29 September 2012

I beg to differ.

The original poster's point is taken. It's always too soon to give up. (Almost always) But I disagree with the statement as made.. The hardest part is not the beginning. The hardest part is the endless middle. The long countless, thankless, weeks, months, years, when you are striving faithfully, but seeing absolutely NO results. In fact, you're seeing only more indifference, if not active hostility. It is here that your faith and endurance will be tested.

04 September 2012

Romney Ryan 2012

Now that we've really heard what these two gentlemen want us to hear (light on specifics as campaign speeches are wont to be), I figured I'd take a closer look. As always, your mileage may vary.

It's no great secret I'm not 100% behind the ticket. Who ever is? I've voted FOR (rather than against) maybe two politicians in my life: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Shelby County (TN) Commissioner Chris Thomas. Well, other than the few times I've written myself in.

But these are a few things I liked.

"...optimism is uniquely American. It is what brought us to America. We are a nation of immigrants. We are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life, the driven ones, the ones who woke up at night hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called America could be better."

"They came not just in pursuit of the riches of this world but for the richness of this life.


Freedom of religion.

Freedom to speak their mind.

Freedom to build a life.

And yes, freedom to build a business. With their own hands.

This is the essence of the American experience.

We Americans have always felt a special kinship with the future.

When every new wave of immigrants looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty, or knelt down and kissed the shores of freedom just ninety miles from Castro’s tyranny, these new Americans surely had many questions. But none doubted that here in America they could build a better life, that in America their children would be more blessed than they."

Yes, optimism and the opportunity to go as far as hard work can take you is uniquely American. That immigration is an issue for us means people WANT to come here. And we have ways to do just that.



Over a million did so last year.

"But today, four years from the excitement of the last election, for the first time, the majority of Americans now doubt that our children will have a better future."

Some estimates indicate that millions, tens of millions, have lost upward of 40% of their wealth.

Who's fault is that?

How many terms does Obama need until something, anything will be his fault?

"This is when our nation was supposed to start paying down the national debt and rolling back those massive deficits."

Yes, Dubya was a deficit spender, due in no small part by two wars. Support for deficit spending is usually in direct proportion to your support for what it's being spent on.

"I can still hear [my mother] saying in her beautiful voice, “Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?” I can still hear her saying in her beautiful voice, “Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?” I wish she could have been here at the convention and heard leaders like Governor Mary Fallin, Governor Nikki Haley, Governor Susana Martinez, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz called these women "shiny packages." Really? Three governors, a senator and a former Secretary of State, one of the most accomplished and intelligent women on the planet.
This dismissive tone is one of the clearest examples of the spiteful, vicious tone that saturates the national discourse.

And don't talk to me about Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or other conservative flashbangs. I don't watch them either. I'll admit FoxNews is slanted to the right if you'll admit MSNBC is slanted to the left.

"Many of you felt that [something special was happening] on Election Day four years ago. Hope and Change had a powerful appeal.
But tonight I'd ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama? You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him."

I find it amusing that his base is unhappy because he's done to little, while conservatives are unhappy with him because he's done too much. This is another symptom of the polarization of modern politics. But almost everything he's "accomplished" is something I disagree with.
"The President has disappointed America because he hasn’t led America in the right direction. He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government."
Let's talk for a minute about "you didn't build that." In fairness, I don't think Obama meant that the way people took it. He was talking about infrastructure, not individual small businesses. But even here, he's wrong again. Yes, infrastructure is (usually, but not always) built by government, not the small business owner. But that infrastructure also carries customers to his competitors. To people who will never darken the door of his/her business. And don't get too cocky about how much government has "helped" him. That infrastructure was built in part by his taxes, since welfare recipients rarely start their own businesses. And if the infrastructure (a traffic signal, road extension/widening) benefits him too much, he'll have to pay part of the costs up front.

"It’s the genius of the American free enterprise system – to harness the extraordinary creativity and talent and industry of the American people with a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today's."

Bain Capital made Romney rich. Very rich. And yes, the very nature of business is that some people succeed and others fail. Some fill new jobs, others lose old ones. But I highlighted the last phrase for a reason: This "recovery" has been and still is largely a phantom. While the Administration touts the number of "new jobs" created, they conveniently ignore what kind of "jobs." A recent article in the New York Times revealed a study by The National Employment Law Project, a LIBERAL research and advocacy group, which said "The overarching message here is we don’t just have a jobs deficit; we have a ‘good jobs’ deficit."

I learned a long time ago that numbers without context can be used to support any position. So let's note that the NELP blames this on runaway corporations, gouging profits, and insufficient government intervention.

Corporations exist to make a profit. Yes, many of them pay otherworldly salaries to their top executives. But there's a way to address that: Buy local when you can; buy from companies that have sane, rational business models.
But don't just scream about corporate profits and label them "untaxed." Corporations do one of three things with income: Pay wages; pay dividends (your retirement fund, if you have one, is very likely receiving those dividends and rising in value as stock prices rise); or invest in research and development. They purchase equipment, goods, and services, usually provided by smaller companies. Those wages and profits are taxes, either as wages, dividends, or capital gains. Government cannot create wealth. It merely shuffles dollars around on the whim of the regime, while taking a cut for the privilege.

"That is why every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: "you are better off today than you were four years ago."

Except Jimmy Carter. And except this president.

This president can ask us to be patient.

This president can tell us it was someone else’s fault.

This president can tell us that the next four years he’ll get it right.

But this president cannot tell us that YOU are better off today than when he took office."

I'm very disappointed in Mr. Carter. I used to think fairly highly of him persoanlly, although I disagree with him, strongly, on a lot of issues, as many of you disagree with Dubya. But Dub has at least, mostly, kept his mouth shut. I can't think of any reason on Earth for anyone to proclaim that The Carter Administration was our "golden years." Of all people, a former President knows how hard that job is, and how much criticism he's exposed to on a minute by minute basis. And Carter has the added bonus of being dead wrong on the Israeli/Palestinian issue.

"...unlike the President, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs. It has 5 steps. [I'll focus on only on a few parts]

First, by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.

Second, we will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.

Third, we will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements. And when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.

Fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish as have those in Greece, we will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.

And fifth, we will champion SMALL businesses, America’s engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare."

Energy Independence. What's it look like? First and foremost, and it's shocking how few people understand this most basic of all realities, we have to drill where the oil is. We can't drill where we want to and hope we can somehow drag the oil underground from thousands of miles away. The reality is we are a petroleum economy.
So called "green" technology, "zero emission" vehicles, and solar and wind energy are, at this point, inefficient and expensive. We're stuck with so-called fossil fuels for many years to come. We're banning drilling here, while the rest of the planet has no such qualms. We haven't built a new refinery in 25+ years. Ethanol is expensive, takes food out of the food chain, which raises food costs, requires a TON of water, and burns inefficiently, reducing engine performance and gas mileage. A properly built, safe-guarded and inspected nuclear plant is our best option at the moment. Researching alternative energy is too expensive. We can't afford it. BUT... research is only going to get more expensive, so we can't afford NOT to. But in the mean time, I need gas to get to work & see my kids. When I went home for my Mom's funeral in December 2008, gas was $1.38. I filled up yesterday at $3.99. Whose fault is that? When it's $6.99 in 2016, will that finally be Obama's responsibility?

College degrees are increasingly useless and outrageously expensive. We're not training people for the jobs they might actually get. And my own college debt, small by today's standards, will almost certainly not be paid off until I die.

Obamacare (which seems to be a racist term these days) is expensive, unrealistic, makes being a doctor a losing proposition and does NOT GUARANTEE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE. At best, it guarantees (almost) universal health insurance.
And yes, it looks suspiciously like Romneycare. I'm hoping Mitt has learned a few things since his stint at the helm in Massachusetts.

"In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran. We're still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning."

This is another example of turning a blind eye to the realities of international diplomacy. Iran doesn't care what we say or how long we say it.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has, in so many words, promised a second Jewish Holocaust, all while denying there was ever a first one. Israel has asked only to be left in peace. That doesn't mean Israel should have carte blanche, but it does mean that tiny nation, historically one of our staunchest allies, and the only thing resembling a Western style democracy, has a right to protect itself from attack. If that means bombing Iranian nuclear facilities, Benjamin Netanyahu will have the political will and resolution to do so. He's the closest thing to a Churchill the current world has.

The reality of the world we live in is that we have enemies. Enemies who have vowed to destroy us. They don't want peace, will not accept peace. Gutting our military will not make us safer, it will make us more vulnerable. Unilateral disarmament is unilaterally insane. But then again, Obama, anti-colonialist that he is, thinks a weaker military will buy us respectability. Iran, and Vladimir Putin's Russia, have no respect for anything but power. Our current foreign policy is sort of like a cop yelling after a fleeing felon "STOP! Or I'll... yell STOP again!

What we've done is allowed politicians who have been screaming "Vietnam!" for 10 years to turn Iraq and Afghanistan into a self-fulfilling prophecy by doing the same thing we did in the 1960-70s: Promise to help our allies, piss off their enemies, send in just enough troops to get them killed, then bail out and leave the enemy in control of our former allies' fate.

"He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia's President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone."

John F. Kennedy was the last Democrat that had the backbone to stand up to the Russians. Obama has taught our enemies we don't have the will to fight and our allies that we can't be trusted.
Within four years, what will Putin have done to secure "peace" with the US?

"If I am elected President of these United States, I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future. That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it, our nation depends upon it, the peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it. Let us begin that future together tonight."
This is the culmination of my argument, and the saddest commentary upon it. I don't see anyone, not Romney, and certainly not Obama, that can reunite our caustic nation. The fringes are too large on both ends, and too fanatical. The majority in the middle doesn't care enough to participate, or do anything else harder than complain. But at least we can make the future less expensive.

Anyone who has tried to make a personal or family budget knows there comes a tipping point where your debt is maxed out, you've cut expenses to the bone, and you can't increase your income. Our government can increase its income by making exorbitant taxes worse, refusing to cut expenses we simply cannot afford, and continuing to put those expenses, present and future, on our Chinese credit card, until we've maxed out our last card.

What will that America look like? I've said before, and I'll say it again, if we don't find a way to build consensus and live within our means, there's no reason to believe we will cannot go the way of every other great civilization in history. If we continue the path of greatest resistance, we will be fighting in the streets within 10 years, maybe 5.