Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On The Path With Senate Candidate Jarret Heil: Great Saturday, Great Showing.

This past Saturday, the Oktemberfest Parade took place in Marshalltown, Iowa. This annual tradition draws out a high volume of members of the community, which spans age, race, and political preference. Of course, it is also an ideal setting for any political candidate looking to reach out to those last few voters when they are less than six weeks out from Election Day.

I was fortunate enough to not only attend this parade (hats off to Marshalltown might I add, it was a great time) but also to help Senate District Candidate 22 Jarret Heil reach out to those voters through the course of the parade. As anyone who has ever “done a parade” knows, it can be a sweaty, hot, and arduous task, but it never fails to also be a great experience for both the electorate and the candidate.

Heil’s experience this past Saturday was no exception to this rule. As we have indicated before here on D.M.Rightside, the race in State Senate District 22 is a closely fought battle (recall this is one of the few open seats in the Iowa Senate). Steve Sodders (Heil’s opponent and a Democrat) has worked hard to try to keep pace with Jarret and his message of prosperity and growth for Iowa’s families. Yet he has not yet managed to catch up to the substance that Heil has to offer District 22 and the entire State of Iowa. The Oktemberfest Parade gave all of us another reminder of this reality.

Heil not only made his presence known via an impressive display of well crafted reminders of who to vote for come this first Tuesday in November, but also via a tremendous amount of volunteers who turned out to walk with Jarret in a show of support and effort. The sea of navy blue that enshrouded Heil was nothing short of impressive and clearly overwhelmed the otherwise simple showing by his opponent.

Jarret Heil is clearly on the right track and is marching down the path to victory at this point. I strongly urge all conservative-minded readers to keep Jarret in mind in the coming weeks. Volunteer, donate, or simply keep him in your prayers. By doing all of this, we will be helping to guarantee many more great Saturdays and great showings for the State of Iowa.

By U.S. Grant September 29, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oppose the $700 Billion Bail-Out

By W. Sherman

At about 4:00pm yesterday, I sat down at the Village Bean, a coffee shop in Des Moines’ East Village, to type up this point. Reading the Wall Street Journal, this is what I learned that Congress had reached an agreement on what is now, the infamous bail-out. I learned that Treasury would get $250 billion immediately, and an additional $100 billion if necessary. I learned that the Treasury would get the remaining $350 billion upon Congressional approval. Finally, I learned that companies receiving these funds would be forced a host of provisions, including restrictions on executive compensation and allowing the federal government to take an equity interest in such companies.

And then things blew up.

The Journal reports that throughout the day, Congressional Republicans devised a plan that would create a government-sponsored insurance program for mortgage-backed securities. Under the plan, banks would pay a premium to the Treasury Department to insure the investments. Additionally, Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, proposed allowing the Treasury to make loans to the banks, rather than buying up the bad debt on the banks’ books.

Like many conservatives, I believe that House Republicans were right to oppose this bail-out. First, the government is freeing these failed banks from owning up to their bad decisions, by putting the taxpayers on the hook for the losses. As Steve Chapman stated in his Chicago Tribune column, the plan “nationaliz[es] the money-losing part of the financial sector, to the benefit of capitalists who have made spectacularly bad decisions—fostering more bad decisions in the future.”

Second, the bail-out will put too much discretion in the hands of the government. John Paulson, in his column in today’s Wall Street Journal, poses shows that the bail-out leaves unresolved the questions of who will receive the taxpayer subsidies and at what price.
Third, accepting the bail-out means accepting legislation packed with tons of election-year gimmicks. The most widely reported gimmick, of course, is the cap on executive compensation. Regardless of what one may think regarding the reasonableness of CEO pay in this country, the government should not be setting the compensation of executives in private companies. Additionally, as Charles Krauthammer states in his column, “artificially capping the pay of people brought in to lead these wobbly companies back to health is a fine way to tell talented executives to look elsewhere for a job.”

During 2008, we have seen several investment banks, their insurer (AIG), and two mortgage giants fall. For all of their financial woes, an injection of $700 billion in taxpayer funds is not warranted. When banks make bad decisions, they need to take responsibility for those decisions—even during election years.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Evil Empire Part Deuce!

This week the Russian Government announced plans to send two large-scale naval warships with support to the Caribbean. This move follows the arrival last week of two nuclear bombers to the country of known U.S. enemy Venezuela. At this point, every right-thinking U.S. citizen had better be asking themselves, “what the hell is going on here?!”

These new aggressive overtures, paired with the recent Russian incursion into Georgia, ought to be sending one clear message to the free world. There is little question that the great Bear has reawaken and is clearly seeking to reassert itself as a newly reformed dominating world power.

The million-dollar question is what do we do about it, if anything? It is clear that the sort of aggression shown by the Russian forces as of late cannot be tolerated in the long run by the West. To do so would be like allowing a teenager with a ceiling-less expense account to keep wrecking brand new sports cars every week. If such conduct persists, someone gets hurt, or in this case, a major world conflict results. At some point the wayward party has to be knocked into line. Yet, with the seemingly endless fountain of new oil and natural gas wealth, it is tough to determine what could actually have the desired effect of calming this continually obstinate state. Clearly, sanctions and international outrage are not going to get it done.

It is true that regardless of the influx of new wealth into Russia since the cold war, they have seemingly still failed to build a truly modern surface fleet that can compete with the other more western navies in the world. At the same time the fact that the bastard step child of Europe (a.ka. Russia) has now decided to move back towards the days of holding the world hostage with its military and nuclear might should be raising red flags in every free nation on the planet.

Ultimately these troubling turns of events sends one strong message that cannot be ignored. We absolutely cannot stop funding our military and allowing it to become any smaller than it already is. A resurgent Russia, North Korea, Islamic- Fascists, and socialist hack leaders in South America means we cannot ever afford to let our guard down as the preeminent leader of the free world. This week is simply another frightening reminder of that reality.

Written By:
U.S. Grant

Monday, September 15, 2008

Your Country Is Calling You To Action, But Did You Hear It?

Today was a tough day in the history of out nation. For the first time in a long time the American people experienced a new level of economic frustration and shortcoming. It is true that right now all of are getting less distance out of our dollars. That stress paired with the ever more common failures of American financial giants can make it tough to find a proverbial silver lining in an increasingly gray sky. While no reasonable individual would pretend right now that there are no problems with the American economy, today John McCain boldly reminded us of a few profound truths in which we can take solace.

Recall today’s comments from the campaign trail; John McCain, while speaking to voters in the great State of Florida, reminded us of the steely nature of the American worker and what they can be capable of in the most trying of times.

“Our workers are the most innovative, the hardest working, the best skilled, most productive, most competitive in the world. My opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals of America are strong."

Some may attribute this heartfelt account of the true nature of the American worker as mere political hyperbole, or a product of clever conspiracy oriented spin-doctors. The truth is, though, not only is Senator McCain’s observation of the American worker correct, but our history supports it.

Recall back now nearly 70 years ago when our Nation was attacked by our then enemy Japan and Europe was on the brink of collapse and domination. Even before this our nation lay in economic ruin, but when the going hit a level of difficulty even never before conceived, the tough did not get going… they did one better and instead, the American people used their commitment and resolve to fight through what is still arguably the most difficult modern situation in our Nation’s history. If the American people can not only fight two major enemies on different sides of the globe, pull out of an economic slump of historic proportions, and maintain an unmatchable espirt de corps, we can survive this as well.

Furthermore let us thank God that Senator McCain’s mindset of perseverance was the prevailing attitude of great men like Abraham Lincoln, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Regan. Without these men and the American “can do” attitude, we would all be speaking German in a socialist state, where I can assure you civil rights would not even be on the radar let alone a priority.

Senator Obama seems to either forget about the proud history of the American people, or he simply does not care. He would rather focus on suffering and frustration rather than empower and motivate the populous to an actual solution. There could not be a more counter-productive attitude in regards to how to best respond to the trying time we all face. If we allow the nation to assume the mindset promoted by Senator Obama, the attitude that we need to wait for the government to help, by the time government arrives at even a concept of solution, the patient will have expired.

When John McCain calls upon the “still strong fundamentals” of the American economy, he is not showing a na├»ve disregard for the American citizens situation, he is calling to action a force more effective, a force of far greater size and strength than any possible government bailout or nebulous disabling promise. John McCain is calling to action the will of the American people to come together and to apply the powers of their heart, energy, and commitment to success as a means of responding to an otherwise difficult situation.

In consideration of all we have accomplished with that tried and true approach so far, I’d say that the McCain solution has far more going for it than any pied piper-esque false prophet’s hollow words any day.

Submitted by U.S. Grant.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Drill, Baby, Drill!

If one phrase can describe last week’s Republican Convention, it would be “drill, baby, drill!” This past weekend, I was talking with a family member who told me that this was a dumb slogan, and asked me whether the Republicans really wanted the delegates who chanted this slogan representing the party. I responded to this question by saying that if I had to choose between an allegedly dumb slogan and gasoline at $4 per gallon, the slogan will win any day.

Americans are tired of high energy prices. High gasoline prices and heating oil are straining Americans’ pocket books, and diverting spending away from other goods and services. These high oil prices also drive up the price of agricultural production, which in turn, has contributed to the cause of high food prices.

Many on the left have blamed these rising prices on the current Presidential Administration and “big oil.” They argue that “big oil” is scamming the American people by pricing oil too high in order to increase their profits. The Administration, with their close ties to “big oil,” is the enabler.

What’s funny is that the same people who claim that the oil companies are ripping off the American people by pricing oil too high also are rabidly opposed to increasing the supply of oil by allowing oil companies to drill offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). This position is sorely mistaken.

This past week, Deborah Thornton, a Research Analyst at the nonpartisan Public Interest Institute of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, released an article titled, “The ‘Drill Nothing’ Congress and Bubbling Crude.” The article effectively made the case for drilling offshore, and dispelled the myths perpetuated by the opponents of drilling.

Thornton, in her article notes that, while the U.S. currently produces 8 million barrels of oil per day, the number could be increased by 3 to 4 million per day if it taps the estimated 89 billion barrels available offshore or the 10 billion barrels contained in ANWR. The price impact of this increased production could decrease the price of gasoline by nearly $2 per gallon.

Of course, there is the oft-repeated line that if we start drilling, no effect will be felt until ten years down the road. While this line is akin to saying that a person shouldn’t save for retirement because the effects won’t be realized until 40 years (or if you’re of my generation, 50) years down the road, Thornton blows it out of the water. In a market where the price today is based upon the future price, the possibility of increased production will effect the price paid today. As Thornton points out, prices fell from $34 to $11 per gallon within five years, when President Reagan removed domestic oil controls. The opposite effect occurred when President Clinton rejected ANWR drilling in 1995.

There is also an oft-repeated argument that more drilling will create more environmental harm. Again, Thornton addresses this issue head-on by stating that three out of five times, oil pollution is caused by natural seepage, rather than by oil companies. Additionally, despite the fact that oil transport has increased, the number of oil spills has decreased.

This November, many Americans will be driving to the polls. Their vote could determine whether the price they pay at the pump is $4 or $2. If they want to pay the latter price, then they will be wise to cast their ballot for the candidate who is not afraid to say, “drill, baby, drill!”

By W. Sherman

Monday, September 8, 2008

Obama/Biden, More of the same;… The same empty economic voodoo language that is.

There has been much said lately about the state of the U.S. economy and the now titled credit crunch that the nation has been experiencing for some time now. These are important topics too, deserving of some discussion both in political and non-political forums. Yet in the last few weeks since both the Democratic and Republican conventions, there seems to be an unhealthy focus on the part of the Democratic party on talking about and promising to fix all of the financial ails of the nation and its citizens. If I had a dollar for every time I have seen or heard a sound byte of the Obama/Biden ticket talking about the average person and their money problems, I’d have no money problems anymore, or would I?

The problem is that, while without question some of the strife the nation currently is facing is a result of questionable economic policies used by the Bush Administration a lot of it frankly… is just not.

Take one of the big promises made by the Obama/Biden ticket: “we will save your pensions!”. This nebulous promise to bring certainty to millions of Americans’ retirement accounts has less value than a North Korean made automobile. There is already a security net in place for pensions everywhere: it is called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (aka the PBGC).

ERISA provides for legal protection of vested rights obtained by employees through the course of their careers, and the PBGC is a government run corporation that steps in to insure those pensions in the event that the company is unable to honor their commitments. While this is a highly simplified explanation of benefits law and concepts, the bottom line is, if you have a pension and it is vested you are already saved. Obama/Biden got here about 35 years too late.

Furthermore, just to cover all of the bases for those still concerned that those gosh darn corrupt corporate boards are all out to get us, there is Sarbanes Oxley (Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002). This law, which applies to publicly traded corporations, addresses issues like transparency, proper regulation, and criminal penalties for those public firms that do engage in wrongful conduct. (Remember it was a response to Enron and Worldcom). While this law is far from perfect, it does beg the question how much more could the government ever reasonably be expected do?

With all of this already available law in place to protect the retirement security of America’s workforce, one can’t help but wonder why we even care about social security anymore!

Beyond the obvious multitude of laws, though, that apply to this issue, there is also the reality that it is and always has been each individual’s responsibility to save their money in preparation for retirement, not the federal government’s. There is no legislative substitute for a thrifty attitude, proper spending habits, and a well- diversified retirement savings plan.

In closing there really is little question that the Obama/Biden promise to save our pensions is based on pure conjecture and nothing more. Like many other grandiose promises offered by the Democratic Party this year, this one again has little basis in reality and disregards the facts as they are. Candidates that promise to do what has already been done shouldn’t be trusted—your personal and economic futures are far too important!

By U.S. Grant 

Friday, September 5, 2008

McCain Gives Great Speech at Republican Convention

As I write this piece, I am listening to Karl Rove and Greta Van Sustren talking analyzing the speech just given by Senator John McCain. Apparently, the crowd behind the set booed Obama Campaign operative and NBC “journalist” David Gregory during a commercial break. I love a room full of fired up Republicans!

Following the amazing speech given by Sarah Palin on Wednesday night, McCain had a tough act to follow … and he rose to the occasion. McCain, in the biggest speech given during this campaign season defined himself as a public servant who puts his country first, and is willing to challenge anyone—regardless of party affiliation—in the name of bettering America. He talked about his support for strong defense, low taxes, low spending, and his opposition to earmarks—red meat for the Conservative base. He talked about helping workers affected by job loss in the global economy, improving education through school choice, and healthcare reform through market mechanisms—a nod to the Democrats who complained that the previous speeches didn’t include theses issues. He talked about his support for the surge when it wasn’t popular … a reminder of the value places on independence and why they call him a Maverick. And he talked, in detail, about his experience as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam … a reminder of his commitment to our country. The crowd cheered wildly throughout the speech.

One of the features of a party convention is a lot of back-patting and celebrating. But in this convention, McCain reminded Republicans about the losses in 2006, and told them “we were elected to change Washington, and Washington changed us.” With John McCain, we will get a straight-talking President who is not afraid to ruffle a few feathers in both parties. McCain has proved time and again that he is not afraid to vote against his party, even when it is the popular thing to do (anyone remember the Medicare Prescription Drug Program or the Highway Bill)? People know this—that is why the Obama campaign has not been successful in their claims that four years of McCain is another four years of President Bush. After tonight, this comparison will be even less effective.

Now, the campaign goes into high gear. With sixty days until the election, we must do everything we can to win see to it that John McCain is elected our next President. Let’s get busy!

(Also, for those of our Iowa readers, local school board elections are this next Tuesday. Remember to get out and vote good, common sense leaders that will be able to do the job right).

By W. Sherman

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav, Katrina, and what needs to be understood.

Four years ago, one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States occurred when Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area. This terrible natural event caused endless amounts of damage, and took the lives of countless people. There is no question that the devastation seen after the fact will surely be imprinted in the minds of all feeling Americans for years to come. It was a risk management nightmare.

Today, New Orleans is facing another similar threat in the form of Hurricane Gustav. While Gustav is a less severe storm, it poses many of the same dangers as Katrina. Unlike Katrina, though, this storm presents us with a chance for risk management excellence.

Gustav presents the nation with the challenge of responding reasonably, and not excessively. We must ask ourselves how we correctly understand risk and how to best respond to it as a society. Risk is the essence of any situation, whether it is a hurricane or the operation of a motor vehicle. It is an unavoidable matter and one that we must come to terms with.

In the days leading up to Gustav there has been a tremendous amount of discussion relating to the risks and threats posed by the storm and how to best respond to them. These dialogues are important and should continue. However if we are ever to actually come to a conclusion on how to best handle these types of situations, we must stop framing the problem in terms of people and feelings. We must start to look at these situations instead more rationally from a risk management standpoint.

The people in the affected areas did choose to live and work in this location. They are aware of the fact that this region is prone to dangerous weather events. As a result, from a risk management standpoint, they need to realize that if they cannot afford to address the risk presented by their current location, they should not live there. Otherwise, they are free to purchase insurance and other means of security to deal with the risks presented by their chosen location. This is how they can exercise good risk management.

There is no question that at this time our thoughts and prayers should be with the people who stand in the line of this dangerous weather event. At the same time, we must remember that many of the threats they now face are ones that they surely have been on notice of for years. As a result, I hope that as we begin considering how to put things back together, we remember how risk should be responsibly allocated. Taxpayers are not an insurance company, and never should be.

By U.S. Grant