Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Presidential Debate 3

Finally a debate with a clear winner. Both President Obama and Governor Romney came out swinging about foreign policy. However, they weren’t swinging at each other. Apparently they were swinging at Gary Johnson, who unfortunately was not there to receive their punches. What I am saying is that Obama and Romney agreed with each other on essentially every question asked by the moderator. It was a sight to see. Two guys flailing away at a person not even present. So, you can see how easy it was to pick a winner. Just pick one, and you’ve picked the winner. Of course, you’ve also picked the loser.

Don’t get me wrong; there were a few minor differences like how quickly a policy should have been implemented or how long a policy should be in place, but at its core, Romney and Obama agree on foreign policy issues. They are so close that they were forced to occasionally sidestep to domestic policy just to find something to criticize the other about.

Basically, Obama and Romney both agree that we should continue to be involved in other nations in an attempt to bring about governmental changes that favor America. They also agree that sanctions and diplomacy should be the primary ways to deal with rogue nations, only using military actions as a last resort. This clearly distinguishes the Obama/Romney team from Gary Johnson. The libertarians typical support the idea of leaving other countries alone, but still trading with them. Johnson would bring our troops home immediately from Afghanistan and other nations of the world. Although I consider myself mostly libertarian, this is one area in which I have somewhat of a disagreement with the libertarian position.

While I mostly agree that we should let other countries defend themselves using their own military and money, I also recognize that there are some leaders of nations around the world that simply cannot be dealt with using reason. Sometimes we do indeed have to resort to sanctions and force when dealing with nations. It’s not ideal, but it’s occasionally necessary. I wish it were not.

So, if you were looking to make a decision between Obama and Romney based on their foreign policies, you can forget it. They’ll both do the same things. However, if you were trying to decide whether to vote for Johnson or one of the two mainstream candidates, then this debate was for you. If you want to know more about Johnson’s positions, be sure to tune into the debate between Johnson and three other third party candidates tonight at 8pm CT at http://freeandequal.org/live .

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Presidential Debate 2

Well, as most of you know the second debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney took place tonight. And they both came out fighting. No boxing gloves; no bare fists; no spinning jump kicks. Only tongue lashings. Both candidates’ faces were thoroughly covered with the other’s saliva by the end of the debate. So, who won? Well, I was totally surprised when after the spit settled, the last man standing wasssssss… GARY JOHNSON. Yeah, I was just as astounded as you were. How in the world could a candidate that was not even in the debate, due to not being invited, end up being the winner? After conducting a brief but thorough analysis, I figured it out. Obama and Romney totally discredited each other by outing their opponents as liars. Neither candidate even mentioned any lies that Johnson had told. BINGO, Johnson WINS!!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “Who cares about a candidate that was not in the debate? Just tell me who won between the two debaters that actually debated?” I think those questions are nothing but a bunch of malarkey, but I’ll still provide sort of an answer. Both candidates are quite forceful and convincing when espousing their policies. But keep in mind that both of these guys only tell you the things that make themselves look good. They leave it up to the other guy to tell you the bad stuff. Who knows who is telling the truth? Also, they each tell us how their plan is superior to the other guy’s plan. But in the end, who can predict this? The bottom line is their records. This is a matter of fact, not opinion.

So, how have President Obama’s plans worked so far? Well, as is usually the case, some have worked okay, some not so okay. But when it comes to the thing that is most on the minds of people today—the economy—his plans haven’t fared so well. Unemployment hasn’t improved in the last four years. More people have stopped looking for work. More people are getting government assistance. Incomes are declining as prices are inclining. The debt keeps climbing while hope keeps rappelling. This is not good. To be fair, Obama says that four years was not enough time to turn the economy around and points to signs of things getting better. Well, I say this: the predictions Obama made about what the state of the economy would look like at the end of his first term did not materialize. So, it’s time to let someone else take the helm and show us how his predictions won’t come to pass either. If it’s not going to be Johnson, I guess it’s going to have to be Romney.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Atlas Shrugged Part II – The Movie

I just went to see the second of a planned three-part movie based on Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.” I was greatly impressed. The acting was great, and the message was clear. It’s definitely worth a visit to the movie theater to see this. It wouldn’t hurt to see Part I beforehand, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

When I heard that all the actors in Part II would be different from those in Part I, I was a bit dismayed. I thought the actors in the first movie did a superb job given the budget and time constraints and feared the new actors would not do as well. However, I understood that the low budget of the first movie and the possibility that it would not earn enough money to produce the second one resulted in the producers not being able to negotiate future options for the actors. This meant that if the original actors had moved on to other projects, new actors would have to be contracted. This is what happened. However, my concerns were soon allayed. The second group of actors was also superb. Actually, there were more actors I recognized from other shows and movies in Part II than in Part I.

For those of you not familiar with “Atlas Shrugged,” the premise is that the American government is putting more and more pressure on businesses to conform to a number of laws and mandates. Because of this, the creative people of the country are one by one disappearing, leaving their floundering businesses behind. In essence, the men and women of the mind, those that make the motor of the world run, are going on strike. We often hear of workers for various businesses going on strike to protest what they perceive as unfair treatment by their employers. Well, in this movie, it’s the employers who are striking by withdrawing themselves, along with their talents, totally from the world. They are tired of being the ones that work tirelessly to create products that benefit all of mankind only to have their businesses raided by the government and their wealth confiscated. They feel that to comply with the government’s mandates only implies that they sanction those mandates. So, rather than comply, they in essence say, “Adios. Take my business and run it the best you can without me.”

I, for one, realize that people who are able to move the world in a massive way are few and far between. It requires a lot of guts to put your money and reputation on the line in order to create something of value. Think of people like Edison, Ford, Gates, Jobs, and so on. These are people who gave it their all to produce products that would transform the world. They didn’t force anyone to support them, but rather had a vision of producing products that the people of the world would want so much they would voluntarily part with their money to obtain them. Yet, there are those who claim that a large part of the money they obtained by voluntary trade should be paid back to society in some form or fashion. By some twisted logic, they believe that the products they produced were not sufficient payment regardless of how much benefit those products conveyed to the world. They believe that those who are successful either did something wrong or they just simply have a duty to share their success with those who are less successful.

Ayn Rand understood what happens to a country where government attempts to equalize wealth by force. She was a young girl living in Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. To escape the madness, she immigrated to the United States. However, to her dismay, she soon saw that the US was moving in the same direction that Russia had, albeit at a slower pace rather than through revolutionary means. Over time she developed her philosophy of freedom and began writing justifications for it via fictional novels and non-fictional articles and books. She truly understood what makes the motor of the world work, and she desired to warn Americans that they were going down the wrong path. Let’s face it. There are many talented people in the world, but only a fraction of them have the brains and the brawn and the wherewithal to pull together a multitude of resources and jump through all the hoops necessary to bring a successful product to the marketplace. We need to be applauding these people and encouraging more of this behavior by letting them keep the fruits of their labor, not discouraging them with over-regulation and heavy taxes. After all, the more successful they become, the more help they will need, and thus the more people they will hire. This type of growth is the real engine of job creation.

Even though Atlas Shrugged, the novel, is now 55 years old, its warning still rings loud and clear. Let’s stop punishing the producers and rewarding the looters. Let’s see how bright our nation can shine when the entrepreneurial spirit is totally unleashed. This is the message of true hope and change.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Vice Presidential Debate

I once read from a political humorist—I believe it was P.J. O’Rourke—that while liberals are declaring that spending has been cut for a program, the conservatives are saying that spending has increased for that very same program. So who’s telling the truth? Well, they both are. In other words, they’re lying.
Well, I felt the same way about the VP debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. They were both telling the truth, yet they were both lying. So, who won the debate? They both did. In others words, they both lost.
Let’s face it; everyone needed a quick-response extremely accurate fact-checking Siri running at full tilt to discern who was telling the truth. Almost the entire debate consisted of one candidate speaking, then his opponent saying the other was speaking malarkey, not being candid, not telling the truth, or pointing out how the other’s nose was elongated. How could a regular ole Joe like me, who doesn’t spend 24 hours a day following the news, have a clue as to who was right, who was wrong, or who was just downright stupid? To tell you the truth, the bantering got so intense at one point, I fell off to sleep. Of course, part of that could have been me getting relaxed due to my wife massaging my legs, but I think I’ll blame it on the debate instead.
Personally, I think the debate most likely consisted of each candidate telling the half-truth that favored his own party. The real story probably lies somewhere in the middle of these two half-truths, perhaps in lying territory. So, I saw no clear winner in the debate and no way of determining who won short of spending the next four years researching their answers. But then it would be time for another election requiring just as much research. Oh well!

However, I did see a clear winner on two fronts. Joe Biden was definitely the winner when it comes to laughing and shaking his head incredulously while his opponent spoke. Paul Ryan was the definite winner for making the most ridiculous grin while his opponent spoke. So, there you go. Whichever of these two traits you believe is most important for a vice president to possess will determine for you who won the debate.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

First Presidential Debate

I thought the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney went quite well. While both pretty much dominated Jim Lehrer, not letting him get a word in edgewise when their time was up, the debaters remained civil in the midst of making jabs at the other’s platform. While it appears that the pundits have basically declared Romney the winner of the debate by a fairly large margin, I thought it was by a smaller margin.

Obama has been accused of being a teleprompter speaker, meaning that he is a great orator with the words in front of him, but not so good when speaking off the cuff. Actually, I was quite impressed with Obama’s knowledge and point making abilities in this impromptu environment. Of course, Romney was just as good. However, it was obvious that much of what passed as answers to Lehrer’s questions were simply the talking points they use every day on the campaign trail.

While both candidates expressed their views rather well, I have to give the edge to Romney despite a couple of misspoken words.

First, there were times when Romney cited studies concerning the negative consequences of Obama’s policies that Obama left unanswered, deciding rather to move on to other aspects of his policies.  This leaves the impression that he knew of the negative consequences and did not want to address them, or he did not have a good counter argument. Either way, it’s a point loser for the debate.

Second, while both candidates spoke about the prosperity that free enterprise brings to a nation, Romney seemed to back this up more with the plans he has for the future. There was also somewhat of a difference concerning how much regulation is enough, with Romney indicating he thought there was too much in some cases.

That being said, I was a bit disappointed that there was so little difference in Obama’s and Romney’s views of the role of government in society. It is obvious that they both believe in big government. Their differences were more over where the money should be spent rather than how much should be spent. Oh sure, they both gave lip service to reducing the deficit, but I didn’t hear much about any specific substantial cuts. Romney seemed to be on the right track when he talked about cutting funding to the Public Broadcasting System and a few other items, but when it came to education, he said the funding should remain the same, but turned over to the states to decide how to use it. However, there was one ray of hope amongst Romney’s statements. It was when he said that he would judge a program’s usefulness by asking himself “Is this program so important that it is worth borrowing money from China to fund it?” This sounds like an excellent criterion for budgeting decisions, but I fear that there will be too many programs that Romney believes are worth borrowing money for. That has been the trend of federal government regardless of which party controls the presidency.

We desperately need Gary Johnson in these debates to counter the big government philosophy with a true small government view. While I don’t agree with everything Johnson stands for, I believe having a real alternative to a tax and spend government presented in the debates would be quite refreshing. But alas, that might be difficult to pull off given that the Republicans are spending so much time and money to keep Johnson off the ballots in the key swing states for fear he will sway too many Republican voters to turn to the dark side of Libertarianism.