The State of the Union has evolved into a national conversation on social media. Twitter and Facebook light up for a couple hours in ways rarely seen in politics. I did my duty by tweeting out snarky comments and posting on Facebook.
The best post-speech commentary came from National Review’s Jim Geraghty:
My Fellow Americans, the State of Our Union Is . . . Interminable
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The only part of the president’s State of the Union address that you need to read:
“I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program — a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.
A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.
For months, he lay in a coma. The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.
Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again — and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.
“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.”
Cory Remsburg is a Dagwood sandwich of courage, determination, inspiration, and all-around bad-assery.
The rest of the speech was interminable, meandering, shifting in tone, unfocused, and at least twice as long as it needed to be. In a development that surprises no one, his fans liked it, his critics largely hated it, and millions upon millions of Americans wondered what happened to their favorite shows that usually air at 9 p.m. Eastern.
The only thing worse than a boring State of the Union? Having three GOP responses. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers did a fine job, but I don’t understand why Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Rand Paul gave responses other than feeding their own egos.
The thing that mystifies me is why the response is not done with a live audience. One of the best GOP responses in recent years was Gov. Bob McDonnell when he delivered his response from the state capital of Virginia with a live audience. It made a world of difference on how the response played to viewers across the country. But no one has replicated that model since, and the responses have been mostly yawns.
I’m just glad it’s over.
Over the last few months there has been an undercurrent of murmuring, mostly within the beltway, that Rubio’s presidential hopes had been dashed on the rocks of immigration reform and that the shiny objects of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz had eclipsed the former tea-party darling.
But we’re a long, long way from the next presidential nominating contest in the GOP and Rubio is proving that he is still a relevant voice for the party, particularly when calling folks to the higher visions of American Exceptionalism in a way that would make Ronald Reagan proud.
To mark the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s speech on the “War on Poverty,” Rubio gave a stem-winder that demonstrates that he has a compelling story to tell and that he understands, in his bones, the kind of things that do and don’t work when striving for the American Dream.
I have excerpted some of my favorite portions below, but it’s well worth the time to read the whole thing.
My parents, like most people that have ever lived, were raised in a country where they were trapped by the circumstances of their birth. But just ninety miles away there was a country where, through hard work and perseverance, anyone could get ahead. And so they came here with virtually nothing.
Their first years in America were difficult. They worked long hours for little pay. But they kept on, and in time, their lives improved. They never became rich or famous and yet they lived the American Dream. Because like most people, for them happiness wasn’t about becoming wealthy. It was about finding work that paid a livable wage. It was about a happy family life, retiring with security, and one day giving their children the chance to be anything they wanted.
My parents’ story, of two everyday people who were given the chance to work their way into a better life, is a common one here in America. A defining national characteristic rooted in a principle that was at the core of our nation’s birth: that everyone has a God given right to live freely and pursue happiness.
This conviction has proven to be far more than just a line on a founding document. It has become the shared and defining value of a nation. It has set America apart and attracted people from every corner of the world.
The visionaries, the ambitious, the people who refused to accept the stagnant ways of the old world, they came here. They brought their ideas and their dreams. And finally, free from the restraints placed upon them in the nations of their birth, they helped build the most prosperous nation in human history.
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson sought to address the plight of poverty by waging a war against it. On that day, he stood before a joint session of Congress and vowed, “It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won.”
His very next sentence served as a small window into his big-government vision for this war, and into its future failures. He said of the War on Poverty, “The richest nation on earth can afford to win it.” And with those words, he foreshadowed the belief still held by liberals to this very day: that government spending is the central answer to healing the wounds of poverty.
Social factors also play a major role in denying equal opportunity. The truth is, the greatest tool to lift children and families from poverty is one that decreases the probability of child poverty by 82%. But it isn’t a government spending program. It’s called marriage.
Fifty years ago, today, when the War on Poverty was launched, 93% of children born in the United States were born to married parents. By 2010 that number had plummeted to 60%. It should not surprise us that 71% of poor families with children are not headed by a married couple.
The decline of marriage and the increase in the percentage of children born out of wedlock is driven by a complex set of cultural and societal factors. But there is another interesting impediment to marriage worth keeping in mind. A 2011 report by the Pew Research Center found that 64% of adults with college degrees are married, while only 47% of those with a high-school education or less are.
Real American free enterprise is about a broad and growing economy that creates opportunities for everyone to get ahead. It creates the opportunity to become wealthy. But it also creates good and stable middle class jobs like the ones my parents had.
But instead of fostering a vibrant job-producing economy, our federal government is a major impediment to the enterprise and ingenuity of our people. An expensive tax code, burdensome regulations, and an unsustainable national debt are suffocating our economy’s ability to create enough steady and good paying jobs. That is why poverty and inequality have only gotten worse under the current administration.
Instead we need policies that make our country the easiest and best place in the world to create jobs. This means removing the uncertainty created by a dangerous and growing national debt, enacting a simple and affordable tax code that incentivizes investment, and eliminating regulations that prevent employers from expanding and our energy sector from growing.
Therefore, what I am proposing today is the most fundamental change to how the federal government fights poverty and encourages income mobility since President Johnson first conceived of the War on Poverty fifty years ago. I am proposing that we turn Washington’s anti-poverty programs – and the trillions spent on them – over to the states.
Our anti-poverty programs should be replaced with a revenue neutral Flex Fund. We would streamline most of our existing federal anti-poverty funding into one single agency. Then each year, these Flex Funds would be transferred to the states so they can design and fund creative initiatives that address the factors behind inequality of opportunity.
This worked in the 1990s with welfare reform. In that case, Congress gave the states the ability to design their own programs, and in turn the states enacted policies that promoted work rather than dependence. In the years that followed, this led to a decline in poverty rates and welfare expenses.
I haven’t been in Washington long, but I’ve been here long enough to know that everything here gets analyzed through the lens of electoral politics. But upward mobility and equal opportunity is not a partisan issue, it is our unifying American principle.
And it has always been a focus of my public service going back to my days as a state representative. Because for me, this is personal.
I am but a generation removed from poverty and despair. Where would I be today if there had never been an America? What kind of lives or future would my children have if this was not a land of opportunity? What if my father had been stuck working as a bar boy his whole life instead of making it to head bartender.
What kind of life would I have right now? In all likelihood, I too would be among those on the outside looking in, forever frustrated that my parents had no power or privilege and that I was therefore unable to achieve my full potential.
Our status as a land of equal opportunity has made us a rich and powerful nation, but it has also transformed lives. It has given people like me the chance to grow up knowing that no dream was too big and no goal out of reach.
“What was that?” My car had just made a very loud thump and I looked in the rearview mirror to see what it was. “It” was 2013 and it was lying motionless in the road behind me, the life drained out forever.
Ok, that was a little graphic, but what’s behind us, is behind us. And we move on.
However, we know that we are supposed to learn from the past so that we don’t repeat our mistakes, so it’s probably worth thinking about what we can learn from 2013.
So, what’s the big lesson learned from 2013?
It’s time for conservatives to assert ourselves and push back on the complete tripe that the Left sputters on a daily basis.
Yes, we took a beating in 2012 – with Romney losing to Obama and losing seats in the U.S. Senate. We were rocked back on our heels and needed to lick our wounds and regroup.
The conservative movement largely sat out of the biggest race of the year in 2013 – the Virginia Governor’s race – and as a result, the king of cronyism and corrupt business dealings, Terry McAuliffe, is now the Governor of Virginia.
So it’s time that we grab our bootstraps and pull ourselves up and make the arguments – from the head and from the heart – that less government involvement in our lives is a good thing.
And I know that we can win the argument. We just need to help people see what is right in front of them.
Think about it. The “Hunger Games” trilogy has been wildly successful and created two blockbuster films. The story is a manifesto against bigger government.
Same goes for “Divergent” which will be released as a major motion picture this year. We (conservatives) lament how the popular culture is working against us, but when something in popular culture makes our point, we need to celebrate it, promote it, expand on it.
The lesson of 2013? Two young girls, each in their own way, asserted themselves to shine the light of truth in a dark world. We need to follow their example.
Here’s to Katniss and Tris – true freedom fighters.
Smugness is obnoxious. Since the failed ObamaCare rollout, there have been a lot of smug Republicans.
They gleefully recount healthcare.gov horror stories—hours spent on the site without being able to sign up—and people who haven’t been able to keep their plans, period. Contrary to the pervasive joy in Conservative circles, these aren’t good things.
The average American may not have been a huge fan of the Affordable Care Act when it passed, but now that it’s law, they’d like it to work properly, make their lives easier. They’re worried. It seems like their government can’t do anything right. Their country appears to be faltering.
They look around for an alternative, someone to rescue them from this leaderless chaos, and what do they see? Republicans with sh**-eating grins on their faces taking triumphant turns on talking head shows. We don’t look like the better option.
If Republicans don’t change our behavior and attitude, we will squander the opportunity to right the terrible wrongs of Obama’s presidency. We can’t dance in the end zone.
We need to let people know that we don’t want to win for the sake of winning. We want to provide constructive solutions to improve their lives. Sometimes, those solutions are just to get government out of the way, a point Obamacare is effectively illustrating for us.
We have to say, “I know you’re frustrated and disappointed the health care law is not working, we are too and here’s what we’d like to do to make it better.” Or, “I recognize that aspects of Obamacare—letting young adults stay on their parents’ plan until age 26 or enabling people with pre-existing conditions to get coverage—really help your family, but we think there’s an even better way to help you and others, and here it is.”
As Republicans, we have the better ideas. If we truly want the American people to give us the chance to prove it, we’d better shape up.
From her blog posted at 4:31pm yesterday, it would appear Peggy Noonan is psychic.
In her advice to Republicans on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Noonan instructs, “Do not be defeated by Sebelius’s media coaches. Do not let the secretary’s slightly dazed unflappability get under your skin. All representatives of government are surrounded by communications advisers. Sebelius’s are no doubt advising her right now to do what they always tell officials in trouble to do: Come forth with long, meaningless yet on some level data-filled sentences that will steer clear of speaking plain truth and yet on some level imply the effort to be candid.”
Noonan then provides a hypothetical transcript that bears a striking resemblance to the actual transcript from today’s hearing:
Q: Madame Secretary, did you know or have reason to know the ObamaCare website would crash on opening day? If you did, did you tell the White House? Who in the White House? If you did not know, how did it happen that you, the person in charge of the program, did not understand the depth of its problems?
A: So, we know through historical experience that a vast, multitiered, horizontally integrated program will always yield or produce certain unanticipated challenges of a technological or other nature, which is inevitably and also predictably the pattern, and it’s increased by the scale and size of the endeavor . . .
Q: Let me ask: Did you know that as soon as the program debuted, millions of Americans would see their own health insurance policies canceled or terminated? And that they would often find that newer policies would be more expensive with less coverage? When did you come to understand this—during the writing of the law, after its passage, in the ensuing years? If you did not know that millions would lose their coverage, how did it happen that you did not know?
A: So, in the intervening days and months following the passage of the ACA, a focused task force composed of peer-reviewed stakeholders throughout the government and the private sector, in addition to appropriate designated agency officials, along with contractors and subcontractors . . .
Of course, initial headlines covering the hearing highlight Sebelius’s apology for the failed rollout. Another delightful tidbit making the rounds online is this exchange between Sebelius and Mississippi representative, Greg Harper, in which Sebelius replies to Harper’s insistence that Obama is ultimately responsible with, “whatever.”
Really however, there was nothing new or earth shattering in the testimony. In fact, for those of us who fought Obamacare since its inception, the failed rollout and millions of Americans losing their current plans is not at all surprising. It’s what we always knew would happen.
As was clear in today’s hearing and this week’s coverage, Democrats have seized on our forewarnings of failure as proof that the failure is our fault.
That’s right. Republicans’ mental power is so strong that we can make things come true simply by stating them out loud. If that were the case, President Romney would currently be dismantling the Affordable Care Act, aided by a Republican controlled House and Senate.
No, responsibility for Obamacare—it’s failures and lies—rests fully with the president and congressional Democrats (reason #123 why it’s best to pass massive legislation with bipartisan support).
The Obamacare debate and debacle highlights big government liberalism’s inherent flaw: Overpromising and under-delivering is the only thing government consistently does well. Conservatives recognize this reality and legislate accordingly. Democrats do not. Thus, we knew Obamacare wouldn’t work, while they’re stunned it’s not going smoothly.
In the end, I guess the problems of Obamacare could be blamed on Republicans—despite our wisdom, we failed to defeat the bill.
On this day in 1787, 38 of the 41 delegates at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention signed the document setting into motion the establishment of the greatest nation in the world. Unfortunately today, many people have not even taken the time to read the U.S. Constitution, and even more are unsure of what it says. In our classrooms, most kids can name what day the new iPhone comes out, but can’t name a single part in the Constitution. (Read it here – not a bad activity on a day like today)
Constitution Day was established in 2004 as an amendment to a congressional spending bill with the primary purpose of educating people on the founding principals of America. It seems that recently, the Constitution has been under particular scrutiny. Opinions on the interpretation of the Constitution have run the gambit and will continue to do so.
Two hundred and twenty-six years ago, the Framers of our Constitution may not have imagined the arguments that would take place today. What they did imagine is a nation where debate was encouraged, liberty and privacy respected, and each branch of government held in check by the other.
In practice, what they set out to create has continued to serve our nation, and the world, well. We can argue on any issue, and the precepts of that tattered document shine through like the beacon held by Lady Liberty protecting our nation.
The Constitution is the heart of America, breathing life into every decision that is ultimately made for its people. Everyone can pontificate the right and wrong decisions made by presidents, legislatures and courts throughout our history, but right or wrong, we have weathered the storms of wars, economic collapse, natural disasters, and other calamities. Our lifeline has always been the Constitution.
America has always had the “can do” spirit and optimism to overcome any adversity. The same spirit shown by those 38 brave Americans penning their name to the greatest document the world has seen.
When you have someone help set stuff up for you (like a blog page) it’s a good idea to write down passwords. I changed computers a couple weeks ago and haven’t been able to log into NobleThinking – sorry about the silent treatment.
As you likely know, I fly. A lot. So I read this headline with interest:
Friday 13th travellers take chance on flight 666 to HEL
Now, they aren’t actually flying to hell. Every airport in the world has a three letter code, some which are obvious like LAX, PHX or SFO and some which aren’t as obvious like ORD (Chicago) or MCO (Orlando). HEL is the airport code for Helsinki.
Would I take that flight? Sure. I’m not superstitious (expect in baseball) and I’m writing this while on a flight on Friday the 13th already.
Sometimes it’s better to not listen to your kid’s playlist. It makes you realize they are growing up way too fast.
When it comes to Syria, I can’t imagine it makes sense to say, “Hey Russia, great idea!” Russia may not be the menace that it was during the Cold War, but it is not an ally. Still, Putin is way more cool than our President.
I’ve been in politics for more than 20 years and I figure I have pretty much seen it all. But sometimes in politics I see something so beyond the pale that it still shocks me. That is the case with the latest move by Senate President Harry Reid (D-NV) and other Senate Democrats.
They are really unhappy that Sen. David Vitter continues to denounce ObamaCare and is saying that lawmakers shouldn’t be getting subsidized health care coverage. You may remember that Sen. Vitter was accused of having a relationship with a call girl a number of years ago.
With that context, check out this story by Politico:
Senate Democrats have had all they can take from David Vitter and his fixation on Obamacare — and they’re dredging up his past prostitution scandal to hit back.
Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has infuriated Democrats this week by commandeering the Senate floor, demanding a vote on his amendment repealing federal contributions to help pay for lawmakers’ health care coverage.
But Democratic senators are preparing a legislative response targeting a sordid Vitter episode. If Vitter continues to insist on a vote on his proposal, Democrats could counter with one of their own: Lawmakers will be denied those government contributions if there is “probable cause” they solicited prostitutes.
You couldn’t make this stuff up. This is junior high school level bullying. Now, I’ve never been a fan of Harry Reid, but this is so beneath someone who is supposed to represent the people that you have to call him what is: a real a**. He truly demonstrates why the Democratic mascot is a donkey.
I love the Disney movie “Up.” So I read with interest that there was a guy who used hundreds of colored balloons to take off from Maine to cross the Atlantic Ocean. That takes some serious guts.
Alas, about 12 hours into the trip, he landed in Newfoundland and proclaimed, “This doesn’t look like France.” At least he has a sense of humor.
Lately, President Obama has been giving “big, important, economic speeches” that give us that “meh” feeling. But enough work, right?
Last night’s appearance on Jay Leno was to be a decidedly more relaxed environment before Obama goes on another vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. Obama and Jay talked candidly about the issues of the day, from Trayvon Martin, Vladimir Putin, and the economy, to the infrastructure of our ports. That’s when the president probably could’ve used a map… er, more talking points.
The president was mentioning the expansion of the Panama Canal and how improved port infrastructure is needed to allow for the new fleet of super-tankers that would soon be coming to the Gulf of Mexico, when he said:
“If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida — if we don’t do that, those ships are going to go someplace else. And we’ll lose jobs. Businesses won’t locate here.”
I checked a map to make sure global warming hasn’t changed the location of the Gulf or something like that. Sure enough, “the Gulf ports” of Charleston, Savannah, and Jacksonville are still on the Atlantic Ocean. So yes, Mr. President, those ships will probably go to ports in New Orleans, Louisiana, or Mobile, Alabama, or Tampa, Florida, or one of the four ports in Texas.
It’s not really a surprise that Obama doesn’t know the geographical make-up of the Southern states. He never really campaigned there, so why would need to?
I’d like to say I’m surprised by the lack of media attention this major gaffe has received. But I’m not. I don’t think that a political gaffe should define multiple news cycles, but remember when President Bush would make one? The media would go in to a tailspin and Saturday Night Live would do a skit. Now? Not even a passing mention on the 24-hour news channels.
“That must be why the unemployment rate in D.C. is 8.5 percent — and 20.3 percent among blacks. That must explain the 37.8 percent unemployment rate for black teens, and the 43.3 percent rate for black male teens. It would explain why about a third of the District’s residents are currently receiving food stamps, Medicaid, or welfare — and why more than 18 percent are living below the poverty line.”
Wouldn’t it be fascinating to listen into the White House conversations about Arizona, and in particular, Governor Jan Brewer?
Staffer: “Mr. President, that Governor that wagged her finger in your face is doing more than even Democrat Governors to implement your health care bill!”
POTUS: “ReallyShould we consider her for an Administration post?”
Staffer: “You want her wagging her finger at you at every Cabinet meeting?”
POTUS: “Good point. Let’s just send her some flowers.”
It’s been interesting to watch the reaction from national reporters in watching Brewer cheerlead Medicaid expansion. Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court gave State the “out” from one of the most egregious parts of Obamacare and a “conservative” Republican Governor not only decides to opt-in, she does so with the enthusiasm of a school girl getting ready for prom.
So there is a cognitive dissonance in the heads of DC-based reporters who, if you mention “Arizona Governor” immediately think about immigration crackdowns. No open borders, but it’ll be open enrollment.
The Supreme Court ruling, striking down the federal component of the Defense of Marriage Act, affirms, for now, the state’s ability to define marriage. This was expected, and as a believer in State’s Rights, it was the right decision.
While my friends in the gay community celebrated the “overturning” of California’s Proposition 8, what the Court did was much more nuanced and process oriented. They basically ruled that the federal appellate courts had no jurisdiction over the appeal because backers of Prop. 8 didn’t have standing to carry the appeal. Only the state could have done that. Call it a victory for gay marriage on a technicality. That is, the higher courts have not affirmed the district court’s overturning of Prop. 8 (yet).
That’s not to say that there isn’t a obvious trend towards gay marriage becoming more accepted and eventually legal across the board. The challenge will be how to balance the rights of gay couples with the religious freedom of churches and faith-based institutions.
For example, while I believe gay couples should have the same rights afforded straight couples, I don’t think the Catholic Church’s adoption services should be required to facilitate adoptions by gay couples. However, as a result of Massachusetts state law, the Catholic Church was faced with the choice of facilitating such adoptions or close their doors. That’s a clear overreach of the First Amendment, which protects religious liberty.
Needless to say, this discussion is far from over.
Obama’s big play on dealing with “climate change” exposes, yet again, his complete disregard for Congress, the will of the American people or the rule of law. Keep in mind, it was five years ago this month that Obama said, “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
This is a President who claims to be looking out for the little guy, but subsidizes his billionaire friends with “green energy” cash and wants to shut down coal-fired power plants, even admitting that “under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily sky-rocket.” Who gets hurt? The poor and those on fixed-income. With friends like these…
The Arizona Capitol Times had their “Best of the Capitol” awards dinner this week. Inexplicably, I was nominated for a couple categories in which the competition was overwhelming. Congrats to Arizona Chamber President Glenn Hamer for his “Power Broker” award and to Chuck Coughlin for “Best Political Operative.” Well-deserved by both.