Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Response to the State of the Union Address

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition. ... [The Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers. ... In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." — Thomas Jefferson

Tonight, January 25, 2011, President Obama gave his second State of the Union Address. Unlike his first STOU address that was filled with wild applause from a partisan audience this one was more subdued and with much less applause, especially from the Vice President and Speaker of the House.

The address lasted a little over one hour and was filled with platitudes about investment and reducing spending —two diametrically opposed actions. I could spend a great deal of time addressing every point Obama made, but that would probably bore you to tears. Instead I will attack a few of his main points, ones that I have the greatest passion for. The text for Obama’s address is shown in italics.

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist.  But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal.  We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

This business of investing in clean energy is a scam that will line the pockets of firms like General Electric with tax dollars. If clean energy was such a desirable commodity the private sector would be doing this on their dollar. In this case investment means more government subsidies for business

When I was part of the management team at the civil engineering firm where I was a part owner we talked about investment at every management meeting. To us investment meant taking a share of the profits and putting them towards developing new markets, new technology or recruiting. Rather than pocketing some of the profits and taking a Mediterranean cruise we would use them for targeted investments with defined metrics for determining the success of the investment. We did not increase our debt to make these investments like the federal government does. In the parlance of government speak investment means spending.

Of course, the education race doesn’t end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. That’s why we’ve ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students.  And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit – worth $10,000 for four years of college.

Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today’s fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America’s community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old.  And she told me she’s earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, “I hope it tells them to never give up.”

If we take these steps – if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they’re born until the last job they take – we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Education, education and more education: This is the mantra of every president for the past two decades. How much more federal money are we going to pour down this rat hole. Over the past twenty years we have increased federal spending on education by 100% with no change in test scores or high school graduations. One or two anecdotal examples are not enough to justify any more spending.

According to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, the Department of Education will spend $107 billion in 2010, or about $900 for every U.S. household. It employs 4,100 workers and operates 169 different subsidy programs.

Subsidizing education is not one of the 18 enumerated items in the Constitution. What is the sense for the states sending their citizen’s tax dollars to Washington only to have them diminished by the salaries and benefits of 4,100 federal employees and then sent back to the states burdened with unfunded mandates? We can cut the budget by $107 billion by doing away with the Department of Education and let the states and local school districts deal with education spending on a local level where the citizens will have a greater voice in how the money is spent.

Our infrastructure used to be the best – but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports.  Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a “D.”

We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, and constructed the interstate highway system. The jobs created by these projects didn’t just come from laying down tracks or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp.

Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble these efforts.

We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

This undoubtedly one of the largest boondoggles the federal government can spend money on. Already several states (Ohio and Wisconsin) have rejected federal monies for high speed rail. I have just published a blog on this issue and I stict to what I have written.

As for roads and bridges these should be paid for by the states from there gas tax dollars. This is a pure user tax. You purchase gasoline, drive your car or truck over the roads and you pay for the road. Gas taxes paid to the federal government should go to the highway trust fund and returned to the states with lower taxpaying citizens for roads that we all use in interstate commerce. The highway trust fund should not be robbed to pay for other programs, which is a common practice in Washington, D.C. New interstate highways or freeways should be built by the private sector and financed through tolls, as most of the world does. Environmental regulations will have to be streamlined so the process will not take twenty years or there will be no investors.

We are living with a legacy of deficit-spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people’s pockets.

But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable.  Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.

So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years.  I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.

Freezing inflated federal salaries will not cut it. We need a rollback on salaries and a cut of at least 25% of the federal work force. There are just too many federal employees doing the jobs that could be performed by the private sector, when needed. What the federal government needs is the “Yellow Pages” test. If you can find the service in the yellow pages you buy it on a competitive basis. You don’t hire life-long federal staff to do jobs the private sector could do just as well.

There are many more points in Obama’s address that I can take issue with, but this is enough for now.

The big test is to what the Republican House will do in the months to come. Last November they were given a mandate to cut spending, not by a few dollars, but by at least two trillion dollars. They have their job cut out for them and they better get on with it or there will be another big change in 2012.

You can read the entire text of the State of the Union Address by clicking here

Can Sarah Palin be President?

"I come before you to report on the state of our Union, and I'm pleased to report that after four years of united effort, the American people have brought forth a nation renewed, stronger, freer, and more secure than before. Four years ago we began to change, forever I hope, our assumptions about government and its place in our lives. Out of that change has come great and robust growth -- in our confidence, our economy, and our role in the world. Tonight America is stronger because of the values that we hold dear. We believe faith and freedom must be our guiding stars, for they show us truth, they make us brave, give us hope, and leave us wiser than we were. Our progress began not in Washington, DC, but in the hearts of our families, communities, workplaces, and voluntary groups which, together, are unleashing the invincible spirit of one great nation under God. Four years ago we said we would invigorate our economy by giving people greater freedom and incentives to take risks and letting them keep more of what they earned. We did what we promised, and a great industrial giant is reborn." — Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address, January, 1985

In Canada jokes about Newfoundlanders are similar to Polish jokes in the United States, i.e. How many Poles to change a light bulb — four, one to stand on a chair and hold the bulb and the other three to turn the chair.

Every nation has an ethnic group that they like to disparage through coarse humor and the Canadians are no different. For the sophisticates of Vancouver, Windsor, Ottawa, Toronto and Quebec it’s the hard working fishermen in Newfoundland or “Newfies” as they are called. One such joke about a Newfie and a mirror goes thusly:

After living in the remote wilderness of Newfoundland all his life, an old Newfie decided it was time to visit St. John’s. In one of the stores he picks up a mirror and looks in it. Not ever having seen one before, he remarked at the image staring back at him. 'How 'bout that!' he exclaims, 'Here's a picture of me Fadder.' He bought the mirror thinking it was a picture of his dad, but on the way home he remembered his wife didn't like his father, so he hung it in the shed, and every morning before leaving to go fishin', he would go there and look at it.

His wife began to get suspicious of these many trips to the shed. So, one day after her husband left, she went to the shed and found the mirror. As she looked into the glass, she fumed, 'So that's the ugly bitch he's runnin' around with.'

I use this example not to poke fun a people from Newfoundland, but to illustrate a point. The Newfie joke is a very simplified way of explaining Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. When people have closely held beliefs and these beliefs are challenged by reality or facts many people will cling to those closely held beliefs. In the Newfie joke both the fisherman and his wife believed the image in the mirror to be something it was not, in psychiatry this is called cognitive dissonance.

When it comes to electing a president of the United States we have some closely held beliefs. A few of those beliefs are; a woman cannot be president, a President must have an elite education or military background, a president must come from the anointed class, a class anointed by the media and political elites.

Some of our worst presidents came from this class; Woodrow Wilson, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Barak Obama to name a few. Some of our better, such as Abraham Lincoln, Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan, did not.

In more recent memory Reagan is a prime example of how the American people choose a president who was not endorsed by the political elites or the media. Christopher Chantrill writes in the American Thinker; “Back in the 1970s, Ronald Reagan was a wild-eyed right-wing conservative who could never be elected president.  So a young conservative like me, already a devotee of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, went to my local precinct caucus in Washington State in early 1980 as a Bush supporter.  Bush was more electable, you see.”

“At the precinct caucus I discovered something that changed my mind.  In the Bush corner with me was a nice older couple.  But across the room were the unwashed folks in the Reagan corner.  They looked like technicians and construction guys, and they looked like they ought to be Democrats.  And there were a lot of them.  Ah ha, I thought.  Something is afoot in America. So I switched to the Reagan side in that caucus and lived happily ever after.”

Here we are in 2011, and nothing has changed. The popular, populist candidate of the ordinary working stiff is Sarah Palin, and the educated classes just can't get their wine glasses around the idea of a Sarah Palin as president.  Where's the experience, they wonder?  Where's the well-rounded education in political philosophy? Where's the record as a successful administrator?  Where's the Ivy League degree?

Today the media is filled with names of potential candidates for the GOP presidential nomination: Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, James Bolton, Gary Johnson and even Donald Trump are names tossed about on the nightly talk shows. Some of these are media favorites, especially Gingrich, Romney and Huckabee. John McCain was also favored by the media, but not by the American voter.

Most presidents come from the ranks of state governors. This is probably because governors are in essence CEOs of states. The good ones are used to using staff to make policy while they focus on the bigger vision for their state. The Germans figured this out two hundred years ago when they created the General Staff for their armed forces, complete with staff colleges. What are our modern policy analysts in their think-tanks but the general staff of the nation's political forces?

The big idea of the general staff concept is to free the leader from the details so he can concentrate on the big picture and win the battle. In warfare, we have the commander and his chief of staff.  Already at the Battle of Waterloo the Prussian army was led by Blücher, with chief of staff Gneisenau to do all the brainiac stuff. To put it another way, Blücher, would win the battle while Gneisenau’s job was to win the war, and then the peace. In politics, we have the candidate up front and his consultant in the back room.

The name of the game is winning elections. This means that electoral politicians are like football players; they are the best they can be at what they do. They are professionals, experts in winning elections. As successful businessmen are experts at winning in the marketplace successful politicians are experts at winning votes.

In 2012, Republicans will be nominating for president a professional politician to win an election.  We cannot worry about administrative skills and legislative tactics and academic pedigrees.  That comes later, in 2013.  For now, what matters is the skills of the professional politician: framing issues, sensing the mood of the people, moving the center, and telling the people what they want to hear, and doing it again and again.

We already know that Sarah Palin is No.1 when it comes to framing issues.  Back in 2009, the summer of the "death panels," old warhorse Pat Buchanan expressed his appreciation of her skills when he wrote, "Of Sarah Palin it may be said, the lady knows how to frame an issue." No wonder. Palin has been a professional politician since 1992.

Like Lincoln and Reagan Palin has a vision for the United States. Lincoln was not an administrator with a solution for every problem. He believed in a union of states without slavery and when elected he left the conduct of the Civil War to his generals — even his disappointment in some of them. Regan, like Lincoln, had a vision and simple message that resonated with the electorate. That message was the destruction of the Soviet Union, small government and freedom for the individual. These men had clear and uncluttered visions for the nation. They did not clutter the scene with details for every possible issue. They stuck to the vision knowing they needed to get elected before they could do anything. Gingrich, Romney and Huckabee seem to have too many answers, but no real vision. Even Obama had a vision —albeit one the people are now rejecting.

In her first book, Going Rogue, Palin called herself a "common-sense conservative" and repeated the notion every second sentence as she traveled around the nation on her book tour.  Last fall, as she promoted her second book, and the leopard changed its spots — just a little.  Now Palin was a "common-sense constitutional conservative." Who wouldn't prefer that to an ideological rule-by-czar liberal?

It just so happens that Palin has a particular connection with the white working class, a large demographic that is up for grabs in 2012.

In the winter of 2011, President Obama is clearly tacking to the middle; he would be a fool not to. Already, his polls are improving. It will take the best politician, the best in America with a passion for their vision, to spoil his wind.

If there's a better conservative politician around than Sarah Palin, we'd better know his name by the summer of 2012.

Jerry Brown's California Budget Proposal

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages." — Adam Smith

In November of 2010 the people of California chose Jerry Brown to be the person to lead the State out of its fiscal demise. Now that Brown is governor of the Golden State he has stated addressing the state's massive $25.4 billion 18-month budget deficit ($8.2 billion for the remainder of the current fiscal year and $17.2 billion in FY 2011-12). Thus, his first governor's budget proposal has plenty for everyone to hate. Below I will attempt to outline the good, the bad, and the ugly of the proposed budget.

The Good

First, the good. The governor's budget contains $12.5 billion in necessary cuts. These include significant cuts to health, welfare, and higher education, as well as pay cuts of 8% to 10% for state employees not covered by collective bargaining agreements. Curiously, Democrats legislators and labor unions are showing begrudging support for the cuts from the new Democratic governor, despite the fact that they vehemently opposed such cuts, including many of the very same reductions, when they were proposed merely a year or two ago by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. According to a Los Angeles Times article, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) admitted, "I hate the cuts, but I am not going to reject the cuts." Added Barbara Blake, a registered nurse and state secretary of the United Nurses Association of California, "We're feeling a little better about this budget." The end of redevelopment funds would also be a good thing, as government should not be engaged in such subsidies.

The proposal would also rely on shifting some services currently provided by the state to local governments via block grants. Counties would be responsible for things such as foster care, adoptions, child abuse prevention programs, outpatient mental health treatment, psychiatric hospitals, and some firefighting duties. In addition, a number of prison inmates (defined as those convicted of "nonviolent, non-serious, non-sex offenses" who had no previous criminal records) would be housed in county jails instead of the more expensive state prisons. As Brown explains, "My proposed restructuring will return decisions and authority—as much as possible—to cities and counties and schools. And, in that way, there will be greater accountability, transparency, and hopefully citizen participation because government will be closer to the people." This is a welcome development for all the reasons the governor stated. To the extent that government is necessary at all, decision-making authority should be provided at the most local level possible (and, ideally, the individual level).

Gov. Brown was absolutely correct when he asserted during his press conference Monday on the budget proposal, "For 10 years, this state has put together its budget with gimmicks and tricks and unrealistic expectations that have pushed this state deeper and deeper into debt." Anticipating arguments that the state might try to address its fiscal crisis through borrowing or "kicking the can down the road," Brown said, "The problem is, next year, there's not that much more money, but then we'll have debt service and a much bigger burden to pay back. It's better to take our medicine now and get this state on a balanced footing." These are important acknowledgments, especially for a state that has been addicted to spending, for the first step in breaking an addiction is to admit the problem.

The Bad

That admission must be qualified, however. Gov. Brown relies on $12 billion in tax measures to plug the remainder of the budget gap. This comes primarily from extending the "temporary" tax hikes imposed as part of the 2009 budget measure for an additional five years (assuming, of course, that the state is not still spending everything it can and more, requiring yet another extension of these "temporary" tax increases!). In addition to acknowledging that borrowing and gimmicks will not solve the state's budget problems, the governor and the Legislature must admit that spending, not revenue, is the real culprit.

California has experienced fiscal straits for many years, including long before the latest recession. The problem was that even when revenues were growing strongly the state's appetite for spending was insatiable and surpassed revenues even when its coffers were flush. And, even after suffering a significant decline of nearly $20 billion in General Fund revenues from FY 2007-08 to FY 2008-09 during the depths of the recession, revenues have actually grown $11.5 billion (14%) in the two years since.

California is already one of the highest-taxed states in the nation and consistently ranks at or near the bottom of states in terms of business climate. This is why we have seen an exodus of individuals, businesses, and jobs to more tax- and business-friendly states like Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah in recent years. The state must focus on encouraging economic growth by simply removing the shackles it has placed on economic activity by reducing taxes and burdensome regulations.

The proposed budget also falls short by failing to incorporate a number of other reforms that could help plug the budget gap and get the state back on the road to fiscal responsibility. I have written about a number of these before but. A good place to start would be the 1,200+ recommendations, estimated to save $32 billion over five years, made by the California Performance Review Commission in 2004 (and largely ignored since then). The state should also aggressively pursue privatization and employ a "Yellow Pages test" of state services. Basically, if the state is performing a function that can be found in the phone book, either the state should not be in that business in the first place or it should at least put those services up for competitive bid. Implementing priority-based and performance-based budgeting and spending/revenue and debt limits are also necessary to improve transparency, control spending, and result in a more rational budget-making process.

The Ugly

While Gov. Brown's proposed budget addresses many of the state's fiscal issues, it completely ignores the 800-pound gorilla in the room: state employee pay and benefits. Unionized state workers were conspicuously spared from the budget pain, despite the fact that U.S. government statistics consistently show that government workers typically earn higher salaries and significantly higher benefits than their private-sector counterparts, and that non-unionized workers are facing 8-10% pay cuts. Cuts to unionized state employees would require collective bargaining, but why isn't this being proposed, especially considering how state employees have largely been shielded from the effects of the recession while the private sector has been forced to adjust? And then there are the retirement benefits. According to several academic studies, California's unfunded pension liabilities lie somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 billion to $500 billion. That's several tens of thousands of dollars per California household—and that does not even include an additional $50+ billion in unfunded retiree health care obligations.

I realize that the governor is focused primarily on filling the budget gap in the immediate term, and that savings from pension reforms would take a few years before they really started to accumulate, but any serious effort to address the state's serious fiscal problems must incorporate state employee compensation reforms. Chief among these are: (1) switching new state employees from the existing defined-benefit pensions to 401(k)-style defined-contribution retirement plans in line with compensation levels received in the private sector and (2) implementing a constitutional amendment that would require voter approval of future state employee benefit increases.

Governor Brown, while attacking some of the State’s fiscal problems is ignoring (no doubt for political reasons to serve his SEIU backers) is skirting the one that 800 pound gorilla. In 2003, amidst another budget crunch that was almost as dire as the one faced today the Reason Foundation carried out a comprehensive review of the state budget. The culmination of this effort was an analysis and set of recommendations that they called the Citizens' Budget. The study contained a 10-point plan to putting the state government back on the right path. The recommendations included the following:
  1. Avoid accounting gimmicks
  2. Acknowledge that spending--not revenue--is the problem (California is already one of the highest-taxed states in the nation and revenues have grown significantly until very recently due to the recession)
  3. Adopt a performance-based budgeting process so that funding decisions can better be tied to program results and priorities
  4. Consolidate duplicative governmental functions and eliminate some of the hundreds of unnecessary boards and commissions
  5. Adopt personnel reforms such as reducing the number of state employees, reducing pension obligations for future employees to get workers' benefits back in line with compensation in the private sector, and provide incentive bonuses to state employees for innovative ideas that lead to cost savings
  6. Increase the use of competitive sourcing (The state could achieve significant cost savings and/or service improvements by contracting out numerous services to the private sector.  Moreover, it should implement a "Yellow Pages" test: if the state is performing services that private companies listed in the phone book are already performing, then the state probably shouldn't be in those businesses in the first place.)
  7. Implement education reform by cutting red tape, and adopt funding reforms such as merit pay for teachers and weighted student funding
  8. Reform health and social service programs by eliminating optional Medicaid services and reducing the waste from fraud through the use of recovery auditing
  9. Switch to a biennial budget and impose a real spending and revenue cap
  10. Improve the state's business climate by reducing regulations and taxes that drive people and businesses out of the state.
These ideas are not new, but they are at least as relevant today as they were back in 2003.  It is time for the governor and the Legislature to dust off the reports and utilize them to make real changes to the way California's state government operates, rather than merely trying to tinker a bit at the edges and kick the can a little further down the road.

In 1996 I was a member of an eight person peer review panel, mandated by the California Legislature, to review the project management policies and performance of CALTRANS, the state’s transportation agency. The panel consisted of private sector and public sector leaders.

Our review found that CALTRANS could not bring any project to fruition on time or on budget. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but the number one culprit was that the CALTRANS mangers did not have the ability to choose their team members and outsource for services they could obtain quicker and cheaper in the private sector. This caused using staff members who were under-utilized so they could justify their continued employment. This featherbedding obviously increased the labor costs for the project. They also had to use staff members that were not really qualified to perform the task required of them.

When we completed our report we presented it to the director of CALTRANS along with some of his senior staff. After an hour’s discussion the director accepted the report thanked us for our good work and then told us he believed the problem was that CALTRANS did not have adequate project management software. The report was given to the legislative analyst and the director purchased $500 thousand dollars in new project management software. No changes were made in the staffing or outsourcing polices as this would run counter to the dictates of the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG), the union representing the 25,000 CALTRANS employees. This is just one small example of the power and influence of the civil service unions in Sacramento. It is also why I am doubtful that Governor Brown, a person dedicated to the public service unions, will be able to make the changes that will bring California to fiscal health.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A High Priced Train Wreck

"The ideas which now pass for brilliant innovations and advances are in fact mere revivals of ancient errors, and a further proof of the dictum that those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it." — Henry Hazlitt

The new Republican controlled House of Representatives is looking for ways to cut the budget and save billions of dollars. They are looking at items such as:
  • Reducing the federal workforce by 15% — not enough
  • Eliminating earmarks — good-but a drop in the bucket
  • Cutting the education budget —good
  • Cutting farm subsidies —good
  • Means testing for social security
  • Cutting the budget for the DEA and DHS
These are just a few of the items on the table to produce a $2.5 trillion dollar reduction in the federal budget and roll it back to 2008 levels.

There is another item that should be cut that I have not seen in the Republican plan —High Speed Rail

he Obama administration is sending billions of stimulus dollars around the country for rail projects that make no sense and that, if they are ever built, will be a drag on taxpayers indefinitely.

When incoming governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio cancelled high-speed rail projects, Transportation secretary Ray LaHood refused to let them spend the dollars on other forms of transportation and sent the funds instead to California and other states.

Walker argued that Wisconsin didn’t need $810 billion for a 78-mile line between Madison and Milwaukee because there’s already a transportation artery — Interstate 94 — that enables people to get from one city to the other in a little more than an hour. (I once drove that route to have dinner in Milwaukee.)

Kasich’s rationale? “They tried to give us $400 million to build a high-speed train that goes 39 miles an hour.” Train boosters countered that its top speed was 79 miles per hour — about the same as many drivers on Interstate 71.

High-speed rail may sound like a good idea. It works, and reportedly even makes a profit, in Japan and France. If they can do it, why can’t we?

A look at some proposed projects gives the answer. Take the $2.7 billion, 84-mile line connecting Orlando and Tampa that incoming Florida governor Rick Scott is mulling over.

It would connect two highly decentralized metro areas that are already connected by Interstate 4. Urban scholar Wendell Cox, writing for the Reason Foundation, found that just about any door-to-door trip between the two metro areas would actually take longer by train than by auto — and would cost more. Why would any business traveler take the train?

As for tourists headed for Orlando’s theme parks, there is already a convenient rental car operation, with some of the nation’s lowest rates, at the Orlando airport. Why would parents get on a train, pay a separate fare for each kid, and then rent a car at the station when you could more easily get one at the airport?

As Cox points out, cost estimates for the Florida train seem underestimated and the ridership estimates seem wildly inflated. If he’s even partially right, Florida taxpayers will be paying billions for this white elephant over the years.

Other projects seem just as iffy. California is spending $4.3 billion on a 65-mile stretch of track between Corcoran and Borden in the Central Valley, which is supposed to be part of an 800-mile network connecting San Diego and Sacramento. Its projected cost was $32 billion in 2008 and $42 billion in 2009, suggesting a certain lack of precision.

Or consider the $1.1 billion track improvement on the Chicago–St. Louis line in Illinois. It would reduce travel time between the cities by 48 minutes, but the trip would still take over four and a half hours at an average speed of 62 miles per hour.

None of these high-speed projects are really high-speed. Japan has bullet trains that average 171 miles per hour, France’s TGV averages 149 miles per hour. At such speeds you can travel faster door-to-door by train than by plane over distances up to 500 miles.

In contrast, Amtrak’s ACELA from Baltimore to Washington averages 84 miles per hour and the Orlando-Tampa train would average 101 miles per hour. That makes the train uncompetitive with planes on trips more than 300 miles.

Now take a look at the map and see how many major metro areas with densely concentrated central business districts and large numbers of business travelers are within 300 miles of each other. The answer is not very many outside of the Northeast corridor between Washington and Boston. Our geography is different from France’s or Japan’s.

Moreover, to achieve the speed of French and Japanese high-speed rail, you need dedicated track so you don’t have to slow down for freight trains. To get dedicated track, you need a central government that is willing and able to ignore environmental protests and not-in-my-backyard activists. Japan and France have such governments. We don’t.

The argument that High Speed Rail will create jobs is pure fantasy. Yes a few jobs will be created for the maintenance, operation and train crews. There will be some temporary jobs for the construction crews, but the big ticket spending will go the Japanese and Europeans for the steel rails, train cars, locomotives and electrification systems. For additional information you can see my previous blogs by clicking here and here.

So we are spending billions on high-speed rail that isn’t really high-speed, that will serve largely affluent business travelers, and that will need taxpayer subsidies forever. This should be a no-brainer for a Congress bent on cutting spending. High-speed rail is a fast way to waste taxpayer money.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kudos to Southwest Airlines

"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." — James Madison

Grandfather Mark Dickinson was in Los Angeles on business when he received the tragic news that his 3-year old grandson had been the victim of an unspeakable murder, as the victim, a baby, was about to get taken off life-support. He rushed to LAX to catch a Southwest flight so he could be with the child a last time and comfort his daughter. But—because LAX is an aggravating mix of slow-moving security theater minus any security, where TSA agents quite literally have God complexes and often make a point of not making exceptions—two hours weren't enough. He begged to get rushed through the checkpoint but received no help from airport employees, and he only got through security after his plane was supposed to have taken off. Eve when he tried to explain that he needed to catch the flight so he could see his grandchild before he died the TSA agent replied, “well that’s a new one — a dying grandchild” and told him to go the back of the line.

Then the strangest thing happened. A basic act of human decency, coupled with just a little bit of independent thought, ended with him making the flight after all.

When Dickinson got to the gate, still in his socks since he had sprinted across the terminal, he was shocked to see that the plane door was still open. He was then met by the pilot and the ticketing agent, who said that they had held the flight for him and were sorry for his loss. The pilot then explained a bit more, noting that he had simply declined to get on the plane and move it away from the gate, and expressed his regrets again. The pilot is quoted as telling Dickenson when he arrived at the gate; “They can't go anywhere without me, and I'm not going anywhere without you,"

Apparently Dickinson's wife had called Southwest Airlines and asked them to hold the plane, and their employees responded by acting like human beings. The final delay was only around 12 minutes, but as airline journalist Christopher Elliott noted when he broke the story, that's an eternity for any airline, especially for the hyper-efficient Southwest. Not only would this hold affect Southwest Airlines, it would also wash through the entire domestic air traffic system.

But the company is sticking by its pilot, saying they're proud of him for doing the right thing. Meanwhile the story has gone international, a trend to which we're only too happy to contribute. The pilot acted exactly the way we like all airline employees to act, mixing professional responsibilities with a bit of common sense and then acting appropriately. Southwest responded in exactly the way we want all airlines to act, backing that decision. You can read more details of the story by clicking here.

At Los Angeles International Airport TSA routinely a cut slack for celebrities and escorts them to the front of the security check line, especially if the press or cameras are present. But in Dickerson’s case the TSA looked upon him as just another citizen and choose to ignore his plea and even ridiculed him. This is what bureaucrats do, especially the low level ones. They feel empowered to act like a God in performing their $12 dollar an hour job. There is no room for humanity or compassion.

I can understand the reluctance to take every case of privilege seriously, but these so called trained security agents are supposed to be trained to see through falsehoods and lies. If they are not, then what purpose do they serve? If robots can build automobiles and computers they surely could run the scanning equipment at airports.

Just imagine what your health care will be like of ObamaCare is not repealed. These same bureaucrats will be making decisions affecting your life. When I was in the former Soviet Union I saw, first hand, the power of the low level, God-like bureaucrats. While attending a performance of the ballet Giselle in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) my colleague and I stepped out during the intermission period o see what refreshments were available. We found a stand selling ice cream so we got in line to purchase a dish. When we got to the counter we were met by a woman with a scowl who served us the ice cream. It was the way she served it that caught me by surprise. She scooped the ice cream into two small metal bowls and placed each bowl on a balance scale. She removed the ice cream from one bowl to make sure the scales were in exact balance. This low level state employee was making a decision based on a bureaucratic rule that no one person should receive more ice cream than any other person. This was an example of communism in its purest form. No humanity, no chance of error of giving one person a gram more of ice cream, no compassion, no empowerment to make a decision. Just a robotic adherence to the policy.

On the other hand the Southwest Airlines pilot was willing to risk his 6 figure salary on a decision to hold his plane at the gate for an extra 12 minutes based on a call for compassion from Dickerson’s wife. He was also placing Southwest Airlines at risk for a stiff fine from the FAA for not leaving the gate at the stated departure time.

For the pilot showing his humanity and for the airline management in empowering him to make this decision I give Southwest Airlines kudos. This is what happens when humans run things. Dickerson was able to make it home to say good bye to his grandson thanks to a brave pilot and a Airline that puts people first.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Uncivil Civility of the Left

"Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing." — Edmund Burke

If you have ever read the comments section of a blog or a YouTube video you have seen some of the vilest and uncivil comments posted. These comments are not limited to just the comments sections, but also to the blog, and even so called respected columnists in our Major newspapers. You will also see them on some of the cable channel news shows like MSNBC. The majority of these comments and attacks come from the left.

The so called progressive left is composed of people, who when their ideology is challenged will not attempt to break the argument, instead they will attack the person or persons making the argument. This is what those who cannot accept a differing point of view or opinion do. This is especially true among the so called “educated” left —the college students and graduates that have had their heads so filled with left-wing ideology during their college years.

This has been going on for years. It began during the Vietnam War and has been on the rise since. Our society has accepted this vile discourse as free speech —which it is. The problem is that these left-wing groups believe they have a monopoly on free speech. They believe they have the right to say anything they want while their conservative opponents are called all sorts of vile names and labeled racists or homophobes if they disagree with their ideology. This is what people like Saul Alinsky advocated in his book Rules for Radicals — the playbook of the left.

Simon Jenkins of the UK Guardian writes in his column regarding free speech in the United States; “Today's culprit is freedom of speech, or at least the speech of the American right and its broadcast cheerleaders. Shock-jock radio presenters feed on biased television news to present a view of the world divided between goodies and baddies. The baddies are always on the brink of victory and must be confronted with virile aggression. Language that might not disturb a balanced mind can clearly stimulate and legitimize an unbalanced one.”

“The vitriol and inaccuracy of the campaign against Obama's public health reforms last year were like those against abortion and homosexuality. To many Europeans, the echo across the Atlantic came from a people isolated from the outside world and unable to handle today's social and scientific progress. The debate was infused with nastiness and xenophobia, as if the US was a land composed of tribes bred only to hate the outside world, and often themselves.”

Jenkins continues; “Free speech is a Hobbesian jungle. It requires a marketplace where the trade in information, ideas and opinion has a framework of rules, including rules that maintain fair and open competition. Most will be voluntary, but others need enforcement. The US Supreme Court last year freed from control all political campaign gifts from corporations, on the grounds that this would be a breach of free speech. Ronald Dworkin's rebuttal of this "devastating decision for democracy" in the New York Review of Books pointed out that freedom of speech was hopeless if vulnerable to the bullying of wealth. Obama warned that it would "open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections".

“Yet Obama himself declined to champion the "fairness doctrine" that once governed broadcasting licenses awarded by America's Federal Communications Commission, and governs them throughout Europe. The doctrine was rescinded in 1987 under pressure from the right, stimulating the growth of one-sided broadcasting outlets such as shock-jock radio stations and Fox News. While Jon Stewart and others have counter-punched from the left, it strains credulity to maintain that this polarization [sic] has had no impact on the virulence – and immobility – of American public life.”

Simon is a typical left wing elite with absolutely no understanding or respect for our Constitution. The UK has no constitution and all of their rights stem from the king or parliament. Our rights stem from God, which are inalienable. Europeans do not understand this fact. Also, Jenkins makes no reference to the hate speech from the left in his misguided analysis of our nation. You can read Mr. Jenkins column by clicking here.

No one figure in this country is targeted by the left-wing hate speech than Sarah Palin. She has become the poster girl for hate from the left. “Michelle Malkin writes; "There are many heroes who showed indomitable courage and grace under fire during [the] horrific Tucson massacre. Blowhard Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was not one of them.  Sounding more like an MSNBC groupie than a responsible law enforcement official, Dupnik baselessly suggested that the shooting was part of a larger conspiracy and railed against “vitriol” from limited-government activists who are stoking “anger against elected officials.” Dupnik's mouth has done more to stoke self-inflicted ire against elected government clowns than anything the right could muster against him. Had the hyper-partisan Democrat been more in tune with his job than the media airwaves, the murderous, maniacal gunman might have been stopped. Decent Americans understand that he and his civilian counterparts have traveled a smear too far. Despite desperate attempts by the progressive left to pin the massacre on the 'harsh tone' of its political opponents, a vast majority of Americans reject the cynical campaign to criminalize conservatism, suppress political free speech and capitalize on violent crime for electoral gain. At the risk of being accused of inciting violence, you might say they've done gone and shot themselves in the foot."  You can read Malkin’s web post listing all of the vicious attacks on Palin by clicking here. The list is quite long, but well worth reading as it shows the absolutely insane hatred of her from the left

“For Leftism there are no sacred texts. The demotion of the sacred in general and of sacred texts specifically is at the center of Leftist thinking. ... If, to cite the most obvious example, the Bible is sacred, then I have to revere it more than I revere my own feelings in assessing what is right and wrong. But for the Left, what is right and wrong is determined by every individual's feelings, not by anything above the individual. This is a major reason why the Left, since Karl Marx, has been so opposed to Judeo-Christian religion. For Judaism and Christianity, God and the Bible are above the self. Indeed, Western civilization was built on the idea that the individual and society are morally accountable to God and to the moral demands of that book. That was the view, incidentally, of every one of the Founders, including deists such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. This is entirely unacceptable to the Left. [T]he bottom line is this: If it [the Constitution] is not regarded as sacred, it is nothing more than what anyone believes about any social issue. Which is precisely what the Left wants it to be — providing, of course, that the 'anyone is a liberal. For the Left, there are no sacred texts. There are only sacred (liberal) feelings." — columnist Dennis Prager

The Democrat Party and their left-wing minions in the media have taken the Tucson shooting as an opportunity to once again control the narrative and many Republicans and conservatives are allowing them to do so. In a recent poll 52% of Americans now disapprove of the Tea Party. This is the same Tea Party that was so popular last November. What the left could not accomplish during the election they have accomplished by trading on the victims of the Tucson shooting — discredit the Tea Party and the good and honest Americans who support their principles of constitutional government. This was made evident by the University of Arizona passing out T-shirts with Obama’s Organizing for America’s slogan “Together We Thrive” emblazoned on them at last week’s “memorial service’ for the victims of the shooting. The slogan was taken right of the Organizing for America’s web site.

It would be generous to call this the McCarthyism of the left. It is more in tune to Stalinism. It is right out of the Alinsky playbook, Rules for Radicals — rule no, 5: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon and Rule no. 13: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

While progressivism was born of an earnest desire to advance personal freedom, the ideology devolved into a collection of approaches that would lock people in the chains of a centrally planned society, with progressive elites withholding the keys to the locks.  We need look no farther than our progressive-in-chief for the embodiment of the stubborn pseudo-intellectual who views himself as society's infallible guiding hand. Barack Obama wants government to 'spread the wealth' by taking wealth from high earners who spread it more broadly and deeply than government ever could. ... Obama believes that people are wasting valuable time 'pushing away challenges, looking backwards' — presumably focusing on really dreadful stuff like wholesome values, common sense, and facts evidenced by history. Barack the magic driver says that Republicans critical of his magic bus “can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.”  A hideous infestation called progressivism has uglified the White House and the Democrat Party. The tyrannous legislative and regulatory rampages that Obama and the Democrats undertook made something else clear. Until progressivism is flushed from the party, Democrats must never again be entrusted with substantial influence in government.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bipartisanship, the Big Myth

"It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions." — Thomas Jefferson

When President Obama gives his State of the Union address next Tuesday (January 25, 2011) the Republicans and Democrats will sit together in the Capitol. They decided to take this action in the name of bipartisanship and civility. Isn’t this just so Kumbaya — something the lefty folk singer Pete Seeger would love?

Once again we have another example of the Republicans being hoodwinked by the Democrats and the left-wing media, and the left-wing taking control of the narrative. The Republicans in their magnanimity after the November elections and the recent shooting at the Tucson Safeway store think this will give them an air of civility and bipartisanship — how foolish they are. Did Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed promote civility and bipartisanship during the 110th and 111th Congress? Did President Obama promote bipartisanship during the first two years of his administration? Remarks like; “John the election is over” and “they [the Republicans] can ride in the back of the bus” sound like civility and bipartisanship? The Answer is No!

This Republic has never been a bipartisan nation — it was designed that way. From the very beginning with the Federalists vs. the Anti Federalists to the animosity between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams this nation has been eschewed bipartisanship. Bipartisanship did not exist during the run up to the Civil War. It did not exist in the Wilson, Roosevelt or Johnson administration and it certainly did not exist in the 111th Congress.

The losers of any election always call for bipartisanship. This is their ploy to retain a seat at the table. When the Democrats were in control of the 110th and 111th Congress the media called the Republicans vile names and the party of no. Now that the Republicans control the House by a large margin the media and Democrats are calling for civility and bipartisanship, in other words they want the Republicans to make nice with them — and the Republicans are falling for their ploy. This is like the school bully, who consistently beat on the 97-pound weakling and then wanting to make up when the weakling finished his Charles Atlas course.  Bullies always act this way and the last two Congresses were composed of left-wing bullies.

If bipartisanship is so important why don’t we just have one political party? Then If this were to happen we would have a dictatorship with no dissenting voices — elections would be based on popularity and good looks rather than ideas and principals. The voters in last November’s election rejected the ideas and principals of the Democrats and they don’t like. They want to keep the narrative in their camp and the Republicans are going to let them. Mark my words, in the days to come every time the Democrats don’t get their way they will raise the clarion of raw partisanship of the majority. This is why the citizens threw out the Democrats — they did not want them getting their way anymore.

At the time of the founding of the Republic newspapers were blatantly partisan and they let you know it. The papers were tied to political parties — that’s why they carried the name Democrat or Republican on their mastheads. In order to increase circulation and revenue newspapers began using names like Observer, Times or Independent, but their partisanship still showed on the editorial pages and even in the slant they gave news stories.

This conditioned carried over to the broadcast media and was the reason for the so called “Fairness Doctrine.” The purpose of the Fairness Doctrine, enforced by the Federal Communications Commission, was to force broadcast radio and TV stations to present a balanced view of in their news and opinion programs. The FCC’s reasoning for this was that these broadcast stations used the public airways for the transmission of their programs.

The Fairness Doctrine did not work well as a TV station could have a left-wing program in the prime 6:00 pm news slot and then runs an opposing viewpoint in the 11:30 pm slot. Also, the doctrine did not work at all with National Public Radio and TV — they have always been a left leaning outlet.

With the advent and growth of cable and listener supported radio (XM and Cirrus) the Fairness Doctrine did not apply. During the Reagan administration the Fairness Doctrine was done away with. Reagan believed all points of view should be aired (like newspapers) and the consumers of the media would make their choices. This led to incredible rise of conservative talk radio. The public choose to listen to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative talkers rather to the voices on the left. This drove the left-wing media crazy. Yes, they control the print media (which is failing due to the internet) but they came in a dismal second to the conservative shows. On any given day Rush Limbaugh has ten times the listeners as the New York Times has readers and at least double the listeners of CBS, NBC or ABC news and talk shows. Fox News dominates the cable news industry.

While conservatives believe they are losing the battle (ops— contest) of news and opinion dissemination, in fact they are not and the left-wing media knows. This is evidenced by the quick and massive reaction by conservatives to the accusations by the left that they were somehow responsible for the Tucson shooting. The left has lost power so they are screaming louder. This is the way they work — I’ll talk louder so you can understand me. Conservatives have to realize their message is resonating with the American electorate and remember the old adage; if you wrestle with a skunk you will come away stinking like the skunk.

Friday, January 14, 2011

No Shout Out for Joe

"To disarm the people...was the best and most effectual way to enslave them." — George Mason

During the Tucson Memorial pep rally President Obama recognized the so called heroes of the January 8 shooting. He acknowledged the intern who checked the bleeding from Gabrielle Giffords’ head, the woman who grabbed the gunman’s spare magazine and the 74 year-old retiree who brought Loughner to the ground. I did not hear him give a shout out to Joe Zamudio, who knelt on the shooters back and held him down.

So who is Joe Zamudio? Joe is a 24 year-old, gun tooting, Arizonian who believes in the law and the Second Amendment. You see, Joe had just walked out of the Walgreen Drug Store after buying a pack of cigarettes when he heard the shooting and commotion in the shopping plaza. Joe, who always carries a gun, immediately raced toward the commotion with his hand on the butt of his gun and releasing the safety. Joe was ready to take the shooter down. When he got to the scene he saw that 74 year-old 74-year-old Bill Badger, a retired army colonel had already knocked Loughner to the ground and had grabbed his gun. Joe was ready to shoot, but this young man with a quick thinking mind knocked the gun from Badger’s hand and when told that Badger was not the shooter he jumped on Loughner’s back, grabbed his arm in a hammer lock and knelt on his back holding him down until the police arrived.

Zamudio told interviewers latter that he was ready to shoot, but he was blessed that he did not have to go to that place.  You can see Zumudio’s interview with Ed Schultz on MSNBC by clicking here. You can also see his interview with Geraldo Riviera on Fox News if you cannot stomach Ed Schultz by clicking here.

Zamudio took responsibility of a citizen. I know there of those of you who will say he was crazy for running to the fracas ready to pull his gun and begin shooting. The fact is that he did not. In the time required to blink you eyes Zamudio was able to make the correct decision and leave his weapon holstered. I am sure had he seen Loughner standing and firing he would have shot and probably killed he shooter. The 31 students at Virginia Tech would have been so fortunate to have a Joe Zamudio close by.

When Zamudio charged the scene of the massacre he was also risking his own life as the gunman could have fired on him. I don’t know if he thought about that, you will have to ask him. It is like a soldier who takes instinctive action in combat — they really don’t think of the risk while they are doing it. They have been trained for such situations. I don’t know if Zamudio was trained, but his instincts were sound.

In days to come we will hear the voices from the left calling for stricter gun controls. They will resort to the old and tired argument that banning guns will stop the deaths by guns. I suppose banning knives will stop stabbings and banning alcohol will stop drunkenness — oh we tried that one and didn’t work out so well.

The left does not like an armed citizenry because it sees it as a threat to their dreams of big government. They don’t want a nation of Davids who can challenge the walls built by emperors a thousand miles away.

There is one weapon that kills 37,000 people and maims thousands of others each year. The manufacture of this weapon is regulated by the government. To use this weapon you need to be trained and licensed by the government. Even the substance that fuels the weapon is regulated and taxed. It is after all not the automobile that causes these deaths and injuries, but the nut that holds the steering wheel.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Name is Fred. I'm a Killer

“[The Founders] made the Second Amendment second only to the First, which protects the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and worship. They did that because individual dignity and self-respect, which are essential to self-government, are related to a readiness for self-defense—the public’s involvement in public safety.” — George Will

My name is Fred. I'm a husband, father, a writer, and a retired land surveyor and transportation engineer. I worked hard at my profession for 55 years and was a partner in a small business employing 800 persons when I retired. I sent my children to private school, but paid taxes to support our government schools. I paid my taxes, supported charities and provide support for a little girl in Kenya through a Christian organization. I have supported my family, been married to the same woman for 50 years and believe in God. I'm also an accused killer.

On the morning of January 8th, 2011, I intentionally entered a gathering held by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and shot her at near point blank range.  I injured 14 others, killing six: among them a beautiful, curious, doe-eyed, nine-year-old girl.  I didn't actually pull the trigger, but I'm as guilty as the psychopath who did.

Here are just a few of the charges against me:

I am a conservative.

On occasion, I listen to Beck, Limbaugh, Levine, Wilkow, Hannity and Fox News.  

I've been known to pick up a book or two by conservative authors; Thomas Sowell, Andrew McCarthy, Mark Levine, Jonah Goldberg or the Founding Fathers, for example!

I believe the federal government is too large, far too intrusive, and dangerously powerful.

I believe in personal responsibility and the amazing generosity of Americans to aid those in need, rather than permanent entitlements.

I believe the private, not public sector, is the backbone of our economy.

I believe our progressive tax system is punitive. We are over-taxed, over-regulated, and over-lectured.

I believe in the power of the free market to correct itself, without government (taxpayer) intervention.

I believe the Constitution is intended to limit government, and empower the individual.

I believe in holding our elected official's feet to the fire, be they Republican or Democrat (incendiary pun intended).

I believe our sovereignty is at risk via unsecured borders, out of control spending and our crippling deficit, reckless abuses of the Constitution, and the moral decay of Washington.

I believe in every citizens right to own a gun. Our Founding Fathers knew that the First Amendment would not be worth the paper it was written without the Second Amendment

I believe that our government schools and their teachers unions are dumbing down our school children to a nation of idiots.

I believe that we are under a threat from Islamic radicals to destroy our republic and that Major Nidal Hasan was a committed Islamic terrorist.

I believe a little should not be suspended from school for wearing a rosary in honor of her grandmother.

In short, I'm a madman. Guilty as charged, and armed with the belief in my 1st Amendment right to peaceably question those we elect to serve.

The only person who actually pulled the trigger on that terrible, fateful day was Jared Loughner, by every account, a deeply troubled young man.  But the real guilty walk among us: senior citizens in red, white, and blue, armed with signs, "Taxed Enough Already," flag-wavers clinging to guns and religion, doctors, the wealthy, business owners, talk radio, and any citizen that dare exercise his or her right to free speech, particularly a conservative.

We're called greedy, stupid, and racist.  We're ridiculed with snide "slurpee" innuendos, and called lewd and malicious names, such as "teabaggers."  Ordinary citizens maligned by their own government while the pious, liberal elite get a free pass on reason and truth; while Islamists invoke their religious cloak; while the ideologue professes his moral superiority; while the media uses the power of spin; and leftists, including Robert Gibbs and Barack Obama, employ their bully pulpit.  

We defend conservatism by our very way of life: as self-reliant, tax-paying, moral citizens, and faithful defenders of limited government and the power of the individual. We are violent inciters only in so much as we threaten the current Leftist, agenda-driven stronghold on government. So alarming is our threat, the real inciters wasted no time in politicizing the tragic deaths of six innocent citizens, and one revered Congresswoman, still fighting for her life.  And they will waste no time in shamelessly exploiting a ‘crisis' at the hand of a lone psychopath to further enact gun control, and squelch freedom of speech under cries of “civility.”

Does the Left really believe the "rhetoric" of Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, and Fox is incendiary?  Do they fail to understand the language of conservative "talk" is the echo of ordinary citizens calling for limited government, and individual freedoms?  Or, do they silence us because we know our current leaders don't actually believe in their own limited power?   Truth be told, even Jared Loughner undermines their agenda.  And they know it.  They know their "transformation" of America is failing, and that people like me are not afraid to say so.

My name is Fred, and I'm a killer. They are determined to stop me before I kill again.

The Pep Rally for the Fallen

"We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions." — Ronald Reagan

Last night I watched the “Memorial Service” for the victims of the shooting by Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson last Saturday. I did not see the entire service so I cannot comment on the remarks of the preliminary speakers. I did, however watch and intently listen to the remarks of President Obama.

As Obama began his remarks I thought he was taking the correct tone and the content of was appropriate for the event. About two minutes into the President’s remarks the 30,000 assembled in the McKale Center on the campus of the University Of Arizona cheering at his words. This brought a question to my mind. What was happening here — was this a solemn and respectful memorial service or was it a political rally?

As Obama’s 34 minute speech drew on the cheering continued with faintly heard remarks yelled out from the student’s peanut gallery of “We love you” and “right on.” By now I was beginning to question the purpose of this service. Was it a memorial for the victims or a political rally?

At the time I was unaware of the 14,000 blue T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Together We Thrive, Tucson’s America” that had been hung over the backs of the lower seats in the auditorium.  No mention of this was made on Fox News when Charles Krauthammer and Chris Wallace gave their endorsement of Obama’s address. It was not until this morning, in reading the reports of the event that I learned of this. Had I known of this fact while watching and listening to Obama’s, oft interrupted address with cheers and whistles, I surely would have been more critical of the President’s remarks.

As Obama’s “eulogy” continued he played to the audience with a few perfectly timed phases. In a stunning moment, Obama announced that Giffords, who is in critical condition, opened her eyes for the first time after he left her intensive care hospital room before the service. First lady Michelle Obama held hands with Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, as the news brought soaring cheers throughout the arena.

"She knows we are here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey," he said to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Obama, the consummate politician knew that he would get a boost on the polls if he played this right. A gave a few bones to satisfy the conservatives and a great deal of one-liners for his left wing base. The students in the auditorium were rhapsodic.

When Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush gave similar addresses after the Challenger explosion, Oklahoma City Bombing and 9/11 they spoke in a solemn tone offering both condolences and hope. Their addresses lasted about 15 minutes. Obama, in typical community organizer fashion, spoke for double this time.  This was his big moment to take advantage of the crisis.

When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer took to the podium the little minded, spoiled collage kids greeted her with boos and hoots. When DHS secretary Janet Napolitano was introduced the peanut gallery erupted with cheers and whistles. Final when Obama was introduced the assembled mass rose to their feet and began a thunderous ovation, so much so that Obama had to quiet them. All we needed was Queen’s “We will rock you” played over the PA system.

I have been to several memorial services and they certainly did not have this tone. Only an Irish wake approaches the decorum displayed by the assembled masses in the McKale Center. While Obama was the recipient of this horrible display of decorum it was the President of the University of Arizona needs to take the blame. He is in charge of the university and should have told his student body that this was not a pep rally and they should act with respect to the families of the victims. This was an embarrassment to the student body, the university and the President. Had I been a family member of one of the victims I would have gotten up and walked out. The politicians were using the deaths and injuries of innocent people for political purposes.

If you read Obama’s words they talk about civil discourse and the value of free speech. I have seen all of this after prior murders and assassinations and believe me nothing will be different two or three months from now. The left will continue to demonize conservatives and their allies. Democrats in Congress will attempt to use the tragedy as a lever to get their anti free speech and gun control legislation passed all to the cry of “do it for Gabby.” Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative talkers will be blamed for Loughner’s actions.

In my opinion Sarah Palin gave a far more cogent and concise comment on her Facebook page. She said; “There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government. Our Founders’ genius was to design a system that helped settle the inevitable conflicts caused by our imperfect passions in civil ways. So, we must condemn violence if our Republic is to endure.”

“Vigorous and spirited public debates during elections are among our most cherished traditions. And after the election, we shake hands and get back to work, and often both sides find common ground back in D.C. and elsewhere. If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
” You can read Palin’s entire address by clicking here or watch the video here.

By the way the term Blood Libel, according to Alan Dershowitz, the esteemed Harvard liberal law professor and a Jew, is a commonly used term today and does not reflect anti Semitism. It merely refers to a false accusation or claim.

John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan, because he wanted to impress the actress Jodi Foster. No one called on Jodi Foster to justify herself in that tragedy. So why should Sarah Palin? Why should she answer for someone else's actions, especially since that person is by all indications a left-wing lunatic?

During his eulogy Obama said; “At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do — it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” This is good prose, but not for the committed left.

Sarah Palin will continue to get death threats from the unhinged left — some posted threats rising to actual criminal actions. Obama’s words will not change anything. The left has a committed ideology that does not allow dissent to their beliefs. There is no hate that can equal the vicious hate that emanates from the left. They cannot accept that someone could disagree with them. Where was the civility when Bush was in office? There was even a movie made about the fictitious assassination of George Bush. This was considered free speech and art by the left. You can read some of the posted threats to Palin by clicking here.

Upon reflection on last night’s memorial service for the victims of January 8th I can come to only one conclusion. It was a pep rally for the committed left. We will hear numerous and banal comments in the day to come as to how we need more civility and how Congress wants to help us attain that civility by passing laws that will infringe on our first and second amendment rights. Politicians like Bernie Sanders (D-VT) will use the shooting to raise funds for his reelection campaign. Pundits and the media will continue to attack conservatives who oppose the agenda of the left as threats to our civil discourse. Don’t be taken by the smooth delivery of Barak Obama. He will stand above the debate and allow his left wing minions to carry out the attack on the right.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Never Let a Crisis go to Waste

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste…it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.” — Rahm Emanuel, former Chief of Staff to President Barak Obama.

I will never forget the TV image of an FBI agent holding a rifle above his head and calling it “the Mauser” that had been found in the Texas School Book Depository soon after President John f. Kennedy had been shot on November 22, 1963. Soon after Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry corrected the agents claim and identified the rifle as an Italian made Carcano rifle. Thus began the fog of that began clouding the evidence and facts that would forever haunt the events of that day.

Soon after Kennedy’s death the media, especially the TV news, began pushing out facts based on opinions. At the time of his assassination Kennedy was falling in the polls and had made this trip to Texas to heal the discord within the Democrat party. There was a great deal of animosity and heated political rhetoric directed at Kennedy. The media immediately jumped on this and began pointing towards “the climate of hate” as the motive for the assassination. They had no facts to support this but that did not prevent the talking heads like Walter Cronkite from making up his own set of facts. No one wanted to look at Oswald’s ties with the Communist Party and his life in the Soviet Union. Eventfully the facts began to surface, but the media has already set a tone that would create years of conspiracy theories.

On November 5, 2009 Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major serving as a psychiatrist, shot 45 soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 and wounding 32. Hasan, a Muslim and professed “Soldier of Allah” and disciple Yemen-based cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who quickly declared Hasan a hero. We were cautioned by the media not to label Hasan a terrorist or jihadist as we did not have enough information to do so and that we should not blame Muslims for the deaths of the 13 innocent victims. The left wing media refused to call Hasan a terrorist.

On Saturday, January 8th a lone gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, walked into a community meeting in a Tucson shopping mall and began firing his Glock 40 pistol. Before he was subdued by bystanders 6 people were dead and 13 were wounded, some critically. Among the dead were 9-year-old third-grader Christina-Taylor Green, a federal judge, John Roll, and a congressional aide. Green had two personal connections to Major League Baseball; she was a daughter of Los Angeles Dodgers scout John Green and a granddaughter of former Philadelphia Phillies manager Dallas Green. The most seriously wounded was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), the wife of a NASA astronaut. Giffords, a two term Congresswoman representing the 8th district in Arizona, is alive today due to heroic first aid administered by one of her interns and the world class medical care she received at the University of Arizona Medical Center trauma center. Her lead doctor is Peter Rhee, a military trained trauma expert with experience in Iraq.

It did not take long for the left wing media to claim that the carnage was the product not merely of the tortured mind and trigger-happy fingers of the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. Rather, many on the American Left said the horror could be traced to the malign influence of American conservatives; members of the Tea Party; right-wing pundits Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck; former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin; and Fox News.

Without any basis in fact or the appearance of any viable evidence this was the narrative of culpability spun in the immediate aftermath of the shootings by some leading liberal commentators and Democratic politicians — despite warnings from religious leaders, lawyers, academics, ethicists, reporters and historians that such a rush to judgment only further deepens the partisan divide in America, and further poisons its discourse.

Within minutes after the attempted assassination of Giffords — indeed, at a point when it was still erroneously believed in many quarters that she was dead, and the identity of her shooter was not publicly known -- some commentators, absent any credible evidence, were already busily laying blame for the atrocity in political terms. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman blogged at 3:22 p.m. ET Saturday: "We don't have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was."

Krugman, in his blog post on the Times website, went on to mention Giffords' presence last year on Palin's "infamous crosshairs list." This was a map, disseminated by Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC, denoting the districts of 20 vulnerable House Democrats with images of crosshairs overlaid on each. The map was accompanied by a caption saying: IT'S TIME TO TAKE A STAND. Giffords herself, during her narrow campaign victory over a Tea Party-backed opponent last year, had complained about this choice of imagery, telling MSNBC: "The way that (Palin) has it depicted, the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district ...When people do that, they've gotta realize there are consequences to that action."

Unnoted by Giffords then, or Krugman now, is the routine use of similar language and imagery by both parties in a culture obsessed with "battleground" states. Indeed, a nearly identical map, included in a Democratic Leadership Committee publication in 2004, featured nine bulls eyes over regions where Republican candidates were considered vulnerable that year, and was accompanied by a caption reading: TARGETING STRATEGY. A smaller caption, beneath the bulls-eyes, read: BEHIND ENEMY LINES. The map illustrated an article on campaign strategy by Will Marshall of the Progressive Policy Institute.

There was a bullseye superimposed of Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts in the New York  Times prior to last Saturday’s NFL wildcard playoff game with the New York Jets. Did hat mean that someone should assassinate the Colts quarterback, or was it just a metaphor for a sack?

Krugman's blog post on Saturday linked "the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc." to "the violence I fear we're going to see in the months and years ahead," and added: "Violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate." Yet in all of the grammatically hobbled writings and statements that Loughner posted on the Internet — in which, ironically, one of his chief obsessions was others' poor grammar — the failed student and awkward loner made not a single reference to talk-radio or the TV hosts Krugman cited, to the health care debate or the Tea Party, to Sarah Palin or Fox News. He posted that two of his favorite books were Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. He also proclaimed he was an atheist, belonged to no political party, had been staking Giffords since 2007 (long before there was a Tea Party or notoriety of Sarah Palin and worshiped a backyard shrine composed of candles, a skull and dried-up oranges.  Once again we have the fog of facts and evidence getting in the way of the truth

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat, also found a political element in Saturday's bloodshed. Dupnik argued that the "vitriol" of the country's harshly polarized political climate was partly to blame, arguing that unbalanced individuals are uniquely "susceptible" to vitriol. Dupnik added, in an interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly: "We see one party trying to block the attempts of another party to make this a better country." Asked by Kelly if he had any evidence Loughner was in any way influenced by political "vitriol," Dupnik offered none. "That's my opinion, period," he said. All Dupnik needed was a Carcano rifle to hold over his head to make his idiocy complete. This was about the dumbest statement from a law enforcement officer I have seen since President Richard Nikon proclaimed Charles Manson guilty of murder.

As the chief law enforcement officer of Pima County Dupnik not only sounded like a political hack, he also gave Loughner’s defense attorney Judy Clarke plenty of ammunition for her defense of the accused shooter.

Dupnik should clean his own house before blaming his political competitors for the shooting. Loughner had been reported to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department at least 5 times as a disturbed person. When called about this the department responded not to be concerned and that he had been checked out. Also there was no police presence at the site of the community meeting, something that should have been provided by the Sheriff.

Liberals may be making the wild stretch of blaming Sarah Palin for Saturday's shooting of Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, but one of the Internet's most popular progressive activist sites targeted Giffords for electoral defeat in 2008 in much the same way as Palin's "cross-hairs" map did in 2010 — with Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas even using the term "bull's-eye."

On the day of the shooting, the website reproduced screen grabs of Moulitsas' posting, noting that "Daily Kos targeted Gabrielle Giffords with a 'bulls-eye' back in June of 2008."

Moulitsas was incensed at Giffords and 104 other House Democrats he accused of having just "sold out the Constitution" by voting for amending and enhancing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The legislative revision retroactively protected telecommunications companies from being sued for facilitating government monitoring of suspected terrorists' phone calls and e-mails.

Probably the only one to give a rational comment on the shooting was the father of Christiana Green. John Green, father of 9-year-old, the youngest victim in Saturday's Tucson massacre, was trying his best to hold it together in his interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly. But he was amazingly straightforward when he said; “Let's not use this senseless violence as a reflexive excuse to crack down on the freedoms this nation enjoys, he said. Let's not misinterpret what really happened in front of that Safeway Grocery store around 10 a.m. Saturday morning, and conjure motives for political capital.”

No one has lost more than John Green. But there he was, hours after his "princess" was murdered, along with five other people, trying to help a nation as it struggled to understand the senseless. There he was trying to be a voice of reason.

There he was fighting off the cold shock of reality to provide a perspective. There he was doing a darn fine job of it, too.

Too bad the same can't be said for so many others. Never has the degree of sweeping and instant public access been greater for the loud, the uninformed and the dangerously ignorant. The smoke had barely cleared in Tucson before the airwaves and the blogosphere were flooded with voices providing instant analysis about the slaughter:

People who had never heard of Jared Lee Loughner were suddenly everywhere, explaining him, his likely political philosophy, his emotional temperament and his brand of hatred: He is a rightwing extremist.

He is a violent disciple of the far right.

He snapped and went on a killing spree because of the toxic political environment in Arizona and the rest of the nation.

He snapped and went on a killing spree because he hates liberals.

He's a bigot.

It was inevitable. He killed because the right in Arizona has been stoking the fires of heated anger and rage successfully in this state.

Here's what appears to have happened in Tucson Arizona Saturday morning. A deranged man took a concealed, semi-automatic weapon to a political event and tried to kill Giffords and anyone standing close to her. It was a shooting – much like the shooting in Panama City, Fla. last month, where a deranged man tried to kill members of that city's school board before taking his own life.

We don't know whether Loughner was out to change the world. We don't know whether he was trying to make a political statement. We don't know if he was striking a blow against liberalism.

What is apparent is that an unsupervised, drug-abusing nut with a gun decided to try and kill a member of Congress.

Why were so many people in a sprint to make Loughner a pawn in this nation's political and cultural war of ideas? Why were so many people in a race to get out ahead of the facts before they knew how to pronounce the man's name?

Why were so many pundits and political operatives, unwilling to pause long enough to consider what John Green offered hours after losing his 9-year-old daughter?

Maybe this simply was a random, senseless, non-political act.

In America, random, senseless, non-political acts of violence are too often a price of our freedom.

You can read a cogent article by George Will by clicking here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Decline of the Left

I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition. ... [The Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." — Thomas Jefferson

On January 5, 2011 a new Congress was sworn into office and a new Speaker of the House elected. Their first act was to read aloud the Constitution of the United States. Each of the 435 members of the 112th Congress read part of an article from the Constitution, some with passion and others in the tone of an errant schoolboy reading a passage from a text he was required to read.

Not all members of Congress and many in left-wing media thought this no more than a stunt to placate the members of the Tea Party that had voted many of these new members into to office last November. Congressman Gerald Nadler (D-NY) said the Constitution was not a sacred document and that we should not place such reverence in it. Ezra Kline, a nobody journalist at the Washington Post, stated the Constitution was over 100 years old and written in a language no longer relevant in our society. Joey Behar, a dumber than a stone TV personality, questioned “what is this fetish we have over the Constitution?’

These attitudes have resulted from 50 to 60 years of a cultural takeover of our institutions by the left. Our public schools, universities, courts, political elite and entertainment industry and media have been infiltrated by people who have no regard for the Constitution unless it can be bent to their agenda. The enumerated powers vested in the federal government mean nothing to them. They believe all rights stem from government and the government can do anything it deems in the public good. In essence they have replaced God with government.

You can go on any college campus across the country and find thousands of 20 year old kids that know next to nothing about the history of the United States, but they will tell you how much they hate the country. Again, this is due to a total lack of education of our children about our founding fathers and our constitution. They are taught from a playbook that totally denies the exceptionalism of the United States, our form of government and the numerous contributions we have made to civilization. They are virtually ignorant of our economic system and the benefits of capitalism. They believe that they are entitled to almost everything including a college education, a job and government health care. They also have no idea of the sacrifices made by previous generations to insure their freedoms and way of life. They can tell you all about the latest rock star, video game or smartphone but they can’t name the nations we fought in World War II or what the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence are. You can read more about the lack of knowledge of our history, Constitution, economic system and how our government functions by clicking here.

I believe that the rise of progressivism reached its zenith on January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama the 44th president of the United States. Obama was what the progressive left had been waiting on for years. He was the epitome of the perfect candidate for the left. He was young, eloquent and above all he was black — but not too black. He was the left wing’s messiah, the one they had been waiting for since the death of Bobby Kennedy. He was someone they could rally behind. He had very little political baggage and he came from the roots of community organizing, something the left loved. Unlike the dull and bland leftists like Mondale, McGovern, Carter, Gore and Kerry he had the charisma the left had been so longing for. He even surpassed Bill Clinton in the eyes of the true believers on the left. After all if there had been no Ross Perot in 1992 Bill Clinton would have faded away into the history of failed Democrat presidential candidates. In the eyes of the left Obama had it all, he would be their savior.

The media, academia, students and the entertainment industry fell in love with Obama. He was, in the words of Sean Hannity, “the anointed one.” The timing was perfect for Obama. We were engaged in two unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the country was entering a recession, the GOP had been disgraced in the 2006 congressional elections and the Republican candidate, John McCain, while a war hero was dull and lacked the charisma the American people were looking for.

Obama had just one flaw — he didn’t know how to govern. He was great on the campaign trail, but when it came to governing the country he fell flat. As the recession deepened and unemployment climbed to 10% Obama risked all on his universal health care program and his endless stimulus spending. He also had a Democrat controlled House and Senate that was spending like true progressives and taking more control of the lives of Americans.

Like the fable of the emperor’s new clothes the American people soon saw the naked truth about Obama — he was an arrogant fraud. He was leading the nation into economic disaster with his big government spending and growing deficit. The American people, like never before, began to rise up against the Obama, the government and the progressive left. This movement was dubbed the “Tea Party.” It was scoffed at by the political elite and left wing media. People began reading the Constitution and seeing that many of the things the Congress was doing were not what the founding fathers had wanted for this Republic.

In November of 2010 the American people rejected the Democrat Congress by sending 65 new conservative member to Washington and over 650 to the various state house across the nation. This was the largest rebuke of a sitting Congress in 65 years, almost double the conservative revolution of 1994.

Throughout history people began by pulling together to create a civilization. This was the case of the Greeks, Romans Minoans, and our American civilization. When these civilizations begin to decline they do so from the top down, not from the bottom up. The people on the bottom have little or no power to prevent the top down rot. With the explosion of the Internet the people on the bottom now have the power to take on the elite leaders and the media that supports them. This is the difference that is making itself present today. The Internet has given the people on the bottom the power to challenge the top and is one of the reasons the progressive left, that has controlled our media for so long, is now losing its hold on shaping the thinking of the American electorate. The success of the Tea Party movement proves this. For the first time in nearly 60 years the progressive left is beginning to lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the American people.

Since the end of the First World War Europeans have been living with socialism. Today throughout Europe the socialist system of government is failing. This is evident by riots in France, Greece, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom. At the same time we have progressives in this county who want us to move in the direction the Europeans are trying to leave. This move is being rejected by the American people. To a progressive liberal capitalism is a system that works in the practical sense, but is wrong in theory. To our founding fathers it was the only way to build a sustainable civilization.

Politics in the United States is a game played between the 40 yard lines. You do not have to move the ball 90 yards to change the direction of the country. Obama and the 111th Congress attempted to violate this rule and is the main reason they failed and why progressive liberalism will decline over the next decade. A recent Gallup poll stated that those who professed to be progressive liberals accounted for 19% of the electorate, while those professing to be conservative amounted to 45%. The progressive left, while being highly visible in the media and entertainment industry, is becoming less relevant in our politics. Conversely, those in Tea Party will become more relevant in future elections. This is why the 112th Congress will not fall prey to the same fate as the 1994 Congress.

In 1994 conservatives were swept into Washington on a wave of resentment for Clinton’s hard left spending, tax increases and attempts to change our health care system. The problem they had is that as time went by these conservatives lost their way in the swamps of Washington politics and fell victim to the accouterments of power. They were soon building bridges to nowhere and spending and regulating like their progressive counterparts. There was no unified force to hold them to the Constitution or their conservative values. This is not the case today. With the rise of the Tea Party movement and the Internet conservatives have more power to hold the 112th Congress accountable for their actions.

With the death of the Kennedy political dynasty the left no longer has the charismatic great leader that can succeed Obama. There are only mediocre left wing politicians that could be the savior of the left. There is only one Obama and his tern is up in 2012. Even if he is reelected his relevancy will be severely dampened if the Congress remains conservative. This will be the challenge for conservatives and the Tea Party movement for the next two years. If they keep pressure on the House and change the balance of power in the Senate we can change the course of this Republic.