Election 2012: The First Debate

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, head-to-head in the first debate of the year

The last couple of weeks have been unfortunate for Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign: Economic recovery combined with a bad PR day over the so-called “47% remark”  have given incumbent Barack Obama a significant lead in the ten or so states that will decide this election. Even the predictions of some news networks that tonight’s presidential debate could turn around the election seemed implausibly optimistic in the light of the President’s frightening lead, but over the course of one and a half hours this past night, those journalists turned out to be right. Romney came out swinging tonight, giving his campaign just the spark it needs to have a fighting chance at victory this November.

The debate was conventional in many respects; it hit upon key issues such as jobs, education, and healthcare, but it was novel in that it allowed people all over the country to view both candidates’ plans and promises in a more factual light than could ever be seen in the propaganda ads launched by campaigns and PACs. Romney was forced to bite the bullet and respond to Obama’s complaints that his healthcare plan does not cover those with pre-existing conditions; Obama could not avoid being interrogated by over the debt that his administration has accrued. It was politics at its most direct, its most objective, a contest in which the winner gains not only a victory of public support, but also a victory of logic and sensibility.

Both sides were armed with ample statistics; obviously, neither candidate wanted his spending proposals to look bad, but even before the crossfire started, it was clear that Obama was going to end up playing on the defensive. He had almost no way to cover his poor track record with debt and unemployment, yet even though his challenge was the more difficult during the debate, the President failed to pounce upon several opportunities for a counter-attack that the 2008 Obama would have been more likely to tackle.

The aforementioned “47% of all Americans depend on government” remark ties in perfectly with the President’s earlier campaign ads portraying Romney as a job-killing demon, yet Obama failed to expound upon that weakness, wasting a potentially excellent opportunity to convince voters that he is the “hero of the common American” that he has been trying to sell for the past 4 years.

This is not to say that Governor Romney’s successes in the debate were merely due to a situational advantage and the blunders of his opponent. For each minute spent decrying the follies of massive government spending, Romney spent another minute preaching the good word of the free market, of the efficiency of private enterprise, incidentally highlighting the broad fundamental differences between the two candidates’ plans for America. The Republican ticket recognizes that private enterprise is the engine that spurns economic growth, whereas the Obama faction possesses little more than blind, idealistic faith that the bureaucracy, given enough money, can fix anything.

This is an oversimplification of both sides’ stances, but at the same time, it is exactly what they boil down to. Romney can be a wild card at times, but he at least recognizes that a federal government that sits at 25% of our GDP can’t reduce our debt by continually increasing its spending. The Republican ticket proposes a sensible alternative, to eliminate wasteful government spending and do away with stifling regulations that hurt businesses and slow down our economy, and they hit the message home over the course of the debate.

On In-Trade, the country’s leading prediction market, Romney’s chances for election have jumped from as little as 23% last week to over 32% today, and if Romney and Ryan continue what they started today, they could carry the day this November. It’s not clear at this point whether the Republicans will recover its reputation among battleground states, but this debate was a key step towards victory. Integrity and reason have returned to Governor Romney’s campaign to restore the confidence that they will need on Election Day.

Danger, Danger!

It seems that the battle for liberty will never end. Even our most basic liberties, such as the rights to a fair trial, free speech, free religion, and a free press, enshrined in the US Constitution by our forward-thinking founders who feared that later generations may try to impose the yoke of tyranny on our Republic, are constantly, ceaselessly under siege. Don’t be fooled; this attack on the people does not spring solely from the outside, from freedom-hating communists and Islamists, but also from within our own ranks.

At the present moment, it is clear that many of our elected officials were lying through their teeth when they “solemnly swore” to uphold the Constitution of the United States, among which pack of tyrants is our own President! Yes, if you’ll remember from a few scattered news stories back in December, Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Year 2012, containing language authorizing the indefinite definition of American citizens without cause or trial. Sure, he claimed to have “serious reservations” about the aforementioned arrest powers, but those turned out to be false after he vigorously defended the law in court.

Back in June, I didn’t find it necessary to talk at length about NDAA or explain why our right not to be randomly seized for any reason whatsoever is absolutely sacred (it’s the difference between peace and Soviet Union-era forced labor camps), as New York District Court Judge Katharine Forrest ruled the disputed sections of the Act unconstitutional, but now, the Lil’ Stalin Act is back in play. You heard me right; Obama and his attack hounds lawyers have appealed Forrest’s decision, and for at least the next 10 days, before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals makes its own ruling on NDAA, the injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the law has been suspended.

Would this be a good time to panic? Probably not. The military’s right to indefinite detention of US citizens (and legal resident immigrants, for that matter) is so blatantly unconstitutional that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will more than likely agree with the honorable Judge Forrest. Even if the appeals court’s ruling should fail; the “Freedom 7” journalists will bring NDAA to the Supreme Court, where it will be unlikely that Obama will win given the current Court’s disposition on the right to trial (it has ruled in favor of it 3 times since 2003).

There is obviously something to fear in the current state of our habeas corpus rights; most obviously the possibility (however small) that the case against NDAA will end in a loss for our republic and its Constitution, but also the danger that draconian laws in this vein will keep coming regardless of the courts’ desire to uphold our rights.

Consider that NDAA 2012 saw a near-unanimous approval in the Senate (92-8), a huge margin of victory in the House (283-136), and was met with relatively little concern by the people. This is disconcerting. We live in an age still populated with repressive dictators (i.e. Kim Jong-Un, Vladimir Putin), and yet the people of the United States are eager to forget that the “American Freedom” that we pride ourselves on is built not by good will, not by the smiles on campaigning politicians’ faces, but by laws which narrowly restrict the authority of government officials.

Without a vigorously enforced Constitution, we might as well end up under the thumb of Big Brother, constantly in fear of being executed, jailed, or simply removed from the public. This isn’t what we need to turn to, we still live in a democratically elected system, and we as citizens have the power to take action and stop the USA from turning into the USSA. Contact your Congressman/woman. Get informed about your rights. Don’t vote for politicians who want to take away our rights, and get the word out to others so that they will do the same. Remember, if it takes 100 keys to open a door, every key counts, so no individual standing up for his/her rights is “wasting time” or “unnecessary” for the movement to succeed.

Liberal Hypocrisy

Liberals have an impeccable record of being civil libertarians when a Republican is President. During the Bush years, the left cried out against George Bush’s usage of “enhanced interrogation tactics” and wiretapping of US citizens, however, once Democrat Barack Obama came into office in 2009, their moral opposition to torture and drone strikes turned into support.

Regardless of how many people he kills or extralegally arrests,  Obama’s supporters seem to faithfully line up behind him like ducklings so long as he continues to promise them more government entitlement programs, but when fast-food restaurant Chik-Fil-A declared its opposition to gay marriage, the left erupted in a wave of protest. Apparently, to most people in the Democratic Party, party allegiance is more important than morality.

Triple-Jumper kicked out of the Olympics: PC Syndrome strikes again

For the past 50 or so years, the scourge of racial bigotry has been dying. Unfortunately, a new (albeit weaker) wave of illogical thinking, one of extreme idiocy, sensitivity, and taboo, has been emerging at the same time. Last week, these two terrible trends met, right before the Olympics, as  triple-jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked off of the Greek team for tweeting the following:”So many Africans in Greece…at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade cooking”.

Her comment seems hateful and xenophobic at first glance, especially given her association with the racist, Nazi-sympathizing political group known as Golden Dawn. On the other hand, such a remark, even copied word-for-word, need not necessarily be construed offensively. Intent is key, and a remark of this caliber may have been meant as a joke appealing to a somewhat dark sense of humor. The intent of the actual comment is not unequivocally clear, there is probable cause to believe that she harbors xenophobic, possibly racist views, but we cannot be certain.

Throwing ambiguity aside, let’s assume for the sake of argument that Voula Papachristou is a bigot, a fascist who wants all Africans (and possibly all immigrants) out of Greece. Regardless of her stance, the Greek Olympic Committee made a big flop by throwing her off of the team.

Let’s think this through: This woman was a triple jumper for the Greek Olympic team, not a politician. If she was sitting on a jury, then her comment would be grounds to boot her off. However, that wasn’t the case. She was tasked with performing in an athletic competition designed to a) foster international competition and b) profit off of ticket sales and TV revenue. Athletic ability is the only sensible criterion for selecting contestants for an Olympic team. If a team selects an individual with bigoted views, it likely does so because he/she is a good athlete, implying in no way that it approves of those views.

Following that logic, it only makes sense to expel players who violate the rules of the Games, perform poorly, or violate some other contractual obligation made by the athletes. Papachristou has done neither of those. She has likely trained, trained, and trained for years, made a stupid comment, and would not likely have been any worse an athlete for it. The best excuse the Committee could come up with for kicking her out was that her views “go against the spirit of the Games”.

Bullshit excuse, people. The Olympic Games are a sporting competition, and the expulsion of this already qualified athlete was nothing less than a shameless bow to the legions of politically correct (PC) crybabies who would call the team “racist” to no end were she not removed. Perhaps, on that note, the Greek team removed Papachristou merely because it did not want a public relations situation on its hands rather than because it could not tolerate undesirable views on the team.

This is not to assume that the Olympic Committee would not have kicked her off were the public not involved, (it probably would have), but politically correct people are very real. The PC will go up in arms over the smallest infraction upon their sense of emotional security, and when “I’m offended” becomes a legitimate excuse for people to come to the aid of the self-proclaimed “victim”, rational thought is the first thing to be thrown out the window.

Take the Anthony Weiner scandal, for instance. Last year, scores of Americans demanded (and eventually prompted) the resignation of a US Congressman over a few half-naked photos that he sent to consenting adult women over the Internet. Was Weiner doing anything illegal? No. Would Weiner’s actions have been considered highly abnormal for the average Joe? No. Did Weiner’s critics recognize their double standard? Hell no. Stupidity is powerful in numbers, and powerful objects tend to go wherever the hell they want.

Granted, we didn’t see the double standard of the Weiner affair in the Olympic expulsion, nor did Papachristou receive the same level of media coverage. The Olympics are on, and soon, nobody will care about Voula Papachristou. Regardless of the significance of the individual incident, however, it is but another symptom of the expanding taboo culture that I like to refer to as PC Syndrome.

Political correctness creates nothing more than more and more ridiculous taboos, ranging from people suffering public relations hellfire to losing their jobs, all for insignificant offenses. PC is stupid, and fighting stupidity requires common sense. People like Papachristou say stupid and bigoted things, but a mere statement like deserves little consequence or recognition. So, fine, reprimand people for hateful comments, but there’s a limit to what qualifies as a reasonable response.

Election 2012: Obama’s Dirty Tactics

It’s July right now, just above four months before Americans head to the ballots to select our next President, and already,  candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are tearing at each other’s throats like two lions fighting over a dead gazelle. The Republican campaign is sinking its teeth into Obama’s failure to curb unemployment and reduce our enormous national debt, whereas Obama and his team have been promising change this time around and calling Romney an “enemy of the middle class”. The mud smells fresh, and it’s being slung: That’s the smell of election season.

Recently, the Obama re-election campaign has sunk its teeth into a juicy chunk of information concerning Mitt Romney’s company, Bain Capital: Between 1999 and 2002, Bain purchased several smaller companies, shut down factories, sold jobs overseas to China and Mexico, and made a handsome profit. In his latest ad campaign, Obama has capitalized upon Bain’s track record, denouncing Bain’s profits as an exploitative profit made off of the backs of working Americans, and labeling Romney, as the founder and CEO, as a “corporate raider” who has no business being President. In doing this, the Democrats have managed to fool many people into distrusting the Republican nominee, but their arguments only sound convincing: Romney is not the unscrupulous profiteer that the left wants you to believe he is.

Contrary to what the pseudo-intellectual left wants you to believe, job outsourcing is not, by definition, a heinous tool of “profiteering” used by the rich to assault the poor. Apart from the fact that work shipped over to third-world countries tends to offer workers higher salaries than they would have been offered at more local jobs, the work that ends up moving away is often too economically infeasible to be performed in the US, often performed by machines anyway.

Even if moving jobs overseas ends up leaving workers over here unemployed, that leaves companies with a supply of potential employees they could have, and they may end up creating new jobs to fit their demand. Outsourcing may end up eliminating jobs in some instances, but it is erroneous to assume that any executive who moves jobs overseas is a “corporate raider” as Obama would have it.

You may still accept that Bain was unethical in moving jobs overseas, but we cannot conclude that Mitt Romney was at the bottom of it, as Romney wasn’t actually working with Bain during the time of the controversy according to Fact Check reports. Having moved to Utah in order to help run the Olympics, he played little role in the management of the company. The reports filed to the Securities and Exchange Commisison listing him as the CEO are not inaccurate, he did not fully step down, but to this date, the Obama campaign has found no evidence to suggest that Romney took an active role in managing Bain since 1999. In short, the allegations lobbed against Romney were false, little more than a pile of sensationalist junk.

Let’s accept for just one minute, though, that the left is right about Romney and the evils of outsourcing. Bain is a company of assholes. It buys businesses just to close them. Fired workers are asked to take pictures of their unhappiness so that Bain’s executives have something to laugh at. Even if any of that were true, you can take the halo right off of President Obama’s head; he’s accepted  plenty of money in donations from Bain, and shows no signs of stopping. I wouldn’t buy flowers from Joseph Kony, so if Obama accepts funds from what he thinks are “corporate raiders”, then maybe he should shut up about Romney.

Aside from making up false information about his opinion to confuse uninformed people, Obama has also been sticking up a giant middle finger to the hard work and talent that America is built upon. Stating that “if you have a business, you didn’t build that — somebody else did” (here’s the original video for reference), our President displays his gross misunderstanding of how success is made, belittles the hard work it took to form major companies like Microsoft or Apple, and attributes every last iota of productivity and progress in our nation to the state.

To an extent, his message is correct; a stable infrastructure of roads, buildings, and schools helps form the shoulders that we all stand upon, but as is the case with people at any level of technology, some individuals rise above their peers. Steve Jobs was just one of millions who benefited from public schooling, but only one of those people became the mega-success who was Steve Jobs. If Jobs (and Wozniak) had been killed right before they started Apple and were replaced by some ditch digger, then the iPod, iPad, and Mac would not exist today. Don’t flatter yourself too much, Mr. Obama, people can succeed just fine without the mountains of debt and high spending that you created.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to pass Romney off as some sort of saint, even in comparison to Obama: Our handsome GOP contender is a shameless flip-flopper with a penchant for war (foreign wars and drug wars), and he would have no scruples about signing laws that would let him arrest you if he feels like it. Unfortunately, our big-eared incumbent can’t say that he shines above his deficit-eating cousin on any of those counts: He has bombed 3 countries after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, refused to close Guantanamo Bay, killed US citizens, and  actively fought against your right to a fair trial (so much for swearing to defend the Constitution). There are Democrats out there who surpass Romney as champions of your rights (i.e. Ron Wyden), but Barack Obama is not one of them, and where he differs from his opponent, he surpasses only in building castles in the sky out of money he doesn’t have.

Would a Romney Presidency be an unfortunate prospect? In light of the other candidates who could have been the GOP nominee, Republican voters clearly didn’t pick the best out of the bunch. However, when weighed against the bag of mixed unpleasantries that is Barack Obama, the choice becomes clear. Romney’s spending policies are saner, he has a plan for reducing the national debt, and he opposes Obamacare, so unless you want to feel good about healthcare for a few moments before costs and spending shoot through the roof, Romney is the choice to make this November.

Elected Angels

Whenever we see President Obama appear on TV and express his support for democracy and a prosperous nation, most of us would probably believe that he earnestly means the words that come out of his mouth, that he completely supports popular government.

When we watch old speeches of Josef Stalin promising his people freedom and prosperity, on the other hand, we immediately identify his statements as a farce, an empty attempt at fooling the populus into believing that he is not the hideous tyrant that he is.

Such is the conventional view that the sons and daughters of most Western nations are brought up on; children are taught from a young age that Presidents are good and dictators are bad. When we grow older, we often retain the tendency to be more skeptical of the leaders of more authoritarian nations, and are likely to afford a greater amount of trust to people like Clinton or Obama than to people like Mussolini or Milosevic.

However, does the democratic process of election unequivocally separate those who intend to rule with an iron fist from those who intend to rule by the people? I think not.

Take a look at the following articles; one’s on Putin, and one’s on Obama.

http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/World/Story/A1Story20120714-359072.html

http://news.antiwar.com/2012/07/13/obama-order-gives-power-to-seize-control-of-all-communications-systems/

In the red corner, we have Vladimir Putin, who has written into law a provision declaring NGOs like Human Rights Watch or the World Wildlife Fund as “enemy agents” (what kind of weapons do human rights advocates carry?), and re-criminalized the slander of state officials. Putin is generally deemed as reprehensible in the US; he’s had a history of using loopholes in the law to increase his power, seized control of media outlets to weaken the influence of opposing candidates, and held executive dominance over Russia even when Dmitri Medvedev, his faithful subordinate, held the office of President. Scary, isn’t he?

In the blue ring, we have Barack Obama, who has claimed that he has the authority to take control of the Internet, phone lines, or any other communications systems in the event of an “emergency”. Disliked by some but lauded by many, Obama’s had a history of attempting to write the laws by himself (he attempted to make ACTA into a law without putting it to a Congressional vote), signing laws that would give him the authority to arrest anyone at any time (and then trying to undermine the authority of judges who declare those laws unconstitutional), and launching drone strikes that end up killing civilians.

Is the President truly that much more moral than Putin?

Don’t make the assumption that I equate Obama with Putin; Obama has a greater degree of respect for human life and welfare, however, he has very little respect for the limits of his own power. He has pushed for draconian legislation that would, if not for the intervention of judiciaries (and sometimes Congress), give him power that would make the Founding Fathers vomit.

As such, we shouldn’t put any executive governmental figure –democratically elected or not– beyond strict scrutiny of his/her fundamental attitude towards government. The corrupt heads of the Russian political system, like the wrongdoers of the Bush and Obama administrations, are all people, and as human beings in power are capable of (and prone to) committing heinous crimes, we must never turn our backs upon people, lest we be consumed by an ever-expanding sphere of governmental authority.