Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Free Choice?

The "Employee Free Choice Act." An innocent-enough sounding piece of legislation. But take a closer look and this legislation stands to fundamentally alter labor-management relations in the United States, and in the process destroy employee free choice.

What does the law do? Essentially, it does away with decades of established and honed labor-management law that guarantees employees the right to an uncoerced and secret ballot when choosing whether to be represented by a labor union. The current system allows the union and management to each present their respective cases about unionization, and the employees to make a free and informed choice about representation via secret ballot.

The law would replace this system with a "card check." Under the proposed "card check" system, employers would be required to recognize a labor union as its employees' collective bargaining representative when the labor union collects representation cards signed by just over 50% of employees. No longer would employees be entitled to an informed choice, or a choice made by secret ballot and overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Instead their choice would be overseen by union bosses and union organizers. Can anyone say "coercion?"

What's driving this madness? Today, unions represent just 7.5% of the private sector work force. Unions predict that by injecting this lawful ability to subtly (or not so subtly) coerce employees to choose unionization, they can double the unionization rate in the US. That's why unions have made passage of the law priority number 1. With Democrats in Congress and the President-elect indebted to Big Labor, you can bet this bill stands a solid shot of becoming law in 2009.

Ironically, though, the very Democrats pushing hardest for the law, to include Education and Labor Chairman George Miller, recognize the importance of secret union ballots -- in Mexico! Miller wrote in August 2001 to a Mexican council: "We feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose." Can anyone say "hypocrite?"

What's right for the Mexican labor force is right for the American labor force. Conservatives in the 2009 Congress must fight this blatant attempt to usurp free choice in American workplaces.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free Speech in America?

As conservatives, we cherish the Constitution. The Constitution arguably formed the most perfect union ever to exist, and has established the guiding principles upon which this nation has functioned for over 200 years. It remains as relevant today as it did during the days of the Founding Fathers.

Conservatives respect the Constitution, and believe that our government should operate within it. This topic deserves an extensive discussion about what this means and how conservatives differ from liberals dramatically on this point. What I want to discuss briefly today, however, is one of the most fundamental aspects of the Constitution -- Freedom of Speech. Liberals are frequently viewed as the most ardent free speech advocates. Liberal groups like the ACLU rush to court to protect even the most radical speech. Yet, are liberals truly advocates of free speech, even when they disagree with it?

Much evidence exists to argue that they are not. One very recent example occurred at Prince George's Community College in Maryland. An instructor at the school -- Ayanna Watson -- allegedly asked students to write about the merits of Barack Obama. When one of her students, Gloria Alfonzo, voiced differences with Obama, Alfonzo says that the instructor demanded to know whether she was a Republican. When Alfonzo responded "yes," the trouble began. Her classmates, according to Alfonzo, stood up, started pointing at her and repeatedly yelled racially charged expletives (e.g., [expletive] white girl, and daughter of a [expletive]). The instructor allegedly did nothing. When reporters went to the instructor's home for further information on the story, the instructor did not answer but her political beliefs were certainly on display. She boasted a large Barack Obama sign on her front door. The traumatic experience has caused Alfanzo to withdraw from the school.

Unfortunately, Alfonzo's experience is repeated in colleges all across the country -- albeit perhaps not to the serious degree. Liberals dominate campuses and there are repeated stories of conservative students being intimated by both professors and fellow classmates for speaking in favor of Republicans or Conservatives. Even when I was in school years ago, liberals repeatedly took efforts to silence views with which they disagreed -- from staging vocal demonstrations against Conservative speakers to ripping down promotional signs for events sponsored by Conservative groups. Over the years, however, this push to silence critics has reached new levels and is evident even among the highest levels of the Democratic party.

In the late days of the Presidential race, the Obama campaign took unprecedented steps to "punish" anyone who asked tough questions or voiced disagreement with Obama. Take for example, the Florida news anchor, Barbara West, who posed tough questions to Joe Biden. The Obama campaign immediately reacted by canceling the station's already-scheduled interview with Michelle Obama, and by digging up and disseminating what they considered "dirt" about the anchor and her husband. The same thing happened with the now famous "Joe the Plumber" who simply showed up at an Obama event and raised questions about Obama's tax plans.

Going forward, liberals have advocated for reinstatement of the "Fairness Doctrine." While they attempt to wrap this in terms that make it easier to sell to the American people, the biggest effect of this doctrine will be to shut down Conservative talk radio and thereby silence some of liberals' biggest critics.

Conservatives must remain true to the Constitution. We must fight every attempt by Liberals - on our college campuses, in our communities, and within the press - to silence our voices. This is one of the most important issues domestically for Conservatives, and one that we must not loose sight of.Av

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Before November 4, certain friends and I shared concerns about what an Obama presidency combined with a Democratic Congress would bring. We worried about higher taxes and a declining standard of living. My husband and I had discussed restrictions of 2nd Amendment rights. We stocked up a little extra home-grown home-canned food this year and have made plans to head for the cabin if needed. Some would say that we overreacted. Sometimes I think I've been a little silly.

Then comes a video like this:

This is quite creepy. The plan is to impose mandatory "civil defense training" upon every citizen somewhere between the ages of 18 and 25. If you listen through to the end, you would think that Rahm Emanuel is spoofing a mafioso. It should make your stomach turn.

I know that this is supposed to be a place of positive discussion. Frankly, I'm finding it difficult to find much hope for the next four or eight years.

In the absence of optimism, I think vigilance will be necessary to guide our way.

h/t Ace

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Hey Y'all. As a little introduction, one of the bloggers here sent me an invitation to contribute to Fight On...and I cannot think of a better way to develop the skills needed to speak up for freedom than to hang around a bunch of positive conservatives. So...thanks, I hope to be able to contribute in a positive way.

Today is a special day. I called my son, wished him a happy Veteran's Day and thanked him for his service to our country. As I write this, I can see his wedding photo that shows him in his dress uniform - at twenty-three years of age, he was married ten days before being deployed; the photo sits next to a crystal container with all his letters from war. On the wall is a collage of pictures from a memorial service after the 9/11 attacks. In it, he appears in his uniform, a very young National Guardsman, standing proudly at attention and quite unaware that he would be called to war two years later.

Words cannot describe the pride that a mom has for a son who answered the call and spent a year in Iraq as a prison guard, treating the detainees well - even learning their language.

The young men and women whom I have come to know personally and through reading about their service in the current conflicts are amazing human beings. When peace comes to Iraq and Afghanistan, they will be remembered fondly and seen as equals to the "greatest generation."

On this day, we pause to thank our veterans of the major conflicts of WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and especially the Viet Nam war. We thank those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have fought in places like Panama, and Bosnia, and Somolia in attempts to bring freedom to those who are unable to fight for themselves. We thank all veterans, from the cooks to the generals, who all work together to complete the mission to keep us free.
Today’s Quote: It is…for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us; that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address

When I was a child, I would sometimes talk my father and my uncles—my mother’s brothers—into taking me along with them to fish, either from the banks of the Sewanee River or down in the Keys. On one such outing, I remember curling up on my father’s lap in the front seat of an uncle’s car. I remember, too, drowsing in that utterly relaxed and heavenly state on the border between waking and sleeping. As evening enveloped us, I could feel my father’s baritone rumble as he chatted with the uncles. My father and all of the uncles were veterans, either of World War II or Korea. Inevitably, as we rode along in the dusk, the conversation turned to war reminiscences. Thinking that I was sound asleep, my father began to tell his war story. Months after graduating from West Point and marrying my mother, he received his orders for Korea. He was to serve as second in command of a platoon somewhere on the front. Within weeks of his assuming his duties, the captain of the platoon was killed. And so my father found himself, a young second lieutenant, in command of this platoon. He recounted the terrible chaos of combat, the heavy burden of responsibility for other men’s lives. He also recounted how, on one unfortunate afternoon, he climbed a small hill to find himself face-to-face with a North Korean soldier who held a bazooka. Before my father could move, the soldier had fired the bazooka, striking my father in both legs at close range. The miracle is that my father survived. Somehow he was evacuated to a hospital ship in the China Sea where, after months of surgery and rehabilitation, he was sent back into Korea to lead another platoon.
My father received a Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained. Years later, when I was no longer a child and we were involved in another war in Southeast Asia, my father told me that he had never met a veteran who loved war; he said that soldiers know better than anyone how horrible war is. Later still, when the subject of Vietnam came up at my church, a man declared that he could not think of anything worth killing for. I realized then that, during his lengthy and distinguished service to his country, my father did not think in terms of “things worth killing for;” he thought, instead, of things worth dying for.
He knew that, ironically, without things worth dying for, nothing is worth living for. Thanks always, Dad, for your example and your service. Love,…

Monday, November 10, 2008

Melting Pot or Salad Bowl?

When I was growing up, I learned about America as the Great Melting Pot. A place where peoples from the world over came for greater opportunity and a better life. The American Dream was not something unique to Americans, it was something that human beings all over the world yearned for…the chance to succeed, to build wealth, to own a home, to raise a family free from government intervention and tyranny. And America was the place, more than any other, where that Dream was possible. It’s what made America America, and it is this common spirit that has bound our citizens together for two centuries.

Recently, as I worked in corporate America, I stopped hearing reference to America as a “melting pot.” In fact, on one occasion as I reviewed training materials for a major corporation’s Human Resource’s department, I read reference to America as a “Salad Bowl.” No longer, I was instructed, was it appropriate to refer to America as a “melting pot.” The new terminology, with the exact opposite meaning, was “salad bowl,” where each individual maintains his/her identity, interests, culture, and customs. No longer, I was told, can America expect its citizens to have a common spirit that binds them. Instead, we must encourage and thrive on our differences.

In a very real sense, this shift in mentality is reflective of the differences between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives believe that Americans share fundamental beliefs, the inherent rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the notion that hard work reaps rewards and that anyone of us has equal opportunity to build wealth and live the American Dream, whether that dream be a modest home in the suburbs, a small business, a palatial estate, or hundreds of other unique ideas. The common theme is that anything is possible in America with hard work and perseverance.

Liberals, on the other hand, survive on emphasizing differences…differences in wealth, differences in race, differences in religion, differences in gender. By pitting groups against each other, liberals encourage resentment, and through resentment, garner power. A perfect example of this is the recent campaign’s emphasis on pitting the “haves” against the “have nots,” the notion that being financially successful is to be scorned (i.e., the famous “spreading the wealth” line). There are myriad of other examples, but the point is that unlike conservatives, who believe as Americans we all share a common “American spirit” which allows any one of us the chance for enormous success, liberals must accentuate the differences among individuals and groups of individuals to survive.

Today, as new citizens pledge their allegiance to this great country, and as our nation’s youth grow into adults, we must reclaim what it means to be an American. We as conservatives – in our schools, in our citizenship classes, in our families – must constantly remind ourselves and share with those around us what it means (and has always meant) to be American. We must never lose sight of what America stands for, and we must, as a people, focus on our common American spirit. In short, we must reject the salad bowl mentality. To do otherwise is to run the risk of our differences destroying the very fabric that binds us together as a people and has kept America that “Shining City on a Hill” for more than 200 years.

Optimism and the Path Ahead

I often think conservatives see the world through an optimistic lens. They believe, as Ronald Reagan often said, that America's best days lie ahead. They believe in the basic goodness of mankind, and that God created the United States of America to hold a special place in the World, to serve as a shining beacon on a hill representative of individual freedom and liberty.

As I rode to work today, I read an excellent commentary by Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina. The commentary appeared in today's issue of the Washington, D.C. Examiner, a free newspaper publication widely distributed in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. In his commentry, Senator DeMint noted that while Republicans lost in this past election, it is because Republicans strayed from conservative principle, and noted that fundamentally, America itself has not changed. He noted strong evidence that America remains a conservative country, with fully 60 percent of Americans identifying themselves as conservatives every year since 2002. Democrats' victories across the country, he explains, in large measure resulted from Democrats running on conservative themes of tax cuts, spending restraint, Second Amendment rights, and energy independence. He explains that the recent Republican losses and the Democrats' undoubted push for a liberal agenda give conservative Republicans a golden opportunity moving forward. He proposes a four-point plan that conservatives need to begin acting on now.

They include first leading by example. This means imposing a 2-year earmark moratorium and ending the seniority-based system in the Republican party that too often rewards seniority over merit. He proposes replacing it instead by a merit-based system for conference leaders and committee assignments. Second, Republicans must restablish themselves as the party of ideas, offering superior alternatives to emphasize personal control over better quality health care, education, and retirement. Third, Republicans must work with Democrats when it furthers America's interests, but must fight against a liberal agenda, recognizing their moral obligation to "fight for freedom and liberty in our great country." Finally, Republicans must recruit new conservative leaders. As Senator DeMint notes, "We need more Sarah Palins -- moms, dads, teachers, doctors and business owners who want to defend liberty and solve big problems, not become part of the Washington establishment. We must find them, encourage them and fight for their elections."

Senator DeMint echoes many of my own thoughts, and the purpose for this blog. Identifying the broad themes, creating a limited and easily explained agenda that represents those broad themes, and recruiting conservatives leaders who are not out for power for themselves but rather to change America for the better, is what this blog is all about.

You can read the entire DeMint commentary by clicking here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Quote of the day: Optimism

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Back to the Future...

Today’s Quote:

Is it that God has at last removed his blessing from the U.S.A. and
what we feel now is just the clank of the old historical machinery,
the sudden jerking ahead of the rollercoaster cars as the chain catches
hold and carries us out and up toward the brink from that felicitous
and privileged siding where even unbelievers admitted that if it was
not God who blessed the U.S.A., then at least some great good luck
had befallen us, and that now the blessing or the luck is over, the
machinery clanks, the chain catches hold, and the cars jerk forward?

From Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins

Sometimes, before we resume battle, we require time to reflect on past as well as current events. As I thought about what to write this morning, I thought about a time thirty years ago that my brother and fellow blogger may scarcely remember. I thought, too, about the opportunity that bad times offers, and the consequences that flow from the ways in which we use that opportunity.

Two months ago we faced a gasoline shortage in my neck of the woods. A tsunami of bad events seemed to rain down upon us; it included the hurricane that disrupted refining and shipping of gas to parts of the country, followed quickly by the unbelievable failure of Wachovia, followed by the equally incredible fall of the market. The failures in the banking/mortgage sector and the market seemed surreal. We could not grasp the terrible news that kept coming and getting worse. Oddly, having to hoard and hunt for gas made all of the larger bad events seem more real. For me, the hoarding and the hunting recalled memories from decades ago: when I was in college, Jimmy Carter was elected. Gas prices, along with all other prices, skyrocketed, and I remember sitting in gas lines caused by Carter’s misguided effort to control them. I remember, too, graduating from a top university with top honors and discovering that unemployment awaited me. So, I won a scholarship to go back to school. When I finished, Ronald Reagan had just been elected president. With the economy still in free-fall, my spouse and I found jobs and a nice little house with a sixteen percent fixed thirty year mortgage. And then began the decades of prosperity and relative peace. My children have never known hard economic times. They have no idea what it is to work hard and find no reward. Ronald Reagan saw the opportunity that the last bad times offered, and he used that opportunity to the lasting benefit of a generation.

Now we face another such opportunity, but with a very different president-elect at the helm. I do not think that presidents really control the large events such as hurricanes and financial markets, but how they use the opportunity that bad times offer will affect us all for good or ill. Carter prolonged a recession by increasing taxes and trying to control inflation with price controls. He also aggravated the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, again prolonging that crisis. What little information President-Elect Obama has given us regarding how he will use the opportunity that current bad events offer suggests that he will emulate Carter. If so, my children will face what I faced thirty years ago or worse: they will graduate with good degrees and face unemployment; they will face higher taxes and consequent inflated prices; they will face shortages of key commodities; they will face ongoing crises abroad. Such a wonderful childhood they had, but what of their future?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Freedom from Excessive Regulation

Freedom is a notion that too many Americans take for granted. Few Americans today fully understand or appreciate freedom’s sacrifices. This was something that Ronald Reagan understood implicitly, and made sure to remind us, in only the way Reagan could. Freedom, as Reagan would acknowledge, is something that must be won over and over again. In his own words,

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

And so it is again today.

When Reagan came to office, he faced staggering economic decline, in large measure brought on by excessive government regulation and burdensome taxation that strangled ingenuity and entrepreneurship, the backbone of a free and thriving economy. Reagan understood then that America was dangerously on the brink of losing its freedom from within, imposed by its own government as much as any risks posed by external sources.

That’s why, now 28 years after Reagan inspired Americans to dream again, to have faith in the American spirit again, and to embark on a new era of lesser government, we must redouble our efforts to remind Americans that bigger government is never the answer.

Conservatives did not have a voice in this election. Consequently, the liberals effectively shaped the debate on the economy as a failure of deregulation. Regrettably, the Republicans in this election seemed to concede this issue. Deregulation in the 1980s, however, led to one of the biggest and most sustained economic booms in American history. It opened up opportunities for millions of Americans – to travel, to open businesses, to land good jobs, and to reap economic rewards from the fruits of their labor. Few in either party questioned the merits and the successes of deregulating the economy. Today, as we once again hear calls for greater regulation, let us call to task those blaming our economic challenges on deregulation. Let us remind our citizens that it is not deregulation that has led us to where we are today, it is expansion of government and government mandates as represented by government sponsored enterprises (namely, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) that are directly to blame. It was government that created these enterprises, government that imposed upon these enterprises legislative obligations to place people in homes they could not afford, and government that failed to heed the early warning signs that all was not well at Freddie and Fannie. We should not and cannot allow liberalism to use its own failings as represented by Freddie and Fannie to re-impose regulations on the rest of the American economy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today's Quote:

So let us ask ourselves, "What kind of people do we think we are?" And let us answer, "Free people, worthy of freedom and determined not only to remain so but to help others gain their freedom as well."

from Ronald Reagan's June 8, 1982 Westminster Speech

Conservatism's Challenges

I pulled out Peggy Noonan's biography of Reagan (When Character Was King) this morning. I think that conservatives need to focus on ideas--one reason that the information about Obama's associates never took off is that its significance was never articulated well: we should care about that information because it is all that we have with which to assess him--he has no legislative or other governmental track record. If he had a legislative record of any length or significance, his associations would be less important.
Well, let me extricate myself from that little rabbit hole and return to the main point. One of the best things about Reagan was his belief in the power of his ideas--he did not have to talk about his opponents' personal problems or failings because he could expose and defeat their ideas. In retrospect, I think that conservatives focused too much on Clinton's personal peccadilloes; as demeaning and disgusting as those were, we should have hammered Clinton's ideas. Gingrich did just that in 1994 with great success.
I think that conservatives always have an uphill battle--we are not giving anything away, we're going to face up to serious international challenges (which makes us perpetually seem like storm crows), and we're going to advocate for a civil society. Sometimes I despair of ever overcoming the fundamental hurdles that we face, but I remind myself that a society can run but it cannot hide forever from reality, from that big bedrock that I call Truth. (When I think of "Truth" with a capital "T," I think of Chesterton's description of the character Sunday in The Man Who Was Thursday--another rabbit hole...) Since I'm currently teaching the book of Acts to both middle schoolers and elderly women at church, I remind myself of Paul after his conversion--I remind myself that the greatest apologist for Christianity began as an ardent persecutor of Christians; I remind myself that, after his conversion, Paul was a fugitive from his people. Yet, thanks largely to the conviction and perseverance of this man, Christianity became the dominant faith in his world, as it continues to be in ours. Paul, too, had to preach against culture--the corrupt world of late antiquity.
The other lesson that Paul teaches is an organizational one: we need to begin now to organize for 2010; we have a much better chance, I think, of prevailing in off-year elections. I think that our ideas focus should be narrow--we need to pick that focus carefully and stick to it like glue. Over the years, I've concluded that economics is the key battleground. Money powers the federal government; limit the money, and we limit the scope and intrusiveness of government. I don't think that economic conservatives have made their case well enough to social conservatives. Social conservatives need to understand that limiting the money that government has will limit government's ability to interfere in social issues such as abortion, marriage, and so forth. Part of what drives the gay marriage movement is the federal/state benefits that married couples enjoy (or are perceived to enjoy), including pensions, Social Security, tax filing status. Social conservatives also need to clarify their own theology regarding wealth-sharing: Jews and Christians are commanded to care for the "widows and orphans" among us Giving succor to those less fortunate is laudable; religiously motivated folks, however, often confuse voting to "spread the wealth" with providing that succor. Unfortunately, while giving one's own money is a virtue, voting to force someone else to give money conveys no moral benefit to either the voter or his victim; it is simply a form of extortion.
Final thought on this day after: conservatives need to think locally. We should apply the military's "hearts and minds" campaign to our own neighborhoods.
In sum, going forward we should organize, focus on our economic message, make common economic cause with social conservatives, and think locally.

Day 1: November 5, 2008

Today, the day after Democrats swept the Presidency and expanded their majorities in both the House and the Senate, is a time to reflect on Conservatism, its past, present and future, and its true meaning. It is a time to come together to regain our voice, and craft our path ahead to a brighter future. It is not about winning or losing for their own sake. It's about what's best for our country and always will be: limited government, a strong national defense, individual freedom and its corresponding responsibility.

The purpose of this blog, then, is to offer a forum for discussion of what Conservatism means, what it is, and what it looks like in the modern age. It's about how Republicans have strayed from its simple concepts as so eloquently embodied by Ronald Reagan, and how, as a people, we can reclaim its principles and battle effectively in the world of ideas.

Our nation faces very difficult times ahead. It is vitally important that each one of us fight for this great land, for all it has stood for in its short, but rich history. Today, then, let's begin that long process of reclaiming Conservatism. Let's begin a discussion about what Conservatism is and should be, and begin to reclaim our country.