Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My 2008 Final Thoughts on Bailouts and Stimulus Packages

You all know I've opposed the bailout syndrome that seems to be infecting this country lately. You know I've been critical of Congress, the UAW, AIG, and all those other money-grubbing loser companies that just refuse to go into bankruptcy because God forbid they of all companies go out of business. Well, I found this video and maybe you've already seen it, but even if you have, take the time and watch it again. This is Fred Thompson, it's 8 minutes and he sums up the insanity of the whole bailout/stimulus mess better than I ever could hope. Time to get motivated and contact your representatives in the coming months.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Conservatism Isn't Evil (Part Two)

Yesterday I posted the first part of this, which contained a number of more in-depth elements of conservatism. Today I will discuss more commonly discussed aspects of conservatism and I challenge those who disagree to tell me why these elements are wrong or evil.

1) Government should be smaller and occur at the state and local level

Conservatives believe that government should not be a bloated, monstrous entity within the country. Government needs to be as small and efficient as humanly possible. The more it grows, the more bureaucracy emerges and with increased bureaucracy comes problems. Offices jockeying for power and contracts. Special interests become dominant in a bloated federal government. Any change or revitalization effort becomes mired among the different agencies and offices. Programs compete for funding from a fixed budget and then the question becomes who gets what amount? Also, one has to ask where the funding will come from and that leads to higher taxes to generate revenue. The federal government typically has difficulty in making many things work and the bigger it is, the less efficient it will become. Conservatives oppose this. Conservatives want a smaller and better run government. Fewer agencies, smaller budget, and less bureaucracy. Conservatives like to see government operate at the state and local level. The country was founded on the federalist system....conservatives would like to see it stay that way, not dominated by a large and powerful central government.

2) Too many taxes are bad

Of course some taxes are necessary for roads, bridges, etc. But what isn't necessary are excessive taxes. Higher rates and marriage penalties hurt people's wallets. People spending money drive the economy and when money is being taken for taxes, less is going to consumer spending. High taxes = low growth; low taxes = high growth. The math is simple. More income means bills are paid, people are buying goods, companies are earning money, hiring more people, etc. But when the a bloated and obese government needs more money for more agencies and programs, more taxes are necessary to pay for those. Do the math on this's pretty easy.

3) A strong national defense is critical

Conservatives believe that a strong national defense is necessary for a free and safe country. That doesn't mean going around looking for fights. That means ensuring that all of the military personnel are fully equipped and prepared for any emerging crisis that might affect the United States. In effect, a deterrent is created against threatening countries (i.e. North Korea, Russia, China). A strong deterrent prevents attacks and ensures that people can say what they like and do what they please in America. Spending on national defense is not a waste and conservatives see the value of a strong military.

4) Free market capitalism is the avenue to free society

Over-regulated markets do not create a free society or growth. The easiest way to check this is to do a bit of research on China. In the 1960s the Chinese economy was purely communist with unchecked government regulation and interference. The economy of China was also in the tank. Growth was unheard of at that point. Government economic programs were failing and people were struggling. But once the government leadership changed and Deng Xioaping instituted some free market principles, allowing farmers to sell excess goods for cash. This allowed people to save money and created the seeds for a middle class. Now, in 2008, China's middle class is a thriving sector of society, spending money and China's growth has been phenomenal. With a large and inefficient central government, regulation of the markets stifles potential growth and inhibits markets. Conservatives oppose over-regulation of the markets and believe that while some regulation is necessary, over-regulation is not the answer.

These are just a few more aspects of conservatism. They tend to focus on fiscal and economic elements. Tomorrow I will look at some of the social aspects that tend to be the more controversial.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Conservatism Isn't Evil (Part One)

If you listened to the mainstream media enough, you'd get the idea that conservatives were all corporate executives, burning money in the fireplace for fun and praying for a new war to break out somewhere in the world. The truth is, that image is false. The image described above is a boogeyman tale designed to frighten and turn away young and impressionable minds from conservative principles. Think about it...if you have been on any college campuses in the last decade you've seen the left-leaning students and professors demonizing conservatives as oil-greedy, money-hungry warmongers who have little to no compassion for others. With that in mind, I felt it might be an interesting exercise in self-reflection to discuss the basic tenets of conservatism and maybe dispel some of the myths out there regarding conservatives. This will be a multi-part series as there are a number of the things to discuss. Please leave comments or feedback as I think this is an area that deserves some discussion. From an article by Russell Kirk from 21 years ago, some of the conservative values include:

1) Morals are important for a functioning society

Without getting into the aspects of religion, let me clearly state that yes, Virginia, there is a 'good' and 'evil' in the world. Morals encompass a citizen's capacity for both within a society and when those morals are done away with, people are left to an unclear world of ambiguity and vagueness that is dangerous. Morals ensure that there is a good to oppose an evil and without a set of moral ideals, shades of gray threaten to force us all down a slippery slope where one can't tell the difference between good and evil. Thus, conservatives begin with a simple belief in morality and adhering to a set of general customs and norms in society.

2) Continuity is okay

Is America really so bad? Of course we've made mistakes and what country hasn't? But the fact of the matter is, America really is a good country at heart and when we need to change (i.e. slavery, women's rights) we do. The fact is, our Founding Fathers created the system of government we have to ensure that change would be slow and tedious because rapid change is dangerous (see: Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea for recent examples). That being the case, conservatives would prefer minimal, if any, changes to the country that exists today. Liberals would make the case that big changes are absolutely necessary but often fail to explain the realities of implementing those changes or the consequences. Conservatives believe in change but in constrained and controlled change that doesn't open the country up to radical elements that might prove to be negative in the long-run (again, see: Communism, Fascism, etc.).

3) Historical precedence is important

It is important to understand that when historical thinkers and philosophers espoused deep concepts and ideas, they often did it at a time when it was the norm to do so. Conservatives see these historical thinkers as critical starting points from which to begin debate or thought on heavy issues such as private property, liberty, etc. Citizens in America today are often hampered by lack of free time and daily life to the point where we look to our leaders for guidance. Conservatives look to people like Locke, Jefferson, and Adams for initial guidance by which to frame new ideas as their ideas are time-tested and sound. Should we abandon the theory and philosophy that established our great country because it's "old?" Of course not. But if you ask liberals you will see that many would prefer to abandon John Locke for Karl Marx or the basic tenets of capitalism for socialism. Just because it's historical doesn't make it irrelevant.

4) Prudence is essential

Conservatives have a cautious nature that is often misrepresented as obstinance. The truth is, prudence is a way to measure long-term consequences to actions and to act accordingly, as opposed to rapid-fire decision-making. Conservatives believe that actions need to be weighed before taking sudden action to ensure that there are no surprise side-effects of the action. Look at the recent economic bailouts for instance. Democrats swooped in and saved the day (with the help of some Republicans) for the various companies, but a conservative would have looked at the long-term consequences of handing out money to companies (i.e. more companies asking for more money). Rash decisions lead to disastrous consequences, and conservatives oppose rash decisions.

5) Human beings are imperfect

Conservatives see humanity as flawed and ultimately imperfectable. This is not a negative, glass-half empty view. This is a realistic perspective on human nature. With this in mind it is simple to see why conservatives do not accept the premise of a Utopian society; that a communist society will never work, although if you listen to some liberals, they would try to convince you that "if only it were applied by the right country, it might work." Human nature's history indicates otherwise (see: Cuba, China, North Korea). Liberals also complain that conservatives only support the wealthy. Well, nothing can be further from the truth. Conservatives accept the premise that there will be less fortunate people or groups in society and that no plan or concept will provide equal economic or social footing for everyone. Again, that isn't evil or's realistic, and working from that point of view, people can work to help the less fortunate in the best way possible...and no, that doesn't mean a government handout.

That's all for now. Next time I will touch on more substantive issues such as abortion and taxation. And please keep in mind, these values are not always practiced by Republicans, which is why conservatives sometimes criticize Republicans as well.

No Surprises in Gaza

Well, turning on the news this weekend offered me a glimpse of what was happening overseas in the Gaza Strip. I can't say I am surprised. If any American would do a little research on the subject they'd find out enough about Hamas to not only sympathize with Israel's current offensive, but support it. I remember clearly when the Palestinians elected Hamas as their representative government. I remember thinking that they would reap what they had sown sooner or later. We had all seen the news headlines prior to that election: Hamas' terror attacks, kidnappings, brutal violence against Israelis, etc. And even in spite of headway in working toward peace with the Israelis, the Palestinians still chose to back the terrorists. I recall sitting in a graduate seminar with a fellow student and he and I had a stark, yet polite disagreement on the election of Hamas to power. He stated that the world should give Hamas the benefit of the doubt and that they could be a force for good. I told him he was being naive and that a terrorist group who builds hospitals is still a terrorist group. We parted ways with that difference in opinion. I wonder how he feels today. When you willingly put a terrorist regime in power, you put your entire future on the line. I wonder if the Palestinians feel proud to have followed that path.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The UAW's Concession? A Giant Middle Finger to the People

It's a Christmas miracle! The White House gave the UAW....I mean Chrysler and GM....a $17 billion bailout with some loose conditions. One of the urgings from President Bush was that the UAW make deeper wage cuts to ease strain on the manufacturers. Well, just like any standard con artist, UAW President Ron Gettlefinger has changed the rules mid-way through the game. Instead of meeting with the auto companies to renegotiate wages and benefits as Bush had requested, Gettlefinger now says that the UAW will work with Obama after he takes office to renegotiate the bailout terms instead! He says he will work to remove the wage cut requirement. How fun. "Give us the money.......thanks, and now that we have it, screw the taxpayers." Gettlefinger and the UAW are working hard to ensure that Americans won't feel an ounce of sympathy for them when they finally do lose their jobs and the companies go under.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Obama's First Economic Failure

So maybe you've heard of Obama's plan to stimulate the economy once he takes office. That stimulus number has grown recently to a figure somewhere around $1 trillion. That's not a misprint....that's the word "trillion" back there. How will this package work? Why, infrastructure development of course! Build roads, sidewalks, and whatever else can be paved over. Sounds great right? Jobs created, people at work, economy stimulated. But guess what? Somewhere else in this world of ours, another country tried this same tactic just 20 years ago. That country was Japan. They adopted the same concept and upon completion went into a decade-long recession. Most Americans either don't know or don't care about this critical history lesson. Guess we'll all find out the hard way why this plan is doomed to fail right from the start.

Searchlight Harry's Already Buying Votes for 2010

You know how people hate the idea of pork bills with no real purpose? Well, Harry Reid's at it again, getting $1 billion for road development in Las Vegas. According to his magical ability to see the future, 47,000 jobs will be created for this road project. While not permanent jobs, they'll be around just long enough and timed perfectly to coincide with the 2010 election. And "POOF" look at all the good Reid did for Nevada, yada yada. If Nevadans can't see through this scheme to garner votes, then maybe we deserve this clown.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Senator Reid's Response to My Letter

So I got a little email today from my so-called representative in the US Senate, one Harry Reid. It was in response to an earlier email I had sent to him. Now, you read this and tell me if he really addressed my letter or whether he had some pitiful staffer send out a form letter instead.

Oh! And the bailout madness continues....cable companies are now begging for money which is exactly how critics predicted things would go. And also, got to love banks who have decided to not inform the public just where their taxpayer billions are going. If this country hasn't gone insane, maybe I have. Anyway, see the letter from Searchlight Harry below.

December 21, 2008
Mr. Jonathan Sherwood

Dear Mr. Sherwood:

Thank you for contacting me about the state of our national economy. I appreciate hearing from you.

The domestic auto industry employs directly or supports indirectly millions of jobs across the country, and its business activities generate hundreds of billions of dollars in financial instruments held around the globe. As you know, the recent economic downturn and crisis in our financial markets has destabilized the domestic auto industry. The credit crisis abruptly choked off financing for consumers and businesses and sapped consumer confidence, both of which led to dramatically lower sales figures for the domestic auto companies. This drop in sales created a dangerous shortage of cash, which these firms need to continue production and honor their financial commitments.

A failure of one company could potentially bring down the other automakers as well since the entire industry depends on the same network of suppliers. This event could lead to the loss of potentially millions of jobs, including hardworking Americans employed at manufacturing plants and independent dealerships. At a time when the unemployment rate is rising each month, this level of job loss would only exacerbate the strain on our economy.

That is why I urged Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to use the authority extended in the recently passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA, P.L. 110-343) to provide emergency funds to the auto companies while imposing strong conditions on such assistance in order to protect taxpayers and maximize the potential for the industry's recovery. Because the Administration previously said it was unwilling to utilize the Troubled Asset Relief Program created by EESA to extend relief to nonfinancial institutions, Congress was forced to act.

In response, the Senate recently considered the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act, which would provide bridge loans to the domestic auto companies to help them continue operations. This assistance would have been funded by money previously allocated in the Energy Independence and Security Act and included strong taxpayer protections, including limitations on executive compensation. I understand the view that mismanagement of the auto companies has brought them to this point, and that they should be restructured to ensure long-term viability. That is why this legislation would have required a Presidential Designee to oversee restructuring plans that ensure repayment of government loans, promote production of competitive fuel-efficient vehicles with advanced technology, and achieve long-term financial stability in the global market.

This legislation passed in the House on December 10, 2008 by a vote of 237-170 and was sent to the Senate for consideration. Unfortunately, given complex Senate rules and procedures and the role I play as Senate Majority Leader, I have heard from a number of Nevadans who were confused about my position on this critical legislation. On December 11, 2008, 52 Senators voted to move toward passage of this measure-leaving us short of the necessary three-fifths majority. I was deeply disappointed by this outcome, and I hoped that given the opportunity to reconsider the measure, the Senate would be able to come to an agreement. Accordingly, I changed my vote from "yes" to "no" when I saw we would fall short of the votes needed to pass the cloture motion. In doing so, I reserved my ability to call the bill up for consideration again.

I have noted the concerns that you and many others have expressed. I assure you that as I continue to work towards improving our nation's economy, I will keep your thoughts and best interests in mind. As Nevada's senior senator and the Senate Majority Leader, I am committed to doing all I can to strengthen our nation's economy and make Nevada an even better place to live.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. For more information about my work for Nevada, my role in the United States Senate Leadership, or to subscribe to regular e-mail updates on the issues that interest you, please visit my Web site at I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

My best wishes to you.

United States Senator


Friday, December 19, 2008

Bush's Nationalization Plan Continues

This morning President Bush gave the GM and Chrysler the money they were looking for. Regardless of how Americans felt about a bailout, or what the US Senate had made clear, President Bush unilaterally gave TARP funds to these two failing auto manufacturers. $17 billion, to be specific. And the oh-so strict requirements placed on the companies? Come back in three months with a solid plan in place for restructuring; oh, and if you get a chance UAW, consider ending the jobs bank program in place now. Awful. There are no strict requirements placed on these companies or the UAW and basically, the White House circumvented Congress and gave the companies what the US Senate said no to a week ago. This is very frustrating in itself, but add into the fact that part of the provisions in the funding is that the US government can be a stockholder in the companies, effectively nationalizing the domestic auto industry. Fun! Welcome to Socialism 101: first step, nationalize major industries (i.e. banks and auto manufacturers); second step, create a national welfare state by redistributing tax revenues across the board; step three, create an inflated government that touched more aspects of daily life. Now, many said Obama would usher in socialism. Of course people may be right in that aspect, who would have suspected that George Bush would be the first to initialize that process. This is just terrible, and somewhere, guys like Hugo Chavez are laughing hysterically right now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Obviously President Bush Can't Hear Us

The American people have spoken but for some reason no one's listening! NO BAILOUT!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Whatever Happened to College?

Ever wonder why there seems to be an upward swing in liberal voters in the country? Why we can't say the Pledge of Allegiance without violating somebody's civil rights? Or why kids aren't allowed to sing the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in schools? Well, it all starts in colleges across the country where indoctrinated students enter the workforce and become active citizens. Just take a look at just ten incidents from this year that define what's wrong with the politically correct movement in America right now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

UAW Insanity

Look at this blog-post by Michelle Malkin. Just click the link in her post and see why the UAW is just awful.

GOP Delivers Knockout Blow to the Bailout

Last night the Senate Republicans (save for a few weak-willed members) and some Democrats voted against the auto bailout, which is perfect. Job well done. looks like President Bush is thinking like a liberal again and plans to side-step the issue by giving TARP funds to the auto industry?! I'm not sure what he's thinking but this is just pitiful. Senate Republicans sent a clear message last night and here's the so-called Republican President considering giving funds that aren't even designated for that purpose to the auto industry. Looks like he's trying to head out office with even his own party disgusted with him.

As for the "Big Three," here is something to consider before feeling too sorry for them. One of the main reasons the bailout failed is because the UAW (discussed previously) refused to take a deeper cut in wages. Well, would it be preferable to get most of the wage you currently earn, or none of it? That answer's easy. With the UAW it must be none, because that's the way they opted. Also, if the auto companies were smart, they would have been planning for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the same time Congress was considering the bailout; a contingency plan if you will. But guess what? They didn't. Now they're panicking, and looking desperate at the same time. And guess who the media, the unions, and Democrats are blaming? You guessed it.....Republicans. The same party that was left out of negotiations on crafting the bailout and the same ones mocked by Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank. So much for bi-partisanship.

Rush Limbaugh's analysis is right on, and Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee is now a hero for the Republicans and vilified by the Democrats and the UAW for simply asking the right questions.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So the Bailout Passed the House, Time for the Senate to Stop It

Unbelievable. The House passed that bailout to the auto industry. But what's even more shocking is that 32 so-called Republicans voted for it. Michelle Malkin's blog post covers this in more detail and calls out those who voted for it and shows some of the reasons why....and some of those reasons are pathetic. But now it's time for it to head to the Senate. Time for the Republicans there to shut this thing down. As it was stated earlier today.....don't come ask for money without answers to how things will change. That isn't how it works. And for those say it isn't fair to give it to the banks and say no to the auto industry....well, when is enough enough? As I said in a previous post, if that's the guiding mentality, why not just give bailouts to everyone?

And to those in the Senate, Rush Limbaugh nailed it....if you can't stand up to this, you won't be able to stand up to anything in the next four years. Go, Senate GOP!

My Letter to Senator Harry Reid

I sent the following to Senator Harry Reid this morning. What do you think?

Dear Senator Reid,
I am a constituent of yours and have a question in regard to this horrible auto bailout. Why should they get the money? Are they too big to fail? Too many would be affected by them not getting a band-aid to their wound that requires more internal work? Well let me ask you this and I WANT AN ANSWER!
I am currently in financial hardship. I run into the red nearly every paycheck due to bills, college loans, and car payments. I am married and have a son. They depend on me to make money and stay afloat financially. I have worked hard to finish college and get a sound job but am just a bit behind in paying my bills, but the outlook is not so good for next year. I am requesting from the you and the federal government a small bailout, or a bridge loan, to cover us for an indeterminate amount of time. Just a small amount, maybe $15,000 total, and we would be able to pay our bills and get out of the crisis we are in. I am simply too big to fail, sir. My wife and son will suffer if I cannot get this loan and the banks, well they won't extend the necessary credit to help us. I can look at my spending and report back to you next year to show progress, but without this loan, my family will not be able to compete and make it into the next year. We would need this $15,000 as soon as possible as our funds may not last. Now, will you grant me and my family this bailout so we can survive this current economic storm? No? Why not? Are you really going to sit there and tell me that three failing auto companies are worth more than my family? Worth more than my family's well-being? Are you saying we don't contribute as much? Well, we may not have employees and produce cars, but we purchase goods and pay taxes. We may not have lobbyists that contribute to your campaign but we buy gas, and pay our utilities. And we may not have some union backing, we have the support of our families and friends.
So what makes these companies more important than the hardworking families in YOUR state and across America? I guess it just comes down to money and favors owed to some union in Michigan, right? And that is the problem. My son will be paying for this mess years down the road because somewhere along the way, you, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and the others lost your commitment to the American people and sold your souls to the lobbyists and the unions. If you took ten seconds to think you'd realize that if the people of this country could get that $15 billion or whatever the REAL amount is, we'd be able to pay bills, and purchase goods and drive the economy. This bailout is a bad idea and Chapter 11 was created for ALL companies, NOT just some with the exception the auto companies. Use your common sense and vote against this bailout. And in case you couldn't tell, I do hold the value of my family far higher than three non-competitive car companies. And I know I'm not alone in this sentiment.

Jonathan Sherwood (an American not worthy of a bailout)

Bailout Crisis, Round Whatever We're in Now UPDATED!

Genius! I just heard the Senate Republicans that are leading the charge against this auto bailout and they are right on the money! Senator Ensign and Senator Shelby simply said that a bailout is a band-aid to the problem without a fix to the problem itself. Throwing $15 billion onto a mound of trash still makes it a mound of trash. And taxpayers ought not be responsible for paying for that trash. Without demanding restructuring, renegotiations with the UAW, or getting rid of these failed CEOs, nothing will change, and even a "car czar" (so awful) will be able to do any good. Fix the problem, auto industry, and then ask for a loan, not the other way around. Oh! And Congressional about letting Republicans take a look at the language in the bill before saying it's good to go!

Now House Republicans have put forth a plan. It's a much better alternative than some handout. See the summary of the plan here.

Represenative Dan Lungren of California has got it exactly right.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wow.....Nevada Has One Smart Senator! UPDATED

Every state has two Senators (well, in the case of Illinois, it maybe upwards of five, depending on what the Governor gets in return). In the case of Nevada , we have one smart one and one that....well, he's got his own thing going on. Senator Harry Reid, our infamous Senate Majority Leader has cruised for years in Washington, and he shows up here enough to run re-election and ensure that everyone knows he's from the tiny town of Searchlight, Nevada. I'll never forget the period in 2003 when Republicans were asking for a straight up or down vote on judicial nominees and I turned on the TV to see Harry Reid reading about the history of the bicycle. It made my stomach turn seeing him in complete "inaction."

We also have Senator John Ensign, a Republican who has worked over the years in the Senate. He's well-spoken, capable, and knows how things work in Washington.

Now, in this critical economic period, we have one Senator more than eager to bailout the failing three from Detroit and any other company who wanders up Capitol Hill. And we have another Senator who's saying enough is enough. John Ensign came out today and spoke out against the bailout and I applaud him for that. Hopefully him, Senator Shelby, Senator Corker, and others can work together to push this awful bailout into the ground. It's nice to see one of our elected officials doing the right thing rather than feeling sorry for companies that deserve to go bankrupt.
Senator Ensign has support for a filibuster and I wish these men well. Write your Congressmen and women and let them know that you support this!

Senator Harry Reid's Secret Ally in Nevada

Poor Brian Krolicki.

The Lt. Governor of the state of Nevada is being indicted by State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and a Grand Jury on four counts, two for misappropriation and falsification of accounts by a public officer, and two counts of misappropriation by a Treasurer. These charges stem from his time as State Treasurer and his management of a college savings program. Now, the indictment in itself is bad enough, but what is curious is the timing of the indictment. Krolicki had indicated he planned to make a run against incumbent Senator Harry Reid in the 2010 election and then the indictment came down. Now for those who are not residents of Nevada, Krolicki is one of those honest politicians in office. He's a decent person and doesn't engage in a lot of hostile politics. When he was the State Treasurer the state had a budget surplus and he did a fine job. He was the first Republican to openly announce his plans to run against Reid in 2010 and then this very public indictment comes down. Krolicki claims he did his job with the college savings money and never did anything wrong, and in fact believes the indictment by Masto is politically motivated due to the timing. Reid says Krolicki's claims are "pure fiction." Well, we all know Reid. We know he operates, how he works, and what he says. We also know Krolicki, and as I have heard many times on local talk radio, the indictment is shocking. Krolicki just isn't that type of person. Reid is.

One thing to remember is that an indictment, regardless of whether it's false or not, still hangs out there. When 2010 rolls around, even if Krolicki's innocent, Reid will still be able to leverage the indictment against Krolicki. And that's the tragedy of the whole thing, and just heaps suspicion all over the indictment as well as Reid and Masto. I hope I'm not the only one keeping an eye on this story as Krolicki's chances of winning against Reid are very good in 2010. And in full disclosure, if it turns out Krolicki really is guilty, then he deserves the full penalty allowable. But I have the feeling that he isn't guilty at all.

Senate Seat For Sale!!

Driving into work this morning I got to hear the lovely news that a certain Illinois Governor was arrested by the FBI for allegedly placing Barack Obama's Senate seat up to the highest bidder. This is the kind of thing that instantly turns voters off from politics and just feeds into the stereotype that politicians are all corrupt. Governor Rod Blagojevich, if truly guilty of this, is in the same boat as bonehead Ted Stevens and ought to be hung out to dry. He allegedly tried to get financial gains and board positions for his wife. That's wonderful. Blagojevich is what's wrong with politics today and I hope, if guilty, that he is punished.

Monday, December 8, 2008

No Wonder Kids Are So Spoiled

I heard about this story today on the radio. A school district in Michigan is no longer giving students "F" grades because it makes them feel bad. To quote Rush Limbaugh, first it was no more red pens for grading because it threatened students' self esteem, and now no more "F" grades....we are setting our kids up for failure when they are adults. Think about more tag, no more dodge ball, no more "F" grades, awarding trophies for everyone regardless of place, allowing multiple simultaneous valedictorians at graduations, no more red pens.....the list just gets longer and longer each year. Soon we'll have kids dictating what subjects are taught, by who, and at what time. Awful....give the failing kids an "F" and stop coddling!

Wow.....Gift Certificates for Abortions.

Unbelievable. I saw Jon Stewart on the Daily Show making fun of this, and had to check it out for myself. The Indiana Planned Parenthood is selling gift certificates for its services. What is this world coming to? How do you give that as a gift? I guess it's right up there with those cards you get from Red Lobster or Best Buy now. "Oh! Look honey, it's $20 at Barnes and Noble....and, yes, score! $100 at the Indiana Planned Parenthood!" How far we've fallen.....

Remember That Whole Bailout Issue?

Well here it is, a headline from MSNBC:
Unbelievable. Mayors from across America are now stepping up to the "handout machine," also known as the federal government, and begging for money. How much is enough? How much money do they think Americans have to give, as we'll have to foot the bill? Maybe we won't have to now, but my son will. And so will your children. Think of this past few months....hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars flowing out the federal government like some fountain of money, and guess what? That's a bad idea. Just look up those stories of Russians carrying wheelbarrows of cash to buy a loaf of bread or the German Weimar Republic. Do your homework, people! Just saying there's money available doesn't necessarily make it so. Here's a lovely quote from Miami Mayor Manny Diaz:
"We must invest in Main Street,” he said. “We're not here for a bailout; we're here to help out Americans.”
We're not here for a bailout.....just some free money. And the humble costs? A mere $73 billion. Well that's peanuts compared to AIG and Wall Street, so it's fine, right? At least the auto companies were humble enough to only beg for $34 billion. And look at this next bit from the article....this is classic:
Mayor Doug Palmer, of Trenton, N.J., added, "We don't need a bailout; we're talking about a build out."
A build out. That's cute. Let's come up with some new clever ways to rename the term 'bailout.' I have a message for these mayors, and the governors who begged to President-Elect Obama last week: try cutting your budgets and some costs first. Instead of putting a bunch of money into beautifying the local courthouse, try saving that money. Instead of building a statue to local hero dog "Champ," try using that money elsewhere. Instead of hiring 14 dozen Management Analysts that do the same job one could do, put a hiring freeze in place. Before getting in line to beg for a handout, (and yes Mayor's a handout!) get your own house in order and stop begging the American people to take on even more of a burden because of your fiscal failures!!

It's the Unions, Stupid!

Democratic strategist James Carville once said "it's the economy, stupid," when describing the primary factor in people voting the way they do. Well, when thinking of why GM, Ford, and Chrysler are all failing miserably and are begging for a bailout, it might be safe to say "it's the unions, stupid." The United Autoworkers (UAW) have essentially held the three auto companies hostage for years and now it's come time to pay the piper. The UAW, according to their own website, place enormous costs for auto companies on CEO salaries. Well, the fact is, the UAW employees do earn a higher wage than their competitors in companies such as Honda and Toyota. Ever notice why Japanese car companies build plants outside of Detroit or even the state of Michigan? It's to keep out the UAW. That cuts costs and ensures that Japanese cars are built with better quality than American cars. The UAW asserts that their wages and costs are not the reason for financial troubles at the "Big Three," but the truth is, their costs impact the company overall. That forces the companies to build cars at a lower standard than the Japanese. Thus, Americans buy more Japanese cars, sending less revenue to the American companies. This forces the companies to cuts raises, or benefits, etc. The UAW then negotiates a tougher contract for wages, benefits, etc. that aren't even there and therefore places the car companies in an even tighter position financially.
This is simple economics and anyone who's taken an economics course will tell you that unions drive up company costs, plain and simple. Add into the mix the UAW's horrendous "JOBS Bank" and you've got a recipe for bankruptcy. The JOBS Bank is simply a benefit for those UAW workers who have been laid off of work. They get paid their salaries for being laid off. Not one time.....not just two. They get paid regularly......and they get paid to not have a job. This costs the company dearly needed revenue. Ron Gettelfinger, UAW representative, may put on a sad face to the public, and continually lay blame to the CEOs and costs of the parts for vehicles, but he needs to take some responsibility for the union's actions. Look at what he says (or fails to address about) the JOBS Bank:
“The jobs bank has become a sound bite that people use to beat us up,” Mr. Gettelfinger said, who will join the auto executives at Congressional hearings starting Thursday. “It’s become a lightning rod that takes away the focus from what the real issue is, and the real issue is the backbone of America.”

As you see, he never addresses then issue. He deflects and places the problem on Washington's doorstep. The unions are to blame for a large piece of the financial struggles. The sooner they accept that and work within a REALISTIC framework, the better the Big Three will be. They will be able to cut some costs for labor and re-invest that money into research and development, or manufacturing costs, or parts, to ensure a better vehicle, reasonably priced that Americans would like to buy. Otherwise the unions will ironically drive their members out of employment and ensure that Japan dominates the auto industry. And that's something that even James Carville would have to marvel at.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hey, Just to be Safe, Let's Just Bailout the Whole Planet!

I watched the hearings with the CEOs of Ford, GM, and Chrysler these past two days and I tell's a bunch of garbage. So we gave billions to AIG so they could go and play on the beach and at resorts, and then we gave $700 billion to Wall Street and banks without any oversight on where the money went and how it was used. And now these three are begging for $25 scratch that.....$34 billion (and rising) from the government. When did this become the norm? So now if a company is in trouble we bail them out? Whatever happened to the word 'bankruptcy?' Now states are begging for at least $100 billion in aid from President-Elect Obama. Now, imagine if you or I walked in to see Senate Majority Leader Reid, or Senator Dodd and sat down and explained:

"well, we're just strapped for cash and have a home in foreclosure. We also have credit card bills that aren't being paid because of rising utility bills and car payments. Now.....all we'd need is a small 'bridge loan' of $10,000 to get back on our feet. We have six kids and so....we're too big to fail. If you could just grant us this loan with some critical benchmarks for improvement, you won't be sorry!"

We'd be shown the door in a second with no help and a 'thanks for your support' as you were on the way out. So the American people, the people that spend money and drive the economy are allowed to fail but three car companies who have failed to keep spending in line and have been poorly managed are okay? AIG is okay? Citibank is okay? When did this happen? Why did we let this happen? Because we've become a coddling society. Because it would be so sad to see people lose their jobs. But it's critically important to realize that bankruptcy was designed for a reason. It's important to remember that while many would lose their jobs, sometimes that step is necessary to remain competitive in the world. A stagnant company with falling revenues that is given money from taxpayers to stay afloat for maybe a year is the worst investment because all it does is provide a band-aid for the problem, when what is really needed is stitches or more. I say let the companies go bankrupt. Let them restructure and become more efficient and cost-conscious. The unions can complain all they like, but if the money isn't there, they lose all leverage. Let them go back to square one and try to be competitive again. Let those companies take the risk, not the taxpayers.

And if the federal government feels sorry and gives the money to these companies, and then gives money to the state governments (who blew record surplusses over the past five years), then I know it'll only be a matter of time before small local businesses are next, and then even individuals. Finally, some allied country, that we already give money to in the form of aid, will come knocking and asking for their own bailout. And then what do we do?

My Own Identity Crisis

So before, I had mentioned that I had been going through a bit of a political identity crisis recently. As I grew up with my family, I became increasingly conservative in my political and social beliefs. Only my mother was a liberal, as far as I knew, but my aunts and uncles all leaned right, and so, I did as well. After four years in the military and the infidelity of President Clinton, I came into 2000 as an even further entrenched Republican. I felt a bit lost in college, a political minority among a sea of liberal young people and professors. And then came September 11, 2001. I was enrolled in a number of political science courses and was just beginning my pursuit of a degree in International Affairs. The events of that tragic day are burned into my consciousness and I remember how I had become almost embittered toward anyone who challenged the authority of President Bush. Liberals became something I grew to truly dislike and distrust. When I finished my studies in 2003, I went to Hawaii and began pursuit of a graduate degree in one of the most liberal states in America. I made friends with some who were liberals and learned that there were good people on the other side and maybe (after 2 years) I had learned to appreciate their differences.

At the same time I married a wonderful woman from Japan. She is a very left of center person and we acknowledge our political differences, which are often sharp. We moved back to Nevada in 2004 and soon after our marriage, my wonderful son was born. It was at that moment that the crisis truly emerged within me, although at the time I was unaware of it. If you remember, America at that time was going through a tough presidential election and America was politically divided. My wife and I had a number of political discussions that year and into 2005 and these were often coupled with arguments over our differences. In that same period I started working on my graduate studies in political science. I began to see the political world through a sharper and more focused lens and my wife began to open my worldview a bit more. And in the meantime I was beginning to be frustrated by the Republican party in general. There was just something not right in their actions and words, and I began to tune out for a while.

Then came this election cycle. I finished my Master's degree in Political Science in May 2008 and watched the election unfold with a very different mindset than I did during 2004. I was open to different ideas and watching the candidates, I never felt impressed by John McCain. His service was admirable, but he didn't express himself well and didn't seem to have a solid message. In contrast, Barack Obama seemed like the guy. He was charismatic, maintained his message, and I was unexpectedly drawn to him. And after he won, I sat down and asked myself if maybe I was truly a liberal. Maybe I had shifted so much over the years that I couldn't call myself a conservative. But the truth was, after examining the conservative ideals again, and looking over the Republican platform, I was, in fact, still a conservative. I hold those tenets to be true. And after some thinking, I realized that the Republicans in office had been the ones to turn me away. They hadn't maintained their principles and as a result, I (and many other) Republicans felt lost. Was I like that? Did I really subscribe to that party ideal? No. I subscribe to the basic Republican and conservative principles that held the party through the 80's and 90's. And because those in office had strayed from the course, it tainted the party's image across the country. The discourse didn't help either. Partisan exchanges often became heated and insulting over the past eight years and so it was difficult to truly debate the issues. Liberals were this and conservatives were that, never mind the actual issues.

Well, the crisis is at an end. I am a Republican. I am a conservative. And that doesn't mean I am hateful of liberals. It doesn't mean I support President Bush 100% of the time. But it doesn't mean I welcome the left's perspectives with open arms either. I lean right for a reason, and it's because I believe that the principles of conservatism are correct. And the most important thing for me to recognize was that conservatism doesn't equal dislike of liberalism. It just opposes it ideologically. I have liberal friends who are great people. My wife is still liberal and I love her. But at this point in my life, I can maintain my positions and have a civil discussion with those on the left and not be insulting or degrading. I can also appreciate their positions and respect them, even while disagreeing with them. Finally, I know, at this time, that being conservative doesn't make me a bad person. And holding conservative views doesn't either. Maintaining conservative views and positions is something I am not ashamed of, and now that my head has been cleared and I have grown a bit this year, I am more than ready to tackle the issues and work to fix the damage done to the party. My only question is, am I the only one that went through this?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

And So It Begins...

Well, here we go. I wasn't really sure what I would say in my first post, but due to time constraints and simplicity, I'll keep it short an sweet. This blog, Republican Refuge, is designed with the main purpose of providing a voice for Republicans and those conservatives who claim no party, and yes, even for those liberals who may have strayed off course or are just curious. I will be posting regularly on various local (Nevada-wise), national, and international issues as they might come up. I will also be looking at party politics and the Republican Party in particular, as I think it's important to remember what the party stands for. If this past eight years has taught us anything, it's that the basic message of the party has been damaged and needs to be restored. I'll be as civil as I can be and encourage vigorous, yet civil, debate here and encourage everyone to respect each other's opinions. Well, time to go now, but I'll be back with a discussion on political own in particular.