Thursday, January 31, 2013

Media bias: it’s like death and taxes.

Liberal media bias seems a permanent fixture of the American landscape. It was on open display Sunday, when “60 Minutes” served up a series of powder-puff questions to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton,  the Benghazi debacle’s two most responsible leaders, while ignoring the super-obvious “What happened?”

Conservatives are outraged, and even some liberals (e.g., the “Daily Beast’s” Kirsten Powers) as well.

Here’s the conservative “Big Journalism’s” John Nolte:
CBS News's Steve Kroft, Obama's go-to guy, . . . had all kinds of time with both Hillary and Obama Sunday night. But instead of  being a journalist, Kroft chose to be Oprah. This wasn't an interview, it was a thirty-minute "Hillary 2016" commercial. . . once upon a time no journalist would go this far to flak for any Democrat. [But i]n our [current] media environment -- where the media sees Obama as a WMD against the GOP and traditional American culture, the message has been sent that nothing should be done that might damage the president politically.
Nolte says, “once upon a time.” Actually, "once upon a time" was 17+ years ago, before December 1995 when Newt Gingrich attempted to shut down the federal government. At that point, the media dropped their adversarial role, decided they had to come to Bill Clinton’s rescue, so dove into the tank with brother Bubba. The media subsequently stuck by him through the 1998-99 Monica Lewinsky scandal and have never looked back since.

We earlier quoted the conservative Weekly Standard’s Jay Cost's summary of how the legacy media works today:
The modern press is at times sycophantic of the incumbent president and at other times trying to mimic Woodward and Bernstein; it all depends on which party is in office. With a Democratic president cut from the same cloth as they, many journalists have done everything in their power to set the national conversation in ways that favor Obama.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Louisiana’s Jindal Colors an American Dream

We’ve heard from Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and, on immigration, Marco Rubio (R-FL). Now Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), in his recent address to the Republican National Committee, offers his prescription on how to move the GOP--and the country--forward:

conservatives must dedicate our energies and our efforts to growing America, to growing the American economy, to showing the younger generations how America can win the future.

That path does not lie in government.

Our objective is to grow the private sector. We need to focus our efforts on ideas to grow the American economy, not the government economy.

If you take nothing else away from what I say today, please understand this – We must not become the party of austerity. We must become the party of growth.

If our end goal is to simply better manage the disaster that is the federal government, count me out.

Democrats . . . are the party of economic contraction, austerity and less from the economy. The Republican Party is the party of “more,” the party that creates “more from the economy.”

As Margaret Thatcher famously observed – first you must win the argument, then you can win the elections.

We must lay out the contrast between liberalism’s top-down government solutions and our Bottom-Up real world philosophy.

We believe in creating abundance, not redistributing scarcity. we should stand for radically simplifying our tax code – . . . to get Washington out of the way.

It shouldn’t be complicated for a taxpayer to fill out his taxes…or to live his life without fear of the tax consequences of his or her choices.

When it comes to education — . . . let us feature the success of child-centered education solutions that meet the needs of the digital age, education where the dollars follow the child.

Here are seven things . . .

1. We must show what the future can look like with the free market policies that we believe in.

2. We must compete for every single vote. The 47% and the 53%.

3. We should pursue [a colorblind society] with vigor. The first step in getting the voters to like you is to demonstrate that you like them.

4. We must stop being the stupid party. . . Republicans [who] damage the brand . . . with offensive and bizarre comments.

5. We need to trust the smarts of the American people. . . willing to provide details in describing our views.

6. We must quit “big.” We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear.

7. We need an equal opportunity society, one in which government does not [pick] winners and losers. Our government must pursue a level playing field. At present, government is the un-leveler of the playing field.

[In conclusion,] unleash a new dawning of the American Dream – the dream my parents came to America for – a dream of growth, prosperity, and equal opportunity.  

Note: That’s 3 out of 3, since Cruz and Rubio also stress their immigrant parents’ dream.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Liberals’ Bleak Future for America?

"Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly color. I'm so glad I'm a Beta."

-- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Chapter 2

In college in the early ‘60s I read Brave New World, Huxley’s bleak vision of the future written in 1931. The book, with its five classes fixed at birth, seemed to describe the Soviet Union--a well-protected inner party (nomenklatura) at the top overseeing an outer party, then workers (the favored proletariat), then peasants, and finally the gulag at the bottom. The U.S.S.R. was in those days the powerful alternative to a free Western society, and Huxley had foreseen that alternative.

Huxley wasn’t picturing the 1960s U.S.; his book was a warning not to head in Russia’s direction. But that was then. Fifty years later, I’m unsettled by the parallels between Brave New World and the society Walter Russell Mead--himself no liberal--believes is what liberals now envision for America:
A conventional. . . view holds that the death of industrial society means the death of the mass middle class. When millions of people can’t make a living “making stuff” in factories anymore, wages for the unskilled will fall. America will be increasingly polarized between a small group of high skilled creative professionals and a larger group scavenging a living by serving them: mowing their lawns, catering their parties and so on.
For . . . liberals, the programmatic consequences are obvious: tax the productive private sector in order to fund a dignified life for those in education, health care and especially for the large majority of the population without the skills or the creativity that would qualify them to join the productive minority.
It turns out that [today’s liberals] believe that differences of talent and ambition ensure that the world will always be divided between a creative minority and an inert majority, and that the goal of social policy isn’t to eliminate that ineradicable difference, but to ensure that the process of recruitment into the elite is . . . purely meritocratic.
Authority must rest in the hands of the qualified; those who score poorly on aptitude tests, don’t do well in classes and/or lack extraordinary beauty, artistic talent or ambition must resign themselves to taking direction from the natural aristocracy that a well ordered society has brought so smoothly to the fore.
In addition to Mead’s analysis, there is this disturbing fact uncovered by Richard Vedder of the conservative American Enterprise Institute:
“If today the country had the same proportion of persons of working age employed as it did in 2000, the U.S. would have almost 14 million more people contributing to the economy.”
It’s wrong, truly wrong, that 14 million people who should be working are unemployed. It’s a tragedy hardly mitigated by government’s caring for them at some reduced level. At least Brave New World’s Deltas and even Mead’s gardeners have the dignity of employment.

We should aspire to an American opportunity society that recognizes all are “created equal” with an equal right to pursue happiness, not a Soviet-like caste system disguised as a meritocracy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

No good answers for a culture gone bad.

"conservatives have learned to succeed in politics[, but] politics itself has failed. And politics has failed because of the collapse of the culture. The culture we are living in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics."

--Conservative activist Paul Weyrich (1999)

That Weyrich quote comes from conservative Matt Lewis, writing in The Week. Lewis adds that “conservatives have made a shocking discovery: They are the ones in danger of appearing out of touch with middle America.” Lewis views the development as dangerous, because as Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed (and we noted here), "The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society."

Lewis goes on to say:
In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. . . our society became coarser, more permissive, less traditional, and more socially liberal. And while politicians won elections, our young people turned to Hollywood for guidance. For every Republican elected, there were 10 films or songs (many of them quite good, actually) selling sex, drugs, and violence. Of course, this all comes down to that clichéd line about the breakdown of the family unit. It's clichéd because it's true.
Lewis then quotes conservative Erick Erickson arguing, "Republicans should turn their attention toward — family." Erickson himself was quoting Rick Santorum from the 2012 Republican primary, who said:
The bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing.
Over 40% of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it's so much harder to succeed economically? It's five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes. We can have limited government, lower tax — we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything's not going to be fine.
In Lewis’ opinion:
Strong families are the cure for much of what ails us. You pick the problem, and stronger families would probably render the solution moot. Consider a recent debate: We can put warning labels on violent games and movies, but that won't replace mom and dad being involved in their children's lives and being aware of what they are watching.
Lewis concludes, “Conservatives have largely lost the culture, and it can't be won back by passing some landmark piece of legislation. Instead, it's going to be a long, hard slog.”

There is no question Democrats and Obama are lined up behind Hollywood’s culture. When Obama recently gave us his anti-gun policies and recommendations, Peggy Noonan, in the Wall Street Journal, rightly focused on what Obama excluded:
He had nothing to say about America's culture of violence—its movies, TV shows and video games [except] there will be a study. [W]hen it comes to challenging Hollywood—where he traditionally gets support, and from which he has taken great amounts of money for past campaigns and no doubt will for future libraries—he doesn't seem to think he has to do the right thing. He doesn't even have to talk about it.
But conservative Mark Steyn won’t settle for blaming Obama. He, like Lewis, sees how hard any “fix” will be in our time of liberal culture triumph. Steyn writes in Commentary:
The trouble for conservatives is we have no good cop. That’s to say, we have no positive presence in the broader cultural space where real people actually live. We have all the talk-radio shows and cable networks we need, and the rest of the country is happy to leave us walled up in those redoubts. But culture trumps politics, and not just in the movies and pop songs, grade schools and mainline churches, but increasingly in the boardrooms, too. Instead of giving your hard-earned dollars to help drag some finger-in-the-windy squish with an R after his name over the finish line every other November, conservatives need to start fighting on the turf that matters.
Barack Obama is . . . not the exotic other, he’s all too typical.
Postscript: For those like me who generalize about Hollywood’s culture, there is “ZeroDarkThirty,” an expensive, violent (true to Hollywood here), superb film by Kathryn Bigelow (no conservative, but snubbed for a “Best Director” Oscar nomination anyway), with first-rate acting that honors working people doing their jobs extremely well, while barely mentioning the president who from afar oversaw their success. What a surprise such a film got made. What’s no surprise: Hollywood’s majority finds the movie’s ambiguity troubling.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Go for Unconditional Surrender: “Pulverize” the GOP

“There’s a moment of opportunity now that’s important. What’s frustrating is that we don’t have a political system or an opposition party worthy of the opportunity.”

--Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s communications director

"The president who came into office speaking in lofty terms about bipartisanship and cooperation can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP. If he wants to transform American politics, he must go for the throat. . . Obama’s only remaining option is to pulverize.”

--John Dickerson, liberal CBS political director, in “Slate” 

To these quotes from Obama’s side, add this analysis from conservative Peter Wehner, writing in Commentary:
You are either with Obama–or you are with the forces of cruelty and bigotry. In Obama’s world, there is no middle ground. He is the Voice of Reason; those who oppose him are the voice of the mob. They are the ones who (to cite [the inaugural address]) mistake absolutism for principle, substitute spectacle for politics, and treat name-calling as reasoned debate. . .And for all of his self-perceived similarities with Abraham Lincoln, he is the antithesis of Lincoln when it comes to grace, a charitable spirit and a commitment to genuine reconciliation. Mr. Obama is, at his core, a divider. He seems to relish it.
We have several times acknowledged that “Politics is a continuation of war by other means." I wrote it and I meant it. But even I failed to imagine that because World War II, our last good war, ended with the allies settling for no less than Germany’s and Japan’s unconditional surrender, the modern-day political analogy for that war might be a call to--in House speaker John Boehner’s words--"annihilate" the GOP opposition (picture).  But lo, that very goal is now before us.

In 1972, I did understand in similar terms what Nixon was aiming to do to Democrats. As commander-in-chief, Nixon in his war in Indochina had the full powers of the office at his disposal, not only the U.S. war machine but also the CIA with its range of “dirty tricks” capabilities. Yet Nixon’s most important enemies were domestic, not foreign, and that darned Constitution prevented him from going after them with a similar set of tools. Thus, 1972’s secret Watergate attempt to bug the Democratic party headquarters.

Perhaps in part because the media have Obama’s back while Nixon’s major enemies began with the media, Obama has more freedom to go after Republicans without openly breaking the law. We recently showed how organization, concentrated amounts of money, and a quasi-legal negative campaign helped turn the 2012 Senate race in lightly-populated Montana from GOP red to Democratic blue.

To capture the U.S. House, and thereby regain total control of Washington, Democrats need only win the equivalent of 11 “Montanas” in 2014 (Montana has 1 million people, House districts average 650,000, Democrats need 17 more seats to capture the House, 17 x 650,000 = 11 million, or in population terms, 11 Montanas).

In the 2012 Montana Senate race, both parties together spent $50 million, one of the most expensive per-voter races in the country. If Democrats alone, therefore, spend $500 million to contest vigorously the, say, weakest 25 House seats held by Republicans, total victory is possible.

And for Democrats, raising $500 million is nothing. Obama has kept his campaign organization alive, an organization that raised $1.1 billion last year, has money left over, has a supporter data base of 12 million e-mail addresses, and is headed by Jim Messina, a Montana University graduate who oversaw the Montana senate campaign mentioned above that could be a prototype for what will happen in 25 GOP House districts nationwide.

Consider these additional facts:

1. Though Republicans have 16 more seats than the minimum needed to control the House, Democrats in 2012 captured 1.1 million more votes total in House races than did Republicans.

2. There are 16 House Republicans representing districts Obama carried.

No wonder Boehner fears “annihilation.”

Friday, January 18, 2013

Surprise: Washington Post dishonesty on immigration reform.

The very day I posted my “Marco Rubio Steps Up on Immigration,” the Washington Post published an editorial identically titled, “Sen. Rubio steps up on immigration.” Amazing.

Actually, the “WP” writes from a different perspective, that of the Democratic Party. Where I identify Rubio as a leading contender for the 2016 GOP nomination, the “WP” writes, “some GOP activists have invested presidential hopes” in him. When I say he’s taking the lead on immigration reform, the “WP” says he “has seized on the issue of immigration, hoping to stake a claim to leadership in the coming national debate and to revive Republicans’ dismal standing among Hispanics.”

But then the “WP” hits Rubio with a poison dart when it writes: “What’s striking about his plan” is its marked similarity to “President Obama’s own approach.” After that another poison dart: “nothing in Mr. Rubio’s proposal is terribly novel; it’s a tweaked version of what many Democrats have wanted for years.”

Conservative Republicans, whom I said will have difficulty with Rubio’s path to citizenship for illegal aliens, will be even more suspicious now that the liberal Washington Post has “endorsed” Rubio’s plan. In case conservatives still don’t get it, the “WP” gratuitously goes on to say,
Conservative Republicans in Congress and statehouses, in thrall to radio talk show bloviators, have vilified any solution short of mass deportation as a sellout that rewards scofflaws. On immigration, nativist extremism infected the Republican mainstream years ago. Disinfection will not occur simply because a freshman senator has crooked his finger and asked the party to follow.
Let’s be clear. For Rubio, who needs conservative support first before going after Democrats, the “WP” is seeking to be as unhelpful as humanly possible.  

Comment: The Washington Post editorial offers early insight into the war Democrats will wage against any Republican effort to capture Hispanic support. The “WP” is deliberately misleading on immigration reform. Democratic unions don’t like either Rubio’s guest worker proposal or his expanded visas for skilled foreign workers. Activist Democratic Hispanic groups will fight hard against his obstacle-filled path to citizenship for illegals, and will quietly undermine efforts, as recommended by Rubio, to seal the border and expand employer verification. Democratic opposition to immigration reform is why no reform bill passed in 2009-10, when Democrats totally and completely controlled Congress.

The “WP” has no interest in telling the truth, however, about Democratic opposition to immigration reform, if it can instead--by selling Rubio’s plan as a Trojan horse for Democrats--encourage conservative Republicans to kill reform first.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Marco Rubio Steps Up on Immigration

“The party is hungry for a leader who can unite us.  .   . Addition not subtraction wins elections. I’m focused on 2013 and 2014, but the more Rubio shows he can unite our party, the more interesting he will be to people thinking about 2016.”

--Republican strategist Haley Barbour, co-chair of the GOP’s 2012 campaign review and blueprint for the future

Marco Rubio is most likely to contend for the 2016 Republican nomination for president, and may be the early favorite. It helps to have Haley Barbour already offering him advice.

Cuban-American Rubio, senator from our by-2016 third-largest state and the most competitive state in 2012, is above all the potential face of a party that desperately needs minority--especially Hispanic--votes. He offers the possibility of providing Republicans the additional votes they need in 2016 in the manner minority candidate Barack Obama offered Democrats new voters in 2008.

But Rubio can’t just be a “brown” face. He needs accomplishments. Most especially, he needs to lead on immigration reform. And in that effort, he will face obstacles and frustrations every step of the way from Democrats, determined to stop the Hispanic’s political advance. It already happened last Summer, when Rubio attempted to float a compromise “Dream Act” proposal that would allow the children of (mostly Hispanic) illegals to remain in the U.S.

We are facing a new situation, in that Republicans did nothing to stop Obama during 2008 Democratic primaries, while Democrats will go all-out to block Rubio from achieving the 2016 GOP nomination. Still, Rubio has to try to lead, and to work with Democrats. And I believe he is off to a good start with his comprehensive immigration reform proposal, floated in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal.

Here’s a summary of what I call Rubio’s “5-point” immigration reform plan (the quotes are all Rubio’s words):
  •  "modernize" legal immigration. America caps the number of visas for skilled workers and favors the relatives of people already here. "I'm a big believer in family-based immigration. But I don't think that in the 21st century we can continue to have an immigration system where only 6.5% of people who come here, come here based on labor and skill. We have to move toward merit and skill-based immigration." 
  • Most of the 1.6 million agricultural laborers in America are illegal immigrant Hispanics. American produce couldn't be picked without them. The number and type of visas provided through a guest-worker program should be sufficient to meet the need for permanent or seasonal farm workers. "The goal is to give American agriculture a reliable work force and to give protection to these workers as well. When someone is [undocumented] they're vulnerable to being exploited." 
  • A national E-Verify law, already adopted in several states, would require employers to check the legal status of prospective workers against a federal database. Modern technology ought to let employers easily check whether their hires are in the country legally. Enforcement is meant not to "punish" but to provide employers a "safe haven.” As for the border, "we know what we need to do to gain more operational control" by investing in people and infrastructure. 
  •  Regarding illegal immigrants already here, "they would have to come forward. They would have to undergo a background check." Anyone who committed a serious crime would be deported. "They would be fingerprinted. . . They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove they've been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay." The waiting time for a green card "would have to be long enough to ensure that it's not easier to do it this way than it would be the legal way. But it can't be indefinite either.” 
  •  Rubio makes an exception for the over one million younger illegals, along the lines of the Dream Act. People who came here with their illegal parents should move toward naturalization "in a more expedited manner than the rest of the population.” 
Will Rubio’s proposals generate opposition from conservative Republicans? The path to citizenship for illegals is his most controversial element, though Rubio’s list of hurdles that population would face will on the other side arouse fierce opposition from Hispanic lobby groups and Democrats anxious to bring his program down. Many of Rubio’s other proposals seem mainstream Republican, in fact recommended recently by the Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott-Roth as part of her path to economic growth.

Go Rubio.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Getting it right: it’s economic growth, stupid!

The problem:

“The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

--Thomas Sowell, Hoover Institution, Stanford

The solution:

“The role of economic growth in advanced societies is increasingly to satisfy the many claims from different groups. People can pursue their self-interest without harming the common good. . . we should . . . strive for faster economic growth.” [emphasis added]

--Robert Samuelson, Washington Post 

Economic growth is the key to America’s future. And it’s not only conservatives who think so. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has just written:
In his book The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, the Harvard economist Benjamin Friedman argues that periods of economic growth have been essential to American political progress; periods of economic prosperity were periods of greater social, political and religious harmony and tolerance. [More recently, Ben] Friedman . . . wondered aloud whether we’re not now entering a reverse cycle, “in which our absence of growth is delivering political paralysis, and the political paralysis preserves the absence of growth.” [emphasis added]
Tom Friedman wants big government and economic growth. He’s part of a dying breed. Most “growth firsters” are anti-big government, convinced a too-big, debt fueled leviathan is killing economic progress. The Paul Krugman-massive-government types believe the more government spends, the more likely we are to have economic growth. But they look out of touch with the facts: government is bigger than ever in the U.S. and Europe, yet the economy is stalled in the U.S. and sinking into recession in Europe.

Big government or growth? Michael Barone, in the Washington Examiner, argues we have to move away from big government:
welfare state arrangements that once seemed solid are on the path to unsustainability. Entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- are threatening to gobble up the whole government and much of the private sector, as well. Lifetime employment by one big company represented by one big union is a thing of the past. People who counted on corporate or public sector pensions are seeing them default. . . Walter Russell Mead calls this [failing structure] the blue state model.
David Boaz, in the libertarian Reason, believes “countries relying more fully on property rights and market exchange vastly outperform state-directed economies.” But in the U.S., he writes, we are moving in the opposite direction:
big government has been chugging right along. Federal spending has doubled in the past decade, and the national debt has tripled. The Supreme Court just upheld a vast expansion of federal control over health care. Washington is working overtime to sign up more food stamp recipients, and it has actually taken ownership of such once-proud companies as General Motors and AIG.
Jim Geraghty, in the New York Daily News, tells us we don’t have a real handle on how bad unemployment is today:
[PBS’s] Paul Solman believes that the long-term unemployed — those who have stopped looking for a year or more, but say they want a job, a figure reaching about 7 million — should be included in the public definition of unemployed, as should the “discouraged workers,” those looking for work sometime in the past year but has stopped looking for work. Throw in those working part-time who want full-time work and cannot find it, and our calculation of America’s “unemployed” booms from 12.1 million to an ungodly 27 million.
Yuval Levin, in the conservative National Review, describes Republicans as anxious to dump to status quo in favor of market-driven incentives that help the vulnerable along with others:
the Democrats want more money so that the entitlement system doesn’t have to be reformed, while the Republicans want to reform the entitlement system so that the government doesn’t have to take more of the country’s money or take up even more of the economy.
For the Democrats, the policy imperative now is the consolidation and defense of the liberal welfare state, and especially its defense from the consequences of its own fiscal collapse. With Obamacare enacted, they are basically done building.
For the Republicans, the policy imperative is to reform our governing institutions through ideas that use the market economy (rather than fighting it) and therefore allow for major savings and for enabling free and responsible choices while protecting the vulnerable. . . They seek to offer a vision of effective but limited government beyond the welfare state.
That’s not the direction Obama’s moving, according to Andrew Klavan in the conservative City Journal. Klavan writes that “Obama has been more or less plain to see[--a] product of the anti-American academic left, committed to transforming U.S. capitalism into a social-democratic system like Sweden’s.”

Peter Suderman, in Reason, gives Obama credit for identifying the problem, but not the solution. According to Suderman,
Obama had Americans pegged. They were tired of politics as usual, tired of the endless cynical squabbling of the two parties. But the president’s solution was the opposite of what they actually wanted: not a single, unified story to replace the two competing narratives, but a flowering of individual narratives—an independence from politics rather than a greater connection with it.
Certainly independence from big government. Joel Kotkin, an ex-Democrat who views with increasing alarm California government’s growth at the expense of the private sector, writes in the Orange County Register:
California needs policies that can boost economic growth in . . . construction, agriculture, manufacturing and energy – [areas] with the best prospects for creating good, high-paying jobs for both blue- and white-collar Californians.
“boost economic growth.” Amen.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Republican “Hope”

Democrats, as we saw, think what’s wrong with the country is Republicans.The GOP wants to upend our perfectly acceptable status quo big government better people at the top more like Europe every day guided by Hollywood’s values care for the afflicted social welfare state.

Republicans see it differently. The economy’s not working, people need jobs, jobs come from the private sector, not government, a free market rests upon a population that wants jobs, values hard work and family, and wants success enough to postpone gratification for the sake of their children; people with hope.

So how do Republicans hope to arrive at our “shining city upon a hill”?  

Achieve sobriety.

“it would be useful to know how firmly the people believe in the discharge of each of modern government’s many, many responsibilities. Firmly enough to demand it, or firmly enough to pay for it? [S]tatesmanship in the 21st century [means] to mold public sentiment to incorporate . . . sobriety, undoing the impress that 80 years of New Deal-Great Society wishful thinking has made.” [emphasis added]

--William Voegeli, Claremont Review of Books

“Deficit spending once was largely for investments — building infrastructure, winning wars — which benefited future generations, so government borrowing appropriately shared the burden with those generations. Now, however, continuous borrowing burdens future generations in order to finance current consumption.

“Democrats — you know: the people respectful of evidence and science — even rejected a more accurate measurement of the cost of living that would slightly slow increases in myriad government benefits. Accuracy will be sacrificed to liberalism’s agenda of government growth. . . Democrats are ardent in embracing decadent democracy. This consists not just of infantilism — refusing to will the means for the ends one has willed — but also of willing an immoral means: conscripting the wealth of future generations.

“economists Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane explain . . . ‘Our politicians are acting rationally [but] politically rational behavior is now fiscally perverse.’ Both parties are responding to powerful electoral incentives to neither raise taxes nor cut spending. Hence, ‘the clash over raising the debt limit that gripped Washington during the summer of 2011 was just the beginning, not the end, of our fiscal woes.’”

--George Will, Washington Post

Will places his faith in “a critical mass of Republicans” who reject “politically rational” behavior. They have “a different rationale” for being in politics.  

Embrace the future.

“No economy will [grow] that is as over-committed as this one is to the myth of the service-industry economy, in which too few people actually add value to anything. 10% of the economy goes to the legal cartel and 7% to overages in medical costs (compared with the costs in such prosperous democracies as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom, whose health-care systems are at least as good as the American one): That’s about $2 trillion that goes to these eminent learned professions, beyond what other sophisticated and prosperous democracies spend, proportionately, on the law and medicine.”

--Conrad Black, National Review

“manage [well] health care and the transition from [the big industry, big government, big labor] blue [model America to an information technology-driven economy, then] other issues can be managed more easily and with less pain. If we fail on the health front and stay stuck in the dying blue model, the pension and Social Security problems become unmanageable.”

--Walter Russell Mead, American Interest 

Pass better laws.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute offers three ways Congress can boost our country's growth:

1. Corporate Tax Reform. America's corporate tax rate of 35% is the highest in the industrial world. Also, we are one of seven countries taxing worldwide income. Canada and Germany have a 15% rate; both only tax income generated within their borders. The U.S. taxes net income earned abroad, but only when it is "repatriated" here, meaning U.S. corporations now hold $1.7 trillion offshore. $765 billion could be poised for immediate return.

2. Immigration reform. Government should make it easier for foreigners to work here legally. Only 13% of green cards are granted for employment (most reunite families or provide political asylum). Since green card waits can last a decade, most skilled workers enter on temporary visas, then have to go home or remain illegally. Yet immigrants are entrepreneurial; immigrant founders of U.S. businesses since 2006 now employ 560,000 workers and generate $63 billion annually. In Silicon Valley, 44% of businesses have immigrant founders. And tough visa requirements discourage tourists who spend here. We also need legal visas for unskilled workers, especially in agriculture. Government auctions of work permits and visas could lower the budget deficit.

3. Regulatory Reform. Congressman Lamar Smith's (R-TX) Regulatory Accountability Act passed the House but was not considered by the Senate. His bill would require cost-benefit scrutiny of rules that add most to business costs, and require agencies to adopt the least costly option. While such a bill is unlikely to be enacted soon, the House oversight committee could hold hearings to make sure cabinet agencies issue cost-effective regulations, and Congress can hold up executive branch funding when dissatisfied with regulations.

David Malpass, writing in the Wall Street Journal, wants Congress to guide the president toward our better future:
the president made clear that his goal isn't to get business going again but instead to expand government and redistribute income. . . the current debt-limit statute gives most of the power to the president, allowing him to shut down parts of the government and blame holdouts until he gets enough votes for more debt. Rather than rejecting an increase in the debt limit, fiscal conservatives should offer a lasting remedy[--]a debt-to-GDP limit that, when exceeded, would give the president the power to underspend congressional appropriations and to propose fast-track reductions in entitlements—but would also require him to make monthly reports to the public on excess spending and prohibit raises for government employees making over $100,000.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Our Republican “Problem”

Did you see the recent article by Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of the libertarian Reason? Welch is upset that liberal “fact checkers” rarely check Barack Obama’s “facts.” And fail to do so, while claiming to be fact-driven.

Welch writes:
If there was one overarching journalistic theme of the 2012 election, it was the alleged Republican war on science, math, and basic facts, as called out by a newly emboldened political press. . . New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan in September [attacked] the “false balance” of “giving equal weight to both sides of a story, regardless of an established truth on one side.”
“Let’s Just Say it: Republicans Are the Problem” . . . was the headline on an April Washington Post op-ed piece by longtime Beltway think tankers Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, adapted from their book It’s Even Worse Than It Looks. These Washington insiders, after decades of evenhanded analysis, had finally seen enough. “The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics.”
And Mr. Welch, the surprise here is?  Shouldn’t we “Just Say it: Republicans Are the Problem”? The national elite knows Democratic-controlled government represents the best vehicle for imposing their intellectual will on America. If you believe in Plato’s Republic, if you believe our betters should rule over the rest of us--as do academics, BosWash high achievers, the media, Hollywood scriptwriters, lawyers, the non-profits, virtually the entire credentialed national elite--then of course you want Democrats to run the country.

In the elite’s view, the opposition--the productive economy, business--is busy trying to make money, money for themselves in excessive amounts. This is money that must continue flowing via taxes to the people trying to care for the “afflicted,” as in Chicago humorist Finley Peter Dunne’s (1867-1936), phrase "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Dunne’s words are the media’s (and Hollywood’s) unofficial motto. In their eyes, government rightly taxes the rich to support themselves and those working for the less fortunate (the Democratic coalition of government workers, unmarried women, minorities, and youth).

If you are fighting for bigger government on behalf of the afflicted, and your major tool is the mightier-than-the-sword pen, then of course, of course you are going to wield the pen to strike down the enemy, which cannot be allowed to win on your battlefield of the spoken, written, filmed word, the battlefield of research, writing, publishing. Imagine Republicans trying to refute your intellectual(ly superior) work?

So Mann and Ornstein, of “Republicans Are the Problem” fame, are also right when they say “The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics.” Republicans are outside the national elite as currently constituted, and dedicated, though not as intensely as our elite is dedicated to defending the status-quo, to overthrowing the current established order. It’s “war by other means”.

Welch goes on to write:
At the end of November, “Politico” published an article about how progressive journalists, now that Obama was safely elected, were beginning to consider criticizing the president a bit more. “He was the champion of our side, he vanquished the foe,” New Yorker political columnist Hendrik Hertzberg said. “[But] now liberals don’t have to worry about hurting his chances for re-election, so they can be tougher in urging him to do what he should be doing.”
It was a remarkable admission of what many have long suspected: Portions of the press are in the tank for Democrats.
As “many have long suspected,” likely including Welch. But don’t count on the media to go after Obama in any meaningful way; Republicans remain the enemy.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Equal Opportunity; Choice = Opportunity

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), newly elected Cuban-American from our #2 state, has provided what I believe is the way forward for Republicans in 2014 and 2016. In a Washington Post article entitled “What the GOP should stand for: Opportunity,” Cruz writes :
53 % of voters believed the economy was George W. Bush’s fault. . . Obama repeated it relentlessly, and Republicans never responded. First you win the argument, then you win the vote, Margaret Thatcher famously admonished. Republicans did neither. . . Voters were convinced that the GOP is the party of “the rich” and that Democrats are the party of everybody else.
let me suggest an alternative course: opportunity conservatism. Republicans should conceptualize and articulate every domestic policy with a single-minded focus on easing the ascent up the economic ladder. . . We should champion the 47%. . . Why do millions of people from all over the world come to the United States? Because no other nation has offered such opportunity. Nowhere else can so many come with nothing and achieve anything.
Americans want to stand on their own feet, and Republicans need to champion policies that enable us to do so: ownership, choice and individual responsibility. Opportunity conservatism is a powerful frame to explain conservative policies that work. . . Republicans ought to [explain] every policy through the lens of economic mobility.
Here some examples of CruzTalk:
  • excessive financial and environmental regulations. . . kill jobs and restrict Americans’ ability to buy their first home. 
  • fundamentally reform the tax code so that every American can file his taxes on a postcard. Eliminate . . . complexity that enrich[es] only accountants and lawyers. 
  •  union . . . closed shops confiscate wages and make it harder for low-skilled workers to get jobs. 
  •  advocate school choice to empower parents and expand opportunity for children. 
  •  promote personal [social security] accounts [that] allow low-income Americans to accumulate wealth and pass it on.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Status-quo D.C. Democrats: Rich and Corrupt

This blog is full of posts on Washington lies and on Washington wealth. Status-quo Washington is also thoroughly corrupt, as two recent stories make clear.

Timothy P. Carney, reporter at the conservative Washington Examiner, tells us how Washington lobbyists were able to pack the “fiscal cliff” bill with goodies for their corporation clients.

In the first stage last August, Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) called for mark-up of a bill that would extend existing special interest tax breaks past January 1. Former senators John Breaux (D-LA) and Trent Lott (R-MS) lobbied to insert provisions that helped General Electric and Citigroup, among others, defer U.S. taxes by moving their profits to offshore financial subsidiaries. This is how GE avoids paying U.S. corporate taxes. Breaux and Lott also inserted provisions benefitting Puerto Rico rum-making.

K Street lobbying firm Capitol Tax Partners, led by Treasury Department alumni from the Clinton administration, similarly secured credits for Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, green energy companies like GE and the American Wind Energy Association, along with Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association of America. All together, Baucus packed 50 tax credit extensions into a bill expected to go nowhere, because of opposition from House Republicans.

But then last week, the White House, according to Carney, demanded permanent extensions of the corporate tax credits. When Senate Republicans said no, "the White House insisted that the exact language" of the Baucus bill be included in the fiscal cliff deal. "They were absolutely insistent." And they won.

An earlier story, by former Chicago Tribune bureau chief Kim Barker, now with the non-partisan online investigative reporting site “ProPublica” that has recently won two Pulitzers, deals with how so-called “dark money” delivered Montana Democrat Senator Jon Tester's re-election against unfavorable odds in a state that voted for Romney.

A paper organization called Montana Hunters and Anglers, launched by liberal activists, didn't buy ads supporting Tester. Instead, it put up radio and TV commercials telling voters to elect third-party, libertarian candidate Dan Cox, the "real conservative." Records show Montana Hunters and Anglers major donors included an environmentalist group that didn't report its donors and two super PACs that in turn raised money from the same environmentalist group, similar groups and unions.

“Dark money” spending played a greater role in the Montana Senate race than almost any other, more than $51 million to win over fewer than 500,000 voters. That's twice as much as was spent when Tester was elected in 2006, and about $100 for every person who cast a vote, with almost 25% donated secretly to nonprofits.

The groups started spending money a year before either candidate put up a TV ad, defining issues and marginalizing the parties’ role. In a state where ads were cheap, more TV commercials ran in the Montana race between June and the election than in any other Senate contest nationwide.

Liberal outside groups spent $10.2 million. Liberal cash in Montana significantly outstripped the left's spending in other races elsewhere. Liberal groups set up field offices, knocked on doors, featured "Montana" in their names and put horses in their TV ads.

Tester beat Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg by a narrow margin. And the libertarian Cox, who had so little money he didn't even have to report to federal election authorities, picked up more votes than any other libertarian in a Montana competitive race.

Dark money groups’ TV ads started in March 2011, the month after Republican Rehberg announced. The Environmental Defense Action Fund attacked Rehberg for his stance on mercury emissions. The Electronic Payments Coalition praised Tester for his push to delay implementing new debit-card swipe fees.

In July 2011, three new liberal dark money groups ran ads. Patriot Majority USA criticized Republicans for planning to cut Medicare and help to seniors. The Partnership to Protect Medicare praised Tester for opposing Medicare cuts. In October, weeks after forming, the dark money side of Montana Hunters and Anglers, Montana Hunters and Anglers Action!, launched its first TV ad.

TV ads were only part of the liberal game plan. They spent on retail politics, hitting the streets and knocking on doors, setting up two offices in Montana, canvassing voters, hiring a full-time organizer, reaching out to 28,000 sporadic voters and urging them to vote early by mail. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana additionally targeted 41,000 female voters, using more than 1,500 people to knock on 28,500 doors, make 162,000 phone calls, and send out 470,000 pieces of mail.

Two postcards Montana Hunters and Anglers sent to thousands of Montanans just before the election didn't say who paid for them. One said Rehberg had wasted "hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on pork barrel projects;" the other called Rehberg "the king of pork." Both told people to vote for Cox. Cox said he didn't send them. The bulk-mail permit on the postcards came back to a Las Vegas company called PDQ Printing, a company describing itself as "Nevada's preeminent Union printer."

Ted Dick, the executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said, "We found that face-to-face conversations toward the end were most persuasive and effective. That's the lesson we're taking forward." But Tester said the Montana race made clear that candidates will have to raise money sooner, and go up with TV ads faster.

Liberal groups in Montana were connected through Hilltop Public Solutions, a Washington Beltway consulting firm where Barrett Kaiser, a former aide to Montana Democratic senator Baucus who handled Tester's last campaign, runs the Billings office. Kaiser is also close to Jim Messina, President Barack Obama's campaign manager, who also once worked for Baucus.  Hilltop's use of Montana Hunters and Anglers to run TV ads against Rehberg meant the spots appeared to be paid for by an organization of Montana hunters, not a Washington-based conservationist group.

The conservative groups active against Tester spent heavily on TV and radio. But their ads missed their mark, irking Montanans. Conservative Crossroads GPS ran cookie-cutter ads, similar to those seen in other states. The National Republican Senatorial Committee ran an ad that appeared to show Tester with all five digits on his left hand, even though Tester is known for having lost three fingers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce misspelled Tester's first name.

Across the nation, only 14% of conservative dark money supported winners. Even though liberal groups spent less, 70% backed winning candidates. Liberal strategists are preparing to ramp for the next election.