Ok, I couldn’t help myself. All of this coverage on the new Batman movie, the Aurora, CO shootings, and the mass hysterical reaction to the whole thing is quite an insight into how politics and the media works. A perfect example of this is the partisan radio host Rush Limbaugh. In my previous post, I mentioned how Rush Limbaugh was quoted before the movie was released as saying, “Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious fire-breathing four-eyed whatever it is villain in this movie is named Bane?” He was speaking of Mitt Romney’s company Bain, which has been a democratic chanting point in this election. according the the Washington Examiner, some democrats were hoping the subliminal message would be that Bane (Bain) is evil and the superhero is good, again without context that Bane was a character almost 20 years before this election.
Now, Rush has come out saying Batman is more like Romney. He points out the fact that Batman is rich and fighting someone who doesn’t look as desirable and then compares them to people protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement. He then later in the show goes back and says he still think it was a setup for the Obama campaign. What I find amazing is in the Washington Examiner, senior editorial writer Philip Klein had already made that statement days earlier. So it would appear that not only can Rush NOT make up his mind, he didn’t even have an original opinion on the matter.
I know it is Rush’s job to pick on the left and make the right look all lofty and mighty. It is the source of his ratings, and I’m sure at his core he believes only some of what he is saying. In order to build his radio show and to author books and build his brand, he must have at least some intelligence. What I hate is it is another example of where perhaps stepping away from the partisan politics at least on this subject makes the most sense in light of the recent events. Maybe Rush should wield his audience for good by starting a Rush Limbaugh Aurora Colorado victims fund that he could jump-start with a donation of his own and allow his audience to contribute as well. Those kids left behind are going to need help. This would be a time to leave a subject rest and help those victims.
Sorry Rush, but the more you talk about Batman, the more of a fool you appear to be.
I’ve been reflecting on what I was thinking and how I felt when I found out Osama bin Laden was dead. Some of the positives are straightforward. He was an evil person, leading a group set on doing evil against the United States. He was the mastermind behind the horrific attack on our country on 9/11/2001. It certainly brings closure to many of the family members of those lost on 9/11. However, there are some other issues that are not so clear.
One political argument that arose almost immediately was who should get credit for this. Liberal media and bloggers said President Obama should be praised for his increased effort in Afghanistan. MSNBC was first to mention the “Mission Accomplished” anniversary even before the President spoke that night. Liberal bloggers were also relentless when the Fox News ticker came across with the error of saying “Obama bin Laden” and called immediately for an apology. Conservative media really stretched to find any connection to President Bush, defending all of the decisions he made after 9/11. Once again, both sides missed the point.
To address the ticker error, it is simply explained by auto-correct. I am sure we’ve all come across the more humorous results of auto-correct. Auto-correct works by predicting what you are going to type or what you meant to type based on what you’ve typed in the past and also on common misspelled words. Osama bin Laden had been quiet on the news for months now, where as it is pretty common for the President to be in the news. The “Obama bin Laden” error was just that, an error due to auto-correct. The same thing happened to liberal actor Jason Alexander on Twitter. I don’t recall any liberal blogs demanding an apology from him.
Where does the credit belong? Truly, it belongs to those intelligence agents and special forces troops that found him and killed him. However, the leadership for those organizations is in Washington DC. In my personal opinion, I think President Bush and President Obama deserve equal credit. This is because President Bush brought in Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense in 2006. Robert Gates is widely respected for his work in intelligence, the military, and education. Like any politician, he wasn’t without controversy, but obviously was respected enough that President Obama kept Gates on as Secretary of Defense in his administration. The war on terror is a fluid operation. I can’t imagine We have 50,000+ troops in Afghanistan to find one person. President Obama saw an opportunity and chose to act on it, but I don’t think Osama bin Laden was his sole focus.
I also wonder how much did this really help to secure America. Our war on terror has been focused in Afghanistan and Iraq. We know threats come from all areas of the Middle East, as well as threats from North Korea and even unrest in Mexico. It would be impossible to track down every crazy around the world that wants to cause harm to the United States. We can’t even find all the crazies here. In 2009, there were over 1,000 murders in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago alone. About 3,000 people died in the attacks of 9/11. Here’s my point. The defense budget is just about $1 trillion NOT including supplemental spnding for Iraq and Afghanistan. If we brought the troops home and reduced the defense spending, we could not only reduce the deficit but increase our ability to stop crime AND terrorism at home. Let’s say we reduced the Pentagon budget by $500 billion and put $250 billion into law enforcement. If a new police officer cost $100,000 per year, we could hire 2.5 million new police officers. Imagine if we had an extra 50,000 police officers in every state what we could do to fight crime and watch for terrorism. I’m not saying it is the right answer, but I just wonder if our current policy is giving us the best benefit and if there would be ways to be more efficient and yet keep us safer than we are now.
One other thought on the war on terror and our actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Kosovo, and all of the places we exert our military might – do we want to give the President so much power? Every single person should watch this video from Penn Jillette (warning: his language can be a little crude, but he is very logical and I thoroughly enjoy his intelligent rhetoric). He explains the danger of giving the government too much power, taxes, etc. To summarize, he says that even if every single decision and policy of President Obama is right and good, at some point he will no longer be in office. The next President my use that power for things not so right or good or for things we won’t like. It is a delicate balance, but the past few Presidents have gone far above and beyond the reach of power they were intended to have and we need to reign it in.
What I do know is we now have an opportunity to change policy now that we can close the door on Osama bin Laden. I think it is time the U.S. reduces its footprint in the world. We can better fight terrorism right here at home, with less use of the military and more use of technology. This would have additional benefits of saving money and may even keep us safer (terrorists have pointed to the imperialistic nature of the United States for the last 50 years or so as one of the reasons they despise us and twisted words of the Quran to incite violence against us). Let’s thank our troops, credit all of our leaders past and present for their role in protecting our freedom, and let’s find new and better ways to protect that freedom going forward.
While serious issues get pushed to the back burner, it is obvious that the presidential campaign is underway as Donald Trump makes a fool of himself and President Obama uses his office to start countering political campaigns. I know mud-slinging and misinformation have been a part of campaigns since elections have been held, but the modern main-stream media really adds fuel to the fire. Has anyone ever heard of research. I start to wonder if media has any journalists left, or if they all are simply reporters. Political blogs are even worse. One egregious example is from a progressive blogger who tweeted, “When will [Michele Bachmann] produce her birth certificate and prove she’s from this planet?” Honestly? I don’t agree with Representative Bachmann on many things, including the fact she questioned President Obama’s birth certificate. Or there is this article asking Sarah Palin to produce her college papers. I think she is completely misguided and then tries to distract people by saying “Don’t let the White House distract you from real issues.” Then look at the “@” replies to her tweet. The political rhetoric is so childish it sickens me. This kind of childish rhetoric degrades the political conversation and provides no platform for compromise or discussion.
Let me get out a few facts about the “Birther” conspiracy. The people pushing need to understand the purpose of the “natural born Citizen” clause as stated in our Constitution. It was meant to prevent a dual loyalty, i.e. to prevent someone from making decisions that would benefit another country over our own. All presidents go through an extensive process within their respective parties, so any doubt as to a person’s loyalty would be exposed long before any election. The electors in the Electoral College also provide a buffer (albeit weak) to preventing a rogue candidate from being elected. This was one of the reasons the Electoral College was set up in the first place, because the Founding Fathers knew a pure democracy would never survive. Instead they set up a democratic republic – so if someone ever tries to tell you we are a democracy, make sure to tell them they are wrong. By having a “filtered majority,” we prevent mob rule and in a sense gain more control over our government.
Neither party seems to get it, because as the Republicans go after President Obama over his birth certificate, this Democratic blog seems to think the Constitution mandates the President to make us a moral beacon in the world. They are right that the job of the President is to “…preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution…,” but even our first President warned us to stay out of foreign entanglements. There are people in the world who don’t believe in the freedom we have in our country, and we can’t force them to change their mind. The President’s job is to make sure we always have our freedom here. It ends at our borders.
So, in the worst-case scenario someone were to be elected that was not a “natural born Citizen,” we would still have options. It would be obvious rather quickly if an executive was granting favors to a particular country or set of countries. The President can’t make law. Even the President’s ability to make war is a bit more limited since the Korean and Vietnam conflicts brought up the whole issue of a declaration of war. If the President were to be caught showing dual loyalty, he could be impeached by the House and brought to trial in the Senate. There are even mechanisms in place for the Vice President to take over temporarily if the President is thought to have lost his capacity to lead. We have a pretty good system to prevent a rogue President.
With President Obama specifically, conservatives really just need to stop. Use some logic. First, President Obama has hardly deviated at all from President Bush’s policies of spending and war-making. So, how is it that President Obama’s policies could be construed as anti-American? Second, let’s just say the “birther” campaign were to be successful, then we would get Joe Biden as President? Is his policy going to be that much different?
The bottom line on the “birther” issue is that it is pretty clear President Obama was born in Hawaii. Perhaps the information is not perfectly crystal clear, but I don’t think his loyalty is in question. If anything, it should show us that we need to improve our documentation of all people in the United States to prevent terrorism, identity theft, medical records, etc. There is a whole host of things that cold be improved if we came up with better ways to document, identify, and protect individuals. It also should show us that the “natural born Citizen” clause, along with the 14th amendment, should be reexamined and clarified.
One other campaign issue that is in full swing is the economy. Here again, both sides need to get off their power trip. A hardcore, left-wing website claims that Greece’s austerity measures have worsened their economy. There is a basic rule in any scientific study which is: Correlation does not equal causation. So Greece’s economy got worse, and it just so happens that Greece cut government spending, so it must be that reduction in spending that caused the economy to worsen. It’s not true. Think of it this way: If government spending could improve the economy ad infinitum, why doesn’t the government simply spend more? Does anyone really think that if the United States government doubled its spending that the economy would rocket off into massive growth?
The Democrats started with the mistake of stating that the economy would instantly improve if the stimulus plan was passed. Joe Biden promised that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8% (it currently sits at about 8.8%). The Republicans are saying if we don’t cut spending and reform entitlements immediately that the U.S. will fall off a cliff. Is there anyone who can inject a dose of reality? They are even going so far as to say that spending cuts and lower taxes would immediately jump-start the economy. The Republicans also point to President Reagan’s tax cuts as a key driver to the economic boom in the 1980s that doubled the federal revenue. Although there is some evidence that is true, further supported by cuts in the 1920s and 1960s, tax policy alone doesn’t drive the economy.
The reality is there is a limit to how much revenue our government can collect and still be within the bounds of a free society. We have to understand there is a balance to taxation and freedom, and if taxes are too low or too high we put that freedom in jeopardy. In fact, the Reagan tax cuts actually made tax collections more progressive, i.e. the rich paid more as a percentage of tax revenues while the bottom 50% paid less. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon said of high taxes:
The history of taxation shows that taxes which are inherently excessive are not paid. The high rates inevitably put pressure upon the taxpayer to withdraw his capital from productive business and invest it in tax-exempt securities or to find other lawful methods of avoiding the realization of taxable income. The result is that the sources of taxation are drying up; wealth is failing to carry its share of the tax burden; and capital is being diverted into channels which yield neither revenue to the Government nor profit to the people.
Note: Link above is to another blog essay that has a nice mathematical example of balancing taxes with the freedom to invest.
We can’t keep spending at current levels, but we can’t just slash and burn without some thought into how to soften the landing. Tax policy, economic policy (i.e. the federal reserve and government borrowing), business regulation, personal freedom, and every other aspect of government affect the economy. We need reasonable taxes and regulation and a reasonable safety net combined with a large level of personal responsibility. The current major parties only want their own small part of that policy. It’s time they expand their minds. Whoever does it first will be getting my vote in 2012.