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The Way Forward for the American Creed
Topic: The Way Forward for the American Creed (Read 121801 times)
WSJ: Grow, baby, grow
Reply #400 on:
August 16, 2011, 02:16:21 PM »
By STEPHEN MOORE
Even with a lousy jobs report, weak GDP numbers and stock market turbulence, House Republicans have been slow to propose policies that would help expand the economy. The GOP has chosen to emphasize austerity—reduced spending, less debt—instead of growth. Where are today's Jack Kemps?
The good news is that key House Republicans are planning on rolling out a tax-reform plan with growth incentives as early as next month. My sources say this would be a pre-emptive move to get out ahead of the bipartisan "super committee" charged with raising revenues and possibly modernizing the tax code.
The idea taking shape is to pass something like the broad outline of the tax changes in the "roadmap" budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan and passed by the House earlier this year. That plan called for a 25% top tax rate on individuals and corporations. There is also interest in moving to a "territorial" tax system so that U.S.-based multinational firms don't face one of the highest tax rates in the industrialized world. The GOP plan is expected to be revenue neutral so that it does not increase the deficit.
House Republicans are hoping to blunt criticism voiced often by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that the GOP has done nothing for job creation. Republicans also hope a House-passed tax reform bill will put intense pressure on Senate Democrats to come up with their own plan.
"We've got to be seen as promoting our own growth and jobs agenda," said Rep. Jim Jordan, who heads the conservative Republican Study Committee and is a fan of the House passing an ambitious tax plan. "We haven't done that of late."
Any Republican plan would have to move through the House Ways and Means Committee, and that means GOP Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the committee chairman, would play a big role. Mr. Camp's office didn't respond to a call for comment, but in the past he has told me that he's a big supporter of lower rates in exchange for a broader base. And in recent weeks Mr. Camp has held committee hearings on tax reform. As one House member put it to me, "we've got to convince Dave that this is his chance to make history."
The United States of Entitlements
Reply #401 on:
August 19, 2011, 10:07:11 AM »
The United States of Entitlements
by Bruce Thornton (Research Fellow and W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow, 2009–10, 2010–11)
The 2012 presidential election will be a referendum on democracy.
Ancient Athens birthed both democracy and its most penetrating critics. The fundamental contentious issue was whether average people had the ability to manage the state and determine its proper interests, policies, and goals. For the defenders of democracy like the philosopher Protagoras, the politikê technê—i.e. the skills and knowledge necessary for coexistence in a community—belongs to all men by nature. Otherwise, no community could even exist. It would degenerate into a Hobbesian war of all against all. For its critics like Aristophanes, Plato, and Thucydides, radical democracy empowered people who did not have the skills or virtues necessary for seeing beyond their immediate private interests and desires in order to choose policies that benefitted the state as a whole, both in the present and the future.
Illustration by Barbara Kelley On the whole, the American Founders agreed with these critics of democracy. The founders rejected democracy for the same reason they rejected monarchy and oligarchy: given that, as Alexander Hamilton wrote, "men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious," these irrational appetites and passions inherent in human nature, when concentrated in one governing faction, would cause each to degenerate into oppression and disorder if left unchecked. Fearing this outcome, the founders created a republican mixed government like that of ancient Sparta or Rome as described in the work of the Greek historian Polybius. "The balance of a well-ordered government," John Adams wrote, "will alone be able to prevent that emulation [rivalry for power] from degenerating into dangerous ambition, irregular rivalries, destructive factions, wasting seditions, and bloody civil war." Thus the Constitution established a monarchical executive, an oligarchic Senate, and a democratic House of Representatives, each empowered to balance the other and forestall the inevitable decline into tyranny each alone would undergo if it possessed too much power.
Will voters make decisions that are necessary for the long-term health of the country?
The excesses of ancient Athenian democracy and its near destruction at the hands of Sparta made the founders particularly wary of direct democracies, which as James Madison wrote, "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." By empowering people no matter how lacking in virtue, character, or knowledge, democracy gives greater scope to their irrational appetites, leaving them vulnerable to factional strife or the demagogue who promises them the gratification of their desires at the expense of freedom and political order. Then democracy becomes "ochlocracy," a "mob rule" that descends into tyranny: "For the mob," Polybius writes, "habituated to feed at the expense of others, and to have its hopes of a livelihood in the property of its neighbors, as soon as it has got a leader sufficiently ambitious and daring, being excluded by poverty from the sweets of civil honors, produces a reign of mere violence. Then come tumultuous assemblies, massacres, banishments, redivisions of land; until, after losing all trace of civilization, it has once more found a master and a despot."
Though this may seem like a dusty political philosophy lesson, remember that the United States has evolved perilously close to the sort of direct democracy that would have horrified the founders. In addition to certain constitutional changes such as the 17th amendment’s direct election of senators—which subjects that body more directly to the short-term selfish interests of constituents—more recent developments in communication technology are altering the nature of our republic. Daily polling, the blogosphere, and the 24-7 news cycle have exposed politicians to incessant pressure from fickle public opinion. The growth of special-interest lobbies, also empowered by those same developments in communication technology, has made it easier for political leaders eager for reelection or private gain to pursue short-term economic and political advantage at the expense of long-term planning and the collective good. And the evolution of "democracy" into an unexamined, self-evident good sidelines the traditional criticisms of democracy that so influenced the American Founders.
In the next few years our country will be a sort of laboratory in which these old ideas about the dangers of democracy will be put to the test. Particularly worrisome is the increasing inclination to see the state not as an object of collective affection, duty, and loyalty in which individuals find some measure of their identities and meaning, but rather as a mere dispenser of entitlements that each faction tries to control for its own benefit. This weakness of democracy was apparent at its birth in ancient Athens. By the middle of the 4th Century B.C., an Athenian citizen could expect some form of state pay practically every day of the year, such as a stipend for attending the Assembly, serving on a jury, or attending a festival. Meanwhile, the citizen’s responsibility to manage the state and its military was given over to professional generals and politicians.
Demosclerosis is the modern expression of the dangers of direct democracy.
More dangerous than the abdication of civic duty is the threat of violent revolution to enrich one’s faction, as when Polybius speaks of the democratic "mob" as "habituated to feed at the expense of others, and to have its hopes of a livelihood in the property of its neighbors"—a hope that is made real by violence. Traditional criticisms of democracy that influenced the American Founders invariably focus on its tendency to sacrifice the good of the state in order to redistribute wealth by expropriating it from others, whether through manipulation of the machinery of government or through violence.
In our own day, violent revolution is unlikely. But expansive and expensive entitlements managed and dispensed by government bureaucracies achieve the same end using democratic means: the redistribution of wealth at the expense of the long-term planning and policies needed for civic and economic well-being. The clash of numerous competing factional interests as they enrich themselves via such government transfers of wealth has led to what journalist Jonathon Rauch in 1994 called "demosclerosis."
"By definition," Rauch explains, "the government's power comes from its ability to reassign resources, whether by taxing, spending, regulating, or simply passing laws. But that very ability energizes countless investors and entrepreneurs and ordinary Americans to go digging for gold by lobbying government. In time, a whole industry––large, sophisticated, professionalized, and self-serving––emerges and then assumes a life of its own. This industry is a drain on the productive economy, and there appears to be no natural limit to its growth. As it grows, the steady accumulation of subsidies and benefits, each defended in perpetuity by a professional interest group, calcifies government. Government loses its capacity to experiment and so becomes more and more prone to failure." Demosclerosis is the modern expression of the dangers of direct democracy that the founders feared.
The present crisis of entitlement costs––$2.4 trillion in 2011––and the burgeoning government debt needed to pay for them give force to Rauch’s analysis. According to the Heritage Foundation, if the country stays on its present course, by 2050 the national debt will hit 344 percent of GDP, while by 2080 spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Obamacare subsidy program will reach 24.2 percent of GDP, a sum that will consume all federal tax revenues (assuming the amount of taxes collected averages 18 percent of GDP).
Americans know that Medicare is in trouble. But they don't want to do anything about it.
Yet despite this swiftly advancing economic catastrophe, Representative Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare, the only specific plan to appear so far, is not popular with most Americans. According to a CNN poll, just 35 percent favor Ryan’s plan, while 58 percent oppose it. And even though the plan does not apply to anyone over 55 years old, 64 percent of those over 65 oppose it. Still, Americans do recognize that Medicare is in trouble—but they do not want to do anything about it: a CBS News poll finds that 53 percent believe that Medicare needs fundamental changes, while 58 percent say it should continue functioning as it does now. This cognitive dissonance applies to entitlement spending in general. A Bloomberg poll finds that 49 percent of those polled are more worried about Republican cuts to entitlement programs, while 40 percent are more worried about Democrats maintaining current spending levels.
The practical political fallout of these conflicting attitudes was apparent in the May special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District, a traditional Republican stronghold. Democrat Kathy Hochul won in part because her opponent, Jane Corwin, had endorsed Representative Ryan’s plan. During the campaign, Corwin was cast as eager to reduce entitlements in order to give tax-breaks to the rich. Lurid ads appeared in which a Ryan look-alike pushed an old lady in a wheelchair over a cliff. This was not a far cry from Paul Krugman’s hyberbolic assertion that Republican calls for budget cuts "are literally stealing food from the mouths of babes."
President Obama, for his part, legitimized these scare tactics. In April, he called the Ryan plan a "vision that says America can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made to care for our seniors," and claimed that seniors would have to pay $6,000 more for health care in order to finance "tax cuts for the wealthy."
Will the New York special election, with its Mediscare tactics, be a harbinger for 2012? The debt and economic growth will surely be on the electorate’s mind. But more profoundly, the 2012 elections will be a referendum on democracy itself, a contest between Plato and Protagoras. It will show whether a critical mass of American voters are able to see beyond their own private interests and make decisions that, while causing themselves some pain, are nonetheless necessary for the long-term fiscal health of the country—or whether, consistent with the ancient critics of democracy and the fears of the founders, they will choose instead a government that uses its power to benefit those who are, as Polybius put it, "habituated to feed at the expense of others, and to have [their] hopes of a livelihood in the property of its neighbors."
Bruce S. Thornton is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He received his BA in Latin in 1975 and his PhD in comparative literature–Greek, Latin, and English–in 1983, both from the University of California, Los Angeles. Thornton is currently a professor of classics and humanities at California State University in Fresno, California. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays and reviews on Greek culture and civilization and their influence on Western civilization. He has also written on contemporary political and educational issues, as well as lecturing at venues such as the Smithsonian Institute, the Army War College, and the Air Force Academy and appearing on television, including the History Channel and ABC’s Politically Incorrect. His latest book, published in March 2011, is titled The Wages of Appeasement: Ancient Athens, Munich, and Obama's America.
Alexander's Essay 8/25/11
Reply #402 on:
August 25, 2011, 01:07:05 PM »
Alexander's Essay – August 25, 2011
Ballots or Bullets?
Ballot Box Barriers to Restoring Constitutional Integrity
"We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our Liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party through artifice or corruption, the Government may be the choice of a party for its own ends, not of the nation for the national good." --John Adams, Inaugural Address, 1797
All around us, there are imminent and ominous threats to the future of American Liberty. None, however, is more grave than the demolition of free enterprise by those who would replace it with the authoritarian rule of Democratic Socialism envisioned by Barack Hussein Obama and his leftist comrades.
Rancorous political debate is currently focused on competing solutions for our failing domestic economy and the collapse of our esteemed standing among the nations of the world.
Conservatives, particularly those resolute constitutional constructionists who identify with the much-maligned Tea Party Movement, rightly understand, as did Ronald Reagan, that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." That is why we are advocating for the restoration of constitutional limits on the central government.
Conversely, the growing ranks of leftists in Congress, some 80 of whom are openly members of the Socialist Party of America's Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), subscribe to the notion that government is both the engine and the drive train of our nation's economy.
But if Essential Liberty and Rule of Law as enshrined in our Constitution are to survive, then free enterprise must be their economic engine. At present, however, that engine is attempting to pull an ever more bloated government trailer -- a trailer so overloaded as to bring the economy to a dead stop.
Obama's government programs will amass a $1.3 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2011 alone, some $400 billion more than the paltry $917 billion in savings to which Congress agreed over the next decade under the recent budget deal and corresponding debt-ceiling increase.
This oppressive bloat -- and our elected leaders' utterly inadequate response to it -- will serve as fodder for much of the political debate ahead of the 2012 election. Indeed, the future of Liberty depends on the successful defeat of enough congressional leftists to provide strong conservative majorities in both the House and Senate. Moreover, Liberty hangs in the balance of the upcoming presidential election. While conservatives recaptured the House of Representatives in 2010, the first effective step to restrain Obama's agenda, only a conservative president can begin to undo the damage done to our nation by the Obama regime.
However, do we still have the luxury of political solutions, via elections, to salvage what is left of our Republic? Is the ballot box still a viable method to restore constitutional integrity?
Is the ballot box still an option? Post your opinion
As John Adams once warned, we must be vigilantly on guard against all contagions that would "infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections."
These contagions, these obstacles, are as follows, roughly in order of threat magnitude: an ignorant electorate; candidates who are unable to articulate the difference between Rule of Law and rule of men; institutionalized dependency on the state, including the fact that 40 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax; forced redistribution of wealth; comfort, complacency and indifference; Leftmedia dezinformatsia; opposition by the leftist elite; and, finally, the conferring of legal status upon illegal immigrants in order to fortify Democrat voter constituencies illegitimately.
The most significant obstacle to restoring liberty by way of the electoral process is the fact that so many Americans know so little about civics or civic responsibility. When it comes to getting government right, ignorance is not bliss.
It follows, then, that there is a dearth of qualified candidates who are able to articulate the difference between Rule of Law and rule of men, who instead get lost in the high weeds of lesser political issues.
A majority of Americans are beneficiaries of some combination of thousands of government schemes to redistribute wealth. The resulting institutionalized dependency on the state is insidious, as it results in reliable votes for whichever party (read: the Democrat Party) can take the most from one group and redistribute it to another. It's no wonder that the most recent Index of Dependence on Government (2010) reports the greatest single-year percentage rise in dependence since 1976.
As Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) recently noted, Obama's "intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him."
Additionally, 40 percent of Americans pay no federal income taxes. This huge voting bloc thus has no (apparent) stake in our nation's fiscal health, and its voters are thereby motivated to use their ballots to keep the government largess spewing.
As 19th-century political economist Frederic Bastiat noted, "Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."
The forced redistribution of wealth pushed the Cost of Government Day to 12 August this year, which means that the average American tax payer must now work 224 days to fund all taxes, and hidden regulatory taxes, imposed by the central government. That date is 27 days later than in 2008, and it now consumes more than 60 percent of national earned income. There are endless regulatory costs on the horizon, such as Obama's new fuel economy standards which according to a study conducted by the Center for Automotive Research, will increase the average retail price of motor vehicles more than $11,000.
As government takes more, individuals have less to live their lives and to support Liberty advocacy organizations like The Patriot Post.
Of course, comfort, complacency and indifference, particularly among wealthy "Republicans" who contribute little to sustain our legacy of Liberty for our posterity, undermine the potential for sustaining Liberty by way of the ballot box.
In response to such indifference, Samuel Adams advised, "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"
Meanwhile, Leftmedia indoctrination and thriving financial support for wealthy left-elite socialist causes continue to twist public opinion and ensure the success of leftist candidates and policies.
Other obstacles to ballot box solutions? Post your comments
While these are certainly formidable obstacles to the rejection of socialism and successful restoration of constitutional integrity, they are not insurmountable. Still, when generations of Americans have been inculcated with the belief that they are entitled to so much from the state, it may take a generation or more to re-educate them, and to stave off the violence that often erupts when the state fails to meet their expectations as witnessed recently in Greece and England.
The question remains: Are we irrevocably locked into the Cycle of Democracy? Recall that this evolves from bondage to spiritual faith; spiritual faith to great courage; courage to Liberty (Rule of Law); Liberty to abundance; abundance to complacency; complacency to apathy; apathy to dependence; and from dependence back into bondage (rule of men).
At the close of the first American Revolution, George Washington wrote, "No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings [of Liberty] than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass."
We have already veered from that road. Is there time to use the ballot box to attain a new dawn for Liberty, or are we destined to dependence and bondage, which will require another renewal of faith and courage?
Sen. Mark Rubio
Reply #403 on:
August 25, 2011, 01:21:23 PM »
The Way Forward: An Entrepreneurial Fix for the U.S. Economy
Reply #404 on:
August 29, 2011, 12:02:34 PM »
Regarding the previous post, you can put Marco Rubio's name right into the title of The Way Forward thread, or would that be redundant?
My simplest proposal to jumpstart enterprise would be to waive all employment law in the first year for entrepreneurs other to avoid blatant discrimination and mistreatment. Require only a 1099 for monies paid out, with no withholding or other forms required in the first calendar year. This WSJ piece goes further:
An Entrepreneurial Fix for the U.S. Economy
Several reforms can make it faster and easier for new business startups.
The Kauffman Foundation recently proposed a way to do that with a set of ideas aptly called the Startup Act. Those ideas, which would cost the government virtually nothing, include:
• Letting in immigrant entrepreneurs who hire American workers.
• Reducing the cost of capital through capital gains tax relief for early stage investments.
• Reducing barriers to IPOs by allowing shareholders to opt out of Sarbanes-Oxley.
• Charging higher fees for patent applicants who want quick decisions to remove the backlog of applications at the Patent Office.
• Giving licensing freedom to academic entrepreneurs at universities to accelerate the commercialization of their ideas.
• Having the government provide data to permit rankings of startup friendliness of states and localities.
• Regular sunsets for regulations and a consistent policy of putting new ones in place only if their benefits exceed their costs.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #405 on:
August 29, 2011, 12:57:13 PM »
Tack this on to Crafty's post with the youtube of Sen. Marco Rubio at the Reagan Library - this is the Q &A that follows. Off script he is just as compelling.
Questions: Will he be VP? How do we attract more young people to conservatism? Tax code reform? Defense? ("The world is as dangerous as it has ever been. If somehow we think that weakening America's national defense is something we can afford to do we are sadly mistaken. We cannot. Weakening our national defense is not the way to balance the budget of the United States of America.") What should the Tea Party focus on?
WSJ: Baraq and American exceptionalism
Reply #406 on:
September 01, 2011, 08:43:30 AM »
By SHELBY STEELE
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times: President Obama is destroying the country. Some say this destructiveness is intended; most say it is inadvertent, an outgrowth of inexperience, ideological wrong-headedness and an oddly undefined character. Indeed, on the matter of Mr. Obama's character, today's left now sounds like the right of three years ago. They have begun to see through the man and are surprised at how little is there.
Yet there is something more than inexperience or lack of character that defines this presidency: Mr. Obama came of age in a bubble of post-'60s liberalism that conditioned him to be an adversary of American exceptionalism. In this liberalism America's exceptional status in the world follows from a bargain with the devil—an indulgence in militarism, racism, sexism, corporate greed, and environmental disregard as the means to a broad economic, military, and even cultural supremacy in the world. And therefore America's greatness is as much the fruit of evil as of a devotion to freedom.
Mr. Obama did not explicitly run on an anti-exceptionalism platform. Yet once he was elected it became clear that his idea of how and where to apply presidential power was shaped precisely by this brand of liberalism. There was his devotion to big government, his passion for redistribution, and his scolding and scapegoating of Wall Street—as if his mandate was somehow to overcome, or at least subdue, American capitalism itself.
Anti-exceptionalism has clearly shaped his "leading from behind" profile abroad—an offer of self-effacement to offset the presumed American evil of swaggering cowboyism. Once in office his "hope and change" campaign slogan came to look like the "hope" of overcoming American exceptionalism and "change" away from it.
So, in Mr. Obama, America gained a president with ambivalence, if not some antipathy, toward the singular greatness of the nation he had been elected to lead.
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.But then again, the American people did elect him. Clearly Americans were looking for a new kind of exceptionalism in him (a black president would show America to have achieved near perfect social mobility). But were they also looking for—in Mr. Obama—an assault on America's bedrock exceptionalism of military, economic and cultural pre-eminence?
American exceptionalism is, among other things, the result of a difficult rigor: the use of individual initiative as the engine of development within a society that strives to ensure individual freedom through the rule of law. Over time a society like this will become great. This is how—despite all our flagrant shortcomings and self-betrayals—America evolved into an exceptional nation.
Yet today America is fighting in a number of Muslim countries, and that number is as likely to rise as to fall. Our exceptionalism saddles us with overwhelming burdens. The entire world comes to our door when there is real trouble, and every day we spill blood and treasure in foreign lands—even as anti-Americanism plays around the world like a hit record.
At home the values that made us exceptional have been smeared with derision. Individual initiative and individual responsibility—the very engines of our exceptionalism—now carry a stigma of hypocrisy. For centuries America made sure that no amount of initiative would lift minorities and women. So in liberal quarters today—where historical shames are made to define the present—these values are seen as little more than the cynical remnants of a bygone era. Talk of "merit" or "a competition of excellence" in the admissions office of any Ivy League university today, and then stand by for the howls of incredulous laughter.
Our national exceptionalism both burdens and defames us, yet it remains our fate. We make others anxious, envious, resentful, admiring and sometimes hate-driven. There's a reason al Qaeda operatives targeted the U.S. on 9/11 and not, say, Buenos Aires. They wanted to enrich their act of evil with the gravitas of American exceptionalism. They wanted to steal our thunder.
So we Americans cannot help but feel some ambivalence toward our singularity in the world—with its draining entanglements abroad, the selfless demands it makes on both our military and our taxpayers, and all the false charges of imperial hubris it incurs. Therefore it is not surprising that America developed a liberalism—a political left—that took issue with our exceptionalism. It is a left that has no more fervent mission than to recast our greatness as the product of racism, imperialism and unbridled capitalism.
But this leaves the left mired in an absurdity: It seeks to trade the burdens of greatness for the relief of mediocrity. When greatness fades, when a nation contracts to a middling place in the world, then the world in fact no longer knocks on its door. (Think of England or France after empire.) To civilize America, to redeem the nation from its supposed avarice and hubris, the American left effectively makes a virtue of decline—as if we can redeem America only by making her indistinguishable from lesser nations.
Since the '60s we have enfeebled our public education system even as our wealth has expanded. Moral and cultural relativism now obscure individual responsibility. We are uninspired in the wars we fight, calculating our withdrawal even before we begin—and then we fight with a self-conscious, almost bureaucratic minimalism that makes the wars interminable.
America seems to be facing a pivotal moment: Do we move ahead by advancing or by receding—by reaffirming the values that made us exceptional or by letting go of those values, so that a creeping mediocrity begins to spare us the burdens of greatness?
As a president, Barack Obama has been a force for mediocrity. He has banked more on the hopeless interventions of government than on the exceptionalism of the people. His greatest weakness as a president is a limp confidence in his countrymen. He is afraid to ask difficult things of them.
Like me, he is black, and it was the government that in part saved us from the ignorances of the people. So the concept of the exceptionalism—the genius for freedom—of the American people may still be a stretch for him. But in fact he was elected to make that stretch. It should be held against him that he has failed to do so.
Mr. Steele is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Among his books is "White Guilt" (Harper/Collins, 2007).
The Essential Question
Reply #407 on:
September 01, 2011, 10:54:53 PM »
Alexander's Essay – September 1, 2011
The Essential Question in Any Political Debate
The most important inquiry conservatives must posit in every policy debate: "What does our Constitution authorize and mandate?"
"The Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all." --George Washington
The most vital debate of the 2012 political cycle, indeed the essential question in any political debate, is one that you will not hear much about unless you are represented by one of the authentic conservatives who have carried the banner of the Reagan Revolution into the 21st century, or you are represented by one of those much-maligned Tea Party "radicals."
One unifying characteristic of the old guard and the new breed of senators and representatives is that they insist upon establishing the Essential Liberty and Rule of Law precedents as prerequisites for any political policy debate.
Our Constitution, as written and ratified, stipulates in its preface that it is "ordained and established" by the People in order to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." To that end, it established a representative republic, not a popular democracy, which is to say it affirmed the primacy of Rule of Law over rule of men.
Our Founders understood that the Rule of Law enshrined in our Constitution was the fundamental guarantee to protecting and sustaining Liberty for their, and our, posterity. Consequently, they prescribed that all elected officials be bound by Sacred Oath to "support and defend" our Constitution.
For presidents, Article II, Section 1, specifies: "Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: 'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'"
Likewise Article VI, Clause 3 specifies: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution."
However, in the current political era, the vast majority of those elected to national office have abandoned their oaths in deference to political expediency and constituency. For this they should be duly prosecuted, one and all, for breach of oath and trust.
Are oaths binding? Post your opinion
Democrats deign to trace their party lineage to the father of classical libertarianism, Thomas Jefferson, yet they utterly reject questions about constitutional authority. So archaic do they believe such queries to be that when asked, they insist, in the words of Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, "Nobody questions that."
But if Liberty is to be sustained by ballots rather than bullets, every conservative candidate must base his or her campaign platform upon restoration of our authentic Constitution and wholly reject the so-called "living constitution upon which Democrats have constructed their socialist empire.
For much of our nation's history, election cycles have been filled with rancorous political debates. Like today, many of those debates were focused on personalities and motivated by power seekers. The consequence has been an incremental erosion of constitutional authority, particularly by the Judicial Branch, which has amended our Constitution by judicial diktat rather than by the legitimate method prescribed in Article V.
James Madison wrote, "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." However, the "gradual and silent" erosion has been punctuated with periodic landslides. Today, tyranny is hovering on the immediate horizon.
In the decades following our nation's founding, many of the great debates were centered on Liberty. The notions of containing the power of the central government and promoting individual freedom were fervently tested. But four major events in the years after 1850 altered the political debate and, tragically, increased the power of the central government far beyond its constitutional limits.
The first of those events was the War Between the States which cost 600,000 American lives and annulled the authority of our Constitution's mandate for Federalism. Unfortunately, today's "Republicans" tie their lineage to Abraham Lincoln, the man who engineered that frontal assault on states' rights. (Sorry, not buying this one at all. Slavery is not a right. Period.)
The second major insult to Liberty came during the Great Depression, when Franklin Roosevelt and his "useful idiots" used the fear generated by economic crisis to implement his "New Deal," an explosive expansion of central government power that came at enormous offense to the authority of our Constitution.
The third colossal affront to our Constitution occurred under another Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, who implemented his "Great Society" programs in response to fears about social and economic inequality.
The fourth and final nail in the coffin of American Liberty is being hammered in by Barack Hussein Obama and his Leftist cadres. They are determined to replace our republican government with European-style Democratic Socialism, and they have made significant strides toward that terrible goal.
The only way to re-establish the primacy of Rule of Law over rule of men and reinstate limits upon our government and its controllers is to restore the authority of our Constitution. Only then will we ensure that Liberty prevails over tyranny.
Does constitutional authority matter? Post your comments
That authority was, and remains, clearly defined by our Founders who, though they might have differed modestly on the question of constitutional interpretation, universally agreed with George Washington: "The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all."
Washington also wrote, "Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the supineness or venality of their constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to show, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other."
What did other Founders write about Rule of Law and the authority of our Constitution?
James Madison: "I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. ... If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions."
Thomas Jefferson: "Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. ... To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. ... The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. ... The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch. ... On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. ... [C]onfidence is every where the parent of despotism; free government is founded in jealousy and not in confidence; it is jealousy & not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power ... in questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution."
Alexander Hamilton: "[T]here is not a syllable in the [Constitution] which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution, or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every State. ... The Judiciary ... has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society, and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither force nor will. ... If it be asked, 'What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic?' The answer would be, an inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws -- the first growing out of the last. ... A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital principle, the sustaining energy of a free government. ... [T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes -- rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments."
John Adams: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. ... The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People. ... [T]hey may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. ... A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."
Article VI of our Constitution proclaims: "This Constitution ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land."
The definitive reflection on constitutional authority comes from Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, a Madison appointee, in his "Commentaries on the Constitution" (1833): "The constitution of the United States is to receive a reasonable interpretation of its language, and its powers, keeping in view the objects and purposes for which those powers were conferred. By a reasonable interpretation, we mean, that in case the words are susceptible of two different senses, the one strict, the other more enlarged, that should be adopted which is most consonant with the apparent objects and intent of the Constitution. ... Temporary delusions, prejudices, excitements, and objects have irresistible influence in mere questions of policy. And the policy of one age may ill suit the wishes or the policy of another. The constitution is not subject to such fluctuations. It is to have a fixed, uniform, permanent construction. It should be, so far at least as human infirmity will allow, not dependent upon the passions or parties of particular times, but the same yesterday, to-day, and forever."
The last best hope for the restoration of our Constitution's original intent is upon us. Accordingly, a revival of its prescribed limits on the central government rests on the shoulders of those wise enough to educate themselves to the principles of Essential Liberty and bold enough to make constitutional authority the centerpiece of any political debate.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a citizen asked Benjamin Franklin what form of government the Founders had created. He responded, "A republic, if you can keep it." The question for American Patriots today: "Can we keep it?"
Well, can we? Tell me what you think
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Publisher, The Patriot Post
WSJ: On Compromise
Reply #408 on:
September 07, 2011, 06:13:22 PM »
By PETER BERKOWITZ
With the opening of the fall political season and tonight's Republican candidate debate, expect influential conservative voices to clamor for fellow conservatives to set aside half-measures, eschew conciliation, and adhere to conservative principle in its pristine purity. But what does fidelity to conservatism's core convictions mean?
Superstar radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has, with characteristic bravado, championed a take-no-prisoners approach. In late July, as the debt-ceiling debate built to its climax, he understandably exhorted House Speaker John Boehner to stand strong and rightly praised the tea party for "putting country before party." But then Mr. Limbaugh went further. "Winners do not compromise," he declared on air. "Winners do not compromise with themselves. The winners who do compromise are winners who still don't believe in themselves as winners, who still think of themselves as losers."
Republican presidential candidates at the last debate.
.We saw the results of such thinking in November 2010, when Christine O'Donnell was defeated by Chris Coons in Delaware in the race for Vice President Joe Biden's vacated Senate seat. In Nevada Sharron Angle was defeated by Harry Reid, who was returned to Washington to reclaim his position as Senate majority leader. In both cases, the Republican senatorial candidate was a tea party favorite who lost a very winnable election.
The notion of conservative purity is a myth. The great mission of American conservatism—securing the conditions under which liberty flourishes—has always depended on the weaving together of imperfectly compatible principles and applying them to an evolving and elusive political landscape.
William F. Buckley Jr.'s 1955 Mission Statement announcing the launch of National Review welcomed traditionalists, libertarians and anticommunists. His enterprise provides a model of a big-tent conservatism supported by multiple and competing principles: limited government, free markets, traditional morality and strong national defense.
These principles may appear harmonious. That's because they all served the cause of preserving freedom against the leading threats of the day: massive expansion of government, intrusive regulation of the economy, a breakdown of established sources of authority and belief, and communist tyranny. But harmony was an achievement. Just ask those who made a priority of limiting government about the impact of funding and maintaining a powerful military. Or inquire of a traditionalist what measures are necessary to maintain the virtues amidst the constant churn and cultural cacophony generated by capitalism.
Our greatest conservative president, Ronald Reagan, prudently wove together a devotion to limiting government and protecting the moral bases of a free society. But the policies he pursued were not mechanically derived from his principles. They stemmed from complex considerations concerning the necessary, the desirable and the possible. His landmark pro-growth tax cuts of 1981 were followed later by some tax increases. On divisive social issues such as abortion and school prayer, he offered strong words but restrained actions. And in confronting the Soviet Union, he insisted on the unmitigated evil of communism while pursuing dramatic negotiations to lessen the threat of nuclear conflagration, thereby paving the way to victory in the Cold War.
The intellectual architects of the American political and economic order were also blenders and weavers. For example, John Locke, the great 17th-century theorist of individual rights and limited government, argued in "The Second Treatise of Government" that in the event a father dies and fails to provide for the care and education of his son, the state must make provision.
And in "The Wealth of Nations," Adam Smith, the father of free-market economics, maintained that the public should offer and require an education for almost all. While it would be grossly misleading to designate Locke and Smith as founders of the modern welfare state, it would be negligent to overlook their teaching that beyond securing individual rights, governments devoted to freedom had interests in the welfare of their citizens.
Today, we are urged by tea party activists, and with excellent reason, to look to the authors of "The Federalist," the authoritative expounders of the Constitution, to recover the principles of limited government. But it is instructive to recall that in their day the makers of the American Constitution were the enlargers and strengtheners of federal power.
Hamilton, Madison and Jay defended the new Constitution not only because of the many and varied limitations it imposed on the exercise of power. They also defended it because, in contrast to the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution incorporated in the national government the power to operate without the regular intervention of state governments; assigned it ultimate authority in matters requiring uniformity, including regulation of trade and naturalization; and made it supreme over the states, including in judicial matters.
On issue after issue, fidelity to the variety of conservative principles imposes not only the obligation to blend and balance but also to give due weight to settled expectations and longstanding practices. For instance, an appreciation of these crisscrossing obligations should impel conservatives to work both to improve the public schools we have and to increase competition and parental choice among an array of options.
While developing cost-cutting and market-based reforms for health care, conservatives should frankly acknowledge, as does Rep. Paul Ryan in his bold plan, the importance of maintaining a minimum social safety net. And in the Middle East and elsewhere, conservatism encourages a vigilant search for opportunities to promote liberty while counseling that our knowledge is limited, our resources scarce and our attention span poor.
Compromise can be, and often is, the path of least resistance, the province of the mealy-mouthed, weak-kneed, and lily-livered. Yet when circumstances warrant—and they often will—compromise will be the considered choice of the steely-eyed and stouthearted.
Clarity about principles is critical. It enables one to spot the betrayal of core convictions. But contrary to the partisans of purity, in politics winning and compromise are not antithetical.
Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #409 on:
September 07, 2011, 08:29:35 PM »
Great Post! That is exactly what we need...
The Way Forward: Compromise or Cave on Core Principles?
Reply #410 on:
September 07, 2011, 11:09:57 PM »
The Berlowitz piece and JDN reaction: Great Post! "[compromise] is exactly what we need..."
He starts with a takeoff from something Rush L. said about winners not compromising. What did he get, two lines out of a 20 year, 3 hour a day show? Berkowitz's must be the piece Rush was responded to as I tuned in. He says they always point back to the same 3 examples, Christine what's-her-name and Sharon Angle lost. And Goldwater in '64. That's it. That proves that principled conservative candidates never win and RINOs always do. Really? Christine and Sharon were the least qualified candidates running. How about Marco Rubio who won by a MILLION votes, Rand Paul and plenty of others - like a conservative businessman over liberal lion Russ Feingold in Wisconsin where Obama had just won by FOURTEEN POINTS over the senate's most moderate member, John McCain! Goldwater lost in '64 but Reagan won twice and won big, 40 states in 1980 and then 49 states in 1984! Ford, Dole, McCain? 0 for 3. Democrat-Lite. Not exactly a winning flavor. Who were the great moderates of history?
Reagan compromised plenty - as pointed out in the piece. So does Rand Paul now and Marco Rubio and Ron Johnson (R-WI). It is a complete straw argument IMO to say this is about compromise. Compromise is what they all do every day on every issue. The question at hand is about CAVING, or are we just choosing candidates who share none of our core principles in the first place?
CRA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, these are Alinsky type wedges that would never be the law of the land without the signing on of moderate RINOs. Let's see - these and a few others brought down the country if not the world economy. Government owning mortgages, auto manufacturers, investing in energy - the inefficient types, mandating healthcare and bailing out insurance companies? Bailing out Central banks - of foreign countries? Drilling for oil in Brazil while banning it at home? The feds choose your light bulbs, food in the schools, hell, everything in the schools. Now we have federal spending at nearly 4 trillion with no end in sight, on revenues stuck at 2 1/2, and 72 distinct federal means tested welfare programs, none authorized in the constitution that I can find. Maybe unenumerated powers?? That is compromise? On what core conservative principles?? There are none left that I recognize!
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #411 on:
September 08, 2011, 08:46:20 AM »
What remains a baffflement to me is how the reigning story on the recent game of chicken over raising the debt ceiling is to blame the Tea Party's takeover of the Reps and their collective failure to compromise when there were only $21B in cuts this year and $40-something billion in cuts next year-- not to mention that apparently Boener was willing to sign on for $800B in "revenues enhancements".
It is profoundly maddening that the Reps let this sort of thing happen again and again and again.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #412 on:
September 08, 2011, 10:31:47 AM »
S&P lowered its rating after the deal, not during the stalemate. That blame argument rings hollow for anyone paying attention. The
If that false blame argument slips into the speech, like he did in SOTU at the Supreme Court with false characterization of the Citizens United decision, those this time on the receiving end of it should quietly and politely stand up and walk out. Freedom of speech does not include any kind of compulsion to listen, and that shows more openmindedness than not showing up in the first place which is what I would probably do in their situation.
Moving the decimal point on the cuts in the last deal to the new unit trillions, that draconian 'cut' was $0.02 trillion and it lasted one month until tonight where the President will likely propose another half trillion in new spending. Yes the tea party picked the wrong fight on debt ceiling and lost it. Don't minimize however that the tea party succeeded in drawing enormous attention to the problem of spending, deficit and debt even in the middle of summer when conventional wisdom says that no one is paying attention.
They lost because there was no republican consensus on making 40% cuts in spending in a recession nor any ability to win that argument with the senate and executive even if there was. The debt ceiling was going to go up right from the beginning and the rest was about drawing attention to the problem.
Those making the blame tea party case OTOH are not exactly winning. They got their debt limit raised and their license to keep on spending at quite a cost. Obama's approval on his economic policies is down to just immediate family and a couple of journalists and it is still falling. If spending does increase dramatically now, and I don't see how, he would then face another debt ceiling fight just before the election.
If the President wants $400 billion more here or there for new domestic initiatives, first tell us which failed domestic initiatives you will end to free up the funds.
Next step if there is no stomach for real cuts is to freeze spending (END ALL BASELINES) and get focused on growth.
The Way Forward for the American Creed - Marco Rubio on the Jobs Plan
Reply #413 on:
September 15, 2011, 09:46:55 AM »
This is an excellent, short interview, it covers the Obama plan, what is okay in it, that overall it isn't a serious attempt to grow jobs, what needs to be done, what works, the amazing potential for growth we have right now if we would just do a few things.
It would save me a lot of time and trouble writing my views on the issues if I could just post a quick video of Marco Rubio answering a few basic questions each morning.
Just 2 1/2 minutes, please watch.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed - Marco Rubio on the Jobs Plan
Reply #414 on:
September 15, 2011, 09:54:23 AM »
Quote from: DougMacG on September 15, 2011, 09:46:55 AM
This is an excellent, short interview, it covers the Obama plan, what is okay in it, that overall it isn't a serious attempt to grow jobs, what needs to be done, what works, the amazing potential for growth we have right now if we would just do a few things.
It would save me a lot of time and trouble writing my views on the issues if I could just post a quick video of Marco Rubio answering a few basic questions each morning.
Just 2 1/2 minutes, please watch.
Rubio has my vote when he runs for president.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #415 on:
September 15, 2011, 10:19:45 AM »
GM: "Rubio has my vote when he runs for president."
Yes. I will waive my two-term Governor rule whenever he makes the jump - Rubio has an upside risk of greatness well worth taking. That video is without notes, presumably without knowing the questions. He is succinct, articulate and right on the money with each answer. He connects the immediate question, a 'jobs' bill with what we should do now and a clear vision forward. He never loses sight of what makes America great and what is the proper role of government.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #416 on:
September 15, 2011, 01:51:58 PM »
IMHO he would make a great VP candidate right now.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #417 on:
September 15, 2011, 01:54:02 PM »
"IMHO he would make a great VP candidate right now."
I like that idea. I think Bobby Jindal would be a great VP pick as well.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #418 on:
October 07, 2011, 11:59:34 AM »
Just a quick yip to say that IMHO we are missing an opportunity with the response of our side to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Instead of focusing on the anti-free market element, I would focus on the correct anger at bailouts of some people, bank, and businesses that have acted very badly and communicate that what we see here is the natural result of the progressive/liberal fascist ideology.
It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #419 on:
October 07, 2011, 12:50:24 PM »
The original story mentioned is posted in 'Tax Policy'. I offer this excerpt of a WSJ letter to the editor in partial answer to Marc's point about answering anger about bailouts:
"Regarding Stephen Moore's "Flat Is the New Fair" (op-ed, Sept. 30): The flat tax should have been implemented years ago. It would have ... [/b]denied Congress the means to reward favored groups with special benefits[/b]..."
Since Obama claims there is no real progressivity in taxes now, what on earth would we lose by agreeing to tax all income of all people evenly, instead of based on who do you know and how big is your group.
That simple reform wouldsolve half of the problem and isolate the rest to be tackled over on the spending side of the ledger.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #420 on:
October 07, 2011, 02:35:16 PM »
"Instead of focusing on the anti-free market element, I would focus on the correct anger at bailouts of some people, bank, and businesses that have acted very badly and communicate that what we see here is the natural result of the progressive/liberal fascist ideology."
I agree. It is not simple class warfare, envy, or incorrect to do something about the inherent reality and truth that some of those fabulously wealthy peolpe have gotten away with things none of the rest of us could or should get away with.
I don't think that any Republican who points this out and is willing to at least give credence about a concept that works in practice as well as in theory to a "level playing field" is going against any core principle of hard work, risk taking, reward those who do well, personal responsibility or the rest.
One can be populist in this regard and conservative. One of the tenets of our society, culture, political makeup is we all have an "equal chance". Of course that is not really true but at least we should all have to play by the same rules. Those at the top can clearly get around rules that the rest of us cannot.
This theme would in my view capture some of the independent voters who are on the fence not sure which side is better.
Those on the left want redistribution and point out that the wealthy are always keeping everyone else down and ripping us off.
Those on the right don't support this view and talk only about equal opportunity and personal responsibility.
I agree in theory with the right's view but also realize that is not recognizing that a lot of powerful people also are unethical.
It seems to me most in the US want to be responsible and want not be envious of wealth, success and achievement. Yet many also realize some are ripping the rest of us off and they cannot and should not simply look the other way.
I liked Newt's comment about how Republicans should stop social engineering as well as those on the left.
I agree if I understand what he meant. But he was never given the chance to explain. The conservatives simply jumped all over him. They ignore this at their own peril (by which I mean lost votes).
"The flat tax should have been implemented years ago." No question. It seems for the first time thanks to Herman Cain we have a spokeperson who is getting press over the idea of a flat tax. Though I prefer a little higher income tax and no federal sales tax as in his 9 9 9 idea.
Thank God for Cain! Now if he can brush up on foreign policy....
We need a cure for colon cancer just in case... and soon.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #421 on:
October 07, 2011, 07:37:11 PM »
"I prefer a little higher income tax and no federal sales tax as in his 9 9 9 idea."
This is my view as well and both need to be in the teens. He can go back to his same experts for the revenue neutral number on that and offer the country through their representatives a choice that includes a President Cain with each.
Someone needs to find the regulatory equivalent of the Laffer Curve
Reply #422 on:
October 17, 2011, 10:05:04 AM »
Regulations today are worse than taxes, worse than spending and maybe even worse than what we are doing to our currency.
An excerpt from Steven Hayward yesterday (biased blogger) agreeing with Peggy Noonan on 'This is no time for moderation', praising Cain and goes on into regulations:
"I depart from Peggy in one respect. While our financial structures are certainly still shaky, a much larger problem is the regulatory structure that has clotted the arteries of the economy by making it cumbersome and difficult to get anything started. Consider the Keystone XL pipeline, which would generate over 20,000 constructions jobs, and lot of other permanent jobs after it is finished. It is going to be approved. Eventually. Is the long hearing and litigation process really contributing to reducing the environmental impact the project is going to have? Surely not. And to the extent the long review process does lead to mitigations of harms, are there any changes that couldn’t have been figured out in the first 90 days of the whole story? A country serious about job creation wouldn’t tolerate this kind of process. I’m convinced the purpose of the whole regulatory process today is to extort things from the private sector, and/or to simply wear out the opposition to new things before the government finally says “yes.” We can’t afford this frivolousness any more.
As a thought experiment, think back to all the New Deal era construction projects, like the Columbia and Colorado River dams, the Empire State Building, and the Oakland Bay and Golden Gate bridges. None of them could be built as quickly today, if at all. The hearing/litigation process would have delayed them for years, and run the cost way up. The replacement Oakland Bay Bridge, called for after its collapse in the 1989 earthquake, is just now approaching completion, 22 years (and three recessions) later. Notice how long it took to let everyone have their say on replacing the World Trade Center at Ground Zero. See the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Project No Project website for much more on this point.
So just as Reagan embraced supply-side economics as a radical move to change the economy in 1980, the big opening for someone today is to find the regulatory equivalent of the Laffer Curve. Someone needs to figure out a way to rip out the regulatory structure by the roots, and replace it with something that delivers genuine protection for health, safety, and the environment while allows things to get built and businesses to get started quickly."
WSJ: On Bill Buckley
Reply #423 on:
November 07, 2011, 07:24:09 PM »
By NEAL B. FREEMAN
Editor's note: We replace our regular Weekend Interview feature this week with an essay adapted from remarks by Neal Freeman, delivered yesterday on the 60th anniversary of the publication of William F. Buckley Jr.'s "God and Man at Yale." Mr. Freeman is chairman of the Blackwell Corporation, served on the board of National Review magazine for 38 years, and is a director of the William F. Buckley Program at Yale, which brings speakers to campus and sponsors for-credit courses.
New Haven, Conn.
It was my good fortune to be the guy standing next to Bill Buckley when he became Bill Buckley. When I went to work for him in 1963, he was a fiery polemicist in the world of the little magazine. Less than three years later—after the Buckley newspaper column had spread to every city across the country, after the Buckley for Mayor campaign in New York City, and after the launch of the "Firing Line" television program—he had become a large and influential presence on the national stage.
What I remember most vividly from those transformative years are three things. The first is his extraordinary personal courage.
When Bill Buckley set out to change the world, the ideological forces arrayed against him permeated the media, the academy, the political establishment and popular culture. As just one measure of the correlation of forces, consider the situation on the Yale campus.
As my own class approached graduation—that glorious June day when our commencement speaker, John F. Kennedy, got off the lambent line, "I now have the best of both worlds, a Harvard education and a Yale degree"—we conservatives sought to make a show of support for our emerging champion, Barry Goldwater. From a class of 1,000 young men, we managed to secure the support of five classmates. In addition to myself, one of our number is now an academic in California, one is a lawyer in New York, one is deceased and one is a lobbyist for the legalization of marijuana. Barry would have been proud of at least one of us.
Not included in our number, I should note, was our hard-drinking classmate, Richard B. Cheney. As God is my witness, Dick Cheney was a 160-pound scatback on the football team. Also not included was a quiet economics major named Arthur Laffer.
CloseWilliam F. Buckley Jr. in 1951 with his book that shocked the academic establishment.
.As scrawny as were our ranks in the undergraduate college, they dwarfed our support among the Yale faculty. Within the approximately 700-strong faculty, we enjoyed the support of two professors. One was a feisty lecturer in the law school, Robert Bork. The other was an Asian scholar named David Rowe. The odds on the Yale campus were, in rough approximation, the same odds that Bill Buckley faced across the broader culture—and Bill Buckley was undaunted by them. (My apologies. Bill would have found a way to include the word "synecdoche" somewhere in that last sentence.)
In the matter of physical courage, those of you who sailed through rough seas with him, or darted through New York City traffic on the back of his motor scooter, will know something of his fearlessness. What I remember is his demeanor during the mayoralty campaign. The public square could be a dangerous place during the 1960s. Political figures who stirred passions beyond the edge of consensus tended to attract not just controversy but gunfire.
As a political candidate, Bill Buckley stirred those same passions, but we were blessed with a first-rate security detail. It was called the NYPD. That year in New York, it seemed that every cop—white, black and Hispanic—was for Buckley for mayor. It was the first known sighting of what psephologists would later identify as the Reagan Democrat.
At the first threat-assessment meeting, Bill listened patiently to the cops' presentation and then thanked them politely. On the way out, he issued two directives. The first was that he would not be attending any subsequent security briefings. Reports that he could be shot the next morning did not concentrate his mind. They bored him. And second, he instructed me to make sure that threat reports never reached his wife, Patsy. The campaign was in its early weeks and Bill was still hopeful of winning her support.
The second Buckley trait that stands tall in my recollection is excellence. Bill resolved early that every speech he gave, every column he wrote, every edition of the magazine he edited must not be just competitive with, but superior to, the products of his liberal counterparts.
It was a humbling experience to be edited by Bill Buckley. I still have the original of the first editorial I wrote for National Review. We used Royal typewriters in those days to pound out copy on yellow foolscap: Here and there, one of my black words peeks through a blaze of red ballpoint ink. It was his conceit that if you couldn't write, you couldn't think; and that if you couldn't think, you were unlikely to prosper in his friendship.
The third trait is joy. The sound that rings in memory is that of Bill's laughter. Bill with a colleague in the office. Bill on the phone with a delicious story. Bill on the boat in the company of his many best friends. All Buckley ventures, be they commercial, political or simply for the good of the order, were aimed at high purpose but pursued in high spirit. When I left Bill's employ to start climbing the corporate ladder in New York, I took with me, for as long as I could, the privilege of editing his thrice-weekly column. An evening phone call from my star columnist would go something like this:
WFB: Mon vieux, I will be filing three columns within the hour. Do you know what that means?
Me: A particularly long and difficult evening for your editor?
WFB: Of course not. The copy will be pristine as always. It means that we can be at the boat by eight in the morning.
Me (cautiously, remembering a previous occasion when I had agreed to meet him at the boat only to learn later that it was docked in Miami): Where is the boat?
Me: Where is the boat going?
WFB: Nova Scotia. You'll love it this time of year.
Me: Bill, I'm running a commercial organization. I can't just leave a note for my secretary saying that I've sailed for Nova Scotia.
WFB: Why not? Secretaries at National Review handle that sort of thing all the time.
And so they did. The joy that Bill Buckley brought to any room lingered long after his departure. Years after the event, I obtained excerpts of Bill's interview with the FBI on the occasion of my appointment to a federal position. At the end of such field investigations, the agent typically asks an omnibus, fanny-covering question: Would I, candidate Freeman, be likely to embarrass the administration? Replied witness Buckley, under oath: "I should think that the reverse is much more likely."
How then would Bill Buckley have addressed today's question: "Buckley's Legacy: How Would the Patron Saint Turbo-Charge Conservatism?" He would have begun, of course, with the obligatory quibble.
"Ontologically speaking," he might have mused, "how could conservatism ever really be said to be turbo-charged, as you so infelicitously put it?" After rejiggering the question to his satisfaction, he would have marched through the following agenda.
First, he would have summoned the Republican stalwarts for catechismic instruction. Mitt Romney, invited to dinner at 73rd Street, would have been given a pass on gun control, abortion, immigration and universal health care. Bill believed that every human being is endowed by his Creator with the unalienable right to flip-flop, though Bill might have regretted, in Mr. Romney's case, that it had been exercised so vigorously.
Instead, Bill would have bored in on what he perceived to be a lacuna: namely, the widespread presumption that Mr. Romney can fix our broken economy with an economic plan that is manifestly inadequate to the challenge. Mr. Romney would have squirmed through the evening. Bill would have barely survived it. He hated to drink alone.
Rick Perry's visit would have triggered the full WFB charm offensive. Tales of the original WFB and his wildcatting days in Mexico would have spiced the evening. Mr. Perry would have responded with a Dan Rather-sized Texasism, an impenetrable aphorism involving parched land and poisonous snakes. Bill would have been befuddled no more than momentarily—and segued quickly into a mini-lecture on why contemporary international affairs call for a somewhat less, uhhhh, parochial foreign policy than the governor has heretofore advanced.
When Sarah Palin came to lunch, Bill would have been on his best behavior. Patsy might even have persuaded him not to eat the salad with his fingers. After an hour and a half, Bill would have concluded, under the unbending terms of the Buckley Rule—which, as you will recall, holds that conservatives should support for election the rightward-most viable candidate—that Mrs. Palin was sufficiently rightward but insufficiently viable. As they parted that afternoon, Bill would have accepted an invitation to go spear-hunting for large mammals deep inside the Arctic Circle, a commitment that neither Sarah nor Patsy would ever let him forget.
The session with Newt Gingrich would have caused Bill to remark on the Speaker's X-ray insight, his barbed wit, his broad range of reference and allusion. It might also have caused Bill to remember an observation by the late Herman Kahn: "Some people learn through the eye by reading, others through the ear by listening. I learn through the mouth by talking." Bill would have counseled the Speaker to add to his senior staff an editor with plenipotentiary powers.
The summit meeting with Herman Cain would have excited high anticipation. Bill would have relished the prospect of a Cain-Buckley alliance for its sheer theatricality. During their time together, Bill would have spent his time much as he had with Mrs. Palin, in a quiet inventory of the intellectual warehouse. What does Mr. Cain know? What has he read? Is he . . . up to it?
I should also note—as long as we're channeling dead conservatives—that, had Bill ultimately endorsed Mitt Romney, National Review publisher William Rusher would have dashed back to the office to dictate his letter of resignation.
Beyond the political arena, Bill would have had advice for two other constituencies critical to his conservative enterprise. To the hardy band of right-leaning scholars beavering away in the American academy, he would have said: "Be brave, but until you have secured tenure, be no more brave than conscience demands. Concentrate your careerist energies on the edge of evolving scholarship, but celebrate loudly and redundantly the core values of the Western canon."
To the stewards of his movement's public diplomacy—the editors and publishers, writers and producers, the bloggers and talking heads—Bill would say: "Keep handy the metrics of fusionism and appreciate the vital contribution to our coalition made by each major strain of conservatism. Avoid sectarianism. Adhere strictly to principle, but polish to a high shine the fresh formulations of our timeless proposition. Labor without pause to coin language that will fire the imagination and ignite commitment. And along the way, please, have a little fun. Try to be a little less, uhhhh, constipated."
Let me close by saying why I have chosen to support the Buckley program and to serve on its board alongside Jim Buckley, my boss in several implausible political ventures, and Priscilla Buckley, my savior-editor when I was a columnist for National Review. There are two reasons. The first is to keep alive a longstanding but fragile tradition here at Yale. Decade after decade, Yale has done almost nothing to encourage but just enough to permit a culture of conservative dissent. I like to think of Yale's posture as a grudging but honorable acquiescence to the true spirit of academic freedom. I became a conservative while a student at Yale. Some of you in this room did as well. It's possible. Not likely, but possible.
The second reason to support this program is that Bill would have loved it. Bill Buckley had the most complicated relationship with Yale of any student since Nathan Hale. Starting off as a golden-boy student, very much in the line of Potter Stewart, Sargent Shriver, George H. W. Bush and such, Bill quickly became, with the publication of "God and Man," Yale's designated apostate. Yale's memories of the book, as Bill once described them, were "long and censorious." The relationship between the precocious graduate and the historic university was marked for many years by simmering tension interrupted occasionally by awkward confrontation.
The ice eventually began to melt and ultimately Yale invited Bill to join the faculty. His course in English composition, which debuted in the fall of 1997, became popular with both the students and their instructor.
The process of reconciliation was completed in the spring of 2000 when Yale awarded Bill an honorary doctorate. How pleased was Bill? When word began to spread of the award, I called to congratulate him. He picked up the phone saying, "Dr. Buckley here. Any metaphysical problems I can help you with today?"
WSJ has been reading us again
Reply #424 on:
November 07, 2011, 10:00:20 PM »
second post of day:
The Occupy Wall Street protesters aren't good at articulating what they want, but one of their demands is "end corporate welfare." Well, welcome aboard. Some of us have been fighting crony capitalism for decades, and it's good to have new allies if liberals have awakened to the dangers of the corporate welfare state.
Corporate welfare is the offer of special favors—cash grants, loans, guarantees, bailouts and special tax breaks—to specific industries or firms. The government doesn't track the overall cost of these programs, but in 2008 the Cato Institute made an attempt and came up with $92 billion for fiscal 2006, which is more than the U.S. government spends on homeland security.
That annual cost may have doubled to $200 billion in this new era of industry bailouts and subsidies. According to the House Budget Committee, the 2009 stimulus bill alone contained more than $80 billion in "clean energy" subsidies, and tens of billions more went for the auto bailout and cash for clunkers, as well as aid for the mortgage industry through programs to refinance or buy up toxic loans.
This industrial policy model of government as a financial partner with business can sound appealing, but the government's record in picking winners and losers has been dreadful. Some of the most expensive flops include the Supersonic Transport plane of the mid-1970s, Jimmy Carter's $2 billion Synthetic Fuels Corporation (the precursor to clean energy), Amtrak, which hasn't turned a profit in four decades, and the most expensive public-private partnership debacle of all time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have lost $142 billion of taxpayer money. A few other illustrative industry handouts:
•The ethanol subsidy, benefitting mostly corn farmers and corporate fuel blenders in the Midwest, costs about $6 billion a year through an array of tax subsidies, tariffs and mandates while making fuel and food more expensive.
• The Federal Communications Commission recently approved spending up to $4.5 billion a year on a Universal Service Fund to bring broadband development to rural America. Broadband service is already rapidly expanding (with some $65 billion in private capital) absent the subsidies, but Internet providers and telecom firms pressed for the program. This is in addition to a $5 billion Broadband Technology Opportunities Program run by the Commerce Department.
• The Department of Agriculture's Market Access Program helps advertise and promote the products of agribusinesses like the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and Sunkist, the orange growers consortium that has received more than $800 million in the life of the program.
• Crop price supports for wheat, corn, rice, sugar and soybean farmers are supposed to help struggling family farms, but at least half the subsidies go to large and wealthy farmers and corporations. Congress can't seem to wean the farm belt off these payments even though commodity prices and farm incomes are near an all-time high. Restricting those funds to farmers with incomes below $250,000 would save $30 billion over the next decade.
• Some $8 billion has gone via Mr. Obama's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program to the likes of Nissan, Ford and Tesla Motors for more fuel-efficient cars. Another $2.4 billion has been routed to manufacturers trying to build battery-operated electric cars. As with the loan guarantees to Solyndra, if these companies succeed, the private investors get rich. If they fail, taxpayers lose.
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts's Subsidyscope data base, direct expenditures in the energy industry more than quadrupled in Mr. Obama's first year in office to $18 billion from less than $4 billion in 2008.
That doesn't include loan guarantees. The real scandal of Solyndra, the solar company that recently went bust, isn't that the taxpayers lost more than $500 million on a lousy bet by the Energy Department, but that the feds keep making these deals even when their rate of return is likely to be zero or negative. The Solyndra loan constituted less than 2% of the $40 billion in outstanding loan guarantees to dozens of energy companies, according to the House Budget Committee.
Republicans, for their part, favor handouts to the nuclear industry. Over the years the feds have provided billions of dollars in loan guarantees and cut-rate insurance to nuclear plants, though even nuclear-utility executives say new plants may not make economic sense in a world of cheap and abundant natural gas. Last month House Speaker John Boehner backed a $2 billion Energy Department loan guarantee sought by USEC Inc. for a uranium-enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio.
• The Export-Import Bank has a portfolio of $14.5 billion of outstanding loan guarantees to assist major U.S. exporters. More than 90% of the funds went to 10 corporations, including Boeing ($6.4 billion), General Electric ($1.043 billion) and Caterpillar ($424 million).
Defenders claim government subsidies for business are justified because American firms must compete with subsidized firms from China and Europe. But as Milton Friedman was famous for advising: Never fight a subsidy with a subsidy. This industrial policy was also the rage in the 1970s and 1980s when Japan's keiretsu and Ministry of International Trade and Industry were going to dominate the world, but we know how that has worked for Tokyo.
For those who say this is good for American competitiveness, consider that ending all corporate welfare programs would finance a substantial cut in the 35% corporate income-tax rate that makes U.S. business less competitive but does a poor job of raising revenue because of these loopholes. A big rate cut would generate far more jobs and wealth than passing out checks to businesses one at a time.
As important as this economic damage is the corrosive effect that corporate welfare has on public trust in government. Americans understand that powerful government invariably favors the powerful, who have the means and access to massage Congress and the bureaucracy that average citizens do not. This really is aid to the 1% paid by the other 99%.
Yet the parade of subsidies gets longer each year, perhaps, as the old joke goes, because in Washington Republicans love corporations and Democrats love welfare. As House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan puts it: "How can we save billions of dollars from unjustified subsidy and entitlement programs, if we can't get corporate America off the dole?"
With American federal debt headed toward the worst European levels, this is an issue that should unite the tea party, the Occupy Wall Street protesters and Congressional deficit-cutters.
The Way Forward: To Increase Jobs, Increase Economic Freedom
Reply #425 on:
November 16, 2011, 12:38:38 AM »
To Increase Jobs, Increase Economic Freedom
Business is not a zero-sum game struggling over a fixed pie. Instead it grows and makes the total pie larger, creating value for all of its major stakeholders, including employees and communities.
By JOHN MACKEY
Is the United States exceptional? Of course we are! Two hundred years ago we were one of the poorest countries in the world. We accounted for less than 1% of the world's total GDP. Today our GDP is 23% of the world's total and more than twice as large as the No. 2 country's, China.
America became the wealthiest country because for most of our history we have followed the basic principles of economic freedom: property rights, freedom to trade internationally, minimal governmental regulation of business, sound money, relatively low taxes, the rule of law, entrepreneurship, freedom to fail, and voluntary exchange.
The success of economic freedom in increasing human prosperity, extending our life spans and improving the quality of our lives in countless ways is the most extraordinary global story of the past 200 years. Gross domestic product per capita has increased by a factor of 1,000% across the world and almost 2,000% in the U.S. during these last two centuries. In 1800, 85% of everyone alive lived on less than $1 per day (in 2000 dollars). Today only 17% do. If current long-term trend lines of economic growth continue, we will see abject poverty almost completely eradicated in the 21st century. Business is not a zero-sum game struggling over a fixed pie. Instead it grows and makes the total pie larger, creating value for all of its major stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, investors and communities.
So why is our economy barely growing and unemployment stuck at over 9%? I believe the answer is very simple: Economic freedom is declining in the U.S. In 2000, the U.S. was ranked third in the world behind only Hong Kong and Singapore in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by this newspaper and the Heritage Foundation. In 2011, we fell to ninth behind such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland.
The reforms we need to make are extensive. I want to make a few suggestions that, as an independent, I hope will stimulate thinking and constructive discussion among concerned Americans no matter what their politics are.
Most importantly, we need to radically cut the size and cost of government. One hundred years ago the total cost of government at all levels in the U.S.—local, state and federal—was only 8% of our GDP. In 2010, it was 40%. Government is gobbling up trillions of dollars from our economy to feed itself through high taxes and unprecedented deficit spending—money that could instead be used by individuals to improve their lives and by entrepreneurs to create jobs. Government debt is growing at such a rapid rate that the Congressional Budget Office projects that in the next 70 years public money spent on interest annually will grow to almost 41.4% of GDP ($27.2 trillion) from 1.4% of GDP ($204 billion) in 2010. Today interest on our debt represents about a third of the cost of Social Security; in only 20 years it is estimated that it will exceed the cost of that program.
Only if we focus on cutting costs in the four most expensive government programs—Defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which together with interest account for about two-thirds of the overall budget—can we make a significant positive impact.
Our defense budget now accounts for 43% of all military spending in the entire world—more than the next 14 largest defense budgets combined. It is time for us to scale back our military commitments and reduce our spending to something more in line with our percentage of the world GDP, or 23%. Doing this would save more than $300 billion every year.
Social Security and Medicare need serious reforms to be sustainable over the long term. The demographic crisis for these entitlement programs has now arrived as 10,000 baby boomers are projected to retire every day for the next 19 years. Retirement ages need to be steadily raised to reflect our increased longevity. These programs should also be means-tested. Countries such as Chile and Singapore successfully privatized their retirement programs, making them sustainable. We should move in a similar direction by giving everyone the option to voluntarily opt out of the governmental system into private alternatives, phasing this in over time to help keep the current system solvent.
In addition, tax reform is essential to jobs and prosperity. Most tax deductions and loopholes should be eliminated, combined with significant tax rate reductions. A top tax rate of 15% to 20% with no deductions would be fairer, greatly stimulate economic growth and job creation, and would reduce deficits by increasing total taxes paid to the federal government.
Why would taxes collected go up if rates go down? Two reasons—first, tax shelters such as the mortgage interest deduction used primarily by more affluent taxpayers would be eliminated; and secondly, the taxable base would increase considerably as entrepreneurs create new businesses and new jobs, and as people earn more money. Many Eastern European countries implemented low flat tax rates in the past decade, including Russia in 2001 (13%) and Ukraine in 2004 (15%), and experienced strong economic growth and increased tax revenues.
Corporate taxes also need to be reformed. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S.'s combined state and federal corporate tax rate of 39.2% became the highest in the world after Japan cut its rates this April. A reduction to 26% would equal the average corporate tax rate in the 15 largest industrialized countries. That would help our companies to use their capital more productively to grow and create jobs in the U.S
Government regulations definitely need to be reformed. According to the Small Business Administration, total regulatory costs amount to about $1.75 trillion annually, nearly twice as much as all individual income taxes collected last year. While some regulations create important safeguards for public health and the environment, far too many simply protect existing business interests and discourage entrepreneurship. Specifically, many government regulations in education, health care and energy prevent entrepreneurship and innovation from revolutionizing and re-energizing these very important parts of our economy.
A simple reform that would make a monumental difference would be to require all federal regulations to have a sunset provision. All regulations should automatically expire after 10 years unless a mandatory cost-benefit analysis has been completed that proves the regulations have created significantly more societal benefit than harm. Currently thousands of new regulations are added each year and virtually none ever disappear.
According to a recent poll, more than two-thirds of Americans now believe that America is in "decline." While we are certainly going through difficult times our decline is not inevitable—it can and must be reversed. The U.S. is still an extraordinary country by almost any measure. If we once again embrace the principles of individual and economic freedom that made us both prosperous and exceptional, we can help lead the world towards a better future for all.
Mr. Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of the Job Creators Alliance, a nonprofit devoted to preserving free enterprise.
Alexander: Liberty vs. the Fatal Cycle of Democracy
Reply #426 on:
December 15, 2011, 12:02:45 PM »
Alexander's Essay – December 15, 2011
Liberty v the Fatal Cycle of Democracy
The Path from Freedom to Bondage
"Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them." --Thomas Jefferson
December 15th marks the anniversary of the 1791 ratification of the Bill of Rights, the common name for the first 10 amendments to our Constitution. The purpose of the Bill was, and remains, to assert the enumeration of limitations on the national government in order to protect our natural rights to Liberty and property as "endowed by our Creator."
There was much debate among our Founders about the need to enumerate rights that are inherently endowed, especially as amendments rather than in the corpus of our Constitution. Alexander Hamilton argued this point in Federalist No. 84: "I ... affirm that bills of rights ... are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. ... For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?"
But a majority of our Founders, led by James Madison and George Mason, prevailed, and the state legislatures concurred with the addition of enumerated limitations on the central government, as outlined by the Bill of Rights Preamble: "The Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added..."
Thus, it is a fitting day to pause and take account of the principles of Essential Liberty embodied in our Constitution, the sustenance for which generations of Patriots have expended much treasure, blood and life.
As a vigilant student of American history, I can't state too emphatically that we are at a tipping point between Liberty and tyranny. I also argue that this juncture is like no other since the Tenth Amendment challenge that was waged and lost in the War Between the States.
For those who choose to read such words as hyperbole, Samuel Adams said it best: "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands, which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
But it is the inherent nature of genuine Patriots to stand ever ready to defend Liberty, convicted that, in the words of George Washington, "Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind."
It is in that spirit that I offer this observation about this precarious position we now inhabit between freedom and bondage.
To understand the state of our Republic, one must consider it in the context of history to avoid repetition. As 20th-century philosopher George Santayana concluded in his treatise, "The Life of Reason": "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
In 1764, as historian Edward Gibbon "sat musing amidst the ruins" of Rome, he was inspired to write about the failure of republics. The original text of his seminal work, "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," was published in 1776, as our Patriot ancestors were declaring our natural right to Liberty. Gibbon outlined in detail how opulence and entitlement led to the incremental loss of civic virtue.
The 18th/19th century Scotsman Alexander Fraser Tytler, a lawyer and professor of history, summarized this link as follows: "[Patriotism], like all other affections and passions, it operates with the greatest force where it meets with the greatest difficulties ... but in a state of ease and safety, as if wanting its appropriate nourishment, it languishes and decays. ... It is a law of nature to which no experience has ever furnished an exception, that the rising grandeur and opulence of a nation must be balanced by the decline of its heroic virtues."
Tytler's assertion about the relationship between opulence and decadence reflected his astute understanding of human nature.
This contiguous rise and decline has been characterized as a fatal "Cycle of Democracy" (often misattributed to Tytler as its source). The cycle follows this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to Liberty (Rule of Law); From Liberty to abundance; From abundance to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage (rule of men).
So, at what stage of this rise and decline do we now find ourselves? In his recent book, "After America," Mark Steyn gives us a clue.
With their average 8th grade education, the Greatest Generation built the strongest and most innovative economy in history. However, "In the space of one generation," writes Steyn, "a nation of savers became the world's largest debtors, and a nation of makers and doers became a cheap service economy." Indeed, our country now hosts the most over-educated and under-productive generation in history, and has institutionalized a social subculture demanding government subsidies to compensate for their lack of initiative.
"Big government makes small citizens," Steyn concludes. "A great power can survive a lot of things, but not a mediocrity of spirit. A wealthy nation living on the accumulated cultural capital of a glorious past can dodge its rendezvous with fate, but only for so long."
It is my observation that since WWII, we have transitioned from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy and from apathy to dependence. The rise of populist Socialism spawned by Barack Hussein Obama and his Leftist cadres, has resulted in a surge of dependence upon the state.
The manifestation of this dependence spilled onto the streets this year in the form of the "Occupy Movement."
In fact, Time Magazine, that erstwhile advocate of statism, just named its 2011 Person of the Year, "The Protester." Its cover story category, "Prelude to the Revolutions," lists in order of significance, first Tunisians protesting dictatorial tyranny, second Egyptians protesting dictatorial tyranny, and third, "Occupy Wall Street and its millions of supporters." (To be fair, a few paragraphs later Time did richly understate, "The stakes are very different in different places. In North America and most of Europe, there are no dictators, and dissidents don't get tortured.")
As for the gap between dependence and bondage, philosopher and author of "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand, wrote, "The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time."
The most pressing question now is this: Are we irrevocably locked into the Cycle of Democracy where totalitarian rule of men is inevitable, or is there still time to restore republican Rule of Law?
The answer, I believe, is no and yes, respectively. But time is short.
The prospect for restoring Liberty as enshrined in our Constitution continues to improve as the number of Americans joining the debate over the proper role of government authorized by our Constitution grows strong. There is a resurgence of Patriotism underway, and together we can sustain the sunrise on Liberty.
We can and must circumvent the Cycle of Democracy to avoid the terminus of Democratic Socialism which is bondage. Together, we can maintain the momentum of our mission and charge. Thank you Patriots for locking and loading on the frontlines of Liberty.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Libertas aut Mortis!
Publisher, The Patriot Post
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed: Mitch Daniels Response
Reply #427 on:
January 25, 2012, 09:43:27 AM »
John Hinderacker describes Gov. Daniels as Tim Pawlenty without all the charisma, but he looked good on radio last night and these are good points IMO:
"As Republicans our first concern is for those waiting tonight to begin or resume the climb up life’s ladder. We do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of haves and have nots; we must always be a nation of haves and soon to haves. …
The extremism that stifles the development of homegrown energy, or cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands, or jacks up consumer utility bills for no improvement in either human health or world temperature, is a pro-poverty policy. It must be replaced by a passionate pro-growth approach that breaks all ties and calls all close ones in favor of private sector jobs that restore opportunity for all and generate the public revenues to pay our bills.
That means a dramatically simpler tax system of fewer loopholes and lower rates. A pause in the mindless piling on of expensive new regulations that devour dollars that otherwise could be used to hire somebody. It means maximizing on the new domestic energy technologies that are the best break our economy has gotten in years. …
It’s not fair and it’s not true for the President to attack Republicans in Congress as obstacles on these questions. They and they alone have passed bills to reduce borrowing, reform entitlements, and encourage new job creation, only to be shot down nearly time and again by the President and his Democrat Senate allies. …
No feature of the Obama Presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others. As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat. If we drift, quarreling and paralyzed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category. If we fail to shift to a pro-jobs, pro-growth economic policy, there will never be enough public revenue to pay for our safety net, national security, or whatever size government we decide to have. …
2012 must be the year we prove the doubters wrong. The year we strike out boldly not merely to avert national bankruptcy but to say to a new generation that America is still the world’s premier land of opportunity. Republicans will speak for those who believe in the dignity and capacity of the individual citizen; who believe that government is meant to serve the people rather than supervise them; who trust Americans enough to tell them the plain truth about the fix we are in, and to lay before them a specific, credible program of change big enough to meet the emergency we are facing."
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #428 on:
January 25, 2012, 11:07:37 AM »
" who trust Americans enough to tell them the plain truth about the fix we are in, and to lay before them a specific, credible program of change big enough to meet the emergency we are facing"
Agreed by me. I hope the electorate is ready for honest and needed changes.
The Dems don't think they are and are salivating at the thought of the Repubs going out on the "limb".
Reply #429 on:
January 26, 2012, 04:28:05 PM »
By DANIEL YERGIN
A movie producer once shared with me a maxim for making historical films: Faced with choosing between "drama" and "historical accuracy," compromise on the history and go with drama.
That is certainly what the producers of "The Iron Lady" have done. The result is a masterly performance by Meryl Streep as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But the depiction of Mrs. Thatcher in the movie misses much of the larger story. That story—the struggle to define the frontier between the state and the market, and the calamities that happen when governments live beyond their means—is directly relevant to the debt dramas now rocking Europe and the United States.
After World War II, Britain created the cradle-to-grave welfare state. A clause in the constitution of the Labour Party which came to power in 1945 called for government to own the "means of production." That ended up ranging from coal mines and the steel industry to appliance stores, hotels and even a travel agency.
The postwar "mixed economy" became a recipe for economic decline. Inflexible labor rules and competition for power among unions led to endless strikes and disruption of the economy. Workers in state-owned companies were essentially civil servants, which gave them enormous clout when they struck. The system stifled innovation, adaptation and productivity, making Britain uncompetitive in the world economy. Yet the spending and debt to support an expansive welfare state went on.
By the late 1970s, enormous losses were piled up at state-owned companies, debts which had to be covered by the British Treasury. A desperate Britain needed to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund. Inflation was heading toward 20% as the deficit mounted and strike after strike disrupted economic life. Even grave diggers walked off the job. The continuing deterioration of the country seemed inevitable. Some predicted that Britain would soon be worse off than communist East Germany.
Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982
.Enter Margaret Thatcher, the daughter of a grocery-shop owner who had begun her own professional life as a food chemist but decided she preferred politics to working on ice cream and cake fillings. In 1975, she was elected leader of the Conservative Party. Four years later, she became prime minister, determined to reverse Britain's decline. That required great personal conviction, which Meryl Streep brilliantly captures.
Mrs. Thatcher came with her own script, a framework provided by free-market economists who, even a few years earlier, had been regarded as fringe figures. One telling moment that "The Iron Lady" misses is when a Conservative staffer called for a middle way between left and right and the prime minister shut him down mid-comment. Slapping a copy of Friedrich Hayek's "The Constitution of Liberty" on the table, she declared: "This is what we believe."
Years later, when I interviewed her in London, Mrs. Thatcher was no less firm. "It started with ideas, with beliefs," she said. "You must start with beliefs. Yes, always with beliefs."
As prime minister, she encountered enormous resistance, even from her own party, to putting beliefs into practice. But she prevailed through difficult years of painful budget cuts and yanked the government out of loss-making businesses. Shares in state-owned companies were sold off, and ownership shifted from the British Treasury to pension funds, mutual funds and other investors around the world. This set off what became a global mass movement toward privatization. ("I don't like the word" privatization, she said when we met. What was really going on, she said, was "free enterprise.")
But it was labor relations that were the great drama of the Thatcher years. The country could no longer function without labor reform. This was particularly true of the government-owned coal industry, which was being subsidized with some $1.3 billion a year. The Marxist-led coal miners had great leverage over the entire economy because coal was the main source for generating Britain's electricity. Everyone remembered the paralyzing 1974 National Union of Miners strike which blacked out the country and brought down a Conservative government.
By the 1980s, it was clear that another confrontation was coming as Mrs. Thatcher's government prepared to close some of its unprofitable mines. The strike started in 1984 and was marked by violent confrontations. But the Iron Lady would not bend, and after a year the strike faltered and then petered out. Thereafter, the road was open to reformed labor relations and renewed economic growth.
In 1990, discontented members of the Conservative Party did what the miners could not and brought Mrs. Thatcher down. The Iron Lady, in their view, had become the Imperious Lady of domineering leadership. They revolted, forcing her to resign.
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were intellectual soul mates, but the movie does not touch on arguably their greatest collaboration, which was ending the Cold War. Mrs. Thatcher's visit to Poland in 1988, for instance, gave critical impetus to the Solidarity movement in its struggle with the Communist government.
But the difference between how Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher are seen today is striking. The bitterness of the Reagan years has largely been forgotten. Not so with Margaret Thatcher. She remains a divisive figure. Her edges were sharp, as could be her tone. Moreover, she was a woman competing in what had almost completely been a man's world.
Yet her true impact has to be measured by what came after, and there the effect is clear. When Tony Blair and Gordon Brown took the leadership of the Labour Party, they set out to modernize it. They forced the repeal of the party's constitutional clause IV with its commitment to state ownership of the commanding heights of the economy.
They did not try to reverse the fundamentals of Thatcherite economics. Mr. Blair recognized that without wealth creation, the risk was redistribution of the shrinking slices of a shrinking pie. The "new" Labour Party, he once said, should not be a party that "bungs up your taxes, runs a high-inflation economy and is hopelessly inefficient" and "lets the trade unions run the show."
The lesson that governments cannot permanently live beyond their means had been learned. When economies are growing in good times, that lesson tends to be forgotten. Yet the longer it is forgotten, the more painful, contentious and dangerous the relearning will be. That is the real story of the Iron Lady. And that is the story in Europe—and the U.S.—today.
Mr. Yergin is author of "The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World" (Penguin 2011) and chairman of IHS CERA.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #430 on:
January 26, 2012, 07:50:32 PM »
Interesting read on the Margaret Thatcher movie. This author suggests the movie doesn't really do her full justice and sacrifices history for some hollywood glitz.
Contrast this review with the following one from the Economist obviously written by a Thatcher hating liberal:
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed - Iron Lady
Reply #431 on:
January 27, 2012, 09:23:29 PM »
My understanding from other accounts is that Thatcher is played perfectly, they just omit or downplay her politics. But why would this woman be a famous figure or historic without her politics, such as stubborn advocacy for free enterprise and helping to bring down the Soviet Union?
I don't plan to go out of my way to see the movie though maybe would be inspired to learn more about her career and philosophy through books and other readings.
The Way Forward for the American Creed, aka Marco Rubio
Reply #432 on:
February 02, 2012, 12:22:21 PM »
"As I said in a speech at the end of last year, we have never been a nation of haves and have nots. We have always been a nation of haves and soon to haves, a people who have made it and people who believe that given the chance they will make it too. And if we lose that, we lose the essence of what’s made us great in terms of economics."
Morris: Big Tectonic Shifts favor Reps
Reply #433 on:
February 09, 2012, 11:04:58 AM »
WSJ: The Do-Nothing Senate
Reply #434 on:
February 14, 2012, 03:18:59 PM »
Back in the dog days of George W. Bush's second term, when each month seemed to bring new lows for the president's approval ratings, there was almost always this consolation: The surveys would show that Congress was even less popular than he was.
In general, that's going to be the advantage an executive enjoys over a collective body such as a legislature. Hence the decision by Barack Obama to take a page out of Harry Truman's 1948 playbook and campaign for re-election against a "do-nothing Congress." Given his record, it may be his wisest course.
It's also a gift to Republicans—if the party's presidential nominee has enough wit to turn it to his advantage.
Let's take the politics first. However useful the "do-nothing Congress" theme may be for Mr. Obama, it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of Harry Reid in an election when the Democratic majority he enjoys in the Senate is up for grabs. To the contrary, it opens the door for Republicans to turn the tables in a way that squeezes Mr. Reid and his fellow Senate enablers: between a Democratic president attacking them implicitly, and a Republican presidential contender attacking them explicitly.
Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who was a colleague in the Bush administration, sums up the challenge this way. "Our nominee," he says, "needs to talk about the do-nothing Senate, and remind voters that Harry Reid and the Democrats are in control there. Republicans need to constantly remind voters that the problems in our economy and with the health-care bill are the result of Democratic control—and that in the Senate this control continues to block reform and advance the Obama agenda."
CloseEuropean Pressphoto Agency
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.)
.The good news is that the Republican contenders are mostly in a good place to advance this argument. As a former leader in the U.S. Senate, Rick Santorum no doubt understands how important a majority in the Senate would be to a GOP president. So does Newt Gingrich, who had his own experience with the Senate leadership when he served as speaker of the House.
For the Romney campaign, this line of attack might be even more fruitful. For the most part, Mr. Romney has campaigned as a former business executive and Beltway outsider who can get things done. The president, however, is not a CEO with everyone else in Washington under his direction—and going after Mr. Reid's do-nothing Senate would be a good sign that Mr. Romney understands that.
Manifestly there's no shortage of material. Under Mr. Reid's leadership, the Senate has not passed a budget resolution in three years. It has never voted to extend the payroll tax cut for a full year—which Vice President Joe Biden says is the administration's No. 1 economic priority. Nor did it protest when the president made a controversial recess appointment when the Senate plainly was not in recess.
The one notable area where Mr. Reid did not "do nothing"—ObamaCare—is not pretty. It would be good for Republicans to remind the public of this record. Partly it involved a complete rewrite in Mr. Reid's backroom, along with notorious vote-buying deals to secure enough votes to prevent a GOP filibuster, including the Louisiana Purchase ($300 million in Medicaid funds for the home state of Sen. Mary Landrieu) and the Cornhusker Kickback ($100 million in Medicaid funds for Nebraska's Sen. Ben Nelson).
The point is that with the exception of ObamaCare and the stimulus, Mr. Reid's energies have been exercised largely to prevent action, not take it. Remember Mr. Obama's jobs bill, and how he called on Congress to "pass this bill now"? When Senate Republicans pushed for a vote, Mr. Reid responded by changing the rules of the Senate to prevent one.
Over in the House, meanwhile, Republicans have been a hive of activity. Currently some 30 pro-growth bills languish in Mr. Reid's do-nothing Senate, lest the buck ever be passed to the president's desk. These include measures reflecting proposals endorsed by the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness—ranging from regulatory reform and tax simplification to reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
For the past two years, House Republicans have used their majority to block further expansion of the Obama agenda. They have also come up with real alternatives that they know will likely be vetoed by the president or stalled in the Senate. That too is part of the groundwork for this November's elections. For the message they are sending is that if you want change in Washington, you need more than a Republican-controlled House.
By adopting the do-nothing Congress meme, Mr. Obama implies that Mr. Reid and his Senate Democrats have failed. Memo to Messrs. Romney, Santorum and Gingrich: Now's the time to make that point from the right.
Taranto in WSJ: Social Issues
Reply #435 on:
February 19, 2012, 07:18:07 AM »
By JAMES TARANTO
If you're a Republican in New York or another big city, you may be anxious or even terrified at the prospect that Rick Santorum, the supposedly unelectable social conservative, may win the GOP presidential nomination. Jeffrey Bell would like to set your mind at ease.
Social conservatism, Mr. Bell argues in his forthcoming book, "The Case for Polarized Politics," has a winning track record for the GOP. "Social issues were nonexistent in the period 1932 to 1964," he observes. "The Republican Party won two presidential elections out of nine, and they had the Congress for all of four years in that entire period. . . . When social issues came into the mix—I would date it from the 1968 election . . . the Republican Party won seven out of 11 presidential elections."
The Democrats who won, including even Barack Obama in 2008, did not play up social liberalism in their campaigns. In 1992 Bill Clinton was a death-penalty advocate who promised to "end welfare as we know it" and make abortion "safe, legal and rare." Social issues have come to the fore on the GOP side in two of the past six presidential elections—in 1988 (prison furloughs, the Pledge of Allegiance, the ACLU) and 2004 (same-sex marriage). "Those are the only two elections since Reagan where the Republican Party has won a popular majority," Mr. Bell says. "It isn't coincidental."
Jeff Bell, author of "The Case for Polarized Politics," on whether it's politically smart for conservatives to run on social issues.
.Mr. Bell, 68, is an unlikely tribune for social conservatism. His main interest has always been economics. He was "an early supply-sider" who worked on Ronald Reagan's presidential campaigns of 1976 and 1980 and Jack Kemp's in 1988. In 1978 he ran an anti-tax campaign for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey, defeating Republican incumbent Clifford Case in the primary but losing to Democrat Bill Bradley.
Even now his day job is to advocate for the gold standard at the American Principles Project. But he's been interested in social issues since the 1980s, when "it became increasingly clear to me . . . that social issues were beginning to be very important in comparison to economic issues," in part because "Reaganomics worked so well that the Democrats . . . kind of retired the economic issues."
In Mr. Bell's telling, social conservatism is both relatively new and uniquely American, and it is a response to aggression, not an initiation of it. The left has had "its center of gravity in social issues" since the French Revolution, he says. "Yes, the left at that time, with people like Robespierre, was interested in overthrowing the monarchy and the French aristocracy. But they were even more vehemently in favor of bringing down institutions like the family and organized religion. In that regard, the left has never changed. . . . I think we've had a good illustration of it in the last month or so."
He means the ObamaCare mandate that religious institutions must provide employee insurance for contraceptive services, including abortifacient drugs and sterilization procedures, even if doing so would violate their moral teachings. "You would think that once the economy started looking a little better, Obama would want to take a bow . . . but instead all of a sudden you have this contraception flap. From what I can find out about it, it wasn't a miscalculation. They knew that the Catholic Church and other believers were going to push back against this thing. . . . They were determined to push it through, because it's their irreplaceable ideological core. . . . The left keeps putting these issues into the mix, and they do it very deliberately, and I think they do it as a matter of principle."
Another example: "In the lame-duck session of the last Congress, when the Democrats had their last [House] majority . . . what was their biggest priority? Well, they let the Bush tax cuts be renewed for another couple of years, but what they did get through was gays in the military. . . . It keeps coming back because it's the agenda of the left. They're not going to leave these issues alone."
American social conservatism, Mr. Bell says, began in response to the sexual revolution, which since the 1960s has been "the biggest agenda item and the biggest success story of the left." That was true in Western Europe and Japan too, but only in America did a socially conservative opposition arise.
The roots of social conservatism, he maintains, lie in the American Revolution. "Nature's God is the only authority cited in the Declaration of Independence. . . . The usual [assumption] is, the U.S. has social conservatism because it's more religious. . . . My feeling is that the very founding of the country is the natural law, which is God-given, but it isn't particular to any one religion. . . . If you believe that rights are unalienable and that they come from God, the odds are that you're a social conservative."
The rise of the tea-party movement heartened many libertarian conservatives, who saw it as leading the Republican Party away from social conservatism. Mr. Bell acknowledges that the tea party is distinct from social conservatism, but he also argues that the two have the same intellectual and political roots:
"I think the tea party is an ally of social conservatism, because it also seems to go back to that idea in the Founding. . . . The tea party brings absolute values, normative values, to a whole set of issues where they really weren't present, namely economics and the size of government." Another commonality is that both arose in reaction to an aggressive left.
The populist nature of social conservatism perplexes liberals, who think less-affluent Americans ought to side with the party of statist economics. The libertarian social scientist Charles Murray presents a more sophisticated variant of the puzzle in his new book, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010." Mr. Murray shows that upper-middle-class Americans lead far more conservative lives than the less affluent do, by such measures as marriage, illegitimacy, churchgoing and crime.
Yet Mr. Bell notes that social conservatism is largely a working-class phenomenon: "Middle America does have more children than elite America, and they vote socially conservative, even though they might not necessarily be behaving that way in their personal life. They may be overwhelmed by the sexual revolution and its cultural impacts."
Mr. Bell squares that circle by arguing that social conservatism is "aspirational" and "driven by a sense in Middle America that the kind of cultural atmosphere we have, the kind of incentives, the example set by government, is something that has to be pushed back against." Mr. Murray urges liberal elites to stop being nonjudgmental—to "preach what they practice." To hear Mr. Bell tell it, they should listen instead.
.Mr. Murray's book focuses on whites so as to avoid both the confounding variables and the controversies around race. Mr. Bell, for his part, sees in social conservatism opportunities for the GOP to expand its appeal among minority communities. "Latino voters tend to be more socially conservative," Mr. Bell says, noting that in 2008 they backed California's Proposition 8, which overturned a state Supreme Court ruling establishing same-sex marriage, by 53% to 47%. Non-Hispanic whites narrowly opposed the measure.
This naturally leads to a question about immigration, a topic that divides Republicans and inspires harsh rhetoric that can be off-putting to Hispanic citizens. But don't blame social conservatives for that, Mr. Bell says: "The evangelicals and the Catholics—in other words, people who are more involved with their religion—tend to be more pro-immigration."
Even without immediate gains among minority voters, Mr. Bell sees social issues as the path to a GOP majority in 2012. They account for the George W. Bush-era red-blue divide, which Mr. Bell says endures—and, he adds, red has the advantage: "There was one state in 2000 that Bush carried that I would say was socially left of center, and that was New Hampshire," the only state that flipped to John Kerry four years later. "By 2004, every state—all 31 states that Bush carried—were socially conservative states." Those states now have 292 electoral votes, with 270 sufficient for a majority.
By contrast, not all the Kerry states are socially liberal. "The swing vote in the Midwest is socially conservative and less conservative economically," Mr. Bell says, so that "social conservatism is more likely to be helpful than economic conservatism."
Among states that last voted Republican in 1988 or earlier, he classifies two, Michigan and Pennsylvania, as socially conservative, and two more, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as "mildly" so. That adds up to 35 states, with 348 electoral votes, in which social conservatism is an advantage. A socially liberal Republican nominee might win more votes in California and New York—places where the GOP has declined as the country has become more polarized—but his prospects of carrying either would still be minuscule.
Not that any social liberals are seeking the GOP nomination anyway, with the partial exceptions of Ron Paul and, earlier, Jon Huntsman. "It's very different from the 2008 field," Mr. Bell says. "In that situation, Mitt Romney, who I don't think has really changed much in views since 2008—he was considered the conservative alternative to [John] McCain and [Rudy] Giuliani. Now, almost by default, he's considered the establishment candidate, with Santorum and [Newt] Gingrich running to his right."
Mr. Santorum is the most consistent and unapologetic social conservative in the race, but Mr. Bell rejects the common claim that he places too strong an emphasis on social issues: "I think that's unfair to Santorum. He goes out of his way to say that he has an economic platform, he isn't just about social issues."
He notes that on NBC's "Meet the Press" last weekend, host David Gregory opened his interview with the candidate by asking a series of questions about social issues, one of which he prefaced by saying that such issues "have come . . . to define your campaign."
Mr. Santorum disputed the premise: "It's not what's defining my campaign. I would say that what's defining my campaign is going out and talking about liberty, talking about economic growth, talking about getting manufacturing jobs back here to this country, trying to grow this economy to make sure that everybody in America can participate in it."
This exchange, like many other Santorum interviews, can be seen as a synecdoche of the liberal-conservative social-issue dynamic Mr. Bell describes. To the extent that social issues have "come to define" Mr. Santorum's campaign, it is in substantial part because liberal interviewers like Mr. Gregory have kept pushing them. If Mr. Bell is right, Mr. Santorum should end up benefiting politically, including in November if he is the nominee.
But what about voters who don't make a high priority of social issues, who aren't unwilling to vote for a social conservative but might be put off by a candidate who is—or is made to appear—a moralistic busybody? "The key thing along that line is the issue of coercion," Mr. Bell says. "Who is guilty of coercion? I happen to think it's the left." Mr. Obama and his supporters are "going to imply that Santorum wants to impose all the tenets of traditional morality on the American population. He doesn't. He just doesn't want the opposite imposed on Middle America."
Mr. Taranto, a member of the Journal's editorial board, writes the Best of the Web Today column for OpinionJournal.com.
Teaching George Washington
Reply #436 on:
February 22, 2012, 05:25:30 PM »
Teaching George Washington
In an age and time when I find most of my college students unfamiliar with the story of Adam and Eve or the origin of the phrase, “judge not lest ye be judged,” I enter discussions about religion with some caution. Almost universally my students do not believe that religious belief is necessary for morality, and seem to be offended by the very concept.
But when one discusses the speeches of our earlier presidents, as I do in my composition classes, it is necessary to address religion’s role.
So last week, as we discussed George Washington’s Farewell Address, I asked students to recall the major points he made. Because several of them had already studied the speech in high school, they listed points most emphasized by teachers: his cautions about foreign entanglements, factional discord, and debt. Not many recalled his injunction to use the Constitution as a safeguard against “internal enemies.” Only one recalled his reminder about the importance of religion.
Although it does not take up much of the speech, it is an important passage, and one worth recalling in today’s age when libertarian ideals seem to motivate most college students and when many conservative pundits caution us about focusing on social issues.
But Washington reminds us, as do the other Founding Fathers, of why the Constitution is necessary in the first place.
The Constitution is structured according to a vision of mankind as inherently flawed, as marked by Original Sin. This view of human nature is what sets apart those who established the longest-lasting Constitution from the utopian idealists who see human nature as essentially good. Those human beings who are flawed by selfishness or irrationality (as they see it) can be shaped by the right social and political forces—and woe to the man who resists the efforts by the utopian theorists to make him good! We have seen that in the death tolls of such schemes.
But in Washington’s view, because character alone cannot be trusted, a division of powers helps provide checks against branches of government and of individuals. Washington echoes James Madison.
Yet, even with such multiple safeguards and a contract that stands beyond the immediate interests of parties, Washington still reminds us of the importance of religion. He calls “religion and morality” the “indispensable supports” of the “dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity.” In fact, he implies that patriotism is impossible without “these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.” It’s a sentence I emphasize. I ask students if they agree. Of course not, they almost unanimously say. One does not need to be religious to be patriotic. One does not need to believe in God to be moral.
Washington continues: “The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.”
Notice that Washington calls on the “mere politician” to respect religion and morality. Washington then claims, “A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.” (It’s no wonder that moderns who ascribe to the notion that religion is a private affair that should be divorced from political life would rather forget George Washington or wipe him from the history books.)
Furthermore, Washington maintains that morality emerges from religion, as he asks a rhetorical question: “Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?” This leads to my question of why we ask those who testify in court to place their hands on the Bible. This inspires more looks of consternation among students who have been educated in the idea that any kind of insistence on religious faith is an expression of “intolerance.”
Washington finally ends that paragraph by stating point blank, “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
That is about as unequivocal a statement as one can get.
Last Edit: February 22, 2012, 05:29:06 PM by Crafty_Dog
Sen. Snowe retires
Reply #437 on:
February 29, 2012, 11:20:31 AM »
I know most on this Forum prefer the far right and laugh at the political center, but frankly, that's where I am as are lots of Americans. I was sorry to see Sen. Snowe leave.
“I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us,” she said. “It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate.”
Snowe is one of the last representatives of a dying breed, the “Northeast” or “Teddy Roosevelt” Republican: fiscally conservative, environmentally conscious, and liberal or ambivalent on social issues.
correction Snow retiring
Reply #438 on:
February 29, 2012, 12:26:19 PM »
Rush on radio today has it right.
Naturally the MSM turns this into a rap against the Tea Party and in general the Republican party.
Somehow she can't just go queitly. It has to be emphasized that she is just soooo depressed by partisanship (aka the right of her) and *they* are by implication ruining the country and her great work in moving this country foward will be sorely missed.
He is exactly right. The MSM always turns anyone who complains about partisinship into this sort of story line (those dirty Tea baggers are destroying progress, and the ability to move this country forward)
Rush is also right when he explains in his usual descript way how the Democrats have decided they must win by turning this into the 50% on the dole vs those who are paying. They publically call them the 1% but they are really waging war on the rest of all of those who are footing their bills. Taxpayers HAVE become the new class of SLAVES in this country.
Any more get into that group and the death of this country as we know it can already be engraved on the tombstone.
Reply #439 on:
March 22, 2012, 10:45:02 AM »
Paul Ryan threw his hat into the presidential political ring this week. It's a big hat—the House Republican budget resolution. A House budget isn't your father's idea of a presidential candidacy. Instead, it's an "ideas candidacy," and it just might put a Republican back in the White House.
Mr. Ryan chose last year not to undergo the U.S.'s presidential trial by ordeal. Instead, he is using the institutional authority of his office, chairman of the House Budget Committee, to shape the debate between the incumbent president, a New Deal Democrat, and the Republican reform movement that Mr. Ryan and his allies in Congress represent. (That, by the way, includes the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who had to sign off on this document.)
Paul Ryan's admirers had their reasons for wanting him on the field, and mine comes down to one—the single, stark point Mr. Ryan has made since his side lost the health-care battle with Barack Obama, and which he made this week: "It is rare in American politics to arrive at a moment in which the debate revolves around the fundamental nature of American democracy and the social contract. But that is where we are."
.Republican discontent the past nine months has been about the inability of any presidential candidate to match the moment as Mr. Ryan defines it. But it may be that Republicans have been loading up more hope than any one candidate can bear these days.
A modern presidential candidate is Gulliver, pecked at daily, even hourly, for months by thousands of squawking Internet crows. If Ronald Reagan himself were running like this for a year, we'd start picking at him, too.
Worse, they are connected to nothing other than themselves. Last summer, a member of the GOP leadership visited our offices, and we asked how much contact they had with the six or so candidates competing then in the not-so-great debates. The answer: zero. The party and its presidential candidates have become like celestial bodies, rotating in distant corners of the same galaxy.
With the Ryan budget, this party's two poles are joined. Especially on taxes.
Taxation is the subject that most clearly defines the competing visions of the two parties. Medicare is about a big fix. Tax policy is about the nature of the nation. It comes down to this: What are taxes for?
With the House budget, the GOP's institutions are joined to the party's presidential candidates.
.In a blog post under that headline last April, Paul Krugman gave the conventional answer: "So taxes are, first and foremost, about paying for what government buys (duh)."
Larry Summers, when he left the White House, spoke of the impending nightmare of an "inadequately resourced" government. He said, "While recovery is our first priority, it is essential that we establish long-run parity between revenues and expenditures."
This has been the standard model of taxation's purpose since the king was collecting taxes in Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest. Ronald Reagan overturned the king's model in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, with support from pre-Obama Democrats. Reagan, radically, gave the economy's long-term growth prior claim over government's revenue needs. Refuting Reagan forever is the raison d'etre of the modern Democratic party and its satellites. Taxes are about government, nothing else. Duh.
For the alternative to this galley-slave view of taxes, with the citizenry rowing endlessly to the horizon for the government, open footnote 76 in the Ryan budget. It is House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp's tight description of what we should want from our tax system.
Here's my summary of his summary: Our taxation system ought to serve an America that must live and survive in the world as it is now, and will be into the distant future. That is a tax system that allows economic growth greater than the below-2.5% of the past three years, the new Obama normal. It is a tax system that maximizes the release of capital into the economy for productive purposes. That tax system will allow users of capital to create jobs for people who don't want to work for the government. That tax system will let U.S. firms compete in the new world dominated by young, emerging economies. It will be a fair tax system if its claims are not so heavy that it sinks into the corruptions of loopholes, credits and preferences bartered in Washington.
The tax system we have now is a 20th-century tax system, whose purpose was to pay for what government bought. And bought and bought. Republicans, anti-status quo insurgents and upwardly mobile independent voters should recognize that with the Ryan-Camp tax plan (two low personal rates, a lower corporate rate) now joined to the high-growth consensus of these presidential challengers, the U.S. has one chance this year and next, when the new code would become law, to rejoin the real world, not some 60-year-old dream world.
Reply #440 on:
April 03, 2012, 10:45:35 AM »
I actually like his radio show better than Levin's. At least drudge gives him some airtime while Fox bans him. He calls O'Reilly the "lephrechan". I happen to like OReilly too.
Thank God the congress and the senate are likely to be repubs. If Obama wins again, which I doubt, at least he can be countered.
I could not imagine Obama unleashed for a second term.
The Fourth Revolution of the American Creed
Reply #441 on:
June 06, 2012, 02:43:43 AM »
In my opinion, this is an important read meriting our time and contemplation , , , and commentary.
Discussion of Dennis Prager book
Reply #442 on:
June 15, 2012, 01:04:54 PM »
A GA town takes the people's business private
Reply #443 on:
June 25, 2012, 10:22:34 PM »
A Georgia Town Takes the People’s Business Private
By DAVID SEGAL
SANDY SPRINGS, Ga.
IF your image of a city hall involves a venerable building, some Roman pillars and lots of public employees, the version offered by this Atlanta suburb of 94,000 residents is a bit of a shocker.
The entire operation is housed in a generic, one-story industrial park, along with a restaurant and a gym. And though the place has a large staff, none are on the public payroll. O.K., seven are, including the city manager. But unless you chance into one of them, the people you meet here work for private companies through a variety of contracts.
Applying for a business license? Speak to a woman with Severn Trent, a multinational company based in Coventry, England. Want to build a new deck on your house? Chat with an employee of Collaborative Consulting, based in Burlington, Mass. Need a word with people who oversee trash collection? That would be the URS Corporation, based in San Francisco.
Even the city’s court, which is in session on this May afternoon, next to the revenue division, is handled by a private company, the Jacobs Engineering Group of Pasadena, Calif. The company’s staff is in charge of all administrative work, though the judge, Lawrence Young, is essentially a legal temp, paid a flat rate of $100 an hour.
“I think of it as being a baby judge,” says Mr. Young, who spends most of his time drafting trusts as a lawyer in a private practice, “because we don’t have to deal with the terrible things that you find in Superior Court.”
With public employee unions under attack in states like Wisconsin, and with cities across the country looking to trim budgets, behold a town built almost entirely on a series of public-private partnerships — a system that leaders around here refer to, simply, as “the model.”
Cities have dabbled for years with privatization, but few have taken the idea as far as Sandy Springs. Since the day it incorporated, Dec. 1, 2005, it has handed off to private enterprise just about every service that can be evaluated through metrics and inked into a contract.
To grasp how unusual this is, consider what Sandy Springs does not have. It does not have a fleet of vehicles for road repair, or a yard where the fleet is parked. It does not have long-term debt. It has no pension obligations. It does not have a city hall, for that matter, if your idea of a city hall is a building owned by the city. Sandy Springs rents.
The town does have a conventional police force and fire department, in part because the insurance premiums for a private company providing those services were deemed prohibitively high. But its 911 dispatch center is operated by a private company, iXP, with headquarters in Cranbury, N.J.
“When it comes to public safety, outsourcing has always been viewed with a kind of suspicion,” says Joseph Estey, who manages the Sandy Springs 911 service in a hushed gray room a few miles from city hall. “What I think really tipped the balance here is that they were outsourcing just about everything else.”
Does the Sandy Springs approach work? It does for Sandy Springs, says the city manager, John F. McDonough, who points not only to the town’s healthy balance sheet but also to high marks from residents on surveys about quality of life and quality of government services.
But that doesn’t mean “the model” can be easily exported — Sandy Springs has the built-in advantage that comes from wealth — or that its widespread adoption would enhance the commonweal. Critics contend that the town is a white-flight suburb that has essentially seceded from Fulton County, a 70-mile-long stretch that includes many poor and largely African-American areas, most of them in Atlanta and points south.
The prospect of more Sandy Springs-style incorporations concerns people like Evan McKenzie, author of “Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government.” He worries that rich enclaves may decide to become gated communities writ large, walling themselves off from areas that are economically distressed.
“You could get into a ‘two Americas’ scenario here,” he says. “If we allow the more affluent to institutionally isolate themselves, then the poor are supposed to do — what? They’re supposed to have all the poverty and all the social problems and deal with them?”
The champions of Sandy Springs counter that they still send plenty of tax dollars to the county and that race had nothing to do with the decision to incorporate. (The town’s minority population is now 30 percent and growing, they note.) Leaders here say they had simply grown tired of the municipal service offered by Fulton County.
“We make no apologies for being more affluent than other parts of the metro area,” says Eva Galambos, the mayor of Sandy Springs. And what does she make of the attitude of the town’s detractors? “Pure envy,” she says.
NOTHING about Sandy Springs hints that it is one of the country’s purest examples of a contract city. Even those city hall employees betray no sign that they work for a jumble of corporations. Drive around and you’ll see a nondescript upscale suburb, where the most notable features are traffic lights that seem to take five minutes to turn green. There is no downtown, or at least anything that looks like a main street. Instead, there are strip malls with plenty of usual-suspect franchises — although one strip mall, oddly enough, includes a small museum that tells the story of Anne Frank.
The town is home to offices of United Parcel Service, Hardee’s and other corporations, and it also serves as a bedroom community for Atlanta. Residents include Herman Cain, members of the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons, and executives at Delta Air Lines, CNN and other companies. This is also home to the rapper and producer Akon, whose opulent tastes were featured in an episode of “Cribs” on MTV.
“A few years ago, I got a call from his head of security,” says Kenneth DeSimone, the deputy chief of police, who is giving a tour of the town one May afternoon. It turned out that somebody had stolen a pistol and a laptop from Akon’s home.
“He seemed really focused on the laptop and I was looking around this guy’s house thinking, ‘What is the big deal with this laptop? He can afford another one.’ Turns out, there was a bunch of new Lady Gaga demos on it. Worth millions.”
That crime was solved when an informant helped lead the police to some young people who, Mr. DeSimone said, had no idea whose home they had entered and what was stored on the computer.
The car driven by Mr. DeSimone says “Sandy Springs” on the side, which is one reason that this town can’t claim to be the most outsourced city in the United States. That distinction probably belongs to Maywood, Calif., eight miles southeast of Los Angeles, which in 2010 fired all but one employee, its city manager. Maywood is now operated, from top to bottom, through contracts. The police officers are members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, paid a combined $3.5 million a year to patrol the streets, according to Felipe Aguirre, a council member.
But Maywood was pushed to extreme measures after it flirted with bankruptcy and lost insurance coverage for its public work force. Sandy Springs went the public-private partnership route by choice, and it evangelizes about its success.
Few have more zeal than Oliver W. Porter, a founding father and architect in chief.
With his gray beard and thick gray hair, Mr. Porter is a beatnik version of John Updike with a Southern drawl and a pipe. He is sitting one morning in a tiny room in his basement, which has a small desk, a chair and a psychiatrist’s couch. A parachute is spread out along the ceiling, like a canopy, and a mural of an ancient Roman landscape — Mr. Porter’s handiwork — adorns one wall.
This unassuming nook is where every element of Sandy Springs was conceived and designed. With the title of interim city manager, Mr. Porter drafted requests for proposals and fielded calls here, often from people who imagined him in charge of a small battalion of employees.
“One day a lady called and said: ‘Oh, Mr. Porter, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. May I speak to your staff?’ ” he recalls. Reliving the moment, he picks up the phone, puts it to one ear and then switches to the other.
“Staff speaking,” he told the caller, in a slightly deeper voice.
Mr. Porter, a retired AT&T engineer, was an advocate of the town when it was a hopeless cause, during the many years when Democrats blocked efforts to let a largely Republican and white suburb cleave itself from Fulton County. One Democratic legislator vowed that Sandy Springs would incorporate “when pigs fly,” a phrase that Mayor Galambos has since adopted as the name of her blog.
After an election in 2004, both houses of Georgia’s legislature were controlled by Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction.
“It was like a dog that’s been chasing a train for years and finally catches it,” Mr. Porter says. “The question was, What do I do with it now?”
As a fan of Ronald Reagan and the economist Friedrich Hayek, Mr. Porter came naturally to the notion that Sandy Springs could push “the model” to its nth degree. His philosophical inclinations were formed by a life spent in private enterprise, and cemented by a visit to Weston, Fla., a town that had begun as a series of gated communities.
Mr. Porter tells this and other stories in “Creating the New City of Sandy Springs,” a book that will leave readers with one indelible lesson: incorporating a city is dull. Superduper dull. The book is composed mostly of the codicils, requests for proposals and definitions of duties that were required to jolt Sandy Springs to life. Without a love of minutiae and a very long attention span, forget it. But this is intended as a blueprint, not a gripping narrative. Mr. Porter regards the success of Sandy Springs as a way out of the financial morass that has engulfed so many cities in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
“Many are on the verge of bankruptcy,” Mr. Porter says. “They have significant unfunded liabilities, like pensions and other benefits. It’s almost like a poison that a lot of people are unaware of, and this model could be an answer.”
HOVERING around the debate about privatization is a basic question: What is local government for? For years, one answer, at least implicitly, was “to provide steady jobs with good wages.” But that answer is losing its political tenability, says John D. Donahue of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. “A lot of jobs in government are middle-class jobs that in the private sector are not middle-class jobs,” he says. “People aren’t willing to support conditions for public workers that they themselves no longer enjoy.”
In a way, what Sandy Springs and other newly incorporated towns have done harks back to a 19th-century notion of taxation, which was much less about cross-subsidies and much more about fee for service.
“It was normal from around 1830 through the end of the Civil War for cities to be run like businesses,” says Mr. McKenzie, the “Privatopia” author. “When people paid property taxes, it was to get something that benefited them directly — like butchers wanting a certain area cleaned up.”
Sandy Springs residents still send roughly $190 million a year to Fulton County through property taxes, about half of which goes to schools, including those in Sandy Springs. But by incorporating, the town gets to keep $90 million in taxes a year to spend as it pleases.
Has this financially hurt the rest of Fulton County? It has, says the county manager, Zachary Williams, who calculates that the incorporation of Sandy Springs, and neighboring towns that incorporated after it, cost the county about $38 million a year. Mr. Williams described the figure as “significant,” especially given the strains imposed by the economic downturn.
“I would bet that Atlanta is top five in the country in terms of foreclosures,” he says. “I think our vacancy rate is 14 to 18 percent.”
Some Georgia politicians outside Sandy Springs regard it and other breakaway towns as “the first shot in the battle to destroy Fulton County,” as State Senator Vincent Fort, a Democrat whose district includes part of Atlanta, put it.
“What you have is the northern section of the county,” he went on, “which is mostly white, seeking to leave the rest of Fulton County, and doing so with what I think are racially tinged arguments about the corruption and inefficiency of local government.”
Town leaders say race had nothing to do with it. Mayor Galambos said, “A 94 percent vote in favor of incorporation speaks to the broad community support for self-government and a desire to have local dollars remain local.”
BUT leave aside questions of fairness and race. Many cities that have dipped a toe or two into the privatization pool, and others that have plunged in, have had awful results. Recently, the company that has a contract to manage Chicago’s parking meters sent the city a series of bills, totaling nearly $50 million, to make up for revenue lost from people with disability parking placards and from street closings. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has refused to pay.
New York City’s comptroller released a report in late May that said that Hewlett-Packard, a major contractor in the city’s emergency dispatch service, was paid $113 million for work considered subpar.
In Maywood, Calif., going private has driven up the cost of running the town, says Mr. Aguirre, the council member, and the quality of municipal service has gone down.
“Let’s say a tree falls on a car,” Mr. Aguirre says. “Previously, we had an employee who would deal with it. Now, you have to make an appointment and they’ll come out when they can. They’re not our people to control any more.”
Mr. McDonough, the Sandy Springs city manager, says the town has sidestepped such problems. The key, he explains, lay in the fine art of drafting contracts.
Initially, and for the first five and a half years of its life, Sandy Springs used just one company, CH2M Hill, based in Englewood, Colo., to handle every service it delivered. Mr. McDonough says CH2M saved the town millions compared with the cost of hiring a conventional public work force, but last year Sandy Springs sliced the work into pieces and solicited competitive bids.
When the competition was over, the town had spread duties to a handful of corporations and total annual outlays dropped by $7 million. (Representatives of CH2M, which still has a call-center contract, said at the time that they were “deeply disappointed” by the results, but wished the city well, according to a local news report.)
To dissuade companies from raising prices or reducing the quality of service, the town awarded contracts to a couple of losing bidders for every winner it hired. The contracts do not come with any pay or any work — unless the winning bidder that prevailed fails to deliver. It’s a bit like the Miss America pageant anointing the runner-up as the one who will fulfill the winner’s duties if, for some reason, Miss America cannot.
“In most cases, Miss America serves her whole term,” Mr. McDonough says, warming to the analogy. “But every once in a while something happens and they don’t have to run a whole new competition.”
The privatized approach saves money, he continues, because corporations hire superior workers and give them better training. Work handled by 15 public employees can be done by 12 privately employed workers, he says: “It’s all about the caliber of employee and the customer focus that comes out of the private sector.”
During a tour of city hall, Mr. McDonough bumps into Kevin Walter, the deputy director of public works. Mr. Walker has good news. Currently, Sandy Springs pays for two people to operate two road maintenance trucks five days a week — in effect, 10 days of work every two weeks. Well, Mr. Walker has just figured out a way to reduce the number to nine days every two weeks, saving $50,000 a year.
Does Mr. Walker, or rather his company, URS, get to keep a portion of that $50,000?
“No,” Mr. Walker says. “But I get to keep my job. Our job is to run all these projects and programs very efficiently.”
And your contract?
“It is renewed every year,” Mr. Walker says.
“It can be renewed every year,” Mr. McDonough clarifies.
“It can be renewed every year,” says Mr. Walker, correcting himself.
Any anxiety that you will not be renewed?
“No,” Mr. Walker says. He quickly reconsiders. “A little bit,” he says. “Enough so that we do an excellent job. We know we can do an excellent job and we have faith in the city. And we know it would not be easy for them to change so we’d have to really mess up for them to change. But we’re not going to mess up.”
WSJ: Gerlenter: What is the American Creed?
Reply #444 on:
July 02, 2012, 02:06:46 PM »
By DAVID GELERNTER
Presidential elections are America's season for serious chats around the national dinner table. The sick economy, health care and the scope of government are the main issues. But another is even more important. Who are we? What is the United States? Recently Gov. Mitt Romney urged us to return to "the principles that made America, America." But too many of us don't know what those are, or think they can't work.
Yes, Americanism evolves, and by all means let's change our minds when we ought to. We should always be marching toward the American ideals of freedom, equality and democracy, as we did when we ended slavery, granted women the right to vote, and finally buried Jim Crow. But if we forget our basic ideals or shrug them off, as we are doing today, we no longer deserve to be great. Without our history and culture, we have no identity.
Almost no one believes that our public schools are doing a passable job of teaching American and Western civilization. Modern humanities education starts from the bizarre premise that students must be cured of the Europe-centered, misogynist, bigoted ideas of the past. Many American children have never heard a good word for the United States, the West, Judaism or Christianity their whole lives.
Who are we? Dawdling time is over. We have failed a whole generation of children. As of fall 2012, let all public schools be charter schools, competing for each tax dollar and student with every other school in the country. Of course this is a local issue—but a president's or would-be president's job is to lead. There are wonderful teachers, principals and schools out there, and a new public-school system based on the American ideal of achievement will know how to value them.
No principle is more American than equality. Every generation has strained closer to the ideal. We have seen the near eradication of race prejudice in a mere two generations—an astounding achievement. We are a nation of equal citizens, not of races or privileged cliques. Affirmative action has always been a misfit in this country. A system that elevates individuals because of the color of their skin, their race or their sex has no place in America.
.Yet a boy born yesterday is destined to atone (if he happens to be the wrong color) for prejudice against black women 50 years ago. Modern America is a world where a future Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, can say publicly in 2001, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [on the bench] than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Once a justice has intuited, by dint of sheer racial brilliance, which party to a lawsuit is more simpatico and deserving, what then? Invite him to lunch? Friend him on Facebook? This is not justice as America knows it.
Next Independence Day let's celebrate the long-overdue end of affirmative action, and our triumphant return to the American ideal of equality.
Modern American culture is in the hands of intellectuals—unfortunates born with high IQ and low common sense. Witness ObamaCare, a health-care policy, now somehow deemed constitutional, that forces millions of Americans to buy something they don't want.
Bilingualism was the intellectuals' response to one of the best breaks America ever got, a common language to unite its uncommon people. Resolved: The federal government will henceforth conduct its business and publish its statements in English, period. There is plenty of room in this country for new immigrants of all races and religions who want to learn America's culture and be part of this people; none for those who dislike all things American except dollars. Resolved: The federal government will henceforth enforce its own immigration laws.
America's creed is blessedly simple. Freedom, equality, democracy and America as the promised land, the new Jerusalem. What Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he invoked "the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life."
President Obama rejects this creed. He doesn't buy the city-on-a-hill stuff. He sees particular nations as a blur; only the global community is big enough for him. He is at home on the exalted level of whole races and peoples and the vast, paternal power of central governments.
The president has revealed no sense of America's mission to move constantly forward "with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right." Lincoln's sublime biblical English uses the parallel stanzas of ancient Hebrew poetry. That is who we are: a biblical republic, striving to live up to its creed. The dominion of ignorance will pass away like smoke and we will know and be ourselves again the moment we choose to be. Why not now?
Mr. Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale, is the author of "America-Lite," out on July 4 by Encounter Books
VDH: Works and Days
Reply #445 on:
July 02, 2012, 02:19:52 PM »
Second post of day
Works and Days By Victor Davis Hanson
July 2, 2012 - 12:04 am - by Victor Davis Hanson
I have a confession to make: I don’t quite understand the jubilation among the conservative-Republican forces during the last two months of the Obama crack-up, and here, unfortunately, is why:
1. The so-called Obama crash. I believe that Obamism — 41 months over 8% plus unemployment, anemic GDP growth, serial $1 trillion deficits, unsustainable rates of new aggregate debt, the takeover of health care, record numbers on unemployment insurance and food stamps — is not only strangling the country, but in the long run will be seen as such by most Americans. Obama is incoherent — castigating the Supreme Court’s right to overturn a law, then himself suing to overturn state laws, while simply ignoring federal laws. Abroad, even his supporters cannot claim the Russian reset was a success. What was so hard about supporting the Iranian dissidents in the spring 2009 demonstrations, or expressing support for secular democratic movements in the Middle East rather than praising the Muslim Brotherhood? Why treat Israel or Canada worse than Turkey? And was it worth the administration chest thump to risk the security of the United States by leaking classified information about Predators, the cyber war against Iran, the Yemeni agent, and the bin Laden raid?
But all that mess is not to say that in the here and now Obama cannot cobble together a 51% majority to win the election. He figures that he can by appeals to gays (gay marriage), those on entitlements (nearly fifty million are now on food stamps; 50% are paying no income tax or are on some sort of entitlement — or both), the greens (Keystone), the Latinos (de facto amnesty), feminists (“war on women”), the (fill in the blanks), etc.
Obama’s bad news of the last 90 days: the Scott Walker victory, the Obama gaffes (the private sector is doing “fine”), the Democratic defections (whether senators and representatives bailing from the convention or smackdowns on Bain Capital from Cory Booker, Bill Clinton, etc.), the Holder mess, the circumvention of Congress by de facto amnesty, the non-ending scandals (Solyndra, Fast and Furious, GSA, Secret Service, etc.), the Putin/Merkel put-down, our new Muslim Brotherhood friend and ally running Egypt, the supposed shortfall in campaign donations, etc. Yet this weekend Obama remains up in the polls and ahead in key swing states. If these “bad” weeks have led to his rise in the polls, what might good weeks do?
Sometimes when I watch Fox News, listen to talk radio, or read the blogs, I fear too many are in a strange bubble: the Obama embarrassments are tallied, his crashing defeat predicted — but no one seems to say, “But hey, he is still after all that ahead in the polls!” And to the extent someone might point to polling, he is met with “But the polls are biased!” Perhaps they are by 3-4 points. But right now, given the power of incumbency, the changing nature of the U.S., and the no-holds-barred methods of Barack Obama, the advantage is still all Obama’s — and almost all the polls show that. And we should remember that fact rather than be told simply how bad Obama is.
2. The Supreme Court. I have read all the exegeses of why Justice Roberts voted to tip the court in favor of upholding Obamacare. I do not here care to comment on the case other than to note that the most radical piece of social legislation since the Great Society is now the law of the land. It may prove a boomerang in November; there may be some clever means to detect in Roberts’ decision a path for upholding judicial conservatism. In fact, there may be all sorts of hidden good news. But for now, the decision is a huge victory for Barack Obama — how can it be any other?
Other depressing notes: the Court is now 4 liberals, 2 swings, and 3 conservatives. Is this really the age of a conservative Supreme Court? But more importantly, the elite culture in the New York-Washington corridor is a force multiplier. It defines liberal blinkered orthodoxy on the Court as “open-minded” and “moderately liberal” in contrast to conservative orthodoxy that is “reactionary” and “closed-minded.” In other words, there is always more pressure on a conservative than a liberal to be thought sober and judicious by joining the other side. A liberal justice joining the conservative side almost never happens. Because of the great decision of our age, Justice Roberts will be revered by the media-academia-arts-government nexus as the new Earl Warren, even as conservatives rightly respect his right of independent judicial review. And, as Roberts knew, had he voted otherwise to reject Obamacare, he would now be reviled by the Left in the manner of Robert Bork, while, without fanfare, being simply acknowledged as a fair and circumspect judge by conservatives.
3. Obamacare. Obamacare is a disaster. Imagine DMV supervisors, TSA employees, someone like an Eric Holder running the show, and taking a number at the emergency room, and you have the formula of dealing with your rendezvous with a tumor or heart attack. Most Americans don’t want it. But be prepared: we will hear that if it were not for courageous Barack Obama and Justice Roberts, then conservatives would have taken 25-year-old Johnny off his parents’ plan and thrown him in the street, or denied all treatment to Linda with breast cancer — as if neither could find health care without a massive government bureaucracy. Remember again: this was a plan that was sold as a mandate, not a tax; then argued by the administration before the Supreme Court as a tax; then found constitutional on the basis that it was a tax; and now defended on the basis that it is suddenly once again not a tax. Adolescents, not the president of the United States, make it up as they go along — mandate, tax, penalty, fee, etc.
4. The Arizona decision. How is the court rejection of the Arizona law good news? Yes, I know they upheld the right to ask for proper ID when there is good suspicion of a possible crime, but that is merely a reflection that what thirty years ago was a common-sense given is now considered a landmark breakthrough.
Factor in the president’s circumvention of Congress to grant de facto election-year amnesty to about a million illegal aliens, and examine where we are: it is illegal for a state to try to enhance federal immigration law enforcement, but it is still apparently legal for a municipality to declare itself immune from federal immigration law by granting sanctuary to illegal aliens. Arizona “broke” the law by trying to enforce it; the president did not break the law by trying to circumvent it. The former passed a law through a majority vote, the latter shredded it by fiat. In some sense, there is no federal immigration law anymore — only what Barack Obama on any given day determines is politically expedient to enforce or not enforce. If one million can be exempted today by presidential decree, why not five million next year and another six the year after? The Arizona border or Parlier is a long way from Martha’s Vineyard and Sidwell Friends.
5. Fast and Furious. The Republicans may find themselves pursuing the moral and ethical high ground right into a political quagmire, reminiscent of once trying to convince the American people that a sitting president cannot lie under oath with impunity, even as the country sided with Bill Clinton without worry that he had been serviced in the Oval Office by his own in-house intern.
From the little that we know, Eric Holder at best knowingly presented false information to a congressional committee, and at worst also oversaw a harebrained scheme that led to several deaths (among them one and maybe two Americans) and whose ultimate objective is still unclear — and did so as the chief law enforcement officer of the nation. If that stands, in some sense we are then reduced to a banana republic. That said, the Holder mess, in the campaign sense, may divert attention from the economy, will likely not proceed to any further action against Holder or new releases of documents until after the election, and allows Holder once again to play the race card. Unless something dramatic happens, the contempt vote will either not help the Republicans or likely distract them from the economy. That is not a reason to stop now, but only a warning once more of the long road ahead.
6. The Obama crises. We hear of defections in the black community. Does that mean from a 97% majority down to a 95.5% margin? The Latino community is unhappy? Does that translate into a lost 3% from 2008? Is he short of cash? Does that mean Obama will not quite reach $1 billion until late October? Given that Obama has polarized the country, the fact that purple-state Democrats up for reelection don’t want to be seen with Obama is understandable, but not necessarily a barometer of what Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia will do on Election Day.
What Does It All Mean?
None of us know what November brings. We all imagine the race will be far closer than 2008. We worry that eight years of this administration will institutionalize what we saw during the first four years. That said, every person worried about the direction of the country will have to vote, donate time or money, or offer public or private commentary. We are going to see things in September and October that we have not quite seen before in an election, as our modern Borgia pulls out all the stops to do whatever is necessary to win.
We have a president who was not truthful about his prior associates and pastor, raising taxes, the Bush-Cheney protocols he once demonized, and promises to follow the law. The law now is followed largely to the degree that it is judged most progressive for most people. On a mundane level, a president is up for reelection who, by common assent, made up almost all the key details in his own memoir, claimed on his own bio that he was born in Kenya, jokes with his middle finger on his chin, laughs about Predator assassination drones protecting his daughters, offers a double-entendre about a sex act with his wife, and links “BFD” T-shirts to his website. From the fundamental to the ridiculous, Obama is sui generis. After all, we have a man of the people in the White House who has set presidential records for golf outings and fat-cat fundraisers, while running on them/us class warfare — to the delight of 50% of the country.
Against all that, rationalizing recent conservative defeats is surely no way to learn from them — and learn from them we must.
M. Edwards: The Unraveling of government
Reply #446 on:
September 28, 2012, 05:04:53 AM »
Not sure what to make of this piece after one read, but I post it because it reads to me as a sincere effort to be thoughtful on a deeper level about what is going on.
Campaign Stops September 27, 2012, 11:49 pm7 Comments
The Unraveling of Government
By MICKEY EDWARDS
Frustrated over the inability of political leaders to find common ground on even the most pressing national issues, Americans have developed a long list of people or political practices to blame for the fact that government doesn’t seem to work anymore. But the real problem is something that’s not high on most such lists, something that’s far more crucial.
We’re electing the wrong people, they complain. There are no leaders any more. There’s too much money in politics. Too many corporations, labor unions, special interests and billionaires. Too many right-wingers, or left-wingers, in Congress, on television, on the Internet — and they’re all zealous and nasty. Too many Americans only talk to people who already agree with them. And so forth. Every observer has his or her own pet reason for the failure of the federal government to function.
If any attempt is made to assess the problem as a whole, each side complains about “false equivalence” and doubles down on blaming the opposition. It’s not that the villains they’ve identified don’t share in the blame, because they’ve all played a part in the unraveling of government. The problem, however, is much deeper than any of these individual elements: it’s the political system itself that is at fault. The problems with governance will never be solved until we turn that system upside down and start over.
While the United States is actually a Republic, with the attendant constitutional constraints on the powers of the majority, its political system is also based on a fundamental underlying democratic principle: that the people themselves will choose their leaders and thus indirectly determine the policies of their government. Because the federal government’s most important powers – to declare war, to establish tax policies, to create programs, to decide how much to spend on them, to approve treaties, to make the final decisions about who will head federal agencies or sit on the Supreme Court — are all Congressional powers, it is only by being able to select members of the Senate and the House of Representatives that the people are able to manage the levers of government.
Yet despite the repeated and urgent warnings of the Republic’s founders, we have created a system that seriously undermines that democratic principle and gives us instead a government that is unable to deal with even the most urgent problems because the people have been shoved aside in the pursuit of partisan advantage. In some ways our system has come to resemble those multi-party parliamentary systems in which the tail (relatively small groups of hard-liners) is able to wag the dog. What Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison all agreed on was the danger of creating political parties like the ones we have today, permanent factions that are engaged in a constant battle for advantage even if that means skewing election results, keeping candidates off the ballot, denying voters the right to true representation and “fixing” the outcome of legislative deliberations.
Associated Press Photo/Virginia Museum of Fine Arts “George Washington Addressing the Constitutional Convention,” Junius Brutus Stearns, 1856.
Let’s begin with the election process itself. In most states, party leaders have conspired to create “sore loser” laws that deny any place on the November ballot to a candidate who loses in a party primary or convention, no matter how few people participated. The two most egregious recent examples were former governor Mike Castle’s losing a spot on the Senate ballot in Delaware in 2010 because 30,000 people, in a state of nearly one million, voted for his primary opponent, and Utah, with a population of nearly three million, where Senator Robert Bennett was denied a place on the general election ballot that same year because a convention of 3,500 party activists denied him their endorsement.
This year, the same thing happened to Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who lost a primary to a man who vowed never to compromise. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch survived this year only by disavowing his own bipartisan credentials. Two incumbent Democratic House members, Jason Altmire and Tim Holden, both moderates, were tossed out of office by liberal activists in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primaries earlier this year, just as Senator Joe Lieberman, after having been his party’s vice-presidential nominee, was defeated in a Connecticut Democratic primary in 2006. (Because Connecticut is one of the states that doesn’t have a “sore loser” law, Lieberman was able to run as an Independent in the general election where his re-election demonstrated that the primary results did not reflect the preferences of Connecticut voters.)
Because activists can use closed primaries to deny ballot access to people they deem insufficiently pure, the majority of voters — many of whom would prefer the candidates who have been eliminated — simply lose the ability to make that choice. Why we would allow parties in a democracy to limit voter choice is simply beyond me. The primary system was introduced by Progressives in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a reform to expand democracy and give voters a greater voice in the selection of public officials, not to squeeze voters out of the picture. If the goal is to send to Washington the preferred choice of the state’s voters (or a congressional district’s voters), all credible candidates should be allowed to appear on the ballot and all the voters, regardless of party, should be allowed to determine who will represent them.
Washington State (in 2006) and California (in 2010) woke up to this dramatically undemocratic system and enacted changes in their laws to create open primaries – every candidate on one ballot, all voters eligible to choose whomever they want. Every state should do the same thing. It is beyond comprehension that we who demand choice in everything we do willingly accept restrictions in the selection of the people who will decide whether we go to war, what taxes we will pay and what services government will provide.
It was the intention of the founders to ensure that our representatives were, in fact, representative. The Constitution specifically mandates that all Senators and Representatives be actual inhabitants of the states from which they are elected, with the idea being that they would be familiar with the interests and concerns of the voters and the voters would be familiar with the reputations of the candidates. But because political parties control the drawing of congressional districts, “representation” is very much an afterthought; what matters is creating an advantage for one’s party. Thus district lines are crazily shaped and urban Congressmen who have never spent a day on a farm become the “voice” of farmers whose interests they cannot effectively articulate.
This, in fact, happened in my own case after I became the first Republican elected to Congress from Oklahoma City since 1928 in a district that was nearly 75 percent Democratic; because Democrats controlled the state legislature they redrew my district as a large upside-down “L” running north from Oklahoma City to the Kansas border and then east almost to Arkansas. I had always lived in cities and suddenly I was charged with trying to adequately represent the interests of wheat farmers and cattle ranchers and small-town merchants. The idea that one’s Congressman is one’s “voice” at the table when laws are made has been completely demolished by party-controlled gerrymandering. There’s a solution for this, too: congressional redistricting takes place every 10 years after a national census, and more than a dozen states have now turned that responsibility over to nonpartisan and independent redistricting commissions; that’s a course every state should follow.
There’s more – cash poured into campaigns through “super PACs” controlled by long-time political party operatives, for example. But it’s important to look not just at the election process but also at what happens after the elections are completed.
After one brief moment when members of Congress are sworn in, all equally members in common of the United States Congress, the teams quickly divide for partisan battles over the Speakership, legislative rules and the margin of control to be exercised by the majority party on every committee and subcommittee. Committees (and the Congress itself, for that matter) function almost as side-by-side convenings of separate governments. House Speakers function not as non-partisan overseers of the legislative process but as party bosses. Committee members, ostensibly charged with careful consideration of legislative proposals, win their positions by promising to toe the party line. Staff members are at least as partisan as the members they serve.
On the House floor, Republicans and Democrats must speak from separate lecterns and when they step off the floor to use their phones, drink coffee or read newspapers, they do so in separate cloakrooms. That well-known center aisle is like the mighty Mississippi, a wide divide that extends through everything the Congress does. That is why on almost every major issue, from spending and taxes to Supreme Court nominations, almost all Republicans are on one side and almost all Democrats are on the other side.
Members of the president’s party see him not as the head of a separate branch of government, to be kept in check as the Constitution envisioned, but as their party leader whom they are required to protect. So much for the separation of powers. When combined, activist control of party primaries and a commitment by party leaders to wage a perpetual struggle for political advantage have created an environment in which intransigence is rewarded and cooperation is punished, making the bipartisan compromises of the past almost impossible.
It doesn’t have to be this way, either. The Speaker of the House need not be partisan; in fact, the Constitution doesn’t require that he or she even be a member of Congress. It would be possible for House members to select a respected community leader – a university president, perhaps, or the head of a nonprofit organization – to guide the consideration of legislative proposals. House and Senate committees could be staffed with nonpartisan professionals. Committee membership can be chosen by drawing or seniority, not by virtue of a pledge to blindly follow party dictates.
Here’s the hard part. The dysfunction – the inability to consider ideas that emanate from “the other side”, the unwillingness to compromise, the constant maneuvering for party advantage – derives directly from the power we have given those parties to shape who sits in office and how they function. And every single piece of that rotten puzzle can be undone by the people themselves. Nearly half the states allow for initiative petitions, by means of which voters themselves can change election and redistricting laws (to be clear, I don’t favor the use of citizen initiatives to set policy; it’s a power that should be reserved to setting the rules of the game, the process by which lawmakers are chosen).
Voters must remember that the ultimate power rests in their hands. This is not a spectator sport; our system of constrained and mediated democracy requires an engaged citizenry, willing to confront elected officials and demand the changes that are required. To keep their offices, legislators must return home to face their constituents and those same voters can demand changes in the procedures that have bogged government down in recrimination, vitriol and stalemate.
Our current system, with parties controlling who gets on the ballot, what districts they run in, and what happens to large amounts of potential campaigns funds, rewards incivility and discourages cooperation. If we allow that system to continue, it is we who must share the blame for a government that can no longer function.
Mickey Edwards, who served in the House from 1977 to 1993 as the representative of Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, is the author of “The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans.”
Reply #447 on:
November 09, 2012, 08:41:59 AM »
By Charles Krauthammer, Nov 09, 2012 12:24 AM EST
The Washington Post Published: November 8
They lose and immediately the chorus begins. Republicans must change or die. A rump party of white America, it must adapt to evolving demographics or forever be the minority.
The only part of this that is even partially true regards Hispanics. They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example).
The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back.
For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement.
I’ve always been of the “enforcement first” school, with the subsequent promise of legalization. I still think it’s the better policy. But many Hispanics fear that there will be nothing beyond enforcement. So, promise amnesty right up front. Secure the border with guaranteed legalization to follow on the day the four border-state governors affirm that illegal immigration has slowed to a trickle.
Imagine Marco Rubio advancing such a policy on the road to 2016. It would transform the landscape. He’d win the Hispanic vote. Yes, win it. A problem fixable with a single policy initiative is not structural. It is solvable.
The other part of the current lament is that the Republican Party consistently trails among blacks, young people and (unmarried) women. (Republicans are plus-7 among married women.) But this is not for reasons of culture, identity or even affinity. It is because these constituencies tend to be more politically liberal — and Republicans are the conservative party.
The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence.
Additionally, warn the doomsayers, Republicans must change not just ethnically but ideologically. Back to the center. Moderation above all!
More nonsense. Tuesday’s exit polls showed that by an eight-point margin (51-43), Americans believe that government does too much. And Republicans are the party of smaller government. Moreover, onrushing economic exigencies — crushing debt, unsustainable entitlements — will make the argument for smaller government increasingly unassailable.
So, why give it up? Republicans lost the election not because they advanced a bad argument but because they advanced a good argument not well enough. Romney ran a solid campaign, but he is by nature a Northeastern moderate. He sincerely adopted the new conservatism but still spoke it as a second language.
More Ford ’76 than Reagan ’80, Romney is a transitional figure, both generationally and ideologically. Behind him, the party has an extraordinarily strong bench. In Congress — Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, (the incoming) Ted Cruz and others. And the governors — Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, plus former governor Jeb Bush and the soon-retiring Mitch Daniels. (Chris Christie is currently in rehab.)
They were all either a little too young or just not personally prepared to run in 2012. No longer. There may not be a Reagan among them, but this generation of rising leaders is philosophically rooted and politically fluent in the new constitutional conservatism.
Ignore the trimmers. There’s no need for radical change. The other party thinks it owns the demographic future — counter that in one stroke by fixing the Latino problem. Do not, however, abandon the party’s philosophical anchor. In a world where European social democracy is imploding before our eyes, the party of smaller, more modernized government owns the ideological future.
Romney is a good man who made the best argument he could, and nearly won. He would have made a superb chief executive, but he (like the Clinton machine) could not match Barack Obama in the darker arts of public persuasion.
The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism.
Republicans: No whimpering. No whining. No reinvention when none is needed. Do conservatism but do it better. There’s a whole generation of leaders ready to do just that.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #448 on:
November 09, 2012, 01:01:21 PM »
Elevating Ryan or changing out Boehner is deck chair material, as GM said, not crucial like policy stands, stalemate positions and messaging. Ryan will be out front with or without a promotion. I don't know what his future role will be. He did not deliver Wisconsin or any other state; VP choices rarely do. I give Boehner (and Ryan) credit for the what the House passed the last two years and Boehner and his team credit for getting everyone reelected in the face of 10% congressional approval. No one on the right, left or center is going to approve of the stalemate of divided government, and yet they chose at least 2 more years of it. Boehner isn't the best face for the national party but neither was Denny Hastert - or Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright, Pelosi etc for the other side.
Republicans in the House ran on a clear record and a clear agenda and they won. Pres. Obama ran mostly away setting an agenda except to keep his failed policies in place, and he won. House Republicans have as much of a mandate to stand strong on policy positions than Pres. Obama.
The two part question over the past 4 years was how to win back power and then what policies we will need to turn this around if we win the election. Now the choice is simpler, cave or honor on our core principles.
Krauthammer is right that immigration reform is an area to consider. Take a key issue off the table before the next Presidential cycle. Gay marriage might be another. Rape abortion too!
But the size and scope of government is a place where voters expect Republicans to draw the line. The size of government needs to be limited to the lowest level of what all three participants can agree, House, Senate and President. That makes the House the crucial determinant.
The President isn't giving up powers that are uniquely his like Supreme Court nominations; the House should not give up powers that are uniquely theirs like the origination of all bills for raising revenue:
House Republicans are more free now to exert their rightful powers than they were over the past two years. Maybe they will get accused of refusing to let Democrats spend beyond our means. So what. Maybe they lose the House next. So what, that is not worse than not performing their constitutional responsibilities now.
Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed
Reply #449 on:
November 09, 2012, 06:36:55 PM »
Boener played the Rep hand very badly IMHO with regard to what became the sequester. HUGE error IMHO-- and he looks like the kind of Rep that people dislike
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