I won't write anything here other than to link to two good articles about how Pres. Bush never lied to the American people and the world about what was going on in Iraq; he did not deceive us into going to war. Anyone who paid attention to what was going on in the world at the time knows this but many people conveniently forget what we actually knew back when the U.S. invaded Iraq. The whole world thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; the best intelligence from around the world said that.
That being said, if I was President and knew what Pres. Bush and other country leaders knew, I highly doubt I would have invaded Iraq. I can't say definitively that I wouldn't have because that would be naive, but I'm not a fighter; I abhor conflict and generally avoid it when possible. I think there is little in life worse than war, even if war is sometimes necessary and morally justified. I'm also not one who believes in preemptive strikes as a rule. I'm not and never will be, thankfully, the President of the United States (I would turn down the job even if it was handed to me) so I don't have have such weighty things as wars hanging on my conscience.
Story 1 [from the LA Times in June 2008].
Story 2 [from the Wall Street Journal in 2005].
Sen. John McCain, in a move that shows integrity, announced that he would suspend his campaign until a deal was reached concerning the proposed bailout of Wall Street. Some Democrats, typically, are criticizing him for this move saying that it is much more important that a debate between McCain and Obama take place. That's more important than a senator doing his job?! Obama's response was: "It is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once. It's more important than ever to present ourselves to the American people." In other words, "Look, I can deal with lots of things at once like a President has to." The problem is that he isn't dealing with a lot of things at once - he's campaigning but not doing his job as Senator. Of course, Obama historically has mainly just worked with his party on issues so maybe he really isn't needed in Washington for a bipartisan effort. McCain has worked with those not of his party a number of times over the years and is known for "crossing the aisle" if needed. I applaud McCain's move - it shows that he is committed to his job, even if it costs him the Presidency (of course, he might have done some informal polling to see how this act would be viewed but that still doesn't mean he isn't doing the right thing for the right reason).
On July 17, 2007 Obama, speaking at a Planned Parenthood conference, revealed his views on how he would select Supreme Court Justices: "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges." (Source). [Update - Here are more of Obama's comments]. While empathy is a wonderful quality - one of the greatest qualities a person can have - that's his criterion for selecting a judge? What ever happened to selecting people who will judge according to the law?
Alan Paton, a great South African writer, wrote of the responsibilities of judges: "Because the land is a land of fear [I'd say this applies to the U.S.], a Judge must be without fear, so that justice may done according to the Law; therefore a Judge must be incorruptible. The Judge does not make the Law. It is the People that make the Law. Therefore if a Law is unjust, and if the Judge judges according to the Law, that is justice, even if it is not just. It is the duty of a Judge to do justice, but it is only the People that can be just. Therefore if justice be not just, that is not to be laid at the door of the Judge, but at the door of the People."
Judges need to judge according to the law, citizens make the laws (or at least elect those who do). They need to be honest and incorruptible people. Again, while empathy is a desired quality, judges need to judge according to the law and Constitution and those qualities should take precedence over empathy. Besides, Obama said he just wants judges who have empathy for "young teenage mom[s]...[the] poor, African-American, gay, disabled, or old people." What about Hispanics, non-poor, Caucasians, non-disabled, average, unintelligent, intelligent, religious, non-religious, or any other group of people? I think Obama's criterion for selecting judges is severely lacking.
I've written a number of posts focusing mainly on Republicans and conservative ideals and haven't written much recently about Democrats or liberal ideals. While I've never downplayed my conservative beliefs, when I started this blog (back when it was hosted by Blogger) it was intended to be a fairly balanced look at U.S. politics. I've drifted away from that some because I felt the need to share my conservative voice with others, even if few read my blog. I'm an open critic of the Bush administration's fiscal policies. I know Pres. Bush inherited an economy in a recession that was quickly struck by the horror of 9-11. The economy faltered but then grew stronger; it was strong for a few years and recently turned downwards. I do not believe we are in a recession and I agree with John McCain that the fundamentals of the economy (e.g., businesses, innovation, hard work, etc.) are still strong.
We are passing through some hard times (I'm not trying to minimize any individual suffering but we are in a nation with hundreds of millions of people) but so far it has not been anything serious. Gas prices are high but I believe that high gas prices are a blessing - they lead to the development of alternative potentially cheaper and more environmentally-friendly technologies. The stock market has been volatile but stock markets always are. My mutual fund hasn't been performing well over the past year but this particular fund is a long-term investment (it did quite well the previous year) and stock markets always go up over time given enough time.
I don't believe that U.S. presidents have that much influence on the economy - they certainly have some but in reality it's pretty limited. Congress probably has a little more influence on the economy but still pretty limited. However, I'm still pretty disgusted by all the deficit spending our nation is doing (again, you can't put all the blame on Pres. Bush; after all, Congress has to actually set all the spending, the President just approves it; further, there are fewer tax revenues when the economy isn't as strong, which also affects the deficit). What happened to good old fiscal conservatism? Where are the politicians who believe we shouldn't spend more than we earn, except in emergencies? Many states run just fine and have budget surpluses. Granted, states receive a lot of money from the federal government but the problem is out-of-control spending in general. We are a consumerist society. We have to have the latest and greatest now! Our government seems to think that we have to try and fund as much as we can, after all, each of us is entitled to handouts from the government.
The recent economic woes have little to do with the government; they stem largely from from our entitlement society. People expect a lot from the government (we should all expect a lot of the government, just not from); many expect too much. We also feel entitled to our individual rights over individual and social responsibility. This leads to excessive consumption by society as a whole, which is also reflected in governmental spending. If we can't control our spending, how can we expect our government to control its spending? I'm not completely opposed to "big government"; our world is very complex today, much more complex than when the country was founded. The government has to be more involved than it was in the past. However, if our spending is higher than our income, we must curtail our spending. I'm aware that many economists feel that keeping a deficit is necessary for healthy economic growth and that balanced budgets hold us back from growth potential; however, we've been increasing our federal deficit and national debt for so long that we have to get it under control. I'm not an advocate of raising taxes, especially when the government wastes so much money. You never solve a problem like our government has by throwing more money at it. This means that the only way to eliminate our deficit and national debt is to seriously reduce our spending. It's painful - no one likes having their money taken away. It's not an easy job because people would complain and lobby against the spending cuts. Most people who want the government to reduce spending don't want the government to take away their money.
The easiest way to start is to eliminate redundancies and close loopholes. Simplifying and streamlining the tax codes and process would immediately produce sizable benefits. We should eliminate many of the farm subsidies, for example. Right now the government is like a massive, largely mismanaged company. Departments need to be modernized and streamlined. Consultants need to be pulled in to help with the process. The government needs to be treated more like a corporation (I'm not saying it should be a corporation, it just needs to be managed more like one). We need to elect officials who have the guts to tackle the economic problems of the government.
I read this today and thought it fitting during this election season as we decide for whom we will vote.
"No government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life. All governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign. Religion is instituted of God; and...men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but...human law [does not have] a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion;...the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul." - Joseph Smith
A great site to visit after viewing any political ads or debates is FactCheck.org. They provide corrections for various "facts" made by the media, by campaigns, or individuals. Sometimes candidates say things that are wrong or misleading - not on purpose but it happens. Emails circulate widely and people become misinformed. FactCheck is not always correct but they are quick to rectify any errors they made. Here are some corrections they've made to circulating rumors about Gov. Palin (copied straight from their site):
- Palin did not cut funding for special needs education in Alaska by 62 percent. She didn’t cut it at all. In fact, she tripled per-pupil funding over just three years.
- She did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library. Some of the books on a widely circulated list were not even in print at the time. The librarian has said Palin asked a "What if?" question, but the librarian continued in her job through most of Palin's first term.
- She was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that wants Alaskans to vote on whether they wish to secede from the United States. She’s been registered as a Republican since May 1982.
- Palin never endorsed or supported Pat Buchanan for president. She once wore a Buchanan button as a "courtesy" when he visited Wasilla, but shortly afterward she was appointed to co-chair of the campaign of Steve Forbes in the state.
- Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska's schools. She has said that students should be allowed to "debate both sides" of the evolution question, but she also said creationism "doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."
Continuing on with my previous Gen. MacArthur post, I am posting some of MacArthur's famous last speech to Congress. It is very relevant today, especially since we are a nation at war. It is a war that transcends partisanship, regardless of your feelings about whether or not the wars we fight were justified.
I stand on this rostrum with a sense of deep humility and great pride -- humility in the wake of those great American architects of our history who have stood here before me; pride in the reflection that this forum of legislative debate represents human liberty in the purest form yet devised. Here are centered the hopes and aspirations and faith of the entire human race. I do not stand here as advocate for any partisan cause, for the issues are fundamental and reach quite beyond the realm of partisan consideration. They must be resolved on the highest plane of national interest if our course is to prove sound and our future protected. I trust, therefore, that you will do me the justice of receiving that which I have to say as solely expressing the considered viewpoint of a fellow American....
Efforts have been made to distort my position. It has been said, in effect, that I was a warmonger. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes. Indeed, on the second day of September, nineteen hundred and forty-five, just following the surrender of the Japanese nation on the Battleship Missouri, I formally cautioned as follows:
Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have been attempted to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start workable methods were found in so far as individual citizens were concerned, but the mechanics of an instrumentality of larger international scope have never been successful. Military alliances, balances of power, Leagues of Nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past 2000 years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.
But once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end.
War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.
In war there is no substitute for victory.
Gen. MacArthur ended his speech with these immortal words:
I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that "old soldiers never die; they just fade away."
And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.
The full text of the speech as well as an audio recording of it are available here.
A couple of my favorite speeches were given by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a great American war hero. I'm sure he had his faults but he was a master of rhetoric and showed great character. I love his speech Duty, Honor, Country given at West Point on May 12, 1962. This speech was not political but it is very fitting for our world today. We as a people lack much of what MacArthur spoke about.
But these [duty, honor, country] are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman....
You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds. The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.
This does not mean that you are war mongers.
On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."
The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished, tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears, and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ears, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.
But in the evening of my memory, always I come back to West Point.
Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country.
The full text of the speech as well as an audio recording are available here.
I missed watching McCain's speech last night but read it today. It was powerful, direct, and uplifting. While he doesn't have the eloquence of Obama, McCain still delivered an excellent speech. Here's the text of the speech:
Thank you all very much. Tonight, I have a privilege given few Americans -- the privilege of accepting our party’s nomination for President of the United States. And I accept it with gratitude, humility and confidence.
In my life, no success has come without a good fight, and this nomination wasn’t any different. That’s a tribute to the candidates who opposed me and their supporters. They’re leaders of great ability, who love our country, and wished to lead it to better days. Their support is an honor I won’t forget.
I’m grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history, and keeping us safe from another attack many thought was inevitable; and to the First Lady, Laura Bush, a model of grace and kindness in public and in private. And I’m grateful to the 41st President and his bride of 63 years, and for their outstanding example of honorable service to our country.
As always, I’m indebted to my wife, Cindy, and my seven children. The pleasures of family life can seem like a brief holiday from the crowded calendar of our nation’s business. But I have treasured them all the more, and can’t imagine a life without the happiness you give me. Cindy said a lot of nice things about me tonight. But, in truth, she’s more my inspiration than I am hers. Her concern for those less blessed than we are - victims of land mines, children born in poverty and with birth defects - shows the measure of her humanity. I know she will make a great First Lady.
When I was growing up, my father was often at sea, and the job of raising my brother, sister and me would fall to my mother alone. Roberta McCain gave us her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength, and her belief we are all meant to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country. I wouldn’t be here tonight but for the strength of her character.
The RNC Convention has been going on the past few days. Yesterday Mitt Romney delivered this speech.
"For decades, the Washington sun has been rising in the east - Washington has been looking to the eastern elites, to the editorial pages of the Times and the Post, and to the broadcasters from the coast. If America really wants change, it's time to look for the sun in the west, cause it's about to rise and shine from Arizona and Alaska!
Last week, the Democrats talked about change. But let me ask you -- what do you think Washington is right now, liberal or conservative? Is a Supreme Court liberal or conservative that awards Guantanamo terrorists with constitution rights? It's liberal! Is a government liberal or conservative that puts the interests of the teachers union ahead of the needs of our children? -- It's liberal!
Is a Congress liberal or conservative that stops nuclear power plants and off-shore drilling, making us more and more dependent on Middle East tyrants? -- It's liberal! Is government spending - excluding inflation - liberal or conservative if it doubles since 1980? -- It's liberal!