Sunday, September 30, 2012

Politicking: Part Three

Something else I want to take a look at is the level of division between Americans today. When President Obama took office, he said he would unite us. I remember fondly when he said in his election night victory speech, “It's [democracy] the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.” This was a powerful statement, revealing what I thought would be a show of unity and an olive branch between the president-elect and those who did not favor him. I thought, along with most other Americans, that this would be a president who would unite us like never before. Four years later, I can sadly say that that hasn’t been the case.
President Obama has been one of the most divisive presidents we have ever had. Not only has he refused to work with Republicans (which sparked them to refuse to work with him), but he has even refused to work in cooperation with members of his own party. He has pitted the poor against the rich, blaming the rich for all of their life’s woes (reminding me of the Bob Rumson character in the movie The American President), and initiating a full scale class warfare the likes of which we haven’t seen in over a century. Mitt Romney’s taxes have recently come into question just to play into this narrative, the President and others pointing to Romney’s taxes to try and say he is rich and therefore the problem with America. To begin with, Mitt Romney paid what he was required to pay or more in taxes, which is what the majority of Americans do. He’s no different in this regard. Now, some have had a problem that he’s paid so little in taxes, but they forget that Romney has not had a real job since he was governor of Massachusetts. What he has paid taxes on is his income made through investments, which this country generally has always taxed less for than regular income, and still more so than most other countries. This comparison to what he paid and what most other Americans have paid is a false comparison. You’re comparing two separate kinds of income. If I made $30,000 dollars teaching this last year, for instance, and made an additional $2,000 from investments, I would pay a higher tax for that $30,000 than I would that $2,000. Not because of the different values, but because of the differences in how they were made. Mitt Romney didn’t have that $30,000 dollar comparison, because he didn’t work. If he had worked, he’d have paid much more in taxes than he did, and that would probably been more than most Americans. So, if people have a problem that he paid less on his investments than they did on their regular incomes, they must realize that to remedy that, they would have to receive a tax increase themselves for all of their investments, matching their investment tax rate to that of their regular income tax rate. This is a ludicrous idea considering we do pay more in taxes in this regard than most other countries, and that having it even as high as we do, has been proven to prevent some foreign investments here in this country already. To lower that rate would actually spur new economic growth in this country through investments. So, what the President is arguing against Mitt Romney’s taxes is foolish and demonstrates that he either doesn’t fully understand how the economy works, or he is betting that the American people don’t in order to sway their vote.
We have also been told to look at Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. By all accounts, Bain Capital is just as much a capitalist company as any other in this country. If you can find a major company who acts differently, I’d love to know, because I have yet to find one. Now, this is a company that specializes in investments, for itself and other companies as well. In that process, they have bought or invested in many failing companies over the years. Some of these companies, like Staples, Dunkin Donuts, and the Sports Authority, Bain Capital was able to invest in and save, or turn around. Others, however, were not so lucky. Some companies were forced to close their doors after Bain bought them. Some have argued that this was done purely for a profit. Perhaps it was. But I would remind people, this is capitalism. It happens that way. In a capitalist economy, not everyone is always going to keep their job. In a capitalist economy, each company is going to try all they can to make as much money as they can. Sometimes this may even come at the expense of others. I’m not saying I like when that happens. But it is an inevitable part of capitalism, one which cannot be remedied, lest we no longer have a capitalist economy. And we’ve already seen the total collapses of enough other forms of economies around the world that I surely, for one, do not wish to abandon capitalism just yet.
When President Obama demonizes Bain Capital and Mitt Romney because they acted as capitalists (successfully at that) to make as much money as they could for their company, a concept which most all other companies in this country have embraced since our very beginnings (one that we used to celebrate rather than denounce), it makes me wonder why. Why has this president influenced his supporters to condemn capitalism? I think there is a very simple answer for that: either President Barack Obama does not like capitalism, and truly is a socialist or communist at heart, or else he’s only doing it to garner support for himself, playing off of the hardships of others. Either way is bad, and harmful to our country.
We can look at the Occupy Wall Street protests as well. This was a group supported by President Obama and other high ranking Democrats, whose main objective has been to essentially demand from the rich their “fair share”. On the surface, one would think this was a noble effort. However, it has served more to create an even further distance between those who would support capitalism and those who would see us fully change to a socialist/communist society, first and foremost, pitting the poor against the rich. When we demand something for nothing, or even demand no riches for anyone, we destroy the very fabric that has held our society together for ages. We encourage individual prosperity for no one, and begin down that very path of destruction that so many in Europe and elsewhere around the world have experienced time and again. It is not a path I would want to go down.
But there is something to be said for the way this president has consistently worked to apply a one-size-fits-all policy of economics, education, and healthcare in this country. He has consistently worked to take power away from the states, particularly when it comes to education and healthcare, so that what used to be under state control, for each state to work at their own local levels to try new ideas in competition with the other states, simply no longer is allowed. With Barack Obama, there will be one healthcare for all, one education for all (which continues to woefully fail our children, and it is far from being the singular fault of teachers—it’s the inadequate standards, first and foremost) [I want to also express that our First Lady’s school lunch policies have created a one-size-fits-all lunch program, wherein many kids who only get one meal each day (from school) are now starving and begging for more food], and one economy for all, dictated only from the highest level of government. This is not what our founders had in mind when they created our Republican system of governance, with both state and federal branches of government having their defined roles of authority. One-size-fits-all has never worked, and particularly in a nation as diverse and as large as ours continues to be. One-size-fits-all, I would argue does indeed place a burden upon all those who would seek the freedom to live in different ways.
We must also look at the way this President has pitted Republicans and conservatives against Democrats and liberals. In this election, President Obama would have us believe that Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are anti women, anti middle class, anti immigrant, and anti all forms of government assistance. This is far from the truth! Republicans have fought for the advancement of women from Sandra Day O’Connor, America’s first female Supreme Court Justice, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, to Condaleeza Rice, America’s first female National Security Advisor (and only second female Secretary of State) appointed by Republican President George W. Bush. If this party in the past has fought against women at all, it has been predominantly concerning the allowance of women to fight in the military. It was not for fear that they couldn’t handle their assignments, but because men know the wages of war, and have wanted to prevent women from experiencing all those horrors experienced by men in wars past. Perhaps Republicans have kept in place a sense of chivalry that is no longer wanted, but if they have fought to exclude women from anything, it has been mostly for this reason.
Some would argue that our Pro-Life stance, concerning abortion, is also an affront to women. I would disagree. It is not so much an affront to women as it is a defense of those who cannot defend themselves. Whether one agrees with abortion or not, you must realize that Republicans are not against abortion to punish women. We are against abortion because we believe when the constitution guarantees the right to life, this is meant not just for those that are born, but for all innocents living from conception on. I know several in America and around the world would argue that life does not begin at conception, but the way I see it is that if almost all scientists around the world can call a piece of fungus growing on the side of a tree something living, then surely we can all call a human being living from the point of conception, when we are in our very first stages of development.
A most absurd view of Republicans being against women has come in the suggestion that we are out to ban contraceptives. That is not true. It is a lie if there ever was one. Republicans are not in favor of banning contraceptives. We are, however, against the provision of Obamacare that would provide contraceptives to people free of change, at tax payer expense. Republicans have always tried to adhere to principles of personal responsibility. This is certainly an area in which people can be responsible for themselves. No one should ever have to pay for someone else to have a good time, as such. Not unless you’re a parent buying condoms or birth control for your own child/children. But no one is trying to prevent women, or anyone else, from being able to purchase whatever contraceptives they see fit to purchase. We just don’t believe others should be forced to fit the bill for what you can easily take responsibility for yourself.
Immigration is another area I want to address, because there has been this false belief for years now that Republicans are anti-immigrant. I tell you now that this is a lie. Republicans are not anti-immigrant. We are, however, anti-illegal immigrant. I’ve heard some say that we should just allow anyone to come here who wants to, but there are many flaws to this train of thought. Population control is always something that should be taken seriously. At this time, we can sustain the 300 million or so living here in the United States to a relatively good degree. But if that number suddenly jumped to 400 million in less than a couple of years, for instance, we may see severe economic hardship for people all across the country. Demand for products may far exceed supply, causing prices to sky rocket, thereby crippling the economy. It is a very real concern, and one that has dictated our limits to the number of people we allow to come to this country each year. I would agree with many, including Governor Romney, that we can allow far more than we have though. We must also deal compassionately with those who have come to this country only looking for a better future, and especially with those who were either born in this country to illegal immigrants or who were brought to this country from a very young age. This is why we need immigration reform. I was amazed a few days ago to hear President Obama say that the greatest mistake of his presidency was that he hadn’t been able to achieve immigration reform, and to then blame this on Republicans. The Republican Party has called for immigration reform for years now. President Bush even fought for it, but it failed to pass in Congress. There have been members on both sides of the aisle working for immigration reform. It is one of those issues that the President should have bipartisan support for. However, he has not chosen to work with members of Congress to create any such reform. Again, he attempts to pit immigrants against Republicans though.
On one more topic concerning immigration, Republicans have been questioned for their lack of compassion. I would argue against this to the death, because I know nothing could be further from the truth. Democrats seem to think it should be okay for immigrants to come here illegally. The problem with this is that by doing so, they die in record numbers in that endeavor, they are forced to hide in the shadows of our society, and they are often exploited by businesses and others who would use them in drug trafficking and in the sex slave industry. That, to me, is far less than compassionate. Republicans, on the other hand, are against illegal immigration because we know it is not what is best for the immigrant who comes here. We would prefer they come here legally, safely, to benefit fully from the American way of life, and better able to avoid exploitation. And yet we are considered the party less caring?
We can also consider Harry Reid’s most recent assertion that Mitt Romney has “sullied the Mormon faith”. As with the tax issue, this is nothing more than our Senate Majority Leader trying to distract Americans from the real issues in this campaign, as well as to drive a wedge between Mitt Romney and those of various faiths. Harry Reid presumes, incorrectly, that a large number of Christian conservatives will be turned off by Romney’s Mormon faith and so if he reminds people of it, it will drive a wedge. Again, this is all in an effort to divide and conquer. At least in this regard, I do not believe it will succeed. Harry Reid incorrectly assumes that Christians are far more intolerant of other religions than we are and, unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney has never attempted to impose upon those of religious faith. We understand this.
Race has also been inserted into our politics by President Obama and his supporters. Vice President Biden recently made a comment that if Republicans took back the White House, we would put blacks back in chains (a nice way of saying we’d reinstate slavery). I would say President Obama’s failed economic policies have already placed blacks in economic chains, but that’s just my opinion. The fact that African American unemployment has far exceeded that of whites during President Obama’s presidency is a pretty good indication of this. But Republicans do not in any way, shape, or form wish to put African Americans back in slavery, or to even unfairly put upon them, or take away from them.
In all these ways President Obama and his party have attempted to drive us apart. His is truly not a nation, as I hoped he meant, made up of young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled, and not disabled, uniting together as one people, but a nation in which he obviously believes works best when we are fractured and divided. I, along with most Americans, would disagree. For as Kentucky knows best as its motto: united we stand, divided we fall. I am not yet ready to see our nation fall because Barack Obama has decided it’s best to divide us purely so that he can obtain a few extra votes come election time. I stand with Mitt Romney who would work far greater to bring us together in our most principled basic goals—that of building our economy and standing strong for our values and freedoms.
As I watched the Democratic Convention this year, I kept looking at the overall themes being presented. Those themes were that big government is better government, Republicans are anti everything and borderline evil, and that the Democrats will actually give you everything you want. Thinking on those themes, I was reminded of two quotes. The first is by a Democrat President, John F. Kennedy, who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” The second is by a Republican President, Gerald R. Ford, who said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away from you everything you have.” I thought about those two quotes and about what was being presented at the DNC and the following came to mind. I don’t want all that I have to come only from the government. And I don’t want a government so large that on a whim or by default, can take away from me all that I have. I want a government that encourages individual growth and prosperity, not a government that promotes failure and dependency.
Under Barack Obama, our nation has become more dependent upon government, our government has expanded to become much larger than it ever should be, our economy hasn’t improved, we’ve become further in debt, and our foreign policy has become an outright disaster. This is not the direction I want our country to continue on the next four years.
I’ll be the first to agree that President Obama has done some good. I think that signing legislation that guaranteed equal pay for women was very important. It was something that should have been done years ago, and it was something my party should have supported overwhelmingly. I also support President Obama helping to end discrimination of gays and lesbians being allowed to serve in the military. Discrimination should be fought wherever it raises its ugly face. But it just hasn’t been enough.
In my opinion, it’s time for a real change, and for real hope. Not mere words, but honest action, and honest results. I’m ready for a President who will seek to honestly unite us, who will improve our economy, and who will fight for our values and our freedoms at any cost. And that is why I am a Republican, supporting Mitt Romney in this election. I’m ready for a change.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Politicking: Part Two

The next thing I want to discuss is foreign policy.
In the last four years, President Obama has got us out of Iraq, is drawing us out of Afghanistan, gave the order to kill Osama Bin Laden, gone after al-Qaeda much more thoroughly, and kept us from getting involved in other wars. On the surface, these look like positive foreign policy achievements. I would argue that, for the most part, they are not.
To begin with, President Obama ended the war in Iraq too soon, leaving no US presence in that country, and without the Iraqi government and military fully prepared to take over from us. This has allowed Iran to gain a great deal of influence in that country, more than it ever should have been allowed.
Secondly, the drawdown in Afghanistan is foolish at best. Since President Obama took office, the Taliban has had a resurgence in that country, attacking and influencing others to join their cause in the process. That country is nowhere near ready for us to leave. And if we do leave by 2014, in the same manner we left Iraq, that country will most likely quickly fall back into the hands of the Taliban. Let us not forget that al-Qaeda has had a larger presence there in recent years as well.
Thirdly, the decision to kill Osama Bin Laden, while celebrated by many in this country and others, may prove to have been a wrong decision in the end. Here’s why. With Osama Bin Laden alive, we could box him in and prevent his influence from having any sort of positive outcome for al-Qaeda. Killed, however, Bin Laden becomes a martyr for the cause, inciting retaliation by al-Qaeda and promoting recruitment to their cause. I’m not convinced that President Obama’s assessment of Bin Laden’s killing is the right one. President Obama would have us believe that al-Qaeda has been weakened by the death of Bin Laden and that they are not the threat they once were. With recent events in Libya and attacks in Afghanistan and other nations, I find President Obama’s assessment hard to believe. I’m much more inclined to believe that we have made a martyr out of Bin Laden, which is something Bin Laden wanted, and that that may prove to have been foolhardy of us in the end.
Fourthly, when it comes to keeping us out of additional wars, I will give President Obama a gold star. He has kept us out of additional wars, and I’m sure most Americans are thankful for that. However… was this for our best, or for the best of others around the world? I’m not convinced that it was.
When we look at the events of the Arab Spring, the people in many of those Arab countries wanted us to stand with them. For years we told them that if they stood up, we would give them aid. But we didn’t really do that. We aided them diplomatically, but only once it was clear they would win and actually overturn their dictatorial regimes. We waited. When it comes to military support, we did virtually nothing. We allowed other nations, like France, Germany, and the UK, to take the lead. We didn’t fight for them. Because we took a back seat, we allowed the events of the world to shape us, rather than actually shape the world by our involvement. Our lack of leadership slowed the democratic process from taking place, allowed those less supportive of democracy to gain power and influence, and allowed those dictatorial regimes to remain in place far longer than they should have. We looked weak by our inaction.
We can also look at Iran. Under President Obama’s watch, Iran has gained nuclear capabilities. This was something that Presidents in the past have fought and prevented, but President Obama was not able to prevent. Since gaining nuclear capabilities, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel with an atomic bomb, and has continued to advance Iran in that goal, testing missiles and the like. This has justifiably terrified the Israelis and caused them to want to take a tougher stance against Iran. What we’ve seen in reaction by President Obama is to push for UN sanctions against Iran, which have been unsuccessful at best, and to put our alliance with Israel in question by refusing to meet with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, calling Israel only “one of our allies” in the middle east, rather than “our greatest ally”, which they are, refusing to draw any red lines or give Iran any ultimatums in order to prevent their achieving a nuclear weapon, openly talking down our relationship with Israel in conversations with other world leaders, and refusing to call Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Now, this is just my opinion, but if we were ever on a course that could lead to a third world war, this is it. If Israel decides we don’t have their back, and decides to strike against Iran, we could see a war spread all across the globe in response. If Iran strikes Israel, we could likewise see a war spread out all across the globe. I say this because each country, Israel and Iran, have their dedicated allies. If these two countries go to war, all of their allies will inevitably go to war as well, and this would include the US. I don’t think President Obama understands this, or else he would do as Mitt Romney has said he would do, which is to take a firmer stance on the side of Israel, to impose greater sanctions on Iran, and to strategically work at destroying Iran’s nuclear sites. I have heard many people think that Mitt Romney wants us to get into a war, but all I see is his earnest resolve to help keep us out of one, whereas President Obama’s lack of leadership will almost certainly see us in one, if not perhaps the greatest this world has ever known.
If I haven’t scared you away yet, let us discuss the current situation going on in Libya and across much of the rest of the Arab world. On the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, America was once again attacked by members of al-Qaeda at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This was the first terrorist attack on American soil (one could actually argue the second depending on your thoughts of the Fort Hood shooting that took place in 2009) since September 11, 2001. For the first time in roughly thirty years, one of our ambassadors, Chris Stevens, was killed in that attack, along with three of our servicemen. This happened because our President’s foreign policy was flawed.
After this attack, we have learned much. President Obama has claimed that the reason this attack happened was because of a spontaneous outrage/protest generated by an anti-Muhammad video posted on YouTube. According to his press secretary, Jay Carney, this was not a planned terrorist attack, the ambassador had security, it was in reaction to the before mentioned video, and there were no threat warnings prior to the attack. Other administration officials, such as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, were quick to mirror such sentiments. All of these statements have since been proven wrong. There were no protests at the consulate, it was a terrorist attack (by al-Qaeda) from the beginning, it was a planned attack, it had nothing to do with the video, Ambassador Stevens did not have an adequate security detail with him, and there were in fact warning signs that such an attack was imminent. This was a failure of foreign policy, and the Obama administration knew all of this. Rather than admit their mistakes, however, they chose to lie to all of America instead for nearly a week before changing much of their story. At the same time, they chose to bash Mitt Romney for his statements made the night of the attack, which have since proven to be right.
As for the anti-American protests that have popped up all across the Arab world since, which in large scale were probably brought on by that video, that too demonstrates a failure of President Obama’s foreign policy. President Obama has told us repeatedly that his foreign policy is right; that it has made us more liked throughout the world and made the Middle East and Arab world a safer place. Polls, however, have shown that people favor us less in that region now than they did four years ago. And considering Israel and Iran are at the brink of war, Iran has gained influence in Iraq, things in Afghanistan are deteriorating, al-Qaeda is still alive and well, we’ve been attacked in Libya, the Syrian government is slaughtering their own people in a civil war, and we’re being protested against in nearly thirty different countries now at the same time, I would say President Obama is wrong. His foreign policy has been a failure.
I will also remind everyone that before he was president and afterward, for a time, Barack Obama said he would close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (better known as Gitmo). He also said he would repeal the Patriot Act. Neither of these promises has come true, and I’d argue that they can’t. President Obama openly tried to close Gitmo, only to find out there was no place else he could send those detainees held there. No one wanted them, and the security risk of placing them in other areas was too great. Likewise, President Obama discovered he could not adequately fight terrorism without the Patriot Act. I would argue that he didn’t know what he was talking about before taking office concerning both of these issues. In my opinion, he was only against them in the first place purely for political reasons. When he became president, however, he realized he was wrong and needed both. I bring this up only to demonstrate that President Obama’s foreign policies have been failures from the very beginning of his presidency; that from the very start, he didn’t understand what was best for America in this regard.
In contrast, I believe Mitt Romney will stand up for our allies, make it clearer who our allies are, and take a tougher stance on all those who would call themselves our enemies. I believe he would follow common sense rather than ideology as well. As I said a moment ago, Mitt Romney was proven correct about the events in Libya on the night they were happening. He understood that people don’t just show up to a spontaneous protest with major assault weapons. He understood that four Americans had been killed in a terrorist ridden part of the world. He understood that it wasn’t likely to be coincidence that something like that just happened to happen on an anniversary of 9/11. He used common sense, rather than ideology, and knew what turned out to be right, while President Obama and his administration lied to us, or just flat out got it wrong, for nearly a week.
There’s something else we must look at though. And this concerns all Americans, beyond just foreign policy or economic policy. Let’s look at the video which apparently outraged so many in the Arab world. To begin with, I don’t agree with the sentiments in that video. And I can understand why some would be angered by it. However, I will defend the right of the one who made that video and said what he did in it to the death, just as countless of Americans present and past have as well. One of the greatest parts of being an American is that we are guaranteed a right to free speech. It is one of the most transformational freedoms we have promoted around the world since before the idea of our nation was even conceived. We Americans have always valued our God given right to free speech.
In recent weeks, I have doubted whether President Obama truly believes in this freedom or not. When he learned that a video had incited some outrage toward us overseas, President Obama’s first response was to apologize for the insensitivity of it. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if it hadn’t been his only response to it (at least for two weeks until giving a speech to the UN). I can understand apologizing for the hateful comments presented in a video, but I cannot excuse this President for making that his only response. Whoever our president is, he or she should always stand up first for our freedoms, rather than downplaying them because of the intolerant, hateful, religious fanaticism of others who would turn to violence rather than peaceful forms of disagreement. When we apologize for the insensitive comments of some, but say nothing in support of their right to make such insensitive comments, we are in essence downplaying and apologizing for our right to free speech. It hasn’t helped either that President Obama announced to other nations during his most recent UN speech that we accept as a nation when other countries do not allow freedom of speech. If we were ever going to tell other countries that it was okay for them not to allow freedom of expression, this was certainly it.
Another example of this has come in the way the State Department, upon learning CNN was going to reveal the contents of Ambassador Stevens’ journal (which they were able to just pick up and walk away with from the crime scene in Benghazi four days after the attack took place—some security clean up there, huh?), tried to prevent them from doing so. Once CNN did publish the contents, revealing that Ambassador Stevens was indeed fearful for his safety and life, the State Department then released a statement against CNN, inciting other news agencies to demonize them for publishing the truth.
And it’s not just our freedom of speech that is being potentially threatened, but our religious freedom as well. There have been concerns about President Obama for some time now in this regard, but I will only discuss one particular concern. Again, this comes back to a provision of Obamacare, which would force religious institutions to provide contraceptives to healthcare patients. The Catholic Church has been on the frontlines of this issue. According to the church, it is sinful to use contraceptives. So, in forcing them to provide contraceptives, this forces Catholics to go against their faith, thereby infringing upon their religious freedom. President Obama has not backed down on this issue, instead pushing for litigation that would force Catholics to provide contraceptives.
Maybe it’s just me, but I seriously have the feeling that President Obama only truly supports our freedoms when they serve him. When they do not serve him, he seems fine to do without them.
To be continued...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Politicking: Part One

Hold onto your butts, everybody! I’m about to get political…

As I mentioned in the first post of this year, it is an election year!  YAY!!!

I love election years.  If you didn't know, I am somewhat of a political junkie.  I often look at politics as a sport, and my favorite at that. There are teams and players, ideas and game plans, preseason playoffs, finals, and then winners and losers. Everybody has their favorite team and players and ideas, and cheer on each of these as they advance, or attempt to defend them as they regress.  I am no different.

When I was in fourth grade, we discussed in social studies class the differences between the two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. This happened to coincide with the ’92 election as well, so I was already somewhat familiar with the two major candidates running in that election due to seeing them on TV and hearing older family members talking about them. It was during that time I became a fan of the Republican Party. I liked the grandfatherly image of George Bush, the Republican Party mascot (the elephant), and I liked that Bush seemed much more serious about the issues. I remember thinking being president must be very important and that between George Bush and Bill Clinton, George Bush seemed to want to talk more about the issues and knew more about those issues, than Bill Clinton who just seemed to want to have fun (little did I know then how much fun Bill Clinton would have in that Oval Office in later years). But what grasped me to the Republican Party most was just that sense of seriousness Republicans seemed to have. In short, I tell you all of this in order to describe what first led me to become a Republican. I made that decision then, and it has been a decision I have kept with ever since. It’s a decision I can say in all honesty I am proud of.

Over the years, I have supported every Republican presidential candidate put forward by the Republican Party. I have done so because I approved of most of the conservative policies they put forward. At heart, I am a conservative when it comes to fiscal policy, a moderate when it comes to social issues, a supporter of smaller government, and a supporter of strong defense. I supported Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and now Mitt Romney because each have, for the most part, upheld those beliefs.

I was, and still am, a big supporter of George W. Bush. Unlike many, I don’t fault him entirely for the short falls of his presidency, particularly those which happened during his second term. I actually still believe it was the right thing for us to go to war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. I think it was important that we went after al-Qaeda after the events of 9/11. I think instituting the Patriot Act allowed for us to fight terrorism both here at home and abroad, and so I think this was also an important move by Bush, not only allowing his administration to better fight terrorism, but the current Obama administration as well. I think cutting taxes was a good move to help the economy after Clinton left it in recession and 9/11 further damaged it. I think it was important that Bush reformed Medicare to help make prescription drugs more affordable. This cut costs dramatically for people reliant on those drugs at all age levels. I think it was important that Bush did more to help fight in the war against HIV/AIDS not only in this country, but especially in Africa as well, where more people have been effected by that horrible virus than anywhere else on Earth. It was important, too, that Bush led the effort to end partial birth abortions. We should never allow in this country the deliberate death of a baby so near to birth. I also think it was important that Bush tackled education reform, social security reform, and immigration reform—even though he was unsuccessful with those last two.

Having mentioned some of the good points to Bush’s presidency, let me now discuss some of those down falls. People have blamed President Bush for increasing the debt/deficit, 9/11, the response to Hurricane Katrina, failed or manipulated intelligence used to get us into Iraq, and perhaps most importantly, the economic recession began during his last year and to which we are still feeling the effects of today. I personally do not hold President Bush entirely at fault for any of these things. Democrats looked at the exact same intelligence President Bush did, concerning the lead up to both 9/11 and the Iraq War. Democrats voted, right along with Republicans, to create the tax cuts which have presumably caused the greatest increase in our national debt/deficit. Democrats on the city and state levels were lacking in leadership leading up to and after Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans. And now we come to the economy.

In 2006, Democrats took control of both houses of Congress. As such, they took control of the economic affairs of our nation. They were in control of oversight and, to a great degree, what sorts of regulations would be in place. Those last two years President Bush was in office, he warned of the looming housing and banking markets collapse, to which the Democratically controlled House and Senate did very little to prevent either one. So, I do hold them just as accountable as Bush for the collapse of both markets, and the overall economic recession in which both created.

When President Obama became president, I believe he made several serious missteps toward getting control over the declining economy. I think, in a very real sense, he and a large number of Democrats, believed the Bail Out would be enough to halt and reverse the economic decline. In some ways it did help, but in other ways it didn’t. One of the biggest failures of the Bail Out is the added deficit/debt it created for our country. The question is, did we get enough back for our buck? I don’t think we did. A lot of banks took the money and kept it, rather than loaning it out as they were supposed to. Some companies like GM and Chrysler didn’t need the money. They could have gone through a structured bankruptcy, which would have allowed them to stay afloat, without costing the federal government huge sums of money. And then certain government investments, through the Bail Out, haven’t paid off. A solar power company called Solyndra, for instance, was given millions, but wasn’t able to stay afloat. The state of Nevada has received over one billion dollars to create green energy jobs, but to this date, only about 300 jobs have actually been created by all of that money. It was also promised that the Bail Out would prevent unemployment from getting to double digits, yet in many of the months since the Bail Out, unemployment has been at 10% or higher. During the last four years, it has never been below 8%. The Bail Out also did not nearly accomplish the degree of infrastructure spending that had been promised in the last election, nor that has been needed in the years since.

Another misstep by our current President was to add several thousands of new regulations, which made it harder and slower for companies to do business during this recession. Not only has our president hampered economic growth in this fashion, but he has also tried to increase tax rates across the board in various ways. Neither of these two things has helped promote economic growth—quite to the contrary, they have prevented it.

And now we can look at Obamacare. In many regards, Obamacare is a great piece of legislation. I wouldn’t dispute this, and many more Republicans wouldn’t either. But in some very real ways, it is not good legislation at all. To begin with, it has added regulations that have already began costing American companies up to billions of dollars in extra spending, prompting several companies to lower their employment numbers so that they can avoid extra costs. It also expands the IRS and creates a healthcare board, both of which add to the federal debt/deficit. Furthermore, it creates no provision to open up insurance between the states—a Republican idea, which would lower the actual costs of healthcare.

Something else we can look at is the rise in government spending. Spending has continuously risen, even though Congress has not passed a budget in more than three years now. The budget President Obama proposed called for three trillion dollars of spending in just a single year (and I thought he promised he’d bring down the deficit/debt). When it was voted upon in the House, it received no yes votes whatsoever. When it was voted upon in the Senate, it also received no yes votes. Not one Democrat in Congress would vote for President Obama’s budget proposal. If that doesn’t tell you how disconnected President Obama is on the subject, and how bad his proposal was, I don’t know what will. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, hasn’t put forward any budget proposals the last three years. The Republicans in the House have put forward and passed a budget proposal, but it has been held up in the Senate and President Obama has threatened to veto it if it did get through. This is the epitome of economic irresponsibility, and it rests solely with the Democratic Party. They call Republicans the party of No, but just who is really saying no to a budget? It sure isn’t the Republicans.

It is also not the Republicans saying no to a real “all of the above” approach to tackling our energy problems in this country. President Obama often touts his “all of the above” strategy, yet he often fails to tell us that the EPA, under his direction, has imposed many regulations halting or slowing new coal and natural gas sites from development. President Obama has also halted the Keystone Pipeline, approval of additional nuclear sites, and approval of additional on and offshore oil drilling. In fact, the only energy he seems to be in favor of is renewable. Now, I am in favor of renewable, green energy, just as many Republicans are (in fact I encourage going green as much as possible), but it cannot be the only source of energy we promote. We must truly have an all of the above approach if we are going to have any real chance for energy independence. Had President Obama truly taken such an approach, we may not currently have gas and oil prices as high as they are, and have been.

Looking at the results of Obama’s handling of the economy over the last four years, I think speaks for itself though. Unemployment hasn’t come below 8% in the last four years, those no longer seeking employment (because they’ve exhausted benefits and the like) has risen, banks still aren’t loaning sufficiently, the housing market still isn’t good, more people are on Food Stamps and Welfare than ever before, household incomes are down, the price of gas and other commodities have increased significantly, college tuition has continued to rise, healthcare premiums have continued to rise, foreign investments have decreased, and the debt/deficit have both increased significantly.

President Obama has not helped our economy. I say that, not to mean that he has done no good, but to mean that by what he has done overall, it has not brought back, or even seriously begun to bring back, our economy as it should have been. There is a reason/s why this current economic recovery has been the slowest since the Great Depression, and it is purely due to the economic policies of Barack Obama.

In contrast, I believe Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for the presidency this year, would actually be able to spark much more economic growth than President Obama’s policies have. His plans call for a 20% tax cut for individuals at every level, a reform of the current tax code to make it simpler, a rollback of most all the regulations President Obama has added to businesses, a repeal of those parts of Obamacare that have hurt the economy, a repeal of Dodd/Frank, an amendment of Sarbanes-Oxley, getting tougher with China and other nations on trade, opening up trade with additional countries, supporting right-to-work laws, eliminating and reducing government waste and spending to help cut the debt/deficit, and raising visa caps to allow more highly skilled workers to come into the country (for more information about Romney’s Plan, check out the following:

To be continued...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Grand Illusions

You would think that as many times as I’ve fallen for friends in the past, who in no way wanted to be in any sort of romantic relationship with me, that I’d have figured out by now some way of not letting that happen.

A few months ago, I wrote about my love for a friend. I eventually disclosed my feelings to him and asked him if he’d be with me. I knew this was something I had to do because it was just eating away at me not knowing if he felt the same about me or not. It turned out he didn’t.

I was both upset and relieved that he didn’t want to be with me. I was upset because I really do love him and wanted to be with him. I was relieved because I knew he was a great friend and I didn’t want anything to ruin that friendship, and also because I still didn’t fully have it in my mind that being with another man is okay, which if we’d have gotten together I’m sure would have caused some problems.

When we first met, it was through email. He seemed to be in a very similar place in life that I was, and so I contacted him just to give him a bit of encouragement and let him know that he wasn’t alone. We ended up writing to each other a great deal more after that. I very quickly liked him, and thought it was nothing but a blessing from God that we’d ever met. I still consider it a blessing. He has been a wonderful friend; one of the best I’ve ever had. But, somewhere along the way, I began to not just like him as a friend. I began to love him as a friend. There is quite a lot to love about him. And I think it is good for people to feel love for others. However, those feelings, again, somewhere along the way, turned to feelings of not just love, but feelings of being in love. Maybe in some moments of loneliness, sorrow, arousal, or frustration, I wondered what it would be like for him to not just be a friend, but to be a boyfriend. Maybe he just possessed enough certain traits or qualities that I’d actually want in a boyfriend that it became hard not to wish he actually could be my boyfriend.

I fell in love.

I don’t think it was wrong of me, or that I necessarily did anything wrong, but I do feel that I put myself into some unnecessary situations and turmoil because of that. In hindsight, I think I should have known better. I should have thought a bit more about how impractical it would be for us to be in a relationship with each other, or how being with him could ruin one of the best friendships I’ve ever known, or how completely incompatible we are in a few regards. I can see now that it really is best that we only remain as friends, and nothing more. That doesn’t mean that I love him any less though. I’ve just learned to direct my love for him in a different direction.

It’s never easy or fun falling for friends who don’t share any mutual romantic interest in you though. So many of us go through this numerous times in our lives, and it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, it can happen either way. I think it happens because we see in our friends certain qualities or characteristics that we like and admire, and would want in any potential romantic partner. Then we combine that with enjoying our time with these friends; and the next thing you know, we’ve fallen for them. Certain looks, words, or actions take on untrue meanings, and then our entire perspective of what should only be a good friendship becomes misconstrued. We get this totally grand illusion in our heads that just isn’t so.

This is nothing to feel bad about though (unless you’ve become like Glenn Close’s character in Fatal Attraction). Most all people seek out affection and love at some point in their lives. Sometimes we get signals crossed. Sometimes we develop false realities. Sometimes we love and fall out of love. And sometimes we get it right and find the love of our lives. It is all trial and error.

Trial and error, trial and error…

It’s a tough thing falling in love with a friend who doesn’t feel the same about you. Sometimes this can mess up that friendship. Sometimes it can cause that friendship to grow. Sometimes it embarrasses. And sometimes it’s just funny. In my case, I hope it was something that only embarrassed me a little, can be laughed at now, and can grow our friendship. I hope my friend knows how much I love him. I will always love him. He will always be my brother, and he will always be my friend. And I will always be exceptionally happy if that is the only way I can know him. I just pray that if I do manage to fall in love with anyone else, that it might actually be with the person I’m supposed to be with, who can feel the same about me. I hope that I can also know the difference between infatuation, a crush, and actually being in love, because I think that matters as well. Perhaps if we could learn those differences a bit better, we’d spare ourselves much grief.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mocking God

This has to be one of the campiest, gayest scenes ever.

In my last post, I showed a clip from the movie Jesus Christ Superstar. I decided to show this one as well in order to illustrate the mocking attitude so many people have toward God and the Christian faith.

In this scene, we see Jesus standing before Herod, and Herod—in a most whimsical way—asking Jesus to perform a miracle for him. Jesus, knowing that Herod wasn’t really interested in the truth so much as he wanted a show, or spectacle, stood silent instead. This leads Herod to begin mocking him, hurling insults and telling him to leave.

This seems to be the attitude a lot of people have today toward God. In their great arrogance, they’d rather shrug off any possible signs of God’s existence and rely on their own limited human understanding of things, holding to a concept which cannot be proven, as some sort of enlightened thought.

It amazes me how so many people look at the Big Bang Theory and are somehow able to conclude that it proves the nonexistence of God. Having a better understanding of how the universe came about and the ways in which it works does not prove in any way whatsoever that God does not exist. At best, it only suggests a possible way in which God did create everything. This theory has never fully been able to explain how everything came into existence though. If there was a big bang, then what caused it? How could everything have just burst into existence from nothing? The simplest explanation is that there is a God, who is all powerful, and that He is the one who caused it all to happen. Scientists use a guiding principle that the simplest explanation is often the right explanation. However, when it comes to God, so many of them somehow seem to always want to predominantly turn a blind eye to this concept and tout a belief that is so complicated they cannot explain it. And yet they think themselves smarter for this?

Mocking God is no laughing matter. It’s arrogance, pure and simple. No one is so smart that he or she can see it all, hear it all, know it all, be it all, or do it all. In our existence as human beings, none of us has ever been so smart than none to follow could surpass our own understandings. And if that is true, then why put so much faith into a single thought, which is no more credible than that which opposes it, and which has greater consequences for you should you prove to be wrong?

I believe in Jesus. I believe he was the Christ, that He was God, and that He still lives today. His truths have never been disproven, and they never will be. And with the free will given to me, I find it much more worthwhile to believe in something, in someone, than to believe in nothing at all.

I could end this post on that note, but I’ll go a bit further, because I think this is important.

As a believer in Christ, I do have doubts sometimes. It would be easy for me to pass off past evidence of God as simple neurosis, lies, aliens coming down to earth, or time travelers interfering with human history. But none of those things explains what gives spark to life. None of those explanations reveals where we all came from, how it all happened, or even what caused it to happen. Having said that, I must admit, in truth, there is no way for me to prove the existence of God beyond any shadow of doubt. My faith does not make me so arrogant that I cannot concede that I might be wrong. I hear Christians admit this sort of thing all the time, but I often never hear such a concession from those who do not believe. And that’s fine. It’s their right to believe and conduct themselves in this matter as they choose. But I find it so discrediting when people who do not believe in God, who cannot prove their beliefs anymore than I can prove mine, say that they know there is no God and are unwilling to listen or consider opposing ideas.

People who do not believe in God, who would mock Him openly, a being that may actually exist despite their own beliefs, do so with a heart of arrogance, a closed mind, and a foolish sense of certainty. When you do that, you look as ridiculous as the people in this clip.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Everything's Alright

This is a good little reminder sometimes.

You know, it's always baffled me as to why so many Christians have been against this movie over the years. Frankly, I just don't get it.