The only reason Obama and his fellow Democrats aren't constantly tagged as extreme is because the press is so far left that it treats them as reasonable centrists. Meanwhile, by skewing the polls, the increasingly radicalized Democratic Party manages to make the country appear more liberal than it really is.
I would say "more socialist" instead of more liberal. I still believe Americans are quite liberal in the classical sense, i.e. individual liberty.
"Congressmen" Udall and Bennet Vote to Discontinue US Senate
"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the presidentís nominees.
Part of the Times' defense of this headlong rush to make the Senate indistinguishable from the House is that it only applies to Presidential appointment nominations, not including the Supreme Court.
But now that the Senate has begun to tear down undemocratic procedures, the precedent set on Thursday will increase the pressure to end those filibusters, too.
"A republic, madam, if you can keep it."
"Keep it? From what?"
"From becoming a democracy."
Yesterday, Colorado's two Democrat Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet joined 50 other Democrats to resolve that the United States Government shall henceforth have two majoritarian chambers with little difference between them. In the process they essentially "demoted" themselves from Senators to Congressmen, and I for one shall refer to them as such.
UPDATE: Investors Business Daily, on the other hand, says this is the furthest thing from democracy.
Appearing as himself in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," then-CBS radio commentator H.V. Kaltenborn called the filibuster "democracy's finest show: the right to talk your head off, the American privilege of free speech in its most dramatic form."
Of the excitement surrounding Stewart's fictional senator taking a stand against a majority deluded into believing the slanders spread against him, Kaltenborn said: "In the diplomatic gallery are the envoys of two dictator powers. They have come to see what they can't see at home: democracy in action."
Thanks to Reid and his power-hungry liberals, Americans can no longer see it either.
Blog patriarch jk established, almost 6 years ago, Prosperitarianism. Today I read, for the first time in my publicly educated life, the Unspoken Speech that JFK was on his way to give when he was assassinated 50 years ago today. I feel I may offer the last piece of the puzzle for organizing the new American liberty party when I suggest jk's excellent platform be joined with a far better party name than Prosperitarian - The "JFK Party."
It is clear, therefore, that we are strengthening our security as well as our economy by our recent record increases in national income and output -- by surging ahead of most of Western Europe in the rate of business expansion and the margin of corporate profits, by maintaining a more stable level of prices than almost any of our overseas competitors, and by cutting personal and corporate income taxes by some $11 billion, as I have proposed, to assure this Nation of the longest and strongest expansion in our peacetime economic history.
Prosperitarianism can save the American Constitutional Republic by promoting private enterprise and restricting government to its proper sphere. JFKism can actually inspire people to take it seriously.
This Nation's total output -- which 3 years ago was at the $500 billion mark -- will soon pass $600 billion, for a record rise of over $100 billion in 3 years. For the first time in history we have 70 million men and women at work. For the first time in history average factory earnings have exceeded $100 a week. For the first time in history corporation profits after taxes -- which have risen 43 percent in less than 3 years -- have an annual level of $27.4 billion.
My friends and fellow citizens: I cite these facts and figures to make it clear that America today is stronger than ever before. Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.
That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions -- it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations -- it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.
We in this country, in this generation, are -- by destiny rather than choice -- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."
Don't take my word for it. Here is the spin from NPR:
For the congressional Democrats whose votes made the Affordable Care Act a reality and who will have to defend their support for the law in the 2014 midterm elections, the problems with the federal website are a political nightmare.
Not only do the website's problems embolden the Republican opposition to the law; they place Democrats on the defensive at a time when the party appears to have the advantage coming out of the shutdown/debt default crises.
Several recent polls suggest that Republicans greatly damaged themselves by forcing the crisis, a self-inflicted wound Democrats are eager to exploit. Some of the more ebullient Democrats even claimed that their chances for retaking the House had improved significantly.
But now there's a chance 2014 could find Democrats conducting their own version of damage control, as a result of the disastrous digital rollout.
We may yet learn which profession is most reviled by the American public: politicians, or insurance salesmen.
I will stop the motor of the redistributionist state
Three Sources favorite Yaron Brook tweeted a reason Why Senate Republicans Hate Ted Cruz that was missing from the list compiled by John Dickerson of CBS. Dickerson's reasons include things like "he's fooled the grassroots" and created "false distrust" between members and their constituents. They're also jealous, says Dickerson, that "in a matter of months, Cruz has built a base of support that allowed him to act as the de facto Republican leader of the Senate."
But Brook nailed it, in less than 140 characters:
Why Senate Republicans hate Ted Cruz? Because they are unprincipled power-lusters.
Precisely. While Senate Republicans as a rule are more interested in going along and getting along, Senator Cruz is more interested in doing what he believes is right - acting consistently with his principles. Whatever a senator's principles, Cruz explained during the filibuster, he should be loyal to them and not to the dictates of party leaders. Cruz seeks to dismantle the power structure in the US Senate, where a cabal of senators from both parties effectively decides how every vote will transpire. That's not the way representative government works, it's the way a dictatorship tries to make itself look like representative government.
America's "dictators" employ wealth redistribution through government to maintain political power for themselves and, so far, Ted Cruz has shown he's not going to play that game.
I replied to Yaron Brook's tweet with an observation of my own: "In a very real sense, Ted Cruz has acted as a political John Galt - stopping the motor of redistributionism."
I was not paying huge attention to the gubernatorial election in The Old Dominion. I hoped to see Clintonista snake Terry McAuliffe lose on the basis of his outrageous 'lectriccar crony capitalism, but I was just watching.
Kim Strassel (must be Friday) makes an interesting point. I have wondered since 2010 how we (Colorado Republicans, Kimosabe) could ever win against the tactics that opposed Ken Buck. Strassel nails it:
Virginia so far has been a carbon copy of what Democrats did so successfully in last year's Senate and House races. The approach runs thus: A Democratic candidate, assisted by unions and outside partisan groups, floods the zone with attack ads, painting the GOP opponent as a tea-party nut who is too "extreme" for the state. The left focuses on divisive wedge issues--like abortion--that resonate with women or other important voting constituencies.
As the Republican's unfavorable ratings rise, the Democrat presents himself as a reasonable moderate, in tune with the state's values. A friendly media overlook the Democrat's reliably liberal record, and the lies within the smears against his opponent, and ultimately declares the Democrat unbeatable.
She doesn't say "Ken Buck" but could not be more accurate in describing Colorado's 2010 Senate race. Buck was a tea party guy and an imperfect candidate. He is grouped with Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware as "Tea Party Overreach." It may be true, but nobody compared his actual beliefs with that of Sen. Bennett; they saw a caricature.
That will work every even numbered year in Colorado. The GOP candidate -- not likely to be Pro Life -- will be presented as Todd Akin's more conservative cousin on his mom and his dad's side. Media in Colorado is comparatively cheap and the left's SuperPACs can flood the zone pretty cost-effectively.
Virginia, Strassel says, has come up with a remedy. Just be true to your philosophy and engage your opponent on important local issues and -- oh who am I kidding? It's "don't bring a knife to a gun fight."
Enter a new conservative Super PAC, Fight For Tomorrow, which last week began running a creative TV ad against Mr. McAuliffe in the Washington and Richmond areas. Little is known about FFT (as a national Super PAC, it will be required to disclose its backers in January), but one thing is clear from conversations with those involved: The organization's primary focus is to directly take on the Democratic bare-knuckle strategy--and not just neutralize it, but throw it back at the attackers.
The concept behind FFT's ad is to give Virginia voters a context in which to view the McAuliffe attacks. The group's TV spot notes that there is a "gang" supporting Mr. McAuliffe: the leaders of the Democratic Party; an elitist media; Wall Street liberals; outside partisan groups; Hollywood.
Having specified who is doing the smearing on Mr. McAuliffe's behalf, the spot goes on to explain why the groups want Mr. McAuliffe to win: To impose an agenda that Virginians truly would view as nuts. Employing a potent list of "geography verbs," the ad finishes: "Tell these McAuliffe puppeteers, this is Virginia. We won't let you Detroit us with taxes and debt. You will not California Virginia with regulations that kill jobs, or Hollywood our families and schools. You will not bring District of Columbia tax and spend to our state. Tell them: You can't have Virginia."
I like the geography verbs. And I guess I prefer low-information fodder to losing. But will anybody ever explain to these people that this is a direct result of campaign finance reform? Real live election buying because we could not let rich people fund candidates' campaigns. At least when The Adams Camp accused Andrew Jackson of polygamy everybody knew where it came from.
The infamous Internet Segue Machine brought this page to my screen today, offering a hand of friendship to Ralph Benko, who asks the GOPs libertarians to "bend a bit." I read it as the author counseling the faithful to keep Truth and law in their separate and proper stations.
Throughout his work, Lewis infused an interconnected worldview that championed objective truth, moral ethics, natural law, literary excellence, reason, science, individual liberty, personal responsibility and virtue, and Christian theism. In so doing, he critiqued naturalism, reductionism, nihilism, positivism, scientism, historicism, collectivism, atheism, statism, coercive egalitarianism, militarism, welfarism, and dehumanization and tyranny of all forms. Unlike ďprogressiveĒ crusaders for predatory government power over the peaceful pursuits of innocent people, Lewis noted that "I do not like the pretensions of Government - the grounds on which it demands my obedience - to be pitched too high. I donít like the medicine-manís magical pretensions nor the Bourbonís Divine Right. This is not solely because I disbelieve in magic and in Bossuetís Politique. I believe in God, but I detest theocracy. For every Government consists of mere men and is, strictly viewed, a makeshift; if it adds to its commands 'Thus saith the Lord,' it lies, and lies dangerously."
Yes, "Lewis" is indeed C.S. Lewis, a thinker and author I had previously dismissed as an overt religionist. It appears the waters of his writing run deeper that that, and I am eager to go for a swim. I have made glacial progress in the winning of hearts and minds with the teachings of Rand. Perhaps I can have more success, in a practical endeavor, quoting Lewis and others who admire him. A good starting place may well be the founder and president of the C.S. Lewis Society of California, David J. Theroux.
American progressives keep promising Denmark, a true socialist workers paradise and the happiest country in the world, and delivering Detroit: now entering the Ninth Circle of Hell. -- Ralph Benko
The pull quote made me laugh but the whole column is well worth a read. Benko calls for a new Fusionism (without using the term) based on the Constitution. He asks the libertarians in the GOP to bend a bit, remember that the Constitution guarantees religious freedom, and get along better with Conservatives who deliver a lot of votes.
It's actually worse that worthless, it's misleading: Conservative isn't always good and liberal always bad.
The National Journal ranks Todd Akin the "most conservative" representative but as br'er JK notes, "he has much to answer for." Far more than just canceling Firefly.
And then we have "most liberal" which, amongst Republicans, is hung by the old guard [thought of something besides "establishment" to use there] around the necks of the so-called libertarians like Justin Amash, Rand Paul, and probably even Ted Cruz. From where I sit being "liberal," as in preferring liberty of individuals from coercion, is a compliment. That's why it irked me when Louisiana's Elbert Guillory said that "liberalism has nearly destroyed the black community, and it's time for the black community to return the favor."
In this otherwise excellent announcement of the Free at Last PAC, which observes that,
"Our communities are just as poor as they have always been. Our schools continue to fail children. Our prisons are filled with young black men who should be at home being fathers."
Guillory also said that "Democrat leadership has failed the black community." This is closer to the mark. I understand that "liberalism" is a modern euphemism for socialist, redistributionist, egalitarian policies but while those labels are, to some, too judgmental or extreme, liberalism is too vague and nebulous. I will suggest to Guillory, and to Free at Last PAC, that instead they name the precise cause - Progressivism. And yes, Democrats.
Her opening speech also seemed a bit canned, as if somebody told her to check a few of the basic conservative boxes and get it over with. (ďMake sure to say Reaganís name a few times, mention the constitution and get the heck out of there!Ē) But I also found a few previous comments she released on immigration, gun control and other important current topics, so itís probably too soon to tell, and she may well be prepping a barrage of good, serious policy speeches to use against Graham in the inevitable debates. In any event, it looks like it will be an interesting primary season in South Carolina, and we definitely need to be recruiting more energetic, young candidates everywhere, so welcome to the race, Ms. Mace.
I'm quite sure blog brother jk linked the George Will piece on Detroit already, but I just got around to reading it today via a still prominent position on the IBD Ed page. It contains an analogy just as apt as Starnesville.
The ichneumon insect inserts an egg in a caterpillar, and the larva hatched from the egg, he said, "gnaws the inside of the caterpillar, and though at last it has devoured almost every part of it except the skin and intestines, carefully all this time avoids injuring the vital organs, as if aware that its own existence depends on that of the insect on which it preys!"
Detroit's union bosses and "auto industry executives, who often were invertebrate mediocrities" were not, however, quite as intelligent as the lowly ichneumonidae. They knawed right through the alimentary canal. Why did the executives go along? Did they not know the lavish compensations were unsustainable? This matters little, for government followed the private-sector lead:
Then city officials gave their employees - who have 47 unions, including one for crossing guards - pay scales comparable to those of autoworkers.
Thus did private-sector decadence drive public-sector dysfunction - government negotiating with government-employees' unions that are government organized as an interest group to lobby itself to do what it wants to do: Grow.
And grow it did, in Detroit and in cities and states as far and wide as union influence stretched.
Detroit, which boomed during World War II when industrial America was "the arsenal of democracy," died of democracy.
Yet democracy lives on, an unnoticed and unindicted threat to the life of all American cities, states, and nation.
I've a few disagreements with George Will. But when he is on, it's a thing of magnificent beauty. (Even when I disagree, it's pretty.) Will calls it like it is today.
This bedraggled city's decay poses no theological conundrum of the sort that troubled Darwin, but it does pose worrisome questions about the viability of democracy in jurisdictions where big government and its unionized employees collaborate in pillaging taxpayers. Self-government has failed in what once was America's fourth-largest city and now is smaller than Charlotte.
At the Republican Governors Association gathering in Aspen, CO this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sounded the alarm against the danger of too many people having too much freedom.
"As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought," Christie said.
Christie's statement was in the context of the narrowly defeated bill that would have reduced funding for NSA collection of Americans' phone records, a subject that Christie dismissed as "esoteric."
Rand Paul tweeted a response:
Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.
But what I really want to know is, where the hell is the libertarian streak that's going through the Democrat party right now?
Many things are divisive and I have little hope of great legislation coming out of the 113th Congress. I'm rooting for the world's crappiest immigration bill: as bad as ObamaCare® for transparency and legislative process -- but this time I think it is a net gain.
Looking for something that could be done, I suggest reforming the CBO and forcing the government to use real live would-not-get-you-thrown-in-Sing-Sing-if-you-were-a-business accounting, or Generally Applied Accounting Practices (GAAP). I am quite tepid on GAAP for business and find many of its recommendations wrong. But compared to this:
Here's the scam: Lawmakers peddle what is a massive subsidy for universities while claiming that student loans generate a windfall for the taxpayer. This phony windfall is conjured by creative accounting that politicians mandated via the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990. Specifically, the law requires a deliberate under-counting of the cost of defaults.
This is partly how a Democratic Congress and President Obama managed to enact ObamaCare in 2010 while claiming that their big entitlement expansion would reduce costs. The health plan was paired with legislation that made the U.S. Department of Education the originator of roughly 90% of all student loans, which in turn generated billions in imaginary budget "savings."
To its credit, the Congressional Budget Office has noted on various occasions that while the law forces it to use this Beltway math, CBO knows it's not accurate under fair-value accounting. And in a new report on the costs of student loans made in the decade ending in 2023, CBO quantifies the size of this discrepancy at $279 billion. CBO adds with its typically wry understatement that Washington's mandated accounting method "does not consider some costs borne by the government."
Not gonna get a flat tax, not gonna get competing currencies, not gonna outlaw the DH. But a bill (amendment?) to force accurate accounting could do as much good long term. It would be hard to pass, as bad accounting serves the spending contingent well. But at least they would have to vote for shady accounting -- wouldn't that would be a kick in the head?
I can't say I agree with everything in Henry Olsen's NR piece, Rand Paul's Party. But:
a) he gets bonus points for opening with a LOTR reference (that's Tolkien's magnum opus, not our basement beer klatch).
b) he pours a little cold water where it needs be poured.
The story then comes to the present day. Look around you, they say. You all know people just like yourselves: educated; hard workers; makers, not takers. They like low taxes and smaller government. But your friends think conservatives are weird. Why? Because they are turned off by the GOP's fondness for foreign military adventure and disagreements on gay marriage. Remove those barriers and -- voilá! -- an instant new voting bloc appears, just as it did for the blue-state GOP governors.
I hear that every day on some level. My libertarianish buddies wonder why we can't throw these old fuddy-duddies into the creek and go out there and win us some elections!
I'll raise his Tolkien reference with a Buffy quote. Like Spike: "I may be Love's bitch, but at least I am man enough to admit it!" I'd love a coherent liberty party that I'd be proud to associate with, that I wouldn't have embarrassing quotes from low level offices or unvetted candidates thrown in my face. That would be really swell.
But we would never win any elections. Yes, my young and sophisticated friends are turned off by the GOPs position on abortion. But if I wave my magic policy wand and make the Republicans pro-choice, do we get their votes? Hell no -- they're voting "free contraception" thank you very much. In the meantime, we chase away a most dedicated voting block who will crawl over broken glass on election day and vote for the guy who fired their brother and stole his car -- if he is the pro-life candidate.
I am ranting but I am in concert with the linked post. Olsen says the imagined power voting block is projected to be libertarians plus what he calls "Post Moderns." His bad news is that the Post Moderns don't love liberty more than eight inches from their genitalia (my words, not his, this is National Review fer cryin' out loud!)
This leaves us where I have been for years. Before Tea Parties and before (the, ahem, pro-life) Rand Paul's emergence as a GOP Rock Star. We are a 10-19% voting block -- quite powerful, but not on our own. We need to find the least distasteful coalition partners that can get us into office.
I remain convincible on the NSA program. It is a fine example of Arnold Kling's Three Languages of Politics [Review Corner]. There is a question of civilization/barbarism: we should use tools to keep Miss Alabama safe. OTOH, there is liberty vs. coercion. I am willing to sign off on the program if someone can credibly convince me that it was 100% non-complicit in outing General Petraeus's affair. Ellen Nakashima shows how metadata ("we're not listening in to your calls...") was used. That, my friends, is troublesome; the defense that "I am not doing anything wrong" is greatly expanded in context and scope. (This guy out in Weld County seems to visit a lot of websites with Indian Rosewood guitar components. Better have the Fish & Game SWAT team on alert...)
Richard Epstein provides the conservative case superbly (Hat-tip: Insty)
I donít always agree with Alan Dershowitz, nor does he always agree with me, but I think that he is right on the money when he laments at The Daily Beast that, with the outcry against the NSA program, we are witnessing a return to a form of paranoia that has too often marred American politics. Dershowitz here is not arguing whether we do or do not need a government program; he is describing the level of trust that we put in government.
In making that observation it is imperative to distinguish between cases. Nothing whatsoever should insulate the NSA from political scrutiny and legislative and judicial intervention. But nothing should allow us to equate the so-called NSA standard with the inexcusable IRS scandal that is rife with partisan politics and worse, precisely because of the utter absence of any institutional protections against partisan abuse.
Many point to the IRS Scandal (to our lefty readers I mean, of course, the "so-called scandal") as a reason to abolish the IRS.
I vote yes. Real tax reform, whether a flat tax or consumption tax, or The Herman Cain's NINE, NINE, NINE provide a transparency that instantly eliminates 90-99% of Shenanigans. But my pragmatic side peers cautiously over the current, exegetic political landscape and sees little hope of victory. President Obama is going to sign something that disarms his devoted army of Lois Lerners? It is a great idea and a superb anecdotal data point, but it remains out of reach.
The real live actual lesson from [that thing that those wacky conservatives continue calling] the IRS scandal is the folly of Campaign Finance Reform. It remains -- irrespective of poll data -- the greatest abridgement of our First Amendment Rights. I'm a 1st Amendment absolutist and accept porn, flag burning and Westburo Knuckleheads as the price of freeing speech from government control.
But, as has been said a hundred times on these pages, the real reason we have a First Amendment is to protect political speech so that self-government can operate in a marketplace of ideas. This is so obvious I would suspect even that five Supreme Court Justices could get it (as they did in Citizen's United v FEC but not in McConnell v FEC).
These organizations exist only because of our Nation's long War on Democracy. Freedom to support any candidate or cause however one chooses obviates them and precludes favoritism in their acceptance or rejection. Everything less is a license from the government to speak -- approved by Lois Lerner.
UPDATE: Nowhere is CFR more pernicious than a local level. Run a recall campaign and do not accept more than $800? Small groups pursuing referenda or small matters are shut down with complexity and fearful consequences of arcane CFR regulations. Therefore, only rich people may have a voice in politics -- not quite the intended consequence. IJ:
Insty links to a short David Bernstein post that anecdotally summarizes every gorram thing that is wrong with this great nation's government. Eulogizing the dear departed nonagenarian Garden State Senator, his friends praised his using "his pull" to secure plane seats and alter train schedules (Ayn Rand, call your office...Ms. Rand, Line One!)
UPDATE: How much more I would have admired Lautenberg if his friends could relate that "we begged him to use his clout as a former Senator to get us back to our families, but Frank was adamant that his friends and acquaintances were no more important than anyone else trying to get back home, and that he wouldn't abuse his status as former senator on our behalf."
Maybe if you add a bit of Jack Daniels to the tea...
The Stones are famously tax-averse. I broach the subject with Keith in Camp X-Ray, as he calls his backstage lair. There is incense in the air and Ronnie Wood drifts in and out--it is, in other words, a perfect venue for such a discussion. "The whole business thing is predicated a lot on the tax laws," says Keith, Marlboro in one hand, vodka and juice in the other. "It's why we rehearse in Canada and not in the U.S. A lot of our astute moves have been basically keeping up with tax laws, where to go, where not to put it. Whether to sit on it or not. We left England because we'd be paying 98 cents on the dollar. We left, and they lost out. No taxes at all." -- From Andy Serwer's "Inside the Rolling Stones Inc." in Fortune magazine, Sept. 30, 2002. Also, today's "Notable & Quotable"
"I think he is the most talented and fearless Republican politician I've seen in the last 30 years."
Carville accurately described the conservative view: "'If we only got someone who was articulate and was for what we were for, we would win elections. And we get these John McCains and these Mitt Romneys and these squishy guys that can't do anything.'" Carville added: "Well, there's one thing this guy is not -- he ain't squishy, not in the least."
"If defending Americans' constitutional liberties and fighting for policies that will spur job growth and economic recovery is [the] Democrats' definition of 'extreme,' it confirms that their convoluted, misguided priorities do not represent the best interests of New Yorkers," a spokeswoman for Cruz, a Princeton and Harvard Law honors graduate and one of just three Hispanics in the Senate, told The Post.
"They [New York Democrats] clearly have bigger problems to deal with than lobbing useless criticisms at a Republican senator coming to town to speak at an event for Republicans," the spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, continued.
UPDATE (05/09 13:25) Dallas Morning News columnist Wayne Slater
As for Perry, heís old news. Public Policy Polling announced this week itís dropping the GOP governor, who barely registers following his bungled White House bid last year, and replacing him with Cruz in future surveys of potential presidential candidates.
1) Every individual is [morally]* entitled to birthright liberty and ownership of his life, including all of his preferences and actions that do not involve initiation of force against others.
2) In every question, refer back to premise number 1.
Erickson's ultimate conclusion is that, "Libertarians will have to decide which they value more - the ability of a single digit percentage of Americans to get married or the first amendment. The two are not compatible." Why?
Once the world decides that real marriage is something other than natural or Godly, those who would point it out must be silenced and, if not, punished. The state must be used to do this. Consequently, the libertarian pipe dream of getting government out of marriage can never ever be possible.
Here he diverges into the other half of a package deal: That everyone be forced to accept a belief that contradicts his own. This is a key tenet of collectivism rather than liberalism. My counsel would be to ignore the latter and instead wage legal and ideological war on the former.
I made a brief attempt to argue this point with Mike Rosen today. There wasn't enough time for him to say more than, "There is no individual right to gay marriage, any more than there is a right to marriage to animals or to more than one other person." And in rebuttal to my suggestion that in accordance with Loving v. Virginia a STATE may not discriminate against individuals (due to race or, by extension, gender) but an individual SHOULD be able to discriminate against ANY individual for ANY reason, he simply said, "That's a weak argument."
UPDATE: * Added the word "morally" to distinguish vis-a-vis "legally." The law still has some distance to travel.
Brother jg suggests a political pendulum below. And I was dismissive. In fairness, I must share a column from Conn Carroll in the Washington Examiner. What the TEA Party Congress accomplished:
But if you look at the hard numbers -- if you look at the tax-and-spending trajectory that the United States was on before the 112th Congress was sworn into office, and then look at the path the U.S. is on now -- you'd see that Republicans in Congress have made tremendous progress in shrinking the size and scope of the federal government.
Otherwise known as Senator Rand Paul's incredibly disappointing 'Life at Conception Act.'
I suggested in a comment on the previous post that Democrats are the most popular at election time, when the possibility that a Republican might be elected exists. The two chief reasons for this are, in my opinion, gay marriage and abortion rights. Here is Ari Armstrong discussing Rand Paul's extremely disappointing position on the latter:
Do Republicans really believe this is a winning political strategy in 21st-century America? If so, we're more likely to see Democrats take back the House in 2014.
But the criticism is not just political, it is also rooted in moral philosophy.
The government properly recognizes each pregnant woman's right to choose whether to seek an abortion or carry her embryo or fetus to term. If the government instead pretended that an embryo is a "person" with full legal rights from the moment of conception, the government would face an immediate and stark contradiction: It would have to outlaw all abortion along with common forms of birth control and fertility treatments, which would clearly violate women's rights to their bodies, their pursuits of happiness, their liberties, their lives. Paul's position is not only logically absurd; it is also patently immoral.
My high school history professor used to tell us that American politics is like a pendulum, which swings back and forth between Democrat and Republican control, and therefore, policies. Something completely unexpected happened last week that made me wonder if that pendulum, long on a leftward swing, had finally reached it's apogee: Senate Democrats passed a repeal of the Obamacare medical device tax.
The Democrat-controlled Senate voted last week to repeal the medical device tax in ObamaCare. They voted decisively to repeal it, with 79 senators including 33 Democrats on board. The House has already voted to repeal it with 270 members on board. That's a veto-proof majority in the Senate and very close to one in the House.
I cynically observed to friends last week that perhaps Obamacare was stuffed with many such bad ideas for the main purpose of giving lawmakers something to do to please campaign contributing lobbyists. As plausible as this sounds though it is probably too Machiavellian. The more likely explanation is that the bill's authors, whomever they may be, overreached, and the public backlash is more than even its champions can face up to.
But what we've seen here is that, when the truth comes to light and there's nowhere to hide, even Senate Democrats will vote to do the right thing - if only because they have no choice. Keep the pressure on. They've gone on record in favor of repealing this horrible tax.
Rich Lowry wonders"Where is Today's Jack Kemp?" I cannot tell a lie, I am a Kemp fan as well. Substantive ideas that are rooted in free market principles that help people: these are more valuable than re-branding.
Kemp did his most important work as a backbencher in the House. Where is his equivalent today? Itís too bad John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy don't tell some promising member to spend the next three months coming up with 10 ideas for promoting work in America, or for a new welfare reform agenda, or for replacing Obamacare, or for making college affordable. Instead, it's all federal debt, all the time.
Colorado Republicans have developed a reputation -- largely earned -- for being the anti-gay, anti-immigration, anti-women party, and then Republicans stand around after getting their asses kicked, election after election, scratching their heads and wondering what happened.
A state that was once friendly to gun rights has now become a hotbed of leftwing political activism that directly challenges citizen rights -- unless that citizen wishes to smoke pot legally.
This scenario only further enrages gun rights activists who view such things as the height of hypocrisy -- touting citizen rights to smoke pot while at the same time attacking citizen rights when it comes to guns.
If you want to read about the "civil war" part you'll have to click through. I'll not be accused of incitement.
It seems this might be a big deal were it done to Democrats. But I suppose "boys will be boys."
RALEIGH A group that sent out a memo with tips on how to attack Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican leaders exercised "bad judgment" that could jeopardize its funding, the director of a foundation that finances the group said Friday.
Describing the control Republicans hold on North Carolina state government, it gave progressives a list of recommendations. Among them:
-- Crippling their leaders (McCrory, Tillis, Berger etc.).
-- Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.
-- Pressure McCrory at every public event.
-- Slam him when he contradicts his promises.
-- Private investigators and investigative reporting, especially in the executive branch...
After the election of President Obama to his first term I thought that his victory was mostly attributable to how much he appealed to America's naive youth. After his re-election I'm blaming it on the transfer payment dependency of the baby boom generation. But after reading the first few pages of Robert Draper's magazine length piece in the New York Times I'm more inclined to direct my ire, still at the baby boomers, but those of my party and not the electorate as a whole.
Draper spent time with a 28 year-old conservative pollster named Kristen Soltis Anderson. She focus grouped 20-something Obama voters with conservative tendencies. Draper summarizes:
Still, to hear her focus-group subjects tell it, the voice of todayís G.O.P. is repellent to young voters. Can that voice, belonging to the partyís most fevered members, still be accommodated even as young Republicans seek to bring their party into the modern era?
This conundrum has been a frequent postelection topic as youthful conservative dissidents huddle in taverns and homes and ó among friends, in the manner of early-20th-century Bolsheviks ó proceed to speak the unspeakable about the ruling elite.
This hit home with me. "Sounds like Liberty on the Rocks" I thought. From here Draper segues to one such group in Midtown Manhattan called Proximus, headed by John Goodwin who said, "This is a long-term play. This isnít going to happen by 2014. But we want to be able to show voters that we have a diversity of opinion. Right now, Republicans have such a small number of vocal messengers. What we want to do is add more microphones and eventually drown out the others." John Goodwin's name is probably not as familiar as that of his fiancee, S.E. Cupp, who added, "If I were training a candidate whoís against gay marriage Iíd say: 'Donít change your beliefs, just say legislatively this is not a priority, and Iím not going to take away someoneís right. And if abortion or gay marriage is your No. 1 issue, Iím not your guy."
This sounds just fine to me, but to the long-time Republicans who are my senior - the "baby-boom GOP" - they're most likely to say of her candidate what one said to me last year: "Well they're wrong!" [2nd comment]
On the heels of today's Pragmatic Republican Politics post I'll excerpt from the latest challenge to GOP orthodoxy, this time from Clifford Asness in The American: The GOP Must Lead (Again) on Civil Rights Clifford makes a well reasoned argument in support of three reform initiatives for the GOP - immigration, education and the failed war on drugs, then concludes:
And then, again, thereís the politics. Political stances should always follow truth not expediency. I do not recommend these things for political advantage. But, when embracing liberty and helping the disadvantaged and the economy happens to be great politics, I say make the most of it! Individually these policies make sense, but together they are more than the sum of their parts. Together they show our partyís avowed belief in equality of opportunity, not outcome, to be part of our true quest for justice and prosperity, not a rhetorical device attempting to preserve unearned privilege.
Took Libertario Delenda Est out for a spin last night at Liberty on the Rocks.
I enjoyed a spirited conversation with Matthew Hess, who is running for Governor and made a passionate case that "guys like me" need to support the LP. I gave him the elevator-talk version of libertario delenda est and he parried politely and rationally.
The speaker was Mark Baisley, who is running for Republican State Party Chairman. He outlined his vision for the infrastructure he believes to be required for the GOP to win in this state. It was a more Republican and a more partisan talk than normal, and he fielded questions from some of the more Libertarian attendees.
But he opened his talk with victories. In Douglas County, the red-blue split is the inverse of Boulder County, and they have chased out the Teachers' Union and instituted a full voucher program that is wending its way through the courts.
So, while yes, the LP is right to cry foul at Republicans with errant principles or lacking strength to follow their better ones, it strikes me that the LP has no victory list (well, except for spoiling the Montana Senate election and sending Jon Tester to be the 60th vote for ObamaCare).
Baisley told the libs to keep their passion but to be delegates in the GOP to keep the party honest.
It seems to me that most of us Three Sourcers had a pretty good idea that the election of Mitt Romney was not going to "solve" America's problems. We didn't talk about it much, explicitly, but deep in our hearts I think this extraordinarily bright collection of humans knew that this is the way things really are.
He gives it the catchy title "The Dark Enlightnement" but I might just call it reality. If you have a few minutes, read the piece and let us discuss our next move. I don't think mine will be to research whether Rubio, Ryan or Jindahl is the best choice for 2016...
I'm going to say it, chaps (and chapelles): we lost. Et tu, jk? Scoot over Saxby, make some room Billy.
While I think it is morally, philosophically, economically, and aesthetically wrong to raise tax rates on producers and remain 100% against it, that winning message did not take back the Senate nor change the occupants at 1600 Pennsylvania. No, it was not that clear and not half that rational, but underlying the nonsense, limited government did not win.
Many important fights lay ahead on ObamaCare, implementation of Dodd-Frank, SCOTUS picks &c. Obstruction will be important for four years. Let's not die on this hill. Let the Bush rates expire for the top 2%.
The economic harm of another temporary solution or a default will be much worse than a bump in tax rates. Clever folk will quickly find their way around them. And the regime will own the economy as it were.
UPDATE: Bill Wilson emails: Stop the Republican sellout on taxes. Guess I have not convinced everybody yet...
Ralph Reed sez we must embrace the Pro-life cause which will gain minority adherents.
There seems continued movement toward more liberal immigration (Amnesty!)
Rep Ron Paul's followers know we'd win landslides with a Gold Standard.
The truth is that we need to withdraw the concession to "Damonomics" which states that greedy bankers, enabled by the famous Bush deregulation (stop laughing!!! this cost us the election!!) looted the system. And there was predatory lending! And the Republicans want to resuscitate those policies that the Brave Sir Obama and Wise Sir Biden hath smote. Or something like that.
Those assertions are ludicrous. Yet they went un-rebutted and allowed a president with a rotten economic record to win reelection against fear of something worse. Two stories down from Reed's guest ed, the WSJ Editorial Board reports that for all the suspected criminality, there are no successful prosecutions in the panic of '08
A persistent media-liberal lament--make that a cliché--is that too few financiers have been prosecuted for the financial crisis. But maybe that's because when the Obama Administration tries to prosecute a specific individual for a specific crime, it turns out there was no crime.
The government's latest embarrassments came this month, as one high-profile case collapsed and another was downsized by a federal judge.
Like Client #9 NYAG Eliot Spitzer, the charges get a lot of press, the settlements appear to be big news. But no due-process, right to trial, presumption-of-innocence cases ever end up in the prosecutor's W column. Where was all this crime?
The Federal Reserve created negative real interest rates and a net subsidy for credit expansion. Washington programs to encourage every American to own a home ensured that the bubble would be concentrated in residential real estate. Government-approved credit-raters, convinced that the U.S. housing market would never suffer a sharp decline, slapped triple-A ratings on bundles of risky mortgages. Federal rules encouraged banks, money-market funds, stock brokerages and other institutions to buy this junk.
The zeal to prosecute bankers is part of the politically convenient narrative that the financial crisis was all created on Wall Street. Bankers were greedy as ever and their risk management was faulty. But the fact that Washington can't find a real criminal should focus public attention back on the real crime. That was Beltway policy.
President Bush tried to rein in Fannie & Freddie, Chairman Frank went all in to defend them. Yet, by their concessions, Republican policies "own" the crisis.
By all means, we can debate abortion and immigration (though brother Keith points out the infield fly rule to be sacrosanct). But without standing up for economic freedom, I don't think it will make a great difference.
Okay, it's my favorite topic and even I am getting sick of the "what Republicans need to do now" articles.
But I'll make an exception for this one: Republicans must learn to speak 'Jack Kemp' again by John Nolte. He suggests that Democrats learned how to rhetorically address their political soft spots of "Patriotism, support for the troops, and antagonizing the Christian faith. To solve this problem, Democrats not only learned how to stop marginalizing themselves on these issues, they completely changed their language in a way that embraced all three."
It's not about abdicating or abandoning beliefs, but choosing the presentation and preparing for delivery.
As far as religion and Marco Rubio's struggle with being asked the age of Earth, I've been a devout Christian for almost thirty years and have never found my faith in conflict with science or history. If anything, the more I learn about science and history only deepens my faith. This is why it's so frustrating to hear a bright guy like Rubio blow such an easy one. The problem isn't talent or smarts, it's training.
Before every baseball game, a good shortstop is the first one out on the field warming up and practicing. This is why he's a good shortstop; he never falls for his own press or forgets that hard work, drills, training, and the basics are what got him to where he is. And that's our problem. Our side forgets to drill, doesn't train, and suddenly we're losing games because we drop pop ups.
I'm pretty sure that my post "Straight Outta Rand" was not quite in line with the Three Sources style book; I am not even sure how many of the brethern and sistern had any idea of the parody's original reference.
In winning re-election, President Obama carried nearly all the same demographic groups as in 2008, but by smaller margins. The major exception: Hispanics, America's fastest-growing bloc. Having given Mr. Obama 67% of their votes in 2008, they gave him 71% this time.
This has alarmed Republicans. Mr. Obama had offered Hispanics little more than a broken promise to reform immigration in his first term, yet he scored the largest victory among them since Gerald Ford visited Texas in 1976 and tried to eat a tamale without removing its husk. -- Leslie Sanchez
George Will, of all people, has an uplifting après le delugecolumn.
His crack research staff fails to credit Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields on "Swing Time," but it's a good look at the path forward in a post Citizen's United world.
With much work -- the most painful sort: thinking -- to be done, conservatives should squander no energy on recriminations. Romney ran a gallant campaign. Imitation is the sincerest form of politics, and Republicans should emulate Democrats' tactics for locating and energizing their voters.
Liberals have an inherent but not insuperable advantage: As enthusiasts of government, to which many of them are related as employees or clients, they are more motivated for political activity than are conservatives, who prefer private spaces. Never mind. Conservatives have a commensurate advantage: Americans still find congenial conservatism's vocabulary of skepticism about statism. And events -- ongoing economic anemia; the regulatory state's metabolic urge to bully -- will deepen this vocabulary's resonance.
Have you read the Book of Isiah lately? As we head into tomorrow and the Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes, I recall what the great Albert Jay Nock had to say in The Atlantic Monthly back in 1936:
It was one of those prosperous reigns, however ó like the reign of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, or the administration of Eubulus at Athens, or of Mr. Coolidge at Washington ó where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash. (...)
"Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life." (...)
Why, if all that were so ó if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start ó was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it." (...)
As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, laboring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.
One may, if one has actually had a semblance of an education, recall that the Founders made sure the masses would not have a real voice in how the United States was to be run. As in every Republic in history, this gradually broke down. 1913, 1933, 1965...each step in the process seemed right at the time. There were good reasons; all the best professors at America's finest universities taught them.
And so we have come to this pass. Tomorrow, I expect that the masses will reelect the President and accelerate the time whent he Remant must again rebuild a failing society. Take a deep breath, Three Sourcers. We are a piece of the Remnant and better put on our armor and sharpen our swords, for truly the Scheiss is coming.
A narrative has developed over the past several years that the Republican Party is anti-science. Recently, thanks to the ignorant remarks about rape made by Rep. Todd Akin, the Democrats have seized the opportunity to remind us that they are the true champions of science in America. But is it really true?
No. As we thoroughly detail in our new book, "Science Left Behind," Democrats are willing to throw science under the bus for any number of pet ideological causes Ė including anything from genetic modification to vaccines.
Indeed, the only reason Democrats are considered the ďpro-scienceĒ party is because the media, for whatever reason, has decided to give them a free pass on scientific issues. It is time the free pass be revoked.
You may say, I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one.
I've learned a few things at Liberty on the Rocks, and I have shared some of those keen insights on these pages.
But the biggest thing I have learned is the valor of a losing candidacy. I have met several great and bright people who are running for RTD board, or a State House seat. Some of them are quite confident and might have good reason. But some of them know they don't have a chance in Boulder. These seats typically show up on Boulder County ballots with only a Democrat.
I have befriended a brilliant disciple of Popper and Bastiat who is running a quixotic campaign he knows he won't win. He eloquently told my (biological) brother about the value of his campaign and his opportunity to promote his ideas. When I first started attending, I considered these hopeless cases a waste of money. But I have seen the light. This is a great way to get our ideas out.
I don't quite enjoy Mitt's balance in my Cayman Islands account (mine is in Phoenix, actually -- but both locales are hot!) but I am lifting the credible victory requirement. I actually think Mia Love has a shot in Utah, and I was proud to join The Love Bomb.
Today, I throw a bit at some hopeless cases, but carriers of great ideas:
Worse, he suggested that JFK wouldn't recognize his party. Voight said that the Democrats have turned upside down Kennedy's famous line, "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
Obama, he charged, "is saying, 'Ask what your country can do for you. Your government will give you everything. We'll take care of you."
Forget margin of error, sample sizes, sampling rates and other arcane statistical factors. The most telling poll had a sample size of one: President Obama in a recent AP interview. In the interview, the preznit said that he would be willing to compromise on a whole range of issues, including some that would anger his own party. Yes, compromise from the guy who in 2009 told John McCain, "John, there was an election. I won," when negotiating the stimulus. And the same guy who invited Paul Ryan to a speech about entitlements in order to belittle him. And the same guy who unilaterally did an end-run around Congress about welfare reform, immigration status, education waivers and Obamacare waivers.
The Refugee cannot imagine that Obama would offer to negotiate if he thought he was cruising to victory. No doubt The Refugee is making too much of this, but it reminds him of Saddam Hussein's words when pulled from a spider hole with eight Marines point rifles at his head: "I am Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq. I am willing to negotiate." A dictatorial leader does not negotiate unless his very existence is in question.
Congressman Ryan has been giving numerous interviews with his childhood high school in the background where he "ran track and played soccer." if you examine the scoreboard in the background, you'll note that the time reads 20:12 and indicates that the game in the 2nd half. Now that's someone paying attention to details. Clever.
Elizabeth Warren has a new campaign commercial in her effort to take back "Ted Kennedy's seat" in the US Senate. In it she looks at the camera and says,
"Weíve got bridges and roads in need of repair and thousands of people in need of work. Why arenít we rebuilding America? Our competitors are putting people to work, building a future. China invests 9 percent of its GDP in infrastructure. America? Weíre at just 2.4 percent. We can do better."
I cannot continue without first asking, "What do you mean 'we' kemosabe?" But there's more to this story than pointing out the difference between a (partially) free state and a communist dictatorship, as the Boston Herald does very well, and than reminding Ms. Warren that the lion's share of infrastructure "investment" in the U.S. is made privately and thus won't show up in her government spending statistic.
Warren wants to compare America to China on spending? Then let's compare them on taxation as well: According to data from the Heritage Foundation that I blogged last month, China's tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is 17 percent. America's is almost ten points higher - 26.9%.
Let's make America more competitive with China. Let's return 9.9 percent of the nation's GDP to those who earned it so that it can once again be invested in prosperity. (And who would ever have believed that America's tax receipts could grow to become a greater share of the economy than that of communist China in the first place?)
There's an interesting candidate for US Senate in the state of Tennessee this cycle. Mark Clayton:
The Clayton campaign's Facebook page champions three major positions: strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution, family stances that are pro-life, and keeping the country from turning into "AN ORWELLIAN SUPER STATE."
Yet this is not a "TEA Party candidate" proffered by Jim DeMint or Sarah Palin or some small government super PAC trying to take over the GOP. Clayton defeated six others in his state's Democrat primary. Personally I see this as the revenge of the Southern Democrats, but Tennessee's Democratic Party credits another factor for Clayton's success:
"Many Democrats in Tennessee knew nothing about any of the candidates in the race, so they voted for the person at the top of the ticket. Unfortunately, none of the other Democratic candidates were able to run the race needed to gain statewide visibility or support."
"Unfortunately?" The state Democratic party is somehow displeased with the candidate their registered voters selected? Yes, so much so that they have disavowed him as their candidate to oppose Republican Senator Bob Corker.
"Mark Clayton is associated with a known hate group in Washington, D.C., and the Tennessee Democratic Party disavows his candidacy, will not do anything to promote or support him in any way, and urges Democrats to write-in a candidate of their choice in November."
Yet it seems that the Tennessee Democrat "candidate of choice" is Mark Clayton! Who is "out of touch" now? After all, this is the Demo-cratic party.
A Tweet from Doug Giles alerted me to this story posted yesterday at a blog called Freedom Outpost. It includes the original text of a written notice from Google Shopping (Mountain View, CA) to weaponís parts and accessories vendor Hamlund Tactical.
We do not allow the promotion or sale of weapons and any related products such as ammunitions or accessory kits on Google Shopping. In order to comply with our new policies, please remove any weapon-related products from your data feed and then re-submit your feed in the Merchant Center.
So glad I'm already practicing a "boycott Google" policy. For those inclined to join me, just say no to:
I see the appeal of government. There ain't nothing better than spending somebody else's money. I love the vicarious thrill of guitar shopping with others. My bank balance remains, yet the endorphins are released.
I promised my productive, taxpaying ThreeSourcers that I would spend half the first year savings on my subsidized ReFi electing those who would not support such nonsense.
Without too fine a point, I feel I have committed to $1250. I've been through about $350 in the primaries and local races. I won't commit to doing the will of ThreeSourcers, but I'd love ideas and may well accept crowdsourced decision: where do you spend $900 to promote liberty?
I have met several local candidates through Liberty on the Rocks. And one might mike a life changing donation to a disciple of Bastiat and Karl Popper for an amount that drops in the ocean of a national campaign. The Senate is important and my pal John Cornyn (R$ - TX) makes a good case. Helping Gov. Romney out-raise the President (Money Panic?) seems worthy. I concluded in 2010 that Club for Growth or AFP, or another issue PAC was the way to go. The NRA is preparing to go after AG Holder in a big way.
I applauded last night's superb "Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons" gathering. Bradley Beck, spoke on "the importance of effective communication within the liberty movement." A recurring theme -- if not his directly -- was the other folks' competence at distilling ideas and appealing to the heart. I have certainly complained several times that I need to trot out 100 year old economics books while my Facebook friends can just show a picture of a poor child.
I will not let go of this smug superiority lightly, bit I must confess one absolute truth. Videlicet, that all of my leftist friends feel exactly the same. Oh those clever right wingers use all their Koch money and hire evil geniuses and package child molestation as a public good! Why oh why can't we have some brilliant people on our side?
Case in point is a link sent by a great friend of this blog. I noticed that Ann Althouse referred to the same article, but sugarch -- I mean our anonymous friend -- was first. It is painful, but I suggest you read it coast to coast.
In conservative politics, democracy is seen as providing the maximal liberty to seek one's self-interest without being responsible for the interests of others. The best people are those who are disciplined enough to be successful. Lack of success implies lack of discipline and character, which means you deserve your poverty. From this perspective, The Public is immoral, taking away incentives for greater discipline and personal success, and even standing in the way of maximizing private success. The truth that The Private depends upon The Public is hidden from this perspective. The Public is to be minimized or eliminated. To conservatives, it's a moral issue.
-- And there are far less appealing sections.
But the topic is how to appeal to these people or those they have influenced, and just saying "that is complete and total b******t!" is not going to work. George Lakoff is the West Coast' s answer to Noam Chomsky and I confess I don't know Elisabeth Wehling. They and their passionate followers are clearly beyond reach. But this is on HuffPo and will be passed around (no doubt I'll see on Facebook any minute now).
Now, I get just as emotional during elections and don't mean to belittle this disappointed Wisconsinite. Just to enjoy it. Three times at most. Maybe four.
He went me one better. He called in to a Conservative talk radio show, introduced himself "the crying man" and attempted to engage the host. The host (man I just don't get talk radio) treated him very poorly.
Today he is again trying to reach Conservative talk radio listeners. And he is again facing ridicule.
I am passionate about the things I believe and I seek opportunities to engage with those who don't see things my way. Crying Man, I disagree with about everything I have heard you say, but if you want to talk on ThreeSources we will give you a fair hearing.
I like a good gloat as much as the next guy. And I am satisfied beyond measure at the results of the failed recall in the Badger State. And I have considered Wisconsin as part of my GOP electoral map even before Tuesday. BUT!
Suggestions that the +13% Obama margin now constitutes a gimme are a bit overblown. Wisconsin will be in play, forcing the Obama campaign to spend resources there, and it might be turned red. Yet it is not presaged by Walker's survival and I hear some of my favorite right wing pundits being overly effusive.
Russ Douthat, however, places it in a proper perspective -- and one that will not offend ThreeSourcers.
Yesterday's recall vote is not necessarily a bellwether for the general election, not necessarily a sign that Mitt Romney can win a slew of purple states, not necessarily proof that the country is ready to throw in with Walker's fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan on issues of spending and taxation.
But neither is it anything like good news for liberalism. We are entering a political era that will feature many contests like the war over collective bargaining in Wisconsin: grinding struggles in which sweeping legislation is passed by party-line votes and then the politicians responsible hunker down and try to survive the backlash. There will be no total victory in this era, but there will be gains and losses -- and the outcome in the Walker recall is a warning to Democrats that their position may be weaker than many optimistic liberals thought.
Douthat sees (and credits Jay Cost) an end to the moderate go-along-to-get-along politics that gave us a profligate George W. Bush and tax cutting William J. Clinton. The new era will be more philosophical but far more contentious because the easy, bipartisan stuff is no longer on the menu.
I'm paraphrasing poorly and strongly recommend he whole piece.
1) Is this the stupidest thing ever?
Only two Presidential candidates opted for Federal funds: Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson.
Roemer, 68, received $285,479 from U.S. taxpayers. "We assumed no debt and we end this campaign with money in the bank," he said in a statement. "We ran like we intended to serve."
If I had checked a "Yes, I'd like to give $3 to a candidate I don't give a crap for" box on my 1040, I'd suggest that was "our money" in Roemers's bank.
2) Did you say Governor Gary Johnson?
That's right -- this year's brave principled, libertarian LP candidate (Bob Barr is working at Walmart now, and could not get time off) took $100,000 in Federal campaign jack? That is just wrong.
Johnson recently received a $100,000 installment after applying for $146,603 in matching funds, according to the Federal Election Commission.
I don't know whether to be happy or sad -- my favorite Democrat, Rep. Arthur Davis (D [Ret.] - AL [Ret.]) is becoming a Republican:
While I've gone to great lengths to keep this website a forum for ideas, and not a personal forum, I should say something about the various stories regarding my political future in Virginia, the state that has been my primary home since late December 2010. The short of it is this: I donít know and am nowhere near deciding. If I were to run, it would be as a Republican. And I am in the process of changing my voter registration from Alabama to Virginia, a development which likely does represent a closing of one chapter and perhaps the opening of another.
As to the horse-race question that animated parts of the blogosphere, it is true that people whose judgment I value have asked me to weigh the prospect of running in one of the Northern Virginia congressional districts in 2014 or 2016, or alternatively, for a seat in the Virginia legislature in 2015. If that sounds imprecise, itís a function of how uncertain political opportunities can be--and if that sounds expedient, never lose sight of the fact that politics is not wishfulness, itís the execution of a long, draining process to win votes and help and relationships while your adversaries are working just as hard to tear down the ground you build.
The whole thing is superb -- and not much longer than my excerpt. But I can't stop:
On the specifics, I have regularly criticized an agenda that would punish businesses and job creators with more taxes just as they are trying to thrive again. I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured: frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country. You have also seen me write that faith institutions should not be compelled to violate their teachings because faith is a freedom, too. You've read that in my view, the law can't continue to favor one race over another in offering hard-earned slots in colleges: America has changed, and we are now diverse enough that we don't need to accommodate a racial spoils system. And you know from these pages that I still think the way we have gone about mending the flaws in our healthcare system is the wrong way--it goes further than we need and costs more than we can bear.
I've heard this both ways since the big Obama-lead union takeover of GM and Chrysler - Ford survived the big recession without a bailout, and Ford received government loans that haven't been repaid. The first point of view seems most popular, as repeated in dear dagny's 'Article of the day' today.
Ford was the only U.S. automaker to save itself without the help of a government lifeline in 2008. As Dan points out in the accompanying video, the story of Ford is perhaps the only successful non-bankruptcy restructuring seen in the U.S. over the last thirty or forty years.
Okay, I give the Mulally team serious props for turning around a huge corporation that was near junk bond status in 2006. The greatest single factor, in my opinion, was the removal of Bill Ford as CEO but that's a separate story. But even if they didn't take federal aid in 2008 their claims of bailout purity are tarnished somewhat by their DOE loans.
If DOE-guaranteed loans aren't repaid, taxpayers foot the bill, but that's not the only downside of federal-government financing of private businesses, as I've written about previously. Companies that don't tow the Administration line, that don't employ favored constituent groups, or are headed by outspoken CEOs (like Steve Wynn) would probably have their loan applications treated differently than was Ford's. And as economist John Tamny writes in his most recent column, "once an institution is the recipient of government largesse" it must serve its "political masters" who will seek "payback in the form of coerced business activity that has nothing to do with profit."
Is editorialist Michael Taube "dreaming in Technicolor?" That's how he describes people who believe Jane Fonda will give a favorable treatment of Nancy Reagan, whom she portrays in her upcoming film. But Taube may be guilty of the same thing in believing that a conservative movie studio could be a commercial success.
Third, actors and actresses would need to get on board. Many Hollywood conservatives and libertarians would initially be frightened to make a leap of faith and join this new studio. But all you need is a small handful of recognizable silver screen veterans, and a decent amount of emerging talent, and a good cast can be created.
There's a risk involved, but the reward could be immense. Meanwhile, if the studio was able to encourage some friendly Hollywood liberals and centrists to sign up (and there's no reason why this can't happen), the task of hiring talent would become much simpler.
The partisan vitriol of the left already borders on a lynchmob in the non-fiction media world. To expect anything less than hatred and blacklisting in the fictional media seems quite naive. Too pessimistic?
While recently attending a county assembly, I found myself in a discussion with a fellow attendee regarding the political views of mainstream libertarian leaning Republicans. While this person agreed with the majority of these views, he argued that the country does not turn on a dime, and that it can take years, if not decades, for any large ideological shift to take place in American politics.
He is exactly right!
During my studies of the American Presidency at the University of Colorado, I had the absolute pleasure of reading a book called "The Politics Presidents Make" by Stephen Skowronek. The central themes of the book are first, to develop a categorical framework in which to analyze the politics of the presidency and the second is to introduce the concept of 'political time' in which to place these categories. Skowronek classifies presidents having one of the four political traits:
1) Politics of Reconstruction - (Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln)
2) Politics of Articulation - (Monroe, Polk, T. Roosevelt)
3) Politics of Disjunction - (J. Q. Adams, Pierce, Hoover)
4) Politics of Preemption - (Eisenhower, Clinton, Nixon)
From these categories, he is able to build a model for expected presidential power and influence depending on where the president falls in political time. Political time being defined as the cyclical order of these four categories.
Notice that the Politics of Preemption are not part of the cycle. These types of presidents represent abnormalities in political time. They are able to remain true to their ideology however, the opposing political views are still alive and well. They do not have the power of a 'Great Repudiator' nor are they weak. Like the 'Great Repudiators', they attempt to transform the constitutional definition of presidential political power, but are unable to do so due to the resiliency of the opposition.
The Politics of Reconstruction
American politics are cyclical in nature. Since the revolution of 1800, there have been presidents that have shaped the political landscape long after they left office.
With the exception of McKinley, each one of these presidents presided over a major shift in the American politics. McKinley represents an odd case for two reasons; first, because instead of a shift in a new direction in 1896, the Republicans gained even more power and continued to be the dominant political party until the end of Hoover's term in 1932, and second, because out of the other presidents listed above, he is relatively unknown and is usually not considered one of the "greats". If we were to look only at their time in office, instead of the years leading up to their presidency, we would miss the slow moving ideological shift taking place that created the environment necessary for their success.
Each of the presidents listed above gained power and popularity by repudiating the failed politics of their ideologically opposed predecessors. The political climate required to do so requires a consensus against the established political paradigm, which can take years to create.
Consider the time between Jackson's repudiation of the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans (1828), and Lincoln's repudiation of the Jacksonian Democrats (1860). This time period witnessed both the rise and eventual collapse of the second party system.
Consider the time between F. Roosevelt's repudiation of the Republicans (1932), and Reagan's repudiation of the Democrats (1980). This time period witnessed both the rise and eventual collapse of the New Deal Party System.
In both cases, it took several decades for the dominant ideology to fall out of popularity as its ability to deal with an ever changing political climate was diminished. It also illustrates the similarities in leadership qualities between these presidents despite the wide ideological and chronological difference in their presidencies.
The Politics of Disjunction
The presidents who are unlucky enough to find themselves in the 'politics of disjunction' phase of political time are typically regarded as being failures. They have the impossible task of both dealing with modern day problems, while at the same time trying to be true to an ideology that no longer has the answers to these aforementioned issues.
With the exception of Pierce, each of these presidents directly preceded one of the "greats". It is also not a coincidence that each of them witnessed the waning of their ideology while in office, and because of this, were unable to accomplish much of anything to restore confidence in the party they represented. They deserve attention however, because they are, at the very least, partially responsible for creating the 'great repudiators' that follow them.
This brings me to the point of this post and the conversation that inspired it. American politics have been dominated by statist ideology for the better part of the past seventy years. With the exception of arguably the Goldwater movement in the 1960's, the Reagan revolution of the 1980's, and the most recent liberty movements of the past two years, our political leaders have exhibited a cross between the 'politics of disjunction' and the 'politics of preemption' in an attempt to further justify the failed idea of conservative or liberal socialism.
The movement we now see taking hold in American politics does not represent a movement four years in the making, or even thirty years in the making. It represents the waning of failed statist policies and at the same time illustrates the inability of central planning and big government to deal with modern day problems.
When looked at through the lens of political time, it is not that far fetched to think that a true liberty candidate could be on the horizon. A candidate who, like the 'great repudiators' before him, repudiates the failed statist programs of both parties and returns American to its founding principals of life, liberty, and property.
At Last, a GOP Candidate addresses our Real Problem!
I did say that Senator Santorum was better than Governor Huckabee. I'll stick with that, but he is closing the gap:
The Daily Caller flags a little-discussed position paper on Rick Santorum's campaign website--his pledge to aggressively prosecute those who produce and distribute pornography. Santorum avers that "America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography." He pledges to use the resources of the Department of Justice to fight that "pandemic," by bringing obscenity prosecutions against pornographers.
Nor will there be any of that hiding behind the First Amendment crap -- we've got families to protect!
I was thinking this the other day. Before (the insanely successful) welfare reform, the big worry about government spending was people like Ms. Clayton:
Amanda Clayton, the 24-year old Lincoln Park resident who won $1 million in the state lottery but continued to use $200 a month in food stamps, has had her benefits revoked by the Michigan Department of Human Services.
According to Michigan DHS, those receiving food benefits must notify the state of a change in income or assets within 10 days.
Hat-tip: @jtLOL (Jim Treacher) who asks "Why is this woman being denied her rights? Paging @SandraFluke"
With a respectful, heh -- this shows a serious shift in thinking that plays into the Tea Party movement. Politicians used to pledge great efforts to remove "Waste, Fraud, and Abuse (WFA)." Vice President Gore's "Good Government" and a staple on the stump up to and including Speaker Gingrich's "Six Sigma."
But it is all hooey. Sure, I'd like to see government spend better. But there is going to be WFA in an organization the size of the Federal Government. At some point, methods to prevent it cost more than they save. Michigan is passing a law to cross-reference lottery winners and welfare rolls. I suspect they'll hire five bureaucrats at 90-120K a year and maybe find three they can kick off to save 50K each -- but I'm mister negative.
The big problem is that it affords VP Gore and Speaker Gingrich the opportunity to talk tough on spending. Nobody likes WFA! Yeah, I'm on your side America! Yet they never have to tell a mohair farmer that WWI is over and they may have to do without subsidies. Or that corn farmers will have to live with only food subsidies and fierce protectionism -- no more ethanol.
I miss welfare queens. It was a simpler problem for a simpler time. Now they are noise on a chart of leviathan entitlements.
That intrepid AP has discovered an astonishing fact that seems to reflect poorly on Republicans.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- An unmistakable dynamic is playing out in the money game among Republican presidential candidates: New "super" political action committees are growing more powerful than the campaigns they support.
Just to make sure we're all on the same page, AP/Yahoo: you suggest that unregulated, unlimited, anonymous organizations are collecting and spending more money than campaigns, which are limited to small amounts and have onerous disclosure rules?
The non-binding Presidential Preference Poll is getting all the Publicity but for my money, the most important way for individual caucus-goers to be influential in party politics is to help shape what the party stands for. A significant part of this is the party platform. We're familiar with this at its completed stage but it has its origins at the most basic level of self-governance: the individual party member.
The process begins with individual "resolutions" being submitted tonight at each neighborhood precinct caucus meeting. Each and every resolution is accepted and, after a process of aggregation and distillation, voted upon at each county's party convention. Approved resolutions are advanced to the state convention, re-aggregated and re-voted, with the approved resolutions going on to the national convention for their final votes.
If one of your aims in "getting involved" is to help shape the values and positions of the party then this is your most urgent action item: Draw up the ideas that are important to you and hand them to your precinct captain tonight. If your idea is clear and compelling and popular with your fellow party members it could make its way to the national convention and help guide the thinking of current and future office holders. (I'll promise you more influence than possible from your single vote on election day. How much more I shall not promise.)
The formulation is usually, "The _________ county Republican Party resolves (or supports, affirms, opposes, etc.) ...
The one major accomplishment of Barack Obama has been to bring a sudden and abrupt end the people's ability to tolerate this tacitly understood game between the two major Parties.
All the other challengers were easily eliminated or made irrelevant, as they did not have the money or experience of knowing how the game is played, but Newt refused to just slink away. Never has the Republican Establishment trained its guns on any one candidate in such an unbridled and unrestrained way.
Perhaps Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Ron Paul are not the right candidates to face Barack Obama, but that decision should be up to the voters. While it maybe the role of the conservative pundit class to proffer their opinions of the various candidates, it is not the role of the overall Establishment to so marginalize candidates that there appears to be only one viable alternative.
The Establishment could not have made a more strategic blunder. They will, in all likelihood, succeed in securing the nomination for Mitt Romney, but the damage they have inflicted upon themselves is approaching irreversible. The public now sees the length to which the Establishment will go to make certain their hand-picked candidate is chosen regardless of the dire circumstances facing the nation.
Before his account was hacked, brother jg had convinced me to reevaluate my perception of Governor Sarah Palin. I suggested that her populist appeal was swell but that she lacked intellectual heft.
My appraisal is extremely complicated. I still feel that picking her was the best thing Candidate McCain did in 2008. I feel she was undeservedly savaged by the media with zero support from the McCain team. I think the lefty "Palin Derangement Syndrome" is laughable. And I like her. The lovely bride and I watched her Alaska series, and I have followed her political moves with interest.
All this can be true and it does not mean that I wish to see a Palin candidacy (although this year, I've been looking at some three-legged, diabetic dogs...). Nor does it mean that I am comfortable with her having an oversized voice in GOP politics.
Tonight, she is guest on Stossel (Fox Business Network) and I will recalibrate all measurements to zero and start again.
After watching a large part of this David Stockman interview with Bill Moyers I'm about ready to adopt the dirty hippies #Occupy meme. When they villified "Wall Street" and "Greedy Corporations" I always had a mental image of Fidelity Investments and WalMart. But if I replace that with Goldman Sachs and General Electric I think we would agree on more than we differ.
This also magnifies my distrust of the GOP establishment and, by association, the Romney candidacy.
How can it be that hard working people in the $500,000 - $1 Million income category, like Warren Buffet's CFO, are paying 0.8% more than those earning over a million? When will this outrage be repaired?
Brother jg beat me to the punch on the NY-9 special election. A 20 point 9-point [mea culpa!] GOP win in Sen. Chuck Schumer's old district is a victory to savor.
And yet, Professor William Jacobsen (via Insty) brings what is likely even better news for lovers of liberty. In the long run, it is more significant that many full time Democratic operatives lost their publicly funded jobs in Wisconsin:
Last month [Wisconsin Education Association Council] (WEAC) announced that it was laying off 40% of its staff. With little over which to collectively bargain, and with dues no longer withheld from paychecks, the need for and sustainability of a union bureaucracy could not be justified.
Now WEAC is being boycotted by National Staff Organization (NSO), a union representing educational union employees.
Isn't that great, education union employees have their own union? Is there a union for employees of education union employee unions?
Elections and candidates come and go, but the criminal cycle of public unions donating to statist candidates lasts what I thought to be forever.
If they both reify in 2012, a large GOP majority could cripple this vicious circle by forcing members to choose whether to pay dues. Freedom is always a game changer.
The United Federation of Teachers, Bill Clinton, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer recorded robocalls for Mr. Weprin. According to Politico, about a thousand Democratic volunteers walked door to door yesterday highlighting the candidate's endorsement by the New York Times. Mr. Weprin also visited several senior centers to warn that Mr. Turner wanted to kill Social Security and Medicare. But even a robust Democratic get-out-the-vote operation couldn't mitigate voters' dissatisfaction. Recent polls showed that frustration with President Obama and the economic recovery had turned voters--including a third of Democrats--against Mr. Weprin.
It seems the two instances of good news might be related.
The true fear is that Governor Perry and Norah O'Donnell are both right.
Yes, Rick, Social Security is something of a Ponzi scheme (many libertarian sites point out that with State coercion, it is much worse). And, yes, Norah, that might make him "unelectable." We don't cotton, as a nation, to our candidates telling the truth. A superb episode of Buffy called "Lie to Me" sums up the mood of the electorate pretty well (and introduces Chanterelle who becomes Lily who becomes Anne).
Buffy: "Does it ever get easy?"
Giles: "You mean life?"
Buffy: "Yeah. Does it get easy?"
Giles: "What do you want me to say?"
Buffy: "Lie to me."
Giles: "Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after."
The WSJ Ed Page, wishing to see a principled Republican elected in 2012, is peeved at both Governor Romney and Perry after the debate.
Give Mr. Perry credit for addressing one of the third rails of American politics, but that doesn't mean he has to invite electrocution. The problem with his hot rhetoric is that it can turn off many voters before they even get a chance to listen to his reform proposals, assuming he eventually offers some.
And, don't be looking so moisturized and smug in the back, Mitt:
As for Mr. Romney, he seems to be taking Social Security assaults a notch or two beyond even the Democratic playbook. At the debate he implied Mr. Perry was "committed to abolishing Social Security," and he has since made this a major campaign theme.
His press shop followed up with a memo claiming Mr. Perry "Believes Social Security Should Not Exist," and Mr. Romney told a talk radio show that "If we nominate someone who the Democrats can correctly characterize as being opposed to Social Security, we would be obliterated as a party."
We'd give Mr. Romney more credit for his professed political prudence if he were at least proposing some Social Security reforms of his own. But his recent 160-page economic platform avoids anything controversial on the subject.
One of the benefits of the Tea Party has been a lot more seriousness in GOP ranks and willingness to listen to a small amount of only slightly varnished truth. But is the whole country? Are the Bryan Caplan, vote for the tall guy with better hair voters ready for truth?
UCLA's token conservative PoliSci professor Tim GroseClose has a new book out which examines, using objective measures, how a leftist press has distorted the political views of the American body politic. Called 'Left Turn' it includes a do-it-yourself version of the Political Quotient or PQ test they used to rank individual politicians. A PQ of 100 is completely "left" and 0 is completely "right." I'll caution that the 40-question quiz is time consuming.
Here's your PQ: 7.7
Politicians with similar PQs are:
James DeMint (R-S.C. 1999-2009) PQ=5.1
Newt Gingrich (R-Ga., 1979-94) PQ=11.4
Richard Nixon (R-Calif., 1947-52) PQ=12.5
Lindsay Graham (R-S.C., 1995-2009) PQ=14.9
John McCain (R-Az., 1983-2006, 2009) PQ=15.8
Joe Scarborough (R-Fla., 1995-2000) PQ=16.4
Assuming the bill will pass the Senate, I'll offer a post mortem.
The exact language of the bill surely offers much to be desired and, as usual, we will all be disappointed with the final product. And yet, I am starting to believe that a fundamental change -- conducive to liberty -- has actually occurred. Leader McConnell called it "a new template," suggesting that every debt ceiling increase will now be met by stiff opposition. The Democrats love to say "we've increased the limit eleventy-four times with no theatrics." Sen. McConnell says those days are gone. Imagine the kerfuffle from Democrats if President Romney asks for an increase -- we'll see leftist parsimony. A new template indeed.
Chairmin Ryan likes to remind that we have moved from discussing growth in spending to cuts in spending.
And the Telegraph says "The real story of the US debt deal is not the triumph of the Tea Party but the death of the Socialist Left"
For believers in redistributive taxation and egalitarian social programmes like David Miliband, Obama was the last great hope. Here was a centre left politician capable of building the kind of electoral coalition that underpinned the massive expansions of state power in Britain and America, from Attlee's post-war Labour Government to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. That is, a coalition of the white working class, minorities and middle class liberals. Yet in spite of sweeping to power in 2008 and ensuring the Democrats won in both the House and the Senate, Obama has proved unable to sustain that coalition. Last night's debt deal represents the moment when he acknowledged that trying to maintain the levels of public spending required to fund ambitious welfare programmes is political suicide. Which is why the deal has been greated with cries of impotent rage by the British Left.
It's hard to accept the word of a guy who cannot spell labor, center or programs, but he's got what Rowan Atkinson might call "one wicked bastard of a good point."
Legal fine print: Hat-tip: Instapundit for the Telegraph piece. And, yes, Mister Atkinson would certainly be on the side of the Socialists. And, no, he did not say it but rather it was a Character he played in BBC's "Bernard & the Genie." Professional blogger on a closed website. Do not attempt.
UPDATE: On the other hand...here's gd's link to Rand Paul's letter.
Leftist Democrat cites Laffer; Calls for Tax Cuts to Grow Government Revenue
First-term Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, representing Colorado's second congressional district including the very left-leaning city of Boulder, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal today that among other things suggested lowering tax rates "to more reasonable levels" in order to "make revenues increase." He calls it Raise Revenues, Not Taxes.
In my home state of Colorado, and in 15 other states and the District of Columbia, local revenues have increased by millions of dollars since lawmakers decided to legalize and regulate medical marijuana. By reducing the current 100% confiscatory tax on marijuana to more reasonable levels, we can make revenues increase. If we were to nationally legalize, regulate and reduce federal taxes on marijuana, we could receive as much as $2.4 billion in additional revenue annually, according to a 2005 study conducted by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron.
If true, this could be the tip of a very large iceberg of new government funds. If lowering tax rates on the relatively small market commodity marijuana can bring in upwards of two billion dollars the results would be even more substantial when applied to mainstream commodities such as tobacco, transportation, communications, and even coal, oil and other fuels. And there's no reason to limit this new principle to excise taxes. Income taxes, capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes are all ripe targets for this simple approach to replentish the government's coffers.
Please call or write your congressman today and urge them to give their full support to Representative Polis' plan to pay off the debt and grow the economy buy cutting tax rates wherever they may be found. Congressman Polis is brilliant and his idea could be the bipartisan breakthrough we've been waiting for! And if his plan is implemented he deserves to be re-elected for as long as he remains its champion.
On Saturday the planets aligned to give us Rory McIlroy making golf history at Congressional Country Club on the same day Barack Obama and John Boehner were at Andrews Air Force Base, finding some fellow feeling in a round of golf.
Beyond the difference is quality and score, Henninger sees another difference.
The irony is hard to miss. The nation's two most public servants played their golf in private. Rory McIlroy, a private citizen, played his with millions watching.
Maybe we're onto something.
Professional athletes do their best work in public--Rory McIlroy this week, Dirk Nowitzki last week. Public witness, it seems, produces great performances under pressure. Meanwhile, it is taken as truth that politics can't happen unless the politicians can talk in private.
Playing in full view with pressure, Rory McIlroy produced a record U.S. Open score of 16 under par. The politicians, who legislate most of the time in private, have produced record deficits and a national debt of $14.3 trillion. Maybe the Biden debt negotiation should be taking place at a table in front of 20,000 citizens on the floor of the Verizon Center, where the aptly named Washington Wizards play.
Both golf courses Saturday were filled with smiles.
My Facebook Friends enjoyed rapture -- without all the killing and death and gnashing of teeth-- when a certain ex-Governor of our most easternmost state was caught on video explaining that "Paul Revere warned the British." It was all Palin all the time. I don't know how many friends posted the video, and each posting had multiple "this woman is sooooo stupid!" comments attached.
I provided a link to one (our beloved LatteSipper) with Professor Jacobson's insistence that "It seems to be a historical fact that this happened. A lot of the criticism is unfair and made by people who are themselves ignorant of history." But I later regretted both descending into the Palin-discussion-sewer and doubted, upon watching the video yet another time, whether the defense was credible.
Governor Griz stoked the flames on FOX News Sunday yesterday, claiming the "liberal media" served up a "gotcha question" and that "she knew her history." The gotcha question seems to be "How do you like Boston, Ms. Palin?"
I'd love comments. The Boston Herald piles on her side today. If you missed it, you can see the video there. Most of the defense is to quote Jacobson's blog post. But did she get lucky -- or was she playing the adversarial "lamestream media" like a fiddle? I like her well enough but I'm leaning toward lucky.
UPDATE: Andrew Malcolm at the LATimes votes "Fiddle"
UPDATE II: WaPo fact checker votes "present," but backs me up on one point:
The actual "gotcha question" was rather benign: "What have you seen so far today, and what are you going to take away from your visit?"
The link embeds both the original video and a segment from her FOXNews interview.
The residents of NY-26 look back 30 years later on the special election that preserved Medicare as we know it:
As was the practice at the time, Ms. Hochul quickly seized on the notoriety of her race to quit politics and become host of a cable-TV program. Her show was a long-running hit by CNN standards, lasting almost six months. Later, she moved to Asia to help the region meet the needs of its aging populations.
"I will always be grateful to NY-26 voters for their courage in preserving Medicare for today's seniors," Ms. Hochul texted this week from Japan, where she is helping to develop a product called Soylent Green.
I always liked Rep. Harold Ford. Scion of a flamboyant Tennessee political family, he represented the liberal 9th district which includes Memphis. And yet, he never joined the (pardon the technical jargon) "kooky" urban caucus of Maxine Waters, Jan Schakowsky, and my hometown's Diana DeGette. He would have made a much better "first African American" President than old whoosits.
Today, he has a smart OpEd in the WSJ. He does not use the words "Drill, baby, drill" but he makes a trenchant claim for Americans to unabashedly develop domestic resources.
One bipartisan policy tradition is to deny Americans the use of our own resources. President George H.W. Bush took aggressive steps to keep off-limits vast supplies of oil and gas along the coasts of California and Florida. Since then, the build-up of restrictions, limitations and bans on drilling (onshore and off) have cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars while increasing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
In the year since the Deepwater Horizon spill, the Obama administration has put in place what is effectively a permanent moratorium on deep water drilling. It stretched out the approval process for some Gulf-region drilling permits to more than nine months, lengths that former President Bill Clinton has called "ridiculous."
Then there's tax policy. Why, when gas prices are climbing, would any elected official call for new taxes on energy? And characterizing legitimate tax credits as "subsidies" or "loopholes" only distracts from substantive treatment of these issues.
Now, I could find a dozen things on which to disagree with Rep Ford, but I do wish we had a more serious opposition party.
I've been drawn to do a post on the "What Would Jesus Cut?" campaign by "a coalition of Progressive Christian leaders" for some time now but couldn't quite compose a counter-invective with comparable magnitude to this ode to suicidal selflessness and moral misdirection. I"m still not sure that WWJPF is adequate but the battle must be joined.
Take a good, long, close look at this photo of Reverend Jim Wallis.
This is the face of the man behind the campaign that says, "Are we saying that every piece of military equipment is more important than bed nets, childrenís health and nutrition for low-income families? If so they should be ashamed of themselves."
Notice any similarity to the way another contemporary redistributionist speaks? They both use a strawman and guilt. But any guilt rightly due to America was assuaged long ago. Only the unearned guilt of success and prosperity remains as the tool for these mystical moochers.
No, Mr. Wallis (I will not call you Reverend) "we" are not saying anything. We cannot speak. I can speak. I say I will provide for the common defense but will not give coerced alms to any who do not deserve them. I have no shame from the likes of men like you, for what are you without the power of other people's money? What have you created, without it? What have you protected, without it? How would you survive, without it? Please sir, read the sign: NO SOLICITORS. Good day.
So the Obama position seems to be that a) the rich ought to meet obligations over and above what the current tax code requires; b) the Obamas are rich, and c) the Obamas choose to meet no obligations over and above what the current tax code requires.
It's almost enough to make you begin to doubt his sincerity.
Now there's a bumper sticker I would besmirch the mister-two with.
The best Presidential Candidate of my lifetime, former Texas Senator, and Econ professor has a guest editorial in the WSJ today describing what the country would look like after a normal recovery. [Spoiler alert!] Without government intrusion we would have per capita GDP "$3,553 higher than it is today, and 11.9 million more Americans would be employed."
A good trial lawyer might argue that the star-struck millions who voted for Mr. Obama knew or should have known that his election would mean a larger, more powerful federal government, a massive increase in social spending, and higher taxes on the most productive members of American society, and that the voters got exactly what they voted for. Elections have consequences.
But it is equally clear that Americans did not realize that the price they might pay for big government would be 15.7 million fewer jobs and $4,154 less in per-capita income. Big government costs more than higher taxes. It is paid for with diminished freedom and less opportunity. You can't have unlimited opportunity and unlimited government.
I accept, as a Frank Meyers fusionist, that the evangelical wing of the party is necessary for any electoral success. But Senator Awesome was leading the field in Hew Hampshire when he answered a "values" question with "I'm not running for National Pastor."
It's a cruel fate that we cannot have Phil Gramm. In return I pledge my life, my fortune and my sacred honor to ensure that they don't get Governor Huckabee.
As of 9:45 this morning, the Associated Press had results for all but 7 of the state's 3,630 precincts and Kloppenburg had taken a 140 vote lead after Prosser had been ahead most of the night by less than 1,000 votes.
Huh. The collectivist overcame a narrow lead when very late votes came out of urban county precincts, just pushing the progressive over the top. You can't script an exciting finish like -- oh, wait...no it appears you can script an exciting finish like that.
Colorado's state Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature, just as United States Supreme Court justices. This explains my surprise that high court judges in many states, including Wisconsin, are actually elected directly by popular vote. Tyranny of the Majority, anyone?
A brief review of the "debatepedia" entry on the election of judges provides two opposing views:
Elected judges are more in tune with public opinion - The system of training through law schools and vocational work is elitist and prolonged, and leaves judges' opinions at risk of being, or appearing, out of date or out of touch. (...) Judges are often seen as lacking knowledge of recent social trends. Elections can help reverse these trends by forcing judges to understand and respect public opinion so they can advance a form of law that is seen as "just" to all citizens, not just to their own conscience.
Elected judges wrongly interpret public opinion over the law - Legal decisions require a strict interpretation of law. It should not be driven by popular opinion. Yet, this is precisely what judicial elections call for. This diverges from basic judicial principles of applying the law objectively and neutrally.
Today's high court election in Wisconsin is as obvious an example of the latter opinion as one may ever see. Wisconsin Election Is Referendum on Governor is a predictably biased NY Times "news" story on today's vote, but the headline tells the story. Namely...
"This has really become a proxy battle for the governor's positions and much less a fight about the court itself," said Charles H. Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The outcome is now in great doubt, which is surprising considering where voter sentiment was 6 weeks ago.
For his part, Justice Prosser contends that Ms. Kloppenburg has become the darling of union leaders, protesters and others who opposed Mr. Walker's collective bargaining cuts. He said he saw protest signs in Madison that read: "Stop the Bill; Vote Kloppenburg."
"I feel like the victim of a drive-by shooting," Justice Prosser, 68, said in an interview in which he described his record on the court as moderate. "Here I am, Iím walking along, I should win this race going away. But I mean, not if people aren't thinking about what they're doing."
In a primary election on Feb. 15, Mr. Prosser won 55 percent of the vote, compared with 25 percent for Ms. Kloppenburg. The balance went to two other candidates.
If only it were an April Fools' Day prank. With Japan officially cutting its corporate tax rate as of today, America now has the highest rate among advanced economies. Even its effective tax rate is way above average despite the likes of General Electric spending billions to game the labyrinthine code. A smarter approach would be to substitute a business consumption tax.
Dishing out some tough love to a room of big money GOP donors, "he told them they would be judged by their children and grandchildren on how they acted going forward."
"Will we allow ourselves to be assuaged by creature comforts and ignore the problems of this nation," he said. "Will we allow ourselves to think we are too small, and our problems too big for us to solve them?" The governor said that today's tough times demand that a question be asked of everyone of means who worries about the country: "Are you a patriot, or are you a patron? We will be judged at this moment of crisis. We must stand up, tell the truth, do the difficult thing."
JK did a great write-up on the Wisconsin revolution against state employee union looting of the treasury. As I thought about covering the same story I had some phrases in mind: Here comes the sun... It's always darkest before the dawn... Finally, hope and change! Stuff like that.
But how can something like this happen in Wisconsin? Home of the U of W in Madison, birthplace of the AFSCME union and a long-time leftist bastion? Check the leadership:
UPDATE: I am guessing Thomas Edison is spinning in his grave. However, if he is wearing a ferrous belt buckle and there is a magnetic field...
James Pethokoukis ponders crony capitalist links among the soi disant Republican Jeffrey Immelt and his new Democrat boss:
Sure enough, wherever Obama has led, GE has followed. Obama has championed cap and trade in greenhouse gasses, and GE has started a business dedicated to creating and trading greenhouse gas credits. As Obama expanded subsidies on embryonic stem cells, GE opened an embryonic stem-cell business. Obama pushed rail subsidies, and GE hired Linda Daschle -- wife of Obama confidant Tom Daschle -- as a rail lobbyist. GE, with its windmills, its high-tech batteries, its health care equipment, and its smart meters, was the biggest beneficiary of Obama's stimulus.
NOTE: The quote is from Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner, as excerpted in Jimi P's post.
The fact that Immelt is a Republican is as beside the point as the fact that Daley is a Democrat. Increasingly our nation is divided, not between Rs and Ds, but between TIs and TBs: tribute imposers and tribute bearers. The imposers are gigantic banks, agri-businesses, higher education Colossae, government employees, NGO and QUANGO employees and the myriad others whose living is made chiefly by extracting wealth from other people. The bearers are the rest of us: the people who extract wealth from the earth, not from others.
My blog brother has ably and aptly illuminated the folly of those using the Arizona tragedy to curtail gun rights. I am equally (okay, more) concerned about free speech.
My buddies at the WSJ Ed Page shut this down effectively from an intellectual standpoint:
Ponder the implication of this. A deranged soul shoots a public figure and we are supposed to change our political discourse and rule certain people and opinions out of bounds based on whatever incoherent ramblings Mr. Loughner published on his website?
Every two years we hold elections so that sane Americans can make a judgment on the policies of President Obama, John Boehner, tea party candidates and so on. But even though the people have recently had their say, in a typically raucous but entirely nonviolent fashion, we are supposed to put that aside and assess what a murderer with a mental illness has to tell us about the state of American politics, government and our national dialogue.
This line of argument is itself an attack on democratic discourse, and it is amazing that it even needs to be rebutted. Taking such an argument seriously will only encourage more crazy people to believe they can trigger a national soul-searching if they shoot at a political target. We should denounce the murders and the murderer, rather than doing him the honor of suggesting that his violence flows in any explainable fashion from democratic debate.
But I am imputing reason on the other side of this debate, which might be unwise. I received a link last night from a person I barely know to an article on "Return to Civil Discourse."
With apologies to Mister Twain, the truth of a disturbed and irrational assailant is pulling its pants up; the lie spreading around the world is that we need to reform our rhetoric. That is, we need to put the rhetoric police in charge of what we may or may not say. After all, children could be hurt.
Representative Bob Brady of Pennsylvania told The Caucus he plans to introduce a bill that would ban symbols like that now-infamous campaign crosshair map.
"You can't threaten the president with a bullseye or a crosshair," Mr. Brady, a Democrat, said, and his measure would make it a crime to do so to a member of Congress or federal employee, as well.
Asked if he believed the map incited the gunman in Tucson, he replied, "I don't know what's in that nut's head. I would rather be safe than sorry."
And I'd rather be free than not. Thanks, Congressman.
An early exposure to practical, municipal, politics was seeing the popular and long time Denver Mayor William McNichols turned out of office because of inadequate snow removal. I got snowed in at the lovely girlfriend's parent's house for the Christmas Blizzard of '82. In '83, the lovely girlfriend became the lovely bride, and Federico Peña became Mayor.
Mayor McNichols had sent the garbage trucks out to tamp down the snow, leading to the witticism: "What has four wheels and flies? A McNichols's Snowplow!"
Not sure if Mayor Bloomberg of New York will get the same fate, but the WSJ Ed Page points out that the great metropolis spends a lot more establishing a progressive utopia than making things go:
[The City Council] should look in the mirror of their own priorities. According to figures compiled by the Citizens Budget Commission, in fiscal 2011 the city has 9,419 sanitation workers, who also do snow removal. That's down about 500 employees from three years earlier, though spending is up about $200 million.
Meanwhile, the city has no fewer than 14,530 workers spending $8.4 billion on social services, up about $1 billion and 500 employees from 2007. There are 6,100 public employees working on environmental protection and another 12,100 at the housing authority, plus 6,400 devoted to "health and mental hygiene." Oh, and the city's pension contributions are climbing to $7.49 billion in fiscal 2011, from $4.7 billion in 2007.
This is Tea Partyism writ large, is it not? The established, legal and Constitutional products of government are corrupt and inefficient, while the providers want more resources and more authority for nannyism.
UPDATE: Maybe I am just jealous. While our friends in Minneapolis and Philly are postponing football, we have had no measurable snowfall until today. And it's not exactly '82:
The big news here is the admission (and Jimmy P's descriptive wrapper):
Uncle Sam runs his books like he's operating a hot dog stand rather than a $14 trillion economic superpower. It's cash in (revenues), cash out (spending), forget about the future costs of Social Security and Medicare. But what if government bean counters acted like they worked for USA Inc., instead? The numbers would come out just a bit differently, accordingly to a little noticed Treasury Department report that didn;t escape the notice of my Reuters colleagues:
Not sure Mister Pethokoukis is completely fair to hot dog stands, here -- I'm sure they're less a stranger to GAAP than the Federal Government is. But the point stands -- cash accounting does nothing but hide the perfidy of our fleecers.
George Will compares the mushiness of "No Labels" to the clarity of Judge Henry Hudson's assertion of Constitutional limits in Virginia v Sibelius.
Although the people promising to make No Labels into a national scold are dissatisfied with the tone of politics, they are pleased as punch with themselves. If self-approval were butter, they could spread it across America, if it were bread.
And no less than two honorable mentions:
But [NYC Mayor Michael] Bloomberg, addressing the No Labels confabulation, spoke truth to powerlessness: [...]
No Labels, its earnestness subverting its grammar, says: "We do not ask any political leader to ever give up their label -- merely put it aside."
Japan has announced that it will cut its corporate tax rate by five percentage points. Japan and the United States had been the global laggards on corporate tax reform, so this leaves America with the highest corporate rate among the 34 wealthy nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The answer, my friends, is always in the muddled but inspirational middle. And partisanship "is paralyzing our ability to govern" -- because, as you well know, Washington didn't spend trillions and reform a significant sector of the economy in just these past two years.
Was that not sufficiently polite? I hope it was, because if I've learned anything from the civility police at No Labels, it's that there's nothing as vital to the health of democracy as good manners. In conscientious tones, No Labels speaks for the average American. Yes, you only think you're upset with your elected officials for being scoundrels with pliable morals. Actually, you're just pining for more centrism.
If you don't read the whole thing, you're not worthy of broadband.
I guess it is admirable for the WSJ Ed Page to post content outside its preferred ideological framework. They don't want to be MSNBC.
But I do not miss Thomas Frank (or really even Al Hunt). The occasional responses from an elected Democrat or former statesman are always worth a read, but presenting the other side just to say you did provides unfulfilling content.
Case in point, Zoltan Hajnal, an associate professor of political science at U.C. San Diego. His piece today states that the GOP should be concerned because amid its victories, the party relied on higher concentrations of white voters, And that demographic shifts threaten the party's future. Pretty good stuff so far, huh? Then some facts showing that the partisan percentages of minority votes remain pretty constant. Interesting -- but what's a party to do?
Republicans thus face a real dilemma. They may be able to gain over the short term by continuing their current strategy of ignoring or attacking minorities. But that is short-sighted.
Don't get me wrong (Associate) Professor Hajnal makes a valid if not particularly original point. Surely the GOP will have to make better inroads into the minority community, One hopes that Tea Party principles and high profile minority candidates like Nikki Haley and Marco Rubio will help. But the faculty-lounge wisdom of "ignoring or attacking minorities" adds nada to the debate -- and makes one wonder if any of Hajnal's books go back before 1965.
Denver Mayor's "I don't want to be Governor" Moment
(Or as my brother-in-law suggested, "I'm too sexy for this job.")
Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus.
I realize that all of you outta-staters must get pretty bored with the detailed coverage we've been giving the Colorado governor's race. I appreciate the effort it must take to have any interest whatsoever. But this time, this story, will be worth it - trust me. Not since candidate Obama was caught on tape telling a sympathetic audience that rural Pennysylvania voters "bitterly cling to their guns and religion" have I seen such a self-inflicted smoking gun of political idiocy. And to make it that much better, this time we have video.
For those who don't have time to watch at the moment (and because I'm such a sadistic bastard I want this Democrat's words repeated as many times as possible) here is the money quote:
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper: "I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico."
I can hear his poll numbers crashing in every non-metro precinct in the state. If ours was a 2-party race between fully supported candidates of the 2 major parties I'd be dancing a jig right now. Alas.
I think Andy Warhol once said "in the future, everybody will be Speaker of the House for 15 minutes." Proving the perspicacity of the pop icon, we have Speaker Robert Livingston. Some of you were not old enough to remember his tenure, but I do. I had a very delicious hot dog, and some Mrs. Fields cookies. Great times.
He's back today showing his gift for timing with a defense of earmarks. Did I mention that he's a lobbyist now?
Tea partiers have adopted a mantra that all earmarks are bad, that they are the sole reason the country is in deep trouble. I love the tea parties, have attended two of them, and believe that they are energizing America. But many in the movement misunderstand the importance and benefits of good earmarks.
Yes, I said "good" earmarks. There are indeed bad earmarks that waste tax dollars and bloat the budget. But many are very much in the public interest.
I'm contrarian enough to admit that he's probably correct on some level about earmarking as a protection of the House's control of the purse against Executive Power. But the tea partiers are proof that people see the backroom deals and sausage-making of the legislative process as corrupt. To get a "Blue Poodle's" vote to nationalize health care, just build a new hospital in his district.
So into this wave of anti-corruption sentiment wades Speaker Livingston, GOP Champion!
"Hey, aren't you John Kranz, the famous comedian?"
"To what do you attribute your success?"
Don't forget to tip ypur waitress and bartender...
George Will does my favorite riff -- and as you can imagine, does it pretty well. Much Strum & Drang about FOUR BILLION DOLLARS spent on politics, not much comparison.
Total spending, by all parties, campaigns and issue-advocacy groups, concerning every office from county clerks to US senators, may reach a record $4.2 billion in this two-year cycle. That is about what Americans spend in one year on yogurt, but less than they spend on candy in two Halloween seasons.
Those who are determined to reduce the quantity of political speech to what they consider the proper amount are the sort of people who know exactly how much water should come through our shower heads (no more than 2.5 gallons per minute, as stipulated by a 1992 law). Is it, however, really worrisome that Americans spend on political advocacy much less than they spend on potato chips ($7.1 billion a year)?
At bottom, the struggle between national Republicans and Democrats is over whether the country will adopt a version of the Texas model, or of the Michigan, New York, or California model. Will government allow the private sector to thrive, or stifle growth with its hyperactivity and favoritism for anti-business interests? If migration were a referendum, the Texas model would be winning in a rout -- more than 1,300 people a day moved there between their 2007 and 2008 tax filings, according to Internal Revenue Service data.
That's Rich Lowry wrapping the stunning news that "More than half of the net new jobs in the U.S. during the past 12 months were created in the Lone Star State."
I try to be fair. But why is this not Game, Set, Match for pro-growth policies?
Ken Langone, one of the founders of Home Depot, writes in the Wall Street Journal:
Although I was glad that you answered a question of mine at the Sept. 20 town-hall meeting you hosted in Washington, D.C., Mr. President, I must say that the event seemed more like a lecture than a dialogue. For more than two years the country has listened to your sharp rhetoric about how American businesses are short-changing workers, fleecing customers, cheating borrowers, and generally "driving the economy into a ditch," to borrow your oft-repeated phrase.
My question to you was why, during a time when investment and dynamism are so critical to our country, was it necessary to vilify the very people who deliver that growth? Instead of offering a straight answer, you informed me that I was part of a "reckless" group that had made "bad decisions" and now required your guidance, if only I'd stop "resisting" it.
I'm sure that kind of argument draws cheers from the partisan faithful. But to my ears it sounded patronizing. Of course, one of the chief conceits of centralized economic planning is that the planners know better than everybody else.
A little more than 30 years ago, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah and I got together and founded The Home Depot. Our dream was to create (memo to DNC activists: that's build, not take or coerce) a new kind of home-improvement center catering to do-it-yourselfers. The concept was to have a wide assortment, a high level of service, and the lowest pricing possible.
We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained, and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.
If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it's a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive.
Langone also addresses taxing "the rich":
Meantime, you seem obsessed with repealing tax cuts for "millionaires and billionaires." Contrary to what you might assume, I didn't start with any advantages and neither did most of the successful people I know. I am the grandson of immigrants who came to this country seeking basic economic and personal liberty. My parents worked tirelessly to build on that opportunity. My first job was as a day laborer on the construction of the Long Island Expressway more than 50 years ago. The wealth that was created by my investments wasn't put into a giant swimming pool as so many elected demagogues seem to imagine. Instead it benefitted our employees, their families and our community at large.
I have had an idea in my head for some time. I hope the wicked evil Democrats don't steal it, but it is a chance I will take.
Kate Grandju blogs her disappointment with DNC email content:
Let me get right to the point: you need a better marketing-communications strategist. Whomever you have handling your email marketing campaign is really, really bad at his/her job.
You see, I am a Democrat. I am your base. I am also someone who is very comfortable with email and other types of digital outreach made directly to me. I should be your holy grail target for your email campaigning. Yet, your email outreach is so clumsy and spammy that I find myself increasingly irritated every time one of your missives shows up in my inbox (which is far too often, period, even if the content were more strategic and smart).
Life in Michael Steele land is not a whole lot better.
Here's my idea. I pony up -- I don't know -- $500 to be in the GOP "Strategists" Club (or "Strategery Club" if George P runs...) and the benefit is grown up emails (and junk mail) from the party and some participating candidates. No more "do you what those liber-als in Congress and Nancy Pel-oh-si are going to do?" Nope, you get elevated tone that accepts your knowledge of politics and current issues.
It's not going to clean out your box, but If I got something intelligent every once in a while from the party, it would be a big deal.
WOW! While we were wondering about NRA endorsements -- how do you think yer average VFW supporter feels about this?
The VFW has a history of tilting towards liberals, but this seems rather stunning. Barbara Boxer, who dressed down a general in a Senate hearing for calling her "ma'am," won the endorsement of VFW's political-action committee yesterday. The move also comes despite Boxerís votes to curtail military spending -- or perhaps because of them:
Don't know they'll be quiet about that at eleven...
Felicia Sonmez on the WaPo blog, The Fix, gives a long and lugubrious recap of efforts to restore Madisonian principles to the upper chamber.
As most candidates who have at floated the idea of repealing the 17th Amendment have acknowledged, the issue is not likely to be at the top of most members of Congress' lists after November. The fact that it has lit up so many campaigns, however, is one of the hallmarks of this cycle's more unusual races, as well as a testament to voters' dissatisfaction with the current state of government and the growing power of the tea party movement.
Readers know I'd prefer repeal. But any situation where it became close would bring out the decades of delay that "The Solid South" used in the Senate, through Rule 22 (the filibuster) to delay civil rights legislation. Like states rights and federalism, it will be always tainted by its use to table emancipation and civil rights.
I've enjoyed a pretty overwhelming supply of presidential biographies. Even some of the lower lights like Buchanan and Pierce had a selection of interesting books. I enjoyed the gilded age by having a few public domain volumes about and frequently by each Chief Executive.
Ordered Mister Ford today. Nothing on Kindle. essentially nothing on Google Books. I went to Amazon and searched for "President Ford." First was the Schlesinger Series (one thin CW book on each), then an 8x10 picture. A Kindle "Facts of" that comes up for any of them, and the fourth item was:
I lived through the Ford Years, wore a leisure suit to the Freshman dance, and am not lobbying for a revival. But he entered the House in '48 worked his way to Minority Leader and remains the only VP to take office under the 25th Amendment, and the only unelected president.
You'd think some Michigan folks would put out a few favorite son books so that you could go a whole page before seeing Mister Gasket. Harsh.
UPDATE: Saved by Shelfari: a fun site I use as a virtual bookshelf to track eBooks and paper together. It has a rotten user experience, but it is free and useful. If you join let me know so we can share lists and things. I had not used it for searches but it had several better selections. Ended up with the interesting-looking Write It When I'm Gone. Apparently, GRF allowed a press man to collect personal incidents with the agreement that they not be published while our 38th was on the Earthly plane. And it's on Kindle. Life is so awesome.
Quel Horreur! Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (if I wrote a novel, I'd name the CEO "Reed Hastings") is a Democrat Supporter and -- natch -- an America hater.
ďHow much has it been your experience that Americans follow what happens in the world? It's something we'll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed.Ē
The same Washington Examiner piece alerts that $224,700 out of $255,450 of Hastings's political donations has gone to Democrats.)
Yet it also provides an apology:
My Big American Foot is in my mouth. Yesterday, I made an awkward joke with a reporter in Toronto about Americans (like me) being self-absorbed relative to Netflix pricing in Canada. I was wrong to have made the joke, and I do not believe that one of the most philanthropically-minded nations in the world (America) is self-absorbed or full of self-absorbed people.
Some of the conservablogosphkommentariatseem a bit upset, but it looks like smallball to me.
Kenneth P Green, in a smart piece in The American, thinks he knows why the left is so worried about the loss of "moderate Republicans:"
Many Republicans have gladly gone along with such boondoggles as corn ethanol and biofuels (Remember George W's switchgrass speech?). They have also promoted what might be one of the most economically foolish thoughts in recent history, which is that "we need all of the above," meaning we need affordable and reliable fossil fuels, but also unaffordable and unreliable wind and solar power and environmentally destructive biofuels. And of course, there can never be enough nuclear power, regardless of the fact that the economics of nuclear power are dubious.
He describes Peggy Noonan's yardstick as a ratchet. This matches what I've always felt: you slow down the growth of government, but click click click the collectivists are always there to ratchet it back.
Randy Barnett and William Howell have a guest editorial today on "The Repeal Amendment:"
"Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."
ThreeSourcers will enjoy his whacks at the 16th and 17th Amendments. And all will agree that we focus too little on repeal. The integral of legislation over 222 years is a severe threat to our liberty.
I have posted the complete text under "Continue Reading..." Sorry, Rupert, but it's for a good cause -- the restoration of state powers as a bulwark to Federal encroachment.
On Sept. 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed. The celebration of Constitution Day this year takes on renewed significance as millions of Americans are objecting to a federal government that has bailed out or taken over banks, car companies and student loans while it prepares to take charge of the practice of medicine. Unfortunately, because there is no single cause for this growth of federal power, there is no single solution.
One cause is political, with elected officials promising solutions to social problems that are beyond their power to deliver. Another is judicial, with federal judges who have allowed the Congress to exceed its enumerated powers for so long that they no longer entertain even the possibility of enforcing the text of the Constitution.
Also responsible are two "progressive" constitutional amendments adopted in 1913. Both dramatically increased the power of the federal government at the expense of the states, creating a constitutional imbalance that needs to be corrected.
The 16th Amendment gave Congress the power to impose an income tax, allowing it to tax and spend to a degree previously unimaginable. This amendment enabled Congress to evade the constitutional limits placed on its own power by effectively bribing states. Once states are "hooked" on receiving federal funds, they can be coerced to obey federal dictates or lose the revenue.
The 17th Amendment provided for the direct election of U.S. senators by the voters of each state. Under the original Constitution they were selected by state legislatures and could be expected to restrain federal power. Whatever that amendment's democratic benefits, the loss of this check on the federal government has been costly.
In its next session beginning in January, the legislature of Virginia will consider proposing a constitutional "Repeal Amendment." The Repeal Amendment would give two-thirds of the states the power to repeal any federal law or regulation. Its text is simple:
"Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."
At present, the only way for states to contest a federal law or regulation is to bring a constitutional challenge in federal court or seek an amendment to the Constitution. A state repeal power provides a targeted way to reverse particular congressional acts and administrative regulations without relying on federal judges or permanently amending the text of the Constitution to correct a specific abuse.
The Repeal Amendment should not be confused with the power to "nullify" unconstitutional laws possessed by federal courts. Unlike nullification, a repeal power allows two-thirds of the states to reject a federal law for policy reasons that are irrelevant to constitutional concerns. In this sense, a state repeal power is more like the president's veto power.
This amendment reflects confidence in the collective wisdom of the men and women from diverse backgrounds, and elected by diverse constituencies, who comprise the modern legislatures of two-thirds of the states. Put another way, it allows thousands of democratically elected representatives outside the Beltway to check the will of 535 elected representatives in Washington, D.C.
Congress could re-enact a repealed measure if it really feels that two-thirds of state legislatures are out of touch with popular sentiment. And congressional re-enactment would require merely a simple majority. In effect, with repeal power the states could force Congress to take a second look at a controversial law.
Americans revere their Constitution but have also acted politically to improve it. The 13th and 14th Amendments limited the original power of states to violate the fundamental rights of their own citizens, while the 15th and 19th Amendments extended the right to vote to blacks and women. The 21st Amendment repealed another "progressive" reform: the 18th Amendment that empowered Congress to prohibit alcohol.
The Repeal Amendment alone will not cure all the current problems with federal power. Getting two-thirds of state legislatures to agree on overturning a federal law will not be easy and will only happen if a law is highly unpopular.
Perhaps its most important effect will be deterring even further expansions of federal power. Suppose, for example, that Congress decides to nationalize private pension investments. Just as it must now contemplate a presidential veto, so too would Congress need to anticipate how states will react.
The Repeal Amendment would help restore the ability of states to protect the powers "reserved to the states" noted in the 10th Amendment. And it would provide citizens another political avenue to protect the "rights . . . retained by the people" to which the Ninth Amendment refers. In short, the amendment provides a new political check on the threat to American liberties posed by a runaway federal government. And checking abuses of power is what the written Constitution is all about.
Mr. Barnett is a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and author of "Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty" (Princeton 2005). Mr. Howell is the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates.
CNBC Host and former Reagan aide Larry Kudlow hit an odd agreement last night with Vermont Governor, doctor, and DNC chief Howard Dean.
Gov Dean dusted off that sweet old saw "returning to Clinton levels of taxation" [insert Democratic boilerplate about surpluses here...] Larry, moderating a debate between Dean and CNBC colleague Michelle Caruso Cabrera, asked "how about if we return to Clinton level spending?" Dean -- outwitted or sincerely -- acquiesced.
Take that Rep. Tom Price! You want to roll back to 2008 spending, how about 1998?
We all know the "Clinton-level" is a canard. Alan Viard (who got a link the other day) exposes the flaws superbly in the American today.
In 2010, the top income tax rate bracket for ordinary income is 35 percent. Besides wages and interest income, this income category includes profits from pass-through business firms--sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S-corporations. Under the president's proposal, the top bracket will rise to 39.6 percent. A stealth provision that phases out high-income taxpayers' itemized deductions will also be reinstated, adding another 1.2 percentage points to the effective tax rate, bringing it to 40.8 percent. Wages and some of the pass-through income will also remain subject to a 2.9 percent Medicare tax. These 40.8 and 43.7 percent tax rates, which will apply in 2011 and 2012, match the 1994 to 2000 rates--the same top bracket, stealth provision, and Medicare tax were in place then.
But the picture changes in 2013. Under the healthcare law adopted in March, the Medicare tax will rise that year, from 2.9 to 3.8 percent. Also, a new 3.8 percent tax, called the Unearned Income Medicare Contribution (UIMC), will be imposed on high-income taxpayers' interest income and most of their pass-through business income thatís not subject to Medicare tax. So, under the president's proposal, virtually all of top earners' ordinary income will be taxed at 44.6 percent, starting in 2013. Weíre not just going back to the Clinton-era rates of 40.8 and 43.7 percent.
Wake up! I know that was a lot of percentages, but this is good ammo for the argument we face on the extension of the tax cuts.
But what about doing it for real? The Democrats want to return to the Clinton years and more than a few Republicans yearn for a (pre-meltdown) Gingrich Congress. Let's codify it: we want the 90s back!
Not the grunge music and flannel shirts, but the real Clinton tax rates after he cut cap gains. And return to the 1999 budget, indexed for inflation and population growth. If that is not enough revenue to fund all the new programs we added since then, they'll have to be dropped or offset with other cuts.
If the WaPo is going to trouble itself with an online Palin Tracker to follow how her endorsements are performing (which I still find creepy), they could at least update it within 24 hours of a huge win.
If Governor Palin did nothing more than replacing Lisa Murkowski with Joe Miller, she would be a plus to the party.
And so, dear students, welcome back! Your generation is going to have dig its own way out of the hole my generation has dug for you (thanks for the Medicare, kids, and sorry about the deficit!), but here are a few tips that may help you get the best out of your college years. -- Walter Russell Mead
Taranto links to have a bit of sport with the headline:
News of the Tautological
"Used Vehicle Demand Up, Supply Down; Prices Soar"--headline, Detroit News, Aug. 30
But the linked article is worth a forward to your favorite leftist:
Used car prices are climbing and the pool of available models is drying up one year after the federal "cash for clunkers" program spurred consumers to scrap old cars for new ones.
Used cars are selling for the highest average price in at least seven years, according to Edmunds.com, an online auto consumer guide. Last month, the average price of a three-year-old vehicle spiked 10.3 percent, to $19,248, compared to July 2009.
Contra Taranto, the article spells out the simple supply-demand manifestations of "Cash for Clunkers." The only question is: "Why does President Obama hate poor people so?"
@Historyday The 36th president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born on this day in 1908 in Stonewall, Texas.
Although I disagree with many of them, my Magical Biography Tour through the Presidents has found my becoming quite fond of all of them, appreciating their patriotism, service and integrity if not their ideas.
...and then I came to #36. I have a couple more books on him to complete, but what seems like a pretty sympathetic biographer describes an absolute megalomaniacal son of a bitch. And he gave us Medicare. He even mistreated dogs.
Something I've believed since NOW folded on President Clinton, but Dana Loesch has a great column about "the rebirth of feminism" with conservative women and tea partiers.
This past month, liberal feminists made more hay made over Palin's "mama grizzlies" talk than the matter of the Food and Drug Administration jerking Avastin off the market. Avastin is a drug used to treat late-stage breast cancer and has been shown to extend the life of some breast cancer patients by five months, but was deemed "cost-prohibitive" by the government.
Emily's List cared enough about women to make a video criticizing Palin, but apparently not enough about breast cancer patients to make a video criticizing the FDA's move.
Chuck DeVore @ BigGovernment puts the Red-Blue 2008 electoral college map beside a map shaded to show each state's per-capita debt. I can't say the visuals captured me at first: "eah, New York, California..."
But when you get into the text the correlation is striking:
According to Moodyís, the average state per capita debt of the 28 Obama states is $1,728 while the average debt in the 22 McCain states is less than half, at $749. This information alone says a lot about voters and their attitude towards government and debt. Voters with a propensity to elect politicians who burden future generations who canít yet vote with huge debts voted for Obama while fiscally responsible voters generally voted for McCain.
This trend gets starker when you look at the debt in the states that voted overwhelmingly for one candidate. The six states where Obama received the highest percentage of the vote were: Hawaii, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maryland. McCain received his highest percentage of votes in Oklahoma, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Alabama and Alaska. The strongest Obama states had a per capita debt high of $4,606 for Massachusetts and a low of $709 for Vermontóremember, the average per capita debt in the McCain states was only $749, barely above the debt level in Vermont, with its ďless is moreĒ ethic. Per capita debt in the strong McCain states ranged from a high of $1,345 in oil-rich Alaska to a low of $77 in coal-rich Wyoming.
And, of course, what states will be bailed out -- Wyoming?
The Wall Street Journal is too august an institution to title an editorial "Duh!" So they call it Of CEOs and Congressmen
As a mere corporate chieftain, Mr. Hurd was summarily ousted by the H-P board on Friday for allegedly fibbing about $20,000 or less in expenses to cover up a nonsexual relationship with someone who was merely a contractor. The contractor, Jodie Fisher, accused Mr. Hurd of sexual harassment, which an investigation by outside counsel found had not taken place. It's the perfect modern sex scandal: Both sides acknowledge it involved no sex, only money, and not much of that.
Company directors nonetheless concluded that Mr. Hurd hadn't followed the ethics code that H-P had imposed after a 2006 scandal involving spying on journalists and board members had forced the resignation of an H-P chairman. The H-P standard of business conduct tells employees that, "Before I make a decision, I consider how it would look in a news story."
So the directors gave the heave-ho to a successful CEO who over five years had more than doubled his company's market capitalization. If CEOs were ever given the benefit of the doubt, the Hurd case shows those days are over. A single misjudgment, personal or strategic, can cost a corporate boss his job.
Contrast that accountability with the U.S. House of Representatives, where Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel stand accused of ethics violations. [...]
"Government is what we call things we do together," Rep. Barney Frank likes to say. The broken incentive structure, however, always needs to be considered.
Quelle horreur ! Chelsea Clinton is reportedly spending $2 Million on her wedding! Shouldn't she give that money to the homeless? Hell no. Her parents have money and her guest list will be large and let's say "high end."
I hope for a lovely day and offer the best of wishes. There is life beyond politics and I'm not churlish enough to begrudge her a nice wedding. I'm also something of a fan because Jenna Bush has said that Chelsea was always nice and helpful to the twins.
So get over it! A nice young lady is going to have a nice wedding.
However, about the song list...
Music: TMZ reported this week that they had a copy of the playlist Clinton and her fiancť gave to the live band playing at the wedding. The songs are a mix of oldies and pop hits, including several Michael Jackson songs (ďBillie JeanĒ "The Way You Make Me Feel," ďDonít Stop ĎTil You Get EnoughĒ and ďRock With YouĒ). Also on the playlist: ďWild WorldĒ by Cat Stevens, ďSitting on the Dock of the BayĒ by Otis Redding, ďThinkĒ by Aretha Franklin, U2ís ďBeautiful Day,Ē and ABBAís ďDancing Queen,Ē others. One of the newer songs: ďI Gotta FeelingĒ by the Black Eyed Peas. (Weíre taking this tidbit with a grain of salt.)
I have a suggestion for a Federal Program. Tell me where I am wrong.
Before you roll out the full HellíníMaria, accept my agreement that I wish the Federal government were not on the hook for millions of home mortgages. But, kids, that train left the station, 3:20 minutes ago, heading west at 65 miles per hour.
Why not allow holders of FHA mortgages to refinance based on the original appraisal of their property? Make some reasonable limit on what can come out to cover closing costs, but allow the holder to take advantage of a lower rate, lowering the payment and the risk of default.
There's a certain moral hazard here as it gives the FHA loan a retroactive advantage not likely offered by other loans. But it is a retroactive amnesty that should not counted going forward. In return for this, we get lowered risk of default, lowered blight of foreclosures, and some increased buying power by strapped homeowners who may suddenly have a lower payment.
ThreeSources's hero, Governor Chris Christie, won a smashing victory yesterday as the minority Republicans held his veto of "the Millionaire tax." Larry Kudlow mentioned that "the first 115 tax increases over the last eight years did not balance the budget, what made them think the 116th would?"
My man Gene Healy says it's time we looked for somebody who could fill the Oval Office a bit more. Like me he's a big fan of Taft and Cleveland.
America might do better with a fat president. After all, some of our best have been big fellows, and lately the trim and ambitious types haven't served us so well.
"Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much. Such men are dangerous," Shakespeare's Julius Caesar comments to Marc Antony. "Let me have men about me that are fat ... such as sleep o' nights."
The author of "Cult of the Presidency" reminds -- again -- what's it's all about:
Celebrity culture has infected American politics. Since the advent of television, we've reliably opted for the taller candidate ó those with receding hairlines need not apply. We seem to have forgotten the purpose of the office. We're not casting a chick flick here ó we're picking a constitutional chief executive.
The Framers never saw the president as a glamorous tribune of the people. They wanted someone solid enough to stand firm when Congress and the public demanded things they shouldn't have.
UPDATE: For those keeping score, I have chosen this as my Monthly Facebook Political Post. Think this will anger my thin and lefty friends?
Mike Rosen has a very well articulated column in today's Denver Post regarding Rand Paul's dilemma to espouse his libertarian views or get elected - he probably can't do both.
The problem is that these principles often conflict with one another, at which point compromise is unavoidable. (Freedom vs. security, for example: We allow ourselves to be searched without probable cause at airports because we don't want to be blown up by terrorists.)
Practical libertarians (not always an oxymoron) vote for the lesser of evils between Republicans and Democrats, mostly for Republicans, recognizing that the best they can realistically hope for is to tug public policy marginally in their direction. Impractical libertarians don't care about election outcomes. The philosophical high ground is reward enough. They revel in their self-righteous purity of thought and wear their political martyrdom as a badge of honor. It'll be interesting to see how Rand Paul handles this dilemma.
This is not a new or controversial concept to Three Sourcers, but worth the read because Rosen articulates it so well. It is a good argument for JK's "Prospertarianism" as a better way to package practical libertarianism.
Having access to ThreeSources, I've become deeply disturbed at the Rand Paul imbroglio.
We allow ourselves to discuss about anything. I may occasionally step over the line by say cussing out a beloved spiritual leader -- but the table is open around here. And (as the DC cops are learning) if you don't step over the line once or twice, you lose sight of where the line is.
David Harsanyi has a great piece in Reason about what childish nonsense this is in a time when we have real problems.
If you were a convention delegate in 1778, would you have voted to ratify the Constitution of the United States?
If the answer is yesóand you don't hate America, do you?!óit's only fair we conclude that you support restricting voting rights to male landowners exclusively. Surely, from your position, we can also deduce that you support slavery.
Now, if the answer is nay on ratification, we will take this to mean that you oppose a document that provided the infrastructure for more long-term liberty and prosperityófor all racesóthan any other in history.
Creating racists is really no problem at all.
The truth about Rand Paul is that the other side has won before the players take the field.
Politicians have succeeded in whittling down the small square of what is permitted to talk about.
Raise the retiring age for Social Security? You can't talk about that! Privatization? Market Solutions? They're too far out of the mainstream for an electable candidate to mention.
And how's that working? We have 536 elected officials who all fit into that teeny little box. None can think that perhaps private companies should be allowed to do very vile things and face market instead of Federal resistance. This country's being run by the folks who fit into that little box. And let me answer my own rhetorical; question -- it ain't working at all.
I'm a Goldwaterite and sympathetic to the pre-refuted Rand Paul position, as is John Stossel.. Likewise, I have heard many thoughtful comments that say he is (was) wrong.
Fine and good. But, Jupiter Savage, why can we not discuss it? All a TV pundit or opponent has to do is to solemnly intone "he doesn't even support the Civil Rights Act" and sadly roll his eyes.
We get the government we deserve, and if we're going to continue staying within the ever shrinking box, we're going to get the same results.
I've made it well known around here that I consider the anti-abortion plank of the Republican Platform to be an electoral albatross. I know a vast majority of Republicans disagree with me, but now at least they're being asked the question. Among the 59 Resolutions which delegates were asked to vote on, sandwiched between #31: It is resoved that Colorado Republicans support overturning Roe v. Wade; and #33: It is resolved that Colorado Republicans oppose the use of public funds for destructive embryonic stem-cell research; was this gem:
32) It is resolved by Colorado Republicans that pregnancy, abortion, and birth control are personal private matters not subject to government regulation or interference.
Just ponder that for a minute. Republicans are being asked if Americans are actually capable of taking care of their own lives and decisions without assistance from a nanny-state government. What a concept.
At least one delegate was greatly offended. He fashioned a hand-written sign on a stick that read "VOTE NO ON 32!" and sat in his chair on the floor of the hall and waved it rhythmically. I let slip a wry grin.
But the greater significance of this question, to me, is that some Republican district somewhere in Colorado must have passed this resolution by majority vote for it to appear on the statewide resolution list. Glory be.
Or else, taxpaying Americans are going to escape! NYTimes:
WASHINGTON ó Amid mounting frustration over taxation and banking problems, small but growing numbers of overseas Americans are taking the weighty step of renouncing their citizenship.
ďWhat we have seen is a substantial change in mentality among the overseas community in the past two years,Ē said Jackie Bugnion, director of American Citizens Abroad, an advocacy group based in Geneva. ďBefore, no one would dare mention to other Americans that they were even thinking of renouncing their U.S. nationality. Now, it is an openly discussed issue.Ē
The Federal Register, the government publication that records such decisions, shows that 502 expatriates gave up their U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status in the last quarter of 2009. That is a tiny portion of the 5.2 million Americans estimated by the State Department to be living abroad.
Still, 502 was the largest quarterly figure in years, more than twice the total for all of 2008, and it looms larger, given how agonizing the decision can be. There were 235 renunciations in 2008 and 743 last year. Waiting periods to meet with consular officers to formalize renunciations have grown.
I'm guessing y'all have seen this, but I feel compelled to post.
AN overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a yearís hard work. Now Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer.
Under the scheme, British pensioners could be given cut-price trips to Spain, while Greek teenagers could be taken around disused mills in Manchester to experience the cultural diversity of Europe.
David Leonhardt at the New York Times has looked at the situation carefully. The right wing blogs (huh?) and talk radio are all abuzz that 47% don't pay any Federal Income Tax. Well, that's true but not really important. The important thing is the clear need to raise taxes on the rich.
The answer is that tax rates almost certainly have to rise more on the affluent than on other groups. Over the last 30 years, rates have fallen more for the wealthy, and especially the very wealthy, than for any other group. At the same time, their incomes have soared, and the incomes of most workers have grown only moderately faster than inflation.
So a much greater share of income is now concentrated at the top of distribution, while each dollar there is taxed less than it once was. It's true that raising taxes on the rich alone can't come close to solving the long-term budget problem. The deficit is simply too big. But if taxes are not increased for the wealthy, the country will be left with two options.
It will have to raise taxes even more than it otherwise would on everybody else. Or it will have to find deep cuts in Medicare, Social Security, military spending and the other large (generally popular) federal programs.
We clearly cannot cut spending on a program that is popular. And we clearly cannot make 47% of the country actually pay taxes. Damn, we're out of options.
Professor Mankiw suggests that Leonhardt is dismissive of the effects of tax rates as incentives or disincentives to the wealthy.
Over the past half century, the top marginal tax rate has fallen from 91 percent in the 1950s and early 1960s to 35 percent today. Thus, the amount a person gets to keep at the margin has risen from 9 percent to 65 percent, that is, by a factor of 7.2. If the elasticity of taxable income with respect to 1-t is one, as some studies find for high-income taxpayers, then the incomes of the rich would have risen by a factor of 7.2 as well. If the elasticity is one-half, then their incomes would have risen by a factor of 2.7. In either case, the change in pretax income attributable to the tax cuts is substantial.
By comparison, the incomes of the superrich (top 0.01 percent), as a share of total income, increased by a factor of about 5 over this period. So, it seems that for plausible elasticities, a significant portion of that increase can potentially be explained by the cuts in the top marginal tax rate.
With tea party sentiment in full swing, I'm thinking that the first principles argument is actually stronger than the Laffer curve argument. You can credibly call that bass-ackwards. With our debt scenario, tax reduction would be a powerful aid to growth and the resulting prosperity would be the best chance to fund the debt.
I just believe that ideals of liberty, real fairness, and anti-confiscatory sentiment are ascendant right now. The better answer to Leonhardt is "No, we don't want to be slaves to the state" rather than "the elasticity might be as high as 1:1."
Well worth a watch in full, but one statistic in there blew me away. The time spent on tax compliance is equivalent to four million full time workers. How rich would we be with the houses, cars, computers, video games and guitar amplifiers that four million full time workers could produce?
If the last great hope is to have a last great hope, we'll need -- not just another 1994 -- but a 1946. Michael Barone explains:
In the off-year election of 1946, Republicans gained 13 seats in the Senate and emerged with a 51Ė45 majority there, the largest majority that they enjoyed between 1930 and 1980. They gained 55 seats in the House, giving them a 246Ė188 majority in that body, the largest majority they have held since 1930.
Of course, the political climate was completely different:
Polls from 1937 to 1940 saw majorities opposing Rooseveltís never-enacted ĎThird New Dealí and supporting cuts in government spending, favoring curbs in the power of labor unions, and opposing welfare programs.
Democrats in 1945Ė1946 were closely allied with labor unions, which were deeply involved in politics and were avidly seeking more members and more bargaining power.
Would an historic GOP landslide be worth anything to liberty lovers? I'd have to say in context, yes. They might booger everything up, but it would be a powerful signal against government expansion.
I heard this this morning on TeeVee and almost fell out of bed. Senator John McCain is demanding National Guard troops on the border.
We all have a few things about Senator McCain that drive us completely mad. One thing that I always appreciated was his "Profile in Courage" to stand up for what I think to be the right position on immigration. He took an unpopular, minority position and stood up to an extremely vocal wing of his party, because he thought it was right.
He watered his position a bit for the GOP nomination, but that is politics and I remained on-board. Now Stacy McCain accuses him of "Get[ting] in Touch With His Inner Tom Tancredo" in advance of a primary challenge from Rep J.D. Hayworth.
Yeah, and we know that John McCain is sincere about his newfound border-security concerns, right? All that stuff a few years ago calling his critics hatemongering xenophobes Ė just kiddiní guys, hahaha.
I'm the lonesome guy on immigration round these parts, but I invite ThreeSourcers to look at the ability to stand for principle and not the principle itself.
I am truly disgusted and feel, for the first time, that Brother jg is perhaps right that we are better of having had President Obama win the 2008 election.
I just wish some people had a knob on them that you could turn down. I have seen a few videos from this guy, Jason Mattera, and they are close to genius. His MO is to complement a legislator as he/she passes in the hallway. Target immediately shifts to "accept fawning" mode and is completely unprepared for a tough question. It's Brilliant!
And yet, Mattera needs a knob to dial him back from 11 to eight. He is completely out of line to refer to a (sortof) elected member of the US Senate as "Senator Smalley." That is out of line, plus Senator Franken has valid points on both his opportunity to answer the question as well as possible misrepresentation of the bill's contents.
Ouch -- I am scoring this 2-0 for Senator Franken who may not be "Minnesota Nice" but is certainly not "unhinged."
Roughly a year after inauguration of America's most radically leftist president in history, in the wake of a year of grassroots outrage popularly monikered TEA Parties, a pair of "documentary filmmakers and political activists" formed "an alternative to the Tea Party Movement" - the "Coffee Party USA."
By failing to notice the capitalization of all three letters in the word TEA the authors of the linked Wikipedia entry, and likely the Coffee Party USA organizers themselves, fail to recognize that the TEA Party phenomenon is not just about dumping tea into a metaphorical government harbor - it's about being Taxed Enough, Already!
But it isn't just the name that Coffee Statists have wrong, it's the philosophy.
Its mission states that it is based on the underlying principle that the government is "not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges we face as Americans."
TEA Partiers participate in the democratic process but since there is no such thing as "collective will" outside the writings of Karl Marx they seek to address the challenges we face as individual Americans. Today, more than ever before, productive Americans are challenged by a government that forcibly confiscates individual earnings in the name of "helping the people." Unfortunately, they do the former much more efficiently than the latter.
So what does COFFEE stand for? While waiting for the founders to enlighten us we can at least offer our own interpretations. Mine is 'Confiscate Ownership Freedom From Every Entrepreneur.'
For people who like to think of themselves in ideological, rather than party-based, political terms, ObamaCare is a hard lesson. When push comes to shove, political parties matter, quite a bit. Any Republican who, say, voted for Jim Webb as a sensible, hard-nosed Democrat over George Allen, a bumbling, embarrassment of a Republican, is now confronted with the stern truth about the power of parties. To paraphrase the great Midge Decter, at the end of the day you have to join the side you're on.
I hear the pragmatism theme song swelling up in the background...
I'd be unpleasant enough to suggest that Libertarians in Montana gave us Jon Tester. The Organic Farmer beat Incumbent Senator Conrad Burns by less than 4000 votes, and Libertarian Stan Jones got 10,377.
Not that one Senator would have made much of a diff -- no, wait...
Harold Ford, Jr., who had considered following Hillary Clinton from the South to carpetbag his way into the Senate from New York, has decided not run after all. In an op-ed in yesterday's NYT, Ford explains why. If The Refugee may be so bold as to summarize, his reasoning goes something like this: "The Senate and the Democrats are in big trouble and New Yorkers are clamoring for change. The current Democrat establishment that created the mess needs to be swept out or nothing will change. That's why I'm not running so that the current Democrat establishment can maintain the status quo."
I was going to make this an "Otequay of the Ayday" post but there were too many good quotes. Glenn Beck keynoted this year's CPAC conference. It was brilliant. He told Republicans it's time to say, "I'm sorry."
"It is still morning in America, it just happens to be kind of a head pounding, hung over, vomiting for four hours kind of morning in America."
Why? Progressivism. And it's in both parties.
"I'm so sick of hearing people say, 'Oh, well, Republicans are going to solve it all.' Really? It's just Progressive Lite. (...) Progressivism is the cancer in America and it is eating our Constitution. And it was designed to eat the Constitution. To 'progress past' the Constitution."
"This is the cancer that is eating at America. It is big government. It's a socialist utopia. And we need to address it as if it is a cancer. It must be cut out of the system because they cannot coexist. And you don't cure cancer by, 'Well, I'm just gonna give you a little bit of cancer.' You must eradicate it.
"Dick Cheney, a couple of days ago, was here and he says, 'It's gonna be a good year for conservative ideas.' That's true. That's very true. It's gonna be a very good year, but it's not enough just to not suck as much as the other side."
He then played on his own battle with alcohol addiction and mocked the Republican party with the first step of the Twelve Step program: "Hello, my name is the Republican Party and I've got a problem. I'm addicted to spending and big government."
Watch the video to see what he said about the Big Tent concept, and many, many other good points. Like American citizens giving ten times the charitable contributions of France ... per capita. And the depression of 1920 as compared to the "Great Depression." And Calvin Coolidge versus Woodrow Wilson.
Hat tip for the vid link to a critical Ryan Witt at examiner.com.
Some good comments there and he promises to "fact check" Beck's speech "later today."
Insty links (and at 11:55 MST the Instalanche seems to have overwhelmed the petition signing process) to the Mount Vernon Statement. Some enjoyed the One Sentence Tea Party manifesto last week, but if you like a little more meat on the bone, I recommend this. Highly.
We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.
These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.
Obama's critics keep blasting him for Chicago-style politics. So, fine. Channel your inner Al Capone and go gangsta against your foes. Let 'em know that if they aren't with you, they are against you, and will pay the price.
Must read lead editorial in the WSJ today. If you have to subscribe to read it, pony up!
NYAG Andrew Cuomo has filed a fraud lawsuit against Bank of America joining as the WSJ Ed Page declares "the long queue of politicians blaming bankers as the chief culprits in creating the financial panic and recession"
But they click on over to the Housing and Urban Development web site. Take a moment and imagine explaining to the ghost of James Madison that we have a Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and that it is contained in the Executive Branch... I digress. Here's an item from the HUD accomplishments during AG Cuomo's tenure as HUD Chief under President Clinton.
HUD's Web visitors learn that in 1999 "Secretary Cuomo established new Affordable Housing Goals requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Macótwo government sponsored enterprises involved in housing financeóto buy $2.4 trillion in mortgages in the next 10 years. This will mean new affordable housing for about 28.1 million low- and moderate-income families. The historic action raised the required percentage of mortgage loans for low- and moderate-income families that the companies must buy from the current 42 percent of their total purchases to a new high of 50 percentóa 19 percent increaseóin the year 2001."
Damned, fat cat bankers!
The good part of this story is that I have been overwhelmed of late with nostalgia for the Clinton days. Spending was down, Buffy was on, NAFTA and GATT were kicking in -- as was China's MFN and WTO status. Yeah, he was boning the interns (Umm, that would depend on what the definition of "boning" is...) but IPOs were happening and life was good.
It is worth remembering that Al-Qaedaís growth was unabated and that these seeds of future economic troubles were being sown. Hey, I still take him any day of the week over the present occupant, but the pleasant, silver-haired magistrate of bonhomie we see helping the Haitians is always pitched as being better than his successor. I'm not buying.
But Tancredo, a committed protectionist and anti-immigration crusader, would have been equally disastrous. Itís too bad that the Tea Party would open their first ďofficialĒ convention with a politician who so ferociously opposes one of the key tenets of the capitalism. Fact is, committed socialists and Tancredo have plenty to agree on. -- David Harsanyi
My hope for the TEA Party convention does not match my hopes for the TEA Party movement.
UPDATE: Blog friend Terri and I do not see eye-to-eye on immigration, but she's no happier with Rep. Tancreado's speech:
If Tom Tancredo is the ďfaceĒ of the Tea Party movement, then the tea party movement is dead. Heís pretty certain we should have Jim Crow laws for voting.
ďPeople who could not even spell the word Ďvoteí or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House,Ē he said.
Where you getting all this economic freedom all the sudden Canada? Just happen to find it laying around in the snow somewhere? Well it turns out weíve recently misplaced a good deal of it around here. A little suspicious if you ask me. -- Adam Ozimek
What is a RINO? As JK and I agreed, it depends who you ask. I suggested we'd agree with the definition used by the TEA Party movement but that's more than a bit nebulous since it's a movement and not a party organization. For the sake of argument, let's consider the commendable platform of the Boston Tea Party:
Platform of the Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.
Being a "black-and-white" type of guy myself I like this concise expression of a consistent policy that is applied to every issue. But where jk would probably see "reduce the scope and power of government to limit illegal immigration" I would instead point to Article I, Sections 8 and 9 and say that establishing and enforcing laws regarding migration and naturalization are Constitutional functions of government. As is the repelling of invasions.
Ultimately though, I don't see this platform standing the test of time. If the scope of the movement is allowed to creep beyond taxes, regulations and government spending it is doomed to fragment and fall through the policy planks of the established GOP and DNC parties. I'll take an impromptu swipe at a better TEA Party Platform:
Platform of the _____ TEA Party
In order to promote a just and sustainable civil society in the United States, the ____ TEA Party supports the requirement of Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution that all direct taxes be apportioned among the states according to their representative numbers and, in so keeping, calls upon the state legislatures to ratify a constitutional amendment repealing the 16th amendment.
Furthermore, the Party supports a robust exercise of Judicial power to constrain the Executive and Legislative branches to the letter and spirit of the United States Constitution, most importantly in regard to regulation of commerce and expenditures from the national treasury.
Thomas Sowell wants to know why Republicans haven't given more thought to winning the black vote."If they get 20 percent of the black vote, the Democrats are in trouble-- and if they get 30 percent, the Democrats have had it in the general election."
Many of the key constituencies of the Democratic Party-- the teachers' unions, the trial lawyers, and the environmentalists, for example-- have agendas whose net effect is to inflict damage on blacks. Urban Renewal destroys mostly minority neighborhoods and environmentalist restrictions on building homes make housing prices skyrocket, forcing blacks out of many communities. The number of blacks in San Francisco has been cut in half since 1970.
But, unless Republicans connect the dots and lay out the facts in plain English, these facts will be like the tree that fell in an empty forest without being heard.
He has some good practical advice. "The teachers' unions are going to be against the Republicans, whether Republicans hammer them or keep timidly quiet. Why not talk straight to black voters... Blacks have been lied to so much that straight talk can gain their respect, even if they don't agree with everything you say." Come to think of it, that last part applies to voters of any race. Just ask Scott Brown.
Until April of last year many considered Senators John McCain and Arlen Specter to be RINOs based on their support for signature Democrat policies in the areas of immigration, global warming and campaign finance among others. Specter's announcement that he was switching back to the Democrat party after 44 years made big news, but John McCain stealthily embarked on another track. First he reversed his support for cap and trade. Then he bumper-hitched the Tea Party movement and started befriending candidates like Scott Brown and voting against the Obamagenda. Now, he's in pretty good shape to hold his own seat in the senate with campaign endorsements and appearances by his former running mate Sarah Palin and even the newly minted junior senator from Massachusetts.
This goes mostly to show that McCain was never as much a RINO as Specter but also that Arlen seriously misread the staying power of the Obama Express. Losing the presidential election and inspiring some primary challengers seem to have rekindled McCain's conservative sensabilities. I'm already willing to predict that McCain's strategy will succeed and he'll be re-elected in November. And I'm even OK with it. He is a war hero, after all. (I just hope he'll remember what he really believes in if he ever again becomes a media darling.)
Why would you hand the keys to the car back to the same guys whose policies drove the economy into the ditch and then walked away from the scene of the accident?-- Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) (via Ann Althouse, Jonah Goldberg, FOXNews, Instapundit, &c.)
In a short ThreeSources discussion, jg commented that "If putting the Democrat majority leader of the Senate on the defensive for a few cycles can help keep them from peaking too soon, so be it." It's hard to argue with that, but my concern is that we are adopting the victimologists principles and rhetoric.
Richwine asks how the GOP can govern when it makes short term plays like demanding Reid's resignation and foreswearing Medicare cuts.
Senator Reidís remarks, unremarkable as they were, should have elicited no comment whatsoever from GOP leaders. Instead, party chairman Michael Steele called for Reid to resign his leadership post. Why is this bad? Because for decades the Left has attempted to enforce a strict set of rules regarding what may be publicly stated about race. We are safe if we stick to platitudes like ďdiversity is our strength,Ē but any critique of affirmative action or mention of racial differences is immediately suspected to be insensitive, intolerant, or just plain racist. For conservatives to make progress on racial issues, it is essential that the boundaries of the debate be expanded to allow a more open discussion.
Steeleís extreme over-reaction is a surrender to political correctness, just for the sake of having a talking point to emphasize for a few days. Republicans will never have anything useful to say about racial issues if they allow the Congressional Black Caucus and NAACP to set the terms of the debate. Yet that could easily be the long-term effect of their latest rhetorical misadventure.
Mike Huckabee never looked so good as he has since becoming a regular contributor on Fox News Channel. This flattering exposure has concerned me since he might harbor ambitions for another presidential run. So I'm pleased to see someone I'd actually want to run now following his lead:
ThreeSourcers should enjoy their six weeks of Silence Dogood. Our favorite left-of-center commenter has posted some interesting items today, including this, which I had not heard before:
The real term limits we need - limits on time as a committee chair. Stay in congress as long as you like (and can get elected). But you have to do it on more than your ability to deliver pork through the power of a committee chair.
I like that a lot. I am very torn on term limits. They seem arbitrary and counter to liberty. And yet, the problems of incumbency...
Next March, College basketball will take him away. So like I say, enjoy while you can!
The Tea Party Patriots (very official spokespeople for the movement as they have Facebook, Ning, and Twitter accounts) renounce the move to create a Judean People's Front Party. Good for them.
There is much talk of the formation of a third political party based on the tea party movement. In Florida, a Democratic operative with absolutely no connection to the tea party movement has filed papers to form a third party called the Florida Tea Party. He has issued legal threats against local tea parties demanding that they cease using the name "Florida Tea Party."
Tea Party Patriots is issuing this statement in order to make it clear that we are not associated with this, or any attempts to form a third party. Additionally, we believe that such efforts are unproductive and unwise at this time. The history of third party movements in this country is one of division and defeat. We believe that it is instead time for all Americans to rise up and demand appropriate reform within their own parties. The mechanisms exist for citizens to participate in their parties, and to drive their parties in the right direction.
The Tea Party Patriots encourage all citizens to get involved in the party process, and to reshape their parties into something in which they may once again believe. This country does not belong to any one party, nor does it belong to the career politicians. This country belongs to the citizens. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "We have given you a republic madam, if you can keep it." The founders knew that it would be our sacred obligation as citizens to get involved, and to work hard to hold on to this great nation. We have much work to do, and future generations will look back in judgment. We hope you will join us in preserving the republic.
Some are calling it the best chance to stop ObamaCare. I gave $50 and follow @ScottBrownMA on Twitter.
And that was before I saw how cute his daughters are! You want to make a difference, I don't think this is a bad place to start. The national GOP has given up but some bloggers are thinking of making it a race, He's nine points down, and the race is in Massachusetts, but...
An anecdote and a WSJ column add to the same sad conclusion. As the lamp of liberty is extinguished in the US, the lamp of prosperity dims concomitantly (boy if we had an editor around here, sentences like that would be struck or fixed...)
At lunch with two socialists and two dyed-in-the-wool American progressives last Sunday. I kept my mouth shut until the virtues of Michael Moore's "Sicko" came up. This was more than I could bear. "...and you go to the cashier after your doctor's visit and they give YOU money!" I snapped -- I waved my chopsticks in the air (it was dim sum) and said "and the money comes from faeries waving magic wands! They don't tax anybody or anything!"
It was all good natured and I got a little lecture on how socialism has "worked" in France for 60 years. But then my Parisian friend said something which did bug me. "Nobody there wants to come here anymore. My friends and family used to be jealous and they all wanted to come here. Now nobody does."
That line has stuck in my head. At one level it was a debating point, but the sentiment was real. Why would you? In a down economy, the world's highest corporate tax rates and a shining new era of increased regulation, why indeed?
You didn't come to ThreeSources to hear jk bash the USA (Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?) so I will pass the baton. Dana Matioli of the Wall Street Journal careers section says With Fewer U.S. Opportunities, Home Looks Appealing to Expats. Unemployment, Visa issues and more dynamic economies in their home countries are luring ex-pats back. Matioli cites examples from Australia, Germany and Asia.
I have a goofy idea, but it is a good idea. Here is a new way to raise campaign cash:
Create a "Director's Level" ("Wonk's Level," whatever..) and members who donate a certain $$$ get put on a special list that will receive -- how can I put this -- not-completely-idiotic campaign literature.
I have received a couple copies of an email from Jane Norton. She is running against Senator Bennet in 2010. I want to support her. I want her to win, but I really can't handle these emails. I know we all get 100s electronic and print:
As blog pragmatist, I understand that she cannot win by a 100% pure appeal to higher philosophical virtues (though she could do a little better than this letter). And yet, I am tired of being treated like a child. AND, I am wiling to pony up a certain amount ($250, maybe $500) to get emails that are substantive and targeted at somebody with a knowledge of politics and government that is not third-grade populism.
I'd like to receive her serious thoughts on health care at a level that would be suitable for readers of this blog. And I'd pay for the privilege.
Michael Steele, same offer buddy, I'm not three and your vehicles are causing me to contribute less than I would normally.
UPDATE: I conflated Jane Norton with Gale Norton (since corrected). ThreeSources apologizea for any inconvenience.
Having wished out loud here for a conservative candidate like Sarah Palin to advocate limited government in the economic AND the social spheres I was naturally pleased to hear evangelical Christian Kevin Miller talk about his new effort to "reestablish crucial commonality and shared success among social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, libertarians and all freedom-cherishing Americans." (Hey, that got your attention din't it!)
Christians know from the New Testament that virtue is not accomplished even by Biblical law ó so how much more powerless is civil law to create virtue? No national government can achieve both freedom and virtue: neither will be accomplished ...
Virginia is one of two states that elect statewide officials a year after presidential elections, and in the governor's race, Republican Bob McDonnell looks to win big over Democrat Creigh Deeds. (We're not sure whether Creigh rhymes with "gay" or "brie.")
That will certainly be the spin, and I am not disposed to contradict it. New York Republicans ran a woman for whom RINO seems too kind. The Tea Party crowd came out big for the Conservative Party candidate and was pitted against the GOP establishment in the person of Speaker Gingrich (praise be upon the 104th Congress).
Yesterday, the polls turned toward the Conservative candidate and today:
Republican Dede Scozzafava has suspended her bid in next Tuesdayís NY 23 special election, a huge development that dramatically shakes up the race. She did not endorse either of her two opponents -- Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman or Democrat Bill Owens.
The decision to suspend her campaign is a boost for Hoffman, who already had the support of 50 percent of GOP voters, according to a newly-released Siena poll, and is now well-positioned to win over the 25 percent of Republicans who had been sticking with Scozzafava.
Instapundit had highlighted a suggestion by blogger Bill Quick for Scozzafava to drop out. I could not understand why she would -- in solidarity for a candidate she didn't agree with? That's like saying "jk, if you'd just shut up, we could pass socialized medicine." "Well, all right then..."
In all the hubbub, I confess that I have not paid a lot of attention to Hoffman's views. Many of his big supporters are a bit more populist than I am, but they say he's the real deal (for example, I cite St. Louis blogger/talk show host Dana Loesch).
If every journey begins with a single step, I would call this one significant.
Your cousin comes at you with an email, you reply with an IBD editorial,
She sends you an AP link, you mail her a copy of Atlas Shrugged.
It's the Chicago Way...
I have heard "The Chicago Way" many times (they even had it on the Irish TV series "Ballykissangel"), but I never knew where it was from. Kim Strassel provides a citation, quotes it, and then compares it to the Obama Administration. Great stuff and another Friday jk link to Strassel won't surprise nobody.
But my blog brother was looking for examples of "disingenuousness" from the President. And I feel the biggest bait-and-switch was the promise of "a new kind of politics" that is post-partisan, post-racial, post-political, post-toasties, &c. Candidate/Senator Obama promised Gandhi; President Obama gives us a cross between Nixon and Al Capone.
What makes these efforts notable is that they are not the lashing out of a frustrated political operation. They are calculated campaigns, designed to create bogeymen, to divide the opposition, to frighten players into compliance. The White House sees a once-in-a-generation opportunity on health care and climate. It is obsessed with winning these near-term battles, and will take no prisoners. It knows that CEOs are easily intimidated and (Fox News ratings aside) it is getting some of its way. Besides, roughing up conservatives gives the liberal blogosphere something to write about besides Guantanamo.
The Oval Office might be more concerned with the long term. It is 10 months in; more than three long years to go. The strategy to play dirty now and triangulate later is risky. One day, say when immigration reform comes due, the Chamber might come in handy. That is if the Chamber isn't too far gone.
White House targets also aren't dopes. The corporate community is realizing that playing nice doesn't guarantee safety. The health executives signed up for reform, only to remain the president's political piŮatas. It surely grates that the unionsónow running their own ads against ObamaCareóhaven't been targeted. If the choice is cooperate and get nailed, or oppose and possibly win, some might take that bet.
There's also the little fact that many Americans voted for this president in thrall to his vow to bring the country together. It's hard to do that amid gunfire, and voters might just notice.
It's Kim Strassel -- ya gotta read da whole thing, wheddah you's from Chicago er not.
"Itís a mistake," said Rep. Jason Altmire, a moderate Democrat from western Pennsylvania. "I think itís beneath the White House to get into a tit for tat with news organizations."
Altmire was talking about the Obama administrationís efforts to undercut Fox News. But he said his remarks applied just the same to White House efforts to marginalize the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobby targeted for its opposition to climate change legislation.
"Thereís no reason to gratuitously piss off all those companies," added another Democrat, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia. "The Chamber isnít an opponent."
From the NYT's coverage of Palin's speech in Asia:
A number of people who heard the speech in a packed hotel ballroom, which was closed to the media, said Mrs. Palin spoke from notes for 90 minutes and that she was articulate, well-prepared and even compelling.
Don Surber highlights a Rasmussen poll. Voters provided a Q-Rating (favorable - unfavorable) of occupations:
No. 1 Small Business Owners at +91 (94% favorable/3% unfavorable).
No. 2 People Who Start Own Business at +87
No. 3 Pastors and Religious Leaders at +48
No. 4 Bankers at -1
No. 5 Journalists at -11
No. 6 Lawyers at -12
No. 7 Stockbrokers and Financial Analysts at -13
No. 8 CEOs -42
No. 9 Members of Congress at -47 (25% favorable/72% unfavorable).
Surber says "Iím thinking swine flu could give Congress a run for the money." Good line, but I wonder how? how? how? voters (those polled) continue to elect politicians who steep more money, power, and privilege to Congress (-47) and away from small business owners (+91). Huh?
There's a new writer climbing the charts for jk's favorite: Ms. Shikha Dalmia. I really enjoyed her Dear GOP: Choose Liberty piece -- I think that's the first I read -- and she's had several solid columns after that. (Would it be unprofessional to mention that she is rather attractive? Ha! Made you click!)
Today she captures both the substantive flaws of the Presidents speech and the overarching stylistic one. In Put Up And Shut Up! She calls Wednesday's address "the policy equivalent of the middle finger."
I'm still auditioning to be the nice one and the reasonable one around here. "Mutual Forbearance!" is my Van Burenesque toast. I try to give political opponents the benefit of the doubt.
But Wednesday, I was home doing my best Rep. Joe Wilson through the whole speech. I was angry and tortured throughout. Anybody who disagrees with his plan for more government is spreading lies or in the pocket of lobbyists or, when he is feeling charitable, "misinformed." There are no legitimate injections to his magic pony* that will cost nothing, fix every problem, provide more for less, streamline everything and is completely safe for even your most delicate fabrics.
I did feel I was getting flipped off Wednesday, and you could tell the GOP caucus did too.
*"Magic pony" is the perfect description of the ObamaCare plan and it comes from another favorite writer of mine. She who shall not be named, but it rhymes with Beggin' Sack-Card-All."
Insty links to two Below The Beltway posts today, One asserting that "Yes, Virginia (and the other 49), President Obama will raise taxes on the middle class." I know ThreeSourcers will be stunned at the unexpected news.
The other compares Candidate/Senator Obama's assertions to Candidate/VP GHW Bush's famous "Read my Lips" moments. He's got YouTube clips of both, which is fun.
But he suggests, and Professor Reynolds implicitly endorses, the idea that this will be as big a problem for President Obama. To which I say "Balderdash!" (sorry for the strong language). Nobody in the world actually believed Obama when he said that. The collectivists in his camp enjoyed using it to silence those of us who could add, but they knew their "promises" of more government were likely to be kept and, well, if he had to renege on one, it would be taxes.
Candidate Bush -- on the other hand -- was a Reagan heir, and he was reassuring the GOP faithful that he had been baptized in the Lafferian Waters and could be trusted. Stephen Moore documented the failure in 1987. Some folks had actually believed his pledge.
Too cynical? Surely the GOP will try to make the comparison -- but without the underlying sell out, I don't think they'll get much traction
Jennifer Rubin has an awesome column, hoping that the GOP can take advantage of the libertarian interest that the Obama Administration has perhaps rekindled.
The contrast between the parties is especially great for young voters who were swayed to vote for the hip, young guy over the grumpy senior citizen in 2008. It turns out the hip guy wants to force them to buy health insurance, load debt and an enormous future tax burden on their backs, and raise energy prices. Itís not very 21st century. As Michael Barone observed after ticking off the list of statist policies at the core of the Obama agenda, ďThe larger point is this: You want policies that will enable you to choose your future. Obama backs policies that would let centralized authorities choose much of your future for you. Is this the hope and change you want?Ē
Great piece. Read it in full, especially if you are Michael Steele or are a Republican office holder.
Chris Edwards at CATO, gives RNC Chief Michael Steele, a well deserved whack. Steele goes straight for the Medicare demagoguery vote. Do not pass first principles, do not collect $200:
Steele uses the mushy statist phrasing ďour seniorsĒ repeatedly, as if the government owns this group of people, and that they should have no responsibility for their own lives.
Fiscal conservatives, who have come out in droves to tea party protests and health care meetings this year, are angry at both parties for the governmentís massive spending and debt binge in recent years. Mr. Steele has now informed these folks loud and clear that the Republican Party is not interested in restraining government; it is not interested in cutting the program that creates the single biggest threat to taxpayers in coming years. For apparently crass political reasons, Steele defends ďour seniors,Ē but at the expense of massive tax hikes on ďour childrenĒ if entitlement programs are not cut.
Hat-tip: @ariarmstrong whom I've recommended a couple times this week as a great Twitter follow.
We'd all like to rise above partisan hackery, but I think that some "pure" libertarians have to witness what happens when you give the Democratic Party both houses and the Presidency. Any of those initiatives would be in serious jeopardy were any of the three under GOP control.
I enjoyed this clip and recommend it if you've got nine minutes to spare.
Reynolds is as close to my pragmatism as any figure I can name and makes good points about the Republican Party (hope Mr. Gillespie was listening) and the libertarian versus social conservative contretemps we enjoy around here.
The Grand Old Party has taken some well deserved whacks on this blog. All have looked for ways to return the Republicans' devotion to limited government.
But I watch the Democrats on Sunday shows and I simply cannot see the Democratic party as a serious option for those who value liberty. I always want to ask those who voted for so-called Blue Dogs "how's that working out for you?" Well, Merrill Matthews does it for me in a guest editorial in today's WSJ. He examines the caucusís votes on four big spending bills and finds few that bucked Speaker Pelosi and leadership.
Republicans have long called themselves fiscal conservatives. But after their spending spree in the first six years of the Bush administration, they are widely perceived to have tarnished their brand.
Are the Blue Dogs tarnishing their brand, too? If 80% of them voted for the stimulus bill and nearly 75% voted for the 2010 federal budget, can the group rightfully claim to be fiscally conservative?
The health-care bill will be the final test. The House legislation will cost at least $1 trillion over 10 years, including around $550 billion to $600 billion in new taxes. That doesnít count the employer mandate that will force employers to provide coverage or pay a penalty.
Still some good comments trickling in on our follow up post to JG's "On a New Conservatism" post.
In addition to this's being my favorite topic, I wanted to clarify my position on social conservatives. Blog friend Sugarchuck called this blog hostile to social conservatives and I suppose it is a fair cop.
SC: A copy of Hayek's "Constitution of Liberty" is on its way. Read the last chapter, "Why I am Not a Conservative" and then give the book to your daughter to read the rest of it. (I'm a Hayek fan and even I gotta admit parts are pretty turgid.) The good news is that you can read sections and don't have to go coast-to-coast.
I'll buy you a new set of Telecaster strings if you can show me a paragraph that would offend a social conservative. It's a discussion of the classical liberal and the conservatism he opposes is european monarchical conservatism, plus the Buckleyesque "standing athwart history yelling stop!"
I loved Bill Buckley and I loved National Review, but I always squirmed when I heard that phrase. I would not object to 19th Century freedoms -- but I don't want to live in the 19th Century. This essay is older than I am but it holds up well today.
My war is not with social conservatives, but with those who would use statist means to achieve their objectives. I'm the Frank Meyers of ThreeSources! We have a natural affiliation, mister social conservative -- limited, Constitutional government will allow you to pursue your religion and will allow me to pursue things which are important to me. Where we cross swords, let's agree to do it at the State level and using methods which support rule of law.
Professor Reynolds has had of nice run of "Who Were The Rubes," in which he reports on Obama supporters who have not been well served by his policies.
He links to Reason a lot and certainly has much philosophical overlap with them. But he has yet to give them a WWTR? They trashed Senator McCain in every issue, and Matt Welch had full page house ads for his anti-McCain book. As I've mentioned, that might be fair.
But it was certainly not fair to give then-Senator Obama a free pass. It was obvious that he sought an expanded role for government and a huge arrogation of power to the Executive Branch. They weren't sycofantish like some media outlets, but they were not at all tough on an obvious statist.
I think in the back of their minds they thought "this guy will suck at property rights and economics, but he'll end the Iraq War and will likely ease up on the War on Drugs." Rubes? Reason? Mirror:
Hey, remember all the speculation that Barack Obama might be, you know, better on pot issues than his various awful predecessors, partly because he, you know, bragged at times about inhaling ("that was the whole point")? As the liberals like to say, He won, get over it. And for those of us who value individual rights and a sane (not hysterical) drug policy, get over that too. Here's Obama's drug czar Gil Kerlikowske talking in Fresno, California yesterday:
"Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine," he said.
My On a New Conservatism post elicited concern from JK that kicking the big government conservatives out of the Republican Party would be an electoral mistake. I think we've discussed that quite a bit around here with no consensus opinion, but consider this historic quote that Hayek placed at the very top of his 'Why I am Not a Conservative' essay:
"At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition." - Lord Acton
Is this not an accurate description of what happens when big government conservatives are running the party?
Sorry, Children of David, you've been had. Alan Dershowitz writes in the WSJ Ed Page:
Many American supporters of Israel who voted for Barack Obama now suspect they may have been victims of a bait and switch. Jewish Americans voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama over John McCain in part because the Obama campaign went to great lengths to assure these voters that a President Obama would be supportive of Israel. This despite his friendships with rabidly anti-Israel characters like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and historian Rashid Khalidi.
At the suggestion of Mr. Obama's Jewish supporters -- including me -- the candidate visited the beleaguered town of Sderot, which had borne the brunt of thousands of rocket attacks by Hamas. Standing in front of the rocket shells, Mr. Obama declared: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing." This heartfelt statement sealed the deal for many supporters of Israel.
Dershowitz's IQ is probably three times mine. I've enjoyed several of his books and even though he has gone pretty far left in recent years, I always appreciated his commitment to personal civil liberties (if not property rights). But do they never listen to The Who? They get fooled again. Every Time.
Who (not, The Who, I have moved on from that) seriously thought that Obama would be a friend to Israel? I was very happy with his choice of Clinton for SecState because I felt she would balance out an administration that I was sure would be anti-Israel,
But they will get fooled again (back to The Who again). Every time.
About as fulsomely as I defended David Letterman, I'll give an eye-roll to an amusing example of your government's squandering almost half a million dollars. A good friend of this blog sends a link:
NIH Funds $423,500 Study of Why Men Donít Like to Use Condoms
In what government watchdogs are calling a waste of taxpayer money, the National Institutes of Health is spending nearly half a million dollars to determine why men donít like to wear condoms during sex.
Thatís only the start. You can be certain that once the researchers find out that men donít like condoms because a. they have to first think ahead and buy them b. actually put them on, and c. condoms donít feel the same as bare skin, which any conversation with any guy at the local bar could have told you, then weíll have to fund the billion-$ project to change behavior so everybody will be using condoms, whether they want to or not.
We'll not ask President Madison to lay any fingers on this post. Of course it is unconstitutional and of course I would get them to stop if I could.
But in the bigger picture of freedom's demise, this concerns me a lot less than expenses or regulation that destroy liberty. This represents a bit of research that should be done by the private(s) sector if it is done at all. But, beyond the theft of $423,500 it strikes me as a small threat.
We're socializing medicine and putting the Fed in charge of credit card interest and home mortgage options. The EPA will dictate energy usage, the FDA now controls the composition of cigarettes and seethes that it cannot design the Cheerios® box. If they want to waste a half million on this, or cow flatulence, or whatever the outrage du jour -- I'm happy to see them staying out of bigger trouble.
We've had a good run at the Letterman contrtemps and I think everybody knows where everybody stands.
Blog friend SugarChuck has this great riff he does and I hope he won't mind my paraphrasing. When somebody is discredited, sc says "Oh, he|she will go cry on Oprah and be back in a year." It is a little cynical but damned if it is not a universal law. (It applies only to the left-of-center, don't look for a reemergence of Senator Trent Lott or Senator Ensign.)
But I will bet the price of my depreciating condominium that we'll see both Senator John Edwards and Gov. Eliot Spitzer back. The corpses will still be warm. Mickey Kaus is doing his best to stop an Edwards rapprochement, but I fear he'll fail:
ohn Edwards thinks he can come back. And somehow in theoretically humble disgrace comes off as smugger and phonier than ever! (Sample: "The two things I'm on the planet for now are to take care of the people I love and to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves.") ...
MacGillis also buries a solid lede: The last web page of her piece features an impressive, reported survey of broken Edwards promises to various actual impoverished Americans--scholarship programs cancelled, Katrina foreclosure cases unaided--complete with victim quotes. ("I just thought he was trying to cover his tracks while he was a candidate. ... It was probably all for show in the end." ).
And unfortunately, Buckleyīs insecure rants against Rand retarded the intellectual progress of the right for decades.
The important point here involves Buckley, but it involves a lot more. The issue with Buckley is that he truly had nothing to contribute intellectually. And when faced with a true intellectual like Rand, all he could do was guttersnipe. Yet the wider point pertains to conservatism today.
Until it begins to intellectually justify itself in a logical way, conservatism will remain lost, and statism will continue its march. Rand provided the intellectual justification for capitalism and liberty and she did so by reference to the fundamental metaphysical facts of reality and human existence. She did not appeal to tradition or the supernatural. She appealed to the rational. And the public has been responding to her ever since.
Buckley and his cohorts brag about their electoral successes-"we elected Reagan" they chime. But what permanent changes have been made? The procession of the welfare state goes on. And who can stop it, people who say God went "poof" and then there were rights?
Rand made the case against the welfare state root and branch. She was the first to make a secular case against Communism and Socialism, and the first to make a fully secular defense of American values. The fact that her ideas were shut out by Buckley hurt the entire cause of Americanism.
I have an ongoing (~9 years now) argument with blog brother and token ThreeSources Democrat "Silence Dogood." He concedes that the left has socialists who threaten our economic freedom, but is surprised that I can sit still while some on the right are so deleterious to personal liberties. He is a bright guy and the arguments reach much higher subtlety, but he laughs that "he can handle the commies in his party better than the religious wackos in mine."
I try to be fair and have ceded a certain amount of relativism to Silence and other friends on the left who make the same argument. I don't see an equivalence, but I shrug my shoulders and stress my little-l beliefs.
Shannon Love, on da Chicago Boyz blog, offers this chart, and the suggestion that they are using sex to sell the loss of freedom. Here is Love's scorecard:
Being Mister Fair, I'd add a line for "Privacy" and give it to the left as well. But I find the other llines difficult to argue with, and that still gives the right wing wingnut wacko nutjobs a 13-2 freedom advantage over the left wing moonbats.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's comments at an Indiana right-to-life event yesterday are making a lot of news. And naturally most of it is slanted to portray her as an extreme pro-lifer who wants the government to eventually outlaw all abortions. But the comment I found most interesting isn't even being reported. While plenty of left-stream outlets are covering her candid admission that she considered aborting her son Trig when she learned he would likely be a Down's baby, I have yet to find an account that includes her conclusion that she was "happy with the choice she made." [When I find a video clip of this I'll link it here.]
UPDATE: Embedded below are parts 5 and 6 of the seven part account on YouTube, and I must admit that I misinterpreted her remarks. I think the part I paraphrased was this, from 2:47 into part 6-
"So I prayed that my heart would be filled up - what else did I have - I had to call upon my faith and ask that my heart be filled up, and I'll tell ya the moment that he was born I knew for sure that my prayer was answered, and my heart overflowed with joy."
But in making her own case for every pregnant woman to choose life for her unborn child, she did talk about how she enjoyed the freedoms of privacy and choice in the matter of her own pregnancy. Freedoms that some in the pro-life cause would take away.
Part 5, (2:50) On why she didn't tell anyone she was pregnant -
"It was just really though too, at the sweet sacred time, a secret between Todd and God and me. I figured that's all who needs to know."
Later Palin said she considered abortion when she first learned she was pregnant, while out of town "at an oil and gas conference" and again at 13 weeks when she learned that Trig had an extra chromosome and would likely be a Downs baby. She knew this because of the results of amniocentesis, an elective procedure, of which "only my doctor knew the results. Todd didn't even know."
Part 6 (0:28) -
"And friends here tonight, that faith was built on what I hear from you, Vandenburg Right to Life. The seeds that you plant in a heart with your kind and your adamant efforts that can grow into a good decision to choose life."
The significance of this is not what her choice was, but that SHE made the choice.
I expounded on this in a comment [or click on "continue reading"] to a Bonnie Erbe blog on the opportunity that Palin's remarks present to the Republican Party.
And as long as the GOP continues to let itself be dominated by atavist religious conservatives, it will keep its title as minority party for a long, long time.
In a specific way I agreed with this remark, and ended with an exhortation to the Alaska governor- I would like to see Sarah Palin campaign for President on the platform that "abortion is abominable, but government prohibition of it is worse."
My concern is that if she in particular doesn't stake out this position then nobody will be able to defend her as a viable presidential candidate. Any other Republican would do well to take the same approach, but for Palin I view it as essential.
- 3SourcesJG's complete Bonnie Erbe blog comment:
While listening to Governor Palin's live remarks I heard her say that after considering abortion briefly she, and I'm paraphrasing, "is happy with the choice that she made." But if Roe v. Wade is ever reversed and a single state outlaws abortion then women in that state won't have the right to MAKE that choice. Even Governor Palin, who I greatly admire and respect, might feel differently about her child if the state had forced her to give birth under force of law.
Abortion is the thorniest moral issue in contemporary politics, with the grayest of gray areas in dispute. Human life does not mean merely the physical act of breathing - it includes the rational thought process of self-determination. A human being who is not free to make his own choices in life is nothing more than an animal.
The choice to abort DOES result in the death of a human being but the right to life belongs first and foremost to the pregnant woman because she is an independent, self-sufficient individual. An unborn child with a parasitic relationship to that individual has no moral claim upon its host. It is a brutal fact of nature (whether you believe that nature was created by God or not) but without it we are not citizens, but subjects. The line to draw is not between when life begins and when it has not, but between whose rights take precedence.
And to this extent I believe Bonnie Erbe is right: To be a genuine majority party the GOP needs to "get out of people's bedrooms." Advocate for morality, yes, but do not attempt to use the power of government to enforce it. I would like to see Sarah Palin campaign for President on the platform that "abortion is abominable, but government prohibition of it is worse."
"Stunned by huge turnouts, GOP leaders seek to channel energy"
That's the sub-head on this Washington Times story following up the 4-15 TEA Parties. The media may not have noticed what happened that day, but at least a few Republican party officials did.
"This is an opportunity for the Republicans or an opportunity lost, depending on how quickly they act," said John Brabender, a Republican Party campaign strategist. "If Republicans don't take advantage of this opportunity, you are looking at the real birth of a third party in this country."
Blog brother T.Greer opined that the TEA Party turnout was "dismal" (comments 2 and 4) though in fairness, he hadn't yet had time to read my late breaking account of the Denver event. This Georgia Republican sees it differently, however:
"This has legs, no question. The sheer number of people who turned out for something like this in Atlanta was astounding," said James Sibold, former Republican Party chairman of Georgia's DeKalb County.
Despite murmurs of a third party growing out of this I personally believe the best outcome would be a retasking of the Republican party. It is "a republic, ma'am" after all that we're trying to keep. This Michigan GOPer seems to understand:
Michigan Republican Party chairman Ronald Weiser said it was critical that the party reach out those who went to Wednesday's rallies. "They will vote for Republicans if they believe we're responding to the change they want and the feelings they have," he said.
But to really appeal to the silent majority of Americans they'll also need to find a way to get the GOP platform out of people's bedrooms. Stand for moral behavior, yes, but don't try to make it the law. (More on this later.)
Twice as many now believe 'U.S. evolving into socialist state'
Before Obama was elected president a good friend disputed our impassioned arguments that America is becoming a socialist country. "I've been to Europe many times and I know what socialism looks like. We're not there and we're not going there anytime soon." Every time I see him I resist the urge to ask him about this again. But TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence has been asking, and compared the answers now to those from last August.
A thumbnail summary of the results is that among Republicans and independents, the group who believes America is becoming a socialist country has doubled (from 1/3 to 2/3 of Republicans and from 1/4 to 1/2 of independents). Democrats, more eager to support the ideology than speak its name, were more likely to see socialism in our future under Bush than Obama.
The link is a brief essay and explains the results of the larger poll as representing three groups: Undeclared Socialists, Passionate Capitalists, and Hybrid Deniers. (Worth reading just to see those in the squishy middle called "deniers.")
Most of us, I'm sure, are familiar with the idea that "left" vs. "right" or "liberal" vs. "conservative" are imprecise definitions of political philosophy. What I've promoted instead is that political structures are organized along a continuum from fully collectivized to complete individual liberty.
This excellent video presentation by YouTube's "notdemocracy" describes the balance as one between "total government" and "no government." Five basic types of government cover the spectrum: monarchy - oligarchy - democracy - republic - anarchy. But only two of these are "stable" forms of government: oligarchy and republic. The other three naturally evolve into one of those two. (Hint: Everything becomes an oligarchy except a republic.)
Readers who watch this will understand why I consider it so important to fight for the integrity of the original Constitution, which means removing antithetical amendments to it such as the 16th.
In reaction, Republicans, true to form, set sail for a deserted island to ponder a dispute between Rush Limbaugh and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. At issue: Who's captain of the GOP Titanic. -- Dan Henninger, in a great column "Has Obama Buried Reagan?"
I try to keep an open mind when some Democrat friends claim to be "libertarian." You can make a point that Democrats might be a little more open to gay marriage, extended immigration, civil liberties. I question how devoted they are to these purities compared to their devotion to socialism and bigger government. But the 109th Congress GOP wasn't very defensible, so I try to give some benefit of the doubt.
I cannot be so kind or sanguine when they say that Democrats are less likely to pursue the War on Drugs. William Bennett is always held up as a poster boy, but Reason reminds that now-VP Joe Biden created the "Drug Czar" position. And the little-l's dream that enforcement would be reduced by the hipper, younger administration is going -- if I may quote Tommy Chong -- "Up In Smoke:"
Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the arrest of 52 people in a continuation of a Bush Administration drug investigation of the Mexican cartels. The operation began 21 months ago. The total number of arrests (a number of whom are low level traffickers) is 750.
The military may get involved in the effort
Another Holder plan that should be no surprise: He wants to bring back the assault weapons ban.
Vote Democrat -- no property rights, no civil rights!
The System That Doesn't Choose Phil Gramm for President is Flawed
Senator Gramm tells the truth so much he can't even be an economic advisor to a presidential campaign. But my first choice for President has a great guest editorial in the WSJ today:
I believe that a strong case can be made that the financial crisis stemmed from a confluence of two factors. The first was the unintended consequences of a monetary policy, developed to combat inventory cycle recessions in the last half of the 20th century, that was not well suited to the speculative bubble recession of 2001. The second was the politicization of mortgage lending.
As Mr. Greenspan testified last October at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "It's instructive to go back to the early stages of the subprime market, which has essentially emerged out of CRA." It was not just that CRA and federal housing policy pressured lenders to make risky loans -- but that they gave lenders the excuse and the regulatory cover.
Countrywide Financial Corp. cloaked itself in righteousness and silenced any troubled regulator by being the first mortgage lender to sign a HUD "Declaration of Fair Lending Principles and Practices." Given privileged status by Fannie Mae as a reward for "the most flexible underwriting criteria," it became the world's largest mortgage lender -- until it became the first major casualty of the financial crisis.
Woman of the people, Alexandra Pelosi, releases a new documentary that shows slack-jawed, inbred, bible-thumpin' conservatives are more partisan that ever. Yet she doesn't quite get her subjects:
Respectfully, I wanted to say to them, I live on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. I am on the winning side of capitalism. I work for HBO, corporate America. The Man has been good to me. You, on the other hand, are driving a truck that says, "Obama is a socialist idiot," and you're in a much lower tax bracket than most of the people in Manhattan that are voting for Obama. So the times I would actually get into it would be like, "OK, explain to me why you think he's an idiot. He's trying to give you a tax cut. You understand you're voting against your own self-interest?"
Glad she said "Respectfully," aren't you?
UPDATE: Changed Andrea to Alexandra, sorry for any confusion. Yes, this is Speaker Pelosi's Daughter.
Get out the skinny ties, Steven F. Hayward has a great column in the WSJ Editorial Page comparing President Obama's mandate to proceed with his economic agenda with that of President Reagan. Both had economic problems and both had a mandate.
Instead of Yes, We Can Spend a Trillion, "Reagan's team produced a 50-page, detailed blueprint for their first six months in office. The passage of their economic policy was the central objective."
One of the main themes that emerges from the [Initial Actions Project] is that Reagan and his team didn't assume that a landslide victory meant they had a mandate to do whatever they wanted. To the contrary, the report's authors, Richard Wirthlin and David Gergen, wrote: "The election was not a bestowal of political power, but a stewardship opportunity for us to reconsider and restructure the political agenda for the next two decades. The public has sanctioned the search for a new public philosophy to govern America."
The IAP report understood that the American people "are yet to be convinced that Mr. Reagan's policies will work." Relying on his skills as "the great communicator," the IAP recommended that the president focus on "the outlining of broad strategic policy outlines, and not on narrow programs" and that his explanations be "simple, straightforward and understandable."
Translation for Mr. Obama: Don't go on TV to talk about the stimulative effects of "weatherization." Even Jon Stewart thought that was lame.
Astute ThreeSourcers have commented that 47% of the country did not vote for President Obama. And I've read a few stories about people who voted for him but not for this.
Hayward glosses over the fact that Reagan had to get his proposals past Tip O'Neill and James Wright. But still I can vividly remember President Reagan's taking his case to the people.
This is a great story! "Hailey Woldt put on the traditional black abaya, expecting the worst."
Ms. Woldt was doing her version of "Muslim Like Me" to document the prejudice of backwoods rednecks in Alabama. Ho, ho, this was going to be good! Sadly the residents of Arab, Alabama (told you it would be good!) did not comply, and treated the young woman with friendliness.
What Woldt discovered was not the prejudices of the small-town southern white American but instead the prejudices and stereotypes of contemporary leftist academia. Woldt expected to find prejudice not because she had already seen it but because her education indoctrinated her to expect it in others. This little incident opens a window on the insular, elitist and bigoted world of leftist in contemporary academia.
Wow! I really am a partisan hack. Hugh Hewitt considers me one -- and I consider him one. So, you do the math.
Hewitt wants to give Daschle a pass on tax evasion because the confirmation debate is becoming too rancorous and good people will no longer be willing to serve in government. And, the excuse I pulled out for Geithner, he worries that another nominee would be worse.
Errors on tax returns related to unusual circumstances and nanny issues are simply not the sort of character issues for which confirmation should be denied. Fixing the "confirmation mess" requires some restraint when presented with targets. The GOP should stay fixed on the stimulus bill, and not go chasing Daschle.
Take a deep breath. Count to ten. He begins with "My two cents on the latest confirmation dance is sure to disappoint my most partisan listeners" Well, I am a reader and not a listener, but if I can be counted among Hugh Hewitt's most partisan anythings, we have truly entered bizzaro world.
Hewitt sees misfeasance where I see malfeasance. "Errors on a tax return" and a reasonable point that, making $5,000,000 in two years, he would not have risked his political opportunities over a mere 200% of the median income of one of his former constituents in South Dakota.
That is his best point. And I do share the desire to get beyond confirmations being derailed by small transgressions on nannies or gardeners.
But I disagree that it was a small or simple error. This figure represents real money to anybody and it is in an area that is "gray" enough to avoid detection and prove to be a reasonably deniable. Yet, I have had to manage business vs. personal miles on a company car. I don't think it's outside the attention of a Senate Majority leader to consider if for a chauffeured limo.
As far as getting somebody worse, I've no doubt that there are worse ideologues than Senator Daschle. Yet his book about Health Care calls for an American equivalent to the NHS's NICE panel which would provide approval of all treatments and procedures based on government-decided efficacy and cost efficiency. Senator Daschle is radical enough to scare me and is a sophisticated enough player that he seems likely to be able to achieve many of his goals.
I'll take another roll of the dice, Hugh. And I'll take an early defeat to the Obama Health Care Express. If future Government appointees are going to have to start paying their taxes, we'll just have to live with that.
I made some stylistic complaints about President Obama's inaugural address and do not remember a long line of ThreeSources stepping up to say I was too harsh. As far as the content, there were only a few things that bugged me, but by far the largest was his suggestion that all discussion over the size of government was over (hint: small did not win).
In his inaugural address, President Obama said that "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works." This is a commonly heard argument in response to concerns about the growth of government. Who could possibly be against government when it "works"? Why not instead consider each proposed expansion of the state on a case by case basis, supporting those that "work" and opposing any that don't?
Taken seriously, this argument leads to the rejection of any systematic constraints on government power. Why should we have a general presumption against government regulation of speech or religion? Why not instead support censorship when it "works" by improving the marketplace of ideas, and oppose it when it doesn't? Think of all the misleading speech and religious charlatans that government regulation could potentially save us from! The answer, of course, is that government regulation of speech and religion has systematic dangers that are not unique to any one particular regulation. Given those systematic flaws, it makes sense to have a general presumption against it.
Well worth a read in full. Perhaps I am being naive, but supply-side, free-trade, lassiez-faire arguments seem lost for two years at the very least. Perhaps there is some currency to arguing against expansion of government. I like to remind my lefty friends not to give President Obama any power they don't want President Palin to wield.
Good news: No GOP members vote for it! A new bipartisan era has not come to Washington!
WASHINGTON - In a swift victory for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled House approved a historically huge $819 billion stimulus bill Wednesday night with spending increases and tax cuts at the heart of the young administration's plan to revive a badly ailing economy.
The vote was 244-188, with Republicans unanimous in opposition despite Obama's pleas for bipartisan support. Eleven Democrats voted against the measure, while no Republicans supported it.
"We don't have a moment to spare," Obama declared at the White House as congressional allies hastened to do his bidding in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
MSNBC doesn't push the shut-out angle, but Mister Brutally Honest does. Awesome on stilts!
Barack Obama promised to end the "politics of division," unite Washington's factions and overcome partisanship. And what do you know -- so far he has: The President's stimulus plan generated bipartisan House opposition, with every Republican and 11 Democrats voting against it on Wednesday. It passed 244-188. -- WSJ Ed Page
As blog pragmatist, I try to defend the GOP's slim commitment to liberty as being better than none on the other side. But, then you get Rep. Peter King and some children to protect:
Smile, say cheese and hold that pose till you hear the 'click'. A new bill introduced in the Congress by New York Republican Rep. Peter King requires mobile phones with digital cameras "to make a sound" when a photograph is taken.
The move is part of the 'Camera Phone Predator Alert Act' and the idea is to ensure privacy and safety of the public, especially children, claims the bill.
I was surprised to read that outmigration in California has now eclipsed inmigration.
The Chicago Boyz blog has some thoughts. The whole, short post is great, but here is a sad, true paragraph:
It seems that in post-New Deal America, economic and civil success sow their own seeds of destruction. When things are going good, socialist experimentation seems harmless. A booming economy can pay for increased government spending and an ever-increasing scope of government power. Eventually, however, socialism strangles the economic engine and destroys civil society.
I linked favorably to Matt Labash's dark view of Detroit and traded some emails with blog friend Everyday Economist (short version, the article is a little over the top, but the "little" got shaved down as the thread progressed). Could California really go the same sad way of the Great-Lakes-Industrial cities? I've suggested that Duluth and Buffalo, for all their charms, have a tough sell to new industries based on their weather. California still has the sun and the pretty vistas. But they still have the same political class that will fund "Soft America" on the remnants of a long-past Golden State "Hard America" until harder reality is forced upon them.
Many escaping jobs will find their way to Texas, Nevada, and Colorado. But when the Rust Belt moved, it was not as easy to offshore. A lot of those will find their way out of the United States -- not out of Comparative Advantage, but to escape bad government.
Once considered almost a novelty for his relentless one-man attack on House GOP spending practices and push for Cuba policy reform, many conservatives now are looking to the five-term congressman for guidance in rehabilitating the tarnished Republican brand.
They are looking in the right place. Anybody have a Republican they like better than Rep. Jeff Flake (R - AZ)?
Peter Berkowitz has a guest editorial in the WSJ today, actually a synopsis of a longer article forthcoming in Policy Review. He echoes a lot of points I hold about a pragmatic call to return principles without discarding Meyers's Fusionism:
But the purists in both camps ignore simple electoral math. Slice and dice citizens' opinions and voting patterns in the 50 states as you like, neither social conservatives nor libertarian conservatives can get to 50% plus one without the aid of the other.
Yet they, and the national security hawks who are also crucial to conservative electoral hopes, do not merely form a coalition of convenience. Theirs can and should be a coalition of principle, and a constitutional conservatism provides the surest ones.
The principles are familiar: individual freedom and individual responsibility, limited but energetic government, economic opportunity and strong national defense. They are embedded in the Constitution and flow out of the political ideas from which it was fashioned. They were central to Frank Meyer's celebrated fusion of traditionalist and libertarian conservatism in the 1960s. And they inspired Ronald Reagan's consolidation of conservatism in the 1980s.
Berkowitz suggests that both social conservatives and libertarians can coalesce around the Constitution. Amen to that. Where GOP legislators and the Bush administration have "wandered off the reservation" were instances where they moved away from Constitutional principles.
Blog friend T. Greer sends a link to George Will's column Making Congress Moot. The column is unsurprisingly well crafted and reminds me why I appreciate Will in spite of his Conventional Wisdomness. Will rubs salt in the wounds opened by Gene Healy's book.
If TARP funds can be put to any use the executive branch fancies because TARP actually is a blank check for that branch, then the only reason no rules are being broken is that there are no rules.
In spite of the dubious merit of bailing out the Detroit Buggy Whip industry and its deeply flawed business model, Will is dead on that the arrogation of power to the Executive is complete. Purse strings for policy are clearly to be controlled by the House of Representatives. Yet, when Congress demurred, the Bush Administration took the money out its AIG Widow's and Orphan's fund.
TG sends the link, an excerpt, an incendiary quote form his CNN interview, and a link to my I [Heart] W post, asking "Why was it again, that you can love this guy?"
Well, the post linked was about personal virtue, which I feel our current President has in spades. I would say the same about President GHW Bush, with whom I had even more policy disagreements. President (GW) Bush's capacity to take the heat and do the right thing are worthy of admiration. And, as my post said, I think will be sorely missed.
Will's point of Executive power expansion is a fair cop. Unlike Healy, and Reason Magazine, I have a difficult time blaming President Bush for this. This is a structural, systemic flaw in the Constitution as we practice it. I don't know how to fix it, but don't expect Bush to be the guy fighting clean on Pro Wrestling. The game is fixed and Rove/Bush had a way to play it.
I'll provide one example. My hero, President Coolidgeís response to the 1927 flood of Louisiana earned him a line in a Randy Newman song.
President Coolidge come down on a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note pad in his hand
President say "Little fat man, ain't it a shame?
What the river has done to this poor cracker's land?"
That was Coolidge's Katrina. President Bush went in with an army of FEMA agents and, well an Army, and -- because he was two days late -- his administration was deemed incompetent. I say that he never recovered. War is always unpopular and he was destined to lose support in Iraq. But Katrina removed the perception of competence and left all policy subject to criticism.
What would Kanye West have thought if Bush had pulled a Coolidge? He would have been impeached! It's well and good for Healy and Will and Reason and even my great friend TG to complain about The Imperial Bush Presidency, but the people demand it. They gave a landslide victory to a successor who promised even more involvement in the markets.
I'm enjoying Jon Meacham's "American Lion" biography of President Jackson. Though we recovered from Jackson and Lincoln, it is interesting to watch early expansion of Executive Power -- and twice as interesting to see how it is considered heroic by the historians.
Individual parts of Bush policy have been debated around here. And I come to the end of the second term less enthused than ever about "big government conservatism." Again, I won't call it treason. It was an experiment: give the people the government they want (look at the polls, they do want it) but build it on market mechanisms like HSAs and private Part D administration.
I'll listen to intelligent criticism from the right or left, but I cannot look back and wish that we had elected President Gore or Kerry.
As I type this, another blog friend sends me ammo. Ed Gillespie's Myths and Facts About the Real Bush Record. Well worth a read in full, though it targets typical left criticism, I find myself drowning in contempt from the right.
I worked pretty hard to elect Governor Bush in 2000 and harder to re-elect President Bush in 2004. There have been disappointments, but I am not regretting those efforts. Yes, he has flaws. No, he does not represent all my beliefs. He was the best electable candidate in 2000 and 2004 and I will not abandon him at the end.
The Everyday Economist has a brief, trenchant post on Madoff and Regulation. Among other virtues, it contains a Wikipedia link to Charles Ponzi, infamy incarnate. One assumes his progeny must change their name or avoid employment in the financial sector. "Herb, this is Harry Ponzi, he has a new idea for a hybrid credit-swap derivative that I think you should look at. Hello? Herb? You There?"
I digress, again. The important point is that there are laws on the books against fraud. Every time there is a high-profile case -- a Gaggle of Legislators introduce new legislation -- at great cost to the business community. Yet, the problem, more frequently, is lax enforcement of existing regs.
1.) Regulation is important and we need rules in place against such schemes. Free enterprise operates best when there are rules (whether enforced by government or private entities).
2.) Regulation is only useful if it is actually enforced. One point that I have made regarding the financial crisis is that it was not merely a failure of regulation, but also of regulators. Decisions within regulatory agencies to relax the regulatory standards renders such standards useless. Thus, even with regulation in place, we need regulators who will actually do their job. The Madoff scandal highlights the fact that the regulatory agencies have become nothing more than a joke in terms of enforcement.
My desire for lassiez-faire too frequently has me cheering for business at all costs. But every time a crook gets away with something, a new law is passed that saddles the next honest innovator. Thusly can little-l libertarians appreciate tough law enforcers like Rudy Giuliani and Charles Evans Hughes. Prosecutors need to follow the rules and use discretion. But more competent enforcement is the best protection against the rapid expansion of new regulation.
According to Fox News, Jesse Jackson, Jr. has been singing to the Feds for years about Blago and others. The Refugee wants to know: in politics, is better to be a crook or a squealer? When it comes to Chicago, The Refugee thinks he knows the answer. Jackson's career is done.
My central insight in my recent disagreement with Patrick is that the creativity will take place in the states. While there will be some very important fights in Washington over the next 2-4 years, in particular health care, card check, and bailouts, another equally important fight will happen in 40 or more states over that time period. In the federal fights, our answer is likely to be simply: NO.
But at the states, something else will happen.
The article refers, specifically to upcoming budget crises as states reconcile boomtime spending with busttime revenue. But, generally, it is an awesome idea.
I have often saluted Blog Brother AlexC for his attention to state and local politics. It's much better soil to till -- especially now that national issues are even further out of control. It's also a good way to build a base and elevate future leaders and issues.
Prince succinctly nails the two major parties in America. In a profile in The New Yorker, Prince is interviewed by Claire Hoffman who notes "Princeís voice was surprisingly deep, like that of a much larger man." And a much bigger thinker as well:
ďPeople with moneyómoney like thatóare not affected by the stock market, and theyíre not freaking out over anything. Theyíre just watching. So hereís how it is: youíve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this.Ē He pointed to a Bible. ďBut thereís the problem of interpretation, and youíve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesnít. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum youíve got blue, youíve got the Democrats, and theyíre, like, ĎYou can do whatever you want.í Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.Ē
Stop him before he tortures this metaphor any further! Slippery slopes go down!
Hear me out. I think every ThreeSourcer will agree with the WSJ Ed Page that a bailout of the big three automakers is counter-productive.
For decades, Congress has never had a second thought as it imposed tighter emissions standards on GM, Ford and Chrysler, denouncing them for making evil SUVs. Yet now that the companies are bleeding cash, and may be heading for bankruptcy, suddenly the shrinking Big Three are the latest candidates for a taxpayer bailout. One $25 billion loan facility has already been signed into law, and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) wants another $25 billion, this time with no strings attached.
But, and I know this won't be popular 'round these parts, I fear that the "no-bailouts!" brigades have spent all their energy in opposition to the Paulson Plan. I don't want to tell principled people what to think, but I am very comfortable having supported the Paulson rescue and opposing the Stabenow bailout.
In spite of President Jackson and AG Taney's heroic work in the 1830s. the Federal government has a substantive involvement in the financial system. Fiat money rules the world, for better or worse, and I can't see the Fed and Treasury sipping coffee (mmm, coffee) while the global credit markets seize up. The idea of the Paulson plan was to buy assets, thereby injecting liquidity and using the government's singular ability to float bad paper on its balance sheet through the bad times. I know that few -- okay, maybe nobody -- agrees with me on this but it is a legitimate position. The lender of last resort.
The automotive industry is not a casualty of the credit crisis. It is a casualty of Schumpeterian gales of creative destruction and an anachronistic labor model. Bankruptcy seems a far superior option than a bailout. In bankruptcy, the companies will be able to renegotiate union and dealer contracts. The bailout will leave all these structural flaws in place.
So what's this slippery slope up nonsense? I fear the opposition to the defensible Paulson rescue plan has undermined opposition to the indefensible automotive bailout. "Oh those, wacky right wingers, they want everybody to fail." Better to claim that government has an interest in keeping markets operating, but not in preserving outdated industrial models.
Now that the election's over, we can ignore politics and get back to our lives.
Or, we could discuss President-elect Obama's staff and cabinet appointments. Yeah, that sounds good!
I rolled my eyes when I heard that Rep, Rahm Emmanuel (D - Clintonistan) was picked for Chief of Staff. "Post partisan, indeed," sniggered I. But I have now come around to the view of some teevee pundits and the WSJ Ed Page: A President Obama will need a tough like Emmanuel to protect him from an überliberal Congress. And if trade is one of my largest worries about an Obama Administration, having NAFTA-Man (with his maple-leaf tights) onboard is not a bad idea.
He helped to negotiate the 1997 balanced budget deal that cut the capital gains tax even as it created the children's health-care entitlement. He supports expanded trade and will not want Mr. Obama to govern as a protectionist. The Chicagoan also has experience with financial markets, so he is likely to be a voice against the long-term nationalization of the U.S. banking system.
As for Mr. Emanuel's famously sharp elbows, they are as likely to be wielded against his fellow Democrats as against Republicans. With Democrats now so dominant, the fiercest fights -- and the ones that really matter -- will take place among Democratic factions in the White House and Capitol Hill. Mr. Emanuel can help Mr. Obama understand when he needs to ignore the pleas of the left and govern from the center.
Now, as for his economic team, blog friend Josh at Everyday Economist has shed his non-partisan demeanor to worry about the dubious pick of Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Bringing the "Michigan Miracle" to the whole nation are we?
Ilya Somin at Volkh Conspiracy thinks it's time conservatives and libertarians banded together: "Reforging the conservative-libertarian coalition will be very hard. Relations between the two groups have always been tense, and the last eight years have undeniably drawn down the stock of goodwill. But if we can't find a new way to hang together, we are all too likely to hang separately."
Professor Greg Mankiw admits that Harvard undergrads are hardly a random sample of the population, but that his discussions with them have led him to conjecture:
These particular students told me they preferred the lower tax, more limited government, freer trade views of McCain, but they were voting for Obama on the basis of foreign policy and especially social issues like abortion. The choice of a social conservative like Palin as veep really turned them off McCain.
So what does the Republican Party need to do to get the youth vote back? If these Harvard students are typical (and perhaps they are not, as Harvard students are hardly a random sample), the party needs to scale back its social conservatism. Put simply, it needs to become a party for moderate and mainstream libertarians. The actual Libertarian Party is far too extreme in its views to attract these students. And it is too much of a strange fringe group. These students are, after all, part of the establishment. But a reformed Republican Party could, I think, win them back.
The post opens with a startling graph of the paucity of GOP youth vote. I'll concede that the Republicans will never flip that to a 2-1 majority, but it will be hard to win elections if we continue to give away 66% of the youth vote and 90% of African-Americans.
The hard-core social conservative issues are playing with fire. I have no doubt that there will be a call to accentuate them going forward after the "moderate" McCain lost. I still believe in Frank Meyers's fusionism, and disagree with Mankiw's students that Governor Palin does not bridge the Conservative-Libertarian divide. I think that she, like President Reagan, can appeal to both.
I worried in 2003 that as much as I loved the Bush tax cuts, the only way to sell any tax cuts is to make the curve more steeply progressive and to remove more people from liability altogether.
Today, Professor Adam Lerrick has a guest editorial in the WSJ that questions "What happens when the voter in the exact middle of the earnings spectrum receives more in benefits from Washington than he pays in taxes?"
In 2006, the latest year for which we have Census data, 220 million Americans were eligible to vote and 89 million -- 40% -- paid no income taxes. According to the Tax Policy Center (a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute), this will jump to 49% when Mr. Obama's cash credits remove 18 million more voters from the tax rolls. What's more, there are an additional 24 million taxpayers (11% of the electorate) who will pay a minimal amount of income taxes -- less than 5% of their income and less than $1,000 annually.
In all, three out of every five voters will pay little or nothing in income taxes under Mr. Obama's plans and gain when taxes rise on the 40% that already pays 95% of income tax revenues.
There is much for a little-l libertarian, big-P Prosperitarian to worry about in 2008, but this "tipping point" represents a structural, irreversible change in Madisonian Democracy. We are no longer going to let the people who are paying the bill choose the restaurant.
In a year when it is racist to call Senator Obama "skinny," Paul Waldman, writing at The American Prospect, has realized that the Obama Energy Plan Tire Gauge -- much beloved by some ThreeSourcers -- is actually a, um, I think I'll let him say it:
The message couldn't be plainer: See that itty-bitty, little tire gauge? If you vote for Obama, that's how big your penis is. If you vote for McCain, on the other hand, your penis is as big as this [working oil] rig, thrusting its gigantic shaft in and out of the ground! Real men think keeping your tires inflated is for weenies.
Wow. I missed the PoMo, feminist collegiate experience by: a) being old, b) studying math and hard science, and c) dropping out. But I have encountered it because I read a lot of literary criticism of Buffy and Angel (sometimes a sword is just a sword, Doctor).
If every candidate is going to have to justify the double indirection parsing of his or her words, we're going to get even farther away from a serious philosophical election.
Hat-tip: Attila (who else?), reminding that I have been remiss in not linking to "When CPA Means 'Jew'," even though I have laughed about it every day since I read it. Riffing off the "skinny" contretemps, Attila recalls the 2000 Lieberman-Cheney debate:
. . . and it's really quite obvious that Cheney's reference to CPAs is a not-so-veiled allusion to Lieberman's Jewish background. What Cheney said was, "You have to be a CPA to understand what he just said." A CPA. Get it? He could just as easily have said, "You have to be a Jew to understand what that Jew just said." And then Cheney went on to say, "The fact of the matter is the plan is so complex that the ordinary American is never going to ever figure out what they even qualify for." The "ordinary American," as opposed to the Jew. That's not very subtle, either, painting the Jew as the Other.
Professor Mankiw links to a paper that examines the value of celebrity endorsements and suggests that Ms. Winfrey's support of Senator Obama brought him an additional 1,000,000 votes.
Craig Garthwaite and Tim Moore of the University of Maryland Economics department admit that there are substantial hurdles to accurately measuring the effect of any endorsement, but they do some reasonable extrapolation of Oprah's clout in book sales and other items featured on her show. Interstin'...
I was going to give WSJ Ed Page Editor Paul Gigot a quote of the day, for this little bon mot:
My battles with Fan and Fred began with no great expectations. In late 2001, I got a tip that Fannie's derivatives accounting might be suspect. I asked Susan Lee to investigate, and the editorial she wrote in February 2002, "Fannie Mae Enron?", sent Fannie's shares down nearly 4% in a day. In retrospect, my only regret is the question mark.
Reading the rest of the editorial made me realize that this needed a little more coverage. Long time readers of the WSJ Ed Page have followed the battles with Fannie and Freddie -- if you're behind, they have compiled them here.
Gigot takes the unusual step of writing a bylined editorial on his own page, and I strongly suggest that you read the whole thing. He and his staff were on the front lines against this perverse hybrid of government and private power. He has certainly earned a few I-told-ya-sos, but he uses the space to expand and discredit the whole idea of mixing government power with private enterprises.
The abiding lesson here is what happens when you combine private profit with government power. You create political monsters that are protected both by journalists on the left and pseudo-capitalists on Wall Street, by liberal Democrats and country-club Republicans. Even now, after all of their dishonesty and failure, Fannie and Freddie could emerge from this taxpayer rescue more powerful than ever. Campaigning to spare taxpayers from that result would represent genuine "change," not that either presidential candidate seems interested.
It is germane not only because we are bailing out Fannie and Freddie today, but also because Senator Obama, and to a lesser extent, Senator McCain both have a soft spot for this "third-way" model, Public-Private Partnership. It's all Kumbaya all the time, until you realize that you have created an un-reformable, undefeatable monster.
UPDATE: Great article by James Surowecki (other than cartoons, the reason to read New Yorker) on the GSEs. Professor Mankiw links and points out that it is one more thing to thank LBJ for:
It wasnít until 1968 that Fannie was privatized....The main reason for the change was surprisingly mundane: accounting. At the time, Lyndon Johnson was concerned about the effect of the Vietnam War on the federal budget. Making Fannie Mae private moved its liabilities off the governmentís books, even if, as the recent crisis made clear, the U.S. was still responsible for those debts. It was a bit like what Enron did thirty years later, when it used ďspecial-purpose entitiesĒ to move liabilities off its balance sheet.
I assume many of you saw this, but I think everybody has to.
NPR profiled the plight of this family that has had to cut down on food. The headline on the NPR site is For Some Ohioans, Even Meat Is Out Of Reach. I'm sure the story was quite touching on the radio. I can almost hear the dulcet tones of the NPR announcer du jour, and the well produced transitions with acoustic music in the background.
Low-income families in Ohio say they are particularly hard-hit by the changes in the economy, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, The Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health.
In the blogosphere, however, the story has a different vibe because it includes a picture of Angelica Hernandez and Gloria Nunez, the "starving" family:
Now I hate to be cruel. I have been heavy most of my life and could certainly use to drop 20 pounds right now. But only NPR could present these two as suffering from a lack of food. (Okay, I'll be cruel: the headline "Meat out of reach" is apropos because none of them can lift her arms! -- Sorry.)
Like the Frosts, the family that starred in the Democratic Radio address to support SCIHP, maybe these people have -- I don't know -- made some bad choices, or have perhaps done something slightly wrong that has kept their income from keeping up with inflation?
Nunez and most of her siblings and their spouses are unemployed and rely on government assistance and food stamps. Some have part-time jobs, but working is made more difficult with no car or public transportation.
They're not hit by high gas prices because they don't have a car. They've cut back on food (no more ice cream!) so they are saving money. Their energy costs at home are subsidized and unchanged. Why were they chosen by NPR to support this story premise? Because they were the only family in Ohio that claimed they were eating less because of food prices. And because there are no pictures on radio.
The folks at Samizdata had been discussing a line from the P.J. O'Rourke column in CATO's Letter.
Now, if you're electing Democrats to control government spending, then you're marrying Angelina Jolie for her brains.
Some closet Virginia Postrels came out and suggested that just because Ms. Jolie is attractive does not mean that she is not intelligent. I'm going to duck that question. And not even post a picture. When O'Rourke is on form, as he is in this piece, almost any paragraph can be pulled for a Quote of the Day or a Blog Post. Professor Mankiw likes this one:
I have a 10 year old at home, and she is always saying, ďThatís not fair.Ē When she says that, I say, ďHoney, youíre cute; thatís not fair. Your family is pretty well off; thatís not fair. You were born in America; thatís not fair. Honey, you had better pray to God that things donít start getting fair for you.Ē
I can excerpt too -- how about the intro:
Well, I wish I had better news for you, but the barbarians are at the gates. We are besieged by pagansósavage, brutish worshippers of big government. Theirs is not even a golden calf. Theyíve abandoned the Gold Standard. They worship the taxing and spending of a fiat god, all the more dangerous for being both false and imaginary.
I just read an amusing (read: leftist) review of Ron Paul's new book. Here is my favorite part:
Often seen as a rich manís political philosophy, devoid of social programs and indifferent to the plight of the poor, libertarianism needs a makeover if it is ever to break through to the mainstream.
By "makeover" does she mean more statism?
The review continues...
Paul understands this, and he thus softens up his views with a vague, benevolent populism. In a passage that condemns all forms of welfare, he is quick to tell us that he is also talking about government aid to rich corporations. ďI do not understand why we take for granted that the net result of all this looting is good for those who are lower on the economic ladder,Ē he writes. True enough, but it doesnít change the fact that Paul still opposes giving federal aid to the disadvantaged.
Allow me to outline the leftist manifesto:
1. One must fail to distinguish between the concepts of total and marginal.
1a. An additional dollar of funding will have the same effect regardless of how much one is already spending.
1b. Taxes are to be defended on the grounds that they are the price one pays for a civilized society.
1c. This concept should only be applied to analysis of government. By contrast, individuals do not need certain levels of income. Although this level of income is not known, it will be subject to the obscenity test by our trusted elected officials.
2. Government is bad and oppressive.
3. Government is the answer to our problems.
4. Believe it or not numbers 2 and 3 do not seem to contradict one another. Number 2 refers to civil liberties and war. Number 3 refers to redistribution of income and government regulation.
5. Intentions rather than results are what matters.
6. Incentives? What incentives?
7. Tax it. Regulate it. Regulate it some more.
8. Those who do not favor an expansion of government should be mocked. No explanation or counter-argument is necessary.
9. Belief in freedom and free markets is naive. Belief in the benevolence of government is ideal.
10. If it fits on a bumper sticker, it fits on the platform.
I've regaled you with stories about my political family members [Yawn, is he done yet?] Here's a manifestation.
I own only the nanocar. I love it and it meets all my needs save one: no room for Husband, Wife, and Loyal Family Pet. That's frequently a drag, but in my current situation of showing a house for sale, it is intolerable.
My lovable but Communist sister-in-law has been perhaps the most generous helper as we prepared the house for sale. Words cannot describe her input: inside, outside, and emotionally. Struck by my plight, she has offered to trade cars with me for the month. I hope she enjoys the convertible in the awesome convertible month of May.
She can choose to remove my magnetic "Support the Troops" ribbon in Red, White and Blue if she chooses -- I'm not sure if she will. I have no options on the "Department of Peace" bumper sticker on my new Camry (they're keeping the hybrid).
Iíve been trying to find the right words for a certain theory, and I canít quite do it yet. It has to do with how a candidate feels about America Ė they have to be fundamentally, dispositionally comfortable with it. Not in a way that glosses over or excuses its flaws, but comfortable in the way a long-term married couple is comfortable. That includes not delighting in its flaws, or crowing them at every opportunity as proof of your love. I mean a simple quiet sense of awe and pride, its challenges and flaws and uniqueness and tragedies considered. You donít win the office by being angry weíre not something else; you win by being enthused we can be something better. You can fake the latter. But people sense the former.
Nice words, but I think the sage from Minneapolis might be pulling his punches a bit. My brother (the mad lefty one) had an interesting coda in a recent email discussion (riff, coda, got something going here...) He said he was upset because "the flag is now a Republican symbol" and a moderate relative agreed.
I didn't respond to that point but I have been thinking about it for quite a while. It is not that my lefty friends lack patriotism per se, but the ones I know are completely uncomfortable with the idea of American exceptionalism. They have ceded the flag as a symbol to those who do believe.
I tell a good friend "we liberated tens of millions from Communism," and he says "yeah, but what about propping up Somoza and Pinochet and Marcos?" I think of the Ken Burns documentary on WWII. I love the guy's work, but he juxtaposes the Bataan Death March with Jim Crow laws and restricted liberties for black soldiers. Yeah, Ken, I guess we're both bad. Another friend loves to bring up Japanese Internment camps. And don't ever ever ever get a liberal started on Indians, Native Americans Indigenous Americans.
They think I'm a jingoist, but I am comfortable appreciating this country's achievements "warts and all." Senator Obama famously refused to wear a flag pin. I don't say that he -- or his Marin County listeners -- don't love this country, but it's not questioning anybody's patriotism to point out how uncomfortable most of them are with displays of patriotism.
Gotta go now, Team America World Police is on cable...
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a former member of the pork-dispensing Appropriations Committee, strongly opposed the moratorium, as did all but a handful of Democrats.
House Democrats such as John Murtha, D-Johnstown, a longtime Pelosi ally who got the "porker of the year" award from Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based watchdog group, weighed in as well. If the Senate won't give up its pork, they argued, why should the House?
Earmarks for road and bridge projects, contracts for local defense companies, and grants to local governments and nonprofits can mean jobs back home. Then there's the political boost that lawmakers running for re-election reap from earmarks, especially endangered freshmen such as Nancy Boyda, D-Kan.
Can we at least pretend they're not trying to bribe us for their jobs?
I love this guy. Three cheers for Democratic überoperative James Carville:
First. One of my favorite lines from any debate ever. He was "debating" Bill O'Reilly during the 2000 election and he said [quoting from memory]: "It's important. Whether the US is run by the principles of George Bush or Al Gore is important, My wife thinks it's important that it is George Bush, I think it is important hat it is Al Gore, but we agree that it is important."
Second. He mentioned his wife. If Mary and James can keep it together, none of us has any cause to question our vows. I'm not kidding, it gives me great hope.
Hanging around with Libertarians on the Internet (It's fun, but remember to wash your hands), I am often challenged to reassess my party affiliation. Yup, the GOP has some positions which are not friendly to liberty and a poor track record of success on its good positions.
Reading Reason Magazine, or Ann Althouse, or Megan McArdle, I encounter serious, sane, sentient people who love liberty and look first to the Democratic Party for candidates to pursue it. One tries to be open minded and all -- BUT
But then I watch the Democratic debates, or read something like this. Comprehensive "Fisking" is not my blogging style, but I am tempted to try it here. I think I disagree with every sentence in Rep Rahm Emmanuel's "A New Deal for the New Economy." To be fair, Congressman, I didn't think so highly of the Old New Deal.
He starts with Nafta, the thesis being that the trade deal is not the cause of anxiety so much as the lack of a social contract. Even still, he is not willing to defend Nafta, with which he was closely involved.
In 1993, I was President Clinton's point man in ratifying Nafta. And, I am the first to admit, the fact that our party is still debating this trade agreement 15 years later is proof it hasn't lived up to its hopes. It is true that if we were to negotiate Nafta today, we'd insist on tough labor and environmental standards that never mattered to negotiators in the first Bush administration, who hammered the agreement together before Bill Clinton took office.
Evil, wicked, Republican pact it was -- I always thought so too.
But the problem is not Nafta, the problem is that we are not Sweden. The way to make an anxious middle class feel better is to:
Add another year of compulsory education (the first twelve rock!)
Expand Schip for all kids (why shouldn't I take care of Warren Buffet's grandchildren?) and those between 55 and 64 years of age.
"[C]reate a new institute -- funded at the same level as the National Institutes of Health -- that will support critical research into energy technologies for the future." Millions of green collar jobs, energy independence, yadda. (Because government develops and selects technology so much better than the private sector -- look at Ethanol!)
Finally [at last!] Universal Savings Plans,"Like 401(k) plans, these accounts would supplement, not supplant, Social Security. Employers and employees would contribute 1% of their paychecks on a tax-deductible basis, and workers could make additional contributions if they chose."
He learned at the foot of the master, only a Clinton aid could use the word "contribute" in the sense of a forced, coercive mandate.
Rep. Emmanuel is not a crazed lefty or ideological outlier. He's a party centrist in the mold of President Clinton. This is their best plan. Greater regulation of trade pacts abroad and a huge increase in the size, scope and cost of government at home.
Wonder if they still have the green St. Pat's Pachyderms for sale at gop.com...
I consider Spitzer the archetype of government power gone bad. Allahpundit says "Wife and kids, so schadenfreude isnít in order." I will worry about his kids just as long as he worried about Hank Greenberg's family, or Dick Grasso's before he launched unfounded attacks on them from the New York AG's office.
UPDATE: Try this fun blogger-media quiz! Find any story anywhere on this that does not use the word 'schadenfreude." Bet you can't...