Giuliani, Princess of the Nanny State

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C.T.
Well, back from the New Year celebration, so, it is time to get back to business. Recently, I posted an article called Provocateuring, Critical Thinking, and Fred Thompson. It was a response and analysis of how the author made his judgments about reviews conservatives gave other conservatives, how he drew his conclusion to support Rudy Giuliani, and his confused and almost hypocritical opinion of Fred Thompson supporters. I believe I was as fair as possible trying not to let my support of Fred Thompson get in the way of the point I was trying to make. Understandably, it crept in. But, it is very difficult not to let logic flow into an argument when you feel the opposing person is relying strictly on opinion and baseless facts. Here are some fine of examples of all that glitters is usually not gold.

First assumption, "First, if we are to believe you, Rudy's plethora of accomplishments as mayor are to be ignored because the city he runs is in YOUR OPINION too much like a nanny state. Do you have any idea how ironic it is to call the center of the world's CAPITALISM, the home of the biggest and most successful market, the place where every pure capitalist wants to end up, too much like a nanny state? "

Now, New York is indeed the center of capitalism. But there is only one link between the CAPITALISM, that goes on in places like Wall Street and the local city government. It is the that tax base Wall Street provides to fund the over bloated government. I remembered an article that I read from the CATO Institute, an "obscure website with Libertarian biased," as I am sure the author will refer to it.

The institute did a study of Mayor Bloomberg and the problems with New York city and its overburdened city government. Much of the statistical analysis drew back as far as the early days of Giuliani's administration.








Between FY94 and FY04, New York’s general fund spending increased 53 percent. [1]


New York City’s gross debt increased from $26.1 billion in FY93 to $47.8 billion in FY03, an 83 percent jump. [1]




In 2002, New York’s debt of $5,083 per person was more than double the 14-city average of $2,262. [1]


Take note of the dates, according to Figure 1, on page 3 of the document from FY 94 to FY 2001, the majority of Giuliani's term in office. The budget of New York increased from around $31 billion to $41 billion. There were only two years reflecting a balance between Gross Debt and General Funding Expenditures was 1996-98. These numbers represent a trend on carrying massive debt even long before the 9-11 tragedy.

Giuliani and tax reform. The former mayor often portrays himself as a "tax cutting" Republican. While this is essentially true, he is no "tax reforming" Republican.






"New York not only imposes traditional local taxes, such as property taxes,it also imposes taxes that are usually the preserve of state governments. New York City has a property tax, a sales tax, a personal income tax, a corporate income tax, and an unincorporated business tax." [1]




New York's taxes are 79 percent higher than in other large cities, though only 17 percent higher than in Philadelphia, the next most heavily taxed city; using our approach, New York taxes are 352 percent above those in other big cities,and 240 percent above Philadelphia's. [2] (City Journal Article from Spring 2000)


This average has not changed, in fact, it has only gotten worse under Mayor Bloomberg. Giuliani did nothing to eliminate taxes, did nothing to control the city's outrageous spending, and did nothing to assist the average New Yorker with their debt load. Yeah, sounds like a fiscal conservative to me.

Mr Volpe's next question was, "How is NYC too much like a nanny state, and more importantly how is it anymore of a nanny state than the entire United States?" Well, please sit back and enjoy the ride. First, take into account the high tax rates, the insane government spending on nothing, the debt per capita , and these examples and you have a Nanny State that doesn't give you much back.





The City of New York has a notoriously expensive and inflexible workforce. The city has 224,000 municipal workers, including 90,000 in the public schools and 46,000 in police and fire services. [1]





New York City compensation costs including wages, benefits, and pensions were $24.4 billion in FY04, which represents half of the city’s $47.8 billion budget. [1]






The city’s Department of Corrections is also ripe for reforms. Between FY92 and FY02,the average daily inmate population in the city well by 35 percent. But over the same period, expenditures increased by 16 percent. [1]






The number of New York City residents on welfare (Temporary Assistancefor Needy Families) has been cut in half since 1996. The share of the city’s population on welfare has fallen from a high of 16 percent to about 5 percent today.[1]


but,





From FY96 to FY03, Department of Social Services expenditures fell from $7.3 billion to $6.1 billion. But a new administration for Children’s Services was created in FY97, and its budget soared from $1.4 billion the first year to $2.3 billion by FY03. Total social services spending increased from $7.9 billion in FY96 to $9.3 billion in FY03. [1]








Medicaid spending accounted for 31 percent of personal health care spending in New York in 1998 compared to 16 percent nationwide. [1]






New York City’s Medicaid costs are expected to increase 49 percent between FY 2000 and FY05. [1]



Do I really need to go on?

Forget my disagreements with the Mayor on the 2nd Amendment and abortion, his fiscal policies are egregious. Although, I must give Giuliani credit on cleaning the city up. But again how does that prove to me he is a great candidate for President, or even a leader? (hint, hint, Attorney General) Economics, tax burdens, government graft, debt, fiscal responsibility, etc. are just some of the problems we are facing as a country. Giuliani, as mayor, did nothing that really addressed these issues in New York. How am I to conclude that he would not fore go them as President? Looking at the big picture I can understand why Mr. Volpe did not mention anything about the Mayor's fiscal policies.


Finally, I could pontificate about all of the other inane comments that were passed off as logic, but that would take about three or four more posts. Remember, use your resources, think through your candidate, and do some educated voting. You can't go wrong.

C.T.

P.S. Happy New Year and remember a new year means new beginnings. Use this chance wisely.

[1]
Cato Institute, Budget Reforms to Solve New York City’s High-Tax Crisis, Aug. 17Th, 2004

[2]
City Journal, Taxopolis, Spring 2000



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Provocateuring, Critical Thinking, and Fred Thompson

3 comments

C.T.
I was cruising RCP reading some of the articles submitted by amateurs, such as myself. There is a surprising amount of insight in many of them. There was one in particular that jumped out at me. It was written by Mike Volpe, at his website "The Provocateur" here on Blogspot. It's a fairly concise post titled
Right Blogoshpehere Demeans, Distorts, and Demagogues vis a vis Fred Thompson. , nicely written, but here's where I had some problems with it.

Mr. Volpe first takes issue of right wing blogs "attacking" the different conservative candidates. I.E. Michelle Malkin on Huckabee, McCain, and Giuliani with illegal immigration, and Rick Moran of the Right Wing Nuthhouse's review of Mike Huckabee. He goes on to say,"Now, I couldn't believe how scathing this piece was. After all, even if you don't support Huckabee, why would a fellow conservative treat him with such venom?"
[1]
My response was,"Huh?" Agreed, not the smartest thing I could have come up with, but can you understand my confusion? This is just the primary season, it is the time when the ranks of the party divide into perspective camps. From centrists, to far right wingers, and everything in between. Why WOULDN'T there be criticism and scathing reviews by people who do not support these other candidates. This is politics, there are no niceties, it is all out war. If a candidate cannot take issue from his or her own party then how will they fair against their real competition? Beyond that, how will he face up to the realities of the world and the enemies this country has?

We are conservatives, some moderate, some extreme, but in the end conservatives. We tout ourselves as the one's who use reason and intellect, not feel good tactics. If you follow the conservative dogma, then you will use your cognizance to determine your candidate. Trying to convince others that he is in fact the man for President. If you are and worried about people attacking your candidate's political record then I suggest you find a party that likes sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya, holding hands, and eating marshmallows. By my definition that is not the conservative Republican party.

The next line that, naturally, caught my eye was this, "The fact is that most of the candidates, short of Fred Thompson, have at one time or another been treated with unbelievably venom on the right blogosphere."
[1] Absolutely, couldn't agree more. This is mainly because right wing bloggers tend to be fervent conservatives. Now, this, is in fact, a matter of opinion and I have no hard data to back up this claim. The blogs I read, mostly have a favorable review of Senator Thompson's record as a conservative. This does not mean they support him, it just means they like most of his politics. If they did not support him I would not whine about it. If he comes under attack I will defend him based on his record. As I have already pointed out, this is the nature of the primaries.

This next part really had me scratching my head. Mr. Volpe states, "Therein lies the rub. Thompson has no record. He served undistinguished in the Senate for a few years. Big deal. That is why I would never support him. To me, a few years as an undistinguished Senator doesn't qualify anyone for the most powerful office in the world. I could care less what their position on anything is. Anyone's record is easy to attack. That's if they have a record. Thompson has no record. He only has campaign promises." Interesting, because by my analysis he has a record and it is not an easy one to attack. Do a Google search on any of his issues he voted on and cross reference it against his campaign promises. It will give you a clearer picture of what the Senator stands for. Now, with that in mind. Does a lack of air time qualify a person as having no record or being undistinguished? I would say not. In fact the opposite is true. If a candidate is out there just buying up camera time, it is simply to get their face into everyone's head. Marketing 101. That is not an automatic pass for their stances on issues nor does it lend any depth to their campaign.

Mr. Volpe also had this to say, "To me, a few years as an undistinguished Senator doesn't qualify anyone for the most powerful office in the world."
[1] What qualifies Giuliani? Why is he so special? He was Associate Deputy Attorney General and chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Harold "Ace" Tyler during the Ford administration. In the Reagan administration he was named Associate Attorney General, the third-highest position in the Department of Justice. He was a mayor, albeit of a very large city, 8.2 million people. He cleaned up the city, lowered some taxes, and made New Yorkers feel good about being New Yorkers again. That's nice. Where does any of this qualify him to be this nation's President? Sounds to me like he would make a great Attorney General. He also has some notoriety with his name. If that is a qualifier for President than let's vote in Paris Hilton. In contrast look at Thompson's federal record. First off he was a Senator, obviously. But while serving he was a member and Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, for eight years was a member of the Finance Committee, and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Early in his career he was also minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee and assistant United States attorney in Nashville. Thompson has a vast record on fighting government waste and abuse, lowering taxes, and a plethora of experience in dealing with national security problems. Uh-oh, this looks like a political record and one that might qualify him as a feasible nominee for President.

Now the above paragraph is not intent on comparing Giuliani to Thompson, or even to state that Thompson is better suited to be the Republican nominee. This is just an example of some of the procedures that I used to conclude my support for the Senator. Before his arrival on the primary scene I was going to put my support in with Giuliani. I realized, upon investigation of his past and his attitude toward politics I was going to have to make some concessions with my philosophies. Then Thompson came along. The evidence I drew from showed me, that as a conservative, his ideology is the closest to mine.

Next problem I have with Mr. Volpe's opinion is how he draws his conclusions, "No one even comes close to Rudy in terms of the things I am looking for and thus a deep analysis of anyone's record is unnecessary."
[1] Okay, he has followed his career, he knows alot about Giuliani and his policies, again, that's nice. Where is the application of critical thought? What does he really know about the other candidates? Is it better to sit with your head in the sand and just go with the status quo? Or, see how your candidate matches up against the issues and other potential nominees? It is okay to be in a "comfort zone" with your candidate. But is sounds like this is an emotional choice rather than a logical one, which in my opinion is both irresponsible and faulty.

Mr. Volpe goes on, "The same cannot be said of Thompson supporters. Every single other candidate's record has been hyper analyzed by Thompson supporters for any hint of something that they would consider unforgivable."
[1] Yes, their records have been hyper analyzed and good on the Thompson supporters for doing it. Most of the them came to their conclusions based on his record versus the records of the other candidates. They have educated themselves in the a murky sea of political diatribe and drawn a logical assessment of what they want in a candidate. Did I miss the memo that questioning the viability and claims made by a nominee is a bad thing now? I was not aware we had gone to listening to the idiot box, the MSM, or the taking a candidate at his or her word as the only source of information.

"That seems to be the conventional wisdom on the right blogosphere over the last few weeks. The Thompson campaign would be doing better if only the MSM gave him a fair shake. What a bunch of nonsense? Since when did the MSM ever decide a Republican primary?"
[1] I do have an issue with this, not because there is some vast left wing MSM conspiracy against Thompson. But is it not out of the realm of possibility that because the Senator is so conservative, they do not want to touch him with a ten foot pole. If I were a Democratic strategist, I would use my contacts in the MSM and try to manipulate the field to get a Republican nominated that I know that I could beat. It would be politically naive and reprehensible to think that this sort of thing does not happen. Look at the list of Clinton plants, Perot back in the 90's, and even Nader, to some point, in the 2000's. Now, I am not just saying it is the Dems who solely practice the art of dirty politics. Republicans have demonstrated that they are more than capable of this mischief, as well.

In closing this dissertation of a post I will say. This has not been a personal attack on Mr Volpe. This has been a critique of his post, his conclusions, and how he arrived at them. As always, I will try and leave you with this, use your cognitive abilities, study the empirical data, do not just jump to conclusions. There is a vast amount of information out there on any potential candidate. The true challenge is wading through the muck and mire to get to some sort of semblance of the truth.
C.T.
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GOP's Last Man Pandering

3 comments
C.T.
In an article written by the notorious Prince of Darkness, Robert Novak, he states that Jon McCain is poised to win the Republican nomination in the primaries. He states that McCain is viewed by "canny Republican professionals" to be the best bet to beat the Democratic nominee in the general election.




Sen. John McCain, given up for dead a few weeks ago as he ran a cash-starved, disorganized campaign, today is viewed by canny Republican professionals as the best bet to win the party's presidential nomination. What's more, they consider him their most realistic prospect to buck the overall Democratic tide and win the general election. [1]






C.T.
My first problem is my impression of Novak, now this is a completely personal opinion. I think, like most conservative and liberal writers, he is tired and out of step. Novak, has been around the Washington insiders way to long. Who are these canny Republican professionals? Can we have some names and credentials? Is he channeling the spirits of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater? Or are these the same "professionals" who lost Congress to the Democratic sweep in 06', the same professionals who have mismanaged our military efforts in Iraq, the same professionals who abandoned fiscal conservatism.

Senator McCain does lead Hillary Clinton in the latest polls put out by Rasmussen. Rasmussen shows McCain leading Hillary by +6%, but shows Giuliani +1% against Hillary, and Romney +1% against Hillary, also. Now this would be great if we were close to Super Tuesday and knew for sure that Hillary was the nominee. The Democratic primary is almost as uncertain as the Republican. Hillary is constantly slashing her own throat while Obama is sitting in the wings playing nice guy. That could bode well for him as we get further into the primaries. With this in mind, McCain is only ahead of Obama by +1% and is actually getting stomped by Edwards by +7%. Now if Hillary does get the nomination where do you think the majority of that 7%is going to throw their support? Let's not count out the fact that Senator from Arizona has a very definable reputation a RINO with the Republican constituency. Huckabee is viewed as Conservative by 43% and McCain moderate by 45%. Huckabee also leads nationally with 20% while McCain is -6% behind him. If McCain does win the primary, I feel, most of the ardent conservatives will probably not vote in the general election. This will be done to "send a message to the Republican powers" to field a more conservative candidate. This is another factor which will go against McCain, if he receives the Republican nomination.

Novak goes on to say,



This scenario does not connote a late-blooming affection for McCain among the party faithful. Indeed, he remains suspect to them on global warming, stem cell research, tax policy and immigration controls, not to mention his original sin of campaign finance reform (with authorship of the McCain-Feingold Act). Rather, his nomination would result from him being the last man standing, with all other candidates falling. Rudy Giuliani's baggage is getting too heavy to carry.[1]


So, we should pretty much hold our noses and vote for McCain because he is not a Democrat, or so the Senator would have us think. Novak does make the observation that McCain is not going to make it to the general election because of likability among Republicans. Rather on the weakness and the baggage of the other candidates. His viewpoint is very incorrect, cynical, and distorted. Hence, why he was nicknamed the "Prince of Darkness" in his early years.(Ozzie might have some contention with that label though.) I think that average conservatives will make a move that will surprise the media and the insiders in Washington. The time is ripe for a change, people want politics returned to them, not dictated.

My advice to Mr. Novak is this. Get back out there with the blue and gray collared men and women, do not rely on the so-called pundits. Keep your affiliations with those of us that make less than $100,000 a year. Listen to the constituency about what they want and need, do not try and assume to understand them. You might be surprised by their observations and ideas on what they want from a candidate. Then write about it.

To you the voter I offer you this. This is no longer about Liberal or Conservative, it is about changing the status quo. The polarization has got to end, we are all disenfranchised. Think about your candidate, do some research. Look at voting records, compare that to what they are saying now. Find the candidate who best fits your heart and intellect and offers what you deem is best for the country, then vote.


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More Omni-Bull, the Air-Dropped Earmark Saga

0 comments

C.T.
Let me start my rant with this. I guess I am what you call a true right wing, red to the bone, conservative of Burkean proportions. I am no RINO (Republican In Name Only), no where near a centrist, no where near a liberal, some might even say, no where near a Republican. Despite all that, I would hope that every person wearing any of the titles I mentioned above would be able to find common ground with me on this abusive, non-regulated spending that Congress has been up to for qutie sometime. I have just read through an article by Marc Sheppard, a contributor at the New Media Journal.us. Mr. Sheppard concentrated on the almost inane comments and claims of the illustrious Senate Majority Leader, Dingy Harry Reid.
[1] I'm staying away from criticizing ole' Dingy or the Democrat Party. In my opinion, he is just the mouth piece for Congress, party affiliation has nothing to do with this one. What concerns me the most is the information about air-dropped earmaks. This is a relatively new term which came into existence about a year ago.

According to Brad Dayspring, a poster at the Republican Study Committee Blog, an air-dropped earmark by definition is “secretly inserted in back room negotiations between House and Senate appropriators. This means that these specific earmarks were not passed by either the House or Senate during previous consideration of spending bills, were not subject to a point of order, amendment or debate on the floor of either body questioning their merit.”
[2] By my laymans understanding, if no legislative consideration is given to these appropriations, then they are illegal and amount to "taxation without representation."

Senator Reid went on to make this odd statement,




“We worked very hard on this bill. And any piece of legislation that we deal with, any appropriation bill, there are earmarks the president has. That's part of the deal.”

With no one in the gallery standing to challenge the peculiar gaffe, the Senate leader went on to suggest that Congressional pork was therefore necessary because “[the president] should not have total control over the appropriation process.” And, lest anyone in the crowd remain anywhere short of thoroughly bewildered, he added:

“So all this airdropping stuff--this is a new term that has just come recently. We followed the rules. No one raised a point of order when it was in the Senate.”
[1]


C.T.
Basically, Senator Reid is making excuses. The President can make backdoor appropriations, so why can’t they? I hear this all the time from my kids, "Why can’t I do it if my brother is? It’s not fair!" Give me a break, this is what our elected officials are reduced to? They now possess a play ground mentality when it comes to our money? Congress, simply put, is trying to mask this blatantly immoral and adult mischief with juvenile rebuffs.

It is way passed time for the Congress and the President to stop playing games with our futures. They have obviously proven they are not capable of being adults and continuously try and pander to the American voting block with excuses rather than full disclosure and accountability of their actions.

Yes there is more. President Bush set a cap on the budget at 932 billion dollars. Well wait till you hear this one.




In fact, though, Congress used budget gimmicks and loopholes to fudge the numbers. Meanwhile, Senators and representatives piled on the pork by earmarking billions to more than 11,300 of their pet projects. Result: Lawmakers approved a bill that actually puts the government more than $20 billion over budget. [3]


Then this,




Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid both recently dismissed a larger amount, $23 billion, as a “small difference” with the president.House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey(D-Wisc.)shrugged it off as “table scraps.” [3]


Table scraps eh? Roughly, half the worth of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. This goes beyond partisan politics; this is about the accountability of the legislative and executive branches. If you are interested in a partisan slant, I highly recommend Mr. Sheppard’s article.

Coupling the childish mentality, described earlier, and the laissez-faire attitude towards this "small difference" amounts to a sad representation of the people we have sent to our legislative branch. This does not bode well for them. Is it any wonder Congress’ approval rating is in the toilet?

[1]
New Media Journal

[2] Republican Study Committee Blog

[3]
Heritage Foundation
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Merry X-mas

2 comments

Well this is it for the night, my head hurts from all that Omnibus junk. Geez, talk about overtly complicated, at least for an idjit like me. Anyways have a wonderful and Merry Christmas. Remember, it is one the day of the year where the best in most of us comes out. Try and keep it that way always. It is the best birthday gift you could give Christ.

Merry Christmas to you and yours
and God Bless.

C.T.
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Omnibus, The Worst Christmas Present Congress Could Give.

0 comments

C.T.
What is an Omnibus? An Omnibus spending bill sets the budget for each department of the government all at once. Keep in mind it is just one possible outcome for the budgeting process. Every year Congress must pass individual bills for appropriations funding each department of the government that receives its stipend from discretionary spending. Ex. One bill for the D.O.D, one for the D.O.E., etc. When Congress cannot produce these individual appropriation bills they will group them together into one Omnibus spending bill.
Problem with the Omnibus spending bills is that they are inherently full of pork barrel spending and are often thousands of pages long. Well,the typical American may ask, "How does this effect me?" I am glad you asked.
This years Omnibus spending bill is 3,417 pages long, contains 11,331 earmarks costing the American taxpayer about $20 billion. According to Brian M. Riedi, The Heritage Foundation's lead budget analyst, the President and Democratic congressional leaders promised to cut the number of earmarks to half of what they were in 2005.
Earlier this year, President Bush and Democratic congressional leaders pledged to cut the number of pork projects in half--from the 2005 peak of 13,492 to 6,746.[1]

C.T.
Much of the problem concerning the Omnibull..er..Omnibus is the earmarks. In the past the government grants would be distributed to state and local governments through formulas or to specific groups through an in-place competitive application process.
[1] Well, not anymore. Congress now, through some mutated form of the legislative process, is the final word on who receives the government grant by earmarking it for a specific group. This is where the "pork barrel" spending comes in. This means that each congressional member has his own personal account with which he/she can fund their own pet projects, or through the lobbying community auction off their grant money to highest bidder. The return for the congressional member is in the form of campaign contributions or a "public donation." As Mr. Riedi points out earmarks are outside of governmental accountability due to the fact that they are not subject to any application process. They very rarely get audited and the result is they are misappropriated.

Here are some fine examples of earmarks set out in the Omnibus spending bill.
[2]
-$100 million for security at the upcoming political conventions even though it is widely known that presidential elections happen every four years.

-$602 million for crop disaster assistance and livestock assistance despite the fact that farmers had record incomes last year.

-The Charles Rangel "Monument to Me." ($1.95 million)(I love this one)
-Rodent control in Alaska. ($113,000)

-Olive fruit fly research in France. ($213,000)

-A river walk in Massachusetts.($1 million) (Isn't this what local taxes are for?)

-The Advanced Technology Program, which provides research grants to mostly Fortune 500 companies including IBM, 3M, and General Electric, received $65 million in the omnibus.(i.e corporate welfare Oh, and Congress de-authorized this earlier in the year.)

-$20 million increase for the National Endowment of the Arts

-$3.7 million in non-competitive grants to the AFL-CIO

-$16 million for a new House office building although the House already has four office buildings and the Capitol Visitors Center has not been completed.


Mr. Riedi has this to say about reforming earmarks.
Eliminating earmarks would not reduce FY 2008 grant spending, but it would ensure that grants are distributed by merit rather than politics and would stifle the enormous appetite for federal largess. Worthy projects should have no trouble securing funding based on merit; only the unworthy projects would lose funding.[1]

C.T.
I disagree. Rather than reforming the process, phase it out all together. Some of the problems that cause Congress to use this Omnibus is partisan disagreement, party infighting, and Congress's inability to form a budget in a timely manner. Since there seems to be no auditing process in place then there is no way to actually estimate the amount of money being spent uselessly. Do not allow Congress the ability to create earmarks to the budget after the fact. Make them do their jobs and form the budget in a timely manner. If their is still a necessity for such a program as governmental grants, bring back the competitive application process with a timeline stipulation. If the application is not filed by a certain date, then it will not be considered for that fiscal year's budget. $20 billion dollars may not be much when to Congress when you consider the size of the overall budget of the United States. But, if this program exists and accounts for this much abuse, then how many other ones are there without any auditing system in place. This may not solve all of America's woes but it sure as hell is a start. Let's start making the President and Congress, in particular, accountable for their spending habits. I'm not dipping into their bank accounts. Buying my friends and family gifts for Christmas with their money. So why should they do that to us?

Two great articles from the Heritage Foundation which I drew from for this post. I highly suggest reading them.

[1]
Omnibus Earmarks Out: President Bush Should Cancel Congress's Pork Spending

[2]
Omnibusted: The Top 10 Worst Problems with the Omnibus Spending Bill
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Why Fred Thompson Is The Only Choice For America.

8 comments

C.T.
Well, this has been a very interesting year, at least for the Republicans. First, it is Rudy, then Mitt, now Huck, Paul is making waves in conspiracy corner, Tancredo dropping out, Hunter not getting any play whatsoever. Then there is Fred Thompson. According to the media he is Mr. Lackluster, unethusiastic, tired, and just plain lazy. For awhile I bought into the hype, until, I started reading about Sen. Thompson's attitude towards the media and his campaign, his regards for people's abilities and ingenuity, his plans for America as President, and his actual charisma.

My interest in Sen. Thompson truly peaked with this A.P. article
Thompson Will ' Campaign the Way I Want'. It was this particular part of the article that got me.

"Thompson described his trajectory from teenage father to factory worker to federal prosecutor to Watergate counsel and senator, saying, "If a man can do all that and be lazy, I recommend it to everybody."
There was also this.

"I've been to Florida three or four times," he said. "The mainstream media, with all due respect, likes to concentrate on the process game on a daily basis, and I can't get caught up in that. I'm going to do it the way I want to do it."
I noticed evidence of a spine, a man who does what he thinks is right, a man who is willing to take calculated risks. In other words a man who has the earmarks of a strong leader, not a manager.

Then there was this.
Thompson's Pick: Soldiers Over Lawmakers. Thompson is quoted as saying,

"It always is amazing to me that the average 20-year-old today serving in Iraq has a better understanding often times of our national security and what it takes than a 20-year veteran of Capitol Hill who is playing politics."
What I found great about this is that he, by default, is lumping himself in there with the rest of the veterans of politics on Capitol Hill. He demonstrates that he knows that for certain subjects there are certain experts. They may not always wear stars on their shoulders, be an elected official, or be Fred Thompson. Sometimes the grunt on the deck is the expert.

Finally, there was this, Thompson would give Americans a chance to use flat tax. A very comprehensive, simple, and well thought out tax plan. Up to this point, I was not aware of any other candidates offering such a all-inclusive plan for such a key issue.

With his stand in Iowa against a facist debate moderator and the No Hand Show, his ideas on illegal immigration, and his consistant gains in Iowa, Thompson is making a strong showing. His strategy and tactics for campaigning have become evident as smart, wise, and very well thought out. These to me are great indicators of Thompson's patience and dillegence and what type of President he would be.

Note: The purpose of this weblog is not to procure voters for Fred Thompson. Obviously, I make no contention of my support for him as a candidate for the office of President. In the spirit of the atmosphere I am trying to convey, I will keep the biased to a minimum and offer the best possible political analysis based on the facts at hand.
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Tightening the Noose on Iran

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Tightening the Noose on Iran
World Jeff Lukens, Featured Writer
November 22, 2007

Al-Qaeda has suffered a humiliating defeat in Iraq, and the Sunnis who were once allied with them now oppose them. We may be finally witnessing an historic change in a democratic Iraq that will have profound effects throughout the region. Democracy in the region, however, is not welcome by the leaders of Iran. In recent months, Iranian-supplied militias have been responsible for 70 percent of US casualties in Iraq. It is not surprising, therefore, that the focus of US military and diplomatic efforts in the region has now shifted to Iran.

C.T.
As a Westerner, it often perplexes me about Iran's continued involvement in Iraq and their incisive thumbing of their noses at the United States. This, strategically and tactically, is not a sound move. Forcing our hand militarily would be one of the greatest errors this non-secular dictatorship could make. In the world of realism there has been constant provocation by both sides (i.e. the United States and Iran) dating back as far as the 70's and further. Iran, was backed by the Soviets and we backed Iraq in the Iran/Iraq war. Plus, there was a great deal of interference in Iran's government by British and United States intelligence operatives as far back as the 50's. So, the point is is that both countries have had a long standing rivalry and a pattern of hostility. Many people like to mention the hostage situation of the late 70's and early 80's as the beginning of the modern day tensions between the two countries. In my opinion, this is simply not true. History has shown us that it was a symptom of a much deeper hatred that already had existed. These problems, like most in the Middle East, did not just pop up over night. This has been a long developing process that finds it's roots in post WW 1. The only problem is that the media coverage given to this continued "Cold War" has only caught the attention of the American population in the last 30-35 years.

The problem with Iran is multifaceted. We need an Iran that doesn't have the potential to build nukes, that doesn't support terrorism, and that doesn't destabilize Iraq. Iran's influence extends to significant Shiite communities on the western shore of the Persian Gulf. Iran's leaders could see the military weakness of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as an opportunity to take control of the entire Gulf. If that happened, roughly one-quarter of the world's oil-output would be under Teheran's control.

C.T.
The last sentence in this paragraph, for me, is the most troubling. Over the past 8-10 years, our Achilles' s heel has become more apparent to countries which could be considered very hostile to the United States. That is our consumer based economy and our dependency on oil. The basis of our economy is another argument, so for this I will only concentrate on the oil problem. At the beginning of the Iraq conflict there was an outcry by the anti war movements of no war for oil. Many people scoffed at them. But, inherently they were correct that the war in Iraq is about oil. Where they were wrong was that the war was not about exploitation of the oil but the protection of the it. American interests (i.e. oil) in the Middle East have been teetering for years. The Russians and the Chinese have been trying to gain a foothold in the region for a very long time. China is fast becoming one of the greatest consumers of oil and estimates have set them surpassing the United States in its consumption sometime around 2020-25. The Chinese are very forward thinking in certain areas. They know that in order to meet the supply they require they must gain, at worst, hospitable relationships with the Middle East. This seems to me to be the driving force behind American military involvement in the Middle East. To have an Iran that is friendly to China and hostile to the United States, then having China gain control of 1/4 of the oil in the world, whether through coercion or military take over, is unacceptable. This problem goes deeper than just influencing the daily lives or comfort of the average American. It actually will hit the core of our economy and could inevitably cause a catalyst that could wreck the very fabric of Western society. The solution? Military intervention is only a band aid fix. It will buy us time to get off of the Oil Drug. American genius and ingenuity should be focused on viable alternative energy sources. It should be paramount to our security agencies to move this agenda through the government. If we were to follow this road our security concerns would be greatly reduced and need to project our military power to protect American interests abroad would also depreciate.

Here is the full link to this article: Tightening the Noose on Iran

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