Barack Obama: Maturity Stops Here

By: Amy Lutz

On his desk, Harry Truman placed an engraving which stated “The Buck Stops Here” referring to his refusal to “pass the buck” to someone else and avoid accountability. I’ve always admired this mantra and any politician who abides by it and takes the responsibility of leading by example and standing by his or her decisions. This is one reason I was initially drawn to Rick Perry. I could certainly go on for days about the Governor’s statistics of job creation and social conservatism, but what I truly admire about Perry is his character and leadership. There is a good reason why he’s the nation’s longest continuously serving Governor. Unlike our current president, Rick Perry has been in an executive position long enough to develop a certain degree of political maturity. I feel confident standing behind his rock solid patriotism and courage. Sure, he’s had a couple gaffes like every politician, but overall he conducts himself with strength and professionalism. The attitude of our current president; however, is quite different than Perry’s., perhaps due to his lack of political experience he garnered prior to ascending to the presidency. With the help of his handy teleprompter and arrogant smirk, Barack Obama, at least on the surface, can come across as intelligent and authoritative. Although, when you actually pay close attention to his words, it’s clear that his professional veneer is paper thin. President Obama frankly shows a lack of maturity through incessant name calling and finger pointing. Although I’ll admit our President is a very intelligent man and at times (i.e. the Tucson shooting memorial service) has shown a degree of maturity and professionalism, his example is not one I feel comfortable standing behind.

A certain degree of contention is expected between opposing political parties, but President Obama’s occasional name calling has brought that tension to the next level. While giving a radio interview before the midterm elections, the President stated: “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder, and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.” While I agree that standing by those you agree with is an important consideration in voting, since when are elections designed to “punish” one’s enemies? And better yet, since when is it appropriate for a President to label the opposing political party an “enemy” to a minority group? This type of name calling serves to demonize President Obama’s opposition or “enemies” as he calls them, and does not provide a proper avenue for appropriate public discourse. Politics is certainly can be a vicious game, but the leader of our nation is meant to retain a degree of professionalism and serve as an example of someone who rises above the turbulent political arena of debate.

Although President Obama is known for throwing a few rhetorical punches at his ideological opponents, he certainly tries to appear blameless and above the political fray. Unfortunately, his tactics display an even greater lack of maturity. Instead of saying the “buck stops here,” Barack Obama consistently takes credit for good decisions (even when they are not his own) and directs the blame for every single crisis towards George W. Bush and the Republicans. “The last 8 years” has become an overused catch phrase. I’ll admit that George W. Bush does share a portion of the blame for our economy’s downward turn, but how could we forget who was in charge of Congress during the crash in 2008 (*cough* Democrats *cough*)? The highest unemployment rate under Bush was 7.7%, and that was in early 2009. His monthly average was 5.3%. As Barack Obama pushed through TARP and his Stimulus plan, he promised that the unemployment rate would not rise above 8% as long as we went along with his crazy schemes. Well we did, and he was wrong. The current rate is approaching 10%, and is probably even greater because it does not take into account those who have stopped looking for work. And yet, President Obama is still blaming his predecessor as he grows closer to the end of his first term (let’s hope it’s his last). I feel as if he wants us to pity him and hold him to a lower standard because of how “horrible” he claims George W. Bush acted during his time in office. Well, President Obama, it’s time to take accountability for your own actions and stop passing the buck. Stop saying you “inherited” the Bush economy and can therefore do nothing to improve our nation’s dire situation. You know who else inherited the Bush economy? Rick Perry. Governor Perry took the reins in Texas after Bush ascended to the Presidency and he must be doing something right because he is nearing 11 years in office. Texas has created more jobs in the last decade than any other state and is the only state among the largest 40 states that had more jobs in 2010 than when the recession began in 2008. What does President Obama have to show for his time in office? A worse unemployment rate and plummeting approval rating?

More recently, President Obama has moved his accusatory finger away from the Republicans (at least briefly) and towards wealthier Americans, specifically those who own private jets. Over the past couple weeks, the President has cited a corporate jet tax break as unfair and has complained that the group of Americans who can afford this luxury are not paying enough in taxes. In his mind, the wealthy do not deserve any sort of tax break. Obama has continually blamed the Republicans for the existence of the break, but here’s the kicker: It was passed in his Stimulus package. The tax break for corporate jets did not even exist before the President’s “recovery” plan which was supposed to keep unemployment under 8%. And yet, the finger pointing continues. What makes this example even more nauseating is that it is not based even loosely on actual fact. I respect the presidency and hate to even mention the word “liar” in the same sentence as the President of the United States. Though, I will admit, President Obama, as is evidenced here, has gotten away with a fair few of “untruths” during his tenure.

Barack Obama may appear to be the type of superior “Messiah-like” politician who gives Chris Matthews a “thrill up his leg” and can do no wrong, but simply looking at his record tells a different story. Politically, the President is simply immature. He is an inexperienced politician who reverts to childish name-calling, finger-pointing, and occasionally truth-blurring when cut off from his handy teleprompter. Conversely, Rick Perry displays and example that is far more professional than our current President. He not only has proven himself extraordinarily successful as a Governor, but he also understands the phrase “the buck stops here.” Certainly, almost any of the GOP 2012 contenders would prove more successful in office than President Obama, but Rick Perry rises above the pack. He has the experience, proven fiscal conservatism, and leadership that this current administration lack and for which America hungers.


Reagan National Airport: The Tenth Circle of Hell
By: Amy Lutz

As I waited in line for my ticket during a recent visit to Regan National Airport, I noticed a sign on the wall preventing what the TSA labeled “airport rage.” I would assume that most people I know would believe that this regulation would not apply to me. They would be wrong. By the time I noticed the posting on that fateful day a few weeks ago, I was a boiling pot of white hot anger. How did I get to this point? Well, let me start at the beginning.

It all started at 12:45 PM on June 18th, 2011 and I was just returning home from a conference in Washington DC. After an exorbitant $60 cab ride, I arrived at Washington-Dulles airport. I enjoy arriving to my destinations, especially those commonly plagued with long lines and random pat downs, well before I need to so I gave myself 3.5 hours of leeway to catch my 4:20 PM flight on American Airlines. Washington-Dulles was crowded, but not unmanageable. After a few minutes, I arrived at the counter and handed the agent my boarding pass. As I lifted my over-packed suitcase to the scale to be tagged, the agent paused. My connecting flight to Dallas had been delayed and he was worried that I would not reach my 6:20 flight to Kansas City on time. Therefore, he decided to send me across town to Reagan National Airport for a slightly earlier flight to Dallas that he hoped had not also been delayed. Although I was slightly inconvenienced, I told the agent that the solution was appropriate and trotted as fast as I could (in 4 inch heels, mind you) to catch a cab. When I finally arrived at DCA, my stomach dropped the second I walked in the doors. There were people everywhere, and that is not even the half of it. Lines were non-existent. Other passengers were standing haphazardly around the velvet ropes, hoping that they were in the correct location, and there was not a TSA agent in sight. I started to panic at that point, but I assumed that since I was still over two hours from my flight, I would be on the plane in plenty of time.

After unsuccessfully trying to print my boarding pass out at the kiosk, I trudged over to the line for the special ticketing counter and waited…and waited. Although at this point there were only about twenty people in front of me, it took 45 minutes for the line to even move. During that time, despite the fact that I was growing increasingly worried, I met a handful of delightful passengers who were just as frustrated as I was. I became acquainted with a British couple who were heading to Key West, two sisters who were going their separate ways, and a young woman who was carrying her cat, Brussels. Unfortunately, the cat only entertained me for about five minutes and then I was back to nursing the anger that was bubbling up inside of me. At the same time, I realized that I was experiencing shooting pain in my legs from standing in heels for so long and I finally decided to just go barefoot. The woman standing behind me literally applauded me for lasting so long without taking my shoes off.

As the line finally moved, my fellow passengers and I noticed a horrifying fact. There were two different lines, and we were in the wrong one. I and my fellow passengers tried to flag down the manager or anyone else who could help, but we were rebuffed and ignored for at least another 45 minutes. By this time, Brussels and his owner had long missed their 3:25 flight. When we finally got a hold of the manager, she told us to get behind the other line and we were forced to wait even longer. During our remaining waiting time, two of the women working behind the ticketing counter took their breaks, leaving only one agent in charge of helping the ever increasing line of people, which now totaled 66 passengers. By the time my fellow passengers and I reached the counter, we had all missed our flights. I bid them all goodbye and walked hesitantly up to the agent who had beckoned me forward. She was not able to find another flight for me on American Airlines, so she transferred me to another connecting flight to Memphis on Delta. I accepted the offer, relieved that I would not have to pull a Tom Hanks and spend the night in the Terminal. I did not want an experience that equaled the awfulness of that movie.

As I slid into the Delta line, I heard chatter behind me. The tall man to my right had been waiting for 10 hours and other passengers had experienced similar fates. Again, my stomach dropped and my anger surged. I was once again subject another hour and a half of wait time. Here we are at the beginning again. As I looked at the “airport rage” posting, I pondered if the punishment for breaking said law would equal the satisfaction I would get from screaming at the nearest TSA agent. Luckily, I kept my cool, at least from an outside perspective. When I arrived at the counter, I shrugged my shoulders, defeated. The Delta agent gave me the news that I had been expecting: they could not get me a flight that night and I was forced to stay in a hotel and take a connecting flight in the morning to Cincinnati. I reluctantly agreed.

As is customary, the airline paid for my meal, taxi ride, and hotel room for that night, but unfortunately they did not understand that I was a 19 year old girl traveling alone and needed to stay somewhere safe. I ended up bunking the sketchiest motel in Virginia where I was surely the only resident who spoke English. After I carefully ordered a limp salad from the motel, I literally ran back to my room, locked the door, turned out the light, and hoped that no one would knock on the door. Luckily, the television worked and I alternated between watching The Dark Knight, Remember the Titans, and a televised speech from Rick Perry before finally falling asleep, contacts and all. The next morning, I left the motel at 4 AM to catch my 6:45 flight. Although I was subject to the invasive TSA body scan and disorganization in the terminal was still rampant, my second journey through DCA was mostly painless. I breathed a sigh of relief when I boarded my first flight to Cincinnati. The plane ride was smooth and I even brushed past Mike Tyson in the Barnes and Noble in the Cincinnati terminal (FYI—he is much smaller in person). When I boarded my second flight to Kansas City, I felt my airport rage fade away.

As I peered out into the passing clouds, I thought about my previous 24 hours. I wondered how the airline industry, which is still not a government agency, could be so disorganized. The Reagan National Airport did not do its namesake justice in terms of efficiency. In fact, DCA reminded me far more of what the health care industry looks like under Obama than the economy did under Reagan. I have a sneaking suspicion that the chaos was a result of a collective bargaining agreement gone wrong or extra-strength government red tape. When the government and union regulations get their hands on an industry, inefficiency and incompetence are the name of the game. I found myself more and more frustrated with the ever growing size of our government and thankful for the sparks of entrepreneurship, private industry, and innovation that are still present in this country. I certainly hope that those sparks become an unquenchable flame because if our lives continue to go in a direction that resembles the turbulence of the Reagan National Airport, we are all headed for a massive case of “American rage.”

Restoring Our Sacred Honor
By: Amy Lutz

In a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut in 1802, Thomas Jefferson stated: “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act (The First Amendment) of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” With this simple statement, Jefferson coined the phrase “separation of church and state” and started the ball rolling on what has been a tumultuous track of political debate over the church’s role in American life. Jefferson originally intended to imply that the First Amendment was created to protect personal religion from government influence by reining in the powers of the latter. On the flip side, he also was strongly opposed to a theocracy. These sentiments were echoed by Jefferson’s fellow founder James Madison who stated that he believed the First Amendment to mean: “Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law.” According to the Constitution, and in the words of Jefferson, Madison, and their contemporaries, the government is prohibited from creating a national religion and suppressing alternative religious views, including view of those who ascribe to no religion. That’s it. Unfortunately, Jefferson’s now famous phrase has been so twisted the original meaning has been all but lost. Due to an illogical court holding in Everson v. Board of Education and frequent complaints of “intolerance” from petty liberals, “separation of church and state” has drifted away from its intended connotation and instead become drastically more insidious.

In the last century, “separation of church and state” has come to mean banning any mention of prayer in schools and altering anything that could even have a hint of religious influence. For example, “Christmas Break” is now “Winter Break” in many public schools and “Easter Break” is simply “Spring Break” if it’s acknowledged at all. Liberals love to use “separation of church and state” as their weapon of justification as they remove nativity scenes from school campuses and crucifixes from classrooms, all while preaching under the banner of “tolerance.” Let me translate. For those on the left, “tolerance” often means “tolerant of those I agree with.” However, this issue is not just present in our schools. The media and government have done their best to remove not just religion, but God himself from our lives. Recently, during a telecast of the U.S. Open, NBC (no surprise here) omitted “Under God” and “Indivisible” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, in Texas, Federal Judge Fred Biery ruled that prayer could not be included in the graduation ceremony for Medina Valley High School in Castroville. I’m not sure of the origins of the town’s name, but “Castro”-ville, really? It seems ironically appropriate for the situation. Biery also banned the words “benediction,” “invocation,” “bow your heads,” “join in prayer,” and “amen” from the ceremony. The 5th circuit court thankfully overturned the decision, but it did not stop Texas Governor and potential GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry from calling the original ruling “reprehensible.” In another odd story from the usually conservative state of Texas, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been accused of censoring prayers during funeral services at the Houston National Cemetery. Words like “God” and “Jesus” are also banned from the usually hallowed ground. What many on the left are doing to the free practice of religion in this country is nothing short of sickening.

What is perhaps more disgusting is the left’s tactic of using religion as a tool to support their own agendas when it is convenient. At the same time liberals are fighting to keep God out of the public sphere, some of them are also using religion to attack their opponents or manipulatively sway voters. It’s hypocritical, I know, but that’s how the left operates. During an interview on MSNBC  (again, no surprise here), Representative James Clyburn stated while speaking of people who support Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan: “I always find it very interesting that people talk all about their Christianity and all these other religions that teach love. All that teach taking care of the poor. All of which talk about doing for the least of these. Yet, they continue to heap burden upon burden upon people who can stand it the least.” Poor sentence structure aside, Clyburn gave a perfect example of the left’s perversion of Christianity. In this case, the representative used Christianity to fit his political views instead of the other way around. Clyburn used Christianity as a weapon of attack instead of a shield of justice. He demonized Republicans under the guise of religion, painting them as many liberals do, as spiteful politicians who injure the poor and needy every chance they get. Nothing could be further from the truth, but that’s for another time. 

Representative Clyburn’s comment was certainly offensive, but it could not even compare to the campaign the ever-classy Huffington Post has recently launched inviting readers to submit their own new “religions.” Apparently to the Huffington Post and its readers who are taking part in this initiative, religion itself is a joke. One suggested faith is called the “9th Order of the Eternal Pringles” in which followers are instructed to worship barbeque flavored Pringles. Really? The prank (as Anthony Weiner might say) seems harmless, but the vindictiveness is not completely disguised. Instead of having respect for the deep-seated beliefs of all those who follow a religious doctrine, the Huffington Post portrayed religion as something frivolous and changeable.

Perhaps my favorite example of liberal hypocrisy in regards to religion revolves around our former speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi. The Congresswoman has often spoke in support of keeping religion and the state completely separate and was even given a 100% rating for her support of the separation of church and state by the appropriately named Americans United for Separation of Church and State. In a 2008 interview on Meet the Press with Tom Brokow, Pelosi emphasized her support for the separation between the entities in regards to abortion. Brokow commented: “The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that life begins at the point of conception.” The “Catholic” Nancy Pelosi responded: “It shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.” Here, the former speaker masked her pro-choice beliefs behind the shield of separation of church and state. This shield gives her a perfect excuse not to answer to the contradictions in her own beliefs (being a Catholic and pro-choice) Pelosi seems to believe that the distinction between religion and the government is far more important than her own religious views. Or perhaps not…Although Pelosi has spoken very highly of keeping religion and politics separate, she has hypocritically shoved her Christian beliefs into the public discourse anyway. While speaking at the Catholic Community Conference (why she was even invited, I’m not sure), Pelosi asked a group of Catholic bishops and cardinals that she hoped they would speak about immigration reform (aka amnesty) “from the pulpit” because reform “is a manifestation of our living the gospels.” This is exactly what the founders feared when they drafted the First Amendment. The Congresswoman’s statement is a perfect example of the government’s meddling in the affairs of religious communities immorally and perhaps illegally. Catholic officials and leaders from all religious communities should speak from the heart and speak for God, not the government.

            It is astonishing that something, namely religion, which is by definition good, can be perverted into such a great tool of evil. This is exactly what the founders feared when they put together the Constitution. I doubt that Thomas Jefferson could have foreseen how his concept of separation of church and state, designed to preserve the freedom of religion, has been twisted to create an increasingly secularized and intolerant society. In fact Jefferson and his other founders’ ideas and statements about religion would perhaps not be “tolerated” based upon the laws of today. Jefferson, although he was often conflicted when it came to religion stated: “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator and, I hope, to the pure doctrine of Jesus also.” George Washington stated in kind: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity religion and morality are indispensable supports." Congress even recommended in 1782 that the Bible be used in all schools. Early Americans, although diverse in their beliefs, agreed that religion was a key piece in the structure of our nation and should be preserved. In the modern day, religion is mocked, degraded, and eradicated every time you turn around. It’s no coincidence that this country started descending downhill once God was taken out of our schools and continues to slide as religion is removed from the public sphere. We must bring true religious tolerance back into this country if we are ever to get back on our feet again. A belief in God used to be something that united us instead of tearing us apart. In a few days, we will be celebrating the 4th of July and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. If we want to once again be a united country under the principles that we were found upon, we must remember the words of our forbearers in that great document: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”