12-year-old speaks out on the issue of abortion
– Big Hollywood – http://bighollywood.breitbart.com –
Why We Fight
Posted By Andrew Klavan On January 14, 2009 @ 6:40 pm In Featured Story, Media Criticism, Politics | 341 Comments
This is by way of a friendly response to the estimable Jay Nordlinger, Senior Editor at the likewise estimable National Review. Jay wrote a strong  column yesterday openly saying what I’ve been hearing many conservatives express tacitly ever since the election. Reflecting on the media’s disgraceful distortion of the characters of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin, he wrote:
“It seems to me that the Left has won: utterly and decisively. What I mean is, the Saturday Night Live, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher mentality has prevailed. They decide what a person’s image is, and those images stick. They are the ones who say that Cheney’s a monster, W.’s stupid, and Palin’s a bimbo. And the country, apparently, follows.”
I’ve been hearing and reading prominent conservatives and Republicans say nearly as much on television, in print and in private conversation ever since the election. They say Sarah Palin can never make a comeback. They say the fight for small government has been lost. They say we can’t have immigration reform that protects our borders. They say we have to distance ourselves from “embarrassing” commentators like Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter.
No, no, no, no. What the right is experiencing at the moment is a phenomenon called “cultural para-stimuli.” You can read all about it in Tom Wolfe’s wonderful novel I Am Charlotte Simmons. It’s sort of like peer pressure on steroids. It was discovered by Nobel Laureate Victor Ransome Starling, who found that when he surrounded normal cats with cats whose behavior had been bizarrely altered by brain surgery, the normal cats began acting like the crazy cats all around them.
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February 14, 2009
The Law Liberals Always Break
By C. Edmund Wright
There’s a law that liberals always shatter. (And no, I’m not talking about tax law.) It’s the law of unintended consequences. Actually it’s not so much liberals per se that break it so much as it seems liberal thinking by definition always runs afoul of this law. Leftist policy always hangs itself if given enough rope.
The liberals now have the entire stage with a very liberal President, extreme leftists in control of Congress, and the main stream media. Liberal failure has nowhere to hide and no one to hide behind. So as the Obama administration attempts to attack the country’s economic woes, they find themselves stepping in one pile of liberal policy do-do after another. You might say that the left hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. The world will have to watch as liberal policy for problem A destroys Obama goals for problem B and so on.
Consider: with Obama, Reid and Pelosi screaming for the country to accept a ridiculous stimulus package to create jobs, jobs, jobs — liberals in Chicago are standing in the way of a Wal-Mart Super Center that would bring in construction and retail jobs to the messiah’s hometown. By the way, liberals will also keep the lowest cost provider of food and clothes and home goods from being accessed by hurting Chicagoans.
The reason? The liberal principle of protecting union jobs at all costs. Remember, behind every economic disaster is a powerful union. And sometimes a community organizer.
Which leads to another example. Union jobs at the big three auto makers have been supported for years by the high priced and high profit SUVs and pick up trucks. Of course, liberal environmentalists have long made the SUV a target, while limiting domestic energy production. Greenies are doing everything they can to destroy the SUV, and with it, many union jobs, and almost succeeded during the last energy price spike.
Oh, and should we mention the fact that those oil rig jobs that pay a ton of money to mostly union members cannot be had here thanks to drilling restrictions in this country? The Russians and Venezuelans send their thanks to American liberals.
But it gets better. This contradiction, which has been predictable for anyone with some linear thinking ability, has escaped the minds of millions of Michigan voters educated by the liberal-controlled public school system. They have for decades voted for politicians illogically holding pro-green yet pro-UAW positions simultaneously. Voters of that very liberal state have no one to blame but themselves. They voted themselves out of an economy over a period of years. This is the state where Obama went to pick up a good share of his economic advisors. No wonder it is home to the Detroit Lions.
Meanwhile, back in Washington and New York, liberals in Congress and in the media are having a field day chastising corporations for buying jets, hiring contractors to renovate posh office suites, and giving big bonuses to executives.
Well guess what? Buying jets, hiring upper end contractors and giving bonuses stimulate the economy. It is job friendly. And that’s what we need now, right? Oops. More liberal fertilizer. Liberalism simply cannot get out of its own way. Especially hurt is lefty New York, where the economy is reeling from a number of factors.
But of course, the liberal tenet of wealth envy is paramount to common sense. And apparently, to jobs. Speaking of which, if you break down the Starbucks corporate jet issue, it is especially delicious with unintended consequences.
The coffee purveyor, you remember, was mercilessly raked across the media’s coals for taking delivery on a 45 million dollar jet while it was closing stores and laying off barristas. So they cancelled the jet order.
Think about that. Starbuck’s deposit on the jet was lost, which is foolish under any circumstances. Further, that jet is now back “on the showroom floor” so to speak, reducing by one the need to manufacture such planes. So to keep some “hamburger flipper” type jobs that liberals make fun of, many high paying jet manufacturing jobs were lost. The only thing stimulating about that equation is the Starbucks caffeine.
And we could go on like this simply with stories from today’s headlines. It’s a fact of life. Liberal policies in action always cave in on themselves. They always have.
Take liberal Neville Chamberlain and his appeasement of Hitler in the 30’s. We must have “peace in our time.” How did that work out? It took a violent victory, not a phony peace, to bring lasting peace. The peace effort led to a stronger Hitler and ultimately millions more deaths than “war mongering” policies would have led to.
Look back at 9-11. Some thirty years of liberal policies regarding intelligence gathering, intelligence sharing and prosecuting terrorists led to an attack that killed three thousand Americans in, well, two of the nations’ most liberal cities. You cannot say this in polite company, but statistically some 90% of the victims likely voted for the policies that led to the dreadful day. Shhhhh.
Think about abortion. The feminist movement has called this a women’s issue. It is defined as the ultimate right for women. Fine. The result? The most likely fetus on the planet to be aborted is a female in China. That’s women’s rights we can believe in, right? Talk about the circle of life — er — death.
Consider school choice. This issue is demagogued by the teachers’ unions above all else. These are unions who are obsessed with raising teacher pay. What would be the teacher pay result of a broad school choice program? It would be the equivalent of “free agency” for good teachers and administrators. Think about what free agency has done for pay for athletes. Another circular liberal firing squad in action.
Take California’s government cash meltdown. The main culprit is retiree benefits for unionized government workers in the state. And of course, the result is that current unionized government workers are being laid off, furloughed and not hired. More liberal on liberal crime.
And let’s not forget Europe and their coddling of Islamists for decades. Their payback is a near takeover of European society by gangs and street violence, not to mention ridiculous rules and regulations in airports and schools and other public places.
Liberalism’s failure is universal because liberalism embraces a false view of human nature as perfectible, if only the right political arrangements exist . And it would be funny, except that the consequences are so devastating to so many people. And so often the victims are the very liberals the policy was supposed to protect.
The only good news is this: with liberal Democrats front and center on all stages governmental now, they will be opposed by a much more formidable foe than a Republican President and a Congress dying to just get along. They will be opposed by the obvious truth of their bankrupt philosophy.
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/02/the_law_liberals_always_break.html at February 21, 2009 – 05:45:35 PM EST
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February 13, 2009
Madness, Thy Name Is ‘Stimulus’
By Candace de Russy
Underscoring the extreme folly of ensnaring generations of future Americans in ever more crushing taxation and debt to pay for the so-called “stimulus” bill, Citizens for Common Sense and Accountability titled its opposition to the plan “Stop the Stimulus Madness!”
The outcry against the liberal Democrats’ and President Obama’s legislation, the most profligate spending plan in U.S. history, has so far advanced along mostly economic, not sociopolitical, lines.
Sen. James Inhofe slammed it as “stuffed with waste and less than 7 percent real economic stimulation,” and “bloated with millions of dollars for stupid projects” such as coupons for digital TV transition.
Harvard economist Robert Barro anathematized it as “probably the worst bill that has been put forth since the 1930s” and, in a word, “garbage.”
With the bill’s social consequences no doubt well in mind, the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector scored the House version of the bill as a “welfare spendathon,” which could cost as much as $787 billion, not the $264 billion that advocates have claimed, and which would fund every conceivable program for low-income people, among others, food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, child care, energy assistance, homelessness prevention, etc.
“Both bills [Senate and House versions],” Rector warned, “use the idea of economic stimulus as a Trojan horse to conceal massive, permanent increases in the US welfare system.” “None of these programs,” he said, “deals with the fundamentals of poverty, which are low levels of work and lower levels of marriage. They just say, ‘Give me more.'”
But the undying urge by the radical leftists among us to create a welfare state entails not only economic but also societal folly, as many thoughtful conservatives and liberals have recognized in the past. (After all, notably, it was Bill Clinton, a liberal president, who signed welfare reform into law.) One novel analysis of the roots and destructive consequences of this folly, rich in insights that apply to the present, irrational “stimulus” legislation, comes from Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., a psychiatrist.
In The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness, Rossiter makes the case that neurotic themes dominate radical liberals’ view of the world and their political agendas. Their portrayal of citizens as suffering, victimized, helpless children in need of rescue mirrors their “unconscious projections of early childhood dynamics transferred into the political arenas of adult life.” Thus — and circling back to the “stimulus” spend fest — radical liberals imagine the world peopled by villains (among others, those in Congress whom Obama angrily castigated for delaying passage of the bill), victims (such as those in need of the multi-millions of dollars designated, at least in the original versions of the bill, for “smoking cessation activities” and “tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction”), and heroes (radical liberals themselves, of course). According to Rossiter, these liberals fabricate an idealized world of loving care and absolution from responsibility, and seek in an all-enveloping assistance (think billions of dollars for anti-obesity campaigns) from the “Modern Parental State” what they missed as children.
The destructive social results of such subservient government dependency — the institution of perverse incentives, debilitated families, disintegrated communities, the preemption of private charitable and altruistic endeavors — have been, again, acknowledged across the conservative-liberal spectrum.
But Rossiter is especially astute in analyzing other aspects of the terrible price that radical liberals may exact from “the competent society.” In its trampling of the values essential to ordered, civilized liberty, radical liberalism, among other madness:
Devalues individual lives by treating citizens as fungible elements of economic, social or political classes;
Curtails individual freedom of choice and action by substituting regulation and dependency for autonomy and freedom;
Discourages and even precludes self-reliance and voluntary exchange in favor of government coercion;
Violates property rights and indentures the citizen’s labor;
Institutionalizes, via its social justice programs, theft, and invites manipulation;
Promotes hostility, vulgarity, rudeness and defiance as justified rebellion against imaginary oppression, discrimination and exploitation;
Degrades the moralities of obligation and aspiration, and, in keep with its secular tradition
Attacks the legitimacy of formal religion, dismisses its historical importance, and denies its critical role in maintaining the nation’s moral integrity.
The extent to which the smothering “stimulus” legislation is a neurosis is a matter for debate. But that it will lead in the direction of collectivizing this nation and rendering subservient its free citizens is beyond doubt.
Let us stand warned, for, in Rossiter’s words, “Any government with the power to mother its citizens also has the power to dominate them and steal from them.” And the perennial antidote to the “stimulus” madness and its like? “The legally enforceable institutions of society must be very limited, lest the government charged with the people against tyranny and theft becomes itself the most dangerous tyrant and thief.”
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/02/madness_thy_name_is_stimulus.html at February 21, 2009 – 05:41:07 PM EST
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February 18, 2009
The Stimulus will lead America in the direction of Western New York
By Michael Filozof
If you want to know what President Obama’s new style of government-led, Democratic Party economic and political policies will bring to the country, you need look no further than Western New York — and what you’ll see isn’t pretty. Nearly every item in the Obama economic and political agenda — from health care to taxes to unions to gun control to government schemes to spend money to “stimulate” the economy — has already been tried here, but the region remains stagnant and moribund.
The economy of Western New York and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester are, for practical purposes, socialist. The private sector is nearly dead, government is the largest employer, and taxes and union membership are the highest in the nation. As a result, economic growth is nil, and the population continues to migrate to the Sun Belt at an alarming rate.
It would be an understatement to say that the region is a Democratic Party stronghold; “uni-party rule” is a more accurate description. Buffalo has not elected a Republican mayor since 1962. Party registration in Buffalo’s Erie County favors the Democrats 150,000. Republicans have been reduced to a permanent minority here, and it’s not unheard of for lifelong Democrats – former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, for example – to switch party labels to Republican only after they could not obtain the Democratic nomination. The Democratic Party also controls the Governor’s office and both houses of the State Legislature, along with 26 of the state’s 29 House seats and both Senate seats.
Mere possession of a handgun, even in one’s home, requires a government permit, which can take up to a year to obtain in some counties. The federal “assault weapons ban” which expired nationwide in 2004 — but which President Obama promised to reinstate on a permanent basis — has been codified into state law and remains in effect here.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York State has the highest rate of union membership in the country. Nearly 25% of the workforce here is unionized. Virtually all public sector employees here are unionized, and richly compensated as a result. In 2008, a Buffalo cop caused a stir by milking the overtime and seniority rules to earn nearly $200,000 in his last years on the job, enabling him to retire with a pension of $100,000 per year. Unionized city school district janitors can earn between $70,000 and $100,000 per year. In the private sector, bankrupt auto parts maker Delphi, a major employer in Lockport, is staggering under the weight of its union contracts, and American Axle recently closed a unionized facility in Buffalo.
The public sector dominates here. Data from the Census Bureau in 2004 indicated that there were 95,300 public sector employees in the Buffalo-Niagara Metropolitan Statistical Area out of a total labor force of 547,000; by comparison, only 66,400 were employed in manufacturing and 20,300 in “construction and mining.” Only the category of “trade, transportation, and utilities” produced more private-sector jobs – 102,000 – than government.
In 2008, the three largest employers in Buffalo were all in the public sector. The State of New York employed 16,500, the Federal government 10,000, and the City of Buffalo 8,200. Of the top three private sector employers, two — Kalieda Health with 10,000 employees Catholic Health Systems with 4,900 — were hospitals, heavily reliant on state and federal aid. HSBC Bank, with 5,800 employees, rounded out the top three.
Health care remains a major employer in the region because the population is aging. Medicare and Medicaid provide substantial funding to the health-care industry. But Medicaid here is out of control. New York’s Medicaid system the costliest in the nation, double that of California’s. Medicaid here pays for just about everything. Several years ago a public outcry caused the state’s Medicaid system to stop paying for Viagra for convicted sex offenders, but it continues to fund abortions.
Things are not much better in nearby Rochester. For decades Rochester was a company town, home of the once-mighty Eastman Kodak Co. But Kodak has been shedding jobs for three decades, and in 2006 the University of Rochester, a non-profit educational institution, surpassed Kodak as the city’s largest employer.
The high rate of public employment requires a substantial tax burden to support it. A 2008 study by the Tax Foundation found that 8 of the top 10 counties in the nation with the highest property-tax burdens were in Western New York. Niagara County was ranked number one, Monroe County number two, and Erie County number seven. But residents here do not merely pay high property taxes; the combined state and county sales tax in Erie County is a staggering 8.75%, and the state levies an income tax that averages 5% as well. The state even demands that residents pay sales taxes on items purchased by mail or on the Internet and shipped into New York from other states. The state recently raised nearly 100 taxes and fees to meet this year’s budget; even so, Gov. David Paterson is predicting a $15 billion budget deficit for next year.
The enormous sums of money flowing into government coffers gives politicians the means to dictate the terms on nearly everything. Almost nothing here is decided solely by market forces in the private sector. Political operatives spend public money at the behest of favored interest groups, and consequently nearly every idea for “economic development” involves some harebrained scheme carried out by socialist-type planning that invariably fails.
In 1978, Buffalo began construction on a light rail/subway system. The first portion of the system — which eliminated auto traffic on Main Street — was only 5 miles long and opened in 1984 at a cost of $500 million. The system flopped. Planned extensions of the rail line never materialized, and ridership dropped from 7.1 million on 1996 to 5.6 million in 2006. By 2008, even more public money was committed to re-opening Main Street to traffic.
In 2000, some were optimistic about private sector investment when Adelphia Communications Company announced plans for a $125 million office in downtown Buffalo. But by 2002 Adelphia, $2.3 billion in debt, went bankrupt and its principal owners, John and Timothy Rigas, were sent to prison on fraud charges.
The next plan, announced in 2004, was to commit $66 million in public money to entice hunting and fishing retailer Bass Pro Shops to build a 250,000 square foot outlet in downtown Buffalo. Advocates of the plan claimed that the store would bring 3 to 5 million people per year downtown and anchor an “economic revitalization.” Nearly five years later, despite the commitment of tens of millions in taxpayer dollars, Bass Pro has not materialized.
Equally ridiculous schemes have been hatched in Rochester. Several years ago, city leaders somehow became convinced that residents of Toronto, a city of 5 million with major league sports, theater, and world-class restaurants, were just beside themselves with desire to come to Rochester, a city of 219,000 with minor-league sports and way off-Broadway entertainment. They solicited bids for companies to run a ferry operation across Lake Ontario, and guaranteed sums of public money to construct harbor facilities for the project.
The ferry was launched in June 2004 — and went bankrupt by September. The chagrined leaders of the city then decided to use tax dollars to purchase the ferry at a bankruptcy auction for $32.5 million, and contracted with another company to operate the vessel. The project went belly-up for a second time in 2005, forcing the city to sell the vessel at a loss, and pay millions to fulfill other financial commitments related to the ferry.
More recently, a plan was announced in 2007 to commit $50 million in state funds to demolish existing structures in downtown Rochester, which would enable PAETEC Co., a telecommunications firm, to move its headquarters about 10 miles from suburban Fairport to downtown. But by 2008 PAETEC’s stock dropped below $1 per share, and the company announced that it was losing millions and would cut more than 200 jobs, putting its new office building plans on hold.
Even the highly-touted “green energy” is present here: Niagara Falls has produced “green energy” for over 100 years, but it’s heyday is long past. Today, hundreds of wind turbines dot the hills of rural Wyoming County, but they are not a significant source of either jobs or industry.
Despite these repeated gimmicks to stimulate economic growth, the private sector here has failed to prosper, taxes remain astronomical, and the public “votes with its feet.” In 2008, Forbes magazine listed Buffalo as one of the top 10 “fastest dying cities.” The previous year, Harvard economist Edward Glaeser wrote an article entitled “Can Buffalo Ever Come Back?” The subtitle was “Probably Not — and the Government Should Stop Bribing People to Stay There.”
Glaeser argued that decades of public spending — on office towers, sports arenas, urban renewal, and the light rail system — failed to halt Buffalo’s population decline from a high of 585,000 in 1950 to under 290,000 today. The surrounding area has not fared much better; census data shows that the Buffalo-Niagara Metropolitan Statistical Area lost 51,000 people since 2000. Ditto for Rochester; the city’s population fell from 328,000 in 1930 to 219,000 in 2000.
People who leave the area tend to head for the low-tax, pro-growth, right-to-work states of the Sun Belt, especially North Carolina and Florida.
But at least the people have someplace to go. If the Obama “stimulus” program replicates the same kind of heavy-handed political agenda and tax policies found in Western New York on a nationwide basis, where will the people go then?
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/02/the_stimulus_will_lead_america.html at February 19, 2009 – 06:44:03 PM EST
We Are All Socialists Now
In many ways our economy already resembles a European one. As boomers age and spending grows, we will become even more French.
Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas
From the magazine issue dated Feb 16, 2009
The interview was nearly over. on the Fox News Channel last Wednesday evening, Sean Hannity was coming to the end of a segment with Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, the chair of the House Republican Conference and a vociferous foe of President Obama’s nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill. How, Pence had asked rhetorically, was $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts going to put people back to work in Indiana? How would $20 million for “fish passage barriers” (a provision to pay for the removal of barriers in rivers and streams so that fish could migrate freely) help create jobs? Hannity could not have agreed more. “It is … the European Socialist Act of 2009,” the host said, signing off. “We’re counting on you to stop it. Thank you, congressman.”
There it was, just before the commercial: the S word, a favorite among conservatives since John McCain began using it during the presidential campaign. (Remember Joe the Plumber? Sadly, so do we.) But it seems strangely beside the point. The U.S. government has already—under a conservative Republican administration—effectively nationalized the banking and mortgage industries. That seems a stronger sign of socialism than $50 million for art. Whether we want to admit it or not—and many, especially Congressman Pence and Hannity, do not—the America of 2009 is moving toward a modern European state.
We remain a center-right nation in many ways—particularly culturally, and our instinct, once the crisis passes, will be to try to revert to a more free-market style of capitalism—but it was, again, under a conservative GOP administration that we enacted the largest expansion of the welfare state in 30 years: prescription drugs for the elderly. People on the right and the left want government to invest in alternative energies in order to break our addiction to foreign oil. And it is unlikely that even the reddest of states will decline federal money for infrastructural improvements.
If we fail to acknowledge the reality of the growing role of government in the economy, insisting instead on fighting 21st-century wars with 20th-century terms and tactics, then we are doomed to a fractious and unedifying debate. The sooner we understand where we truly stand, the sooner we can think more clearly about how to use government in today’s world.
As the Obama administration presses the largest fiscal bill in American history, caps the salaries of executives at institutions receiving federal aid at $500,000 and introduces a new plan to rescue the banking industry, the unemployment rate is at its highest in 16 years. The Dow has slumped to 1998 levels, and last year mortgage foreclosures rose 81 percent.
All of this is unfolding in an economy that can no longer be understood, even in passing, as the Great Society vs. the Gipper. Whether we like it or not—or even whether many people have thought much about it or not—the numbers clearly suggest that we are headed in a more European direction. A decade ago U.S. government spending was 34.3 percent of GDP, compared with 48.2 percent in the euro zone—a roughly 14-point gap, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2010 U.S. spending is expected to be 39.9 percent of GDP, compared with 47.1 percent in the euro zone—a gap of less than 8 points. As entitlement spending rises over the next decade, we will become even more French.
This is not to say that berets will be all the rage this spring, or that Obama has promised a croissant in every toaster oven. But the simple fact of the matter is that the political conversation, which shifts from time to time, has shifted anew, and for the foreseeable future Americans will be more engaged with questions about how to manage a mixed economy than about whether we should have one.
The architect of this new era of big government? History has a sense of humor, for the man who laid the foundations for the world Obama now rules is George W. Bush, who moved to bail out the financial sector last autumn with $700 billion.
Bush brought the Age of Reagan to a close; now Obama has gone further, reversing Bill Clinton’s end of big government. The story, as always, is complicated. Polls show that Americans don’t trust government and still don’t want big government. They do, however, want what government delivers, like health care and national defense and, now, protections from banking and housing failure. During the roughly three decades since Reagan made big government the enemy and “liberal” an epithet, government did not shrink. It grew. But the economy grew just as fast, so government as a percentage of GDP remained about the same. Much of that economic growth was real, but for the past five years or so, it has borne a suspicious resemblance to Bernie Madoff’s stock fund. Americans have been living high on borrowed money (the savings rate dropped from 7.6 percent in 1992 to less than zero in 2005) while financiers built castles in the air.
Now comes the reckoning. The answer may indeed be more government. In the short run, since neither consumers nor business is likely to do it, the government will have to stimulate the economy. And in the long run, an aging population and global warming and higher energy costs will demand more government taxing and spending. The catch is that more government intrusion in the economy will almost surely limit growth (as it has in Europe, where a big welfare state has caused chronic high unemployment). Growth has always been America’s birthright and saving grace.
The Obama administration is caught in a paradox. It must borrow and spend to fix a crisis created by too much borrowing and spending. Having pumped the economy up with a stimulus, the president will have to cut the growth of entitlement spending by holding down health care and retirement costs and still invest in ways that will produce long-term growth. Obama talks of the need for smart government. To get the balance between America and France right, the new president will need all the smarts he can summon.
URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/183663© 2009
By Mark Sanford, Special to CNN, Editor’s note: Mark Sanford, a Republican, is governor of South Carolina.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) — When a debate as important — both in terms of policy and politics — as the one currently rolling around our nation regarding the president’s “stimulus” plan takes place, emotion often takes precedence over fact.
Words are ripped out of context, motives ascribed where none may exist, political strategies implemented with limited regard for actuality. This, then, is the playing field we step onto — as it has long been.
But, as those in South Carolina have often heard me say, it is important to disagree without being disagreeable. So let’s take a clear-eyed look at Paul Begala’s recent defense of the president, which happened to refer to me by name — because what I and others have suggested is far from “doing nothing.”
First, dispense with the notion that there are simply two options here: Support the stimulus package or do nothing. The Washington Post debunked that idea quite convincingly earlier this week.
In truth, there are a variety of options outside a spending bill of unprecedented scope available in this time of considerable economic distress, including, but not limited to, cutting the payroll tax, opening foreign markets through an expansion of our trade agreements, and reducing our corporate tax, which is among the highest worldwide.
Second, we should all be skeptical of any argument centered on the idea of doing something for doing something’s sake. We can’t focus on the why and simply ignore the what. And what does this particular rendition of “doing something” actually do?
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the effects of the bill on job growth as early as 2011 would be miniscule. More distressingly, CBO’s long-term projections estimate that due to “crowding out of private investment,” the package will result in a reduction of our GDP as early as 2019.
As for the jobs created in the short-term, what’s the cost? The Heritage Foundation crunched the president’s own numbers and came up with this startling figure: for every single job the bill creates, American taxpayers will spend $223,000.
Examining the bill’s contents makes clear just how foolhardy that is. What stimulant effect will we get from the $180 million of spending on “diplomatic and consular services?” Should taxpayers really be doling out $300 million for what one newspaper described as “streamlined golf carts?”
And, even though it didn’t make it into the final version of the bill, why would anyone even consider letting the very investment bankers whose companies just pulled down a few hundred million dollars in TARP funds to be in line to receive a $15,000 government credit for buying a new Hamptons beach house?
Finally, history shows us quite clearly that a government cannot spend its way out of an economic downturn. It didn’t work in Japan in the 1990s, when the 10 stimulus packages implemented over an eight year period failed to prevent the “lost decade.” And the New Deal, which the president’s supporters are so quick to point to?
Here are the thoughts of Henry Morgenthau, FDR’s Treasury Secretary: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. … I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started … And an enormous debt to boot!”
The president’s stimulus represents the largest and most invasive economic action in our government’s history. For a relatively small number of short-term jobs, this administration and this Congress are poised to mortgage the economic future of my four boys and the millions of young Americans just like them. To me, that’s simply not a morally acceptable outcome.
2008 Cable News Network
Republicans as Democrats: Part II
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
In an era when so many people seem to be focused on “the first” of any group to do something, maybe it was not so surprising when someone on television pointed out the first Australian to play in a Super Bowl.
After all the hoopla over Barack Obama’s becoming the first person of his complexion to become President, it was perhaps inevitable that there would be a small echo of that when Michael Steele became the first black head of the Republican National Committee.
For those of us who are still so old-fashioned as to be concerned about someone’s ability to do the job, the question about Michael Steele is whether he can pick up the shattered pieces of the Republicans and put them together again to form a winning party. That is going to a whale of a job, for anybody of any complexion, “gender” or whatever.
As a political candidate, the question about Michael Steele would be the usual ones about his ideology, his track record in office and the like.
As chairman of a political party, however, the question is whether Michael Steele can represent that party to the public. This is especially important when the party is out of power and has neither a President in the White House nor a leader commanding a majority in either House of Congress.
One of the huge and perennial handicaps of the Republicans is that they seldom have anybody who can articulate their case to the public. It is hard to win the White House with candidates like Bob Dole and John McCain.
That was why Governor Sarah Palin was such a sensation in arousing the grassroots Republicans. She could talk!
Try to name five articulate Republicans. Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln come to mind. After that, you have to rack your brain.
Newt Gingrich has been good at the low-key, understated kind of discussion that a professor– which he once was– conducts around a seminar table.
But the rough and tumble of politics is not a seminar. Bill Clinton completely out-talked Gingrich and the whole Republican leadership during the government shutdown crisis of 1995.
It was painful watching the Republicans trying to explain the simple truth half as well as Clinton promoted a lie. Republicans got blamed for shutting down the government, even though they had appropriated plenty of money to keep the government running.
Michael Steele can talk. That is even rarer among Republicans than being black.
Too many Republicans don’t even seem to understand the need to talk. They seem to think it is something you have to go through the motions of doing but, really, they would rather be somewhere else, doing something else.
When the first President Bush looked at his watch during a nationally televised Presidential debate, he epitomized what has been wrong with Republicans for years.
A member of the audience had just asked a stupid question. Ronald Reagan would have been all over him, like a linebacker blitzing a quarterback. But Bush 41 just looked at his watch, as if he couldn’t wait for this to be over.
Michael Steele not only knows how to talk, he seems to understand the need to talk. In his appearances on television over the years, he has been assertive rather than apologetic. When attacked, he has counter-attacked, not whined defensively, like too many other Republicans.
When criticizing the current administration, Steele won’t have to pull his punches when going after Barack Obama, for fear of being called a racist.
Beyond that, one can only hope that Michael Steele understands what has been so disastrously wrong with the inept way Republicans have gone after the black vote for the past 30 years, by trying to be imitation Democrats.
There are numerous issues on which Democrats have pushed policies that are very harmful to blacks, especially supporting the teachers’ unions instead of parental choice. But, however good the case, somebody has to make it. Somebody has to talk.
Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.
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Republicans as Democrats
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
A brief glimmer of sanity among Congressional Republicans has been followed, almost immediately, by a return to the more traditional Washington insanity.
Last week, every single Republican in the House of Representatives voted against the Obama administration’s “stimulus” package– which had stimulated an orgy of runaway spending by Congressional Democrats on everything from sports arenas to sexually transmitted diseases.
This was a rare smart move by the Republicans. If the Republicans had gone along, pursuing the will o’ the wisp of “bipartisanship,” then if the stimulus had by some miracle succeeded, it would have been a bill for which Democrats would claim credit at the next election.
On the other hand, if the stimulus failed– which seems far more likely– then it would be called a “bipartisan” bill, meaning that the Democrats would pay no price at the next election for a colossal failure.
Since President Bush started the “stimulus package” game, this was also an opportunity for Congressional Republicans to cut themselves loose from the political baggage of the Bush administration’s unpopularity.
Within 24 hours, however, Republicans in the Senate came out with a plan to have the government fix mortgage interest rates at four percent– and use taxpayers’ money to cover the losses that lenders would otherwise sustain.
It is painfully obvious that government intervention in the housing markets over the past several years has been at the heart of the boom and bust that has led to a huge economic downturn.
It was not the market, but the government, that pushed for abandoning traditional standards for making mortgage loans. That was what got both borrowers and lenders way out on a limb– and set off economic shock waves when the limb broke.
The last time the Republicans pushed for price controls was during the Nixon administration. It was very popular in the short run. But, in the long run, even Nixon admitted in his memoirs that it was bad for the country.
Price controls have been tried and failed, in countries around the world, going all the way back to ancient Rome and Babylon. Moreover, politicians intervening in the economy is the hallmark of Democrats.
What principle separates the Republicans from the Democrats? If they are just Tweedledee and Tweedledum, then elections come down to personality and rhetoric. If that happens, you can bet the rent money on the Democrats winning.
Those considered to be the smart money among Republicans have been saying for some time that the party has to become more “inclusive” and jettison “outmoded” principles of the Reagan era. But no one has to pass an IQ test to be considered part of the smart money.
Looking at the track record, rather than the rhetoric, the smart money doesn’t look nearly as smart.
When have the Republicans won big? When they stood for something and told the people what that something was.
Ronald Reagan was the classic example. But another example would be the stunning Republican victories in the 1994 Congressional elections, which put them in control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.
Articulating the message of Newt Gingrich’s “contract for America” was a key to that historic victory.
Too many Republicans seem to think that being “inclusive” means selling out your principles to try to attract votes. It never seems to occur to them that you can attract a wider range of voters by explaining your principles in a way that more people understand.
That is precisely what Reagan did and what Gingrich did in 1994. Most Americans’ principles are closer to those of the Republicans than to those of the Democrats.
It is the only advantage the Republicans have. The Democrats have the media, the unions, the environmental extremists and the tort lawyers on their side. Why should Republicans throw away their one advantage by becoming imitation Democrats?
Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.
Shhh: Al Qaeda leadership decimated, complete defeat foreseeableposted at 2:00 pm on February 3, 2009 by Allahpundit
Send to a Friend | Share on Facebook | printer-friendly Election’s over. Now it can be told.
The officials say the terrorist network’s leadership cadre has been “decimated,” with up to a dozen senior and midlevel operatives killed as a result of the strikes and the remaining leaders reeling from the repeated attacks.
“The enemy is really, really struggling,” says one senior U.S. counterterrorism official. “These attacks have produced the broadest, deepest and most rapid reduction in al-Qaida senior leadership that we’ve seen in several years.”…
“In the past, you could take out the No. 3 al-Qaida leader, and No. 4 just moved up to take his place,” says one official. “Well, if you take out No. 3, No. 4 and then 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, it suddenly becomes a lot more difficult to revive the leadership cadre.”
It ain’t all good news — 100 operatives who trained at the camps are thought to be on the loose and the Taliban keeps forcing the U.S. to lower expectations in Afghanistan — but it’s a big deal. See my update to Ed’s post on the airstrike that took out the embassy bombers last month for a round-up of America’s latest, greatest hits. The pace is remarkably consistent: Every two months or so for fully a year now, one of the AQ illuminati has gotten a ticket to meet Allah. Something profound’s happened to our intel capabilities over there but I can only marvel at what it might be. More informants, sure, but how many and how close are they to the top? The more big fish we kill, the more paranoid AQ must be, yet somehow they still haven’t caught whoever it is that’s ratting them out. A French analyst told the LA Times as far back as last May that he suspected the U.S. is using better technology too, a point the NPR story supports in touting the advantages of the new Reaper drones over Predators. And yet … it seems like there’s something bigger going on. Maybe now that The One’s in office and good news is safe to report again (see also Iraq) the media will start sniffing around. Irresponsible exit speculation: Newsweek ran two fascinating stories in the summer of 2007 — not long before the airstrikes picked up — about feuds within Al Qaeda, one supposedly between the “Egyptian” and “Libyan” wings of the group and another between Zawahiri and Osama himself. Are these turds dropping a dime on each other to eliminate their competition?
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February 03, 2009
Congress: The New Power Class
By Larrey Anderson
There is no native criminal class except Congress.
– Mark Twain
Traditionally Americans have loved to hate their Congress. But in the last several years our country has changed. Most clear thinking Americans no longer hate our Congress — we now fear it.
The reason for this fear is, and should be, deeply disturbing. Those who have carefully followed the bailout bills that Congress has recently passed know just how pervasive the corruption has become. But the whole story goes much deeper than mere trillions of dollars. America is losing (or has already lost) its constitutional republic.
Americans also traditionally love to hate the rich and powerful. Tales of the 19th century “robber barons” have the cultural status of epic myths in American history. Even if they were greedy and unscrupulous, the Rockefellers, Mellons, and Carnagies helped create wealth in this country. The acquisitions of their personal fortunes may have been ruthlessly pursued; but their fortunes were not solely obtained by stealing money from their fellow citizens using the power of the central government.
The robber barons became powerful because they created wealth. In that sense, these men earned their power and influence. Congress has turned this principle on its head. Our elected representatives become wealthy because they wield their political power in an unconstitutional, and often illegal, manner. The new power class in America is not productive … it is Machiavellian.
Let’s begin with a recent example. A young man is elected to the state legislature. His wife is given a make believe job as director of “community services” for a large hospital that receives state funds. The young man runs successfully for the U.S. Senate. His wife’s salary is tripled because the hospital receives more federal than state funds.
The young man leaves the senate for another position. His wife no longer needs the “job” — and the hospital decides that it no longer needs a director of “community services.”
Instead of facing a criminal investigation for accepting bribes and illegal political contributions, the young man and his wife are lauded for their “service.” How bad has the venality become? How ingrained is the acceptance of this kind of fraud in our culture? Fifty two percent of America’s voters recently elected this man president … and his wife is now the first lady.
This is but one of thousands of examples. America faces “pay-to-play” extortion in its politics at unprecedented levels — especially at the federal level.
There was a brief window of opportunity for our elected officials to stop the graft. The Republicans took the majority from the Democrats in Congress in 1994 on the heels of multiple revelations of massive fraud by the Democrats.
The Republicans had a plan and a playbook. It was called “Republican Contract with America.” Here are the actual promises that were made:
FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.
The plan lasted about two years. The Republicans discovered that it was much easier to raise a million dollars by having lunch on K Street, than it was getting 10,000 of their constituents to pop for a hundred bucks each. Republicans reneged on their contract and set about strong arming K Street lobbyists. In short, the Republicans became a more traditional power class, following the historical example set by the Democrats.
The Democrats, finding themselves out of power for the first time in 50 years, had other ideas. Why not figure out a way to make pay-for-play an insiders game? The federal government spends trillions of dollars a year, why not make the organizations on the receiving end of those trillions kick back a few hundred mil?
And so the Democrats (and a few quick thinking Republicans) figured out how to take their bribes from the government itself (and from institutions that heavily rely on government funding). The Democrats already had the teachers unions on their thumb — and there were many other plums in little Jack Horner’s pie.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government or quasi-government unions like the AFGE, SEIU, AFSCME, and the NEA could all be tapped to give back a chunk of the federal government’s largess.
And so they have. The Congress has created its own source of perpetual political funding. We pay taxes, the government doles out our money, and those receiving the money pay off the people who voted to send these special interests our money in the first place.
The Congress has created the perfect storm for the taxpayer and perfect weather for smooth campaign finance sailing. Republicans keep on lunching down on K Street with the lobbyists. The Democrats have rigged the bailouts (using the paybacks to the special interest groups that receive them) to free up more time for golf. Incumbents, from both parties who support this plunder, are going to remain in office for a long, long time.
All of this funding and fraud is unconstitutional. The Constitution is very specific about the powers granted to the congress. Article II, Section 8 – Powers of Congress is less than 500 words in length. Nowhere in those 500 words is there any mention of bailing out private banks or private companies, setting up government guaranteed financing of private homes, cash for Amtrak, cash for “artists,” cash for education, cash for ACORN and “community services,” cash for global warming research, cash for digital TVs, and on and on and on. Nor is there any verbiage in the Constitution that allows the congress to be funded by the recipients of its spending.
But most kids, who have been educated in our public school system over the last twenty years, have never read Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution. The fact is that the majority of the citizens of this once great nation of ours have no idea that they have been (and will continue to be until our economy collapses) both deceived by their political leaders … and fleeced.
Our Congress is the new power class of America — a robber baron pretending to be a Robin Hood.
This new power class of professional politicians has learned much from the political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli. Machiavelli is the philosopher who first laid down the principles for ruling purely from a position of power. He said the following:
¨ I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.
¨ Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions.
¨ Benefits should be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better.
¨ A wise ruler ought never to keep faith when by doing so it would be against his interests.
¨ No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.
¨ The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all.
Machiavelli wrote the rulebook for our new “power class” in Congress. Read that list from him one more time. Think, while you are reading the list, this one word: “bailouts.”
Larrey Anderson is a writer, a philosopher, and submissions editor for American Thinker. His latest award-winning novel is The Order of the Beloved. His memoir, Underground: Life and Survival in the Russian Black Market, has just been released.
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February 03, 2009
Our Indentured Servanthood Returneth
By Lee Cary
Everything old is new again. Indentured servitude helped build America. It threatens to return as we undo the gift of liberty that was our inherited posterity. The nation itself will indentured to massive debt, if the Senate approves the stimulus bill.
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.” (This provision, original to the Constitution of the United States, Section 2, was modified by the 14 Amendment, Section 2, in 1868, to read: “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”)
The 111th Congress is poised to extend the timeline of America’s debt bondage to firmly indeterminate, as we return to our past and become ever more a nation of indentured servants.
Our Senators and Representatives are reenacting the role of the ship captains and English merchants who slid indenture contracts across tables to be signed by economically desperate people in exchange for their shipboard passage to the Colonies.
Their signatures, often merely an X, committed them to a perilous eight-to-twelve weeks sea journey followed by four-to-seven years of service to masters, often a large Colonial landowner, perhaps a Virginia or Maryland tobacco planter, who purchased their certificates upon their arrival here. A 17th Century form of derivative.
Indentured servants first arrived in America soon after the Virginia Company settled Jamestown in 1607. Many came in the wake of The Thirty Years’ War to escape Europe’s depressed economy. Estimates of their numbers suggest that,
One half to two thirds of all immigrants to Colonial America arrived as indentured servants. At times, as many as 75% of the population of some colonies were under terms of indenture.
The individual fates of indentured servants depended, in large part, on who bought their indenture certificate. Some families were split out among different landowners. More than a few were harshly treated by masters not of their choosing.
Like slaves, servants could be bought and sold, could not marry without the permission of their owner, were subject to physical punishment, and saw their obligations to labor enforced by the courts. To ensure uninterrupted work by the female servants, the law lengthened the term of their indenture if they became pregnant.
Indentured servants were bound, not by chains of slavery, but by chains of debt. Africans first came to America as indentured servants, not as slaves. In time, though, landowners turned to slavery as a more cost-effective and renewable labor source.
Now, in the 21st Century, we’re moving the clock of our history backward as the National Debt clock stood yesterday at about $10,638,798,680. But since it’s not a static number, that’s not the accurate figure as you read this. It increases over $3,000,000,000 each day.
National Debt passed the $7 trillion mark on January 15, 2005. It eclipsed $8 trillion on October 18, 2006. The 2009 Federal Budget deficit, plus the 2008 bailout package, plus the proposed stimulus bill, will take us into the neighborhood of $13 trillion. (Add to that the talk of a new multi-trillion TARP expenditure and zeros are in danger of becoming the next endangered species.)
It’s a big neighborhood, whatever the number. How it splits out, who owes who what, is complex and ugly. One giant, financial Frankenstein, growing ever larger, and more dangerous.
We wring our hands and wonder aloud how our grandchildren will pay it off. The answer is – They won’t. They can’t.
We’ll not leave them a legacy of debt to be paid but a fate of indentured servanthood of indeterminate length. Future generations of Americans will be increasingly more subject to the masters who will define their terms of indenture. Those masters, within and outside our borders, hold our children’s indenture certificates.
As a candidate, President Barack Hussein Obama’s Plan for America (p.28) promised to:
Restore Fiscal discipline in Congress
Obama will reinstate pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budget rules, so that new spending or tax cuts are paid for by spending costs or new revenue elsewhere.
Cut Pork Barrel Spending
Obama will cut skyrocketing pork barrel spending projects by forcing more transparency about who is requesting projects and what the projects would accomplish before Congress votes to approve them.
That same document quotes his March 13, 2006 speech to the U.S. Senate:
“If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we’d see an effort to reduce our nation debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies.”
More Obama doublethink.
Quadrillion comes after trillion.
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