Which of the "top-tier" presidential candidates is the most honest and intelligent, and has the most solid philosophy of government, in the view of the average American? Hold on to your hats: It’s Barack Obama, according to the latest survey by trusted evangelical pollster George Barna. Ignoring all other candidates, the survey in early September queried the attitudes of 1,010 randomly selected adults on the perception of the honesty, intelligence, philosophy of government, and leadership ability of President Obama and the two “leading Republican candidates”: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.
Somewhat surprisingly, Obama scored higher than both Romney and Perry on all factors except leadership, with Romney besting the President on perceived leadership ability and Perry tying Obama in that category. Additionally, while the margins were small, Romney outscored Perry in all categories.
Overall, Obama received the highest score for perceived honesty, with 24 percent of respondents rating him “excellent” in this category and another 24 percent calling him “good.” By comparison, only nine percent of respondents gave Romney an “excellent” on honesty, with another 27 percent saying he was “good.” Bringing up the rear was Perry, with only six percent giving him an “excellent” and 25 percent a “good.”
No political maxim is more universally accepted as truth than that the right to vote is sacrosanct. In a free society where the people are the ultimate sovereigns and where the electoral will of the people is manifest through the casting of ballots for representatives who will make laws on behalf of them, there can be nothing more vital than the protections placed around the franchise and the assurance voters have that this essential expression of their will is never tainted.
If the above is accepted as true, then the perpetuation of the American Republic is in peril.
To understand the scope of the threat to U.S. elections, one must keep the following fact in mind: Almost all voters in Georgia, Maryland, Utah, and Nevada, and the majority of voters in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Texas, will cast their ballots using electronic voting devices on Election Day in 2012.
Now follows the chilling report published in Salon: "Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education."
This is the fragile state of affairs according to the computer science and security experts employed at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.
The Left’s frustration with President Obama has been much discussed of late. But its disappointment is nothing new, and it isn’t much of a surprise, either. In March 2009, just three months after Obama took office, liberal economist Paul Krugman claimed to be in “despair” over administration policy. At this early stage, though, such a feeling was shared by few progressives. Instead, in the “Age of Obama,” left-wing ascendency was expected. And in the new President, they had found their champion.
Today, however, much has changed. Many leftists now doubt Obama’s fealty to their cause. The "capitulation" toward Republicans and the continuation of key Bush policies have even been characterized as treachery. From their perspective, Obama’s ideological impurity and divergence from dogma is offensive. Calls for a primary challenge are arguably an outgrowth of this.
Now, it is true that a serious challenge from the Left is unlikely and, therefore, it may be tempting to dismiss the discussion as ephemeral, even irrelevant. That would be a mistake.
It was mid-February 2002, and after a full year as America’s most powerful and controversial Vice President and five months of operating out of any number of undisclosed locations, Dick Cheney was pleased to be back home among kindred spirits. No, he was not with hunting or fishing buddies in Wyoming or even in Texas, rubbing shoulders with the honchos of Halliburton. He was in Washington, D.C., delivering an address to the Council on Foreign Relations, with chairman and founder David Rockefeller himself in attendance.
It was the kind of company in which Cheney could feel spiritually and intellectually at home, among men of great power, influence, and intellect, men who know exactly how the world should be run and are confident God would agree with them if He only knew the facts of the matter. Cheney was no doubt aware the event was being televised nationally on C-Span, but he chose, nonetheless, to boast of an aspect of his career that he had carefully kept out of the spotlight, both in his national campaign as Republican nominee for Vice President and in his six winning campaigns to represent the people of his state in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“And it’s good to be back at the Council on Foreign Relations,” Cheney said, after thanking the group for a warm welcome. “I’ve been a member for a long time, and was actually a director for some period of time.”
Within the last few years, a phenomenon emerged to become among the most formidable forces in contemporary American politics. It goes by the name of “the Tea Party movement.” Supposedly, the Tea Party movement is not affiliated with either of our two national political parties. Rather, it is composed of millions of ordinary Americans who, jealous as they are of the liberties bequeathed to them by their progeny, find intolerable the gargantuan proportions to which the federal government has grown.
This, at any rate, is the conventional account of the genesis and character of the Tea Party movement.
I once endorsed it. Sadly, I no longer can.
It is my considered judgment — a judgment, mind you, from which I derive not the slightest satisfaction — that the Tea Party movement, like the so-called “conservative media” of Fox News and talk radio, has become, if it hasn’t always been, an organ of the GOP.
Late last week GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney released the names of his foreign policy and national security advisors just in time for his Friday address on America’s foreign policy. He effused over his selection:
I am deeply honored to have the counsel of this extraordinary group of diplomats, experts and statesmen. Their remarkable experience, wisdom and depth of knowledge will be critical to ensuring that the 21st Century is another American Century.
His campaign continues to be plagued with an increasing chorus of doubters about his conservative posture. His claim to have balanced the budget of Massachusetts without raising taxes was found to be false. In a widely-seen interview with Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press in 2008, Russert nailed Romney:
President Obama has created a secret death panel to decide which American citizens should be killed without trial by our own military, and he approved a secret legal memorandum from the Office of Legal Council (OLC) that tries to justify the killings, according to Reuters and the New York Times, respectively.
Of the death panel, Reuters reported October 5,
There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
The Obama administration has refused to comment officially or publicly on the existence of the death panel.
New York Times reporter Charlie Savage described the legal memorandum in detail after lengthy, perhaps administration-approved, conversations with anonymous Obama administration officials. Savage describes the document as "a roughly 50-page memorandum by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, completed around June 2010," which means that it was drawn up about six months after the assassination list already existed. Savage continued:
Before 1980 there was no U.S. Department of Education. Before 1964 there was relatively little federal involvement in education at all. But let a few Republican presidential candidates suggest that maybe Washington’s role in schooling ought to be scaled back somewhat, and the New York Times, reliable barometer of establishment opinion, finds cause for concern. Why, “even Mitt Romney,” the paper frets, “now says, ‘We need to get the federal government out of education.’”
“For a generation,” the Times writes, “there has been loose bipartisan agreement in Washington that the federal government has a necessary role to play in the nation’s 13,600 school districts, primarily by using money to compel states to raise standards.”
Of course, many observers note that the bipartisan consensus on any subject can be — and usually is — wrong. Constitutionalists point out that there is also a bipartisan consensus in favor of Social Security, Medicare, and an interventionist foreign policy — all of which, like federal involvement in education, are both unconstitutional and unwise. There is no shame, they say, in challenging Beltway orthodoxy.
“When it comes to foreign policy, if you like George W. Bush and Barack Obama, you’ll love Mitt Romney.” That was the unspoken theme of a speech the former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential contender delivered Friday at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Inveighing against “crawl[ing] into an isolationist shell,” Romney offered instead a program of hyper-interventionism in which no problem anywhere in the world is too small or remote for Washington’s involvement.
Romney pledged to “devote [himself] to an American Century” in which “America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world.” Romney issued his rather underwhelming economic plan a month ago. His proposal to strengthen the military by spending more money on it and deploying it in ever more far-flung locales, not by reducing its responsibilities — and therefore its costs — to those befitting a constitutional republic, is little more reassuring. As Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), one of Romney’s rivals for the GOP nomination, has long pointed out, excessive military spending is one of the causes of our nation’s economic woes. Like the Soviet Union in its dying days, Romney’s America would continue to burden the economy with diktats from the central government while pursuing a military buildup — a combination guaranteed to bankrupt the nation.
We’ve all heard about the tactic of using children as human shields, as practiced by Saddam Hussein, the Taliban and others. The idea is that you place civilians — preferably women and children — at military targets to reduce the chances that your enemy will attack and so that, if he does, he’ll look like a heartless miscreant who targets the least among us. Morally, it’s the least of tactics.
Yet while we Westerners have made the practice illegal under the Geneva Convention, it’s not unknown in the United States — in our political battles. In the 1990s especially, it became common to claim that all and sundry must support a given statist policy “for the children.” As an example, when Republican-backed welfare reform was instituted, Ted Kennedy called it “legislative child abuse.” And when President G.W. Bush threatened to veto an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in 2007, Democrats brought children to a press conference on the matter and later had a 12-year-old SCHIP recipient read a heartstring-tugging Democrat radio address about the program.
The latest use of this tactic was by Texas Governor Rick Perry in the Florida Republican debate when he invoked the welfare of the children to justify his granting in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens.