Archive for the ‘ politics ’ Category

my thoughts on last night’s election (v.2012)

Obama Victory Speech
Four years ago I wrote a similarly titled post after a similar result to last night’s Presidential election. In it I lamented the dismal campaign that the Republicans ran, how they tried to appeal to the liberals by propping McCain up as a Democrat in a Republican suit, and how the McCain loss to Obama was a great opportunity to rebuild the party and go back to it’s core ideals.

A lot of the pundits today are talking about “what went wrong” and listing off the innumerable things that Romney failed to do in the final weeks of the race. So what did Romney do wrong? Nothing. He ran a fantastic, solid, classy, meaningful campaign. Granted, in Tennessee we were spared unending Obama vs. Romney campaign ads because we’ve been locked in as a Republican state since the Cold War (not entirely true, but close). I hear the ads got pretty negative, but I didn’t see many of them. What I saw from the Romney campaign in the debates and on the stump showed a candidate focused on the issues and passionate about the country. 95% of the time, Mitt Romney did exactly the right things. He nailed his platform down. He chose a killer running mate. He attacked strong in debate #1, and performed solidly in the final two. Whereas in 2008 McCain was the wrong choice for the Republican party and Obama was the wrong choice for the country; in 2012 Romney was the right choice for the Republican party and, well, I still believe Obama is the wrong choice for the country.

Going into last night, I was cautiously optimistic for a Romney win. I wasn’t necessarily surprised that Obama won – I was surprised at how fast it all ended. I really thought we’d be tallying votes well into November and wouldn’t hear from the Supreme Court as to who the President would be until mid-December. Wrong and wrong.

Thinking back, there are a few things that happened, hindsight being 20/20. I really thought the American people were more angry about the state of the nation, especially the economy, than they really are. Think back two years ago. People were absolutely up in arms – they were downright mad about the lack of progress on the economy. And the American people let their voice be heard by booting the Democrats out of the House. I really wonder if that shift in power in the House diluted Romney’s chance of securing the election yesterday. Did that burning anger get tempered in the 2010 election and the flames died out? Or did the ensuing political gridlock that occurred as a result of the House stonewalling Obama for two years turn the tide back the other way and push support towards Obama again? If so, was winning the House worth it? Obama’s far left agenda was stalled for two years, but now he gets a mulligan with a second term.

So maybe the House of Representatives power shift took a little wind out of the collective conservative sail. But what should be said about the ridiculously long Republican primary season? Frankly, I wasn’t paying too close attention when the entire army of candidates were seeking the party nomination back then, but you have to wonder if that many debates and a primary season that lasted that long had poor effects on the conservative agenda.

Then there was the hurricane. Hard to know how much of a bump the storm and Obama’s opportunity to show up and play hero gave the President. He was afforded the chance to “be Presidential” in a tragic situation on a very public stage in the critical days before the election. And you have to think, everyone watching Obama during those critical three days was weighing and comparing his response to George W. Bush’s response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The Republican party has a tough road ahead of them. They ran a really great campaign and accomplished some of that rebuilding I was hoping they would accomplish in the last four years. But the message of conservatism does not resonate with the majority of Americans. While President Obama criss-crosses the country as the cool guy rallying “Forward!” with Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z in tow, the Republicans sound like the cranky old man yelling from the porch at the punk kids to “Get off the grass!” as they warn against the looming national debt and the dangers of a welfare state.

So here’s where we are. President Obama is in office for the next four years. He’s made some big promises (again), and he’s got a verifiable mess on his hands. But this time, he knows exactly what he’s getting into. While he’ll probably continue to blame the Bush administration for the current $16 trillion in national debt that we are under, anything added to it from here on out is squarely on him. Any negative turnaround in the economy – now that we’ve hit bottom and turned the corner – is squarely on him. Any shortcomings in our national defense and our inability to protect our interests, at home and abroad, are on him. Will he be up to the task? Will the 51% of the American people that voted for Mr. Obama hold the Democratic party accountable four years from now if he fails miserably?

I read through Obama’s Jobs Plan today and noted the campaign promises he has made in regards to his plans for the economy and creating jobs. Here’s what he needs to be held accountable for:

President Obama’s Jobs Plan Campaign Promises


PROMISE: Obama will cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years

Already I have questions on this one. He says he will cut the deficit by $4 trillion, but the deficit is the amount of cash shortfall we have each year as a result of our federal spending. Currently our deficit is a little north of $1.1 trillion annually. So…… um, I don’t know, is he going to give us a surplus? Or is this a typo and he really means cut the national debt by $4 trillion? I’ll assume the latter. He says that $1 trillion of this has already been accounted for as a result of spending cuts the President signed into law last summer. I can’t comment on the spending cuts, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, so that means Mr. Obama is responsible for $3 trillion in national debt reduction by the end of 2023. If these reductions happen linearly, Obama is responsible for cutting the debt by $300 billion each year for the next four years, amounting to $1.2 trillion in reductions by the end of 2016. So for the President to make good on this promise, the national debt needs to be equal to or less than $14.8 trillion by the end of his term.

PROMISE: Half of the money that has been / will be saved by pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan will be used to reduce the national debt; the other half will go towards government projects such as rebuilding roads, bridges, runways, and schools

That last part in liberal-speak is called “creating jobs”, AKA spending money.  I can’t speak to the cost of the wars – I don’t know how much that was costing us monthly, but I intend to look into it.

PROMISE: $2.50 in spending will be cut for every $1 in additional revenue received from taxes on the wealthiest families as well as the closing of corporate tax loopholes

So taxes go up on the millionaires and businesses, but at the same time cuts will be made to the annual budget amounting to 250% of whatever additional tax revenue is brought in. Ambitious goal. Governments don’t like cutting spending.


PROMISE: Obama will eliminat special loopholes and tax breaks that benefit big business and the wealthiest families

Already mentioned above. I don’t even pretend to understand the tax code, but I’m interested to see how all these cuts and loopholes play out.

PROMISE: Obama will reform the corporate tax code to bring down tax rates

Bringing down tax rates is always a good thing for businesses.

PROMISE: The President will cut tax rates on domestic manufacturers by nearly 25%

PROMISE: End tax deductions for companies shipping jobs overseas and use the savings to create a new tax credit for companies that bring jobs home

PROMISE: Take on China’s unfair trade practices through a new trade enforcement unit that will level the playing field

This I can’t wait to see.

PROMISE: Create a new network of 15 to 20 manufacturing innovation institutes to bring together business and research universities to ensure that the next generation of products are invented and manufactured here

This sounds like a bunch of bureaucratic time wasting to me. America has never been short on innovative products… Apple? Google? Microsoft? IBM? Oracle? Shall I go on?

PROMISE: Will cut taxes for small businesses that hire new workers or increase wages

Good, this will help our company.

PROMISE: Will extend 100% of expensing, letting businesses immediately write off the costs of new plants and equipment

PROMISE: Will extend the middle-class income tax cuts

So just to be clear, middle-class according to the President’s definition is any family making less than $200,000 per year, right?

PROMISE: Will ensure millionaires are not paying lower tax rates than many middle-class families


PROMISE: The President will expand the health reform tax credit to cover 50% of small businesses’ health care costs in 2014 and provide access to group rates, so small businesses won’t continue to pay up to 18% more than large firms for health insurance

Getting private health insurance as an employee working for a small business is expensive, and rates are not competitive for small businesses looking to do this on behalf of their employees. This sounds nice on paper. What strings are attached? How much will it cost?


PROMISE: The economy will create 12 million new jobs in the next four years and Obama vows to exceed this

This is an interesting statement. He has set the bar high here, implying that the economy as it stands today, barring anything crazy like a war or a default on the national debt, will naturally create for itself 12 million new jobs over the course of the next four years. The President says he wants to exceed this, but a finite number is not given by how much, aside from the additional promises listed below.

PROMISE: To create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by 2016

So that means 13 million new jobs in the next four years. Regarding manufacturing, I believe he’s implying that these jobs will be “created” as the result of new policies.

PROMISE: To create 600,000 new jobs in the natural gas sector

This brings us to 13.6 million jobs. Again, I believe we’re looking at policy changes here, specifically to expand domestic energy production.

PROMISE: Will recruit 100,000 math and science teachers

This reads like spending to me. Will the President fund the salaries of these teachers? 100,000 math and science teachers hired means 2,000 new teachers hired in each state. On average there are 62.8 counties in each state, so each county in the United States should (on average) see an increase of 31 new math and science teachers in the next four years.

Final total, the President will be responsible for the creation of 13,700,000 new jobs over the next four years; according to his plan he is directly tasked with creating 1.7 million new jobs as the economy is on track to create 12 million on its current course.


PROMISE: The President will train 2 million workers for jobs at community colleges

I don’t really understand this one and why it is the government’s responsibility to do job training.

PROMISE: Obama vows to cut college tuition growth in half

Yeah right.


PROMISE: The President plans to cut our net oil imports in half by 2020

Here’s the real question. Will the price per gallon of gas go down as well? He claims he’s already cut imports to a 20 year low, but prices have steadily risen since he took office. We need to cut our reliance on foreign oil, but a natural result of that should be cheaper gasoline. Right? Right??

PROMISE: To open up millions of acres for energy exploration and development, including undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic

This would be a change of course if he does so. He’s been nothing but clamped down on the potential for additional oil drilling in the Gulf and Arctic so far.

PROMISE: Will invest in domestic energy sources including wind, solar, clean coal, nuclear, and biofuels

PROMISE: Will double fuel economy of cars and light trucks to 54.5 mpg by 2025

PROMISE: Will position America to be the world’s leading manufacturer in high-tech batteries

PROMISE: Will extend tax credits that support clean energy manufacturing

PROMISE: Will ensure that 80% of the nation’s electricity comes from clean sources by 2035

Too bad he’ll be conveniently out of office by then… by 19 YEARS!!


PROMISE: Will oppose efforts to gamble Social Security on the stock market

I read this as a veiled statement that he will take no part in privatizing Social Security. There are definite merits to privatizing aspects of Social Security, especially for young folks like myself, but that’s a different fight for a different day. I’ll probably be too old to make that fight for my benefit by the time we get to that day.

PROMISE: Will fight for balanced deficit reduction, and extend the life of Medicare and Social Security without ending guaranteed benefits or slashing benefits

PROMISE: Stop proposals to turn Medicare into a voucher system

I think this was just thrown in there for good measure as an anti-Romney tag.

PROMISE: Save 60,000 lives and $10 billion for Medicare’s future by partnering with hospitals to reduce inpatient infections and needless re-admissions

I’m interested to see how we will measure 60,000 lives being saved, since the only way to know whether or not said life had been not-saved is if said life does in fact become dead. Perhaps we will traverse the country searching for old people until we find 60,000 of them that just wish they were dead. In regards to the second part of that promise, saving $10 billion, are we meaning we’re padding the Medicare savings account with an additional $10 billion?

So there we go. Anyone actually read this? I’ve always wanted to document campaign promises and go back and see how they stack up. I intend to do so. Truthfully, I hope Mr. Obama is able to accomplish a good handful of this stuff. There is much of it that would be a good step forward. There are also things I don’t fully agree with, but that is what it is. Admittedly, there is much of it that I am far to uneducated to even understand fully.

Whatever the case, I wish the President the best in his efforts to turn the ship around and right our economy. He has a tremendous job on his hands.

an argument for conservatism

Tomorrow we head for the polls to decide who will lead the country for the next four years. I don’t know about you, but I’m about done with listening to the same stump speeches over and over. But I’m also one who believes this is a very important election at an incredibly important time in our country’s history, so I’m looking forward to this chance to vote.

I don’t comment often on politics, and this is probably a too-late-to-make-a-difference post. Most assuredly, 49.5% of you will agree with this, and 49.5% will disagree. I’m writing for the 1% that may find this helpful.

I believe the country must vote for Romney tomorrow. The United States has a lot at stake over the next four years, and President Obama has not demonstrated a track record that gives me confidence to allow him another four years. Here’s why:


Foreign Policy

You’ve heard Obama’s rally cry at his events: “We ended the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is ending, Al Qaeda is on the run, and Osama Bin Laden is dead.” I’ve heard it so often that it’s stuck in my head, which I guess makes it a good slogan. But you can tell that even Obama is getting tired of saying it – he delivers it with all the passion of a beached manatee.

The first two statements are true – the war in Iraq is over, and Afghanistan is ending – but why would you ever tell your enemies when you’re going to pull out of a fight? Why would you give them a specific end-date for occupation? Wouldn’t they just wait until the last troop carrier is packed up and headed home and then move back in to occupy. It sounds like careless messaging at a time of war that is geared more towards at-home politics (pleasing the ears of those who want the wars to be over), rather than a strategy for decisive military victory. Don’t get me wrong, I want the wars to be over as well, but it’s reckless to strategize publicly like this, and our allies abroad agree.

Osama Bin Laden is dead, and naturally because Obama was Commander In Chief at the time he was taken out, he gets the extra-credit points for being responsible for the deed. But the man was on the CIA and FBI’s most wanted list for over 10 years – no doubt that whoever was President at the time he was found would have given the order to take him out. A victory for sure, but a victory of convenience for Obama.

Al Qaeda of 2012 is not the Al Qaeda of 2001, but that doesn’t mean they are no longer a threat, and to say they “are on the run” implies that they are retreating and a non-issue. Recent terrorist activities against U.S. interests abroad are evidence of this, most notably the organized and strategic attack against our consulate in Benghazi, Libya on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. This whole situation is a train wreck, and why it’s not getting more press coverage is beyond me. Validated cables and emails have now come to the surface that were sent from within the consulate a month before the attack was carried out. These messages were sent directly to the President’s administration, noting a strengthening in Al Qaeda forces outside the consulate, predicting a premeditated attack on the office, and pleading for additional security resources. It seems that these requests were ignored.

In the hours and days after the attack was carried out, there appears to have been a concerted campaign of non-response and misinformation by the President and his administration. The result was four American’s killed including a U.S. Ambassador. This deserves a full investigation, the media should be hitting the administration hard on this issue, and the American public should care more about this glaring error in foreign policy as they get ready to elect the next President. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. We’re promised a full investigation, after the election; how convenient. Democrat strategists have insisted that the country has bigger things to worry about – namely re-electing President Obama – and that the Libya affair should be dealt with later. Again, how convenient. This incident reflects directly on the President’s foreign policy abilities, and Americans should be weighing their Presidential vote based on this information. The Libya scandal is a huge mess, I think bigger than we even realize. Personal opinion here: if the President is re-elected, I think the House is going to move for impeachment once this investigation gets underway. After all, Nixon was impeached as a result of his lying and cover up, and no one died as a result of his actions.


The Economy

Most everyone agrees that the biggest issue facing the nation right now is the economy, and I agree. We’re in a bad place economically, and our debt really concerns me. $16 trillion. We can’t even register that number emotionally – it’s too big. That’s $16,000,000,000,000.

We live in a nation of debt, propelled by ongoing advertisements for credit cards, car loans, and mortgages that people can’t afford. We’ve become way too comfortable with having debt, and our lifestyle reflects our presupposition that debt is necessary. As a result, we don’t even blink when we see a number with 12 zeroes behind it.

We have to get the national debt under control because countries like China, who hold the vast majority of our debt, have too much leverage over us. At the very least, our economic future as a country is uncertain, and at the worst we are headed towards an economic collapse like the ones currently being experienced in several European countries if we don’t get this under control.

That’s the big issue – we have to reign in our national spending. The government can’t just keep writing checks for everything it wants to spend money on, regardless of how noble the cause may seem (bank bailout, automaker bailout, a healthcare law). People don’t realize that when the government spends money, there are only two ways to pay for it: either the government must raise taxes, or it must take out more national debt. And if it takes out more debt, the only way to pay for that debt is through higher taxes. This is the problem I have with Obama’s economic policies – he believes that we can continue to spend our way out of a recession, and it’s just not a long-term winning strategy. Even if the automakers are back in service, and even if the poor have health insurance coverage, the cost has put us $6 trillion more in debt than when he took office. Writing more government checks is a short-sighted solution; it makes people feel good because they see immediate results, but the long term effect is catastrophic on a national level.

Romney has gotten flak throughout the later months of this campaign for not having enough details on how to fix the economy. But he’s offered a pretty straight forward, more detailed plan than his competitor:

  • Energy independence
  • Improve public education
  • Get more aggressive with international trade, and stop bowing to China’s every whim
  • Reduce the federal budget
  • And keep taxes down on businesses

It’s hard to sum up an Obama plan. I haven’t heard things as nicely bullet pointed as Romney’s plan, but the main gist I get is lower taxes on lower income families and higher taxes on the rich. The truth is that I just don’t have a lot of confidence in an Obama economic plan. He doesn’t address the national debt head on, and his main talking points seem to focus on how many ways he can penalize those who are successful. His focus is not as much national economic strategy as it is the pursuit of socioeconomic parity.

Obama implies that his economic plan to increase jobs for the next four years is pretty much the same as his plan for the last four years. But his plan over the last four years has not led to a net increase in jobs for Americans. The unemployment rate when Obama took office was 7.8% and has hovered just below 10% for most of his term. Now we’re back down to 7.9%, but what does this really mean? It means that when Obama says he created 4.5 million jobs during his first term, that is the amount of people that found work after the economy bottomed out in January of 2010. They are 4.5 million people that found jobs after they lost them during Obama’s term. A truer number is 300,000 net job growth, over four years, which is a pitifully poor number.


Social Issues

Social issues are a tough subject because they come up in every Presidential campaign. The topics of abortion and homosexual marriage are in the back of the minds of nearly every voter, whether your opinion on them is traditionally liberal or traditionally conservative. The President and Governor Romney have both indicated that decisions on these topics should be left to individual states, and they are absolutely right. The federal government should not have the authority to control decisions on these issues because it gives too much power to the centralized government.

But the truth of the matter is Presidential politics speaks to these issues, even as a sidebar, and the mindset of the President on these topics influences policy even down to a local level. And so you have to consider these topics and the potential effect a person in an executive leadership position may have on your local laws.

On account of abortion, I can speak as a father, having been in the ultrasound room to watch the monitor as the technician pulled up the first visible pictures of our son Eli at 8 weeks old. What I saw on the screen was the beginning of life. The image was in the shape of a baby – a tiny little blinking bean of a baby. An abortion takes life away, clean and simple. The argument for a woman’s right to choose is an argument for the taking of life – it’s an argument for murder, and it doesn’t hold water. In no other context under the law is the taking of a life by an individual in society allowable; how can it be that the taking of a life, if it’s within the mother’s womb allowed? It just doesn’t make rational sense.

But the bottom line is that I can’t align myself with a candidate that disagrees with my moral stance on these important social issues. Because while the President shouldn’t be exerting executive power over such issues, his rhetoric broadly influences state and local politics down the road as the party falls in line with the status quo.

Oh but wait, Obama did use his executive power to influence federal power on issues such as this when he signed ObamaCare into law, effectively providing abortions with a federal subsidy. So perhaps states rights are not that important to him after all.



I’m a social conservative and a fiscal libertarian. I believe in the freedom of the individual and the freedom of the economic market. I believe in the transparency of government and the strength of the United States as an international power to influence the world towards democracy and individual liberty. President Obama hasn’t earned my vote with his record over the last four years, and rather than give him the benefit of the doubt by granting an additional term to right the road, I’m going to stick with his initial campaign proposition that if he wasn’t able to turn the ship around in the first four years, he would be a one term President.

I’m sure 49.5% of you disagree, and you’re welcome to share your thoughts and opinions as to why.


state of the union

“The worst deficit comes from a recession, and if we can take the proper action in the proper time, this can be the most important step we could take to prevent another recession…

Such a bill will be presented to the Congress for action next year. It will include an across the board, top to bottom cut in both corporate and personal income taxes. It will include long-needed tax reform that logic and equity demand. And it will date that cut in taxes to take effect as of the start of next year.

The billions of dollars this bill will place in the hands of the consumer and our businessmen will have both immediate and permanent benefits to our economy. Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job and a new salary. And these new jobs and new salaries can create other jobs and other salaries and more customers and more growth for an expanding American economy.

By removing tax roadblocks to new jobs and new growth, the enactment of this measure next year will eventually more than make up in new revenue all that it will initially cost. By lightening tax burdens as the Common Market countries have done so successfully- and they have full employment and an economic growth rate twice ours – it will improve the competitive position of American business, encourage investment at home instead of abroad, and improve our balance of payments and will help make us all – individuals and as a nation – help us make the most of our economic resources.”

President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat
August 13, 1962

full text

readings update

I’m not much for book reviews, but I did commit to reading 24 books this year, so here’s a little update on what I’ve been partaking of. I know this is a long post, but if you find something in here that interests you, or baffles you, or infuriates you, leave a comment and we can discuss:

The Shack by William P. Young
As a rule I try to avoid these Christian pop-culture type books (yet somehow I always end up reading them anyways). This book has caused such stir and I decided I needed to give it a look so I could make some decisions for myself. There are two types of reviews for The Shack: I would say that most people who read it claim it is the most insightful, life-changing, incredible most wonderful book ever that grants them a completely new picture of who God is. Then there are those who denounce the book as complete heresy.

I’ll say this – it’s a well written and intriguing story that forces you to ask questions about the relationship between God and mankind, and the relationship of God within the Trinity. It poses thought provoking illustrations of God, but it would be a stretch to say it outlines scriptural truths. The primary gripe people have with The Shack is that God the Father is portrayed as a heavy-set, gregarious, black woman.

At first my thought was, well, who I am to say what God does or does not look like? He’s God and He could just as easily present himself as a white-haired, elderly gentleman or as a gregarious, black woman, right? Well, the issue isn’t whether He could or could not. The issue is that we are ascribing images to God the Father that we do not have the right to ascribe. I didn’t fully understand the ramifications of this prior to reading J.I. Packer’s book Knowing God where he demonstrates the danger, and commandment against, creating images of God whether they be physical, pictorial, or textual.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth”. – Exodus 20:4

The danger is that when we make representative images of a God who in all literal terms defies comprehension and is beyond our realm of reality and vision, we end up containing God, and limiting his omnipotence. The very act of ascribing a representation to God places us in danger of making the created image the focus of worship, and elevating the image above God Himself.

The WalMart Effect by Charles Fishman
This was a truly fascinating book about the largest, most powerful, and successful company in the history of the world. It was a very insightful look into the company from all different angles including suppliers, manufacturers, competitors, enthusiasts and dissenters, employees, ex-employees, shoppers, non-shoppers, and so on.

The book doesn’t take sides, but rather offers a careful analysis at both WalMart’s positive and negative effects on local communities, regions, the country, and even the world at large. It’s neither a pro-WalMart book nor an anti-Walmart book… but it forces you to think twice about how you shop, and where you shop. And above all it portrays WalMart as the very thing it strives to be… a retailer that provides “Always Low Prices”, regardless of the cost to vendors, economies, and even the customers.

This one is easier to sum up in some fascinating tidbits of information:

  • 97% of the population of the United States lives within 15 miles of a WalMart
  • Each week 100 million Americans shop at WalMart
  • From 1997 to 2004, the US added 670,000 new retail jobs. 480,000 of those — 70% — were at Wal-Mart.
  • When WalMart institutes changes that result in lower cost-of-goods, they pass the savings to both the vendors AND the customers, but not themselves.
  • WalMart won’t pay to speak with vendors: vendors are required to provide Wal-Mart with a tollfree number, or accept collect calls.
  • Of the largest 10 suppliers to Wal-Mart in 1994, five subsequently went bankrupt or failed.
  • WalMart isn’t just Proctor and Gamble’s largest customer — they’re as big as P&G’s next nine customers combined.
  • Consistently, as companies increase the share of their business with WalMart, their operating margins decline accordingly.
  • Does WalMart create or take away jobs? Both. A new Wal-Mart may hire 300 people, but on average, 250 people at nearby businesses will lose their jobs, and about four local businesses will close.
  • A study of Iowan small towns showed that restaurants near WalMarts had 3% increases in business, because of increased traffic, but nearby towns without WalMarts lost 47% of their retail sales, as customers drove out of town to shop at WalMart.

The book goes on, and on, describing in incredible detail how all of WalMart’s behavior – their good behavior, and even their seemingly evil behavior – can be explained by the fact that the company is simply pursuing it’s vision of “Always Low Prices”. And that one consuming idea has shaped with profound effect an entire nation of consumers and their economy.

The War Within by Bob Woodward
This one was a tough read for me, not that the content wasn’t interesting, but that it was just a dry read (well, listen). It’s about the enduring conflict that is the war in Iraq and the war of ideology, strategy, and policy within the Bush administration that has amplified the painful effects of the conflict. It’s not a book about why we went to war, but about the fact that we are at war and we need a new strategy to get out of it.

The war has been so convoluted and confusing that it’s hard for me to draw hard line conclusions about it, especially before, but even after reading this book. Some basic thoughts that have solidified in my mind though:

  • President Bush throughout this entire war truly believed in the mission he was pursuing, knowing his decisions weren’t popular, but in their difficulty were the right thing to do.
  • This absolute confidence regarding the war were both President Bush’s strength, and his downfall.
  • In spite of his resolute stance towards the war, the “mission” was never clearly defined, the goals were never discussed at length within the administration, and success was never outlined for the public.
  • This lack of clarity around a reason and mission for the war is what has made it so difficult for me to support the last few years.
  • Everyone has made personal judgments about the war over the past several years, and we’re entitled to those judgments because we live in America; but I know I want to be cautious about condemning too much because there is so much that we don’t know because there is so much classified information that won’t be made public fo years to come.
  • And so whether it was “right” or “wrong” to go to war, I’m unwilling to say because I simply don’t know, and don’t ever expect to know.
  • Regardless of whether it was right or wrong, Woodward gives credit to Bush for seeking out new strategy when it was apparent that the war was stalling out in 2006/07, and this “surge” strategy was at least partially responsible for the decreased levels of violence in Iraq throughout 2008.

One last thought about all this: We think short term about the war because, obviously, we want it to be over and we want our troops to come home. And truly, I do hope the levels of violence in Iraq do quickly lessen, but we’re fooling ourselves if we think America is going to provide a quick fix and suddenly withdraw and everybody gets to come home. The situation in the Middle East is a long term problem and now that we’re there, we’ll likely be there for the next 50 years. The radical terrorism that breeds in the Middle East is not unlike the radical communism that bred in Eastern Europe 50 years ago, and if throughout this whole process in Iraq the United States can start to influence the region with democracy and begin to root out radical terrorism, then that is a positive outcome of this whole thing.

my thoughts on last night’s election

November 5, 2008 is the first day in the history of the world that an African American has ever been elected President of the United States Of America. That in and of itself is a reason to celebrate as a country. That is no small feat in the course of human events.

I am a social conservative and an economic libertarian. I think Barack Obama’s political policies and agendas are foolish and wrong for the country. I did not vote for him.

But I can still appreciate – and celebrate – the fact that the country has made this great leap forward as a democracy, and I am proud of us for that fact.

All that being said, America made an unwise decision last night in regards to political policy. But I’m not really surprised by that decision though. We’ve grown weary and disillusioned with the war in Iraq. The economy is in the bucket and we’re fearful for our future (not to mention whether or not we’ll have jobs next week). I was pretty mad myself for having to pay flippin’ $4.45 / gallon in gas not just a few weeks ago.

‘Change’ is a pretty simple and compelling platform in times like these.

The next 4 years are going to be rough and painful for us social conservative economic libertarians. At the same time, this ‘loss’ – presidentially speaking – is exactly what we needed.

Going into the election, I was never a huge fan of McCain. I mean, who was? How could the Republican party possibly expect to show up for the big homecoming dance with a candidate like McCain and think they could get a date. It was wrong – all wrong; he exuded too much of the ‘rich old white guy’ political party that everyone had come to hate over the last decade.

In a political atmosphere where Obama was the new, slick rock-star, the Republicans tried to compete by trying to come off more Democrat. It didn’t work.

You can’t out-Democrat the Democrats. The Democratic stronghold would never support a pseudo-liberal like McCain, and in going through the charade, the Republican party deserted their loyal base.

We could go on about everything the Republican’s did wrong the past two years. But it’s pointless to do so. Frankly, for the long-term health of the party, and the eventual turnaround of the country, I’m glad we’re in this spot. The Republican party has 4 solid years to rebuild – maybe 8, who knows – and they must rebuild.

The Republican party needs a redesign more than a Zune in an Apple store.

But it can’t be a simple facelift – some marketing ploy to make the “Republican party cool for the 21st Century”. That’s too short sighted. This needs to be an honest to goodness reorganization. A restructure that restores the faith of the American people in a party that is pursuing what’s best for the country and it’s people.

The Republican party needs to inspire and motivate us again.

Personally, the root ideals of the Republican party – which currently lie buried beneath layers of personal agenda and political mumbo-jumbo – are invigorating to me. The idea that I can shape my own destiny. The idea that my liberty is not dependent on the government. The idea that democracy is worth protecting, and spreading. The idea that freedom is a gift which enables us to be productive, generous, and gracious, and demands that we be humble.

This year, Barack Obama bought the vote of the American people through fiscal promises and uber-slick marketing tactics.

In four years, I hope to see a Republican party that compels the vote of the Amerian people through an inspired vision that motivates us to strive once again for the historic ideals of our country. Not a bleak socialistic future rooted in government reliance and self-defeat; a liberating future where once again WE are the American people.

If they play their cards right, the election of Barack Obama may very well be the very best thing that ever happened to the Republican party.