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We’ve been begging our leaders for specifics on what to do to make a difference. Glenn Beck’s events (Restoring Honor, Courage & Love) represent a huge step towards getting our heads & hearts straight about the morality of our cause.  Others have also made contributions, but Levin’s proposal, The Liberty Amendments, deserves specific recognition – it is the first path to restore our founding ideals, based on the Constitution itself, that we can all contribute to, that has a realistic chance– if we pledge “our lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor” to the success of the Liberty Amendments.

Our kids and our country deserve no less.

It will be a difficult climb but I believe the country is ready for a tangible solution to the threats our country faces. Make no mistake; we’re in a race against time and a ruthless progressive cancer. With a $17 trillion national debt, and $60 trillion more in unfunded liabilities, cities like Detroit going bankrupt and states like California threatening, we must right the American ship as soon as possible. Once a financial crisis occurs, it may be impossible to counter calls for a more powerful central government – especially if people go hungry or start blaming the usual suspects (capitalism, tea partiers, etc.)

One last comment before I summarize my ideas for the first five amendments. I believe it’s important for the leaders of our movement – we all have a different list, but mine would include, in addition to Levin, among others, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Yaron Brook, Sen. Rand Paul (and his father Ron), Sen. Ted Cruz (& his father Rafael), Sen. Mike Lee, Mia Love , Rev C. L. Bryant, Walt Williams and 2008 GOP VP nominee Gov. Sarah Palin.

Everybody has different ways of contributing to the cause of freedom. I hope that all of them discuss Levin’s book, advance the idea and help pass the Liberty Amendments. Sometimes silos are created where no one wants to promote what their “competition” is doing – that must not happen.  I would encourage all of them to be generous with their comments and their air & face time.  However, so far, I haven’t heard one word of the idea, or Levin’s upcoming book, from these folks – perhaps they’re waiting for the book?

As you can see from this post, I think it’s a mistake to wait. In fact, Levin’s idea motivated me to start blogging again for the first time in years.  It will be my 100th post, with over 26,580 visitors, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate #100.  Not only is it fun to see if my ideas for reform match up with Levin’s, but until his book comes out on August 13, I hope and pray my ideas will encourage others to come up with their own – can there be too much engagement in the cause of freedom? Of course, Levin’s specific amendments will be very important, but just his idea has lit the torch – by urging us to look within the Constitution itself for how to repair our Constitutional Republic.

Everyone has ideas – my first five are listed below and I’ll follow-up with more details on each one – but the main thing is to jump in and start, time’s not on our side.

The Liberty Amendments – My First Five

1. Voter Campaign Finance (VCF)

  • Limit campaign contributions to those who are registered voters that can vote for the candidate. For example, I live in VA 5th Congressional District – Robert Hurt’s my congressman. If he ran for House, under this Amendment, he could only receive campaign contributions from registered 5th district voters (easily checked against existing voter rolls) – no unions, corporations, out-of-district fat cats, PACs, etc. If you don’t have a legal right to vote in 5th district, you can’t influence the 5th District election.

2. Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA)

  • Cut Cap & Balance (HR 2560) was a great idea that died in the corrupt halls of Harry Reid’s U.S Senate – but just barely (51Ds-46Rs) – a real life example of the wisdom of Levin’s idea – Congress will not reform itself, we must go around Congress. My twist on Cut Cap & Balance is this: Limit federal revenues to 18% GDP, spending to 17% GDP limit and the remaining 1% for debt relief and, after that, an “Emergency Fund”.
  • In case of war, Congress can authorize spending to exceed 18% only if two-thirds of Congress approves. The 1% of GDP (of the 18% collected for revenues) would go to pay down the national debt (about $16 Billion/yr at current GDP) and, once debt free (woohoo!!), use the 1% for an Emergency Fund – to pay for declared wars and disasters but only if two-thirds approve “withdrawals” – restoring Congress’ power to limit wars with their Constitutional funding power.

3. Term Limits

  • This has been around for a while but my version would limit service in Congress to just 12 years total. This could be three House terms (3×2=6) followed by a Senate term (1×6) or two Senate terms (2×6=12) or other combinations. The main idea is to not allow folks to make a career out of DC politics while allowing them enough time to be effective.

4. Law Limits

  • Obamacare was over 2700 pages long. The recent immigration bill was 1200 pages. Neither of these very devastating bills, that affect all of U.S., has been read by their supporters or detractors – that’s not a democracy, that’s a marketing campaign. Just vote on one or two issues at a time. I don’t know a specific # – others can work that out – but perhaps < 10 pages.

5. Pardon Accountability

  • Require Presidents to prioritize pardons (100 or less) and announce their last pardons at least 90 days before general election. Although an outgoing POTUS can’t be held accountable, voters can hold parties accountable. I predict the outrages from Obama’s pardons – both the # and who – will force this Amendment to top of list.

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Last night, I felt more outrage and more pride than I’ve ever felt in the same evening.  The latest and largest progressive power grab, represented by the health care package rammed down our throats last night, caused outrage across the country.  Is it too much to ask that Democrats pass a bill that will affect most Americans only if & when they have the support of most Americans?  Speech after speech only confirmed my suspicions that America has long forgotten how to elect statesmen to Congress.

Then Paul Ryan (R-WI-1st District) spoke: 
 

Wow!  This guy totally gets it.  Some GOP try to appeal to tea party folk by saying the words they think we want to hear.  However, this speech was obviously from the heart. 

Sarah Palin, one of a handful of principled conservative leaders, once said she was going to use 2010 to help elect other principled conservatives who “get it”.  Paul Ryan is one of those guys!  The whole speech was fantastic, but here’s some quotes that stood out for me:

“America is an idea…it is the most pro-human idea ever designed by mankind"

“Our founders got it right, when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, that our rights come from nature and nature’s God – not from government!”

“Do we believe that the goal of government is to provide equal opportunity to make the most of their lives – or do we now believe government’s role is to equalize the results of people’s lives?”

“We are fast approaching a tipping point where more Americans depend upon the federal government than upon themselves for their livelihood.”

“This is not who we are, it is not who we should become”

"The quest to reclaim the American idea is not over. The fight to re-apply our founding principles is not finished"

Here, here!

Please get to know this patriot!  Like many of us, I’m just starting to learn more about Paul Ryan.  Despite his prominent role in the GOP congressional leadership, his facebook page only has 17,338 fans, as of 11:10 EST on 3/22.  

Please join me by becoming a fan @http://www.facebook.com/reppaulryan.

In addition, you can also learn about, interact with and support Paul Ryan @ these sites:

Although he is a great leader, he cannot save this great nation.  Only “We The People” can save this great nation, but in the fight to “re-apply our founding principles” it helps to be inspired by statesmen like Paul Ryan.

I’m going to try to take all that outrage I felt last night, put it away somewhere and bring it out whenever I start to feel complacent between now and November 2, 2010.  If remembering the outrage doesn’t work, listening to one of Paul Ryan’s speeches should do the trick.

As always, please let me know your thoughts, on my thoughts…

 

 

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I often hear pundits and commentators, on the left and the right, say “this is a tough year for the GOP because the economy is so bad”. 

Why?  Why blame the GOP for the economy? 

Is it possible that we can take a few moments and think this through a little bit?

The economy isn’t all bad, just parts of it.  So, what are the bad parts?  Which parts are causing us problems?

  1. Too much “Toxic Paper”.  The world invested trillions in mortgage products that contained lots of loans made to high-risk borrowers but guaranteed by the U.S. government.  This irrational exuberance lead to a housing bubble that, predictably, came crashing down, bringing financial markets to their knees. 
  2. Energy costs skyrocketed.  When oil prices shot up, the price of everything else shot up.   This increased the structural costs to everyone – reducing discretionary income, reducing sales, wiping out profits resulting in layoffs and making it much harder for the average person and business to make ends meet.
  3. Too much debt.  Even before the first two problems, U.S. households were carrying too much debt.  In the same way that having a nice chunk of savings helps you weather storms, having no savings and a lot of debt makes you vulnerable to storms.   

So, who caused these problems?  Yes, there are millions who don’t think things through very much and will blame everything on Bush.  There’s a lot of news media in this group.  Ironically, this same group will not give Bush credit for the good news in Iraq.  If you can make sense of that position, gold star for you.

Another group wants you to blame everything on Bush because they either want his job (Obama), or they want Obama to have his job, and, even though they know better, they will attempt to fool enough people to blame Bush, and McCain by association.  Barack Obama loves to say the current financial crisis is the “final verdict” on “eight years of failed Bush policies”.

Which Bush policies hurt the economy?

Tax Cuts?  NAFTA?  Too much spending?  Iraq?  Support for free markets?  Except for too much spending, which Democrats want more of, none of these “Bush policies” have anything to do with those things we already said damaged the economy (toxic paper, energy costs and too much debt).  On the contrary, Democrats are responsible for toxic paper and high energy costs.

So, using the Audacity of Reason, you can see that blaming Bush for the bad economy is weak, at best, and a bald-faced lie, at worse.  It’s much more credible to blame Democrats for two reasons:

  1. Toxic Paper – Democrats encouraged the sub-prime loans (toxic paper) that are choking our financial markets.   Clinton took Carter’s CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) and turbo-charged it.  Sub-prime loans under Clinton increased five-fold from $200 billion per year to over $1 trillion per year.  That’s a lot of money.  The Germans, Chinese and the Saudis never imagined that something called a “U.S. Mortgage obligation” was given to an unqualified borrower, sometimes without income verification.  Surprise!  Thank you ACORN!
  2. High Energy Costs – Democrats keep energy prices high by clinging to their extreme environmentalism.   I like cleaner air and water but Democrats have taken that bit of common sense too far.  For example, modern offshore drilling is pretty safe now – at least the way U.S. companies do it.  Although OPEC has much more lax environmental laws, Democrats will attack them for not producing more oil instead of lifting the ban on clean U.S. drilling.  Obama led Democrats had a chance to lift the ban on offshore drilling or go on a 5wk paid vacation – they chose the vacation.  Ten years ago, Bill Clinton refused to drill in ANWR, preventing us from adapting to increased worldwide demand and Hurricane Katrina.  For thirty years Democrats have refused to allow a new nuclear plant or refinery to be built in this country.   It goes on and on and on…we have paid a steep price because of Democrats on this issue.

When the housing bubble burst, it was like watching a patient cough up blood – they looked fine but inside the patient was very sick because of the sub-prime loans Clinton injected into the U.S. economy back in the 1990s.   Bush applied chemotherapy treatment (the bailout) and we’re now waiting to see if the patient recovers.  That depends on how Bush administers the chemotherapy and whether the next doctor nurtures the patient with lower taxes (McCain) or kicks the patient in the teeth with higher taxes (Obama).

I pray tonight that America chooses McCain.

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So, who’s to blame for the current mortgage mess?  If you believe the current media narrative, capitalism itself is to blame.  Not content to blame just the GOP or Bush, Democrats are going after the big prize – the conservative ideology that advocates free markets.

Progressive socialists like Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders are absolutely giddy about this crisis.  This affords them the perfect opportunity to shove the word FAILURE in the face of any conservative that ever advocated for de-regulation, including John McCain.

Here’s Obama declaring this mess is the "Final Verdict" free markets failed:

(Update 4/8/10:  The video of Obama’s campaign speech where he declares that the financial crisis, that he and Democrats caused, was actually the “Final Verdict” that “free markets have failed”, has “been removed for terms of use violation” I’ve searched YouTube and cannot find another tape of that speech – why?  Could it be because it supports the growing & damaging narrative that Obama is an anti-free market socialist?  I don’t believe in conspiracy theories but this is the third time a key video of Obama’s has gone missing.)

Just a month ago, Democrats were worried that American voters might be souring on their Progressive/socialist agenda like the French and Germans did when they recently elected pro-U.S., pro-market leaders like Sarkozy and Merkel, respectively.  U.S. voters were beginning to blame Democrats for the struggling economy when they saw Democrats clinging to their extreme environmentalism and denying even a vote on lifting the ban on offshore drilling.

This anti-democratic posture by Democrats helped the GOP blame Democrats for the bad economy.

What a difference a month makes.

Now, capitalism itself is on trial and it’s losing badly.  I will stand up and defend free markets and, using the Audacity of Reason, remind voters of the facts:

  1. In 1977, Democrat President Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).  This act forced banks to "provide credit, including home ownership opportunities to under-served populations".
  2. In 1993, Democrat Bill Clinton asked his Treasury Secretary to come up with reforms to increase the expand the CRA.
  3. In 1997, Democrat Bill Clinton increased the market share of these CRA loans from almost zero to almost 15%.  Fannie’s and Freddie’s combined portfolios went from about $200 billion to over $1 trillion during Clinton’s term in office – a five fold increase. 
  4. In 2005, Bush attempted to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) but he was rejected along party lines despite warnings by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. 

I urge everyone to read all of Chairman Greenspan’s Senate testimony on April 6, 2005, but I’ll include his prescient conclusion below:

"Without restrictions on the size of GSE balance sheets, we put at risk our ability to preserve safe and sound financial markets in the United States, a key ingredient of support for homeownership."

Still, Bush was President.  Why didn’t he do more?  Let me explain.

Bush’s #1 priority, after 9/11, was keeping U.S. safe.  Because Democrats chose to undermine the War on Terror and the Iraq War, Bush had to sacrifice other priorities to win support from Democrats to get national security legislation passed and keep us safe.  Had Democrats chose to support the President on national security matters, as was the custom in years past, we would have had real changes at Fannie and Freddie to limit the risk to our overall economy.

Why did Clinton, back in 1993, seek to force banks to lend to people that our banks would not have otherwise lent money to?  Here’s how Clinton’s Comptroller, Gene Ludwig, described how the Clinton team decided to "reform the CRA":

"Before we made a single decision on proposing reform, we…walked through South Central Los Angeles, in a predominantly minority neighborhood in New York City….we talked with representatives of the Navajo Nation; to bankers, large and small banks, inclusive; to poor people in rural North Carolina and elsewhere. (What) we saw and what we heard shaped this reform package."

How did Clinton seek to enforce compliance?  In 1993, Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen explains:

"In a nutshell, what we’re proposing to do is to make it easier for lenders to show how they’re complying with the Community Reinvestment Act. …the changes we’re proposing are important because banks now have a very clear, quantitative standard by which their compliance can be judged. And that is very important to banks when it comes to ask regulators to approve mergers, new branches and the like."

Under Bill Clinton and his Democratic Congress, the CRA was reborn and inserted into the very fabric of our financial markets.  Yes, some institutions were happy to make money doing CRA loans but they would not have made them if the Clinton Administration hadn’t forced them to in order to get new branches and mergers approved.  We know this because before Clinton, CRA loans were almost non-existent.

A $1 trillion mistake by the Democrats has finally come home to roost.

Now, there is a $700 billion plan to bailout financial institutions that are having a hard time pricing all the bad CRA mortgage-related assets on their balance sheets.  It could cost a $1 trillion or more.  Whatever the cost, it’s not a failure of free markets or capitalism – it is a failure of the "mixed economy" that Ayn Rand warned about 40 years ago.

It is the socialist ideology that Democrats want to shove down your throat with stealth and guilt all wrapped up in the purposely ambiguous euphemism "Change We Need".

Yes, substandard lending had some GOP support along the way but make no mistake – it would have never have happened if Democrats didn’t push for it.  Conservatives advocate smaller government and merit-based financial decisions.  Liberals advocate more government and financial decisions based on "fairly spreading the wealth".  For 12 years, during Reagan and Bush 41, the CRA was meaningless.  During 8 years of Clinton, CRA-related sub-prime mortgages increased five-fold.

If the banks and Wall Street were so greedy, why didn’t they pursue substandard lending before Clinton?

Because it did not make business sense – they would have lost money.  Only after the Clinton Administration "made it easier" to prove compliance with the CRA and back up the loans with implicit guarantees from Fannie and Freddie, did private banks jump on board.  Banks were asked to demonstrate they were doing "their share" of substandard lending to minorities or else the feds would not approve mergers or new branches.

Of course, it was a mistake to package these loans into financial instruments traded around the world but can you really blame a German or Japanese bank for buying a product that had the allure of "U.S. Mortgage Obligations"?  It probably never occurred to the German banker to ask if some of the mortgages were made without verification of income???

Congress did everything it could to grow Fannie, Freddie and CRA loans.  This was a whopper of a mistake.  A $1 trillion mistake by Clinton and the Democrats.  The question is will the public hold them accountable or believe Obama’s propaganda that evil-unregulated-free-markets is to blame for this mess?

We’ll see November 4, 2008.

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I’m embarrassed to say I was very angry last Friday.  I heard on the radio that Mitt Romney was out and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was in and started talking out loud, to no one in particular. 

I said Sarah Palin may be a great conservative but, unlike Romney, she obviously did not feel ready and confident in herself enough this year to compete in the GOP primary and that it was “madness” to pick someone who has very little experience – neutering our criticism of Obama’s inexperience.

As you may know, I am a big Romney fan, like millions of others, and I’ve written a lot of articles why Romney would have been a great V.P.  In addition, I felt that Romney put himself out there, in JFK’s arena, endured national press scrutiny, raised millions from California to Texas, engaged in 20 Presidential Debates and McCain passes him over for Palin??

I was very disappointed and threatened, no one in particular, not to vote for McCain this fall.  I was going to take down my McCain signs and peel the bumper stickers off my car.

Then I heard McCain and Palin speak at his rally in Ohio.

It became clearer with every word that McCain, with one decision, advanced conservatism and, most importantly, our country.

Once again, McCain put “Country First”:

  • Surely, Obama-Biden can’t claim McCain-Palin is more of the same :-).
  • I agree with the first female V.P, Geraldine Ferraro, that, if elected, Vice-President Palin will help validate every parent’s promise to their little girls that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up.
  • Nominating a woman who became pregnant with a down-syndrome baby, and kept the baby anyway, advances the pro-life movement like nothing else. Palin’s story will inspire millions to keep their babies.
  • Voting for the GOP in 2008 will elect the first female Vice-President in history and discredit, once again, the popular folklore that the GOP is an all white-male club (most on the left overlook the fact Bush chose Dr. Rice, a black woman, to represent America to the world).
  • Obama’s nomination threatened to put a Marxist/Socialist in the Oval Office. Americans in general, and conservatives in particular, needed McCain to win this one. Picking Palin is a stroke of genius that makes the GOP ticket attractive to women, especially disaffected Hillary voters, and McCain-Palin should be as successful as the surge in Iraq.
  • Choosing Palin says, loud and clear, that a vote for the GOP is a vote to send two lifetime reformers to Washington to change the status quo.
  • Palin’s nomination puts Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less on the ballot.

This Romney fan is still hurting but, strangely, very hopeful about the future.

I will keep my McCain signs in front of my house and my McCain bumper stickers on my car. I will work hard to elect McCain over the next two months, the task being made easier, especially in Vermont, with a strong woman on the ticket. I have a hunch the Palin selection will inspire my teenage daughter to help too.

Well done Senator McCain.  Congratulations Governor Palin.

McCain introduces Sarah Palin to the Presidential Campaign - Photo by Mark Lyons-EPA

McCain introduces Sarah Palin to the 2008 Presidential Campaign

– Photo by Mark Lyons-EPA

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Today, I heard Mike Huckabee on Rush Limbaugh’s program desperately trying to make the case against Romney for V.P..  I was surprised Rush gave Huckabee airtime given his smear tactics during the GOP primary, his penchant for frying squirrels in a popcorn popper in his college dorm, and his really, really bad sense of humor when making jokes about Obama being shot at.  Make no mistake, Huckabee has a problem with Romney’s religion and has soured many evangelicals on Romney (Boston Globe on Huckabee’s tactics) but not all of them

According to Vanderbilt University political scientist, John Geer, a poll taken during the GOP primary found that 57% of conservative Evangelicals have a bias against Mormons and 26 percent of those who accuse Romney of flip-flopping also indicate that Mormonism, not flip-flopping, is their problem with Romney.

It appears to me that this election has revealed two remaining prejudices in primary voters’ hearts.  The Democrats clearly have a chunk of “white working class” voters (mostly in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania) and Hispanic voters who found Obama’s race to be a problem for them – in other words, they’re racists.  The Republicans clearly have a chunk of Evangelical voters who found Romney’s religion to be a problem – in other words, they’re bigots. 

I’ll let Obama-Biden address their party’s racism, but McCain needs to find a way to bring 57% of conservative Evangelicals into the 21st century.

What better way than to choose Romney to be the Vice-President?

McCain seems to relish taking principled positions that anger his party.  It’s yet another opportunity to demonstrate to an electorate that seems unhappy with the Republican brand that he’s an independent thinker who puts country ahead of party.  Romney is solidly pro-life so McCain, and Romney, just have to convince Evanglicals what they probably already know – that opposing Romney based on his religion is, well, not What Jesus Would Do and un-American to boot! 

Opposition by some conservatives makes Romney the perfect choice for a maverick like John McCain. 

Once you convince them it’s OK to support Romney (Huckabee can help with that – if he really wants the GOP to win this fall) then voting for McCain-Romney becomes an opportunity for personal growth, much like pulling the lever for the first African-American President if you’re a racist Democrat. 

In any event, the country will be better off that McCain took a chance on picking a very-qualified Mormon to be Vice-President than if he accommodated the bigoted demands of some Evangelicals to pick a less-qualified, “real Christian” (non-Mormon) like Tim Pawlenty.  Picking Pawlenty does not challenge our party to address one of our last remaining prejudices – religious bigotry – picking Romney does. 

Having Romney serve as Vice-President in a McCain Administration sends a message loud and clear, for at least four years, that one of our founding father’s wishes, that there not be a religious test for office, has come true. 

 

                with granddaughter

Romney with one of his granddaughters.

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