This afternoon I found myself in our yard with my wife cleaning up, trimming some rose bushes, watering plants, all those things one does as spring turns into summer and we prepare for the first long weekend of the year. We are focused on the pleasures and challenges of our lives and the good fortune we have to live in America. Earlier this morning I wrote a posting on poles for the upcoming primary season as well as reading a number of others thoughts. Many I agreed with, some a few infuriated me but we all can freely express ourselves without fear or thought of reprisal. When I came inside I found my wife watching the movie Taking Chance, the 2009 film portraying the real life story of a Marine Lt. Colonel escorting a fallen Marine, Pfc. Chance Phelps home for the last time in 2004. We set aside plans for the day and found ourselves watching this film, one we had seen before, drawn again in a way to its story.
Arlington National Cemetery
As I watched this movie I found myself thinking of all those who have been brought home for the last time after service to our country as well as those who have never returned. We often talk about their sacrifice for the country, but I think we often fail to appreciate the magnitude of a life lost. For almost 10 years, since that dark Tuesday in September 2001 we have been a country at war. Yet for those of us fortunate enough to live in America, there has been little sign of that war. We see the occasional returning Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine in an airport as they come and go. If we are thoughtful we approach them and thank them for their service. Yet for us life goes on almost without sign of the conflicts which they are keeping from our shores. We hear from time to time of the loss of Americans and allied forces in an ambush or by an IED attack but life goes on for most of us. This has not been Vietnam, Korea or World War 2 with tens of thousands dies, often in a matter of days. Yet the loss of a single member of our armed forces is such a profound loss.
Today as I watch the movie I found myself thinking about the meaning and impact of each and every loss. Thinking about the life cut short far before its time. The lives that were touched by each and every one of these fallen patriots. The families that would not be, the loves that would not be, the children that would never be born. The experiences along the voyage of life the way that would never be seen or felt. No hair turning gray or expanding waistlines. No sunsets shared with spouses and partners. What adventures that would now never be had. The contributions to science, arts, their communities and yes, politics that would never be. The loss of each and every member of our armed services leaves a gaping hole in our country that will never be filled.
As we sit here today enjoying the first days of the summer of 2011 we do so due to the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of lives cut short in order that we can live free. From the opening shots of the War of Independence to the battlefields of Afghanistan today. The magnitude of their sacrifice is almost beyond comprehension. Yet our lives go on and in a way we do honor to their lost lives by the quality of ours lived in freedom. Next time I see a young man or women in uniform I hope I stop and thank them as they have volunteered to put their lives in harm’s way. Someone once said rule number one of war was young men and women die, and rule number two is you can’t change rule number one. I hope as we cook the hot dogs and burgers this weekend we remember this. I hope our leaders and political talking heads remember the absolute sacrifice that will be made by those young men and women in uniform, as well as the many lives which were never finished over the last 235 years.
God bless each and every one who has fallen, who has or currently wears the uniform, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
If one needs any further proof that the GOP grassroots are not thrilled with the current crop of candidates for the 2012 presidential nomination, a new CNN poll released last night illustrated it in Technicolor. Two of the top three contenders are not even announced candidates, and many of those who are buried deep in the pack. The deeper you dig into the poll the more troubling it is for the current announced candidates. Yet the big surprise is the leader with 16 percent support when asked who they favor, likely GOP primary voters picked former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani followed by Mitt Romney with 15 percent, well within the poll’s margin of error. Sarah Palin was in third place with 13 percent and Ron Paul in fourth with 12. The remainder of the field is fractured with none of the announced candidates gaining traction.
Undeclared Republican Candidate for President Rudi Giuliani
But the presence of Rudy Giuliani at the top is startling in two fundamental ways. Giuliani had a disappointing performance in 2008 where he entered the race as a frontrunner and proceeded to run a campaign which won only one delegate to the convention. His campaign, if you can call it that, this time around has been almost stealth like and surprisingly low profile for the former Mayor who loves the spot light. None the less he has been campaigning and focusing on the early states where he may in fact show a great deal of strength, However more surprising is that while so many have suggested that party conservatives are disappointed with the choices, the leader is a candidate who is often viewed as a moderate.
Most in New York would not call Rudy Giuliani a moderate, but to many social conservatives that is exactly what he is. He is also the real deal. Unlike certain other candidates who have seen many (and in some cases most) of their positions evolve based on who they are speaking to, Rudy is Rudy. His standing as a fiscal conservative is unquestioned and his record of fiscal responsibility and control as Mayor of the largest city in the country is impeccable. He inherited a city with a crime rate that left many uncomfortable on the streets and left as Mayor of the safest large city in the world. That Giuliani would defend and protect the homeland if elected mayor is without doubt.
It is his social moderation that has raised many doubts among conservatives. However he in fact personifies one of the core principals of conservatism, that decisions should be made by communities as close to the governed and not by national governments. True conservatives opposed federal activism and support strict constructionist views of the constitution and Giuliani has advocated that since his days as Associate Attorney General in the first term of the Reagan Administration. Combined with the fact he is simply a genuinely strong leader, Giuliani is much more appealing to many conservatives than the left leaning media would like to think.
This poll makes one thing clear, this race is very much open and the president’s polls continue to show he will be very beatable in 2012. But the time for those on the side line to sit and watch and ponder is running out. There is a fine line between plotting a strategic entrance into the race, and doing a sad impersonation of Hamlet.
Read details of the CNN Poll here.
While it is easy to portray the loss in NY 26 as simply as a missed opportunity in a three way brawl with two well funded Democrats, there are some deeper lessons for 2012. Clearly the Democrats have a strategy that worked and they will try to repeat in any district they can of planting fake Tea Party candidates in races. The mainstream media totally ignored the fact that the “Tea Party” candidate had run three times previously as a Democrat and as late as the 2010 election cycle had made contributions to the Democrats. Only a grass roots uproar and efforts to expose the frauds by conservative groups prevented this from being totally successful. That said, there is a lesson for the Tea Party that any third candidate efforts are likely to elect Democrats in almost any race.
The Democrats also test ran their Mediscare campaign with great success where they characterized Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, and specifically its proposals to reform Medicare as an effort that would leave old folks sick on the streets. This is classic Democratic scare tactics where they make no proposals of their own how to solve the nation’s problems but run against the GOP by a well orchestrated scare campaign. They have been using it effectively since they won back the senate in 1996 on republican plans to reform social security. Twenty five years later those reforms seem modest compared to those needed now to restore solvency to the retirement plan, but nobody since has seriously faced the reality which was seen a quarter of a century ago that social security was going bankrupt. Today, the senate democrats, the majority party, are making no budget proposal of their own but rather want to force a vote on the House GOP budget which will be defeated by their majority but they hope to force senate GOP to vote for those cuts. Even faced with a financial crisis the Democrats would rather a vote they can use for politics over one that solves the nation’s problems.
Now is a time of serious problems which require serious efforts to avoid an even deeper crisis. It seems we never g take the fight back to the Democrats. Hade the 1995 GOP plan to reform social security been adopted there would be no need for the significant cuts we face today. These changes are nothing compared to what we will face in a decade if nothing is done. The spending reductions in the Ryan budget are nothing compared to the impact on the economy if we experience a full debt crisis in a decade if the Democratic budget deficit grows unchecked. While the Bush deficits were indefensible, the Obama solution has been to double them. The lesson of NY 26 is we need to take the fight to the democrats first and paint a very real picture of how scary the future will be if we do not restore fiscal responsibility. There are no easy solutions, but it is solutions which America needs.
Filed under 2012 Election, Barak Obama, Budget, Congress, Conservative, Liberals, National Debt, Obama Administration, Spending, Taxes, The Grand Old Party
Yesterday we received a vivid example of why perhaps the single biggest impact the next president may have is the appointment of the next one or two justices to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) as the justices in a 5 to 4 decision upheld an order to release of up to 46,000 prisoners in the California prison system. The written decision was accompanied by dissenting opinions by the court’s four conservative justices which contain some of the most animated language seen in recent years. Justice Anthony Kennedy joined with the courts four liberal justices and wrote the opinion for the majority in upholding a lower court order. Justice Antonin Scalia characterized the lower courts actions saying “The proceedings that led to this result were a judicial travesty”.
The Supreme Court of the United States of America
Now let’s not let The State of California off easy is that they have practiced the dual hypocrisy of being tough on crime while not implementing the policies and resulting spending on prison construction needed to support those policies. California has a death penalty which is widely imposed by local courts and has left the state with the largest death row population in the nation with over 700, yet the state has executed only 13 since the death penalty was reintroduced in 1976. California led the nation with one of the toughest Three Strikes laws resulting in the incarceration of thousands of repeat felons, yet has lagged the nation in new prison construction. Courts for years have been citing the state for the sub standard treatment of inmates and threatening forced releases, yet the Democrat dominated state legislature failed to protect the people of the state from risk posed by a forced release.
Yet the upholding of a lower federal court order directing the release of state inmates on this level is without precedent. Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a dissent joined by Chief Justice John Roberts “The majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California. Before putting public safety at risk, every reasonable precaution should be taken… I fear that today’s decision, like prior prisoner release orders, will lead to a grim roster of victims. I hope that I am wrong. In a few years, we will see.”
While saying he would protect the people of the state, California Governor Jerry Brown did not disagree with the logic of the decision. His administration has a plan to shift as many as 30,000 inmates to already crowded county jails. I guess that means Lindsey Lohan has little to fear about going back to jail.
For Conservatives there is much to fear in this decision and it serves to illustrate how fragile the assumed 5 to 4 conservative majority is on the high court. This extends a recent trend for the high court to insert itself into the affairs of the states in areas of clear state jurisdiction rather than deferring to state courts on those matters. Justice Anthony Kennedy, once seen as part of the 4 conservative justice block curing the Rehnquist court has increasingly joined with the four left wing justices. With major decisions on maters fundamental to the nature of government in our nation moving towards the Supreme Court, issues such as the constitutionality of the individual mandate in Obamacare, nothing is certain.
However perhaps the biggest take away of this decision is how important it is to make sure that the next president to make an appointment to the court is a Conservative Republican. Antonin Scalia, the leading conservative on the court is the second oldest justice at 75, having served more than 24 years. Guessing on when court vacancies will occur is a poor science, however it is likely the winner of the 2012 election will have at least one appointment, and that could well determine the future direction of our country on many current issues. Had John McCain won the 2008 election and made the last two appointments instead of President Obama, this decision almost certainly would not have occurred. Winning elections does matter and has profound effects for generations. This is something those of us on the right cannot
Politics has been one of the loves of my life; I worked on my first campaign when I was 12 years old and appreciate the art of the race. I love to READ speeches; I love to watch political commercials. In modern society this is how a campaign communicates the message. While some are cynical about the political communication process, I find you can in fact tell a great deal about a candidate by the message they send and how they package it. To that end I ran across the most amazing political advertisement I have ever seen today when I was looking at Tim Pawlenty’s youtube postings. No, I’m not in the tank for T-Paw but not many political commercials leave me without words. Up to now Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” and “The Bear” held top spot with me. Lyndon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad from 1964 aired against Barry Goldwater may have been the most effective, but it was purely cynical which may have been a warning for what was to come from the Johnson Administration.
A couple months ago Pawlenty’s exploratory committee aired a video called “Courage to Stand” which is a spectacular combination of massage and visuals. If T-Paw can live up to this and communicate this effectively throughout the campaign, he is well on the way to the White House. For your viewing Pleasure here is “Courage to Stand”.