Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

capitalism is not bad

I was watching Stossel this week which I recommend to everyone. It airs Thursday night at 9 PM Eastern on the Fox Business Channel. The theme of John Stossel’s show this week was Hollywood and their attack on capitalism. It was the topic this week because of the Academy Awards this weekend, but it was interesting to me because of a book I am currently reading, Atlas Shrugged. Ironically Stossel spoke about the book at the end of the show. Although the book was written in 1957 it has gotten a great deal of publicity recently because a movie based off the book is coming out in April. I have always wanted to read the book and went to a used bookstore to find a copy recently. Although I have only read about 200 of the over 1,000 pages I already  recommend it. Below is the movie trailer.

The book depicts a world where government bureaucracies  hinder business competition and there is little optimism from individuals. Intellectuals think that businesses concentrate too much on profit and that society has suffered from this. A few individuals disagree with this notion and the book is about their battle to do what they believe is right.

Stossel did an excellent job showing clips of multiple movies depicting the wrongs of capitalism and painting it as a problem. One movie which recently did this was Avatar. In the film an evil company wants to destroy a planet so that it can profit off a precious material which is found there. I will admit that I enjoyed Avatar. Viewing it in 3D was incredible but the story was certainly anti-capitalist.

Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez & Oliver Stone

Another example is last year’s  Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps which is the sequel to the 1987 film Wall Street, both of which were directed by Oliver Stone.  In the second movie Michael Douglas’ character says, “Someone reminded me I once said ‘Greed is good’.  Now it seems it’s legal.” I don’t know if it is important to embrace the new found legality of greed or figure out when it was illegal. Reminds me of a certain someone saying, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” Greed is not good, but  greed as it is referred to here and in many films is wanting to make a lot of money.

A few terms you constantly hear portrayed negatively in today’s media are

  • big business
  • wall street
  • oil executives

This list could go for miles but it is interesting to hear these terms used negatively today then read similar tones in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Perhaps the most evident anti-business message has been sent from President Obama when giving a commencement speech at Arizona State in 2009.

For we gather here tonight in times of extraordinary difficulty, for the nation and the world. The economy remains in the midst of a historic recession, the result, in part, of greed and irresponsibility that rippled out from Wall Street and Washington.

Many of you have been taught to chase after the usual brass rings: being on this “who’s who” list or that top 100 list; how much money you make and how big your corner office is; whether you have a fancy enough title or a nice enough car. You can take that road – and it may work for some of you. But at this difficult time, let me suggest that such an approach won’t get you where you want to go; that in fact, the elevation of appearance over substance, celebrity over character, short-term gain over lasting achievement is precisely what your generation needs to help end.

As is usual with Obama government is the answer. This is not a new trend, it is a battle that has been going on for a long time and will continue to go on in the future. Reading Rand’s book gives me hope that although the future looks bleak and it seems that government hinders business far too much, there are always individuals who step up and do what they can. That is to provide a good or service better than anyone else or that no one else provides. In turn this benefits consumers and also provides jobs. Individuals will continue to do this no matter what obstacles the government or anyone else may throw at them.

what you missed over the weekend

I am mulling over the idea of doing a piece every Monday which highlights some news over the weekend. I know many, myself included, do not follow news as closely over the weekend as they do throughout the week. I am trying it out this week so please let me know what you think about it.

  1. Protests continued over the weekend in Wisconsin. Fake doctors’ notes were being handed out to teachers who were protesting. Both sides are digging in and not budging. Governor Scott Walker thanked the protesters who are coming in from Chicago Monday to protest on his twitter page saying, ” glad u will b spending $ on food & gas here.”

Here is a picture of a sign at a rally in Wisconsin via Michelle Malkin.

Glad that there is new civility and we are not using a viscous tone against one another…

2. There was a special election in the Louisiana State Senate over the weekend which a Republican won. This is important because it gives Republicans control of both houses for the first time since the 19th century. Now Louisiana is one of the many states, including Tennessee, who Republicans have full control over.

3. Protests in China from citizens unhappy with government were smothered by police and other officials. Several prominent activists have not been seen since Saturday.

4. Things are heating up in Libya as their “leader” Muammar Gaddafi showed no signs of stepping down in the near future. Here is a great piece by Ian Black with a great deal of info. on the situation. Gaddafi has proven in the past that he will eliminate anyone who is seen as a threat so the outcome of the unrest in Libya does not look good.

5. Mark Hemingway wrote in The Weekly Standard today that because Obama, the DNC, and countless other Dem. organizations  have supported the State Senate Democrats in Wisconsin not showing up for work, it will be hard for them to blame Republicans if there is a federal government shutdown over the budget.

mitch daniels on our red menace

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels spoke at CPAC last week and gave a speech that was both appropriate and articulate. I wrote about Governor Daniels in December and then I was impressed that the state of Indiana ran a surplus in his first term. This gives him the credibility to say what he said at CPAC. You can read the full text of his speech or listen to the audio.

Below is a portion of the speech which is centered around our national debt. Daniels says it is our generation’s red menace and that this course must be reversed.

That part of his speech was the most significant and has seemed to create the most attention but there were other important lines which I have listed below.

Today’s EPA should be renamed the “Employment Prevention Agency.” After a two-year orgy of new regulation, President Obama’s recent executive order was a wonderment, as though the number one producer of rap music had suddenly expressed alarm about obscenity.

Seven years as a practitioner in elective politics tells me that history’s skeptics are wrong. That Americans, in a vast majority, are still a people born for self-governance. They are ready to summon the discipline to pay down our collective debts as they are now paying down their own; to put the future before the present, their children’s interest before their own.

Purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers. King Pyrrhus is remembered, but his nation disappeared. Winston Churchill set aside his lifetime loathing of Communism in order to fight World War II. Challenged as a hypocrite, he said that when the safety of Britain was at stake, his “conscience became a good girl.” We are at such a moment. I for one have no interest in standing in the wreckage of our Republic saying “I told you so” or “You should’ve done it my way.”

investing and more investing

Today Obama released the budget for the 2012 fiscal year. Plenty of writers and news outlets have analyzed the data and looked at precisely what this budget means so I do not want to focus completely on that, but I do want to list two important aspects of the budget.

  1. Throughout the 10 year projection of the budget at no point would the government spend less than it takes in.
  2. The deficit will be 10.9% of GDP which is a post World War II record.


Many, myself included, believe Obama missed an opportunity with this budget. David Rogers of Politico wrote, “Obama appears to have hurt his cause by not being more bold in approaching the debt problem facing the nation.”

Virtually every member of Congress made a statement about the budget but I thought Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) put it best saying that he thought it was a joke.

I thought it was a joke. It’s hard to explain how detached from reality this is, to think that the country can spend another $1.6 trillion when it doesn’t have the means. It means either you haven’t been paying attention or you don’t care. It’s absurd; [it’s] especially disturbing in light of encouraging language he used at State of the Union address.

Hopefully Republicans and Democrats will work together and make legitimate cuts that will balance the budget in the future. This will be a fight and hopefully in the end the budget will be much more fiscally responsible than the one proposed by the president today.

sheila jackson lee strikes again

Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) took the House floor Tuesday night to talk about a very important topic. A super bowl ad.

She said the ad, “showed a demeaning role for African-American women.” She went on to criticize the ad further because it is Black History Month. You can watch the ad below.

Forget that Democrats have been complaining about the GOP not talking about jobs there is so much absurdity in this claim that I could write a book about it. However, the part that bothers me most about this is that it is not the first time Congressman Lee has said something this ludicrous.

In 2003 she claimed that hurricane names were “lily white” and needed to be better represented by other ethnic groups.

In 2007 she wanted to lift a ban on selling F-16 parts to Venezuela.

You know because that Hugo Chavez is not crazy, he is just misunderstood.

Congressman Lee also said that North and South Vietnam  were currently living peacefully.

But my all time favorite was when she asked if the Mars Pathfinder had taken a picture of the flag Neil Armstrong planted on Mars.

Can you imagine if Sarah Palin had said any of these things?

future of the GOP

There is an article on Politico today written by Alexander Burns detailing the depth of  potential GOP vice presidential candidates. Pictured at the top of the article is Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. Many others are mentioned throughout the article and it is an impressive list to say the least.

The majority of these potential candidates came into office during the 2010 elections and some are holding office for the first time. Additionally many of them are very young including Marco Rubio who is 39.

The obvious good news about this plethora of potential VP candidates is that there will be plenty of options for the future Republican nominee. There will also be  many fresh faces to choose from. The bad news is that there seems to be more excitement over the VP field than there is for the presidential field. Right now the potential candidates are made up of a who’s who list of 2008 rejects.

I believe the most significant information this article gives us is that the national elections after 2012 will have strong candidates representing the GOP. As Burns writes,

The numbers tell that story best: Between 2006 and 2008, Republicans elected only three new senators and five new governors, including Palin. In 2010 alone, voters put 14 new GOP senators and 15 new Republican governors into office, giving the party a class of new leaders who could fill out a ticket in 2012 — or lead one in 2016.

The future of the Republican Party is bright.

ronald wilson reagan at 100

Dutch, as his father liked to call him, would have turned 100 this Sunday (February 6th). The world has changed greatly in 100 years but the impact the 40th president had will certainly be felt for 100 more.

There have been numerous articles written this week about the Gipper as the century mark of his birth is celebrated. I will not try to emulate the words of those who can write considerably better than this humble writer or those who knew him personally. But there are some thoughts I would like to share about the Hollywood actor who led America out of a deep recession and into a period of prosperity that let us all remember that, you and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

One of the many things Reagan is known for is his enduring optimism. Living in Hollywood while being an actor then having a high-paying job speaking for General Electric seems to put in place a good foundation for keeping optimism, but Reagan seems to have been optimistic long before this time. To say that Reagan loved to talk about his childhood would be an understatement. He even said about his childhood, “it was the happiest time of my life (37).” This is strange because his family was very poor and his father was an alcoholic.  But in his own words he explained his optimism, “my optimism comes not just from my strong faith in God but from my strong and enduring faith in man.” His optimism was something that caught on with the rest of America and culminated in one of the most famous presidential TV ads that was ever run, “It’s Morning in America again.” Reagan was driven by results and in his 1980 campaign he simply asked if people were better off than they were four years ago before Jimmy Carter was elected. In 1984 he asked the same question and America was a lot better off than it was in 1980. Perhaps nothing can reveal that better than the fact that he won an unprecedented 49 states in the 1984 election.

There have been seemingly an infinite number of biographies on Reagan and there is one notion they all seem to find. He is extremely difficult to truly understand. Lou Cannon wrote three books on the president and even he said, “I regard Reagan as a puzzle. I am still trying to understand the man (7).” Not even his wife Nancy seemed to be able to know his inner feelings. She felt that he let her closer than anyone but he still kept somewhat of a guard up. I believe this had positive and negative effects. First, it seems strange that the man called “the great communicator” did not have any close friends and had dysfunctional (to put it lightly) relationships with his children. In a bizarre way this seemed to increase his appeal. Americans viewed him as a regular guy who had problems relating to his children like many parents. Another interesting aspect that relates to his separation from others is that he seemed to handle the pressure and responsibility of being president with ease. This is not meant to imply that he did not respect the position. In fact it can be argued that no other president respected the presidency as much as he did. Many conclusions can be arrived at to explain why he was able to handle the presidency with such simplicity but none of them seem conclusive. This is just another of the many reasons we struggle to understand him.

So why was Reagan so appealing? Why even to this day do Republicans, especially those running for office, proclaim their loyalty to the man who ran against the Republican establishment? It seems that there should be a simple answer but it is very hard to find.

Maybe it is because he accomplished so much. I have written this whole entry thus far without even mentioning the Cold War. That is because for my generation the Soviet Union is a hockey team we beat in the 1980 Olympics. When Reagan took office the Soviet Union was a great threat and he did more to bring down the evil empire than basically anyone. He had a vision of ending communism in the Soviet Union and he saw this come to fruition during his life. Reagan was not nearly as revered during his presidency as he is now. He was considered an idiot who was out of touch. How could a man who was an average student at mediocre Eureka College know which economic policies were right for the United States? This elitist point of view was held by pundits and politicians on both sides of the isle. Perhaps Reagan’s national security adviser Robert McFarlane said it best, “He knows so little, and accomplishes so much (9).”

There is so much more to Reagan than “Reaganomics” or any one policy he had. There is more than a great story about a self-made man who was raised in the Midwest, went to Hollywood, and then the White House. Reagan put faith back into America. He allowed Americans to remember why our country is so great. “They called it the Reagan Revolution. Well, I’ll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.”

Ronald Reagan was a special man and there will never be another like him. America is blessed to have had his leadership and we can only hope that in the next 100 years another will come along that will have nearly the positive impact of Ronald Wilson Reagan.


“Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.” -Ronald Reagan

letters to a young conservative

I was watching an episode of Stossel last week on the Fox Business Network and there was a panel made up of libertarians in a particular segment. As a conservative they said some things I agreed with and they said some things I was not sure about as well as some ideas I absolutely opposed.

After the segment I did something I had done quite often which was to pick up Dinesh D’Souza’s book, Letters to a Young Conservative.

This book is necessary for conservatives of all ages. In each chapter D’Souza writes a fictional character advising the character on different political issues from a conservative perspective.

Here are a few chapter titles…

  • “Why Professors Are So Left-Wing”
  • “More Guns, Less Crime”
  • “Against Gay Marriage”
  • “Speaking As a Former Fetus…”
  • “Authentic vs. Bogus Multiculturalism”

It is a great book not only because the content is enlightening, but also because each chapter is separate therefore you can skip around throughout the book and not miss anything.

After watching Stossel I turned to the second chapter in the book, “The Libertarian Temptation.” In this chapter D’Souza argues why conservatism is a better option than libertarianism.

Consider an example that contrasts the conservative and libertarian views of freedom. If you said to a libertarian, “What if 300 million Americans opt to become pornographers like Larry Flynt? Would that constitute a good society?” While the conservative would emphatically answer no, the pure libertarian would have to answer yes, because these people have chosen freely. As this example illustrates, libertarianism is a philosophy of choice without political concern for what people actually choose. Thus, although many libertarians live virtuously, libertarianism as a philosophy is indifferent to virtue. In this respect it differs markedly from conservatism.

meet john thune

Most who follow elections closely remember John Thune defeating then Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle in 2004. However, since then Thune has somewhat flown under the radar.

Although he has not been as outspoken as some elected officials Thune has been a strong conservative. In 2009 (2010 ratings are not out yet) the American Conservative Union gave him a perfect rating. Only 10 Senators received the perfect rating, one of those being conservative rock star Jim DeMint.

I was honored to listen to Senator Thune speak at the 2009 Knox County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner. This was the first time I had heard him speak and I was very impressed. Initially what stands out about Thune is his appearance. First off he is 6′ 4” and  John McCain even jokingly said that if he had his face he would be president right now. But the best aspect of Thune is that he has substance to what he says. He comes across as intelligent but it’s not an elitist vernacular. Rather it is a confidence in American values that he exudes while speaking that make it easy to understand where he is coming from and where he stands.

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist David Brooks wrote a piece in 2009 about Thune and even he was impressed saying,

He says his prairie background has given him a preference for small companies and local government. When he criticizes the Democrats, it is for mixing big government with big business: the bailouts of Wall Street, the subsidies to the big auto and energy corporations. His populism is not angry. He doesn’t rail against the malefactors of wealth. But it’s there, a celebration of the small and local over the big and urban.

Senator Thune has recently been picking up momentum in the national media. Last week ABC News did a profile on his chances in 2012, and Jill Lawrence wrote an excellent piece on the Senator from South Dakota just a few days ago where she mentioned that he might be a great presidential candidate because of what he has NOT done.

He wasn’t once a tobacco lobbyist (Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour). He isn’t a former governor who raised taxes (Mike Huckabee of Arkansas) or signed a health law similar to “Obamacare” (Mitt Romney of Massachusetts) or quit halfway through (Sarah Palin of Alaska) or seems boring (Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota). He hasn’t had three wives and a widely publicized extramarital affair (former House speaker Newt Gingrich).

A big question I have about Thune is whether he will have enough money to be a serious contender or not. Right now it is too early to tell but I think there are some encouraging early signs. In the 2010 year-end fundraising period he came in tied for fourth in total money raised. Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Rick Santorum were all ahead of him and he was tied with Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN). I find this very interesting because all of these other potential candidates have been unofficially running and speaking in early primary states. Also, the three ahead of Thune do not currently hold a political office. Although Thune is fourth his numbers are far lower than the three above him, but I believe if he were trying to raise a great deal of money than his numbers would be competitive with Romney, Palin, and Santorum.

According to Lawrence’s article he will decide on whether to run or not by the end of February. I for one hopes he decides to take the plunge.