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Is The Election An End Or A Beginning?

Winston Churchill, when asked if the Allied victory in North Africa was the beginning of the end of World War II, replied “No, but it may be the end of the beginning.” Despite yesterday’s disappointing results, American Exceptionalism is not at an end. I’m not even quite ready to say it’s at the beginning of the end.

But this election marks a significant shift in our culture; and that shift is the end of the beginning of this great American experiment. We have gone from a majority that respects freedom and responsibility to a majority that envies success and covets power.

If you’re like me by about 8:00 last night you felt like you’d been kicked in the gut. How could so many of our fellow countrymen and Montanans – Montanans for crying out loud! – be ready to toss out the principles that made this country great and become mere cogs in a vast machine run by government overseers and their cronies?

And why should any of us continue to fight for those principles when most Americans today clearly don’t understand or value them?

I’ll leave it to pundits and shrinks to answer the first question. I have my own ideas on why people so willingly trade freedom for security, confuse likeability with competency, and don’t take the time or mental effort to understand the complex issues we face today. But regardless of the reasons, that’s where we are.

The question is, what do those of us who care about freedom, who understand what makes this country different and great do about it? Do we take our toys and go home: disengage, get off the grid and let the country and culture drive itself off the cliff?

Many of us who have worked hard, saved, and planned ahead in case of uncertain times have the option to step aside, live simpler lives, and watch the train go over the edge.

And I’ll be honest. My first reaction last night was “To hell with them all. If they can’t figure it out why should I care anymore.”

But that’s not who I am; and if you’ve read this far I doubt it’s who you are, either.

I had two maxims during my Naval career that got me through many difficult times: from months of being yelled at by a Marine drill sergeant, to endless months boring circles in and over oceans around the world, to twenty four hour operations in hot zones. They’re simple – almost Sophomoric – but they’re true: “Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems,” and “This too shall pass.”

Remember how you felt in 2008. It was bad and we’re worse off now. But we’re still here. The feelings of disappointment, gloom, and even betrayal soften. Thoughts turn to the future.

We’ll survive despite some hard times ahead. But we don’t want to go through this again.

Do your grieving and get on with the task at hand.

It’s the end of the beginning. We’ve entered a new phase in the battle for America and I for one am not ready to surrender.

With great risk comes great opportunity, but not certain success. That’s why they call it risk. We need to recognize that the culture has shifted and meet that shift head on. We need to get past short term political opportunism and invest in demonstrating the inevitable human tragedies that will result from the coming policies out of Washington and the possibility of continued failed policies coming out of Helena (the votes aren’t all in as I write this).

People are voting with their hearts, not their heads. We need to reach their hearts so that we can engage their heads.

We will do our part at MPI to ensure that you and state leaders have ideas and options to return to the principles that made this country the Shining City on the Hill and Montana its crown jewel.  But as we’ve seen, great ideas are not enough.

The culture is the key. Montanans must understand the grave issues facing our state and nation, and how the current path toward centralized control, dependency on the state and decline of the private sector affect them personally. That takes constant engagement and reaching people where they are, not where we want them to be.

And it means playing offense, not defense! For too long we’ve assumed people would do the right thing if they just had the facts. Facts are necessary but insufficient. We need to actively work to create a culture of freedom and build a bench of future leaders whose guiding principles go beyond getting into office. We need to build a Freedom Majority that feels with their hearts and votes with their heads.

The Montana Policy Institute will be on the front lines, informing and persuading taxpayers and leaders to put freedom ahead of free stuff, to win the battle of ideas that leads to victories in the battle for leadership. We need you to continue to stand with us, and to encourage others to help make that effort decisive by supporting the Montana Policy Institute.

You can start right now by forwarding this email to five friends letting them know you care about our freedoms, and asking them to join the battle for ideas that is so crucial to Montana’s future.

Let’s step up to ensure that Tuesday, November 6th 2012 becomes a tipping point for the restoration of freedom in America and a legacy of opportunity in Montana; that the end of the beginning in American Exceptionalism is the beginning of the end for statism and tyranny!

Contrast of Facts On the Presidential Race

This is long for a blog post. Sorry about that. But I was cc’d on an email exchange between two people I know that is worth sharing. The first email was a list of President Obama’s accomplishments straight from the campaign’s website. Fair enough, but just one more political hack who spams their friends’ inboxes with campaign materials doesn’t impress me much. In fact it’s kind of insulting.

What I’m copying here – and I have to copy and paste from the email since it’s not pulled off a campaign website that I know of – is a friend’s thoughtful response to that list, providing real facts and real context from a real person. If it doesn’t read like a campaign commercial that’s because it isn’t one. It’s the product of someone who’s done their homework and thinks for themselves.

I’m in the information business and I don’t fear providing information and links from people with whom I personally disagree because I think most people are smart enough to figure out what’s right, wrong, useful, and manipulative. So I’m giving you, via link and text, a bunch of information that you can add to the mix if you’re still on the fence. I’m not going to tell you who to believe or vouch for the data and assertions by either of these takes, but please look at the link above, and then at the rebuttal below. And then do your civic duty on Tuesday.

Rebuttal to “spammer friend” of Obama campaign’s list of accomplishments:

“1. Unemployment: According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession ended in June, 2009, over three years ago. Shortly into his first term, Obama promised if Congress passed the stimulus package unemployment would never top 8% and would drop below 6% by 2012. Just last month, for the first time since Obama’s election, unemployment dropped below 8%. Obama’s 43 straight months of unemployment over 8% is the longest for any presidency. As bad as that is, it is even worse if you analyze the real unemployment under Obama when you count all the folks who have given up looking for work. Taking those folks into account results in a true unemployment rate of 11.63%.

2. The Recovery Act: Most of America is now aware of the expensive failures of the stimulus just on green energy alone. These include Solyndra ($500 million), A123 Systems ($249.1 million), Abound Solar ($400 million), Amonix Solar ($20 million), and several more. Additionally, as stated above, the promised effect on employment never materialized. Despite this, digging deeper into the numbers shows the disastrous result of the stimulus. In the second Quarter of 2012, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 200,000 to 1.2 million people have jobs they otherwise would not have without the stimulus. Giving the President the benefit of the doubt by assuming the correct number is 1.2 million jobs, that equates to $692,500 per job “created or saved” by the Obama stimulus. Seems like we would have been better giving those 1.2 million folks a $100k each and saved the rest. While the president touts creating 5 million new jobs during his first term, it would actually have taken 9 million new jobs just to keep up with population growth. Consequently, the Obama economy is not just running in sand, it is running in quicksand.

3. Debt/Deficit/Budget: After criticizing as “unpatriotic” the doubling of the national debt from $5 trillion to roughly $10 trillion under Bush over eight years, Obama increased the debt by nearly $6 trillion in less than four years. Google or search on YouTube for “Hal Mason” and/or “United States Budget Dilemma” and you will learn the US budget cannot be balanced even if the government shut down. More specifically, you will learn the US will spend $3.8 trillion under Obama in 2012 but collect only $2.5 trillion dollars in tax revenue, a record deficit of $1.3 trillion. According to the White House’s own books, the government will spend $225 billion paying interest our debt, $2,252 trillion on entitlements and $1.319 trillion operating the government (military, energy, education, congress, courts, etc.). If you do the math, you will find that spending for entitlements in interest alone exceeds the tax revenue collected. That means we are borrowing money every day to run every other facet of government like the military, etc. Now, Washington talking about the upcoming “fiscal cliff.” After watching the Hal Mason video I came to the conclusion we already went over a cliff. Scary to think our current fiscal crisis can get even worse.

4. Health Care Reform: This was sold to the American people as costing $900 billion. This was done so Obama could say it would not add to the deficit. Now the cost is estimated to exceed $2 trillion. Obama also promised healthcare reform would result in a reduction of health insurance premiums. My health insurance agent, who is the same age and has the same number of children as me, informed me he attended agent training about the bill and what will happen in 2014 when it goes into full force. Based on the information provided, he calculated his premium will go up $300/month, or $3600/year, which means I will experience the same increase. Yet another broken promise, only this one directly hits my pocketbook (& everyone else’s).

5. Iran: Iran is 4 years closer to a nuclear bomb than when Obama took office. Despite what Obama says, the US’s relationship with Israel, our strongest allie in the Middle East, has never been weaker. Most alarming was Obama’s decision to go on “The View” to meet with Whoopi Goldberg and the gang instead of meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister.

6. Al qaeda: Obama deserves credit for authorizing our Navy Seals to kill Bin Laden. However, I think it is fair to say any President would have given the same order and I give more credit to our military and intelligence agency. While Bin Laden’s death was a terrific moral victory, we recently learned Al Qaeda wasn’t “decimated” as claimed. We learned this when an Al qaeda affiliated group attacked the US Consulate in Benghaze, Libya, and killed our ambassador (either before or after raping him according to news reports) and 3 other Americans, and then flew the Al qaeda flag over our consulate. Now I know what Obama means when he says we are leading from behind.

7. Immigration. Obama promised immigration reform in his first term. For the first two years of his presidency he had Democratic majorities in both the Senate and the House. Despite this, he didn’t get it done.

8. Auto Bailout: Both before and after the auto bailout, American automakers faced a built-in disadvantage when compared to foreign automakers, even those with plants in the US. This is because of compensation and benefit contracts with the UAW. Due to these built-in costs, US auto companies incur an increase of cost of approximately $2000 per vehicle manufactured as compared to non-US companies. Had the US auto companies gone through a bankruptcy they would’ve had to make the structural changes necessary to eliminate this disadvantage. Instead, the US taxpayer bailed them out, leaving the structural defects in place which led to the failure in the first place. These defects include $22 billion in unfunded pension liabilities worldwide for GM alone ($10 billion in US alone, according to Bloomberg). The bailout was like handing a drunk man a drink for his drive home. The latest estimate is that the US taxpayer will lose between $20 to $30 billion on the GM portion of the bailout alone. Additionally, it should be noted that as part of the bailout the Obama administration forced hundreds of dealerships to close, costing thousands of jobs. Since dealerships are not owned by the auto companies, and these dealers bought products from the auto companies which were then sold to the public, I don’t understand how eliminating dealers, who ultimately sell the products, helps auto companies. Seems to me that since someone else is footing the bill to keep the dealership open, and the auto companies make their money selling their product to the dealers, the auto companies would benefit from having more dealers to buy and sell their products. I guess I just don’t understand Obamanomics.

9. Gay marriage: Obama was against gay marriage (2008) before he was for it (2012).

10. Leadership: For me, the biggest issue is leadership. I am reading Bob Woodward’s book “The Price of Politics” and have been watching Woodward on TV criticizing Obama’s leadership failure (which is surprising because neither Woodward nor the Washington Post are known for loving conservatives). In the book I learned even the Democratic leaders in Congress are frustrated with Obama’s lack of interaction and communication with them. Most telling is the story of how the White House had to scramble on election eve of 2010 to get John Boehner’s (the Republican minority leader) phone number so Obama could call and congratulate Boehner on presumptively becoming the new Speaker of the House. After 2 years of being President, Obama did not have the phone number of the Republican leader of the US House of Representatives. Incredible! How can you expect to change the tone in Washington DC if the executive branch is not communicating with the leaders of the legislative branch, especially with the leaders of the other party? Even Bush was able to sit down with Ted Kennedy and write an education reform bill in his first term.

The discussion on leadership leads me to a comparison of Obama and Romney. In 2008 I saw nothing in Obama’s history to suggest he was prepared to be President. Four years of Obama has not changed my opinion, especially after seeing him jet off to Vegas for a campaign event on 9/12 with the knowledge that Al qaeda killed our ambassador and had its flag flying over our consulate. Then, for more than a month he and his administration continued the narrative that Benghazi was the result of an anti-Islam video. We now know Obama and White House knew it was an organized attack before Obama landed in Vegas.

Compare Obama’s record with Romney’s and it is not even close. Romney succeeded in private business, saved the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics (and actually turned a deficit into a surplus), then turned a $2 billion deficit in Massachusetts into a balanced budget as governor and lowered unemployment to 4%.

All things considered, it isn’t even close for me. Nevertheless, I know there many good, patriotic folks such as yourself who feel differently; I just hope there are fewer voters who agree with you than agree with me. Not because of my ego, but because I really believe we are at a tipping point and can’t afford 4 more years of policies that have failed in Greece, California, Illinois, New York and other bastions of liberalism.”