This William Warren cartoon seems to sum it up, doesn’t it? Between Benghazi, the IRS TEA Party targeting, the AP phones being tapped, the FOIA preferences at the EPA, questions on campaign finance in both 2008 and 2012, the Enroll America protection racket – the list can go on and on and on if you revert back to earlier activities like Operation Fast and Furious, Solyndra, or the handling of the Deepwater Horizon accident. And I’m not counting what goes on in Maryland, like the inmates taking over the prisons or having a governor who’s more concerned about presidential prospects than running the state. I suppose if power is the ultimate aphrodisiac then that must be why Democrats are pro-abortion; otherwise they would have a dozen or so children running around, by nearly as many mothers.
Now I’m certain the minuscule number of progressives and leftists who dare to read here would beg to differ and can probably point out all the scandals, conflicts of interest, and foibles of the Bush years, but really, guys, come on – what happened to the most transparent administration ever? I suppose in a perverse sort of way finding out about all these scandals is a type of transparency – too bad we were stonewalled every step of the way in finding out.
But are the American people and their notoriously short attention spans in danger of scandal fatigue in May of 2013, 18 months before the midterm elections? Sometimes the pre-emptive strike is the best thing in the long run, and there’s little chance of the rabidly partisan Democrats in the Senate turning on their leader and convicting him in the unlikely event we ever get to an impeachment trial. Moreover, Barack Obama doesn’t exactly strike me as a fall-on-the-sword kind of guy, so don’t bet on him resigning to save the country the agony of an impeachment trial like Richard Nixon did. Democrats know well what sort of electoral fate may await – the Republicans who placed country over party were “rewarded” by losing 48 House seats and 3 Senate seats in the 1974 elections, which were held just three months after Nixon left in disgrace.
Meanwhile, focusing on the scandals of the past will blind us to the issues of the present. Even if the GOP gains control of the Senate in 2014 – a likely possibility even without scandals as the sixth year of a presidency is traditionally unkind to the president’s party – the nation will simply revert back to the inverse of the situation we had back in 2007-2008, where a Republican president was crippled by a Democratic Congressional majority in both houses. Much of the damage was done in the two years the Democrats held absolute control of government, as the massive entitlement program dubbed Obamacare came into being and Barack Obama’s re-election means at least some of it will be in place by 2014. Once established, we haven’t killed an entitlement program yet. And there’s still the aspect of governing by executive order: “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool.”
Perhaps the one silver lining in all of this is the emergence of the new media as a force for uncovering these and other issues with the government in Washington. No longer do we have a small group of periodicals, newspapers, and television networks determining what is news and what remains on the cutting room floor. Certainly, there is a huge majority of the American public still in an celebrity gossip-induced slumber, but slowly people are beginning to see the light and it only takes an irate, tireless minority to effect real change.
In the meantime, though, there is plenty to write about for those obsessed with Obama scandals. That really is a shame because it makes it more difficult to argue with the other side on why their ideas are such a failure – I can hear it now: “Well, if you Republicans wouldn’t have made the Obama years such a partisan witch hunt he may have succeeded with his good ideas.”
But I suppose it comes back to the old saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely, doesn’t it? Do you see why the nation’s founders wanted a limited government yet?
It’s getting to be like the crocuses and other sure signs of spring – the local carpenter’s union is picketing again, this time in West Ocean City.
Standing out along U.S. 50 on Friday with their sign claiming that the contractor selected by Tanger Outlets to do parking lot renovations and other work is “lowering area standards in our community” the union obviously found a quartet of workers with nothing better to do than hold up a sign. They also attracted a little media coverage for their efforts. (My photo would have been better but I was sitting in traffic. I actually stumbled onto this picketing and story idea as I was doing my outside job.)
But I noticed this group a year ago when they were picketing at the local Salisbury Target for their various transgressions – they have also targeted the nearby Walmart as they were building a store 50 miles away in Denton, Maryland. The Seaford, Delaware-based United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 2012 gets around.
But who’s lowering the area standards? While the local is small political potatoes in the overall scheme of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the national group pretty much gave Barack Obama a sloppy wet kiss in the 2012 election and called Romney’s tax plan “Robin Hood in reverse.”
Obviously they won this round of the fight, but the question is whether they helped themselves in the process. The latest topline unemployment number declined to 7.6% on Friday, but that number came mainly as a result of nearly a half-million dropping off the bottom of the workforce as overall participation now stands at levels unseen since the Carter years. And while the construction sector is doing slightly better, it’s still a long way from recovering. Certainly it’s not to a point where the premium of union construction is shown to be worthwhile; it’s still a buyer’s market. The contractor at Tanger Outlets obviously found a group of people who will willing to work for the wages offered; in my opinion it may be a more productive mission as far as the union is concerned to see how many of these workers are here illegally. Unfortunately for Local 2012, that sort of enforcement doesn’t seem to be a priority for national Democrats foursquare for amnesty.
Yet it eventually comes back to the union’s misunderstanding of economics. Because they are so tied into the failed policies of the national Democratic party – ones which continue to advocate for a “soak-the-rich” policy which penalizes the successful businessman who would otherwise create jobs and the demand for construction labor – they support the very people who helped us get into this overall economic mess in the first place by lowering lending standards. The half-decade of prosperity we had before the housing bubble burst is now a distant memory, buried in the decline in the overall economy which started in 2007 and accelerated since Barack Obama took office.
So when you see this crew complain about “lowering area standards” ask yourself which side is really taking us on a suicidal mission to keep on spending money we don’t have, look the other way when illegal aliens come and snatch up the jobs these workers could do, pick economic winners and losers based on political correctness rather than allowing the market to sort these things out, and continue advocating for the financial ruination of small businessmen and lenders everywhere to cater to a powerful set of special interest groups. Maybe the pro-liberty movement should find a few people to stand in front of Local 2012 headquarters and picket them for lowering our nation’s standards with their political choices.
When I last left you at CPAC, I was ready to return upstairs to see Sarah Palin (and ran into Dan Bongino in the process.)
But I wanted to digress beforehand and explain a little bit about my vantage point for the event.
When I walked in early on and finally found the media check-in, they gave me this.
Obviously that gave me floor access, but for most of my time there (except when I walked up to take pictures) I was back in this area.
By the way, the woman sitting in front of me in the multi-colored shirt was my friend Jackie Wellfonder, who was covering CPAC for Viral Read. Nice work for her!
We were segregated into the area – which had some perks, like free coffee and pop – with the one problem being the obstructed view. But we had a good place to work and power to plug in our laptops.
The only complaint I would have was the internet access. It was provided by the TEA Party News Network, which I appreciate. But it was overwhelmed, with the best analogy I could give being that of sending a Yugo to run a NASCAR race.
I would have liked to do more Tweeting from the event, but it simply wasn’t possible.
Since I knew Sarah Palin was slated to speak at noon, I was upstairs a little early. I came back just in time to see a former Democrat speak.
Artur Davis is a former Congressman (and onetime Obama supporter) who has come around to the conservative side. Davis pointed out that the 43 million conservative voters in America are the country’s largest voting bloc. “This is our America too and we are not going anywhere!,” he exclaimed.
At last, Sarah Palin was introduced.
No, that’s not Sarah nor is that a mistakenly-placed picture. “As all of you know, I’m not remotely cool enough to be Sarah Palin,” opened Senator Ted Cruz. “She drives the media batcrap crazy.”
But he stepped out to proclaim that Sarah Palin was among the biggest reasons he was in the Senate. “She picks winners,” said Cruz, citing as examples Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, Pat Toomey, and Nikki Haley in 2010, along with Deb Fischer, Jeff Flake, and Cruz last year.
“I would not be in the Senate today if it weren’t for Governor Sarah Palin,” concluded Cruz. “She is principled, she is courageous, and she is a mama grizzly.”
Palin’s speech has been reviewed as one chock full of one-limers and quips, and it was.
However, she made time for chastising the Senate for not passing a budget. She also pointed out that leaders take risks while campaigners make promises and made the case that “we’ll never win a contest of identity politics.” Sarah also warned us to not let the media intimidate us and had the prescience to quip “the last thing we need is Washington, D.C. vetting our candidates.” She advised the inside-the-Beltway crowd to “get over yourself.”
But Sarah Palin’s seminal moment was the Super Big Gulp. I think the Southland Corporation owes SarahPAC a pretty hefty contribution for the free advertising they received from this one gesture – somewhere around National Harbor a 7-11 should be advertising that they sold Sarah’s Big Gulp. I wondered why the lights were dimmed before Sarah’s performance – the three roadies were delivering her prop.
(The picture is actually a photo of the monitor in front of me at the time.) But my burning question: was it Coke or Pepsi?
After Sarah finished, I decided to do a little more exploring. Going upstairs I saw the screening room for a number of movies sponsored by Citizens United.
There were also breakout sessions going on, like this one wrapping up from TEA Party Patriots.
But the real reason I went there was that a flyer had advised me of a Breitbart News-sponsored event dubbed “The Uninvited.”
I got a picture of Steve King which turned out this time, as he introduced the event by speaking about Andrew Breitbart, a man whose “integrity was essential.” Breitbart’s CEO Larry Silov added that “we mjust be willing to discuss issues.”
This was an event was intended to address some items which weren’t featured prominently enough on the main CPAC stage: global jihad, persecution of Christians, gutting the military, and immigration were cited. Among the “uninvited” speakers was Pamela Geller, who was also featured at Turning the Tides. They had a packed house.
I didn’t stay for the event, which is the thing about CPAC: it’s way more than one person can see. (The same goes for several of the films screened there as well as the breakout sessions, which occur at the same time as speakers and panels downstairs.) The Uninvited event is covered well on Breitbart’s site, though.
Instead, I had a meeting of sorts to attend. Some of you who have seen my Facebook page have already seen this shot.
When I had stopped by the PJ Media booth earlier, I was told Lt. Col. West would be there at 1:30 and I arrived just in time to be behind Jackie Wellfonder in line. So I took advantage.
By this time, I decided to head back up so I could see Mia Love, a rising star in the conservative movement. But because they were running somewhat behind, I caught some of the stories of the “Conservatives Under 40″ featured as a panel.
Next up was a panel headed by former Senate candidate and Hewlitt-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who believed “this is the century of brain power and innovation.” She was joined by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, who cited the “U-Haul test” and quipped “California is Washington, D.C. is waiting,” and New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce, who asserted that our business is what separates us from South Sudan – they have no “kinetic energy.” The panel eventually suggested that perhaps a million small-business march on Washington may be needed to build awareness of their issues.
Brent Bozell spoke next, pleading his case that we need to stop listening to professional politicians and consultants who are most responsible for our “trainwreck.” He also ticked off a list of things which “aren’t conservative” like the new Ryan budget, House leadership, Jeb Bush, Bob McDonnell (who can “forget his national aspirations”, according to Bozell), and Karl Rove. The mention of Rove drew a chorus of boos from the audience.
We would work with these guys, said Brent, but it would have to be on our terms: “our days of playing second fiddle to moderates are over,” concluded Bozell.
We finally got to listen to Mia Love, who was introduced by comedian Stephen Crowder as a woman “liberals check under their bed for.” Somehow I had a lot of good pictures of her, this was the best.
“The pundits of doom and gloom would have you believe all is lost,” said Mia. But her upbeat message was of great cause of confidence: we can restore our confidence in this country and stand out as examples of what is good and right.
Next up was the final panel of the day. a confab called the CPAC All-Star panel.
I’ll admit that I spent the better part of my time this panel was speaking in writing the first portion of Part 1 of this series, but my ears perked up when Larry O’Connor of Breitbart News mentioned Andy Harris’s evisceration of CDC director Tom Frieden over the effects of the sequester.
After the All-Star Panel concluded its work, Dinesh d’Souza spoke on the upcoming film “America,” which as he stated, highlights the idea of the self-made man. This “couldn’t be more different than Obama’s idea,” which to d’Souza seemed to be one that the free market is a form of theft.
The film will ponder the question “what if America didn’t exist?”
RNC Chair Reince Priebus noted that the “House Republican budget is right for America” while the Democratic budget never balances. He also believed we need to introduce the government to the Tenth Amendment.
“Conservatives have to hold the government accountable,” Priebus concluded. “I applaud the new generation of liberty-minded Republicans.”
NRA head David Keene embraced Priebus after being introduced to speak, saying “he is a guy who gets it.” He also recounted a long history of conservative vs. establishment Republican battles dating back over a half-century and reminded us that 50% of voters under 30 voted for Ron Paul – but party leaders don’t really want voters in their clique, Keene said.
Political movements have two choices, said Keene: they can grow, or they can die. It was interesting to hear a member of the old guard speak to a crowd mainly comprised of those two generations younger, as we shall soon see.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers was another warmup act, one who cautioned us that “for too long we’ve been talking like bookkeepers rather than leaders.” She added, “we need to be the party of the 100 percent.”
After giving out the video of the year award to the University of Georgia College Republicans and the Blogger of the Year award to Katie Pavlich, who accepted the award and told us bloggers “we have the world in front of us to conquer, so let’s do it,” we finally got to one of the last featured speakers.
Ann Coulter was her usual snarky self, particularly snapping at onetime Coulter favorite Chris Christie: “Even CPAC had to cut back on its speakers this year, by about 300 pounds.” Later, when answering an audience question about whether Christie should have been invited to CPAC, Coulter said “I’m now a single-issue voter (on immigration), so Christie is off my list.”
She also made the point of tax hikes, rhetorically asking the question sure to come from the media: Are you saying that you wouldn’t even take $1 in tax increases for every $10 in spending cuts? “See, the problem is, we’re the Indians and the Democrats are Andrew Jackson,” replied Coulter. “We’ve been through this before.”
But she got serious during her remarks, telling the audience “the reason we don’t have the Senate is because Republicans keep screwing up. I can think of about ten Senate seats in the last three election cycles that we’ve pissed away through narcissism, greed, or stupidity.”
“Passion is great, but scoring is all that counts,” said Coulter. “On the basis of this one boneheaded statement by Todd Akin out in Missouri, Democrats finally had their talking point: the Republican were waging a ‘war on women.’”
But, countered Ann, “your average Democrat actually believes things much crazier than Todd Akin – but the Democrats don’t let their candidates open their mouths and say stupid stuff.”
Philosophy is not the Republicans’ problem, though. “Conservatism is about the only thing Republicans have going for them.”
She was also harsh on the pro-amnesty wing of the Republican Party, saying “if amnesty goes through, America becomes California and no Republican will win another national election.” Instead, Republicans shouldn’t be desperate and adopt amnesty because Democrats want it. “People always announce their complete triumph a moment before their crushing defeat,” concluded Ann. “Our job, Republicans, is to insure Democrats have that crushing defeat.”
After Coulter finished, the CPAC straw poll results were announced. What blew me away was the percentage of under-25 people who participated, although it should have been apparent in the crowd. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio paced the field. Coming in a distant third was the top 2012 candidate on the ballot, Rick Santorum. (My vote was among the ‘other’ category, since I preferred Indiana governor Mike Pence.)
Finally, we reached the penultimate speaker, newly elected Senator from Texas Ted Cruz.
In his remarks, it’s noteworthy that Cruz spoke in front of the podium, which to me suggests either he memorized his remarks or spoke completely off the cuff, or both.
He opened up by commenting on being called a ‘wacko bird’ by John McCain: “If standing for liberty makes me a ‘wacko bird’ then count me as a proud ‘wacko bird.’”
Cruz revealed one of the biggest surprises he received upon entering the Senate was their defeatist attitude, as he countered that “for the last three weeks, conservatives have been winning.”
On the Rand Paul filibuster, Ted pointed out that the filibuster drew more support as the night went on. “Each of you engaged,” said Cruz. It was something not seen in a long time – “standing on principle.” Ted also revealed the filibuster was the very first time he had spoken on the Senate floor.
Cruz also believed we were winning on sequestration, based on the lack of reaction to Barack Obama’s “scare America tour.” The sequester was a “small step” in reining in the debt.
As part of that, another victory in Cruz’s book was the vote on an amendment her offered to repeal funding for Obamacare. “Now I’ll confess: a couple weeks ago when I said initially I was going to offer that amendment, more than a few of my colleagues were not thrilled. And yet we saw every single Republican in the Senate vote unanimously to defund Obamacare,” said Cruz. On the other hand, all the Democrats voted to keep Obamacare, “even if it pushes us into a recession,” as Cruz charged.
But the key to continue winning is twofold, to defend the Constitution and champion growth and opportunity. “Defend the Constitution: liberty is under assault from every direction,” stated Ted. He cited threats to several parts of the Bill of Rights, particularly the Second Amendment and the Fourth Amendment. “We need to repeal the NDAA ,” said Cruz to thunderous applause.
He also mentioned threats to our sovereignty. “We (the state of Texas) stood up to the President of the United States – who happened to be a Republican – and I went before the Supreme Court of the United States and said no President, Republican or Democrat, has the Constitutional authority to give away U.S. sovereignty.” Adding that Republicans stand up to Republican presidents, Cruz continued “where were the Democrats when Rand and the rest of us were standing on the floor on drones?”
On growth and opportunity, Cruz charged “we are in the midst of what I call ‘the Great Stagnation.’” Only twice in the postwar era have we seen less than 1 percent growth – from 1979-83 and over the last four years. “Obama didn’t learn the lesson from Reagan,” said Cruz. Instead, we need to embrace “opportunity conservatism,” a philosophy to ease the means of ascent up the economic ladder. To do this, we need to do a laundry list of things: repeal Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, eliminate corporate welfare, build the Keystone pipeline, rein in the EPA, audit the Fed, stop QE infinity, abolish the Department of Education, champion school choice, stand with Israel, and stop sending foreign aid to nations that hate us.
Speaking to the audience, Cruz told us it was up to us to spread the message. “There are no longer gatekeepers that can decide what the American people hear and what they don’t get to hear.” He named his site as one means of doing so, but concluded by saying “we’re here because we’re not willing to give up on America.”
Okay, I’m out of pictures, but I’m not quite finished yet.
One goal of mine was to meet fellow bloggers and promote my site. I handed out a few dozen business cards, found a couple promising leads for freelance work, and did what networking I could. But perhaps the best part was getting to meet a few of the bloggers I’d read from afar as well as make a couple new acquaintances, such as Bill Hughes, who, like me, drove down to CPAC for the day from New Jersey and was my next-door neighbor for part of the day at the media table, or Deb from Kansas (bloggers would know her as Nice Deb.) That introduction was made as I was talking with Cynthia Yockey, who I met for the first time after being linked to her for quite awhile.
And I’ll be interested to see how I turned out on DaTechGuy‘s video, since I was among the last to be featured. Maybe next year I’ll get some cannoli. I also got to meet a woman whose link from my site, if I’m not mistaken, was her first: Becca Lower from my native state of Ohio. If I heard correctly, she was a CPAC volunteer, which is really cool and commendable.
Nor can I forget some of my biggest fans, who saw me as I walked in the door: Larry and Rosemarie Helminiak spotted me and said hello, which made me feel a little more at home.
So that’s how my day went. Last year I stated making it to CPAC was one of my goals for 2013, and I accomplished it despite the limitations placed on me by my other jobs and funding. Next year, though, I’d like to experience the whole event, an endeavor which could run into the four-figure range depending chiefly on accommodations. 2 1/2 hours each way is a bitch of a commute, as I found.
I don’t normally ask this, but if you liked my coverage of CPAC and want to see more, the best way to insure that is rattling the tip jar early and often. People want to know how the mainstream media can be countered, well, here’s an opportunity to get the straight story if you care to support it.
Since I took nearly 100 pictures and 36 made the final cut, I decided to make this a two-part post.
Recently having done a stint at the Turning the Tides Conference, I thought I had a little bit of an idea in what to expect from CPAC. But the entirety of the Gaylord Conference Center and the number of celebrities speaking and milling around tells me that I missed a lot when I missed the first two days of the gathering. Yet the one day I managed to be here was well worth my time in learning from and meeting those who move and shake the conservative world.
Walking into the Potomac ballroom I was blown away by the expanse of the venue. Sure, we have some decently-sized conference rooms for our 300-person gatherings for the Maryland Republican Party, but this room could hold a sporting event. If anything, the stage made the speaker look small.
The first speaker I heard upon my arrival and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation was TEA Party pioneer Jenny Beth Martin, who repeated the case I’ve been pleading since the most recent incarnation of the pro-liberty movement was born: conservatives are for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a thriving free market. Instead, Martin said, they are “mocked, marginalized, and maligned.”
She also added that we’re headed to bankruptcy, with an Affordable Care Act which is “unaffordable, callous, and cruel.”
“The reality today is grim and heartbreaking,” Martin added.
She concluded by asserting, in a rising voice, that liberty will endure – if we fight for freedom. “Our Constitution is worth fighting for, because freedom is worth fighting for.”
Rep. Steve King of Iowa followed Jenny Beth to the podium and made the case that “Obamacare has got to go…we can’t let up.” It erodes our vitality and is an “unconstitutional taking,” according to King. He also criticized the immigration initiatives because, as King claimed, 2 out of 3 illegal aliens are Democrats “and the Democrats know this.”
King called on us to “restore the pillars of American exceptionalism…we’ve got a country to rebuild together.”
I should point out that I had pictures of these two speakers and they didn’t make the cut. But this guy made the cut.
Wisconsin is a state which has a leader, said emcee Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, and Governor Scott Walker detailed a number of ways he’s indeed led.
Harkening back to recent initiatives, Walker noted welfare reform and tax reform originated in the states. And just as the states created the federal government, the 30 states with GOP governors – most of which also have Republican-led legislatures – can improvise with good, conservative ideas. But Walker made the point that “to be successful, we have to be optimistic, relevant, and courageous.” It’s obviously working in Wisconsin, where 93 percent of the state said it was heading in the right direction. “We’re the ones who care about fixing things,” he added.
Walker was ready with a number of examples of poor policy, like the first-year Milwaukee teacher who was selected as their teacher of the year but furloughed because she was at the bottom of the seniority chain. His union reforms eliminated that problem. The overall idea, continued Walker, was to replace the narrative that a successful government was one which created dependents with one which made the case that government works when it assists people to wean themselves off dependence by making it easier to get a job.
“In America, we celebrate the Fourth of July, not April 15,” shouted Walker. “We believe in the people, not the government!”
And then came Newt – a guy who only needs one name to convey who I’m speaking about.
Gingrich addressed the concept of government needing to be pioneers of the future, and get out of being prisoners of the past. As a movement our contrast with President Obama “couldn’t be more vivid.”
But he saved withering criticism for the “Republican establishment class,” which “couldn’t be more wrong.” Holding up a candle and light bulb, Newt chided Washington as “being prisoners of the past…they’re all trapped in the age of candles.” Both parties in Washington are blind to the future, though.
Interestingly enough, Newt promoted a book by a liberal author, the former mayor of San Francisco and now lieutenant governor of California, Gavin Newsom. But Citizenville was a book “every conservative should read” because it promoted a more active citizenry. Gingrich used the analogy of the Facebook game Farmville, with the idea being earning rewards for public-spirited achievement rather than planting virtual crops.
Newt also took a swipe at the establishment wing of the party, saying that since 1976 “the dominant wing (of the GOP) has learned nothing.” Nor should we be strictly the anti-Obama movement, said Newt.
The powerful morning lineup of featured speakers concluded with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the 2012 Presidential hopeful whose campaign flamed out after a great summer of 2011.
She explained about the TEA Party movement “we love people in this country…we want everyone to succeed in this country.” As key parts of that success, Michele believed there were a lot of goals we could accomplish “if we put our minds to it” such as cutting the price of gasoline to $2 a gallon, preserving our Second Amendment rights “for your sister and your mother,” and most ambitiously finding a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease in the next decade. The key wasn’t big government, she argued, but “big innovation.”
Bachamnn also chided the inefficiencies of government, pointing out that for every $10 spent on food stamps only $3 goes to recipients while the other $7 goes to bureaucrats. She also dubbed the Obama presidency as “a life of excess.”
In the hardest-hitting portion of her remarks, Michele savaged Barack Obama for the “shameful incident” of Benghazi. “This is a story of not caring,” Bachmann said. Because (Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, the two ex-Navy SEALs killed at Benghazi) cared, they defied orders and they chose to go to the aid of their brothers…they fought for our country.”
As the attack raged on, “they continued to radio their government begging for help,” charged Bachmann, “and that help never came.” This despite the fact President Obama knew of the attack within its first hour, she continued.
“A war was raging in Benghazi for hours, and all we know is that our President went AWOL,” she continued to a chorus of boos and catcalls for Obama. “No one knows to this day where the President was.”
Of all the Saturday speeches I heard, Bachmann’s was perhaps the most critical of Barack Obama.
After she finished, I decided to skip the next panel and head out to explore a little. I hadn’t really had the chance to walk around as I arrived shortly before the proceedings began. It was a crowded lobby to be sure.
This space also featured the famous “Radio Row” I’d only heard about, although on a Saturday morning it wasn’t as busy.
The TEA Party Patriots were busy doing a
radio show, though. (Actually, it may have been just before or just after this video was done. The blond gentleman in the background of my picture is Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.)
There were a few television broadcasts in various stages of production, such as those of Hot Air.
Also working on content was the TEA Party News Network, who thankfully sponsored the internet access (more on that in part 2.)
Further down Radio Row, another start-up operation was making itself known to the broadcasting world.
Later in the day, it was announced that One America News Network would make its debut July 4 of this year. “We will be the platform for the conservative message,” said OANN’s Graham Ledger. He cautioned, though, that cable systems “will resist putting on a conservative news network.”
Once I made my way down the hall and down a level, I was at the entrance of the exhibit hall. I didn’t count them, but there were probably over 100 groups exhibiting their wares. By the time I was through, the swag bag I received at the entrance was very full (I took the picture when I got home.)
The exhibit hall was fairly expansive as well.
Here was a group I think needs further investigation. Unfortunately, there was no one there to explain the concept to me. From what I gather, it’s a database of conservative companies to support.
Another group I’d love to have seen a representative of was this one. Maybe their volunteer (or intern) had an encounter with some union thugs.
I got to talk with this group, though. They represent an outfit I’ve referenced a lot over the years.
A newer but very nice organization has been referenced on this site since its formation. Unfortunately, in missing Friday I missed a chance to talk with its founder.
Someone else who might be on the 2016 ballot had some unofficial help. These were placed on a side table, but not many were wearing them that I saw.
There was also an area in the exhibit hall for book signings. When I was down there, Newt and Callista Gingrich were signing their tomes with Ellis the Elephant looking on.
Some people simply took the opportunity to relax and take a quick break in the CPAC Lounge. They could watch the action upstairs on the monitors.
Just like them, I’m going to rhetorically relax and take a break, since this seems like a nice dividing point. Part 2 will be up tomorrow morning.
There’s really not a whole lot I can add to what two conservative kingpins have had to say about the decisions our government has made regarding sequestration cuts, but it’s also my job to make readers aware of them.
I wanted to begin with a quote from Maryland pro-liberty standardbearer Dan Bongino, who said in a release regarding the closing of the White House to public tours:
The President is a guest in the White House, the people of the United States are the Homeowners. Closing the White House to public tours, despite the negligible impact on the budgets of the U.S. Secret Service and the EOP (Executive Office of the President) is clearly a petty, naked gesture of pure politics rather than sound budgeting.
The White House closure reflects a continuing pattern with this administration of placing petty politics over public good. Inviting a group of multi-millionaire celebrities, and Obama campaign donors, to the White House to celebrate a family birthday, while at the same time closing the doors to America’s schoolchildren is a disgrace. During my tenure as a Secret Service agent securing the White House grounds, it was an immeasurable honor to see the excited faces of schoolchildren from all across the country as they witnessed the majesty of our White House for the first time, an experience sidelined for the sake of ‘Downtown (sic) Abbey’ political insiders and multi-millionaire celebrities.
I’m sure spellcheck nailed him on that last sentence, but the point remains.
I thought this was a nice quote from Dan, but it didn’t seem like enough to carry a post well – that is until I read Byron York’s piece on Townhall.com and knew I had the required yang to the yin. The money passage is as follows:
All those Obama administration officials complaining about across-the-board cuts dictated by sequestration could come up with plans to make the same amount of cuts in ways that would create fewer problems for federal workers and services. Then they could ask Congress for permission to do so. Lawmakers would say yes, and things would be fine.
But it’s not happening. And the fault is not with Congress.
In recent weeks, House Republicans have been virtually begging administration officials to ask for permission to move money around. If one program could be more easily cut than others, those Republicans say, just ask us, and we’ll let you do it.
“We sent out on Feb. 28 a letter to every Cabinet officer asking them what changes they’d like to have — pluses, subtractions and so on — to give them an opportunity to show us at least one program they would like to have cut, which would then save on sequestration,” Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in an interview recently. “We did not receive a single answer.”
It all became clear with that revelation. If you really want to address the spending problem, you go to Congress and say, “look, we hate to do this, but we think we can do with less and here’s how.” But if you want to play ‘naked, petty politics’ you come in with the attitude that we are going to make the cuts as painful and public as possible. No White House tours for you!
This reminded me of my Ohio days. In the Buckeye state, school districts aren’t generally countywide but normally serve a municipality, township, or group of townships – the school district I graduated from was once five smaller township-based districts which merged in the mid-1960s into one of the geographically larger districts in the state. They also have taxing authority, and money not supplied by the state or federal government comes in the form of a property tax levy, which normally has to be renewed or replaced with one at a higher rate at regular intervals of three to five years. The same is true for income tax levies, which some districts (including my home district, which has both income and property tax levies) have resorted to.
If a levy failed, which it often did, the scare tactics would begin with the second or third attempt to pass. Never did they say that they would cut administrators; instead the ominously promised cuts began with non-required bus service – not that it affected many children in our far-flung school district – then progressed to teacher layoffs, and if those didn’t work athletics were placed on the chopping block. Usually that was enough blackmail to get a levy to pass.
I’ll grant this is an imperfect and somewhat anecdotal example, but the prevailing attitude of government is rarely one of learning to do with less. With the prospect of budget cuts, agencies and departments think more about preserving turf than being public servants and stewards of taxpayer money. In this case of the federal government, we are talking about a budgetary rounding error of less than 2 percent of spending; insofar as state government goes, our governor disingenuously brags about making “cuts” on every budget yet spending somehow increases each and every year.
With all the caterwauling about a 1.5% federal budget cut in the news lately, you would think that Warren Harding had returned from the grave! But if we cut the present federal budget proportionally to what Harding did over the two years he was President before his death (granted, we were coming out of World War I so the military absorbed a significant share of these cuts) we would balance the budget without raising taxes; in fact, we could return to the Bush tax rates and still be in surplus. I think we could even get the White House tours back.
Of course, I’m certainly aware that we now have an entitlement system which was still in the dreams of progressives when Harding and his successor, Calvin Coolidge, were in office during the Roaring Twenties. That’s not only created a huge obstacle to necessary budget cuts but also given birth to an entitlement mentality among many millions – you would think they were bureaucrats who are owed a living.
But the road to sanity has to begin someplace, and the sooner we embark onto it the less painful it will be in the end.
We’ve all heard the stories about sequestration: how the Democrats are trying to make the cuts as painful and public as possible, then blame Republicans for the misery caused. Cases in point: cancellations of White House tours (despite the fact they’re put on by volunteers) and the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds aerial performers despite the good will and recruiting ability they create for the military. No one’s telling Barack Obama to skip a vacation or a golf game.
Nor is anyone at Organizing
Against America For Action interested in hearing the real truth about the sequester. The other day I received this piece of advice:
Last week, devastating budget cuts went into effect because Congress failed to compromise — with some Republicans choosing to protect tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires over programs that millions of middle-class families rely on.
This is frustrating, and it’s at times like these when Washington feels more broken than ever. But here’s what President Obama had to say:
“The question is: Can the American people help persuade their members of Congress to do the right thing? And I have a lot of confidence that over time, if the American people express their displeasure about how something is working, that eventually Congress responds.”
So today, we’re asking that Organizing for Action supporters do one easy thing to make their voice heard: Tweet at your member of Congress.
Tweeting is a public way to demand a response from your legislator — it’s one of the most direct ways to get your point across.
Tweet at Rep. Andy Harris right now and demand action… (Emphasis in original.)
If you follow their link, this is part of the message you tweet:
Dear Congress: It’s time to compromise. End the sequester and stop #CutsWeCantAfford.
Gee, they came up with their own hashtag. So I had some fun with it based on the following video:
Andy just took this poor shlub apart, judging by the deer in the headlights look.
Here’s the Tweet I sent, with the hashtag included. Just following instructions – on how to wreak havoc.
— Michael Swartz (@ttownjotes) March 10, 2013
Maybe we on the right side need to co-opt the hashtag #GovernmentWeCantAfford for ourselves. As Andy so cleverly shows, government can often do with less, but we don’t always have the stones to stand up and tell them so.
In a few days, after it’s all over and soft-headed Republicans who forget that sequestration was Barack Obama’s idea in the first place cave once again to the ginned-up outrage created by the subterfuge of groups like Organizing
Against America For Action, everything will go back to the way it was on the road to serfdom.
Don’t believe OFA isn’t heaping blame on Republicans? Check out the excerpts from these e-mails I’ve received over the last few days. The first is from OFA’s Jim Messina, who should know better but obviously remains either delusional or worried his story won’t stick:
If congressional Republicans don’t act by tomorrow, we’re going to be hit by a series of devastating, automatic budget cuts called the sequester.
It’s a sledgehammer to the budget, our economy, and millions of Americans across the country — and the most frustrating part? It doesn’t have to happen.
The majority of Americans support President Obama’s balanced approach to deficit reduction — add your name if you do, too.
So far, congressional Republicans are refusing to compromise — all because they don’t want to close tax loopholes for millionaires, billionaires, vacation homes, and corporate jets. Seriously.
This has very real consequences.
On the chopping block are 10,000 teaching jobs, more than 70,000 kids’ spots in Head Start, $35 million for local fire departments, $43 million to make sure seniors don’t go hungry, and access to nutrition assistance for 600,000 women and their families. That’s just a few of the things we’ll lose.
The second came from OFA’s Jon Carson yesterday:
Today, because congressional Republicans refused to act, devastating budget cuts known as the sequester are going into effect.
They’re self-inflicted wounds, and they didn’t have to happen.
Congress can stop all of this right away — and pursue a balanced approach to deficit reduction.
That’s what the vast majority of Americans want, and yesterday, more than 100,000 Americans called on Congress to be reasonable about the budget.
Finally, from Stephanie Cutter. Note the similarities in phrasing and dire predictions of gloom ahead:
Prepare yourself for job layoffs, reduced access to early education, slower emergency response, slashed health care, and more people living on the street.
This Friday is the final deadline for congressional Republicans to stop disastrous automatic spending cuts (known as the “sequester”) that will hurt everyday Americans — including you.
These budget cuts will take a sledgehammer to the budget, and indiscriminately cut critical programs vital to economic growth and middle class families.
If Congress fails to act, we’d see budget cuts pretty much across the board to critical services that teachers, first responders, seniors, children, and our men and women in uniform rely on every day.
It sounds bad because it is. And with all these cuts on the line, why are congressional Republicans refusing to budge?
Because to do so, they’d have to close tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires, oil companies, vacation homes, and private jet owners. I’m not kidding.
It’s on each of us to speak up. Share what these budget cuts could mean to you — or someone you know — today. Congress needs to hear it.
President Obama has offered a balanced plan to reduce our deficit, asking the wealthy to pay their fair share so that we can protect programs that are incredibly important for working and middle-class Americans.
But congressional Republicans so far are refusing to compromise.
Here are some of the consequences if Congress fails to act by Friday:
– 10,000 teachers would be laid off, $400 million would be cut from Head Start, the program that makes sure at-risk preschoolers are ready for kindergarten, and 70,000 kids would be kicked out of the early-education program completely.
– The budget for firemen and other first responders to react when natural disasters strike would be cut by $35 million.
– Nutrition programs that help make sure seniors don’t go hungry would be cut by $43 million.
– A program that helps provide housing for the formerly homeless, including many veterans, would be shuttered, putting them at risk of going back on the street.
– A number of programs that help the most vulnerable families and children would be slashed — including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children dropping 600,000 women alone.
Right now, each of us has a responsibility to step up and make sure Congress hears our voices.
Whether you’d be directly affected by these sequester cuts, or whether they’d affect a senior, veteran, or teacher you know, please share what they mean to you:
Let’s keep the pressure on congressional Republicans to do the right thing.
What they don’t tell you is that Republicans DID “the right thing”, but their cuts weren’t to Barack Obama’s liking because they insisted on no tax increases this time. (Remember, the last “fiscal cliff” deal at the end of last year increased taxes on the so-called “wealthy” back to the nearly 40 percent rate they paid under the Clinton Administration, piling on over $600 billion in revenue Washington will spend, spend, spend.)
As Stephen Dinan wrote in the Washington Times, this wheel was set in motion two years ago:
The sequesters were set into motion by the 2011 debt deal, and were meant to be too painful for anyone to accept. They were part of a package that gave Mr. Obama the power to raise the government’s debt ceiling by more than $2 trillion, in exchange for spending caps and the deeper sequester spending cuts.
That debt increase has been used up, but Congress and Mr. Obama are still fighting over whether to follow through on the spending cuts.
Mr. Obama said he was unwilling to shoulder responsibility for the cuts and threatened to veto the Republican plan, saying he would accept a bill only with tax increases included. The Republican plan fell 22 votes short of the 60 needed to move ahead. (Emphasis mine.)
So the unwillingness to compromise is exclusively from the White House, because Obama seems to believe that if he can make the cuts as painful as possible he’ll shame Republicans into accepting yet more tax increases (which he seems to have direction his minions to dub as “tax loopholes.”) The Republican Study Committee puts this into perspective:
The sequester was the brainchild of the Obama administration in the first place, and the House passed targeted spending cuts to replace the across-the-board sequester nearly 300 days ago. Washington clearly has a spending problem, and we need real spending cuts in order to get our country back on track.
Remember, this is all over $85 billion which, thanks to typical Washington accounting, isn’t really $85 billion in actual spending but mainly projected spending. In terms of a $3.7 trillion budget we’re almost talking about a rounding error – to me, real cuts would be more in the neighborhood of $370 billion in actual dollars not spent (or borrowed).
As noted on CNS News, one representative gets it:
“The fact is, when we accepted the president’s sequester 18 months ago, we made a deal, a dollar for cuts for a dollar of debt limit increase,” (Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas) said during a press conference with House Republican leaders. ”If he wants to do the bait-and-switch now, we will have lied to our constituents by replacing those with tax increases.”
“This leads you to the truth, and the truth is the president needs to come back from his campaign style tour, stop scaring people, and work with us to address the issue of the debt and deficits, get the economy moving and people back to work,” Jenkins said.
So, President Obama, you can keep trying to blame Republicans or you can get in there and address the problem by working on the cuts YOU agreed to. You can fool enough of the people to get elected twice, but you’re not fooling me.
So far I’ve survived sequestration just fine, and I plan to continue doing so.
This week I had the opportunity to speak to Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, about a number of topics affecting both Maryland and the nation at large. We also spoke a little bit about Tom’s book, The Corruption Chronicles: Obama’s Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government during our conversation.
monoblogue: The reason I wanted to talk to you – and I briefly got to talk to you at Turning the Tides, and got a copy of your book – what interested me in talking to you was your statement that you work as much in Maryland as you do any other state, based on all the petition drives and other political items we have – at the conference you talked about illegal immigration. Given that you’ve already been involved in our petition process, and knowing that the illegal immigration issue is off the table but that there will be more petitions on issues such as gun control – do you think you’ll be getting more involved in Maryland politics as time goes on?
Fitton: Well, some of these issues are off the table. Illegal immigration continues to be a debate on the law that was passed and upheld via referendum, (but) whether it’s legal or Constitutional I think is a question which could be further litigated. The Left in Maryland is upset with the use of the initiative process to challenge the legislation – some of which was very radical – that came out of the Maryland legislature and was signed by the Governor. They’re seeking to restrict the ability of Marylanders to have a say in their laws through this referendum process.
Obviously, with gun control most publicly on the agenda, that’s something the Left – if gun control is to be passed, there’s going to be heightened interest by the Left in restricting people’s ability to challenge and have a say on that law, or those gun restrictions.
monoblogue: Do you find Maryland is more of a “problem child” state than any other, or is it that it just so happens that it’s our turn in the cycle and maybe this time next year Illinois will be a problem, or New York, or what have you?
Fitton: Maryland doesn’t have any vibrant opposition; it’s a one-party state. That results in legislation and policies which aren’t as smart… in states where you have the vigorous back-and-forth between parties and philosophies, you get policies and legislation that is more commonsense and down the middle of the road. But Maryland seems to be a laboratory for the far left and, as a result, you get policies that are way out there, not only in terms of being bad policy, but even being good law in terms of being valid under the law.
monoblogue: So you’ll be more busy in our state than, say, an Alabama or Oklahoma – states that tend to be more conservative.
Fitton: Well, we are busy. In Maryland we’ve been extremely active, there’s been a lot of bad policy. I don’t want to attribute it to a political party, but certainly liberals are implementing their policies and the rule of law seems to be a secondary consideration in some of their implementations.
monoblogue: Yes, as you said at the conference, “bad policy is usually corrupt,” and Maryland does seem to take the cake – having lived here for several years I know this. You can also extrapolate that on a national level – you wrote The Corruption Chronicles, and that’s 350 pages of Obama’s misdeeds in just three years. (laughs) I don’t know if you’re going to write a second book on the second term, or do you think you have the point made already?
Fitton: Well, the book only touched the surface. We talked about the Clinton years’ corruption, corruption during the Bush years, and obviously the current crisis. This President represents a challenge to those of us who value Constitutional government and the rule of law; a challenge that we haven’t seen in recent memory.
monoblogue: True; like I said, you could write a second book for the second term – that’s not a problem. But I do want to point out that…
Fitton: Well, we could write a second book for the first term.
monoblogue: (laughs) That’s true.
Fitton: The government has grown by about a third, but oversight has actually decreased – Congress used to have five – well, you see this quoted in the book – five thousand oversight hearings a year, more or less, and now it’s down to about three thousand. So our government has increased by a third, but the oversight, at least Congressional oversight, has decreased by an even greater amount. Our government is really truly out of control in the sense that it’s not accountable to Congress and, frankly, if not for independent watchdogs like Judicial Watch and independent, enterprising media, you wonder what would be going on in Washington but for our activities given the lawlessness of so much of what the government’s doing.
monoblogue: Right. And I know from previously knowing a little bit about Judicial Watch (that) you guys are equal-opportunity; if a conservative President does something that you feel is unwise, you’re going to be on them, too. There were a few things you opposed President Bush on, so it’s not – you’re considered a conservative organization, but it’s very much a good-government organization.
Fitton: That’s right. And given the size of government, it’s always hard for it to be good. President Bush was, unfortunately, too much on the side of secrecy and lack of accountability. President Obama was elected, initially, in part as a reaction to that. And there’s good reason President Obama is always talking about transparency, because he understands the American people demanded it of their government. What we found is that his promises of transparency, his promotion of it, is completely at odds with actual policies.
monoblogue: Exactly, but that’s true of a lot of other things.
Fitton: That is true, but when it comes to issues of ethics, transparency, and accountability in government this administration presents challenges to us that we haven’t historically seen before, at least in recent times.
monoblogue: They don’t seem to be letting crises go to waste, that’s for sure. If you look at the problem as a whole, you oversee a large group that is obviously a watchdog, but maybe the better question – and something that could have been covered a little bit better in our brief time listening to you – is what can we do as a citizen about pointing out these things and getting the word out and helping to maybe rein in some of the excesses of government?
Fitton: Well, there are several things – obviously number one, if I can be provincial, is to support Judicial Watch. Secondly, you write letters to the editor to your media and elsewhere and alert your friends and family to these issues, about the importance of government accountability, transparency, and combating corruption, and you pressure Congress to do their job to oversee government activities and to make sure that they, themselves, in Congress are behaving appropriately, too. We see so many Congressional ethics scandals where the ethical transgressions are whisked away with a slap of the wrist – that’s got to end.
Whether you’re Democrat or Republican you care about these transparency and corruption issues; it’s most important that Democrats go after Democrat corruption or Republicans after Republican corruption, because, obviously, Republicans and Democrats have an interest in going after corruption in the other guy’s party, but they don’t look at the speck in their own eyes. It’s up to everyday Americans who are members of these parties and who have influence to say we’ve got to make sure we don’t have any corruption on our side of the table. We have to take partisanship out of policing corruption.
monoblogue: That sounds like a good plan, because many people I know, mostly Republicans but a few Democrats, they’re as interested in good government as I am. Yes, we disagree on the extent of government, but they would like to see clean government that’s efficient, does what it says it’s going to do, and is transparent. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the higher people are in power, the more they want to obfuscate.
Fitton: I agree, and we need the expectation – we have to have the understanding that we’re just not going to tolerate this anymore. Zero tolerance – I hate that phrase…
monoblogue: I do too.
Fitton: …but we have to have a much lower level of toleration for corruption in public office.
monoblogue: So, unfortunately, it seems like you have a neverending job taking care of the mess in both Annapolis and Washington. (laughs) And other state capitals, too.
Fitton: Well, it’s a – oversight and making sure our systems of government run well and are free of corruption certainly is an obligation to anyone who wants to be part of a society that purports to govern itself. I think it’s an obligation, and government has to be managed by its citizens, and be held accountable all the time. So we can never cease the vigilance; it’s the price of citizenship in some ways – citizenship properly understood in areas of making sure the government’s held to account if you really, truly believe in self-government.
monoblogue: We have to be as watchful as you are, is basically what you’re saying.
Fitton: Everyone needs to ask questions, demand accountability, demand information, and demand transparency. I think it comes with the territory for a republican form of government, with a small “r.”
monoblogue: Yes, with a small “r.” But I appreciate this, and it sounds like a good place to stop.
Fitton: Well, thanks Michael. I appreciate your interest in our work, and thanks for promoting it.
monoblogue: I appreciate the time.
While I have a guest in mind for next week, the arrangements haven’t been finalized. Stay tuned.
If you don’t like the narrative, change it. That’s what proponents of in-state tuition for illegal aliens did in Maryland, resulting in the passage of Question 4 last fall. It became an issue of “fairness” rather than an issue of rewarding lawbreakers.
For Action Against America is trying this tactic on a national scale, with an e-mail from Jose Magana asking “where’s your family from?” (The answer in my case: Toledo, Ohio.)
I was brought to this country from Mexico when I was 2 years old.
I am an undocumented immigrant — and I am living proof that our immigration system is broken.
For the first 17 years of my life, I slept on a couch. My mom worked three jobs to support our family.
I worked hard, too. I did my homework, participated in class, and earned the opportunity go to college. But after I enrolled, state law changed and many undocumented immigrants were forced to drop out. Suddenly they could no longer afford the education they were eager to work for.
We started organizing. We’d go up to people on campus, and ask them if they’d heard about the DREAM Act, which would allow hard-working immigrants who grew up in the U.S. to earn a path to citizenship. For those who opposed it, we’d tell them what happened to us.
It was amazing: Just telling our stories would change people’s minds.
This is exactly how we’re going to persuade people across the country to get behind President Obama’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
Everyone has a story — I’m sure you do, too. As the President said last week, “Unless you’re one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from someplace else. Somebody brought you.”
At this critical moment, will you share your immigration story? Organizing for Action will use these stories to move the conversation forward.
Now, almost six years later, I’ve completed law school and was fortunate to receive deferred action. I consider myself an American, and I want to play by the same rules as everyone else. But, as it stands, I can never become a citizen. I can’t adjust my status. For most of my life, I could have been arrested, detained, and deported.
I’m not alone. Millions of undocumented immigrants like me live in fear of being deported permanently to a country we may have never even visited. Our entire lives could be erased.
You might not live under the same shadow. But the best thing about this country is that we are more alike than we are different. We all have a story of a mother, or grandfather, or great-great grandparent who came here to find opportunity or safety.
Through this grassroots movement, we can raise our voices, tell our stories, and make sure Congress and all Americans better understand the ties that bind us. Our stories can drive our organizing. Share your own story today, and help Organizing for Action get the word out on why this matters:
The majority of Americans agree we need to fix our badly broken system, and we saw major progress last week. But it’s on us to keep up the momentum and make sure it gets done.
Thanks for speaking up.
As usual, the links return to the my.barackobama.com domain, which is still active even though he won four months ago.
But to me what’s more important is what’s missing. For example, why was mom working three jobs? First of all, someone obviously hired her not knowing (or not caring) about her immigration status. Did she get a driver’s license, Social Security number, and so forth illegally? In and of itself, crossing the border illegally is not a serious crime – but forgery and passing yourself off as another person is. How about Jose? What sort of documents does he possess since he came here illegally?
Listen, I’m glad he went to law school. Hopefully what he learned there is that we are a nation of laws, and his very presence here violates a fair number of them.
So when immigrants are beseeched to share their stories, it’s not to “move the conversation forward.” It’s to obfuscate the fact that millions upon millions are here illegally. That’s a slap in the face to those who did things the right way for their American dream. I want to say it was my great-grandparents who came here from Germany and Poland; granted, the laws were much different back at the turn of the last century but undesirables could – and were – sent packing back to their homelands, even in that era.
Sadly, for all his good qualities, Jose seems to be the exception to the rule. He’s obviously one of those who got the pseudo-amnesty (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from Barack Obama last year so he wouldn’t have to go back to Mexico.
But let’s turn the story on its head. How fair do you think it is he got the preferential treatment of a tuition break, at least until, as he states, “state law changed and many undocumented immigrants were forced to drop out.” (We don’t know which state.) Presumably they no longer received the in-state tuition break meant for students who lived in-state legally.
More importantly: how fair is it that he can work legally (thanks to DAFCA) but his mother cannot?
Another thing we don’t know: how many brothers and sisters does Jose have, particularly those who were fortunate enough to be born here as “anchor babies.” Doesn’t matter who the dad is, he could be illegal, too. (Sort of like an alternate take on the “Julia” character from Obama’s campaign, we know nothing about what Jose’s father did for the family.)
In short, because the illegal alien advocates can’t win on the facts, the Obama administration recruited one of the few who seems to want to assimilate into American culture as a friendly, non-threatening spokesperson for the effort. But there’s a big difference between his generation and that of my ancestors who came from Europe. Of course, both had a language barrier and both were willing to work hard to make ends meet at “jobs Americans wouldn’t do.”
But the children of my ancestors wanted to be American, so much so that there’s very little which belies my family’s ethnic heritage besides the name and my dad’s longtime enjoyment of polka music. Aside from that, we were thoroughly American two generations removed.
Instead, in this day and age many who come here, whether through cultural or religious preference, have two to three generations who maintain the ways of their homeland. Rather than actively seek to assimilate, they would rather America adapt to suit them. Growing up we weren’t subjected to bilingual society, nor was anyone else outside a few limited enclaves within large cities (like Chinatown.)
But in my travels, particularly along U.S. 13 south into Virginia, I find a number of businesses which cater to the 9 percent of Accomack County residents who do not speak English at home – the signage is in Spanish. (Amazingly, nationwide this number is at 20 percent.) One would think those who don’t speak English would want to be part of the 90-plus percent who do; that’s always been the norm. And I’m aware that the actual number of Spanish-speaking residents who reside there is probably double what the official Census data I looked up shows; even so, the vast majority speak English.
In the end, though, it’s about politics. Both parties believe that bending over backwards to cater to the Latino population will win them votes; however, Republicans – who are traditionally immigration and border security hawks – risk alienating more of their base than they would win among Latino voters. And Democrats know it, which is why the push to make immigration an emotional issue rather than a rational one. That’s the only way they can win.
If we are a nation of laws, Jose Magana goes back to Mexico. As a law student, he has the skills to get a green card and return to work here legally but I believe he should return to his native country to pursue the option.
Obviously some will howl that it’s not fair he has to do this, but the lesson here is life’s not fair. Some of us were blessed to be born in America, others go through the legal process to become naturalized, and still others choose to stay here temporarily. But they should do it legally, and that’s where Jose is lacking. Say “no way” to Jose and his sob story.
The story I’m going to reference is a few days old, but the point made is still valid.
On Monday the Washington Times ran this piece which simply restated facts many already knew, but made them clear for comparison’s sake: the entirety of this year’s tax increase on the rich was spent on one storm’s relief. Obviously insurance companies and other private-sector industries had sizable losses on Superstorm Sandy as well, but for the insurance industry it’s chalked up as the cost of doing business and over time they will raise rates (and/or deny coverage) to eventually make themselves whole.
But this piece isn’t being written to argue whether government assistance of victims of freakish weather is good policy. We’ve spent the equivalent amount to all these billions (and more) in recent years to prop up failed businesses, subsidize those in industries the market deemed not ready for prime time, and in giveaways to tinpot dictators around the world. We’ve created weaponry for which there may not be an application, paid producers not to produce, and tried to build nations out of subjects unwilling to cooperate. And $50 billion doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the overall sum millions feel they are entitled to by virtue of reaching a certain age and having a few pennies on the dollar deducted from their paychecks over the lifespan of their respective careers.
To sum up: it’s chump change.
Yet I don’t want to make the case that those who are affected aren’t going to miss it. While I don’t think anyone is going to go to the Jersey Shore specifically to see where their share of the $50 billion went – in many cases, the repairs and spending won’t be on the drawing board until later this summer anyway, with some infrastructure reconstruction still years away – the Times story illustrates once again the folly of Band-Aid solutions to our chest wound of deficit spending.
Moreover, the old saw about raising taxes in a recession? Well, if the economic figures from the fourth quarter of 2012 hold up, we’re halfway to a recession right now. Of course there’s always the prospect for an “adjustment” in the next quarter which will goose the GDP just to the growth side of zero, but most people are believing their own eyes rather than the media hype – consumer confidence is down, the 2012 holiday season shopping was pretty much a bust, and I read a Rasmussen Poll this morning that fewer than 2 in 5 of those surveyed think the economy will be better in five years; the lowest mark since the question was first asked in 2009. (At that time over 3 in 5 believed the economy would be better. Fooled you!) In the perception of many, we are indeed in a recession and the government’s only solutions seem to be promises and handouts. In the oft-quoted words of Margaret Thatcher, that works until you run out of other people’s money.
It’s rather unfortunate that Barack Obama and Harry Reid received another four and two years, respectively, to continue to plunder the pocketbooks of those they deem able to afford such a financial flogging, print more money, and create IOUs to handle the rest. Most of those who have even the tiniest sliver of common sense know that’s not the long-term solution, but voters placed Obama and Reid at the helm, the captains of the government Titanic approaching the financial iceberg dead ahead. And the leaky lifeboat commanded by John Boehner at the House is little better; look for small business owners to be swept overboard and drown in the sea of red ink created by a system which has finally shown itself to be the unsustainable one many seers knew it would be, a theory derived from a careful reading of history.
In general I’m an optimist, and perhaps we as a nation can avoid the iceberg and the rocky shoals which await us about our current course. With luck we can navigate a safe passage with the proper austerity program and leadership back toward a government restored to its rightful place.
But we have placed ourselves in a situation where the results are more likely to be worse than better, as tonedeaf Washington leadership continues on a course to economic destruction. If you thought the “fiscal cliff” was a steep precipice, the chasm of our unfunded liabilities could be the bottomless pit. Mixed metaphors aside, the reality is we aren’t in good shape and solutions won’t be coming very quickly from Washington.
Indications are that Maryland’s emboldened gun control proponents will receive a boost Wednesday through a Presidential visit. As one legislator, State Senator Joe Getty, stated:
There is lots of chatter in the hallways of Annapolis that President Barack Obama will be visiting Annapolis to endorse the gun control legislation proposed by Governor Martin O’Malley.
That would make lots of sense on behalf of both politicians.
For Obama, it is unlikely that his gun control proposals will pass the U.S. House of Representatives, so positive benefits can be derived for him by aligning himself with the gun licensing requirements and weapons ban on the fast-track in a Democratic-controlled state.
For O’Malley, he not only get increased national exposure from the stature of a presidential visit but also the advocacy to bring potential recalcitrant Democrats into line with a presidential plea for party loyalty in the gun control debate.
Further credence is lent to the prospect through a note passed to me by a friend. This is a notice from the FAA regarding next Wednesday, February 6:
VIP Notice – Annapolis, Maryland
Notice Number: NOTC4556
Notice: Expect VIP movement February 06, 2013 in the vicinity of Annapolis, Maryland. Pilots can expect airspace restrictions in conjunction with this VIP movement. The FAA recommends that all aircraft operators check NOTAMs OFTEN for mandatory airspace restrictions prior to operations within this region.
Specific instructions and restrictions are available at http://tfr.faa.gov once the NOTAM has been issued. (Emphasis in original.)
The February 6 date is significant because the governor’s pet gun control bill, SB281, is being heard that day by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Among other things, the 38-page bill requires registration of so-called “assault weapons” by November 1, 2013, reduces the allowable magazine capacity to 10 rounds, and establishes “handgun qualification licenses” (read: a series of expensive and intrusive hoops to jump through in order to possess what is supposed to be granted you through an inalienable right to self-defense.)
So how will the President’s visit affect the proceedings? Well, as Getty notes, the President’s appearance could bring a few more House Democrats to the gun grabbers’ side (this term is literally used, based on the bill’s requirements.) The conventional wisdom is that it has enough votes to pass in the Maryland Senate but its fate is much more iffy in the House of Delegates.
But there’s the pro-Second Amendment side to consider as well. If downtown Annapolis becomes a security zone, particularly if Barack Obama chooses to speak at Lawyers’ Mall, it may well leave protesters nowhere to go. They’d be scattered around and scattered is not newsworthy nor is it strength in numbers. Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if busloads of fawning Obama supporters are brought in to provide the President with a supportive crowd.
And let’s not overlook another calculation made by the Democrats. Two of the biggest pet issues pro-liberty forces are concerned about in this legislative session are the onerous (and ultimately futile insofar as preventing crime goes) gun control measures being pushed by Martin O’Malley and the Tier Map repeal bill (HB106) proposed on the House side by Delegate Mike McDermott. It’s not for nothing that both the SB281 and HB106 hearings are being held at the exact same time in a brilliant piece of divide-and-conquer strategy. Bad enough that many working people (like me) can’t get to the hearings because they’re held during normal business hours in Annapolis, but to have two bills strongly opposed by pro-liberty citizens go through a hearing process at such an inconvenient time is a huge obstacle.
A suggestion I’m making to counter that is to submit written testimony. I’m speaking off the cuff here – so input would be appreciated – but having submitted written testimony before, I seem to recall the idea is to keep it to a length where, if spoken, it takes about 3 minutes to deliver – about 600 words, give or take. I plan on devoting part of my weekend to submitting written testimony for both bills, whether it will be on behalf of the entire Wicomico County Republican Central Committee or my own personal viewpoint.
One final word. The last thing we need with a Presidential visit is for someone to go off-message by making this a personal vendetta against Barack Obama. We can – and should – say that the President is wrong in trying to usurp our inalienable rights and continues to go to the extreme of emotional appeal as a knee-jerk reaction to a problem where guns were the tool but not the cause. Our side has proposed common-sense solutions that don’t involve making criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens, such as allowing willing teachers who go through a prescribed and recommended gun safety course - a monetary and time investment they are willing to voluntarily make – to carry their weapons in schools. Note again that mass shootings tend to happen in so-called “gun free zones” and stop once authorities with firepower arrive.
We can win this fight, despite the obstacles and star power placed in front of us. Obviously the other side is worried, for if it were a slam dunk fait accompli that the gun bill would pass there wouldn’t be a visit from Barack Obama until the bill was on Martin O’Malley’s desk. So let’s get out there and fight!
Perhaps I don’t do this as much as I should, but in perusing the overall navel-gazing we in the conservative movement have undertaken since November’s losses I wonder how many have stepped back and looked at the big picture. Why, we cry, did so many vote for Barack Obama and the Democrats?
More and more I hear the phrase “low-information voter” bandied about. It goes without saying that, with the rare exception of a Presidential debate, the audience for any random episode of “American Idol” or “The Bachelor” is many times greater than the one for any single news or public affairs program. In truth, that’s nothing new because documentaries have been seen as necessary evils on major networks for years – that’s why you rarely see them on network television anymore. Once upon a time, television was thought of as an educational medium and weekends were devoted to highbrow programming rather than sports. But that went away decades ago and now the NFL, NASCAR, and golf are the primary triumvirate of weekend television viewing.
Yet with the more recent “bread and circuses” approach to American life and the shortened attention span most of us have – what was I talking about again? Oh, yeah – politics seems to be out of sight and out of mind to most unless there is a crisis manufactured for public consumption by either current events, the media, or both, with the simpler the explanation the better. Witness the sudden emergence of gun control as an important crisis after the Sandy Hook massacre; not only did it bring an issue to the forefront where emotions could be easily manipulated to bring out the desired political movement, but it also served as yet another distraction to economic and national security issues which are less exciting to discuss but very important to our everyday lives. The odds of a child being mowed down in a Sandy Hook-style assault are still very remote, but the risk to our economy stemming from dangerous financial choices? Almost a certainty, but a certainty not easily broken down to the level of a soundbite.
Unfortunately, people aren’t naturally disposed to look beyond the superficial, day-to-day routine of life. I admit that there are times when I wouldn’t mind just chucking it all and allowing someone else to take the load off my shoulders. We’ve heard the stories before about those who finagle the system to collect disability payments or otherwise transfer wealth from those who work to their own coffers. But instead of descending to their level, there are some of us who would rather work to give a hand up rather than a handout. I am certainly not a wealthy man and I’m not too proud to accept the donations which occasionally come my way thanks to my work here, but what I make I earn and I sleep well enough at night because of that.
There are still enough of us who care to make a difference, but the way we interact with people has to change. Yes, I’m quite aware that insofar as marketing goes I can exist in a nice little niche of the choir I generally speak to and scratch out somewhat of a living, but my job isn’t one of sitting within this comfort zone. Besides the obvious of trying to feed the family and keep a roof over our heads, my job, as I see it first and foremost, is to be an educator whether through my journalism or being what some call an “opinion leader.”
If you read my book you would see that I have a lot of ideas, and I try to briefly explain my rationale for thinking as I do. But I understand that not everyone can or will buy the tome, nor can they carry it wherever they go. So I have to go beyond the pages and take what it says to heart in an effort to bring people to our side. The problem is that I don’t react to things on the same emotional level that many other people do, and it’s more of a struggle when you put logic up against emotion. Using Sandy Hook as an example, the knee-jerk reaction of banning “assault weapons” doesn’t take a number of things into account:
- The moment the Sandy Hook shooter stole his mother’s (legally owned) guns – including handguns – he broke the law. Criminals, by definition, don’t follow laws.
- Several of the features which make a rifle appear to be an “assault weapon” are simply cosmetic or for convenience, like a pistol grip for better control of the weapon. A truly automatic, military-style weapon is rarely seen on the streets and wasn’t used at Sandy Hook, either.
- As a practical matter, how does a blanket ban affect someone who is in law enforcement? Let’s say they have a “banned” weapon for work – do they have to leave it there when they go home?
- What about those who already own these blacklisted weapons – will they be compensated at market value for the loss of their property? I’m not holding my breath.
- Finally, there is this thing called the Second Amendment. It’s not about hunting, the National Guard, or self-defense on more than a peripheral level. It’s more about self-defense of liberty. Maybe one out of ten million gun owners would feel justified in taking the law into their own hands and playing the vigilante. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is highly unlikely.
The reason I called this piece “Erosion” is that we are watching a slow-motion weathering away of the rights we should consider inalienable rights. Too many equate the bounties of our standard of living to our “rights,” believing we are owed a living and the “freedom” to veg out and watch “The Big Bang Theory” just on account of being an American.
These are the folks who ask: four people were murdered at an American consulate in Benghazi? What difference does it make? That’s over in Libya, where that crazy guy we bombed awhile back runs the show…oh, he died? Why are we messing around with those camel jockeys anyway? The answers are there, but the desire to find out the real story doesn’t seem to exist within most Americans.
And if I had that answer, I would be running a website with 15-20 million viewers per week (like “American Idol”) instead of one which barely scrapes by with a couple thousand. If I’m preaching to a small choir, the lesson I want to impart is one of spreading the word above and beyond what this website directly reaches. Let’s be teachers as well as advocates.