Conservative commentary: Is America exceptional?


— Nearly 20 years ago, a friend of mine initiated a new graduate school of Diplomacy and Statecraft in Washington, D.C., with the premise that it was necessary to understand the "American Experiment" in depth or citizens would see no reason to expend time, energy and even blood to defend it. Implicit was the recognition that our educational system had pretty much failed us in this task. Years of political correctness have minimized hard knowledge and individual responsibility. These have been replaced by multiculturalism, which essentially proclaims that all societies and cultures are equal to or perhaps even superior to our own.

Is it true?

With the recent meltdown in the financial markets and antipathy against the Iraq war (one insisting on winning and one on losing), it seems a legitimate time to do some serious soul-searching for our national direction. Furthermore, the upcoming election offers a dichotomy not seen before: We either take these tough times in stride by resisting the impulse to panic by drawing on our knowledge of fluctuating markets to keep the system in place, or we opt to re-impose drastic regulations and policies which could choke the economy for years to come. Which way, America?

Some simple historical research will show that our free enterprise system has suffered dramatic downturns sporadically with the markets reaching new highs each and every time in the aftermath. Although painful, we need to return to basics and not "throw the baby out with the bathwater." Any objective analysis shows that no country even comes close to America in creating prosperity. There's a reason for that.

Everything in Barack Obama's background points to a belief system at odds with our history of economic freedom and America as a one-of-a-kind nation. So before voting this Tuesday, it might be wise to keep certain thoughts in mind:

- Americans believe in two kinds of freedom being intertwined inexorably: economic and political. Although countries such as China are attempting to allow the former without the latter, this would be completely unacceptable to Americans. But the opposite also is true. Limiting our economic freedom to Third World or even European standards would be anathema to most Americans.

- Although we generally separate taxes from notions of liberty, we tend to forget the prime impetus for the American Revolution was taxes. Simply put, the more of our hard-earned money we give to the government, the less freedom we have. They make the decision how to spend it, we don't. So the obvious question is: Who spends it better?

- Similarly, we know that British attempts to confiscate arms in Massachusetts in 1775 are what led to the "shot heard 'round the world." The battle for gun rights is as old as our country.

- No one doubts that reasonable regulation of certain industries such as banks and the financial markets is necessary. The question is always one of degree. It's crucial to note that presently and historically, unbridled capitalism was seldom the culprit in financial panics. Rather, the combination of government and business monopolies has caused the greatest damage. Case in point: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae structured as private profit, public liability and then propped up with connections and campaign contributions. And we're shocked this came crashing down?

Sen. Obama has given every indication that his idea of "change" for America is a combination of European socialism and limiting individual freedoms. He proclaims himself a "citizen of the world" trumping just being a proud American. He has refused to salute the flag and deemed wearing a flag pin insulting to our enemies. Change? Not this kind.

Hofmeister is the owner and operator of Hofmeister Personal Jewelers in downtown Steamboat, a company he founded in 1973. He is a director of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado and a former Republican nominee for Congress in the 10th District of Indiana. He made 18 trips to t


playa46 7 years, 5 months ago

Congrats Obama on being the first African-American President ever, I am glad I was around to see this historic moment.


JustSomeJoe 7 years, 6 months ago

It's amazing to me how Gary says so little in 600 words or so, and backs it up with even less. Let me try to state his case more directly. Let's see, Obama's a socialist that will take your guns while hating our flag. Oh yeah, all the sub-prime lending that went on in the country is Fannie and Freddie's fault, even though Fannie and Freddie don't lend to sub-prime borrowers. In summation, it's the last 18 months of a Democratically led Congress is to blame for everything that is ailing our economy, our status in the world and how the war is going. That about sum it up Gary?


JLM 7 years, 6 months ago

Works for me. LOL

I think Joe caught it just right and that Gary is absolutely correct. Nice job, Joe.

Obama is a naif, a fakir and a poseur who will do exactly what he has indicated if elected. God forbid!


Steve Lewis 7 years, 6 months ago

As a progressive, I find these conservative letters of late fairly harmless. The letters are just so out of touch with the facts and issues serious thinking independents are weighing. You would think Gary would leave out the misinformation which has been widely debunked, and present a better argument.

Mixing the ludicrous in with the serious makes it doubly sad, because in the coming months Republicans will have a hard enough time regrouping. I would like to see something better from them that converges on their vision of our future needs. I hope they will no longer settling for the same old wedge issues like what Americans do in their bedrooms.

Gary's poorly founded and Real America scattershot holds little to take forward.

On this meltdown, Gary has it backwards - the free market cooked this goose. The mortgage market would not have soared out of hand if the greed at Wall St. hadn't been allowed so much freedom. It is widely acknowledged the bundling of mortgages into securities products removed transparency and obscured the weakness of those mortgages. To overcome this flaw, Wall St. invented "credit default swaps" to insure those same mortgage based securities against any loss. There was NO CAPITAL set aside to back up the defaults swaps. A scam upon a scam. Greed upon greed. Free market house of cards.


seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

That perfectly describes the scam that the Dems used Fannie/Freddie for. Giving mortgages to unqualified buyers and filling the portfolios of both agencies while cooking the books to hide greed as perpetrated by the likes of Franklyn Raines and others and condoned by the lawmakers, Dodd, Frank and Obama and other Liberal Dems. We have all seen tapes of the hearings from a couple years ago when those sounding the warning bell were labeled racist or that Fannie/Freddie are not in jeopardy. It seems to me that Wall Street did what it is supposed to do, make earnings on investments. The problems lied with mortgage oversight or lack there of. As far as capital back up, it was Raines who lowered the amount to under 3%. The breadcrumbs have been followed back to the origination and we now know it was the community organizers ACORN who started a campaign of violence against Bank Managers and Presidents to loan to the unqualified that set the stage for this crisis. But go ahead and blame the Republicans and Bush as it suits you, truth doesn't matter when politics are at stake.


JustSomeJoe 7 years, 6 months ago

seeuski - Fannie and Freddie do not offer sub-prime mortgages. They do offer some mortgage in the Alt-A space, but Fannie and Freddie MBS are not the issue in the mortgage foreclosure mess. In fact, Fannie and Freddie issued mortgage backed securities are fairing much better than mortgages issued by sub-prime banks like IndyMac and Fremont, and mortgages funded through brokers via Wall Street funded wholesale mortgage conduits.

Wall Street and banks like Fremont and IndyMac funded these sub-prime mortgages because they were willing to chase higher rates of return with a corresponding higher risk. There is always a tremendous amount of money chasing return, and in the easy credit/rising real estate bubble many, many financial institutions streched for return just like the folks borrowing too much money for too much house at the top of the market. Fannie and Freddie did have accounting issues and you can blame whoever you want for it, but they didn't fuel the easy credit and rising interest rates. Their lending standards stayed relatively consistent through-out the mess.

Credit default swaps and derivates are the provenance of Wall Street, not Fannie/Freddie or Congress. Unfortunately we did not regulate these new financial instruments (invented in 1996) like we should have and what started as a hedging tool ended up as a pyramid scheme. The size of the mortgage market is roughly $10 trillion, but the mortgage derivative market was $50 trillion. You can't make 10 into 50 no matter how you slice it.

Hofmiester, JLM, seeuski, and McCain/Palin are all the same when it comes to this election season. Rhetoric, mis-direction, fear, and absolutely no discussion of the issues. No real idea where to go from here, no ability to distinguish a position that is different than the last eight years so they stick to flag pins, fakirs and socialism. The cement boots of Bush/Cheney policies, extreme partisanship and no new ideas have relegated them to smoke and mirrors rhetoric and/or heckling from the sidelines. Safe to say they are among the 25% or so of americans who approve of the current administration.


stillinsteamboat 7 years, 6 months ago

It would be so refreshing to read something from the conservatives that is an original argument and not one they learned from Fox News or Rush (the druggie).


seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

justjoe, Soooo, Fannie/Freddie didn't guarantee stated income(liar loans)? Low doc/no income loans? You mention ALT-A, How about Expanded Approval levels AE-I, AE-II, and AE-III? These options were competition for the Institutions you mentioned above and were the equivalent of subprime. Credit scores in the low 500's are included in these and Fannie/Freddie used to stay above 620.RISKY BUSINESS EH? How about Flexible 97? This is a product for people with little liquid assets(down payment money) and less then perfect credit.

The difference between the Lenders that were not backing their securities with Fannie/Freddie and the programs I just listed is.... We are on the hook with Fannie/Freddie and the others are free market typically foreign investment hedge funds. I just love when Liberals want to now defend that which they condemned 3 years ago when the news broke about Fannie cooking the books. Politics=strange bedfellows. Go ahead make my day. Any new spin you can come up with? Look forward to it Obamanite.


seeuski 7 years, 6 months ago

Another thing, If it goes as the polls say, YOU and your friends, are about to elect a socialistic, spread the wealth, tax and spend Liberal who wants to raise taxes and give our money to those that don't pay taxes or as he said in his own words"the civil rights movement of the 60's failed to redistribute the wealth threw constitutional changes". Is that reparations or what?

We will see how your little experiment goes over the next 4 years.


JLM 7 years, 6 months ago

Joey, babe, Obama does not want to discuss the issues. He'd rather talk about the Bush administration, hooooooooooooooooooooooope, chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaange and other meaningless platitudes.

I am concerned about his most liberal Senate voting record, complete lack of executive experience, his voting "present" on the big issues of the day in the Illinois Senate, his undistinguished 143 days in the Senate, his total lack of any bi-partisan legislative experience, his support for late term/partial birth/born alive abortions, his stealth opposition to guns, his lack of foreign policy experience, his naive willingness to meet with foreign dictators, his ill advised tax policies for small business and corporations, his extremely socialistic wealth re-distribution views, his naivete in regard to creating jobs, his goofy thoughts on increasing taxes on capital during the midst of a capital crisis, his desire to pull out of Iraq on the verge of total victory, his bizarre energy plans, his broken promises in regard to campaign funding, his association with ACORN, the truthfulness of his assertions in regard to Wright/Ayers/Khalidi and his GQ foreign tour (ich bin ein poseur).

Barack doesn't want to discuss the issues, he wants to discuss meaningless, feel good, chicken in every pot liberal shibbeloths. He's truly a naif, a fakir and a poseur.

You want scary --- the most liberal member of the Senate with all of 143 days of undistinguished experience, a San Francisco liberal Speaker and a Leader from a state whose core industries and values are gambling and prostitution.

And you want to discuss the issues? Right! Oh, boy, Joey, we got issues. Hold on America, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 6 months ago

Calm down. Your wasting bandwidth anymore.

The folks who care about anything politically deeper than Palin's wardrobe have already made up their minds. The oversimplified rhetoric is aimed at overwhelming Joe Who Just Tuned In.

JLM, I'm surprised at how many times you can say "scary". You much be one rich dude, is all I can figure, because you had such a tax slant to your earlier arguments.

McCain may still win. I could live with that. The shame is how many good things McCain has done for us that he can't campaign about. Too many of his best accomplishments run counter to the Rep. base.

That independents and his base are so far apart in a left-center country tells me the Rep. base is pretty damn far out there.


JLM 7 years, 6 months ago

America is clearly a right center country just now even David Axelrod agrees to that fact.

I think the truth of the matter is that no party has a "base" any more as we have become a country and culture of special interests, hyphenated Americans and single issue constituencies.

Some of these groups, individually, predictably occupy a part of the spectrum that is more or less right or left of center while the balance simply orbit aimlessly focusing only on the candidate's campaign promises and how they impact them.

It is the politics of --- what's in it for me?

This election may go down as one of the most unusual in that race was a unifying rallying call for all black people who gravitated to BO solely because of his race. No argument with that, I am absolutely certain I would be voting for BO if I were black.

What is missing is any sense of real service, patriotism or the grandeur of the American dream?

Can you actually believe that candidates have justified tax policy on some goofy measure of patriotism or selfishness? Taxes are a necessary evil --- like a prostate inspection at your annual physical --- not something which evidences patriotism. How do we let these guys get away with something that offensive?

What we have this election is a Lucy and Charlie Brown election --- the liberals promise the standard package of feel good lies and as sure as Christmas, Lucy is going to pull the ball away again! LOL

Remember to act surprised when BO fails to give you a tax break. Liberals, you can't love them and there is a 4-liberal limit. Sheesh!


JustSomeJoe 7 years, 6 months ago

seeuski - i see you know something about lending, or more likely you can simply use the google on the internets. Have you read the OFHEO reports on portfolio quality? Do you know where non-prime and non-performing loans are vis-a-vis the rest of the portfolio? My point was that the GSEs weren't responsible for the sub-prime mess relative to the unregulated wholesale loan conduits backed by wall street broker dealers, and the portfolio quality backs my statement up? Yes we are on the hook for Fannie and Freddie, I understand that, so save it.

You simply prove my mis-direction point with another screed. You put yourself in the same troll category as JLM, although he is unmatched here in his willingness to flat out lie. I've said in the past to ignore JLM and I will continue to ignore his irrelavancy


playa46 7 years, 6 months ago

Hope and Change, two things Obama says he will do. Some of you believe that will never happen and hide behind McCain.

However, why is it a problem to try? I actually do see change for the good in the next four years (If Obama is elected.) The Iraq War, Healthcare and our economic crisis, all of these things will actually CHANGE if Obama is elected.

JLM- It continues to amaze me how you use your same arguement over and over again.

"Obama is a naif, a fakir and a poseur who will do exactly what he has indicated if elected. God forbid!"

And what do you think McCain is? A "Maverick" who will drive our economy into a deeper hole? I have seen many McCain ads saying "Change is coming". Oh wait, he has voted with Bush 90% of the time. If anything, McCain is a naif, a fakir and a poseur.

Try to think a little bit before you say something!

I hope all of you did your duty!!!!!VOTE!

                                 Have a nice day :)

JustSomeJoe 7 years, 6 months ago

JLM's naif, fakir, poseur line went over as well as all of the McCain Palin jingles. The award for the worst use of a thesaurus on a message board goes to JLM!


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