I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary Rush Limbaugh!

Friday, August 1, 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh’s historic career on the radio airwaves. Rush has a reported 20 million loyal listeners to his daily 3 hour radio program. He is beloved by those with a conservative mindset, and hated by those who consider themselves liberal and open minded. Limbaugh’s listeners often refer to themselves as ditto heads, which has brought scorn from the liberal critics. The critics cite that the ditto heads are incapable of thinking for themselves and that they wait to be told what to think by Limbaugh. Unfortunately for the critics, the term ditto heads springs from a caller in the early days of Limbaugh’s program. The caller stated that he loved what Rush stood for and prayed that he never went off the air. The next caller simply said, “ditto to what that other guy just said”.

A Pew Research Center study showed that Limbaugh’s listeners are among the most informed citizens in the country. Those of us who listen to Rush on a daily basis, do indeed tend to agree with him more than we disagree, but Rush’s true secret is the ability to make his listeners think. His monologues and unique perspectives inspire his listeners to research the policies and positions of our elected officials. Rush began his national radio show shortly after President Reagan rescinded the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. The Fairness Doctrine was a government mandate that all programs aired over the public airwaves must provide a balance of opposing views. With the Fairness Doctrine a relegated to the ash heap of broadcast history, radio stations quickly lined up for the opportunity to broadcast Limbaugh’s conservative voice. WABC in New York City made the original bet on Limbaugh and it has more than paid off for both WABC and Rush. Limbaugh’s latest reported contract was around $400 million through 2016, which dwarfs Howard Stern’s latest deal of $100 million for 5 years.

Throughout his tenure of the king of all radio, Limbaugh has remained staunchly conservative. His critics have accused him of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Bush administration, but they discount his vehement disagreement with the White House over immigration reform, the Medicare drug plan, the Kennedy “No Child Left Behind” education bill, the Harriett Myers nomination, and numerous other smaller point of conservative contention. Of course when he agrees with the administration he is quick to explain why they are making the right moves. He has been in stalwart support for tax cuts. He has pointed out the fallacy of the media and the liberal politicians that the Bush tax cuts only benefited the rich. Simple math will tell you that if a taxpayer resides in the upper income brackets that any tax cut will be larger in dollar amounts than a taxpayer in the lower brackets. They completely disregard that the bottom bracket was dropped from an oppressive 28% to 15%. In true liberal fashion, they plan to allow all of the tax cuts expire in 2010.

When George H. W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992, the media pundits and liberal elites expressed their glee that this was the end of Rush. They believed that Rush was defeated along with Bush. The next 8 years saw unprecedented growth in radio for Limbaugh. When Al Gore lost to George W. Bush in 2000, the same “experts” predicted that Rush was done again. They believed that with a Republican in the White House, he would have nothing to talk about. Again, they couldn’t have been more wrong. For the past 20 years, the liberal side of the political spectrum has tried everything they could think of to compete, or at least lessen Limbaugh’s effect on their political aspirations. I believe they have finally come to the conclusion that they simply cannot beat him in the free market of ideas. Recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed a plan to bring back the “Fairness Doctrine”. Pelosi is in for long drawn out fight on this issue. Congressman Mike Pence has been working feverishly to obtain enough supporters in the House to permanently bury any form of the “Fairness Doctrine”. Whatever the liberals throw at Limbaugh to shut him up, one thing is certain, at 12:00 P.M. EST Rush Limbaugh will be holding court over the airwaves and millions of faithful listeners will tuning in to hear him.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

How Low Will Congress' Approval Go?

The Rasmussen Reports latest congressional approval tracking data has shown that paltry 9% of Americans believe that Congress is doing a good job. A closer exploration of the numbers reveals that the Democrat controlled Congress is getting abysmal marks not just among Republican voters and independents, but also among their own party loyalists. A mere 13% of those identifying themselves as registered Democrats are willing to give the Congress high marks. The Democratic Party leadership will surely attempt to shift the blame upon the Republican minority or the President, but a cursory examination of their legislative accomplishments sheds the light of truth on the real reasoning behind the historic congressional dissatisfaction.

While Congress has passed a few pieces of legislation that have made headlines this year, they have become increasingly belligerent on even attempting anything of substance on the climbing price of oil. The American voting public is most concerned about the high cost of energy. Poll after poll has shown that the citizenry are demanding that something be done to curb the rapid increase in energy costs. While virtually every credible expert on energy has pointed to the ever-increasing demand for oil from countries like China and India, congressional leadership has chosen to play partisan politics as usual. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that there is no shortage of oil and that drilling for oil will not solve anything. Yet she proposed releasing the equivalent of 3.5 days worth of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. If drilling off our own oil will not solve anything, how will sending 3.5 days worth of oil on to the market solve anything? Pelosi is gambling that the vast majority of the public will hear her sound byte on the evening news and discount that the price at the pump never changes.

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, alluded to the fact that the Democratic leadership would like to use the current high price of gas to move us away from the use of oil. The Democratic Party has decided that the high price of gas is good for us as a country because we will drive less and push for alternative energy sources. The problem with this logic is that the alternative sources are not viable right now. They claim that even if they allowed us to drill in ANWR and offshore we would not see that oil for at least 5 years. At least we would be drilling for our own oil and not be held hostage to the whims of some third world dictator. We would be increasing the supply to meet the increasing demand.

We need to be working on alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, but we also need to be building more nuclear power plants to meet our own demands. We need to be building new refineries in our own country. It makes virtually no sense that there has been no refinery built in the United States for the past 30 years. It makes no sense that we do not tap into our own wealth of oil in our own country, when we are importing more than 70% of our oil. We have, by some estimates, as much or more oil within our own country than in all of the Middle East. Is it any wonder why we have $4 a gallon gas? The opponents scream about the potential for accidents and the potential damage to the environment, but how much oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina blew into Louisiana and Mississippi? After the worst hurricane in history to land in the Gulf States, there was not one drop of oil spilled due the devastating storm.

A few months ago, Senator John McCain proposed a summer hiatus from federal gas taxes, which is currently about 18 cents a gallon. Most in Congress called it pointless because it would not affect the price at the pump significantly. This week a congressional commission, the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, released their recommendations to Congress. Included in their recommendations is a 40 cent a gallon increase in the federal gas tax to help pay for our bridges and highways. Does anyone actually believe that the increase in taxes will ever make it to the bridges and highways? Did the tobacco lawsuit money ever make it to help those afflicted by smoking? While most on the panel do not believe that this will ever come to fruition, it is just another example of why the public does not approve of the job that Congress is doing.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Al Gore Calls For Energy Independence

Former Vice President Al Gore challenged the United States this week to supply all of the country’s electricity by renewable and carbon free sources within 10 years. Gore’s proposal includes investments in solar, wind, and geothermal power. He calls for a promise to all coal and oil workers that they will have guaranteed jobs out in the sun and fresh air. He further calls for no new coal or oil exploration. His stand is one that why waste time and money on energy that will not ever decrease in price.

Gore has chosen an opportune time to bring his proposals into the media spotlight. We are living through a time when gas prices are at record highs, and the public anger is reaching new levels on an hourly basis. The price of a barrel of oil is hovering between $130 and $140. Based on what the news is from day to day, the price rises or drops. President Bush announces that he has rescinded the Presidential ban on offshore drilling, and the price of oil dropped by several dollars. It subsequently rose back up when congressional leaders revealed their intention to do nothing. Recent polls of the general public have shown ever-increasing angst over the rising gas prices. The public is growing weary of all of the political posturing over the price of gas, but seeing zero substantial action coming from Capitol Hill. The most recent proposal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would almost be humorous if it wasn’t such an obvious political stunt for the cameras. Pelosi proposed releasing 10% of our Strategic Petroleum Reserve and halting all of our oil exports. Releasing 10% of the reserves equates to about 70 million barrels. We currently use about 20 million barrels a day as a country. Her plan would have the effect of 3 and half days worth of oil. Halting all of our oil exports is even more laughable than the 10% idea. Last year we exported a total of 10 million barrels of oil. This plan would give us a half a day of oil. Once again Speaker Pelosi has shown us that she is more interested in political posturing than actual solutions. Is it any wonder that the Congress, under Harry Reid and her leadership, has a less than 10% approval rating by the American people?

While I agree with Gore on certain points of his plan, there are others with which I simply cannot agree. I would love to see us use less fossil fuel for energy supply in our country. As of right now, solar, wind and geothermal power are not reliable enough to supply enough power for our country. I do believe that we can get there with future innovations and technological advancements, but as of right now we are not there. We do need to invest in finding alternative methods of supplying our energy, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the known oil that we have right here in our country. We should start more oil exploration to aid in the investment of alternative energy sources. We should look at conservation ideas, but that is not the sole answer to our energy woes. A combination of new oil exploration, building new refineries, building new nuclear power plants, investing in alternative energy supplies, and conservation all have a part to play in the solution.

Gore has made a very lucrative career out of his grandstanding on climate change. He would be much more believable if he lived up to the ideals by which he wants the rest of us to live. He lives in a mansion that consumes 20 times more energy than the national average for a home. By contrast, the “evil” George Bush will retire to his ranch in Crawford, Texas that employs a geothermal heating and cooling system. For all of Gore’s pontificating on carbon emissions and the need to use less energy, it hasn’t stopped from jetting all around the world on private planes and consuming more energy in a month than most of us use all year. I guess Nancy Pelosi isn’t the only one who is more interested in political posturing than actual results.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Is Reverend Jackson Threatened By An Obama Presidency?

Last Sunday, Reverend Jesse Jackson made some comments to a fellow guest on Fox and Friends while they were waiting to go on the air. What Jackson did not realize, was that his microphone was on and caught his remarks on tape. The “good” Reverend asserted his desire to violently remove certain parts of Senator Obama’s nether regions. He made these comments while discussing the presumptive Democratic nominee’s recent remarks on the black community.

First of all, after decades of making television appearances, how could Jackson not realize that his microphone was on? Most media personalities will admit that when the microphone is clipped on to your lapel, you are being recorded. This is event is similar to former President Clinton’s gaffe from a few months ago. Both men made comments from which they had to back away from, and both men did not realize that they were being recorded. Isn’t a comment made while the microphones are perceived to be off, a more credible account of what that person believes? A prepared statement for the cameras is just that, a prepared statement. It is generally a politically correct, sanitized statement to deliver a predetermined message. What a person says in private is a truer representation of their beliefs.

Jackson is not new to critical remarks about Obama. In September of last year, Jackson was caught by a reporter from The State newspaper in South Carolina commenting that Obama is “acting white” in his response to the Jena 6 debacle in Louisiana. Jackson later asserted that the remarks do not accurately reflect his opinion of Senator Obama. He didn’t deny that he made the comments, just that he didn’t recall making them. So what does Jackson think about Obama? His public comments are always full of praise and support, which is not surprising for a political opportunist such as Jackson. His private comments have shown a much different picture of his true feelings for the presidential hopeful.

This will come at quite a shock for many of you, but I actually agree with Senator Obama on an issue. Obama’s comments on Fathers Day in the Apostolic Church of God have one concept that I, and many others from both sides of the aisle have been calling for. That concept is personal responsibility. Obama was speaking about the black community as a whole. He pointed out the prevalence of single parent households, the school dropout rate, the violent crime, and the high rate of unemployment within the black community. His point was that the men in the community needed to take the personal responsibility for their families. He pointed out that studies have shown that a strong family unit is the best deterrent for the rampant problems for which the black community is dealing. I believe that personal responsibility is the answer to many of the problems that the country is dealing with as a whole. This is not just a black community problem it is an American problem. If the citizens of the United States would take responsibility for their own lives and stop expecting the government to fix all that ails them, we would all be much better off. Government does have a role in fixing some of the issues, but it was intended by our founding fathers to be a very limited role. I applaud Senator Obama for challenging the black community and all of us, now if only he would apply the same mentality to the rest of the issues of the day.

Reverend Jackson’s comments have served to highlight his irrelevancy in today’s political and social world. He is quick to criticize Senator Obama, and even Bill Cosby, for a call to action on responsibility, but has done very little to promote personal responsibility with all of the media attention that he has been given over the past few decades. I believe it is time for Reverend Jackson to quietly fade into retirement as a new generation of community activists, with new ideas of responsibility, takes a more prominent role in our society.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

How New And Fresh Is Obama?

The supporters of Senator Barack Obama continuously tout their candidate as a new type of candidate, a man that is positioned above the fray of the political process. A political genius filled with new and exciting ideas to “change” our country. Obama is indeed a new and fresh face in politics. He served 7 years in the Illinois state legislature before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He served just 2 years in the Senate before declaring his candidacy for the office of President. He has relied on his gifted oratory skills to deliver speeches that have inspired a cult-like following. It will come as no surprise that I do not share the same lofty opinion of the junior Senator from Illinois.

First of all, let’s look at a few of the proposals from the Obama campaign. He has offered up his plans for socialized medicine, faith-based initiatives, windfall profits tax on the “big oil” companies, raise taxes on the “rich”, and bring home our troops from Iraq as soon as he is sworn into office to name but a few. None of these ideas are new or fresh. Hillary Clinton first proposed the nationalized health care plan nearly 15 years ago. President Bush was vilified for even considering a faith-based initiative, but Obama’s supporters are preparing for his canonization. Windfall profits tax is a nice throwback to President Jimmy Carter’s days of malaise. Raising the taxes of the “rich” has been the liberal battle cry for decades. Every single Democratic candidate for President, except for Joe Biden, promised to bring home the troops from Iraq on January 21 of 2009.

Senator Obama has been a staunch advocate for public financing of political campaigns since he burst on to the political scene. Now that he has developed a taste for the millions of dollars of private financing, he has decided that public financing is fine for everyone else, just not for him. His weak assertions that the “Republican machine” is poised to unleash their attacks on him and he desperately needs the money to fight the smears have shown that he is nothing more than a typical politician. He will do and say anything that he feels will get him elected.

Over the course of the past few months, several high profile Obama supporters have called into question Senator John McCain’s war record and his heroism. The most recent being General Wesley Clark stating that McCain’s war experience did nothing to enhance his qualifications for the Presidency. I suppose that the General could have had a change of heart over the past 4 years. In 2004 he was praising John Kerry’s war record and touting it as a chief qualification for the office of President. Obama is careful to distance himself enough from the comments to appear shocked at such remarks, but yet never fully repudiating the comments or those making these assertions. Again, this aspect of his campaign is nothing new or fresh. The Clintons perfected this tactic back in the 90’s.

Senator Obama is a very gifted speaker when he is delivering a stump speech. He is obviously a very intelligent man and has surrounded himself with some very politically savvy advisors. Unfortunately the list of his qualifications stops there. Even General Clark made the same assertion, although I doubt he realized it, when he said that Obama is running on his communication skills and not a story about getting shot down in Vietnam. Obama and McCain have very different ideas about what America is and should be. Even their ideas about patriotism are vastly different. McCain believes patriotism is putting your country first, while Obama believes patriotism is that faith we have in each other as Americans. It is quite amusing that for the past 10 years the news media has built up McCain as a maverick and a new type of politician because of his willingness to go against his party’s wishes. Now Obama comes on the scene touting the same ideas that have been brought to the table countless times and he is portrayed as a messianic figure here to save us all with his brand new way of thinking. It doesn’t matter if Chris Matthews has a tingling sensation running up his leg while Obama speaks, he is and always will be just another liberal politician.

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