Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Economy Is Not a Priority for Obama


Obama has been “getting things done” and “bringing change” since he arrived at the White House. Like many liberal leaders, he has cited “compassion” as his motivation and presented all the major items as emergencies that must be acted upon immediately. This urgent need precludes detailed consideration of proposed legislation and promotes the practice of voting on bills barely seen or unseen, or perhaps not yet written. That is all OK with Obama’s people.

Obama knows that if these bills, e.g., Obamacare, cap and trade, etc., were to be subjected to the normal legislative procedures, public outcry would probably persuade many members of Congress not to support them. Thus the underhanded way they are handling the health care takeover bill this week, even though they heard the protests this past summer. They have to act swiftly, knowing that the American people, by a solid majority, oppose it. Any congressman who is not in a solidly liberal district who votes for Obamacare probably won’t be back after the 2010 elections.

Cap and trade will have to be handled in a similar way, because, except for the diehard environmentalist fanatics, no one in his/her right mind can support this legislation, knowing that it is completely stupid. There shouldn’t even have to be an explanation of why one should oppose it. It is so blatantly bad, I have to wonder why everyone doesn’t see the folly of it and reject it out of hand. No debate should be needed. Why support a law that would (1) do no good for the environment, (2) bring higher costs to each American household on the order of $1,800 per year on average, with some paying much more (in certain geographic areas), and (3) through “carbon trading” and auctions, invite fraud and abuse that would make the financial meltdown look like a normal thing.

The proposed legislation mentioned above would each place a heavy burden on American taxpayers and provide no net improvement to their lives. Passage of both these bills will result in a depression within a few years. The financial burden on Americans is already stretched almost to the limit. The U. S. is in debt to a greater extent than ever and that debt will have doubled in five years from the time Obama took office. We are going to be seeing massive inflation, and fairly soon.

The unemployment rate, last reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 9.7% (highest in 26 years), will probably be stuck in double digits for years to come, as it is, and be considerably worse with Obamacare and cap and trade.

The point is, Obama doesn’t care about the economy. He knows all this. He’s focused on getting his great program in place so he can redistribute wealth. He will do little to nothing to actually help the poor (except for illegal immigrants, a future voting bloc), and he will get back at rich people by taxing away their wealth for his programs. He acts as though he doesn’t realize that these taxes on the rich will hurt workers and kill jobs. He acts as if he doesn’t realize that his policies will, sooner than we might think, destroy the middle class that he falsely claims he’s trying to help. But he does understand these things and is OK with them.

At the expense of the economy, he is taking over more and more of the private sector and more and more of the daily lives of the American people. The Democrats want a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and fast food. Obama fans in Michigan told one woman that her practice of watching her friends’ kids before school constituted an illegal day care operation. She faced fines – until publicity persuaded authorities to relent.

Obamacare will carry a possible prison sentence for not purchasing insurance. This kind of mandate is unheard of in American history, and was commented upon by the Congressional Budget Office. It is unconstitutional. Among other reasons, it has been pointed out, being an American is not the same as engaging in interstate commerce.

One big problem for the American people is that their government is not helping the unemployment situation, a cause of much suffering and stress, but instead is planning things to exacerbate it. The only “help” has been in the form of extended unemployment benefits, which the workers eventually have to pay for, along with all the other wretched excesses of pork-barrel spending, bailouts and takeovers. If this picture isn’t substantially changed by the 2010 elections, we are in for generations of sub-par economic performance and potentially unpayable debt. But we’ll have pervasive government control of practically everything. And we’ll probably be looking at Obama portraits everywhere a la Saddam Hussein. We already can’t get him off TV.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sarah Palin Publishes Her Autobiography – More to Come


Sarah Palin has finished her 400-page autobiography called Going Rogue: An American Life, co-written with Lynn Vincent of World Magazine, a Christian publication, and to be released by Harper on November 17. [1]

I am looking forward to buying it, and would really like to meet Gov. Palin at a book signing. I have a lot of admiration for her, not only her outspoken expressions of her views, but her life story that thus far illustrates the success that is available in America to people who work hard and constantly to reach their goals. She is an extremely interesting person, I think. She can handle a gun or a fishing rod, she can negotiate and pressure oil company bigwigs, and as governor, she sought the best course for her state’s economy and the good of her constituents. She showed that she could interact effectively with people of many different responsibilities and social levels, and she generally accomplished what she seriously set out to do.

It is said that no good deed goes unpunished. And she has found out, following John McCain’s selection of her as his vice-presidential running mate, to shore up his conservative cred, and her subsequent striving for a modicum of freedom during the campaign, that the saying is true. Her good deeds were (1) to accept his offer to run on his ticket, (2) to inspire the conservative base, drawing bigger crowds than usual for campaign events, and (3) generally counterbalancing McCain’s liberal leanings.

For this, she was bad-mouthed by anonymous McCain staffers, relentlessly “investigated” and harassed on behalf of the Democrats, and shamelessly ridiculed, and had her family trashed in the media, and disrespected for no reason except fear of her. The left could not tolerate a truly attractive political personality on the conservative side like Sarah Palin. I don’t think they’ve ever engaged on the issues with her. Just insults, mostly. Even the so-called “conservative” beltway brainpower joined in to some extent.

Now, with the announcements about her book, the liberal tar and feather brigade has gone into action. They are rousing the leftist base (which has been pretty well roused all along about Palin), and some of the rank-and-file left are expressing outrage that Sarah Palin could be taken seriously. Just read the comments on the above-cited article.

But she cannot be taken lightly by the left and must be taken seriously. She is of great concern to them and they do fear her. Just as many more people would rather listen to Rush Limbaugh than Air America, many more people would rather go to see and hear Sarah Palin than some liberal, even the post-messianic and overexposed Barack Obama.
And most would find her observations and suggestions much more in keeping with their own values than anything they’d be hearing from the left.

I’m not sure why she resigned as governor, other than what she said about it. I’m not sure what her plans are concerning political office. But I hope she sells millions of books, makes millions of dollars and stays on the scene for a long time.

If you want to know what she thinks about various issues, she has a gift for expressing her views clearly and distinctly. Just look at her Facebook articles. She is a better-qualified leader than Barack Obama ever was, and in fact has held real jobs, balanced a budget, and prevailed over powerful opponents in the process of fighting corruption and getting favorable treatment for the people of Alaska. She chooses her battles carefully and is not inclined to back down.

Sorry, left-wingers. Sarah Palin isn’t going away any time soon. You’ll just have to deal with her.

[1] Hillel Italie, “Palin finishes memoir, ‘Going Rogue,’ out Nov. 17,” The Baltimore Sun (online), at http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/news/bal-palin-book-0928,1,465892.story

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Obama Wants More School Days and Hours for American Students


President Barack Obama wants to extend the length of the school day for American children and also extend the school year, wiping out much of the current summer vacation many enjoy. According to an Associated Press article by Libby Quaid (09/27/09), the president “says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.” [1]

Also, according to the article, Education Secretary Arne Duncan says, “Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today" [2]

The article cites examples of efforts in some school systems to expand school hours and cites some possible benefits. The president seems to focus on the comparison between American results and those of other countries. As appealing as the above-cited statements may seem, there are serious matters to consider in the discussion that are not being mentioned by the president or the secretary.

1. Why is the federal government so anxious to have this control over local schools? Eventually, the Department of Education is likely to be the authority over local schools, in contrast to historical tradition and structure, simply through executive decree or teachers’ union influence growing year by year.

2. Is competitiveness on standardized tests the ultimate measure of educational success? Teacher LaDonna Hatfield asks, “Why are we no longer focused on developing the individual student's aptitudes and abilities in favor of competing with the world's smartest kids on a test? Why are we opting to spread this hogwash in the media instead of lobbying for more vocational programs and specialized curricula that will help our students achieve their goals in life?” She goes on to say, “If I knew how write this so that the reader could hear the venom in my voice, I would do it.” [3]

She points out that in Asian countries, students often have six hours a day of homework, and, depending on their assigned specialties, are taken from their parents at some point to focus on their studies. The brightest students in various disciplines are chosen for more concentrated studies. Is this what American education is coming to?

Even if, as the AP article notes, American children spend more hours in the classroom, they tend to be much less burdened with hours of homework.

3. “Aside from improving academic performance, Education Secretary Duncan has a vision of schools as the heart of the community.” [4] While schools are an important part of the community, should they be the “heart” of it? Traditionally, the heart of an American community is not the school, not the city hall, not the grocery store, not even the church – it is the home, the family. The liberal-socialist-progressive vision has usually been to usurp the parents’ role in education. “It takes a village.” This attitude, so often found in educational institutions, suggests that students must reject much of what their parents have taught them they should believe, and accept a “more sophisticated” view of the world, whereby they must rethink everything they’ve been taught. Students ought to be taught how to think, but very often the thinking has already been done for them by the educators, and they are to simply absorb the doctrine. I believe most of America’s social problems stem from our educational system’s usurpation of and refusal to reinforce parental authority.

4. As I mentioned in a previous post, I believe the United States Constitution, by the Tenth Amendment, prohibits the federal government from controlling education, and to a great extent, that is what they are trying to do. It has been the tendency of the Obama Administration to try to control as many things as possible, especially things that touch the daily lives of Americans. We still have local school districts and school boards, and state departments of education. They should be the ones to whom the parents delegate some authority for their children’s education, subject to the voters at election time, and always considering the parents’ wishes.

It may be good to debate ideas such as expanded school schedules. Not so good would be the imposition of federal standards for this on local schools either by executive decree or legislation.


[1] Libby Quaid, “More School: Obama would curtail summer vacation,” Associated Press, 09/27/09, at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090928/ap_on_re_us/us_more_school;_ylt=AqXBhoUj_JJPUq0IG78vSz.s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTMwZmszZGtsBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwOTI4L3VzX21vcmVfc2Nob29sBGNwb3MDOARwb3MDNQRwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX2hlYWRsaW5lX2xpc3QEc2xrA21vcmVzY2hvb2xvYg--

[2] Ibid.

[3] LaDonna Hatfield, “Comparing American students’ academic performances to other countries,” Helium.com, at http://www.helium.com/items/1237654-comparing-test-scores-standardized-tests-measuring-achievement-fair-measures-in-education
[4] Quaid, see [1].

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Thursday, September 24, 2009

At UN, Obama Impresses and Receives Praise and Concern from His Mentors


Ah, Hugo Chavez. He just can’t resist picking at George W. Bush. Chavez appears to be proud of his protégé Barack Obama. Obama received high marks for his UN speech from Chavez, Fidel Castro and Muammar Gaddafi, among other tyrants and thugs whom Obama seems to admire.



At the United Nations General Assembly, Obama said, “For those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months.” For plain arrogance, Obama is hard to beat. And as far as I can tell, Barack Obama is the champion at blaming the previous administration(s) for not only his own troubles, but the world’s.

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline Blog, commented, “Does Obama believe that anything positive will come of this stomach-turning spectacle. Or does he just like to bask in the glow of applause for the proposition that the U.S. was a pretty rotten place until he assumed control, without worrying about who it is that’s applauding?” [1]

Again he apologized for America, as is his custom, and also, as is his custom, he declared that America is now the good guy in the world since he has taken charge. He has shown little respect for America’s true allies, such as Great Britain, Australia, Colombia, and especially Israel. No, he wants to cultivate the world’s dictators at the expense of allies who have actually supported American interests.

U.K. Telegraph commentator Nile Gardiner wrote, “It’s always a bad sign when a US president gets several rounds of heavy applause at the UN General Assembly, as Barack Obama did this morning in New York. Needless to say, the loudest cheers from the gathering of world leaders came when he condemned the actions of a close US ally, Israel, in continuing to build settlements in the West Bank. You can always rely on attacks on the Israelis to generate the biggest roars of approval at any meeting of the United Nations, and Obama dutifully obliged.” [2]

He’s the one who’s stopping America from torturing people. But the techniques used to interrogate detainees were not torture. Again, he has to get in a dig at the Bush Administration, which, by the way, managed to help America avoid another 9/11-type attack by using these methods.

He’s going to get the world on board with dealing with “climate change” when he can’t get the American people on board with his ridiculous cap and trade plan. His promotion of this plan is proof, if any more were needed, that he won’t help the U.S. economy, and, in keeping with his grand plan, he cannot.

Yes, Obama seems to be popular at the UN and probably thinks he’s enhancing America’s standing in the world. But in reality, he’s pandering to a bunch of dictators. Whatever respect he has earned will become evident in future developments.


[1] Paul Mirengoff, “Obama Takes the Supplication of America to a Disgusting New Level,” Powerline Blog 09/23/09 at http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/09/024578.php

[2] Nile Gardiner, “Barack at the UN: Was this Obama’s most naïve speech ever?,” Telegraph.co.uk, 09/23/09 at http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100011129/barack-at-the-un-was-this-obama’s-most-naive-speech-ever/, quoted at Stop the ACLU.com http://www.stoptheaclu.com/2009/09/24/obama-at-united-nations-anti-israeli-sentiment-gets-biggest-applause/

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good News? Could Be ...


1. John Boehner Says Obamacare Is Dead

This would be great if correct. America needs for Obamacare to go the way of Hillarycare. Obamacare proponents discuss the need for a “public option,” but the whole thing is a big “public option,” whether or not it has a feature that is called by that name. In any event, if Obamacare is passed, within a few years, say a decade or less, we’ll have the government option as the only option. We’ll lose important rights if this proposal passes, and it will be very difficult if not impossible to recover them.

“‘There’s been no bipartisan conversation on Capitol Hill about health care,’ [House Republican Leader John] Boehner said in an interview with ‘Meet the Press’ host David Gregory. ‘At some point when these big government plans fail—and they will, the Congress will not pass this—it’s really time for the president to hit the reset button, just stop all of this and let’s sit down and start over in a bipartisan way to build a plan that Americans will support.’

“‘So you think the plan is dead?’ asked Gregory.

“‘I think it is,’ said Boehner.” [1]



2. Cap and Trade Legislation is in Trouble

Politico reports that the cap and trade bill is in trouble for this year because Democrats from coal-, oil- and manufacturing states believe the bill would be unfair to their states by causing disproportionate increases in energy costs. Also, with focus now on health care, and an attempt to pass new regulation of the financial sector, there possibly won’t be time or political capital available for action this year. [2]

As I and others have pointed out before, this is one of the worst pieces of legislation ever proposed. It has already passed the House, but faces an uphill fight in the Senate. This bill is supposed to be the answer to climate change and a big revenue raiser for the government, but in fact it would do nothing to help climate change or government revenues. Even if man-made climate change were an actual problem (which it isn’t) and even if this bill would do something toward controlling it (which it wouldn’t), remember that India and China will never be on board with it, because they are trying to grow their economy rather than destroy it as Obama is trying to do with ours.

And as far as revenues are concerned, enactment of this monstrosity would make the recession seem permanent, and combined with Obamacare would lead to a depression. If cap and trade is passed, many manufacturers and energy producers would shut down business or curtail production, and if possible, seek opportunities overseas. Almost all prices would increase as a result of increased energy costs. Revenues to the government would decrease because there would be fewer taxpayers, and those remaining would be earning less and paying less in taxes.

Also, cap and trade would do nothing to encourage things that would actually help our energy situation, such as domestic oil production, offshore and ANWR drilling, and nuclear power.

“‘I’d like to see climate change done before December so we can go to Copenhagen with something in our hands,’ said Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin. ‘We might be able to get to it in November.’” [3]

This reflects the kind of misguided thinking that exacerbates the economic problems we have – trying to impress some international representatives whose countries are, truth be told, less interested in “climate change,” and more interested in putting the U.S. at an economic disadvantage. I have to hope that some day soon, good sense will prevail and this whole climate change and global warming “issue” will go the way of Prohibition. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got some opposition from citizens on cap and trade in Nevada in August:



To be rid of both these bills would be wonderful, but, of course, there’s always the chance they’ll be back.

[1] Terence P. Jeffrey, “Boehner Says Democrat Health Care Plan Is Dead,” 09/20/09, at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/54273.

[2]Lisa Lerer, “Vital signs weak for climate bill,” at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0909/27251.html#ixzz0RoQIEGhq.

[3] Ibid.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jimmy Carter Strikes Again


Former President Jimmy Carter, widely recognized for his community-spirit efforts with Habitat for Humanity, his international efforts to help ensure fair elections, and even a Sunday School class that draws many visitors, has received some unfavorable attention last year and this year.

President Carter engineered the Israel-Egypt peace agreement, and received a Nobel Peace Prize, but seemed to accomplish more good things after his term as president was over. As president, he ran into considerable difficulty with “malaise,” and, of course, the Iran hostage crisis, as well as a tough economy. He was unfortunately one our most inept presidents, but most would agree that he was seen as a man of good influence in the world after his presidency ended, in the spirit of his Mideast peace accomplishment.

But despite that, he has made himself a target of justifiable criticism on two fronts in 2008 and 2009. First, he drew the ire of Israel by meeting with Hamas terrorist leaders in April (also against the wishes of the Bush Administration). He also wrote a book very critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

The Anti-Defamation League released the following:
“New York, NY, April 11, 2008 … Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), issued the following statement regarding Jimmy Carter's announcement that he will meet with the head of the terrorist group Hamas.

“Jimmy Carter does it again. His decision to meet with the head of the terrorist group Hamas is one more example of the destructive role the former President is playing with regard to issues affecting Israel and American interests in the Middle East.

“At a time when the anti-terrorist coalition of nations is struggling to maintain pressure on Hamas, Mr. Carter's action can only serve to undermine that effort. Once again, Mr. Carter seems more comfortable with extremists and terrorists than with democratic friends like Israel, which he lambasted in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

“It would be better for all if Mr. Carter would permanently remove the Middle East from his agenda.” [1]

Another article at the ADL website says the following:
“There is much speculation about Carter's motives -- religious, personal, financial. In the end, none of that matters. What does matter is that he is an adversary of the State of Israel and we have our responsibility to treat him accordingly.” [2] (Emphasis added)

More recently, Mr. Carter has been the source of controversy and criticism from both the conservative side and the White House for his statement that Joe Wilson’s shout of “You Lie!” during President Obama’s health care speech of September 9 was motivated by racism. Several prominent people, including RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (who speaks for Obama) have expressed their disagreement with Carter’s accusation. Or, as New York Daily News senior correspondent David Saltonstall put it: “White House to Jimmy Carter: Stop helping us.” [3]



Carter’s racism accusation fits the pattern of several instances of liberals playing the race card recently. “The suggestion that race is behind criticism of Obama has been made by New York Gov. David Paterson and Reps. Charlie Rangel of New York, Diane Watson of California and Hank Johnson of Georgia, among others…. According to Johnson, people will be putting on ‘white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside’ if emerging racist attitudes, like those subtly supported by Wilson, are not rebuked.” [4]

Concerning Rep. Joe Wilson: “‘There is not a racist bone in my dad’s body,’ said Alan Wilson [Joe Wilson’s son], an Iraq veteran. ‘He doesn't even laugh at distasteful jokes.’” [5]

It seems to me that former President Jimmy Carter has shown some seriously questionable judgment on these issues and has not contributed constructively, but rather has succeeded in offending and hurting people who didn’t deserve it. He questions their motives, but he might want to look at his own.

[1] “ADL Comments On Jimmy Carter's Intent To Meet With The Head Of Hamas” 04/11/08 at http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/5267_62.htm.

[2] Kenneth Jacobson, “Jimmy Carter: So What’s New?” at http://www.adl.org/ADL_Opinions/Israel/20080430-Op-ed.htm.
This article originally appeared in the New Jersey Jewish Standard on May 1, 2008.

[3] David Saltonstall, “Jimmy Carter gets flak for racism charge against Rep. Joe Wilson - even from White House,” at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2009/09/17/2009-09-17_jimmy_carter_gets_flak_for_racism_charge__even_from_white_house.html#ixzz0RQjyXzIR.

[4] Fox News, “Carter ‘Racism’ Claim Draws Widespread Criticism,” 09/16/09 at
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/16/carter-racism-claim-draws-widespread-criticism/.

[5] Saltonstall, see [3].

Monday, September 14, 2009

Government and Media Try to Downplay Protests by Tax-Paying Voters


The 9/12 Tea Party protest march on Washington, in which “as many as one million” people participated (according to the Daily Mail Online, UK, which is less biased in reporting this than most U.S. newspapers) [1], represents a majority of American citizens, most of whom could not be in Washington, but a good many of whom participated in local events. Also, many who did not attend any event still strongly support the views of the protesters and are expressing themselves in other ways, such as letters to their representatives and newspapers.

If you get “as many as one million people” together, as happened Saturday in D.C., you find quite a variety of individuals, but this group was united in their displeasure with the current policies of the federal government, particularly excess spending, taxes, and “health care reform.” They came from many parts of the country. They paid their own way. They weren’t following some charismatic leader, but were showing up to support their beliefs.

The protesters with their signs, flags, and speakers expressed outrage, anger, and determination not to be overcome by their socialist “leaders,” who are constantly thinking up new ways to take away their money, freedom, and future. The multi-trillion-dollar deficits are seen as dangerous and affecting future generations. It doesn’t take a Washington “expert” to see that. They see the Constitution being ripped to shreds with nary a thought, day by day, by their liberal so-called representatives.

They see a harmful and tyrannical “health care reform” about to be shoved down the throats of the American people, a majority of whom don’t want it. And they see the problem of unemployment affecting America’s families, with nothing being done about it, while government seeks to set up more oppressive socialist programs.

None of these observations requires political or technical expertise to know about and be concerned about, although many of the protesters are experts in the affected areas of taxes, health care, law, etc.

Also, past experience could have predicted that the events of 9/12 would be under-reported and even misrepresented by the Obama propaganda division, a.k.a. the mainstream media. You can’t just ignore a million or more people gathered in one place, but you can try to play down the importance, misrepresent the numbers, and offer biased and incorrect analysis.

It’s race-based, say many liberals. As an example, the Boise Weekly takes up Maureen Dowd’s accusation of racism.
“The casual and ignorant use of socialism and Communism and Marxism at these rally's (sic.) have strong historical precedents, including the official red baiting of Martin Luther King, Jr., spurred some 50 years ago by the same Birchers.” Then, quoting Dowd,

“‘I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race….’” [2] People are racist enough that they can’t accept the fact that we now have an African-American president, so they cry “socialist!” to mask their racism. In fact, it’s some liberals who are crying “racist!” to mask their socialism, as one of their online comments points out.

The liberals and elitists just can’t grasp the fact that the protest is policy-based. It is also angry, widespread, sincere and justified. It is not overstating things to classify Obama’s policies as socialist and fascist. They fit the patterns very well. Heavy-handed mandates for citizen participation in socialized programs, government takeover of one-sixth of the economy (government option or not) in addition to the previous nationalizations, and the endless spending and stifling deficits that will last for many years. All this spending, bailouts, and takeovers, yet unemployment continues to rise, as Obama ponders his next heavy yoke upon the taxpayers of America, cap and trade. I’m sure Hugo Chavez is very proud of his protégé.

The protesters can’t be ignored. The key to their lasting effectiveness will be the continuation of the movement up to the 2010 elections and beyond. Congressmen will need to pay attention if they are interested in being re-elected. And Obama will have to start early mobilizing his ACORN, SEIU, and Black Panther thugs to work the elections.

As reported by Manu Raju at Politico.com, “President Barack Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, said Sunday conservative protests in Washington are not indicative of the country's mood.

“‘Conservatives have the right to protest,’ Axelrod said on CBS's ‘Face the Nation,’ but ‘they don’t represent a mainstream view.’” [3]

Oh? If the protesters can get “as many as one million” people to Washington, plus many thousands more in local events – and these are people who work for a living and who vote – how can you be sure it isn’t a mainstream view? Axelrod tries to dismiss this protest as of no real importance. Is he trying to convince us or himself?

One comment at the Daily Mail: “Wow, now there was a message to Obama and Congress that's going to be hard to ignore. My favorite sign was the ‘King George didn't listen to us either’ one. - Eggs Ackley, Wilmington, NC USA, 13/9/2009 03:57” [4]

The following video should convey a good idea of what happened in Washington:



[1] David Gardner, “A million march to US Capitol to protest against ‘Obama the socialist,’” Daily Mail Online (U.K.), 09/15/09, at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1213056/Up-million-march-US-Capitol-protest-Obamas-spending-tea-party-demonstration.html

[2] Nathaniel Hoffman, “Tea Party Inspired by Racial Fears,” Boise Weekly.com, 09/13/09, at http://www.boiseweekly.com/CityDesk/archives/2009/09/13/tea-party-inspired-by-racial-fears

[3] Manu Raju, “Axelrod: Protests may not mean much,” 09/13/09, Politico.com at http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive /0909/Axelrod_Protests_wont_mean_much.html?showall

[4] Gardner, see [1].

Jim Malmberg has an excellent article on the protests on Bloggersbase at http://www.bloggersbase.com/articles/world-affairs/politics-and-opinions/more-teaparty-misinformation-coming-your-way-courtesy-of-the-us-government/

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stimulus Won’t Stop High Unemployment


According to an article by Eamon Javers at Politico.com:
“The president’s chief economic adviser warned Friday that the nation’s unemployment rate could stay ‘unacceptably high’ for years to come — a situation that would seriously complicate Barack Obama’s ability to convince Americans that he’s beating back the recession.

“‘The level of unemployment is unacceptably high,’ National Economic Council Director Larry Summers said Friday. ‘And will, by all forecasts, remain unacceptably high for a number of years.’” [1]

What Summers said is not surprising, the surprise is that it comes from the president’s top economic adviser.

Summers also said the economy is improving. Tell that to the unemployed. Jobs supposedly always lag in a recovery, but Summers says the forecast is “for economic growth at a significant rate during the second half of 2009.” [2]

Quite a lag, I’d say, if unemployment is to remain “unacceptably high for a number of years.” The stimulus is supposed to “create or save” 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010, including the one million already “created or saved” thus far, according to the Administration. How do you measure “saved jobs”? There are currently 14.9 million people unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (at the end of August). If all the people currently working kept their jobs (which they won’t) and the “stimulus” actually created 2.5 million jobs by the end of 2010 (which it won’t), we’d still have a high unemployment rate. Doesn’t sound like a great bargain for $800 billion. We’ll still have a huge deficit, the greatest ever national debt, and higher taxes in place and more on the horizon under Obama’s agenda.

To add Obamacare and cap and trade to all this is the height of fiscal irresponsibility. It is as plain as day that Obama is doing nothing that helps the economy. Now even his top economic adviser says we’ll have high unemployment for years to come. All but the most die-hard Obama fans have to realize that this is a very bleak situation. It is foolhardy to expect anything but a depression if both Obamacare and cap and trade are passed. It’s bad enough without them. Remember the 14.9 million figure does not include people who have given up looking for work or have taken part-time positions.

If we had an Administration and Congress that were as concerned about the working people of America, and the suffering they and their families are enduring and are facing – more concerned with them than with getting their socialist agenda in place – we could have a great deal more prosperity within a fairly short time. They would do something like the following:

1. Forget Obamacare. Take up health care issues later and forget nationalizing it.
2. Forget cap and trade. Recognize it as the fraud and hoax that it is.
3. Keep the Bush tax cuts in place, and don't reduce tax deductions.
4. Reduce corporate tax rates to 15 percent or less.
5. Reduce or eliminate capital gains taxes.
6. Sell government interests in GM, Chrysler, AIG, etc.
7. Don’t do any more bailouts, period.
8. Repeal the remainder of the “stimulus” and don’t do any more of them.
9. Rein in the czars, and let people know what’s going on in government.

If Obama and the Congress did these things, our economy would rebound quickly and they would look like heroes and probably all get re-elected. But this isn’t the Twilight Zone. It’s more like the Outer Limits: “We will control….” Apparently, at all costs.

[1] Eamon Javers, “Adviser: High unemployment for years,” Politico.com, 09/12/09 at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0909/27052.html.

[2] Ibid.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Friday, September 11, 2009

“Health Care Reform” vs. the Constitution and the Economy


Rasmussen: 44 percent favor, 53 percent oppose Obamacare as of September 10, 2009. [1]

Barack Obama is up against it on his “health care reform” project. His September 9 speech to a joint session of Congress highlighted several things (Obama’s words in bold):

1. His frustration with the lack of acceptance of the Democrat proposals in the HR 3200 draft and the ways to “pay for” this plan. I put those words in quotes because the program will not be paid for, if enacted, without massive additions to the deficit, despite Obama’s claims. First, $500 billion cannot be cut from Medicare without seriously affecting benefits and coverage. Second, the proposed sharp tax increases will slow the economy greatly, and actually decrease revenues to the government. He is less specific about this than any other aspect of the issue. To summarize:

Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan. Much of the rest would be paid for with revenues from the very same drug and insurance companies that stand to benefit from tens of millions of new customers. This reform will charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive policies, which will encourage them to provide greater value for the money — an idea which has the support of Democratic and Republican experts. And according to these same experts, this modest change could help hold down the cost of health care for all of us in the long-run….

The plan will not add to our deficit. The middle-class will realize greater security, not higher taxes. And if we are able to slow the growth of health care costs by just one-tenth of one percent each year, it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term. [2] for all items in bold

But Senator Max Baucus’s paper on financing government health care tells a different story. There are numerous tax increases being proposed, from a federal excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to tax increases on alcoholic beverages to raising tax rates on higher-income tax payers (not to mention letting the Bush tax cuts expire). In other words, large increases across the board. And, a great many more information reporting requirements. [3]

2. His so-called outreach to Republicans is not and has never been genuine. Sure, he’d like their votes, but he’s not interested in really considering their plans. If he were, he’d have been consulting with them all along. He has not. He calls his opponents liars. His denial of “death panels” cannot be believed. These panels will decide whether treatment is to be permitted, delayed or denied. Once government takes over, bureaucrats will decide who gets what.

Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

3. His determination to include a “public option.” This entire “plan” (any plan so far written or discussed by Democrats) is a foot in the door for socialized medicine, and with or without the public option, turns control, if not ownership of the health care, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries over to government. With the “public option,” it’s even worse. It will put private insurers out of business. The statement that only a 5 percent or so of Americans will be on this option cannot be believed. Nor can the statement that premium payments can sustain the public option. It just isn’t possible. Nor can the statement that people currently happy with their coverage can keep it. Bureaucratic regulations, formulas, and decisions will prevail once government takes over, “public option” or not. Government’s foot will be on the necks of insurance providers to the extent that many may go out of business before this program can take effect, if it is enacted. Then, look for actual government ownership of some large insurance companies. (They already own AIG).

No one would be forced to choose it [the “public option”], and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up.
Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies don't like this idea. They argue that these private companies can't fairly compete with the government. And they'd be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option. But they won't be. I have insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.


4. Obama wants his health care signature issue passed at the expense of helping the economy. Obama does not care about the economy improving. He’s purposefully allowing it to deteriorate. If this is not true, Obama is a complete idiot. And he isn’t. The Obama government is doing nothing that can help the economy. The must know this and be approving of it. They do not care about creating jobs. With more people in economic hardship, more people will look to government. Full recovery is “many months away.” When he’s out of office? He “will not let up” what? Pork-barrel spending? Business takeovers? Bailouts?

As any American who is still looking for work or a way to pay their bills will tell you, we are by no means out of the woods. A full and vibrant recovery is many months away. And I will not let up until those Americans who seek jobs can find them; until those businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes. That is our ultimate goal. But thanks to the bold and decisive action we have taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.

It would be more accurate to say that the Administration, Fed, and Congress have come close to pushing the economy over the cliff (and may yet), than to say that they have pulled it back from the brink. If they had refrained from the economically ill-advised bailouts, auto takeovers, etc. the economy could be well into recovery by now, through the self-correction mechanisms the government has throttled. Obama states good goals here, but is doing nothing to help and plenty to harm.

How’s this for an evaluation of the current economy? Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal, says the following:
“The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll has 87% of the public somewhat or very dissatisfied with the economy. The unemployment rate is likely to go above 10% for all 2010. Whatever GDP growth may occur, there is no evidence of new-job creation. Gold's price has risen above $1,000, suggesting inflation is swimming below the economy's flat surface. China is stockpiling gold and worrying out loud about the weak dollar. A U.N. panel said this week the world should abandon the dollar as the world's anchor currency.” [4]

Oh, and Obama vaguely mentioned tort reform, not too convincingly. Also, it is worth noting that at one point the President was laughed at. Also, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) called out “You lie!’ when the President claimed that illegal immigrants wouldn’t be covered. Democrats were indignant, although they had done similar things to G.W. Bush not many years ago.

To conclude:
1. Obama’s health care preferences have not changed. What he wants is universal, single-payer health care and sees a transition period from our present system to his preferred system. Check out the following video, which I am re-using.



2. He ignores the fact that the economy is much more pressing issue for Americans than health care. When will the American people start to realize that Obama is purposefully destroying the American economy. If he wanted to actually improve it, it wouldn’t be that difficult. Yet we’re supposed to accept his statement that “many more months” of hardship lie ahead.

3. Republicans still need to oppose this to the maximum extent and filibuster it if possible. Whatever plan is brought forward for a vote, with or without the “public option,” represents a complete government takeover of health care-related industries. What Obama laid out in his speech is classic fascism. It is unconstitutional. And it seriously erodes Americans’ liberty. But that’s just the beginning. Cap and trade is next. Then forced unionism, unrestricted abortion, etc., etc.

4. I wish Rep. Joe Wilson the best. He at least was telling the truth. Obama wasn’t.

[1] Rasmussen Reports, “43% Favor President’s Health Care Plan, 53% Oppose,” 09/10/09 at http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/september_2009/44_favor_president_s_health_care_plan_53_oppose

[2] “Full text of President Obama’s speech on health care reform,” The Associated Press, Stars and Stripes online edition, Wednesday, September 9, 2009, as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House. At http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=64685

[3] At http://finance.senate.gov/sitepages/leg/LEG%202009/051809%20Health%20Care%20Description%20of%20Policy%20Options.pdf

[4] Daniel Henninger, “It’s Still the Economy, Stupid,” at The Wall Street Journal online Opinion Journal 09/09/09, at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574402584266716204.html

Items [3] and [4] were cited and linked to at rushlimbaugh.com and discussed on the Rush Limbaugh program on September 9 and 10 respectively. See transcripts at the website.

Photo: dreamstime.com

Monday, September 7, 2009

Who Has Read the Tenth Amendment?


From a CNSNews.com story on September 4 about a town hall meeting with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), held in Fredericksburg, VA:
“Despite tough questions, Warner showed signs of being rattled only once, when he took a question from a high school government teacher. ‘Where in the Constitution, article and section, does the government have the right to run health care?’

“That question received the only standing ovation and the longest applause of the night as Warner struggled to get his answer in.

“‘You are advocating we do away with Medicare,’ he responded to the teacher. ‘There is no place in the Constitution that specifically says health care,’ he continued. ‘There is no place in the Constitution where it specifically says education. There is no place in the Constitution that talks about the right to own a telephone.’” [1]

The teacher had a very good question. Most politicians today seem to think that the Constitution allows anything they might want to suggest, provided they can get the votes to get it passed. I have said that the Obamacare proposal (the House bill or anything similar) is unconstitutional because it violates the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

I realize it’s difficult to “think on your feet” about abstract legal issues. However, the senator’s logic is somewhat mistaken. The Constitution describes the powers of government. Mainly it describes what government’s powers are and are not, and what the rights of the people are. The fact that it doesn’t mention the right to own a telephone (or computer or automobile, for that matter) does not prohibit anyone from owning such things. The fact that it does not delegate to the federal government the right to take over and operate the nation’s health care does prohibit the federal government from doing that. As for Medicare, that is on shaky ground, not only financially, but constitutionally.

However, it is firmly in place, so doing away with it would seem politically impossible. I think. Obama proposes massive cuts in Medicare and eliminating Medicare Advantage plans. This should scare seniors quite a lot (and make them rethink their support of the AARP). And they would face being rationed out under a government health care plan, as would the seriously or chronically ill. The fact that we have Medicare does not justify expanding government health care further.

He said there is no place that specifically says education. Here’s another area that should be seen as questionable constitutionally as far as the federal government is concerned. I remember that some 45-50 years ago, the candidates for governor of Texas were talking about how we needed to resist “federal aid to education” because we would end up with federal control of education. Turns out they were prophetic. The teachers unions now control the leftist indoctrination of many students in public schools, a process continued in most colleges and universities.

It’s not difficult to get the idea that politicians do not want to think about the Constitution or the constitutionality of proposed laws. Lawmakers ought to give a lot of attention to the law of the land. At least Senator Warner assured his audience that he would read any bill before voting on it. That’s a start, I suppose.

Back to “health care reform.” The constitutional argument is just one of several major reasons to oppose Obamacare. It would be a serious drag on our economy. It would discourage people from going into medical practice. It would leave many people untreated who can readily obtain medical treatment now. There are good methods available to get health insurance coverage for the people who need it but can’t get it, without the disintegration of the current system.


[1] Fred Lucas, “Virginia Democrat Says He Might Support Public Option ‘Down the Road,’” 09/04/09, at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/53568

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Friday, September 4, 2009

Negative Progress on Jobs under Obama’s Stimulus



THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- AUGUST 2009

Nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline in August (-216,000), and the unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Although job losses continued in many of the major industry sectors in August, the declines have moderated in recent
months.

Household Survey Data

In August, the number of unemployed persons increased by 466,000 to 14.9 million, and the unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage point to 9.7 percent.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 09/04/09 (Emphasis added throughout this article)

The current unemployment rate of 9.7 percent is the highest in 26 years.

The Obama stimulus package was supposed to create 4.1 million new jobs by the end of 2010. [1] It does not appear to be working. The stimulus package of $800 billion is largely a spending bill for liberal projects that can do little to stimulate the economy. It was presented as an emergency measure and passed with a minimum of debate and scrutiny.

Gallup Chief Economist Dennis Jacobe reports the following:
“PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup Daily economic data aggregated on a monthly basis show that job creation in August is just not taking place in the U.S. economy. While Gallup data for the month also show a slight moderation in job loss, this is not sufficient to take up the slack for a 35% decline in the rate of job creation compared to a year ago. And, while confidence in the future direction of the U.S. economy is at its highest level in 20 months, Gallup data also show a continued delinking of consumer spending -- which is down 33% from a year ago.” [2]

Why doesn’t all this spending create more jobs than are being lost? It simply isn’t stimulating the economy because to stimulate the economy, it is necessary to encourage private investment. Private investment involves taking risks. The government spending involved in the infrastructure projects can benefit some workers and some companies, but provides no encouragement to other companies. Nothing suggests that the other companies’ investments and hiring would pay off, because the economy is running such a deficit that government debt will crowd out investors. When an investor buys government debt, he/she cannot invest that money in private companies.

Companies outside the construction or other directly stimulus-affected industries see little incentive to expand and hire. They know tax increases are coming as the Bush tax cuts expire. These increases are substantial. There is little the government is doing to encourage lending. If businesses can’t borrow, they generally can’t expand, and, as mentioned they have little incentive to expand anyway. Another serious hindrance to economic growth is the Administration’s determination to pass some kind of government health care and cap and trade. Because the proposals are so intrusive and all-encompassing, many businesses would consider it the height of imprudence to make big changes without knowing what is to become of these proposals. And if they pass, businesses may very well hunker down even more, and, if they can, seek opportunities offshore. The prospect of crippling taxes and regulations slows everything down, except the specific items directed by the stimulus bill. Uncertainty about government policy never helps, especially these potentially big-ticket items.

The Administration must take responsibility for the economy. It’s their stimulus. It isn’t working and can’t work due to the laws of economics. Combined with their other big efforts (if they are enacted), we can expect an even larger negative impact on the economy, resulting in more misery and suffering for American families. The best thing government can do is back off, get out of the way, and free the markets to work. The stimulus and the other proposals mentioned will do more harm than good to the economy.

As the Heritage Foundation’s “Morning Bell” article puts it,
“The federal deficit is expected to approach $2 trillion this year, and to remain well above $1 trillion for many years to come, doubling the national debt in just five years. This situation is not sustainable, but businesses can only guess how the federal government will restore order to its fiscal house, knowing full well that successful businesses make an attractive tax target. In the face of such a threatening environment, it is not surprising that job creation has fallen since President Obama signed the stimulus.” [3]


[1] The Heritage Foundation, “Morning Bell: President Obama’s Failed Stimulus,” 09/04/09, appearing at http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=148525515907&ref=nf (The Heritage Foundation Notes)
[2] Dennis Jacobe, “Gallup Economic Monthly: Job Creation Not Happening,” 09/03/09 at http://www.gallup.com/poll/122696/Gallup-Economic-Monthly-Job-Creation-Not-Happening.aspx
[3] The Heritage Foundation, see [1].

Illustration: Unemployment rates in the United States (1950 - 2005).
• Background colors and dotted lines show the terms of U.S. presidents and their political party affiliation, to give more historical context.
• Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
• Chart created by User: Kmf164 on May 10, 2006.
• License at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/
• Illustration found at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Us_unemployment_rates_1950_2005.svg

Thursday, September 3, 2009

“I Really Underestimated the Creepiness”



(Apologies to the people involved in that commercial featuring the baby stock trader)

President Obama is scheduled to deliver an address to “students across the nation” on September 8. Some people find this disturbing and objectionable, I among them. There is also a video contest for kids 13 and over. They are encouraged to produce a video of two minutes or less in response to the speech and upload it to YouTube.

Knowing how Obama’s handlers and the media have tried so hard to build up a personality cult centered on him, I can’t help but be reminded of how little children in North Korea sing songs to the Dear Leader. One might suppose that a speech that is supposed to emphasize the importance of education would be innocuous enough, but consider:

1. During Obama’s campaign, he placed special emphasis on early education, to the point that it could be seen as government intrusion into family life.

2. Many parents already, with considerable justification, think of public education as a vehicle for political indoctrination by the left. What more effective method than a direct address from the president?

3. What business does the president have addressing students about anything? Is there any part of our lives that he doesn’t feel he needs to be personally poking into?

4. Will this be the first of many such occasions during the school year?

5. Is he following the path of other dictators in trying to win over the young people and set them against their parents politically? Or use them to try to persuade their parents about supporting his agenda? Remember, this type of thing has been a frequent tactic in the global warming controversy, requiring kids to watch Al Gore’s film, etc.

6. Aren’t parents right to be concerned and possibly not allow their children to participate in this exercise?

Students are to deal with questions like, “What is the president trying to tell me?” and “What is the president asking me to do?” See the Department of Education website at http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/bts.html for their page about this, also with pdf or Word files of “Menus of Classroom Activities” and “Frequently Asked Questions” concerning the broadcast speech.

You may think this is normal and OK. I think it’s creepy.

Photo: opendomain.blogspot.com