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30 Days of Obama – Day 30

I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. It’s: What are our capabilities? – 2012

My Take – The nature of our military has indeed changed since 1916.   We  have aircraft carriers, and they are the premier power projection platform on the seas.  We even have nuclear submarines, which do go under the water.  Problem is, we don’t have enough of either.  Our Navy is smaller than it has been in a very long time, and while each warship packs a bigger punch now, we still need a minimum number of them to meet our obligations while still being able to do maintenance on our fleet and train the crews.  Right now, we are stretching our forces, Navy and otherwise, to a breaking point.  We either need to cut our requirements, or we need to add to our capabilities.

Maybe Mr. Obama is trying to recreate the mythical “peace dividend” that Bill Clinton touted so much in the 1990’s, or maybe he just doesn’t give much thought to the armed forces and the impact his policies are having on them. Either way, he needs to spend a little more time paying attention to our military and pay a little less attention to the aging hippies that are telling him that it needs to be cut to the bone and beyond.

30 Days of Obama – Day 28

What I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. — 2008

My Take – “Fairness” is a concept for children.  The only people over the age of 21 that I hear use the word “fairness” are politicians trying to whip up their political base against “the other”.

Let’s face it, some people are always going to think “it’s not fair” when someone has more than they do, or more than they think that person deserves.  They believe that what others have and earn is not really theirs, but is owned by that amorphous entity called “society”.  Through this belief, they justify taking that which is not theirs and giving it to those who support them.

Are taxes a necessary evil in our country?  Yes they are.  Should those taxes be paid by everyone?  Yes they should.  Should taxes only be collected to pay for those things that are actually the government’s responsibility?  Damn straight.

But to decide that some of us, myself included, should pay more than others because we had the drive, ambition, and work-ethic to get the education/training we needed, work the low-paying jobs to get started, and worked our way up a few tax brackets is criminal.  Even if someone has more because of an accident of birth, a single moment of genius that paid off big, or just plain dumb luck, what they have is theirs, not ours.

If the President wants ‘fairness’, he ought to start by not taking from the productive and giving to the non-productive.  I have no problem paying taxes to fund those things that government ought to do.  I object, usually quite vehemently, when someone says that I don’t deserve what I have and that I ought to give it up so that someone else doesn’t have to work as hard for their daily bread.

*Edited to fix a “hey, did I really say “drive, ambition, and drive” mess up.

30 Days of Obama – Day 27

Hopefully, more and more people will begin to feel their story is somehow part of this larger story of how we’re going to reshape America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous. — 1990

My Take – In this day and age, if you’re saying that someone is systematically trying to take the American Dream away from you and you don’t do something about it, then you have no-one to blame but yourself.  It’s been a generation since systematic racial discrimination became actionable in court.  If someone keeps you from getting a job, buying a house, or getting an education because of the color of your skin, your religion, or whatever, then you drag their butts into court and get satisfaction.  Maybe you won’t be CEO, or live in the mansion, or get that advanced degree in particle physics that you crave, but if you’re willing to work hard and not take crap from anyone, you will advance in life.

If, on the other hand, you choose to whine that someone else is keeping you down, you will go nowhere.  And if you come to me looking for sympathy that you don’t feel that your story is somehow part of this larger story, all I’m going to do is offer you some sand to go pound.  Quit looking for the rest of us to boost you up and start climbing on your own.

30 Days of Obama – Day 26

When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world. — 2004

My Take – To be honest, I don’t care about the respect of the world.   OK, I hope that countries with which  we share common values, such as Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany, and some of the new democracies in Eastern Europe, respect us, but I think that’s an easy one.  It’s easy to respect someone when you have a lot in common with them.

As for the rest of the world, I couldn’t care less about whether they respect us, much less love us.  Our foreign policy for a long time has been “Hey, we’re nice guys!  Look at all the shiny hardware and food we brought.  Now please like us.  Pretty please!”.  I guess that’s partly because we’re still doing the things we did to compete for hearts and minds during the Cold War, and some of it is because Americans, at least a lot of the time, see their role as the world’s last best hope and want to prove that to everyone.

Me?  I’m tired of pouring money into kleptocratic sinkholes.  I’m tired of watching flag draped coffins get unloaded off of airplanes.  And I’m tired of watching the American flag get burnt by people who wouldn’t be able to feed their children if not for the largess of the American people.  If I were President, my foreign aid policy would pretty much be “For our true friends, we will give the shirts off our backs.  Everyone else pays cash.”.    As for our foreign policy toward those who don’t respect us and we hold a reciprocal feeling, I say it’s better to be feared than respected.   I guess my idea boils down to “No better friend; no worse enemy”, or for those of you who watch MSNBC, “Leave us alone, and we’ll leave you alone.  Raise a hand to us, and we will cut off your arm.”.  Americans truly are a peace loving people, but killing people and breaking stuff is something at which we’re very adept, and if someone can’t respect us for the good we do, then they should tremble at our ability to turn their place into a parking lot.

30 Days of Obama – Day 25

I do take offense with some suggestion that in any way, we haven’t tried to make sure that the American people knew as the information was coming in what we believed. — 2012

My Take – Take offense all you want, but I’m not believing that you did what you could to safeguard American lives in Benghazi, that you have been forthright about what you know and when you knew it, and that you believe that you owe us an explanation about what went wrong and what you’re going to do to prevent it from happening again.

The reason I’m so quick to believe stories about your incompetence and politicization of this incident is that you have been incompetent when it comes to just about anything that doesn’t go your way for three and a half years.  In that time, you have made political points instead of finding solutions in every instance I can think of.

  • The ambassador and other officials at our embassy in Libya requested more security.  You denied it.
  • When the attack began, you not only had a drone in position to see exactly what was happening, you had someone in the compound giving you ground truth.  You did next to nothing.
  • You saw what was really happening on the ground.  You still spent days talking about ‘demonstrations’ and blaming an American citizen for the actions of terrorists on another continent.
  • The military had assets available to assist, or at least to shorten the attack.  They were not utilized.
  • You called these attacks and the deaths of our diplomats and citizens as “bumps in the road” and “suboptimal”.  Shame on you.

Were some of these actions or lacks of action committed by your subordinates?  Possibly.  But here’s a leadership principle you seem to have missed along the way “You can delegate authority, but not responsibility”.  The buck stops with you, Mr. President.  The things that led to our embassy staff not being able to withstand the attacks in Benghazi are all yours to explain.

In short, Mr. President, I don’t give a tinker’s damn that you’re offended that the truth is getting out and we’re asking you the hard questions.  Put on your big boy pants, assuming you own a pair and can find them after such a long period of disuse, and start telling the truth to us.

  • When were you informed of the attack?
  • What options for assistance were you given by your military and diplomatic advisors?
  • Why did you not pursue any of those options?
  • When were you, not your staff, told that this was probably a terrorist attack?
  • Why did you attack an American citizen for exercising his First Amendment rights and use him as a scapegoat for the deaths of our Ambassador and three others?
  • Why did you leave Washington for a Las Vegas fundraiser while the ashes of our consulate were still smoldering?
  • Why wasn’t there a better response to the Ambassador’s request for more security, and why didn’t you personally respond to his communications?  He was your personal representative to Libya, not Hillary Clinton’s.

Until we get honest, thorough, and forthright answers to these questions, you’re going to get hammered by anyone who cares that Americans were left twisting in the wind.  Grow up and start doing the hard parts of your bloody job or step aside and let an adult take over.

30 Days of Obama – Day 24

I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me. — 1990

My Take – The president represents us all, not just his core constituency.  He is supposed to keep the needs of the nation as a whole in mind as he governs, not just the parts of the country he likes.  At least, that’s the ideal.

I’m not naive enough to think that partisan hacks become philosopher kings the moment they take the oath of office.  I know that every president favors some parts of the country over others to some extent.  But when a president spends valuable time and energy whipping up one part of the population against another, the bonds of our country become strained.  We are not rich Americans or poor Americans.  We are not rural Americans or urban Americans.  We are just Americans, and the President needs to remember that he serves us all, not just the parts that voted for him or donated to his war chest.

30 Days of Obama – Day 24

The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra. — 2010

My Take – Is there a place for government subsidization of research?  What about subsidies for manufacturing products that haven’t caught on yet?

To me, there are times when public money can and should be used for research, but they ought to be either something that has a demonstrable impact on the public good, or they ought to be things that the government needs in order to conduct its business.  Research into nuclear energy, or research into disease prevention come to mind.  But direct subsidies to research that is aimed solely at enriching the first organization to develop something is wrong.  There isn’t enough money to give to everyone, so the government by necessity picks winners and losers.  If the government chooses correctly, they’re giving money to people who probably could have succeeded without it. If it chooses poorly, then it’s likely to keep throwing good money after bad, and even if it has the discipline to cut our losses, they still wasted money that could have gone to a better use.

As for the government giving money to industries, if the government has a need for the product being manufactured, I see no reason for it to not purchase it from a new company that could use the business.  Likewise, for something we all agree we need, such as roads or airports, I don’t mind the government spending what is necessary, even if it goes to a new player in the marketplace.  I also don’t have an issue with tax breaks for companies that create new jobs or spend money on research.

But when my money is wasted on companies that have no chance of independent survival, and which just happen to be owned by the President’s cronies and donors, then I have a problem.  The process by which the government spends our money should be transparent, fair, and open to criticism.  If a company can’t demonstrate that it is being well run, then why give it more money?

30 Days of Obama – Day 23

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace. — 2009


My Take – As I’ve said before, President Obama is many things, but he is not a peacemaker.  While he may have transformed the world, he did not do it for the betterment of mankind, and he certainly didn’t do it peacefully.  The fact that the Nobel Committee gave him the award without even waiting to see what, if anything, he would accomplish while in office was nothing more than a thumb in the eye of President Bush and those who oppose President Obama.

If President Obama had any kind of humility or class, he would have refused the award on the grounds that he hadn’t earned it.  He truly does not deserve to stand among the great people who have won it, and his presence on that roll of honor brings discredit to it.

30 Days of Obama – Day 22

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. — 2008

My Take – I heartily agree with the President here.  The inability of successive generations of legislators and presidents to get a handle on our spending is indeed an egregious failure of leadership.  We have been trying to have both guns and butter for so long that I am afraid that very soon we will not be able to afford either.  Whether or not the choices were good or bad is up to debate, but we are way beyond mortgaging the livelihoods of our children.

And yes, we deserve better. Hopefully we will get it very soon.

30 Days of Obama – Day 21

My administration has a job to do as well. That job is to get this economy back on its feet. That’s my job, and it’s a job I gladly accept. I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, “Well this is Obama’s economy.” That’s fine. GIVE IT TO ME. My job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and carp and gripe. So, I welcome the job. I want the responsibility. — 2009

My Take – I think I can see the fundamental place where the President and I diverge.  You see, he, and I’ll lump the previous administration in with him on this one, think it’s the government’s place to ‘fix’ the economy.  Maybe it’s by bailing out trade unions to keep those dues paying political donors on the payroll.  Maybe it’s by picking and choosing which mega-banks get to live to see another day when the bad policies that have distorted markets for decades all come crashing down.

Either way, to me, they’re wrong.  Socializing the risks of business but privatizing the reward is just as wrong as safeguarding union jobs at the expense of bond and stock holders.

The goal of the government should be to set some broad laws about what will not be allowed to happen, then get the heck out of the way.  Good companies should be allowed to thrive, companies that aren’t well run should be allowed to either fail or find a way to adapt and survive.  Prolonging the suffering of weak companies does nothing but expand the reach of government and force all of us to suffer for the bad judgement of others.

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