Sunday, September 12, 2010

My 9/11 Memory

Originally published on my Facebook profile 9/11/10.

Jonelle (my wife) and I had just returned from Raleigh, NC on a job-hunting expedition (which went badly.) We weren't living together yet. My dad woke me at approx. 9:30 in the morning after the first plane hit the WTC. We watched ABC News that morning. After the second plane hit, I called Jonelle. She said it looked like something out of a comic book. If only....

Shortly after, WTAE (local ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh) broke into the coverage. Sally Wiggin, the longtime anchor, looked extremely troubled. My first thought was that a plane was flown into the US Steel building in Pittsburgh. At the time, it was the tallest building in the US between New York and Chicago. I had worked there for PNC Bank from Summer 1998 until Spring 2000, and there were still people I knew that worked there.

She reported instead on Flight 93.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More fun links....ok maybe not "fun" except one.

A few interesting, under-the-radar links:

Krauthammer at his awesomest.

For anyone that thinks the MSM is still unbiased. The fact that ABC is attempting these shenanigans is semi-surprising. I thought with Jake Tapper getting a little more play; they were starting to get their house in order.

The final serious article is from a liberal questioning other libs about why multiculturalism has seemingly trumped Islamic religious abuses. It's quite good, but I have serious issues with the second-to-last sentence:

This muddled thinking allows the American religious and political Right to misrepresent itself as the chief defender of Enlightenment values.

So wrong. No one ideology has an exclusive license to defend Enlightenment values. "Political correctness" and relativism have become greater priorities for the Left than freedom and liberty. The Right is filling a moral vacuum. Ideally, all Americans (and anyone else who considers themselves part of or allied with "the West") would be united against stoning, genital mutilation, execution for apostasy and honor killings that mar Islam.

Now that I got that off my chest; here's something we all can enjoy.....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Some articles from the past couple weeks...

Haven't had much time to blog seems to get in the way. But here are some articles from the last 10 days or so that moved me to post them to my Facebook page.

From Ace of Spades - he doesn't mince words.

A local story from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review about the former President of Indiana University of Pa.
If you care how your tax dollars are spent; you will be disgusted.

A great editorial on how tolerance that makes you think about whether the Left is reprising Chamberlain:

This cartoon:

Ann Coulter nails the Left on their inconsistency....again:

A nice article from Bloomberg on the failure of the Obama administration's Keynesian economic policies:

Finally another article on the GZM and tolerance by the inimitable Christopher Higgins:

For now, I'm tired, but I plan to post more soon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What President Obama should've said Friday night...

As anyone who pays attention now knows, President Obama on Friday night came out in support of the proposed mosque/community center to be built two blocks from Ground Zero. In his speech to Islamic leaders at an Iftar, which celebrates the breaking of the fast during Ramadan, the President cited our Constitution, President Obama stated per Politico:

“Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground...but let me be clear: As a citizen and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

In the humble opinion of this writer, this is what President Obama should've said to the assembled Islamic leaders:

"Per our Constitution, Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.

As President, I cannot speak out against the proposed mosque. However as a citizen, I implore the planners to reconsider the location. The leaders of the Cordoba Institute have stated several times that their rationale to build this mosque at this location is to "build bridges" between Muslims and the rest of America. Protests by the families of 9/11 victims, New Yorkers and fellow Americans indicate that this project will have the opposite effect.

Freedom of religion is enshrined in our Constitution and must be protected. However, freedom of speech is likewise enshrined. While local, state and federal authorities will protect your right to worship, we will also protect the rights of others to speak out against what they deem to be a grave insult.

So I request again that the Cordoba Institute reconsider their choice of location. Regardless of their decision, I highly encourage complete transparency in the financing, building and operations of your place of worship. Already the trust of fellow citizens has been diminished and must be rebuilt.

I predict failure on both fronts will lead to alienation from fellow Americans. In the months after 9/11, the vast majority of Americans understood the tremendous differences between the terrorists who committed those heinous acts and other, peaceful Muslims. I fear those crucial differences, in the minds of many, will diminish, leading to widespread alienation that will be difficult to overcome."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Some articles that I found interesting...

Most of these are from early this week. I know it's kind of lazy to post links, but I thought these were good. They're not all political either.

Some good news for pet owners:

‎"the ideal they share: a future society that will end all alienation, vice, and unhappiness forever by submerging the individual in the bliss of the righteous collective."

And the revolution continues to eat its own children:

My wife and I have eaten at Harris Grill twice in the last couple months and really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why I like Fantasy Football

I'm entering my seventh year playing fantasy football. Some people don't grasp and even belittle the concept. I think it serves an interesting purpose in the cubicle/service industry age in which we currently find ourselves.

1. It builds camaraderie among co-workers and associates. My first league contains mostly co-workers and it was great way to get to know people outside of the work setting.

2. There's a mental aspect to the game that can't be denied! A lot of people, even fellow players, believe luck is the dominant characteristic. In my experience, I've found that you make your own luck and when bad luck hits; how you react can make the difference between having a respectable, winning season and having a miserable one.

3. For me, the competition is a lot of fun. It fills a competitive need that my other activities just don't provide. While I am physically active, I don't participate in any competitive sports. Didn't do it in high school either, mostly due to lack of ability. Winning and losing and corresponding thrill and agony are a lot of fun. Even the losing part!

4. I have a couple friends who play in family leagues and it seems like a great way to bring family together.

5. When your team isn't having a good year, it's a great distraction.

Coming off two championships last year and having negative experiences in the past (a two-win season, losing in heartbreaking manner in the playoffs a couple times), I've experienced it all now. I'll continue to play and enjoy the game. And I recommend it to all football fans. The key to enjoying it is to not get obsessed (which I was the first couple years) and remember IT'S ONLY A GAME.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The "should-be" standard-bearers of the NFL

After Brett Favre's 3 attempted retirements, I think it's safe to say everyone (fans, media, probably teammates, coaches and even Brett's dog) is sick and tired of his prima donna act. Between him, Big Ben and Brady's model wife telling every mother to breast-feed, it's easy to forget that there are exceptional quarterbacks in the NFL that aren't embroiled in some type of controversy.

First up, Drew Brees of the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. He is an all-around good guy, eschewing the larger market Miami Dolphins to join the Saints when he hit free agency only a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Big Easy. Happily married, he's thrown himself into the community. Brees also has overcame a negative relationship with his now deceased mother. The fact that he is the league's smallest starting QB makes the tremendous success he's had on the field all the more impressive.

Aaron Rodgers is the other QB that I wish was more prominent in the national conversation. ESPN the Magazine (sorry, can't link it) has a great article on the Green Bay Packers QB and how he worked through disappointment after disappointment throughout his football career, including a non-relationship with would-be mentor Brett Favre. Rodgers also QBed both my fantasy teams to championships last year, which I suppose makes me somewhat biased.

When following the run-up to the start of the NFL season this summer, don't forget about these quarterbacks from "flyover country." Not only are they good guys, but they'll probably outplay those other guys that get all the attention.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Go Mo!

Well Missouri has passed Proposition C overwhelmingly with over 70% of the vote. The MSM is already trying to poo poo it due to the Supremacy Clause and by claiming much of the support came from voters opting for Republican ballots. (MO has open primaries, allowing voters to choose their party regardless of registration.)

This is yet another harbinger for Democrats and their supporters that their control of the House, and hopefully the Senate as well, will likely slip through their tax-and-spending mitts in 90 short days.



After an over six-week sabbatical, I've decided to broaden the horizons of this humble blog to include other items of interest and other goings-on in my personal life (without getting too personal, of course.) Politics and conservative/libertarian thought will still be a focus, but a lot of other things will, hopefully, pop up here in the near future. Entertainment topics, sports, comic books (yes, I like those things) and music will all be featured here from time to time.

And with only 90 short days to go until the most important election in 30 years, I don't think there's a better time to give this (yes, I know) a third serious-go.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Oil Spill - What no one is saying...

It's interesting that many on the Left want to use the Gulf oil spill as a justification to ban all off-shore drilling. Not surprisingly, Charles Krauthammer sets them straight.

However, while this is a good argument for shallow-water drilling as well as drilling off the Alaska coast, I find it neglects land-based sources of energy. These sources including oil from oil sands, natural gas and coal (taking into account the recent Massey mine tragedy of course) would generally be safer for workers and problems that do occur could be much more easily confined rather than sloshing up and down coastlines. (In econ speak, we could reduce the externalities.)

If the Obama administration was serious about increasing energy production at home, they would use this disaster as justification for increased energy exploration on-shore. Instead we get the same old bromides about cap-and-trade and carbon emissions about an "danger" that fewer and fewer people believe exist. Thanks, President Obama for always having your priorities straight.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Critz wins. But wait, there's hope...

Well Mark Critz won this round. One encouraging sign is that Republican turnout has room to grow in November. The Democrats had the more interesting statewide primary races for the U.S. Senate and Governor. That will NOT be a factor in November.

As for the other races, I'm pleased by the results. While Spector would have been an easier target in the General; I take some satisfaction that he has lost in the Primary to, what appears to be, a decent human being.

Who did the other 2% vote for?

Early results (on Hannity of all places) show Critz with a 58-40 lead with 20% of precincts reporting.

Who did the other 2% vote for? If it's Russell and the difference results in a Critz win it will be a shame.

Election Day - A good one so far...

This has been a special day for an unlikely reason. My father had surgery today and pulled through better than anyone expected. I'll spare the details, but I was pretty concerned going in...

We also have a good friend, who will be having a complicated surgical procedure done tomorrow. We're praying for the best news...again.

Hopefully the good news will continue as results are reported in tonight's Special Election between Tim Burns and Mark Critz. Latest polls showed the race too close to call. I'm guessing nothing will be known for sure until morning.

As for the other races - for Senator, I am supporting Pat Toomey. He's is the type of fiscal conservative that we need more of in Washington.

For Governor, I believe Tom Corbett is the best choice. His actions as PA State Attorney General show integrity and a commitment to reform in the State Capitol.

Wow! A short post. Didn't think I had it in me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Open Letter to Bill Russell Supporters

A recent poll from Susquehanna Polling and Research shows the Democrat, Mark Critz, building a lead on the Republican nominee, Tim Burns in next Tuesday's Special Election for the 12th Congressional District. The margin listed was 44 to 38 in favor of Critz. It's important to remind those supporters of Bill Russell who are considering writing him in what is at stake.

The Democrat, Mark Critz, will most likely go along with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat leadership in voting for amnesty for illegal immigrants, a revised cap-and-trade bill and other items destined to increase our debt and further strip away our freedoms. Considering the narrow margin that passed the much-maligned health care bill, it is possible that Mr. Critz could be a deciding vote on at least one major piece of legislation between now and January 2011.

A write-in vote for Bill Russell in the Special Election, in a majority Democrat district, will only split conservative and independent votes; throwing the election to Critz. To Mr. Russell's credit, his campaign ads have been focused on the Republican primary.

The rationale for writing in Mr. Russell seems to be based on a perceived lack of fairness in how Mr. Burns was selected for the Republican nomination. Let's review a few issues relating to this process:

1. Mr. Murtha passed away February 8th. With the primary already scheduled for May 18th, that's only little more than a 3 month time span. So we are dealing with a tight time frame and a term that is already over 50% complete.

2. Governor Rendell, for once, made the prudent decision to schedule the Special Election on the same day as the primary. Considering the current fiscal situation in the state, Murtha's passing was actually well-timed (if such a thing can be said) from the taxpayers' standpoint. Had Mr. Murtha passed on a few months prior, the pressure to hold a stand-alone special election would've been enormous and costly for taxpayers.

3. Mr. Russell ran a spirited campaign against John Murtha in 2008, a very difficult year for Republicans.

4. Mr. Burns announced his campaign for the Republican nomination several months before Mr. Murtha showed signs of ill health.

And yet, some Russell supporters are apparently not satisfied with just pursuing the Republican nomination for a full term. While allowing all Republican voters their say in the Special Election nomination would've been ideal, for the reasons stated above, it just wasn't practical or cost-effective for taxpayers.

Had John Murtha lived, we would simply be left with a spirited primary race between two dissimilar candidates with similar views.

Instead we have a truncated process and hard feelings from a substantial block of conservative voters. If Mark Critz prevails over Tim Burns in the Special Election due to write-in votes for Mr. Russell, Murtha will be laughing at his conservative constituents from the grave, knowing that if he had to move on to his final reward when he did, at least the timing would throw his opponents into disunity and chaos.

While it is considered rude to speak ill of the dead, I believe having Mark Critz win this race solely because of divisions within the Republican Party would be Mr. Murtha's final insult to the principled citizens of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Obama Administration expands Affirmative Terrorists?!?!

In a not-so-startling development, the Obama administration announced a new program designed to "increase diversity among those who seek to implement man-caused disasters within our borders."

The program will be implemented in phases and overseen by Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano. "There is a tremendous need to increase the diversity of man-caused disaster makers beyond the typical adherents of the religion-we-can't-name who's prophet-can't-be-seen-shown-or-ridiculed. We need more white, African-American, Latino and east Asian targets for predator drone attacks. The Jonas Brothers just aren't enough."

Applicants will be trained in various tactics including bomb-making, IED placement and target shooting at military installations across the United States. Of particular interest will be white, Anglo-Saxon males who have attended Tea Parties in the past 12 months. "This is a target demographic," according to the Secretary.

Evading airport security will also be emphasized. "We have to prove that our policy of targeting grandmothers and infants for greater inspection at airports is sound, so any retired folks that are bored at home we encourage to apply. Especially if they're white."

But the program isn't just seeking to increase ethnic diversity among man-caused disaster makers. Religious diversity is very important too. "Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus -- all will be welcome. But no atheists or Wiccans, please. We do have a reputation to uphold."

Reaction to the new program was mixed with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decrying the added expense to increase the diversity of individuals who try to kill us. MSNBC's Contessa Brewer however was upbeat in her assessment:

"I'm glad our government has finally realized that it isn't whether an attempted man-caused disaster is successful or not, but that the perpetrators reflect the diversity of our society. The fear I have of outdated bigotry has subsided and my frustration has finally been abated."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Left's weird relationship with risk and the misery that results...

While I was on vacation a couple stories broke that crystallize how the elite Left views risk of various types. The first of these was the Icelandic volcano eruption and resulting ash cloud that enveloped much of Europe. Much of the airspace over Europe was closed for up to six days stranding travelers and wreaking havoc on commerce and the European airline industry. (Fortunately my own European vacation was not affected as my wife and I arrived in Paris a few hours before the eruption and returned a few days after the bans were lifted.)

If such an event had happened in the US, the Federal Aviation Administration would have informed the airlines of where the ash cloud was and advised against flying into it. Individual airlines, and subsequently their passengers, would have been able to decide for themselves if the risk merited grounding their aircraft. Not so in Europe, where bureaucrats know to play the "c.y.a." game that is.

It took British Airways, KLM and Air France to send up test flights 3-4 days into the ban, showing no damage to the plane engines, before the regulators would relent. In the meantime, those airline and others have lost hundreds of millions. Stranded passengers have lost thousands as they've racked up credit card debt and dipped into savings to sustain themselves in airports all over the world.

Now to be fair, this event was unprecedented, however test flights should have began within a day or two. A day or two closure was probably prudent, but the individual airlines should have been permitted to assume the risk and consequently their passengers as well.

Meanwhile, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has sparked outrage from the Left with one democrat congressman proposing suspending all current offshore drilling. This is a wonderful idea if your idea of a good time is paying $5/gallon for gas. I suppose the next time there's a fatal traffic accident all automotive traffic should be suspended as well.

BP, and other energy companies, assume considerable risk when drilling. Obviously, considerable fines will be levied against BP (assuming they are at fault and this isn't a bizarre "ends justify the means" form of eco-terrorism) and steps must be taken to minimize the chances of an event like this happening in the future.

On a related matter, John Kerry and others continue to push their cap-and-trade scheme, ostensibly to save the world from Global Warming, a phenomenon that has been widely discredited since the Climategate emails story broke in November. On an unrelated matter, the Obama administration apparently thinks Iran will just hold a giant fireworks display (Location: east coast of the Mediterranean) when they master nuclear weapons. Oddly, they think nothing could possibly go wrong while taking over 1/6th of the economy with a massive health care bill that many of their Congressional supporters didn't even read.

So to sum things up, the Left believes any risk regarding the environment as too great, but hostile radical Islamic regimes having nukes is just something we need to learn to live with. Those Islamic terrorists that want to kill and subjugate everyone that doesn't worship Allah the way they do? Well, they're just misunderstood. At least European bureaucrats just want to cover their own asses.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Decisions, decisions...

Unfortunately, the frequency of posts has suffered quite a bit after a promising start. Fortunately, I will be taking my long-planned vacation for 11 days. If I have time, I may post while on vacation, but I am not planning on it. After I return (on the week of the 26th), I plan to increase my frequency, in part, by concentrating on shorter posts. Wish me luck on that.

Until then, here's a quick preview of what I hope to be talking about soon:

1. The PA-12 Special Election and GOP Primary. The Special will be one of the only races where a direct rebuke of the Democrats agenda is possible. As I promised before, this will be controversial and rile some people up. With the election not until May 18th, I feel it's best to postpone comment until we get a little closer.

2. My profile of a little band from England that has inspired me to blog and get more involved. And reasons why I think they may just be a tiny bit Libertarian and why they'll never admit to it.

3. How the term "critical thinking" has been absconded by the Left. And what the Right can do about it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Read and React: Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms

Taken from the New York Times.

One of the only things I have been happy about regarding President Obama has been the use of Predator drones in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border regions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. I've also been pleased that he has pushed our allies to supply more troops to the Af/Pak theater. This new nuclear policy is the equivalent of placing a one ton block on the other side of a scale that holds a couple one pound weights.

I am deeply disturbed by this. Obama is basically sending an invitation to any terrorist actor or hostile nation to attack us using any means BUT nuclear. What will he do if an American city comes under chemical attack? Unleash the mustard gas? Please.

Our nuclear weapons are our greatest deterrent against ANY type of attack by ANY nation. To limit the use of nuclear arms to a small list of nations that doesn't include Iran (for now), Venezuela, Syria, Libya or Cuba is foolish at best, masochistic at worst.

It's time for a brave Congressman (or woman) to draw up Articles of Impeachment.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

This has been a hectic week, hence no posts. Nothing earth-shattering, just assisting various family members with various things. All at once.

However I have been working on, what I believe to be, my most important and controversial post to date. Without giving too much away, it regards the PA-12 Special Election and Republican Primary. Considering that this is the holiest weekend in the calendar, I will hold off on publishing this for a couple days.

To everyone reading this, have a happy Easter and remember that it's not about bunnies and eggs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Read and React: So what do lawyers and PA beer distributors have in common anyway?

This is the first of what I hope will be many posts where I showcase an article that struck me as profound. I would advise reading the article first before continuing on. So here's the link:

This is the system we should be copying from the UK. The implications of legal reform that allows additional competition as well as market segmentation are potentially huge. First, the obvious points. More competition by "non-lawyer" or alternative sources for basic services like wills, estates and so on will drive the cost of these legal services down. Second, a point the author makes, market segmentation/specialization will increase the quality of these services and consumer satisfaction.

So what do lawyers and PA beer distributors have in common? They're both rent-seekers of the highest order. Rent-seeking is the practice of using the government/law to limit, or even eliminate, competition. This usually takes the form of some type of licensing controlled by the government or a trade association. To get a license to practice law, you have to pass the bar. To get a beer distributorship, well in PA anyway, let's just say you have to know the right people.

When anyone proposes allowing other entities to enter the market (LegalZoom, the Sheetz convenience store chain) the bar and beer distributors (pun intended) stomp their feet like toddlers, afraid that they'll have to work a little harder, or a little more efficiently, for our business. Worse still, consumers are denied quality service and lower prices as a result. In the legal field, according to Hadfield, many people just give up. Not so for people who want beer, but I digress.

An additional implication for a more open legal market could be a reduction in the perceived need for larger government in some quarters. If consumers with access to inexpensive legal advice could solve relatively minor disputes with car repair shops, financial institutions and...let's insurers, we could certainly justify fewer regulations and less bureaucracy. This would lower taxes and costs for everyone. Plus we'll have less sob stories, real and imagined.

Maybe Laurence Tribe will push for a more open legal market.

Maybe he can use his influence to get the bar to drop their class action against LegalZoom. (I'm sure the judges will be impartial in that case.)

Maybe Tribe, an Obama appointee, will have the guts to bite the trial lawyers' hands that feed the Democrat Party.

And President Obama, Vice President Biden and Nancy Pelosi will hold a mass resignation ceremony tomorrow at 11:15AM.

One can dream, can't he?

Gut Reaction to Likely Passage of the HC Bill

I feel like the battle is just getting started. There are several means to overturn this horrible bill:

1. The courts - I hate leaving this big an issue up to them, however.

2. Repeal the bill - There's a range of attitudes on this option from extremely positive (Kristol) to extremely negative (Krauthammer.) I personally think this is doable, especially when you consider Prohibition.

Of course, to repeal the bill, we'll need to elect as many Republicans who are willing as possible in the next two election cycles. Time to work hard for your candidates.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Q&A - Burns-Russell Town Hall

The Q&A portion of the Town Hall was handled well by the Indiana-Armstrong County Patriots. The first questions was, of course, regarding what changes need to be made to our current health care system. As Mr. Russell gave the first opening statement, Mr. Burns gave the first answer to this question. The candidates alternated back and forth throughout. I will try to stick with the high points, avoiding the obvious questions:

?: On changes to the current health care system -

Burns: He believes small bills should be put forward that address different problems and present different solutions, including purchasing insurance across state lines and tort reform. He also spoke about establishing association health care plans so individuals that do not have the same employer can purchase insurance at a cheaper rate. Finally he spoke about extending the current tax deduction afforded to employers to individuals.

Russell: Focused more on fixing Medicare, because it doesn't pay enough to health care providers. He would do this by providing vouchers to individuals so they can choose how Medicare funds are spent. He believes this will save $200 billion and help to reintroduce shopping functions into the health care process. He also supports tort reform and believes market forces can drive costs down.

?: On abstaining from out-of-office benefits (retirement, health care following service) for members of Congress -

Russell: Wants to adjust the current system to benefit long-standing members who serve at least 20 years. Referenced Federalist 54 by James Madison.

Burns: Believes in term limits due to the money given to incumbents. Informed the audience that the Realtors association gives equal amounts of money to both parties.

? - Position regarding the 2nd Amendment -

Russell: Usually carries a .38 on his ankle.

Burns: Cast his own bullets from discarded lead as a child. Told the story of how his son won a rifle at an NRA conference.

? - Constitutionality of health insurance mandate for individual insurance

Burns: If this is required, then what's next?

Russell: He stated that we should rein in the FDA, EPA and Departments of Commerce and Education and return these duties to the states.

? - Graft and bribes committed by the Administration and Democratic leadership to pass HC

Russell: The San Joaquin Valley had water shut off for environmental reasons. If the rep from that area votes for HC, the water will be turned back on. In war, shutting off a water supply is considered a war crime.

Burns: Calls this evil.

? - Cap and Trade

Burns: Wrong on many counts. Burns does not believe in global warming and if this passes manufacturers will go overseas where energy is cheaper. Government needs to get out of the way so we can have energy independence.

Russell: It would be a sledgehammer to the coal and energy industries. Another concern are the green codes for housing and commercial buildings - these will make it very difficult to sell homes and destroy our mobility.

? - National Security - how do we enable our armed forces while ensuring benefits?

Russell - Jet fuel, for the Air Force and airlines, should be derived from coal. Implement vouchers for the VA, similar to his proposed Medicare voucher system

Burns - In addition to Russell's answer, we need to approach national security with a different attitude. Military tribunals for KSM and others. We shouldn't try to appease and shouldn't apologize for kicking the crap out of them.

? - Borders

Russell - Build the wall on the southern border and mine it. Deport illegals who commit criminal acts and deny welfare. Implement the fair tax - this way even illegals pay into the system.

Burns - Change the law so children born to illegals in this country do not automatically become citizens.

? - Audit the Federal Reserve

Both candidates would push to audit the federal reserve.

? - How do we convince state & local governments that money from the federal govt. is not free?

Burns - individuals need to stay motivated - the recent congressional Republican moratorium on earmarks show that this is working.

Russell - there is no more federal money to give.

? - Tax System

Russell - replace the entire tax system with a national consumption sales tax or a flat tax.

Burns - 2nd highest corporate income tax in the world needs to be reduced.

? - Vote for your opponent in the primary

Russell - Would vote for Burns over John Murtha.

Burns - Did vote for Russell over John Murtha.

(This sequence generate laughter from the audience. A question about support was asked a little later. Both candidates would support the other in the general election.)

? - Unions within the government

Burns - this is a conflict of interest

Russell - no place for unions in government. They don't need a union.

? - Constitutionality of foreign aid

Burns - it is provided the aid is in our best interest. We need to cut the funding for the UN - we are funding the enemy.

Russell - it is, but it is not popular. Derides aid to Brazil for drilling oil offshore.

? - How would you marginalize the current Iranian regime and support the opposition in Iran?

Burns - they are our enemy because they tell us so. We should act accordingly.

Russell - utilize Radio Free Iran and Voice of America so we can tell our story to the Iranian people in Farsi.

Conclusions: I came away impressed with both candidates. Russell showed a great deal of knowledge on several fronts, while Burns seemed to want to draw lines in the sand opposing Democrat positions. I found this to be an interesting role reversal.

While both candidates came across as sincere, Burns at times expressed a reluctance that is very refreshing. It's almost as if he wants the nomination more due to a sense of duty then anything else. Meanwhile Russell stated he has put his family on hold for 2 1/2 years to fight for this position. He obviously has a lot invested in the primary. Both have some obvious strengths and weaknesses based in large part on their backgrounds.

I went into last night leaning toward one candidate in the primary. I still am leaning that way, but the other candidate narrowed the gap considerably. Regardless of who wins the primary, the Republican Party, Tea Party Movement and conservative-leaning independents will have a great candidate in November.

Of more pressing concern is the Special Election, I know I stated this in a prior post, but it is imperative that Tim Burns wins this election. Health care, regardless of how it turns out, will not be the final battle to be fought in this Congress. Cap and Trade and Amnesty are heading our way and we need a solid conservative voice representing what I truly believe is a solid conservative district.

Burns-Russell Town Hall

I attended the Burns-Russell Town Hall last night at the Quality Inn, just outside Indiana, PA and came away impressed with both candidates. There are very few policy differences between the two Republicans vying for the late John Murtha's seat and both appear to have the citizens' best interests at heart.

Before delving into the candidates' opening statements and Q&A from the audience, I want to thank the Indiana-Armstrong County Patriots for hosting the event. They did a great job keeping everything moving along and everyone who attended that wanted to ask a question got the chance. A few folks asked multiple questions.

The candidates were given 5 minutes each to deliver opening statements. Bill Russell discussed his military career, including his six years at the Pentagon and vast experience working with people all over the world. In the aftermath of 9/11, he worked with FEMA on plans to start the recovery in New York. While he wants to brings jobs to the area, his methods differ from Mr. Murtha's. He believes natural resources - including coal and natural gas - are key to revitalizing western Pennsylvania and that energy independence is key to national security.

Tim Burns outlined his business experience, including founding a software company that serviced the pharmacy industry in 1992. In 11 years, he grew the company to 400 employees with a nationwide reach before selling the company. Since then, he has worked with non-profits on a volunteer basis, including flood relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as well as serving on a board of a non-profit focusing on special needs children. Mr. Burns organized the first Tea Party in Washington County. His motivation to run for Congress are his children and feels a responsibility to them to serve.

Burns then briefly discussed the Special Election to be held concurrently with the Primary on May 18th. In the Special Election, Burns will face off against Mark Critz, Mr. Murtha's top aide, to complete Mr. Murtha's current term. Burns emphasized that "no matter who you support in the primary, we need to support the conservative." He questioned Critz's position on the current health care reform bill, which is currently unknown. Burns also rallied the room to continue opposing the health care bill.

I want to echo Mr. Burns comments. In a short period of time, I've developed a lot of respect for both Mr. Burns and Mr. Russell and I haven't quite decided which to support in the primary. To any Russell supporters reading this, it is IMPERATIVE that Burns wins the special election. Regardless of what happens with Obamacare this weekend, there will be other battles to fight, including cap and trade, amnesty for illegals and card check. We must have a conservative in this seat to help in opposing these wrong-headed policies. for the Q&A:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tim Burns-Bill Russell Town Hall

Going to the Tim Burns-Bill Russell Town Hall in Indiana this evening. Fearing I wouldn't make it due to a mother-in-law car problem, but everything worked out ok. Report on the Town Hall hopefully tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Some housekeeping...

First off, this isn't me:

Neither is this:

Just for clarification, this is me:

Unfortunately, the video only shows the warm up to everything else, I talked about.

(And yes, I'll have to learn how to post actual videos. Probably will revise this post at that time.)

Meanwhile, this is a nice story, but....I didn't mention anything regarding the fall of the Roman Empire. That was Mr. Choby and while I agree with that sentiment if everything Obama/Pelosi/Reid wants comes to pass, I'm slightly more optimistic.

My goal is to post 3-4 times per week to start. My "Muse" post is coming soon.

Friday, March 12, 2010

More about the other night...

In my first post, I talked a lot about what I had to say at the Conferees' Event. I thought it was also important to talk about why I decided to attend and speak.

I'm not seeking political office, nor do I plan to in the near future. For me, it is about the ideas and saying the things that others may not want to say right now due to the present political climate. I had nothing to lose and I knew that when I decided to "throw my hat in the ring." This was a good forum for presenting ideas and, based on the response by several attendees, I gave people something to think about. That was the best case scenario in my book.

The most surprising thing was how much I have to think about as a result of several conversations I had throughout the evening.

As of now, I plan to maintain this blog and get involved with the local party. Out of respect for the attendees, I will recuse myself from actively supporting either Mr. Burns or Mr. Russell in the primary, but will obviously support Mr. Burns in the special election. Either man will make an excellent candidate in the general and I enjoyed conversing with both of them, along with members of their staffs Thursday evening. Mr. Choby and Mr. Robertson were also very interesting to speak to as well.

Finally, I want to thank the staff for the event. Everyone was great to deal with and I really appreciated how all the candidates were treated equally well throughout the evening.

Quick preview of my next post: How a most-likely left-of-center British rock band is inspiring me to be more active.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

So it begins...

Tonight I did something crazy. I "attempted" to win the nomination to complete the late John Murtha's term as Congressman from PA's 12 Congressional District. Having no money and no popular support, I knew I didn't stand a chance. But the reason I did this was to talk about issues that few people are discussing.

First, a quick note on the format. Each candidate was permitted to speak for 5 minutes, followed by a 10 minute Q&A.

I chose to speak about two issues that I feel are important, but due to the current political climate and the overwhelming air taken by the healthcare debate, aren't put out there by anyone:

1. The negative influence of public sector unions in the federal government. Quite simply, everything the federal government does costs more to us, the taxpayers. I outlined three pieces of legislation that need to be repealed/reversed in order to mitigate the additional costs.

a. The Davis-Bacon Act - which mandates prevailing wages/fringe benefits be paid to any contractors on federal projects in excess of $2,500. (And if there are any federal project that cost less than that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.)

b. The McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act - which mandates the same for service employees employed by the federal govt.

c. President Kennedy's Executive Order 10988 - this allowed collective bargaining for federal employees. Something FDR was actually opposed to during his time in office.

The economic impact of these changes are pretty obvious. Reducing personnel costs and the cost of federal projects can play a substantial part in reducing our deficit. In addition, there is a moral impact in that federal employees can negotiate with elected officials who, in turn, receive campaign contributions and support from unions representing those same federal employees. Ending this incestuous relationship will increase efficiencies and decrease costs.

2. Ending the employer tax credit for health care benefits and transferring the credit to individuals. During WWII, FDR put this in place to prevent wage inflation from hampering the war effort. This distorted the market for healthcare by removing the enduser from the cost/benefit analysis on healthcare decisions. Health insurers are also accountable to human resource managers rather than individuals. Instead it's time to think about healthcare like we think about any other product or service. I'll start with the demand side of the economic equation.

a. Sever the connection between employment and health insurance by ending the tax-favored status for employers by transferring it to individuals via Health Savings Accounts. This will drive down prices by making health insurers accountable to individual consumers not just a relatively paltry number of HR managers.

b. End most state and federal mandates on what health insurers must provide. This will enable insurers to provide lower cost options to consumers.

Now on to the supply side...i.e. number of insurers.

c. Allow consumers to purchase health insurance across state lines. This will increase competition in the health insurance market, further driving down prices.

Reducing regulation and eliminating state barriers could also bring more competitors into the market, further driving down costs.

In the end, these are things that are not being discussed or seriously considered at this time. On healthcare, instead of viewing it as a right or a necessity, we need to allow consumers to make their own decisions and bring more competitors into all 50 states.

I realize that passing any of this, even with a substantial Republican majority and a Republican in the White House will be difficult. And that there are more pressing issues at hand. But, I truly believe things are going to turn around very quickly. And the right-center coalition that's starting to form in the country will have to be ready to enact reforms that will have substantive impact, both in fixing past mistakes and in enhancing our strengths as a nation.

If anyone I met this evening is reading this; thank you for the encouragement and kind words. I'll talk a little more about the evening itself sometime tomorrow.