Sunday, September 30, 2012

Control of the Senate is Paramount

Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney

There are a number of reasons to stay focused on the race for the White House. We all know what the past four years has meant to the dilution of freedom and prosperity. We cannot afford the lack of leadership coming from President Barack Obama for another four years. It is imperative that we unite behind Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to have any chance to change the trajectory of the future of America. The current course is not only unsustainable, it will be unalterable and will subject us to changes that will be forced upon us not of our own making.

One key reason to elect Mitt Romney is the likelihood that Supreme Court nominations will be in order sometime during the next four-year POTUS term. The Court is aging. One or two seats on the nine-member SCOTUS will come up and the POTUS will make those nominations. The directional tilt of the court will be affected for many years to come. Let us be reminded again that the SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare last summer has put the voters front and center this November to pick their path forward on that and every other issue.

Some may recall the slogan "It's the economy, stupid" used by Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign. That campaign was trying to make the point that George H. W. Bush had not adequately addressed the economy. It was James Carville, Clinton's chief political strategist, who hung the poster inside campaign headquarters. It stuck as a defining political slogan for the whole election cycle that year. The clear message was that if Americans felt economically secure they would stick with Bush. If not, they would change course and vote their pocketbooks. Is the same going to be true this year? How can ANYONE claim success in the Obama administration for bolstering our economic outlook in the last four years?

I would assert the slogan is perhaps more meaningful in 2012, than it has ever been. We're considering letting  Barack Obama's dismal economic record continue into the future. His only appeal for re-election is that we're on the right path, we just need a little more time? PUHLEEZE! Will Obama suddenly become the world leader he promised he would be in 2008? Not likely. This election should be a no-brainer if you understand how devastating the policies (or lack of a coherent economic strategy) have been in dampening and nearly extinguishing economic hope and growth. The uncertainty has been palpable. Romney/Ryan will provide leadership in the vacuum Obama has created.

Let me suggest another aspect of how to get control back into the hands of the people - "It's the Senate, stupid." That's what Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) says, along with Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY), and I couldn't agree more. We must put in place Senators to help these three, who can instill conservative values as a majority in the United States Senate.

Here's what WON'T happen without a more conservative Senate:

We won't repeal Obamacare.
We won't balance the budget.
We won't secure our borders.
We won't stop the bailouts.
We won't enact the pro-growth policies needed to get America back to work.

We MUST change the control of the Senate and make Harry Reid the Senate MINORITY leader.

Winning the Senate is going to be a key element in restoring America. When (not if) Mitt Romney wins the presidency, he must have a conservative Senate to install his agenda to put America back to work again. The real percentage of unemployed is more like 21%. Just last month 384,000 were first time applicants for unemployment. Not counted in the Washington spin for unemployment is the number who have given up looking for work or dropped out of the job market. Congress writes the bills to enact a President's legislative wish list. To get Congress moving again there must be a majority in place in both Houses. Don't be surprised to see America finally get serious about reforms that will cut spending, balance the budget and begin attacking the deficit spending. The only way that happens is to elect people who are pledged to those outcomes.

Do you think for one minute Harry Reid will ever send a bill to the President Mitt Romney's desk to repeal Obamacare? Only a few states can affect this outcome of taking back the Senate this November. Only the voters in these states can make it happen. Eight states, eight candidates for the U.S. Senate. Here they are:

Josh Mandel (Ohio)
Ted Cruz (Texas)
Jeff Flake (Arizona)
Richard Mourdock (Indiana)
Deb Fischer (Nebraska)
George Allen (Virginia)
Tom Smith (Pennsylvania)
Dan Bongino (Maryland)

These candidates understand the critical role the U.S. Constitution plays in preserving our freedoms and they will champion, rather than ignore, those guiding principles. These candidates can walk the walk. They believe in small government and capitalism. If you know voters in these critical state Senate races, encourage them to step up and support the election of these candidates.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Sinister Side of Secrecy

Helen and Brent Goates, 1975

My father, L. Brent Goates, now in his 91st year, served as a mission president in the California Arcadia Mission back in the seventies. Twice a year at General Conference time he continues a tradition started when he was serving in that calling. He sends out something he styled as "Heartlines" to about a hundred of his former missionaries and friends. 

He selects a topic that interests him at the moment and summarizes his thoughts by laboriously reducing them to writing on his old IBM Selectric typewriter that dates back to his days at the LDS Hospital. His physical strength is waning dramatically these days, but his spirit and mental faculties are still very much in evidence. 

This month everyone's mind has been preoccupied with the duplicitous nature of the Obama administration. Dad's not nearly as politically attuned as I, but he finds ample evidence to suggest my assertion "the most transparent administration in the history of the Republic" has become anything BUT that. I have also been appalled at the recent death of the Libyan ambassador and the subsequent withholding of the details for political expediency.  

He shares my concerns of the long-term suffering of people we know who have conducted double lives. He has witnessed and lived with those deleterious consequences and they still trouble him. With his permission I share his latest missive: 

October 2012 

The history of The Book of Mormon, my dear companions, reveals the sad demise of two great civilizations which God transported to the new and promised land of America. Both fell to the master Devil’s power when they forsook their Godly heritage. 

Through secret combinations the Jaredite world was continually threatened and finally succumbed. Such bands were a threat to the Nephite and Lamanite nations, challenging righteous authority and eventually seizing power to prevail. These secret societies were not original. They were the offspring of Satan and have existed since the day Cain prepared to kill his brother Abel. (Moses 5:29-31, 51). 

The trademark of Satan’s power operates under the protective cloak and pervasive use of secrecy. This is explained in Helaman’s record: 

Satan did stir up the hearts [of man]. . . and did enter into their covenants and their oaths that they would protect and preserve one another in whatsoever difficult circumstances they should be placed, that they should not suffer for their murders and their plundering and their stealing. . . . 
They did have their signs, yea their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenants and whatsoever wickedness his brother should do, he should not be injured by his brother nor by those who did not belong to his band who had taken this covenant. (Helaman 6:21-23). 

Secrecy does have its legitimate place, such as in secret prayers and secret philanthropy. It might be justified in some cases to refrain from providing details or identities about people and their failings for the purpose of protecting their loved ones from hurt when no harm would otherwise result. 

Personal secrecy becomes dangerous and wrong when it is used to cover up one’s own sins. Since the Apostle Paul taught, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), it would be wise for all of us to examine our own sins. If in doing so we are reluctant and unwilling to set them aside, and when necessary make them known to those we are closest to – our loved ones or our ecclesiastical leaders – we should then be aware we are in dangerous territory. Modern revelation tells us when confession is necessary or complete: 

By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins – behold, he will confess them and forsake them. (D&C 58:43). 

If we are not able to abandon our sin through true repentance and we are too ashamed and unwilling to make our sins known to those closest to us, an alarm signal “beep” should sound off in our minds. Hopefully, in that soul searching examination we will find ourselves in an atmosphere of loving confidence and understanding with parents, spouse or the Church’s “common judge in Israel,” so our confessed disclosures will be kept confidential. This is another area where righteous secrecy is demanded. The Savior taught that after repentance, “I, the Lord, will remember them no more,” and I found as a Church leader that He allows us too, to forget after we have done our duty. 

When the recognition of the misdeed has brought a remorse and yet there is an unwillingness to seek forgiveness, then we are left alone with our sorrow. We are cast down into a world of secrecy with its multiple hazards. This is the place where Satan thrives best. Alone with our guilt in this realm of personal darkness, we become easy prey for the further influence of Satan, who delights in minimizing the seriousness of our transgressions and assures us that many others are likewise engaged and managing; therefore, our inaction is justified. 

Then comes the inevitable cover-up with its dishonesty, denial and deceit – and the “Secret Life” is born. Living two lives, one of total secrecy from loved ones and Church leaders is both frightening and exhaustive. As we persist in this direction we lose control over our judgment and so we become gripped by the awful tongs of addiction. Then, only pain and tragedy will follow because some day, after immense sorrow and suffering, the truth will be known. 

The most heinous crime and despicable sin emerge from a quiet and almost unnoticed beginning. Think of the tragedy that could have been averted if timely and humble repentance could have abolished the infractions in their infancy. 

In my experience such a narrow focus on secrecy has seldom been studied. For this reason I have dared to address such a personal and tender topic. Remember, that which we choose to keep secret to ourselves should be constantly under our own scrutiny and can be the tipoff for our future, either leading to rectification with peace or constant personal misery. We get to choose. 

As one sinner to all other sinners, I testify that God and true Saints love the repentant sinner. 

Always, your friend, 

President L. Brent Goates

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Change Doctrine

I awoke this morning with my first conscious thought - embracing change in our lives is what brings improvement.

Let me illustrate. In my daily work I am tasked with introducing Packsize to businesses all across the country who have expressed not only an interest in our value proposition, but are committed to change. We deploy On Demand Packaging, an end-to-end supply chain improvement for corrugated paper. Our founder and CEO, Hanko Kiessner, is fond of asking the rhetorical question, "We can put a man on the moon, but we can't make the right-sized box?" His life's work is devoted to answering that question.

Businesses we target exist and continue to thrive in this country despite all the negativity and regulatory hurdles that swirl around them from the political class, because they are constantly evolving to a higher level of efficiency. They manage budgets. They seek profits. They employ people. They reject wasteful practices. They look for ways to innovate. They are rarely content with the status quo. They embrace disruptive technology like ours.

I train my team to look for the decision makers in organizations who are committed to these principles. Rarely do we have success by engaging low-level managers. When I talk to a purchasing manager who tells me, "We already have established relationships with corrugate suppliers," I know I am speaking to the wrong person. Those people exist for one reason only - to make the status quo work. They defend what they are doing. Change for some managers threatens their existence. No, I tell my team, those aren't the people we are interested in engaging for our conversation about change. We want strategic thinkers who are risk-takers; senior-level executives who are willing to extend themselves into the future lives of their companies. We want the people who are judged by their organizations on their willingness and courage to embrace change. We want the executives that understand change is painful but necessary for their future survival as a company.

Just yesterday, we engaged the strategic thinkers at Panasonic, US Auto Parts, Knoll Furniture, Bosch Rexroth, and Berry Plastics. These are each innovative and dynamic companies with an eye on the future. Our competitors might read this and look with envy on how we managed to engage these stellar companies. Am I worried? No. They cannot begin to compete with what we do and how we do it. We are agents of change, and initially we often impose painful realities on our clients. We get a commitment that they are open to exploring change. But invariably they thank us later. Our video testimonials are testament to that fact.

Our area managers, deployed now around the world, are not traditional salespeople. Instead, they are team captains who are adept at engaging the client with our engineers to develop customized solutions with an eye to improvement. The business case must be made to the satisfaction of each side. We invest a lot of up front consulting to discover the needs of our clients. We are confident in our ability to deliver that change with an accompanying significant cost reduction. We obliterate the status quo. And we are very profitable.

This pulsating Democrat political meme that corporations are somehow to be denigrated and criticized for making profits is wrong-headed and misguided. Profits in the hands of wise entrepreneurs are routinely re-invested and often plowed right back into the operations of their companies so they can continue to grow, thrive and prosper. THAT's where jobs come from. Anyone whose address is Washington D.C. cannot assert they create jobs. I've worked in the private sector my whole life. I can tell you who the job creators are. They are the innovators and the decision makers, the risk-takers, who routinely figure out ways to employ people and meet their payrolls and pay taxes.

They are people like Mitt Romney. They are NOT people like Barack Obama. We all know what makes America tick. In 2008, anxious for change, we made a mistake, but it was only an aberration and we can adjust and correct it this year.

Governments are NOT the solution to ANYTHING. They exist to serve us as the people, and for no other reason. We have allowed our federal government to consume and waste far too many of our resources. We  must now assert CHANGE on the political class on November 6th. We must take remedial action to improve as a country. It will be painful to some (those who don't embrace this year's change agent, Mitt Romney), but it must be done if we are to have any hope of changing the trajectory of America's future.

On a personal level in a gospel paradigm, think about what change means to you. It often comes under the label "repentance." I am not impressed with people who steadfastly reject repentance because they think it is just too painful. They defer, they procrastinate, and they resist change. They "manage" the status quo. I will never forget one young man I interviewed, when he said to me, "Bishop, I just don't want to repent fully because I love my sins too much." It startled me when he said it, but as I reflected later on his words, even after all these years, I realized he was speaking a marvelous truth. Change is often painful. Repentance is often hard at first. Stepping over the hurdles that would impair our desire to change, however, often brings improvement and innovation.

Many people tell me they feel "trapped" by their circumstances. Those people embrace a "victim mentality," suggesting that everything that is going on their lives is beyond their control. I remember so many disgruntled employees I worked with years ago at Zions First National Bank (back in the day), who hated everything they did on a daily basis, but refused to quit and find something better. I resolved I would never be one of them. They are in agony, most of them. They lament that things are the way they are, and they seem helpless to change and improve. They cite factors beyond their control as evidence of their inability to effect real and lasting change in their lives. Happiness seems to elude them. They find little joy in their daily existence.

These are fanciful falsehoods. Their author is the enemy to all righteousness.

In the gospel of Jesus Christ we encounter many seeming paradoxes that are worth considering. They may even be called "divine paradoxes." Let me give some examples and see if this is not true in your life.

"Come unto me, all ye that are labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28).

"Take my yoke upon you. . . and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-29).

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 16:25).

To be brief, let me just say it - the quest for happiness in this life does NOT consist of lifting up our heads and glorying in our own strengths, skills and successes. Rather, happiness in this life consists in finding Him. That usually involves repentance. We will only repent if we believe He can heal us, and that requires faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Redeemer. He becomes the true change agent in our lives. We cannot bring about that needed change on our own. It takes someone who can help us manage through the needed changes for improvement. It takes perfection to make one perfect.

We often cite the 32nd chapter of Alma as the definitive explanation for what constitutes "faith." But upon more careful examination you will discover something much deeper. Alma was not making a general statement about faith in his teachings to the people, rather he was suggesting something very specific and singular about faith as the only unseen power that can change one's soul. That's more than saying, "I have faith the sun will rise in the morning skies to the east."

Alma teaches about having enough faith to begin "an experiment" on THE WORD. That experiment is about finding the truth about the divinity of Christ. Only a Divine Redeemer can effect an infinite and eternal change in us. And only Jesus Christ could offer an infinite and eternal sacrifice because He was Himself "infinite and eternal" by His very nature as the sinless Only Begotten Son of the Father.

In the next chapter, Alma, sensing they did not understand his meaning, offers this commentary on his words by citing his listeners back to the words of an ancient prophet, Zenos:

Do ye remember to have read what Zenos, the prophet of old, has said concerning prayer or worship?
For he said: Thou art merciful, O God, for thou hast heard my prayer, even when I was in the wilderness; yea, thou wast merciful when I prayed concerning those who were mine enemies, and thou didst turn them to me.
Yea, O God, and thou wast merciful unto me when I did cry unto thee in my field; when I did cry unto thee in my prayer, and thou didst hear me.
And again, O God, when I did turn to my house thou didst hear me in my prayer.
And when I did turn unto my closet, O Lord, and prayed unto thee, thou didst hear me.
Yea, thou art merciful unto thy children when they cry unto thee, to be heard of thee and not of men, and thou wilt hear them.
Yea, O God, thou hast been merciful unto me, and heard my cries in the midst of thy congregations.
Yea, and thou hast also heard me when I have been cast out and have been despised by mine enemies; yea, thou didst hear my cries, and wast angry with mine enemies, and thou didst visit them in thine anger with speedy destruction.
And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son. (Alma 33:3-11).

And thus we find once again the power of The Book of Mormon. It is a book replete with references to people and their deliverance from sins and afflictions of all sorts based upon the merciful intervention of God in their lives. We always may find solace and comfort in THE WORD. When we exercise even a particle of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, and embrace His perfection, we are healed and we are on the way to perfection ourselves as we change from our fallen state. We see His mercy at work in our lives. In our anguish He succors us. He assures us change is possible and desirable so we may have the long-term improvements we seek. And it is more than disruptive new technology. . .

. . . It is the stuff of which eternal life is made.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Congressman Allen West - Truth about Medicare

One of my all-time favorite politicians is Representative Allen West from Florida. He's in a battleground state, and getting the truth out about such an important issue to Floridians (many retirees) as Medicare reform is critical to his campaign. He's a plain-spoken truth teller. This appeared on his Facebook page this morning.

Congressman Allen West (R-FL)
Stop the Lies! The real truth about Medicare...please read:
by Congressman Allen West on Monday, September 10, 2012 at 7:23am
Let’s get right to the point, there has been an enormous amount of fear-mongering and scare tactics emanating from President Barack Obama and the liberal left on the issue of Medicare.

We have a responsibility to our seniors and we shall keep it. We shall also ensure we preserve and protect not just Medicare but also the commitment to future generations of Americans, our children and grandchildren, not to bankrupt their hopes and dreams.

The Fiscal Year 2012 Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees report on Medicare and Social Security has these programs respectively going “belly up” in 2024 and 2033. That is unacceptable to me and should be to everyone.

Medicare as we know is doomed to fail and collapse unless courageous men and women take action -- doing nothing but complaining and demonizing is the folly of incompetents. Lying to the American people and our seniors is unacceptable.

Here is the truth. As per a report issued by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) in July of this year, there are $716 billon of cuts to Medicare as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in Fiscal Year 2013-2022.

These cuts to Medicare cannot be disputed and show that President Obama and the Democrats see Medicare as a “slush fund” to pay for their massive government expansion into the healthcare industry, creating 159 new government agencies and bureaucracies and further exacerbating the demise of this vital program.

These cuts include $517 billion to Part A (Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund) and $247 billion to Part B (Supplemental Medicare Insurance Trust Fund) as follows:
- $294 billion payment cuts to hospitals
- $156 billion cuts to Medicare Advantage affecting 25% of seniors nationwide
- $39 billion cuts to skilled nursing
- $17 billion cuts to hospice care
- $66 billion cuts to home healthcare
- $33 billion cuts to other providers
- $11 billion cuts resulting from the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB, 15-member panel of unelected government bureaucrats making Medicare price control decisions).

The plan I voted for that passed in the United States House of Representatives is something completely opposite to this horrific plan. First of all, it actually spends more on Medicare in the next 10 years.

The House of Representatives-passed budget -- and remember the Democrat-controlled the United States Senate has not passed a budget in over 1200 days -- would repeal the IPAB which is empowered to cut Medicare in ways that would jeopardize seniors’ access to care.

The House of Representatives-passed budget saves Medicare for current and future seniors.  In other words, there is no change for anyone 55 years of age and older.

 For those younger, when they become eligible, Medicare will provide a premium-support payment and a list of guaranteed coverage options -- including a traditional fee-for-service option -– from which recipients can choose a plan that best suits THEIR needs.

Understand that currently on average Americans are paying $110,000-$115,000 into Medicare but receive closer to $300,000 in benefits…not to mention the widespread fraud which must be tackled.

This option-based program reforms Medicare and would be determined by a competitive bidding process which doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand will help drive down price and improve the quality of care for our future seniors.

As well, premium support, competitive bidding, and more assistance for lower income seniors, or those with greater healthcare needs ensures guaranteed affordability.

These are not talking points, but truth, objective assessment and analysis.

The question is very simple, whom shall you trust in the debate about Medicare, and the larger debate about how best to get our nation back on track?

The people who stated, “we must pass the bill in order to know what is in the bill?”

The people who said the healthcare bill will only cost the American taxpayer $940 billion only to find out that it now costs closer to $1.7 TRILLION?

The people who told you the individual mandate was not a tax, only to find out that the only way Obamacare can be declared constitutional is for the individual mandate deemed to be a tax? And as a result you have a healthcare law that entails 20 new taxes and funding for 16,000 new IRS agents.

Are you really going to trust the ideas of the President of the United States who said he would cut the deficit in half in his first term, only to have four straight years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits (the previous high was $468 billion)? The fellow who has added more debt, over $5 trillion in less than four years…more than the previous 42 Presidents combined?

Are you really going to trust the recommended approach of a fellow who said that if his trillion-dollar stimulus were passed, unemployment would never go above 8%... and that at this time it would be 5.6%?

Are you really going to trust the policies of the fellow who presented a budget that raises $1.9 trillion in new taxes in order to increase the size of the Federal Government by 53% and the budget never, ever, balances?

Lastly, are you going to trust that the affable gent who stated if he could not turn this around would have a one-term presidency -- but now demands a second term -- will stick to his word?

I have provided you the truth, now make your decision…whose ideas will you trust to protect, preserve, and honor the commitment of Medicare?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Clint Eastwood - the rest of the empty chair story

This is just too good. It's the story behind the most talked about speech in the convention season from either political party. Just one man speaking his mind without notes. Without doubt, when people look back on this campaign the one speech EVERYBODY will remember will be Clint Eastwood speaking to an empty chair. The metaphorical value is beyond comprehension.

Published in its entirety from the original source, Paul Miller, writing for The Carmel Pine Cone:
The Pine Cone's first story of the

HomeThis week's editionFront pageSubscribe
Eastwood says his convention appearance was 'mission accomplished'
Published: September 7, 2012
AFTER A week as topic No. 1 in American politics, former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood said the outpouring of criticism from left-wing reporters and liberal politicians after his appearance at the Republican National Convention last Thursday night, followed by an avalanche of support on Twitter and in the blogosphere, is all the proof anybody needs that his 12-minute discourse achieved exactly what he intended it to.
“President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” Eastwood told The Pine Cone this week. “Romney and Ryan would do a much better job running the country, and that’s what everybody needs to know. I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle.”

Breaking his silence
For five days after he thrilled or horrified the nation by talking to an empty chair representing Obama on the night Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination for president, Eastwood remained silent while pundits and critics debated whether his remarks, and the rambling way he made them, had helped or hurt Romney’s chances of winning in November.
But in a wide-ranging interview with The Pine Cone Tuesday from his home in Pebble Beach, he said he had conveyed the messages he wanted to convey, and that the spontaneous nature of his presentation was intentional, too.
“I had three points I wanted to make,” Eastwood said. “That not everybody in Hollywood is on the left, that Obama has broken a lot of the promises he made when he took office, and that the people should feel free to get rid of any politician who’s not doing a good job. But I didn’t make up my mind exactly what I was going to say until I said it.”
Eastwood’s appearance at the convention came after a personal request from Romney in August, soon after Eastwood endorsed the former Massachusetts governor at a fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho. But it was finalized only in the last week before the convention, along with an agreement to build suspense by keeping it secret until the last moment.
Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign aides asked for details about what Eastwood would say to the convention.
“They vett most of the people, but I told them, ‘You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say,’” Eastwood recalled.
And while the Hollywood superstar has plenty of experience being adored by crowds, he said he hasn’t given a lot of speeches and admitted that, “I really don’t know how to.” He also hates using a teleprompter, so it was settled in his mind that when he spoke to the 10,000 people in the convention hall, and the millions more watching on television, he would do it extemporaneously.
“It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen,” Eastwood said. “I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there.”
Eastwood is a liberal on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, but he has strongly conservative opinions about the colossal national debt that has accumulated while Obama has been president, his failure to get unemployment below 6 percent, and a host of other economic issues.
“Even people on the liberal side are starting to worry about going off a fiscal cliff,” Eastwood said.

Last minute decisions

But what — exactly — would he say to the Republican delegates about the $16 trillion national debt and 8.3 percent unemployment rate?
Friends and associates weren’t as much help as he had hoped.
“Everybody had advice for me, except the janitor,” Eastwood said.
Early Thursday morning, when Eastwood left San Jose Airport on a private jet headed for Florida, he was still making up his mind. And even with his appearance just a few hours away, all Eastwood could tell Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, and his aides, was “to reassure them that everything I would say would be nice about Mitt Romney.”
It was only after a quick nap in his hotel room a few blocks from the convention site, Eastwood said, that he mapped out his remarks — starting with his observation about politics in Hollywood, then challenging the president about the failure of his economic policies, and wrapping up by telling the public “they don’t have to worship politicians, like they were royalty or something.”
But even then, with just an hour before he appeared on stage, it still hadn’t occurred to Eastwood to use an empty chair as a stand-in for the president.
“I got to the convention site just 15 or 20 minutes before I was scheduled to go on,” he said. “That was fine, because everything was very well organized.”
After a quick trip through airport-style security, he was taken to a Green Room, where Archbishop Dolan of New York sought him out to say hello. Then he was taken backstage to wait for his cue. And that was when inspiration struck.
“There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,” Eastwood said. “When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody.”
He asked a stagehand to take it out to the lectern while he was being announced.
“The guy said, ‘You mean you want it at the podium?’ and I said, ‘No, just put it right there next to it.’”
Then, with the theme song from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” as a musical introduction, and a huge picture of him as Josey Wales as the backdrop, Eastwood walked out to tremendous applause.
“The audience was super enthusiastic, and it’s always great when they’re with you instead of against you,” he said.

‘Enjoying themselves’
Speaking without any notes, Eastwood recalled the good feelings the whole nation had when Obama was elected, but said they had been dashed as the economy stayed in the doldrums despite massive stimulus spending. He decried the “stupid idea” of closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and putting terrorists on trial in New York City, joked about Vice President Joe Biden’s intellect and quizzed empty-chair Obama about what he says to people about his failed economic policies. He pretended Obama told Romney to do something “physically impossible” to himself, said it’s time to elect a “stellar businessman” as president instead of a lawyer, and, as a final point, told the people, “You own this country.”
When an elected official doesn’t “do the job, we’ve got to let ‘em go,” he said, and the crowd ate it up.
“They really seemed to be enjoying themselves,” Eastwood said.
Originally, he was told he could speak for six or seven minutes, and right before he went on, he was asked to keep it to five, but he said, “When people are applauding so much, it takes you 10 minutes to say five minutes’ worth.”
Also, there were no signals or cues of any kind, so “when you’re out there, it’s kind of hard to tell how much time is going by.”
He also said he was aware he hesitated and stumbled a bit, but said “that’s what happens when you don’t have a written-out speech.”
As he wrapped up his remarks, he was aware his presentation was “very unorthodox,” but that was his intent from the beginning, even if some people weren’t on board.
“They’ve got this crazy actor who’s 82 years old up there in a suit,” he said. “I was a mayor, and they’re probably thinking I know how to give a speech, but even when I was mayor I never gave speeches. I gave talks.”
Backstage, it was all congratulations and glad-handing, he said. And then he returned to the Green Room, where he listened to speeches by Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney. It wasn’t possible for him to watch the media coverage of his presentation.
But the country was listening as the television reporters and commentators covering his speech reacted to it. And they hated it.
“I have to say, as a fan, a movie fan, this was exceedingly strange. It just seemed like a very strange, unscripted moment,” said a shocked Andrea Mitchell on NBC.
“That was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen at a political convention in my entire life,” said Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, barely concealing the condescension in her voice.
Bob Schieffer of CBS said it was “a big mistake to put Clint Eastwood on before Mitt Romney.”
On the Washington Post website, reporter Chris Cillizza wrote that “‘awkward’ may be the kindest term we can think of” to describe Eastwood’s speech.
“He hemmed. He hawed. He mumbled. He rambled,” Cillizza wrote.
And on CNN, Piers Morgan said Eastwood was “going bonkers” on the stage and said his presentation “looked like complete chaos.” He pressured his guests with questions like, “Weren’t you in pain while he was up there?”
But Eastwood wasn’t aware of any of it, and after the speeches were over, Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, came backstage to thank him.
“They were very enthusiastic, and we were all laughing,” Eastwood said.
When he went outside to his car, a large crowd cheered and chanted lines from his speech.

An overnight rebellion
Back at his hotel, Eastwood had a room service dinner and went to bed. The next morning, he got up early and went straight to the airport, still unaware that his appearance was the No. 1 political topic in the nation.
“I read the Tampa newspaper, and every article said something negative about the convention, but there wasn’t much about me,” Eastwood said.
He had no idea that overnight, a rebellion had erupted online against the media’s condemnation of him, with thousands of bloggers, Twitterers and commentators calling him, “a genius,” “1,000 times more brilliant than the media,” and saying he’s “only gotten better with age.”
They also started posting their own versions of Eastwood’s empty chair in droves (“eastwooding”), and, on YouTube, replays of his remarks at the convention were being viewed millions of times.
Even into his 80s, Eastwood has an unprecedented record of success in Hollywood, and is still making two movies a year. He’s currently starring in “Trouble with the Curve,” and is about to direct a remake of “A Star is Born” — things he obviously couldn’t do if he were a befuddled senior citizen. To locals who know him, the idea that he is uninformed or senile is laughable.
Nevertheless, the bitter criticism has continued.
On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, called Eastwood “the perfect icon of the Republican tea party: an angry old white man spewing incoherent nonsense.”
Eastwood said people, including reporters, who were shocked by his remarks “are obviously on the left,” and he maintained that, while many Americans didn’t like the way he handled his convention appearance, millions more have something else on their minds.
“A lot of people are realizing they had the wool pulled over their eyes by Obama,” Eastwood said.

* * *

So the empty chair metaphors will continue to spill out everywhere until election day, no doubt, but here's my favorite to date:

Karl Marx
If I have to explain it, it isn't really that paradoxical. But for the lefties in the crowd, let me spell it out -

Consider: It seems like you can replace any component of a ship, and it is still the same ship. So you can replace them all, one at a time, and it is still the same ship. However, you can then take all the original pieces, and assemble them into a ship. That, too, is the same ship you began with.

No matter how you slice and dice the soaring and lofty Obama rhetoric, it still adds up to Karl Marx. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What if Obama were to ban all corporate profits?

This is priceless. A reporter went around asking the DNC delegates this week in Charlotte if they would support President Obama if he were to put forward a law banning all corporate profits. Watch and weep:

Seriously, folks, you just can't make this stuff up!

Monday, September 3, 2012

10 Most Mentioned Lines from the RNC

Here are the ten most mentioned lines lines we found from the 2012 GOP convention, ranked by social media mentions provided by Topsy:

1. “I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen. Something that I think is very important. It is that, you, we — we own this country.” – Clint Eastwood, 6947 mentions

2. “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.” – Mitt Romney, 5890 mentions

3. “The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.” – Paul Ryan, 5,363 mentions

4. “Real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.” – Chris Christie, 5259 mentions

5. “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.” – Paul Ryan, 4,395 mentions

6. “Politicians are employees of ours.” – Clint Eastwood, 3,657 mentions

7. “When the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.” – Mitt Romney, 3,386 mentions

8. “They believe in teacher’s unions. We believe in teachers.” – Chris Christie, 3,045 mentions

9. “Let’s get this done.” – Paul Ryan, 2,744 mentions

10. “I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country.” – Clint Eastwood, 2,673 mentions

* * *

So how does Barack Obama respond in his reaction to the RNC? He says he heard no new ideas by anyone all week long. THAT statement is hysterical, compared to Mr. Big New Bold Ideas, himself:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

When the Choice is Placed Before You - CHOOSE WELL

From time to time I hear apocalyptic predictions of America's demise due to the overhang of our national debt. To be sure, it is out of control, and it must be reduced. However, we still have time to take action before it is irreversibly too late and we won't be able to do much about it.

I also hear those who would have you believe that we are "owned" by China because they hold all our debt. This is simply not true. The sad reality is that the U.S. Treasury (that means us as taxpayers) holds the lion's share of the $16 Trillion U.S. debt.

As a world region, Asia owns only 20 percent of U.S. federal debt, with China holding less than 10 percent ($1.3 trillion) and Japan owning approximately 6 percent ($882 billion).

American citizens and now, unfortunately, the Federal Reserve are the primary holders of U.S. federal debt. The U.S. urgently needs to get its fiscal house in order. It has too much debt, period. The relatively minor share of it owned by China is not the problem.

I took careful note this last week for signs of the approaching financial apocalypse. I heard nothing but hope and optimism for the future from Mitt Romney. Please take a minute to read the full text of his acceptance speech here. Paul Ryan offered a sober warning that time is running out. That was about it. The reason there is still time is that America is still the last best hope for stability in the world. Where else would the world invest? Our debt instruments are still relatively cheap, and that's why the obligations to pay keep piling up. When there are no buyers left for our debt offered at auction each week, the Federal Reserve will be the last buyer standing and it scoops it up and tucks it away for a future day of reckoning. We've just got to reverse that trend before the clock runs out. I've said it before, and I will continue to remind us that we do not have a debt problem as much as we have an unrestrained spending problem.

We simply must resolve to stop spending money we don't have. Economic growth will solve the problem, so that's why you've been hearing that the American economy will come roaring back to life when the right policies are put into place by the next Romney/Ryan administration.

What are the right policies? Here are some side by side comparisons to get us started:

Asia accounts for more than half the world’s population. Ironically, in that part of the world freedom and tyranny live side by side. So do economic prosperity and poverty. It isn't much different there than it is right here in America in that regard.

East and South Asia have some of the best places in the world to do business. Conversely, they also have some of the worst. Within the United States, the same is true also. Some states are more "business friendly" than others. Utah increasingly is seen as one of the best places in America to do business. Why? Because of its policies to encourage business development.

Asia is home to some of the most unstable, dangerous nations in the world, like North Korea. But it is also home to some of the most steady and reliable, like the "real" Korea.

It is also home to the only country in the world capable of emerging as a peer competitor for global American influence – the People’s Republic of China.

Here's what the debt picture looks like in reality today:

Given this current snapshot, we must ask ourselves what the "right policies" are for America to move forward. That's the Obama campaign slogan - "FORWARD." However, nothing this administration has done for the past four years suggests it will take us forward in the next four.

Here are some things to think about what it will take to restore America to its leadership role in the world:

We're down to about two months left in this presidential election season. Americans are facing a historic moment in time. The contrasting choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama could not be more well-defined and clear. Only the American people have the power to change the trajectory of the next few years. They will decide in this election what the role of the federal government will be in their individual lives, and they DO have that power.

The Republicans gathered in Tampa last week to begin framing their desire to have that debate with the Democrats who will gather in Charlotte this coming week. They raised a number of issues screaming for definitive solutions and policies that will impact us for years to come. You heard story after story last week about how up from nothing Americans realized the hope of their existence and prospered under the hope offered by the American dream.

Energy: America needs to stop talking and start doing to end energy subsidies and restore a free market in the energy sector. We can and we should develop our own domestic energy resources in an environmentally responsible way. There are literally trillions of cubic feet underground begging to be tapped to end our dependency on foreign oil.

School choice: Chris Christie said it well, I thought - "They are for teachers' unions, we're for teachers." The federal government needs to get out of the union business, and start focusing on the students by offering them and their parents more choices. The best way to serve the needs of a diverse population is to give families the freedom to choose a school — public, private, charter, or home school — a choice that best fits their children’s needs.

Free trade: The best way to create high-quality jobs in America is to promote free trade among nations. A free flow of goods, services and technology investments across national borders enhances our ability to compete in the world, and that starts with providing markets for our best and brightest to compete in overseas and here at home.

The federal budget: There might be no one in America today better equipped than Paul Ryan to tackle the federal budget. It is complex, tricky and in every sense a balancing act among a vast array of programs and entitlements begging to be addressed, but by picking Ryan, Mitt Romney has signaled he is ready to take it on and get it under control. To preserve the American dream requires reforming major entitlement programs, permanently balancing the budget, and reducing the national debt.

Tax reform: Here again, a major overhaul of tax policy has been discussed for decades, but little progress has been made. This, like no other policy, has been a historical stalemate. Control of the Senate and the House is paramount in achieving meaningful reform in this area. America’s families and small businesses need predictable and permanent tax relief. The uncertainty must be eliminated. A tax cut here and there isn’t enough; we need fundamental tax reform. A tax system that is simple and fair would spur economic growth and protect those at the bottom of the income ladder. Lots of proposals have been floated. Now is the time to pick a few of the best and act upon them.

Repealing Obamacare: The Heritage Foundation lays out five well-reasoned positions on why it needs to be repealed. Obamacare doesn’t stop with government intrusion into your relationship with your doctor. It also raises taxes, adds to the U.S. deficit, and attacks religious and personal freedoms. Forget for a moment the stated reason it was first enacted - to give everyone in society access to affordable medical care. The hard truth is that Obamacare CANNOT and will NOT deliver on that promise because the math is unsustainable and now that we actually know what is in the bill it is nothing more than a massive tax increase at a time in our history when we can least afford it.

Reforming Medicare: Medicare reform is not just a desirable goal. It is an absolute necessity. The sleight of hand imposed upon Americans for years about its sustainability is nothing more than a magician's accounting trick and it is bankrupting not only the Medicare program but American itself. Ryan's proposal is simple in its context - to keep the promises we've made to seniors it was designed to help by giving them more choice and control over their health care decisions and guarantee better access to quality care. To do that, workers younger than age 55 will have to be introduced to the reforms of the program in order to sustain it. That will mean higher premiums for them and a reduction in benefits. Means testing will also likely be introduced. Those are the hard facts associated with Medicare that the leaders of both political parties have been loathe to discuss with taxpayers. Paul Ryan is the man for these times.

In Charlotte next week, the Democrats will attempt to muddy the waters on these direct and forthright policies. They will beg America for "just four more years" so their policies (or lack thereof) can get them through one more election cycle. They will not be successful in winning that argument with the American people, who are ready and willing to have the adult conversation about their future as Americans.

I am a terrible prognosticator when it comes to predicting which way the political winds will blow, but I've got a feeling. That feeling tells me this election will be not only a turning point in American history. It will be a sea change with major implications on the future we will choose by the leaders we elect in November.

Even 82 year-old Clint Eastwood sees it coming. Among the other things he said that garnered more commentary in the media, were these words to remind us of who WE are, an appeal to everyone in America who will wield a ballot on November 6th:

"I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen. Something that I think is very important. It is that, you, WE - WE own this country.


"WE - WE own it. It is not you owning it, and not politicians owning it. Politicians are employees of ours.


"And - so - they are just going to come around and beg for votes every few years. It is the same old deal. But I just think it is important that you realize that you’re the best in the world. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you’re libertarian or whatever, you are the best. And WE should not ever forget that. And when somebody does not do the job, WE got to let them go."

Either the leaders we elect in November will guide the country even further down the unsustainable path of  "progressivism," thus assuring our eventual demise by continuing the ruinous agenda of borrowing and deficit spending, or we will choose leaders who can begin the necessary work along the long, slow path leading to a turnaround to invigorate the principled policies of our American founders. I don't know how I could lay it out more succinctly than that. We are standing at the proverbial fork in the road and we must choose one path or the other. There is no longer a middle of the road approach.

I believe the first step toward reducing our dependency upon government is to unleash the engines of economic productivity and growth. Everything else will follow in natural succession. The Reagan model of the early eighties works. We heard testimony after testimony about that this last week from successful governors who applied the model to their individual states.

  • There is little doubt we will hear nothing but empty rhetoric coming out of the DNC next week. 
  • Their convention will offer a stark and contrasting path forward over the cliff leading to oblivion. 
  • Their failed policies of the last four years are ample testimony enough. 
  • They have presided over a federal government that has acted without constitutional limits, without restrictions, and fueled solely by political expediency and fewer and fewer budgetary constraints. 
  • To do what they have done without a budget for four years is not only reckless, it is patently unconstitutional. 

It appears the only day of reckoning they will face will have to be before the harsh tribunal of the disillusioned voters who put them in power in the first place. The contest boils down to about 100 counties in six or seven states, who voted in 2008 for President Obama in the glare of the bright lights, the soaring rhetoric and the glossy promises that could never be realized. They didn't know it then, but they surely must know it now.

I've already made up my mind and I'll cast a ballot for the Romney/Ryan ticket the minute my early voting ballot arrives in the mail. For me, it can't come soon enough. In its essence it boils down to who has the right policies. It has nothing to do with Mitt Romney's religion, nor Barack Obama's ethnicity. Romney summarized it best about his Mormon religion being a non-factor: "We were Mormons and growing up in Michigan; that might have seemed unusual or out of place but I really don’t remember it that way. My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to." And similarly, opposing Obama's policies does not make one a racist.

There are some who say they still don't know Mitt Romney and wonder if they can trust him. At the RNC he let others do the talking about his quiet deeds of kindness, compassion and caring for others, but they were not broadcast in prime time. For those stories you had to do a little digging, but here are a few. In that comparison Mitt Romney wins by a landslide. It isn't even close.

So now we are finally down to the policy discussion. This time around, we can only hope and pray the residents of those 100 counties get it right, for a simple reason:

In America today we must begin anew voluntarily, or the consequences of our indecision will be thrust upon us.