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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

John McCain & The Washington Post

  John McCain & The Washington Post
I hardly knew whether to laugh or cry when I picked up the Sunday, April 20, 2008 edition of The Washington Post. There on the front page, presented as the feature story of the day, was the beginning of a "hit" piece on John McCain. The issue was John’s famous, always self-serving temper. 

Could this be the same Washington Post that endorsed John McCain in the heat of the Republican primary race? When the Post and the NY Times endorsed McCain, I said to myself, "So what?" They certainly won’t endorse him in the general election." I’d like to say "I told you so," but it wouldn’t be a solo, it would be a chorus.

I wanted to write a blog about John McCain, the "Me Too!" Republican or John McCain, the "Johnny one note conservative," but if it wasn’t so sad that the ‘stupid party’ allowed Independents and Democrats to select their nominee, I’d laugh out loud.

How serious is McCain’s anger? Probably not as important as Obama’s questionable patriotism or Clinton’s lack of veracity, or their unified commitment to socialism that will surely lead to a depression. As one who has been at the receiving end of Senator McCain’s anger, I must chuckle.

No, I’m not too upset with McCain’s anger. That would be hypocritical of me since I have angry outbursts of my own (for which I am embarrassed and apologetic). But I am concerned by the Senator’s "one note conservative" track record.
Let’s see how the self-proclaimed "Reagan conservative" stands on the most important issues of the day:

    * Tax cuts: Although he voted against the Bush tax cuts twice, he
       now pledges allegiance to lower taxes.

    * Immigration: He is an "open borders" advocate through
       and through. 

    * Global Warming: Although the scientific community is divided on
       the cause of any global warming (some even contend the planet
       may be cooling), McCain has a "me too" position on this issue.
       Forget about a thorough scientific investigation, "Dam the
       torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

    * Conservative judges: The McCain folks tell us not to worry, John
       has always voted for conservative judges. Well, I hate to be a
       skeptic, but there is a big difference between voting for
       conservative judges and nominating conservative judges. John
       Fund of The Wall Street Journal says he was at a meeting where
       McCain said he would not nominate a judge like Justice Sam Alito
       because "he wears his conservatism on his sleeve." If you don’t
       feel a little less confident about President McCain nominating
       conservative judges, I’d be surprised." Just ask yourself this
       question: "Who is more conservative, President George H.W. Bush
       or Senator John McCain?" Bush ’41 gave us Clarence Thomas, a
       Justice committed to the US Constitution, but he also gave us
       Justice David Souter, one of the worst members of Court. Now,
       how’s your confidence that John McCain will appoint
       conservative judges?

All of the above now brings us to "Johnny one note conservative," John McCain.

    * The War on Terrorism. This is it. Obama and Clinton will pull out,
       demeaning the sacrifices of our valiant fighting men and women.
       McCain will stand and fight.

Is this "one note" enough? Maybe.

It must be weighed against his "Democrat-like" positions on domestic issues. It must be considered against the devastation that Obama and Clinton will wreck on our land.

It may be enough.

It may be enough to ignore the fact that we will be turning the Republican Party over to the "Rockefeller wing" of the party and that the domestic agenda will be "socialism lite."

If John McCain wants to win he needs to send a very clear signal to the conservatives who make up the rank and file of the Republican Party by selecting a clear conservative as his running mate. Otherwise the GOP and the McCain presidency will lack the necessary grassroots energy and enthusiasm needed to propel it into the White House. 

It will be interesting for sure.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pebbles in Your Mouth?

                       Pebbles in Your Mouth?
Recently, the US Supreme Court held oral arguments in regard to the so-called "millionaires" provision that limits personal expenditures of a candidate running for Congress to $350,000. In regard to the goal of achieving a "level playing field" in the campaign process, Justice Antonio Scalia sarcastically asked, "What are we to do next if one candidate is more articulate than another, require him to speak with pebbles in his mouth?" What a breath of fresh air.

I am so weary of governmental efforts to "level the playing field." I have lousy hand-eye coordination that kept me from being a competitive Little League player when I was twelve. Does that mean the Little League or the government should have put a patch over one eye of the other players? I was also too short to dunk a basketball. I guess they should have given me a special lower basket.

If there is one thing I hope I taught my children, it’s that life is not fair—at least not on this side of heaven. God has given us all different talents and abilities. We are exactly who He wanted us to be. It is in overcoming some of our limitations that we gain character.

I would love to hit the little white ball straight down the fairway, putt accurately, and shoot in the 70s. It has never happened and it never will happen. 

I’d also love to kick government out of the "fairness" business. Whenever government intervenes, it usually rights one wrong (real or imagined) and creates others. The marketplace, as imperfect as it may be, is always better than government when it comes to fairness. Always!

And when it comes to elections, we’d all be better off shutting down the FEC with all its rules and regulations, and simply requiring full and complete disclosure of all contributions and expenditures on a 48 hour basis over the internet. In spite of what the politicians would lead you to believe, we really are smarter than they think we are. Today’s FEC is a creation that dramatically un-levels the playing field. The incumbents have all the advantages and that is exactly what the creators of the FEC had in mind. Congressmen and Senators get free franking privileges to their constituents, they get a multitude of free flights back to their districts and states, they get free publicity on the local television stations and local newspapers every time they come to town, and they use your tax dollars to build bridges, dams and highways, to enhance their status as bringing home the "pork" to your state or district.

You and I would be better served if all challengers were able to outspend the incumbents, and they would have a chance to do so were it not for the onerous FEC limitations. The playing field has not been leveled, it runs steeply up-hill for challengers thanks to those who created the Federal Election Commission with all its rules, regulations, and limitations. While elections may not always have been fair prior to the FEC, there’s no doubt it’s much less fair today thanks to government meddling.

Lawrence Reed said it best, "Free men are not equal and equal men are not free." Amen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Real Education Tragedy

                      The Real Education Tragedy
There is a real education crisis in America, but because of the players involved, no one wants to face the hard facts. One of those hard facts is that our public schools in the poor areas of our nation are just plain lousy. The drop-out rate is horrendous and the quality of the education those who stay in school receive is sub par (and that’s being generous).

Those who do graduate from high school pay a huge price. When you don’t get a good, solid education, how in the world can you compete in a tough college environment? How can you compete in the workplace? It’s a rotten deal and these children deserve better.

So what’s the problem? Who or what is keeping these schools from being top-flight educational institutions at both the primary and secondary levels?

Well, it’s not money. Take the District of Columbia, for example. The District spends more per pupil than nearly every other state in the nation, but the schools are notoriously lousy. They are lousy in terms of facilities and lousy in terms of education. There is simply no excuse for lousy facilities or getting a lousy education when there is that much money being spent per student.

It’s not the students either. They’re not dumb. Yes, they could use more encouragement and support from their parents, but lots of students could use that.
The real problem is the politicians who are being held captive by the National Education Association, one of the most far-left unions in the United States. Most of the politicians, right and left, know that they could facilitate a better education for the poorest members of our society by embracing school vouchers.

The jury is not out. School vouchers work. It’s happening today in Wisconsin and in other isolated locations across the country. Thanks to school vouchers, thousands of students who live in the poorest areas of Wisconsin are going to great schools thanks to the school voucher system in place. Many of these schools are like St. Marcus, which not only provides a top-flight education, but also the kind of moral and ethical guidance that will help their students become solid members of society. It took a left-right coalition of truly caring political leaders to secure school vouchers in Wisconsin. Together they created a better system for the underprivileged students in their state.

So why isn’t this successful system spreading like wildfire across the nation? There is one reason, and only one reason—the opposition of the most powerful union in America—the National Education Association.

This union wields massive power and control over the policies of the Democratic Party, making the politicians kneel at their altar. While Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lament the plight of poor Americans, especially black Americans, the truth is that they are the ones primarily responsible for holding back poor Americans. They are restraining them from realizing the American dream because they are captives of the NEA.

Almost no one would disagree that the key to getting out of poverty is education. The fact is that quality education for a large portion of our society is within our grasp—almost. If only those who pride themselves as being champions of the poor would put their politics aside and bring quality education to the inner cities and poor rural areas through school vouchers. 

This is a tragedy that need not happen. We have the solution at hand. All that is needed now is political courage.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008



John Verkamp worked as a clerk at the Babbit’s General Store in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was hard to make a living and support a family as a clerk, but John Verkamp had an entrepreneurial spirit. In 1903 he decided to go to the Grand Canyon, about 70 miles north of Flagstaff, and go into business for himself. He knew that the Canyon was becoming quite a tourist destination, especially with the advent of the Santa Fe railroad spur to the Canyon and the construction of the El Tovar Hotel near the rim of the Canyon.

John quickly established a business relationship with the various Indian tribes in the vicinity and offered to sell their wares to Canyon tourists. He staked a tent not far from the Canyon rim and not too far from the El Tovar Hotel itself. It proved to be a profitable venture so he brought his growing family to the Canyon and constructed a wooden building to house his retail store and it was also where he and his family lived on the second floor.

"Verkamp’s, Inc." was in full operation when I first visited the Canyon around 1955 and during all of my seven return visits to the south rim, Verkamp’s continued to operate in the same facility. In fact, generation after generation of Verkamps continued to provide an outlet to the Indian tribes and developed a reputation with suppliers and buyers alike as an honest, straightforward, fair business venture. It was a family run business with each successive generations working behind the counters and learning all the aspects of the retail business. 

The Verkamps did not get rich, but they reached a modicum of success as they continued to live above the store. John Verkamp’s risk-taking, hard work, and skill paid off providing his family and those to follow with good, honest work.

Verkamp’s has always carried high-quality products and provided pleasant, courteous service to their customers and their plan was to continue to providing that service, but Verkamp’s is closing. That’s what I learned when my wife and I recently visited the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Verkamp’s is closing not by choice, but because big, powerful, intrusive government has decided that they don’t want Verkamp’s (or any of the independent merchants) in the National Parks. 

Verkamp’s, an honorable and sound business, is being forced out of business because it doesn’t fit into the plans of the Interior Department of the US Government. It seems that the bureaucrats want more control (when do they not?) and one way to get that control is to force Independents (as they are called) and In-Holders (those whose private property is located within a national park and predates creation of the park) out of our National Parks. In legal terms, this is "taking," in plain, raw terms it’s legalized theft.

The government’s aim is to have just one concessionaire in each national park thus giving the government more control and incidentally eliminating all competition. In economic terms it is government control of economic enterprises. It’s not socialism, which believes in government ownership of all economic enterprises. It’s fascism which by definition advocates government control of all economic enterprises.

In human terms it is just sad. The thought that a sole entrepreneur could risk all to make a living and succeed in taking care of his family only to be eliminated by a government bureaucrat who would never take such a personal risk is aggravating at best. 

Government is supposed to protect the individual, not oppress him, yet that is exactly what the government has done and is doing in the case of Independents and In-Holders in our National Parks. 

For shame, for shame! America needs more John Verkamp’s and fewer bureaucrats… but don’t hold your breath!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Economy

The Economy

According to a report I heard on WMAL radio, March 2008 saw the biggest one month upturn in the stock market in more than 50 years. The balance of trade with foreign countries is the best it has been in decades. Inflation is cruising along at a very agreeable pace. And interest rates are at an all-time low.

So what’s all the talk about a recession? A recession is, by the way, a technical term which (if I understand it correctly) refers to two consecutive quarters of a downturn in economic indicators.
The truth is that a recession will happen only if the American people lose confidence in our economy. If they become uncertain or unsure, they start cutting back financially and that can snowball into a genuine recession.

Sure there has been a housing crisis. Greedy lenders together with greedy and ignorant borrowers created a crisis of sorts. The lenders offered short-term sub prime loans and the borrowers made bad decisions to take those loans. And yes, housing prices have declined significantly. That’s bad for home owners (although it doesn’t affect their standard of living), but along with the current low interest rates, that’s good news for first time home buyers.

Of course the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream news media think that an economic downturn is good news. They, of course, also think that more casualties in Iraq is good news and that higher gasoline prices are good news. What a pickle to be possessed of a philosophy that concludes that anything bad for America and its citizens is good news. If the US does go into a recession they will surely be dancing in the street!

How hard it is on these folks when the stock market heads upward, inflation stays down, there are fewer casualties in Iraq, and there is news of a new oil find in North Dakota.

Sadly, it’s all politics. It is bad politics that places power and control above what is best for your country. What a dismal outlook those on the left have.

Will the economy suffer from a recession? Perhaps. Like life, the economy has its ups and downs. When you consider the fact that George Bush inherited an economy much worse than the one we have today (it was actually in the tank, even though you wouldn’t know it from press reports), today’s economy is amazingly robust. That’s true in spite of the fact that we had to recover from 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and finance a costly war.

The key was the Bush tax cuts which the Democrats promise to let expire. Moreover, they pledge to add additional taxes on top of that. If we avoid sliding into a recession in 2008, but go ahead and elect an Obama or a Clinton to the White House (along with a Democratic Congress), Katy Bar the door! If you liked the economy of Jimmy Carter you’ll love the economy of either Obama or Clinton. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Booing the President

Booing the President

Maybe I’m just old school, but it seems to me that there are lines that American citizens should not cross, and one of those lines is booing the President of the United States. Three years ago I attended opening day for the Washington Nationals Baseball Team. It was their very first game as the Washington Nationals and as a part of the celebration of this event; the President threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It’s an old, old tradition that began in 1910 when President William Howard Taft threw out the first pitch for the Washington Senators. From that day forward it became a tradition for the President of the United States to throw out the first pitch. 

It is, in my mind, a very nice tradition and until recent years the President, whoever he was, Republican or Democrat, received a nice round of applause for getting the grand old game off to a start. That’s why I was disappointed in 2005 when President Bush threw out the first pitch. While most fans gave him a nice round of applause, the boo birds were there. In fact, the couple I took to the game couldn’t see the President because a couple of protestors held up signs of protest when the President stepped on the field.

More recently when I attended opening day at the new Nationals ball park, there was more booing when the President stepped on the field.

Good grief, as Charlie Brown would say. It’s a baseball game for goodness sake! Are we becoming a banana republic where everything must be political? No matter how much you disagree with the current President, be he Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, doesn’t he or she deserve your respect?

As Paul says in Romans 13:7 in regard to government, "Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes, if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."
This doesn’t mean you have to surrender your freedom or you don’t have a right to disagree with the President on policies. I certainly disagree with the current President on a number of issues and I’m sure I’ll disagree with the next President on his or her policies. But I hope I will always give them respect and pray for their protection and wisdom in crisis.

Is America becoming such a coarse society that we no longer maintain a consensus of common decency and courtesy? As an American you have all sorts of freedoms. Nevertheless, there is a difference between what you can do (like booing the President) and what you should do. 

Next year when I go to out to opening day for the Nationals I plan on applauding the President who throws out the first pitch whether her name is Hillary or his name is Barak or John. It’s just the right thing to do.