OBAMA STRATEGY: BULLY, TAUNT AND DIVIDE
Talk radio finds itself in the crosshairs of enlightened, tolerant liberals yet again. You’ve heard plenty already about Rush Limbaugh’s comments regarding the 30-year-old professional activist, Sandra Fluke. Rush apologized, but the president was sure to let the American public know that he has two daughters and he doesn’t want them to be attacked for speaking their mind.
Meanwhile, despite Rush’s apology – the activist wing of Democrat media known as Media Matters is leading a crusade to destroy and harass business people and anyone working in commercial radio by trying to drive ad dollars off the airwaves of any Rush Limbaugh radio affiliate.
You’ve heard the story of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, killed by a man some believe because of race and a “gun nut’ mentality. It’s really a Florida law enforcement issue, not a national debate. No matter what you think of the story. Still, our President felt the need to tell the American people he was troubled by the story because “if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”
Seeing a pattern here? If this behavior seems to you to be beneath the office of the President, you’re right. If you think this is beneath President Obama, specifically - you haven’t been paying attention. It’s all he really knows how to do well. Bully, taunt, and divide.
From telling banks that the president is the only thing between them and pitchforks, to bullying the Supreme Court at a State of the Union address; from bullying and crushing bondholders when seizing two car companies to blasting Paul Ryan after inviting him to a speech; from buying votes with taxpayer money for “green” energy nonsense to shutting Republicans out of health care and budgetary talks; from insulting Tea Partiers to embracing OWS; from urging Hispanics to punish their enemies to refusing to prosecute New Black Panthers for voter intimidation; from accusing the Cambridge police department of stupidity and racism to rushing to judgment on George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin – and the granddaddy of them all – forcing every American to buy a product (health insurance) or be fined, perhaps jailed if you don’t
President Obama’s natural instinct and political strategy is a long and well-established pattern of thuggery. Today’s baseless charges of racism, bigotry, sexism, hate - it's all coming from an angry man with a chip on his shoulder hell bent on creating national division in the hopes of a second term. That’s his path to victory.
Remember, it was Bill Clinton who first warned us of this during the Democrat primary of 2008. It was President Clinton that said Barack Obama had the political instincts of a Chicago thug. Not some right wing talk host.
Eric Erickson, CNN contributor and publisher of RedState.com has a very worthwhile read on the thuggery underway by not just the President, but liberal Democrats and their allies at large:
“The left is trying to shut down the opposition. When they were out of power, dissent was patriotic. Now that they are in power, they want to use both the state and intimidation in the public square to shut down opposing views. It goes beyond boycotts to financially intimidate those who disagree with them. Now, the left is showing up at the private homes of American citizens they disagree with to intimidate them, threaten them, harass them, and make them pay for daring to have a different view. The only time anyone wants to shut down opposing views is when the opposing views are winning. And that is the left’s problem. Rush Limbaugh, the free market, the right to work states, etc. are all winning. And it is not just that the right is winning, the left is losing.”
This presidential election is pivotal for so many reasons, not the least of which is restoring some dignity and leadership. It’s also why so many Republican voters are nervous about this race and just who can beat President Obama. Because we now see him for what he is. Ruthless, cynical politics and division are in the man’s core. He and his allies will stop at almost nothing to squash their opposition.
What a bill of goods the American public was sold. What a disservice the American press did for their fellow citizens. So much of this behavior now displayed by President Obama was on display throughout his life. His preacher, his friends, his own words on tape – all there if there was an honest media to report it.
Major newspapers endorsed Barack Obama--- you can go back and read them--- largely based on his ability to bring people together. Seems to me the only things he unites are leftist, community organizers. Nevertheless, this is the hand we’ve been dealt. And the Republican nominee better buckle up for the fight of a lifetime.
Because if there’s one thing President Obama loves, it’s a good fight.
(Conservative talk radio host/Landmark columnist Chris Stigall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter.com/chrisstigall)
FOOL ME ONCE
Politicians don't easily dupe me. I take almost nothing at face value when I hear something from an office holder. Yet, inexplicably I took the bait. Swallowed it whole.
It was easily the most effective political slight of hand we may see this entire election year. Odds are if you're a person of faith, of no religion at all, or a woman - you fell for it too.
This month, the president okayed a new Health and Human Services edict that Catholic and evangelical institutions—including charities, hospitals and schools—will be required by law to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. If they refuse, they will be fined into ruin.
By now, you know how it played out. Catholic and spiritual leaders across the country issued letters to be read to all their congregations stating that never before had the federal government trampled upon the First Amendment and disrespected the rights of religious organizations in such an aggressive way.
Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, succinctly stated there was nothing for President Obama to gain in such a move other than “the pleasure of making a great church bow to him.” Her column was titled “A Battle the President Can't Win.”
I agreed with her. Surely this was Obama overplaying his hand – big time. Several of my conservative friends, no political neophytes, scratched their heads. Each asking the same question, “Why would Obama be so reckless? He can't win a religious fight. Now he's sunk.”
At about this same time, something else was happening politically and socially in the news. The sands in the Republican primary race began to shift once again. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum shellacked Governor Mitt Romney in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado.
As of this writing, Romney and Santorum are neck and neck in Michigan – Romney's birth state and the state his father once governed. Even a narrow Romney win this week is an indictment of Romney's alleged “front-runner” status for the Republican nomination.
It was also around this time that the largest breast cancer awareness charity and movement in the country, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, announced they were severing financial ties with Planned Parenthood. Their rationale was easily understood. No more of their money was to go to organizations under investigation of any kind. As they are perennially and justifiably under investigation, Planned Parenthood's Komen partnership was effectively over.
Komen's giving to Planned Parenthood was a mere $600 thousand dollars annually, hardly a lynchpin in the abortion factory's operational costs. Further, Komen is an entirely private charity free to give or not to give to whomever they wish. Nevertheless, all hell broke loose.
Abortion is to liberals as water is to fish. Yes, that's meant to be ironic.
In one hysterical battle cry, the people that brought you pink ribbons and “Komen Race For the Cure” events across the country were under attack and forced to appease figurative barbarians who demanded funding continue for literal barbarians. Because when you think women's breast health, you think Planned Parenthood. Don't you?
Not quite a week after the Komen/Planned Parenthood dustup, Santorum's multi-state win, and the HHS assault on religious liberty swept the news cycle - came a sudden shift in the national dialogue.
Women began calling my radio show protesting the Catholic Church's stance on birth control. Rick Santorum, a devout Catholic was asked by the press and began to comment publicly about his beliefs concerning contraception. He doesn't believe in using it, by the way.
The press then began asking the former Pennsylvania senator what he thought about abortion, amniocentesis, and women's roles in the military and in the home.
And just like that, I knew I'd been had. I don't even agree with Santorum on contraception! Yet, day after day, radio show after radio show I defended Rick Santorum's faith just as I had Romney's wealth, Cain's unproven sexual misconduct, Perry's supposed “ignorance,” and Newt's “grandiosity.”
Obama's original, ghastly assault on the First Amendment was suddenly and purposefully lost. Polls were released right and left about the “backwards” nature of Catholicism's stand on contraception. How out of step it was with most practicing Catholics and women, etc.
Santorum was painted as a guy who wanted to kick down the front door of every home in the country and seize pills and condoms.
Democrats and the press framed Republican hearings on religious liberty as a bunch of sexist men discussing the reproductive rights of women without any women present to discuss the issue for themselves.
Santorum and church doctrine as a whole were put on public trial. When, in fact what the Church teaches, what Santorum thinks, or how much you hate or support both or neither matters not one iota.
That was NEVER what this debate was about. It was about religious organizations and peoples having a guarantee of Constitutional protections from an overzealous government forcing them to do their bidding despite conscientious objection.
The narrative devolved into a media and Democrat battle cry of, “Grab your Plan B, and lock up your birth control, girls! The white, Catholic, homophobic, Republican MEN are coming after you!”
Well played, Mr. President. Hope you enjoyed it. It won't happen twice.
(Email Landmark columnist/conservative radio talk show host Chris Stigall at email@example.com)
WANT CONSERVATIVES' SUPPORT? EARN IT
Ok. Knock it off. Newt haters, settle down. Romney haters, keep your powder dry.
This primary battle in the GOP is good for the party, and no matter who shakes out as the winner – he’ll have to have learned a lot about conservative voters. We’re not to be taken for granted and we’re tired of holding our noses.
I’m not panicked. I know there are a large number of folks in the GOP that want a nominee and they want him now. Time fighting with one another, they say, is time spent not attacking Obama. That’s true to a degree. But why shouldn’t we be getting a nominee our party can get excited about? A nominee who has earned it.
As this is being written, Newt is now up by 9 points in Rassmussen’s tracking poll of likely primary voters in Florida next week. Whether that holds is anyone’s guess as there are two more GOP debates and Obama holds a State of the Union address this week.
Santorum was declared the winner by raw vote count in the Iowa Caucus after all, not Romney as first thought. Romney goes on to win a totally predictable New Hampshire primary. Huntsman, Bachmann, and Perry all drop out of the race during this period. Gingrich has a couple of rock-star debate performances then pummels the field in South Carolina Saturday.
What’s that mean? It’s anyone’s game. No disrespect to Romney supporters, but who says he’s “the only one to beat Obama?” Who says Gingrich and Santorum are “too polarizing?” And don’t say polls. Polls change. We’re still 9 months away.
Maybe Romney will be the nominee. I’m not suggesting he shouldn’t be, necessarily. But someone’s going to have to explain why the “inevitable, best choice” to beat Obama can’t rally conservative primary voters off the couch to win in January?
Romney surrogates are angrily and incredulously attacking South Carolinians for handing Newt such a huge victory there. They’re shrieking that Gingrich doesn’t have the temperament to be president. Why can’t you hayseeds see that?
As for Gingrich attacking Romney’s wealth, and we’ve discussed it here, that’s a non-starter too.
Both of these men need to understand something about conservative voters. First, we’d love it if they had a history of being a consistent conservative. Bare minimum, we’d at least like conservatism defended and articulated clearly and passionately on the national stage. What’s more, we admire success. We don’t malign it. AND we’re mad as hell about what’s happening to our country.
Conservatives desire in their candidate a resume stuffed with personal and professional success stories. They also want a candidate who’s not ashamed to tell that story and stand up for that success when it’s attacked. Heretofore, Romney acts completely astonished that people would question his wealth or his taxes. He seems almost embarrassed and awkward when talking about his own money.
How can this be? He didn’t see this coming? We’re about to witness a class warfare election orchestrated by the Obama campaign that will make this Republican dust-up look like a walk in an occupied park. While it’s a shame fellow Republicans have launched the opening assault, for Romney it’s best to be happening now.
As for Newt, it is true he has more baggage than Samsonite. Yes, three wives. Yes liberal behavior after leaving office. Yes, taking money from Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. It’s all valid criticism. And Newt doesn’t “look the part” as Romney does which, make no mistake is a HUGE factor in the pro-Romney people’s minds even if they won’t admit it.
But Gingrich has tapped into something conservatives want the GOP to hear desperately for 2016 and beyond. We want and are ready for a fight. Not a gentleman’s duel of academic lectures, but a good, old-fashioned, bare-knuckle brawl over the vision and direction of our country. We want assumptions about us in the media challenged in an aggressive way. We demand respect.
For all his foibles, Newt gets people out of their seats when he talks about a conservative vision. Newt gets standing ovations when he talks about Obama behaving as a “food stamp president” and cable news moderators as “despicable.” He displays a wealth of very specific knowledge. He is unafraid of any subject brought by anyone.
The great conservative commentator, author, and radio host Marc Steyn said of Romney this week that his candidacy is too blow-dried, too managed, too short on specifics, and bursting with platitudes. “The finely calibrated inoffensiveness is kind of offensive.”
The great conservative commentator Ann Coulter is in knots that Newt is surging while Romney flounders. Gingrich, complains Coulter, “won’t put a fence on the border but wants amnesty for illegals and took 1.6 million from Freddie Mac and he attacked Paul Ryan’s plan on Social Security and with Newt Gingrich you throw out the baby and keep the bath water!”
Maybe both men can learn from one another. Romney needs more fire. Gingrich needs more focus. Romney, more anger. Gingrich, more optimism.
I don’t pretend to know how this will shake out, but I’m not worried. This is good for the GOP. Conservatives want to be proud, inspired, and when necessary, readied for a battle. They want to win by being conservative not careful. They want conviction not contrivances. They want consistent not convenient convictions. They want a winner not a pre-ordained, anointed candidate who “just might win.”
It’s time for a candidate we can get excited about. The formula’s easy. It’s not too late. Come on, GOP. Try earning conservative support for a change.
CAPTAIN OF THE PARTISAN SHIP
President Obama loves a good analogy to make his case. Perhaps it’s because I just returned from my first cruise, but his recent analogy about his leadership struck me as particularly poignant. Though not as he’d intended.
60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft held another extensive “sit-down” with President Obama this week. During the interview, Kroft pressed the president on his low job approval numbers with the American public and how he interpreted them. Obama gave a verbose answer, as usual about all the problems he inherited and tried to position himself as the guy who’s not making things worse. He’s the guy who’s going to get us out. He’s our ship’s captain:
“…sometimes when I'm talking to my team, I describe us as, you know, I'm the captain and they're the crew on a ship, going through really bad storms. And no matter how well we're steering the ship, if the boat's rocking back and forth and people are getting sick and, you know, they're being buffeted by the winds and the rain and, you know, at a certain point, if you're asking, ‘Are you enjoying the ride right now?’ Folks are gonna say, ‘No.’ And [if you] say, ‘Do you think the captain's doing a good job?’ People are gonna say, ‘You know what? A good captain would have had us in some smooth waters and sunny skies, at this point.’ And I don't control the weather.”
Wait, President Obama doesn’t control the weather? This was the man who told us the “rise of the oceans would slow and the planet would begin to heal” if we elected him in 2008, correct? But I digress.
As I type this, I’m still fighting the effects of a little vertigo from a rather rocky couple of days at sea last week. While there were no storms, the first couple of days of my maiden voyage were abnormally rough, wavy, windy and rocky.
After the second day of these conditions, our cruise director and ship’s captain got on the loud speaker to inform passengers of the weather conditions and what the captain was doing to get us through them as quickly as he could.
And no, nobody on the cruise shouted back at the captain, “You know, if you were any kind of a captain, you’d get us to smooth water by now!”
Our reasonable expectation was the captain would want to get us through it quickly and safely to salvage the rest of the cruise. And that’s just what he told us he was doing. But it was going to have to mean some inconvenience to our original plan.
The captain said he was sorry to inform us that we’d be late to our port, which of course meant we wouldn’t be able to spend as much time on the island as was previously scheduled. The reason?
He was charting a new course. It meant slowing down and swinging around some of the elements. This would reduce the wind and the waves and get us to calmer waters sooner. But again, it would eat into our “promise” of a full day at our next port.
And that’s why President Obama’s analogy is so flawed as he employs it. Were he truly a captain, he’d change his course, too. He’d see the storm ahead. He’d see it getting worse. He’d see that his original course of spending and taxing was the equivalent of heading full-speed ahead into the storm.
Captain Obama would use the advice of other officers to navigate an ugly economic storm when he saw his original stimulus course didn’t get us to safer waters. It just got stormier.
Republicans, in this analogy, have offered a different course. It means less entitlement spending. Which is akin to the promise of arriving at our port later than we wanted. No, it’s not what our cruise director and travel agent promised. Just as many liberal politicians promise hand-outs and bail-outs.
But if we “passengers” truly want out of rocky fiscal waters, we’re going to have to be inconvenienced. We cannot plow through the hurricane just because we were promised a full day on the island of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment.
We’ll capsize before we get there.
Meanwhile on my cruise, inconvenienced or unhappy passengers were sometimes appeased with free drinks or vouchers toward the purchase of another cruise. It was a way the cruise line could try to stimulate future spending with their company while inspiring confidence in the passengers that a future cruise with them was worth a try.
Imagine if the cruise line never did anything to try to make amends with their unhappy passengers. Most would never cruise with them again, and they’d probably encourage others to do the same.
This is analogous to tax cuts. Yes, Republicans have to make some drastic cuts in government spending, but in exchange we “passengers” will be given incentives to buy, invest, and save through reduced taxation and regulation.
Captain Obama wants to continue to not only speed ahead through the storm of government spending, but he wants to tax us passengers even more for the cruise from Hell while we’re still on the boat.
Yes, this analogy could produce a month’s worth of columns. I haven’t even gone the route of "Gilligan’s Island." The millionaire and his wife’s tax rate, the professor’s stimulus grant money. Of course, Biden has to be Gilligan.
I can’t remember whether they ever got off the island, incidentally. But I know the Skipper wasn’t any help.
(Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org)
RENAISSANCE IN REVERSE
As traditional as Christmas are the stories of those who seem hell-bent on removing its recognition from the public square. “The government endorsement of religion must not be tolerated,” say the mostly liberal atheists. Many of these people wholly back another kind of worship in the public square, however. This year the traditional “war on Christmas” has an interesting companion in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
There is an infuriating irony in liberals and atheists protestations about individual religion and wealth in a free society. Modern day conservatism and Christianity are the keys to a freedom that liberals seek to kill.
The most interesting spiritual history lesson I was given was to understand how many of the “mainstream” protestant religions came to be. Breaking from the one-church authority state, the Renaissance gave way to multiple faiths. It was, in large part, an emancipation of the individual from the intellectual, spiritual, and artistic controls of the church.
At that time, the church was something most of us certainly reject in concept today. A body of men who worked with kings to determine what was and what wasn't in all things. It was a time of cultural and intellectual vacuity.
The Renaissance wasn't a rejection of the church, however. It was a transformation. An enlightenment. A celebration of the individual as evidenced by the genius of artists such as Da Vinci and the critical thinking of Galileo and Newton. It was a time of original thought. An escape from the dogma of a church that served, with royalty, as a central planner for most aspects of life. The church and state worked hand-in-hand to maintain power over the individual.
The Renaissance set the intellectual and religious spirit of man free.
America's genius was the legal emancipation of the individual from the church-state, but not a declared war on the church. The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Federalist Papers were our grand contributions to mankind.
Our intellectual giants were Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Hamilton and Franklin. They began the codification of the rights of the individual and protected them from government. They were, at the same time abundantly clear that our natural state of freedom and independence is God-granted, not government granted.
The celebration of the individual was and is enabling through the creation of the steam engine and the cotton gin; from the telegraph to the telephone, from the light bulb to recording sound and pictures; from the computer to the iPad. All of these and many more made life on earth better for virtually every human being.
And where are we today? Individuals with no personal ambition clamoring for a return to a larger, more powerful centralized government that reclaims science, private property and the clear meaning of Constitutional rights. Our lives are on the verge of being governed by regulations out of Washington like Cap and Trade and Obamacare.
It is pre-Renaissance. It is pre-individual.
The entire environmental movement, for instance has become an article of faith-- a new age paganism that trumps the rights of man.
The great awakening of the Renaissance is receding. The individual is being undermined, minimized and marginalized. Central controlling figures of nation-states are dictating science, news, rights, and private property. And, as a result they are dictating misery.
The Occupy Wall Street protestors and liberals generally represent the Middle Ages. They’re throwing the Renissance in reverse. They are demanding a return to a time when human beings lived in filth, were wards of the state and only knew what they were told. In their world, anything outside the dictates of the central planners is a sin.
The prior definition of "liberalism" was a pro-liberty movement. But today, liberalism is secular and hostile to faith; it is hostile to individual freedom, private property and free markets. None of which has marked the beginning of better times.
The Renaissance-era intellectual and artistic giants were not anti-religion and they certainly weren't anti-private wealth. They depended upon wealthy buyers--- from the church, monarchies or privately wealthy individuals. They would not favor mobs taking their property or burning their creations. They did not want the money they earned confiscated by the church/state and they did not like the idea of equal outcomes.
For instance, Michelangelo was fabulously wealthy as a result of selling his masterpieces. Many, overtly religious masterpieces, by the way.
It is striking that our modern “artists” in Hollywood publicly reject the free market, when it fact they live by it just as Michelangelo did. Equal outcomes are the last thing artists want for themselves. Last time I checked, creative people thrive on freedom.
Bureaucrats and central planners thrive on limiting freedom. Amazingly, today’s liberal artists side with the central planner and often ridicule religion. It is antithetical to their very success.
The “Occupiers” along with their friends in anarchists and atheists don’t recognize the fact that modern Christianity and conservatism empower individual free will and encourage freedom.
Instead, they celebrate and clamor for institutional government that does just the opposite. They are a collection of Americans embracing a movement to make mediocrity the ceiling while stifling and mocking an annual celebration and recognition of God-granted, individual freedom.
The Renaissance got Michelangelo. We get Michael Moore and Bill Maher.
(Email conservative radio talker Chris Stigall at email@example.com)
IT'S NEWT'S TURN
A sudden, though not entirely surprising rise in the polls suggests the former Speaker of the House may just have some staying power. Sure, talk “baggage” if you want but he's resonating for a reason.
Forget Newt's "baggage" for a minute. Take a step back and understand why Republican voters are responding to him. They are looking for someone to clearly articulate a way out of this morass. And they want to hear it said with strength, intelligence and passion. Newt's doing it and has been doing it all along.
Over the weekend, when asked about the Occupy Wall Street movement, Gingrich blasted away:
"All the Occupy movement starts with the premise that we owe them everything," Gingrich said. "They take over a public park they didn't pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn't pay for, to beg for food from places they don't want to pay for, to obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes to sustain the bathrooms and to sustain the park, so they can self-righteously explain they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything.
"That is a pretty good symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country, and why you need to reassert something by saying to them, 'Go get a job right after you take a bath."
Mitt Romney just can't speak like that.
In fact, his initial reaction to the same movement was to try to “understand” their anger at “income inequality” as though “income inequality” is something new to our nation. As though it's something you can legislate away.
To try to stave off the hate mail, allow me to say once again that I'll happily support Romney should he become the nominee. But again, for now the Republican Party is still vetting their candidates. We don't know who the nominee will be but we do know what he or she should be saying: Barack Obama and liberalism is the problem, not fellow Republicans.
Herman Cain understands this well, too. Now, Cain's recent gaffes as pointed out last week make many nervous and in some voters' minds may have disqualified him. No need to ever worry about Gingrich groping for an answer to anything. He may be the smartest politician alive. Seriously.
But what Cain, Bachmann, and Perry do particularly well just as Gingrich is doing is extolling the virtues of American greatness. Meanwhile, firing away at those who stand in the way of that greatness.
The Republican nominating process is two-pronged. It is first a competition of principled, conservative ideas. It is second, a competition to communicate those ideas to voters. I believe almost all of these men and women meet one or the other. Gingrich comes as close as you can come to possessing both.
That's not to say Gingrich doesn't have some explaining to do. He's been asked about sitting on a couch with Nancy Pelosi a few years ago in a commercial. Many took that as his forging an alliance with the left to support cap-and-trade legislation. Gingrich denies that. But he owned the mistake he made appearing in that ad saying, “That is probably the dumbest single thing I've done in recent years.”
As I've also pointed out in prior columns, expecting perfect from any of these folks means disappointment for you in this Republican field. And Gingrich is far from perfect. But simply explaining he screwed up and acknowledging he's far from perfect goes a long way for me.
Not picking on Romney here, but so many conservatives worry about Romney because they see him as trying too hard to appear perfect. Too smart by half, as they say. Typical, traditional, thread-the-needle, fence-sitting behavior that tries to have it both ways on signature worries for Republicans.
His defense of mandated health care coverage in Massachusetts while governor there is troubling. Rather than take the Newt route and simply say, “I screwed up.” Romney wants to convince you his mandate's not as bad as Obama's mandate in Obamacare.
And while he's pleased with the concept of the mandate that simply hasn't worked in Massachusetts, he promises he'll give states the option to avoid the federal mandate when he wins office.
It's a bit like trying to get out of a speeding ticket by telling police “Hey, I was only going 15 mph over. That guy that passed me was easily going 20 over. Go get him!”
What Newt is doing is no secret. He is tapping into the American mindset. He is proud of our our culture and the idea of American exceptionalism. He celebrates our greatness. He is a student of our history for which he has a profound respect. He owns his mistakes. He's not tearing down his fellow candidates. He knows the political and cultural enemies in our nation and identifies them clearly.
The sands will continue to shift, and Gingrich may not withstand his turn in the white-hot fire of media scrutiny. But it's not a mystery why he has ascended to the top.
(When he isn’t writing Landmark columns, Kansas City’s own Chris Stigall is now a conservative talk radio host in Philadelphia. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER
There’s a reason more people feel a greater fear of public speaking than they do death. They see what can happen to a public person when the limelight shines brightly upon them, and in one frozen, misspoken moment they become a national laughingstock.
Two Republican contenders for president, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Herman Cain, both made some colossal flubs that are viral Internet sensations and have many conservatives second-guessing their support for each.
The Rick Perry flub was much more widely consumed. Last Thursday night during a CNBC debate, Perry began to tick off the three agencies of government he’d instantly do away with if elected president next year.
“They are Commerce, Education, and the..uh..let’s see, what’s the third one there…let’s see…uh…Commerce, Education and the uh..”
“EPA?” suggests Mitt Romney with a helpful tone of assistance off camera.
“EPA! There, you go,” said Perry.
Except that wasn’t the agency he meant.
The moderator chimed in, “Is the EPA the one you’re talking about?”
“No, sir. No, sir,” said Perry.
“You can’t name the third one?” the moderator pressed.
After a third attempt, this time forgetting Commerce and only getting out Education, Perry folded and confessed he just couldn’t remember. He ended the excruciating exchange with an “Oops.”
Herman Cain gave an even more tortured answer this week to a newspaper editorial board’s questions regarding President Obama’s handling of Libya. After the question, Cain leaned back in his chair, went silent for what felt like an eternity, then said, “O.K., Libya.”
“President Obama supported the uprising, correct?” he asked the editorial board.
“President Obama called for the removal of Qaddafi — just want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing before I say ‘Yes, I agree,’ or ‘No, I didn’t agree.’ ”
Cain began to say he disagreed with the president’s approach “for the following reasons…”
Then he stopped. “Nope, that’s a different one,” he said. “I’ve got to go back and see.”
Knowing just how bad it looked and sounded, Cain tried to explain it away by saying, “I’ve got all this stuff twirling around in my head.”
Never in my adult life have I watched something with more general discomfort for two people I really like. And not just for them. Having some limited background in politics and a great deal of background in public speaking, I know just how many people are counting on and pulling for Perry and Cain inside their camps.
I also know what it feels like to be the guy who let folks down when you publicly screw up. As a college intern for “Late Show with David Letterman,” I was once given a rare opportunity. A small on-camera speaking role during the show. Sparing you the details of the sketch concept, it ends with Letterman “firing” me from the show. I had one line to deliver. One!
When Letterman said, “OK, Chris, you’re fired.” My simple, one sentence reply was to protest, “But Paul Schaffer’s my uncle!”
I read it and said it in my head all day. I was given a rehearsal with the show’s producers and crew a couple of hours before taping. One assistant said to me, “Just play it straight. Say the line, and walk off.”
This was my moment. My big intern break. CBS, Letterman, live audience, millions of people, the Ed Sullivan Theater!
The sketch began. I walked on stage. The lights, the cameras, the music of the live band, the theater full of a cheering, laughing audience, and David Letterman. The sketch was happening all around me. I was present, but felt totally removed and almost entranced.
“Alright Chris, you’re fired,” said Letterman, as rehearsed.
For a split second, I literally forgot the line. What felt like minutes, was just a quick beat upon further review. Still, rattled at almost forgetting the line entirely, I sputtered – “But Paul Schaeffer’s my…my – UNCLE!”
I was never cast in another sketch that semester, and I knew why. I screwed up.
Now, a college TV internship is not running for the most powerful office on Earth, I get it. My point is, at a certain level your performance matters. Ask San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers about the assured victory he fumbled away on Halloween at Arrowhead this year.
This applies to men like Cain and Perry, too. I don’t think anyone expects perfect, robotic, and mistake-free in a candidate. Both men have impressive bodies of work that no single TV flub should negate. But when the Republicans are trying to find their next “great communicator” to take on Barack Obama, it’s this primary playoff stage that has to matter. For voters that don’t know them at all, and that’s in the millions – this is their first impression of the men.
Imagine Cain or Perry floundering on a network television stage over government waste or Libya as millions watch Obama coolly smirk at their struggle. The image would be enough in the minds of the casual, uninformed voter to give Obama four more years.
I haven’t any doubt Cain or Perry is inherently more qualified than our current commander-in-chief. I’d vote for either of them proudly if they were to win the nomination. But they’re not talking to those of us who’re paying attention.
These men only get one shot with many millions of casual voters, no matter how infuriating that fact may be. Which is why many Republicans are rightly gun-shy, even if it’s unfair to the totality of the men and their credentials.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
(Stigall can be reached at email@example.com)
LEAD, FOLLOW OR GET OUT OF THE WAY
One of America's fathers, Thomas Paine, authored a famous quote regarding leadership. “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” President Obama certainly isn't leading, he refuses to follow, and he is most certainly in the way.
Well, that's not entirely fair. If your dream is to be led to a life of limited success, handouts and general bottom-feeder status – Obama's your guy. For instance, the Occupy Wall Street, urine-soaked deadbeats have champions in the President and liberal Democrats.
Leadership is associated with success and achievement. Barack Obama is the anti-leader as his devotees in the streets demonstrate.
Liberalism is not rooted in leadership, period.
Liberalism is a tribute to parasites. Without parasites, there is no reason for liberalism.
Liberals honor people who pretend to be unemployable, who pretend to be helpless victims, who pretend to be righteous losers. Liberalism, they believe will rescue them from "unfairness."
"Unfairness," defined by liberals, is used as the excuse to take private property from people who work and produce.
The vast majority of Americans are fully capable of working and caring for themselves. Take a look at the “occupier” sloths. Why aren't they working? Why aren't they looking for a job? Is their job to be professional parasites? You bet! Liberals like President Obama are over-joyed because their political security requires parasites.
When the president was actually “leading,” if you chose to call it that, it was simply because he enjoyed a Democrat-controlled Congress. He could have anything he wanted. Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and his first “stimulus bill” come to mind.
But when voters decided his form of leadership wasn't what they'd bargained for last year, a frustrated Obama launched a new strategy.
Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney proudly declared Obama will “continue” to act “independently” without congressional authorization to “benefit the American people” as part of the White House's "We Can't Wait" campaign.
Yes, that's actually their new campaign slogan. “We Can't Wait.” In other words, Obama won't wait. Not unlike my three-year-old who wants her cereal at 6AM when I'd like to sleep in on Saturday morning.
“He [Obama] fully understands that the kinds of things that are contained within the American Jobs Act require congressional action, require laws being passed… But he can also act independently or, rather, administratively, and exercise his executive authority to benefit the American people in other ways. And he will continue to do that.”
How inspiring. How Reagan-esque, eh? This isn't leadership. This isn't a man who can lead. Adults who can't persuade may be many things, but they are certainly not leaders.
With those three simple words, "We can't wait," President Obama has succinctly and powerfully explained why he can't be a two term president. We can't have five more years of a president who proudly declares he can't get along with or persuade Congress.
President Reagan got his contentious tax cuts passed by winning a strong bipartisan coalition in the Congress. Not by stamping his feet, threatening his Congressional opposition, and shouting “we can't wait.”
Leaders get things done by presenting winning ideas and making winning arguments to people who don't start out agreeing with you. Leaders solve problems.
President Obama has told us he can't work with others. So exactly who is he leading except radical, leftist Democrats lying in their own in major American cities at this hour?
It's likely the President won't have solid majorities in either the House or Senate, thus by his own admission he can't get anything done, legislatively speaking. Obama has explained to the country quite clearly that he simply won't get anything done unless we make him a dictator or a king.
Without leadership, President Obama is now promising to manage our decline. Four more years of rising food stamp handouts, plenty of government and public sector union jobs and feigned empathy for the struggling "occupiers."
The truth about the President's new motto is that he has low expectations for America. He sees us as willing to trade in our dreams for food stamps, welfare and unemployment checks. And, he sees us as willing to bequeath the same or worse for generations to come.
President Obama offers America a choice - his managing a smooth ride to the bottom or a Republican leading a bumpy ride back to the top.
And that's why he will lose the election. Americans want more than he can deliver. We expect more of ourselves than our President. Leaders provide a way out, not handouts. Any Republican running for President is offering a viable way out of this morass.
Congress can't make him lead, nor will he follow. President Obama must be forced out of the way on Election Day.
Reach radio host/Landmark columnist Chris Stigall at firstname.lastname@example.org
VOTERS HUNGER FOR SUBSTANCE, NOT MUD WRESTLING
Are we learning anything from these Republican debates anymore? Did we ever? And to think, there are only twelve more to go, according to the schedule. Which leads me to suggest it’s time for Republicans to reject the very premise of the format.
Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain are apparently ready to do just that, and I, for one give them an emphatic “harumph!”
The most recent GOP debate in Las Vegas was an absolute embarrassment to those of us who are begging for a serious focus on the failures of the Obama Administration. Instead, it devolved rapidly into a political food-fight that did little but entertain Anderson Cooper and Democrats.
Of course, a liberal’s only prayer to a second term for Obama is to neutralize the Republican field by stoking internecine battles. Which is why Republicans must stop this, now.
Voters hunger for substance, not mud wrestling. There's a recession on. We have entitlements to wrestle. We have deficits to wrestle. We have an economy to grow. Republican candidates have to take some of the responsibility.
Gingrich, Romney, Paul, Cain, and Bachmann didn't start fights. Romney got pulled into a few. However Santorum and Perry have been absurdly mean and petulant. I like both men and respect them a great deal, but hitting Romney and Cain as they have accomplishes nothing. More to the point, it says little about what they’ve achieved on their own.
Can we please get down to substance? I have as many problems with Romney as the next insecure conservative, but after all these debates, it's time to admit he has performed very, very well. Disagree with his positions, but don't tell me he hasn't been impressive.
So far, the media got their mud wrestling contests. Good for them and their obvious ratings-driven tactics. I'm sure Jerry Springer would approve. But generally, these formats are an embarrassment to thoughtful voters.
The country is being pitted against itself and the last Republican debate particularly was a microcosm of what is happening. Barack Obama is sadly getting what he wants - chaos, class warfare and a compliant media.
Republicans can do better.
Republicans need to set the rules. They need to take charge. If they do, they will take the first step in proving they are worthy of the task ahead.
Gingrich and Cain have started just such a dialogue. During the same silly Vegas debate, Gingrich said that if he's the nominee he wants to challenge President Obama to seven forums akin to the Lincoln-Douglas debates -- each of them three hours apiece. He repeated the challenge last weekend in Iowa.
The Texas Tea Party Patriots took the concept a bit further and offered the Republican candidates the same opportunity immediately.
Bill O’Sullivan, treasurer of the organization told National Review Online, “This debate is going to be dominated by the candidates going back and forth, in a respectful way. It will be divided into parts, one for each major entitlement — Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid — with each candidate detailing their arguments.”
How’s that for a novel approach? Of course, no broadcast outlet has agreed to air the exchange. It’s too substantive, no doubt. O’Sullivan is convinced it’s worth their time, though.
“These two candidates (Gingrich and Cain) have been the most interesting people to watch in the debates,” he told NRO. “So having them together for a modified Lincoln–Douglas debate will be great; it’ll be a real opportunity for the conversation about entitlements to get serious.”
The Tea Party movement has a real opportunity to inject themselves into the nomination process in a very meaningful way, once again. Just as they did during the Obamacare fight. Just as they did during the 2010 mid-term elections.
The Tea Party and the Republican candidates can change the template and stop feeding the purposeful chaos Obama and his minions need to survive if they’ll follow Gingrich, Cain, and the Texas Tea Party.
Or we can continue down the path of what Tim Russert created successfully that’s now been implemented as a debate format. I call it the “Meet the Press” model.
Tim Russert’s show was built on “gotcha” questions. It wasn't a debate format. It was an attempt to get specific answers from individual politicians who were involved in a prominent way in current affairs.
There is nothing inherently wrong with "gotcha" questions, but in a debate the focus should be on determining what candidates know, what their positions are, how they think on their feet and how they interact with those they are debating.
It seems counterproductive that the candidates would engage in debating the moderators or fighting with one another about their lawn service’s illegal employee four years ago.
I’m in the entertainment business. I appreciate heated rhetoric and a good fight for entertainment and ratings. But that’s not what we need in our candidates. The future of the country is hanging in the balance and voters need more than flash and sound bites. We got that in '08. It’s time for statesmen. It’s time for leadership.
It’s time to change the debate.
(Email Stigall at email@example.com)
Media is feeding us the notion that the “Occupy Wall Street” protest is some kind of “people’s uprising.” It is not. At best, it is a loose configuration of entitled, directionless twenty-somethings, throwback hippies still longing to matter, and homeless folks just happy to have company. But they most certainly do not represent “the 99%” they claim.
Doug Schoen, a Democrat pollster and former Clinton adviser, has been polling the urine-soaked malcontents of Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. The summary of his findings is all you really need to know. Says Schoen, “…the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people.”
I’ll get into some of the specific numbers in Schoen’s polling, but they’re not necessary to make the case that these people are radical whack-jobs. For starters, any time you need to make signs encouraging fellow protesters to avoid public urination and defecation, I’d say you have yourself a PR problem, at best.
But let’s look at some of the associations and actual words of some of these “occupiers. ”Abe Greenwald at Commentary Magazine recently chronicled the anti-Semitism that is pervasive among the riff-raff:
“The Jew-hatred among protesters and sympathizers is diverse and unapologetic. It is, in fact, atmospheric. Tune in randomly to live television coverage of the spectacle and you’ll see—as I did—placards scapegoating Israel, Zionism, and ”Hitler’s bankers.” Check out the continuous flurry of protest-supporting tweets and blog posts, and you’ll get more of the same.”
Occupy Los Angeles protester Patricia McAllister proudly tells cameras at Reason.tv she works for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Proving Greenwald’s assertion, McAllister fires off this gem:
“I think that the Zionist Jews who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve — which is not run by the federal government — they need to be run out of this country.”
But it’s not just a handful of bigots here and there that sympathize with the “Occupy” movement.
The American Nazi Party issued an official endorsement last weekend. They called the protests “tailor-made for National Socialists, as well as WN (White Nationalists) who are serious about doing something.”
On Monday, another big endorsement for the “Occupiers” came from their most prominent associates yet – China. That’s right, the official Chinese government. “We feel that there are issues here that are worth pondering,” said Liu Weimin, a foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing.
Nothing speaks to the fiber of our nation like the premiere communist nation on Earth.
Schoen’s polling results confirm how radical these folks and their objectives really are. Published in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal:
“…the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence.
Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.”
These are all the people our president has left in terms of a supportive voter-base, and he loves it. He’s playing to it in a big way. "People are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works,” Obama said recently.
In the last week, our president has also suggested to Hispanics that “the way you look” is still a hindrance to success and fairness in our nation and that the choice for a better economy is only found in his “jobs” bill. The alternative?
“You got their plan, which is, Let’s have dirtier air, dirtier water, [and] less people with health insurance.”
It’s come to this, folks. We have a president who is a community organizer by training and trade. He sees in these rabble-rousers a potential army of winged monkeys who will intimidate, harass and agitate for him on his way to a second term.
Fortunately, even traditionally left-leaning operatives and publications are starting to shun and dismiss this cynical, dangerous, divisive strategy designed to do nothing more than mask Obama’s failures.
Politico recently published an uncharacteristically critical opinion piece authored by Keith Koffler headlined “Obama Launches Cultural Warfare.” He warns us the President is playing with fire:
“But in waging this battle, Obama is saying nasty and dangerous things. He is promoting his own principles — not just by touting their goodness, but by suggesting that Republicans hold to an offensive, even un-American, philosophy.
By painting his opposition as not just wrong but evil, Obama risks dividing the nation in a profound and unnecessary way.
…Class warfare is a dangerous game, unjustly turning a small segment of society into villains. But cultural warfare is poisonous, threatening to sicken and cripple the entire society.”
With just about a year to go before the general election, I’m still betting on the American electorate to course-correct. The latest USA Today/Gallup poll says 64% of Americans blame the federal government over “big financial institutions” for our economic problems.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is the biggest bully our nation has known still has the bully pulpit for one more year. Maybe the Occupy Wall Street stooges will still be camped out in their own filth while the rest of us occupy the voting booth.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME KNEE-JERK SILLINESS?
Was anyone really surprised to hear Hank Williams Jr. isn’t an Obama fan? ESPN apparently was this week as they canned him after he said so in an interview on Fox News. The fact is Williams is singing the country’s tune.
Poll after poll says dissatisfaction with this president and his policies are in the 60s. Most Americans polled now don’t believe President Obama will even win re-election next year. Was what he said really going to cost viewers to a football game? Is his involvement in the broadcast even notable to football fans?
Williams has been a staple of Monday Night Football’s opening theme song for 20 years on ESPN, formerly on ABC. He sings. That’s it. No commentary. No analysis. He just sings. But on Monday morning during an interview with Fox and Friends, he dared tackle politics.
When asked about his pick for president next year, he pointed to a golf game between Mr. Obama and House Speaker John Boehner this summer, saying it was "one of the biggest political mistakes ever."
"It'd be like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu," he said, adding that he considered Obama and Vice President Joe Biden "the enemy."
Within hours, ESPN issued a statement:
“While Hank Williams Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize he is closely linked to our company through the opening to ‘Monday Night Football.’ We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”
Yeah, well, most of the country is extremely disappointed in our government, ESPN. Ol’ Hank was just driving that point home.
So what was it? That he used Hitler? Why is Obama necessarily Hitler in that analogy, anyway? Maybe there are some jihadists that were angry at the Netanyahu reference. Anybody know ESPN’s militant Muslim viewership?
By the way, if you watch the full exchange between the Fox anchors and Williams, you’ll hear him go on to express his disgust with the image of all of these politicians yucking it up on the golf course.
Williams wasn’t lauding the behavior or performance of Republicans like Boehner. He was making the case that Americans are hurting, and those that can still afford to play golf recognize it as a game among friends. To Williams and millions of Americans like me, I’m not nuts about the image of these guys golfing either.
I don’t think there’s much to pal around about with this president.
Look, I’ve been on the receiving end of blistering criticism from the left when trying to make a point on the radio about my displeasure with the Obama administration. I have a very passionate belief the guy’s vision of our nation is deeply flawed.
Networks, advertisers, viewers, listeners and readers all have the decision to associate with me, Hank Williams Jr., or anyone else with an opinion that is passionate, political, or partisan. To that end, I don’t have a gripe with ESPN’s decision. I just think it’s cowardly and out of touch.
Just a couple of weeks ago, this column explored the cowardice of corporate America bending to the will of Washington and meddlesome politicians to curry favor. Of course, there’s never an eagerness to embrace a conservative’s point of view as there is on the left.
Keeping with football to illustrate, NBC broadcasts Sunday night NFL games and for several seasons Keith Olberman sat behind their desk as anchor. Monday through Friday, Keith Olberman spewed the kind of left-wing crazy talk of legend on NBC’s sister network MSNBC.
Personally, I loathed the guy’s message. It pained me to watch NBC’s Sunday night games simply because of Olberman’s affiliation with the broadcast. But I still did. I didn’t write a column outraged at NBC. I didn’t write a terse email to NBC or boycott the show or demand NBC fire Olberman. I didn't have to. The marketplace did it for me. Olberman was his own undoing with NBC. Now he's somewhere on some irrelevant Al Gore network nobody even knows how to find. See? Markets work.
Face it, conservatives are inundated with liberal’s nonsensical speech in entertainment because it’s pervasive. Frankly, if I took every liberal off my DVR and iPod – I’d be watching nothing but reruns of Walker Texas ranger and listening to nothing but Pat Boone.
The truth is, I think Alec Baldwin and Jon Stewart are funny guys. I love the music of Tony Bennett and the acting of Tom Hanks.
When they open their mouths regarding politics, I cringe. But I don’t boycott. I just keep writing and talking and believing that our ideas, which is to say conservatism is better for our nation.
Turns out, most of the country seems to believe it, too - if the elections of late and the polling is any indication. I also believe conservatives are simply better, bigger believers in free speech and free markets.
While ESPN’s decision to sack Williams can certainly be seen as the latest hypocritical stance a network has taken against conservative speech only, I don’t sweat it.
I’ll still vote for the Republican challenging Obama as I believe the majority of voters will next year. And ESPN’s Monday Night Football viewership will continue to slip just as national support for the president has.
Maybe that’s the bigger issue. TV needs every viewer it can get. Cable TV ratings across the board are slipping badly. There are probably a lot of housebound Obama supporters with nothing to do but watch TV.
Cable TV and Obama supporters might be all they each have left.
(Email Stigall at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Florida didn’t get the memo. They were told who the “electable” Republicans were. They were told who was “best suited” to take on President Obama next year. But for some reason, Florida Republicans didn’t listen. They picked Herman Cain as their nominee in the Republican straw poll last week. Suddenly, a man who had been treated as an entertaining sideshow for the most part by the national press is getting a second, hard look.
And he should.
During a recent profile of Cain, the Washington Post decided it was time to introduce their readers to a man whom they probably didn’t anticipate devoting much column space at all. Once you read it, it’s hard to argue. Cain is a uniquely qualified executive who has actually, successfully led in the market place:
“…(Cain) graduated from Morehouse College; he has a master’s in computer science from Purdue University. His business career started at the Coca-Cola Company. From there, he went to Philadelphia and managed to turn the city’s Burger Kings profitable.
That success led him to his best known post: stabilizing the Nebraska-based Godfather’s Pizza franchise, which he took over in 1986 after managing to turn around Burger King in Philadelphia. At Godfather’s, Cain cut some troubled franchises, launched some inventive advertising campaigns and got rid of unpopular menu items.
By the early 1990s, Cain had started to transition out of day-to-day management at Godfathers and delve into politics. In 1992, he was appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In 1994, he became head of the National Restaurant Association, a post Cain held for five years.”
Ok, so remind us why Cain is a “back-bencher?” Because he hasn’t held office or won a political popularity contest before? That’s the only thing Michael Barone at the American Enterprise Institute could come up with as a criticism.
I respect Barone. I agree with his belief that the majority of this Republican crew can’t carry the day. He recently penned a column called “The Underperforming Republican Candidates.” In it, he went in to great detail about the hindrances each candidate carries making them unelectable versus President Obama. But all he had to say about Cain in the lengthy analysis was this:
“Herman Cain has not been elected to public office, but he did run for U.S. senator in 2004 and lost the Republican primary to Johnny Isakson (Gingrich's successor in the House) by a 53%-26% margin, with Congressman Mac Collins in third place with 21%”.
So, he was second place in a senate primary seven years ago and hasn’t held an elected office before. Remind me again. What disqualifies him as a contender?
Comedian, talk radio host, and Fox News contributor Dennis Miller just joined Floridians in a full-throated endorsement of Cain this week:
“Can I tell you how jazzed I am about this cat? How proud I am of him hanging in there? This guy’s the one who makes sense to me, he’s a sweet man, he’s not self-aggrandizing. When the results (of the FL straw poll) came in, I was over the moon.”
Miller said he’d help write jokes for Cain’s stump speeches and then suggested a bumper sticker slogan: “Cain Versus Not Able.”
OK, you say, “So what, Stigall. A talk host and a Florida straw poll don’t make Cain a contender.” Maybe not, but the newfound enthusiasm for Cain should not go ignored by the “smart folks” in Republican politics. Message, track records, consistent principles and success still matter to a lot of us.
Americans are sick of hearing we're slipping or that we're less competitive and less influential. We are the land of opportunity and Obama has managed our decline to the land of jobless, bedroom slipper-wearing dependents.
When deployed, conservatism transcends party politics. Conservatism takes power away from a small number of elected officials of both parties and their bureaucrats and puts it into the hands of job creators, achievers, families, in other words the people who make this country work.
That's the power of Herman Cain's message. Redistribute power pack to the individual. The people. Conservatism has a principled faith that the people have a far better idea on how to spend their money and lead their lives than any "helpful" government official.
We are more than Barack Obama's vision. Herman Cain knows this. American exceptionalism in medicine is not achieved by nationalizing health care. Which is exactly what Obamacare does as Cain articulated in DEVASTATING fashion last week.
American exceptionalism in not achieved by another spending program or a seductive tax increase via class warfare.
America's greatness has always been achieved by setting people free. History dictates it’s true; from the Constitution to the Louisiana Purchase; from the Emancipation Proclamation to the space program.
Individual American greatness has also set us free through great innovation in the private sector: inventions of Ben Franklin, Robert Fulton, Eli Whitney, Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Charles Goodyear, the Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs – it’s innovation that sets people free. Less government sets people free. The unencumbered pursuit of happiness sets us free.
America is an exceptional place, but the burdens placed on us by intrusive, greedy, central planners make us average, just one of many.
America is about strength, bold thinkers and freedom.
These are things Herman Cain embodies and represents. America is hungry for his message. Cain may not win. He may not sweep the primaries. But his ideas and his voice will influence the next election whether the “great strategists” of the Republican Party like it or not.
(Email Stigall at email@example.com)
THE DAY DINING OUT DIED
Homes are being foreclosed on a record pace, the Middle East is boiling over, unemployment is destroying millions of lives and students may get their first income not from a job, but when they get their first heavily discounted Social Security check. But hey, on the bright side - Olive Garden is pledging to reduce calories and sodium in their meals over the next five years!
Last week Darden Restaurants--the owners of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Capital Grille to name a few--unveiled their new menu changes with First Lady Michelle Obama on hand to twist their arms..er, lend support.
The AP reports: “The company will pledge to reduce the calories and sodium in all restaurant meals by 10 percent over five years, and by 20 percent over 10 years. For children, French fries and sugar-sweetened beverages will become the exception and not the rule…”
In other words, these restaurants felt compelled to become increasingly bland and less enjoyable by 2021.
Incidentally, what if the Darden folks just kept serving their meals at the current caloric and salt levels? What, Darden employees won't be permitted into the Obama Presidential Library? Under how much pressure must established food chains like Darden be to screw with a proven winner of a menu? There was no compelling reason to “fix what ain’t broke.” Yet they did.
Here's the deal, no one will be able to afford to eat at Olive Garden or Red Lobster if Obama stays in office much longer. If this economy continues to slide, the next stories you'll be hearing about Darden are how many restaurants they’re closing.
Here's a alternate suggestion for Darden: Try to increase your profits, make your shareholders happy, expand your properties and stop worrying about the feds breathing down your neck. If you think playing around with caloric content will make your customers happy, by all means do it! But don't do it for a bunch of central-planning authoritarians.
What’s Darden going to do when government tells them to stop serving obese guests? Are they going to do a "weigh in" if that makes Mrs. Obama happy? How about conducting a body fat check before taking orders? Maybe have scales at the front door. Hey, how about getting smaller chairs so overweight patrons can't sit down at all? “You must be this waist size to be seated.”
What’s Darden going to do when parents order a second meal or helping for themselves or for their kids? Are they going to limit them to ordering a certain number of calories? And what happens if instead of ordering a kids' meal, the parents order an adult meal for their child. Is that ok? Maybe menu items need age restrictions like alcohol so minors don’t order high-calorie “adult” food.
Why not just pass a law instructing restaurants what they can and can't serve. Limit the calories, limit the drinks and make it mandatory to tip 50% while you're at it. Why not? Government sets the minimum wage, why not set the minimum tip?
Sure, it all seems pretty absurd until you stop and consider that we’re dealing with a government that mandated the extinction of incandescent light bulbs because they aid in the release of carbon dioxide…a trace gas in the atmosphere now supposedly warming the planet…a gas we also happen to exhale…a gas plants need for life…which is now labeled a toxin by President Obama’s EPA.
It’s no joke. This is a sad day for American businesses. Darden is agreeing to voluntarily work with people who destroy the disposable income the public needs to dine out. Meanwhile, Darden’s very business model – their menus - the food choices and recipes customers enjoy will be altered voluntarily as well.
Going along to get along with this administration is a one-way ticket to driving your business out of business. It is a defeatist, disappointing, cynical attempt to remain under the radar and untargeted by an overzealous, liberal, meddlesome government. It is transparent, it’s cowardly, and it won’t work.
Give people like these one inch and they’ll take a mile. Once American business begins to accept the bullying premise that they’re to blame for society’s ills, it’s over. This happened with health insurers, doctors, bankers, coal and oil workers, and even the Gibson guitar company! That’s just an off-the-top-of-the-head list of the last three years.
Now it’s the restaurants’ turn.
Somehow Darden’s deal with the “devil’s food” is a little more unseemly than the others mentioned, however. The Darden people feel a little like mob informants. They rat out some “mook” so they can save themselves from being rubbed out.
But at the end of most of the mob movies I’ve seen, the canary that sings doesn’t get any more respect than the guy they’re looking to whack. Usually, they both end up sleeping with the fishes.
Fresh, lean, approved fish. Fish low in cholesterol and rich in Omega 3s. Good for heart health. But no pasta or pre-dinner rolls with that fish, fatso. Not that you’ll have the choice anyway.
(Landmark columnist and nationally known radio talk show host Chris Stigall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
OBAMA DOESN'T RESPECT OR TRUST THE PRIVATE SECTOR
The comedian Carrot Top has met his match in stage props. President Obama strolled out Monday to a sun-splashed podium in the White House Rose Garden. Behind him, a choir of sycophants from the public sector who cheered his every sentence while he demanded Congress "pass his bill without delay." Pass it. Pass it now. Pass this bill.
Obama waved a paper-clipped “bill” around for the cameras like a dog that’d just dropped a dead bird at the back door with pride. He knew how foolish he looked the last time the debt ceiling debate rolled around and he demanded a plan, but had no plan of his own. This time, he wanted us all to know he had a bill. Here it is! Right here! See? A bill! Pass this bill!
This sorry display was made to look even more ridiculous as the White House did for this as they’d done for the Obamacare bill. Remember that? They actually passed out white lab coats to people in attendance as to drive home the visual that the nations “doctors” were with his plan.
Monday it was time to parade public employees out in their costumes. Sheriffs, fire fighters, and construction workers – all in their work get-ups nodding and applauding as the president waved his bill around. It kind of looked like the Village People doing the YMCA behind him sans the head-dressed Indian, of course. That would have been insensitive to our Native American friends.
Not sure what was in the bill that needs passing “right now.” Not sure how we’re going to pay for it “right now.” But there it was – his jobs bill. And we’re supposed to call our members of Congress and urge them to pass it now…without delay. Pass this bill. Pass it now.
Well, we now know what his “jobs” bill contains. Tax hikes – billions of dollars of them. Chief among the tax hike proposals were items like restricting home mortgage interest deductions and charitable contributions for you greedy bastards earning your ill-gotten 200 thousand dollars a year or more. Lost in all this tax and spend pabulum that has been Obama’s signature legislative position for the last three years were the cuts.
Where were the spending cuts?
Of course there were none. In fact, all told – this new “jobs” bill at a half a trillion-dollar price tag, added to the trillion dollar “jobs” stimulus from 2009 means Obama will have spent roughly 2 trillion in tax dollars to “create/save/create” jobs.
Remember that knock-down debt ceiling debate not long ago?
That was going to be the last time there would be another hike of the debt ceiling. We had obligations and they had to be met. It wasn't a question of if we wanted to raise the debt ceiling, we had to. The United States does not default on its obligations.
So what did the President offer up Monday from the Rose Garden? The United States had to spend more money. More spending will save the economy. He didn't have a plan to reduce spending. He had a plan for more spending and a promise someone else would find spending cuts to offset his brand new assault on the debt ceiling.
Wasn’t the whole purpose of raising the debt ceiling one more time to scare the hell out of politicians so spending reductions would be the order of the day?
Obama didn't get his own memo.
If the President had the best interests of the country at heart, he would have called a Joint Session of Congress to announce across the board spending cuts to make sure the debt ceiling would never be an issue under his watch. NEVER.
But the President didn't specify one cut. He kicked that responsibility over to a silly, dysfunctional “super committee” because this President doesn't cut spending. Ever.
That’s for another day and somebody else to figure out.
We all know the country has a spending problem. That is to say, we have a liberalism problem. Just like Greece, Spain, California, and like Wisconsin pre-Scott Walker.
America's credit rating was downgraded a very short time ago. Our ability to pay back what we have borrowed has been called into question. So in response to that credibility earthquake, the President laid out a half trillion dollar spending program with no plan to pay for it other than to tell someone else to worry about it in the future.
Meanwhile, Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said this week that his company is terminating 30,000 employees as they look to cut $5 billion in annual costs. News reports say the bank has 50 senior employees reviewing some 150,000 ideas for cutting costs.
If Bank of America was run by Obama, he’d tell them to increase their spending and hire more workers. Heck, he’d even give the company one of those tax credits for every employee they hired, I’ll bet. Everybody knows when your company is floundering you simply grow your staff and overhead costs just for a swell tax credit, right?
Tongue firmly planted in cheek, of course. The private sector can and will figure this out on their own. The best thing government can do is get out of the way by lowering regulations, spending and taxes. In other words, do the complete opposite of the last three years.
But Barack Obama doesn't respect nor does he trust the private sector. Obama's goal is to run or ruin every private sector business in the country. He'll do it with regulations and he'll do it with taxes. He’ll do it with props, lab coats, and sheriff’s uniforms. He’s committed to this destructive course until the curtain falls on the first act of this staged tragedy.
One more year until intermission
(Email Landmark columnist/conservative radio talk show host Chris Stigall at email@example.com)
IF LOVING LIBERTY IS DUMB, THEN IGNORANCE IS BLISS
It’s clichéd. It’s boring. It’s exhausting. Ordinarily it wouldn’t warrant a response if it came from the left. But once again, some on the Republican side still enjoy sniping at people like Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, and Sarah Palin as “dumb.”
Well, what does that make the millions of voters who have and do support them, pay to see them, volunteer for them, vote for them, and believe in what they have to say?
Dumb, I guess.
The Politico ran a headline last week asking “Is Rick Perry Dumb?” Within the column, the brave, “unnamed” Republicans came out swinging at the Texas Governor.
“He is not an ideas man. Perry hasn’t spent his political career marking up the latest Cato or Heritage white papers or reading policy-heavy books late into the night. Advisers and colleagues have informed much of his thinking over the years.”
In other words, he lacks all the theoretical, Ivy-League brilliance that gave us the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Dream Act, Cash for Clunkers, stimulus spending, and civil trials for international terrorists to name a few.
Listen, you’re more thoughtful if you can create ways to “fix” our nation rather than get out of its way. This makes you “smart.” If you’re a liberty-loving, free-market, limited government messenger – you are a first class dunce.
This isn't a pitch or endorsement of any particular Republican primary candidate, but as has been made clear here before – any one of them is infinitely more capable than the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Even so, there is an intense struggle for control of the Republican Party between conservative, Tea Party-types and less conservative RINOs. We are told we have "smart" Republicans and “dumb” Republicans. Where do the two factions agree and where do they disagree?
Nearly all Republicans agree we have a spending problem. Not a revenue problem, a spending problem. Nearly all agree that a crushing debt is the core problem. But there remains a schism.
Here’s something for "smart" Republicans to remember when looking down their noses at embarrassing, fly-over country, tax-cutting, morals-conscious, Midwestern and southern, right-to-lifers: First, the Tea Party saved the Republican Party from surrendering to the myth of Barack Obama. Many “smart, reasonable” Republicans laid down for this narcissistic failure.
Yes, the "knuckle-draggers" were right and the “cologne-and-cufflink-crowd” was wrong. Obama’s church, writings, friends and associates that formed his thinking didn't matter to the “smart set.” But creases in pants and arena speeches really caught their collective eyes and ears.
Second, not one of the Tea Party's core issues requires the federal government to spend money. Again, remember what the core issue is today. SPENDING. The “dumb” Republicans have never asked the government for a dime. Sure, the Tea Party wants to fully fund the military, but that isn't what got this country stuck in a deficit spiral. Not to mention providing for the common defense is the chief task of our government.
“Dumb” Republicans don’t require raising the debt ceiling and they don't have issues requiring new tax revenue. Sounds pretty damn smart if you ask me. Sounds logical, rational and highly appealing to Independents who respond to fiscal issues as much as anything, too.
Never forget this when thinking about America's core problem of crushing debt: The Tea Party voters and social conservatives have never looked to the government for funds to implement any of their pet issues.
Pro-lifers never asked for federal funds to advance their cause. No "Pro-Life Czar" is needed. Those who seek a balanced budget amendment have never asked for federal funds to create a bureaucracy to make that happen. Can those "smart" Republicans who felt pressured to support Cap and Trade say that?
Tea Partiers weren't ready to sell out capitalism and the country over Al Gore's fraud. The Tea Party didn't fall for that socialist trap--they saw through the fancy language and fear mongering. Yet, there are still really, really "smart" Republicans who are either too stupid to admit man-made global warming is a fraud or too embarrassed to admit their mistake ----and they want us to pay for it.
Tea Partiers want to develop our own natural resources, create good paying jobs and ignore the destructive environmental hysteria. Those that sought to audit the Federal Reserve did not propose a new department or suggest billions of dollars would be needed for that to take place.
Those that want to eliminate needless regulations didn't demand a "Red Tape Czar" be named and a massive new budget given to carry out that idea. None of these people ever demanded raising the debt ceiling to accommodate any of their concerns. And no Tea Party member ever supported Romney-care.
That isn't embarrassing behavior. That's credibility. That's validation. And if the likes of a Perry, Palin, or Bachman appeal to them, then “smarty-pants” Republicans might want to think carefully about why that might be. These are generally the people with the better track record when it comes to seeing through the lies and deception.
Remembering who got suckered and who refused to run those fools' errands provides a better idea as to who is "smart" and who has been stupid enough to "reach across the aisle" to grow government.
As things exist today, the chance for millions of Americans to reach their dreams and achieve their goals is diminishing at a rapid pace.
In order to pursue happiness and become exceptional as individuals, there must not only be a new President, but an entirely new philosophy of the proper role and function of government in our lives.
I’m happy to stand with the “dummies.”
(Email Chris Stigall at firstname.lastname@example.org)
FEAR PLUS DEPENDENCE EQUALS VIEWERS AND VOTES
As last week concluded, many on the east coast were still clamoring about the “Great Quake of 2011.” A magnitude 5.8 earthquake with an epicenter in Virginia was big enough to shake Washington D.C, Philadelphia, and New York. Which really meant it was a tremor big enough to fill the hysterical 24-hour New York and D.C-based national news media.
That’s until Hurricane Irene moved in.
Coverage of the quake was so silly, by the time Irene began to head for the coasts of North Carolina it was hard to muster concern, honestly. Columnist and commentator George Will once said during the debt ceiling debate that Americans had “Armageddon fatigue.” He’s right.
Pick your over-hyped story of just the last year or so. The Gulf oil spill, the radiation cloud wafting from Japan, the threat of a credit downgrade by S&P…yep, I’m just tired.
Concluding Friday’s radio show, I predicted the media coverage of Irene was so overblown that the hurricane could never live up to the hype. I predicted New Jersey’s Republican Governor who told everyone to evacuate the Jersey Shore would be maligned for overreaction by Tuesday of this week.
Both turned out to be relatively true. Stories of the untold millions in lost weekend revenue to the Atlantic City casinos unscathed by Irene were written. Christie’s “overly-aggressive” style with the press as he issued evacuation orders was also up for critique.
Of course any Democrat governor or mayor, including President Obama, was our knight in shining armor during the storm, but that’s likewise predictable.
A friend reached out after listening to last Friday’s show and subsequent Monday morning quarterbacking of the hysterical weekend hurricane coverage. He said, “Chris, you know this storm did scare a lot of people and ruin a lot of lives. I’m worried you’re going to be painted as a compassionless, out-of-touch jerk.”
After pondering his comments, it became clear that clarification was in order.
I’ve always prided myself as being a self-starter. When you get down, get back up again. Hard work, passion, skill and a little good timing equals a reward. I don’t like whining about what I’m owed, nor do I like holding my hand out when times are tough.
I also resent being told what I am to fear. And that’s what the media peddles every day. Fear, panic, dire outcomes, hopelessness – if you don’t feel it, just turn on the news and let it soak in – you will. Simply, I don’t allow my television to tell me what to feel.
I also believe in the generosity, perseverance, resoluteness, and divine providence of the American people. When tragedy strikes, when crises erupt, we Americans better than anyone else step up to the plate and get back to the business of making ourselves whole again.
There is a difference in that spirit for many millions of Americans today, however. It makes me mad. It breaks my heart. There is a desperation and general malaise unseen since the 70s in our country today. We have President Obama to thank for it.
The fact is, we are in an economic freefall being led by a man literally obsessed with carrying out the same failed “solutions” of tax hikes, regulation, and government spending in a supposed effort to “put Americans back to work.”
With unemployment and underemployment now entering a third year in the double digits, gas prices far too high, and disposable income far too low – I understand why many people watched Hurricane Irene with sincere panic.
When you're broke, every new expense brings a tsunami of worry. How will the drywall in the flooded basement be fixed? Where will that money come from? How will the water damage to the carpet from the leaky roof be paid for? Where will the money come from to pay for the expense of removing toppled trees?
Forget Irene, its Hurricane Obama reeking havoc on the economy. The East coast has untold numbers of people with underwater mortgages and underwater homes. These people weren't victims of hype. They were victims of Obama. When you're broke, even a heavy rain can be terrifying.
It’s that real fear that an insidious media feeds. While I understand it, I simply refuse to allow it to creep into my own life. Similarly, I will not allow the federal government to become my provider, as President Obama and others on the left seem to cheer. Natural disasters mean more government spending which, they believe, somehow stimulates the economy. All it truly does is create dependency.
Private sector jobs cure most ills and pay most bills. Unfortunately for the American people, President Obama is conducting a highly successful war on prosperity. His bet is that in an event like Irene, Americans will look to him at FEMA headquarters with his sleeves rolled up to care for them.
His vision of America is one leaving citizens so dispirited, desperate, and fearful that they will look to a government bureaucrat for help before themselves or each other. And the media hopes you’ll nervously watch every last minute’s worth of their coverage as you cower.
Don’t misunderstand my media criticism as unfeeling, uncaring, or compassionless. It’s quite the opposite. I am keenly aware of financial hardships. But I refuse to live in fear, and I refuse to empower politicians to “help” me pull out of a bad situation.
The media needs your constant attention for ratings. The president and Democrats need your constant dependency for votes.
They each need fear and desperation from you to get both.
(Reach radio megastar and timely Landmark columnist Chris Stigall at email@example.com)
THE LEFT'S FALSE IDOLS
Chalk it up to another healthy dose of hypocrisy from the pro-choice left. The idea that your public school student should be provided conflicting, unproven theories and allowed to critically conclude their own position. A backwards, knuckle-dragging notion like that can only come from a conservative.
That’s the conclusion a New Hampshire mother reached last week when she bravely sent her 8-year-old son to grill Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry on her behalf.
With a nagging, screeching wombat of a woman lurking over the shoulder of her son at a campaign stop, Perry knelt down in front of cameras and microphones to hear the boy’s question.
The boy, prompted by his mother asked, “How old is the Earth?”
Staying at the boy’s eye level while totally ignoring the shrill, cowardly woman using her son as an debate shield – Perry answered:
"How old do I think the Earth is? You know what, I don't have any idea. I know it's pretty old so it goes back a long, long way. I'm not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long, how old the earth is."
As Perry calmly and politely answered the boy’s question, his tyrant, borderline abusive womb-provider loudly whispered to the boy to follow up with questions about evolution.
Perry did his Texas hospitality best to smile and speak warmly – something I’d have a difficult time doing by this point in the exchange. But, he continued at eye-level with the boy and answered:
“Here your mom was asking about evolution, and you know it's a theory that's out there, and it's got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.”
As the governor patted the boy’s shoulder and thanked him for his question, his puppet master barked again, “Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science!”
Now, it’s at this point you might, and I certainly would-- tell this broad where to shove it. But Perry thankfully took a different tact. He leaned down once more and gave one of the greatest conservative answers to a scientific theory question ever uttered:
"Because I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right."
Simple, direct, honest, conservative, and frankly, more responsible than anything the boy’s dictator of a mother must feed him at home.
This is the great divide between those that bow at the alter of “science” and those that believe there just might be something bigger than our pea-brain understanding of our existence here on the third rock from the sun. For lefties, Christ, the Bible, theology, and religion generally only come into play when a socio-economic argument is to be made.
The left believe Jesus would push to raise the minimum wage, never act in a defensive posture toward other nations, approve of tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans, and rally around the notion of government seizing all assets upon your death for the state’s benefit.
Jesus, they say, would be a Democrat.
But where is their unwavering religious virtue and piousness when fellow believers ask, “Where do we come from? How did we get here? And how much control do we have over our Earthly environs?”
Suddenly, religion becomes a laughingstock. You’re dismissed as crazy to suggest God created the heavens, the Earth, and human life. You’re a kook if you believe humans were created to inhabit the Earth. You’re a whack-o extremist if you believe we don’t control the Earth’s thermostat, rather than that big ball of fire in the sky and naturally occurring evolution might actually be bigger than ourselves.
Yes, I used the word evolution because conservative religious folks don’t dismiss the notion summarily. Rather, we welcome it to the table to be discussed and flushed out alongside our faith. We don’t fear debate - we thrive on it because we’re secure in our beliefs.
Just as the Bible has plenty to say about “social justice,” it has plenty to say about creationism, human life, and our role on Earth. Only when scripture is employed to prove the former point is the Good Book waved in our faces by liberals.
When a guy in a white lab coat comes along and tells a liberal that driving a plug-in car and screwing in curly light bulbs saves the planet, the liberal arrogantly tosses God aside to worship the “science” and command the Earth through their insignificant actions.
Science is fact. What goes up must come down. The Earth is round. Photosynthesis provides oxygen to our human systems, and we release C02 to provide life for vegetation. As a Christian, I embrace those facts while marveling at the perfect harmony of an ecosystem no science will ever fully explain as anything but divine creation.
Rick Perry and other conservatives are correct to embrace their faith while welcoming a robust discussion and study of environmental change, evolution, etc.
Those on the left wish to stifle religion in their desperate attempt to prop-up unproven, secular answers to Earthly unknowns. Spirituality isn’t as profitable, after all. And nobody can see what a meaningful person you are in prayer. You gotta be able to show them by taking your reusable bags to the grocery store!
Our founders were content to believe - as do most American-- that God granted us life and unalienable rights. Read the Declaration of Independence for a refresher. It even refers to “Nature’s God.” But Darwin and Gore now trump such antiquated notions, I suppose.
Perhaps the next time some mouthy mom pops off to Governor Perry about not believing in “science," a good reply might be, “Why don’t you believe in anything bigger than yourself?”
(Email Landmark columnist and Philadelphia's favorite conservative talk radio host at chrisstigall@yahoo)
HEY CONSERVATIVES, IT'S TIME TO ACT LIKE WINNERS
During Ronald Reagan's 1966 campaign for governor of California, Republicans established the so-called Eleventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."
That was a quaint notion, wasn’t it?
It’s with a heavy heart at this hour I see a Republican Party so fractured and rife with infighting, it confounds and frustrates me more than a little.
Ever since the debt ceiling debate, there seems to be an insistence by some to take a verbal water cannon to any Republican who was willing to think about politics as they crafted their message on policy.
I’m not angry with guys like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. No, I’m not nuts about the deal they passed. In fact, was I an elected member of Congress I’d have voted “no” on the deal struck last month.
But you and I have the luxury of watching the politics from the sidelines. And yes Virginia, politics matter, too.
It is completely understandable that conservatives want the most principled limited government, low/no tax policies to come from this Congress. It’s understandable that conservatives want the most purely conservative resume in their nominee for president, too.
However, it’s not in dispute that Republicans only control the House of Representatives today, and there’s not a single Republican candidate who is running or might run that doesn’t have some chinks in their conservative armor.
So when a less than perfect bill was signed by the president, many Republican voters began to shout “betrayal, sell-out, traitor” of the Republicans that voted for it.
Similarly, many Republican voters are engaging in a candidate witch-hunt not seen since the trials in Salem. Any trace of once left-leaning stands, or inconsistent positions’ past and “it’s a liberal – burn him!”
This isn't about conservatives being hoodwinked by “the same old, same old.” Now is about threading a needle to move the discussion along and keep the failed economy squarely where it belongs – on President Obama.
We can rip fellow Republicans apart all day but who does that serve? Our job is to push Boehner and McConnell as long as they are in leadership. Our job is to have honest, but respectful discussions about our best “horse” to ride to victory from those whom we’ve been presented.
Anyone who thought that Cut, Cap and Balance or a Balanced Budget Amendment would become law in this Congress is naive. Anyone who thinks there’s such a thing as a flawless conservative is naïve.
With control of only the House, Republicans must first prevent as much damage as possible. That is to deny Obama headlines and stand in his way. Reformation comes next year - if Republican voters don't destroy their party first.
Anyone can thunder about the failings of moderates, and many of my colleagues in talk radio are doing it very well right now. That's red meat. We all agree on that.
But we can't inadvertently give the media and Democrats reason to tell the American people that Republicans are in a civil war and can't be trusted to govern.
Conservatives know their issues within the Republican Party, but they must first keep their eye on the real problem: Obama and liberalism. It must be eradicated from the Senate and White House, and the debt deal and our current candidate debates are furthering that cause every day.
Sideline sniping among Republicans internally is a fool’s errand.
Obama is getting no glowing headlines. He signed that stinker of a debt-ceiling bill behind closed doors. The markets tanked and we were downgraded by S&P. You know who correctly did NOT get blamed for it? Republicans. All you need to do is look at the president’s current approval numbers as evidence.
The country is being forced to deal with its problems. Obama has behaved like an emasculated loser. His myth hasn't been reinforced. The Tea Party is stronger than ever. Squishy Republicans will continue to be challenged, while Democrats are screaming "Terrorist!" at Tea Partiers in a pathetic attempt to hold on to the few contributors they have left.
Republicans are winning. The policies of the debt deal and some past policies of some of our Republican candidates for president are not entirely conservative. But the politics must, yes MUST play a part in beginning to shape policy in a meaningful way.
Obama hung nothing around Republican necks. He did nothing to inspire his base or contributions. Instead, the narrative has become how to shrink government and keep spending down while not raising taxes. Republicans did that, even if their debt deal was less than perfect in getting there.
This is the Republicans’ to win next year in a route.
But there must be no third parties. No thumb-suckers. No pessimism. No dropping out of the process. No snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Politics matter, and even if Republican candidates aren’t perfect or the policies coming out of Washington aren’t ideologically pure – rest assured, the politics are being won for real directional change.
If Barack Obama's base is dispirited, that’s reason enough to celebrate. If the Tea Party is rightly or wrongly declared the "winner" in all this and is more powerful as a result, then go ahead and celebrate.
Separate the policy from the politics in looking at our current state of affairs with an Obama White House. Conservatives are never going to get an all out victory on policy in today’s Washington, but they can and have scored victories for their politics.
Which positions them for 2012. That's when the country is rescued. That's when we change leadership. That's when I’d entertain talk of third parties, should that opportunity slip between a Republican majority’s fingers.
As of now, the best thing conservatives can do is change the discussion, focus, and debate. And change it they have.
If you’re a conservative, don't let anyone get you down now. There’s a lot of work to do between now and Election Day, so don't drop out and cry in the corner. That's for losers. That's for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.
We have a slate of imperfect candidates, one of whom will become the Republican nominee. Any of them would be a dramatic improvement from President Obama.
Conservatives are in the driver’s seat.
Time to act like it.
(Email Stigall at firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE PARTY'S OVER
It's just getting indescribable, isn't it? I'm trying to compartmentalize the madness of the last couple of weeks. I used to spend lots of time researching past evidence of contradictions and foibles to build present day political cases against President Obama.
Today, I don't have to dig. He's doing it within days. It's like he's not even trying anymore.
For the last month the President said without a debt-ceiling raise, we'd suffer a dramatic market downturn. (Never mind he said he pays no attention to the “fits and starts” of the market in 2008.) So we raise the debt ceiling, and we suffered a dramatic market downturn anyway.
Then, the White House told us that a downgrade in our credit rating was an even greater fear than default if we didn't raise the ceiling. If we lose our “AAA” status, then we're REALLY up a creek. Raise the debt ceiling, or we'll lose our sterling rating from the very prestigious credit rating agencies!
So, we raised the debt ceiling, and S&P downgraded our credit rating anyway. Oh, and now the White House says these once vaunted credit agencies “aren't credible” and using “bad math” to determine their outcome.
If this administration were a tractor-trailer, they'd be jack-knifed in the freeway and their cargo strewn across the pavement from all this erratic wheel jerking.
The only solace I take in the last couple of weeks is - the jig is up. The lies, myths, games, and platitudes are over. This president has nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no more credibility to lie, and no more public or media support to prop him up. Last Friday was truly amazing evidence of this.
HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher sat down with Christina Romer, the former chairperson of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors. The first words out of her mouth were crass, yet stunningly candid.
Now before you read on, let that soak in. CHAIRPERSON – ECONOMIC ADVISORS – TO THE PRESIDENT - OF THE UNITED STATES.
Just as Maher begins taping the interview, the news broke about the S&P credit downgrade. Maher starts the interview by asking Ms. Romer: 'How f****d are we?'
Romer missed not a beat and chuckled the response, 'We are pretty darn f****d!'
She went on to say that her bad language was picked up from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner who “swears like a seventh-grade boy.”
Several things come to mind during this exchange. First, our treasury secretary has the mental capacity of a seventh grader. Second, my seventh-grader better never let me hear him use that word in my presence. Third, it's an unprofessional thing of a woman in Romer's position to say. And fourth, that's the most frighteningly honest response I've ever heard from one of the very people who oversaw so much of this economic destruction.
Meanwhile, a completely dispirited Democrat party has turned on the president in the same week.
A committed Obama supporter in 2008 penned an opinion piece for the Chicago Tribune – the president's hometown newspaper – headlined “Hillary For President” in which he says the following:
“I'm not a political expert, so I don't know if Obama can be re-elected. I only know he shouldn't be…”
“Hillary, I'm sorry for not listening to you back in 2008. But perhaps you'll give me another chance. Resign as secretary of state, and run against Obama in 2012. I will work my heart out for you. And I bet that millions of other angry Democrats will be with me.”
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal, admittedly no friend of the president's, had no less than three blistering opinion pieces. The paper's main editorial said the American people are beginning to wake up to a president who is detached from their concerns and stubborn to correct his course.
A second columnist likened the Obama presidency to the woeful Carter presidency headlined, “They Once Loved Jimmy, Too.” And the most brutal of the three editorials in Tuesday's “Journal” flatly asks – “Is Obama Smart? A case study in stupid is as stupid does.”
But it's not just unfriendly publications, as evidenced by the Chicago Tribune above. The Washington Post's headline “Obama's Role in Debt Talks Scrutinized” told the tail of a detached observer in the Oval Office content to let Congress do all the heavy lifting.
How about this devastating headline from the left-friendly Politico: “Obama's Big Drags.”
“The consensus has been that for all his problems, Obama is so skilled a politician — and the eventual GOP nominee so flawed or hapless — that he'd most likely be reelected. Don't buy into it. This breezy certitude fails to reckon with how weak his fundamentals are a year out from the general election.”
Gallup pegs his approval rating at a discouraging 42 percent, with his standing among independents falling 9 points in four weeks. His economic stats are even worse. The nation has 2.5 million fewer jobs today than the day Obama took office, a fact you're sure to hear the Republicans repeat. Consumer confidence is scraping levels not seen since March 2009. Where's the bright spot? Hard to see. Obama has few, if any, domestic achievements that enjoy broad public support.”
Finally, as this column is put to bed, Rasmussen's latest polling shows 21% of the nation's voters strongly approve of the way Obama is performing his role as president while 42% strongly disapprove.That gives Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21.
This presidency needs no further analysis. It needs no further description. The only thing left to wonder is if we have the will to wait it out.
(Email conservative talk radio host Chris Stigall at email@example.com)
WASHINGTON'S FATHERS CLAIM TO KNOW BEST
From time to time the opportunity arises for me to have private conversations with members of government. Sometimes they'll call to persuade my thinking on an issue. Sometimes they'll call to pick my brain as to what's on listeners and readers minds.
Over years of conversations like these, I began to realize something about many of them. Not all of them, but many of them. They don't have a lot of time for you and me. It seems contradictory. If not for us they wouldn't hold elected office, it's true.
But something happens to many of them once elected. Particularly, but not exclusively in Washington D.C. You're seeing it play out with certain members of the Republican party, and you see it rampant in the Democrat party as the debt ceiling debate rages.
Smug, superior, dismissive, sanctimonious proclamations that 'we the people' just don't get what's going on and we should trust the debate to professionals.
The first time I witnessed it in person was during a tour of the Missouri House in Jefferson City several years ago. A Republican member greeted me on the floor of the House proclaiming, “Oh no! Look out! You don't have a microphone, do you?” I chuckled and assured him he was off the record during this visit.
His demeanor changed as he turned to one of his colleagues and said, “Here's one of those radio talk show troublemakers from Kansas City.” They chuckled together, but in a way I knew they meant it.
The representative then told me they'd recently held meetings among themselves about how to “deal” with we ill-informed, hotheaded hosts on whatever legislative matter we just weren't “understanding.”
I responded by saying, “Well Representative, you're welcome on my show any time to correct something you feel has been misrepresented or misunderstood.” He said he'd take me up on the invite. He never did.
Much like the debt ceiling debate today, you might recall an equally panicky period in recent history regarding the “inevitable collapse” of our financial markets if Congress didn't pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program or T.A.R.P.
John McCain and Barak Obama were summoned from the campaign trail by President Bush in 2008 as members of Congress all tried to “come together” on the premise that billions in taxpayer dollars had to be allotted to “save the Earth” or some such thing from fiscal calamity.
McCain initially said free markets didn't behave this way. Bush and the Democrats were convinced it had to happen. McCain was one of the only prominent national Republican suggesting we all calm down and think long and hard about what was about to happen.
The elected elitists from both sides attacked McCain as unsteady and reckless, even though I'm convinced the American public was with him. He would later change his tune, sadly and it was that moment - I still believe - that cost him the election.
We would later learn how grossly abused the TARP money was, and that billions would be used as President Obama's “stash” to throw at General Motors, Chrysler, etc. rather than the banks as we were once “sold.”
This also happened with the Stimulus and Omnibus bills that would create all those “shovel-ready jobs,” and Obamacare when we “passed the bill in order to find out what's in it,” as former Speaker Pelosi famously stated.
All of these scenarios and many more featured “important,” “smart,” “serious” thinkers in government telling tea partiers and Americans at large to basically shut up, sit down, and let the “informed adults” handle these “crises.” “You couldn't possibly understand our complicated work,” their tones always seem to suggest.
So it comes as no surprise this week when President Obama turned on his Father Knows Best routine and lectured Republicans in Congress as well as the American people that it was time to get serious about doing what he wants.
When pressed about a CBS poll that says 69% of Americans don't want the debt ceiling raised, the president blamed the tricky wording of the polling to get a desired outcome. What was the tricky wording so hard for we commoners to understand, by the way? “Do you favor raising the debt ceiling?”
Can you believe those sneaky bastards at CBS with a trick question like that?
Obama, his press secretary, and advisors have all spent the last week claiming “end times” by Aug. 2nd if this ceiling isn't raised, doing so in a crafty way of sounding sympathetic to the lives of we surfs across the country while combating the overwhelming unpopularity of their actions.White House press secretary Jay Carney tried to explain the public's denseness in not wanting to increase our national debt:
“…most people do not sit around their kitchen table and analyze GDP and unemployment numbers. They talk about how they feel their own economic situation is. … They do not sit around analyzing The Wall Street Journal or other — or Bloomberg to look at the — you know, analyze the numbers. Now, maybe some folks do, but not most Americans.”
President Obama took a stab at explaining we idiots to the press Monday: e public is not paying close attention to the ins and outs of how a Treasury option goes” – referring to the Treasury bills and notes by which the United States finances its debt. “They shouldn't,” he added.
Reads like a line from the Titanic's crew to alarmed passengers post-ice burg strike, doesn't it? You'll remember early in the same movie, Kate Winslet's character noted the shortage of lifeboats per number of passengers aboard. The “smart” folks told her not to worry. The ship couldn't possibly sink.
Well, she may not have been the smartest on board but she was alive at the end of the movie. Most of the crew went down with the ship.
(Email conservative talk radio host Chris Stigall at firstname.lastname@example.org)
A number of “mainstream” editorial columns surrounding last Independence Day weekend shared a similar tone of gloom and doom this year. They ticked off the 14 million unemployed, the trillions in debt, the high gasoline prices, a woeful housing market. They wrung their hands about the looming debt ceiling vote and agonized about our unwillingness to spend evermore or “go into default.”
I don't share the pessimism entirely. Yes, things are dire. No, we don't have a president that has the best interests of our economy and country at heart. Yes, two thirds of our government is still run by liberal Democrats who don't have our best interests at heart either. But we still have the electorate on our side. I still believe in the people of our nation to right this ship soon enough.
At the risk of sounding like a convention and visitors bureau spokesman, I hope you'll forgive what might sound like a sales pitch for my new hometown – Philadelphia as evidence. I spent the Fourth of July with a group called the Independence Hall Tea Party. Just like the great Tea Party patriots in Kansas City that first inspired a movement on the lawn of the Liberty Memorial back in April of 2009 – this group is equally inspired and focused. Granted, the political backdrop for the Philly tea party is quite a bit more hostile than that of Kansas City, but their passion is no less.
They managed to secure the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton and Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to Independence Mall on the 4th. They placed their platform in the midst of onlookers, tourists, and tea-partiers alike smack in front of the very building in which the great document we celebrate was signed and first read.
The local press simply had to acknowledge the thousands of people converging on the lawn to hear a message of a strong national defense, a less burdensome central government, a pro-liberty defense of personal property, God-granted rights and freedoms, and a pro-growth economy through less government regulation.
It was a message that really isn't political, just utterly American. It was a message first crafted in America's birthplace – Philadelphia.
I've personally toured Independence Hall 13 times since relocating to this city. Each and every trip taken is a new little gem of wisdom from a different park ranger about our founders. What was their debate? What was their intent? What was the outcome?
No American can leave the tour, read copies of the documents drafted and signed there, and honestly side with Democrats in today's debate about the direction of our country, the size of our debt, and the dependence Washington has willfully created for the citizens they purport to represent.
It's notable that our founders originally only granted voting rights to property owners. While this is an unthinkable notion today, you can certainly see the initial wisdom in the thinking. Not because they saw themselves as superior humans across the board. They had “skin” in the game. They were going to decide how taxes would work, who would pay them, and at what rate. They also stood to lose all they owned, even their lives as they gathered to declare their independence from a monarchy.
Many of today's “representatives” in Washington don't seek ways to preserve individual property, and provide more liberty through disposable income to their constituents. Instead, many of them own little, and create nothing except more power for themselves. They do this by growing a government, seizing more and more of their constituents property (money) through taxes, and creating a dependency on Washington not unlike many colonial Americans had on the British.
We often forget there were a number of Americans who weren't nuts about letting go of British rule in the 18th century. They were cared for, they felt safe enough, and they liked the comfort of a king. Today's public sector unions, anyone?
But thank God there were men who understood the potential and motivation of the individual when granted freedom and liberty. Thank God there were men who understood no ruler, no government can grant rights or make life better for individuals as well as the individual can. These were unthinkable, dangerous, “radical” ideas at the time.
In many ways, 235 years later we're right back where we started. Only this time, we're not debating breaking the yolk of British rule. We're debating breaking free of Washington's ever-strengthening grip on those they're supposed to represent.
Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post wrote last weekend that the debate comes down to reactionaries versus radicals. He defined reactionaries as those that want increased government to “enhance social justice.” That's today's modern liberal.
Samuelson said today's modern conservative is a radical. Radical because they seek “drastic political, economic or social reform.” In other words, “radically” shrinking the size of our government. Samuelson laments both perspectives and says nothing is getting done in Washington on the debt ceiling because each side is entrenched and driven by their “misinformed” constituents back home.
Mr. Samuelson strikes me as the one who's misinformed. Voters in Kansas City, Philadelphia, and all across the country are beginning to rise up in large numbers because they are incredibly well informed.
They know their history. They know we're beginning to repeat it. They are reconnecting with American greatness and the hell we once went through to achieve it. They're ready to have the fight again. I know it's true because I've seen it, heard it, and lived it for the last three years from my unique vantage point as a talk show host in these great American cities.
If that makes them or me “radical,” come take a tour of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and rest assured we're in some very good “radical” company.
(Reach Chris Stigall at email@example.com)
COURT RULING WAS MUSIC TO HIS EARS
"We'll see what you have to say about it when your kids get older."
That's the sanctimonious statement to guys like me with young kids when I proclaim my support for this week's Supreme Court ruling on a California law regulating the sale or rental of "violent" video games to minors.
In 2005, California created a law prohibiting the rental or sale of video games deemed violent to those under 18. In a decisive 7-2 decision Monday, the "Supremes" called it an unconstitutional violation of free speech rights.
This is an age-old fight. Remember Tipper Gore's fight for labels on music back in the 80s? The ex-wife of the ultra-liberal Al Gore was branded a censor-happy, moralistic crusader against artistic expression. She only
claimed to want warning labels on music featuring "explicit language." She always maintained she wasn't seeking to ban access to it.
Gore was very clear on the censorship issue in her book "Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society:"
"Censorship is not the answer. In the long run, our only hope is for more information and awareness, so that citizens and communities can fight back against market exploitation and find practical means for restoring individual choice and control."
Gore makes an important distinction, here. Giving consumers fair warning about hazards, potentially objectionable content, etc. via warning labels and ratings is a far cry from banning it outright. Warning labels are still annoying, but if we're still free to consume what we wish "with fair warning" of our impending doom when consuming it, well, it's still destructive to a free market…but the lesser of the freedom-killing evils.
The question: Do minors have Constitutional rights to consume uncensored material deemed violent? We know our nation has a long history of banning sexual content, course language, etc. from minors in print, online, and via broadcast and movies. Why is violence different?
The two dissenting "Supremes" in Monday's decision underscore why this issue is so (censored expletive) difficult to navigate. Justice Breyer, a traditional liberal and Justice Thomas, a traditional conservative both sided with the California ban, but for entirely different reasons.
Breyer points to the hypocrisy of banning the sale of images of naked women to a minor while allowing that same minor access to a video game in which he can "actively, but virtually, bind and gag the woman, then torture and kill her."
Thomas didn't get into objectionable content in his dissent, however. His was an interpretation of our founding fathers' opinion of free speech rights as it applied to kids. Thomas wrote that our founders never intended free speech rights to "include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors' parents or guardians."
Which brings me back to "just wait until your kids get older, then we'll see how you feel about this ruling."
A conservative colleague of mine, exacerbated by "the deluge of bad language, violence, and sex" that his children are exposed to in the course of their day was disappointed with the ruling.
"There's just too much out there for parents to be everywhere," he said. "We parents need all the help we can get to protect our kids."
With all due respect to my colleague, I find that statement to be rooted in pacifist victimhood, and borderline lazy. Parenting is hard, and I haven't yet gotten to the "tough years" of teenagers. But to suggest our legislatures must aid in raising our children by shielding them from the "objectionable" world around them is certainly not what our founders intended, is it?
Of course, we're in a far different age of tolerated norms. Behaviors and speech that was once considered scandalous, embarrassing, intolerable, and inappropriate just a generation ago are a cable channel away today. And like most of us, I find it sad that we've devolved into such publicly tolerated moral decay.
But our nation was never built on an idea that laws should be broadly created to define editorial or creative indecency, violence, etc. We were built on the idea of the individual to make individual decisions for themselves and their families, not collectivist busy-bodies determining "the good for all."
Violent video games, fatty foods, sugar, alcohol, pornography, tobacco – it's all bad for kids. None of us want kids consuming too much, or any at all in most cases. Most parents aggressively police their children, mindful of the harms that could come.
Sadly, there are many kids whose parents don't care enough to do so.
To embrace the state as a co-parent on any level, on virtually any issue is something upon which our nation should tread lightly and fear greatly.
Perhaps it's because I make my living writing and speaking freely, and have many times been called "objectionable" in my career. Maybe I will feel differently when my kids get older, but I hope like hell I don't.
It's hard to imagine a day that I'd prefer an elected official legislatively parent my child instead of first protecting my freedom to parent as I see fit.
(Landmark columnist/radio megastar Chris Stigall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE STATE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY
Small business owners in Pennsylvania, kids with a lemonade stand in Maryland, and a rock n' roll guitarist in California offered a striking picture of private property versus gluttony and abuse at the hands of public servants in the United States last week.
If you missed the stories, please allow for a brief refresher and remember – these were all in the same week. From WUSA - TV in Maryland:
"You can make a fortune selling parking spots outside the US Open, but don't even dream of setting up a lemonade stand. A county inspector ordered the Marriott and Augustine kids to shut down the stand they set up on Persimmon Tree Rd, right next to Congressional. And after they allegedly ignored a couple of warnings, the inspector fined their parents $500. Jennifer Hughes, the director of permitting for the county, says it's technically illegal to run even the smallest lemonade stand in the county, but inspectors usually don't go looking for them. She said this one was unusually large. Cute little kids making five or ten dollars is a little bit different than making hundreds. You've got coolers and coolers here," the inspector responded. 'To raise money for pediatric cancer,' Marriott replied."
In Philadelphia, the city council decided it was high time small business owners do more for their employees besides pay them a government mandated "fair" wage for a day's work. Now, they must pay them that mandatory "fair" wage even when they don't work. From Philly.com:
"Council approved on final passage a bill to require businesses with five or more employees to provide paid sick days based on time with the company. Under the proposal from Councilmen Darrell L. Clarke and William K. Greenlee, workers at companies with more than 10 employees would earn an hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked, up to seven paid days a year. Companies with more than four employees would be responsible for offering up to four sick days for employees."
And in Malibu, California the lead guitarist from the legendary rock band U2 – David Evans a.k.a. "The Edge" was told he couldn't build a home on his property. From Reuters:
"A plan by U2's lead guitarist, the Edge, and his associates to build several mansions overlooking the Pacific Ocean was denied on Thursday by California officials, who said the project would be a visual blight on a pristine ridgeline. The California Coastal Commission, which voted 8-4 to reject the controversial 156-acre project, also cited potential damage to native vegetation near the seaside enclave of Malibu…Environmentalists had opposed the development, saying it would mar views of the ridgeline for over a mile along the coast, a fact cited by commission staff."
These stories are a collection of assaults on personal property, liberty, and the general pursuit of happiness. The "concept" of private property in America and therefore, liberty sadly seems to be just that these days - a concept.
When politicians bust budgets in vote-buying binges by spending our tax dollars, they take more private property to make up the difference. They fine kids' lemonade stands. They force money out of the pockets of big and small business. They stifle development by controlling real estate, yet aggressively taxing it at the same time.
It is always important to remember that raising taxes is little more than a seizure of private property to protect political incumbency. And regulating the private sector has become de facto ownership by the state.
There is no way an economy can grow when private property is no longer private. When business and property owners have to look to a government official for permission on how to conduct every aspect of their business, progress comes to a screeching halt.
All is not lost, however. Those stories were last week. This week, a majority Democrat legislature in New Jersey, yes New Jersey just passed a measure insisting public sector unions – funded with taxpayer money – now fund more of their pension and benefit pay outs.
Granted, this legislation was led by the bold leadership of Republican Chris Christie, their governor. Republican Governor Scott Walker in Democrat-heavy Wisconsin really led the way nationally doing the very same. Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania is under the gun by a Democrat minority and public sector unions to increase deficit spending, and raise taxes on a booming natural gas industry in his state. He refuses. In a speech this week, Governor Corbett made it plain:
"I made a promise that we would get a budget done on time. That will happen if the Legislature doesn't want to spend more money than I do, and if they don't make a move to increase taxes."
Governor Christine called the bi-partisan agreement on public sector employee pensions and benefits a "watershed moment." He's right. It is. Town by town, state by state, and all the way to the White House - we are in the midst of a watershed moment. The choices are stark, and easily understood. Government workers are funded by private sector tax dollars. Private sector tax dollars are private property, owned by the private citizen. Public sector employees are paid with private sector, private property.
Some newly elected governors are taking their constituents seriously. They are stewards of private sector money, but for only a brief time. They aren't there to be liked. They're there to save our budgets. They're there to make their constituents more fiscally prosperous by limiting their government footprint. But there are still plenty of elected officials who love to seize and distribute more and more of your private property to enhance and increase their status and popularity with their fellow government minions.
Private citizens and private property versus public servants and their lust to seize private property for their own gain - the fight is on for the literal survival of our nation's economy.
(Email Chris Stigall at email@example.com)
LIBERALS DON'T FEEL SHAME BUT LOVE TO USE IT WAS WEAPON
You don't have to believe me when I write this. I take no delight in watching what's happening to Congressman Anthony Weiner. Yes, he did it to himself. No, he is certainly not a sympathetic figure. Yes, I loathe his politics. Yes, I've had fun with it on my radio show. But I believe we conservatives have a different set of standards as it relates to stories like these. It's not so much the details of a deviant lifestyle, or the private online activities of people like Wiener we wish to condemn.
It's the hubris, lies, and sanctimony we loathe in public servants' behavior after their failings become known that make us angry.
It's the shamelessness.
I've often believed over the years that the left takes great delight in the misery, trouble, struggle, and human frailty of their adversaries who run afoul of "acceptable behavior.”
Look at the world of ministry. Liberals deride televangelists and mega-church leaders who get caught up in drug, sex, or money scandals as hypocrites who have lost the moral ground from which to preach. Liberalism delights, very specifically in the personal failings of religious people. It is because liberalism loathes the moral certitude and clarity most organized religion demands. They loathe their message.
Liberalism is humanist, secular, and self-important. To acknowledge a higher power, or greater moral authority distracts and robs liberals of their fabricated standing in the world, particularly in government. Morality, spirituality-whatever you wish to call it- demands a high level of contrition from those public servants who publicly fail by their own standards. That usually means immediate resignation. That means a display of ultimate shame.
There is no shame from liberals in their misdeeds.
Ted Kennedy soldiered on through sex and alcohol scandals, even the dubious details of the death of one of his girlfriends. Upon Kennedy's own death decades later, he was memorialized as though he were a president.
Former senator Chris Dodd and his great friend "Teddy" got caught up in making "human sandwiches" with waitresses in the 80s. Not to mention Dodd's corrupt insider loans with Countrywide Financial while he served on the Senate committee that oversees their operation. He served "honorably," nonetheless and retired with "distinction.”
Mentioned in a previous column - Robert Byrd, the now deceased former KKK leader and Democrat senator from West Virginia who died in office and was memorialized by the nation's first black president of the same party.
John Edwards, a loathsome man who made his millions hawking phony science to juries about the causes of cerebral palsy by placing the unproven blame on delivery doctors, Edwards made a mint and helped destroy many who practice medicine. He would go on to run for president and father a child behind the back of his cancer-stricken wife, and allegedly funnel money from wealthy campaign donors to cover up his indiscretions. All the while, he conducted interview after interview denying it all and lecturing about "two Americas.”
It took a tabloid newspaper to catch him in the cover up.
Clinton and the dress, Rangle and tax evasion, Spitzer and the hooker, Weiner and the tweeted crotch pictures they all have one thing in common. They have no shame.
Worse, it seems those in the press and those Americans who support them have no real expectations of anything better.
But then, that's the point. People who don't speak to or hold themselves to a higher standard of personal responsibility and religious faith cannot fall short in public life. They never set the bar, so they'll always clear it. This isn't to say that there aren't Republican or conservative public servants who hang tough in spite of obvious public scandal. And they are just as shameful, incidentally.
By and large, though, you'll find conservatives hold themselves accountable to themselves and those to whom they are directly responsible. Their God, themselves, their children, their spouses, and their constituents--these are the things to which most conservative public servants answer.
Many times conservatives will espouse things most cherished on the campaign trail or in speeches. Self-reliance, family values, faith in God, defense of marriage - all common values you'll hear celebrated. Yet many conservative men and women still fall short just as Wiener, Edwards, and the rest have.
The difference is in the way true people of substance in public service handle their failings. Liberals are quick to mock, deride and denounce the message of values, spirituality, and morality when a conservative messenger falls short. But it doesn't mean the message is less valid. Which is what liberals all secretly hope to do. Invalidate the message by castigating the messenger. Liberals don't feel shame but they love to use it as a weapon against people who do when they fall.
Liberalism believes in no spiritual authority guiding our nation - only secular, human government. A nation of no rules for decorum, behavior, or moral decency because "if it feels good, do it." That's an easier way to live and get elected. And no real atoning for personal failings, rather arrogantly
soldiering on in the face of them because "hey, we all make mistakes.”
Yes, it's true. We all make mistakes. And I take no delight in anyone's failure or public embarrassment. But I have utter disdain for public servants who have no personal shame when their world comes crashing down.
Shame is important. I have felt it myself at times. You probably have too. And if you're a leader, and you've brought shame to yourself and those that look to you the responsible thing to do is step aside.
But that can't happen in the absence of shame.
JUST WHO'S SIDE IS THE PRESIDENT ON?
"Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel. We stand together to defend democracy, advance peace, and to fight terrorism. In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability and democracy. "
That's a quote from a rousing speech Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave to a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday. Strikingly, last week our president seemed to directly contradict the prime minister's unflappable resolve.
This was Netanyahu's second visit to the White House. President Obama showed a bit more respect this time in that he actually took time to meet with the prime minister. Of course, the president has now shown disrespect for the prime minister's entire nation, so it's hardly an improvement.
When Netanyahu first paid a visit to the White House, President Obama retired his private residence and blew off the opportunity to even briefly greet the Prime Minster before dinner. Since taking office, President Obama has yet to make a trip to Israel. Last week, he suggested Israel return to a 1967 border with their Palestinian neighbors. This, he suggested, would appease the Palestinians and create peace between them and Israel.
This time, Netanyahu heard enough and I believe had enough.
"Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967," the prime minister proclaimed both immediately after the president's remarks and again before Congress on Tuesday.
So what do we have here? Seems pretty clear. We have a president who is at odds with "the one anchor of democracy" in the Middle East.
I won't go the dark route of suggesting President Obama has some kind of blind spot for Hamas, the terrorist organization that infiltrates Palestine and its government. I'll not suggest President Obama's loyalties in the Middle East seem out of whack. I'll not suggest President Obama seems to misunderstand what this land means to Jews, and what Israel means to real democracy in the region.
I don't have to.
Nathan J. Diament is director of public policy at the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. He wrote a piece at Politico.com in advance of the president's speech to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Frankly, it left me a little stunned after reading it.
If what Mr. Diament wrote is true, how can there be such a thing as a liberal Jew in the United States?
Diament is a guy that speaks on behalf of America's most faithful Jews. He studies the decisions U.S. presidents make that affect the safety and security of Israel. He studies the statements and decisions U.S. presidents make that affect our long-term alliance with Israel.
Diament seems to suggest President Obama has him concerned.
"…the president faces the challenge of recasting a perception in the pro-Israel community that he is unsympathetic to the Jewish state."
Will you stop and consider that statement? A man who represents arguably the purest, most devout members of the Jewish faith in the United States said President Obama needs to convince them he's not, NOT sympathetic to Israel.
Stunning. Read just a little more from Diament here so you understand how unsettling our president seems to be in message and deed to the Jewish people.
"The president must speak not only of the U.S. and Israel sharing democratic values and strategic goals; he must speak of the Jews' biblical connection to the Holy Land. He must acknowledge that Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are the "Main Streets" of the ancient stories of the Jewish people.
…We do not want the president to be dispassionate and "even-handed." Only then will Israelis be ready to take risks for peace.
So Obama must not only say he is in Israel's corner; he must find a way to make Israelis and their American supporters feel he is in Israel's corner."
Tuesday's speech before Congress by Netanyahu closed with his gratitude to the United States, and a reminder that the U.S. has always been in Israel's corner:
"My friends, the momentous trials of the last century, and the unfolding events of this century, attest to the decisive role of the United States in advancing peace and defending freedom.
Providence entrusted the United States to be the guardian of liberty. All peoples who cherish freedom owe a profound debt of gratitude to your great nation."
It's clear Netanyahu understands the United States' importance to free people both today, and historically in the world - specifically as it relates to Israel. It's clear Netanyahu understands Israel's importance to freedom and true democracy in their region, too.
It's also clear that Israel genuinely questions President Obama's understanding of the very same. What's not so clear is just what Obama believes. But it really doesn't matter.
The fact is President Obama's loyalty is in doubt as it relates to the one true democracy in the Middle East.
Isn't that all anyone needs to know?
(Conservative talk radio host Chris Stigall, formerly of Kansas City, now works his craft in Philadelphia. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
LOOK WHO'S CONSERVATIVE NOW!
Wow, President Obama's a regular Texas oil drillin', kick down the front door, shoot-'em-up cowboy! First he killed him a terrorist. Last Saturday during his weekly radio address, he said it's time to start drilling for some black gold again. A little Bush, a little Palin – and presto! The Associated Press poll last week falsely placed his approval rating at 60%.
Halloween's not for a few more months, but his behavior is a trick--not a treat.
The president is in full campaign mode so he drug out his conservative mask for audiences everywhere. "Hey, look! I shot a bad guy and am drillin' fer oil! I'm what you've been waiting for!"
Hold the phone here. This is a man who campaigned in 2008 pledging to bankrupt coal mining. This is a man who lambasted BP and all of offshore drilling as reckless and irresponsible one year ago.
Now he's J.R. Ewing?
To make this transparent charade more believable, he can fire Eric Holder who has his fraud squad on a search and destroy mission for oil producers. After all, if the President is embracing the position that more supply will ease prices, then all his previous talk of price gouging is erroneous, right?
Next, if President Obama really wants to sell the American public on his seriousness about domestic oil production, he must fire Steven Chu. He's the wrong guy to be running the Energy Department. Chu is a green energy zombie who was hired after he said this:
"Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe ."
Clearly he's not the right guy to lead a serious effort to expand domestic oil supply, is he? Unless, you're not really serious, Mr. President?
And then there's the President himself. He has firmly established himself as a square peg for the round holes needed for "Drill, baby, drill!" Remember when Senator Obama said this about $4 gas a few years ago?
"I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment."
Well, we're here again, Mr. President. Now we're supposed to believe you are Sarah Palin in pants? Of course, it did take some time before you agreed with President Bush about enhanced interrogations. Not to mention that tax hikes are bad for the economy and Gitmo should remain open.
Still, this is the guy who advised Americans to forget about $4 gas and inflate their tires a couple of years ago. This is the guy who told us to trade in our cars if we wanted better gas mileage. This is the guy that told us we couldn't keep our houses at 72 degrees all the time.
Funny how bleeding Americans dry of disposable income hurts your chances of reelection.
President Obama has campaigned on the virtues of high gas prices, hired an Energy Secretary who sings the praises of $7 gas and an Attorney General who launches smear campaigns against the very oil companies the President now says must "Drill, baby, drill!"
Obama, Chu and Holder have no long-term intention of pulling a Palin or Bush on oil. Their speech and resumes' past tell the story.
This is nothing but an all out effort to shuck and jive their way into a second term. If Obama is reelected, can you imagine how fast he will reverse course on drilling for domestic oil and gas? And don't forget about coal. Obama hates the coal industry with a bankrupting passion even though coal powers Obama's financial sinkhole, otherwise known as electric cars.
Barack Obama will pretend to be anything you want him to be. That's what the 2008 campaign was all about. He was post-partisan. He was a tax cutter. He was going to fix all the things people like President Bush and Sarah Palin screwed up.
And now Obama agrees with Bush and Palin?
Nope, not with his track record. When given the chance, he's an authoritarian leftist hell-bent on bringing the private sector to its knees. He'll take over banks and car companies and tell us it's for their own good. He'll shut out Republicans from every policy and fiscal discussion and tell us he won so we can ride in the back of the car----- if we keep our mouths shut. And then he appointed dozens of Czars and told the Senate their advice and consent won't be necessary as long as he's President.
Obama had his chance. His current passion for drilling for oil is as phony as his feigned desire to pass immigration reform. All he wants is to be reelected --- he's on a desperate search for gullible Americans to help him finish the job he started: Making the private sector submit to his will.
Gallup's latest polling has the President back down to more believable numbers for a man presiding over our nation's decline. Just 46% approve of his job performance just one week after the AP's inflated daydream of 60%.
What is it they say in Texas? The public knows Obama's "all hat and no cattle."
(Radio host Chris Stigall can be reached at email@example.com)
PRIDE COMES AFTER BIN LADEN'S FALL
For most Americans, this week began with a feeling we’ve been missing for awhile. We’re a nation on the ropes financially. Joblessness, gas prices, and general frustration with government all run high. Sadly, in short supply for many in our nation is a sense of pride. Our Navy Seals again reminded, or reinforced for us all why there’s still plenty to be proud of in the United States.
After nearly 10 painful years of wondering where the mastermind of the most deadly attack on American soil was hiding, Osama bin Laden was assassinated Sunday in Pakistan. The details of the masterful military strike by 24 of our most elite military forces are still unfolding at this column’s deadline.
It truly is the stuff of American greatness. The much-maligned, but unquestionably effective interrogation process of terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay led to information that took us right to bin Laden’s door. Our intelligence community and military mapped out a precise strategy over a series of months.
The combination of intelligence gathering and strategic planning cleared the way for our top-flight military forces to make quick work of the world’s most despicable terrorist. In a mere 40 minutes, bin Laden was dead and presumably a treasure trove of information about his plotting, scheming, and financing was seized for our study.
Meanwhile, not a hair on the head of any of our warriors was harmed in the strike. A US military helicopter malfunctioned during the action, and was forced down. Knowing fully what had to be done even in such an “unscripted” moment, our forces destroyed our own high value helicopter lest it land in the hands of an enemy.
To the men and women who train and execute these things, it is understood as “just part of the job.” To a civilian reading the details of this action Monday morning, it was nothing short of a movie script starring superhero-style military men who carried out cliff-hanger heroics and killed “the bad guy” before the credits rolled.
If you’re not amazed at just what our forces accomplished last Sunday in Pakistan, there’s no impressing you.
Equally heart warming and pride-stirring Sunday night was how a large swath of the United States learned of bin Laden’s death. It was during America’s pastime. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball was broadcasting a late-night matchup of the New York Mets versus the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a long game, tied at 1-1 in the 8th inning. An audible buzz began to build in the stands of Citizens Bank Park. Fans were reaching for and reading their cell phones and BlackBerrys. The news alerts were beginning to break.
The President was set to make a major announcement within the hour. The broadcast crew at ESPN was trying to make sense of what they were hearing. A few minutes after the first alert, another quickly followed that the President was going to announce the death of bin Laden.
What did that mean? Was he ill? Was he found dead? Another alert comes to the fans’ phones. US military forces assassinated bin Laden in a military operation. It was this alert that led the crowd in the stadium to take their focus off the long, late night game. Slowly, the chants grew – “USA! USA! USA!”
The ESPN crew, taking a departure from their traditional commentary on the game, had no choice but to share with home viewers what the sudden celebration was all about. The crowd was cheering the news that our military had finally avenged the greatest tragedy to befall our nation.
It was a stirring, poignant, and certainly historic moment for a host of reasons. For starters, there’s the sheer symbolism of it all. A baseball game featuring one of New York’s baseball franchises taking on the team from America’s birthplace in Philadelphia.
There’s the fortuitous timing of ESPN making this game their national Sunday night broadcast.
There’s the wide spread use of technology through smart phones and social media that informed a packed stadium of news they would have never had access to until well after the game had ended just 10 years ago. Ironically, technology that may have dramatically impacted the events of 9/11 had it existed as widely then.
Presumably, there were many New Yorkers who learned of our military’s success via a baseball broadcast Sunday night. Throngs of New Yorkers descended on Times Square and the southern tip of Manhattan where the Twin Towers once stood to celebrate within the hour.
After 14 innings of baseball, the Mets beat the Phillies 2-1. The rivalry between these two teams is traditionally ugly. This night though, Phillies fans seemed almost happy to give the hard fought win to the Mets.
It's a much-needed shot in the arm for the country. Bin Laden’s assassination serves as a reminder that we are the greatest fighting force on Earth. It is a reminder that while we may sometimes falter, we never fall. It is a reminder that our armed forces are men and women of a character and capability unmatched the world over.
It’s a reminder that’s there’s still plenty to be proud of in the United States.
(Chris Stigall, formerly of Kansas City, is now a morning radio talk show host in Philadelphia. His column appears each week exclusively in your Landmark. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
IT'S TIME TO FOCUS, REPUBLICANS
As a non-elected conservative, as taxpayer, and as a person who cares about his country, I have opinions that probably differ with leaders of the established Republican Party. I disagree with some of the "would be" 2012 Republican candidates, too. But that's not important right now.
Listening to folks like Karl Rove, an enormously bright and well-read man to be sure, I had this thought for him: Don't tug on Superman's cape. Don't spit into the wind. Stop pouring water on those that drive the national debate just because you don't think they're "legitimate voices." Focus on what's really important.
Rove and some conservative commentators are coming off as distracted, petty, and unserious about the opportunity we have in front of us right now. They're continually drawn into a debate about the 2012 presidential elections and whether people like Donald Trump are legitimate contenders. We know folks like Rove also don't like Sarah Palin as a candidate. They don't like Michelle Bachmann as a candidate. They call Donald Trump a "joke candidate." But again, that's not important right now.
Maybe none of these people can win the nomination. Maybe you don't care for these people either. To be clear, I don't think Trump is a conservative by any stretch and I would never vote for him.
However, as we sit here in the middle of April, 2011, there's something about these people that must be understood: They don't like what is happening to their country, they do know who is responsible and they have put themselves in the line of political fire. I stand with all of them in defeating Barack Obama.
Millions of Americans support Bachmann and Palin because they like what they have to say. They like it even if it's not always delivered in the most "eloquent" way for the beltway Republicans' approval. Millions love the tone of urgency and toughness in Trump, even if there's a P.T. Barnum quality about the man.
To criticize these people as presidential candidates is fair game, but it's not the time. The elected Washington Republicans should be our focus, and all voices of support should be welcome.
The American people are angry. They want a perfect candidate as much - or more than the Republican establishment. But until one emerges, conservative voters are expressing their frustration and their admiration for those who will speak out and speak bluntly about their unwillingness to tolerate another four-year term of Barack Obama. Obama, a man many in the Republican establishment swooned over and laid down for in the last election cycle, it should be noted.
Right now, it's great to have showmen to speak out against Obama until a nominee shakes out. Congresswomen, former female governors and everyone else in between are welcome to the microphone, as far as I'm concerned. We need not be hosting internal food-fights. There will be time to sort out who's most electable later.
The Republican Party's elected establishment needs to focus their energies on just who's going to "message" their vision of our financial future versus Obama's. As I see it at this hour, there's an Obama vision for our country, and Congressman Paul Ryan's vision for our country. That's the fight and the debate upon which everyone should be focused.
The media will boil this budget debate down to who do you like/trust more? Obama or the "evil, faceless, cold Republican plan?" n fact, Republicans have a good looking, bright, thoughtful, articulate, warm, and not easily demonized spokesman in Paul Ryan. But he isn't running for anything, thus the press will try to turn this debate into one between people on the outside of the real debate like Trump.
Trump's not in office. Paul Ryan is. Let Trump, Bachman, Paul, etc talk all they wish. t's Paul Ryan that needs your support now.
Ryan's combination of intellect and charm can't be fully leveraged because John Boehner and others are pitching the plan with him. A plan that I don't think they communicate well. Which is why no conservatives should be taken off message with "Trump-ed up" debates about 2012.
Hey, elected Republicans! What are the top three things we need to know about the Ryan plan? How does that contrast with Obama's? How do seniors and parents of sick kids know you don't want to kill them? If Republicans don't answer these questions, Obama and the media will. And they'll fill the void with stupid discussions of "Did you hear what Trump said?"
Republicans need to get organized on this. If Paul Ryan isn't going to run for President, he should be the designated driver on this deal until the party chooses a nominee. An organized, coherent effort needs to be launched that not only clearly communicates Ryan's plan and the dangers of Obama's, but it must have a face.
Elected Republicans must have one spokesman who is going to lead the communication battle every day against the onslaught of misinformation and lies about the plan from the White House. Ryan, whether he likes it or not, has to become the face of the party for the next year. As an already elected conservative – his focus and the elected, office-holding Republican Party focus should be on leading, teaching, communicating and debating our financial future. Not debating 2012 sideshows. If the Ryan plan is to define the Republican Party for the immediate future, then commit. Leave no room for doubt about who is the spokesman and devote 100% of his time to the communication of the plan. Until further notice, Ryan should be treated as the de facto Republican nominee for President.
Ryan vs. Obama is a debate Republicans can win and win big. They can win on a personal level and win on substance. The media will do its best to destroy and distract Ryan and the plan, but it shouldn't work if Republicans stay focused.
The stakes are too high, the damage too clear, and the arguments are too distinct. The Republican Party needs to rise to the occasion. Paul Ryan is their guy until further notice. Organize around him for at least the next year. Don't get distracted by Trump and false debates about the next party nominee. Focus.
(Chris Stigall can be reached at email@example.com)
DEMOCRATS HOPE MISSOURI VOTERS ARE JUST PLAIN DUMB
It's the only thing to conclude. Missouri's Attorney General Kris Koster is now a limited government, pro federalist, Constitutional conservative. He just happens to be a member of a party that is the antithesis of those things.
Of course, Mr. Koster wasn't always a Democrat. He used to actually be what he claims he is now. Wow, just wow.
The popular news website, the Drudge Report links its readers to only the most exceptional news headlines of the day. When cities council ban McDonalds, or John Edwards has a love child, or a mailman bites a dog - Drudge is there. One of the nationally featured, top- of- the-page Tuesday headlines screamed:
"Democrat in battleground state bails on Obamacare.Joins lawsuit for repeal."
The posts linked to a New York Times and a Reuters story reporting the news that Missouri's once Republican, now Democrat AG is filing a "friend of the court" brief with an appeals court that's hearing formal legal challenges to Obamacare from other states.
For a split second, the 71% of voters who supported Proposition C in Missouri last year might have been inclined to cheer. But wait, the legal fine print of Koster's action is as flimsy as his political party affiliation.
In other words, a "friend of the court" brief is a typical career strategy move from the spaghetti-spined Koster. It is a political head-fake to those Republicans and conservatives that brought him to the political dance years ago. At the same time, it's a move designed to protect the limited liberal support he enjoyed upon switching parties in 2008.
Here's how Reuters explained the "friend of the court" brief filing:
"Koster's action does not mean Missouri has formally joined that lawsuit, which claims Obama and Congress overreached by imposing minimum coverage requirements on individuals. Indeed, in a letter to top state legislative leaders, Koster said his brief was 'not based on any opposition to the expansion of health care coverage for uninsured Americans. To the contrary, I favor the expansion of health coverage.'"
Translation: "OK, I get it. You voters are ticked about the Obamacare mandate forcing everyone to buy health insurance. I'll throw you a bone through a statement of support, but I'm not going to formally sue the federal government. I need Democrat money, and I can't go suing Obama while he's on the ballot next fall with me."
The New York Times picks it up with Koster's shape-shifting back to the right where he attempts to throw red meat to his former Republican party faithful, and Prop C supporters: "(In a letter to MO legislators) he wrote, his duty is 'to the law, and not to a political outcome.' Though Mr. Koster has been slow to weigh in, he did not mince words, arguing in the court brief that Congress had overstepped its authority by mandating that individuals buy health insurance, which he called 'a substantial blow to federalism and personal freedom.'
'If Congress can force activity under the Commerce Clause, then it could force individuals to receive vaccinations or annual checkups, undergo mammogram or prostate exams or maintain a specific body mass,' he wrote."
Did you catch what he did here? Just after saying Obamacare wasn't worth suing the feds over since he more or less supports it, Koster then calls the law unconstitutional.
So which is it? How can the chief law enforcement officer of the state of Missouri not enforce the Constitutional protections the state enjoys? Protections he's admitted the federal government has violated.
The answer is simple. As of now, the federal government is run by Democrats. Missouri's governor and senior senator are both Democrats, too. Koster needs their money and support in 2012. Also, he needs the votes of the citizens of Missouri who loathe what Democrats in Washington have done during their reign. What's a flip-flopper to do? Easy. Talk out of both sides of his mouth, and once again, just pray voters are too dumb to catch him.
Koster will have company on Missouri's ballot next fall, and not just President Obama. We can't forget the aforementioned Senator McCaskill who's equally prayerful your IQ is lacking.
Recent ethics violations involving her "just one of the folks" private jet and several hundred thousand dollars in unpaid taxes aside - Mrs. McCaskill hopes you'll forgive her original position on Obamacare. She's "seen the light," too. Sorry for the redundancy in theme here, but it cannot be forgotten. In the summer of 2009, Senator McCaskill threatened to use her "mom voice" as she chided thousands of Missourians for "being rude" at town halls when they demanded she not support Obamacare.
Nevertheless, during a D.C. snowstorm on Christmas Eve Day of 2009, she cast a critical vote to support Obamacare - complete with the individual mandate in place. A year later, Mrs. McCaskill told the Associated Press: "It's hard to get anything done without making some people mad," she said. "Overall, as time goes on, and people learn how this bill will be implemented, and learn that what they've heard is not true in regards to parts of this bill, I may be wrong, but I believe it will become more and more accepted by the people I work for. "It wasn't easy for me voting for the bill knowing how unpopular it was. But I honestly believe it was the right thing to do."
Flash forward to Jan. 5 of this year, and the good senator is singing a new tune as she sees the political writing on the wall just as Koster does. From Politico: "Speaking on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill suggested that Democrats should ditch the individual mandate required in President Obama's health reform law."
There can only be one reason Koster and McCaskill's ever-morphing position on Obmacare isn't offensive to you.
You're as dumb as they hope you are.
(Chris Stigall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN? WHO CARES?
Government shutdown? Who cares?
Obviously President Obama cares. This week was the first time he’s actually stepped to the microphone to address the topic. Now why would that be? I’ll tell you why. This conventional wisdom business about Republicans getting all of the blame is bogus, and the President knows it. Which makes it a delicious time politically for Republicans to “go for broke” on their budgetary cost-cutting proposals.
There’s been a great deal of hand-wringing over we “right wing extremists” demanding too much of the freshmen Republicans we just sent to D.C. last November. And not just from the Democrats, I’m sorry to say.
No, there are many Republican members of Congress and their staffs, as well as Republican-leaning commentators, that think it’s time to give Speaker Boehner a break and let this budget slide with less than the $100 billion he and the party promised voters last fall.
The thinking goes that the Democrats in the Senate and President Obama will never go for the full cuts, thus making Boehner look unreasonable if he holds out for more than they’re willing to give. And if Boehner doesn’t budge, then he’s Newt Gingrich circa ’94, and the House goes back into Democrat hands in 2012.
But wait. If that’s such a foregone conclusion, then why would President Obama suddenly engage on this budget issue this week? It’s an issue he has left alone since his party ran the House last year. He didn’t make a peep when Democrats skulked away last December and in an unprecedented move, just left the work undone for the new House. Now he’s concerned?
If a “shutdown” happens this week or anytime soon, you can be certain this is no 1994. The public is too informed and too angry to be spun into believing that the party they just put into power in the House is now responsible for “shutting down” the government. If that wasn’t the case, President Obama would continue his strategy of saying nothing and letting Republicans twist in the wind.
Look at the recent polling on whom voters would cast blame for a “shutdown.”
Public Policy Polling, a Democrat firm, says 41 percent would blame Republicans and 39 percent would blame Obama.
Gallup says that 42 percent say Republicans are doing a better job of reaching a budget agreement, while 39 percent say Democrats are.
The Hill says 29 percent would blame Democrats for a shutdown and 23 percent would blame Republicans.
The Washington Post says 36 percent would blame Republicans and 35 percent would blame the Obama administration.
Scott Rasmussen reports that 58 percent of likely voters would rather have a government shutdown until both parties can agree on spending cuts, while only 33 percent would prefer spending at the same levels as last year.
At the very worst, it’s a political coin toss and President Obama can ill-afford such a toss at this hour. He’s getting clobbered over his mismanagement of Libya. He just reminded his Democrat base that his promise to close Gitmo and try the 9/11 masterminds in a criminal court was a lie. Gas is flirting with $4 dollars a gallon, inflation is rising, home sales aren’t, and people have less disposable income in their pockets.
Now, can anyone say with a straight face that Boehner and newly-christened House Republicans will shoulder the full blame for a “shutdown?” I’m willing to take that chance, and anyone of principal who truly cares about the future of our nation’s financial health should be willing to do the same.
Further, let’s just stop accepting the premise that a government “shutdown” is actually anything of the sort. Don’t take it from me. Take if from the main-stream, “trusted,” not “extremist” Associated Press columnist Andrew Taylor:
“Social Security checks would still go out. Troops would remain at their posts. Furloughed federal workers probably would get paid, though not until later. And virtually every essential government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, would remain open.
That's the little-known truth about a government shutdown. The government doesn't shut down.
…Fewer than half of the 2.1 million federal workers subject to a shutdown would be forced off the job…And that's not counting 600,000 Postal Service employees or 1.6 million uniformed military personnel exempt from a shutdown.
So we're talking fewer than one in four federal workers staying at home…(and of those one in four) it would take a two-week shutdown for them to see a delay in their paychecks.
The air traffic control system, food inspection, Medicare, veterans' health care and many other essential government programs would run as usual. The Social Security Administration would not only send out benefits but would continue to take applications. The Postal Service, which is self-funded, would keep delivering the mail. Federal courts would remain open.
…But from a practical perspective, shutdowns usually aren't that big a deal.”
Incidentally, it is this Associated Press shoulder shrug that is the most telling. More than anything, a mainstream press outlet like AP would never be so dismissive of a “shutdown” if a Republican was in the White House. In fact, I’ll bet you could research their own words when it happened during the Reagan and Bush administrations to prove I’m right. Just a hunch.
Bottom line, the President’s in political trouble and so are the Democrats. This isn’t 1994, Boehner is not Gingrich, Obama certainly isn’t Clinton, and you have far more information at your fingertips than you did then.
Stand tall, Republicans. We’re not afraid of a little shutdown.
(Email Chris Stigall at email@example.com)
CAN YOU HEAR HIM NOW? GOOD.
When the iPhone 4 was released last year, the press hammered Apple CEO Steve Jobs for fumbling an official response to reception problems some customers were experiencing. Through Charlie Sheen's meltdown, the press obsessed over Warner Brothers and CBS' handling of their star in decline. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks has been making the rounds this week reasserting his company's mission after slumping sales in the last few years. The press accused him of losing focus.
If only military action in Libya warranted such scrutiny.
Truly, you can laugh or cry at the nearly negligent analysis and serious scrutiny to come out of Washington as it's related to our latest war. No, military campaign…sorry, make that "kinetic military activity."
Sure, it's a cliché, but it can't be helped. Would George W. Bush have ever gotten away with the launch of air strikes on foreign soil just moments before heading out of the country on a family vacation? Hell, he read a book to children in an elementary school for a minute or two after learning of the events of 9/11, and the left derided him as detached and rudderless. And he was attacked, not launching one.
Early last week, White House press secretary Carney definitely pushed back against the notion President Obama's travel was ill timed. "The President can walk and chew gum at the same time," he quipped.
Carney assured the press corps that Obama had all the information and equipment he needed to monitor events and manage them as they happened while in Latin America.
During Mr. Obama's travels, Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates held press conferences and gave interviews that were so wildly mixed in message, that Obama had no choice but to publicly engage.
By the middle of last week, President Obama left his family to finish their Latin American excursion without him only to return to Washington "early."
Events in Libya warranted an early return, it was later explained. Walking and chewing must have been tougher than first thought.
Was our mission to overthrow Gaddafi? Well, yes. Kind of. At first. I mean, it wasn't our military objective. Our military objective was to protect Libyan civilians from a ruthless killer. An objective we were…are, for now leading, but only for a short time. Or as long as it took to see to it Gaddafi was no longer in power. Which isn't to say we were taking him out. That's not our mission. Sure we want him out, but that's up to the rebels. Who we support, but not physically. Just in spirit.
But we want Gaddafi out, and we won't rest until he is. Not militarily, of course--that's a limited effort. Air strikes will just last days, not weeks.
Or as long as it takes to safely hand over the mission to NATO, which we're heavily involved with. But not leading. Wait, did we say we wanted Gaddafi out, or we could live with him as long as he respected the will of the rebels?
Wait, who are those rebels we're supporting?
It was Thursday of last week, then six days into our combat mission in Libya and still no word from the president directly to the American people. No meaningful petition or explanation to Congress of his action, either. Once again press secretary Carney explained away any necessity of publicly addressing the matter. The suggestion was a White House address to the nation would send the message to the American public that this was as important or serious an action as Iraq and Afghanistan.
No, of course it's not. Those are wars. Libya is, say it with me, a "kinetic military action."
The beginning of a new week found Secretaries Clinton and Gates booked on three Sunday shows to explain events in Libya. It was also announced that the president would, in fact address the nation after all a day later.
That's good, because "Bob and Hillary" continued to butcher the White House message on the Sunday shows. (Sidenote: I don't like two of our most powerful secretaries calling each other by name like they're at a barbecue. It's like casual Fridays at a bank, or students calling their teachers by their first name. )
Secretary Gates confessed we had no specific national or strategic interests in Libya, nor were their any threats to the United States as it related to Libya.
Of course, you and I both know the country is brimming with oil, and that's wholly worth our efforts. But this administration can't say that. This is the "Bush lied, people died," "No blood for oil" administration.
Mrs. Clinton quickly swooped in on top of "Bob" to reaffirm our commitment to keeping the region stable while protecting innocents from ruthless slaughter.
This, ultimately is in our national interests, she gently reminded the show host and "Bob." Sure, there's a lot of unrest and ruthless behavior going on in neighboring countries in the region, but hey, Libya just seemed like a necessary thing to do…or, something.
Finally, doing his best George W. Bush President Obama addressed the nation Monday night. Sitting tall in his saddle, furrowed brow, and staring at the teleprompter affixed to the camera directly in front of him he spoke!
He spoke with certainty. He spoke with purpose. He scolded past Presidents Clinton and Bush for a "slow to move" Bosnian action, and a "too costly to legitimize" action in Iraq. Thus, his benevolent action in Libya was the gold standard of timely military action with a healthy dose of diplomacy and plenty of international support.
Yes, once again all is right with the world. President Obama had it figured out all along. Don't we feel silly for wondering about it for 10 days?
Now then, what's CBS going to do about Two and a Half Men, and is it me, or am I dropping a lot of calls on my way to get coffee in the morning?
(Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE MELTDOWN OVER WHAT MELTDOWN?
Last week’s massive earthquake in Japan has turned into another hysterical, media-driven spectacle surrounding nuclear energy. The body count has not even been tallied from the massive tsunami that followed Friday’s quake. Yet, the sole focus of the last several days has been on the almost entirely fictitious, yet “potential” nuclear “disaster” almost “certain” to befall Japan at any moment.
Democrats who oppose the development of nuclear power as a viable option for our domestic energy needs have again cynically used a tragedy to score points on one of their signature issues.
Congressman Ed Markey (D., Mass.) who gave us the brilliance of “Cap and Trade” legislation in the House in 2009, is also an opponent of nuclear power and has warned of “another Chernobyl” in Japan. As pointed out in this column previously, men like Markey should be virtual laughingstocks after all we’ve come to understand about the myth known as man-caused global warming.
After all, this is a man – just one of a handful left – who believe carbon dioxide is a pollutant and is warming the planet. Once again, just for those who missed grade-school science class, CO2 is a nutrient plants need to survive along with water and sunlight. You and I exhale CO2, which plants then use for nourishment and in turn, provide oxygen for us to breath in.
This is one of nature’s great, God-gifted miracles of life that has now been perverted by Democrats. This must be stated with great frequency as it is utter madness and illustrative of the mentality of the people behind today’s hysterics regarding nuclear power. In very simple terms, they don’t know what they’re talking about and are willing to bet your fear will trump facts and truth as it relates to nuclear power.
Bill Tucker, author of “Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution…” wrote in Monday’s Wall Street Journal that not only is Japan not another Chernobyl, it is our government that is standing in the way of technology that could guarantee such an event would never occur again.
First, some important facts about nuclear reactors that are important to understand from Tucker’s column:
“The core of a nuclear reactor operates at about 550 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the temperature of a coal furnace and only slightly hotter than a kitchen oven. If anything unusual occurs, the control rods immediately drop, shutting off the nuclear reaction. You can't have a "runaway reactor," nor can a reactor explode like a nuclear bomb. A commercial reactor is to a bomb what Vaseline is to napalm. Although both are made from petroleum jelly, only one of them has potentially explosive material.”
With that it mind, it is important to also understand why Japan has been facing a “potential meltdown” in the first place. The tsunami cut the electricity needed to operate the plant. In laymen’s terms, the current nuclear reactors used today are a second-generation design. To keep cool, they need electricity to pump water. No electricity+ no water pumping = “potential meltdown.”
Even with the above equation in play, two facts still prevent a “potential meltdown.” First, seawater is/was being used to flood the plant in lieu of electric pumps. Second, as Tucker pointed out “Chernobyl had no containment structure” as Japan’s plant does and all plants do today.
Tucker concludes, “If a meltdown does occur in Japan, it will be a disaster for the Tokyo Electric Power Company but not for the general public. Whatever steam releases occur will have a negligible impact. Researchers have spent 30 years trying to find health effects from the steam releases at Three Mile Island and have come up with nothing. With all the death, devastation and disease now threatening tens of thousands in Japan, it is trivializing and almost obscene to spend so much time worrying about damage to a nuclear reactor.”
Even so, this entire hypothetical discussion could be prevented if our government and stooges like Markey were willing to get out of the way of licensing a new, Generation III reactor that requires no electricity to pump water whatsoever. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been in a bureaucratic lockdown over this new design for seven years.
Without getting too lost in the weeds on nuclear technology, the facts remain. Nuclear power is safe and there is and never will be anything along the lines of a Chernobyl-style disaster – even in a 9.0 earthquake. The required designs simply don’t allow for it. You are more likely to die in a wind-farm accident than you are from a nuclear power plant accident. Look it up for yourself.
What we’re seeing in Japan is what the nation saw at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania back in 1979. Sure, a lot of hyperbole. Yes, a lot of fear and hysterical media coverage. But lost in it all are the facts that not a single person died as a result of that event, nor has any meaningful link ever been established to sickness from radiation.
Tucker’s Wall Street Journal column points out that the level of radiation released into the air at Three Mile Island and (as of this writing) at the nuclear plant in Japan is no more than your average dental x-ray.
When nuclear energy in the United States is studied through our media’s lens, it’s not a meltdown we have to fear. It’s a meltdown of honest coverage and information that’s most alarming.
(Conservative radio talker Chris Stigall can be reached at email@example.com)
THE AUDACITY OF INDIFFERENCE
Four-dollar-a-gallon gas. Unemployment and underemployment in perpetual double-digits. Trillions of dollars in deficit spending with no end in sight. The Middle East in flux as despot leaders kill their own citizens for simply speaking out. Yes, these are troubling times that call for bold, responsible leadership in the White House.
Just over two years ago, our 44th president assumed office telling us that’s just what he stood for, remember?
"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility--a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."
Seems a lot of folks don’t feel Mr. Obama is giving his all, or even some of his all.
It’s not really just the “right wing” conservatives among us that think President Obama is failing to lead these days. The left is joining in the chorus too. Certainly we can disagree on the issues which Mr. Obama is failing to lead, but one thing is clear: That big sucking sound in Washington is a leadership vacuum just waiting to be filled.
The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, a traditional Obama ally in an Obama-friendly newspaper, wrote last week:
“For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president. There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action - unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful.”
Ms. Marcus’ comments ring especially true for our nation’s budget.
Republicans have waited more than two years for the president to lead responsibly. He has not gladly or otherwise seized a leadership role in any difficult task. Obama has played the role of “Candy Man” for public sector union yet he's AWOL on the budget. Meanwhile, our country is operating on two-week budgets at this hour. Think about this. The country with the biggest economy on the planet doesn't have a fiscal plan that extends beyond two regularly scheduled NFL games.
Democrats in the House didn't pass a budget last year at all before they left power. President Obama didn't have a problem with Nancy Pelosi not passing a budget then, either. The CEO of the federal government didn't give a damn that the United States of America was operating by the seat of its pants and spending its way into financial ruin. Now, Democrats are stonewalling efforts to pass a responsible budget for the rest of this year, too.
So what’s the leader of the free world, with the largest economy in the world, do? He signs a two-week extension that runs out next week. That's right, the government has borrowed funds to operate for about as long as a bad cold.
Most House Republicans are doing their level best to usher in a new era of responsibility, but the president of the United States wants nothing to do with it.
Flatly, this is irresponsible and an embarrassment. President Obama won't lead on spending cuts and he won't lead on entitlement reform. He has some pens and a seal that says he's the president, but he sure doesn't act like it. For the first time in our adult lives, we have a president who doesn't know how to work with Congress to put together a stinking budget and I, for one, am not proud of that. Maybe Mrs. Obama is, but I'm not.
He finds time for golf, but no time to meet with Congress on the budget. He finds time for parties, but no time for adult decisions on entitlement reform. He has time for endless meetings with union bosses, but no time to meet with the Legislative Branch to usher in a “new era of responsibility.”
You know when a new era of responsibility was ushered in? Nov. 2, 2010.
Why is Barack Obama president? What is his purpose? Who can truly stand tall this hour and say – “I’m proud that’s our leader?” No wonder people like Donald Trump are contemplating running for president. Someone has to do the work. Someone has to do what President Obama described his first day on the job.
West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is in a tough re-election bid back home next year, and he seems to see it, too. On Tuesday of this week while addressing the issue of the budget, Senator Manchin asked, “Why are we doing all this when the most powerful person in these negotiations — our president — has failed to lead this debate or offer a serious proposal for spending and cuts that he would be willing to fight for?”
On the issue of leadership, it seems some Democrats, most conservatives and even the kooky Hollywood left agree. Actor Matt Damon, a huge Obama supporter in 2008, may have had one of the best lines of the week on this issue.
When asked if he was happy with the way the president is running the country, Damon said, point blank, "No."
"I really think he misinterpreted his mandate,” said Damon.
“A friend of mine said to me the other day, I thought it was a great line, 'I no longer hope for audacity.'”
(Email Chris Stigall at firstname.lastname@example.org)
FACTS NOT ON THE SIDE OF PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS
If there’s one thing media and the political left loves, it’s emotion. Facts are stubborn things that aren’t ever to get in the way of compelling “human interest” narratives. We’ve been treated to a dearth of public sector union victimhood stories in recent weeks. The plight of the “working man” victimized by the cold, union busting Republicans. But lost in it all are the facts.
Fact: Not quite 12% of all workers in the United States are unionized. Of those, over half are public sector, taxpayer supported union workers. Said another way, almost 90% of America’s workforce pledge no loyalty or money to a union.
Fact: According to a recent Rasmussen survey, a plurality of Americans think it’s a bad thing that public school teachers are unionized – 46%. A plurality also believe they are some of the most important jobs in our country. So no, American taxpayers don’t hate teachers.
They don’t like them unionized.
Fact: Public sector unions, again, the majority of all union members – gave the Democratic party $400 million dollars in 2008. The biggest public employee union – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - gave Democrats $90 million in the last election cycle. The NEA gave Democrats $40 million alone.
Fact: The Democratic members of the Wisconsin and Indiana legislature have fled their state, evading law enforcement agencies by crossing state lines and refusing to participate in their sworn, constitutional, democratically elected duties. They are doing so to stop the Republican majority legislature from passing state budgets they don’t support.
Fact: Most states are constitutionally bound to balance their budgets each year, while the federal government can recklessly deficit spend into eternity.
Fact: Federal government workers aren’t allowed to unionize.
Did you know that? Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal makes one of the most important points in this entire debate last week. It is simply too brilliant to exclude from a column full of facts. The following are Strassel’s contributions of fact:
Fact: President Obama is the boss of a civl work force that numbers up to two million (excluding postal workers and uniformed military).
Fact: Those federal workers cannot bargain for wages or benefits.
Fact: Washington, D.C. is, in the purest sense, a “right to work zone.” Federal employees are not compelled to join a union, nor pay union dues.
Fact: Neither Mr. Obama, nor the prior Democratic majority, ever acted to give their union chums a better federal deal.
Fact: In 1978, the Democrat majority in Congress, led by President Jimmy Carter passed the Civil Service Reform Act. Democrats weren’t then (and aren’t now) about to let their federal employees dictate pay.
Strassel concluded, “The Washington pols aren’t about to let unions run their town….All this explains why Mr. Obama has gone quiet on Wisconsin…As the world is painfully aware, Mr. Obama is under no obligation to balance his budget. So to whack Gov. Walker (WI) for his efforts to do so might strike some Americans as irresponsible, especially as the president is working to convince them that he really does care about deficits.
“…If the president is so worried about Wisconsin’s (public sector union members), why has he never taken up federal bargaining rights? …how dare Mr. Obama unilaterally declare a federal pay freeze? (How is it) that Wisconsin is wrong to ask for the same budget flexibility that he enjoys as president?”
Great, factually based questions if you ask me, Ms. Strassel. Now, more facts.
Fact: In 41 of the 50 states, public employees earn higher average pay and benefits than private workers in the same state, according to USA Today. Public sector employees’ compensation has grown faster than the earnings of private workers since 2000 nationwide. The primary cause is the rising value of benefits.
Fact: Missouri and Kansas are two of the nine remaining states where public sector unions don’t outpace the private sector workers’ pay and benefits. So there’s a small silver lining.
Fact: Overall, nearly six in 10 (59%) Americans surveyed in February think the federal government has too much power, 31% believe it has the right amount of power and 7% say it has too little power. (IBD/Tipp)
Fact: Registered Independents when added to registered Republicans believe in smaller government compared to registered Democrats 63% to 33%. Self-identified conservatives and moderates outnumber self-identified liberals nationally 79% to 19%. (IBD/Tipp)
Yes, facts are stubborn things. The American workforce just doesn’t see eye-to-eye with union demands anymore. Our nation’s unemployment has remained over 9% for many months, and those that are “underemployed” combine to make that number over 17%.
Even private sector union members like those in the UAW have had to make massive concessions in pay and benefits to save their jobs, while public sector union members have made virtually none.
The American people understand our nation, and most of our states are broke. The American people are growing increasingly intolerant of thuggish demands and cowardly politicians when dealing with our tax dollars.
Facts are not on the side of public sector unions and Democrats in this national debate on spending.
Facts are stubborn, stubborn things.
(Send email to email@example.com)
Monday was President’s Day yet I found myself celebrating some of the nation’s governors instead. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to name a few. Today, they share more in common with the men we celebrate on President’s Day than our current commander in chief.
Presidents Washington and Lincoln--once considered great and worthy of their own respective days--have now been smashed into one day of remembrance. It’s primarily government employees who are given the day off to “celebrate” while most of America still rushes through their workday.
The irony in that this year, of course, is several public sector employees who enjoyed the day off are in the streets of some of the aforementioned governor’s capital cities protesting. Protesting the attempt to reform the bankrupt formula of their taxpayer funded pensions and health care benefits that have individual states on the brink of financial ruin.
In Wisconsin, public school teachers illegally staged a “sickout” to march on Madison and shout down Gov. Walker as he stares down the barrel of a $3.6 billion dollar deficit gun.
Walker hasn’t even proposed a wage decrease or massive layoffs; he has simply proposed teachers’ unions pony up a little more. The governor proposed raising the public employee share of health insurance premiums from less than 5% to 12.4%. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions.
To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in public sector unions' collective bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box. Additionally, the proposed law would give union members the option of contributing union dues from their paychecks instead of an automatic deduction. Gee, what would upset union leaders about giving their rank-and-file the choice of paying dues?
In New Jersey, Gov. Christie has already had this fight on the national stage and shows no sign of backing down. During a speech last week in Washington D.C., Christie recounted his dealings with his state’s firefighters union last year. The governor had proposed raising their retirement age, eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment, increasing employee pension contributions, and rolling back a 9% pay increase approved years before – by Republicans, incidentally.
As he delivered the news to the jeering, booing audience of firefighters, Christie wadded up his prepared remarks and threw them on the floor. He decided to shoot them straight.
"Here's the deal: I understand you're angry, and I understand you're frustrated, and I understand you feel deceived and betrayed. For 20 years, governors have come into this room and lied to you, promised you benefits that they had no way of paying for, making promises they knew they couldn't keep, and just hoping that they wouldn't be the man or woman left holding the bag. I understand why you feel angry and betrayed and deceived by those people. Here's what I don't understand. Why are you booing the first guy who came in here and told you the truth?"
Christie’s candor continued.
"The way we used to think about politics and, unfortunately, the way I fear they're thinking about politics still in Washington" involves "the old playbook [which] says, "lie, deceive, obfuscate and make it to the next election…You may hate me now, but 15 years from now, when you have a pension to collect because of what I did, you'll be looking for my address on the Internet so you can send me a thank you note.'"
After Gov. Christie finished his speech in Washington last week called “Big Things,” members of the media began to press him once again on the issue so many across the country have wondered. Would he consider taking this tough talk all the way to the White House? Would he consider a run for the presidency?
As he has so many times before, the governor glibly said his wife would “kill him” if he did. He went on to repeat the same seemingly honest answer he had many times prior when pundits and politicos across the country cheered the idea. He claims it’s something you’ve got to feel in your heart, that you have to want to preside over the nation. He says he frankly just doesn’t feel “ready” for the job and not particularly qualified at this juncture.
Governor, much of the country respectfully disagrees.
Two of the men we celebrate this week were not only “not ready,” but by all outside measures were colossal failures when the nation called upon them. Abraham Lincoln, a man who presided over a nation more fractious and torn than at any time before or since, not only held that nation together but freed an entire race of people in the process. But prior to such a monumental moment in history, Lincoln was a man who had a list of professional and political failures that might not get you elected dogcatcher today.
General George Washington was not a particularly successful wartime leader. He was, however, considered by a plurality of the men we call our Founding Fathers the one true statesman they all needed at divisive time.
Washington reluctantly accepted. After four years, he was asked to stick around, despite his continued protests. After eight years, Washington voluntarily transferred power to our nation’s second president and walked out the front door to go home. No nation, no world leader had ever done such a thing without a bloody battle.
He gave up his seat of power willingly as he felt he’d done what was required of him, and that no one person should overstay such an important welcome. Imagine that. A reluctant leader who knew his country needed him, knew what they needed to hear, and instinctively knew when it was time to go.
Do people like these exist today in politics? I believe they do. They’re in our state capitals. We need them in the White House again.
(Chris Stigall, formerly of Kansas City, is a conservative radio host in Philadelphia. Read his column only in The Landmark and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
OBAMA TRYING HIS BEST TO WEAKEN AMERICA
Fresh off a recent trip to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. some “conservative” commentators think it’s time to make nice in the national debate. Call it a buy-in on the “new tone” silliness from Democrats, or a nervousness that conservatism can’t win despite the elections of just last November. Whatever the reason, the conservative movement is still herding some wayward sheep.
The allegedly conservative radio host Michael Medved penned an opinion piece this week attacking colleague Rush Limbaugh. He believes Limbaugh and other conservatives to be “imbecilic” for suggesting President Obama purposefully presides over the decline of the United States:
“…as a political strategy it qualifies as almost perfectly imbecilic. Republicans already face a formidable challenge in convincing a closely divided electorate that the president pursues wrong-headed policies. They will never succeed in arguing that those initiatives have been cunningly and purposefully designed to wound the republic.”
Well, Mr. Medved, let’s look at the facts. Since Barack Obama’s inauguration, America is demonstrably weaker. By every measure.The numbers don't lie. They are heart-breaking.The past two years brought Independents to the conclusion they made a terrible mistake voting for Obama. The November elections were a repudiation of Obama's policies – policies that have made America weaker.
Voters overwhelmingly declared Obama's economic plans a failure, plans of which Obama remains exceedingly proud. Further, Independents joined with Republicans to stop Obamacare because it has been proven every which way that Obamacare weakens America's private sector health care system.
That was their expressed plan. Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats have told us that is the plan. They want a government-run, single payer system and to do that they must destroy what we have now. They know what's happening to premiums. They know what's happening to insurance companies and the private sector. The plan to weaken private health care is working as intended.
Yet Michael Medved tells us in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal that to conclude that President Obama is purposefully trying to weaken America is "imbecilic."
What is "imbecilic" is an American president apologizing for the greatest country on our cooling Earth. Obama spent his first two years in office talking down the Reagan and Bush economies, Reagan and Bush tax cuts, Reagan and Bush's freedom agenda and American exceptionalism. What do you call that, Mr. Medved? I call it a plan to weaken America.
The stated purpose of the left is to run the private sector through regulation or takeover. They wish to keep our borders open and strengthen bodies such as the United Nations. Their purpose is to slash the military's budget (check Obama's budget) and their purpose is to redistribute wealth from those who push the wagon to those who want a free ride (again, see the new Obama budget). That is a published agenda of weakness. And after two years of spending the country into bankruptcy, Barack Obama is coming out with a budget that keeps us on that path. What the hell do you call that, Mr. Medved?
Would Medved prefer to label Obama an incompetent, inexperienced fool who's betting on the rest of the world failing worse than us? To say it's on purpose is to concede that Barack Obama is a bright man who understood all too well the economic and foreign policy problems Reagan inherited from Jimmy Carter. And since Obama is a brilliant thinker along the lines of Lincoln, Kennedy and Reagan---- we are told this most every day---- then when Obama threw the Reagan blueprint for economic recovery in the trash, Barack Obama knew exactly what he was doing.
Obama could have cut spending, regulations and taxes. He deliberately did what America did in the 1930's. And what happened then? America became weak.
Does it really matter come 2012 whether Barack Obama is an incompetent fool or wants to remake America? Well, if the truth matters, we should judge Barack Obama on his background, his years of denigrating America, free markets and his love for redistributive politics. To say that Barack Obama has no agenda to change the country from the world's sole super power to becoming just one of many welfare states tightly controlled by a small number of authoritarians in Washington and in the United Nations is, at best, ignorant. At worst, it's propaganda. Either way, it isn't reality.
Fortunately, the American people have made the decision to stop Obama and reverse course. We want our country back and we're going to do just that. And we'll do it despite the president's lies like Obamacare and general contempt for our laws.
Yes, Mr. Medved. I said it. The president's not just presiding over decline, but he’s lawless in doing it. We have a president who is deliberately ignoring the law of the land as spelled out by the judicial branch. He is suing Arizona for their tough illegal immigration laws. He is in contempt of court at this hour by ignoring a Louisiana judge’s orders to withdraw the off-shore drilling moratorium he imposed last year. He is ignoring two federal judges rulings that Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional.
We’re supposed to believe this isn’t purposeful? We’re supposed to believe he’s unaware of the havoc being wrought on our economy? Sorry Medved, but true conservatives and much of the electorate ain’t buying what you’re selling.
Barack Obama is clearly trying his level best to weaken America and hat's off to him. He's accomplishing exactly that.
(Chris Stigall, formerly of Kansas City, is a conservative radio host in Philadelphia. Read his column only in The Landmark and email him at email@example.com
WHO INVITED HIM TO THE SUPER BOWL?
It’s a tradition that’s becoming as much a part of football as the Super Bowl. At least once a season, some half-cocked liberal proudly mouths off that they’ve discovered an irony as it relates to conservatives enjoying professional football. This year, comedian (and I use that term loosely) Bill Maher called the play from the Democrat huddle: “Americans must realize what makes NFL football so great: socialism.”
This argument is so tired and silly. You’ve probably heard it before if you’re a conservative and a fan of the NFL. In case you haven’t, it’s an instructive peek inside the desperate brains of a losing argument. It’s also important you know how to refute it just in case you run into a lib this weekend at your watch party. First, some of the clichéd claims from Maher:
“…they (the NFL) literally share the wealth, through salary caps and revenue sharing - TV is their biggest source of revenue, and they put all of it in a big commie pot and split it 32 ways. Because they don't want anyone to fall too far behind. That's why the team that wins the Super Bowl picks last in the next draft.”
The premise is so silly. The idea that Maher or any lefty would focus like a lazer on certain rules within an elite club of billionaires and say – “Hey, that’s soclialism at work” is demented. The NFL is a business model, not a government system. Football is a game, not a country with a multi-faceted economy or a head of state.
Let’s first broadly define socialism for guys like Maher who think it’s great, but don’t really understand what they’re talking about. Socialism is a term and a style to describe government. Not a private club or a league or a team. Socialism, properly defined is the means of producing, distributing, and totally controlling all goods and services by a centralized government. A command and control centralized entity that owns everything and distributes everything.
A private business model like the National Football League is comprised of 32 individual owners who all vary in wealth, status, and performance. That’s hardly akin to the nation of Venezuela. If Maher’s delusional theory even came close to having merit, then every team in the league would have to be owned by one individual. And when guys like Maher then say, “well what about the commissioner who lords over all the teams?” Simply put, a commissioner can be fired…you can’t fire a fascist or socialist ruler.
It is also worth pointing out that each of the 32 teams in the NFL is made up of 53 individual players who vary in pay and all those players work with dozens of coaches and assistants. And when guys like Maher then say, “but what about the salary cap? The salary cap is socialism.” Explain to them slowly that there is not a private business model anywhere that doesn’t have a limit on pay for employees. For instance, as much as I wish Mr. Foley would pay me a preferred six-figure paycheck for this column, I don’t think The Landmark could justify the expense for too long.
NFL players’ salaries vary from several hundred thousand dollars up to tens of millions. Beyond their salary, the individual player can go get millions more in endorsements. Players constantly make outside investments and business deals, which is where even more serious money can be earned. Owners, meanwhile build shiny new, or newly remodeled stadiums like Arrowhead. A mix of tax incentives and mostly private investment pay for those projects. Maher’s thesis would hold only if Arrowhead was remodeled through revenue sharing between owners or on the backs of the players and coaches.
Finally, the idea of talent acquisition being related to socialism is probably the biggest stretch, but I’ll try to entertain it. First round picks can be one of the cruelest competitive tricks in football. Why? Because strong teams already have quality, proven players on whom they spend the lion’s share of their money. Meanwhile, the league sometimes indirectly penalizes struggling teams by forcing them to take up most of their salary cap for unproven players teams “hope” will perform for big money. In other words, teams cannot miss on an expensive single, unproven player or their already losing team just picked up one more expensive loser.
In fact, the best teams are making conservative decisions with their money and rewarding their top performers, while turning their lower round draft picks into future performers for less money. Owners and managers must make smart decisions based on merit. Someone who has never played a down in the NFL doesn’t usually deserve tons of money. In other words, it’s a merit pay system, not a socialist system where everyone is paid the same.
Maher, and those like him falsely make all players sound equal just because there's a salary cap. Say, just how many UAW line workers have an agent like a football player? How about schoolteachers? Nope, those folks have union representatives who negotiate all of their salaries, and a scheduled ladder to climb as determined by the union. That’s hardly the NFL. Long snappers aren’t making quarterback money, folks.
A professional football team is made up of 53 individuals, all fighting for their share of the limited money. Even without a cap, teams wouldn't have limitless pots of money to spend. And players with big paychecks can still be fired tomorrow. If Maher’s scenario were to work, there would have to be a player welfare payment system and a job placement program to help the fired player find a new team.
Finally, there’s no limit to the earning potential retired players and coaches can enjoy as broadcasters, pitchmen, and executives. Their career trajectory is so absurdly opposite of a socialist laborer it’s almost silly to waste the ink refuting it. There are 32 individually owned teams. The individually owned teams are made of individually paid performers – who through exceptional individual play try to dominate and defeat all others – ultimately for a bigger piece of the revenue pie. At best, it’s a Milton Bradley board game with real money.
So, when some yahoo liberal pops off with Maher’s silly socialist sales pitch at your Super Bowl party this year, just hand him this column and turn up the volume on the TV. But keep the column, because this argument–like the Super Bowl – will be back next season.
(Reach our radio man Chris Stigall at firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE NEGATIVITY IS DUE TO THE WAY DEMS GOVERNED
The State of Our Union Is?
That was the assignment to listeners of the radio show this week on Facebook. If you were to address the nation, how would you finish this sentence? The state of the union is ____________. Not surprisingly, most folks were not terribly optimistic. While not having seen the address prior to concluding this column for the week, one can presume President Obama won’t say what most of you said:
"Exactly the way it's supposed to be after big government manipulates, regulates and spends trillions of taxpayer dollars "fixing" it." – Kenneth
"Doomed, unless conservatives keep the pressure on." – David
"In shambles. We have over spent, over borrowed, and over estimated the American people. But we as progressive liberals really don't care, because we know best. I am no longer going to spend your money, but invest it instead."– Steve
"Embarrassing!" – Kim
Now, I know that all sounds pretty uncivil. But that’s the way the majority of the voting public feels. I can already tell you that after having watched that speech by the time you read this, you’ll be led to believe that the previous Facebook comments are some kind of anomaly. Just more vitriol from a few hateful nuts.
As we’ve discussed here over the past couple of weeks, this entire exercise in “civility” is actually a very artfully crafted trap to marginalize the majority national opinion reflected in those earlier comments. Instead, this week’s speech was supposed to celebrate political hand-holding, ribbon wearing, and “tearing down the things that divide us.” This week’s speech was supposed to be the high water mark for President Obama as he sets a new tone and reminds us once again “we can be better.”
Well, he’s right about that. The American people elected a new majority because they know we can do better. After two years of the one-night-stand, puppy-love relationship with President Obama, it is time to get serious about our future. Now, Republicans are introducing and voting on legislation that will begin to truly make us “better.” They are introducing legislation that reflects what the people want. They are voting to repeal and replace Obamacare with free market solutions and they are proposing dramatic spending cuts. They have already forced the extension of the Bush tax rates. This is the practical expression of "we can be better."
That’s the real point, here. Being “better” is more than empty words while legislating in a destructive, take-no-prisoners fashion. “Better” is not found simply in a visual show of sitting together. “Better” must be shown. Republicans are waiting for Democrats to work with them to give the people what they want. Can Democrats be better? Their votes and actions will answer that question. As of the last month, the answer doesn’t seem positive.
Democrats attempted to link conservatives with a madman's murders. States largely run by Democrats have spent themselves into bankruptcy. To no one's surprise, Democrat-supporting unions continue to be infected by the mob. It was a Democrat who recently compared Republicans with Nazis due to Republicans' desire to have free markets as opposed to a national government provide health care.
On the bright side, Democrats wanted to sit next to Republicans at the State of the Union address. President Obama says we can be better and urges less hostility and more civility in our public discourse. Once again, the maddening truth about the negativity or hostility that exists in this country today is largely due to Democrats and the way they governed over the last two years.
It started in town halls and spilled over into the election. A majority of voters in the United States were outraged at the manner in which a law known as "Obamacare" came into existence.
Now Obama says he wants everyone to be nice on one condition: Obamacare remains intact. We are supposed to forgive and forget his uncivil behavior (bribes, secrecy, CBO deceit, propaganda, smears, threats) and dummy up. No repeals, no apologies, no nothing. He's ready to be civil if we are.
Obamacare was and is an outrage. A call for "civility" is a call for censorship and it is also a demand to ignore an unconstitutional bill that Obama rubs in our face with thousands of new regulations robbing us of our liberties and enforced with 16,000 IRS agents. That's civil? It destroys the economy, doctors, freedom and our health care system, but let's forget all that and get along. Starting today, let's be civil as we live under an unconstitutional law that if put to voters today, would go down in flames.
The civil thing to do is repeal Obamacare. If Obama cared about civility he never would have signed that abomination into law.
There’s no doubt President Obama can give a great speech about greatness. President Reagan gave great speeches, too. But there is a reason we remember the words of Reagan while we forget the words of Carter, and one day, I suspect Obama.
Obama can give a great speech, but he hasn't yet delivered a single great result.
Obamacare is supposed to be his legacy and that is an economic and health care disaster. Just wait and see what happens with gas prices--- they are high and climbing. Obama's moratorium on drilling in the Gulf has sealed the fate of high energy prices.
No matter what Obama says going forward about the state of the union, he and his Republican opposition will ultimately be judged by their actions on the economy, jobs, gas prices, inflation, home sales, and disposable income. The state of the union depends on him getting it right or being defeated to save it.
(Reach radio host/Landmark columnist Chris Stigall at email@example.com)
POLITICIANS AND CELEBS--FRAGILE, HANDLE WITH CARE
How do you make a fruit cordial? Be nice to him, I guess. It’s a great Rat Pack, Vegas-era joke that still gets a laugh. At least it does from me. But then, I peddle “vitriolic, right-wing hate” for a living, so of course I find it funny. I suppose a more civil, sensitive, enlightened American would sit in stunned offense at such a “mean-spirited attack.”
Another week brings another visit from the civility police. This time, the press is in a dither over the protected, defenseless demographic known as Hollywood celebrities.
Somewhere, Milton Berle must be rolling in his grave.
Ricky Gervais, the British actor and comedian was tapped this year to return for a second stint as host of the 2011 Golden Globe Awards. Honestly, I haven’t a clue as to what makes the Golden Globes important. They say it’s a run up to the Oscars, and a good indicator of actors and films that might win later in the year. At any rate, it’s pretty important to the players in the land of make-believe. Apparently, very important and Gervais had the audacity not to respect that this year.
His jokes were described as “near the knuckle.” The Los Angeles Times noted "a visible contingent in the glitzy crowd was palpably discomfited by the British comic's full-frontal joke assault, which set a corrosive tone for this year's ceremony". The Washington Post lamented: "Are we at war with England? If not, then why have we been subjected to two years of Ricky Gervais hosting the Golden Globe Awards?"
It’s likely you’re reading this and wondering, “Wow, what’d I miss?” These awards shows are not exactly appointment viewing for most of us any more, if they ever were. Which is precisely why Gervais was hired the last two years, presumably.
Ratings for the broadcast were up in 2010 from the year prior. Ratings for this year’s broadcast were even higher than last. It’s the same old format, and the same old stars, so it would stand to reason Gervais was the draw.
During my adult life, there has never been a time another one of my male friends called me up to say, “Hey, the Golden Globes are on tonight. You might want to watch.” That happened this year. “Gervais is back as host, and it got pretty raw last year,” he said. So I tuned in, as did millions of others for just the same reason.
But then, that’s a typical reaction for we – the uncivil. We like sacred cows slaughtered, and third rails touched. Spare me another peek into a room full of air kissing, Champaign-sipping phonies patting one another on the back for their cultural importance. If most of us cared about that, we’d all be actors. We want to be entertained, not watch entertainers entertain themselves. Gervais came to entertain at the expense of the entertainers and he didn’t disappoint.
He introduced Robert Downey Jr. saying: "Many of you in this room probably know him best from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail..."
When introducing Tom Hanks and Tim Allen who appeared together to present an award, Gervais fired away: "What can I say about our next two presenters? The first is an actor, producer, writer and director whose movies have grossed over $3.5bn at the box office. He's won two Academy Awards and three Golden Globes for his powerful and varied performances starring in such films as Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Castaway, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan. The other is Tim Allen."
Gervais’ biggest “assult” of the evening was directed at Tom Cruise, the actor who practices Scientology, and rumored for years to lead a sexually “closeted” lifestyle.
Referring to the film I Love You Phillip Morris, Gervais said it was about "two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay - so the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists, then.” The audience nervously tittered, shuffled, mumbled, and gasped as Gervais finished saying, “My lawyers helped me with the wording of that joke.”
Stars like Robert Downey Jr. began to push back during the broadcast. "Aside from the fact that it's been hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I'd say the show's going pretty good so far, wouldn't you?” In a post-show press conference, Downey continued, “"I think it's great to be funny, but it's just better if you can do it without hurting people."
Ugh. Two decades in and out of prison and rehabilitation facilities, and still showing up to award shows before millions of viewers – and now he’s sensitive and shy?
When Tom Hanks and Tim Allen took the stage, Hanks felt the need to address Gervais’ tone, too. "You know, like many of you we recall back when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian."
"Neither of which he is now," said a clearly annoyed Allen.
On behalf of a newly maligned class in the entertainment business, I’d like to welcome Ricky Gervais to the club. The endangered free-speech club, made up mostly of conservative politicians, tea-party activists, radio talk show hosts, and now apparently – comics.
The civility patrol is on the march. Criticisms of left-leaning policies and politicians are now condemned as “uncivil.” Jokes about self- aggrandizing celebrities are now also taboo for our nation’s new “tone.” Never mind most of the celebrities would have cheered a Palin joke with revelry. Never mind many of them have made fortunes assailing the political right. But just like Washington liberals get to determine what’s civil, Hollywood elites get to determine what’s funny. Conservatives and Gervais are neither, they tell us.
Still, Americans sent a new conservative majority to Congress last fall and watched the Golden Globes in impressive numbers this year. It’s good to have a few dozen celebrities and a minority party in Congress around to keep the rest of us honest. I guess we really are one mean-spirited country.
(Reach radio host/Landmark columnist Chris Stigall at firstname.lastname@example.org. You won’t hurt his feelings)
THE PARTISAN PIED PIPER OF PIMA COUNTY
I’m not afraid to admit it. When news of the tragic shooting in Tuscon, AZ broke last weekend, my first thought was about political affiliation. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot at point blank range, and many more were tragically wounded and killed as a deranged mad man opened fire on a crowd at an official congressional event. “Is Giffords a Democrat or a Republican?” I asked out loud.
Let’s face it. If you’re a conservative you knew where this was going when you heard Ms. Giffords was a Democrat. As a talk radio host, I knew exactly what was coming. What I could never have imagined was just how swiftly, and recklessly it would occur. Nor could I imagine from whom we’d first hear it. The Arizona Republic shares my disgust for the county sheriff on the crime scene, who turned a tragedy into political theater in tastelessly record time:
“On Saturday afternoon, with his friend Gabby Giffords in surgery fighting for her life, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik railed against the tense partisan politics - "the anger, the hatred, the bigotry" - that prompted the mass murders outside Tucson, in his view.
…Dupnik stood before the cameras interpreting the shootings as politically motivated, despite an increasing weight of evidence depicting the shooting suspect, Jared Loughner, as a mentally ill young man who rambled incoherently about pervasive bad grammar and other apolitical obsessions.
…Dupnik used the opportunities to blame Arizona's lax, new gun laws and, again, the angry "rhetoric" of talk radio. The shootings were spurred, he suggested, by "the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates."
So it began. The New York Times, left-leaning websites, and Democrat members of Congress all followed the partisan pied piper of Pima County. While discussing Saturday's shooting in Tucson MSNBC host Chris Matthews specifically named talk radio hosts Mark Levin and Michael Savage as culpable for the mental state of the shooter.
"Every time you listen to them, they are furious. Furious at the left. With anger that just builds and builds in their voice and by the time they go to commercial they are just in some rage every night with some ugly talk. Ugly sounding talk and it never changes," Matthews said.
The last week of phony analysis regarding the “tone” of American politics and political speech has nothing to do with this tragedy. Those that are peddling this false debate are purposely deceptive and duplicitous in doing so. Those that are doing this are on the political left, and they’re getting away with it because it was a Democrat who was shot.
In truth, they don’t appear to be getting away with it, no matter how disgustingly hard they push this angle. A new CBS poll released this week finds the majority of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats in the United States do not believe “rhetoric” drove the shooter. Even left-leaning comic Jon Stewart, host of the “Daily Show” disavowed such a notion. “…I wouldn’t blame our political rhetoric anymore than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine,” said Stewart.
If this maniacal gunman had shot a Republican member of the House, there would be a different discussion by the press and the left. No calls for “toned down, measured” discourse, rather calls for more gun control. The left would try to score points by making the case that a mentally ill man “slipped through the cracks” of an “underfunded” mental health system. In fact, were this a Republican member of Congress in the hospital today, there would no doubt be veiled implications that their very party’s “draconian cuts in health care spending” led to the tragedy.
There can be no doubt that this tragedy was seen as an opportunity by a recently damaged and discredited political left to inflict some public relations retribution on the new majority in Washington. Simultaneously, it served as an entrée into another straw-man relationship between talk radio, free speech and violence.
Rep. Robert Brady (D-Penn.) said he would introduce legislation making it a federal crime "to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a Member of Congress or federal official.” Sen. Patrick Leahy issued a stern warning on “toning down the rhetoric,” too. "The seething rhetoric has gone too far. The demonizing of opponents, of government, of public service has gone too far."
Beg your pardon, gentleman? Clearly a couple of members of Congress left their pocket Constitution at home. It’s a pretty easy read, and it’s right off the top:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
This tragic shooting was an isolated instance perpetrated by a lone, 22-year-old wack-job with a drug habit and an affinity for the occult and communist literature. He was not a talk radio listener, nor an active participant in conservative politics.
Allow me to be very clear today as a talk show host and columnist: I will not be silenced. I will not be bullied, besmirched, and blackmailed into silence nor will any peace-loving patriot who assembles and speaks-out to influence the political debate of our country.
Liberalism is bad for our nation, and this shooting doesn’t change that. So do your worst, you disgusting, opportunistic leftists. You’re just making it easier for bigger margins of victory in 2012 as your tasteless last gasps of political desperation heartlessly play out on the graves of those we lost last week.
(We’re happy he’s back. Email our man Chris at email@example.com)
Voting was the easy part
Now comes the hard part. A huge Republican route in the House and a nice pick-up in the Senate don’t mean the battle is over for the direction of our government. In fact it’s just begun. For we true conservatives, our fight doubles. Squashing the last of the loony-left that ran roughshod over the electorate for the last two years is only part one. Part two is reminding the Republicans we’re watching them too.
It seems Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell gets it. At least he seems to this week. After some many months, if not years in defending earmarks for his home state and the practice of earmarking all together, McConnell reversed course.
With a budget that is wildly, recklessly out of control and an unapologetic president who continues to sign the checks – Americans forced a change in the political landscape the size of which hasn’t been seen in Congress for generations. True, it was a Republican sea change, but not a tacit endorsement of the Republican Party. McConnnell astutely understood this before it was too late.
“Make no mistake. I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them,” McConnell said. “But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.”
There it is. Small, even symbolic things matter to voters at this critical time in history.
A pretty sad state of affairs, incidentally when $16 billion dollars is considered “small.” That’s the annual taxpayer cost associated with the practice of earmarking. Yes, it’s a drop in the bucket. But it still sends a politically savvy message in eliminating them that they’re listening and they know we’re watching.
Sadly, there are still some Republicans – particularly in the Senate – who think it was their good name or ability to “bring home the bacon” that won the day for them and perhaps will again in the future.
It is with a heavy heart, though some will say it should come as no surprise to report that Missouri’s Senator-elect Roy Blunt has just gone on record this week as opposing his Senate leader on the earmark issue.
"He thinks it's the prerogative of the legislative branch, not the bureaucrats, to fight for projects in their states after they've sought the lowest possible budget," said Burson Taylor, Blunt’s spokeswoman. "If there are state-based projects of significance, he will fight for Missouri's fair share in an open and transparent way," she said.
In fairness, Blunt’s always taken this position. But it is his inability to adapt to and accept what just happened November 2nd that seems tone-deaf, if not disrespectful to voters who just elected him.
If we’re to be completely honest with ourselves, it’s us we have to blame for this kind of thinking. As long as I’ve been voting I’ve always heard how much people hate Congress but love their congressman.Why is that? Because wings on hospitals, trails in parks, research facilities, and big, shiny bridges get built with earmarks.
While someone in Arizona or Maine might not be impressed, there are a lot of Kansas City-area businesses and residents who are thrilled to be commuting each day over the new Christopher S. Bond Bridge. Don’t forget the Missouri Western campus in St. Joseph that has a research building dawning the outgoing senator’s name prominently on I-29 as well. Yes, we loved our pork and we loved the men and women who brought it home for far too long.
The Kansas City Star lauded Bond last year for his ability to score bucks for “back home.” Most folks are happy to appear at a ribbon cutting for a project funded in their back yard. How it was funded never really seems to be important while holding the cartoon-ishly large scissors with elected officials for a picture. Senator-elect Blunt seems to think you’ll find your appetite for pork once again before 2016.
After a Tea Party-backed candidate named Joe Miller won the Republican primary fair and square in Alaska, the incumbent “business as usual” Republican Lisa Murkowski went to war with conservatives. Now on her way to victory as a sore loser, write-in candidate, she’s making her first comments about returning to Washington as a Republican.
"I will tell you, I am not one of those who wants Obama to fail," Murkowski said. "If he does well, that means the country's doing well. We don't have time as a nation to spend all of what we do blocking.”
Will someone please explain how a woman who just lost her party’s nomination and watched the Democratic party implode two weeks ago can honestly say that with a straight face?
Blocking President Obama is precisely what this election was about. Blocking and undoing, more to the point. Further, how can anyone conclude that President Obama hasn’t already been successful? No, not in the sense of a healthy economy or job creation. You know, the kind of stuff most Americans value. President Obama has instead successfully strong-armed the financial sector, taken over the automotive and health insurance industries and shut down offshore oil. Sounds pretty damned accomplished, does it not?
When the Continental Congress declared their independence from the British in 1776, their signature on the Declaration was the easy part. The hard part was bloody combat and a fundamental discussion about the size and scope of government that took years more.
Time for our hard part.
(Listen to Stigall on 710 KCMO-AM each weekday morning and read him in The Landmark. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Conservatives to the rescue of liberals, again
Everyone’s happy the election’s over. Even though they’re never really over anymore. My preacher said it from the pulpit last Sunday. You’ve heard it, maybe even said it yourself. “I’m just so glad we don’t have to listen to those negative ads anymore.” It’s hard to disagree with, but I’m going to try. Those negative ads are some of the greatest tributes to the Constitution that you’ll ever hear.
From time to time I have the privilege to speak to an apolitical group, be they Sertoma, Rotary, or Optimist Club members, for example. I’m often asked the same question, “What can we read, or watch, or listen to that’s unbiased, fair, straight down the middle truth for our political news?” I always answer the same way, “You can’t.” Or someone will speak with great disdain for the “loud voices of extremism on both sides.”
Again I say, “God bless the USA.”
First, understand that there is not now nor has there ever been such a thing as unbiased reporting. And don’t shout about Cronkite, or Murrow, or…Ivan Foley. They always had and have their perspective of the world around them. There used to be a naive comfort taken in the notion that journalists were only interested in giving the “who, what, where and when” and that’s “the way it was.”
But as you’ve read in this column before, I’ve always considered that bunk. Cronkite and Murrow had a worldview, and so did every reporter in every newsroom in the country then as they do now. Frankly, it’s unimaginable that we ever expected human beings with reason or lack thereof, emotion and yes, bias, to be our soul portal of information about the world around us.
Human beings aren’t automatons and anyone in the media business who crows about their commitment to “fair and balanced” with no sliver of bias is lying to you. Further, anyone who opens a paper or turns on a radio show or a cable news network and thinks they’re getting information that’s pure as the wind-driven snow ought to have their heads checked.
Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t write a column here each week or host a daily radio show with the intention of lying to you. I’m not purposely leaving out facts as I know or understand them. I believe in what is said and written, and I believe to have facts and truth on my side when giving my opinion, but make no mistake – it’s just one man’s opinion.
Though it pains me to say it, the same is true for my thick-skulled friends on the left. While I truly believe liberalism is a lie, it’s still a lie that’s Constitutionally protected. Which is why the firing of Juan Williams from NPR and the suspension of Keith Olberman on MSNBC was shocking, absurd, and wholly un-American.
These men take themselves seriously. In Olberman’s case, way too seriously. Perhaps they’ve conned themselves, or their respective employers had conned themselves into thinking they were something they’re not.
It was never lost on me. They are professional opinion-givers. They are both liberal, opinion-givers. In Olberman’s case – insane, liberal opinion-givers. When NPR fired Williams because his comments about feeling nervous boarding a plane with someone in Muslim garb “violated the standards of an NPR analyst,” I had to laugh.
When MSNBC suspended Olberman after he disclosed giving his personal money to Democratic candidates in this election cycle, I asked, “And just who was surprised by this?”
Once again, it takes conservatives to do for these bed-wetting liberals what they never do for us in return. We defend their right to free speech, no matter our disagreement, their ugliness or their lies. You will never hear a conservative President tell members of Congress that they can’t listen to Keith Olberman and expect to get anything accomplished.
That is exactly what President Obama said to Republicans about Rush Limbaugh just weeks after his election. Time and again, Democrats have demonized and attacked professional conservative opinion-givers. They have threatened the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine, they have threatened our sponsors and harassed our management. Hell, you even heard Platte County Democrats harass the Park Hill School District just because a couple of conservative hosts had a private function on a high school stage, after-hours on a weekend.
The left is obsessed with shutting up debate and discussion. You heard President Obama and Vice President Biden spend weeks leading up to last week’s election asserting that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was somehow funneling shadowy, foreign money to Republican candidates. Though such assertions were never proven.
President Obama used his State of the Union address earlier this year to launch an unprecedented attack on the Supreme Court justices sitting before him. He attacked them, of course for correctly overturning the onerous campaign finance laws that asserted corporate money has no place in the arena of free speech.
Conservatives true to the Constitution launch no such attacks. Conservatives aren't in the censorship business no matter what is said and who is saying it. Conservatives are smart enough to use their brains and seek the answers and information they need. We’re not afraid to have open debate, nor are we interested in silencing those with whom we disagree.
Conservatives are pleased with hundreds of cable channels, yes, even MSNBC. We’re glad there’s an abundance of information at our fingertips on the Internet. We’re hungry for more voices, more opinions, yes even more campaign ads. In a free society that cherishes freedom of speech – MORE must always be the rule. Any time you see anyone moving to make speech less available to you – be very afraid.
(Stigall can heard each morning on KCMO 710AM and read each week only in The Landmark. Email email@example.com)
Obama brought a knife to a gunfight
The president has made no secret of his love of a fight. He’s been heard to councsel his party faithful to bring a gun to a challenger’s knife fight and when punched, he suggests hitting back twice as hard. But that’s as it relates to political foes, not silver-tongued comics with a studio audience.
I felt mildly sorry for President Obama as he visited the set of the Daily Show last week. Not because I support him or his failed policies as they plummet in the polls. This was purely a human moment. Like watching Brett Farve get booed at Lambeau Field, or a drunken co-worker singing karaoke amidst mocking laughter. They all brought it on themselves, but they seem almost incapable of realizing that it’s actually happening. The decency in me wishes I could’ve stopped it.
President Obama makes a point of staying away from Fox News as well as MSNBC on a regular basis. His White House often likes to dismiss both networks, as well as talk radio, as “too kooky” to legitimize with his perceived “greatness” and “gravitas.”
His preferred stops consist of non-confrontational lifestyle and variety shows like the View, Oprah, and the Tonight Show. Certainly the White House calculation was Stewart’s “Daily Show” fit that mold. A little good-natured ribbing from a friendly liberal comic would just humanize Obama, they certainly deduced.
But Mr. Stewart isn’t just a comic, and he knows it. His “brand” has been elevated to something far more important to the chattering, Beltway class. Time Magazine’s online readership voted Stewart “the most trusted man in America” over the big three network anchors in 2009. His rally next week in Washington D.C. has media and politicians panting and panicking about its meaning and lasting impact.
Stewart has been “chosen” as cool, relevant, “sane,” and most significantly – the moderate, legitimate voice in the national debate. Sounds kind of like what they used to say about a freshman Senator from Illinois, does it not?
Of course Stewart is the furthest thing from an ideologically pure moderate. His broadside swipes at President Obama’s unmet promises and “timid” leadership were uncomfortable to watch.
It was uncomfortable because the president of the United States was taking a voluntary scolding by a clown on a low-rated cable show. Uncomfortable, too for most informed voters, who realize Stewart’s line of questions made Obama’s radical agenda sound conservative.
"You ran with such, if I may, audacity," Stewart said. "Yet, legislatively, it has felt timid at times. I'm not sure, at times, what you want out of health care."
It was at this moment President Obama must have realized he was in no safe environment. This wasn’t the Oprah Winfrey Show, this was Animal Kingdom and his pride had just been attacked. The fatal mistake President Obama made was to rise to the challenge.
There’s a reason anyone who’s been to a comedy club knows you don’t sit in the front row. It’s the same reason you don’t argue with Jon Stewart on his own show.
"Jon, I love your show, but this is something where, you know, I have a profound disagreement with you," Obama said. "And I don't want to lump you in with a lot of other pundits, but this notion that health care is timid . . . "
The president droned on about the “greatness” of the legislation most of the country hates, yet Stewart mind-bogglingly thinks doesn’t go far enough. Then Stewart responded.
"I'll tell you what I mean, and I don't mean to lump you in with other presidents," Stewart said, to roaring applause and laughter from the audience.
Only a narcissist with a thin skin would try to “educate” a comic with whom he disagrees. Only a fool would try to legitimately debate a comic at all. Obama was outmatched, outwitted, and wounded. Not from the “shadowy, racist” figures in the Tea Party, but by a far-left comic with a growing sense of self-importance in the arena of serious debate.
Members of the House, including Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank, learned long ago of the dangers of appearing on the turf of comics like Stephen Colbert.
“I watch it all the time, and I think, ‘Why would anybody go on there,’ Pelosi told New York Magazine back in September.
“I have done many comedic interviews, but I did not appreciate his humor,” Rep. Barney Frank told POLITICO. “I did not understand that his mission was to make every politician look ridiculous.”
Not that they need Colbert’s help.
Stewart challenged Obama to a duel of liberal bona fides against the backdrop of comedic absurdity. Obama’s mistake was to ever accept the premise of the challenge.
The president brought a knife to a gunfight.
(Engage Chris Stigall via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and read him each week right here in The Landmark)
Doing the partying Americans won't do
What are you doing this Sunday around midnight? No doubt out partying at your favorite club, minding your own business as we all do. Sure, there may be some bad apples at your favorite Sunday night hot spot. The occasional methamphetamine and cocaine dealer, maybe an illegal weapon or two, some underage minors – oh, and a few dozen club goers without ID at all, but c’mon. Why should a few bad apples and the cops spoil your good old-fashioned fun?
I felt I had to lead with dripping sarcasm, otherwise as Glenn Beck says, “my head would explode.”
The story of the raid at Club Oasis on Southwest Boulevard this past Sunday night into Monday morning was shockingly hard to find if you weren’t looking for it. When meat-packing plants in Nebraska are raided by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), it’s not just a local story – it’s a nationwide front-pager.
Imagine my surprise Monday morning as I’m preparing for my radio show and our station’s news director informs me that just hours prior to air, there had been reports of a raid that netted (conservatively) dozens of illegal aliens and scores of illegal drugs and weapons.
Surely the morning television news would go wall to wall with what had to be one of the largest busts of illegal aliens in recent Kansas City history. We had the information at 5 a.m. when the show began and instantly reported the news. Now, I waited to see what my esteemed colleagues would have to say online, on TV, and down the dial.
The clock struck 6, then 7, then into the 8 o’clock hour. Nothing. Our news director must have gotten this story horribly wrong. “You’re sure about this?” I asked him.
He had been working the phones all morning. He called the F.B.I. He called D.H.S. the FCC, the YMCA, and the ASPCA, but nothing. No one would comment on reports of this raid that he heard discussed over police scanners that morning. Then word came late in the morning that this raid wasn’t led by some federal agency at all.
No, this raid was led by the Kansas City Missouri Police Department with assistance from ICE. The silence began to make sense.
As noted on this page back in June of this year, Police Chief Corwin is no fan of such raids. It is becoming popular to “work with” otherwise law-abiding illegal aliens who might be able to lead police to the truly problematic law breaking illegal aliens in town than treat all law breaking equally. Yes, I know it’s madness.
By Monday afternoon, the Kansas City Missouri Police spokesman called our news director back to finally give details of the early morning raid. Which is to say, it was not a raid at all.
This was a standard “tavern inspection,” or some such nonsense as it was explained but it was certainly NOT a raid of illegal aliens. Even though ICE was present, and dozens of citations were issued to club “patrons” lacking ID, this was NOT a raid of illegals.
Club Oasis had been on the KCPD’s radar for some time. For instance, two shootings - one fatal in the last year - and a car jacking outside the club just this month as well as frequent drug trafficking has been just some of the fun as of late.
That, and the place was, yes, crawling with illegal aliens. And yes, of course the KCPD knew it. Which is why ICE accompanied them when they entered Sunday night. The hope of the bureaucrats at the top of the police food chain was that obnoxious talk show hosts and news media wouldn’t hear about it.
This is the tragic, and frustrating battle we wage today in Kansas City. Enforcing the law without fear of politically correct blow-back from minority activists who claim mistreatment when officers simply do their jobs.
The police properly and aggressively swept the club to bust up illegal behavior. They blocked the exits. They shut down the music. They turned on the lights, and one by one they checked for ID.
But as they rightly anticipated and hoped to avoid, when word spread of their actions that Sunday night into Monday, the press went into victimhood mode.
NBC Action News interviewed a woman who had the temerity to say the police were being unfair. Something about just being here to “work and raise a family.” You know, standard victim playbook speak. Not sure how a club full of illegal drug and gun runners at 1 a.m. on a Monday constitutes “working” and “raising a family.” Perhaps she’s “Pretty Woman?”
Fox 4 took the word of another “innocent, family gal” just trying to enjoy a nice evening on the town:
"They were real mean," said witness Jeanette Loera, whose husband was arrested in the raid. "They wouldn't let anybody out, they wouldn't let nobody in. They were blocking all the doors front and back."
Loera says one of the officers took her husband, Carlos. She fears he'll be deported to Belize because he's here illegally. Loera says she witnessed immigration officers arrest one man, who she believes didn't deserve it.
Of course he didn’t. And if asked publicly, the police chief will probably agree. Even though the police and ICE are to be commended on a job well done, if anyone asks – Carlos was just out doing the partying most Americans won’t do on a Sunday night.
(Listen to Stigall weekday mornings on 710 KCMO-AM and read him only in your Landmark. Email email@example.com)
Grab a shovel--We're in deep
When Barack Obama was elected president, he found himself in a hole so deep that he couldn’t see the outside world. It was like the Chilean miners. But he, being the man that he is, rolled up his sleeves and said ‘ I’m gonna get us out of this hole.’
No, I haven’t hit my head or the bottle before writing this week’s column. Those are the words of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid campaigning for his political life in Nevada this week.
It used to be that Vice President Biden was the gaffe that kept on giving. In the last year, Reid has quickly become the Secretariat to Biden’s Seabiscuit in the race to embarrass oneself.
I always imagine someone coming into the Oval Office with a morning briefing for Obama each day. First, he receives the threat assessment to our country. Shortly after, he then gets the threat assessment to the Democrat party from themselves. Picture President Obama, head in hands as he asks wearily, “What’s Reid/Biden said now?”
Senator Reid, as you’ll recall offered the President his own unique brand of praise last year in a once “off the record” conversation published in a book called Game Change. The book’s focus was on the 2008 presidential campaign, including details of Reid’s first blush assessment of then Senator Obama as their party’s nominee:
“He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he said privately.”
Naturally, when we heard the choice description of President Obama’s first term “heroics” as told by Senator Reid we couldn’t help but turn to our radio audience for comparisons of their own. Go ahead and try this yourself. How is President Obama different than the Chilean miners? Our listeners and Facebook posters weighed in:
“They can prove they’re Chilean.”
“The miners didn’t blow up the mine on purpose after they went in.”
“The miners have seen the light, Obama won’t see it until after November.”
“Like miner #21, he’s being untrue and screwing us all.” – (This alludes to the miner having the affair and asked that both his wife and mistress greet him at the top!)
“Obama’s rescue plan is digging a financial hole through China.”
“The miners were there to work, not golf.”
“When the miners saw what was going on, they quit digging.”
“Unlike the Gulf oil spill, the miners welcomed help from other countries.”
“The Chilean miners survived in part through solidarity and a concerted effort to work together. Obama just works to divide us.”
“The miners' goal was to rise to the top. Obama's goal is to reach bottom.”
And my personal favorite was from Scott:
“The miners relied on their faith in Christ to get them through this unlike Obama who declines to publicly rely on anything bigger than him.”
Of course for all of these reasons and more, the comparison by Reid was insensitive and inane.
I had the privilege of ending last week by interviewing Andrew Schmitt, the president and CEO of the now globally famous Layne Christensen company. This is the operation based right here in our own back yard of Mission Woods, Kansas that drilled the shaft, saving those Chilean miners.
Mr. Schmitt spoke humbly about the work his company did that historic week. He spoke humbly about the work his men were doing when they got the call to head to Chile. They were drilling water wells for our troops on the front lines of combat in Afghanistan, by the way.
Mr. Schmitt explained how rare and specialized the work and the equipment used was that freed those men. The special drill bit from Pennsylvania. The special capsule that raised each man from below designed in concert with NASA scientists. But most importantly, the razor-thin margin of success in drilling a hole deep and wide enough without making things worse as only his employees could do.
If you were to make the comparison between our president and the Chilean miners, it can be only this. They are all the beneficiaries of American exceptionalism and opportunity. They are who and where they are but for a rich history of free, enterprising American men and women who give of their time, talents, resources, and money to do ordinary and extraordinary things every day to make their businesses, families, and even “impossible” rescue efforts successful.
There can be no doubt that those miners, and the world at large once again saw the greatness of the United States on full display last week. Most of the country isn’t certain our president or modern-day Democrats like Harry Reid share that view.
Meanwhile, America is in a hole of our own. Not just President Obama and his party, but all of us. Obama, and Democrats like Reid think they can dig us out if we just continue to put our faith in them.
I think 33 Chilean men might tell you today that if you want to get back to freedom, and escape this hole – we’d better put our trust back in American ingenuity and free markets to get out.
Grab a shovel. We have some digging to do.
(Listen to Stigall each morning on 710 KCMO-AM, read him each week in The Landmark, and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Did you hear the one about the Mayor and the Congressman?
Did you hear the one about the Mayor and the Congressman?
It read like the set-up to a great punch line or perhaps the plot to a comedy, buddy-film. Take a Democrat congressman and a Democrat mayor. Throw in a huge financial crisis, lots of taxpayer money and a bruising election cycle for both of them and their party.
The 150-block area of Kansas City known as the “Green Zone” has been the Midwest’s glittering jewel of government “stimulus” and almost certain future fraud. The “zone” is bounded by 39th St. on the north, 51st St. on the south, Troost Ave. on the west, and Prospect to 47th to Swope Parkway on the east and is the brainchild of Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver.
Republicans, Tea Partiers, even the Kansas City Star have puzzled over the hundreds of millions of tax dollars promised to this project. We’ve read stories of contractors and out-of-town firms receiving monies to relocate to, or “study” the Green Zone. We’ve heard and read about all-calls to the community to become trained in the “weatherization” of homes. Once trained, these individuals will supposedly be put to work “weatherizing” and collecting some of these “stimulus” funds as a short-term paycheck.
As of today, no measurable work has been done over a year after the stimulus money was promised. While much money has been spent, there’s still plenty more to spend. And there’s no doubt it will be spent, but where’s it going?
According to the project’s own propaganda site greenimpactzone.org, fewer than half the homes in this area are owner-occupied. Additionally, almost 20 percent of all mortgages were delinquent over the last two years. With statistics like these, who wouldn’t want to see hundreds of millions of tax dollars dumped into such a grand chunk of real estate?
It is important to point out that Congressman Cleaver has been seated at the feet of Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank over the years. Together, they have served on the House Banking Committee. As we all know now, it is this infamous committee that has probably done more, along with their Senate banking counterparts, to destroy our economy than any other sector of government.
It is the Democrat party that gave the country the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The CRA compels banks to make loans to low-income borrowers that they might not otherwise make based on purely economic criteria and zip code geography. It was Mr. Cleaver who actively stood in the way of repeated warnings to reform such government banking mandates throughout the last decade.
Fast-forward to today – the housing bubble, the mortgage meltdown. Now the focus is on how to “save” and “protect” homeowners that “benefitted” from the CRA. Catch that? Save people from their benefit. What’s that they say about the pavement on the road to hell?
Monday, Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser joined Congressman Cleaver in the "stimulus" capital of Missouri. First, Cleaver held a press conference to announce another $7 million dollars has fallen from the sky for more “weatherization” in the Green Zone.
Wells Fargo Bank was also on hand. They hold the notes on 23 of the foreclosed homes in "Mr. Cleaver’s Neighborhood" and announced they’d be donating those homes to the Green Zone, as well as another $100,000-plus just to sweeten the pork pot.
"This project will not only rehab neighborhoods, but it will create jobs," Congressman Cleaver said.
Create jobs… just like the $800 billion dollar stimulus before it. But this wasn’t the only funny part of the joke, er, day.
Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser stepped up to the microphone moments later in a separate press conference and called for a temporary moratorium on the foreclosure of all homes in Missouri:
“I urge the attorney general to give Missourians some time to get back on their feet and negotiate in good faith with their lenders…I've often said that the government should not interfere in the market unless there's a clear public need. The market is broken at the moment. And we need to take a moment and repair it."
This coming from a man who has gone out of his way to fight Missouri’s Proposition A. Repeatedly, Funkhouser has said out-of-towners shouldn’t meddle in other cities revenue issues and has pledged to defend taxing Kansas City workers and residents without voter oversight until Kingdom come.
Suddenly, Mr. Funkhouser wants all mortgage lenders to shut down their business practices and bend to the political wishes of a mayor and an attorney general. Pretty activist talk for a guy who doesn’t think government should interfere in the market.
Perhaps the biggest gut-busting moment of the afternoon was Cleaver’s reaction to Funkhouser. Interviewed at the conclusion of Funkhouser’s moratorium comments, Cleaver said he wants to be “cautious” with the government's approach:
"I think we have to be very careful about calling for a complete freeze on foreclosures. Some economists think that would only exacerbate the problem we already have."
You can’t blame Cleaver here. He’s trying to save his political bacon. That, and he’s standing right next to Wells Fargo executives who just pledged a bunch of dough to his Green Hole…er, Zone. On this day, he’s a free-market capitalist!
So there’s the set-up. What do you get when a pro - big government liberal congressman suddenly acts like a free market conservative and cross him with a supposedly free market conservative mayor who suddenly acts like a big government liberal?
You can write your own punch line. But it’s endlessly funny.
(Listen to Stigall on KCMO 710 AM and read him only in your Landmark. Email email@example.com)
Since when did Missouri become Green Acres?
There’s not a single poll available at the time of this printing that suggests Roy Blunt won't be the next senator from Missouri. That’s reality. What’s surreal is the treatment his challenger, Democrat Robin Carnahan, has been getting from local media. More to the point, the way you’re being played for a yokel.
It’s one thing for a campaign to put a fresh coat of paint on an otherwise unspectacular, unexceptional candidate. Even if the lipstick covered pig is borderline insulting to our intelligence. Look, we can sit through ads smearing Roy Blunt as a sneaky, D.C. insider. That’s for the electorate to sift through and it’s pretty standard-issue for a campaign ad in general.
The maddening aspect is when folks assigned to cover this election and profile candidates in an “unbiased” way can’t bring themselves to actually do their own heavy lifting. Instead, they buy into campaign narratives and access. Access, as we’ve come to understand is what ultimately leads to more favorable treatment in the press, by the way.
The Kansas City Star’s Steve Kraske is a nice man. I’ve met him. On the whole, I think he even tries pretty hard to tell stories that aren’t heavily biased. But he is “over the moon” infatuated with Missouri’s Secretary of State this year.
You could see it coming last Thursday in his front-page profile of Robin Carnahan. The headline was something about “…powerful, but at home on the farm.” Just like every Carnahan campaign ad, it features Ms. Carnahan wearing some kind of denim get-up and boots, in the back of a truck, with a pitchfork, maybe a neckerchief, and some cattle.
We get it. She’s a rural gal. She gets her hands dirty on the weekends. We all admire work ethic. Many if not most of us have direct, or indirect contact with the agriculture community in this part of the country. But will someone please explain what in the world this has to do with her politics?
Further, everyone involved in the creative process of political ads needs to understand that just because we or someone we love farms - it doesn’t mean we’ll blindly follow the first candidate that looks the most like Eddie Albert.
Does it matter that President Obama and all Democrats of note have been virtually absent from the woman’s campaign? Why? Because she’s nothing like them, or she doesn’t want us to think she’s anything like them?
Anytime she’s actually asked about her positions on Cap and Trade, amnesty for illegal aliens, Card Check legislation – pick your favorite liberal policy – she’s foursquare supportive of them all. In his one Kansas City appearance with her, President Obama declared more of his ambitious agenda would have been done were she in the Senate from the day of his inauguration. Shudder that thought.
That’s what Missouri voters need to know about Ms. Carnahan. We don’t frankly care that she picks a pear right off the tree and “bites it like an apple” or that’s she’s handy behind the controls of heavy machinery to move gravel.
One more point on fluffy coverage, if you please, and I’m sure I’ll get letters on this. Can we all agree to stop playing the sympathy card to win votes or favor in a smitten political profile?
Praise the Lord Ms. Carnahan beat breast cancer! Sincerely, we all hope in this important month of awareness that she remains victorious in her fight. That said, beating breast cancer is not an indication of the direction you have in mind for our republic. What’s more, the tragic death of her father and a no-doubt gut-wrenching eulogy delivered by the Democrat candidate should not be the impetus for your vote either.
What is relevant is that the Carnahan family is a heritage Democrat family, whose roots run deep in liberal politics at multiple levels – local, state, and federal. What is relevant is how she has counted votes and certified ballot language as Missouri’s Secretary of State. What is relevant is who Robin Carnahan is as a legislative decision maker and a potential representative of Missouri in Washington D.C.
This race is often billed as a race between “two political dynasties.” In fact, the Carnahan name is synonymous with a Democrat-machine that dates back generations in Missouri. Blunt and his son Matt’s one term as governor hardly compares, though you could have fooled the press. Or they could have fooled you, better stated.
When it came time for Kraske’s profile of Mr. Blunt in the next morning’s edition of the Star, the analysis was predictably more pointed.
Yes, there was the story of his boyhood, and his time as an educator. But a good third of the column was devoted to his “inside the beltway” leadership in Washington. Kraske mentioned Blunt’s specific ties to the current House Minority Leader, the former President, and his role in “whipping” votes for TARP and other Republican-led legislative priorities. All legitimate points, I might add.
Kraske took a shot at Blunt’s first marriage dissolving, and marrying a lobbyist for good measure, too. It was straight out of a Carnahan ad and it is wholly irrelevant. But as for Ms. Carnahan, we get no such scrutiny. Her husband’s name was barely mentioned the day before, never mind who he is or what he does for a living.
It should not surprise me or anyone by now just how slavish the press has become to Democrats. Perhaps it’s more striking in a year when they’re destructively out of step with the American people. Ultimately, Missourians will make the right call for their state no matter the narratives and the ga-ga, “Access Hollywood“ – style profiles.
Compelling life stories make for great paperback reads and screenplays. But they’re not good enough when selecting Supreme Court justices, presidents, and senators. Our country is in a “serious way,” and voters deserve better than vapid coverage that makes “The View” look like a Peabody Award winner.
Still, it’s good to know where you can find a quality farmhand after the election.
All Democrats really need to know
Author Robert Fulghum published a book back in the 80s called “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” The concept was pretty simple. The world would be improved if adults adhered to the basic rules of childhood. Share, be kind to one another, and clean up after yourself, concludes Fulghum, is all life really requires.
Democrats clearly skipped kindergarten.
If you’ve been watching the wildly popular ABC show “Dancing With the Stars” this season, you know former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol is a contestant.
Occasionally, friends and family of the celebrity contestants will show up in the studio audience to provide moral support and added “drama” to the show. Governor Palin made such an appearance this week. When the camera took the first dimly lit shot of the governor proudly cheering her daughter in the crowd, audible “boos” could be heard from some in the studio audience.
All I could think at the moment I read the news was, “Wow, that’s really mean.”
No, it’s not a profound comment. But it’s true. People that boo a woman sitting in a crowd watching her daughter on a game show are simply nasty, childish, and downright mean.
Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for Delaware’s vacant Senate seat is also a target of schoolyard taunts. Democrat strategist James Carville called Ms. O’Donnell a “deadbeat” when referencing her past student loan and housing debt.
Bill Maher released unaired footage of her appearance as a panelist on his cable show in which she described her high school “dabbling” in witchcraft. Saturday Night Live then opened their new season last weekend with one of the weakest sketches ever written featuring Kristen Wig (playing O’Donnell) flying off on a broom.
Where is the criticism of these women on the merits of their positions? There’s none to be found. What have these women done to anyone but win elections and rally millions of Americans? They’re in no position to harm anyone. Yet, all the kiddies on the left can muster are boos, name calling, and petty personal insults.
This kind of behavior speaks volumes more about what Democrats fear and less about the people they attack. It’s a lowest-common-denominator, mean-spiritedness only a child could spew. Below-the-belt dagger throwing is something we’d never tolerate from our own kindergartner.
We should not tolerate it from Democrats.
President Obama and Democrats continue to insist this week that you’re “wealthy” with a household income of $250 thousand dollars or more, and thus you should be forced to hand over a larger portion of that “wealth” to the government.
This kind of green-eyed monster envy is something you’ll occasionally see in our kindergartner, too. It’s usually when his younger brother has something he wants. So when our kindergartner shouts, “It’s not fair, why does he get (fill in coveted item/activity)?” We must teach our kindergartner that he’s not entitled to everything he wants. Sometimes, he must learn do without it altogether.
Parents teach their kindergartners that if they want something, they must earn it. They’re not to take it from someone who’s earned what’s rightly theirs. That’s not fair. That’s not sharing. It’s theft. We don’t tolerate theft and strong-arming from our kindergartner when he wants to take something he hasn’t earned.
We should not tolerate it from Democrats.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel is leaving his post to go back to Chicago and run for mayor. President Obama’s budget director, and team of economic advisers have all left in the last month to go back to their Ivy-league classrooms. White House spin-doctor David Axelrod is headed back to the Windy City as well.
It’s an unprecedented ship jumping by key members of a young administration. These are the architects of ruinous financial regulatory reforms, private sector takeovers, 17% underemployment/unemployment, and record high youth and minority unemployment.
These are the shepherds of the takeover of our health insurance industry - a full sixth of our economy. A takeover tossing children out of coverage at this very hour, and raising premiums through the roof - all of their doing and they’re running for the tall grass.
When our kindergartner pulls all the blankets and pillows off his bed to build a fort, we ask him to put his bed back together. Sometimes, with the best of intentions, he colors a picture for Mom and Dad. He’s left a mess of crayons and supplies all over the kitchen floor. We make him clean it up.
If he breaks a picture frame because of reckless play, Mom and Dad discipline him and make him clean it up. We don’t excuse messes, leaving us to clean them up while he runs for the back yard. We don’t tolerate recklessness from our kindergartener without talking about responsibility.
We should not tolerate it from Democrats.
Certainly Democrats have tapped into child-like behavior the last four years. They invite clowns to laugh and play during Congressional subcommittee hearings on important issues. They mock, laugh at, and insult those that aren’t like them. They take what’s not theirs because they think it’s not fair that everyone doesn’t have it. They break the rules and tell lies to get their way.
But that’s not Mr. Fulghum’s thesis on living life well. His book implies learning is required in childhood to be a better adult. The Democrats haven’t learned anything from their reckless and childish behavior. Fulghum’s “kindergarden philosophy” also presupposes the presence of a teacher. Kindergartners will only learn when responsible adults first teach them the correct way to behave. The same can be said for Democrats.
All Democrats really need to know is what they’re about to learn from the adults of this country this November.
(Listen to Stigall each morning on 710 KCMO AM, read him only in The Landmark and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ruling class politicians are in a panic over Proposition A
The ruling class politicians in Kansas City are in a panic. You knuckle-dragging taxpayers have the nerve to challenge paying one percent of your earnings to the city? And the nerve of another Missouri judge, they shout! Circuit Judge Jon Beetem of Cole County ruled that a legitimately petitioned ballot initiative belongs on your November ballot.
Look out, ruling class bureaucrats, here comes Proposition A - a second chance in as many months to remind public servants just who's in charge 'round these parts.
Proposition A is just as straightforward as Proposition C. Simply put, if you live in a Missouri community that currently has no earnings tax; a yes vote on Proposition A will see to it that you never will. No matter who sits on what governing body of your Missouri town, they'll be forever cuffed from taking your paycheck when you vote yes on Proposition A.
For those of you who live in or work in Kansas City, you're already paying an earnings tax. A yes vote on Proposition A for the Kansas City resident/worker is powerful for a couple of reasons.
First, your yes vote demands the one percent earnings tax be placed on a ballot before Kansas Citians next year. From that point forward, every five years the city council of Kansas City must put the tax up for a vote of the citizens. The same goes for St. Louis folks, by the way.
But the best thing about a yes vote on Proposition A? The reaction from the public servants and unions that collect and spend that one percen
Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser says it's “inappropriate” for Missourians at large to be able to vote on this issue. City Councilwoman Jan Marcason came out swinging on behalf of a group called Missouri Municipal League (A.K.A. Missouri's Public Servants Dependant on Taxpayer Money for Their Paychecks League).
Taking a shot at the businessman behind Proposition A, Marcason said, “They don't like a millionaire telling them what type of revenue stream they can use for their own cities.”
You catch that? Ruling class member Marcason told you all you need to know about how people like her see people like you: Revenue streams.
Councilwoman Cindy Circo was described as “exasperated” by what she says will be a massive campaign to “educate” you to vote “no” on Proposition A. Catch that? She's worn out with you idiots and plans to lecture you until you understand why you should have no say in your tax rates while blindly continuing to pay them.
Meanwhile, local union thugs have saddled up to fight you off, too. A local labor leader named Pat Dujakovich boasted of his “mobilized base” to fight Proposition A. So get ready for the added phone calls, junk mail, and door knocking from this bunch.
But why would organized labor be so hell-bent to keep the earnings tax in place? It's obvious, of course. When city government spends any money on any projects, the checks must be cut to labor unions to get it done. The entire recent “downtown renaissance” was built exclusively with union contracts from the city. The Sprint Center shows are run by union stagehands, lighting and audio technicians, etc. Road work, stadium repairs, water, fire, and now ambulance workers--all unions.
Don't bother to count the number of unionized cubicle dwellers between the first and 24th floors of city hall. You don't have the strength. Not to mention the scores of taxpayer-supported middle management making between $50 and $100 thousand dollars a year plus benefits and pensions along side their union friends.
You'll hear the cries as I have. “We can't survive without the earnings tax!” “That's $200 million dollars annually we'll lose if this passes!”
You'll hear the threats. “Well, if we can't have their earnings tax, we'll just pass increased property and sales taxes.”“We'll lose all our fire, police and ambulance protections if this passes.”
But those cries and threats ring hollow in this economic environment.We already know Kansas City has lost prominent businesses in just the last two years with others continuing to run for the exit. Go ahead and raise sales and property taxes in response to Proposition A, Kansas City. You think business is fleeing now, just try that empty threat.
Most recently, Kansas City found itself begging the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to keep their 400 employees in Crown Center and not move to Sprint's vast empty real estate in Overland Park, Kansas.
And guess what the city council offered the NAIC as an incentive to stay? Half off their employees' earnings tax bills. That offer was a tacit admission by the council that the earnings tax is an economic killer and the reason business and individuals are fleeing the city. Still, the Kansas City council fights on.
It has somehow become axiomatic among the ruling class at all levels of government that they shall never deal with less tax revenue. Further, they suggest that tax cuts are too “costly” to government.
Of course the opposite is true. Tax cuts generate wealth, business expansion, and thus yes, even MORE revenue to the treasury. But in order to achieve those ends, government bureaucrats at all levels aren't willing to do with less in the short term and make necessary public spending cuts.
Just like Proposition C before it, Proposition A will pass overwhelmingly thanks to Missouri voters in November. And those few ruling class and union members who stand opposed will kick and scream all the way to the courts to fight your decision. Still, Americans instinctively know how to save and sustain our businesses and ourselves economically in tough times like these.
It starts by forcing an out of control government to get control and allow all of us to keep more of our own money. If they're not willing to listen, we'll not hesitate to jerk the wheel.
(Read Chris Stigall only in your Landmark and listen to him each morning on KCMO 710AM. Email him at email@example.com)
The higher education bubble
College football is underway. lumni pride in this part of the country runs deep. ogo apparel, front porch flags, window stickers aren't just statements of support but often statements of status. hose that don't spend their weekends watching their school's team often pack up their cars and travel to experience it in the stands. Why do they do it? I have over 20,000 reasons.
That's one reason for every dollar I just finished paying in student loan debt this year. That's my debt for four and a half years at a relatively inexpensive state school when compared to others in the region. Only recently did I begin to question, “Was it worth it?”
It's not popular, almost heresy to ask that question. I know my folks wouldn't want to hear it. Don't misunderstand; the statistics prove a college education generally means more money and opportunity for advancement professionally. I support bettering yourself and for the ambitious, focused future professional - it's a must.
The social aspects of college are a significant component. Many times you'll meet your future spouse there. Some of your life-long best friends are found there, too. It's an opportunity to learn about taking complete personal responsibility for your money, your schedule, and your actions. That's all great. But is it a value? Is it WORTH it?
A recent statistic of 2009 University of Missouri law graduates shows 60 percent of them are still unemployed. We already know youth unemployment is at nationally record-highs.
The New York Times noted last week that the cost of a college education has risen, in real dollars, by 250 to 300 percent over the past three decades, far above the rate of inflation. Elite private colleges can cost more than $200,000 over four years. Total student-loan debt, at nearly $830 billion, recently surpassed total national credit card debt.
Is it worth it?
Like big government, big banks, and big real estate there's a bubble in the education sector and it's bound to burst.
We often focus on what members of Congress earn, but have you ever thought about what your son or daughters' professors earn if they're tenured? Have you ever taken a hard look at administrative salaries on a college campus? Not all, but certainly many salaries are wildly out of step with the amount of work put forth and the success rate of the debt-ridden grads they produce.
There are many recent scholarly studies calling for the financial reformation movement in college education, but what is so troubling is our inability to shed our pride and love of university to question its efficiency.
The recent scandals surrounding Lew Perkins, outgoing athletic director at the University of Kansas prove that point. While KU athletics brings in boatloads of cash to the school, it's true. The lifestyle of this public university administrator read like a private executive.
I also understand that most of the costs incurred by Perkins' travel, etc. was private athletics money, not public funds. Nevertheless, the high-flying nature of Perkins operation was tone-deaf.
Many schools and students around the country are starting to notice, too. The New Jersey Star-Ledger profiled one law student who's become a hero to thousands of on-line, unemployed law grads:
Scott Bullock, a 2005 Seton Hall University School of Law graduate writes a blog called “Law is 4 Losers.” He proclaimed law school is a “scam.” Administrators are greedy “charlatans” who could not care less about education, and students are but “hapless lemmings” who have been tricked into paying a fortune to enter “America's most overrated, miserable and saturated industry.”
The Star-Ledger went on to report that many private law firms are now warning graduates to become more aware about debt to income ratios post graduation:
“Unemployment among new law school grads nationwide has risen for two straight years, to a rate of 12 percent for the class of 2009, according to the National Association for Law Placement. Among the employed, one in four jobs were temporary, while one in 10 were part-time. One-fifth of those employed said they were searching for another job, twice as many as in the boom years a decade ago.
“Recognizing the mounting crisis, the American Bar Association recently urged prospective students to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of a legal education. For a law degree to pay off, the association said in a memo, a grad should earn at least $65,000 a year. Nearly half of employed 2008 grads had starting salaries below that amount.”
So, is it worth it? That's ultimately for students, their folks, and their pocketbooks to determine.
I'm grateful for my four and a half years of college. I was exposed to a lot of opportunity, a lot of great friends, and ultimately met the love of my life.
I love to watch Bearcat football when I can, and regularly put on my green and white with friends to celebrate my alumni status and pride.
I'm just trying to figure out all these years later if $22,000 dollars was too much to pay for my first job post-college. And I got away cheap, I'm well aware. That first job incidentally, paid an impressive sum of $19,000 in year one.
You don't have to be a math major to know those numbers didn't work in my favor. I'm doing much better now. Thanks for asking. How much of my salary growth had to do with my degree, I can't be sure.
But it's no wonder we spend so much energy and time with our college teams. If college graduates and their parents can't win a job or a decent wage after spending that kind of money, they damn well better win on Saturday.
(Listen to Stigall each morning on KCMO 710 AM and read him only in your Landmark. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ten days away at Martha's Vineyard, and you'd think we'd be treated to a rested and focused president as he addressed a languishing economy this week. We awaited a president ready to strategize and construct a new way of going forward to turn our ailing economy around.
Instead, we got the same partisan bully with the same tired game plan. Just another stimulus spending bill, and a reminder that this economy wasn't his fault. That he'd fix it if only Republicans would let him. Oh, and that he's waging an attack.
“…it took nearly a decade to dig the hole that we're in - and that it would take longer than any of us would like to climb our way out.”
“And that's why my administration remains focused every single day on pushing this economy forward, repairing the damage that's been done to the middle class over the past decade…”
“But we have to do more. And there's currently a jobs bill before Congress that would do two big things for small business owners…”
Sounds good. Why don't we do that?
“Unfortunately, this bill has been languishing in the Senate for months, held up by a partisan minority that won't even allow it to go to a vote.”
Wait a minute, Mr. President. Beg your pardon?
Do I have to write another paragraph reminding folks that despite the lack of 60 votes to end debate on the health insurance takeover, Democrats used a parliamentary trick and passed the bill anyway with a simple majority? In a snowstorm…on Christmas Eve Day. Even after the town halls raging all across the country the summer before demanding they not pass such legislation? Do I have to write that again?
What's stopping you now?
Of course, Democrats could pass any radical, expensive, reckless thing their hearts desired right now if they dared. But that's just it. They don't dare. The president may still have a couple of years left on his contract, but members of Congress don't have that luxury.
Thus, President Obama is forced to resort to his classic straw-man enemy: Republicans. He called for a “full scale attack” on the economy, then instead launched a full scale attack on the powerless minority party in Congress.
"We have to do more. Holding this bill hostage is directly detrimental to our economic growth. I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade."
But more than absurd, his statement masks the true war he is waging. It's not with Republicans. Just as he suggested Glenn Beck's weekend rally in D.C. was “whipping people up,” President Obama miscasts that event as his war with a talk show host. It's not politicians and entertainers the president is fighting. Obama’s fight, like all liberal Democrats' fight, is with the American people.
Glenn Beck is a guy with a job in the private sector that happens to be on the radio----meaning, he is practiced at giving speeches and speaking to millions of people, but he is speaking from his heart. He isn't running for anything. He speaks as an individual.
Why should Beck's rally be a threat to anyone? If people on the left had any brains, they would ignore Beck. Why try to berate him or minimize him? He's an individual exercising his First Amendment rights...speech, assembly, religion. If that is objectionable, then you have your answer to what really bothers the left---- it isn't Glen Beck. It's the Constitution.
This is the thing that average Americans have a hard time understanding---- and liberal interest groups, too. The left uses liberal groups to undermine the Constitution.
For instance, gay Americans think Democrats and the left are for them and their causes. Gay marriage and gay rights mean NOTHING to the left other than those issues can be used as a battering ram against the Constitution. How do I know this? You can hear the deafening silence from them when confronting the unconstitutional, barbaric elements of Sharia Law. Sharia Law treats gays like Michael Vick once treated dogs. Look it up. While we're segmenting society, what about feminist women? The left doesn't care about equal rights for women. How do I know? The left says nothing about Sharia Law. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look it up. You'll be shocked out of your skin.
Think the left cares about "the little guy"? Then why do they embrace Obama shutting down tens of thousands of jobs in the Gulf when we know deep water drilling is safe? The rest of the world didn't shut down operations. This was an exercise of executive power that is beyond the Constitution. And it can't be argued that Obama did that to protect the environment: He didn't say a word or lift a finger about the BP rig explosion for weeks. Obama used that disaster to destroy jobs in the private sector and he shook down BP for a $20 billion slush fund.
Union pensions are going to be destroyed on Obama's watch. State and city jobs are being destroyed. Unions think Obama cares about their causes. Think again. Obama wants their money and their votes. Crippling the economy does not, long term, advance jobs for unions. Unions are being played for suckers, just like homosexuals, feminists and so-called environmentalists. They are being used to destroy the private sector, free markets and the Constitution. None of them will get a seat at the table. Think "Venezuela." Think "Cuba."
That's where we are headed. And don't be shocked. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Frank Marshall Davis and Saul Alynski have been Obama's mentors. These are angry, anti-American radicals. They don't care about anything except power for themselves and the destruction of America as we know it.
But, sure let's focus on Glen Beck's rally in D.C. filled with law-abiding, America-loving people who are not organized in any way. They are individuals exercising their First Amendment rights. And that, my friend, is the real problem.
The real enemy of President Obama as he “launches a full scale attack” on the economy is the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights. The firewall between the people and their frighteningly powerful government.
The president's at war all right. With you and me.
(Read Chris Stigall in The Landmark each week and listen to him each morning on Talk Radio 710 AM. Email email@example.com)
GOOD WILL HUNTING
What do you call 500 attorneys at the bottom of a lake? A good start.
It’s that kind of bigoted intolerance of people in the legal profession that has led to the hate-filled diatribes directed at Kansas City-based law firm Polsinelli Shughart.
Sound ridiculous? No more so than the accusations that those opposed to the mosque – er, sorry, “cultural outreach and community center” near Ground Zero are bigoted haters of Muslims.
A very useful Kansas City debate popped up in the last week that piqued my interest. It’s a perfect parallel to the New York fight. Mega-law firm Polsinelli Shughart is preparing to move its expansive Kansas City offices into one central headquarters on the Country Club Plaza.
The owner of the Plaza, Highwoods Properties, is planning a newly designed, 8-story building to lease to the firm located in the heart of the Plaza at 47th and Broadway. The design of the new building was released to the public last week, and all hell broke loose.
The plan calls for the demolition of the original 1920s construction, now referred to as “the tower.” In its place, according to the released drawing, would be a very modern, fully “green” office tower. Ordinarily, modern, “green” office space makes a city government full of bureaucrats giddy in anticipation of the ribbon cutting.
Not this time. Ironically, the bureaucrats are fighting mad to stay old and anti-green in the name of “preserving.”
The architecture of the structure at 47th and Broadway is a truly unique, Spanish-style design that typifies the identity of Kansas City’s crown jewel. Which is why many see this corner as the last stand to “defend the crown.” There can be no doubt that without the Plaza, Kansas City loses its curb appeal.
How does the Plaza flap relate to the proposed New York mosque?
Just as Imam Rauf has legal dominion, ownership, and development rights to build his “community center” near Ground Zero, Highwoods Properties has the same legal dominion at 47th and Broadway.
Technically and legally, it’s none of our business what either does with these properties. But just because something is legal doesn’t make it free from debate in a community. And it certainly doesn’t make it right.
Now don’t confuse a call for “doing the right thing,” as a call for heavy-handed zoning rules and new laws. It shouldn’t be necessary if you have diplomats at the table. Instead, some Kansas City desk-jockey, public sector employees are already threatening historical preservation proclamations while demanding public hearings.
The broader point with both of these proposed developments is laws are not necessary if people are truly of good will.
We have duties of citizenship that go well beyond conducting ourselves in a legal manner. Laws do not define us---- they restrain us.
Right and wrong still matter.
It is not right to protest our war heroes’ funerals, but it’s legal. It’s not right to abort full-term pregnancies because the mother is “depressed,” but it’s legal. It’s not right to burn the Bible and the American flag. It wasn’t right for Democrats to pass Obamacare in the dark of night on Christmas Eve against the will of the people. It isn’t right to run up crippling national debt. But you guessed it. The law is on the side of doing all of it anyway.
A mosque at Ground Zero is legal but it is grossly inappropriate, provocative and disrespectful. A “modern” office complex razing an historic city treasure is also inappropriate, and disrespectful to civic pride.
Again, debates like these come down to judgment and good will, not law.
Polsinelli Shughart in conjunction with Highwoods Properties released a joint statement within days of the ensuing controversy:
“As our team, including Polsinelli Shughart and our architects, move through this development process, we continue to study how to better transition the traditional architecture of the Balcony Block to try and integrate elements of the historical character into the design.”
That’s good will. In other words, “We get it. You love the Plaza as it is. We’ll make this building look more like the Plaza than the old drawing did. Sorry.”
Juxtapose this with comments from Daisy Rauf, wife of the imam behind the proposed “community outreach” facility near Ground Zero, on last week’s Sunday shows:
"This is like a metastasized anti-Semitism. That's what we feel right now. It's not even Islamophobia, it's beyond Islamophobia. It's hate of Muslims. And we are deeply concerned."
That’s the opposite of good will.
In other words, “We don’t care what you have to say. We own this land, and we’re going to build what we want. And if you don’t like it, we’ll call you names and suggest your right to free speech is rooted in hate.”
The mega-law firm and Plaza landowners of Kansas City reacted swiftly to community concerns about their project. They didn’t have to. They could have just as easily released a statement decrying “metastasized anti-development” or “a hate of attorneys” as they defiantly marched on.
It’s certainly their legal right. But they know that’s not what this is about. It’s about community and civic pride. Redesigning this building in the public square shows their true commitment to those ends.
That’s bridge building. That’s community outreach when you truly care about the community in which you live. That’s good will.
So in return, and in the spirit of community outreach and good will, I’m doing my part to shelve the lawyer jokes for a while.
(Listen to Stigall each morning on 710 KCMO AM and read him each week, only right here in your Landmark. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
DEMOCRATS NEED TO DECIDE IF THEY AGREE WITH OBAMA
We're waiting Kansas City press. We're waiting regional press. We're waiting for a very simple question of every Democrat running for a congressional post in Washington. “Do you agree with President Obama's position regarding the 13-story mosque being built near Ground Zero?” The question must be asked.
Barack Obama is the head of the Democratic Party. He originally played this issue cagily, deferring to New York City and declaring the issue “local.” Then came last Friday's White House dinner celebrating the end of Ramadan:
“Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”
A day later, he tried to “walk it back.”
“I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding.”
Despite all the clarifications, and “walking back” on the original speech, it's too late. He said it and he meant it. Now, Democrats and frankly, all of us need to decide whether we agree or not.
This is a national debate. Why? Just use Obama's own logic. He has regularly said when taxpayer dollars are involved; it is of national interest and worthy of public scrutiny. Banks have been on trial. So have car companies, and all because he gave them taxpayer money to stay afloat.
By that standard, there was in excess of $15 billion in government funds sent to New York City following the attacks. But far more important, America was attacked--- our people, our values, our homeland. Those attacks were launched in concert to strike a decisive blow to our political, military and financial nerve centers.
Thousands of people from all over the country died in the attack on the Twin Towers, both in and around the buildings and on the American jets used as missiles. The Pentagon was also attacked and, again, people from around the country were murdered, both on the ground and on the hijacked jet. Also, there was a small band of heroic volunteer warriors on United Flight 93 who gave their lives to save fellow Americans from annihilation. As we know, all on board lost their lives in a Pennsylvania field.
As in all wars, we're all in this together. We were attacked, we suffered, we grieved and we sent our nation's finest overseas to risk their lives to root out the evil that declared war on America. Virtually every aspect of our lives changed as a result of the attacks. Just ask anyone who flies. American taxpayers have contributed hundreds of billions of dollars to fund enormous increases in Homeland Security costs and the wars that protect our very way of life and from future attacks.
So it is in keeping with the spirit of a “constructive national dialogue,” in the spirit of honoring the lives of innocent Americans who gave their lives as a result of the attacks or in the retaliation authorized by a 2002 Resolution of Congress, it is imperative this country engage in hearings that are broadcast live so that all our voices can be heard.
I call on the Democratic party, the party in power, to lead those hearings and make public their position on the issue.
While we're at it, it might be appropriate to recall the thinking of Senator Barack Obama about one week after the attacks.
Nine years ago, Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, issued a statement to his local newspaper the Hyde Park Herald. It was published on September 19th 2001:
“We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity."
Time must have healed our President. It is safe to say a majority of Americans, after hearing Barack Obama's Ramadan dinner remarks, would say he has exhibited an inability to “imagine or connect with the humanity and suffering” of others. He has demonstrated a stunning lack of “empathy” and a numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent” connected with the attacks.
But then, let's remember a little recent history with Barack Obama and his grossly inappropriate ideas and policies when it comes to the Middle East. The head of NASA said Obama made it clear to him that one of his first, and top priorities was to help Muslims “feel good about themselves and their contributions to science.”
Prior to that, we can recall Obama verbally assaulting Israel and doing his level best to humiliate its Prime Minister at the White House for having plans to build homes in Israel's capital city, Jerusalem. Then there was his ridiculous Cairo speech where he found moral equivalence in the Holocaust and “Arab dislocation” at Israel's birth as a nation.
It's clear now just who and what we've elected as a President. Now the question must be asked of every Democrat that would be entrusted with the interests of the electorate they represent in Washington.
Do you agree with President Obama, Democrats? Do you? We're waiting. Who's going to ask the question? Let's not dispute the legality, or the constitutionality. Sure, they have that. Let's just have this discussion.
Own your party's leader. Stand with him. We're waiting.
(Listen to Stigall each morning on KCMO 710 AM and read him each week, only right here in your Landmark. Email him at email@example.com)
AT LEAST FOR NOW, VOTERS HAVE BEATEN BACK THE ARROGANT RULING CLASS
The Landmark deadline came too early last week for me to gloat, so if you don't mind, (ahem) how about that Prop. C vote, huh?! Though, to confess just two weeks later, it's difficult listening to my own counsel from the column leading up to the vote:
“Don't worry about outcomes. Don't get dispirited when the press tries to suggest that a small turnout next week is somehow indicative of support or indifference to the health insurance mandate. Don't worry about legal challenges, or whether or not Proposition C will stand.”
You just knew it was going to be a landslide. Predictably, the press and politicians were ready with their arrogant, and dismissive spin. As much as I try to insulate myself from what was sure to follow, it's still infuriating to watch the ruling class deny what that massive yes vote meant Aug. 3.
If we were playing a drinking game and took a shot every time we heard the words “largely symbolic” as it relates to the landslide vote, we'd be hauled off to Betty Ford.
If we took a shot every time we heard a Democrat say, “Once people understand what's actually in the bill…” we'd need a liver transplant.
If we took a shot every time some snarky, partisan commentator suggested the “Heavy Republican turn-out passed Prop. C,” well, they wouldn't have to embalm you at burial.
This week, Senator “common sense” Claire McCaskill was back on her “just one of y'all” town hall tours of rural “Missour-ah.” The Associated Press' Alan Scher Zagier traveled with the senator and led with this:
“The vote may turn out to be little more than symbolic. Other pressing problems continue to vex the country, from strengthening the economy to figuring out what to do about illegal immigration.
“But as Sen. Claire McCaskill traversed rural Missouri on Tuesday for a series of town-hall meetings while Congress is in its August recess, the federal health care overhaul remained a target of angry voters.”
Translation? “You yokel idiots! Get over it! The ruling class has spoken. Complaining isn't going to change her mind. You just don't know what's good for you.”
Later in the story, Senator “common sense” basically said as much:
“It's hard to get anything done without making some people mad,” she said. “Overall, as time goes on, and people learn how this bill will be implemented, and learn that what they've heard is not true in regards to parts of this bill, I may be wrong, but I believe it will become more and more accepted by the people I work for.
“It wasn't easy for me voting for the bill knowing how unpopular it was. But I honestly believe it was the right thing to do.”
“Some people?” 71% of voters are “some” people? Golly, I hate to see the tortured soul of a senator on such public display. It wasn't easy for her, poor thing. A year ago, she threatened to use her “mom voice” as she chided hundreds of Missourians for “being rude” when they demanded she not support the health insurance takeover.
In a snowstorm on Christmas Eve day, she defiantly cast her vote to support the bill anyway. She even had the nerve to complain Republicans were holding up the process and all she wanted to do was get home to do her traditional Christmas baking with her kids. A regular Bob Cratchit, the dear lady.
Ol' Alan at the AP continued with the lie that Prop. C was a purely Republican effort:
“The Aug. 3 referendum was helped by a high Republican turnout. In Missouri's open primaries, voters don't have to register their party affiliation. But far more people picked Republican ballots than Democratic ones.”
Sure, Republicans are fired up about this issue and November 2010 in general. But facts are stubborn things, and there is no denying that the Prop C. “Yes” vote had a lot of help from unaffiliated and Democratic voters.
Some 40 thousand-plus ballots were cast not having voted for a single candidate, with only the “yes” oval filled in on Prop. C. Another 40 thousand-plus Democrats voted for Robin Carnahan and still voted “yes” on Prop C.
Now, in Washington when President Obama or Harry Reid peels off even one Republican vote to pass some monstrous spending bill, we're always told that's “bi-partisan.” Using that threshold, Missouri sent a deafening “bi-partisan” message.
Back to Alan at the AP who brings his editorial, er, “journalistically sound news article” to a close:
“While public passions remain inflamed, the required insurance provision and other aspects of the health care overhaul could ultimately be decided in the courtroom. Federal courts are expected to rule on the plan's constitutionality well before the insurance requirement takes effect.”
Wait a minute. I thought the vote was largely “symbolic.” If Prop. C was so toothless, why would courts still have to decide on Obamacare's constitutionality?
The answer is that it's not constitutional. Last month, a federal judge in Virginia agreed the state's AG made a compelling argument to go forward with a suit against the federal government. We're in unchartered waters here, and while the courts haven't been very friendly to states' rights lately, the debate is still before them.
This ain't over until the fat lady sings, so for now Missouri's law is the law of our land. If even for a brief few months or years, the voters have beaten back the arrogant, ruling class and their minions in the press.
The trick now is to ignore them.
(Read Stigall each week in The Landmark and listen to him each weekday on KCMO 710 AM. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
CUTTING THE CORD ON THE VOLT
Computers are wireless now. Phones have been for a couple of decades. Screwdrivers, drills and weed eaters are all free of wires and cords, too. Why? Convenience, ease, comfort and a popular theme of this column, freedom are the reasons. So why are so many people trying to convince you that the latest, greatest creation of the modern automobile has to be plugged in?
The Chevy Volt was rolled out last week and heralded as the car of the future. The car that will lead the way in lessening our dependence on oil, and lessening our emissions actually does neither. But more to the point, no one wants it.
A listener emailed last week and he's perturbed at my plug-in petulance:
“I don't understand why conservatives attack electric cars with such fervor. Think of electric cars as a plasma TV when they first appeared on the market. They were heavy, their image wasn't that much better than a traditional TV, they were horrifically unreliable…But people ate 'em up! Why? New technology! People have a desire to have the best, newest toys.”
The Volt is the best? People are eating them up? Compared to what? Plasmas are actually better than the old box TV for a host of reasons. They're still pretty expensive. I'd love one, but I'm happy with my old tube. There are a number of directions you could go in tackling the plasma TV analogy.
But first, let's debunk the notion that I'm opposed to “the future.” I hear this a lot. My pushback on hybrid and electric cars is somehow a backwards, hillbilly objection to technological advancement. Not at all.
The Volt is a product of market manipulation and government regulation. I don't recall receiving tax breaks from the federal government if I chose to buy the new plasmas versus the cheaper traditional TVs. Nor was the tax break issued to specifically benefit one plasma TV manufacturer. A manufacturer, incidentally, in which the government is a majority owner.
More to the point, plasma TVs aren't analogous to electric cars simply because there is demand for plasma TVs. Hybrid cars have been on the market for a decade and have yet to capture a meaningful share of the marketplace. The Volt's big sales pitch is a 40-mile trip on a fully charged battery, then a back up fuel tank that takes only premium gasoline will take you another 200+ miles.
The cost of this 40-mile, electric “advancement” is $41,000 for the BASIC model. Forget fully loaded. A fully loaded Toyota Prius is almost $8,000 less. Nobody's buying those either, by the way.
Look, if you think they're “neat,” or that they'll save you money that's fine. I have no beef with you. But just pipe down about it and be honest with yourself. You're driving one of these to make a statement. “Hey, look at me. I care about the environment. I'm doing something special.” Fine, but don't join in the nanny state chorus that they're a must for all of us.
We're a nation of big trucks and SUVS. We like to go on long trips. We pull heavy trailers. We haul lumber and equipment. We like the freedom to move about the country without stopping every 40 miles to plug ourselves in. We don't have $41,000 lying around, only to then pump hundreds of dollars of premium gasoline into a tank each month. And if we do, I guarantee we're not buying a little tin can that can't pull a boat to the lake or help us build a deck.
Finally, the science based around this “marvel” of automotive genius is based on no science at all. The idea that we must do away with the combustible engine or live with toxic pollution is a false choice. Frankly, I'm tired of expelling so much CO2 explaining CO2 isn't a pollutant. And anyone who's been watching the underwater camera in the Gulf can't possibly say with a straight face that we're running out of oil any time soon.
Still, have it your way, my tree-hugging patriots. Plug in your car to “keep the air clean and save money.” But wait! Where on Earth does that power come from when you plug your $41,000 statement into the wall? That's right. It's that dirty, black, evil coal plant. Riddle me this, green folk. How can we shut down all these “toxic, “ “pollution belching” coal plants if we're all now plugging in our car? Ever wonder what your monthly power bill will look like? Not to mention, once you've gone on that massive, 40-mile electric excursion you're right back to burning fuel!
You might take a look at just what's in a hybrid battery, incidentally. Not exactly run-of-the-mill materials.
C'mon, admit it. You realize how silly this sounds, right? You're driving a very expensive car with a battery full of rare, toxic material that needs coal-burning electricity and expensive premium gasoline so you can save money and the environment. Not so much impressive, as insane.
Even thieves aren't stealing eco-cars.Just this week, the Highway Loss Data Institute listed the most stolen cars on the market today. Large, luxury SUVs and heavy pick-up trucks topped the list. There wasn't a hybrid or plug-in car on it.
OK, in fairness, that's one upside. Even thieves don't want the things; so insurance rates should stay low.
Ford Motor Company has managed to avoid taking taxpayer money, and is beginning to post healthy profits once again. Much of that profitability has come from the continued demand for their line of heavy-duty pickups. Additionally, they're making compact cars, sub-compacts cars, and fuel-efficient cars that are selling briskly.
In other words, there's a demand for powerful trucks and efficient cars that burn less gas but don't require the extra step of an outlet and a $41,000 check.
Sorry, Volt fans. We've seen the future, and it's cordless.
(Listen to Stigall each morning on KCMO 710 AM. Read him each week only in your Landmark. Email him at email@example.com)
IT'S A BIG F'IN DEAL
Sure, the turnout will be low. No doubt that will be the narrative Wednesday morning.
"Small Voter Turnout Supports Prop. C.” Don’t let it get to you. The story Wednesday morning will be an important national story, and it scares the hell out of Washington Democrats. “MO Voters Rebuke Nationalized Health Insurance” should be the headline, but don’t hold your breath. It doesn’t matter. Joe Biden was right about this issue, it’s “a big f-in’ deal.”
Proposition C is the first of its kind in the country, and a “yes” vote is a statement of your strength. An elected legislative body in Jefferson City, at your behest, did what was expected of them. They gave you what you wanted to flex your muscle over Washington. Now will you use it?
It was Missouri Democrats in Washington D.C. who ignored the will of the state’s electorate and passed a legislative takeover of your health insurance. In an unconstitutional move for the record books, they further made the purchase of health insurance the law of the land.
But just as Dr. Ian Malcom warned of nature’s strength in Jurassic Park, the people of the United States will find a way.
That’s the beauty in the construction of our Republic. When Congress runs amok, overreaches, and strong-arms citizens without their consent, it falls on individual states to step in. And that’s just what Missouri has done, keeping with the state motto, as the first state in the union to legislatively defend you and me. I’ve never been more proud to have been born and raised in the Show Me State.
A “yes” vote on Proposition C Aug. 3 should be cast with great reverence. Missourians will have their moment in history as the first state in the union to boldly proclaim at the ballot box “don’t tread on me.” It is an historical moment in which our founders would delight.
It is true turnout will likely be scant. But there have been small groups of Americans that have done some very big things on behalf of all of us before. This is your chance now. Like that exclusive group of extraordinary men and women that make up our military - now is our time to fight.
Leftists in Missouri like Claire McCaskill, Ike Skelton, and Emanuel Cleaver love to come back home and drape themselves in the American flag. They’re the first to say they’re pro-military and pro-veteran. Invite them to a war memorial, or a VFW hall, or a military honors ceremony and they’ll be in the front row saluting.
Just this week, Senator McCaskill pledged a full investigation in to the “heartbreaking incompetence” at Arlington National Cemetery. “Bodies of fallen heroes have been misplaced,” she reported. Once again, McCaskill is the sympathetic champion of the military. But don’t let this story fool you. Those fallen heroes are rolling in their graves.
The United States military is on a constant, noble march to keep peace and expose enslaved peoples to the freedoms we enjoy. Senator McCaskill and her Democrat colleagues regularly vote to fund their missions, and crow with pride having done so.
Consider though, that the very freedoms for which our combat troops regularly fight and die are those Democrats in Washington regularly vote to seize from you and me. It is insulting to the memory of our fallen heroes each time a vote is cast to take over a car company or bank. It is despicable to raise energy rates and tax farmers through “cap and trade” legislation based on phony science. It is un-American to sue a state simply because they wish to enforce their borders and protect themselves. It dictatorial to mandate this country’s citizens’ purchase health insurance, or anything for that matter.
It is not an overstatement to say your “yes” vote Tuesday on Proposition C is nothing short of your personal contribution to the defense of our great nation.
Don’t worry about outcomes. Don’t get dispirited when the press tries to suggest that a small turnout next week is somehow indicative of support or indifference to the health insurance mandate. Don’t worry about legal challenges, or whether or not Proposition C will stand. A “yes” vote on Prop. C is your chance to be heard beyond health care town halls, editorial letters to this paper, phone calls to radio shows, and tea party rallies.
Additionally, there has been some discussion that Prop. C’s ballot language is somehow confusing. Just in case, here’s the text:
“Shall the Missouri Statutes be amended to:
Deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance or infringe upon the right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful healthcare services?
Modify laws regarding the liquidation of certain domestic insurance companies?”
Frankly, any time I see the words “deny the government authority,” I don’t need to read further. My answer is always “yes.”
How about you?
Your vote Tuesday is a “big f-in’ deal.”
(Read Chris Stigall each week in The Landmark and listen to him each weekday morning on KCMO Talk Radio 710 AM. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE 'F' WORD
There’s a lot of risk in riding a motorcycle. Anytime I saw someone on the back of a bike tooling down the interstate, I almost always thought about the danger involved. Frankly, people who rode motorcycles seemed as crazed as plane jumpers. Their “culture” was foreign, and intimidating. As it turns out, most Americans and I have more in common with bikers than I knew. It’s the “F” word.
In the media business, both in radio and here at The Landmark – advertising revenue is king. Often in talk radio, clients specifically ask me to endorse their products and services. It’s always an honor to be asked, but we have a hard and fast rule to be familiar with any product or service we ask our audiences to buy themselves.
That’s where motorcycles come in.
A local motorcycle dealer recently approached me about an endorsement opportunity. Nervously, I admitted I’d never so much as touched a motorcycle, much less ridden one. To solve that problem, I was introduced to a five-day course at the dealership complete with classroom instruction and riding time on a closed course. I’m proud to say I passed the course, and am certified – though not yet licensed to ride. You were warned, motorists.
During the class, we watched films on proper procedures, dress, behavior, etc. on the road. Throughout the films, bikers were interviewed about riding. Why do they ride? Why did they start? What’s their favorite thing about riding? I heard it again – the “F” word.
The “F” word is perhaps the most powerful marketing tool there is to move a product. That word is the reason, even in the midst of a recession; the U.S. treasury collected a record level of “sin taxes” on tobacco, alcohol, and guns in 2009. It’s why many folks are investing their money in gold today.
Have you ever seen a Corona beer commercial or maybe the new Amazon Kindle e-reader? Both commercials feature the product smack in the middle of a scene that screams the “F” word.
Ford F-150 pickup truck sales are on the uptick, as are many models of large trucks. It’s the “F” word.
The NAACP convention that made all kinds of news last week featured the First Lady of the United States condemning desserts for the nation’s kids. “Dessert is not a right,” Mrs. Obama declared. She went further to declare many neighborhoods in the nation “food deserts,” lacking in fresh produce while fast food was “too readily available.”
This has become a shared cause of the left. Those who would love to “mother” grown adults who simply aren’t raising children as they see fit are on the march to tax and ban fats, sugars, salts, and any foods they deem unhealthy for “the children.”
Hardee’s just introduced its latest fast food creation, a foot-long cheeseburger. USA Today treated it as a national obscenity:
“With health and dieting on American’s minds more than ever before, some fast food chains continue to buck the trend and give consumers more meat, more calories and more fat than ever before.”
The paper’s online edition asked readers to vote on the “most outrageous” fast food offering on the marketplace today. All were high-calorie, “offensively” un-healthy menu choices placed on display for a harsh, national rebuke.
Yet you fat slobs continue to chow down on this affront to healthy living. The First Lady, the press, and the great nanny state just can’t stamp out the “F” word.
Mrs. Obama may not think dessert is a right, but it is. Every American family has the right to decide what to feed their children. No government official has that right, but that will change if Michelle Obama gets the chance.
Wasn't it the government who told us to stay out of the sun? It seems like there’s a new health piece every day on the benefits of the sun and Vitamin D in fighting cancer and strengthening bones. Chocolate was bad. Organic was healthier. Now, virtually all of it has been proven bunk or highly refutable.
If Michelle Obama wants to be a Slim Fast spokesperson, fine. But if she sees herself as a Food Czar, then she’d better be ready for a fight. The kitchen is where families gather. The federal government is not welcome to the table.
Statists slowly but surely insert themselves between parents and their children. Between doctors and their patients. Between consumers and their choices. They substitute themselves as the better parent, counselor, or doctor one issue at a time. This is just another seemingly "good-intentioned" step to remake America.
Nevertheless, the American people cleave too closely to the “F” word for statists to ever truly succeed. We have become somewhat lax in our protection of the “F” word through the years, it’s true.
Whether Americans know it literally, or instinctively – the “F” word is under attack. It’s why people buy fast food, drink more than they should, and drive big trucks, head for the water on the weekends, and yes, ride motorcycles.
Even when it’s frowned upon, we’re addicted to the “F” word and we’re not giving it up.
Freedom. Let’s ride.
(Ride with Stigall right here in The Landmark and every weekday morning on KCMO 710-AM. Email email@example.com)
THE LIES OF LIBERALISM CRUMBLED ALL AROUND US
One week ago, these were “factual” statements:
MidAmerica Nazarene University was going to host an “Immigration Law Enforcement Rally” with Maricopa County AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio. MNU is known for its “reputation as an impartial place for public discussion.”
President Barack Obama was going to hold two exciting and big-ticket fundraisers for Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan in Kansas City.
The NAACP was expected to aggressively repudiate Arizona’s tough new immigration law.
As of this week, none of these things happened. The reasons are predictable, laughable, obvious, subtle and surprising all at the same time.
MidAmerica Nazarene University President Edwin Robinson apparently wasn’t aware that the issue of illegal immigration as well as Sheriff Arpaio’s role in the debate has become a bit of a national “hot button.”
When a few left-wing radicals threatening his university rattled President Robinson’s cage, he caved like a good little academic. Ironically sighting the school’s reputation as an impartial place for public discussion, Robinson said the title and size of the potential turnout was “taking on a dimension that was larger than a place of discourse.”
“Controversial Sheriff” Arpaio’s appearance just “added fuel to the fire,” added Robinson. How very Elena Kagan of him.
Next, President Obama visited Kansas City to raise money for a woman who literally wouldn’t be caught dead next to him until last week. Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s humble, folksy fundraiser with the president would cost you $30K for a prime seat and photo opportunity.
But for you little people, team Carnahan thought of you too. For the pocket-change price of $500 each, you could get a first come, first served seat to the intimate Folly Theater. There, you “Average Joes” could bask in our Dear Leader’s greatness just like the high rollers down the block.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Folly. The tickets weren’t selling. Turns out the little guy doesn’t have $5 bucks, much less $500. So, in a last minute scramble to move seats, Team Carnahan lowered seating costs to just $17 dollars a seat. A third of the theater remained empty the day Obama took the stage.
The biggest news the president made during his visit was his “impromptu” trip to a stimulus-infused company near the airport. A trip, by the way that occurred only to save Ms. Carnahan’s campaign the cost of bringing POTUS to town. Apparently a presidential visit and all of its expensive trappings can be billed evenly to all of us taxpayers when the visit is “official.” With the turnout a poor as it was at the fundraiser, I suppose Ms. Carnahan could’ve used the help.
Next on Kansas City’s busy schedule was the NAACP’s annual, national convention. The Kansas City Star’s resident black race-baiter Lewis Diuguid lamented President Obama’s decision to blow off the convention this year. He suggested he had it on good authority that officials within the organization were “disappointed” that First Lady Michele Obama was coming instead. That’s right, the nation’s first black First Lady isn’t as significant as her husband. Any black feminists out there?
Diuguid went on to pummel President Obama as “neglectful” of blacks and proclaimed their needs have gone begging. Chief among them, stifling unemployment topped his race-based to-do list for Obama. But wait, there’s more.
The Diuguid column was followed by a Washington Post column headlined, “Black voters still support Obama but are ambivalent about midterm elections.” Specifically, it quoted the new head of the Kansas City Missouri School Board Airick West. “Maybe other people thought he had a magic wand and went to Hogwarts and thought, ‘Oh, he’s black so he’s going to help all the black people,” said West. “If that’s what you’re looking for, that ain’t coming.”
A black barbershop customer was quoted in the same story expressing his frustrations with Obama, too. “If Obama was in this chair right here, I would tell him to give me a job. That’s what I would ask for.”
Which brings us to the NAACP’s predictable, and understandable poker-face regarding Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder’s lawsuit against Arizona. If you look back in the archives of this column dated April 28th of this year, I quoted this week’s convention speaker Al Sharpton. On his radio show, he addressed his activist followers reluctance to protest Arizona. It’s important to print it again:
“There are many in our (black) community that say no. These immigrants are taking our jobs. They're milking our economy, and Reverend, I don't agree with you on that. I have a lot of people even in National Action Network say to me Reverend; I'm with you on a lot of things. I'm not with you on this."
The Kansas City Star’s resident Latino race-baiter Mary Sanchez held out hope this week that the NAACP would speak out boldly regarding this week’s Sheriff Arpaio event and the issue of Arizona and amnesty in general. So far, the silence has been deafening. Sanchez asserted that historical precedence exists for blacks and Latinos to ally.
I’m not certain that case can be made, but even so, self-preservation rules the day now --as it always has and should in America. Minority unemployment is stunningly, unacceptably high. Activists that lead the NAACP know this too. Sorry, Ms. Sanchez. There’s only room for one color in the NAACP rainbow, so I’m afraid you’ll have to hock your phony racism charges elsewhere.
Liberal realities were turned on their heads this week. The lies of liberalism crumbled all around us, and right in our community’s back yard. It was a great week for truth in Kansas City.
(Email Chris Stigall at Stigall@710kcmo.com)
A BITE OF APPLE
What is it about the apple? Eve offered to Adam. The witch offered it to Snow White.
Now, I too know the lure of the apple. Last week, I waited in line to take my first “bite” of Apple's new iPhone 4, and now I'm absolutely under its spell.
I was impressed from the moment I showed up in front of the Apple store. It was a hot, sunny day with no breeze to speak of. The line was long for those of us who'd made a reservation the week before. The line was eternal for those with no reservation and no guarantee of a pay off for the wait.
Still, the Apple employees treated all in line with the same courtesy and respect. Dozens of black golf umbrellas were passed out to shade waiting shoppers. Bottles of water were distributed upon request. Teams of employees in matching blue shirts paced the line to bolster morale of those waiting. Extra police officers were stationed at the front door “just in case” things turned unruly.
Long before I got to the front of the line, a woman greeted me with a hand-held, wireless device. She asked for my last name. “Stigall,” I replied. After a few keystrokes, she confirmed, “Alright, Chris. Your new phone is reserved inside. It'll be about forty more minutes.”
Once the front of the line was in sight, I began to notice employees walking out the front door and personally greeting each person as they escorted them into the store. One by one, I watched grown adults lured into this techno-toy store until finally, I reached the front of the line. “Hello, Chris. My name is Kyle. Are you ready?”
I was putty in his hands. I knew nothing of Apple products, services, or what I was about to buy. Within moments, Kyle had emerged from the back room holding the “holy grail” of in-demand gizmos.
“I'll just need a credit card to complete the transaction,” he said with a smile. He took the iPhone 4 out of the box, swiped my card in his hand-held, wireless device and congratulated me on my purchase. It was mere minutes. How could it possibly be this easy? What about my old phone and the information on it?
“John will take care of transferring all of that,” Kyle said with a smile. He ushered me across the store where another friendly gent went to work on my phone. Again, within minutes the transaction was complete. While I waited, John engaged me in discussion about the day's big event and how it was going.
I couldn't believe how orderly, fast, and pleasant it all had been. No shouting. No pushing. No “tech-geeks” with superior, know-it-all attitudes speaking with disdain for my lack of knowledge. As I began the day, I was certain I'd encounter madness not unlike “Black Friday” after Thanksgiving. Instead, it was a day of customer service I'm not certain could be replicated.
Perhaps the day stood out because I spend the vast majority of my time reading, writing, and talking about those who let us down with regularity. Perhaps it's the rage I feel when I read of Joe Biden telling a custard shop manager to, “stop being such a smartass” when the shop owner asks for his taxes to be lowered. I chafe when my president wants to find some “ass to kick” or a Missouri Senator who “uses her mom voice” when her constituents shout in frustration.
Poor management, and non-existent leadership can wound a business just as it is wounding our nation today.
A friend of mine once ran a chain of successful restaurants. When he was new to the job, he told of how he loved to greet his guests. Glad-handing, showboating, and the superfluous “front of house” activities were his focus. After a few days, one of his cooks came from the back. Gently, but firmly, his cook recommended he spend some time with those that prepared the food and washed the dishes in the back.
My friend was ashamed to admit it, but he soon realized that customer service was far more than just “looking” in charge. It was delivering quality. Good food and efficient service would keep his customers happy. After all, what good was a handshake from the manager if the food was bad and the service was suspect?
Going forward, my friend embraced the concept of “management by walking around.” He would regularly drop in on one of his properties, put on an apron, and start cooking. He watched for his employees to go out of their way, or do a little more than was expected. If he spotted it, employees were often rewarded with praise and a $20 dollar bill for the effort.
His restaurant chain would go on to grow into a multimillion-dollar operation.
There's a book of stories just like my friend's out there. Without question they all have one thing in common strong leadership and management.
So what makes an organization successful? What was the secret to my seductive first experience with Apple? A little research on the website mobilecrunch.com explained it for me:
“Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is no stranger to waiting in line outside of the Valley Fair Apple store in San Jose. He found his way to the front of the line for the launch of the original iPhone, and then joined it again for the subsequent launches of the iPhone 3G S and the iPad. It should come as no surprise, then, that “Woz” is camped out at that very location right this second, awaiting the launch of the iPhone 4… “Woz” has said in the past that he does it for the experience… ”
Nope, no magic. No witch or seductive temptation. Leadership charmed me.
(Let Stigall charm you each week here in The Landmark. Catch his show from 5-9 each weekday morning on KCMO 710 AM. Email Stigall@710kcmo.com)
SHOOTING THE MESSENGER
General Stanley McChrystal is in hot water this week. He has temporarily left his post as commander in Afghanistan for what is, in essence, a trip to the principal's office. At issue, an intimate and uncomfortably candid article set for release in Rolling Stone magazine painting the General's relationship with President Obama as strained, at best. The article claims McChrystal has seized control of the war "by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House."
A number of discussions have ensued regarding the appropriateness of the blunt, apparent "on-the-record" comments in the article. Many of the most damning quotes weren't attributed to the general himself, rather his support staff. Martha Raditz, ABC News' military affairs correspondent called the article "personal gossip, personal laundry." Indignantly, Raditz continued, "It's not about policy. It's not about troops. And we're in the middle of a war."
A Midwestern preacher and cartoonist named Frank Clark once said, ""Gossip needn't be false to be evil - there's a lot of truth that shouldn't be passed around." Maybe that's what Ms. Raditz means? After all, we're reminded regularly by the anti-war left that dissent is as American as apple pie. Perhaps that's just when the commander in chief is a Republican?
Indeed we are in the middle of the war. In fact, you'd almost forget about it were it not for rare communications flare-ups like this one. Were you aware we just crested 4,000 troop deaths in Afghanistan this month? When George Bush was commander in chief, troop deaths were treated like a daily tear-away wall calendar by the media. They seemed to delight in the daily carnage. But today, can you honestly say you hear or even think about Afghanistan with regularity unless you have a loved one there at this hour?
Not since late last year was there this much news about Afghanistan. Even then, it wasn't about strategy. It was McChrystal's comments to Steve Croft of '60 Minutes.' At the time of the interview, McChrystal had been on the job for just over two months. Croft asked the general, "How often do you talk to the president?" The general replied, "I've talked to the president since I've been here once…" To clarify, Croft follows up, "You've talked to him once in 70 days?" "That's correct," McChrystal confirmed.
So, is McChrystal just a malcontent, rabble-rouser with a personal agenda? Are his comments, as Ms. Raditz described, nothing more than dirty laundry? Doubtful. Even so, is there something to be learned from them? Definitely. In fact, Mr. Obama's year- and- a- half in the White House has left a trail of "closed door, one-on-one, private, and off-the-record" conversations that continue to underscore the callous, calculated, petulant nature of our president.
Frustrated at the lack of progress in the Gulf, Obama declared in a private meeting, "Plug the damn hole." Privately, he threatened the nation's largest banks that if they didn't bend to his will that he "was the only thing standing in between them and the pitchforks."
Late last month, Obama met with Senate Republicans and the meeting was so uncomfortable that Kansas Senator Pat Roberts declared, "He needs to take a Valium before he comes in and talks to Republicans. He's pretty thin-skinned." Then there's the meeting with BP executives last week that led to a $20 billion dollar fund fronted by BP, and administered by the US government. Congressman Joe Barton of Texas now famously apologized to BP's CEO for the "shakedown" treatment in the private meeting with the president. While we don't know what was said, you'll not find BP folks denying that's what happened.
Another private conversation between President Obama and Arizona Senator John Kyl has the men in a "he said, he said" war of words. Kyl shared Obama's private comments with his constituents back home. Kyl quotes the president as saying, "The problem is, if we secure the border, then you all won't have any reason to support 'comprehensive immigration reform.'" In other words, Kyl said, the president is holding border security hostage to comprehensive reform. As of this week, Kyl stands by the comments and the White House is calling Kyl a liar. Guess you'll have to go with your gut on this one, too.
Obama's public comments are never much more controlled than in private, anyway. Whether he's looking to "kick some ass," or suggesting cops "acted stupidly." Whether he threatens to bankrupt the coal industry, or accuses doctors of needless procedures for profit - this is a president who demands respect, not commands it.
It's not like it's a big secret. It's not as though Rolling Stone is breaking new ground here. It's just who's said it this time that's "newsworthy." General McChrystal may have broken a military code in his candor, and blunt assessment of his "support" structure in D.C. Only servicemen and women can judge for sure.
The American people have reached the conclusion that McChrystal and company are painfully accurate, even if unorthodox. Unemployment, lending, home foreclosures, decreased retail sales, big government spending, taxes, health insurance, the Gulf oil spill, Afghanistan--take your pick. None of it is being managed well. And that's not McChrystal's fault, or the banks' fault, or BP's fault, or Republicans’ fault.
The responsibility of leading falls on the shoulders of one man, and he's not up to the task. Let's stop shooting the messengers.
(Listen to our man Stigall from 5-9 a.m. each weekday on KCMO 710 AM. Read him only in your Landmark. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
IT'S THE LAW--SORT OF
There's no need to rehash the illegal alien debate. You know the arguments and where you stand. What we do know is an overwhelming majority of the country favors strong borders and proof of citizenship. Most people believe that residing in the country without proof of citizenship is breaking the law. Others call it shades of gray. Some police chiefs, including Kansas City Police Chief Corwin, fall in the shades of gray category.
It was once explained to me through the prism of some in law enforcement's eyes that illegal aliens aren't equally illegal. For example, if an illegal alien is suspected of rape, robbery, drug running, etc. that's the REALLY illegal behavior police want to stop first.
Many police chiefs like Corwin are actively recruiting bilingual officers and infiltrating known pockets of illegal alien communities to investigate the "really" illegal behavior of illegal aliens. Are you following this? In other words, living in the United States illegally isn't as criminal as breaking the law while living here illegally.
For example, say a number of illegal aliens are roofing a home. ne of those illegal aliens is suspected of committing a murder last night. hief Corwin believes the relationship his force has fostered with the suspect's illegal alien roofing colleagues is the best way to track down the murderer. he idea is an illegal alien community will be more inclined to cooperate with law enforcement if they're left alone concerning their citizenship status.
In fairness to our local police, I understand that verifying citizenship is an added item on an already crowded list of demands on the beat. We have underfunded, understaffed federal offices called ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) that are supposed to be charged with detention and deportation of illegal aliens in our midst. In an ideal world, this responsibility should not fall on local police officers. But, neither should bank fraud. And while a patrol officer may not be investigating illegal money transfers, I have to believe if he knew it was happening he'd act on it just as a federal officer would. At the very least, notify the proper federal authorities.
This is not to suggest police officers must run around the city asking for identification and proof of citizenship. Just as Arizona now demands, those caught committing a crime must also show identification at the time of the stop. This is an obvious and relatively easy next step. How do I know it is? Police Chief Corwin admitted it on his own blog:
"Last night, Kansas City Police conducted the last of six driver's license checkpoints funded by a federal Multi-Offender grant…Police checked a total of 1,494 cars and made the following arrests and citations:
“Driving while revoked/suspended 9 (two were persistent offenders) No license or failure to produce license 32 Other Citations 6 Warrants Cleared 4 Drug Arrests 1
“The final tally is that 355 drivers or about 5 percent of all the people officers checked in the last six weeks were driving illegally in Kansas City. That's 1 in every 20 cars. That's a frightening statistic, especially when we know how these illegal drivers are 4.9 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
Like I mentioned, although this major operation is over for now, more than 100 KCPD officers are now trained to conduct them in their own patrol divisions and will continue to do so…"
See? It can be done. In fact, this is more aggressive than Arizona's new law. Chief Corwin was touting the shocking results tied to random checkpoint stops. Checkpoints! Not verifying citizenship after you've been stopped for breaking the law. Just driving down the streets of Kansas City might mean officers demanding proof of identification without having done a single thing wrong!
This is no different than DUI checkpoints on a Saturday night. Cracking down on those driving drunk, illegally or uninsured is the right thing to do. But the difference is political correctness can't be tied to speed traps and check points. Race baiting can't play a factor if drivers unwittingly drive into a random, pre-determined checkpoint. Thus, chiefs like Corwin don't find themselves in the middle of politically damaging charges of racism and xenophobia.
I don't envy local law enforcement. Theirs is some of the toughest, most thankless, burdensome, dangerous work in the country. I count many in police work personal friends. Privately, they tire of continually learning and committing to an ever-growing list of bureaucratic procedures and policies as to protect themselves from the very criminals they catch. Nevertheless, they are our last line of defense in an orderly society. We depend on them to defend and, at times, restore that order.
Just as radar guns catch you speeding. Just as driving without a seat belt, or with a beer, or without a car seat for your baby--it's not negotiable. You're breaking the law. If you can't prove you're a citizen, the same goes for you. Our laws are black and white, no matter your skin color.
There can be no shades of gray.
(Listen to Stigall each morning on 710 KCMO-AM and read him each week, right here in your Landmark. Email him at email@example.com)
A STREET-THUGGISH PERFORMANCE BY OBAMA
A recent online cable news poll asked a question of visitors to their website, “With whom are you most angry as the oil spill continues to ravage the Gulf?” That's a paraphrased version of the question, but the nature of the question didn't work for me. There's one word in particular. The presumptuous nature of the word stood out. It is a word that thoughtful, composed adults don't throw around a lot when there is a genuine accident. This explains why liberal columnists and pundits alike are endlessly using the word and demanding its use and display far more as it relates to the Gulf oil spill. It explains President Obama's embarrassing stop on the Today Show this week. It explains the “show trials” on Capitol Hill with oil executives. You gotta show 'em you're ANGRY at the oil industry, damn it!
Before you dismiss this column as an apologist's view for BP, please understand their can be no tolerance of the total devastation that their accident has wrought. This is a company who seemingly ignored warning signs of impending danger. This is a company that seemed to dramatically overstate the readiness and capability of their response to the worst case scenario. But at the end of the day, this is a company caught in the midst of a tragic accident. You may feel disappointed, disapproving, dismayed, disheartened, and disgusted, but begging for BP's blood to spill along with the oil is childish. It was an accident. A costly, destructive, potentially industry killing accident and anyone suggesting BP isn't doing enough to stop this is borderline demented.
As for the government response, to borrow a phrase from President Obama, “let me be clear.” That stokes anger already deep within most Americans. Not because we expect anyone in Washington D.C. to fix the oil leak. They can't, and we know it. No matter how much bluster they spew at press conferences about “keeping boots on the necks of BP” or being “on it from day one.” All anyone in D.C. can do is what most of the rest of us are doing. Pray, and wait. However, what the federal government can do is get out of the way and let local governments do all they feel they can to stave off a tsunami of oil headed for their shore.
President Obama's critics, and they're mostly his own supporters, say he's not looking “tough enough.” He needs to tell BP “I'm your daddy,” as James Carville stated last week.
Frankly, it's this kind of tripe that is as aloof and out of touch as you can get. The folks in the Gulf feel they best have the know-how to beat back the approaching slick. They can't stop the leak either, but they can save themselves further damage. They're not raging at the evils of the oil industry at this hour. In fact, two widows of the 11 men killed in the rig explosion plead with Congress just last week to continue drilling off the coast. As have many in the region. The oil industry is a huge part of their local economy. Obama and Congress making big oil their political piñata isn't what the Gulf needs now. There will be time for that. Right now, the folks most impacted by this tragedy are in self-preservation mode. They're not looking for vengeance. They're looking for help.
Time and again, in interview after interview, we hear stories of locals and government officials begging D.C. bureaucrats. Begging permission and support for more boom, construction of sand barriers, new technologies and foreign nations' help. Many requests have been met with professorial strategy meetings, paper pushing, or dismissive Obama press conferences declaring the locals' ideas as “not cost effective.” As though this president has a penny-pinching reputation.
This makes me angry. Government is once again stymieing rugged individualism. Government is once again trying to capitalize politically while doing nothing to truly help those who can help themselves if they'd just get out of the way. “Provide for the common defense” is the chief task of our government. Not “provide for the common vengeance.”
This brings us to this week's utterly classless and street thuggish performance by our Commander In-Chief. Wearing an “angry mask” for all his left-wing sycophants, the President lashed out at Matt Lauer's suggestion that he and his administration weren't doing enough in the aftermath of the spill: "I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar; we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."
Once you get past the President of the United States debasing the office with his language, the entire context of the reaction is telling. He's angry alright. He's angry that his buddies are turning on him. He's angry he's being attacked as “professorial.” He's angry that he's being told he's not displaying anger.
Obama took over auto companies, banks, student loans, and health insurance to “get even,” using false narratives of faceless victims. And the press played along. This spill was supposed to be the oil industry's grave digging and eventual takeover just the same. The moment Obama wanted to move in and crush the necks of BP. You know, with his aforementioned boot. But Obama is in uncharted, oil slicked water. Anger is all he knows, and that's not what the Gulf needs now. They need an outpouring of compassion, not vengeful “ass-kicking.” They need immediate relief for their already ailing economy. Not punitive drilling moratoriums that place even more residents out of work and businesses without customers. They need all minds and efforts focused on them to stop this leak, not sanctimonious Congressional witch hunts of key players within the industry who might be able to end this.
When oil drenched birds and beaches aren't the norm on our evening news each night, then by all means carry on with your sanctimonious rage. But until then, let's just have some reasoned leadership to assist, comfort, and aide those still in harm's way. That's assuming it's possible for President Obama and Congressional Democrats to stop threatening “ass kickings” in the midst of a disaster.
Albert Einstein once said, “Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools.” Fools or “asses,” as it were. Guess it takes one to “kick” one.
(Read Stigall each week only in The Landmark and listen to him each morning on KCMO Talk Radio 710 AM. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
For earlier columns from Stigall, click here