Saturday, September 22, 2012

2016:Obama's America -- a Review

So I finally got around to seeing 2016, the movie.  It was surprisingly good.  Let me explain.  I was familiar with the book by Dinesh D'Souza upon which the movie was based.  D'Souza is a conservative writer who wrote, inter alia, "What's so Great about Christianity?" a book I truly enjoyed, in which he discusses the unique aspects of the Christian belief that make it the most popular religion in the world.  But, having read the reviews of his book about the roots of Obama's belief, I thought his theory, that Obama is an anti-colonialist, a bit far-fetched so I never bought it or read it.  But in this political season I thought I sort of owed it to the people courageous enough to make a conservative movie to at least go and see it.  Wow.  For a documentary, a very good movie.  What is surprising about it is that he makes a very good case for his theory.  The movie, through liberal use of sort of stock footage of foreign countries and a lively score moves quickly and doesn't get caught up too much with talking heads even though it is sort of a talking heads movie.

What surprised me, having formerly moved in leftist circles a lot is that it is not really anti-Obama. If you are a leftist who supported Obama, I think you would come away from this movie liking him even more.  It is not a stridently anti-Obama movie.  It tries to present autobiographical facts in a straightforward and somewhat sympathetic manner.  It is an anti-Obama movie largely because the vast majority of American voters are not leftists.

D'Souza's theory is most likely more persuasive in the movie than the book because of the medium. The movie makes liberal use of Obama reading from his autobiography, "Dreams From my Father".  I assume they bought the audiobook from Amazon or Barnes and Noble and are relying on the fair use doctrine  for their right to use the quotes.   So a scene of Obama's father's grave in Kenya accompanied by Obama, in his own voice, talking about how he burst into tears when he visited the grave and how his sense of identity came together for him there in Kenya is probably far more persuasive than simply seeing the words on a page.   There is a little added drama because some paid actor whom we see only from the back kneels before the grave as Obama says he did, which is a little hokey but helps one to visualize Obama's own words.

D'Souza comes to the story from a similar background.  He is an Indian immigrant.  But unlike Obama, he has embraced the United States, economic freedom, and capitalism.  He does not try to disguise who he is or what his views are, but he shares with us his Indian grandfather's comment on learning that Dinesh was heading to the United States for college.  "it's all white there".  His grandfather, an anti-colonialist himself, didn't want Dinesh to go.

So, I highly recommend the movie.  I hope some of my avowedly liberal friends will go see it and report back to me about whether they like Obama even more, having seen it.  That's my theory, anyway.  For my friends in the San Gabriel Valley, it is playing at the Edward's Renaissance on Main Street and Garfield in Alhambra and they do give a senior discount if you remember to ask for it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Obama's Anti-Jobs Policies: The Particulars

When you file a criminal indictment, you have to state the specifics.  What did the perp steal, when did he steal it, where did he steal it.  Similarly, those of us who say Obama is a job destroyer should be specific.

So here goes:

Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board have been extremely anti-business and overreaching.  Example: the Boeing Decision:  The NLRB prohibited the Boeing Company from opening a new plant in South CArolina in which it had already spent hundreds of millions of dollars.  It was anticipated that about 1000 new jobs would have been created.  After hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and congressional hearings, the administration dropped its case.  That is not cost free.  Smaller employers who cannot afford to fight back, will just give in to the combination of bureaucratic and union intimidation.  And then they will quietly go out of business.  The laws of economics are as inexorable as the laws of physics.  American goods, including airplanes, have to compete in a world market.  WE already saw the auto industry in the U. S. nearly destroyed because it couldn't compete with foreign auto manufacturers.  The Obama administration thinks that by giving unions whatever want they can somehow change that. It's craziness. They don't live in the real world.

The drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico went on for much longer than necessary, putting some small oil related businesses our of business.

The drop in approval of new oil drilling permits on federal lands reflects an anti-business mode as well.

AS for the complaint that the oil companies get the permits and then don't drill, maybe you should consult Governor Palin about that.  She handled the problem in Alaska and the oil companies started drilling.

The EPA's carbon dioxide regulations, pushed by Obama as a solution to the allegedly rising sea levels
are another anti-jobs action.  It greatly increases the cost of manufacturing, which might explain why so many companies are moving overseas where they don't have to comply with such regulations.

Another example of the anti-business animus is what happened to the maker of Gibson guitars.  After spending around a million dollars on legal fees for what it believed was unjustified, the business threw in the towel and settled.  In the thirties in Chicago when small businesses gave in and paid the protection it was called extortion.  Now its the federal government.  It is bad for business, this extorting small and medium companies.  And people with ideas and money to invest in new businesses are becoming increasingly reluctant to start them because it feels more and more like we are living in a government thugacracy in which government agents hold up small businesses with extortionate lawsuits .

I will post more later.  This is just a beginning.
But the cumulative effect of these anti-business attitudes is that there are a lot fewer jobs because people who might otherwise start businesses see our economy, the U. S. economy, and the U. S. legal framework as just too risky.  And the risk isn't earthquakes or fires.  Its the Obama administrations anti-buinsess animus.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Obama Can't Find the Time

The president is oh so sorry he can't fit Bibi Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, into his busy schedule, but he has time to give an interview to the Pimp with a Limp.  He also has time to go on the David Letterman show.  And Professor Alan Dershowitz is kind of unhappy about it.   And so am I.  That phrase "never again"-- I heard it first in high school or maybe before. Back in that time, Europe was still recovering from WWII.  When I was in grade school we filled little boxes to send to the refugees and displaced persons in Europe who had next to nothing after the war.   Most of the kids I went to High School, and middle school with, back in the 50's were Jewish.  They were the first generation after THE WAR.  (i.e. WWII).  Nearly everyone of them had relatives back in Europe who had been killed during the Holocaust.  While the Holocaust was, for me, a horrible story, it had no personal dimension other than the fact that my dad was wounded in WWII.  Being Christian, I had no relatives who had died in concentration camps.

But, having heard and read about the stories, I understood "never again".

And here's my problem, this whole world situation is feeling more and more like 1939. For those who aren't up on history, the second World War started in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland.  England had warned them and they did it anyway.  

So today we have a regime that frequently calls for the eradication of all Jews and that  states that Hitler didn't do it right and we have, essentially, said that we will bow down to whatever they want.  It's disgusiting

The Making of a Republican Part 4: The importance of work

I was raised by a single mother for most of my life.  I saw my own father now and then, but the real father figure in my life was my grandfather.  My grandfather was a kind of enigmatic character.  He was short but never had a Napoleon complex.  He taught me so many things, I cannot even count  them all, but one of them was about personal responsibility.  You don't make excuses.  You do everything in your power to do what you are supposed to do.  Show up on time.  Do the job you are assigned.  All honest work has value no matter how lowly or grubby it is.  These are the values my grandfather lived and taught me.  The picture is of me, my mother and my grandfather on my graduation from law school.

When I was young, surrounded as I was by Democrats, I was shocked to find out, in my teens, that my grandfather was a Republican.  He was from Nebraska. He grew up on a farm, worked his way through Springfield College in Massachusetts where they trained people to become Physical Education teachers, and got a job teaching Phys. Ed at USC, where he remained his entire life.

He took care of his family.  That's what you do.  If your daughter is having a hard time and not making it, well, she moves in with you and you find a way.  We lived with him off and on.  So did my aunts.  He took care of his grandchildren and his great grandchildren.  Its what you do.

So I learned from grandfather about being responsible for your own life and decisions.  I learned that dealing with the hand that fate dealt you was the grown up way instead of sitting around and bemoaning all the barriers and problems and unfair breaks and problems.  You face them.  You deal with them.  You do your best.

What I found in life was that doing things for yourself is the best way.  To start out with, there are certain things that only you can do for yourself, like breathe and go to the bathroom.  Yes you can get assistance with those functions but really, not for long and its pretty awful.  It turns out that self esteem, is pretty much the same.  True self esteem comes from taking care of yourself, achieving your goals and making a contribution.  No amount of compliments from well meaning fools can give you real regard for yourself.  Climbing Mt. Whitney, running a marathon, in my case, walking up the 4 flights of stairs in the parking structure where I park near the Apple store.  These are the things that give you a sense of well being and accomplishment.

I was a welfare worker for 6 years.  I have literally sat in the living rooms of hundreds, if not thousands, of poor people, listening to their stories and dutifully writing them down and giving them advice.  I think I may have genuinely helped a few.  You have to want to be helped.  One 18 year old mother of three scoffed at the idea that she might go back to school and make something of her life.  I told her that that is what my mother did.  My mom was a teacher after having two children before the age of 20.  I pointed out to my client that there are still community colleges and her own mom could babysit while she was in school.  Her response was "That's different.  You're white".  "And yet", I replied, "so far as I know, they let black people go to community college for the same price as white people".  The LACK of hope that I saw so many places really had no foundation.  This is a country where people who come here with literally only the clothes on their backs not only survive but prosper.  How sad to have thousands of voices telling you that you cannot succeed or do well for yourself because of your skin color.  Sadly, most of those voices are coming from people who say they care about black people and other minorities.

I know too many people of all races who have pulled themselves up with their own energy, determination and ambition to fall for that pessimism.   Working in the welfare department, I was subjected to an enormous dose of liberal orthodoxy.  I was encouraged to tell one of my clients, a young woman who WAS determined to make something of her life, to quit her job as a hotel maid because it was a dead end job.  Nonsense.  She was going to school at night to become a Registered Nurse.  She had a plan and I encouraged her to stick with it.

That was my first experience with liberal snobbishness.  Many of the liberals who worked with me looked down their noses at people who worked with their hands or performed services for other people.  They would never have agreed with my grandfather that any honest work has dignity.  But how can we expect people to succeed and have happy and prosperous lives if we tell them that the jobs that they can actually get, like cleaning someone's house, cutting the grass in someone's yard, picking fruit, is beneath their dignity.  Nonsense.  Every job you have contributes to your experience.  Taking care of yourself, knowing that you did something productive to put food on your table and shelter over your head, has a great value.  And no job is truly a dead end job because it gives you experience to do something else.

As I moved through adult life I found that my attitude toward work was regarded as stupid and neanderthal by the enlightened liberals.  They thought everybody should be an accountant a poet or an artist.  Maybe a doctor or dentist was okay too.  They had no respect even for plumbers and electricians.  They considered them declasse.

One thing I found out about Republicans, on the other hand, was that they, on average, had a much greater respect for work of any kind.  I suppose since so many of them do run businesses they understand that the guy who empties the trash at night when everyone else is gone from the office, and the woman who polishes the floor, is just as important in his or her own way as the lawyer who walks out the door to the courthouse.  All of us contribute to the wellbeing of our community by the work that we do and all of it is important.

That attitude, I was to find later in life, definitely made me a Republican.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Making of a Republican: Abortion and Me

It doesn't really come in chronological order.  My position on abortion has moved around a lot in my life.  When I was growing up abortion was a non -issue.  It was illegal and nobody really wanted to change it.  Heck, birth control was illegal in some states.  But then, in the 60's and 70's, with radical social change sweeping around the world and across the nation, people did try to bring the issue of abortion out of the back alleys and the illegal abortion dens.  And I encouraged it and was in favor of it.  In those days, in the 60's, being pregnant out of wedlock was a big shame.  Lots of people were having sex out of wedlock and no one tried to hide that fact, but getting pregnant, not cool.

But then I married and I tried to get pregnant and it took me a year to get a positive test.  Back then, medical people thought I was a little old to be getting pregnant.  I was 27 when my daughter Elizabeth was born.  And that experience changed me and my position on abortion.  Before I was pregnant I was willing to mouth approval of abortion any time before the baby was born.  Having experienced the actual fact, I knew that there was a new person growing inside of me.  That is just an undeniable fact.

We have become so disconnected from our own bodies and our own animal nature that we have a hard time with the undeniable reality of the reproductive process.  As strange as it seems, and sometimes it does seem strange, there is another person growing inside of you.  And that person has a personality even before he/she is born. Some babies move a lot.  Some are relatively quiet.  Some even seem to respond to touching your abdomen.  And just when you think that you know all about pregnancy and small babies because you have had one, you get pregnant again and the second one is different from the first.

And, while a fetus has a heart beat by the time it is three or four months along, we don't treat an early miscarriage as the loss of a person.  We don't.  In fact a fairly high percentage of babies spontaneously abort in the first trimester.  So, like the vast majority of the American people, my position on abortion is squishy.  While I believe that every pregnancy is a gift of new life from God, I am not willing to impose that belief in the first trimester of pregnancy.  Our social mores and the statistics both tell us that the baby isn't really fully formed yet.

Being something of a libertarian, I believe that people should be able to make their own decisions about health care and certainly women should.  But when pregnancy is involved, there is another life.  That is irrefutably true.  It is ancient.  It is what happens in the mammal world.  We carry new life within us. At some point, that life also has a right to exist.

While I believe that parents have the right to make almost all decisions for their children, that right does not extend to killing them.  It does not extend to causing physical or severe psychiatric harm to them.  (And I mean severe.  Every parent is viewed by his or her child of causing some psychiatric harm.  )  And the ineluctable fact is that by the time a woman is 6 months and maybe even 5 months pregnant, that life is capable of surviving outside of her body.

So I come down on the side of Roe v. Wade.  The dividing line is the viability of the baby.  Can the baby survive outside the mother?  And, thanks to great advances in neonatal care, the answer is yes earlier and earlier.

But what if a woman doesn't want to be pregnant?  The answer is simple, get an abortion earlier then.
But what about saving the life of the mother?  I absolutely agree that terminating a pregnancy must be an option when the mother's life is at risk.  The problem is that, once you are past 26 weeks, or even 22 weeks, terminating the pregnancy means having an emergency C section because that is the fastest way to terminate a pregnancy after 22 weeks.  T

So what is the difference between terminating a pregnancy and having an abortion?  Terminating a pregnancy is just that, removing the baby from the uterus.  The fastest way to get the baby out of the mother's body is to perform a C-Section.  The other alternative is to induce labor.  There is some controversy over which method is best, although C-section tends to be the prevalent way of delivering babies early.  Either way, the only difference between terminating a pregnancy and abortion is the necessity of killing the baby before it is removed if you want to call it an abortion.  That's reality.

If, like Camille Paglia, you think that is okay, at least be honest about it.  Late term abortions are NEVER necessary to save the life of the mother.  Late term terminations may be, but babies born after 26 weeks gestation, upon removal by C section or induced birth, tend to live.

So late term abortion is really  first kill the baby then deliver it.  Doesn't it take longer to  deliver if you have to kill the baby first?   REally?

So what about all those babies who are born to mothers who don't want them.  Well, actually in this country there are not many.  And those babies are just about 100 percent wanted by someone else.  

Does the birth mom suffer because she knows there is a child of hers in the world that she has given away?  Undoubtedly, but she has the consolation of knowing that her baby is alive and most likely having a happy life with another set of parents who really wanted him or her.  Steve Jobs was adopted. Would the world be better off without him?  I don't think so.

But the point is beyond morality when that baby is sufficiently formed to live apart from the mother.  The facts of late term abortion are, that what the mother is doing in choosing a late term abortion is not to her own body, but to the body of the person who has been growing inside her.   She is choosing to have someone kill it so that she will not be burdened with a living baby after it is removed.  That is the hard fact. Because if all she did was elect to have the baby removed from her body, in a late term procedure, the baby would almost certainly be born alive with a fairly high chance of survival.  That's the reality..  So, I would be fine with allowing the mother to terminate the pregnancy if she so chose. But not to terminate the life within her.  There is a huge difference.  If she terminates the pregnancy early the mere decision to terminate ends that life.  But in a late term abortion, it does not. The fetus must be killed.  And that is someone deciding that someone else, in this case her own child, is not entitled to live.

And what does that have to do with the making of a Republican, I believe the Democrat platform and support of late term abortion is wrong, very wrong.  And that, apparently, makes me a Republican.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Making of a Republican 1:the Tipping Point

Malcom Gladwell, in The Tipping Point , talks about how change occurs.  Sometimes a myriad of conditions can create a situation in which one small thing can change the course of history.  I remember my tipping point when it came to changing my party affiliation.  I was working for Tony Gallegos at the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as his Attorney Adviser.  He had been in charge of Democrats for Reagan in California.  As a life long Democrat, I couldn't understand how he could have supported Reagan.  I still remember his response.  "Susan", he said, "it's not a religion".  Somehow, I was at a point in my spiritual journey as well as my political journey where that comment caused my own feelings to coalesce around it.  On reflection later that day I realized that I had, my entire life, treated my political affiliation as if it were a religion.  And its not.  Like Tony said, you pick the political party or candidate that gives you the most of what you want.  In a democratic society, because a political party must appeal to millions of people, you are unlikely to ever have a party that gives you everything you want, so you settle for a party or a candidate that gives you the most of what you agree with.  This is not a sign of the failure of our system but of the fact that we are a democracy.

Imagine if you were part of a committee (say, like your family) charged with redecorating a house.  It is very likely that nobody will get all of exactly what they want.  That is because no two individuals are identical (not even identical twins).  So compromises have to be made.  When no compromises have to made, it is likely because one person is a dictator and the rest submit.

I didn't become a Republican right away, but that comment touched off a reflection in me about my political beliefs.  I began to review what I believed and who I admired in a different light.  I didn't owe any political party my loyalty per se.  If that party did not produce for me the outcomes that I wanted, I was morally free to change parties.  That was really liberating.

I realized that, having been raised in a Democrat worshipping household, I had demonized Republicans just as my mother did and just as the entertainment industry and the main stream media do today.  But when Reagan came to Washington I discovered that the real Republicans I met, the flesh and blood appointees of President Reagan and their friends and associates, were actually, for the most part, nice human beings.  I was unprepared for that.    I had, for example, the opportunity to meet and talk with Senator Orrin Hatch.  He turned out to be a really intelligent, funny and interesting person to talk to.  Far from imposing his views on others he enjoyed the challenge of debating them.

That comment from my then boss was like an insidious challenge that broke down every preconception I had lived with and nurtured for 40 years.  The Democrat party had changed and had changed in ways that I did not like at all.  Under George Mc Govern, the socialist thinkers had been given a foothold and under Jimmy Carter they had taken over.  These are the people who think that the government should, if not own everything, certainly run everything  They think the government should decide what your wages are and what products a business makes.  I know this because I met a lot of them when I was younger and when I was in Washington.  Because I was a Democrat they assumed that I shared their belief systems and they were very open about what they wanted to do.

I knew that I was opposed to that kind of total control by the government and I still am.  And that is one of the reasons why I became a Republican.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Making of a Republican: The Preface

In "The Secret Knowledge"  David Mamet, a very successful playwright and screenwriter, talked about how and why he became a conservative.  Reading that book inspired me to share my own story.  I call this post the preface because you, dear reader, cannot understand my conversion from a die hard Democrat who has once registered in the Peace and Freedom party to a Reagan Republican, unless you know how I got my political start.

I was raised by a single mother and had an older and a younger sister.  Although we didn't have much money and lived with my grandparents from time to time to get through, I have many happy memories of my childhood. I grew up in what I still believe to be one of the most beautiful places in the world, Southern California.  Back then it was more rural, and less crowded. The beautiful natural beaches with which Los Angeles is blessed and the majestic mountain backdrop that can be seen only when the sky is not smoggy, were a given when I was a kid.  I thought everybody had that kind of beauty in their lives.

My mother was a liberal, perhaps in rebellion against her parents (my grandparents' ) conservative views.  At any rate, one of my early memories was of being scolded by my mother for repeating the old sing songy rhyme, "eeny, meeny, money, moe, catch a ..... by the toe" the way I learned it was with a word my mother told me she would wash my mouth out if I ever used it again.  I have used it since only to report on the use of it by others.  You know, the "n" word.  I was also told that, even in that period shortly after WWII  when the bombing at Pearl Harbor was still as vivid to Americans as the memory of 9/11 is to this generation, I was never to refer to persons of Japanese American ancestry as Japs and that they were not responsible for the war. (meaning Japanese Americans as opposed to the Japanese government).  So, long before it was really fashionable, I was indoctrinated to be accepting of people without regard to race or ethnicity.  I was taught that Franklin Roosevelt (not Teddy) was the greatest American president and that we didn't like Ike.

I grew up content in this left wing belief system and, when I became interested in church and religion in my teens, I found myself believing that the Democrat party and Christ were pretty well aligned in their belief systems.  In high school I got involved with a left wing group that was picketing the old Woolworth's store  in downtown Los Angeles because their lunch counters were segregated in the south.  I walked on  peace marches calling for unilateral disarmament and listened to Linus Pauling.  The greatest moment of my 17th year was meeting Adlai Stevenson, who lost the nomination to Jack Kennedy.  Having just lost the nomination, Stevenson put his arm around me and consoled me in my disappointment.  In college I saw Jack Kennedy speak at USC and was awed.  

After I graduated from  college in 1964, I became a social worker and became involved in starting and growing an SEIU local.  I became ever more left wing, I think, mostly because it was fashionable back then.  It was the 60's.  I was what was called a weekend hippy flower child.  I worked at a regular job but affected a sort of hippy life style after hours and on weekends.  I lived in tiny apartments and drove foreign imports and, I think, really had a lot of fun.

Then I hit 25 and became more serious with life.  Married, back to law school, became a mom.  Graduated.  Went to work for a firm that represented labor unions because that was my dream.  Represented the Musician's Union.  Went to work for the EEOC, moved to San Francisco and then to Washington D. C.  I like to say that one of Jimmy Carter's great achievements was that he made me a Republican. In 1984, for the first time in my entire life up to then, I voted for a Republican, Ronald Reagan.  The thought of doing that when I had the opportunity to vote for him as governor in the 60's  would have been repugnant and totally rejected.  But my views on politics had become transformed.  Like Ronald Reagan, I believed that I had not left the Democratic party.  It had left me.

Looking back I realize that there were dozens, perhaps hundreds of incidents and experiences that contributed to that change of view, and finally, they all crystallized in 1984.  I changed my registration and have never gone back.  I intend to share a few of those experiences in the hope that other people will experience a wake up moment as Governor of New Mexico Susanna Martinez did, and as I did, and say, "I'll be damned.  I'm a Republican".