Found at Theo Sparks. Go for the fun, stay for the cheesecake.
A painful trip down memory lane
First from Nile Gardiner, writing in The Telegraph, in response to an amusingly frightful column by the NY Times' Paul Krugman*. Mr. Krugman tries to scare the populace. Escape while you can!! The evil multi-headed Republican monster is coming!! Run for your lives!!
Mr. Gardiner calmly, and coolly replies:
Not only is Krugman’s article one of the most ridiculous pieces of scare-mongering in the history of modern American journalism, but it is the pathetic whimper of a decaying liberal Ancien Regime that is spectacularly crumbling. It also illustrates just how out of touch liberal elites are with public opinion, as well as economic reality. The tired old blame Bush line no longer works, and as a recent poll showed, the former president’s popularity is rising again.
Whether Krugman likes it or not, the American people are turning overwhelmingly against Barack Obama’s Big Government agenda, and are looking for free market solutions to getting the country back on its feet, creating jobs and cutting the nation’s debt. As poll after poll shows, Americans are rejecting the liberal status quo and embracing the political revolution sweeping the country. My guess is that historians will look back on November 2010 not as a “catastrophe”, as Krugman declares, but as the beginning of a powerful new era for the United States, when conservatism and the cause of freedom made a striking comeback.
Indeed, Virginia, there can be a Republican renaissance. Given his NY Times opinion today, among other nonsense Mr. Krugman has written, I think it far more likely that he will be forced in the future to admit he knows little about real-world capitalist economics than that his predictions of Republican-caused disaster (as if we're not already experiencing a Democrat-enhanced disaster) come to fruition. For example, see quote #2, from Harvard's Jeffrey Miron. He writes that the 'stimulus' was badly designed and badly executed. No kidding. (pdf)
I argue here, however, that the structure of a fiscal stimulus is crucially important and that the package Congress adopted was far from ideal, regardless of the merits of the Keynesian model...
That the Administration and Congress chose the particular stimulus adopted suggests that stimulating the economy was not their only objective. Instead, the Administration used the recession and the financial crisis to redistribute resources to favored interest groups (unions, the green lobby, and public education) and to increase the size and scope of government.4 This redistribution does not make every element of the package indefensible, but even the components with a plausible justification were designed in the least productive and most redistributionist way possible.
Mr. Krugman continues to write the first 'stimulus' should have been much larger (i.e., more debt), and advocates a second 'stimulus' now. I ask you, should we take Mr. Krugman's advice and let the corrupt Democrat simpletons who wrote the first one to "redistribute resources to favored interest groups" and "to increase the size and scope of government" have another go at it?
*noted former Enron advisor
Doctor Zero presents the case over at Hot Air. It's airtight, and damning. My advice is to read it slowly and take the time to click on the numerous supporting links, for that is where the evidence lays.
One other thing to consider before you enter the voting booth on Tuesday. Is it better to allow an imperial Congress to continually raise taxes in order to spend ever more stupidly (on, for example, health care reforms that remove both freedom and choice from Americans' lives and 'stimulus' including non-existent "shovel ready projects"), or better to make it clear that such nonsense during an economic downturn will not be allowed and, in fact, will be punished by the governed. Because after reading Doc Zero's indictment of the 111th Congress it should be clear that they need an historic and undeniable message sent loudly and clearly.
From ABC News, of all places! Remember this when you go to the polls on Tuesday.
As you watch this year's ads -- and I've been watching all too many lately -- you'll notice a striking difference between Democratic and Republican attack ads: Democrats are attacking over personal issues, Republicans are attacking over policy.
Of course. And voters who disagree, and still plan to vote for this rancid collection of human refuse running with an 'R' next to their name? Why, Senator John Kerry knows who you are.
"It's absurd. We've lost our minds," said a clearly exasperated Kerry. "We're in a period of know-nothingism in the country, where truth and science and facts don't weigh in. It's all short-order, lowest common denominator, cheap-seat politics."
First, Senator, just exactly who are you calling "know nothings," (wrote the orthopaedic surgeon/engineer)? Second, if one party is practicing "lowest common denominator, cheap-seat politics" wouldn't you say it's the one using the personal attacks and "gotcha!" politics (see Paul, Rand: assault by MoveOn.org hired protestor)
Gallup Poll, 2008, likely voters: "Democrats lead big on generic ballot"
Gallup Poll, 2009, registered voters: "Generic Ballot Provides Clues For 2010 Vote"
"Republicans could have a good year..."
Gallup Poll, 2010, likely voters: "Republicans Remain In Control Of Race For House"
By the way, have a look at those numbers. Over the last 4 weeks they've been incredibly consistent.
Now, I'm no expert on polling. I'm don't generally crawl into a poll's internals and extract profound insights that would otherwise remain obscure. But this is one polling outfit, a highly respected one, using their own likely voter models both in 2010 and 2008. And we see a swing of 21 pts. in the high turnout model and 26 pts. in the low turnout model. (I actually suspect it'll be somewhere between the two - higher than normal for midterms, but not "high" as in presidential years.) Mr. Obama won the 2008 election with 53% of the vote, vs. 46% for John McCain, when Democrats were +12 on the Gallup generic and turned out historic numbers of voters. Now they're -9 (or more).
So explain this to me, okay?
“I still feel confident that it is a very close race in terms of the House. You’ve got close races all across the country,” President Obama said, “So we’re going to have to wait and see what happens. And a lot of it is going to depend on turnout.”…
Mike Damone strikes again!!
10/28/10 0705: Gallup posts its likely voter model for this election - and if you favor the "D" you'd better get ready for what it will stand for post-election. Depression. 55-40?
Specifically, 55% of likely voters in Gallup's Oct. 14-24, 2010, polling are Republicans and independents who lean Republican. This is higher than the Republican showing in the past four midterm elections, although not too dissimilar to the 51% found in 2002. The corollary of this is that the 40% of likely voters now identifying as Democratic is the lowest such percentage of the past several midterms.
National Journal reports that voting for ObamaCare, Obama's health care reform stealth government takeover, has proved particularly poisonous to incumbent Democrats, particularly the Blue Dogs.
But the reality that Democrats hate to discuss – and even some Republicans have been hesitant to fully embrace – is that the party’s signature health care law is what’s turning a bad election year into a disaster of potential history-making proportions.
It was the debate over health care that propelled now-Sen. Scott Brown’s unlikely special election victory in Massachusetts back in January. And it’s the growing unpopularity of the new law that’s fueling Republican energy, turning off independents and jeopardizing the prospects of dozens of Democrats who looked like locks for reelection just a year ago.
Josh Kraushaar details not only those Democrats who, despite the conservative nature of their districts, voted for the bill and now find themselves afloat on rocky seas with no oar, but also lists those who opposed the bill and may indeed survive the turbulent waters.
This only makes sense. The Democrats who voted for the bill against the judgment and wishes of their own constituents are in trouble precisely for that reason. They were sent to Congress to represent the people of their district. But they didn't. Instead they were sold a bill of goods by statists anxious to annex one-sixth of the U.S. economy, told to vote for a bill that no one in Congress had ever read, the "negotiations" replete with back-room deals, threats, and promises that could not be kept. Voters in their districts were against it, but that didn't stop them. Does the name Bart Stupak ring a bell?
The people in general don't like the bill, by roughly 56-44, depending on which poll you believe. Contrary to the claims of Mr. Obama and his minions, it is not getting more popular, but less. If you subtracted those in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago from the mix the weight of opinion against this bill is sharply negative, maybe as high as 70-30. And guess what? These Democrats in trouble don't represent the people in NY, LA, SF, Seattle, Boston, Philly or Chicago. They represent the others, the ones who hate it.
Or, rather, they represent them, for now.
Mr. Kraushaar makes the rather obvious point that this election really is about policy, not about money or messaging. The Democrats keep trying to make it about the latter items, by insisting that they just haven't been communicating well enough, or stating that people who are scared are simply not up to listening to science or facts, or bleating about the US Chamber of Commerce and "foreign money." But they know what it's really about, and they don't like it and can't admit it.
A brief glance at a few interesting tidbits this fine Sunday night.
"This is what her and her kind all around this country are using, this is part of the talking points of the right-wing Republicans," Reid said in an interview on CNN.
As opposed to the left-wing Democrats, who never say anything insulting about their opponenets. "This is what her and her kind all around this country are using?" Classic. His high school English teacher must be very proud. By the way, what does he mean, "her kind?"
In a bold prediction – either a sign he is wiser than the conventional wisdom [ed: highly unlikely], eternally optimistic [ed: err, doubtful], or staying on message until the bitter end [ed: bingo!!] – [DNC chairman Tim] Kaine told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour that Democrats would maintain control of the House in the midterm elections nine days from now.
This is a demonstration of item 3 in the Mike Damone theory of dating, as applied to politics. No matter where you are, always act like that's the place to be.
BERKELEY, Calif.—On the night before we are scheduled to address this conference, the Tea Party experts are treated to a meal at the Faculty Club. It sounds fancy, and it is, with the feel and décor of a Sundance ski lodge. Over craft beers, wine, and cheese, we discuss that favorite topic of liberal academics: What the hell happened to Barack Obama? Why does the right have all the energy that he and the left used to own?
Frye shakes his head in disbelief. "What he [Obama] needed was a job program that addressed the inner cities. It didn't even have to cost that much." He shakes his head again. "I think he really believes this bipartisan s**t."
Bipartisan? Who's more clueless, Mr. Frye for saying it, or Dave Wiegel for writing it without scare quotes and snickers. Mr. Obama's been too bipartisan, obviously, with a wholly Democratic 'stimulus' bill because "I won" and a health care bill passed with no Republican input and, as a result, no Republican support? Right. Maybe it was the craft beer that addled his pate. But it's not his fault. The President couldn't possibly work with Republicans. They were all stuck in the ditch, with the car in "R," drinking a Slurpee.
Hmmmm. What was that I wrote about Democrats never insulting their opponents?
The First Amendment to the Constitution reads simply this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
"Congress shall make no law..." That does not apply to private, or rather public-funded companies, and taxpayer-funded NPR fired longtime analyst and senior correspondent Juan Williams, who also contributes regularly to Fox News, for expressing the simple sentiment that he feels a little anxious seeing someone wearing traditional Muslim attire on an airplane with him. NPR did so in response to a deluge of "listener email." Here are a few snippets from commentary on the topic, well worth considering.
From Emilio Karim Dabul, journalist, in today's Wall Street Journal:
I grew up surrounded by Islamic culture, went to Islamic events, and was used to seeing women in traditional Muslim clothing, and yet when that woman appeared at the Berlin airport, I was scared.
That's all Mr. Williams was saying. He didn't say that they should be removed from the plane, treated differently, or anything close to that. He simply said he got nervous. And for that, he was fired.
The reality is that when Muslims cease to be the main perpetrators of terrorism in the world, such fears about traditional garb are bound to vanish. Until such time, the anxiety will remain. In the long run, it's what we do with such fears that matters, not that we have them.
CAIR has taken it to another level by denouncing an "sizeable minority" of Americans who "think it is legitimate to single out Muslims for special scrutiny." Unfortunately there's a "sizeable minority" in their own backyard that should be highlighted, as Geoff at Ace of Spades identifies.
But you also have a sizeable minority of Muslims who think it is legitimate to indiscriminately kill peaceful folk and deny them the lives all other people hold dear. That viewpoint expresses intolerance and bigotry on a level far beyond "special scrutiny."
Until CAIR acknowledges the sizeable minority that concerns us, I don't see why we should acknowledge the one that concerns them.
A WSJ editorial points out the obvious - that Mr. Williams association with Fox News likely was the heavy load, and one additional brick caused the collapse.
They finally found a way to get rid of Juan Williams.
It has long been one of the most open secrets in the world of punditry (which needless to say, includes NPR's "analysts"), that NPR's progressive political base was unhappy with Mr. Williams's appearances on Fox as existentially incompatible with their worldview.
Mr. Williams and I disagreed on many things; I found particular disagreement with his acceptance of unsupported accusations of racism from Democrats, such as those that arose in connection with the "n-word" being allegedly hurled at congressmen in Washington last spring.
It is a fact that the tea party is an overwhelmingly older, white and suburban crowd. It is true that Republicans in Congress are almost completely white. And it is also true, according to some black and gay Democrats, that a tea party rally against health-care reform at the Capitol degenerated into ugly scenes in which racial and homophobic epithets were used and spit flew on some members of Congress. There are suspicions that tea party anger boiled over into the spate of personal threats against Democrats who voted for the health-care bill.
There's still no evidence whatsoever to support those accusations, which should not be taken at face value. In fact, the evidence is strong that it did not. Still, to Mr. Williams credit, he defended the tea party against the blanket smear of racism.
The tea party is not the problem. Whether you like them or not they do seem to have captured the political angst in the electorate, without regard to skin color.
Mr. Williams has the right to express concerns regarding the presence of Muslims on airplanes. Given the history - 9/11, the underwear bomber, the shoe bomber - those concerns are not unreasonable by any stretch. And NPR, publicly funded though it is, has the option of terminating his employment.
Of course, even-handedness could have caused them to terminate his employment for participating in the smear of the tea party last march with his support of the false accusations. Taken together they betray what NPR has become, an organization that is not committed to freedom of expression that offends liberals.
10/22/10 1340: More, from Juan Williams himself:
Yesterday NPR fired me for telling the truth. The truth is that I worry when I am getting on an airplane and see people dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims.
I took Bill’s challenge and began by saying that political correctness can cause people to become so paralyzed that they don’t deal with reality. And the fact is that it was a group of Muslims who attacked the U.S. I added that radicalism has continued to pose a threat to the United States and much of the world. That threat was expressed in court last week by the unsuccessful Times Square bomber who bragged that he was just one of the first engaged in a “Muslim War” against the United States. -- There is no doubt that there's a real war and people are trying to kill us.
Mr. Williams is a rational, very slightly leftist thinker who throws no bombs, eschewing the outrageous, and carefully considering the worthy arguments of both sides. I still disagree with him at times; I rarely find his arguments wholly irrational or without basis in at least some fact. The disagreements usually stem more from interpretation. Here he's being rational once again.
Two stories at Politico.com this morning. Same author, Jeanne Cummings. Same topic for discussion, political donations. Two different perspectives. First up, it turns out that wealthy Democratic donors are now jumping in with hefty funds. And just in time!
Wealthy Democratic donors are making a late entry into the midterm elections, hoping to build a firewall around a small group of vulnerable incumbents and protect the party’s majority in the House and Senate.
America’s Families First Action Fund in late September gathered $1.7 million from a dozen individual donors and one union, The International Association of Firefighters, which pitched in $500,000 to make it the group's largest donor, according to Federal Election Commission disclosure reports.
The America’s Families Action Fund is one of three newly formed Democratic committees not aligned with a union that are swooping in during the final weeks, hoping to stall the Republicans’ momentum. Disclosure reports for the other two, The Patriot Majority PAC and Commonsense Ten, were not available.
As is the case for the Republican outside groups, the Democratic organizations, including labor unions, are trying to coordinate their efforts to avoid overlap and maximize their combined resources.
Those valiant Democratic donors, stepping forth with their checkbooks gallantly trying to stave off the vandals at the castle perimeter! Notice how Ms. Cummings downplays the fact that unions such as SEIU are (still, like always) flooding the zone with campaign ads and money in support of Democratic politicians. Ah, but those evil Republican groups take CORPORATE money, which apparently is not as clean as union money. Certainly the Democratic-leaning groups could do so also.
To drive home that point, the very next story on the Politico.com front page, without any sense of irony, is this:
For years, Harold Simmons was the kind of donor who dipped into his personal fortune and maxed out his donations to Republican Party candidates and committees.
But in a year in which there’s no such thing as maxing out, Simmons has gone one better: he pulled out his corporate checkbook and cut a pair of $1 million checks.
Democrats had warned that wealthy Republican CEOs would grab their company checkbooks and swamp the political landscape.
Turns out, they were pretty much right.
POLITICO found nearly 20 business donations during a review of Federal Election Commission disclosure reports, those filed by more traditional political action committees that must reveal their donors and have announced that this year that they will take oversized corporate cash.
The profile of the 2010 corporate donor that can be gleaned from these public donations suggests that the vast majority of them represent long-time Democratic adversaries and former Bush loyalists.
In case you're pathologically obtuse, you're supposed to see, as Ms. Cummings does, that unions spending millions of their members' dues on political activity in favor of Democrats and wealthy Democratic donors stepping up with their checkbooks is good and clean and wholesome and necessary, while wealthy Republican donors using millions of corporate dollars is evil and unhealthy for our democracy and should be unconstitutional.
You see that, don't you? These big GOP donors are BUSH supporters! They gave to ROVE's organization! And it's CORPORATE money! This is PROBLEM for democracy.
On the other hand, unions taking mandatory union dues and spending them virtually universally in favor of Democrats is no problem, even if the members are far from unanimous in political bent. Many of these unions represent public employees, whose salaries and benefits are paid from taxpayer dollars. Democrats have no qualms about drilling deeper into those taxpayer dollars, so essentially the the unions favor those who will take from non-public employees and transfer the money to public employees. That's apparently good for democracy.
Of course, the elephant in the room is this: it's not the money this election cycle, it's the policies. It's the non-stimulating stimulus. It's the ruination of American healthcare. It's the ongoing government-caused mortgage crisis. It's redistribution. It's accusations of racism where no racism exists. It's cap and trade. It's the politics of smear against groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and individuals like House minority leader John Boehner. The people weren't influenced against Democrats by Republican ads. They were influenced against Democrats by the actions of Democrats in control of the executive and legislative branches of government. The people saw what happened, and what can still happen, and decided that it was not good.
10/17/10 1050: As if to underscore the point I made in the final paragraph above, Powerline references a Rasmussen survey of all Americans, not registered voters or likely voters, and finds that rejection of Democratic political priorities is deep and wide.
Today's Rasmussen Reports illuminates some basic American attitudes that are antithetical to the Democrats: only 16 percent of Americans think the government spends our money wisely and fairly; 70 percent think it does not. (And these are all Americans, not likely voters.) Only 14 percent say the government has too little power and money, while 61 percent think the government already has too much power and money.
In 2008, millions of voters gambled on the hope that the Democrats might have something to offer other than their historic recipe of higher taxes and spending and more government power. Over the last two years, those voters have found out they were wrong.
It should be remembered that those millions of voters thought that about Democrats because they were led to believe that Mr. Obama was a reasonable non-ideological centrist by the Obama campaign and by a complicit media. Not only have voters found out that they were wrong about Democrats, but they also found out that they have been lied to by both the Democrats and the media.
Ron Brownstein has a piece in National Journal discussing accusing the GOP of giving "climate science" the "cold shoulder." In it the logic is laughable. It's purely argument by authority.
When British Foreign Secretary William Hague visited the U.S. last week, he placed combating climate change near the very top of the world's To Do list.
"Climate change is perhaps the 21st century's biggest foreign-policy challenge," Hague declared in a New York City speech. "An effective response to climate change underpins our security and prosperity." The danger was no longer just distant thunder, he suggested, warning that the recent devastating floods in Pakistan heralded the sort of extreme events that will become more common in a warmer world. "While no one weather event can ever be linked with certainty to climate change," he said, "the broad patterns of abnormality seen this year are consistent with climate-change models."
William Hague is not a holdover from the left-leaning Labor Government that British voters ousted last spring. He's not even from the centrist Liberal Democrats who are governing in a coalition with the Conservative Party of Prime Minister David Cameron. Hague is one of Cameron's predecessors as Conservative Party leader.
His strong words make it easier to recognize that Republicans in this country are coalescing around a uniquely dismissive position on climate change. The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones.
Oh, look, Mr. Hague is a conservative, and he believes in AGW!! Since he agrees with Mr. Brownstein, and Mr. Brownstein is obviously right, then Mr. Hague is obviously right. Q.E.D. So let's quote him! All U.S. conservatives should heed the wisdom of their overseas betters.
Sorry, but that's not how it works. Just because a British conservative (British conservatives being to the left of Democratic Senator Ben Nelson politically) happens to espouse this thinking doesn't make it correct. You know what is more likely to sway my views? This. It turns out that Republican objections are not at all "uniquely" dismissive.
How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it.
Professor Lewis follows with his case against the APS, and it is a fairly persuasive argument that the APS has squelched dissent to the detriment of scientific inquiry. His suspicions have to do with research dollars - follow the money. Where Mr. Brownstein talks about "accepted science," quoting the National Academy of Sciences (another organization likely with a financial stake), some scientists see the stamping out of the scientific method. See, for example, the ClimateGate emails.
In another, Phil Jones, the director of the East Anglia climate center, suggested to climate scientist Michael Mann of Penn State University that skeptics' research was unwelcome: We "will keep them out somehow -- even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
Suddenly the silencing of dissent is, somehow, mainstream. Mr. Brownstein and others seek to bully those who dissent into toeing the climate change line with pronouncements from on high, shouting "heretic!" at non-believers. It didn't work with doctors when the AMA supported ObamaCare, and it's not going to work in climate science with those who value the scientific process.
Vice President Joe Biden may become the Delaware Strangler.
The vice president said “if I hear one more Republican tell me about balancing the budget, I am going to strangle them. To the press: that’s a figure of speech.”
The Republicans’ new “Pledge to America,” he said, will increase the debt by $1 trillion.
“These guys have absolutely no credibility, no credibility on debt,” he said. “Folks, look, we’ve seen this movie before. We’ve seen this movie. We know how it ends”
At the risk of my personal safety, I'm going to recommend that the Vice President have a look at Dan Mitchell's most recent video. (via Hot Air)
In reality, I don't think the VP is much of a threat to me. I tested for and received 2nd Brown belt in Kenpo Karate this weekend. I know several effective (and painful) escapes from choke holds.
Yeah, I'm sure that the post-partisan reaching across the aisle is about to flow forth like Bacchanalian wine.
Reshaping the tone and tenor of the White House, President Barack Obama on Friday replaced the colorful and caustic Rahm Emanuel with the private Pete Rouse as his chief of staff, shifting to a new phase of his presidency with a drastically different aide as trusted gatekeeper.
Emanuel's decision to quit the White House and run for Chicago mayor had been so well known that even Obama mocked the lack of suspense. But it still felt like the most important transition to date for the Obama operation, which has been fueled for nearly two years by Emanuel's demands, drive and discipline.
After all, don't you recall, "I won."
With those two words — “I won” — the Democratic president let the Republicans know that debate has been put to rest Nov. 4 .
Former Senator Phil Gramm has in today's Wall Street Journal an interesting look at the Great Depression, and the echoes of FDR's policy choices that he sees in President Obama's policies. He notes that if employment is the measure, the U.S. has done worse with the 'stimulus' than most other countries affected by the financial crisis and recession.
Obama administration officials such as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have argued that without their policies the economy would be worse, and we might have fallen "off a cliff." While this assertion cannot be tested, we can compare the recent experience of other countries to our own.
The chart nearby compares total 2007 employment levels in the United States, the United Kingdom, the 16 euro zone countries, the G-7 countries and all OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries with those of the second quarter of 2010. There are 4.6% fewer people employed in the U.S. today than at the start of the recession. Euro zone countries have lost 1.7% of their jobs. Total employment in the U.K. is down 0.6%, G-7 average employment is down 2.4%, and OECD employment has fallen 1.9%.
This simple comparison suggests two things. First, that American economic policy has been less effective in increasing employment than the policies of other developed nations. Second, that if there was a cliff out there, no country fell off. Those that suffered the most were the most profligate...
Indeed. But Mr. Gramm's look back at the depression-era policies of Mr. Roosevelt finds dramatic increases in spending - which started under Pres. Hoover - and in taxes, that did little to stem the depression, but rather prolonged it. He also finds much of the same tax-the-rich class warfare that we hear from Mr. Obama. This quote from Winston Churchill is instructive.
The Roosevelt administration also conducted a seven-year populist tirade against private business, which FDR denounced as the province of "economic royalists" and "malefactors of great wealth." The war on business and wealth was so traumatic that the League of Nations' 1939 World Economic Survey attributed part of the poor U.S. economic performance to it: "The relations between the leaders of business and the Administration were uneasy, and this uneasiness accentuated the unwillingness of private enterprise to embark on further projects of capital expenditure which might have helped to sustain the economy."
Churchill, who was generally guarded when criticizing New Deal policies, could not hold back. "The disposition to hunt down rich men as if they were noxious beasts," he noted in "Great Contemporaries" (1939), is "a very attractive sport." But "confidence is shaken and enterprise chilled, and the unemployed queue up at the soup kitchens or march out to the public works with ever growing expense to the taxpayer and nothing more appetizing to take home to their families than the leg or wing of what was once a millionaire. . . It is indispensable to the wealth of nations and to the wage and life standards of labour, that capital and credit should be honoured and cherished partners in the economic system. . . ."
Sharp guy, that Churchill. It's too bad his bust is no longer in the White House. Mr. Obama and his fellow Democrats would rather tilt at the windmill of "the wealthy" (otherwise known as "those who employ") for what they perceive as their traditional political gain than pursue policy that would grow the economy. Most economists, and most politicians, in fact, will tell you that it's a bad idea to raise taxes in a struggling economy. Last quarter growth was 1.7%. Positive, but barely so, and in no way indicative of a "robust recovery."
The Boston Globe, no friend of Republicans, finds fault with Obama's Democrats for failing to address the pending tax increase issue before adjourning for midterm campaigning. Predictably, it wanted the tax increase to be blocked for middle class taxpayers but still to take place for the job creators. But nothing was done, and that in itself is a problem.
Democrats worry that they have been robbed of their most valuable populist talking point: that cuts on income taxes should be extended for the middle class, but not for the wealthy.
“It is both a political and a governmental mistake,’’ said Representative Michael Capuano, a Somerville Democrat, of the delayed vote. He pushed for a vote this week and tried floating an alternate proposal — to no avail. “To me, it is a classic example of what’s wrong with Washington.’’
The tax cut extension is expected to remain a political issue over the next few weeks, but not in the way Democrats had initially intended. Rather than using it on the campaign trail against Republicans, Democrats could find themselves on the defensive as the GOP yesterday began framing the vote delay as an example of government ineptitude and cowardice.
Democrats have only themselves to blame for the mess they will see one month from tomorrow. They could have pursued policies that would allow recovery to take place. (Note: government does not create recovery, but it can create the environment for it.) Then, able to point to that accomplishment with pride, with employment once more growing, Mr. Obama and his hyper-partisan, hyper-liberal congressional leadership would have had the political capital necessary to try to pass their agenda with support not just from newspaper editors and CNN/MSNBC talking heads but with some of the 53% that voted for him. Now, however, they chose in their policies the triple binds of hamstringing recovery, robbing Americans of freedom in the healthcare bill, and creating unsustainable debt while threatening tax increases.
And Americans are angry. Rightly.
It took a mind-bogglingly large and ineffective stimulus (Paul Krugman's recommendation for a much larger stimulus notwithstanding) , the takeover of healthcare (one sixth of the U.S. economy), and a takeover of American auto makers and banks to do it, but the Tea Party has grown in importance and influence such that a large number of small government, low taxes, lower regulation, free enterprise types will likely be elected to Congress in about a month. If this article is any indication, they could have found their inspiration in my adopted home state, New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has perfected the art of penny-pinching.
Recently New Hampshire was ranked as the least politically corrupt state in the nation. It is a nice distinction to have, but it also begs the question as to why.
We can talk about how wholesome we are, but the real answer is that New Hampshire taxes less and spends less than most states. Without anything being taxed or government contracts to give out there is little incentive to hire a lobbyist or for a public official to be bribed.
With the stakes at play so low it also means that the state has little ability to do big things. If the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto ever gets old we can just replace it with “Think Small.”
The state legislators get paid - are you ready? - $100 per year. No, that's not a typo. And the Governor is currently a Democrat, but in this state you cannot get elected to that position unless you take the No Income/Sales Tax pledge - a situation which annoys the liberal Concord Monitor no end. Back to "Think Small."
Along with no income stream that’s broad-based — like an income or sales tax — going to state coffers, there is also the fact the state’s budget is kept at, as Rep. Margie Smith, the House finance chair, calls it, at a “structural deficit.” This means that the Legislature approves projects that it has no ability to pay for when you add up the collective price tag. So before anyone takes a look at the next budget and the liabilities, there is no way state revenues can pay for them all. The discussion begins with where do we cut versus what can we grow or what can we sustain.
Washington could use a system like that. Keep cutting until the budget is balanced, and keep taxes constant. Simplify the tax code to eliminate those loopholes and payoffs, that is, stop using the tax code to "enccourage" behavior. The big benefit? Lobbyists won't have any reason to bribe Congressfolk with trips to Munich for Oktoberfest.
So when I see the more and more people climbing on to the smaller government bandwagon I quote John McClain: "Welcome to the party, pal!" The Tea Party may not have started in New Hampshire, but it can certainly point to the Granite State as an example of what they're after.
November is certainly coming. I'm sorry, I just needed this video on my site.
"Fundamentally transform America?" America didn't need "fundamental" transformation, and never has. That should have been the first clue - even before the election in 2008 - that this was not the man for the job. The Obama presidency, with its government takeovers of the financial sector, auto industry and heatlhcare and its unaccountable czars, while accumulating debt at an astonishing pace, and the Democratic Congress with its disdain for constitutional restraint and mystery bills passed in mysterious ways, has forced a sizable segment of the population to finally realize that belief in the infallibility of government is sadly misplaced. We now have unsustainable entitlement programs financed by unpayable debt.
Those of us who never had such a belief in the infallibility of government offer a hearty "welcome aboard" and "it's about time!" to the new guys.
Yeah, and Barack Obama dabbled in cocaine and marijuana. Leaving aside Ms. Malkin's point that the statements occurred during a lighthearted discussion of Halloween, and that Ms. O'Donnell essentially says not that she was a Wiccan but that she dated one, all of you out there who think that the witchcraft thing should doom her but the drug thing showed depth and character development need to explain the double standard.
I opposed Mr. Obama's run for the Oval Office because of his statist/anti-capitalist tendencies and his utter lack of experience and qualifications - concerns which, I might add, have been alarmingly confirmed - not because of some "youthful indiscretions."
For my part, I assume that neither of them are active practitioners currently, and haven't been for some time. Both did things I never even considered, but that's not in itself a valid criterion for keeping people from public office.
And of course, more Python is always in good taste.
Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal writes today of the dilemma facing congressional Democrats as they decide what to do about the looming built-in tax increase due to hit in January, in the middle of this struggling economy. She accurately characterizes the situation, that Democrats had hoped to have a strong recovery going now so that tax increases could be argued as the "responsible" position. But without that strong recovery they are left arguing for an increase in the middle of a recession, and wanting to hit the job creators hardest.
She gives them three options. Option 1 is to raise taxes only on those job creators, the "wealthy," which is Mr. Obama's position. Unfortunately she chooses the language of Mr. Obama and his marketers to frame the debate.
Option No. 1 is for congressional leaders to plunge once again into the legislative breach, this time to threaten and bribe their caucus into passing the Obama plan, which extends tax cuts only for those making less than $250,000. This is a heavy lift, partly because it is hard to find a Democrat who likes the Obama plan.
This is not "extending tax cuts only for those making less than $250,000." This is "preventing a tax increase on those making less than $250,000, but allowing an increase in rates on those above that marker." Tax rates are what they are (and have been for some time now). If rates go up, they go up. If rates are held at the same levels then the increase is prevented. It's easy to get caught up in Demospeak, but they use the "allow tax cuts to expire" imagery to paint a picture of the "proper" level for tax rates being somewhat higher than they currently are, and those who rightly oppose the increase should speak and write in a way that wipes away that foggy imagery and turns it into a crystal clear snapshot.
She does it a couple more times in the column, and each time I cringe. Remember, if nothing is done, taxes will increase on all Americans in January. If Mr. Obama's plan is passed taxes will increase only on those with incomes above $250,000, including many small businesses. And if all of the increases are blocked then tax rates will remain constant. Note that in none of those formulations - which are completely accurate - is anyone anywhere receiving a "cut in tax rates."
Today's Wall Street Journal carries an op-ed by a Harvard political economist, Alberto Alesina, who looked at the relative worth of tax cuts and spending cuts vs. "stimulus" spending and tax increases in dealing with both economic recovery and deficits. If you're an Obama economic model believer, a liberal who trusts that the government can generate economic growth through extraction of cash from the economy redistributing it to favored projects and constituencies the results are not pretty.
In the U.S., meanwhile, recent stimulus packages have proven that the "multiplier"—the effect on GDP per one dollar of increased government spending—is small. Stimulus spending also means that tax increases are coming in the future; such increases will further threaten economic growth.
Economic history shows that even large adjustments in fiscal policy, if based on well-targeted spending cuts, have often led to expansions, not recessions. Fiscal adjustments based on higher taxes, on the other hand, have generally been recessionary...
The composition of fiscal adjustments is therefore critical. Based on what we know, the U.S. and Europe are currently at greater risk from increased stimulus spending than from gradual but credible spending cuts.
Europe seems to have learned the lessons of the past decades: In fact, all the countries currently adjusting their fiscal policy are focusing on spending cuts, not tax hikes. Yet fiscal policy in the U.S. will sooner or later imply higher taxes if spending is not soon reduced.
The evidence from the last 40 years suggests that spending increases meant to stimulate the economy and tax increases meant to reduce deficits are unlikely to achieve their goals. The opposite combination might.
Yesterday another Harvard economist, Robert Barro, hit concordant notes in another Wall Street Journal op-ed.
Now the Obama administration is considering whether to maintain the Bush tax cuts or let them expire. Unfortunately, little of the administration's analysis refers to incentives. Rather the discussion is mainly about whether the poor or the rich spend a greater fraction of added disposable income, whether the rich can afford to pay more taxes, and so on.
From the standpoint of incentives, the important point is that higher marginal tax rates harm the economy. For example, if all of the 2003 Bush tax cuts (which alone reduced the average marginal rate by two percentage points) were undone for 2011, I estimate that GDP growth for 2011-12 would be reduced by 1.1 percentage points...
My hope is that the administration will shift away from programs based on Keynesian reasoning and toward policies that emphasize favorable economic incentives. Extension of the full tax cuts of 2001-03 and a reduction in the period of eligibility for unemployment insurance would be good starts.
You know, some of those guys from Harvard are pretty smart. You'd think a guy from Harvard would know that, but unfortunately Mr. Obama's experience at America's oldest university was limited to its Law School.
Bernard Kliban ("BKliban") was a cartoonist who produced such masterpieces as "Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head And Other Drawings," "Tiny Footprints," The Biggest Tongue In Tunisia And Other Drawings," collections of odd, eclectic and thought-provoking cartoons that took usually more than a glance to understand and appreciate. I highly recommend them. One of his very amusing yet insightful original cartoons was ""The Birth Of Advertising," shown below.
Now, meet Paul Hodes, D-NH, now running for the Senate in New Hampshire.
A "true fiscal conservative?" It's one thing to polish your record so that it shines in the best light possible. It's quite another to treat the electorate as if they are idiots to whom you can tell anything and expect them to believe you. Let's have a look at the record, shall we? That's right. Voted for Cap & Tax. Voted for the $800B "stimulus." Voted for the bank-and-back-breaking government takeover of health care, among other fiscal atrocities Voted with the Democrat leadership roughly 95% of the time. If he hadn't voted "present" on the resolution to honor the World Champion NY Yankees (and you'd better vote that way if you're from Carlton Fisk's home state) that number would be even higher. Some "true fiscal conservative."
Now meet David Axelrod, political guru and marketer extraordinaire for the President.
White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he thinks voters will eventually warm to health care reform.
“I think that health care, over time, is going to become more popular,” he told David Gregory. “But people are focused on this economy right now — they’ve got anxiety about this economy. That’s what’s driving the vote right now.”
Fortunately, the reporter corrects the record for Mr. Axelrod in the very next paragraph.
President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment is currently so unpopular with voters that no Democratic candidate is running ads promoting it.
Imagine being one of the 60 Senate Democrats and 219 House Democrats who voted for the bill, and being so proud of the "signature accomplishment" and its benefit to the American public that when the very next election comes along you can't even talk about it.
9/14/10 1040: Geez, you start working on something early in the morning, and what with the demands of fatherhood, canine owner and orthopaedic surgeon you're unable to tie up all the loose ends until about 10:20 AM, and then you find out some professional blogger beats you to it. There is no justice. Of course, Ed puts in a little additional research and discovers that the only reason Mr. Hodes can claim to abhor pork is that he hasn't eaten any ... for 2011, for which Ms. Pelosi's congress hasn't passed a budget.
Nice work, Ed.
If you'd like to know exactly why conservatives/Republicans have such a low regard for the reporting at the NY Times - to say nothing of the editorial pages and their collection of left wing flotsam - have a look at these two stories over the last two days.
First up, Eric Lichtblau reports on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business group that, being pro-business, tends to favor the more pro-business Republicans over the NY Times favored party.
Chamber of Commerce Accused of Tax Fraud
WASHINGTON — With a war chest rivaling that of the Republican Party itself, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has emerged in the last year as perhaps the Obama administration’s most-well-financed rival on signature policy debates like health care and financial regulation.
Critics on the left have long complained about the chamber’s outsize influence. But now they are taking on the business association directly, charging in a complaint filed Friday with the Internal Revenue Service that it violated tax codes by laundering millions of dollars meant for charitable work from a group with ties to the insurance giant A.I.G.
The complaint was brought by a group called U.S. Chamber Watch, which was created four months ago — with the strong financial backing of labor unions — to scrutinize the Chamber of Commerce’s growing influence and provide a counterbalance.
But chamber officials said they had complied with all tax laws and dismissed the complaint as a political ploy.
The whole thing is most certainly not worth reading. I've highlighted the key sentence above. What people will scan, however, is the headline, which is really the whole point of publishing this story "CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ACCUSED OF TAX FRAUD!!!" The headline is designed - with neither evidence, nor official confirmation of any problem whatsoever - to discredit a strong opponent of Obama policy initiatives in the court of public opinion. And the only reason there is a complaint at all is because far left Obama policy supporters, primarily labor unions - set up a non-profit group to specifically attack the Chamber of Commerce.
And who are the attorneys for U.S. Chamber Watch that are involved here? A notorious race-hustler plaintiff's attorney who extracts greenmail from his targets by demonizing them in the court of public opinion rather than winning in court. And the other is an attorney who "specializes in serving:
among other things. In other words, the lawsuit is a political stunt 7 weeks before the midterm elections. Just as with the late former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who was charged as he was running for re-election with corruption, convicted eight days before the election, lost a close race, and then had the conviction overturned eight days later due to "gross prosecutorial misconduct," the point is to tar the opponent with "the appearance of impropriety" at the right moment politically. Don't fall for it.
The second story, by another Eric (Lipton), carries a headline designed to influence negatively, but again no substance to the article. It involves Mr. Obama's new target, announced in a speech in Ohio this past week.
A G.O.P. Leader Tightly Bound to Lobbyists
Mr. Boehner, who declined to be interviewed for this article, and his lobbyist allies ridicule such criticism as politically motivated by desperate Democrats. His actions, they say, simply reflect the pro-business, antiregulatory philosophy that he has espoused for more than three decades, dating back to when Mr. Boehner, the son of a tavern owner, ran a small plastics company in Ohio. And fielding requests from lobbyists is nothing unusual, he says
Apparently the NY Times stylebook calls for any accusation by the political opponents of Republicans to be taken at face value, and the story written to varnish the target by innuendo and unsubstantiated charge in as detrimental a way as is manageable. I'll let professional journalist Byron York deflate this meme.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel says he received a fact-checking email from Times reporter Eric Lipton Friday evening asking if Boehner did in fact oppose the cap on greenhouse gases, the tax change for hedge fund executives, the debit card fee cap, and increased fees on oil and gas companies. "Yes, that is correct," Steel responded to Lipton, adding "I can tell you why, if you care." Steel says he received no further notes from Lipton.
Steel says Boehner has long held those positions and does not hold them as a result of lobbying.
Hours after the email exchange, the Times story was published online, with the statement from the lobbyist that he had "won" Boehner's backing on those matters. After Boehner's aides complained, the paragraph was changed to read, emphasis added:
One lobbyist in the club -- after lauding each staff member in Mr. Boehner’s office that he routinely calls to ask for help -- ticked off the list of recent issues for which he had sought the lawmaker’s backing: combating fee increases for the oil industry, fighting a proposed cap on debit card fees, protecting tax breaks for hedge fund executives and opposing a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Boehner’s office said these were positions he already agreed with.
The statement that a lobbyist "won" Boehner's backing was changed to one in which a lobbyist "sought" Boehner's backing. That's a rather critical change. The Times also added Boehner's defense that these were long-held positions.
To call Boehner's aides angry at the account would be an understatement. "They were offered the opportunity to find out if this was true, and they chose to rely instead on the word of an anonymous lobbyist," says spokesman Michael Steel. "They intentionally refused to get the information to prove that this allegation was false."
So in two stories the Times breaks no news, as news is commonly understood to be, merely reprinting accusations as the mouthpiece of liberal/Democratic attacks. With no proof or independent verification of a single negative in either story. None whatsoever.
That's why Republicans/conservatives/thinking independents no longer read the NY Times looking for news. This is extraordinarily shoddy work, and that's why the NY Times is in trouble.
9/13/10 1430: And, lo and behold, the NY Times could easily have dug up a little quantitative data had they wanted to reinforce their attack on congressfolk beholden to lobbyists. Problem is, there would have been collateral damage.
In this case, the use of the phrase “especially deep” shows that the Times wanted to make Boehner look as though he was on the extreme outlier of the common practice of fundraising among lobbysists. Whatever one thinks of that practice, it’s one of the truly bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill. But in this cycle, the top five recipients are all Democrats, including two in Senate leadership (Reid and Schumer)...
Let's see. An Islamic community center and mosque is planned 2 blocks from the bases of the former World Trade Center buildings, destroyed after 19 Muslim men flew planes into those buildings (as well as the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, PA, though the latter wasn't their intent) on September 11, 2001. While not at the actual site, it's awfully close, certainly within the dust cloud of Ground Zero, and people are understandably concerned that this shows tremendous insensitivity to the feelings of those who lost loved ones in the attack. There has been, to say the least, some controversy.
In addition, Islamic history is rife with instances of building mosques of triumph at sites of conquest, and Americans do not wish to have such a "victory mosque" established at the southern tip of Manhattan. Offers have been made to move the mosque, turned down by the backers and front men, who seem to insist that moving it would be an insult to Islam, an incitement ... as if the original placement wasn't an insult, an incitement against all Americans after 9-11. An offer by Donald Trump to buy the site from the developer at a 25% profit was turned down today. President Obama rightly pointed out that in America individuals are free to do such things; President Obama failed to point out that if these men are interested in building bridges between Islam and the west then this is not the way to do it. Americans who hold the opinion have been demonized as "Islamophobes," as if fear were the motivating factor rather than decency. "Hate" crimes against Muslims have been highlighted, ignoring the fact that many more anti-Semitic hate crimes occur with consistent regularity. We seem to be at an impasse.
However, I may have a solution. If appeals to reason, to decency, to consideration for the opinion of the vast majority of New Yorkers and in fact all Americans do not cause the developers to reconsider; if they really are reaching out to Americans of all faiths; if, as they insist, this really isn't a "victory mosque;" if no Muslim would be so crass as to celebrate the structure as a monument to a great victory, then they should be confident that the following would be a "safe bet": write into the building permit that if Muslims anywhere celebrate the building as a monument to the attack on the "Great Satan," then the developers will be required to either raze the building and move functions elsewhere, or better still, convert it to dual use as a Jewish Community Center part-time.
As a show of tolerance and fellowship, you know. "Building bridges" as it were.
As we approach the November mid-term elections, with Republicans itching to strike while the iron is hot, it's worth remembering that there will most likely be some close elections. And with close elections comes the potential for vote shenanigans to swing the result. Here are a few links to keep in mind as we drop under 2 months to go.
First, former FEC nominee Hans von Spakovsky, now a senior legal fellow at the Heritage foundation, writes at National Review's The Corner about the aroma wafting from the Justice Department as regards the maintaining of proper voter rolls by the states. It seems a number of states have had no one removed from their voter rolls due to death, which should certainly make one ineligible. Several states have more registered voters than people of voting age, a situation that also exists in Philadelphia.
In the spring of 2006, I reviewed portions of the city of Philadelphia’s 2005 voting list. I found that underaged voters, deceased voters, and incarcerated felons were registered to vote and had remained on the voting list, despite the fact that none of them were eligible to vote in Pennsylvania (or, in most cases, anywhere else).
In Pennsylvania, a voter must be 18 or older as of the date of the election to be eligible to vote. Yet at least 130 voters on the list were under the age of 18. Thirty-four of whom had a birth year of 2004 — the year of the election. And 215 voters on the list had a birthdate of: “00-00-00.”
Just looking at the years of birth for the registered voters, I found 54 voters listed with years of birth ranging from 1825 – 1899. While it is possible that a voter born in 1899 could still be alive in 2004 (he or she would be 105), it is clearly impossible that someone born in 1825 would.
Digging a little bit deeper, I was able to find confirmed deceased voters still on the list. I took a sample of 385 registrants born between the years 1900 and 1905, and found that 51 (thirteen percent!) were in fact dead, according to the Social Security Death Index.
J. Christian Adams, a former voting rights attorney in the DOJ, is now a private citizen and is bringing lawsuits against his old bosses for their failure to enforce the portion of the law directing states to expunge ineligible voters from the rolls. He notes that most often voter fraud is insufficient to swing an election; sometimes, though, it may be, or we would still have Senator Norm Coleman in Minnesota, and would have most likely had Governor Dino Rossi in Washington. The potential problems are enormous with the smorgasbord of absentee ballots, hundreds of thousands in many cases, as well as provisional ballots and same-day registrations.
Every illegitimate vote for one candidate negates a legitimate one for the opposing candidate. While voter suppression (and particularly intimidation) are more noteworthy due to direct negation of legitimate votes, opening the door to voting improprieties indirectly negates other legitimate votes. The law gives the Justice Department under AG Eric Holder the responsibility for enforcing these provisions, and the DOJ is at this time sadly derelict in its duties with an election only two months away. Mr. von Spakovsky writes
Yes, it is too bad. Maybe we should go to the purple finger?
It’s too bad that a private citizen has to carry out the responsibility of the Justice Department because it has failed to do so and, in fact, refuses to do so for ideological and political reasons that have nothing to do with the impartial administration of justice.
I just love the formulation of the headline, contrived to maintain the "tax cuts for the rich" demagoguery. But it's inside the story that the truth gets told. A truth, I might add, that we, among others, have been telling you for quite some time.
WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress are poised to play a leading role this month in thwarting their party's effort to raise income tax rates on the wealthy.
Tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 expire at the end of this year. President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders have been eager to extend the breaks for individuals who earn less than $200,000 annually and joint filers who make less than $250,000. Those who earn more would pay higher, pre-2001 rates starting next year.
However, a small but growing number of moderate Democrats are balking at boosting taxes on the rich. Many face electorates that recoil at the mention of any tax increase. Some represent areas that are loaded with wealthier taxpayers. Further, some incumbent senators who don't face voters this fall are reluctant to increase taxes on anyone while the economy remains sluggish.
Without their support, the push to raise rates on the rich probably will fail.
"The economy is very weak right now. Raising taxes will lower consumer demand at a time when we want people putting more money into the economy," said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who isn't seeking re-election.
When you've lost Senator Bayh you've lost ... Senator Bayh, who's retiring at the conclusion of this Congress. But you know who else thinks lowering taxes might just help a struggling economy?
Democrats play a funny game on taxes. The game is called "let's pretend the economy is a frictionless plane," wherein taxes have no effect on behavior. You can raise taxes on the wealthy and it'll have no effect on the financial behavior of those wealthier individuals. You can run up huge deficits with bogus "stimulus" spending, but there's no economic drag from the "revenue enhancements" that everyone will then see down the road. But here we are, with the economy bogged down, economic uncertainty causing the withholding of business investment and job creation, and the more honest Democrats speak up, not only demonstrating that they really do know a little economics, but demonstrating that their previous statements were political bluster. Sen. Bayh, after all, did vote for both the "stimulus" and ObamaCare.
There's one member of the administration's economic team who remains in denial, however. Or, rather, make that former member.
Our prediction? In desperation Democrats will eventually support extending tax rates at their current levels, and business will breathe a sigh of relief and capital investment and hiring will begin to pick up. This may or may not save them some seats in the House and Senate, but with improving economic numbers Democrats will proudly face the cameras and pronounce that ...
...the "stimulus" is finally working, and that another stimulus would be even better.
...the now-Republican led Congress should raise taxes to close the deficit.
Hey, paraphrasing Dennis Green, they are who they are.
9/3/10 1300: Whoa. The WSJ editorial staff looked at the clues and drew the same conclusion.
With the economy struggling and the polls turning sharply against them, Democrats are at sea about how to prevent an electoral rout in November. Reports yesterday said the White House may be panicked enough to contemplate new tax cuts. Allow us to suggest a salvage plan that would help the economy and perhaps also save the Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill: Return after Labor Day, extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax rates at least through 2013, and then go home.
The editorial doesn't actually suggest that that's what'll happen, but what should happen if Democrats are concerned with either a) the economy of b) their own majorities.
Also, AEI's Kevin Hassett and Alan Viard, also writing in the WSJ, who note that taxing businesses as well as those who invest in business will propagate the problems of poor job growth.
For those who are determined to tax the rich at all costs, and are therefore willing to accept the claims of the Obama administration without scrutiny, the tax hikes may well make sense. But the evidence is clear that lifting the top rates will hamper the business investment upon which our nation's prosperity depends. That affects all Americans, not just 3%
From Reuters, President Obama discusses the sagging economy, and what can be done about it. And, you know, he knew all along there were going to be problems this summer.
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Sunday the U.S. economy was expanding, but not quickly enough, and there was no "magic bullet" that will fix its problems.
Obama said in an NBC interview that the batch of grim economic data over the past few weeks was something his administration had anticipated.
The growth rate revision late last week was for the second quarter. But near the end of that second quarter both Mr. Obama and VP Joe Biden assured us that this was "recovery surrmer." And now they tell us that they anticipated this "grim economic data. What was that about "blasts lies, disinformation."
The growth rate revision late last week was for the second quarter. But near the end of that second quarter both Mr. Obama and VP Joe Biden assured us that this was "recovery surrmer." And now they tell us that they anticipated this "grim economic data. What was that about "blasts lies, disinformation."
Obama gave little indication in the interview of any new proposals that might be unveiled in the near future. He noted that that the "short-term politics" of the election season might make it hard to get such measures passed.
"We're in the silly season -- political season, which means that for the next two months there's gonna be constantly a contest in the minds of members of Congress," he said
No, Mr. Obama, "silly season" was your first 15 months, when you frittered away the chance to have a return to economic normalcy by allowing congressional Democrats to write a blank check on their spending projects with the non-stimulating "stimulus," by focusing on ramming a lousy and costly health care package through against better judgement of the majority of the American people, and by waffling on the pending January 2011 tax increase. (And no, I'm not going to go Big Media and call it "allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire." An expiring tax cut is a tax increase.) Economic certainty creates economic optimism. And economic optimism, along with availability of capital in the private economy, creates jobs and growth. The economy will not grow until strong pro-growth policies create economic certainty. And that won't happen until the current tax rates are extended, until health care reform is repealed and replaced, until ridiculous government spending is curbed, until government salaries and pensions are reined in. And that won't occur until there's a Republican Congress.
No, Mr. Obama, "silly season" was your first 15 months, when you frittered away the chance to have a return to economic normalcy by allowing congressional Democrats to write a blank check on their spending projects with the non-stimulating "stimulus," by focusing on ramming a lousy and costly health care package through against better judgement of the majority of the American people, and by waffling on the pending January 2011 tax increase. (And no, I'm not going to go Big Media and call it "allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire." An expiring tax cut is a tax increase.) Economic certainty creates economic optimism. And economic optimism, along with availability of capital in the private economy, creates jobs and growth.
The economy will not grow until strong pro-growth policies create economic certainty. And that won't happen until the current tax rates are extended, until health care reform is repealed and replaced, until ridiculous government spending is curbed, until government salaries and pensions are reined in.
And that won't occur until there's a Republican Congress.Which is why you're all antsy about November.
8/30/10 0810: Or, put another way, those missteps may have midwifed the conservative rebirth.
We certainly have seen that latter impulse from the progressive commentariat in the wake of the failure of the Democratic agenda, and the resistance to its more radical elements from the American people. How many times since town-hall meetings became forums of voter anger last year have we heard from mainstream opinion journalists that the US has become “ungovernable”? Voters made clear that Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid were not qualified to make their personal choices for them on health care in particular, and their failed Obamanomics showed that they’re incompetent at running a top-down command economy.
"Women's" issues ... admittedly not my forte, so I look to others to keep me informed. First, from Hot Air, Minnesota's Laura Brod:
This self-described “women’s” group and many like it are more interested in litmus tests on liberal social issues than on what will materially improve women’s lives in the real day-to-day world where we are raising kids, struggling to make ends meet, and hoping that we or our spouses don’t lose their job (or will find one soon).
For decades now we have talked about the glass ceiling women once faced, and to a certain extent still do. But I am more worried about the glass box that liberal feminists have placed women and “women’s issues” in, all tied up with a pretty pink bow. That glass box is all about keeping women and “women’s issues” firmly in their place on the left side of the political spectrum.
And Carol Platt Liebau at Townhall.com similarly writes on those looking at women's issues through a very narrow aperture.
All of them seem worried about the power and impact of Sarah Palin, and obviously they're right to be. After all, she's not the one sitting around and obsessing about them.
But they're also right to be worried about the status of their brand of feminism, because -- as a woman myself -- when I see this discussion about whether Sarah Palin is a "real" feminist (or rather, from this crowd, why she isn't), my first reaction is a big WHO CARES? It's all such silly lefty in-crowd chitchat.
In fact, if feminism were simply about female empowerment and independence -- as its proponents sometimes try to claim -- Palin would be its poster girl. She took on the "old boy's club" in Alaska and won; she's worked and raised a family; she's even had something of a house-husband, for Pete's sake!
No, the Palin experience simply reinforces what everyone knew already: "Feminism" as used by the old-school types is nothing more than a proxy for two things: Support for abortion and big government...
Somehow, these women want us to believe that it's advancing women's interests to replace social and economic dependence on a husband with social and economic dependence on big government. (Maybe they'll reconsider their thinking if we rephrase it as "Mr. Big Government"?!)
Read both, you'll be rewarded. However, the principle applies much more broadly. Thus Sarah Palin, who has clearly accomplished a lot in her 45 years to this point, isn't someone that inspires feminists because to them feminism seems to be about a) abortion and b) independence from a man even if dependent on the government. And Clarence Thomas isn't authentic because he refuses to use racial grievance mongering as his weapon of choice.
Continuing its water-carrying for the Obama Administration, the Associated Press tries to debunk some of the "misconceptions" surrounding the controversy over the Ground Zero Mosque. They try to convince us that, gee, it's not really at Ground Zero, it's a whole 2 blocks away. And isn't this antithetical to the American tradition of religious freedom? Number one on their hit list? The misconception that Imam Rauf, heading up the mosque project is a radical.
No one has established a link between the cleric and radicals. New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said, "We've identified no law enforcement issues related to the proposed mosque."
Well, one thing you don't need is a link between Rauf and radicals if you can show that the Imam himself is a radical. Then you really don't need the link, do you? The AP gives us a head start later in this section.
He has denounced the terrorist attacks and suicide bombing as anti-Islamic and has criticized Muslim nationalism. But he's made provocative statements about America, too, calling it an "accessory" to the 9/11 attacks and attributing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to the U.S.-led sanctions in the years before the invasion.
Calling America an "accessory" to the 9/11 attack is not "provocative," it's flat out wrong and inflammatory. Or "radical," if you will. Perhaps the AP could fact check that assertion. And questionable research in the Lancet seems to always have a home with America-bashers, which Christopher Hitchens notes and deconstructs here. In Imam Rauf's words, "we tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims." "We," indeed.
But let's leave all that radical talk aside, and instead wonder whether some additional evidence might surface of truly radical statements. That would change things, wouldn't it? Terrorism specialist Steve Emerson claims to have the goods, 13 hours of audiotapes. Hat tip: Ace of Spades, who helpfully adds
Obama and the MFM staked the entirety of their crdibility and judgment on the assertion that this was a moderate man interested only in peace, and of course in no way a supporter of terrorism, and anyone who suspected otherwise was an ignorant bigot with a heart full of hatred.
I have to admit, however, that I found it irrelevant whether the Imam was "radical", or whether it was really Ground Zero. My opposition to the siting of the Ground Zero Mosque was based on the following:
If those who wish to build this Ground Zero mosque are sincerely interested in encouraging positive "cross-cultural engagement" and dialogue to show a moderate and tolerant face of Islam, then why haven't they recognized that the decision to build a mosque at this particular location is doing just the opposite?
Now, such a legitimate question as this can, and often are, when filtered through the media, presented with wholly unsupportable spin. See, for example, "GOP takes harsher stance toward Islam" from Ben Smith, who ought to know better than that, and Maggie Haberman at Politico.
Obama's remarks provide a clear, national focus for the simmering question of Islam in American life, and Republicans showed every sign Saturday of beginning to capitalize on it, with Republican candidates in New York and Florida seeking to inject the issue into local races as Democrats largely held their silence.
That stance in the GOP — both in terms of political strategy and policy views — appears to be carrying the day. Most of the potential Republican presidential hopefuls, led by Sarah Palin, came out sharply against the mosque.
So the FBI released their file on the late former Boston University History professor (24 years, from 1964 to 1988) and, lo and behold, Howard Zinn, the leftist author of A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present, seems clearly to have been for most of his adult life, and for all of the years he taught at my alma mater, a member of the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA). At the link RS McCain ('The Other McCain') has been digging through the document dump and finds Mr. Zinn present at CPUSA meetings in Brooklyn, possessing strong ties to communist front groups, and involvement with and leadership of numerous CPUSA-backed "protest" movements, leading up to the radical anti-war movement in the 1960's. Read Mr. McCain's entire post, which includes screenshots from the documents, transcription, and historical details that provide color and context.
Via TPM Muckraker I found this interesting set of quotes from Mr. Zinn, delivered at a protest outside a Boston police station, demanding the release of Bobby Seale of the Black Panther Party. The quote was mentioned in the context of efforts to get the FBI to assist with an effort to oust Mr. Zinn from BU, which never happened.
... ZINN, as featured speaker, spoke in front of Boston Police Headquarters on 4/14/70 in connection with a rally held for the release of BOBBY SEALE, BPP National Chairman. ZINN stated "it's about time we had a demonstration at the Police Station. Police in every nation are a blight and the United States is no exception.
ZINN further sated [sic] "America has been a police state for a long time. I believe that policemen should not have guns. I believe they should be disarmed. Policemen with guns are a danger to the community and themselves."
If this is what passes for critical thinking among the intellectual leaders on the left, I am both amused and dismayed.
And speaking of dismayed, Boston University continues to hold Howard Zinn in high regard. This obituary in BU Today, from January 2010, is effusive. In it, Mr. Zinn demonstrates more of this vaunted critical thinking.
He joined BU’s political science department in 1964, at the beginning of the anti–Vietnam War movement. “War is not complicated,” Zinn said. “War is simple. It’s like a drug. It’s like crack. You get a high from victory in war . . . My conclusions about war led me to become an activist against the war in Vietnam and to write about the nature of war.”
Right. Wars happen just so that the combatants can feel good, get high on killing and winning. It seems much more likely that his affinity for Marxism led him to become an activist against a war with a communist opponent. At the bottom of the page is a video of Mr. Zinn offering advice to President Obama, from October 2009. In it he is wrong about Iraq, wrong about Vietnam, and misleads and dissembles about "big government," among other things. He also advises negotiating with the Taliban, an organization with a stellar record on civil rights, gender equality and tolerance to be sure. Have a look.
My advice to Boston U? Start to unravel the Howard Zinn Lecture Series, or at least use it to counterbalance the radical leftist ideology that Mr. Zinn espoused and taught. Having an avowed, and active, communist as a treasured member of the faculty for 24 years is not a mark of honor.
8/1/10 0930: Reading on, I found a lengthy post from Rick Moran. I'm having a tough time reconciling the following paragraphs. Perhaps he can help me out.
For many of us who read A People’s History of the United States and were transfixed by the voices Zinn brought to life - the voices of the underclass, blacks, women, and others who had been silenced in American history textbooks - there was rush of insight not granted us previously . Social history had, until that time, been quite selective in which voices were heard. ...
On the other hand, the raw emotionalism expressed by Zinn’s subjects was a splash of cold water on many reader’s sophomoric notions of America. People beat down by capitalism, racism, and sexism have lost hope and optimism and all that’s left is a cynical loathing that makes many of our pretentious twaddle about America ring quite hollow.
and then later, this
Zinn wasn’t much of an historian. Most Marxists aren’t. Not only was Zinn rightly accused of shoddy scholarship, but his deterministic view of of history ultimately warped his writing, making it banally predictable and ridiculously shallow. Human beings are not motivated by what the economic determinists believe, nor do they act the way that most historical materialsts conclude they should. It is a tragedy that Zinn himself is taken seriously by so many.
Given the reality of Mr. Zinn's CPUSA activities and membership, and given the (I believe) correct analysis in the latter paragraph, doesn't that indict the analysis of the first snippet?
The Obama administration apparently did communicate that they would prefer that the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, remain in a Scottish jail, which is good. But given the choice between continued incarceration in Libya via prisoner transfer and release they actively encouraged release as "far preferable," according to "documents obtained by The Sunday Times."
THE US government secretly advised Scottish ministers it would be "far preferable" to free the Lockerbie bomber than jail him in Libya.
Correspondence obtained by The Sunday Times reveals the Obama administration considered compassionate release more palatable than locking up Abdel Baset al-Megrahi in a Libyan prison.
The intervention, which has angered US relatives of those who died in the attack, was made by Richard LeBaron, deputy head of the US embassy in London, a week before Megrahi was freed in August last year on grounds that he had terminal cancer.
The document, acquired by a well-placed US source, threatens to undermine US President Barack Obama's claim last week that all Americans were "surprised, disappointed and angry" to learn of Megrahi's release.
When Mr. Obama made that claim, that the release was a surprise to Americans, he could not have included himself in that number. The Lockerbie bombing took 280 lives, of whom 193 were Americans, including my at the time 22 year old brother. Given those numbers, and having dealt with Scottish officials for 22 years since my brothers death, there is absolutely no way such an eventful decision would be made without deep consultation within the State Department and the White House. They all knew, the President knew; it was not a surprise.
In the letter, sent on August 12 last year to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and justice officials, Mr LeBaron wrote that the US wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime.
The note added: "Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the US position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose."
And now there is proof of these consultations, demonstrating that not only was the administration not nearly serious enough about the loss of those American lives, but that Mr. Obama was not fully honest. Surprised? I think not.
Now, in looking at the contents of the letter, I'll take a most generous view that the U.S. felt that only three options were on the table: a) continued incarceration in Scotland, b) release but with the convicted to remain in Scotland, and c) transfer to a Libyan prison, and that d) release to freedom in Libya, was even felt to be plausible. It does seem that Mr. LeBaron indicated the U.S. first choice was a), but that b) was preferable to c). Why would release be preferable to continued incarceration wherever it was? Compassionate, indeed.
It's also apparent that failure to take a strong stand, and simply and clearly state that the U.S. favored al-Megrahi's continued incarceration in Scotland - end of story - opened the door to the release. It opened the door to the ongoing joke of a convicted mass murderer with "three months to live" now living freely in his home country nearly a full year since his release.
So of course the U.S. knew, and we once again see the inability to take a strong stand in favor of what's right and necessary in dealing with terrorism.
Oh, sure, one is white, and one is black. But read the first, and listen to the second with your eyes closed, and tell me which is which.
From today's Wall Street Journal:
Policy makers ignored such disparities within America's white cultures when, in advancing minority diversity programs, they treated whites as a fungible monolith. Also lost on these policy makers were the differences in economic and educational attainment among nonwhite cultures. Thus nonwhite groups received special consideration in a wide variety of areas including business startups, academic admissions, job promotions and lucrative government contracts
Which is both inexplicable and inexcusable, I might add.
Where should we go from here? Beyond our continuing obligation to assist those African-Americans still in need, government-directed diversity programs should end.
Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white. The need for inclusiveness in our society is undeniable and irreversible, both in our markets and in our communities. Our government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners. It can do so by ensuring that artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes.
Okay, so the video does give it away. Sen. Webb doesn't quite go as far as Lt. Col. Allen, preferring to maintain the framework of affirmative action, but willing to limit and more carefully tailor the programs. I think that the government, as Sen. Webb writes, should not be in the business of picking winners in any capacity but rather ensuring equality and opportunity. If you're going to give extra beans to some then you've got to count those beans. Which of course leads to quotas, whether you call it that or not. Yet after reading one, and listening to the other, I can really only add one word.
Via Allahpundit at Hot Air, a WSJ story that is somewhat startling, although that's not the "revelation." Apparently, there is some thought among some center-left Democrats in Congress that, perhaps, just maybe, now might not be the best time to raise taxes, particularly on the wealthy.
The revelation that tax increases could hurt the economy has recently been heard from Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and, most surprising, even from Kent Conrad of North Dakota. On a scale of unlikely events, this is like the Pope coming out against celibacy. As Senate Budget Chairman, Mr. Conrad has rarely seen a tax increase he didn't like, but this week he averred that "As a general rule, you don't want to be cutting spending or raising taxes in the midst of a downturn."
Some revelation. To which economists were you not paying attention, gentlemen? Or maybe it's just what Democrats do when they fear for their majorities. Actually, I would quibble with the admonition against cutting spending. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever trimming unnecessary spending; we can start with a trillion dollars of Obamacare, if you like. Look how much money I just saved the economy!
But it is certainly the case that increasing taxes in a downturn, particularly with the heaviest hit coming against the primary drivers of the economy - small businesses and those with capital to invest - has the potential to give that deadly double dip a nice leg up, or rather, down. They'll hunker down until they see the effect that the new levels have on their businesses and personal finances, hunkering down that will have deleterious ripple effect. In fact, it could certainly be argued that having the Sword of Damocles of tax increases come 2011 hanging over the economy's neck has itself been detrimental. Unfortunately, as Allah notes, there's no evidence that awareness of this "revelation" has not been noted in the office of the Speaker of the House, or in the White House.
From Harvard's Professor Niall Ferguson:
“If you’re asking if the United States is about to become a socialist state, I’d say it’s actually about to become a European state, with the expansiveness of the welfare system and the progressive tax system like what we’ve already experienced in Western Europe,” Harvard business and history professor Niall Ferguson declared during Monday’s kickoff session, offering a withering critique of Obama’s economic policies, which he claimed were encouraging laziness.
“The curse of longterm unemployment is that if you pay people to do nothing, they’ll find themselves doing nothing for very long periods of time,” Ferguson said. “Long-term unemployment is at an all-time high in the United States, and it is a direct consequence of a misconceived public policy.”
Coincidentally, this agrees with Paul Krugman's economics textbook, though not so much with Mr. Krugman's curious current economic analysis.
So I do not understand why Krugman the textbook writer would argue unemployment benefits is a significant explanation for Eurosclerosis while Krugman the op-ed writer would encourage us to adopt those European policies. Nothing changed in the results.
This is getting to be routine. Some individual - judge, in this case - does something to offend the sensibilities of liberal activists and, voila!!, said action is determined by those same activists to be directly attributable to financial self interest or being beholden to special interests. It happens virtually every time. In this instance, episode 936 I believe, a federal judge ruled today that the off-shore drilling moratorium ordered by President Obama was "capricious," to say the least, and unwarranted, and he lifted the ban.
Feldman says in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He says it seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.
Logical? Yes, but who cares? Obviously it's because he had stock in a drilling company.
Environmentalists and liberal lobbyists were quick to note Judge Martin Feldman’s financial interest in Transocean, an offshore drilling equipment contractor likely to be hit hard hit financially if the drilling ban continues. A number of groups circulated his disclosure forms to Washington reporters within minutes of his decision to reinstate drilling.
"A number of groups," like the Soros-funded and humorously misnamed Center for American Progress. Critique of the judge's logic? No. An alternative reading of the applicable laws? No. Just a smear, and a lousy one at that. Never mind that the federal government approved the drilling permits, and never mind that the other rigs pass safety inspections. Is this the only stock he owned? Is this a major portion of his portfolio? Did he buy more before ruling? Irrelevant!! Blasphemy!!
Liberals seem to complain a lot about judges rulings that go against them, kind of like Italian soccer players. Former President Jimmy Carter had a little whine today (HT Maetenloch), for example, about a Supreme Court ruling (6-3 decision) that barred any type of support for terrorist organizations, a decision which is really hard to argue against. But even worse is the financial/influence smear immediately and irresponsibly advanced, and with little other than outrage at the outcome behind it.
It may not matter. The President is busy stacking the commission assigned to look into the disaster with anti-drilling activists, and it's not likely that looking into this is going to change their minds, the opinions of recognized engineering experts notwithstanding.
Even as this commission moves forward, engineering experts across the country have agreed that there is no scientific reason for a blanket drilling ban. The Interior Department invited experts to consult on drilling practices, but as we wrote last week eight of them have since said their advice was distorted to justify the Administration's six-month drilling moratorium.
Judging from that decision and now from Mr. Obama's drilling commission, the days of "science taking a back seat to ideology" are very much with us.
Yesterday we had a video-enhanced brief look at Arizona's illegal immigration enforcement law, and I mentioned that there are other locales with very similar provisions and directives to their law enforcement team that had not received nearly as much notoriety.
In fact, it seems there has been a county in Virginia with a similar law for the last three years. Perhaps a look at their law and the resulting turmoil might shed some light on the discussion.
Officers now question all criminal suspects about their immigration status once an arrest is made.
In 2008, the University of Virginia conducted a survey to see what effects, if any, the Prince William County law had. It concluded initial fears about racial profiling did not happen.
That's one win.
It also show [sic] that schools saw a drop in English as a second language enrollment..
Two for two.
... There was also a drop in uninsured mothers giving birth...
Three for three.
... and [a drop in] individuals turned over to immigration and customs enforcement.
A perfect day at the plate. Reductions in uninsured care and balkanization in schools, and a lighter workload for the ICE, all without racial profiling. I'm sorry, but it's hard to imagine there's much of a downside to such adherence to federal law. Admittedly Arizona has a much bigger job to do due to it's proximity to the primary source of illegal immigration, but doesn't it seem that such a law backed up by proper border security and control might see similar success?
One gets the feeling that perhaps the primary goal of the opponents is not to protect minority groups from racist officers of the law, but rather to court the votes of those same minority groups. /sarc
5/22/10 1400: Ah, but it seems that there are those tasked with the responsibility of enforcing the law who will refuse to do so, when it comes at the expense of political advantage.
A top Department of Homeland Security official reportedly said his agency will not necessarily process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.
John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, made the comment during a meeting on Wednesday with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper reports.
"I don't think the Arizona law, or laws like it, are the solution," Morton told the newspaper.
This isn't your decision to make, Mr. Morton. Just do your job. I don't really care whether you like the law, or whether you believe such laws will help to solve the problem. You are free to have your opinion about comprehensive immigration reform, and I'm free to have mine. But your job, and the job of your department, calls for you to follow the law, and to selectively and unilaterally penalize Arizona, thereby making it okay to be here illegally in one particular state but not in others. If you disagree so strongly with the enforcement provisions of immigration law then do yourself and the department a favor and resign. This would at least show that you believe strongly in what you say.
Yesterday President Felipe Calderon of Mexico spoke to Congress, and took that opportunity to lambaste the Arizona illegal immigration enforcement initiative as somehow discriminatory against Mexicans who happen to be in the USA without portfolio.(Approximately 1:20 in)
The necessary and forcefully appropriate response, from Rep. Tom McClintock, R-CA. You must experience the entire speech for maximum effect. (Via LauraW at Ace)
The unnecessary, in reality disgraceful, response of the Democrats in Congress was a standing ovation. No, not for Rep. McClintock. For President Calderon, silly, as you will no doubt notice in the first video. I kid you not.
Rush Limbaugh noted the hypocrisy of Mr. Calderon's attitude toward Arizona's decision on enforcing the law.
Look, it's very simple. Both California and the official U.S federal policy have the same emphasis, whether the critics want to admit it or not (they don't). It's even worse when you insist that they're just going to round up brown-skinned Cheech Marin lookalikes, when that's one thing that the Arizona law explicitly forbids.
REYES: What’s changed is you have a very active effort to round up people that look a certain way, and if you have proof you are an American citizen that let you go, and if you don’t they deport you. So now, that I look like a Mexican, and I am Mexican American, I become a target.
I find it fascinating that those who are attacking Arizona's immigration law do so on a dubious basis. The critics know, just know, deep within their soul, that Arizona's duly appointed and elected officials and the law enforcement arms in the state are certain to violate the law, and as a result are against it, and are thereby defending the rights of illegal immigrants to ... violate the law. How do you suppose you arrive at the mindset that those in law enforcement will break the law while non-citizens who have quite clearly broken the law deserve additional protection? Do the police unions in other states know that the Democrats have such little respect for their dedication and adherence to the law?
All of this is not without consequence. When political advantage with a certain large and growing minority group dictates that you accuse policemen and elected officials of racism and foment fear and anger in that community there are consequences. Winning means, for some at least, holding onto office and furthering an ideology; for others it seems to mean establishing order and making the community more safe.
Jonathan Martin and Charles Mahtesian, at The Politico, give it their best shot, but early on their take was so transparently inaccurate that reading the rest of the drivel became unnecessary. To wit:
In the only House race that really mattered to both parties—the special election to replace the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha in Pennsylvania’s 12th District—Republicans failed spectacularly, losing on a level playing field where, in this favorable environment, they should have run roughshod over the opposition.
Sean Trende can easily explain why almost none of this spin is true.
One sign may come in the special election in PA-12. This is still a Democratic-leaning district; John McCain carried it by about 1,000 votes against Barack Obama, but it also voted for John Kerry and Al Gore. It's probably also the most heavily Democratic district remaining in Appalachia by a fair margin, save for neighboring OH-06, and voter registration still heavily favors the Democrats. Most of the district hasn't been represented by a Republican since the early 1930s.
If Mark Critz pulls out a win by a healthy margin, then it could be a good sign that a generalized anti-Democratic mood isn’t materializing. This doesn’t rule out the anti-liberal scenario described above by any means, since Critz is running as a fairly conservative Democrat, but it does indicate that voters in marginal districts are still willing to listen to Democratic candidates who promise to vote against health care reform and the like.
Well, it may depend on your idea of a "healthy margin." Mr. Critz ran as a conservative, supporting gun rights and opposing ObamaCare. Democrats have a 2-1 registration margin. And Democrats had the turnout pulled by a highly publicized Senate primary fight between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter. And still Mr. Critz underperformed, winning by 8% or so.
All of these facts and considerations, however, completely negate the spin that Mr. Martin and Mr. Mahtesian put on the race. This was a solidly Democratic district, in a high Democratic turnout scenario - obviously not a "level playing field." Mr. Critz negated the "favorable environment" as much as he could by running as a conservative who opposed ObamaCare. Heck, I'd consider voting for someone like that.
So, gentlemen, save your spin for the bowling alley.
In economics the theory of supply and demand governs price, availability, and demand for a given product or service. If the supply and ease of production of a commodity is high, and demand for the product is low, then the price must fall in order for any selling to occur. Conversely, high demand for a scarce commodity generates a high price point. Such would be, or rather should be, the case in medicine, relatively speaking, as not everyone can practice medicine safely and effectively (supply is limited) while the demand is steadily increasing.
Well, what happens when the government steps in and artificially lowers the price? What's happening in Texas is that the rate at which physicians are dropping out of Medicare is accelerating.
Two years after a survey found nearly half of Texas doctors weren't taking some new Medicare patients, new data shows 100 to 200 a year are now ending all involvement with the program. Before 2007, the number of doctors opting out averaged less than a handful a year.
“This new data shows the Medicare system is beginning to implode,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the Texas Medical Association. “If Congress doesn't fix Medicare soon, there'll be more and more doctors dropping out and Congress' promise to provide medical care to seniors will be broken.”[...]
The opt-outs follow years of declining Medicare reimbursement that culminated in a looming 21 percent cut in 2010. Congress has voted three times to postpone the cut, which was originally to take effect Jan. 1. It is now set to take effect June 1.
Just wait. The coercive power of the state will need to be employed ever tighter in order to "make the system work" what with all these greedy, uncaring physicians turning their backs on needy seniors. And the result, as I wrote before the health care bill was passed, will be a future dearth of people wanting to pursue careers in medicine. Sure, some will still do it for altruistic reasons, or for reasons of scientific inquiry. But you're going to lose many who have the aptitude and the desire but don't wish to have their future economic mobility and security hamstrung by an oppressive federal government.
Well, look on the bright side. Most of those that opt not to pursue medicine will be lawyers, or study finance and work for Goldman Sachs.
5/18/10 1400: More, from Scott Gottlieb, MD, in the Wall Street Journal.
Consolidated practices and salaried doctors will leave fewer options for patients and longer waiting times for routine appointments. Like the insurers, physicians are responding to the economic burdens of the president's plan in one of the few ways they're permitted to.
For physicians, the strains include higher operating costs. The Obama health plan puts expensive new mandates on doctors, such as a requirement to purchase IT systems and keep more records. Overhead costs already consume more than 60% of the revenue generated by an average medical practice, according to a 2007 survey by the Medical Group Management Association. At the same time, reimbursement under Medicare is falling. Some specialists, such as radiologists and cardiologists, will see their Medicare payments fall by more than 10% next year. Then there's the fact that medical malpractice premiums have risen by 10%-20% annually for specialists like surgeons, particularly in states that haven't passed liability reform.
The bottom line: Defensive business arrangements designed to blunt ObamaCare's economic impacts will mean less patient choice.
5/18/10 1730: Here's more, From Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, who noticed Dr. Gottlieb's article.
The end result of the consolidation that will follow ObamaCare will be increased bureaucracies and fewer choices. The mandate burden will mean fewer independent clinics and providers, thanks to the increased start-up costs. Doctors will look for the economies-of-scale approach and join a decreasing number of larger networks. Insurers will affiliate themselves with fewer providers and networks as they pare down their offerings, which will already be constrained by the mandates for minimum coverage. The so-called “Cadillac tax” will eliminate the high-end policies now offered as insurers attempt to avoid the ruinous taxes and fees imposed on those plans.
Take this out to its logical endpoint and what do you have?
That's right. Single payer. What was that about a "trojan horse?"
From Mort Zuckerman in US News and World Report, discussing the financially ruinous effect of the nation's "Axis of Evil" (characterization mine), Big Public Labor and the politicians who court their support.
What we suffer is a ruinously expensive collaboration between elected officials and unionized state and local workers, purchased with taxpayer money. "Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."
Read the whole thing, it's all there. From gold-plated or even platinum defined-benefit pensions to early retirements with same (at 50?!) to health care coverage and expenses that dwarf those of the real "working class," Mr. Zuckerman tells you where your tax dollars are going - and where even more of them will go in the future.
SEIU and the teacher unions are the biggest offenders. Just look how hard it is to reform even in the most dire circumstances when the union digs in its heels. The impasse in Central Falls, RI has dragged on since January.
Just caught a snippet on Bill O'Reilly of Mr. O'Reilly and George Stephanopoulos discussing the admittedly remote possibilty that Sec. of State Hillary Clinton might challenge Barack Obama in a 2012 Democratic Primary. Let's go to (my recollection - which is pretty good - of) the tape:
George S: "Oh, I don't think that's likely. If there's going to be a challenge it would be more likely someone to Mr. Obama's left."
Okay, George, I'll bite. Is there anyone politically viable to Mr. Obama's left? I can't think of anyone, but you can nominate your candidates in the comments.
Hey, why not? I like people willing to tell it like it is. Blunt is in.
|Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his 'confrontational tone'|
"They believe in certain things. They believe in bigger government, higher taxes, and more spending. Here it is. Bigger government, higher taxes, more spending. I believe in less government, lower taxes, and in empowering local officials who are elected by their citizens to be able to fix their problems. That may lead to a disagreement or two."
The reporter's objections probably stem from the governor's refusal to defer to the majesty of the fourth estate and its higher calling. A reticence, I might add, that has never been more appropriate.
From Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics comes the following assertion:
First, Obama's implicit claim throughout his candidacy was that public divisiveness was somehow a failure of leadership. This was mostly nonsense. This country has been divided over cultural issues since at least 1973 and Roe v. Wade. It has been divided on fiscal issues since Reagan cut taxes in 1981; this ended the hidden tax of bracket creep, but meant that legislators had to make hard choices between more spending and lower taxes. It has been divided on foreign policy issues since the Bush Administration's response to 9/11.
These are all real things. They are not rhetorical wrinkles that a Jon Favreau speech can iron out. Obama's choices have mostly been liberal (with the notable exceptions of dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan). His speechwriters have endeavored to present his choices as win-wins, but their words have failed to persuade because the President's choices are rarely in fact win-wins. They usually favor one worldview or set of interests over others. Favor one side enough times and the losers will start to see what's going on, "eloquent" speeches aside.
This now seems so obvious that what's really astonishing is that so many in the media continue to try to paint the President as a uniting centrist, something he's never been, not ever. Some of us had this nailed. For instance, on economics, October 2008:
LBJ's war on poverty and the mountain of transfer payments it spawned didn't 'solve' poverty, and decreasing the competitiveness of American business in the global economy and punishing success at home won't solve it now. Mr. Obama's plan is more likely to mollify poor Americans with its class warfare undercurrent temporarily. But as unemployment rises and GDP growth stagnates the reality of this house of cards will set in across America.
Or you could have a look at the JTF endorsement from prior to the 2008 election, replete with links galore. Or here, where we noted Mr. Obama's musings on the difficulty in trying to redistribute wealth.
Mr. Obama in 2001 thought it one of the "tragedies" that the Constitution and, you know, laws and stuff prevented redistribution of wealth in America as a solution for "political and economic justice." Well, it's about a week away from the election. The media almost made it. True, he doesn't state that courts were wrong not to enforce redress, but it's also clear from his statement that he believes it should occur through the political process. And lo and behold, he is pursuing that political process to a position where he may be able to impose it. [ed: emphasis added now]
Well, y'all can't say you weren't warned. I had a brief conversation this morning with a physician who voted for Mr. Obama and now is carrying an 18 wheeler full of voter's remorse. I explained that "hope and change" means you'll get change, and you'll hope it's for the better, but change can just as easily be for the worse, particularly so when it's based on socialist pap, and it's sad that so many forgot that possibility.
President Barack Obama selected former Harvard Law School Dean and current Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his nominee to fill the vacating seat of Justice John Paul Stevens.
"Openness to a broad array of viewpoints?" "Fair-mindedness?" This is the classic disagreement between conservatives and liberals as regards the optimal function of the SCOTUS. Conservatives believe in the blindfold on Justice, while liberals don't. The latter want the judge to take into account the circumstances of those appearing before the Court, and not just pursue the dispassionate application of law. Which makes me wonder, is it really "law" if it's so malleable?
Obama cited what he called Kagan's "openness to a broad array of viewpoints" and her "fair mindedness."
Standing beside the president in the East Room of the White House, Kagan said she was "honored and humbled by this nomination.
Ms. Kagan is most notorious among conservatives for her position on banning recruiting by the military at Harvard in response to the Clinton administration "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military. When academic institutional activism in response to the policy took place, Congress passed the Solomon Amendment, barring federal funding from those institutions. While a law professor at Harvard in the 1990's Ms. Kagan joined an amicus brief supporting the right of the schools to do so in FAIR v. Rumsfeld. In that case the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs narrowly, in a decision that was overturned at the SCOTUS by 8-0. You can read the story in more detail here.
While I'm not a legal scholar, I am interested in one facet of the selection of Ms. Kagan as it relates to this policy. To wit: what does it say about our Commander in Chief and his attitude toward the military that he found someone who took such a position not only acceptable, but preferred?
Second, I also find it interesting that Ms Kagan, who by all reports has not been a judge, has little litigation experience, and did little scholarly writing, was selected by a man who ascended to the presidency having no executive experience, little experience in government, and virtually no scholarly writing even at Harvard Law Review.
Zombie has the story. A California high school sent five students home, one of whom was Hispanic, for the "crime" of wearing clothing adorned with images of the American flag on Cinco de Mayo, yesterday.
And the punishment wasn’t an off-the-cuff blunder by some inexperienced teacher; according to NBC,
Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the Vice Principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag t-shirts inside-out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal’s office.
“They said we could wear it on any other day, but today is sensitive to Mexican Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today,” Daniel Galli said.
The boys said the administrators called their t-shirts “incendiary” that would lead to fights on campus.
“They said if we tried to go back to class with our shirts not taken off, they said it was defiance and we would get suspended,” Dominic Maciel, Galli’s friend, said.
So here we have the Principal and the Vice-Principal of an American high school treating the Stars and Stripes as if it was a gang bandanna; even worse, the school administrators took sides in this imaginary US-vs.-Mexico gang fight by allowing the widespread display of Mexican flags on campus but banning (under threat of punishment) any display of the American flag.
And then there is the soft racism of low expectations of the behavior expected by the administrators from the Mexican-American students.
An assumption (typical of the “soft racism” of leftist ideology) that Hispanic students will respond with violence when they feel disrespected (“the patriotic shirts could trigger fights” is the euphemism they used). Even worse, fearing violence from Hispanic students, the adminstrators [sic] solve the crisis by banishing the “offensive” items, rather than warning students that any violence will be severely punished. In other words, the racist administrators insultingly assumed that their Hispanic students would erupt in violence at the sight of an American flag, and the only way to prevent this is to cower at the presumptive violence and preemptively cave in to the mob’s demands that American flags be banned from campus.
Just another case of constitutionally-protected rights (in this case, freedom of speech) lost by administrative fiat. (Are you listening, Mayor Bloomberg?)
5/6/10 1225: There's video at Hot Air. Honestly, I don't know that this topic lends itself to a lot of discussion. The free speech rights of the students were fairly blatantly abridged. It's a long way from "Gee, I wish you hadn't worn those otherwise non-objectionable clothes" to "You are forbidden to wear those otherwise non-objectionable clothes," and it should be a long way. "Tolerance" comes from the verb "tolerate." Perhaps teaching it to those who objected and might cause violence would have been a better lesson.
(By way of definition, the null hypothesis is the building block of scientific inquiry. A base proposisiton is set (N0), and data are collected and analyzed. The analysis can either reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis. In politics, this might take the form of "If Congress does nothing in dealing with "x" it will actually be better for America and the American people than doing what Democrats want.")
Politico has a story today, now that the Republicans in the Senate have allowed debate to move forward on the Democrat financial reform bill, discussing the frustrations that Republicans have with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (soon-to-be-ex-D-NV). Senator Bunning (R-KY) calls him an "idiot."
Bunning’s harsh words — confirmed by several people in the room — came in the midst of Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s presentation about Reid’s handling of the Senate floor. Bunning rose from his seat and, speaking loudly, read fundraising data that singled out Reid and other Senate Democrats for taking more money from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms than Republicans had.
While the two parties have been engaged in constant battle since President Barack Obama took office last year, the politics in the usually clubby Senate have grown increasingly personal in recent weeks.
In the wake of the superheated debate over health care reform, Reid and his confidants have used fierce rhetoric to portray the Republicans as tools of Wall Street who spread lies about the financial regulatory reform bill as a way to protect well-heeled donors. Meanwhile, Reid has been forcing the Republicans to vote again and again on the regulatory reform bill, hoping to jam at least one GOP senator into flipping to the Democratic side for fear of coming off as entirely obstructionist.
Arlen, Arlen, Arlen. What did you think would happen after you sold your soul to the devil?
For three decades, Specter prided himself on being a coalition builder, relishing a self-appointed role as a liaison striving to find the moderate solutions to liberal and conservative extremes.
Now as a Democrat, that role has vanished. For that reason alone, Specter has questioned his storied party switch.
''Well, I probably shouldn't say this,'' he said over lunch last month. ''But I have thought from time to time that I might have helped the country more if I'd stayed a Republican.''
Oh, Arlen, they had their fun and tossed you in the gutter like a cheap tramp. You thought you could be an "independent thinker" in the Democratic Party? Sen. Specter insists he would have voted for the health care reform bill even if he were still a Republican. But that' not really the point, is it? With only 59 in the Democrat caucus in the Senate Harry Reid and the President would have been forced to more likely to work with Republicans in crafting the legislation in the first place. The vaunted healthcare summit might have taken place sooner; the whole process might have been less secretive; the ideas presented might have actually made their way to the legislation; actual serious tort reform - the one thing almost all physicians wanted if the medical system were to be socialized and medical care rationed - might actually have been wedged into the bill. Instead, all that had to happen was the bribing of a couple of recalcitrant democrats with federal money, and voila!!
That kind of principled stand might have actually saved your senate seat, Senator. You could have been the hero of health care reform. Heck, you could have done it as a Democrat, and won back some R's and I's. But instead, you've got one side that thinks of you as a traitor, while the other thinks of you as a harlot.
Face it, Senator, you got played by people who didn't respect you, and who felt no remorse over lying to you and using you. Congratulations. (hat tip: Hot Air)
From Megan McArdle, discussing Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and his call for CEO's of companies altering their earnings picture on the basis of changes to tax law in the health reform law:
Waxman is incensed because this seems to put the lie to the promise that if you like your current plan, nothing will change. But this was never true. Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are basically going to see their generous benefits slashed, retiree drug benefits suddenly cost more and may now be discontinued, and ultimately, more than a few employers will almost certainly find it cheaper to shut down their plans. If Congress didn't want those things to happen, it should have passed a different law.
In fact, it was never true that "if you like your current plan you can keep it." So why did someone prominenet keep telling us that over, and over, and over? And why did our vigilant media refuse to refute that lie every time it was uttered?
A screenshot from Yahoo!'s homepage this morning: (ckick to enlarge)
"The landmark health care vote may backfire if Obama can't sell the plan to angry voters."
Shouldn't the plan have been sold to the people - wait, scratch that - shouldn't the people have been fully informed about the plan, and it's detrimental consequences, before it was passed? Actually, the question is, shouldn't a plan have been devised that could be supported by a majority of the American people and representatives from both the Democrat and Republican sides?
Lefty Matthew Yglesias blames the GOP, by propagating the fiction that liberals were ready to compromise on the bill. If so, they had the opportunity immediately after the Obama healthcare summit, wherein it became clear that Republicans had principled objections, including the fact that increasing taxes in the middle of a recession with high unemployment numbers is a bad idea, according to every honest economist (obviously I'm leaving Paul Krugman out of this).
Exit question number 1: How many doctors began anticipating and timing their retirement today?
Exit question number 2: What's the over/under on Democrat losses in the House this November?
3/22/10 0915: A couple of video links:
And here's Charlton Heston commenting on the shortsighted insanity of it all:
Kimberley Strassel in the Wall Street Journal writes of the Alinsky "Rules for Radicals" treatment of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who had the temerity to propose solutions to some of the problems facing America. For his trouble, the Democrats have selected him as the target, locked in on him, and are personalizing his proposals in an effort to polarize popular opinion.
So imagine the surprise when, after Mr. Ryan re-released his plan in late January, it became a sudden sensation. Two days later Mr. Obama used his visit to the Republican retreat to thrust it into the national spotlight. The cameras rolling, the president praised Mr. Ryan for putting forward a "serious proposal." He in fact singled out the congressman at least three times. Having done his spotlight bit, Mr. Obama then left it to the rest of the Democratic Party to systematically distort and trash the road map.
Within two days of the retreat, Obama budget director Peter Orszag had begun deflecting questions about the White House's ugly budget by hammering on Mr. Ryan's plan, claiming it "shifted costs" to families. Congressional Democrats held a conference call with reporters devoted to road map trashing, howling that it showed that Republicans would privatize Social Security, voucherize Medicare, and give tax breaks to the wealthy. Speaker Nancy Pelosi lambasted the Ryan plan in a speech to the Democratic National Committee...
Better yet for Democrats, some Republicans are falling into the trap. As with its campaign last year to smear Republican Whip Eric Cantor, the White House's attack on Mr. Ryan is designed to isolate and discredit one of the GOP's brightest thinkers. So it only aids the White House when "anonymous" Republican members—annoyed that they must have this debate—gripe to the press that Mr. Ryan doesn't "speak" for them.
Mr. Ryan, by contrast, isn't apologizing for offering ideas to the very president who keeps claiming Republicans are the party of "no" and who claims to want entitlement reform. A handful of House reformers are calling the Democrats' ruse—reminding voters that what makes this surreal is that the only choice right now is between bad Democratic ideas and worse ones.
The corollary is that, because the media tilts so far left, Democrats seemingly always get the last word. The current fuss on Capital Hill over a "jobs" bill is similar to the fuss at the beginning of last year over a "stimulus" bill. Neither do what they purport to do. The "stimulus" bill didn't stimulate the economy, last quarter's growth notwithstanding (a roller coaster plummeting down a drop must reach the bottom at some point, and start back up). This latest "jobs" bill is just more deficit spending that will create few jobs.
As a result of Democratic spokesmen and Congressmen/women routinely getting the final word, the trashing of Republican proposals - sentiments with which the MSM largely agree - ends up as the conventional wisdom in the press. See if that doesn't happen with the proposed health care summit. The goal there is obviously to get Republicans to propose and discuss openly, then to trash Republican proposals with a sympathetic press. Hey, if you can't get people to like your own proposals, maybe you can convince them to hate the opposition's.
It may not work this year. The people don't like Mr. Obama's policies. They see mountains of deficit spending and mounting debt far into the future. They see health care proposals involving a government takeover with spiraling costs, including phantom Medicare cuts and forever entitlements. They know they'll either pay for it through economy-killing tax increases, which will stifle job creation and growth, and through the mortgaging of their children's future. The one way that it won't be paid for is through actual reductions in spending, reductions in the numbers and compensation of federal employees, or through policies that actually stimulate economic growth instead of government growth.
2/12/10 1530: More on Mr. Ryan's proposals from Robert Samuelson here.
But the larger point is that Ryan is trying to start a conversation on the desirable role and limits of government. He's trying to make it possible to talk about sensitive issues -- mainly Social Security and Medicare -- without being vilified. President Obama recognized that when he called Ryan's plan a "serious proposal." But since then, Democrats have resorted to ritualistic denunciations of him as pillaging Social Security and Medicare. Legitimate debate becomes impossible. If Democrats don't like Ryan's vision, the proper response is to design and defend their own plan. The fact that they don't have one is a national embarrassment.
That's because it's a lot easier to demagogue your opponent's ideas than to come up with and defend your own. And safer. However, as America is looking for leadership, the party with large majorities in both houses of Congress and the President in the White House may need to actually be up front with their ideas instead of springing 2000 page bills at the last minute, saying that once it passes we'll find out what's inside. And if not, the people will notice.
... he'd listen to and embrace Republican ideas, such as those elaborated by Newt Gingrich and John Goodman in the Wall Street Journal in Wednesday's edition. Ideas like, for example, true doctor-friendly (as opposed to lawyer friendly) tort reform, health insurance portability, and avoiding drastic Medicare cuts from a system that already underpays providers. The truth, unfortunately, is that a simple, effective, and popular idea like tort reform never would see the light of day, given the ownership of the Democratic Party by the trial bar.
After the Supreme Court's 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision affirmed the constitutionality of dollar limits on campaign donations to candidates, plaintiffs attorneys realized they could work within the new rules to increase their political influence. Three years later, the plaintiffs bar set up the Attorneys Congressional Campaign Trust. Its successor organizations have given $33 million in political action committee (PAC) donations to federal campaigns since 1990, according to data gathered by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
These PAC contributions only scratch the surface. Contribution limits favor those best able to "bundle" donations. The plaintiffs bar, with thousands of well-heeled members willing to write $2,000 checks, is well-situated to play this game. While corporations' interests are dispersed among hosts of competing tax and regulatory concerns, the trial lawyers have a focused cause: maintaining the lawsuit industry and expanding legal liability rules that lead to more lawsuits.
Since 1990, the sums donated to federal political candidates by lawyers—excluding lobbyists—exceed $1 billion, according to CRP. Lawyers as a group have given more to federal candidates than any other industry or profession. Their ability to keep tort reform out of the health-care reform bills is unsurprising: Congressional campaign contributions by lawyers in the last election cycle were about $25 million more than the combined total of political donations from doctors, pharmaceutical companies, HMOs, hospitals and nursing homes.
By the way, it's "Democrats" and not "politicians" since 70-80% of lawyer and law firm donations are directed to Democrats.
It's actually simpler than that. If Mr. Obama were really serious about health care, he'd have invited the Republicans to the table to help craft the legislation before the Obama-Reid-Pelosi "Dance of 1000 Fools" of the last 9 months. Instead, he spoke only with Democrats, stated - wrongly - that only his side had any ideas on how to solve the problems, and tried to force a major restructuring of one-seventh of the US economy through on a party-line vote. But now that Senator 41 has taken his seat, and with continued disagreements even among Democrats, that dog won't hunt. He talks a good game,
“I’m willing to move off of some of the preferences of my party in order to meet them halfway, but there’s got to be some give from their side as well,” Obama said during a surprise visit to the White House briefing room following a meeting with congressional leaders from both parties. “I also won’t hesitate to condemn what I consider to be obstinacy,” he warned.
but he could have magnanimously reined in his Congressional leadership and opted for this sort of give and take when he had 60 in the Senate, and didn't. Now it simply comes off as oleaginous, too clever by half.*
Newsbusters highlights a little of "Morning Joe" Scarborough's interview with New Hampshire's Democratic Senator and former Governor, Jeanne Shaheen, discussing why New Hampshire might be better off economically at this time than other areas of the country, or even other New England states. As I live and work in New Hampshire, the discussion caught my eye.
On the Feb. 2 broadcast of his MSNBC program, Scarborough interviewed Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Shaheen’s home state was hosting a jobs town hall put on by President Barack Obama and
Scarboroughused the occasion for a teachable moment.
“Now, usually none of us would celebrate unemployment rates of 7 percent,”
Scarboroughsaid. “But that is not only well below the national average, but your neighbor, , to the south of you now sitting with a 13 percent unemployment rate. What's Rhode Island doing right?” New Hampshire
According to Shaheen, it was a diversified economy and a sound climate for business, where regulation doesn’t interfere.
“Well, hopefully, as you say, we're going to be able to reduce that 7 percent even lower,” Shaheen said. “But I think we've got a diversified economy. We've got a place where people want to live. We've got a wonderful quality of life. It's a beautiful state. It's a state where we've tried to limit regulation, where we've tried to make the cost of doing business affordable for businesses.”
However, Scarborough pointed out one key difference in
compared to other states – no state income tax and no sales tax. New Hampshire
No income tax*. No sales tax. A business friendly climate. Reduced regulation.
No income tax*. No sales tax. A business friendly climate. Reduced regulation.True, the property taxes (state and local) are among the nation's highest percentage-wise, but without the other taxes overall it's a very low tax state. New Hampshire ranks 7th for business-friendliness. And the state ranks 46th in overall tax burden.
But Ms. Shaheen doesn't really believe in that successful formula, however. Or if she does, she's been muscled by the Administration and the Senate leadership to fall in line with antithetical policies. Her stances on the issues are vanilla Democratic Senator positions - pro- cap and trade, pro- "comprehensive" health care reform, pro- "green jobs" (read: higher energy costs), And if she's in favor of the Obama budget proposal, as her statement on the SOTU address would suggest, she's in favor of a tax increase on "the wealthy," the standard liberal class warfare and economy-dampening position.
So, Ms. Shaheen, the question is, do you really believe in New Hampshire's advantage?
*There is a 5% dividend and interest tax, which generates all of $62 per person annually.