January 25, 2015
Obama and the Homeless
If there was anything notable about the latest Obama State of the Union, it was that once again he trotted out the same old class warfare rhetoric with calls for higher taxes on the rich. Once again he bragged, to almost everyone's disbelief, how well his policies have worked, while throwing in the absurd line about the "shadow of crisis" having passed. People are having a hard time buying it. Consider this story from the LA Times about the spread of homeless camps in Los Angeles.
Over the last two years, street encampments have jumped their historic boundaries in downtown Los Angeles, lining freeways and filling underpasses from Echo Park to South Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a city-county agency, received 767 calls about street encampments in 2014, up 60% from the 479 in 2013.
Some residents believe the city is exporting its downtown homeless problem to their neighborhoods. But social service agencies and volunteers say it isn't that simple. They say that although downtown development and skid row cleanups are squeezing out some homeless people, many camps are filled with locals.
No matter what Obama says, you can't help but notice there are more homeless in our midst, and that Obama's policies are not helping them. And now that folks in the LA area are voicing there concerns about the growth in homeless camps, the LA Times finds that it is also obliged to notice as well.
Still, it's downright shocking to see a story like this from a mainstream newspaper when a Democrat sits in the White House. Could it be that the mainstream news outlets are finally catching up with the rest of America? Are they finally recognizing that Obama's tax-the-rich policies are really hurting the people that he likes to take credit for helping.
It's not rocket science, says Larry Kudlow.
First, you can't create a new business or sustain an existing one without the seed corn and nourishment of capital investment.
Second, only businesses create jobs. You can't have a job without a business.
Third, jobs create all incomes, including middle-class incomes.
Fourth, incomes create family and consumer spending.
OK? This is not complicated. It's common economic sense.
University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan states this in a simpler way: Growth starts with investment and ends with consumer spending.
Alas, for some it is rocket science. In his State of the Union, class warrior Obama proposed another hike in the capital gains tax. It was at 15 percent when he came into office. He pushed it to to 20 percent, and then Obamacare took it to 23.8. Now he's proposing to push it to 28 percent. At the same time the U.S. workforce participation rate has gone from just under 66 percent to just under 62 percent. A surge, in the millions, of people who have given up looking for work has occurred on Obama's watch, which has translated into a surge in the number of homeless.
Sadly though, the plight of the homeless is not a popular news feature until it can be traced back to the policies of a Republican president, at which point we are inundated with stories about them. Perhaps MSM is just warming up in anticipation of things that might come in 2016. After all, Republicans did just take over Congress.
In any event it's a stark break with tradition for an outlet like the LA Times to notice that the poor are suffering at exactly the same time that Obama's grand Democratic policies are supposed to be helping them. One can't help but wonder what drives Times reporter Gale Holland to such an egregious breach of good taste.
It's hard to say, but it doesn't seem to arise from any rage at the unfairness of Obama's policies. She obviously hasn't made the connection between higher taxes and lower job growth. Ms. Holland can't even be sure there are any more homeless this year than there were two years ago. Maybe they're are just spreading out.
Whether homeless people are more numerous or simply more visible could be answered by the biennial tally taking place this week.
As many as 6,000 volunteers will go out Tuesday through Thursday searching for homeless people living in alleys, riverbeds, cars and RVs. For the first time, homeless people will be asked about their gender identity, domestic violence and prison histories, and years of military service — information that could better track where they came from and why.
Ms. Holland's uncertainty will most likely disappear with the next Republican administration, when greater visibility of the homeless will be reflexively reported as evidence of a more widespread and growing problem. In the next Republican administration there will be no need for her to ponder where the homeless come from or why they are homeless. The causes will be obvious — Republican policies that favor the rich.
The simple logic that there are more homeless because there really aren't enough jobs to be had, and there aren't enough jobs to be had because of punitive and arbitrary tax policy, seems to escape Ms. Holland along with the the rest of the mainstream press. For them, homelessness remains a mystery whose causes can't be ascertained with a certainty for at least another two years.
January 14, 2015
Stay Home, Mitt
It would be an understatement to say that I was disappointed when Mitt Romney came up short in 2012. 2012 should have been a layup, a chip shot for Mitt Romney. Barack Obama's combination of incompetence, arrogance, and intense partisanship has put him out in front of Jimmy Carter in the race for worst president in modern times. But Mitt managed to blow it.
Mr. Romney’s campaign team was notable for its mediocrities, led by a strategist whose theory of the race was that voters had already rejected Mr. Obama so the challenger merely needed to seem like a safe alternative. He thus never laid out an economic narrative to counter Mr. Obama’s claim that he had saved the country from a GOP Depression and needed more time for his solutions to work.
And don’t forget the management calamity of Mr. Romney’s voter turnout operation, code-named Orca. Mr. Romney likes to say he reveres “data,” but Mr. Obama’s campaign was years ahead of Mr. Romney’s in using Big Data and social media to boost turnout. The Romney campaign was so clueless on voter mobilization that well into Election Night the candidate still thought he would win. He lost a winnable race 51%-47%, including every closely contested state save North Carolina.
There is no question that Mitt would have been a vastly better president than Barack Obama, but that's not setting the bar very high. Obama said he intended to transform America. He wants us to be a socialist democracy, one that elects progressive leaders on the promise that they will maintain the various federal entitlements upon which we are intended to become dependent. We are well on our way if ObamaCare is allowed to stand.
But a Romney presidency starting in 2016 will move America only slightly back toward the center. Meanwhile Obama's encroachments on our freedoms, the politicization of the federal bureaucracy, including the Justice Department, the EPA, and the IRS will remain in place. Obama put them there, the tools he uses against his enemies and the American people, hoping to establish lasting progressive majorities. Should Romney run and win in 2016, there they'll stay, awaiting the next progressive "visionary" who will pick them up and use them to rebuild Obama's totalitarian apparatus when Romney's term is done.
Obama had to be stopped in 2012. Romney's first step towards halting and rolling back the Obama transformation was winning that election. He didn't do it. He couldn't stop the transformation then, and we can't expect that he'll stop it now. I wonder if he even knows that that is what needs to be done.
January 05, 2015
A Stunning New Insight
How about a "Marxist view of liberalism as a single-minded defense of capitalism." Now there's a stunning new theory. It comes to us from Edmund Fawcett's new book, Liberalism: The Life of an Idea as reviewed by Katrina Forrester.
It must be something about the start of a new year that has the left is scrambling to explain six years of horrendous policy failure. Had these last six years not culminated in the resounding rejection of liberalism in the November midterms I'm sure there would be no such soul searching. As it turned out, even on the left the failures can't be ignored, so liberals, or progressives, as they so like to be called, are out with the explanations. This latest is a doozy, though. Marxism was really all about rescuing capitalism. Who knew!
Naturally, the basis of this new interpretation is an untruth.
For the defenders of Lockean liberalism, why liberals accommodated empire is a central puzzle: How could defenders of liberty defend colonial exploitation? ...Fawcett dissolves the puzzle. Exploiting the riches of empire abroad was one way for states to resolve political conflict and economic turmoil at home. Much of the time, debates about empire were just an extension of the question of how to pay for liberal capitalism.
It's not just that progressives are still talking about colonialism, long after colonial empires have ceased to exist. There is also the deliberate misrepresentation, about the nature of wealth. Progressives insist that economics is a zero-sum game. They reason that somebody, somewhere, has to have gotten poorer in order for anyone, like, oh let's say Warren Buffett, to get richer. It's a lie, really. But it's a crucial principle, without which this wonderful new theory makes absolutely no sense. Here's Ms. Forrester explaining Fawcett's supposed epiphany about who "pays for" capitalism.
It was in the 1930s that the question of how to rescue capitalism from itself was brought into sharpest relief. Fawcett looks to three economists who had different ideas about who would pay for the rescue: John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek and Irving Fisher. Each provided answers that would shape the future of economic thought and practice. Keynes’s focus on high wages was equivalent to earlier liberals’ concessions to demands for universal suffrage; his economic program was an example of liberalism’s economic compromise with democracy. Hayek’s willingness to belittle politics and look to the market for solutions harked back to an imaginary nineteenth-century laissez-faire liberalism and set the stage for the neoliberalism that followed. Fisher stressed the dangers of falling prices and the role of government monetary policy in preventing booms and busts. Though their recommendations were different, Fawcett emphasizes their similarities: all wanted to “limit capitalism’s disruptive instabilities” while protecting liberal principles. For Hayek (who worried least about capitalism’s disruptive potential), labor would bear the costs of saving capitalism. For Keynes and Fisher, because government paid for the rescue, in effect everyone played their part.
It's BS, of course. It really doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that capitalism, or the fruits of it to be more precise, pays for everything else. What Forrester and perhaps Fawcett don't get is that it isn't capitalism that needs to be paid for, it's those grubby little politicians who line their own pockets with taxpayer money by promising to fix the supposed problems of capitalism. Here's one: "the gap between the rich and the poor." It's a non-existent problem really. Nervertheless, taxing "the rich" and regulating everything else was supposed to fix it. But six years of such disastrous progressive policy under Obama have made the rich richer (those connected to the Democrats and Obama), the poor poorer, and progressives a bit desparate. And so the explanations come.
Or maybe sales pitch would be a better way to describe the progressive philosophy. In actuality, progressives are the new entrepreneurs. Their product is "fairness" which they deliver through expanded government, which at this point can fairly be described as bloated. Under Obama progressives have realized massive profits through government delivered fairness. Take Jonathan Gruber, one of ObamaCare's key architects. He pulled in an estimated $4 million by helping to fashion a deliberately misleading and complex piece of federal legislation that depended upon, in his words, the “stupidity of the American voter” for passage.
The beauty of making your money through government sponsored fairness is that you're not constrained by the same rules that might apply to car dealer, or a loan officer, or anybody else who might be involved in the unpardonable sin of making a profit. No. Champions of "social justice" can say whatever they like. "You can keep your doctor, period," comes to mind.
We know how that worked out. In spite of that there are still legions who favor centrally planned solutions like ObamaCare, who can disregard the actual fruits of it, who can pardon the lies that sold it. And in case you're wondering why, just remember this. There's a huge amount of money to be made in central planning. It's a wonderful thing — for everybody except the ones in whose names the wonderful plans are made.
Progressive policies don't work very well in the real world, and after a while people get it, and they push back against it. The 2014 midterms for instance. When that happens progressives fight for market share with new strategies, new messages, and brilliant new insights. Like how Marxism is really all about defending capitalism.
December 30, 2014
The Progressive Case for Fracking?
Progressives may be starting a painful march back toward the political center, if an editorial in the Wall Street Journal by James Bloodworth is any indication. In it Mr. Bloodworth makes The Progressive Case for Fracking. It's quite an inventive work of fiction, implying that there could be such a thing as progressive support for fracking.
Christmas came early for the world’s liberal democracies this year, with news in mid-December that repressive regimes from Russia to Venezuela and from Iran to Belarus are tumbling down an economic spiral. Who or what should we thank for this geopolitical yuletide? The neocons? Pro-democracy protesters? George W. Bush and Tony Blair ?
No. Thank instead American shale producers. The shale-gas and hydraulic-fracking revolution is lighting a figurative bonfire under the world’s petrocracies. Dictatorships that for years blackmailed the West in the knowledge that we would come crawling back for the black stuff are now catching a glimpse of a bleak future.
This ought to put a smile not only on the faces of free-market economists, but liberals and progressives, too. As America becomes a net exporter of energy, shale could help topple some of the world’s worst regimes.
Alas. Progressives have never demonstrated any interest in toppling the world's worst regimes. On the contrary, progressives are really envious of the world's worst regimes for the control they have over their peoples. It's a degree of control that progressives wish they could have. Then there would be "social justice" — once and for all.
Could Mr. Bloodworth be rewriting progressive history in hopes of rescuing the progressive brand? It now suffers the cumulative effects of decades of policy failure, both domestic and international. Good luck with that. The increase in shale oil production in the face of progressive opposition is yet another progressive defeat. Progressives do not applaud.
Instead we can expect them to rework their talking points so as to explain how this boost in oil production is really due to their own visionary policy preferences. It has begun. Mr. Bloodworth's editorial might represent the first salvo in a progressive counter-attack in their war to regain credibility.
James Bloodworth is the editor for the blog Left Foot Forward.
December 05, 2014
America's Suicide -- A Misdiagnosis
By Michael H. Davison
246 pages. Dapa Publishing, LLC
In his introduction to America's Suicide, Michael H. Davison discloses that the title for his original manuscript was The American Neurosis. He explains:
“One of the more salient features of neurosis is a wholesale flight from responsibility. The neurotic faults inner compulsions, spouse, government, society or whatever for his unhappiness.”
He goes on to explain that he was told by a respected clinical psychologist that the word “neurosis” is “fading from professional use,” so he changed his title “to the more attention grabbing,” America's Suicide. In any case, it is the flight from responsibility that has America on what Michael H. Davison believes is an inescapable path to suicide.
“The overarching theme of this book suggests that we do not know ourselves very well. Most political, social and personal conflicts to a major degree arise from this single fact and are not resolvable with methods that we commonly rely on to resolve them.
We must for the first time in history find ourselves before we permanently lose ourselves. We do not know who or what we are or what motivates us to dream, create, build, destroy or kill.”
In the end he offers a prescription of sorts. To America's citizens he says, grow up! Sound advice to be sure, and if more Americans would take it to heart the country will be the richer for it. But Mr. Davison is quite pessimistic about that actually ever happening.
“Americans are losing their freedom in part for failing to identify their enemy. When the United States finally reaches the dictatorship toward which we plunge, a great part of that tragedy will be the public's denial that they brought that catastrophe upon themselves.”
Mr. Davison concedes that setting more people onto the path of individual responsibility is not something that will happen automatically, yet he offers no concrete steps to encourage it.
He argues that the central conflict on the American political landscape is the tension between the collectivists and the individualists. Or to put it another way, it is the tension between those who favor more government and those who favor less. While the divide generally puts Democrats on the collectivist side and Republicans on the individualist side, Mr. Davison notes that Republicans can be collectivists, too.
Mr. Davison pronounces America's problem as psychological in nature, but the side one takes, collectivist vs. individualist, is ultimately decided based on what one thinks is in one's best interest. It is not neurosis for leftist politicians in the Democratic party, who also happen to be proponents of big government, to find that their interests are served by encouraging dependence upon government. And when, as a result, Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder are faced with the decision to accept government assistance and the dependency that goes with it, or to endure added hardship for the sake of their pride in independence, the choice is a rationale decision, not neurotic behavior. It is one in which differences are weighed and a choice is made that reflects what one believes is in his or her best interest insofar as he or she is able to tell.
We have now come to the point where many of today's “entrepreneurs” see big government as the vehicle for making their fortunes. Recently Jonathan Gruber, one of ObamaCare's key architects, made his own small fortune in this way. First, he helped to fashion a deliberately misleading and complex piece of federal legislation that depended upon, in his words, the “stupidity of the American voter” for passage. Then he raked in the consulting fees from several blue states as they implemented their state run health care exchanges. All to the tune of about $4 million.
So while self interest seems to be part of our problem, it is also the solution. Our American system of government was designed around the central fact that people do what they believe is in their best interest. Ours is a system of Checks and Balances in which the pursuit of self interest in one branch of government acts as a deterrent to it in the other branches. In that way government power is intended to be limited. What I would hope for in a book about America's dire circumstances, are some ideas about how we can re-stack the incentives in such a way that it is not in anybody's best interest to claim the mantle of public service while in reality soaking the taxpayer for millions.
While America's Suicide offers countless valid examples of where America is going off track, it never touches on the heart of it: how it works out that a select group of governing and connected elites can profit at the expense of America. It offers no specifics for averting the inevitable disaster that is predicted in its title, perhaps because Mr. Davison has thrown up his hands in despair. The best he offers are what I consider some rather dubious principles of a Rational and Responsible American Party. For example, Mr. Davison believes that Supreme Court decisions on the constitutionality of legislation should be subject to override by two thirds vote of both houses of congress. Third parties are rarely successful and one that offers that as a principle is unlikely to gain much support in my view.
I do not share Mr. Davison's pessimism, and I find America's Suicide something of a misdiagnosis.
November 06, 2014
An Agile Legislative Process?
Mike Lee, U.S. Senator from Utah, has a plan for the Republican Congress that convenes in January.
Republican leaders should embrace a more open-source strategy development model that includes everyone on the front end to avoid confusion, suspicion, and division on the back end. The last four years have repeatedly shown the folly of excluding anti-establishment conservatives from strategy formation—bills pulled from the floor, intra-Conference chaos, and back-biting in the press.
Inclusive legislative and strategy processes will come with tradeoffs, of course. Leaders will have to surrender some of their institutional power. Conservatives will have to be prepared to accept defeat, fair and square, if our ideas cannot carry the day. Members will have to expose themselves to inconvenient amendment votes. The results of some votes and the fates of certain bills may prove unpredictable. But the costs of an open-source, transparent process are worth it for the benefits of greater inclusion of more diverse voices and views, and for the opportunity such a process would offer to rebuild the internal and external trust necessary to govern.
Senator Lee's approach has some elements of the Agile Development Process, also known as Scrum. Agile is a software development process that relies on diverse, self-organizing teams. Development occurs in sprints of two or three weeks in duration. The team decides at the start of each sprint how many and which required features it can finish by the end of the sprint. Finish means that feature is ready for production.
If Republicans can find a way to apply Agile principles to the legislative process — a tall order — they can get some impressive and worthwhile results. Read all of Senator Lee's column. It's a good plan, and I think they can do it. But like Agile, it will require discipline.
Note: The author is a certified Agile Scrum Master.
November 03, 2014
Vote New Hampshire
Something to think about on your way to the polls:
Vote the Republican ticket!
Despair at Duke
A sure sign that the Democrats are in for a really rough day tomorrow is when stalwart lefties say we ought to cancel the election.
There was a time when midterm elections made sense — at our nation’s founding, the Constitution represented a new form of republican government, and it was important for at least one body of Congress to be closely accountable to the people. But especially at a time when Americans’ confidence in the ability of their government to address pressing concerns is at a record low, two-year House terms no longer make any sense. We should get rid of federal midterm elections entirely.
The excerpt above comes from a New York Times column, Cancel the Midterms, penned by Duke Professor David Schanzer and Duke junior, Jay Sullivan — presumably one of the professor's students. Curious combination, to say the least, a professor and a junior. Maybe Jay Sullivan is really connected, politically speaking.
But I digress. Up to now our friends on the left have been harping non-stop about the importance of the vote. Anything that might remotely be construed as an impediment to voting, such as having to show an ID to prove who you are when you vote, is a civil rights violation. Everybody ought to vote. On the left they even want people who are not U.S. citizens to vote. Actually, I think they especially want non-citizens to be able vote, and the less they know about America, its freedoms, and its issues, the better.
When it comes to voting, more is better. Except for now? Here we are down to the wire, but the polls continue to show that Republicans are probably going to win control of the Senate from Obama's Democrats. So, now lefties are saying never mind all that stuff about voting. Why do we have to have all these elections anyway? It's just way too much.
Peter Ingemi, a pro-life Massachusetts blogger, has sound advice for New Hampshire Republicans of all persuasions: Get out and vote for Scott Brown.
So I urge you , if you are a New Hampshire Tea Party voter, a second amendment defender or even like me, a strong pro-life voter and considered staying home or even voting 3rd party reconsider, because choosing to elect Scott Brown may do more for your cause than you can possibly imagine.
Imagine the depressing effect a Brown victory will have as left wing voters consider heading out to the polls in western states.
This year I plan to vote the Republican ticket, top to bottom. I urge all undecided voters to do the same.
October 24, 2014
The Florida Voucher Fight
Denisha Merriweather and the Florida Education Association have very different viewpoints on Florida's Tax Credit Scholarships Program. On the one hand the program got a ringing endorsement from Ms. Merriweather recently in the Wall Street Journal. She was one of Florida's low-income minority students who were able to take advantage of it. To say that the FTC Scholarship Program made a difference in her life would be quite an understatement. In her own words,
By the time I was in the fourth grade, I had been held back twice, disliked school, and honestly believed I’d end up a high-school dropout. Instead, three months ago, I earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida in interdisciplinary social science with a minor in juvenile justice. I am the first member of my family to go to college, let alone graduate. But this didn’t happen by chance, or by hard work alone. It happened because I was given an opportunity.
The difference maker was a scholarship that allowed me to go to a secondary school that was the right fit for me. I was lucky to be raised in Florida, home to the nation’s largest tax-credit scholarship program, a “voucher” program that helps parents pay for private schools. Here’s the cool part: The scholarships are financed entirely by charitable contributions, which are offset by tax credits.
The Florida Department of Education concurs: It's "Good news for choice!"
Good news for choice! To encourage private, voluntary contributions, to expand educational opportunities for children of families that have limited financial resources and to enable children in this state to achieve a greater level of excellence in their education, the 2001 Florida Legislature created s. 220.187, Florida Statutes, establishing the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. In 2010, the FTC Scholarship Program was expanded and renumbered as Section 1002.395, Florida Statutes.
The law provides for state tax credits for contributions to nonprofit scholarship funding organizations, called SFOs. The SFO's then award scholarships to eligible children of families that have limited financial resources.
As uplifting as Ms. Merriweather's story truly is, somehow the Florida Education Association wants to kill the program that made it possible. The tax-credit scholarship program has been around since 2001, created under Republican Governor Jeb Bush, but recently the FEA has filed a lawsuit that seeks to end it altogether. Says the FEA:
"Florida's voucher programs are a risky experiment that gambles taxpayers' money and children's lives," Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall said in a statement sent out in conjunction with a press conference in Tallahassee. "Florida's voucher schools are largely unregulated, don't have to follow the state's academic standards, don't have to hire qualified teachers and don't have to prove to the state that they are using public money wisely."
You might think that ten-plus years of positive results would allay FEA fears of the risk to children. In fact, Florida comes in first in the nation for developing reading proficiency among low-income fourth-graders. Still, the teachers union wants it gone. Sorry, but the pretended concern about some nebulous risk to Florida's children doesn't ring true.
As ususal, we can follow the money.
Education and advocacy groups are targeting a Florida voucher program that this year will draw $357.8 million in taxpayer money to help send 69,000 low-income students to private schools. The groups filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, begun in 2001 under former Gov. Jeb Bush, violates the state constitution by diverting tax dollars from public schools.
The tax credit cap, currently 357.8 million, will increase to $447.3 million for next year. Education and advocacy groups (advocates for the Democratic party, no doubt) want that money in public schools where it can feed union dues which will ultimately find their way into Democratic campaign coffers. For their part Democrats are great champions of public education rather than school choice. They know where the money is.
There is another much more insidious aim. Think about who Denisha Merriweather might have become without the FTC Scholarship that paved her way to a college degree. Ms. Merriweather describes that Denisha as a child.
I grew up with my biological mother and we moved around constantly. This really took a toll on my grades—Ds and Fs were the norm. My poor grades and the fact that I was two years older than most of my classmates angered and embarrassed me. I was “disruptive” and fought with other students. Teachers tried to help, but nothing they did seemed to work. I felt no matter how hard I tried, the results would be the same. Learning became a nightmare—a punishment for being a child.
That is the Denisha Merriweather that Democrats would prefer to have as a voting citizen. Without a course correction Ms. Merriweather fully expected to be a high school dropout. Angry, embarrassed, resentful. Think how much more easily she could be persuaded by the Democratic message. You know the one: Her lot in life, low skill, low education, low income, all of that, is because she's caught in a racist trap. A system rigged against her. Yes, it's almost certain that she'd buy into that message.
The funny thing is, had she been stuck in that boat, she would have been right to believe that racism put her there. It's a racist trap, alright, but it's not the doings of a Republican party that Democrats endlessly accuse of racism. (If you disagree with Barack Obama what else could you be but racist?) No, the racist trap is the doing of a Democratic party that takes deliberate, concrete actions to deny opportunity to disadvantaged school children. That's the racist trap. That's what the Democrats are doing in Florida.
October 23, 2014
Obama Is Way Too Cool
With no letup in sight the Obama administration blunders through crisis after crisis. The mid-term elections are just weeks away, so Joshua Green of Bloomberg tries his best to chalk up the blundering to public misunderstanding of Obama's crisis management "style." Oh, and Republican obstuctionism, too. On that count Exhibit A is this bit of red meat for the lefty partisans. (All emphasis below is mine)
It’s true that Obama’s task is made considerably more difficult by the antipathy that has marked the Republicans’ response to Ebola. Most seem more intent on stopping Democrats than on stopping the contagion. Their ads politicizing the virus have only added to the climate of fear. And their filibuster of Obama’s surgeon general nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has also silenced an authoritative voice on public health, for reasons as small-minded as those dictating the party’s line on Ebola: They’re carrying water for the National Rifle Association, which objects to classifying gun violence as a public-health issue.
The Boston Globe, not your everyday right-wing rag, reports a different take on the Murthy "filibuster."
Republicans, however, noted that Democrats who control the Senate could have confirmed Murthy without any help from Republicans under rule changes enacted last year that allow confirmation with a simple majority.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid has declined to put the nomination up for a vote, with a leadership aide telling the Globe in March that there was uncertainty over whether some Democrats would support it.
Turns out it was the all too typical Harry Reid filibuster. Just never bring it up.
But anyway, on to the analysis of Obama's crisis management process. It's cerebral. Really. It is. At least according to Joshua Green, it is. He seems to think "Obama’s crisis-management process as akin to a high-level graduate seminar." Yeah.
Six years in, it’s clear that Obama’s presidency is largely about adhering to intellectual rigor—regardless of the public’s emotional needs. The virtues of this approach are often obscured in a crisis, because Obama disdains the performative aspects of his job.
Hmmm. Maybe Green should have left off that last part. Suppose we think of "the performative aspects" in the way you might think of your annual performative review. You know, where your'e hoping you might be in for a pay raise? So Obama, he "disdains" doing his job? How's that supposed to work?
Well that's not exactly news, and we've seen how it works, which is: not. Obama can never bring himself to do anything except campaign and play gotcha games with Republicans. And everybody else for that matter. From blowing up budget negotiations with John Boehner to blowing up the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraqi President al Maliki, Obama is always into politial maneuvering so that the inevitable failure is somebody elses fault.
And journalists like Joshua Green go along with that. Consider the BS about the Republican filibuster. But Green wants to have it both ways. He wants to appear to be critical of President Obama to give the rest of his nonsense some weight.
Even so, the failure is mostly Obama’s. It didn’t require extraordinary foresight to anticipate the public freakout once the infection spread beyond Duncan. Obama, who’s better acquainted with Washington dysfunction than anybody, should have anticipated the partisan acrimony.
Right. Obama should have anticipated that Republicans would be partisan. And of course, he should have realized that the public are just not as cool as he is. Tripped up by his own glorious brilliance. Tragic.
October 22, 2014
Jeanne Shaheen Ducks The Question
In last night's debate between Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Shaheen was confronted with this (apparently very difficult) question: "Imagine you are at home wearing your New Hampshire citizen hat and you get a call from pollster asking the following question: Do you approve of the job President Obama is doing? Now there'll be a chance to follow up but this is a yes or no answer. Do you approve, yes or no?"
What a great question, and it put Senator Shaheen in a tough spot. If she answered yes, it would be an admission that she hasn't really been at all in tune with her constituents. If she said no, she would have to explain why she voted with Obama 99% of the time.
The question we need to have answered is this. Does Senator Shaheen support the perpetuation of President Obama's policies? By ducking the moderator's question the Senator let her voting record speak for itself, and the answer it gives is yes. She supports continuing President Obama's policies. And it will be impossible for New Hampshire citizens to escape the detrimental impact of those policies if Democrats hold the Senate.
October 19, 2014
Vote No to Jeanne Shaheen
Jeanne Shaheen is one of seven Senate Democrats who signed a March 2012 letter requesting Douglas H. Shulman, Commissioner of the IRS, "to immediately change the administrative framework for enforcement of the tax code as it applies to groups designated as 'social welfare' organizations."
Shaheen's letter got results. A year later in May 10, 2013 a headline in the Washington Post read, "IRS admits targeting conservatives for tax scrutiny in 2012 election." Lois Lerner, the IRS official who oversaw tax-exempt groups, blamed the Cincinnati Office saying, "They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title."
When asked about this at a congressional hearing Lois Lerner, the IRS official who oversaw tax-exempt groups, refused to testify invoking her fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. What better indication of improper political activity by IRS than this? In effect the IRS suppressed the conservative message through tax policy in order to enhance Barack Obama's re-election chances.
Another four years of Barack Obama. Lucky us. But there is a point to this. If you don't believe the IRS should be working for the Democratic party, vote "No" to another six years of Jeanne Shaheen.
October 18, 2014
Hope and Change!
This ought to be a bumper sticker!
A hat tip to Michael Walsh!
October 01, 2014
You Are Not Mary's Cause
The charges leveled in this powerful campaign ad by Elbert Guillory against Louisiana encumbant Senator Mary Landrieu could also be said of any other Democrat running this year... and those not running, as well.
September 23, 2014
A New Innovation of the Obama IRS
Perusing the IRS Inspector General's report, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, a Professor of Law at Georgetown, noticed a troubling finding.
According to the inspector general’s report (pp. 30 & 38), this particular IRS targeting commenced on Jan. 25, 2012 — the beginning of the election year for President Obama’s second campaign. On that date: “the BOLO [‘be on the lookout’] criteria were again updated.” The revised criteria included “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
It wasn't just Tea Party groups who were subjected to heightened scrutiny by the IRS.
This is a new low for American government — targeting those who would teach others about its founding document. Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon went to great lengths to try to conceal the facts of his constitutional violations, but it never occurred to him to conceal the meaning of the Constitution itself, by targeting its teachers. Politicians have always been tempted to try to censor their political adversaries; but none has been so bold as to try to suppress constitutional education directly. Presidents have always sought to push against the constitutional limits of their power; but never have they targeted those who merely teach about such limits. In short, never before has the federal government singled out for special scrutiny those who would teach their fellow citizens about our magnificent Constitution. This is the new innovation of Obama’s IRS.
We have an important election coming up.
September 22, 2014
Climate Change - The Stakes
Climate Change, formerly known as Global Warming, is a high stakes game, and the hysteria on display yesterday afternoon in New York provides dramatic emphasis.
Naomi Klein, author of a new book on the “crisis,” This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, said, “I have seen the future, and it looks like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.” In her new book she demands that North America and Europe pay reparations to poorer countries to compensate for the climate change they cause. She calls her plan a “Marshall Plan for the Earth” and acknowledges that it would cost “hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars.”
Can you guess where those "hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars" will come from? Bingo, if you guessed the American tax payer. Ms Klein has a different answer, though.
“Need more money? Print some!”
Apparently, her understanding of monetary theory is on a par with her understanding of the climate. News flash for Ms. Klein: There is no free lunch. Printing more money will only shift the cost climate boondoggles to poorest of us, the ones who can't protect what little they have by fleeing the sinking dollar for something else that might hold some value.
No matter. Climate hysteria works for Naomi Klein. She's become a best selling author by grinding the anti-capitalist axe. With her latest effort, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, she both promotes and cashes in on the anti-capitalist hysteria by predicting the end of civilization, an eventuality brought on by catastophic climate change, which of course is the bitter fruit of corporate profits.
"Hundreds of billions if not trillions" buys a lot of hysteria, and said hysteria will undoubtedly bring in a load of cash for Ms. Klein. Her book was scheduled to be released this month, so you might say the Climate Summit in New york is the culmination of her book tour. What a brilliant marketing strategy!
The cllimate itself, however, is not at stake, no matter how hysterical they get down in the Big Apple. Activist powers that be didn't change the name from "Global Warming" to "Global Climate Change" for nothing.
Oregon-based physicist Gordon Fulks sums it up well: “CO2 is said to be responsible for global warming that is not occurring, for accelerated sea-level rise that is not occurring, for net glacial and sea ice melt that is not occurring . . . and for increasing extreme weather that is not occurring.”
May I suggest, a new approach to Climate Science is needed. Stop worrying about the CO2 and start paying attention to the USD. In other words, follow the money.
Note: This is not a review of Ms. Klein's new book. In fact, I have no intention of ever paying money for a copy, so my chances of ever reading it are slim to none.
September 17, 2014
The Allure of Secession
And which of the last true-believing pilgrims in the Church of Hope and Change, his fraying Shepard Fairey T-shirt his only protection against the chill of the frozen-foods aisle at Trader Joe’s, does not dream of living in a nation with no SUV-driving Rick Perry voters who drink cheap beer un-ironically?
Scottish secession, an extraordinarily foolish hope?
September 16, 2014
A former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department has come forward with what some would consider a startling allegation. Others, like myself, find nothing startling about it.
According to Raymond Maxwell an after-hours session was conducted in the basement at State Department headquarters in DC, to prevent any damaging documents from being turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisers.
“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ”
I'd be more startled if anybody could show that no such scrubbing took place. The story has a familiar ring.
September 15, 2014
Leadership, Obama Style
In his essay, Myron vs Atilla, Richard Fernandez observes that it is "the neglected, boring area of workaday life is the secret sword of the West." The Cold War was won because Reagan outflanked the Soviets, says Mr. Fernandez. America outproduced the Soviet Union, and Fernandez calls this America's "productive flank."
The productive flank solves scarcity problems by growing out of it, while Islamism and Socialism solve the same problem by plunder and rationing respectively.
So why, he asks, with threats looming throughout the world, why isn't America "rampaging down the productive flank?"
One possible explanation is that the president, Great Man that is, isn’t aware of the potential of plumbers or drilling or nuclear energy. For him, the field is still dominated by titans such as himself who will solve everything from the socialist equivalent of a pulpit: the teleprompter.
Yes, that would be one explanation. But is ISIS a problem that Obama feels obligated to solve? You wouldn't think so, if you were to judge by the number of conditions he puts on fighting it. There has to be a coalition. The U.S. will not be the leader. American troops will not be deployed in combat roles. Iraq must have a more inclusive government or America won't take part in the effort.
It was the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki that may finally have backed Obama into the corner. Al Maliki was the impediment to that inclusive Iraqi government, upon which military assistance depended. With him gone Obama had little choice but to commit America to the war against ISIS. So far, I'm aware of no deadlines that have been set for pulling America out of the impending fight, but Obama may set one later on to give himself an escape hatch.
In any case, the "secret sword" will remain in its sheath. While we may ultimately prevail by productively outflanking ISIS, I doubt that it will be while Obama is still in office. He'd really rather not unleash the productive might of America. Otherwise, the Keystone Pipeline would have been approved long ago. His promise to defeat ISIS is just so much talk, as transitory as any of his pronouncements, meant only to stave off a rout of the Democrats in the midterm elections. Obama's real enemy is not ISIS.
The coalition Obama leads to crush his real enemies is the one comprised of the IRS, the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It's the only place where Obama shows any real leadership. Isn't it funny that he can never let that show up on his resume.