Friday, August 31, 2012

ICYMI Pat and Ted Oparowski at RNC Tell Story of Mitt Romney

In case you missed it last night, here is the 5 minute clip of Pat and Ted Oparowski telling the story of their terminally ill son and Mitt Romney. 
(It's a tearjerker!)

Don't miss my new novel, "You Heard It Here First!" on Amazon, Nook, and Kindle!

Hey! I know that guy!

I watched the RNC closely all night long hoping for a glimpse of my uncle, just to wake up this morning and find him on the front page of the Washington Post! What a fun surprise!

My uncle, Dane, was Mitt's best man at his wedding. (He's the one in the gray suit above.) They were mission companions in France. He was also interviewed extensively for the CNN Romney Revealed special (but was only shown for about 1 minute).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

You Heard It Here First!

My new book, "You Heard It Here First" is available in paperback! For the first week it is available on CreateSpace (the Amazon owned printing company I chose to go through) for $13.99.
Don't miss it on Nook and Kindle for just 99 cents!

From the moment girl-next-door Haley McAdams met America's Favorite News Reporter Camden Morrison, her life hasn't been the same. Suddenly she has everything she ever wanted- love, money, and career success. But can she handle the pressures that come with it?

One day she's a financial blogger, the next, a TV expert on a political scandal. Her on-air epiphanies, and liberated writing style have landed some powerful men in hot water, and there are consequences to pay.

Just as her career takes off, so does her love life. But the memories of her past make it hard to accept the good things around her. Is her rich and famous boyfriend the real reason for her new success? Does he really love her? Or does he have an ulterior motive too?

Haley is a good girl from a loving family and traditional values, but she knows her way around the world of finance and politics. She may be virtuous, but she is not naïve. And if there is one thing she has learned, it is that money is the root of all evil.

Live Blogging the RNC and Mitt's Speech

I haven't live blogged an event in a while! This will be fun!

11:15- I'd have to say Mitt Romney nailed it tonight. Powerful, strong, emotional, and very passionate. No more robot Mitt. Pretty dang amazing. Very very good. Loved it!!

Ok, except he kind of looks odd standing on the stage all by himself right now. Where are the balloons, Ryan, and his family?

Phew, there's Ryan. That was awkward for 5 seconds there.


Yeah, there they are! Finally. Now, where are the families? Strange backstage screwup going on!

11:07- Ha! What did I say? NOW he says protect religion, life, and marriage. All those same virtues he showcased with the previous speakers and videos!

LOVE IT-- "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY to help you and your family."
"America, he said, had dictated to other nations. No Mr. President, America has freed other nations from dictators."

And now they are 10 minutes overtime. WOW.
11:05- Mitt is still talking. But I got distracted by shiny things right about the same point he got on to the policy stuff. Oops. Time to listen again.

11:04- and the RNC has officially gone over time! (Can someone text me the BYU score please?)
And look, I found the Clint Eastwood bit-

10:55- Mitt is really channeling his inner-Reagan tonight. Being fatherly, kind, trusting.
OMG he made a Mormon joke!! I never thought I'd see that!
Staples has got to be loving all the free press these days!
It was gutsy, but I like how Mitt just compared Bain to Apple and Steve Jobs. VERY gutsy. I expect that will get cut and edited into a negative commercial soon enough. But in context, it was good.
Every time I hear someone make the "better off than you were 4 years ago" bit, I really want to stand up and tell my story. Few people can compare with how much more worse off I am today than I was four years ago. Hey, Romney Camp, you should put me in a commercial! I'm your poster girl, right here!

10:50- "That morning there was no rose." I guarantee you that story goes down in history. Sounds like a classic, timeless romance for the ages!
I've noticed that the Romney camp isn't saying the words, "family values." Instead, they just keep talking about being a family. And they have really talked about love and marriage, rather than talk negative about other marriage issues (gay marriage, anyone?). Makes me curious if we'll see something about divorce and helping families make money so moms can stay home in a Romney presidency??


10:43- Someone has already created an "InvisibleObama" twitter account. And it is pretty funny stuff. And it has 17,000 followers in less than half an hour. (Anderson Cooper will be so jealous.)
"When the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American." and "God Bless Neil Armstrong." - Awesome quotes!

10:38- Mitt's making jokes and talking about Paul Ryan. Interesting choice. Also, I like his suit.
So how long till someone starts talking about the price of Ann Romney's dress?
Hmm... multiple Cuba comments tonight. Foreshadowing perhaps?
Romney is not pulling his punches tonight. LOVE IT.
"It is what Americans deserve!" And then he has to pause for a long standing chanting ovation!

10:30- One of the best Rubio lines of the night, "Dad stood behind a bar in the back of the room all those years, so one day I could stand behind a podium in the front of a room."

10:26- Food for thought- but how the heck did the tightly run ship that is the Romney campaign just let Eastwood get away with that? Was he really allowed to go completely rogue like that? Strange. Especially right after all the touchy feely stories and videos. (But I still liked it.)

10:20- this is the first time I've actually ever listened to Rubio speak. He's much better than I expected. Now I get the hype.
"He's not a bad person. The problem is he's a bad president." Well said, Senator.

10:17- Marco Rubio, "I think I just drank Clint Eastwood's water. Thank YOU!" Awesome!

10:15- Who knew the RNC could turn into a standup routine?

10:05- Clint Eastwood is obviously not using a teleprompter. Either that, or he forgot his glasses. LOVING this ad-libbed empty chair bit. "No, I can't tell him to go do that to himself!" You know that didn't get run past the RNC!
I kinda love Eastwood right now.
I can't wait to watch this all over again in a few minutes on YouTube.
"I'm sorry, I can't do that to myself either."
Yes, that line is trending on Twitter too. AS IT SHOULD.

10:02- YES!  Eastwood's entrance does NOT disappoint!
10:00- where have all these awesome videos of Mitt been this whole time? These are great!

9:55- It is nice to see Ann Romney is as much as a natural blonde as I am.
OOH! There's a rumor on Twitter that Eastwood is a decoy. The real surprise might be W?? We shall see... any second now!
9:53- Sen. Marco Rubio's people just tweeted (because I seriously doubt he just said this standing backstage) "No matter how you feel about personally, this election is about your future, not his. "
9:51- Bebe Winans was pretty dang amazing. But you know what will be more amazing? Clint Eastwood, especially if he says, "Mr. President, GET OFF OUR LAWN!" (I wish)
9:48- of all things, my comment about Jane Edmonds is getting retweeted like crazy. go figure.
9:46- Bebe Winans- now this should be good!
9:36 Took me way too long to figure out why Olympians would be at the RNC. Duh. I get it. But where are the Fab Five Gymnasts? Left out because they aren't old enough to vote yet?
9:34- phew! I remembered I was on DVR delay. Didn't have to watch that after all!
9:32- Who the heck picked Taylor Hicks to sing? Which reminds me, did anyone catch SEVEN, the opera group that sang the national anthem? They gave me chills. It was incredible!

9:28- CNN and MSNBC didn't show this. I am so grateful someone posted this on youtube so quickly!

9:22- I like Jane Edmonds. She's got spunk. A black, liberal, democrat woman is speaking at the RNC- now that's not something you see every day!
9:20 - C-span it is!
9:14 .@cnn seriously? your forcing your pundits on us? i'd much rather hear the speakers!! we're not watching to hear the arguments. #rnc
I'm forced to change channels. Again.

9:01- that didn't last long. I'm back to CNN. I really can't stand MSNBC.

9:00- Even Anderson Cooper is talking about the sweet little couple- (from Twitter)

Extraordinarily moving talk by Ted and Pat Oparowski about how Mitt befriended their dying son. So sad and poignant.  

8:57- I was just forced to change channels away from CNN. PBS has Haley Barbour- can't stand that. And now I'm stuck with MSNBC. I may cry. 
8:55- Can't remember his name to save my life, but I recognize someone over the shoulder of Piers Morgan. 
8:51- I think the Oparowskis may have just won the election for Mitt! That was moving!
Ooh, CNN, you are making me mad. I see on Twitter there are more interesting speakers going on, and you're making me listen to Piers Morgan talk trash about Romney. RUDE! (And I was your one last fan!)
8:51- Wow. LDS, Mormon, and Mitt Romney are all trending on Twitter. 
8:45: Unrelated: My dog has the hiccups. It is incredibly distracting & alarming. Will she vomit, or won't she? More importantly, where will she?
8:30: "Pure religion is to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction." Grant Bennett. As a Mormon, I say he nailed it
Tagg Romney just tweeted: Cool shot of Craig speaking and Mom watching w pride.

7:30 - So who thinks we are going to see Callista Gingrich run for office soon?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

North Carolina is Up for Grabs

CNN (who has a history of calling these things right) has moved North Carolina from the "leans Romney" category to the "toss up" category, according to a new CNN/Time Magazine/ORC International poll. 

The poll shows 48% of likely voters for Mitt Romney and 47% for President Barack Obama.
Other polls from other organizations conducted earlier this summer also indicated a close contest in North Carolina.
CNN currently shows Romney with 191 electoral votes, 237 for Obama, and 110 up for grabs!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Obama's 17M Fake Twitter Followers - why it doesn't matter

The number of fake Twitter accounts that follow the President's Twitter account has made headlines recently. People want to make some sort of case out of this that Obama himself has someone blown his own popularity out of proportion by making himself look big on Twitter. This isn't true, and it is all very stupid.
I have been on Twitter since the very beginning. I joined the site in 2006 right after it launched. I have over 1,000 followers. I sound big, I sound important. One thousand followers! She must be interesting and fun to follow!
Oh no. Not the case.
Sure, to the untrained eye it all appears that way.
But I'd venture a guess that I easily have 700 fake followers. How does this happen? Easy. I've been on Twitter for a long time. Lots of people join daily, set up an account, search for people to follow based on keywords and celebrity, and follow them. And then they never come back to Twitter after the first few days. We consider them "fake" accounts. Because I have been on Twitter for so long, I have used a lot of words. When someone does a keyword search my account pops up- because I have used so many words! It doesn't mean I have anything in common with that account. I just used a word sometime in the last 6 years. People see I have a lot of followers, and assume I must be important. They follow me. The cycle repeats itself.
The same goes for actual celebrities. A person joins, looks for "interesting" people to follow, and naturally the President's account pops up. People follow. And then they never return. The cycle repeats.
The number of fake followers has nothing to do with the President or his ethics. It is a worthless story and an even more worthless statistic!
Just for fun, here is a quick screenshot of my 8 most recent followers (since Friday). Of these people, I follow none of them back. But I do intend to follow Andres back with my other account. He is a fellow writer for the Motley Fool, and I will communicate with him through my more news and investing oriented account. (This is a shot of my personal account @erinannie.) Of these people I have nothing in common with any of them except Andres. I can see why Lisa Miller and Igor would follow me. I worked in social media for years, and my account frequently shows up as an "expert" in that area, because of keywords. One can only guess what the rest of these people were thinking when they chose to follow me!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Politics, Stock Market, News, and a Little Bit of Romance!

It is finally here!
My new book, You Heard It Here First, is now available on Kindle and Nook, and paperback!! 
For a limited time you can buy it for just 99 cents on either Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Or just $13.50 for the paperback!

This book is a fun combination (even if I do say so myself) of politics, news, the stock market, and a little bit of romance and relationships too.

Book Description:
From the moment girl-next-door Haley McAdams met America's Favorite News Reporter Camden Morrison, her life hasn't been the same. Suddenly she has everything she ever wanted- love, money, and career success. But can she handle the pressures that come with it?

One day she's a financial blogger, the next, a TV expert on a political scandal. Her on-air epiphanies, and liberated writing style has landed some powerful men in hot water, and there are consequences to pay.

Just as her career takes off, so does her love life. But the memories of her past make it hard to accept the good things around her. Is her rich and famous boyfriend the real reason for her new success? Does he really love her? Or does he have an ulterior motive too?

Haley is a good girl from a loving family with traditional values, but she knows her way around the world of finance and politics. She may be virtuous, but she is not naïve. And if there is one thing she has learned, it is that money is the root of all evil.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Republican Platform May Include a Gold Standard Commission

Is it the Ron Paul Effect?
Drafts of the Republican Party platform (which will get voted on and ratified at the convention next week) have included a call for an audit of the Federal Reserve monetary policy and a commission to investigate the feasibility for a return to the gold standard.
Marsha Blackburn, (TN-R), co-chair of the platform committee, said the issues were not adopted to keep Paul and his people happy, but because Republicans at large wanted it. (They did?)
Fact: Richard Nixon broke the link between gold and the dollar during the 1971 oil crisis.
During the Reagan years the party platform included a “restoration of a dependable monetary standard," (1980), and “the gold standard may be a useful mechanism” (1984).  It hasn't been included in any platforms since. Interesting to note that Reagan was not in favor of the gold standard.
Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben "the Beard" Bernanke,  is not a fan of the gold standard either. Why? Bernanke is cited as having said that in the 1800s the U.S. was prone to frequent booms and busts in part because the gold standard left no discretion in the banking system over interest rates or the money supply.
Governor Romney is not a big supporter of the idea. He's also not a big fan of Bernanke..
Romney told CNBC, "I know that in the past when we had a gold standard, the idea that somehow it was detached from or free from any interference by Congress was simply wrong because even with the gold standard someone has to decide what is the conversion rate between the gold and the dollar."
Romney, Bernanke, or Paul fan, now may be a good time to invest in gold!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Agency

Have you purchased my novella, "The Agency," yet? Just 99 cents on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

Worth Reading

I may be a little biased, as I am the associate editor of Meridian Magazine, but I think these two articles are spot on!!


And while you are looking up fascinating reads, here's a story that makes you say "hmm..."

Democrats spent $1.5 mil to help Akin win GOP primary

in the Washington Examiner. Reputable publication, interesting accusation. I've heard rumors that this sort of strategy goes on behind the scenes, but this is the first outright accusation of it. One party surreptitiously backs the weaker of the opposing candidates in order to fight the easier battle in the long run?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Unchained Biden

I am not a fan of taking words out of context to make a political ad. So here is what VP Biden said today in Danville, VA about Governor Romney "unchaining" Wall Street, and "putting y'all back in chains."

First, as a Southerner, may I just say the man does not pull off "y'all" correctly, at all.
But more to the point, is the "back in chains" part offensive? Some seem to think it is. I don't think it was a racial insult the way some in the media are making it out to be. I think he's suggesting that if Wall Street has more power the little man will be "chained" somehow. The real Republican response to this should be that under Obama/Biden the country is so heavily regulated that we are "chained" to the government.
Quit with the mudslinging and stick to some real issues.
Last, as a Virginian, I do take offense to Mr. Biden's parting line. "With you – and I mean this, with you, we can win North Carolina again, and if we do, we win the election if we win you!”
Not exactly the thing you say in VIRGINIA. (Also, North Carolina isn't a swing state!)

Romney Ryan 2012

So let's talk about Paul Ryan. 

I have to admit that other than knowing he was an "architect" on a budget, I know very little about him. I assume others are in the same position, so here are some details to get to know the new VP candidate. 

Paul Ryan
Age 42 (born in 1970) (he will turn 43 the week after the inauguration)
Born in Wisconsin, and is now a Congressman from Wisconsin
He was first elected to Congress in 1999 (at the age of 29!). Has been reelected every time since. 
Interesting personal background- he was elected class president in high school which gave him a seat on the school board. His father died when he was young. He worked at McDonalds in high school. He interned on Capitol Hill in college.
When he was elected to Congress he was the second youngest Member.
He's married and has 3 children. 
He is Catholic.

From Wikipedia-
Ryan has sided with a majority of his party in 93% of House votes in which he has participated, and sided with the majority vote of all House votes 95% of the time with the 111th Congress.
In 2003, Ryan voted in favor of the Medicare Part D prescription drug law. In 2004 and 2005, Ryan pushed the Bush administration to propose the privatization of Social Security. Ryan's proposal ultimately failed when it did not gain the support of the then-Republican presidential administration. Ryan voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010.
 In 1999, Ryan voted in favor of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act that repealed certain provisions of the depression-era Glass–Steagall Act that regulated banking.[42] 
In 2008, Ryan voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, as well as the bailout of GM and Chrysler.

So this all begs the question- WHY Paul Ryan? 
In my own words, ultimately it is because Romney is running a campaign solely on the economy. He picked the budget guy. That's really what it comes down to, if personality and other issues were not taken into consideration. He picked the budget guy because that is what Romney is all about. 

Ryan's path to vice presidential nominee is a culmination of decades of outspoken conservatism. Early on, only a few of his colleagues at Empower America, a conservative, free-market Washington think tank, like Jack Kemp and me, heard him. Now, the entire country will hear him.
The effervescent congressmen from Wisconsin, who leads Congress in grueling P90X workouts most mornings, first emerged onto the national political scene with his Roadmap, a first of its kind detailed plan to reform America's budget, tax code, health care system and Social Security system. He said what few politicians would say -- America has overspent, over-promised and under-delivered.
Over time this young budget guru, who once told me he relaxes by kicking back with actuarial tables, began to master the U.S. budget in a way that few ever have. He was appointed to be a member of the president's Bowles-Simpson Commission, but, not yielding to political pressure, voted against its recommendations because it failed to adequately reform Medicare. So, together with Alice Rivlin (Bill Clinton's former OMB director), Ryan co-authored the Ryan-Rivlin plan to seriously reform Medicare (although she didn't support the version of it he included in his all-encompassing budget).
Their plan fell largely on deaf ears, but just because Washington wasn't listening, Ryan didn't stop leading. He joined forces with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, to co-author a bipartisan plan to reform Medicare. Their plan leaves Medicare intact for existing recipients and those approaching eligibility and offers future enrollees a chance to enroll in the traditional Medicare government option or enroll in a premium support plan, where seniors can choose from a variety of competitive plans that work best for them.
He said what few politicians would say -- America has overspent, over-promised, and under-delivered.
During his tenure as House Budget Chairman, Ryan has penned several of the House budget plans. Although his 2012 budget didn't pass the Democrat-led Senate, it garnered far more votes than President Obama's budget, and proposed far more serious reforms.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

9 hours and counting!

Just got breaking news alerts in a dozen different places.

Romney to announce his VP pick around 9 am Saturday.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Christie for VP

I got this email today from *someone* I'd say knows politics pretty well. No insider, but he knows more than most armchair quarterbacks. 

I've made my VP pick. 
Chris Christie.  I did some reading on him.  The main thing the VP candidate has to do is be the big attack dog.  And who better than Christie?  Absolutely no one!  He might overshadow Mitt in the excitement department, but that does not hurt the ticket's chances.  Romney and Obama each already have the people who are paying attention, and that is not likely to change in the next 80 or 90 days.  It is the poor (I'll not say, not real politically bright, and therefore swayable) undecideds who need to hear something interesting they have not already heard before. The press will cover every cool anti-Obama thing Christie has to say.  Christie WAY overshadows Barry Soetero or Billy Joe Biden.  Go Christie!

Interesting reasoning. I can't find a flaw in it.  I've never been completely in favor of him, but I actually have nothing against him either. I do like his Jersey style as a compliment to Romney's New England style. 

(My spidey sense says the announcement either comes today or on Monday. The news cycle is still full, so I say Monday, maybe Tuesday.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Freedom of what?

One of my friends on Facebook posted this today.
chick fil a freedom of speech

This breaks my heart.
I'm not a homophobe. I have several gay friends. Love every last one of them. But I absolutely support religious liberty and the freedom of speech.
And I like chicken nuggets.

Abbott and Costello Explain Unemployment

Costello: I want to talk about the unemployment rate

Abbott: Good subject. Terrible times. It is 9%.

Costello: That many people are out of work?

Abbott: No, that's 16%.

Costello: You just said 9%.

Abbott: 9% unemployed.

Costello: Right, 9% out of work.

Abbott: No, that's 16%.

Costello: Okay, so that's 16% unemployed.

Abbott: No, that's 9%.

Costello: Wait a minute! Is it 9% or 16%?

Abbott: 9% are unemployed, 16% are out of work.

Costello: If you are out of work, you are unemployed.

Abbott: No, you can't count the "out of work" as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.


Abbott: No, you miss my point.

Costello: What point?

Abbott: Someone who doesn't look for work can't be counted with those who look for work. it wouldn't be fair.

Costello: To whom?

Abbott: The unemployed.

Costello: But they are ALL out of work.

Abbott: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

Costello: So, if you are off the unemployment roles, that would count as less unemployment?

Abbott: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely.

Costello: The unemployment rate goes down because you don't look for work?

Abbott: Absolutely it goes down. That's how you get to 9%. Otherwise, it would be 16%. You don't want to read about 16% unemployment, do you?

Costello: That would be frightening.

Abbott: Absolutely.

Costello: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

Abbott: Two ways is correct.

Costello: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

Abbott: Correct.

Costello: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

Abbott: Bingo.

Costello: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.

Abbott: Now you're thinking like an economist!

Costello: I don't even know what the heck I just said!

Abbott: Now you're thinking like a politician!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Petraeus for VP?

Drudge has a source that says that President Obama has a source the Governor Romney has picked General Petraeus to be the VP.

This is intriguing, although I doubt it is true.

First, if there was such a source that close to Romney to get that information, it would be close to traitorous to share it with Obama. (Unless it was a Secret Service person. That is conceivable, but a total violation of duties to share such a confidence.)

Second, while I would be impressed with a left-field pick from Romney, this one is too left-field. Starting with, the left. Petraeus is a Democrat. For five perfectly valid other reasons, read this.

But it all brings up an interesting point. Does Romney need a VP with a good military and international relations background?

And I'm not sure if this was meant to be funny, but the VEEPSTAKES BASICS is hilarious, and dead-on accurate.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Who the VP Won't Be

Mitt Romney in Salem, Virginia

As a general rule if someone is invited to speak (and it is publicly announced that they will) at the party conventions, that person will not be VP pick.  This, of course, assumes that the presumptive nominee has made his pick and communicated that to the party. Or at least has communicated to the party who his pick will not be.
Using that theory, here are the people we can rule out-
  • South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the first female governor of South Carolina and the youngest sitting governor in the United States;
  • Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the 44th governor of Arkansas and 2008 presidential candidate is a NY Times best-selling author, radio and television show host;
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich, former House Budget Committee chairman;
  • New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, the first female Hispanic governor in the U.S. and the first female governor of New Mexico;
  • Arizona Senator John McCain, the party's 2008 nominee, now serving his fifth term in the U.S. Senate;
  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, America's 66th secretary of state and the first African-American female to hold the position
  • Florida Governor Rick Scott, from the convention host state;
  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 43rd governor of Florida and current chairman of the Foundation for Florida's Future;
  • Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the first woman to serve as both Oklahoma lieutenant governor and governor, and the first woman elected to Congress from Oklahoma since the 1920s;
  • U.S. Senator Rand Paul, junior senator from Kentucky and founder of the U.S. Senate Tea Party Caucus; and
  • Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, 2012 presidential primary candidate, and U.S. Senator (1995-2007) and U.S. Representative (1991-1995) from Pennsylvania. 
For me this is fairly disappointing. My top two picks for VP are on this list (Haley and Rice). And because I really do not expect Senator Marco Rubio to be the pick, this leads me to conclude we're going to get a "Boring White Guy" (BWG).

I do fully expect that Governor Romney is more likely to go with the most qualified vice president than he is to pick a popular idea. In other words, out with Rubio, in with Governor Bob McDonnell.

I still predict that we'll get a VP announcement Thursday of this week, or Monday of next. (I no longer expect it to be on Wednesday of this week out of respect for the shootings in Wisconsin. The news cycle deservedly belongs to them.) 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

First Amendment Rights

Unless you have been living under a rock this past week (and sometimes I wish I was), you know that the hot political topic has been a chicken restaurant and same-sex marriage.  Or, depending on how you skew, the topic was religious liberty and the freedom of speech versus gay marriage. 
I wrote an article on the subject for Meridian Magazine. I posted a link to it on Facebook. I requested a polite dialogue. I was not surprised when insults of bigotry and hate popped up. If there is one thing we are incapable of in this country it is polite discourse on any political issue. And if there is anything we love to ironically debate, it is who has the right to exercise free speech. 
One issue that was repeatedly brought up in response to the religious liberty debate was a protested mosque in New York City. (Sidenote: this was an issue thrown in the face of anyone who defended Chick-fil-A in terms of right to free speech and religious liberty. I'm not saying there weren't plenty of other issues. I just want to address this one momentarily.) I cannot speak for all who defended religious liberty this week, nor do I pretend to. But I do want to take a moment to share my own thoughts on the subject. 
I support all religions. I might even support orthodox religions a little bit more, just for being willing to not bend to popular sentiments. I have no problem with a mosque being built anywhere. I want to see them in more prominent locations- out front, more obvious, less hidden. To use a very Christian phrase, "Don't hide your light under a bushel." Mosques should not have to be built away from busy areas because people are uncomfortable with them. Build them where they can be seen and better frequented by their members. I support all religions. 
But the mosque in NYC was a different story. They wanted to build it too close to the grounds of 9/11. I have no problems with a mosque. But it is (was) too soon and too close to 9/11. It essentially was just in bad taste. 
I appreciate that not all Muslims supported the al-Qaeda attacks, and should not be punished as such. But I do not believe there has been enough healing yet for complete understanding and acceptance. The mosque is welcome, but it would be nice if the individuals wishing to build it would be more sensitive to location.
Religious liberty may be one of the most misunderstood freedoms Americans enjoy. Individuals who are not religious often see other people's religious beliefs as a threat. As someone who grew up in a very misunderstood religion, it has taken me many years to understand how we are viewed. I know [far too] many religious people who carry a chip on their shoulder that they are always so misunderstood. This often comes with a "we're right, they're wrong, they know it, so they dislike us even more" mentality.  The biggest problem with this way of thinking is not a lack of Christian love or compassion, but a healthy dose of self-awareness and the ability to see things from another's point of view. 

Amendment I of the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

It is no accident that the freedom of speech and the freedom to exercise religion are intertwined in the Constitution. They are, in fact, inseparable, as is the right to peacefully assemble. No one can tell us what we can or cannot talk about when we gather as groups. In this light, there is little difference between the freedom of speech and freedom of religion. 

I personally am not opposed to same-sex marriage. I have no problem with "gay rights," as we call them. I do not believe we should discriminate against anyone for any reason. 

But I supported the Chick-fil-A appreciation day because I fear the loss of religious liberty. 

Allow me to explain.

That same right to speak freely and have an opinion is so intertwined with religious freedom, that to begin to suffocate, or discriminate against, the right to exercise religion, will quickly impede on the right to free speech. To legislate, rule, or otherwise declare, what can or can't be done by a church, is no different than any other group or individuals in this country.

It may be hard for some to see at first, but the more you value freedom of speech (which does tend to be the more liberal base), the more you must protect the freedom of religion (the more conservative base). One is needed to preserve the other, and vice versa.

The right and/or ability to say what you want without threat of prosecution is the same as the right and/or ability to worship or gather as you please without threat of prosecution. In my humble opinion, those who do not see the difference believe and/or are threatened by the idea that religious people force their beliefs on others. 

And that is what brings us back to the persecution of the "religious right" by the backers of free speech in this country.

It is not popular to voice a conservative opinion. The CEO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy's defense of traditional marriage and Christian faith have earned a backlash of hate and criticism from different communities. Cities including Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC, and Philadephia, and the elected leadership at the helm of those cities, have made it clear they will prevent Mr. Cathy's restaurants from opening new outlets in their boundaries.

Stop and turn that around. If a conservative elected leader announced that he would do everything possible to block a Ben and Jerry's from building an establishment in his city because they support gay marriage, what would happen?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said, “Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values. They're not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you're gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”

I have to ask the question, I believe the situation begs for it. How long until cities start protesting churches from purchasing land and putting up new buildings because the church has conservative values or does not permit same-sex marriages? How long until Mayor Emmanuel decides that religious values are not Chicago values and proceeds to block churches from building? How much longer until it is required of churches to grant same-sex marriages, or be penalized or blocked from operating?

Teachers, parents, and professors have reminded generations of neophytes that you may have the right to say something, but that does not mean anyone has to like it. Defenders of gay marriage need to be reminded that we all have the right to express ourselves. If the good people of Chicago (and Boston, Philadelphia, and others) agree with their mayor(s) that they do not want Chick-fil-A in their neighborhoods because the fast-food chain does not share its values (may I remind everyone how often “blue” establishments are run out of towns for the same exact reasons, and it is a protected right under “redress of grievances”), that is their right. But the government (mayor) itself does not have the right to stop anyone, be it a church, or a chicken sandwich retailer, based on political or religious differences. The people have the right to an opinion and to speak it. The government does not have the right to decide what opinions the people may have.

Defenders of traditional marriage, and those who liberally defend same-sex rights under the First Amendment must find a way to respect each other's beliefs. To tear each other down by exercising the same right they are protesting, they will find themselves all without the rights that they need. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Romney and the VP

If you had a major announcement to make that no matter what else happened in the world that week would still be a headline story, does the timing really matter?
I guess it might a little bit, just so you don't have to share the headlines, and you can get the most mileage out of it. But if you were going to do that, you would have to be 100% confident in your announcement. Because if you weren't confident in it, you might choose to do something like announce it on a Friday afternoon, during a busy news week, and as a result, getting little traction.
Which is why I predict Romney will make his VP announcement next Wednesday. Maybe Tuesday or Thursday. But Wednesday gives you two full days of headlines, plus the weekend talk shows.
The Olympics will be less exciting by then (but still underway), and the Aurora shooting stories will have quieted. Without any other obvious competition, that seems like a good time to announce. Assuming he's made his decision that is.
Not to mention, the campaign has planned out a big swing state tour in the upcoming weeks. Sure maybe it is just another stump speech tour. But you'd have to be a complete neophyte to believe that he would go on a big tour 2 weeks before the convention, without a VP at his side. 
The big tour begins August 10, and is rumored to go through Virginia, North Carolina, and into Florida. He's also supposed to be showing up in Indiana, Ohio, and Colorado. 95 electoral votes between them.
Who might the VP be? Someone completely groomed and well-vetted? (Bob McDonnell, Rob Portman, Chris Christie, Tim Pawlenty) Or someone who brings a key swing state (Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty, Marco Rubio)? Or someone who jazzes up the ticket? (Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio)
I have my personal choice, but I want to hear other people's preferences. Who do you want it to be? Who do you think it will be?

Campaign volunteers needed

The Romney campaign needs your help with a voter contact project taking place at the RNC Headquarters (301 1st Street Southeast, Washington D.C.) starting tomorrow (Thursday, August 2) morning at 10:30am and continuing through the weekend.  This is an URGENT, time sensitive project.  The team is looking for volunteers to sign up for 3 hour shifts.  We greatly appreciate any help you might be able to offer.

Contact Catherine Holtgrewe with your information and availability at to sign up for a shift.