Monday, November 01, 2010

Waiting for the Dawn

"... And like a thousand other commanders on a thousand other battlefields, I wait for the dawn."
- Captain Jean Luc Picard
On the eve of a historic election, this quote seems to express nearly every ounce of anticipation I have for the election results. (And, to be honest, I also feel a pinch of dread that my predictions would be wrong.) In any case, this post isn't about sharing my election predictions (many of which I've already shared here). Rather, this post is about what happens after the election.

What happens on November 3rd? That's the morning our work just gets started. If the election turns out the way many of us expect it to, there will be a large number of upset people: the media, establishment Republicans, and pretty-much the entire Democrat party. And, furthermore, each of these will be working overtime to discredit the election results, and to sabotage the outcome we all anticipate. In other words, they'll all be out to derail any attempt to change the direction of our government in Washington. Any of the tactics that were employed during this election (name-calling, lies, and mud-slinging) will be magnified by a factor of ten. And, more than that, the entire establishment will be out to neuter any of the incoming freshmen Republicans. Our job, then, will be to see to it that we remain vocal enough to let both the Washington establishment and newly-elected Freshmen know that our desires haven't changed, just because we've thrown a few bums out of office. We won't accept anything less than total rollback of the Anti-American agenda currently being implemented by the 'Rats in Congress (and in the White House).

It's our job to see to it that the incoming Freshmen do not lose heart and give in to the Washington establishment who would seek only the preservation of their own power above all else. And that job is just beginning.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Obama's Taxing Trap

As we Conservatives count down the days to the November elections, and the replacement of the current House Speaker and Senate Majority leader, there is a trap that the Republicans must be careful to avoid: I believe that Barack Obama is set to push through massive tax increases and blame the Republicans for them.

In recent weeks, a number of international events has highlighted the danger of deficit spending. First, Obama went to the G20 to ask the member nations to spend more money. Instead of going along with his worthless idea, they repudiated him and pledged deficit reduction. Additionally, the IMF on July 8 issued a call for America to focus on deficit reduction. And not all of the spirited calls for deficit reduction originate from outside our borders: Recent polling puts deficit spending as the number 1 or number 2 concern (depending on the specific poll) for Americans. And, the Tea party movement has long criticized the out-of-control deficit spending.
Therein lies the trap: Obama's sheep in Congress have added new spending like drunken sailors, and now that Obama has the spending in-hand, he's not going to give it up. Come November, (when, I predict, the GOP reclaims the House of Representatives), Obama will demand that Republicans make good on their promise of "deficit reduction" (which I still haven't heard Republicans commit to), and raise taxes. Of course, Obama will not remotely consider any more than token spending cuts to accomplish deficit reduction. If the Republicans are to avoid the trap, they need to control the debate before we ever reach the election. Republicans need to focus on policies that will promote growth in the economy, and instead of focusing on deficit reduction, they need to focus the debate on spending reduction.

Monday, July 12, 2010

November Outcome: New Congressional Leadership

In some previous posts, I've hinted about my thoughts regarding the outcome of the November elections. I think it's time that I formalize my predictions. Put succinctly, I think there is a very good chance that both chambers of Congress will have new leadership. But not the way you're thinking...

I am firmly convinced that we will have a new House Speaker, as the Republicans will re-take the House and fire Nanci Pelosi. (Moreover, I think the majority will be fairly significant.) I realize this is an ambitious prediction, as this means massive losses for the Democrats. But, I think current polling supports my prediction. (Time will tell, though...)

My prediction for the change in Senate leadership is far less ambitious. I do not foresee the GOP retaking the Senate. (As much as I would like to see that happen.) I think the election outcome will put the balance at 53-47 (advantage Democrats). However, Harry Reid will no longer be the majority leader, as I predict that Sharon Angle will defeat him in November. Polling shows a significant disapproval for Reid in Nevada, and the last I saw, Angle had a 7-point edge over Reid. Moreover, Obama's attempt for Reid did nothing to move his poll numbers in either direction.

Time is the enemy of all election predictions, as a lot can happen in a short time. However, I think it's time to go on-record with my election predictions. Time will tell if I am right.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

We Need Solutions, not Scapegoats

For the past two days, America's radio talk show circuit has been abuzz about President Obama's remarks, made in this video clip:

The remarks demonstrate precisely the problem with the Administration's handling of the gulf oil spill (and most problems it's presented with): Instead of looking for solutions to the problem, they seek a scapegoat to blame for the whole problem. I, for one, feel very comforted when our nation's Commander-in-Chief walks around referring to whom he can beat up and how. (No wonder people have taken to referring to the Obama Administration as a "thugocracy".)

I would far prefer that the Administration seek real solutions, not scapegoats.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Big Ideas, Not Big Government

At this point, it is fairly clear that the outcome of November's election is not going to be good for the Democrats. What's not clear, though, is whether it will be good for the Republicans. A surging anti-incumbent sentiment has already unseated several high-ranking party members of both parties, including Benedict Arlen Specter himself, and Senator Bennett of Utah.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, it's clear that there will be a good deal of new blood in Congress. Let us hope that it comes with new ideas as well. To that end, I'd like to encourage you to check out a site launched by the House Republicans to solicit policy suggestions, and give you (and me) a place to speak out for better solutions for our current problems than are being offered by the current Administration. The site is at In a manner similar to the Contract from America, the site intends to solicit policy suggestions and discussion by the American public. Since the launch of the site on Tuesday, May 25, the site has been up and down, dragged down by the volume of traffic -- most of which, at times, seems to be coming from the Democrat astroturf machine. As of late, things seem to have stabilized a bit, possibly because the SEIU thugs have lost interest in bashing Bush, Christians, and Republicans). And due to the volume of traffic and negative comments on the site, it's all the more important that we of Conservative mindset dilute the negativity on the site.

It's time that those of us with Conservative ideology begin to offer some new ideas, and this is a site that exists for such a purpose. It's not that "old" Conservative ideology doesn't work: It's that sometimes there is a disconnect between an ideology and a specific policy. We can be guided by our ideology, while offering new (and specific) policy suggestions to fix what's broken in Washington. And lateley, it seems to me that many people who recognize that our government is badly broken seem to get stuck in a rut, falling back to the same two or three policy suggestions:
  • Abolish the IRS and implement the fair tax.
  • Implement term limits for Congress.
  • Cut taxes
And while these suggestions do address specific failings of our government, I don't think they go far enough: Variations on the theme of cutting taxes and reducing the size of government are great; but what about enacting policies that ensure that government can never grow large again (regardless of what clown is in power) -- what about placing an absolute cap on the amount of money the Federal government can spend every year? Likewise, term limits may limit the career of one bad apple who happens to be a career politician; but what about a policy that allows the recall of the entire Congress when enough Americans are disgusted with the Congressional antics?

It's time that we all work together to brainstorm some newer, bigger ideas that will be sure to defeat Big Government, and a site like AmericaSpeakingOut is a great place to do that. The Big Ideas will catch on, even if the House Republicans aren't listening (as some have asserted).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Coming of Nationalized Pizza Delivery

Just as I indicated in my prior post that the Tea Party isn't always Right, it looks like the ACLU isn't always on the "wrong" side of every issue. I stumbled upon the following video, produced by the ACLU in 2007. And while it was produced in 2007, it seems far more likely to happen now that Obamacare is the law of the land (for now).

For your viewing pleasure:

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Tea Party Isn't Always Right

This is fairly old news by now, but significant nonetheless. The Tea Party Express has officially endorsed a single Democrat, Walt Minnick of Idaho's First Congressional District. As the only Democrat to receive the endorsement of the national Tea Party organization, Minnick is perhaps the Loneliest Democrat. And in electing to endorse Mr. Minnick, the Tea Party Express is gravely mistaken.

You see, Tea Party Express is a national organization. But, how is Mr. Minnick perceived at the local level? I dare not try to speak for all Idahoans, but I am an Idahoan, and a resident of the First Congressional District, at that. And I think the Tea Party Express is mistaken in their endorsement of Minnick. To a point, I can agree with the logic expressed by Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express, quoted in the Idaho Statesman's coverage of the endorsement: "We have to reward some Democrats that have been willing to stand with us on the tough issues." And Russo has a point: Minnick has opposed Cap and Trade, Obamacare, and the stimulus bill. However, neither Mr. Minnick, nor any other Congressional candidate, has received the endorsement of the local Tea Party organization, Tea Party Boise.

I think it's important to look at Minnick's whole voting record, not just whether he stood on the right side of a few issues. Minnick is certainly not stupid: He knows that this Congressional district is among the most right-leaning districts in a state where the GOP enjoys a super-majority in the state legislature. He knows that he owes his election largely to the fact that his opponent, Rep. Bill Sali, was very unpopular within the state Republican party. (Prior to Sali receiving the GOP nomination for the seat, the Speaker of the Idaho House publicly proclaimed that he thought that Sali was "an absolute idiot...".) Minnick also knows that he can't show his true colors and vote with the party-line when his constituents are likely to be paying attention (on the "big" votes").

So, how does Minnick vote when he doesn't think we're paying attention (or care)? Here's a smattering:
  • He voted with the Democrats to nationalize our student loan industry (a vote which was proclaimed by Nanci Pelosi to be one of Obama's three pillars in his Blueprint for American Prosperity.)
  • He voted for Stimulus #2 (aka the "Jobs Bill of 2010).
  • He supported Cash for Clunkers (at least enough to vote to authorize the extension of the bill), and we all know what a success that was.
While Minnick has had the guts to stand up to his party on some issues of great importance, it's clear to me that his voting record (and not just the highlights I list here) is not in-line with the ideals of the Tea Party movement. Moreover, the Tea Party Express has undermined the ability of the local Tea Party to express an opinion on Minnick's performance. Should Tea Party Boise decide to endorse his opponent, the two opinions would largely cancel one another out. Both candidates would be able to claim to have been endorsed by the Tea Party. This is precisely why any endorsements from the Tea Party movement need to come from the local level. If "all politics is local politics", then national organizations need to stay out of the business of endorsing local candidates: Let the local organizations do the endorsing, and offer them funding as needed.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cap and Trade: The Final Pillar

I saw the following video on Kirk Petersen's blog.

The video reminded me of some less entertaining information regarding the hoax that is cap and trade, namely that a Cap and Trade bill is the third (and final) pillar of Obama's three point "blueprint for American Prosperity". (HT: Another Black Conservative)

According to Nanci Pelosi herself, the first two pillars are already in-place: Health Care, and "Education Reform" (the takeover of the student loan industry). Just like all of Obama's policies, it seems that this is yet another hoax designed to put us in chains.

There is a great website out there at (the video included the URL) that has some great information, as well as a petition you can sign and send to your Congressmen. I'd urge everyone to sign it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Senate Says "No VAT"

Well, it looks like the U.S. Senate read my post earlier today about the Value Added Tax (VAT). And, according to the Washington Post, it looks like they've gone on-record in an attempt to prove me wrong: If you haven't read it, my post asserted that we would see an attempt to implement a European-Style VAT.

Today's Senate vote does make that seem unlikely, as the vote was a stunning 85-13 in favor of a non-binding resolution that puts the Senate on-record in opposition of implementing a VAT. Of course, the resolution is non-binding, so they can go back on their word, and these days, I wouldn't put anything past the current Congress. Further evidence suggesting that I may have been incorrect is the fact that 6 of the Senators who voted in favor of the resolution are also on the President's debt commission, and the President's rules stipulate that 14 of the 18 commissioners must sign-off on any recommendation(s). So, unless some of these 6 change their minds, it's unlikely to become an official recommendation.

All of the above having been said, I take pride in having been correct about one thing: the nefarious nature of the VAT. The Post quotes John McCain as saying that "the danger in a VAT is that it is a hidden tax, built into the price of most products, and so consumers aren't as aware the government has taken a share of the money." That is precisely the point I made. The American people may not consider the idea of a VAT toxic -- but the tax is an absolutely toxic tax. We will soon see, however, if the tables don't turn and prove my prediction right...

The Tax Man Cometh

Today is the day many in America have dreaded for months: It's tax day. Time to pay the piper. Well, for roughly half of Americans, that's true. Because only 47 percent of Americans owe no income tax for 2009. Meanwhile, the top 10 percent of wage-earners paid about 73% of federal income taxes, and a family of 4 can make as much as $50,000 and still not pay one penny in income taxes. No wonder Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf recently proclaimed that our nation's "fiscal policy is unsustainable, and unsustainable to an extent that it can't be solved through minor changes."

Elmendorf goes on to make some pretty good points that many Conservatives, myself included, can agree with, like:
  • "Obama's policies would produce deficits averaging $1 trillion for the next decade"
  • “Government would need to make changes in some set of the large programs, large parts of the tax code that we think of as the fundamental parts of the budget.”
  • "Spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, plus defense programs and debt interest, will exceed the rest of the federal budget in 10 years if most of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are extended, as President Barack Obama has proposed."
But it's that last comment that makes me uncomfortable, as Elmendorf has advocated a tax increase in the same sentence as the suggestion of a massive overhaul of our nation's tax code. If that's not bad enough, couple it with a similar suggestion of a massive tax code overhaul by Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, and that makes me very uncomfortable.

While political spectators can't decide whether Volcker was speaking on behalf of the Administration (he chairs the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board), or himself, I believe this was a test balloon sent up by the Administration. Obama doesn't want to get out there and champion another unpopular idea, nor does he want to directly ask what the American people think, so he gets Volcker to make an off-handed remark about it, while he sits back and watches the reaction. Thus far, since the remark was made on April 6, the reaction hasn't been all that bad, except in the Conservative blogs.

I predict to you that the idea of introducing a VAT will come back as an official policy suggestion by the Administration or one of the Democrat lackeys over in Congress. Therein lies the motivation behind this post: The VAT is perhaps the most nefarious of all the forms of taxation that can be proposed. For Americans, who are not accustomed to the VAT, the concept can be difficult to understand. Moreover, most people who attempt to explain the VAT oversimplify it, and miss some of the worst aspects of the VAT. Let me attempt to explain.

VAT stands for Value Added Tax. And, like a sales tax, it is a consumption tax. (Instead of taxing your income as it is earned, the goods that you consume are taxed as you spend your income.) In this regard, a VAT is similar in concept to a national sales tax. That's where the similarity ends: the entirety of an assessed sales tax is collected when the goods are purchased by the consumer. An assessed VAT is collected in "pieces". As the name implies, a VAT is a tax on the value added to goods at every single step in the manufacturing and distribution process. When a manufacturer purchases raw materials that are then turned into a final product, the difference between the price at which they sell the final product and the price they paid for the raw materials is the value added. The manufacturer pays a percentage tax on the value that they added to the goods. When a wholesaler then purchases the goods from the manufacturer and sells them to a distributor, they will sell these goods at a profit, and so they pay a tax on that value added. This process continues until a retail outlet sells the goods to the consumer (and they pay a tax on the difference in final sales price and the price they paid for the goods). The final tax is a percentage of the value added at every stage in the manufacturing process. However, the nefarious aspect is that the final tax is paid by multiple people and is built into the purchase price paid by the consumer. Neither the consumer, nor anyone else knows the total tax paid on the goods. Additionally, since a VAT is essentially a tax on the profit at every step along manufacturing/distribution chain, it discourages profits. (Aren't profits what we need to grow the economy?)

That is the real problem with the VAT. It makes it easy for the government to collect massive amounts of tax revenue, as nobody knows exactly how much is paid in taxes. Additionally, a small increase in the tax rate goes largely unnoticed because every individual who pays the tax perceives only a small tax increase. While I can agree that America's current fiscal policies do need some drastic changes to reduce the deficit, those changes need to involve cuts to wasteful spending, not massive tax hikes or yet another tax that the average American can't understand. A VAT may be right for a European-style Socialist government, but it's not right for America, and even as the tax man comes to collect today, we need to send him away as he seeks this new tax.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bow Down to the One You Serve

Barack Obama's repeated bows to foreign heads of state are well documented among the blogosphere. (They have to be documented somewhere, since the mainstream media won't pay any attention to them.) The latest incident got me thinking...

While disturbing, these bows are merely symbolic gestures, meant to reassure these heads of state that America under Democrat leadership will be submissive to the "international community". (Perhaps this is Obama's idea of "repairing America's damaged image throughout the world", which would certainly explain why he has spent more time overseas than any prior President on his repeated World Apology Tours.)

How do I know they're only symbolic? If they were indeed meant to indicate a true submission to foreign authority, then Obama would have listened to China's warning to curb the explosion in spending that he and the Democrats in Congress continue to seek. How ironic: This is one time when I may not mind it if the bows were more than symbolic. Then I realize that would mean that we would be completely subject to a Communist regime. While that may not be too different from the direction we're heading, at least Hu Jintao will admit to being a Communist.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Repudiation: Defending America's Constitution

As I laid out in a prior post here, America's Constitution is under assault by the very people who have taken oaths to uphold and defend it. It is my belief that while the Constitution does an excellent job of defending our Liberties, it can not defend itself from assault from those within the three branches of government. Consequently, I believe that Americans need to be empowered with the legal means to defend our Constitution from assault by those we elect.

Fortunately, I am not alone in thinking this: John C. Calhoun, America's seventh Vice President, was of similar thought. Calhoun essentially believed that no matter how many enumerations of government powers or provisions to restrict government powers are present, if the people who benefit from those protection are not empowered with "the means of enforcing their observance", those protections will be, in themselves, insufficient to prevent the party in power from throwing off those restraints and disregarding them. (h/t to Thomas J DiLorenzo writing on (Much like the party currently in power has done, and, some would argue, the Republicans did when they were in control of Congress.)

In any case, finger-pointing aside, it's time that Americans, who enjoy the protection of the Constitution, be given the authority and means to protect it. How can we be so empowered? There are probably several ways, but I have one in-mind, and it's an adaptation of a concept that Calhoun advocated: nullification. The concept of nullification is essentially that if any state disagrees with a Federal law, that state can pass a law nullifying the Federal law. I do not believe that nullification is a sufficient means to defend the Constitution, as it could lead to the legal fabric of America looking like a patchwork quilt, where each state has a different set of Federal regulations which are recognized. No, I think we need to go farther: I believe that the States which comprise the United States need to be empowered as the final arbiter of the Constitutionality of Federal laws (with the ability to override even the Supreme Court).

I am proposing a means of repudiation of overreaching Federal laws. Here's how I envision it working:
  • Every state will have the right to choose the method of repudiation: either a ballot initiative in a general election, or the state legislature can pass a proclamation of repudiation
  • When Congress passes unpopular legislation, states that disapprove can pass a proclamation of repudiation of the specific legislation via one of the above methods.
  • When either 2/3 or 3/5 (or some other percentage to be agreed upon) of states have passed proclamations of repudiation, the Federal law, in its entirety is rendered void. (Note that a Constitutional amendment requires ratification by 3/4 of states. Thus, I think the appropriate percentage for repudiation should be some percentage less than 3/4, but greater than 1/2.)
  • Repudiation can only be used to enforce the tenth amendment. Powers that are specifically enumerated to the Federal government (treaties, declarations of war, etc.) cannot be voided by repudiation.
  • Repudiation has a sunset provision: The required number of states must pass the proclamation of repudiation within a specified time frame (like 5 years) of the passage of the offending legislation.
I know that this idea requires one thing that will likely make its adoption highly unlikely: This would require a Constitutional amendment. Even if a single law could provide for this framework, it would undoubtedly be challenged in the courts. While this does pose a challenge, it's not insurmountable. It can be done. Especially if Conservatives make an idea like this a central "plank" in a larger Conservative platform based on the idea that we will "Never Again" allow government to run amok trampling our liberties and passing bad bills. But we can only keep such a promise by providing a framework that will allow for the rejection of such bad bills in perpetuity.

I am proposing this as a starting point. I am sure there are ways that this idea can be improved, so let me know what you think, and any specific ideas for improvement. There are a few "requirements" that I had when I came up with the idea:
  • It must require action by the individual states (or the citizens thereof), not a "rubber-stamp" item that appears on every ballot that is eventually ignored.
  • It should be necessarily difficult. Getting an initiative on a ballot is necessarily difficult, as is getting a state legislature to act.
  • It should require action by a significant number of the states so as to be necessarily difficult. This also provides a means of demonstrating that laws that are so repudiated are unpopular across a large spectrum of the country.
  • The sunset provision makes it more likely that repudiation will be used for legislation that is obviously bad. This should not be used as another way to make controversial issues turn into long and drawn-out fights.
I am very interested in any comments you may have. I'd like this to be the beginning of discussing some common-sense ways we can wrest control of our government from those who would use its power to destroy the country I love!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Tonight, I'm excited, and not by the way I've typically been "excited" for most of the past week. My love of technology and my love of politics have met up in the discovery of an application for my Android smartphone: Visible Vote. Now before I lose you iPhone or Blackberry users (or people who don't care about the smarthpone revolution), let me point out that these guys have an iPhone app, a BlackBerry app, a Facebook application, and a Windows/Mac application. (Sorry Linux users, it doesn't appear to work with WINE without some tweaking.)

This application allows you to cast votes just as your Congressmen do, then compare your votes with theirs. The application aggregates the responses of the users who cast votes, and faxes weekly vote tallies to each Congressional office. On top of the other mad letter-writing, phone-line-melting down, and email blitz campaigns we often engage in, this is yet another way to let Congress know exactly how we feel. Plus, after your congressmen cast their vote for the same bill, it lets you know exactly how their votes match up with yours -- in other words, it makes it easy to follow and see exactly how they're doing (if you didn't know already). And in the current highly partisan political climate, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some people weren't surprised to see how well (or poorly) their Congressmen are doing.

On top of all of that, this gives another way to get more people educated, increase political awareness, and involved in the democratic process. I'd encourage all of you to check it out and pass it on, whether or not you're a geek like me!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Insufferable Idiots

I heard the following comment the other day:
"America can tolerate a one-term Obama presidency,
it's the idiots who elected him who worry me,
for they may elect another Democrat who's just as bad"

This post is thus dedicated to (and an illustration of) the idiots who voted for Obama. (These segments are actually more than a year old, but I wanted to archive them in perpetuity in my little corner of cyberspace. I hope you enjoy them!)

Idiot #1: He probably had to change his pants after this. (the pertinent segment is from about 0:38 through 0:45.)

Idiot #2: "I won't have to worry about putting gas in my char. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage." (The fun begins at 0:15.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

America's Constitution Under Assault

Our Constitution hangs by a thread, under the assault of those who have sworn to defend and uphold it. If those who have sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution will not, then who will? More importantly, who can? When our elected officials lay siege to our Constitution, there is little that the average run-of-the-mill American can do to stop them.

The framework established by the Constitution provides a system of checks and balances among the three co-equal branches of government to keep any one branch from becoming too powerful or running amok on our Liberties. But the Constitution defines the structure for these checks and balances within the government itself. In other words, the Constitution provides no legal means (aside from periodic elections) for the citizens of the United States to defend the Constitution by removing from office those who would commit no crime other than disregarding the Constitution. The exception is the 18 states (and District of Columbia) whose laws permit the recall of an elected official, but many of those require the official to have been caught in some misconduct or malfeasance. In general, once a Congressman is elected, they have a blank check for the duration of their term. (With this in-mind, you can kind of understand why some citizens think they must resort to threats of violence when their elected officials don't respond to phone calls, letters, and peaceful protests. But, I digress.)

In addition, the "Coattail Effect" can often lead to a situation wherein a de-facto alliance is developed between the Executive and Legislative branches of government that prevents these two branches from checking or balancing one another. We saw this in 2008: Barack Obama was a very popular Presidential candidate, and many people who now occupy the House and Senate owe their election to Barack Obama. Don't think that Obama is not acutely aware of this fact. And I absolutely believe this has already played a part in at least one legislative vote. When this alliance puts the Constitution in their crosshairs, the only means left to defend the Constitution are the threat of electoral defeat (slow) and the Judicial branch (also slow). When time is of the essence, as it is now, both are inadequate for the defense of the Constitution. Moreover, consider that Federal courts are filled with individuals who have been placed there by the Legislative-Executive alliance.

I submit that when the Constitution is under assault, as it is now, the Constitution does not provide adequate protection for itself. We must step in and defend it, as it has done (and continues to do) for our Liberties. I have some ideas on defending the Constitution, but for the sake of brevity, I will conclude this post for now, and continue the topic soon. If you have any ideas how we can legally defend our Constitution against our elected officials, I'd like to see whatever comments you may have.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Most Divisive Vote in History

On March 21, 2010, the United States House of Representatives has passed what I believe will be remembered as the most divisive vote in our country's history. We all know that I am referring to the vote to pass the Senate's version of Obamacare.

The disastrous effects of the passage of this bill are obvious: and their most disastrous effects will not be related specifically to health care. The real negative effect is that this vote will further divide this nation. With this vote out of the way, everyone is gearing up for the November elections. I can already hear the cries of "Repeal the Bill" from those opposed to this bill (myself included). Meanwhile, I'm sure the 46% of people who were in favor of the bill and those who think it didn't go far enough to strip us of our freedoms, drive up our taxes, or provide handouts for freeloaders will come up with some clever one-liner. The point is that the next election will be bitter and divisive (despite also likely being a decisive victory for the GOP). And, assuming the Republicans re-take the House of Representatives (a very likely outcome), their response to their new majority status will probably reflect the divisive nature of their victory. Immediately taking up a bill to repeal this disaster, only to face a Presidential veto will only widen the partisan and ideological divide.

Let us hope that Republicans can break this chain of events and run campaigns in 2010 that are based on more than just repealing this disaster, but on principles and ideas that can go deeper than this single issue, and unite us as Americans. Otherwise, I think our country is in grave danger, because

United we stand, divided we fall.

Who knows, maybe this is exactly what the progressives want, for we cannot throw off the yoke of tyranny as a people divided.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Never again!

On the eve of the "final vote" for ObamaCare in the House of Representatives, it is clear to many within the blogosphere that regardless of the outcome of this particular vote, November is going to be a bloodbath for Democrats seeking (re-)election and many Republicans are salivating at the prospect of re-gaining the majority on the Hill.

And then what? We can talk about repealing Obamacare (should it pass), and other variations on the theme of undoing the damage that the Obama administration and this Congress have wrought, but I think we should do more than undo the damage. I think we have a responsibility to set up a framework to prevent another such runaway Congress from violating the Constitution and the will of the people who empowered it. In fact, as we contemplate the strategies for electoral victory, I think a key plank in any election platform needs to be labeled "Never again!" in big, bold letters. As I look at this Congress, it's clear to me that most of them are out of control. They do not respect the Constitution, which they've sworn to defend. (The fact that they even contemplated the Slaughter Solution is all the evidence I need to offer.) And, given the overwhelming number of people who vehemently oppose this plan, it's also clear that they do not respect those who have lent them the power they now wield: their constituents.

As Conservatives prepare to take the reigns, I think they would be wise to put in place laws that will make it easier for the People to hold their elected officials accountable (and prevent a Congress from ever getting as out-of-control as this one is). (Note that to me, holding our Congressmen accountable does not mean giving them a blank check until the end of their elected term and summarily throwing them out. We need some laws with some real teeth that can allow us to stop our elected officials when we don't approve of what they're doing. If the system of checks and balances is insufficient to prevent the abuse of our Constitution, then the people need real power to defend the Constitution with more than treats of violence, protests, or casting a vote for "the other guy".) I don't know exactly what that might look like, hence the reason for this post. Together, perhaps we can come up with a set of reasonable laws that will allow the People to defend our Constitution when our elected officials threaten it. Here are some generic ideas I've had:
  • Grant constituents the ability to recall their elected officials at any time (after, say, the first 6 months of the term is served) with the collection of a number of signatures equal to some percentage of the votes cast in the prior election.
  • Grant constituents the ability to cast a vote of "disapproval" of a given Representative after they leave office. This vote may carry certain "side-effects", such as stripping the elected official of their federal pension (which is fully vested after only 5 years in office!).
  • Make it illegal for a Congressman to knowingly draft or vote for legislation or parliamentary tactics that are clearly unconstitutional. Due to Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution, the arrest could not take place until after Congress is no longer in session. It would be my hope that the threat of arrest and prosecution would prevent Congress from running roughshod over the Constitution.
I'm sure there are more (and better) ideas out there, and some of these are admittedly a bit extreme; but I think they have to be extreme to be a deterrent. If you have any other ideas, I'd be interested in hearing them! ...Or maybe you think I'm off my rocker and the threat of not re-electing an elected official is really all we need to hold Congress accountable. (Although, to me, it does not appear to be sufficient to stop Obamacare; but time will tell.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Online Tax Revolt: Will it Work?

I heard about the "Online Tax Revolt" through a little social networking birdie (twitter) today. It sounds like a good idea, but the cynic in me has to ask: Will an idea like this work?

I applaud the fact that this is another way for us to "send a message" to Congress and let them know that we've had enough. But haven't we sent them enough messages that they've ignored? Let's take a trip down memory lane and recap just a few of the loud and clear messages they've disregarded thus far:
  • The 9/12 march on Washington, DC. Some estimates put the attendance at said march at 1.5 or 2 million.
  • Rep. Michelle Bachmann leads a "house call" protest, where protesters literally visited the Congressional office buildings in Washington, DC.
And the really big one:
  • The recent election of Scott Brown in the People's Republic of Massachusetts. (To any readers in Massachusetts, let me say that all of America owes you a great debt!)
  • Not to mention earlier election upsets in New Jersey and Virginia.
Despite these clear messages, Congressional Democrats, led by President Obama, are still intent on shoving health care down our throats. It seems to me that they're not paying attention. And the GOP still seems uncertain about what political steps they can take to avoid facing the same electoral defeats delivered to the Democrats.

But, I digress. If Congress and Obama can ignore millions of protesters taking the time and effort to show up on their doorsteps or in their offices, what makes the people behind this website (with whom I agree) think that millions of people signing up for an online protest will do anything to get anybody's attention? Signing up to take part in such a protest takes virtually no time or effort. And I think it'll take Congress will take almost as much effort to ignore this message, too.

What do you think? Is there any chance this will get the attention of Congress? Will they pay attention to anything less than huge electoral defeats?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

What's the Deal with Multi-Touch?

I have long viewed this blog as more than just a political soapbox -- hoping for it to be more a platform for the discussion of a number of topics as varied as my interests. As such, I hope you'll entertain a slight deviation from my typical political banter -- and perhaps also help to answer a long-nagging question I've had: "What is the deal with multi-touch?"

I've always been an avid technology enthusiast, so the evolving mobile phone market has long held my interest. While the iPhone was a transformative device that has forever altered the way we think about interacting with our devices, it's never fascinated me. I've always preferred the idea of an open system that doesn't place artificial limitations on what I can do with it. (See, Liberty isn't just a political ideal!) As a result, I've always rooted for the "underdog" mobile phone platform: Google's Android.

Since Google announced an Over-the-air (OTA) update for the Nexus One, the current flagship Android device, everyone's been clamoring about the fact that the update enables multi-touch gesturing support in the core applications, (think Google Maps). The blogosphere has been abuzz about it since early last week. (Here's a smattering of the coverage: here and here.) Actually, people have been yapping about that since the beginning of the Android "revolution". Virtually every review of every Android device I've ever read has included a standard complaint that bemoans the lack of multi-touch. And every time I read one of these, I have to ask myself "What's the big deal?"

Granted, I've never used in iPhone or an iPod Touch. But, I just don't get what's so important about that single pinch gesture. Frankly, having watched a good number of slightly older individuals struggling to pinch their iPhones "just right", it looks cumbersome and odd. Plus, I like to be able to use my phone with one hand. Multi-touch invariably requires one hand to hold the phone and another to interact with it. We're not talking about a device that's large enough to be self-supporting or set on a tabletop so one can use it without holding it. We're talking about a (reasonably small) phone. Multi-touch seems a waste, and I'd prefer to see Google focus on innovating (i.e. coming up with other/easier ways of interacting with the phone) rather than imitating the has-been known as the iDon't.

I'm obviously in the minority here, or I'm missing something that's perhaps painfully obvious to others. If you have any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them. Thanks for letting me get on one of my soap-boxes.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Destroying Our Future. One Dream at a Time.

I think it's quite possible that pigs may have learned to fly. (And, I'm not referring to aircraft-assisted flight, or to the soaring level of pork under the current Democrat Congress/Administration.) I am referring to the fact that I have finally found an area in which I do not want to see spending cuts: Our space program.

According to Fox News, Obama's spending plan for the coming year freezes NASA's budget at it's current level. While I applaud the new-found spending restraint, this essentially puts the brakes on NASA's Constellation program, which oversees the agency's manned space flight efforts. And while holding the budget at current levels isn't a cut, it amounts to a beheading, as
"The program needs about $3 billion in additional funding annually for the next five years to keep the International Space Station supplied and to create a new generation of spacecraft, according to a commission the president appointed last year."
By failing to give the agency what it needs to continue the program, he's basically cutting the program in its entirety. (Unless, of course, NASA is able to cut enough costs elsewhere to continue the program.)

But is this really the right program to cut? Obama just gave a lacklustre State of the Union address in which he hailed our need to create jobs. But, how many jobs does the program provide? Moreover, these are high-paying jobs that require a high degree of education and specialization. That seems a bit of a hypocrisy, given the daily deluge of Public Service Announcements featuring Obama yapping about how we should "stay in school" to help keep America competitive. Some competition: By cutting this program, NASA will be forced to "outsource space flight to other governments -- such as the Russians." That sounds more like surrender than competition to me.

One may think the decision to cut the program to be simply a practical one: we have to cut somewhere, right? Well, not so fast. In cutting the program,
"...the White House will direct NASA to concentrate on earth science projects -- principally, researching and monitoring climate change..." (emphasis mine)
So now we see the real reason for the decision: Manned space flight doesn't help him advance his political agenda, but climate change does. So, we're trading the hopes and dreams of a nation that was once inspired to put a men on the moon in exchange for the futility of chasing a scientific hoax.