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February 05, 2009

Republican Study Committee's Hopeful Message to Conservatives

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) is the caucus for conservative Republican House of Representative members. It was initially founded as a legislative study group in 1973, the same year as the founding of the Heritage Foundation. Having a long tradition of using conservative ideals to fashion legislation and legislative agendas, including those that gave us President Reagan and the original Republican Majority in Congress, last fall the RSC was the only legislative group offering free-market solutions to the economic crisis (ignored by the Democratic Congressional majority and the Bush Administration) that made any sense.

On February 4th 2009, the Chairman of the RSC, Rep. Tom Price M.D., sent out an open letter to members of the RSC's mailing list. Whenever letters like that go out, one assumes that a request for funds can be found somewhere inside. But this letter was different, and wasn't a plea for money. Rep. Price was asking conservatives for support - but in the form of optimism and determination to get the GOP back to its conservative foundation, asking them to once again firmly embrace "conservative solutions-based traditions".

It's a message that the public seems increasingly ready to accept. As the public becomes more educated about the scam that President Obama and the Democrats are trying to pull over on the taxpayer with their economic 'stimulus' legislation, support is plummeting - now down to 37%. A surprising 50% of Americans now say that the stimulus plan is going to make things worse. A recent poll from Rasmussen shows that in light of the House Republicans' unanimus stance on turning Obama's economic recovery legislation into a true economic stimulus, the GOP now trails the Democrats in the Generic Congressional Ballot by only 4 points, 38% to 42%. Another poll from last week shows that Republicans are appreciative of the new conservative direction of the party - and that they overwhelmingly (55%-24%) feel that the future of the GOP lies not with the 'moderate' and populist brand of Republicanism represented by failed Presidential candidate John McCain, but by the conservative brand represented by his running mate Sarah Palin.

In the most telling evidence of how receptive the general public is to traditional Republican conservatism, pollster Scott Rasmussen took on Nobel Laureate Economist and NYT gadfly Paul Krugman head-on over a statement the columnist recently made. In an op-ed, Bad Faith Economics, Krugman said:

Next, write off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.


Rasmussen took one look at that statement, remarkably arrogant even by Krugman's standards, and decided to take the exact quote and poll the American public on it:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement… it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money?


The results? 50% agree with the statement that taxpayers know how to spend their own money best, and only 24% agree with the Nobel Laureate. I would also bet that the remaining respondants who had "no opinion" lean more towards keeping their own money rather than let Nancy Pelosi spend it for them.

Even with the economic crisis, it's surprising that the American public seems so receptive to conservative positions, so soon after they repudiated the GOP brand at the polls. It's clear that even if this stimulus plan passes - as the Democrats can do without help from the GOP - a clear majority of taxpayers are going to be very unhappy with it. That is a great base for the Republicans to operate from, regardless of what the drive-by media claims.

The RSC, specifically Chairman Tom Price, recognizes this. And so we have his letter to conservatives, titled From the Desk of an Eternal Optimist: An Open Letter to Conservatives. An excerpt:

The Republican Party is at its best when its leadership has a bold vision and is rooted to conservative principles: personal responsibility, liberty, limited government, traditional values, providing for the common defense, and optimism about the future.  But Republicans seem to have lost the ability to intelligently or ideologically define these principles and convey them to the American people.


What should Republicans and right thinking Independents do to change that? Here's Dr. Price's prescription:

•     Back to basics: The first step starts with a little bit of self-reflection and “re-learning” the core principles of conservatism.  Only through understanding the past can our core principles be applied and developed into meaningful solutions to tackle the challenges facing America.
 
•     Party of Solutions: A new Republican platform of ideas and language must be created and championed, built on a foundation of conservative solutions.  It will also need to be built from the ground up from fresh and innovative ideas.
 
•     Rebuild the party’s infrastructure and coalitions: There must be a specific focus on nurturing the grassroots, shoring up ties with existing coalitions and leading thinkers, and creating new infrastructure to meet the challenges of politicking in a new century.
 
•     Hold Democrats accountable: This begins with a proactive and coordinated strategy between elected conservative leaders and outside allies.  Americans need to be reminded on a daily basis that Democrats want to play politics and centralize power, raise taxes, cut defense spending, and undermine traditional values.
 
•     Go on offense, engage and educate: Yes, Virginia, someone in Washington is fighting for you.  And when Republicans stay on offense and engage, then it garners attention and provides opportunities to educate every American on conservative solutions that work.  Look no further than the Energy Revolt on the floor of the House of Representatives this past August which gave Republicans a needed voice and identity.
 
•     Remain unified and disciplined: Hostile Democrat majorities and liberal special interests are more energized than they have been in decades.  Without unity and discipline, the differences between the two parties become blurred, and conservatives have every right to question allegiance to Republicans.
 
•     Reclaim the American lexicon: Democrats have been successful in altering the mindset of what made this nation great through language and institutions. Once, Americans valued “responsibility,” “self-determination,” and “hard work.”  Now, these ideals have been replaced by fuzzy appeals to “diversity,” “fairness,” and “social justice.”  No longer can Republicans cede the language or institutions.
 
•     Broaden the appeal: Republicans win elections when they run on an across-the-board conservative solutions-based agenda. However, the appeal must be broadened to acknowledge and embrace the demographics in our country.  Failure to do so will relegate the party to permanent minority status.


It all about staying true to your conservative ideals - and message, message, message. As has been shown with Obama's economic stimulus package, it's pretty easy to peel away the rhetoric and show such a bill for what it is - a giant payback by the President and the Democrats to their special interests, the ones that got them elected. Alternate plans, proffered by entities like the RSC and the Heritage Foundation and promoted to the public by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the conservative blogosphere, makes sense to the majority of Americans - even with the drive-by media's overwhelming promotion of the Democrats' plan.

Time for all of us to take Rep. Price's message to heart, and prepare for 2010.







 

"From the Desk of an Eternal Optimist: An Open Letter to Conservatives"

Here's the full text of an e-mail that was sent out yesterday from the Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Tom Price MD. It's a vitally important message, especially in light of the public's outcry over the special interest payback that President Obama and the Democrats are trying to jam down the taxpayers' throats, under the guise of economic stimulus. There's an opportunity here for good, old fashioned conservatism.

From the Desk of an Eternal Optimist: An Open Letter to Conservatives


Dear Fellow Conservative:

Election Day 2008 produced a liberal governing majority that no one envisioned even as little as two years ago.  The Democrats control both chambers of Congress as well as the Presidency.  And while they are motivated by politics rather than solutions, Americans perceive them as the true agents of change and reform.

Buried within election data is troubling news.  The Republican Party is losing grassroots support, and conservatives are peeling away from the party.  According to exit polls, one-in-five self-identified conservatives voted for Barack Obama, clearly illustrating the Republican Party’s inability to project conservative values with credibility.

And this reality has been manifested into a set of greater truths: Americans in 2009 believe that Republicans are tied to the status quo, cannot be trusted on the issues that matter most to them, and are incoherent when articulating a positive vision for the future.

But in light of this, I believe Republicans, by firmly embracing conservative solutions-based traditions, can rise again and set the best course for America.  From the desk of an eternal optimist, better days are ahead.

Before coming to Congress, I helped transform the Republican Party in the State of Georgia from permanent minority party status to a governing, conservative, principled and solutions-based majority.  Now, it is some of the most fertile ground for conservatives in the nation.  This happened in Georgia because of a commitment to what is at the core of leadership: to lead with principle!  Yet right now, conservatives are correct about a Washington in which too few are fighting consistently for their values and concerns.

The Republican Party is at its best when its leadership has a bold vision and is rooted to conservative principles: personal responsibility, liberty, limited government, traditional values, providing for the common defense, and optimism about the future.  But Republicans seem to have lost the ability to intelligently or ideologically define these principles and convey them to the American people.

Moreover, elected conservative leaders need to act immediately in order to facilitate the rebuilding of the Republican Party and reconnect it to the conservative movement.

•     Back to basics: The first step starts with a little bit of self-reflection and “re-learning” the core principles of conservatism.  Only through understanding the past can our core principles be applied and developed into meaningful solutions to tackle the challenges facing America.

•     Party of Solutions: A new Republican platform of ideas and language must be created and championed, built on a foundation of conservative solutions.  It will also need to be built from the ground up from fresh and innovative ideas.

•     Rebuild the party’s infrastructure and coalitions: There must be a specific focus on nurturing the grassroots, shoring up ties with existing coalitions and leading thinkers, and creating new infrastructure to meet the challenges of politicking in a new century.

•     Hold Democrats accountable: This begins with a proactive and coordinated strategy between elected conservative leaders and outside allies.  Americans need to be reminded on a daily basis that Democrats want to play politics and centralize power, raise taxes, cut defense spending, and undermine traditional values.

•     Go on offense, engage and educate: Yes, Virginia, someone in Washington is fighting for you.  And when Republicans stay on offense and engage, then it garners attention and provides opportunities to educate every American on conservative solutions that work.  Look no further than the Energy Revolt on the floor of the House of Representatives this past August which gave Republicans a needed voice and identity.

•     Remain unified and disciplined: Hostile Democrat majorities and liberal special interests are more energized than they have been in decades.  Without unity and discipline, the differences between the two parties become blurred, and conservatives have every right to question allegiance to Republicans.

•     Reclaim the American lexicon: Democrats have been successful in altering the mindset of what made this nation great through language and institutions. Once, Americans valued “responsibility,” “self-determination,” and “hard work.”  Now, these ideals have been replaced by fuzzy appeals to “diversity,” “fairness,” and “social justice.”  No longer can Republicans cede the language or institutions.

•     Broaden the appeal: Republicans win elections when they run on an across-the-board conservative solutions-based agenda. However, the appeal must be broadened to acknowledge and embrace the demographics in our country.  Failure to do so will relegate the party to permanent minority status.

My letter ends with a direct appeal to you.  With continued optimism and clarity of purpose, action can be taken to rebuild the Republican Party, reconnect it to its conservative roots and provide the solutions to tackle the challenges facing America. Last week’s principled and unified opposition to a big-government spending spree that would mortgage our nation’s future and prolong economic strife was just the beginning. Please join me and set us on the course for a better tomorrow.

 


                                                                                          Yours truly,

 


                                                                                          Tom Price, M.D.

 


Congressman Tom Price represents Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District and serves as Chairman of the Republican Study Committee

New Article Up on American Thinker

I've got a new article up this morning on American Thinker, George Soros is Right About the 'Bad Bank'. It's an expanded version of a post I did here yesterday. Enjoy.

February 04, 2009

End of the World is Here - George Soros is Right!

To say that I'm not a fan of George Soros would be an understatement. My animus is not solely because of his support, overt and covert, of the Left and the Democrats, but also at his way of doing business. He literally created the hedge fund business - a business whose transparency issues rival those of official Washington, contributing mightily to the current economic crisis.

But when he comes out of the shadows with straight forward financial advice he is often brilliant (albeit self-serving), and it would be foolish to not admit when he is right. And he is very right in a 2/4/09 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, We Can Do Better Than a 'Bad Bank'.

The financial fiasco that the world finds itself in today started with problems within the housing sector of our economy. Those problems, specifically with the housing markets, were created by the federal government and Democrats in Washington, specifically Barney Frank in the House and Chris Dodd in the Senate. In their infinite wisdom well over a dozen years ago, they decreed that home ownership was a human right, and mandated by law that anyone, regardless of their credit worthiness or ability to pay, be allowed to purchase a home. Hence the creation of the sub-prime market.

Over the past decade plus, that resulted in hyper-inflated housing prices and the collapse of affordable rentals. When the predictable occurred, and people who had no ability to repay a loan defaulted on their mortgages in huge numbers, the secondary mortgage security markets and derivatives associated with it collapsed. Then followed the freeze-up of the overall world-wide credit market, and the collapse of housing prices.

While Soros doesn't explain it that way (he really doesn't explain it at all), he does recognize that the results of the above - the stagnation of the housing and credit markets and the trillions of dollars in illiquid assets - needs to be addressed immediately for us to get out of this mess, and that no real plan so far has been put forth to do so.

The GOP has been pushing for the federal government, via their now wholly owned GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to revitalize the housing market by purchasing home mortgages in the secondary market - loans that would be originated at between 4% and 4.5%. George Soros agrees:

The Obama administration should come out of the gate with a comprehensive economic program that has two pillars in addition to a fiscal stimulus package. One would prevent housing prices from overshooting on the downside by making mortgages cheaper and more available and reducing foreclosures to a minimum.


As such a push from the GSEs would affect both home buyers and people who choose to refinance their existing mortgages, the Republicans' plan would jump start the housing market and immediately stimulate the economy more so than anything the Obama Administration or the Democrats have proposed so far. Hopefully the Democrats are smart enough to allow this to be included in their stimulus plan. That leaves the second issue - what to do with the toxic assets currently held by financial institutions. The idea d'jour that has been floated around is the creation of a "bad bank" that would own all of the bad mortgages and securities. But that's not necessary. There have always been mechanisms within easy reach, via either the temporary suspension of certain regulations or very simple Congressional legislation, that could take care of both the existing bad assets and the recapitalization of banks - relying not on the federal government, but on the private sector. From Soros:

For these reasons it would be a mistake to take the "bad bank" route, especially when there is a way to adequately recapitalize the banks with currently available resources. The trick is not to remove the toxic assets from the banks' balance sheets but instead put them into a "side pocket," as hedge funds are doing with their illiquid assets. The appropriate amount of capital -- equity and unsecured debentures -- would be sequestered in the side pocket.

This would cleanse bank balance sheets and transform them into good banks but leave them undercapitalized. The same $1 trillion that is now destined to fund the bad bank could then be used to infuse capital into the good banks.

Although the amount needed to recapitalize the banks would be more than $1 trillion, it would be possible to mobilize a significant portion of the required total amount from the private sector. In the current environment, a good bank would enjoy exceptionally good margins. Margins would narrow as a result of competition, but by then the banking system would be revitalized and nationalization avoided.


This seems to be an intelligent way to solve the fundamental problems currently freezing the credit and housing markets. It is also comprised of programs that the Democrats have not promoted or included in their 'stimulus' bill, which places Soros in opposition to the Democrats - an odd place for him to be.

Instead, Democrats like Harry Reid, Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi, and Barney Frank - with assistance from Obama Administration members Timothy Geitner at Treasury and Sheila Blair at FDIC - seem intent an nationalizing both the housing sector and the banking system.

Let's hope that Soros and the Republicans can convince them otherwise.

February 02, 2009

Beware of Obama's "New Deal" - It Didn't Work the First Time

Most on the Left and much of the media is hailing the Obama prompted stimulus plans heading through Congress at warp speed as the solution to our economic problems - a modern day "New Deal". But the dirty little secret about the New Deal is that it didn't work - it actually prolonged the Great Depression. Shouldn't that give us all pause?

The true story of the failure of the New Deal has been covered recently in two great books, Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg and The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes. The both point out that the New Deal was really a case of social engineering by liberal political elites and propaganda rather than an attempt to provide economic relief to the nation as quickly as possible. In fact, had World War II not intervened, the Great Depression might have lasted well into the 40s or beyond, unless many aspects of the New Deal were repealed.

Today in the Wall Street Journal there's an even better brief on the failed economics of the New Deal by two respected economists, Harold L. Cole of the University of Pittsburgh and Lee E. Ohanian of UCLA, How Government Prolonged the Depression. It's a must read, since Obama and the Democrats are attempting to do a similar thing today.

The New Deal is widely perceived to have ended the Great Depression, and this has led many to support a "new" New Deal to address the current crisis. But the facts do not support the perception that FDR's policies shortened the Depression, or that similar policies will pull our nation out of its current economic downturn.

...Why wasn't the Depression followed by a vigorous recovery, like every other cycle? It should have been. The economic fundamentals that drive all expansions were very favorable during the New Deal. Productivity grew very rapidly after 1933, the price level was stable, real interest rates were low, and liquidity was plentiful. We have calculated on the basis of just productivity growth that employment and investment should have been back to normal levels by 1936. Similarly, Nobel Laureate Robert Lucas and Leonard Rapping calculated on the basis of just expansionary Federal Reserve policy that the economy should have been back to normal by 1935.

So what stopped a blockbuster recovery from ever starting? The New Deal. Some New Deal policies certainly benefited the economy by establishing a basic social safety net through Social Security and unemployment benefits, and by stabilizing the financial system through deposit insurance and the Securities Exchange Commission. But others violated the most basic economic principles by suppressing competition, and setting prices and wages in many sectors well above their normal levels. All told, these antimarket policies choked off powerful recovery forces that would have plausibly returned the economy back to trend by the mid-1930s.


It's a frightening history lesson that none - none - of us learned in school, where we were taught to worship at the altar of FDR. Which is the same altar that we are now being told to worship Barack Obama at.

What's the old quote, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it?

Well, It Looks Like Obama's Overture to Iran Went Swimingly...

One of the top rules in business and politics is to never show weakness, especially to your enemies. With 24 hour news cycles and the Internet, it's too easy for any show of weakness to become the new defining meme about your business, your candidacy, your government, or even you as an individual.

If President Barack Obama had ever had a real job in the real world, perhaps he'd know this. But he didn't, so he's going to have to learn the hard way.

Lesson #1 just came courtesy of Iran. That particular country is our enemy - and has been our enemy since 1979. It actively engages in the sponsorship of terrorism, kills our soldiers, and slaughters innocent unarmed civilians across the world. It's vowed the destruction of our ally Israel, ignores the laws and will of the international community and will soon have nuclear weapons.

But President Obama has determined that if we act nicer towards Iran all of the problems with that country will magically disappear. So he's instructed that we bypass the international community and hold direct talks with Iran. For what purpose, or what we will offer Iran in such talks, remains unclear.

So how did that go over with Iran? Not so well. Predictibly, Iran views this overture as a sign of weakness, and is making the most of it.

US President Barack Obama's offer to talk to Iran shows that America's policy of "domination" has failed, the government spokesman said on Saturday.

"This request means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed," Gholam Hossein Elham was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.

"Negotiation is secondary, the main issue is that there is no way but for (the United States) to change," he added.

After nearly three decades of severed ties, Obama said shortly after taking office this month that he is willing to extend a diplomatic hand to Tehran if the Islamic republic is ready to "unclench its fist".

In response, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a fresh tirade against the United States, demanding an apology for its "crimes" against Iran and saying he expected "deep and fundamental" change from Obama.

Iranian politicians frequently refer to the US administration as the "global arrogance", "domineering power" and "Great Satan".

Tensions with the United States have soared over Iran's nuclear drive and Ahmadinejad's vitriolic verbal attacks against Washington's close regional ally Israel.

Former US president George W. Bush refused to hold talks with the Islamic republic -- which he dubbed part of an "axis of evil" -- unless it suspended uranium enrichment, and never took a military option to thwart Tehran's atomic drive off the table.


What Obama has done is show weakness to a country that is our primary enemy in the world right now. That strengthens, not weakens, Iran and its regime. Iran will use this as a go-ahead signal to complete their nuclear program, which will then be used to outfit their terrorist organization proxies with nuclear weapons. I'd anticipate a nuclear strike in Israel soon after, followed by strikes against our military bases in the Middle East. Wouldn't be surprised if Iran then attempted a nuclear terrorist strike within the United States, either.

Is all of the above guaranteed to happen? No, but if your primary responsibility as President of the United States is to protect the country and its interests, you have to think that way, especially when dealing with a proven intractable enemy. Otherwise, you end up with 9/11.

Well done, Mr. President.

January 22, 2009

Obama Outlaws Legal Interrogation Methods - Or Does He?

President Obama signed a few 'National Security' Executive Orders around noon today, apparently designed to increase the rights of illegal combatants - terrorists - that are trying to kill as many of us as possible. They were all remarkable, but perhaps the most troubling is the order on interrogation techniques for detainees in the War on Terror.

That particular Executive Order, which has not been posted online yet (2:00PM), proclaims that the only interrogation methods to be used on detainees in the War on Terror are those found in the Army Field Manual (pdf file - not sure if available in Arabic...yet). As media reports are already starting to show, that's a bit problematic:

The executive order says everyone in custody should be questioned under the Army Field Manual, which is intended for honorable combatants, meaning POWs in a military conflict. The rule would prevent trained interrogators at the CIA from using lawful interrogation techniques against terrorists who have been trained to withstand Army Field Manual techniques.


So by this particular order, Obama is not outlawing so-called torture of detainees, but preventing the use by our national security apparatus of certain legal interrogation techniques that have kept us safe for the past 7+ years.

But as with anything emanating from first Obama the candidate and now Obama the President, that's not the whole story. In fact, in many ways this Executive Order can be seen as an empty sop to the Left that got him elected. Why do I say that? Because in the same media report, there is this tidbit:

According to sources in the law enforcement community, the executive order on interrogation does not declare "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be torture; the order is silent on that.

"This allows for a lot of flexibility, a lot of wiggle room," said one source.

While the administration has insisted on one interrogation standard, one source says they are thinking about assembling a group within the next 60 days to make recommendations on a set of separate techniques for the intelligence community to use.

White House counsel Greg Craig acknowledged late Wednesday that the administration will have to establish a panel to make recommendations to address intelligence community concerns.


As Jim Geraghty of NRO is fond of saying, "All Barack Obama statements come with an expiration date. All of them."

I guess that's going to include Executive Orders...

Interesting Factoid - Reagan's Inauguration Had More TV Viewers

According to The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd, Ronald Reagan's Inauguration - in 1981 - had more TV viewers than the just concluded Inauguration of President Barack Obama (Obama's inauguration most-watched since Reagan's).

Reagan had 41.8 million TV viewers, whereas Obama had 37.8 million.

But that's not even as impressive as it sounds for Obama, especially when you consider that:

Obama's total includes telecasts on 17 broadcast and cable networks and measures the number of viewers who watched from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The swearing-in ceremony itself spiked viewership considerably just after noon.

What Hibberd should have gone on to say was that in comparison, Reagan's Inauguration was seen on only three networks over a much shorter period of time. But that wouldn't fit in with the narrative...

January 20, 2009

Barack Obama Sworn In As 44th President of the United States

Barack Obama has just been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Pretty remarkable, all in all. Here's the text of Obama's Inaugural Address, as prepared for delivery, courtesy of the Washington Post:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.


Celebrate today. The real work - for all of us - begins tomorrow.

January 15, 2009

Obama Backtracks on Osama Bin Laden, Agrees With Bush

For years the Democrats have been critical of the Bush Administration for failing to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. In fact, Barack Obama made such criticism one of the central parts of his campaign for President - moreover, he promised both before and after his election that his "number one national security priority" would be to end bin Laden's 'freedom', one way or another (Obama administration to ratchet up hunt for bin Laden):

President-elect Barack Obama wants to renew the U.S. commitment to finding al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to his national security advisers.

The Obama team believes the Bush administration has downplayed the importance of catching the FBI's most-wanted terrorist because it has not been able to find him.

"We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority," Obama said during the presidential debate on October 7.


But, as with most (if not all) statements by President-elect Obama, that was apparently a convenient lie to be used to get elected. He now seems to think that what the Bush Administration has done for the past seven years - isolating bin Laden to keep him from serving as little more than a figurehead for his terrorist organization and focusing more on whittling down Al Qaeda's operational capabilities and exterminating its members - was and is the correct approach. From an article in The Times Online, the web site of the London newspaper (Barack Obama: it is no longer essential to kill Osama bin Laden):

Barack Obama suggested last night that removing Osama bin Laden from the battlefield was no longer essential and that America's security goals could be achieved merely by keeping al-Qaeda "on the run".

"My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him," he said. "But if we have so tightened the noose that he's in a cave somewhere and can't even communicate with his operatives then we will meet our goal of protecting America."

His comments, in a CBS interview, represent a significant watering down of the "dead or alive" policy pursued by President Bush since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. They also appear to contradict Mr Obama's own statements made in the election campaign.

As recently as October 7, in a presidential debate, Mr Obama said: "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority."

Yesterday, the President-elect adopted far less aggressive language, saying his "No 1 priority" was to protect America from further attack.


Hmmm. The Bush Administration, as the article says, has always wanted to kill or capture bin Laden. After bin Laden was allowed by the Northern Alliance (with our inadvertent but foreseeable to anyone with a brain acquiescence) to escape Tora Bora, they have been unable to do so, primarily because of where bin Laden fled to. I suppose flattening a few mountain ranges in Pakistan's tribal regions with nuclear weapons would have done it, but that route wasn't taken.

Instead, the Bush Administration has been quite successful in keeping bin Laden and his closest minions in a virtual prison, unable to function in any leadership role with Al Qaeda. That fact, however, didn't stop the Democrats, the left, and Obama himself from literally mocking President Bush for not 'getting' bin Laden.

Now, however, Bush's position is going to be Obama's.

Where's the "change"? Where's the "outrage"?

Where's the media saturation coverage of this flipflop?



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