Monday, February 25, 2008

Don't Tell Me To Be Calm

Fair Warning: This will be a long one. Due to circumstances beyond my control, the subsequent installments of our discussion will be taking a slightly different direction than I had intended. So, we’re going to just jump right into it here and talk about what we conservatives have gotten ourselves into. However, I am also very encouraged. A good number of you are being proactive and seeking out the truth. The truth will set us free. Thank you for being independent and spreading the truth to others. I am less anxious about my generation because of you. I guess we have to accept that John McCain is going to be our Presidential nominee. I say this because every other viable candidate has dropped out and endorsed McCain for the sake of “unity.” Whether this is reaching out or goose-stepping, it doesn’t really matter. Now, let’s review what John McCain has done for the three branches of Conservatism. He has made this convenient for us in the three following pieces of legislation. I don’t need to comment on the fact that these are all titled McCain-“A Prominent Democrat”. As usual, sources will be listed at the end. McCain-Feingold: McCain-Feingold claims to bring campaign finance reform. It is reform, to be sure, but not for the benefit of American citizens. McCain-Feingold bans all broadcast political advocacy advertising that mentions candidates by name, beginning 60 days before an election. President Bush signed and the U.S. Supreme Court shockingly upheld McCain-Feingold. What McCain-Feingold did accomplish was opening the door for Congress to decide what is acceptable political speech. For the first time in American history, individual citizens cannot join with like-minded others as members of a variety of associations to buy a broadcast spot to criticize an incumbent congressman by name for 60 days prior to the November election. This law gives career politicians the power of government to silence their critics. It is the most effective incumbent protection act possible, short of abolishing the elections themselves. The most important reason to oppose McCain-Feingold is the way the 1st Amendment is written. "Congress shall make no law . . ." What is so hard to understand about that? McCain created a law that was in direct contradiction to the most fundamental of American rights: the right to communicate. This is stepping-stone legislation, guys. If they can control our speech about specific people and issues, they can expand that to other areas as well. See China, where a person is allowed to be a Christian – as long as he doesn’t tell anyone? This is a blow to social conservatives. McCain has already used this to his own benefit. I’ll let Rush explain: “Romney was up ten points in Florida until two things happened — until McCain started with this bulls**t about Romney being in favor of a timeline for withdrawal — he did that on a Saturday….This thing about McCain and Romney — I know it's politics. It's what it is, and I don't whine and complain about it. But I found it very interesting. It was a Saturday he made that claim. So it's three days before the election. And Romney, because of McCain-Feingold, his groups could not go out and run ads countering what McCain had said….So while McCain-Feingold prevented Romney, or Romney's groups, from responding to it [with] TV ads, McCain was free to mouth off. A little irony.” McCain-Kennedy: McCain and Kennedy created legislation that would give legal status--amnesty--to 10 million illegal aliens, and create a guest-worker program to admit even more foreign workers. In essence it is the same as the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act: amnesty up front for millions of illegal aliens, and promises to enforce immigration law. Such promises are quickly abandoned--but in 1986, people didn't know that yet. The result of the amnesty was completely predictable: a profusion of fraudulent documentation, a doubling of the illegal population (to more than 10 million), and the normalization of illegal immigration, something that had been widely considered unacceptable only a few years before. Supporters of the McCain-Kennedy proposal deny that it's an amnesty, pointing to the fact that illegals must pay a modest fine before they are legalized. But since the goal of an illegal immigrant is to enter and stay in the United States, anything that legalizes his presence is a reward; the fine is just a retroactive smuggling fee paid to the U.S. government. This does not help our national security. It is, in effect, an amnesty--which undercuts the rule of law by rewarding those who have acted wrongly and will only encourage further illegal entry. Effective internal enforcement must deter further illegal entry. Any effective deterrent must require individuals to leave and apply for admission without prejudice or advantage. This is an attack on foreign-policy conservatives. Thankfully, McCain-Kennedy failed to be ratified. However, this is still an important “front line” position McCain took and we should all take note. McCain-Lieberman: McCain-Lieberman is a bill dealing with global warming and carbon emissions in the US. I won’t spend any time here debating the science behind the global warming argument. That’s for another time. But the problem with McCain-Lieberman is not the faulty science. The problem is how it affects business. According to the study, McCain-Lieberman 2004: --will cost the average U.S. household at least $600 per year by 2010, rising to at least $1,000 per year by 2020; --will cost the U.S. economy at least 39,000 jobs in 2010, and at least 190,000 jobs by 2020; --will force at least a 13 percent rise in electricity prices by 2010, and at least a 19 percent rise in electricity prices by 2020; and --will force at least a 9 percent rise in gasoline prices by 2010, and at least a 14 percent rise in gasoline prices by 2020. Also, McCain-Leiberman: --would cost the average U.S. household at least $1,300 per year by 2010, rising to at least $2,300 per year by 2020; --would cost the U.S. economy at least 250,000 jobs in 2010, and at least 610,000 jobs by 2020; --would force at least a 31 percent rise in electricity prices by 2010, and at least a 43 percent rise in electricity prices by 2020; and --would force at least a 23 percent rise in gasoline prices by 2010, and at least a 37 percent rise in gasoline prices by 2020. The new Charles River study is especially informative for state legislators because it breaks down costs on a state-by-state basis reflecting local economic factors. For example, the study reports Illinoisans would suffer even more under McCain-Lieberman 2004 than the national average. McCain-Lieberman 2004 would cost the average Illinois household at least $700 per year by 2010 and at least $1,100 per year by 2020. Similarly, the New England governors' plan would disproportionately affect Illinoisans by forcing at least a $1,400 decline in average household income by 2010, and at least a $2,400 decline in average household income by 2020. Oh, and in interesting news, a revamped 2007 version of this bill not only was sponsored by McCain-Leiberman, but our good friend Sen. Obama put his name behind it as well. As we can see, in the interest of carbon emissions, McCain decided to make war on consumers, industry, and state and government income alike. This is against the interests of fiscal conservatives. As a result, on the litmus test issues of our time, only partially excluding Iraq, McCain is a liberal. -- He excoriated pro-life judicial nominee Samuel Alito as too "conservative." -- He promoted amnesty for 20 million illegal immigrants. -- He abridged citizens' free speech (in favor of the media) with McCain-Feingold. -- He hysterically opposes waterboarding terrorists and wants to shut down Guantanamo. -- He denounced the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. -- He opposes ANWR and supports the global warming cult, even posturing with fellow mountebank Arnold Schwarzenegger in front of solar panels. -- He voted in favor of using taxpayer funds to harvest stem cells from human embryos and opposes a constitutional amendment to protect human life. So, what say you? What is your thought process on this? Are we to vote for a man who seems to be fighting against us at every turn, for the sake of unity and having an ‘R’ president instead of a ‘D’ president for the next four years? Or should we simply vote against the opposing candidate? Do we vote for someone who actually admits they’re a Democrat rather than put a man in office who would hurt the party’s image? Or, as some already say they are going to, should we just not vote at all? I understand people who are of that opinion. I certainly would like to vote for someone rather than just against someone. At this point, I don’t know what I’ll do. And there are still, what, 9 months until the election? Anything can happen before then. So I don’t know. I don’t have a conclusion for this one.,8599,1713041-2,00.html

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Primary Concern

Sometimes, you just gotta wonder. As you may have guessed, I’m less than ecstatic with the primary results for our state. And I feel a fireside chat is in order. This will come in a series of parts. Two or three, we’ll see how it goes. I’m not going to tag anyone or address anyone specifically. I don’t want any person to feel singled out. This isn’t written with any person or specific people in mind. Let’s just quash that imminent rumor right now. First, I’m going to operate on the assumption that I am having this discussion with a person or people of largely conservative leanings. (Otherwise, I don’t really know why you’d be reading this, unless I’m just that fabulous of a communicator and I have a groupie. If that’s you, let me know. I’ll dedicate something to you sometime.) Second, I’m going to ask that if you have not read my posting titled “On Civil Obedience,” that you please do so before continuing. I know it’s lengthy, but it will help explain the context within which I am writing and the general audience to whom this is addressed. Third, I’m going to patently ignore the lobotomized masses who voted for McCain on the basis of “electability,” and assume that any real conservative would only cast a vote for the Ted Kennedy’s best friend because they have swallowed the grape juice on that “electability” lie, one of McCain’s many. If you’re that wishy-washy, you’re more afraid of Hilary than you are a person of conviction and you deserve the Big Mac as your representative in office. Now, I want to talk to you conservative Christians. Let me ask you a question: Why are you a conservative? After all, I know people who say they are Christian and liberal. And you guys didn’t vote for Hilary or Obama. So, we have to conclude that there is some reason that you have personally made the choice to be a conservative. For most church-goers I know, it is largely an issue of social conservatism. They oppose abortion, oppose gay marriage, oppose legalizing illegal substances like marijuana, etc. After all, God knits us in the womb, established marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, and condemned using intoxicating substances. So, this may be why you are a conservative. Maybe it is because you are more of a foreign policy conservative. Who doesn’t like safety, right? And so securing the borders, making illegal immigrants go home, keeping America what it is and not some blended member of a North American Union with blurry lines on the map, all of that is important to you. Also, you may see the merit in continuing to stabilize the Iraqi infrastructure, continuing to fight the war on terror, and continuing to actively support Israel. You are patriotic, perhaps have a veteran or serviceman in your family. Maybe that’s why you’re a conservative. Or, you could be a fiscal conservative. Having gone to a job and earned your paycheck, you believe you have the right to keep as much of it as possible and dictate how the rest is spent by elected or appointed officials. You see the federal government as a tool created to serve its people and be controlled by its people, not the other way around. You want to keep the government off your back, out of your bank account and away from your thermostat. You see America as a land of opportunity and want to continue its economic prosperity by creating reasonable spending and budgeting practices for our government. I ask you, now, to think about why you are a conservative. Maybe you aren’t as obsessive as me and won’t draw a list like that delineating where you fall on each and every point. Actually, that might not be a bad idea. Are you a social conservative, a foreign policy conservative, a fiscal conservative, or all three? Think about that, let me know where you end up, and my next post will carry the discussion from there. Please, be honest. You’re not going to hurt my feelings. I think we’re all mature enough to be able to tackle an adult discussion without getting huffy. After all, we’re not John McCain. … Oh, and I guess I should answer my own question. I’m all three.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Don't Like Mike

The thorn in my side this election is Mike Huckabee. I tiptoed around it for a long time and tried to play nice and assumed the truth will out. Well, it’s not outing fast enough. We have a primary in less than a month, folks. And too many Christians have been deceived. So here is a list. No commentary (or very little), no personal attacks, merely a statement of facts. Mike Huckabee is a Southern Baptist ordained minister who is not afraid to say on CNN that that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and that killing babies is wrong. For that, I applaud him. And now for everything else that Huck has done (sources listed at the end). In the 1992 contest with Bumpers, Huckabee used campaign funds to pay himself as his own media consultant. Other payments went to the family babysitter. In his successful 1994 run for lieutenant governor, he set up a nonprofit curtain known as Action America so he could give speeches for money without having to disclose the names of his benefactors. He failed to report that campaign travel payments were for the use of his own personal plane. After he became governor in 1996, he raked in tens of thousands of dollars in gifts, including gifts from people he later appointed to prestigious state commissions. He converted a governor's mansion operating account into a personal expense account, claiming public money for a doghouse, dry-cleaning bills, panty hose and meals at Taco Bell. He tried to claim $70,000 in furnishings provided by a wealthy cotton grower for the private part of the residence as his own, until he learned ethics rules prevented it. Arkansas' Ethics Commission has admonished Huckabee for violations five times in 14 years, once for taking money from an organization whose donors have never been listed. (By the way, some local candidates might take some wisdom away from this lesson – political donations are matters of public record, and it’s an ethical violation to try and hide that from even one person, not just in Arkansas but in Oklahoma as well. This is the small bit of commentary I mentioned. Moving on….) The state Ethics Commission has investigated 14 complaints against Huckabee and validated five. Two pertain to unreported gifts - a $500 canoe and a $200 stadium blanket - and three to cash the governor or his wife received but did not initially report: • $43,150 from his 1994 lieutenant governor's campaign for use of his personal airplane, • $14,000 Janet Huckabee received from his 1992 U.S. Senate campaign, and • $23,500 from a tax-exempt organization he incorporated with others in 1994, but whose funding source isn't known. The Action America organization, Huckabee said, was set up to coordinate parts of his private-sector speaking schedule during his three years as lieutenant governor. Huckabee appealed the stadium blanket sanction and a judge threw out the $250 fine. Immediately upon taking office, Governor Huckabee signed a sales tax hike in 1996 to fund the Games and Fishing Commission and the Department of Parks and Tourism (Cato Policy Analysis No. 315, 09/03/98). He supported an internet sales tax in 2001 (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07). He publicly opposed the repeal of a sales tax on groceries and medicine in 2002 (Arkansas News Bureau 08/30/02). He signed bills raising taxes on gasoline (1999), cigarettes (2003) (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07), and a $5.25 per day bed-tax on private nursing home patients in 2001 (Arkansas New Bureau 03/01/01). He proposed another sales take hike in 2002 to fund education improvements (Arkansas News Bureau 12/05/02). He opposed a congressional measure to ban internet taxes in 2003 (Arkansas News Bureau 11/21/03). In 2004, he allowed a 17% sales tax increase to become law (The Gurdon Times 03/02/04). Huckabee backed and signed into law a 2001 bill requiring a “quality assurance fee,” which was a $5.25 fee per bed, per day for nursing homes designed to increase funding for the state Medicaid program. Arkansas media outlets and state legislators dubbed it the “bed tax,” and in fact, Huckabee himself has called it that on at least one occasion. By the end of his ten-year tenure, Governor Huckabee was responsible for a 37% higher sales tax in Arkansas, 16% higher motor fuel taxes, and 103% higher cigarette taxes according to Americans for Tax Reform (01/07/07), garnering a lifetime grade of D from the free-market Cato Institute. On January 28, 2007, Governor Huckabee refused to pledge not to raise taxes if elected President, first on Meet the Press and then at the National Review Conservative Summit. Under Governor Huckabee's watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3% from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07). The number of state government workers rose 20% during his tenure (Arkansas Leader 04/15/06), and the state's general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion, according to Americans for Tax Reform. Huckabee also presided over 21 tax increases…[which] totaled much more than $378 million. According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, the "net tax increase under Huckabee's tenure was an estimated $505.1 million," adjusted for inflation. He was kind to immigrants and favored state help for college-going children of illegal immigrants. He once even briefly departed from Republican dogma to suggest to a newspaper in libertarian New Hampshire that, while he opposed gay marriage, he was open to civil unions. [T]he comment is on tape. After a GOP state senator put forth legislation to ban state services for illegal immigrants, the governor said the senator drank a different "Jesus juice" than him. He professed opposition to alcohol and gambling, but he allowed passage of legislation that made it easier for restaurants to obtain private-club mixed-drink permits in dry counties. Over the angry objection of the church lobby, he sped final action on a bill to allow video poker at the state's racetracks, an act followed not long afterward by a $10,000 campaign contribution from the owner of the state's biggest race track, at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. Though Huckabee doesn't support embryonic stem cell research, he took a hefty honorarium and bulk book sales this year from a diabetes drug maker, Novo Nordisk, which performs embryonic stem cell research. He left Arkansas with a bill of more than $40 million for overcharges of the federal government's Medicaid program. In "Character Is the Issue," published in 1997, he complained bitterly about how some congregants of the Baptist church he left in Texarkana to seek public office didn't want to continue paying his health insurance. Funny, no employer of mine ever kept paying me after I quit work. (Again, small bit of commentary, but this isn’t mine. It’s part of the quote. I left it in because it made me smile.) More disturbing is Governor Huckabee's support for the 2003 Republican-initiated Medicare prescription drug plan, a huge unfunded liability shouldered by taxpayers across America ( 02/28/06). Governor Huckabee has consistently supported and initiated measures that increase government's interference in markets, thereby impeding economic growth. He told the Washington Times he supports "empowering people to make their own decisions," but many of his key proposals have done just the opposite (Washington Times 03/01/05). These measures include: o Raised the minimum wage in April 2006 from $5.15 to $6.25 an hour and encouraged Congress to take the same initiative on a national level (US Newswire 08/03/06), a proposal that President Bush and most congressional GOP members oppose. o Sought to take revenue from his tax hike proposal to be used on economic development projects in 2002 (AP, 11/22/02). o Threatened to investigate price-gouging after 9/11 if gasoline prices went up too high (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 09/12/01). o Ordered regulatory agencies in Arkansas to investigate price-gouging in the nursing home industry (AP, 06/15/01). o Signed a bill into law that would prevent companies from raising their prices a mere 10% ahead of a natural disaster. Services like roof repair and tree removal were targeted (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 03/07/97). Governor Huckabee's record on school choice is mixed. On the one hand, he fought hard to protect the rights of parents to home school their children and was a vocal proponent of charter schools (Arkansas Time 09/22/05). In 1997, he supported a proposal that would expand charter school eligibility to include public and private universities, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations (AP 02/12/97). He signed legislation in 1999 that allowed for as many as 12 charter schools to be established in Arkansas, an important achievement given the state's onerous laws governing charter schools (Time 07/10/00). On the other hand, Governor Huckabee is on record opposing the most important element of genuine school choice-voucher programs that allow poor students in failing public schools to attend private schools and inject much needed competition into a decrepit public education system-because of a concern about government control of parochial schools (Arkansas Times 09/22/05). He also called No Child Left Behind "the greatest education reform effort by the federal government in my lifetime," (Washington Times 03/01/05) a program that stripped schools of local control and increased federal spending on education by 48% over three years ( 11/09/06). Huckabee's ad says he was "tough on crime" and "brought Arkansas' crime rates down." But that's not quite right. While the overall crime rate did decline by 3.9 percent, that was due entirely to a 5.0 percent reduction in property crimes, such as burglaries and auto theft. When it comes to violent crimes, a category that includes murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, Huckabee's record is mixed: Murders and robberies declined, while rapes and aggravated assaults increased. Overall, the violent crime rate was actually 5.2 percent higher than in 1996, when he took office more than midway through the year on July 15. Key Consevative leaders do not support Huckabee. Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once "his No. 1 fan." She was bitterly disappointed with his record. "He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal," she says. "Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don't be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office." Phyllis Schlafly (my hero, my icon and my role model), president of the national Eagle Forum, is even more blunt. "He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles," she says. "Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a 'compassionate conservative' are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee." I won’t repost Ann Coulter’s comments of Huck here, though there is no factual argument against them, and you would do well to go to her website and look them up in the archives. Rush Limbaugh, the leading voice of American Conservatives, has been famously critical of Huckabee: “What we have going on here is identity politics, I think, in a large swath of support for Governor Huckabee. Identity politics is what the left does. Do you know what I mean when I say "identity politics,"?...Identity politics is: You vote for the Christian. You vote for the black. You vote for the woman. This is traditionally how the left looks at people. Of course, one of the things that makes me convinced I'm right about this is that Governor Huckabee is doing what he can to avoid discussing his record and his policy beliefs and is, in fact, relying on his identity to keep people on his side, in his camp, and perhaps even grow it. In one way, you'd have to say it's pretty smart because on the other side his opponents, you've got admitted conservative flaws -- admitted conservative flaws which do trouble the Christian right, which is a large part of the Republican base. Either support for abortion or gay marriage, things that would be disruptive to the culture, and many people are very, very concerned about the culture. So with Huckabee, the identity is, Christian. That means hundred percent thoroughbred on social issues, the cultural issues. Yet you dig deep, and you find the policy on immigration. If you look at Huckabee in an identity sense and yet at the same time you really think illegal immigration is destroying this country, then your identity association with Huckabee as a Christian likely will make you overlook the fact that he's opposite your belief on illegal immigration. Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist and he ran on that and he tried to capitalize on that. He ran on the religious identity, too.” This is a summary, yes, even a “drive-by” case summary of Mike Huckabee’s record. He says lots of great things. I saw his interview with Glenn Beck and was deeply moved. He almost made second place on my list. And then I started investigating. I don’t care if Mike Huckabee is a pastor, a Republican, a Christian. The fact of the matter is, he’s not honest, he’s not consistent, and he’s not a Conservative. This may sound abrasive, but I’m scared, guys. Remember, we are to be wise as serpents. We are not being wise. You know my position on Christian involvement in government. To say it is aggressive would be an understatement. However, voting for someone just because he says he is a Christian is not a good reason. Voting for someone just because he is a “nice guy” (and I think Huck is) is not a good reason. We need a powerhouse conservative leader on the Republican ticket, because it looks more and more like a Clinton-Obama opposition. (You just watch, after the primaries they will be best buddies with no memory of the last three months of “uncivil war” as calls it.) Oh, and you know what else Rush said? “I'm here to tell you, if either [McCain or Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party, it's going to change it forever, be the end of it….You watch.”;;;;;;;