Sunday, August 16, 2009

Patriots in the Park Speech, 15 August 2009

Text of speech delivered via phone from Bahrain to the "Patriots in the Park" event sponsored by 104.1/1260 KSGF in Springfield

First of all, greetings from the Kingdom of Bahrain, in the heart of the Persian Gulf. I am proud of my service to the United States here in the Middle East this summer, supporting the Navy's Fifth Fleet. I look forward to returning home in September, seeing and speaking to all of you again in person, while shifting my campaign into high gear. While I've been on active duty orders this summer, my staff has been diligently working to ensure that the Wisdom for Congress campaign continually stands up for the conservative ideals important to all of you.

I have no doubt that one question on everyone's mind is, “Why would Jeff Wisdom run for Congress?” What motivated me to enter the race is the same thing that led me to obligate myself for military service six years ago at age 33...a call to serve, to do my small part in supporting the country I love. A cornerstone of my campaign is personal responsibility. We must all seek ways make our communities and our nation stronger. We should all accept and embrace this basic responsibility. As citizens of this great county, we must realize that none of us are entitled to ANYTHING that we do not work hard to obtain. Even an icon of the Democrat party, President John F. Kennedy, said in his 1961 inaugural address that we must all ask what we can do for our country...not what our country can do for us. If we continually turn to government to solve our problems, be it health care, poverty, or education of our children, we surrender our basic freedoms and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. We can no longer allow ourselves to be enslaved by government. Democratic change through the electoral process can instead set us free from the bonds inflicted by the constraints of government entitlements. The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, commonly known to all of us as the Bill of Rights, were not written to grant more power to the federal government. In fact, these amendments restricted the powers the federal government could exercise over the states and the people. If anyone doubts me, read them for yourself.

Our country and our district are facing a monumental election in 2010, perhaps the most important in recent memory. So many changes are quickly befalling the nation. We are hastily moving from democratic capitalism to socialistic autocracy, governed by czars and executive orders. Many critics of capitalism refer to free markets and entrepreneurship as unfair or greedy. However, free markets, coupled with economic incentives, have provided us the standard of living we enjoy today and the opportunities that abound for those willing to sacrifice and engage in hard work.

In just one short year, all of you, the constituents of Missouri's seventh congressional district, will select the Republican nominee to succeed Rep. Roy Blunt in Washington, DC. Given the history of the district, this nominee will have a solid chance of becoming the next member of Congress from Southwest Missouri. Each one of you, as voters, is now examining those of us seeking the nomination. When you look over the list of candidates, what sets me apart from the field? There are several factors...I am not a career politician, I am not wealthy with deep pockets, I don't hold high-dollar fund raisers, I don't have well-connected campaign consultants on my payroll, and I'm not afraid to take a tough conservative stance on the issues. I am proud to be the first candidate in the race to take a definitive stand on earmarks. In a newspaper article from the Springfield News-Leader in early June, I was the only candidate that said a resounding "NO" to earmarks...period. The other candidates have recently adopted my stance. I point to this as but one example of the conservative leadership I can provide on the issues. While the talk of the race this summer has been: who has gotten which endorsement, who has raised the most money, or who has hired a famous name as a consultant, I've focused on a different mission...serving my country...and I pledge to do the same for you in Congress. The other candidates talk the talk, but can we truly expect different results if the campaigns are run the same-old, same-old way? I firmly believe that, as a candidate runs, so will he or she serve in Washington, DC. For precisely this reason, I plan to run a different kind of campaign in this that is focused on the people, run by the people, and stands up for the people.

All of us must find and display our political courage. No matter what the odds, we must stand up for our beliefs. We are not obliged to support politicians just because of who they are or what position they hold. They are servants of the people and fully accountable for their performance in office. Too many in elected positions - federal, state, and local - have forgotten what public service means. It's not about them, their status, or their power. Rather, it's about us. I pledge that I will never forget where I came from, or why I'm there, if you elect me as your voice in Congress.

What are my key issues?

First, like every good conservative I support limited government in all aspects of life - political, economic, and social. As my political mentor, President Ronald Reagan, once pointed out – government is not the solution, government is the problem. In most cases, our nation would be more civil and productive if government would simply get out of the way rather than becoming an obstacle to advancement. This is precisely why I fully support elimination of the federal income tax and implementation of the fair tax. The fair tax would enable people to make better financial decisions. It would foster economic growth and it would reduce government waste and overhead costs created by the IRS. I say let people keep the money they work hard for...let them decide what to buy, where to buy it, and how much to pay. Giving people - not government - this power will be the greatest catalyst for economic growth our nation has ever seen!

Second, I support state's rights. Under the Tenth Amendment, states are granted authority and responsibility over any area not relegated specifically to the federal government. I firmly believe that issues such as education should be state issues in which the federal government has essentially no functional role whatsoever. Overall student performance nationwide in areas such as science and mathematics has significantly declined as the federal government has implemented such policy initiatives as No Child Left Behind. I ask you...who should make key decisions concerning the education of our children: a classroom teacher in Southwest Missouri, or some highly-paid bureaucrat in Washington, DC? It's clear to me that localized control over education is more effective and produces significant improvement in test results. Charter schools are a shining example of what can be achieved at the local level.

Third, I am opposed to the economic expansion of government. Bailing out failed companies that made poor management choices, forcing one individual to pay for another individual's health care, establishing taxpayer-mandated ownership in insurance companies, banks, or automakers, or perhaps worse - doubling the national debt in a matter of less than two years - all defy the underlying premise of free market choice and democracy that enabled the U.S. to become the economic envy of the world!

Finally, many of you may ask, "Why should I support Jeff Wisdom for Congress?" I'm a real person who works hard every day just like all of you. I worked my way through college - both undergraduate and graduate school. I know what it's like to grow up in a middle class family. I'm proud that, including my grandfather, my father, my two uncles, and myself, my immediate family has served in every major conflict of the past century from World War I to Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terrorism...and, I assure you, it IS a War on Terrorism; no matter what politicians on the left decide to call it. I have studied and/or taught basic economic principles to college students for the better part of twenty years. There is no candidate running for this nomination that understands how the economy works better than I do. No one in Congress, especially Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank, can intimidate me into voting for bad economic policy. I stood face-to-face with insurgents and detainees in Iraq just one year ago, so I have experience standing up to others. Therefore, I will not cower...I will not back down from my principles...I will not sell out...NEVER, NO WAY, NO HOW!!

I anxiously await the campaign that lies ahead for all of us. I relish being the David going up against several Goliaths in this campaign...and we all know how that story turned out. I am in this race to prove that it's not all about the money, who you know, or who you rub shoulders with. It's about all of you. It's about our future and that of our children. I wish the best to all the candidates in this race. May God give each of us the courage and fortitude to stand up for basic conservative principles and common values. I appreciate the opportunity to speak from halfway around the world today. I ask that, in just one year, you place your faith and trust in me to represent you and the issues you care about as you vote WISDOM FOR CONGRESS. May God bless our country, our district, our families, and all of us in this endeavor to take our country back! Thank you all very much!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Miranda Rights on the Battlefield: Why?

Have you heard the news? The latest idea to defeat radical terrorists - having FBI agents read Miranda rights to enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan. What? Since when do insurgents or prisoners-of-war captured by our military had the right to remain silent, or the right to consult with an attorney? You can not fight a war, much less win one, with a flawed policy like this. We must consider the far-reaching ramifications for the defense of our country. There is a clear distinction between fighting a war and maintaining order through law enforcement. Law enforcement officials within the country naturally face legal constraints, implemented to protect the basic rights of our citizenry. Enemy combatants captured during military operations should not be categorized as ordinary "criminals." The last time I checked, we "mirandize" individuals in this country based on the 1966 Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona. That landmark Supreme Court decision applies to law enforcement activities conducted inside our borders. What legal application does that precedent have in Afghanistan? Absolutely none. Detainees captured in wartime outside our borders have no legal standing based on the Miranda case, nor should the administration attempt to arbitrarily create one as U.S. policy. Reading Miranda rights on the battlefield is not smart or expedient from a tactical perspective. Has warfare ever been conducted this way? This policy sets a very troubling legal precedent for future engagement of the enemy. What if we must defend South Korea against invasion from North Korea, Taiwain against a Chinese takeover, or Israel from Iranian aggression? Are we going to apply that same philosophy to detainees in those circumstances? Detainees have information which could save the lives of our troops or civilians working in theater. In the War on Terrorism (personally, I refuse to call it "Overseas Contingency Operations," as I earned a ribbon proudly worn on my military uniform designated specifically for my service in the "Global War on Terrorism"), interrogation of captured insurgents has provided intelligence preventing a domestic terrorist attack. For the sake of our armed forces, their mission, and the safety of the country, the Administration must realize the error of this policy and rescind it before it costs American lives. I say this as an American who gained first-hand knowledge and experience with detainee operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Demise of General Motors: A Personal Perspective

General Motors, once the envy of the automotive world, now barely hangs by a thread in its effort to survive the current economic climate. Monday's bankruptcy filing by GM was inevitable. Last fall, my economics classes discussed in detail whether GM's best option was bankruptcy, not a government bailout. After $50 billion in corporate welfare, the company still landed in federal bankruptcy court anyway. The demise of GM, while predictable, was disheartening. As a young boy, my family was a GM family. My grandfather owned a 1967 Chevrolet pickup (which is still in the garage at my parents' house). My grandmother had a 1976 Pontiac Ventura. My parents over the years have had four Chevrolet cars, a Buick, two Oldsmobiles, and a Cadillac. My first vehicle as a teenager was an older Chevrolet pickup, followed by a 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, followed by a 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. In the mid 1990s, I purchased my first foreign vehicle. I bought an Isuzu pickup. Believe it or not, I bought that vehicle brand new for less than $10,000 with a standard transmission. It didn't have many "extras," but over the course of the next few years I drove that little pickup about 130,000 miles and almost never had anything wrong with it. In fact, I didn't even have to replace the brake pads until I had over 100,000 miles on it. Given that experience, I was sold on Japanese quality. Nonetheless, I did venture one last time into domestic vehicle territory. I purchased a 1996 GMC Jimmy. It was a good vehicle that was fun to drive...that is, until the air conditioning went out at around 100,000 miles. Living in the Ozarks, air conditioning in the summertime is a must. The estimate to repair a modern a/c system, about eight years ago, was about $1,200. Well, needless to say, I began looking for other options. I settled on a brand new 2002 Toyota Tundra extended-cab pickup. It wasn't really what I set out to buy, but it turned out to be exactly what I wanted. Toyota had sought to capture domestic market share from both GM and Ford in the full-size truck market, and they were succeeding...big time. The Toyota Tundra was made tough, but it rode like a luxury vehicle. There was hardly any engine noise inside the cab, not something that was typical for a truck. I drove that Tundra for two years, then decided to upgrade to a quad-cab version in 2004. I bought a demo model with a DVD player and satellite radio. It was overall one of my favorite vehicles to own. I kept the second Tundra until just this year, when I traded it for a 2005 Nissan Pathfinder. After going back to a truck for the past seven years, it just seemed time for another SUV. Back in 2003, I had also bought a 1999 Toyota Camry, primarily for the gas mileage. There were times when driving the Tundra could cost an arm and most of a leg in fuel, especially when I commuted back-and-forth to the University of Arkansas for post-graduate and doctoral classes. I kept the Camry until 2007, when I found a 2003 Infiniti G35, a model from Nissan's luxury brand. It was as close to "love at first sight" as a car buyer can get I suppose. The G35 had a silver and black interior, leather seats, sunroof, and a premium Bose speaker system. I wasn't really planning to trade the Camry at that point, but the Infiniti was just too stunning to let slip through my fingers. Driving the Infiniti was the kicker...purring just like a kitten, handling almost any road surface with precision. My latest foray into imports has been a 2006 Acura TL. Acura, which is the luxury line for Honda, has long been known for quality and safety, plus the ability to maintain a solid trade-in value. I like the track record of the Acura, but still have a greater affinity for the G35 at this point. Whether that will change only time will tell. Bottom line, I can't see myself returning to domestic vehicles anytime soon. If the deals get even more lucrative, then maybe I'll consider another domestic. I do like GM's on-star system, which has undoubtedly saved lives in crashes, and the day for individuals who get locked out of their vehicles. But, for me at least, the foreign automakers have just become more adept at providing quality models with features that individuals want. One of the basic tenets of capitalism is that you can't dictate what consumers will get. Producers must make what consumers actually want to buy. The Obama Administration is ignoring that aspect of our economy. The administration wants GM to begin manufacturing smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. While a noble ideal, it is not necessarily one that will sell in the marketplace. I do understand what the administration wants to accomplish, but we must let the free market decide. The dictatorial approach to output doesn't work in North Korea or Cuba. It didn't work in the old Soviet Union or China. It didn't work in Eastern Europe. Nor should it be attempted here with the expectation of positive results.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Earmarks: Off the Mark?

State Sen. Gary Nodler, the latest addition to the congressional race here in the seventh district, said in his campaign kickoff last Thursday that the $25 million he secured this year for a battery manufacturer in Joplin was not an "earmark." He contends that monies appropriated during committee hearings, regardless of the purpose, are not earmarks. Needless to say, that definition is a hotly-contested one. According to today's Springfield News-Leader, his characterization is just not congruent with congressional or presidential definitions of earmarks. Nodler used the same justification for his appropriation that the Obama Administration and congressional democrats used to pass the federal stimulus bill in February - it would create jobs. His assertion could diminish his credibility with conservative voters in the district, especially on fiscal issues. He further pledged to seek earmarks through the committee process if elected to Congress. As a fellow candidate for the congressional office being vacated by Rep. Roy Blunt, my aim is to keep my campaign positive. Therefore, I will not openly criticize Nodler's logic. Nonetheless, I do want to clearly differentiate myself from him, as well as the other contenders currently in the race, on the issue of earmarks. Bottom line...I am opposed to earmarks by members of Congress in the federal budget process...period...end of story. The practice of earmarking, in large measure, has led our nation to amass an enormous national debt. Based on current projections, the federal debt could reach $20 trillion in the next eight years. This "country club" environment in Washington, D.C. has fostered an endless wave of quid pro quo wheeling-and-dealing throughout the U.S. Capitol. On any given day, I have no doubt you can hear the following diatribe being uttered numerous times, "Hey, I'll vote for your project if you'll vote for mine." We will NEVER get runaway government spending under control unless members of Congress STOP the practice of earmarking legislation. In fact, Congress should be cutting the president's budget, not inflating it. The federal budget should not be a Christmas tree, and members of Congress should not play Santa Claus with taxpayer money. Based on their own comments in today's News-Leader article, none of the other candidates in this congressional race would completely rule out earmarks in Congress. State Sen. Jack Goodman created a list of criteria, but did not specify who would make the ultimate decision about whether an earmark would meet his criteria - his office or the constituents. I make this pledge to the people of the seventh district - if elected to Congress, I will NEVER seek an earmark for a project. Furthermore, I will do everything within my power to eliminate earmarks altogether. If there's a project that warrants public support through a bond issue, competitive block grant, etc., I will provide accurate information and data to the district, enabling voters themselves to decide its fate. I would rather projects be funded and controlled by state and local entities, not federal appropriations. That's true fiscal conservatism in action.

Where Did All the Common Sense Go?

Whatever happened to common sense? I suppose it's always been there, lurking around the corner, in the halls of the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House. It just seems our elected officials chose to ignore it at some point. They put it on a shelf and said, "We have better ways of doing things now." Are politicians in Washington, D.C. somehow smarter than the rest of us? Granted, they may have their fancy degrees from Yale and Harvard, but does that mean they really know how to run a country? They seem to be running the country into the ground, that's for sure. No disrespect to those Ivy League institutions, but can one of their alums effectively relate to an average American who's trying to make an honest living and feed a family? I mean really. Many members of Congress have never run so much as a business. Here in the Ozarks, we may not have the highest percentage of Ph.D. graduates. Yet, we have some of the hardest-working individuals you will find anywhere. The seventh congressional district of Missouri is among the most conservative areas in the United States. Ironically, we still have one of the healthiest economies in the entire country as well. We are weathering the bursting of the housing bubble, the rise in unemployment, and the downturn in retail sales, all with a lower tax burden than most other locales in the country. This just proves that hard work, determination, and perseverance trumps government bailouts anytime. Why can't our elected officials in Washington understand that? It's time to dust off the common sense that politicians put on the shelf too long ago. Give our country and the government back to the people. Take less from them, give them incentives to produce and spend, and the recession is over...plain and simple. It shouldn't take a law degree to understand that, or even a lobbyist to explain it. Politicians see only common "cents" these days, not common sense. We need more bold conservative voices in Congress. I'm ready to do my part! Wisdom for Congress...because Congress needs Wisdom!!