Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Here They Go Again

One month into a president’s tenure, the norm is for him to have approval ratings just over 60% and disapproval ratings of about 16%.  Right now, Barack Obama has been president for one month and his approval rating is 63% while his disapproval rating is 24%.  In other words, the percentage of people who approve of his performance is normal while the percentage who disapprove is much higher than normal. 


The usually liberal L.A. Times Top of the Ticket Blog deserves a lot of credit for pointing these numbers out.  However, the blog does not appear in the actual newspaper and is not identified on the home page of the L.A. Times’ web site…which brings us to the question of how the media is covering The Exalted One now that he is in office.


Recently the MSM has spent a lot of time reporting Obama’s approval numbers without bothering to mention their normalcy – and without reporting his disapproval numbers at all.  To those who are not independently knowledgeable about such matters (in other words, just about everybody) this gives the false impression that abnormally large numbers of people who are “in the know” think Obama is doing the right things. 


Do you think the MSM has a reason for wanting people to get that impression?  Don’t insult my intelligence by saying “no.”  They got Obama to the White House by crafting a phony image of him in people’s minds, and they will do everything they can to keep that image alive because they are already thinking of 2012.


And on a separate note, what on earth was Sean Penn talking about at the Oscars when he said he was proud to live in a country that elected an “elegant man” for president?  There’s nothing wrong with elegance, of course, but it has absolutely nothing to do with one’s qualifications for leadership.  We don’t elect presidents to dress in the finest suits and speak mellifluously while sipping Macallan Scotch in five-star hotels.  We elect them to make tough decisions, to stand down violent enemies, and to guide the ship of state through dangerous waters.  What does elegance have to do with any of that?

And lastly, this:  During the same speech in which he got mushy about Obama being elegant, Mr. Penn went out of his way to angrily condemn people who oppose gay marriage.  He even said that their grandchildren will look back on them with shame. Makes me wonder if Mr. Penn knows that Obama has gone on recod opposing gay marriage, or if he’s giving him a pass because he’s a Democrat.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Leader Like No Other

He is called The Father of Our Country.  Everybody knows the image of his face that was memorialized on the dollar bill, and everybody knows he was America’s first president.  Most people know he was a general in the Revolutionary War and that he led colonial troops to victory over the British.  But beyond that, few people know anything about George Washington, so with today being his 277th birthday, here are a few facts.


Though Washington was not born poor, he was also not born into the elite like most people assume.  He was 11 years old when his father died, and in his young adulthood he worked as a land surveyor.


Some 20 years before the Revolutionary War, Washington fought heroically for the British in the French and Indian War.


Based on his role as a brigadier general in the Monongahela Expedition of 1758, he is considered a major player in the founding of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Throughout the Revolutionary War his troops were greatly outnumbered and underequipped, and experienced defeat more often than triumph.  But his intelligence, especially as manifested in his knack for trickery and espionage, led the way to ultimate victory.  His crossing of the Delaware River is a classic example of him outwitting the enemy in the face of imminent disaster.


Washington became the nation’s first president after a unanimous vote of the electoral college in 1789.  He was so revered that many wanted him to be king, and he probably would have kept getting re-elected for as long as he sought re-election.  However, after finishing his second term he chose not to run again, because he thought that one man holding executive power for a long time ran counter to America’s founding principles and was not in America’s best interests.  This was an unprecedented abdication of power at the time, and its vivid example served to solidify the founding and put America’s limited-government experiment on the right course.


Modern day America-bashers like to denigrate Washington’s stature by pointing out that he owned slaves.  However, of the Founding Fathers who owned slaves, Washington was the only one to free them.  His will freed them (upon his wife’s death) and it established means by which they were provided for and given educations so they could become self-sufficient.


In the interest of getting information “straight from the horse’s mouth,” here are some of the things he wrote and said during his time on earth:


The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army…We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.


Discipline is the soul of an army.  It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.


To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.


The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.  But the Constitution which at any time exists, ’till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all…


There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation.


Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.


True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation.


I am embarked on a wide ocean, boundless in its prospects, and in which, perhaps, no safe harbor is to be found.


Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.


Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.


I look forward, with a kind of political faith, to scenes of national happiness, which have not heretofore been offered for the fruition of the most favored nations.  The natural, political, and moral circumstances of our nascent empire justify the anticipation.


I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event of one’s life, the foundation of happiness or misery.


’Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.


Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.


Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.


My manner of living is plain, a glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always ready, and such as will be content to partake of that are always welcome.


A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.


Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.  They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Wrongheaded Holiday

I intended to publish this post last week, but between having a job and preparing for the four-day camping trip we took over the weekend, I didn’t finish writing and proofreading it before it was time to go.  And now that Presidents’ Day has come and gone, it may not seem timely. 


But hey, the topic is still a hot one for me.  And when you consider that today is halfway between the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, it actually is timely.  So here it is:  I have a problem with the whole notion of Presidents’ Day.


When I was a youngster, every calendar in America noted Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12th and George Washington’s Birthday on February 22nd.  Those dates were observed as holidays should be:  By actually focusing on what it is that’s being commemorated.  The nation publicly honored Lincoln and Washington, with many people openly contemplating how the deeds of the two statesmen continue to enrich lives many years after they died.  Their lives were discussed at length in the nation’s schools.


Back then, we heard little about Presidents’ Day even though it received legislative designation the year I was born.  Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday were the Real McCoys, and we knew exactly what those days were all about.  However, they started getting less attention as the 1980’s progressed.  A movement bubbled up that sought to make a big splash over Presidents’ Day.  In no small part, the movement was driven by merchants and their advertisers, who were eager to have a weekend between Christmas and Memorial Day become known for sales.


By the time the 1990’s got into swing, Presidents’ Day was a big deal and the other two passed with little notice.  Today, calendars trumpet Presidents’ Day but do not even mention Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays.  And therein lies the problem:  By carelessly lumping all presidents together for a generic third-Monday holiday, and in the process eradicating February’s historic contemplation of Lincoln and Washington, we act as though all presidents are created equal, despite the fact they are not.


Presidents’ Day places the corrupt alongside the honorable, the cowardly alongside the brave, the inept alongside the able  and makes absolutely no distinction between them.  Despte being a draft dodger, Bill Clinton is granted the same reverence as some of the men who put their lives on the line by signing the Declaration of Independence.  And Richard Nixon is granted the same respect on economic matters as Ronald Reagan, even though the results of his active-government approach to the economy were remarkably inferior to those of Reagan's laissez faire approach.  It’s enough to make me nauseous.

One of the greatest problems America faces today is the deterioration of its educational systems, especially when it comes to historical education.  Another great problem is people’s reluctance to identify who is good at something and who is bad at it, for fear of offending anyone’s sensibilities. Unfortunately, Presidents’ Day embodies both of those problems.  And even more unfortunately, I don’t hear anybody saying so.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


During the past week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this:  “Every month that we do not have an economic recovery package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs.”  And President Barack Obama wrote that without a so-called stimulus bill, the current recession will become so severe that “we may not be able to reverse” it.


All of which brings to mind the famous quote by H.L. Mencken many years ago:  “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”


Pelosi’s claim is so asinine that it should incite laughter among anyone who has even a casual acquaintance with facts. Since the entire population of the United States is only 300 million – a number that includes children, retirees, stay-at-home parents, prisoners, disabled, etc. – there is no arithmetic in the universe that could make it possible for 500 million to lose their jobs at all, much less every month.


And Obama’s claim is absurd.  Historically, recessions last from 5 to 11 months during which the private economy adjusts to whatever caused the recession, and those adjustments then lead to periods of economic growth which last 4 to 6 years and cause the country to be more prosperous than before the recession.  And it's worth noting that America’s economy has been stronger than the world’s others even when it is going through a recession.


Only one time in our history has a recession lasted for years, and it just so happens that time was the only one in which our government responded the way Obama wants it to respond now.  When FDR took office the economy had been ailing for about a year, and he proceeded to usher in unprecedented government involvement in the economy.  The recession then grew into the Great Depression, which was still going on 8 years later.  The unemployment rate during that period was three times what it is today.


Conversely, history provides many examples of tax cuts enacted during recessions helping to spur recovery by leaving more money in people’s pockets, and thus available to be used naturally in the economy.  This happened under Kennedy, Reagan, and George W. Bush (Democrats like to ignore the fact that through most of Bush's tenure the economy was much stronger through when he was elected...only to be undone in the end by liberal policies like government mandates in the credit industry, plus Bush's liberal tendency to spend wildly on dubious social programs).


Yet, during the past week Obama had the audacity to write this about tax cuts:  “I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change.”  It is his right to reject the philosophy of tax cuts if he chooses, even if the facts show that choice to be foolish.  But when you consider that one of the main reasons he won the election was that he kept proclaiming he would cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, what are you to make of his current statement that “the American people” reject tax cuts?  Of the many conclusions you might draw, none of them say anything good about the self-flattering egotist who occupies the Oval Office.


One week before being elected, Obama said that a vote for him was a vote “to choose hope over fear.”  On the day he was sworn in, he said that by electing him the nation had “chosen hope over fear.”  Yet his recent comments (and those of his ally Pelosi) are fear-mongering at its worst, and the mongering is being done to gin up angst amongst the people so the people will pressure Congress to rush through a disastrous bill without scrutinizing it first.  The bill is disastrous because it will greatly increase government’s control over private initiative.  It does much to hurt the economy in the long-term, and nothing to help it in either the short- or long-term.


Obama is a Marxist who cares about power and doesn’t give a damn about average citizens, other than figuring out how he can manipulate them into yielding power to him.  I have said it before and I will not stop saying it, because there is a wealth of evidence that supports that statement and none that contradicts it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Sunday

Last week I was lucky enough to score a pair of tickets to Super Bowl XLIII.  Late Sunday morning Erika and I made the 25-minute drive from our home to Raymond James Stadium, and by the time the day ended I was able to check "see a Super Bowl in person" off my bucket list.

During the pre-game festivities outside the stadum, Pittsburgh's fans lived up to their reputation and made it feel like a college game:

Inside the stadium, I took this picture of Erika nine rows below our seats:

She's a Bucs fan who has lived almost three-fourths of her life in Florida, but she was born outside of Pittsburgh and we know the picture will make her parents proud.  Four touchdowns occurred in the end zone behind her, including James Harrison's 100-yard interception return to end the first half and Larry Fitzgerald's 64-yard catch-and-run that put Arizona on top late in the game.  ESPN has since deemed those plays to be two of the top ten in Super Bowl history.

It looked very cool when they turned off the big lights for Bruce Springsteen's halftime show...though I must admit, the coolest thing about the halftime show was that there were no lines at the urinals because so many people decided watching The Boss was more important than relieving themselves of used beer.

You probably know how the game turned out.  After three mostly ho-hum quarters, the fourth quarter ushered in a series of wild momentum swings and heart-stopping moments that turned it into one of the best Super Bowls of all time.

The Cardinals staged what would have been the biggest fourth quarter comeback in Super Bowl history, using a safety (courtesy of a holding penalty against the Steelers in the end zone) plus a pair of touchdowns by Fitzgerald to turn a 20-7 deficit into a 23-20 lead with less than three minutes remaining.

Then, after another penalty, the Steelers found themslves in a deep, dark hole:  facing 1st-and-20 from their own 12-yard line with all the momentum going against them.  But from that hole they staged a drive for the ages and marched all the way to the end zone. Santonio Holmes caught four passes from Ben Roesthlisberger during that drive, including the game-winning touchdown wth 35 seconds remaining.  It, like Harrison's 100-yarder and Fitzgerald's 64-yarder, was deemed by ESPN to be among the top ten plays in Super Bowl Erika and I got to witness three legendary moments as they unfolded.

But there was so much more to the game than those few plays. Things like Pittsburgh -- the ultimate blue-collar power-running franchise -- twice being stopped short of the end zone after getting all the way to Arizona's 2-yard line with multiple downs to go.  And things like Roesthlisberger -- the lumbersome big guy who supposedly holds the ball too long -- improvising on the fly a la Joe Montana.  And things like the fans:

If you watched on TV, you know that Steeler partisans outnumbered Cardinal ones by a ratio of about 10-to-1.  But I have to say this about the Cardinals' fans:  They are the real deal, for the noise they made was loud and out of proportion to their numbers.

And I have to say this about the Steelers' fans:  Their raucous enthusiasm was focused entirely on the game, for they behaved with class regardless of whether their team's fortunes were rising or falling.  In other words, they proved they are better than the incessant boo birds from Pennsylvania's other big city.

I am glad I got to be there in person to see a sporting event that will be talked about for decades to come.  Here we are after the final gun, with the players celebrating below: