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.

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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.

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.

Election 2012: Choosing the lesser of two evils

Political campaign ads have become all the more common on the Internet in light of the upcoming Presidential election this November. Up until now, I had paid little attention to them, as I consider Romney to be the more favorable candidate (he is less friendly to Big Government than Obama is), but now, for those interested in preserving liberty, the presidential and congressional elections must be carefully balanced in order to prevent some dastardly legislative plans that each party has in store.

Obamacare on the left, cyber-tyranny on the right

The Democrats’ “Affordable Care Act” is a ticking time bomb waiting to  make costs and prices skyrocket with its mandate that all Americans purchase health insurance, and since we can’t rely on the Supreme Court to actually uphold the Constitution, it will take a repeal by a Republican Congress to prevent the ACA from being implemented.

If Romney is elected this November, a slight majority of Republicans in both houses of Congress will probably be enough to send Obamacare packing, but if Obama wins the election, however, anything less than a 2/3 Republican majority in both houses of Congress will not be able to stop the ACA before it is implemented.

Unfortunately, such a significant majority of Republicans in Congress, with or without a President of the same party, is not particularly appealing. The Republican Party has been more supportive of the draconian stream of cyber-“security” legislation which threatens to give the government unprecedented access to our data and unreasonable authority to deliver felony sentences for minor copyright infractions, and with the right number of legislators, it could turn such dangerous measures into law.

To be fair, Republicans aren’t the only ones supporting measures that would essentially destroy our freedom on the Internet, and since SOPA and PIPA were never put to a vote, we can’t assume that the majority of Republicans in Congress inexorably supported them, but as the opponents of CISPA (a bill that, while less potent than SOPA, is nonetheless undesirable) in the House of Representatives were predominantly on the left side of the aisle, it would be safe to guess that the Democratic Party is more likely to guard the Internet than the GOP.

The dilemma

No matter how the elections turn out this November, both CISPA-esque measures and Obamacare could end up going through. No action, in any area of life, produces an inevitable result, and thus, it behooves us to balance the possible consequences of any electoral outcome.

It seems to me that a very thin Republican majority (perhaps 52-48) in both houses of Congress, as well as a Romney Presidency, will result in a likely repeal of Obamacare without a likely pass of CISPA, as it will allow both parties to counteract one another’s dangerous ambitions. The liberty that lies at the foundation of the US Constitution was produced by compromises that prevented groups of people from exercising their whim when it grew inimical to the public, and that is the way we must progress in the future in order to prevent the death of the freedoms we hold dear.

2012: Four cheers for liberty

The year 2012 isn’t even halfway over, and already, among all of the civilian-killing drone strikes abroad and bills in Congress intended to gang-rape the Constitution, there have been at least a few people who have decided to bite back, and in doing so, have made great strides in defending the freedom of the people. They have blocked free-speech-stifling cybersecurity measures, punched the teeth out of gluttonous public unions, and told the legislative and executive branches to sit down, shut up, and read the Constitution. They are:

The people of the Internet

Since November 16, 2011 when news of two putative cybersecurity bills called SOPA and PIPA, bills that would permit the government to take down entire websites for single instances of copyright law violations, leaked out, the Internet took action. Senator Ron Wyden (D – OR) vigorously campaigned against the bill both on-and-offline, the owners of prominent websites such as Google, Yahoo, and Wikipedia countered the support of companies like Netflix for the bill with anti-SOPA campaigns, and millions of Internet users all across America protested and called their Congressmen until both bills were taken off the discussion table.

It was heartening to see the American people joining together in defense of their freedom, and although the “cybersecurity” advocates in Congress will continue their onslaught against Internet freedom with bills like CISPA, the Internet will continue to fight against them.

The Supreme Court

In 2004, the FBI tracked a man named Antoine Jones for 4 weeks via a GPS device planted under his car under suspicion that he was committing narcotics violations. The government obtained no warrant for the search, in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement for such searches, and when Jones was arrested, he moved to suppress the evidence obtained under that search as pursuant to his Fourth Amendment rights.

Jones’s case went to the Supreme Court, and on January 23, 2012, the court unanimously ruled against the warrantless search of private vehicles. The government has, in past years, been trying to get its slippery hands around the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement for searches, and with the US v. Jones ruling, combined with the earlier rulings of Bond v. United States (2000) and Kyllo v. United States (2001), it seems that this Supreme Court is very much in favor of protecting the 4th Amendment.

Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) and the people of Wisconsin

Public sector unions are a menace to the American people. They spend exorbitant amounts of money on increasing the wages of their members without having them work for it (public union members have a 31% advantage in wages over non-union members), and they campaign to elect politicians who will increase their funding, since they work for the government (they spend upwards of $165 million on campaign funding). All of that money comes from the taxpayer, and since these workers are receiving raises for free, the taxpayer receives no benefit whatsoever.

However, when Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin attempted to remedy this situation by pushing a bill to strip public unions of their power to collectively bargain for more money, he was met by fierce opposition. The unions themselves, predictably, would not let their free money be taken away from them without a fight, and many ordinary voters took their side as well.

An election to recall Walker was held, but the unions lost out on this one. Governor Walker is there to stay in Wisconsin, and with public unions stripped of much of their power, public education will surely increase in quality there, as teachers will now have to actually teach better in order to get wages (those teachers must be fuming in their indignation). This may very well have a ripple effect in other states, and I can only hope that these money-burning unions will grow weaker and weaker as other states will take the same measures that Walker did.


Judge Katherine Forrest

On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for the year 2012 (NDAA), which contained a provision authorizing the indefinite military detention of any person, American citizen or not, who is suspected of being a terrorist. If you’re familiar with what happens when governments are given more and more unrestrained power (Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin are great examples), then you were probably scared of what havoc the government could wreak with this law in place.

Fortunately, NDAA was given a satisfying kick in the crotch by District Judge Katherine Forrest, who declared the indefinite detention clauses of the act to be unconstitutional under the 4th and 5th Amendments. By filing an injunction against the act, Forrest has nullified it, and when the Obama administration claimed that it will apply the ruling only to the kinds of journalists who started the case (the same Obama administration that claimed to oppose indefinite detention), Judge Forrest announced that the ruling applies broadly, to all American citizens.

Is the NDAA case over? Certainly not. The Obama administration will certainly cling to the opportunity for draconian powers as long as it can, so expect the NDAA case to end up in the Supreme Court soon (which, I’m sure, will uphold Forrest’s ruling), but this ruling was a great first step and a stellar defense of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution.

The forecast for liberty

The fight for liberty will likely always be a rocky one, and it will certainly be rocky this year, as governments tend to favor maximizing their own power, but liberty will always have allies so long as people like Wyden, Forrest, Walker, and the Supreme Court are there to support it. The only thing better than a number of committed freedom-fighters in government, however, is an informed public that is equally willing to defend the rights of the people. Any citizen is instrumental to protecting the rights of all the people, and as the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, our rights will be immeasurably safer if we have 313 million people watching.

(sources on public unions from the CATO Institute. Link: http://www.cato.org/pubs/tbb/tbb_61.pdf)