Monday, June 13, 2011

Post New Hampshire GOP Debate Wrap-Up

Calm Stage Before the NH Debate
(Courtesy: AP)
My earliest reaction to tonight's debate is that Newt Gingrich was, without question, the winner. That begs the question, then, where would Gingrich be without his early missteps? Unfortunately, there is no good answer to the question.

So, why did Gingrich win the debate? As I noted in a previous post, Gingrich's flair for debating should never be taken lightly. It is clear that the man is highly intellectual, knows the issues, and is able to recall his knowledge at outstanding rate. For these reasons, Gingrich set himself apart from the rest of the crowd by coming up with original answers to questions. For example, off the top of my head, Gingrich answered that the first step in ensuring that all Americans have the right to work is to defund the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The other candidates mostly talked about right to work laws in the States. It should be noted that Cain did add an excellent point to Gingrich's by noting that the NLRB was really nothing more than a "back door" way for the government to regulate business.

Speaking of Cain, that really brings up the next set of debate winners. Just like I noted in my last post, Bachmann and Cain would be largely seen as competing against each other for the same base. At the end of the night, it seems as though the two came in tied for second. To be honest, that should be seen as a good sign for each of them. Dick Morris has noted throughout the night that he believes that Bachmann may have slightly edged Cain. Even so, I believe that the two each had their good moments. Cain scored a big win in discussing how he would reform both Medicare and Social Security. In particular, Cain noted that our commitment to elderly Americans who planned for Social Security can be met while the program is phased out overall. This can be done by allowing younger Americans to have private accounts--while still paying some into the system to support older Americans. Bachmann's greatest moment was her inspiring answer on abortion--noting her own five children and the more than twenty children she and her husband have taken in.

The next two were Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Of course, everyone knows that Ron Paul is largely libertarian. This fact has gotten him in trouble with more mainstream Republicans in the past. Tonight, however, Paul's answers, for the most part, were impressive and on target. He very much clearly identified problems and noted how the government made the problems in the first place. Put differently, more government certainly wasn't the answer--it was what got us there! Mitt Romney, in typical frontrunner fashion, appeared to adequately defend is turf and not stray far from his jobs and economy message. This included him asking why they were even talking about Don't Ask Don't Tell when they should be talking about the economy. That didn't exactly instill confidence in social conservatives.

To discuss Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum at this point is not to say that they didn't do well. Instead, it is exactly as Herman Cain acknowledged--this is a very strong field of GOP candidates. Both Pawlenty and Santorum looked excellent at times. Pawlenty had some excellent answers--especially when he took Vice-President Biden to task for his lack of foreign policy leadership. This is despite the fact that Biden was supposedly well qualified in this area. To me, Santorum's best answer was when he discussed President Obama's lack of foreign policy leadership. As Santorum rightly noted, the president has turned his backs on our friends and has embraced our enemies. That is certainly something that cannot stand!

So, those are my early thoughts on tonight's debate? Don't agree with me--share your thoughts! Also, vote in the poll about who you think won tonight's debate.

As always, check back here for the latest commentary in all things political and newsworthy!

Watch New Hampshire GOP Primary Tonight

Make sure to watch the 2012 GOP New Hampshire Debate on CNN at 8 PM Eastern. The players are largely the same as the previous GOP debate in South Carolina.

Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain will attempt to build on his widely touted victory in the South Carolina debate. He will seemingly be battling against Rep. Michele Bachmann for the votes of social conservatives and tea party enthusiasts.

Except a stellar performance from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as he seeks to rebound from some early campaign stumbles. To be certain, his ability to debate should serve him well in this contest.

Both former Senator Rick Santorum and former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will be looking to leave the debate tonight more well known than they came in. While Santorum seeks to reestablish voter confidence after his Senate defeat, Huntsman has to deal with having been a member of the Obama administration. This, of course, is not an enviable position in which to find yourself in this primary season.

Oddly enough, Tim Pawlenty has received little criticism up to now--except for his nice guy image. Sure, he has been mildly criticized for his early support of cap and trade, but his backtracking has seemed believable enough. On top of that, the fact that the GOP frontrunner, Mitt Romney, instituted a healthcare plan similar to ObamaCare in Massachusetts hardly makes Pawlenty's prior indiscretions noticeable in the field. Like it or not, Pawlenty has to prove that he is, in fact, more than just a nice guy.

Rep. Ron Paul is also likely to have a good showing in tonight's debate. Paul usually performs fairly well in debate and will have a vocal following as usual.

To be certain, all eyes will be on Mitt Romney as he tries to live up to his frontrunner status. Up to now, he has largely avoided social issues that slipped him up when he lost the 2008 GOP nomination fight. Due to his successful business experience, voters trust him on economics. However, it will be interesting to see how well he answers issues related to abortion and healthcare.

Make sure to watch the debate tonight! You won't want to miss it! You can watch the debate online here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Recent Gallup Poll Reports Good News

A recent, and oft discussed, Gallup poll purportedly reports that a plurality of Americans are now “pro-choice.” If one were to examine only the reported “pro-life” and “pro-choice” classification, he or she would falsely get the impression that the anti-life position now ranks supreme in the hearts and minds of most Americans.

To be certain, this poll potentially tells us a number of things; however, it cannot be said that it, in any definitive way, shows that the majority of Americans are “pro-choice.” Why is this? The simple answer—the margin of error.

Without going into an extremely technical explanation of what is a margin of error and how one calculates it, it should be pointed out that the margin of error statistic must be considered when examining any poll. A margin of error statistic is included in every poll because a polling firm cannot possibly poll every single voting-age adult in the United States. Instead, random sampling is used to obtain results close to the probable beliefs of the entire population—in this case all voting-age citizens of the United States.

Notice that near the bottom of the page on which Gallup reports its results, one finds the statement that “Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 5-8, 2011, with a random sample of 1,018 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.” Perhaps more importantly, Gallup reports that “For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.”

So, in layman’s terms, what is the polling jargon trying to tell us? Largely, it reports that the methodology used by Gallup should have ensured the results are accurate within four percentage points either way. In this case, the percentage of “pro-choicers” could realistically be anywhere from 45% to 53%. Similarly, the percentage of “pro-lifers” could be anywhere from 41% to 49%.

With that being said, what the Gallup poll really tells us is something we have essentially known all along—that American adults are essentially split in half when it comes to considering themselves as either “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” What is interesting is the fact that the poll actually indicates that the American people, to a large extent, agree with the principle of life.

Regardless of how an individual decided to classify himself as either “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” the poll reports that 51% agreed that abortion was morally wrong. This is compared to only 39% who believed that abortion was morally acceptable. It is important to note that, unlike the “pro-life” or “pro-choice” classification, this result lies safely outside the margin of error.

Additionally, we find that 61% of adult Americans think that abortion should be legal in only a few or no circumstances. That breakdown is 50% believing that abortion should be allow in only a few cases and 22% who agreed that it should not be legal under any circumstance. Compare that to the 37% who argue that abortion should be legal in any, or almost any, situation.

In the end, Gallup’s recent poll reports exactly the opposite from what many would seemingly have the American people believe. Instead of proving, once and for all, that Americans really support abortion, a much different result is found when closely examining the poll.

Truly, Americans today are still mostly of the opinion that abortion should be greatly restricted, extremely rare, and is, at its very core, immoral. This would lend credence to the current movement to strip abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood of its taxpayer funding. Why would Americans want their tax dollars to go to a group who basically ensures that its values are trodden under foot?

We can take a stand to ensure that American values and the principle of life are upheld in our states and country. Let’s strip all public funding for abortion providers and referrers. Since most Americans believe that abortion is morally wrong, press elected officials to stop spending our money on something most of us consider morally reprehensible. Instead, tell them to, at the very least, redirect the money to groups who are actually striving to help women make the choice for life!    

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Defund Planned Parenthood...and AmeriCorps?

In the debate over taxpayer funding of abortion providers and/or referrers, we have been largely focused on the actions taken by pro-life state legislators. On the federal level, H.R.3, or the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, has also received a great deal of the nation’s attention.

Could it be that, in all the coverage of stripping Planned Parenthood of its public funding, we have actually overlooked other federal programs which, at least, marginally support anti-life groups? In this case, Planned Parenthood, once again, plays a role. However, it is AmeriCorps that now takes center stage.

As the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports, two participants of New York’s AmeriCorps affiliate were pulled from their positions at Planned Parenthood of New York City. This action was taken because officials questioned whether or not the AmeriCorps participants had violated the requirements that they not attempt “to influence legislation” and organize or engage “in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.”

In case it isn’t already clear, AmeriCorps was created in 1993 by the National and Community Service Trust Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton. As AmeriCorps’ website states, “The newly created AmeriCorps incorporated two existing national service programs: the longstanding VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program, created by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).”

In 2008, AmeriCorps received $856,331 in federal funding. AmeriCorps saw its budget increased to $889,866 in 2009. With the addition of $201,000 in stimulus funds, AmeriCorps was the recipient of over $1.09 million of federal funding in 2009 alone. In 2010, their funding was raised to just under $1.5 million.
AmeriCorps participants receive a living allowance, health benefits, and, in some cases, housing. Put differently, taxpayer money is used to provide stipends, health care, and, sometimes, housing for individuals selected to participate in the program.

So, why is this recent event so important, and somewhat striking, for those of us concerned with taxpayer money being used to fund anti-life groups like Planned Parenthood?

The federal officials who forced the ouster of the two AmeriCorps participants made it clear that its participants are not allowed to provide “abortion services or referrals for such services.” Notice that the officials did not say that participants were not allowed to support, in anyway, an organization which provides abortion or abortion referral services.

Even if there are, as the WSJ notes, only 11 additional AmeriCorps participants left working at Planned Parenthood organizations across the country, why were they ever allowed to go there in the first place? How do we know that AmeriCorps is not placing other taxpayer funded participants in other anti-life groups?

While federal officials may believe the recent revelation that two participants could have broken the program’s rules to be a simple matter, pro-life citizens should be outraged that their hard earned money is being used, in yet another way, to aid anti-life groups. 

Pro-life state legislators have been doing an excellent job across the country of cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. While these efforts must continue, it is clear that we can never become complacent. The battle is ongoing—we must demand that our representatives take action to stop AmeriCorps, and other government programs, from placing participants with organizations that provide any type of abortion related services! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hilarity of the Day: Obama Gas Station

Unlike many of the hilarity of the day videos, this video is real. Without question, this is a very interesting way to make a few bucks. Unlike other citizens, the president's image can be used by others without the president's permission.

So, whether you love the idea or hate it, you can't blame the gas station owner for coming up with an inventive way to make a few bucks!


Morning News Nuggets

Foreign Policy/National Security

On the Home Front

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Video of the Day: Medicare Budget Must Be Reigned In

Take a look at this video. It points out a lot of good information about things we should be thinking about as the debate over how to handle Medicare's ballooning costs continue.

Enjoy and be informed!