do. Even so, given the fact the shooter didn't listen to talk radio, taking on "hate speech" in talk radio wouldn't have stopped him.

So, to review, the Left is advancing ideas that wouldn't help anything related to the Arizona shooting, but would help them politically. And when the next tragedy occurs, something tells me they'll do the same thing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Right Message, Wrong Time

I have to applaud President Obama for his statements a couple of days ago telling Americans we can be better and not inject vile politics into a tragedy like the Arizona shooting. It was the right thing to say and I can't argue with it, given how vile the political rhetoric has gotten in the wake of the shooting.

If you're sensing a "but" coming, you're right. I do take issue with the President's statement from a timing aspect. This was a statement that could have and should have been made on the day of the shooting, preferably prior to the Paul Krugmans of the media world deciding Palin and conservatives were to blame for the shooter's actions (all prior to gathering those pesky things called facts). As it stands, Obama told people to tone down the rhetoric after the rhetorical barn door had already been opened and all the cattle had stampeded out of there.

This speaks to two aspects of the Obama Administration. First, it reinforces Obama's lack of leadership skills. When this series of events was unfolding, a leader would have had the foresight to see the potential for chaos to break out and try to curtail it before it happened. Obama didn't, and chaos ensued.

The other aspect is the pure political nature of the Obama Administration. Rahm Emmanuel loved to say "Never let a good crisis go to waste" and Obama didn't in this case. His delay in issuing a statement telling Americans to ratchet down the political rhetoric allowed people who agreed with him (such as the aforementioned Paul Krugman) to set the narrative on his behalf. The Left ran with the "Palin/Beck/Limbaugh/TEA Party is to blame" idea for days before Obama stepped in and told us to be better. That, I believe, was a political calculation designed to further demonize his opponents in a way that couldn't be linked directly to him and to give him an opportunity to appear above the fray.

Sorry, Mr. President, but you're hip deep in this with your silence. Like it or not, your silence actually enabled the heated rhetoric you're now telling us to discard, and your ideological pals on the Left aren't listening. That undercuts the heart of your message to the point it's now irrelevant.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Raise the Roof, Not the Ceiling

One of the first tests of the Republican leadership in the House is coming soon over raising the debt ceiling so the federal government can keep the doors open. Republicans have said the want spending cuts instead of raising the debt ceiling, which has made Leftists go absolutely crazy. (Well, at least crazier than they usually are.) After all, if we don't raise the debt ceiling, according to them, the economy will collapse! Vital needs will be overlooked! Ed Schultz might bite the head off a kitten! (In other words, Schultz will be himself.)

The big question I have is why do we need to raise the debt ceiling so we can keep the federal government's doors open. That's clearly not the only option, as the Republicans have so adeptly pointed out with their statements as to why the debt ceiling shouldn't be raised. When you have to make hard financial decisions to stay afloat, most people look to ways they can spend less. They don't just say, "I'm giving myself an extra $1000 this month to pay bills" and then expect everyone else to go along with it. Either you have the money or you don't. End of story.

It's not as though Washington, DC, has been careful with our money, especially not as of late. And, yes, Democrats and Republicans are responsible for that. Raising the debt ceiling enables our politicians to be irresponsible longer and without much consequence, since most people don't even know what a debt ceiling is.

House Republicans have a winner with their proposal with two caveats. First, they have to be willing to make actual cuts, not just reductions to proposed increases. I would suggest they start with some of their pet programs because it would show how serious they are about making actual cuts, not just saying they believe in making cuts. Second, they need to be willing to play on the battlefield the Left has already laid out for them, but beat them to the punch. Granted, Leftists are going to try to paint this issue as the GOP not caring about the poor by denying services to them or some such rot. The retort should be this: We're going to live by the rules the average American has to in order to live right now. You don't think that will put the Left on the defensive, especially when coupled with real spending cuts?

The risk may be great for House Republicans to oppose raising the debt ceiling, but if done right, there will be an ever greater reward waiting for them.