Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Yet more good news

Over the weekend I attended some local Republican conventions in Minnesota. Minnesota is a caucus state, which means that local grassroots activists have much greater influence in determining everything from the party platform to the selection of candidates to the execution of campaigns across the state. It is a terrific leveling force against the complaint that “big money” rules politics; unlike primary states where candidates run their campaigns largely through paid media, caucus states ensure that the people who truly care about the direction of their party and the quality of their candidates are heard loud and clear.

I was delighted to see excellent turnout at these local conventions in a non-election year. It was obvious to me that conservatives are motivated and focused on rebuilding the Republican Party in Minnesota. I heard lots of good ideas, substantive discourse on a variety of topics, and one overall message loud and clear:

The Republican Party is a conservative party, with conservative principles that we are not interested in leaving behind. On the contrary, the folks at these conventions believe (rightly so, in my opinion), that we need to do a much better job of adhering to our conservative principles and articulating the success of those principles to the rest of the voters. America is a center right country; even apolitical people cringe at the idea of “socialism” and government control of their lives. Americans believe that the government that governs best governs least, and that there is no government control that will substitute for personal responsibility, integrity and conviction.

The success of our local conventions combines with a spontaneous explosion of conservative activity around the country: Tea Party rallies with tens of thousands of participants, governors making the very hard (but wise) choice to eschew the Big O’s “free” candy because they know that their state’s freedom will be held for ransom in return, bank executives telling the federal government they can take their TARP funds and put them somewhere else because their intrusion and control isn’t wanted in our free market system, and local groups of all kinds springing up, using the power of the internet to connect with each other and spread the conservative message.

This is how it all starts: conservatives banding together on the issues, educating and motivating each other so we can go out and literally evangelize the general electorate. As we build our momentum, we need to keep our message clear: the Republican Party is a conservative party. We are not Democrat Lite, we are not Mushy Middle. We’re not interested in wannabes or RINOs. We have no patience for whining, grousing, or petty personal agendas. We want tried and true positive conservatives who will build on the momentum we see starting and take advantage of all the innovation that the web and other tools have to offer to catapult the Republican Party back into the majority in Minnesota and across the country. We've got a great start. Let’s keep it going!

Monday, March 23, 2009

And now for the good news.

The media is full of bad news. I managed to work myself into a full-blown fit the other day before work because I made the mistake of watching the morning news as I got ready. By the time I got into the car I was a nervous wreck, ready to throw in the towel on everything we were doing to build our business. I have a pretty thick skin, which tells you how dramatically bad the commentary was that morning.

But just as the media started reporting on the recession long after it actually began, so they are lagging behind on highlighting the improvements we are seeing on the ground. My business – the restaurant business – is much like the canary in the coal mine of the economy. Eating out is almost completely discretionary for most people, so restaurants tend to be more sensitive to even minor changes in the economy. It doesn’t take much for people to decide to eat out less often, choose less expensive venues, and spend less on their meal when they do go out.

The good news is that sales in our restaurants are up – strongly up.

Digging into further research gave me even more reason to be optimistic that we’re seeing the bottom of the economy and are moving out of the recessionary period. Here are a few stats to consider, according to Gallup Research Polling rolling averages:

Consumer spending is up to $58*, an increase of 6 points
People who are “Not Worried” about their personal finances: 63%
Consumer mood: Happiness is up 10 points to 54%
People who feel “Energized” is up 3 points to 53%
People who think the economy is getting better: 27%, a 20 month high
Consumer mood has improved by 31 points over past 10 days
Support for nuclear energy: 59%, all time high
Economy trumps environment: for the first time, 51% of Americans say economic growth should be given top priority, even if the environment suffers for it

*Note: this number is still lower than it was earlier this year; however, there is no adjustment available to account for the lower prices people are paying for goods. So, while people may not be spending more hard currency, they are coming out and buying more goods – they’re just getting better deals due to reduced pricing.

This is great news for Main Street. When people start to feel better, they relax. When they relax, they open themselves up to possibilities and new perspectives – like, maybe the sky isn’t really falling after all. There are always caveats: Obama’s stupidity could easily derail this delicate improvement; China, Russia or any number of other countries could short circuit our recovery with their own problems because we owe them so much money at the federal level, and the Democrats in Congress are quite able to reroute any improvements to their own districts and then take credit for everything good that happens from here on out, and many banks are still making things difficult for business, and the Big O’s spending sprees have done absolutely nothing to improve that at any level.

I believe we will still see some job shedding in fat or outdated industries. However, with public sentiment swinging toward making the economy a priority over everything else including the environment, we will begin to see new jobs opening up in other industries by the end of the year – if we don’t let the Big O and Co. screw it up too badly.

Obama is an idiot.

For the past few weeks I’ve been paying very close attention to the Big O’s administration and movements as he tilted this way and that on his agenda, his positions on various issues, and trying to fill his Cabinet. I tried to cut him a little slack regarding ignorance in the actual “being president” part of this historical juggernaut; after all, he’d only been a US Senator for 43 days when he announced he was running for President. One could understand that he hadn’t had a chance to really absorb the finer points of running the country day to day in such a short time – details such as choosing Cabinet members without major legal and tax problems, paying more than momentary lip service to the idea of getting to know the folks on the other side of the aisle before insulting them, and actually putting a mature White House staff in place that knows how to do more than just campaign for the liberal agenda, they might also be able to spell.

However, enough is enough. The Big O has shown that while he’s a stellar campaigner, he’s a completely incompetent leader. He hasn’t a clue what he’s doing. Unfortunately, like so many others who are products of free passes in life, he thinks he’s a lot smarter than he is. He’s not interested in being corrected because he smugly thinks he already knows everything. In fact, he knows very little from a practical standpoint. Forget the Harvard degree. With all due respect to Harvard graduates, the only thing Obama had to do to get his degree was agree with the left-wing teachings of his professors – not exactly a difficult thing to do for a master manipulator.

Oh, the Big O knows plenty about putting on a cool front – but just about any teenager can school you in the art of being cool. He knows a lot about manipulating words and images to get people to do what he wants – as do my 2 year old and my 6 year old. He is a truly gifted orator, an important skill for which he not only has a natural talent, but which he also learned at the feet of Reverend Wright and others who are also accomplished in emotional manipulation to further their own agendas. It’s easy for the lay person to confuse master manipulation for wisdom; it’s even easier to mistake gifted eloquence for intelligence. They are neither.

The Big O has now shown without a doubt that he is not only a dedicated and unapologetic socialist who seems to despise the very socioeconomic and political systems that gave him the opportunity to become President of the most powerful nation on earth, he’s not even remotely good at the most basic functions of the job. And he doesn't seem to care about that. He brushes off the near daily mistakes of his administration and aides as unimportant distractions from the "real" business of being President, when in fact, these near constant errors are symptomatic of a fundamental lack of competence that affects every aspect of policy and politics.

The question is being asked: when will the media turn on him? The answer is absolutely never. Not a chance. Instead, they’ll blame nitpicky critics who are out to “get” him, and an outmoded system of standards that are unrealistic and probably irrelevant in this txt msg age. They will never expect their golden boy to conform to the universe as it stands; instead, they will expect the universe to evolve around to his style.

That is, if there are any traditional media outlets left in business to even talk about it.