Conservative Political Commentary

Anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-globalist, pro-Constitution,
and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Routes the Government Is Following To Take Over the Internet

United States Senate special election in Orego...Image via WikipediaThe Obama Administration has been trying at least three distinct approaches to ending freedom on the Internet, initially under the pretext of copyright protection or consumer protection. The main goal is to take the internet under government control, so that content ultimately has to have government approval or be subject to removal and websites controlled to the point of removal and the banning of “offenders” from using the Internet.

The triple-threat strategy has been to act (1) through a legislative initiative, promoted in Congress by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and sponsored by Hollywood, known as COICA (2) through a treaty styled as a trade agreement called an Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement (ACTA), and (3) through a decree by the Federal Communications Commission (“Net Neutrality”).

COICA
The COICA (Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act) bill received unanimous approval in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I find quite disappointing. This bill is a form of generous corporate welfare and collusion with “intellectual property owners,” with government preparing to go after any and all who might displease the mighty RIAA and MPAA, whether or not any law is broken, The Attorney General would become the copyright errand boy for these interests, as well as large content providers, taking over the work they don’t want to be bothered with doing for themselves, i.e. protecting their interests. Why not get the government to do it for them and save them a few millions?

As Daniel Greenfield reports at his Sultan Knish blog,

Some conservatives are defending COICA as a means of protecting private property, but it's not. It creates a privileged status for specific industries through government action, which those specific industries paid for. This is classic 'Rent Seeking Behavior' which uses government force to protect a bad business model. Hollywood is suffering from the plague of piracy because of its own convoluted structure and its need to negotiate every iota of every action with its own unions. Rather than adapt and evolve, it uses lawyers and lobbyists to protect its defective business practices. And having a 'red phone' to the AG's office in order to protect defective business practices does the entertainment industry no favors in the long term. [1]
RIAA, MPAA, Time Warner, etc., can defend their own interests without special help from the government. As usual, most economic and social abuses from the private sector involve the misuse of government power. This is not an example of free-market activity, but its opposite.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has placed a hold on the COICA bill, meaning it must be reintroduced in the new Congress in order for it to be considered. [2]

The final outcome remains to be seen, but, as Webster writes, “It's too early to say for sure, but Oregon Senator Ron Wyden could very well go down in the history books as the man who saved the Internet.” [3]


ACTA
ACTA, according to the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, has seen its eleventh and final round of formal negotiations, with only a few issues remaining to be resolved. [4]

As mentioned in my previous article, quoting published sources, negotiations have been conducted in secret, and the U.S. denied Freedom of Information Act requests on “national security” grounds.

With ACTA, powerful intellectual property holders are getting several, and eventually many, governments to go after citizens and companies that do things they don’t like, inflicting punishment without sufficient due process or even proof that wrong has been done.

Presumably, nations could modify their participation in the agreement through their own legislation, but there would likely be strong pressure on even non-signatory nations to comply. The agreement would co-opt the present mechanisms for protecting intellectual property and nations which had no input in the negotiations would have to obey, or else face economic consequences.

Worse, since ACTA is structured as a “trade agreement,” it would not need Senate approval like a normal treaty. It’s a bureaucratic takeover of great proportions, aimed largely at the Internet.

Some of the more controversial items have been watered down or removed, but ACTA is still an objectionable, unnecessary, and dangerous agreement.

Net Neutrality
As for “Net Neutrality,” the FCC has overstepped its bounds. In fact, the agency has outlived its usefulness and ought to be abolished. I plan to write another article on the FCC’s issuance of “Net Neutrality” regulations. As of now, the new regulations have been approved, but not released.

Conclusion
The Obama Administration has seen an opportunity to take control of the Internet. As mentioned above, it is a move to use government power to protect “intellectual property” interests of the entertainment industry, using unconstitutional and unethical measures that will destroy Internet freedom.

However, the problem goes much deeper and, if unchecked, must ultimately lead to government control of Internet content. Through claims of copyright violation, the government can go after any Internet site that they oppose, and largely silence opposition. In the hands of a power-seeking government (the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats), partnered with other governments that want bureaucratic control over the people (the EU, for example), the groundwork is being laid for tyrannical rule of the Internet by unelected bureaucrats through means that defy direct opposition.

Traditionally, intellectual property issues have been dealt with as civil matters, but in line with the government’s trend of a few decades, more and more actions have been criminalized. So “violators” may face jail time or fines and a criminal record even where nothing wrong has been done. An allegation might be sufficient.

COICA seems to be off the table for the moment, but don’t doubt that it will be back soon. We’ve yet to see the impact of the FCC’s “Net Neutrality” rules, or how the courts will finally rule in any of these matters. Internet freedom at this moment is more endangered than ever. Our best hope is citizen awareness and involvement putting pressure on our government officials to do their duty and protect our rights. The Tea Party has demonstrated that concerned citizens can affect public policy.


[1] Daniel Greenfield, “$335,906 is the Price of the Constitution,” 11/22/2010, Sultan Knish.

via Free Republic.

[2] Stephen C. Webster, “Oregon Senator Wyden effectively kills Internet censorship bill,”
11/19/2010, The Raw Story.


[3] Ibid.

[4] “Negotiations on an Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement (ACTA),” last modified 12/14/2010, Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property.



Photo: Portrait of Senator Ron Wyden. Public domain.
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

New TSA Procedures = Stupidity Itself

Seal of the United States Department of Homela...Image via WikipediaIt’s a good thing we have the Tea Party and citizens’ groups unafraid to take on our too-often ridiculous federal government over outrageous insults to our people. Look for more well-deserved protests over the Transportation Safety Administration’s nude body scans and “enhanced” pat-downs. I predict that these unreasonable procedures won’t hold up for long.

Things like this make it harder to have proper respect for government, particularly some of the more contemptible and pathetic features of the Obama Administration. It’s not enough to spend our country into financial oblivion and take over major industries, now they have crossed yet another line that should never be crossed, for reasons which, like the “climate change” nonsense, bear little resemblance to reality.

Under the phony guise of “safety” they treat people (as Ron Paul described) “like cattle,” and some people are willing to meekly accept it. Rep. Paul (R-TX) has introduced legislation to fix the problem. You may have seen this video before, but it’s worth another look:



If the authorities are really interested in protecting anyone, they should adopt Israel’s policy of putting people into a booth that will detonate any explosives they’re carrying. That would solve the problem.

But instead, the Porn and Pervert Department (TSA) is going to feel up passengers, child or adult, in ways that would constitute a sex crime if done by anyone else. An exception would possibly be Muslim women in burquas, since they are members of a special favored group these days. Or else, passengers must be run through a nude body scanner that will give the bureaucratic pervs something to chuckle over. What total nonsense. Americans simply can’t, and, I believe, won’t put up with this patently offensive and unconstitutional procedure.

Meanwhile George Soros and former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff stand to make a lot of money on the equipment used for this demeaning and sorry process. I predict they’ll be called to testify in a House investigation in 2011. Someone should be investigating the TSA and firing Janet Napolitano. She should demonstrate her approval of the TSA process by receiving a pat-down, joined by members of Congress, like Ron Paul suggested.

As for Chertoff, according to the Washington Examiner,

After the undie-bomber attempt on Christmas 2009, Chertoff went on a media tour promoting the use of these scanners, without disclosing that he was getting paid by Rapiscan, one of the two companies currently contracted by TSA to take a nude picture of you at the airport…

Chertoff was quickly reamed for not disclosing how he had monetized his public service.

The whole situation is depressing for two reasons:
1) It’s tawdry how much our “public servants” use their government jobs as meal tickets.2) It’s sad how much companies set up their businesses to depend on government, and thus lobbyists. [1]


George Soros?

As for the company’s other political connections, it also appears that none other than George Soros, the billionaire funder of the country’s liberal political infrastructure, owns 11,300 shares of OSI Systems Inc., the company that owns Rapiscan. Not surprisingly, OSI’s stock has appreciated considerably over the course of the year. Soros certainly is a savvy investor. [2]

Maybe not illegal, but bad form anyway. Whatever the means that led to the acquisition of these devices, the real offense is in their use.

Fortunately (I suppose), not every passenger is being subjected to this insufferable (I’m running out of adjectives here) treatment, which makes it look even more stupid. So Big Brother has yet another way to intrude into our private (and I mean private) lives. If this is allowed to continue, I hate to contemplate what the next step might be. Between this and Obamacare, your government appears to think that your body belongs to them.

The concerns over this outrageous procedure include possibly harmful radiation from the scans. TechNewsDaily reports that a lawsuit has been filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., seeking suspension of the scanning process until health concerns are addressed:

Radiation acts as a multiplier of natural cancer rates, Brenner said. There are 800,000 cases of basal cell carcinoma diagnosed in the United States each year, which is one of the most common cancers associated with X-ray exposure…

“There is no good reason why [TSA] scans the head and neck, especially since you can’t hide explosives there,” [David] Brenner [of Columbia University] said. [3]

Back to privacy concerns, the article reports,

The EPIC lawsuit states that the program run by the DHS violates the Privacy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. It also alleges that the systems violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, referencing religious laws about modesty.

“It violates modesty for many religions,” McCall said. “We’ve seen Catholics, Orthodox Jews and Muslims all upset by the invasive scanning technologies. It’s a violation of their religious freedom.” [4]

Not simply stating the problem, the article discusses a better alternative that doesn’t have the most objectionable features of the Rapiscan process. [5]

TSA procedures have been duly objected to by George Will and Charles Krauthammer, brilliant and eloquent columnists I greatly respect. You’ve probably read several things about this, but I thought I needed to toss in my two cents.

Full disclosure: I haven’t flown in several years, and I probably won’t again. But these government attacks on human dignity and liberty threaten everyone and make me angry. I admire John Tyner for voicing his famous objection. He is facing a possible large fine for his trouble.


[1] Timothy P. Carney, “Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary flacking for nudie-scanners, too,” 11/14/10, The Washington Examiner.


[2] Mark Hemingway, “George Soros also profiting off controversial new TSA scanners,”
11/14/2010, The Washington Examiner.


[3] Samantha Murphy, “Lawsuit Filed Over Airport Scanner Privacy, Health Concerns,” 08/06/2010, TechNewsDaily.

[4] and [5] Ibid.



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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

QE2: Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman ...Image via WikipediaWhat is QE2 and what is the Federal Reserve trying to accomplish?
The Fed decided to embark on a $600 billion plan to buy Treasury securities in order to balance out economic components to better fulfill their mandate for price stability and full employment.
Ben Bernanke’s statement:
“Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the [Federal Open Market] Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability. With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to remain subdued for some time before rising to levels the Committee considers consistent with its mandate …
“The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and is prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate.” [1]
What happened with QE1?
Mike Larson at FXStreet.com writes,
[In the housing and mortgage arena], [t]he Fed bought $175 billion in debt sold by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It also bought $300 billion in U.S. Treasuries, and $1.25 TRILLION in mortgage backed securities — bonds made up of bundles of home loans. [2]
Larson notes that key housing indicators such as housing starts, sales of existing homes, etc. demonstrate the failure of the QE1 effort to help the economy. [3]
Another writer sees the effort as likely to fail:
Mr. Bernanke is making the same blunder that we made with the past bubbles busts – if we can create paper profits and convince consumers that they should spend those paper profits then we’ll be on our way to economic prosperity. The problems arise when asset prices readjust lower to meet their true fundamentals. It’s ponzi finance and nothing more.
As I have previously explained, the goal of QE is to increase aggregate demand by creating a fictitious wealth effect and by increasing bank loans. [4]
Fed Independence in Danger? Or Fed Independence Is a Danger?
The Federal Reserve’s massive involvement in the TARP bailouts and QE1 have led to criticism of the Fed for getting involved in fiscal (in addition to monetary) policy. Thus the Fed has been subjected to more than usual political criticism and calls for its abolishment, and a return to the gold standard.
When the Fed is arbitrarily inflating the money supply by trillions, there will eventually be much more inflation than they claim to want. Bernanke says QE2 is supposed to ramp up inflation a bit so as to balance out with increased employment, thus getting both the Fed’s mandates into line.

It is certain that the Fed has not succeeded in its full-employment mandate. There hasn’t been a great amount of inflation because much of the newly-created money has sat in banks’ Federal Reserve accounts drawing minimal interest because banks don’t see much demand for loans due to the Obama Administration’s promotion of threatening conditions, i.e. higher taxes, Obamacare, and general hostility toward business large and small.

Do We Know the Real Reason for This Project?
J. D. Foster at National Review Online thinks Bernanke is not forthcoming about his actual reasons for wanting this “stimulus,” because of possible political consequences, but apparently it is not wanted simply to stave off deflation:
… If the economy is expected to muddle through, let alone accelerate, then there is no reason to embark on a highly risky, highly controversial new round of quantitative easing [to prevent deflation].
Why won’t Bernanke be transparent in this? Because he also worries about the Fed’s independence. Imagine President Obama’s reaction if the chairman of the Federal Reserve were to point out the obvious truth that the economy dare not sustain a massive tax hike at this time. Or if he were to say that the prospect of such a tax hike is what forced the Fed’s hand on QE, despite the risks. Whatever Bernanke’s intentions, this would be interpreted as a blatantly partisan act by the non-partisan Fed. [5]
Turn Off the Bubble Machine!
According to some of the Fed’s critics, especially of the Austrian school, the central bank’s manipulation of the currency is what brings on the bubbles, booms, busts, and accumulating inflation that our economy experiences. They point out that the Fed was slow to recognize (publicly, anyway) the housing bubble, leading to a deep recession which Peter Schiff was ridiculed for correctly predicting.

Marvin Hutchinson of Money Morning sees the Fed’s move as creating a commodities bubble that must burst:
By encouraging higher inflation - a stance that was clear in the recent statement of the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) - Bernanke is creating a commodities bubble that is already showing signs of distorting the global market. By keeping interest rates below inflation for years at a time, he is discouraging U.S. saving and encouraging leverage.
That leads to the creation of massive bubbles - such as are currently appearing in the junk bond market, and occurred in dot-com bubble of 1997-2000 and the housing bubble of 2003-06.
In the long run, the losses from those bubbles bursting - combined with the low savings rates - will destroy the U.S. capital base. Once the United States no longer has more available capital than its competitors, it will have less and less ability to create good-paying jobs and preserve U.S. living standards. Thus, unemployment will increase and real wages will decline. [6]
A satirical article at The Onion was headlined, “Recession-Plagued Nation Demands New Bubble To Invest In.”
But we’ve had enough of the bubble-and-burst cycles.
World financial leaders oppose it.
Reuters reports:
Resentment abroad stems from worry that Fed pump-priming will hasten the U.S. dollar's slide and cause their currencies to shoot up in value, setting the stage for asset bubbles and making a future burst of inflation more likely.
“With all due respect, U.S. policy is clueless,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told a conference.
“(The problem) is not a shortage of liquidity. It's not that the Americans haven't pumped enough liquidity into the market, and now to say let's pump more into the market is not going to solve their problems.” [7]
 Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at The Telegraph reports that the world views the Fed action as a move to devalue the dollar:
China's commerce ministry fired an irate broadside against Washington on Monday. "The continued and drastic US dollar depreciation recently has led countries including Japan, South Korea, and Thailand to intervene in the currency market, intensifying a 'currency war'. In the mid-term, the US dollar will continue to weaken and gaming between major currencies will escalate," it said. [8]
Further, Evans-Pritchard writes,
As this anti-dollar revolt gathers momentum worldwide, the US risks losing its "exorbitant privilege" of currency hegemony – to use the term of Charles de Gaulle. [9]
Evans-Pritchard expects the Fed’s policy to bring more food inflation to countries that can least afford it:
The innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of Fed policy are poor countries such as India, where primary goods make up 60pc of the price index and food inflation is now running at 14pc. It is hard to gauge the impact of a falling dollar on commodities, but the pattern in mid-2008 was that it led to oil, metal, and grain price rises with multiple leverage. The core victims were the poorest food-importing countries in Africa and South Asia. Tell them that QE2 brings good news. [10]
Conclusion
The Fed’s decision to implement QE2 will lead to inflation, reducing the value of the dollar, and aggravate currency relationships with other countries. This will contribute to weakened purchasing power for Americans, who already are cheated of the ability to gain from saving, and will contribute little to nothing to economic recovery. It will do nothing to increase demand in America or elsewhere.

Loosening money and credit even more won’t help when interest rates are near zero already, and banks are lacking customers who want to borrow. QE2 exacerbates the problem by introducing more risk and uncertainly into the markets. It’s been correctly characterized as a back-door tax increase.

Also, the Fed subjects itself to even more scrutiny and criticism, and risks the independence it so wants to protect. Both the dollar and the economy would benefit greatly from less manipulation and “help” from the government and the Fed.

[1] Mike Larson, “Fed confirms: QE2 on tap … despite dismal failure of QE1! Have these guys gone nuts??” 09/24/2010, FXStreet.com.

[2] and [3] Ibid.

[4] Pragmatic Capitalism, “Northern Trust: QE1 Failed, Why Will QE2 Work?” 10/10/2010.

[5] J.D. Foster, “Why Bernanke’s QE Justifications Don’t Wash,” 11/15/2010, The Corner, National Review Online.

[6] Marvin Hutchinson, “As QE2 Looms, Is the Fed Focusing on the Wrong Things?” 10/08/2010, Money Morning. (Emphasis added)

[7] Glenn Somerville and Zhou Xin, “Global anger swells at Fed Actions.” 11/05/2010, Reuters, via Yahoo! News.

[8] Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “QE2 risks currency wars and the end of dollar hegemony,” 11/18/2010, The Telegraph (U.K.).

[9] and [10] Ibid.

Photo: Portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Public domain.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Debt Commission Co-Chairs: Raise Taxes, Cut Spending, Including Social Security and Medicare

White House Photo, Erskine Bowles, US Govt. Ca...Image via WikipediaReport Gathers Negative Comments
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (“Debt Commission”) has issued a draft report by its Co-Chairmen Erskine Bowles and Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY). As the co-chairmen said, it is not likely to be well-received by all.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [of California] called the targeting of Social Security and Medicare “simply unacceptable,” and Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas expressed opposition to proposals to raise taxes. [1]
 Business and Media Institute, in an article, points out that of the three major broadcast evening news programs, only CBS reporter Chip Reid mentioned that the report calls for tax increases of $961 billion over 10 years as estimated by Americans for Tax Reform.

The BMI article noted that “ATR slammed the report saying, ‘It confirms what everyone has known – this commission is merely an excuse to raise net taxes on the American people.’” [2]
The plan is calculated to reduce the federal deficit by $3.8 billion over 10 years. It arguably falls well short of what is needed, since we would still have massive deficits and very high national debt. But the political will to reduce the deficit substantially seems to be lacking, because it would interfere with important benefits.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the chairmen had told “working Americans to ‘Drop Dead,’” while Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) faulted the report for cutting Social Security benefits while reducing corporate and upper-income taxes. [3]
Spending Cuts Are Necessary, Higher Taxes Are Not
What’s missing in Trumka’s and Grijalva’s analyses is the concept that “reducing corporate and upper-income taxes” is precisely the thing that would help more “working Americans” get back to work. Union members are going to find an increasingly difficult marketplace for the products and services they provide if more and more people are out of work because of the unfavorable and uncertain tax picture.

Also, it is not safe to assume that raising taxes and cutting out popular deductions will increase revenues. Increased revenues will result from policies that encourage business expansion and hiring, especially lower income tax rates that are not offset by tax and fee increases elsewhere. Increased net taxes don’t free up capital. Also, the proposal to tax capital gains at ordinary income tax rates will slow, not encourage investment. If you want less of something, tax it.

But significant spending cuts are essential to any improvement in the deficit picture. Deficits and debt in the range we’re seeing today cannot continue for many years. At current spending levels, debt service alone takes up a very large share of the budget. The spending cuts mentioned are good, but not enough. Defund NPR and PBS. Yes, fine.

Welfare can be cut extensively. It has been recently increased dramatically. We could get back to 2008 levels and further. The biggest sacred cows are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. These items represent unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions of dollars, and the Social Security Trust Fund will never be adequate because it is basically worthless. My suggestion is to phase out these programs over a period of 25 to 30 years while grandfathering in current recipients and people who are scheduled to receive benefits fairly soon. Younger people should be advised to provide for their own retirements and health care.

The commission report calls for increasing the retirement age and trimming certain benefits over a long period of years.

Of course, the trouble with any plan, the Debt Commission’s or any other that covers a lot of years, is that there’s no assurance that it will be carried out beyond the current Congressional term if enacted into current law. Any future Congress can greatly change or scrap the program or any part of it. So for future officials, it’s simply a suggestion.

Steps That Will Definitely Help the Economy
The report seems to have been timed for, as Rush Limbaugh suggested, the lame-duck session of Congress. It is seen by some (including me) as an excuse to raise taxes, but it is also more than that, in that it seriously proposes substantial spending cuts. If America is to avoid a financial collapse certain things need to be done:
1. Significantly reduce spending, including entitlements.
2. Hold the line on taxes. If businesses were assured of a level tax burden, especially if the tax code could be simplified so that compliance costs would be lower, there would be much more incentive to hire people.
3. Pull back on intrusive regulations. These regulations are really just another kind of tax, considering the time and money required to comply.
4. Substantially cut the size of government, eliminating some Cabinet departments and large programs.
Remember:
To effectively reduce the deficit and national debt, we must improve the economy.

Conclusion
The Hill article reports,
The White House reserved judgment in a statement that said the president would not comment until a full commission report is released.
It’s unclear whether that will even happen. The commission report must be agreed by 14 of the 18 members to win approval, and some liberals on the panel criticized the chairman’s proposal. [4]
I think Bowles may be correct in characterizing the report as a “strong starting point.” [5]Congress and the Administration, sometime soon, must take responsibility for getting spending under control and stopping the lemming-like stampede to the edge of the cliff.

Otherwise, the laws of economics and finance will take over and we’ll see not only a bad economy, but a currency collapse and the degrading of our standard of living. There is time to avoid that and turn things around. Economic growth and job growth can happen fairly soon, but not with endless spending and new taxes.

The National Inflation Association said all Americans will be millionaires due to hyperinflation. Are they right? Remember Zimbabwe. The Fed is already monetizing the debt, i.e., beginning to pay it off with newly-printed money. That’s what their $600 billion “QE2” plan is about. Until some new collapse actually hits, it may seem like no action is needed. But things are not always what they seem to be.

[1] Heidi Przybyla and Brian Faler, “Deficit Plan Matches $3.8 Trillion Math With Tough Politics,” 11/11/2010, Bloomberg.

[2] Julia A. Seymour, “‘Explosive’ Debt Commission Recommendations Include $961 billion Tax Hikes,” 11/11/2010, Business and Media Institute.

[3] Alexander Bolton, “Pelosi, political left rip proposal from debt commission chairmen,” 11/10/2010, On the Money blog, The Hill.

[4] and [5] Ibid.

Photo: Portrait of Mr. Erskine Bowles. Public domain.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You: GOP Mainstreamers Attack Tea Party

Jim DeMint, Incumbent SenatorImage via WikipediaMaybe it’s just that some of their friends lost their GOP primary races to Tea Party candidates. Maybe some good-old-boy networks are feeling the heat. Could be it’s more the changing times that are uncomfortable to some established officials.

But the complaints about the Tea Party, coming from Republican establishment figures are off the mark.

For example: Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) claimed that Sarah Palin prevented the GOP from taking control of the Senate because Tea Party candidates Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, who won their primary races, failed to defeat their Democratic opponents in the general election, although it was believed that had they not challenged other GOP candidates, the Senate seats would have ended up in the GOP column. The Hill reported:

“The Senate would be Republican today except for states [in which Palin endorsed candidates] like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware,” Bachus said at a local Chamber of Commerce event last week, the Shelby County Reporter wrote Sunday. “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate.” [1]
The Tea Party backed candidates on the basis of principle, which trumped some people’s idea of electability, thinking that electing a RINO (Republican in name only) is hardly better than electing a Democrat. The Tea Party is issues-oriented.

While it may be true that certain Tea Party candidates were less electable than their establishment primary opponents, the Tea Party should be given a lot of credit for the Republicans’ success in the general election. What they brought to the table was great energy and a focus on issues. Perceived RINO’s did not receive their support because they did not support the Tea Party’s issue positions, notably, small government, spending cuts, and repeal of Obamacare.
According to The Hill’s article, Bachus spoke for others in the GOP as well: “Some Republicans have privately groused that Tea Party-backed candidates who were not electable prevented the GOP from taking control of the upper chamber.” [2]
 Well, the GOP picked up enough seats to deny the Democrats anything near the 60-vote supermajority that they wanted, and now they are in a position to stop legislation they don’t want. That’s a substantial increase in power. Even though the Democrats may have lacked the full 60 votes before, they could sometimes get some Republicans to vote with them. Now (that is, starting in 2011), that will be much more difficult.

Some mainstreamers, especially those who were defeated in the primaries, will probably never have any love for the Tea Party, but the GOP is actually better off without the ones who are too timid to put up opposition to the Democrats, and are just as out of touch with voters as the Democrats are.

Senator Lindsey Graham has gone from wholesale dissing of the Tea Party movement in early July to “reaching out” to them by September.

A New York Times Magazine article of July 4, 2010, quotes Graham:

"Everything I’m doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement’s at,” Graham said as Cato drove him to the city of Greenwood, where he was to give a commencement address at Lander University later that morning. On four occasions, Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was “very, very contentious,” he recalled. During a later meeting, in Charleston, Graham said he challenged them: “ ‘What do you want to do? You take back your country — and do what with it?’ . . . Everybody went from being kind of hostile to just dead silent.” [3]
 He went on to predict the demise of the Tea Party movement: “The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.” [4]

An angry reaction by the Tea Party was forthcoming, as one might expect, as reported by The Democrat Daily:

“Lindsey Graham’s repeated public attacks on the hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians like me who have participated in tea party events displays an arrogance and contempt for the views of his constituents that is beyond the pale,” says Allen Olson, chairman of the Columbia (S.C.) Tea Party. “It is among the reasons three South Carolina GOP committees from Charleston, Greenville and Lexington Counties have censured him in the past two years.” [5]
 However, Sen. Graham, while not changing his views on the issues and on working across the aisle, seemed more conciliatory in September. According to an article in The Hill, Graham met with a Tea Party group in Charleston, SC:

Graham defended himself as a mainstream conservative, and expressed worry that public officials like himself were being effectively prohibited from expressing disagreement with the party.
“If you can't accept me pushing back, then our party does have a problem. It's OK for you to push back against me, but it's OK for me to push back against you,” Graham said on WTMA radio in South Carolina, where he received a grilling over his record. “You may not like my political style of trying to find compromise on the big issues of our time, but I think it's the heart and soul of what makes America great.” [6]
 A Politico article states:
With tea party-backed candidates going down in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada, depriving Republicans of what would have been a 50-50 Senate, a bloc of prominent senators and operatives said party purists like Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had foolishly pushed nominees too conservative to win in politically competitive states. [7]
 So, the GOP is involved in a needless and possibly destructive quarrel, when they need to be united in their election victories. Where would they be today without the Tea Party? Probably where they were before the election, with citizens deeply dissatisfied with Obama’s policies, yet finding inadequate response from the GOP in Congress, mainly because of low numbers. There would be public protests, but with a lot less organized action to change things.

The Tea Party led the way to the GOP victory. They understood and shared the dissatisfaction of most Americans with Washington and found ways to make changes. To me, this is the epitome of citizenship in action. The energy they contributed was indispensable. And it should serve notice that the people still have some power. Democrats and Republicans, take notice.

And to the complaining GOP members of Congress: You will have a House majority and a much-improved Senate-seat count largely because of the energy and determination of the Tea Party. They didn’t win all their races. But they were successful enough that there shouldn’t be a lot of whining from you. Count your blessings.


[1] Jordan Fabian, “Key Republican: Palin cost us the senate,” 11/08/2010, Blog Briefing Room, The Hill.



[2] Ibid.

[3] Robert Draper, “Lindsey Graham, This Year’s Maverick,” 07/04/2010, The New York Times Magazine.



[4] Ibid.

[5] Scott Nance, “Tea Party Groups Blast Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham For Criticism In Times Profile,” 07/06/2010, The Democrat Daily.



[6] Michael O’Brien, “Sen. Graham reaches out to Tea Party,” 09/03/2010, Blog Briefing Room, The Hill.

[7] Jonathan Martin and Manu Raju, “GOP senators fight over failure,” 11/03/2010, Politico.
Photo: Portrait of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina). Public domain.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Obama’s Plan To Embarrass America in the UN: “Human Rights” To Be “Reviewed”

President Barack Obama, supposed champion of “diplomacy,” has arranged for America’s detractors to judge us on our human rights record. The U.S. is to be evaluated by countries whose own human rights records range from dismal to inhuman. Continuing President George W. Bush’s policy of non-participation in this farce would be a no-brainer to anyone except those of the radical-liberal-fascist-socialist persuasion. But not to Mr. Obama. It’s a diplomatic mistake rarely equaled short of war-or-peace negotiations.

The politicization of the process is obvious to all but the most ignorant of the situation. Here is an unusual opportunity for such regimes as Libya, Cuba, Iran, etc. to paint America as an international villain, when, in fact, America is a shining example of an excellent human rights record, one far better than those of her critics. One must conclude that our involvement in this charade is an example of extremely inept “diplomacy” on the part of the Obama Administration, or else a deliberate attempt to undermine America’s international standing.

As Patrick Goodenough of CNS News points out, countries under review get the speakers’ slots stacked with their allies, many of whom have terrible human rights records, and the process can become simply mutual praise of oppressive regimes, or, in the case of, say, the U.S., the opposite occurs:
In a bid to preempt anticipated criticism from liberal democracies, countries with poor records are reportedly ensuring that their allies sign up in large numbers so as to dominate proceedings with anodyne expressions of support.
Conversely, when a state under review (SuR) is a democracy that for some reason is viewed with antagonism by other countries, the speakers’ list is quickly filled by countries wishing to use the UPR as an opportunity to attack their chosen target. [1]
This has been the pattern. So look for dictatorial regimes to criticize America for every possible problem that can be blown out of proportion. Obama helped set the agenda for this with his criticism at the UN of Arizona’s immigration law (See my previous article here). While most Americans would rightly view America’s race relations as much improved and greatly better than in past decades, the professional race-baiting community is never going to accept anything, since doing so would be admitting that their activity is no longer needed. And opponents of capital punishment can’t resist another forum to criticize the U.S. on that score.

If it weren’t for the fact that this ridiculous process touches on serious international relations, it would certainly be laughable. Iran criticizing U.S. human rights? Venezuela? Cuba? Countries where there are no human rights?
Examples of the “violations” prevalent in the U.S., [Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast] said, were police brutality, discrimination toward minorities, and insults directed [at] religion under the pretext of freedom of speech.
A Tehran Times article quoting Mehmanparast’s remarks reported that there were 45 executions in the United States in 2009, up from 37 in of 2008. [2]
The U.S. has submitted a report listing some of America’s human rights shortcomings. No one claims that America is perfect but to invite the sort of dishonest and exaggerated criticism that will likely be leveled by nations who wish the U.S. no good is neither cathartic nor helpful in any other way, except to the truly vicious regimes that want to sit in judgment. The report “[l]ists achievements as a democracy guided by ‘simple but powerful principles,’ but admits to discrimination against blacks and Hispanics and a ‘broken’ immigration system.” [3]

So, Iranian, Cuban, and Venezuelan “spokespersons” are lining up to trash the U.S. when their own countries are filled with incidents of political murder and imprisonment, and whose own people are suffering oppression at the hands of their cruel and hypocritical regimes.


[1] Patrick Goodenough, “Cuba, Venezuela, Iran Top the List of Countries Lining Up to Scrutinize U.S. Human Rights Record During U.N. Review,” 11/04/2010, CNS News.

[2]  Ibid.

[3] Stephanie Nebehay, “Factbox: U.S. Report to U.N. Human Rights Council,” 11/03/2010, Reuters.
 Apparently this article is no longer available.

Photo: Dreamstime.com
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Friday, October 29, 2010

On November 2, Democrats Will Reap the Rewards for Ignoring the People

United States President Barack Obama signs int...Image via WikipediaOctober 29, 2010
“Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument do not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we're hardwired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And the country's scared.” -- President Barack Obama [1]

Yeah, clinging to our guns and religion.

Republicans Poised for Big Wins
It has been generally predicted that the Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives. Nate Silver of The New York Times calculates that the GOP will end up with about 232 seats. Control of the Senate is somewhat less likely, but there should be good gains. Silver predicts 48 seats for the GOP. Anyway, the Democrats should be well short of the 60-vote supermajority they need to pass their controversial bills. Republicans will also gain significantly in governorships. [2]

Obama Says Voters Can’t Think Straight
Obama doesn’t seem to understand that people don’t like his policies, and that they have good reason not to like them.

He has previously said that he hasn’t done a good enough job of selling his agenda. But he has made it too clear, and the majority of voters are rejecting it.

The president still blames Bush at every opportunity, saying his policies got us into the economic mess we’re in. Well, Bush over-spent and caved to Paulson’s bailout demands. But Obama carried the bailouts to the next level, spent almost a trillion dollars on the failed “stimulus,” and wants to spend a lot more. Bush’s deficit, though large, will pale in comparison to Obama’s. Obama’s talk about deficit reduction is simply a joke.

The majority of voters are not ignoring, but using “fact and science and argument” to rebut Obama’s ideas. They are scared of what Obamaism is bringing, and they are suffering from its effects. Common sense tells them that endless spending will not help the economy, but will eventually destroy it. Higher taxes, more and stricter regulations, and government’s anti-business attitude will not help the unemployment situation, but exacerbate it. They are angry because they are losing jobs and prosperity, and Obama either doesn‘t know what to do, or else is deliberately letting this happen.. And they are thinking more clearly than the out-of-touch Obama and his elite advisers.

Obama, and this is too obvious, wants to adopt the same policies that have led Europe to its present state of rapid decline. Paul Krugman notwithstanding, we are on our way to where Britain is now, facing severe austerity measures just to save our economy and currency from complete collapse. Of course Obama thinks Britain and the EU should be spending more. And in socialist Europe, any kind of reduction of the too-generous government benefits tends to lead to riots, such as we’ve seen in Greece and France.

Tea Party Influence Is Crucial
Like them or not, the Tea Party has succeeded in bringing several issues to the forefront of national attention, and has established itself as an influential force in American politics. Liberals try to dismiss it, but they are losing power at its hands. The Republican Party has a chance to use a conservative mandate to advance a conservative agenda and stop or slow Obama’s plans. If the GOP fails to do this, the Tea Party will publicize their failures, and voters will hold them accountable. The Tea Party has helped voters to see that something can be done about the politicians who are causing the trouble, and that the voice of the people can ultimately prevail, even though it is being tuned out by the current Administration and congressional majority. Voters are too upset to think straight, y’know.

The Tea Party has helped to make this an issues-focused and accountability-intense election, and for that we can be grateful. Democrats’ thoughtless attacks and phony racism claims will hurt themselves much more than they will hurt the Tea Party.

A fact that liberals can’t seem to understand is that even though most people don’t claim any affiliation with the Tea Party, there are millions who do, and the Tea Party largely represents the views of the majority of American voters.

Most Voters Will Get It Right
If the polls indicate the actual election results, voters will largely reject the job-destroying, freedom-threatening Obama program. It is about Obama. His policies have led to the most widespread anti-government mood in memory, and justly so. There is a backlash because the Administration and Democratic congressional majority have blatantly ignored the will of the people, and are presenting them with the astronomical bill for their fascist-socialist, unconstitutional actions.


[1] Quoted by Michael Barone, “Voters Fed up With Obama’s Big, Bossy Government,” 10/25/2010, Patriot Post.

[2] See: Nate Silver, “‘Robopolls’ Significantly More Favorable to Republicans Than Traditional Surveys,” The New York Times.

Photo: President Obama signs "Stimulus" bill. Public domain.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hidden (?) Agenda of Climate/Environmental Alarmists

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate...Image via Wikipedia
The underlying purpose of the “climate-change” alarmist movement is to concentrate government power by claiming that climate changes are going to bring about such catastrophic events that dictatorial international government, supported by high taxes, must act to stop it. Some say it’s too late to act. Some say we must act quickly. UN climate conferences have attempted, unsuccessfully thus far, to get binding international agreements to address this so-called problem. It is unfortunate that the U.S. Government is so anxious to impose restrictions and regulations on everyone because of this false issue.

I do not believe that climate change is affected to any significant degree by mankind, nor do I believe that man can do anything significant to change it. It is possible to make things worse by pollution. The environmental movement has many radical proponents who are anti-Western, anti-prosperity, anti-business communists, including more extremist criminals than one might suppose.


Special Lord Monckton Interview: Scientific Misconduct Needed to Push Nwo Objective 2/5
One of the best explanations of the climate-change and environmentalist movements and their actual objectives (probably unknown to many organizational members) is given by Lord Christopher Monckton in the following video, one of a series of videos posted on YouTube:



His comments on Greenpeace strike me as quite interesting. Lest anyone think that the N.W.O. (New World Order) is simply a conspiracy theory, consider the actions of various governments in response to the climate “crisis,” not to mention the “financial meltdown,” both of which situations require little to no government action other than getting out of the way.

Conclusion
The radical fascist-socialist-Marxist Obama Administration is on board with central planning on world-wide basis. Of course, Obama sees himself as a “citizen of the world” rather than an American, and is anxious to engage our enemies diplomatically. We are in far greater danger from government action (loss of liberty and loss of national wealth) than we are from anything related to the climate or the environment due to nature.
Photo: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP14, Poznan, Poland (public domain).
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Campaign of Desperation? Obama’s War on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

President Barack Obama and his people are engaged in a fairly strong effort to discredit the United States Chamber of Commerce by accusing them of spending foreign money in the current election campaigns. This has brought vehement denials from the Chamber and other groups the White House has been aiming at with similar accusations.

If you were wondering whether Obama is anti-business, this should be the clincher in that debate. (See my recent article). Now, of course, “Big Business” is the bad guy, more or less in the same category, rhetorically speaking, as “Wall Street,” just greedy fat cats who will stoop to anything to promote their agenda.

As reported by Politifact,
Here's what the president said at a rally on Oct. 7, 2010, on behalf of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley:
“Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations. So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections. And they won't tell you where the money (for) their ads comes from.”
On ABC's This Week on Oct. 10, 2010, George Will connected the dots: “Well, he won't tell us who he's talking about. He's talking about the Chamber of Commerce, which does indeed receive dues from foreign entities that are associated with American business, just as the AFL-CIO receives dues from foreign entities associated with it. And -- and the shock and awe that we're supposed to feel from this is somewhat selective.” ….
…[N]o one has offered any evidence that the Chamber of Commerce is not complying with that law [i.e., the law requiring that foreign funds be segregated.] [1]
Karl Rove rightly points out that Obama’s statements are not in keeping with a President’s proper behavior, as reported by Fox News:
“Have these people no shame? Does the president of the United States have such little regard for the office that he holds that he goes out there and makes these kind of baseless charges against his political enemies?” Rove said. “This is just beyond the pale. How dare the president do this.” …. [2]
Soon-to-depart Presidential adviser David Axelrod believes it’s OK for government officials to hurl charges and claim that the ones accused must prove they are not guilty. The Hill blogger Walter Alarkon writes:
Axelrod was pressed by CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Sunday for evidence that the foreign campaign contributions benefiting the GOP is more than “peanuts.”
“Do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?” Axelrod said on “Face the Nation.” “The fact is that the Chamber has asserted that, but they won’t release any information about where their campaign money is coming from. And that’s at the core of the problem.” ….
“Don’t accuse those who are playing by the rules of somehow doing something that is unethical or illegal,” [Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed] Gillespie said on “Face the Nation.”

Gillespie added that it was “an unbelievable mentality” for Axelrod to assert charges about foreign contributions without backing them up [3]
As Fox News has noted:
“David Axelrod is either woefully uninformed or willfully deceptive and dishonest,” Gillespie said. [4]

Not even AP, usually a reliable helper for Obama, is ready to go along with these reckless accusations:
The Obama administration and its allies are going all out against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and GOP-leaning groups, accusing them of using foreign money to help finance political ads. Trouble is, they're providing no evidence …
“I challenge the Chamber of Commerce to tell us how much of the money they're investing is from foreign sources,” Biden said during a fundraiser for Democratic Rep. Chris Carney in Scranton. “I challenge them, if I'm wrong I will stand corrected. But show me, show me.” …. [5]
The AP article quotes a Chamber official as saying that no money from foreign sources is used for political purposes. [6] Also:
Bruce Josten, the chamber's top lobbyist, was even more pointed: “We are seeing an attempt to demonize specific groups and distract Americans from a failed economic agenda,” he said in a statement. [7]
Various published reports have said that the Chamber has spent $25 million for political advertising, and expects to spend $50 million more this election cycle. This is what has Obama’s forces worried, because most of that money will be in support of GOP-leaning causes. As the reader can see, there are several things the Republicans find objectionable about the president’s war on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

1. It makes a serious charge while offering no evidence.
2. It assumes guilt until innocence is proven.
3. It ignores the fact that unions and other Democratic-supporting organizations also receive foreign money and engage in political spending, but no one thus far has questioned their compliance with the law governing foreign funds.
4. It is seen as an attack on business and portrays Obama as anti-business.
5. It contributes to what businesses perceive as a hostile environment, one that discourages business expansion and hiring, through high taxes, over-regulation, and the federal government’s generally hostile attitude.
6. It is a lie and a cheap campaign trick perpetrated by people who ought to act better.

This charge could very well backfire, and open the Democrats up for more scrutiny. Remember Clinton‘s “Chinagate”? Also, voters these days are quite capable of seeing through such phoniness.

No one should be shocked or surprised at such a ridiculous charge. But, neither should anyone be ignorant of the fact that it is unsupported and hypocritical.

[1] “President Barack Obama says foreign money coming in to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may be helping to fund attack ads,” 10/11/2010, Politifact. According to the website, “PolitiFact is a project of the St. Petersburg Times to help you find the truth in politics.”

[2] “Rove, Gillespie Slam Obama for Spreading ‘Baseless Lie’ Over Foreign Contributions,” 10/10/10, Fox News.

[3] Walter Alarkon, “Axelrod: Chamber must prove foreign money accusations false,” 10/10/10, Blog Briefing Room, The Hill.

[4] “Rove, Gillespie Slam Obama for Spreading ‘Baseless Lie’ Over Foreign Contributions,” See [2].

[5] Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press, “SPIN METER: Foreign money in politics? Not proven,” 10/11/2010, via Yahoo! News.

[6] and [7] Ibid.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eddie’s Simple But Reliable Voting Guide

The primaries are over, and the general elections draweth nigh. It has been predicted that Republicans will make major gains in the November elections, but the Democrats are still in charge for one more session of Congress, a lame-duck affair, in which they may try to vote in some of their least-liked policies.

I am suggesting a highly simplified, yet very effective voting guide that will help our country avoid a good many problems, and solve some of the aggravating troubles we currently have. With President Barack Obama still in office and ready to wield the veto pen, the GOP can at least (1) propose better policies, and (2) slow down the Obama agenda. With the people supporting conservatism, the GOP can be surprisingly successful.

The voting guide I am recommending is simply this: Avoid voting for any candidates of the Democratic Party. For every Democratic congressional candidate defeated, Obama loses a vote in Congress. Even the “conservative” Democrats vote with the president most of the time, and in fact are not very conservative.

People who live in states where the budget is in a large deficit can generally see how this is most often attributable to liberal Democratic state officials who love to spend.

It’s true that there are some RINOs left. Not all the best conservatives won their primaries, but that should have been taken care of in the primary campaigns. Many good conservatives did win. None had a “D” by their name. It is important that Democrats be defeated if we are to stop Obama’s fascist-socialist-Marxist plans from coming to further fruition. It is to be hoped that Obamacare can be stopped by defunding, and later by repeal. That likely won’t happen unless there is a Republican majority in the House, but the Republicans, even if they fail to gain control of either house, should at least be able to deny the Democrats the 60-vote supermajority they would need in the Senate to pass controversial bills.

Some people are saying they’ll vote against all incumbents, but that is not a reliable way to change the direction of Washington. Voting against an incumbent Republican will only facilitate the election of some Democrat, who in all likelihood will be ten times worse than the Republican, even if the Republican leaves a lot to be desired.

The Tea Party is not essentially anti-incumbent, but pro-conservative. They know that with liberals in charge, we will face economic disaster through uncontrolled spending and higher taxes. Their policies will ensure perpetual high unemployment and an eventual currency collapse.

Continuing Democrat majorities will also ensure more anti-life policies, more anti-Christian and pro-Islamic attitudes, and less freedom for individuals. For those who want to vote for the “person, not the party,” when you vote Democratic, no matter how good the candidate seems, you are voting for the party of Chicago-style operations, forced unionism, food taxes, carbon taxes, and increasingly centralized government and endless Keynesian spending. Any thought of a balanced budget is a low priority with these people, no matter what is said.

This voting guide is simple, but will be found to be effective if it is used.

If Republicans win, strong effort must be made to hold them to their promises. They have disappointed us before. But this can be done, and is greatly preferable to giving the socialists more time in office.

(Not authorized by any candidate, party or campaign. Personal opinion only.)

Illustration: Dreamstime.com

Thursday, September 23, 2010

“Pledge to America” Looks Like a Winner

House GOP Leader John Boehner
According to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the “Pledge to America,” unveiled September 23, 2010 by House Republican Leader John Boehner and other GOP Congressional leaders, is a non-exhaustive list of items that represent the first things that should be done if the GOP gains a majority in Congress. As he points out, the whole conservative agenda could not be accomplished while Barack Obama is president, but many things could be done.



I see the “Pledge to America” as a strong positive statement that GOP members of Congress should be evaluated by, and to which its supporters must be held accountable. For all the possible criticisms of it, it represents something far, far superior to the Obama agenda, and, if adhered to faithfully, it should save our country from a lot of misery and loss, and correct some glaring problems.

The document represents a governing philosophy that is very much different from that of the current Administration. It honors the words of the founding documents, and recognizes such common-sense things as the need to control spending and to stop tax increases.

From a draft of the document, found here, I have quoted from it (in bold) and made some comments (not in bold).

America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.


Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.


These first principles were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, enshrined in the Constitution, and have endured through hard sacrifice and commitment by generations of Americans.


In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent.

It should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention that the current regime is consciously ruling contrary to the wishes of the American people in many policies, notably proposed tax increases and Obamacare, as well as a foreign policy that disrespects America’s past and panders to dictatorial regimes that wish us no good.


An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many….


The need for urgent action to repair our economy and reclaim our government for the people cannot be overstated.

The situation is serious and getting worse daily. The so-called recovery has led to very little economic growth or job growth, and a second dip appears probable. Meanwhile, our Federal government is aggressively pursuing European-style socialist policies that will result in permanent double-digit unemployment and a poorer, weaker nation. However, the ruling elites will fit in better with their international counterparts.

A plan to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive must be the first and most urgent domestic priority of our government. So first, we offer a plan to get people working again. We will end the attack on free enterprise by repealing job-killing policies and taking steps to assure current businesses and future entrepreneurs that the government will not stifle their ability to compete in the global marketplace.


By permanently stopping job-killing tax hikes, families will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money and small businesses will have the stability they need to invest in our economy and help grow our workforce. We will further encourage small businesses to create jobs by allowing them to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income.

Americans view the economic issues as most urgent. The GOP could do a lot to get government out of the way and let the markets solve the problem. At any rate, the government must promote private sector economic activity. The Keynesian approach of recent years has grown government, deficits and debt on a massive scale, but that’s about all. Even that phony growth is bound for collapse unless fundamental changes are made.

We offer a plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care with common-sense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs. We will enact real medical liability reform; allow Americans to purchase health coverage across state lines; empower small businesses with greater purchasing power; and create new incentives to save for future health needs. We will protect the doctor-patient relationship, and ensure that those with pre-existing conditions gain access to the coverage they need. We will permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion and codify the Hyde Amendment.

The GOP could do a lot, if in the majority, to repeal or at least de-fund the hated Obamacare program. The steps listed for replacing it are meritorious, but even doing nothing would have been better than Obamacare. While the document is not strong on details about social issues, it certainly represents a strong step in the right direction from the anti-life positions of Obama and company.

Why the Pledge Is Important
The “Pledge to America” stakes out positions and principles showing great contrast with the Obama agenda. This includes the idea of self-government as opposed to central planning. It promotes the responsibility of Congress, as the people’s representatives, to act as needed without having legislative powers usurped by the president and executive agencies.

Just these changes of philosophy -- limited government, more freedom, and low taxes, are light years from Obama’s ultimate design.

Some Responses
Michelle Malkin offered her thoughts on the “Pledge” on Fox News:



Politico reports:
In confronting Obama, Republicans make clear that a takeover of the House could lead to a contentious two years, and possibly gridlock, if both sides aren’t willing to compromise. Most of the ideas have little chance of becoming law in a divided government, but the “Pledge to America” is aimed at defining an agenda for a party that has been accused of not having one in the Obama era. [1]
Divided government is very likely, but that would be immensely preferable to an authoritarian president supported by a rubber-stamp Congress that's even more radical than himself, if that's possible. Too bad we didn't have enough gridlock to prevent Obamacare and other unread thousand-plus-page bills from being passed.

 The editors of National Review see the “Pledge” as a favorable development:

…The inevitable question will be: Is the pledge as bold as the Contract?
The answer is: The pledge is bolder. The Contract with America merely promised to hold votes on popular bills that had been bottled up during decades of Democratic control of the House. The pledge commits Republicans to working toward a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous…. [2]
Eric Erickson of RedState ridicules the document as something that will very soon be forgotten by the GOP and everyone else.

There is no call for a Spending Limitation Amendment or a Balanced Budget Amendment. It is just meaningless stuff the Democrats can easily undo and that ultimately the Senate GOP will even turn its nose up at.
The entirety of this Promise is laughable. Why? It is an illusion that fixates on stuff the GOP already should be doing while not daring to touch on stuff that will have any meaningful longterm effects on the size and scope of the federal government. [3]
For me, the issue is not the document so much as the GOP maintaining a commitment to its content. Paul Ryan says there is specific legislation relating to the stated positions. The Pledge recognizes that Republicans have often failed to limit government and spending while they were in power.

It’s true that some enacted or became what they had campaigned against. That would demonstrate a problem with integrity, not with their stated goals. The dizzying cocktail-party circuit of the Beltway is said to pull people in, who then compromise their principles in order to gain popularity and maintain social standing. That represents human weakness, not weakness of the principles that had been claimed, then abandoned.

Conclusion
If the GOP would like to actually stay in power once they have gained it, they need to embrace their inner conservative and get on board with the Tea Party. Act boldly to fundamentally change the government’s attitude and the abuses in the way Congress operates. Place principle above self-promotion. Have more respect for the founding documents than for the New York Times’ latest comments.

Otherwise, after a short while in power, there’ll be another fascist-socialist-Marxist like Obama who will get his own party in power. The thing about liberals is that they never quit. They’re always there, ready to challenge. They must be held in check for the good of the country. With liberals in power, there will be no end of excessive spending until the currency is worthless, and no end to finding more “rights” and “victims” that taxpayers must support against their will.

But for now the “Pledge” appears to me to be a positive, timely, and possibly brilliant idea from the unfairly-maligned Republican Party. I hope it leads to a lot of success. Republicans need to regain power soon because our country is headed in exactly the wrong direction in too many ways. Democrats don’t have and won’t get the answers.

[1] Richard E. Cohen, Jake Sherman, and Jonathan Allen, “‘Pledge to America’ promises fight, gridlock” 09/23/2010, Politico.

[2] The Editors, “We’ll Take the Pledge,” 09/22/2010, National Review Online.

[3] Eric Erickson, “Perhaps the Most Ridiculous Thing to Come Out of Washington Since George McClellan,” 09/22/2010, RedState.com.

Photo: House Republican Leader John Boehner, official portrait, via Wikipedia.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some Comments on President Obama’s Cleveland Speech on the Economy

In this article, I am commenting on some of the things President Barack Obama said in his September 8, 2010 speech in Cleveland, Ohio (more precisely, Parma, Ohio). Lest his remarks be taken uncritically, I have tried to provide some counterpoint. The President’s statements are in bold and everything else is not in bold. [1]

Instead of coming together like past generations did to build a better country for our children and grandchildren, their argument is that we should let insurance companies go back to denying care for folks who are sick, or let credit card companies go back to raising rates without any reason.  Instead of setting our sights higher, they’re asking us to settle for a status quo of stagnant growth and eroding competitiveness and a shrinking middle class.

The argument is that we should not have socialized medicine, and while the insurance industry regulations need to be revisited, it was not necessary, and it is an unwise policy to replace the entire health care structure. Most Americans agree with this. Obama’s and liberals’ answer to everything is more government control and/or more government spending. I haven’t heard any conservatives “asking us to settle for a status quo of stagnant growth and eroding competitiveness and a shrinking middle class.” Those are precisely the things Obamanomics are bringing us through higher taxes, over-regulation, bailouts and government takeovers. If government would simply get out of the way, a free market would very soon restore prosperity.

“Past generations” felt compelled to support the big government policies of FDR during the Great Depression, which vastly expanded government size and power, and contributed to worsening and prolonging the Depression. (See my previous article here.)

With all the other budgetary pressures we have – with all the Republicans’ talk about wanting to shrink the deficit – they would have us borrow $700 billion over the next 10 years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 each to folks who are already millionaires.  And keep in mind wealthy Americans are just about the only folks who saw their incomes rise when Republicans were in charge.  And these are the folks who are less likely to spend the money – which is why economists don’t think tax breaks for the wealthy would do much to boost the economy.

“Economists” in that last sentence must refer to Keynesian economists who think the only solution to our economic problems involve massive government spending. Obama shows his narrow outlook on this situation when he says the wealthy are “less likely to spend the money.” If they did receive a continuation of the Bush tax cuts, they would be very likely to spend the money on business investment that would create jobs.

How they can still get people to believe the following myths is somewhat surprising:

Myth #1: The Bush tax cuts decreased, and continuation of them would decrease revenues to the government. Not so. Check tax cuts back to JFK, Reagan, and Bush, and you will find that revenues to the government increased under these tax cuts. Revenues would increase again if all the Bush tax cuts were extended. Boehner’s suggestion of extending all the Bush tax cuts for two years, and rolling back spending to 2008 levels, would produce a substantial improvement quickly. If businesses knew their tax rates were frozen for two years, they would feel free to expand and hire.

Myth #2: Increasing taxes on the wealthy does not harm others in society. Not so. Increasing taxes on the wealthy equals increasing taxes on those who are in a position to provide jobs, if the economy encouraged it. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show clearly that this isn’t happening now. Obama’s argument appeals mainly to class envy.

This isn’t to punish folks who are better off –- God bless them.  It’s because we can’t afford the $700 billion price tag... And for those who claim that our approach would somehow be bad for growth and bad for small businesses, let me remind you that with those tax rates in place, under President Clinton, this country created 22 million jobs and raised incomes and had the largest surplus in our history.

Jobs were created and the surpluses happened after Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994. Clinton and Gore got on board with this reality, announcing that “the era of big government is over,” something that Obama would never do. For him, the era of big government is just beginning. And, punishing some of the wealthy by redistributing some of their wealth would please Obama.

As Jake Tapper of ABC News reported,
The president defined the Republican economic philosophy as, “Cut taxes, especially for millionaires and billionaires.  Cut regulations for special interests.  Cut trade deals even if they didn’t benefit our workers.  Cut back on investments in our people and our future.” [2]
“Millionaires, billionaires, and special interests” means employers, whose wealth and income Obama wants to redistribute. Of course, here, as elsewhere, when Obama says “investment,” he means “government spending.”

Also,
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement pushed back against Mr. Obama’s speech.
“If the President wanted to have an immediate impact on hiring, he could begin by changing his mind and announcing today his opposition to the job-killing tax hikes on small businesses,” McConnell said, “ America’s job creators have already been hit with higher health care costs and related taxes, new bureaucracy and a financial regulation bill. Americans want jobs, not more government, more debt and more taxes. Let’s start today with a declarative statement against tax hikes on the small businesses that are critical to expand and create jobs.” [3]
And, Obama would have us believe that it’s somehow John Boehner’s fault that our economy is in such dreadful condition.

The President derided House Minority Leader John Boehner as representing simply saying “no” to Obama’s policies without proposing any positive steps to helping the economy. Not true, of course, but the “no” aspect is valuable too. As one of Jake Tapper’s commenters said,
No is a pretty sound position when the nation is careening off a cliff in massive debt.
America is on a path to bankruptcy. This is no longer news and no longer debatable. What remains in question is, what are we going to do about it? [4]
Interestingly, The Hill is reporting today (09/08/2010) that momentum is building for extending all the Bush tax cuts, since the President avoided a direct veto threat, and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) expressed support for extending them:
Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), a centrist who has been a key vote on several Obama administration initiatives, said Thursday that he supports extending all of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts until the economic recovery has taken root. Raising taxes on wealthier taxpayers could hurt the economy, he said…. 
Tax policy experts expect Congress to approve an extension of all of the Bush-era rates in a lame-duck session after the elections. [5]
This could make Obama’s argument a moot point, which would be good news. Also, that's the only good argument I've heard for having a lame-duck session. The Democrats are trying to figure out something to help the economy before the elections (such as announcing this?), and they know that Obama’s policies aren't working.

The past several months have helped many Americans gain perspective on Obama’s policies. People who previously had little desire to follow day-to-day politics now find that they must pay closer attention, because these things hit them in the pocket book, lessen their freedom, and weaken the nation. After Election Day, it appears that Obama’s party will be less powerful in Congress.


[1] Items in bold are from “Remarks by the President on the Economy in Parma, Ohio,” 09/08/2010, WhiteHouse.gov.

[2] Jake Tapper, “Still Fear vs. Hope? Obama Attacks John Boehner, GOP’s Economic Vision,” 09/08/2010, ABC News, Political Punch.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Commenter “Skip” at Tapper article 09/08/2010. See [2].


[5] Vicki Needham and Ian Swanson, “Momentum builds for extending all of President Bush’s tax cuts,” 09/09/10, The Hill, On the Money blog.


Photo: Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, official portrait, via Wikipedia.