31 January 2012

State of the Union Address 2012

A little late but here are my thoughts nonetheless...

Overall, this State of the Union address seemed like a rehash of past State of the Union addresses with a few random other ideas thrown in... jobs, jobs, green jobs, energy independence, clean energy, blah, blah blah, higher taxes, paying your "fair share", blame the last administration, we need more bureaucracy, force kids to graduate (really?!), blah, blah, comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure needs work, more regulations, with or without Congress he'll move ahead, didn't know where the Arab Spring is headed -- and see, you didn't miss anything.

It was hard to take anything he said too seriously.

Let's start with President Obama's claim that the rich need to start paying their "fair share" of taxes. Besides the fact that the top 10% of earners pay 70% of all taxes - maybe it was just me, but it seemed funny to see Timothy Geitner, tax cheat, sitting there listening intently to the speech. Not that Geitner was the only Obama appointee to find himself behind on his taxes of course - there's a slew of them.

Or perhaps the Federal government as a whole may want to take a look at their own backyard before making a mess in the rest of ours. Turns out that they owe 3.4 billion in back taxes. Hmmm.
Agency Amount Owed by Employees
Postal Service $269,641,265
Senate $2,134,501
House of Representatives $8,535,974
Executive Office of the President $833,970
Active duty military $111,027,905
Moving on. Jobs. Yup, we know that those "shovel ready" jobs weren't as "shovel ready" as they thought, ha ha. Also, funny is how that XL Pipeline from Canada would've put thousands of those construction workers he's so concerned about back to work - glad he's also so worried about the United States' energy independence as well. That's a joke.

And what about that pesky 16 trillion dollar deficit? Couldn't be that important - it only got mentioned in passing.

Oh yes, Obama did mention something about cutting back government - but it seemed strange coming from a fellow who did all he could over the last three years to grow government to unsustainable proportions. Never mind that new health care law coming down the pipe creating what will surely be another bloated and unaccountable bureaucracy controlling the most personal parts of our lives.

It was certainly a strange speech. The President went on to mention the "Arab Spring" saying how it was going to play out was "uncertain". Really?! It seems pretty clear where it going to me and most other people. The most moderate of Arab countries - Egypt - has democratically elected 70% Islamic leaning parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. They're even threatening to throw the peace deal Egypt had with Israel out the window and into the Nile River. I'm sure glad that democracy movement is working out.

The statement that certainly seemed most random and out of sync was when Obama quoted Abraham Lincoln,
I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.
It's truly hard to imagine he believes this statement by any stretch. We know that Democrats believe that the role of government is to step in and play parent whenever it can. Even more so, a left-leaning Democrat such as Obama who believes that more government is always better... I'm stunned that he was able to utter such words with a straight face.

That being said, hopefully next year's State of the Union address will be given by someone (anyone!) other than Obama.

Charles Krauthammer: The State of the Union Flop

18 January 2012

The False Narrative of Anti-Muslim Bigotry

I'm pretty well informed on the day to day events happening around the United States and around the world - but this had to be brought to my attention.
Wednesday’s attack on Congregation Beth El in Rutherford was the fourth bias incident within a month against a Jewish religious institution or center in northern New Jersey, police said. Within the last three weeks, a fire was intentionally set at a synagogue in Paramus and anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered at synagogues in Hackensack and Maywood.
Why didn't I hear about any of these events? I would imagine molotov cocktails being thrown into a synagogue would be repeated several times on the evening news. Perhaps a Jewish institution being attacked isn't considered "news" anymore; not worthy of three minutes of footage.

Perhaps an attack on a synagogue doesn't fit the narrative that so many like to believe - that Muslims are the only minority that find themselves under attack. Imagine how much time would be dedicated to a similar story if the focus were a mosque. Oh my, we'd never hear the end of it. Hour after hour of "poor me" and "why us" stories would hit the airwaves.

2010 FBI statistics prove that the anti-Muslim narrative is false.
Hate crimes motivated by religious bias accounted for 1,409 offenses reported by law enforcement. A breakdown of the bias motivation of religious-bias offenses showed:

65.4 percent were anti-Jewish.
13.2 percent were anti-Islamic.
9.5 percent were anti-other religion, i.e., those not specified.
4.3 percent were anti-Catholic.
3.8 percent were anti-multiple religions, group.
3.3 percent were anti-Protestant.
0.5 percent were anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc.
The numbers are startling. A full 65.4% of all religious-bias offenses are oriented toward Jews. Incredible.

Why should it be that attacks on Jews and their institutions don't merit the coverage they deserve? Is it because Jews don't complain - go along to get along? Or is it something else?

Perhaps the "something else" is the narrative built up by the media. The false narrative that so many take at face value without question. Perhaps attacks focusing on Jews just aren't as newsworthy as if it would be if Muslims were on the receiving end.

Certainly something to wonder about.

16 January 2012

Jon Huntsman is Out!

Jon Huntsman is out of the Republican race for the nomination. I was surprised after he did decently in New Hampshire that he was going to South Carolina. I thought he would have gone straight to Florida instead - going more for mainstream Republicans, rather than the more religious right.

Oh well, he was never a favorite of mine. So I can't say that it matters a whole lot to me that he's getting out - but he did have some interesting ideas that I wouldn't mind seeing picked up by some of the other candidates - such as the flat tax and endorsing Paul Ryan's original plan.

We're now left with Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Ron Paul is in for the long haul - He knows he's not going to win but is interested in getting his libertarian ideas out there by winning as many delegates as he can so he can have influence over the party's platform. It's a smart strategy.

I think that we'll see Rick Perry drop out after South Carolina if he doesn't show well. He skipped New Hampshire to go straight to South Carolina and campaign there - he needs to do well.

Rick Santorum needs to come out ahead of Newt Gingrich to be viable in the race. He came in behind Gingrich in New Hampshire by a slim margin - he needs to do better than that especially in South Carolina. I expect him to be out, unless something substantial happens, after the Florida primary.

I don't know about Newt. He's still angry about how the Romney campaign treated him in Iowa. He's running a half hour advertisement bashing Romney's involvement in Bain Capital Ventures. Revenge isn't pretty, and it looks like Gingrich may take this path - beating on Romney as long as possible. We will see.

Tonight is another debate, hosted by Fox News. We'll see how the race shapes up now that there are fewer candidates on the stage fielding questions.

10 January 2012

The 2nd Amendment and the Tale of Two Women

When the story broke last week about the 18 year old widow who killed an intruder while defending herself and her infant baby it made big news. The 911 call was replayed over and over again. But why?

The truth is that every year in the United States, thousands of people defend themselves from those who are attempting to hurt them. Few of those stories are ever told and certainly don't make the evening news. This particular story touched all of us - Sarah McKinley, a young mother whose husband died only a week earlier, waiting on the phone with a 911 operator hoping the police would arrive in time. We know what happens... the police are not in time and she is forced to defend herself and her newborn baby. Thank goodness she was armed and able to do what needed to be done. This is a story with a happy ending.

This story got me thinking and reminded me of the time I lived in New York City. A city that makes it so difficult to own a gun (never mind actually carrying it concealed on your person) that it's almost not worth the bother to apply for a permit. Of course, criminals don't concern themselves with the details of honest gun ownership.

One Sunday morning I was awakened by a knock at my apartment door. I dragged myself out of bed and looked through the peephole. I saw two of New York's finest there. I opened the door and asked if I could help them. One of the police officers explained that they had gotten a phone call from a young woman located at my address in distress asking for help. I told them I had no idea how that could be - I had no landline, only a cellphone and thankfully I was just fine. The officers radioed back to headquarters and double checked the address. It was confirmed that it was my address. It was obvious that all was well with me and the police officers left.

The encounter really left me shaken. This young woman did everything right. She was in trouble and she called the police. The police did what they were supposed to do - they arrived in the location they thought the woman was at. But it was all in vain. This woman never got the help she needed. I don't know what kind of trouble she was in - but it was serious enough for her to call the police. It made me sad to think that she had no way to help herself.

The absolute right to defend yourself seems to be basic, but so many argue against it. We see the story of Sarah McKinley and are relieved that she and her baby are safe. It was only because she was armed did she even have a remote chance of not being harmed by the armed intruder and his accomplice.

I think of the unknown woman whose call for help went nowhere. The police were unable to find her. What became of her? Perhaps a gun would have made a difference in her situation, giving her a chance at life while the police tracked her down. We will never know. All I know is that the G-d given right to defend yourself and those you hold dear is not one to take lightly and certainly not one to give up or have whittled away by anyone.

08 January 2012

New Hampshire Saturday Night Debate

I hope that everyone had a good holiday season... now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

It's been a busy few weeks - Iowa has come and gone, and New Hampshire and South Carolina are around the corner.

Tonight's debate was interesting. I was surprised how well Rick Santorum held his own on his first time out as a frontrunner.

Jon Huntsman needed to come out strong tonight and he wasn't able to. He did try unsuccessfully to sell us his platform and credentials - even speaking in Chinese - but didn't take any opportunities to take it to Romney or Santorum. Huntsman skipped Iowa to focus on New Hampshire. His showing seems to be decent there, but if he doesn't come in 2nd to Romney I think that it'll be time for him to bow out.

Rick Perry overall did okay tonight. What may have lost him the nomination was his willingness to return immediately to Iraq. I'm sure his campaign manager cringed. At this point, Perry's focus is on South Carolina. If he doesn't do well there - he's done.

Newt Gingrich also did a good job tonight. I'm concerned about what I'm hearing about him focusing more on destroying Romney than on getting the nomination. I didn't see that tonight, but it is a possibility. I hope that it's not true.

Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney both did great jobs tonight. I liked hearing more from Santorum. I feel like he has a good handle on all the issues that were thrown at him. He's still young though, I wish he'd have more executive experience whether in government or in private business, but he is articulate and I like his ideas.

Romney was also very good tonight. I liked when he threw the contraception question back at the moderator calling it "silly". It was what some would call the "real" Romney versus the scripted one, and it was good to see.

A good debate tonight. It'll be fun to see how the race shapes up over the next month.